Saturday, December 10, 2005

A Great Man Falls

I know it's the weekend.
I wasn't going to post, but I heard the news this morning, and I had to say something.
I would like to raise a glass to Richard Pryor. One of the funniest men who ever lived passed on this morning. He was a genius and will be sorely missed.
I remember seeing his comedy films as a kid, and I laughed very hard. The films he did with Gene Wilder (such as Silver Streak) were also quite memorable.
So, raise a glass to Richard Pryor and never forget his time as a comedy pioneer.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Posted Schedule

It's the weekend.
I'm tired.
I decided that with my workload about to grow substantially next semester, I should set up a schedule for this little blog.
Mondays - Mail Mondays (as long as mail or comments keep coming)
Tuesdays - Ramblings
Wednesdays - Free write (such as "Story Time with Uncle Leab," Ramblings, or etc.
Thursdays - Slander a la Leab (until Slanderous returns...if Slanderous returns)
Fridays - Ramblings

Hopefully you enjoy/find interesting/ just read the post about my former drinking and my take on AA.
Hope you have a nice weekend,

In the Land of Alcoholics, the Drunk is King

I used to have a drinking problem. It's very hard to talk about it. Having read what Michele has said about a former Alcoholic partner, I feel guilt at times. Everytime I see that she had a man like that in her life, I honestly turn red. I feel embarrassed. Why? I don't know. When I drank, I never intended to hurt other people. I was labeled "A fun drunk" by many. In fact, I used to go to a bar in University City every Wednesday and entertain the crowd. The bartender knew me solely on the basis that he sold me drinks, but he once told, before I left Missouri, "You were damn funny, Leab, and you sold more drinks, because you brought more people to the bar."
Yet, for as funny as I was, I was essentially killing myself, and I was damn lucky that I didn't kill myself or anyone else. I chose the wrong way to deal with pain.
I was in a relationship with a gal I really loved. Even believed we would get married. It didn't work out that way. When all was said and done, I was alone with good friend J.D. You know him as Jack Daniels. That was my choice drink. Straight shots of Jack. I would do a few a day. That's right a few A DAY.
I fell into a spiral. I was depressed, so I drank, which made me forget issues (and supposedly made me funny), so I drank more to stay in that state, but then I got depressed (because, and here's some science, kids, alcohol is a depressant or "downer") so I had to drink more to try and feel better. What a nasty cycle.
It was also compounded by a very high tolerance. My father's German, and my mother has everything in her (French, German, Irish, etc.). This means I have a very high (or strong as some say) tolerance to alcohol. My wife has two glasses of wine, she gets buzzed. I have to have a bottle to feel anything. When I was drinking, I needed at least five tall beers to get drunk. On some days I needed four, others it would be six or seven, but five was the ususal. That's alot of beer and a great deal of money, which leads to another problem: Paying for it. It would get to the point where I would stop eating and would instead drink. Thanks to my father, I learned that a Guinness (my usual beer of choice) and a donut would fill you up for a few days. This meant less eating and more drinking.
For a year and a half that's what I did. I did alot of things I'm not proud of:
-I joined the Century Club. That's one hundred shots in one hundred minutes. You do beer for nine and then one hard liquor shot on the tenth. It was bad. VERY BAD. Do not attempt this, kids.
-I got very drunk one night and woke up the next morning with a gal I didn't really know. We didn't sleep together (as I was on the floor fully clothed, and she was in my bed), but it was still bad. She had a crush on me (I was told), so it was the reverse of what usually happens. Instead of sober guy taking advantage of drunk girl, the roles were switched. Maureen Dowd would be very proud.
-I went to classes drunk. I went to play practices drunk. I managed to build a 60 foot wide set for an outdoor show (that ended up having my ex in it in a staring role, so I had to see her ALOT. Guess what that means? MORE DRINKING!). I worked with power saws, drills, and more, all while inebriated. That's really not good. I also managed to sandpaper my own face while drunk. Why? I was trying to show people what not to do.
At one point I gave a now famous (among Wash. U's All Student Theatre) speech talking about how "I don't care if your grandmother dies, or you lose your foot, you WILL show up to strike (taking down the set), or I will come to your home and drag you here. Don't test me. I'll fucking do it!"
It frightened many people, but they showed up.
-I drove drunk, and I was very lucky. On one occasion, I can remember driving a friend home. There was an S curve. Had it not been three in the morning, I probably would have hit an oncoming car and died. (You see, I didn't "curve", but actually drove straight. Not good.)
-I asked my future wife out while drunk. She was coming out of the Scene Shop, and I was heading to backstage. I said, "Hey. Do you want to go grab a drink with me sometime?"
"Umm. No thanks," She responded. "My fiance wouldn't like that."
"He could come too!"
"Well...can I come to the wedding?"
"No. Again, don't think my fiance would like you."
(Author's Note: As we married each other, the irony is that I got invited to the the end.)
You want more? Ok then.
-I learned how to speak the alphabet backwards very quickly (and can still do it to this day). Do it twice a day for 400 days, and you got it.
And the absolute worst moment:
I sat down on a Friday night at a bar with two friends and began drinking. I woke up the next morning on the side of 55 north (which would be on the way to Chicago...where my ex now lived). That means I drank, then got in my car and drove several hours on the freeway. Do I remember it? No. Was I arrested? Luckily no. I took the next exit, turned around and came back. That was the first time I realized perhaps I had a problem. I didn't remember a thing from the night before. There was a phone number on my hand from a girl named "Trish". I never called. There were three bags of chips in the back seat. No idea where they came from. Later, a friend of mine would show me pictures of events which I couldn't recall (including body shots, and more).

