Month: November 2019

Game of Thrones, the Hurt Still Lingers

Game of Thrones

Months ago I wrote a post about my disappointment in the way the 8th and final season of Game of Thrones was headed. It’s now long behind me, and I still find myself, for lack of a better way of phrasing it, hurt and angry.

Just a TV Show…

Let’s get a few things out of the way right off the bat. I am more than well aware that Game of Thrones is just a television show. The characters and storyline are quite fictional and it has no direct impact on anything in my or anyone’s lives.

Nevertheless, a show like this was a commitment. For a decade, many of us watched with excitement. I’ve never had a show that I needed to view right when it aired for fear of having the experience tainted. If you touched Facebook, YouTube, or even the news, you were likely to be shocked by what you’d find going in the lives of Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister.

Game of Thrones Nerds

I have a confession. I got so wrapped up in the craze that was Game of Thrones, I even got excited when Duolingo started offering High Valyrian as one of its language options. There I was, the king of Game of Thrones nerds, learning a fictional language for no purpose reason whatsoever. It was just another way to demonstrate my fervor and commitment.

And with each passing minute as season 8 progressed forward, I felt like the writers betrayed the audience. And as everything came to a close, one of the least satisfying endings in the history of television, I felt like a piece of my last several years was tossed into the waste basket.

Television Rarities

It’s a rare and beautiful thing when the artists who create a television series take their craft so seriously, they refuse to let things go in the middle. Everything starts off with a bang, capturing the viewers attention. With each episode you are drawn further into a mesmerizing plot, entranced by the brilliant character development.

But everything has the potential of getting stale. Boredom lurks around every corner. And it is the true artist who decides that their integrity is of far greater importance than their wallet.

Writers always have the option of having some episodes or even seasons that serve as fillers. They can bulk the series up so that there are more opportunities to grab some cash. Or they can drag the series out well past the point when it’s enjoyable to most audiences. In such situations, if the quality deteriorates, the writers might be forced to end the show prematurely. Or worse, the series could just get cancelled, leaving everyone wondering what would have happened.

Television and the Curse of Popularity

And then there’s the curse of popularity. What happens when your show’s greatness pulls in a large audience, one loaded with expectations for how a show is supposed to look? The true artist continues to create, regardless of the thoughts and opinions of the onlookers. And they might suffer because of it. Some viewers might not see the beauty of what the writers do. They will not understand and they will fall to the side. And, of course, this means the money won’t flow as readily as it once did.

So the option exists of catering to this now larger and more mainstream audience. The option exists of sticking to tried and true patterns that have succeeded in the past. They are void of creativity. But they work!

Television and the Curse of Patterns

I’ve noticed a pattern in some shows I’ve watched or attempted to watch. Ever seen a show where the police try and solve crimes with the help of a consultant? The consultant can have any number of skills, many of which make sense, like forensic science or lie detection. And they can range all the way to the absurd (mathematics, author, the Devil, etc). Some shows were amazing and original; others were just blah blah. But television producers keep producing them, because they work. They bring in audiences. They make money.

Breaking Bad: The King of Television

In fact, after years of dazzling myself with television entertainment, I can only think of one show that had the entire package. Breaking Bad was great from start to finish. There were no wasted seasons among the five. Arguably there may have been one throwaway episode along the way, but one episode in five full seasons is hardly something to complain about.

The quality never dipped. The plot was fascinating and unique. And the acting was superb. And Breaking Bad likely had the most complete, impressive, and intriguing character development in the history of television.

Five Seasons of Amazing

Five seasons is certainly a satisfying amount of a television. The writers, despite probably losing oodles of money by not doing so, could have gone longer. They could have unnecessarily stretched things out further. But they decided to cap everything before any of us had a chance to get bored or distracted. And to top everything off, they left us with a fantastic ending. All loose ends were neatly tied up. There was nothing left we needed to know or find out when Breaking Bad was no longer going to be a part of our lives.

Breaking Bad is easily one of my favorite television series of all time, perhaps even my favorite. But that favorite spot was slated to be quite taken over by the phenomenon we call Game of Thrones. Walter White had nothing on Joffrey Baratheon!

Game of Thrones, the Bigger they are…

But the bigger they are, the harder they fall. For certain there was already a slight waning in quality as Game of Thrones progressed toward its climax. But nothing was as dramatic as a final season that abruptly ended plots we had been following fervently for a decade. It was nothing short of painfully jarring to see events we had waited years for fall so far from the mark. We wanted the magic to which we had become accustomed to accompany us all the way until the end of the series. And instead we were given drivel. I believe the finale was the worst episode of the entire series.

