Archive for October, 2006


Novel Idea

So upon announcing that I was considering writing a novel over the month of November, a few people asked me what my novel would be about, as if I had any clue whatsoever. But I thought about it, and here’s what I answered one person. I know this all may sound like too much to try, or too crazy of an idea for a writer just starting out, but hey, why not?

You asked what my novel will be about. To be honest, the idea of writing a novel was more the attraction than a specific novel I was planning on writing from beforehand. But what I’ve come up with so far is a fantastical novel that takes an unsuspecting person from America to Israel, and at the same time from a world that makes sense to one that doesn’t exactly. What I mean by ‘fantastical’ is hard to explain. It certainly isn’t like The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter – more like Neil Gaiman’s American Gods or Neverwhere. Think real-world setting, with unexplained things happening – time and space being somewhat malleable, appearances shifting, etc. The ultimate goal is to use the world-not-making-sense element as a metaphor for making aliyah and/or encountering religion – as both involve entering a new world with its own internal logic that often must be experienced, not merely considered, in order to be properly and fully understood.

I hope that made some sense. Now the hard part: turning those ideas into a novel. Oh, and coming up with a plot. And characters. That’s all.


Damn Lies and Statistics?

I have just dicovered this amazing video (also embedded below in 3 parts) from professor of international health Hans Rosling. I think it’s one of the best examples I’ve ever seen of how it’s not just about having the data, or even analyzing it, but being able to visualize and present it properly. Just watch:

50,000 is a large number. No?

I wasn’t going to post. Not to spite you dear readers. I’m sure I could find better ways to do that.

No, I wasn’t going to post because I didn’t have much to say. Or too much, and it all go overwhelming.

But then Lauren told me about NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month and encouraged me to participate. Basically, the idea is that you start writing the very first word of a novel on November 1st, and the last by November 30th, resulting in at least 50,000 words. There’s a decently-sized community gathered around this idea, and the basic appeal seems to be the sheer exhilaration of the creative experience, especially when forced to create by a deadline.

So here I am. I’m really tempted to write a novel. But I want encouragement and/or to be told that this is an incredibly stupid idea. So let me know, all 10 of you that read this blog. Should I write? Must I write? And if the answer is yes, anyone have an idea for a plot? A genre? A random story element? Should I write something humorous or serious, or try to oscillate (or vacillate?) between the two? Is this whole proposition somewhat pretentious? Does that matter?


I wasn’t planning on posting. I didn’t have anything to post on that I could think of. But then I happened across this post about Sukkot found on the Lansey Brothers’ Blog. I just had to leave a comment to that post. Hilarity ensued. Or rather will ensue, I hope. Or maybe despair will ensue. I just want some ensuing to happen, ok?

As I recall (and I am not making this up), according to the halachot of sukkah, you can use a person as part of a wall of a sukkah, provided that 1) the person doesn’t move and 2) the person is unaware that he/she is part of a sukkah. So just invite some friends over:

Eli: Hey, guys, come over my house for dinner!

Guys: Great!

Later that evening…

Guys: Can we come inside?

Eli: No, we’re eating out here, because it’s Sukkot.

Guys: Oh, right. But where’s the sukkah?

Eli: Um…I don’t…know. Can you guys stand in lines forming a rectangle? Here, let me arrange you. Now don’t move, ok?

Guys: What’s going on? Why can’t we move?

Eli: It’s, it’s a game! the, um, the “don’t move till we’re done dinner game!”

Guys: Dinner? So we can eat now?

Eli: No, not so much.

Guys: Why not?

Eli: Because you’re not in a sukkah.

The Guys spontaneously combust due to the volatile combination of frustration and absurdity.

The Rabbinic Sages roll in their graves. Some may even weep.

So there you have it – a simple solution, all laid out. All you have to figure out now is what to do about schach. (Eli: Ok, now wear these branches as hats…)

By the way, women are not excluded from this. Even though the mitzvah of being part of a sukkah is a time-bound positive mitzvah, a woman can be a sukkah wall as much as a man can. However, it may be wise to adopt the custom of not having a sukkah made of both men and women, as it may lead to mixed dancing.