Monthly Archives: August 2007

“Hello, how can I succulent?”

    The Hebrew people have been known since Moses’ day as ‘a stiff-necked people’, a contrarian crew of rugged.. well, a glance at the average Israeli driver, who measures his or her manhood minute-by-minute by the extent to which he/she can make life miserable for, and/or thwart the dreams and aspirations of, any other driver/driverette brazen enough to claim simulaneous use of the road.. will prove my point.
   So I was suprised by the results of a recent telephone survey I did; the conclusion seems to fly in the ointment of our iron-clad rule here, whatever that means..

     As you certainly might not have heard, the Ministry of Symbols, Regalia, and Stuff-like-that-there recently changed our National Fruit from the Sabra cactus (“Evil and spiny on the outside, tasteless and not worth the effort on the inside”) to the ‘kinder, gentler’ Aloe Vera, a refreshing succulent with medicinal properties. ‘A bold and precedent setting’, I remember thinking, ungrammatically, when I read it in the paper, but will it catch on? Well leave it to the ‘yiddishe kopf’ to make it happen, and cleverly at that. After all, our copper wire factories still use the ‘two guys fighting over a penny’ system to draw out thin strands, (down to #28,) of wire as of this posting. The only hard part is matching workers of precisely equal gripping-power and determination.
  So in a roughly parallell move, Bezeq, our monopoly phone company, was enlisted to offer discounts on talk-minutes to customers who answer the phone with a proud mention of our National Plant.
  I somehow managed to screw it up personally, though.. the only time Bezeq’s Aloe-bot called my house I answered with my usual “Boker tov, Ech efshar l’a’zor l’cha?” (‘Good morning, how can I help you?). I heard a buzzer, a click, then nothing. The caller-id said “Unavailable”, but I know it was them. Anyway here are the results of exactly a hundred random phone calls I made in two nights of curiousity.

1 call- “Bugga-bugga?”  (I may have mis-dialed the country-code; it was late and I was
4 calls- “Hello?” (Anglos, what ya gonna do? I told ’em to ‘get with the program, you don’t have far to go. One girl had actually heard of it, and answered ‘Hello, Vera?” I gave her half a point.
13 calls “Me zeh?!” {Factoring in the tone-of-voice, translates roughly as “Who the fuck are you?”} (These are the un-washed sad-sack barbarians the new law is trying to schmear out of the cultural landscape, but god help em, it won’t happen in my lifetime.
23 calls- “Shalom..” (Ah yes, there are a million inflections and shades of meaning to this simple greeting. I use it about half the time, and my patented “Couldn’t hurt a fly” tone is perfect for de-fusing intended malevolence. Most of the Shalom-nics I called listened calmly while I explained myself. Altogether a nice bunch of subjects; maybe we should just name a plant after them and save time legislating morality.

And the Big News:
59 calls answered with the all-new greeting,
“Aloe!”. I responded; “Cen, Aloe Vera, col ha’ka’vod!” (‘Yes, aloe-vera, and congratulations!‘) Some of ’em were a lottle disappointed when I told ’em I wasn’t from Bezeq, kinda like
“Said ‘Aloe’, now I’m broken-hearted/
                                            Paid a nickle, but only …um.. flatulated”
So it just might work. Israel of the Future; a quiet little Mecca on the Mediterranean coast where folks come to heal all their troubles, burns, skin rashes, cactus-spine puncture-wounds; to enjoy the peace and tranquillity among the sweet-tempered, charitable, and selflessly obedient local natives.
(Meanwhile I fenced-in my aloe patch; the guys who come to steal my sabras when they ripen keep tramping on it in the dark.)

“Send in the ‘hits’/… There ought to be ‘hits’.

        “For Banality to triumph, all that is needed is for the Deep to remain silent”jsolberg
Ok, we’re treading precariously close to mixing the trivial with the consequential (‘Solberg compares blog-site to Holocaust’- story on page 17), and both Edmund Burke and Hannah Arendt are rolling their eyes, if not spinning entirely…. but seriously,