So, having reached the end of my rope, I decided I needed to do something. Fueled by the desire to fix myself, to stop being an idiot, and by a rather lovely girl who would not become Mrs. Leab, (remember, kids, at this point in my life, my wife as far as I knew was supposed to marry someone else, and she was not on campus as she was doing an internship.) I started trying to fix myself. No one would help me. I gave all my alcohol to a friend of mine (it totaled around $400 of booze. You figure it out.), and I started looking at Alcoholics Anonymous.
Now, I couldn't stay with AA. The steps bothered me ALOT. I thought it was more about introspection, but upon looking at the steps, it occured to me that (again, at least to me) it was giving up personal responsibility. Let me show you what I mean:
The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol--that our lives had become unmanageable.

Ok, that makes sense. We have a problem, and we have to admit it. Cool.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Umm. That depends on your definition of "Power". Now, the capitalization of power leads me to believe we're talking about God. So, we're supposed to believe that God can restore us to sanity. This is the first problem for me.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood

Ok this now shows that I was right about #2. "Our will and our lives over to the care of God...." Does this mean God will feed me soup? Ok, to be serious, however, if God is doing the work, then I am not. That's the problem. I believe, I TRULY believe that we have to take the responsibility. Turning it over to God makes me feel as if it's not my problem anymore, but his to fix. As if I am broken G.I. Joe figure. I'm not ok with this, but I want to be fixed, so I'm still sticking in at this point.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Perfect. Here's another I agree with in principle. Reflect on who you are and figure out where you screwed up. Awesome. That's totally necessary to get better, and, in fact, this aspect more than any other made me get better. I made a list, a full-on written list of everything I had done wrong, and how I was hurting myself. That made me work harder. Plus, you know you did alot of "desperate things" to get drunk. Cough syrup, etc.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Here's another issue. If you define God as the actual Holy Host, then I can't do it. If God is everything and admitting it to myself and another human being means saying it aloud, then it works for me. If I just say it aloud to my friend, then God can hear it.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

No, no, no, no. I will not have God remove my defects. No. I will work them out myself. Asking God to do it is the whole Cosmic Bellboy issue. God is not there to do things for me. I was given choice and ability and free-thinking in order to fix my own shortcomings.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

No. Again: my shortcomings, my problem. If God, or Fate, or Time, or Vishnu, or some guy named Murray who lives in the sun is really running the universe, then I am not going to waste their time to make them fix me. We are losing our personal responsibilities. "It's not my fault I drink, my dad did it...and God let me do it."
I understand that people need help, and that for some God is their help, but too many people use it as a crutch where if they aren't better, then it's God's fault. That's not how it works.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Ok deep breath now to calm down. Ok. Good idea. Hard to remember if you're a blackout drunk, but a very good idea. This also goes along with number 4. You'd think they would be closer together.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure
them or others.

This one is a key. You MUST take responsibility. Say, "I'm sorry. It was my fault." Don't make it into, "Well, I wouldn't have done it if I were sober." That's a cop-out. That's like saying, "I'm sorry I hit you with my car, but it wouldn't have happened if you hadn't walked into that crosswalk...when you had the light...whatever...."

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Sure. We're keeping up numbers 4, 8, and 9. Those are really the keys to this anyway.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we
understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that

Moving back to the problem area for me. Only "Knowledge of His will for us" can really get us through this? Come on. That means that again we are no longer in control and can then shed responsibility. That's not ok with me.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The end. Having been "touched" (appropriately) by God or an angel, we know turn around and push this on others. Maybe I'm cynical, but isn't that also how cults work?

Yes, I am knocking AA, but I do understand, before you get all pissed off and try to kill me, that Alcoholics Anonymous works for some people. It never seemed right for me and so I moved away from it.
That's why I call myself a former drunk, not an ex-alcoholic. An Alcoholic seeks help from AA. A drunk doesn't. It's that simple.
I managed to take the steps from AA I believed would help me and fixed myself. I didn't go to God or Buddha for help. I stopped drinking by willing myself. I did meditate, but not on God.
My ultimate issue with Alcoholics Anonymous is the lack of perceived responsibility. God will "remove your shortcomings." YOU won't. He will. Not ok to me. You need to take care of it. You kicked the sheets off the bed, you put them back on.
I have now gotten to place where I can drink wine. I never have beer (unless it was a REALLY bad day and then I only have one and with supervision), and the only time I am allowed hard alcohol is when my throat really hurts (such as getting sick). Then I can only have one shot of Jack Daniels, and again, only in the presence of my wife.
Wine is different. I know some people can guzzle wine, but I have never been able. I have to sip it, which means I drink slower, which means I drink less. And unlike beer or liquor, I savor wine. I feel the taste around my palate. Sure, it makes me sound like yuppie, but...I love wine.

