Friday, June 10, 2005

Mrs. Fualaau? It's about your child...

Now that Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau are married, this makes me wonder: what will happen when they have children? Imagine if they have a girl, and she grows up and starts dating her teacher. How can these two argue against it. Can you imagine the conversation?
MKLetourneau: What are you thinking?
Daughter: It's not different from what you and dad did!
MKL: It was a different time. We were different people.
Honestly, though, is there an argument that they can make against doing it? Other than possible jail time?
How ironic would it be if their kid decided to be with his or her teacher, and they felt it was not right or decent?
Only time will tell.

Ramblings for the Morning (6/10/05)

Random thoughts that are pinging around my head this morning.
The new president of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) is a man. Doesn't that kind of go against the idea of MOTHERS Against Drunk Driving. Wouldn't it make sense to change the name to PADD (Parents, etc.)? When a man is in charge of mothers, trouble could be brewing.
Oprah is up for consideration for "The Greatest American of All Time." I don't remember. Did she sign the Constitution before or after Benjamin Rush? (If you don't know who he is, get a history book.) Seriously, though, how can she be compared to the people who changed this country? I get that she is one of, if not the most powerful African-American in this country, but I don't remember that she was the one who sat down on the bus. I don't remember if she was the one who made the "I Have a Dream" speech. Is she the unnamed explorer who traveled with Lewis and Clark? She's great, she's done some great things (except for creating that damn Dr. Phil. Thanks for that, Oprah), but I don't think she's the absolute greatest american ever.
All local news stations ran the same stories at the same time for fifteen minutes this morning. It's sad but true. As I woke up this morning, I turned on the TV to catch the weather. All four of the stations were doing weather at the same time (all with slight variations). Then they all moved into talking about the Paparazzi. Each station had a variation of the Lindsey Lohan accident, then moved into traveling with a photographer as he, "tailed his next shot." It was very surreal and almost as if it was a slow news day.
New York is scrambling to keep their Olympic bid alive. Look, New York, we're old friends here, so I'm going to give you a little advice: let it go. If you love the people who live in your city, then let this go. Almost every city that has hosted the Olympics the last few times had major budgetary issues. Greece lost a ton of money. Turin (Italy, where the 2006 Winter Olympics are being held) is already 196 million dollars in the hole. The Olympics are extremely pricey. If NY takes on the games, the city will be swamped, security, alone, will piss off New Yorkers, and the ticket prices will be unaffordable to all but the Trumps, and the Ebersols, and such.
When will Blaxsploitation films be remade by white people? Ok, Cedric the Entertainer has remade the film Vacation into Johnson's Family Vacation, and he has remade The Honeymooners. Both of these were shows or films staring white people that have been remade for the African-American community. So, why doesn't Hollywood, which will run out of comic books and video games soon enough, remake some of the old Blaxsploitation films with white people? Think about Cleopatra Jones could become Mary Smith. Remake Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song. I'm not really being serious, but I will laugh very hard if this is what comes next. Just wait. They'll do a new Shaft starring Ben Affleck. Or maybe a white Roots? Of course, I'm still waiting for the black version of Revenge of the Nerds.
A man in Ohio has gone to see the final Star Wars film everyday since it came out. Either he's not willing to let it go, he's really lonely and imagines Chewbacca is his friend, or his mom keeps kicking him out and telling him to meet new people.
Storm season begins. Tropical Storm Arlene is preparing to slam into Louisiana and Florida. You would think with all the destruction that happens in those two states that real estate would be cheap, but you would be wrong. That's the nice thing about being in the land-locked Midwest. We only have to worry about tornados. Nothing really water related. Good luck Deep South and coastal towns. That's the price you pay for the lovely places you live.
and finally:
Students (and parents) suing to become valedictorian. Most schools allow the valedictorian to speak at graduation and give that person a little plaque. Granted it looks good on an application or resume, but seriously, don't most of us just want to hurt the valedictorian a little? I am firm believer that the student speaker at graduations should not be the valedictorian. Why? Because alot of times the "smartest person" in your class does not necessarily speak for everyone. That's why I was so glad to hear that my old high school had two students speak. One was voted for by the students, and the other was voted in by the faculty. Apparently, both speakers were extremely interesting and were able to speak to everyone in the crowd. The problem I have with bringing lawyers into it is that you look extremely petty doing that. One girl in Texas, for example, sued because the valedictorian chosen over her had two less AP classes then she did. This person still had a better GPA, but she didn't care. That's petty and sad. Get over it and succeed in life. Do better than the person that beat you and then turn around and crush them. That's how you really win. Not by using a lawyer, but by using your brains.

