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The Plots Thicken in Foreign Markets

From LA Times: Although the overseas markets have been very good to the industry, they have not produced the riches once imagined, given the size of the potential audience.

Some blockbusters such as "Spider-Man" and the "Star Wars" movies virtually sell themselves because of the simplicity of their plots, their muscular action scenes and dazzling special effects. But most of Hollywood's exports require the sensibilities of a cultural anthropologist to understand the nuances and norms of countries around the globe.

TV Shows Trading Celluloid for Pixels

From LA Times: This fall, the major networks have 37 programs--or nearly 30% of their prime-time lineup--shot in high-definition, with more on the way at midseason. Last year only three shows were shot this way.

On the other hand, the current high-definition cameras are bulkier and capture less detail than 35mm film cameras. They also present a new set of creative and technical challenges--for example, they have trouble handling sunlight streaming through windows--and they tend to deliver a harsher look than film, cinematographers say.

Luke Meets A Rabbi Who Loves Him

Since I was a goy, I've chased after shiksas. I know I'm a wicked man. I've been told that all my life. I don't observe all the laws of the Torah as I should. I lust in my heart, and other places too, include Coffee Bean.

So I'm used to Ashkenazi Orthodox rabbis throwing me out of their shuls. I figure I deserve it.

On Tuesday, something weird happened.

My friend Fred phoned at 8:30AM. "There's some guy calling from Israel. He wants you to meet his father who's a big Sephardic rabbi visiting LA. He read about you in an Israeli newspaper. Let me threeway you."

Israeli man comes on the line: "My father, Rabbi [Gadol] gets thousands of people to do teshuvah [repentance]. Have you heard of him?"

Luke: "Not sure."

Israeli: "He's very popular in the Jewish world. He'll go speak before one thousand people. He's a very good speaker. He has 25,000 students in Israel. He has many universities and many yeshivas. He is very ruchanim. He has a big heart.

"Yesterday he came to LA. I think it is a very good idea for you to meet him and get a blessing. A lot of people want to come to him. Prime minister, millionaires, everybody. It's very hard to get him. I told him to make an appointment with you, somebody with a very good heart.

"I also study a little bit of Torah. I'm also studying acting in New York for six months. You just tell my father you're in Hollywood. You know a lot of people. You have power and influence to bring people to peace.

"He came to LA to build a building for 5000 people. A lot of people want to give him, $20,000, this, this, that... I don't want money. I want you to see him. You know people like Steven Spielberg, who are Jewish?"

Luke: "Yes, I know some Jews in Hollywood."

Israeli: "If you see my father, if you see his eyes, they are unbelievable. There's a thousand years in there. He is 53 years old. He has big big power. He can tell you everything about yourself. He is very famous in the Jewish world.

"He speaks Hebrew and French good and Moroccan. Believe me, you'll understand him. He speaks every language. He speaks with the heart. He's unbelievable. He's very big.

"Bring him something from the heart because he's been sick. My father wrote a blessing for a friend and now he has everything good.

"I saw something in the newspaper about you and I feel you have a big heart and I want to help.

"I have five companies in Israel. I have a big company in London. Do you know Uri Geller? I'm connected to many people in the world. I like Torah and business."

So I do some research and find out Rabbi Gadol (not his real name) is the real deal. He is a huge rabbi in Israel. I learn something about the Sephardim. Askenazi religious Jews tend to throw up huge walls between themselves. Religious Ashkenazi Jews tend to shun secular and less religious Ashkenazi Jews. But the Sephardim operate differently. They never broke up into divisions of Reform, Conservative and Orthodox. All their shuls are nominally Orthodox but they welcome everyone.

Highly religious Sephardim, aka the 'charedim' (God fearers) don't wall themselves off from less religious Jews. They welcome them. They're more tolerant. They urge them to move slowly with their religiosity.

So I learned all this and got some hope.

So Friday, I get a call from Michael. He tells me to meet him at a Sephardi synagogue at 9PM Saurday night, 10/5/02 and he gives me his cell phone number.

Saturday night, after the end of the Sabbath, I call Michael. No answer. I call again. No answer. I decide to show up anyway, clutching Rabbi Emmanuel Feldman's popular tome 'Biblical and Post-Biblical Defilment and Mourning: Law as Theology' (bookstores can barely keep it in stock it's so popular), having no idea what Michael looks like.

I sit in the back. There's loud enthusiastic Sephardic rock musc. Then a video about Rabbi Gadol and his Godly work in Israel reaching out to non-religious Jews and teaching them Torah.

About 10PM, Rabbi Gadol arrives. Loud music blares. It's like the entrance of a rock star. People are kissing his hands, reaching out to touch him. People are ecstatic. I sit in the back. I stay away. I'm not such a righteous person. I don't want to contaminate this great rabbi.

