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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 1, 2014 / 5 Menachem-Av, 5774

Weird Al a note of sanity amid crises

By Meghan Daum



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) Amid a week of unrelentingly grim news, a buoyant countercurrent has emerged. Over the course of eight days, July 14 to 21, the song parodist "Weird Al" Yankovic released eight videos promoting his new album, "Mandatory Fun."

In classic Yankovic style, the songs take pop hits and give them new lyrics, some in the name of social critique and some addressing considerably more banal topics. Pharrell Williams' "Happy" is reimagined as "Tacky," a rant against behaviors on the order of twerking while waiting in line at the DMV. Lorde's "Royals" becomes "Foil," an ode to Yankovic's favorite food-storage method. Last summer's megahit, the ultra-catchy, mildly pervy "Blurred Lines," is now "Word Crimes," a jeremiad against poor grammar. "Educate ya" rhymes with "nomenclature" and so on.

Normally, a new Weird Al album wouldn't be a huge deal. The guy has been around for 35 years, making his reputation in the 1980s with songs like "Eat It," a spoof on Michael Jackson's "Beat It." He's long been a household name, at least in houses occupied by current or former 12-year-old males, and there's not much reason to think that excitement about his 14th album would extend much beyond his fan base.

But Yankovic is having a major moment. Several of the videos have gone viral, including "Word Crimes," which endeared itself to the kinds of critics and culture snobs you'd expect to dismiss him. Slate called him a genius. The Times' Randall Roberts pronounced "Mandatory Fun" a "stone cold masterpiece."

And this week Billboard announced that "Mandatory Fun" had debuted on the album chart at No. 1, selling more than 100,000 units in one week.

That would have been extraordinary enough 30 years ago, when Yankovic was in constant rotation on MTV, and the lyrics to "Eat It" etched deeper into many people's brains than the song that inspired it. Today, it's mind-boggling.

By all rights, Yankovic's career should have been hurt, if not completely quashed, by the Internet. Not least because his metier, changing the lyrics to popular songs and illustrating the songs with humorous videos, is now standard Internet fare. Anyone with a camera and editing software can do it. And, unlike Yankovic, who's always made a point of getting permission from the musicians he spoofs, the do-it-yourselfers regard the original material as tantamount to free office supplies. While he's busy clearing rights and putting out a professional product (not to mention contending with the now-cumbersome distribution models of traditional record labels), mashups made by amateurs are going viral.

Yankovic, now 54 (though from some angles he might still pass for a high school freshman), is a veteran goofball, a slightly spasmodic nerd/clown of a bygone era. And maybe it's because of this veteran status, rather than despite it, that he's having such resurgence. In interviews, Yankovic has talked about being very strategic about how he makes and releases the videos. When his record label refused to pay for them, he partnered with digital-content studios whose services came free in exchange for the promotion they'd receive in return. That's not an approach a lot of 54-year-olds would take. In fact, there are probably some 44-year-old fans of "Eat It," back in the day, who are having a hard time grasping exactly how it all worked.

In this era of nerd-as-Internet-mogul, a certain level of dorkiness is fashionable. That means there are a lot of impostors out there; people who look like nerds but who aren't necessarily all that smart. But Yankovic, an old-school nerd, is the real thing. He's legitimately smart and completely uncool. He was valedictorian of his high school class at age 16. He grew up reading Mad magazine and playing the accordion. And although he's now old enough to be the father of a millennial (as it is, he's the father of an 11-year-old), he's beating them at their own game by "winning the Internet" this week.

On the other hand, it could be that we're just suffering from crisis fatigue. In "First World Problems," Yankovic raps about the indignities of non-gluten-free pastries in airport lounges and baristas who forget to make designs in your cappuccino froth. With bombs, bloodshed and border chaos crowding the headlines, maybe Yankovic is just the cease-fire we need right now. In the meantime, everyone who thought he was obsolete can just eat it.


Previously:

American Apparel: Bad behavior, bad fashion

It's a hair-trigger world: Colleges institute warnings for potentially upsetting subject matter

Humbletalk --- it's just another way to say 'smug'

Zeitgeist-o-meter, 2013

The Oxford English Dictionary's literal problem

Inglorious Twitter hoax should impart lesson

A chilling lack of grown-ups

The danger of banning laptops or iPads during takeoff and landing

Real beauty, Dove, really?

I 'like' me, I really 'like' me

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment by clicking here.

Meghan Daum is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times.


© 2013,the Los Angeles Times

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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