Saturday, December 31, 2005

Ramblings for the Evening (New Year's Ed)

So here I sit at my computer with 2006 having started in New York and ten minutes before the calendar changes here in the Twin Cities.
Oh, I know, dear reader, you're wondering, "Leab! What the hell are you doing on the computer?! There are New Year's parties aplenty you could be at right now. What's the deal?"
Well, here's the real deal: My wife and I were supposed to go to a party tonight. First, however, we had a hockey game to attend (the Wild beat the Canucks 4-3 in a thriller). We got home and started to get changed to make our way to the party. As we started to leave, she started not feeling well. Once in the car, I knew we weren't going anywhere. As I write this, she is currently on the couch next to me passed out. I tried to get her to go to bed, but she wants to be with me when the clock rolls over. She wants to see the ball drop in real time. I might wake her up. I don't know.
So, how about I ramble on and see if anyone besides my two devoted readers peruse this?
Without further ado: GOULET!
Teachers Are ALWAYS on Call:
As I said, Mrs. Leab and I were at the Wild game tonight. During the first intermission, we started talking about the upcoming semester at the high school. The woman on my right turns and says, "Are you a teacher?"
"Yes," I reply. "I teach high school English. I'm the guy who every student hates by graduation."
"Oh, my daughter is in high school."
"So is mine," says the guy behind me.
"My son is at Central," The woman next to my wife says.
"We all go to Cretin," One of the guys in front me says.
I'm trapped, but it gets worse. One little question by the woman next to me gets an ugly ball rolling and leaves me talking in four directions for the rest of the night.
"My daughter here is a junior. She's trying to find a good journalism school. What do you recommend?"
After recommending a few far away from Minnesota (and a few closer for mom's sake), every single one of the people around me started asking me questions.
"How important is class rank?"
"Do they REALLY look at ACT scores?"

"Is the new ACT hard?"
I talked to these people, students and parents alike, for two more periods. That's about an hour and twenty minutes.
By the time the game was over, I was starting to get hoarse.
My wife, was even less thrilled than I was. "You need to start telling people you can't talk about it."
For me, the only issue is I am still on vacation, and I felt like I was teaching. I started to feel amped up. When I got home I had to take a few minutes to unwind myself (though I return to the building in a couple of days).
A couple of things amazed me about this:
1. There were many people freaking about the whole getting in to college process.
2. These people hung on my every word as if it were water in the desert. I can't get them into college, and many people would disagree with my assessments of the testing, what colleges are looking for, and so forth.
3. Mostly, however, I was just kind of pissed that I had no way to excuse myself. When I went to the bathroom to get away, one of the guys from Cretin followed me and kept talking to me. I almost peed on his shoe to make him shut up.
If you're a student and reading this, here's the best advice. It's hard, but you must follow it:
RELAX. Take a deep breath and relax. The whole college process seems difficult when you look at it, but it's really quite simple. Don't work yourself up into a lather. Relax.
Christmas with the In-Laws:
I am a patient man. A very patient man. My in-laws are good people, but they attempted to cram Christmas down my throat this year.
Before I left for Missouri, my wife told her parents I was not in the Holiday mood this year. "He says he isn't feeling it. It's weird."
From the moment I stepped into their house, Christmas was everywhere, and I do mean EVERYWHERE. The toilet, the toilet paper, the room I slept in, the fact that several of the African animals my father-in-law had mounted were wearing Santa hats. Oy vey!
While the gifts were great (I was given certificates to various places, a nice sweater, a hockey jersey, and a few movies), the fact I wasn't in the spirit was never far from my in-laws' minds. "Perhaps watching A Christmas Carol will put you in the mood."
Didn't work.
I did smile a great deal when my wife opened her present from me. Because her work is so stressful, I got her a full day at Litespa. She's never had a spa day, not even on her wedding day.
However, the highlight of my time there had to be how my mother-in-law and my brother-in-law both inadvertantly insulted me.
Christmas Day. I'm sitting at my wife's aunt's dinner table next to my mother-in-law. Mrs. Leab's aunt is lamenting her daughter's choice of boyfriends (the 18 year old is currently dating a 25 year old fry-cook having just dumped a 32 year old).
"I don't understand why she dates them," the aunt says.
"Well," says my mother-in-law," they're never with the ones you want them to be with."
A moment passes as everyone turns and stares at me. It takes a full five seconds (I counted) for my m-o-l to figure out what she said.
As everyone continues to stare at me, I finally say (in a joking manner), "'s tough when your only daughter marries the son of a dirty, dirty Jew. Sheesh."
I didn't let that one go for a full day. She would question my politics or beliefs or whatever, and I would respond with a comment about her daughter's taste in men. Awesome.
My brother-in-law, however, made it quite clear his sister was with me only because of money.
"Women only want one thing: money. Isn't that why you (my wife) married him (that would be me)?"
Stunned silence follows.
Don't get me wrong, it was a nice time down there, but it seems like everytime I see them now, my in-laws feel their daughter made a mistake. They hate that I'm not a practicing Christian, they hate that I'm not an Evangelical Republican (there was a FUN argument between my wife and her parents about Intelligent Design that ended with, "your husband has been brainwashing you again."). I like them, but I just wish we could talk about the world without it turning into either God, Bush, or Furher.
Is that too much to ask.
It's getting closer to the ole ball dropping, so let's finish....
Well Wishing:
I hope that you all have a better 2006 than 2005. Even if 2005 was a great year for you, I hope that 2006 will be even better.
To my wife, for everyone to recognize how great you are, like I do.
To my parents, some rest.
To my sisters, for life to bring you your just rewards.
To Greta, I'm sorry to hear about your employment situation. So I hope they regret it.
To Emma, this change in your views on life is...refreshing. May it continue.
To Laura, no more goyum.
To the students at HP, a better second semester and good times.
To my readers, long life and strong eyes.
To DeRusha, for Seth to enjoy year two.
To Michele, Meridita, Worm, Everyone at MN Speak, for you to be recognized for the geniuses you truly are.
Here's to you.
Happy New Year.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Slander a la Leab (12/30/05)

Wow, I got a really nasty email, because I didn't post a piece of slander yesterday. Sheesh.
You have to love the snow. I went out at 7:30 this morning to shovel. Did my entire driveway (both sides), the walkway, and the had to redo the end of the driveway when the plow driver slammed into the curb and dumped a BUNCH of snow blocking any chance for me to leave without reshoveling.
Then, when all was done, my neighbors came out, looked around and said, " didn't do our path."
Before we start, I have to give a huge thank you/what are you thinking?/holy cow to
Jason DeRusha. In a recent interview, DeRusha named Ironic Teachings as one of the blogs that he reads. I am unworthy. Thanks, I've a had a few people come through here (for an average of 4 seconds) because of that interview. Thanks for the plug.
Ok, so still recovering from the Holiday, but I know people want their slander.
So: Let's get to the SLANDERAMA!
Don "Dondy" Shelby frightens co-workers:

