Sunday, July 31, 2011

Misapplied Brilliance

Now, this story is nuts. 

Here we have a brilliant woman (although she did not finish college she landed high-paying jobs on Wall Street) who lets a loser into her life. He claims to be a detective, but spends all day on the couch watching cop show reruns. 

Eventually, his sleaziness comes to a head and she brings charges against him. 

In revenge, he frames her. Not only does he frame her, he frames her so well that she rots in prison for 7 months, taken away from her child and her career in ruins. 

This guy has the brains to frame her and get away with it, and yet he spends his day channel-surfing. What sort of evil genius could he have been if he actually tried to excel?
What a waste. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cornel West, Brother

The NYTimes Magazine was interviewing Cornel West, the prominent professor, writer, thinker, you name it.

A few thought provoking points:

NYT: But you have also acknowledged that this is more than just political — you’ve said that after campaigning for him at 65 events, you were miffed that he didn’t return your phone calls or say thank you. 
CW: I think he had to keep me at a distance. There’s no doubt that he didn’t want to be identified with a black leftist. But we’re talking about one phone call, man. That’s all. One private phone call. 
NYT: He was running a successful candidacy for president. He might have been busy. 
CW: So many of the pundits assume that it’s just egoism: “Who does Cornel West think he is? The president is busy.” But there’s such a thing as decency in human relations. 

Always remember to show hakaras hatov.  

NYT: How can Obama be the president you want him to be when he’s facing this Republican Congress? 
CW: I’ll put it this way, brother: You’ve got to be a thermostat rather than a thermometer. A thermostat shapes the climate of opinion; a thermometer just reflects it. If you’re just going to reflect it and run by the polls, then you’re not going to be a transformative president. Lincoln was a thermostat. Johnson and F.D.R., too.  

That analogy really got me thinking. If one wants to bring change, as we learn from the Chofetz Chaim, one starts by changing themselves, not the world around them. One person can bring a difference by not reflecting the current world order.  By the same token, one cannot demand change if they go along with everyone else.

And he also has a sense of humor. 

NYT: What’s with the black suit, white shirt, black tie outfit you always wear? Do you have anything else in your closet? 
CW: I’ve got four black suits that I circulate, and they are my cemetery clothes — my uniform that keeps me ready for battle. 

NYT: Your cemetery clothes? 
It’s ready to die, brother. If I drop dead, I am coffin-ready. I got my tie, my white shirt, everything. Just fix my Afro nice in the coffin.

Be prepared, but don't fear death. I like it.  

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Terrible Means to What End?

I recently heard this story, and it left me chilled. 

There is a couple out there, who were, until now, happily married with two children. Except that the wife has just discovered that her husband has a debilitating, degenerative, eventually fatal, disease. 

If that isn't horrible enough, it turns out that he was diagnosed . . . before they married.

This tale had me break out into a cold sweat. Never mind the halachic consequences (the kesubah can be rendered void) but the emotional toll, how so many people's lives are shattered. 

So many steps to get to this point - parents hearing the news their child will suffer and die, and how that tears them up inside, but then to marry him off while withholding that information, knowing what havoc this will eventually cause, but being so frightened and wanting a normal life for their child while it is still possible. 

One can feel the family's pain. But that doesn't make it okay. 

I am not going to blame "society" for this; I have always found the argument for peer-pressure to be a weak one.  In the end, we are all, every individual, responsible for our own behavior. 

A few years back a woman wrote into Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis in The Jewish Press; her son has bipolar disorder and was dating someone seriously. The girl did not know about the illness. Her husband told her not to tell the potential daughter-in-law. 

I found the fact that the mother had to consult someone to begin with was disturbing. Despite all we are taught - morals, the evils of gneivas daas, the prohibition of lying, it is now acceptably thought of  by some that the ends justify the means. 

But here, the ends are merely transitory! It is a band-aid, a temporary measure. Eventually the truth will out and harm many more. 

