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Readers critique The Post: Lists of the best sports films and songs left off these classics



If  the list is going to include songs that simply are played to pump up crowds during introductions and breaks (with little to do with sports), the omission of Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” (1982) celebrating Rocky’s fortitude was unconscionable. Similarly, Steam’s “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” (1969) to taunt inevitable losers and pounded, exiting baseball pitchers is iconic.

Omitting Count Basie’s version of Buddy Johnson’s “Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball” (1949) was unforgivable. Similarly, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” (1908) by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer has become the official anthem for North American baseball, boosted for decades by Harry Caray’s delightful (sometimes seemingly tipsy) singing during seventh-inning stretches for the Chicago White Sox and Cubs.

Recorded in 1985, the Grammy-nominated rap hit recorded by the players of the Chicago Bears titled “The Super Bowl Shuffle” was an instant mainstream popular phenomenon and precursor to an explosion of creative and entertaining end zone celebrations.  And who could forget Cheech and Chong’s “Basketball Jones Featuring Tyrone Shoelaces,” released as a single in August 1973 and reaching No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100?  That tune, celebrating the love of basketball, featured musicians including George Harrison, Billy Preston, Tom Scott and Carole King (and was the highest-peaking single on which she appeared that year). The Blossoms and Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas performed vocals as cheerleaders on that track, which was later covered by Chris Rock and Barry White in 1996 for the immensely popular basketball film “Space Jam.”

But the deepest and most beautiful treatment of a sports figure may be Mark Knopfler’s “Song for Sonny Liston” (2004), a touching portrayal of a conflicted, flawed human sports figure in a conflicted, flawed society.

Thanks, though, for the effort. It beats what we have: no real sports news except silly video car “races,” horses (a sport, really?!) and the prospect of competition in stadiums and on golf courses void of spectators. And fans are essential. Oh, and what about the almost 50 years of “Monday Night Football” theme songs?

Pete Jordan, Fredericksburg, Va.

Yo, Post! Loved the lists of sports films, books and songs, but youse still blew it.  Twice!  First, youse left “Rocky” (as in best picture, 1976) off your best sports films list. And now youse left the “Rocky” theme song, “Gonna Fly Now,” off your best sports songs list. (Go ahead — just try to think of that tune without wanting to find the nearest art museum steps to ascend.) Now that was a serious one-two punch.  

Senseless danger

The April 15 Style article “Sniffing out covid-19’s weirdest symptom” reminded me of a time when I experienced a lengthy loss of my sense of taste and smell, when my family and I first moved to Saudi Arabia for my husband’s new job. After a very bad head cold, I lost both senses for more than a month. For someone who loves to cook and eat, this was a personal challenge to add to the adjustment of a major life change for us and our two young girls.

A point not made in the article is that the loss of these senses may impact your safety and anxiety level as well. Not being able to smell something burning in the oven or toaster is alarming. I could not smell bleach or ammonia if used in the house. If there were a gas leak, I would not be aware of it, because natural gas has no smell of its own and therefore has a unique scent added to it. If I had a very young child, I might not be able to tell if she had swallowed a noxious and dangerous substance.

Fortunately, although I could not taste our Thanksgiving dinner, both senses fully returned in the cookie-baking weeks just before Christmas.

Eighty-six these N95s

The April 19 front-page article “As jobs dry up, so does insurance” showed a woman wearing a mask. There was no comment about the mask in the picture’s description. The mask is an N95 with an exhalation valve. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes these masks with exhalation valves as providing protection to the wearer but to no one else.

When the wearer exhales, almost all of the exhalation (or cough, sneeze or virus-laden droplets) exits unfiltered through the valve. Many home improvement stores carried these masks, and many are still in do-it-yourselfers’ possession. These masks are not suitable for being worn in public places where social distancing might be difficult to maintain. The primary purpose of the public wearing a mask is to minimize infection from asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals. N95 masks with exhalation valves will not perform that function.  