Local news anchor and Minnesota personality Don Shelby has undergone some radical changes according to WCCO co-workers. Shelby, who had been a rather private person until recently, started hanging out with Sean "Diddy" Combs and even hosted a party with the rap mogul at the "Throwdown in Downtown".
"I don't know what it is," Terri Gruca remarked. "It's like that old episode of The Flinstones. Fred hits his head and suddenly thinks he's a race car driver. Don seems to be the same way. He slips on the ice outside the building, and suddenly he's 'player' in the rap world. It's weird."
Other members thought Shelby had been brainwashed. "After all," Paul Douglas explained, "We are right next to the Church of Scientology."
A spokesman for the church said Mr. Shelby had never been in the building.
Regardless of the reason, the straight arrow (and sometimes described as "overly anal retentive") anchor has let go.
After hosting what the City Pages is calling the "Best Party of 2005," Dondy, as he wants to be known, started acting strange around his co-workers.
"I think," Jason DeRusha, the man on the street reporter for WCCO, said, "he's been listening to too much of R. Kelly's
Trapped in The Closet in his office."
Co-workers first noticed Shelby's love of the urban opera when he started rhythmically talking about what it was he was doing.
"I was sitting at my desk," DeRusha recalled. "Suddenly Mr. Shelby comes over. You have to understand, unless he tells you it's all right, you HAVE to call him Mr. Shelby. Ben [Tracy] called him 'Don', and Mr. Shelby turned on him, stared him down, and then whispered something that made Ben cry. I'm no idiot, I'll call him Mr. Shelby until he says it's ok."
When asked about calling him "Don" on the air, DeRusha had the expected answer: "We're the media. We HAVE to look like we're chummy. Let me finish my story. So, Mr. Shelby comes over to my desk and places some paper there. As he puts it down, I hear him singing, 'I walked over to DeRusha's desk, and I put the paper down. He looks up at me, I try to smile back.' Then as he walked off, he started singing about that."
The problem came to a head at a 9:30 rehearsal for that night's news. Dondy started reading the news, then singing about the fact that he was reading the news.
"...and those two kids were ok. (Singing) I read the story about the two kids in the fire."
When fellow evening anchor Amelia Santaniello felt she had seen enough, she called Shelby on it.
"Don, what the fuck are you doing?"
Shelby didn't like Amelia's approach. He pulled a gun, pointed it at her, and started singing, "The crazy bitch next to me started acting up. So I pulled my gun out and told her to 'shut the fuck up.' Then I waited for a response, but she just stared at me. So I got up and left."
It is unclear at this point what will be done to help Mr. Shelby, but insiders have hinted that he will be undergoing Steely Dan Therapy.
News and Notes:
-Feeling pressure after his draw with Rex Sorgatz, Garrison Keillor has decided not to
move his show. Insiders have commented Keillor feels that leaving would show that Sorgatz really won the fight.
-Chris Conangla's contract with UPN29 will expire in three days, and both sides are having trouble agreeing on stipulations. Conangla has asked for a hooker to be present under his desk at all times, "In case I get an itch...or something." The station has commented that they didn't give in to Jordanna's wish for a Swedish man servant, they won't give into Conangla.
-The entire Minnesota Twins organization is trying to figure out how to get more money for next season now that ex-Twin Jeff Reardon's crime career has been cut short. "We're going to have to field a bunch of AA guys. Jeff was our ticket to Mike Piazza."

That's it for today's edition. Hope it tides you over until next week.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

4,134 Words

I am really tired. Back from seeing the in-laws. When my mind stops hurting, I'll write about it. So, because I am out of it, I present four pictures to tide you over.

I took this at the Missouri Botannical Garden. This is how I feel right now.

My wife. She has such piercing eyes I find beautiful. Then again, this is her pissed at me.

There's something about water in motion. When you capture the peak of a fountain, there's something alive about it.

This picture always makes me smile. It's my father. The week of my graduation from college, my wife and I took my parents to the St. Louis Zoo. To me, this is the quintessential representation of my father. A man with a balloon.

Happy Birthday, Lori.

I'm out.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Off to See the In-Laws...

The wonderful in-laws of Missouri.
Because, because, because....
Well, because I love my wife.

I'm out, ladies and gentlemen.
I will be in Missouri for an undisclosed amount of time. Undisclosed because my wife and I cannot agree on how long we should stay.

So, like my duck friend here, I will say goodbye.

Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and may all your days be healthy, wealthy, and fun.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Strange Things

I get really odd stuff sent to me by people I know.

First of all there's this:
Chewbacca singing Silent Night.
At first, you find yourself saying, "What the bloody hell?"
However, a few minutes into it, you might find yourself laughing. It's incredibly odd, but kinda catchy. I ended up wondering what it would sound like to "Living La Vida Loca".

Then there's this:

What can you say about this?
"Don't Hassel the Hoff?"
Does that mean I need a shirt that says, "Don't Le the Ab?"
Ok in all seriousness, it is kind of an odd shirt.

I think that'll do it for now. Enjoy the "Hoff" and Chewy. Don't forget the Backwards Jingle Bells either.

Slander a la Leab (12/22/05)

I've been getting mail about the Sorgatz/Keillor fight almost everyday since Saturday.
"Who won?" has been the most popular question.
Well, I'll do my best to answer.
Will everyone be happy? No. You can't please everyone, folks.
So, let's get to tonight's SLANDERAMA!

Disappointing End to "Fight of the Century":
Saturday night's "Throwdown in Downtown" had a dismal finish according to the fans.
"I feel ripped off," news anchor Julie Nelson told I.T. "I wanted blood. I didn't get it. This is worse than when I got Crabs...uh, can you leave that last part out?"
Celebrity bad boy Colin Farrell had another take on it.
"These fans were shown something that was worse than my last film...and that was bad."
What were they complaining about? Well, the fight had to be called in the third round when the celebrity known as Fan Man (pictured right) crashed into the ring disrupting what was, up to that point, a very exciting boxing match.
In the first round, Keillor came out like a rabid wolverine. "I was very proud of him," Eric Perkins said. "He had a game plan, and he stuck to it.
Keillor took the offensive right away. "It was incredible," commentator Max Kellerman said. "Keillor looks like the freakin' Mummy, but he came out swinging."
Sorgatz was not prepared for this. "You could see it in his eyes," Kellerman added. "Rex may be a fierce warrior, but he was not expecting Keillor to START on the offensive."
30 seconds into the first round, Keillor, who was laying on a barrage of body blows, hit a right cross on Sorgatz's face. The Titanium Typist wasn't expecting this, and he went down for the first (and only time) of the night.
"It was tasteless for Keillor to dance like that," Sorgatz's cornerwoman Margaret Andrews said.
"He knocks him down once, and Garrison dances like Michael Flatley? Tasteless."
Sorgatz would get up quickly and, after a quick check by referee Mills Lane, would take the fight back to Keillor. The two spent the rest of the round dancing around each other and landing the occasional jab. As the bell rung, the Battler swung around hard, but Sorgatz ducked. The blow clocked Lane knocking him down.
"That may have been my favorite part," local boy made good Josh Hartnett mused. That and when Diddy invited us (Hartnett brought his "friend" Scarlett Johansson) to his and Shelby's party. It was dope."
Lane would be fine, but a longer break would be needed between rounds 1 and 2 in order for Lane to have a cut on his eye stitched.
Round 2 saw a complete change in the fighter's demeanors. Keillor, obviously upset over hitting Lane, was timid. Sorgatz, on the other hand, came out like a raging bull.
Sources say the change in Sorgatz came from something Andrews told him during the break.
"I'm not repeating it," she said. "All I know is, it helped."
Sorgatz took the second round easily, even cutting Keillor above his nose. The fans roared with approval at the blood.
"That's what I came her for," shouted Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper. "Keep that shit rolling!"
As the bell rung to end round 2, The Typist knew he had won the round. He lifted his arms and shouted to the crowd, "This is what you want! Show me the love!"
Andrews quickly corralled him into the corner and shut him up.
As round 3 started, all three comentators agreed: The fight was even at a round a piece. However, that would be the end of it. Sorgatz started dancing like Muhammad Ali did Foreman in Zaire. He stayed away from Keillor. It was as Sorgatz reached the fourth post that Fan Man crashed into the ring, knocking over a camera man, and getting stuck in the ropes.
"I was furious," Don King explained after the fight. "That man ruined one of the best fights I had ever put together."
According to International Boxing Federation (IBF) rules, any outside interference will cause the fight to be called a draw.
That's exactly what happened. Both men were disappointed.
"This isn't over," Keillor told the press afterwords. "We'll do this again. I will show him that I am the Sid Vicious of boxing."
"What the hell does that mean?" Sorgatz responded upon hearing Keillor's statement. "Sid Vicious? Ok then. Will I fight him again? Yeah. I had just opened up a can of whoop ass on him, and both Margaret and I were convinced he'd be KO'd by round five."
King was pleased to hear that both men were willing to fight again.
"Oh it will be grand. I don't know if it will be here in Minnesota, but I would love to see these two go again. Maybe at the Quest. People seem to like to fight over there. Only in America!"
Fans, upset by the rule, booed when told the fight was a draw.
"I paid $4,000 for ringside seats and a hooker," Chris Conangla complained. "I better get free seats to the next fight...or a free hooker."
Organizers have already said Fan Man will be banned from the arena for the next fight.
When asked when the next fight would be, King said, "Well, how does an April fight sound? Shouldn't be any snow then, right?"
Obviously Mr. King doesn't know Minnesota very well.
Both boxer's parties had no comment about an April fight.
There was action outside the ring as well.
-After the fight, Colin Farrell gave his phone number to Andrews and told her, "Darling. I like what I see. You could probably make me go fifteen rounds. Call me."
When asked if she would, Andrews said, "I have no clue what the hell that man just said, but no comment."
-Mike Tice was a notable absence. He apparently scalped his tickets.
-Diddy and Don Shelby's (or as Diddy called him, "Dondy") party was a huge success. Prince, Gwen Stefani, Governor Pawlenty (who apparently got freaky with the first lady of Minnesota in front of everyone), and other celebrities partied HARD in one of the suites. Jason DeRusha, a favorite of Mr. Shelby's, was allowed in to the party.
"Don was dancing on a table wearing no pants and slinging Tequila around like it was water in the desert."
When asked if he did anything crazy or wild, DeRusha responded. "I'm a member of the MSM (Mainstream Media). I have no comment."
However, Winona Ryder told I.T., "If he (DeRusha) weren't married, I'd be all over him."
-The Keillor post fight party took place at Jitters and included poetry readings.
-The Sorgatz post fight party took place at Drink. Sources say the entire crew was there until 3 as the owners were afraid to ask them to leave.
-And, in a stunning revelation, local gossip columnist CJ was shut out of the Diddy/Dondy party and is now calling the two men sexist AND racist. "There were no black women in there!"
However, a check of the guest list found two things:
1. There were several women of color in the party
2. There was a note from Diddy next to CJ's name. It read Do not let that crazy bitch in. She's always up in my grill. She's worse than J. Lo.
-The undercard for the fight featured a debate between Jon Stewart and Bill O'Reilly about the War on Christmas (the crowd decided to boo O'Reilly out of the building). The other scheduled match between Ann Coulter and Bill Maher was canceled when the two decided to just go off and screw each other. No one cared.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Graceful Dismissal

