Unrequired Reading: party like it’s 5767

Happy Jewish New Year, dear readers! In honor of Rosh Hashanah, this week’s Unrequired Reading features a bunch of Jewish-connected links and others that have nothing to do with Judaism.

First, we have Michael Totten’s interview with Yaacov Lozowick, author of Right To Exist: A Moral Defense of Israel’s Wars. He thinks neither of the Lebanon wars is defensible, and provides some good insights into the shifting emotional landscape of Israelis during the most recent war.

If the story about Israel’s use of cluster bombs in the war’s last days proves true, that oughtta get categorized as “really REALLY indefensible.”

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Johnny Knoxville isn’t Jewish , but he gets to celebrate our new year with his new movie’s debut. Here’s an interview with him and Jeff Tremaine, the director of Jackass Number Two.

On Howard Stern this week, Knoxville admitted that he got the idea for getting gored by a bull (watch the trailer) from watching a Tom & Jerry cartoon. We’ll probably see the movie tomorrow, along with a shopping expedition to the new Century 21 store in Paramus, and a White Manna run. Because we’re all about the gracious living.

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For its first season or two, The State was one of the funniest television shows ever (I seem to recall the last season completely melting down in attempts at absurdism that went nowhere, as it its wont). Even though every other series in the world has gone DVD, The State languishes in MTV vaults. Good news: the first season is getting released on iTunes’ video store!

I can legitimately tie this into this week’s Jewy theme because of the great skit in which the cast members were all asked to introduce themselves and make a personal confession, as a way of becoming closer to the audience: “I’m Michael Ian Black. My real name is Schwartz, but I changed it because I’m ashamed of being Jewish.”

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My buddy Ian’s not Jewish, but he IS a chief petty officer! Congrats! Check out the pix from the ceremony!

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Cory Maye’s not Jewish either, but there are probably Jews at the law firm that helped get him off death row, pending a new sentencing hearing. Here’s hoping it’s the first step to springing Maye from prison!

Oh, and the “informant” whose tip led to the botched raid that landed Maye on death row probably doesn’t like Jews. He sure doesn’t like black people.

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Rich people don’t always stay rich. Larry Ellison is Jewish, and he spent a ton of money, but he managed to stay rich:

A raft of e-mail messages and financial documents introduced in a lawsuit that disgruntled shareholders filed against Mr. Ellison and other Oracle executives in 2001, give witness to some of Mr. Ellison’s budgeting practices. (The suit was settled last November and the judge in the matter subsequently unsealed financial documents submitted as exhibits in the case). The documents, first reported by The San Francisco Chronicle earlier this year, also show how far Philip E. Simon, an adviser who described himself as Mr. Ellison’s “financial servant,” went in trying to persuade his boss to pay off about $1.2 billion in loans. (Neither Mr. Ellison nor Mr. Simon responded to interview requests for this article).

Mr. Ellison’s ledger around the end of 2000 included annual “lifestyle” spending of about $20 million, the purchase of a Japanese villa for $25 million, a proposed underwater archeology project earmarked for $12 million and his new yacht, budgeted at $194 million (news reports later said that the yacht’s final cost approached $300 million).

“I know you view me as a pessimist,” Mr. Simon wrote Mr. Ellison in an e-mail message in 2002, several months after banks began sounding alarms about Mr. Ellison’s debt. “Maybe you’re right, though I would disagree. Nonetheless, I think it’s imperative that we start to budget and plan. New purchases should be kept to a minimum. We need to establish and execute on a diversification plan to eliminate (yes, eliminate) all debt and build up a significant, conservatively structured, liquid investment portfolio.

“I know you don’t like to discuss this,” Mr. Simon added. “I know this e-mail may/will depress you. View this as a call to arms.”

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During my previous visit to Paris in 2002, I visited some of the monuments and shrines that commemorated the Jews that France shipped out for the camps. There’s plenty of other stuff for us to do this time around, as this BW slideshow sez.

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Sven Nykvist wasn’t Jewish, but he was the cinematographer on several Woody Allen flicks, including one of my favorite movies: Another Woman. (Also, he had an affair with Mia Farrow pre-Woody, which makes their subsequent collaborations just plain weird. On the other hand, Amy & I had exes perform the readings at our wedding, so hey.) He died last week after a long illness.

A few weeks ago, Amy was looking through our Netflix queue, and asked, “What is Light Keeps Me Company and why is it in our queue?”

Yes, she married someone who’s interested in seeing a documentary about a cinematographer. All I can say is, like Rembrandt, Nykvist’s work taught me new ways of seeing light. Rest in peace.

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Tiki culture: something that could bring all the world’s faiths together. Except the ones that prohibit drinking, I guess.

Yo-ho-ho and l’shana tova!

One Reply to “Unrequired Reading: party like it’s 5767”

  1. … and Happy 5767 to you too, my dear son – after such a momentous year in your life, I can only repeat to you and Amy my favourite Irish toast (albeit intended for December 31st, not Tishri 1st): “May the best of the past be the worst of the future” –
    and in our own tradition, it’s time for me to ask your forgiveness if I have (unintentionally of course) insulted, offended or hurt you at any time during the past year 5766 – I need a clean slate before Yom Kippur rolls around, otherwise I’m in BIG trouble when the Book of Life gets sealed in 10 days time! –
    anyway, wish you, and Amy, and all our family and friends a happy, healthy, joyous, successful and peaceful New Year –

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