I really would love to open a winery after I retire and do all Shakespeare-themed wines.
What's worse is that now that I don't drink, I am pressured even more. Several of my wife's friends and co-workers are desperate to see me drunk. I don't know why. Actually that's not true, I do know why. I remain very composed around them, whereas all of them have gotten VERY drunk (or worse) around me. Back in October, a large group of us went to The Melting Pot for a birthday party (mine, and three other people's). I was pushed to drink a bottle of wine. Glass after glass was ordered for me. As they got wasted, I felt nothing. Part of that was tolerance for alcohol, but alot of it was also being annoyed at being a sideshow.
"Hey, let's get the former drunk REALLY drunk so we can see how he used to act."
It's no secret among Mrs. Leab's co-workers that I don't drink anymore. The reasons aren't known, but it is clear to them: He has the occasional glass of wine and that's it.
I am not condemning people who like to drink. Like I said, I still drink wine. I am also not going after people who choose to use Alcoholics Anonymous. The group has helped many people and that's wonderful, but it was not for me. I felt I needed to fix my problem, not (as I perceived it) have someone do it for me.
So there you go. I was asked about "the Lost Period" I mentioned and that's how it materialized. While it was mostly a negative period, it did make me into a better person.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Definition of Ironic: Holiday Edition

It's Holiday time. Sure, there people out there who are arguing the virtues of "Happy Holidays" versus "Merry Christmas". At the same time, there is a fight going on among those who believe that Christ is being taken out of Christmas versus those who want to see all religions fairly represented.
This post is not here to argue that stuff.
No, this is about the tree that you see to your right. This is about the ultimate irony this holiday.
Urban Outfitters (a pretty trendy store) is selling the "Charlie Brown Pathetic Christmas Tree" you see on the right. It's ONLY twenty-four dollars (excuse me while I wipe the sarcasm off my screen...).
Now, if anyone has ever seen the A Charlie Brown Christmas special, you know that CB (and thus by association Charles Schulz) feels that Christmas is too commercialized. He then spends the rest of the time searching for Christmas' meaning. In the special, Linus ends up giving Charlie Brown a reading from the Book of Luke about the birth of Jesus.
Now here's the thing about the special that not alot of people know. I call it the original irony.
At one point in the special, Linus (or Charlie Brown, sources disagree) crashed into a sign advertising Coca-Cola after being tossed by Snoopy. (Current versions never show where Linus lands.) The closing carol originally included the complete verse (instead of fading out) with a final on-screen "Merry Christmas from your local bottler of Coca-Cola" right after the United Feature Syndicate credit at the end.
That's right. A special where the main character decries commercialism was itself overly commerical.

Now, to the ultimate irony.
Charlie Brown decides to buy the "pathetic" tree instead of a "brilliant aluminum one." Why? Because those aluminum trees are too commercial (and they're pink and blue and such).
So, here's Urban Outfitters creating a commerical trend out of a special that was against commercialism. Deeeeelicious irony.
The tree? It's already on backorder (ALOT of people have ordered it).

Slander a la Leab (12/8/05)

