Marvin Miller died recently and he was a great figure in baseball history for securing and preserving players’ rights and making possible their current compensation. Before him, salaries averaged about $12,000. Today they average over $3 million. Players in major professional sports in America, not just baseball, owe him a profound debt of gratitude (that he didn’t see from younger players, but isn’t that always the case?). He certainly deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. But near the end of his life he lost perspective on the drug issue in baseball.
The article below is the original version which readers of the Connecticut Jewish Ledger are being directed to from the shorter version that appears there. It was originally killed by the Jewish wire service JNS.org (ironically, created as a “different-thinking” alternative to JTA), after the publishers vetted it through one of those familiar “experts,” who are expert in reciting the official, permitted narrative of the Balkans, itself carefully crafted starting toward the end of WWII.“Kill all the Serbs, including children, so that not even the seeds of the beast are left.” — Croatian Friar Ivan Raguzh
It took a Seinfeld episode to clear the air and allow people to confess that “The English Patient” was basically a bore. Seinfeld is no longer live but truth demands that someone speak up and remark how overly long and somewhat dull Stephen Spielberg’s “Lincoln” is. Yes, it has the sainted Daniel Day Lewis, overly made up so that his natural genius for characterization is compromised by too much goop forming too many wrinkles and too much facial slack. It has the feisty Sally Field, playing Mary Todd Lincoln with the same brio she brought to Norma Rae and the same weltschmerz she brought to the matriarch in Brothers & Sisters. Even if the discrepancy in Abe and Mary’s height is historically accurate, it’s too distracting in scenes they play together, probably accounting for why she’s prostrate on the floor in one crucial scene and sitting next to him in a horse drawn carriage in another. Too much of the movie looks like painterly tableaux of various events instead of scenes where characters interact dramatically with each other. Spielberg pays attention to landscape, interiors, lighting and the inclusion of representatives of every class; he’s careful to have black people be well-spoken, well-dressed, literate and kind. Lincoln himself is played in a very understated, folksy manner with little range in the performance except for a marital fight with his wife and a final outburst with his inner circle as he pounds on the table, insisting on the importance of passing the 13th amendment. It’s hard to create a historical epic with the star acting in a very low register
Imagine a mash-up of the following movies: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, My Cousin Vinny, Flashdance, Rocky and Footnote - impossible you say? Then you haven’t seen Silver Lining Playbook with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, two young stars who are streaking across the Hollywood firmament as often as astronomically possible, this time next to Robert de Niro, screwing up his face in a performance as predictable as we’ve seen a dozen times before The plot concerns a handsome young bi-polar man being sprung from the booby hatch by his protective mom who brings him back to his dysfunctional family members suffering from OCD, Narcissism and Advanced Sit Com Disorder Separated from his wife by a restraining order, the young man meets a hot young widow who suffers from grief, depression, promiscuity and compulsive running. Naturally, these two self-destructive personalities are crazy cute and far more sensitive and insightful than the rest of us boring normals. By various machinations, they come to culminate a loving and constructive relationship through jogging, competitive dancing, letter writing, histrionic behavior that is sometimes violent and unsurprising manipulations of various enablers.
The Petraeus Affair engages us on many levels, ranging from compromised security and political cover-ups to more fundamental questions of morality, duplicity, honor and human nature. Superficially, tales of adultery are always more fascinating when they are about good looking people in high places, both of which pertain here. It’s too soon to know how much deeper this plot will sink and how many other people may be involved, but as of Tues, Nov 13th, its disclosure is shaping up as the familiar saga of territoriality and competition between an alpha female and her perceived younger threat.
Emboldened by the success of their candidate, the Times has a rip-roaring double header today (ll/8/12) with ample opportunity to slam Israel and project some negative stereotypes about Jews. The first article, by Middle East Bureau Chief Jodi Rudoren, bears the misleading title “Netanyahu Rushes to Repair Damage With the President” as the pretext for bashing the Israeli prime minister with selective quotes from hand-picked pundits. Here’s Mitchell Barak (a pollster/strategist you’ve probably never heard of): “Netanyahu backed the wrong horse. Whoever is elected prime minister is going to have to handle the US Israel relationship and we all know Netanyahu is not the right guy.” Translation: He’s certainly not the Times’ guy. And here’s Ehud Olmert: “Given what Netanyahu has done these recent months, the question is: Does our prime minister still have a friend in the White House?” Journalistic query: Would it have been ethical to identify Mr. Olmert as a possible opponent of Mr. Netanyahu in the next Israeli election? Here’s Ms. Rudoren herself, editorializing with some classic slurs about the Jews of AIPAC: “And freed from electoral concerns, the second term president may prove likelier to pursue his own path without worry about backlash from Washington’s powerful and wealthy pro-Israel lobby.” What she was thinking: I hope the readers notice that I omitted hook-nosed so as not to appear guilty of lookism. And finally, mirabile dictu, the Times publishes a quote by Bob Zelnick (former ABC correspondent) that totally contradicts everything they strategically printed about Obama before Nov. 6th: “My sense is that he both dislikes and distrusts Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and that he is more likely to use his new momentum to settling scores than to settling issues.” Ipse loquitur.
I vote at P.S. 6 on Madison Avenue and 81rst street in the heart of the upper east side. This morning I arrived at 9:15 to discover a long line snaking through the entrance hall to the back of the auditorium for those people who didn’t know which Election District they were in. Only one beleaguered gentleman at one table was in charge of looking up the addresses and answering the questions of approximately 100 people, telling them which district they were in and directing them to another long line to get their ballots. Taking advantage of the huge crowds, the school was running a bake sale and some polite little boys were working the lines, selling baked goods and snacks to raise money for the school. This is in a neighborhood with some of the wealthiest people in New York including our mayor.
With polished smoothness, four gifted actors portray the members of a long-standing quartet faced with an upcoming crisis as its leader may bow out due to illness. Mimicking the concept of four individuals musically adjusting their own wills in order to play as one quartet, the four characters are faced with decisions and circumstances that require similarly flexible responses to each other’s needs. The movie concerns the failure and success of these people to make such adjustments to life’s passions and travails. This is a film about talented people whose vocabulary and expression reflect the intelligence required to understand and interpret great music. One of the conflicts in the film centers on what happens to this control when emotion and passion intersect with it; something that may be very desirable musically may become a source of great pain in relationships.
Between now and the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, there will be many predictions of what the next four years will bring. Most of those will be wrong. As it always does, the fate of the administration will hinge on things that no one can predict.