Just Because Music : Joan Crawford singing “Gotta A Feelin’ For You” in 1929

Watching this, it’s fascinating to remember that, thanks to such movies as Our Dancing Daughters, which had come out one year earlier, many believed Joan Crawford to personify the modern Flapper. It took some years before Crawford transformed herself into the powerful, almost iconic, line of female characters that shaped her legacy.

Movie Review: Cinderella

cinderella-2015-poster-prince-james-maddenA word of advice if you go to see Disney’s new, live-action Cinderella: Don’t take a cynic with you. Cynics will not appreciate this sugary, beautiful confection. To them, it’s an offense at every level.

You’ll note that I said “sugary,” rather than the more dismissive “saccharine.” Something that’s saccharine isn’t really sweet; it’s fake. Disney’s Cinderella is sweet through and through.

Kenneth Branagh directed the movie with a mid-19th century sincerity that is utterly alien to movies that are directed at today’s youth market. There was no snark, there was no sleaze, there was no vulgarity. It was innocent and sweet and flowery from top to bottom. The little girl in the row behind me, maybe ten years old, loved it. So did I. The teenaged cynic in the seat next to me sneered the whole way through.

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SPOILER ALERTS: House of Cards, Season 3, Episode 7 — after jumping the shark, show goes full anti-Israel

House of CardsHaving now watched episodes 6 and 7 in House of Cards, I’m done with the show. I’m freeing up several hours of my life to read books, write, visit with friends — indeed, do anything but watch something that’s turned into yet another boring, polemic, Leftist wish factory.

BEWARE — HERE BE SPOILERS. If you haven’t given up on House of Cards, don’t read past this paragraph. You’ll regret it if you do.

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House of Cards’ weird third season

House of CardsI don’t know how many of you have watched House of Cards with Kevin Spacey. I have been watching it since Netflix released the first season two years ago. Spacey plays Francis Underwood, a manipulative Democrat politician who uses chicanery and much worse to make his way through Washington, D.C.

The show’s been fun to watch because Spacey is wonderful. He affects a broad Southern accent, speaks in a rich deep voice and, in a riot of cheerful overacting, chews up the scenery as his character uses a potent combination of pure malevolence and utter charm to manipulate people to achieve his invariably nefarious goals. At his side, like a sane and sensible Lady Macbeth is Robin Wright, playing his equally vicious and manipulative wife. They are two happily married, evil, dishonest peas in a pod. In the first two seasons, that made for very good TV.

This season, which Netflix released last Friday, is different, though. I’m not going to give away any spoilers when I say that, after having watched 5 episodes in the new season, it seems to me that the writers have changed Underwood substantially. He’s no longer focusing on clawing his way up, and doing whatever is necessary to create the bodies he climbs over. Instead, having already succeeded in that climb, instead of being in control, he’s a victim of circumstances and of people even more powerful and manipulative than he is. Frank Underwood’s less charming when he’s the underdog.

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[VIDEO] Lady Gaga turns in an incredible performance at the Oscars *UPDATED*

Years ago, Don Quixote told me that Lady Gaga is a genuinely talented performer.  I protested, saying she’s just an auto-tuned exhibitionist.  Tonight, at the Academy Awards, it turned out that, as is often the case, Don Quixote was right.  Tonight, Lady Gaga did a staggeringly good Sound of Music tribute.  It was the kind of thing that makes you entirely rethink a performer — and hope that she’s turning over a new leaf. I’ll update this post with a better quality video when I can, but this will do until then:

UPDATED: I substituted in a functioning, high-quality video.

Run, don’t walk, to see American Sniper

308555id1i_TheJudge_FinalRated_27x40_1Sheet.inddUnusually for me, I saw a first-run movie tonight. It was, as you’ve already realized, American Sniper. Also unusually, the Century Cinema, which is Marin’s premiere movie theater, with a big screen and a George Lucas-installed sound system, had an almost completely packed house on the second weekend of a January movie. One expects packed houses for the first week or two of a Star Wars or Harry Potter franchise movie during the summer, but it just never happens for any other type of movie, especially in January. Never. And for the first time in my admittedly experience seeing a movie in Marin, about half the theater broke into applause when the movie ended. Marin’s conservatives are creeping out from undercover to see this one.

