Americans stay a step ahead

It's not clear whether nature or the news media abhor a vacuum more. If there are events to be analyzed, we analyze. That's why we're trying desperately to tell you what is the zeitgeist of these post-Sept. 11 times. It's what we do.

And, by the way, you're a tough bunch to figure out.

Yes, we report in amazement, many of you are able to laugh again. But irony died, right? Oops, not at The Onion, a satirical online humor magazine, which is back doing scathing parodies, including a fictitious quote from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in which he asks "that all Americans be quiet, stop asking questions, accept the orders of authorities - and let us get on with the important work of defending liberty[!?]."

Some of you are glued to "All Terror, All the Time" cable news networks. But others are watching "Friends" or "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" in huge numbers. Aha! This year you're not watching many new TV shows! But, oh yeah, that's just the way things are every fall.

"The [movie] box office really has not been affected in a major way by the events," Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations, tells the Associated Press. The tough and violent "Training Day," with usual good-guy Denzel Washington playing a corrupt cop, topped the box office last weekend. Video stores rented or sold violent pictures as usual, including movies specifically about terrorism.

And jokesters aren't avoiding Sept. 11 material after all. At a New York fundraiser, comedian Colin Quinn said he couldn't get used to New Yorkers now trying to be friendly. "It just doesn't work," he is quoted as saying by The New York Times. "It still sounds like a threat. On an elevator, a guy says, 'Beautiful day today: right or wrong?' "

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