Sunday, January 28, 2007

Old posts with new labels

This is a public service announcement.

Switching to the new version of Blogger has allowed me to label all of my posts, and I am in the process of labeling all old posts. However, it seems that with each administrative update, all RSS readers are picking up the feeds as new posts, even though the posts themselves haven't changed - only the labels are new. Until this process is complete (and it is very tedious and time-consuming), please note the date of the post at the top of each entry to verify that it's a new post and not one of the old posts with the new labels.

Thanks for your patience. Hopefully (but doubtfully), I'll get the labeling done fairly quickly.

80s Music Video Sunday #8

I've always found it interesting how some musicians can be so popular in Europe, yet remain almost unheard of in the US (and vice versa, I would imagine). I'm not referring to musicians who don't perform in English (and whose chances of succeeding in the US without singing in English are virtually nil), but rather those who do sing in English and are filling stadiums throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, etc, yet for some reason are unable to crack the American market (Robbie Williams comes to mind, though for the life of me, I can't understand why he hasn't made it in the US – face it, the man can sing and dance, and is rather easy on the eyes to boot).

And so it was, only three-and-a-half years ago, that I discovered one of Britain's more popular 80s bands, which, as far as I know, never made it big in the US. Husband and I (in our "pre-Little One" days) were in Europe for about a week. Aside from a weekend spent in Norway, the trip was primarily for business purposes, with one day spent in Holland and several days spent meeting business contacts around England. We rented a car to reach all of our far-flung meeting points, and got to see quite a bit of the beautiful English countryside, as well as a number of charming cities, villages and off-the-beaten-path attractions. We spent a lot of time in that little Ford Focus of ours, and the radio was always on. It was during one of the seemingly endless drives from point A to a distant point B when a certain song came on. And I was hooked. The song was by a band called The Housemartins, and even though the song was a cover, it was, simply put, amazing. I loved their voices, I loved their style. I had to have more.

We returned to Israel, and I got my hands on every song by The Housemartins that I could find. My pal Anglosaxy, ever the helpful Brit, introduced me to Beautiful South, the band formed by several members of the Housemartins, and their music became part of my growing repertoire as well. My favorite Housemartins song would have to be The Light is Always Green. For today's 80s Music Video Sunday, however, I've decided to go with the song that brought about my ongoing love affair with this incredibly talented group, since it's not only a beautiful song, but it also serves as a wake-up call regarding the current depressing status of the world we find ourselves living in, I think. A "make love not war" sentiment from my inner hippie chick, so to speak (thanks for reminding me, Maryam). Enjoy!

Caravan of Love
The Housemartins (original lyrics by Ernie Isley, Chris Jasper and Marvin Isley)

Are you ready
Are you ready
Are you ready
Are you ready
Are you ready for the time of your life
It's time to stand up and fight
Hand in hand we'll take a caravan to the marvel land
One by one we're gonna stand up with pride
One that can't be denied
Stand up
Stand up
From the highest mountain valley low
We'll join together with hearts of gold
Now the children of the world can see
This is a better place for us to be
The place in which we were born
So neglected and torn apart

Every woman every man
Join the caravan of love
(Stand up) stand up
Stand up
Every body take a stand
Join the caravan of love
(Stand up) stand up
Stand up
I'm your brother
I'm your brother don't you know
She's my sister
She's my sister don't you know

We'll be living in a world of peace
And the day when everyone is free
Bring the young and the old
Won't you let your love flow from your heart

Every woman every man
Join the caravan of love
(Stand up) stand up
Stand up
Every body take a stand
Join the caravan of love
(Stand up) stand up
Stand up

I'm your brother
I'm your brother don't you know
She's my sister
She's my sister don't you know

So are you ready (he's coming)
Are you ready (he's coming)
Are you ready (he's coming)
Are you ready (he's coming on the caravan)
You better get ready (go for it)
You better get ready (go for it)
You better get ready (go for it)
You better get ready

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Open Sesame

Fortunately for me, my early childhood took place before big purple dinosaurs roamed the earth. My brother and I grew up on a diet of Mr. Rogers, the Electric Company, and Captain Kangaroo, among others. The unquestionable king of this genre was, of course, Sesame Street, where we learned our numbers in English and Spanish, we became intimately acquainted with the alphabet ("the sponsor of today's show is the letter 'L...'"), and discovered that people from different races, large birds, invisible elephants, and happily unkempt inhabitants of garbage cans could come together in harmonious diversity, teaching children that our differences should be embraced and celebrated. To this day, I have fond memories of Sesame Street, and admit that I felt a flutter in my heart upon seeing the Sesame Street display at the New York State Museum during our visit to the US last summer, containing sections of the original set, as well as explanations about the show's various rites of passage.