It is at times like these when the training we have had as Jews should begin to kick in. It is about doing what is right in painful situations such as these. The choice should be clear.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

David Mamet Quote

A few weeks ago, David Mamet was interviewed by the NYTimes Magazine. It seems, in his old age, he is identifying with his people more.

This part is interesting:  

NYT: Sometimes in the book I thought you were just trying to anger some of your liberal friends, like when you wrote the West sees the Middle East conflict as “entertainment.”
Mamet: No, I think that it’s true. There has always been a different standard for the Jews. We’re like “honorary Aryans,” as Hitler said of the Japanese. That means that we’re human beings only when it suits the world to treat us as human beings. There’s a pretty good book on the subject — the Torah.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Battle of the Bulge: The Joys of Whole Wheat

In my teenage years, I would be stricken by violent stomach upsets every Motzei Shabbos, and I didn't know from what. Experimentally I tried whole wheat challah, and they went away. 

White flour is a scary being. 

White flour is stripped of the most nutrient-rich parts of the grain. It also is processed in a way which makes it instantly absorbed when it reaches the intestine. Unlike whole grains-which take a much longer time to be digested, absorbed, and broken down into energy, white flour immediately raises your blood sugar levels, much in the same way sugar does. 

That means that after you eat it, your body has two choices: either burn it off immediately, or store it as fat. Usually, unless you are working out while eating your flour tortilla, that means that it is stored as fat. 

Lastly, because of the instant elevation of your blood sugar level (which is also shown to be unhealthy), the later instant drop of your blood sugar will likely leave you hungry. White flour and sugar are very similar in the ways they effect our energy, bodies and health. Both can be major contributors to weight gain. 

If your diet is filled with a lot of white flour, you are likely missing out on some major nutrition necessities, and feeling very hungry a lot of the time. It's OK to have a little now and then, but it's much better for your health and your waistline to eat whole grains instead. - 

Due to recent years whole wheat awareness, there are many, many products available. 

Whole wheat lokshen is now available in supermarkets, and by kosher brands.

For cakes, I use whole wheat pastry flour. The only brand that I have found to be light and airy enough is Arrowhead Mills Organic Pastry Flour (it's carried my local kosher supermarket, and Shoprite, to my knowledge).

Be aware that when baking with whole wheat flour, baking powder should be omitted. I found that out the hard way, after cleaning out the oven after repeated overflows. The resulting cake has a great dimension, and is filling in its own right, meaning that unlike white flour cakes, I can actually say, "I've had enough."

I adore this cereal: Barbara's Bakery Shredded Oats. It's delicious, despite the name; I buy it from a nearby Trader Joe's. It passes the real test: the kiddies love it as well as the whole wheat cake. It's currently my picky nephew's main food supply.

Favorite Matzoh: Kemach Whole Wheat Matzohs.

Favorite cracker? Landau's. The ones that are hexagon-shaped. 
Practically all wheat-based products are available in whole wheat nowadays; I've even found soup croutons. But being whole wheat doesn't automatically make it healthy; still check the nutritional facts for fat, sugar, and fiber content (less of the first two, more of the last). 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

BBM leads to . . . Botox?

There is now a sharp rise in Botox injections for the "young" bracket. 

"Smartphone Squint" causes fine lines and wrinkles on women long before they would otherwise occur, sending rather young women to plastic surgeons for "Blackberry Botox."
Another objection I have to cellphone technology . . .

Friday, July 22, 2011

Shabbos Face: Indestructible Eyeliner

Having taken care of the initial layer of face by priming and foundation-ing, time to move onto the eyes. 

I start with eyelining first since it is easier to fix any errant traces before eyeshadow is applied.

In order to make powder eyeliner last a really long time (and, my, does it last) I invested in Make Up For Ever Eye Seal. I have discovered that it works best with loose powder, rather than pressed, and the previously mentioned Bare Escentuals Liner Shadow is a great match with it. 

