Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Good Month

 Various Facebook posts from the last month, newest first:
"Has the fafafel guy next door shut down? I ask our "spice guy" in the shuq this morning. "Just wondering."

"Oh, him?" he answers. "Nah, he's just late today. Probably was up last night saying Tikkun Hatzot for Shovavim. You know how it is."

He pauses for a beat, and then we both crack up amid Shabbat Shalom wishes.
In Shirat Devorah, which we read as this week's haftarah, she goes through a list of who did and who didn't help her in the battle. The list of shevatim is interesting in and of itself, but after them she goes further, talking about how the very "stars" fought on her side. And then she quotes an angel, saying, "Cursed is Meroz and cursed are its inhabitants, for they did not come to help Hashem."

There are a few interpretations of what exactly Meroz was- a town, maybe, or a star as well- the "inhabitants" in that case being its planets. But then there's a really interesting one: Meroz is not a star but a planet, and its "inhabitants" would thus be...the first and perhaps only mention of extraterrestrials in Tanach.
Sometimes it hits you. I was working on an Israeli legal document today and noticed that one of the filings listed thereon (yes, that's how lawyers talk) had been registered a few years back on January 1st. Yes, this country is open for business on January 1st. We have our own holidays, thank you very much. So happy I live here.
Confirmation of things I sort of knew already, part whatever:

A week or so ago there was a report of an ISIS court executing a woman who'd fought back against a rapist- from their group, of course, because that's what ISIS is all about. The comment made was that this puts the lie to Islamists' claim that they're all about protecting the "modesty" and "honor" of women, as if we didn't know that already.

The corner of Keren Kayement and Ussishkin is where relatively moderate Rechavia bumps up against relatively extreme Shaarei Hesed. The lad's gan is on the other side, so I pass it every morning. There's one of the municipal billboards there, with all the usual ads for events, lectures, concerts, etc. Every now and then, when there's a picture of a woman (even just a face, even the face of a religious woman with not a hair showing), it gets vandalized- the faces are torn off. I guess picayune actual rules about damaging other people's property aren't as important as what's "right."

For the last few days, the billboards have been advertising some new Hebrew play. I have no idea what the plot is about, but the poster shows some old dude front and center, with two other people in the background. One seems to be, ahem, a stereotypical practitioner of the world's oldest profession. Very short skirt, among other things.

Well, this morning, surprise surprise, the poster on the aforesaid corner was vandalized. But in an interesting way: The woman's head was gone. The legs...still very much present.

Yeah, it's supposedly all about "women's honor" and "tzniut" and "kol kevuda" and whatever. And, of course, protecting the eyes of the delicate bochrim. But really? I'm convinced that for many, it's just a lot of misogyny. Not to compare with our lovely neighbors to the north, of course, but the undercurrent is still there.
Efrat informs me that David Margulies, who played the mayor in both Ghostbusters movies, has passed away. He seems to have been a well-regarded hardworking actor of the "Hey! It's That Guy!" school. (You know, as in "Hey, it's that guy who was in...!") Also an MOT, of course. RIP.

His one scene in the first Ghostbusters (you know it, you love it: the one with "Dogs and cats living together!" as its climax) is a masterpiece of cinema. But that scene also encapsulates a theme that runs throughout the movie that is often ignored: The success of private enterprise conducted by ordinary shnooks as opposed to- and sometimes in opposition to- governmental bureaucratic incompetence, and, in extreme cases, the wisdom of local government as opposed to the heavy handedness of an overreaching federal behemoth (in this case the EPA). A fine conservative film.

Anyway, talk of a fictional New York mayor reminds me that I recently dug this bit off the internet. I remember seeing it when it first aired. It made the headlines of all the New York papers the next day, and was one of the first of a whole host of hilarious appearances by Giuliani (a man not known for his sense of humor) on Letterman and other New York shows. (SNL, etc.) Enjoy!
The newspaper tells us that England is considering making "Jerusalem" its national anthem. (It does strike my eye that this is being debated in the UK parliament, England not having one of its own. I also recall reading that the role was already filled by "Land of Hope and Glory," a.k.a. "Pomp and Circumstance," but apparently that's not official. And as Norman Davies pointed out, the word "land" in that song is completely generic.)

Well, it's a nice song, on a religious theme, and mentions my hometown, so it's all cool. I only now notice that its message somewhat echoes that of much of diaspora Orthodox Judaism, explicitly Chabad but more subtly pretty much everyone else. But that's being snide, so I apologize.

