Drunks on a Train

 

By Jack Engelhard

 

Over the weekend there was a BEER FESTIVAL in Atlantic City. This event drew thousands from throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey and states east, west, north and south, and in fact (at least I think it’s a fact) there’s nothing like a beer festival to get people hopping on trains, planes and automobiles heading for the shore. Once upon a time there was The Miss America Pageant, but that’s all gone, and we’re left with beer, beer pageants.

Details

Call Me Stimulus

 

By Jack Engelhard

 

Obama Never Wanted To Be President. He Just Wanted To Be Loved.

 

The Stimulus Bill weighs in at 1,588 pages – not exactly a page turner. The same lawmakers who wrote this heavyweight boondoggle, and voted for it, never read it, and that’s why there’s all this amazement about those bonuses for AIG. Nobody knows what’s in this package, except for $850 BILLION of our money that’s going, going, gone.

 

According to my calculations, that’s one thousand dollars per word, or maybe a million dollars per page. That’s a writer’s dream.

 

Mark Twain got a nickel a word and Ernest Hemingway maybe a dime or a quarter.

 

“Moby Dick” runs 464 pages. On those rates (if he were writing for Congress) Herman Melville would have died wealthy instead of poor, or started the novel with, “Call me Rich,” instead of Ishmael. “War and Peace” ends at page 1,296. Using the same math, Leo Tolstoy died poor for no reason except for the fact that he wrote novels instead of legislation.

 

(How do I get in on this?)

 

I actually heard three senators say that they never read the bill, that, indeed, nobody in Congress read the small print or even the BIG PRINT. Nada.

Details

Madoff: The Perfect Storm for anti-Semitism

By Jack Engelhard

 

They needed a picture, a poster boy, to be the face of our economic collapse and as if on cue, here came Bernard Madoff.

 

They got their man. He’s Jewish. How perfect. The mystery is solved. They know whom to blame. The Jews.

 

Right after Madoff was exposed, I overheard this conversation in a restaurant: “You heard about this guy Madoff?”

 

“Yup – here go those Jews again.”

Details

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.)

Details

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!

Details

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!

Details

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.

Details

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?

Details