When I was a sophomore in college, I started working with dancers. Having put my foot in my mouth talking to a director, I was "banished" to working with the dance program.
At Washington Univeristy in St. Louis, working for the Dance department was considered a punishment for the tech people. There were three faculty members and two to three guest choreographers. That meant five to six people were trying to work together (the key word is trying) to plan a show. More often then not, they would disagree, fight, stop talking to each other, then have a tearful reconciliation. Not as good as a soap opera, but pretty close.
The head of the tech department, Rick, used to say, "Leab, this is like a CEO being banished to the mail room. You'll go nuts." Then he'd laugh and start hitting on the Asian students....Bastard.
Anyway, knowing that I would be THE tech guy for the dance department, I started hanging out with the dancers to get a feel for the personalities. There were three kinds at the school: Jazz, Modern, and Ballet. Each kind has its pros and cons.
The Jazz dancers were always the kindest to the tech people, but they were always keyed WAY up. During one rehearsal, a girl lost count. The choreographer flipped out, which led to the girl flipping out. And who got blamed? The tech guy working on the lights for "distracting" the dancers.
The Modern dancers are very professional, but they are also the wildest bunch. I worked with the company
Momix when they visited St. Louis. A beautiful modern dance company that does incredibly different pieces.
As a member of the running crew, I was flashed ALOT. During one performance, one of the dancers asked me to "hold her breasts" for a picture. When you don't know someone, it's an odd question to be asked.
"Hi, nice to meet you. I'm Nicole. Will you hold my breasts for a picture?"
Then again another company uses a Slip 'n' Slide and each member slides across the stage
naked. You gotta love dance.
However, the third kind of dancer is the hardest to work with if you aren't prepared. These would be the Ballet dancers.
If you are not prepared for ballerinas, you can be eaten alive. To be a prima ballerina, you have to have the ego to go with the talent. If you are good enough to be a professional ballet dancer, then you have a very good reason to be egotistical. Dancing on point is incredibly hard. Try it. The boxes can destroy your toes. Ask anyone who's ever done Ballet. They can tell you the pain.
In the Wash. U. program, the Ballet dancers are both incredibly graceful and frustrating. It was amazing to me at the time. I was unprepared for the hell that I would experience.
I was always the guy tapped for student productions. Well, one girl decided she was going to do a balanchine piece for her fiance to a Sarah Mclachlan song. Every moment of her piece was agony for me. For the other students, average tech was 30 minutes. I see the piece, I then program the light board, and we talk about how to change it to fit what they're thinking. Not the ballerina.
90 minutes. 90 MINUTES! Every step was programmed. The other dancers had four cues. Lights up, 2 changes, and out. She had (for a 4 minute piece) eleven. That's hard. Almost 3 per minute. Being a perfectionist, which most Ballet dancers are, she noticed everything. If I was a second early or late, she would stop, walk over, and talk to me like a two year old.
"Do you NOT know how to run lights? Should I call someone to help you, because I can't afford for you to screw up my piece."
Again, most Ballet dancers are this way and, again, with good reason. They have hardcore skills.
Her piece went well, by the way. When an instructor informer her that her form was slightly off, she blamed it on the lights. You gotta love it.
Working with dancers (and dating one for a short time) taught me many things:

1. I gathered all of my incredible patience from working with dancers.
At the end of my three years of working with them, nothing fazed me. I did discover that the male choreographers were less forgiving than the females. I designed the lights for one guy, and when he saw them, he made me tweak every light until it was his vision instead of mine. I get that the piece is his, but it ended up being a starker look than I thought it should be.
When you work with dancers, you learn how to control your feelings the way they can control their bodies.

2. Dancers are graceful in almost all things.
Really professional dancers are graceful in the way they walk, and the way they either pick you up or dump you. Like I said, I dated a dancer for a short period. She was essentially slumming it to make her ex jealous, and I hadn't been with anyone since my Ex dumped me. It was nice to feel wanted (moving on). This girl first noticed me when I carried her off the stage and into the green room. After a particularly difficult piece, she collapsed on stage because of her ankle. I came down from the booth, picked her up and carried her all the way back the green room (I can't tell you how far it was as I never really checked it in four years). She was grateful and kind of shocked a guy would and could do that (I'm an old-fashioned idiot. Really). Though are relationship was brief, she was very graceful in picking me up (quoting Shakespeare on why we should date) and ending the relationship (using Sartre, of all people). When she was in full dance mode, I almost felt unworthy. Beauty and the Beast, as it were.

3. Dancers are always dancers.
Even if they stop doing it, a girl or guy who has been a professional dancer is ALWAYS a dancer. They won't admit it and sometimes they won't even feel it, but if you've worked with dancers for an extended period of time, you can spot it so easily. While in the Master's program at
St. Thomas, I had a class with this girl who I noticed moved so smoothly. At one point, she raised her hand up, and I noticed that the movement and the way she held her hand were not only graceful, but held in such a way that I knew she had been a ballerina. I asked her one night, "Were you a Ballet dancer per chance?"
"For eight years," She told me.

It's not just women either. Men who are or were dancers have a certain grace to their movement.
You can just see it. Dancers hold themselves in such a way that you can't miss it.
My wife and I went to a Minnesota Wild game last Monday. As I walked around the partition, I saw these ladies walking in a group. My "Dancer Alarm" went off immediately. (Instead of "Gayday", I get "Dancerdar". Sometimes helpful, alot of times...not.) These ladies were in sweat shirts and jeans, but I knew there was more to it. So, I stopped and asked, "Excuse me. This is going to sound weird, but are ladies dancers?"
Turned out they were members of the Rockettes and were there to do the "Let's Play Hockey" moment that night.
Like I said, once a dancer, always a dancer. The ego may leave, but the movement and gracefulness never does.

The reason I am so glad I worked with the dancers, however, is that after working with what could be the pinnacle of women, you are never afraid to talk to anyone ever again.
Imagine: you're a lowly tech guy and in front of you is an incredibly toned woman who is able to be beautiful no matter how she moves. It can be intimidating. You look at them and work to get your courage up. Finally, you approach these ladies.
"Excuse me, you are the most exquisite creature I have ever seen. The beauty of your movements reaches into my soul."
The response?
"Oh fuck off."
"Get out of my face."
It can break you.
At the end of three years, and after dating a dancer, you learn how to see through the facade, and you learn how to deal with anyone. Patience, humility, etc. You can learn it all by working with a dancer.
Hell, by Senior year I was so comfortable with the dance crowd that my running crew and I put on a show for them.
We did the entire show in five our work clothes. Let me tell you something: the fact that I can dance on point in steel-toed boots made me feel very good. Don't believe me? I've got the pictures to prove it. I did Ballet, Modern, and even Jazz in steel-toed boots, black jeans, and a black T-shirt. It was funny, but as one gal told me, "You've been around us too long. You're starting to be able to move like us."
"Does that mean you would maybe have dinner with me?"
"You don't move that well, Leab...but you're really sweet."
At least it was graceful.

Slleb Elgnij

This is an Evil Christmas Link.
A buddy of mine sent it to me and if you're not ready (say, at 7 in the morning) it can get to you.

My advice:
Don't wear headphones
Don't play it too loud.
Just follow the instructions.

(Uh, those with bad hearts need not apply. Those holding drinks, put them down.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Ramblings for the Evening (12/20/05)

Because I've been feeling so dry, I pulled out my cool mist humidifier to try and help me while I sleep.
It's not working. This morning I felt like I'd eaten 400 cotton balls. Oy vey.
Let's do it.
So without further ado: YAAAAANNNKEE SWAP!
When It Rains, It Pours...Then Floods:
I open a letter addressed to me today and receive "great" news.
It seems that my mortgage company...well, let me just quote:

"Dear Mr. Leab,
We are writing to let you know that a computer tape containing information about you and your mortgage account with [my mortgage company] has been lost while being transported by DHL courier (I'm leaving them named as they did the losing) service to a credit reporting company.
The tape, which included names, account information, payment history, and Social Security numbers of our residential mortgage customers...."

Now, I got a few problems here.
1. The letter goes on to explain the mortgage company will pay for 90 days of a credit monitoring service. When I see this, I really feel like the letter is B.S., and my company is trying to make money somehow. You sign up for 90 days, and if you forget to check out, you have to pay a full year. And gosh darn if the monitoring service isn't owned by the mortgage company....I don't know if it is, but I need to research.
2. If the letter isn't bogus, then both my mortgage company AND DHL are on my naughty list. How do you lose something so important? You would think with all of the identity theft out there and especially at THIS time of year, they would pay special attention and take care of things.
3. At one point in the letter (which was written by the company's chairman), they explain the tape was lost en route to a credit reporting company with which they were sharing information. When I chose this mortgage company, I made sure to ask about sharing and was told, "We never share our information." Yet, this letter proves they do. So they lied, or didn't know. That's not confidence-inspiring.

Merry Christmas, Mr. Leab. You just bought someone else a boat. It hasn't happened yet, but it might.
This is not the first time a major shipping company has screwed up with me or my family.
Brown is NOT the Color of Confidence:
My parents publish a book called American Book Prices Current. If you're a library or
antiquarian bookseller, you know this book or CD. It is (and I'm using a local bookseller's words here) "the holy bible of book pricing."
This book is essentially a major part of my life. Every year since I was five, I have somehow been involved in the getting this book out. This includes building boxes, packing books, contributing, selling it in one instance, and on and on. Every member of my family, even the dog (free tongue to lick stamps) at one point, worked on getting this book out.
However, there was one year where the book was late. Not because of writing issue or publishing issues. This would be the last year ABPC used United Parcel Services.
You see UPS would pack a truck full of our books (yeah, we sent out that many). One year, the driver didn't really pay attention to what he was doing. He didn't close the rear door of the truck properly. So he's driving through Connecticut, he hits a bump, and the back door of the truck pops open. Our books, go tumbling out all over the street.
Well, he didn't notice until his next stop, and he was unaware of how many books he had lost. Utterly afraid, he finished his route and THEN he called it in to HQ. Several hours had passed since the incident when he finally said something. Not good.
The books which had fallen out were found by some opportunistic men. One of them had heard of the book and knew that it was pricey (around $160 a book). So they took ALL of the books they found and held them for ransom. I'm SO not kidding.
They had a note and everything. We would pay, or the books would be destroyed!
Now, here's where we learn how stupid people can be. Now, this was in the early 90s (so pre-Caller ID), but these guys figured that the cops couldn't trace a phone number if there was a answering machine attached to it.
The cops trace the number and end up arresting these guys at a Mexican restaurant.
Back to the point. My parents decided to no longer use UPS for two reasons:
1. They lost books and didn't call it in for a long time.
2. They never really apologized for losing the books.
Plus, FedEx is cheaper, and they don't expect my retirement-aged parents to load the truck for them. Kind of makes things easier on the 'rents.
And finally:
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?:
I'm really not feeling it this year.
I know it saddens my wife, and I'm trying really hard to fake it around her, but I just don't feel the spirit of the Holidays this year.
We didn't decorate our house, because we won't be here, but it's more than that for me. With this whole "War on Christmas" B.S., the Holiday time feels dirty.
If I say Christmas, I'm a traitor to the part of me that's Jewish. If I say Holiday, I hate Christians. Sigh.
Beyond that, there's SO much greed. The other day Mrs. Leab and I went to Southdale Mall to the Apple store. I bought here an Ipod for her birthday. She's afraid that the little player will break with one drop, so we went to get her a protective case. Probably a good investment. Anyway, that mall was insane.
I grew up in New York where everything is always crowded. You never touch, but the bodies are there. I'm not claustrophobic or agoraphobic, but I hate being in malls. People can't walk,they stop in random place, and tempers ALWAYS run high.
The Apple store was no different. Here was the group of six adults who circled up and stood in the doorway blocking all traffic. Over here was the woman who ripped something (I couldn't see what it was) away from another woman screaming, "I grabbed it first!"
Then I watched a guy buy 4 60GB video Ipods. That's $1600 before tax. I almost threw up. I can't fathom spending that kind of money in one shot. I spent $100 on my wife's gift for the holiday this year, and I felt guilty. That's so much money.
I know that in the new millenium that $100 doesn't seem like much. Hell if you're a homeowner, $100 is your gas bill every month in the Winter.
I just feel like most of America has lost sight of the fact that people need alot of help around this time of year.
My buddy, Mark, spent the money he would have spent on his family buying supplies like pens, paper, etc. for soldiers in Iraq. My sisters and I all gave money to charity for each other for Christmas.
What shocked me was that my mailman hugged me today as I was the ONLY person on my block to give him anything (I'm not ashamed. I gave him a twenty and two tickets to a Wild game for him and his kid). When the MSM has to give guidelines about what to give, that says alot.
I gave money to my newspaper carrier, the trash guys, and gave wine to my neighbors.
A guy asked me for money for the bus today, and I gave him a ride to his destination instead. Was I taking a risk? Sure, but it was worth it. He didn't have to wait out in the cold, and he got to where he wanted.
Yet, for all that, I don't feel it.
It's not the various wars (Iraq, Christmas, etc.), but the indifference. It seems like everyone has forgotten the whole goodwill toward each other.
"Merry Christmas!"
"Fuck you!"
It's coming, just wait.

Sorry, I'm ranting again.
I'm also, according to my wife's co-workers, insane, because I finished ALL of my Holiday shopping on December 3rd. The guy who sits across from my wife is going out tomorrow to buy all of his Christmas gifts. Nothing like last minute.
Then again what do I know? I donated money to
Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network in my father-in-law's name. I could be wrong.

It's About Time (12/20/05)

(From IMDB News)

Theater Owners Want To Block Cell Phone Signals
The National Association of Theater Owners has asked the FCC for permission to block cell phone signals in theaters. NATO President
John Fithian said that the use of phones during movie presentations is one of the reasons for this year's slump in ticket sales. A Washington D.C-based cell phone lobby has already gone on record as opposing such a move on the grounds that it would prevent the use of a cell phone in case of an emergency.

I am so for this. Of course people will argue about the positives of (or negatives of losing) cellphones in theaters. How will it go?

"But what if we're taken hostage in the theater? How would we get help?"

Then why can't the manager call the police from his or her office? Plus, if you're taken hostage, the cops are gonna find out. Most hostage takers have a list of demands to be met. Also, why would they choose a movie theater?

"Ok, but what about a medical emergency? Heart attack or something?"

Well, most movie theaters now carry portable defibrillators (you know, the paddles). Those have been shown to help tremendously while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. You would have to go to the manager to get that anyway.

"Well, like, my friends and I, are like, supposed to, like, meet up. How are we to, like, do that if we can't, like, call each other."

Once upon a time, people would make plans to meet ahead of time. Then, they would designate an area (say, the front of the movie theater) and a time (how about ten minutes before showtime?). It was a wacky concept.
Look, you find a place to meet, and then you do it. You need to talk to someone? Go outside or in the lobby. That's the point. These owners want the signals blocked in the ACTUAL theaters. I don't want to listen to you complain about how Mr. McCoullough made you, shock of shocks, write a paper.
I also don't want to hear you and your friends text each other during the movie. What the hell is that? You want to be in the movie theater? Watch the movie. If you two want to talk about the movie or Mr. Mc, then wait until after it's over.

Here's the bottom line as I see it:
Yes, if there's an emergency, you will have to go to the manager, but the benefits outweigh the detractions.
No more ringing in theaters, no more obnoxious idiots answering their phones or texting, no more people trying to record parts of films using their cellphones (helps cut down on piracy. Got that theater owners?), and no more having to listen to stupid conversations from people speaking so loud the other theaters can hear them.
Do I think that cellphones could be part of the problem for a ticket sales' slump? Sure. So is disappointing movies, obnoxious patrons, cost, and a little bit of laziness. (I mean why go when it will be on TV or DVD in a few months?)
So, I'm all for blocking cell phone signals in movie theaters. The signal needs to work in the lobby, but once in the dark confines, no one should be on the phone.
I also think the same thing should be done on Broadway. Sure, it's fun to watch Kevin Spacey answer a person's phone and chew out the caller, but it would be easier not to have to deal with the ringing.
Maybe it's just me, but I think this is one tiny little step to making life better.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Mail Mondays (12/19/05)

Ok, so the blog is still here.
"It's a Christmas miracle, Martha."
No it's not.
"Then, it's a Holiday miracle...."
No. It's not.
I'm just too damn stubborn to walk away in under a year. Come April, I'll reasses.
Speaking of which, congratulations to all the bloggers celebrating their blogoversaries right now. Keep up the good work. (You know, you could probably put "blog" before anything and it would work....)

Mail-wise, I got alot this week. Most of it was anonymous comments, and some of it was ripping on my choices.
You want some mail? Huh? Do ya?
Too bad, you're getting it anyway.
Tell us: where do you teach?

Dear Anony,
I teach in St. Paul.
That's all I'm saying.
Protect the school.
If someone wanted to be in touch, how might they?
Anonymous Stalkerous

Dear Anonymous Stalkerous,
Email is best until I know who exactly you are.
I recommend the ole
Best way to reach me.
Why do you suck up to Rex so much?
How did you get on the Aggregator?
What's the deal with the whole Keillor/Sorgatz fight thing?
And who won?
Random Citizen

Dear RC,
I don't really suck up to Rex. If I was going to suck up, I would say things like, "Hey Rex, you're great. Greaty great great. How about putting Voix de Michele on the ole Aggregator. That would be great. Yup great."
See, I don't do that.
In fact, I still don't get my inclusion in the Aggregator.
Alexis: Pretty and smart with a helpful service
Sopheva: Same with pics
Political blogs: whatever you feel, it's there. I don't do politics.
I could go on and on
You want to know why I'm on MNSpeak? I think it's because I wrote for Slanderous.
As for Keillor/Sorgatz. Ok, it started with Rex getting SERVED by Keillor. I just decided to try and make it funny. (And several emails tell me...not so much. Apparently you don't pick on Garrison Keillor in this state...if you're a transplant.) I was just trying to satirize an important Twin Cities event.
So there you go.
I'm still trying to figure out this "dinner thing."
Dear Mr. Teachings,
What's the deal with you picking on Don Shelby?
What did he ever do to you?
Picking on Eric Perkins is fine, but why Shelby?
Jason DeRusha (Just kidding. It was Paul Douglas... or was it?)

Dear PD,
Because of every single anchor in the Twin Cities, Shelby looks as if he gets a joke better than anyone. Seriously.
Wait, why is picking on Eric Perkins ok? What did HE ever do to YOU?
Seriously though, I've written a couple jokes about Shelby, and he hasn't complained or sent a nastygram (unlike another anchor in this town. Seriously. No, I will not name names.)
Top member of the MSM in this town is still DeRusha. He's got panache. Yeah.
That's it for this week. There will be no mail next week due to me being at my in-laws. Write me anyway.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Trouble Be Thy Name

Oh trouble set me free
I have seen your face
And it’s too much too much for me

I'm in trouble. The funny part is it's from so many different sources that the trouble has started. It's amazing how a small leak can become a flood. I'm starting to feel a little bit of pressure. People like Michele, Meridita, DeRusha, and Worm tell me I'm funny and now the writing doesn't flow as well because I worry the next thing I write will drive the readers away.I'm not worthy of you, but I sure as hell appreciate all of you.

Oh trouble can’t you see
You’re eating my heart away
And there’s nothing much left of me

I wrote about my sisters in a post not too long ago. Now, their both upset with me. It could be my terminology, it could just very well be the fact that I wrote about them. So, one sister is in Costa Rica for the holidays and not sure she wants to talk to me, and the other sister is at her home on the East Coast feeling as though I believe she's unable to be social.What both my sisters need to realize is that I was painting them to be human. No one can be perfect. Beyond that, if they had look deeper, they would have seen that I was explaining how much better than me they are.My parents have also started discovering what I've written about them. I've tried to keep everything positive. Yet now I have a family that is unhappy with me. The hardest part about being in a family is trying to get everyone to talk to each other. They may be angry with me, but my sisters are now talking to each other.

I’ve drunk your wine
You have made your world mine
So won’t you be fair
So won’t you be fair
I don’t want no more of you
So won’t you be kind to me
Just let me go whereI’ll have to go there

I was given my schedule of classes for the next semester. Three periods of Freshman English (Regular, not Pre-IB). Why is this trouble, you ask? Well, I managed to sneak a peek at the roster for each class, and I will be working mostly with the kids who I failed this past summer. Now, if they failed the BST class, how much am I going to have to change my English course? I have a feeling I have ALOT of lesson plan writing to do. A few of the students ran into me and told me they would, "make my life miserable," because of last summer. Oh joy. I better stock up on referral slips....


