Monthly Archives: November 2004

Take Off Your Yamacha

Adam Sandler’s “The Hanukkah Song” should be abandoned immediately as a cultural touchstone, according to JewishWorldReview editor-in-chief Binyamin Jolkovsky. Jolkovsky, quoted in a Washington Times piece, believes that the song is “an embarrassment,” in part because it doesn’t touch on the actual Hanukkah story- although if he shared any type of substantive critique, the Times reporter did a pretty awful job of putting it across.
I’m no Sandler fan and never have been. But I recognize the valuable role of “Hanukkah Song” and its sequels in instilling Jewish pride among Hebraic youngsters, who may not have been aware that, say, David Lee Roth lights the Menorah, that Harrison Ford is a quarter Jewish, or that numerous other celebs are just as Jewish as they are.
In fact, this is a pretty bad article in general- it mistakenly refers to Sandler’s animated film “Eight Crazy Nights” as “a made-for-TV Hanukkah movie” (it was released theatrically), while attributing the recent parody “Hanukkah Hey Ya” to “a Jewish hip-hop group called Outkast.”
Jolkovsky favors replacing “The Hanukkah Song” in pop culture with a song I’ve never heard of (“Color Candles” by Eli Nathan). I vote for two Hanukkah songs that actually do reference the Maccabees’ story: either the Peter Yarrow standard “Light One Candle” or, even better, Rabbi Joseph Black’s “Judah Maccabee.”

The Cooperstown Hot Stove

With the baseball transaction wire going unusually slowly this year- aside from a few questionable signings by the Washington Hebrew Nationals- we turn our attention to the Hall of Fame ballot, released the other day.
Of first-time eligibles, the only shoo-in appears to be Wade Boggs, leaving whether he’ll actually go through with having a Devil Rays cap on his plaque as the only mystery. Boggs won the AL batting title just about every year of the ‘80s, and while batting average is now “overrated,” as we now know, I still say Boggs is a first-ballot guy.
Also new to the ballot are Darryl Strawberry- whose pissing away of a certain Hall career is one of the sadder baseball developments of the past two decades- and the not-quite-good-enough Willie McGee. On the no-chance-in-hell list, we’ve got Jeff Montgomery, Otis Nixon, Terry Steinbach, and Tom Candiotti.
As for holdovers, I’m not convinced that Bert Blyleven deserves induction, nor the closer trio of Lee Smith, Bruce Sutter, and Rich Gossage. I do, however, support the inclusion of Jack Morris (the winningest pitcher of the ‘80s), as well as Ryne Sandberg, who would be a shoo-in too if it weren’t for that 18-month retirement he took.
And no, I’m still against the induction of Pete Rose. Notice no one’s talking about it this year?

Outgrowing Payne

Alexander Payne’s “Sideways” was released about a month ago, and as of now I’m yet to read a negative review of it (it’s currently at a 97 on Rotten Tomatoes). Yet I still found the film quite overrated, just as I did Payne’s previous film, “About Schmidt.”
Yes, it had some funny moments, and yes the performances were excellent. But my problems with “Sideways” were threefold: the characters were irredeemably unlikable; the last 40 minutes could’ve been squeezed into 10 minutes; and I thought the “brilliant scene” that everyone loved (Paul Giamatti and Virginia Madsen’s wine-as-life-metaphor chat) was trite, as well as false as hell.
I’ve heard “Sideways” compared to “Swingers,” except that it’s about middle-aged men instead of 20-somethings. “Swingers” is among my very favorite movies of all time, yet I didn’t quite relate the same way to “Sideways.” Maybe check back with me when I’m 50.

Overheard Quote of the Day

Bullwinkle Ate My Family
Chick: Yeah, deers aren’t that bad. You’re in trouble if you hit a cow, though. And even worse would be a moose, because if you don’t kill it it’s gonna kill you!

-Via the hilarious OverheardInNewYork, which consists of wild statements uttered by Big Apple residents (from yuppies to hipsters to homeless people); it’s mindful of those great anecdotes that used to run on the second page of New York Press.

Succeeding Safire

New York magazine floats some names in regards to who may succeed William Safire as the token conservative on the New York Times op-ed page: David Frum, Charles Krauthammer, Christopher Caldwell, Richard Brookhiser, Fred Barnes, Robert Kagan, and John Tierney.
I wouldn’t mind Frum or Krauthammer (Barnes, I would mind), although I’ve been saying all along that Caldwell would be the best choice. A frequent Weekly Standard writer who has been contributing to the NYT Magazine for the past year or so, Caldwell used to write great columns for New York Press, and while he’s quite similar politically and stylistically to David Brooks, it’s not as though Krugman, Herbert, and Kristoff aren’t all clones anyway.
That said, John Tierney would be intriguing. He wrote a great magazine piece a few years ago called “Recycling is Garbage” that was so persuasive that I haven’t recycled since.
UPDATE: Here’s a whole blog dedicated to getting Jonah Goldberg the job.
Speaking of the Times op-ed page, how lazy is Maureen Dowd, giving away two-thirds of her column to a letter from her Republican brother? I’ve often compared Dowd’s style (and skill) to that of a college newspaper columnist, but I don’t even think such a gambit would past muster with The Justice.