And this rabbi suddenly stops at my row. He starts shaking everyone's hand. He heads right for me. He has a huge smile on his face. He radiates love. He says my name. My English name - Luke. I nod my head. I say, 'David', his son. I make my hand like a telephone to communicate that his son David from Jerusalem got me to come here.

This great rabbi embraces me and pulls me towards the back of the shul. The whole shul is staring at me. Normally this is terrible for me because with much scrutiny, everyone quickly sees what a wicked person I am. Most Ashkenazi Orthodox rabbis, if they knew of my past, would not come within 20 feet of me.

But this rabbi embraces me and showers me with blessings and introduces me to Michael and other important people. And I become the star of the evening, the belle of the ball.

At 11:30PM, we go upstairs for refreshments and Rabbi Gadol pours a drink for me and selects a plate of food for me and gives it to me. I'm overwhelmed. I get more blessings and embraces from him. Flash bulbs are going on. A man with a video camera is capturing everything. Suddenly everyone wants to talk to me and invite me to Sabbath meals.

Now, since my great fall from Ashkenazi Orthodox Jewish grace, about 15 months ago, hardly anyone in my Orthodox community has said hello to me. Almost nobody invites me for Sabbath and holiday meals. I sit home alone in my hovel and curse the world.

Tonight I'm treated like a righteous man. My cheeks burn. I'm terribly embarrassed. I'm not so righteous. I feel guilty to take this great rabbi's time. I feel guilty that there should be pictures of him talking to me and hugging me.

So, I'm overwhelmed and feeling very loved.

The great rabbi speaks Sunday night. He only speaks Hebrew and there will be no translator. But I will be there. Why? Because a hug needs no translation. Any rabbi who's willing to hug a dirty boy like me, well, I'll go hear him speak in any language.

Cynics can say the great rabbi wants my money, but as any loyal reader should know, I have no money. And I can't exactly deliver Steven Spielberg on a platter.

Who is the biggest ass writing about movies on the internet?

Filmthreat.com is conducting a poll. The ten choices include Harry Knowles, David Poland, Jeffrey Wells, Moriarty... How many of these guys are married? Aside from Chris Gore. I bet most of them are single and secular, which is why they can't appreciate heartwarming family fare like My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie.

The folks who make movies, write movies and review movies are generally people without a stable family life and organized religion, which is why they churn out and yearn for such jaded, shocking and frequently anti-social material like Pulp Fiction.

Words Have Consequences

Orthodox rabbis Yizchok Adlerstein and Yitzchak Etshalom visited Jerusalem this summer and spoke to foreign journalists. Now they write in the Jewish Journal:

Suicide bombing is so horrific, they [journalists] claimed, that telling the story of its perpetrators could not possibly diminish normal people’s revulsion for it. It should, they expected, do just the opposite.

But what if it didn’t really work that way? What if they learned, for example, that a story they wrote about a teenage bomber so fascinated a kid in Des Moines that he blew up himself and a school bus of his peers? Would they have any regrets? None, they insisted. Their job was to report the news, regardless of how the readership processed it. They could not be responsible for that.

With all the differences in background and personality, they all offered the same reasoning. The response was so uniform that it had to be part of their training. They had arrogated to themselves a privilege few of us have: hermetically sealing themselves off from the consequences of their words.

Nervous Laughter Fails to Mask Luke's Growing Doubts

Chaim Amalek writes: Admit it. The doubts that led this woman to abandon the Judaism that she embraced as an adult for Christianity are not unknown to you. You increasingly see the emptiness of Jewish rabbinical thought and religious practice, and want something more, something that you do not find in Rabbi Pumpkin's faith.

You may have framed this as a joke, but it is a pretty nervous joke, is it not? You wonder why all the interesting cool women you read about or have relations with are Christian. You sense the tug of another faith.

You need Judaism like a fish needs a bicycle. Time for you to take the next step in life. Let's both go to Church and pray.

JRob writes: Luke, Luke, Luke. Debating over which religion (judaism v. christianity) to choose is the same as debating over which procedure is best for lobotomizing oneself. In the end one becomes brainless. Rationality over superstition is best. Religion is intellectual suicide. There may be times when you truly believe that god is speaking to you and helping you with your life choices. Remember that any time you do something, even if it is a very, very, very good thing, because the voice in your head tells you to, you need medication. It is called schizophrenia.

Think Your Crowd is Too Good for Me, Eh?

Chaim Amalek writes: You miserable putz, going to fancy Hollywood parties while I languish here in New York binge eating Mexican rice and burritos at Taco Bell. (I usually go to the one on 14th Street, as the one on 4th Street is a bit too gamey for me). What makes you so special? You have no money, no degrees, no credentials. All you have is your fancy goyishe punim and bogus "jewish" credentials. Now you think you are the cock of the walk. Well sir, you are the cock of nothing.

