THREE CHEERS FOR PETER CARLSON'S "Who Put the Sunshine in the Sunshine Scent?" {December 16}. As our society becomes increasingly artificially flavored and artificially colored, the general public grows all the more numb to and accepting of fake food, bogus claims and culinary mediocrity. Enlightening essays like Carlson's are a step in the right direction. JACK CASEY Fairfax

I FOUND MYSELF LAUGHING AT SOME OF the observations in Peter Carlson's article. However, I realized when I had finished reading that the poor consumer is finally responsible for all those absurd expenses.

Re detergent: How much does it cost to produce, sans the advertising, name decision and other overheads? The cost of living continues to rise, and when such expenses are added to a product, I find the whole setup quite disturbing. IRIS J. GIBSON Keymar, Md.


I'LL ACCEPT RICHARD COHEN'S QUOTE Police as a force for good in this world {Critic at Large, December 16} if I can have Apostrophe Police in my dictatorship.

Plurals with apostrophes, or possessives and contractions without them, are right up there next to misused quotation marks in newspaper ads, hand-lettered signs and, God help us, commercial signs and posters as far as the eye can see. No one seems to quite understand the difference between "their" and "they're," and after seeing "Ricks Tattoo's" and "Athen's Deli" in one day, I had to add my lament to Mr. Cohen's plaint.

If anyone wants to know how pathetically low the standard of literacy has fallen, look no further than the signs of the times. KAREN E. MURRAY Leesburg

IN THEIR QUEST TO RID THE WORLD OF reckless quotation marks, I have a solid lead for Richard Cohen's Quote Police. These most reckless wielders of quote marks flaunt their culpability openly, inflicting one wanton attribution after another on the public with no apparent sense of shame.

I'm referring, of course, to the creators of such timeless homilies as "Shirts and Shoes Required," "Sorry, No Checks" and, my perennial favorite, "Please excuse our appearance," to which I would glady reply -- if ever they dared show their faces -- "I will if you will." J.D. KLEINKE Cooksville, Md.

BRAVO TO RICHARD COHEN FOR ADVOcating a Quote Police. I have frequently wondered why if airports are so safe, are they called terminals? And if you choose to visit one of these terminals, you have probably seen those signs on the parkway that read "Caution: Watch for Falling Rocks." While I have given that warning a great deal of thought, I have absolutely no clue as to what precautions I should take -- with the possible exception of closing my sun roof.

The Quote Police is a great idea. The creation would actually make one of America's famous quotes ring true: "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you." MARY RASMUSSEN Vienna

"BLESS YOU," I SAY TO RICHARD COHEN for his, quote: "Read This Column."

Even here, in beautiful upscale Charlottesville, such indignities as "Old Fashion Meat Loaf" are rampant. And even University of Virginia professors go about coyly curling their fingers close to both ears to show how with-it they are.

Isn't our foreign policy sufficiently stomach-turning? BARBARA RICH Charlottesville

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