Oh trouble move away
I have seen your face
And it’s too much for me today
Oh trouble can’t you see
You have made me a wreck
Now won’t you leave me in my misery

I went to my wife's Holiday party last night. She warned me that I needed to, "keep your mouth shut." Unfortunately, I would be unable to comply.
Her company took over a section on the club level (Mrs. Leab thought it was to be a suite, but apparently they just bought out a section instead). From the moment my wife snuck me in (we have seats on the upper level, so I was there already), I knew I was in trouble.
You see, the company chartered a bus for the employees and stocked that bus with a great deal of booze. Thus managers and underlings alike were sauced to high heaven.
So how did the night go wrong for me? Well, right from the beginning I knew I was in trouble. One of my wife's co-workers grabbed my ass and made sure everyone knew she was grabbing it.
Then, a man who was leaving the company (and would turn out to be a higher up manager) used me as a therapist. I had never met him before and here I am learning all about why he was quitting, why he hated everyone, and why he even hated his wife. And I quote: "My fucking wife quit her job as an engineer and decided she wanted to teach. So she goes back to school and is now working for peanuts. You know how much of a pain in the ass it is that I have to make more money? All so she can be happy...."
Yeah, so then there was another guy who told me all about why he wanted to one day sleep with my wife. I don't know if he didn't get that I was her husband, but it took alot not break his nose (and it would have been SO easy).
My wife was also upset because I talked to her boss and made him uneasy. I am the only person who his wife has ever talked to at a company function. Because I know her name and ask about her (you have to understand, he's afraid of people), he gets uncomfortable. He said something to her, and she came right to me.
And the topper? At the end of night, I get home and my wife tells me, "I'm so mad at you! I just can't talk to you right now." Why? Because one gal grabbed my ass (unsolicited) and several other people asked me to tell jokes and talked to me about their problems. It's my fault for not just saying, "Sorry, can't help you."

I’ve seen your eyes
And I can see death’s disguise
Hangin’ on me
Hangin’ on me
I’m beat, I’m torn
Shattered and tossed and worn
Too shocking to see
Too shocking to see

People I used to go to school with are starting to track me down. It's kinda creepy and kind of annoying. Across the United States, there are only 75 listings for the last name Leab. Eventually, you can come across the right one. I wasn't lucky enough to have name like Smith, Jones, or Andrews. Lots and lots of people with those names.
It is because of this ease of being able to find me that I was able to discover who "Anonymous" is. He (and I was right, it is a man) is none other than "Isaiah", the man with whom my Ex cheated on me (he was also her ex). We never liked each other, and he came across my blog. He recognized the name and that was it.

Oh trouble move from me
I have paid my debt
Now won’t you leave me in my misery
Oh trouble please be kind
I don’t want no fight
And I haven’t got a lot of time

-Trouble by Cat Stevens

Thankfully it's Winter Break, so I can (try to) relax for a little while.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I'm in Trouble...

'Nuff said.
More tomorrow.

Slander a la Leab (12/15/05)

Snow, snow, snow. If you live here, you have to deal with it (but you don't have to love it, people).
Both my sisters are now slightly wary of what I might say. Revenge is a dish best served online. Just kidding. Relax, it's not like you'll be judged solely on what I say.
Before we start, I have to share with you the phone call I received from my wife:
"Honey, the company Holiday gathering is at the game tonight, so I'll be in a suite, and we'll get you in to join us."
"Oh," I reply, "That should be fun."
"Yeah. So don't talk to anyone."
"You either intimidate or anger alot of the people I work with, so try not to talk. No jokes, no opinions. There will be bosses there, so keep your mouth shut."
Ah love. It's a burning thing.
I guess she's got a point.
So, let's get to the SLANDERAMA!
Preparations for 'The Prairie Throwdown' Complete:

Don King is a happy man tonight. With the upcoming "Prairie Throwdown in Downtown" (a nickname for the fight that Mr. King stole from yours truly. I want my cut, King!) set for this Saturday night, Minnesotans are anxiously awaiting to see who will win.
Why is Mr. King so happy? Well, all the seats at the Target Center are sold out, the pay-per-view, which is priced at a hefty $59.99 has been bought by several people worldwide, and the "Prairie Throwdown" T-Shirts are selling better than this season's must have holiday item: the X-Box 360.
"Only in America could a man like me make millions on a fight between two literary types. These men are not physical specimens. No! They are the cream of the mental crop."
Both men are not really known for their fighting prowess and had to train.
Keillor, a literary juggernaut, was described at the weigh-in as, "not hitting harder than a mewing kitten."
Not wanting to suffer an embarassing loss, Keillor began training with local sports news anchor Eric Perkins. Perk, as the "Battler's" team has taken to calling him, started by having Keillor jog. However, this became a problem when Keillor kept slipping on the icy paths around Lake Calhoun. One spy told the I.T. Team:
"It was embarrassing. Most children can run around those icy paths without falling down. Hell, my toddler can do it. Are you telling me a two-year-old is in better shape than Mr. Keillor?"
This setback, however, did not affect "The Lake Woebegon Battler's" boxing training.
"He was at
Uppercut Gym everyday," Perk told the I.T. Team. "Every freaking morning at 5 am, the phone would ring. I'd pick up and G.K. would be all 'Let's go hit the bag' in his dulced tones. The man is an animal."
While Keillor was in the gym, his opponent, Rex Sorgatz, was taking a different approach. "Basically, Rex has been hanging out drinking at Stasiu's," manager Margaret Andrews told us.
"I mean he trains, but nothing like what we're hearing out of the Keillor camp."
So how is "The Titanium Typist" getting ready for this fight?
"I watch alot of Buffy (the Vampire Slayer). I mean with all of her moves and stuff, she's shown me a great deal about how to fight."
But will the cult show be enough for Mr. Sorgatz to defeat Mr. Keillor?
Perkins is sure he knows the answer:
"Oh hell no! Look, LWB's been at it everyday. This Rex guy has been doing....What? Tae-bo or something. He's going to be creamed!
Andrews has a much different outlook on it.
"Rex is a tough S.O.B. Growing up in Edina, he had to really fight to stay alive in his neighborhood. Besides, Keillor sits at a desk all day. He doesn't exercise. Rex at least bikes to work."
Sources say that Keillor may in fact be nervous about the outcome of this fight. He's already talking about a possible rematch that would be done in two stages: 1. Another fight. 2. A literary debate.
Mr. Sorgatz's group had no comment on the possible rematch.
The city of Minneapolis is preparing for a ton of press and boxing enthusiasts to descend on the city. The Graves 601 Hotel reports it is completely booked.
"We're full, and we're ready," Dan Girard, the hotel's manager, explained. "It's about 70/30 Keillor fans. We're trying to separate by floors to ensure the peace."
As first reported here, local boy Josh Hartnett will be singing the national anthem. Mills Lane, best known for his work on Celebrity Deathmatch, has been lured out of retirement for one last fight as a referee. The commentary for the fight will be done by Jim Lampley, Max Kellerman, and special guest Roy Jones, Jr.
Those of you unable to attend will be able to watch the fight at The Local. There will be a cover charge.
Bets can made up to one hour before the 9 PM fight on Saturday.
The Ironic Teachings Team is curious to know who you fans think will win. So, let us know the following: Who's the winner, what round, and how (be it KO, TKO, etc.).
"This should be a great fight," Don King yelled at his press conference yesterday. "Only in America could this fight occur. We want to see which man is the better one, but we want a clean fight. A fight worth our money."
Everyone wants to see that, Mr. King. Everyone wants to see that.

-It looks like local gossip columnist CJ will be in "The Titanium Typist's" corner on Saturday night. The gossip maven has no love for Garrison Keillor or his unicultural show.
"Has there EVER been a non-white person in Lake Wobegon? I don't think so. Then again, I never listen to that show anyway."
Recently on Fox 9 Morning News, CJ was seen sporting the "A Prairie Ho Companion" T-shirt, and when asked told the morning crew she would be in Sorgatz's corner.
"I love that guy, and he's getting my support."
No one is quite sure if Mr. Sorgatz is happy about having the columnist backing him.
"If Muammar Khadafi says he wants to back you, you have mixed feelings. This is along those lines."
-"Dapper" Don Shelby is unhappy and everyone at WCCO knows it. It seems Mr. Shelby was supposed to have ringside seats to the "Prairie Throwdown in Downtown", but his tickets were revoked when he started making outrageous demands. According to one Target Center employee, the "Don" asked for the following:
*He would be seated between Sorgatz's manager Margaret Andrews and local boy made good Josh Hartnett's girlfriend Scarlett Johansson.
*He would be given $200 in free concessions
*A bottle of Roederer Cristal champagne chilled and served to him at ringside, along with two other glasses for the ladies.
*Face time. (This was later discovered to mean he wanted to be shown on the telecast as well as on the overhead board.)
With no seats ringside, Mr. Shelby is now cohosting a party with Diddy in one of the suites. No word on the guest list yet.
That's it for this week. Stayed tuned for next Thursday's entry which will have post-fight coverage. And get those bets in, ladies and gentlemen.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Story Time with Uncle Leab: Foot in Mouth Disease