Including a picture of someone wearing such a mask without an explanation of its unsuitability to the general public does not help flatten the curve.

John Lane, Finksburg, Md.

A better disease fighter

Missing from the April 21 news article “Testing czar was forced out of vaccine job at Texas A&M” was any mention of Brett Giroir’s most prominent work in the administration: leading a national effort to end HIV in the United States. This science-based, historic initiative is ramping up access to HIV prevention programs and antiretrovirals for treatment in a focused and coordinated government-wide approach. Giroir is spearheading it with, among others, Anthony S. Fauci of the National Institutes of Health and Robert Redfield of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and implementing it with local government partners and the community in record speed. 

I have worked with Giroir’s predecessors for more than 20 years in administrations representing both parties and can easily conclude that he has done more to end HIV, hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections than any of his predecessors. His leadership in combating HIV and other infectious diseases has prepared him well for his added role as he serves our country during this public health emergency.

The writer is executive director of the HIV + Hepatitis Policy Institute.

I was surprised by the photograph accompanying the April 12 Outlook essay “Five Myths: Continuity of government.” My initial reaction was there must be a more representative photo of continuity of U.S. government. But upon reading Myth No. 1, I understood the intent of the photo was to show the presidential lectern without a president (or presidential seal), reinforcing the premise that continuity of government planning is “about ensuring that someone in the line of succession survives — so they can take over.” My second reaction was: Why aren’t the “White House employees clean[ing] the lectern before President Trump gives a news briefing” identified by name? The photo is properly attributed to Jabin Botsford, and it is my understanding that photographers usually document the names of any photo subjects.

As this coronavirus pandemic is making exceedingly clear, “essential” workers remain the backbone of our lives and our economy.  Work has dignity, whether in health care, mail delivery, construction, food delivery or grocery stores. The workers cleaning the presidential lectern should have been identified by name.

Ceresa Haney, Falls Church

Woman cannot live by rutabaga alone

My adorable mother, Hélène Dupont Spratford, 94, gave up the perfumed lavender fields of Provence for central Jersey (!) in 1946, after falling for my father, a fresh-faced GI from New Brunswick. She planted raspberry canes, named her first-born son Jean-Michel, made ratatouille and became a French teacher.

Her hometown, the bustling southern port city of Marseille, suffered horrific damage in World War II — bombings, Nazi occupation, snipers and machine gun nests; to this day, she is frightened by German shepherds. She rarely recounts a young teenager’s memories of destruction and privation, with one exception – she hates rutabagas because, during the war, that was often all there was.

Catherine Dowling, Arlington

National treasure

How did The Post manage to get Ralph Waldo Emerson’s ghost to write for its Metro section? Consider: “Under the force of the fierce gusts, tree branches seem to offer unspoken messages. Sometimes they nodded, in seeming assent. Other times, they twisted and swiveled, as if issuing a furious but unavailing denial” [“Tree-toppling winds may have escaped notice of some in isolation,” Metro, April 11]. It’s gems like this that brighten people’s days. Martin Weil is a national treasure.

Ben Hawkinson, Washington

Nickeled and dimed

The otherwise excellent April 19 Business article “Stimulus checks: How much, when and everything else” said, as has almost every other story about the $1,200 stimulus checks, that they will be reduced by $5 for every $100 a person earns above $75,000 a year. It should say 5 percent because the Treasury Department is literally deducting a nickel for every dollar above $75,000; there’s no rounding to the nearest hundred. 

Maybe it’s a small thing, and I’m fortunate to have earned enough in 2019 to see the reality of the percentage deduction, but Treasury is literally nickel and diming the support assistance to individuals. 

Somehow I doubt corporate assistance is parsed out to the last nickel.

Robert B. McNeil Jr., Alexandria

Sterling Stirling

The April 14 obituary honoring Stirling Moss, “Crash ended famed F1 racer’s career,” was excellent, but it missed one achievement that was clearly his most accomplished win: the 1955 Mille Miglia. He and navigator Denis Jenkinson won that race of slightly less than 1,000 miles in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR in a record time of 10 hours, seven minutes and 48 seconds, beating his longtime rival Juan Fangio in another Mercedes SLR by more than 30 minutes.