   “What’s with the No Footsie-prints Syndrome lately?” For the past week my site looks suspiciously like a road-side rest-area, where robots from google, msn, yahoo, and other un-mentionable agencies pull off the highway to chat with each other. Real humans, although of high quality, have not been notably numerous. These are my hypotheses for now:
1) There has been a horrible calamity, world-wide, and of staggering proportions. I somehow missed it on the News. Tragically, most of my subscribers were ‘lost’, which is a blow, not to mention having to ‘delete’ them, one at a time, in Xanga’s buggy “Edit Subs” page.
2) The old “Something I said…?” thesis. My young ‘possibly imaginary but based on a true-life-experience’ friend Ruthie told me this morning (again) that “Ppls don’t wanna hear about ‘doin it’; and she explained why.. But that would only excuse one low-reaction piece, not a week’s worth of innocent mirth..
3) Ok, then, mebbe PPLs don’t give much of a rat’s ass about much of anything I happen to care and write about. Hmm.. could be… But I do look at my archives and see a veritable ‘monkeys at typewriters’ flotilla of finely-phrased follies. Could it be possible that the one subject which will catapult me into lasting Xanga-fame has somehow just not randomly come up yet, and if I continue .. oh.. another million years or so, I’ll hit the Shakespearean jackpot? “What’s yer favorite colour?” How’s that sound for my next post? A: ‘The yellow one.’
4) I do search for Deep… every night, and I find some, actually. (Just got a citation from “Bobby” of the “Xanga-Team” for having more “1 comment” nice things to say on assorted random sites than anyone else here. Trouble is, most of my discoveries, if they check my site at all, seem to leave in a hurry, and speechless at that (except for saying to themselves “Oy Gewalt!”, probably). I’ll never figure out why that happens..

   So bottom line, I’ve found a fairly nice bunch of folks here whom I like alot. And the only catch is, some of ’em don’t ‘like me back’, at least not “on the record”. Sounds like a sixth-grader’s lament, actually.. thought I’d solved that one a long time ago; guess not…

By the way, this page, is an absolutely gorgeous survey by a guy named Martin Porter of the quote I abused above, its variants, its history.. and the distinct possibility that it may not even be authentic.

“Comments?” Ruthie’d came over to look at the rough proof-sheets of our photo-shoot, but she just had to ‘re-state’ her point from our previous session:
“Nada..” I admitted, sadly.
“See..”, she rushed into her prepared script,”Like I told ya, forget Xanga-schmanga, whatevah..”
“Usually they do comment..” I defended myself, “…like when I do word-play..”
“Ok, cool. So ‘Word-play, Da, Fore-play, Nyet’ then..” She laughed, wrapped her gorgeous arms around me, and whispered in my ear, (with bold intent to tickle, I’m sure): “Maybe they thought you were gay? Huh?”
“Moi?”, I defended my on-line manhood. “Nah, they’re just reading and moving on, humming ‘Hello, young lovers where ever you are..‘ like Anna in The King and I..”
“Nu, so what ya gonna post about now, seein’s how we’ve confirmed that like, passion don’t cut it, footprint-wise?”

I’m really starting to love this girl; she sincerely wants me to be happy and fulfilled, what a concept..
“Well, I did this piece about letters.. I was gonna wait a few days, but what the hell, I’ll just post it now, I guess.” I told her.
“Ok, sweetheart, let’s see if it gets your readers off…” The look in her eyes told me that we were seconds away fromThe time after the next time’ which, as I remembered, promised to be ‘real-er’ than Xanga by at least ten orders of magnitude.
So here, readers, while I drown in carnal bliss… something to read:


    I think I remember who legitimized for me the on-the-surface puerile activity of discovering rows of letters which can be ‘divided’ several ways, thus spelling out entirely different sentences. Rick dunnit. And he even cheated. (No rearrangements allowed)
‘Get-rich-quick’ Rick bought, with his last few dollars I assume, an on-the-rocks small-town rock-band emporium in a silly little Central Penna. town I know well. I think I’d played there a few times, even used the parking lot to get to know a few selected music-lovers. Anyway, the place wore its name in giant plastic light-em-up genuine imitation neon letters:
S H O W   P A L A C E (Now Appearing: Big Deal!  or Bump in th Night! or whatever we were that week). So when Rick discovered that his highly-laundered dollars had shrunken in the dryer, metaphorically, he had an IDEA! “I’ll just re-name the joint  W H O’ S   P L A C E! I’ll unscrew the letters, maybe have to buy a few new bolts, ok.. but if I make enough to open a ‘sister-club’, I’ll even have an “A” left over, to add to the sign.” And so that’s exactly what he did. {In the end, he chopped up the “A’ to make a ‘postrophe.. and a question-mark, which turned out badly; there’s another 70 bucks shot-ed}
He lasted six months, I believe, but RICK’s TRICK lives on, right here, where we’re still in business, as you shall see:

Yes, “a flower is only as good as its stem”. I’m sure you’ve heard that said, (if only once, right now, and for the first time..) At any rate I’m sure you won’t want to miss this once-in-a-lifetime chance to sign up with the industry leader in ‘enhanced support solutions’ for your valued lilies of the valley” .

