copyright Bill Widener 2000

Skewed Review

Rob, Rob, Rob -

Gee, I don't know why I'm bothering - I learned a long time ago, or I thought I did anyway, that if you spend your time addressing every idiotic thing that you run into, that you really won't have much time for anything else.

But there comes a time when you just decide that you are through suffering fools, or at least through suffering certain acts of foolishness. Well, to it:

In regards to your "Screen Scene" review of GLADIATOR...apparently you are having trouble with the word "hack". Let me see if I can help you out. A hack is someone who produces something strictly for a market, or to fill a space - someone who just gets the work in on Thursday.

This is what your review columns are; copying as exactly as you are able to do the fellow that did them before you, except not as funny. Leave off that the whole concept, while possibly cute at times, is no service to the readers of ACE. You guys sure wouldn't allow a similar column slamming all of your favorite beloved bands, now, would you?

Ah, but Hollywood and it's product is such an easy, acceptable target...all we need is a hack. Anyway, I haven't seen GLADIATOR. I have no idea if it has any quality or not. I can tell you that to produce a movie about gladiators at all, for God's sake, in the year 2000, is anything but the thinking, or the work of, a hack. By definition. Ridley Scott, who you so casually dismiss as a (here it is again) hack, has also made a few other movies you may have heard of. One of them is called ALIEN. Another is BLADE RUNNER. I would mention THE DUELLISTS, but I'm pretty sure you haven't seen that one, it probably didn't look too appealing there in the video store next to all those movies with cool & hip people in them....

Anyway, this kind of casual dismissal of one's betters is common among young typists who suddenly find themselves with a real live outlet, but have nothing to say except what they have read of others. I know that we are supposed to see a real deep critical sense in these comments, and we are expected to be wowed by the overwhelming insight that any critic must possess who dares to issue such dismissals....ah, the hell with it.

Now you can refer to yourself as "controversial", seeing as how you are the first critic ever to take shots at sacred cows just because you can; and now you've gone and ruffled some feathers! Does it get any better than that? You silly, silly boy.

Jeff Deaton

via email

The Chilling Truth

I loved the hilarious story on what's inside Lexington's famous fridges [Rob Bricken's Fridges of Fayette County, Pt Deux, Jun 8] last week.

But I have to echo the sentiments from the Horses Mouth. Lexington's local restaurants will never break the choke-hold of the chains until and unless they sharpen up.

Chains own this city because they are cheap, easy, and consistent (consistently mediocre, but consistent). The higher-brow establishments seem to pride themselves on rude service, the prices rival what you might find in New York City, and the food quality swings from mind-blowing to inedible.

There are exceptions, but they are too few, and too far between. How about a story on that?

H. M. Carter

via email

Things We Missed

Thanks for renewing Southern Voices, my favorite holdover from the old days of "Ace Magazine." What a pleasure to open up your pages and find Wendell Berry and Ed McClanahan. [May 25, June 8].

Now if only you'd bring back book reviews.

Best Regards,

Mark McLure

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Mail: 263 N. Limestone, Lexington, Ky 40507


Every Sperm is Sacred

Let the heathen spill theirs/On the dusty ground/God shall make them pay for/Each sperm that can't be found.

-Michael Palin/Terry Jones

Surely it says something about western medicine that we're still waiting for the new male birth control- but somehow managed to get Viagra and minoxidil to the shelves in record time.

Maybe science is more interested in getting guys laid, than it is in dealing with the consequences.

Curing disease suddenly seems trivial - frivolous, even -in the wake of scientific advances that maintain erections and cure baldness. (Perhaps we should promote Eric Idle to Surgeon General and he could allocate our resources in prudent observance of his tune, "Isn't it awfully nice to have a penis/ Isn't it frightfully good to have a dong?/ It's swell to have a stiffy/It's divine to own a dick/From the tiniest little tadger/ To the world's biggest prick.")

While this week's cover story examines the latest skirmish in the abortion wars, it seems that - with the exception of a few fascist zealots (many of whom we've elected) - quite a few of us might agree that any productive discussion of the problems surrounding overpopulation, unwanted pregnancies, and teen pregnancies ought to start with improved sexual education (for all ages) that includes accessibility to birth control, and adequate information about how to use it.

If we were smart, we wouldn't stop there. We'd have condom machines in the bathroom of every public high school. Sure, nobody likes showering in a raincoat, but it beats stayin' home from the prom 'cause you couldn't find a sitter. (To say nothing of the benefits of disease prevention.)

Unfortunately, that's only one tiny step towards solving a problem that encompasses religion, poverty, education, gender politics, employment, the economy, and so on.

In the U.S. - for all our repressive, puritanical ideas about sex-we do enjoy unprecedented access to contraceptives. But as a society, we still seem to have an alarming lack of willingness to actually use them. There's obviously something far more insidious behind our reckless inclination to overpopulate the earth far beyond the realm of sustainability.

The two best societal examples of population control confirm this. China's "one child" policy has been in effect since 1979, and you don't have to be a member of the ACLU to recognize its scary implications (the success of the policy is predicated on high rates of both infant mortality, and infanticide, particularly of girl babies). The Indian state of Kerala, on the other hand, has brought down their fertility rates faster than China and without coercion, according to research conducted by Cambridge professor Amartya Sen. They did it by investing in a multi-party democracy that focused on education and employment opportunities for women. Sen's research led Christopher Hitchens to conclude (in a recent profile), "economic development is the best contraceptive. Women must be educated and empowered. When given access to literacy and health care and the job market, they begin at once to reverse the millennial and superstitious practice - born of ignorance or as insurance against loneliness and poverty - of delivering more children."

Maybe that's where welfare reform needs to start in this country.

The rest of the idiots in the western world need to recognize that, regardless of your religious beliefs, conception is not really a miracle. Pregnancy is not a sacrament that is only bestowed upon the purest and worthiest among us. If you need proof, Madonna has managed it twice, that we know of.

If you have some spiritual, religious bias against contraception, then keep your pants zipped and your knees crossed. If you just feel it's your God-given imperative to pass on your many special qualities to the next generation, for Chrissake, adopt.

The wisdom behind "be fruitful and multiply" no longer applies, and this ain't the Ark. Getting pregnant is easy (for most people). Not getting pregnant actually requires some effort. Let Hallmark find a holiday for that.

At 6 billion, we can all afford to take a little break.

Me? I'm just for anything that shaves five minutes off the Richmond Road rush hour and gets the traffic moving.