Good article on soccer moms!
I came out of Vons and saw the Reader cover story (“Soccer Moms Are the Absolute Worst,” Cover Story, January 10), and I just had to read it, having three boys who are gifted athletes and the things I’ve seen.
When I lived in Chicago, it was bad. You’d see parents who would make their kids shoot 100 goals out on the ice before coming in for the night. I’m lucky, I guess, that my kids are fairly gifted athletes. But they play lacrosse, and it’s not like there’s money in that. I’ve seen parents punch their kids for doing something wrong, parents telling their kids they suck, everything.
But I had to call you and tell you about something I’ve witnessed here in Carmel Valley. And it was even covered in the newspaper here. They passed something called the “shhh rule.” A woman ref who was in charge of things over in the Torrey Pines area was so tired of unruly and loud parents that when things would get out of hand, the refs would make all the kids stop playing. They get down on one knee and put their finger to their mouth. And they stay like that for five minutes. I’ll be mowing my lawn, and I hear it get loud. Then it gets quiet, and I run to the fence and see them doing this. It’s so bizarre. But it seems to work.
They needed to do something for all these neurotic moms and competitive dads who think their kid will be the next Johnny Unitas or whoever. And some of those parents hire private trainers — it’s ridiculous. These kids will get burned out physically and mentally. It should be about the kids having fun.
I thought Jeff Smith and I had settled the matter of his bashing the Old Globe’s 2007 production of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure. Yet here he goes again, taking a “year in review” opportunity to bash it anew (Theater Review, January 10). So again I must come to its defense.
Those who, like Jeff Smith, believe that Shakespeare wrote “problem plays” refuse to accept the vision the playwright offers because it is not grist for their mill of moral confusion and psychic ambiguity. In fact, Measure for Measure is a great (non-problem) play about the universal human effort to harmonize the apparently antithetical values of justice and mercy — great because it offers a brilliant (and yes, crowd-pleasing) resolution of the conflict.
Paul Mullins did not “cookie-cut the script as a comedy.” He bucked a hundred-year tradition of seeing problems where they aren’t — a tradition in which Jeff Smith continues to be a true believer — and with his production achieved the reconciliation Shakespeare intended the play to represent. The real enemy of Shakespeare is not the crowd but the critic’s sarcastic implication that only what threatens comedy and tidy endings is real. That Shakespeare might have been offering some insight into how to transcend those threats continues to be inadmissible in Jeff Smith’s critical universe.
In fact, the Globe’s Measure was Shakespeare for people who love productions that serve Shakespeare’s healing intentions. Jeff Smith’s review of that play, by contrast, was Shakespeare criticism for people who want Shakespeare to be doing nothing but reinforcing their own lust for unsolved problems.
My dear Jeff: If you can’t enjoy what Shakespeare meant, leave him and the people who love him alone. Go write your own damn problem play.
Jeff Smith responds: That hundred-year tradition looks for what’s actually going on in Shakespeare’s plays — not what rigid ideas about genre, or the Bard’s alleged intentions, dictate should be there.