Shake or tap a very small amount of liner powder out of the holder into a plastic disposable, like a plastic cup or plate. Drip a drop of the seal onto the liner powder, and quickly mix together with the liner brush, creating a richly colored liquid. Then line the lower eye-lid (not the waterline).
A dampened q-tip can fix any boo-boos. 

The seal, after it dries, makes the brush bristles rock hard. Before I line, I take a cup (plastic or otherwise; my choice is the enamel cup I use for my paintbrushes) add a little water and soap. I let it soak over Shabbos. Then it's good as new. (Whenever drying brush bristles, run the towel in the direction of the bristles, not against.)

When I use this seal, it won't even wash off on Motzei Shabbos. I have to moisten a q-tip in oil or makeup remover to get it off. I started instead to use it for the two- or three-day yom tov, and man, it lasts all three days. No kidding.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Nars Pure Matte Lipstick in Carthage

I just had to gush about the new member of my makeup family: I introduce Nars Pure Matte Lipstick in Carthage.

It has the matte consistency that, until now, I thought was only available in Mac. But Mac doesn't have many vibrant pinks in Matte; they tend to be very tame. 

I love the tube, that it is tall and thin. It provides accuracy with applying, meaning I don't need a lip brush. Carthage is a color more appropriate for the summer than winter, so I am having fun with it now.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Date Long and Prosper

While walking on a Shabbos afternoon last year, I came across my neighbor, a sweet girl of about 21, with a boy. We smiled and wished each other Gut Shabbos, and continued on our ways.
I figured, if the two are "walking out" together, then the engagement must be imminent. Time passed, to the point I thought maybe it wasn't my neighbor I had come across. But three months later, the engagement was made official. 

The family didn't do the usual three-months-or-less wedding; the invitations were for six months from the vort.

Since a couple wouldn't stroll about in public unless they had already reached an "understanding," I calculated that altogether, they would have been a courting or engaged couple for a year.

Her older sister had the same time frame. And it was by her wedding that I saw, probably for the first time ever, a couple having the commune of souls.

I did not see, as I usually do, any of the worries that often surface on the couple' faces under the chuppah. No rigid stances, darting eyes, nervous twitching, hand-wringing, clinging to the mother, or prostrate sobbing.

In her eagerness, the kallah took the aisle at a dead run. The chosson kept gazing at her, and her alone. They  smiled and laughed. I had never seen before such certainty in a chosson and kallah; they were free of any doubts. 

They really knew each other. 

(To clarify, I am not a romantic.)

Despite the family's financial comfort, they felt no need to rush the dating or wedding proceedings, and their daughters went to the chuppah knowing everything about their grooms, their likes, dislikes, their personalities, through and through. 

It is very possible that by the third date, they were definite: this guy is for me. Yet they still dated, holding off the inevitable; I think, for the better. 

It was their chuppah that made me think very differently of weddings. These two experiences remain the golden standard, in my view. 

Dating for some is like ticking off a box on a checklist, as though getting married should be done as quickly as possible to prove efficiency.

Perhaps I will be so bold as to say that some really want a party as soon as possible, and don't even think about  the fact that they will be spending the rest of their lives with this person. 

The party will happen; if they were willing to wait a little, how can that hurt?

I don't know what the future will bring, or how long my own courtship will take. But I would love to be able to achieve with my future significant other, before marriage, that true sense of friendship, ease in each other's company, and that definite assurance, to the point of casualness, that he is my bashert. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Periodically Bursting into Song

I spent a lot of my childhood watching musicals. Yes, musicals, where the characters are walking along, and suddenly an orchestra swells and backup dancers appear, only to conveniently melt into the shadows when the number is over.
In high school, I would sit on the bus with my walkman and the Les Miserables soundtrack I pinched from my sister, playing it over and over and over. I've since purchased it in CD form, and my fascination has not waned.

Not all musicals are equal, however. The catchiness of the tunes depends on the composer, and while some movies or Broadway shows are pleasant to watch one rarely walks along singing the tunes to themselves. Try humming "Trouble" from Music Man. Robert Preston, poor dear, couldn't really sing, like Rex Harrison, so the two perfected "talk-sing." Sometimes all the songs can sound the same in one musical.

