Monthly Archives: September 2009

Introducing my Daughter

Well, this is about as close to what she would look like, if I could father girls, dammit.

'i'-solberg  One part Germanic blood, one part North African (Yemen, in our case, Algerian in hers) I’d be so happy I’d agree to go with Isabella for a name instead of my fictitious Tania, who joins me here periodically for precious hypothetical chats. 
That’s about all I have to report, except that I wouldn’t let her have a pet octopus. ‘Almost‘ certain I wouldn’t. I’m just possesive that way. Even though I do let my kid play my piano…

living proof

Wu: I know what you’re talking about
Me: Of course you do. Truffaut. That’s why I hired you
Wu: She looks more like her Mom  than like you.
Me: Yeah, but she’s smart.. you know.. for a girl.
Wu: Jezuz, what a dinosaur!  Stick with boys, js
Me: Just kidding, Wu. One hand applause?

“Gentlemen, Stop your engines”

   Gotta get this posted before Yom Kippur starts in four  three hours.Otherwise I shall be struck down, and my keyboard will be frozen, by  One True God®.
Who that Guy is, now that’s another matter. Like shopping for toothpaste or a lawn-mower: What are they gonna tell ya, that’s it’s not ‘the best toaster in the known world’? Allah, Buddha, Jezuz, Zoroaster, Limbaugh, they all demand we trust them and them alone. Meanwhile, I’m kinda looking for a Real Sign. Not the Burning Bush, sorry. 3000 years.. you know how stories get embellished. I’m talking about one of the two ways I could ever be persuaded to believe in a Gourd
1) If all the followers/believers in that Gog were uniformly such special, beautiful, thoughtful, ground-breakingly forward-thinking creatures that there were no other explanation for their specialness other than to conclude that they’d gotten it right. (This is the track we jews are kinda working on, with only moderate success)  OR:
2) An undeniably super-natural astronomical event, preferably during my lifetime, but I’d settle for during the last, say 200 years. Since the camera and scientific rationalism. Something like the Moon blinking on and off during the night of the Autumn Equinox, Plus a Voice booming out of the Heavens, repeating in every language spoken by humans “I am the God who made this little freaking terrarium.” When I say jump, I’d advise you to jump!”

We’ve been working pretty hard down here on ethics; it boils down to ‘What’s despicable to you, don’t do to your neighbor… all the rest is word-play.’ Trouble is, I see tons of my fellow man acting as if nothing much must be despicable to them.
We’ve also made giant steps toward understanding the natural world and its laws. The Moon doesn’t blink on and off, neither are 1000 decibel voices heard coming from the stratosphere…. Wait!

Yeah, while we’re waiting for Godot or someone like Him, I do have a suggestion: Let’s keep Yom Kippur. One day every so often to spend quietly thinking about life and how one could live it more thoughtfully. Just that it needs to be tied to something startling: duh, like an eclipse. They happen in one form or another every year or so. and never cease to fill me with a deep sense of our connectedness with the Cosmos and each other. Now that I think about it, I never shot a man or ever coveted my neighbor’s ass or his wife’s during an eclipse. See, it works.

You’ll be allowed to drive, but only uphill, to get a closer view. Nah, that’ll just cause traffic jams on mountain roads. I’ll proclaim “No driving”, just like here in Israel tomorrow, when the roads will be devoid of all vehicles save ambulances, off to rescue the faint of heart… or those who tried to start their engines and were striken by God’s fiery carburetor-angel of Death. Tsam Kal v’ Hatimah Tovah le’ cu’lam. js/ tel aviv

stop ur engines

Wu: God cain’t spel gud, huh?

Me: Oh that? That’s a tradition. Only God is allowed to be perfect; and I put in a deliberate mistake so as not to appear to be a god. I am what I am, after all, a mere Xangan

Wu: Nice try, J.


     Yes, the only down side to Xanga is; you meet people who know more than you do about a certain subject (or God forbid, about every goddamn subject) and then johnny gets jealous. He could Google and Wiki, of course, but that’s kinda cheating. Back in the old days when men were men, if you didn’t know the capital of Montana you were dead in the water. I felt comfortable in that stone-age, tell ya the truth, Helena. ‘If I forget thee, may my  right hand suffer from Boise-ness’.
Anyway, today’s subject is, you guessed by the title, PORT vs STARBOARD. First question, which is which duh?
A: I don’t know. I somehow think port might be on the left, looking out the boat-driver’s window.

