- The Washington Times - Monday, January 29, 2007

Lemon life

“The NBC show within the NBC show ‘30 Rock’ … is titled ‘The Girlie Show.’ Or it was, at least, until Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin), the fictional NBC’s newly appointed ‘Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming,’ got his meaty and manicured hands on it. He … rechristened it ‘TGS With Tracy Jordan.’ Though the original name is lost, the question lingers: ‘Girlie’? Really? What was that about?

“There are but two women in the writers’ room. One has yet to speak a line. The other is the head writer, Liz Lemon, played by Tina Fey.’ …

“Liz Lemon … is 35. She is ‘single and pretending to be happy about it, overscheduled, undersexed,’ as Donaghy, addressing her, put it in one of his flourishes of savage perspicacity. … She is haughty, vindictive, and reflexively snide. …

“Out on the town … she told a guy off in a bravura show of social ineptitude, only to learn from her wingwoman that the dude really just wanted to buy her a drink. That news perked Liz up a bit: ‘I already have a drink. Do you think he would buy me mozzarella sticks?’ ”

— Troy Patterson, writing on “Against Girlieness,” Friday in Slate at www.slate.com

‘Home-front angst’

“In the history of our time as told by the movies, the war on terror largely does not exist.

“Which is passing strange, you know. Because the war on terror is the history of our time. The outcome of our battle against the demographic, political and military upsurge of a hateful theology and its oppressive political vision will determine the fate of freedom in this century.

“Television — more populist, hungrier for content and less dependent on foreign audiences — reflects this fact with shows such as ‘24’ and ‘The Unit.’ But at the movies, all we’re getting is home-front angst and the occasional ‘Syriana,’ in which ‘moderate’ Islam is thwarted by evil American interests. But the notion that this war is about our moral failings is comfort fantasy, pure and simple. It soothes us with the false idea that, if we but mend ourselves, the scary people will leave us alone. …

“It’s a shame for so powerful an art form to become irrelevant because we can’t find a way to dramatize the central event of our time. It’s a shame that we live under the tireless protection of lawmen and warriors and don’t pay tribute to them. And purely in artistic terms, it’s a shame that so many great stories are just waiting to be told and we’re not telling them.”

— Andrew Klavan, writing on “Is Hollywood too timid for the war on terror?” Friday in the Los Angeles Times

War delusions

“Not long ago, as I was listening to a BBC reporter describing the latest terrorist outrage in Baghdad … it occurred to me that, even if all that the reporter had said were perfectly true it was also exactly what the terrorists would have said if they could have written his script for him. …

“[E]ven if we are willing to accept that the media’s picture of the Iraq war is largely accurate, we cannot regard as credible the contention that not only the President of the United States but also the entire administration over which he presides and the generals advising it are merely delusional. Nor can I share the easy assumption of the substantial Bush-hating faction in and out of the media that our President is so stupid as to be utterly blind to things obvious and transparent to the likes of Frank Rich of the New York Times or Keith Olbermann of MSNBC’s ‘Countdown.’ ”

— James Bowman, writing on “Delusions of ‘reality,’” in the January issue of the New Criterion

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