“There are times when the limitations of the printed word come into focus,” writes N.Y. Times columnist David Carr in today’s issue. “Like when there is a need to convey how it sounded when Robert Pattinson, who stars as the vampire heartthrob Edward Cullen in the forthcoming movie Twilight, stepped onto a riser at the King of Prussia Mall outside Philadelphia [last] Thursday evening in front of more than 1,000 mostly teenage girls.”

“In collective pitch, frequency and volume the sound would make a shuttle launching seem demure, a Jack White guitar solo retiring, a jackhammer somehow soothing. To reach into history, it may have approached Beatles-at-Shea-Stadium loud, replete with the weeping, swooning and self-hugging, and only the ambient flutter of cellphone cameras and furious texting by way of modern update. All of it was arrayed over a mostly unknown British actor who plays a character in a movie that will not be released until Friday.

“‘What’s with all the screaming?’ Mr. Pattinson asked when he came out. He absently ran his hand through his hair. Pandemonium ensued. He tugged at his white T-shirt in response, ever so nervously. Oh, boy. Then he laughed good-naturedly at the absurdity of it all. The smile was just a bit too much. A girl in a ‘Team Edward’ shirt fell into the arms of her friend. ‘I can’t stand it!’ she said.”