Friday, June 17, 2005

Ramblings for the Morning (6/17/05)

Ok, one more post before heading for the bus of the sky (or my Northwest flight).
Tom Cruise proposes to Katie Holmes on top of the Eiffel Tower.
In Paris? That's so cliche. Seriously though, I hope they're happy. The whole thing really does feel like a publicity stunt, but who cares? It's their lives to do with what they want, and we should just respect that. My question is will sections of Dianetics by L. Ron Hubbard be read at the wedding? Now, media hounds, go find some real news.
Minnesota now is now "7th" among states with lakes.
Apparently a new study was done where if a body of water could be seen with a sattelite, it was counted in this study. So, which state is now numero uno when it comes to bodies of water? It's Texas! That's right, the Lone Star State has the most amount of bodies of water (man-made or otherwise) that can be seen from a sattelite, thus it has around 370,000. My question is this: Did they count every pool that was shaped like a boot if it was big enough? Honestly, without the lakes, what does Minnesota have that it can pride itself on? "Come to Minnesota, land of passive-agressive tendencies." No, that doesn't work. How about, "Minnesota, we're right by Canada!" We'll let's just wait and see how this plays out.
The incredibly violent and cute cartoon.
Holy cow. The cartoon
Happy Tree Friends is incredibly violent with cutesy characters. You see these little squirrels or Lumpy the Moose, and your first thought is, "Awww. Cuuuuttte." Then someone's face is crushed by a sign, or an eyeball is cut in place of a lemon, and that feeling turns to utter dread. In that way, it's the perfect allegory for someone learning the truth about modern American society. On the outside, it appears to be a wonderous place, but once immersed in it, society begins to eat away at your rose-colored glasses....Sorry, went off on a tangent. Check out the cartoon, but make sure you have a strong stomach.
It must be a slow news day in New York.
The cover story of the
New York Post is about a girl whose yearbook picture is bad. That's not really worthy of the cover story. There's war, death, and other unhappy and major events going on, and the Post is worried about one bad photo? Hey, where the heck were you when I got my first license picture? Where were you when most of America was getting its yearbook photos taken? This is not cover story material. What about the former Klansman who fell ill during his trial? How about the fact that U.S. launched another big operation in West Iraq? No, that's just not as important as an 11 year old girl with a bad yearbook photo. Sorry doctors who cured cancer. You're relegated to page 15, because the Post has a picture of two dancing seals. Top story tonight: Seals dance in circles! see pages 1,3, & 4!
I got (more) hatemail.
It's true, it's true. A person known as "Super Republican" (with the power of PORK SPENDING!) sent me an email about how people like me are the reason this country is falling apart. Why? Because I made fun of the fact that I was invited to this town hall meeting. I'm sorry, I didn't realize the humor makes me unAmerican. Hey, do we still have those camps in California? We could round up every single comedian in the world and put them in those camps. But wait, it would have to be anyone who makes a joke, so that means Republican and Democratic pundits are going too. Wow, this could rival the Holocaust. Look, I'm just a guy putting his opinion out there. You don't have to like it, and you don't have to read it, but why take the time (at 1 in the morning no less) to write an angry email about how I am going to, "burn in Hell," and how my making fun of the fact that the current government thinks that I am a senior citizen (which is a problem in my honest opinion) means that I am, "unpatriotic." And why does every person who argues for this administration use, "If you don't love it, then leave it"? Look, I like this country. I just dislike the people in it. I like the amber waves of grain. I dislike the greedy corporations that rape those waves. Our government is supposed to be the greatest in the world, but then how is it that they think I'm 65? How is it that they treat their voters like second class citizens? I'm just making observations here. That shouldn't mean that I "hate America," Super Republican.
A new survey shows that people don't want to go out to the movies anymore.
Many of them said that it is "too far to go." That's a commentary on the state of the U.S, folks. The movie theater is too far to go? This survey was done in major cities. They cited New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Miami, and Seattle. How can the movie theatre be too far away, when there's one every few blocks. A majority of those asked also said it would just be easier to wait until the film is on television. I don't know about the rest of you, but I really do love (and I'm using "love" here) going to the movies. There's something about it. It's why I get so mad when people treat it like they're watching television. There's a magic that happens in the movie theater that doesn't happen on a television screen. It's like being locked away from the world. So it saddens me that people feel that the movie theater is just too far for them.
And finally: School's officially out.
Yep, the students are all on summer break. I already don't hear from them anymore. The jury's out on if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Many of them have taken off on adventures out of this country. Good for them. Have fun while you're young, because when you enter the working world, life starts to move faster.
Ok, off to the airport.

