Joke’s on You

To the Editor:

While I have to admit to laughing uncontrollably during a few sequences in Borat, I share some of Andrew Sarris’ concern [“Comedy, in Theory: The Good, Bad and Pitiable,” At the Movies, Nov. 20] that the film relies heavily on cheap shots and the willingness of some people to make fools of themselves in order to be in a movie. (Although I don’t think that makes them any less foolish.)

That said, I can only assume that Mr. Sarris’ suggestion that Borat creator and star Sacha Baron Cohen’s physical stature makes him intimidating to people of “normal” height was intended as a sly skewering of the film’s bald use of stereotypes. I’m sure his claim that “He might hit you,” with its absurd implication that tall people are somehow more prone to violence than people of average height, is meant as what he calls a “double joke”—poking fun at what I’m guessing is Mr. Sarris’ own diminutive size as well as the ability of intellectuals to blithely criticize others for political incorrectness, while unwittingly indulging their own prejudices.

Andrew Hindes

Los Angeles

The Pattie Dunn I Know

To the Editor:

Re Nicholas von Hoffman’s article “Try a Little Sympathy for H.P.’s Patricia Dunn” [The National Observer, Nov. 13]: There hasn’t been a single article on Patricia Dunn that accurately describes her as I know her.

She is very happily married to my cousin, Bill Jahnke, and I have known her for 25 years.

I’ve had the very good fortune to have some remarkable people in my life, but there is no one I admire more than Pattie. She is the most courageous and noble person I know. She has such a beautiful intelligence that whenever I am with her, I feel enriched.

One time, before leaving California, I tried to make a date with her for lunch, and the only free time she had was while she was having chemotherapy. So that’s where our visit took place: in a room where she and four other people were having chemicals dripped into their veins. Through the years, we have given each other books and music. That day, I gave her Lorraine Hunt Lieberson’s Handel CD. I wanted her to have it because I felt that she and Lorraine were kindred spirits. They both had such a fierce beauty, and both were dearly loved by all who knew them. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Lorraine was also fighting cancer. Sadly, she died last July.

My greatest concern for Pattie is that I don’t see how she can focus with ease on her health with this outrageous indictment looming over her.

I am no expert on corporate governance, but I do know Pattie’s character, and there is a good reason why she was willing to testify before Congress while others exercised their Fifth Amendment rights: She is not the one who broke the law, if a law was broken.

She has never sought the limelight, and she has always treasured the great love of family and friends. I consider myself truly lucky to be part of her life.

By the way, Pattie’s mother wasn’t a “showgirl”: She lived in Las Vegas and did some modeling. After this mistake appeared in print, every story that followed kept the error alive. It’s a metaphor for the misperception of what is really true about Pattie.

Andrea Way

Washington, D.C.