Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Day 7: Just Keep Swimming

This post (minus some edits) first ran on December 31, 2009.
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David Cassidy is dead.

Denise and I were setting up the above-ground, heated swimming pool for my seven new pet swans1 when we saw Cassidy clutch at the pear tree to keep from falling. We helped him to the ground, and though he was struggling to breathe, he managed to utter two words before his heart gave out: “swan allergy.” I have no idea what he meant, but I figure it's probably the name of his sled.

Frankly, I’m surprised he lasted the week, sitting in freezing temperatures without food or water. But he clearly knew death was a possibility when he accepted the gig, since when I rifled through his pockets2 the only thing I found was the phone number for a local Undertaker. Two hours later, a hearse sporting the WWE logo pulled up in front, and — after some pyrotechnics and a bunch of unnecessary posturing — we bade a final farewell to David Cassidy.

It took us a few hours to get the heated pool up and running, and I’m not looking forward to our next electric bill, but I have to say the swans are quite impressive. Backstroke, breast stroke, butterfly, they can do it all.3 I don't know if there’s a market for this sort of thing, but I bet people would pay to see Michael Phelps race a relay team of swans.4

Oh, and last night, a couple policemen stopped by and told me the parrots couldn't stay on the porch, something about county noise ordinances. They were going to let me off with a warning, but overheard the parrot mafia don say some rather unkind things about cops, so now I'm out another $500. I made sure to rattle some cages when I pulled the parrots from their perch on the porch and banished them to the the garage. The parrot don said I'd pay for such an injustice, but he's too late. I've already maxed out both my credit cards to pay for bird food and stinky French cheeses.

Anyway, to make room for the pool, we moved the bricklaying geese to the basement, which is just as well since they were doing a piss-poor job on the patio. They're now building us some (rather shaky) new stairs for the basement hatch. Two other geese are messing with the plumbing, and I threw the last one down there as well after it had cornered Marcelle in the tub for a couple hours. It’ll probably start on an uneven tile floor with too much grout, just like it was doing in the upstairs bathroom.

I don’t have high hopes for any of the geese’s projects. I’ll probably have to rip out all their work and start fresh once Christmas is over and everybody leaves. Wait, they are going to leave after the last day of Christmas, right?


1 Yay! More birds! Just what I needed. (For reference, here's the current household tally: 2 people, 1 dog, 1 cat, 21 birds. Surprisingly, Hitchcock has yet to make a cameo.)
2 As is the custom with any dead celebrity.
3 And the black one's pretty good at water ballet.
4 Or, failing that, smoke up with a relay team of swans.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Day 6: Take a Gander. No, Really. Take One.

This post (minus some edits) first ran on December 30, 2009.
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Damn it, I thought we were done with the birds!

The latest six arrived replete with their own supplies, and had made quite a mess of the living room before I got downstairs this morning. I tried taking their tools away, but they ganged up on me and pecked at my face, so I quickly abandoned that plan. Fortunately, by the time I returned from the emergency room, Denise had directed them to other areas of the house where they could be more useful.

She led the three bricklaying geese out into the back yard, where they are currently building us a new patio. Two others are laying pipe in the basement, and the last is in the upstairs bathroom, laying down fresh tile.

Da-a-amn! Those bricks got LAID!

Their craftsmanship is extremely shoddy, seeing as how they have to do everything with their beaks, but I’m not about to disparage their work. I’ve already gotten enough stitches for one day.1

Of course, Sonya spent the day trying to catch the geese, so in order to allow them to get their work done, we had to tie her to the pear tree. In the tree above her, David Cassidy isn’t looking at all well. I could only get hold of one local doctor who does house calls, and he wasn’t willing to climb a ladder to do the physical. Hmm... maybe the local fire company has a a doctor among its members.

