April 26, 2006

Israel Elijah-pendence Day

I am pleased to present Israel Elijah-pendence Day! Part Two in what will hopefully be a trilogy of web cartoons brought to you by Taglit-birthright israel. Yet another cliffhanger, this cartoon, a celebration of Yom Ha'atzma'ut, picks up where our hero, the Prophet Elijah Wood, and his reluctant birthright israel participants left off in Part One, the Passover cartoon Elijah the Prophet.

Once again, all illustration, animation, voiceover, and music produced by yours truly. And this one features a fun music parody of Fatboy Slim's "Praise You", so pump up the volume!

We've come a long, long way together
Through the desert, and the plagues
We've got to celebrate Yom Haatzmaut
It's Israel Independence Day!

This eCard is hosted on the Taglit-birthright israel website.

Heeb: The Money Issue Release Party

Heeb editor Joshua Neuman with the Jewish Robot

I just got back from a swell party at Movida in Manhattan, sponsored by Heeb Magazine in celebration of the release of the Money Issue. Highlights in this tenth issue of the magazine include interviews with Jeremy Piven and Lisa Loeb. Highlights of the party include hanging out with cool characters like Allen Salkin, author of Festivus: The Holiday for the Rest of Us; Heeb Director of Business Adam Baruchowitz; Heeb Editor Joshua Neuman; Esther Kustanowitz (we meet at last!) of My Urban Kvetch; and, as usual, several women from JDate who never wrote back to me.

In honor of MONEY, pennies were scattered outside by the velvet rope, and vodka drinks were free until 10pm. I stuck gum on the bottom of my shoes so I could surreptitiously collect the pennies at the entrance, and use them to tip the bartenders!

Alyssa Abrahamson of the 14th Street Y and Vincent the anthropologist pose with Issue #10

Festivus-friendly Allen Salkin

DJ Handler and esé Adam Baruchowitz

Esther Kustanowitz and Heeb contributor David Kelsey

The Jewish Robot meets fellow Jewschool contributor EV

Heeb contributor Lilit Marcus and Esther K.

Neuman and Heeb designer Miriam Weiskind discuss details for issue #11

April 20, 2006

Public Jewry Number One

I didn't think much of it when, a few days ago, I started receiving more Jewishy e-mails than usual in my Myspace account. But when a friendly Myspace member contacted me with a rabbinical question, explaining that she figured I'd know the answer because I came up first in a Myspace Search for "Jewish", I checked for myself. Sure enough, she was telling the truth.

So as of April 20, 2006, I am currently the most Jewish thing on Myspace! That's cool, considering Myspace has over 72.5 million registered accounts. And with Jews representing 0.3% of the world population, the Myspace Jewish community is probably around 217,500. I have no idea how I ended up with this prestigious ranking. It could have something to do with the fact that my member name contains the word "Jewish". And I suppose I look Jewish. Nonetheless, I am honored that JewishRobot is the #1 Jewish Myspace profile.

Gosh, there are so many people I need to thank! First, thanks, Mom and Dad (Jews), for having me circumcised and making sure I attended Hebrew school! Couldn't have done it without you. And my sisters (Jews) and niece, Lola (a Jew), who have supported me through all this. I'd also like to thank my accountant, Allan Shapiro (a Jew), and my landlord, Sheldon Gold (a Jew). Thank you, G-d ... and thank you, Jesus (a Jew)! I may be #1 now, but you're still the original King of the Jews.

And, of course, thank you, Tom (not a Jew).

April 16, 2006

The Anti-Climactic Cartoon Contest

On February 14, 2006, in a series of one-upmanship, Boomka.org announced their anti-Semitic cartoons contest, in response to the Iranian newspaper Hamshahri's announcement that, in response to the Danish Mohammed cartoon controversy, they would hold their own Holocaust cartoon contest.

In the name of Freedom of Speech, I fully support all these groups and their desire to print controversial material, whatever their incentive may be. But for some reason the Boomka anti-semitic cartoon contest spun their mission into a nobler cause, explaining that humorous self-deprecation is a healthy psychological exercise for confident and strong people.

They also touted that we Jews would beat the Iranians at their own game. Said contest holder Amitai Sandy:
We’ll show the world we can do the best, sharpest, most offensive Jew hating cartoons ever published! No Iranian will beat us on our home turf!

Well, if these anti-semitic cartoons are the best we can come up with, I'm afraid to say we've been soundly beaten on our own turf. Even Art Spiegelman and Amos Biderman, esteemed judges and Jewish cartoonists, refused to pick a winner, stating that, in short, the cartoons were all crap.

Admittedly, even I submitted my own anti-semitic cartoon to the contest, along with a letter stating my support of free speech and expression. Not sure why it was rejected, considering the un-cartoonish quality of most of the accepted submissions. Maybe mine was too offensive?

