Deal Me In, Lord

In response to the article by Siobhan Braun (“Christian Card Counters,” Cover Story, April 12). Great article, Siobhan!!!!

First of all, I am appalled by the attitudes of the so-called Christians involved in the team of cheaters. Yes, cheaters. Shirley claims that she did not gamble a single day in her life. Sister, I don’t know you from Eve, but here’s a news flash for you. If you went into a casino and you placed cash money onto the table as a sort of bet, you gambled. Not only did you gamble, but because you went into the casino with deceit and treachery in your heart and you used trickery to deceive and cheat the other people (sinners) that were gambling against you, that also makes you a cheater. How can you possibly justify that? I would love to know the name of your so-called church that advocated this, as I am sure many people who are good Christians in San Diego would like to know. I do not recall ever seeing the name of your “church” mentioned in this article.

The fact that Shirley and other “team members” try to justify their actions by saying “The money is for the church” is a bunch of crap. Like she didn’t enjoy the RFBL’s or the free Alaskan cruise for her family that she received as a perk of her sinning. How did a church benefit from that? Or all the great $500 meals you and the other team members ate? How many starving children could you have fed with that, under God’s name? How dare you call yourself a Christian!!!!!!!!!! I, for one, will not disgrace the name of Christianity by watching this film Holy Rollers. It just seeks to give further justification to a group of misguided sinners and gambling addicts and the 15 minutes of fame they wrongly think they are entitled to after turning to a life of crime and then claiming “ I did it for God.”

What a bunch of losers you are in my eyes, and probably in God’s. I hope you all get arrested and rot in a jail cell, where you might truly come to know your Bible.

Name Withheld by Request
via email

Fixing Up Jersey

I really like Ed Bedford’s foodie reviews — real and normal — so this is in no way a slant to him or his work — just some fixing-up on the info he was given for the Jersey Mike’s review this week (“Jersey Mike’s Coming to Hillcrest,” “Feast!” April 12).

Apparently, someone told Ed that it’s “Point Pleasant, Jersey Shore.” Contrary to popular belief, there’s no such town in NJ as “Jersey Shore,” and so it should be “Point Pleasant, New Jersey.” Nitpicking? Guilty. I was born and raised in NJ, spending the better part of my years living along the Jersey shore (this is the part of the conversation where people tilt their heads a bit, smile smugly, and say, “Oh, I’m sorry”). Sure, there are some real pits in NJ — like in every state, but NJ also has some of the most beautiful beaches and farmland in the U.S.

Then there’s the statement that Point Pleasant is “the kinda PB of New Jersey.” I like Ed, so I’ll keep my “WTF?!” in my head and simply fix this: Point Pleasant is a beach community chock-full of 100-year-old homes that sit along the beach, tailor-made for large families — huge wraparound porches, colorful awnings, flower boxes — and the town boasts some of the best bed-and-breakfast inns and summer festivals around. This is a community that fosters a family environment and prides itself on its charm, cleanliness, and safety. Linking Point Pleasant to PB is akin to saying HomeTown Buffet is the kinda George’s at the Cove of Chula Vista, or Papa John’s is the kinda Bronx Pizza of Hillcrest, or Panda Express is the kinda Amarin Thai of Mission Valley. Two completely different animals. Trust me. (Side note for anyone that’s seen Jersey Shore on MTV: that’s filmed in a town called Seaside Heights, and that’s the PB of New Jersey.)

Okay, now on to the subs. If you’re true to your NJ roots, we call them “hoagies,” and I was so stoked when I visited the shop in Clairemont a while back because of the name — ah, a bit of home, right? Not a bit. None, actually. The words “Point Pleasant” are boldly splashed across the wall, but that’s all the Jersey there is. The article says their secret is “the bread they bake right there” — kudos for the fresh stuff, but it’s not Jersey by a long shot. A Jersey hoagie comes on a hard Italian roll — Jersey Mike’s rolls were pretty much supermarket-standard. And don’t you really want to be proud of the origin of the chain? Where are the Wise potato chips and the array of Tastykakes? That’s Jersey.

Sub shops are a dime a dozen, and Jersey Mike’s could really separate themselves from the pack by being authentic. They’ve got 600 locations — good for them. It just would’ve been nice to see someone use the New Jersey name authentically instead of as an attention-grabber.

