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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King David: Faith Lost and Found

By Jack Engelhard

 

That’s quite a fix to be in when not only have you run out of answers, but you’ve also run out of questions.

 

How many times can we ask – Why did God let this happen?

 

I’m here on the question of Mumbai, India, the slaughter that took place, and in particular the Jews who were singled out for special torture and murder by Islamists.

 

Via e-mail messages, I’ve been getting many words of understanding and comfort, but none of them works for me. Have I lost faith? That can never happen, not with my genes that date back to my Biblical namesake, Jacob. But something did make me teeter. I lost the connection. This happens to me now and then, certainly when I think of the Holocaust. Why did God let this happen?

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Recession Bingo

 

By Jack Engelhard

 

Turns out – according to The New York Times – that Barack Obama took in nearly a billion dollars for his successful presidential campaign; all that from fellow Americans donating their pennies, nickels and dimes, and all of it during a time when we’re being told that there’s a Recession going on.

 

I forget what sum what’s his name collected on the Republican side, nothing that can match Obama’s windfall, that’s for sure, but it was plenty.

 

So what Recession are we talking about? Yes, many of us are hurting, but SOMEBODY is raking it in. Like I always say – everything depends on luck.

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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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Who Is Obama Reading?

By Jack Engelhard

 

During his interview on “60 Minutes” president-elect Barack Obama mentioned a book that he’d been reading on FDR’s first 100 Days. He did not name the book, tantalizing publishers that had such books on the shelves. After all, the mere mention of a book by Obama could lead to dancing – best seller!

 

Turns out that the prize went to two authors, Jonathan Alter and Jean Edward Smith. He’d been reading them both on FDR.

 

Bingo.

 

Some people have all the luck. However, a week or so earlier, the New York Times asked people to suggest what books Obama OUGHT TO BE reading, and here came the (truly gifted) writer John W. Cassell. He wrote in and suggested “The Bathsheba Deadline” as MUST READING. Well, until we find Obama with that book of mine (and riches to follow) I thought I’d present a portion of “The Bathsheba Deadline” that in fact touches on FDR. From page 154 of the paperback version, here goes:

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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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When Bad Things Happen to Good Computers

 

By Jack Engelhard

 

Well, it finally happened. My computer crashed. All my works in progress – gone! Fortunately, most of my novels are already published and listed on Amazon and elsewhere, so that’s good, and as for my journalism, well, that’s also preserved here and all over the Web.

 

I’ll bet I’m not alone in this. This has happened to everybody. We’re all at the mercy of technology and technology is not perfect. Stuff happens.

 

For some reason I equate all this with the economy, which also crashed, and I equate it even more with something almost cosmic, that our entire civilization rests upon the mercy and the good graces of a power higher up, beyond us mortals – in other words, we are all plugged in and, just like that, someone can pull the plug and plug us out.

 

Is this religion?

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Fiction Friction, News Blues

By Jack Engelhard

 

When I heard that an obscure French-born novelist had won the Nobel Prize, I thought it must be me and I began eyeing that red Cadillac. After all, I fit all three categories. I am obscure. I am French-born. I am a novelist. Who else could it be? A man named Jean-Marie Gustav Le Clezio, that’s who. Oh well, as we say in baseball (and the economy) – wait till next year.

 

I hope Le Clezio wins us over. This is not promising. There have been no long lines for preceding Nobel champs, big names like Orhan Pamuk and Elfriede Jelinek.

 

Hemingway got the jitters when he won it and in fact he wanted no part of it due to the jinx.

 

But I’m stalling. I’ve really come here to talk about THE DEATH OF THE NOVEL. The latest to have his crack at this is columnist Kyle Smith writing in today’s New York Post (Sunday, Oct. 12). He sums it all up, in my favorite newspaper, by saying (if not in those words) that, in this fast-paced age of technology, fiction does not speak for our times.

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