Yeah, Game of Thrones was just a television show. It was just images on a screen. But there were expectations and excitement and years of commitment. And the greatest fall from grace in television history. It hurt. It made my stomach ache. And even if just a little, the hurt still lingers.


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Posted by jaffeworld in Entertainment, opinion, 0 comments

Two Questions Divorcees Never Ask One Another


Divorcees have their own subculture, their own little understanding and kinship with others like them. It’s sometimes fun and interesting, you’re standing there in front of someone and it becomes clear that your family structure isn’t exactly traditional. Then they reveal that their world is your world, and the smiling and camaraderie begins.

The Two Questions

I’ve noticed over the last few years that there are two questions I receive all the time. But I never receive them from other divorced people. They are the result of extreme (and understandable) curiosity. And they are by no means hurtful. However, they are never asked by other divorced people.

The first question sounds something like this:

When did you know? I mean, how early did you have some inkling of a clue that something wasn’t right there?

The second question:

If it was so bad, why did you stick around? How did you last as long as you did? Why didn’t you get out sooner?

The main reason, I believe, divorcees don’t ask each other these questions is because they already know the answers. It’s almost always the same for all of us.

Divorcee Question #1

When did we know?

Disturbingly early.

Most people could look back and say something chilling like, “I had an understanding that something might be off during our first date, but I kept on pressing because there was something about the experience I was enjoying.”

Others knew during engagement, or while walking down to the marriage canopy. And there are countless reasons they followed through anyway. The range is baffling. Some seem silly in retrospect, such as those who had already paid a hefty deposit for the wedding or sent out the invitations and didn’t want to deal with the shame and embarrassment of calling everything off.

It might sound silly. And few would admit it. But even if these aren’t the only reason people go through with a marriage they aren’t sure about, they are contributing factors for many.

A Feeling in the Pit of their Stomach

But there are bigger reasons. Some truly believe the red flags that are popping up are nothing in comparison to the happy moments and feelings. Others are so committed to the idea of marriage that they are willing to endure almost anything to follow through with the original plans. And others are blinded by what they can only assume is love.

Whatever reasons, most divorcees had a feeling in the pit of their stomach that they were making a terrible mistake. And that feeling didn’t start ten years into the marriage.

Are Doubts OK?

Now, I need to differentiate for a moment between this feeling I’m speaking about and doubts. Doubts, on the one hand, are natural. They are to be expected of both members of all couples. Doubt in the face of an enormous decision like this is as natural as fear while walking down a dark, quiet alley at nighttime.

If you don’t have doubts, I’m actually a bit worried about you. You are about to spend the rest of your life with another person. No doubts likely means you’re following your emotions exclusively and have left your intellect behind. This is rarely a recipe for success in life.

Normal people have doubts. However, if you have a powerful feeling in the pit of your stomach like you are making the biggest mistake of your life, this should not be ignored. There is no greater red flag. Follow your gut, and if necessary, walk away. Turning around and leaving only gets harder as time goes by.

Divorcee Question #2

So what about the second question? Why didn’t you leave? Why didn’t you run as soon as you were sure there were problems, problems that were very unlikely to ever be solved?

The answer is complex. Perhaps unsatisfying. And the question is also extremely unfair.

You see, we’re now looking back. Someone can easily look back at a decade’s worth of complications and pain and say, “Gee, that was loaded with unsolvable issues. I can pinpoint at least 20 times where I could have and probably should have just walked out the front door.”

But life is never that simple. Every day is its own day. Each and every day of your life you need to look at the entirety of the situation standing right in front of you. You need to evaluate, and there are countless considerations you must pore over.

Can I handle the financial turmoil that’s about to come my way? Am I ready to not see my children every single day? Am I making a decision based on current anger and resentment, rather than a careful, well thought-out one? Can I face up to the challenges that are about to be thrown my way, more challenges than I could ever imagine?

Fears and Second Guessing

And most days of the week, the fears and second guessing will be so powerful that you will head to bed that night still a married person.

So the questions isn’t really a one time, “Why did you stay knowing full well that it was so tough for you all of those years?” The question would need to be asked once a day, every day, for the duration of the period of suffering. And every single time the question is asked, there would be a host of different details that went into that day’s decision.

We could never have known that we would look back with absolute clarity and see that there really was only one choice all along. Sadly, that’s just not how the world works.

So What About You?

So, next time you’re thinking of asking a divorcee friend one of these two questions, you should have in mind a) they’ve most certainly been asked the questions before and b) the answers will be challenging, and likely some variation of what I just said. If they’re like me, they won’t have any issue answering your question. They’re open and honest and comfortable with how they feel.

