I Will Now Define Torture

By Jack Engelhard

 

Former detainee, Binyam Mohamed, reports that practically everything was brutal during his confinement but worst of all were those CD blasts from rapper Eminem.

 

Finally, we know how to break alleged terrorists. Forget water-boarding. That’s peanuts. Give them our culture, domestic or imported, and surely they will confess. Give them, say, 10 minutes of Bill Maher, softly or loudly, and they’re sure to spill their secrets and tell us where bin Laden is hiding. (I’ve tried Maher for nearly an hour – true torture – and was ready to confess my own crimes and misdemeanors to anyone who would listen.)

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The Curious Case of F. Scott Fitzgerald (Oscars)

By Jack Engelhard

 

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s last royalty check came to around $4.85. In the beginning (with the publication of “This Side of Paradise”) he was America’s literary darling. In the end, practically everybody gave up on him. Hollywood snubbed him. His wife, Zelda, died in an insane asylum. Only his lover, the columnist Sheila Graham, remained loyal.

 

The author of “The Great Gatsby” — the prince of novels in our literary kingdom – died forgotten, a self-perceived failure.

 

Today, even Hollywood appreciates him. A short story of his, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” was turned into a movie and won two Oscars at last night’s Academy Awards. Too bad he’s dead. Fitzgerald could have used some of that love when he was still alive. He got nothing but scorn.

 

This may well typify the life of a novelist in Hollywood, or the life of a novelist, period. How we glorify our artists usually too late!

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How The Mighty Keep Falling (Like Phelps)

 

By Jack Engelhard

 

Is this payback for ingratitude?

 

As we all know, the hero of the recent Olympics is (was!) Michael Phelps, and he did it all in the water. He won eight gold medals at the 2008 Games, finally surpassing the previous record of seven held by Mark Spitz. Those were the headlines of a short time ago. Today’s headlines remind us that no one is perfect.

 

Phelps was caught smoking marijuana. Give him credit. He doesn’t deny. But he’s already been tarnished, first by reputation, and now by finance. Kellog just announced that it will not renew its endorsement contract with him, other sponsors are on the verge, and the Olympic Committee has suspended him for three months. He will lose millions.

 

Yes, how the mighty have fallen – and so fast!

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Obama: No More Mr. Nice Guy

 

By Jack Engelhard

 

We can all agree (for once) that President Barack Obama’s inauguration speech was no thriller. If anything, it was a downer.

 

It had to be. One minute he was president-elect; next minute, My Gawd! he was President! The real deal. The gloves had to come off. The truth had to be told. What an awakening this must have been, to realize that the party is over, the work begins. That is sobering! It’s doubtful that any time soon he’ll be showing up on TV with Oprah Winfrey, or sharing dance steps with Ellen DeGeneres.

 

From now on those photo-ops will show him in the company of world leaders, some who wish us well, many who wish us harm.

 

There’s a new sheriff in town and he won’t be smiling.

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Is Richard Gere Responsible?

 

By Jack Engelhard

 

First let me say that I do not watch Hollywood award shows strictly for the cleavage. No, I’m in it for the Art — and the Cleavage.

 

Salma Hayek is the best actor in the world though I have never seen any of her movies. That one eye-candy moment at the Golden Globes was persuasive enough.

 

For me, the awards season began with the National Book Awards on C-Span, where I learned that there are agents, editors and publishers who actually support writers. This amazed me. One writer after another – the winners – got up and gushed over these people who were so “helpful” and “devoted.” In what universe is this happening?

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Expel The Media

 

By Jack Engelhard

 

The major news organizations, all across the firmament of newspapers, radio and TV, are complaining that Israel won’t let them into Gaza.

 

Ain’t that a shame.

 

A newscaster named Smith spoke for his fellow foreign correspondents when he said that reporters have a “right” to gain access to the conflict.

 

Israel has an “obligation” so that the “truth” can be told.

 

The last big “truth” I remember was the Muhammad al-Durra hoax that was staged in cahoots between Palestinian and French “journalists.” This blood-libel provoked a killing spree against Israelis even after the facts came out to reveal that 1.the boy was killed by Arab gunfire, not Israeli; 2, the boy wasn’t killed at all. He walked off the set with his father after the director yelled “cut” (and you thought only Hollywood made movies).

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Spare the Pieties on Gaza

 

By Jack Engelhard

 

Frankly, given a choice, I prefer the skinheads and other brutes who express their anti-Semitism openly. In such places, we know the enemy.

 

But please spare me the pieties and the righteous indignation of those “good people” protesting throughout Europe against Israel’s defensive operation in Gaza. True, thousands have taken up banners in support of Israel. At the same time, however, the streets of Europe (and even some in America) are in an uproar. These are the “humanitarians” – the good, the noble, the refined who chant “Peace.”

 

Now you’re up and about? Now you speak? Where were you when, throughout the years, thousands of Jihadist bombs fell on Israel? The streets of Europe were empty. There were no pictures in the newspapers of grieving Jewish mothers and fathers. You called it “peace” as long as the Arabs were doing the killing and the Jews were doing the dying. All was well with the world.

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Books That Could Never Get Published Today

By Jack Engelhard

Readers at the New York Times have already spoken about the most overrated books of all time and the winners (or rather, the losers) are J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” and God’s “The Bible.” I read all about it in the Times’ Paper Cuts blog ( “Plaster Saints?”) and arrived at the conclusion that the least favorable works were usually those that failed to adhere to political correctness. 

Hence, Books That Could Never Get Published Today

The Hebrew Bible: Too Jewish.

Confessions of St. Augustine: Too Christian.

Moby Dick — Dear Mr. Melville: A quite similar book has already been done by Jonah and it is still in print. We’d reconsider if you could produce a more sensitive Capt. Ahab. You do go on about whaling. Also, your opening line does not work for us. Can you come up with something better than “Call me Ishmael?” (Our first readers, by the way, were rooting for the whale.)

The Old Man and the Sea — Dear Mr. Hemingway: We no longer use the term “old man.” (Our first readers, by the way, were rooting for the fish.)

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