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Going Postal

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Richard Shumate's comments stereotyping Europeans (Flip Side, "Should We Care What Europe Thinks of George Bush and His Policies?"June 27) are as ignorant and abhorrent as those of any Southern racists claiming all blacks eat fried chicken and are lazy.

For your information, Richard, people in this country, yes, your USA, also eat snails, aka escargot, and there are American women who do not shave their armpits, possibly even some you know. The views and opinions of men who eat snails are equally as valid as those of men who scarf down sides of cows. And we should care about the opinions of women who don't shave their armpits just as much as the opinions of those who have chosen to sear their bodies bald.

We must give credence to the opinions of others, even in foreign countries, since we are not on this planet alone, and our actions and choices affect everyone, even the Swedish, whom you think are only good for meatballs. Everyone has the right to his or her opinion. It is disappointing that a highly evolved protector of the planet such as yourself should have no intellectual basis to substantiate his views, only empty-minded ignorant stereotypes instead.

Not to be reduced to name calling, but Richard Shumate, you are so provincial and small-minded, you were the perfect Yin to Tom Houck's Yang. Your condescending and stereotype-filled article reminded us of how a person like Bush came to be in the highest position of authority in this country. He was elected by the misguided and ignorant such as yourself.

-- Lisa Jacobs and Gabrielle Smith, Marietta

For the virgins
The members of "Lips Down on Dixie," the Rocky Horror Picture Show cast at the Lefont Plaza Theatre, want to express our sincere appreciation for Scott Henry's cover article "Rocky Horrid Rivalry" (June 20). Good job!

Although we did not expect the article to dwell on our cast members' past relationships with other casts, those conflicts unfortunately do exist. The only part of Mr. Henry's article with which we take issue is the sentence: "To a Rocky Horror virgin, one group's performance might seem indistinguishable from another's." Those words strike at our collective hearts like a knife because we at "Lips Down on Dixie" have worked strenuously for the last six months to prove just the opposite. We want all our audience members, especially the "virgins," to recognize immediately and throughout the evening that our performance is distinguishable. We are about our audience -- we want them to enjoy their time spent at the Lefont Plaza Theatre watching our show and we want them to come back again and again.

-- John A. Leopard, Atlanta

Casts are Rocky nationwide
Your article about the Rocky Horror casts in Georgia ("Rocky Horrid Rivalry," June 20) was forwarded to me by a friend. I am a longtime RHPS aficionado in New Jersey. I'm also involved actively in Rocky Horror conventions nationally.

You have touched upon just one of the many interesting sociological aspects of being involved with Rocky Horror. It's actually a lot more like a religion than it is a hobby I suppose. While Baptists, Episcopalians, Catholics and Protestants all believe in the same God they each have their own method of worship and will vehemently disagree as to what is "the proper way."

There is an interesting twist of the same sort of theme going on in my cast in New Jersey. Some of the group wants to put on a more professional show; some of them want more chaotic creative freedom. Both claim that the audience would prefer their way. The trick is to get both out there and to have both sides recognize the importance of putting on a show that is both fun and entertaining to people who have never been to Rocky Horror and to the regulars at the theater.

The phenomenon of Rocky Horror has been around for 25 years and it has developed quite an interesting subculture. Not every part of it is for every member of its society. This is especially true with "the proper way" we do our worship. It's not easy to do this week after week, but there is an army of us around the world dedicating ourselves to do just that. It's just important to remember that without order, nothing can exist and that without chaos, nothing can evolve. Striking a harmonious balance between the two and getting them to work together will result in a phenomenal show.

-- Larry Viezel, Montclair, N.J.

Fly without fear
Hollis, I come from a family of pilots. We spend a lot of time discussing crashes and what could have been done to prevent them or make them more survivable (Mood Swing, "It's All About Safety," June 13). There are some things you can do to make yourself more likely to survive, although perhaps the most rational thing to do is nothing. Just show up, sit down, be quiet, and let the engineers, corporate decision-makers, pilots and government regulators roll the dice with your life on the line. Odds are real good that the numbers will come up in your favor.

But if your fear of flying is stronger than average, I don't see why you wouldn't consider safety measures that "average passengers" would dismiss as excessive. Here are some suggestions: Fly only in good weather. Not necessarily perfect weather, but avoid thunderstorms. Buy travel insurance and cancel your flight, if you have to. In the winter, when ice is a concern, tolerate much less bad weather. Make direct flights. Don't do any more take-offs and landings than you have to, since those are the most risky times of any flight.

Wear comfortable clothing. Prefer natural materials like cotton or wool rather than synthetics, which tend to melt and stick to your skin in case of fire. It might not be a bad idea to wear bright clothing (facilitates rescuers looking for you in the woods or fields), and to dress warmly. To guard against smoke inhalation, consider a disposable fire hood. These are made of clear plastic, but very strong and heat-resistant plastic. They are soft and can be folded and carried in your purse, and they have a built-in filter for the air you will breathe. They cost maybe $50. Remember, aircraft are made with a lot of foam and plastic, which is very toxic when it burns, and produces a thick, blinding black smoke.

Sit near the rear of any aircraft (the last part to hit the ground, and therefore the slowest at impact) but for aircraft such as the 727, DC-9 and MD-80, which all have engines on the right and left sides of the fuselage near the back, avoid sitting directly alongside an engine. Engines are likely sources of a fire, and they have been known to throw hot, sharp fragments into nearby seats if they break at high RPMs.

Finally, if you want to be really picky and are willing to bear the cost and trouble, make it your policy to fly only relatively new aircraft. The newer the better, although 10 years is still pretty "new" by aircraft standards. I hope the above info is helpful. But, please don't ever let your worries keep you from selecting the fastest, safest and most efficient method of transportation available, whatever it happens to be.

-- Kurt Martin, Marietta

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