Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #139 (5/8/16) – DONALD TRUMP

Airs May 7, 2016 on Dave’s Gone By.  Youtube clip: https://youtu.be/UcZDJBjwbW8

Shalom Dammit!  This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of May 8, 2016.

Just over a year ago, I did a Rabbinical Reflection about the 2016 presidential candidates for the Republican Party.  There were a dozen and a half of them—remember?  Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Scott Walker—a veritable who’s who of who’s hooligans.

Almost as an aside, I included the candidacy of Donald Trump.  I said, and I quote, “Donald Trump, who went bankrupt three times and yet brands himself as a financial genius.  Donald Trump, who has a magnificent knack for self-promotion but spends money he doesn’t have like it’s going out of style—why isn’t he running as a Democrat?”

The idea of Donald Drumpf actually getting traction as a viable candidate, and the thought that more than a few flakes would vote for this narcissistic, self-aggrandizing Oompa Loompa was downright comical.  And even if he did ride the cult of celebrity for awhile, you had fifteen other G.O.P. hopefuls with their own deluded followers.  But then America happened.  And the people rejected Chris Christie and his highway robbery.  They rejected Marco Rubio the wind-up doll.  They rejected Ben Carson, who didn’t need anaesthesia during heart surgery because he could put patients to sleep just by talking to them.

By the time the conservative muckymucks realized that Donald Trump was not just
a fad but a movement—and I don’t just mean the kind of movement I have every other morning if I’m lucky and drink my prune juice—by the time the powers that be of the G.O.P. realized their conservative groundswell was getting dug up by a real-estate developer, it was too late to stop him.

My God, their best shot was Ted Cruz, a man who couldn’t find one person to like him—even when he was looking in the mirror.  Ted Cruz was a dyed-in-the-wool conservative, vehemently pro-Israel (God bless him for that), and seemingly in line with everything the Republican party wanted to roll back from the last eight years.  And yet, not a single soul in the House or Senate wanted to work with him.  Former speaker of the house John Boehner called Ted Cruz, quote, “Lucifer in the flesh!” and “the most miserable son of a bitch” he ever worked with, unquote.  This from Boehner, a man who always behaved like he had a stick so far up his tushie, you could see splinters on his uvula.

And yet, this loathed and despised senator, Ted Cruz, was the Republicans’ last hope of putting one of their boys into the White House.  Oh, wait, I’m forgetting about John Kasich.  Because we all forgot about John Kasich.  The past three months, he should have just changed his name to something Chinese, like: “Oh Him Too.”  Especially since his name was on ballots like those restaurants in Chinatown that keep items like putrefied eggs and pig bladders on the menu even though no one in their right minds would order them.

To be fair, Kasich seemed like he had a brilliant strategy compared to go-for-broke losers like Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz.  Why spend money?  Why knock yourself out in races you can’t individually win?  Just keep treading water, don’t make waves, and when it’s time for the contested convention, make your perfect dive.  What Kasich didn’t realize is that voters saw through his shabby chicanery with Cruz and voted straight up for the man who wasn’t endorsed by the party, wasn’t owned by the Koch brothers, and wasn’t a career politician.

So when the dust settled last week, and the delegate votes were counted, the only candidate with a clear mandate was the one with the cloudiest agenda: Donald Trump.  The clown had become the clown prince.  This despite—or maybe because of—his penchant for school-bully insults and his crazy, off-the-cuff statements about the Klan and Mexicans and ugly women and pretty women being punished for their abortions.  They used to call Reagan the Teflon president because everything stupid slid off him.  Well, Trump is Teflon sprayed with Pam, coated with goose grease, and dipped in K.Y. Jelly.  Whatever he says, his followers counter with, “He really speaks his mind” or “well, he may say one thing, but we know what he really means.”  Do we?

Look, I’m the first to admit—or, if not the first, maybe the 12,030th—to admit that Donald Trump’s wildcard, shoot-from-the-lip status has a visceral appeal.  If the two parties running, and usually ruining, the country for the past 30 years don’t approve, he must be good, right?  And being a great persuader, he appeals to our emotions—unlike Hilary, who appeals to, well, not even her husband.

But let’s not forget that Donald Trump is a man who promises a robust job market, and yet he grew famous from a TV show on which he fired everyone!  This is a man who used to be pro-choice, but when he becomes a Republican, hup!, he suddenly turns anti-abortion.  This is a man who vows to fix the country’s troubles by collaborating with the best and brightest, but he couldn’t even find enough intelligent minds to teach in a bogus university.  This is a man who wants to keep out immigrants, unless they’re six feet tall, anorexic, and look good on a bearskin rug.  This is a man who wants to help the little guy, by building casinos to take their money and hotel rooms that only movie stars can afford.

