Imagine if every moment in life was like the painfully awkward few minutes when a family member is giving the pre-Thanksgiving meal toast?

We all have a lot to be thankful for.

Obviously it goes without saying. We all know that. And the fact that people travel across state lines — even across the country — to be with their families on this holiday, shows that they fully understand the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

There’s not many people in the nation who don’t at least feel a little bit more appreciative of life today. If you were to check your Happy ThanksgivingFacebook News Feed right now, you’d probably see an abundance of paragraph-long Facebook statuses expressing such. You’ll try to get through the first sentence of the one closest to the top, but you’ll cringe, stop, and not read anymore.

And that’s why people love Thanksgiving. Everybody is wonderful. We’re all nice to each other. And people finally, finally, take a step back to pause and acknowledge the gifts they’ve been given in their life.

I think one of the reasons why we’re so thankful and grateful on Thanksgiving, is because we’re so ungrateful during the other 364 days of the year. During other days, we don’t make the extra effort to see our loved ones, and we don’t take a few minutes to reflect on our lives and all the good that exists in it.

It’s not an indictment on the American people. Rather, it’s a commentary on how rough life is. We have a lot to worry about on a day-to-basis: our jobs, living situation, relationships with friends and significant others, our health, etc. Some of us actually don’t have the time to sit in a chair and think for few minutes of how grateful we are.

I repeat myself — that’s why people love Thanksgiving. It gives us a full 24 hours to do just that. It’s a cleansing holiday, in a way. By spending the majority of our day with relatives, we convince ourselves that it excuses us from how rarely we see them otherwise.

As a bonus, we get to eat a lot, too. So while we may have a lot on our plate metaphorically on most days, on Thanksgiving, we have a lot on our plate, literally.

And that’s why people drive hundreds of miles, catch a train, or hop on a plane to see family today.

But isn’t it enough to simply be with each other, knowing how far you came? Shouldn’t that act, that gesture, suffice in expressing the importance of family? Shouldn’t our presence in the same room on the most sacred of “family holidays” signify our gratefulness?

Apparently it does not. And that’s why, each year, somebody — an uncle, one of your parents, a grandma — will delay everyone from eating for several minutes, and awkwardly explain why they are so grateful.

There may be no more painful minutes in life than this. You’re starving, tired from traveling, and have already done more talking than you needed to, and yet, somebody has to raise their glass and say the things that are so blatantly obvious.

It usually goes something like:

“Well, it’s another year … and um, you know, I’m just happy we’re all together. Family is really important, and, uh, I love you all … and [insert stupid joke here], and [borderline-inappropriate drunk comment], and … that’s what, you know … I’m grateful for. Cheers.”

And somehow, some way, those two or three sentences defy the laws of time, and last 20 minutes.

Have you ever been with your friends, and one of them tries to tell a joke that is so painfully unfunny that not a single person laughs? And then there’s that awkward few seconds of silence where no one knows what to say? That’s what that moment around the dinner table feels like. Multipled by 100.

And I know that giving a toast or a speech is meant to be a symbolic, tangible gesture of gratefulness, but think about it — when you’re out on a date on Valentine’s Day, do you stop in the middle of the dinner and tell him or her, “Hey, I just wanted to say, that, uhh, I’m really glad you’re here with me on Valentine’s Day. Because it means your my Valentine. And I like you. Cheers.”

The fact that you actively chose to be with one another on Valentine’s Day should be enough of an indication of those things. It doesn’t need to be said. And the same thing applies for the awkward, unnecessary, pre-Thanksgiving meal toast.

This year, say no to the toast.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The creation of the word “Thanksgivukkah” automatically makes this the worst holiday season of my lifetime

This year, as most Jews have likely been long aware of, Thanksgiving happens to coincide with Hanukkah.

The holiday of excessive turkey eating falls late this year, on Nov. 28. Hanukkah, meanwhile, starts earlier than usual, on Wednesday. Therefore, come Thursday, two major holidays will happen concurrently.

Since both holidays encompass similar themes, like thankfulness, rededication and family, it isn’t really that big of a deal, and it shouldn’t form a major inconvenience to any plans. If anything, it’s beneficial because it means Jewish families only have to visit each other one time this holiday season. You save gas money, you avoid the inevitable awkwardness that comes with seeing your cousins, uncles and aunts twice in a few weeks, and you’re essentially killing two birds with one stone with one gathering around the dinner table.

