jumping jehoshaphat

Dearest Internet, 

Can we chat for a minute? I have to tell you: I really keep meaning to post a ridiculously long and very very thorough research article here about Temple Mount, because I feel like it's sort of the center piece to the show DIG. But the more I talk to people, and the more I read, the sadder I get. Humanity, for real?! Over a rock. Honestly. 

No, no! I get it, I get it...it's just. Listen: I'm a Christian in culture only, as I do not believe Jesus is Magic, and I have become a godless heathen who hasn't graced the inside of a holy building for nigh going on 3 years now and the last time was for a Christmas Eve service and I only went because my mom was buying dinner. (Hi, Mom! I love you! I promise how I've turned out is ME and not you.) 

I get it--I am surely hell bound for not taking God seriously--I'm certain the Universe has directed me to the story of Jehoshaphat as Its first warning shot. But then I think about my sister-in-law's sweet Baptist Grandmama who always said to you, whenever you were worried or really really angry about something, "Now look at y'all get y'all self riled. A hundred years from now, is this still going to matter?" 

And the answer is no. NO it won't matter. And this is why I think the Temple Mount stuff...gah, wait! That argument won't work, I just realized, people have been fighting over the Temple Mount for MILLENIA...so Grandmama's wisdom is futile here. Poop. Ok. Well, then...let's move on, shall we?

I will post what I learned about it, soon. Possibly this weekend. But I want every single one of you reading this to know I feel nervous about doing it. Because I've seen some things and I've read some things and I don't want anybody coming in here, to a comments section, to insist: Oh, that belongs to US not THEM. and start Armageddon in this blog. I read the Internet--I know how you people are. I see you on FOX Nation and in Yahoo! News Articles and in the Education section of Huffingtonpost.com. I won't have it here, I won't have it--I'm the peace and love and tolerance and connections girl...nooobody's allowed to be angry here. When I start talking about Dome of the Rock/Temple Mount. I mean it.


(who thinks John Lennon's IMAGINE should be taught as gospel in public schools and universities)

So instead, let's talk about Jehoshaphat today, shall we? And I apologize if I misspell or typo his name throughout this piece--typing it, for me, is like trying to type out Missississsssiiiissspppippi 100 times real fast.

But first: A Game of Chess.

But! Before we talk about HIM, let's talk about the game of chess briefly. 'Cause I looked it up. And I looked it up because Gregory Donaldson, in episode 8, was given a Bishop chess piece (I was told) in the mail. And Emma was casually fingering that same piece in dad Donaldson's Room of Freaking Psycho. 

I don't play chess, but here's what Wikipedia told me to do with the Bishop: each player gets two Bishops. To start, one Bishop is placed between the King and his knight, and the other is placed between the Queen and her knight. There are no restrictions on how a Bishop can move in chess (whereas some pieces can only move forward or diagonal), but it's not allowed to jump over the others (but Knights can). 

The interesting thing about the Bishop piece (when I think of DIG) is that when you begin, you decide which wing each Bishop will play on...you decide at the beginning which of your Bishops will stay on either all the light-colored squares...and which Bishop will stay on the dark-colored squares (Sons of Light...Sons of Dark--right?). 

In Medieval chess, there was no Bishop. There was the alfil, meaning elephant, and it could jump and move diagonal and move 2 squares. Because it had such movement, it got restricted to 8 squares only and alfils couldn't attack each other. The Bishop came along around 1200, just as The Crusades were ending, but it wasn't officially called a "Bishop" until about the 1600s. What I'm trying to tell you is chess is an old game. An old, very old, game. 

And it's a game of strategy, of outwitting your opponent. Less experienced players tend to underestimate the power of a Bishop; more experienced players do not. As the game nears an end, and more pieces are captured and more lines on which they can play open up, a Bishop becomes more and more powerful, when used correctly. For example, two bishops together are far more superior to one bishop, a knight, or a pair of knights. And two Bishops vs. a King forces a checkmate, and when checkmate happens? Game. OVER. 

So. Gregory was sent a Bishop piece. Where's the other piece? Who has it? And are they saying to Gregory: time to wake up out of your muted psychosis? The endgame is near? 

(I'm still thinking about that. You go think about it too if you'd like...and also: if you play chess, will you come to my house and teach me? Because now that I've learned more about it, I think people who are good at that game are kind of hot, and I'd so I'd like to hang out with you. I promise you'll beat me, because I'm a horrible--HORRIBLE--strategizer.)

Onward to Valley of Jehoshaphat:

Source: bibleencyclopedia.com
Jehoshaphat means "God judges." It's from the same Hebrew root word as the name of the 7th book of the Old Testament, Judges (Shophatim). He was the 4th king of the Kingdom of Judah, and his reign was considered one of the most prosperous in its history. (At one point, Israel was divided into two kingdoms: Judah to the south, Israel to the north.) It became prosperous when it allied itself with Assyria, which wanted to control the olive industry. Eventually, around 605 BCE, Egypt and Neo-Babylon fought for control of it, and it fell and became part of the Neo-Babylonian Empire.

The other thing about Judah is that it was always at war with its neighbors Israel and Egypt. Jehoshaphat's father, King Asa of Judah, reigned for 35 years in peace, until in his 36th year Baasha of Israel confronted Asa creating a dangerous situation. So Asa took gold and treasure from the Temple Mount and sent them to the king of Damascus to convince them to end their peace treaty with Israel. Damascus attacked Israel, and Baasha was defeated. Asa used this to fortify his own borders.

Jehoshaphat, like his father Asa, was very pious in that he hated idolatry. He had a friendly, BIG personality, and so his people immensely liked and trusted him. Which is why, in the 3rd year of his reign, he sent out priests from the tribe of Levi to teach the people of Judah the Torah, and about morality, and to show them how to worship the one true God properly. In the Bible, Jehoshaphat is praised because of this, and God blesses his reign and his kingdom.

Jehoshaphat also reorganized Judah--he divided it into districts and rearranged the judicial system so it aligned with what the Torah commanded. He built a large, well-organized army and fortified his borders. By doing this, he earned the respect and admiration of neighboring countries. The Edomites, Arabs, Philistines, and others came to Jehoshaphat to pay him tributes to keep his goodwill. 

One day, Jehoshaphat took a royal trip to Samaria and agreed to help Ahab, the King of Israel, fight the king of Syria. Ahab and Jehoshaphat were allied via the marriage of Jehoshaphat's son Joram to Ahab's daughter. But at the end of the fight, Ahab was killed and Israel defeated. 

Jehoshaphat was allowed to return to Judah but when he got back, all his prophets were so annoyed and they all yelled at him. So then, Jehoshaphat was basically like, "Yeah, I know you guys, my bad." And he promised to do better.

But then, one day? Jehoshaphat (trying to increase his kingdom's wealth) started trading with people along the Mediterranean Sea. Ahab's son Ahaziah was King of Israel now, and Jehoshaphat went into the maritime business with him. Bad financial move, because God was watching and got pretty ticked about that, since Ahaziah was NOT very moral and didn't do worship right, and so God sent a big storm and destroyed Jehoshaphat's entire fleet of ships.

At that, Jehoshaphat was all "Okay, okay. I GET it, God." And when Ahaziah came and said, "Hey, Jehoshaphat, want to re-new our partnership?" Jehoshaphat was like, "Nope. Take thy idolatrous self back to Israel, Ahaziah."

Still Jehoshaphat was friendly (remember?) and so he stayed in touch with Ahaziah--sent him little messages via pigeon or donkey or whatever once in awhile, checking in (like ancient Facebook status updates, texts, emails). So later, when he asked for Jehoshaphat's help in fighting the Moabites, Jehoshaphat said: Sure. And used his Edomite connections and also asked the Prophet Elisha to guide him. Elisha, because Jehoshaphat came to him humble and regular people, let him know: "Oh, yeah, you're good; you got this." And then? God smote Moab. As God is wont to do (in these stories).

