Monday, October 30, 2006

Equality Not for All

To the Editor:

President Bush laments the New Jersey Supreme Court's decision as yet another attack on the sanctity of heterosexual marriage. A letter writer argues that because the state has an interest in securing the future of society, only heterosexual marriage should be authorized because homosexual unions are sterile. None of these rulings is taking away any marriage rights from heterosexuals but only broadening these rights to other individuals, namely gays and lesbians. I fail to understand how traditional marriage is diluted or the state's interest in promoting procreation through legally-recognized families is adversely affected by this latest decision.

Friday, September 22, 2006

It's a Wonderful Drug-Filled World

To the Editor:
William C. Rhoden (Column, July 28) demands that cycling look itself in the mirror and make fundamental changes in its seemingly widespread use of performance enhancing drugs. But why single-out this sport over others? And why demand that only sports ask itself these questions? We, especially in America, are a society which lives and thrives on drugs, legal or otherwise. Federal statistics show that the average number of prescriptions filled by non-institutionalized Medicare recipients in 2002 was 32 compared to 18 in 1992.
Increases in legal drug usage are not confined to older Americans; I am an otherwise healthy 48 year-old man who has taken for the past year daily medications for cholesterol, blood-pressure, and triglycerides, not to mention a baby aspirin. Do these drugs give me an unfair advantage in life? I hope so. Are there other ways I could help ensure that I may live longer than my father, who died of heart disease at 52? Of course, and although I also exercise and follow a sensible diet, I won't give up the drugs because they work. How can we demand that premiere athletes give up their drug enhancements when we fans engage in the same behavior for the very same reason--so we can all enjoy life as long as we can?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Brokeback Comes Crashing Down

To the Editor:

In September, you published a letter from us which noted the laughter we endured at a preview of "Brokeback Mountain." We theorized that based on our experience, we didn't think Americans were ready to embrace a big screen love story about two men. Since it opened, however, "Brokeback Mountain" has become something of a cultural phenomenon, earning expansive critical praise, solid box office across the country, and many awards. Perhaps we had misjudged, we thought. That was, until Sunday evening, when the Academy chose "Crash" as the best picture of the year, after awarding best director and screenplay to the "gay cowboy" movie. No one will ever know why the Academy members voted the way they did, and many theories have been offered ("Los Angeles Retains Custody of Oscar", March 7, 2006). As for us, we now wonder whether some of those Academy voters, in the privacy of their own homes when casting their secret ballots, decided to have the last laugh.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

It's a Joke, Guys

To the Editor:

Muslims are outraged over a series of editorial cartoons first published in Denmark last fall then recently republished throughout Europe last month, all of which Muslims believe are blasphemous because they make fun of the Prophet Mohammed.

Interestingly, there's been a similar outcray in this country over a cartoon, this one by Tom Toles in The Washington Post. The Pentagon prophets wrote to the Post to express their outrage, stating: "We believe you and Mr. Toles have done a disservice to your readers and your paper's reputation by using such a callous depiction of those who have volunteered to defend this nation, and as a result, have suffered traumatic and life-altering wounds." Come on guys, it's obvious the butt of the joke isn't our soldiers but the prophet of the Iraq war, Donald Rumsfeld.

Tolerance in the world is rapidly disappearing, and this Administration is just as responsible as the Muslims who are protesting.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Male Like Me

To the Editor:

I'm not much of a book reader, which is why in college I decided to major in English (it didn't work). This morning, however, your cover photos of Norah Vincent and David Kamp's review of her book about her journey into manhood captivated me so ("Self-Made Man," January 22). Maybe it's because I loved its antecedent "Black Like Me" when I was young, or, as a gay man, I can sometimes identify with a woman's feeling of alienation from the inner sanctum of all that is male. Whatever the case, I'm going out to the bookstore this afternoon to buy the book and am ready to be, as was Mr. Kamp, "hooked from Page 1."