But one cannot have a geeky side, as I do, without "Jerusalem" bringing up certain...other associations. Like a department store sales staff standing in a tea chest while singing the song to one of their colleagues, who has a paper bag over his head. And other references from the Python boys. And since I'm a Trekkie above all, I am of course reminded of Chief O'Brien and Dr. Bashir, drunk as skunks, bellowing it horribly off-key. Enjoy:
This entire incident is sordid, right up to the One himself praising the Iran deal in his SOTU the very day this happened. Biden and Kerry are buffoons, of course, but you'd find their faces under the word "buffoon" in the dictionary, so what do you expect.

But what really grates is that, on this as on the previous occasion, the female captive (!) was forced into hijab. I guess I shouldn't expect more when Hillary and Merkel and all sorts of infobabes dress up like that when they meet the Supreme Leader, but...I can't help remembering that there's a famous British poem, "The Private of the Buffs," exalting the ordinary soldier who, refusing to kowtow to his Chinese captors, was executed. The world was different.
A gunman shot up a nightclub in Calgary- Calgary!- Saturday night. He and an accomplice were caught. A third is still on the loose.

If I told you it took a Calgary newspaper TWENTY FIVE PARAGRAPHS to mention their names, could you guess them without even looking?
B'Tselem must think we're really stupid. With their fire revealed to have been an electrical fault, they declared that they're "breathing easier" and will now work on cleaning up.

Do they really think we've already forgotten that less than twelve hours earlier they were obviously *desperate* to prove it had been arson, and clearly were *hoping* it was?

No, wait: They think we're even *stupider*. In a Facebook post responding to this Uvdah revelation, in which they are implicated, they actually stated that one of their members who reports Arabs who sell land to Jews to the PA authorities is taking the "only legitimate course of action". Unless I'm wildly misreading their use of the word "legitimate" (or it does not mean what they think it means), that's an incredible statement. Even if I *am* misreading, the best you can say is that they're somehow excusing without condemning, which is still awful.

The place they think we're stupid comes in the very next sentence, in the very same paragraph: "Obviously, B'Tselem is opposed to torture and executions." Obviously.* But let's not let that distract us from the simple fact that they most certainly condoned, or at least excused, such things one sentence earlier.

Let's be honest: 99.99% of Israelis (or even anti-Israel types) had never heard of Ezra Nawi or Taayush before this weekend. But B'Tselem...they're big. And they just exposed themselves for a bunch of murderous hypocrites.

*(That word always reminds of Jonathan Silver, one of my professors in law school, who said that as soon as you use a word ending in "-ly"- clearly, certainly, obviously- you've lost the argument.)
Our building's plumber was a guy named Ezra. He had a coworker named Samir. (Jew and Arab, respectively.) Ezra then retired and passed the business on to Samir and Ezra's nephew.

A while back, Efrat asked Samir how Ezra's retirement was going. He answered, "Oh, he's into Jewish-Arab coexistence and all that BS." We thought that was hilarious.

Over the last few hours Facebook and the Israeli media and political world has been buzzing about a report on Uvdah last night that exposed left-wing activists and organizations for being radical and extreme. One name kept popping up and I Googled it out of curiosity. As soon as I saw "Ezra" and "plumber" I yelled for Efrat. Sure enough, it's him. My God, he's got a crazy bio.This was our plumber, ladies and gents:
People have actually been thinking "Trump for President" for just under thirty years. I still remember the Doonesbury strips from 1987. Here's my favorite:
One of my favorite TV series of all time is "Monk". There was a good episode in which the title character- the "obsessive compulsive detective"- is unable to concentrate on the case he's supposed to be solving because San Francisco is suffering from a garbage strike, and the trash in the streets is simply too annoying to him.

The police find a hilarious solution by getting him to a chip manufacturing clean room in Silicon Valley, and of course everything turns out to be connected. He solves the crime, the strike is accordingly called off, and as soon as the trucks start rolling, he and his assistant are on the sidewalk, cheering on the sanitation workers and offering advice.

When the garbage trucks woke me up at 5:45 AM after a week's absence, I did not run outside to celebrate. It's too cold and I'm not *that* OCD. I said "yay" and rolled over. Yay.
Finally, we put on "Iolanthe" as 2015 turned into 2016. Here's a cast photo and a video of the Act I finale. In both, I'm on the far left.

No comments: