- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 4, 2001

Boomer mortality

"It's a terrible death. John Lennon's death was dreadful, too, of course: violent and shocking and senseless. But in an odd way, it was saved from significance, as a death, by those very qualities. It bore no symbolic freight. A crazy person assaulted a famous person. It can happen to a pope, to a prime minister, to a senator, to a 23-year-old Tejano star. It can happen anywhere, at any time.

"But George Harrison died of natural causes. Yes, his end was clearly hastened by years of cigarette smoking, but still he was 58 years old. The youngest of the Beatles was approaching had reached the terminus of even the most liberal definition of middle age. His death came early, but not so early as to be an actuarial anomaly. For baby boomers, therefore, it's a shocking and profoundly unsettling event. We thought we'd be young forever. We thought we'd live forever. We were wrong on both counts.

"His death doesn't hit us the way Lennon's did, as a sudden blow. We had advance warning, for one thing; his illness was not a secret. But still, the sadness we feel is deep, and the disquiet pervasive. He was one of us. For those of us who belonged to his generation, his was one of those exemplary lives whose progress we followed along with those of our closest friends. It's almost impossible to grasp that it's over."

Erik Tarloff, writing on "George Harrison," Friday in Slate at www.slate.com


Wages of terror

"Scenes of fanatics in the streets of Pakistan have startled and frightened some Americans. To my mind, far scarier are the half-educated here at home who analyze this 'new' challenge on television, sternly lecturing us about Western ignorance and a decade of unstoppable massacre and killing ahead. But history teaches us that the most thunderous Islamic crowds as is always the way of the mob are nourished on false hopes, and scatter with real defeat.

"It is an iron law of war that overwhelming military superiority defeats terrorists. We do not really care whether [Osama] bin Laden and his thugs are real Islamic fundamentalists, old-time Mahdists, or Christian nuts in drag. Nor does it ultimately matter much whether they plan to poison water, hijack airplanes, spread germs, or throw spitballs at us only whether we have the military power and will to kill them first, destroy their enclaves, strip away their money and refuges, and demonstrate to their followers that death and misery are the final and only wages of a terrorist's life."

Victor Davis Hanson, writing on "The More Things Change," Friday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com


Hollywood accents

"For reasons I do not fully understand, I now adore motion pictures that feature one or more characters sporting unwieldy ethnic accents, and no longer feel that these dialectical frills detract from the overall impact of the film even when the accents are indisputably bad. Some of my best friends are foreigners. And most of them have ridiculous foreign accents. They are as God made them.

"It was John Turturro's gap-toothed, brain-dead, good ole boy droolings that lured me to 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' It was Willem Dafoe's macabre Transcarpathian ramblings, supported by John Malkovich's tortured Teutonisms, that induced me to see 'Shadow of the Vampire.' It was the chance to hear Brad Pitt talk like a gypsy pugilist that dragged me to the theatre that was showing 'Snatch.'

"The important thing to remember about using an accent is that if the actor does not truly believe in it, the audience will not believe in it either. An accent must not only be embraced; it must be flaunted. It must never be an ornament; it must become a second skin."

Joe Queenan, writing on "Accents Will Happen," in the December/January issue of Movieline

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