Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

An ant story (from early 2002)

April 6, 2012

Here is a story I wrote one night when I was studying in Israel.
One night I couldn’t sleep, so I went from the dorm room to the courtyard. I found swarm of large ants carrying a gigantic Israeli roach to its final resting place. As I watched, this story ended up on my paper.

I copied it how it’s written (aside for some minor spelling corrections) even though some of the puns are cringe-worthy. I’m also maintaining the original paragraph structure.

There was an ant named Richard.
But his friends would call him Adam
Because he was lazy as man.
Every morning his parents would wake him up.
“But the sun isn’t even up”, he’d complain.
“By the time you finish breakfast it will be light out.
“Besides, the early bird gets the worm and the early ant gets the bird.”
The problem with ants is they don’t have seats.
From the time they awake till the time they go to sleep
They are forced to stand on all 6 of their feet.
Richard enjoyed sleep. Sleeping on his back, with his head on a soft pillow. He couldn’t want till evening, so he could eat a quick supper and go to sleep.
One day Adam was going collecting, he was trying to find food
When he came across a TV that a mouse had thrown out.
It had a remote control, so he could watch without getting up.
Thrown out with the set was a perfectly good bag of stale caramel popcorn, so Adam didn’t starve. On the contrary, he grew quite fat.
(The other problem with ants is when they get fat, they aren’t horizontally challenged, but vertically challenged; and that made it sound like Adam was short, which isn’t true.)
When he shoved off for his hole (shlepping his popcorn behind him), he discovered he was too girthy to fit down the ant hole.
“Help me! Make the hole bigger, please!” Adam requested.
“If you want something done, do it yourself”, said Smithers, the ant guard.
Instead, Adam dragged his bag of popcorn a few feet away and cried.
Suddenly, an anteater came along and ate the whole ant colony.
He couldn’t smell Richard, because he smelled like caramel popcorn.
Richard cried for a few minutes. (That’s another problem with ants. They don’t have tear ducts, so when they cry, all they do is blink a lot. Although most ants are too busy to realize they are sad, and by the time they go to sleep at night they have forgotten why they were sad (Ants don’t have the greatest memories, which explains why they keep trying to go on my picnic blanket even though I chased them off about 3,713 times.) which is why ants seldom cry.)
When he finished crying he dragged his bag back by the TV and began watching again.
Adam watched TV for 2 straight months! (When his popcorn was finished, he discovered an old hot dog nearby, so he was never want of food.)
One afternoon when he was asleep (during the afternoon news), a pesky rabbit jumped by, pulling the plug and bringing the TV down with a crash. Adam woke up with a start. Realizing his loss, he began to cry again. The rabbit said, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t see the plug. Maybe if you play with the chip it’ll work.”
“Are you crazy?” Adam lashed out “It’s broken. But chips, now that sounds good.”
Now the TV had broken and the pieces lay all over the floor. Adam sniffed around, found a chip, and ate it. “Eww. This is horrible. It tastes like a chip off an old block. Oh well, at least it’s worth two in the bush.”
Suddenly, Adam felt queasy, he felt statically, but then he was picking up the channels normally. And, whenever he couldn’t get a good reception, he’d just adjust his antenni until he got a clear picture.
He died 3 years later, when he refused to pay his electric bill and they cut off his service, leaving him a shell of his former self.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Wedding and Israel

December 7, 2010

I spent a lot of time researching the best time to take my vacation this Winter. I negotiated with my managers over the course of three weeks before we settled on dates.
Finally, on November 1, 2010 I purchased my tickets to fly to Israel on January 23, 2011 and to New York on February 6, 2011.

I informed my parents and siblings of my plans and I let my ex-wife know that I would be unavailable during those two weeks.

One of my younger sisters decided to accept a marriage proposal just prior to Thanksgiving.
A couple of weekends ago she warned me that they were considering a January 30th wedding. I informed her that I already purchased my ticket and if they held it that date, I probably wouldn’t be there.

On Friday December 3, 2010 she informed that they did, in fact, book the wedding for January 30th.*

I didn’t want to change my plans, but I felt like I was “required” to research my options. I called the airline. They told me I’d be charged a minimum of $250.00 to change my flight plans.
I spoke to my management. They didn’t want to be blamed (how they phrased it) for keeping me from attending my sister’s wedding, so they agreed to re-open negotiations to plan my vacation dates. However, they made it clear that they wanted me to go on vacation sooner rather than later.

(Basically, they expect a lot of projects to begin in February 2011, so they want all hands on deck.)

I called my brother in Israel to find out what he was doing and to hear what he thought. He’ll be coming in for her wedding. He offered to let me use his apartment while he’s away (especially if his whole family travels with him). He agreed that I am not obligated to change my plans because they knew the situation before they chose January 30.


* When I ask people advice, they usually ask why is she getting married so soon after meeting the guy and why does she need to get married on that particular weekend?
I haven’t spoken to her about it. However, I think my dad is imposing his belief that engagements should be short. This belief might work for ultra-Orthodox Jews and its practice might be appropriate for people who buy into that way of life, but I think it’s a mistake for my sister.
My sister is a sincere, god-believing, ethical, Orthodox-practicing, commandment keeping person. But she is not ultra-Orthodox.
She should have a “normal” Orthodox engagement period of 3 to 6 month. I hope I’m wrong, but I believe that this shortened time line will have negative repercussions.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Planning Winter Vacation

September 21, 2010

Dear virtual friends in Israel,

I’ve officially scrapped my Winter road trip and I am, instead, going to Israel from January 23rd until February 5th.
Would you be interested in meeting up with me, hanging out, singing karaoke, and/or showing me around your neighborhood?

