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Would You Like That Ice Cream in a Cup or a Hitler Cone?

‘Macabre’ Führer-branded treats gain popularity in India

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(Shutterstock)

Apparently, one marketer believes that the likeness of Hitler, a symbol of hatred and murder and bad moustache jobs, is the ticket to ice cream cone sales in India. This has pissed off the German newspaper Bild, which deemed the cones as “macabre.” The Daily Mail has the scoop. (more…)

Portman’s Commencement Speech is Very Real, Very Harvard

‘Jewish mother that I am’ cites A.B. Yehoshua and Menachem Begin

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On Wednesday, Natalie Portman, who graduated from Harvard University in 2003, offered her wisdom to graduating seniors as Class Day speaker. “It’s genuinely one of the most exciting things I’ve ever been asked to do,” Portman said.

In the speech, Portman addressed the release of her emails on Wikileaks, and how she may or may not have been “hungover or freshly high” during Will Ferrell’s speech to her graduating class. She also touted her upcoming Hebrew-language directorial debutA Tale of Love and Darkness.

She also revealed the insecurities she felt as a Freshman at Harvard in the Fall of 1999, and other “dark moments” thereafter, “some combination of being 19, dealing with my first heartbreak, taking birth control pills that have since been taken off of the market for their depressive side effects, and spending too much time missing daylight during winter months.”  (more…)

Blatt’s Cavs Cruise to NBA Finals

LeBron and co. sip bubbly with a ‘flicka da wrist’ in an ice bath

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LeBron James (L) David Blatt at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, May 26, 2015. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

As it turns out, Cleveland does rock.

Last night, the injury-plagued Cavaliers, led by head coach David Blatt and four-time league MVP LeBron James, crushed the injury-plagued Atlanta Hawks 118-88, and booked a ticket to the NBA Finals, which begin June 4. It’s the organization’s second-ever trip to the championship series, and the first since James brought the team to the finals in 2007, when they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs.

In fact, a professional sports team in Cleveland has not won a championship since 1964, when the Browns won the Super Bowl over the Baltimore Colts. (The Indians last won the World Series in 1948; the Cavs have never won a championship.)

“Nothing is easy [in Cleveland],” Blatt said after the game. “We’re not done.”

Playing without star forward Kevin Love, and (for a two-game stretch) point guard Kyrie Irving, the Cavs relied on its ex-Knicks-heavy supporting cast, including J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert, as well as other role players, like the formerly unknown Matthew Dellavedova, to push them over the top. Center Tristan Thompson, who often wears an excellent “get off me, son” scowl, also emerged as a force on the offense glass.

But it was LeBron James (hate on him as I tend to do; Boston homer here), who would not be denied. The Beast of the East averaged nearly a triple-double in the series, a sweep. (LeBron’s 30-11-9 line is just sick.) (more…)

Anti-Anti-Semitic Fundamentalism

Canary Mission turns the fight against hate into a secret witchhunt

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There is something undeniably humorous about Canary Mission, the new website in which unnamed people accuse unknown people of unmentionable crimes. Not intentionally so, of course. The website aims to “expose individuals and groups that are anti-Freedom, anti-American, and anti-Semitic,” which The Forward made clear in an article Wednesday. To that end, it posts photographs, short biographies, and social media information of various pro-Palestinian, pro-boycotting-Israel, and anti-Zionist campus activists. You know, so they can be flamed on Twitter. Or blackballed at their McKinsey interviews.

But, if anything, the site makes pro-Israel activism—or at least anti-anti-Israel activism—look ridiculous. And it’s not just because it capitalizes “Freedom,” as if it’s a sports drink.

For one thing, Canary Mission, whose basic accusation against many of its targets is that they have shadowy funding sources and suspect connections, has shadowy funding sources and connections itself, The Forward notes. It’s not even self-respecting McCarthyism: the good senator from Appleton, Wisc., was willing to show his face.