Not being a professional movie reviewer, I’m not quite sure where to begin with this one. You already know the story: Texas good ol’ boy Chris Kyle leaves the rodeo circuit, joins the Navy, becomes a SEAL, and heads off to Iraq, where he becomes a legend as the most successful sniper in American military history. After four tours of duty, he returns home and begins helping vets who suffered physical or emotional injuries during the war (or, of course, both). One of those vets, a Marine, murders both him and a neighbor, Chad Littlefield. Throughout it all, Kyle and his wife love and fight and love some more, and have two children who make both of them proud. It’s a simple story, really.

When Chris Kyle died, America mourned.  His funeral cortege and memorial service drew thousands of people, although his former Commander-in-Chief (and still current Commander-in-Chief of the American military) was never heard to mention Kyle’s name. I guess Kyle just didn’t look enough like the son Obama never had — although it seems that Hugo Chavez, Whitney Houston, Robin Williams, Trayvon Martin, and Michael Brown did look like that son, at least if one is to judge by the encomiums Obama poured upon them and the representatives he sent to the hoodlums’, er sons’ funerals.

Unlike me, Clint Eastwood’s film is carefully apolitical. It keeps a very tight focus on one man and the people around him. Just as they were in Kyle’s autobiography, his family by blood and marriage vie for first place in his heart with his SEAL family. Kyle is enormously patriotic. He’s repulsed by the sadism and immorality he sees amongst the Iraqis he fights. He lives to protect his fellow servicemen. And he has troubles transitioning rapidly between war in Iraq and peace at home.

In this regard — the profound disconnect between wartime on Monday and peace on Tuesday — Kyle’s situation reminded me strongly of British WWI fighters who also made almost painfully rapid transitions between home and war. Just as Kyle talks on the phone with his wife while sniping on a rooftop, British troops sometimes received by the afternoon post the mail their loved ones had sent that morning. (For other interesting similarities and differences between the British experience in WWI and the American experience in Iraq, I recommend this book.

To the extent I notice a director’s touch, Eastwood’s was deft and sure.  Those two simple words count as high praise from me. I usually notice the director’s role in a movie when I hate the movie because of the director’s bizarre, irritating, or offensive decisions. Eastwood makes none of those mistakes. His style is smooth, professional and, when it comes to the fighting scenes, incredibly dynamic, while still being coherent enough to keep the audience engaged.

What really makes the movie, though, is Bradley Cooper’s incredible acting. “Acting” actually seems like the wrong word. Cooper doesn’t “act” Chris Kyle; he “is” Chris Kyle. Admittedly, I’ve never met Chris Kyle, so I’m taking a leap of faith by saying what I did. What I really mean is that Cooper inhabits his character’s skin so seamlessly that there is never, ever a sense that Cooper is acting at all. This is a fully realized character. One has no sense of the actor named Bradley Cooper positioning himself on the set and then, when he hears the word “action!” going through the motions of the character named Chris Kyle. There is no actor named Bradley Cooper.  There is just Chris Kyle.

One of the things that makes it clear just how extraordinarily Cooper fills the role is to watch the other actors. They’re all good . . . but you can see them acting. I have a vague memory of having seen Cooper in some other roles and not noticing him. He apparently was waiting for this role.

All in all, American Sniper is a movie that deserves its accolades and blockbuster revenue. Chris Kyle was one of those great, salt-if-the-earth Americans who emerges in times of war — not a man who loves killing for killing’s sake, which would make him no better than the enemy, but a true sheepdog who is willing to get dirty in the fight to protect his flock.  Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper, and the rest of the American Sniper paid Kyle his due by creating this great movie.

Movie Review: “Boyhood” — a celebration of depressive dysfunction in a clever package

Boyhood movieBoyhood, which opened in July 2014 and is currently slated as one of the top contenders for Best Picture, has earned that rarest of rare accolades:  a 100% score on Metacritic.  Critics just love the movie.