But let’s back that up with a bit of Solberg ‘argument from first principles’, shall we? Back when they first invented boats, I assume some wise-guy decided to standardize the convention: which side of the dumb thing do you piss off of, and which side is for tea-parties? Thus ‘P- OR-‘T’ was adopted as the pneumonic (that’s like, a short-cut to help air-heads  remember stuff). And ‘PORT’, which you write with a ‘P’ first, is the hand you don’t write with….

Um, makes less sense the longer I go on. Still, ‘Pea first, then tea, and stir with your left hand.’ Sounds axiomatic to me, but then I’m drunk. Let’s move on over to the right.

STARBOARD, now there’s a mystery waiting to happen. I mean, there are stars on both sides of the sky, and boards as well, unless it’s ‘made of steal’ (sic). Wait. That’s it! It ain’t ‘board, it was originally ‘bored’ (?) Now if I can prove that the stars on the right side of the canopy are more boring than their stellar brothers on the other… Oops, a snag:  depends which way you’re heading. Forget ‘Star-bored’.
Still, what else have I got? ‘Steer-board’? Fine if it’s a cattle-ship, then that’s the side the steers walk up the plank to get to? Um, too far-fetched
‘Stare-bored’? Named after the mental condition caused by hours at sea gazing out at like, nothingness. But why would it happen more on the right side. Wait, the bi-cameral human brain and all that? You look to the right and your left brain eventually screams “This sucks, Bud. Get a life!” On the left side of the boat, however, folks are busy writing poems, songs, painting sea-scapes, all with their right hemispheres. Hmm.. I think I’ll go with that as my guess. Yes, it’s final. No turning back now. I mean, what’s left? ‘STIR-BARD’? (You end up stuck in the Horse Latitudes trying to make soup out of your once treasured copy of ‘Merchant of Venice’?)
Or ‘STORE-BIRD’? (You thought you bought a carrier-pigeon; turns out you got a damn schlock pigeon and a cheap plastic one-time ‘carrier’)
Nope. See what I mean? It’s ‘stare-bored’. And the relevant Principle of Scientific Inquiry: ‘Once you’ve ruled out the impossible, what’s left. no matter how dumb-sounding, must be the answer.’ Look that one up. I have a ship to board.

problems problems

“P.T.A APT to TAP PAT: Cites her ATP Research”

This headline from the Tyrone (PA) Tattler caught my eye. Here’s the little piece in full:

tattler clip

Wu: Caught your eye, huh?
Me: Yeah. Something fishy about Tyrone
Wu: ‘The place caught my nose’, you shoulda said. That paper-mill smell…
Me: What? You been there?!
Wu: Yeah like forty years ago. You don’t forget that aroma. Walk down the street holding your breath. Makes ya light-headed.
Me: Hey remember the sign when you come in on Route 220. “Welcome back. Smells like Home, ain’t?”
Well, we were just passing through. There was a Ry Cooder concert there.
Me: You were at that show?! At that old Zembo Mosque-wanna-be joint? What a small world. ‘Course they had him billed as ‘Jimmy and the Ry-tones’. His label didn’t want to endanger Ry’s reputation, playing in Tyrone, you know.
Wu: Yeah, but everybody knew anyway. It was in The Tattler©.
Me: Oh boy, Do I remember that scene! Warner’s sued the editor, the editor sued back. Ry hired that tough local girl, what was her name?
Wu: Um.. Damn, I should remember. She’d dropped her business cards all over town from her boyfriend’s Piper Cub… Oh yeah, they said: “Need legal help? Hire Anna Torney. She’s in Tyrone!”
Right you are. And when the judge saw the name, he sent the editor home ‘without lunch money’. so to speak. Still, the return concert, Cooder went with Ry and the Ry-Notes. Just for fun.
Wu: Hey, you know when I was sayin’ about ‘light-headed’? Mebbe that explains it?
Me: Explains what, Wu?
Wu: How a whole town’s got this dumb thing for anagrams, playing with letters. A simple oxygen-shortage.
Me: Wow, could be. I mean, it works for me..
Wu: Don’t I know! …plus a small helping of ethanol.
Me: Ah, speaking of which, the second concert, where I was front-row center, na, na-na na, na. Anyway, they were lined up the whole way back to the parking lot of the old Bible-Believing Baptist Church. They closed a couple years ago, but they still had that sign up: “God don’t come in a Bottle. Tyrone is Not Rye!”
there’s another one. Hey wait! We had a flat tire in town.Fixed it real quick, I remember. Might even have a picture. The place had a big sign out; said “Try One Tyrone Tyre on, and you’ll never Bb again!” I thought it was cute. We stood in front of it. I’ll look for the picture.
Me: Wow, man. This really brings back old times. It’s like we’re still there.
Wu: ‘Cept for the smell.
Me: Yeah, that’s why I subscribe to the paper. The newsprint; brings it all back home.
Wu: You’re weird.

