Tina Fey

Fasting on Yom Kippur - "It's the holiest day of the year." - Sarah Pfefferman, Transparent

This past week was Yom Kippur. It's the Jewish day of atonement, and the end of the Days of Awe. That's that week in between Rosh Hashanah, our new year, and Yom Kippur, when the Book of Life is open. We're supposed to think about the people we've hurt over the past year so we can atone for it, and then our names will be written into the Book of Life for the next year to come, and it is closed and finalized at the end of Yom Kippur. And while most of this time is generally joyous, celebrating the sweetness of life and the excitement of a new year, we're supposed to fast on Yom Kippur itself, to reflect on who we are and what we've done.

I'm a pretty bad Jew. I've never fasted on Yom Kippur. At least not before this year.

Honestly, I'm not sure I could tell you exactly why I chose to fast this time. It's not like anything in particular happened to make me understand that fasting would actually have meaning for me this time around. I've been connecting more and more to my Judaism and my faith/spirituality, but that's been an ongoing process for a couple of years now, I didn't start fasting when I started that. It was just a few days before Yom Kippur, and I realized that I was going to do it.

(Thank god I managed to give away my shift at my day job. Sure, it's about denying yourself the pleasure of food to think about what you've done, but I don't think whatever higher power there is meant for us to do that while working in a restaurant.)

I went about my day almost as normal. I slept in way later than I normally would, but I still volunteered at the New York Film Festival that evening, and I didn't go to services or anything. That didn't stop me from reflecting pretty much all day, though. And there were two things I was particularly thinking about.

One is that I never realized just how much my schedule and my life revolves around food. Not just my day job, but when I started to plan my day and I had to deliberately leave out a lunch break. Or when I thought I might be early to the NYFF, so I figured "I'll head down there, and if I'm too early, I'll just stop by Starbucks" before I remembered "no, I won't." When I started to run low on energy and I figured I'd just get a snack. And then at the festival, realizing that I would have to decide at 6pm between seeing a movie and breaking the fast. (Good thing for me that 6pm movie was also showing the next day at 9pm, so I just saw it then! Before I found that out, I was really, legitimately struggling with the decision.)

But more importantly, I was thinking about the people I've hurt and disrespected. And I realized that I haven't hurt that many other people. In fact, I go way out of my way to make sure I don't hurt others, and everybody likes me. I'm sure there are people I've hurt that I don't realize, but I'm also sure that they all know me and they know I didn't mean to hurt them.

The person I have disrespected is myself. Yes, I know, that's pretty self-serving for a holiday about atonement towards others, but by going so far out of my way to make sure the people around me are happy, I've put my own self at less of a priority. As if I'm not as important as my peers. I'm happy to help my friends where I can, but I also have to start looking out for myself more. I have to start demanding the things that I want, because if I don't, I'm not going to get them. And that's probably going to make me come off as a bit of a "bitch." But I have to stop caring about that, too. Besides, like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have said, bitches get stuff done. And I have a lot of stuff to do.

I have lost out on too many things that I've wanted this year so the people around me could like me more and I would hurt them less.

I then broke the fast by going to Indie Food and Wine in Lincoln Center, getting a soup, two sandwiches, as well as popcorn and lemonade from the concessions stand at the Walter Reade theater... and then I went to Gourmet Garage, bought a pint of Ben and Jerry's, and split it with a couple of other NYFF volunteers. Because it's also possible to get what I want AND make the people around me happy.

Is all of this the point of Yom Kippur? I don't know. Probs not. But it's the spiritual experience that I had, so it's valid, too.

Jon Stewart Leaving The Daily Show - "Oh my god! It's Hitler! He's back! Somebody save Jon Stewart! He's our most important Jew!" - Family Guy

In late spring 2009, I wrote a paper about how Tina Fey (particularly as Sarah Palin), Stephen Colbert, and Jon Stewart influenced our view of the Bush presidency, and the 2008 election. I didn't do that well on it. But, in all fairness, I was writing it for my AP US History class in late May/early June. Who assigns a major paper after you've already taken the AP exam?

In the fall of 2010, I wrote a very similar paper for Brandeis University. A ten page essay about how Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, and Jon Stewart affected the 2008 election. This time I got an A. To this day, it is something of which I am very proud.

Also in the fall of 2010, I paid somewhere around $80 to the Brandeis Democrats; a club with plenty of passion and drive and not a lot to immediately do at one of the most liberal universities in one of the most liberal cities in one of the most liberal states in one of the most liberal parts of the country. But I gave them this money and even briefly joined the club in order to get a seat on the bus they had going down to Washington DC to attend the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. It was one of my favorite days of my college years, I remember Jon Stewart's keynote speech to this day, and I probably always will.

