Friday, May 27, 2005

Pure Genius (Sort Of)

If this had been a cat, turkey, chicken, or even a pig, no one would care. Personally I'm jealous that I didn't think of this. Maybe I could do something similar using a dog...
However, as I thought about it more, this is really similar to what they did with Larry the Lobster on Saturday Night Live. Don't remember that? Ok, they had an on-air stunt. They showed a lobster (Larry, natch) and a boiling pot of water. The announcer then came on and said that you could call one of two numbers. The first placed Larry into his last bath, the other spared him the spa treatment. In a cruel twist, the boilers outdid the rescuers, and Larry was boiled.
Check out the website, but be forewarned. I really don't think poor Toby is going to that great big field in the sky anytime soon.

Let It Go

The New York Daily News is reporting this little nugget. Considering that there is the urban legend that masturbation causes blindness, we seem to be heading toward a "damned if you do/ damned if you don't" situation. If an older gentleman with E.D (Erectile Dysfunction) decides to get Viagra to help him, he could go blind, but if he instead decides to spank the monkey, he could also go blind. So I guess the only way to solve this problem is abstinence, but where's the fun in that?

Rainy Day Blues

I'm having an off day. I know, we can't always be at our best everyday, but today was one of those days where I didn't have the answers, I was stumbling over myself, and I just didn't have my head in my body.
Warning: the author is tired and frustrated right now, so he's essentially whiny. He apologizes for being annoying but hopes his reader(s) will understand.
First and foremost, I need a day without rain. We've had gray (or grey depending on your feelings) skies for days. Yesterday started out promising, but by the time I started to leave the school building, it was pouring. I need some sunshine this upcoming weekend, or I might go crazy. Granted I also need the sunshine so I can paint my house.
The second issue stems from fellow faculty members. I have been at this school for ten months (since August), and I get along with almost all the faculty members (as seen in a previous
post). However, ever since I started at this school, there has been one teacher who has never used my name. Over the course of ten months, she would call me "Student Teacher Guy," or, "hey buddy." (which is a pet peeve of mine to act all chummy with someone whose name you don't know.) Today, however, she actually called me by my name today. It was shocking. She said, "Hello Mr. Leab." Oh, but it didn't stop there (and this is where the trouble starts). No, she decided that we were such good friends (nope) that she called me Leabster, Leabarooney, and even Leabbie. Somehow this teacher turned into Todd the Copier Guy from Saturday Night Live (the Rob Schneider character). She and I do not know each other at ALL, yet she talks to me like we grew up in the same neighborhood. When I asked her to stop, (because we do not know each other) she got defensive and the next thing I know, I have students chastising me for hurting her feelings. One student went so far as to say that she thought I was a nice guy, but now she's glad she won't see me anymore. Still, as my favorite Grad School teacher told me, "it's more important to be likeable than liked."
This same teacher led to another problem today. She decided to grab another teacher and come into my room while the class was watching a video on the Civil Rights Era. I allowed two students who were not in the class to sit in and talk with me, because one of them felt she needed to chat with me. This teacher decided to make a whole big scene about the "Leabites", and started asking me out loud about what I do to get everyone to like me. This is so inappropriate to do in front of a class. Thanks alot, HotDave (and you will continue to be called this) for helping her out on that one. Look, I know I was asked to Prom by students, and I get that students feel it's easy to talk to me, but if you're bitter or angry, you don't need to make a big scene. I'm sorry if I actually, oh I don't know, listen to my students when they talk to me. Try it it's a great thing.
My third issue is really all about me. I'm human, we all are. Even the super people who seem to have boundless energy and get everything done with no problems are human. We all have to take the occasional MHD (Mental Health Day, people) in order to keep from going postal. No one, and I do mean NO ONE, can expect that everyone will be on their game everyday. Need a sports example? Michael Jordan had a bad game here and there. Not a sports fan? Sometimes musicians play badly at a concert. Something different? Mother Theresa, before she died, admitted that some days she needed divine guidance. If Mother Theresa needed extra guidance here and there, what hope do we mere mortals have of being on the ball everyday. The problem I have, however, is when a person if off their game or having a bad day, and no one is willing to accept it. So when I felt as though I couldn't help some of my students with personal issues, I was dismayed (and slightly hurt) when they reacted badly to it. We all do the best we can, but sometimes we just need a rest. So, to the three students who got mad at me, I'm sorry, but I couldn't spend the time and energy you needed (and deserved) today. I can always talk to you on Tuesday.
The fourth issue is more in my head. The students are learning about the Civil Rights Era. I get that it's Friday, and I get that the end of the year is just days away, but this is one of, if not the MOST, important eras in the history of our country. It is important, whether white, black, yellow, red, whatever, to know how our country changed due to that period of time. We discussed the
Freedom Riders and watched a film about them. When it was done, I asked the glass to tell me about what they learned. They were quiet (which is nothing new). However, when pressed, one student said, "there's no point in learning this, it doesn't affect in any way." Now, the first issue I have is that this student is an African-American. To say that this doesn't affect him is like saying that the Holocaust was a picnic (nope). The second issue is that regardless of race, it is important to understand what shaped the society you live in and how your history can determine your future. It honestly depressed me that he and a few other students felt that learning about this was unnecessary.
Everything else, much like the rest of this post, is superficial. Over the last month, I've had two immediate family members in the hospital for surgery (or procedures), blown a job interview by being loyal, and realized that I don't like a lot of the people I keep company with because they can't see beyond themselves. I mean come on people, your receding hair line is not a reason to call me at one in the morning on a school night. Students on my lawn is one thing, but your fading looks is not.
Sorry for the ranting and venting. I'll try not to do it again.
Have a great weekend and have some fun.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Hockey and Me (A Love Story) Part II: Wild Times