Later, however, the Moabites were able to get the Edomites all worked up against the Kingdom of Judah. So THEN, the Moabites, Edomites, and Ammonites went after the Kingdom of Judah. Jehoshaphat's army was weak and depleted from the other Moab thing, so he just asked his people to go on a fast and pray--pray hard

During the fast, Jehoshaphat himself offered prayers to God for help, and God answered them. A prophet said there would be complete victory, because the battle wasn't theirs, but God's. So Jehoshaphat's army, getting a second wind, marched on Jerusalem to see what was what. When it got there, everything was over. Corpses all around. Stick a fork in it. Because it turned out the Moabites and Edomites and Ammonites didn't actually trust each other, in fact, hated each other...so they they did what neighboring gangs in busted down neighborhoods usually do: drive bys and shoot outs, and you know. Just basically killed each other until they were all dead. (I have very Tea Party Conservative friends who feel this is a smart idea for most situations. Which is why I'm pro-gun control.)

Jehoshaphat collected all the spoils of war, without having really to lift a finger, and the Kingdom of Judah prospered in peace until he died at age sixty and his son Joram became King. (Reggae-themed fairy tale ending music inserted HERE--you'll find out why in a minute.)

The Valley of Jehoshaphat, connecting Kidron Valley to the Valley of Hinnom, which is a valley of graves

In Israel, today, there is an area known as the Valley of Jehoshaphat. It's also the area known as Kidron Valley, and it's an ancient burial ground.

The Valley of Jehoshaphat is located in the Old City of Jerusalem, on the Eastern side, right near the Temple Mount. The part that is Kidron Valley actually separates Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives. (In case you don't know: Temple Mount is sacred to both Jews and Muslims; it's Judaism's holiest site--where the original Temple stood/Abraham almost killed Isaac...and it's Islam's 3rd holiest site--where the Prophet Mohammad ascended into Heaven on a white horse. The Mount of Olives is sacred to Christians--this is the spot Jesus supposedly ascended into Heaven after rising from the dead.) It is filled with flat, rocky tombs, and it was one of the main burial grounds during the 2nd Temple period. This area stretches for about 20 miles through the Judean Desert toward the Dead Sea.

The Hebrew Bible calls it Emek Yehoshafat, and in Jewish prophecies, it's the location the Prophet Elijah will come when he returns...followed by the Messiah...followed by the War of Gog and Magog, aka Judgment Day, aka Armageddon. (Basically if Disneyland is the Happiest Place on Earth, the Valley of Jehoshaphat is like the antidote.)

In the Book of Joel 3:11-12, the prophet Joel talked about it:

Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD. Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.

Modern day people like to talk about Jehoshaphat still, by using his name in silly ways: "jumping Jehoshaphat," for example. 

In Isaac Asimov's ROBOT series, it's often used as an expletive. 

And Jehoshaphat is the subject of a reggae song by Max Romeo called "Valley of Jehoshaphat." (While not even HALF as awesome or summery as Bob Marley's STIR IT UP or THREE LITTLE BIRDS, Max does sing a really very interesting song that mentions the color red a lot, garments dipped in blood, Robin Hood, and something about two being in bed and one being taken away, and money being spread all over the land...GO HERE and listen.)


DIG (on USA) thoughts: ep 8 (kill your darling)

Alas, poor Debbie. We knew her well.
[Edit/Update: WAIT!!! I totally forgot about the CHESS PIECE. The one that Gregory Donaldson got at the asylum in the mail and Emma was fingering in Gregory's dad's room at the convent. I think it has a meaning. But I have to, you know, research it. Since I don't play chess and couldn't tell you a thing about it--like which piece was that? Bet that's important. Or maybe they were just saying: Your move, Gregory. Or Checkmate. I'll look into it. But if you know what piece that was--will you leave a comment for me at the bottom?]

The best laid plans of mice and men....this is what torture feels like:

So on Thursday, half-way through episode 8 of DIG, my phone rings. It's my husband, coming back from a business trip, and he's at a MARTA (Atlanta's weak attempt at public transportation) station in sitting in a dead car with a dead car battery. 

And HERE'S why good parenting matters: for about 1 minute, I struggled with what to do. I mean, DIG is on. SOMETHING'S about to HAPPEN. Peter and Emma were in the creepy room about to discover something. Certainly my spouse could wait 30 minutes for me to find out, and then 30 more minutes for me to drive there. He'd been traveling all day--what was 1 more hour? 

But no. I was raised to be dependable and responsible and keep things in perspective and do unto others as I... So. Whispering many many swears and dirty oaths, I switched off the TV, woke my child, and we drove to Brookhaven to get him...the whole time I'm listening to live tweets about the show going off, on my phone. Torture. Worse than water boarding. 

Because when I got back, I saw somebody important had died. I immediately stopped reading all the tweets and told my people--NOBODY TELL ME!!! And then the next day I stayed off the Internet, at least the portions of the Internet that could have DIG-related information. I couldn't even go support Jason Isaacs, who went to Washington, DC to argue with Congress about giving more money to Arts education programs for children. That was three (THREE) things I heart a lot: kids, art, and education (okay, 4 if you count arguing with politicians)...and I couldn't even go look to see how it was going. In case he or somebody tweeting on his page said something. NOBODY TELL ME!!!

Later, Ori Pfeffer (Golan Cohen) saw where I'd tweeted before my torture began that I hoped they didn't kill him off, and he let me know it wasn't him. And that was JUST like teaching 2nd graders, because that was totally not even following directions, Ori! I said NOT A WORD.

At any rate, about 9.30 PM on Friday I got to watch it finally. And so here are my thoughts:

1-I think the most important thing about show #8 is to say how upset I am with the writers, yet in complete, gobsmacked awe of them. I'm just now able to look in their general direction again after they killed off Debbie. DEBBIE!!! Listen, I was attached to Debbie, DIG writers. I felt a spiritual connection to her--Debbie was a complete fuck up just trying to get it right, and she had a pure heart. If she wore patchouli, wrote bad poetry, and drank wine, she and I could have totally hung out and been BFFs. 

And NOW there can't even be a "Don't EFF With Debbie" DIG spin off. Crap. I'm still in mourning. 

And yet, THIS is a fine example of what good writing is--you kill your darlings. Because the story demands it, and it's going to evoke such a powerful emotional reaction in your audience they won't even know what to do with themselves, and even years later will tell people, when they speak of it, when they remember your story: THEY KILLED DEBBIE. And how dare they!

Which is all to say: I'm so in love with the DIG writers right now I can't even see straight. I'm so mad about Debbie, yet I'm so completely head over heels with them for making that bold choice. This is like one of those completely dysfunctional romantic relationships--no matter how many darlings they kill off, I'll always answer the 1 AM booty call and tell them to come over, without even a second thought. (If their car dies at 10.30 PM in the middle of an episode of DIG though, I'd spend about a minute mulling it over.)

2A-So Debbie died. At that stinkin' little twerp Josh's hands. See! I knew it, I KNEW it! Life Tip: Don't trust ANY genetically-engineered creepy little kids, Internet. This scene was NOT my favorite (for obvious reasons) ... but it was amazing writing. So much was going on in the scene--this is how you get audiences to connect with Story...we'd been given just enough character-building background on Debbie to care and want her to win. She'd been through SO much, had lost so much. There was more spunk to her than first met the eye. And so there she was, after a really nasty, brave fight with real Evil. And now it's quiet, she's got her boy, and she's finally starting to feel like there's some hope. Meanwhile, Josh is in the backseat pulling out...a knife. 

