Letters: Gonzales, Pixar, Duchamp's Art

Michele Norris and Melissa Block read from listeners' e-mails and letters. Topics include comments on Michele's interview with Attorney General Gonzales, a report on the Disney-Pixar deal, and a story on Marcel Duchamp's artwork.

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

Today is Thursday and it's time to read from your emails.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

We received many, many responses to my interview with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The attorney general and I discussed the NSA's domestic surveillance program.

BLOCK: Much of the mail sent was in praise of Michele's interview. William Manat (ph) of Mount Vernon, Washington, sent this note.

NORRIS: He writes, you ask the hard questions all journalists should ask government officials regardless of party. Her comments and follow-up questions demonstrated an intelligent and insightful understating of the issues related to the Bush administration surveillance policy and, as a consequence, exposed its flaws and weaknesses. This is why I listen to NPR.

BLOCK: And Kathy Elbrow (ph) of Omaha, Nebraska added this: Michele was very persistent in framing the problem using specific concerns about he program's legality, it's scope and reasonableness, and Congressional oversight. I was pleasantly surprised by the frankness with which Attorney General Gonzales answered your questions. Because of the civility and intelligence displayed in both the questions and the answers, I realize that my concerns about the program are grounded in my head, not just my gut. Thank you for being so well prepared and consistent.

NORRIS: But not all our listeners felt so satisfied. Charles Landry (ph) of Old Saybrook, Connecticut was disappointed. He writes, the interview was symptomatic of NPR reporters' seeming incapability to demand straight answers. I highly admire Michele Norris's years of fine work but it sounded as if she were practically patting Gonzales on the arm as he refused to give anything close to a straight answer.

BLOCK: Richard Madrid (ph) of Denver, Colorado would like to make an addition to our story yesterday about the urinal that Marcel Duchamp called a sculpture, titled Fountain. It was damaged by a vandal with a hammer. Mr. Madrid writes, I was surprised to hear that the biographer you interviewed did not mention Duchamp's love of chance. It is not clear if Duchamp advocated vandalism, per se, but it is well known that he openly welcomed chance accidents that have happened to some of his well-known pieces, such as The Large Glass. The Large Glass was made of plate glass that was cracked during shipment and Duchamp famously left it that way.

NORRIS: Finally, we reported on the Walt Disney Company's purchase of Pixar. Our reporter, Kim Masters, observed that Pixar has had a string of successes with its computer animated films like TOY STORY and FINDING NEMO. Disney's recent animated films, computer and hand-drawn, have done poorly at the box office. Here's what Owen Matthews (ph) of Atlanta, Georgia had to say.

BLOCK: He writes, Pixar owes its success just as much to its story development as it does to its animation technology. I own all of Pixar's DVDs because they are such wonderful stories featuring unique and well-developed characters. I own no recent Disney releases because, as polished and beautiful as they can be, I tire of the storylines and characters. There's archetype and then there's formula and Disney has confused the two and found themselves holding thin shells with very little substance.

NORRIS: We want to know what you think about our substance and style. Write to us. To send and email go to our website, NPR.org, and click on the contact us button at the top of the page.

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