Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Books · A Lady of Letters
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A Lady of Letters

Nancy Sundstrom - February 19th, 2004
The engaging first novel by independent film producer and screenwriter Elisabeth Robinson is full of surprises and contrasts, acquitting “The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters“ as the work of a much more accomplished author.
Robinson, whose numerous credits include “Braveheart“ and “Last Orders,“ employs the tricky device of writing her tome as a one-sided set of letters written by Olivia Hunt, a film producer, over the course of a year when her sister Maddie battles leukemia. As she flies back and forth between the small town in Ohio where Maddie still lives and Los Angeles, where she‘s working on a new cinematic treatment of “Don Quixote,“ she writes prolifically to her best friend Tina, ex-boyfriend Michael, her parents, Maddie, and even (real-life) industry players.
Good letters are a thing of wonder and can make for good books, especially if there is a variety of subjects to whom the letters are being written, which helps keep tone and topics lively. The same technique was used with less success in Spring 2003 in Lionel Shriver‘s “We Need to Talk About Kevin,“ a book of letters written exclusively by a woman to her ex-husband regarding their son, Kevin, who committed a horrific Columbine-styled crime. In that instance, the focus of the letters was much more specific to the point of view and voice seeming claustrophobic. What Robinson offers up is not always the most sophisticated prose, but her conversational tone and eye for detail gives it credibility and makes it highly readable.
For example, consider this excerpt from the opening of the book where Olivia sends a missive to friend Tina:

“35,000 feet over Nevada
Tina Burns
188 Westborne Park Road
Portland, Oregon 97211

Dear Tina,
I was sitting at home yesterday (where else?) working on the fourth draft of my suicide note when I got the call. I resented the interruption and nearly didn‘t answer the phone. I was having a hard time getting the tone right and, as we‘ve discussed, tone is everything in correspondence. This seems especially true when it comes to your very, very, very last words. (But I now wonder: is a suicide note correspondence?) The first draft was too angry, especially toward Michael, whom in fact I do not resent for dumping me. Why would I? He was doing me a favor, putting me out of my misery, which is what living with him was like. No, the raging anger and hate hate hate were misdirected in this draft; they were really meant for my former boss, the president of Universal Pictures, Mr. Josh Miller.
As you may recall from our previous discussions, this guy is a real (expletive). You remember -- the one whose lip curls up to the right when he speaks in his irregular British accent, which he can‘t seem to shake since his junior year abroad twenty years ago. Whose pride and joy is not his five-year-old son but his custom-made butter yellow Rolls-Royce. Josh, whose fleshy face resembles a rhino‘s -- beady wide-set eyes blinking between a mother of a snout, or maybe it‘s the personality that makes one think of a dangerous, stupid beast -- and whose tongue I found down my throat at the company Christmas party? (I know, I should have sued him as you advised, but I was afraid of being blacklisted.) It was Josh Miller -- of the Hollywood Miller dynasty -- who after three years as my boss still looked at me with a face that said: Who let her in? Who stuck me on that Babe rip-off Lloyd the Hamster and then fired me the day it tanked, as I repeatedly warned him it would. Clearly, Josh was the true villain in my life story and deserved all the hate in my soon-to-expire heart, not dear Michael. But I couldn‘t give that windbag the satisfaction of knowing he drove me to suicide, could I? After further analysis, I realized that of course there were other people I deeply deeply hated too. So, yesterday afternoon, as the super pounded the eviction notice into my hollow apartment door, I committed to another draft.
Now, I love my mother. We all love our mothers, don‘t we? Dad, too, okay; somehow. But let‘s be honest here. You and I both know they destroyed any chances I had in this world. Don‘t say “therapy“ to me, Tina; you know Dr. Schteinlegger did his very best for two years before throwing up his professional hands. I know these dear people from whose clueless loins I sprang have everything to do with why I‘m a complete failure, but that sounded so common. Who doesn‘t blame their parents? That draft was full of clichéés and self-pity, and if it‘s one thing I‘m not, it‘s self-pitying.“

Olivia thinks she has troubles (being unemployed, lonely and on that fourth draft of a suicide note), but when happy-in-her-hometown-married-to-her-sweetheart Maddie is stricken with illness, older sibling Olivia is charged with looking beyond her own unhappiness and trying to help her sister as best she can.
As many might do, Olivia uses the time spent on airplanes and in hospital rooms to put down her thoughts to those who matter most in her confused and seemingly aimless life, and the very act provides a venue for clarity about her overflowing emotions. Particularly effective is Robinson‘s insider knowledge of Hollywood, which results in some of the book‘s most vivid and humorous sections.
From the tantrums of quirky studio executives to send-ups of Robin Williams and John Cleese, these bits are injected just as the reader senses needing a break from the heartache of a terminal illness, and are delivered in a sly, tongue-in-cheek manner.
Olivia is a well-crafted heroine, and the creation of Maddie, who is completely different from her big sister, works well in contrast. At its heart, this is a love story told from the perspective of two sisters, and female readers, especially, will find much to relate to in their relationship. Largely because of the prevalent humor, the book manages to be moving without morbid, even when Maddie‘s illness takes a turn for the worse and Olivia‘s movie project looks dismal at best.
It‘s inevitable, particularly given Robinson‘s connections, that this story will make it to the big screen in the near future, but do yourself a favor and read the book first.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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