  Let’s face it, who wants to have his garden party ruined by over-hearing the guests disparaging the asparagus, be-moaning the impatiens, or even drunkenly mumbling “What a sick-pachysandra this bozo’s got!”. And that’s where APROPO SYSTEMS ™ enters the picture. Yes with our patent-pending class-A ‘PRO-POSY’ STEMS supporting your Johnny-jump-ups, there’ll be no more sympathetic looks, no eye-rolling, not even the odd side-long glance. Just pure admiration, that “I wonder how she does it!” reaction you’ve always dreamed of. Call us today, toil-free, and within hours your posies will proudly ‘stand up and be counted’. We’re so sure both you and your husband will benefit from our solutions (discrete inquiries, no problem) that we back all our products with the ”NEVA-WILT’ ®  limited life-time guarantee. Call now; you’ll be sorry you didn’t.

..only got a second to post this, but like..

..I told Ruthie that I put a little piece about her on my site.. mentioned a picture..
“From the back, right?” she looked slightly worried.
“Of course” I reassured her. So after she saw it, and ‘approved’ (“I do look hot, don’t I?”) she asked if anybody’d had anything to say.
“Not particularly..”, I had to tell the truth.
“They’re just jealous” she half-kidded.
“maybe.. But of whom, you or me?” I asked.
“Both of us, I’m sure of that.. like, jealous of me ’cause I ‘know bugs good’, and you.. ’cause you, like, know me..” That last part came with a cocky little ‘pose for the camera’.
“Hey, I wuz catching bugs before your momma was born, Ruthie.” I told her. Not to over-emphasize the age-gap, but hey, facts are facts. {Turns out facts can be wrong: wait for Chapter 2 on this issue}
“Or maybe they think you’re fictional..” I suggested helpfully. I could tell she secretly longed for ‘digital validation’…
“Hey, you wanna see ‘fictitional?” Ruthie made that same ‘one pull on this little knot’ move. I quickly threw my arms around her, bravely using my body as a ‘human shield’ to ward off the un-wanted attention on any passers-by… and impulsively (instinctively?) pulled that pesky knot open. She backed off a second, just enough to let her top fall onto the grass, then pressed herself firmly against me.
“Um.. ‘real’.. I’d say.. speaking professionally..” I managed to get out. This time ‘light-headed’ was a serious understatement. I thought of all the borrowed uses of ‘real‘, like ‘real-time’, ‘realistic action-figures’, reality-tv.. (Actually I chucked ‘thought’ completely, and just felt her nipples, free at last to tickle my chest. After a few minutes she opened her eyes:
“Ok, we proved that point, right?”
“Yeah, that part’s working, fer sure”
I murmured authoritatively. “Now we still gotta convince the Xanga-hordes, though..”
“Who cares?”
She took my hand and moved it downward. It was time to look around for a quiet, ant-free tree to lie under, a survey made increasingly difficult, as she continued to guide me toward even more ‘reality’
After we’d spread out a blanket under a low-hanging mulberry tree in the orchard, she whispered:
“Ok, next time we’ll take pictures… ‘upload’, whatever.. ‘exctasy dot jpg.. that oughta convince ’em”
I heard mainly the ‘next time’, part; forget the file-format.. and who’s holding the camera, anyway? Like I have a free hand? But something awesome about her already creating a ‘New Folder’ for ‘next time’.. and ‘the time after that’. Come to think of it though, I don’t really remember ever sleeping with a girl just once; oh maybe a small handfull, but always with extenuating circumstances, like her ‘last chance’ request the night before their wedding, or ’cause the kid’s parents had just showed up at summer camp a day early to scoot her back to Duluth.
“This is so easy.. only two moving parts” I blew in Ruthie’s ear, moving inside her.
“Don’t stop moving..” Now she was panting, and suddenly making noises I desparately hoped would be heard out on the road as the cries of cats in heat. Factoring in the chance of an ‘early demise’, I let myself mentally drown in her primal power, which caused an almost immediate muffled explosion.