The most obvious thing they love about the movie is the movie’s gimmick, which is actually quite clever.  The movie was filmed over the course of 12 years, with the same actors gathering together for a few days each year to shoot that year’s scenes.  It’s seamlessly edited, so you see the children grow up and the parents grow old.  In that way, it’s like watching a very well-produced montage of home movies.  Small wonder that probably 75% of each of the reviews I read centers on this clever technique.

Gimmicks alone, however, are not enough to sustain a 100% score created by looking at 49 different critic reviews.  The critics also really like the movie’s story arc and character development.  [If you're planning on seeing the movie, you might want to stop right about now, because I'm going to go into SPOILER territory.]

Giving you time to think about whether you want to continue. . . .

Tick. . . .

A little more thinking time. . . .

Tock. . . .

Okay, last chance.  After this sentence, a review filled with SPOILERS is about to begin. . . .

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“American Sniper” — a Rorschach test separating the wheat from the chaff

308555id1i_TheJudge_FinalRated_27x40_1Sheet.inddI haven’t yet seen the movie American Sniper, but I have read Chris Kyle’s autobiography, on which it is based. I therefore believe that I am qualified to write on the topic.

Although, come to think of it, I’m not really going to write about American Sniper at all. Instead, I’m going to write about some of the reactions to American Sniper, which function as a Rorschach test of American (and, dare I say, un-American?) values.

I have to begin with the fundamental premise, one that drives the Left nuts, which is that Clint Eastwood, with help from a superb Bradley Cooper, has directed an incredibly good movie, one that doesn’t shy away from war’s ugliness, but that acknowledges, not just the physical bravery of our men, but also their moral decency.  As I try endlessly to explain to anybody who can listen, both good guys and bad guys kill. After all, no one will deny that a woman has acted bravely and honorably if she shoots to death the man trying to kill her child. Likewise, only sadistic psychopaths will applaud the broken bodies of Christians, Jews, women, children, gays, blacks, and the “wrong” kind of Muslims that ISIS, Boko Haram, al Qaeda, and other Islamic Jihad organizations leave in their wake.

Let me fall back here on my already wordy poster, one that’s targeted at the buffoonish Seth Rogen, but that addresses the larger issue, which is that why one kills matters as much as the fact that one does kill:

Seth Rogen and history 1

(I also won’t waste time in this post correcting the innumerable personal slurs the Left is now hurling at Chris Kyle, most of which are based upon a failure either to see the movie or read the book. Ian Tuttle, thankfully, takes care of setting that record straight.)

Mentioning Seth Rogen, though, leads me nicely back to the point I want to make in this post, which is an observation I first made to my friends on the Watcher’s Council: namely, that American Sniper has been remarkably effective at flushing weasels out from under cover, proving that good art frequently has multiple virtues.  For example, one of my neighbors, a nice, but rather brittle, angry woman, whose life has not treated her with the generosity she was raised to expect, posted the following image on Facebook:

Stupid Leftists don't understand heroes

Doesn’t that ugly, mean-spirited poster sum up just about everything that’s wrong with the Leftist view of the world? The wrongness of it all begins with the terrible slur against Kyle and all the other American troops who have fought against the same type of men who are now crucifying, raping, beheading, and generally rampaging their way across the Middle East, with occasional detours into Europe.  I know those men.  My Dad was one.

Really, there’s no sugar-coating it.  For five years of his life, my Dad was a hate-filled killer.  He poured  his energy, brains, skill, and courage into slaughtering as many people as he possibly could.  If he could have killed more, he would have.

In case you’re wondering, Daddy wasn’t Dexter or Charles Manson or Stalin.  Instead, he was an ordinary foot soldier in WWII, fighting with the RAF and ANZAC in the Mediterranean theater.

During all those years of fighting, mostly in North Africa with detours into Greece and Crete, Daddy wasn’t glorying in slaughter for the thrill of it.  He didn’t kill to slake blood lust or because he was a racist.  In fact, quite the opposite.  He was killing because he understood the stakes, which was to stop the spread of genocidal racism:  If he didn’t do his bit to halt the Nazis in North Africa, those same Nazis would descend on Palestine, and with the help of the enthusiastic ancestors of today’s ISIS, have slaughtered where they stood every Jewish man, woman, and child in the British Mandate of Palestine.