One Party That's Over

To the Editor:

Re "Lobbyist Accepts Plea Deal." Everyday on my way home from the office, I pass Jack Abramoff's restaurant in Washington, DC and, up until a few months, would notice how it was packed most nights with what appeared to be the capital's elite. Corruption cocktails, perhaps? A couple of months ago, the restaurant abruptly closed; to this day, the front interior door is still ajar, a stainless steel cart sits abandoned in the entryway, and barstools sit upside down on top of the bar. The party, indeed, is over.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Update III--Brokeback reviews

I decided to do a bit more research on whether the Brokeback reviews and the high percentage of "F's" the movie received from registered users on boxofficemojo.com was also prevalent on any other website. So I went to yahoo.com and, although the site's grades from users aren't broken down by percentage, Brokeback received an average grade of 'B" from users. But what yahoo does do is post the users who not only grade the movie but also post reviews. So I read those reviews whose grades were "F's." Read them and judge for yourself why you think this movie generates such disparate and passionate opinions. For me, these are the same people who laughed at the previews I wrote to the Times about in September. http://movies.yahoo.com/mvc/drv?mid=1808403312&s=rt_a&st=0&tot=1513&ys=EF5QH7dDIp8rTIFU5fpYaw--

Update II--Brokeback Mountain

We finally saw the movie and were not disappointed. It was understated and beautiful, and the filmmaking expertly complemented the story. As we were sitting there digesting it, two women walked by, one saying to the other "That was so boring." My thought was "you are so stupid."

The movie has had steady, but not spectacular, box office, grossing as of today, a total of $15,018,000, ranking it no. 14 on the current box office charts. Its screen average, however, of $17,202 (on 269 screens) puts it at no. 1 of the top 15 movies. No. 2, with a per screen average of $11,515, is Munich, (572 screens); Narnia, this weekend's box office champ, is no. 4 with a screen average of $8,525 (3,853 screens). This data comes from http://www.boxofficemojo.com.

Another very interesting fact from this site is the grade of "B" for Brokeback by boxofficemojo.com registered users and how this grade is broken down. The movie received an "A' from 71.4% of registered users who voted (making it one of the top-rated "A" movies), but also received an "F" from 22.6% of the voters, (making it one of the movies with the highest "F" ratings). No other top-rated "A" movie seems to have such a high negative rating. For example, while Narnia received an "A" from 69.5% of voters, it received an "F" from only 5.9% of voters. Of course, these votes aren't scientific, but I wonder what accounts for the high percentage of "Fs." My theory is a lot of registered users, who probably haven't even seen the movie, wanted to give it an "F", most likely because of its gay storyline. I really can't imagine that of those who have seen it hate it that much to give it "F." But maybe, like the woman whom I quote above, some people do find it boring. That's sad, because it really is a beautiful movie which everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, should be able to enjoy.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Update: "Brokeback Mountain" Opening

Update: In light of the opening of "Brokeback Mountain" on Friday, I am reposting my letter which the NYT published back in September. Perhaps with all of the positive reviews, the moviegoing public will prove my prediction wrong. I hope so.

'BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN' Laughing It Off

To the Editor:
Re "Cowboys in Love ... With Each Other" by Karen Durbin [last Sunday]:Last night we attended a screening of "The Constant Gardener" that included a preview of "Brokeback Mountain." At the end of the preview, most of the audience laughed. Then in "The Constant Gardener," Fernando Meirelles's very serious film of John le Carré's novel, only one line of dialogue generated any real laughter: a British spy, in trying to explain to Ralph Fiennes's character how his wife's colleague, a gay doctor, could have murdered her in a crime of passion, quips that he's known some "savage queens" in his day. The audience guffawed.
Ms. Durbin writes that while some straight people will stay away from Mr. Lee's movie because of its subject matter, anticipation for the movie is high based on Internet chatter. Judging by the reaction of an audience in Washington, one of the most educated metropolitan areas in the nation, we venture to say that even in 2005, most of the moviegoing public will stay away, no matter how elemental or truthful Mr. Lee's film is about the experience of two cowboys in love.

[Signed by me and my partner]

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

And, a portion of Newsweek's review of the movie: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10017716/site/newsweek/

". . . Ledger has a theory about why the movie makes some men uncomfortable. 'I suspect it's a fear that they are going to enjoy it,' he says. 'They don't understand that you are not going to become sexually attracted to men by recognizing the beauty of a love story between two men.' That discomfort would seem to make the movie difficult to market. When the trailer plays in theaters where there are a lot of young men in the audience, it's often met with snickers or outright laughter. How do you get those guys to see the movie? You don't. 'If you have a problem with the subject matter, that's your problem, not mine,' Schamus says. 'It would be great if you got over your problem, but I'm not sitting here trying to figure out how to help you with it.' In an early meeting, Schamus told Lee that, from a marketing standpoint, they were making this film for one core audience. 'Yes, of course,' Lee said. 'The gay audience.' No, Schamus said. 'Women.'"

