Pop Culture Blind Spot: Hello Dolly

Welcome back to Pop Culture Blind Spot, where we examine beloved films and tv shows that we definitely should have seen by now. Up today: Hello Dolly, a movie musical totally missed by this person who loves movie musicals.

What I think I know about Hello Dolly: It’s from the 1950s but set in that time all mid-century musicals were – approximately 1908, or whenever Main Street Disney is supposed to be. It’s about Barbra Streisand… doing vaudeville, maybe. The only thing I know is the song Hello Dolly, and by that I mean the part of the song where they say Hello Dolly, well hello Dolly.

Let’s see how wrong I am!

Right out the gate, this was made in 1969, making me nearly twenty years off in release date. I guess I should have been tipped off by the fact that Babs would have been a child in the ’50s.

But it IS from the era I was thinking of-ish: New York City, 1890! I’m already into it by the Ken Burns-y fade-in they do from a still photo of a 1908 street scene to live motion.

The continued opening shots showing people’s feet as they skip, hopscotch and trip-trap about are fantastic. This leads me to look up who directed this… Gene Kelly?!? WOAH. I had no idea he directed, too. Talk about a quintuple threat.

Premise: Dolly Levi (Barba Streisand) is a matchmaker with great hats.

Ambrose (Tommy Tune), doing a nerd voice, wants to marry scroogey rich Horace Vandergelder’s niece Ermengarde. I assume Ermengarde was meant as a nerd name even in the 60s. Ermengarde has a great fuchsia hairbow and a nice complexion.

 

Horace: You are a seven-foot-tall nincompoop!

Ambrose: That’s an insult!

Horace: All the facts about you are insults!

Horace, re: his clerk Cornelius’s announcement that he’s 28 and 3/4 years old: “That’s a foolish age to be at. I thought you were 40.”

Horace (Walter Matthau!) ‘s plan is to get married.  He illustrates that through a cringey song about how it “takes a woman” to do thinks like dump ashes. He describes women as both “fragile” and “frail” but also capable of doing the garbage work he doesn’t want to do like “clean out the drain in the sink”,”washing and bluing and shoeing the mare” and “cleaning the stable.”

Okay, here’s what Horace is. He is to husbands as Marilla Cuthbert is to mothers: he’s more or less trying to buy another human for chores. It sounds like what Horace needs is a maid or a handyman. I assume that in 1969, as in 2017, this song read as a joke about how horrible Horace, the two male clerks and the chorus of singing men behind him are. Men in general I guess.

The scene with Barbra Streisand reading Horace’s palm turned me into a Barbra Streisand fan.

Apparently the frail sturdy chorewoman Horace has in mind is Irene in New York. Dolly sing-explains that SHE wants to be Horace’s wife-maid-stableboy.

Barnaby and Cornelius, the nerdy clerks, are going to New York and aren’t coming back until “they’ve each kissed a girl.” Barnaby is 19 and a half to Cornelius’s 28 and 3/4 so “for me it’s not so urgent.” I should probably mention that they’re in Yonkers, which I guess looked like the Old West in 1890, so it’s not much of a commute. Dolly sends them off to meet that hussy Irene and her shopgirl. I see what you’re doing, Doll.

About to close down the saloon early. Or feed shop. Grainery? General store.

Put On Your Sunday Clothes is the best number so far. “Put on your Sunday clothes when you feel down and out,” sing a bunch of Newsies from a time when ‘Sunday clothes’ meant anything. Ladies dance with parasols, a film industry requirement for all technicolor musicals made before 1970. A family in all white emerges from a Queen Anne-style house and for a second it’s like we’re in a Ragtime crossover. The ladies do a tiptoe move with their bustles that’s the late Victorian precursor to twerking. People talk-sing and you can show that to any old folks incredulous about modern rap musicals. Everyone departs on a train, another one of those midcentury musical requirements.

Parasols. Newsies. Bustles. Trains. Yep, all accounted for.

