The year of living vicariously

Looking for the best chance of being optioned for a movie starring Paul Rudd.

paul rudd (photo credit: )
paul rudd
(photo credit: )
TO: Annie Daynow, literary agent FROM: Andrew Silow-Carroll, professional writer SUBJECT: My next book project The last time I pitched you a book proposal, you turned me down - and frankly I don't blame you. My idea, a memoir about my family's heartwarming and life-affirming search for the perfect dog, was, as you so astutely pointed out, severely undermined by my chronic allergies, which prevented us from actually getting a dog. What was it you wrote in the rejection letter? Ah, yes: "No dog, no dog book." You'll be happy to hear, then, that my latest proposal doesn't include a dog. You're familiar with "stunt journalism"? A.J. Jacobs wrote The Know-It-All about his experiences reading the Encyclopedia Britannica cover to cover. He followed that up with The Year of Living Biblically, for which he spent 12 months performing the Bible's commandments as literally as possible. Now we have My Jesus Year by Benyamin Cohen, an Orthodox Jew and rabbi's son who chronicled his year touring the Bible Belt. The popularity of these books tells me the genre is not yet exhausted, even if their authors may be. Below are a few projects I'm considering. "My Bar Mitzva Year" - Hilarity ensues when I tag along with my seventh-grade daughter on a year's worth of bar and bat mitzva invitations. Thrill to my late-night attempt to find yet another catering hall in an obscure Long Island exurb! Watch as I race my way through the 57th game of Coke and Pepsi! And see me shed a tear as the bar mitzva boy dedicates candle number six to his late Aunt Sophie - and sob some more when I realize there are still seven candles to go! (Added bonus for medical mystery buffs: My visit to the dermatologist, who will determine if the strange growth on my neck was caused by a Glo-Stick necklace.) "Lotsa Matza: A Year Without Hametz" - It's tough enough to go without bread for the eight days of Passover, imagine 12 months eating shamelessly overpriced foods that contain not a whiff of leavened product, rice, corn or anything else that brings pleasure to life. In "Lotsa Matza," I will ingest matza brei for breakfast, matza ball soup for lunch, and gallons of Pepto-Bismol at dinner. (Possible marketing tie-in: April is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month.) ON THE SERIOUS side, I will investigate the kosher food business, and get to the bottom of such burning questions as: Is there any difference between eating a bowl of Manischewitz Fruity Magic breakfast cereal and injecting a half-cup of maple syrup directly into your veins? "That Was No Lady: Tales from the Other Side of the Mehitza" - My unique eyewitness take on the Orthodox feminist movement. Think Yentl, but with Barbra Streisand and Mandy Patinkin switching roles! (I can't say more until I actually get a rabbi to approve my plan, or find a pair of size 12 4E pumps, whichever comes first.) "Paper Lion of Judah: Confessions from the Women's Philanthropy Department" - Think Yentl again, but this time Mandy plays Mindy, and the setting is not a shtetl but the UJC's General Assembly, the year's largest Jewish charitable convention. I'll go undercover at the plenary sessions and buffet lines, and perhaps lead a discussion at a for-women-only breakout session. (Granted, not much drama here, but I'm thinking the screen adaptation could include a Some Like It Hot romance between my character and a small-town federation executive. Either way, I may need a budget for Max Mara suits and Michal Negrin jewelry.) "The Boys and Girls on the Bus: Undercover with the Birthright Kids" - What really goes on during those 10-day, free trips to Israel for young people? And do you really want to know? I mean, isn't it enough that they're having a good time with other Jewish kids? So she fell in love with the sabra security guard - why complain? It's a phase. They all go through phases. What's that? He wants to come back with her to the States? Gevalt. Listen, tell her you're not going to help with the rent on her Upper West Side studio if he's going to use it to lounge around and pursue a cockamamie "music" career. "Black Hat Like Me" - Not what you're thinking; besides, Jacobs has already done the "every mitzva in the Bible" thing. In my version, I don't change anything about my life or wardrobe, except to wear a Yankees cap at a Mets game. Will I get heckled? Pummeled? Most of all, will I get free press seats? These are just a few of my ideas. Please let me know which one you'd be interested in pursuing and which has the best chance of being optioned for a movie starring Paul Rudd. The writer is editor-in-chief of the New Jersey Jewish News.