Monday, December 31, 2007

Out with the old and in with the new

Greetings to all, and Happy New Year! Traditionally, the passing from one year into another has been a time for resolutions, a time for change. As such, I've decided to make a big change. This is (probably) the last post you'll see in this space. I've decided to move the blog to a new platform and give it a whole new look. All posts (except for this one) and comments have been imported to the new location, and while this "old" version isn't going anywhere, it probably won't be updated anymore.

The new blog can be found here, and the first new post goes live at 12:01am (Israel time) on January 1st, ringing in the New Year with a bang. Don't forget to update your blogrolls, bookmarks, and favorite links!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The funniest terrorist is a dead terrorist...

Tears of laughter came pouring down my face in torrents when I saw the clip below, performed by American stand-up comedian Jeff Dunham, so I just had to share. Try not to eat or drink while watching...

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

What will you be eating on Christmas Day?

I once told an Israeli friend of mine who relocated to the US about some of the Jewish traditions that I grew up with, and he later admitted to me that there was one he hadn't quite believed, until he saw it for himself.

So, what will you be eating on Christmas Day?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

80s Music Video Sunday #47

Life wasn't easy when I first went off to college in Boston. I had just spent a year abroad in Israel and, having already gotten used to living away from home without having my parents around, I found it more than a little disconcerting to find myself surrounded by people undergoing a rite of passage that I had gone through one year previously, in a foreign country, no less. It probably didn't help matters that I wasn't much of a party-person, and certainly wasn't a big drinker. It took me a while to find the friends who would remain as such for the duration of my years at BU, as even though I was being dragged (not kicking and screaming, but certainly not with any degree of wholeheartedness) to parties with my floor mates, the realization that the people I needed to meet couldn't be found at those parties I disliked so much was a long time in coming.

Fortunately for me, I had a fabulous RA (resident assistant) that year, a first-year graduate student whose quirky sense of humor matched my own, who apparently sensed that I was having a hard time finding my niche. Not only did he make me laugh, but he also managed to keep me relatively sane. While I did eventually find my place, I owe him a great debt of gratitude for helping me to get through those first few months in such a big, strange place.

And, I also owe Tim a debt of gratitude for introducing me to one of the greatest bands ever – The Pogues. I'd never heard of them before meeting Tim, and thanks to him, I not only now have a small collection of Pogues albums, but I found that I can impress nearly any Brit or Irishman (or at the very least, I can impress Anglosaxy, who is, anyway, easily impressed ;-P) by making them aware of my musical tastes (at least with regard to The Pogues – I tend to shy away from mentioning that I've also got a few Andy Gibb tracks, but that's neither here nor there…).

So, in the spirit of the season, today's entry for 80s Music Video Sunday is The Pogues' charming little Christmas song, " Fairytale of New York".
Merry Christmas!

Fairytale of New York
The Pogues

It was Christmas Eve babe
In the drunk tank
An old man said to me, won't see another one
And then he sang a song
The Rare Old Mountain Dew
I turned my face away
And dreamed about you

Got on a lucky one
Came in AT eighteen to one
I've got a feeling
This year's for me and you
So Happy Christmas
I love you baby
I can see a better time
When all our dreams come true

They've got cars big as bars
They've got rivers of gold
But the wind goes right through you
It's no place for the old
When you first took my hand
On a cold Christmas Eve
You promised me
Broadway was waiting for me

You were handsome
You were pretty
Queen of New York City
When the band finished playing
They howled out for more
Sinatra was swinging,
All the drunks they were singing
We kissed on a corner
Then danced through the night

The boys of the NYPD choir
Were singing "Galway Bay"
And the bells were ringing out
For Christmas day

You're a bum
You're a punk
You're an old slut on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed
You scumbag, you maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas your arse
I pray God it's our last

The boys of the NYPD choir
Still singing "Galway Bay"
And the bells were ringing out
For Christmas day

I could have been someone
Well so could anyone
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you
I kept them with me babe
I put them with my own
Can't make it all alone
I've built my dreams around you

The boys of the NYPD choir
Still singing "Galway Bay"
And the bells are ringing out
For Christmas Day

Thursday, December 13, 2007

We're going on a witch hunt

While both the mainstream media and the blogosphere have been buzzing about the interrogation of three Israeli journalists following visits to countries defined by Israel as being "enemy" countries, I have remained silent. I chose to remain silent, as anyone who reads this blog is aware of my close friendship with one of them, and while she is certainly aware of my unwavering support, I wasn't sure that I'd be able to write a post that would sound supportive, yet unbiased. Now, following days of frustration and disgust over some of the pieces that have been written as well as some of the comments I've seen, I find that I just can't keep quiet any longer. I'm horrified by the (usually incorrect) assumptions that people have made, involving everything from her journalistic ethics to her motives, and shocked by the number of individuals who seem to think that Lisa Goldman and her colleagues simply woke up one day, tossed a change of underwear and a toothbrush into their laptop bags, and popped across the border to visit with "the enemy", without thinking of the possible ramifications.

While I can't personally vouch for Lisa's colleagues, I'm going to make an educated guess and assume that these are intelligent, knowledgeable individuals who were well aware of where they were going and took necessary precautions – just like Lisa. And, as opposed to being unable to vouch for her colleagues, I CAN personally vouch for Lisa. I know how much thought went into her trips, how much preparation. I know how she was feeling and what she was thinking, her excitement and her concerns, her expectations. Going to Lebanon was not something she took lightly – if anything, I'd say it was quite the opposite.

There are those who complain about her selfishness, about endangering national security by her actions, and so on, just so that she could do a non-newsworthy "fluff" piece. What these individuals are overlooking is that it was not Lisa's intention to file some hard-hitting scoop. Anyone who reads either her blog or any of the other articles that she's either written or been interviewed for knows that Lisa is drawn to human interest stories, and this is precisely what she reported on for both Channel 10 and Time Out Tel Aviv. Whenever people ask me about living in Israel, talking about how dangerous it is or how scary it must be, I've always responded by saying that daily life here is different from what they show on the news, because you don't see reporters filing stories about regular life, and if nothing is happening, there's not going to be a story about it. Until now. Until Lisa went to Lebanon, and returned to share her impressions, to provide Israelis with a picture of "normal" life in Beirut. Not every story needs to be earth shattering, and frankly, I found these scenes from Beirut – a city just a few hours to the north, one that I will probably never have a chance to visit – to be invaluable.

I am both saddened and distressed as I watch this entire episode unfold. As I've been writing this post, I've learned that Daniel Sharon will soon be indicted for his recent trip to Lebanon, and who knows how many other journalists (and politicians) may soon be caught up in the same web as Lisa and her colleagues. Why is there a witch hunt, and why is it happening now, when these kinds of trips have been made for years? As an Israeli, I am worried about our country's current state of affairs, our misplaced priorities. As a person, I am worried about my friend. I want this to go away. Lisa has said that had she realized that what she was doing was against the law, she never would have done it. I believe her. I'm sure there are those of you who will belittle my stance because I'm biased. And you're right. I am biased. Lisa and I wouldn't be such close friends if I didn't admire her so much as an individual – her intelligence, her warmth, her sense of humor. I'm impressed by her innate ability to connect with people, and how she will always go out of her way to do so. One of her primary reasons for visiting Lebanon had to do with her constant desire to build bridges – to learn about her neighbors and to, in turn, share her newfound knowledge with her countrymen. Yes, a law was unknowingly broken, but the intent was neither criminal nor malicious, and if anything, it was the opposite. The police have made their point by publicizing the interrogation, and unless they are planning to go after every other person who's ever made such a trip, I cannot help but question their motives in making an example of these three individuals, and I cannot help but wonder about the direction in which our society is going.


See Lisa's post on the subject here.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

80s Music Video Sunday #46

In the middle of last week, I went from being closer to 39 years of age to closer to 40 years of age, and while I no longer get excited about the half-birthday (and haven't in a very long time), these mini-stones do get me thinking about the past, and make me wonder what the future has in store for me. As people get older, memories from years long gone by become dearer, and frankly, despite the fact that I can't stop it, there's definitely a part of me that wishes I could go back to certain points in my life, taking the knowledge and confidence that I've acquired over the years. There are things I'd like to correct and clarify, episodes I'd like to somehow improve upon or fix. Like everyone, I have regrets – things I've done or haven't done, said or haven't said. Some are long forgotten, while others have occasionally caused me to lose sleep over the years. I've even had the good fortune to clarify and repair two such friendships (and two important ones at that), but still relish the thought of being able to go back and do some things differently.

