Wednesday, November 20, 2019

"Children of the Silent Revolution" – documentary review

The Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989 - a pivotal event which led to the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of the Cold War. Just one day later, the Bulgarian Communist Party ousted the country’s dictatorial leader Todor Zhivkov. The date is considered the beginning of Bulgaria’s transition to democracy. A change in power without bloodshed. “No violence, no victims.” A silent revolution.

For Bulgarians, doors to the West opened overnight. Travel was no longer restricted; the future was possible elsewhere in Europe and in America. How would Bulgarians handle their newfound freedom?

The documentary film “Children of the Silent Revolution” centers on a tightknit group of eight classmates from the central Bulgarian town of Kazanlak as they finish high school in 1995 and take their first steps into a rapidly changing world. They were “18-year-old kids, drunk with youth, in love with life, and eager to grasp their future.”

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

A Cow’s Tale - short story excerpt

Many of his fellow kibbutzniks thought it a bit odd that Shimmy, the veteran and gray-haired raftan, had a favorite cow. Shimmy had worked in the refet for as long as anyone could remember and had extensive knowledge of the cows in his care, their eating habits, and their milk production capabilities. But to think that of all the animals in the herd, one cow stood out as his favorite, and possibly received his special attention, was strange to say the least.

Mazal was a special cow, or at least that was what Shimmy argued in his defense. Just look at her, he would say, and one could not help but notice Mazal’s unique coloring. She was almost an albino with her alabaster flesh and the pink coloring around her mouth and eyes. She stood out in sharp contrast from the rest of the black and white spotted Holstein herd. Only a splash of darkened flesh thrown on one of her hind legs almost as an afterthought spoiled Mazal’s stark white appearance.

There was more than just her coloring that made Mazal special, Shimmy pointed out. Her name meant ‘luck’ and she had lived up to her namesake by becoming a very productive member of the herd. The udders of the white matron provided countless liters of pure white milk in each of the three daily milkings.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Review of 'An Elegant Theory' by Noah Milligan

You don't have to be a student of Quantum Physics to understand the underlying science of the novel An Elegant Theory by Noah Milligan (Central Avenue Publishing, November 2016).

Even if you failed Physics in high school, you’re likely to grasp the Many-Worlds theory suggesting that there is a parallel universe, or possibly many parallel universes, in which an infinite number of alternate realities exist. Each of these realities is like the one we are experiencing now, but the outcome of events is completely different.

Coulter Zahn, a PHD candidate struggling to prepare his dissertation, envisions his life unfolding in multiple directions simultaneously. In one, he makes a Nobel Prize-worthy scientific discovery that changes our concept of the universe. In another, his wife informs him that she is leaving him, a declaration that leads to tragic results.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

And Then My Sukkah Collapsed

I was full of enthusiasm and good intentions as I unpacked the pieces of the pre-fab sukkah I had purchased especially for the holiday. It should be a simple matter of fitting together the metallic poles and the do-it-yourself sukkah would be standing.

A sukkah is a temporary dwelling in which Jews "dwell" - or at least eat their meals - during the week-long festival of Sukkot. The temporary status is reminiscent of the years of wandering that the Children of Israel endured on their way to the Promised Land.

Two hours after beginning to build our sukkah, the sukkah collapsed. Poles, and connecting pieces, plastic and metal, all lying on my patio at my feet.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

14 Reasons Why Poker Is Better Than Sex

Back in the day, my job was to promote the game of poker. I wrote content for poker websites, banners, press releases, blogs, newsletters, and emails, all of them encouraging players - veterans and newcomers - to play poker online. In hindsight this is kind of strange, as I don't play poker myself. In any case, I spent nearly 13 years writing about the game as part of my job in the marketing division of an Israel-based, international online gaming company ( a company that is no longer in business).

In order to spice things up a bit, I occasionally resorted to humor, to show the fun side of the game (as compared to the strategic side of trying to win, no matter what cards you are dealt). Shown here is the result of one of my favorite humorous projects - an infographic listing the "Top 14 Reasons Why Poker Is Better Than Sex". I came up with the concept and wrote the content. I apologize that I don't remember the name of the freelance graphic designer who brought my vision to a comical reality.

Even if you don't know the game of poker, I hope you will enjoy my humor!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The Seven Rila Lakes from Above

I hiked to Bulgaria's Seven Rila Lakes this summer, and they were amazing! Even more stunning is seeing them from above. This footage of drone clips was taken by Sam Ozanne during his recent trek in the Rila Mountains, posted on YouTube by Aerial Adventures.

Originally posted on YouTube.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

We Go to the Polls, Again

I usually refrain from writing about Israeli politics. I avoid discussing the subject but as Israelis go to the polls again*, for the second time this year, I can’t put my head in the sand to escape what’s going on. Every Israeli has a vote; every Israeli is responsible for the situation we’re in. Here is my viewpoint.

If you don’t know which party I’m voting for, you can see the ballot in the image (the photo was taken by a friend). Meretz is Israel’s left-wing, social-democratic and green political party. I’ve cast my vote for Meretz in every Israeli election that I’ve participated in.

I am comforted by the fact that as messed up as Israeli politics are, things are much worse in the US and the UK.

We will probably end up getting the extremist right-wing government we feared getting in April.

Bibi is not only fighting for his political survival. He is fighting to stay out of jail.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Stupidest Carwash I Ever Did

Cape Kamenjak – a coastline of coves and beaches at the southernmost tip of Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula. I park our rental car and we stroll down to the warm waters of the Adriatic Sea. After an afternoon on the beach, we return to the car. It is blanketed in dust and sand.

I am embarrassed at how dirty the car is. How can I drive it like this? I don't want to be seen as a snobbish tourist with no regard for a vehicle’s appearance. I can’t return it to the agency in this condition!

We drive north, bound for the hilltop village of Motuvan. A small sign at the side of the road catches my eye. It’s a carwash! I slow down and pull in. The cost is only a few Croatian kuna so, why not? A few minutes later, we are back on the road in a sparkling clean car. Little did I know what awaited us.