In other words, the wizard behind the curtain has done very, very well for himself.  For others?  Not so much.  For better or worse, we’ve spent the last eight years led by a community organizer who, perhaps naively, thought he could bring everyone together to solve problems.  Are we now ready, instead, for a semi-benevolent dictator who thinks he knows everything and whose answer for every crisis is, “It’ll be amazing.  It’ll be beautiful.  Believe me.”

We’d like to believe you, Donald.  We’d like to believe in something.  But 240 years of politics, not to mention the Bernie Sanders campaign, have taught us the futility of belief.  And I’m a Rabbi saying this!  So if the votes are counted on November 8th, and America chooses the bloviating, thoughtless TV star over the jilted, calumniating harridan, all we can do is what we always do every four years on January 20th: pray.

This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches, in Great Neck, New York.  .

(c) 2016 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.


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Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #138 (4/24/16) – SHMURA MATZOHS

Aired April 23, 2016 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube clip: https://youtu.be/9e-dOyy_cQA

Shalom Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of April 24, 2016.

Among the great inventions of mankind are the wheel, the lever, the polio vaccine, and the computer microchip. But let’s not leave out one of my favorite all-time creations. Something so simple yet so perfectly imperfect. Something both great and crummy — pun intended.

You take flour and water, mix them together, roll it flat flat flat—flatter than a ten-year-old’s training bra—poke the dough with tiny holes, and push it into a super-hot, dry oven. After a couple of agonizing minutes, shazam! Matzoh! Somehow, this flour-and-water combo doesn’t turn into pita bread, it doesn’t become olive loaf, it doesn’t blossom into a Pepperidge Farm cookie. It just stays matzoh, and that’s good enough for me. Almost.

See, you can get Streit’s or Horowitz-Margareten or Manischewitz and other commercial brands of matzoh, and they’ll get you through the Passover holiday just fine. You make matzoh brei, where you dip it in egg; you can crumble it and make matzoh meal pancakes, which iHop would not be remiss in adding to their international breakfasts. Dear God, they make chocolate-covered matzoh, which sounds gross, but hey, if they can do it with crickets and bumble bees, why not the bread of affliction? (Chocolate-covered matzoh is not to be confused, by the way, with chocolate matzoh, which is just a giant chocolate bar made into the shape of a matzoh. In other words, a thousand times better. Chocolate-covered matzoh is to chocolate matzoh as a gold-plated watch is to a Rolex. If you promise your grandchildren chocolate matzoh, but you give them the chocolate covered, don’t expect them to visit you in the nursing home years later.)

But I digress. Matzoh is a tasty, non-nutritional but sustaining food meant to remind us of the bread our ancestors ate when they high-tailed it out of Egypt. `Cuz when you’re leavin’ hasty, you ain’t got time for pastry.

However, my reflection today is not just about matzoh; it’s about a special version of matzoh. The platinum standard, if you will. And I will. When I’m conducting a seder, or kicking back watchin’ baseball during chol hamoed, I want me some shmura matzoh! That’s the stuff! That’s the bread of affection! It’s the same flour and water, the same procedures. But with shmura matzoh, the harvested grain is guarded from the very first second it’s plucked to the moment the Rabbi slides it and its compadres out of the oven.

Shmura matzoh is the ultimate homemade bread. No machines, no slicer cutting the edges into right angles. No opening a box where every piece looks like a ceiling tile in a suburban office. Shmuras are individually mixed, rolled, and baked. And they don’t look beautiful or symmetrical. They’re lumpy, they’re brittle, often overcooked, and the burnt parts are all over the place. In fact, shmura matzohs are so ugly, they could replace Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill.

But oy my God, are they delicious! There’s something so real and so pure about them. Everything else you get in the store is machine-pressed, dye-cut, flushed with preservatives, and so far away from actual food, you’re not even sure what the hell you’re eating. With shmura matzoh you taste three things: flour, water, and Rabbi sweat.