Let it be known that every time I have traveled cross-country via Greyhound to visit Luke, he has not invited me to any of his fancy parties, but instead only takes me to jewish events full of the very women he admits he does not find attractive.

Could This Woman Be My Bershert?

I write that headline sarcastically because so many Orthodox Jews I know believe I will end up returning to Christianity.

Khunrum writes: "Another neurotic weirdo who probably doesn't put out. Yeah! She'd be great for you."

Luke replies: "You're wrong... This girl is a looker and she enjoys a good time in a hotel room."

Amalek18: I'll bet she is way hotter than the vulgur Jewesses now writing about sex (Amy Sohn, et al.)

Fred writes: She is clearly the one for LF:

1. Claims to cling to a higher religous moral order, but doesn't really obey the commandments;
2. Schtuppes a lot;
3. Converted from one religion into another, where she is almost certainly destined to become personna non grata;
4. Probably a young cutie and a shiksa with a fairly good knowledge of religion.

I have nothing against the Church of England, but I would have a problem converting to a religion that exists only because Henry VIII wanted to dump his ugly wife (Catherine of Aragon) and hitch up with a hot young cutie (Anne Boleyn). What ever happened to joining a religion that arose out of a vision from God (Abraham, Mohammed, Joseph Smith) or enlightment (e.g. Buddha) rather than horniness?

Anyway, Luke, get ahold of her e-mail address and propose marriage. If nothing else, I think you'll amuse each other.

Khunrum chides: Too much dogma counselor. Let's put some fun into religion i.e.. The Branch Dividians...bring on the girls...

Fred replies: The problem with Koresh is that only the cult leader got to schtuppe the fair young maidens. Now, on the other hand, the polygamist Mormons basically said you could have a stable of cuties as large as you wanted, and they weren't real big on age-of-consent laws.

Chaim writes: A happy life cannot be based on empty sarcasm, uttered from the sterile McBoxes of Silicon Valley. Admit it Fred, we on this list all wish we were living the sort of life that she seems to have.

Luke says: Someone like Lauren Winner who is most interested in personal salvation and a personal relationship with God will usually choose Christianity. Judaism instead emphasizes the community. It's not primarily about personal satisfaction.

Judaism does not put much stock in dreams like Lauren's as the guide to religious truth.

From the 10/4/02 Wall Street Journal:

In her freshman year at Columbia University in New York, after years of studying and somewhat tortured consideration, she [Columbia doctoral student Lauren Winner] immersed herself in the ritual bath, the mikvah, and converted. And thus Ms. Winner spent her college years doing things that were considered exceedingly weird by most of her peers: She wore long skirts, never exposed her upper arms, kept a kosher kitchen, didn't engage in random sex--indeed in her entire undergraduate career, she went to only two parties outside the orthodox Jewish community.

In short, she did everything a good orthodox Jewish woman should do, right down to baking two loaves of challah every Friday. Except for one thing. She began to doubt. And she had a dream about Jesus. She woke up in a state of certitude, deeply convinced that the dream was sent from God and that Jesus was "real and true and sure." By her senior year, Ms. Winner was feeling both disaffected from the orthodox Jewish community and spiritually blah. She was, in the God-talk phrase, having a dry spell. And, of course, there was that dream.

So Ms. Winner focused her scholarly attention on Christianity: She read books; she wrote papers about the Great Awakening. And, a few years later, when she was at Cambridge University getting a master's degree, she was baptized into the Church of England and became a Christian. A committed Christian--Ms. Winner has mastered the Book of Common Prayer, is active in a church, studies the Bible, practices a prayer discipline and worries about sin.

But the Cambridge experience did not end her anxieties. How could she go back to Columbia for doctoral study--to a neighborhood where everyone knew her as an orthodox Jew--and present herself as a cross-wearing Christian? Her first strategy, which she now admits was suboptimal, was not to tell anyone. She didn't want to appear ditsy. After all, she says good-humoredly, "it is flaky to be religious at all, and then it is really flaky to switch religions from orthodox Judaism to orthodox Christianity."

Lauren Winner writes in Christianity Today: When people ask for my conversion story, from Jew to Anglican, I always emphasize the pro-Christian parts. I brush away my qualms about Judaism with a quick "and then, because I had grown increasingly disaffected from the Orthodox community…. " To say more, it seems, is to commit an even greater act of treachery against the Jewish community that nurtured me for so long than, say, getting baptized. It is to say, I left not only because there was this great new thing out there, this Christian thing, but also because there were all these unsatisfactory, unsatisfying features of Orthodox life.

