THE NAKED TRUTH
Finally! A review that dares to point out the truth about the emperor's new clothes ["The People's Poet," Sept. 18]. Judy Lightfoot's opinions are well supported with examples from Billy Collins' Poetry Lite, as this genre of accessible verse might be called. Collins is fun to browse; however, his reputed wit is grounded on the recycled jokes academics quip at water coolers. People who find his humor fresh haven't hung around the English department of their local junior college enough to realize that this wit is the union card flashed to gain access to stale coffee at faculty lounges across North America.
Many reviewers with respectable standards have turned soft on Collins' work now that he is the emperor. How refreshing to find a reviewer sticking to the principles she has established elsewhere.
A QUIET REVOLUTION
There's nothing dumb about inviting people to feel, giving them an occasion to be quiet and rest with the sensations of the self ["The People's Poet," Sept. 18]. For many of us whose life is a rush, such small utopian moments as Billy Collins' poems create are a brief, quiet revolution. That Collins can rescue poetry from the closed circle of academia and high art is a virtue. That his work does not require graduate work in literature to be appreciated should not be counted against him.
Judy Lightfoot says it's "treacly hokum" that we become beautiful by being foolish. It strikes me that there's something lacking in her experience and spirit. Humility?
Witty fool or foolish wit? Collins or Lightfoot? I'll take Collins.
WHAT'S NOT TO GET?
I'm sorry Brian Miller decided to pan Spirited Away ["Child Abuse," Sept. 18]. It's irritating that, in an ugly display of poor taste and thoughtlessness, he gave away the plot—it smacks of an "I think this movie is dumb, so it won't matter if I give away the story"-type attitude.
Describing the dragon as "phallic" was amateurish and insulting. It was one of the most amazing, lively objects in the movie. Mr. Miller thinks kids won't get the story. But Spirited Away tells a tale familiar to any introverted kid who finds herself in an unfamiliar place with strange people (e.g., first day in kindergarten). It is a story of how a frightened girl, through courage, loyalty, love, and determination, wins her way through a frightening situation. It uses classical fantasy story themes, ranging from the poor, labor-laden child protagonist (Cinderella, anyone?) to the sudden transportation from the mundane to the fantastic (ࠬa C.S. Lewis' tales of Narnia). I think kids will get it, and parents will enjoy it, too.
YOU MIGHT BE A REDNECK
Reading Brian Miller's "review" of Spirited Away ["Child Abuse," Sept. 18] reminded me of a series of redneck jokes that I've heard, each of them sharing the central premise that rednecks are narrow-minded little bigots incapable of understanding why anyone on the planet would want to be anything other than exactly like them. The gist of Miller's review seemed to be that Spirited Away wasn't "American" enough to be a good movie. Yes, I'll agree with him that there were parts of the movie that were somewhat confusing. But that's because, not being Japanese myself, I didn't understand the cultural ideas that the plot was referencing—not because the plot itself was poorly done.
I would have understood, and even supported, the position that Disney erred in bringing to U.S. shores a movie that most Americans don't have the cross-cultural knowledge to understand. If that's the point he was trying to make, it's time for Movie Reviewing 101. But the idea that the lack of cross-cultural knowledge in a foreign audience makes a movie bad is just plain silly.
You don't have to be a "geek" to appreciate beautifully done animation, nor to appreciate a look into the mythology of other cultures. But tell me, do you have to be a redneck to be a movie reviewer?
I find it hard to believe that your editorial staff would allow such a vile review ["Child Abuse," Sept. 18] punctuated with racially charged invectives like: "chimplike button noses," "why anyone would pay money to take a bath with a bunch of strangers is likely to remain a mystery to your kids," and "A huge hit in Japan (never a phrase that inspires confidence)."
This review will offend every Japanese American reader and any culturally sensitive person. If your publication is trying make a name for itself by promoting xenophobia and ignorance, you are doing a good job.
DID SPACE ALIENS DO IT?
It was a bad call to quote gun-loving Alan Gottlieb in your story about the murder of U.S. attorney Tom Wales ["Assassination on Queen Anne Hill," Sept. 18]. Gottlieb's theory that gun-control advocates assassinated one of their own because they need a martyr is ludicrous. Rick Anderson's caveat that "no one has proved Gottlieb wrong" is a cheap way to fold this loony theory into the story. No one has demonstrated that space aliens didn't kill Wales. For that matter, no one has proved that Gottlieb didn't do it. Does that make it responsible to suggest aliens or Gottlieb, who clearly is from outer space, pulled the trigger?
OUR GRASS AIN'T SO GREEN
I wonder if Mossback is living in some parallel universe when he writes, " . . . this city and state have done everything a body politic could do to keep [Boeing] happy" [Mossback, "The Long Boe-Bye," Sept. 18]. Boeing has been taxed, harassed, and regulated by local and state governments to the point that anyplace looks better than Washington.
What does Boeing owe this community? Boeing has responsibilities to its shareholders: It must operate as efficiently as it can in order to derive the most profit. Boeing also has a responsibility to its employees: Perform a job up to the standards we set, and we will compensate you at the level we mutually agree to. Boeing has little responsibility to the community other than to obey its laws and pay its taxes.
If Boeing employees can find better jobs elsewhere, they are free to leave. Why shouldn't Boeing be free to leave if it can find better employees (or cheaper employees) and a better business environment? Washingtonians shouldn't fool ourselves: Sure, this is a nice place to live, but it isn't the ONLY nice place, and our state is way down the list when it comes to business-friendly rules and regulations.
JOBS TAKE OFF
I enjoyed the column about Boeing flying away from Seattle. Knute Berger hit the issue squarely on the head [Mossback, "The Long Boe-Bye," Sept. 18].
The same issues he cited about outsourcing (called "work transfer" by Boeing) will surface again as SPEEA (Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace) prepares to go into main table talks with Boeing on Oct. 29. Boeing is also shipping our jobs out of town. Some 600 technical workers in Moscow do engineering and technical work for Boeing. More horizontal and vertical stabilizers for the 737 are built in communist China than in the U.S. Work that was formerly done at the Spokane plant (now up for sale) is today done at a new factory Boeing built in South Africa. The plant opened a couple weeks after state-owned South African Airways announced it was switching its fleet from Boeing-built aircraft to Airbus Industries.
Communications Director, SPEEA
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