Now there’s all sorts of hoo-ha/doo-dah rules about using shmura matzohs. You’re supposed to eat them only at the seder and no other time — not even the rest of the holiday. I’m sorry, but at $17 a box with six pieces of bread in it, I’ll eat it on Christmas if I want to. Also, since the matzoh is utilized during the seder ceremony — including breaking it for the afikomen, the bread has to be complete, unbroken. You think it was tough for the Jews to cross the Nile out of Egypt? Try getting a one-millimeter cracker from a Brooklyn factory to a Staten Island dinner table without having a few oopsies.

Still, it’s worth it because shmura matzohs are the bomb. Yes, they’re impossible to butter, and they don’t actually break in half; they splinter — leaving shards of crumbs everywhere you look. But I don’t care; their deliciousness trumps all. I mean, on Passover, we have to eat raw horseradish, and then we have to take yummy charoset and ruin it by mixing it with horseradish, and then for eight days: no pizza, no pretzels, no ravioli, no danish, no muffins, no waffles, no wafers, no hoagies, no heroes, no oatmeal, no beer. So if I want a piece of homecooked unleavened bread that looks like a manhole cover but tastes like Judaism, I will seek no further than shmura matzohs. Mmm mmm flavorless — and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches, in Great Neck, New York. A zissen Pesach to ya.

(c) 2016 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.


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Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #137 (3/6/16) – ASTRONAUT SCOTT KELLY

Aired March 5, 2016 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mj5FFhOV0iY

Shalom Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of March 6th, 2016.

Lost in all the hoopla of the primaries and the caucuses and the polls and the insults—and Donald Trump having his pole insulted—is another news story: a happy one, one that should make America proud. No, I’m not talking about Cam Newton getting spanked in the Super Bowl. I’m referring to Scott Kelly, brave American astronaut, who returned to planet earth last week after spending 11 months in outer space.

Think about that. 340 days floating high up in the universe. I can’t spend an hour in TJ Maxx without wanting to bite my own face off, and this guy willingly survives a whole year living in what is essentially a shmekel-shaped motor home.

Why did he do it? Not for personal gain, not to make a million bucks, not to pick up chicks—although I’ve heard the women on Neptune are kinda slutty. No, he did it for science, for the sheer joy of exploration and education. After all, it’s not like Kelly was setting a record. The longest time orbiting away from earth was 438 days by Valeri Polyakov in 1994. And back then, spending a year and a half away from Russia was a plus! Why come home? To see Boris Yeltsin vomit on his shoes? To rejoice when the supermarket has two kinds of toilet paper?

Of course, it’s easy to make fun of the old Soviet Union. “What a country!” See? I just did Yakov Smirnov’s whole act. But we must ask similar questions about astronaut Scott Kelly. He’s been gone since March 27th of last year. What did he miss? Let’s see: The Mayweather/Pacquiao fight. An Amtrak derailment. Cops killing black people. A redneck killing a church full of black people. An Academy Awards full of token black people. San Bernadino. Planned Parenthood. Isis on the warpath, Jon Stewart and David Letterman off the TV, Mets lose the Series, Bowie goes bye-bye, Chipotle gives you diarrhea, mosquitoes give you babies with tiny heads, and Michigan water kills you. Welcome back to earth, Scott Kelly!

Remember that old song, “Eve of Destruction?” Fifty years ago, P.F. Sloan nailed it with his lyrics: “You may leave here for four days in space / But when you return, it’s the same old place.” (Although gas is a little cheaper.) The point is: after all that time in the stratosphere, Scott Kelly comes back to the same crumbling bridges, the same reality shows, the same divided country, the same big blue marble getting knocked away from the center of the universe.

And if you’re wondering just how prescient “Eve of Destruction” was, look at the other lyrics: “Hate your next-door neighbor” – No need to hate; just build a wall to keep them from becoming our dishwashers and fruitpickers. And “don’t forget to say grace”—because Evangelicals have done so much with their prayers to help and unite this country.

As for Scott Kelly, he still has to re-integrate into what we laughingly call “society.” In fact, before he goes home, NASA will study him to suss out the long-term effects of space travel on mental and physical health. The goal is to figure out what shape astronauts might have to be in to go all the way to Mars. Which again goes back to the good side of space travel. Yes, it costs bazillions of dollars that could go to boosting minimum wage. Yes, it sometimes seems the only thing NASA ever gave us was moon rocks and Tang . . . and that psycho-astrogirl who wore a diaper. But learning more about the universe is always good, even if it’s just to discover that Pluto’s been screwing with us and had no intention of being a planet in the first place. And don’t get me started on Uranus. At least not in public.