Doctor Feelbad

I don't like hospitals, and I'm not too fond of doctors either. There's something so wrong with today's medical setup. Most people want a doctor to be extremely quick about diagnosing what's wrong, but to still be very human and warm when talking to the patient. With the amount of stress and work put upon these people, it's nearly impossible. That's why so many nurses do a great deal of the work now. The doctor only makes a cameo.
I, for one, never felt a need to go into medicine. A lot of people, when they were kids, talked about how they would be a doctor. I never did. Personally, I do everything I can to avoid seeing a doctor or going to the hospital. If I can fix the problem myself (and this goes all the way to bone sticking out of the skin), then I'll do so. Why? Because in my experience, the doctors I have seen have all been pompous and annoying. If the doctor is a surgeon, hell, that's a great quality, because it means they think they're great and probably are. If you're in general medicine, however, and you work with people, I don't care about speed, I care about personality. It's the personality of the doctor I have been seeing that makes me want to switch.
When I first moved to Minnesota, I had an awesome doctor. She (yes, I saw a female doctor) had a quick wit, a great sense of humor, and actually knew how to talk to people about their ailments. However, she couldn't deal with the
clinic's ever-changing policies, so she left for Chicago one night. I was passed off to her replacement. We'll call him Dr. C. At first glance, he appears to be a nice Jewish boy from Minnesota. However, over the course of three years, he has gone from nice guy to royal pain in the ass. Let's start with our first meeting.
I had to get a physical when I applied for graduate school as my undergrad had lost my medical records (not so much lost as thrown away, but whatever). At first, he seemed nice. I missed Dr. S, but I didn't say anything as that would be rude. However, little bits of his real personality appeared during our first meeting. When we started talking about our pasts, he was not thrilled with the fact that I was not a native Minnesotan. He then started telling New Yorker jokes. You've heard most of them. His were essentially Polish jokes with New Yorkers as the butt of the joke. The jokes weren't what bothered me. It was the fact that he was hurt when I didn't laugh. Honestly, they weren't funny.
Fast forward to seven months later. I had an ear infection and was very sick. Like I said, I really hate doctors and hospitals, so I waited until I knew that my own immune system couldn't beat the sickness. The first thing he says to me? "Why did you wait so long? You think you're a tough guy or something?" Now, remember that I have an ear infection and am very sick. Dr. C ends up thrusting his medical tool very hard into my ear (maybe he was having a bad day) and pushes on my ear drum pretty hard. Any guesses how that felt? You in back? Damn straight it hurt. When I yelped, his response was, "Ohh. So you're not really a tough guy?"
The most embarrassing moment, however, and the reason I am changing doctors came at my last visit. I was getting another physical and the clinic was swamped with people. The whole Asian Bird Flu scare was sweeping the nation. So Dr. C's patients were all coming in scared. I was not scared, and I was not there for that, so I was relegated a room that faced the parking structure. In some ways it was nice, because I had sunlight in the room, but I also had people parking and waving at me. Dr. C came in, obviously still concentrating on his other patients. "Take off your pants," he barked at me. He went to the window, so I really thought he would close the blinds, but he didn't. I asked him if he would, and he told me, "I don't have the time, let's go." So, I was given a prostate exam in front of a few lucky people who were parking their cars. I just waved and smiled thinking to myself, "This is the last straw. I am so ditching this guy."