I must admit that I'm not too keen on the idea of growing older (though it is, quite obviously, better than the alternative), and I definitely agree with the old saying that "youth is wasted on the young". Sometimes, I just want to be forever young

Forever Young

Let's dance in style, let's dance for a while
Heaven can wait we're only watching the skies
Hoping for the best but expecting the worst
Are you gonna drop the bomb or not?

Let us die young or let us live forever
We don't have the power but we never say never
Sitting in a sandpit, life is a short trip
The music's for the sad man

Can you imagine when this race is won
Turn our golden faces into the sun
Praising our leaders we're getting in tune
The music's played by the, the madman

Forever young, I want to be forever young
Do you really want to live forever?
Forever, or never

Forever young, I want to be forever young
Do you really want to live forever?
Forever young

Some are like water, some are like the heat
Some are a melody and some are the beat
Sooner or later they all will be gone
Why don't they stay young?

It's so hard to get old without a cause
I don't want to perish like a fading horse
Youth like diamonds in the sun
And diamonds are forever

So many adventures couldn't happen today
So many songs we forgot to play
So many dreams are swinging out of the blue
We let 'em come true

Forever young, I want to be forever young
Do you really want to live forever?
Forever, or never

Forever young, I want to be forever young
Do you really want to live forever?
Forever, or never

Forever young, I wanna be forever young
Do you really want to live forever?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Why they really went to Annapolis...

I was very skeptical about last week's Annapolis conference. I didn't expect anything to come out of it, and I was rather dubious with regard to some of the participants (and clearly I had good reason to be, as Allison points out here).

In his severely weakened state, Ehud Olmert was forced by various members of his coalition to water down his declared goals until almost nothing was left. Dogged by scandal after scandal, his mandate going into the conference was shaky at best. On the Palestinian side, Mahmoud Abbas is clearly floundering, carrying barely half of a mandate in his pocket and maintaining a fairly solid record vis a vis his inability to contain terror or lead his people.

I, along with many of my countrymen, were simply not impressed, and nor were we very interested. We've heard far too many words, witnessed far too many committees. Frankly, when it came down to it, I couldn't understand the real reasons for holding this conference now, at a time when neither side seemed capable of delivering promises that could actually be kept. I was especially frustrated by Olmert, who hopped across the ocean to attend a useless conference, stopping only to meet with Jerry Seinfeld before grabbing his passport and jumping on a plane, leaving behind a crushing teachers' strike that threatens to render this academic year as being a complete loss. "Why", I thought. Why now? What could you all possibly gain by going to the US now?"

And then, with a blinding flash of intuition that only a shopaholic could understand, I knew. Peace shmeace. With Thanksgiving safely behind us and gift giving holidays on the horizon, there could only be one reason why our leaders were so anxious to be in the US at precisely this time...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

You're spending Chanukah where?

Chanukah – the festival of lights, begins this evening at sundown. At work, we had a company candle lighting ceremony, where I managed to scarf down an outstanding, obscenely calorie-ridden sufganiya filled with caramel, while at the same time explaining the holiday and the ceremony to a visiting colleague from Korea (who was already acquainted with said sufganiya, following a trip last week to one of the local bakeries with my officemate, who had an insatiable craving).

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I am a big fan of Tom Lehrer, so it seems only fitting that I wish all of my celebrating readers a happy Chanukah with Tom Lehrer's fabulous little holiday ditty…

Happy Chanukah to all, and to all a good night.

Chanukah in Santa Monica

Tom Lehrer

I'm spending Channukah in Santa Monica
Wearing sandals, lighting candles by the sea
I spent Shavuos in East Saint Louis
A charming spot but clearly not the spot for me...

Those eastern winters, I can't endure 'em
So every year I pack my gear and come out here til Purim

Rosh Hashona I spend in Arizona
And Yom Kippah way down in Mississippah

But in December there's just one place for me
Mid the California flora I'll be lighting my menorah
Like a baby in its cradle I'll be playing with my dreidel
Here's to Judas Maccabeus, Boy if he could only see us

Spending Chanukah, in Santa Monica, By the Sea!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Promises promises...

One of my favorite bloggers (not to mention one of my closest friends) has made me a promise. Lisa is a finalist in the "Best Non-Muslim Blog" category in the Brass Crescent Awards (which she won last year). The organizers write that "Past winner Lisa Goldman's posts about encounters with Palestinians, Lebanese, and other members of the Arab world "are always excellent," and frankly, I'm inclined to agree. Of course, I'm biased, especially given "the promise".

If Lisa wins, I get a smoked salmon sandwich, latte and dessert at Cafe Noach (only in Hebrew - sorry) in Tel Aviv. And, if you've tried their smoked salmon sandwiches, you'll understand how much I want Lisa to win! So, if you really love me and want me to eat well, or if you just think that Lisa happens to have a blog that is not only awesome, but also meets embodies the criteria for the category in which its been nominated, head on over to the web site for the Brass Crescent Awards and vote for Lisa. And, as long as you're already there, be sure to check out some of the other finalists in the other categories. Some of them are really excellent, and will soon be added to my blogroll.

Just say yes to smoked salmon! And, all kidding aside, I wouldn't be promoting her if I didn't believe that she truly deserves to win. I never cease to be amazed by her words, her efforts and her actions when it comes to bridge-building and reaching out to others, no matter how many obstacles are thrown in her way, no matter how many people try to provoke, discourage, or dismiss her. She always gets back up, dusts herself off, and jumps straight back in, and all because she's acting on what she believes in. The description for the "Best Non-Muslim Blog" category reads "Which blog writen by a non-Muslim is most respectful of Islam and seeks genuine dialogue with Muslims?", and in my opinion, nobody does it better than Lisa.

Plus, just thinking about those sandwiches...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

80s Music Video Sunday #45

Boys, consider yourselves warned. This week’s entry is for the girls…

Ok, ladies, please raise your hands if you didn’t fantasize about replacing Jennifer Grey in the movie Dirty Dancing, especially during those scenes when Patrick Swayze was teaching her how to dance. Just as I expected. I don’t see any hands raised. Not a one. Well, obviously. We all wanted to be the one who “carried a watermelon”. We all wanted Patrick Swayze to teach us that leap in the water. Admittedly, I don’t know anyone who actually wanted to be called “Baby”, though I do have one friend “attended Mount Holyoke in the fall”, after the movie was released.

I loved this movie, not only for the obvious bits mentioned above, but also because I was a child of the Catskills, where the movie took place (though it was actually filmed in North Carolina and Virginia). While we didn’t go there for summers, a lifetime of Passovers was spent at various hotels in the area, and aside from the fact that the wait-staff that had once been comprised of smiling, young college kids was now mostly comprised of native Spanish and Portuguese speakers from Latin America, our experiences there could have come straight from the script of Dirty Dancing, from the plethora of activities (I still have half a backscratcher from the Fallsview, which I won playing Bingo), to the evening shows, to the copious amounts of food served at every meal. The schedule of activities was printed up on a daily basis and available at the front desk, and we would pore over it every morning, seeking out the activities that caught our fancy (miniature golf competitions with prizes), groaning when they conflicted other desirable activities (trivia contests for prizes). There were dance lessons, fashion shows, and endless rounds of Simon Says (more often than not led by the gentlemen described in this article). There was the arcade (“can I have more quarters, Grandma/Grampa/Mom/Dad?”), the swimming pool and the ice skating rink, and one hotel even had a bowling alley. We were busy from the moment we woke in the morning until we fell into bed at night, which was probably a good thing, given how much food we were packing in at each meal.

When my mother, in her youth, would go away to the Catskills with her entire extended family, they were encouraged to fraternize with the aforementioned wait-staff, who were, as I mentioned, young college kids, and most of them, I believe, were Jewish (as were many of the guests). Friendly relationships were welcomed, and waiters and daughters were introduced. By the time we were going to the Catskills, the situation had changed. You’d have been hard-pressed to find a young, Jewish college student among them, and it wasn’t much easier to find a native English speaker. Relationships were no longer encouraged, but me being me, I was fascinated by the young, shy Spanish speakers, and while I carried no watermelons and went to no parties, I did manage to make a few friends along the way.

