Sunday, September 21, 2008

Exotic Shofars

Just a reminder that I have an illustrated essay on the halachos of exotic Shofars which is available as free download here (460 Kb PDF file). This is the second edition, revised and expanded, from September 2007.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Note to Commentors

The "Comments" link for each post is intended for comments related to the topic of the post. If you have a question for me, please email me at Also, please include your full name. Call me prudish, or British, but I find it highly inappropriate when people write to me with their questions and don't even bother signing their name! Thank you!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Filming at Dolphin Reef

I just returned from a TV shoot in the south of Israel. A Canadian company is making a 90 minute documentary for Vision TV Canada and Animal Planet, entitled Beasts of the Bible. The focus of the program is on mythical animals, especially as viewed in Jewish tradition. How they got to me, I don't know...
The first shoot was yesterday, at Dolphin Reef in Eilat, for the segment about mermaids (if you want to know about the Jewish connection between dolphins and mermaids, you'll have to read Sacred Monsters). I've been on television before, but only in studio interviews; this was very different and much more difficult. While wearing a hideously uncomfortable wetsuit in the 42 degree Celsius weather, we had to do about twenty different takes, mainly because airplanes kept flying low overhead at exactly the worst moments. But the dolphins were terrific!

In this picture, you can see me in my wetsuit, along with Tuli the sound man, the extra who plays Moses (the guy holding the reflector; more about him another time), and Liron the dolphin trainer, along with the dolphins.

Weird Animals: The Blobfish

From Wonders

Gotta love this guy. It's too weird for words. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about it (while Wikipedia often can't be considered reliable, it's useful for obscure topics with which the only person who would write about it would be an expert):

The blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus) is a fish that inhabits the deep waters off the coasts of Australia and Tasmania. Due to the inaccessibility of its habitat, it is rarely seen by humans.
Blobfish are found at depths where the pressure is several dozens of times higher than at sea level, which would likely make gas bladders inefficient. To remain buoyant, the flesh of the blobfish is primarily a gelatinous mass with a density slightly less than water; this allows the fish to float above the sea floor without expending energy on swimming. The relative lack of muscle is not a disadvantage as it primarily swallows edible matter that floats by in front of it. It is often caught by bottom trawling with nets.

Right now, I am in Eilat on a television shoot. More about that when I return and can upload photos and video!