In other news, when I went out to the porch to check on the hens and parrots today, one of the latter had stopped talking. At first I was excited, thinking the other three might also soon tire, but then I jostled its cage. The bird fell, unmoving, to the newspaper lining the cage. Just my luck, the dead parrot was neither the Verizon spokesparrot nor the gossip girl. No, ‘twas the Norwegian Blue: the stock broker, the least annoying of the four. Someone had nailed him to his perch.

As I carted his remains off to the trash bin, the parrot mafia don said, simply, “So long, snitch.”

1 In case you’re wondering... it’s eight stitches. Eight is enough.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Day 5: Oh, Those Golden Rings

This post (minus some edits) first ran on December 29, 2009.
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Finally, a worthwhile gift! Each ring expertly crafted, a beautiful golden brown, with just the right amount of breading... easily the best onion rings I’ve had in some time. It’s a shame there were only five of them.

The parrots, on the other hand, have been driving me batty. They gave me such a headache yesterday I had to stick them out on the porch with the hens, where their constant yapping is at least muffled. I also spent a half hour looking for the phones their Bluetooths are connected to, hoping to smash them into tiny bits shut them off, but I couldn't find them. And the Bluetooths themselves are going strong; the birds must have some covert spot where they recharge them overnight.

Anyway, I thought the Verizon parrot was bad, but the one who quarreled all yesterday has been chattering non-stop today about boys and fashion and mother-sparkling Twilight. Oh, and I’m pretty sure I just heard the head of the parrot mafia calling in a hit.

David Cassidy still has yet to eat, drink, or move from the tree. I think the doves' wings are starting to atrophy, too. At least, now that I've picked up some brie, the hens have started eating (me out of house and home).1

Speaking of eating out of house and home, I think I'll do just that. Maybe, if I'm lucky, I'll even find some more of those onion rings.

1 Yet, the parrots might turn out to be an even bigger strain on my wallet; Denise hinted that all their calls were being added to my phone bill.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Day 4: Who You Callin' Pretty Boy?

This post (minus some edits) first ran on December 28, 2009.
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We’ve reached day four of the David Cassidy hunger strike. He’s beginning to look a bit gaunt, and gray in color. Denise thinks he may have snacked on some snow from a nearby branch when we weren’t looking, whereas I contend his only sustenance during his time in the pear tree has come by sneaking nips of brandy from a flask hidden inside his coat. Either way, we may have to call in a doctor soon. Or a lumberjack.

Nevertheless, I’ve found that I much prefer the silence of his company to the inescapable din inside the house. The latest additions to my avian menagerie should have come with a soundproof box, or at least a box of earplugs. I don’t see why anyone would ever want even one of these birds, let alone four. Yet, I now find myself the proud owner of a quartet of parrots, each ceaselessly yammering away on its own Bluetooth.

It was better back when birds didn't have teeth.

I have no idea who any of them are talking to, but one seems to think he’s a stock broker. All he ever says is, “Buy! Buy! Buy!” or “Sell! Sell! Sell!” Another is having what sounds like a heated argument with her mother. And if I didn’t know the third bird was a parrot, I’d swear I was overhearing an Italian mafia don discussing the storage of stolen goods.

But the last one... the last one I truly despise. There are only so many times I can hear, “Can you hear me now?” before I'm overcome with the distinct urge to strangle someone.1

Deciding to channel my anger into something more constructive, I grabbed some tools from the garage. I’d hoped to pry the turtle shells off of those poor little doves so they could fly free, but the moment I touched either one, they tried to peck my fingers off. Apparently they’ve become rather attached to their adoptive homes. It makes sense, I guess, as they do provide decent protection from the cat and dog. Then again, Sonya has forgotten all about them, more concerned now with barking in reply to everything the parrots say. And Marcelle is snugly ensconced in blankets upstairs, away from all the noise.

I'm not quite sure how, but out on the porch, one of the hens has developed a French accent.2 And unlike David Cassidy, they're finally eating. It's going to be expensive to keep them around, though; the tag I found on one hen’s foot said they'll only eat baguettes with brie and Camembert.

