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Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Should Buyers Beware the Seven Pillars of Success?

“Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn her seven pillars.”

(Proverbs, Chapter 9)

The Art of Success  suggests James Melouney, rests on seven pillars.

James MelouneyBut the 134 ‘exemplars’ of achievement the business strategist cites in his self-help book** include neither the biblical quotation above nor the memoir of British soldier T E Lawrence (‘Lawrence of Arabia’) that helped to form the basis of the epic movie named after him.

As motivational speaking is not my subject, I came to Melouney’s book as a fresh, unbiased reader. Still, as an unreconstructed cynic, I’m the one he’ll never convince.

Sorry! It’s a cliché but also a useful rule of thumb that the world’s most successful people have always had a great sense of personal destiny mixed with inordinate hubris. They are natural-born leaders, incredibly pushy and impossible to embarrass, even when proven to be woefully ignorant.

Further, I resent being fed stirring messages from people who’ve died far too young from horrible diseases as it filters through as emotional blackmail. It cannot account for the fact we all have different intellectual as well as physical capabilities; that some people are simply born smarter than others and this is why ordinary parents sometimes produce geniuses.

I don’t know Melouney but he comes across as a very personable, likeable man with a deep understanding of his craft. However I have one other caveat:

He should reconsider some of the sources he quotes and figures he lauds. I researched many of his authorities and one pair, Chet Holmes (deceased) and Tony Robbins have faced accusations of false advertising. The allegations are not mine. I am simply passing on the information  from 2010-2011 for the benefit of anyone reading this.

** The Art of Success is published by Blue Cord Books @ $2.99 (Kindle);  $14.99 (Paperback); $24.99 (Hardcover).

© Natalie Wood (23 August 2016)

Friday, 19 August 2016

Walking Back To Happiness …!

I’ve just spent about a week reading a self-help manual for moderate depression**.

The Happyish ProjectI was about two-thirds of the way through when I dropped it because its repetitive, faux-chirpy, childish tone was driving me nuts.

Author, Josefina Walker says that she’s suffered depression since she was aged eight. Indeed she tells us this on  pages two, five, 12 and ad nauseam.

She also uses far too much primary school toilet talk and refers so glibly – even unkindly -   to named people like unemployed husband ‘George’ and ‘psychic vampire Sally’   I must presume they are invented characters in order to engage her readers.

Then suddenly, Walker remembers some advice given to her by an older college mate whom she half-recalls quoting Indian Independence Movement leader Mahatma Gandhi.

In fact, the misattributed remark, “the key to success lies in the consistency of purpose” was made by Queen Victoria’s favourite prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli addressing the banquet of the National Union of Conservative and Constitutional Associations, at the Crystal Palace, on June 24, 1872.




This helped to remind me of the therapy pioneered by early French psychologist Émile Coué who taught patients to recite "every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better.”

The method, said his critics, appeared to work. Then it did not.


* I received an advanced reader’s copy of The Happyish Project from


** The Happyish Project is available from on Kindle @ $1.00 or in paperback @ $8.50.

© Natalie Wood (19 August 2016)


Thursday, 18 August 2016

Ageing Crocs In Denial!

Deborah.LipstadtThis week, as we await the release of the film about US historian Deborah E. Lipstadt's courtroom battle with Holocaust denier, David Irving we have also discovered that 105-year-old Brunhilde Pomsel, once P.A. to Nazi chief  propagandist, Joseph Goebbels, still pleads total ignorance of the Final Solution!

“‘No one believes me now, but I knew nothing’”, she told The Guardian newspaper during an interview about A German Life, a documentary compiled from 30 hours of conversation with her that was recently released at the Munich Film Festival.

Now I’ve discovered – equally bizarrely – that following the U.K. vote to leave the E.U.,  “hundreds” of British Jews with German ancestry are applying for German citizenship.

Indeed, The Telegraph reports: “Thomas Harding, the Jewish writer whose latest work The House by the Lake tells the story of his ancestral summer home outside Berlin that was vacated after his family fled the Nazis in the 1930s, was among the first to stake his claim.

“’I heard about Brexit around 6am and by 9am I had emailed the German embassy in London asking how I could go about requesting citizenship,’ he said.”