We meet Irene and her galpal Minnie mid-scene with some quality chuffa:

Minnie: A banana a day keeps the doctor away.

Irene: You mean an apple a day.

Minnie:Who ever heard of a doctor slipping on an apple peel?

Established: shopgirl Minnie is an idiot and Irene’s used to it.

 

Irene Molloy (Marianne McAndrew) would be played by Kristen Wiig if this was made now.

Irene is so much cooler and smoother and better-looking than Cornelius and Barnaby, who is so dense he introduces himself as a hat, plus her shop is unnecessarily large and decorated in sophisticated grays. Minnie Fay is right about on the guys’ level though.

Expensive.

“Forgive me for saying this, but you should see Yonkers.” NEVER.

Everybody is doing that annoying trick where they mention the other person’s significant other to see if they have one. I always secretly like when guys do that, though, because it saves me the trouble about lying about a boyfriend to get them to stop talking.

Horace shows up at the shop to mack on Irene. Dolly shows up in her flashiest purple dress in Old New York and tries to act unassuming. Sorry. Make that the flashiest purple dress in the world. It’s what Prince would have worn if he was a woman in 1890.

Horace is shocked that Cornelius comes into New York City. Again, from Yonkers. In 1890, when there were trains. Dolly talks Cornelius up,  and it’s funny (” Who took the horses out of Jenny Lind’s carriage and pulled her through the streets?”).

Does this take place in one day? Also is there a term for musicals that take place in one day, because it seems like there should be?

Horace is going to march in a parade with “the kind of people I can trust – 700 men.” I remain confused as to why he doesn’t just hire a chore boy.

Barnaby is the Niall Horan of this musical: affable, charming, boyish and underrated.

While searching for images of Danny Lockin I found this FASCINATING info about what happened to him after Hello Dolly – pic links to article. Woah.

Anyway, right?

Not to make too much of Irene’s giant hat shop but it’s so big you can swing a lady in a hoop skirt without hitting anything. Which they do. If I had that kind of hat shop money I’d never get married.

Dolly has so much purple, including a little purse and a feather boa and a giant hat, that she’s like a purple muppet. She has some LONG acrylics as well, just like the Victorians did. They are her “getting back in the dating game” nails. She’s widowed.

I thought Horace was talking about a metaphorical parade, but there’s actually a giant parade. Once again, it looks like Main Street Disney. Women are there too, including some suffragettes (another requirement of technicolor musicals) but Horace goes anyway. Babs sings about parades, which is one of her specialties.

Along with Niall Horan, Barnaby also has some Mark Hamill vibes.

Niall, Cornelius, Irene and Dumb Minnie sing about how elegant they are, a thing I think you’ll notice elegant people never do. Like how smart people don’t talk about being smart. They make a fun friend group and I would 100% watch a spinoff movie of Minnie, Mark Hamill and Cornelius bumbling about and Irene having to be the only adult in the situation.

Image links to cute Hello Dolly post.

Here’s what I appreciate about the costuming here: everyone is head-to-toe color coordinated like a 1980s bridesmaid. Dress, cape, hat, shoes all dyed to the exact same color. Babs changes into what I guess is the most uncomfy loungewear invented, a lacy tan corset top with a lacy tan jacket over it with some giant sleeves. It’s kinda Stevie Nicks-esque and I’m obsessed. Her hair is a smooth orange dome with a ponytail at the end. This is her casual hairstyle.

Best I could do

Don’t worry, there are dancing waiters in red tailcoats.

I wonder if Mock Turtle Soup struck people as funny in 1969 too, but I bet it did. Just the idea that turtle soup was so in demand but so rare that people had to fake it.

“If I tell you the truth, would you let me put my arm around your waist?” Weird bargain but OK.

“I’ve never touched a woman before.” YOU DON’T SAY, CORNELIUS.

Don’t Barnaby and Cornelius sound like what a hipster couple would name their sons?

