Tuesday, December 30, 2003


(new posting coming soon!)

- A very special Happy New Year to Nathan and Judi.

Thursday, December 18, 2003


NEW YORK - "Look, at this. You won’t believe this," the startingly true email began, "if you type in the name "Chaim" into Microsoft Word, you will get the red squiggly line under the name. Which means it is spelled wrong. The reality is that it is the right way to spell "Chaim." We cannot stand idly by. We must react to Microsoft Word’s anti-Semitism."

This email reached Jews all over the world through a successful mass emailing. It was started by Chaim Levine of Brooklyn, New York. "I couldn’t stand constantly seeing that my name is spelled wrong. Who are they to tell me that? I know how to spell my name!" Arye Frankel felt very much the same. "When I saw this email, I knew it was time to react. Not only is my first name supposedly spelled wrong but purportedly, so is my last name. This is an atrocity."

The ADL came out with a statement just the other day recognizing the prejudices of spellcheck. "We spoke with them about Word ’94 but the problem had not been resolved with Word ’98 or Word XP. We have to gather together and stand up against Microsoft Word and their anti-Semitic propaganda. In the meantime, we must return to using pen and paper. We must show them that we do not need a computer to be lawyers, accountants and financial bankers."

When Microsoft was reached for comment, they denied all accusations. "We never intended for any of this. It’s just coincidental that Spell Check picks up on Jewish names. Look, I'm a Christian from Newport, Idaho. I have never heard the name "Yankel" or "Fischel." But er sre resolving my shortcoming. We now have a staff of twelve Hasidic Jews working on the new Microsoft Word to include Jewish names like "Heimy", "Shayndel and “Chezkkie�. Thank you for your patience."

But patience is just what the Jewish people have run out of. "I have written my name over and over again," said an aggrevated Batsheva, " just trying to figure out the right correction. But nothing will appease the unappeasable Spell Check. I try but it does not stop." Some have adapted and changed their lives to fit in with the guidelines of Spell Check. "For years, I was "Akiva" but now, I must hide my Jewish name and go with "Albert." It is a name I can finally spell correctly." Rabbis everywhere fear this is just the beginning. "I have one of my synagogue members who married a non-Jewish lady because he was so embarrassed by his misspelled name. This honestly could be the cause of the next mass assimilation." Incidentally, Rabbi Max Stern is spelled correctly. He does not suffer like the others.

One would think in America, the land of freedom and opportunity, we would not have to worry about these things. One would think that we would not be shunned for the way we spell our name. Our Jewish name, our given name. After all this is America, a name that does not have the stigma of a red squiggly line underneath it.

This has been reporting by Arye Dworken, spelled incorrectly.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003


Nada Surf’s new album is called Let Go. As in; you should.
It’s a telling name because it’s been almost seven years since their hit, "Popular," ruled the "alternative college scene" but the press still brings up the haphazard hit repeatedly. Just as I have done now.

After all, it’s been seven long years of bands that have come and gone. Seven years of albums that have been repeatedly played and then forgotten (or sold to used record stores for, like, $3). Seven years of radio-declared wonders, then never to be heard from again. But like an elephant that could carry a tune, we’ve never forgotten the song that’s more or less accomplished for Nada Surf the opposite of its title. Chances are the "unpopular" band’s raison d’rock etre is playing in your head right now as you read this ("I’m a quaterback/I’m popular…"). And as we’ve learned from our healthy dose of VH1’s "Where Are They Now?" there isn’t much hope of recovering from One-Hit Wonderland. In fact, it’s…errr…a one way trip.

But then came the Proximity Effect; an underrated album so ignored that it pretty much saw less activity than I did the summer I joined the Debate team. The album, a more refined version than their first (High/Low) displayed their peanut-buttery thick pop sensibilities with guitar chops that would essentially make Bruce Lee green with envy...that is, if he wasn’t dead. But no matter how strong the album was, the kids just didn’t care enough to buy it and both the album and the band were dumped from their major label, Elektra. Now Matthew Caws and Co. were back to where they started: an obscure indie rock band from New York City.