The real final straw came when he saw my wife after her allergic reaction. After looking at her chart and talking to her for a few minutes, he went into the hall, and, in a loud voice, he made rude comments about her to another nurse. That is a no-no. Again, I don't care about speed, but I care about professionalism and courtesy. When you are making fun of your clients, that's when you get dumped.
The other reason I thought about this is that when I was in St. Louis for my renunion, I was shocked at some of the people who had become doctors. One girl, in particular, used to be a roommate of my wife's. This girl was a stone cold bitch. When my wife was single, this roommate used to like rubbing that fact in her face. She had no people skills, but she wanted to work with children. Now she's a gynecologist. Honestly, I'm shocked anyone would see her. She had really cold hands ("I have poor circulation," she would say) and a cold personality. Not really the kind of person you want handling you newborn baby.
As for hospitals, I dislike them, because, to me, they have always represented where people I know go to die or have to possibility of dying. After my father had his triple bypass, I used to walk him around the wing he was staying in to see the other patients and to get him some exercise. Hospitals should be about hope. They're helping people to live longer, but as we walked around the rest of the patients didn't give off the vibe of hope. The place smelled of death. Next to my father was a burn victim that they said probably wouldn't survive. I listened to a doctor explain to a family how their mother was losing the battle with cancer and would be dead soon. There was no hope, except for my father. Of course that's because he's the kind of guy who would (and did) try to be the world's first heart surgery out patient (but that's for another post).
In the end, the problem with medicine now is that it is about money. Here in Minnesota, the hospitals have been placed into a tier system. If your insurance company covers everything, then any hospital is open. However, if you only get X amount of money then only hospital A-C and maybe D will take you. I don't care about the co-pay to see my doctor, but it's amazing to me how much things cost. I can by Benadryl for $2.85 at Walgreens, or I can see my doctor and get the same thing for $25. It's a racket. It's the problem with medicine. Doctors and insurance companies have stopped seeing us as people, and now look at us in terms of dollars and cents.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm too cynical, but I fear the day that I have to have surgery and right as they are about to work on me, they stop because I am two bucks short.
With my parents getting older and with family members being in and out of the hospital recently, I can only hope that the next generation of doctors realizes that being likeable is a necessary part of the job. You don't have to be liked, you just have to be likeable. Make it more about the people and less about the money.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Scripted Annihilation

Does anyone still think "Professional Wrestling" is real? Don't get me wrong, I know that the people involved really throw their bodies into it, and I know they really choreograph their "matches," but what I mean is: does anyone really think that it isn't a show? That there really is a spontaneity to it?
The reason I bring this up is that I watched wrestling tonight for the first time in a really long time. I was amazed at how well they timed everything. From the entrances, to the movement of the "matches", to how well some of the wrestlers spoke. It really felt like theatre. Really well done theatre. I know they call it "sports entertainment", but I get the sense it is now alot more entertainment now, then sports. In fact, after watching two hours, I noticed that they talked more than they performed. Out of roughly 96 minutes of show (the rest was commercials), maybe 40 minutes (less than half) was actually wrestling. The rest was posturing and talking and such.
My brother in law's brother used to be a professional wrestler. His name really isn't important (and I'm not sure that legally I can put it in here), but he had a good run until his back and neck forced him out. He made millions of dollars without ever having to go to college. David (not his real name) even has a hard time speaking, but the boy could pick a man up and slam him down, and that was enough to get him on TV. Anyone who doesn't think that wrestling is scripted, should talk to any current or retired wrestler, or they should watch a wrestling documentary. These are just a few of the "man behind the curtain" gems one can learn:
Storylines are fleshed out weeks in advance.
Wrestlers who are "bitter rivals" probably travel together.
Wrestlers will often times go over a script together before heading to the ring to "confront one another."
If a PPV (Pay-Per-View) is coming up, wrestlers might get in the ring before hand and go over what moves they will be using.
The announcers will sometimes have a guy on headset backstage who will feed them lines if needed.
I could go on and on, but I think you get my point. It's not real. The moves are, the athleticism is, but the characters and speeches are given to them.
Still, I wonder if anyone really thinks that none of it is pre-prepared and that these characters (and they are characters) are real? I mean come on: when I used to really watch wrestling (back when I was in college and probably inebriated) they had characters that were vampires and a bitter feud between two brothers, one of which was burned when a funeral home burned down. It was downright silly, but it was entertaining. Even David was given a backstory. His character was on the show as part of a gimmick. It became necessary for him to "enter the action", so to speak, and he impressed so much that he was "hired" on the spot.
So, if you're reading this and you STILL think wrestling is real, take a good long look at films like
Beyond the Mat or Wrestling with Shadows. Both of these films take a good look behind the scenes of the wrestling world.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Ding-Dong....Students Calling.