If you have a specific date/time that works best for you, please let me know so I can schedule it.

I appreciate your feedback.

Thank you,
Alar Bean

The Tug Of War Tour

February 18, 2010

I attended the The Tug Of War Tour on Tuesday evening. I didn’t watch any of the youtube videos or read about it (aside from this interesting article).

All I gathered about the show was it featured a Muslim guy and gal and a Jewish guy and gal engaging in debate through the mediums of poetry and hip hop. I wasn’t sure how much tension there would be or whether I would find listening to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be entertaining.

The show, produced by @ffidler, was held at the Nuyorican Poets Café. The bouncer at the door let me in 30 minutes early because of the foul weather. This was fortuitous, as I accidentally miscalculated how much time I had between the movie and the Tour.

The show kicked off with a drum solo by Swiss Chris. The solo was impressive. He drummed on everything in his area. (His use of drumsticks that continuously changed colors was nice eye candy in the dim room.) The floor, a chair, curtains, oh, and, a drum set. He was very energetic and talented. His ability to twirl his drumsticks while simultaneously keeping a beat was impressive.
My only criticism is from where I sat, in the back, left corner, I wasn’t able to see a lot of the drum performance. (Especially when he was drumming lower than knee level.) If the stage had been elevated it would have been better. However, that’s a limitation of the venue, not the performer.

After the drum solo, the emcee, Simply Rob, introduced the women. They got up on stage, with their scripts in hand. They seemed slightly awkward standing in public and reading off a script, but only for the first few moments. They quickly got into their roles. They promised in their introduction (deliver in rhyme) that they aren’t here to kill each other or sing “Kumbaya my lord”. They suggested that through poetry they could express their own perspectives and understand the emotions of the other.

The two women, Tahani Salah, an American Palestinian-Muslim, and Vanessa, the @hebrewmamita, an American Jew of Syrian-Russian ancestry, had completely different modes of dress. While they both wore sweat-like stretchy pants, Tahani Salah wore a head covering, while the Hebrew Mamita wore a sleeveless shirt.
Both women are attractive. (Later, when I watched the youtube video for the event, I saw that she wore a jacket or a longer sleeved shirt in a prior performance. On Tuesday evening, she did not. I had to concentrate on the words she was saying, because otherwise my mind would have drifted to more physical things.)

After they finished, Simply Rob introduced the men, Mazzi, a Persian Muslim, and Sneakas, an Israeli Jew. (Mazi wore jeans. Sneakas wore purple pants. The pants fit in perfectly with his word play.) They came out and introduced themselves with a lively hip hop beat and dance.

The Hebrew Mamita, got up and recited a heartfelt poem about her inability to defend Israel for its actions. It was obvious she’d wrestled with her Zionism and her humanism and found a conflict between them.
And, so it went, a serious introspective poem by one of the woman followed by a lighter hip hop piece. This is a clever way to keep the audience from burning out on serious things or losing themselves to the rhythm and incapable of following the deeper message.

One exception was a piece performed by the men, in which they explored what an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian terrorist are thinking in the moments leading up to a conflict. That was almost completely serious and the crowd was moved by how it progressed.
Both of the women delivered a piece that really didn’t fit with the evening. The Hebrew Mamita spoke about her aunt and her Sephardic heritage. And, while I think that a discussion among Jewish people about the treatment of Sephardim is important, it didn’t seem to fit the theme of the Palestinian-Israeli relationship. Tahani Salah spoke about her relationship with her father. She added a bit at the end to make it connect to the overall struggle, but I think she lost some of the audience by taking a long time getting there.
However, their poems were highly entertaining and full of emotion.

There was one part where both women stood on stage, back to back. First, the one facing the audience spoke. When she finished, they exchanged places and the other spoke. This was my first artistic performance, so I don’t know if that is a common artistic device. The women didn’t appear to be addressing each other, so I didn’t understand the need for the dramatic pose.

I especially liked:

  • The Hebrew Mamita’s story about getting an abusive text message on Passover night. She had a great observation that her youtube channel is often attacked by a religious Orthodox Jew for her dress and words. When she said, he (the attacker) watches everything she makes, I laughed.
  • Tahani Salah’s pieces. The one that resonated most with me was when she pointed out that most people would have a hard time telling an Israeli from a Palestinian. Underneath it all, all we are is humans.
  • Mazi’s energy. It’s not easy for me to dance in a room full of people dancing. Mazi put on a solo dance performance that made me want to jump up and dance along!
  • Sneakas’ word play. Not only were his puns and word tweaking funny, they were also insightful.

Overall, I had a really good time. The performances were entertaining from beginning to end. I was struck by the energy of all the performers. I wish the show had dug more into the motivations of why each side acts the way it does, but, I understand the limitations they face in keeping it entertaining, not too heavy, and mainstream. I would highly recommend this to anyone who can think critically. If you are scared of the possible tension of the two opposing viewpoints, don’t be! Come, see for yourself. You won’t be disappointed. I give it 8 out of 10.