A Loss Deeply Felt
What's happened to the comics? If this loss is permanent, I may have to switch back to the Chronicle.

John W. Kellett

Editor's note: No, don't do that. The absence of the comics page in the August 29 issue was just a temporary outage. Service has been restored.

Tiny Behiny, Big Ego
I cringed when I saw Vivian Steele on the cover of this week's Press ["Beastly Behavior," by Randall Patterson, August 22]. I was a Vivian groupie for about nine months before being denounced as one of the "forces of evil." Running from a failed career and a failing marriage, I volunteered most of my spare time to the Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Coalition shelter. It was easy to do so, because Vivian made me feel like the most special person on the planet -- calling me cute names and making me sandwiches -- which my bruised ego needed so badly at the time. And even if I thought she was a bit of a nut, she was a cute nut, and genius is never fully appreciated in its own time, right?

It's true Vivian has a cute, pixielike demeanor, and maybe even a "tiny behiny," but she also has huge, sharp elbows that she uses too hard and too quickly, and an ego as big as the great outdoors. That's how a "morning person -- a cheerful person" becomes so reviled, not because she is bad at filing or because she is enthusiastic. I'm glad the article devoted several paragraphs to Vivian's early life because so much of the distorted behavior that goes on with Vivian -- and in the rehab community as a whole, myself included -- has more to do with working out internal dramas than it does with altruism or humanitarianism or anything grandiose like that.

But be this as it may, none of the interpersonal hoo-ha has any bearing on Vivian's or TWRC's ability to care for injured wildlife. Nor does it mean that any of the various anonymous sources have much to say that is credible.

Carol Ross Muhlherr

A Reader Who Desires More "Educational" Articles
Perhaps you should take to heart the concerns expressed by those writers of the letters you headlined "Pandering in the Void" and "Closet That Linen" [August 22]. We expect our alternative paper to be more than a free Enquirer. The Press has been admired and avidly read for its investigative reporting of hard issues, especially environmental issues. Instead, you are becoming a gossip-repeating, superfluous tabloid.

I have been familiar with TWRC since it was a fledgling organization with mismatched cages on the porch of the log cabin in Houston Audubon's Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary. The Press' article reduced the years of work and effort by TWRC to create a well-trained professional organization by shrinking their accomplishments to one paragraph near the end of an article that harps on past gossip, dissension and growing pains. Although you finally mentioned that TWRC has a regular vet and good volunteer training, it should also have been said that TWRC has the only wildlife shelter in Texas accredited by the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council, has a volunteer base that is strong and growing, and has the gratitude and trust of a public that appreciates having a place to leave injured or baby animals knowing that they will be well cared for.

Vivian Steele started as a volunteer with the Houston Audubon Society before TWRC became the lucky organization receiving her boundless energy and enthusiasm, and I have had the good fortune to be her friend for the past ten years. One of her strongest character traits, as was obvious from the article, is that she is very direct and unflinchingly honest. Her devotion and concern for TWRC's development has been parallel to the care lavished on a baby animal by any rehabber. Her objective has been and still is to help raise and release an organization that will be strong and proficient and healthy.

An educational article on wildlife rehabilitation in general would have been much more useful. It could have described the several good rehab organizations around Houston with their phone numbers, locations and the animals they accept. People's growing awareness about urban wild animal problems makes them much more interested in knowing where to take injured animals, than with knowing who did what to whom and when, especially when it's old news.

Sandra Hoover

A Reader Who Understands the Value of a Gossip-Repeating, Superfluous Tabloid

I really appreciated your article "Variety Club Follies" [by Tim Fleck, July 25]. People who misuse charitable funds or fail to properly account for money under their control are not unlike politicians who use their offices and power to line the pockets of themselves and their cronies. It upsets me when crooked politicians and unscrupulous charity fundraisers can justify their crimes with faulty rationalizations and expressions of righteous indignation. The means to punish these people seems lacking, but I thank the Houston Press for at least exposing those who abuse the public trust.

Dick Andersen

That's Why They Call It "Criticism"
I was saddened to see that a member of your staff, Megan Halverson, wrote such a brutal and non-constructive review of the Gilbert & Sullivan Society's recent production of Ruddygore. [Theater, July 25]. I am not familiar with the lady's background, but I cannot help but feel that she has a very poor idea of how to critique.

This year's production was a satire on melodrama. I think Megan missed the point. Certainly the audience did not: they loved every minute of every performance and showed it by their enthusiasm.

This company has grown since its beginning 45 years ago to reach heights that no other nonprofit company in Houston has risen to before. I do not feel that it is bragging if I say that I speak with a little authority on the subject, having been born in Great Britain and having seen and heard Gilbert & Sullivan performances from childhood. I joined the Houston company in 1960, sang in every performance for 34 years, and have seen every performance since then. Last year, the company went to England and competed with other companies from Great Britain and America in winning ten nominations and four awards.

It is amazing that Ms. Halverson could come to the conclusion she did, since so many people who were very knowledgeable on the subject came to me declaring how great the production was. She missed the whole point. I feel rather sorry for her.

Mary D. Metz


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