As I have mentioned numerous times, I am a teacher. Usually English, but sometimes I cover for Math or Social Studies. On one occasion I even covered a Chemistry class (very odd). As a teacher, I come in contact with a great many different personalities. With some of the students, I immediately click. With others, however, it's like pulling teeth. While it sounds odd, the teacher/student dynamic mirrors a typical relationship. Sometimes people hit it off right away and stay close to each other. Sometimes the relationship starts well, but over time the facades crumble, and the two people don't like what they see. Sometimes the two people are destined to never like each other. It plays out differently depending upon the people.
When it comes to the students I work with, I follow a very simple principle that many of my teachers and colleagues have passed on to me: It's important to be likeable, but don't bend over backwards to be liked. I have, unfortunately, seen teachers who do not understand this principle. One woman in particular actually canceled a test when the students said, "If you give us this test, we won't like you anymore." That's unfortunate when you give the students that much power.
I like alot of the students I work with. I cannot, off hand, think of a student that I dislike. Every single one of them has great qualities. Sure , they can be annoying at times, or even childish, but they are still in high school. It's unfortunate for them that they are in the most difficult time of their lives. They are expected to be adults without having the actual power and standing of an adult. But I digress....
When I was student teaching, I knew there would be a few students who would enjoy having me as a teacher. Every textbook, every teacher, and every colleague said this would happen. Some students will like having you as a teacher and will seek you out for counseling, or conversation, or whatever. However, they also mentioned that some students, regardless of how much they like you, will attempt to pull a prank on you. Now, you have to understand: I live about a half an hour away from the school where I was working. I figured that I would be safe because of that. I was wrong.
One fateful night, while the school was on a short break, I was visited by two of my students. The names are not important, but their actions are. I have to tell you that the story I am about to tell you is true. Even as I think about it, it sounds far-fetched, but having witnessed this, I can assure you it's true. I also have neighbors that will attest to the fact that this happened.
Late one night, two students felt that they would fork my lawn. How this idea came about is not really important. What is important is that they drove all the way to Robbinsdale from St. Paul (getting lost several times and driving the wrong way down a one way street to boot). Thinking that I would be asleep (which I wasn't), the students approached my house trying to make sure that it was, in fact, the right one. I was in my kitchen when I caught sight of them. Luckily the placement of my outdoor light blocks anyone from seeing what's happening in my kitchen but allows me to see them. So I took a seat at my kitchen table and watched the action ensue.
Having figured out that this was the right house, the students retreated to the car they had come in to get the forks. Unfortunately, one of them had the desperate need to pee (this is probably because they thought they would be done sooner). With no bathroom available, this student peed on the curb. At the same time, my neighbors across the street were becoming suspicious of the car parked out front. As the students descended on to my lawn and began planting the forks, my neighbors did what they thought was best. Rather than call me, they phoned the police.
At this point I am still sitting in the kitchen, while my wife is fast asleep. Right as I was about to go and scare my students, a cop pulls up. Now, if a cop pulled up and you were doing something wrong, what would you do? Maybe stop and explain? Well, these two ran for the car and drove off. The cop, probably in shock, pulled them over and grilled them. You see, these two were out after curfew, which upsets most cops. They pleaded their case with him and explained what they were doing. I can only imagine what he was thinking:
"Are you kidding me? This has got to be worst thing I have ever heard. I can't laugh at them, because it would look bad, but this is really funny. Stupid kids. I hope my teen doesn't act like this."
So, minutes later, as I was about to ascend to my bedroom, I see a spotlight shine through the windows of my house. This kind of spotlight is no stranger to me: It was obviously a police light. I returned to the kitchen window, ducking a little so I wouldn't be seen, to watch what was happening. My wife, who heard all the noise outside, came down and watched with me. As the officer looked on, the two students were patrolling my lawn and picking up the forks. I could tell from the light, that both of them were really embarassed, and they wondered or worried that this incident would be passed on to their parents. When they were finished, they left.
The next morning, I went out to survey my lawn. A few forks had been missed, but that was ok. my neighbors flocked to my lawn when they saw me and started asking me questions. I answered as best I could. When my neighbor told me that he had called the cops, I asked him why he didn't call me first. "I don't know. I guess I didn't think, just reacted." I makes sense, I just wish I could have scared the hell out of those two students. It wouldn't have been hard either.
The aftermath of this story is a great deal of fun as well. The two students were mortified when I thanked them (not by name) for aerating my lawn. After I finished saying it, there were two VERY red faces. They gave me the forks, which I, in turn, gave to the faculty lounge. The dirty ones were pitched, while the clean ones are still being used to this day. Every time someone takes a fork from the bag, I laugh.
You have to understand, I wasn't mortified by what these students were doing. I thought it was funny and showed that they actually liked me. They had to look up where I live, plan the prank, and then carry it out. That's alot of work for just a student teacher. They could have done this to one of their other teachers that lived near them, but they instead chose me. I have to admit I was flattered.
I still try to be friendly with those two students as well as many others. The dynamic between us has changed. I believe those two students have outgrown me and may be embarrassed by the fact that they went to such lengths for just me. I have not had a visitor since that day. Students have, however, called me at home. Most recently, they called me to let me know about a department party. They called me from the party and were upset that I wasn't there, but no one had told me about it, and I was out.
I look forward to developing a good teacher/student relationship with many students for years to come. I know there will be students that hate me, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there.
And to the two students who showed up at my home late one night: thanks.