Oh my god. I think I need to have a memorial service or something just to emotionally move on.

When I re-watched, knowing what was coming, the scene where Debbie leaves a message for her mom on the phone? Wrought tears from me. THAT was my favorite scene from this show. 

2B-Also, Debbie discovers the genetic engineering--ultrasounds in files of women at the compound. Fay was one--she bore a Josh. Which basically means she may have killed her own kid. The other lady from the compound, Sandra, her body was used. Basically, the women were vessels for birthing the High Priest. (How many Joshes ARE there??) I think this current Josh is Josh #3. I thought he was still #2, but it was pointed out to me that #2 died in the car chase when Charlie was shot. No matter. (A) I can't count, and neither could Debbie, and (B) HOW MANY JOSHES ARE THERE?? 

I think just 3. Let's hope, for the sake of our planet, just three.

3-Peter and Emma (and Margrove and assistant) (Debbie has to die, but that pissant little MARGROVE is still running around! Life = Unfair) go to the Sisters of Dinah convent to look for treasures--Margrove to look for gold and riches; Peter and Emma to find a way to save the planet. 

But listen: I did 3 hours of research on Dinah and her story because I thought there would be a Dinah was raped connection...20 websites, 3 hours, 2 for writing. And Dinah wasn't in the story (periphery, maybe)...but oh, ha! I get it: Sisters of Dinah...SISTERS...nuns. Of course. In episode 1 or 2 (I think) Peter walks through a bunch of nuns--foreshadowing! (PAY ATTENTION.) 

At any rate. This convent is where John Donaldson made the crazy VHS tape. It's also where the Temple Mount treasures are buried...or it leads to them. Symbols are all over the place in it...Aramaic, Coptic, Canaanite. It's an ancient place. (Why does Peter never seem to use his semiotics background knowledge? Hm.)

The 2 most important things about this episode are: 

(1) What crazy John Donaldson wrote on the walls. What I picked up was: WHO'S ORDERING THE ORDER? (and then some stuff about The Apocalypse.) So I asked @DIGonUSA...Who's ordering the Order? (Because you know who this is, right? Somebody's giving orders to the Order of Moriah. Figure out who that is, and you'll know which bad guys to go nab so the planet doesn't blow up.)


(2) The Temple Mount treasures. Always follow the money (I do this, whenever I talk about public education reform--want to know why something psycho's happening? Follow the money.)

I don't know who's doing the orders yet. I suspect Ruth Ridell is involved--not her, per se, giving the orders. But she's the go-between for somebody who is. 

4-Ruth puts out a hit on Lynn. Because Lynn IS trustworthy, yay! And Lynn is asking a lot of questions. Like going to the weasel-y little camera security guy and getting proof the cameras were down the night Khalid went to the Ambassador's party. That camera guy totally ratted out Lynn, after she asked him NOT to. (Follow. Directions.)

5-Lynn retraced Khalid's steps with the camera information. What I would like to say about this is to offer a Public Service Announcement: Do NOT climb tall chain link fence gates. Lynne did this in high heels. Once, I did this in flip flops. Things worked out for Lynn, but I broke my left foot's fifth metatarsal, almost in the Jones fracture area. 

That's all I could think, as she climbed the gate: Lynn, girlfriend, you are NOT dressed for that. 

6-Emma's Agent Wilson now. Because she's a quick on her feet thinker and came up with that lie when Zohar asked who she was...OR she has a big reason she doesn't want Professor Isaac Zohar to know she's an archaeologist who knew Margrove. Hmm. I still don't trust her for some reason. I'm going to go with 70% trust, 40% wariness. Maybe 80/30...I have to cover myself in case I'm wrong.

7-The Essene IS a good guy! In a sort of religious guy mafioso kind of way. Listen--everything they're doing with the Essenes is all researched-based. Those guys were serious. They were peaceful and vegan, but they were protectors/guarders/keepers of secrets. And they were prepared to do battle in the Sons of Light v. Sons of Darkness epic battle. 

I don't think they were going to hurt sweet little Red the cow. I didn't see any knives out then...it may have been some sort of dedication ceremony of sorts. Essenes just didn't kill animals. They only used the skins of animals that had died naturally. I'm not sure what they were doing with the cow, but I'm 99% certain it wasn't a sacrifice (the 1% is to cover my ass in case I'm wrong). And I'm 99% certain because Shem the Essene tells Peter to be careful as he's shooting or he'll hit the cow.

8-So now Rabbi Lev's goons have the cow again. Ain't that how it always goes? You make your plans, your plans seem to be falling into place, and KABLOOEY. Somebody's car dies, somebody steals back your cow. Life's crazy like that.

9-Poor Avram. He's a bad guy who doesn't know it. And Rabbi Lev is probably going to punish him for his fuck up...he was supposed to kill the Essene. Had Avram killed Shem, none of this would have happened. But now Avram has to go back to the Yeshiva, which is a Jewish private school that studies all the religious texts. Basically, Rabbi Lev called Avram a pansy little school boy. (I hate Rabbi Lev, and I hope God smites him at the end. And I hope Ruth and Tad Billingham are smited too. And Josh! Oh my god, DIG writers, please smite Josh!)

10-This is what DIG (on USA!) does to you--has you wishing, out loud and in public, for the death of a kid. But in my defense, he's not a REAL kid. Plus, he killed Debbie. For that, he must die.

Did you know that, on YouTube, you can go and watch episodes of showrunners Gideon Raff and Tim Kring talking about each episode, after it airs? I did not KNOW this!! Crap! I've been operating as a complete loose cannon, a rogue out in the field, lacking critical classified information. I don't know why I wasn't aware of these, but now I've watched them all and understand even more. You can too, if you want.

Or! You can go read about how I tried to pull a Lynn and broke my left foot about 3 years ago: My Left Foot. 



 When will YOU begin that long journey into yourself?

I'm thinking about when I will: Maybe today, after I go to the supermarket. Or finish that one bottle of Riesling. Or find a place to send that story.

Certainly by this summer, I'm quite decided.

I wish I could write more than that to explain further. ...but I can't.

But I still wanted to share Liz's & Rumi's Instagram thought for today, because it's something I really needed to see today and think about--when, how, where. (I already know why).

At any rate, I thought maybe you might as well, or maybe know someone who needs to see this.

Happy Saturday.


books and movies and tv, oh my!

Today is World Book Day (did you know?) (you DO still read BOOKS, don't you?...I mean, e-readers are cool and all, but I bet they're very similar to going from smoking real cigarettes to smoking e-cigarettes--gives you the same kind of high, but something's just OFF) (Maybe cigarettes was a poor choice of example...next time I'll use gluten).

At any rate. World Book Day. So I have a list (with some side thoughts) of my Top Ten All-Time Favorite Books I Absolutely Cannot Make It Through This Life Without and You Should Read These Too If You Haven't Already and If You Haven't Already Read Them What The Holy Hell Is WRONG With You?! World Book Day list. Here it is:

Seriously, if you haven't read this book and you've only watched the movie? You aren't really getting it. This is like a book-movie companion kind of thing. Symbiotic. Binary. You are NOT a real Wizard of Oz fan if you haven't also read (and made notes in the margins) Baum's book. The ORIGINAL book; not any kind of abridged crap (stop being lazy). The WIZARD OF OZ is a Life guide; it will teach you about what's important, what's not, and what to do when you're really in a quandry. (Which is: sing a song, and believe in yourself.)

Kate also writes the Mercy Watson series, which are really wonderful. But this book. THIS book!!  O.M.G. Seriously, your whole life will be changed. Your heart will never be the same. You will never, ever know at what True Love is until you read this book. And when you're done, go read Margery Williams' THE VELVETEEN RABBIT, because (like the WIZARD OF OZ book-movie companionship), these two books should be the two books on which you base your entire philosophy on Love and Life.

3. PETER PAN by J.M. Barrie
Peter Pan isn't just about a boy who won't grow up. It's about the power of imagination and possibility. It's about courage and fear, and being Who You Are. It's about acceptance and love, letting go, and how to handle fairies and pirates. (Which I think are symbols of good angels and evil angels, but that's just me pontificating.) When I was growing up, I wanted to BE Wendy...and I wanted to marry Peter Pan. And I wanted to be a pirate and a Tiger Lily and a Tinker Bell, too. This is a ageless tale threaded with fibers of magic and, just like WIZARD OF OZ, if you're just watching the movie versions and/or movie interpretations of it, you seriously aren't getting the core meaning of it and you're doing it wrong. 

4. EAT PRAY LOVE by Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert is my writer hero. She is my female aspiration, both in writing and spirituality. Liz has gone to the rockiest depths, clawed her way out, and eaten some excellent pizza in Sicily while doing so. Whatever Liz says about life, love, and spirituality I pretty much agree with. And she usually favorites everything I @gilbertliz tag her with on Twitter. She's my hero, and her memoir of her own personal Hero's Journey is something I've written in over and over, dog-eared, slept with, eaten with, cried over, and whispered a million thank yous into. It's a Bible of sorts, and I think the Holy Spirit gets me on that even if you don't.

5. STORIES OF ANTON CHEKHOV by Anton Chekhov (and some editors)
Oh, Anton Chekhov. Anton, Anton, Anton! What a yummy writerly dish you were, back in the turn of the century. And with every single short story, he'll show (NOT tell) you how to write right. If you are a short story writer, and you have not ever read a short story by Chekhov? You're doing it wrong. Get thee to a bookstore (NOT an e-reader store--a real, physical BOOK store) and pick you up a copy of Anton's short stories. Go home, get comfy, and start to learn, grasshopper. 

Master. Storyteller.

6. EAST OF EDEN by John Steinbeck
Steinbeck was a master storyteller and a master (a MASTER) of the descriptive paragraph. When you start this book, your brain is woven a tapestry of what California looked like, in Steinbeck's--and his characters'--eyes. And then you're given an ancient tale of Cain and Abel, good and evil, right and wrong, and the temptations and horrific choices we all have to make. It's a subtle Bible for how to live, and who not to be. With tapestries of How To Write Descriptive Narrative woven throughout.

7. THE BLUEST EYE by Toni Morrison
This is the book that made me understand what it's like to not be in the Majority. It's about quietly fighting a system that is set up to invalidate and demoralize and keep you from soaring to your highest heights. Love yourself, as is...even when They tell you that you as is is simply never going to be enough. On the surface, it's about what Jim Crow and slavery and The Good Ol' Boys network has done to our country, our black women, our society, and our world. But underneath all of that, is something that--no matter your gender, nationality, or race--we can all connect with: the need to belong. It's just amazing. Please read it if you haven't.

8. WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Bronte
I read this book over and over and over and over when I was in high school. I wanted to be Cathy...but I wanted to be Cathy before she went nutters. And I desperately, seriously, deeply longed for Heathcliff. I still do, quite frankly. Also, there are ghosts. And ghosts, in my book? Are always good. 

9. ROOM WITH A VIEW by E.M. Forrester
This is about keeping a chick down; clipping her wings and--like THE BLUEST EYE--fighting a system set up to invalidate/demoralize/keep you back from living your dreams. It's also about not succumbing to someone else's opinions, being really real, and that British class system? Gots to GO. (Sadly, I don't think it has and here in America we're making it worse.) But I love it because it's about being loved for Who You Are, as is. I cannot stress how important that is. 

10. BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott
Annie is funny and sincere, irreverent and serious, all at once. She knows your pain because she's been there, sister (or brother). She's been down and out, up and over, and she's got the scars to prove it. And she will tell you about them, how she got them, AND give you a lot of good tips on how to Do Writing Right. One little step at a time. Baby steps. Tip toes. Bird by bird. It works for writing, but it's also just a smart way to live a life, the end.

And, just because I like them, I'm going to extend World Book Day further by listing movies based on books I personally love a lot and think are excellent filmatic takes on the written word, even if famous film critics disagree with me. Here it is:

This is L. Frank Baum's book...with some artistic license...in technicolor (and black & white for Kansas, which I think was a really brilliant creative decision for MGM in 1939--ahead of their time). I used to LIVE for the airings of this movie, and I wanted to BE Judy Garland/Dorothy. I can't even calculate how many hours I spent, in my room, as a child re-enacting this ENTIRE movie. 

One time, my mom didn't feel like braiding my hair so I could put on my Oz play in my room, and she suggested I pretend to be Glinda the Good Witch instead. Drama actress ego meltdown ensued. I was Dorothy! Only I knew how to interpret the role of Dorothy! and HOW DARE SHE.

2. PETER PAN (2003)
The Disney version is cool and all, but PJ Hogan's 2003 adaptation is just magically superb. And I promise I'm not saying that because Jason Isaacs plays Captain Hook and Mr. Darling AND responded to a dry erase easel board note my class wrote together and sent him on Twitter. You should see this movie because, like MGM's 1939 WIZARD OF OZ adaptation, this IS J. M. Barrie's book...with some artistic license...in CGI magic technicolor. 

I used to spend hours re-creating the story of PETER PAN in my bedroom too, as a child, but I wasn't as attached to the role of Wendy like I was to Dorothy.

Simply, this is my all-time favorite movie made for grown-ups. This is an independent film made in 1999 by Richard Lagravenese. It's based on two short stories by Anton Chekhov, and it's about being true to yourself, finding out who you are, being accepted and loved as is, and forgiving yourself. Like Elizabeth Gilbert's EAT PRAY LOVE, whenever I'm in a what-the-hell?? kind of moment, I re-watch this movie. Every woman in the WORLD should be exposed to it. 

There are fish (I'm a Pisces), there is water (I'm a Pisces), and there is Brad Pitt AND Craig Sheffer in it (I'm a heterosexual woman). This is about family, ultimately. And addiction. And struggling. And knowing that you can really, really love someone a lot but not like them very much. It's about how people who need the most help are often the ones who least want it; and so then it's about growing through and in spite of that pain. A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT is about letting go, and it's about trusting in something a lot bigger than your limited self. It's about the ancient art of growing up, breathing in spite of the pain, and acceptance of the unknowable. It's about how the "river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters."

In 12th grade AP English, we had to read Joseph Conrad's THE HEART OF DARKNESS. What a freaky book. What a freaky movie based on that freaky book. On the surface, it's about some dudes traveling up river through war torn Vietnam and all the freaky crap they saw and endured while doing that. But underneath, like Conrad's book, it's about Us vs. Them kind of thinking, which leads to all kinds of stupid shit...like, oh I don't know, The Vietnam War. And people killing each other for dumb reasons. As humans are wont to do.

It's a disturbing movie, but then THE HEART OF DARKNESS is a disturbing book. Sometimes disturbing is bad, sometimes it's good. This is one of those times it's good.

Whoop Goldberg--I fell in love with her. She played a pure, gentle soul who went on an inner odyssey of figuring out who she was in and in the process discovering her own amazing strength. Sort of like Dorothy in WIZARD OF OZ, but black and living in Jim Crow times. This book/movie is also about family, growing up, and being loved as is. 

Best line of a movie EVER: "Everything you done to me, already been done to you.I'm poor, black, I may even be ugly, but dear God, I'm HERE..."