But after listening to Let Go, it’s obvious that their return to un-stardom worked in their favor because sometimes being a nobody is inspiring (I should know). Living in the depths of obscurity made the unfortunately-named trio, hungrier, meaner, and more vengeful. They recorded Let Go to show the nay-sayers and the label suits that they’re capable of bringin’ music strong enough for a man but still made for a woman. That being said, this won’t be the album that makes Nada Surf the proverbial popular quarterback again because while this effort is one of the best albums this year by any band, Pop Culture 101 stipulates that their time in the sun is up. But if that means that they’ll get to record albums like this, then I wish them many more years of obscurity.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003


I'm having a really bad hair day.

Not the kind of thing I like to admit out loud because of the repercussions involved in doing so. People will think that I am either vain, gay or a metrosexual. And truthfully, I am none of the three...although, I have to admit that I have been attracted to large metropolitan cities.

It's a shame about the hair. It's unfortunate that it had to happen on a day like today considering the outcome of the Average Joe show. [Warning: if you have taped the show and have not seen it yet, then I should warn you that in this posting I will reveal that the average guy lost] While I was not a devoted watcher of the show--I merely dabbled in the "Average"--I was hopeful that finally we would see on television before millions and millions of people that personality is more important than looks. Finally, the average lot of us (aren't we the majority?) will feel vindicated at last for all the times we have been told "look, Arye, I really want to be friends." As the season progressed, watchers were getting bored. I mean, if you wanted to see a bunch of regular-looking guys courting an extremely hot girl beyond their range, then you could just head to a bar. Any bar, really. Just pick one. [For the record, I did not think that Melena was so drop dead gorgeous. In fact, in many ways she was pretty boring and cliché]

So the execs at NBC introduced the "hot guys," who were pretty cheesy looking (Muensterish) and used more hair gel than Richard Greico ever did. The show and its premise were downhill from there and also all too predictable. I knew, without the assistance of a time machine or Miss Cleo, that one of the "hot guys" would win. And then, paradoxically, my biggest fear would be confirmed--the one that was in complete contrast to the high hopes this show had initially given me. Despite Adam's wealth (the penultimate contestant and the last average guy) his sense of humor, his genuine personality, he still lost. What we've learned is that Adam could afford to buy himself a girlfriend but he still couldn't win one. Jason, "the hot guy" and winner, on the other hand, seems more at place in the window of an Express store, lives at home with his parents, waits on tables and is going back to college to earn a degree. Moreover, Jason is a dork. I know a million guys like Jason and they all commute into NYC from Long Island in wife-beaters. Melena, who had the powerful potential of changing a rampant trend right before a mass audience, failed us miserably. She could have served as an incredible example to shallow people everywhere. Gosh, she could have made history. Instead she made her face with make-up.

Interestingly enough, one of Melena's final comments truly disturbed and was uncannily telling. "He's not only gorgeous, he's also sincere." That statement implies an element of surprise, as if Melena had gotten more than she expected and a bonus by choosing a Sincere Jason (hey kids, there's also a Ballroom Jason and a Rollerblading Jason and there's Beach Jason...). In other words, Melena had chosen a cute guy that was super nice on the eyes. When she found a minor redeeming quality like his sincere sincerity (an act?), she convinced herself that this was a relationship worth investing in. But wait a second; wasn't Adam sincere, as well? Or better yet, did that matter?

Culturally, I think this decision and insight into the decision-making process is huge. As a man, I have always known that my fellow primates expect less from a "hot" girl. We don't expect her to intellectualize, pontificate, or even read. Thanks to the "Average Joe" and Melena, we now know that it works both ways. That looking for a potential mate is actually a two way street called Superficial Drive.