Chris Kyle and his comrades, as Kyle made clear in his book, didn’t kill Iraqis because they took a sadistic glee in a human turkey shoot.  They killed specific Iraqis who were bound and determined to kill the Americans (which is ground enough to want to kill the Iraqis first) and, moreover, who were equally bound and determined to put into place precisely the ideological governance we now see in the Middle East with ISIS and in Nigeria with Boko Haram.

Ultimately, Kyle and his comrades were killing humans fatally infected with a deadly ideological disease.  These men understood (and, wherever they still fight, understand) that people infected with genocidal, imperialist, tyrannical values need to be exterminated just as surely as we kill a rabid dog or, 70 years ago, as we killed rabid Nazis.  Unfortunately, the reality of war is that, when we kill the guilty, we sometimes kill the innocent.  My Dad knew that, amongst the Nazis he was fighting were ordinary Germans who were forced by circumstances to fight for those same rabid Nazis.

Knowing that didn’t stop Daddy, or any of the other Allied troops.  They understood that this is how the world works.  (For more of my thoughts on that specific topic, you can check out my annual Passover post.)  As Daddy once said, you cannot fight a war if you don’t hate your enemy — by which he meant if you don’t hate the values your enemy seeks to advance.

So, clearly, one level of Leftist stupidity is its members’ complete inability to understand that soldiers can hate the ideology without doing the Leftist thing and turning everything into some agonized Greek tragedy about racism, sexism, homophobia, and third world victimization.  Smart people are able to winnow out good from bad, and they know in which directions to aim their guns.

But there’s a second level of stupidity at work in that ugly, mean-spirited poster, and that’s the stupidity that is unable to comprehend that, without the sheepdogs, the sheep aren’t able to go around sweetly and smugly ministering to the less fortunate among them.  Please believe me that I don’t intend to be snide about charity.  I think charity is a wonderful thing, provided that it’s not forced upon people through government coercion.  It’s one thing for me, while exercising my values, to donate my time, money, and labor to aid those less fortunate than I.  It’s another thing entirely when the government, with a gun aimed at my head, announces that I’ve volunteered to donate 50% of my annual income to help those that the government deems should be recipients of government beneficence.

Putting aside my irritation at a government that denies me the opportunity to redistribute my own wealth, let me get to the real issue and the real stupidity behind that poster:  There is no charity when there is no civil society.  Charity works when society is sufficiently stable, free, and predictable that people can actually earn and keep money — and then give it away if they want to.  A strong, infrastructure underlying a free, market-based society creates both extra time and extra wealth, not to mention a capacity for empathy that is utterly lacking when people are suffering under either complete anarchy or sadistic, malevolent totalitarian rule.

You, my dear, smug Leftists, are able to boast in self-aggrandizing tones about your ability to shake down hard-working citizens only because men like Chris Kyle are willing to do the dirty work of keeping both tyrants and anarchy at bay.  You’re like the person who dines in style on the steak, but sneeringly describes as a hillbilly the rancher who raised that cow and as a murderer the butcher who got that lovely filet mignon to your table.

Great art not only opens our minds, but it enable us to see with clarity those minds that cannot and will not open.  People who value freedom understand that there’s a price to pay for freedom’s blessings and we are appropriately and eternally grateful to those who are willing to do the dirty work that goes with paying that price.

Radical, jihadist, fundamentalist Islam (or whatever other nouns and adjectives you wish to apply to the 10% of the world’s Muslims who seek only to destroy) must be destroyed, lest we are all destroyed.  My problem is that I’m a tiny middle-aged Jewish woman, who is a great target, but a lousy fighter.  I live because Chris Kyle, and the SEALS, and the Marines, and the Navy, and the Army, and the Air Force put themselves in front of me, as a living barrier protecting me from the abyss.

