As You Like It

December 11th, 2009

“To be or, like you know, not to be. Like, you know that is totally the question.”

Poor William Shakespeare. He must be spinning in his grave. Just listen to those around you and you’ll understand why.

I was in a local coffee shop the other day and this couple next to me was having a fairly animated conversation. I couldn’t help overhearing what was going on. Now I did come in at the middle of the conversation but it sounded something like this:

She:          “So you know he goes, ‘Joan, you can’t like do that.’ And I’m saying like why not? And for some reason you know he just goes ‘don’t do that ‘cause like it will be like awful.’”

He:            “You must have been like, you know, totally PO’d.”

She:            “Totally… whatever.”

Needless to say I was intrigued… but not by the content of the conversation: the number of annoying words these people used amazed me. At that very moment I remembered reading about a survey that was conducted last October by Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

They surveyed a group of people and came up with what they determined to be the world’s most annoying words. Whatever easily beat out you know, yet the words totally, like, it is what it is and at the end of the day were also characterized as some of the most annoying words used today.

And here are some other words that just bug the vowels out of me: cool, awesome, check it out, that said and give it up.

Here’s a fun activity idea, if you can stand it: count how many times people use these annoying words in the course of their conversation. After about ten minutes I’m sure you’ll realize that at the rate our language seems to be deteriorating this is indeed “The winter of our discontent.” Or whatever.

The Great Chanukah Conspiracy

December 3rd, 2009

This Chanukah, once again, I’m sure we’ll be forced to buy more than one box of candles. It happens every year and it’s not fair.

Using simple math it’s easy to calculate how many candles are needed for the Menorah: two for the first night, three for the second night… That comes to forty-four candles.

Now, although it is true that most boxes of Chanukah candles contain 45 candles, there is no way that one box will do the trick. And the candle makers know this.

Many of the boxes I’ve purchased are so tightly packed that there is no way you can remove the first candle without breaking it. And watch out for candles that have stuck together during manufacturing. It’s reminds me of the same problem I have getting that first “dill” out of the pickle jar – a real feat!

So if you are lucky enough to get that first one out in one piece, make sure that your candle holders in the Menorah are clean and clear of any wax from say Chanukah 5765. If you don’t clean them out first and try and force that bright red candle in you’re going to be in trouble! Forcing is not a good Chanukah word: Chanukah candles don’t like forcible entry. (By the way, if you are keeping count here we are already down three or four candles and it’s only the first night!) Can you see the smiles on the candle makers faces?

One other problem is that some of the wicks just don’t want to light. It’s as though some sadist candle maker treated the wick with a fire retardant solution. And then of course some wicks are waxed over. Don’t ever try and break off some of the wax and retrieve a wick… Chanukah candles don’t like that either.

The answer here is to just admit it: you’re going to need at least two boxes of Chanukah candles.

Oh, and one final thing! Don’t tell yourself that you’ll keep the remaining candles for next Chanukah. You’ll never remember where you’ve stored them!

The Big Bagel Burtch Part 1

November 25th, 2009

I was born and raised in Montreal. It is the bagel capital of Canada and the world as far as I’m concerned. I know, I know there is another bagel capital: New York. So I am well qualified to burtch and kvetch about bagel.

The word bagel is a collective noun! That means that its plural form is bagel! I have this on good authority. The owners of my favourite and best Deli in the world agree. My Rabbi agrees. Friends and relatives in Canada and the United States agree. And my grade four teacher Mrs. Rosenbloom agreed that the correct plural usage of the word bagel is bagel. I remember her saying, “I have to go to Fairmont and pick up two dozen bagel.”

Think about words like fish, carp, petchah, peyos, cabbage, lamb and shank as in shank bone. You wouldn’t say, “Zaidy picked up three carps for the Gefilte Fishes.” And you wouldn’t say, “I went to get my peyoses cut.” – well, you wouldn’t ever say that!

So stop with the bagels and get with the bagel.