Frivolous Murders and Frivolous Media

The Israeli media is reporting an incident that happened yesterday, in which a man stabbed another man to death in an argument over a parking space. All the major media outlets mentioned the parking space in their headlines, in an attempt to give the frivolous killing a reason.

This approach is ubiquitous in the Israeli media and is something I just cannot comprehend: When a son killed his own mother – does it even matter that ‘it was because she did not buy him a computer‘? When a man was killed in a robbery – does it even matter that ‘the robber got away with only 100 Shekels‘?

Is there an amount of money that makes the killing justifiable or understandable in the public’s eye? Do carcasses tease each other six feet under, saying thing like ‘Hey, at least I was killed for a couple thousand bucks’?

Can I Get A Napkin Please?

Upon watching a musical for the first time many people find it a bit weird when a thespian just breaks out into a song in the middle of a conversation. Once a viewer accepts this as an externalization of the character’s feelings, it becomes a natural tool of the genre. How about if people just broke into a song in real life? That’s a whole different ball game, and is exactly what sixteen Improv Everywhere agents set out to do this week.
This New-York group, now a global movement, whose aim is to cause scenes of chaos and joy in public places, gained international notoriety last January, when two hundred agents just froze up in New-York’s Grand Central Station and did not move for five minutes.

This week’s stunt, which was done in a food court of an LA mall, was a rare occasion where the group actually asked management’s permission beforehand. This allowed the group to practice the night before, hook up wireless microphones to the PA system, and hide video cameras behind two-way mirrors, unbeknownst to the patrons and staff of the mall.
The result is spectacular:


Can I Get A Napkin (Please) – Improv Everywhere – Lyrics

Cashier: Lemonade,
Spilt across the countertop
There’s ice and lemons everywhere now
I gotta clean it up!
Can I get a napkin please?
I’m gonna need some just like these
I’ve got three or four
But I might need more
Can I get a napkin please?!  
Mustard guy: Aw man!
Can I get a napkin too, by chance?
I have spilled some mustard on my pants
What a pain!
It’s a shame!
This is probably gonna stain
If I don’t get a napkin
Cashier: We both need napkins that’s a fact
Mustard guy: That’s true!
It’s napkins that we lack  
Cashier: We’re agreed
We’re in need  
Mustard guy: On our knees we humbly plead
Can we get a napkin please!  
Both: Can I get a napkin please?
We promise that we’re not wasting trees  
Cashier: I’ll take one from you
Mustard guy: And this hot girl too
Both: Can I get a napkin please?
Mother: I need a napkin!
I’ve got an infant in my arms
And I don’t mean to cause alarm
She just hurled
On my pearls
She’s my darling little girl
But can I get a napkin?  
Janitor: I’m the janitor
The working man you all ignore
Sweeping up this dirty floor
Boy, my left foot sure is sore
And I
Just want a chance
To show the world
That I can dance  
All: Can we get a napkin please?
Security guard: What the hell is goin’ on here?
Cashier: We need more napkins!
Security guard: I’m on it!
Get me some napkins up here stat
The lower food court’s where I’m at
Listen up
Girls and guys
I am authorized
To search you for napkins  
All: Can we get a nap…
Can we get a nap…
Can we get a napkin, please?
We promise that we’re not wasting trees
This cashier
Right here
Needs assistance, that is clear
Can she get a napkin…  
Charlie Todd: Here’s a napkin.
Cashier: Please!



Enjoy the playback:

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Nobody Puts Swayze in a Corner

Following the troubling news about Patrick Swayze’s pancreatic cancer, and after reading Perez Hilton’s suggestion for a gesture, I thought I would do one better and watch Swayze’s hit movie ‘Dirty Dancing’ again – as I have only watched it once, 21 years ago.

A couple of nostalgia notes:
1. I first watched the movie when it came out in 1987 in the local cinema in my hometown. The coming of age of Baby (Jennifer Grey) was also my generation’s coming of age, and as 300 people left the cinema that evening (this is before the tiny cineplexes came around), all the boys wanted to be Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) and all the girls wanted to be with Johnny Castle.
2. Patrick Swayze’s song ‘She’s like the wind’, played when Johnny is forced to leave the vacation resort, was the song we all slow danced to in 4th grade. I can still remember the birthday party in which I danced to it for the first time with Amit Sadeh who would later be my first girlfriend and my partner to many other firsts that year.
3. While I knew it was inconceivable, for years I was certain that Swayze is singing ‘She’s outta Ma’alit’ (elevator in Hebrew). Have a listen before you dismiss it:

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Okay, so he actually sings ‘She’s outta my league’ – but my English skills did not peak until later on.
4. For years I was certain that Jennifer Grey and Sarah Jessica Parker are the same person. It may sound silly, but I think I tracked down a number of extenuating circumstances:
First, I think there is a general similarity between the two, which goes beyond the nose:
Left: Jennifer Grey (1987) – Right: Sarah Jessica Parker (1984)
Left: Jennifer Grey (1987) – Right: Sarah Jessica Parker (1984)

Second, both actresses played in the big dancing movies of the Eighties: Grey in Dirty Dancing (1987) and Parker in Footloose (1984).
Last, Matthew Broderick surely agrees with me, as he dated both actresses, was engaged to Grey and ended up marrying Parker.
Aside: Grey played Broderick’s sister in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), after which the two became romantically involved – Does that count as an incestuous relationship?

