I have an admission to make. (Well, it’s not so much of an admission because you could look it up on Wikipedia in about five seconds.) Today, November 22, 2013 — the 50th anniversary of Jack Kennedy’s assassination — I am seventy (70) years old.
Fifty years ago today, I was a senior at Dartmouth College, getting dressed to go visit my girlfriend at Skidmore for my birthday, when I heard the news. I went down to Saratoga Springs, New York, anyway and spent the weekend in a motel, watching television. I saw Ruby kill Oswald, easily the most dramatic moment of live TV ever.
I remember it pretty vividly, more vividly than a lot things in the fifty years since, some of which happened considerably more recently but, hey, I’m seventy.
Fortunately, I’m told I don’t look it and I know I don’t feel it. Seventy is the new sixty — or is it fifty? I seem to have as much energy as I ever had. Since resigning as PJ Media CEO last February, I’m writing up a storm with book and film projects lined up. My tennis game is better than it was when I was twenty-five. Also, I’m only about five pounds heavier than I was then and quite a bit more muscular.
I haven’t always been this way. Sometimes I have been pudgy and out of shape. Maybe more than sometimes — decades. No longer. As I got older, I panicked. It was now or never. Either start moving my body seriously or, well, it’s finito la comedia. I’m on my way out.
I started moving. Now I’m religious about staying in shape. I exercise six days a week, sometimes seven. Often I exercise more than once a day. In fact, the days I don’t exercise, I am frequently depressed. I’m probably addicted to exercise at this point. At least I hope I am because I want to be addicted. I just love those endorphins and the rest of the goodies that get released — serotonin, dopamine, etc. Exercise is a complete mood alterer for me. It beats therapy by a mile — trust me, I’ve done enough to know — and it’s a helluva lot cheaper. (No, you’re not going to see a selfie. I’m not running for mayor of New York — or Toronto.)
So what do I do? The easiest part is playing tennis. I’m a lifetime player (since age 7 approximately) and I play now 3-4 four times a week, singles and doubles. When I play doubles it’s usually for two hours, singles for an hour. Doubles can sometimes feel like not much of a workout, it’s such a strategy game. Singles, against a good player, is always a workout. Every Tuesday morning at eight, I take an hour lesson with Godwin Omuta, a former member of the Nigerian Davis Cup team who is six foot three and has an amused smile on his face as he runs me unmercifully around the court.
Being an apostate – someone who leaves a religion, ideology, political party, etc. – is rarely easy. You can lose friends and family, often a job. But for those who abjure Islam the problems are on a whole other level. You can lose your life. That is why Islamic apostates are some of the most courageous people on Earth.
One of the bravest of the brave whom I have met is a man who goes under the name “Ibn Warraq.” He is the author of Why I Am Not a Muslim, first published in 1995, that demonstrates how Islam is incompatible with “individual rights and liberties of a liberal, democratic, secular state.”
Warraq has just published a new book Sir Walter Scott’s Crusades and Other Fantasies, largely a collection of Internet essays previously published on Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch and other sites. I highly recommend it. But be warned: Warraq is a true intellectual. These essays are serious and detailed, not the breezy stuff you’re used to reading online.
Nevertheless, they are extremely timely. The choice of Walter Scott, an often slow-going author most of us brushed up against briefly in school via a mandatory reading of Ivanhoe, as the principal object of Warraq’s interest is far from accidental. The real subject is the Crusades and how to interpret them – and the ensuing false equivalency between Christianity and Islam that exists to this day and is continually manipulated by leftist multi-culturalists. (As Warraq points out, the Crusades were violent, but they were a reaction to over three hundred years of intense Muslim violence against non-Muslims.)
Warraq’s main ideological adversary here, as it is in most of his work, is the late Edward Said, the Columbia professor who so identified with the Palestinian cause that he stood at the Lebanon border and personally threw stones across into Israel.
This is all the more important because Edward Said is one of the intellectual fathers of Barack Obama. Indeed, when Said died, Obama’s close personal friend Rashid Khalidi replaced Said as the chairman of Columbia’s Middle East department. (The suppression of a tape of Khalidi’s Chicago going away party with Obama in attendance by the Los Angeles Times remains one of the more interesting cases of censorship in our times.)