For those at all interested in that lovely time (the '50s, mostly) where magnificent musicals took place (Sound of Music doesn't make the cut because of its overexposure), I'm starting a new segment: Knowing Your Musicals

Today's recommendation: 

Gigi (1958), which tops my list. If I'm channel surfing and this is on TCM, I stop. The topic matter (a family of courtesans) went completely over my head as a kid thanks to the discretion of the time, but it is superbly done, not over-acted, which has a tendency to occur in early films (hats off to Vincente Minnelli, the director).
I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore, which contains many gut varts, which bored me the most as a child, is now my mantra.
Below are the lyrics: 

I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore

(Lyrics : Alan Jay Lerner / Music : Frederick Loewe)

Poor boy! Poor boy!
Down-hearted and depressed and in a spin
Poor boy! Poor boy!
Oh, youth can really do a fellow in!

How lovely to sit here in the shade
With none of the woes of man and maid
I'm glad I'm not young anymore

The rivals that don't exist at all
The feeling you're only two feet tall
I'm glad that I'm not young anymore

No more confusion
No morning-after surprise
No self-delusion
That when you're telling those lies
She isn't wise

And even if love comes through the door
The chance that goes on forevermore
Forevermore is shorter than before
Oh, I'm so glad that I'm not young anymore

The tiny remark that tortures you
The fear that your friends won't like her too
I'm glad I'm not young anymore
The longing to end the stale affair
Until you find out she doesn't care
I'm glad that I'm not young anymore

No more frustration
No star-crossed lover am I
No aggravation
Just one reluctant reply
"Lady, goodbye!"

The Fountain of Youth is dull as paint
Methuselah is my patron saint
I've never been so comfortable before
Oh, I'm so glad that I'm not young anymore

Sunday, July 17, 2011


NYTimes had an article today on email etiquette, which I always thought I was alone in: unanswered emails. The thing is with the internet is that despite its established reliability, there is always that concern that an email did not arrive due to misspelled address, rerouting to spam, or simple evaporation along the way.
I would prefer if my emails are not ignored for too long - I recently had an somewhat embarrassing experience where I emailed a former classmate, and when I did not receive a response I asked another classmate if the address was still in use. I then received a response from the original intended party that the address was correct. But in the meantime I look stupid as I was obviously being ignored, or she could not take the ten seconds to send me an email.  

There should be accepted minimum of response time.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Who Asked You?

With place card in hand, I attempted to locate my table at the bustling wedding. There was already a middle-aged woman seated. 

We exchanged pleasantries as I approached the table. 



"Nice to meet you."


"I don't know any single boys, but try her over there."

I had been in the process of sitting down, and I froze in mid-air. 

Beg pardon?  

Did I say something? I've already forgotten your name, lady, and yet you are happy to inform me that I am chalishing for your non-existent shidduch services? 

One of the annoyances with the current state of things are that anyone who wants to feel important simply starts saying things like "shidduch." 

Never mind if they have actually made a shidduch, but they know that they can say and do whatever they want, providing they drop words like "redt." 

But I will not be dragged down. I will keep my dignity, dammit. 

I slowly complete the descent, smiling coolly, and focus my attentions on the fish.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I'm not really sure why various colors are sold for eyeshadow and eyeliner. In the end, the only color (in terms of the prism, I suppose it's technically lack of color) should be black. The deepest, darkest, richest black. 

If the ancient Egyptians felt no need to use anything other than kohl, one can't quibble. Cruel overlords yes, but really quite stylish. 
The many following cultures didn't modify the hue of eyeliner, and I think it still stands as the most flattering.

I've noticed that many girls (BY or otherwise) are now using liquid eyeliner. The annoying thing about liquid eyeliner is that one has to be really good at putting it on, or else it looks amateurish. Unless one has the steadiest hands in the West (was that Wyatt Erp?) the recommended way to apply it is to stretch the eyelid to the side and hold it down, providing a neat line to paint.
Ladies, don't do it! Think of your future!

