Stefanella's Drive Thru

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

Oooooooh! This looks Good! December 29, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 1:43 pm

An exciting new film – Pan’s Labyrinth – opens in New York and other assorted locales today.

For science fiction, fairy tale/horror-ish or off-the-track film lovers, it looks very very promising. And the reviews are tremendous.
It’s by Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro of The Devil’s Backbone and Hellboy. He’s a horror buff and highly respected in film circles. Although I haven’t seen any of his stuff, based on this one’s trailer the cinematography looks fab. Also, the original score by Javier Navarrete is very pleasing to the ear.
Okay, I’ll wait half a year for it to get here…sigh.

2006 Draws to a Close December 28, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 5:03 am

As we lock down the shutters on 2006, the stroll down memory lane seems irresistible.

The New York Times has a great interactive Year in Photos worth checking out. Go to the link and scroll down to the 2006 Year in Photos. Featured prominently is last summer’s Israel-Lebanon war. Decide for yourself.

The Reuters 2006 re-cap has quotes, including this one pertinent to my current venue of choice:
I am officially announcing that Iran has joined the group of those countries which have nuclear technology. Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, April 11.

The Reuters site also has images. Great ones in Cuba and Iran of Fidel Castro and the above mentioned prez shot by stringers and a fab one of Shaquille O’Neal by Hans Derek.

My favorite-a-licious girl nasties at Go Fug Yourself haven’t put together a comprehensive 2006 re-cap but their description of dragging themselves from “brandy soaked nog-comas” is worth the trek.

I leave this entry with ruminations.

Recently I filed a story on Rwandans in Israel. The work spurred me to read and check out the film Sometimes in April to learn more about the 1994 genocide because my strongest memory of the period was a colleague’s stories upon returning from the carnage. Until Rwanda, he had thought he was a hot sh*t, conquer the world journalist. He came back shell shocked. And almost every journalist I’ve talked to or read has noted that of all the war zones they’ve covered – Sarajevo, Mogadishu, Lebanon, etc – Rwanda was the absolute worst.

The same is happening in Darfur, Sudan. Now. There are a gazillion ways to help out and get involved from letter writing to petitioning to donating cash to donating time and talents. Worth thinking about.

Over and out


Schvitz? Don’t Mind if I Do, Thanks December 24, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 1:49 pm

Self exaltation is a lovely thing.

This here link takes you to my article in today’s San Francisco Chronicle.

Mwahaahaahaahaa..I am simply Shameless in my self promotion. Hee hee. Blush Blush. As usual.

After you read the article with great rapture and you have finished reflecting…

Wish yourself and your family A Merry Merry Christmalicious (if it’s your thang).

My 5-year-old is running around our Tel Aviv flat singing: “We Wish you a Merry Christmas”…Where in tarnation did he get that tune in the Holy Land Central vacuum of virtual non-existent Christmas cheer?

On Cartoon Network dot com. Go on over. You’ll see what I mean when you watch the front page video which shows, by the way, that Joe Barbera – creator of The Flintstones, Tom & Jerry, Scooby Doo, etc. – has passed. What a legend.

Enjoy, mes petits choux…


Ho-Hum Saturday December 23, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 4:10 pm

This is the first time in aaaaaaaggggggeeeeeessss that I’ve opted to be indoors the entire – but the entire – day. I’m ashamed. Sorta.

Yes, it was a rainy day. Not cold but damp and grey. But that wasn’t the reason. It just felt like a last day of Hannuka vacation-soak up the rest for what it’s worth-g’head and knock yourself out with slovenliness type of day.

So Raph and I slept late by our standards – 9 a.m. – and he got his once-a-week sugar cereal fix i.e. Fruit Trix and then he proceeded to watch 800 episodes of Teen Titans on DVD while I researched writing venues and queried editors. My active peak hit around 2 p.m. when I trekked out to the kitchen and prepared Indonesian beef soup. It’s a good thing there aren’t any donuts in the house.

Later in the day friends brought their son by to play with Rapha – thank goodness for the child’s sanity – and I continue, to now, sitting in sweats typing up story proposals.
See what a kid looks like after hours of video watching? Let this image be a message to us all..

Shameful. Hee hee.

Public Service Announcement December 22, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 6:17 am

For fans of skateboard, this is what the kids in my hood are getting up to over the Hannuka vacation.

What did we do over the vacation, you ask? Not much. I ASPIRED to goat and bee farms, movies and …Back in reality land, we rented Jimmy Neutron, had people over, went to other people’s houses and we’ll attend a final Hannuka shindig tonight. Otherwise, long hours of sleep, lazy days spent reading in the park or playing football (soccer in Amerikansky), walking around South Tel Aviv and the shuk…a lazy man’s holiday.

Here’s a PSA. Nice visuals; important message. Happy Last Harmonica Day!

A personal plug: For San Francisco area readers (or online surfers), I’ll have a piece in the Sunday Insight Section this weekend – Christmas Eve day. Happy reading…

Mmmmm Donuts December 19, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 6:02 am

Welcome to today’s blog entry entitled: The Lazy Woman’s Alternative to Coming up with Original Material.

Here’s how it works:

I’m feeling uninspired, tired and blech. So instead of activating my brain cells to formulate original writing, I link to another person’s blog and extoll his/her virtues. Shameless.

Not really, though, because Noorster’s writing is clever and she unabashedly admits to exact quantities of jelly donuts she has been consuming over the Hannuka holiday. What bravery!

