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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Photo Friday (vol. LXXXII) [ceremonial edition]

[I may not be around in the morning so I am posting this a bit early]

Back when I was in the US Navy, my ship made several port calls in Australia.  One of the things I remember vividly is the sense of gratitude some of the older generation of Australians still felt to the American Navy for their role in the Battle of the Coral Sea.  Many firmly believe that if the US Navy had not stopped the Japanese, Australia would have been invaded.  On more than one occasion I found people buying me beers that I was sure I didn't deserve.

It wasn't until moving here and learning about some of the local history that I began to have a sense of what it means to feel a deep sense of indebtedness and gratitude to members of another country's military... generations after the battlefields have fallen silent.

October 31st marked the 89th anniversary of the Battle of Beer Sheva. 

I've written in detail in the past about this WWI battle and noted without exaggeration that, but for the bravery of 800 Australian Light Horsemen who charged across about 6 kilometers of open ground directly at the heavily defended Turkish fortifications in Beer Sheva, there might not be a State of Israel today.

Whenever a new group of Aussie soldiers arrive in the region with the Multi-National Forces in Sinai I enjoy showing them the historic sites in and around Beer Sheva.   Each time a group of these soldiers comes to visit (today, as back in 1917, all of them volunteers) I am struck by what open, engaging and friendly people the Aussies are... and I understand just a little bit better the mindset behind the reasons I couldn't pay for a beer in Australia. 

I was pleased and proud to be invited to the memorial ceremony at the WWI cemetery in Beer Sheva on the 31st.

The ceremony was attended by many of the local and foreign diplomatic community in the region.  Ambassadors, Consuls, Secretaries and Military attaches from Australia, New Zealand, England, Turkey, Germany, South Africa, Italy, Fiji as well as representatives of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, all gathered to pay their respects to the fallen soldiers.  An honor guard of British and ANZAC soldiers stood proudly around the monument throughout the ceremony.

Afterwords I joined some of the soldiers for lunch, followed by a tour of the battlefield and trenches.  But not before posing for a photo with the Aussie contingent that I will value among my most prized possessions:
So, next time you run into an Aussie here in Israel... don't forget to say thank you for what we enjoy today.  Oh, and maybe buy them a beer.  :-)

Shabbat Shalom.

Posted by David Bogner on November 2, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (19) | TrackBack

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Can I get a 'Amen'?

Think for a minute about what would be almost as exciting as more Jews moving to Israel?

Yes, that's right.

Seriously, I feel bad that human lives are being disrupted and even destroyed by the violence in 'the territories'.  But you reap what you sow.



Posted by David Bogner on November 1, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (27) | TrackBack

Up late on a school night (for a good cause)

Every couple of months I completely (albeit unintentionally) undermine my wife's authority with the big kids and let them stay up on a school night for an impromptu movie night. 

Now, before anyone chimes in with free parenting/medical advice, I really don't need to be reminded that 11 and 12-year-olds need sleep to function in school.  I know that.  I also know from experience that if they stay up past, say, 9:30 or 10:00, they will be complete basket cases in the morning... a treat I get to miss because I leave so early for work.

However, I sometimes feel like they are growing up so fast that if I don't steal some extra time with them now, I'll end up walking them down the aisle some day (or watching them play with their own kids!) wondering silently to myself why I hadn't built more memories with them while they were young. 

So, earlier this week I checked to make sure they had both finished their homework and asked them if they wanted to stay up and join me for a movie.  This was around 8:25PM. Did I mention it was a school night?

I don't really need to tell you what they answered, do I?

I have a bunch of classic movies on DVD set aside for these movie nights and I picked one of my favorite bits of empty entertainment, Sergio Leone's classic 'The Good, the bad and the Ugly'.

There is simply nothing redeeming from a social or art standpoint about this 'spaghetti western'.  But it is perfect for curling up on the couch with the kids, eating junk food and laughing our collective keesters off.   

Some of the things that slayed the kids:

1.  The terrible overdubbing of the 2nd tier actor's/extra's lines.  The spaghetti westerns are second only to old Hong Kong karate action films for bad overdubbing.  It was so consistently bad that part way through the film the kids started looking at each other (and me) and saying random things while moving their lips in an unrelated patterns.

2.  Ellie Wallach as Tuco (the ugly).  First of all, the kids couldn't get over the fact that he was a Brooklyn-born Jew.  But aside from that cultural disconnect, they loved how transparently devious he was in the film and how he served as the object of so many of the other actor's classic insults and abuse.

3.  The music/theme song.  I remember falling in love with the quirky soundtrack of this film when I first saw it in 1970 or '71.  Since seeing the movie, Gilad has been singing and whistling the classic theme to the point that even Yonah is now singing along with him.   

4.  Classic lines*:

Tuco (after having just shot a man who made the mistake of delivering a typical western-genre 'I'm going to lecture you before I kill you' speech instead of pressing his advantage):  "If you're going to to shoot... shoot, don't talk!".  This is one of Gilad's favorite lines from the movie.

Tuco: [trying to read a note] "See you soon, id..." "id..." "ids..."
Blondie: [taking the note] "Idiots." It's for you."  This line cracked the kids up so badly we had to pause the film while they pulled themselves together.  Then they made me play it back about three more times so they could laugh over it.

Tuco: "G-d is on our side because he hates the Yanks!"
Blondie: "G-d is not on our side because he hates idiots also."

Tuco: "I like big fat men like you. When they fall they make more noise!"  Gilad spilled his drink on this one.

The inconsistencies:  I won't list them all here, but most of them offered opportunities to teach the kids something about history. 

The film is set early in the Civil War (1862), yet makes direct reference to Generals Lee and Grant as being in charge, neither of whom had assumed their roles as heads of their respective armies yet. 

There is a funny scene where Tuco and Blondie are setting dynamite charges to blow up a bridge, but dynamite wasn't invented until after the Civil War ended.  As an added bonus, during this scene a car can be seen momentarily driving across the background... a neat trick for 1862!

This last one isn't so much an inconsistency as an odd director's rule that Sergio Leone employs throughout the film:  There are several points in the film where things outside the camera frame that should be visible to the characters are not visible to them until they come into the frame and the audience can also see them.  Both the kids commented on this.

Anyway, I think (hope) Zahava has forgiven me by now (yet again) for keeping the kids up on a school night.   And I might as well go ahead and ask forgiveness now for the next time... and the one after that.  Because I wouldn't miss these late evenings together for the world.

* Source


Posted by David Bogner on November 1, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack