Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Book Review: The Columbus Affair




The Columbus Affair is the new mystery by Steve Berry. I picked up the book in the morning yesterday and finished it at 8pm last night. It was a fun, fast paced read surrounding the question of Christopher Columbus and Jewish history. OK, so how are these two ideas juxtaposed?

Well let me start at the beginning and why this book premise intrigued me. Forty years ago I read a book called Americans All. (No longer in print) It was stories of Jewish-Americans who had made significant contributions to the United States of America over our 400 year history. For an eleven-year-old who was the only Jewish child in her school that book was an amazing find. Now one of the stories was about Christopher Columbus.

The theory postulated that Columbus was a converso, or a secret Jew, who had been forced to convert to Catholicism during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella. The book outlined how Columbus never referred to the New testament, the stain-glassed window in his cabin was a picture of a Star of David and in his journal the night before he sailed he referenced the expulsion of the Jews of Spain. Also the people that financed his voyage was not the King and Queen of Spain but other conversos who were looking for a safe-harbor for the Jewish community and his first mate was also another secret Jew who was fluent in Hebrew and Arabic. Interestingly as well, unlike what Hollywood told you, there was no Priest on board any of his ships. Very odd for it was the time of the Inquisition.

Now, as a child, and so unbelievably proud, I went up to the teacher to tell her what I had just read. In true ignorant and intolerant fashion instead of telling me that I should look into a little more or allowing me to feel proud of my discovery, the teacher ridiculed me in front of the entire class. Making fun of my book, my theories and the entire idea I presented. Her closing argument to me was "You believe what you want and I'll believe what I want." As you can tell, my disdain for members of the teaching profession did not start with those that were cruel to my autistic son.

Honestly, I am not certain that there wasn't some hint of antisemitism in the teacher's reaction. In fact if you look at some private reviews of the book on Amazon you can find some borderline antisemitism in the criticism as well. Some aspects of  human ignorance just don't seem to go away no matter how hard you try to fix society.

Meanwhile, to this day, in my family, whenever we want to make fun of someone's bigotry or ignorance, we turn to each other and repeat that teacher's statement. While she may have thought she taught me the fifth grade curriculum that year,  I learned a different lesson and one of greater import. I learned that no matter where you go or what you do in your life, there will always be one asshole in the room.

So we reach modern day and out comes this book by Steve Berry, who is known to take theories, historical papers, hints of mysteries and turn them into some interesting yarns. Considering my past history with the Columbus legend I just couldn't resist the book. And there it was in print, everything that I had learned so many years ago about Columbus and who he may or may not have been.

What ever you believe or don't believe about Columbus is of no import. If you are looking for a fun diversion with a little real history thrown in to boot, this is the book for you. No, not just about Columbus' voyages, but about Ancient Rome, the destruction of Jerusalem, the Jewish diaspora, the Holocaust with even a touch of Jewish mysticism thrown in for good measure. It is a story that comes full circle from ancient times to modern day politics.

I wish I could have told that 11-year-old-me about the reputable historians in the future who would believe just like she did....

Oh and by the way, we Jews, don't have to claim Columbus at all. In the end, that is fine and not really what compelled me to read this book. History may be full of questions about who Columbus was or was not, but one thing we can all agree upon is that in the end he was a real shmuck to the indigenous population of the Caribbean. His voyages actually brought about genocide and slavery for the native inhabitants. So quite frankly the Catholic Church can actually keep him if they still want him.


Qi en Pace,


Elise




Saturday, June 23, 2012

Exercise for Your Health: Get Moving

One of the hardest parts of beginning an exercise regime is deciding what type of exercise fits with your lifestyle and personality. Here are a few of the latest types of exercise that can be done at home or at a gym. I have tried them all in both places.... I alternate depending on my mood and free time.

ZUMBA



KICKBOX



PILATES



YOGA



LOW IMPACT AEROBICS



These cardio workouts while good overall also don't include strength training per se. Honestly for that all you really need are some small weights. Begin with 2 or 3 pounds and work your way up. I never went above 5 pounds simply because I didn't want to gain muscle mass, just wanted to lengthen the muscles I have.




And while all the above helps with your abs and your core, it is important to specifically target that area of your body. As you age the first thing that goes, especially after children are the abs, and after that your back, particularly your lower back. We all know that lower back pain is absolutely no fun whatsoever.



Remember the biggest killer of women in the USA is heart disease. One of the ways to stem that is to  get moving...at least put on some shoes and walk around your neighborhood and do some simple core exercises. Your body will thank you in the long run and so will all the people that love you when you live longer.

Also if you lose weight fine. If you don't fine. It's about movement, strength and feeling good about yourself.  We are all not going to look like the cover of a fashion magazine....so don't worry that you don't. In fact be glad you aren't that thin.....

Qi en Pace,


Today is strength training day....


Elise




Friday, June 22, 2012

I Bought Myself a Toy

Not THAT kind of toy...sheesh such dirty minds...


OK for you youngsters out there this scene is from the movie When Harry Met Sally

But a hamburger press to make perfect round hamburger patties so the darling men in my life can have burgers that fit on their buns...no not that kind of buns either (really people)....the multigrain whole wheat kind of hamburger-buns....sheesh....the kind of bread product that is supposed to be good for you...well at least the kind of bread product that is not as bad as the white-bread zero nutrient type of bread product....yeah the bread product that tastes like cardboard....




The top is adjustable (you use the screw top handle to fix the size and the nut to hold it in place) so you can make any size burger you want from 1/4 pound to 1 pound...

Seriously, who has a mouth big enough for a 1 pound burger? Who can open up that wide? ....again get your mind out of the gutter...really people (you know Jewish girls do not do that)....


No Jews were harmed in the making of this video (I know, Iran was pissed.)

Yes the patties were a big hit. All was good at dinner time. If the persons in your life are semi-anal and you have a desire to make them happy, you can buy the hamburger press at Williams-Sonoma. Meanwhile, it was a weird type of therapy to shmoosh all that burger meat. Don't ask me why, it was just extremely satisfying.....(I definitely am hanging around my adolescent son too much....double entendres lead the way)

Yes, I know this was the exciting part of my week. Yes, I need to really get out of the house and quite frankly away from the computer...and no I don't do the naughty sites unless you consider my obsession with twitter,  facebook and my 3 blogs  slightly obsessively naughty ....maybe? not really? OK its a little bit much I know.....

Qi en Pace,



Elise

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Serious Fall Bling

Miu Miu definitely is attracting an interesting fashion crowd....


Madras Jeweled Satchel


Suede Stud Carved Heel Ankle Bootie

These Miu Miu accessories are more like it for us conventional fashion followers....

Medium Bow Satchel





Suede Peep Toe Bow Ankle Bootie











Of course I will simply stick with my funky dansko clogs for the fall.....






Cute and comfortable does win the day.

I do really like that Miu Miu carved heel though. Very fun.



Qi en Pace,



Elise

Sunday, June 17, 2012

HOMELAND

I spent the weekend glued to my TV set. I originally thought HOMELAND was going to be awful, mostly because I thought liberal-Hollywood would once again make the USA the cause of all the world's ills. Honestly, I simply wasn't in the mood for anti-American crap. However, I decided to give it a bit of a chance, basically because all my wedding dress shows were repeats and I didn't feel like doing chores. Now I'm hooked and I can't wait for season 2.

It's the story of a returning American Iraqi war veteran held prisoner by Islamists terrorists for eight years and the CIA agent who thinks he's been turned by al-Qaeda...Oh and it is anything but anti-American...






Yeah, its getting really interesting....its as if you are watching novels by Tom Clancy, Brad Thor, Vince Flynn, Daniel Silva, Nelson DeMille all rolled into one.

Qi en Pace,


Elise

Chinese-Karate Fantasy Movies

Several years ago there was a craze for Chinese/karate fantasy movies in the USA. It began with the gorgeous sensually sumptuous movie Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Then moved on to lighter more Americanized fare like The Forbidden Kingdom.






watch Jet Li versus Jackie Chan HERE in The Forbidden Kingdom

Then of course the grandaddy of all karate/Chinese movies Enter the Dragon in which the legendary   Bruce Lee versus everyone.




