Stefanella's Drive Thru

Israel, U.S., conflict, war, peace, humor, travel, romance, fashion, fun

Enamored April 30, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 12:47 pm

I have loved Philip Seymour Hoffman since seeing him play drag queen Rusty Zimmerman to Robert DeNiro’s NY cop Walt Koontz in Flawless. Lawdy, lawdy chillins…if you haven’t seen it RUN to the video store at once. C’mon. It’s Sunday. What else have you got goin’ on?

Over the weekend I checked out capote. I’m smitten anew with PSH not to mention very affected by the film. It’s subtlety and understatement is gorgeous as is adherence to period dress and mannerism. I’m intrigued by Truman Capote, very much interested in reading his novel In Cold Blood and particularly pleased by the fact that he was pals with my favorite of all authors, Nelle Harper Lee.

Hell, if you haven’t seen that one either, get in on a Blockbuster 2 for 1 weekend deal and rent ’em both. Well worth it.


Salute April 29, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 8:36 am

Lately, whenever I put in a simple request with my four-year-old – pick up the spoon you dropped on the floor, put the puzzle away, come here and brush your teeth – he responds with a salute.

At first I was very mildly aware of the gesture. Then yesterday he did it again and the implications dawned. I asked him to do it again just to be sure that my precious little urchin was gesticulating as suspected. He was.

Where did you see that, sweetheart? In the movie Hair when Berger goes into the army? Wishful thinking on semi-hippy mother’s part.

No. At school. There’s a song we sing and we do that.

What the hell song is that? Er. Sorry honey. I mean, What song is that?

I can’t remember.

I probably wouldn’t be so sensitive if we didn’t live where we live. I’m sure the song and the salute have something to do with next week’s Memorial and Independence Days but nonetheless… Sue me for not finding military associations amusing particularly with regards to a preschooler.


Lenny, Come on Down! April 27, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 4:23 pm

So Lenny’s coming for a visit but he hasn’t decided whether or not to perform. C’mon Len…I’ll go your way if you go mine. Give it up.


Modern Dilemma April 26, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 1:10 pm

**I guess tonight’s bombing sort of seals the deal…Eilat? Naah**

While walking the dog this ayem, I stopped into my neighborhood cafe to wish the owners a top of the morning. Strewn across one of the tables was a copy of Israel’s Yediot Ahronot daily with a cover photo that begged caption reading.

For anyone who has ever liened in one of the Sinai Desert’s “crunchier” spots, today’s image was classic: Israelis lounging beside Sudanese and Bedouins on the multi-colored carpets that line cushions of Bedouin tent hangouts. Barefoot, sipping glasses of hot tea with mint, deeply tanned. The caption went something like: We’re not afraid and we’re not coming home just yet

Well judging by the ear-to-ear grins, no wonder they’re not feeling particularly alarmed by Monday’s triple blast a dog’s bark away that claimed 28 lives. They appeared to be on the “special Sinai plan”, if you know what I mean.

I want to go down to the Sinai too and hang out in the Bedouin tents playing backgammon with Suleiman or Assi, depending upon who sits down first. I don’t desire the “special plan” but I do want to Scuba dive, sunbathe, read by candlelight when the sun goes down while drinking cheap wine from a paper cup and nibbling post-melt, malformed chocolate bars I’ve lugged across the border in my rucksack.

I’ve been longing for such a retreat for months. But every time I mention it people warn that the Israeli government is advising against travel down south yonder due to all sorts of unstable types that do things like blow up tourists as a means of further improving Egypt’s perenially-suffering tourism industry.

I generally poo-poo those type warnings but then my radar isn’t always up to speed. My brother, at wit’s end and disgusted with my “they’ll never fire missiles on us” brevity, took it upon himself to seal a room in our shared Tel Aviv apartment 24 hours prior to missile strikes back in 1991.

So what’s a girl to do? And considering my family’s combined passport mix – Israeli, American and Danish – we really won’t announce our origins or current domicile should we go desert bound lest an Al Qaeda squadron be lurking nearby. Traveling with a very verbal 4-year-old informant however – I’m from San Francisco and my mommy says you never pay for dinner. Is that true? – might present a liability.

So what’s the alternative? Eilat? No comment. Divers, silence seekers and chusha enthusiasts everywhere know exactly what I’m talking about right here. Who wants to blow up a bungalow village anyhow? But apparently someone did.

I’ll have to give this one some thought.


More Sponsors, More Words April 25, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 4:20 pm

A wee mention of a site for book lovers: FetchBook… But first, a wee disclaimer: I’ve never tried it and I don’t know anyone who has so I can’t give the thumbs up or down. I received an e-mail from the site owner/plugger asking me to blog it. So here I am. Blogging.

That aside, the way it works is you surf on over and search for the book of your dreams by title, author or ISBN. What comes up is 120 price comparisons based upon vendor. You choose who to buy from and whether you want it soft copy, used, hard cover…Also, doesn’t matter where you sit in the world; shipping is touted as universal. Does this mean someone will jet in and hand carry me the out-of-print, rare title I order while on the Gombe reserve this summer during my annual chimp watch with Jane? (we’re on a first name basis, of course) Hmmm. If anyone tries it, lemme know. I’m curious.

And here’s a dose of the inane just in case things were getting a wee bit too bogged: Has anyone out there every tried switching back to apple or cider vinegar after adapting to Balsamic? No can do, mes amis. I tried.

There you have it. The world’s just one big bookfest with Balsamic drizzled over wild radicchio leaves.


