Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Video Zionism

When will it start? That’s pretty much the only question on most people’s minds these days in Israel.

Will the “deadline” of March 17 stick, will a new resolution be introduced adding a few more days, or are we simply in the middle of a crafty game of disinformation with a surprise attack coming as early this weekend?

Here in the Blum household, we’re dutifully preparing for any eventuality. Accordingly, this week I went through our video collection.

Think about it, what’s more important than ensuring that, if we get stuck in a sealed room for hours on end, we have an ample selection of viewing material. There’s a limit to how much CNN and BBC one can suffer through, especially with kids under foot.

Now, over the years we’ve amassed a decent collection: movies, TV programs, kids stuff and just plain kitsch.

We have on hand all the usual kids videos: Winnie the Pooh, Spot and Baby Mozart. Not to mention loads of Disney with a penchant for deja vu – Toy Story (and Toy Story 2), Aladdin (and Aladdin 2), the Lion King (and Lion King 2).

Sometimes, though, it seems that our video shelves are starting to resemble a highly effective advertisement for action figures who ought to be in therapy. We’ve got a misunderstood hunchback, a species-confused mermaid, and a smelly ogre who just wants to be loved.

There’s also a kindly old lady named after a Southern US grocery store chain; a precocious French girl who speaks perfect English; and a ubiquitous purple dinosaur with his underage play friends (no, I’m not talking about Michael Jackson although his recent facial alterations have gotten him looking more and more like Barney every day).

Not to mention a whole lot of angry apes chasing a half naked Charleton Heston.

We have the complete Star Wars collection, complete with digital enhancements, Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings.

We’ve got a nice supply of Jewish tapes, too, including Schindler's List and the infamous thirtysomething Chanukah/Christmas show. And a sprinkling of Israeli shows: 15 Teletubbies episodes dubbed into Hebrew and the 1995 Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Concert.

If we ever run out of shows to watch, we can always view the more than 60 hours of tape we’ve made of the kids over the years. Especially entertaining is the birth video of Jody trying to push out Merav for three plus hours. It’s enough to make a missile attack seem like a gift from God.

Or for something less riveting, how about something from my days producing training videos. “Introduction to the RSS Database” and “Using Our New Email System” are always surefire sleepers, if you know what I mean.

When we turn to the adult videos (no, not that kind of adult video), things start to get really bizarre. That’s because we’re more tapers than buyers. Every Friday, I scan the TV section to see what will be playing the following week, then I set the timer.

This has led to some pretty unusual combinations. For example:

Silence of the Lambs followed by Beverly Hills 90210.

The Sixth Sense, Freaks and Mrs. Doubtfire.

Mary Kate and Ashley in Our Lips are Sealed on the same tape as Woodstock.

Pulp Fiction sandwiched between episodes of Melrose Place and Friends

Mars Attacks and The Virgin Suicides

The Full Monty with 10 Things I Hate About You (how many monty’s were there again?)

(I certify that every one of these combos is real. If you don’t believe me, you can come over to my house and check.)

Ironically, it may be our video collection, more than anything else, that keeps us in Israel.

Every time we contemplate, however briefly, taking “time off” from Israel, far away from the suicide bombs and threat of chemically-tipped missiles, I raise the question: what would we do with our tapes? They’re all recorded in the European PAL format and can’t be played in North America.

I realize I may have just made the first ever case for “Video Zionism.”

And so we prepare our sealed room and our evening entertainment. Bring on Madeline and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. One thing’s for sure: no one will ever be able to tell us there’s nothing interesting to watch on TV in Israel.

Want to have a bizarre video collection just like us? All videos are available at Amazon by clicking the links above.

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