But try not to pass judgment. And don’t second guess the decisions we made. You might have trouble with both these answers. But you don’t understand. It wasn’t you. You should thank God for that. And don’t assume you would do anything differently.


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Posted by jaffeworld in divorce, 0 comments

Israel’s Strange Love Affair with Donald Trump


Many months ago, I was asked if I could write a piece for an American-Jewish newspaper and I tossed together this article. Sadly, for whatever reason it was never published. But I thought I’d hand it over to Jaffe World instead. Enjoy my take on the odd relationship between Donald Trump and the Israeli people.


November 8th, 2016. An infamous date for many an American: The day Donald Trump was elected as the 45th president of the United States of America. But for me, there was a completely different connotation.

Two days earlier I hopped on a plane, the first of four epic rides, to ultimately arrive in Israel on this auspicious date. I was coming to reunite with my children, and to start my life over again from scratch.

November 8th

I was really glad to arrive on November 8th. America seemed to be anywhere between a silly little mess to a downright disaster. I loved having an excuse to not vote, since the election seemed all about choosing the lesser of two evils. And after all, shouldn’t we always learn to live for something, rather than focus our time and attention fighting against something we dislike?

So I dodged a bullet. This bizarre election would be foreign to me. I would be up in the sky while Armageddon happened below. And I was more than happy to not watch it all unfold.

Quiet Trump Support

The political climate in the States was odd. My last stomping ground in America was Kansas, a state that has consistently voted for Republican candidates for the last sixty years. Yet even in this bastion of Republican fervor, those who supported Trump tended to do so quietly, or even with a hint of embarrassment.

So, there I was. Leaving on a jet plane, from a country about to descend into an endless stream of political inanity, where seemingly no one took pride in their soon-to-be Head of State.

The feeling in America was disheartening; however, the feeling in Israel was downright shocking. My first night in Jerusalem was a rough one. I managed to score a key for my new apartment, but I did not have too many necessities. I lay down on a mattress on the floor, cold and confused, completely detached from the outside world.

4AM in Jerusalem

I woke up at 4AM, without a thing in the world to do. I took a stroll through Jerusalem’s empty streets and was pleasantly surprised to find some sports bars that had been open all night. I left Israel eleven years earlier, and a thriving Jerusalem nightlife was not among my expectations.

However, I didn’t find soccer games and cheering fans at the bars. No, I discovered that several establishments throughout the city decided to remain open all night for election coverage. An election that frustrated and bored the population of America seemed riveting to scores of Israeli citizens.

Trump Trump Trump!

But that was just the beginning. I meandered into Mike’s Place, a famous bar in the city center, and one of the most American places you’ll find in Jerusalem. As I descended the stairs I was greeted by an excited chant of “Trump Trump Trump.” And it was then that I first discovered Israel’s odd obsession with one of the most complex and polarizing figures of my lifetime. Whereas the vast majority of those living in the States either loathed Trump or tolerated him with a mixture of shame and embarrassment, Israelis absolutely adored him.

Trump and Israel Policy

Israel’s strange love affair with Donald Trump can later be attributed to some of his policies. To be sure, Trump’s controversial decision to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was quite welcome to a great deal of the population. But no one could have anticipated such a move. And Republicans do have a greater track record when it comes to supporting Israel’s autonomy in its struggles against terrorism and outside aggression. But I never saw such intense support for previous Republicans in office. No, the Israeli obsession with Trump—possibly the only country in the world that feels this way—is particularly unique.

The Israeli Government

Years ago I read with excitement and dread a book called Shut Up, I’m Talking: And Other Diplomacy Lessons I Learned in the Israeli Government, by Gregory Levey. I was excited because not only was the title hysterical, but I was utterly fascinated by the whole idea of a North American seeing the functioning of the Israeli government from up close. However, I also feared the book. I had lived in Israel for eight years and saw more than a few reasons to be frustrated with my homeland. I really didn’t need any more excuses to justify not moving back here.

Israel’s Personality

What I saw was Israel’s government as a giant exaggeration of the personality of the country at large.

People say what’s on their mind, and they say it however they choose. Israelis plow through the world, focusing on completing whatever task is at hand, while completely disregarding any feelings they may trample on along the way.

And from a distance, a tiny nation watched as one man entered the system wildly different from all other politicians in America. He didn’t talk the way they did. Trump didn’t pretend to be anything other then himself, with all his brashness and lack of attention to his words’ collateral damage. He just does and does every single day. Pleasantries and feelings are thrown to the side.

In a world where Donald Trump angers the masses, why is he so beloved in my backyard?


Because Trump truly is an Israeli.


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Posted by jaffeworld in Israel, politics, 0 comments