Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It Was An Accident – In More Ways Than One

© 2009 Leighann Lord

So I’m strolling through Wal-Mart when a little boy – no older than three – pedals a bicycle straight into me. I say "a" bicycle and not "his" bicycle because with large tags still swinging from plastic wrapped handle bars I assume the bike had not yet been purchased. Apparently the tot was on a loosely supervised test drive. It’s worth noting this incident occurred in the electronics department, which is no where near the toy department.

Technically, the kid hit a shopping cart first which bought me time to jump back and be missed by inches. The child was fine. My shins were unscathed. My toes remained intact. The boy’s "mother" half heartedly said, "Uh oh. Watch out." I don’t know if she was talking to me, her spawn or the owner of the aggrieved shopping cart.

Sometimes the best response is none at all so I kept silent, in retrospect too silent. I didn’t offer the woman an "Oh-that’s-okay-you-know-how-children-are" smile. I kept the expression on my face blank, too blank. I’m sure it spoke disapproving volumes to the woman who reached – belatedly – for her bike wielding brat. She said to me, rather icily, "It was an accident." Again I was unsure. Was she talking about the child’s conception, his actions or her Laissez Faire style of parental oversight?

It might have been an accident if I had been walking through a park play ground; but I was in a store, a place of business. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that good parents don’t let their children ride bicycles indoors, up and down store aisles because someone – maybe even their little cherub – might get hurt. And the parents who do let their kids run amok are usually the first ones to sue everyone in sight when junior takes a tumble.

If I was older and less agile I could have kissed my knee caps goodbye. Anybody with a joint injury will tell you, it’s never the same once the knees go. What if I had lost my balance, fell and hit my head? Chances are I’d die while my insurance plan debated the merits of a cat scan versus Tylenol.

What’s truly troubling is that the fruit never falls far from the tree. Does this mom drive her car with equal disregard and abandon? What carnage has her vehicular carelessness caused? Will she offer the same lame excuse in her own defense? "It was an accident, Officer." Question is, would her child be with her in the car or would she have left him behind, pedaling through the Wal-mart electronics department?

Maybe I’m wrong and this has nothing to do with unruly children, poor parenting skills or a decline in public decorum. Maybe this is just a sign from the universe that I should switch to decaf, stay spry and shop at Target.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

No Frakkin’ Way!

© 2009 Leighann Lord

Being a standup comic has its disadvantages. One of them is that I work weekends. I was acutely aware of this last Friday when the final episode of Battlestar Galactica (BSG) aired. Thanks to my Dad, my own living breathing TiVo, I have the two-hour finale on tape but I haven’t watched it yet. I’m not sure I can. I have a hard time letting go of TV shows that I love. To be honest I’m still in mourning over Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BtVS).

I was a fan of the original Battlestar Galactica. Don’t judge me. I was young and impressionable. At the time it seemed a lot better than Space 1999. This is back when Boomer was Black, Cylons were metal heads and Guyus Baltar was no quasi demigod chick magnet. "Launch Colonial Viper One!"

I didn’t get into the new Battlestar right away. I was interested but skeptical when I heard that a revamped version of the series was airing on the Sci Fi Channel. Could they really do it justice? Sure the special effects would be awesome, but what current cutie would they get to play Starbuck?

I tried not to prejudge too harshly, learning my lesson with BtVS. As a fan of the movie, I thought a TV version of Buffy would be pure blasphemy. I tuned in to watch – full of mock and derision, ready to hate it – and got hooked. No one cried harder than I (and Spike) when Buffy died at the end of season five. I hung on through season six and seven as the Scooby Gang fought The Big Bad (and horrible story lines). But unlike Evil Willow I was never "Bored now." Through it all "I think I was in heaven."

So I reserved judgement on BSG until I could watch a few episodes, but the Sci Fi Channel didn’t make that easy. It seemed in the early days the show had no set schedule. I never knew when it was on and neither did Papa TiVo. So I let it go. Besides, I was busy watching my favorite episodes of BtVS on DVD.

Whenever the topic of BSG came up with fellow sci fi fans they’d say, "You’re not watching ‘Battle Star Galactica’?"; their faces a mixture of shock, disappointment and incredulity. I started feeling like I was missing something. I acquired season one on DVD and with no commercial interruption became immediately enthralled. I plowed through seasons two and three, watched season four in real time and waited impatiently for season five.

This incarnation of Battlestar Galactica was less about special effects and more about the human condition. Driven to near extinction, how do you rebuild a civilization? The Cylon threat often took a back seat to the all too real and raw emotions, pettiness and politics. It was riveting. And now it’s over; well, only if I watch the final episode.