    In the end we both drowned, and were drowned-by, each other, only to survive it all; to lie on the beach, thanking the gods for saving us, this time…
After a half hour of drowsily chatting about.. oh.. animal sounds in the neighborhood.. (‘other animal sounds’, I guess I should say), she came back to it:
“Still think Xanga’s important?”
I said, and laughed dismissively..
“…but can I still like, write stuff.. you know.. when we’re not doing this?” I back-tracked a per-cent or so.
Why and when would we ever not be doing this?” she demanded to know, and rolled on top of me as if to claim me for The Lessings. I wisely surrendered, and a few minutes later we were heavily-breathing again; The promised ‘next time’, our flight taking off earlier than scheduled, but at least we were both on it, cruising towards Heaven.   Xanga can wait…

(..I rarely write about what it seems like I’ve spent two thirds of my waking hours doing; maybe that’s wise..)

What the hexa-bi have I signed? No, wait, it’s a ‘hepta-bi’!

    For reasons I may go into later, (see edit below) I recently went to procure a copy of an (oddly-classed?) “self-help” book on suicide. Feeling lucky to have located it, I quietly handed the check-out girl the 150 shekels, with that classic strained non-chalance of a condom-purchaser. (Not that I know anything about that either; I sincerely wouldn’t know where it goes, or what color matches my eyes..) Anyway, she looked at the title, punched something into the register, and then handed me a pen.. and a form to sign (!). All in Hebrew; I did my best to speed-read, but struck out on the fine print, among other impediments. But hey, I’ll sign anything just to get out of here, I thought to myself.
“Takh’tom!” she said brusquely. (‘Sign!’), She probably talks that way to her little kitty-cats at home, when they don’t purr on schedule.. oops, no, we don’t believe in the ‘cat-as-a-pet’ here… forgot where I was…)
So I signed. Took about an hour… Ok, seriously, I do have a “full-featured” version of my hebrew signature I pull out just to piss off hapless functionaries who request a pointless ‘Yonatan Henry’. It fills the space to the bottom of the page.. plus sometimes the “Feel free to use other side” area if I’m especially peeved. She was looking at her watch when I ‘threatened‘ to turn the form over, so I contented myself with making my point, and left the store, relieved but puzzled.
   Only when I got home did I glance at the English translation on the back of the copy she gave me. Allah knows what it says in Arabic..(!)

“I hereby buy “Bye Bye“, by Baha’i bi-lingual bi-sexual author/authoress/autor/autore/autor-oid Dr. Bison W. Reines. Opinions and procedures discussed in this work are for scholarly use only. Willful misrepresentation of intent here will be prosecuted, and violators will be tried, posthumously or in absentia if need be.”

   ‘Just great!’, I said to myself;  our court system is a close second to India’s, with their 120-year back-log of cases, and grandsons standing trial for their fore-father’s ox-goring crimes; Next time I’ll buy, no, make that ‘purchase“Rebecca of Sunnybrooke Farm”, just to stare-at, etc. the pictures. I just love that girl, you know, but like Tina Turner said “….What’s love, but a second handy motion?”    Hope Doc Bison mentions that in his list of reasons to ‘keep walking past the open windows’.

edit-This entry has a flaw in it, a conceptual one at that. Sometimes you’re in the water so long you forget you’re wet. Otherwise put: Yes, an acquaintance of mine recently decided to ‘check out’ prematurely.. and her friends and I went through calling it a tragedy, then a stupidity, an arrogant irresponsible act (She had just a few minutes earlier dropped of her very-pregnant daughter after helping her with last-minute shopping), and finally we kinda gave up trying to understand. “Comedy?” someone said. I answered that I felt it was beyond my powers of humorousity, at least.
  Ok, and in an entirely unrelated incident, I finally came up with a “Seven bi’s in a row” sentence. Yeah, mazal tov! So since the name of the book had to be “Bye Bye”, well, what do you think crossed my mind? I welded the two pieces together all right I guess, but I’m not sure it makes any sense. Which is kinda how we all feel about Tzippy, actually, (she should rest in peace.)

