May 20, 2002


AND THEN THERE WAS 'X': To borrow all of the same lame puns from when the XFL went under last year, "The X-Files" is now X-tinct, X-pired, and X-tinguished— and to quote Monty Python, an X-television show. A mixture of the last episode of "Seinfeld" and all the "Q" episodes of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (with a dash of Kafka's "The Trial" thrown in), I found the finale fairly satisfying, well-written, and well-filmed, while leaving plenty of room for the inevitable next feature film. My only quibble was the show's loaded, inaccurate depiction of military tribunals- a half-hearted denunciation of the War on Terror that stayed with the show's longstanding anti-government leanings without having the guts to get specific. Regardless, all of the Mulder-Scully stuff hit just the right note, as did the returns of several characters from the show's long run. As a longtime fan of both franchises, I'm much more satisfied with what "The X-Files" did this week than I am with what "Star Wars" did.
I will not be writing about tomorrow's "Ally McBeal" series finale, except to relate the following: a few years ago, the Fox affiliate in Boston, where I was then living, ran a teaser for a segment on that night's late local news, in which a reporter used that old gimmick of donning a fat suit, walking around, and recording people's reactions. The teaser: "Is there a weight bias? Tonight, after 'Ally McBeal.'"

DON'T GET CARTER: As my friend and fellow blogger Isaac Slepner pointed out last week, the "X-Files" creator isn't the only C(h)ris Carter ending his career this week. Cris Carter, the longtime wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings and one of the NFL's all-time leading receivers, has threatened to retire if he's not offered a free-agent contract by Monday. Carter was, going into last year, one of the NFL's most respected elder statesmen, but probably did more in one season to undo his pristine reputation than any NFL player since Warren Moon was arrested for spousal abuse in 1995. He whined to management, he took plays off, he ceased to be a good influence on his protege Randy Moss- basically, he did more than anyone else to ruin a Vikings season that began with the tragedy of Korey Stringer's on-field death and ended with the turmoil of Dennis Green's resignation. Now the team is under the control of coach Mike Tice (who last year was nothing but an agent for owner Red McCombs) and under threat of a move to San Antonio. So have fun in retirement Cris- and to quote Alanis Morrissette, "I'm here to remind you of the mess you left when you went away."

ISRAEL AND THE RIGHT: Excellent piece in this week's New Republic by Peter Beinart (probably the best he's done since taking over the TRB column from Andrew Sullivan) on why it might not be so wise for Jewish liberals and neocons to join hands with the Christian Right in the name of supporting Israel. He uses as Exhibit A House Majority Leader Dick Armey's embarassing appearance earlier this month on Chris Matthews' "Hardball," in which he came out in favor of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians- a position far to the right of even Ariel Sharon. Beinart illustrates that the tradition of Zionism is more based in morality than in religion, a position undercut by the religious conservatives in their current pro-Israel crusade. For another excellent take on the Israel situation, check out Boston radio personality David Brudnoy here.

BRANDEIS IN THE GLOBE: There's a well-written article in Thursday's Boston Globe on Brandeis (much better than the infamous 1998 New York Times piece "Still Young, Still Jewish, Still Not Harvard"), focusing on both the school's new "coexistence initiative" and on the recent mini-scandal related to political correctness. The brouhaha began last fall when a Stern-like campus radio show called "The Men's Room" broadcast off-color jokes about Asian and Jewish women and was subsequently yanked off the air; apparently people were still angry over five months later when a student named Yana Litovsky wrote a column in my old paper, The Justice, decrying the school's out-of-control political correctness and downplaying the "Men's Room" incident as "not a big deal," a view which the Justice's editor-in-chief says reflected how many students feel privately. A Brandeis dean, Jessie Ann Owens, chimed in with this chilling quote in the Globe piece:
''If Litovsky's viewpoint is widely held, Brandeis has a lot of work to do in educating faculty, staff and students."
Happy as I am about my Brandeis experience over all, it still gets me that it's the university's official position that anyone who doesn't fall into the orthodoxy of supporting political correctness, so-called "social justice," and repression of dissent is seen as in need of "re-education."

BORN NOT TO RUN: Well, the speculation was fun while it lasted. Bruce Springsteen's representatives have confirmed that the singer will not be running for the U.S. Senate from New Jersey this year, or any other year. While the talk got some excited, and it's perhaps the only campaign that could get me to work in NJ politics again, there was of course not much chance of it ever happening in the first place. So how about that new E Street album, huh Bruce?

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