When I moved to Minnesota, the Wild were in their inaugural season. I knew from seeing the Northstars on television that Minnesotans were rabid fans. During their Stanley Cup run in 1990-91 season, the Northstars were on television on the East Coast. I remember how loud the fans were on tv. I never thought it was real until I went to a Wild game. It made sense that the Wild retired the #1 for the fans, because Minnesota fans truly are rabid and amazing.
My first Wild game was during my wife's bachelorette party. She was out with friends and would be using the apartment we shared. I didn't mind, however, because I had won two "on the glass" seats to the Wild take on the Vancouver Canucks. Though the Wild got killed (the final score was 5-2), the events at the game were a lot of fun.
I was with my best man, Paul. He was a huge Blues fan, but had adopted the Wild as his "other" team (a common practice in sports). As we sat by the ice, we realized that everyone around us in our section was obviously new to either the sport or to the physics of the rink. Several people were getting Hockey explained to them ("So how does icing work?"), while others had placed their drinks on the rim in front of the glass. Anyone who understands what happens during a check into the glass knows you do not ever put anything on that rim.
For those of you who don't know, there is a small amount of give between the glass and the boards in order to protect the players (and the fans) from hard checks. When someone gets checked into the glass, it bends slightly and vibrates. Now back to the story.
So the guy next to me puts his full beer on the rim just before a nearby faceoff. Immediately, I know this is going to be bad. The Wild lost the faceoff, and the Canuck player who picked up the puck started to go up ice by the boards. Scott Pellerin zeroed in on him and slammed him into the boards. The beer shot off the rim, spraying out of the bottle, and landed on his lap. I had to bite my cheeks to keep from laughing. I remember him screaming, "what the hell?" over and over again. Later in the game, the Wild scored a goal and everyone by the ice started banging on the glass. As we cheered, a police officer came down and started moving everyone back with his nightstick. It was hilarious and disturbing at the same time. He pushed us back from the glass saying, "you might damage it. That's enough, sir. Don't make me remove you." Of course, when the hot girl one section over did it on the second goal, he just smiled.
Several games later, we finally moved into the upper levels. I have mentioned
before: any real fan sits in the upper levels. It's like a cult. The fans who paint themselves, the fans who know all the stats, and the fans who can see how the game will develop sit up above the ice to see it all (it also helps that it's cheaper). That game showed me the true, die-hard, crazy hockey fans. There was Mr. and Mrs. Wild (who had legally changed their names) and painted themselves to look like the logo. Mister Wild even tattooed the logo onto his back (that's dedication). There was "The Chief." I think every team has a "chief," who is (usually) a man that dresses up in Native American gear and tries to rally the fans. Truly, the fans of the Wild are sometimes even better than the team.
The best game I ever attended, however, was the first game of the 2003 conference finals between the Wild and
Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (thanks alot for that one, Disney). When my wife and I entered the arena, every seat was covered with the Wild version of the Homer Hanky (I call it the Wild Washcloth). During the game, every time we needed a rally, the fans waved their towels. It was an amazing scene to see about 19,000 people waving these towels around and around in the air. It was honestly inspiring. Less inspiring, however, were the people who were not their for the Wild, but there for the experience. I can sum it up with Dorky Annoying Guy (or Dag for short).
Dag was sitting next to me for the whole game. He was the kind of person who would yell things like, "Come on, just shoot it," when the Wild were setting up during the power play. He was almost as bad as a guy I saw at a St. Cloud Huskies game. This guy would yell over and over again, "FEED THE DOG!" This meant pass the puck to the guy on the point. Anyway, Dag didn't really care if the Wild won the game or not. At one point, he got on his cell phone and called a friend. He kept asking, "Can you see me on tv? Are there any celebrities here? Etc." At one point Wild player Jeremy Stevenson was hit in the eye with a stick (and it was maliciously done). The ref did not call a penalty (thanks alot Fraser) even though Stevenson was bleeding from his eye. As Wild fans hollered and booed, Dag asked me why they cared so much. That's just one of the signs of a passive fan, or as I call them bandwagoneer. Here are some more:
When you don't become outraged by the uncalled injury of a team member, you might not be a hockey fan
When you're above the action following the players and you have to ask where the puck is, you might not be a hockey fan.
When you turn to the person sitting next to you and ask, "when is the period over," instead of looking at the clock, you might not be a hockey fan.
These are all examples of what Dag did at that game. It frustrated me that at a point when the Wild needed their true blue (or green) fans to support them, they instead had schmucks like Dag who only cared about being noticed and being able to tell his friends he was there. I cannot stop people like that from going to games, but I really hope that karma pays them back for not really caring.
I will continue to love Hockey until the day I die. The movement and speed of the game is fluid like art. I hope the game returns this upcoming season. Should you have the opportunity, check out a live professional game. You'll be amazed at how much better and faster it is than high school or even college.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Hockey and Me (A Love Story) Part I: Before Wild

