Letters, calls and the roar of the crowd:
Richard W. Norris, Baltimore: I wrote to The Sun and The Evening Sun a total of 13 times within the past year about an article that I had written on old Baltimore motion picture theaters.
After writing 13 times, I received answers from two Sun writers. . . .
Even if the other 11 rejected [me], as they evidently [did], you would think that they would have had the decency to pick up a phone and make a one-minute call if they were too busy to write.
I guess since The Sun has become the only daily in Baltimore it thinks that it no longer has to be considerate of its readers.
COMMENT: You did deserve a reply. I dug out your letter dated July 1 and found your 13-page list of old movie theaters (which is not exactly an "article," but let's not split hairs), to which I never replied. I apologize for not doing so. But I can't promise to do much better in the future.
I believe anyone who takes the time to sit down and write a letter to a newspaper deserves a reply. And, in a previous life, when I had a secretary, everyone who wrote me, even those who wrote terrible, nasty, clearly demented letters, received a nice, polite, hand-signed, personal reply from me suitable for framing.
Today, this is no longer possible. I do read every letter. I do enjoy talking to readers on the telephone. But if I tried to respond to each letter by writing back or calling, I would not have time to write columns. And, I think we would all agree, the world would be a lesser place for that.
To make up for this failure on my part, however, I instituted this column. It gives letter writers the opportunity to express themselves and get a little recognition. And it gives me the
opportunity to make vicious, unrelenting fun of them.
Don't thank me, Richard. It's what I get paid for.
Paul W. Graves, Towson: You write that Baltimore is the only city in North America that has a major league baseball team and no other major league team.
The Blast is one of the better teams in the Major Indoor Soccer League.
How many other people wrote or called to remind you of the Baltimore Blast?
COMMENT: Not one. That's because most people know that while the Blast is a fine team and a lot of fun to watch, indoor soccer is no more a major league sport than arena football.
On the other hand, if the Blast threatened to leave Baltimore and move to Florida, we'd probably build a stadium for them.
Allen Perlin, Lutherville: I know that turning out a daily column is sometimes difficult, but I wonder if you've ever explored your own publication for material.
Only yesterday, while your column graced the first page of the section, a fascinating article lurked on the back page.
It was an Associated Press story titled: "Study says retired men no longer fit stereotype."
As a newly arrived member of this elder idle class, I was fascinated.
Apparently, someone has discovered that . . . "Americans have a significant increase in free time after retirement."
Well! What a surprise!
Then we learn that "Nap time almost doubles for people 65 and older." If their nap time has doubled, how long did they nap while they were working?
Did I miss out on something all those years I struggled to stay awake on the job?
COMMENT: You certainly did. Massive and prolonged napping on the job is the only thing I can think of to explain the quality of the goods and services produced today.
Joe E. Levin, Randallstown: Your deli joke about the two slices of corned beef, Danny Thomas told years ago. But the slices were lox, not corned beef. So there.
COMMENT: I had to change it to avoid a plagiarism scandal. Besides, no deli man in his right mind would slice six pounds of lox these days. Not unless he had a Brinks guard at his elbow.
Tom Smith, House Radio and TV Gallery, The Capitol, Washington, D.C.: Falstaff. The other beer they sold at the old Comiskey Park was Falstaff. And before Harry Carey left the White Sox for the North Side, when the Sox began catering to the elite via cable, which was his reason for going to the Cubs, he used to advertise the beer between innings by saying, "Tell 'em Harry sent ya."
My relatives in Chicago share the same dread for the Stadium Club as do you. Please write more on this topic before the Orioles begin serving Maryland's elite and Jon Miller leaves for the Phillies because our team's owners opted for caviar and pay-per-view over the status quo that has made the sport America's game.
COMMENT: There is a predictable, yet interesting, phenomenon that arises from these New Wave ballparks like Comiskey and the one being built at Camden Yards: They attract a different baseball crowd -- a lot more yuppies, a lot more people with dough.
If people can have the same comfort level in going to a baseball game that they get from going to a fern bar or a classy restaurant, they will go to a baseball game.
I am not knocking this. Baseball needs everybody. It does have one rather odd side effect, however:
One of the people I attended a recent game at the new Comiskey Park with told me he had gotten into a fight a few days before with the people sitting behind him in the stands.
Were they knocking your team? I asked him.
"Naw," he said.
Were they swearing or drunk or something?
"Naw," he said.
Then what was the fight about?
"For six innings these two guys behind me were arguing about whether they should install the new DOS 5.0 in their company computers or wait until the next generation," he said. "For six innings! Finally, I couldn't stand it anymore and I stood up and turned around, told them if they didn't shut the hell up I was going to strangle them. Besides, everybody knows you should switch to DOS 5.0."
Baseball fever -- interface with it!