I tried to get the Little One interested in the current American version of Sesame Street when we were in the US, but he greatly preferred the numerous other shows being broadcast on PBS Kids and the Disney Channel. We do, however, have a few Sesame Street videos that we brought back with us, and he enjoys watching Baby Bear learn the alphabet (which includes the classic song shown below) and Ernie teaching the others how to count. It's not quite the same, though, and he'd much rather focus his attention elsewhere.

Therefore, you can imagine my joy at discovering that the Israeli version of this classic is now being broadcast on our local children's channel, not to mention my delight in seeing my son fall in love with this current local version just as I did more than thirty years ago. Rehov Sumsum (pronounced "soom-soom"), has captured my heart just as much as it has captured the heart of the Little One, and we snuggle together on the couch as we watch the antics of Arik and Bentz (the Hebraicized names given to Ernie and Bert) taken from the original American show, as well as the characters created especially for the Israeli version. They have continued with the tradition of diversity by including characters who are native-born Jews, native-born Arabs, and immigrants. Our favorite character is a trendy little muppet of Arab descent named Mahboob, who speaks mostly in Hebrew, but counts in Arabic and often teaches the others about different aspects of his culture.

I want my son to love his country and to be proud of his identity, and I also want him to understand and embrace the concept of diversity. I want him to realize that exposure to different cultures provides an opportunity to learn, whether it be the exotic cultures of distant lands or different cultures existing in Israel and the US. I want him to know that he has neighbors whose holidays are different from his own, and whose cultures are just as rich and beautiful as the one in which he is being brought up. Most of all, I want him to accept these people and their differences, and to know that different does not mean bad. And if it is spiky-haired, bespectacled Mahboob who teaches him such things, then so much the better. I know that life is not Sesame Street and Sesame Street is not real, but the lessons it offers my son are the lessons he will carry with him for a lifetime, just as the original Sesame Street did for his mother.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Moderating comments

Just a quick post to let you know that I've had to enable comment moderation. I'm hoping that this will be a temporary measure, so please bear with me for the time being.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

80s Music Video Sunday #7

I'm still a bit sick and not feeling terribly creative, but it is Sunday, so 80s Music Video Sunday must be dealt with. I had a request from fellow blogger RR (and we are still in the process of establishing whether or not she and I are actually the same person, given the remarkable similarities in our personalities, tastes, etc…) for something American (or perhaps she was simply wondering when I would showcase something from the old country), so today's entry features a performer who, in my mind is about as American as they come. It actually came down to two performers who fit into this category, both of whom, I really, really enjoy. I've selected one of them, but the other one will surely be chosen at some point, as his songs are about as classic American rock and roll as they come...

I've always been an avid reader, which meant that a great deal of my youth was spent at our local public library. In addition to the wonderful selection of books, they also had a fabulous music collection, and it was from there that I borrowed my first Billy Joel album – Glass Houses, if memory serves me correctly. Like most of his albums, Glass Houses contained a number of hit songs, including "Just the Way You Are", "Honesty", and "You May Be Right". My absolute favorite song from that album, which was released in 1980, is the song that I've chosen for today. I can remember listening to it over and over again on the record player, repeatedly borrowing that album from the library. If you haven't guessed it by now, the classic hit I'm referring to is "It's Still Rock & Roll to Me". Enjoy!