As harsh as it seems, we need to admit this: No, it's not the sense of humor. No, it's not the warm sincerity. No, it's not the honesty and integrity. And it sure as hell isn't the close relationship you have with your mother, either. It's looks. It's all looks. We've been had. Women everywhere have lied.

And to be honest, I'm not even going to bother fixing my hair today.

Monday, December 08, 2003

I am temping today at Field & Stream Magazine and there are dead deer heads hung up on the walls. And all I can think about as I sit here at this cublicle is, lucky them.

Thursday, December 04, 2003


Being a regular girl was not easy for Julie. She always saw herself as average. And no one ever really notices the average, especially not the guys. It’s like the pile of laundry in the corner – just there. I mean, when was the last time someone really went nuts over vanilla ice cream? Julie wondered. Or when did someone ever say let’s go see that movie again because it was just ok? Being Julie Frankel would make an incredibly boring biography. She was born. Then she grew up. Got braces. Turned sixteen. Took the PSAT’s. The end.

And what made matters worse was that she couldn’t get excited about the things she should be excited about. There was that *NSYNC special on VH1 that she – yawn – slept through. Then there was that movie with Julia Stiles that she didn’t really get. Wasn’t it exactly the same as the last one Julia was in? What is wrong with me? she asked herself often in the mirror. Am I a teenager or am I possessed by a really boring adult?

Julie sat at the dinner table, flipping through some teen girl magazine despite her parent’s insistence to put it away. "Blah blah blah" was all she saw. Not "how to make your boyfriend happy." And not the article on how blondes really do have more fun. Because none of them applied to her. She did not have a boyfriend, and she was not a blonde. She was just a boyfriend-less brunette.

Julie searched through her older brother’s CD collection to find something to listen to. He had turned her on to some really great bands but mostly stuff her friends called "weeeeird."
She took out a Radiohead CD and put it on. Something appropriate for staying home and doing homework.
And then the phone rang.
"Hello," Julie answered.
"Hi, can I speak to Sarah?" said the voice on the other line.
"Sarah? I think you have the wrong number." Julie was sure that a "Sarah" did not live in her house.
"Is this 555-7566?" asked the guy on the other side of the phone.
"Yes it is, but still there’s no Sarah here."
"Oh, ok," said the guy, "I could’ve sworn this was her number. She wrote it down and everything…I’m sorry to bother you."
"…Uhhh…no problem," Julie reassured him.
And with that the guy with the wrong number hung up.

Julie came to school late the next day because she had had a doctor’s appointment. She really hated that she still went to her pediatrician because all he had to read in the waiting room was Highlights.

She decided she should miss more class and went straight into the bathroom. After all, she had a doctor’s note without a specific return time written on it. This was the high school equivalency of a winning lottery ticket. As she entered the stall and locked the graffiti-full door she overheard two girls walk in.

"…So, then he asked me for my number," one girl said to her friend, "and I wasn’t going to give him my real number."
"Oh, my God. I cannot believe he had the nerve to ask you out. You, Sarah Martin of all people."
"I know. So I gave him some random number. Just off the top of my head. Like I changed the last number of my digits or something."

Sarah. Random number. Julie was putting it all together now. Could it be that the guy who called last night was the same guy this Sarah had blown off? It must be. Sarah. Random number. Yes, it must be. Julie was angry. She was angry because someone like Sarah had done something like this. She was angry on the behalf of that guy, wherever he was.
"I just hope he learned his lesson," Sarah continued, "I don’t date losers."

Julie wanted to see who this girl was. Look her in the face. Confront her like a vigilante who was fighting for justice. But her stall had no toilet paper. She frantically searched through her bag for a tissue. Nothing. She looked under the stall to see if she had any neighbors. Nobody. And then she heard Sarah walk out.

"Whoa, we are like so late for Algebra II," Sarah announced to her friend, "let’s go."

