- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Lucky in love

“I loved the fact that Anne Bancroft was married to Mel Brooks. I also loved the fact that she appeared to be whip-smart, talented in a way that’s hard to even articulate, and very beautiful. I loved that he was funny, and shorter than she was. …

“I never laid eyes on them in person, though I did do a telephone interview with Brooks that left me with a cramp in my side from laughing. What a lucky woman that Anne Bancroft is, I remember thinking as I got off the phone, to be married to such a mensch. Last night, when I heard of her death, all I could think was: What a lucky guy that Mel Brooks is, to have been married to such a woman. …

“Married for more than 40 years, Bancroft and Brooks appeared in three movies together, the heartbreaking Holocaust comedy ‘To Be or Not to Be,’ ‘Silent Movie,’ and ‘Dracula: Dead and Loving It.’ They had a son, Maximilian, who was born in 1972. They maintained separate careers that have made people happy — and actually changed American culture — for half a century: ‘The Miracle Worker,’ ‘Blazing Saddles,’ ‘The Graduate,’ ‘Young Frankenstein.’ Our lives would have been so much grimmer without them individually; imagine how much joy they must have brought each other.”

Rebecca Traister, writing on “A fine romance,” June 8 in Salon at www.salon.com

Postmodern redux

“Brian McLaren is a postmodernist Christian leader and that makes him a controversial fellow in a religion with roots in absolutism. He’s the author of 10 books and pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church, an innovative, nondenominational church in the Baltimore-Washington region. … In February, Time magazine listed him as one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America.

” ‘Right now,’ [he says in an interview] ‘I’m involved with a group of people who are very concerned about the situation in Darfur in the western Sudan. … So, we’re trying to do something about this and one of the things we’re going to do is five Sundays of outdoor public worship in Washington, D.C., where I live, and the second week, we’re going to be in front of the National Press Club.

” ‘And we’re going to publicly, in prayer, thank the journalists who have covered Darfur in trying to keep this on the national consciousness. But we’re also going to pray by name for all the news directors who are giving us 20 hours of Michael Jackson coverage a week and seconds, or minutes or nothing in the Darfur coverage. Those are moral decisions.’ ”

Terry L. Heaton, writing on “10 Questions for Brian McLaren” May at donata.com

It’s his fault

“Beethoven certainly changed the way that people thought about music, but this change was a change for the worse. … [M]ost western musicians had agreed that musical beauty … provided music with an objective goal, something that transcended the individual composer’s idiosyncrasies and aspired to the universal. Beethoven managed to put an end to this noble tradition by inaugurat-ing a barbaric U-turn away from an other-directed music to an inward-directed, narcissistic focus on the composer himself and his own tortured soul.

“This was a ghastly inversion that led slowly but inevitably to the awful atonal music of Schoenberg and Webern. In other words, almost everything that went wrong with music in the 19th and 20th centuries is ultimately Beethoven’s fault.”

Dylan Evans, writing on “Beethoven was a narcissistic hooligan,” June 7 in the British newspaper the Guardian

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