When I was in college (many moons ago), I created problems for the Performing Arts Department.
I have this disease. Everyonce in a while, my foot just flies up into mouth. This is compounded by a form of neurological disease I have where I am incapable of thinking before I speak AND cannot hold my tongue. It's horrible. Happens alot.
Now, when I started in college, I was a Psychology major with dreams of having my own practice. Ten minutes into my first class, that all changed. I was the only student with any technical theatre in my background. In high school, I had been an actor, but also a stage manager, lighting guy, running crew, and more. So, when the teacher asked, "Anyone have any stage managing experience?", mine was the only hand in the air.
After being assigned to the show, I immediately learned two things:
1. I would be the first and only freshman in the history of the University's Performing Arts Department to stage manage the first show of the year.
2. I would not be in Psychology for long. I switched to Theatre and stayed there for my degree. (The actual degree is: Design/Technical Theatre with emphasis in Lighting. I would minor in Psychology and German Language and Literature. How? 21 credits per semester freshman year along with working shows and having a girlfriend...who would later break my heart.)
The show was The Importance of Being Earnest, and with a new director, a freshman stage manager, and an opening night only four weeks away, we had our work cut out for us. The show went well, but Seana (the director) and I would never speak again once the show was done. We drove each other nuts.
The highlight of my first year in the department came during a play written by the playwright-in-residence. The play was about a teenage girl in Ireland getting pregnant. Everyone who worked on the show, except for the playwright, had absolutely no clue what the hell the play was about. I remember one design meeting where the playwright (we'll call her Patti) asked for the set to be all fabric "to feel like a womb." When the show was finally over, Patti explained what the play was supposed to be about:
"There tried to outlaw divorce in 1980s in Ireland. That's really what this play is about."
You see, no one in the play marries. The young girl gives birth and keeps the baby sans husband. How does that speak to divorce? Anyone....Anyone....?
During this show, the director and I almost came to blows. At this point, I had a crew with which I was constantly working. There was Stephanie, my Assistant Stage Manager. She was a former model, a fellow freshman, and would come to me for advice on men (which at times was kinda awkward). The cosutme designer was the same gal I had worked with on Earnest. The rest of the running crew was made up of people I was in a class with. These people were close to me, and I was protective of them.
Well, one rehearsal, things were going very badly. The actors didn't know their lines or blocking (where they had to move to for non theatre people), the playwright was adjusting lines as the rehearsal went on (we wrote everything in pencil, because she would put in and then take out a line), and my crew was having a hard time with the fabric set.
So, we're running the "sex" scene between Kate (the protagonist) and the man who gets her pregnant, and my crew gets confused on where to put a block. The director, already upset with
how much pressure he's under (the department is touting this show as a "world-premiere play written by a Julliard graduate), explodes. He starts tearing into the crew as if every little mistake was their fault.
"What the hell is wrong with you? Why can't you get your marks right?"
Remember, dear reader, this is a teacher. Sure, he's a director, but he's supposed to be a teacher first. He then sharpens his tongue for the strongest verbal lashing on Stephanie.
"In all my years as a director, I have never seen someone so pathetically underqualified for their job. Why the HELL DO YOU EVEN BOTHER! GET OUT OF MY SIGHT!"
At his point, Stephanie slowly breaks down into tears. She manages to get out into the hallway before the real sobbing begins.
Again, I'm fiercely protective of my crew. They are like my family. I protect them, and they do good work for me.
It's at this point, that I first realized I had that disease. Without thinking, the affliction took over. "What are you thinking? That's my ASM! I need her to run the backstage."
With all the fury of a thousand suns, the director turned his vision on me.
"What did you say?"
Again, my brain was saying, "SHUT UP YOU IDIOT," but the affliction took over:
"Look, you need to go out and get her. Apologize so she calms down. I'm sorry if things aren't going very well, but you can't take it out on us."
This was not the right thing to say. He got in face so close that his nose was occasionally touching mine, and he was spitting mad.
"Who the hell do you think you are, you little pissant? You can't even call a cue correctly. The reason why we're stuck on this scene is you can't get Evan (the light board operator) the correct timing. I've got to worry about everything. You only have the crew to worry about. I have been doing this for 20 years. 20 YEARS! You've been here for what, three months?"
Again, I should have shut up, but the damn affliction kicked in at the wrong time.
"Don't take your frustrations out on us. I'm sorry if you don't get this play. None of us do! But don't make a girl cry and tell her 'not to bother' doing theatre when she's doing the best she can. That's bullshit."
Have you ever seen someone get so mad his or her face goes slightly dead trying to comprehend how not to kill you? Then the eyes on his or her face kind of bulge out as if the rage inside is attempting to pour out through the eye sockets? The director had this look.
He called for a five minute break, grabbed my arm, and dragged me to his office.
I would be screamed at for the next seven minutes. I remember it being seven, because I stopped listening and watched his clock. Later, I would console Stephanie.
The show was a nightmare. We managed to get the cues down, but because of all of the fabric that was put up, the booth (which meant myself, the light board operator, and the sound engineer) could not see the show. No one understood the playwright's meaning. On opening night, she held an post-show discussion to talk about what the audience had seen. No one (and I mean NO ONE) got that it was about divorce. She then told the audience (and I quote), "You just don't get it, because you're not Irish...or not very bright."
At the post mortem (when the show ends, the actors, crew, designers, and director meet to discuss what worked and what didn't), I managed to let the disease take over and put my foot in my mouth. The designers and crew had promised to back me up with my topic. I was going to discuss the relationship between the director and everyone who wasn't an actor. I stand up, say my piece about feeling like a second class citizen...and no one backs me up.
It went downhill from there.
The big show (meaning it was on the professional mainstage) the following year was Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. I wanted that show. However, it was directed by the same guy who I had just stepped up against in the post mortem.
The department, fearing the two of us would have another war and destroy the show, gave the stage manager position to a new girl who had never done it before and moved me to work with dancers. The girl would end up angering every single member of the cast, crew, and even the director (who would later tell me, "he made a mistake" and would use me for the final production of my senior year). I went on to work with dancers which was a very interesting experience (and something I will talk about another time. Dancers...always makes me smile and cringe at the same time).
The problem was the director had been in the program longer and was better liked than me. I now had a reputation of being difficult to work with (this would go away, but not until my senior year). Several directors/teachers passed on working with me. I was lucky there were student productions, and that a few teachers didn't listen to the hype about me.
So what's the moral, girls and boys?
Well, you could say it's learn to pick your battles, but you all know that.
You could say it's you can't trust anyone, but that's obvious to almost everyone.
No, the moral here is: think before you speak. That's right. Make sure you think through what it is you're going to say very carefully before you say it. You may end up blackballing yourself out of jobs or potential friends.

Bought and Sold like a Mule

I added a new link over in the "Students" section.
Blog Shares is a fictional Wall Street where blogs can be traded like stocks.
I have had a $10,000 gain from November to December. Apparently I'm a tech stock...hooray!
Still, it's a very odd idea. I have to thank Rex and Michele, however.
You see by adding me to their links, they increased my value which in turn increased theirs.
At last check MNSpeak was at around $32,000 and Voix was around $20,000.
It's an odd thing, but the more you read it, the more engrossing it is.
Again, it's just a game started up by a few guys, but more than likely if you have a blog, it's on there.
Check it out.