I hesitate to say those things because the Jews with whom I have had the privilege to pray, study, sing, and eat are among the most loving and insightful people I know, and they have taught me almost everything important that I know about God. Not the Jesus part, no, but there is a lot about God you can learn before you learn about his son. I learned about God as creator, forgiver, lover, father, mother, quiet in-dwelling presence, and judge. There was one thing I did not learn: how to have an intimate relationship with Him.

And as such, everything I learned about God was incomplete. Take my Jewish understanding of prayer. One of the things that drew me to the Anglican church, one of the guarantors that I was baptized in the Church of England and not a Baptist or Methodist church, was liturgy. As a baby Christian, I took liturgy for granted; after all, I was used to saying set prayers, some times at shul and sometimes by myself at home, three times a day. That was the bedrock of my religious life, and, as such, of my life, period, on days when I could not force myself out of bed in time for synagogue, on days when I was supremely annoyed with God, on days when I really craved a piece of pepperoni pizza, on days when the last thing I felt like doing was being religious, I said set prayers. However, there were days when I wanted to do something more. When I wanted to talk to God about my boyfriend or my mother or the weather.

I once asked a learned friend about this. He grabbed a prayerbook, flipped it open to the Amidah, and pointed to the paragraph where, traditionally, people have inserted a few unliturgical words of thanks or petition. But what, I asked, if I want more than 30 seconds in the middle of the Amidah?

"Look," my friend said, "why don't you work on making sure you're saying the liturgy without fail. Then make sure you're saying all the additional prescribed blessings without fail, like before you eat, and after you pee, and when you see a rainbow. Then make sure you are saying these prayers with kavannah [intention]. There's really nothing you could need to pray about that's not covered somewhere in this prayerbook. So when you've mastered all these prayers with true kavannah, then if you still want to add something additional, come back and talk to me about it."

Which is why I was so thrilled to learn that at church I could have both: liturgy and Quiet Time. Liturgy and lectio divina. Liturgy and Tevye-like chats with God.

More on Lauren Winner

Sex and the Single Evangelical

Gene Edward Veith writes on djchuang.com: Miss Winner begins by describing a nice evening among friends. Someone asks her where she and her boyfriend were last night. "Our whereabouts," she writes, "had been a hotel room. A hotel room with a lone king-size bed."

Then Miss Winner recounts the shock expressed by her Christian friend: "'I can't believe you two,' Sarah said.... 'Perhaps you've noticed that the Bible forbids this sort of thing?' ... Sarah glanced my way. 'I suppose that's what you get when you're dealing with the world's favorite evangelical whore.'"

The major problem with Miss Winner's article, though, is its tone of self-righteousness. She and her friends are good persons. The church needs to recognize how good she is by changing its standards and its language that might suggest otherwise.

Lauren Winner writes on Beliefnet.com: My unmarried evangelical friends, I think, are fairly representative. Some of them are virgins. Seriously chaste virgins. Others are virgins in Bill Clinton's sense: in the tactful euphemism of my friend Sheila, they "entertain through other orifices" nightly.

Then there are those who do have sex, like Jill, a Wheaton College grad who lost her virginity in the Billy Graham Center.

The problem isn't that Sarah made my sex life her business. It's that her evangelical vocabulary left her with nothing to say but "whore."

A Slippery Slope Into Debauchery

Lauren Winner writes on Beliefnet.com: Paul M. turned up at his pastor's house five weeks ago, in the middle of the night. "In the pouring rain," says Paul. "It was like something out of a movie. But I was desperate, and that's what pastors are for, right?"

Paul hadn't committed murder, or realized he was an alcoholic. He wasn't flirting with atheism. He was spending two hours a day glued to his computer screen, hooked on web porn. Paul--a Boston-based 28-year-old graduate student in sociology--says praying with his pastor put him on the right track. But he's not taking any chances."For now, my computer is in the garage."

A Baptist who was born again at age 12, he says he used to "walk right with the Lord." But once he was hooked on web porn, he began skidding down what could have been "a slippery slope into debauchery."

Violating The Sabbath To Watch The Angels?

Talkshow host Hugh Hewitt is going to a church retreat this weekend. So he gave his two tickets to the Angels playoff game against the Yankees Saturday afternoon to fellow talkshow host Dennis Prager. DP spent two hours of his radio show today discussing why he won't go to the game because it violates his Jewish Sabbath.

According to an Orthodox Jewish perspective, Prager publicly desecrates the Sabbath every Sabbath by driving, to a Reform synagogue no less.

DP spent two hours discussing the matter on his show today. I've heard him spend about 30 hours of his radio show discussing this same thing. He brings it up frequently.

Prager said today (10/4/02) he was not going to the game not because he feared God would punish him. Prager does not believe God punishes people for violating his so-called ritual laws like the Sabbath but only for violations of ethical commandments, such as not cheating. Where does Prager find support for this view in Jewish text?

