Posted by Tiferet Peterseil
“When an estimated 16,500 delegates, activists and reporters descend upon Copenhagen Monday for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, a lot of hot air will follow.
The U.N. estimates that the 12-day conference will create 40,584 tons of carbon dioxide roughly equivalent to the carbon emissions of Morocco in 2006.” (By Michelle Malkin, www.michellemalkin.com)
It all started at about midnight, when I found myself “sleepless in Tel-Aviv”. I’d had a rough day, but it didn’t help much when I tried to wind down reading the news on the Internet.
“SAVE THE PLANET” was this morning’s newspaper headlines in Israel, and 55 other newspapers spread over 45 different countries. I think this is one of the few times I can remember Israel and the rest of the world coming together to agree on anything. I skim through articles covering the 12-day “United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen”. It seems amazing to me, that despite all their differences, leaders from around the globe have united on one front—to save our planet. But realizing Armageddon may be on the horizon doesn’t help my mood much, and I’m forced to take drastic measures.
Misery does indeed love company, which is why I decide to call my sister in Jerusalem. I dare her to be spontaneous and join me for a 1:00 am movie at my local theater. “Cocktails”, I promise, “are on me.”
My sister (#6), never one to pass up a “reasonable” dare (once I double- dared her to lick a street kitten for a free movie and popcorn. That cost me 50 shekel, but it was totally worth it!), picks me up 45 minutes later and we speed along the Freeway towards “Cinema City”.
“I’d offer you a sip, but it’s irresponsible for you to drink and drive,” I tell my sister, helping myself to a shlug of the home-made cocktail-in-a-thermos I brought with me.
“This is irresponsible,” my sister replies. “We have work and school tomorrow, and here we are in the middle of the night going to watch a movie.”
“Absolutely. We should be ashamed of ourselves!” I agree, taking another swig. “But I’ve had a rough week and could use something to cheer me up.”
“Believe me sister,” she teases, “whatever’s eating you, I can top it.”
This is our favorite game. When we’re both feeling a little down, we like to throw a little pity party, and see who wins the worst scenario award.
“Oh really?” I challenge. “Name 5 reasons why you think your week has been worse than mine.”
#6 doesn’t even need a moment to think.
“I failed that big test that will change the course of my life, forever. I found out my best friend’s dating my ex. I’ve been everything in a mucky shade of pink the last three weeks which means I probably have the swine flu, I lost my favorite purse with my lucky two dollar bill and I broke up with my boyfriend (see above).. You think you can top that?”
I crack my knuckles and wait for the tension to build.
“That’s barely a typical work-week for me!” I assure her. “Where to begin? I’ve got so many choices. I didn’t get that role I auditioned for, my best friend mysteriously changed her number, the kid I babysit actually has the swine flu and threw-up all over me today, I’m not making enough money to buy a purse—you’re treating tonight—and the closest thing I have to a boyfriend right now is this weird stalker who waits outside my house every evening. “
#6 smiles. “I love being miserable together! So what comedy are we going to see?”
“Comedy? No way. Then we walk out saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if our lives were like that?’ and getting back to reality takes forever.”
“Okay, what about My Sisters’ Keeper?”
“Are you insane? You want to watch a movie about a dying sister? THAT would make you feel better?”
“It depends which sister….” She winks at me.
“How about Law Abiding Citizen? It’s about this woman who gets murdered, so then her husband murders the murderer and when they try to stop—”
“Tiferet, in the mood we’re in, I don’t think we should encourage murder.”
“Well, we have to think of a movie that’s totally fictional. That will help us disconnect, have a good time, and still come back down to earth.”
By the time we get to the movie theater # 6 has a brainstorm. “What movie better to help disconnect from reality than something with a big tsunami smeared all over the poster?!”
I think of telling her about this morning’s headlines. I think of reminding her that science fiction writers often predict the future. But the only thing I say is: “Two tickets to 2012,“ as the bored ticket seller take #6’s money.
Loaded with plenty of popcorn and coke, we seat ourselves in the theater. There is a strange moment when all the lights shut off and we simply wait in the dark.
I hope my stalker hasn’t followed us, I silently pray.
When the lights turn on again I see that #6 has just finished attaching a pyramid of straws from my drink so I “won’t have to bend down to drink”.
“Here, drink!” she orders. I’m sucking as hard as I can, trying to get the liquid to come through. The high pitched hissing sound attracts everyone’s attention – and everyone has something spontaneous to say.
“Isn’t that fun? You don’t have to bend down at all!” my sister says, pleased with herself, and oblivious to everyone’s icy glares. She, of course, is drinking from only one straw.
When the movie finally begins, I am riveted. The larger than life action, the explosions and catastrophic natural events that take place have my full attention, and certainly help me get my mind off things. There’s nothing like an “apocalyptic end-of-the-world” movie to disconnect you from reality.
In the movie, leaders of different countries hold a conference, and are brought up-to-date on the magnitude of the disaster about to strike. Together, they plan for the future.
That’s when clippings from the daily news reports flash through my mind, and a strange chill rushes over me.
“The largest and most important U.N. climate change conference in history opened Monday, with organizers warning diplomats from 192 nations that this could be the best, last chance for a deal to protect the world from calamitous global warming.” (www.chron.com, article by Arthur Max.)
I grip the sides of my seat, as the suspense rises while nations from different countries attempt to “buy” their way to safety from the apocalyptic predicaments.
“The poorest nations in the world – such as Pacific Island states, low-lying Asian countries and African nations – say they are the least responsible for the legacy of greenhouse gas emissions but will be the hardest hit. Rising sea-levels, temperature increases, and more droughts and floods are among their concerns. (www.news.com, article by Graham Readfearn.)
We’re at the point in the film where delegates from each country need to express their moral opinion, and a vote is being taken to reach a final decision.
“You know they’re gonna’ make Israel immoral or something” my sister predicts.
Ironically my sister is wrong. Because Israel is excluded from the vote altogether.
“Two months ago, this reporter asked the Israel Prime Minister’s headquarters if Netanyahu would be joining the Copenhagen summit. The answer was:
“At the moment, there is no such plan in the Prime Ministers schedule.”
“Yesterday, Netanyahu’s headquarters already announced that the Prime minister was considering canceling his flight due to costly hotel expenses.”
(Ma’ariv newspaper, article by Aviv Lavi.)
In fact, throughout the movie many countries and religions are given their “15 minutes of fame”, including a whole scene dominated by the head of an Arab nation. Yet, aside from a two second image of Chareidi Jews praying, Israel is not even mentioned. But I wonder if that is just the usual “Israel exclusion”, or whether our prime-minister simply decided there were no cheap hotels in the area.
There’s a strange feeling of finality when you see a movie in which the world is about to be wiped out, civilization obliterated, and no apparent solution on the horizon. Watching the tidal waves drown everyone, seeing people falling between the cracks in an earthquake, you realize how hopeless life could be.
Finding a way out of my own real-life predicaments no longer seems like the “end of the world” anymore.
Of course, #6 had a different take on this.
“John Cusack is soooo cute!!! But why did all those people have to die? And why was that other guy so mean?” She’s rubbing her red, swollen fingertips where her nails used to be.
“You know,” I tell her as we walk back to the car. “When people feel threatened, or in danger, they sometimes make wrong decisions or behave in a way that really seems immoral. But I think the big question we’re supposed to ask is, when it comes down to it, do you first save yourself? Or do you try to save others? I mean, how much are people willing to sacrifice in order to save the world? ”
“The parade of planes is led by the Progressive-in-Chief, Barack Obama…. Then there’s the fleet of other government jets….
