Letters, calls and the roar of the crowd:
Leonard S. Jacobson, Pikesville: In my community it is a misdemeanor not to have seen either "Le Miz" or "Phantom," which is yuppie shorthand for "Les Miserables" and "Phantom of the Opera." And it is a felony to have seen either and not loved it.
Those who have raved about either or both of these Broadway hits have been invited to sing or even hum one memorable song from the show and have failed to be able to do so.
Your comments about the comparison with these two "smoke and mirror" extravaganzas and "South Pacific" and other Broadway hits are right on the mark. As for Andrew Lloyd Weber, I'm gonna wash that man right out of my hair.
COMMENT: You don't have to challenge your friends to sing a song from most of today's musicals; just ask them to tell you what the actor is singing while he is singing it.
In most cases, your friend won't be able to. The producers of modern musicals no longer care if the audience is able to understand what is being said, sung or bellowed from the stage.
But the audiences leave the theaters saying "marvelous" and "magnificent" because they are afraid of appearing unsophisticated.
Call me a lowbrow, but I'll take a show like "Annie" any day. At least you could sit through the whole thing and not have to elbow your spouse and say: "What's she saying? Huh? What?"
Mark O'Bradovich, Baltimore: I surmise that, by now, you have received many written responses about your article concerning beer. Many of my fellow workers at the Carling-National-G. Heileman Brewery on Hollins Ferry Road in Halethorpe who read the article have probably apprised you of their personal comments.
Since I do work for the brewery, I just want you to know that I have cogitated about your article. Can I agree or disagree with what you wrote? I can. But any articulate response would have to be derived from my superiors at the brewery who are more adept and qualified in responding.
COMMENT: They may be more adept and qualified than you, Mark, but they are a whole lot lazier since none of them bothered to write.
Which just goes to prove what I have always said: If you want something done right, don't wait around for your superiors to do it.
Frances Nunnally, Baltimore: Please pick on one of the otheairlines instead of USAir! We have flown USAir many times and the flights have always been on time. . . . I have found nothing unpleasant with this airline to date. In fact, in my opinion, USAir is No. 1.
COMMENT: Your letter has caused me to begin a new feature in which I will log every USAir flight I take, evaluating each one on a scale of 0 to 10. A 10 represents a flight that leaves and arrives on time, is comfortable and the flight attendant drops by my seat to tell me how much better-looking I am in person than in my column picture. A 0 is when the wings fall off.
Here's the log of my last four actual flights on USAir:
Baltimore to Boston, Nov. 9: We leave on time, the flight is smooth and the only minus comes when the pilot announces we will be landing in Providence, R.I., in 10 minutes.
But who cares if the pilot says he's going to land in Providence, just as long as he does land in Boston? Which he does. On time.
Boston to Baltimore, Nov. 10: Trouble at the airport. The Boston to Charlotte to Tampa flight is already showing "canceled" on the TV monitors, which means USAir is having a less than perfect day. And I count fewer than 20 people in the waiting area for the Baltimore flight, which is a bad sign. My experience is that if you don't have a lot of people on your flight, USAir may give your plane away to some other flight.
The gate personnel make a variety of announcements telling us it is raining in Newark, which is where our plane is coming from (and where, apparently, they have difficulty handling rain.)
We are more than an hour late arriving in Baltimore, but we do get there. So give USAir credit for flying in the rain.
Baltimore to Tampa, Nov. 15: Flawless, even though we leave BWI from the infamous gate B-16, which is located approximately in Columbia. But exercise is good for us, even the kind that makes us get double vision and breathe real heavy.
We leave on time, arrive on time, and the Chicken Mexicana is surprising edible.
Orlando to Baltimore, Nov. 19: A reasonably comfortable flight, considering any flight leaving Orlando is packed with kids suffering from an advanced state of Disney World
withdrawal. And their parents are shaking their heads trying to figure out how they could have spent so much money. (You know what EPCOT really stands for? Everybody's Paycheck Comes Out Tiny.)
Take off a half point because USAir decides to keep the cabin temperature cold enough to chill martinis, but award a quarter point because, for once, the reading light is aimed where an actual human being would hold a book to read it.
Adding up our scores and averaging, we find that USAir gets a final score for the four flights of: 9.19.
Not bad, USAir! Keep up the good work! And keep those wings glued on real tight!