I am a loyal vassal of Lord Steve. Even after his death, I follow his orders explicitly.
Dutifully, at exactly 12:01 AM on September 20, 2013, I ordered my iPhone 5S, color “space grey,” on the Apple site. It was slated for arrival September 26, but arrived one day early at my house. That’s what happens when you are loyal to Lord Steve. (Also, you get numerous emails such as… “Your iPhone is in Dong Ding, China.” “Your iPhone has left Dong Ding, China.” ”Your iPhone is in Anchorage, Alaska, freezing its butt off.” ”Your iPhone has just gotten a ticket on the Ventura Freeway and will be delayed, etc.” Then, finally, “Your iPhone is here. Answer the door, you idiot!”)
And so you do. You immediately, drop everything, rush to the door, pull the box apart (stopping a mini-second to admire the smashing dee-sign) and fire it up. Even if there were nuclear war, that’s what you do. Remember this 1980 cartoon? In 2013 she’d be holding an iPhone (and don’t give me any of your Android lip).
So no sooner did the UPS guy bring my anointed 5S (it was “space grey” — I stayed away from the gold/champagne thing lest my enemies get the idea I was moving to Palm Springs and celebrate), than I pressed the familiar button (these things haven’t changed in a decade after all) and off I went.
At which point… things… slowed…to….a………..crawl…. then…..a……………..halt.
What was up? My brand new iPhone wasn’t working. And Steve was dead.
Turns out I made a mistake. I was restoring my phone from the “cloud” — at the same moment about fourteen million people were doing the same thing, not to mention another seventy-eight million in Guangzhou — instead of using iTunes like any doofus with an IQ in triple digits. But soon enough things loosened and by morning (well, late morning) my new iPhone was ready to go. (“Why do you have so many apps?” my wife and daughter always asked. Well, now I don’t. I learned.)
Forget the Scarsdale and Atkins diets, world number one tennis player Novak Djokovic is publishing a book of his diet secrets next month and I’m going to scarf it up. (Think I’m nuts? How many Grand Slams has Dr. Atkins won?) According to the WSJ:
…in a new book that will be released next month, Djokovic reveals much more about the diet and regimen he follows—details he has, until now, kept quiet.
It offers a rare look into the mind of an elite athlete who has climbed to the top of a brutally competitive sport during one of its most competitive eras.
It also confirms something many tennis fans have long suspected: Novak Djokovic is a decidedly unusual fellow.
Want to roll like the world’s top men’s tennis player? Start by drinking loads of warm water all day long, as well as shakes made with pea protein concentrate. Avoid dairy and stay away from alcohol during tournaments. Eat lots of avocados, cashew butter and very little sugar. Banish caffeine, other than the occasional energy gel bar before matches. Be sure to get seven to eight hours of sleep a night, meditate, do plenty of yoga and tai chi, take melatonin supplements, hook yourself up to a biofeedback machine that measures your stress level and, when you have a free moment or two, keep a diary. Feel free to unwind with a cup of warm licorice tea.
And that’s not all. Apparently Nole’s, as he’s known to us tennis fans, secret sauce is something called manuka honey from New Zealand. He takes two spoonfuls of the stuff when he wakes up with a glass of warm water. (It evidently clears up acne too.)
That and twelve hours a day of practice and you’re in Wimbledon. Well, maybe not.
I bet you thought the self-respecting jihadist had to wait until the afterlife to bed (or cloud) down with a bevy of virgins. Not so, according to our good friends at the ever-useful Daily Mail:
At least 13 Tunisian girls reportedly travelled to rebel-held Northern Syria to offer themselves as sex workers to opposition fighters.
The report comes as concerns in Tunisia grow about religious orders or ‘fatwas’ that have circulated the internet calling on women to perform jihad through sex.
Last week, a Tunisian minister of religious affairs appealed to girls not to be influenced by Islamic preachers outside of Tunisia who, it has been reported, made a number of ‘sexual fatwas’.
Noureddine al-Khadimi rejected ‘sexual jihad’ fatwas, urging Tunisian people and state institutions to not respond to them.