“But the most fun is always had by the great and good, the most highly esteemed and wisest members of our society: the Hollywood movie stars!.... First there’s Oprah and her Gulfstream IV (it holds 13 people!). And Al Gore. And Paris Hilton. And Bob Geldorf. And Jennifer Aniston. There are hundreds more… there is something a bit bizarre in these people having permission to preach to others what they don’t do themselves.” (www.humanevents.com, article by Terry Easton)
On que, the skies open and a downpour soaks us. We give each other knowing glances –
“It’s the end of the world!” my sister shouts above the thunder, as we both run for cover. “You know,” she adds as soon as we reach our car, “I’d save you first.”
“You always do,” I smile, as she holds open the car door for me to get in.
“Well, I have to say that all that end of the world stuff really made me feel better. I think I’m ready to start a new day,” #6 says excitedly.
“It already IS a new day, it’s 5am!” I yawn.
“Hey, we never decided who won the contest of worst scenario?”
“How about we call it a tie,” I say, as the memory of this morning’s headline—SAVE THE PLANET—collides with the Tsunami image from the movie we just exited. “I get the feeling it could always be worse….”
“So, what should we do next?” #6 turns to me excitedly, obviously getting her second wind. “How about Jog in the rain? Go for a dip at the beach? Or we can even catch a 6:00 AM showing of – “
“How about, we get some sleep!” I reply.
#6 starts the engine and smiles mischievously. “You know – you’re a lot more fun when you’re miserable!”
When you have one of these miserable days, my advice is to call someone you’re close to (like my sister, although I’m not sure she’ll answer YOU), do something crazy (like see a movie in the middle of the night), and take your mind off life.
“CoP-15, the official term for the Copenhagen meeting, The 15th Conference of Parties, to negotiate a new global climate treaty to replace or extend the 1997 Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012.” (www.livemint.com, article by Samar Halarnkar)
8.5.13 at 8:18 am | Hollywood East returns with a special Guest. . .
3.6.12 at 3:44 pm | Is the Purim Megillah a tale of feminism? And. . .
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10.22.09 at 3:47 am | When it comes to the acting industry, Tel Aviv. . . (3)
December 3, 2009 | 2:45 pm
Posted by Tiferet Peterseil
There I was, the leading lady in a top quality Israeli film, dressed in a pink leotard and Tutu, radiant and glamorous in my lipstick and glitter-daubed face, and to top it off, I was wearing a diamond studded crown.
This would have been the appropriate attire for a Purim party, or even for “Trick Or Treating”. But standing in the middle of an old- age home in Tel Aviv, I was bound to attract attention. Let’s see you explain to a bunch of addled Octogenarians that what you’re wearing are not the garments of choice but rather a wardrobe designed for your character.
“Are you a ballerina?” asks an old man. “Can you put on a show for us?”
“No, she’s a princess,” says a silver-haired woman, rushing to clasp my hands. “Your Highness!”
“My, you’re pretty,” chimes in a sweet, toothless, elderly lady staring at me in awe. I’m flattered, until she adds, “Are those all your real teeth?”
“She’s a Fairy!” exclaims another woman.
“Really?” an old man approaches to take a closer look. “Funny, I would never have guessed you’re a man.”
“Not that kind of fairy, George.”
“She’s the Tooth Fairy!” The toothless woman beams.
“Actually, we’re filming a movie here,” I try to explain. “And I’m dressed in this costume because I’m an actress.”
I knew it was a lost cause. Most of the residents suffered from Dementia or Alzheimer’s, or a combination of both. So the same conversation with the residents replayed a number of times. To make matters worse, I was speaking in Hebrew and the word for “actress” is Sachkaneet, coming from the root “ to play”.
“What do you want to play?” asks one of the women.
“I think her favorite game is obviously dress-up.”
“Let’s play “Duck, Duck, Goose!”—You’re it!”
“Ow. Who keeps hitting me on the head?”
“There are plenty of ducks at the zoo!”
“I can’t go to the zoo, I’m allergic to fur.”
“I still can’t believe she’s a man.”
“I’ll just get my camera and we can go. Senior Citizens get a discount.”
“Citizens of where?”
I love acting. I love getting into character and immersing myself in another world. I appreciate every opportunity to disconnect from reality, and live, even briefly, in a different realm. But the real live “set” we were filming on seemed too surreal to actually exist.
“I don’t understand, who’s granddaughter are you?”
“No one’s, I’m here to—“ I begin.
“No ones? But everyone has a grandmother!”
“You can be my granddaughter,” another woman comes over and hugs me, lovingly. “Would you like a cookie?”
“I have a Grandmother; she’s just not here,” I explain.
“Oh my God, they lost your Grandmother?” another woman shouts. A worried buzz sweeps over the crowd. Suddenly, a woman who clearly must have been the model for Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, asks, “Has anyone seen an old woman?”
“Let me tell you, young man,” George says, shaking my hand, “your surgeon has done an excellent job.”
In the time it took the director and crew to set up our next shot, I had committed to a game of imaginary shuffle-board, promised to perform The Nutcracker (after lunch), and had “arranged” marriages with at least three separate grandsons, plus George’s granddaughter.
Finally, the director announces we’re ready for the next scene. Our “set” is located in the rec-room of the ward, much to the chagrin of the patients.
“Move to that side!” an elderly man commands as I walk past his chair. I hesitate, and walk back in the direction I came from.
“Go to that side!” he repeats, this time pointing to the opposite side.
A woman in her nineties shouts, “Don’t you listen to him!” while racing from one end of the room to the other, according to where he’s pointing. “He doesn’t get whatever he wants. You hear that, Oscar?” she adds, out of breath, and spouting some very creative curses. “You don’t get to order people around! I’m not going to dance to your fiddle!” she announces, still shuffling from one side to the other.
In the meantime, the nurses are desperately trying to herd the patients into the next room. However, since the residents are accustomed to sitting in the rec-room every day at these hours, they’re confused and continue to wander back in.
Despite the discombobulating surroundings, I know I have to refocus and concentrate. So I take a deep breath, and wait for the director to call “Action!”.
The next scene calls for me to run through the hallways, nervously looking around. Too bad the other patients can’t remember what’s going on from one take to the next.
“Why do you keep running?” one patient shouts, interrupting the scene for the fourth time.
“Who are you looking for?” another chimes in anxiously, forgetting our repeated explanations to the same question.
“Are you Greta’s granddaughter?” another asks me for the umpteenth time. “She died, you know. Oh, weeks ago. You’ll never find her now.”
Exasperated, the director pleads with the nursing staff to do a better job of containing their patients. By this time, an elderly man has placed himself in front of the camera, telling his life story to the audience he’s sure has come to learn about his life. Another woman is trying to persuade the cameraman to come to her room and film her antique collection.
Just then, a woman approaches me and whispers nervously, “Where am I? Am I dead?” She looks around, and studies the illuminating glow surrounding my body. “Are you an angel?”
“Kill the spotlight!” I say quickly to the lighting crew, who immediately exterminate my halo. The woman slowly reaches out her hand to touch me.
“No, I’m not an angel,” I say gently, allowing her to stroke my hair.
“Then I’m in Hell?” she screams, suddenly, and begins to whimper. “Who are all of you? Where am I? What’s going on?”
I’m not sure how to calm her, so I rush down the hallways and urge the first nurse I meet to come help.
By the time we arrive back at the set, the woman is in an utter state of panic and yelling in a trembling voice: “Oh Hell! Where am I?”
Seeing this, the nurse stops in her tracks.
“Sonya!” She scolds the lady, “What are you doing?”