A Quick dip into Dipthong-Bikini-Madness

 Well, maybe this’ll get ’em to ‘visit my site’. Kinda selling-out though; I’d prided myself on the attempt to attract pure readers, who would hang out just to critique pure reason, and always with the purest of thoughts. But my little academic escapade with up-and-coming young entomologist Ruth Lessing changed all that. Intending to innocently do the photo-shoot for her latest book, “The Lengths, Widths, and Heights of Ruth’s Sixth Wasp’s Nests, I found myself uncontrollably aiming the camera at decidedly non-Hymenoptera species. Something about her ardor, her candor, her naked passion for pure research into these what was we talking about?

“The book, Johnny, think it’ll go somewhere?”
“Well, the title’s sure got legs!” I slipped and fell on the first round. But seriously, I always like to support my clients and their dreams.. and mine..
“It’s easier read than said..” she mused, looking contemplative but demure. We had that in common.
“Oh, that’s just because of all the dipthongs, Ruthie, but we’re talking about a scholarly target audience, right? They’ll deal with it.”
“Sure.. Dipthongs are big right now. They’re like in Vogue”
At least that’s what I thought I heard her say, in that vaguely Wagnerian Valkyrie-girl-speak that she’d brought with her from Venice CA, when she came here to live a few years ago. I was tempted to say “..Are not!”
“Are so!” Where do you think I found this?” She made a four-point turn for my camera, which struggled to find any negatives in the picture.
“No, sweetheart, there are no dipthongs in mean, ‘in Vogue’.. well, not in bikini either..”
“Are so, they’re on the inside,,”
“..where I’ll never see them?”
“Hmm.. well maybe if a wasp crawls in it..”
She made a motion as if to prove that, yes, one pull on the little knot right here and..  I looked around hopefully at our forgotten little buzzing friends. No luck, they were all busy, doing whatever it is they consider more important, dumb insects!
“So why do you work so scantily protected, Rutie? “Not that I mind, I mean..”
“You don’t know much about wasps, do you?”
she asked, sort-of. I decided that being patronized by a 27 year old whiz-kid-in-her-field wasn’t the worst fate in the world.
“..They wont sting you if you’re too ‘easy‘, you didn’t know that?” she continued.
“Well no, now that you mention it”.
“They like challenges, see, so I’m like ‘Take me, I’m yours!, and their little stingers just wilt.. till they see the guy in the zip-up Dacron suit, you know, with the face-net and the whole flotilla..”
“The whole magila, it’s “the whole magilla”, you know from Magilat Esther, on Purim..”

“Whatever..” She suddenly took interest in a little paper-wasp who I gathered had run out of paper or something. Ruthie smiled as it took off again joyfully, if we can say that about the little critters. Maybe she pushed its ‘reset‘ button, I know?
“So you think I should rename the book, Johnny?”
I decided that pretending to patronize her might not be an inexcusable gaffe;
“H’as v’kha’lil!” (‘God forbid’) You don’t know much about the book-biz, do you, girl?”, I kinda asked her.
“But it takes longer to pronounce than to read”
“Bingo!” I’d let her discover a corollary to her thesis.
“See, you make it too ‘easy’, like “The Big Book-of-Bugs“, and they’ll lose interest, just like you said. Readers like a challenge, and  we’re gonna give ’em something they’re gonna wanna try to sting over and over again.. till they’ve finally had enough.”

And at this point, despite having no upper-body blood available to enable brain function, I somehow shot a few perfunctory casuals of various wasps, like ‘doing-it’, folded my tripod, and walked somewhat tri-pedaly with Ruthie back to the car, where we kissed goodbye in the dimming sunlight, my fingers toying with the little knot. Dipthongs. I will see them someday.


File under ‘2-2-2-2-2’

Ok, for the benefit of anyone scanning his ‘read my subs’, I’ll try to describe this cartoon in words, so you shouldn’t need to actually hit my site, thus risking of course the very real danger that I’ll make a plaster-cast of your footprints, take it to my NSA friends, and using their extensive footwear database, discover your real name. This will of course enable me to fly to your home country, rent a cheap pick-up truck, and drive around bugging kids at the Quickee-Mart in town after town until I finally find your house. Exhausted from the effort, I will then likely content myself with a quick glance around the front yard before reversing direction and flying home, tired but fulfilled. You wouldn’t want that, now, would you?
  So anyway, {IMAGE HERE} is a cartoon I did of a guy dressed up for some art show, asking his wife one of those ‘impossible to safely answer’ questions. I won’t spoil it any further.

   (Oh, and yeah, I’m not a real cartoonist, but you knew that.. I just go to pieces thinking about poor little MS-Paint, sitting there in “Acessories”, waiting for a call..