Secret Agent Man

I know he won't like this, but what the hell. I don't think he'll ever read it.
I am convinced that my father is a secret agent or at least working for one of the big three of the government (namely CIA, FBI, or NSA).
Ok, consider this evidence:
1. He was (and still is) always traveling. He's a history professor, but he was always out of the country on "necessary trips." That's really suspicious to me. When I was in college, he started being invited to the Vatican to, according to him, "act as a judge in their film festival." Now, my father is a German Jew. He came to this country in 1938. Why would the beacon of Catholicism ask for him to judge Christian films? That's like asking Evander Holyfield to judge a Ballet competition (Yes, I know he's on that dance show, but he's competing there).
It's not just the Vatican, however. When I was younger, he would go to Germany to teach classes. He went to Moscow (I don't remember what for, but I believe it was a conference). He spent alot of time in England, which leads me to....
2. A good deal of his friends are former spies or involved with the "Sanitation Department". Ok, I can't really name names (because they could get in trouble, or I could get in trouble), but I heard all these stories about how this guy was a spy for England, this guy has worked for the CIA for years, etc, etc, etc. One person, we'll just call him Nicky, introduced himself to me like this:
"Hello, I'm [Nicky]. I'm an old friend of your fathers. I used to be a spy in the British government."
How is that not suspicious? And of course, it would be easy to remain a spy if you just tell everyone you are. (I mean who would believe you?)
Nicky is not the only person who's quite suspicious. There's Mr. M, a Caribbean man who owns a car that rivals James Bond's. This man constantly refers to my father as, "boss," and seems to always be there when my father is in trouble. Not too long ago, my father got a ticket in Harlem. One cop pushed him forward, and the other cop tagged him and ticketed him. Mr. M took my father to court, did most of the talking, and got my father out of the ticket. All he needs is a bowler that can cut off heads, and he's
Another associate is Mr. C, who is somehow tied to "Sanitation Department" (don't make me spell it out for you, or we might have a MOB scene). Every once in a while, my father talks about asking him for a favor. It kinda creeps me out.
3. His last few books have been about the CIA and the FBI. He wrote a very successful novel called I was a Communist for the FBI! (
Buy it now, kids!) His latest work deals with George Orwell and his ties to the CIA. I remember when I was in high school that he was considering writing a book for the NSA after being invited to one of their conferences. Hell, for a short time, I was a part of ASIS (American Society of Industrialized Security). I went to their conference in St. Louis, and when several people saw my name was Leab, they asked me how my father was doing. That was creepy. He now edits a journal dealing with Communism. I tell you, I really wouldn't be surprised if he turned out to be an agent.
4. He looks like an agent. Ok, the man wears sunglasses twenty-four hours a day. I can remember going to several films with him where he wore his sunglasses, because he "forgot" his real ones. Come to think of it, he would sit on the aisle and leave during the film to, "get more popcorn," and would return with nothing. Movie Theatres make great meeting places....Just a thought....Anyway, he has these glasses. He wears these hats that scream, "This man is a former agent!!!" Ever seen
Hopscotch? My father dresses like the Walter Matthau character. He has the coat, the hat, and the glasses. He walks in such a way that is very stealthy at times, and he can move through rooms without being noticed. He has this ability (and maybe it's because he's a dad) to listen to a phone conversation without ever being noticed. His television is constantly on C-SPAN as if he is waiting for his signal. All William Black has to do is touch his nose three times, and my father is off to the Vatican. I don't know. I sometimes think the whole historian thing is a perfect cover.
5. The man has the most suspicious stories. When I was kid, he drove up to Connecticut to go to a meeting. He took the dog with him. It was snowing that night and apparently, according to him mind you, the roads were really bad. Now while he was in Connecticut, he flipped his car. He managed to land on his wheels, however, so he kept going. The dog, however, was traumatized. She would never go near a car again without peeing herself (I'm not kidding). He says it was because the roads were slick, but the car looked like it had been hit. We joke in my family that he is a bad driver, because he did not learn to drive until he was 42 (again, so he says). However, I sometimes look at his accidents, and my mind starts seeing that his stories sometimes can't add up. It's impossible for someone to be in the wrong place at the wrong time for so many occurences.
Another time I went to Germany with him. He had a very small, very spartan apartment. He got into an accident on the Autobahn while I was there. He ended up being gone that day for over ten hours. How is that possible? When he visited me before leaving, he was with two rather tough looking policemen. I think they were escorting him to meet a man. He says they were questioning him. I don't buy it. They looked very uncomfortable and slightly scared. It was odd.
and finally, 6. The man gets things done! Holy cow, he almost never fails. He started a late run for the school board and won in almost a landslide. (I sense ballot stuffing....Just like Kennedy!) He once led a revolt in the Detroit airport when the flight he was on was canceled, and they tried to screw the passengers. Legend has it that he got up on a desk and started screaming to other passengers to follow his lead. (I sense organizing....Just like Hoffa!) He seems to have the ability to walk into a room, shut the door, and walk out twenty minutes later with everyone on his side. Is he James Bond? No. That person can't be real anyway, but he has this ability to make people see his point of view. In recent years, he's had to resort to raising his voice now and then, but it still gets the job done. It's amazing and kind of frightening. It's almost as if he did a background check on my wife and her family before meeting them. He knew alot for only one conversation. Maybe he sent out his network, I don't know.
As he get older, I see my father relaxing into a "Charlie" type position. He's the voice and the brains, and he sends the younger folk out to do the work.
So, if you see him, watch out. He might be listening to your phone calls, he might know more about your signifcant others than you do. If I don't post in the next few days, look for me at Gitmo, or maybe in the Hudson.... (speaking of which, I will be out of town for the next few days, so look for my next post on Monday.)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

An Open Letter to Teachers, Corporations, and More...