Dolly is BACK wearing a very gold beaded dress and a feather headpiece, which is what prompts everyone to sing Hello Dolly.

LOUIS ARMSTRONG IS IN THIS. I know everyone else probably knows that but I didn’t. He’s absurdly charismatic.

I kind of feel like the first hour, hour fifteen were jam-packed and then we’ve been marking time in this restaurant ever since.

There is a whole turkey on Dolly and Horace’s two-top table. Is this how rich people eat?

Cornelius dances with a fan like an idiot. On one hand, Irene can do better. On the other, they’re both having fun and he doesn’t take himself too seriously like ol’ Horace.

Horace almost fires Cornelius and Barnaby for being in New York even though I’m fairly certain he doesn’t own them like he will the chore-wife he wants to buy.

Falling in love “only takes a moment” but the song about it lasts seven.

Back in Yonkers, Barnes and Cornes quit. Cornelius is becoming a new Horace, and Barnaby is becoming the new Cornelius. Dolly and Horace are getting married. ALL the people you thought would get married in the first ten minutes will get married, but my, wasn’t it a fun journey to get there?

I just wish these men would stop singing about how it takes a ‘fragile’ woman to do chores, is all.

Bottom line: I see what the fuss was about – not so much the songs themselves (not too many showstoppers) but the character of Dolly Levi and Barbra Streisand’s performance, plus the supporting cast and throwback sets and costumes. This was delightful and a break from real life, just like a musical should be.

 

 

 

We’ll Never Love Anything As Much As Rosie O’Donnell Loved….

Rosie O’Donnell may be one of the most famous talk show hosts of the 90s and early 2000s, but we like to think of her as one of the most famous FANS, too. So deep was Rosie’s fondness for her favorite things that when we were discussing this post, we came up with dozens of musicians, games and foods that Rosie adored – even though it has been nigh on 14 years since The Rosie O’Donnell Show left the airwaves. While we like to think we share some of Rosie’s gusto, the fact is that we will never love anything as much as Rosie O’Donnell loved:

Kids

M: Rosie thought kids were punny (other thing Rosie loved: puns), but most of all, she was the ultimate kid-friendly adult. She actually LISTENED to kids, acted like their opinions and stories were legitimate, and didn’t ask them condescending questions. There’s a chance I’m conflating Rosie with Golly, her character in Harriet The Spy, but probably not.

I also always loved that Rosie seemed like a parent who genuinely got a kick out of her own kids, and I refuse to believe that Parker is a grown man because I still can hear Rosie’s Parker imitation.

Broadway

M: You know when you’d get a cast recording and listen to it over and over again? And maybe you still do that (ahem – Hamilton)? Rosie was a TV-sanctioned adult who did the same thing. Rosie adored showtunes and musical theater actors, and all of the hottest shows of the 90s and early 2000s performed on Rosie. It didn’t seem weird at the time, but there are very few talk shows that you can count on to feature up-and-coming musicals. There’s a lot to say here, so we’ll be revisiting this topic later in the week.

Of course, no mention of Rosie and Broadway would be complete without a nod to her tenure as Rizzo in Grease.

T: Remember right after her show ended, she invested in a musical called Taboo loosely based off of Boy George? Don’t worry, it got mostly bad reviews and closed after 100 performances, so unless you’re a crazy person like we are, you wouldn’t have remembered just how deep her Broadway love runs.

Broadway Kids

M: Rosie loved Broadway, and Rosie loved kids, so it stands to reason that Broadway Kids were Rosie’s jam – to the extent that she created Rosie’s Broadway Kids (now called Rosie’s Theater Kids), an organization that gets kids involved in the performing arts. However, during our childhood the Broadway Kids were at troop of polished musical theater kids who sometimes performed on shows like Rosie. I remember watching them through a lens of admiration mixed with envy. I feel like Lacey Chabert was always involved, but that can’t be possible.

T: Lacey Chabert – that bitch be everywehre.

Entemann’s

M: Entenmann’s baked goods reminded Rosie O’Donnell of the Long Island mom-types during her childhood playing bridge or whatever it was that Long Island moms did in the 60s. And now, Entenmann’s baked goods remind me of Rosie O’Donnell. I don’t know her position on TastyCakes.

T: I do know her position on Ring Dings, because audience members got that and milk before the show.

Koosh balls

T: There are few talk show hosts who can get away with launching rubber balls into the audience and make it look cool. Just imagine Oprah doing this for a second. And that’s OPRAH. When Rosie flung these into the crowd, it suddenly became an interactive show and added a sense of innocent fun unlike any other talk show on TV. It became so synonymous with her show that Koosh sold a special Rosie O’Donnell Show version of their Koosh Fling Shot, as seen here and the one sitting at my home collecting dust.

M: I got one of these at the store after the NBC tour, c. 1998. I don’t keep things so I got rid of it sometime in high school, but I sort of wish I still had it.

Tom Cruise

T: If there’s anything you took away from watching Rosie in the 90s, it’s that she had an obsession with two people: Tom Cruise and Barbra Streisand. If you recall, Rosie had a soundboard that played audio clips next to her desk, and anytime she’d talk about her deep love for her celebrity crush, she’d play “Tommy, can you hear me?” a line from a song of the same name by The Who. She campaigned for him to be on her show, and when he finally made it, it was like watching Jim and Pam kiss for the first time. Rosie invited fans into her life by sharing personal anecdotes that made it seem we had been friends growing up in Commack, Long Island, and we were cheering her on as she lived out life long dream. I mean, while rewatching this clip, I legitimately said out loud (to no one), “THIS BRINGS ME SO MUCH JOY!” Especially if you forget about all of Tom Cruise’s persona.

M: When we were doing our Rosie Week research this summer, we were both floored by how quickly into the show’s run Tom appeared (plus a few others, like Donny Osmond). The buildup was so huge that at the time, it felt like years before “my Tommy” was a Rosie guest.

Barbra Streisand


T: As mentioned, Rosie’s other love was Barbra. She had loved the icon ever since she was a kid, not only because she enjoyed her music, but it was a common interest she shared with her late mother, who died of breast cancer when Rosie was just 10. She even used to amuse her mom by impersonating Barbra, so it was always like a maternal fan relationship with her.

In that first interview with Babs in ’97, I distinctly remember tearing up because Rosie was tearing up, but I feel like anyone would after watching Ro interview/meet her lifelong idol.

“For every boy and girl out there watching, dreams do come true, please welcome Barbra Streisand… You were a constant source of light in an often dark childhood. You inspired me and gave me the courage to dream a life better than the one I knew. I am profoundly grateful to you in so many ways.”

McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys

M: Rosie seemed so genuinely delighted by McDonald’s toys that it didn’t occur to me until I was writing this post at age 30 that it could have been a marketing tie-in. And honestly? I still think she really liked the toys. Rosie always had ALL of the Teeny Beanie Babies, even the “rare” ones.

T: Rosie probably had the Princess Diana one, LBR.

M: Thing from my childhood I DIDN’T KonMari: My Princess Diana Bear. That thing was gonna pay my college tuition.

Chub Club

T: When you’re living in America, at the end of the millennium – you are what you eat. Which is why Rosie started the Chub Club, a campaign to get herself and viewers in shape. The motto was “Eat Less and Move More” and basically served as a virtual support group to lose weight. Over 300,000 people joined, and was a staple on Rosie’s show. She’d invite Chub Club members to the show, discuss the right foods to eat and try out exercise tips. If I wasn’t a tween at the time, I definitely would try to do this for the swag alone (I think there was swag, at least).

M: I love how no-fuss this idea is. There are no weird things with tracking carbs or fats (it was the 90s) and you didn’t have to do Billy Blanks. Everyone on a diet in 1999 had to do Billy Blanks workouts before this. That’s just how it was.