The Incredible whiteness of being.. an eggs-checker

    Ok, a new job; sue me!

“Jeez, this solberg’s good at getting hired”, some of you may be thinking.

Others, less charitable, will likely concentrate on the statistic: Average term of employment-72 hours. Whatever, it’s a challenge. And it beats bean counting..

      It all started with a photo Duncan took of a street scene in St.Albans, near his home in the UK. “Note the sign” he added when he sent me a copy. Sure enough, a little plaque in the corner, barely readable, bore the proud inscription “Sister cities: St. Albans-Tirana-Ra’anana”. So I don’t know, something made me stop in Ra’anana on the way back from a gruelling day at the SSPSSSC.. I asked at the Iriya (Municipal Building) what was up with the “sister-cities” deal. The girl at the desk had to ask her boss, who asked her boss.. in the end, it boiled down to “Oh yeah, that’s the Hatchery”. I was looking at my watch as I thanked them for the lowdown, and yes, I had noticed the new long, low, blindingly white building off of Highway 4 a couple times in the last few months. At the angle you pass it, the sign was unreadable from the road but it did look like a giant egg, so I confidently took the dangerous turn-off and pulled into the lot. Hmm, “Levantine Mi-yune Ltd” in bold letters marched across yup, a Giant Egg-sign. (love how they leave untranslated the “mi’yune”..sorting‘ in hebrew). Plenty of room on the Egg for the blurb about the “Sister-cities hand-in-hand-into-the-future” deal, and then the mottos, in enough languages you had to search for your country’s flag to find the readable one: English was first: “It takes a tough checker to spot a tender chicken!” Hmm.. maybe a copyright issue there? Followed by an equally whimsical one in Hebrew: “Oof rach mat’khil im bodek im beit’tsim!” (“a tender chicken starts with a checker with ‘eggies’/slang for testicles). And the Spanish was not far behind, using the same ‘huevos’ slang for.. well.. An Albanian flag preceeded a line of words only god could read, so I left off my studies and entered the door..

….into the friendly waiting room, its walls lined with crookedly hung (this is Israel, after all) pictures of dignitaries shaking hands, chickens doing the same, and a large “All you ever wanted to know” poster describing ‘The Process’, Turns out, those smart-guys down at the Weissman Institute had identified the gene for tender (loving?) chickens, and what’s more, had actually come up with an early-detection scheme using the egg’s ‘albedo’ the index of reflection or ‘brightness’ as a test. And the whole building, I was to find out from Reggie White, the Brit-ex-pat head honcho, was one giant ‘sorting-station, with trucks coming in and out every ten minutes, seemed like. He shook my hand warmly, and as I sat down I noticed the cute sign on his desk, “Chancellor of the Egg-checkers”.
“Yeah, and if we ever get down to only one employee, I’ll be Chancellor of the Eggs-checker”, he laughed.
“Actually, the Albanians here call me ‘Edge-ie”.
They think I’m too tough I guess, but hell, they work in a pretty strange environment..  Wanna take a look?”
I was flattered he had the time for a tour, and followed gratefully as we carefully opened a rubber-sealed door off the main corridor.
“Little Tirana” he joked,
“So far, the workers like to be with ‘their own kind’.. I’m trying to integrate, but it’s tough going.
And then we were inside:

Inside the whitest place I’ve ever seen. Two dozen or so stocky (well, ‘tractor-esque’) women were busy, each at her own table, each dressed completely in white, from the spotlessly white hair-cover down to white socks, shoes, and laces. And don’t forget the white ‘clown-make-up’.. yes, faces painted white, including their neatly-trimmed mustaches. Only the eyes remained a tiny reminder of the non-white world.
“Well I’ll be an Albanian albino!” I said to Reggie, a bit too loudly. He laughed but whispered proudly “They do know eggs, that they do..”
“Ok, so I’ll bone up on albumen, Doc, when can I start?” I was already imagining myself there, with my own overhead conveyor rolling the ‘candidates’ into my ‘office’, me humming Cream’s
“In a White Room, with White curtains, at my Station..”
“Well, the night-shift needs another two sorters.. that’s a sort-of mixed bag of guys, call ’emselves the White Knights. Since Bela Roostorov went back to Belarus last week, Ed Weiss’s been running that room. Hey, he’s from Albany, You guys’d probably get along. Plus we got a couple ‘celebrities’ working there for a while.. Leuko Belushi
“The brother-of..?”
I asked.
“Yup. He put some money in the project right from the start, so he’s here to visit.. oh, and sort eggs just like the rest! And you’ll love Monsieur J. Piedmont Blanc, haha. He thinks he’s Napoleon, escaped from Elba, but other than that…” Reggie rolled his eyes a bit.
“Yeah, I am trying to learn French, as a matter of fact. So after I get The Process down, we’ll be able to chat.. I can start tonight?” I was psyched.
“Sure thing, guy. Just be here at 6:00, and the girls’ll get you whitened up in time for the shift. The white cream, you know..
“Can I wear cut-offs?”
(to-be-continued, maybe)

