- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Family history
"Any real understanding of homemaking and its currently imperiled status must begin with an acknowledgement that, in economic terms at least, the 1950s-style homemaking the homemaking of 'Leave It To Beaver' and 'Ozzie and Harriet' was but a shadow of the traditional homemaking of earlier eras. When most Americans lived on family farms, homemaking required mastery of a score of productive skills. …
"But when the capitalist and industrial revolutions drew millions away into the cities and away from family farms … these changes separated homemakers from their husbands in a new and problematic way. …
"Though feminists are quite right to deplore the cultural inadequacy of Cold War gender roles, they are quite wrong to suggest that the feminine role in homemaking was … just a curious American aberration. … Indeed, one ancient Confucian commentator about as far from the world of 'Ozzie and Harriet' as can be imagined sums up the collective wisdom … in his pronouncement that in the family 'the correct place of the woman is within; the correct place of the man is without. That man and woman have their proper places is the greatest concept in nature.'"
Bryce Christensen, writing on "Homeless America," in the January issue of the Family in America
Joke theory 101
"Jokes are under suspicion for many reasons. Not only are they a rather plebeian form of jocularity, but the theorists are busy looking for the passions probably deplorable concealed beneath the guffaw.
"The philosopher Hobbes was one of the first. He defined laughter as 'sudden glory,' assimilating it no doubt to our amusement at seeing people slip on banana skins. Freud thought that a joke was a sneaky way of defeating repression, of saying what was otherwise unsayable. It has been the direly literal-minded 20th century that took these possibilities to heart. Ethnic jokes seemed to insult other races, and perhaps … that might be their point. Thus did political correctness add another province to its empire. …
"These are the considerations that set Christie Davies, a … professor of sociology at the University of Reading in England, towards writing 'The Mirth of Nations.' … He recognizes as a widespread tendency the confusion between playing with aggression in jokes on the one hand, and real aggression on the other."
Kenneth Minogue, writing on "Laughing Matters," in the March issue of New Criterion
Miramax mojo
"Yes, now that it's Oscar season, things are looking up for Harvey Weinstein. Nobody does it better. … Miramax nabbed an amazing 31 Oscar nominations, 40 if you count its financial stake in Paramount's 'The Hours.' … Miramax has earned 13 Best Picture nominations in 11 years. And right now 'Chicago,' which scored 13 nominations the most ever for a musical looks unstoppable. The Miramax juggernaut is so formidable in part because it is so relentless. Harvey & Co. never stop looking for angles; they put their studio brethren to shame. …
"'This is a cyclical industry with up and down years,' Weinstein said. … 'This is a once-in-a-lifetime year it won't happen again.'
"Obviously, Miramax spent more heavily [promoting] its front-runners, 'Chicago' and 'Gangs [of New York],' than on its second-tier contenders, 'Frida' and 'The Quiet American.' Mexican charmer Salma Hayek and wily veteran Michael Caine personally pushed their campaigns the extra mile to land their respective nominations. Hayek was also the beneficiary of another studio's blunder: Columbia Pictures mistakenly submitted Meryl Streep in the Best Actress category for the [Screen Actors Guild] awards for 'Adaptation,' so that she competed with herself in 'The Hours.' … In the end, Hayek won more votes and got the nomination and the late-inning boost."
Anne Thompson, writing on "All That Oscar Jazz," in the Feb. 24 issue of New York

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