Friday, October 29, 2004

end of life delusions?

is it just me or did arafat's advisors know the end was nigh when he started asking for Big Ears and to be taken to the ToyTown hospital?

one blind mouse

my very annoying (computer) mouse has been going through a temperamental time so when i have had any energy or time to blog recently its put me off.


i know a bad workman blames his tools but i'm sure there must be a different rule for a workwoman and her animals (kind of)


Tuesday, October 19, 2004

fake awake

it was only going to be a matter of time before i wrote this post. its 3:40 am and i've woken up restless and my mind is buzzing. i'm awake but i dont feel properly alive....

yes folks, welcome to another bout of my irrepressible insomnia

as long as i can remember i've had problems sleeping.
-- age 8 disturbing my parent's dinner parties by coming downstairs repeatedly asking for a glass of water
-- being a child with exzema - sitting scratching on the floor in the doorway of my bedroom
-- stage whispering to friends staying over "are you awake yet?" until they were.
-- coaxing my light on a timeswitch to just come on already at 6:45am shabbat morning.

[maybe its genetic -- i dont think my father has ever slept later than 5am... except of course for shavuot tikun leil (all-night learning marathon) where nothing beats the rabbi's lectures for heavenly hypnotic powers]

i dont recall much about my sleeping patterns at university but since i started my working life sleeplessness is normally a sign that somethings up. worries, fears, ill ease, apprehension can all affect my body's ability to rest whether the feelings are renting space in my conscious or subconscious. (even happy events can take their toll... in the lead up to my sisters wedding when i was staying in a suite in a 5 star hotel i averaged at 4 hours sleep a night -- it took a good 2-3 days, a posh massage and my futon until i returned to regular sleep patterns)

its a viscious circle -- i'm unhappy/worried/concerned -- need all my energy to cope with the problem and then i cant sleep. (i normally wake up in the middle of the night rather than not fall asleep). after a night of insomnia i have no energy which puts me on a downer for the day -- makes me more worried/concerned/not happy and my mind buzzes even more. and while i cant sleep it doesnt mean i dont feel tired. theres nothing worse than facing a challenging day ahead with a subtle headache twinned with dull aching all over your body and eyelids that feel like they're being kept open by sky hooks.

nerves are also a major culprit in the no sleep crime. weeks before a performance when i need every ounce of energy to fuel my comic genius i find myself counting more sheep than punchlines.

occasionally its just a case of too much sleep the night before -- you'd think if i had too much sleep then as long as i sleep the required remainder the next night i'd feel fine in the morning but sadly this never balances out. no, it doesnt work like that -- there's no credit carry over and inevitably a miscalculation on shabbat afternoon kips can bugger up any new week.

of course over the years i've learned good coping techniques - dont fight it, get up and do somethingelse for an hour or so. often thats enough and the benefit gained from whatever i've done instead is worth the sleep deficit (my nightmare is to have slept too much before Yom Kippur and to wake up in the middle of the night and be unable to read, watch TV or eat...) but when its down to matters of the mind i am reminded why sleep deprivation isnt just like chinese torture -- it is chinese torture! its like some psycho has locked me in a cinema from hell and is subjecting me to repeat screenings of "I know what you did last summer (and this is what you should have done or maybe this instead or how about that or why didnt you think of the other).

on such nights any sleep i do get is very sketchy and i'm never too sure if i've actually slept until i realize that i couldnt have got to work this morning (in Jerusalem) just in my underwear via Euston Square station and anyway the Metropolitan line doesnt go via the Alps or anywhere underwater and why would the Makolet man be on my train anyway? (While I have problems sleeping, once asleep my dream are vivid, in technicolor and highly memorable)

1998 (i think) saw my first prescription for a valium derivative sleeping pill. and its probably been a two or three years since they've stopped having any kind of effect. a general fear of chemical dependence coupled with laziness prevents me from getting anything stronger. besides i didnt wait for this article to realize that somethings are better talked through than pill-popped. instead i've discovered a homeopathic cure -- lavendar oil. i sprinkle a few drops on my pillow and unless things are really stressful i can conk out for the night. its actually really good and if the price i pay is waking up smelling like grandma, then so be it. only problem is, it works best when i can pre-empt it (eg i will most probably use it tomorrow night) but it doesnt work so well on the spot as it were.

ok, its 5:00 am now and i seemed to have distracted myself from thinking about the burning issue (and the strategically placed mosquito bites) that woke me up, for over an hour and a half. plus i've managed to check something off my to do list (update blog). life could be worse.

i'm going to attempt to go back to sleep (the little thats left). if you're still awake maybe you should check out this site

good night!

