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The Tasty Bomb Scenario
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Mishloach manot is an ancient Jewish tradition, famous only in Israel, originally meant to feed the poor on Purim, but evolved, in modern days, into a localized version of Secret Santa. Usually not my problem, but after a long break I’ve started working in an office, and the culture shock is especially strong.

It does give me an opportunity to wage my secret war on tradition. I’ll probably get to talking about that some time. Tradition should be re-opened and re-examined, in short, and holidays are a good time to do that. My secret beneficiary is head of the IED department here — that would make him an explosive expert — so I decided to send him a mail bomb.

IMG_6035

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The Tasty Bomb Scenario

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This Just In: Cthulhu Meddles With Israeli Politics
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Israel goes to vote on Tuesday. I wanted geeks to get a little jolt of surprise, maybe pleasure, at the sight of their favorite horror from beyond mixing in local affairs.

Photography by Tanya Hoffman.

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This Just In: Cthulhu Meddles With Israeli Politics

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The Herd that Grazes on Mountain View Lawns
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// Two things happened this week that made me think of the following column – the first I wrote for Haaretz on June 2013. The first is that Google kind of announce its social network Google Plus, will go the way of the Wave and the Buzz. The second is that, simultaneously, they’ve sent an email to the old Google Talk desktop app saying their favorite way to communicate has signed on for the very last time. As I was translating the following words to English, I found them to be as fresh as the day I hammered them on my keyboard with my forehead. //

 

I just have to say it, I’m afraid of Google, Google terrifies me, I stay up nights – maybe not the whole night, okay, but a good two-three hours of perfectly good sleep time – being just really scared shitless of Google. I’m not afraid of Google because they’re reading my emails or collecting my WiFi passwords or drinking my milkshake – no. I have good reasons. I’m afraid of Google because half my life goes on, irrevocably and with no chance of parole, within the confines of Google’s many services, and Google, while they say its halls are Segwayed back and forth by the brightest fellows, is sometimes – many times – just a big herd of lummox.

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The Herd that Grazes on Mountain View Lawns

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#offli
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At first the quiet was unnerving. Around the world and all at once browsers stalled, then froze, then GPFed; screens flickered on and off; cursors stuck to their place; a torrent of half-regurgitated, self-reflective musings of millions dwindled very fast, then died forever instantly. Phones died; iPads died; WiFi SSIDs slipped away from this reality, one by one, like bored party guests, unapologetic and hurrying to the door.

We were alone with our thoughts.

It was unnervingly quiet. Normally we would raise a communal cry that would shake the foundations of the earth – like we did on that great Livejournal blackout of 2007, or the smaller, frequent ones on Twitter; but our means to raise such cries were all shut down. The media that would inform us of the tragedy died too. We turned with unfamiliar hands to radio and television but, for the first long minutes after it all flickered away, the old news reported old news. We were indeed alone. Some of us speculated whether this loneliness was how Man lived before – and, shaken, others turned to touch or talk to family and pets.

It was quiet – and then, after many scary minutes, an army of sounds invaded: neighbors’ conversations and the sounds of cars driving by and dogs exchanging howls; and televisions and radios all around, reporting old news. They were all there before, but useless, unheeded. With horror, we asked ourselves where all of that noise hid so far and, then, fearfully, if it would ever go back there again.

Minutes turned into hours, but nothing came back and nothing lived and no one would tell us what happened. We left our devices, dead, on tables, and looked up, and got out, and met IRL, and talked nervously for hours, and listened to neighbors’ conversations and television shows and dogs’ howls.

#offli

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Damnit, Steve
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For some decades now, Steve Jobs was being Steve Jobs so we won’t have to. So now we have to – otherwise the world of technology will once again be ruled by those who “just have no taste, I mean that in a big way, in the sense that they don’t think of original ideas and don’t bring any culture into their product” – unregrettably successful but with “really, third rate products”.

My friend Tomer Lichtash wrote (or remixed) an iKaddish for Jobs. Lots of people payed homage to the dead genius, but of all of them, the only person who’s iMac I destroyed by spilling mediocre Grappa all over it was Tomer Lichtash. They say karma can travel half way around the world. If, by spilling said Grappas on said Lichtash’s iMac ignited the fuse that ended with Job’s demise, I deeply apologize.

Damnit, Steve

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Breakfast
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I drove around and got to your house accidentally. So I sat there with the windows rolled down for the cold night and I looked at your windows, and they were dark. I turned the radio on, I smoked a cigarette, but I was uneasy. I changed the stations, I rolled another cigarette. I put the seat down and I thought perhaps I’ll stay there for the night, and I almost lulled myself down with a thought of how, three years ago, I waited down here on the nearby bench, drinking one of six beers I had in a bag I got from the all-night store, sitting across the street from you like I am now, looking at your windows as I do now, watching your silhouette as you were pacing the room, phone to your ear, trying to get hold of your shrink who was in another country. You told me to get out and I said no, it may have worked with other men but not with me, woman, and you went into a panic attack, and you were pacing, and you were crying, and I was standing there and there was nothing I could do.