In the shma, which Jews are supposed to say three times a day, it says, quoting Deuteronomy, that God will bless Israel if it keeps God's commandments and punish it if it doesn't. There's no mention of a distinction say, between the laws of adultery and the laws of business ethics and the laws of the Sabbath.

DP says he keeps the Sabbath for his own sake. It makes him happier. DP believes he will be happier in the long run by observing the Sabbath.

DP believes that God gave the Ten Commandments, and if he didn't believe there was a divine element to it, he would be looser in his observance.

But Prager is inconsistent here. I've often heard him say that because God says do not commit adultery, that is a powerful reason for men to not commit adultery. But the Seventh Commandment, in its literal Biblical meaning, only applies to married women. Married men in the Biblical time were allowed to have sex outside of marriage with concubines. Only later rabbinic decrees forbade married Jewish men from sex with concubines. It's the same rabbinic crew that forbids the use of electricity on the Sabbath and driving on the Sabbath, prohibitions Prager does not observe.

A friend called and asked me what I would do if it was a key sporting event for my team, the Dallas Cowboys. I said I would not go publicly to a sporting event on the Sabbath or some other secular event. But if it were a key game, like the Cowboy playoff game against the St. Louis Cowboys about four years ago, I might watch the game alone at home. It still violates the Sabbath but it does not do so publicly, which is a much more severe sin, because it brings down the community.

DP: "I gave up a lucrative drive-time opportunity, which would have changed my career for the better, because I would not do an afternoon radio show that would've required I broadcast after the onset of the Sabbath on Friday afternoons."

Prager does broadcast on yom tov sheni (the extra day of Jewish holy days that traditional Jews observe in the diaspora but Prager does not observe).

This discussion reminds me of a ridiculous discussion I had on a recent Sabbath. I was raised a Seventh Day Adventist. Like Jews, SDAs observe the Sabbath from Friday night to Saturday night. An Orthodox Jewish woman said to me, 'Gentiles are not allowed to keep the Sabbath.'

There's a Jewish Law that Gentiles, on penalty of death, are not allowed to keep the Sabbath. Now, this like many parts of the Jewish tradition, makes no sense to me. I'm not going to deride it. I don't know enough.

But as I said to this woman, what are you going to do? Christians, like Jews, believe they inherit the Hebrew Bible and its traditions and laws. They interpret most of it differently from Jews. So some Christians are going to keep the Seventh Day Sabbath? What are you going to do? Throw rocks at them, verbal or real? I think it is a beautiful thing that many non-Jews keep the Sabbath.

Male Sex Columnists

Erin O'Connor writes: Glenn Reynolds is deeply displeased with the New York Times' belated and slanted coverage of the hallowed tradition of campus sex columny. Glenn has been following the phenomenon for quite some time now, and he speaks with authority on the subject. One question he has asked repeatedly: Why are all the campus sex columnists women? Our theory is that a man could not be a campus sex columnist in today's male-unfriendly campus culture. When women students write provocative, often self-revealing columns about sex, when they opine about desire and deliver precociously expert advice, they are celebrating sexuality and expressing their own liberation. They are titillating readers while at the same time making a feminist statement. They are loved by all (except certain campus conservatives, whose sensibilities do not count in the moral calculus of campus culture).

But if a male student were to write columns on, say, oral sexual technique (as Yale sex columnist Natalie Krinsky has famously done) he and his paper would be up on harassment charges so fast it would make our puritanical academic heads spin. There would be protests, possibly even stolen press runs. There would be sensitivity workshops and the paper would face defunding. Men, after all, do not have a sexuality that can stand up to public exposure. They are, after all, potential rapists, each and every one. Male sexuality is no laughing matter and should not be treated lightly--and playfully--in the inky pages of a student rag.

I Visit The Hollywood Canteen And Encounter The Ultimate Temptation


9:23PM. My friend Aaron calls.

Aaron: "Are you ready to rockn'roll?"

Luke: "I think I might just stay home."

Aaron: "Dude, I was afraid you'd say that. Dude, I invited you to this party because I thought you'd enjoy it. If I had known you weren't coming, I would've invited someone else. Now it's too late for me."

Luke: "You're right. I'll come. I'll see you in 15 minutes."

I drove to the Hollywood Canteen at 1006 Seward. When we walked in, there were only 20 people there but the place became crowded within an hour of largely industry people in their 30s. Many of them were the ultimate temptation - non-Jewish females.

The first women I talk to is Maria Faillace - a high-powered creative executive at Fox 2000. A cute but tough brunette, she wears a long-sleeved white dress shirt and blue jeans. She's intelligent and has a no-nonsense attitude. She seems comfortable with wielding power and knows how to make people fear her. Maria seems to know a lot of people at the party and doesn't appear needy to talk to strangers.