I pity those people who don’t appreciate the gift they’ve been given, and do nothing more than set themselves up as the socialist twins to those murderous Islamists that the Kyle’s of this world fight.  Because, really, once you strip away those smug words about the personal virtues of government funded charity, you discover that the Left and the Islamists are pretty much the same people.  It’s just that the Islamists have gone further down the path necessary to achieve their ultimate ends:

Radical Islamists and Leftists have identical beliefs

The Bookworm Beat 12/24/14 — A few quick links for Christmas Eve

Woman writingThese links aren’t related to Christmas Eve. They are simply interesting things that came my way today, as I was getting my family ready for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. (To those new to the blog, although I’m Jewish, I was raised celebrating both Christmas and Hanukkah in entirely secular ways. That means trees and menorahs, and gifts of course.)

Understanding what cops deal with and what they can do

Given that rioters ran riot again today, this time because a cop shot a teenager who can be seen on video pulling a gun on the cop, this seems like the perfect time to bring two things to your attention. The first is the best “what it’s like for the police” post I have seen since the whole Ferguson thing became a cause celebre for the Left. I posted it on my real-me Facebook page and I urge you to share it with your friends in whatever way you do share posts that are chock-full of accurate, relevant data relating to major events (and the race/Leftist riots rocking major urban areas in America are major events).

Once you’ve read that post (which is fascinating from first word to last), then check out the following Facebook post. Be sure to stick to the instructions and watch the video — one or two or more times, if necessary — before you read the post. After reading the post, watch the video again:

Distilling “political correctness” to its essence

Snoopy the Goon, my friend and fellow Watcher’s Council member who blogs at Simply Jews, has what may be the definitive post when it comes to defining “political correctness.” Even better, it has a perfect illustration at the end.

Will the Middle East end with an ISIS versus Israel stand-off

During my lunch yesterday with my wonderful, intelligent, and conservative friend (he’s the one who helped lead me across the Rubicon from Democrat to conservative), my friend said that ISIS is the future in the Middle East. Because ISIS has the passion, the oil money, and the brutality, all Arabs and Muslims in its path will either join up or be slaughtered. This is so because of two factors about Arab/Muslim fighters:  First, while they are vicious in pursuit, they are craven in retreat.  That means that they’re lousy defensive fighters.  When they lose, they are either slaughtered en masse by the even more violent victor or, because (as bin Laden knew) they are drawn to the strong horse, they desert their side in the fight and join the victorious army.

Indeed, even as we speak, it looks as if Israel will find itself facing off against ISIS very soon, since ISIS  is pressing it from both north and south. Nor should Israel expect much help from Saudi Arabia, at least according to my friend. He theorizes that, to the extent the Saudi decision to drop oil prices (an act aimed at American fracking) is devastating the Russian economy, Putin will retaliate by siccing Muslim extremists into the heart of Saudi Arabia.

I have no love for the Saudis, whose petrodollars are largely responsible for the radical Islamist rise around the world.  Nevertheless, to the extent the Saudis have suddenly realized that they created a monster, and are cautiously edging over to Israel’s side, I have this peculiar feeling I will regret it if Putin succeeds in destroying them from within.

My prayer for this holiday season, in addition to seeking victory and protection for all of the innocents in ISIS’s path — whether Christian or Muslim, old or young, male or female — is for Israel to have the wisdom, the strength, and the courage to see this thing through, and emerge unscathed and stronger than ever.

Israel’s long ties to the land continue to be revealed

One of the most pernicious lies to come out of the Muslim world, and it’s a lie that the Christian Left embraces fervently, is that Jews have no ties to the land, and that it’s Palestinians who are Jesus’s true people. That’s why I celebrate every time archaeologists discover yet another sign that Jews’ ties to the Holy Land run back longer and deeper than those of any other people in the world:

Archaeologist Limor Talmi was minutes away from wrapping up her excavation of an ancient garbage pit last Thursday, when a piece of 1,600-year-old glass was brought to her, bearing imprints of menorahs.

The timing was fortuitous, not only because she was readying to close up shop but because it was also the second day of Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday most closely associated with the seven-branched candelabra.