The (Un)Friendly Skies

My wife left today for Ireland. No, she didn't leave me (yet). She's going for work for about two weeks. Am I sad? Sure. She's my best friend, so it's tough when I'm not really going to hear from her for a while. However, the Gods of Travel are not going to let this day go smoothly for either of us. Let's start with me.
After I dropped her off at the airport, I started back home with a long "honey-do" list. If you don't know what that is, then you're very lucky. Essentially it is a list given from one spouse to the other of things that should be done. Mostly women give them to men. In this case, both of us created the list for me. Anyway, my wife and I are known for usually forgetting something when traveling. Not anything large, mind you, but something that we invariably need at some point. When we went on our honeymoon to
Saint Lucia, we forgot our electrical adapter which meant we could not recharge our video camera. Luckily, we went to the city near where we were staying and were able to buy one. Just about every trip we've ever taken, either together or on our own, we usually forget something. Thus, there we were on the way to the airport making sure she had everything. I dropped her off and started back. However, once on 55, I noticed a small black object in the cup holder. Sure enough, my wife had forgotten her cell phone. She needed it in order to coordinate meeting her travel companion. So, I made a quick u-turn and started back. This is where the miracle of modern airports comes in to play, and by miracle, I mean Hell on Earth.
I made my way to the
Northwest Airlines desk and asked for help. Jules, the woman behind the desk, tried to pass me off at first. I, however, wasn't having it. So she called the gate. Gordon, the attendant at the gate, took her phone call, understood the instructions, and put the phone down. For ten minutes, Jules sat on the phone and listened to Gordon talk to a customer. Apparently he was flirting. With no other recourse, she sent me to a "Red Jacket." These are the people who stand in front of the check-in area and tell you what to do or where to go. Mary, the head "Red Jacket" of this area, got on her walkie and called down to the gate. Luckily, Yuko, another 'Red Jacket" took the call and came to meet me. I was able to pass on the phone and get it to my wife. Crisis averted. However, as easy as it was on MY end, it was much harder for my wife and her TC (travel companion).
TC was coming from
the Kansas City Airport and would meet Caroline (my lovely wife) at the Philadelphia Airport. When she arrived at the check-in counter, she was told that her ticket did not exist (even though she had the printout in her hand). Thus began a horrible 45 minutes for TC as she worked to get on the plane. Meanwhile, my wife had gotten on her plane only to be delayed due to a passenger fainting. The passenger was half awake and kept saying, "Don't you take me off this plane." However, under FAA rules, the passenger has to get off and prove that they can fly now. Finally, after 25 minutes, the flight is under way. Now, Northwest has decided that they have to save money, because they are SO far in the hole right now. Instead of raising ticket prices or something reasonable, they cut all free food, pillows, and blankets from their flights. If you want the small bag of pretzels now, you have to pay two bucks. That's annoying, but that's for another post all together.
At 4:20 PM Eastern Time (yes, that's funny, you stoners) my wife landed in Philadelphia, and the horror began. See, Philly's airport is really complicated. See, there are seven terminals with the A Terminal broken into East and West. This is the story that my wife related to me:
I landed here and immediately knew something was wrong. All the lines to get to the other terminals were huge. It turns out that several of the x-ray machines are broken, because the air conditioners above them broke and drained down. Thus the machines are all shorted out. So the airport is unbearably hot and has huge lines to get around. After an hour, I was able to get to A West, but they didn't like how my ticket looked (Apparently Philadelphia frowns on airlines printing tickets for each other). So I had to go over to A East to reprint the boarding pass, but when I got there, they told me that the boarding pass was fine. So I returned to security to go to my gate. They stopped me again and told me to go back. So now I return to the counter again and tell them that security sent me AGAIN. Their response? "Those idiots." They then sent me back with a note. A NOTE! I felt like it was high school again.
Having just talked to her only minutes ago, I know that TC made it, and they are sitting together stewing and waiting to board the plane. My wife is ready to sleep away her anger and wake up refreshed for her irish morning.
Without going off on a rant, this is part of the overall problem with traveling now. Security doesn't talk to the gates, the gates don't talk to the front desks, and the counters don't talk to security. Remember when I talked about how
miscommunication is one of, if not the biggest, problems with society? This helps prove it. They don't talk to each other. Security really doesn't care about the passengers. The overall problem with flying now is that whereas it used to be this luxury where pilots were gods, and the passengers got all gussied up, now flying is almost like taking a bus. Everyone's rude, it's overexpensive for little quality, and the airports are way too crowded now. I can only hope that the maintenance workers aren't upset about losing their pensions or being laid off and take it out on the passengers by doing shoddy work on the planes. Look at what happened here in Minnesota where two planes on the ground hit each other. Is it coincedence that this happened not long after Northwest announced it would be cutting more jobs? I don't know. All I know is that I hope the rest of my wife's flights go smoothly. I also hope that my upcoming flights go smoothly as well. Who knows, maybe I will have an experience next week that rivals what happened to my wife today. I don't want to, but you never know.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Secret's Out