Tunisian newspapers reported that a young Tunisian man divorced his wife, and that they both headed to Syria almost a month ago to ‘allow her to engage in sexual jihad with the mujahideen’ there.
Sounds like a new form of three-way, but never mind. The real question is WHICH rebels are getting the jihadist nook – the Islamists or the moderates? Excuse me for being cynical, but this seems, once again, another blow for extremism.
These days it’s great to be Novak Djokovic. Undisputed number one tennis player in the world, winner of his last eighteen matches including today’s final in Dubai, seriously under discussion as a possible greatest of all time, king of Gangnam style dancing. And now THIS…
A new installment in PJM’s Andrew Klavan’s prize-winning Homeland series of young adult thrillers - If We Survive - has just been published by Thomas Nelson. I read the first in the series - The Last Thing I Remember - and, although I am several decades beyond “young adult,” enjoyed it immensely. The new one takes the series out of the country to Central America where the heroes are to build a new school for the poor and, not surprisingly, run into some revolutionaries.
Klavan’s novels would make great holiday gifts for the high schoolers on your list. Buried beneath the good fun of the mystery plots are some values they don’t often get from their teachers.
CORRECTION: I have been informed that If We Survive is a standalone novel for Young Adults, not part of the Homeland series – all the more reason to buy both.
Is men’s tennis the most amazing and competitive sport in the world today? Well, with Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, now Andy Murray and soon a returning Rafa Nadal playing the game at levels never seen before many fans are beginning to think tennis is in a golden age beyond Sampras-Agassi, Laver-Rosewall or anything else. And this includes me who has been watching (and playing) tennis so long that I saw Gonzales and Laver play (no, not Tilden or Budge).
Nowadays, it’s not just the skills, but the incredible fitness of the players who duel each other at top speed for three-to-five hours. Compare that to the NBA where they might play fifty minutes in an overtime game – and that’s a team sport. These guys are on their own.
Want some evidence of the level? Take a look at this point in Sunday’s Shanghai Open final between Murray and Djokovic. Andy had outlasted Nole in a five-setter at the US Open (another near five-hour match) and seemed to be doing it again in Shanghai when this happened….
Through the legs and then a drop shot put away? Kobe and Lebron should try that one on for size. Djokovic came back to win this one after facing five match (actually championship) points. On to Paris and London. Next year’s tennis looks to be sensational.
Novak Djokovic wins the China Open and then dances Gangnam-style with the ball girls. Is this the coolest athlete ever?
While people – a few anyway – were watching some pretty tedious political speeches Thursday evening, they missed some sensational tennis at the US Open. The quarter final between Novak Djokovic and Juan del Potro was a classic, particularly the second set when the six-foot-six inch Argentinian del Porto battled the Serbian world number two almost dead even until Djokovic, as he so often does, slipped through and won the tie breaker – and eventually the match. Both men were playing at their best, which is very good indeed, with several remarkable points going on for twenty or more strokes, leaving commentator John McEnroe (who should know) breathless.
Del Potro is returning to the form that won him the US Open in 2009 and Djokovic is playing at or near his 2011 level when he was virtually unbeatable. The Serbian – who at his best is almost otherworldly – seems destined to take his place in the Top Five all time pantheon of tennis players with Rafael Nadal, Pete Sampras, Rod Laver and, of course, Roger Federer. It’s interesting that three of these guys, assuming Nadal comes back from his knee injury, are currently active. This is an incredible time for men’s tennis, which is being played at a higher level than ever. The raw, non-stop athleticism of Nadal and Djokovic has never been seen before in tennis. And Andy Murray is no slouch either. He may be headed for a collision with Djokovic in the US Open final next week. Don’t miss it.
Some folks like to brew their own beer. Others like to ferment wine. To me those drinks are candy, as in the old line: “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.” These days I’m a hard liquor man, favoring martinis and Manhattans, both done just so.