IF U CNT RD THS, Blame the messenger..

    Yes, this time it is all his fault, so kill him dead and get a new one. I’m talking about reading Hebrew, of course; Maybe I better go to bullet-points here, since we have lots of ammunition…
1) Reading words without vowels is a waste of the reader’s precious time. I’m sorry, but mentally filling in the holes is a brain-strain, in a country already full of stains and strains. What could possibly justify this false economy, five fewer letters on the keyboard? Well they already blew that by ‘inventing‘ five ‘final forms’ for five of the letters, which are used… duh.. to tell the reader that he’s looking at the last letter of a word? Called ‘soffiot’, they are the proverbial ‘tits on a boar-hog’, useless to the core. And furthermore, arguments that Israeli kids manage to acquire the language in all its stunted glory never mention that the extra time required is probably why those poor kids never learn to use turn-signals.
2) Here’s a Big One, and a recent discovery at that: NO CAPITAL LETTERS! It only hit me when I saw the girl at the corner store reading the newspaper with her finger on the page. She’s bloody ‘from here’, so one would think… But as I love to say, “One would be wrong” No, one glance at the cash register, and she loses her place on the page. I’m not sure how many readers appreciate the importance of Capital Letters to locate Sentence-starts, Famous Names, etc. and in general, ‘Where the hell was I when I was so rudely interrupted?’. So anyway, I’d known that reading the paper here felt like plodding through the worst of James Joyce, but I always thought it was my fault. Haha, it’s not, assholes!
3) So reading Hebrew reminds me of that famous book “The Loneliness of the One-legged Long-distance Runner” you know, where the guy finishes the race about a week after everybody else, but you have to love him for it. Yes, it can be done. But it’s a chore, seemingly designed for a people without much else to do with their time. Here’s another example; The TV Show “You wanna be a Millionaire, huh?” ..something like that, well,we have it here on the cable in four languages. OK, I rake in ‘home-viewer-dollars’ in English, of course, slightly fewer Deutsche-marks in German, but here’s the point: In Russian, which I’m lucky if I know 1000 words of, I put rubles in both pockets none-the-less, mostly because at least I can ‘speed-read’ the questions and possible answers. But I have yet to earn more than about 200 shekels in the Hebrew version, why, because by the time I get the first half of the question read, the buzzer’s rung and they’re on to the next level. And another observation. Here they plaster the Hebrew sub-titles on top of the english subtitles, in foreign films. But in the nano-second before the english is brutally obscured, I manage to read it, all three lines, perfectly. it’s called “a real alphabet”, duh.
4) I firmly believe that languages and letters can be judged on an objective Quality scale
. No neutral modernist ‘….rape of barnyard animals does seem to be an important rite of passage for this fascinating island culture..” for this kid. And by any objective appraisal, an alphabet like the hopeless Bag-o-Scrawl® used by the hebrews fails miserably. Two issues here:  Really; if you throw out the unabashed redundant doubles, (two ‘s’s, two ‘t’s, three ‘a’s, four ‘kh’s..) there are only really seven or so distinct sounds represented. ‘Aloha’, anyone? {Hawaiian being a possibly more familiar example of this paucity} And as for visibility, well. the letters we do have differ in many cases by the presence or absence of what appears to the naked eye to be a single flea sperm. Ma’ariv, the ‘children’s daily paper, recently adopted a font so crushingly unreadable that one wonders what, if anything, was going through their heads. I challenge anyone without an electron microscope to differentiate between ‘Mem’ and ‘Peh’, between ‘Dalet’ and ‘Zayin’. “Zayin b’takhat shel’e’chem!”
5) And in keeping with millenia-old tradition
, sure enough, when a local native writes his phone number, or tries to express it in words, it is invariable an un-hyphenated laundry-list of digits. Feels like being handed a double handful of crawling maggots. This in a country where the first three digits represent the local dialing-zone, or town, followed by four more digits, just like in the States. My attempts to recount the long history of memory-studies which led to the firmly established ‘555-1212’ format, have so far been greeted with blank looks. ‘We have met the enemy, he is us, and we are surrounded!”
6) So all that’s left is to console ourselves that ‘It could be worse’
. To this end I include a poster for a Thai music event here, with snide but probably embarassingly-uninformed comments.