tyrone tyres

Dreamland, Bloody Dreamland

“Sir, where were you on the afternoon of May 13th, 1970?”
I dreaded this question. Somehow I knew it was coming. The two cops looked grim, handcuffs dangling ominously from their belts. I handed them the photo, hoping they wouldn’t notice my arm shaking uncontrollably.

outside hattiesburg
“The hat. Where did you get the hat?” Bad-Cop recognized me in the middle of the back row and pounced on the cheap fedora like a cat-on-a-rat.
“Um, I found it, officer. In Jackson. On the street. I looked both ways.”
Good-Cop cracked a hint of a smile as if to say ‘Humor might get you a year off your time inside.’
“What if I told you we have tapes of the gig?” Bad-Cop again. “Johnny-B-Goode, you plan on learning the words any time soon?”
It all came back. Hey, nobody cared if I faked the lyrics on the third verse. There was a dancing mob, a falling-down of men and women, a spilling of spirits. Lyric reverence? At a time like that?
“Just what am I charged with?” I asked, suddenly feeling my oats.
Cereal-Brain didn’t appreciate the impudence.
“A man died that night. He was found along Highway 10. Found without a hat.” he added for effect.
Good-Cop looked on silently, pity in his eyes. His gaze screamed ‘You’re dead meat, Solberg, if that’s your real name.’
“All I saw was a dead armadillo”.
I volunteered, hoping to divert the line of questioning.
“Wearing a hat?” Bad-guy wouldn’t let go.
“Listen, this is forty years ago, officer. I didn’t kill nobody. Look at this more recent picture. I’m an upstanding citizen.”


Good cop analyzed the photo, looking at it, up and down, then at me, then back to the picture, like they train ’em at the academy.
“Great for peering in windows,” he finally said, then turning to evil-twin: “We got an unsolved voyeur in Jackson County, don’t we?”
“Yessir. 1984. Tall guy. Squeaked when he walked. Cuff him.”
Bad-Cop lit a Newport and pulled out his walkie-talkie as I held out my arms for the manacles.
    But suddenly, I still don’t know what got into me, maybe a feeling of miscarried justice, I gave Good guy all I had; a boot in the groin to die for. He went down  on his back in the gravel. Another quick kick in the face and I grabbed the service revolver, put three slugs in Bad-Guy’s chest first, then thought a half-a-second before finishing off his partner. No one saw, no one heard. Dreams are often like that. All that remained was to smash the radio and place the gun lovingly in the lifeless Good-Cop’s hand. My car started on the first try, for once, and I drove home by a new route, stopping only to post this confession here where nobody ever reads it. Oh, and to buy a new hat.

I Redden the Gnus Today, Oh Boy!

      Yup, Miss Clairol-4-Beasts®, ‘Wine Red’. I’m figuring 2 gallons oughta be enough. My two beautician helpers are gettting psyched up for the event too, and-
Wu: Stop! Enough with your tall tales already.
Me: But I have pictures, Wuzie. The camera don’t lie.Thought you’d appreciate the break from my usual brain stir-fry crap. A little hit of real life

the gnu team .

Wu: Ok, What’re their names?
Me: Whew. Glad you asked. See, the one on the right is ‘Ung’ and the other guy is just…um.. “G.N.U”. Stands for “Gnu, not U; Nix on U”
: All that?
Me: They come when I call, so who cares.
Wu: Nu, what’s your real real-life like?
Me: Oh, you know: get up, get out of bed, drag a comb across my head
Wu: Then what?
Me: Then the head-rabbi stops my car on the way to work. He’s coming back from, er, asking forgivness for blasting my house every friday evening with 7000 decibels of klezmeritus. No seriously, he wants me, for the fifth year now, to tear off the plastic sheeting on his porch, so God can hit him a straight shot on Succot. I have to put it right back on two weeks later, of course.
Wu: Dumb.
Me: Yeah, and he’s all dressed up in this absurd goofy gaberdine ghetto get-up, so I shouldn’t, like, feel comfortable handing him my CREDO.
: You got a CREDO?
Me: Sure. Here, have one:

