Monthly Archives: November 2004

Take Off Your Yamacha

Adam Sandlers 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 doesnt 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.
Im 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 Sandlers 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 Ive 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 Blacks 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 hell 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, weve got Jeff Montgomery, Otis Nixon, Terry Steinbach, and Tom Candiotti.
As for holdovers, Im 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 werent 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 Paynes Sideways was released about a month ago, and as of now Im yet to read a negative review of it (its currently at a 97 on Rotten Tomatoes). Yet I still found the film quite overrated, just as I did Paynes 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 couldve been squeezed into 10 minutes; and I thought the brilliant scene that everyone loved (Paul Giamatti and Virginia Madsens wine-as-life-metaphor chat) was trite, as well as false as hell.
Ive heard Sideways compared to Swingers, except that its about middle-aged men instead of 20-somethings. Swingers is among my very favorite movies of all time, yet I didnt quite relate the same way to Sideways. Maybe check back with me when Im 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.

Quote of the Day

“You might be asking this morning, ‘What in the world are the Bears doing signing Jeff George?’ Simple. The day he turns 70, Jeff George will be better than Jonathan Quinn is today. I’m not kidding. Not one bit. That is one disgraceful quarterback depth chart the Bears have.”

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, who (like me) was at the Vikings game Sunday and (also like me) was stuck that night in the F concourse at the Minneapolis airport. In fact, we were probably on the same plane.

He’s No Mientkiewicz

Immediately following the Vikings’ victory today over the Jaguars at the Metrodome, both the callers and announcers on the radio postgame show repeatedly and mysteriously referred to Jags quarterback Byron Leftwich as “Leftkowitz.” In doing so, they both mispronounced a not-hard-to-pronounce name, and inadvertently assigned him a heretofore unknown dose of Semitism, to boot. What, do they refer to Leftwich’s fellow Marshall alum, Randy Moss, as “Moskowitz”?
Still though- not enough to make Leftwich Eckstein-eligible.
I’m back in New York and ready to crash; stay tuned tomorrow for more Vikings thoughts, including a full-fledged fisking of the aforementioned new-stadium propaganda.

Music Critic Quote of the Week

“Eminem’s wisecracking, scatological Slim Shady persona resurfaces for the entire middle portion of the album, but that ends around “Ass Like That,” a track so muddled that it’s hard to tell whether it’s a song-length putdown of Triumph The Insult Comic Dog or an elaborate backhanded homage. The song backfires spectacularly, because Eminem and Triumph essentially share the same shtickdeflating celebrity egos with barbed wisecracksand because at this point, Triumph is a lot funnier and more pointed in his putdowns than his human counterpart.”

-Nathan Rabin, reviewing the “Encore” album in the Onion AV Club. Where’s Triumph’s Grammy?