Friday, September 29, 2006

RANT: I like have a problem with like

Pronunciation: 'rant
obsolete Dutch ranten, randen
intransitive verb :
1 : to talk in a noisy, excited, or declamatory manner 2 : to scold vehemently
transitive verb : to utter in a bombastic declamatory fashion

tell me to shut up (no YOU shut up!) about my like pet peeve any ol' time, but i got to thinkin' - I cant be the only one aware of this rabid-overuse-of-the-word-like problem affecting language today. sure enough:

# of Google search pages that mention "people who say like": 4,780
# of Google search pages that mention "people that say like": 2,190
# of Google search pages that mention "saying like all the time": 1,080
# of Google search pages that mention "like as (a) filler": 649

I also love that wikipedia has a blurb on it.

the more we think about it, the more you catch yourself using (and overusing) it, the quicker we'll like eradicate it. I'll let the above 8,699 webpages rail on the most annoying lazy-ass, filler word since "um" and "uh" got marginalized into non-existence. Take a moment, people! breathe! pause. it's ok. People will wait for you to continue.. I like.. swear.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

how to tell loud people to shut up

the 'Back Me Up' Campaign

----You're on the bus. Maybe the subway. You're minding your own business. Maybe you're reading, or listening to music, maybe you're just people watching. The bus stops, the train stops, the doors to wherever you are open and.. in they walk. You wouldn't have even looked towards the door, you were lost in thought until now. Commotion. Loud. Annoying. Voices. You're looking for what must be a nerd that some unruly bullies are picking on. Except there is no nerd being picked on.. just four loud, high-pitched, loud teens (that are loud).
----Everyone looks for a second or two, then looks away. You feel the collective grinding of nerves of your fellow transit-mates, or restaraunt mates.. or wherever.
----Why? Why are they talking so F'ing loudly??? How can they not know that they are annoying everyone around them?? But of course, since you are not a complete moron, you know, for a fact... that they don't care. Not one iota. They are in the moment. They are fully absorbed in the psychological phenomena of teen (or pre-teen, or drunk) group dynamics. You see the elderly bristle and cast occassional dirty looks, too far removed from what it was like to run around in these loud, mini-mobs. The middle aged are thinking about things like 'respect', 'common courtesy' and the decline of civilization as they knew it, all the while hoping to the gods that their kids don't turn out to be so freaking annoying. The 20 and 30-somethings, being closer in age, watch the disgusting display of what it was like to be that age and sit, self-loathing at the fact that they may have ever been even remotely like that. Your thoughts mirror those of everyone around you: why dont you shut the F&@# up already?!?! good GOD! You are impressing NO ONE with your ability to be the center of this bus' attention! Your sharing of the details of your campus soap opera do NOT need to be expressed at volume level 11.5 Did you really just say you would "tap that ass"??? If I screamed really loud, like a ferret just bit me in the privates, would they shut up?? You think all these things. You say nothing.
----Fast forward to 10 seconds after you get off the bus.
----You.. didn't say anything. Did you? No one stood up to the little self absorbed, walking rubber bands of ego. Again. You're disgusted with yourself and with everyone around you. Hell, I'm disgusted with you and I wasn't even there. Were they carrying guns? knives? Were they big dudes, wearing ninja outfits, were they naked and crazy? No. no. As usual.. No. A busload of adults, held auditory-hostage simply because no one spoke up. Well, the root reason is that they chose to ignore the social laws of public decency. Oh sure, you've done it yourself before, there's no need to pretend you've never been a boorish public buffoon. Maybe it was the last time you drank too much with friends before heading to that bar downtown. Maybe during an excited cross country phone conversation with a friend you haven't talked to in years. Or maybe, just when you and your friends were 15, en route to see Rocky III for the fourth time. You were in the moment.. until ..that moment when you realized you were that loud, obnoxious guy you normally hate. "Screw it. I'm in the moment!", you thought. Or maybe you didnt. Maybe you experienced a twinge of guilt and moved on. All I'm saying is, you know the moment we're talking about - you know it when you do it and you certainly know it when you're forced to endure others doing it. And no, such behavior is not understandable, it's not excusable, it's not an "adorable outlet for youthful energy" - it is obnoxious, socially unacceptable behavior and to sit back and take it, year after year after year makes us all.. I'm sorry, but it’s true.. social weaklings.
