Right on! Alison Cook's incisive parody of "The Year That Bit" [January 1] was a masterful satire that put Texas Monthly's "Bum Steer Awards" in pale comparison. Even Esquire's "Dubious Achievements" plays second to Cook's "awards," particularly the frequent references to our resident dimwit, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee! I always look forward to December's Esquire and Texas Monthly. Next year it will be the Houston Press.

William Thomas Ocel

Begs to Differ
"The Year That Bit" was a terrible waste of Alison Cook's talent. After the first 40 pages of terminally clever bits, I dozed off. Next year, please think of something original.

Billy Boos

Not So Shocking
I note you were "shocked, shocked!" by Houston IRS agent Jennifer Long's revelation to a U.S. Senate subcommittee that she knew of five people who committed suicide while being investigated by the IRS ["The Year That Bit"]. Considering the tens of thousands of people the IRS deals with in an audit or collection action each year, it would be surprising if a few of them didn't choose to commit suicide during that time. As for a causal relationship, though, it just ain't there.

Too bad you've chosen to relax your usual high standards of investigative journalism when dealing with that most-hated of bureaucracies. There are stories here that should be told, but the Senate sideshow isn't among them.

Name withheld by request

Good Question
I'm usually not obsessed with political correctness, especially if there's a good laugh involved. But something jumped out at me in your description of the wild "Kappa Weekend" beach party in Galveston ["The Year That Bit"]. You described the group as "alumni of a black fraternity." What did their race have to do with the story? Would you have specified their color if it had been white?

Paul Hornick
via Internet

Too Snobby Even for T.N. Van Swearingen!
Okay, I'll admit it: I love the Houston Press. I pick it up every week. I even check it out on the Web. I look to the Press for insights on movies, new restaurants to try, etc. I was glad to learn that you'd found a new restaurant critic -- until I read his column on Armando's ["Revamp in River Oaks," by Eric Lawlor, January 8].

I guess I'm really stupid or something, but would you mind including a dictionary with your newspaper every week? I see that I can never go to Armando's. For God's sake, the review of the restaurant was even too snobby for me to read!

Maybe you could print two versions of the restaurant review: one as it is now, and the other for the "highbrow-impaired?" In closing, I'd just like to say, "Eric, Eric, Eric. Speak English!"

T.N. Van Swearingen
via Internet

Tim Fleck, Role Model
Thank you for your article regarding Hermann Park and the "Friends of Hermann Park" ["With Friends Like These..." The Insider, by Tim Fleck, January 15]. It is way past time to provide protection to Houston's gorgeous resources, one of which is our mature live oak trees. Other cities, such as Austin, have laws to protect trees. Thank you for using your position in the community as a positive influence. Obviously, the "Friends" need a role model.

Dennis Beck
via Internet

Hobart Rowland, Dumbass
Hobart Rowland's review of the Dead Milkmen CD [Music, Rotation, January 8] is as lame as he is! It's pretty clear he's not interested in punk. It's dumbass people like him who give music a bad name.

Mike Moya
via Internet

Hobart Rowland, Provider of Pure, Unadulterated Joy
Really enjoyed Hobart Rowland's end-of-the-year summary of 1997 releases [Music, Static, January 1]. As a fan of World Party, I was beginning to think I was the only person who has noticed that Egyptology was even released, let alone that it has a handful of really good tunes on it. I was also pleased to see Matthew Sweet, Freedy Johnston, the Old 97's and Delbert McClinton make the various lists of the year's bests. Like many (most?) of your readers, I don't always agree with Rowland, but I must say that his list of "The Worst of What You Did [Hear]" was spot on, from top to bottom. I'd much rather read a music critic with an opinion than one whose tastes always match my own.

Mike McInnis
via Internet, Houston

Hobart Rowland, Proud Michael Hutchence Fan
I felt compelled to respond to and basically echo what Hobart Rowland wrote [Music, Static, December 11] regarding the rather untimely and tragic death of Michael Hutchence, lead singer of the Australian rock band INXS. Mr. Rowland is correct to assume that Hutchence's passing has indeed impacted the lives of many loyal fans of the group. Working in contemporary radio, I am fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to converse and exchange thoughts with a number of admirers of the band. Most of them obviously question why he did what he did, others manifest emotions of frustration and sadness, some are still in denial about the demise of INXS. All, of course, are disappointed. On a personal note, I am anything but embarrassed (Mr. Rowland mentioned that some people may be) to admit INXS has been one of my favorite bands for many years, and lately I find myself becoming more appreciative of the fact that other artists of the same genre (U2, R.E.M., the Cure, etc.) are still together and producing music.

Michael Hutchence is missed by his followers and I am certain even more so by his family, bandmates and others who were close to him. The absence of INXS has definitely not gone unnoticed, and their music will unquestionably live on in the hearts of people all around the world for many years to come. God rest Michael Hutchence's soul.

Dave Summers

A Real Mother for Ya
In your December 25 issue someone wrote suggesting that "Chumbawamba" was the Tibetan name for Mount Everest [Letters, "Secrets of Chumbawamba," by D. Tucker]. The name for which the letter writer was searching was "Chomolungma," meaning something along the lines of "Great Earth Mother" or "Mother Goddess of the Earth."

Vivek Pai
via Internet


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