Surely the Elyse Lanier/Lloyd Kelley "world-class Houston" seminar has to rank very high on anyone's list of fatheaded nonsense ["Unbelievable! Fabulous! World Class! Outstanding!" February 13].
It seems to me that being "world class" is rather like being "virgin." One either is or one is not, and if one has to ask, then one probably is not.
In Ms. Lanier's world every place is "world class" because she only has to order anything she wants and has it by next-day delivery.
Ask the poor how "world class" Houston is. For example, they might have some rather different answers to the question when it comes to the wretched public transportation furnished them -- transportation that was screwed up by, among others, Ms. Lanier's husband.
Even Dallas has operating light rail transportation, and we all know that Dallas is not "world class," don't we?
Perhaps, Ms. Lanier, it is a matter of perspective.
Robert I. Giesberg
Encore, Mrs. Bob, Encore!
The Elyse 'n' Lloyd Show was Unbelievable! Fabulous! World Class! Outstanding! We hope it will be a continuing regular feature of the Houston Press.
John W. Kellett
Editor's reply: Alas, we fear the pairing of Elyse and Lloyd on Kelley's On Point show on the Municipal Channel was a one-time affair, although we hope some savvy programmer for a local commercial station will realize the potential in giving these two a regular talk show.
Words to Live By
Bravo to Bob Burtman on his thorough article "Greed Head" [February 13], which demonstrates how Les Alexander has yet to learn the proverb by which my mom and dad chose to live and raise their children:
"Humility is before honor."
(Yes, I am proud to be the youngest son of Ruth and Ray, as well as Steve's admiring brother.)
Pete T. Patterson
Lovelorn in Lovelady
I thought Steve McVicker's article on me ["King Con," February 6] was fair. The only comment I have is regarding Phillip Morris. No one but the two of us will ever know intimate details of our relationship. There is no doubt in my mind how much we love each other. The reason we haven't been able to communicate is due to the Sheriff's Department's returning all of my letters. Could you please get me Phillip's cell location so I can send him one? After we parted in Mississippi I was supposed to write him first, and I imagine he is sitting there wondering what's taken me so long.
I sure appreciate your help in this, and I'll give you a call when I'm ready to give you some more news.
Editor's note: Three-time escapee Russell is currently incarcerated in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Eastham Unit. In one of the postscripts to his letter, he mentions that his "alleged escapes" occurred on Friday the 13th. "TDCJ missed that!!!" he wrote. We look forward to hearing from Mr. Russell on June 13.
The Answer Is Yes
In your article on Sheila Jackson Lee ["Driving Miss Sheila," by Tim Fleck, February 20], I noted the comment about her ability for appearing on TV: "She's got that down to perfection. Every time you look around, she's on camera." Does this mean she's the Democrats' or African-Americans' answer to Phil Gramm?
... And Tell Tchaikovsky the News
I would like to make a few comments regarding Peter Rainer's review of the Czech film Kolya ["Little Orphan Commie," February 6]. I have taken the liberty of quoting selections from Rainer's review:
"Poky, old-fashioned Hollywood [weepie] ... a sweet little nothing of a movie ... nowadays even Hollywood shies away from this sort of hyper-stickiness ... this scene, like so many others, is in the movie just in case we hadn't clued into the ongoing father-son bondathon ... most of the time, though Kolya is conventionally sentimental .... Still, goo is goo .... If Kolya were redone in Hollywood, it would probably be knocked as a shameless tearjerker ... maybe it's better this way, subtitled and 'folksy' and far from our shores."
Rainer obviously does not like films with a human twist; a twist that inevitably will touch on the sentimental. I would imagine that he doesn't like the music of Tchaikovsky, either. As interpreted by Americans and Germans, Tchaikovsky is sentimental, but as interpreted by Russians, the music is something quite different. I make this analogy because it applies to the way Kolya treats a human situation, in contrast to a Hollywood counterpart that would be filled with "weepiness, stickiness, sentimentality." Two critically acclaimed Hollywood films that fall well into that category are Forrest Gump and Mr. Holland's Opus. The subject material of these two films is worthy, but one squirms with embarrassment at the schlock being thrown at the audience, scene after scene. I won't even get into E.T. And Rainer has the audacity to say that Kolya is a film "better ... far from our shores."
There can be no comparison of Hollywood treatment with Jan Sverak's Kolya. The film incorporates a perfect blend of humor, character development, history and yes, sentiment. To call this film "a sweet little nothing of a movie" demonstrates a complete lack of sensitivity (illustrated by his sarcastic use of the word "bondathon") to a human story, presented in a very warm, unpretentious, often subtle and modest manner. I might mention that the music alone is outstanding, unlike the sentimental garbage accompanying most Hollywood films.
Believe me, I groan at my Tchaikovsky interpretations, but I was entirely engrossed in Kolya. I laughed a little, smiled a lot, shed a tear or two and empathized with Frantisek when he was separated from the "bondathon," without having to watch a flood of tears on the screen. Katharine Hepburn had tears in her eyes throughout Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.
If Rainer is sensitive to music at all, I would suggest that he listen to a performance of Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony, as performed by the famous Herbert Van and the Berlin Philharmonic, and compare it with one by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. He may learn not only the difference between complete sentimentality and the sincere depths of the human spirit, but how to interpret as well.
But Rainer is right about one thing: If Hollywood were to re-issue this film a la Hollywood, it would become a shameless piece of tear-jerking goo. As it exists, Kolya is anything but that.
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