Archive for September, 2006

In three . . . two . . . one . . .

Yoshik Fucklinovich

Hello! My name is Yoshik Fucklinovich, and I am coming to you live today from the home of Uccellina, where the minutes are ticking away until the midnight deadline for all Fuckling Contest entries. The tension is thick in the air here, as entrants scramble frantically to finish their projects and send them in.

back of the cat

With me here is Gawain DePounce. Mr. DePounce, do you have any comment on this contest? Mr. DePounce? Comment?

Mr. DePounce, please don’t bite me. Sir. Please.

Excuse me, Mr. DePounce, but that is not – hey – hey, stop! What are you – Auggh! No! Not the face! Bad cat! Bad!

Fuckling Knocked Silly

Back to you in the studio, Uccellina.

Thanks, Yoshik. This has been a brief reminder of the upcoming deadline for Fuckling Contest entries, which is midnight tonight.

Unless, of course, you get them to me by tomorrow afternoon. Say around three.


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1 day left!

As you’ve probably noticed, this is a light blogging week due to massive piles of actual work. Please forgive.


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Shofar, sho good?

I had other things on my mind on the day this article came out, but I promised myself I would get around to writing about it eventually. Today, midway (almost) between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, seems like a good time.

The article is titled “A Booming Sect Sends Jewish Emissaries Abroad.” The subtitle reads, “The Chabad-Lubavitch branch of Hasidism consists of rabbi-and-wife teams that proselytize. Some call the movement extreme.”

Extreme Hasidim? What, do they daven while bungee jumping out of airplanes?

Chabad critics say the statistics are evidence that the movement is clannish, with an unhealthy devotion to its late leader, viewed by some as the Messiah, and with overly aggressive tactics.

“They have this sense of manifest destiny to promulgate, to proselytize, to spread the word everywhere, every day, throughout the world,” said Stephen G. Bloom, a University of Iowa journalism professor. His best-selling book, “Postville,” chronicled the clash of cultures between residents of a small Iowa town and Lubavitchers who moved to the Midwest to operate a kosher slaughterhouse.

“For them, this is a deadly serious holy war,” he added.

After that terrifying warning, don’t you expect graphic tales of these “overly aggressive tactics?” But the article has nothing. In fact, only one other “critic” is cited at all, and her words seem less dire:

Stephanie Wellen Levine, author of “Mystics, Mavericks, and Merrymakers: An Intimate Journey Among Hasidic Girls,” spent a year living in Crown Heights and witnessed the pressure placed on the children of rabbis to become emissaries.


“They are passionate about their beliefs, their lifestyle, and it’s a beautiful thing for many of them,” Levine said. “On the other hand, I would not say this is proof that they have the truth or the way. It works for them.”

This apparent contradiction led me to look more closely at Mr. Bloom. According to Salon, his book, “Postville,” chronicles his own experiences perhaps more than those of the town and community. He uses his Jewish background to gain access to the Lubavitcher community.

Eventually Bloom and his son, Mikey, do eat a lavish Sabbath dinner (Hasidic women can do little besides cook and clean house), but it comes at a price — they become the targets of the Hasidic community’s evangelical zeal. (One of the sect’s primary goals is to bring nonobservant Jews to the true path.)

Says the New York Times,

Mr. Bloom is better at describing the fascinating situation in Postville than at analyzing it or placing it in moral or historic context. He does draw conclusions. He makes clear that his sympathies lie with the local people against the Lubavitchers, whose especially obtuse insularity leads them to bad behavior.

“What the Postville Hasidim ultimately offered me was a glimpse at the dark side of my own faith,” he writes, “a look at Jewish extremists whose behavior not only made the Postville locals wince, but made me wince, too.”

I’m not claiming that the Hasidim are faultless (I’ve seen how they drive), but I am bothered both by the LA Times’ dual failure to contextualize Bloom’s statements and to support its claims that Chabad-Lubavitch is “aggressive” with concrete evidence. Hasidic emissaries ask passers-by, “are you Jewish?” rather than trying to “make disciples of all nations,” or knocking on doors, like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. Sure, they have the Mitzvah Mobile, but how intimidating is that?

On Sunday, Husband and I had a direct encounter with the “overly aggressive” group. As we were walking through the busy Farmers Market, three young Hasidic men passed us. One of them turned and asked, “Excuse me, are you Jewish?”

“Yes . . .” Shoot me. I was curious.

“Would you like to hear the Shofar for Rosh Hashanah?” He whipped the ram’s horn out of his coat and held it up.