So baruch hashav, Scott Kelly! Your home state of New Jersey is giving you a ticker tape parade. No, wait, that’s Governor Christie shredding his career.

In his first interview since touching down on terra firma, Kelly said that without question, he would go back into space again. Who knows? He might stay a year, two years up there. And we still won’t have a new Supreme Court justice.

You know what, Scott? If you do go back, take me with you. I can’t cook, I don’t clean, I can’t fix equipment, and I know nothing about the galaxy. But I can count backwards from 10, I can dress as a banana—so if you’ve still got that gorilla suit, there’s tons of levity right there, and I keep shabbos, so you’d have a day of rest after all that scientific record-keeping stuff. And hey, maybe I can help you colonize Mars. After all, President Trump is gonna need somewhere to put all the refugees.

This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches, in Great Neck, New York.

(c) 2016 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.


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Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #136 (2/28/16) – HITLER’S JUNK

Aired Feb. 27, 2016 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NC-ixw96kNI

Shalom Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of February 28th, 2016.

Tyrant. Psychotic. Sociopath. Hypospadius sufferer. Yes, all these adjectives describe the single greatest villain of the previous century: Adolf Hitler. “What is hypospadius?”, I hear you say. Micropenis!

That’s right. The Austrian-born, German chancellor who wanted to rule the world had a teeny, tiny, itsby-bitsy, nearly microscopic shmeckel. Awwww. According to the new book, “Hitler’s Last Day: Minute by Minute”—which should be called “Inch by Inch!”—Der Fuhrer’s frankfurter was so small – “how small was it?” – it was so small, he had to pee sitting down because basically, there was no dick; there was just a hole near the base of his wang.

They call that Penile Hypospadius. Sounds like something you’d name a Greek lawyer but no, it’s a rare condition where the urethra—that little tube that sucks urine and spooge out of the bladder—the urethra opens on the underside of the winkie. In other words, if Adolf were to pish standing up, he’d just be making lemonade in his lederhosen.

And by the way, that longtime rumor has also been proven true: Hitler did have just one testicle. Well, one visible, working testicle. The other just never came down. It was up there, floating behind his belly button, kinda like a yo-yo caught in a tree.

So what does this all mean in terms of who Hitler was and the calamaties he caused? I dunno, but if I got out of the shower every day, looked down and saw a knuckle on the end of my balls, I’d hate the universe, too. It is known that Hitler had strange relationships with women and took all kinds of drugs and treatments to boost his virility. They say he’d even get injections of bull semen. Go figure; with Nazis, the blood has to be pure, but the jizz? Anything goes.

What I don’t understand is: If Hitler had a chip on his shoulder – because he had no whip on his boulders – shouldn’t he have been mad at the schvartzes instead of the Jews? He’d be jealous of Italians and black men with Howitzers in their Hanes. Why pick on Jewish guys, who aren’t exactly known for hiding salamis in their pajamis? Yes, we do have the outliers like Milton Berle and David Duchovny . . . and myself . . . but for the most part, if a Jewish guy with a boner walks into a wall, he’s still gonna break his nose.

If Adolf Hitler, The Great Dicklesstator, had embraced the Jewish nation and commiserated with them on their puny putzes, what a different world this would have been! Instead of making Jews into lampshades, he would have rolled up lampshades to make prosthetic peckers. Instead of hard labor, he’d put in the labor to get hard. Instead of herding people into gas chambers, he’d join them in therapy sessions. They’d all hug and confess to stuffing kielbasas down their pants to impress waitresses at Oktoberfest. No World War II, no Holocaust, no Berlin Wall . . . we’d still have the accordion, but you take the victories you can.

Perhaps it’s too Freudian to suggest that Hitler compensated for his wee willie winkle by building phallic missiles and having the whole country salute him by holding their arms stiff and erect. But then again, maybe there’s something to it. Look who else attacked us in the Second World War: the Japanese. We all know they’ve got nothing between their legs but broken chopsticks.

