In the annals of world literature, there are some very long books: Tolstoy’s War and Peace clocks in at 1,440 pages and Hugo’s Les Miserables beats that at 1,488. Now comes Part 1 of a biography of Barbara Stanwyck by Victoria Wilson: at 1,044 pages, it’s more than twice as long as three combined biographies of John Wayne, Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe, infinitely more important screen icons than Ms. Stanwyck whose name would not be familiar to most people under 50. If Volume 2 of this devotional work is the same length as its predecessor, it might be longer than both the Old and New Testaments, a sobering and distressing thought. Fortunately, we can rely on the marketplace to correctly balance Ms. Wilson’s idee fixe with the realities of consumer interest, if not the subject’s proportionate merit.
The NYTimes of Nov 27th devoted one and a quarter pages of text and an oversized, inflammatory front page picture of an Israeli’s woman’s breast revealing a scar and the top of her nipple under a tattooed Star of David. The shorthand association reads: Israel, Jews, cancer. Is this another disease caused by the same people who brought on the black plague in the middle ages? Has Bibi spurred the spread of breast cancer? Is this a further extension of Israeli occupation? By contrast, there is no photograph of a partially exposed penis accompanying the story on page 4 of the NYT of Nov 28th concerning the rapid rise of unprotected sex among gay American men. The Times tiptoes through the statistics saying only that the rate of unprotected sex had risen 20% from 2005 - 2011 and that infection rates are highest among young black gay men. Here are some of the statistics that the Times didn’t include in this delicate treatment of a disturbing subject.
Bruce Dern’s default countenance is that of a dour man. In “Nebraska,” he plays the part of an exceedingly dour man - one who is also bitter, withdrawn, resigned, stubborn, taciturn, partially demented, alcoholic and very difficult. The plot of the movie hinges on Woody Grant’s determination to get to Lincoln, Nebraska in order to cash in on a Publisher’s Weekly type flyer promising that he could be a winner of one million dollars - the last opportunity in his collapsed life to regain some pride in himself and some measure of autonomy. Though we can believe that this character might set his clouded mind to undertake this fool’s journey from Montana to Nebraska, it’s harder to believe that his younger son, David, would decide to drive him there. There has been virtually no relationship between Woody and his sons throughout their lives and we discover, as David does, that before he was born, his father was involved with another woman and contemplating divorce from his wife. Yet, despite a serious accident and other difficulties that his father gets into en route, David is determined to keep going in order to satisfy the old man’s demands.
New Yorkers have prided themselves on cleaning up Times Square, routing out the sleazy movie theaters and massage parlors, creating pedestrian streets and bringing more family-friendly theaters and events to the neighborhood. A Madame Tussaud wax museum, a humongous toy store, various traveling exhibitions including King Tut and Lego constructions have all inhabited the area, encouraging parents to bring children to that part of the city. So it was with a great deal of surprise that I observed the topless women on Broadway and 44th street smiling cheerfully as people photographed them and stared at their body-painted torsos. One was a well-proportioned young woman standing in the pedestrian designated street nonchalantly handing out fliers for some event. The other was a middle-aged woman - topless and strumming a guitar on the sidewalk. Passers-by, including children and tourists couldn’t stop gawking at the unexpected nudity on a late September day.
At the risk of being a critical minority of one, I have to point out that “Blue Jasmine” is a movie in which we are asked to take seriously and empathize with characters who are mostly cardboard paste-ups. Ginger, the sister of Cate Blanchett’s Jasmine, is a divorced mother who works as a bagger in a San Francisco supermarket yet lives in a 3 bedroom apartment filled with furniture and tchotchkes. Lest you think that she is being supported by her ex-husband, we learn that he has lost all his money and is planning on going to Alaska to work on the pipeline. Ginger, played by Sally Hawkins, is a blue collar creation who looks like she wandered in from Fred and Ethel Mertz’s apartment yet somehow grew up in the same household as the super-svelte, formerly nouveau riche Jasmine who almost became an anthropologist. One can envision Carol Burnett and Vicky Lawrence pulling this off as brilliant parody many moons ago but “Blue Jasmine” has pretensions to serious drama, evoking the ghost of Blanche DuBois along with all the trappings of “A Streetcar Named Desire” - the feral sexuality and boisterous alcoholism of Ginger’s Kowalski-esque boyfriend, the gentleman caller, Jasmine’s precipitous fall from grace and resultant breakdown, the bluesy soundtrack, the mixed bag of pretension and pipe-dreams that are meant to turn dross into something vaguely more meaningful.
