A Podcast About Jewish Kidlit (Mostly)

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

BLOG TOUR: Super Pop! Pop Culture Top Ten Lists to Help You Win at Trivia, Survive in the Wild, and Make It Through the Holidays

Everybody loves Top Ten lists, so I was pleased to be invited to host a blog tour stop for Super Pop!  Author Dan Harmon claims that Top Ten lists are not just fun, they can be used for self improvement. He has organized his lists into helpful categories such as "Be More Interesting" and "Find Happiness."  The countdown lists within those categories have unusual themes such as "Find Your Calling: All-Consuming Hobbies for Your Consideration" and "Sleep with the Fishes: The Ten Best Places to Find Your Spirit Animal." The lists are populated by books, movies, TV shows, comics, podcasts, video games and songs - anything "that people can reasonably expect to consume for fun."

Harmon annotates each entry with a paragraph or so that is sometimes snarky, sometimes witty, and always entertaining. I don't always agree with his choices; for instance, "Drink the Kool-Aid: Touchstones for Quirky, Like-Minded People" includes Star Trek and Doctor Who, but leaves out Firefly. However, the pleasure of Top Ten lists is not just in recognizing one's own favorites, but in discovering new things to explore. For instance, "Adopt a More Outlandish Childhood: Because Some Kids Have All the (Bad) Luck"    has gotten me interested in the book A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes: " This book is everyone's childhood, plus real, live, PIRATES."

I looked carefully through Super Pop! and could find no Jewish content at all. The "Survive the Holidays" category includes only lists for secular American holidays plus Valentine's Day and Christmas. "Not that there's anything wrong with that," to quote Seinfeld. However, to add some Jewish flair to my post, I asked my Facebook friends and fans to suggest their own favorite Jewish moments or personalities from pop culture. They came up with wonderful answers, especially Sheyna Galyan and Sheryl Stahl, who were really on a roll! Here is our collective list of Top Twenty-Five Jewish Pop Culture References. Enjoy!

1. The rabbi baseball cards seen in Keeping the Faith with Ben Stiller - Diane Zweiman Weidenbaum
2. Bontche Schweig - Dru Simon
3. Matisyahu - Scott Scheinhaus
4. Superman - Barbara Krasner
5. Jerry Seinfeld - Wendy A. Marx
6. Adam Sandler's Hanukkah Song - Terry Borzumato-Greenberg:
7. Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks' 2000 Year Old Man - Terry Borzumato-Greenberg
8. Yiddish words being used in the mainstream, such as knaidle winning the spelling bee - Leela Fireside
9. Rabbi Harvey - Wendy Weitzner Wasman
10: You Won't Succeed On Broadway (If You Don't Have Any Jews) from Spamalot - Sharie Remeny Gladner
11. Woody Allen - Sheyna Galyan
12. Fiddler on the Roof - Sheyna Galyan
13. Moses parting the Red Sea in DeMille's The Ten Commandments - Sheyna Galyan
14. Sandy Koufax refusing to pitch in the 1965 World Series because it was on Yom Kippur - Sheyna Galyan
15. Mr. Spock's Vulcan salute - Sheyna Galyan
16. Michael Feldman, comedian/host of public radio's Whad'ya Know? - Matthew Ransom
17. The Frisco Kid - Sheryl Stahl
18. The Producers - Sheryl Stahl
19. To Be or Not to Be, the Jack Benny version and the Mel Brooks version - Sheryl Stahl
20. The Hebrew Hammer - Sheryl Stahl
21. Ushpizin - Sheryl Stahl
22. The Band's Visit - Sheryl Stahl
23. Funny Girl - Sheryl Stahl
24. When Do We Eat? - Sheryl Stahl
25. The song Hava Nagila - Heidi Rabinowitz Estrin

For the other stops on the Super Pop! blog tour, click here.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Super Pop! Blog Tour

On Tuesday, June 11, 2013 The Book of Life will be a blog tour stop for Super Pop! Pop Culture Lists to Help You Win at Trivia, Survive in the Wild, and Make It Through the Holidays by Daniel Harmon (published by Zest Books, June 2013, $16.99; ISBN 9781936976362). It was short notice but I couldn't resist the chance to participate because the book looks like so much fun. Here's the description sent to me by Zest Books:

As David Letterman demonstrates on the Late Show, top ten lists are really funny. And we know lists are a great way to get organized, get things done, and streamline life’s many tasks. But now, pop culture expert Daniel Harmon takes a totally new approach to list making in his new book Super Pop! and organizes 500 movies, songs, video games, and books into top ten lists that not only have the power to entertain, but also to help create a new and better you!

To put a Jewish spin on the theme of Top Ten lists, I'd like to invite you to help me brainstorm Jewish pop culture icons, whether those are people, fictional characters, movie scenes, music... the sky's the limit. You can leave a comment below, or on The Book of Life Facebook page. On Tuesday we'll see what fun ideas we've come up with!

For more info about the book and a list of all the stops on the blog tour, click here!

Sunday, June 02, 2013

The Schmutzy Family

At the ALA conference in 2012, I interviewed the folks at Holiday House about the hilarious Shabbat picture book, The Schmutzy Family by Madelyn Rosenberg. This family embraces the messiness of life, but also knows the peace of orderliness.




Produced by: Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel 
Supported in part by: Association of Jewish Libraries 
Theme music: The Freilachmakers Klezmer String Band 
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