Between my mother’s stories and my own annual pilgrimages, I truly felt that the Catskill experience was my own, and needless to say, Dirty Dancing resonated with me in a way that other movies did not. Whenever I see it, old, long-forgotten memories are dredged up, exciting, childhood memories from a more innocent time.

And of course, those dance scenes were really hot… Check out the dance sequences threaded into Eric Carmen’s video for “Hungry Eyes”, and you’ll see what I mean.

Hungry Eyes
Eric Carmen

I've been meaning to tell you
I've got this feelin' that won't subside
I look at you and I fantasize
You are mine tonight
Now I've got you in my sights

With these hungry eyes
One look at you and I can't disguise
I've got hungry eyes
I feel the magic between you and I

I want to hold you so hear me out
I want to show you what love's all about
Darlin' tonight
Now I've got you in my sights

With these hungry eyes
One look at you and I can't disguise
I've got hungry eyes
I feel the magic between you
And I've got hungry eyes
Now I've got you in my sights
With these hungry eyes
Now did I take you by surprise

I need you to see
This love was meant to be

I've got hungry eyes
One look at you and I can't disguise
I've got hungry eyes
I feel the magic between you
And I've got hungry eyes
Now I've got you in my sights
With those hungry eyes
Did I take you by surprise

With my hungry eyes

Monday, November 19, 2007

And I thought we had legal loopholes...

Given that my best friend lives in Norway, I have, over the years, developed something of an affinity for various aspects of life in this bastion of blondness (labor unions that boycott Israel and Jostein Gaarder not withstanding, of course). I am rather fond of Norwegian brown cheese, otherwise known as Gjetost (which I can indeed pronounce, thank you very much), Norwegian salmon makes my mouth water, I enjoy lefse, and would love to try lutefisk, if for no other reason than to be able to tell people that I've eaten fish that's been treated with lye. The Husband and I both have beautiful Norwegian sweaters that keep us toasty warm in winter, and the coffee mug I keep at work has pictures of the Norwegian flag on it.

I've been to visit twice, and can even still remember a few words in Norwegian, which is nothing short of a miracle given that it is one of the more difficult languages that I've come across, sounding at times like a cross between words that almost sound like they're in English, and words that sound like the speaker is making them up. Three of the bloggers on my blogroll are Norwegian (blogging in English, obviously), and I had the pleasure of meeting one of them when he came to Israel during the summer.

And of course, because I am a news junkie, I also keep up with the goings on in Norway by periodically reading the English online version of the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten. Though many of the headlines do not catch my fancy (quite a few of the stories seem somewhat mundane and – for me at least – irrelevant when compared to current events in Israel), I occasionally come across stories that scream for attention, stories that make one realize what passes for headline news in "normal" countries. Like the story I came across today, for example. While skimming the headlines, I was immediately drawn to one in particular...

"Bestiality ban proposed

Minister of Agriculture and Food Terje Riis-Johansen wants Norway's Animal Protection Act updated to expressly forbid sex with animals.

The existing act only specifies the kicking and beating of animals as abuse, and the agriculture minister now wants to close loopholes.

"This is a punishable offense that shall not occur," Riis-Johansen told NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting).

The ban will come into effect with the new Animal Protection Act, which will also prevent violence against animals and the use of live animals as feed or bait.

"It will still be legal to use a riding crop on a horse that must be trained. But beating a dog will be illegal," the minister said.

According to a 2006 survey of 650 veterinarians last year, bestiality - sex with animals - occurs far more often than people think.

"Every fifth veterinarian has either established or strongly suspected the sexual abuse of one of its animal patients. The extent of sexual abuse of animals is far greater than we had reason to believe at the beginning," said Live Kleveland of the Norwegian Animal Welfare Alliance.

She said that bestiality was first and foremost a problem with farming animals like cows, pigs, and sheep but also extended to domestic pets like cats and dogs, as well as sporting animals like horses."

Kind of makes you think, doesn't it? And I thought we had legal loopholes...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

80s Music Video Sunday #44

What do you get when you combine a restaurant-owner from Happy Days with a young cousin from Eight is Enough? If you guessed three Karate Kid movies, you'd be spot on. In one of the most successful movie series of the 80s, we were repeatedly brought back to the theaters to watch Pat Morita, who played Arnold on Happy Days, and Ralph Macchio, who played cousin Jeremy during the later years on Eight is Enough, as they showed us again and again that goodness always triumphs in the end (though not without quite a bit of sap along the way). Apparently, there was also a fourth Karate Kid flick made in the early nineties, which helped to launch the career of Hilary Swank, but given that I only discovered this earlier today, I confess that I never had the distinct pleasure of watching yet another Karate Kid film.

As a big fan of both television shows (they just don't make shows like they used to!), I was more than happy to witness the repeated pairing of this duo, and was saddened to hear of Morita's passing back in 2005. Macchio, of course, is still the guy who never really looks any older, despite the fact that he's 46 years old!

As I mentioned, there were three Karate Kid films that came out in the 80s. If I had to pick a favorite, it would have to be Karate Kid II, which came out in 1986. I saw it during the summer, while working as a staff babysitter at my old summer camp, though for the life of me, I can't fathom where there might have been a cinema close to Barryville, NY, which is where the camp was located. But I digress. I suppose I liked KK II the best because of the fact that it was set in Japan (despite being filmed on the Hawaiian island of Oahu), and I enjoyed learning bits about Japanese culture.

As much as I enjoyed the movie though, what really swayed me was the theme song. I'd always been a big fan of the band Chicago, and continued to enjoy the music of Peter Cetera even after he left the group and went solo. And of course, being the typical angst-ridden teenager who was always looking for that knight in shining armor, this song, not to mention the scenes shown while it was being played in the movie, struck a chord with me.

Glory of Love
Peter Cetera

Tonight it's very clear
As we're both lying here
There's so many things I want to say
I will always love you
I would never leave you alone

Sometimes I just forget
Say things I might regret
It breaks my heart to see you crying
I don't wanna lose you
I could never make it alone

I am a man who will fight for your honor
I'll be the hero you're dreaming of
We'll live forever
Knowing together that we
Did it all for the glory of love

You'll keep me standing tall
You'll help me through it all
I'm always strong when you're beside me
I have always needed you
I could never make it alone

I am a man who will fight for your honor
I'll be the hero you've been dreaming of
We'll live forever
Knowing together that we
Did it all for the glory of love

Just like a knight in shining armor
From a long time ago
Just in time I will save the day
Take you to my castle far away

I am a man who will fight for your honor
I'll be the hero you're dreaming of
We're gonna live forever
Knowing together that we
Did it all for the glory of love

We'll live forever
Knowing together that we
Did it all for the glory of love

We did it all for love
We did it all for love
We did it all for love
We did it all for love

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I'm not much of a cook. While you certainly won't starve in my home (and you probably won't even suffer), the chances of me having my own cooking show are about the same as being sought after by the folks over at Iron Chef. The Husband is the true cook in our house; he's the one who has the natural cooking talent, the one who can (usually) throw a bunch of ingredients together and come up with some fabulous new dish. I can more or less follow recipes or instructions, but the concept of just knowing what to do, of intuitively knowing what items go together and what don't simply eludes me, and instead of being daringly creative or complex, I usually stick to dishes that are tried and true. The "wow" factor rarely makes an appearance in my kitchen, and when it does, it usually has nothing to do with me.

I say usually, because I do have a few special dishes up my sleeve. I'm good with salmon and fish in general, and am never afraid to experiment with pasta sauce. My spring chicken is always yummy, and I make a pretty nifty crab cake too (when I can be bothered to deal with crab meat). My best dish though, without a doubt, is my Ghormeh Sabzi. As I may have mentioned at some point, the Husband is Persian. As a result, I developed an affinity for all things Persian ( Mahmoud Ahmadinejad not withstanding), especially Persian food. I love Persian food. I did not have a weight problem until I was introduced to Persian food, and I've been battling ever since. I seek out Persian restaurants abroad and keep an eye out for recipes of the Persian dishes I like. Early on in our marriage, I decided to surprise the Husband by making Ghormeh Sabzi, one of the more popular Persian dishes, and on the menu at every Persian restaurant I've ever visited. At that point, I'd never attempted to make Persian food – it hadn't even crossed my mind to try. Once it did, though, I searched the internet looking for a good (read "easy") recipe, and came up with this one. The Husband was suitably impressed, not only by my efforts, but also by the final outcome, and while he might not come right out and say it, I know he's pleased that I took the initiative to learn how to make one of "his" foods.