“Sure,” I smiled.

“Okay, repeat after me,” and he led me through the Rosh Hashanah prayer. I remembered most of it, but stumbled at the shehechiyanu. When we finished, he lifted the horn to his lips and began to blow.

Toooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooot. I smiled and began to thank him, but was cut off. Toooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooot. Toooooooooooot-toooooot-tooot-tooot-tooot-tooot-toooooooooooooooooooot. It just kept going. I elbowed Husband, who was trying (and failing) to stifle his giggles. Toooooooooooot-toooooot-tooot-tooot-tooot-toooooooot-toot. People were staring. Eventually, the now red-faced young man lowered the horn. I thanked him; he nodded and walked away.

He didn’t press literature on me. He didn’t harangue me. He didn’t threaten me with supernatural punishment. He just tooted for an awkwardly long time in a public place. And who among us hasn’t done that at least once?

Seemed like a “deadly serious holy war” to me, all right.

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Friday cat blogging and . . .

Arthur hunts for feet.
Peppermint foot lotion smells like catnip. Who knew? What you can’t see in a still photo is the frantic scrabbling and digging going on under that blanket.

One more week to get your fucklings in!

(Älso älso: L’Shana Tovah! Have some apples and honey, on me.)

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A moment of silence.

I am stressed out.

When I am stressed out, I become quiet.

Go check out the 23rd Carnival of Feminists. They have good things to say. And I? I have nothing.

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Knitting update.

Me: What is your wife’s favorite color?

Lawyer: I don’t know, why?

Me: I’m trying to get started on my holiday knitting. Find out for me.

Lawyer picks up the phone, calls his wife, asks her what her favorite color is. “Because she’s trying to start her holiday knitting,” he says impatiently, as if it were obvious. “Okay, bye.”

Lawyer: Off-white.

Me: Off-white? Like cream? Or beige?

Lawyer: Off-white.

Me: But that’s not a color. How about light blue? I have some gorgeous pale blue mohair.

Lawyer: No, she seemed pretty definite about the off-white.

branching out scarf

branching out detail

The 1/3-finished, chunky version of Branching Out. It’s going surprisingly quickly.

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Avast, ye lubbers! Talk Like a Pirate Day has swung ’round again, and here I still be, bloggin’ on and on.

Arrrr, and first I must boast, in me finest piratical style, of the booty that fell into me lap this morning.

(I know what ye be thinkin’! Shut yer maw, or I’ll have ye keelhauled.)

Nay, the booty I speak of is neither woman nor man, nor silver nor gold, nor yet rubies nor riches from Davy Jones’ Locker, but rather, a commendation from the sparklin’ new Carnival of Divided Government! A scurvy, slime-covered link appeared on me Stats page this mornin’, alertin’ me to the fine event. Yarrr.

In a more piratical vein, the Crafty Minx (a most scurrilous name, yarrr) has raised the Pirate Crafting flag high over her decks, where it flutters darkly in the salt air.

Begad, and now I have to do battle with Her Majesty’s Own Secretary of State, that bilge-sucking, scurvy beast. I’m after me Letters of Marque, which I’ll use to plunder and loot to me heart’s content!* Yarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

*Or not. Yarr.

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Public Service Announcement

Breed faster, people.

Also: Fuckling deadline has been extended to 9/29. Now you have NO excuse. (I made mine yesterday – so cute!)

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How are the fucklings coming along? I’ve had one vote to extend the deadline to the 29th – do y’all concur? You are all making fucklings, aren’t you? Aren’t you?

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You wouldn’t recognize Nancy now that she’s knocked out and drooling.

My grandmother was a difficult woman. She didn’t handle stress well.


My grandfather, a doctor, knew just how to handle that.


He gave her drug after drug. She was unconscious through most of my mother’s childhood.


After twenty thirty years or so, other doctors in the community found out what was going on, and threatened to have his license pulled unless he put her in The Institute of Living.


Unfortunately, when she got out of the hospital, the world was large and overwhelming (especially since she hadn’t really been in it for the last twenty thirty years). She found ways to get what she needed in order to cope.


After my grandfather died, she found a doctor – a friend of his, I believe – to keep up her prescriptions. When she went into the hospital at the age of 80 with an asthma attack, she was too embarrassed to tell them everything she was taking. So she went into acute Valium withdrawal. And that, combined with her age and general weakness, killed her.


My grandfather was a monster, yes, but a socially sanctioned monster.

Saw it first at Feminist Law Professors
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