Now, causality/shmausality; we’re not giving Hitler a pass for his actions because of his inadequacy. We can, however, tell some really tasteless jokes at his expense. For example:

What did they call Adolf Hitler’s last orgasm? The final so-lotion.
What did Hitler have in common with the Jews? They both looked awful coming out of the shower.
Why was Hitler so afraid of acne? One time he got a hard-on, and a dermatologist tried to pop it.
Why was Hitler better at basketball than Jesse Owens? Jesse could run, but Hitler dribbled.
Why was Hitler a bad shortstop? Because he always started with two foul balls, one of which was out of play.
What’s the difference between Poland and Eva Braun? Hitler could get into Poland.
Why was Hitler always borrowing Eva’s tweezers? To masturbate.
Why was Hitler banned from Eva Braun’s kitchen? He got his dick caught in the spaghetti strainer.
Did Hitler suffer from polio? No, he had smallcox.
Was Hitler brutal to his mistresses? No, he was a softie.
Why did Hitler use an IBM computer? Because he didn’t have a Wang.
Why was Hitler so stubborn? `Cause he couldn’t budge an inch.
Why did Hitler buy a goldfish? So he could finally get a decent blowjob. Think about it.
Why was Robin Williams better than Hitler? At least he was hung.

Well, I did warn you that they were tasteless. But, what? You’re gonna get offended because I made fun of Hitler? Remind me not to bust out my Son of Sam jokes; they’re quite disrespectful to the poor guy.

Seriously, though, the thought of Adolf Hitler, architect of the Third Reich, feeling freakish and ashamed, sexually useless, and driven to desperate and painful measures . . . kinda gives me a stiffy. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go surprise my dear wife, Miriam Libby, and give her my three magnificent inches of Hebrew National salami. I know it ain’t much, but when I use it right, she kicks up a fuhror.

This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches, in Great Neck, New York. Heil me!

(c) 2016 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.


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Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #135 (1/17/16) – DAVID BOWIE

Aired Jan. 16, 2016 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_goP2CmBVI

Shalom Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of January 17th, 2016.

It is time to say a sad Shalom to David Bowie, the super-talented singer, songwriter, rock star, and icon who died of liver cancer on January 10th. Most musicians find one persona in a career and stick with it: Joe Smith sings country, Edna Whatever does dance pop, Mordecai Ben David does . . . whatever he does. But David Bowie changed his look, his style, his sound more times than I change my underwear. Well, maybe that’s not the best example, since I’m kind of lazy in the laundry department, but you know what I mean. He started with twee British pop tunes like “Come and Buy My Toys” and “Love You `Til Tuesday,” songs that weren’t meant to last even until Monday. But they pointed the way towards freaky folk and post-Apollo weirdness and “Space Oddity,” the story of a man who gets completely lost in space and never comes back—like Gary Busey.

Wearing dresses and cavorting in transgender weirdness, Bowie pushed the conventions of behavior and attire—which could only mean one thing: he was destined for rock and roll. He created Ziggy Stardust, a rock idol with a comet-like trajectory and really, really tight pants. Suddenly, just going onstage and playing songs wasn’t enough anymore. You needed costumes and makeup and pyrotechnics and huge hydraulics. Long before Grizabella rose to cat heaven and Bono started singing from a claw, Bowie was ascending on a cherry picker and cavorting with glass spiders.

And when all that got too weird and dangerous, Bowie changed again. He became a Thin White Duke, white because he was basically covered head to foot with cocaine powder. But the music remained: “Rebel Rebel,” “Somebody Up There Likes Me,” “Young Americans,”—soul music for white people. And believe me, we needed it, because up till then, the closest we got to soul music was Donovan. But even Bowie’s “plastic soul” was the real thing—so real that James Brown stole Carlos Alomar’s riff from “Fame”—not the other way around. They even asked James Brown about it, and he said, quote, “(series of grunts).”

But seriously, Bowie eased off the drugs just a little to save his sanity and then moved on to yet another incarnation: krautrock. He and Brian Eno found themselves in Berlin mixing electronic music and hard rock in a delightful way that could only come out of a country that murdered 40 million people. Bowie would never reach those musical peaks again, and indeed, his most commercially popular years were filled with dance-club pop and sometimes desperate attempts to stay trendy by incorporating that 1980s sound that we all loved so much. (Insert sarcastic facial expression here.)

Did he stay there, though? Of course not. He was David Bowie. He returned to arty, experimental, and often difficult music and stayed there for another two decades. He may not have gotten on the radio with songs like “Slip Away,” “Never Get Old,” and “Fall Dog Bombs the Moon,” but anyone with iTunes and ears can find them and hear their worth.

After that, for awhile, David Bowie laid low (no album-title pun intended). He pushed his back catalogue and old concerts and didn’t tour because of a heart condition. But then two years ago, he jumped once more into creativity, secretly recording new tracks with old colleagues. He put out “The Next Day” in 2013, then started working on an off-Broadway show, then released another album on his birthday this year. We all now know the reason for this 18-month burst of activity, and it may be the biggest Bowie takeaway of all. He knew his days were literally numbered. He knew the liver he was punishing 40 years ago was coming back like Rocky for a knockout. He knew he had so much more to do and so little time. So he did it. He pushed himself because any day, he would fall to earth.

