In this issue

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 Jan. 29, 2007 / 10 Shevat, 5767

Talent not a prerequisite of fame

By Mitch Albom

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | If you can't sing, you can't sing. It's sort of like height — you got it or you don't. So you'd think the off-key rejects on "American Idol" would understand why, since they can't sing, they aren't likely to win a singing contest.

But no.

That would assume "Idol" is about singing. It isn't. It's about fame. Getting attention. Having your 15 minutes. Everyone wants it. And most don't care how they get it.

So we now have the curious case of Kenneth Briggs and Jonathan Jayne, two rejects from "American Idol" — and I don't mean rejects in the final handful, I mean rejects from the first "Gong Show" auditions — who in recent days got more U.S. media attention than any humanitarian, nurse, doctor, altruist or foreign leader.

Why? That's the question, isn't it?

But before the "why," here's the "what": Briggs and Jayne were chronicled by "American Idol" as fast friends at the auditions, the way nerds who have no one to eat with in high school become friends.

Briggs is an odd-looking guy with bulging eyes — some have speculated that he suffers from a medical condition — and Jayne is a heavyset redhead who, according to some reports, suffers from a mild form of autism.

That someone would exploit them is bad enough. But if these two did on a schoolyard what they did during auditions — singing terribly, dancing awkwardly — the other kids would giggle and point. And we would call it "sad."

On "Idol," it's called "opportunity."

Briggs and Jayne were trashed by the judges, particularly Simon Cowell, who, as part owner of the program, knows exactly what makes it successful and him rich.

Cowell made fun of Jayne's weight. And of Briggs he said, "You look like one of those creatures that live in the jungle with those massive eyes. What are they called? Bush baby."

Whoa! Jackpot! These two no-talents parlayed that rejection straight into the spotlight, from the "Today Show" — where they were interviewed — to "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" — where they were offered to be correspondents at a celebrity golf tournament.

Now, why was this happening to them? Did anyone think they were talented? Of course not. Did most privately agree that one was fat and the other weird-looking? Of course.

But this brings us to why people watch "American Idol" in the first place — especially the early shows. It's because most people like to (a) watch others make fools of themselves ("better him than me"), and (b) watch others succeed ("if him, maybe me").

It's called living vicariously.

Or, to be harsher, having such an empty life that it needs to be filled by mocking the failures — and envying the successes — of others.

You can call that armchair psychiatry. You can say "I watch because I love music." Here's a tip. If you love music, listen to Ella Fitzgerald.

The truth is, we love to see people humiliated. Much of YouTube — the hottest thing on the Internet — is simply videos showing people acting like idiots. "Jackass" was so popular they had to make two movies. "American Idol" knows what it's doing when it passes over truly talented contestants and gives airtime to obvious rejects. Heck. Everybody knows it.

But when guys like Briggs and Jayne get overly "dissed," newspapers write stories pondering whether "Idol" judges had gone too far? Even the New York Times pondered "New Low on 'Idol'?" We act as if this is an important social question. And because 37 million people watched the first "Idol" episode, other TV shows desperately try to splash in some of those numbers — no matter how minor the reason.

All which leads us to Jayne and Briggs sitting on talk shows. I can't feel sorry for them. They knew what they were getting into. And as for the "bush baby" insult, Briggs, on the Kimmel program, held up an image of Simon's head on a bush baby body, so how is he much better?

But I do feel badly for a culture that puts these guys in the limelight and lets them think they really have talent, that people are interviewing them because they truly are gifted, when in fact, it's just voyeurism of a more subtle kind.

When asked on the "Today Show" what they wanted to do next, Jayne and Briggs said they wanted to be movie stars.

It could happen.

There's always "Jackass III."

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