One young girl wrote to the curators of the anti-semitic cartoon contest and asked how a tragedy like the Holocaust is funny. Amitai Sandy responded by explaining that we have to learn to laugh at ourselves, and by telling the self-deprecative jokes first, "we will dismantle their bomb". I posted a comment on the blog entry, asking why Sandy addresses the girl who wrote such a cordial letter as "Jew Girl". I also noted that, even though Sandy does a fine job of explaining why we should learn to laugh at ourselves and tragedy, he never actually answers the girl's question, "When is a tragedy humorous?". My comment, posted to a site founded upon the principles of freedom of speech, was, ironically, deleted.

So, to answer the young girl's question, when is a tragedy humorous? Never. We just laugh to hide our fear and shame.

Playing with the First Born

Why do we recline on this night?

This Pesach I got to join my sister Sandy and her husband Todd with their daughter--my new baby niece, Lola--for seder with Todd's family in Philly! As the youngest child it was Lola's responsibility to recite the four questions, but she ended up drinking way too much wine (from Elijah's cup, no less!), and pretty much passed out for the entire seder. Man she was p0wnt!

I spent most of my visit just hanging with Lola. We have a lot of interests in common, namely taking naps and waking up. And we both still get carded for alcohol. Also we both rarely shave yet have baby smooth skin.

Okay, so I'll admit, I think I want one.

Sandy, Todd, and Lola ... She Matzah Been a Beautiful Baby!

April 11, 2006

Downtown Seder

Jewish Rappers Unite: Shabot meets Y-Love

Last night I attended the 6th Annual Downtown Seder, presented by XM Satellite Radio and hosted at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan. I was invited as a guest of Downtown producer (and Knitting Factory founder) Michael Dorf as a thank you for contributing a Shabot 6000 comic to the Passover Haggadah. Just like last year, the seder was a blast, only better! With talented acts including the music of Neshama Carlebach, DJ Spooky, Y-Love, and readings by Lou Reed and Dr. Ruth, you couldn't ask for a more ecclectic and entertaining Passover party!

I especially enjoyed a performance by Yitz Jordan, a.k.a. Y-Love, and as it turns out, we are mutual fans of each other. My first encounter with Y was on Myspace Music, where he confessed that he could do a much better job of rapping than whoever rapped in my Seda' Club (that was me)! I asked him why he had to be a seder hater ... But now that we've settled the whole Eastside-Westside rapper rivalry, we plan to work on a joint project together.

Also turns out that the bad boys of musical comedy duo What I Like About Jew and I also share a mutual respect for each other's work, and Rob Tannenbaum and Sean Altman treated me to an autographed CD of their new album, Unorthodox. Thanks, dudes!

A special thanks to Michael Dorf, who, as one speaker put it, is the only guy who could throw a party where Jews of all streams, from Reform to Orthodox to Secular to Unorthodox Orthodox, come together as one.

Michael Dorf, producer of Downtown Seder

ChosenCouture.com's Sara Schwimmer and baby faced beau David Marcus

Joshua Nelson & Kosher Gospel Singers

Coolest table at the seder! See if you can find Yoshie Fruchter and DJ Handler.

Rob Tannenbaum & Sean Altman of What I Like About Jew

April 05, 2006

When Do We Drink?

Lilit, Kelsey, and me, having drunk just to answer the question, "When Do We Drink?"

Just got back from a screening and afterparty for the new movie, When Do We Eat, hosted by THINKFilm and the good folks at Heeb Magazine. The movie is about a typical dysfunctional Jewish family and their Passover seder which goes awry when the father unknowingly ingests a dose of Ecstacy. I actually enjoyed this flick, probably because I could relate to a lot of the family dysfunction. It was a cute story, light on the obvious Jew shtick (e.g. "Oy vey", "matzoh balls", etc), and had its laugh-out-loud moments.

Heeb contributor Lilit Marcus and her sugar daddy in line at the theater

AMC Loews Theater packed with all the JDate girls who never wrote back to me!

My childhood friend, Karen Slavick, who grew up with me in our hometown of Vineland, NJ

After the flick, Heeb invited all us moviegoers out for drinks in the East Village for an afterparty event dubbed "When Do We Drink?" To answer the question, we drank shortly after we arrived at the bar.

The Jewish Robot and Heeb contributor David Kelsey after sharing an intimate moment

April 04, 2006

Elijah the Prophet

I am pleased to present my new Passover animation, Elijah the Prophet, produced for Taglit-birthright israel in celebration of their 100,000th participant! The seder takes an unexpected turn when an unlikely prophet shows up to speak to the kids about the importance of Pesach and their birthright.

I truly enjoyed working on this project with Taglit-birthright israel, and hopefully this will be the first of a series of cartoons we do together. I handled all aspects of production for this cartoon, including concept, story, illustration, animation, voiceover, and original music score. (Yes, believe it or not, that's me doing the crazy background vocals in the end.)

The eCard is currently hosted on the official Taglit-birthright israel website.

Oh, and a Happy Passover, everybody, Chag Sameach!