First of all. Happy birthday to my beautiful wife.
I know she'll never read this as she never reads my blog, but at least it's out there across the blogosphere. She's still the best thing that's ever happened to me (and I'm probably the worst thing that ever could have happened to her).
Once again, this has become the most popular segment on the ole blog. Let me just share something with you.
I received an email ( telling me, "The rest of your stuff sucks, but your slander is sort of funny. Otherwise you suck."
Mmmmmm. Nastygrams.... Oh, and I got another email telling me not to use Alexis's name again. Awesome. I love it.
Ok. Let's get to tonight's SLANDERAMA!
Boxing Match of the Century Leads to Ratings Stunt:
With the Twin Cities consumed by the upcoming fight between Rex "The Titanium Typist" Sorgatz and Garrison "The Lake Woebegon Battler," the local news outlets are attempting to boost ratings post-sweeps by having the evening news anchors combat each other in a four-team tornado tag-team tournament. (Gosh, I love alliteration...don't you?) Several variations of the tournament were discussed. At first, it was going to be a broadcast-off, where a randomly selected audience of Minnesotans would watch four hours of news back-to-back-to-back-to-back and then judge who was the best. However, this idea was thrown out when it was realized the audience would rather commit suicide then watch four straight hours of news.
In an attempt to capitalize on the highly publicized prize fight, an undercard was announced. However this was scrapped when the anchors began arguing.
Cyndy Brucato was quoted as saying, "I wouldn't fight Robyne (Robinson) on a bet. That bitch has a long reach AND she wears those damn Rox (available everywhere) which cut deep."
Brucato wasn't the only naysayer. "There's a reason my nickname is 'Dapper Don', people," WCCO anchor Don Shelby mused. "If you think I'm going to mess up THIS face (at this point he was holding up two mirrors. One for the front, the other for the left side),
you're crazy."
It looked as if all would be lost, but then, a bolt of lightning (figurative, of course) struck local student Beverly Smith.
"Well, I'm from Mississippi, and in my family, when we have to solve a problem, we wrassle (wrestle). Pauses to spit tobacco. Why can't they just wrassle?
Thus was born the tournament. WCCO, KSTP, KARE, and KMSP will all be a part of the tournament (WFTC's Chris Conangla and Jordanna Green have been excused due to community service and impending birth respectively).
Odds makers in Las Vegas are favoring Fox 9's Jeff Passolt & Robyne Robinson because of his stone hard hair and her amazonian-like reach.
The rules will be as follows:
-It will be a free-for-all with anything being allowed (this includes chairs, hairstylists, teleprompters, etc).
-The final winner of the match will receive 2 full nielsen points.
-The "Don Shelby" rule will be in effect. (This means that no one can hit the face.)
On a final note, local boy Josh Hartnett will be singing the national anthem.
In Other News:
-Local boy John Madden was arrested in Philadelphia on monday night. Apparently, Madden was at the airport with Al Michaels. It is well known that Madden is afraid to fly and so he travels around the country in a triple decker bus. As Michaels was waiting to go through security, he discussed that night's game with Madden. At one point, Madden was overheard shouting, "BOOM!"
Security was sure Madden was making threats about bombs and took him down. As Madden was being dragged off, witnesses swore he was saying, "That guy who tackled me has no form. There I am and he tries to take me down, but BOOM, I threw him. Luckily the other guy plays like he's going to Outback and hit me harder than a blooming onion."

Madden is currently being held on $1,000,000 bail.
-Former ESPN anchor and late night talk show host has not been on TV in over a year, however, he has turned up in the Twin Cities. As Kilborn walked by the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, a fan recognized him and shouted, "Hey Kilborn, where you been?"
Kilborn shouted back, "Under Hennepin."
The fan laughed, but ten minutes later, Kilborn was seen grabbing a cardboard sign that read, "I used to famous. Please give me a dollar." He then headed over to the 94 off-ramp at Hennepin.
-UPDATE: The first fight on the undercard of Sorgatz/Keillor has been named. John Stewart and Bill O'Reilly will go toe to toe to debate Happy Holidays/Merry Christmas. Should be exciting stuff.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Bat Mitzvah Update

Pictures from the $10,000,000 Bat Mitzvah.
In case you need a refresher:
(From IMDB)
50 Cent, Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks and members of Aerosmith and The Eagles joined forces to create one of the year's greatest live line-ups at the weekend, when they played a private Bat Mitzvah celebration gig. Multi-millionaire David H. Brooks paid a reported $10 million to hire the artists to perform at his daughter Elizabeth's party at New York City venue The Rainbow Room. Brooks is said to have chartered his company jet to pick up Aerosmith rockers Steven Tyler and Joe Perry from their Saturday concert in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He reportedly paid the stars $2 million to play a 45-minute set, while 50 Cent is thought to have received $500,000. Petty wowed the gathering with an acoustic performance, while The Eagles stars Joe Walsh and Don Henley played alongside Fleetwood Mac singer Nicks. Other acts to perform at the extravagant event included Ciara, Nicole Richie's fiance DJ AM and saxophonist Kenny G. However, Brooks has denied the reported cost of the event. He told the New York Daily News, "All dollar figures were vastly exaggerated. This was a private event and we do not wish to comment on details of the party."
These pictures say more than Brooks does.

The Movie? After the Ads...

"Moviegoers should get used to those ads shown as they settle into their seats."

That's right, boys and girls. According to
USA Today, companies will spend even more money to get more ads on the screen by summer of 2006.
Now, I don't know about you, but I can't stand the ads. If I want commercials, I'll watch TV. So, here are some logical conclusions from this:

1. Fewer people will attend the movies.
Too many people already treat the movie theater like TV. That means talking (be it with other people or on phones), being slovenly, or worse. With more ads and quicker DVD (or home video) releases, a majority of people will stop going and just wait. Doesn't sound bad, right? Except, the next step is:

2. Theaters start going out of business.
With people not showing up, screens start to close. The rapid demise of megaplexes matches only the former rapid growth. Jobs are lost, the economy suffers only slightly. However, the real losers here are us. With fewer screens, Hollywood has to find alternate ways to get money from sponsors. An ingenious idea is formed....

3. Ads are put on DVD (or home video).
That's right. Ads, which cannot be skipped, are added to the movies. Thus, whenever the disc is put in, you have to suffer through 20 minutes of commercials before the film. The cycle continues. People will have to start the movie, walk away to do something for 20 minutes, and then return.
Now, there's no movie theaters and ads littered throughout DVDs everywhere.