And just like that, Sonya looks from me to the rest of the startled crew—and bursts out laughing.
“You called the nurse?!” Sonya chuckles. “Wow, I really got you good! What did you think, that I was senile? Did you really believe I thought I was dead?” she’s laughing so hard her face is turning red.
Me and the rest of the crew just stand there, speechless.
The nurse looks at us sympathetically. “She does this sometimes,” then she turns to Sonya. “Get back to the group before you give someone a heart attack.”
“You should have seen their faces!” Sonya brags proudly. “They thought I was one of those nutty old ladies!”
“Well, if we didn’t then, we sure do now,” the grip man mumbles, shaking his head incredulously.
“I haven’t been dead in weeks,” Sonya tells the nurse. “God, it’s good to be alive again,” she shouts, prancing down the hall.
In the background an old lady is shouting: “Get me out of here! I want to get up!” I realize she’s strapped down to her chair, apparently for her own protection.
That’s when I take in the full picture: Nurses holding syringes, orderlies spoon-feeding the elderly, catatonic figures wandering aimlessly, and bored, old people finding comic relief by playing practical jokes on innocent visitors. I’m suddenly overcome with a wave of emotion. It occurs to me, that in a few hours, the director will yell “That’s a wrap!”, and we’ll all go home. But these people will continue living in Never-Never Land, unaware of the world around them. My heart goes out to them.
As an actress, I use my surroundings to my advantage and channel my whirlwind of feelings to play out in my character. Normally, I need to delve into deep-seeded memories, or surmise the power of imagination to reach the necessary emotional state of my character. But today I just have to look around.
But as a person, I want to be anywhere but here.
After twelve grueling hours in this nightmarish reality we are ready to call it a day. Time to pack-up and stop disrupting the resident’s routine and schedule.
We don’t belong here, I think to myself, surveying my pink puffy outfit.
But glancing at the wrinkled, smiling, senseless faces around me dressed in repulsive hospital gowns, I wonder— Do they?
“So long, suckers!” Sonya yells joyously as we wave goodbye.
“We should play again sometime!” yells the toothless lady.
“Hope your reproductive organs still work!” George yells and whispers to his friend, “Would you believe she’s a man?”
I grin and exit the twilight zone.
What can I say? I’m just a Tel-Aviv actress enjoying – almost – every day.
November 30, 2009 | 1:38 pm
Posted by Tiferet Peterseil
Tiferet Peterseil is being kept awake by the noisy construction work outside her window! —was my Facebook status at 2:00 AM.
To which the following “Comments” were received:
Friend one: Poor thing!
Friend two: Did you try ear plugs?
Friend three: Hope they stop soon…
Anonymous creepy guy I don’t know: Why don’t you come sleep over ME?
Apparently, he wasn’t joking. Because he proceeded to instant message me, making it clear that the offer was a genuine one.
Not only did this comment seem rude and misplaced – coming from a man (at least I assume he’s a man) I’ve never met—but what’s worse, I felt he had invaded my privacy by extending an x-rated invitation on a public forum for all to see, including my family.
I’m not sure what’s more embarrassing, his crude proposal or my younger sister’s naive response—
Sister #9: Ooh, a pajama party! You’re so lucky, Tiferet! Have fun!
As my “wall” began to stream in comments from people I didn’t know, it suddenly dawned on me that I have about 150 friends on Facebook, 12 of which I’m sure I actually know. I began to wonder:
Why do so many people use Facebook? Is it simply to meet strangers and kill time? Or can it be a useful tool for a budding actress in Tel Aviv?
When I first opened my Facebook account, I did it for the sole purpose of spying on my kid sister’s social life, (97 male friends versus 3 females, including me and my two sisters!). It had never dawned on me that Facebook could be anything more than a ridiculous pastime, a way to goof around, posting pictures of monkeys and tagging them as my brother.
But then the strangest thing happened: people from my past, like old high-school friends, ex-boyfriends and other long forgotten folk I had simply (or purposely) lost touch with over the past 20 years, began sending me “friend” requests.
And it didn’t stop there. What really surprised me, was being contacted by all-too-friendly people I had never known to begin with!
One man, in particular, insists he is my most avid fan and confesses his love for me on a daily basis. I told him I found that creepy, since he’s never met me. This sure backfired. He considered my response “words of encouragement” and now writes me TWICE a day.
But many of the strangers I’ve befriended on Facebook, are actually really nice, and even interesting and exciting. It seems everyone is looking to network.
I was curious about this phenomenon. Could it be there are other purposes for Facebook, besides posting embarrassing photos on my siblings’ “wall”?
“FB is a quick, efficient form of PR,” says my PT (physical therapist), and he’s not talking about the quickest road to recovery. From my bridge-like position on the Yoga ball, focusing on the flow of blood into my brain, I hear his voice muffled in the background. “Not only is it a great way to meet singles and make new friends,” he continues, “but it’s an important and creative marketing tool for almost any company or product.”
My PT, Shai Greenberg, is one of the best in the country, and I can always bank on him to help me feel better. What’s more, besides manipulating my body he manipulates my mind as well, throwing in some useful advice while doing it.
“How does—” I manage to puff out, as my PT places my feet on the ball and has me elevate myself into the air.
Am I up or down? I wonder.
Are those my toes or his? I re-wonder.
“Because of the Internet and the speedy access we have to everything,” he answers (to what I’m not sure), “the only way to succeed is self-promotion. And Facebook provides just that!” he assures me, flipping me on my stomach where he proceeds to put “Part A” (my left leg) over “Part B” (my right shoulder) and “Part C” (my right arm) through “Part A”.
Do I make a wish now?Is all I think of.
“How?” I ask, not exactly sure where my mouth is.
“Okay, for example,” he says, pulling my leg up so I can speak clearly into it. “You’re a wine lover, right?”
I nod with my right foot.
“So, a great way for you to find out about wine-tastings events is to befriend other people who share your common interest. Then while you’re checking out this “friend’s” profile, you see he loves a certain band. Figuring you already have something in common, you check to see if your tastes in music are similar too.”
For reasons I’m unsure of, he’s now balancing a big red ball on the tip of my nose, and insisting I don’t let it fall. He’s nothing if not creative.
Is there an opening for a human seal in the circus?
“So now you’ve been exposed to new music, and the band may have even gained a fan, and it hasn’t cost anyone a dime. So the more “friends” you have, the faster word will spread about people/companies and the quicker products will circulate. That’s PR.”
I sneeze, and the ball bounces off. One leg flips out and I hear a distinct “Pop!”
“Good,” he assures me as he reconnects the errant foot.
“Still hurting?” he asks, noticing I have one leg un-prezeled. He has me flip over, assuring me he has a new method of pain relief.
“But can Facebook actually help promote me as an actress?” I ask, realizing my mouth works.
“Yeah, and here’s how,” he says, ripping some thick tape and pasting it on my back. “In the era of fast information, in order for something to sell, people prefer to be familiar with it. By getting your name out you’re actually encouraging people to seek you out in movies, thereby the demand for casting you will go up.”
He’s busy taping me now. While “The Mummy” was always one of my favorite movies, I never really wanted to star in it. He carefully “wraps up” his work.
“Any self respecting celebrity,” he continues and for some reason reaches for a pen, “or famous TV show or movie actor will have a Facebook page and Tweeter account. Self promotion. Any public, admired figure is expected to be accessible to his/her constituents. That’s how it works today.”
He unpacks me and I manage to pick myself up.
“Are you kidding me?!” I ask, aghast by the strips of bright blue tape zig-zagging across my back.
“It’s a technique called taping.”
