Monthly Archives: June 2017

My opponent folded after the first round!

I was ‘cautiously optimistic as I parked in the lot down near Hertzlia. Channel 2 TV’s studios are satisfyingly dis-organized, but in an good way.
Shira, a friend (ok, ‘spy’), works there in make-up caught my gaze on the way in, gave me a sly ‘thumbs-up‘ and mouthed ‘Vowels‘ With that I knew it might  end well.
‘The Language Games’ they call the show. Every two weeks a new ‘pair’ of tongues face off. Richness, expressive capabilities, adaptability to the modern era seem to have been the gist of the ‘secret’ questions on previous episodes which I watched in an effort to prepare. Having being assigned ‘English’ in a battle against ‘Hebrew’ I was betting on at least a TKO.
What I wasn’t ready for was the identity of my Opponent(!) Also a secret   ( a deliberate TV-biz strategy meant to foster drama, surprise, and authentic demeanor) I recognized her immediately. A truly worthy contender, a long-since Israeli-immigrant technical writer, fluent as expected from someone of her high-octane background in both the competing languages.
We shook hands, which oddly required two takes(?) Later on I guessed that the the director, who’d changed the camera angles between shots, was less than thrilled by the thinly-disguised look of pity on my face. Damn! Had I not lip-read the ‘Vowels’ clue from Shira, I coulda done a nice little ‘Pity me, a lamb to the slaughter’ shrug.
At any rate, enough suspence:

After the opening splash-clip (loud as hell on the monitors; Israelis love to turn everything up to ten(!), we were seated at two tables, split-screen, I assume. The ‘letter-turner girl, her outfit a perfect shade chosen to contrast with the drapes, handed us each a generous quantity of blank cards, and the ‘Talent’, (the announcer/moderator) gave us the First challenge:

“Here are two letters, roughly equivalent in both languages. You have 5 minutes to write all the words createable from them. Go!”

Ok, I had ‘F’ and ‘L’, my opponent had ‘Peh/Feh and ‘Lamed’. Sounds fair, no?
Um, not to me!
Note, the same Hebrew character serves for both ‘P’ and ‘F’ depending whether it has a fly-shit dot hiding in the middle. If English were that pathetic it’d be the difference between a ‘part’ and a ‘fart’.
I thought quickly; I could of course ‘pause the action’ (a classic ‘poison-pill’ move I’d used, only in emergencies, way back in the ’70s, when tape-splicing was a total bitch. You demonstratively pick your nose until the Director yells ‘Cut!!‘ If anyone’s curious.
And yet…. and yet we been told clearly that Vowels were Kosher. So I relaxed, almost smelling a walk-over.

Took me all of 20 seconds to legibly print the following list:
FAIL
FALL
FEEL
FELL
FILE
FILL
FOAL
FULL
FUEL
FOUL
FOIL

Note, anyone never actually having been on a game show can be forgiven for the voyeur’s bravado of assuming he’ll remember the capital of Montana under pressure. Cameras churning, stage-hands handing, count-down musics blaring:    in reality you’ll torture yourself for generations, watching the sad clip, the roar of the grease-paint screaming ‘Boise? Bozeman?? Byzantia???

My job finished, I allowed myself to eye the other ‘boxer in the ring’.
She looked glum… Big-time glum. I felt a sympathy, inadvisable in conflict, for her gruesome Fate.

Two cards. ‘That all she wrote’, as they say.
After the commercial break, the judges compared our entries:
Hers were, in toto;
‘P(i)L’ (pronounced ‘peel’ it’s the generic name for an elephant
And… ‘F(u)L (‘Fool’: a lima bean.
Yup. ‘Meager/Meagre does come to mind…

The Moderator walked over to shake my hand, while yada-yada-ing the script-tease for the next round “coming right up, after this!”

But Susan had had quite enough! One of the surest ways to declare ‘end-of-interview’ is the thud in the Audio engineer’s cans when the ‘victim’ ‘drops’ the lapel stick-on mic on the desk.
A hint of a tear in her left eye told me that the studio all-purpose shmooze-team, already approaching her position with consolation in their body language, might not convince her to recant.
I listened discretely to their entreaties… and her remonstrations. And by the time she swiped her hand across her throat and switched to the Spanish ‘No Mas!’ familair to boxing fans, I knew I’d likely be fighting ‘Road 2’ traffic the wrong direction back home after ‘an early dismissal.’