Being Kissable

M: Doesn’t ring a bell? Here, let me help. Scope did a poll that named Rosie one of the least-kissable celebrities. Yeah. If you think the media is nasty now, the 90s were possibly worse. Anyway, Listerine disagreed and donated $1,000 for every celebrity guest who kissed Rosie. In the end, it was a lot of money.

Being Crafty

T: This video includes two of our favorite people in the world. And if you’re wondering what the timeline is here, LG appeared on Rosie’s very last episode in 2002 aka season two of Gilmore Girls. Yeah, I know it’s weird. BUT THIS IS A DELIGHT. “Shells are very big for Summer 2002”.

Anyways, Rosie was so cool during this time that she made even crafting hip (amongst the suburban mom demo and kids under the age of 14). She even had a segment called Rosie’s Craft Corner, and she’d usually have either her official show crafter named Christina, I think? Or a celeb guest, as seen above. No lie, I bought Mod Podge solely because Rosie decoupaged all the things, so natch, I did too.

Being Irish-American

M: Rosie freaking loved being Irish-American, and it was so refreshing to have a celebrity cultural spokesperson who wasn’t a Kennedy. (Yeah, lots of celebs are part-Irish, but there’s a difference between being raised doing Irish dance and going to the AOH verses just knowing some great-great-great grandparent was supposed to be from there). So did Rosie sometimes say things were “Irish” things when they were really just her family (I recall cold sores and having a short upper body)? Sure, but who cares? She helped maintain the Irish reputation for being hilarious and affable, and we all owe her a Guinness for that.

Donny Osmond

T: Donny Osmond, former teen heartthrob and longtime Mormon singing icon, made a cutting joke about Rosie’s larger figure, and she got on the outs with him. In an effort to apologize, he dressed as a large puppy and sang his signature song, Puppy Love. It was obviously rude of him to make the joke, but the result is great, and I can’t say that I didn’t have a crush on him twenty years too late during this era.

M: Thanks to Rosie, I saw Donny Osmond appear at the Hill Cumorah pageant, a big Mormon to-do. Readers? I am not Mormon.

Her BFFs Jackie and Jeanie

M: When we watched Rosie as tweens, we imagined (a) that we’d be friends with our childhood besties forever and (b) if we ever got famous, they were coming with us. That’s why we loved how Rosie would bring her buddies onto her show and chat about them in the same way one might name-drop a celebrity.

Lapels

M: OK. It was a 90s thing. But the fact remains that the woman loved a pantsuit with big lapels. Do you remember those giant brooches that moms and teachers would wear back then? You NEEDED those lapels.

Her Barbie

M: Can you blame her?

T: Is that a card deck labelled “Activity Zone!”??? Because I need it.

Having A Footrest

M: Rosie’s desk had a slide-out footrest for short guests. She LOVED offering it to people, and it came in handy because a lot of Rosie’s guests were children or, for whatever reason, small adults.

When people did her desk

T: I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure Rosie had a contest in which different people would design her desk and it lasted maybe a week or two. Here’s one featuring a real habitrail with real hamsters. Other themes included Star Wars, Hot Wheels and an entire desk made out of Legos. As a 12 year old, this desk was #goals.

Pop Culture Blind Spots: Yentl

Rosie O’Donnell caterwauling ‘Papa Can You Hear Me’ every time she talked about Barbra Streisand – that’s what I knew about Yentl before this Pop Culture Blind Spots live blog. Considering I grew up loving both musicals and movies set in yesteryear when everyone had long hair and longer dresses, I’m not sure why or how I missed it. Maybe it wasn’t on TV too much in the 90s?

From the shtetl to your computer, come experience the bad haircuts, zany pillow fights, and newsboy hats of Yentl:

  • The setting is Eastern Europe, 1904. First of all, really vague setting. Second, if this was supposed to be part of my Eastern European cultural training my mother failed spectacularly.
  • A peddler calls out “story books for women, sacred books for men” which was like the Barbie/Hot Wheels Happy Meal toys of the shtetl.