I nearly cried when I heard that Jon Stewart is leaving The Daily Show.

Don't get me wrong, I am excited to see what else he can and will do! I absolutely loved Rosewater, and if he does more things like that, it will be a wonderful thing for indie film! And I know he still has a point of view, and an incredibly enviable position from which to express it, meaning that he absolutely will continue to do so. It's not like he's retiring or vanishing from public life, and I rest comfortably in the knowledge that he will still be around, making incredible things.

But man. Jon Stewart at The Daily Show has had such a profound influence on my life. He's the one that taught me the influence that comedy can have. It's through watching this show that I firmly believe that the best way of speaking truth to power is by making power laugh. There is no better way to undermine something terrible than by making it absurd, and I know that because of him. (And, in all fairness, also Mel Brooks. But that doesn't quite fit in with the point of this post right now!) And Jon Stewart is the man who taught me how to not just accept the facts that are given to me, research everything for myself, and argue back. I am almost certainly a different person than I would otherwise have been because I watch his show.

I was going to write another paragraph about how much I admire him, how, while I desperately don't want to see him leave, I am awed at what he's done for and on television, and how I can't wait to see what he will do next, whether it be in television, in film, or even in straight up politics. (Honestly, he is such a smart, passionate man who genuinely knows about The Issues that I would legitimately be happy to vote him into any political office he might choose.) But you know, I think I've already gotten that point across. So instead, I'm just going to embed video of his speech at the Rally to Restore Sanity. Because it may not have been from The Daily Show itself, but it shows the kind of work he does, the kind of viewpoint he is a true champion of, and the manI will so miss on my TV screen four nights a week after he leaves in September/December/July/the-details-are-still-being-worked-out.

And then I'm embedding a video of the end of a bit of his that I absolutely love, and will one day send to an ex. This bit, for the record, is absolutely not safe to play at work.

Enjoy.


"The truth is anyone can read the news to you. I promise to feel the news at you." - The Colbert Report, Pilot

The Colbert Report ended tonight, you guys. And I'm genuinely upset about it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm excited for Stephen Colbert! He's going to go on to the Late Show! And I'm absolutely certain he's going to be amazing.

I'm genuinely not sure I've ever cried because a show was ending before, though. I know I've cried because of the things that have happened in TV finales. But you better believe that I had literal tears streaming down my face for pretty much half of the show tonight, just because it is no longer going to be on the air.

For that to not sound totally insane, I need you to understand just how much I respect and admire this man. I watched his show religiously almost since it started airing. ("Religiously" in that yeah, I've missed episodes, and there have even been chunks of time when I would prioritize other things above it and maybe even not see it for months at a time, but I still always came back to it, and I felt guilty whenever I'd miss a week.) I've written multiple academic papers about how he, along with Jon Stewart/The Daily Show and Tina Fey/Sarah Feylin, influenced the 2008 presidential election. I went to the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. Hell, I've even gone to comic cons dressed up as him!

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He has been an inspiration on my TV or computer screen every Monday through Thursday evening. Or, more realistically, he has been an inspiration on my TV or computer screen every Tuesday through Friday afternoon when I actually got around to watching The Colbert Report on my TiVo or online.

I feel like I'm talking about Stephen Colbert as if he's died, which is certainly not what I mean to do! I know that he will continue to be an inspiration every weeknight starting... well, he starts the Late Show in the summer, I think, so he will continue to be an inspiration after a bit of a break. I just want to properly memorialize what an incredible thing he did with nine years at The Colbert Report. It's the most important and influential piece of satire I've have ever and probably will ever experience. (And before anyone with an English degree asks, yeah, I've read "A Modest Proposal.") He's an extraordinary, intelligent, sharp, and funny man. And, if interviews and the things that people have said about him are to be believed, he's a kind, warm, and friendly human being, as well. He could've had anyone he wanted for his last ever guest last night, and instead of having on some crazy celebrity, or someone who could help him be self-congratulatory, he had on a short story writer to talk about experiences in Iraq, particularly through the war. If that's not the action of the best kind of person, I don't know what is.

Basically, with the end of The Colbert Report, I think this is just an especially good time to remember all that he has done, and how proud I am and always will be to be a member of the Colbert Nation.

Finally... can I just say how excited I am for The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore that will be taking his time slot? Like, not just because diversity in late night (although that is certainly very, very exciting!) but also just because Larry Wilmore is incredibly funny, and I can't wait to see what he does with his own spin on current events! January 19th! It's gonna be great. I can feel it.