“I can see that. But why don’t we just put up a florescent sign saying Mug Me instead. People will see me from a mile away!”
“So wear something with a back to it. Just be sure not to take it off for a few days.”
“A few days?! But how will I go swimming? EVERYONE will see this!” I reply, leaning into the mirror to take a closer look.
“It’ll be worth it. I really think the taping will help you feel better.”
“Okay,” I say, unconvinced. “But that doesn’t explain why you signed your name and wrote both your office number and your cell on the tape.”
“That, my dear,” he says proudly, “is good PR.”
Since I couldn’t go swimming for a while, I did some research to test out my physical therapist’s theory. Sure enough, most TV shows tweet to their fan base regularly. I’ve just joined Steven Spielberg’s group, and couldn’t believe how simple it was to send Tom Cruise a friendship request (although he seems to be taking his time accepting).
While I’m doing all this, I get an instant message from my most avid (rabid?), fan.
Anonymous creepy guy: I sent you flowers, hope they smell wonderful.
You won’t give me you’re address, so they’re virtual.
And right now, I’m sending you a big hug and kiss.
Good night, beautiful.
As usual, I log off without answering Mr. Creepy, which obviously doesn’t seem to bother him, since I continue to receive his daily blessings and “gifts”. Apparently he’s perfectly content with unrequited love – and a non-response.
I was thinking of de-friending him, but I’m trying to be a positive example for Tom Cruise (who’s still playing hard to get). So I guess I’ll live with getting hugs and kisses from Mr. Creepy every night—as long as they’re virtual.
Since I don’t have blue-colored tape to stick on people, I intend to PR myself on Facebook. I even have a fan page. (Hey, if it’s good enough for Spielberg…)
So go ahead, (Tom, make my day!)
November 25, 2009 | 11:13 am
Posted by Tiferet Peterseil
When I woke up Monday morning coughing, sneezing and with the general feeling that a truck hit me, reversed, and ran me over again – my first thought was: Uh-oh, I’m screwed. I had an audition in an hour that required I be in tip-top shape. I scrambled out of bed and brushed my teeth while repeating the mantra: “I’m not sick….I’m not sick.”
No one likes to be sick. No one can really afford to get sick. But as far as I know, there are only three professions where no matter how sick you are, as long as you’re conscious, it’s “business as usual”:
Being The President, a Model or an actor.
Skipping or rescheduling my audition wasn’t an option. I had prepared for this role all week. I knew the lines by heart, I had done all the character research – I knew what she would wear, how she would talk, and even what color lipstick she would wear. All I needed now was to show up and show them my stuff (Unfortunately, some of my “stuff” was flying through the air as I sneezed three times in succession).
Nevertheless, I refused to admit to myself I had THE FLU.
I glanced at my reflection.
It’s not a pretty picture looking at yourself in the mirror when you’re sick. I yelled in surprised, startled by the reflection of a grayish, leathery face and bloodshot eyes. I felt the sudden urge to snort, and roll around in mud. Where was my beautiful blonde hair? Where were my china blue eyes? (oh wait, I never had those to begin with….)
This wasn’t fair. I had prepared for this audition. Everything was in place. This role was perfect for me. How could I suddenly get sick?
Times like these I realized that my closest friend was, unfortunately, good old Murphy.
“Out of all the days to get me sick, you had to pick today?” I yell at my reflection, wondering if I’d be calling out to an imaginary figure if I didn’t have fever. “Why’d you have to go make up such a retarded law anyway?!”
No! Murphy’s Law wasn’t going to get the better of me this time. I WAS going to show up at the audition, and I WAS going to be at my A game. It’s just a small case of the sniffles, that’s all, I told myself. And immediately set to work to fix my situation. I could cover my face with make-up, and wear something extra warm clothes o stop my involuntary shaking. Okay, it’s not how I planned, but it’ll work. I’m fine.
I had just managed to convince myself that I look and feel like a (half a) “million dollars”, when my friend, Jim calls.
“You sound like shit” Jim says shamelessly. “Unless you’ve had a sex change, I suggest you stay in bed.”
“Jim! I have an audition in half an hour and you’re not helping,” I warn him.
“Whoa. In that case, I hope you don’t look as bad as you sound.”
“I’m hanging up now….” Jim is great for a lot of things. But NOT for making you feel better.
“Okay, okay, I know what you can do. What’s bothering you? Head cold? Soar throat? Coughing?”
“All of the above.”
“Okay, just eat the following things, and we’ll have you back on your feet in ten minutes!” Jim promises.
Jim is a health freak (but I consider anyone who doesn’t live off coffee, cake and popcorn to be a little “out there”). In general, everything about Jim is a little too meticulous. The way he organizes all the clothes in his closet by color; the way he dresses (His boots have 3-inch heels on them!), the way he speaks (Hebrew with a French accent – although he doesn’t know a word of French), and the people he hangs out with (rich and famous—except for me). Jim is a man who takes his figure, his looks and his health all too seriously. Worst of all, he’s sure the rest of the world could stand to learn a thing or two from him.
“You need to eat two cloves of garlic and raw ginger,” Jim advises.
“Ewwww! That sounds disgusting!”
“Don’t worry, because then you wash it down with a cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice.”
“Do you mean lemonade?”
“No, just lemon juice.”
I consider this for a moment. “But I can’t walk into an audition smelling like garlic!” I protest.
“You didn’t let me finish the recipe,” he continues. “Then after all that, you down two shots of whisky, and you’re good to go.”
“I can’t come to an audition tipsy and reeking of alcohol either!”
“Well, you can’t go sick!”
“I’m not sick… I’m just… Jim! What’s that noise?” I wonder aloud at the eerie squish-squish sound over the line.
“Nothing, I’m just rubbing in some hand-sanitizer.”
“I’m not contagious over the phone.”
“Famous last words,” I hear him mumble. “Hey, didn’t you say the audition is for a role of a girl who tried to kill herself the night before?”
“Yeah….” I say cautiously.
“So, problem solved! After having her stomach pumped and being depressed, I’m sure she looks like shit too. ”
I hang up with Jim, exasperated.
But it turns out Jim is only the tip of the iceberg. When you’re sick, everyone seems to be filled with useful-less advice.
My parents call from Jerusalem, putting me on speaker.
“What you need, is some good old fashioned Chicken Soup!” My father announces.
“Abba, you’re still in denial that I’m a vegetarian.”
My Mother reads down a list of medications and decongestants that she insists will whip me in shape for the audition.
“I don’t think so, Ima. Remember last time I was sick? You gave me those antihistamines you promised were for the day, and wouldn’t make me drowsy. Thirty-five minutes later I was sound asleep on the bus, and missed my stop by two cities! And don’t get me started on the time you confused ear drops with nose drops, Uch! That tasted disgusting!”
“Plus,” my father adds, on queue, “we had to scream into your nose for a week! That was the only way you could hear us properly.”
A quick “Thanks but no thanks,” as my friend, Miri, calls on my land line.
She suggests a more “natural” approach. But I assure her I can’t show up stoned to my audition.
My Brother (#4) takes the extreme physical approach and suggests 20 pushups, 40 deep knee bends, 60 crunches and he guarantees I’ll feel good as new. I assure him if I felt well enough to do all that, I wouldn’t worry about the audition.
My sister (#6) takes a more psychological approach: “Feeling sick is just a result of some unsolved conflict in your mind. Clean your mind and the disease will disappear,” she advises. When I ask her what that means, she just answers “not all of life has to have meaning.”