Yom Ha’Shoa

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 6:00 am

This morning air raid sirens will go off throughout HLC (Holy Land Central) signaling the country’s 5 million or so Jews to stop whatever they’re doing and observe a moment of silence and prayer in remembrance of the 6 million or so Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

It’s been 9 years since I’ve been here for Yom Ha’Shoa (Holocaust Remembrance Day) but undoubtedly the same enveloping bubble of sorrow that descends when the sirens wail will overtake again. Regardless of venue – public or within the private confines of home – the throat knot lodges in place daring the tears to flow.

My first year in Israel I was enrolled in Tel Aviv University’s overseas program. My college experience was sort of backwards – freshman rather than 3rd year abroad. My dorm-mate at the time, Janice from Long Island, had somehow slipped under the radar and was unawares of the Holocaust memorial date. So when the sirens went off and people stopped mid-stream in their tracks while walking down the street or braked their vehicles, got out and stood silently on thoroughfares with heads hanging, she panicked. Janice thought the country had been overtaken by aliens who had established mind control over the entire population. Janice was say into Sci-Fi.

Aside from the larger meaning, the memorial anniversary date was chosen by Israel’s Knesset in 1951 to mark the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising when Polish Jews defied German forces planning to evacuate them to Treblinka. The battle lasted 27 days and resulted in deaths of 300 German troops and 7,000 resistance fighters. It is considered a high point in Jewish history.

I exit this posting with yet another P.J. O’Rourke quote. Generally quite humorous, O’Rourke also pulls out salient poignancy when necessary.

What could cause more hatred and bloodshed than religion? This is the Israel question. Except it isn’t rhetorical; it has an answer. We went to Yad Vashem, the Jerusalem Holocaust Memorial, and saw what the godless get up to. There are worse things than war…


Holy Drag April 23, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 5:39 am

*sigh* I miss San Francisco sometimes.

Conveniences, the service industry, my corner cafe owned by Ramallah siblings Musa and Khaled Dajani who also own one of the city’s hippest sushi restaurants, a swank bar, a Japanese whisky lounge and the cafe itself – Abir – no minor attraction.

But this morning what I missed was the irony. A running joke about San Fran is if that if you’re looking for it, you’ll find it. The “something for everyone” credo. Say you’ve always dreamed of joining the Church of the Lesbian Alliance of Korean Men for Buddhist Jews. You’ll find it in San Fran. Just open the Yellow Pages. Sometimes, too many options can be…too many options.

It’ll probably take some time for the ironies to wear off because when my old pal Matt e-mailed this morning with an illustration of a San Francisco ism, it took a re-read for me to “get it”.

i just spoke to a friend i grew up with, who has recently come out of the closet and is living just up the block from me.
he called to say hello and that he was going out this evening to see a drag show at the Holy Redeemer Church.
How San Francisco can you get? Once again, the city never ceases to amaze.



Happy E.D. April 22, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 9:06 am

Guess what today is, mein kinderlach…??

Yeah, we all know it’s my birthday. Duh.

It’s also Earth Day!! And I am oh so proud to share the significant date.

In honor of E.D. I won’t advocate hugging a tree or even planting one – although if you so decide, good on ya!

Instead, glide on over to this series. Richard Bangs is a renowned river expert who’s been navigating the world’s wet wonders for decades. He’s also the co-founder of Mountain Sobek Adventure Travel in Emeryville, California – an outfit that’ll take you on that vogage across the Bering Strait if your heart so desires.

While chronicling some of his latest adventures, he and his team voyaged down the Jordan River to the Dead Sea. If you read nothing of his travels, at least check this one out. Clueless me had no idea the Dead Sea is rapidly dying. Note to self: Visit with Raphael before it’s too late.

Enjoy Earth Day and be kind to your environment…


Heckling Hu April 21, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 5:49 am

I found this story about the Falun Gong supporter who sneaked into the White House press corps and heckled Chinese Prez Hu Jintao during the formal welcoming ceremony pretty damned amusing.

First of all, whassup with White House security?

Second, Chinese people have no idea the incident occurred. Footage and press mention was censored back home so they got the standard Wally & Beaver cover of Bush and Jintao shaking hands and playing nice.

Third, reading a bit about Falun Gong was surprising; The Chinese government claims they have only a few million members. The FG, on the other hand, says they’re 100-million strong worldwide. One statistic shows their membership as exceeding China’s Communist Party membership. No wonder there’s an attempt to suppress them.

I also didn’t know that Qigong is at the group’s origins and that the FG has only been around officially since 1992. That’s a tremendous following in a very brief time period. Again, no wonder the Chinese gov’t is a bit concerned. That, however, does not lend credence to brutalizing followers in an effort to stamp them out.

This coincides beautifully with a passage I read from P.J. O’Rourke’s Peace Kills just two days ago whilst lounging on the beach. Referring to America’s foreign policy, he writes:

..when America acts, other nations accuse us of…engaging in ‘unilateralism’, of behaving as if we’re the only nation on earth that counts.

We are. Russia used to be a superpower but resigned ‘to spend more time with the family.’ China is supposed to be mighty but the Chinese leadership quakes when a couple of hundred Falun Gong members do tai chi for Jesus…

Well a few more than a hundred & Jesus doesn’t come into the picture but you get the point…


A Word from Sponsors April 20, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 6:02 am

I recently received an e-mail from Ernesto, a middle aged Catholic fellow from Manila who moved to Tel Aviv half a year ago for work. He reads my blog and asked if I might link to his. So I am.

Check out his story about coming to HLC (Holy Land Central), his first time traveling internationally on a 20-hour Lufthansa flight via China and Germany (no less). Also take a look at his story marking Holy Week.

Best to you, Ernesto. Mabuting kapalaran!