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Friday, 12 January 2018

Finding My ‘Tweet’ Spot!

030Early Bird Books is a company that offers free and discounted eBooks for Kindle, Nook and many other eReaders.  

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A great way to spend a cosy winter weekend.

© Natalie Wood (12 January 2018)

Thursday, 11 January 2018

More Jaw than War!

‘Meeting jaw to jaw is better than war'

- Sir Winston Churchill

DARKEST HOUROn Wednesday last week I met Peter Lerner, who as the Israel Defence Forces’ senior spokesman manned the barricades for 25 years, fighting Israel’s corner in an ever-increasingly harsh campaign against the international media.

Was it fate that he was born in 1973, the year of the pivotal Yom Kippur War? Was it destiny that his parents emigrated to Israel from London, U.K. before his barmitzvah, so making it relatively easy for him to become as proficient in Hebrew as in his native English?

I ask this after viewing Darkest Hour, Joe Wright’s magisterial evocation of the early days of Winston Churchill’s premiership in the summer of 1940, showing how the journalist-historian-statesman enlisted, mobilised, fairly weaponised the English language, so capturing the public imagination in order to defeat the Nazis.

I am almost a generation older than Lt Col Lerner, but am sure that he is all too aware that if it were not for Churchill, neither of us – let alone the modern State of Israel - would have been born; that instead our respective parents, grandparents and great-grandparents along with the early Zionist leaders then living in Europe would have been among the millions murdered by Hitler simply because they were Jews.

Everything about Darkest Hour is vast, eternally monochrome and the Max Kryon Globe theatre’s mega-max studio near Haifa proved the place to view it.

Britain’s great offices of state soar cathedral-like into a forbidding hereafter while those most responsible for the war effort scurry like desperate rats in a cellar among the secret war rooms beneath the Mall.

Dominating all is Gary Oldman’s magnificent Churchill, at once colossus and miniature; munificent and mean; lofty and low; a mighty man of valour who at base is timid and insecure like Ben Mendelsohn’s diffident, vacillating, stuttering King George VI.

Wright and his screenwriter Anthony McCarten convince us that Clementine Churchill (Kristin Scott Thomas) is as powerful at Chartwell Manor as ever Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) is at Buckingham Palace.

So while this celebrated piece of awe-inspiring British history is played out deep in the behatted and gloved age of deference, it bears the hallmarks of being burnished by a modern egalitarian wordsmith, reflecting not only the mirror opposite characters of the monarch and his hastily-appointed premier but revealing how much they were influenced by their dearly cherished wives.

Further we are reminded of the affectionate, devoted respect Churchill ignited in ordinary civilians when in an adroitly managed invented scene on a London tube train he asks fellow passengers how he should proceed. Surrender to Hitler, he asks. Never, they insist!

© Natalie Wood (11January 2018)

Monday, 8 January 2018

Omega Acids for Alpha Health!

Ten tubby Israeli hedgehogs have been scooped off the streets of Tel Aviv and placed on a strict reducing diet under the unrelenting eye of Ramat Gan Safari Zoo Keeper Becka Rifkin.


The greedy guys were caught snacking on food from bins and tidbits left for stray cats and had grown so fat they waddled not walked and were unable to curl into balls to ward off possible predators.

I’m not sure if the prickly pals’ regimen includes learning to trawl the web, but if so, they could lap up a wealth of contradictory advice about how to maintain Rifkin’s bespoke diet plan:

Eggs are good for us. But only free range and no more than three per week!

Polyunsaturated margarine is now off the menu and butter is back in vogue.

Canola oil is a witch’s brew. But it is permitted when manufactured GMO (‘genetically modified organ ism’) free.

The ongoing debate among nutritionists also includes the pros and cons of non-heme (plant based) iron foods against heme (meat based) iron foods while we lay folk are left wondering if items like chocolate are mere ‘empty calories’ why does the iron in dark chocolate make it permissible to eat?

AOmega FattyAcidsll of which brings me to The Omega Fatty Acids Blend **, a bite-sized booklet that aims to give readers ‘plant based solutions for your health’.

Author is Munich-based ‘healthpreneur’ Monika Griessenberger who advises most wisely that her material “is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice”.

So what does she suggest?

As a champion of omega fatty acids, she says: “Omega is an essential nutrient that has influence in every aspect of your health, from helping to keep your memory to having a strong heart. It’s quite incredible, and with all the health benefits that omega fatty acids provide for your body, in the right combinations, there is no excuse why you should not start taking them now”.

Then comes the first slew of many annoying contradictions:

The author, a raw food diet fan, urges that the US Heart Association recommendation to eat oily fish regularly be treated cautiously because, while such foods contain “reasonably high amounts of оmеgа-3 fatty acid”, they are perhaps contaminated with “high amounts of mercury” that may do the body long-term damage.