In the same vein, God bless David Bernstein for instantly ridiculing and destroying the suggestion that, if Joseph and Mary were alive now, they’d run afoul of Israeli checkpoints:

Seriously, this sort of historical revisionism, treating ancient Jewish Judeans as if they were Palestinian Arabs, and then analogizing modern Israel to the oppressors of Jesus and his family, a common trope in the UK, would be laughable if it were not so pernicious. Pernicious not simply because it’s a ridiculous distortion of history, and not simply because it’s often accompanied by a large dose of anti-Semitism, with Palestinians playing the role of Jesus and the Israelis being the foreign oppressors crucifying him. But pernicious because it goes to the true heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict–the failure of the Arab side to recognize that the “Zionists” are not the “European settler-colonialists” of Third Worldist imagination, but a people with a three thousand year plus tie to the Land of Israel, whose religion was born there, who ruled two separate kingdoms there, who have prayed toward Jerusalem for two thousand years in their ancient Hebrew language, and so on.

Sadly, the Left ignores the fact that the truth shall set you free — no doubt because, so far, lies have served them so well.

Was it really the Norks who went after Sony?

Sony has announced that it will screen The Interview online, so I’m not going to take any more pokes at it, at least not for now.  Indeed, it’s decision has led some at the conspiracy-oriented InfoWars website to wonder whether this whole thing wasn’t a marketing scam.

Others are wondering whether the Norks were involved at all. Marc Rogers, who describes himself as “the director of security operations for DEF CON, the world’s largest hacker conference, and the principal security researcher for the world’s leading mobile security company, Cloudflare,” has a different theory:

All the evidence leads me to believe that the great Sony Pictures hack of 2014 is far more likely to be the work of one disgruntled employee facing a pink slip.

Rogers provides a detailed analysis to support his thesis. Since I am currently less than enthralled by federal agencies, I think it’s entirely feasible that the FBI is wrong, wrong, wrong, and that Rogers is correct.

The history of Jews’ Christmas Day love affair with Chinese food

It’s a longstanding joke: on Christmas, Jews eat Chinese food. In an article originally published in The Atlantic, Adam Chandler says that this is no joke and explains how it came to be.

Apropos Chinese food, if you’re in San Francisco’s Chinatown, I have a Chinese restaurant to recommend. I have never recommended a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. In my experience as an SF native, the Chinese restaurants in Chinatown are always either (a) too geared to tourists; (b) too dirty, along with having horrible greasy, gristly food; or (c) too Hong Kong style, which means bland flavors and lots of offal. The other day, though, we ate at a wonderful Chinese restaurant called Hunan Homes. It’s one block from the affordable Portsmouth Square garage, which makes it relatively easy to get to. In addition, the restaurant is very clean, the service is excellent, and the food is affordable and delicious.

Cirque du Soleil plug

Since 1984, when it first burst on the international scene, I’ve seen every Cirque du Soleil  show except for “O” which was closed for repairs when I was in Vegas. For the last ten years, I’ve found the shows boring — muddled, contrived, and stale.

With Kurios, however, Cirque’s most recent show, Crique has redeemed itself. The show’s theme is Steampunk, which is a sort of futuristic Victorian theme. The costumes were gorgeous, the sets imaginative, the music charming, and the acts were simply wonderful. Our group, which ranged in age from teenagers to late middle age fogies, all enjoyed every minute.

Some of America’s ugliest antisemitism comes from young Hollywood Jews (language warning)

James Franco Comedy Central RoastI recently found myself watching 2013’s “Comedy Central Roast of James Franco.” It was a deeply disturbing experience.

The last time I watched a roast was sometime in the 1970s. My father loved those old Dean Martin celebrity roasts.  They were intended to be PG, which meant that the insults were pretty gentle and none were obscene. The celebrities were ribbed about such things as peculiar mannerisms, spending habits, silly clothes, and G-Rated womanizing.

Racism or crude sexual uniform were never part of these roasts.  Instead, the roasts relied on the same ecumenical comedy that characterized most of television from I Love Lucy through to the Archie Bunker sea-change in the early 1970s: the humor was intended to apply in some way to all Americans. Even ethnic humor — Jewish or African-American or Asian — was homogenized and made into universal truisms about human nature.

The James Franco roast was something altogether different. For one thing, it was incredibly obscene (which is pretty much to be expected of anything shown on premium cable channels). Practically every other word seemed to be an expletive related to scatology or sex. As for the sexual references, in the first 30 minutes (after which I felt so slimed I checked out), all were directed at Franco’s allegedly homosexual habits. (Film clips show Franco enthusiastically french-kissing men; Wikipedia indicates that his private life is heterosexual.) You can see examples here, here, here, and here.

