- - Monday, July 12, 2010

All you need …

“[Ringo Starr] said we should all initiate our afternoons with a global ‘peace and love’ moment. He says it would be fab for folks from all over the world (which I presume includes gentle souls hiding in the mountains of Afghanistan), to say such things at noon everyday — by any form of communication you have at hand. …

“Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this. It’s a nice sentiment from a semi-attractive grandmother. Oh, I kid. Of course there’s something wrong with this. There’s everything wrong with this. For that proclamation represents the reason why people die in this world.

“They die because people listen to aging hippies like Ringo Starr. The idea that all the evil in the world will dissolve if we all chant peace and love is what enables evil in the world to flourish. Threat of war, however, makes peace possible — not silly proclamations of hugs and kisses.

“Of course, I’m probably picking on Ringo a bit too much here. But really, jackasses who spout peace, can only spout peace, if the more sensible folks around him are willing to wage war. And the fact is, if these massive celebrities actually applied the notion of “peace and love” to their own personal lives, they’d be about as successful as Pete Best.”

Greg Gutfeld, writing on “Daily Gut: Ringo’s Mindless Peace & Love,” on July 9 at the Andrew Breitbart site Big Hollywood

Food love

“It seems fitting … that a major turning point in the representation of food on film came from abroad, the 1987 Danish film ‘Babette’s Feast.’ …

“‘Babette’s Feast’ tells the story of a refugee from the Paris uprisings of 1871 who escapes to Denmark and is taken in by two pious, elderly sisters who hire her as their cook. One day, the Frenchwoman has an unexpected windfall: She wins the lottery and decides to use the money to prepare a ‘real French dinner’ for her benefactors. The cooking of this meal becomes the focus of the second half of the film — both a flamboyant spectacle and a delicate source of suspense as we await its effect on the sisters and their friends, who have lived a simple, stoic life up to this point. The film celebrates the artistry of fine cooking and the delight of fine dining, and connects both to a higher form of enlightenment. At the end, the food acts on its partakers like a spiritual opiate, making them more fully alive and more deeply appreciative of each other.

“‘Babette’s Feast’ became a cult favorite among an emerging population of ‘foodies’ — the term itself newly coined as gourmet cooking clubs began to replace bridge groups in upper-middle-class circles. It was followed … by ‘Big Night,’ an American effort along the same lines. This film generates additional suspense by linking the meal to the expectation of a celebrity guest (a plot point I attribute to America’s Puritanical unwillingness to let food do too much thematic work).”

Paula Marantz Cohen, writing on “Eat Drink Actor Director,” on Jan. 22 at the Smart Set

Arab love

“Paul Berman takes the thesis of his outstanding new book, ‘The Flight of the Intellectuals,’ to the pages of the Wall Street Journal and dubs the age we live in that of the Zipped Lip.

“‘You are not,’ he writes, ‘supposed to observe that Islamism is a modern, instead of an ancient, political tendency, which arose in a spirit of fraternal harmony with the fascists of Europe in the 1930s and ‘40s. You are not supposed to point out that Nazi inspirations have visibly taken root among present-day Islamists, notably in regard to the demonic nature of Jewish conspiracies and the virtues of genocide.’

“As he said to me on the phone when I interviewed him in May, the mere mention of Nazi Germany’s foreign policy in the Arab world and its lingering effects in our day ‘gets people red in the face.’

“Lest you think there aren’t any lingering traces of Nazism in the Arab world, along comes Wiam Wahhab, a former member of Lebanon’s parliament, and confirms that there are. ‘I like the Germans,’ he says in an interview on Al-Jadid/New TV, ‘because they hate the Jews and they burned them.’ Then he laughs like it’s the funniest thing he’s heard in a week.”

Michael J. Totten, writing on “The Age of the Zipped Lip,” on July 12 at the Commentary blog Contentions

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