As an avid film lover and supporter of independent films, I was very excited about the opening of Sundance in Madison. However, its pricing policies will keep me at Westgate. On top of its $8.75 ticket price, Sundance charges a mandatory $3 "service fee" for all that supposedly "free" Wi-Fi and other waiting-room upgrades. That's a 34% incremental charge that Kent Williams' review neglected to mention (Movies, 5/18/07).
Suddenly, seeing The Waitress on a Saturday night cost me nearly $12! This is Madison, not New York City. I'm here for a movie experience, not to check my e-mail. For those patrons who wish to use Wi-Fi and enjoy the community space, Sundance should charge them accordingly.
I should not have to pay one-third more for incremental amenities that I have no intention of using. It's simply outrageous, especially since the service charge is not even directly related to the movie experience. So was the birch tree-lined wall pretty? Yes. Was the movie at Sundance worth $12? Hardly.
And I think a lot of Madison film fans will agree with me.
An $8.25 matinee at Sundance Cinema? NetFlix, here I come.
While I appreciate Sundance bringing independent films to Madison that might normally not be booked here, the "experience" is now costing the modest-income moviegoer $8.25 minimum for a matinee. Or, as it was explained to me: "$6.25 for the show, plus a $2 service fee for building maintenance".
And the fee is not a set fee either, but changes with the time of day or the day of the week. Guess the building takes a little more maintenance on Sunday afternoon - all those hardcore Hilldale shoppers must be raising hell at Sundance.
Let Sundance add its maintenance fee to the cost of a coffee and pastry or charge two bucks per hour to sit in those leather chairs. And let me see my movie for a reasonable matinee price.
United they complain
Three Cheers for Raphael Kadushin! His article represents the experiences of hundreds of Madison frequent flyers ("The Unfriendly Skies," 5/18/07). I identified with every incident he detailed. I spent several years in the hospitality business and more than 20 in event management. The kind of United service people experience in Chicago and Madison would not be tolerated in any other service industry.
Still, for the most part, the Madison staff is friendly and try to help. However the Chicago staff would not get hired by George Webb.
My last United flight started on a Wednesday morning in Palm Springs and ended in Chicago on Thursday at 3 a.m. I was told no seat was available on any Thursday flight to Madison, so I could wait until Friday to take a flight or find my own way home via the Van Galder bus.
My deepest respect for the guy writing this column. Kadushin has lots and lots of "friends" with the same United story.
The government should do something about this poor service.
Congratulations on the column! However, I wonder why Raphael Kadushin forgot American Eagle, which also serves the Madison-O'Hare route. Its on-time performance is better than United's and its cancellations are rare.
Why has it taken so long to see a piece by Raphael Kadushin on a topic other than food? His opinion piece on the woeful performance of United Express was on the money and funny. Please, more Kadushin snarl on a regular basis.
James A. Stewart
Just because Mayor Dave's former aide and one-time deputy campaign manager landed a newly created $83k/year job working with the city's engineering department ("Job Pick Stirs Controversy," 5/18/07) despite lacking the credentials stipulated when the job opening was advertised, conspiracy theorists start yelling "Foul!"
Give me a break! These are probably the same people who thought "Brownie" wasn't doing a "heckuva job" at FEMA.
Everybody knows that being an effective manager isn't all about book learning. Many of us have learned a lot in the rough-and-tumble of real life: The School of Hard Knocks, right?
Well, the same can be said of many other life experiences that can be equally instructive. Think, Patronage Polytech or its sister school, Cronyism College. Given this background, I'm sure the new appointee will make a "heck of an engineer"!
Besides, we're not a sleepy college town any more. We're entering the big time and that means big-city politics. So move over, Richard Daley and make room for Mayor Dave from Mad Town.
Your mind on Zen
Thank you for Richard Ely's "Dairyland Dharma" (4/27/07). While enjoyable to read, the article lends credence to a popular misconception about Zen meditation: that "the idea is to quiet the mind." Anyone holding that idea will sooner or later be "stuck" in their meditation practice.
The founding teacher of our Kwan Um Zen tradition, Zen Master Seung Sahn, taught, "Leave your mind alone." As one of our members exclaimed, when instructed not to try to "quiet" her mind or get rid of unwanted thoughts "As if I could!" Exactly.
More to the point is the question of where all these thoughts come from. What is the nature of these thoughts? Who or what is it that perceives these thoughts? Zen means attaining this point, and then using this attainment to help everyone around us.
The author characterized the Zen esthetic as "tidy, spare, orderly, spacious." Well, maybe or maybe not. Isthmus Zen Community members, friends and visitors often characterize our Kwan Um tradition of Korean Zen as warm, friendly and maybe just a little bit messy. But as Shakyamuni Buddha said, "Come and see" for yourself! Newcomers are always welcome.
Dave Peters Abbot Isthmus Zen Community www.isthmuszencommunity.org
I got a kick out of Brian Strassburg's cartoon "Isthmus Beltline Traffic Survey Suggestions" (5/4/07), especially #4: "The average tailgating distance must be increased from its current 6 inches to a full foot."
His suggestion is just as appropriate for the Interstate. On recent trips I've observed a scary new phenomenon: Semi trucks following one other so closely that, had they been stopped, I could not have parallel parked between them. It's bad enough when they follow a car that closely; now they do it to other trucks!
Ruth E. Wagner
Given that our medical industry is one of the most heavily regulated industries, it is bizarre to refer to health insurance companies as operating in a free market ("Sick System," 5/11/07). Or worse, to refer to Canadian physicians running "private" practices, when their government makes it nearly impossible for them to make any money outside the government-run medical system.
The result of not acknowledging the possibility of a true free market is that the entire debate is framed in terms of two forms of government health care: Canadian-style, where the government holds a monopoly over health care, and American-style, where ownership remains private, but government controls almost every aspect of the industry. These are merely two sides of the same statist coin.
Who knew that stating the obvious - that literature is in trouble ("The Book's Next Chapter," 4/20/07) - would be so controversial? Roger Revenaux writes, in his letter (6/8/07) accusing me of alarmism, that "the cream of writers...will rise." Huh? Tell that to the countless number of eminently gifted writers who have seen their books sink without a trace. The fact that both the LA Times and Chicago Tribune Sunday book review sections have folded in the last month guarantees even less future visibility.
As for Susan Kepecs' suggestion that I misrepresented myself (Letters, 6/8/07) - that would be true if the piece was a monologue. But it wasn't. By not allowing her subjects the opportunity to respond to one another's opinions (in fact I had no idea she was talking to any other writers, aside from Jackie Mitchard), she squandered the chance for a sorely needed dialogue on a crucial issue.
Raphael Kadushin Senior aquisitions editor University of Wisconsin Press
Susan Kepecs replies: I was interviewing writers, not running a seminar. I don't know any journalists who call back interviewees and offer them the opportunity to change their statements.