Saturday, October 16, 2004

i knew it

Hey that Maoz felafal bar I found in Barcelona in February was Israeli owned
I'm shlapping nachus retroactively.

Monday, October 11, 2004

miniature thinking

I am sensitive to the fact that my relationship with Israel -- my national homeland, my spiritual center, my residence of choice, my 4 slowly-closing-in walls -- is becoming more passive aggressive by the day. While in the bottle factory of life my label would be something like moderate left, religious Zionist, in reality I wonder that maybe my habit to bemoan the many ills of Israeli society while taking very little positive action has more to do with my toilet training than any real impetus. (I am sure by the way that i am not alone in this projection tendency but thats a topic for another rant.)

I mention this because this attitude seems to colour my every experience and it can get a bit heavy. Of course I am no position to really want to correct this angst seeing as it fuels much of my comedy routine and anyway (more) therapy is just another luxury that the average Israeli salary does not allow.

Which leads me in more ways than one, to my first visit to
Mini-Israel last week with my parents. This is one of Israel’s newer tourist attractions which purports to show you the best sites in Israel all within 60 green dunams (60,000m2). My immediate question is whether Israel could get any smaller and if tourists could get any lazier but as sadly the answer to both questions is – yes, probably – let us move swiftly on.

Having never been taken to Disney land or World as a child (another matter of discussion with the therapist when the lottery pays up) the only international comparisons I can bring are British – Looking at
Bekonscot (a highly detailed Model Village a fond favorite among generations of British children) and Miniland at LegoLand (famous sites of Europe built in Lego) I would say that Mini-Israel falls pleasantly somewhere between.

The park features a good array of familiar landmarks for those who have traveled Israel as well as few of those places that I swear I only knew existed growing up through that Israel card game where you have to collect sets of four – things like Capernaum, Dormition Abbey and Mann Auditorium. In addition to specific sites the park also includes a fair share of generic Israel such as trains and roads, houses under construction and a kibbutz. I especially liked the inclusion of those huge life size (in miniature obviously) three dimensional commercials that originated with the huge kinley cans on the way into Ben Gurion airport and now decorate the side of the Ayalon highway.

[I was once told in an interview for a job at some PR company that this concept is an Israeli “patent” which is now being marketed around the world. Well duh, this is hardly a modern Israeli innovation. What was the 12 spies biblical huge grape stunt if not a precursor to outsized Shoko bags, yoghurt pots and washing machines?]

In short the park is really more than pleasant and definitely an outing fit for all the family. Of course not everyone is privy to the personal guided tour that I was fortunate enough to have –“How Israel has or has not changed since my parents honey moon”. Don't worry your own knowledge, the hirable earphone commentary or the site’s guidebook will suffice for the rest of you.

While I recommend a visit I’d just like to take this opportunity to point out some omissions that I noticed and offer explanations where possible.

The Security Wall – It was bit unnerving to be “viewing Israel” as if there were no such thing as land controversies in our grand little country. In particular “the wall” as a new addition to the landscape was conspicuous by its absence.
Reason for omission The wall would have been far too expensive to build and the park would have been bankrupted were it included

Most of the Hebrew University site – Only the Law School is featured. Although this may seem to reflect the only important part of the university in the eyes of Jewish parents it did seem strangely alone.
Reason for omission Hebrew U’s award winning building was omitted for the same reason for its award – the builders were unable to find their way around

The Masorti Kotel – The only men and women found praying by the Kotel were in their own respective sections and Robinson’s arch was highlighted for archaeological reasons only with nay a "woman-at-the-wall" to be seen.
Reason for omission Nothing special apart from the normal inertia and non-pluralistic nature of Israeli society. Interesting note though, if you press a button by the side of the wall the figures begin to shockel (sway and pray). Apparently that’s how it works in real life too.