Susan Gibbons-Bullock
via email

Reviewer Reviewed

Movie reviews are born of a subjective amalgam of the author’s personal experiences and learned wisdom. Personal likes/dislikes about a genre, camera angle, actors, or direction are to be expected. Thus, it’s no surprise so much valuable print space is wasted on the discussion of film reviews — this letter included — but more often in the Reader movie review section. A reviewer stating an opinion about a movie is great when backing up their feelings with reasons — allowing me to decide to choose to lay out cash for a ticket. A legacy of Reader reviews trashing a movie, countered ferociously by readers of the opposite opinion, and, sometimes, vice versa. It’s not often when you get to watch as a reviewer does both by himself in one piece.

David Elliott’s April 12 nostalgic review of a nostalgic film spends the first three paragraphs scuttling his feelings about the movie in a thinly veiled attempt to prove to the readership and film intelligentsia that he should know better, then the remaining four resurrecting them. One doesn’t need to apologize for liking a movie for the things that make it likable. Only the crassest of cinema snobs are going to fault one for appreciating the grandeur of an epic that harkens back to a style when film was about the relationships between characters caught in dramatic circumstances. That’s the human relatability thread that makes moviegoers care — and the reason there are separate categories in the Oscars for best film and best documentary. That grandeur doesn’t come cheap, either. Viewers can vote with their feet if they don’t like a film. When the director who changed the face of cinema technology with the introduction of Avatar rolls out a 3-D version of a 2-D filmed epic, I’d hope he dropped some coin to update it to the current standards that he advanced.

Reviews are supposed to act as the first wave on the beach, helping us decide which route to chart amongst the detritus of trumped-up laurels from the Kansas City Star and their ilk. Cynics (ain’t nobody here but us chickens) can confuse success with greed all they want; without big box office returns, blockbusters on this scale don’t get risked by studios. Attempts to agitate for equivalency between a film’s popular success and an Occupy Fill-in-the-Blank notion of greed will elicit more sweeping vistas and cinemagraphic excellence on the scale of The Blair Witch Project and its handheld on-hanger progeny — of course, driving the profit margins higher on such fare and encouraging more such “sellouts.” I’ll continue to look at what reviewers say, then make my own call on the next James Cameron film, or any film that piques my interest, and not worry about someone catching me enjoying it. For those more self-conscious viewers, IFC usually gets thrown into the first-tier cable package at no extra cost. You either like this stuff or you don’t.

Matthew Thompson
via email

A Word From Our Sponsors

The Reader’s critique of the recent layoffs at Voice of San Diego and VOSD’s operations was a good beginning but lacked depth (“The Business of Nonprofit News,” “City Lights,” April 5). The key questions — like, “Exactly who are your major donors?” — were not asked, and that might have offered insight into the out-of-seniority dismissal of, for example, Emily Alpert, who is, it appears, replaced by Will Carless. Shortly after Alpert was gone, Carless launched a grotesque attack on the San Diego Education Association and its leadership, in essence denouncing the union for starting to think like a union, that is, recognizing contradictory interests of employers and employees.

Carless insisted that the union arrive at the bargaining table having already announced a surrender of wages, hours, and working conditions. Nobody needs a union to surrender, and moreover, that is not how bargaining works. Alpert, at least, reported from evidence. She went out, looked around, and reported what she saw, in a reasonably balanced context. Carless, writing with the breezy pen of a hit-and-run specialist, took a fictional template of understanding and tried to force his players into it. In the context of the relentless attacks on teachers, here and nationwide, reflecting the demands of a society promising youth bad jobs, no jobs, and perpetual war, it would have been very interesting to learn exactly who VOSD’s sponsors are, what their interests may be, and how the Carless-over-Alpert decision was made. Absent that, thoughtful critics are left with suspecting that the VOSD is the voice of San Diego’s largely white upper-middle class that likes hip, if superficial, news.

Name Withheld by Request
via email

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To be clear, in my commentary on David Elliott's more recent review of Titanic 3-D, I'm not throwing him in with cynics or blurb writers who do film review a disservice and make it harder for the consumer to find good entertainment. I value his critiques and learn from them things I would have missed or haven't the experience to catch. My commentary was focused on those readers or reviewers who would assess the worth of the film based upon the cost to make such an epic, or throw Titanic out with the bathwater because of the less than solid supporting cast performances because they fall short of the character development and dimensionality of those in Downton Abbey.

I look forward to Mr. Elliott's next reviews to decide how to focus my viewing and continue learning about the continuum of film.

--Matthew Thompson

While it's always interesting to hear someones views on a film; criticism is always going to be a subjective thing. What I find even more interesting is our need for film and how we are willing to view on the silver screen what we are less willing to see in our own lives (or frame and place on our fireplace mantle or post on Facebook).

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