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

High School Fever

To the Editor:

Re "Give Me an Rx! Cheerleaders Pep Up Drug Sales" (Nov. 28): you report about the possibility of a doctor making decisions about what drugs to prescribe based on the sex appeal of a sales representative, due to a trend by pharmaceutical companies to hire employees with cheerleading backgrounds. Great, now I have to worry about my doctor prescribing me a drug because the former high school nerd finally got some attention from a cheerleader!

Note: here's a letter the Times published today. I guess I should have a female doctor.

To the Editor:
Re "Gimme an Rx! Cheerleaders Pep Up Drug Sales" (front page, Nov. 28):
As a female emergency physician, I smiled - no, laughed outright - that this made your front page.
Any doctor who sees pharmaceutical representatives knows that there is an overabundance of very attractive young women calling on doctors' offices.
Certainly, their appeal is obvious, but they are not selling lip gloss to teenage girls; they are selling expensive, patented drugs to doctors who I hope would be persuaded to prescribe the drugs for their merits and safety, not by the appearance of the representative.
If it's any consolation to the people who were shocked by this marketing stratagem, I was never swayed to prescribe a drug by a Cleveland Browns cheerleader.

Andrea Rodgers, M.D.Akron, Ohio, Nov. 28, 2005

Sunday, November 20, 2005

My 5th Letter Published by the NYT (November 20, 2005; Sunday Styles)

The Best Publicity

To the Editor:
Re "Can This Image Be Saved?" and "Defining Me, Myself and Madonna" (Nov. 13):
Your report on Tom Cruise's publicity problems quotes a publicist, Howard Bragman, saying that with Mr. Cruise's new publicist, "I think you'll now get the Tom Cruise we knew and loved, the superstar who will keep on message." In the same section you published a love letter by your reporter to Madonna.
Perhaps Mr. Cruise should have taken a cue from Madonna and hired her longtime publicist, Liz Rosenberg, since even after 20 years in show business Madonna continues to stay on her own message, no matter how many times that message may have been reinvented, and still generates the type of publicity of which most publicists and stars can only dream.

(c) The New York Times Company

Friday, November 18, 2005

Pork Redux

To the Editor:
Your editorial ("The Congress from Nowhere", November 18) states that the current Congress "really know[s] how to get things done when it comes to meaningless face-saving legislation" and cites to enacted laws which you argue puts local pork above fighting terrorism. Here's another fact: of the 102 bills which the 109th Congress has enacted into law, 24 of them (that's 23.5%) deal only with the naming of federal courthouses and post offices in honor of certain Americans. While I am sure that these fine Americans deserve this recogntion (including the latest, the Rosa Parks Federal Building in Detroit), it appears that when our representatives aren't directing pork back home they're delivering their next favorite legislative trick--the naming of buildings built by previous pork.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Update on Thank You, Thank You

It may not be a published letter in the NYT, but William Safire (or someone on his staff) did respond by e-mail to my letter to him last week asking for his thoughts on the death of "you're welcome." (see my post of Nov. 2nd). It seems as if Mr. Safire wrote about this very issue, in his December 17, 1995 "On Language" column, the relevant part reproduced below. It's gratifying to see that we've both noticed this phenomenon, even if he did so ten years earlier than me.

ON LANGUAGE; The Word That Brought Down the House
By William Safire

...Unwelcome News Used to be, when somebody said, "Thank you," the other person replied, "You're welcome" -- automatically, as the night the day, as bitte followed danke. Along came no problem. Somebody politely said, "Thanks"; the other guy said, "No problem," or in idiomatic Russian, "Nyet problema." When the no problem response faded away, did you're welcome come back? No; it's been expunged from the lexicon of courtesy. Now, all you hear in answer to "Thank you" is "Thank you."
After billions of usages across centuries of parlance, You're welcome is now unwelcome. The time for exchanging gifts is upon us, but our natural response to largesse has been belittled. I'm afraid to say it aloud, but if you want to express your appreciation for my pointing this out, you know what you are.

I replied with a thank you e-mail. I'll let you know if he sends me a you're welcome.