thai poster   

Get to no french: www.Top-Ecole, dot Com-ecole

   Nope, not like the last post, written in the Maine-Tain dialect. This one really works!

    By way of partial explanation, I learned french back when I was 15 from Cherie Deveraux.. ‘a kiss is just a kiss’, so I thought, wrongly. (God, don’t any of these girls every Google their own name? (A year or so ago, I put a nice little piece here, and at the bottom…for starters, twenty-five names, in plain text, emminently google-able. Nada so far. I mean, curiosity was an attribute I seem(-ed?) to attract.)

Anyway, Cherie probably knows how to SPEAK a little french by now. But it’s too late. I gave up and took the Ecole de le Icles  ® on-line course, got my degree, and now I’ll share the secret with you all, Dear Ruders

See, you start with the English text:

I was preparing to climb an ice wall with my friends, Madge and what’s his name…um..Bill.
Madge goes “Come here, Johnny, sit in the tent a second, I have a tip for you, See, if you tie the shrapnelleur this way, the top of the pin won’t lodge itself on the clav, you got that?”
Bill added “Yeah, I dent a lot of ’em too.. They threw me out of Club Med after a mere two weeks; I was killing the equipment budget!” 
I was real taken by her concern, but didn’t really listen that good; a bad move, as it turned out. My fall, as my first attempt came to nought, said it all.

Now the trick is, in French, you just add “ecole” to the important words.

At least that’s what I got from the on-line course… well, the first lesson. So here’s the next step:

I was preparing to climb an iceecole wall with my buddies, Madge-ecole and what’s his name…um..Bill-ecole.
Madge goes “Come-ecole here, Johnny, sit in the tent-ecole a second, I have a tip-ecole for you, See, if you tie the shrapnelleur this way, the top-ecole of the pin-ecole won’t lodge-ecole itself on the clav-ecole, you got that?”
Bill added “Yeah, I dent-ecole a lot of ’em too.. They threw me out of Club Med-ecole after a mere-ecole two weeks; I was killing the equipment budget!”
I was real taken by her concern, but didn’t really listen that good; a bad move, as it turned out: My fall-ecole, as my first attempt came to nought-ecole, said it all.

Gibberish, you say?
Well spelling is French’s middle name. So of course the next step is to like, spell the french words right:

I was preparing to climb an icicle wall with my buddies, Magical and what’s his name…Umbilical
Madge goes “Comical here, Johnny, sit in the tentacle a second, I have a typical for you, See, if you tie the shrapnelleur this way, the topical of the pinacle won’t logical itself on the clavicle, you got that?”
Bill added “Yeah, I dentical a lot of ’em too.. They threw me out of Club Medical after a miracle two weeks; I was killing the equipment budget!”
I was real taken by her concern, but didn’t really listen that good; a bad move, as it turned out: My follicle, as my first attempt came to nautical, said it all.

Ok, we’re almost there
. The only thing left is to fix the word-order. See in French, as those of us who no the language parley-vous, you don’t necessarily say the subject before the verb; lots of times the subject is understood,   like wine, or snail-eating, or ‘Is this the week I take a shower?’ So now I’ll ‘fix’ our sample text, and you’ll be on your way to finally speaking french like me. We could get together and ‘chat’ even, See ya at Le Ecole..

Ah… mon cherie Madge; a medical miracle from follicle to clavicle, from her identical breasts to her magical umbilical ‘chords’. Logical, then, that we skipped the climb entirely; While Bill, the nascent ergo-nautical apprentice plodded upwards ‘because it’s there’, we had time for a comical two-minute icicle-icicle duel before as usual, climbing our own private ‘path to the pinacle’, tentacles intertwined in our by-now typical tent-warming routine.

..complicated, I know, but worth the time, let me tell you..