Here Bruce Lee fights Chuck Norris...



Here Bruce Lee fights Kareem Abdul-Jabbar...



Many people don't know that Abdul-Jabbar was one of Lee's students or that Jackie Chan learned the art of movie-karate from Lee as well.





Qi en Pace,


Elise

Friday, June 15, 2012

Nope, I Don't Buy or Read VOGUE

I love fashion. I love everything about fashion, especially the total non-important aspect of fashion. I love the fact that in reality fashion can be apolitical, nonsensical and totally devoid of anything but the "beautiful people." Fashion, while a huge business for those involved, is my world of escape.

From the time I took an interest in fashion, during my nascent teenage years, I like every other red-blooded female (and some male) looked forward to that monthly copy of VOGUE magazine. Oh and that fall issue of almost 1,000 pages of fashion nirvana...heaven. But no, no more.

Anna Wintour the editor-in-chief of VOGUE, one month before the outbreak of the present slaughter of civilians in Syria, decided to grace her readers with an article about Asma Assad, the wife of Syria's dictator Bashar.  The article has since been scrubbed from the website, but you can read it HERE.

It is not as if suddenly Assad became a scumbag. He has been one the world's worst human rights violators for decades as was his his father before him. They are the Borgias, the mafia and the Mexican and Russian drug cartels rolled into one. They are aligned with another great human rights abuser, Iran, and helps funnel arms and money to terrorist organizations like Hezbollah. For those who don't know about Hezbollah, note that the only terrorist group more responsible for the deaths of Americans is al-Queda.

HERE HERE HERE are human rights reports on Syria prior to the present slaughter. Who the Assads are was no secret. At present the slaughter in Syria is characterized by the massacre of children. So far it is estimated that over 13,000 people have been murdered. Syrian history timeline.

When the respected journalist Joan Juliet Buck was asked why she wrote this white-wash of such evil people she actually answered, that Asma is "thin and chic and that is all fashion.." Read HERE.  There comes a time when politics is important, not how thin someone is or whether they wear designer duds.

At the moment that I saw that article 15 months ago, I canceled by subscription to VOGUE and have not read it since. Not even in the nail salon or beauty parlor. In other words, won't buy it or even read it when its free. I have no need for Wintour's point of view on anything anymore. More on the article HERE, HERE

So why now have I decide to write about this article? Well, Wintour hosted a fundraiser for Obama last night. More HERE.



Yes, she can vote for whomever she wants. Raise money for whomever she wants. But when you inject yourself into the political arena, your ethics and outlooks are relevant.  I think everyone needs to know what kind of "moral individual" she happens to be....

By the way, it seems that the Assads are the go-to people now by some in the media..read HERE how Barbara Walters got her interview with the Assads.


The New York Times has a rather interesting take down of both Wintour and Walters. HERE.

No, this doesn't mean I won't watch The Devil Wears Prada anymore...after-all Wintour as evil-serpent-boss has taken on a whole new meaning.




Qi en Pace,


Elise



Monday, June 11, 2012

U.N. Me

I have a confession to make....one of the most exciting periods of my life was when we were able to purchase an apartment right next to the United Nations. In fact our apartment was on the same street as the US Mission to the UN. I used to take my children to play in the UN park across the street from my apartment.  I am not an enemy of the UN, I am an enemy of what the UN has become and how it has abandoned its original purpose.

**************

This blog was created to look at the fun and inconsequential parts of life. I generally do not blog politics or "issues" here. However, this movie, presently available on line and through many cable outlets, needs to be seen. It details the corruption and despotism found throughout the United Nations. The movie details the complete failure of the UN's mission and how the UN diplomats, care more for their status and the status of their "committees" instead of the people they are supposed to help. (If you have been following the circus and clownishness of the UN in dealing with the slaughter in Syria you understand what I mean.) While there are many UN programs that are helpful to the most neediest of people around the globe, there is so much more that needs to be eradicated from the UN inorder to bring its original meaning and purpose to fruition.