Damn uppity hens. They eat better than I do.3

If I get any more birds tomorrow, I'm pulling out my new Red Ryder BB gun.

1 I've tried covering their cages, but it doesn’t silence them. Once swathed in darkness, the parrots only start talking louder. Clearly, they're one of those Night & Weekend calling plans.
2 Le cluck.
3 And they may be wearing maid outfits, but they sure know how to make a mess. As snooty as they are about their food, they're not the least bit particular about where they leave their merde.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Day 3: What the Cluck?

This post (minus some edits) first ran on December 27, 2009.
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If I had to guess, I’d say they’re supposed to be French. I mean, I can’t be sure, since I’ve never been able to distinguish French clucking from any other type of clucking — despite my many years on the board of the GPC1 — but I don’t know why else the hens would be wearing those black-and-white maid outfits. They’re certainly not doing anything that resembles cleaning.

We've had to sequester the hens on the screened-in porch, since the dog is convinced we got her three new walking, clucking chew toys. In fact, Sonya has completely abandoned her post beneath David Cassidy (who has barely moved the past two days, and still hasn't eaten) to spend all her time whining and scratching at the porch door.

Marcelle finally ventured downstairs, too.2 She isn’t your typical huntress of a cat — she’s been known to be scared by string — but once we deposited the trio of hens onto the porch, her curiosity got the better of her. Only then did she spy the doves. She batted at one a couple of times, but got bored when it retracted its head into its shell, and headed back upstairs.

As for the hens, we tend not to keep chicken feed in the house,3 so I went out and bought a giant bag of the stuff. (Apparently, however, they're on the David Cassidy diet; they've yet to touch a single grain of it.) If we could get some fresh eggs out of the deal, that would be wonderful, but a little bird told me we'd need a rooster for that to happen.4 And I’m not buying a rooster.

Of course, with my luck, I’ll find four of them under the tree tomorrow morning...

1 Gonzo’s Poultry Council, est. 1978.
2 Aw, I miss Marcelle. For my newer readers, she was the cat I had before Calypso and Schrödinger. Not that it has any bearing on the story, but she was born in Uzbekistan.
3 Surprising, I know.
4 Actually, it was a rather big little bird that told me. His exact words were: “You’re doing it all wrong, son! You need a — I say, you need a rooster, boy, or you’ll never get eggs!”


Monday, December 26, 2011

Day 2: Birds of a Feather Stuffed Together

This post (minus some edits) first ran on December 26, 2009.
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Well, this is an improvement. Sort of. There are no new trees in the yard this morning, no Wally Cleaver or John-Boy Walton perched up above building a nest. Just a box with air holes sitting under the Christmas tree.

The doves sure are cute little things. Their cooing is adorable, as is the way they poke their little heads out when they’re hungry. I can’t help but feel bad for them, though, stuck in those shells.

Stuffing a peaceful bird into a shell? Not coo.

They must be cramped in there; as far as I can tell, they have no way to fully stretch out their wings. And walking's a chore: even when they manage to poke their feet out, the shells are too heavy for them to stand upright. One of them has figured out how to maneuver by pulling itself around using its beak, but mostly they stay where they are and coo quietly. I’ve been hand-feeding them birdseed and giving them water to drink from a tiny saucer.

Speaking of feeding, David Cassidy still hasn’t eaten.1 And despite the freezing temperatures and threat of snow, he has repeatedly ignored our invitations to come inside.2 In the end, we decided the least we could do was provide him with a couple of thick wool blankets to help protect him from the cold. He wouldn’t take them from us, of course. We were forced to haul out a ladder from the garage and drape the blankets over his back.

Goddammit, celebrities piss me off.

1 Nor has he spoken. I know the cat hasn't gotten his tongue; she's too scared to leave the house. His contract must have stipulated a non-speaking role.
2 Sonya wouldn’t come in, either, unwilling to leave her post beneath the nut in the tree. We offered her double her usual amount of treats, but no dice. I had to drag her inside by her collar, with her straining against me the entire way. Once locked in the house, she whined at the door for hours until I couldn’t take it any more and let her back out.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Day 1: Hazing the New Guy

This post (minus some edits) first ran on December 25, 2009.
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Okay, so I kind of get the pear tree.

