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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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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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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Dirty Talk, Dirty People, Dirty Politics

By Jack Engelhard

 

First time I saw him on TV, I thought this must be some foul-mouthed rap artist. But no, this SOB is governor of Illinois. (See? It’s catching.)

 

We can’t seem to stop ourselves from electing the lowest among us to the highest offices. Or maybe that’s the best the pool has to offer; this dirt bag over another dirt-bag.

 

What I said some time ago still stands – the way we speak reflects our character. No wonder our culture is in decline – from dastardly language to dastardly deeds. If it’s true that we’re falling apart economically, politically and culturally, that only makes my point that everything begins with language.

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Writer Burns Her Own Book

[Intro from Jack Engelhard: We’ve all endured this frustration about a book we’re trying to write – but it just refuses to happen.  I met Orit online. I ran into one of her pieces at israelinsider.com and was taken by her brutal honesty and her cool style with words. I’ve been a fan ever since. She is also a knockout in the looks department and I promised to cast her when The Bathsheba Deadline goes Hollywood, a promise I intend to keep. But enough from me. Here’s Orit.]

I Burned my Own Book

By Orit Arfa

Beware any society that burns books–it is one that leads to a dictatorship. To name a few: China’s Qin Dynasty, Nazi Germany, Ray Bradbury’s fictional America in his novel Farenheit 451.

So what does that say about me? I just burned a book—my own. Have I become a one woman dictatorship?

Actually, I felt like I had to burn my book so that I stop becoming a dictator—over myself.

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Best of 2008? Please Don’t Bother

 

By Jack Engelhard

 

So here we go again. News organizations and what-not trot out the best of the year – also the worst. The worst is easy for anyone who makes these lists.

 

But I hate these lists. Please don’t tell me what books I should have read, movies I should have seen, or music I should have listened to; I only listened to Beethoven anyway.

 

So far as world events all I remember is war, right up to this minute. Pick the spot, and there was war or some kind of disturbance. People just don’t get along.

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Beat Your Wife, Sell Books (V.S. Naipaul)

By Jack Engelhard

 

There’s a new book out on the life, loves, sexuality and brutality of V. S. Naipaul, a man who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001.

 

Is there a Nobel Prize for Wife Beating? If so, Naipaul would have won that, too, easily.

 

The facts are all in a biography of Naipaul written by Patrick French in which (practically) nothing is hidden and in fact Naipaul wanted it all put down on paper, warts and all – and talk about warts! The man had a wife whom he pushed aside for a mistress and here’s my mistake. He did not beat his wife (not very much) but oh brother, he sure beat his mistress.

 

The review in the New York Times talks about his hands being sore from all the beatings he gave – never mind the woman from all the beatings she TOOK.

 

Here’s the clincher. This mistress did not mind getting beaten up because it was all for the sake of LITERATURE.

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Hey, What About New Jersey?

By Jack Engelhard

 

My wagering tradition compels me to handicap ahead of time, so rather than wait for the polls to close, here are my bets even as the numbers are still being counted. I predict Obama is going to win. If not, McCain is a shoo-in. That’s my prediction. You can take it to the bank – if you still have a bank. Anyway, along with the rest of New Jersey, I am voting for one or the other. Too bad there are no exactas as at the race track where they can be coupled.

 

I will not tell you about my choice in the voting booth because you might not love me anymore. (But can we still be friends?)

 

So why am I voting? I don’t know. New Jersey is a lock. New Jersey is deep in the bag for Obama. We are a Bruce Springsteen State (though he is not MY Boss) and we are a Blue State, which is not necessarily the same as singing the blues. (I’ve often wondered about this.) The question is this: Are we really a State?

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The Company Man

By Jack Engelhard

 

(Originally appeared in The New York Times)

 

I work for a big company. I’m small. I’m much smaller than the company. My boss told me so himself. He said, “The company is much bigger than you.”

 

I work out of a cell. The company calls it an office but to me it’s a cell. There are no padlocks on the door, except those that I see in my mind. I could escape, but to where? Another corporation? That’s all there is. I’m a company man.

 

I do everything that I’m supposed to do, 8 hours a day, 12 months a year. I get weekends off for good behavior. I get paid once every week, whether I need the money or not.

 

I don’t make trouble. I play second base on the company softball team. I attend company picnics and parties and laugh when I’m supposed to. I don’t sexually harass female colleagues – it’s against company policy.

 

But this is a bad time of year. It’s review time. That means I have to go before my boss and have him evaluate me. This goes on, I’m told, all over the country. People like me get reviewed.

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Your Money is Safer at the Racetrack

By Jack Engelhard

 

Don’t know much about the economy. Then again, neither do the people who run these things.

 

With all these banking outfits going down the drain, virtually overnight, we skipped right past Recession and went directly to Depression. Thanks, guys! Now it’s all in the hands of our Congress to save us from insolvency, which is like inviting Michael Jackson into your bedroom to babysit.

 

Don’t know much about politics, either, which puts me in the same boat with politicians.

 

On Nancy Pelosi and the bickering in the House of Representatives, we quote the sage Casey Stengal: “Doesn’t anybody know how to play this game?”

 

[Wait a minute! This Congress is controlled by the Democrats. If this is a sample of the “change” we’ve got coming, we’re in big trouble, kemosabe.]

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