Among foodstuffs Griessenberger does endorse is sріrulіnа, blue-green microalgae credited as a ‘super food’ with enormous nutritional benefits but whose possible side effects may be bad enough to cause deaths!

So here I make the same observation about this manual as I have about other recently-reviewed healthy living books. Many of the recommended foods and supplements are very expensive. Random research showed, for example, that Omega 3-enriched eggs are twice the price of regular battery-produced eggs both in the U.K. and Israel.

Again, I insist that this must deter, even disenfranchise the sort of cash-strapped people who most need the author’s help and is reminiscent of the disengagement from reality of which people like socialite Pippa Matthews (Middleton) was recently accused.

Oh, dear!

**The Omega Fatty Acids Blend: Plant Based Solutions for Your Health by Monika Griessenberger is available from Amazon on Kindle @ $1.99.

© Natalie Wood (08 January 2018)

Monday, 1 January 2018

Tough Words from a Determined ‘Lerner’!

Peter Lerner picPeter Lerner is among Israel’s best-known media tough guys; the celebrity IDF spokesman who fronted the Jewish state’s war of words for 25 years.

And while Lt Col Lerner is officially retired from his quarter-century in the military, he continues to fight on and was seen most recently kicking British soccer star and sports commentator Gary Lineker into touch in a row about Palestinian youngsters throwing stones at Israeli motorists.

“Sorry, Gary”, penned Lerner in a Twitter fusillade that received 101 ‘retweets’ and 784 ‘likes’, “you've completely missed the point. When kids throw stones they are a public menace. They need to be stopped. Yes, the video [of a particular incident] is unpleasant but it conveniently shares only a glimpse of what happened, the aftermath of their actions. You should be wiser than this. #Fail”.

Now Ramat Gan-based Lerner is heading north to describe such experiences in the PR ‘trenches’ and perhaps reveal some tricks of the trade with members of ESRA Karmiel.

London-born in 1973 – the same year as the epoch-making Yom Kippur War – Lerner is a Bar Ilan University graduate who specialises in Conflict Management and Resolution.

He says of his IDF career:

“I played a pivotal role in handling many of the day-to-day events, including crafting and designing the message, content creation and oversight of project management, acting as the main contact for day-to-day work on the threshold of crisis, and the lead spokesman in the ‘hot-seat’. My career encompassed the domestic media, the leading global media, and international organisations. I

developed and broadened the IDF social media presence, adding new platforms and increasing, amongst other things, Facebook organic following by 340%”.

Lt Col Lerner’s talk, "In the Trenches with Television, Twitter and the Times: 25 years of service on the front lines with the media, the UN and the public" is on Wednesday 03 January at Kehilat Hakerem Synagogue, 4 Sheizaf, Karmiel. Doors open at 7.00 p.m. for 7.30 p.m.

© Natalie Wood (01 January 2018)

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Don’t Fall for It!

Ageing may have its up and downs, quips Veeve Holtz, but falls shouldn’t have anything to do with it!

Such is the theme of her sensible and cheerful book, A Solution to Avoiding Falls in Older Adults ** that offers people aged 65-plus a wealth of advice about how to improve what may be a sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle and so prevent unnecessary falls and possible grave injury.

FKS MEDFITHoltz, a fall prevention specialist and an expert in kinesiology – the study of the mechanics of body movements – heads FKS Medfit, a US medical company that runs a virtual exercise rehabilitation service, encouraging patients to have religious faith, self-knowledge and so improve their strength.

“You are responsible for taking care of yourself, and the health care system should not be in control of your wellbeing”, she writes. “Improving your risk of preventable conditions such as falls occurs when you participate in improving your own well-being”.

While I cannot argue with her general philosophy of mens sana in corpore sano - a healthy mind in a healthy body - I must take issue with the author’s insistence that the only true faith is Christianity, thus turning away potential patients from other traditions.

Further, fictional situations in the book and the illustrations on the FKS company website and social media pages, make it unclear whether patients and staff ever meet in real time or only via email correspondence.

Moreover, I suggest the fees for the various e-coaching programmes – which surely involve minimum overheads for FKS - make treatment very much a luxury for the well-heeled, well-insured classes.

Nothing daunted, I conclude with Holtz’s description of the ‘soft “drop and fall” technique’, a routine supposed to cause the least potential damage in event of a fall.

There are many other safe landing procedures illustrated on the web. But how one may be trained to use any method instinctively in a truly shocking situation is well beyond my ken!

If you feel yourself beginning to fall, do not resist it but let your body go limp; this will position your body to roll into the fall naturally. Refrain from stiffening your body and instead bend at the joints, specifically the elbows, wrists and knees. While you are falling, protect your head by tucking your chin and lifting up your arms. The goal is to land on your buttocks!

