- The Washington Times - Friday, December 28, 2001

Get used to it
"In 'The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings,' elongated wizards chew on fleecy white beards and say things like 'Ee-vill is stirring in Mordor.' The diminutive hobbits, innocent creatures of Middle-earth, are scampering and puckish they tumble a lot and wear cute little hoods. There are, perhaps, one too many blackened caverns, and there's definitely too much chanting by a male chorus on the soundtrack. The movie is almost three hours long, and it repeats itself more often than a talkative cabby driving out to the nether regions of Middle-Brooklyn.
"Kids may not be reading Tolkien as much as they once did, but in recent years his influence has soaked into teen culture. Since this is only the first of three Tolkien battle epics, you'd better get used to your children walking into the living room and saying, 'The ring has awakened. It hears its master's call.'
"Once it gets going and you get used to its peculiar idiom, 'The Lord of the Rings' is consistently beautiful and often exciting despite some dead passages here and there, it's surely the best big-budget fantasy movie in years."
David Denby, writing on "Good Fights," in the Dec. 24-31 issue of the New Yorker

No sugar coating
"He's the most enjoyable blowhard on TV. And the most infuriating. It depends on what night you tune in. Which is why Bill O'Reilly was by far the most entertaining talking head on the cable-news networks this year: You never knew what was going to come out of his mouth next. One night he's blasting George W. Bush for his pro-capital punishment views, the next he's giving the Rev. Al Sharpton verbal noogies over affirmative action. Is he a conservative? Absolutely. A liberal? Occasionally. Confounding? Always.
"Whatever he is, his nightly program on the Fox News Channel, 'The O'Reilly Factor' where pols and pundits enter what O'Reilly describes as his 'no-spin zone' is pulling in an average of 20 million viewers a week making it the most-watched talk show on cable.
"In fact, even some of his harshest critics admit O'Reilly's a tough guy not to like or at least not to watch.
"'Whether you agree with him or not and 99 percent of the time, I don't you've got to like someone who's that real, who isn't at all sugar-coated,' says Sharpton."
Benjamin Svetkey, writing on "Bill O'Reilly," in the Dec. 21-28 issue of Entertainment Weekly

Vague 'evil'
"With whom, or what, is the United States at war? It may seem that the answer is obvious; but it is not.
"In the first few weeks after September 11, whenever President George W. Bush referred to enemies, he insisted they were neither Afghans nor even Muslims but rather people he called 'evildoers' or 'the evil ones.' This odd and somewhat comical-sounding phrasing seems to have been chosen deliberately so as not to offend anyone, or any group.
"What were the goals of these evildoers? Here, too, Bush was careful to speak in generalities. They were people 'motivated by hate.' When it came to what the United States was planning to do about them, the president was once more cautious to a fault, speaking mostly of 'hunting down the evildoers and bringing them to justice.'
"Not even after the war began in early October did Bush strive for greater precision. The one innovation was to introduce the concept of a 'war on terrorism.' But this made arguably even less sense. Terrorism is a military tactic employed by different groups and individuals around the worlds for different ends. To speak of a 'war on terrorism' is a little like speaking about a war on weapons of mass destruction. One needs to know who owns or is deploying these weapons, and for what reason."
Daniel Pipes, writing on "Who Is the Enemy?" in the January issue of Commentary

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