- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Tolkien ‘rocks’

“Don’t be surprised if the audience at your screening of ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’ is made up mostly of teenage girls. Although Tolkien’s trilogy has traditionally been the exclusive cultural province of the sort of pimple-ridden, Hot Pockets-eating boys who go on to make millions as software developers, Peter Jackson’s movies, with their wide distribution and teen magazine-ready stars, have created a whole new genre of ‘LotR’ freaks: high-school females….

“Could J.R.R. Tolkien be the new Beatles? These girls gush like he is: ‘Tolkien’s skill in creating his world was so complete, it’s astounding,’ says Meir, 16. Mandy, 16, adds, ‘There are entire languages in the books. … It’s all so much and it came from just one mind. That seriously rocks.’”

Rebecca Onion, writing on “Flick Chicks,” Dec. 19 in the New Republic Online at www.tnr.com

Revolutionary force

“There is a case to be made … that militant homosexuality is the most revolutionary social force the world has ever seen. … The demand that homosexual behavior be accepted as a perfectly moral ‘lifestyle choice,’ free of any stigma, with those who object to it ostracized, marginalized, and preferably punished by law, is just as revolutionary as that. …

“If homosexual marriage is just an obvious matter of simple fairness, how is it that this never occurred to anyone, anywhere in the world … until about 1990? Why did it not occur to Plato or Aristotle? To Confucius or Lao Tsu? To Buddha, Zoroaster, or Jesus Christ? To Aquinas or Abelard? To Spinoza or Kant? To the French revolutionaries or the Founding Fathers? To Schopenhauer or John Stuart Mill? To Bertrand Russell or Jean-Paul Sartre? To Lenin or Mao Tse-tung? It is the great conceit of our age that we are wiser than our ancestors were, but this is taking the conceit … too far.”

John Derbyshire, writing on “The Gladness of Early Greece,” Tuesday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Leading indicator

“As we all now know, ‘Law & Order’ isn’t just a TV show anymore, it’s a brand — there’s the original series, its three spinoffs, a pair of computer games, and a new coffee-table book you can browse between reruns on TNT. One convincing sign of the show’s reach, however, often goes overlooked. Like only a few brands before it, ‘Law & Order’ has become an economic indicator. … Now, thanks to TD Waterhouse, you can use your knowledge of ‘Law & Order’ to decide whether it’s time to put some money in the market.

“Last month, TD Waterhouse, one of the biggest discount brokerage firms, announced that it was replacing its spokesman. Sam Waterston, who plays prosecutor Jack McCoy on ‘Law & Order,’ would be taking over for Steven Hill, who used to play District Attorney Adam Schiff. Hill’s ad campaign … followed print ads that featured Jerry Orbach, who for the past 12 seasons has played the show’s wise-cracking Detective Lennie Briscoe.

“The basic idea behind all three campaigns was to present potential investors with a familiar and trustworthy spokesperson. Traditionally, the problem … is that investors trust different people in different economic conditions — the boom-time’s role model won’t cut it during a recession. But that’s the beauty of an ensemble cast. There’s a ‘Law & Order’ character for every economic climate.”

John Swansburg, writing on “The ‘Law & Order’ Index,” Monday in Slate at www.slate.com

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