So I took my keys and I waited outside and I was looking up the number for your shrink when she’s abroad with my phone on a neighbor’s wifi, and I texted it to you and I watched as you talked and I saw how your pacing eased and calmed as you did. And then I drunk the second beer, the third, the fifth, the last.

I thought of that night and it was a familiar country in my head, and maybe if the cold was less biting just then, it would have been enough, but I was still uneasy, and I got out of the car and I jumped up and down a little, trying to keep quiet and looking at your window. But that didn’t work, and so I got up to your place and broke in, quietly, and sat like a thief in my armchair in your dark living room.

I sat there, staring, betrayed, at your new drapes, twitching my legs and wanting to smoke. I took off my shoes, taking care to leave them neatly by the chair, and I went to your bedroom door and I almost sighed out loud with relief when I saw you were sleeping alone. I don’t know what I would have done that night if I saw you there with somebody. I sat there on the bed next to you, watching you breathe, and breathing with you, and then I lay down, and then I curled into a ball and watched you like this all night, matching a breath for a breath. And as the sun came crawling through the window I got up, very gently, and closed your bedroom door, and I made you a nice breakfast. Quietly as I could, and nothing too fancy. One piece of bread, very lightly toasted, one piece of bread toasted almost black, with the edges cut off, on the edges of the plate, and a simple salad — lettuce I ripped by hand because I couldn’t find a knife, and some cheese — tried to arrange them all nicely on the plate, and I put my shoes on and I closed the door behind me. I often think of it, and about many things like that, and of what you might be thinking to yourself as you’re eating those breakfasts.

Breakfast

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On The Piazza
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A man stands in a semi-crowded piazza. It’s like this every night. Europe. The buildings and the fountain and the people are ornate, ancient. Maybe eastern Europe. I’m standing there and listening to him. A couple of ancient people do the same.

He’s got keen eyes, twinkling. He’s holding a typewriter to his chest between both hands. Not hugging. His fingers dance on the keyboard. He’s playing the typewriter as he would play the accordion. He’s good. In my head his music sounds good. Other people in the piazza seem to agree: some woman says somewhere, “He’s a poet!” He’s got a hat laid out on the sidewalk, but facing down. In this strange, good music, it seems reasonable to assume the hat is being worn by someone who just finished drowning himself in the piazza. He’s got a cardboard sign next to the hat. It says “Remember to use punctuation!” Like that, with the exclamation. More and more people gather to hear the poet. He’s probably Charles Bukowski. His fingers glide effortlessly over his instrument. I’m trying to catch his gaze but his eyes glide too, like his fingers, over me, over each man and woman in the crowd. Now there’s a real crowd, yeah, and they push me back, now I have to stand on tip toe to try and catch a glimpse of these gleaming eyes. The music changes.

You’ll never got out of the piazza, I’m thinking.

On The Piazza

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The House (M.D) Does Indeed Always Win
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Why wouldn’t there be another casino-beating, stake-shuffling Ocean caper – an Ocean 14? According to an IMDB contributor, Steven Soderberg gave up on the idea after Bernie Mac’s — Frank Catton — untimely death.

Cause of Mac’s death? Well, he did have Sarcoidosis. But he died of pneumonia.

The House (M.D) Does Indeed Always Win

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Meditations In Emotional Transcendence
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Is life covertly good?

It may very well be, and our perspective being what it is we may never be able to find out. This shabby room, its peeling paint, the curtains tattered and gray with dust — it may be happily sheltering us from a dark storm raging outside, but we can’t tell; the yellowing blinds are drawn.

Our friends may love us, we don’t know; all we know is that we hate them.

There may be hope for everything: are dreams might be still intact. We see the crack that runs through them. There’s no way of telling how deep it goes.

And love might just be lurking happily around that corner, but what face will it assume once get there? How will we know, with all the faces staring blankly just around each corner of each city, which of them was sent for us? And if it is indeed the right corner? We are all like packages sent for each other, but all our post labels fell; now we wander aimlessly, bump like atoms, and we can’t even ask: excuse me, am I for you? Are you for me?

Meditations In Emotional Transcendence

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Repetition: an Excerpt from “This Was Last Year”
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They were jumping out of every window when the fire got bad, high story windows too. I’m almost sure I see them through thick billows of smoke. Others were climbing down from bottom story windows, clawing their way out of doorways through half-ajar doors. The air was full of screams. It was eighteen eighty two. We were ten men from the Fourty-Ninth Fire Brigade, in hard hats and tar-covered jackets. It was a summer day and it was beutiful. We had two horse-drawn fire carriages but no horses.
Continue reading “Repetition: an Excerpt from “This Was Last Year””

Repetition: an Excerpt from “This Was Last Year”