You watch football, spin a dreidel, drink some wine, and bam, you’re done.

So that’s that. No more fuss needs to be made about it. I can’t imagine there are many people out there who are irate that these two holidays are together this year.

Except me.

And no, I couldn’t care less about the religious significance, but rather, I’m angry because the fusion of these two holidays has led to a new nickname. It was only a matter of time before some idiot put two and two together, and as a result, we have now all been exposed to the word, “Thanksgivukkah.”

There’s no going back at this point. There’s some things that can’t be unheard. This is one of them.

I understand that this is not without precedent. Years ago, somebody had the brilliant idea to combine Christmas and Hanukkah to form “Christmakkuh,” and the word has since become popular in interfaith households. But at least that makes a little sense. The holidays are closely intertwined, they’re more commonly celebrated during the same time period, and both involve the exchanging of gifts. In fact, these holidays — though unique to their respective religion — are pretty much associated together when people discuss the December “holiday season.”

Thanksgiving and Hanukkah overlapping, on the other hand, is basically like a solar eclipse. Actually, it may even be rarer. According to Chabad, an Orthodox Judaism worldwide movement, the last time the two holidays coincided was in 1899, and the next time it will happen will be in 2070.

But let’s give a nickname to something that may only happen once in our lifetimes.

I really can’t think of a less pleasing sound than the word “Thanksgivukah.” Even typing it is a nightmare. It’s too forced, and it shows that people are just trying way too hard.

The holidays should bring about natural fervor. We should become excited to get extra days off from work, to see our distant relatives, to pig out on food, watch football and receive gifts. If that doesn’t stir excitement in you, then you probably have some type of endorphin deficiency.

A quirky nickname is not needed to encapsulate it. And yes, before  you ask — which you won’t — I am excited. I am greatly anticipating this Thursday. I will be happy. But that doesn’t mean all of the annoying things in this world will suddenly evaporate, and Thankgivukkah is among those.

Oh well. I might as well beat everyone to the punch and create a nickname to incorporate all holidays.

Happy Valenteasterpendenceovermemorialgivingchristmakwanzakkuh everyone!

While you watched the American Music Awards last night, international leaders desperately negotiated to avoid World War III

Yesterday evening was a star-studded night for ABC, which aired the 41st Annual American Music Awards, comprising superstar artists like Taylor Swift, One Direction, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and more.

The three-hour event full of live performances, awards, speeches, sparkly wardrobes and the mingling of iconic, millionaire celebrities Justin Timberlake AMAscoincided with a monumental, historic, landmark accord between world powers to halt Iran’s nuclear program, and, in essence, prevent the entire world from dismantling into a state of chaos and decimation.

When Katy Perry took the stage at approximately 8:15 p.m. to sing her single, “Unconditionally,” and millions of observers across the nation Tweeted their reaction to her vocal performance, somewhere — far away — President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif were sealing an international pact behind closed doors, potentially extending the lives of every person who lives in this world.

And at 3 a.m. eastern time, when all of the night’s performances — including ones by Ariana Grande, Macklemore and Kendrick Lamar — were being illegally uploaded to YouTube, the world leaders signed off on the accord, which, for the first time in ages, may lead to a significant improvement in U.S.-Iran relations.

OK, you get the point.

Awards shows like the American Music Awards represent a goldmine for all those (…like me) who have a fascination with popular Taylor Swift AMAs2013culture. Every major star, including all those named above — minus Obama, Kerry and the Iranian dude — are together in one room. I mean, numbers haven’t even gotten high enough yet to the point where you’d be able to compute their combined Twitter followers.

Also, where else would you get to see Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift not only cross paths, but join together to do the “surprised face” that Taylor has mastered so brilliantly?

On a side note, Taylor took home four AMAs last night, and, for the record, she did not act surprised for any of them.

But while all those shenanigans were going on, the aforementioned agreement to temporarily freeze Iran’s nuclear program was reached. Again, I’m not going to pretend like I know all about this, but when it comes to Iran, Americans naturally fear the worst. While they say they’ve been building up their nuclear program for “peaceful purposes,” we live in anxiety that one day, their president Hassan Rouhani will wake up on the wrong side of the bed and decide to nuke everything.