Toward that end I’ve been doing my own safari across country in search of the best ingredients. When it comes to martinis, I favor Plymouth gin kept in the freezer with a quick splash of Noilly Prat vermouth (the straw-colored kind). Add to that a secret ingredient I discovered at a bar in Charleston: celery bitters. Sprinkle some in, depending on taste. Of course, it’s then all shaken, not stirred, Mr. Bond. And served as icy cold as possible, straight up with, in my case, two olives. Others prefer, as Robert Mitchum would famously say, “No vegetation.” That’s up to you.
On the Manhattan front, things are a bit more complicated. I was originally a Maker’s Mark man, but lately I’ve been gravitating to Buffalo Trace bourbon. But more of the bourbon in a minute. The other ingredients for an unforgettable (I’ll take…) Manhattan that Dorothy Parker never had (I know, I know – she preferred martinis) are Antica Formula dal 1786 Vermouth (incredible stuff, a little pricey but worth it – you don’t use too much) and Luxardo, an Italian liqueur made of maraschino cherries. Use two parts bourbon, one part of that fancy vermouth and maybe slightly less than 1 part Luxardo (depends on how sweet you like it). Again, use a shaker with ice and pour over another maraschino (or not – it’s fine without it). Kick back and listen to Bobby Short or some equally “Manhattan” sound.
Amidst recent rumors that Condoleezza Rice may get Mitt Romney’s nod for the vice presidency, it’s worth acknowledging that Rice would be pretty much the most accomplished person in high elected office in our country in recent years, possibly ever. She is a Russian literature scholar, fluent in the language, and a classical pianist at a professional or near-professional level. (The thought of her debating Joe Biden has definite comic overtones.) Here she is playing Schumann’s Fantasiestucke, Op. 73 with cellist Kjell Stenberg just last May:
Tiger Woods once called Roger Federer the greatest athlete in the world.
But that was several years ago, before Federer eased out of his friendship with the scandal-ridden Woods.
More importantly, it was also before Federer won his seventh Wimbledon today (tying Pete Sampras’ record), his seventeenth grand slam victory overall (already record-breaking), elevating him once more to number one in the tennis rankings, a position he has now held for 286 weeks and counting (again breaking Sampras’ record). All this at the age of thirty, almost thirty-one, when most tennis players are supposed to be heading out to the country club farm or learning how to do TV commentary à la Joh McEnroe (non pareil in the area).
The match he played today against the unfortunate Andy Murray was one of Federer’s best. Several shots and rallies, including one deft net approach curveball to win the second set, will be replayed by tennis aficionados into the future.
At the moment, Federer again looks unstoppable. Of course, that could change. He has terrific competition, some of the best in the history of the sport, from Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
But even if it does, what Federer has accomplished over his career, from the initial victory over the waning Sampras back at Wimbledon in 2001 until today, is quite remarkable. It’s easy to agree with Woods that since 2001 he has been the greatest athlete alive. There is, however, a yet greater claim to be made.
He is the greatest of all time — not just in tennis, but in all sports.
What? Greater than Michael Jordan and Rafer Johnson and whoever else you might want to put on the list? Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb? Jesse Owens? Roger Bannister? Pheidippides?
Well, we all know it’s impossible to assess the comparative greatness of athletes in different sports across different eras and that this is the ultimate in biased assertions (and, yes, I admit to pro-tennis bias — a sport I have been playing since the age of six and still play, three times a week, in my sixties), but I will try to make the case.
From the Times of Israel, via Der Spiegel:
The Palestinian terrorists who killed 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics were assisted by a German neo-Nazi, a German newsmagazine reported Sunday. The neo-Nazi, Willi Pohl, helped forge passports and ferried one of the Black September terror cell ringleaders around Germany in the weeks before the Olympic massacre.
Based on recently released files from Germany’s security service BfV, der Spiegel reported Sunday that Pohl had met with Saad Walli, an “Arab-looking man” who boasted of his contacts to the radical wing of the Palestine Liberation Organization, seven weeks before the massacre in September 1972. Saad Walli was the code name of Abu Daoud, one of the masterminds behind the attack.
The 2,000-page report, which the police of the city of Dortmund sent to the BfV and other national authorities, does not mention any efforts made by any of the contacted officials to apprehend Abu Daoud in the weeks prior to the massacre, the weekly reported.