Epilogue: The show, to my disappointment or relief (choose one) was never aired. It may still be in the vaults (or the Cloud) as we speak under the Heading ‘Vowels: don’t leave home without ’em!’
And I did manage to contact her a week later by phone. A sigh of relief hearing her up-beat ‘bounce-back-from defeat’ take on the incident.

“Next time you’l wear the fucking Dead Sea Scroll-down trunks, and I’ll be da Vowel-Goddess! Float like a butterfly; sting like a bee! I’m the Greatest”
In English at least, I couldn’t even start to argue with her point. Not that I’m working on a rematch. although losing to a sweetheart like her does have a certain charm.

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Google News Feed RIP.

In sadness and disgust I must report on the Death of the almost-perfectly functioning real-time news-aggregation site which made my life worth living for several years.
I search for metaphors:
As with Drumpf’s wrecking-ball to any sense of normalcy and continuity, the feeling of helplessness predominates while staring aghast at Google’s horrid ‘Play-Skool’ replacement, ‘rolled-out’ with not even the hope of impeachment or ‘reversion’. It’s as if the internet ‘hardware store’ , as of yesterday, offers only Fischer-Price gaily-painted plastic hammers

Evil, detailed:
1) Density of real content has been totally eviscerated: Two or three ‘Headlines for You’ now fill the entire infantile page, surrounded by enough ‘white-space’ to contain every proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem ever proffered. (The previous format had 20 stories on a single page)

2) The victimized Reader now scrolls down half-way to Kankakee just to discover that Kim Car-Dash-Board’s Butt (sp?) is the big story today.

3) The vital ‘first-sentence’ quote following a citation which once allowed an astute reader to quickly decide, or not, to spend bytes and time on an article is Gone!

4) Also Gone is the vital functionality of clicking on an article… then with a simple ‘X’ returning to one’s place in the story.

These are just the first stand-out disappointments. Criticism of the re-format on the forums is almost wall-to-wall, a satisfying reinforcement of my own impressions. Yet..

Q: What is to be Done?

A: Nothing. No way to revert, to change the Google-meisters’ ‘election-results’.
I’ve watched almost every sleek, trim, and usable site succumb to this cancer over the years: Among them Xanga, the on-line sites of my Elec Co, Bank, Visa, etc. Only Stat Counter, my tracker, run by non-deplorables apparently, has done updates which actually improved functionality. My Bank, in contrast, now wastes half the page tormenting me to update the ‘My Entertainment Budget’ widget.
And so I’m now dead.. but at least un-surprised.’Sad’, as they say.
Did a quick search for a replacement, but like in Woody Allen’s 2nd ‘Lobster falls to the floor’ scene in Annie Hall, none of the contenders have the spark I once trusted.
And, not believing in anything anymore, I guess I just go to law school….

For Christy, ‘Of blessed memory’ -song-

Note: I wrote this almost immediately on hearing the report of the space shuttle Challenger’s demise on Israel morning radio.
Should have, perhaps, waited for the various commissions to determine what went tragically wrong.
Thus, my ‘targets’ in the lyrics are not all equally guilty of any albeit-rhyming deficit.
I do remember, days later, charting out the horn parts and thinking that ‘attention to detail’ was the key to human progress.
But, truly, writing a tune is not rocket-science. And this song, from how many years ago now? might itself have ‘anomalied’ on the pad.
Anyway, a sad incident in the dangerous bizness of getting ‘up there’. May their memories be blessed.