To the extent that these comments about homosexuality were all meant to insult Franco, it surprised me a lot that the roast wasn’t roundly castigated as homophobic. It was after all the adult version of that middle school insult “You’re gay!” That statement, of course, is deemed “bullying” and “homophobic” and apt to get the youthful transgressor who hurled such an insult instantly incarcerated in the Dan Savage Re-education Academy.

Admittedly, this kind of crude sexual joking is a staple in films (leaving one to wonder why Leftists are always “shocked! shocked!” when it shows up in schools).  What isn’t a film staple, however, is the oozing, rank antisemitism the roasters displayed. It’s important to understand the context for these jokes: most of the people on the stage, and most (although not all) of the people making these antisemitic jokes, are Jewish. Franco himself is Jewish, but so are Sarah Silverman, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Andy Samberg, and Nick Kroll, among others.

Of course, Jews have always been famous for aiming jokes at themselves. Just as Yiddish is a language awash in unique words describing the human condition, so too are Jewish jokes heavy on describing the various types you’ll find in closely confined communities, whether in the shtetl or the ghetto.

A few things characterize the classic Jewish jokes. First, as originally told, they were by Jews, about Jews, and for Jews. Second, they have a gentle quality. They recognize the humanity of their subjects, even if the subject is the over-selling matchmaker, the con artist, or the loser. Third — and this flows directly from the humanity in the jokes — is that many of them have an underlying admiration for the man who can make money despite crippling prejudice; the matchmaker who never loses faith in the importance of the covenant between man and woman; the con man who lives on his wits, rather than being a crude, strong-arm crook; and the nebbish, who is, in so many ways, every man.

To illustrate my point, here are just a few jokes from that marvelous compendium, Leo Rosten’s The Joys of Yiddish:

The pedestrian said to the schnorrer (“an impudent indigent,” among other meanings): “Give you a nickel? Why? Why don’t you go to work? You’ve got the arms and legs of a horse!”

“Ha!” cried the schnorrer. “For one lousy nickel, am I supposed to cut off my limbs?”

***

A nebech (or nebbish, the everyman who makes his own misery) pulled into a parking place on a busy street in Tel Aviv. Along came a policeman.

“Is it all right to park here?” asked the nebech.

“No,” said the cop.

No? But look at all those other parked cars! How come?”

“They didn’t ask.”

***

And the nebech’s partner in crime, the shlemiel; or, as the saying goes, “A shlemiel is always knocking things off a table; the nebech always picks them up.”

A shlemiel came to his rabbi, distraught. “Rabbi, you’ve got to advise me. Every year my wife brings forth a baby. I have nine children already, and barely enough money to feed them — Rabbi, what can I do?”

The sage thought not a moment. “Do nothing.”

***

The shadchen (matchmaker) was impressing the young man with the boundless virtues of a female, and ended: “And to look at, she’s a regular picture.”

The young man could not wait for his blind date.

But when he accosted the shadchen the next day, his voice was frosty: “Her eyes are crossed, her nose is crooked, and when she smiles one side of her mouth goes down….”

“Just a minute,” interrupted the shadchen. “Is it my fault you don’t like Picasso?”

Those Jewish jokes — told by Jews and about Jews — are not vicious. They speak to universal archetypes, and they do so with fondness, even love. Contrast them with just a few of the jokes told at the James Franco roast, one that saw Hollywood Jews perform for all of America. I’ve copied these jokes verbatim from sites celebrating how “funny” they are, so my apologies for their awful language and crude antisemitism:

King of Hollywood: [about The Guilt Trip] Listen, if I wanted to watch two ugly Jews weaving through traffic, I’d watch Seinfeld’s web series.

***

Nick Kroll: Many of you might not know that Seth has a writing and directing partner named Evan Goldberg. What does this other guy look like that you’re the face of the operation? I assume he’s like a sweaty Orthodox Jew eating a pastrami sandwich, and he said [scrunching up his face and using a thick Yiddish accent] “I did nine dick jokes on page four, and I was thinking that the guys are friends, and then they’re not friends, and at the end of the movie, they’re friends again.”

