Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Enjoy my latest article in The Huffington Post!
What's An Out of Work (Iranian)Intelligence Minister to Do?
The numbers are in and unemployment in Iran is up by one. According to the BBC, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unceremoniously fired his Intelligence Minister Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie. Getting kicked to the professional curb is painful, especially when it’s sudden. But were there subtle signs Mr. Ejeie missed? Were there meetings he was no longer invited to? Were colleagues giving him furtive glances and stopping all conversation when he walked by? Was he suddenly not being CC’d on important emails? If so, it was time to ready the resume.
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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bed Bath and Belligerent: Fisticuffs in My Favorite Store

© 2009 Leighann Lord

Bed Bath and Beyond is one of my favorite stores. I love every part of it: the Bed, the Bath and especially the Beyond. In the main it’s a horrible store. And by horrible, I mean evil. You can’t go in for just one thing. I’ve tried. I’ve even tried to make a list, but B3 is list proof. It’s as if the store says, "I’ll see your list and raise you that cool shower squeegee you’ve been looking for." Dammit!

I’ve tried to outwit B3 by browsing its aisles without a shopping cart. Midway through the store, my arms full of merchandise, a kindly clerk will come by and offer me a cart. We don’t exchange any words beyond pleasantries. None are necessary. We both know I didn’t stand a chance. I was done for when I saw the box of Slim Line hangers on sale.

It helps that I’m on the mailing list and regularly receive B3's 20% off coupons. Sometimes they are addressed directly to me. Sometimes they say "Neighbor" or "Resident." Sometimes they’re in other people’s mail boxes all together, but that doesn’t matter. I know they’re all meant for me. It makes me feel like I’m getting a deal on stuff I didn’t even know I needed. It’s a shopaholic’s dream.

B3 is also great because it’s one of the few stores that my Husband and I both enjoy going too together. I hate food shopping. He hates the mall. But if one of us wants to go to Bed Bath & Beyond it’s a race to the car.

It’s my fault. I introduced him to B3 when we were creating our wedding registry. As an amazing cook, his favorite part of the store is kitchen stuff. I leave him alone in there at my peril. But if I turn a blind eye to his matching dish towels, he overlooks my umpteenth Bed in a Bag set. Marriage and shopping are about compromise.

B3 gets an A for ambiance. It’s big and well stocked without feeling cluttered. Visually appealing, superbly organized, clean and quiet. So I was surprised to go one Sunday with my Mother and walk in on a fight in progress. Two middle-aged Jewish men were engaged in full on fisticuffs and, sweet Jesus on the cross, the yarmulkas were flying.

I usually don’t stop to watch outdoor altercations. Ever the wary city dweller, I suspect most fights are staged diversions for pick pockets and purse snatchers. I felt safe enough in B3 however to treat myself to a free fight, but you get what you pay for.

On closer observation, it was sad. Their technique was terrible. Neither one of these guys had the proper distance nor stance. No decent punches were thrown or landed. Foot and leg work were nonexistent, and nobody even tried for a take down.

It wasn’t so much a fight as it was a vigorous tussle. They wouldn’t even have made the under card. There was some shoving and shirt pulling, but each man probably hurt himself more from the effort of exertion. The best part of the fight was watching the wives of the tussling men try to break it up. The wife wielding the umbrella had pretty good form.

The security guard eventually ended the disturbance and hustled the men out the door. B3 equanimity restored. I don’t know what the fight was about. It doesn’t matter. When grownups get physical, it’s usually over something petty: a parking space, who’s next in line, oil.

What is important is that both couples left B3 without completing their purchases. That means they didn’t use their coupons. For a fleeting moment I considered offering to take said coupons off their hands, but could see no tactful way to broach the subject without starting another row. From what I saw I could take the men but the woman with the umbrella looked like trouble.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

"Ewww! Men Smell Like Balls"

© 2009 Leighann Lord

This was the consensus of The Women in the locker room. We had all just finished an hour long Bag Training class at my martial arts school. And while none of us were exactly spring time fresh, The Men in class had been a special kind of funky. They weren’t James Brown funky, but under-funded, public zoo funky.

To be fair, you can’t put in an hour punching the heavy bag, kicking the shields, throwing combinations on the Muay Thai pads, and not end up a bit wiffy. But in our earnest locker room recap, The Women agreed that to smell that bad, The Men must have come to class already reeking.

In truth, it was probably only One Guy but one bad gonad spoils the whole bunch; and The Women lumped them all into the same sack. "You know it’s bad when they stink during the warm-up," one lady said. "By the time we got to the sit ups I wanted to pass out."