Most of us, thank God, don’t have such a diagnosis hanging over our heads. Except we do. Who knows when HaShem will send a drunk driver careening towards us on the highway? Or a Muslim with a backpack? Or a mutated cell that will turn prostates into pancakes and ovaries into rotten eggs? Every day we’re still alive is a challenge to make that day count. To bring something new into the world that wasn’t there the day before.

Maybe it’s a poem. A painting. A table. A scarf. A youtube video of your pet doing something adorable. Okay, maybe the world doesn’t need more of that, but the impetus to strike while our irons are still hot is, perhaps, the greatest function of our human DNA.

Go figure it took a space alien, diamond dog, and spider from Mars to remind us. Thank you, David Bowie. You were a musical hero for a lot more than just one day.

This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches, in Great Neck, New York.

(c) 2016 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.


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Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #134 (1/1/16) – FAREWELL 2015

Aired Dec. 31, 2015 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8L8JvYAnkF4

Shalom Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the new year! January 1st, 2016.

It has been an interesting year, this 2015. Not terrible. Not miserable. Not even a dull headache like most years. 2015 had its ups, it had its downs—kind of like Liza Minnelli’s medicine chest.

Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way. This was the year when terrorism said, “I’m baaack.” Not that it ever went away. Not that jihadists haven’t been wreaking mayhem all over the world since 9/11. Since before 9/11. But this was the year it hit home again: the year animals shot up a Paris cafe because they didn’t like Charlie Hebdo magazine’s cartoons. I mean, Gasoline Alley, I understand. Marmaduke, Rhymes with Orange—never funny. Even Hagar the Horrible is looking a little long in the tooth, but you’re gonna go psycho over French cartoons? Put down the Koran and eat a brioche.

But poor France; one attack wasn’t enough. The religion of peace struck again in November, when 130 people were killed in coordinated attacks and bombings. The murderers, of course, had ties to Isis. But whether it was chocolate isis or lemon ices, I don’t know. The good news is that Paris pushed back and killed the ringleader of the carnage, just weeks after three American friends on vacation in Amsterdam jumped on a knife-wielding turbanista and foiled his plot on a train. I guess he didn’t learn from New York that the best way to terrorize people on a train is to start breakdancing, yelling jokes, and then asking for money.

Wait, what? You’re not satisfied? You want more terrorism? Okay, let’s go to San Bernadino. I mean, who hasn’t wanted to kill everyone at a bad office party? But you had this couple – Sayed Farook and his charming wife, Tashfeen, being helped by a Hispanic neighbor to slaughter a group of white, Asian and African co-workers. Who said America can’t be multicultural?

And of course, not all murder is Mohammedan. Yes, you’ve got a civil war in Syria, where the Arabs are killing each other—so who cares? But this autumn also saw Robert Dear enter a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs and kill three people in the name of Jesus. “I’m a warrior for the babies,” he said. No, asshole, you’re a warrior for little blobs with heartbeats that no one wants to take care of. I just think the guy’s pissed because he looks like Nick Nolte on a bad hair day. Well, even-worse hair day.

Moving away from religious nuts with guns, this was also the year of authorities with guns—specifically policemen shooting first and suppressing evidence later. I’m not saying all the black men shot in the back by men in blue were choirboys, but if you’re not armed, and you’re running away or chained to the back seat of a car, you should be able to live long enough for an arraignment.

And speaking of dead black people, you’d think schvartzes would be safe in church, but no. Back in June, white supremacist Dylann Roof pops into a church in Charleston and kills nine in the congregation. And you thought my sermons were boring.

Well, there’s certainly nothing boring about politics this year. Though the presidential election isn’t for another ten months, we’ve already had 12 months of mind-boggling insanity, almost all of it on the Republican side. The front-runner is a businessman who’s gone bankrupt four times, a public speaker who makes fun of cripples, and a bully who thinks he can keep all Muslims from entering the USA. In other words, Donald Trump is a man after my own heart. And his competition? Right-wing Conservative Christian crazies, a brilliant heart surgeon who doesn’t believe in evolution, a Cuban novice who wants to give everybody a gun and nobody an abortion, Rand Paul . . . `nuff said, a fat guy from New Jersey who commandeers his own highway, and Jeb Bush, a man whose whole family should have a thousand-yard restraining order from coming anywhere near the White House. They shouldn’t even be allowed near regular houses that are painted white.