Second, the site’s list of suspect “organizations” lumps Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood together with lefty websites like Mondoweiss and Electronic Intifada, which are sometimes scurrilous, sometimes helpful, but rarely murderous. Plenty of pro-Israel journalists have occasion to read Mondoweiss (they just do so in secret, and tell their spouses they’re looking at porn).  (more…)

Which Words Still Shock Me? Not Many.

Seven thoughts on obscenity in honor of Carlin’s ‘Seven Words’

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Today, George Carlin’s list of the seven words you can’t say on television—shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, tits—barely elicits a yawn. Most of us are inured to what was once quaintly called “salty language.” But in that same monologue, Carlin noted, “There are no bad words. [There are] bad thoughts, bad intentions.” And that wisdom is timeless. So on the anniversary of this historic performance, here are six times words actually shocked me, and one time they didn’t. (Warning: This essay contains salty language.)

1. In 2012, I was shocked when Sarah Silverman offered to scissor Sheldon Adelson if he’d donate $100 million to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign instead of Mitt Romney’s. Part of the shock came from Silverman’s sweet delivery, part from the unasked-for visual of Silverman grinding her crotchal region against the antediluvian fluorescent-haired billionaire’s, and part from Silverman’s helpful attempt to demo scissoring on her very small dog. The word “scissor” is, of course, not inherently dirty. In context, though, it was more gobsmackingly horrifying (and funnier) than any four-letter word could ever be. As Carlin put it, “Words are all we have really…thoughts are fluid. Woo-woo-woo. But then we assign a word to that thought—click!” Scissoring suddenly clicked. Joltingly.

2. In London recently, I was taken aback by the casual use of the word “cunt.” Cunt is the only word on Carlin’s list I never use; to me it feels misogynistic and vicious in a way the others don’t. I knew British people didn’t view “cunt” as gender-inflected and hateful the way Americans do, but actually hearing it used affectionately by mates on the street was eye-opening. (Our British intern Jas assured me that it’s still dirtier than “fuck,” so at least there’s that.) I think about latter-day Carlin explaining the difference between “pissed at” (which, he pointed out, became acceptable to say on TV) and “pissed on” (which, he said, you still can’t say on network television)—and yes, he was right: context is everything. (more…)

Wouk and Remembrance: The Author Turns 100

The creator of ‘Marjorie Morningstar’ has a new memoir

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Herman Wouk in New York City, May 7, 2006. (Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

What happens when you turn 100? You get a letter from the President, you gum a little cake, maybe you talk to your grandchildren—the ones who are still alive, anyway.

And if you’re Herman Wouk, the author of massively best-selling works of mid-century fiction such as The Winds of War and Marjorie Morningstar, who turns 100 today? You commemorate your own centenary birthday by publishing Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100 Year Old Author, a forthcoming memoir that focuses on Wouk’s World War II service in the Navy, which will also contain reflections on his abiding Jewish faith, a recurring theme in all of his work.

And good for him. If, Pulitzer Prize notwithstanding, Wouk never quite got the respect of his contemporaries—his point of view was too conformist, too duty-bound, too orthodox for the age of the literary enfant terrible he inhabited, with its gleeful and uninhibited portrayals of sex, rebellion, and bourgeois hypocrisy—then he’s won a final, if somewhat Pyrrhic victory by outliving them all.  (more…)

Today in History: Carlin Performs ‘ Seven Words’

Lenny Bruce’s ‘obscene’ routines inspired Carlin whose views on the politics of language remain influential

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George Carlin in New York City, October 18, 2004. (Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)

On December 5, 1962, comedian Lenny Bruce, who by that time had been blacklisted at clubs around the U.S., performed at the Gate of Horn club in Chicago. Bruce, then 37, was a large influence on a 25-year-old George Carlin who was in the audience that day. At one point during the show, a reportedly plain clothes cop stood up and said, “show’s over ladies and gentleman, everybody have a seat.” According to Carlin, the police began to check the IDs of the audience members so they could catch underage attendees at Bruce’s racy show, and get the club in trouble.

“I was good and juiced by the time they go to [me,]” said Carlin. And when it was his turn to hand over ID, Carlin told the authorities, “I don’t believe in ID.”

Carlin was thrown in a paddy wagon, and Bruce was arrested on obscenity charges—for saying “fuck” and “tits.”

Ten years later, on May 27, 1972, George Carlin recorded his Class Clown album, including the legendary “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” track. In Carlin’s book, Last Words, he writes about his state going into the show, and the recording of the album:

I had to say to myself, “I want to be sharp and clean and clear tonight. No cocaine.” My diction on it is remarkably lucid. In other words, I was already using enough cocaine that I had to think consciously about not using it to record an album.

A year and a half after Carlin’s gig, a father and his 15-year-old son heard Carlin’s routine on the radio, which set off a legal storm that continues to influence the media in our lives, and even the role of parenting. Here’s The Atlantic, on the series of events Carlin’s routine set into motion(more…)

Comedy Legend Anne Meara Dies

Logged 36 appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show with husband Jerry Stiller

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Anne Meara and husband Jerry Stiller in New York City, June 4, 2012. (Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

Actress and comedienne Anne Meara died on Saturday, May 23 in Manhattan. She was 85.

Meara was born in Brooklyn on September 20, 1929, the only child to Edward Meara, a lawyer, and Mary Dempsey, who committed suicide two years before Anne hit her teens. When Meara was 18 she spent a year as part of the New School’s Dramatic Workshop, an experience that ignited her desire for a career in the performing arts.

In 1953, Meara met Jerry Stiller. Reports the Los Angeles Times:

In his 2000 memoir, “Married to Laughter,” Stiller wrote that he took the upset, “angel-faced” young woman to a coffee shop, where she bemoaned the lecherous men of New York.

“A guy started following me down Broadway,” Meara told him. “He must’ve known I was an actress. I had a portfolio and was wearing makeup. When he got real close, he stated saying dirty words. I started to limp, hoping it would turn him off.

“’Keep it up, sweetheart,’ he said. `I love women with afflictions!'”

They married a year later, “but it would be some time before they began working as a team,” reports the New York Times. “The idea, they both agreed, was his; she did not think of herself as a comedian, but because work was scarce she reluctantly agreed.”

“The last thing I wanted was to be a comedienne,” Meara said(more…)

Bibi Tabs Dore Gold as Foreign Ministry Chief

Netanyahu tightens his grip

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Former Isreali Ambassador to the UN Dore Gold in Wye Mills, MD, October 21, 1998.( Luke Frazza/AFP/Getty Images)

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also the country’s foreign minister and communications minister, fired Nissim Ben-Shitrit from the position of director-general of the Foreign Ministry, a position into which he had been appointed by Avigdor Lieberman, the former Israeli foreign minister. Netanyahu then replaced Ben-Shitrit with Dore Gold, a long-time political ally who served under him as foreign policy adviser during his first term as Prime Minister in 1996. Gold has acted as Netanyahu’s foreign policy adviser since December 2013, billing around 200,000 shekels a year, reports Haaretz(more…)

‘Jeopardy!’ Champ Flubs Jewish-Themed Final Question

Trebek: ‘Whenever people to go temple… they sing Kinky Boots!’

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'Jeopardy!' host Alex Trebek in Culver City, California, April 17, 2010. (Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)

Oh, wit. Your bite can be so luscious, especially in the land of Jeopardy!

On yesterday’s episode, Alex Trebek posed the following question to his three contestants, including defending champion Choyon Manjrekar:

A CHRISTIAN HYMN & A JEWISH HOLIDAY HYMN ARE BOTH TITLED THIS, ALSO THE NAME OF A 2009 TONY-NOMINATED MUSICAL

Have at it. I’ll wait.  (more…)

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