Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

Issue: "Georgia twisters," Feb. 26, 2000

AMERICAN BEAUTY, THE INSIDER, THE CIDER HOUSE RULES, THE GREEN MILE
Oscar's PC lineup
Anti-suburban, anti-smoking, pro-abortion: This year's leading nominees for the Academy Awards to be passed out on Oscar Night, March 26, displayed not only physically correct actors and actresses but politically correct themes. American Beauty, a drama of sorts featuring a middle-class dad who chases after a high-school cheerleader, last week rounded up eight Academy Award nominations to lead the pack. The 5,300 directors, screenwriters, actors, and others who chose nominees were evidently receptive to a film showing a rootless, shallow family leading a life of quiet desperation in the existential nightmare known as suburbia. Also on the Hollywood plus side: Beauty is rated R for bad language, nudity, sexual situations, drug use, and violence. The Insider, a film about a tobacco industry whistle-blower, and The Cider House Rules, based on John Irving's pro-abortion novel of that name, each received seven nominations. Planned Parenthood set up special screenings of Cider House and pushed it to critics, as part of a broad campaign to let modern moviegoers know how bad things were in the days when fetuses were babies. Those two films were nominated for best picture, along with The Green Mile (a Tom Hanks death-row saga), and The Sixth Sense (about a child who can see ghosts). Two movies WORLD recommended, The Winslow Boy and The Straight Story, did not receive nominations, but Richard Farnsworth received a nomination for best actor for his work in the latter. ART UNPLUGGED
Blending ethics and art
Something's rotten in Denmark: an art exhibit. Danish artist Evaristti put up an art exhibit featuring 10 goldfish swimming in blenders. And visitors to the Trapholt Art Museum got the chance to make goldfish puree just by hitting the "on" button. After seven fish died for the cause of art, the police came in and cut the power to the blenders. Danish animal-rights activists are up in arms, but Museum director Peter Meyer defends the exhibit. He says the exhibit didn't encourage people to blend the fish but addressed ethical questions about death.

Ups & Downs of the Week
Dominik Hasek: At least 16 million reasons could explain why the well-paid Dominator, the greatest goalie in the National Hockey League, changed his mind about retiring at the end of this season. His agent, though, put it this way in USA Today: "I asked him, 'What's the difference between John Elway and Dan Marino, or Wayne Gretzky and Ray Borque?'" Mssrs. Elway and Gretzky have won championships; the other two have not. Nor has Mr. Hasek, whose Buffalo Sabres were robbed of a Stanley Cup last year when a non-call by officials gave a victory to the Dallas Stars. William Safire: One week after ridiculing conspiracy theorists, The New York Times' respected wordsmith spun a fatuous and factually incorrect yarn about WORLD's policy of sending free copies of the magazine to journalists and members of Congress. Mr. Safire insinuated this was illegal on the part of WORLD's nonprofit parent company. Pretty weak, but as Mr. Safire himself has said, "vast-conspiracy theorists need not be encumbered by facts." Our crime? The Feb. 19 issue raised questions about John McCain The New York Times refuses to raise.

Remembering Schulz, Landry
Two American Institutions
Two giants in their respective vocations died five hours apart the night of Feb. 12: Tom Landry, 75, founding coach of the Dallas Cowboys, at a Dallas hospital; and Charles "Sparky" Schulz, 77, creator of Peanuts, the most popular comic strip in newspaper history, at his home in Santa Rosa, Calif. Mr. Landry was being treated for leukemia, Mr. Schulz for heart disease and colon cancer. In his 29 seasons as head coach of the Cowboys, beginning in 1960, Mr. Landry guided his teams to 19 NFL playoffs, 13 division titles, five Super Bowls, and two Super Bowl wins. His overall record was 271-180-6. The quiet, intense, steel-jawed man in a suit and fedora hat, watched by millions every week as he paced the sidelines, was known for his consistent upright life on and off the field. Mr. Landry wrote he was "born again" in 1959 at a weekly breakfast Bible study for businessmen at a downtown Dallas hotel. He joined Highland Park United Methodist Church, a conservative congregation; he also attended Grace Bible Church for four years in the early 1970s after one of his teen-age daughters was converted there. He served on the 35-member governing board of Dallas Seminary from 1978 until his death. He was active in prison ministry, and he devoted significant time to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, including a stint as president. He gave testimonies at Billy Graham meetings. He would tell people there was something more important in his life than football: his relationship with Jesus Christ. "His legacy will last for generations ... because he influenced so many lives in such a positive way," said Lamar Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs. Through Charlie Brown and the other Peanuts characters, all of whom mirrored their creator's philosophy in one way or another in their nearly 50-year life span, Mr. Schulz was able to address big issues of life in a sensitive and perceptive way-and make people smile at the same time. His audience was huge: Peanuts appeared in 2,600 newspapers in 75 countries and two dozen languages, with an estimated readership of more than 350 million people. Once active in the Church of God (Anderson, Ind.), the shy and introverted Mr. Schulz was the first widely published cartoonist to include quotes from Scripture in his work regularly-and get away with it. With or without the quotes, preachers often saw theology in the strip-sometimes when even the cartoonist didn't, and many used the strip in sermon illustrations. By pre-arrangement, the final Peanuts strip appeared Feb. 13, which, it turned out, was just hours after the cartoonist's death. Mr. Schulz, Charlie Brown, Linus, Snoopy, and all the other Peanuts characters, it seems, exited together. "evidence piling up," accused robber flees
Take the money and run
Now you see it, now you don't-but it didn't matter for robber Douglas Holmes, sentenced last week to 55 years in prison. Midway through his Kansas City, Mo., trial last month, Mr. Holmes jumped up, grabbed the cash from an evidence bag, and fled. But Circuit Judge John R. O'Malley continued the non-jury trial and, even without the evidentiary dollars, found Holmes guilty of robbing three people. Police recaptured him two weeks ago at a liquor store. Mr. Holmes, explaining his disappearing act, said, "I saw the evidence piling up on me. I thought it would be in my best interest if I left for a little bit." Judge O'Malley, however, castigated the 30-year-old man for making "one stupid decision after another."

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