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December 2-9, 2009

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Letters to the Editor

Noddy's Nutty for Nutz

WOW, I saw the premier of Tandy Beal's Mixed Nutz show on UCSC campus last night. It's her take on the traditional Nutcracker but without all of the familiar story and a focus on the spectacle, the fun performances and especially the acts.

If you're a fan of the New Vaudeville or Variete scene then I think you'd do well to see how it can be used in a musical theater setting. The pacing was the part that surprised me. It keeps moving and so do the jugglers, acrobats, dancers, comics, aerialist and other less describable performances.

The show makes use of some local talent but also involves performers gathered from distant exotic areas (S.F., Seattle, China, Watsonville ...). I'm a Variete performer myself I see a lot of shows. Santa Cruz is blessed to have Tandy Beal. That's a magic holiday show.

Tom 'Bubble Man' Noddy,
Santa Cruz

The Parent Trap

TO SET the record straighter regarding Alastair Bland's "Disorder in the Court" (Currents, Nov. 18): "Parental alienation" describes the relational problem obtaining when a parent badmouths their child's other parent (from whom they have separated) to the child, and places the child in an inextricable bind, frequently precluding them from having a relationship with both parents. Common sense alone, without any application of advanced training in psychology, informs us all that this can certainly, unfortunately happen. The associated syndrome refers to the child exhibiting both an aversion to one parent and a perfervid degree of solicitude toward the other, with whom they typically primarily reside--symptoms highly suggestive that a campaign of disparagement of the parent, if not direct intimidation of the child, is in fact occurring.

The most courts do in response is place the child in therapy, while paradoxically doing nothing to curb the behavior of the parent that's causing the child's distress. While California law does prescribe a parent's willingness to effectuate the child's relationship with the other parent as a factor for the court to consider, in practice parental alienation is never dispositive in awarding custody.

Available mothers, i.e., those who are not incarcerated or living in detox centers, who choose to do so can usually effectively disenfranchise a good father, consigning the children to seeing him only a couple of Sundays a month, or even much less frequently. Only if the child does absolutely terribly--to the tune of falling several years behind in school and social and emotional development, or becoming chronically involved with juvenile authorities--will the court reverse and give primary custody to the father. It's actually these actions of the courts that are animating the complaints of members of Kathleen Russell's and the other organizations featured in the article.

William L. Spence,
Santa Cruz

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