My older sister (#1), an avid fan of “The Secret” takes the cerebral approach: “Listen, whenever I take the kids to the mall, we all envision a perfect parking spot. And I’m telling you, not once has this failed. Every time we go to the mall, there’s not only one parking spot, but the whole floor is empty of cars!”
“That’s because no one else goes to the mall at 7:30 in the morning,” I remind her.
“I like to avoid rush hour. Anyway, I’m telling you, just envision yourself healthy, and imagine you’re ideal self at the audition. Then picture yourself getting the part and it’s yours.”
By the time I get to my destination, I’ve envisioned myself strong, healthy and confident about a million times. I slap on my dashing smile, pull back my shoulders, and enter the casting room.
“You look like you’re about to fall off your feet,” the director says dryly, bursting my bubble. “Are you sick?”
“No!” I reply quickly, “Just a little run-down.”
“You must be Tiferet?” he says skeptically, looking from my glamorous headshot to the real live sniffilufigous in front of him. “I’m Raffi, The Director.”
He gives me a polite nod, but I notice that he won’t risk shaking my hand. (which is probably a good idea since I keep coughing into it.)
“Are you up for crying?”
“Excuse me?” I ask. “I’m sorry, all this liquid in my ears. I thought you said something about crying.”
“Well, this scene calls for crying,” Raffi replies.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve played several roles which require crying, but this was the first time I’d ever been asked to cry at an audition.
“Um, normally there’s a lot of preparation involved in crying,” I explain. “And I was under the impression that I was to prepare the scene you sent me?”
“Yeah, but that’s less important. The only thing I really need to be sure of is that you can cry in the exact way I’m looking for. Try and think of something sad.”
He turns on the camcorder and aims it at me.
Right now, this seems the saddest situation I can think of. Here I am, red nosed and droopy-eyed, trying to focus all my attention on getting in character and conveying real emotions and he wants me to… cry? I’ve never been the spontaneous crier type.
“Now,” the director says from behind the camera. “I don’t want just a few tears. I want a whole waterfall! When I say ‘ACTION!’ I want you to break out in hysterical bawling….Ready?” he asks rhetorically, and before I can blow my nose, yells “ACTION!”
I just sit there, shocked, and at a complete loss for words. Or tears. The director waits anxiously, and the room gets so quiet that I can hear him swallow.
You know the saying “Laughter is the best medicine?” Well, I’m almost positive I can hear Murphy laughing from the corner of the room, and for no reason at all, I suddenly join him.
The director looks up, surprised. (he probably doesn’t understand what’s so funny, since he only sees one of us.)
“Sorry,” I tell him, shaking my head, and accepting the sad truth. “But this isn’t gonna happen.”
If my head had not been throbbing, my throat burning, and brain in a medicated daze, maybe, just maybe I would’ve succeeded in focusing enough on crying.
And maybe not.
There are certain things you’re never asked to do at the audition itself: cry, kiss and take off your clothes. Generally, if you’re asked to do any of these things on the spot, something is fishy.
I remember in acting class we had a girl who could always cry (even when the scene didn’t warrant it!). But the thing is, except for crying, she’d never show any real emotion. My teacher called her “A Crying Whore”, meaning she could “put out” tears without thinking. He used her as a negative example to explain that when you act, first get in touch with the emotion at hand, and if crying is where it leads you, so be it.
Still, I wondered if not “crying on demand” made me less of a professional. Had I failed as an actress?
Waiting for the bus, feeling let down and disappointed, coughing and sneezing, I realized that if I was looking for sympathy, the streets of Tel Aviv were the wrong place to find it. Every time I coughed, people nervously crossed to the other side of the street; others just glared, silently accusing me of polluting their germ-free-smog-full air.
Once on the bus, things really got uncomfortable as people pointed to me and whispered to their seat-mates. I could swear I even heard a woman two seats in front of me say, “Don’t you hear? Her cough is high pitched and squeaky, just like an oink. If that isn’t Swine Flue I don’t know what is.”
When my coughing fit increased to the point that tears were streaming down my cheek, and all the passengers moved away from me and to the front of the bus, I took the hint, and got off 4 stops early.
By the time I got home, I felt angry for failing my audition, feverish and sore, and felt the urge to check for leprosy (Had my nose fallen off during one of my sneezing fits?). When Jim called again, he of course, had his own way of showing support.
“I would love to come cook you some home-made soup, except I don’t want to risk breathing the same air as you. But just so you know I care – how about I drive over and leave a few packets of instant soup in your mailbox? It’s outside your building, isn’t it?”
In case you’re wondering, I actually tried Jims’ instant remedy for the flu. The only change it stirred in me was a strong sense of nausea, and the hiccups.
I sat down and jolted a sentence I seemed to remember, on a nearby napkin. I was trying to figure out the exact wording, when I heard a knock at my door. To my surprise, there stood my ever-loving brother, (#3) holding large grocery bags.
“Hey sis, heard you’re sick,” he says, letting himself in and placing the grocery bags on my kitchen table.
“Not sick, just a feeling a little –” he puts his hand over my mouth.
“No, you’re sick. So…” He begins opening the bags, taking out different items. “I brought our patient some ice-cream and drinks and tea bags and a box of your favorite blue jellybeans…” He hands me a pre-opened box of HIS favorite blue jellybeans. “Um…. Weird thing, they sell them in half packages now…” he says as I notice the blue coloring on his finger tips.
“Did you just drive all the way from Jerusalem for me?” I ask, amazed.
“Don’t worry about it. By the way, Ima packed in all these medications for you, and Abba sent you some chicken soup.”
Turns out, I can be moved to tears in an instant.
“That’s so sweet! But I don’t want you to feel that every time I’m not feeling well you have to drive an hour to take care of me.”
“Yeah, me too. So how about you save us both the trouble and get a boyfriend already?” He smiles at me and leans-in to give me hug. “Gee, you don’t have to cry about it, you’ll get one eventually,” he jokes, and kisses my forehead, clearly un-phased by my germs.
But then he sniffs the air a couple of times, and after I hiccup, adds, “Sis, you smell like alcohol and it’s only 2 in the afternoon. Are you developing a habit?”
I shake my head. He moves towards the table, picks up the napkin I had scribbled on earlier, and reads it aloud:
“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
“I knew it! This is from AA.!”
“No it’s not, it’s like a religious saying or something,” I insist.
“Sis, the first step to recovery is admitting you have a prob–“
“No,” I grab it from him, and smile. “Believe it or not, I was just summing up my day.”
For me, the day was an example of all my hard work, preparation and positive thinking, not paying off.
I couldn’t foresee getting sick. I couldn’t foresee that I’d be asked to cry at the audition. I couldn’t predict anything.
I guess sometimes the biggest challenge in life is to accept that we don’t control everything. Oh yes, we control a lot of our fate, but there’s always that small percentage that really isn’t up to us.
On the other hand, not having control about everything in your life, is also a plus. I could never have foreseen my brother showing up at my door-step, just when I needed him most. And that was a wonderful surprise.
The serenity to accept that things I can’t change.
Thanks to high doses of cough-syrup, I finally feel serene, (except for the fact that Mom failed to mention it had caffeine in it, which is why I’m wide awake and writing at 4:00 am).
Sometimes trying my best will just have to be good enough, and the rest I’ll have to leave in the hands of higher being or entities (like the Director….).
So right now I guess I have to face facts that – yes, I’m sick. And I plan to spend the next 24 hours curled up under the covers, and eating my brothers’ favorite blue jellybeans.
This much I will accept.
But I draw the line at growing a snout and curly tail.