Maria reminds me of a movie producer I met in a Succah a couple of weeks ago. When asked what he did, he said "communications" because he didn't want to get more specific. Such people know that they are in much-envied jobs.

Maria says she's only called on to movie sets when there's bad news.

Maria is overseeing what she says is the first English-language latino film with actors from Mexico to Puerto Rico to South America.

I'm introduced to actors Robert Peters (white guy from Oklahoma) and Shawna M. Richardz (a blonde frizzy-haired black chick from the Bronx).

Robert just shot a pilot for a show about fishing and supermodels. He starred with Claudia Schiffer.

I pump the actors for recommendations on which producers I should interview. Robert recommends Barrie M. Osbourne (Lord of the Rings). "He's a classy guy," says Robert. "He returns all his calls."

Shawna recommends Gerrit van der Meer and J. Boyce Harman Jr.. "It was my first film. They were old-school Hollywood guys. They knew what they were doing. A lot of people now just like the title 'producer.' Gerrit and Boyce were television producers. They knew how to produce a film for a low budget."

Shareem writes on Imdb.com about Personals: "A small, independent film, it's about a writer who spends more time womanizing than writing (Yoba, at his best), so he decides to write about that. His article--30 women in 30 days--is based on research in Personals ads. The movie's a kind of screwball comedy with a soul and brains. The succession of women he meets are all dressed to get laid, and all but one or two(esp. Dash, with a lot of exposed flesh) are strictly played for laughs. The comedy is real, to-the-point stuff, but peppered with pithy, truth-telling dialogue (bravo, Mike Sargent). Unfortunately, Yoba's best friend's wife is the only female who comes off as a fully realized character."

In the year 2000 movie, Acts of Worship, Shawn played a hooker and in Fits and Starts (2001) she played a stripper.

Shawna: "What would you cast me as? I've played a drug addict, a dumb actress, and a loudmouthed friend. What do all those have in common?"

Luke: "You must be quite an actress to pull all those roles off?"

Shawna: "I'm not playing it. I'm serious. I'm very talented. I studied with the best. Tony Grecco. Susan Batson is in town for the next two weeks. She did the Nicole Kidman thing, the Tom Cruise thing, the Jennifer Connelly thing. Then she's going back to Hungary. She's coaching Jennifer Connelly on her new film."

Aaron: "Did you ever study with Yaakov Deyo?"

Shawna: "Who's that?"

Yaakov Deyo is an Aish Ha Torah rabbi who converted to Judaism and now runs Aish Ha Torah's speed dating program.

Aaron: "He's well known in the community."

Shawna: "Is that an LA person?"

Aaron: "He's LA and the Middle East. He goes all over."

Shawna: "Do you know the group Tool? I want that to be my soundtrack. I want to kick people's ass [in a film]. I know that I'm very talented and I can do like comedy and I can do drama but I just want to kick people's ass. I just want to fight. I want to run around in a bikini kicking people's ass with Tool in the background."

Luke: "Do you feel frustrated that there are fewer roles for African-Americans?"

Shawna: "I don't even think about that. I want to get powerful representation. I need a powerful team behind me.

"With Halle getting an Oscar, it's so much better for everybody. She told somebody very dear to me that it is up to us to take it to the next level."

Luke: "What did you think of her acceptance speech?"

Shawna: "I had to watch it three times afterwards because I was on the floor screaming I was so happy. I was out of control."

Luke: "Robert was on the floor screaming with joy and happiness too, right?"

Robert: "I thought she deserved the Academy award."

Luke: "What did you think of her acceptance speech?"

Robert: "I thought it was poignant in a way but she didn't need to say some of what she said. I thought she should've kept it simple. I watched the Academy Awards the day after with Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks."

Shawna emphatically disagrees: "She's now in the history books."

Robert: "She would've been in the history books without that speech."

Shawna: "She had so many people to thank. Lena Horne. All these people she thanked have never even been nominated. Jennifer Connelly gets up there, and even Roger Ebert said it the next day, the nerve of her to get up there and just thank three people and get off the stage, as though you win an Oscar ever day. That's her reality.

"Halle deserved to say that long speech because do you know as a little girl how many times I turned on the TV and never saw anyone who looked halfway like me? Jennifer Connelly has been looking at herself on television since she was a little girl. Halle made a monumental speech. I can't stand when people get up there and act like it's some normal shit."

Robert to Luke: "What did you think?"

Luke: "I thought that this is a really screwd-up deeply troubled unhappy person. And she is."

Robert agreed.

Shawna: "That's your reality. You are three men who are white. Your reality is that you walk down the street and you don't have to deal with the barriers that we have to deal with as women of color."