Dear Anyone (teachers, corporations, etc) who uses Power Point,
I am so sick and tired of these terrible presentations. As of this moment at 11:25 PM on June 16, 2005, I officially am making a new rule regarding Power Point: No one can now create a presentation where they sit there and just read what they wrote to the crowd. In the class I am taking this summer to finish my Master's degree, the woman teaching the class has used Power Point twice already (we've only had two classes including tonight). In both cases, she clicked through the screens and just read what was written. Here's what I mean:

(Teacher clicks in screen 1. It reads, "What's a research hypothesis?")
"Ok, so what's a research hypothesis?"
(Teacher clicks to screen 2. It reads, "It states an expected relationship or difference between two variables.)
"It states an expected relationship or difference between two variables." (and this goes on for over an hour. An hour!)
Nothing was added to it, no questions were allowed, and the students were not allowed to discuss the points until the presentation was over. That is NOT a proper use of Power Point. It is supposed to add to what you are speaking about, not be the only thing you talk about. This is not limited to only the education world. This goes for the Engineers at Boston Scientific. I saw your presentation on CNBC last year. All your man did was read the different screens to the crowd and television audience. It made you look foolish, and it embarrassed me.
Look, I have used Power Point in my classroom. However, I didn't just read through each screen and keep moving. No, no, no, NO! That's boring to the audience, and it means that the presentation is pointless. That's like just standing in front of the room and reading the book. How do people learn that way. When you just read instead of expanding, you make the audience look like they are incapable of understanding what you are talking about. Don't make your shareholders, or students, or whatever feel that way. You'll lose them. That's bad for business, people.
All you have to do is banter. That's it. Don't just read what's written on the screen, add to it, have a dialogue with your audience. Keep it interesting, otherwise it's pointless and boring.
Thanks for your time, and I hope this new rule works for you.
Disgruntled Luddite (Leab)

The Jumper

Anyone who has been reading this blog might remember when I talked about modern art. Well, once again, an artist has done something completely different, and it has gotten him in trouble. Mr. Skarbakka's decency has been called into question, he apparently has received death threats already, and he's not done. Now, I mentioned before that modern art is really not about the piece, but about the story that explains the piece. Mr. Skarbakka (whose piece is called, ironically, "Life Goes On") is jumping off of a building and taking pictures to try and figure out what the people in the World Trade Center buildings were thinking before they jumped.
To me, this sounds more like a psychological experiment instead of an art project, but the key to modern art, one artist told me, is to push the boundaries of what makes people feel safe. Back in 2002, not long after the city started to settle down, an art student at NYU decided to try a different kind of art project. He (I always heard it was a he, so if it was, in fact, a she, I apologize) placed black boxes at Subway stops. They were simply labeled, "FEAR," in big letters. People saw these boxes and panicked. Apparently, if I read and remember the story correctly, he placed a small camera inside each box, and the art of the piece came from the people's reactions to this box. At the time, it was declared that this piece was tasteless, wrong, and hurtful to the dead. However, years later, it is very popular. The site where the images were on the internet has been closed down recently, but if I ever find another site with the images, I will post it.
Back to the matter at hand, however. Right now everyone thinks that Skarbakka is insane and tasteless. Though I understand his art, I don't really think of it as art. However, this is no worse than the "Voodoo Mona Lisa" or the "Mother and Child" painting made out of elephant crap. Those are considered art pieces regardless of how the general public feels.
The bottom line is this: you should not judge Mr. Skarbakka by the way he achieves his artistic pieces, but by the pieces themselves. Look back over history for examples. The German and Jewish artists who worked out their feelings from the Holocaust by putting them down on paper. Do we condemn an artist because he or she drew or took pictures from places people were murdered? How else can some people achieve closure? What about the photographers who won Pulitzer Prizes for their photos in war or even during 9/11? Should we revoke their prizes, because they took photos of a tragedy?
I cannot give you a definitive answer, but I can tell you that in my opinion I don't think that Mr. Skarbakka is really doing anything wrong. I may not really understand modern art, nor may alot of people, but as long as some people get it, then the artist should be allowed to continue.

Hilton...Stewart... Running Feather?

This is hysterical. How funny would it be if people like Paris Hilton and Martha Stewart had to either pay rent to or give up their houses to the Shinnecock tribe? Granted $1.7 Billion dollars is a ton of money (split up over the 1,300 members of the tribe, it's about $1.4 million each), but that entire area, if resources were pooled, can afford it. What I love is that people in New York are already saying that this is just a ploy by the tribe, so that they can get their own casino out there. Huh? They lose their land almost 150 years ago and are relegated to a reservation, and this is about a casino? Somehow, I don't think so.
I know that the residents won't have to give up their houses, because the tribe is only really going after commercial areas, which makes sense, but I have this vision of Martha Stewart doing her new TV show from her Hampton home and having to talk about her sponsors:
"Thank you to K-Mart for selling my wares. Thank you to Williams-Sonoma for supplying me with the cookware. And finally, I would like to thank the Great Spirits and the Shinnecock tribe for allowing me to be on this land."
They say good things come to those who wait or are patient. Maybe this is the Shinnecock's time.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

An Apology

I want to apology for the ranting nature (and length) of the previous post. I just get really riled up sometimes when falsely accused of prejudice. I knew people in college who used their backgrounds (ethnic or otherwise) to their advantages when it came to classes and jobs. I understand that it is difficult to be a homosexual in America right now, because the majority of the country sees it as an unholy evil, but that's no excuse to take your anger out on a heterosexual who you don't know.
That's all. Once again, I apologize for the ranting nature (and length) of the previous post, and I hope you will continue to read regardless.

Thoughts for the Evening of 6/15/05

Once again, it's time to rattle around my brain to see what's troubling me. Warning: Coarse Language may be used. You've been warned.
Homosexuals are the new 2nd class citizen.
Move over African-Americans and get out of the way Hispanics, Homosexuals are the new 2nd class citizens in the U.S. Why? Well, basically it's no longer ok to pick on ethnicity, so now we hit sexual orientation.
1. Homosexuals aren't allowed to marry. This is the most screwed up thinking. People get upset because they believe that gay people are promiscuous. Fine, but then if that same person tries to marry, they are (and I quote a fellow student in my Master's class), "offending and upsetting God." Wow! Is that all it takes? Forget rape boys, just tell your local priest/minister/ guru that you're marrying Steve. That'll be enough to anger God apparently. Honestly, in my opinion, it's crap. We hear a whole bunch about God's love of humanity. How is not allowing two people to share their love in front of God and witnesses keeping with that philosophy?
2. Homosexuals are the new "Go to" joke. Remember how it used to be a Rabbi, a Priest, and fill in the ethnicity walk into a bar? Well, now it's homosexuals. I will share with you a joke that a student told me on Monday. I warn you (which means you can't sue me or get upset at me) that it is, unfortunately, very narrow minded:
An Italian, a Jew, and a Homosexual all die and go to Heaven. (Author's note: See, Homosexuals do get to go to heaven. Take that Jerry Falwell!) God agrees to send them back if they will agree not to do the thing that the love the most. Bam, their back. Immediately, the Italian sees an Italian restaurant. Well, Italians love to eat more than anything. So he goes in, with the others in tow, and orders a pizza, as he is paying, he takes a bite, and poof, he disappears. The money falls to the floor. Well, a Jew's favorite thing is to take other people's money. So he bends over to grab the coins, and just before he reaches them, the Homosexual disappears...
That's a terrible joke. Unfortunately, it's all the rage now to make fun of gay people. Hell, coaches still use it when motivating teams.
and finally, 3. Homosexuals are the new people to blame.
I hear all the time about how the problems in this culture can be blamed on Homosexuals. Huh? Really? Homosexuals created poverty? Homosexuals planted the Weapons of Mass Destruction? I don't remember hearing about that. Is that because the Homosexuals control the media? Oh no! Maybe I've discovered a new conspiracy theory. That's right it's really the
Queer Eye for the Straight Guy group that's at the head of the problems in this country. Hell, Jerry Falwell said it was the Jews and Homosexuals fault that 9/11 happened.
Look why do we always have to find a specific group to turn on? We have done it this way since this country was founded. At least in the beginning, it was white on white (Americans and British). Then we went after all the non-white people. Native Americans, Africans and African-Americans, Hispanics. Is it really that because there's no more ethnicities to go after that we now turn our attentions to sexual preferences? Come on, folks, we're better than this.
Now, that being said, there is a part II to this thought
Homosexuals should not lash out at Heterosexuals for no reason.
I have acquaintances and friends (and even stalkers) who are Homosexual. I don't think of them as Homosexual. It's just not the first thing that springs into the mind. Today, while working out at the gym, I was called, "a Breeder" and was called a, "closed-minded bigot." Why? Well I'll tell you.
You see, I usually spend about 45 minutes on an elliptical machine. At the gym I go to, there are about fifteen of them in a row, and usually four or five are open. After stretching, I go to the machine and do my forty-five minute cardio. I love it. It's very freeing and allows me to burn off excess energy. Today, however, it became the center of my problem. I try to grab one of the machines that has a heart monitor so that I can make sure I'm hitting my target heart rate (I know, I'm a nerd). So, I got on the machine of my choosing and started. After five minutes (I checked the timer), a large woman came over to me and told me to, "get the hell off, "her machine. Now, I always check and ask people around if anyone is using that particular machine. Everyone said no. However, the story told to me by this woman was that she HAD been using the machine and left fifteen minutes earlier to use the restroom, then she was going to return to it. There was NO WAY anyone could know this. I apologized, but I said that there were three others open and she could use them. This is where I made my mistake. The following is the conversation between myself and the woman who will be known as Lynx Fan, because she was completely decked out in
Minnesota Lynx gear:
Me: (still working out) I'm sorry, but there are three other machines open, and you left no markers to indicate you were here.
Lynx Fan: That's bullshit. Everyone here saw that I was on this machine.
Me: Yes, you WERE on the machine, but you left fifteen minutes ago. You can't hold on to a machine for that long. That's not fair to everyone else.
LF: Well, I want this machine. Give it to me!
Me: No, maam. There are three more, now four, open and two of them have heart monitors. What wrong with those?
LF: This is MY machine. I always use this machine at this time of day. Give me my fucking machine!
Me: No.
LF: Is this because you saw me with my girl? Huh? Do you not like homosexuals?
Me: I'm sorry, what?
LF: You heard me Breeder. I'm so sick of your kind. If you have a problem with who I want to sleep with, don't use it against me.
Me: Huh? (at this point, I stop working out.) Did I say something to make you believe that I don't like homosexuals? Did I say a single thing? What the hell, lady? How do you know I'm not gay, and this (pointing to my wedding ring) isn't from my lover?
LF: Because you won't give me my machine. You're a closed-minded bigot. You hate homosexuals, and this is how you stand up to them.
Me: Lady, pardon my language, but you're a fucking fruit loop. I don't care if you like women, or horses, or your vacuum. There was nothing to say you were here. Get over it. Get a new perspective, and try a new machine. I'm not leaving. (And so I return to working out).
After ten minutes, she returns with another woman. This one is named Tracy, and she works at the club.
Tracy: Sir, I think you need to come with me.
Me: Why?
LF: Stupid bastard. I hate bigots.
Tracy: This woman says that you took her machine, called her names, and was acting in an unethical manner. Did you tell this woman that you took her machine, because she was a homosexual?
Me: No, maam, I did not. You can ask the woman who is working out on my left. This woman came over to me, told me that this was her machine when there was nothing marking it, and then proceeded to berate me when I wouldn't get off. She even called me a breeder. That is offensive.
LF: I never said that. Besides, he told me that he doesn't like homosexuals. He said that they would all burn in Hell.
Tracy: Sir, did you say that?
Me: No.
LF: You liar. You know you said it.
Tracy: Sir, I see her here almost every night. I haven't really seen you before right now. I know LF (not putting in her real name), and she's a good person. I believe her when she says you have a problem with homosexuals. I think you need to leave for the night, sir.
Now, I had no way to fight back. Part of the problem is that I am multiculturalism's worst enemy: a white man. I didn't want to fight with the attendant, because it would get me in serious trouble. However, it's not fair that a person can make claims about me that aren't true and automatically I'm guilty. I have no issues with homosexuality. I couldn't care less if two men or two women want to be together. That's their right, and that's their business, not mine. So it pisses me off when a person exploits a situation using tactics like LF did. That's wrong and it's unfair. What's next? Am I going to go in for an interview and not get the job, because a previous applicant said I was a bigot (which a version of this actually happened to me)?
Look, if calling someone a "fag" is iappropriate, then I think "breeder" should be too.
I really don't know why LF picked on me. Maybe she's not exactly right in the head. Maybe she got burned by a mate. Maybe she just had a bad day and wanted to make someone else's day bad as well. I can't tell you. I just think that the avenue has to go both ways. If you want people to treat you right, you have to treat them right. Yeah, I know it's like the Golden Rule, I get that. It just pisses me off when a group complains about how everyone treats them badly, and they get no rights, and then they turn around, and they treat people badly. It's crap, and it's angering.
Ah, now I'm just too worked up to think about anything else. I guess I'll just have to talk about Emma and the gang another time.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Don't Want to Be an American Senior (Sorry Green Day)