Under the agreement, Iran cannot enrich its uranium supply greater than 5 percent, which is required to make bombs. In exchange, the U.S. will give Iran billions of dollars in sanction relief. While some politicians wanted harsher limitations on Iran’s nuclear Foreign ministers in Geneva in second try to close Iran dealprogram, this is reportedly designed to be a foundation for a more lucrative accord in the near future.

But, let’s face it, nothing in those last two paragraphs is more interesting than a TLC reunion, featuring Lil’ Mama as the late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes.

People don’t want to think about nuclear war. Especially on a Sunday night. And why would they? It’s literally the worst case scenario that the world could ever come to. It’s much more enjoyable to watch ABC pan to an audience reaction shot of Taylor Swift to every single performance, or watch Lady Gaga collaborate with R. Kelly than to listen to a political analyst talk about Iran.

But let’s all take a moment and acknowledge that, with this accord, nuclear war will likely not happen for at least another three to five years. That’s something worth celebrating, right? Or at least a small fist pump?

But back to the AMAs. An interesting decision by the show’s producers was to have Miley Cyrus give the closing performance. You all already Miley Cyrus AMAsknow my view towards Miley. I’ve lightened up on her a bit. She’s got talent, but it’s hidden under all her unnecessary theatrics.

That being said, I thought this was an opportunity for her — once and for all — to silence her critics, and to deliver a poignant, solemn rendition of “Wrecking Ball” under a giant international microscope. No gimmicks. No funky outfits. Just singing.

Though she listened to approximately one-third of those things by giving a stationary, heartfelt performance, she still chose to wear a sexually provocative outfit, and for some reason, have a giant, digital cat directly behind her, completely distracting the viewer from anything else that was happening. She still sung it well, and I’m not saying she blew it, but I thought she really could have taken better advantage of the grandiose opportunity. Oh well.

Is it bad that this disappoints me more than the fact that we’re not heading for war?

So people are using Throwback Thursday to gloat about their past now?

Just when I thought people couldn’t possibly find anymore things to brag about on Facebook, in steps Throwback Thursday.

Now before I continue, I must be careful where I go with this. Because Throwback Thursday is no longer a trend, or a meme. It’s not a cute little thing that people decided to do for brief period. It’s a become subculture. A way of life.

People’s day-to-day lives have literally become so mundane that they not only anticipate Throwback Thursday, but have photos lined up for weeks in advance.

My favorite is when somebody tries to act above it, and posts their retro photo with a caption, “I don’t normally do #tbt, but…”, or when they post that this is their “first #tbt ever” for the fourth straight week.

But the bottom line is that people love it. When I scroll through Facebook and Instagram on Thursdays, I feel like I’ve transported to the mid-90s, since there is not one single present day photo there. It’s gotten to the point where old photos are so commonplace on Thursdays, that they don’t even need to be tagged anymore. In fact, people should start tagging their current photos that they post on Thursdays — since they are the minority —  with a #pdp. Present Day Photo.

But the problem, which I think people are now discovering, is that there’s only so many old photos.

Initially, it wasn’t very difficult. You could just scroll through your Facebook timeline back to your college days a few years ago, and pick any old photo. This lasted a while, in fact. We all have a plethora of old photos, unless you’re one of those people who fear for their public image and deleted them all years ago. And don’t you regret losing all that #tbt material now, suckers?!

However, even those photos run dry. You can’t keep posting the same drunk photos from college. So now, people are actually taking smartphone photos of old photographs, and posting them. That’s right — people are actually undergoing multiple steps to conform to #tbt.

And that just opens Pandora’s Box. You have elementary school photos, family vacation photos, baby photos — people are pulling out all the stops just to scrounge out a few extra likes.

But as is the case with all social media platforms, Throwback Thursday has evolved towards one fundamental goal: proving to your Facebook friends that your life is better than theirs.

Normally, this is done by bragging about your job, workout regimen, social life, or checking in from some fancy restaurant or vacation spot. A picture is sometimes included. Now, with Throwback Thursday, people are actually bragging about their past.

“Hey, look at this awesome place I went to on Spring Break during my senior year of college!”

“Yo, look at how skinny I once was!”

“Guys, look at this talent I actually used to have when I was 12!”

And don’t even get me started with baby or early childhood photos. That’s just desperation.

