- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Grisly grizzlies

“Timothy Treadwell, the subject of Werner Herzog’s amazing documentary ‘Grizzly Man’ …, was a manic but lovable whack-job who doggedly filmed and obsessively idealized the bears that would ultimately eat him (along with his poor girlfriend). …

“Treadwell traveled to schools to preach the gospel of nature, appeared with David Letterman … and spoke of the danger to bears from poachers — although these bears live on a remote Alaskan nature preserve … and seem more likely to be shot with Instamatics than rifles. …

“For all his attention to his bears, for all his boasts that he was ‘on the precipice of death’ and could be attacked at any moment, Treadwell didn’t fully see nature. Reinventing himself after years as a down-and-out alcoholic, he clearly turned the bears into his version of the ‘higher power’ fervently embraced by members of Alcoholics Anonymous.

“Was Treadwell suicidal? He often said that his life and cause might be looked at more seriously if he died in the wilderness, although … the chief lesson to draw from his story is to do the exact opposite of what he did — to keep one’s distance from these huge predators.”

— David Edelstein, writing on “Exit, Pursued by a Bear,” Friday in Slate at www.slate.com

Versatile faith

“Alec Guinness … was ‘the man of a thousand faces’ and ‘the man with no face.’ He was a great Hamlet and not-so-great Romeo, he was ‘Our Man in Havana,’ a member of the ‘Lavender Hill Mob,’ eight members of the d’Ascoyne family in ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets,’ Colonel Nicholson in ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai,’ and Major Jock Sinclair in ‘Tunes of Glory.’ He was Adolf Hitler, Father Brown, George Smiley, and something like 120 other characters. And though he appeared on stage and screen for over 60 years, today he is best known as Obi-Wan Kenobi — a part he loathed. …

“Guinness’s embrace of Catholicism in its English version had a snobbish element. … But his faith was primarily his hedge against despair. To quote … his favorite passage from G.K. Chesterton, ‘The Church is the one thing that prevents a man from the degrading servitude of being a child of his own time.’”

— Katherine A. Powers, writing on “Man of 1,000 faces, none his own,” Aug. 7 in the Boston Globe

Bridal idols

“[T]he stars we admired 10 or 15 years ago were young, cool, glamorous, independent and single. Today they’re young, cool, glamorous, married and pregnant.

“Britney Spears’ young followers had barely walked a mile in their low-rise jeans before their idol, then 22, traded hers in for a wedding dress and, shortly after, maternity tops. And more and more it seems that celebrities in their early 20s are getting engaged, married and having babies. In the last year alone, engagements were announced by Avril Lavigne; Nicole Richie, 23; Christina Aguilera, 24; Pink, 25; Katrina Elam, 21; and Paris Hilton, 24. Reese Witherspoon married when she was 23 and now has two children.

“Perhaps settling down to start a family is the logical next step for women who have already had long careers by the age of 25. LeAnn Rimes, at 19, was a teenage bride, five years after winning two Grammy Awards. … Kate Hudson tied the knot in 2000 at the age of 21, about two months before she was nominated for an Academy Award for her supporting role in ‘Almost Famous.’ She had a baby last year.”

— Carole E. Lee, writing on “When Your Childhood Heroines Start Tying the Knot,” Saturday in the New York Times

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