In the new Danish film “The Hunt,” Mads Mikkelsen plays a kindergarten teacher named Lucas who is wrongfully accused of sexually abusing the students. What begins as an offhand comment by Klara, a little girl whose feelings are hurt by his perceived rejection of her affection, soon escalates into the proverbial witch hunt, made worse by the fact that the people in charge believe that they are doing what is necessary to protect the children - always remember what paves the road to hell…. Despite the numerous times when viewers are hard pressed to understand why Lucas, a demonstrably sensitive man, can’t instantly guess which child made the accusation and why, the charges take on a life of their own, gaining in intensity that we are forced to accept as a given. Lucas’ life takes a nightmarish turn as he is dismissed from his job, alienated by his colleagues and most of his friends and considered a degenerate pariah by the entire community. His personal life is thrown into turmoil as his teenage son leaves the mother who is divorced from Lucas and comes to live with him , attempting to defend him and putting himself in harm’s way in so doing. Eventually, Lucas descends into a personal breakdown, confronting the father of the young accuser in church on Christmas eve. This symbolically crucified man does not turn the other cheek.
For more than half its running time, “The Attack” is an absorbing film about an outstanding, prize-winning Palestinian surgeon working in Israel and clearly meant to represent the hope of moderate Jews and Arabs living together peacefully and productively. We see Amin’s competence under the intense pressure of saving victims of a recent suicide bomber attack; we see his friendship and ease with his Israeli colleagues; we see his solicitude for a family member to whom he extends his open hospitality. And mainly, we see in flashback, his loving relationship with his graceful and sensual Palestinian wife who is Christian and who is suspected of being the bomber.
Something must happen to sound judgment at high altitudes. In Colorado, the state’s civil rights division has ruled that a six year old boy who dresses as a girl must be allowed to use the girl’s bathroom The state ruled that “compartmentalizing a child as a boy or a girl based solely on their visible anatomy, is a simplistic approach to a difficult and complex issue.” This is an interesting conclusion which can be rephrased as stating that a six year old’s personal evaluation of his own gender and sex is more accurate than the biological evidence of same. Even more to the point, it implies that the willingness of parents to give in to the demands or supplications of a very young child, or for them to shape those demands willfully or unconsciously, must be valued above biological facts. In the photograph accompanying the news story in the NYTimes of Jan 24th, the mother is wearing pants that are several inches longer than her legs. Perhaps her own dysmorphic disorder has her believing that she is six feet tall and needs to dress accordingly; is this someone whose judgment about how to dress her own son should be automatically trusted?
So the state has imposed a new evaluation system for NYC teachers in which 20% will depend on their students’ test scores. If a teacher happens to work in a marginal neighborhood where students start school already years behind in their vocabulary, their grasp of basic concepts, their attention levels, their ability to sit still and follow instructions - the teacher will be held responsible as soon as these same children start being tested and fail to produce adequate results. Our politically correct society refuses to place the blame for school failure where it most squarely belongs - in homes lacking a father, lacking parental attention to children’s needs, lacking economic security, structure, consistency, monogamy, lacking the maturity and responsibility that are the sine qua non for parenthood. Blaming the teacher for a student body coming from homes that are damaged and deficient is just blaming the messenger for bad news.