I'm not going to lie: Daniel Day-Lewis, in this movie, is someone who spends a lot of time in my night time fantasies (sometimes day time ones as well). Family, trust, respect, Man vs. Man, Man vs. Nature, staying true to your roots. It's all in there, set to gorgeous scenery and a sweeping soundtrack that makes your soul soar and spirit weep. 

I had to find a book that complemented FATHERS AND SONS by Ivan Turgenev for my senior year thesis, and this was it. So happy I picked it, because this was about a tough, kick ass woman. Oh, she LOOKED sweet and weak and naive on the surface, but ultimately men were broken by her and because of her. 

This movie is about love and grief and loss and it's all wrapped up in one amazing journey with a lot of snow in a country that is full of pain and horror and stark, unadulterated beauty. (I really wish Putin would stop mucking it up.)

This is, literally, the ONLY mafia movie I can and will watch. I think Marlon Brando and a young Al Pacino might have something to do with it; I'll be honest. I read Mario Puzo's book, and then I saw the movie. Like WIZARD OF OZ and Hogan's PETER PAN, this is Mario's book but in visual format. 

I would like its theme song to play whenever I exit a room.

Gregory Peck. Social justice. Gregory Peck. Truth vs. Lies. Gregory Peck. A bildungsroman through a young girl's wide eyes. The way Law OUGHT to be. Gregory Peck. And also: Gregory Peck. 

I hope Harper Lee's new book will do just as well as this one did in both written and cinematic format. I mean, hello...she's had 50+ years to hone it. 

And last (but not least) I do have one favorite book that's been made into an excellent television show series: OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon.

It's got time travel, Scots in kilts, Scots speaking in Scottish brogue, and a lot (I mean a LOT) of sex. With some historical background. Or maybe a lot (I mean a LOT) of historical background. With some sex. 

Either way, Sam Heughan. And so watch it. It's On Demand. 


Dinah: the original feminine mystique

I'll just be honest: I wouldn't kick that guy's shoes
out from under my bed. 
So last week, in DIG #7 (Trust No One), toward the end, the breastplate of stones is lit up by fire and illuminated on the cave ceiling we saw the stones projecting written Hebrew. I just so happen to have contacts who read and speak fluent Hebrew, and so I can tell you that the names illuminated on the ceiling were: Simeon (or Shimon), Levi (or Levy), and the last one, the one that crazy Rabbi Lev breathes out? Dinah. (There are various spellings; I prefer Dinah, so I'm staying with that, but the pronunciation is: DEEN-ah). In fact, I culled my sources from an extensive variety of places on the Internet, but then I was all: but what were the Hebrew words on the cave ceiling?! and so I got on the phone and called friend Ellen, who is my go-to Israel/Judaism/Hebrew expert. (No, seriously. AND she gives me health advice...that I promptly ignore because I never follow directions when it comes to health advice.) Her husband is a Rabbi, and so I got some first-hand Dinah information from him, too. Thank you, thank you!

So let's talk about Dinah, because I'm feeling the color red all around her.

Years ago, I read a really excellent book that was eventually turned into a Lifetime movie called THE RED TENT by Anita Diamant. It was a fictionalized version of Dinah's story. There's some controversy around it; some people are upset because they think it takes too much license with the Biblical story of Dinah. And that, also, there's no historical evidence ancient Israelite women had specialized tents they disappeared into when they gave birth or were on their ladies' days.

There are, however, actually two interpretations of Dinah's story and one is that she wasn't raped. (And here I'll just be upfront and let you know: I'm on Team Consenting Adults.) 

If you've been exposed to the Bible and/or Diamant's book, you probably already know who Dinah was. But let me tell you more about her, according to Biblical scholars:

The name Dinah means "Judgement." Dinah was born to Jacob and Leah, and she was the sister of the patriarchs of the 12 Tribes of Israel. Her story can be found in Genesis Chapter 34. But lots of stories about Dinah can also be found in the Midrash, a sort of ancient commentary on the Torah that analyzes and fills in story gaps; it's been around since the 2nd century AD, though the content it discusses is much, much older. 

According to parts of the Midrash, Dinah was actually destined to be Jacob's 11th son (Joseph), but Leah didn't want that. Rachel, Leah's sister, was also married to Jacob, and had only had one son, while Leah had already had six. So Leah begged God to make her fetus a girl, and God did. Forever after (some say), Dinah may have felt, in her soul, that she was a male and was very similar in nature to her brother Joseph (he of the amazing technicolor dreamcoat, tricked and sold into slavery by his conniving brothers). She was very forward and assertive for a woman of her time. 

She's also the only daughter of Jacob mentioned in the book of Genesis. According to the Midrash, it was highly unlikely that Jacob had no other daughters, and it suggests that each of Jacob's 12 sons were born with a female twin, who they would marry if Canaanites became forbidden (more on the Canaanites in a minute). 

Another Midrash tale is that Dinah had a child named Osnat from her dalliance with Shechem (more on him in a minute). Osnat was a daughter, and Dinah's family hated Osnat so much they banished her to Egypt either with the angel Gabriel or Dinah took her. Osnat was taken in by Pharaoh's wife, and ended up marrying (get this!) Dinah's brother Joseph.  Which kept it aaaallll in the family, just like the Jacobites seem to have liked it.

At the end (in the Midrash), Dinah ended up marrying Job (he upon whom God played a really unfair game with Satan) and had 10 children with him. (In other texts she ends up married to other men--one of them, her brother Simeon. Ew, gross! But then, that's modern day taboo for you...times were different in ancient BCE.) (Also they got to live to, like, 167 years old and stuff. Those ancient people must have had some kick ass health care insurance.)

The symbolic story behind Dinah is about the ancient Israelites trying to establish ties and social boundaries with outsiders (aka the Canaanites): her story is essentially about marriage, and back then (and it can be today if you choose well) marriage was about mutual respect, bonding (giving and taking), and being cooperative with outsiders (those not of your tribe).

The area the story of Dinah takes place in was called Shechem. Shechem was a Canaanite city, and the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel. Today, Shechem would be part of the West Bank, where the city of Nablus is (about 49 km/30 miles north of Jerusalem). It was one of the oldest settlements in Canaan, and it's first referenced in Genesis when Abraham goes there and builds an altar near a tree to offer God sacrifices. Later, Abraham's grandson Jacob (Dinah's dad) camps out near Shechem and also builds an altar there. This is where shit gets real and hits the fan all at once because, ultimately, Dinah's story is about uniting the land of Israel--making it whole--and to do that, the Jacobites needed to mix in with the Canaanites, and there begins the rising action, the conflict, in Dinah's story arc.

Shechem, in Dinah's time, was the center of a movement, a blending of many different languages, customs, beliefs--diversity abounded there. All of these different traditions eventually merged to become Israel. And Dinah was an assertive, progressive, open-minded woman; she WANTED to socialize and get to know people who were different from her.

The important thing to know about Dinah is that she was accepting of others' differences and those considered to be "outsiders." One day, a Canaanite prince named Shechem (yes, same name as his town) decided he was in love with Dinah and wanted her. This is where the differing versions of what happened begin:

Version #1, and the accepted Biblical tale: 

Shechem raped Dinah. Afterwards, he asked to marry her. But Dinah's brothers were pretty pissed, particularly Simeon and Levi, and they wanted revenge. So they told Shechem he could have Dinah, but only after he and all the men in Shechem were properly circumcised ***(I actually have a personal circumcision story to share, but I'll do it at the end of this article so you can skip it if you'd prefer--I know it's a controversial topic for some.)*** 

Shechem and his men consented to the circumcisions, and while they were recovering in pain (because seriously: OUCH), on the 3rd day (the day the recovery pain just so happens to be at its worst), Simeon and Levi and their other brothers ambushed and slew all the men of Shechem--every single one of them. (BAD FORM, SIMEON AND LEVI! You can't cut a man when he's down after being...cut. Bad. Form.) 