Robert: "No, no. That's not where it comes from."

Luke: "Look at Denzel Washington."

Shawna yells: "He won an Oscar before."

Robert: "Two perfect people - Denzel Washington and Sidney Poitier."

Shawna: "Denzel is how old? Halle is 35 and she wins an Oscar? I would've gone up there and fainted. That you would say she's troubled."

Luke: "She is. It's so obvious from her speech."

Shawna: "I'm sorry you feel that way. You weren't the person who wanted to go in to audition for stuff and they didn't see black girls. Her manager fought for her to get everything she got. I don't care if it was the bullsh-- TV show she did ten years ago. They weren't interested in black girls ten years ago. They weren't interested in anybody who looked like that."

Luke: "I look on TV and there's almost no one like me. I [aspire] to be an Orthodox Jew. There are almost no Orthodox Jews on TV. But that's irrelevant to me because I don't look to movies and TV for anything more than entertainment."

Shawna: "Well, I did and so did she. That's our reality. I was raised as a latch-key child. I go home and put on the TV every day. For her to be raised by a white mom and her black dad nowhere to be found, and she decides she wants to be an actor?

"If you won an award, you'd just go up there and no emotion..."

Luke: "I'd be restrained. I thought she was over the top. I thought director James Cameron was over the top too about Titanic."

Shawna: "No, because he put his money on the line. He took no salary. He deserved to stand up there and thank everybody he had to thank."

Halle Berry only thanked blacks in her speech. As reported by the LA Times: "Oh, my God," Berry said, her mouth agape, almost unable to comprehend the moment as tears streamed down her cheeks. "I'm sorry," she said in halting gasps, as she clasped the gold statuette. "This moment is so much bigger than me. This moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll. It's for the women who stand beside me, Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox, and the nameless, faceless women of color who now stand a chance tonight because the door has been opened. I thank the academy for choosing me to be the vessel ...."

Dennis Prager: "Is Hollywood that racist that there has been a block to black actors? Compare Sidney Poitier's dignified talk to Halle Berry's overwrought cry... Halle went on and on, crying, almost out of control, about winning an award for a movie. It was no breakthrough against racism.

"Here's why I think she cried. Her tears were more personal. She's had a troubled life. She was involved in a hit and run accident. She's had a string of abusive relationships. She wanted the moment to be greater than it was. She thanked her mother, who is white. Interesting that she used "women of color" instead of "black women." Why is a woman of a white mother and a black father a black woman? Why isn't she a white woman? Her black father was an alcoholic who abused her mother."

"Chaim Amalek" wrote me the day after the Oscars 2002: Please discuss how yesterday was a bad day to be a White Man, as seen through the empathic eyes of Amalek channeling your mentor. (To all my critics, and they are at least ten in number, please note that I leave it to Luke to clean up my spelling, grammar, and to spot any factual errors for me to correct.)

First, the White Man warmed up his set by watching 60 Minutes. (He still has the same TV set with which he watched the Kennedy-Nixon debates, albeit with oft replaced picture tubes.) As usual, they presented three stories. The first story, about America's vulnerability to terror via container ports, filled the White Man's heart with a sense of impotent dread. "Who can be trusted to help us in our hour of need" the White Man wondered.

The answer began to appear in the second story, about a mill in Malden Massachusetts run by a jew. This jew refused to close the mill when it burned down. Instead he used insurance money to rebuild it and kept on paying his goyishe white workers. The Jew attributed his largess to the Torah. Suddenly things began to look up - maybe the Jews, who are our ally (via Israel) in the war on terror can help us, if only we smite their enemies in Iraq and Iran! The White Man was feeling better.

But then came the third piece, about the slaughter of jews in a town in Poland Jebendewa or some such WOP name, in 1941. It seems that the White Men who did this were not Nazis, but Poles. White Men are bad. The story did not address the question of what aspects of jewish behavior led the White Men to such murderous rage against the innocent jews, leading the White Man to conclude that White Men are simply BAD men and deserve humiliation at the very least.

Fortunately, humiliation was to be had in spades that very evening and just a few rotary channel clicks away, thanks to the Academy Awards. Oh, this started out slowly, but then boy did it pick up steam! Just consider the last twenty minutes of the show. After presenting Negro actor Sidney Poiteir with a lifetime achievement award for such roles as "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" (a masterpiece of jewish miscegenistic propaganda), the $20,000,000/picture shiksa mouthpiece Julia Roberts (the second example of jewish generosity that evening!) mounted the podium to present the award for Best Actress. She said she had just two things to say; first, that her lips had just kissed those of the negro Sidney P, and second, that the winner of the award for Best Actress was suspiciously fair-skinned "black" actress by the name of Hailey Barry. The camera panned to Ms. Berry's white, blonde mother, so we could see exactly what sort of social arrangement led to her being. She thanked no white men for her fortune, but went out of her way to thank her jewish agents and lawyers for their help. Then a bit later, the gentile aussie who did such an admirable job of portraying sometime antisemite and full-time goy John Nash was passed over and the best actor award given to Denzil Washington.