On the other side, you’ve got Hilary Clinton, who will do and say anything to stay in power. Any philosopher who says there’s no such thing as objective truth had to be studying Mr. and Mrs. Clinton. But hey, half of politics is knowing what to say—and what not to say—at any given moment. Or what to say when you’re actually doing the opposite. Or what to say when you’re doing nothing at all, which qualifies you for Congress. Hilary thought she’d cakewalk through the Democratic nomination, but then comes this angry brazen Jew, a cross between Jackie Mason and the math professor who terrified you in 12th grade. No, I don’t mean me, I mean Bernie Sanders. Can you imagine Americans electing a Jewish, socialist President named Bernie? It’d be wonderful but my God, the fireside chats? The man has two styles of rhetoric: yelling and louder yelling. He takes the oath of office, half the pigeons are gonna fly in a panic out of Washington DC.

Oh, and in the lighter side of politics, the biggest Broadway musical of the century so far is not about cats, it’s not about Mormons, and it’s not even about homosexuals. How the hell did it find a theater? But it did, and “Hamilton” is doing for our first Secretary of the Treasury what A Streetcar Named Desire did for streetcars. And desires. Meanwhile, “Star Wars” is back. No, I don’t mean Taylor Swift versus Katie Perry, I mean “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which is already the eighth-highest-grossing movie of all time. Somehow it beat out “Human Centipede III,” but that’s just because most people watched it on GAF viewmaster. Seriously, though, Mark Kermode, film critic for the UK Guardian wrote, and I quote, “this satire of grotesque American culture is as appealing as being force-fed warm diarrhea.” Unquote. Which begs the question, is that better or worse than being force-fed ice-cold diarrhea?

It’s a question they’re asking at Chipotle, where the food looks the same going out as it does coming in. And speaking of sickening, eight people were killed in Philadelphia when an Amtrak train going 100 miles an hour jumped a curve and turned over. On the positive side for Amtrak, it was their first on-time arrival all year.

The shock of the unexpected also hit sports, where the New York Mets made it to the World Series, the New York Jets lost a quarterback to a broken jaw from a fist fight, and Caitlyn Jenner killed a guy. Well, two guys, if you count Bruce. But it was a great year for gays, as the Supreme Court voted to make same-sex marriage as legal and binding as regular marriage. And no doubt as dreary and boring and sexless. Welcome to equality, guys.

And welcome 2016, you couldn’t come soon enough. There’ll be more tragedy, absurdity, beauty, stupidity, hilarity, vulgarity, disparity and, if the economy stays good, a bissel charity. Three weeks ago, nice Jewish boy Mark Zuckerberg, announced that he is donating 99 percent of his Facebook shares to worthy causes. What a mensch! What a example for the world! Oh, did I mention that I’m starting a non-profit organization to help Rabbis with rage issues? I’m kind of a test case, and I need a lot of start-up funding so Markele, if you’re listening, make the check out to Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches in Great Neck, New York. Shana Tovah, everybody! See you in the New Year.

(c) 2015 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.


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Rabbi Sol Solomon’s Rabbinical Reflection #133 (12/20/15) – WORD OF THE YEAR

aired Dec. 19, 2015 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube clip: https://youtu.be/YIhD_FGHX7I

Shalom, Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of December 20, 2015.

Well, Chanukah’s over, so I can go back to being my crotchety, miserable self. Perfect timing, too. You’ve got terrorists shooting everybody, Republicans shooting their mouths off, and, as usual, my poop chute hurts—and I’m low on Desitin.

All I want towards the end of the year is a little good news, a bit of lightness to counter the darkness and stupidity all around. So what do I get? First, Time Magazine —- remember Time Magazine?—no one does. I’m sure it’s four pages long and printed on tissue paper at this point. But Time Magazine tries to stay relevant by picking its person of the year. Now, that doesn’t always mean the honored person is honorable. Past People of the Year have included Hitler, Stalin, and the Ayatollah Khoumeini —- who are always my top three when planning a holiday party. But Time has also singled out U.S. presidents, Pope Francis, Bono—pretty much anyone who’ll sell at the newsstand.