If you’re a movie buff of a certain age, you’ll remember a film called The Mouse That Roared, in which a tiny, debt-ridden country declares war against the United States in order to gain all the benefits that would be showered their way as the losers. It was a sharp little satire that unfortunately persists in ringing true to this day. It comes to mind not only with respect to foreign policy, but also with how we deal with criminals and terrorists. In today’s paper we learned that the state of New Jersey continued to pay 23 million dollars of entitlements and benefits to incarcerated people who were not entitled to any of it while in jail. This should aptly be considered “criminal negligence” and heads should roll all the way to the diminishing hulk of the governor. More disturbing in today’s news is the ongoing saga of Nidal Hasan, the Muslim army psychiatrist who shot 45 people at Fort Hood in 2009, killing 12 and severely injuring the rest. It is four years later and though Hasan is incarcerated, he has still not been tried for this heinous act of terrorism. During the past years of legal stalling, he has collected $280,000 of salary, because according to our American system of justice and the vagaries of military protocol, he is entitled to his money until proven guilty. No matter that there is no disputing who pulled the trigger each time during his rampage - the only thing to be determined at trial is what degree of murder this fits and what the appropriate sentence will be. If common sense prevailed, would a terrorist still get paid?
I’ve been wondering what makes some disorders sexy and worth confessing while other remain embarrassing and permanently in the closet. It’s ok to be bulimic, for example, even though that conjures up horrible images and smells but you won’t hear Christine Quinn come out about her hemorrhoids or bunions. All sorts of addictions are “in” - drugs, alcohol, sex, compulsive shopping - even shoplifting, but ulcers, diabetes, psoriasis, emphysema, gum disease, irritable bowel syndrome - you can’t find any public figure admitting to one of those.
In January of 2011, Delta Airlines announced its support of Saudi Arabian Airline’s application to join its Sky Team global airline alliance. Delta’s vice-president had this to say: “We are honored that Saudi Arabian (airline) has chosen to link its future growth and success with Delta and our SkyTeam partners.” We should remember that word “honored” in light of Delta enforcing the rules that pertain to the Saudi Airline and Kingdom: No Jew can enter Saudi Arabia. This means that no Jew can board a plane on American soil headed for Saudi Arabia. Let’s be more specific: no American Jew can board an American Delta plane on American soil that is jointly operated by Saudi Air. When pressed on this disgraceful practice, Delta blames it on the Saudis, saying that they (Delta) are merely following the dictates of the country of destination. We should keep in mind that Delta voluntarily entered into this partnership with eyes wide open regarding Saudi policies and mouths watering for the increased income that 35 additional Middle Eastern destinations would provide.
So the Tsarnaeva bombers’ mother had shoplifted $1600 worth of clothing from Lord & Taylor a year before her “alienated” sons decided to integrate into American society by maiming and killing as many innocent people as their nail-studded bombs could reach. Fleeing to Russia rather than face a penalty for her crime, the head-scarved matriarch now denies that her boys did anything wrong and wails about coming to America to begin with. Zubeidat wonders what she was seeking here - protection for her boys and obviously some capitalist clothing - a la Ninotchka with her silk stockings. Not for her the sturdy burlaps of Dagestan or the coarse wools of Chechnya - the lady yearned for the frivolous fare of America’s designer shops and off she went to steal some - Allah be praised.
Germain, a disaffected French teacher, exasperated by his dull students who not only can’t write but seemingly can’t experience anything loftier in their spare time than pizza and t.v. discovers a genuinely talented and sensitive young man in his class. Claude submits a story about his gaining entry to the home of his classmate and friend Rapha who has everything that Claude lacks - a two-parent family, a lovely house and a sensual mother who becomes the lure that beckons Claude to keep coming back and continue his serial tale. Germain shares each episode with his wife, a frustrated gallerista who also becomes intrigued by the inherent voyeurism and sexuality of the boy’s story. This leads to numerous complications as Claude becomes more daring and aggressive in his desire to insinuate himself into the lives of his chosen prey. With each submitted chapter, Germain similarly becomes more addicted to the tale and more reckless in his desire to please the student who has threatened to stop writing.