Ever since we chopped down the crabapple tree back in July, the back yard has felt a little empty. The pear tree fills that void, and I’m certain its bounty next year will be much tastier than those horrid crabapples ever were.

What I don’t understand — and maybe this just shows my utter ignorance of Christmas customs — is why, sitting halfway up the tree, is that guy from the Partridge Family.

Admittedly, as a Jewish Atheist celebrating only his third Christmas, I’m relatively new to the holiday. But please, tell me: What does David Cassidy have to do with Christmas? Is it traditional to give your loved one 70s-era TV stars?

He’s been up there all morning, and has yet to move from that one limb. At first, Sonya barked at him, perhaps thinking he was some sort of giant mutant squirrel.1 She settled down after about ten minutes, but hasn't left her post beneath the tree, nor let her gaze stray from the middle-aged man oddly perched in her yard. David/Keith hasn’t said a word, nor did he seem interested in the plate of bacon and eggs we offered him. He just sits there, shivering, locked in a staring contest with the dog.2

My fiancée Denise3 made some remark this morning about Christmas being 12 days long. That's not true, is it? She’s just hazing the new guy, right? I sure hope there aren't another 11 like this one; I know for a fact that nowhere on my wishlist did I write, “a plum tree containing Greg Brady.”

I'll be keeping my fingers crossed.

1 I checked IMDb. As best I can tell he's never played a mutant rodent of any kind before. The guy's got range.
2 Update: Cassidy won the staring contest when Sonya stopped to eat his bacon.
3 See? You can tell I wrote this two years ago because back then I still called Denise my fiancée, rather than my ex-fiancée. (And she'd prefer I stop calling her that. It's the standard marriage stereotype: She nags at me to change my ways, and I don't listen.)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Not a Creature Was Stirring

This post first ran on December 24, 2010.

'Twas the night before Christmas,
And all through the house
Not a creature was stirring,
Not even a—HEY!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Carols for the Zombie Apocalypse

This post first ran on December 23, 2010.

"[Nate's] voice is as smooth as that of a Norwegian yak!"
- Chris Phillips

Just in time for the holidays — and the imminent zombie threat — we bring you a brand new album from Flaming Wheel Records.

Complete with 48 of the world's most popular apocalyptic seasonal hits, this 4-CD box set has updated versions of all your old favorites, including...

Silent night, holy Christ!
Here they come! This ain't right!
Round yon corner, mother and child
Shamble toward us bloody and wild.
Death would be a relief.
Death would be a relief.
(listen to mp3 preview)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Oh, the devils outside are frightful,
But on fire, they're so delightful.
And since we've no place to go,
Let 'em groan! Let 'em groan! Let 'em groan!
(listen to mp3 preview)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Chester roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nipping off your nose.
You'll find Carol being sucked by Claire,
And folks in pies of Eskimo.
(listen to mp3 preview)

Of course no doomsday collection would be complete without these beloved numbers:

Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Blast the head off that damn thing!"
Please unearth us some more food.
God! us sinners are all screwed.
(listen to mp3 preview)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

I'm dreaming of a red Christmas,
Unlike the ones we used to know.
Where bodies glisten,
And we all listen,
For sounds of movement down below.
(listen to mp3 preview)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Have yourself a very brittle Christmas
As your limbs decay.
From now on,
Your arms will both be miles away.
(listen to mp3 preview)

And who can forget these timeless classics?

Come and hold me, pa rum pa pum pum.
An awful thing to see, pa rum pa pum pum.
Our finest are dying, pa rum pa pum pum.
Then re-animating, pa rum pa pum pum,
Rum pa pum pum, rum pa pum pum.
(listen to mp3 preview)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

On the fifth day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me:
Five cold dead things!
Four mauling hordes,
Three strange men,
Two useless guns,
And a car for which I have no key.
(listen to mp3 preview)

And many more!