No, You Can't Get a Little Privacy

To the Editor:

I just can't wait for tomorrow's edition and the inevitable publication of a letter to the editor in The New York Times which will decry Dan Savage's well-reasoned article advocating a constitutional right to privacy amendment soley because Mr. Savage is a gay man ("Can I Get a Little Privacy?", OpEd, Nov. 16). Because, as we all know, and as Mr. Savage recognizes in Chief Justice John Robert's testimony on privacy, only those "traditional values" citizens are really entitled to be left alone.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Dear Diary, er, Dear World

To the Editor:

Just a little over two years ago, I didn't know what a blog or online diary was. But I certainly received my baptism by fire, as they say. You see, I happened to come across a blog entry which hit a bit too close to home--a very detailed, post-first date assessment of an evening I spent with the blogger only days earlier. Even a few years ago, with reality dating shows proliferating the airwaves and twenty-four webcams set up in peoples' bedrooms, I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised at finding an online an assessment of a date with me, written a mere 12 hours after the date ended. But I was.
Ok, you're probably wondering how I discovered this blog. "Dave" (not his real name), my date, did not send me an e-mail with the URL web address of his review of our date (perhaps that would have been a bit more honest), but he did provide me with his e-mail address (more on that later), which was his "online name" @ livejournal.com. Not knowing what livejounrnal was, I typed in its URL and discovered that it was "a free service that allows you to create and customize your very own journal: a journal that you keep online!" [I realize now, only a couple of years later, how quaint that description seems; these days the site states that it is "a simple-to-use (but extremely powerful and customizable) personal publishing ("blogging") tool..."].
The site also prompted me to search for members. Since I was somewhat intrigued about "Dave," I decided to see if I could find out a bit more about a person with whom I shared what I thought was an enjoyable, and private, evening. But as they say, be careful of what you ask for.
After typing in "Dave's" online name, I saw a link to his "recent entries." After clicking, my eyes quickly zoomed in on an entry from two days earlier: "First Date." Perhaps I should have stopped there and proceeded no further, but come one, who could have?
What I found was a bit difficult to read. And it wasn't because Dave made rather definitive, and not necessarily flattering, conclusions about the type of person he perceived me to be. Or that he didn't think I was his type because I was "too perfect"--"Perfect body. Perfect house. Perfect friends. There's like a league of perfects out there I just don't belong to, and I don't understand where they come from." [I think that is what they call a "backhanded compliment."]
No, my fundamental problem with what "Dave" did was that he violated my privacy. He wrote for all the world to read (or at least for those who were aware of his blog, or could at least find it) about a private evening I shared with him in my home. Ironically, at one point in the evening, I joked that I had my home wired with hidden video cameras and that our date was being streamed live over the internet to all my gay friends (I knew he was into computers and the internet but was obviously unaware of the extent to which he devoted his life to the world wide web). Of course, that is exactly what he later did with his post.
And this was from a man who zealously guarded his own privacy. A blogger who, even after our first date, wouldn't give me his phone number (only that fatal e-mail address), telling me he doesn't like to give out such personal information to "someone he doesn't know." A blogger who, when I politely and considerately asked if I could forward to my best friend his picture which he had e-mailed to me, uttered an emphatic "No!"
Perhaps I am being naive, considering that privacy is so quickly eroding based, in part, on 21st Century humans' seemingly insatiable need to disclose to the world every aspect of their lives [e.g., reality tv shows]. Perhaps I'm even being inherently inconsistent because I now maintain this, my very own blog.
But the point of my blog isn't to disclose private events or secrets or even why I love my boyfriend so much. The point of my blog is to discuss my thoughts and ideas on issues and events which are public, those to which we can all relate because they are part of our collective and shared lives.

Blogbits

To the Editor:

I'm a new blogger and wanted to share a few observations from my first week.

Isn't it ironic that the spell check software blogger provides doesn't recognize the words "blog" or "blogger"? [it suggests "bloc" and "blocker", among others]. I realize I can make my version "learn" these words, but isn't that something this site could have easily done for all of us?
Also, I'm not sure about this reverse chronology thing. I realize that having the most recent post first in a fundamental concept of blogs. As http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/dowbrigade/2003/09/27 puts it "[a] blog, if you read it every day, is an evolving, unfolding story as seen through the eyes of the blogger, but to a new reader it unfolds backwards as one reads down the page....This is the way people live life. First in our hearts and minds is what is happening RIGHT NOW. Available in some detail are the happenings of the past few days, and they can be reviewed with little effort. The rest of our thoughts and memories are stored in the mental archives, where they can be retrieved with varying degrees of effort and accuracy depending on factors like their age, significance and how clearly we were thinking when the memories were laid down. Sort of like a blog. "

That makes sense, but for new readers it can be quite confusing. For example, my initial post lays out my concept for my blog and why I'm doing it. Reading my most recent post first won't necessarily provide the reader with that background information. Maybe I'm being overly-sensitive because I'm new to blogs and want readers, if there will ever be any, to understand why I'm doing this (why am I doing this, by the way?). But hey, maybe not knowing it all is the point. If a reader wants more information, he's got to dig. Just like meeting someone for the first time--if you're intrigued by what you first see, you delve further to get more. But I've disgressed from my primary point, which is couldn't blog sites make it easier for bloggers to format a blog in chronological order, if they so choose? Anyways, I googled this topic and found the following advice [I haven't tried it and am not sure I will, since maybe this reverse chronological thing ain't so bad afterall): http://support.journurl.com/users/admin/index.cfm?mode=article&entry=950

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Signs--The LA Story

Some observations I made after a trip to LA a few years ago.