November 19, 2009 | 1:01 pm
Posted by Tiferet Peterseil
Miri, like me, is an actress. But although we share the same profession, I assure you, we don’t compete for the same roles. Miri is petite, blond, full bosomed, and a few years my senior (believe me, you’d never guess!). She’s a living, breathing Barbie Doll and usually, if you’re not talking about Ken or her latest interests, she just turns herself off and looks blank (blanker even than when she’s talking about Ken). But don’t think she’s ignoring you – Miri doesn’t have a sarcastic, mean, hurtful, or snide bone in her body. And if you ever saw the way she contorts her body you’d probably wonder if she has any bones at all. Her attention span is rivaled only by her ability to change subjects.
She does have what I call a “vampire cat” who is forever trying to tear her hair out and sink her fangs into Miri’s Snow White neck. Not that Miri notices. And if you’re looking for a great night out with the girls – forget it – just take Miri. She’s the reason people say “Blondes have more fun!”
So, whenever I’m looking to unwind and take life a little less seriously, Miri is my address.
“How tight for money are you exactly?” Miri asks, desperately trying to cuddle her killer cat that is clawing at her wildly.
“According to my calculations, I have about 40 shekels to live on for the next 10 days,” I answer, wondering if she really thinks her cat can be cuddled.
“But you know me,” I add quickly, “I’m like a cat with nine lives. I always land on my feet.”
At the sound of the word “cat” Miri’s cat lunges at me, but Miri holds onto her tail letting her swing upside down in the air.
“So I sat and crunched some numbers,” I continue, trying to make myself heard above the din of the screeching cat, “and made a list of my expenses to see what I can cut back on. Here’s the list of stuff I crossed out.” I reach into my bag and hand Miri my list.
“You crossed off electricity?” Miri wonders, out loud.
“Sure, why not? I have two working flashlights. I love cold soup. And they promised a warm winter,” I explain.
“Hot water is a luxury. So is cold water. “
“TRANSPORTATION – you can’t possibly walk the 40 miles to your physical therapist!”
“Nah, read the next item. I crossed out physical therapy too. Who needs him? I have the other leg to lean on…”
“ Don’t be insulted if I stop calling you. Anyway, cells are dangerous to your health.”
“And with the cutbacks you still have –“
“Yup! 40 shekels,” I proudly announce. “That’s $1.10 a day IF the dollar holds against the shekel.”
“What about food expenses?”
“Here.” I hand her my newly updated shopping list, and Miri reads down the list:
“ Vegetables, Fruit, Cereal, Milk, Bread, Eggs, Pastrami – “ Suddenly she looks up at me. “But you crossed out EVERYTHING except bread and mustard!”
“What, you thought I was born thin?!”
“Listen, we can figure this out. All you need is –“
“All I need is a job.” I tell her.
Don’t raise your eyebrows like that, I know I have a job. I’m an actress, that’s my full-time job. But an actor has to play lots of parts. Like waitressing and bar-tendering, and that old Hollywood standby - babysitting. It’s actually very good practice, pretending to work at all these other jobs; and how many people do you know who get paid while practicing their craft? Fact is, over the last few years I’ve played more characters off stage, than on. My resume includes such diverse roles as gymnastics’ coaching, teaching, graphic design, project manager, law secretary, and publicity director. The list goes on. And every time I take on a new persona, I always ask myself at least 3 of the 7 questions the great Stanislavsky had his actors ask themselves:
What (the heck!) am I doing here? How (on earth!) did I get here? And what (in God’s name!) is the point of all of this?
Apparently, the path to stardom is littered with depressing self-analysis.
“When I signed on for a career as a starving actress, I never realized it was a way of life!” I finally admit. “And now I have to take a full-time job just because I need to eat and like to see where I’m going in my apartment. But once I take a full time job how will I be able to make myself available to go on last-minute auditions, or unexpected interviews, or emergency rehearsals?”
“I know what you mean. I just started a new job myself. It pays really well.”
“Really, what is it?”
“I’m an animal psychic now.”
Figures Miri would find a creative way to make money.
“You mean you can talk to dead animals?”
“Not exactly talk.”
“Well, can you talk to live animals? I mean, what do you say to the pet owners about what they’re animals are telling you?”
“What do you mean? If it’s a dog, I bark a bit, and he barks back – I do better with boy dogs – and then I just repeat whatever he said to his owner.”
“In what language?”
“In English, silly. This morning a dachshund told me that he’s in love with his owner’s best friend, and that he feels guilty about his emotions. He wanted me to ask the owner’s friend to take him away with him. ”
“Are you serious?”
“For $300 an hour of course I’m serious. Tiferet, I’ve always felt cursed with this ability to talk to animals. As a child, I remember running to my parents yelling “Zidy’s going to kill herself! Zidy’s going to kill herself!” But no one would listen. They thought I was being silly. But the next day Zidy killed herself.” Miri started to cry.
“How did she die?” I asked, feeling sorry for my friend.
“Drowned.” She replied.
“Your dog drowned? Did he jump into your pool?”
“We didn’t have a pool Tiferet. And we didn’t have a dog. The one time my parents brought home a dog they were upset that I was spending so much time talking to her, so they gave it away. Don’t ask how that dog cursed out my parents.”
“So who drowned?” I foolishly ask.
“My pet goldfish,” came the remarkable answer. “I knew it was going to happen. She kept doing a backdive into the bottom of the bowl.”
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Before I can decide, Miri changes the subject.
“So you understand that with my unique talent I just had to open a Psychic Animal Center. I wish you could talk to animals so you could make all the money I’m making,” she says sweetly, and means it.
All this time the cat is hanging upside down and actually getting a bit red around the whiskers. It has long since stopped screeching.
“Ask Whiskers,” Miri suddenly says. “Don’t we have great communication?” she asks, picking up her cat by the scruff of her neck and planting a fat kiss on her forehead. The cat perks up enough to try and bite her nose.
“I didn’t know cats could growl,” I point out, noticing the cat’s mouth curve up into a snarl.
“Oh, she’s just expressing herself,” she pats Whiskers’ head lovingly. “What? What did you say? Of course, sweetheart.” Then she flings her cat onto the nearby sofa. Whiskers decides she’s had enough and shoots out of the room.
“What did she say?” I asked, unable to resist the urge.
“Of course, the cat.”
“Just a bunch of gibberish,” she assures me. “Forget about Whiskers. I think I have the job for you.”
“I don’t bark and I don’t understand bark,” I remind her.
“No. Did you call my photographer friend last week? The one I told you was looking for a portrait model?”
“The one who offered to pay me with a one hour massage.”
Miri raises her eyebrows. “You should take it, he’s got great hands!”
“Maybe, but he wants me to do the massaging!”
“What’s the difference?” Miri counters.
I think about running after the cat.
“I know what will make you feel better,” Miri says brightly, taking out her stash and rolling a joint.
“No,” I explain, “that’s what makes YOU feel better. I’ll feel better when I can stop reading by flashlight.”
I kiss Miri goodbye, check to make sure Whisker’s is not lying in wait somewhere, and walk back home the long way, intending to peek my head in the local pubs to see if they need a bartender.
Although I consider myself to be the eternal optimist, I can’t say that moments like these don’t get me down.
Over the past week I’ve been offered several different positions, from full time nanny, to full-time marketer of a theater, and full time writer at a publishing house (all you can read – Free!).
But all these jobs demand all my time. My career would be on hold. All of which would mean I’d be settling for making money to stay alive. But not to LIVE.
Right now, part of my job is waking up every morning and re-making that same decision—not to give up.
But until my lucky break comes along, do me a favor – send this link to your friends. It’ll help me with my stop-gap plan – to get a raise from this newspaper.