Since that fateful first attempt, I try to make Ghormeh Sabzi every few months, though more frequently in winter. The recipe I use refers to it as "an exquisite Iranian dish", and I am inclined to agree. I love the sour taste from the dried lemons, the way the greens soak up so much soup and introduce such a fabulous texture. I love the way the chunks of meat practically melt in your mouth, and when I ladle copious amounts over a plateful of rice (Persian, of course!), the world around me almost ceases to exist, as I plunge my spoon into the center of the dish, making sure that the Ghormeh Sabzi is sufficiently mixed into the rice, before carefully guiding the spoon to my mouth, over and over and over again, filling my stomach and dulling my senses, feeling almost sinful because the food is just... so... good...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

80s Music Video Sunday #43

As a seriously angst-ridden teenager, I spent a great deal of time dwelling on my feelings and thinking about my relationships with others. This manifested itself in a variety of ways – I can remember spending hours in the greeting card aisle at the local pharmacy, browsing through all the Susan Polis Schutz cards, looking for sentiments that matched my own, or, if I had time, turning the pages of her books in the hopes of finding the words that expressed how I was feeling. Like most of my peers, my moods were all over the place, and if that weren't enough, I probably spent far too much time thinking that not only did no one really seem to notice me, but that they also probably wouldn't notice if I wasn't around (not that I was suicidal, because I wasn't, but thinking in more abstract terms of simply not being there). I even wrote poems about it, poems that I'm assuming (and hoping) no longer exist.

And of course, when I wasn't searching for the meaning of life in Susan Polis Schutz paraphernalia, I would listen to music and try to ascertain whether or not the lyrics could be applied to my own life in some context. I would analyze the words, marveling at the fact that these artists were writing what I was feeling. I would listen to the late night dedication shows, thinking about the songs that I would dedicate and to whom. When I was down, I would make sure to listen to music that best conveyed my emotions of the moment, whether they were of the "nobody understands me" variety or the "why doesn't this person notice me" genre.

While I no longer peruse greeting cards, to this day, I still relate song lyrics to whatever happens to going on in my life. I have sent songs to friends simply because the songs reminded me of these specific individuals for any one of a multitude of reasons (such as the song "Thank You" by South African artist Lionel Bastos, which always reminds me of my pal NRG), and have even been known to pick up the phone to call someone because a song I was listening to made me think of them. There are songs that I can't listen to because the images they conjure up are too difficult to bear, such as Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven", which he wrote after losing his young son and hits far too close for home, or songs that automatically take me back to certain periods or events in my life, both good and bad (such as the Eurythmics' "I Saved the World Today").

Lately, more often than not, I've been feeling mellow and out of sorts, as you may have guessed. And me being me, I'm trying to figure out which song from the 80s best suits my current mood. After careful deliberation, I've decided to go with a song by one of the best (in my opinion, anyway) groups of the era - Asia. The song is "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes", which was released as one of the songs on the album "Alpha" in 1983.

The Smile Has Left Your Eyes

I saw you standing hand in hand
And now you come to me the solitary man
And I know what it is that made us live
Such ordinary lives
The where to go the who to see
No one could sympathize
The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
The Smile Has Left Your Eyes

And I've become a rolling stone
I don't know where to go or what to call my own
But I can see that black horizon glooming
ever close to view
It's over now it's not my fault
See how this feels for you
The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
The Smile Has Left Your Eyes

But I never thought I'd see you
Standing there with him
So don't come crawling back to me

Now it's too late you realized
Now there's no one can sympathize
Now that the Smile Has Left Your Eyes
Now it's too late you realized
Now there's no one can sympathize
Now it's too late you realized
Now that the Smile Has Left Your Eyes

Monday, November 05, 2007

My Son the Gynecologist

For as long as I can remember, I have always loved to read. Growing up, it was not uncommon for me to be working on two books at once, and even today I often keep one book in my bag and another in the bathroom (yes, I admit it – I keep reading material in the bathroom. What can I say – I bore easily...). Even now, as I sit here on the train writing this, my mind keeps wandering to the Bill Bryson book tucked away in the bag at my feet. I first encountered the marvelous world of Mr Bryson during a visit to the Anglosaxies, and he's since become one of my favorite writers (thanks, AS!). I've read all of his travel books at least once, and have read most of them twice. The man is brilliant, what can I say (I am, of course, referring to Bill Bryson, so don't get cheeky on me Anglosaxy!).

But I digress. Reading. Given my great love of books, it was only natural that I would try to pass on my passion to the Little One, and so far, it seems to be working. His collection of books is growing, and one of our favorite activities is to curl up together with a good story. Most of his books are in English, purchased during trips to the US, or delivered as gifts from family and friends. Every year on his birthday, without fail, he receives at least one gift certificate from Amazon, and I have almost as much fun choosing books for him as I do for myself.

Some of the books, he knows by heart (as do I... sigh...), and not only will he recite them out loud as I read, but he also won't hesitate to let me know if I've skipped a page, always keeping me on my toes.

And then there are times when the books themselves keep me on my toes. We always leave the book selection up to the Little One (though not without a bit of nudging if he chooses a book that we simply can't bear to read yet again). Sometimes he opts for a book in English, and other times, he'll prefer a book in Hebrew. Several weeks ago, he chose the latter, and brought a book that we hadn't read before. It was one of the many we'd inherited from my sister-in-law, whose children had outgrown the books long ago. The book was about bringing babies into the world, and given that it was obviously a children's picture book, I had no concerns about the contents.

Apparently, I should have. What began as a lighthearted description of baby animals quickly gave way to talk of sperm and eggs. As I continue to read out loud, my mind is spinning. "Whoa! Did I read that correctly?" "Sperm?" "I'm reading about sperm and eggs to a three year-old?" "Well Jesus, Mary and Joseph! This has got to stop!" It would seem, however, that I stopped too late, as a little penny dropped somewhere in the Little One's head. While the sperm failed to register, the concept of eggs definitely left its mark. Despite the fact that the book has since been shoved to the back of a high shelf, the mythical eggs live on.

The Little One, bless him, is convinced that I now have a tummy full of eggs, and has proudly shared this news with nearly everyone who crosses his path – the neighbors, his teachers, my husband's business colleagues (who, I'm told, were visibly uncomfortable by the disclosure)... He keeps tugging at my shirt and pressing my stomach in order to try to find them, and has suggested that I go to the doctor, so that he can take pictures of my eggs.

As this saga was unfolding, we received word that our son had drawn the most marvelous pictures, demonstrating a level of skill usually shown by children who are at least five years old, not three. It was, apparently, a picture of me. "And what is that little line in my tummy," I asked him, pleased that he may have inherited his grandmother's art skills (which have obviously skipped a generation...). "Your eggs, Mommy!"

Welcome to my world, folks. Put on your seatbelts - I think we're in for a bumpy ride!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Once Upon a Prostate

Approximately eleven years ago, my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Unnerving to be sure, but given that Dad is a "cup is half full" kind of guy, he approached the situation with his usual happy go lucky optimism. My mother, on the other hand, while not exactly a "cup is half empty" sort (more of a "cup is half full, but lets keep an eye open for cracks and chips just in case" gal), refused to accept this upheaval with my father's typical blasé attitude. She was the one responsible for researching the complexities of the disease and the different options; she was the one who researched various treatment centers.

In my dad's case, we were lucky in that the cancer was caught early, making it possible for him to undergo a course of treatment that was, relatively speaking, not too invasive. As I recall, his treatment, known as "brachytherapy", included a combination of mild course of radiation and the placement of radioactive seeds directly on the tumor, which had already been shrunken by the radiation. All treatment was managed by a very capable medical team at Sloan-Kettering in New York City, and lasted for approximately six weeks, during which time, my father stayed alternatively with friends in the City or family on Long Island, often accompanied by my mother.

Despite their reasons for being there, they enjoyed their extended stay in NYC, taking advantage of the situation by going to the theater, hitting the museums, and making the rounds of the restaurants. They spent time with friends and family, and generally made the very best of these somewhat unfortunate circumstances.