For a while I was sitting on the train with a middle-aged woman with sagging eyelids. Droopy, bag-like eyelids.

My method of choice? One that has been touted as "idiot-proof."

Not exactly flattering, but I'll take what I can.

First, what's needed is an eyeliner brush. I like the Ecotools Eyeliner Brush, which is flat and slanted, but one doesn't have to be particular about the brand. 

It can be flat, slanted or unslanted, or thin with a pointy tip. There is a lot of wiggle room with "idiot-proof."

Next, powder eyeliner. I am currently using the Illamasqua Eye Liner Cake in Mislead, a pressed powder.
I would also recommend Bare Escentuals bareMinerals Liner Shadow in Onyx, which is made from loose pigments.
Thirdly, slightly moisten the brush. It took me a while to find the right ratio of color to water. I run it under the water then dab it once, lightly, on a tissue. Work the tip of the bristles into the liner,  making sure the color and water have blended sufficiently and . . . well, line.

I basically focus on my lower lash line, as if one is not a pro at applying it the upper lid, the eyes can end up looking smaller and oddly shaped—I've tried, unsuccessfully, although I can probably improve with practice (too lazy at the moment). 

A tip I picked up from Michelle Phan is to go underneath the upper lashes and press the liner into there, giving an effect of fuller lashes. For those of us gals who wear contacts (the frantic blinking reflex has been suppressed), it shouldn't be too difficult.

Some would recommend applying the liner to the waterline (the inner rim of the eye which tends to be damp) but I find that makes the eye look smaller. 

There is no need to hold onto the eyelid when applying powder eyeliner. If there are any boo-boos, a dampened q-tip can easily fix them.  

Powder eyeliner does not run the way other eyeliners do; before I tried this, I looked like an extra in a zombie movie before noon. This stuff stays put providing you don't bawl. And if one really needs it to stay on, I've got tips for that, too. That's a Shabbos Face post, comin' soon. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Find the Philistines!

At least, that's what they're trying to do. Check out this story

Monday, July 11, 2011

P&P and the Folks

For any die-hard Pride & Prejudice lover (which I believe is 97% of the female population), the 1996 miniseries starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth is parked on the bookshelf next to the dog-eared paperback copy. 

What I am consistently struck by the film (or Jane Austen adaptations in general) is how it can teach so much about proper behavior. How to look composed, how to be polite, how to respect parents.
Repeatedly, Mrs. Bennett says something that causes, not only humiliation to her family, but damage to the marriage desirability of her daughters. Bingley was convinced by Darcy to head for the hills because of her lack of "breeding," as they would say.

Yet, no matter Lizzie's comfort in telling-off others—Mr. Darcy, Mr. Collins, Lady Catherine—she never raises her voice to her mother. 

For many of us, getting heated with parents is all too easy. I am no exception. I am usually flooded with shame following loss of control, thinking how Englishmen in the 1800s knew how to behave, while I, with the commandment to honor my parents, need constant reminding.

Even if I did have a legitimate excuse for frustration (which I sheepishly confess I don't) that wouldn't make any loss of control okay. When I try to make changes to my automatic behavior, I focus on how terrible I felt as I wallowed in regret. Sort of like those shock-collars on too-loud dogs. That is my deterrent. 

But this spaniel is not catching on as fast as I would like. Focus, girl.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

He's Watching You

This morning the NY Times Metropolitan Section has a lengthy article about a Jewish - more specifically, Bobover - private eye who serves the Jewish community. 

He sounds like an amazing person, who won't let his principles be compromised by his clients. I highly recommend reading the story. 

What is sad, though, is something that I've noticed with those who are mental health professionals or social workers who work mainly with other Jews: The "Sewer" Complex.