This Christmas, face down the undead hordes with a song. (Tip: Also keep a shotgun handy.) For only 4 installments of $9.99,* you can own A Zombie Named Carol, the greatest compilation of zombie carols ever made.

Place your order in the next fifteen minutes, and we'll throw in the album Purim of the Vampires, a $42 value, absolutely free!

Order yours today! Operators are standing by.

* Plus $19.95 for shivving and man-handling.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Your Chosen Questions About the Chosen People

I apologize for not getting this post out earlier in the day, but I was busy making Christmas cookies and wrapping Christmas gifts. For a while there I was also away in a manger. Nevertheless, you asked me some excellent questions about Jews and Judaism, and it is my Jewishly duty to answer them. So here we go.

Li starts us off with a question I'm sure many of you are curious about:
What's the correct spelling - Hanukkah or Chanukkah? (Or have I misspelled both?)
So, you want to know the true meaning spelling of Hannukakakahh, do you? Well, it's not that simple; just like the labor/labour divide between American English and English English, the spelling of Chanuka differs depending on your background. For instance, there's Chanukkah (traditional), Hannukah (nontraditional), Chanukah (transitional), Channukkah (transactional), Kamchatka (trans-siberial), Hanukhaaaaan (nerdly), Hannoushka (jeweler), and Hanukka (absolutely ridiculous), just to name a few. You say tomato, I say Hanukkah.

In the end, it comes down to preference. And unless you spell it Hanukkah, you're wrong.

My sister anonymously asks:
Why do Jews hate Christmas?
It's not that Jews hate Christmas: they hate what Christmas has become. It used to be a day when all Christians would remain home, allowing Jews to have free reign of movie theaters and gorge themselves on Peking Duck.1 But then everyone else realized movies and Chinese food were a far better plan than spending the afternoon cooped up in the house with Uncle Ralph and a half-dozen screaming kids.

Now, every year Christians descend on theaters and restaurants in hordes, disrupting our long-standing Jewish traditions. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but do you really have to take away our Christmas? Couldn't you head to the theater on Purim instead?

1 Or, for those fond of sacrilege, Pork Lo Mein.

A different Anonymous entirely asks:
What can you tell me about hats and haircuts associated with Judaism?
That they're awesome.

I'm kidding, of course. The Jewish people are a frugal sort, so traditionally, Jewish boys get what is known as a "bowl cut," although some families have been known to splurge and buy a Flowbee. Those who claim to be truly devout (i.e. the cheapest) don't cut their hair at all, and are often mistaken for the two members of ZZ Top not named Beard.

In regard to hats, Jewish men must cover their heads when in prayer, and Orthodox men must keep them covered at all times, or else zombies will eat their brains with garbanzo beans and a nice Manischewitz.2 Some men opt for baseball caps or fedoras, but most stick with the traditional kippah, which I believe is just another name for a herring.

Oh, and the women? They can do whatever they damn well please.

2 At least, that's what it says in the torah.

Tricia J. O'Brien poses this poignant question:
Why gefilte fish???
Jews may have been treated horribly by Germans in the past, but we're not above some good ol' Schadenfreude. And that's where gefilte fish comes in. We only break it out when gentiles are present, to see their reaction when it first touches their tongue.3 We don't actually eat the putrid stuff ourselves. (It may look like we do, but watch more closely next time. Jews are experts at spiriting food into folded napkins, purses, potted plants, dogs, etc.)

3 We also make bets about whether they'll finish it out of politeness. I once made 180 shekels.

I received a litany of questions from Anthony Stemke:
What's the difference between lox and nova?
Lox is just lox, nothing more. But nova can be super.