To the Editor:

Since the car dominates your fair city, it's natural that one can learn much from reading the billboards and road signs around town.

I saw a ten story billboard dominating the side of a Wilshire Blvd. highrise in the Westwood section of Los Angeles emblazoned with the words "Liberty and Justice" under a WPA-like rendering of a female soldier in full combat fatigues (and full make-up, of course) . Thinking it was an outdoor advertisement for a new movie or mini-series on a cable network, a common advertising technique in this entertainment capital, I looked for the premiere information. The only other words were "9/11." I am sure it will be in development soon.

Even freeway signs get in the Patriotism act. The electronic sign on the San Diego Freeway (Interstate 5) advertising the San Joaquin Hills Tollroad in Orange County encourages drivers to avoid the congestion of the free interstate by using the pay highway. In doing so, it also flashes the following message:

THE TOLLROADS
HOME OF THE FREE

Finally, on the Santa Monica Freeway, the sign for the "Museum of Tolerance" is quickly followed by the sign for "Bundy Drive," made famous as the street where O. J. Simpson did not murder his ex-wife and her friend.

Only in LA.

[signed by me]

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Thank You, Thank You (But You're Not Welcome)

Note, I've just sent off this letter, not to the NYT Letters section but to William Safire, whose "On Language" column has been a fixture of the NYT Magazine for years.

Dear Mr. Safire:

I write to you with the hope that you can provide your linguistic insight into an issue that has been bugging me for years. Have you noticed that very few people ever say "you're welcome" anymore? Or maybe I should say that very few people on TV or radio ever say it. For example, tune into the "Today" show [or any other news show], and invariably when Katie or Matt says "thank you" to the guest [or worse yet, one of the show's own paid reporters] for providing his or her views, the guest responds not with a "you're welcome" but with the redundant "thank you" [usually with a slight emphasis on "you"]. I'm not sure why this change has occurred, but I fear that it's yet another indication of the quickening decline of society as we know it.

I venture to say that some would argue that the guest is just returning the thanks, as in "thank you for having me on your show," although I get the sense that these "you're welcome"-less folks feel they have been outmaneuvered by the appreciative host and need to get in their very own thank you quickly. Or, perhaps it's just another sign that people are more rude and less aware of etiquette. Whatever the case may be, I hope that this media phenomenon doesn't spread to every day situations in which a "thank you" is uttered because I'd hate, in response to a "thank you" from a store clerk for purchasing an item, to have to respond by reiterating "thank you" as in "thank you for allowing me to purchase this item!"

Thank you for your consideration of my question.

[signed by me]

Spinning Out of Control

To the Editor:

Perhaps Senator John Kerry's remark about Mary Cheney's sexual orientation was inappropriate in the context in which it was made. But for Matthew Dowd, a senior advisor to the Bush campaign, to state that "I just don't think you should bring up people's children in the course of a campaign" (news article, Oct 18) is ridiculous when the Bush twins have been highly visible and every debate ended with the candidates' families joining them on stage. What really rankles the American voter is the spin each campaign puts on the issues and, particularly, the others' gaffes. Perhaps this is the real reason why there are so many undecided voters--they don't want to vote for either one because. ultimately, it doesn't matter whether the candidate is Bush or Kerry, or a child is gay or straight. In the end, we end up with politics as usual.

Tarnished Gold?

To the Editor:

Re "Not as Good as Gold" (editorial, Aug. 24). You strongly suggest that Paul Hamm should give up his gold medal because "[h]ad the judges assigned the correct value, Yang Tae Young would have won the gold medal and Mr. Hamm the silver." Your conclusion, which has been echoed by others, is based on faulty logic. As everyone knows, sports which are determined by judges are inherently very subjective. Even under your revisionist scenario, there is no guarantee that the result would be any different. If the judges had assigned Yang Tae Young the correct start value of 10.0, rather than 9.9, perphaps he would have been awarded the same score he actually received. Conversely, even if the Korean had scored higher, perhaps Paul Hamm would also have scored higher since he was the last gymnast to compete in the all-around championship. Thus, the judges, well aware of what Hamm would need to win the gold medal, could have awarded him higher than the 9.837 he actually received, if they wanted him to win. No one really knows what would have happened had the error not been made. To jump to your objective conclusion in what is clearly a subjective situation does a disservice to Mr. Hamm and imposes on him an unfair standard for him to give up a gold medal based on something that only could have happened, but didn't.