After Julie had embarrassed herself by waiting for someone to come into the bathroom, she wandered the halls with a doctor’s note still open for use. Like an all day ski pass. For some strange reason, she was compelled to find Sarah Martin in her Algebra II class. Maybe it was because she was tired of being unexciting or maybe it was that she understood that guy’s humiliation. Class 11C was in Algebra II now. The school secretary had told her that they were in Room 1012. She was like a girl possessed. Julie had never felt so compelled to act on someone’s behalf. But it pissed her off that a pretty girl could take advantage of other people. That is just not cool.

She walked up to room 1012 and knocked on the door.
She breathed in deep and walked in.
"Excuse me, but the office needs Sarah Martin," Julie mustered up her best acting performance.
"Do you have a note?" asked the teacher.
"Uhhh….no." Think fast, Sarah told herself. Think fast. "It was an emergency so the secretary said she needed her right away. She didn’t have time to write one."
"Ok. This time. But tell Mrs. Kimmel that I will not allow anyone to leave without a note. ….Sarah?"
And Sarah got up and headed to the door. Yes, Julie noted that she was indeed beautiful. She understood what Embarrassed had seen in her. She looked like she should be on a television show. Not just a WB television show but on a major network like ABC.
They walked out together.

"Is everything ok?" Sarah asked, genuinely concerned. Julie did not want to scare her. But she couldn’t tell her the truth, either.
"Yes, everything’s cool."
"So, what did Mrs. Kimmel want?"
"I’m not sure really," Julie was impressed with her own performance. The school play would be lucky to have her. "Hey," Julie continued, "can I ask you something?"
"Sure," said Sarah as they walked the long hall to the school office.
"A guy asked you for your number the other day. Do you know who he was?"
Sarah was taken aback. "How do you know about that?"
"I was sitting near you," Julie responded.
"In the lunchroom?" Sarah asked.
"Yeah, in the lunchroom."
"I dunno. Just some guy. Why is this your business?"
"Because you gave him my phone number."
"I gave him your number." Sarah laughed hard an evil laugh. "That’s so funny. I wondered what happened. Was he embarrassed?"
"Some loser from 11D. I think his name is Josh Something. I can’t remember the last name. Wait, no…it was Flem. Yeah, Flem. I remember thinking, God that’s a horrible last name. I can’t believe that it was your number."
"Yes. It was…well, here’s the school office," Julie had heard what she needed. Now she knew Embarrassed’s name. "See ya’. I hope everything is ok."

She left Sarah in front of the school office. Julie distanced herself from the office quickly before Sarah found out she wasn’t really needed. As she hurried down the hall, she made another stop at room 1012 and walked into Algebra II again.
"Sorry about the intrusion but the school office asked me announce to this class that Sarah Martin has head lice and close contact with her should be avoided."
"Please do not disturb my class with your announcements again but thank you nevertheless," the teacher said and gave her a look.
"You’re welcome," Julie said.
In the back of the class, students began moving away from Sarah’s empty desk.
Julie walked out of room 1012 smiling. That was for Josh Flem, she thought.

The next obvious thing to do was find Josh Flem. Now Embarrassed had a name. Again, Julie had no idea why she felt it was necessary to find him but she was on a mission. Her pulse quickened and her mind raced in a daydreaming marathon. Besides, all this made her feel more than average now. Average people didn’t have missions.

Julie consulted the class schedule on the bulletin board to see where 11D was. Room 2033, Biology and the class was over in five minutes. She ran to room 2033 and anxiously waited outside for the remaining three and a half minutes. What would she say to him? How would she start the conversation? It was all so weird. Too weird. I should just go to my next period, she thought. But the doctor’s note in her pocket told her to stick it out. Just see what he looks like.

The bell rang. Julie’s heart leapt like a vaulter in the summer Olympics.
Class 11D poured out and Julie looked for someone she knew.
"Hey, Melissa," she called. Melissa had once hung out with her in the mall.
"Hey, Julie. What’s up?"
"Do you know a guy named Josh Flem?"
"Of course I do. He sits right near me in English."
Fantastic. She knows him.
"But he’s absent today. I hear he has a stomach flu."