In October 1972 Phol was arrested by the police and was found in possession of grenades, arms and ammunition. The weapons were thought to be held in keeping for Black September to be used in a retaliatory attack against German targets. He was sentenced to two years in prison.
Pohl, who today makes a living writing crime novels and has “credibly distanced himself from terrorism,” according to Der Spiegel, helped Abu Daoud in several ways. He helped him forge passports and other documents and drove him “across the country, where he met with Palestinians in several cities,” the magazine quotes Pohl as saying.
I wonder what Steven Spielberg — auteur, with Tony Kushner, of the unconsciously (on Spielberg’s part anyway) anti-Israeli film Munich — must be thinking now that links with the Holocaust have been drawn. As one who has been known to write crime novels myself, the mystery for me is why Spielberg, after Schindler’s List, would make such a film, as if the Israeli vengeance were in any way morally equivalent to the horrendous racist mass murder. I think the answer is Kushner. I doubt Steven, not really a news maven, had any idea of the extent of the playwright’s anti-Zionist animus.
Now that the links between Neo-Nazis and Palestinian terrorists are made manifest, will the director have the courage to disavow his own film? If he really wants to do something for Israel, he should.
Cross-posted from PJ Tatler.
The car of the future hovers of Chengdu:
Meanwhile, that was now, this is then:
I’ve been a tennis fan and player long enough to have watched the 43-year-old Pancho Gonzales defeat the 19-year-old Jimmy Connors in the Pacific Southwest tennis tournament held at the Los Angeles Tennis Club — the club where I now do fitful battle on weekends — back in 1971.
Okay, I admit it. I was already older than Connors then and had already seen a whole galaxy of great tennis players: Lew Hoad, Frank Sedgeman, Jack Kramer, Ken Rosewall, Tony Trabert, etc., etc.
But here’s the thing. Unlike a lot of fields of endeavor (movies, theatre, art, music, etc.), tennis is better now than ever. Two men, both with an argument to be the greatest of all time, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, are going to be battling it out for the French Open title at Roland Garros on Sunday. Don’t miss it.
These guys play a brand of tennis no one would have believed twenty years ago, with a fitness the best of the NBA can only dream of. The last time they met in the finals of a Grand Slam (Australia), it went on for over six hours, non-stop, no substitutions, no real breaks. Who knows what will happen Sunday — and there is so much on the line.
Djoker is out to win his fourth Grand Slam in a row, the first one to pull that off since Rod Laver in 1969; Rafa is out for a record-breaking 7th French Open victory.
Along the way Nole (as Djokovic is called) dispensed with Roger Federer — the man Tiger Woods called the best athlete in the world — in three quick sets, while Nadal blew away everyone, barely facing a break point and losing a scant 35 games in the whole tournament. Only Bjorn Borg had done better, but that was in the days of wood rackets.
From the Daily News:
Eating organic might make you a jerk, a new study suggests.
Researchers have found that people exposed to organic foods are more likely to exhibit judgmental attitudes.
“There’s a line of research showing that when people can pat themselves on the back for their moral behavior, they can become self-righteous,” study author Kendall Eskine, assistant professor of the department of psychological sciences at Loyola University in New Orleans, told NBC’s “Today” show.
For the study, published last week in the Journal of Social Psychological & Personality Science, Eskine and his team split 60 people into three groups.
Lionel Chetwynd and I have been taking a hiatus from Poliwood until recently. Perhaps we were getting tired of the sound of our own voices.
But that was then and this is now and we’re back with a revitalized and we hope (not to be confused with the Obama brand of the same word) a better show. It has a more rigid format – first television, then film and then… here’s the new, new part… an ending segment by Matt Atchity, Editor-in-Chief of Rotten Tomatoes. Matt’s a cool guy with a cool eye on what’s coming out in the cinema. He gets to see all the reviews early. (Hey, someone’s got to read them.)
Anyway, the second of the new shows is up now – The Avengers: Has Hollywood Rediscovered Patriotism?
You can see the YouTube above or check it out on PJTV here. Let us know what you think. Any improvements – we’re game. Also, suggestions on movies or television shows you would like us to discuss.