It's Still Rock & Roll to Me
Billy Joel
(Lyrics courtesy of

What's the matter with the clothes I'm wearing?
"Can't you tell that your tie's too wide?"
Maybe I should buy some old tab collars?
"Welcome back to the age of jive
Where have you been hidin' out lately, honey?
You can't dress trashy till you spend a lot of money"
Everybody's talkin' 'bout the new sound
Funny, but it's still rock and roll to me

What's the matter with the car I'm driving?
"Can't you tell that it's out of style?"
Should I get a set of white wall tires?
"Are you gonna cruise a miracle mile?
Nowadays you can't be too sentimental
You best bet's a true baby blue Continental"
Hot funk, cool punk, even if it's old junk
It's still rock and roll to me

Oh, it doesn't matter what they say in the papers
'Cause it's always been the same old scene
There's a new band in town
But you can't get the sound from a story in a magazine...
Aimed at your average teen

How about a pair of pink sidewinders
And a bright orange pair of pants?
"You could really be a Beau Brummel baby
If you just give it half a chance
Don't waste your money on a new set of speakers
You get more mileage from a cheap pair of sneakers"
Next phase, new wave , dance craze, anyways
It's still rock and roll to me

What's the matter with the crowd I'm seeing?
"Don't you know that their out of touch?"
Should I try to be a straight 'A' student?
"If you are then you think too much
Don't you know about the new fashion honey?
All you need are looks and a whole lotta money"
It's the next phase, new wave , dance craze, anyways
It's still rock and roll to me
Everybody's talkin' 'bout the new sound
Funny, but it's still rock and roll to me

Friday, January 19, 2007

Be careful what you wish for...

The other day, I got an SMS from NRG, telling me that was feeling utterly miserable, having gotten sick during her trip with all sorts of ailments that have no place interrupting one's vacation. She was missing out and feeling bad, and I responded my telling her that I wished that I was the one who was sick instead of her. Clearly, I should have been more careful in my wishing, as I've now got a nasty cold (which wasn't even on the radar when I responded to her text) and thanks to antibiotics, she's started to feel a bit better.

What started Wednesday night with a mild sore throat, has progressed nicely into stuffy, runny nose, coughing and overall achiness, and I can't even begin to tell you how much fun it was as my ears were popping on the ride up to Jerusalem yesterday and on the ride back down to Tel Aviv. They still don't feel quite right, and I keep swallowing and yawning in hopes of a grand pop, which unfortunately hasn't happened yet. I'm secretly hoping that despite the pain and discomfort, I've got the same flu strain that the Husband had a few weeks ago, as he managed to lose five kilos...

Anyway, I really want to get back to my couch and my BBC Prime, but I just had to take a moment to send you to check out a brand new site that I'm really excited to be a part of - Expat Women. The site is "designed to help all expatriate women living outside of their home country". Not only am I one of the mentors representing the Middle East (and the only one from Israel), but our favorite American expat living in Ireland is one the the mentors representing Europe, as are some other friends of mine.

So, take a few moments to visit Expat Women, and if you like what you see (and I really think you will), be sure to spread the word to others.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Of sardines and Israelis...

Welcome to my morning commute, which is taking place about 20 minutes later than usual. I just couldn't be bothered to rush this morning, so I took a bit of extra time and decided to catch the later train. Being the first one at my stop to get on, finding a seat wasn't difficult. Unfortunately, I chose the wrong one, and by the time I realized it, it was too late to do anything. I grabbed the first seat I saw, and have spent the duration of the ride so far half sitting on the purse of the woman next to me, as she's clearly not too into being respectful of those around her, and has kept it in the space between us, where there really isn't any space at all. I'm in a rather bad mood to begin with this morning (I even had a dream last night that I was depressed, which doesn't really help when you're trying to kick-start your day), and my mood is growing blacker by the moment, as I imagine the form my revenge might take, from running fingernails (damn – too short! Hmmm, apparently not...) or keys across her leather bag to the vicious parting sentence when getting off the train. No amount of pushing on the bag seems to help, as the woman is apparently that clueless (and a rather bad dresser to boot). Oh, and did I mention that her husband inadvertently stepped on my foot after he got up? We made eye contact, and he must have noticed that I was shooting bullets out of my eyes, because I actually got an apology.