Now we know!

** FKS MedFit Presents: A Solution to Avoiding Falls in Older Adults is available from Amazon on Kindle ($3.99) and Paperback ($11.95).

© Natalie Wood (28 December 2017)

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Real Raiders of the Lost Ark(s)!

The location of the lost treasures of the ancient biblical temples is an endless source of fascination for theologians, historians, amateur sleuths and of course legions of movie fans!

Lost Temple TreasuresNow a new explorer has hit the long winding road in the shape of Binyomin Terebelo whose Trail of the Lost Temple Treasures: The Ark and the Vessels ** is a short work that he describes as an ‘atlas’ with pictures illustrating “a search for the possible locations of the lost vessels from the Jewish temples. Each picture,” he writes in his introduction “depicts a different location along the trail with a brief caption describing its significance”.

The vessels in Terebelo’s book are claimed to include those from the original Tabernacle used in Sinai, the first temple built by King Solomon and the second, started by Ezra the Scribe, renovated by the Maccabees and augmented by King Herod.

The author cites three major Arks of the Covenant plus additional ‘temporary’ arks used throughout history. He claims also that the vessels on his trail may be found in different places worldwide, ranging from the church in Axum, Ethiopia to the Louvre in Paris, the Museum of Baghdad and the British Museum, London.

“The remaining treasures”, writes Terebelo “were found by individual treasure hunters and are scattered in many different locations selling in auctions to the highest bidder”.

Terebelo intends expanding on his research in a further book yet to be released.

** Trail of the Lost Temple Treasures: The Ark and the Vessels by Binyomin Terebelo is available from Amazon on Kindle ($0.00) and Paperback ($9.99).

© Natalie Wood (24 December 2017)

From Stepford Wife to Wonder Woman – and Back

Maggie's DreamWhile US medic Sam Lerner is in Italy mending fellow soldiers’ broken bodies during the depths of World War II, his new bride Maggie works as a drill presser at a Baltimore munitions factory whose products will destroy the opposition.

Work for Maggie as a  ‘Rosie’ is hard, the conditions squalid and her co-workers are beneath her in class and education. Further, the unaccustomed freedom away from the confines of home makes her restless and she buys black market tranquilisers that give her a haunting dream …
So begins Maggie’s Dream **, the latest novel by prize winning writer Leslie Tall Manning who leads us into a funny ol’ world combining the fight for women’s rights, pop psychology and magical realism.
The tale’s surprise finale is intriguing but the jagged plotline and uneven writing leave many questions unanswered and makes the story occasionally difficult to read.
It is unclear to me for which market Manning is writing here. So I suggest that she would have been better shaping her heroine as a college student during US engagement in the Vietnam War as that overlapped with second-wave feminism and the scandal surrounding Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert.
** Maggie’s Dream by Leslie Tall Manning is available from Amazon on Kindle ($2.99) and in Paperback ($13.99).
© Natalie Wood (24 December 2017)

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Past Simple, Present Imperfect!

MonteJPerepelkinMonte Perepelkin was aged 30 when he learned he had been living on borrowed time. For 28 years!
As he lay, first on a motocross arena track after an accident that rendered him quadriplegic and then during the long, terrible months of his initial treatment, Perepelkin recalled how he had escaped with only a broken pelvis when aged two, he was rescued from underneath a car while playing on his baby-sitter’s driveway.
So the second accident, he says, was like experiencing a sort of ‘déjà vu’, one that he also believes was somehow prophesied in a strange revelation he experienced in older childhood as a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Yet the Canadian builder and all-round sportsman is a no-nonsense realist who admits that motocross is an ultra-dangerous and physically demanding ‘extreme sport’.
”Like any motorised sport, it is dangerous. That is part of the attraction for those who choose to pursue it. Fortunately, fatalities and spinal cord injuries are relatively few”.
The Perfect LifeBut he is among the ‘few’ and his memoir, The Perfect Life describes not only how his briefly idyllic marriage and family life was shattered in an instant but how he senses that what has happened to him is perhaps divine retribution for a previous life of crime that began with infant shoplifting!
I suggest that Perepelkin’s youthful bad behaviour was a way of recouping a stolen childhood – one that was snatched from him, first when his parents divorced and then when his mother and step-father forced him into a cheerless religious cult whose adult adherents literally doorstep on strangers’ privacy.
My copy of Perepelkin's book runs to almost 500 pages. It is a labour of love that he produced with more than four million keystrokes using a mouth-stick between his teeth.
Under the circumstances I am unable to offer his courageous effort an objective review. It would be unfair. Instead, I ask you to read it for yourself.
The Perfect Life is available for free download at Amazon on Kindle until Sunday 31 December 2017 or otherwise on Kindle ($6.15) and Paperback ($21.00).
© Natalie Wood (14 December 2017)