It is important to remember that the United States taxpayer paid over 8 BILLION dollars to the UN and is agencies last year. In a time of economic crisis, when too many of our own people don't have enough to eat and descent places to sleep, the question becomes why oh why do we continue to allow our legislatures to get away with funding this travesty?



Go HERE to find out more about this movie.

Watch it on You Tube HERE.

Qi en Pace,



Elise

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Little Zen

ZEN....



No I am not a Buddhist, but I think that we can always learn something from one another. Meditation and seeking a calmer way of being is not a bad thing at all. In our world to day it is always helpful to....

Remember to take time to breathe....



For those looking to learn more about Buddhism HERE is an interesting website I found.


Qi en Pace,


Elise

Friday, June 8, 2012

When Johnny Comes Marching Home




Maybe next time we spend irreplaceable blood and treasure to free a people they will appreciate it.....


Qi en Pace,



Elise

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Act of Valor

I just watched it on pay-per-view....this is the original trailer...



Actually the movie itself was pretty formulaic, and you knew what to expect at every turn....

But you also know that out there, in the worst parts of the world, are these very brave youngmen risking life and limb so that our world stays safe.

Watch this movie, if for no other reason to remind yourself that we are a very lucky nation to have these people, Seals and their families, on our side.


Official Navy Seals Website
Official Navy Seals  Videos
Act of Valor You Tube Channel

Qi en Pace,



Elise

By the way, this post in no way is meant to denigrate the great service of the Army Rangers or Special Forces (Delta Force)., or those in the general infantry on the front lines of battle everyday. We all sleep well at night because these men stand ready to do violence in our name and protect our way of life.

Special Operations Center from Military.com.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Les Miz...The Movie Trailer



For those who never saw the play on Broadway (I saw the original production over two decades ago),  I want you to know that this movie will stay with you forever...PROMISE.


Qi en Pace,


Elise

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Hatfields & McCoys

I spent last week watching History Channel's Hatfields and McCoys. This story is true American lore. This is also an epic of real human tragedy. For those looking for a tale of Shakespearean proportions it was all there; hate, love, abandonment, violence, human frailty and failure. Sorry but personally I think there was no redemption in the end, no matter what the people involved may have felt.

For history buffs, every inch of it was accurate. But what else would you expect from the History Channel? It was an amazing production.

 



Watch the entire miniseries  HERE on the History Channel.

Warning, it will leave you slightly forlorn. I know, so why watch? If for no other reason then to understand the mistakes of past generations....So much of human history has a way of causing sadness: the opportunities missed, the violence that pervades and the love that is thrown aside...

As Satayana wrote: those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it....Even if our leaders will not learn from the past, it is important that you understand others' mistakes.


Qi en Pace,


Elise

Friday, June 1, 2012

Madonna in Tel Aviv

Madonna began her PEACE tour in Israel last night. From all indications it was a great show and a huge hit with her fans.
 

If the Motorola add shows up just click on any of the circles in each line and then hit the arrow to your left. It is Hebrew afterall and read right to left not left to right.

Read more about her performance here, here, here, here

Damn wish I looked at good as she does. I suppose if I spent my life dancing, working out and preparing for a several hour live show for months on end I would. No doubt she works her tuchas off. She's 53 and shows no signs of slowing down at all. Love or hate her music, this woman rocks.

Here is another picture making headlines around the world when it comes to Tel Aviv...


 One Israeli blogger wanted to know where she puts the carbine for her rifle....

Meanwhile here's some more reasons that Tel Aviv is considered one of the world's top party cities...





And here is Maxims sexiest woman in the world Israeli super model Bar Rafaeli




Yes I am trying to get my sons interested in their heritage...and I will use an advantage I can. No one said it had to be a fair fight.



Qi en Pace,


Elise

By the way, if your child, or you for that matter, happen to be gay, Tel Aviv was also voted the most gay friendly city in the world.  It hosts a huge Gay Pride week which begins June 4th culminating in a huge parade on the 8th that rivals the parade in New York.

Here's the schedule of this year's events.