Personal space and privacy in Israel is a non-concept. Among Israelis, it just doesn't exist. You could be sitting in an almost empty movie theater, and the next patron to come in will undoubtedly come and sit right next to you. Not two or three seats down, but in the one next to yours, forcing you to move your coat and leaving you jostling for armrest space. The same goes for buses, trains, and so on. I spent one morning train ride last week standing by the door, packed in like a sardine, because the train had been so late that people who'd arrived early for the next train were able to get on as well, and when I tell you that it was a nightmare, you can safely assume that nightmare would be an understatement. Sardines probably have it better – they probably have more space in the can and they get to lay down, and given that they're also no longer living, they're probably not getting progressively more and more angry over the fact that they can't even move their hands (fins?) enough to hold their newspapers in a readable position. Nor do they have to worry about the any of the other sardines making endless personal or work-related calls on their cell phones, or having their feet stepped on by other sardines who seem not to realize that the lump under their foot is actually someone else's foot.

But I digress. Clearly I'm having a few issues these days, so please forgive the rather convoluted and incredibly bizarre sardine analogy. Where was I? Oh yes – personal space. I am not a touchy-feely person (while pregnant with the Little One, I freaked out whenever anyone besides my husband reached over to touch my stomach as though it had suddenly become public property), and tend to get a bit crazy whenever my personal space is invaded – an event that happens with a mind-boggling degree of regularity in these parts. It seems to be especially prevalent whenever public transport is involved, whether one is actually in transit or merely in an environment that lends itself to "transportational" pursuits, such as a train station. People have no qualms about standing right next to you (likethisclose), despite the vast quantities of open platform to be found, or those folks who bump into you while walking, even though you're standing still, because they can't be bothered to actually go around you, as they assume that you will move out of their way. I could go on and on, but I believe I covered these aspects of train commuting eons ago when I wrote this post.

In response to this utterly maddening phenomenon, I've been perfecting my evil glare, and in some instances, it even works. Private person that I am, though, I usually don't go farther than the glare, and tend to go the route of inner seething, hoping that the glare will get the point across without me actually having to open my mouth. Or, I do what I did this morning, whipping out the laptop on the train (instead of the Hadassah Magazine that I'd planned to read) and begin typing furiously, hoping that my seat usurper would read over my shoulder (another charming trait that is frighteningly prevalent here) and be shamed into moving her bag. Alas, it was not to be, but if nothing else, it provided me with decent blog fodder, which is, of course, always welcome.

Tomorrow morning, I'm off to Jerusalem for the day, relying on multiple forms of public transport to reach my destination at the ungodly hour of 9 am (ungodly only because it forces me to leave the house before 6 am). I can hardly wait to see what this journey's going to bring...

Sunday, January 14, 2007

80s Music Video Sunday #6

Two things stand out with regard to my wedding (aside from the obvious fact that it was, in fact my. wedding.). One would be the horse that neighed rather loudly during a pause in the outdoor ceremony (which, strangely enough, we didn't hear, and couldn't understand why everyone was laughing all of a sudden), and the other would be the fact that less than two months before the wedding, we discovered that Peter Gabriel's multi-stage world music concert would be taking place by the amphitheater next to where the wedding was being held and that the sound checks were to be held at the same time as our outdoor ceremony, causing us to call all of our guests and let them know that the ceremony was being pushed up by an hour in order to avoid conflict with the sound checks. Aside from one other minor blip, when one of the waitresses during the cocktail hour was heard to be telling guests that she thought what was on her tray was ham (it wasn't, for as the non-Jewish NRG pointed out to her that all the food was Kosher, so chances were excellent that she was not wandering amongst the guests with a tray of ham), the remainder of the wedding went off without a hitch.

A number of our guests (including the rabbi) jokingly felt the need to tell us that they were really torn, and couldn't decide between our wedding reception and the WOMAD concert, and frankly, I couldn't blame them. Aside from Peter Gabriel and a whole slew of other marvelous acts, there was to be a performance by one of my favorite bands from the late 80s – Crowded House. I fell hard for their sound at the beginning of my freshman year, and even managed to rope one of my new friends into bussing out to the boonies with me to attend one of their concerts, which, as I recall, was absolutely amazing. (If any former members of Crowded House are reading this, please note that I turned down a U2 concert that was happening that same night much closer to home, such was my love for y'all.) Attempts were even made to try to get them to pop over to the wedding, but they were unsuccessful.