This issue is much bigger than you think. There's a
class action lawsuit against the Loews Theater chain, and at one point Congress asked for a bill where theaters would put down two times. The first when the ads started, and the second when the film actually started. Unfortunately, too much pork got added to this bill, and it was defeated.

I really can't tell you what the best way to fix the problem is. I like the idea of two times, but it will never fly. Theatres know they'll lose money if they implement it, sponsors will try to get rid of it, and there will problems with seat selection. (Imagine showing up at seating, say ten minutes before the film starts, you save your seats, and then leave for a half hour to grab dinner. When you return the rest of the theater is pretty full, but you have your seats. Is it fair to show up and then leave?)
Still, if I ran a theater chain, that's what I would do. Two times. I really believe that would bring in more business, and I would make it clear by using two colors. Black for start time, and red for actual film start time.

I love going to the movies. It's a sacred ritual to me. The problem I have with the ads is not their presence (though alot of them bug me as, like TV, they are way too loud), but the fact that if you go to a 2.5 hours long film, then you're in the theater for three hours. And a half hour of that is ads and previews. That's a long time for people who have a great deal of take home work (I'm just saying....).

Maybe you don't notice, and maybe you don't care. I can't speak for you, dear reader. All I know is that for my entire life I have been a movie theater goer. When the lights dim, it's a feeling of joy for me. Places like the Heights and the St. Anthony Main Theater don't have ads before the films. It's just straight to the previews (usually one or two) then the movie starts.

Then again, what do I know? I'm willing to pay 8 bucks for a ticket, 10 dollars for popcorn and a drink, and then sit through...well...nowadays schlock. I could be wrong.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Ramblings for the Evening (12/6/05)

