- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 5, 2002

The hard way
"Let me start by saying that I absolutely do not feel 45 years old.
"I've made my share of mistakes bell-bottoms, platform shoes, Three Dog Night but looking back, I loved making most of them. So here I stand. Still breathing. Still ready to rock 'n' roll. I made it longer than John Lennon did. That puts a dollop of perspective on 45 years.
"I've decided to take aging like a man: no Botox, no facelifts, no hair implants. I'm not checking into some overpriced health spa for aromatherapy and a hot-mud skin peel. I'm sitting in the bleachers with my shirt off, no sunscreen on and a frosty cold one in each hand. I'm not sharing any information with the younger generation. Our lessons learned belong to us. Let them learn the hard way, just like I did."
Denis Leary, writing on "Forty-five Forever," in the December issue of GQ

Their America
"A U.S. State Department official called me last February to ask whether the center on the study of religion I direct at Boston College would be the host of an institute in which 15 scholars of Islam from the Muslim world would be brought to the United States to learn how we practice religious diversity and define the separation of church and state. I readily agreed, although I did have some fears.
"Our institute began in Boston with an Islamic halal dinner, which was sponsored by Jesuits at the college. We had reasoned that the dinner would help present an image of American religion at its most serious, introducing our visitors to selfless, idealistic and dedicated men who take their Roman Catholic faith seriously. We were probably right, but when a number of the visiting scholars asked me the next day to explain the differences between Protestants and Catholics, I realized I may have assumed too much. Before long, I was writing names like 'Martin Luther' (not the civil-rights advocate, I reminded them) and 'John Calvin' on the board.
"All but one of our visitors had never been to America before and they were both curious and a bit frightened about what they might discover. 'OK,' one of them bravely put it after two weeks, 'I'm ready to see some homosexuals now.' Fairly sure that America is a violence-prone, decadent society that treats all people of color with disrespect, they were also certain that most people who live here are atheists, and that Jews run American foreign policy. We were able to persuade them fairly quickly that one of their images was incorrect; this is not a country filled with atheists."
Alan Wolfe, writing on "From the Muslim World, 13 Scholars in Search of Common Ground," in the Nov. 22 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education

Surfin' soldiers
"Forget about the Department Of Homeland Security: Putting more kids on snowboards and in parachutes is the real way to keep everyone safe from harm, if the new [movie] 'Extreme Ops' is to be believed. And why shouldn't it?
"What good do military training and the bottomless pockets of evil financiers have against intrepid extreme-sports enthusiasts stoked on adrenaline and eager for the next rush? It takes 90 minutes or so for a Serbian warlord to learn this lesson when he interrupts commercial director Rufus Sewell and his troop of extreme athletes as they attempt to get a crucial shot for a video camera ad high in the mountains of Austria
"'Extreme Ops' seems to have only the slightest grasp of its own absurdity (or its own horribleness), which makes it almost charming. Characters skateboard on top of or snowboard from the back of trains, perform synchronized ski and snowboard jumps, and kayak over waterfalls."
Keith Phipps, writing on "Extreme Ops," in yesterday's edition of the Onion AV Club at www.theavclub.com

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