 


Lyrics:

Heard the news; ‘good numbers, this mission can’t miss’
But Dan Rather from the Tower of Babel; now this:
Another oddity, falling into the sea
Was never meant to be

Just a billion-dollar funhouse in outer space
It’s a great leap forward for the human race
Above the burning sand, another master-plan
Turning at our command

I know you people want rock-n-roll jingles
Correct me if I’m wrong?
But somebody’s got to ‘pologize;
get you back where you belong
instru break-

What kind of joker put my money in an orbit like that?
Why don’t you send ’em Chuck Berry and a picture of the Man in the Moon?
I’m almost out of time;
Now I’ll never cross that line
Untill the End of Time

Sell the rights to the runway, baby it’s a wrap.
They say that kids can’t find Alalbama on a map
Maybe some other day
We’ll find an easy way
Till then, we’re here to stay

Heard the news; good numbers, this mission can’t miss
But Dan Rather from the Tower of Babel; now this:
Another oddity, falling into the sea
Of Blessed Memory

 

Oh where is my Amy? -Song-

Writing tunes allows one to construct Saviours.

Yes, in truth, “bliss is a pithy myth”, but if I ever meet her there will be a seminal event of explosive off-the-chart-ness.

Q: So, what’s the song, like, about?
A: Well, for starts, a dearth of vowels in stupid goddamn Hebrew.

Q: For that you need an Angel?
A: I didn’t claim to be normative; and yeah, at least someone to understand the utter depth of the hole I live in.

Q: And ‘John Deere’?
A: Ok, That verse is simple word-play. Amy will likely at least chuckle. I die to see her smile…

Q: And the ‘A mighty Fortress’ steal?
A: General malaise; what does religion even mean anymore in a country like the USA where folks have got vowels piled in the aisles?

Q: Think you’ll ever meet her?
A: Not too probable. I’ve waited 39 years and 119 days now for a Second Coming. All I can do is hope and pine for her.

 Anyway, we all likely seek a special Understanding Angel. In the person of a winged creature…. or even from discovering that the the supermarket now carries our favorite Philly cream cheese or ‘Goldfish’.
Like with ‘Rosebud, I’ll probably learn someday that the buyer for the chain was named ‘Amy'(!) So much for pathos.

Lyrics:

-Phone robot message-

Amy, oh Amy, Oh my Amy:
Just aim me homeward
Where the vowels lay in piles in the aisles
And a rose is a rose, not a ‘ruse’
and there’re rows of ’em
Raising their spirits, a reason to rise

Every morning I feel more like mourning here
Mortgage is bondage
I bagged up my baggage
My luggage was lost by El Al
So I make-do with roughage
Women only want sufferage
Men just want coverage…

John Deers are green
Though the hue’s got detractors
Farmall’s too formal
for a number of factors

Dearborn’s been been born again
Skokie’s got Voltaire in a manger scene
posing with reindeer(?)
Been wondering: ‘Why are we here?
I’ll ask Amy; an’then I’ll get back to you
Bliss is a pithy myth
That much I know
No, no body was home when I called
so I left her this message; we’re back to the top
Oh my Amy!

 

‘Bi-polar Bear’: The song’s either half-full or half-empty, depending on mood:

Can’t remember why I didn’t finish this tune. Must have lost the spark, that essential joy of living without which one lies in bed, unable to even recall what good times might have felt like.
Friends console you with ‘Don’t worry, be happy’ and equivalent cliches. You appreciate the effort, but are now even more depressed; can’t even trust a pop aphorism these days!

Of course the feeling is transitory. A second verse will splash into your newly-optimistic skull in a blinding reverie some day. Not to worry. Oh, and so ‘be happy!’, meanwhile. Maybe try forced smiling? As if gawking at yourself in the mirror as a ‘What, me worry?‘ gargoyle is the path to recovery(!)

Anyway this tune is a hypothetical case of the singer having opted to exit, to give up on ‘fixing’ his once-huggable dear one. Sadness.

But playing the violin parts is its own reward. Safely in Seattle
Second verse gladly accepted.

Lyrics:

Bye polar bear, I’m headed for the Orient.
I know it’s not fair
But that’s the way the story went
I ride on your see-saw
Saw it wasn’t funny
Don’t like it like that;
You can keep the money

By the time you read this message in a bottle
I’ll be sleeping in Seatle, dicking with the throttle
Break it up, break it down, ahh 
shake it all around
‘Bye, Polar bear’