Why the dickens can't knishes be sold outside of New York City?
The Dickens Knish Law of 1857. At the time, authors were celebrities on par with today's movie stars, and during one visit to the States Charles Dickens was heard to remark that knishes were so good they should be illegal. Seeking his approval, or perhaps a part in his next novel, Congress quickly ratified the law. The NYC exception was hastily added once President Buchanan remembered that city's Jews controlled the country's banking industry. The law has remained on the books to this day.

How come there are no Jewish hunters?
Jews are excellent gatherers. Sometimes it's just best to stick with what you know.

Can Orthodox Jews listen to Bloodrock on Fridays?
Yes, they can, assuming they turn the music off before sundown. But why would they want to, when they could instead listen to the wholesome Jewish stylings of the Beastie Boys? (There is also a small sect calling themselves "Jews for Jesus Jones," but that just ain't right, here or now. We pay them no mind.)

Falen is also interested in the details of Hebrew cuisine:
Have you ever eaten Lox? If so, what does it taste like?
Ah, yes. Bagels and lox, the loaves and fishes of the Jewish people. I've tried lox on a couple of occasions. It tastes like heaven on a rainy day.4

4 Little known fact: On rainy days, heaven tastes exactly like cured salmon fillet.

My sister Naomi (non-anonymously, this time) asks:
What is the difference between Hanukkah candles and non-Chanukah candles? And why don't they have any of the former in Boise or Spokane?
There is no difference; Hanukkah candles are non-Chanukah candles. It's all in the spelling. And there are none in the Boise/Spokane area because of the Hawthorne Candle Act of 1858.

She follows that up with a rather leading question:
What makes half-Jewish babies so gosh-darn cute?

There are three schools of thought on this matter:

1. They're not actually cute; Jews in mixed-faith marriages are simply biased toward their babies' Jewishy looks. (Yeah, this theory is complete and utter rubbish. As evidence, I submit to you Exhibit Photo-On-the-Left.)
2. It's not the Jewish that makes them cute; it's the half. Babies that are half anything are cute. Half-Asian kids are adorable. Demigods are breathtaking. Half-caf lattes, I could drink those right up.
3. Um, duh. They're babies.

And Anton Lewis brings the session to a close with:
How do Jews find true love?
Before online dating, Orthodox Jews would go to a matchmaker. Dances were held on Friday nights and they aren't allowed to turn on lights after sundown, so they needed to strike matches in order to be able to see their suitors' faces. Unfortunately, this method led to numerous concussions and burned down many a dance hall.

Today, people use There they might find some love, but not true love, because online dating profiles are rife with lies.

There's only one way that has always worked: fiddlin' on rooftops. Jews are drawn to rooftop fiddlers like moths to a flame, only without the smell of burnt moth at the end.

So there you have it. Just fiddle on a rooftop, and you'll find your true love. It's tradition. Tradition!

There we are: twelve questions asked, twelve questions answered. I'm glad I could help you understand so much about the Jewish people. Go forth and share your new knowledge. Amaze your friends! Startle your enemies! And most of all, make sure you flip your latkes in the air sometimes.

« UPDATED 12/23 »
And then (then!) another Anonymous belatedly asks:
What does the conservative branch of Judaism say about sexual fetishes — whether they are allowed when consensual?
For the love of Christ, conservative Jews don't give a lick if you have a sexual fetish. But tell me, when are you going to find yourself a nice Jewish girl and settle down? Your father and I worry.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Posts of Christmas Past

Before I get to Christmas, let me speak briefly of Hanukkah. For the second straight year, I shall do you a service (and my religion a disservice) by answering any question you have about Judaism. And I mean any question. Does all that penny-pinching hurt our fingers? What's the appropriate topping for latkes? How and when shall we exact our revenge upon Mel Gibson? Just leave your question in the comments section of my previous post by this Wednesday, and it shall be answered.

But now, onto Christmas. December is always a busy time, and I expect the holidays to be even busier this year as we celebrate The Professor's First Christmas.™ Thus, starting this Friday, I will be dipping into my archives to bring you the posts of Christmas past. Like a fruitcake that rises from the ashes year after year, my yuletide posts will never die.