As if we were sitting around the camp fire telling each other scary ghost stories, theories abounded as to the origins of this Man Stench. The most popular hypothesis was that The Men weren’t washing their uniforms. Were The Men training, sweating and putting their soiled uniforms back into their gym bags until the next class, without the benefit of being laundered? Ewww! The Women were repulsed at the very thought of such unsanitary practices and yet we felt compelled to identify said scent, as if by naming it we could reduce it’s power.

"Old sweat?" said one.
"Ass?" offered another.
"Ewww! Yes, balls!"
we agreed, wrinkling our noses and shaking our heads.
Key areas of the human body – male, female, or trans-gender – when not regularly tended to, can produce a cornucopia of distinctive odors. Much like an old container of milk, you know when it goes rogue.

Ironically, this entire conversation was punctuated by the sound of spritzing. Most of us were getting ready for the next class. With just enough time to change t-shirts and freshen up, The Ladies took the freshening up part very seriously. To a woman, every one of us was armed with a toiletry bag of wipes, sanitizers, deodorant, perfume, powder, and an awesome assortment of sprays from Bath & Body Works. The air was heavy with Creamy Coconut, Cherry Blossom, Cucumber Melon, Sweet Pea, Warm Vanilla Sugar, and my personal favorite, Moonlight Path.

We Women are well aware that on "The Rock-Paper-Scissors Scale" bad body odor beats Bed, Bath & Body Works. Spritzing is only a temporary fix. So why bother? Lady Logic: We may not mind landing a cross punch to our sparring partner’s head, but we don’t want to smell bad to them while doing it.

And then it occurred to me, maybe The Women were going about this all wrong. Unlike other animals, human beings do not possess many natural defenses. We are not the strongest or the fastest. A sharp tongue is no match for sharp teeth. Perhaps The Men are wisely using all the tools in their arsenal. While We scent sensitive Women are busy fighting the funk, The Men are using their funk to fight. Brilliant! Horses aren’t the only creatures who can win by a nose.

Does this tactic have a name? The Grody Gambit? If it works, I might need to ditch the Moonlight Path and buy some black market Zicam.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Sarah Palin Resigns: It's Not You. It's Me.

© 2009 Leighann Lord

As the country waits impatiently with arms crossed, and eye brows arched for South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford to resign over his marital infidelity and abandonment of his state, we were blind sided by Sarah Palin’s sudden resignation. "She what? Did she cheat on The First Dude? No? Then WTF?

I, like most of America, was caught unawares when John McCain picked Palin from relative political obscurity to be his vice presidential running mate. "Who? The Governor of Where?" And off we went to Wikipedia to get up to speed. I don’t know Sarah Palin personally. Perhaps if we sat down and chatted over a cup of coffee, it’s possible I might come to like her on a personal level. Politically, she’s way too socially conservative for me.

That said, I still dig Sarah in the same way that I dig Alan Keyes. I love that in the middle of the American media spin factory they speak their minds. On some issues they even make sense, but not enough to earn my vote. They do however add to the diversity of thought and opinion that is necessary. My inner idealist believes we can agree to disagree. We can all speak our peace, come to some kind of mutual understanding and respect, and proceed on common ground with common goals. I’m also a Harry Potter fan, so I’m hopeful at heart. Sadly, my belief in magic is sometimes easier than my belief in my fellow muggles.

Still, I am floored that Sarah resigned. I never pegged her as a quitter. She impressed me as a fighter and in the best possible sense, a tough broad. She loves Alaska, and that’s why she’s leaving office? It sounds like her constituents just got dumped. The "It’s not you, it’s me" line, never feels good now matter how sincerely it’s said.

In theory, it’s sweet that Palin consulted her kids on whether or not she should continue as Governor but the legal voting age is 18 for a reason. Unless they’re putting food on the family table, I don’t really see how their vote counts.

This decision seems a particularly feminine one. I doubt a male politician – short of being caught visiting a call girl – would willingly resign because he felt he could no longer do his job effectively or because he wanted to save tax payer money.

I’m also not sure how resigning, positions her for a run at national office. The first question will surely be, "You quit your last job. How do we know you’ll keep this one?" It’s mildly refreshing, however, that she said she doesn’t need a title to effect change. Usually we have to pry a title from a politician’s cold dead hand. I think we all half expected former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich to barricade himself in the governor’s mansion post impeachment.

At the end of the month, Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell will assume the Governorship. I hope Alaskans have better luck with their newly promoted lieutenant than we New Yorkers have had with ours.

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