Gay Athletes but not in Gay Olympics

To the Editor:
You note that San Francisco focused its losing Olympic bid as "the best one for the athletes." (news article, Nov. 3). Perhaps City officials could console themselves in their loss by remembering their past, rather factuous, relationship with the United States Olympic Committee.
In 1982, when athletes, including Dr. Tom Waddell, a 1968 Olympic decathlete, organized the first "Gay Olympic Games," the USOC promptly sued and eventually obtained a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court which ruled that Congress had given the USOC the exclusive trademark for the word "Olympic." Thus, the organizers of the Gay Games were prohibited from using that word, despite the fact the USOC never pursued litigation against events which also improperly using the word, such as the "Rat Olympics" or "Police Olympics." In addition, the USOC placed a lien on the property of Dr. Waddell in an attempt to collect its attorneys' fees--a lien which it did not remove until after he died of AIDS in 1987.
I am sure USOC officials are more enlightened these days, and I am aware that San Francisco's gay activists joined in support of the City's 2012 bid. But on the day that the USOC rejected San Francisco's bid, the 2002 Gay Games, and not the 2002 Gay Olympic Games, opened in Sydney, Australia, with over 11,500 athletes participating. They, despite the USOC's legal position, also deserve to be called "Olympians."

Cheaper by the Hour

To the Editor:

Bravo to Paul Mijksenaar and the major airports of the New York City area for designing better signs to assist weary air travelers (article, June 7). I look forward to following these signs upon my arrival at JFK in a week. But I think Mr. Mijksenaar's design approach rooted in common sense failed him a bit in his redesignation of the parking lot signs from the familiar "long term" and "short-term" to "daily" and "hourly." My suggestion would have been to use the even more accurate labels "Cheaper Parking" and "More Expensive Parking."

[signed by me]

That Frisky Twin

To the Editor:

The real issue in the story of Jenna Bush receiving an alcohol citation is not so much Ms. Bush's sneaking into a bar and having a drink but the apparent acquiescence of the Secret Service, United States law enforcement officials, in her illegal activity. Local Austin police told the press that the Secret Service's primary role is protection and not to enforce local law. Can this be true? So, if a protected individual informs an agent that he or she is going to smash a store window to steal a piece of jewelry, the agent would do nothing because the federal government doesn't have jurisdiction? What if Ms. Bush were to have left the bar and decided to drive back to campus? Would the Secret Service let her drive, knowing she may be drunk? If this is truly the case, perhaps it is time to rethink the Secret Service's role before some protected individual does something that has far graver consequences. Or maybe that's the issue. Maybe the Secret Service doesn't view underage drinking as a problem. Perhaps they should ask Jenna's father and their boss for his opinion.

[signed by me]

Standing In Front of Her Man

To the Editor:
Come on, Maureen! The reason Hillary has become our most recent icon isn't, as you theorize, because she has become Tammy Wynette and stood by her man ("Icon and I Will Survive," Op-Ed, December 9). We all know she has done that for years. It's because these same media and Hollywood types cannot publicly continue to lavish their praise on Bill Clinton because of you know what. So, they now devote all of their attention to the next best thing--Hillary. In the end, they continue to get what they really want--publicity from a White House occupant for their own financial endeavors.

[signed by me]

My Fourth Letter Published in the NYT--September 2005

'BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN' Laughing It Off

To the Editor: Re "Cowboys in Love ... With Each Other" by Karen Durbin [last Sunday]:
Last night we attended a screening of "The Constant Gardener" that included a preview of "Brokeback Mountain." At the end of the preview, most of the audience laughed. Then in "The Constant Gardener," Fernando Meirelles's very serious film of John le Carré's novel, only one line of dialogue generated any real laughter: a British spy, in trying to explain to Ralph Fiennes's character how his wife's colleague, a gay doctor, could have murdered her in a crime of passion, quips that he's known some "savage queens" in his day. The audience guffawed.