The one thing I really don't like about this time of year is how dry Minnesota get. It is incredibly dry. My skin feels horrible, and I'm taking in what feels like double the amount of water. It sucks.
So, without further ado: I GIVE YOU...DERELICT!
The Weather? Fair:
So the Vikings won their fifth straight game, and all of sudden everyone is ok with them. This is is hysterical. I was listening to KQRS yesterday, and they were ALL about how great the Vikings are. Only a few months ago, they left the team for dead and talked about how they couldn't cheer for them. It was the same with a bunch of my colleagues.
I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but it's amazing to me how many fair-weather fans there are out there.
My wife is a Kansas City Chiefs fan. Loves the team. Even when they are losing, she cheers for them and believes they can win the game.
Me? I cheer for many losing teams: The New York Mets, the New York Knicks, The New York Jets (that's a tough one this year, but I still cheer), the Minnesota Wild, and the New York Rangers.
I admit that I gave up on the Rangers two years ago. Not because they were losing, but because the General Manager traded away the most popular player on the team (a guy who had spent almost 20 years with them). However, last year he said he would commit to youth, and he has. That shows me something.
At Wild games, I am amazed that people would leave. Example? Phoenix came to town and took a two goal lead into the first intermission. People left. "That's it, dude. The game's over. Let's went!" And they left. It ended up being a close game, but no one cares.
When you win, the world loves you. When you lose, they scorn. Many Wild fans are walking away right now, because the team has been losing lately. However, if the team starts winning again, they'll come back.
It's the same for the Vikings. If they lose every game from here on out, all we'll hear about is the boat, and all the other crap this year.
Pick a horse and stick with it through thick and thin. That's how a real fan is.
Simple Life 4 (Or Why I Hate this Country):
SIIIIIIIIGGGGGGHHHH! Ok, a show like Arrested Development is going to be canceled, but fans clamored for and are now getting ANOTHER season of the Paris Hilton/Nicole Richie show? And what's the premise? The girls will split time as a surrogate wife and mother to a family, and the family will vote on who is better.
This is what people want. THIS.
Look, I laugh when I hear, for example, that Paris Hilton wants a mini-tiger for Christmas. Sure, I also die a little inside, because I know there are girls out there who will want to emulate her and so will want a mini-tiger, but mostly I laugh.
The problem is this whole "rich bitch" image is now being celebrated. Look at MTV's Super Sweet 16 show. Girls whine and complain in order to get a huge 16th birthday party. It's insane, and it shouldn't be celebrated. You want another example? Here's a story from the International Movie Database:
50 Cent, Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks and members of Aerosmith and The Eagles joined forces to create one of the year's greatest live line-ups at the weekend, when they played a private Bat Mitzvah celebration gig. Multi-millionaire David H. Brooks paid a reported $10 million to hire the artists to perform at his daughter Elizabeth's party at New York City venue The Rainbow Room. Brooks is said to have chartered his company jet to pick up Aerosmith rockers Steven Tyler and Joe Perry from their Saturday concert in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He reportedly paid the stars $2 million to play a 45-minute set, while 50 Cent is thought to have received $500,000. Petty wowed the gathering with an acoustic performance, while The Eagles stars Joe Walsh and Don Henley played alongside Fleetwood Mac singer Nicks. Other acts to perform at the extravagant event included Ciara, Nicole Richie's fiance DJ AM and saxophonist Kenny G. However, Brooks has denied the reported cost of the event. He told the New York Daily News, "All dollar figures were vastly exaggerated. This was a private event and we do not wish to comment on details of the party."
$10,000,000?!!! What the hell, folks? Sure, if you have the money, you should spend it, but what are they telling their daughter? "Everything you want, you'll get?" What happens if life doesn't turn out that way?
This, to me, is a huge problem in our country. Wasted money.
Let's say, however, the "dollar figures were vastly exaggerated." Does that mean it was ONLY $5,000,000? Oh joy. Hey, Danny the homeless guy off of 94, it was only 5 mil. Phew!
Law Students:
Apparently being a lawyer for Saddam Hussein will get you...uh...killed. Nice. So, here's my propostion for the newest reality show. As you may or may not know, the jobs for law students are drying up. It used to be (in the 1980s) there were three openings for every 1 law student. That meant options. Then, in the 90s, it whittled down to 1 to 1. Still ok for options, but now more cuthroat. In 2005 (that would be now), the pendulum has shifted. There are 5 or 6 students to every 1 job. Even more cutthroat. So, here's my proposal. There are going to be Law students who need a job. Why not create a show where fifteen of the brightest minds become Saddam's law team. Whoever survives, gets their own law firm. Could you imagine?
"Janel was in the lead, but she was killed by Shiite extremists. That leaves Andrew and Kate left."
Maybe it's too barbaric, but come on. Don't we have enough lawyers out there? Plus, could you imagine how you would put that on your resume?
John (or Jane) Q. Public
Legal Experience:
Law Offices of Jihad and Hallah
-Trial and appellate matters include commercial, construction, patent,employment, consumer, insurance, and personal injury disputes (including Saddam Hussein).
You'd be hired.
People Say the Darndest Things:
Lewis Black has a bit where he talks about being in IHOP and hearing a woman say, "If it weren't for my horse, I wouldn't have spent that year in college." He then goes on to talk about how his brain essentially melts trying to figure out what it means.
I had that experience over the weekend.
My wife and I went to a Christmas Party (that's the final topic below). It was odd. Anyway, this guy is talking to me, when his wife comes by. He stops talking and turns to her in order to ask something. Her final comment is, "It's not like electrical tape hurts it at all."
That quote is still rattling around in my head. What does she mean?
The couple is Catholic. Is she talking about fixing their Christmas lights? A crucifix? Did she mean something about sex? How weird would THAT be?
This is the amazing thing about catching the end of conversation: Without the proper context, your brain goes searching to make connections. That's what Black was talking about in his schtick. When your brain goes into hyper-drive trying to make the logical connection, it starts to hurt. I stayed awake for an hour after the party (yes, an hour) trying to figure out what she meant.
The smart thing to do? I should have asked, but I didn't really know this woman, and they already thought I was quite weird.
And finally:
Leab is a Stranger in a Strange Land:
One of my wife's Uber-bosses had a Christmas party on Friday night. Seeing as how it was for her career, I went along. You have to understand, the guest list was such that I knew NO ONE! Usually I know one or two people. Not that night. However, my wife waits until the last minute to tell me the ultimate surprise about the party: There will be an hour of Christmas Carol singing!!!!!
Can I sing? Sure. Can I do carols? Not so much. When I was a kid, we used to go to church at Christmas time so my mother could sing. She loves to sing. I didn't know the words, so I would just say, "Four" over and over and over again to the beat. It sounded like I was singing. As I got older, I started singing both the male and female parts (I got bored), but at this party, I knew very few of the songs being sung.

