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Going Postal

I'm the hero
Some reflections from my Catholic school-boy days, after reading Cliff Bostock's column on the Pledge of Allegiance (Talk of the Town, "Not so indivisible," July 3):

While attending parochial schools during the '60s, I dutifully recited the Pledge every day, because someone told me to, until I learned, in seventh or eighth grade (1968 or '69), that "under God" had been added in the '50s to help defeat "godless Communism."

From that day on, I have never recited the Pledge without omitting "under God." (I either pause while others say it, or I create this deliciously weird canon and finish ahead of everyone else.) Of course, I've rarely, if ever, had the opportunity to practice that little bit of civil disobedience since I finished eighth grade because the Pledge is rarely said outside of our elementary indoctrination cent ... oops, I mean, schools.

My friend Tony and I, in high school (1969-1973), never stood for the national anthem at sporting events. For Tony, it was strictly an anti-war protest. For me, it was partly that and partly a disdain for any rote, sheep-like, and thus meaningless habits of large crowds of people who would rather go along than think about their actions for themselves.

Am I a traitor? Is "one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all" meaningless without "under God"? Did this reference to a deity make us victors over communism? Beetle-browed party hacks like Bill O'Reilly and George Will apparently think so, but I know that it was not the addition of "under God" that caused the downfall of the Soviet Union. In fact, I am the true hero of the American people. Sometime during my sixth-grade year, the school conducted an air-raid drill in which all us left the building and walked straight home in street/block groups, led by eighth-graders.

After that, I decided I would walk different routes to school every day so that the commie spies, traitors and fifth columnists, who were everywhere back then, wouldn't be able to pin down my routine and thus find the edge they needed to control my mind. That one little bit of vigilance is what really brought down the Iron Curtain. Prove otherwise. I dare you.

"One nation, divisible over 'god,' with some liberty and justice for a few."

-- Michael Coogan, Dayton, Ohio

Stand up for your rights
Cliff Bostock: Good for you -- standing up to your teacher on the issue of classroom prayer (Talk of the Town, "Not so indivisible," July 3)!

Thanks for not adding your voice to the hysteria surrounding the recent Pledge decision. Just because we're in a "war on terrorism" doesn't mean we have to trash the First Amendment.

-- Julia Rachel, Atlanta

Re-release, not remix
Felicia Feaster: I'm sorry that you had such a negative impression of what you call Giuseppe Tornatore's "remix" of Cinema Paradiso (Flicks, "Overkill," July 3). I agree with some of your comments, in that it is entirely too long. I also agree that changing the scope from one of a relationship with Toto and Alfredo or Toto and the cinema to one based on the relationship of Toto and Elena is too much of a stretch of reality -- I mean, who goes back to their hometown after 30 years and actually finds a lost love there, much less the note she left in the projection booth?

But I must point out that your understanding of the film is not entirely correct. This "remix" is not actually a "remix" at all -- it is the original version of the film Nuovo Cinema Paradiso that was released in Italy about 14 years ago. Italian movie-goers had the same major problem that you addressed -- the length of the film was just too much to bear. To make the film more appealing to the general public, Tornatore made cuts to the film, making it around two hours and 15 minutes in length. Afraid he would never be able to pay off the debt to his producer, Tornatore sold the film to Miramax to distribute internationally. The film was cut to two hours and five minutes or so, and renamed Cinema Paradiso. It became an international success, and eventually won the Academy Award.

So, there's the condensed history of the film. There is no "remix." And, as a student of Italian language, culture and film, I am offended by your statement that this film can't be compared to the "lost footage" of Apocalypse Now and other films. Many of us in the Italian community have often debated the fate of Elena, and why Tornatore chose to exclude that from his film. Now we know that this wasn't the case.

I suggest that instead of comparing the "remix"/original version of the film to the Academy Award-winning version, viewers see them as two separate and distinct films, each telling a different story.

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