In Thomas Friedman’s op ed on the Boston marathon massacre (Bring On the Next Marathon, NYT 4/17), the boldface caption insists “We’re just not afraid anymore.” Perhaps this is true for a traveling journalist who doesn’t use the subway daily or who isn’t forced to spend all his days in the 9/11 city of New York, but for most thinking people who work and live here, there is a great deal to fear. We live in a porous society where criminals roam free yet politicians complain about the “discriminatory” stop and frisk policies of the police, even though they have successfully reduced crime precisely in the neighborhoods that most affect the complaining minorities and their liberal champions. If you ride the subways, you know how many passengers wear enormous back-packs, large enough to conceal an arsenal of weapons. These are allowed to be carried into movie theaters, playgrounds, parks, sports arenas, shopping centers, department stores and restaurants with no security checks whatsoever. On the national front, immigration policies are more concerned with politically correct equality than with the reality of which groups are fomenting most of the terror around the world today. Our northern and southern borders are infiltrated daily by undocumented people slipping in beyond the government’s surveillance or control.
There was a time, before the sixties, when the function of a university was to act in loco parentis, offering guidance, direction and discipline to students seeking to benefit from older, wiser minds. After that decade’s watershed capitulation of authority by administrators and faculty empowered to know better, nothing has been quite the same. The latest kerfuffle to illustrate this abandonment of reason is the one currently unfolding at Cardozo Law School. The editors of the Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution have chosen Jimmy Carter as the recipient of their International Advocate of Peace Award. This has angered many people, especially alumni, since Cardozo is a part of Yeshiva University, a school singularly dedicated to the support and well-being of Israel. Jimmy Carter, a long-time beneficiary of Saudi Arabia’s payroll, has been unsurprisingly and selectively critical of Israel, characterizing its policies towards Palestinians as apartheid.
There are two big problems with Robert Redford’s new film about the 60’s Weathermen who became fugitives from justice. The first is the casting of himself as someone just three decades removed from that period of time; sadly, Redford has aged quickly and badly and looks every minute of his actual late 70’s which would have made him a student activist in his mid 40’s. Even Brendan Gleeson, never a matinee idol, would have been a more logical choice for the main character of Nick Sloan, a man with an assumed identity, a career as a lawyer in Albany and a pressing responsibility as a recent widower who is now the sole parent of an 11 year old daughter. Since there are far too many close-ups of the strawberry-blonde septuagenarian, we can’t escape the essential hole in the story - how to believe that grandpa was just a young idealist (or radical ideologue) only thirty years before.
The Museum of Modern Art has had many dalliances with art projects whose suitability for inclusion in a world-class museum should be questioned and criticized. But surely one of the strangest and most ironic must be their shameful decision to hang the Warhol portraits of Chairman Mao in their sleek, well-stocked second floor cafeteria. They might consider hanging Marie Antoinette’s portrait alongside, though her probably apocraphyl “let them eat cake” pales in comparison to this quotation by Mao: ”When there is not enough to eat, people starve to death. It is better to let half the people die so that the other half can eat their fill.” The engineered famine in Mao’s China lasted from 1958-1962, during which time an estimated 45 million people died of starvation,exposure to the elements and torture. You know which half of the people portly Mao fell into, unquestionably showing that he ate more than his fill of his favorite dish, hong shao rou, cubes of pork belly (from specially bred pigs) glazed with caramelized sugar and rice wine. Diners in the cafeteria can enjoy the colorful multiples of Mao while consuming upscale designer food - now knowing how many Chinese people were murdered - starved for want of a morsel.
I wonder how many charitable Jewish alumni and parents of current students know that Columbia, Barnard and NYU are hosting presentations for Israeli Apartheid Week, commencing March 11th. At Columbia/ Barnard, the topic is “Colonialism from the US to Palestine,” an interesting choice considering the recent expose of Islamist enforced slavery in Mauritania, not to mention the wholesale rape and murder of Black populations in Mali, Sudan, Somalia and other parts of Africa. At NYU, the topic is “Israel’s Deepening Apartheid,” another odd conclusion given that a million Arabs are citizens of Israel while Arabs object to any Jews living on or near territory that might eventually be turned over to them. Hamas even went so far as to destroy the intact, money-making greenhouses built by Israelis and left behind for Arabs to continue working when Israel voluntarily left Gaza. It must have been a fear of contamination similar to Wagner’s donning white gloves before conducting a piece of music by Mendelssohn.
