27 May, 2008

Now Hear This!

Israelis are known, among many things, for being expressive through their cars. By this I'm not referring to driving style or speed, although that too has become sadly stereotypical. I'm referring to the quantity of bumper stickers plastered all over what seems like the majority of the cars here. It got to be so much that a song (actually, a really good song) was written a couple years back in which all the lyrics were direct quotes from various popular bumper stickers.

A lot are political, a lot aren't, but the ones that I find funniest are those which are aimed at a direct dialogue with God. Things like "God in Heaven, we love you!" seem to me inappropriate for a bumper sticker, somehow, and yet they're everywhere. Come on, do you really think God is stuck here in this traffic jam, and getting excited about your sticker? If you love Him, show Him in more heavenly ways, I say.

And yet, despite my real cringe every time I see one of those, there is a religious bumper sticker that I like - short and simple:

I realize that it's pretty hard to see here, but it has the words that are familiar to Jews worldwide: Shema Yisrael, Ado(n)ai Elo(h)einu, Ado(n)ai Echad. Literally, it means, "Listen up, Jews, God is our Lord, God is one." It's the phrase that we've been saying for thousands of years, it's our mantra. But generally, when we say it nowadays, we're either a) in a synagogue, surrounded by people who don't need convincing, or b) at home, praying in our living room quietly to ourselves. And so no one is there to listen up - it's a shame, really.

But here, finally, is a good opportunity! "Listen up, Jews," and there are the Jews, potentially listening up all around you. What could be better?

20 May, 2008

Zippidee doo dah, zippidee ay

My workplace took us out for our yearly festive-ish evening last week. It was nice - dinner and a stand-up comedian, and not too many speeches. Since it's one of the few perks that I get, we make sure to go every year.

This year the event was at a local place in Gush Etzion called Eretz HeAyalim, or in English, "Land of the Deer." I hadn't been there before, but I'd heard about it - Eretz HeAyalim is very well known for its Omega. Ah, "but what's an Omega," I hear you cry. An Omega is what most English speakers refer to as a zip-line, and this place has the longest one in Israel. I'm pretty sure that in Hebrew it's called an Omega because the shape of the thing that holds you resembles the Greek letter, but of course I could be wrong. I actually found a promotional movie for the place, made by a neighbor of ours, and there are some bits with footage of the Omega around 3 minutes in, if you'd like to see.

Anyway, the place was lovely, the comedian was pretty funny, the food qualified as fancy, and we enjoyed relaxing with friends. As an added bonus, I found a new kind of typo that I don't recall having seen before. Generally in life, you come across words that are misspelled because letters that sound similar are incorrectly interchanged. Here, I found a letter swapped for one that looked similar, rather than sounding similar. Maybe the difference isn't that big of a deal, but I was amused:

I mean, we can forgive them the missing silent e on "rop" - a lot of intelligent adults I know can't quite get the hang of silent e (believe it or not). But swapping a g for a y? Now that's a high-class typo.

11 May, 2008

The Land of Plenty

Funny story - a few years back, when my oldest daughter learned to read English, we found her reading everything she could find, and of course it made us very proud. One day, she came up to me and asked, "Why is everything made in China?"

Ah, she didn't know just how profound a question she was asking.

We really need to be grateful for this abundance of non-local products - they provide such a treasure trove of humor. My younger daughter's birthday wasn't too long ago, and she got a truly nifty gift - a sort of roulette game, in which players take turns spinning a top amongst marbles that then are knocked into holes with varying points. It really is fun, and she opened it and began playing so quickly that I
almost didn't get a chance to see the package. But, good girl that she is, she kept the box for storage, and so I got a good look when we took it out to play the next time. I actually got my first impression from the side, before we had even taken it off of the shelf:

That was amusing. Not so special, but amusing. It in no way prepared me for the crazy potential on the front, though. Just wait, it's coming.

See, it's getting better already. This isn't just a game, it's a funny game. The "first grade product" seemed perfectly reasonable to me at first - it's an age recommendation, right? Until, of course, I realized that it might be a declaration of quality... hmm... which is it? Tricky.

Now this is just childish humor, I know; some capitalization issues, a bit of metathesis, and a missing apostrophe aren't really that funny. But really, this is the promise we need to be most grateful for, since their "model" is:

Whoa! That kid is downright frightening! He (she?) seems to be calling out for help right here on the box - look what they've done to me! Please come and save me! Put my hair back!

And of course, the grand finale:

Here's hoping that things look up for China, and for all of us non-native English speaking countries...

04 May, 2008

Must be out of my gourd

I find that even now, after having lived here in Israel for so long, some basic things still take me by surprise and make me laugh. I don't mean important things, like the multitudes of political parties, or working Sundays. It's the dumb little things that get to me. For example, we often mistakenly assume that we're familiar with the produce section here in our supermarkets. You know, after you learn the name of an item, you figure that it probably translates over to whatever had that name back in the old country. But that's not necessarily so.

This was brought clear to me this past month, when I walked into our local grocery store. I'm pretty familiar with d'laat, which we've bought as needed over the years. Pretty much any dictionary translates
d'laat as pumpkin. So it's a pumpkin, right? The thing is, you can't usually buy a whole pumpkin here - it comes cut up, and has a lighter, less orange color to it. That's okay, it didn't ever bother me. Generally I use it for soup, and you certainly don't need a whole pumpkin as an ingredient for vegetable soup. Anyway, I walked in, and found two pumpkins that hadn't yet had the chance to be cut up:

Those don't really look like good old Halloween pumpkins, do they? Oh, well.

By the way, this week's edition of
Haveil Havalim is up, and you can see it here. Haveil Havalim defines itself as: a carnival of Jewish blogs -- a weekly collection of Jewish & Israeli blog highlights, tidbits and points of interest collected from blogs all around the world. Enjoy!