Ok, I finally can sit down and write about this.
I have been a fan of Hockey for as long as I can remember. While the game is great to watch on television, you cannot really get the feel for it unless you go (or unless you play, but for all intents and purposes, it's easier to talk about watching it).
The first time I ever went to a game was in 1987. I went and saw the New York Rangers play the New York Islanders. I was aware of the rivalry between the two, and I understood the chants that Islander and Ranger fans are known for at the games ("Potvin sucks!", etc). I never realized how fast the game could really go until I watched the pros in person. These men were able to FLY.
I went to the game with my father (who would go one other game with me and complain both times). He hated it and ended up talking to the guys in the press box for most of the game. I just remember how fast they all moved. A few years later, I would return to Madison Square Garden to see the 1994 All-Star Game. That was an amazing experience. Again, it was the two Leab boys, and, once again, we sat up by the reporters. At one point, Harvey the Hound (the Calgary Flames mascot) was walking around by the press. They got annoyed and started flicking pens and pencils at him to go away. I remember that Mike Richter was amazing in that game, and he shutout the West All-Stars (formerly of the Campbell Conference). At the time, I didn't realize that the players don't really go at full speed, because it's essentially an exhibition game. Several members of the Rangers (Mark Messier and Brian Leetch) played very well and were active in scoring.
Fast forward a few years. In college, I was able to see the St. Louis Blues. A few of us students and faculty members decided to take in a game. We secured nine club level seats at the then Kiel Center (now Saavis Center) to see the Blues take on the Rangers. The great part about the club section was that people came to you for food and drink orders. You didn't have to anywhere. Thus, with little movement, we ended up getting very drunk.
I, of course, cheered for the Rangers, much to the chagrin of the people with me who were Blues fans. At one point, the Rangers went up two goals, and another Ranger fan (who I didn't know) and I were celebrating. We were soon pelted with popcorn, peanuts, and ice. We still cheered and hollered, even though very large Blues fans were threatening us. The Rangers won the game by three goals, but what was more interesing was what happened among the fans. First, the break between the second and third periods had to be extended when a Blues fan and a Rangers fan ended up brawling in the aisle. Both ended up with bloody noses, and everyone cheered rather than stop them. Second, toward the end of the game, the faculty member who came with us ended up feeling my girlfriend's (now wife) breast. It was odd. He said he was reaching for me, but he put his arm around her, his hand dropped, and he grabbed her breast. There was a huge reaction from both of them. She was upset, and he laughed, though he claimed it was because he was embarrassed. As we walked out of the arena, she ended up tripping him and claiming it was an accident. I had to walk in between them to the light rail.
Tomorrow, I will discuss part two, Hockey in the Wild era.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Holy Clowns