A couple of notes following my seeing the movie in 2008:
1. Even by today’s standards it is a very entertaining movie, although the protagonists are not given enough time to grow. This is especially evident when Baby delivers her memorable line about being “scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life, the way I feel when I’m with you”, which seemed to me as appearing too soon in the relationship.
2. Only after seeing the movie as an adult did I finally notice how Jewish the film is. All of a sudden it dawned on me that the only guests at Kellerman’s are the Housemans, the Pressmans, the Schumacher, and even “on the west porch, we have a symposium by Rabbi Maurice Sherman”. Then again, my only Catskills experience is watching PBS’s The Jewish Americans series.
3. I was surprised that twenty years later I vividly remember a lot of scenes from the movie, including tiny gestures by Baby like the double take on the bridge, the squinty head nod before the climactic lift, Johnny’s sweaty look after jumping off the stage – and worst of all, the entire chorus of the Kellerman’s Anthem (…voices, hearths and hands…).
Memorable Dirty Dancing scenes (from left to right): Baby's double take on the bridge, Johnny's sweaty look after jumping off the stage, the Kellerman's Anthem, Baby's squinty head nod before the climactic lift.

Hope Swayze gets well soon – I am off to watch Ghost (1990).

International Women’s Day 2008 in Israel – Follow-up #2: Tel-Aviv Bar Association

The day before yesterday we learned that the Israeli parliament celebrated International Women’s Day by teaching its female members self-defense. This evening the Tel Aviv District Committee of The Israel Bar Association will try to top that:
Let us play a game called What Is The Name of The Tel-Aviv Bar Association’s Main Event On IWD 2008?

Is it:

  • “Equal Pay, Equal Rights – The Advancement of Women in Israel”
  • “Sexual Slavery and Human Trafficking In Israel”
  • “An Enriching and Amusing Lecture about Styling, Make-Up and Hair”

Whether you can read the following invitation in Hebrew or not – deep down you already know the answer:
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Infant Bereavement Photography on NBC’s Today Show

NBC’s Today Show had a segment today on Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a network of volunteer professional photographers who create portraits of terminally ill newborns at the family’s request and free of charge:

Trent Reznor Puts Another Nail in the Music Industry’s Analog Coffin

[singlepic id=46 w=320 h=240 float=right]American industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, like Radiohead and others before them, have just released their new album in digital format absolutely free of charge. Band leader Trent Reznor explains: “I’ve been considering and wanting to make this kind of [instrumental] record for years, but by its very nature it wouldn’t have made sense until this point. This collection of music is the result of working from a very visual perspective – dressing imagined locations and scenarios with sound and texture; a soundtrack for daydreams. I’m very pleased with the result and the ability to present it directly to you without interference. I hope you enjoy the first four volumes of Ghosts.” (emphasis mine)

Listen to the ninth track off the first (and free) volume:

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Now go download it yourself.

I Held My Breath, Everything Is Perfect Now

[singlepic id=44 w=300 h=240 float=right]This week’s episode of The L Word (509: Liquid Heat), ended with an amazing sequence that cross-cut the characters during a heat wave power blackout. The intensity of the erotic ending was greatly enhanced with music by Freezepop    , an American synthpop band, whose song ‘Swimming Pool’ is by far the most moving piece of music I have heard in years.

Have a listen:

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Freezepop – Swimming Pool – lyrics

Buy this MP3 track or buy the entire album.

Late at night, the air was cool
We snuck into the swimming pool
You dove headfirst, I waded in
The scent of chlorine upon our skin

The stars were bright, the water clear
I felt your heat as you swam near
I held my breath, you held my hand
Moving away, further from land
The moon was full, everything blue
The water stilled, reflecting you
Floating right here with you next to me
Gazing at stars, we drift silently

Late at night, the air was cool
We snuck into the swimming pool
I went under and you followed
Let’s not think about tomorrow

Everything is perfect now (x8)

Everything is perfect now – I held my breath
Everything is perfect now – You held my hand
Everything is perfect now – Moving away
Everything is perfect now – Further from land
Everything is perfect now – The stars were bright
Everything is perfect now – The water clear
Everything is perfect now – I felt your heat
Everything is perfect now – As you swam near

Everything is perfect now (x4)

This track is from Freezepop’s ‘Future Future Future Perfect’ album. You can buy this MP3 track or buy the entire album.

International Women’s Day In The Knesset: Up Was Down, Black Was White, Good Was Bad, Day Was Night

What kind of a bizarro world do we live in when International Women’s Day is celebrated by the Israeli parliament by giving female Knesset members self-defense lessons?
Female MKs get self-defense lesson to celebrate 2008 International Women's Day
I am all for female empowerment but I have to wonder whether the legislative branch became so toothless that the message it wants to convey to the female citizens can be broken down to:

  • men are coming to harm you
  • the country cannot/would not defend you
  • better learn to scream ‘no!’ and prepare for a fight