Monday, August 3, 2015

Vanished in Gaza




Vanished, by Palestinian-British author Ahmed Masoud, takes readers into the besieged Gaza Strip where Mustafa Ouda has mysteriously disappeared.

Omar Ouda lives in London but his heart is in the Gaza Strip. That is where is house is, that is where family members still live. But his home is under fire, in danger due to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, and Omar must return.

But there is more that ties Omar to Gaza. His father, Mustafa Ouda, has been missing since Omar was a boy. One day Mustafa walked out of the family home, apparently after a heated argument with his wife, and the next day he was gone, vanished. Omar sets off to find his father, or at least to learn what happened to him, and that is the main theme of this short, but powerful novel.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

This is Israel, in 60 Seconds

Have you been to Israel? Take a minute, just one minute, to get a quick view of what Israel is all about!



Israel - a modern country based on ancient history. Home to three of the world's major religions - this is the land where King David ruled, where Jesus preached, where the Crusaders waged their battles. Israel has sandy Mediterranean beaches, a ski resort on Mt. Hermon, and stunning deserts.

As the creators of this video state: "From parties to prayers, beaches to bicycles, visitors to Israel can look forward to an unforgettable experience… and great food.

Of course if you visit Israel, you'll see much, much more!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Sidewalk of Coexistence




A short stretch of highway links the Arab town of Abu Gosh with a recently constructed tunnel and intersection on Highway 1, the main artery between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. On the brick sidewalk alongside the road, residents of the varied communities take leisurely walks, family strolls, and exercise runs. Usually smiles are the only thing exchanged, but all realize that this particular piece of Judean Hills landscape encourages peaceful coexistence between neighbors.

Neve Ilan was founded as a moshav shitufi - a cross between a kibbutz and a moshav - by a mixed group of American, other western new immigrants, and native born Israelis. Prime Minister Golda Meir was at the ceremony marking the establishment of the new settlement, which was founded on the remains of a French kibbutz abandoned in the years following Israel's establishment.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Physics of Randomness



By chance I learned about this bestselling Bulgarian novel. The Physics of Sorrow was written by Georgi Gospodinov and just translated into English by the very talented Angela Rodel (she also translated 18% Gray by Zachary Karabashliev). The novel, in its rather unconventional format, is the story of a character inhabiting the mind of his own grandfather in real time. Shared memories. Take this sentence as an example: "A part of me shifted into someone else's body, someone else's story". And this one: "My grandfather in me cannot decide.”

It's hard to say what The Physics of Sorrow (Open Letter, English translation, April 14, 2015) is about. It's about everything and it's about nothing. And there is absolutely no connection between its random parts. Yet, the talented author does the impossible. He connects random subjects and interweaves them into a compelling, logical connectivity that captivates the reader. Or turns the reader away. This book will not appeal to everyone.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Bulgaria exports water to Israel



Breaking news – you heard it here first! Bulgaria, an eastern European country blessed with plentiful rainfall, has begun to export water to Israel.

Bulgaria and Israel have many similarities. For example, Israelis dance the hora, and Bulgarians dance the horo. Israel’s prime minister has a funny nickname – Bibi. Bulgaria’s prime minister has a funny name – Boyko. Bulgaria has many ski resorts; Israel has the Hermon.

But there is one major difference between the two countries, and that difference is water. Even though Bulgaria is situated by only one sea – the Black Sea – and Israel has the Mediterranean, Dead, and Red seas, Bulgaria has more water. Bulgaria gets rain all through the year, while in Israel, rain is a seasonal thing. Bulgaria has many rivers. Israel has only a few and the lower Jordan River doesn’t have much water in it.

In short, why didn’t anyone think of exporting Bulgarian water to Israel before today?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The John Irving Theory of Everything



John Irving is one of my favorite authors of all time. I first read The 158-Pound Marriage when I was in high school and aspiring to weigh at least 150 pounds. Then I read Setting Free the Bears and noticed the regular appearance of bears in Irving’s works. Then I learned of Irving’s connection to the University of Iowa – I am from Sioux City!

Along came Garp. Garp, both of the book and the movie that followed. But before I had a chance to breathe, I fell in love with a hotel named New Hampshire, a cider house, and a circus. And let’s not forget Owen Meany!

Happiness floats!

Yet, despite my love of these amazing books, as an aspiring author the thing I most admired about John Irving was his statement that he wrote the ending first, and then he created the plot for his novel, a story that would reach that concluding line.

Monday, July 6, 2015

10 Most Important Things You Need to Know About Working With Twitter





You'll notice that in the title of this article I wrote "working with Twitter". I do mean "work". If you only plan to use Twitter recreationally, as a pastime, or as a way of shouting out your love of Justin Bieber, read no further. This article is intended for individuals (such as authors, artists, musicians, politicians, etc.) and businesses (big and small) who want to "sell" their products via the Twitter social platform. "Sell" is the wrong word, as I will soon explain.

The following is my Twitter Philosophy. I have over 36,000 Followers, 95% of them real human beings. My followers come from all over the world (although I don't think I have any followers in Antarctica). My followers are lovers of poker, good books, Bulgaria, Israel, marketing, Jewish holidays, television, travel, grandchildren, more good books, and, for the most part, fellow authors, or aspiring authors, just like me.

Read and then follow my example. It's free advice. You can implement my philosophy in five minutes a day, or three hours a day. It doesn't matter. But please, use Twitter properly!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Roller Coaster Ride at Absolute Poker




When Scott Tom, a student at the University of Montana in the late 1990s, first saw an online poker game he said, "This poker website. It's awesome. I mean, the software really sucks and the graphics are horrible… Even though it's crap, there are like fifty people playing. And they're taking a rake from every table, all night long. They're minting money."

Straight Flush by Ben Mezrich relates the "true" story of how Scott Tom and five of his fraternity brothers turned their weekly poker game into an improved version of that rudimental online poker room. Their Absolute Poker room became, at its height, an online empire bringing in revenues of nearly a million dollars a day.

But before the team could stage an IPO to cash in on their good fortune, their empire came crashing down. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 made Absolute Poker take a gamble by leaving its doors open to American players. A cheating scandal in 2007 revealed that someone behind the scenes at the poker room was taking advantage of a super user's ability to see opponents' hole cards. And finally, the U.S. Department of Justice seized control of Absolute Poker's website domain on the infamous Black Friday.

All of that was far ahead in the future in the opening chapters of Straight Flush, which was written by the bestselling author of The Accidental Billionaires (Mezrich's 2009 book which was adapted by Columbia Pictures for the film "The Social Network") and Bringing Down the House (which was adapted into the movie "21").