 

  • Anyway Yentl (which sounds like a person saying “gentle” with a marked accent, which is very fun) tries to buy the Hot Wheels books. The peddler is like “bitch, I think you know what your place is, and I’m sure it’s gossiping about how old you are at a fish-stall in the marketplace.” Yentl lies and says the books are for her dad. And the peddler buys it, which is TOTAL FORESHADOWING for how all the men in this movie are dummies who believe whatever you tell them.
  • I’ve never seen so many Eastern European noses outside of a family reunion and I feel so alive and whole, accepted and embraced.
  • My favorite Disney princess as a child was Belle, because she liked books. And this is an entire musical about a girl who just wants to read the books she wants and I never saw it?!

    Little town, it’s a quiet shtetl…

  • But to be fair, the books she want to read are like the rules to God and stuff. Yawwwwn.
  • Started watching this via sketchy Youtube copy, and 5 minutes in I decided that the chances were high enough that I was going to like it that I’d rent it on Amazon. Also it was almost unbearably fuzzy.
  • Yentl burns some gross fish while reading. JEWISH PRINCESS BELLE, everyone!
  • Her Papa is Jewish Crazy Old Maurice.

  • Babs wraps herself in a tallit and sings. This may be part of how I missed this one: the tunes aren’t exactly *catchy* in the singable/hummable sense.
  • Papa asks if Yentl wants a husband who will darn her socks and bear her children, which, (A) where do I sign up, and (B), foreshadowing? Maybe? Guys, I don’t really know what this movie is about except that Barbra will sing Papa Can You Hear Me and dress as a man at some point.
  • Barbs has such beautiful, fluffy hair or such a beautiful, fluffy wig. I can’t believe Papa died, though.
  • PLOT. TWIST. She cuts the beautiful fluffy hair into a kicky pageboy. Swear I didn’t know that was going to happen.
  • I wasn’t alive in 1983, but major studios were releasing movies starring a 40-year-old ‘unattractive’ woman who is dressed as a man most of the time, so maybe it was a little better than 2016 in some ways.
  • Again, the main thing I know about Yentl is Papa Can You Hear Me. I know it because Rosie O’Donnell always sang it on her show. It turns out the only words I knew were “Papa, can you hear me/ try to understand me.” Those also might have been the only words Rosie O’Donnell knew.

  • Actually, didn’t Rosie have a button that played “Barbra Can You Hear Me” whenever she talked about her? (I watched a lot of The Rosie O’Donnell Show as a child. Had the koosh slingshot, the Kids Are Punny book, the whole 9.)
  • Not sure what accent Babs is doing in that song, but it’s not “Eastern European.” She’s just pronouncing every word slightly weird.
  • Barbra’s new haircut does not look good. Not even a little good. It’s kind of flobee-esque.

    I mean, Christ.

  • Yentl sails across a small creek (?) wearing the hat from the Funky Hat interstitial from 2007 Disney Channel.
  • Because nobody in 1904 Eastern Europe had seen a woman in pants and a hat before, they don’t realize that Yentl is CLEARLY a woman in pants and a hat.
  • If they saw a man in black and white stripes, they’d probably think he was a zebra or a Hamburglar.
  • Or a guy in camouflage: “Ira, I swear a piece of Outside is MOVING.”

    GET IT TOGETHER, Eastern Europe, 1904.

  • Maybe if Yentl wants people to believe that she’s “Anshel” she shouldn’t giggle when she says that her name is Anshel.
  • Yentl meets Mandy Patinkin (Avigdor)’s bubbe and within seconds she’s like “oh. Anshel. LOL OK.” So maybe only the men in this movie are stupid.
  • Avigdor’s banter with Yentl is very… sexual? … for two young men who are platonically sharing a bed.
  • You know in The Portrait Of Dorian Gray, where he has that portrait that ages for him? I think that’s what Mandy Patinkin’s facial hair does. Underneath it he looks mostly the same, the only difference the beard went from chestnut to gray.