A psychologist who is a frequent Shabbos guest once wearily described himself as a sewer; the refuse waste of the community runs through him. Eventually, after dealing with the worst the Jewish world can offer, such helpers despair of the goodness of human nature.

It is sad that often it is the best and most willing to help are collateral damage of their own good intentions.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Gaultier's Chassidim
On Shabbos afternoon I was flipping through June's Vogue. There was a page of four of Jean-Paul Gaultier's favorite collections.

Number 3 was his Fall 1993 looks, entitled Les Rabbins Chic. It was in '93, so I didn't remember it from then. Gaultier says as follows:

I was walking past the Public Library on Fifth Avenue in New York when I saw a group of Hasidic men, and I was so impressed by the quiet elegance of their clothes; how wonderful it is to be proud of who you are and where you come from! While I was designing this collection, I read a lot about Jewish culture; truly it was a real homage. I showed it in the Galerie Vivienne, with Jewish music played live. It's one of the collections I'm most proud of. 

The caption on the photo reads "His playfully respectful take on Hasidic dress, September 1993."

It's one of the collections he is most proud of? Who would've thunk it? He took what he perceived as personal pride and created a collection hoping to reflect that. While I do not come from Chassidishe family (although I have a little Belz and Satmar blood through female lines) but I'm actually a little touched that a French  designer of Haute Couture can look back on a Chassidishe-inspired collection done nearly twenty years ago and think of it as his favorite.

Gaultier is definitely not a typical designer; his creations can range from the wearable to wacky. I have yet to find one of his pieces on sale that flatters me, but hope springs eternal.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Monsterpiece Theater

Couldn't resist. One of my favorite segments in Sesame Street was Alistair Cookie.
Ever since I was pretty young and the only one in house who knew how to operate a VCR, I've been taping and watching the adaptations of classic novels (romantic ones, yes). It infinitely beats reading them, in many cases. 

Often there will be new adaptations every few years, but not all are the same.

Every girl knows of the sacred 1996 version of P&P with Colin Firth, so it has an honorary mention.
Persuasion (1996) starring Amanda Root and Ciarin Hindes. A perfect adaptation;
Emma (2009) starring Romola Garai. Ms. Austen was not intending a likable character in Emma, but one forgives this  Emma nearly everything. The last minute or two is rather saccharine, but it'll do;
Daniel Deronda (written by George Elliot). There is a Jewish angle that makes it a must-see. Visually gorgeous, but be aware that it is not for young viewers;
Wives & Daughters (written by Elizabeth Gaskell). With a lovable protagonist, an enjoyable watch;
Sense & Sensibility (2008) starring Hatty Morahan and Charity Wakefield. While no one can outdo Kate Winslet's Marianne or Greg Wise's Willoughby, this version possesses more detail and accuracy (A 36-year-old Eleanor? That's how old Colonel Brandon is supposed to be, not 50!) The only "raunchy" scene is the opening 60 seconds;
And last, but certainly not least: 

North & South (written by Elizabeth Gaskell) Frankly, I think this outdoes even P&P for me. There were times that I stopped breathing. I purchased it based on the rave reviews on Amazon, and boy, does it deliver.
I do not have any Charles Dickens recommendations, as I stopped bothering with his books/adaptations since they are based in misery and, once I got used to his style, I'm now able to guess the ending (girl with unknown parentage is walking down the street. She bumps into a man who really takes his time apologizing. Guess what? It's Daddy!)

Jane Eyre I didn't review as there are numerous versions, and I really can't get myself to understand the plot at all. I can't stand suicidal heroines; wandering along the moors without a destination in mind seems like a stupid thing to do.  


Tuesday, July 5, 2011


After covering AHA, now on to BHA.

The only BHA - Beta Hydroxy Acid - in face care is salicylic acid. It is the best treatment option for acne in general. When I had my milia breakout, I found that salicylic acid, as well as glycolic acid, are good products to treat them with.