After not having a boyfriend for so long, Julie was used to disappointment. She walked into the cafeteria for lunch where they were serving lasagna and peas. She grabbed a tray and sat down with her friends, Tom, Joanna, and Lisa.

"Where have you been?" Lisa asked, "I haven’t seen you all day."
"Doctor’s appointment," Julie answered.
And at that exact moment, Julie spotted Sarah Martin walking her way. Oh my God! Julie freaked out. Don’t make a scene, she reminded herself. Don’t make a scene.
She quickly ducked under the table pretending to look for something.
"Are you okay down there?" Tom laughed. "Girl, you don’t need a doctor, you need a therapist."
From under the table, Julie hit Tom’s leg. "Don’t talk to me. Seriously," she half-whispered, half-yelled. She waited until Sarah walked by.
"…And the office didn’t even need me," she overheard Sarah say, "and no one in the class will come near me now. I really don’t get it. What is going on in this place today?"
Julie felt a pang of guilt. She had to remind herself that Sarah deserved this. After all, did she care about Josh?
She got back up after Sarah had passed and looked behind her. Sarah Martin was leaving the cafeteria. Julie was safe for now.
"What was that about?" Tom laughed while the others giggled. They were used to the unusual stunts of Julie Frankel but sometimes they still had to ask.

It was finally time to head back to class. She had avoided it long enough. Besides, Josh Flem was absent that day. There was no reason to stick around the halls for Sarah Martin to find her.

She headed back to the school office to hand in her doctor’s note and get a late admittance.
She sat down in the office’s waiting chair. It seemed that they were really busy at the moment.

"No, no one in 11C has head lice," Mrs. Kimmel said over the phone, "and if they did, we would have sent them home. So, please don’t worry about your child."
While Mrs. Kimmel comforted concerned parents about an outbreak of lice, a guy walked in and sat next to Julie. She couldn’t help but notice that he was incredibly cute in a thrift shop kind-of-way and that she had never seen him before.

"What are you waiting for?" said the guy.
"I’m waiting for a…" Julie got nervous around cute guys. She couldn’t remember the words "late" and "pass."
"…A late pass?" he said back.
"Yeah." I’m such a dork, she thought.

He smiled at her. And he began to talk about why he was late. Julie wasn’t paying attention to the words coming out of his mouth. Just his mouth and how it moved when he spoke. Each word came with an accompanied smirk. How forward would it be if I asked him out, she wondered. He would so say "no." After all, I’m just average.
"What’s your name?" he asked.
"Oh, hi. I’m…"
"Who needs a late note?" Mrs. Kimmel interrupted.
"I think we both do," cute guy spoke on their behalf, "right, Julie?
"Ok, names please." Mrs. Kimmel was always quick and to the point.
"Julie Frankel, Class 11A."
"And I’m Josh Flem, Class 11D."
Oh. My. God. This is Josh Flem.

They both received their respective late passes and left the office. They walked down the hall together and had the nicest three-minute conversation Julie had ever had. He flirted with her and she was equally flirtatious. They both liked Radiohead.

Before Josh walked into his class, he turned to her in ever so smoothly and said, "hey, Julie, would you like to…uhh…hang out some time?"
"Yeah, I would really love that."
"Ok, cool. Lemme get your number."
"No, you don’t have to," Julie said beaming, "you already have it."


Tuesday, December 02, 2003


Dearest Jesus,

I hope you are well. I am currently wrapping up my movie about your last day as a mortal. I think it's an impressive movie. I'm certain you'll enjoy it. Now, I want you know something because we're friends: you may hear things in the papers about the movie being slightly anti-Semitic. And I wanted to address that right away being that I try to be as open as possible when it comes to our relationship. Truthfully, I have nothing against the Jewish people. I just think that this whole Hollywood take-over is freaking me out. I needed to take a stand against it and the only way to do that was to blame your death on them. Dig?