This year, Time chose Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, as person of the year. I know, right? Your guess is as good as mine. Aside from my lingering fear of anything German—including measles, cars, and ovens—did this nice lady do anything at all that affected my life? I mean, she could have gotten me a bagel from the grocery downstairs or maybe paid forward my last meal at the deli, but pfft, nothing. All Merkel does is strengthen the Euro, which is fine for Germany but hasn’t exactly been a boon for Greece, Finland, or the American greenback.

But Time Magazine is not why I am grumpy. Last week, Merriam-Webster announced its Word of the Year. Now, that’s a nice thing. In order to stay somewhat relevant in a world where dictionaries are just those clunky things we used before spell-check, Webster’s reminds everybody they still exist. How? By choosing a word that has been particularly relevant or popular over the past annum. For example, last year’s number-one word was culture. Lovely word! Culture. It means the behavioral customs of people, as well as the fine arts. And also what they take from your throat when you’ve got strep.

But you know what? People don’t listen anymore. They don’t play by the rules; they don’t follow directions. Webster’s Third International Dictionary has 470,000 words in it. That’s nearly half a million choices the editors could make when picking a word of the year. They could select words like lambrequin, which is a hood or covering for a helmet; or rasophore, which is the lowest order of Greek monk; or flabelliform, which means shaped like a fan. If people aren’t using these terms regularly, maybe making one of them Word of the Year could change all that. Undercover spies from Webster’s and Oxford could sneak the word into common usage: “Hey, isn’t that the guy from ZZ Top?” “No, he’s just a lowly rasophore. You can tell by the cassock.”

But okay, maybe these words aren’t at the top of everyone’s text-message suggestion bar. So how about cheese or synergy or the word everybody googles: porn? Somehow, even these simple words weren’t good enough for Merriam and his life-partner, Webster. As I said, they had hundreds of thousands of options for Word of the Year, and the one they chose . . . the word these scholars, in their infinite wisdom, selected as Word of the Year is: Ism. I’ll say it again: Ism.

Why do I have a problem with this? Very simple. You have a swath of geniuses using computer programs, volumetrics, and common sense to come up with a word, and the word they choose . . . last time I checked, IS NOT A WORD. It’s a suffix. Look it up! No, really, look it up IN WEBSTER’S DICTIONARY. I-S-M: it’s not a word, it’s the end of a word! Imagine if Baskin-Robbins held a contest for ice cream flavor of the year, and the winner was “ocolate!”

Now the dictionary dances around these semantics by saying that “ism” is a noun, that represents a whole bunch of words ending in ism. Which sounds to me like a tautologism. And the reason for the choice of ism this year has to do with all the web searches for ism terrorism—thanks to ISIS, socialism—thanks to Bernie Sanders, racism—thanks to Freddie Gray, capitalism and fascism—both thanks to Donald Trump, and, of course, jism, thanks the aforementioned porn.

Please understand, I have nothing against “ism” as a suffix. After all, where would I be without Judaism? Probably, happily sipping martinis on a yacht. And I’m also pretty big on Zionism, secular humanism, and the occasional aphorism. But if the sacred guardians of words can’t be bothered to find a word, what’s the world—and the word—coming to?

The answer is that it’s already come and gone. Yes, dictionary.com chose its own word of the year, identity, a gratifyingly rational decision there. But the Oxford English Dictionary—the gold standard of linguistic lexicography—they, too, had a word of the year. They didn’t pick a prefix, no. They didn’t pick a compound word or phrase. They didn’t go with slang or an abbreviation. My friends, the O.E.D. chose, as word of the year: a drawing. More specifically, the “tears of joy” emoji. You know, the Japanese-y face with the tear drops and the slanty eyebrows and one long tooth smiling while crying? This is their Word of the Year. You can’t even say it. It takes a paragraph to describe it. I thought a picture is supposed to be worth a thousand words not replace all of them!

If the best and smartest of us can’t even get simple instructions right, what hope is there for the rest of us numbnuts to solve immigration, feed the hungry, and slow down climate change? That is why I have, not one, but two words for the Webster’s and Oxford dictionaries. Each word is one syllable. The second word is a pronoun. The first word is a transitive verb that is, quote, “usually vulgar.” In case you haven’t guessed it by now, my words are—well, picture an emoji of a big yellow hand with its middle finger lifted in defiance. Or, in a different language, geh kaken oifen yam! And yes, I realize that’s a yiddishism.

This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches, in Great Neck, New York. Can I get a lambrequin for my shtreimel?

(c) 2015 TotalTheater. All rights reserved.


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