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Oh, Maureen. Did You Run Out Of Things To Say About The ‘Beer Summit’?

pf-headshotOh Maureen. Did you run out of things to say about the “beer summit”? Or Obama’s fly-swatting skillz? Last I checked, the world is still blowing up — or maybe there’s a temporary lull. But Maureen Dowd thinks the soon-to-be-forgotten souffle of the moment, Julie & Julia, by deadly director Nora Ephron, is occasion for us to be treated to Ms. Ephron’s deep thoughts about food.

I call Maureen Dowd out pretty often on my personal blog, sometimes harshly, but I’m actually a fan. She’s at her best when using her withering glare to channel our collective outrage, or to mock swan-diving politicians. At her worst, she falls upon tired tropes: the forced parallel, Hollywood-meets-Washington, alleged public fascination with Carla Bruni, and the mercifully retired Al Gore interior monologue.

Her tendency to suck up to her movie friends by wedging their briefy buzzed-about minor efforts (e.g., “Full Frontal,” “The Soloist,” “Trust The Man,” “The Matrix Reloaded,” and “The Four Feathers” remake) into her columns is one of her more annoying flaws. Today, in honor of Ephron’s new film, we learn such gems of wisdom as:

Q: Is eating while driving more dangerous than tweeting or texting?

A: It’s way more dangerous if a knife and fork are involved.

Also, Ms. Ephron believes “there are far too many people walking around carrying cups of coffee.” (Suck it, Starbucks!) And though eating in elevators, bathrooms and hair salons is always off-limits, ice cream in bed is great and eating nuts while on the phone is unavoidable. But don’t fear that the two ladies have completely neglected the world’s greater problems this rainy Sunday:

There is far too much arresting of people going on. Not just Skip Gates — a couple of weeks ago, some poor woman in Montauk was arrested in her bathing suit, marched off the beach and charged with a felony for forging a beach parking sticker.

Priorities! Pay no attention to those 100 dissident leaders now on trial in Iran for conspiracy! Bob Herbert must be feeling like such a chump, with all his crusades for the wrongly imprisoned.

Dowd can be movingly perceptive at great moments; her recent descriptions of Sarah Palin as “a volatile and scattered country-music queen without the music” and “Nixon with hair extensions” could have come from no one else, and she’s not afraid to bite the slimy hand that feeds her (the mysterious Mexican billionaire bankrolling The Times). Then she rides off the rails with something like an earnest, extended meditation on the significance of politicians having blue eyes or some mindlessly sexist trivia about Michelle Obama. That Sunday New York Times op-ed real estate is a valuable thing — Dowd clearly chafed at being relegated to Saturday and muzzled by TimesSelect.

One hates to see it squandered with a phoned-in doodle like today’s column by someone clearly capable of writing rings around some of her colleagues.

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