It would have been good for stadium, too

I agree with the Star Tribune's Jan. 17 editorial that loopholes in Minnesota's Data Practices Act shouldn't keep taxpayers from knowing why public employees are still paid when they're no longer working. The act is intended to promote, not to prevent, transparency.

But why didn't the Editorial Board apply the same logic on the Vikings stadium? Why didn't it complain when the Legislature trumped a Minneapolis charter provision demanding a referendum for any sports facility costing more than $10 million? Sure, there are angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin technical differences between the two situations, but the basic principle is the same: A law created expressly for the purpose of giving the people a say about the uses of public money has been elbowed out of the way expressly for the purpose of denying the people their say.

STEVEN SCHILD, Winona, Minn.


Community support must be earned again

It's gratifying that the Minnesota Orchestra's management and musicians finally reached a contract settlement, but both sides have a long way to go to win back the support and trust of concertgoers. Management and musicians are equally responsible for the debacle that nearly destroyed this beloved organization.

Sadly, the prolonged intransigence came at too great a cost: the loss of the orchestra's irreplaceable music director, Osmo Vänskä. The musicians are nothing without a great conductor. I pray that management will beg Vänskä to return and that he will be willing to do so ("Vänskä: 'They have to ask me' back," Jan. 16). That's the surefire way to return the Minnesota Orchestra to its former glory and to lure music lovers back to Orchestra Hall.



Teens motivated by image-driven society

Regarding the Jan. 15 article "Teen girls risk cancer for a tan," in which the first sentence mentions "the quest to look 'better, cuter, hotter,' here's my thought, especially as the father of a 7-year-old daughter. Both sexes are inundated with sexually driven media these days. Television is bad enough; however, parents can govern what their children watch. But how about the filth our kids are exposed to in the checkout lane at the local grocery and retail stores? I have talked with our local grocer about either covering up magazines such as Cosmopolitan, which offers salacious advice such as "101 sex tricks to drive your man wild in bed," or putting them behind the service counter. Covers such as this may sell magazines, but young girls see them and think "this is how I have to behave." Boys see them and think "this is how a girl has to behave."

Now, which retailer is going to step up to the plate and practice a little morality discipline, or is it all about the mighty dollar?

RICHARD O'BRIEN, Albertville, Minn.


There's good stuff out there to see

In response to a Jan. 13 letter on movie quality, I, too, believe that "American Hustle" is overrated. However, studio films "Gravity" and "Captain Phillips" both were well-directed and well-acted and were among the best films of the 173 that I saw last year (I typically see about 100 to 150 films a year). And for only the third time in the last 10 years, a studio film was my favorite of last year. It seems that "Prisoners" got lost in the award shuffle, but it was absolutely brilliant. It is a shockingly hard film that never lets up. The story of two girls kidnapped on Thanksgiving is every parent's nightmare, and the inability to control the circumstances that leads one of the victim's father to kidnap the main suspect —a mentally disabled man — and brutally torture him while a police detective is searching through the dark underbelly of our society is just pulled from our post-Newtown, post-Ariel Castro culture.

My advice to the letter writer is to go see this movie, and while he might see it as a mix of "Mystic River" and "Zero Dark Thirty," I assure him that "Prisoners" will make him rethink studio films.


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In his Oscar tipsheet (Jan. 17), Colin Covert notes that Tom Hanks' "ill-advised New England accent [in 'Captain Phillips'] gums up his dialogue like wicked bad chowdah." Two weeks after seeing the movie, I heard the real Phillips speak when he was in town. I can't tell you how much it seemed, when I closed my eyes as he was speaking, like I was hearing Tom Hanks.

Now I see Covert criticizing Hanks for being so realistic that it sounded artificial. I hate when movies pick someone who can't do an accent to play a character with a known accent. Two examples are Liam Neeson (whom I like) playing an American CIA agent in "Taken" and Kevin Costner trying to play any character with an accent ("Robin Hood"?).

There might have been issues with the movie, but Tom Hanks was pitch-perfect.