This made coexistence between Jacob's tribe (Israel) and the Shechemites (Canaan) virtually impossible. So there goes those peace accords.

Version #2, the Feminine Mystique tale:

Version #2, according to my Judaism expert, is the only story according to Judaism. And that's good, because it's the more awesome version as far as I'm concerned (and the team I'd root for). This is the version that says Dinah had consensual sex with Shechem. 

Dinah was actually a midwife. So in one version of this tale, Dinah goes outside to gather herbs for her midwifery stuff. She runs into Shechem, a local Canaanite prince, who hits on her and convinces her he's in love with her and would she please come back to his place and oh, I don't know....marry him? 

In another version of the story I found, she goes on a walkabout because she's curious about the Shechemites/Canaanites--she wanted to know about their festivals and celebrations, culture and food, and so she left her tent to see what was going on in town. While there, she ran into Shechem, who became instantly so smitten by her he asked to sleep with her. Being a woman who was self-confident and open, she said...Okay. 

And they did.

Here's what you should know (real quick) about sex in ancient times: there were two kinds. There was regular sex and prostitution sex. Sex in ancient times created bonding, a sense of obligation, a feeling of unity. There would have been a sort of "married" feel to what Dinah chose to do with Shechem. But prostitution sex was far different; that was for money, which made it dirty, which meant nice girls didn't do it.

So when Dinah chose to have sexual intercourse with Shechem, to lie with him, this version of Dinah's story insists the act was really the ultimate form of acceptance, of bonding with the outsiders, The Others. Afterwards, Hamor (Shechem's dad) goes to talk to Jacob about Shechem marrying his daughter--and this is where the symbolic give/take part of joining the Jacobites and the Canaanites together to create Israel comes into play: give your daughter Dinah to my son Shechem, and we will share our land. (Something sort of like that, I think.) 

However, just like in Version #1, Dinah's brothers Simeon and Levi are PISSED. Upon finding out what Dinah and Shechem have done, they cry out, "Should our sister be treated like a whore?" (In modern times, our USA version of this would have probably have been like The Jerry Springer Show.)

In Version #2, what Simeon and Levy were actually mad about was the bonding/uniting of the two tribes, because the last thing Simeon/Levi wanted was to intermarry with the Canaanites. (They had sister wives waiting for them, remember? Who needs Canaanites?)

So when Jacob hears about Dinah and Shechem's sweet sweet lovemaking, at first he's very quiet (maybe humming: "Is this the little girl I carried?..." because if I made this scene into a movie, I'd put Sunrise, Sunset in as background music for this bit. But I digress)...but then he negotiates for Dinah to marry Shechem. The assertion of Team Consensual Sex is that this negotiation stuff also happened in Story Version #1, because Hamor (Shechem's dad) also tries to get Dinah and Shechem married off. Scholars claim that, if what happened to Dinah had truly been rape, that wouldn't have happened--Jacob would have been obligated to protect his daughter and all his other women and seek justice; in fact, he curses Simeon and Levy for seeking justice. 

So really, the shame aspect of Version #2 is that Dinah was unmarried. Shechem wanted to marry her/make an honest woman out of her, but there was the Simeon/Levi Problem--two beefy dudes who were just not going to let this go. Premarital sex would have been a violation of the Jacobites' social group norms, but something that could have been dealt with via the act of marriage. So the actual tension in the situation was just that Simeon and Levi simply didn't want to intermix with the Canaanites. Simeon and Levy end up killing Shechem and friends and family (and raping/pillaging the town while they're at it...in addition, Dinah has to find her beloved's slain corpse knowing it was done at the hands of her own brothers), thus making it virtually impossible for the Jacobites and Canaanites to peacefully coexist and become one united nation and people.

Okay. Let's talk about Simeon and Levy--want to? Because seriously. What a couple of frickin' knobs, right? 

Simeon was the 2nd son of Leah and Jacob. His name means, essentially, "God has heard my suffering," and Leah named him that because Jacob preferred her sister Rachel over her. 

In the Midrash, it's Simeon who convinces Hamor and Shechem to have all the Canaanite men circumcised, and he also ends up slaying all the men himself (and kidnapping 100 Canaanite women at the same time). More traditional sources say he while he was physically strong, he was also a very envious fellow, particularly toward his brother Joseph. After he and Levi kill Shechem and his people, Jacob punishes Simeon because he's placed their family in such danger. When Jacob dies, in his final blessing to Simeon, he condemns Simeon's descendants to become divided and scattered (that's horrible blessing, by the way, and there's a name for it: The Blessing of Jacob...which is actually a poem in Genesis 49: 1-27).

Simeon had six children: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Saul, Jachin, and Zohar. When the Canaanites were overthrown by Joshua, the children of the Tribe of Simeon were given a part of the land in the area known as Judah. The Tribe of Simeon really dwindled in numbers, in the end. If they're out there still, they're like the Sumatran Tigers of all the 12 Tribes...nearly extinct.

Levi was really interesting to me as I researched this: he was the 3rd son of Leah and Jacob. His name means "to join," but most scholars suspect it actually just means "priest," referring to people who were joined to the Ark of the Covenant. While Simeon was very strong and envious, Levi was very pious but had tremendous impulse control. When Jacob blessed Levi, he also condemned Levi's descendants to become divided and scattered. 

Levi fathered three sons--Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. Kohath later had a son named Amram, who married Jochebed, and they were the parents of Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. (There's some confusion and differing interpretations of who Jochebed was, but the important thing, I think is that Moses, Aaron, and Miriam were all descendants of Levi.) 

The important thing about Levi (in terms of the show DIG), I think is that Levi supposedly had 2 visions: one in which he saw seven heavens, the Messiah, and Judgement Day. Levi's second vision was one that showed him seven angels bringing him priesthood, prophecy, and judgement. In that vision, the angels anointed Levi, making him a priest and telling him about his descendant Moses. In other words, Levi (a priest) is connected to the Messiah AND the Ark of the Covenant.

When Joshua divided up Israel amongst the Levites, they were given 42 cities located throughout the lands of the other 11 Tribes of Israel, but were given no land because God Himself was their inheritance. In these cities, the Levites were always the spiritual teachers. If you accidentally caused someone's death? You wanted to run to the nearest Levite city you could possibly get to. 

They were and are a tribe that was supposed to represent peace and harmony, and they were given the command to guard the Ark of the Covenant from defilement and destruction. Aaron, a descendant of Levi, was Israel's first high priest, and so the Levites essentially became a priestly class and their descendants were comprised of family dynasties integrated into Jewish societies. 

So that's Simeon and Levi. 

WAIT!! Before I go, can I tell you about Jacob, whose name God eventually changed to Israel? Because he was sort of knob, too--apples don't fall far from trees.

Jacob was the son of Rebekah and Isaac, and the grandson of Abraham. God established his covenant with Abraham, and blessed all of his descendants (including Jacob, and the 12 Tribes of Israel). Jacob was the younger of twins, and was born holding onto his brother Esau's heel. Jacob's name means "he grasps" or "he deceives." In fact, he really did! Jacob was a master liar, manipulator, and a schemer. He took advantage of Isaac's old age and blindness and cheated his big brother Esau out of his birthright and blessing, with the help of his mother Rebekah. 