While there are salicylic acid products available, there is a very effective homemade version.
Aspirin has high amounts of salicylic acid; one can make  a  scrub/mask (thank you, Google!) I bought up the last few bottles of cheap uncoated aspirin in the drugstore (the law was recently changed requiring all aspirin to be coated) and ground them with a mortar and pestle found at Homegoods for $5.
Or try a pill crusher

Cheap generic aspirin, like those that can be found at 99 cents stores, can also be used. 

The crushed results are very fine and can easily be inhaled, causing violent sneezing, so mix the results with aloe gel or honey (every Jewish household has that) to bind it together (plus these ingredients are good for the skin). Water is not much use as a binder. I learned that the hard way.
Take a washcloth and scrub it onto the face, or shmear it on as a face mask and leave it for a half hour or so. I advise the washcloth since when I used my fingers to apply, they ended up being seriously pruned.

I had also tried this with coated aspirin when I had run out - I soaked the pills for little bit, loosening the covering, then sliced it off. Really boring and tedious, but for the face, I go above and beyond.

If this sounds too complicated, others have sworn by Origins Spot Remover

You want a high concentration of salicylic acid, between 1-2%

Always, always, always moisturize afterward. The skin is a little shocked after such treatment and needs TLC. If one is acne prone or has milia, an oil-free moisturizer is key.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Patrotic Puppets

In honor of the bonny Fourth of July, I present the felt friends of our childhood. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

No. Way. Update

The Jewish Week published letters in response to the Orthodox Shabbos texting issue, and two were very informative. 

One, written by professors at YU, showed that the statistics used in the article was based on a very small sample, 17 teenagers. Another poll was done with 1,200 individuals, and while there were professed texters, the percentage was not half, but rather approximately 17%. While the amount of Shabbos violators (in web surfing, for instance, as well) is not as high as originally reported, it is still a disturbing rate.

Another letter highlighted a point I did not pick up on in the original article. For some reason, the author of the article compares texting on Shabbos to not wearing a yarmulka or women not covering hair, claiming they are somehow the same in halachic violation. 

Now of course, those examples are not remotely comparable to the issue at hand. For a man to be bareheaded at work or in public is not against halacha, as the letter-writer says. 

As for women not covering their hair, that is more of a gray issue - the Shulchan Aruch says that girls the age of 12 and over should cover their hair. Obviously, due to cultural norms, no matter what sect of Judaism one identifies with, no Jewish teenage girls cover their hair, so technically we are all in violation of halacha. 

There is no statement in the Torah about women being required to cover hair, and according to what I could read up on it was a matter of halachic debate so there is no established bottom line. For a married woman not to cover her hair, I think it is safe to say, is not a violation of halacha along the lines of desecrating Shabbos.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Dressing for Men: The Tie

My father hasn't bought his own clothing in thirty years. You think something as serious as wardrobe is going to be left to a man who just wants to buy the first thing he sees so he can leave?


The only time my brother Owen speaks to me with respect is if I call him up asking if he needs a coat. In this, he trusts me.

Needless to say, I have a lot of tips I can offer the gentlemen.

Today I will be discussing ties.

Ties should not match the suit itself; they should contrast, or compliment, such as matching the pinstripe.

Gray suits: blue, red, green, yellow, pink - anything but gray or silver.

Blue suits: red, green, gray, yellow, pink, brown - steer clear of navy.

Black suits: no navy or brown, anything else okay.

Stripes on ties are very good, but either the suit or shirt should be solid. Owen once showed up in a kaleidoscope of stripes; I felt dizzy.

Be very careful with floral. Some ties can look a little overdone.
Like so. The blooms are too big and too many.

Tread carefully with plaid. I would say that the rest of the look should be as simple as possible, meaning solid suit and shirt. Then the look can be classy.
There are also many other styles and varieties of patterns available, of course. A few pointers: 

Shiny/Iridescent: best with a solid color, perhaps stripes of the same color but different shade are okay, with a simple pattern. Then the tie is distracting rather than enhancing. 

Paisley: I, personally, am not a fan of it in any shape or form.

Novelty: NO. Just NO.