Laughing man takes the fun out of the jokes | Jan. 16 Bill Stevens column
Loud person should get earful
I find myself compelled to give some feedback on the column, or moral support. I'm completely on your side in regards to the obnoxious laughing man and how disruptive a person's outlandish laughing can truly be.
I've experienced this behavior myself and have no problem relating to your dilemma, only my nemesis was a woman. Like you, I kept quiet and said nothing at the time as it was rather difficult for me to tell a person to control laughter. (If she had been talking out loud on a continual basis I would have had no problem expressing my dissatisfaction.) Yet afterwards I realized I didn't enjoy the show all that much because of her constant loud cackling. In the case of a future situation, I have decided I will no longer keep my annoyance quiet. Why should my theater experience be adversely affected by someone else's exaggerated disruptive behavior? From now on, during intermission, I will politely tell the person their over-the-top laughing is distracting to me and other people, (hopefully one can find allies) and could they please try to refrain somewhat.
My best guess is calling the person out no matter how politely done will probably bring forth a negative attitude, but maybe not. At least he or she will be aware of the loud laughter and perhaps unconsciously lower the volume.
Jerry Blomgren, New Port Richey
Reaction reveals writer's contempt
I've been reading the St. Petersburg Times for decades. Bill Stevens wrote the most narrow-minded, hateful and ignorant statements I have ever read in the St. Petersburg Times. It railed against a member of an audience.
The man who was verbally assaulted by Bill Stevens deserves an apology as does everyone who has ever attended a live performance. The article was a line by line examination of Mr. Stevens' lack of humanity. The open declaration of contempt for the audience is a clear indicator that Mr. Stevens has lost his objectivity as a journalist. Untalented artists sometimes develop disdain for the viewer, ungifted writers sometimes develop scorn for the reader. Bill Stevens' article demonstrates contempt for the audience, for the reader and for a gentleman who was simply enjoying an evening of live entertainment.
If this is what Mr. Steven's thinks of the audience, and of people, his views and opinions no longer serve the public or readers of the St. Petersburg Times. I love to laugh, I enjoy laughter and I love it when people have a good time. I am very offended by Bill Stevens.
Stuart Long, Port Richey
Laughter is what we strive for
I'm one of the cast members of the play Sin, Sex and the CIA presented at Richey Suncoast Theater that Bill Stevens wrote about. Bill found it difficult to concentrate or enjoy the play because of the loud and robust laughter of an audience member.
I have to admit the man's laughter was the loudest of the entire audience. Yes, Bill, the cast was taken aback by this man's huge, booming laugh. Yes, we really did need to hear an audiences response after rehearsing for two months with just the reaction of a few crew members.
Here is where you and I differ in opinion. Each actor in our play works for free. We study our scripts, learn our blocking and hope we give the paying members of our audience the best show we can. After all, it's live theater, warts and all. The compensation we receive is the laughter. The paycheck we take with us is the applause and bows we get before the curtain comes down. That's it.
I wish your story had been more positive. I wish you hadn't found our cast not worthy enough to make audience members react as laughing man did. It seems, nowadays, it's easier to accept other people giving the one-finger salute on U.S. 19 than it is to take one man's reaction, laughter (no matter how loud), and remember this show was a comedy farce. We tried our best to make people forget their problems and simply have a fun time.
Laughter is a positive thing. It's what we work so hard for in the theater. I wish you had seen it that way.
Dennis Tekula, New Port Richey
Re: Sinkhole insurance
Real cause of sinkholes ignored
Homeowners in Pasco are paying extremely high premiums to cover damage to their homes caused by sinkholes on their property. Most of us understand what causes a sinkhole. It is the collapsing of the earth into a void caused by the removal of the supporting aggregate.
Last year, the Times reported on the excessive pumping of water by strawberry farmers in an effort to save their crops. Many sinkholes were created and several homes were either damaged or destroyed. The cause was laid to the overpumping and the void that was created in the underground support.
I think that the same blame should be tied to the above-average frequency of sinkholes in Pasco and Hernando counties. For more than two decades, a regional water authority pumped water from the well fields in our area to support the overpopulated Pinellas County. The pipe that was installed had several defective sections and blowouts in this pipe led to hundreds of thousands gallons of water being wasted. Tampa Bay Water was mandated to reduce pumping at 11 Pasco and Hillsborough County well fields from 158 million gallons per day to 90 million gallons by 2008. Just imagine if they hadn't reduced pumping.
Now the homeowners in Pasco and Hernando are being charged premiums that are higher than the average for the state of Florida. This is just another example of a government agency making bad decision and causing citizens to pay for things that they shouldn't be required to pay.
Recently, I read that the reason for this increased number of sinkhole claims is perhaps due to the number of phony claims turned in by people trying to scam the system. It is remarkable that all of the cheats are in just two counties. What a strange coincidence. Now we can go after the cheats and recover funds that were illegally gotten and forget going after the cheats that caused the sinkholes in the first place.
D.W. Deck, New Port Richey