Jacob struggled his whole life: with his father, with his brother, with his faith, and with his God. In fact, when God renamed him Israel, God did it because Israel means "struggles with God." As he aged, Jacob mellowed and relied on God more and more and started being nicer. But the night Jacob became "Israel," he had an all-out wrestling match with God (actually one of God's archangels) in which the Lord broke Jacob's hip to remind him just Who was actually in charge. (Honestly. Who the hell gets into a wrestling match with an all-powerful, Omnipresent deity and one of that deity's supernatural bodyguards?? Crazy people, THAT'S who). For the rest of his life, Jacob was called Israel, and he walked with a limp to remind him: Who's your daddy? GOD'S your daddy. 

And, eventually, Jacob learned to let go and let God. 

Jacob's claim to fame (besides literally being Israel and fathering the 12 Tribes) was that he had a vision in which God showed him the future: Jews would establish their own nation, then be scattered to the ends of the Earth, but they would all one day return to their homeland. Which actually did come true, the end.

Okay. That's pretty much it. Except listen: I searched high and low for information on Dinah's Sisters, and all I got were results leading back to Episode 8 of DIG. I think the point about this is...Dinah was officially the only daughter of Jacob, but she HAD to have had sisters. And Jacob was Israel. And he had two sons who screwed harmony and unity up for the Jacobites and the Canaanites. And later, the descendants of one of those sons became the priestly class, commanded to always take care of God's Holy Home, the Temple Mount. 

I think it's also interesting that the show has two Rabbis--Shimon and Lev. Brothers? I dunno know. But let's keep watching and see! And also, let's start a massive letter writing campaign demanding more Seasons of DIG so a girl named Amy in Atlanta, Georgia doesn't go stir crazy with nothing to research. Okay?

***Okay! Now, for those who are interested--do you want to hear my personal circumcision story? If no, get out of here! I'm about to tell a pee pee story. If yes, read on:

So my mom struggled with whether or not to circumcise my little brother after he was born. Finally, when he was about 2-3 months old, she decided to pull the trigger. Or cut the skin. Whatever. So I was about 3 and I remember this, to this day, THAT'S how big a scream my baby brother let out when the doctor did it. Right before, I remember my mom asking: "Will this hurt him?" And the 1975 doctor going, "No. He's too young; he won't feel or remember a thing." And then that blood curdling scream.

About 4 years later, one night, my mom had just finished giving my brother a bath. Afterwards, she sat him naked on the closed toilet and went to get her little cuticle scissors to cut his toenails. When she came back into the bathroom, he took one look at the little scissors, put his hands over his little penis and cried, "No, mommy, NO!!" 

(FYI: Please, please, PLEASE do not start a war in my blog's comments section. I promise I'm not advocating for or against this practice; I'm just telling you a ridiculously cute personal family story. Also, I'm embarrassing my brother in public just like he used to do to me when we were teenagers...win-win!) 


DIG thoughts: ep 7 (outlandish feminine energy)

source: SpoilerTV
also: i think there should be a show spin off called DON'T EFF
WITH DEBBIE. (if she doesn't die, of course.)
I am sorry DIG creators and writers and actors! I fell asleep putting my little girl to sleep on Thursday, and I missed the first 20 minutes! (horrified gasp) 

Internet, do NOT miss 20 minutes of this show or you will be completely lost. When I tuned in, not only was my brain discombobulated and confused from sleep, I was completely lost. I just sat and read tweets about it on Thursday, because I had no idea who was where what or why. And God forbid I say something stupidly flippant on Twitter to anyone. (Me? Stupidly flippant? Nooooo!) (that was sarcasm for those of you lacking that gene.)

But I've had a chance to re-watch, knowing what I now know. Now that I know what I know now, now here's what I now know is not (say that 10 times real fast):

*Emma is NOT Peter's daughter.
*Peter is NOT hallucinating stuff into reality.
*Peter's wife is NOT a ghost (but DOES know about his extramarital activities--PETER!!! Discretion, my friend.)
*Peter does NOT know Hebrew
*Peter is NOT weird about gay people

I'm telling you that because, at some point in my previous thought postings, I've made those outlandish claims or wondered those outlandishly misguided things aloud.

Never fear! I have some outlandish claims to replace them with as a result of watching #7:

*The Essene is a GOOD guy! I am 98% sure of it. The other 2% is to cover my ass in case I'm wrong so, at the end, I can go: Oh, I had suspicions all along.

[edit/update: I forgot to note that the entire REASON I think The Essene is a good guy (now) is because he saves Peter from the bad guy goons driving the cars trying to plow him down. Thank you to the person on Facebook who pointed that out to me. My brain loves the help.]

*I don't trust Emma. I am sad about this. Because I DO trust Alison Sudol. Why don't I get to also trust the character she plays? Alas, I do not. I feel she's either not telling Peter everything, or she's being suspiciously canny in some way. A good actress, if you will. (Played by a really good actress! Reality is Art is Reality.)

*But you know what? Ironically, I DO trust Lynn. Who didn't show up for her 9 PM meeting with Peter and may have possibly sent some goons in cars to run him over, but still! I trust Lynn. I know Emma told Peter someone at the agency is spilling the beans on him...which I think someone obviously is, but it's not Lynn. But I bet Peter's going to start thinking it maybe is.

So I just do trust Lynn. I'm 98% sure she's a good guy. Plus, she keeps getting beat up, and I'm sure when she took the Israel bureau assignment, that was NOT something she signed up for.

*Josh, the future High Priest. Man! THAT stinkin' little twerp. Don't trust him. He totally threw Debbie under the bus and was wholly responsible for Charlie's death. Because I think he knew, when he told Debbie he had to use the bathroom, what was going to happen. He's creepy, that kid. (My suspicion: most genetically engineered children raised to be Armageddon High Priests of Temple Mount #3 are.)

*Margrove: he's a flunky, a stooge, a greedy little pawn for the nefarious Rabbi Lev & friends. He he wants the archeological glories and treasures. I wonder if he knows they're actually trying to start a Holy War? 

Off-topic side note: my favorite scene from THIS episode was when Margrove and the Rabbi are about to put the breastplate on the pillars. Rabbi Lev tells Margrove it's just down to them now, the Rabbi and the...teeger? I couldn't make out what he called Margrove, but Margrove responded with "I've been called worse." And that was good comic timing, Richard E. Grant, and it made me smile right out loud. (Did you know? Richard [Margrove] is a wonderfully gifted comic actor. I deeply heart his POSH NOSH series; they make me LAUGH.) 

[edit/update: someone on Facebook told me Rabbi Lev calls Margrove a "digger" but his accent makes it come out "dee-gher." Collaboration! I heart it.] 

*I was surprised the breastplate was used as sort of an effigy. I really thought Josh was going to get all dressed up in priestly robes at some point and say a bunch of ancient stuff and God was going to come bursting out of the sky and all hell (and heaven) would break loose. This was more like...the breastplate was a key (did you note? the key symbol was in the ground, and part of the process). And when the fire started, it lit up the stones which showed some sort of message on the cave ceiling.

*I want to know more about Golan's boyfriend Udi. I'm not going to make an outlandish claim at this point and say he's suspect; I just think, when it comes to DIG, it should raise immediate suspicion when anyone has maps to any underground Jerusalem areas in their houses, water geologists or not. Particularly if they're sleeping with police detectives who are helping FBI detectives who nefarious Armageddon-conjuring groups want to do away with.

Other important things about DIG 7, Trust No One:

1. John Donaldson. This (I think) is Gregory Donaldson's dad. Someone on Twitter wondered if it was Gregory himself, but after watching, no--I think it's Gregory's dad, and this is why Gregory had the key to the safe deposit box with the VHS tape, which everyone on Twitter was slightly agog about Thursday night, VHS jokes all around. (The other thing I love about DIG is their sense of nostalgia--Debbie makes a call on a pay phone...with COINS. Are pay phones that take coins still around? If they are, seems like the Sonoran Desert would be a classic place to have them.)

