Deborah Yaffe


By Deborah Yaffe, Mar 21 2016 01:00PM

The holiday of Purim, which begins on Wednesday night, is the Jewish version of Mardi Gras: to commemorate the Biblical tale of how Queen Esther saved her fellow Jews from annihilation, we dress up in costume, throw carnivals for the kids, bake triangular cookies known as hamentashen, and eat and drink way too much. Especially drink.

You’d think this had nothing to do with Jane Austen, wouldn’t you? But this year, you’d be wrong.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco is throwing a Clueless-themed Purim party on Thursday night. Queen Esther will be costumed as Cher, the Emma-like heroine of Amy Heckerling's classic 1995 film, and, SF Weekly reports, “there will be cocktails, a crafting station where you can make your own pink fluffy feather pen, a lip gloss bar, and access to the current exhibit on San Francisco's powerhouse impresario, Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution.”

I’m sure I speak for all us east coast Janeites when I say that it is way harsh that this is happening in California. My synagogue’s Purim celebration this year has a Star Wars theme. Which is fine and, you know, probably more fun for the under-8 set, but still: who among us has not wanted to make our own pink fluffy feather pen for Purim?

By Deborah Yaffe, Feb 29 2016 02:00PM

I love Clueless. Doesn’t everyone? Last summer marked the twentieth anniversary of the film’s release, and the milestone inspired a slew of fond reminiscences (for instance, here and here). Amy Heckerling’s 1995 movie, which updates Emma to high school in Beverly Hills, is clever, funny and touching. What’s not to like?

So when I drew up the agenda for the Austen Catch-Up Project, wherein I spend 2016 bridging a few of the gaps in my Janeite knowledge, As If! The Oral History of Clueless as told by Amy Heckerling, the Cast, and the Crew was a natural addition to the list.

As If! is the brainchild of pop culture journalist Jen Chaney (or, as the back cover has it, “acclaimed pop culture journalist Jen Chaney.”) Loving Clueless as I do, I would like to report that the book matches its subject in wit and heart. Alas -- no. I hate to be way harsh, but the book is, if not quite a full-on Monet, then at the very least a big disappointment.

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