November 17, 2009 | 3:51 pm
Posted by Tiferet Peterseil
I don’t know how it works in LA, but in Tel Aviv there are only two occasions on which traffic literally stops. One is Yom Kippur, and the other was last Sunday night. But as I strolled along the deserted streets of Tel Aviv, I couldn’t for the life of me remember what Holiday it was. First, no one had been taking my calls for the last half hour, and now it seemed I was the last remaining person on the planet.
What did everyone know that I didn’t?
Luckily, it didn’t take me too long to find out. I walked into a local kiosk and found the owner staring up at the TV screen, with a few other customers crowded around the tube.
“Excuse me,” I began, but received no sign of life. Had the body-snatcher invasion began?
“Excuse me,” I tried again, a little louder. “Where do you keep the milk?”
Without batting an eyelash, the kiosk owner pointed me to a spot behind him and to the right. But before I re-routed myself, I glanced up at the screen and found out that the body snatchers of Hollywood East had done it again.
Tonight was the first night of the second season of the wildly successful reality show: “Big Brother”. And apparently there wasn’t a single resident in Tel Aviv that was going to miss it.
I joined the zombies riveted to the television, determined to find out why exactly “Big Brother” has become a show that hypnotist’s would give their “lean back and relax” couches for.
The opening season introduced 16 colorful characters, ranging from a hot, single Mom, a trans-gender, a gay loner from a religious home, and even a deaf model. Then they hit the audience with the perfect couple: an overpowering pregnant woman who revealed way more skin than I would have liked to see, holding the tight leash of her pathetically hen-pecked husband.
The real clincher – for me – was the criminal-defense attorney who, when asked what he was extremely good at, answered “hitting on women.” This women-beater was a friend of mine. And it dawned on me that three months from now, when the show ends, I’ll know more about him than I’d want to know, or he wanted me to know.
But after seeing the whole country tuning in to the lives of these people, I couldn’t help but wonder:
Is the shortest path to stardom necessarily the right one?
A few months earlier I had been approached by someone casting for “Big Brother”. She felt I was a “character” they still didn’t have, and promised that participating in the show would catapult my career forward.
“The whole world will know you, whether you win or not. You’ll be famous. Doors will open and you’ll be making a ton of money just from the publicity.”
As a kid, sharing a room (or my parents) with my other 8 siblings was almost impossible for me, so how could I share the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” that have made up my life, so far. When she countered that a true actor can “act” her way through any reality experience, I was momentarily tempted to take on the challenge, and finally accept my destiny.
But then the image of all of Israel (at least all of Tel Aviv) tuning in to watch me pour a cup of coffee for myself appeared in front of me. How on earth could I find my 15 minutes of peace and quiet in the morning, if the whole country is judging my excessive caffeine consumption?
I’m sure you understand, I had to turn down the offer, as tempting as it may have been. “As an actress I pride myself in putting masks on, not taking them off in front of the whole country,” I explained to her, putting on my most diplomatic mask.
For me becoming famous through “revelation of self” in a public forum would be traveling the worst path to stardom. I believe that most actors would willingly give up the paparazzi, the invasion of privacy and the rumors that go along with being an established actor. What I want to do is act, and unfortunately, in order to make a proper living off it, loss of animosity is an unfortunate side-effect of being recognized for you skills. So I’m willing to lose “some” of my self, but not stand naked in front of the world pointing out my personal flaws (assuming I have any).
Yet I have to admit that lately, reality stars are in the consciousness of the Israeli public much more than actors, movies and TV shows. Reality shows are cheaper, give their audiences instant gratification as they invade every nook and cranny of their contestant’s life. In other words, it’s a peep show we don’t have to pay anything for.
On the plus side, if you want to stroll down the streets of Tel Aviv Sunday nights, you’ll finally get a little quiet.
November 13, 2009 | 6:05 am
Posted by Tiferet Peterseil
It had been going wonderfully so far. The Utopian atmosphere enveloping the audience made us feel that indeed, Israeli films were getting the international recognition they deserved, proving that in fact, here is Israel, we make good movies. I could almost here the soundtrack of our fuzzy feeling, “…and I think to myself, what a wonderful, wonderful world….”
And then it happened. Enter stage right. Dover Koshashvili takes the mike and the soundtrack changes to “You’re so vain….” As he states matter-of-factly, that he will not be swept into our “euphoria”, and that we are too quick to celebrate the success of Israeli films. Our movies, he says, are “mediocre”… at best.
Let me set stage: “Sam Spiegel – Film & Television school Jerusalem” is celebrating 20 years, and yesterday they organized a 12 hour conference to commemorate the event, at the Cinemateque in Jerusalem. The topic: “The Vision of Israeli Cinema” features well-known personalities and famous members of the Israeli Film Industry such as:
Yael Abecassis (actress and model), Joseph Cedar (Director and Screenwriter), Shuly Rand (actor, singer, director and screenwriter), Ari Folman (Director and Screenwriter), And many more.
When I wasn’t invited to speak, I elegantly crashed the party, and joined the audience of film professionals and Students of the film industry.
Dover Koshashvili, an acclaimed Israeli director (Late Marriage, Gift from Above) dared to burst our bubble, and smash the image of Israeli films playing in the big leagues. In his opinion, Israeli films are not all that good, and he’s not sure if we have the abilities to make them better.
The crowd went wild.
Screaming for blood.
A well-known Israeli actress, a Teacher for the school and a fellow director confronted Dover, accusing him of not bothering to watch Israeli films, of crushing the morale of those present and of generally not arguing in an intellectual manner. Although there were only a handful of people participating in this shout-out, I could feel the ground shaking.
Obviously, Koshashvili was treading thin ice, putting down Israeli films and demoralizing future cinema creators – or – was it his way of giving a motivational speech? When asked why our film producers and directors weren’t good enough, he expressed frustration, and couldn’t understand why we didn’t see it for ourselves. Finally, he added: “They’re not Fellini.”
But I was curious. Was Koshashvili on a self-hating rampage? Did the industry deserve his wrath? Did they really care all that much?
I spent the next several hours interviewing many of the students, and was surprised to learn that most of them did in fact agree with him. They just didn’t feel comfortable expressing their opinion in that particular forum.
But it didn’t make sense. Israeli Films seem to be getting better every year. They’re everywhere. And lately we’ve been on a winning streak, sought after and appreciated by foreign festivals and even nominated for the academy awards. So, if Koshashvili is right you just have to wonder: Does Israel actually deserve the reputation it’s receiving for outstanding film-making?
One film student I interviewed said she had a hard time finding a film worth paying for at the movies, although, she was quick to add, “they are certainly worth downloading.”
Another told me he thought some Israeli films were exceptionally good compared to other Israeli films, but not compared to the films worldwide.
And still another told me that Israeli films all have that heavy atmosphere to them. She had recently come home from Paris and noticed that from the sky, Israel was covered in a cloud , a foggy haze that didn’t dissipate as they came in for a landing. And that, she pointed out, was an appropriate analogy to the film industry.
Tawfik Abu Wael, an accomplished Arab director and screen-writer (Atash) spoke candidly when he told us he didn’t feel part of the Israeli Film industry. He complained about his unique situation: On the one hand he represents Arabs and makes films about Arabs, and on the other hand, Arabs don’t see movies.
Tawfik’s criticism towards the Israeli Film Industry was courageous and unexpected. He felt that there is indeed an Israeli mainstream, a template which most film-makers are afraid to move away from. He said that not all Israelis are gay, not all are soldiers or left wing, and that he himself would love to see an authentic film of Israeli settlers fighting for their land.
