The last wave: I can't even tell you how much I loved the article on surfing Padre Island during heavy weather ("Ride 'em, Surferboy," August 24). It made me feel young again. I met lots of Texas surfers when I lived on the Texas coast in 1962-'63 and began my personal odyssey to learn to surf. I was there because my stepfather was working on a pipeline (he was a welder) that started in Kingsville.

I was hooked on the Beach Boys and the whole California scene, and like today's Texas surfers, I tried to imitate the Californians every way I could.

One of my biggest disappointments was that we had to move on to Illinois for another job in the fall of 1963. I probably wouldn't have gone out myself anyway, but I received from several of my friends pictures of them surfing the huge pre-storm waves of Hurricane Carla. That hurricane brought much sadness and destruction, but it made life sweet for a few days for a few of my friends.

Randy Johnston
Via e-mail

No remorse, no shame: My question is how is it perceived that this program takes a "byte" out of crime ("Software and Hard Time," July 6)? Inmates should have to do services to repay what they have taken away from the families of the people they hurt. Teaching them a trade is good. It helps them pass the time they have to spend.

But this article was sent to me by the daughter of this man. He murdered my sister, their mother. He will probably be released before his time is up. Sherrie is dead forever. Let's stop telling what a good job the prisons are doing with murderers, and let's tell the truth about how they got there and how we are going to keep them there the full length of their sentence. Prison was never meant to be a cakewalk. It is supposed to make them suffer some of what they made us feel. It is supposed to make them see the wrong they did, and hopefully cause them to show some remorse. Alan [Paden] has never even apologized to any of us. No remorse, no shame. So stop glorifying this murderer. He does not deserve it.

Benton, Arkansas

Nuke 'em: Well, as far as the Gray family in Trinidad and the Texas state authorities go ("Bunker Mentality," August 24), everyone trying to avoid "a nightmarish reminder of the Branch Davidian disaster" and all--I'd hate to see the children injured, but in general, I say bring on the nightmare. Show the preachy hillbillies what reality is. About 15-20 people in the middle of nowhere know exactly how God wants things to be, versus, oh, the entire planet? Nuke 'em.

Mike McGee

Just plain wrong: Hey, I'm as big a Vincent D'Onofrio ("The Bit Player," August 24) fan as anyone, but describing Bruce Willis as "complacent, smug, lazy" seems, well, just plain wrong. The guy is a hard-working actor who makes consistently interesting choices. From the start, he has alternated great character parts (In Country, Mortal Thoughts, Nobody's Fool, Pulp Fiction) with more traditional action/adventure fare.

In the latter, his track record has not always been perfect, but I'd certainly take a few Die Hards over anything produced by Stallone, Arnie, or the other macho '80s superstars.

After his work in The Sixth Sense, I thought maybe old Bruce would finally get some respect, but no luck. Most reviewers seemed to miss the fact that without a good performance from Willis, the entire movie doesn't work. Haley Joel Osment was great, but I think Willis deserves plenty of credit too. Offscreen may be a different story, but onscreen, the guy doesn't mind letting other performers shine (unlike many of the '80s action heroes previously mentioned).

"Complacent, smug, lazy"--three words that don't describe a guy who reworked his image with a successful Disney kid's movie and continues working with the best and the brightest Hollywood has to offer (see the upcoming Unbreakable from M. Night Shyamalan). Sorry that Willis hasn't continued cranking out Die Hard-style stuff for you critics, but maybe that's why he's still a superstar as Arnie, Sly, and the others fade away.

John Plunkett
Los Angeles

Their minds are so corrupt: This is in response to Joe Pappalardo's article about Arrow Plastics' CEO being a tax protester ("Taxing Situation," August 10). First of all, Joe is the perfect example of a reporter writing that he does not have the complete knowledge even to write about income taxes. The IRS can't even define income. What income-producing activity is the person working trying to make a decent living involved in? The income tax that the United States code is set up for is alcohol and tobacco products.

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