Critical Thesauricide

Letters published December 7, 2005

Big words do not an expert make: My wife and I have been ardent theatergoers for many years. We're season subscribers and have donated to several theaters, including Kalliope. I think Christine Howey's critique of Opal ["Washed Up," November 30] -- even giving her the benefit of the doubt that she's even a "critic" -- is a total misuse and miscarriage of the proverbial power of the pen.

Did Howey see the play, or did she send someone in her stead while she prepared at home, studying the thesaurus for words that neither she nor her readers ever imagined existed prior to her ridiculous attempt to utilize them? Ms. Howey's clearly apparent phony delusion of attempting to sound intelligent is overcompensated by the fact that her analysis of this play is both incongruous and erroneous. (How 'bout those words?)

For the highlights of the erroneous part, if Howey spent more time following the play than her thesaurus, she would have known that Opal is 7 years old, not 11. But then how significant is that? Sadie McKibben is Scottish -- not Irish. And what does "chewing her Irish accent to dust" mean?

She sarcastically calls the slaughtering of a pig "morbid" -- clearly a traumatic experience for an 11-, oops, 7-year-old. Did Howey ever venture out to see Hamlet, Macbeth, or even The Wizard of Oz, where that poor witch -- mean as she was -- had a house fall on her? Man, that's morbid! And Opal's "infantile" expressions? This is a 7-year-old, ya know!

You've been watching Simon Cowell too long! It is Ms. Howey's ineptitude for writing that is nauseating to me -- not the play. Can all the other critics be wrong?

Larry Adelman

Crank Yanking
Musicals are legit, unlike the review:
Melissa Levine's review of the new film adaptation of Rent ["Spent," November 23] is not only wildly ignorant, it's also far crankier than it has a right to be. Her review is filled with misinformation and reveals her ignorance both of the material and the longstanding, legitimate art form of movie musicals.

For example, it's not true that among the main characters, "almost everyone" is gay. Four of the eight central characters are, as they would be in that time and place. It's also not true that the play and film are based on Puccini's opera La Bohème. In fact, they're based on Henri Murger's wickedly funny novel from the 1840s, which has very little in common with the opera. And if two straight, HIV-positive heroin junkies falling in love is a cliché, I guess I need to catch up on my romantic movies.

If Levine finds singing and dancing on film so outrageous, so unrealistic, then I wonder how she deals with other unrealistic film techniques, like romantic montages, time-telescoping, digital effects, split screen, voice-over narration, lush orchestral underscoring, and animation. Is she this cranky about all those conventions as well? And in the age of MTV and VH1, is singing and dancing to tell a story really all that bizarre? The $10 million that Rent made its opening weekend suggests that it's not.

Rent is flawed, no question, but it won the Pulitzer Prize because it is an insightful, inventive, genuinely truthful look at being young and different in America -- a story that will never go out of date.

Scott Miller
St. Louis, Missouri

Be Nice
Save the spite for the write-up:
One of the best things about Scene is its consistent support of local bands. Asking "What's the most overhyped local band?" is useless and mean-spirited [Sound Off, November 23]. Glad to see the next question isn't so catty.

Katherine Gartman

Times Are Tough . . .
When nuclear waste is a step up:
I've been working on the subject of nuclear waste in Utah for some time and thought I would let you know that in your article [First Punch, November 23], you said that "Indians still have less political clout than Democrats. Which is why the nuclear waste will be dumped on a reservation in Utah." If you would take a look at what is going on here, you would clearly see that it is Indian leaders who are pushing to put the waste on their reservation, not the state or federal government. Thank you for your time.

Benjamin Anderson
Kaysville, Utah

The Full Nelson
Get a grip on the Ledges story:
The recent letters that passionately defended Nelson Ledges and the owners, Evan and Kristina Kelley, are symbolic of the depth of support that Nelson Ledges Quarry Park receives from folks near and far ["Finding Neverland," November 2]. Some of the article's facts were accurate, as there certainly is alcohol and drug use, especially in the woods and after hours. However, there are huge differences between a show featuring Insane Clown Posse and one with jam bands like Rusted Root and Donna the Buffalo.

The overwhelming flaw in Jared Klaus' piece was the lack of balance. Nelson Ledges is certainly a unique place, a beautiful place to swim, and a great venue to hear music. As a parent of two young children who have regularly attended events there, I have decided that it is a safe place to recreate. I feel far safer taking my children to NLQP than to many other events, including a Cleveland Browns game (where the alcohol and language are out of control) and any rib fest or similar function, where the primary purpose is to eat and drink without limits.

We no longer attend the Assumption Festival in Little Italy since witnessing an atmosphere of intoxication and the lack of crowd control. "Hangin' with hippies" is far safer, more supportive, and more creative than attendance at all the above-mentioned events.

Quentin Paul Kuntz
University Heights