Here is another website that you should all check out. I complain about art all the time. Modern art drives me nuts in the sense of what truly is art, but this site has pieces that really are art. Let me explain.
When I was a senior in high school, the art school across the street invited us over to their students' final project gallery. The group of us, expecting paintings and sculptures, were disappointed beyond belief. The first artist had plates of food. The first plate was a hamburger titled, "Falling Down." Huh? I didn't get it then, and I still don't understand now. Most of the artists did similar things. The only one that seemed to really make sense was a boxing showcase. The artist had trained with a boxer to learn how to spar. Then he taped the matches and played them back in slow motion so that the viewer could see how the body moves when punching. That was the art: the way the body moved. I could see how that was art. On a sad note, the final night of that exhibition had the student actually fighting in the ring against a professional boxer. The boxer swung too hard and hit the artist in the head with a killing blow. According to the paper, the blow caused an anuerysm which killed the artist. The boxer was crushed and apparently retired because of it.
Now, as an adult in a town with a large art community, I once again see things that make me question what exactly art is. As I mentioned in a
previous post, my wife and I went to the Walker on the night after Wolfgang Puck's restaurant opened. We walked around the Walker while waiting for our reservation and looked at all the art. Some of it was beautiful and interesting, but some of it, in my opinion, just could not be called art. One artist just put a toilet on a pedestal. The title of the piece? "Toilet." It was just an American Standard toilet placed on a platform. How is that art? I get that there is found art, but a toilet is just not really art to me. Yes, one could argue about the form of the toilet, but this toilet was not made by the artist. No, no, no, no. It was the same kind of toilet you would find at Home Depot. Next to that toilet was a car hood. Was it painted? No. And, according to the plaque, it was, "the hood off of a Chevy Malibu." Huh? Again, how is that art? How is someone getting paid to do that? Maybe I could do some art. How about this: I'll stick a pipe into a small platform. At the top of the pipe, I'll paint a few blood red marks. With me so far? Ok, I'll title the piece, "Family Ties." That sound weird? Ah, but we haven't gotten to the true part of modern art: the back story. See, in my opinion, all of modern art is really about the story that explains why it's art. For "Family Ties," the back story is that my father had to escape the Holocaust as a child. So he on one end of the pipe is the blood of his history, but the pipe is secure to the ground which represents his new family in his new country. How about that one? Ready to give me a grant?
So why do I bring all this up? Because Post Secret, to me, is actually art. The combination of stories along with the creative ways of delivering those tales comes across as real art to me. Go through some of the postcards and look at how the people reveal their secrets. It's quite stunning and artistic. I also bring up this website, because my postcard has been accepted (I will not say which one it is). So, enjoy the art and support your local galleries. While I may not agree that some things are art, we need places where we can view these pieces.