 

  • Yentl’s thoughts sing This Is One Of Those Moments. The level of non-catchiness reminds me of when a Catholic priest is talk-singing and he tries to cram too many syllables into one line.
  • Yentl watches a lot of people talk with their hands. This is the school she wanted to go to really bad.
  • AMY IRVING IS IN THIS?! She’s the star of one of my favorite under-rated rom-coms, Crossing Delancey.

  • It’s sort of like a 1900s Jewish Strangers With Candy, where Barbra is very obviously in her 30s-40s (and female) but we just suspend disbelief.
  • Now Yentl’s thoughts are singing about her crush on Amy Irving (Hadass).
  • Yentl flirts with Avigdor in a meadow so maybe the crush was on him. Who knows.
  • There’s a skinny dipping scene and we almost see Mandy Patinkin’s Manhood Pa-tuchus (yep, just zoomed right past dad jokes and landed on a zayde joke)
  • The choreography is the same, so: mashup between this song where Babs is getting handsy in her nightgown and Mama Who Bore Me. OK?

  • Hadass’s Shitty Family calls off the Hadass/Avigdor Relationship and they want to set her up with Yentl now. This is more Three’s Company-style hijinks than I was expecting.
  • Amy Irving’s ruffled blouse and ren-faire hairdo are SUPER 1904-shtetl flirty. She’s making dinner for Yentl and it’s a total come-on. Like that’s just how you DID IT back then. It seems so easy. Just put on your ruffliest blouse and lean your boobs into a guy’s face while serving tea and you’d get a husband. (*Is that how you still do it and is that why I’m single, because I’ll try.)
  • Take one listen to Barbra screaming “nothing’s impossible!” at, like, F5 and tell me how anybody was supposed to think this was anything but a lady.
  • Now Yentl’s getting measured for her wedding suit which is bad because she’s female. In case you missed it, this is why lying doesn’t work. Although how sheltered is Hadass, because maybe Yentl can just kiss her in bed and be like “WELP THERE WE DID IT THAT’S THE WHOLE THING,” because that’s what I thought until I was 7 or 8.
  • If Anshel ISN’T a woman then Anshel is, like, an 11 year old boy and I don’t know why nobody in the village has vetted this.
  • Oh I love these wedding hijinks. Anshel is trying to get Hadass to say she doesn’t want to hook up. It’s like when you don’t want to go to a movie, but you don’t want to say it, so you’re just like “no, I mean if YOU don’t want to see it we won’t see it. I don’t care but if YOU want to do something different, we totally can. Up to you.”
  • Yentl and Hadass have a pillow fight. JUST SOME GALS AT A SLUMBER PARTY Y’ALL. Just gals bein’ pals.
  • Avigdor asks Yentl if Hadass “made sounds” and um is this how boys talk when we aren’t there? If a boy reads this please tell me.
  • Yentl’s thoughts sing about how she loves Avigdor, and Avigdor loves Hadass, and she’s married to Hadass but just for the pillow fights. Yentl. Look at your life. It’s a map full of dead ends, like one of those suburban gated communities. Your haircut is bad. You can read the talmud now but that’s, like, your only thing you’ve got going.
  • LOL forever at Hadass trying to seduce Yentl, an obvious 40-year-old woman. Instead, Yentl tucks her in then sings at a window.
  • I like how Yentl taught Hadass the talmud on the sly while they were fake married. I also like how Yentl finally figured out it’s time to get out of dodge.
  • The lyrics “she’s loving, she’s tender, she’s woman, so am I” probably weren’t meant to be funny? It kind of sounds like it would play over a crunchy 1970s school video about ‘becoming a woman.’
  • I want to see the scene before Yentl makes Avigdor take her to the city. “Pick me up in your cosiest two-person buggy and take me to the nearest metropolis so I can tell you a secret. Haha, no reason, just guy stuff.”
  • Yentl goes to America, which is probably the best solution after you’ve accidentally married a woman and fallen in love with a guy who thinks you’re a man. That’s the moment when, even in 1904, it’s time to cut your losses and move to Brooklyn. Now she’s got to grow out that haircut, though.
  • Yentl sings about finding her corner of the sky, but via a different song that’s way less catchy than Corner Of The Sky.