my credo

Wu: Ouch. a little rough there, no? Oh well, then what happens?
Me: Oh, two missed calls on the cell while I’m taking my tools into the building where I’m working. Some number in Tel Aviv. I call back and get a machine: ‘press 4 for tax-evasion, 7 for money laundering, 99 for a secret agent man.’
: Really?
Me: Yeah. I’m in truth mode here. Scared to death, frankly. Finally the guy calls back and it’s just Avner, a client: says I can do his roof as soon as I get a break. Great, like 2047, with any luck. At least now I know where he works.
The next scare is a call from an authoritative-sounding fellow, asks if I do roofs. I tell him something fuzzy and ask “With whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?” He explains that he got my name from the lumber-yard, lives in town, wants me to do ‘a little change’ on his roof. We meet that evening, since he says he’s not in the country much. Turns out he’s in the air as a 737 pilot for El Al. And the roof job involves a complete remove, re-do, and replace. Hmm.. 2049 looks do-able.
Meanwhile I make my 7:00 PM appointment with Rachamim, who wants me to build a cabin. Well, the cabin grew a bit: it now has two stories. We stand outside and walk the boundaries, watching overhead for the Space Station fly-over, which for some reason doesn’t happen. There goes my reputation for accuracy. I tell him I’ll draw up plans and get back to him before the ‘hagim’ (the holidays). Then I go home and check the date this year. Rosh Hashana September 18th? Yikes. Oh, well, I can always say I meant Yom Kippur, that gives me another ten days.
Wu: I’m beat already
Me: Wait, you still have to do two loads of laundry, feed 10 cats, water 500 plants, and make a half-dozen gruesome stammering fateful phone calls.
Wu: So when did you manage to red the gnus?
Me: What gnus?


These two signs are a block and a half apart. Which explains the conflicting ‘regional‘ spellings of the time-honored name ‘Hertzog’. Or does it?

hertzog  wid a z

hertzog  wid an s



I get most of my mail here addressed to סולנברג. No vowels. Guess you’re just ‘supposed to know’ what it says. Could be ‘Salon-boreg’, though, among twenty-three other possibilities to consider.. That’s a screw (or a bolt, -we have no separate names to tell ’em apart) in the salon. That’s what we call a living-room. Kinda like a saloon, but less so.
But my sympathies today are with dear Mr.Hertzog, who suffers the sad fate of having his name diddled -with by nin-com-poops of the highest calibre. And it’s not like his name is some Yemenite un-pronounceable utterance, which has no Latin-letter tradition of spelling. Google is seemingly beyond our resources here. It’s every sign-maker for himself. The margins of this post are insufficient to render the complete proof of how many ways our little town spells real tongue-twisters like Tchernikovsky (4), or Zamenhof(3). Even the town’s name ‘QADIMA’ -sic- is spelled four ways on as many signs. Gives new meaning to the phrases ‘Gehe veys!‘ (Go figure) and ‘Elohim ye’shmore’) (God save ’em.)
Anyway, I’ll start bitching in earnest, for all the good it’ll do me, when I see this sign:


WU: So, what’s the point?
Me: Some alphabets are ready for prime-time, some ain’t.
WU: Without mentioning any names, of course?
Me: Well, think “It’s got 22 letters, half of ’em redundant doubles, the other half ambigous P/F, B/V, TS/CH two-fer-ones, and spends most of its time trying to ‘borrow’ foreign words for their rumoured cache, oblivious to their accurate meaning, plus on top of these sins, it has no real vowels, and doesn’t even have identifiable ‘spaces’ where the vowels shoulda been…
WU: Hmm.. this sounds familiar.
Me: So the Hebrew spelling of ‘Center Parts’, a dumb car-parts store in Jaffa, can just as well spell ‘Senator Farts’, which is what I thought the sign said.
WU: Ouch. You sound pissed.
Me: No, actually just amused and disappointed. I mean, what if numbers worked by the same sloppy system. You get a phone bill, it says you owe “17” shekels. What, you’re just supposed to know that it’s really “117“?
WU: Good point. I’m gonna write my Knesset member on this.
Me: Good luck trying to spell his name.


