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Mail Call

Hats off: I am a realtor, and I laughed out loud at the idea of an out-of-town guest visiting a Houston restaurant on Go Texan Day ["BEERS, STEERS AND..." by Richard Connelly, March 1]. It reminded me of the time I had a client here from California during the rodeo who almost asked his employer not to transfer him here because he could not believe that our news anchors wore ten-gallon hats. He turned on the TV in his hotel room with the sound down while communicating with his office in San Francisco, so all he saw was the picture of Marlene McClinton in her Stetson.

It looks like the media consultants for the local stations finally told them what a train wreck the hats were. Now, if they could only get Dr. Neil Frank to quit dying his double comb-over and wear long-sleeve shirts under his suit jackets.

Thanks for the great story.

Mike Copenhaver
Houston

Gratuitous cruelty: It seems to be in fashion these days to paint lack of compassion toward animals (other than Fido and Fluffy, that is) as the norm and animal rights advocates, vegetarians and vegans as wackos and extremists. In that context, this insightful quote from Richard Connelly is easy to miss: "Never meeting the steer that provided your meal -- it's made many a steak dinner go down easier." Too bad that it's the "normal" people who have to turn away from the truth of what's on their plates. Maybe that explains why, year after year, even in the liberal media, scarcely a story is ever printed about the gratuitous cruelty that is the rodeo. I guess that's life in Cowtown, Incorporated.

Michelle Gunnett
Montgomery

Scout's Honor

More than nail polish: I thought your article was a little one-sided about the Girl Scouts and the Girl Scout Gold Award ["Hotel Campers," by Dusti Rhodes, March 1]. I am a senior troop leader and a cadette troop leader. I have nine seniors who have completed the prerequisites for their Gold Awards. You forgot to mention all that is required before they even begin their Gold Award projects: a minimum of three badges (most have many more), 30 hours of leadership and 40 hours of career training.

These girls do have the freedom to choose a project to their liking, but it must benefit the community, not the Girl Scouts. Mine are in the middle of planning their projects -- teaching dance workshops to underprivileged children, teaching ceramics to underserved children, teaching art techniques at an after-school center, cleaning up the grounds and planting a garden at an elementary school, etc. In a sister troop, there is one who is planning to build a whole prayer garden center for her church, one building benches and arbors at a senior citizen center, one teaching sports to underserved children and one who just finished a huge project with the VA Hospital. So, you can see the variety. It takes months of planning and coordinating to put a project together.

Our council is the second largest in the country. We serve about 58,000 girls from 25 counties. I would say that the majority of the girls are still in the traditional troops that go camping, do nature projects and service projects, and get dirty. This council has backpacking, camping, sailing, canoeing, sports, puppetry, singing, horseback riding, breast cancer awareness activities, math and science, etc. Some girls have other interests, and that is okay, too. That is where Studio 2B comes in, but I don't think there are all that many girls involved in that style in this area. Girl Scouts is a volunteer organization, so if that mother didn't like what she saw, she should have stepped in to volunteer and provide other options.

While some girls in Colorado might be interested in nail polish, others are trying to cure blindness in India, get homeless people off the streets, build nature centers and libraries, change state laws regarding the handicapped and curb violence in their schools. I wouldn't have spent 25 years in Girl Scouts if I didn't believe in it.

Please try a more balanced approach next time.

Martha Barnes
Troop Leader
Bellaire

Good Burn

Embracing theater: My name is Bernardo Cubra, and I am acting in Unhinged Productions' version of Burn This [Encore, March 1 and 8]. I wanted to thank the reviewer for his more than kind words about our play. I know that most actors try to pretend as if reviews don't matter to them, but, honestly, this is untrue. Not only do these compliments make me work even harder, but they fill the seats in the house. I also don't know if you are aware, but for some of us it validates our career choice to our parents. Today my mother and I embraced, and she cried with pride because of your review. This is the kind of moment in my life that I will never forget. Honestly, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for your honesty and for the review.

Bernardo Cubra
Houston

Show Time
The Houston Press is recognized in a western magazine competition

The Houston Press is a finalist in three categories in the Maggies, the annual magazine awards competition sponsored by the Western Publishing Association.

Press writer Todd Spivak was a finalist in two categories of the contest open to publications west of the Mississippi. The Press was also a finalist in the Best Cover category for a cover designed by Press art director Monica Fuentes with a photo by Press photographer Daniel Kramer.

Spivak was a finalist in Best Feature Article/Consumer for his story "Hog Wild," which talked about hog-dogging, a Southern tradition practiced in Texas that pits dogs against feral hogs.

Spivak was also a finalist in the Best Public Service Series or Article category for his feature "Run Over by Metro" that investigated the accidents involving the city's Metro bus system.

The September 21 cover cited by the judges was "Penal Violations."

First-place winners will be announced later this year.


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