Warning, this post may contain coarse language. You've been warned, so no suing.
So I got this hysterical invite in the mail. Apparently President Bush is going to be visiting (unofficially) Maple Grove on Friday. He is planning on holding a town hall meeting to discuss Medicare and medical issues with senior citizens. He is looking for seniors that would be willing to discuss these issues with him. I, apparently, am one of those seniors. Yeah, here's the problem, folks. First of all, I'm not anywhere close to my sixties. To be a senior citizen (or old fart to the uncouth) in this country, a man has to be 65, and a woman has to be 62. How do I know this? I go to the movies way too much.
The second problem is that I am not really a Republican. Before you go off on me, you have to understand that I don't really like the Democrats either. They have essentially become the same party as this point, just with different backers and slightly different goals. For me, choosing to be Republican or Democrat is like asking me if I want to be shot in the left kneecap or the right one. I don't really want either. Yes, I do admit that I am not a fan of Bush. He honestly embarrasses me with his whole, "I'm one of you" schtick when he is really a Connecticut Blue-Blood. Honestly, he's starting to be like an American version of Prince Charles. The ears are just sooo big. The democrats aren't much better. Kerry frightened me. I did vote for him, because I just can't trust this administration. I mean why is it that oral sex can lead to impeachment, but misdirection that leads to war doesn't? But I digress, that's not what this is about.
So how did I get this card? Well, during my Master's program, I met a girl named Dara. She is your neo-conservative. Not a Republican, she goes beyond the Republican ideas straight to Christian Conservative. I call her Mini-Coulter, after
Ann Coulter (yes, I am putting a link here in the interest of fairness). I was her Bill Maher. (See, that's how you make it fair and balanced...FOX!) We would bicker and complain, at and about each other, but we got along very well. Unfortunately, during one class, I slammed her lesson plan and made everyone laugh. Because of that, she signed me up on every Republican site she could find. For the last election, I got letter after letter about the party. Now, I, of course, found out about it from one of the students who sat near her, so I signed her up for all the Democratic AND Independent (I'm meaner than she is) candidates. I also sent them to both her new house she was building as well as to her parents house. You can say it: that's incredibly mean. Still, if she hadn't signed me up, I wouldn't have been invited to this meeting.
I don't think I'm going to go for the simple reason that if I show up one of two things will happen. Either I will be arrested on the spot for false identity, and then media outlets will talk about, "the man arrested at the town hall meeting....Leab had a criminal record....He attempted to hurt the Pope, the POPE!" That wouldn't go over too well, I don't think. The other thing that could happen would be that I would get in and would ask President Bush either, "Mr. President, what are you really doing to ensure my and my students' futures, because it doesn't look like much right now." Or, and probably worse, I would stand at the microphone, clear my throat, and ask, "Mr. President, what the fuck?" Yeah, I don't think it would go over well either.
The bottom line is also that I don't want to deal with the security stuff. The frisking, the background checks (that would be a nightmare), the sycophantic people. It would be like when I saw the first episode of Star Wars: Some guy drooling about how great Bush is, and then cheering like the Vikings won the Super Bowl. It's not my cup of tea.
So, if you have a grandpa that wants to meet the Leader of the Free World, let me know. I can pass along my invite. I don't mind.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Paging Ms. Manners....