I’ve opined elsewhere that Harding and others like him are very silly as – all differences considered – they’re thinking  - acting - like Pomsel, like Irving -and flying in the face of grounded common sense.

Even as I write, both despite and because of German Chancellor Angela Merkel ‘s open-door refgee policies, there are countless reports about attacks committed both by refugees on German citizens and vice versa.

Further, in January Mrs Merkel  openly admitted that antisemitism was more widespread than previously thought and she agreed that  ‘intensive action’ was needed to combat the phenomenon, particularly in cultures in which hatred of Jews was rampant.

In any event, I can’t understand any Jew, be he or she of German or of Iberian ancestry, wishing to return to places where their forebears were variously intimidated, imprisoned, beaten, tortured and murdered simply for being Jewish.  I fully appreciate and support claims for material restitution. But to reclaim citizenship? To return to live in countries of origin?  I can’t believe that any sentient person would give the idea a moment’s consideration.

All of which brings me first, to a really unpleasant feature in the online Jewish News site whose anonymous ‘modern Orthodox’ author describes how she felt forced to leave Stamford Hill, London  after 20 years because of the influx of  ultra Orthodox Chassidic residents who make her feel like a non-Jew.  This story, like so many others involving any sort of racism, is in essence about the politics of contempt.

This is precisely how Jewry’s enemies have treated us down the ages and it features strongly in a play based on a Sholem Aleichem story that has been staged in Tzfat this week as part of the city’s annual three-day Klezmer Festival.

Digital Camera

‘Sholem Aleichem’ was the humorous pen name of  the uiversally loved Yiddish writer, Shalom Rabinovitz, whose stories about Tevye der Milkhiker (Tevye the Dairyman) much later became the basis for the stage and film musical, Fiddler on the Roof.

To begin, I must commend the hard work and enthusiasm of The Tzfat Community Theatre Group, whose members evoked the famous storyteller’s world with easy-mannered charm, using only minimal props and little change of costume on the small stage at The Khan of the White Donkey.

However, while I’ve read neither the original story, Gymnasia nor The High School, the stage adaptation by Arnold Perl,  I was left feeling distinctly uneasy.

Why was the character of the school student changed from a boy to a girl? Why was she given a boy’s cap to wear, instead of a  girl’s kerchief and why did her father refer to her studying Talmud at cheder (rabbinic law at Jewish elementary school) when until relatively recently it was considered unnecessary, even improper for Jewish girls to be taught Torah?

My suggestion is that in a bid to be ‘politically correct’,  first Perl in the early 1950s, and now director, Shelly Bernstein in the curent production altered the  original story’s real intent: It is surely not about social reform but the importance of retaining personal integrity.

While I am not the greatest fan of Sholem Aleichem’s cloyingly sweet  shtetl (rural hamlet) melodramas, I feel the version of The High School staged this week somehow betrays the author’s original intention, not only for political reasons but  for this particular troupe’s personal convenience.

© Natalie Wood (18 August 2016)



Friday, 12 August 2016

For Rainy, He Reigneth Every Day ..!

Mark.UlyseasLike all brilliant ideas it was simple.

Knowledge is power. So, mused journalist Mark Ulyseas, share it via an online cultural journal that everyone may read.

And this is how Live Encounters - Free Online Magazine from Village Earth first hit the virtual newsstands in January 2010.

Then Ulyseas came up with another wheeze:

With immaculate timing - and extraordinary good luck - on 30 April 2011,  he blogged  a fake final interview with Al Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden barely hours before  the terrorist was truly assassinated by US Special Forces on 01-02 May in Abbottabad, Pakistan!

Then there were alcohol fuelled meetings with members of The Late Writers’ and Readers’ Festival, which if my memory serves me, is where Ulyseas and I first ‘met’ courtesy of the defunct My Telegraph blogging platform.

Then there was …

No matter!


Everyone’s real hero is Rainy, a handsome, loose-limbed street dog who one day loped into the writer’s home in Bali, Indonesia, refused to leave and has since advised – often chided – his beloved mate about domestic duties, a shared dizzying and deeply sad romantic life - and a mutually acute understanding of being of “mixed breed. And it is this that drew us together to become fellow travellers” confesses Ulyseas in the preface to  Rainy – My Friend and Philosopher**.