What made me think of Crowded House for today's 80s Music Video Sunday entry? Well, it's probably because I should be in New Zealand right now, where Crowded House originated. NRG spent the weekend flying out there from Norway (I received SMS reports from all stops along the way), and friend and infrequent commenter Mary from Wisconsin and her sister made their way from the US late last week. And what was it, exactly, that was bringing them halfway around the world? Nothing short of a wedding – the wedding of friend and infrequent commenter Finspadre to other friend Finsmadre. While I'll spare you some of the more personal details, I will give you a bit of background information. While in high school, NRG, Mary from Wisconsin and Finspadre became fast friends as foreign exchange students in Honduras. Contact was maintained afterwards, and when Finspadre and Finsmadre moved to London, contact with NRG and family became even more frequent. NRG and I were also very much in contact via email, chats, etc, and at some point, she began including me in group emails with the others, and despite the fact that I haven't actually met any of them (aside from NRG), we are all friends, as we've emailing and texting for several years now. Along with the others, we were invited to join their wedding celebrations in New Zealand. Unfortunately, we couldn't make it (though eternal thanks to Finspadre for periodically sending me information about possible flight routes from Tel Aviv), but even though I can't be with them in person, I can be there in spirit, which is why this week's 80s Music Video Sunday is dedicated to the gang battling vicious jetlag as they sightsee their way across New Zealand.

My absolute favorite Crowded House song is "Don't Dream it's Over", but since I am dedicating this week's entry to friends celebrating a wedding, you'll forgive me for thinking that song doesn't quite set the tone I'm looking for. Fortunately, these guys have produced a slew of amazing songs, and choosing one to feature here was only a matter of deciding which one seemed most appropriate for the occasion.

So, in honor of the wedding of Finspadre and Finsmadre and the gang who traveled halfway around the world to help them celebrate, I've chosen "Something So Strong", because in my mind it most symbolizes these incredible friendships that have endured for so long, despite the distances and the passing of time (and ties in rather nicely with the whole New Zealand theme).

Something So Strong
by N. Finn & M. Froom
(courtesy of Lyrics Expert)

Love can make you weep
Can make you run for cover
Roots that spread so deep
Bring life to frozen ground

Something so strong
Could carry us away
Something so strong
Could carry us today

Turning in my sleep
Love can leave you cold
Taste of jealousy
Is like a lust for gold

Something so strong
Could carry us away
Something so strong
Could carry us today

I've been feeling so much older
Frame me and hang me on the wall
I've seen you fall into the same trap
This thing is happening to us all

Something so strong
Could carry us away
Something so strong
Could carry us today

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I am not a radical

Over latte in Ramat Gan with one of my favorite local bloggers this week, I came to the conclusion that the Arab-Israeli conflict is similar to the abortion issue, in that those who fervently believe they are on the side of God simply cannot accept the validity of the beliefs of those who are on the other side, and feel the need to portray the "Godless" individuals in the most negative way possible. Consider the terminology. When the anti-abortion camp defines itself as being "pro-life", it broadcasts to the rest of the world the implication that those in the pro-abortion camp must be "anti-life", when this is clearly not the case. Being in favor of a woman's right to make her own decisions regarding her body does not make me anti-life any more than being in favor of a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians makes me anti-Israel.

There are many who would have you believe otherwise, would have you believe that my ilk and I are the greatest threat to Israel's existence as a sovereign state. We are called "stupid", "ignorant" and "naive", to name but a few of the terms often used against us, or we are gently reprimanded for "not understanding" the situation at hand, as though our beliefs reflect a lack of knowledge and experience rather than having opted for a different path. The name-calling and bullying tactics are pathetic, a reflection of the insecurities felt by some with regard to their own identities. Otherwise, why would they feel the need to resort to such childish antics when faced with an opinion with which they don't agree? As I've mentioned on other occasions (and if I haven't, I should have), I am always shocked by the degree of petty viciousness with which those of us who are opposed to the occupation and in favor of a just, two-state solution are regularly attacked, whether it be a full-on attack in any one of a variety of forums, or through periodic, thinly veiled barbs that may seem innocuous to others, but obvious to us.