Say what you want, but common courtesy and manners are dying in this country. I don't mean knowing which fork to use when. No, I mean holding doors for each other, saying please and thank you, and realizing that other people might be present. Let's go through my day and look for examples:
Let's start when I headed down to St. Thomas this morning. As I got to the corner of my street, a person was waiting for all the cars to go by in order to cross. I decided to stop and let them. Did I get a wave? No. Did I get a thank you? No. This person just walked (slowly, I might add) across the street, stopping in the middle to check out what time it is. Fine, I let that one go.
When I arrived at St. Thomas, I got to the front door of Murphy at the same time as two other people. I decided to hold the door open for them. The first person went through without breaking stride or story, the second person quickly followed. Neither one said, "Thanks." Ok, fine, Person #1 was in the middle of a story. I understand that. However, I don't understand the next part. I followed behind these two people, when we got to the next door, I was a few steps behind, because I had held the other door open, so I figured they would do the same for me. I was very wrong. They walked through and let go of the door so it would shut right in front of me. This door is one of those Automatic Doors, so when it shuts, it has to complete its movement before it can be opened again. Because they did not hold the door, I had to wait until it shut and then open it again. That's just rude.
When I completed my tasks at St. Thomas, I decided I would head out for lunch. In Robbinsdale, there is a fantastic little Greek restaurant. It's called The Athens Cafe. I highly recommend it. Back to the point, however. Today at lunch they were very full. I placed my order to go and sat down at the lunch bar to wait. Persusing over my copy of the
City Pages, I figured it would be a short wait. I was wrong. Because of the lunch crowd, my order took longer, so I got to experience some wonderful aspects of life.
First of all, the guy sitting next to me kept reading over my shoulder. Now, next to the door, directly behind me, only ten feet away, was a stack of City Pages. However, Mr. Looky-Loo decided that he needed to look at mine. When I turned to keep him from reading, he actually said to me, "Hey! I was reading that." Are you kidding me? I don't know this guy. So I told him, "there are more over there," and pointed toward the stack. "It's too far. Let me share with you." I just stared at him slack-jawed. I gave him my copy and went and got another. Then I moved to a table in the back. That was my next mistake. You see in front of me was a rather large and rambunctious family. I don't care that the parents wouldn't stop the childern from running around the place. That's their business, but here are the things they did that made them rude and made me question the next generation's manners:
1. Their little girl (I heard Pam) who was easily ten or eleven, turned to her mother and said, "Get me more Coke!" When the mother said, "What do you say, Pam?" The little girl said, "Get me more Coke now, or I'll scream." I was really hoping this was a joke, but the dad said to his little girl, "shut up!" The mom still went and got her the drink, and when she returned, there was no "thank you," no "you're welcome," and no, "please."
2. Dad and Mom get into a rather LOUD discussion. I don't like to eavesdrop on conversations. I understand that it's rude. However, when two people are screaming at each other across a table so that they can heard two stores down (at the Walgreens), it's not really eavesdropping, is it? I understand that they weren't sure who was going to take the kids to camp on Friday, but for the love of Mike, don't air your business in public.
3. I want to preface that I have no problem with breast feeding. You want to do it, that's your perogative (thanks Bobby Brown. Enjoy rehab...again). However, please, when you're in public, cover up. This one gal sitting with Mom and Dad had a baby and was feeding, but she did not have a blanket or anything covering the kid. Then she walked around the restaurant to get napkins. How can you not look when she's almost leaning over you? Don't give me, "it's rude to stare," when you're in my face with a baby and breast. All it takes is a blanket. And don't wear a shirt that says, "Don't stare at my breasts!" If someone wants to read what it says, they'll have to look. Don't get so offended.
4. The final act was when I was leaving. Momma Bear was right behind me, so I opened the door and held it open for her. She stopped before walking through and just stared at me. I tipped my cap, and said, "maam." She just kept staring, and I just kept holding the door open. When she went through finally, she didn't say anything. She just looked at me. I told her to have a nice day, and she looked at me like I had cursed at her. I said it again. "Have a nice day, maam." She just kept looking at me.
Finally, there was the Post Office. Ok, I know that post offices always bring out the worst in people, but I was shocked to see young and old treat the postal clerks like crap. An old woman argued with the clerk about the cost of stamps. She refused to believe that there was tax. The worst, however, was what had to be a sixteen year old kid who argued with the clerk and finished the argument by telling her to (and I definitely quote), "suck his balls." That's ultra classy. No, seriously. It makes him look like a perfect gentlemen to tell a woman to suck him in front of a crowd. All because his card was rejected. Nice work, my friend.
I miss the classiness that people used to have. You could go to a movie and people wouldn't talk or answer their phones. Even insults used to be classy. Instead of just dropping the F-bomb, people would say things like, "He's a cruel man with a steady smile." (That's Ralph Nader on Reagan.) That's an insult that doesn't just rely on dirty words, and, even though it is an insult, it still rings with a certain class.
I don't know how to fix the problem. I wish I did. I just know that a large number of the students I work with are not very polite. They don't say excuse me, they cut people off, and they never say thank you. Let me make this clear: I am not saying ALL of them, just a large number of them, are this way. I hope that new parents will attempt to fix this problem by teaching their kids to say "please," and "thank you," as well as teach them about how to act in public. If not, then public life will get even more annoying. Now if you'll exucse me, I have work to do. Have a nice day. Can I get the door for you?

Is It Hot in Here?

All right, I am not an environmentalist. I do believe in taking care of the Earth, but I don't go as far as to grow plants that I will specifically use as toilet paper (there are those that do). However, I have said in the past that I believe that there is global warming. Many people argue that it doesn't exist. However, this morning USA Today says the debate is OVER (sorry, too much Iron Chef at two in the morning). That's right, the time for arguing is done, and it is time to take action.
So here's my problem: people have been saying for years there is a problem and big businesses and government have said, "no conclusive proof, you wackos!" However, now that religious groups and a few key businesses like
GE (General Electric) say there's a climate change, everyone is now saying we have to do something. Is that really how we're going to deal with problems for the rest of our time here on Earth? Unless a large corporation or a religious (in this case Christian) posse thinks it's a problem, we'll just ignore it? Can we get a corporation to rally against poverty?
Again, I am not a "tree-hugger", but even I thought there was global warming. When I mentioned it to some colleagues, I was laughed at. One of them called me "Chicken Little" (a popular term for people who question the norm), and still another told me that (and I quote), "God would never let something like that happen." How do you respond to that? Back to the point....
Our administration still is very light handed on the environment. Remember, they thought that the way to stop forest fires would be to level the forests. I'm simplifying their argument a little, but the basis was that with less trees, there would be less fire. Does that mean I can justify a killing spree and say less people means less crime? Hmm, too bad
Johnnie Cochran is dead. He could probably come up with some sort of catchy rhyme that would get me off the hook.
So, remember this when, in about five year, the planet is ten degrees warmer: right now many people do not believe that global warming is happening. Those people need to see what everyone else sees: the slow destruction of our home. Until we populate the moon, or Mars, or whatever, we're stuck here. Let's try not to screw it up too much more.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Mr. Optimist & Mr. Pessimist 6/12/05