***

Sarah Silverman: I can’t tell if this is the dais or the line to suck Judd Apatow’s balls. This dais is so Jewey. What is this, the Comedy Central audit of James Franco?

***

Sarah Silverman: Jonah is such a Jewy dick, you have to watch his movies through a hole in a sheet.

***

Nick Kroll: “James Franco is truly our generation’s James Dean. So handsome that you forget he’s only been in two good movies. Dean, of course, died at the tender age of 24 sparing himself the embarrassment of writing self-indulgent short stories and getting roasted by a bunch of jealous Jew monsters.

***

Nick Kroll: “Seth Rogen is so Jewish.”
Crowd: “How Jewish is he?”
Nick Kroll: “Seth Rogen is so f***ing Jewish… Anyway, it’s great to be here.”

These awful “jokes” are just the ones that internet publications deemed amongst the funniest things the assembled “comedians” said. There were more, and they were all in the same vein, saying horrible things about Jews. None of them gently laugh at the human condition. None offer insight into human foibles or human decency. All play into the most vile stereotypes about Jews: Jews are ugly, Jews sweat and stink, Jews are obsessed with sex, Jews are eaten by jealousy, and Jews are simply “f***ing.”

These jokes are a primer in self-loathing.  They perfectly reflect the Stockholm Syndrome that has overtaken America’s Progressives Jews.  These young Jews — who are amongst the most recognizable people in America, and have become power brokers in Hollywood — have internalized all of the worst stereotypes about Jews.  They believe this of themselves.

Moreover, as is often the case with people who perceive themselves as defective, they’re trying desperately to be the first to insult themselves, relieving the “normal” person with nothing left to say.  (Sarah Silverman’s stories of her horrific childhood bear out this theory about beating yourself first, before someone else does it.)

This technique is useful insofar as it means that you — the “defective” one — don’t have to hear someone else say something loathsome about you.  It fails utterly, however, when it comes to defusing or destroying the prejudice and hatred.  Those are still out there, hanging in the air, only you’ve become your own executioner.  The hater, by leading you to internalize the hate and then voice your self-hatred, has made you complicit in your own destruction.

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I felt slimed listening to the grotesque, obscene, scatological, salacious and antisemitic effluvia that flowed from these young “entertainers.”  I was also deeply, deeply saddened.  This is where 50 years of the Leftists’ grand march through American culture has left us.  Jews once thought they were special.  They were God’s chosen people and the people of the Book, bringing justice and morality to the world.  They may have been in the ghetto, but they were not of the ghetto.

Today, America’s most fortunate young Jews lack this cultural confidence.  They find themselves disgusting.  They ‘re not just of the ghetto.  They are the miserable filth lying in the ghetto’s gutters. To cleanse themselves of that stain, they commit ritual seppuku on TV and movie screens across America and across the world.

(NOTE:  I know that some of these Jews, such as Sarah Silverman and Seth Rogen, support Israel, and for that I am grateful.  Having said that, you don’t support the pro-Israel cause by constantly demeaning and stereotyping the Jewish people.)

 

A belated Dancing With The Stars wrap-up (including some surprising facts)

DancingRegular readers know that I’m quite fond of Dancing With The Stars.  I like it on several levels.  First, it’s what I call a “getting it right” show.  The stars begin as neophytes, and through a lot of hard work, all get better and some get totally wonderful.  Second, I love watching dancing and the pros on this show are really good.  Third, I like the camaraderie that develops on the show.  It most certainly could be faked, but I actually don’t think so.  These people are living in each other’s back pockets for weeks at a time, and they seem to enjoy each other’s company.  Given how much I liked the show, I thought I’d share a season wrap-up with you, including a few facts and tidbits that aren’t so obvious.

This season, after a lackluster start, proved to be one of the most exciting Dancing With The Stars seasons I’ve watched.  While those who dropped out early were an unimpressive bunch (although I think Randy Couture should have lasted much longer than he did), the four stars going into the finals proved to be really exciting dancers who matured beautifully during the short season.  Here’s a bit about each of those four:

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