So now we are not only trying to one-up each other regarding the current statuses of our lives, but also about the things we used to do. Is anyone really surprised though? I swear, there’s nothing in this world that humans will not try to make a competition out of.

Again, I’m trying hard not to impose too much judgment, but rather, simply analyze what I believe Throwback Thursday has become. It is what it is, and seemingly, it’s here to stay.

And feel free to check out my archive of past blogs to the right of this text! Throwback blogs, or #tbb, to keep you entertained for weeks.

Or make you realize how much of your life you’ve wasted spending a few minutes per day with me.

This Bob Dylan interactive video proves that cool things can still happen on the Internet

Has anyone ever taken a step back, and said, when’s the last time I found myself enjoying something that I discovered on the Internet?

Maybe it’s just me being a gloomy, pessimistic sourpuss, but I feel like everything I see on social media makes me shake my head. For instance, the last couple of days, people are bombarding my Newsfeed with a list of 10 things that they claim people do not know about them. I do not understand why people are doing this.

The Internet is an amazing resource. Think of it as an online, interactive workshop. Instead of building something with wood and tools, we now have the ability to create amazing websites, games, apps and videos. Regardless, people choose to make hash tags. And twerk videos. And selfies.

With the amount of people who use the Internet now — which is pretty everyone in the world who doesn’t live in Ethiopia or Zimbabwe — cool things should be invented by the minute. There’s no excuse otherwise. Furthermore, I thought the entire purpose of the world was to invent things so that it could to lead to other inventions. For example, the telegraph turned into the telephone, which led to cordless and cellular phones. A phonograph led to record and CD players, paving the way for portable media players.

But I feel like once the computer was created, inventors were like, “Aight, we’re done now!”

Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I saw something on my computer screen that actually made me say, “Wow, that’s cool.” It seems like nobody is even trying anymore.

Luckily, as of yesterday, my faith has been restored. If you haven’t seen this “Like a Rolling Stone” interactive music video yet, then you need to watch it right now. Because it’s one of the coolest thing you’ll have experienced since the very first time you used AOL Instant Messenger.

In summation, it’s a mini television screen that allows the user to flip through the channels. Each station has a show that one would normally see on television right now — The Price is Right, a variation of The Real Housewives, a tennis match, a History Channel documentary, a cooking and shopping channel.

But in each “show,” the person on-screen is lip-synching the words to Bob Dylan’s most famous tune while it plays in the background. Regardless of what part of the song is playing on whichever channel, it will be sung. And it is amazing.

The video was produced by Dylan’s record label, Columbia, presumably with the influence of Dylan himself. It clearly wasn’t made without his knowledge, as it’s the main attraction on his own official website.

Watching it for the entire six-minute length of the song almost, almost, makes up for all of the other crappy things that exist on the Internet. And it only stands to reason that something this cool, and innovative, was crafted not by a renowned inventor or a mega electronic company, but by Bob Dylan, who is as progressive a singer-song writer as our world has ever known.

Bravo, Bob, for making the Internet cool again.

At least for one day.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford redefines political incompetence, and it’s awesome

People love to hate on politicians. They like to call them corrupt, stupid, misguided, evil, racist, liars — you name it. Every single person who has served as president of the United States has been called one of these things, if not all.

It’s because we expect the smartest, wisest people to lead us. We worry enough about our own lives. We take care of the things we can control. And we leave it up to the best and the brightest to control everything else. So it stands to reason that we expect brilliant individuals to represent us as mayor, governor, senator and president. It really isn’t too much to ask.

But nobody is perfect. That’s what we need to understand. Even the man I spoke about yesterday, John F. Kennedy, who is so often immortalized as a tragic hero who could do no wrong, had his flaws.

So that’s the balance we need to all come to grips with. Although we should expect elected politicians to lead us to the best of their abilities, sometimes it’s accompanied by occasional mistakes and misjudgments.

And then there’s Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto.

Who smokes crack.

And pushes elderly female Councillors while in public session.

And walks into cameras.

And happens to look exactly like Chris Farley.

Often, when Canada is compared to the United States, people like to say how they do things better than its neighbor to the south. It’s a country rarely plagued with controversy, and people just love to point out how their healthcare system is so much better than ours.

Well, there’s never been something that Americans could point to and say, “Yeah, at least we don’t have that.”

And now we do. And his name is Rob Ford.