I was going to talk about hockey experiences today, but something came up that was just too good to pass up.
A church in New York decided to try something
new yesterday. I completely understand why, and it makes sense except for one small issue: the number of children and adults who are terrified by clowns. My wife, for example, cannot stand clowns. When I showed her this piece, she told me:
"I would turn around and walk out. There is NO way I would sit through church with the minister dressed as a clown."
That's a grown and sensible woman saying no.
At the same time, there are so many aspects of the term, "Clown Eucharist" that lead to trouble. Let's think about all the issues:
1. A priest or minister dressed as a kid-friendly clown. Ok, with all of the pedophilia accusations thrown at the church, is it really a good idea for them to dress up in a costume that most people associate with the circus and kid's parties? My sister once told me that back in the 15th century, pedophiles would dress up as clowns to lure children and ravage them. Then, with no way of knowing what they looked like, these people could get away with it. Think about that when you think about this minister as a clown.

2. How the mass works. Do they throw the wafer at you instead of placing it? Is the wine in a seltzer bottle? This is what I picture. The minister honks his nose and calls up the congregation. As they line up, he uses magic (or the Black Arts for you hardcore believers) to produce the wafers. Then he sprays a little wine (or grape juice) into everyone's mouth with a lapel flower.
3. Where was Bozo in the Bible? I recall Ezekiel, and I remember Lot and his wife, but I don't remember a Bozo nor a mention of, "a painted man with nose of noise."
4. Music. Ok, does the organist play circus versions of the hymns? Imagine "Amazing Grace" to the tune of "Baby Elephant Walk."
Look, I applaud this minister for thinking outside the box (something desperately needed in the church), but this might be too far. Next thing you know, a church in Alabama will have Jesus and Nascar: You're the driver, life is the track, and Jesus (and the church) are your pit crew. The minister could wear a headset and racing outfit. Hey, we could even put a headset on the crucifix! Too far? Ok, let's throttle back (pun intended). Is the devil the racer who keeps bumping you into the wall? If this idea does get taken, remember where you heard it first. However, if you have an idea for a new kind of mass, send it to
me. I'll publish the best ones to let the world decide whether it should be accepted or pitched.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

O Hockey, Where Art Thou?