As for the desire to convince us that if we only knew better, we'd surely see the light, well, suffice it to say that I find this scenario far more troubling, as I refuse to be treated as a child who thoughts and ideas are deemed inconsequential by those who claim to know better. Making the situation even more absurd is that many of the more critical individuals do not even live in Israel (or do not have any direct ties to the country), popping up to throw in their passionate two cents before returning to their own lives, with either little or no actual comprehension of the intricate facts on the ground. Ironically, these same people who judge from abroad, claiming to know what is happening in my own backyard far better than I, make the irrational assumption that because I am in Israel, I have no concept of what is "really" going on in the rest of the world, or how the rest of the world views Israel, as though I do not have the very same access to global media as they do. We are keenly aware of what the world thinks of us, and more in touch with reality than you could possibly imagine, though perhaps it is not the reality of life in Israel and the Middle East that you choose to accept.

I am inclined to make another abortion comparison, as I watch people with no direct, vested interest in the situation (those living abroad) attempt to dictate the rules of the game for those of us whose lives will be directly affected by the outcome, often (though not always) invoking God and religion (as in "God promised this land to the Jews", and other such sentiments that are simply unrealistic in light of the fact that such an argument will not cause the Palestinians to pick up and leave en masse) to justify their need to be involved in matters that do not concern them. I am awed by the strident, almost militant, tones, the manner dismissive of all opinions that differ from their own, and the attempts to belittle and invalidate those who proffer such opinions, as though the opinions of those individuals directly affected by such decisions are irrelevant. Opposition to my life choices should not be anyone's cause celebre. Several of those on the right (though certainly not all) who live here are not much better, though obviously, the abortion comparison doesn't work in this case, as they have just as much of a right to their opinions as I do to mine.

It is rather telling when people who fail to see the occupation and subjugation of an entire people as a bad thing are the ones who consider me to be the radical, anti-Israel, self-hating Jew, don't you think?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

They like me! They really like me!

Even though I don't always mean for it to happen, I seem to have a great talent for pissing people off. Of course, there are definitely times when I do mean it, but for the most part, it's not like I purposely write to annoy (though I do realize that certain subjects are just going to rub some people the wrong way no matter what I say, and to you all, I say, pthpthpth).

In any event, I've grown to expect the displeasure (not to mention the indifference), so I'm always very pleasantly surprised to discover that not only do I have readers who don't know me or otherwise have a vested interested in me, but that some of these readers even like me. And, even more surprising, they admit it publicly (clearly not realizing the debilitating effect this will have on their own credibility). I mean, imagine my surprise when I discovered that I'd received the following compliment over at Simply Jews:

"Liza of Something Something is a new discovery for me, but definitely something something. I have found her blog while rummaging for info on that Herzliya bash on Hasbara (a separate post on a related subject is brewing... oh well, for almost half an year now). This post gives you an idea of the capabilities. Wow."

The full article can be found here, and while I'm obviously biased, I'd say it's a terrific round-up of the female Jewish sector of the blogosphere. Very inclusive, and rather cheeky to boot. We like cheeky. Go on then. Check it out. I'll wait...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Have a bloggy day

Hey everyone. Nominations are open for the Seventh Annual Weblog Awards. The 2007 Bloggies is your opportunity to recognize your favorite blogs, whether they be in any of the geographical categories, technical categories, or any one of a slew of other categories. Nominations for all categories are being accepted until 10:00 PM Eastern Standard Time (GMT-5) on Wednesday, January 10th.

Read the rules and give it a go. I've gone and nominated all my faves. Some of my nominations more popular than others, but all very deserving of recognition. Note that you can also nominate the same blog for multiple categories, for example, you can nominate this blog for "Best African or Middle Eastern Weblog", "Best Weblog About Politics", and "Best Writing of a Weblog", just to name a few...

Sunday, January 07, 2007

80s Music Video Sunday #5

I am a sleep-away camp survivor graduate. I loved going away to camp. I can still remember my first day, feeling rather uncertain, not really knowing anyone and standing off to the side while joyous reunions took place all around me. Well, the summer passed by in a blur of sports, Zionism, song, and high-jinks, and in subsequent years, I had more than my fair share of joyous reunions on the first day of the session.

