Saturday, November 21, 2009

Suspicious Aloysius

A couple days ago I received a phone call from a gentleman representing an alleged firefighters’ organization allegedly soliciting contributions to assist burned children. He went on and on, and I let him gab. He got to the part in his script about, “We don’t take credit cards over the phone but we’ll send you out a packet of information and you can make a $20 donation.”

It’s fortunate they don’t take credit cards over the phone, because I wasn’t about to give him my credit card number over the phone anyway. I wasn’t that interested in giving him my address to send the [alleged] info packet either, although he probably already had it, it since he had my phone number.

My vibes told me something wasn't quite right about the man's spiel. I informed him that although I was unable to make a monetary contribution at this time, I was willing to donate my time by going to the [alleged] hospital where these [alleged] burned children were and doing a half-hour accordion program for them.

The guy got all confused. “Uh,” he stammered, “my supervisor doesn’t allow me to, uh, take that information, but there’s a number you can call…”

“And that number is…?”

Hastily: “I’ll call you right back with it.”

I’m still waiting.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A typical Sunday night rant, in 3 raving parts

Dedicated to Bridget A., whose birthday is today.

Part I: I’m Not Cultured, I Just Like Classical Music

When the local classical radio station plays an excerpt from Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni, it’s almost always La ci darem la mano, the duet between the Don and Zerlina. On Tuesday, November 10th, the station played all Mozart all day long. I wasn’t able to listen every minute, but within a couple hours they played that duet twice. Here are some excerpts from Don Giovanni that I prefer to the duet, and the number of times I heard them in the same two-hour time frame:
The Overture: ZERO
Ah, fuggi il traditor, Donna Elvira’s aria: ZERO
Fin ch’han dal vino, Don Giovanni’s aria: ZERO
Il mio tesoro, Don Ottavio’s aria: ZERO
Madamina…, Leporello’s “Catalogue” aria: ZERO
Batti, batti…, Zerlina’s aria: ZERO
The powers that be at a classical radio station ought to know that there's more to Don Giovanni than a 3-minute duet. Drop the needle somewhere else, please!

Part II: Not Everybody Who Takes Public Transportation Is Deaf

Why do the announcements on the CTA and Metra have to be so stentorian? We’re not all deaf, we don’t all have iPod ear-buds in, and we’re sick of being bombarded with high-decibel warnings such as, “Please be considerate when talking on the phone and listening to electronic devices,” when we’re trying to read the paper. Earth to Clueless Noise Operator: Those announcements are louder than a boombox, which happens to be an electronic device.

Part III: Can We Have A Break From:

Any mention of the Middle East and their problems. Either report something good coming out of there or shut up. We’re sick of hearing about people who get their jollies by hurting others.

“10 Top Interviewing Tips”. When is the last time you or any other unemployed person ever got as far as an interview in this economy? Only one tip is valid: Be a friend of someone at a company that’s hiring.

Blaming a peripheral matter for a larger problem, such as banning short-term condo rentals because a smart young man was killed outside of one, outlawing little plastic Ziploc bags because some numbskull put some dope in one, or doing away with beauty pageants because of the JonBenet Ramsey tragedy. Yeah, I know, the last one will never happen; too much money to be made. But it’s an example of what could ensue if the lawmakers don’t make like the Scarecrow and get a brain. Next up to be banned: anal suppositories because some stuffed shirt slipped on one while jaywalking across Michigan Avenue to his office. Get what I mean?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Another Babyish Killer Strikes Again

What makes male gang members so delicate? Possibly the fact that many grew up without fathers, so there was nobody around to show them how to be men. Whatever the reason, and I’m sure it varies from delicate flower to delicate flower, it doesn’t make things any easier for those who are forced to deal with the consequences of their hurt feelings. I have ranted on this subject before, but with yet another senseless murder of a young, male, up-and-coming college student with an impressive reputation, it’s time to scream again. Francisco (Frankie) Valencia, a 21-year old senior at DePaul University, was struck down by the bullet of a gun wielded by a creampuff gang member who couldn’t deal with the fact that he had been asked to leave a party he crashed.

This creampuff (who I am not naming because he doesn’t deserve the publicity) apparently never learned to handle his emotions. The reason he shot Valencia, as reported in the newspapers, is that he was upset because he and two friends had been kicked out of a party that they hadn’t been invited to in the first place. You can call it a “revenge” killing, but that isn’t what it is, really. It’s a crybaby killing. Gang members are notorious for these crybaby murders – “So-and-so disrespected me, so I offed him,” – and maybe it’s time that we sent them back to finishing school for thumb-suckers. In the mean time, here are a few pointers for these rod-toting sissies:

1. Everyone has had the experience of not being invited to a party. The reasons vary from oversight to deliberate omission. Whatever the reason, most of us get on with our lives afterward. Next time you’re out shopping, buy yourself a thicker skin.

2. Jesus said, “Turn the other cheek” for a good reason. It takes all the fun out of being an a**hole. Try it some time, just for laughs.

3. Women outnumber men on this planet. If someone steals your girlfriend, don’t shoot him. Go get another girlfriend. Really, it isn’t that hard. And if your woman was ‘stolen’ she wasn’t that into you in the first place.

4. Grow the hell up. Real men don’t need to settle scores by killing each other. That’s baby stuff. There are plenty of ways to get even with someone that don’t involve a lot of bloodshed, destroyed families and funerals.

5. The gang is a tribal construct, but our world is global now, not tribal. It’s time to look beyond the tribe and see that it’s a big world out there. Whether you kill someone outside the tribe (acceptable in babyish societies) or within the tribe (taboo everywhere), you’re still a killer. That isn’t going to get you invited to a lot of parties (see #1).

6. Anyone who is born into a fatherless, poverty-stricken family comes into life with a lot of courage. This means you. Harness the energy and courage you were born with. There are many ways to do this. Teach someone English or a foreign language. Pick up garbage in your neighborhood. Volunteer at a refugee center. Experiment with cooking. Read a book. Practice writing diatribes without using any swear words, and send them to the papers. Play sports. If nobody wants you on their team, there's always track or gymnastics.

7. If you can’t shake off the urge to kill, join the military. At best, you’ll get some free schooling and food and it will make you more disciplined and responsible. At worst, it will make you a better killer. Society is ticked off enough with you to take that chance.

You don’t have to remain a delicate pansy all your life. It’s up to you. Ultimately, the most valuable respect is self-respect.