Let's begin with the arrival. From the moment we arrived, my wife and I got separated. I end up over by the appetizers watching her talk with her boss and co-workers. Around me were spouses (most of whom knew each other). Best moment? When a younger gal introduced herself and her husband. Turns out hubby is a honest-to-goodness rocket scientist. Also turns out that both of them were home schooled (and have the demeanors to show it) and hate teachers. Then they ask, "What do you do?"
My answer? "I kill baby dolphins."
There was a gigantic pause.
Now, I'm not knocking home schooling. It can be done very well, but more often than not, most home schooled kids have issues with talking to other people (or social issues for short). This girl did. Everything was TOO matter of fact, and when I proved her wrong on something, she stopped short of pulling out a knife and going for my eyes.
Back to the jobs. I let them stew. It was obvious they didn't catch the humor. So I told them, "Oh, I'm just kidding. I'm a high school teacher."
Another pause.
"That's...unfortunate." And that was it for our conversation for the rest of the night. They avoided me as if I was plagued with bird-flu and trying to bleed on them.
Want more fun stuff? I was the only person there with even a hint of Judaism in him or her. Everyone around me was Catholic and very aryan. Oh...SO aryan. When my wife mentioned that my father was a Jew, I was supposed to talk about how I understood guilt...just like the Catholics. Ummm, yeah. My mother is protestant, my father a Jew. This means : A. Not Jewish , and B. Not guilt-ridden. It's not a Jewish father sitting in the dark, folks.
When I explained I was a Taoist, my wife kicked me...hard.
Then, to complete my utter hell, we were given the "best seats in the house" for the carol singing. Catholics aplenty stared at me (The "token Jew" as my wife's boss's wife mentioned) to make sure I sang. Not going to lie to you: I didn't know half the songs. Part way through I got so bored, so I started singing them in German.
"O Christmas Tree" become "O Tannenbaum".
"Jingle Bells" become "Slichten Fah".
I did that until the local church choir director started asking, "What are doing? What's a Tannenbaum?"
It wasn't the worst party I've ever been too (At least my wife didn't cheat on me there, right?), but it was very uncomfortable for me. I can get along with anyone. Really. It's all about faking it, but this was really tough.
The ultimate highlight of the night? The boss's son runs over to me and hugs my legs? Why? No clue. He just ran over and hugged me. I was shocked. The boss was shocked. Every party goer was shocked. I just stood there and said, "Thanks kiddo. That was nice." He then hugged me again. Never talked to the kid before, never seen him before, and pretty sure that the boss wasn't too happy. Kiddo wouldn't hug his uncle, but random Jewish-looking guy? No problem.
Finally, at the end of the night, one guy says to me (SO NOT KIDDING), "You know, if you grew your hair'd look like Jesus."
What would you say to that. " Well...that's me...I look like the savior...Wooo...yeah."
What did I say to that? "Thanks, Bob. I don't usually get told I look like J.C. Awesome" (with a thumbs up).
I love my wife, folks. I love my wife.

Final note: I know, I know. I have ripped on Christianity ALOT. If you're reading this and Catholic, I am not saying that you suck. All I'm saying is that I grew up in a predominantly religious-free zone. So when I come into someone's home and next to the Christmas Tree is a almost life-size's a little creeptastic. That's all.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Mail Mondays (12/5/05)

What a long weekend. I will be talking about it tomorrow.
Let's get to the mail.
You mentioned before that you were depressed for part of college. I believe you called it your "lost period."

What's the deal?
Concerned Citizen

Dear CC,
Yeah, it's true. For a good year and a half in college I was very down and did a lot of things to hurt myself. It wasn't a smart thing to do, but sometimes we don't think straight. Normally, I don't open up about stuff like this, so buckle up kids.
I was with a gal for two years. I really cared about her a great deal and changed many aspects of my life to keep her happy. When I moved into an apartment my sophomore year, I set everything up with this thought in mind: "Will she like it?"

The three cats I now own? I got them while with her. One day she found a stray cat. After shelling out $20 to litter and feed this cat, its owner turned up. Devestated, she begged me to get a new cat. Again, I should have been listening. "I love kittens," she told me, "but I think cats are boring." When we got the three boys, she agreed to take one of them with her when she graduated. Fast forward to her leaving...well...I'm getting way ahead of myself.
They say love is blind, and in my case it's also deaf and dumb. My sisters, my parents, and my friends all said this would end badly. Some even went as far as sitting me down and explaining to me why this gal (we''ll call her Lola) was wrong for me. I didn't listen.
The signs were all there. She had been in a relationship while in high school where her college-aged lover mistreated her. In college, she dated a man who went crazy and stalked her after their break up. This man (we'll call him Isaiah) would figure into the situation.
Before I explain what happened, let me set up for you how we met and dated.
Washington University in St. Louis holds a concert in the Spring called WILD (Walk In Lay Down). This concert usually features someone famous (this year was Porno for Pyros). It was at this time that I was visiting the school. Encouraged to tour the campus alone, I left my parents and went to the campus that night. It was here I met Lola. I wandered over to the main stage to talk to a few people I had met during the daytime tour. As we talked, this gal bumped into me. She was slightly shorter than me with dark hair, piercing eyes, and nice body. She apologized and in an attempt to not look like an idiot, I made a witty remark. She laughed, and we began to talk. After 20 minutes, this guy shows up looking very angry. He's about 5'5", muscular, and walking like an ape. Think Danny Bonaduce, but Jewish. He gets angry and drags her off.
Fast forward a few months. I am now a precocious (HAHAHA) freshman at Wash. U. After ten minutes in my first class, I become the stage manager for the first show of the year (I was the only person with any experience). During the first rehearsal, I discover that Lola is on my running crew, and she remembers me. I also find out that her now ex-boyfriend is running lights with me. This makes for a volatile situation. Everytime they see each other, they argue. Think Moonlighting but angrier and Jewish.
Auditions came and went and Lola was cast in the show I would be working on next. Though the first show we were working wasn't over yet, she had her script. One night rehearsal ends and Lola asks me if I could "help her with her lines." Now, I'm a guy, which means that...well...I'm clueless. I really thought she wanted help with her lines. I was wrong.
After that night, we were, for all intents and purposes dating. However, Isaiah was still in the picture. You see I would go to Lola's apartment every night to be with her. Sometimes, he was there. One night after a fairly rough rehearsal, he was there with her. Both of them were stoned out of their minds. Isaiah hands me his car keys and says, "You shouldn't be here. I think it's my turn tonight. So take my car and go do whatever you want."
I was embarrassed. I should have taken his keys, but I didn't. I walked back the three miles to my dorm room and spent a very sleepless night trying to decide what to do. It was answered for me the next morning. Lola called me and apologized. It was after a brief conversation that she explained to me that Isaiah was done. It was just the two of us now.
We remained together for another year and half as a couple. One night, one moment changed it all.
At a party being thrown by myself and a friend of mine (he had a bigger apartment, but it was our soiree), I lost sight of Lola. To compound matters, Isaiah had shown up. The last I heard, the two of them had walked off together. I asked Lola's friend, "Have you seen her?"