And now: Mr. Optimist and Mr. Pessimist will debate how I should feel about the fortune I received in my fortune cookie.
Mr. Leab: We tossed a coin backstage, and Mr. Optimist won, so he'll go first. Here is the fortune: Your humor and personality are what draw people to you.
Mr. Optimist: Thank you, Mr. Leab. First, I would like to thank your brain for allowing me to be here tonight. I think this will go very well. Now, we need to look at the positive aspects of this fortune. First of all, people are drawn to to you. That's important to note. Why are they drawn to you? Because you have the ability to talk to them, you make them laugh, and you make them think. That's what humor and personality bring to the table.
ML: Response Mr. Pessimist?
Mr. Pessimist: I would like to start by saying that this will not end well. How do I know? Because it never does. Also, my leg hurts. It's probably cancer or because no one loves me. Now, what does it say that our fortune says that out personality is what people like? Does a person get to know your personality before they see you? Not unless they're blind. People see us before they speak to us. And with the way the world is now, don't most people make their judgements on how you look, not on how you sound?
MO: Wait, wait, wait. That's a generalization, my friend. Not everyone in the world decides who you are based on your looks. Otherwise Mr. L here would never have gotten married.
ML: Ummm. Thanks. Awesome.....
MO: If I may continue? Ok, let's say, for the moment, that people do base attractiveness on how you look. Eventually, you're going to have to talk to each other. No matter how often you sleep together, eventually, you'll get tired. Someone will want to talk. If you have no humor and no personality, then when you have nothing to talk about, you won't be sleeping with that person anymore.
MP: Spoken like a man who's never had a great "physical" relationship....
MO: That's low, man. Come on!
MP: Whatever.... May I continue now?
ML: Go ahead.
MP: You don't need to be able to "talk" if you're amazingly good looking. Have you ever heard someone say, "He's so great, just look at his personality" before? No. What makes someone "hot"? It's the way they look. They like the smile, the beautiful face and body. Is there a reality show on television that remakes a person's personality? Nope. Are their shows that change how you look? Hell yeah! This fortune is essentially telling Mr. L that he is not good looking, but at least he can talk.
MO: But wait! That's actually a positive thing. Even if, as you say, Mr. L is unattractive...
ML: You know, I'm right here gentlemen.
MO: ...then this fortune is truly, in fact, a compliment. You say people are drawn to each other because of looks, yet this fortune says that he is able to draw people to him because of his humor and personality. It never mentions looks. It's not saying he's ugly, just that his abilities to make people laugh and to make people think draws them to him. Maybe that's just on top of his looks? Did you ever think of that?
MP: I wish I could see life like you do. Where you see light, I see shadow. That's why I'll live longer. You live in a dream, I live in reality. I'm a realist. Look at Mr. L's students.
ML: Hey! No, no, no, no. We're not going there.
MO: Actually, I'm ok with him talking about this. It will prove my point.
MP: Oh really? Do you really think that the two students that asked him to Prom did it because they thought he was funny? I don't think so. They did it, because they thought he was good looking. It was error in their judgement, but it's probably how they felt.
ML: I love this. I'm right here! Can you see me? Helloooo? Don't talk like I'm not in the room. It's rude, gentlemen. And stop insulting me.
MO: Sorry.
MP: I'm not. I'm finished. My point is made. People come to you because of how you look. They leave because of who you are.
MO: You're wrong. Both the students who asked him to Prom as well as the students who came to his home did those things because he made them laugh and he listened to them. It had nothing to do with how he looks. He's always been called cute. Isn't that right?
ML: Sigh. Yes, I have always been cute. I am not, as Paris Hilton would say, "Hot."
MO: So his personality really is his draw. That's a good thing.
ML: Ok, ok. Enough. Let's get to the final arguments, PLEASE. Mr. P. You may go first.
MP: In this country, we value looks more than anything. Well, except maybe money. Every magazine deals with looking a certain way. I don't recall
GQ talking about personality. It's about looks. It's about fashion and more. How do we clue a friend that someone might not be good looking? "Oh, that person has a great personality." What's the first thing people notice? "Oh man, that person is hot!" It's not about how you talk, it's about how you look. Thus, his fortune cookie sealed his fate. He is not good looking, and God, or Fate, or Time, or whatever rules this universe is letting him know.
ML: Depressing. Rebuttal?
MO: Long ago, it may have been about looks, but in the modern age, we need the ability to talk. Ask any woman what they look for in a man, and "the ability to listen," and, "a sense of humor," are always the first things said. Whether or not they mean it is irrelevant. If you don't have the ability to make people laugh or if you can't carry a conversation, then people find you boring and abandon you. The fortune cookie said people are drawn to Mr. L because of his personality and humor. It never mentions his looks, that's just an assumption on your part. Maybe it means along with, or maybe it doesn't. The point is this: looks fade with time. Even Botox is not enough to save you. Personality, however, stays with you until your life is over. Doesn't that prove my point?
Mr. Leab: This concludes our debate for tonight. It is up to you to decide who is right. You can either
drop us a line, or leave a comment. At a future date, we'll post the winner.