Which is a fitting intro, since I'll begin with...
  • Christmas Carols for the Zombie Apocalypse (Dec 23)
  • Not a Creature Stirring (Dec 24)
  • The 12 Twisted Days of Christmas (Dec 25 - Jan 5)
That's two straight weeks of Grade-A recycled humor, folks. And it'll be new to most of you; the Twisted 12 are from back when The Wheel only had a half-dozen readers.1

So why don't you cozy on up to the fire and grab yourself some nog (or some chestnuts). I'll be back soon with my own particular brand of Christmas, and you won't want to miss it.2

1 Plus, I'll be editing the posts to make them even better. No, not like George Lucas messing with Star Wars. I may make Darth Vader scream out "Nooooooooo!" but I can assure you there will be absolutely no Jar-Jar Binks.
2 Or maybe you will want to miss it. After all, there's no accounting for taste. (Although, thanks to Price Waterhouse Coopers, there is accounting for Taste, Inc.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Judaism But Were Afraid to Ask

That's right, goys and girls: It's that time again.

Two years ago I gave you Uncle Nate's Wholly Unsubstantiated Hanukkah Primer. Last year, in my first Jew & A session, one crazy guy explained eight crazy nights. So, break out your dreidels and gefilte fish, since once again...

I will answer any question you have about Judaism.

Have you ever wondered why God chose to talk to Moses from inside a flaming shrubbery? Why challah is braided while French bread isn't? Why Orthodox Jews can't listen to Black Sabbath on the Sabbath? Why the Hebrews are so obsessed with bagels and lox? Any question you might have, I have the answer.

And don't hesitate to ask a question simply because I've answered it before. As everyone knows, religions as old as Judaism don't survive by remaining constant; they constantly have to adapt and evolve. Thus, my answers to any repeat inquiries will undoubtedly be different this time around.

So, if you're curious about some aspect of Judaism, whether cultural, historical, pedagogical, or megalomaniacal, just post your question (or questions) in the comments section below. In one week, on the first day of Hanukkah (12/21), all shall be revealed.

Monday, December 12, 2011

I'll Take Blogging for 200, Alex

Wow. Two hundred posts. That's either the start of a really long fence, or a middling output for a blog. And I already have a fence.

Although most bloggers have churned out two or three times as many posts in the same span, for me this is quite the accomplishment. In fact, I'm rather surprised I've reached 200 already. Have I really written that many things worth sharing?1

I originally started The Wheel as a way to entertain friends and family without having to share my novel with them before it was ready.2 Unfortunately, with The Professor watching over me these past five months it's become harder to find much time to write at all. Not only have I been ignoring my novel and expending less effort on my blog, but I've also been visiting other blogs less. I'd feel guilty, but just look at that face. You can't say no to that face. Especially since he doesn't know what "no" means.3

Anyway, thanks in part to the motivation techniques of one Joseph Selby, I'm now back on the wagon. That is to say, I'm headed west with enough bullets to smite every buffalo between here and Oregon, and I should make good time as long as I don't get dysentery. Also, I'm writing fiction again.

In the past week, I've touched up a short story I hope to get published, and started working again on my novel. Though I have less free time than I used to, I hope to manage it more wisely, so I can continue to entertain you here, but also push my novel toward completion. You know, the one with the invisible monkeys. (Don't worry, it's better than it sounds. Even if you already think it sounds awesome.)

Anyway, I should finish up this post so I can do something more novel. Like play peek-a-boo with The Professor.

1 No, no I haven't. Two of my posts were complete rubbish.
2 It's still not ready. But hey, you can't rush genius. Nor, apparently, can you rush mediocre wit with an abundance of adverbs.
3 Usually, no means no. But sometimes, no can mean "Yes, but I'm not about to tell you that," "Maybe later," or "Holy cheese biscuits! I don't believe it!"