I also added Sopheava as a new student due to the fact, like Meridita, I really like her photography and the stories she shares.
My class is getting full. I'm going to need more desks...that is unless Rex confirms that he received an email about me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Ramblings for the Evening (12/13/05)

Still mulling.
Sibling Rivalry:
They will deny this vehemently, but I assure you, dear reader, I'm right, and they are wrong.
I have two older sisters. One is eight years older, the other is three. One could not possibly imagine how different the two of them are. It's quite...fascinating.
I love both my sisters very much. I believe that for all we disagree about, for all we argue about, if trouble arose, we could count on each other.
My oldest sister, we'll just call her "A", is one of the smartest people I know. She has a keen mind with a killer ability to remember facts, and she almost NEVER forgets anything. That's both a blessing and a curse. If you need it, her memory is your best friend. If you argue with her, she never forgets what you said.
"A" is also quite funny with a pretty good sense of humor. Sure, there are times when she doesn't understand you're only joking, but that's ok. You can't always have everything, right?
I'm also quite proud of the fact my sister has kept my neice alive to almost two years old. When Maddie was born, "A" was a nervous wreck. There was this unfounded belief she would kill the baby rather quickly. This is the only problem with my sister "A":
She has no confidence in herself. None. A person with a mean streak could snap her easily by ripping her apart not physically, but attacking her looks, her demeanor, etc. It wouldn't matter if it weren't true. For her, I wish she would get two things:
1. Start liking yourself, and others will follow.
2. You're a good mother. Believe it.
On the flip side, there's my other sister. We'll call her "C".
She was my best friend when we were younger, but we really grew apart. It was only in the last few years we started being friends again. Whereas my oldest sister is the brilliant one, this sister is the free spirit with better social skills then most party planners. The path of life for most people is road with just a few curves and the occasional obstacle. Not for "C". No, for her the path of life is winding like a mountain road with large trees for obstacles and many, many detours.
At her lowest moment, she had to watch her boyfriend die after a jet ski accident. You ever see someone die? It's not fun. No, it really affects your mind.
That being said, my sister "C" is a social dynamo. It's kind of scary how many people she knows, and how many people know her.
Is her social standing enough? No. Even though she has a new boyfriend, I truly believe that deep down "C" is unhappy. The world has changed alot around her, and, though she'll deny it, she has a bit of a Peter Pan Complex.
I love both my sisters, but it's hard, because they don't really talk to each other. The way we're spread out across the country is a perfect example:
"C" is in Seattle (the West), I'm here in MN, and "A" is in Connecticut (the East).
Not getting it?
I'm in the middle. I seem to have no problem contacting them, but they can't seem to connect with each other.
On a recent trip, they had a hard time even being in the same room.
It's tough. I hate middlemen...yet I am one.
Don't get me wrong, I love both my sisters. I just wish they talked to each other as much as I talk to each of them.
So what's my point besides the fact that I want my sisters to foster love? Well, one of them is brilliant, the other is a social savant. What does that leave me?
I listen to each of them complain about what's wrong, be it loneliness, jealousy, hard times at work or school, but the best is when they subtlely tell me the other one is so lucky.
"She's so great with people and has so many friends."
"She could do anything if she wanted."
And on and on it goes.
Yet, one of them is smarter than me (and a better writer, that bitch), and the other is better with people (and has more friends, that bitch).
What am I? I'm the average kid. It kinda sucks.
I don't want pity from them or you, dear reader. I'm just pointing out a fact. One sister is smarter, one sister is better socially.
I'm just the boy. No more, no less.
And finally (it's a short night)....
The War on the War on Christmas:
I'm starting a new war.
What with the war on terror, drugs, poverty, and now Christmas, I have decided that the average citizen (um, that's me, doi!) needs a war.
So, I am starting a war on the War on Christmas. This has to be the dumbest thing that has ever wasted my time and yours.
Everyone has their own opinion on this topic, but I hate politicians and pundits (this includes myself. If I could hit the man in the mirror, I would). I'm going to try and present both sides and explain to you, dear reader, why this is the dumbest argument possibly ever.
What Christians are arguing:
The ACLU and certain other groups are working overly hard to "take the Christ out of Christmas." Instead of saying "Merry Christmas," people are forced to say, "Happy Holidays!" or "Seasons Greetings!"
In a way, it can be argued that it's a form of religious persecution. No Christ for you!
The opponents of "Christmas" want all aspects of it removed. This includes trees, crosses, wreaths, and even Santa Claus. That's right, the Fat Man is under fire too. Even the colors red and green have been asked to be removed from government centers and schools around this time of year. Heck, even Wal-Mart and Target are being asked to remove the C-word (Christmas, not the fun word) from their stores.
Bottom line: The time of Christ's birth is being taken away from those who want celebrate it. On the flip side:
What (we'll call them) Secularists are arguing:
There are other holidays besides Christmas. Ever hear of Chanukkah? Kwanzaa?
Weeks of Christmas music over and over again? Annnnnd, where's the other music? There are Chanukkah songs you know.
And what about specials on TV? There's a bunch of Christmas, but no The Night Grandpa Saved Kwanzaa. What's up with that?
What about commericals? "You only have 25 days until Christmas! Why aren't you out shopping RIGHT NOW?!!!!!"
Christmas is being forced on everyone and other holidays are suffering or underrepresented.
Bottom line: Why can't everyone's religious beliefs be given equal time.
My Take on the Whole Thing:
Everyone on both sides: pay attention to this. Ready?
Shut up!
I'll start with the Secularists. Banning the colors red and green? That's insane. That's going too far. If you ban every color that deals with the holiday then you have to ban every color of the rainbow.
And the term "Merry Christmas" is not offensive. It's just a greeting.
If someone wants to believe that their savior was born at this time, let them have their time. You want to celebrate your beliefs at this time? Let them celebrate theirs.
That being said....
Christians: What the hell is wrong witn you?
War on Christmas? The holiday is everywhere! There are tons of Christmas songs on the radio all the time. (Side note: the guy in Alabama suing to have the song "Happy Holidays" removed from the radio because it's "offensive": You're an idiot.)
There are wreaths and garlands and trees everywhere. EVERYWHERE. I haven't seen alot of Chanukkah decorations anywhere, have you?
Yes, you are a majority in the country. Congratulations. That doesn't mean you ignore everyone else. Most stores have TONS of Christmas decorations. Yet, Chanukkah and Kwanzaa are usually given only a little bit.
And having a cow because of "Happy Holidays" on the White House Christmas card? What's wrong with you?
The bottom line is balance. If a Christmas tree is put up in a school, then everyone else has to be represented and that creates clutter. You need Chanukkah decorations, Kwanzaa decorations, and other religious decorations for that time of the year. You wan t to deal with all that?
As for Christ. It's your belief. That's fine, but remember two things:
1. The Puritans, the original settlers that some of you bring up when discussing the holidays, were AGAINST Christmas.
2. Some people believe Christ was born in the summer and the whole "birth" thing was moved to cover a pagan holiday.
Now, this is for both of you (and you media people as well). Stop this. It's a stupid argument. There are children starving in an unheated building just wishing for someone to help them. No, you instead choose to focus on how a tree has been renamed from Christmas to Holiday tree.
Secularists: You're a minority, but you do deserve representation
Christians: Stop talking about "Christmas being under seige." In 1959, it was argued that Communists were trying to drive the Christ out of Christmas. Well, almost 50 years later, I guess they're still trying, right?
So cut the crap. Go to temple, or church, or whatever and hope or pray that this year, Christmas/Kwanzaa/Chanukkah is event free (no tsunamis or natural disasters) and that the people who really need help get it.
So here's how the war on the war on Christmas works. I tell you all to shut up and help people, and you have a Scrooge moment where you realize "Wow, this is absolutely pointless to argue about," and you go out and help the less fortunate. You stop commercializing the holiday time, and you act, shock of shocks, like a human being.
Stop arguing (and commercializing, you bastards) and help those who need it. Bill O'Reilly, John Gibson, The New York Times, Jerry Falwell, The ACLU, and anyone involved in this argument: shut up. Go out and help someone instead. Help them to be warm, eat, and survive.
That's the true spirit of Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Chanukkah: to help those in need.
Don't argue, just do it, and do it now.
Otherwise I will find a way to raise an army, and we will bring this war to you. And, using humanity as a base, we'll win. Why? Because God prefers humanity to all that other stuff. Trees? Decorations? "That's not the cup of a carpenter."
Then again, what do I know? I'm the guy who calls it "The most humanizing time of the year." I could be wrong.