The Problem with "Deceny"

If you go to the dictionary and look up the definition of the word decency, this is what you find:

Decency: 1. conformity with moral standards. Behavior or attitude that conforms to the commonly accepted standards of what is right and respectable. 2. Modesty. Modesty or propriety.

Ignoring the second definition, I really want to talk about the first part. You see, more and more in this country, we are hearing cries of "indecency" aimed at television, movies, music, theatre, and basically anything that happens outside of our homes (though there are also arguments about what certain people do in their homes, but that's for another post). However, if you look at the definition of decency, you see my problem: It "conforms to the commonly accepted standards..." Who decides what the typical standards are? For example, I don't think the whole Janet Jackson thing was that bad. I think it got blown out of proportion.
Want a more recent example? No problem. The International Movie Database (or
IMDB for short) reported that Disney had to "digitally reduce" Lindsey Lohan's breasts for the upcoming Herbie film. Apparently members of the test audience felt that she was "too raunchy." This is, unfortunately, a true story. Essentially, the test audience is saying that because she is busty, she is inappropriate and indecent. That's insane. What's next? No fat people, because it might make us think of the obesity epidemic? No gay people, we don't want kids getting ideas. Wait, let's digitally make Ben Affleck African-American, so that there's more diversity in this film.
It goes beyond film as well. In Oregon, back in 2002, several high schools re-made their English and History curriculums and dropped any texts that dealt with war or death. Why? Because they felt kids are too inundated with images of war and death in the news, so why should they read about it in the past. That's totally and utterly ridiculous, and, to me, that is indecent. Sorry kids, you can't read the Red Badge of Courage or watch this documentary on the Civil War, because you already see war images in the media. That's unfair and restrictive to learning.
And then there's
the PTC, or Parent's Television Council. I applaud the fact that this group wants to make the world, "better for children," but their methods and choices of what is decent is way too (for lack of a better term) Christian. Wow, 7th Heaven's lead is a preacher. Big shock that they like the show. They go after shows, like Nip/Tuck, which is on cable television at night. They attack Penn and Teller, because their show, which is based on their own opinions, says that religion has been transformed into a weapon used on the masses. That's why it's called an opinion. It's what they think. Yes, they might be trying to sway people to think like them, but that's no reason to attack them. And why doesn't the PTC ever go after the local news or the cable news stations? When I was a child, my mother would not let me watch the news. I could read the newspaper and magazines like Time or Newsweek, but I could not watch CNN or Channel 11 news in New York. Why? Because the news was more graphic then what was on television. For example, I was in California last year. My wife and I got to go to Wine Country. Late one night, we got in to the room we were staying in and decided to watch the local news to get the weather. What's the lead story? "Death on the Freeway!" They showed up close images of the car wreck and the bodies. There was the medical team carting away a bloody man and putting him in the ambulance. The next story dealt with a guy who took hostages, and they showed the SWAT team going into the house. Hell, look at our cable news now. How many times a day do we see images of people hurt by bombings or images of war? Yet we won't show Saving Private Ryan which is the same thing? That's hypocritical, and that's the problem with saying we should let popular opinion decide what is decent.
Do I have the solution? No. I wish I could make it easier for everyone to agree. I understand that an eight year old kid should not be watching Cinemax late night (also known as Skinemax). However, teenagers (and some kids) need to learn how life really is. When we don't let them learn about war, or sex, or whatever, we are cheating those kids in the name of ideals. It's not fair to them that they might have to learn about these things the hard way. And what does it say to your kids, parents, that you think that by watching a film where a teenager drinks your kids will start drinking. That's absurd. If you talk to them about what they saw, that might help put it in perspective. Think about it this way: what happens when you tell a kid, "no." Do they ALWAYS listen, or do they try to rebel by ignoring? That's why you should talk to them about what they are seeing.
More and more I hear about the moral decay in this country and how deceny needs to be restored. I don't agree. I think that instead of creating oppressive rules and doing silly actions to films (I mean come on, digitally changing cup sizes? That's so stupid), parents should talk to their children about the images they will or have seen. Keep your kids educated instead of ignorant, and I promise you, the results will be much, MUCH better. The world is better when it's open, not forbidden.