We of the Jewish persuasion here in Holy Land Central wallow in grease this time of year: Potato fried pancakes, jelly/chocolate/cream/dulche la leche-filled fried donuts…The rest of the year? You’d be hard pressed to find donuts anywhere in HLC but with Hannuka comes a glut. Go figure.

Luckily, I don’t care for potato pancakes and thus far have been holding out on the donut front. I’ll indulge in one of the gourmet types later this week. Cream filled. Mmmmm. I feel like Homer.

Which reminds me of a donut joke I heard years ago in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park during the annual stand-up festival. Leave it to Americans, the comedian scoffed to take cake and fry it.

Happy Harmonica! December 18, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 4:16 am

Day four of candle lighting. Reporting from the front:
The mall is NOT a place to be during the current Hannuka break. Not because, as in the U.S., the pre-Christmas buying frenzy is in full momentum. There are simply too many kids and people at the mall. And after all, a mall is a mall is a mall. Big Whoop.

Oh how realities shift. Ironically, considering this is where it all went down, there is no Christmas here in Holy Land Central. At least not in Tel Aviv. No decorations. No glittery lights or tinsel. No plastic rooftop Santa, mall-sitting Santa, ringing bell Salvation Army Santa… No Santa, Nada.
– My father relayed via phone that a group of young Christmas Carollers showed up at his front door post-Hannuka candle lighting Friday night. He was scornful of my: “Sweet! Did you invite them in to spin the dreidel?” He is inundated and feeling Minority pangs.

I miss some of the pretty hoopla. I admit it. If I lived in the U.S. I’d feel otherwise. I miss post-Christmas sales. Merchandise. Consumerism. Attractive displays. Ahhh!!!

I don’t miss egg-nogg, even the loaded with brandy kind.

On the week’s agenda: Visit to bee-honey producing farm, visit to goat farm to see how goat cheese is made and play with kids, see Luc Besson’s new animated movie, ditto Aardman’s claymation movie, candle lighting, Hannuka party, candle lighting, donuts, chocolate money, candle lighting.

I don’t like latkes. At all. Even gourmet ones (whatever that means)

Empty Journalist Moments December 14, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 4:23 am

There are crap moments on every job and yesterday I had several. Unfotunately, there will probably be more.

The first time was years ago while working as a television producer covering the aftermath of a suicide bombing. A camera crew and I went to a man’s house to interview him. He and his wife had recently married and his adoption of her children had just finalized. We showed up a few hours prior to her funeral. His first wife had also been killed by a terrororist.

The man was in shock and I could not bring myself to ask him anything. I sat in silence. Realizing I was at a loss, my colleague the cameraman stepped in with questions in my stead.

After all, there really is nothing you can ask someone in that situation.

Yesterday I sat with a group of Rwandan survivors of the 1994 genocide who are currently in Israel. One, Jean-Pierre, agreed to tell his story.

Speaking quietly through a Kinya-Rwandan translator, he described hiding in bushes and watching Hutu militia men machete family members and toss grenades into surrounding bushes where other children were hiding. I lowered my head, gulped backed tears and pinched myself into not crying. Jean-Pierre lost both parents and four siblings.

When he finished telling his story, I said “thank you very much” with warmth that felt hollow. Thanks for sharing your personal hell. How odd, when you think of it.

During a college internship at a local news station in the U.S., an anchor once shared in confidence that whenever he was sent out to interview surviving family members, he would sit in the car outside the house, phone the executive producer and relay: “Nobody’s home”.


Insanity Producing December 11, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 7:18 pm

This is the type of story that makes me want to scream in fury, beat a tabletop, weep and curse in frustration.

For those not up to playing “follow the link”, it’s a piece about three boys – aged 6-9 – who were gunned down in Gaza City today as they prepared to go from car to school. It was a “send a message killing”. The boys were all sons of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ chief intelligence aide. Abbas/aide are members of the moderate Fatah faction. Gee, I wonder what faction could have been behind the murders?

It is mind boggling. It is wrong. And so overwhelming it hurts to contemplate.


J.C. & Me December 9, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 1:52 pm

I received an interesting e-mail today from a group called The Christian Bloggers. They want me to join forces with them, link to their blog & sign up as a podcast recipient. The reason, they write, is that although we may have different theologies “we all share the same saviour”. Get out! And I thought I was the only one who turns to Lindt in troubled times.

So I moseyed on over to check things out (sorry, no link. I don’t want the junk mail). First of all, the sheer volume of information over there is mind numbing. There are sub-headings for every major Christian denomination I could possibly think of and some I’ve never heard of. Anglicans, Presbyterians, Missionaries, Pentecostal, Baptist, Lutheran, Episcopalian…

Then, in the FAQ section, the first question asks “Why Christian Bloggers?” The partial reply:

As we continue to head towards the endtimes, the importance of showing the church as a beacon of light and hope in this world is critical.

So here I am, living in Holy Land Central (and that there referral is probably what brought the good people of Christian Bloggers to my site in the first place) and yet: I AM THE LAST TO KNOW. Why aren’t my teammates keeping us all updated? I pay taxes, work hard and duck wars and yet nobody on my side of the fence seems to think it important to notify that we’re headed towards endtimes.

Thanks, Christian Bloggers. If it weren’t for you I might still be in the dark. I’ll take a pass on the blog offer for the time being seeing as I DO play for the other team and all. But I’ll keep you in mind should the endtimes happen to include a plan for mass extermination of my people.

Your pal,