The jury is still out on that. I’ve watched a lot of final episodes and been plenty disappointed. The only thing worse then the final episode of BtVS was the finale of Angel. I remember staring at the TV screen hoping I’d just been punked. I waited patiently for Ashton Kutcher to crawl out from under my couch. I checked the closets and bathroom, but alas no Ashton. It is for this reason that I can’t bring myself to watch David Boreanaz in Bones. Hurt me once, David; hurt me once.

Many series don’t even get a last show. They just fall off the schedule never to be seen again like 4400, Joan of Arcadia and Firefly. Some say the latter was a deserved fall from a nonexistent grace. While I’ll concede it may not have been Joss Whedon’s best work I enjoyed this series very much on DVD. The movie, Serendipity, is one of my favorites.

There have also been series finales that I’ve flatly refused to watch. I’ve never seen the last episode of Mash. I just couldn’t do it. I know they all went home. I just don’t have enough Kleenex to watch it. Eventually my curiosity will get the better of me and before the week is out I’m sure I’ll be curled up on the couch watching the last episode of BSG. I have tons of questions and want to know how it all turns out. Does humanity survive and find a home? Does Hera bring the Cylons and human’s together? What’s up with Starbuck?

The bigger question for me is what will take Battlestar Galactica’s place? A costume and a green screen do not a sci-fi show make. Space 1999 anyone? No frakking way!

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Sweet Dreams, Chris

© 2009 Leighann Lord

Are the rumors true? Are Chris Brown and Rihanna back together after he so brutally assaulted her? I hope not but they are both rich, famous adults who can do what they want. All the rest of us in the Greek Chorus get to do is nit pick over the sordid details.

The Chorus is genuinely angry that Rihanna would go back to Chris, but studies show domestic violence victims find it difficult to leave their abusers. Just look at how many of us stayed in America during the Bush years. Our civil liberties took quite a beating from The Patriot Act. Oh sure we compensated by going on more vacations and moving record amounts of moolah to the Caymans, but very few pulled up permanent stakes. Me? I kept an overnight bag packed and my passport current.

The one person who really needs to be asking why Rihanna is getting back together with Chris Brown, is Chris Brown. Is it love? Maybe. But love should have kept Mr. Double Your Pleasure’s hands on the wheel of his Lamborghini. So clearly, love is not enough.

Chris needs to understand something about women. I don’t care how many prayers we pray, how many tears we shed, how many candles we light: Women Hold Grudges. We harbor, brood and ruminate. We do not know how to let things go. We may forgive, but we never forget.

The simple fact is, no matter how big and strong a man is, he still has to go to sleep. How soundly can he slumber next to a woman he has physically hurt and publicly humiliated? How quickly we forget the cautionary tale of John & Lorena Bobbit. Her name still sends chills down the spines of spineless men. How long can a man sleep with one eye open? Does Chris really want to be communing with Morpheus if and when Rihanna snaps?

There is no consensus in the Chorus. Some say stay, but only if they both get therapy. Some say goes and a good riddance. I am with the latter. If Rihanna is not safe, neither is Chris. If I were Rihanna, I’d keep my umbrella cocked and ready. If I were Chris Brown, I’d start getting nervous if Rihanna’s new favorite flick is the Jennifer Lopez movie "Enough." But I’m just nit picking.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

No Time for Tea; Damn You, Bernie!

© 2009 Leighann Lord
In this economy, once thriving businesses are closing and "For Rent" signs are sprouting up like weeds. Big names are shutting their doors: Circuit City, Linens ‘n’ Things, The Harlem Tea Room. Okay, the latter wasn’t a big name per se, but if you’d ever had the pleasure of tasting their scones you’d feel the loss as acutely as I do.

It was with scones in mind that I made a lunch date with one of my friends. We were looking forward to catching up with each other and what better place than The Harlem Tea Room? It was intimate and comfy. They boasted a wide variety of tea and, of course, scones! It was a bit of schlep for me, getting there from Queens, but it was worth it. In fact, it was another friend from Queens who first introduced me to The Tea Room. She sent me one of their post cards and wrote, "Leighann, I saw this place and thought of you."

I was so impressed that I shared it with everyone. It was the perfect spot for lunch with the girls. A couple of years ago I had private tea party there for my birthday. It was delightful. Scones make great birthday presents.

While looking for a parking spot, I drove by the place where The Harlem Tea Room was supposed to be. I didn’t completely comprehend the "For Rent" sign in the window. "That can’t be right," I thought to myself. I checked the address on my Black Berry and called the restaurant. An automated voice, that had no regard for my feelings, informed me that the number I had dialed was "no longer in service." She mind as well have said, "No scones for you, Leighann."

My friend and I chose another place for lunch. The food was good, the conversation was great, but it wasn’t The Harlem Tea Room; and, of course, there were no scones.

