- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 21, 2005

Crash course

“Romantic comedies tend to revolve around weddings, but usually the nuptials are reserved for the end. And the wedding is typically a serious (though joyful) moment, the one toward which all the comedy has in fact been leading.

“As its title would suggest, ‘Wedding Crashers’ starts with a wedding, ends with a wedding, and has numerous other ones in the middle. In this film, however, the weddings are a big part of the comedy. …

“As funny as the film is, there is meaning behind the humor. The two lead characters originally have nothing against marriage, but they do not respect it. Their behavior shows this lack of regard not only in their use of the weddings themselves as an opportunity for venery but also in their sexual promiscuity itself. Ironically, it is only when one of them begins to feel the tug of the institution … that their troubles begin. …

“[T]he film ironically upholds marriage as an ideal, and rather more appealingly than a straightforward sermon could do.”

S.T. Karnick, writing on “Crash Course on Marriage,” July 18 in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Bookless students

“Where will the library ghosts go … when all the books have been made immaterial and antiseptic through digitization?

“What is the message of this new medium? What does it mean when the University of Texas at Austin removes nearly all of the books from its undergraduate library to make room for coffee bars, computer terminals, and lounge chairs? What are students in those ‘learning commons’ being taught that is qualitatively better than what they learned in traditional libraries? …

“Many entering [college] students come from nearly book-free homes. Many have not read a single book all the way through; they are instead trained to surf and skim. Teachers increasingly find it difficult to get students to consult printed materials, and yet we are making those materials even harder to obtain. Online journal articles are suitable for searching and extraction, but how conducive is a computer for reading a novel? …

“Computer technology is an invaluable supplement for research, but it becomes inefficient when it is used as a substitute for the hands-on investigation of the stacks.”

Thomas H. Benton, writing on “Stacks Appeal,” in the July 18 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education

‘Celebrity nuthouse’

“Our celebrities are … on a dangerous rampage, and no one is safe. Christian Slater grabbed a woman’s bottom outside an Upper East Side deli, and Russell Crowe had a tantrum lengthy enough for him to rip a phone out of the wall, take it down the elevator, and throw it into the face of a clerk at the city’s most exclusive hotel. … This summer, all outbreaks are only sideshows to the concurrent breakdown of Michael Jackson during his trial and the more recent mania of Tom Cruise, two of the biggest and most mysterious stars in the world unmasked as stark-raving lunatics. (The re-education of Katie Holmes, the Manchurian Fiancee, continues apace.) …

“Tom Cruise, in all his lunatic effusiveness and paranoid defensiveness, is the definitive celebrity of this age. …

“When one makes about $80 million a picture, like Cruise does, one can pay for whatever handlers one wishes, and these handlers will become your friends, family, and confidants. …

“Nowadays in the celebrity nuthouse, the inmates are running the asylum, only pretending that they’re the ones under observation.”

Vanessa Grigoriadis, writing on “Celebrity and Its Discontents,” in the July 25 issue of New York

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