One of the best things about camp was the people. Being that it was the national summer camp for our youth organization, we had campers from across the US, as well as an astounding number of Puerto Ricans, Israelis, and the occasional European. During these magical summers, I made some amazing friends, developed my love for Israel, and learned a great deal about life. Most of all, I learned a great deal about music. It was there that I first heard the Grateful Dead, and it was there that I learned the words to most popular Israeli songs from the 60s, 70s and 80s. The summer of 1986 (when I wasn't actually a camper, but a member of the service staff) is particularly memorable, as that was the summer when I learned about Squeeze. I'd never heard them before, but shit was I hooked. We must have listened to Singles, 45s and Under about a million times, over and over again. I couldn't believe they'd been around for years without my ever having heard them, and now I was making up for lost time. I left camp that summer with my tape-to-tape recording of Singles..., and never looked back. It came with me to Israel that fall, and somehow managed to survive my college years in Boston. I even managed to get to one of their concerts, and it was, without a doubt, one of the best concerts I've ever attended.

So, in case you haven't guessed it yet, today's entry for 80s Music Video Sunday is going to be by Squeeze, one of my all-time favorite bands. I've been wracking my brain trying to figure out which song to pick, and believe me, it hasn't been easy! Some (such as anything off the Cool for Cats album) were eliminated simply because they were actually released in the late 70s, rendering them automatically ineligible. And while I love Pulling Mussels (from the Shell), the only video clip I found wasn't very high quality, so I've reluctantly knocked that one out of the running as well. A number of the other songs I considered were not to be found anywhere on YouTube, It all came down to two. It was a tough decision, and tempted as I was to go with Black Coffee in Bed, in the end I went another way.


I bought a toothbrush, some toothpaste
A flannel for my face
Pyjamas, a hairbrush
New shoes and a case
I said to my reflection
Let's get out of this place

Past the church and the steeple
The laundry on the hill
Billboards and the buildings
Memories of it still
Keep calling and calling
But forget it all
I know I will

Tempted by the fruit of another
Tempted but the truth is discovered
What's been going on
Now that you have gone
There's no other
Tempted by the fruit of another
Tempted but the truth is discovered

I'm at the car park, the airport
The baggage carousel
The people keep on crowding
I'm wishing I was well
I said it's no occasion
It's no story I could tell

At my bedside empty pocket
A foot without a sock
Your body gets much closer
I fumble for the clock
Alarmed by the seduction
I wish that it would stop

I bought a novel, some perfume
A fortune all for you
But it's not my conscience
That hates to be untrue
I asked of my reflection
Tell me what is there to do

Friday, January 05, 2007

Don Does Denial

Whenever I've debated the necessity of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine issue, one of the points I've consistently made is that we cannot address the situation solely on the basis of historical claims and grievances, for example, whether the Jews have always had a presence on the ground here, or whether there is actually such an entity as the Palestinian people. I happen to agree with both the former and the latter, but sadly, there are many people who attempt to reach a solution of the current issues simply by denying the right, even the very existence of the other group and their claims. In order to move forward, we must address the issues as they stand today. Neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis are going anywhere. We're all here to stay, and we all have a valid right to be here. Denial will get us nowhere.

Don has written a brilliant assessment of the issue of denial and the toll it's taking on our region in a variety of ways. I'd strongly recommend taking a look.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Odds and Ends...

I've been profiled! Beth, everyone's favorite mistress of Shenanigans, has written an article for Wow! Women on Writing about how to create your own workspace, and I was one of her interviewees (how cool is that!).

And, if that weren't enough, after spotting some of my articles on Brio, I was contacted by Sarah over at Bringing Up Baby Bilingual, which resulted in some of my blog excerpts being posted over there as well. I've also filled out a profile questionnaire for her as well, but given that it took me so long to get it back to her, I'm not sure if she'll be able to do anything with the info.

Let me tell you - given all the excitement over here during the past few weeks, it's nice to be singled out for something other than political rants and name calling...