The success rates for prostate cancer are quite high, and Dad's prognosis was excellent. Indeed, he has been cancer-free ever since (tfu tfu tfu). Being far away, I was, of course, concerned, but given what I knew of this particular type of cancer, I wasn't overly worried. And, not to belittle the seriousness of the disease, but if you can imagine that my father and I have a similar sense of humor (as some of you can verify), you can also imagine that we managed to have fun with his illness. At gatherings of family or friends, he would say something to the effect that, "isn't it wonderful that my cancer is bringing us all together like this". When people gave him books to read during treatment, he would often ask, "if I survive, do I have to return the book?" As a result of such outbursts, I used to say that if the cancer didn't kill him, Mom would.

In the years since my father was sick, many of his friends have battled and beat prostate cancer. Colin Powell has beaten the disease as well (not to mention a host of other celebrities). While cancer is cancer, having witnessed both my father's battle with prostate cancer and my mother-in-law's battle with colon cancer (a battle she lost painfully just under ten years ago), when caught early, I'd have to say that prostate cancer doesn't make my heart skip a beat as some of the more lethal forms do.

Which is probably why I didn't go beyond the eyebrow-raising stage yesterday upon hearing that Prime Minister Olmert has been diagnosed with the Big C. Unlike former Prime Minister (and currently comatose) Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert is in good physical condition. He exercises and goes for regular medical check-ups, and his prostate cancer was caught early. Chances are excellent that he will be fine, though his choice of treatment – surgery – may result in both incontinence and impotence (of course, there are those of us who already believe he is rather impotent, albeit from a political standpoint...), neither of which must be terribly welcome prospects.

Though having cancer certainly isn't a lot of fun (my father's bout not withstanding...), prostate cancer is usually (though unfortunately not always) far less lethal than many other cancer types. And, while I can certainly understand how a sick Prime Minister is a hot news item, especially following the drama of the Sharon affair, I shudder to think that for the next few months, the media will be force-feeding us sound bytes related to the prime ministerial prostate. It's one thing to know that the man is sick, but quite frankly, viewing diagrams of a diseased prostate during dinner and hearing intimate details about the upcoming surgical procedure is just a tad more information than I need to know...

Amazing how far the guy will go for the sympathy vote, though, innit?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

80s Music Video Sunday #42

While in Israel during the winter of 1991, two friends and I decided to go to Cairo. Once we'd gotten all of the required bureaucracy out of the way, the trip involved a very long, tedious bus ride from Tel Aviv, through the Rafah crossing (more about that later, but keep in mind that the crossing was administered at the time by Israel and Egypt, prior to the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority...), across the Suez Canal, past the charming seaside town of El Arish, and endless hours across the stark, barren desert.

Cairo was fascinating, and I wouldn't be exaggerating if I added that it was a serious assault to all of my senses. The sites, the sounds, the smells... The city is crowded and lively, and the people we encountered were friendly. The Egyptians who thought that I was Israeli (on account of my winter jacket at the time being like the ones worn in the Israeli military) often greeted me in broken Hebrew with a smile. The pyramids were stunning, and the Egyptian Museum and the Museum of Islamic Art were exceptional. I even managed to teach myself how to read and write Arabic numerals while at the Egyptian Museum, and if hard-pressed, I might even remember a few of them...

As I recall, Egyptian drivers were worse than Israeli drivers, and for those of you who have encountered Israeli drivers, you can imagine what the streets of Cairo must be like for drivers and pedestrians alike – especially pedestrians like me, who tend to act like a deer caught in the headlights while crossing the road as cars bear down on them, whizzing past and making one feel as though they were trapped in a real-life version of the game Frogger. Buses barely stopped at the designated stations, slowing down just enough for more people to jump on, often hanging out of doors and windows, crammed in like sardines and hanging on for dear life as the driver made his way through the streets, clearly imagining that he was traveling along the German Autobahn instead of the traffic-infested roads of Cairo.

Driving across the Egyptian desert after dark was often nerve-wracking, as it seemed to me that vehicles would drive using either high beams or no lights at all. At one point, you feel like your bus (or car) was the only one on the road, an illusion that was frequently shattered in an instant when you were suddenly blinded by the high beams of an oncoming vehicle whose driver had clearly opted to use only the slivers of moonlight to find his way.

And then there was the border crossing. I had difficulties in both directions, and my passport was always the last one from our bus to come out (once, the person responsible for our group even had to go into the offices to retrieve it). This was prior to obtaining Israeli citizenship or being in possession of an Israeli passport, and while traveling on my American passport (the only passport I had at the time) the folks at passport control were convinced that I was trying to hide the fact that I was Israeli, despite my protestations that I was American. For some reason, they had gotten it into the heads that I must be Israeli, because my last name is "Rosenberg", which was, according to them, a very Israeli name. I did my best to convince them that it was also a very Jewish name, and in the end, I prevailed, but it was frustrating nonetheless, as I could see that they weren't terribly keen on the idea of believing me.

While I enjoyed my trip to Cairo, to be honest, I'm not sure that I'd want to go back. It was a huge, crowded, congested, dirty city, and frankly, one that I am too timid to take on. I have a feeling that as far as Arab capital cities go, Amman or Beirut would be much more to my tastes. Of course, missing my trip to Cairo would have meant that I'd never have discovered that, when it comes down to it, the Cairenes perambulate just like everybody else. In other words, I didn't come away from my visit knowing how to walk like an Egyptian...

Walk Like an Egyptian
The Bangles

All the old paintings on the tomb
They do the sand dance, don'cha know?
If they move too quick (Oh-Way-Oh)
They're falling down like a domino

And the bazaar man by the Nile
He got the money on a bet
For the crocodiles (Oh-Way-Oh)
They snap their teeth on a cigarette

Foreign types with their hookah pipes sing:
Walk like an Egyptian.

The blonde waitresses take their trays
Spin around and they cross the floor
They've got the moves (Oh-Way-Oh)
You drop your drink then they bring you more

All the school kids so sick of books
They like the punk and the metal band
When the buzzer rings (Oh-Way-Oh)
They're walking like an Egyptian

All the kids in the marketplace say:
Walk like an Egyptian.

Line your feet astreet, bend your back,
Shift your arm, then you pull a clock
Like Sergeant O (Oh-Way-Oh)
So strike a pose on a Cadillac

If you want to find all the cops,
They're hanging out in the donut shop.
They sing and dance (Oh-Way-Oh)
They spin their clock and cruise on down the block

All the Japanese with their Yen
The party boys call the Kremlin
The Chinese know (Oh-Way-Oh)
They walk along like Egyptians

All the cops in the donut shops say:
Walk like an Egyptian
Walk like an Egyptian

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

But we were on a break!

I guess you've all realized by now that I'm on something of a break. I hadn't planned it, but my mind has been feeling rather dry and empty lately, and I can't seem to summon up the energy to blog the way I'd like to. Hopefully, things will return to normal shortly. In the meantime, you can find me over at Israelity today and Thursday, so please feel free to pop on over and check it out.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

80s Music Video Sunday #41

In the grand scheme of things, I've come to the conclusion that I'm a bit weird when it comes to remembering inane bits of trivia and assorted episodes from my past. I remember people much better than they remember me, and it can be rather alarming when I can spew the most minute, trivial details about past encounters when the person in question doesn't even remember my name. I've got a collection of birthdays filed away, mostly for friends whom I haven't spoken to in years, and I can remember my login name for my very first computer account (back in elementary school, when we used small black-and-white televisions as monitors and connected to the local network by dialing a certain telephone number and placing the receiver in a specially-designed piece of equipment).

I can remember plots from random episodes of 70s television shows, not to mention the names of actors and actress from various shows. In college, no one was more surprised than my roommate S when I was able to quickly name the actress/singer who played the role of Leather Tuscadero on Happy Days, and quite frankly, I'm not surprised that I actually remember how the subject came up. My friend C shares my appreciation for entertainment trivia, and our emails often incorporate these useless tidbits of knowledge to evoke memories and provoke raucous laughter on a regular basis (though chances are, no one else will get the joke but us...).

I'm also good at remembering numbers, whether it be dates, addresses, telephone numbers (a skill that's deteriorated with the advent of the cellular phone, of course), and so on. I can still remember my grandmother's phone number in Brooklyn, though the number hasn't been in service since 1984 or so, and I remember the phone numbers of some of my old neighbors in the town where I grew up. I can reel off my aunt and uncle's home address and phone number as necessary. Like many of my peers, I've memorized the mailing address for Zoom (that's 350, Boston, Mass, 02134), but I'm not sure that I can recite it without actually singing it as the Zoom kids did. I can also still do Bernadette's butterfly – can you?