Pies in the Skies

    Ok, I’m done reading all those Simon blogs. Ugh. And if I don’t post something new pretty damn soon I’ll risk having Xanga change my Bio from ‘King of the Jews’ to “He claimed he was the king of some jews”.
I do have a lot to say; unfortunately it’s all half-posts.

Explain: A self-respecting sol-blog needs have at a minimum twelve(12)  little jokes. Two of ’em that everyone will ‘get’ plus ten for the cognoscenti.
But  meanwhile, speaking of jokes, here’s one I’ll translate from hebrew,an ancient but somewhat-revived Semitic Language, for  your possible amusement. My current client told it to me while we were holding a dumb, heavy sheet of drywall over our heads. Luckily I got six screws in it before the punch-line….

As usual, start with a Priest, a Khaddi (Muslim cleric) and a Rabbi walking into a bar. {The Bartender says: “What is this, some kind of a joke?” Sorry, delete my little addition}
So anyway, a homeless guy asks the priest how he divides up the charity-money he gets. The Priest replies: “Easy, I draw a line on the ground, throw the money at it; what’s on the right side is God’s, and on the left, mine.”
Turning next to the khaddi, he asks “And you?” The Muslim answers: “I draw a circle in the sand, throw the money kinda that direction, and what’s inside the circle goes to charity, what’s outside I keep.”
The homeless guy at this point has only one other religious leader to query: “Rabbi, how do you do it, you know, among your people?”
The Rabbi doesn’t take long to ponder:”Simple. I throw the money up in the air. What stays up is God’s, what comes back down is mine.” End of story.
Hey, I’d keep this up if I wasn’t in a rush to climb up on my roof and watch the International Space Station plus the shuttle Discovery pass over these Middle Eastern skies, twice:  7:24 and 9:02 PM. Supposed to be visible for like five minutes as they  coast in orbit about 220 miles above the Earth’s surface, the setting sun shining on the giant solar panels. Your money at work. Look Southwest for ascension and North-ish for the disappearance from view. preferred viewing times are all shortly after local sun-down wherever you are, even Australia. 
A simply sublime web-site here, will give your all the data you need to know about when to stand out on the lawn at your house. (It uses your ISP to ‘locate’ you, so as usual AOL victims are lost in ‘Anytown, USA, and will have to specify lat and long). Good viewing, and I’ll update here if I see it!  I’m so excited I think I’ll drink another space-age beer. I threw it as high as I could, but it came back down, so I guess it’s mine.
“In Heaven there is no Beer/ That’s why we must drink it here.

Yes, I just saw it. Brighter than Venus, which you can
see in the East. Exactly on time. Took 5 minutes to go from horizon to horizon. Flashed a couple times, when the sun-angle hit the panels just right. I was on the cell with my 18 yr-old boy, who also viewed history-in-the-making, but with a bit less/ fewer
“See, space-travel isn’t exactly new to us”, he

Jesus, I thought. Ok, we were on the Moon, according to some reports, 40 years ago, but still. It’s not like every day you see a space-station whizzing overhead.
Anyway, highly recommended. Click on the ‘Five day
prediction’ box, plus “show track”. You’ll know when to  get excited. Goes with any liquid refreshment. Before or after. I just made myself a monster sandwich to celebrate. My son probably grabbed a Mars Bar. Whatever works.

Simon says” My Name is..” My name is.

The phenomenon is probably familiar: You hear a word or phrase, maybe for the first time, and then later that day, or for a whole week(!) it seems like you happen to hear it like, everywhere. And not some item legitimately critical or news-worthy, just… um ‘Bader-Meinhoff’, for example.
So I submitted this here Fweatured Qwestion a couple days ago: It had randomly ocurred to me to recall playing ‘Simon Sez’, a childhood game so trivial that one can be embarassed to admit amusement with it.
Hmmm.. Looks like I’m not the only one who heard Simon’s voice from the stratosphere that day. just glance at today’s Front Page!


Dr. WU: Um, this is a spoof, right?

Me: Of Course. ‘That standard of mine”

Dr. WU: So nu, write a Disclaimer

Me: You forgot to say ‘Simon Sez:”

Dr.Wu: Ok, ‘Simon says’

Me: Sorry, too late. Plus, look who’s talking. You’re not even a spoof… or a doctor, in case you thought I didn’t notice.