- The Washington Times - Friday, September 22, 2000

Inflated anchor

"Interested in hearing about Ted Koppel's tribulations in getting caller ID at his house? Then you're sure to be riveted by 'Off Camera' … the ABC newsman's diary of the last years of the millennium. He devotes several pages to his phone troubles… . Then there's Koppel's opinion of the musical version of 'Titanic.' 'It wasn't exactly dreadful, but it's not very good, either,' he tells us… .

"Get out your yellow highlighters, folks. You may want to refer back someday to Koppel's rapier-like insights into laser eye surgery 'the relatively tiny risk factor … is worth the benefits of a successful procedure' and professional wrestling… .

"What a sad experience it was to read 'Off Camera' and discover that one of the greatest journalists of my lifetime has such an inflated sense of the significance of his random thoughts."

David Blum, writing on "Off-Camera, Ted's Off-Stride," in the October issue of George

Moms ministry

"Single moms and dads, the fastest-growing family demographic in America, have a new and somewhat unexpected ally: their neighborhood churches.

"In a ministerial about-face, churches from Nashville, Tenn., to Seattle are opening 'single-parent ministries.' This effort to embrace single parents, many of whom are mothers struggling to make ends meet after divorce or loss of welfare, not only offers opportunity for counseling and klatching, but also practical help, such as car repairs, rent money, and baby-sitting.

Once shunned by many churches as 'sinners' and masters of their own downfall, the nation's 13 million single parents and their kids are increasingly being viewed as the 'widows and orphans' Jesus tended in the Bible… .

" 'There is a trend where churches are getting back to the heart and the Gospel,' says Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America (CWA), which promotes religious values in everyday life. 'When it comes down to it, we all have something in our life to be ashamed of,' she says, noting a wider effort within the church community to lay aside judgmentalism… .

"[M]any conservative church leaders, including those tied to the 15-million-strong conservative Southern Baptist Convention, appear to support this new embrace of single parents. 'If you are going to be anti-abortion, then you absolutely must step up to the plate and provide support for women who are alone, in need, and have been dumped by men and by the law,' says a spokesman at the Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Ky."

Patrik Jonsson, writing on "Churches give single moms a warmer shoulder," in yesterday's Christian Science Monitor

Musical survivor

"Madonna is not only the ultimate survivor put her on an island with ['Survivor' winner] Richard Hatch and start counting the hours until his bloated corpse washes up on the beach but a cottage industry for trendy academics.

"They love to ponder the finer points of the Madonna phenomenon: her chameleonic image, her calculated provocations, the way in which her persona is both genuine (motherhood) and false (that ridiculous Pan-European accent she has affected since 'Evita'). These musings have produced at least two volumes of essays and several accredited college courses.

"Another required text has just appeared on the syllabus. It's the video for her new single, 'Music,' which replaces the austere mehndi pretensions of her last album, 'Ray of Light,' with a campy update of '70s pimp chic spangled cowboy hat, white fur coat, jewelry in every imaginable location, and slinky ladies packed hair to heel in a gold stretch limousine."

Ben Greenman, writing on "Unlike a Virgin," in the Sept. 25 issue of the New Yorker

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