Letters from the weekof September 24

Letters: “Smooth Operator,” September 17

Grown-up Talk

This isn’t a letter as much as a request. After reading, then rereading Paul Jones’ letter to the editor last week, I wasn’t able to find anything specific in the gentleman’s comments. He referred to a “dictator” who is “transforming” our “once-great nation” but provided no specifics. Paul, Walter Mondale put it best when he asked, “Where’s the Beef?” Do you want to keep Guantánamo Bay open? Do you want to remain in Iraq? Do you want to end Medicare? Are you OK with our “once-great nation” torturing people? Do you want to lower taxes again for the billionaires? Perhaps make credit default swaps legal again? Where’s the beef, Paul? You can probably tell that I had a lot of issues with our previous president. That would be the one who was in office when 9/11 happened, when the recession started and when unemployment began to plummet. And it was “W” who bailed out Wall Street and the auto guys and let the real-estate bubble explode. These are issues, Paul, not name-calling and baseless rants. Show us what you got. Like I said, this isn’t a letter as much as a request. A request for specifics. Put it out there, Paul, so KC can see exactly what you’re concerned about, and we can discuss your issues like adults. You can still be “cool” and “rebellious” like you were in high school, but we’re adults now and we should all act like it.

Mike Sheperis
Lee’s Summit

Feature: “Average Joes,” September 3

A Geek’s Lament

As an adult toy/comic collector, I have grown tired of the media’s stereotypical portrayal of us as geeks. For as long as I can remember, those interested in comics, toys and science fiction have been portrayed as pathetic, overweight virgins with little to no social skills.

Now, having been to a number of conventions over the years, I will confess that (for many) there is a fair amount of truth in that stereotype. However, what bothers me about Peter Rugg’s story is the amount of attention paid to the weight of the convention-goers (for example, “The average G.I. Joe fan here is not in any shape to climb a tree”). I feel reasonably certain that, had the article been about another event (trade show, car show, etc.), there would have been little to no mention of fans’ weights, and I am incredibly disheartened by the apparent need to draw attention to it.

In the future, please refrain from reinforcing the negative stereotypes that we geeks are forced to live with, if only for those of us for whom they do not apply.

J. Robert Sweany
Kansas City, Missouri

Stage, September 10

Comedy Is Hard

I wish to commend Alan Scherstuhl for his recent remarks regarding improv “comedy” shows. It’s about time somebody called bullshit on this boondoggle that has been passed off as entertainment. Scherstuhl was dead-on. Most improv is small-minded, stale and lame. It’s bad enough to pay to watch what is really more like an acting-workshop exercise than real humor. Adding insult to injury are those cheap, lazy jokes about gays (and others) that aim for the low laughs. The same can be said about most stand-up comedy today, too. Once in a while, there’s a good one-liner at an improv show. But that tends to occur at the same rate as among my own friends when we’re out at a bar.

I’m sure that the greats, such as Richard Pryor and George Carlin, who turned the world of comedy upside-down in the past, improvised and brainstormed to come up with their material, including their controversial stuff. But they also revised and honed it, night after night of performing, until it was razor-sharp and, well, goddamned funny. There aren’t many professions where most folks can just shoot from the hip and achieve greatness, and comedy is one of them. It’s about more than just knowing what you’re going to say next. As Scherstuhl put it, it’s that increasingly rare combination of force, wit and timing that makes it all but impossible not to laugh. Why has that become so hard to find nowadays on the comedy circuit?

Chris Benedict
Blue Springs, Missouri

Correction: Last week’s Café photo was taken by Jaimie Warren.

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