the 90th minute

Until September 2007, when my oldest daughter was born, this blog covered daily life and politics in Israel, as well as Hebrew-English linguistic issues, from the perspective of an American-raised journalist and translator living in Israel. Now it mostly serves as the SmunchMonk&Bear news agency, a portal into the bizarre universe of the little people. Read more at:

Sunday, September 7, 2008


The Smunch is a whopping 1 year old! That's as of last Wednesday - though her Hebrew birthday isn't for about two more weeks, leaving her in (take your pick:) a) confused birthday limbo, b) thrilled extended festivities or (pick me, pick me! as Annoying Donkey says) c) continued absolute non-awareness that there is such a thing as a birthday).

She has recently been doing more standing on her own two feet, though only for a few seconds at a time so far. I kind of feel like I'm one of those spoilsports at a magic show when she does it - I keep looking for the trick, thinking that she must be leaning against something (as she had been in the past), but I have so far been unable to spot the invisible strings, so she must be pretty talented.

Today she discovered that she can fit into a closet we have in the dining area (which fortunately has nothing in the bottom section on the side she discovered), and she had a really great time climbing in and out of the closet and playing with the closet door. Very smunchy!

Completely unrelatedly, I find it interesting that in Israel people ask about the child's sex in a way they wouldn't and couldn't in the U.S. because of the strictures of the language, in which - as with many other languages - you can't say much without knowing whether the person in question is male or female. Although they sometimes assume a baby is a particular sex (generally male, whether for reasons of male linguistic default issues or chauvinist male favoritism issues remains unclear) or ask directly whether it's a boy or a girl ("ben o bat"?), they often pop the question by asking: Is it a cutie (hamud - for boys), or is it a cutie (hamuda - for girls)?

This latter method can also be used by the parent when people assume the kid is a boy. The baby-commenters say, "Eizeh hamud!" (what a [male] cutie) - to which the appropriate response when the boy in question is not one is: "hamuDA."