The husband/co-lyricist chimes in: I was a critic for 20 years before I left the Arizona Republic, and I have never read as incompetent a review as the one by Robrt Pela of my show, Diet! The Musical.

To begin with, in the most obvious lie (not distortion, lie), Pela writes: "In between, there are unfunny scenes in which we're told that fat women are beautiful inside but don't stand a chance of anyone discovering that inner beauty because no one can get past their piggishness to see what's inside."

Pela sets this up as if it is a message of the script, but, in fact, it is a sentiment delivered by a character who later is clearly proven wrong. It is as if he had gleaned the message of West Side Story as hate! Hate! Hate! Consider how incompetent this makes him as a critic.

Pela says the show is not entertaining but fails to report that the audience in attendance when he saw the show laughed so hard that some lines got buried, and that it gave our show a standing ovation. When I was a critic, I always made sure that if I disagreed with the response of the audience, I, at least, noted the audience's opinion. Pela fails to mention any facts that call his viewpoint into question.

Pela also makes the focus of his review a single character in the second act! This is so stupid it doesn't require further comment.

Finally, as evidence of his severe inability to write reviews, he fails to mention who directed the show, and who the actors were other than the one he found offensive.

I have heard from others in the theater community that Pela is woefully unlettered and unskilled, and that he lets his private life drive what he writes — the most vulgar M.O. for a critic. Now I believe it.
Kenneth LaFave, Phoenix

Sick of the stereotypes: While I found Diet! The Musical funny in places, and so did much of the audience when I attended, I agree with Robrt L. Pela that the gay character was offensively over the top.

Why is it that whenever current playwrights need a homosexual character, they feel they have to conjure up a silly queen that would make the lead in La Cage Aux Folles seem like Chuck Norris?

As a gay man, I've long been sick of such offensive stereotypes. Beyond that, they are boring and predictable — even to gay bashers in the straight world.
Richard Y. Jones, Phoenix


Singling out a saint: This was a very good article, shedding light into what for most of us is a dim and murky aspect of contemporary society, and the author is to be congratulated for the thorough examination and presentation of this issue. Yet I would add a comment about the portrayal of contract attorneys as money-grubbers who take little interest in the process beyond the pay they receive ("Outrageous Fortune," Paul Rubin, April 19).

I knew Patricia O'Connor years ago, and we have drifted apart, but the Patricia O'Connor I knew was one of the most dedicated and caring attorneys I have ever met. The woman lives and breathes her work, caring deeply about the situations of these neglected children, and I have known her to wipe a quiet tear from her eyes in an unguarded moment as she reflects upon what she was able to do for these kids, and what she was not able to do.

In my opinion, the woman is a saint, the Mother Teresa of guardianship proceedings in the Valley. And though the countless children she has saved through her work will not be remembered, the work she has done for all of us as a society certainly should be.

O'Connor deserves every dime of the pay she receives for her representation. She is there for those kids when nobody else will stand up.
John Timothy Miller, via the Internet

CPS always wins: As for your story on "private lawyers in Maricopa County child-dependency cases soaking us for big bucks," I have a great way to save money here — simply do away with dependency hearings, as CPS always wins.

Okay, okay, I will admit my first comment is on the "flip" side, but it is true: Child Protective Services always wins initial dependency hearings. The author should have included this in his facts . . . But in truth, the ballooning of money collected by people who do CPS stuff is only the result of the governor's take-the-child-and-run edict given to CPS. This has resulted in a near 40 percent increase in dependency cases since Janet Napolitano took office.

Kudos to the author for disclosing that all this is kept secret, as no one connected with the CPS foster-care panic wants light shed on their incompetence, an incompetence that even CPS admits in its latest reports.

I say: More articles like this one and let the light shine in!
Walt Plunkett, via the Internet

Indeed, outrageous fortune: It is about time somebody wrote on this topic. The whole contract-award system in Maricopa County is outrageous!
Name withheld by request

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Dan Luker
Dan Luker

I bought a bird feeder. I hung it on my back porch and filled it with seed. Within a week we had hundreds of birds taking advantage of the continuous flow of free and easily accessible food. But then the birds started building nests in the boards of the patio, above the table, and next to the barbecue. Then came the poop. It was everywhere: on the patio tile, the chairs, the table...everywhere. Then some of the birds turned mean: They would dive bomb me and try to peck me even though I had fed them out of my own pocket. And others birds were boisterous and loud: They sat on the feeder and squawked and screamed at all hours of the day and night and demanded that I fill it when it got low on food. After a while, I couldn\'t even sit on my own back porch anymore. I took down the bird feeder and in three days the birds were gone. I cleaned up their mess and took down the many nests they had built all over the patio. Soon, the back yard was like it used to be...quiet, serene and no one demanding their rights to a free meal. Now lets see...our government gives out free food, subsidized housing, free medical care, free education and allows anyone born here to be a automatic citizen. Then the illegals came by the tens of thousands. Suddenly our taxes went up to pay for free services; small apartments are housing 5 families: you have to wait 6 hours to be seen by an emergency room doctor: your child\'s 2nd grade class is behind other schools because over half the class doesn\'t speak English: Corn Flakes now come in a bilingual box; I have to press \"one\" to hear my bank talk to me in English, and people waving flags other than \"Old Glory\" are squawking and screaming in the streets, demanding more rights and free liberties. Maybe it\'s time for the government to take down the bird feeder.

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