Of course, for those of us who grew up in the 80s, there's one telephone number that none of us are ever likely to forget, belonging to a certain young lady named Jenny. Thanks to Tommy Tutone, an overwhelming number of telephone calls were made to increasingly frustrated individuals in a variety of area codes whose greatest misfortune was to have the phone number 867-5309.

Tommy Tutone

Jenny Jenny who can I turn to
you give me something I can hold on to
now you think I'm like the others before
who saw you name and number on the wall

Jenny I got your number
I need to make you mine
Jenny don't change your number
867-5309, 867-5309, 867-5309, 867-5309

Jenny Jenny your the girl for me
you don't know me, but you make me so happy
I tried to call you before but I lost the nerve
I tried my imagination but I was disturbed

Jenny I got your number
I need to make you mine
Jenny don't change your number
867-5309, 867-5309, 867-5309, 867-5309

I got it, I got it, I got your number on the wall
I got it, I got it, for a good time, for a good time call

Jenny don't change your number
I need to make you mine
Jenny I got your number
867-5309, 867-5309, 867-5309, 867-5309

Jenny Jenny who can I turn to (867-5309)
for the price of a dime I can always turn to you

Friday, October 12, 2007

Back to the Future...

Greetings and salutations, my trusted readers. As many of you know, I've begun writing for the Diplomatic Post which, unfortunately, is not online at this stage. Since a few of you have been clamoring to see my columns, I received the approval of my editor to post them here. The column below appeared in the second issue of the magazine, which was distributed on August 31st (to Jerusalem Post subscribers only). The column is known as "Page Before Last".


When it comes to dealing with the future of Israel and the Middle East, it seems that there are primarily two kinds of people – those who like to talk about it and those who try to do something about it (and then, there's a fringe third group – those who like to talk about the fact that they're doing something about it, a group comprised almost solely of politicians. But I digress...). Seminars and conferences focusing on the subject of Israel and the Middle East abound, and indeed, the complexities of this region provide a never-ending supply of fodder for think tanks and institutes around the world.

What is it about this region that causes the ears of otherwise apathetic individuals to perk up at its mention? The lad who probably can't tell you where the Middle East is located fancies himself an expert, and the local English professor goes apoplectic whenever the subject comes up in conversation. The quest for knowledge is seemingly insatiable, and academics and politicians hot on the lecture circuit make the rounds, recycling nuggets of information to wide-eyed audiences hungry for information. After all, the future of the Middle East has been a hot topic for thousands of years, and while the names and faces change, one fact remains constant – nothing ever changes.

Okay. Maybe that's not completely accurate. On the plus side, Israel (whose creation itself was certainly one of the bigger changes the region has seen during the past 100 years) has garnered peace agreements with two of its neighbors and maintains low-level ties with several other countries in the region. Changes for the worse are too numerous to mention. They're also too repetitive to mention; when it comes down to it, the changes don't really change. You'd think that given all the time spent discussing the future of this region, we'd have been treated to far more success.

Which brings us (albeit rather circuitously) back to our main topic – the proliferation of conferences purporting to shed light on the future. One can't help but be amazed, not only by the diversity of sub-topics, but also by the diversity of approaches to each sub-topic. Who knew? Who knew that there were so many ways to discuss the intricacies of the Arab world? Who knew that there were so many perspectives for analyzing Israel's prospects for peace? Who knew that these same subjects would be dissected ad nauseum for generations without resolution, with each speaker trying to put a unique spin on things, attempting to sound original?

The past few months in Israel have seen at least two events on this subject, one entitled, "Israel and the Middle East at a Crossroad", and the other creatively named "The Future of the Middle East", a symposium that included a staggering number of panels on a wide variety of topics. These affairs were organized by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and the Israel Council on Foreign Relations – organizations that might not catch your attention were it not for their voracious ability to organize conferences and produce a dizzying array of publications.

It's starting to become a bit too predictable, these conferences. "The Future of the Middle East"? "The Middle East at a Crossroad"? The names say it all. Or perhaps they don't say anything. I suppose these names allow for a certain amount of latitude with regard to subject matter, but seriously. We need a new angle, something to get us into the proper frame of mind given the grand scheme of things.

First on the agenda is a unique line-up: We’d need someone like Jimmy Carter, Shimon Peres or Bill Clinton telling us how great the future can be, and someone from the World Bank to extol the virtues of how lucrative it will be. Then, we need a few historians to explain whose fault it is that we’re still in this mess (without alienating anyone, of course). This would, of course, be followed by the resident Arab-basher (probably from the Foreign Office or some such, in order to lend a degree of credibility) explaining how dangerous Iran is becoming and – just to make it even – your token Arab (preferably a poet). For a change, maybe the venue should be a Bedouin tent or perhaps a casino… in New Jersey (or possibly a Bedouin-themed casino in Vegas...). Oh, and we need a catchy title. Something that broadcasts a new trend in thought.

I was thinking along the lines of "The Future of the Middle East: Rehashing it all yet again", or perhaps "Israel and the Middle East: Past, Present and Future – It's all the same, really". Or maybe, someone should just make a movie.

Back to the Future, anyone?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

80s Music Video Sunday #40

One day last week I had the distinct pleasure of having lunch with Benji at a small resto near my office. Over humus and salad, we discussed a variety of subjects – work, living in Israel, bloggers and blogging, writing, and so on. One of the main topics of conversation, however, was summer camp. Benji recently returned to Israel after spending his summer working at our old summer camp, and I was anxious to hear all about it. Benji was more than happy to share, and regaled me with story after story about our old stomping grounds.

I loved hearing about the activities being done these days, how things have changed, etc. Many of my fondest memories were created during my summers spent there, and to this day, random interactions, sites and smells can trigger flashbacks (the smell of wooden planks on a hot summer day reminds me of the smell of camp cabins). Seeing Benji opened a floodgate of old memories, and given that he shares my love of 80s music, I find myself remembering songs that were popular in camp. My mind drifts back to the annual talent show, and I can recall with incredibly clarity a group of my bunkmates preparing their song and dance routine. I can remember the cool arm twists, the bit where they jumped around, turning from back to front in order to face the audience. The song they chose was Deniece Williams' "Let's Hear it for the Boy", from everyone's favorite movie of 1984 – Footloose.

While I couldn't find an actual video of the original song, what you're going to see below is a clip of Williams singing the song on Solid Gold, a show that probably deserves its very own blog entry...

Let's Hear it for the Boy
Deniece Williams

My baby he don't talk sweet
He ain't got much to say
But he loves me, loves me, loves me
I know that he loves me anyway

And maybe he don't dress fine
But I don't really mind
'Cuz every time he pulls me near
I just wanna cheer

Let's hear it for the boy!
Oh, let's give the boy a hand
Let's hear it for my baby
You gotta understand
Maybe he's no Romeo
But he's my loving one-man show
Let's hear it for the boy!

My baby may not be rich
He's watching every dime
But every night he holds me
And we always have a real good time

And maybe he sings off-key
That's alright by me
But what he does he does so well
Makes me wanna yell

Let's hear it for the boy!
Oh, let's give the boy a hand
Let's hear it for my baby
You gotta understand
Maybe he's no Romeo
But he's my loving one-man show
Let's hear it for the boy!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Help me! I'm melting!

A constant source of interest among bloggers is visitor statistics. We like to know who are readers are, where they're from, and how they found us. In my case, many of my visitors find me while performing a Google search for one term or another. Sometimes the search terms are unusual (I had a hit for "underwear parade" earlier today), and many border on lewd or even outright perverse in nature. Many people want to know more about potty training, especially as it pertains to little boys. It would also seem that many people are making travel plans to Amsterdam, as I frequently receive visitors searching for touring suggestions in this fabulous city. I get a lot of hits from people looking for information on pregnancy and fertility-related subjects (and interestingly enough, the overwhelming majority of these hits originate in India, which leads me to wonder about the availability of pregnancy-related literature in this vast, fascinating country), to the point where I've considered creating a page or blog entry that consists almost solely of helpful pregnancy and fertility links. I hope to get to this little project as soon as I have some free time on my hands (one of these years...).