Yours forever,


Dear Mel,

Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. What's with all this death talk, kid? My "last day as a mortal?" Eeeeeasy there. In the oh-so-eloquent of Arnold Jackson, whatcha talkin' abowt, Mel?

I am very much alive and well and living in Palm Springs where the temperature is a very comfortable 78 degrees and rising. In fact, right now I'm watching Comedy Central and there's this dang McDonald's campaign again with that crappy jingle "I'm lovin' it." Uch. It's so annoying it makes me want to turn water into wine or something drastic like that.

So enough of this me-being-dead talk. It makes me very uncomfortable. It's enough to creep out the son of God. Yes, even me.

And another thing, Mel, I'm not sure if you know this but news update, Kronkite: I am Jewish. Straight up, dawg. Circumcised, l'chaim drinking, matzah chewing, Shalom-greeting Jew. I hate to break it to you but look here; we are all not responsible for the buying out of Hollywood. Take my cousin Marty, for example. He owns a significant share of the Upper East Side in Manhattan. Doesn't even have a blade of grass to his name in Hollywood. Talk about debunking a myth!

It is good to hear from you, though, but ease up on the playa hatin.' Take it from me, your friendly Jesus. It gets you nowhere.

Word up,


Sweet Jesus,

O' Lord, thank you for your prompt response. I am humbled by your letter even though it was not exactly what I was expecting.

Needless to say, I did not know you were alive. I thought you were here on our good Earth showing us the glory of God in a reincarnated state. I haven't been this shocked or confused since What A Woman Wants was not nominated for an Academy Award (perhaps another sign that there is a prejudice in Hollywood against me and my free-thinking ways).

Here is my problem, Jesus. And maybe you can help me out here. I have invested so much money and time into my project that if the masses found out that you are still alive and living in....er, Palm Springs, my movie would be doomed for sure. If you could keep a low profile at least until it comes out on DVD (if you would be interested in adding a commentary track, let me know), I would most appreciate it.

Humbly yours,



J here. Sup?

I take it back about the McDonald's campaign. The Herbal Essence commercials are so much more annoying.

Peace. My old lady, Mary, is calling me,


My Savior,

My deepest and heartfelt apologies for not writing sooner. I have been so busy with scribing the accurate story of your final day and with the Jewish media down my back, it has been progressively difficult.

Sometimes, I think about how you and I are really not that different. To an extent, we both fought for what we believe in. For you, it was your beliefs and your ideals and for me, it was petitioning for another Lethal Weapon (4, which is unarguably the best one). The sacrifice that we make. Heck, I feel like I'm getting crucified on a daily basis. People just don't understand us. I go through life being just as passionate as you were. I try to be the best example I can be. I want everyone to see this movie and experience, on a literal level, what your life was like and your persecution. But on a metaphorical level, I want them to understand me and my long and winding road full of truth and religion.

Please write me back with your guidance. I could use it more than ever.

At your feet,


Mel -

You're totally bumming me out here. What did I tell you about the dead-stuff? Knock it off. And I'm also pretty sure I told you not to do Lethal Weapon 4. But you didn't listen to me. No, you had to do it. And you brought Chris Rock down with you.

You just suck.


PS did you say "scribing" in your last letter? Who do you think you are? Moses?


My King, My Father,

This is the last letter I will be able to write to you before the premiere of the movie. I have enclosed two tickets for the showing. Feel free to bring a loved one or a friend or God. I would be more than appreciative if you could make it. Obviously, it would mean so much to me to have Jesus at the premiere. Talk about your good press! Jesus, I only ask that you wear a tuxedo for this event because it is black-tie only.

And I truly apologize if this offends you, but no sandals, either. Thank you.

Your humble servant,



No sandals, no Jesus.

I ain't coming to your stupid movie. Besides, I hear that the dialogue is in Latin. Have you lost your mind? I have a hard enough time watching a movie from England.