Jewish World Review Nov. 11, 2003 / 16 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764

Jay D. Homnick

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World Seriously crazy: Grand malay seizures and Gibson screwballs | As a matter of principle, or of interest, I pay scant attention to other events during the week of the World Serious (as Ring Lardner dubbed the World Series). This year, Miami gadabout that I am, I also had a civic interest in the proceedings. From the day after George Will's wounded Cubs recalled a Prior commitment (with dunce inane Wood?), and the Marlins swam off toward their date with destiny, I opened the daily paper only on the right side.

It turned out that the Florida Marlins did not play Boston, who coughed up a three-run lead five outs short of victory. Those Red Sox are tightly knit and rarely have runs in them. So instead of scrod in Boston, theMarlins ate the angry screeds of New York sportswriters. In the end, it was the Yankees who had to scram after the scrimmage, and what a scream!

After the obligatory shower of sham pain to empathize with the downed Bombers, it was back to the News section for me today. Oy vey! I found a topsy-turvy world.

Speaking of Topps, today's paper notes the 75th anniversary of the invention of bubble gum alongside the Centennial anniversary of the World Series. This means that for the first quarter-century, kids buying baseball cards received no stick of bubble gum. Apparently, the Depression was a great deal more severe than we realize. Jimmy Carter was not the first President to preside over a national malaise.

On the subject of Malays, it seems that the Prime Minister of Malaysia, in addressing an Islamic conference, offered this political and economic analysis: the Jews run the world. Which is fine by me, of course, but why am I the only schnook who isn't getting a piece of the pie?

It is well-known that the dominant force in Malaysia's political and business class is its Chinese minority; perhaps anti-Semitism is fashionable in those circles and the PM spoke tong-in-chic. Or perhaps these non-Arabs have an inferiority complex at Islamic shindigs and have to endure a double dose of hazing to be accepted in the smoke-filled rooms of the fraternity.

In either case, we are witness yet again to diplomacy without a diploma, oration without ration, leadership whose leaders are not hip. Is it too much to ask for these tinpot tinhorns, these banana republicans, these two-dimensional Third-Worlders, these see-Despot-run geniuses, to learn the vocabulary of humanity? Someone should wash their mouths out with soap before allowing them on to their soapboxes.

And speaking of soap operas, the same paper informs us that Mel Gibson's production, The Passion, has not succeeded in attracting an American distributor. We laud this decision. I don't think that Hollywood means to dis the passion, only to dis the tribute by Mel.

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We have always liked Mel, a nice family man with six kids. He is one of that rare breed known as the Hollywood Republican. Nor have tales surfaced of him groping for an image like Arnold Schwarzenegger. He has had a nice life, growing up as the son of an American draft dodger living out the Vietnam war in Australia; why would he choose to draft a dodgy, inflammatory version of the death of Jesus? Why would he try to ram this pontifical, piteous pilot into the twin towers of faith in America?

Hey, we like him as an actor, not an activist. He may be handsome: that's no reason to hand some ammo to malevolent forces in our society. If he has nice pecs, he need not peck at the fabric that binds our culture. If his abs are solid, let him abstain from this absurdity. Even if he is willing to put up his own thirty pieces of silver.

The classic Yiddish joke tells of the poor man who knocks on the rich man's door, asking for a meal. It is churlish to refuse, but the stingy tycoon has worked out a system. He sets a nice table of delectable dishes, then immediately engages the beggar in chitchat. The guest chats out of politeness; after about a half-hour, the wealthy host signals an end to the meal that the mendicant has barely nibbled.

This time the plan backfired. The almoner said, "Ah, you are from Memel, how is my friend Yankel Feder?" The almsman replied, "Geshtorben (He died)!" "You know Berel Spivak?" Again, "Geshtorben!" One last try - "Aaron Feller?" Yep, "Geshtorben!" Stunned at the report of the epidemic among his compadres, the toff mulled in silence while his scruffy visitor munched happily.

Finally, the impecunious imp finished and hastily assured his reluctant benefactor that his friends are in fine fettle. "So why did you say they were Geshtorben?" Because, comes the timeless response, "when I eat, the whole world is Geshtorben!"

In that vein, perhaps I should abandon the madness of the world and return to baseball as my full-time vocation. A Marlins highlight film in Aramaic without subtitles, anyone? Quick, before all the bats are stored away in the belfry.

Indeed the whole Marlins victory seems crazy, a hallucination, Lucy in the Skybox with Diamonds. Who ever heard of a squad with an all-Jewish management team (Jeffrey Loria, his stepson David Samson, Larry Beinfest and an Orthodox Jew, Josh Mael) winning in Major League Baseball? Hey, I guess the Jews do run the world after all.

Dedicated to a true princess in honor of her birthday.

JWR contributor Jay D. Homnick is the author of many books and essays on Jewish political and religious affairs. Comment by clicking here.


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08/26/03: They don't sue prematurely (Tales Out Of Court)
07/29/03: Equipped with a quip, he gave the Hope
07/11/03: Speaking of Euro mania
06/27/03: The Tempest (not "The Taming of the Shrew")
06/16/03: Iraq and roll
06/05/03: Is Castro convertible?
05/23/03: Taxonomy of senatorial types
04/23/03: The Nutrasweet War against the Axis of Evil: Did Rummy forget?

© 2003, Jay D. Homnick