- The Washington Times - Monday, June 23, 2003

Green machine

“Well before ‘The Hulk’ was screened for the press, I heard the computer-generated title character described as “Shrek on steroids,” and I only wish he were so lifelike. In the Marvel Comic, the old cartoon, and the ‘70s TV series, the Hulk was of more or less human dimensions, but now Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) swells to the size of a house. … He has a broad, squared-off face with iridescent lime-green skin, and he swivels from the waist like an old rock-‘em-sock-‘em robot toy. He also bounces around like Tigger in ‘Winnie the Pooh.’ …

“That’s not to say that Hulk — or the $150 million blockbuster built around him — isn’t a fascinating piece of work. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. … [I]t’s often so bad, it’s almost good, but then it’s so bad it goes past good and back to bad again. It’s certainly serious — deadly serious. Little could I have predicted when, as a boy, I pored over the fun comic or watched the cartoon show that one day art-film eggheads like [director Ang] Lee and his longtime producer/writer James Schamus would bring their vaunted intellects to the project … and come up with something akin to a Sam Shepard rewrite of an old Japanese giant monster picture. …

“Unlike your average comic-book blockbuster, ‘The Hulk’ isn’t a bad cartoon. It’s a bad modern Greek tragedy. It’s a swing at the moon that looks (and smells) like green cheese.”

David Edelstein, “Hulk B-a-a-a-a-d,” Thursday in Slate at www slate.com

Anything but

“A misconceived idea among adults is that young people are naive, when teens are anything but, and with each passing generation, the teen culture becomes less innocent. The troubles of drugs, sex, and drinking are all major matters with young people, leaving adults with more problems than solutions. …

“[A] study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy found that one in five teens have had sex before their 15th year, with one in seven of sexually experienced girls having gotten pregnant.

“The study also reveals that one third of those teens’ parents had no idea that their kid might be having sex. …

“For those who have any sense of absolute morality, this is clearly a bad thing for young people. There is no doubt that being sexually active at a young age will degrade the life of these teens and have a negative impact later in life, especially for those teens who become pregnant. …

“With many schools handing out condoms, birth control, morning-after pills, and value-neutral sex education, a big message from schools does nothing to prevent sexual encounters among teens. …

“A study released by the Kaiser Family Foundation last month reports that about 30 percent of teens feel pressure to have sex, drink alcohol and do drugs. Many liken the public educational system to the … book, ‘Lord of the Flies,’ and, in this respect, they are right.”

Kyle Williams, writing on “Kids Gone Wild,” Saturday in WorldNetDaily at www.worldnetdaily.com

Opry legend

“The [Grand Ole] Opry’s ascent, paralleling country’s, was fast and steady in the ‘50s, then halted with the emergence of the ultimate hillbilly celebrity. A framed photo of the usurper, taken when he made a surprise visit one December night [in 1957], hangs on the wall near the back door of [Nashvilles] Ryman [Auditorium]. ‘I was in the dressing room,’ recalls Carole Lee Cooper, who now leads the Opry’s in-house vocal backup quartet, ‘when word filtered in: “Elvis is in the building, and some woman’s already passed out in the hall!” Of course, being raised in the business, I wasn’t as starstruck as that.’ …

“White rock ‘n’ roll decimated country’s audience. In the ‘60s, the Opry followed Music Row to a softer musical paradigm and a more middle-aged demographic.”

Robbie Fulks, writing on “Sex, Heartbreak and Blue Suede,” in the July issue of GQ

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