In the last century, Senator Pat Moynihan coined a term for the creeping erosion of our standards and values - he called it defining deviancy down, and it referred to our escalating acceptance of abnormal behavior in mainstream society. One of the handmaidens of this worsening tendency is the media which exposes us to a barrage of borderline perversity as if that were just another lifestyle or artistic choice. An example is the front page article in the Style section of the NYTimes (2/28) titled, “A Hush-Hush Topic No More.” The accompanying photograph is of two people in what appears to be a cage: the seated woman sports a prim hairdo, blouse and jacket, her bare legs in shiny patent leather pumps rest on an ottoman while before her, an unclothed man lies bent over, head at her feet, in a submissive pose. The article details the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey, a documentary called Kink, a student group devoted to kinky predilections at Harvard called The Harvard Munch Club, and The Sexual Freedom Legal Defense & Education Fund (surprisingly not acronym friendly) which seeks to pressure the American Psychiatric Association to depathologize certain sexual practices so that people who enjoy them don’t face discrimination. One can only wonder what questions would come up in a job interview or a real estate purchase that would result in such discrimination, but the truth is that the organization is seeking something else and that is normalization.
Last November, I wrote a piece concerning The Other Israel Film Festival at the JCC on the upper west side. Ironically, no Arabs would get to enjoy the Israeli filmmakers’ critical representations of their country’s politics and attitudes because Arabs exercise a wholesale boycott of all things Israeli. Now two Israeli films are nominated for Oscars in the category of documentary film; as usual, both find fault with their country’s leadership and policies. One of them, 5 Broken Cameras, is a collaborative effort between an Israeli and a Palestinian on the subject of the treacherous occupation in the Palestinian’s village. The Palestinian expressed regret that he would never get to screen this film in his own village or any other Arab country because there was an Israeli name attached to it. There are no comparable films being made by Palestinians or other Arabs concerning their violence towards Israel or the corruption, misogyny and indifference of their own leadership towards their populations’ poverty and plight. There are few films being made by Israelis or anyone else concerning Muslim anti-semitism and the indoctrination of their children with this poisonous legacy; they don’t get screened at Film Festivals, art theaters or other major venues such as HBO and PBS.
I admit that I was taken aback when the young prime channel weatherman, showing pictures of animals frolicking in the snow on Sunday, laughingly interjected that he tried to take his cat out to play but his husband wouldn’t let him. Just like that - a throwaway remark brought home how enormous the change in our acceptance of gay lifestyle has become - it’s less the legality of gay marriage than the freedom to proclaim it unexpectedly in a very public workplace , in a completely random context. Later that morning, in reading the Sunday Times, I came across two more references by men to their husbands: one was in the Advice Column and was irrelevant to the subject of the letter, as was the second in a column by the noted writer Andrew Solomon. In other words, nobody was campaigning for gay rights - these were simply gay men talking about other things and by the way, referencing their spouses. The very casual use of this familiar term, “my husband,” had a greater impact on me than all the debates I’ve seen and heard and all the admonitions concerning civil rights. It signaled the type of comfort people feel when they’re not concealing secrets and therefore, aren’t worried about revealing them.
The newest Jewish commemorative institution scheduled to open in Europe this year is The Museum of the History of Polish Jews, built on the site of the Warsaw Ghetto According to Barbara Kirshenblatt Gimblett, the director of its Core Exhibition, the museum will honor the memory of those killed during the holocaust and other pogroms by remembering how Jews lived in Poland for 1,000 years. The governments of Warsaw and Poland have contributed much of the funding for this venture but Jewish philanthropists have given many millions of dollars to this 200 million dollar project and luminaries such as Elie Wiesel have affirmed its importance as an exposition of the full and varied lives lived by Polish Jews throughout the centuries.