I was asked to go to the garage and get more beer, so I went.
When I walked in, I found Lola on the hood of my car in flagrante de licto (that is, having sex) with Isaiah. I was devestated. Even though I knew in the back of my mind it had to be happening, my heart was still crushed. I went back into the house and told my buddy:
"Go into the garage and tell Lola and Isaiah that they need to leave NOW. I'm going to get your bat and go out there in 30 seconds. If he's still here, he's going to be hurt."
No one consoled me. One of my friends even hit me with the "I told you so" speech. Never a good idea. It's like when a person jumps off the roof and breaks his or her leg. As the bone pokes out and blood spouts, that person doesn't need to be told "You idiot. I told you that would happen."
I went back to my apartment. A few hours later, Lola showed up. We fought viciously. I heard all about how she still has something deep in her heart for him. I also got to hear about his 13" penis (not something you want to hear about when you're sleeping with someone). For three hours it went on. Three hours. My neighbors would later complain to me that they heard everything...two floors up.
I should have learned my lesson. I should have ended it, but I didn't. She cried, she swore she wouldn't do it again, and honestly, I was a young man dating a good looking gal (think Alexis [Girl Friday], but make her a 40DD). Yes, I was a college student and not the smart man I am today. I thought about sex. I gues that makes me like every other man out there. Sorry to dissapoint. Anyway, I didn't learn my lesson until later. We stayed together.
One month later, she dumped me. We were lying in bed together post coitus, and she said she couldn't be with me anymore. She then rolled over and went to sleep. I went out. I ended up walking for four hours. I walked University City, the school's campus, and more. When I came back, she was gone.
Here's where it gets worse.
I know. You're thinking, "Leab, how can it get worse? You stayed with a cheating woman who dumped you. It can't get worse!" It can.
We may not have been together anymore, but we still slept together for two more months. That's right. We had sex together every other night for two more months. No talking, no feelings, just sex. Then it ended...for a little while.
Already unhappy and having lost many friends who chose her over me, I started drinking (that's another story for another time). I drank alot.
One night I was in a local bar (no one ever carded me) when a buddy of mine came over and sat down.
"We need to talk," He started.
"Fuck off," I responded and returned to my shots.
"Lola was never faithful."
"What the hell do you mean Greg (not his real name)?"
He paused, took one of my shots, and then sighed. "She didn't just sleep with Isaiah. She slept with four other people all while you two were together. She also tried to sleep with me."
That was a bad moment. You ever have a moment when you feel like the entire world is staring at you? Laughing at you? That no one at the very moment could possibly understand the emotions running through your system? That was my moment. Everything went dark.
I drank the next few months away. I worked, went to school, and even talked to my family, but I was never sober.
I mentioned that Lola and I were apart only for a little while. The month of graduation, we got back together as bed buddies. I was stupid again. There was, of course, a hidden agenda. She wanted me to help her move out of her apartment. I refused. She sent her father, who had once told me he didn't like me, to my apartment to ask for my help. Then her mother came. I buckled. And when all was said and done, I expected (and see this is the problem. I expected things. I hoped for things. It never works that way.) a thank you and a good bye hug. That's it. With her parents in the running car, Lola turned to me and said, "Well...have a good life." Then she hops in the car, and they take off. I screamed down the street, "Go fuck yourself, bitch."
Oh, and remember when I mentioned that she would take one of the cats? When I brought this up, she stared at me and said, "But I don't like cats. I like kittens. Do you have a kitten for me?" It worked out ok, however, because I love my three boys, and they love me.
But the whole debacle stayed with me. I didn't sober up for a year (again, for another time).
This was a good lesson, however. It taught me alot about love, trust, and reading the signs. It's why I can now read people VERY well.
Still, it is better to have loved and lost....
Oh, and the picture? It's for emphasis. That's not my car.
I think I will end it with just the one letter tonight. It's funny. I've been feeling very down lately, partially because someone reminded me of this whole period in my life. Perhaps instead of Ramblings tomorrow, I will talk more about my "lost period."
Peace be unto you.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Secret of America's Darling

This explains SO much. No wonder she loves Tom Cruise. All of her energy and no need for sleep. Heck, she's even doing a "white person's" drug. This woman really knows how to reach out to her core audience.
Ok, I kid, but I still love the photo.