making money, to say nothing of thenfact that Mailer constantly laments hisnlack of lucre. Sex, gambling, blood—nthese are the things that Thomson indicatesnToback has on his mind, and thenfilming of them is presented as an honorablenexercise which Toback should benpermitted, without the restrictions ofnminor things like money worries. Andnif he desires to cook swill, we are allnexpected to eat from his trough and tonpay for the honor. After all, art requiresncommunication.nOne relatively young film-maker is anparticular object of Thomson’s wrath.nThomson calls George Lucas a namenwhich I suppose he spits out when henvocalizes it: “The supreme exponentnof television on the large screen.” Thenword television comes out with a dashnof lunar caustic. Interestingly, GeorgenLucas is the most solvent of those directorsndetailed (including “Angel Face”nWarren Beatty), which has to be somensort of crime in Thomson’s world,nwhere the financially successful have tonbe doing something wrong.nAs noted earlier, Thomson is distressednby the fact that directors havento bow down to the moneyed interestsnif they want to capture any of their visionnon film. Thanks to the successful StarnWars and The Empire Strikes Back,nLucas doesn’t have to do that. He isndoing so well that he was the subject ofna feature in Fortune (October 6, 1980),n”The Empire Pays Off,” in which hensays, “I’m trying to turn the systemnaround. The studios use films they don’tnhave the vaguest idea how to make tonearn profits for their shareholders. I’mnusing my profits to make films.”nIt would seem that such an attitudenwould make Lucas a patron saint fornThomson, but no, Thomson condemnsnLucas. His mortal sin.’ Lucas makesnmovies that young people enjoy (Thomsonnimplies that no one above the agenof reason finds anything of value in anLucas film). Young people who can’tnget enough of the Star Wars saga andnIndiana Jones of Raiders of the Lost Arknare causing the decline and possible falln36inChronicles of Culturenof American filmmaking, shrieks Thomson.nI’ll admit that Luke Skywalker isn’tnnearly as genuine as Taxi Driver’s TravisnBickle, but if that’s what the crisis isnall about, then I think that there’s ratherna crisis in American film criticism.nrvichard Schickel is probably bestnknown as a film critic for Time magazine.nBut film is not the subject ofnSingled Out. I wonder if Schickel hasntime to go to the movies anymore,nwrapped up as he is in a new lifestylenthat seemingly has him constantly onnthe move, from amour to amour.nSingled Out is a self-help guide forn”middle class, middle-brow” Americannmales who, like Schickel, are in theirn40’s and have ended their marriages.nIt must be noted that it’s preferable ifnthe male has been told to pack up andnget out by his once-beloved-and-nowboring,nas that will make the S.O. lifestylenmore psychologically—and, naturally,nphysically—groovy. (I hate to usenthat word, but it simply fits the stylenof the subject at hand.)nAs I went through the pages, I begannto think of it as one of the funniestnbooks about relationships between mennand women since Is Sex Necessary? bynThurber and White. But then I realizednthat Schickel is serious, and that hisnbook is actually of the type that Messrs.nThurber and White eviscerated. Inshould have known that he was seriousnbefore I started, considering the exaltednpraise the book has received. Accordingnto a blurb on the dust jacket from PetenHamiU (you know, the guy who hangsnhis ultrasuede jacket at Shirley Mac-nLaine’s—or is that Jackie O’s—or MarynTyler Moore’s?), the book, an expandednversion of an essay that appeared innEsquire, is “The most entertaining treatisenon the love game since Stendhalncrossed the finish line.” Love game?nHenri Beyle in a Pierre Cardin velournjogging suit? Yes, that’s the caliber ofnthe work. Moreover, that doyenne ofnmodern morals and mores (things thatnhave become qualified for study at thenCenter for Short-lived Phenomena, Innnsuspect), Gloria Vanderbilt, gushes,n”On this earth at last lives a man whonknows what women want. RichardnSchickel says it all.” This is prettynheavy stuff, a veritable The CompletenBook of Running for athletes involvednin that full-body contact sport knownnas the love game. It’s all covered in anbrief 115 pages, which is importantnsince game participants have little timenfor anything drab and mundane like reading,nas there are too many cute littlenbottoms to be pinched. (Note: Schickelncharacterizes derrieres in that manner;npinching is my euphemism.)nOne passage can provide a key tonunderstanding both Schickel’s point ofnview and his attitude:nNow, as somebody or other used tonsay, I want to make one thing perfectlynclear, and that is that I’m not talkingnmarriage here. I’m never talking marriage.nDon’t see any point to it, sincenI’ve already done my bit to propagatenthe race.nHis moral attitude can be formulatednto read: father a child; have a vasectomy;nhave a ball. As ad copy for thenClub Mediterranee it makes sense—asnhuman advice from a writer it bordersnon moronic minimalism.nInterestingly, Schickel never tells hisnlonely readers how they are supposednto find those lovely, semiliberated ladiesnwho are just panting to squeeze betweennthe sheets. Perhaps once a person isnS.O. he exudes a certain chemistry thatndrives women wild, just like in thosencommercials for cheap after-shave. Andnthat’s what this book is like: Some poornguy sees the commercial, buys the vilesmellingnlotion, applies it, and thinksnhe’s irresistible. It makes him feel wonderful.nLater that evening, when henrealizes that the women he tries to getnnext to in the posh singles bar treatnhim just like they did the week beforen—or maybe even a little more brusquely,nas they catch the cloying smell—he isncrushed. (Read Singled Out fornlotion.) Dn