If I had to pick the single topic that draws the greatest number of visitors, it would probably be music, and 80s music in particular. People are always searching for their favorite songs and artists, not to mention quirky bits of song and artist-related trivia (the terms "Nena hairy armpits" pop up more frequently than I'd have imagined...). I get a tremendous number of hits from people looking for songs using random song lyrics. Sometimes, the lyrics are spot on, and other times, I'm rather surprised that the correct song was actually found, given how far off the mark the person's guess was, in comparison to the actual lyrics. Occasionally, I just stare at the line of text, wondering how someone decided to search using those specific terms (such as the recent searches for the term "Diggy dang diggy diggy".

Of course, we all know how hard it can be to understand the lyrics of some songs, and can't help but smile once we discover what the actual lyrics are. I've gotten some doozies since I started, but none of them even come close to the one I discovered in my stats this morning. Back in May, I wrote an 80s Music Video Sunday entry featuring the song "I Melt with You", by Modern English, a rather catchy tune, and to be honest, I've never considered the lyrics to be all that unintelligible. Maybe I couldn't pick up every word, but I wouldn't have had any outrageous misunderstandings (and certainly none with any potentially anti-Semitic undertones...), which is why the water I was drinking almost shot out my nose when I noticed that someone had come across my blog by searching for "I'll stop the world and melt the jews".

Ummmm... Yeah... Exactly...

Somewhere in The Bronx right now, sits an individual who (I hope) is utterly astonished at having gotten this one so, so wrong.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

80s Music Video Sunday #39

Ever gone on a date with someone while your leg was in a cast? I have. As I've mentioned before, I managed to break my leg only several weeks after arriving in Israel at age 18. During the weeks prior to my little mishap, a few friends and I met a group of young men at a (long-defunct) pub in Jerusalem. One of my friends immediately hooked up with one of the young men (immediately being an exchange of phone numbers, of course, and not a quick round of tonsil hockey that very same evening), and thus began one of the more interesting adventures of that year.

The young men we met were Armenian, and lived in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City. They told us about life in the Quarter and they invited us to parties that took place within the walls of the Quarter's convent (the convent was essentially a complex, and many Armenians lived within its walls, resulting in creative entries and exits once the convent gates were locked each night). We snuck them into our dormitory's second-story common room (through the porch door) after the house mother refused them entrance into the building (because they weren't nice Jewish Israeli boys), and we even learned a few words of Armenian (which sadly escape me now).

It was at one of the aforementioned convent parties that I met Aram. He was the DJ, and I was a girl with a serious crush. I didn't see Aram again until after I'd broken my leg. We all went downtown as a group, and believe me when I say that it's no easy feat to get from one end of Jaffa Road to the other with a full-leg cast and crutches. Soon after that, Aram and I made plans to go to a movie, and arranged that he would pick me up at my dormitory. I was excited, and while there was some lingering concern because I didn't know him very well, I reasoned that the cast on my leg, combined with the fact that the car only had two doors, would act as a deterrent in keeping things from going farther than I was prepared to go.

Aram picked me up in his black BMW (as I recall...), presented me with a red rose (which I keep to this day in its dried form), and then we went to see a film at the long-gone Edison Theatre. The film was "Top Gun", and to this day, whenever I hear the song I've chosen for today's 80s Music Video Sunday entry, I'm immediately transported back to that evening, twenty-one years ago, a time when Tom Cruise was just a talented young actor, and not someone prone to making an utter fool of himself on national television repeatedly. The song is Berlin's "Take My Breath Away".

Take My Breath Away

Watching every motion
In my foolish lover's game
On this endless ocean
Finally lovers know no shame
Turning and returning
To some secret place inside
Watching in slow motion
As you turn around and say

Take my breath away
Take my breath away

Watching I keep waiting
Still anticipating love
Never hesitating
To become the fated ones
Turning and returning
To some secret place to hide
Watching in slow motion
As you turn to me and say

Take my breath away
Take my breath away

Through the hourglass I saw you
In time you slipped away
When the mirror crashed I called you
And turned to hear you say
If only for today
I am unafraid

Take my breath away
Take my breath away

Watching every motion
In this foolish lover's game
Haunted by the notion
Somewhere there's a love in flames
Turning and returning
To some secret place inside
Watching in slow motion
As you turn my way and say

Take my breath away
Take my breath away

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

It's not easy being blue and white

Sorry for the silence lately. Life has been hectic, and I haven't really had the time or energy to concentrate on blogging. I've also realized that the focus has changed around here, and I'm not packing quite the punch that I used to. I've been feeling rather frustrated and dissatisfied, and generally too annoyed with the state of the world to actually write about it. It's hard to write passionately about politics and current events when global affairs has taken on a "same shit different day" quality, and I can't seem to write myself into a frenzy about events that have become all too predictable, not to mention overwhelmingly pathetic.

I suppose the biggest story these days is Iranian President Ahmadinejad's visit to New York and speech at Columbia University. Too say that I'm simply bowled over by people's naivete as far as this man is concerned would be an understatement. I almost felt sorry for the Columbia student interviewed on Fox News (I was channel surfing, lest you think that I actually watch Fox – the channel once referred to by the Husband as a pretend news channel) who believed that having Ahmadinejad speak would perhaps create an opportunity for dialog and understanding, as people would have a chance to hear what he had to say and to ask him "tough" questions. Frankly, I can't see myself developing understanding or wanting to dialog with a head of state who openly questions whether or not the Holocaust took place, calls for the country I call home to be "wiped off the map", and claims that there are no homosexuals in his country, but hey, that's just me.

Tales of Mahmoud in the big city weren't the only saga to get my knickers in a twist yesterday. As you all know, I decided several months ago that comment moderation would be required. I was tired of providing a voice for people who seemed to believe that my blog could be used as a platform for some rather serious venom spewing, like the individual who periodically pops up to inform me that I'm spreading ideological AIDS and should be locked up or to astound me with incredibly racist, hate-filled comments about Germans (in response to this post) and Arabs. While this individual drops by for a visit only once every few months or so, the visits are rather long-winded, and the number of comments awaiting moderation skyrockets, as he or she sends comment after comment after comment, with barely enough time for a bathroom break in between.

There are those who would say that I'm deserving of such comments, given the nature of my politics. There are many who believe that I am too accommodating and too naive/ignorant/stupid when it comes to Palestinian/Arab issues, and these people don't hesitate to share their opinions with me – sometimes respectfully, but often, not so much. For those of you, however, who might choose to believe that I go too far, there are others who believe that I don't go far enough. Yesterday morning, I had the pleasure of discovering four comments awaiting moderation, all from someone named Liza. I have a cousin named Liza, and given that I'd sent her a birthday message the day before, I assumed the comments were from her. Suffice it to say that I was wrong. Very wrong. This woman had googled her own name, and thus found my blog. From the comments she left, I gather she wasn't terribly impressed by what she had read.

Comment #1 reads as follows:

"Hi, Liza,
How would you like to be living in Gaza?

Or how would you like to have been living in Lebanon during the summer of 2006.

Ah, yes, the message is slow. But people will eventaully (sic) get it. In fact, most of
the world gets it. "
Comment #2:

"Oh, blog approval is needed.
Ha Ha
Bet you get a lot of hate mail."
And in case you weren't getting the full gist of her feelings, here's comment number three:

"You're full of it, Liza. I'm so sick and tired of people who find the foreign policy of the state of Israel to be despicable accused of being anti-Semitic. No, you do not know the difference and don't claim that you do.

I do not know a Jewish person when I see one and I know nothing about your religion. That is true of almost everyone.

It is Israel that I have a problem with.

Anyhow, I have to stop reading your blog. It just infuriates me.

I have an idea for Israel that they haven't thought of yet.

STOP KILLING INNOCENT PEOPLE. Stop saying that you were looking for such and such a "terrorist" and using that as an excuse for genocide.

God, please let me live to see the day when the US does not pay for Israel's wars against the Arabs. "
And the utterly charming comment number four:

"A human face on the monster known as Israel?

Good luck.

The monster remains a monster. Stop killing Palestinians and maybe in a few
generations you might look different.

The victim becomes the aggressor. It happens all the time. In this case, the victim turned aggressor is more brutal than could ever be imagined. And my tax dollars support it, against my will, of course.

Go ahead and moderate me, Liza. I'm kind of sorry we have the same name. That's how I happened to find your little blog.

I thought I would share this little message with you. The truth will eventually
spread in the US. Truth does that. And one day Americans will realize they do
not have to shoulder the blame for the Holocaust. Has there ever been a more
complete and total guilt transfer?

Maybe one day Americans will realize that Muslims are not all terrorists and that what is taking place in Gaza is genocide.

