- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 15, 2007

Slasher safety

“One of the things that’s great about slasher films is that the genre is very rigid. … I can’t think of any other genre that this has to happen, this has to happen, this has to happen. And in a weird way that’s what you like — that they’re all the same. So I had to let go of that and do for slasher films what I did for heist films in ‘Reservoir Dogs’: which is, I’m just going to do mine, my version of it, which is a crazy, wacky version of it.

“And then I remembered one thing — and that’s where ‘Death Proof’ came into play. Before I ever did anything with my career, I always thought, I don’t have to worry about dying in an earthquake, I’m not going to die in a plane crash — I’ve got stuff to do. You know, God didn’t put me here to take me out. … Maybe what I’m supposed to do was that, and maybe I’m not quite so safe.

“So the thing was, I’m going to get a safer car. I ended up getting a Volvo. But before that I was talking to somebody in the film industry … and they go … ‘Just buy any car you want, give it to a stunt team, give them $10,000 and have them deathproof it.’

“I never forgot that. … It always just lived there waiting to come out.”

— Quentin Tarantino, talking on his new film “Death Proof,” in an interview with Chris Heath in the April issue of GQ

Ignorant of faith

“For the past two years, I have given students in my introductory religious studies course at Boston University a religious-literacy quiz. I ask them to list the four Gospels, Roman Catholicism’s seven sacraments and the Ten Commandments. I ask them to name the holy book of Islam. They do not fare well.

“Americans remain profoundly ignorant about their own religions and those of others. According to recent polls, most American adults cannot name even one of the four Gospels, and many high school seniors think that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife. A few years ago, no one in Jay Leno’s ‘The Tonight Show’ audience could name any of the Twelve Apostles, but everyone was able to shout out the four Beatles.”

— Stephen Prothero, writing on “Worshipping in Ignorance” in the March 16 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education

Deeply phony

“I’m hardly the first to point out the risible irony in CBS News firing Web producer Melissa McNamara for passing off as her own work a commentary she ghosted for Katie Couric that borrowed extensively from a March 15 Wall Street Journal column by Jeffrey Zaslow. … The network paid her to write original essays for Katie Couric to read in video and audio clips made available on its Web site and to CBS-owned radio stations. McNamara deceived CBS by plagiarizing the Journal. But CBS News wronged visitors to its Web site by inviting them to think that the opinions Couric expressed in these commentaries were her own. …

“The deception was a little more conspicuous in this instance, at least retrospectively, because it began with a personal memory: ‘I still remember when I first got my library card.’ That sentence was not lifted from the Zaslow column, but it’s actually more fake than anything else in the commentary because it purports to be a personal recollection. …

“This leads us to the deeper phoniness that hobbles the assembly-line anchorperson-commentary racket CBS News has been running for decades. … The result is commentary devoid of any substance or interest.”

— Timothy Noah, writing on “The Deeper Fakery of Couric’s Plagiarism,” Thursday in Slate at www.slate.com

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