A reader points out the connection between the sunny government employee and the sun-colored sponge, plus more letters from the week of Feb. 25, 2011

By EW Staff
Updated February 25, 2011 at 05:00 AM EST

Responding to our Parks and Recreation cover story, reader LuAnne Feik of Kenosha, Wis., commented that Parks‘ Leslie (Amy Poehler) has ”learned a lot from daytime’s SpongeBob SquarePants.” We investigate the connection between the ever-sunny government employee and the sun-colored sponge.

Leslie Knope Outlook:
Leslie’s eager-beaver expression and readiness to fly in the face of ? failure prove she’s an eternal optimist.
Spongebob Squarepants Outlook:
SpongeBob’s perpetual grin and ?I’m ready” mantra prove you can be a sunny optimist even at the bottom of the sea.

Leslie Knope Job Satisfaction:
Her job pushing paper in the Pawnee parks department is pretty thankless, but she loves it anyway.
Spongebob Squarepants Job Satisfaction:
His job frying Krabby Patties at the Krusty Krab restaurant is most definitely thankless, but he loves it anyway.

Leslie Knope Employer:
Her boss, Ron Swanson, can often be quite crabby.
Spongebob Squarepants Employer:
His boss, Mr. Krabs, ? can often be, quite literally, crabby.

Leslie Knope Hue:
Leslie has bright yellow hair.
Spongebob Squarepants Hue:
SpongeBob has bright yellow everything.

Shadyac’s Travels
It was inspiring to read about Tom Shadyac‘s journey toward realizing life’s true meaning — and by placing his story in the same issue as the feature on Charlie Sheen, you clearly presented the polar opposites of Tinseltown.
Steve Raap

Rome, Wis.

Oh, for Pete’s sake, so another man has a midlife crisis. What do you expect when you think Hollywood is reality?! I could have told Tom Shadyac that humankind has not ”lost its spiritual compass.” I am reassured every day at my public elementary school, where women and men save young lives. I am glad Mr. Shadyac has been able to scale back and find a peaceful way of living, but honestly, there are so many brave people out there with a lot more responsibilities whom I’d also like to read about.
Patsy Munden

Making His Mark
Thank you for spotlighting writer Mark Richard (Books). Those of us who have read his books (his second short-story collection, Charity, is brutally beautiful) and taken classes from him already know how special he truly is, but it’s great to see Richard, mostly known as a Southern writer, finally get this widespread acclaim.
Rob Williams
San Diego

Wild at Heart
I totally agree with Chris Nashawaty’s observations about Nicolas Cage (DVD). I had the same thoughts two weeks ago while watching him in Valley Girl — his first leading role — for the 30th time. You can’t watch that movie without falling in love with him: His acting is so natural and sublime, and you can’t take your eyes off him. He was the classic outsider leading man…and I’d love to see him in a role like that again.
Ann Alberico
Lincoln, Neb.

Old Frontier
The proverbial ”Wild West episode” is the death knell of any television series (First Look). From Star Trek to Northern Exposure, this old gimmick points to the sad fact that the writers have run out of ideas and the show is headed for mothballs. Say adios to House.
Gene Goes