Cross-posted from Roger L. Simon’s blog.
LA Laker Metta World Peace was given a seven day suspension by the NBA for whacking Oklahoma City’s James Harden in the head with his elbow at the Staples Center the other day, nearly decapitating Harden. With only one game of the NBA season left, this means WP will be out for the first six games of the playoffs.
Not just because PJ Media HQ is within spitting distance of the Lakers’ training facility, there are a fair number of Showtime fans in our company (the CEO and the COO – for two). But a rough poll of them today did not reveal a lot of sympathy (though perhaps a little sadness) for the one time Ron Artest. He may have gotten off easy with seven days.
When I first started patronizing Costco, lo these many years ago, I stayed away from Kirkland products, figuring they were cheesy. No longer. It’s pretty obvious that many of them are name brands under the Kirkland label. Great deals.
Of course, there are mysteries. Is Kirkland Vodka Grey Goose in disguise at half the price? And now, more importantly what’s the “premium small batch Bourbon” they are flogging for eleven bucks? Knob Creek or, as the whiskey cognoscenti say, “KC” – or some lesser brand? A debate is taking place at Rowley’s Whiskey Forge (check the comments). I’ll crack our bottle in a few hours and let you know what I think.
UPDATE: Cocktail hour in the City of Angels and I toasted the sad end of Whitney Houston in a comparison test of the Kirkland Mystery Bourbon and Maker’s Mark, both over rocks. The Kirkland, at 51.5% alcohol, was definitely stronger and, if pressed, I would have to give my nod to the Maker’s Mark, which has been my bourbon-of-choice for some time. Nevertheless, I liked the Kirkland (probably some variant of Knob’s Creek) and, for the price, it’s not to be sneezed at. In fact, I’m about to pour a second round. Over to you, Steve.
Is this ever the end of an era? Steve’s Digicams writes:
Despite the company’s financial difficulties, and analyst recommendations to shut off nonessential parts of the business, this is a headline we didn’t think we’d ever be posting. Kodak – a name that’s been synonymous with cameras as far back as we can remember – is closing the doors on its camera business.
Instead of retail products, Kodak will be focusing on business solutions. You’ll still see Kodak photo kiosks and dry lab stations as well as camera accessories, batteries and printers. They’re also keeping film capture and photo paper in the lineup. Still cameras, digital picture frames and video cameras, on the other hand, are on the way out.
How many of us grew up with Kodak cameras in our hands? To the coming generation Instamatic will be nothing more than an iPhone app. Kodak, clueless for too many years, became an also-ran in the digital age. Thanks for the memories….
Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who’s the greatest tennis player of all?
Well, it’s a matter of opinion, of course. But speaking as one who has been a tennis fanatic from about the age of seven (fan and player), who has seen most everyone live from Rod Laver and Pancho Gonzales onwards, I would have to say Novak Djokovic.
Living in LA and working normal business hours, and having had a tough week anyway, I went to sleep at about 12:30AM, even though I suspected the forthcoming Nadal-Djokovic final in the Australian Open that was about to start in Melbourne would be epic. Restless, I awakened an hour later, went upstairs to watch the two superstars already pummeling each other at the end of the first set, before falling asleep again after an hour or so.
When I finally awoke at 6:30, it was barely over. The two men men had been playing for five hours and fifty-three minutes, before Nola finally prevailed yet again. (For context, the longest previous major final was nearly an hour shorter.)
Talk about fitness. This is like running a couple of marathons while batting a ball back and forth at a hundred miles per hour.
Tiger Woods once called Roger Federer the greatest athlete in the world. Move over and make room for Novak Djokovic – and Rafa Nadal as well. It’s no surprise when these guys pull their shirts off at the end, they are ripped. People used to think of tennis as a namby-pamby gentlemen’s sport. Forget it. These guys could run rings around just about anybody in the NBA and have energy to spare.
A couple of other things about Djokovic. He seems to be a fabulous guy with a great sense of humor. Besides his unbelievable tennis, his winning persona has allowed him to do something else extraordinary – become the face of Serbia, erasing the evil visage of Slobodan Milosovic.