(Off-topic nostalgic personal side story: when I was 11, my dad decided he no longer wanted his very large and expensive 1979 Kawasaki motorcycle because he never rode it. So he traded it. For one of them new fandangled pieces of magic technology wizardry, called a VCR. Years later, I look back on this and think: well, early model VCRS were pretty revolutionary and space age-y in 1985. Even though you can buy one now at a local flea market for like a dollar and that 1979 Kawasaki motorcycle, a classic at this point, is probably worth half a million dollars. C'est la vie...at least my dad felt really felt cutting edge for a bit.)

2. At any rate, John Donaldson is connected to Margrove. They were professors together with another professor named Isaac Zohar. Donaldson's big issue was that he'd found THE most important archeological thing, ever. And he went crazy toward the end of the tape, ranting about Order of Moriah and how they're everywhere--politicians, business, etc and so forth (BECAUSE THEY ARE). (No mention of half-human/half-lizard aliens, though. Sad. I'm certain you could've stuck that bit in somewhere, DIG writers.) 

My suspicion: Donaldson found the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark will explain all to Mankind. Or melt your face and eyeballs off. (I'll research that and get back to you.) (No, seriously.)

3. Here's why I don't trust Emma now--the whole dead body thing has me woefully confused. Sooo...they took pictures of her posed as dead and gave it to the police? And the police were all, Oh, ok cool! about it? And there was never an actual crime scene investigation with a real body to go with the pictures? I mean, I know police can be very corrupt and all, but there ARE standards and procedures. And then she had some crazy story about Margrove harassing her when she tried to break up with him, so being hired to trick Peter was her ticket out of Israel and that entanglement?

Emma. Please, girlfriend. Lord knows, I've had those entanglements too and they ARE tricky to get out of...that's why you (a) change your phone number, (b) get a restraining order, and (c) find a muscle-y boyfriend to be your bodyguard. You don't HAVE to take a job playing someone's dead daughter for unknown, suspect reasons. Soooo....I don't know. Emma hasn't earned back all my trust just yet. Maybe just 25%. MAYBE. Oh, she looks sweet and everything, but listen to me: still waters can run deep. (Emma's my tribe--remember?)

4. Let's talk about Peter's dead daughter. I asked Jason Isaacs, on Twitter, if he could tell us if Peter's daughter committed suicide because she'd been sexually violated in some way? (Which, can I just say--this show has made me ask some of the most bizarre questions ever to complete strangers. Jason Isaacs and I do not know each other at all and there I am, asking him questions about rape and crap. I ask you: where else, besides social media, would that happen?? Social media: destroying English and making us ask each other really weird questions.)

Anyway. Jason either didn't see my tweet and/or he ignored it. You see! This is why I don't ask Jason questions on Twitter; I just tweet him overly familiar, flippant comments. So frustrating to this girl television show researcher. (But Jason DID make my 2nd graders deliriously happy recently because he answered a friendly letter we wrote him--we posted a picture of it on Twitter, and not only did he answer both their questions and make their WHOLE day, he also earned himself 25 very impressed young fans by his thorough promptness. AND impressed/endeared himself to their teacher forever and ever for doing that for them--some of those kids still ask if we can write to Captain Hook/Mr. Darling again. I know they'll remember, forever, that when they were in 2nd grade, Captain Hook/Mr. Darling actually took time to take them serious and respond to them. Which is why I'm just going to let this one go.)

At any rate, the reason I asked him that weird question is, at the very end...did you catch it? Rabbi Lev breathes (kind of in awe): Dinah. Or Dena. Or maybe Dina. Pick your spelling, but pronounce it: DEEN-ah.

Brief background info on Dinah--she was the daughter of Leah and Jacob, sister of Joseph (he of the amazing technicolor dreamcoat). Jacob was the patriarch of the patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel--Jacob WAS Israel. He was the son of Isaac and Rebecca, and the grandson of Abraham and a descendant of Noah. Later, Jacob's name was changed to Israel. Remember that, because that seems important to this story: Noah begat Abraham begat Isaac begat Jacob/Israel.

Speaking of daughters of Israel: Did you catch the series of events that played out on Peter behind his back? Lynn calls Peter's wife, who lets Lynn know she knows Lynn is sleeping with her husband and then hangs up on Lynn; then in marches Ambassador Ruth Ridell, all huffy that Lynn didn't do what she told her to with Peter. Then there's Emma, who has a thing for Peter (I think) or is using her feminine wiles on him. And there's Peter's dead daughter. And Debbie out in New Mexico. Tough, awesome Debbie out in the Sonoran Desert. What I most like about the women of DIG is that they are tough. They may not look like it at first, but they are. Even the bad ones. Tough girls. Braveheart women. We need more of those, planet Earth. (Maybe not the ones planning Armageddon.)

Dinah, if you don't know, was supposedly raped by Shechem, a Canaanite prince, and in vengeance, Dinah's brothers Simeon and Levi, killed him. That's why I asked Jason if maybe Vicky had been raped/violated in some way and thus took her own life. (Another possibility was that it was an act of repentance and/or human sacrifice--a la Khalid and Emma's bartender friend.)

Because there's a reason the bad guys want Peter gone. He's been to Seminary school, and he knows semiotics (study of symbols). And something really weird is going on with his past--it's being kept a mystery why, exactly, Vicky committed suicide. There is something about Peter that is dangerous to their plans. The biggest DIG question right now, I think, is WHY ARE THEY SO EAGER FOR PETER TO BE GONE? (or maybe: What does Peter know...that he doesn't know that he knows yet?)

At any rate, I think you should know about Dinah. Maybe, oh...I don't know, because Episode #8 is called "Sisters of Dinah?" And so I'm going to go research that and tell you more about her. When I do, I'm probably also going to tell you about the city of Shechem, and the division of the ancient Kingdom of Israel, the one which King Solomon ruled over, that was divided into the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Because Dinah is connected to Shechem, and Shechem is actually a pretty important area and figures into the story of Israel quite deeply. So I think that division may become important to the story. Because I think the Essene (whose name is actually Shem--Shem, in Genesis, eldest son of Noah, from whom Abraham--and Jesus, incidentally--was descended, from whom we are given the Semitic (aka Hebrew) language spoken by the people who are Shem's descendants, aka the Jewish people...by the way) may be part of that somehow. In addition, Jehoshaphat was part of the division of the Kingdom of Israel, and that may be a clue (from episode 6). And all connected to Dinah, daughter of (Jacob) Israel.

THEN I'll tell you about the Temple Mount. And the Ark of the Covenant. I should probably also start researching the 12 Tribes of Israel, since they're written on the stones. 

You guys! This research is taking forever. If I could JUST quit my day job and research this and write about it every day, I totally would. But then in 3 weeks I'd be out of a job, and I have a mortgage and credit card bills. And should probably put my kid through college at some point. I'm already worried about what in the heck I'm going to find to occupy my time and mind with when DIG ends. Will USA Network provide therapy groups for people in withdrawal?

In conclusion: Mysteries are hard to unravel. Sometimes it's hard to know who to trust and who not to trust. Talk therapy does help. Tough girls are always awesome. I wish there weren't so many bills to pay.

Oh, AND! Here's my favorite POSH NOSH episode (it has nothing to do with DIG, but I have a feeling Professor Margrove's not much longer for this world since Rabbi Lev may no longer have a use for him, so here--watch him be an amazing, annoying git in these fun, faux cooking shows. But hurry--I really feel he's about to die!):