The author describes himself as a ‘travelling writer’ and this book, together with Seductive Avatars of Maya – Anthology of Dystopian Lives** and In Gethsemane: Transcripts of a Journey** reveals a deeply troubled and restive spirit who seeks kindred, wandering souls.

Several of the pieces in all three books will be familiar to Ulyseas’s many online fans.  Some are shocking; more allow outsiders a glimpse into a world that may be ‘paradise but not utopia’ and still others start to explain the peculiar parallels and paradoxes where all religious rituals meet  then scatter to the furthest corners of our planet: A truly metaphorical literary ‘Tower of Babel’, if I’ve ever ‘encountered’ one!

Mark Ulyseas’s magazine is where the world meets. So too, his three startling  and most unsettling books.

** Rainy: My Friend & Philosopher is published by Notion Press on Kindle @ $2.99 and in paperback @ $8.99.

**  Seductive Avatars of Maya: Anthology of Dystopian Lives is published by Notion Press  on Kindle @ $2.99 and in paperback @ $9.99.

** In Gethsemane: Transcripts of a Journey is published by Notion Press on Kindle  @ $2.99 and in paperback @ $10.99.

© Natalie Wood (12 August 2016)

Monday, 8 August 2016

Honour Bright: Does Ben Suffer from Stockholm Syndrome?


The text berlow is a direct quote from that first published on Youtube yesterday, Sunday 07 Aug 2016:

My view is that the benighted Mr Ehrenreich is suffering from a form of Stockholm Syndrome ( I would love professional input from anyone who has treated patients with the condition.

“Ben Ehrenreich's book The Way to Spring: Life and Death in Palestine glorifies the Tamimi family of Nabi Saleh, a family that explicitly and unrepentantly supports and cheers the murder of Jews in Israel. He tries to make them into saints while ignoring their hate. This video shows exactly what the Tamimis are about, in their own words”.


© Natalie Wood (08 August 2016)

Sunday, 7 August 2016

PerfectlyWritePoetry: A Sporting Chance for Brazil’s Finest Flower

PerfectlyWritePoetry: A Sporting Chance for Brazil’s Finest Flower:   Almost 30 years after his death, the modernist poet, Carlos Drummond de Andrade is still regarded as Brazil’s greatest writer of the 20th...

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

‘They Tried to Kill Us. We Won. Let's Eat!’

Brian GallagherRemember how the Israeli secret agents in Steven Spielberg’s Munich enjoy a huge nosh up before going out to catch their prey?

In scene after scene of Brian Gallagher’s engagingly improbable romp** I recalled both the movie and the gag about Jewish history I’ve used in the title of this piece.

A first-time published writer, Gallagher weaves a deftly plotted tale involving Nazis, aliens and malevolent forces at the Holy See, while ensuring that his fictional cast remains very well watered and fed even to the end.

But readers must develop both strong digestions and a willing  suspension of disbelief as the often gory thriller careers wildly from pre-World War II Germany to modern Oregon, USA, back to  at least a half-dozen locations in present-day central Europe with loads of shooting and lusty swearing before landing comfortably back home in the final leg.

Gallagher is a natural storyteller but he needs to look at characterisation and style. While The Vatican Protocol is not over-long, it is top-heavy with faintly sketched figures in too many locales which makes the plotline difficult to follow and easy to forget. Several times I had to turn back for a recap.

Never mind! It’s not every newbie author who spots his novel nestling cheek by jowl in a shop window with one by Stephen King or who indeed is praised by the master’s first editor, Michael Garrett.  To cap it all, the book’s cover has been placed first for the 2016 Book Cover of the Year by Urban Lit magazine. The Vatican Protocol

However, I must warn Gallagher that he has hit on a magical mix of ultra-popular themes for The Vatican Protocol and may need to work yet harder in order to maintain the pace.

** The Vatican Protocol is published by Mirror Publishing @ $15.99 (paperback) and $4.99 (Kindle).

© Natalie Wood (26 July 2016)