I met up with a friend for coffee recently. She was in Israel for a week visiting family, and we hadn't seen each other in four years. We met in a mall near her cousins' home, and when it came time to go, we made our way to the main entrance. We stood next to the security guard, chatting in English while waiting for my taxi to arrive, trying to figure out whether or not she would be able to get back to Jerusalem that evening, given that it had begun to snow in the capital a few hours earlier (she didn't and they ended up spending the night in Tel Aviv). The security guard was apparently eavesdropping, and decided to try to join the conversation AND show off his English, which proved a bad move on his part.

"You are going to Jerusalem?" he asked (in English).

I replied in Hebrew. "No. My friend is going to Jerusalem. I am going back to my home up north."

He persisted in English, despite hearing my fluent, barely accented Hebrew. "Oh, you live here? I thought you were a terrorist [sic]."

I laughed. I couldn't help it. "Neither terrorist nor tourist," I replied.

And that, needless to say, was the end of his foray into the world of English speaking tourists (and terrorists).

We do need education, but how do we get it?

The Little One is only two-and-a-half, and we are already concerned about where he will go to school. Rumor has it that our local elementary school is okay, though not fabulous, and our local high school doesn't have the best reputation, to say the least. Admittedly, my experience with the Israeli school system is limited to the grumblings of my friends, and while some schools are obviously better than others, I cannot help but compare the whole educational experience here to my own experiences growing up in Upstate New York, where our local school system was recognized nationally for its excellence. I have fond memories of the many hours spent in school libraries, reading book after book and learning to use the computer, which, in the 70s, was a rather different experience from using the computers of today. I remember being able to take the computer home over the weekend, using a small television as a screen and having to place the phone receiver in some rather space age-looking equipment in order to dial into our school system's local network so that I could chat with other students and play endless games of Dungeons and Dragons and other adventure games, as well as fool around with Eliza, the program that made you feel as though you were in a therapy session as it threw out a variety of psychological questions and responses.

I remember the joys (and sorrows!) of gym class, climbing the ropes, playing floor hockey, and learning to do all sorts of marvelous tricks with a basketball. They were good days. We were sheltered and we were happy (and I'm sure I must be blocking a lot out here), and I worry that I won't be able to provide the same kind of experiences for my son, as he enters a very different school system in very different times. I realize that we were very fortunate to grow up in such an area, with schools that were lacking for nothing (at least nothing that we students felt). Our elementary school even had a small greenhouse, whose walls were inevitably always lined with topless, half-pint milk cartons saved from endless lunches in the school cafeteria, and filled with soil, seeds and small plants, all waiting to be brought home to proud parents. We had music classes and musical instrument lessons, we put on plays and joined the chorus (obviously before I realized that my singing voice has the potential to bring entire nations to their collective knees in pain).

During a recent trip to the US, I had the pleasure of taking my son to the playground at my old elementary school. The playground is outstanding, with swings, slides, and bridges, places to climb and places to hide. Even I had fun as my son and I chased each other all around and up and down, sliding together and running together. The greenhouse is still there, and everything was exactly as I'd remembered it, aside from the fact that I hadn't realized that it was all so small! I looked around me, and I looked at my son, wondering if I was denying him the wonderful opportunities that I'd been given. While many of the newer schools in Israel seem to have a lot to offer, I have yet to see an Israeli elementary school that compares to my own. I worry about the violence in the schools, and I worry about him being robbed of his sweetness. I worry that he won't be challenged academically, and I worry that once the mandatory English lessons begin, the fact that he is more or less a native speaker will not be taken into consideration, and he will not be able to realize his full potential (some schools with a high concentration of native English speaking children offer special English classes for these children, but I don't know if our school is one of them). As one who did not grow up in this culture, I feel that I'm at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to navigating the ins and outs of the Israeli school system, and that I will not be able to obtain the best for my child, simply because I don't know the ropes. It is a rather daunting prospect, made all the more so because I know that any mistakes I make will affect the Little One. We've heard that schools in some of the surrounding towns are better than ours, and there are also a number of alternative types of schools that we are also considering, as we try to figure out how best to play the game and get the best education possible for our son, one which will hopefully allow him to use his bilingualism/multiculturalism to his best advantage.

For now, though, we will continue to enjoy his toddler years, and do our best to ensure that he is as well-rounded and as aware of his background as possible. I must be doing a good job, as only this morning I was told, "Mommy, you rock the house."

* This post cross-posted to Brio.