I miss professional hockey. Yup, I admit it. It may seem geeky or dorky or whatever, but I miss the NHL. Outside of the country of Canada (eh?), most people probably don't care, but I do. At this point in the year, they would be in the playoffs heading toward the Stanley Cup Finals. There would hardcore checking, great saves, and amazing goals. I should be listening to Barry "The Mullet" Melrose, Darren "The Little Goalie That Could" Pang, and John "Oh Baby!" Davidson talking about Marian Gaborik's incredible speed and Martin Brodeur's amazing consistency on shots. But I'm not, because there is no hockey this year. Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow made like In-Action Heroes (no, I am not plugging, just explaining), and stole away the season. Both the players and the owners should be ashamed. Sorry, almost went off on a rant there. This post isn't about denouncing those two punks. No, no, no, no. Rather this is about how much I miss the "Coolest Sport on Earth."
At the end of last year, the
Minnesota Wild invited me to become a season ticket holder. Without hesitation, I gladly accepted and purchased two upper deck seats (real fans sit above where they can see the whole game). Both my wife and I were excited for the upcoming season. We were going to see Matt Johnson beat the holy hell out of opposing players. We were going to see Gaborik flying down the ice to score. We were going to discuss how the Wild need to have Matt Foy on their second line as soon as possible (a thought I still have to this day). The lockout ended all of that. Did I cry? No. I think my brother-in-law did though. See, he's a Canadian boy who loves (and I do mean LOVES) the Calgary Flames. He's the kind of guy who would go to the game, take off his shirt, and have some sort of mural or picture painted on his chest. He got so mad during last year's finals that he put his fist through a wall, broke his glasses, and cried (the Flames did lose, you know).
Anyway, as baseball rolls along, and basketball's season comes to a conclusion, I keep thinking about what could have been. Would the Wild have returned to the playoffs this year? (I think so.) Would an unexpected team win the Stanley Cup? (Again, I think so.) But there is no hockey this year. The Xcel Energy Center has
The Minnesota Swarm (a lacrosse team) to replace hockey (it doesn't). Now that the Worlds are over (take that Canada, Czech Republic shut you out!), there's no hockey for awhile. There's even the possibility of no season next year as well. (BETTMAN AND GOODENOW!!!! Sorry.)
So, in honor of the sport that I miss, tomorrow I will be talking about my hockey memories. Basically, games I attended and events that occured there. Some are funny, some are sad, and some are just insane.
Come back soon, NHL. I'm jonesing for some wicked checks, incredible saves, and JD's "Oh baby!"

"Haven't You Got Any Brains?"

The title of this entry comes from the gentleman who lives across the street from me. Ed is an older gentleman. I believe he is around 80. His mobility is down, and he lives alone. Well almost alone. He has a dog named Daisy.
Daisy is a golden retriever with more energy than a seven year old drinking Red Bull. She bounds and leaps all the time. I once saw her start to climb the tree in the yard after a squirrel. Before that day, I thought there was no way a dog could climb, but she changed my mind. I'm still convinced that I will come home one day to see her sitting on a branch with part of that squirrel's tale just sticking out the side of her mouth. But I digress....
Now, as I said before, Ed is an older gentleman, and Daisy is a younger dog (around 2 or 3). So when she decides to act up, Ed can only do one thing: yell at her in the most colorful language. As Ed walked around his yard plucking weeds today, Daisy bounded after him wherever he went. Ed became frustrated and yelled at her such things as, "Stop it you damn fool," and, "Haven't you got any brains?" In the worst moments, he just yells, "Daisy! No!" He never hits her, he brings her inside when the weather is really bad, and generally Ed loves Daisy. He just cannot control her. When he tells her to sit down, she just looks at him as if he were meowing.
I bring this up, because Ed's relationship with Daisy reminds me of the teenager/parent relationships of many of the students I teach. The parents are sure that what they are saying should be easily understood, and they get mad when their kids don't understand. At the same time, the kids are testing their parents' boundaries, but they also do not understand what their parents want from them. The parents view their children as dumb creatures, and the kids see their parents as old fogies who cannot keep up with the world. Still, the parents love their children and take care of them even when they want to kill them, and those teens do listen now and then. Like Daisy, however, I wouldn't be surprised to see those teens in that tree.