Terminal at Ben Gurion - The airport was represented by the runways, tarmac and planes only, with no terminal or duty free to be seen.

Reason for omission Mini-Israel was only opened in 2002 thus we cannot expect the terminal to be ready until at least 2006.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre– Considering the abundance of Christian sites , the absence of this central landmark (and any reference to the Via Delorosa) is rather surprising
Reason for omission As the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth was also missing it seems that the park owners were too wussy to deal with the complications of including Christian sites with contested ownership.

Yuppy housing on Kibbutz land –Time stands still on the kibbutz model with communal weddings and harvest festival celebrations holding their ground over privatized laundries and old kibbutz houses open for yuppy and student rentals.
Reason for omission The decision to offer a nostalgic view of the kibbutz came after owners feared that a true to life model of a kibbutz would be sold off to lucrative land developers within 2 years. Note: Some modern elements did creep in as the wedding featured seemed suspiciously not be of kibbutz members but of city dwellers at the kibbutz's gan iru'im (events hall)

My Office – Without revealing too much, my place of work is featured at Mini-Israel. On close examination however I discovered that my actual office was missing from the model.
Reason for omission I don't need to go to work anymore – instead I can spend my days following my real dreams, writing, creating, developing my comedy and plans for world peace and ….. hello hello hello WAKE UP LG!

local heroes

last friday i quietly shlapped nachus when i personally knew two of the people behind Haaretz' anglofile main feature articles . while this is not so strange in the small village that is jerusalem i kind of liked the serendipity that beverley and grayson appeared in the same edition.

while you couldnt choose two people who were further apart in political stance, feminist and social ideology, religious observance and marital status they do have three things in common
1) They are both 33 (and thus slightly senior to ms 32andthensome).
2) They are gutsy members of my generation who are passionate about all they do including doing their bit for the "jewish single crisis".
3) I was an early guinea pig for both their enterprises although i shan't reveal at this stage which has brought me more pleasure and satisfaction.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

on a level seating

I digress from my task of finally catching you up with my Berlin adventure to bring you proof that there is still a remnant of egalitarianism in Israeli society.

Ladies and Gentlemen I present to you the last bastion of minimalism, non-materialism and general subsistence sans Ikea........

.... The white keter plastic chair.

Tonight I attended a fabulous concert by local rock singer
Yehudit Ravitz who performed in the remarkable desert setting of Nachal Tzin at the southern most tip of the Dead Sea. Surrounded by rocks and sands that pre-date Abraham or any of your favorite dinosaurs I was thrilled by the powerful combination of scenery and music, the wonderful mood of a truly heterogeneous audience…. and the abundance of white keter plastic chairs

Yes, this utilitarian (well to those with non-child bearing hips) mode of bottom placement is ubiquitous in the Israeli landscape, irrelevant - so it would seem - of class of clientele. I personally have spotted them at concerts (for the audience and artist alike), government offices, pubs, restaurants, election rallies, army checkpoints, synagogues, weddings and tv shows…to name but a few. I am almost inspired to launch a competition for the most bizarre setting and/or use of this throne of the masses. (A subconscious call back to Esther Rantzen’s shopping trolley search in the 80's, perhaps?)

While the cheap and cheerful value of the product is self-evident I am still amazed that:
a) this particular model should have such a monopoly on the frugal seat market
b) so many people in a country with no fear of overdraft and buying well beyond their means, see fit to be so parsimonious when it comes to matters of the seat

Is this a beacon of light in a tunnel of capitalistic darkness and thus the ultimate “keter malchut” (throne of kings) or is portable chairware merely the red-headed step child of the furniture world doomed never to advance?

Grab a chair and lets talk about it