- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 23, 2004

Not that odd

“[Tony] Randall is best remembered in the cultural imagination as Felix Unger, the uptight, obsessively tidy roommate of slovenly sportswriter Oscar Madison (played by Jack Klugman) on ‘The Odd Couple.’ …

“Klugman and Randall’s star chemistry and skill at improvisation … took the sitcom far beyond the simple slob-vs.-neatnik dialectic of the Neil Simon play that inspired it. Oscar and Felix were a couple whose ‘oddness’ had less to do with their differing approach to laundering clothes … than with the fact they were two divorced, heterosexual men sharing a Manhattan apartment. …

“Some recent interpretations have wondered whether Randall’s uptight, opera-loving Felix functioned as a ‘stealth gay stereotype’ in the still-closeted world of ‘70s prime time. …

“In a series of sex comedies in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, Randall was cast as Rock Hudson’s persnickety rival for the affections of Doris Day. …

“Randall … was married twice, once for over 50 years. After his first wife died, he married Heather Hanlan, 50 years his junior, with whom he fathered his first child at the age of 77. Even after Rock Hudson’s much-publicized death from AIDS in 1985, Randall distanced himself from rumors about his friend’s sexuality without ever disputing them outright.”

Dana Stevens, writing on “Odd Man Out,” Thursday in Slate at www.slate.com

Catholic lite

“On the road this weekend, I went to Sunday Mass at a Catholic parish outside the Dallas diocese. The priest did something I’ve only seen happen once before in the 11 years I’ve been a Catholic: He spoke from the pulpit against abortion and the politicians who support it.

“This is going to shock non-Catholics, who seem to think that we faithful papists hear nothing but lectures on abortion and sexual morality from our priests. It’s not true. Except for illness, I’ve not missed a single Sunday Mass since I entered the church in 1993. … I have yet to hear a sermon explaining, or even proclaiming, church teaching on any aspect of human sexuality — save for abortion, which I’d last heard preached on in, no kidding, 1995.

“After this Sunday’s Mass, I thanked the priest for his words, and told him I wanted to praise him in print. He kindly asked me not to, explaining that it could only get him in trouble with his bishop. I understood. I’ve known good priests to be punished by their bishops for teaching the Catholic faith, but no priests punished for failing to do so.”

Rod Dreher, writing on “Bishops ignore their burning house,” May 18 in the Dallas Morning News

Dames in Vegas

“I hadn’t been to Las Vegas in quite a while, though I knew it was no longer the city of sin, sleaze, and Sinatra. The Sands — where Frank and the rest of the Rat Pack played and played around — was imploded into dust way back in 1996. But what I didn’t expect was how downright ‘girlie’ Vegas has become. …

“In almost every way, Vegas is dedicated to appealing to female visitors. … Slot machines are now the casinos’ biggest profit makers, and slot machines are designed primarily to keep women feeding in their nickels and quarters. …

“And the only superstar who is always in town is Celine Dion. … Celine is in Vegas — performing five nights a week at Caesar’s Palace and earning $20 million a year — because, she says, it is a better gig for a working mom than touring with her young son.”

Myrna Blyth, writing on “Viva Las Vegas,” Thursday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

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