On the drive home, the blame game began. Was it my fault? I hadn’t been to The Harlem Tea Room in a while. Had my lack of recent patronage contributed to their closing? Did my absence affect their bottom line? Was The Harlem Tea Room another casualty of the economy? The mortgage crisis? Bernie Madoff?

When in doubt, Uber Ponzi Schemer Bernie Madoff is my Go To Guy for all things wrong with the economy. George Bush had Al Quaeda; I have Bernie Madoff. If he could pull off a $50 billion dollar global swindle that fooled our "best and brightest" economic minds then I’m sure he somehow factors into the demise of The Harlem Tea Room and my subsequent scone deprivation.

My husband, knowing my afternoon plans, had asked me to bring home a few scones for him. I joked that they wouldn’t survive the trip. Ha-Ha-Ha. But when I arrived home scone-less it was suddenly not so funny. As I gave him my grief stricken account of finding The Harlem Tea Room closed, my Husband went from wanting to check my car for crumbs to holding my hand and telling me everything was going to be okay. "We’re gonna get through this," he said.

"How?" I whined.

"We’ll sue Bernie Madoff?"
he said.

"Bloody brilliant!"

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Don't Pack Just Yet for the Racism Conference

© 2009 Leighann Lord

Edith M. Lederer reported in the Associated Press: "The United States has decided not to participate in a U.N. conference on racism in April unless the final document is changed to drop all references to Israel and the defamation of religion." Apparently the draft resolution, being crafted in Geneva, "singled out Israel for criticism and likened Zionism – the movement to establish and maintain a Jewish state – to racism," causing the U.S. and Israel to walk out midway through the eight-day meeting.

Um . . . okay . . . mondo points to the United States for being such a good friend to Israel. But after stomping out into the hallway in a huff, the Israeli Representative – being a good friend in return – should have said to the American, "Dude, good looking out. I appreciate it. But seriously, you’ve gotta go back in there."

Given our nation’s history, we don’t get to walk out of a conference on racism. On this subject, we can’t opt out of a phone call, an email or even a water cooler conversation. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal couldn’t opt out of giving the Republican rebuttal after President Obama’s address last week to Congress; although I’m sure he wished he had. Treasury Secretary Tim Geitner couldn’t opt out of paying his taxes, at least not for long. Tom Daschle couldn’t opt out of being a registered lobbyist. Well, actually, he did and look what happened.

America doesn’t have a corner on racism, but historically we have had two separate but equal houses on the block. After electing our first Black President there is an over whelming urge to say mission accomplished, but even I haven’t drunk that much Kool Aid. We’ve taken one giant step toward the mountain top, but we still have a little climbing left to do, not just as a nation, but as a species.

The World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance – called Durban II – is in real trouble of being boycotted by several nations. The fear is that the event will degenerate into a bash Israel fest. Apparently the Conference on Racism is mired in racism. All the more reason to stay in the room and work it out. Standing on the outside throwing rocks doesn’t work. Just ask the Palestinians.

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Iraq: Yes, It’s Over; Call It A Day

© 2009 Leighann Lord

President Obama announced on Friday that he is ordering the immediate draw down of the 142,000 troops in Iraq, officially ending the war on August 31, 2010. Antiwar activists are displeased that this plan will take three months longer than promised on the campaign trail and will leave behind a residual force of 50,000 troops.

Understandably, activists want the fast and easy breakup that we all wish we were mature enough to pull off. But once you get a little life under your belt you learn that its damn near impossible to leave any relationship quickly and cleanly. Breakups are always messy.

Stuff gets left behind: books, clothes, broken electronics, hearts and promises. The truth is we’ll never be able to completely leave. World War II ended in 1945 and yet we still have bases in Germany, Japan and Italy. Clearly we just don’t know how to let go. As the 90s R&B group Boys to Men so aptly crooned, "It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday."

Idealistically, even if we were completely out by tomorrow – DVDs and all – there’s still Afghanistan. It’s the military equivalent of going back to an old flame that you only kinda sort of broke up with; the unhealthy on-again, off-again relationship where someone’s always thinking: "I wish I knew how to quit you."

Doesn’t anyone appreciate the fact that there’s any kind of plan at all? America’s continued presence in Iraq has been contentious, summed up best by The Clash: "Should I stay or should I go? If I stay there will be trouble. If I go there will be double."

The minute we put boots under the bed – I mean, on the ground – the relationship got serious. You can’t go back to holding hands. That means leaving is going to cost us in time and money. Anybody who’s ever gone through a divorce can tell you that. Even with the best of intentions – we want to leave and they want us to go – it won’t happen over night.

Could this be a learning opportunity? A teachable moment? Perhaps when it comes to war we could use a little abstinence education. Whipping out weapons comes with consequences. You can’t just shoot and run. It’s easier to pull out diplomats than troops.

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