My friend Steve Brooks and I attended the 2015 Amelia Island Concours D’Elegance with the hope of meeting Moss, the honoree for that year. Brooks owned a 1955 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 and had applied for entry to that year’s Mille Miglia. I was to be the navigator. We arrived at the Concours with two photographs of the Olds, hoping to have Moss autograph our pictures.

I introduced myself to him, told him of our goal to enter the Mille Miglia and asked him to autograph our pictures. He signed both photographs. Later, Brooks and his wife and I had an incredible 30-minute conversation, mostly about the Mille Miglia and our chances of being selected.

What I remember most of that meeting was just how engaging and approachable Moss was. He seemed to be more interested in what we aspired to do with the 55 Olds than anything he had accomplished in his racing days. A true gentleman, and one for the ages.

Larry Ledbetter, Alexandria

No cross words here

Ah, the bliss of the daily crossword, as satisfying as meditation, chocolate or sunshine. Every morning, first thing, the world disappears and my focus is on filling in those little boxes. I am most grateful to the crossword wizards who have given me new vocabulary, many challenges and chuckles and stress relief in a most enjoyable form. I cannot believe I had never tried a crossword puzzle until I was in my 60s. Now I am hooked and wouldn’t miss a day. Thank you to all!

Kathryn Williams, Silver Spring

Passing over the full explanation

The photo caption for the April 17 World Digest mentioned that Holy Thursday and Easter fall later in the Orthodox faith because Orthodox Christians use the Julian rather than the Gregorian calendar.  This is not entirely correct. If the difference were only because of the two calendars, the difference would have been 13 days and not seven. 

Easter in the Orthodox and other Christian faiths is a lunar holiday. Easter is on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox. The difference is that in the Orthodox faith, Easter has to come after Passover.  

Dayhawks

As my husband and I sat at our breakfast table, with the April 19 Post before us, he looked at the front-page photograph of downtown Charleston, W.Va. — with empty old buildings in dark colors, and only one person — then pointed to the Edward Hopper print on our wall — showing a rural old-fashioned filling station with only one person — and we agreed without saying a word: The photographer, Michael S. Williamson, evoked the Hopper atmosphere. The same effect was captured in an April 17 front-page photo. Nick Hagen’s photo of an empty hot dog shop at dusk reminds me of Hopper’s “Nighthawks.” Excellent photographic artistry, great editorial choice.

Janet K. Gerson, Gaithersburg

An upside-down view of bats

Can we please avoid further anti-scientific misinformation? The shameful death rate from the novel coronavirus in the United States bespeaks a horrific toll from scientific illiteracy, as do the (not-quite grass-roots) misinformed protests against science-based statewide closures. So when this occurs on the pages of The Post, it should be called out. Kathleen Parker’s April 19 op-ed, “Amid the din of pandemic, a whisper of sanity,” rightly called for us to “come away from this nightmare with a greater appreciation for the fragility of life.”

I concur but further urge that we also need a greater appreciation for science, which could start by not stereotyping bats as “hideous, winged beast[s].” Bats play a vital and beneficial role in the ecosystem and are often considered keystone species. They play an important role in insect and pest management, as pollinators and as seed-dispersers. Calling them hideous is inaccurate and subjective at best. 

It is humans’ inability to respect bats, and nature in general, that led to the coronavirus becoming a human bane. Leave the bats alone.

Arina van Breda, Alexandria

Insightfully citing ‘sight’

I could not believe my eyes! The first clue in the April 21 Jumble was “Desert site,” and the letters provided allowed for no answer but “mirage.” Given that a mirage is an optical illusion without a specific actual location, shouldn’t the clue have read “Desert sight”? “Sight” as in seen rather than “site” as in place.

Joan Hartman Moore, Alexandria

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