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September 24 - October 1, 2008

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Letters to the Editor

Dude, Lighten Up!

I REMEMBER WHEN Richard von Busack was funny, really funny. He wrote for the UCSC student newspaper, and the guy was a hoot. Of course, that was sometime in the 1980s, and he's become a bit more dense and obtuse since then. But his review of Burn After Reading (Film, Sept. 17) was clear enough: the film's an incomprehensible Tootsie Roll Pop without the caramel center. For Richard, while the Dude abides, the CIA merely persevere. And a world which is farcical and without redemption makes for a pointless movie.

Of course, that's the nature of farce. And much of the world, especially the one made of Washington politics and "intelligence" where this movie lives, is pointless to an extreme. But come on--a brilliantly acted film, with an almost flawless script, which Richard describes with rare clarity as not "understandable"?

An existentialist like your reviewer should know that Kafka's bugs come in all shapes and sizes. One need look no further than the title, and thereby skip the review: "Burn After Reading."

 Dana Scruggs,
Santa Cruz


Up with The People

WHY SHOULD Santa Cruz insist on union jobs for the operation of the proposed La Bahia Hotel? Because Santa Cruz does not need more low-paying jobs, we need jobs that provide dignity and respect for the workers and support families who can live in our community.

Non-union hotel and hospitality workers are some of the lowest-paid workers in our community. Many are women or single parents who struggle to afford housing, transportation and food; often health care is out of reach. Individually, they have little power to bargain with the company for improvements in their employment. Union workers have much more than just better pay and health benefits; together they have a stronger voice when bargaining or when faced with job loss or discipline. A Union La Bahia will give upward pressure on the entire hospitality market. A non-union La Bahia will press downward.

Ned Van Valkenburgh,
Santa Cruz

Watch, Think, Write

THE GRATUITOUS "cap" by Metro Santa Cruz's film reviewer for The Family that Preys (Steve Palopoli), offered up the opinion that "it took Tyler Perry roughly 12 minutes to make ... another in his rapidly expanding empire of family-oriented comedies," makes it seem that your film reviewer likely didn't actually go see the movie. In the whole paragraph "recapping" (I'm being generous here) the movie, SP first identified the movie as a comedy, and fails to offer even the slightest hint of the plot--by the way, what do you call a judgment made before the "facts" are in?

The movie, by the same name, that I saw seemed to be more in the genre of tragicomedy--a genre predating even William Shakespeare's tragicomedies all the way back to Euripides and Aristotle's Poetics. A tragicomedy is marked by the "move towards catastrophe like tragedy, but fortunate events or actions intervene to bring about a happy ending ..." according to the University of Victoria's Department of English.

Alfre Woodard and Kathy Bates are the two matriarchs of their families, and the movie shows the temptations that draw their children away from the "straight and narrow path" and towards certain catastrophe. They are seemingly "characters of different classes"--another element in tragicomedy. Predatory behavior among some of their children is what moves some of the characters towards impending catastrophe. The commonplace challenges to each of these matriarchs as they grow older adds to the plot--they're real people with real world problems. But you have to actually go see the movie to find out what differentiates tragicomedy from tragedy.

Perhaps your reviewers will go and actually see the films they presume to recap or review for your readers!

Chris Nunez,
Santa Cruz

Computer Cooks

THANK YOU to Paul Davis for his informative article on the Bike Church expansion ("Power to the People," News&Views, Sept. 17). We would like to add that anyone interested in learning more about the Computer Kitchen should check out our website at In October we will be moving into the current PedEx office but if you still need a good bike courier service they'll be moving one office down next door. Boosh!

Dan Devorkin and Robert Sese,
Santa Cruz

Last week we reported in error that the practitioners at the Grassroots Acupuncture Project donate their time ("Student Survival Manual," Cover story, Sept. 17). In fact, they are paid. The project is open six days a week at varying times of the day to accommodate different schedules. We regret the error.

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