I understood from all this that the White Man's time had come and gone, and that the best way for me to get ahead was to be appealing to the jews of Hollywood. My name is Luke Ford. Orthodox rabbis of Los Angeles, can I pray with you now? And tell me again about how God smote all the first-born sons of Egypt . . . .

After Shawna, I talk to Elizabeth, a hair-and-make-up girl from England and her Fijian-Hawaiin rooommate who seeks work in entertainment as an executive assistant while working on her first novel about a hula dancer in Hawaii who meets a twisted young man.

Luke: "Were you a hula dancer?"

Hawaiin: "Yes."

Luke: "Did you once meet a twisted young man?"

Hawaiin: "Yes."

Luke: "And you had a painful relationship?"

Hawaiin: "Yes."

Luke: "So this book is a form of therapy for you?"

Hawaiin: "Yes."

Luke: "Have you ever considered getting psycho-therapy?"

Hawaiin: "No, I don't believe in it. I have a strong mind."

Then I spend the next two hours talking to the most beautiful drunk Greek girl I've met in my life, Cat, a 25-year old who's preparing her medical school applications. I leave at 1AM with her phone number.

Why do I repeatedly put my soul in peril by attending secular parties and only talking to shiksas? Oh, why am I not erotically attracted to Jewish women? Oh, the shame, the shame. How low have I fallen? What would Rebbe Nachman say?

Aaron writes: Luke you’re cracking me up. A goy orthodox jew convert who can’t stop dating shiksas. Doesn’t this cancel each other out? Do you really think you can trump nature? Attraction and falling in love is something we have no control over. We’re in LA and there are beautiful women all over the place.

The cruel social Darwinism of physical attraction has reached its pinnacle on Sunset Blvd. and you are in the thick of it, my friend. Do you think those overweight women pushing strollers down La Brea in their wool skirts and wigs are babes – do you fantasize at night about shtupping them? Of course not. I can’t date jewish women either – and I’m a born Jew raised by a jewish mother. Every jewish girl I met reminds me of my mom. You have an excuse to be a shiksa lover – at least you’re a goy. All the jewish guys I know in Hollywood date wanna date Asian women. This is why they have religious farms in Pennsylvania - to shield the orthodoxy from the temptations of the world. Unless you’re going to move to a kibbutz, get used to it. You can’t defeat nature or your destiny. You do you think I’m gonna feel if I have a kid and he comes to me one day and says, “dad, I’ve accepted Jesus Christ as my lord savior.” I’m going to puke.

How Hollywood Sees Itself

From the Weekly Standard, Johnathan Last writes: Consider the case of the 74th Annual Academy Awards show a couple weeks ago. You remember it. The show opened with Tom Cruise, smirking and smiling as he walked across the stage and telling us how, in the wake of September 11, he had called all of his "actor friends" to ask if what they did with their lives was really important. "Should we celebrate the magic the movies bring? Now?" Tom wondered aloud. He paused, steeled his gaze, and thundered, "Dare I say it? More than ever!"

The show went downhill from there. Whoopi Goldberg made bad jokes and the producers ran a series of movie testimonials from luminaries such as Lani Guinier. Sidney Poitier was given a lifetime achievement award, and got his very own testimonial video, which, oddly, featured only black actors. And then there was Halle Berry. After winning Best Actress for her role in "Monster's Ball," Berry went on a long, hysterical, unhinged rant about the barriers she was breaking down for her race, the footsteps she was following in, and the discrimination that she encounters as a serious actress of color. Halle Berry, whose mother is white, was the Miss USA runner up in 1986 and a successful model before she turned to acting. She gets $2.5 million per picture and reportedly received a $500,000 bonus for taking her shirt off in last year's John Travolta disaster, "Swordfish."

The morning after the Oscars, newspapers across America were, appropriately, filled with derision. But not Variety.

Where everyone else in America sees ostentatious excess and self-aggrandizement, Hollywood sees restraint. There's a war going on and instead of paying tribute to the people who are doing important jobs, Hollywood gave us what Cintra Wilson rightly called "The We're Justifying Our Existence Oscars."

Is David Poland's Cold Secular Heart Closed To Biblical Truth?

On Hot Button, David writes: "So, I haven’t seen Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie. Sure, I’ll admit it… the cucumber bugs me more than the broccoli… does that make me a bad guy? Or maybe it’s that the only version of Jonah and The Whale that I want to see is one about a religious man and a high-stakes gambler in Vegas… no vegetables."