"Do the stars gaze back? Now that's a question." - Stardust (2007)

I was listening to a compilation of movie soundtrack romantic themes because I am a ball of mush the other day, Tristan and Yvaine's theme from Stardust came on, and I was seized by the most incredible urge to rewatch the film.

(For the record, this is that theme. It's gorgeous and definitely makes me want to be in love just to play this in the background whenever I'm with the person for whom I have theoretically fallen.)

As I was watching it, I also thought about a question I was asked while at NYU the other day: "What kind of career do you want to have?" At the time, I answered that I want to be a Tina Fey-Amy Poehler hybrid who has the lead role on a show that is like Scrubs in that it's hilarious until it rips your heart out but unlike Scrubs in that it isn't exactly Scrubs and that's the only way that it's different. A pretty specific answer, I know, but hey, I'm a woman who knows what she wants!

The thing is, this film reminded me about how I don't just love comedy, but I also love romance. You know, if that wasn't already obvious by the fact that I listen to romantic film scores in my free time. But I also love adventure. Even in my real life, my friends are used to me saying on an ordinary evening "let's go out and adventure and find people!" (Those adventures may be much smaller than the kind of adventure Tristan and Yvaine experience in tardust, but I still like to think that they're legitimate!)

And while I'm absolutely certain that the filming of such a movie is very different from watching it - it'd be difficult for a person to literally shine like a star - I still think it'd be such an amazing, thrilling kind of role to play! And I guess what I'm saying is that if I had a career like Claire Danes' instead of what my answer above was, I'd be totally satisfied with that.

...Of course, I'd also love to play any other role out there. That's kind of what comes from loving acting so much. I'll have to refrain from making a similar post about roles in biopics when I finally see The Theory of Everything this week, for instance. Or another similar post about literally any other movie I see.

But you guys. I really do love Stardust. I love it a lot. Like, still just listening to the whole score on loop now kind of love it. And if you haven't seen it yet, you should get on that! It's good for anyone and everyone. Unless, of course, you don't like joy. Then you probably shouldn't watch it.

"There are only two things I love in this world: Everybody and television!" - 30 Rock, "Believe in the Stars" (S3E2)

I was once having a conversation with an incredible woman who was directing a show that I was in at the time. We were both theater students at Brandeis then, and we were discussing, between film, television, and theater, which simulates real life the most.

She made the argument that theater does. Live performance is just that - it's live. It's really happening right then as you're living, and even assuming you're watching a traditional play where the lines are all rehearsed and memorized, and you're working with a theater set that has to be slightly fudged to work in a theater space (you cannot build a full house for a play that takes place in a home, after all,) anything still can happen. Things change, lines get messed up, and the production still has to deal with all of that and move on. Every performance is different, making the show a living, breathing thing on its own. And because of all of that, theater most closely simulates real life.

I disagree, however. Not about the performance itself - live theater is certainly the most live, as it's, well, live. But I think the most true-to-life medium, by far, is television.

Guys, I love television so much.

Not to say that I don't love film, theater, or webseries! (Webserieses? Websierae? Websieri?) They all absolutely have their advantages, and there are amazing works in all of them, and I love them! Don't misunderstand me, I'm not trying to say that I think one is better than the others.

But I really do love television. The very thing that draws me to it is one of its major defining features - how episodic it is. I love how it comes on every week, and something new happens. The story doesn't just open and shut. It can't be neatly summed up in two or three hours. Television stories wind, and take tangents, and weird things happen, and people come in and out, and they take weeks and weeks to happen. Usually there are multiple storylines where every person is doing something different and working towards a different goal. Characters change at the same pace that we do. Characters grow old, and pass milestones in their life. And often, you keep going past the happy ending to see what comes next. (See: Monica and Chandler's relationship in Friends. Do not see: Ted and Tracy in the broadcast ending of How I Met Your Mother. That went way too far past the happy ending, and I'm still not over it. But that's a blog post for another day.)

Even television that isn't based around a specific story is great. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, under the guise of a comedic parody of a news show does legitimately fantastic reporting on some issue or another that I barely even knew about before he talked about it. As much as it's kind of depressing that Jon Stewart is considered the most trusted newscaster in America when he's not a newscaster, he manages to make a demographic of people care about politics when they otherwise might not have. In fact, I've written academic papers about the effect that Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Tina Fey (as "Sarah Fey-lin") had on the 2008 presidential election. At some point or another we've all dreamed about hosting Saturday Night Live. And, especially at its peak, the go-to conversation topic for most of us was what happened in the past week on American Idol. Television brings us together, and creates countless phenomenons that, in many ways, have shaped our modern culture as a whole.

...I, clearly, have a hard time shutting up when it comes to television. So I'm just going to stop now before this ordinary blog post turns into a full-on academic paper.

But guys, I love television so much.