Playlist of the Month: Christmas Songs by Jewish Artists

Hanukkah 2015 is already in the books. That means that from this point onward, people of all religions can focus on that other December holiday: Christmas. Sure, if we’re getting technical about it Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus – but it’s also turned into a cultural celebration where we put our differences aside and eat cutout cookies, decorate trees, and jam out to the likes of Barbra Streisand and Amy Winehouse. Who better to sing Happy Birthday to one of the most famous Jewish babies in the world?

Traci’s Picks

The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
Mel Torme and Judy Garland

This tune is one of the iconic Christmas songs we all know and love, but did you known it was written by two Jews? Mel Torme and Bob Wells wrote it in 1945 in the middle of summer in an effort to cool down. Truth. Bob was randomly writing down wintery things on a notepad like, “Yuletide carols” and “Jackfrost” and “folks dressed up like Eskimos” because he was so damn hot, but when Mel (who was 19 at the time) took a look at it he saw them as song lyrics. The rest is history. This version features Mel on Judy Garland’s self-titled TV show, and also includes a sly Over the Rainbow ref. This is the kind of song that just warms your heart.

Happy Xmas (War is Over)
Adam Levine & Sara Bareilles

Many people have covered John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s iconic Christmas protest song, but there’s something special about the pairing of Adam and Sara. Adam has the right range for it, while Sara can literally sing anything and I’d be on board.

This Christmas
Carole King

This Christmas is one of my favorite modern day holiday jamz. Maybe it’s because I grew up listening to Platinum Christmas and heard R&B singer Joe’s version on repeat, but I associate this with pop and R&B acts, not folky types like Carole King. But that’s what makes me love this version that much more. She gives it a lived in, Tapestry quality to it that makes you want to curl up by the fire and drink hot cocoa.

From a Distance (Christmas version)
Bette Midler

Listen up. Sometimes I enjoy turning up to the easy listening radio station. I can enjoy a good Kenny G tune or Celine Dion power ballad every once in a while. I can also appreciate Bette Midler and her classic tune From a Distance. BUT, in doing research for this post, I found out she made an alternative Christmas version that is maybe even better than the OG? Maybe. But the Queen of the Jews singing “Joy to the World” at the end is the best. The best.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
Amy Winehouse

No bit zone – I really think Amy would’ve made an amazing Christmas/holiday album. Her voice is already astounding, but her spin on classic songs would’ve been such a hit.

Molly’s Picks

Baby It’s Cold Outside
Idina Menzel and Michael Buble

Yes, this song is creepy, but this version subs out some of the skeevier lyrics, making it my favorite rendition.

It was only a matter of time before Idina Menzel released a Christmas album. This particular song is really just a winter song, but there are plenty of Christmas-specific tracks on the album.

White Christmas
Barbra Streisand

How about a two-fer: when he wrote White Christmas, Irving Berlin, nee Israel Baline, made the most important Jewish contribution to the Christmas holiday since the Virgin Mary. Then Barbra Streisand covered it, and while nobody, not even Babs, is Bing Crosby, this is still pretty darn wonderful.

Must Be Santa
Bob Dylan

If you ever doubt the extent to which Bob Dylan DGAF, just watch this video.

Christmas Must Be Tonight
The Band

Two things you may not have known: The Band performs a good Christmas song, and Robbie Robertson is Jewish.

Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)
The Ramones

This is my second-favorite song about sparring on Christmas (after the fantastic Fairytale of New York) – and it proves that you don’t have to grow up celebrating Christmas to know that it’s a holiday that sparks a lot of arguments.