Good bye, Liza, lady with my name. I won't be back to your little propaganda filled world. Just wanted to leave you a message."
Kermit the Frog thought it wasn't easy being green. I bet it's a picnic compared to being blue and white...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Just a moment?

Living in Israel for sixteen years means that I don't often pay attention to those "only in Israel" moments anymore, and events that may strike a new immigrant as unusual are no longer something out of the ordinary. The times when I'd wake up and go through my days being conscious of the fact that I was in a "foreign" country are long gone, and while I still mutter and mumble about some of the more maddening aspects of life here, it is more often than not with the full agreement of my native Israeli friends and acquaintances - in other words, I'm grumbling about life, and not about "life in Israel" (though admittedly, sometimes I become a bit more focused in my grumbling...). During my time here, I've gradually undergone a metamorphosis, changing from the wide-eyed, easily-excitable immigrant into a jaded, cynical Israeli (though the foundations for my jaded cynicism had, quite obviously, been laid far before I'd ever set foot in this country, so it really wasn't much of a stretch).

Yesterday, however, I had a rare "only in Israel" moment. While sitting at my home computer playing around on Facebook trying to get some work done, I was repeatedly distracted by a truck going through the neighborhood with a megaphone. From my seat in front of the computer, I couldn't see the truck, nor did I try very hard to hear what was being said. Ordinarily, these megaphone masters are trying to sell something, whether it be fruits and vegetables or household items, and frankly, I wasn't interested. I had to hand it to them this time around, though. He was nothing if not persistent, and I finally stepped outside to hear the message, which was clearly being broadcast by an individual who had honed his craft by watching reruns of old Peanuts episodes and emulating Charlie Brown's teacher. Well, I'll be damned! Nobody was trying to sell me anything. Quite the opposite, in fact. They'd come to collect something. They'd come to collect our gas masks. That's right, you heard me. These guys were here on official government business, asking citizens to please come outside with all gas mask kits in order to return them.

They'd left a notice in our stairwell last week, but I'd forgotten. We'd had them since the second Gulf war. I'd even opened mine to check things out, as per the instructions of the Home Front Command at the onset of the war. I carried it to work with me one day, following those same Home Front Command instructions. The Husband laughed at me and my gas mask kit, and once I reached the office, I understood why. The only other colleagues who had followed instructions were immigrants. The natives were blasé, and in my desire to "go native" (not to mention the desire to get the Husband to stop laughing), I immediately left my mask at home too. After all, I was determined to assimilate, and certainly wasn't going to let a small detail like the threat of chemical warheads get in my way...

The war came and went (at least the bits that were considered dangerous for Israel), and our gas masks were once again relegated to their spot at the back of the top shelf, left to gather dust until the next threat of war would require us to take them down again. As luck would have it, we did have another war, but fortunately, the missiles being fired in our direction weren't chemical-tipped, so instead of grabbing my gas mask (which was still at the top of the guestroom closet) as I ran to our safety room when the sirens went off (an infrequent occurrence in our area), I grabbed a glass of white wine, and found it to be equally, if not more effective than my gas mask.
I didn't give our masks another thought until yesterday, when the guy from Manpower (yep, you heard correctly – the government outsourced the gas mask collection) snapped me out of my reverie and sent me scurrying for a ladder, as no chair in the house would have allowed me to reach the top shelf in our closet. As sounds of the megaphone drew closer, I dug around, dodging falling playing cards and ankle weights as I perched on the ladder's top rung, plucking two dusty gas mask kits from the murky depths.

After returning the ladder to the porch (with the Little One so engrossed in "Dora the Explorer" that he hadn't even noticed when I'd walked past him with it the first time), I left my little couch-potato-in-training and scampered off with the kits, finding the collector downstairs dealing with one set of neighbors as a motley assortment of others made their way over with identical boxes. As we each patiently waited for our turn, we exchanged stories about the lengths we'd gone to in order to find our masks. Houses torn apart seemed to be a recurring theme, and one neighbor mentioned how relieved she'd been to have a child in the house small enough to fit into the attic crawl space and retrieve the family's masks.

As I ran back up the stairs, my mind replayed the afternoon's main event, and I couldn't imagine it happening anywhere else but here. After sixteen years spent honing my jaded cynicism and trying to become more native than the natives, I was having an "only in Israel" moment. Good grief. If I start peppering my English with Hebrew words spoken with an American accent more than I pepper my Hebrew with English words spoken with an Israeli accent, then we'll know that I'm truly "een da sheet".

Sunday, September 16, 2007

80s Music Video Sunday #38

We took a lot of family vacations while my brother and I were growing up. Sometimes, these getaways were relatively close to home (such as the one at Golden Acres Farm and Ranch, where my parents received special permission for me to join the hotel day camp's boys group instead of the girls group because the boys did fun stuff like dodge ball while the girls group took nature walks to pick flowers, and I was too much of a tomboy to do girly stuff), but other trips took us to far-flung Caribbean islands like Curacao and Saint Martin. The best vacations of all though, were the Caribbean cruises we took as teenagers.

Cruises are the perfect family vacation, as you don't actually have to spend all your time with your family. My parents would wake us up as they were leaving for breakfast, and then we might spot them around the ship during the course of the day. The only meal we shared as a family was dinner, prior to which, we would all squeeze around each other in our miniscule cabin, lining up to use the tiny bathroom and fight over mirror space in order to get ready. After dinner, my brother and I would once again take leave of our parents and run off to find the friends we'd made, usually heading off to the ship's disco for the rest of the evening, and eventually wandering over to the midnight buffet.

While I certainly enjoyed the various ports of call we visited along the way, the best times were to be had on-board. While memories of the first cruise we took are sketchy, I still have fond memories of the second cruise – taken when I was 17. Our group of new friends included Mexicans, Canadians and Brits, as well as an assortment of Americans. Days on-board were spent together, as well as our one-day docking on the cruise line's private island. As I mentioned above, evenings were spent in the disco, where I did my best to catch the eye of one of our young British acquaintances. To this day, I still don't know whether or not I succeeded (I was far too innocent and naive, and needless to say, utterly clueless about things like sending signals and making passes), but David and I remained friends, and managed to keep in touch quite regularly for approximately ten years after that vacation took place, meeting up once in NYC and again in London – no small feat given that this was the pre-email era and my snail mailing skills were questionable at best. We kept in touch during my gap year in Israel (he had spent a year in Israel as well before we met), throughout my years in Boston and during my initial years back in Israel. We exchanged camp stories while I worked at a Jewish camp in NY and he worked at a Jewish camp in Michigan, and we exchanged Israel stories for the duration of our correspondence. The last time I heard from him (at some point after I got married, as I recall), he was very happily living and working in Sydney, Australia, and had married a woman of Dutch-Lebanese descent. Somewhere, I still have all the old letters he sent (as well as nearly all the letters that anyone has ever sent me, including some real winners from a certain friend who reads and comments on this blog quite regularly), and I can even still remember his parents' address in London (I have a bizarre memory for random tidbits of information and trivia).

For some reason, there's one song that I always associate with those nights in the ship's disco. It was probably played at least once every evening, and whenever I hear it, I'm transported back in time, back to that disco. Who'd have guessed that "Tarzan Boy", by one-hit wonder Baltimora would be the song to evoke these memories of good times with "vacation" friends? Certainly not me, but given that it was the 80s, I suppose anything is possible...

Tarzan Boy

Jungle life
I'm far away from nowhere
On my own like Tarzan Boy
Hide and seek
I play along while rushing cross the forest
Monkey business on a sunny afternoon
Jungle life
I'm living in the open
Native beat that carries on
Burning bright
A fire the blows the signal to the sky
I sit and wonder does the message get to you

Night to night
Gimme the other, gimme the other
chance tonight
Gimme the other, gimme the other
Night to night
Gimme the other, gimme the other world

Jungle life
You're far away from nothing
It's all right
You won't miss home
Take a chance
Leave everything behind you
Come and join me
Won't be sorry
It's easy to survive

Jungle life
We're living in the open
All alone like Tarzan Boy
Hide and seek
We play along while rushing cross the forest
Monkey business on a sunny afternoon

Night to night
Gimme the other, gimme the other
Chance tonight
Oh Yeah
Night to night
Gimme the other, gimme the other
Night to night
You won't play
Night to night
Gimme the other, gimme the other
Chance tonight
Oh Yeah
Night to night
Night to night
Gimme the other, gimme the other