In an interview with Joshua Oppenheimer in this week’s Forward (Filming the Killing Fields), reporter Sheerly Avni asks why the director chose to focus on the killers instead of the victims in his new film, “Act of Killing,” about the massacres in Indonesia in 1965:
Mayor Bloomberg’s private residence is protected 24/7 by an armed policeman who stands guard outside. The White House, Congress and most other government buildings are protected by armed guards or policemen and somehow no one worries about how these people are vetted or whether there’s increased danger by putting weapons in their hands. Why then does the same suggestion to protect schoolchildren in this way provoke such controversy? No one says that this should be the only security improvement considered in our efforts to prevent or control mass murder, but clearly politicians consider it a good deterrent when it comes to their own safety. Until we come up with a way to profile potential killers, this seems the most logical system to implement immediately. And, since most young children look up to men in uniform, this would certainly be a calming and reassuring presence, especially for those who have already witnessed or survived extreme danger.
The much lauded Amour, Michael Haneke’s latest film which explores the relationship between two octogenarian, long-married piano teachers, is a movie that deals with end of life and its humiliations, sufferings and ultimate loving dedication. Though it might seem impossible to find fault with depicting an adult topic of such sensitivity, there is a streak of self-righteousness running through this movie that thwarts its ultimate purpose.
Here are some words for the media to avoid in discussing unexpected death by violence, particularly mass murder: healing, closure and moving on. Whether these have been supplied by pop psychology, grief counselors or other types of do-gooders, they are insulting to the victims and their survivors and set up unrealistic, undesirable standards for the rest of us. Only one day after the Newtown massacre, newscasters, planted all over that devastated town, stood solemnly at attention with their ubiquitous microphones, talking about how the community was coming together to help each other move on. Within a few short days, the “c” word had surfaced and soon enough, the president of the United States flew in to personally console the grieving families - another media event. What happened in Newtown is profoundly tragic, made more so by the tender ages of these schoolchildren and by our lack of understanding of what caused it or how to prevent it from happening again. The appropriate response to such grief may be respectful silence at a time when no words can offer solace.
On its official website, The American Girl doll company prides itself on its line of historical characters whose biographies comprise a look at our country’s past, stressing significant aspects of our history in a way to engage young girls. It further describes its plant: “American Girl is headquartered in Middleton, Wisconsin, in two warehouse operations and distribution facilities totalling 560,000 square feet. With the thirteen American Girl retail stores and additional warehouse and distribution sites, the company’s facilities total 1.7 million square feet. Among the company’s various locations, over 2,000 women and men are currently employed full or part-time throughout the year, with the ranks swelling to more than 4,300 during the holiday season.” Don’t let all the numbers of square feet and employees veil what’s been omitted - despite its patriotic name, American Girl dolls are actually made in China.
While Major Nidal Hasan served as army psychiatrist at Fort Hood, he was a clean-shaven American Muslim. After he was imprisoned, awaiting trial for murdering 13 people and maiming 32 others for the glory of Allah, he decided to redouble his religious identification by growing a thick beard and mustache Though army regulations specifically prohibit soldiers from wearing beards, Major Hasan and his lawyers argued that this was a matter of religious liberty and the alleged killer appeared in court defiantly hirsute, looking as sinister as Rasputin. The presiding judge claimed that this was disruptive, fined him and had him forcibly removed from the courtroom. The judge also mistakenly accused the accused of spreading feces in a restroom (it turned out to be mud tracked in by a guard’s boot), ordered him shaved and then refused to recuse himself as defense lawyers had requested. This was appealed and the accused has scored his second victory, thumbing his mustached nose at the American army and the American people. The appeals court, composed of civilian judges, never ruled on whether ordering Hasan to be shaved violated his religious rights, hiding behind the claim that grooming issues were the purview of military commanders, not military judges. Instead, they agreed that the judge was biased against the defendant and ordered him removed from the case.
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.