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kids as cops: Actors get into their roles in a 2008 Nibley Children's Theatre production of Pirates of Penzance. Click Arts&Life index for a link to this unusual theater group. / Photo courtesy of Bonnie Schenk-Darrington

Today's word on journalism

February 17, 2009

Why I miss my hate mail:

"It's an odd thing to admit, but in a perverse sort of way, I actually miss the wretched river, the rancid flow of puerile, nasty, sickeningly homophobic email I used to receive on a regular basis from the ultra-right and the Christian right and the Mormon right and the Bush-impaired whenever I would post a friendly, pointed column full of tangy liberal attitude. . . . . Oh, I miss all the lovely and positive email too, which outpaced the nasty stuff by a huge margin. But the hate mail was very special indeed, great fodder for live readings, for the reaction of horrified disbelief of anyone who saw it, for the charming reminder of just how ugly and violent and grammatically challenged the human animal can be."

--Mark Morford, columnist, (2/13/09)

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Crowd-loving Uma Thurman makes a new fan at Sundance

HAVE A RED ONE: Uma Thurman hands out balloons at Sundance. / Photo courtesy of Matt Thurber

By Ben Hansen, special contributor

January 23, 2009 | Every now and then, you meet someone who changes your day. Up until Monday, I appreciated Uma Thurman in her movies -- watching her deal out vengeance in the Kill Bill movies and playing a perfect Mrs. Mia Wallace in Pulp Fiction. Now, I can honestly say I'm a fan.

Wednesday night, I was able to go to the premiere of the Motherhood movie. While standing in the press line, waiting for actors to make a quick entrance for photos and duck into the film, I saw a surge of flashes shooting off outside, and saw a bundle of red balloons emerging from the lightning effect outside.

Enter Uma Thurman, dressed to kill, excited for the movie and with a massive bundle of red balloons strung around her wrists. Uma not only poised for pictures, she walked back and forth in the photo line, giving out balloons and smiles and carrying on a conversation with anyone who wanted the opportunity to talk to her. She stayed in the red carpet area for several minutes, until the show crew finally pulled her to enter the building.

While sitting in my seat in the theater balcony, I was again surprised to see Uma -- this time entering the theater, and stopping to sign autographs for anyone who asked her. Again, she was loyal to her fan base, and seemed thrilled to be a part of the event. And again, the show crew pulled her away and took her to her seat. Once seated, Uma was turning around, acknowledging all fans present and conversing with those who were close enough in proximity to speak with her.

Uma's role in Motherhood wasn't as action packed as the defining roles that I had seen her perform in the past. Regardless, she again was brilliant in her lead role as Eliza Welch, a mother dealing with everyday nuances that seem to intensify at a moment's notice while trying to fight the constant battle between nurturing and having an identity of her own. The audience in the theater was completely enthralled in the show, justifying that director Katherine Dieckmann had made the perfect choice for the role.

After the movie, the cast and crew celebration party at the St. Ives Sensory Spa and Gallery was slammed. Uma, along with fellow Motherhood stars Minnie Driver, Anthony Edwards and Jodie Foster were all in attendance, and stayed the length of the event, each taking time to socialize with their fans and friends alike. Minnie Driver played a musical set, but again it seemed that the evening belonged to Uma. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity of sharing a minute of her time, and found her to be everything a fan hopes for in meeting an idol -- outgoing, humble, and friendly.

In the age of me-first mentality celebrities, it is incredibly refreshing to get to see a celebrity who is devoted to and excited to have the opportunity to spend time with her fans. I now have my Kill Bill DVD back up on my shelf, complete with a personalized autograph offered to me by Uma. She is the true definition of a star, both on and off the screen.


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