Toronto voters elected Ford, 44, as their mayor on October 25, 2010. I’m not going to pretend I know a single thing about his policies, experience or world views, but I do know that there has never been another elected official who has served as a greater form of entertainment.

I also do know that it is the obligation of elected officials to behave cordially in every circumstance, because how you are portrayed to the public is an important part of the job. Again, his policies might be outstanding, and he may actually know the key to ending all poverty and crime in the entire world. But as for the public image aspect, he could not be failing more miserably.

And the best part is that we, as Americans, can laugh about it and not actually be affected in any way at the same time. People loved to mock George W. Bush, and his constant ability to embarrass himself in public. But while we were laughing, we were also silently crying, knowing that this man is our commander in chief.

Well, Rob Ford is in another country. And what he does has zero impact on us.

So, we can laugh!

This guy would be funny if he was a comedian whose schtick was to go out in public and intentionally embarrass himself just to entertain others, a la Sasha Baron Cohen. But the fact that he is an actual mayor — who was elected by the public — makes it that much more glorious.

Of course, it will probably end soon. In the last week, the Toronto City Council voted to reallocate some of his mayoral powers to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, and it’s only a matter of time until he is officially booted from office.

But until then, America can all finally sit back, grab a cold beer, and laugh wholeheartedly at Canada for the first time since the South Park movie was released.

Oh, and for good measure, here’s a clip of him falling down while pretending to play football.

More people will care about the Hunger Games than the JFK assassination on Friday

Friday will mark the 50th anniversary of one of history’s most important footnotes: the assassination of John. F Kennedy, our nation’s 35th president.

At 12:30 p.m. in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, Kennedy was fatally shot while traveling in a motorcade alongside his wife, Jacqueline. Having not been born for another 24 years after this happened, I have absolutely no insight to offer into the significance of this day. However, I have heard JFKon more than one occasion that this event represented a “loss of innocence” moment for our parents’ generation as 9/11 was to my generation.

On Friday, when the milestone anniversary occurs, you can expect to hear a lot of commentary and articles by people reminiscing about this day, and trying to contextualize its significant within the history of the world. But, also, on Friday, you’re going to hear a lot of elderly people try to explain why the younger generation should care deeply about this.

Unfortunately for them, another big event will occur on that very same day in America: The release of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

I am not going to speculate right now, instead I am going to tell you that more people will care about this movie than they will the JFK assassination.

And this is not a slight on the American people. I am not using this as a means to criticize our nation’s priorities, or lack of knowledge or interest in American history. I’m simply stating one fundamental truth: very, very few people have a great interest in things that happened more than 20 years before they were born.

Are people interested in John F. Kennedy? No doubt. Throughout grade school, we were enlightened by our educators of the man’s mystique, his affability, his power to captivate any room during a speech. Even through a grainy, technicolor television screen, it was impossible for us not to be entranced, even charmed, by his eloquence.

On top of that, the circumstances surrounding his death are enough to intrigue even the most tepid conspiracy theorists. We’ve all seen JFK. Come on, don’t tell me you still believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Don’t you dare.

That all being said, John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis will be overshadowed by Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark on Friday.

It will pain older Americans when they realize this. But just because something happened precisely 50 years ago to the day, it Catching Firedoesn’t mean the younger generation, who were born 20, 25, 30 years later, will suddenly care more. Ironically, the only impact the anniversary may have on younger people is that you will probably see #JFK trending nationally on Twitter — which, of course, older people won’t see. Because they still think Twitter is a type of candy bar.

Although, it’ll probably be the second highest trending topic that day, behind, you guessed it — #HungerGames. Or #CatchingFire. Or #PostYourFavoriteSelfie.

Let’s face it. In 2012, the first Hunger Games movie grossed $211 million worldwide during its mid-March release, becoming the highest grossing opening weekend ever for a movie not released during the summer or a holiday. And the sequel is only going to be bigger. Plus, the world has a giant love affair with Jennifer Lawrence. Especially males, after seeing her in yoga pants during Silver Linings Playbook. Google it.

I hope the younger generation — including myself — will view the 50th anniversary as a time to respect and appreciate history, and maybe even do a slight bit of research about Kennedy, even if it’s for a minute. It never hurts to learn something.

Even if it means reading his Wikipedia page while sitting in the theater during the coming attractions before Hunger Games.