At the end of his short talk, a member of the audience screamed out to him: “Would YOU make a film about Israeli Settlers fighting Arabs for their land?”
Without batting an eyelash, he retorted: “Give me a good script and the money and I’ll make it.”
It’s safe to say that most of us left feeling that the future of the Israeli film industry was in dire straits, not only as far as quality of production and subject matter were concerned, but also because of the growing problems of film piracy, disastrous co-productions, and a sever shortage of funding – all issues that were raised, with a relatively pessimistic view as to solving them.
And yet, the same questions continue to haunt me: Why does it seem that Israeli Films are gaining recognition around the world? Is it my imagination? Is it a passing fad?
Are Israeli films popular these days because they’re not politically correct? Is conflict “in”? Are our headlines piquing the curiosity of those who think that war and anger are what good movies are all about? Is it the topics we choose rather than the quality?
Or does Israel, in fact, make good movies?
I need to find the answer…soon…before I’m out of a job.
November 9, 2009 | 12:06 pm
Posted by Tiferet Peterseil
“Are you familiar with the French kiss?” he asks, giving me his most dashing smile, coupled with a more mischievous look.
“Excuse me?” I blurt out, spitting my wine onto the white napkin provided for wiping, not spilling.
No, I’m not talking about my latest date. I’m referring to my very first encounter with the acclaimed wine critic, Daniel Rogov, 6 months ago.
“The French have many ways to bid a maiden farewell, and they are all expressed in the kiss of a hand. Allow me,” he raises my hand to his lips, and proceeds to demonstrate the various, graphic kisses used by the French to woo their women. But I had to admit, if Rogov knew even half as much about wine as he did about impressing women, his reputation was well deserved.
If you don’t know who I’m talking about, allow me to enlighten you. Rogov has established himself as one of Israel’s’ leading wine critics, currently writing a column for “Haaretz”, and a contributor to other international wine books such as “Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book” and” Tom Stevenson’s Wine Report.”
But his real claim-to-fame is his thorough, user friendly wine guide: Rogov’s Guide to Israel wines – 2010 published by “Toby Press”. That’s what this classy celebration at “Derech Hayayin” (The Wine Road), in Tel Aviv, was all about.
Rogov’s comprehensive guide covers over 2000 Israeli wines, 150 Israeli wineries, and a vast amount of information about each wine – even a tasting chart. Adam Montefiore, representing the Carmel Winery, launched the event, assuring everyone that Israeli wines are indeed on the map, due, in no small measure, to Rogov. He described Rogov as the “Ambassador of Israeli wines”, and his guide has helped catapult Israeli wines into the consciousness of wine-drinkers across the world.
But what am I, a humble actress and blogger doing at this classy party?
Like any self-respecting actress, I have done my share of bartending. And for me the wine experience is one of the more delightful. Yet, my appreciation for the beverage is totally subjective and I have never been a gargle-then-spit wine connoisseur. I know the basic rules; smell before tasting, white before red and from experience – never, never drink on an empty stomach.
But what I went there to find out was: Is there such thing as great Kosher wine?
So here I am, mingling among the rich and famous, trying my best to fit in. The only problem is, my brother seems determined to blow my cover.
“What should I try first, Red or White?” he asks me, holding up a sparkling dessert wine and a sweet concord wine.
“Neither,” I say in disgust, motioning for him to hide both glasses. “Act sophisticated, will you? Try a REAL wine, not alcoholic sugared syrup! Here, try this,” I hand him a cup of my favorite pinotage.
Bro takes a sip and scrunches his face in discontent. “This is spoiled. It’s bitter!”
“You simply have to develop your pallet a little more,” I say confidently, straightening up and gargling my wine as professionally as I can, wondering if there was a difference between a dry wine and a wet wine. “This is your chance to taste some great Kosher wines.”
He shakes his head at me. “Tiferet, don’t you know that we Jews are famous for the sweet red wine? You wouldn’t want to break a tradition, would you?” and he gulps his grape-juice tasting beverage down.
He has a point. We all share those same first memories of kosher wine. The sugar rush that courses through your veins with your first sip of Concord Extra Sweet (Pre-Diabetic) Wine. Drink enough Manischewitz and even the Mom’s chicken soup tastes like candy.
In fact, I remember, back in the States, I walked into a liquor store to buy a holiday gift for a family who invited me for a meal. When I asked the salesman to recommend a good kosher wine he looked at me and said: “You want good or kosher. Decide.”
So that’s why Rogov’s OTHER guide, the first of its’ kind, is a very important PR tool for Kosher wines: “Rogov’s Guide to Kosher Wines – 2010: A guide to the world’s 500 Best Kosher wines.”
I was impressed to read in Rogov’s’ kosher wine introduction that making good wine is not a new field for Jews. And in fact, there was life before Manischewitz. Apparently, 2000 years ago, Jews were actually the leading experts on the how-to of alcohol. But that was before the onset of our last Diaspora. When we returned to making wine, some 200 years ago in the USA, our ingredients were limited as was our ability. So there’s good reason Kosher wine has received a bad rep. It really was pretty bad.
And speaking of the “old days”, who hasn’t felt downright envious of those lucky enough to have their Friday night dinner with a “good bottle of wine” - dry, even semi-dry. But most Jews (including my family) brought in the Sabbath with fine foods, respectable guests and 100% Glucose Concord/Malaga wine.
So much for developing connoisseur tastes.
The only thing we developed was cavities.
But I am happy to announce that those days are over. Kosher wine is “in”. So, I dragged my wine-mayven brother over to congratulate Rogov in person.
This time I thought I was prepared. I wore long sleeves and had a package of hand sanitizers in my purse. But nothing really prepares you for Rogov.
“Can I just have a quick picture with you?” I ask, beckoning the photographer in our direction.
“Of course. Will we be getting undressed?” he grins.
“In another time, another place, and a different age gap,” I wink at him. “For right now, let’s just smile at the camera.”
Rogov’s charisma and quick wit are only part of his charm. The other part is he really does know what he’s talking about.
Rogov’s guide will help you to see the light as well as the medium and heavy wines. It will introduce you to wines you may be unfamiliar with, and will teach you how to know when your wine reaches its peak of flavor.
And you’ll be proud to learn that being kosher and liking good wine is no longer an oxymoron.
“Do you maybe have a Danish that will help wash away this taste of alcohol?” my brother asks the waiter, pointing to his cup of Muscat. The waiter frowns in disgust and offers him Blue cheese hors D’oeuvres instead.
“Whoa,” Bro takes a step back. “That cheese has fungus all over it!” Noticing the waiter’s astonished look, he quickly adds, “That’s okay, just throw it right away. I won’t tell your boss you forgot to refrigerate it.”
I smile apologetically to the waiter, and shove my brother in the other direction. “You’re embarrassing me. Now please, let’s pretend to be civilized people, and drink some of this Château stuff,” I hiccup, trying to steady my balance.
My slightly inebriated, hyperactive brother grabs a copy of Rogov’s guide and reads me the following:
“…Whether one enjoys drinking wines in their youth, their adolescence, their early adulthood or in their maturity, their choice is very much a matter of personal taste.
“That means, that if I think sweet wine is delicious – it is!” he concludes, as those around us turn to snicker.
Obviously some people will never learn. Not all common-folk have the capacity to expand their horizons to the sophistication and sensations of good, kosher wine, like me.
But, that cheese really did look like it was growing fungus….
“Come on,” I tell my brother and prepare to exit the party before Rogov gets to say goodbye again, “Let’s go get some rum-raisin ice cream.”