Ms. Durbin writes that while some straight people will stay away from Mr. Lee's movie because of its subject matter, anticipation for the movie is high based on Internet chatter. Judging by the reaction of an audience in Washington, one of the most educated metropolitan areas in the nation, we venture to say that even in 2005, most of the moviegoing public will stay away, no matter how elemental or truthful Mr. Lee's film is about the experience of two cowboys in love.

[Signed by me and my partner]

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

The Third Published Letter in the NYT January 2000

An Encore in Reno

To the Editor:

Re ''In a Booming Reno, No Room for the Old Inn'' (news article, Jan. 25): Here's a possible solution for the inevitable loss of the historic Mapes Hotel. Reno could take a cue from Las Vegas and build a replica of the Mapes, bigger and more extravagant than the original, of course. The replica hotel could serve what the city hopes will be a booming new Reno and, at the same time, pay respect to its historic ancestor.

This way, Reno could do one better than its southern rival. Instead of recreating environs from other locales (New York and Paris, for example), Reno could just replicate itself.

[signed by me]

Copyright 2000 The New York Times Company

My Second Letter Published in the NYT in September 1999

Candidates Clinton?

To the Editor:

Re ''Now It's the President's Turn to Gaze Adoringly'' (Editorial Observer, Sept. 1), by Eleanor Randolph:
Maybe now it's Hillary Rodham Clinton's turn to offer herself and her husband as a two-for-one deal to the voters of New York, echoing her husband's offer when he ran for President seven years ago. This would perhaps deal with the potential problem Ms. Randolph identifies, of Mr. Clinton's political expertise overshadowing that of the new candidate Clinton. We certainly don't expect Bill Clinton to be sitting around baking cookies, do we?

[my name withheld]

Copyright 1999 The New York Times Company

The Letter that Got It All Started Published in the NYT May 1997

Reinventing Blather

To the Editor: In addition to ''icon,'' ''diversity'' and ''closure,'' which Russell Baker cites (column, April 29), another word that seems to be on everybody's lips these days, particularly those in the Clinton Administration, is ''reinvention.'' Not an hour goes by in my day at a certain Federal agency that the word is not uttered in E-mail, voice mail or team discussions. Reinvention, in all of its diversity, is the icon we have come to worship, and there are no signs that closure will be reached any time soon.

[signed by me]

Copyright 1997 The New York Times Company

A Letter from the NYT Editor of Letters to the Editor

Since my letters to the NYT are the inspiration for this blog, I thought I would republish a letter from the NYT "Letters to the Editor" editor (ha!) on how he does his job. I've been fortunate to have some of my letters published, but they can't all be published (another purpose of this blog)since, as the editor says, he wants to give lots of readers their turn. Perhaps you'll be inspired by this blog and the advice below to write your own letter and get it published. Good luck.

May 23, 2004
FROM THE LETTERS EDITOR
The Letters Editor and the Reader: Our Compact, UpdatedBy THOMAS FEYER

