Snob Sister
On a rampage: Christine Biederman, in the December 14 Dallas Observer ("How the Grinch Stole Feminism"), you described going into various galleries and imagining objects and images you found there to be words and concepts--forms of expression in which you are, evidently, more fluent. Then you announced your disdain for the ideas your efforts produced, forgetting, perhaps, their obvious origin.

I get the impression you may assume that the greatest fate to which a piece of visual art can aspire is to become, miraculously, 500 snappy words in some periodical--that, if the artists weren't so limited, they would have written those 500 words themselves and saved all the intermediate folderol.

It's a little like declaring a cow to be a ridiculous duck, and then throwing a fit because you have learned to make proper ducks do cute tricks.

What is it about the visual arts that invites such condescension? I wasn't tempted to examine your printed words for pictures that might have been found in the shapes and textures of the letters on the page. And had I conjured some up, I would have been a fool to have proclaimed their inadequacy as drawing--or political commentary.

And I can't believe you would approach a tree or a rock and try to do your little trick ("Tree. Earth. Earth nursing life. Bosom of the earth. Women's work. Emotional baggage. Grandma. Family. Nothing new here. Oh God. I'm so bored."). I don't know. Maybe you would. I suspect, though, that you only do this number with art.

Christine, thanks for your efforts, but your responses to the subtleties of the unconscious and the visual life are tired. It's not just you, of course, but I say the whole mode of looking in which you participate, and of talking about that looking, is lame, and I say it's bullshit. Give it a rest.

Jim Jacobs

Monster on the Loose
Still Amazed: This was a very well-written, thought-provoking article ("A Killer Abroad," December 14). I have followed this story for years and am still amazed that this monster remains free. One more thing: Do you realize that on the title page it starts, "In 1997, two decades ago, Holly Maddux was murdered..." If you ever need a proofreader, look me up.

Melanie GeBron

Editor's note: This error showed up only on the Dallas Observer Web site and has been corrected. We apologize for the mistake.

A Sow's Ear

Four-star review: The movie Proof of Life may have been a dud, but Robert Wilonsky's review ("Held Hostage," December 7) was four stars! I laughed right out loud. I never miss his reviews. Thanks!

Jane Finley

Hundred-million-dollar hubris: Nice article on M. Night Shyamalan ("Broken and Battered," December 14). I am a produced screenwriter, and I will briefly share my thoughts on where this movie is flawed. First, I had a hard time believing that a 40-ish man could get to that age without having the realization that he had never been sick or injured. Especially a guy who plays high school football and was thrown from a car 20 years earlier in a bad accident. Second, just because someone has a "glass cane, bad-ass car, cockeyed hair, and outlandish wardrobe" doesn't make them a serial killer. From the description, I would guess either professional wrestler or Dennis Rodman. Third, when the hero finds out who the villain is in popular culture, he doesn't call the police and have him arrested. He goes and kicks his ass! There is no twist in this movie. There's a major stretch, which I and most viewers can't make, but certainly no twist.

I like M. Night, but this movie is an example of what happens when your second movie grosses $600 million. Suddenly, you know everything and nobody else knows anything. Somewhere in between is the truth.

Doug Hall
Culver City, California

Lotsa Love
And lotsa noise: Jim Schutze! Your prose reads like a mystery story, and a mystery it is ("Love's Labor Lost," December 7). You met with the barbarians on a trip to Hades and back. You have alerted the taxpayers of Dallas to the wheeling and dealing at City Hall. Councilwoman Donna Blumer is the fiscally responsible angel in the wings. We need more to join Donna with additional probing questions.

Laird Scotus