Last September, as letters editor of The Times, I used some of this space for an essay called "To the Reader," introducing myself and outlining the mission and the mechanics of the letters page.
It seemed to strike a chord, and scores of readers wrote back. Many were pleased to learn that the anonymous editor had a name. Some were grateful for the advice; others were amused, acerbic, occasionally even dyspeptic. I had my 15 minutes of fame: a flurry of dissection on the Internet; an interview on TV that lasted, well, about 15 minutes. We printed two letters in response — pro and con, naturally.
But readers, new and old, send in questions (and even complaints!) about the letters page almost every day, and so a refresher course may help. This is an attempt to answer some frequently asked questions.
I've submitted many letters, but none have been published. How can I improve my chances?
Thanks largely to the ease and ubiquity of e-mail, letters submissions (and a lot besides) come in relentlessly, round the clock, from around the country and around the world, at a rate of roughly a thousand a day. My small staff and I try to read them all, but we can publish only about 15 letters a day.
While the odds are long, some letter writers seem to know how to shorten them. Here are some tips: Write quickly, concisely and engagingly. We're in an age of fast-moving news and virtually instant reaction; letters about an especially timely topic often appear within a day or two (and almost always within a week).
At times, some big stories generate hundreds of letters a day — Sept. 11 (at one point we were getting hundreds an hour), the war in Iraq, politics, to name a few. When you write about a particularly contentious issue, bear in mind that many others do so as well. We can try to capture a sense of what's on readers' minds, but we can't be comprehensive.
Your suggested length for letters is about 150 words. Why so short? (Or, as one writer put it after I cited the brevity of the Gettysburg Address, "Why does Lincoln get 250 and the rest of us a measly 150?")
Ideally, the letters page should be a forum for a variety of voices, and that means letting a lot of readers have a turn. With our limited space, we have room for letters that make their case with a point or two, but not for full-length articles. (For those, try our neighbors at the Op-Ed page.)
Once in a while, a particularly eloquent, newsworthy or pointed letter is allotted Lincolnesque space in print, but that is the exception.
You've said that the letters page "does not have a political coloration of its own." Yet liberal opinion seems to dominate, and conservatives seem to have a lesser voice. Why?
In selecting letters, I try to present a fair sampling of reader opinion, as well as a balance of views, pro and con. Writers to The Times — by no means all, certainly, but a clear majority — tend to be liberal, often vociferously so. Among our letter writers, critics of the Bush administration, especially over the war in Iraq, outnumber its defenders by a substantial margin.
On same-sex marriage, to cite another example, proponents far outnumber opponents among our letter writers. But there is more of a divide on other national issues, like abortion, affirmative action and immigration.
We welcome opinions from all sides: the majority, the dissenters, the contrarians. While I naturally have to use my judgment, it's not my opinion that determines the complexion of the page, it's yours.
Do you edit letters?
We reserve the right to edit for space, clarity, civility and accuracy, and we send you the edited version before publication. If your letter is selected, we will try to reach you and ask a few questions: Did you write the letter? (We're not amused by impostors.) Is it exclusive to The Times? (It should be.) Do you have a connection to the subject you're writing about? (Readers should be able to judge your credibility and motivation.)
What is your responsibility for ensuring that facts cited in letters are accurate?
Letter writers, to use a well-worn phrase, are entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts. There is, of course, a broad gray area in which hard fact and heartfelt opinion commingle. But we do try to verify the facts, either checking them ourselves or asking writers for sources of information. Sometimes we goof, and then we publish corrections.
Why are there so many letters from people with credentials or titles after their names?
These come in many flavors: an official's response to criticism; a statement of policy, printed for the record or for its news value; a view that we feel adds an interesting perspective or expertise to the debate.
As with any letter, writers speak only for themselves or their organizations; publication should not be taken as an endorsement of that view by The Times. The aim is to stimulate discussion, not end it.
A personal note, for those who've asked: I've been an editor at The Times for 23 years and counting, nearly 5 as letters editor, and a New Yorker since early childhood. I was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1953 and came to America with my parents — survivors of Nazism and refugees from Communism — in 1957. Five years later, we swore an oath as naturalized American citizens.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, my core belief as letters editor is that healthy, informed debate is the lifeblood of a strong democracy. Other than that, I'm an avid Times reader, just like you. If what's in this newspaper interests you, it interests me.
Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Initial Post

I'm a "Letters to the Editor" type, although it's probably more accurate to describe myself as a frequent writer of letters to The New York Times, since I don't send my letters to any other publication (perhaps now that I live in DC, I need to send some to The Washington Post). And the NYT has actually published four of my letters over the years (don't ask how many I've sent, since I don't really keep track). I enjoy writing these letters, and I believe that this format best suites my talent, if I have any as a writer. When I attempt longer pieces, I think I am less successful. In any event, I've decided to create this blog to showcase these letters, whether published (clearly indicated), sent but unpublished, or created just for this blog, all of which relate my thoughts and perceptions on events and ideas which interest me. The other purpose of this blog is to highlight what my friend Jan and I see as examples of "Life is a Farce" tidbits. You know, like the woman from Atlanta who convinced the fugitive who held her hostage for eight hours to let her go because she told him about that book "The Purpose Driven Life" and whom the religious right cannonized. But the one little problem was that in her own book about the situation (so perfect) she disclosed that before she read the guy passages from that book she had given him crystal meth. That's one of my favorite stories of this year. I also may post pieces I've written (or will write) in a format longer than a "letter to the editor" style, if I feel comfortable enough.

I realize I am late to the game, in terms of blogging, and that the last thing the internet needs is another blogger who thinks he can write. I'm also not ready to tell anyone I know that I've created this blog (except for two dear friends who have been there since my first letter was published), particularly my boyfriend who is a great writer and intellect who maintains his own blog (although he has basically abandoned it at this point because of graduate school). For the time being, this is an experiment. And we all know that experiments can often fail, although I am not quite sure how one measures an unsuccessful blog.

I've named this blog "The Editor's Letters" since there's no better way to guarantee the publication of a "Letter to the Editor" than to be both the writer of the letter and the editor. I don't see any conflict of interest, do you?