----What am I suggesting, then? Raider Shoulders? Nope. too passive, in this situation. You want quiet.. that's really all you want. For you and your fellow travelers. But you're just one person and they're four. So, really - what can you do? Nothing? You've already tried that.. how'd that work out for you? Exactly. "But if I speak up, surely this group of teens will gang up on me and ridicule me and my bus-mates will look on in sympathetic horror as I toss myself to these wolves". Boo Hoo. Time to grow up. And grow a pair. In fact.. grow a busload of pairs. Your moment in the sun draws nigh... ready? Put on your sternest face and say: "Hey!! keep it down! please! you're in fucking public, no one wants to hear you all" (cursing gets their attention and appeals to their cool-people-curse! vernacular). One of them, probably the alpha-jerk of the group, will rebound with "shut up, old man" or "make me" or "perhaps it is YOU who should be the one doing the shutting up!!" .. something along those lines. This is where you employ your secret weapon, your social liberator, your Power-to-the-People-er-(er?).
----"No one wants to hear your bullshit" (again, displaying your coolness) and then drop the real bomb on, not just them, but everyone who had been dying to speak up - to the rest of the bus, quickly add: "Can I get an Amen, people??". While you're saying that, turn and look directly at either a) the biggest dudes on the bus who will physically back you up, if need be b) the people who are looking at you, shocked, but smiling in agreement c) the elderly and/or crazy people who just like to talk, period d) the bus driver e) all of the above. If one or more of your (former) hostages dont immediately throw in a token "Amen!" (and really, who doesn't like to say Amen?), you will then add "c'mon, back me up, here my peoples" (and really, who doesn't love being called "my peoples"?). At the very least, you will diffuse the tense situation somewhat and probably get a good chuckle out of those with a sense of humor. If all of that fails, turn back to the loud-talkers, sigh, and say "Alright. everyone wants you to shut the hell up, but everyone's too scared to speak up, I guess. Go ahead and talk as LOUDLY as you want... OR.. or you could have some fucking respect and keep it down". Now is the moment where it’ll seem like no one really knows what to do, but the fact that you've out-loud-ed them and shamed your whole bus will probably tip things in your favor - (if there's one thing that'll make a group of people stand up for themselves, it's being told they're scared of a much, much smaller group of people (assuming those people dont have guns or badges)). Whether anyone volunteers a better-late-than-never "Amen" or not.. these people now do have your back. You will not be getting your ass kicked today (chin up! there's always tomorrow!) and while you probably haven't made the best of friends with the loud-talkers or your busmates and while everyone involved may have learned absolutely nothing.. you will have stood up for yourself.. and for others. Mostly, you stood up for a considerate society that isnt intimidated into quietude.
----It doesn't have to be loud teenagers - it could be anyone, any group of people. Two loud homeless guys. Or three business jerks. Or five soccer momish coworkers out on the town. Blind Peruvian little people, even. Or three people just like you. They'll come in all shapes and sizes. They all, however, come in the same volume and same level of self-awareness: loud, and none.
----You can tell them to shut up. It is possible. You just need someone, or a lot of someones, to answer your call to "Back Me Up". If you inspire even a few people to stand up for themselves at some later point, you've made your city that much better of a place. Contrary to all the "dont sweat the small stuff" mantras bandied about these days, I say "do sweat the small stuff", before it becomes 'big stuff' and because sometimes, the small stuff is the only stuff you can change. Or, you can keep letting the ..busmates run the asylum, saying and doing whatever they want to, wherever they want to. Stand up for youself. Stand up for the mother covering her daughter's ears so she doesn't have to hear some wannabe street thug teens try to out-gross out or out-loud or out-sex-talk eachother. Stand up, because you can. Because you should. Stand up because someone has to be the first domino.
----Can I get an Amen?

p.s. as with the Raider Shoulder, use common sense in who you confront. Gang members, body builders, pirates and ninjas, among others, have reputations to protect. Do not challenge them. As a rule, avoid shushing those with weapons, muscles that overlap more muscles, chemical imbalances or briefcases that tick. Also, check out your fellow busmates before you speak up. Does it look like they'll back you up? If you see them all speaking in sign language to eachother or everyone's got headphones in, chances are, you'll be a little out of luck asking for an Amen. Common sense, as always, is the cornerstone of Safety First.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Preseason Football

People who argue that the (NFL) preseason games "dont count" ought to be forced to play in one; against men who've structured their lives so far to lead up to this point and no other. They're clawing desperately at ever narrowing odds of being able to play the sport they love, for money - for a few years - with even narrower odds of becoming marginally famous enough to stay in the game for a veteran average of 10 years. For the amazing feats produced under stress and competition alone, we should consider these games even more real than the regular season and rally behind aspiring players because they're the closest our couch-potato asses will ever come to being able to play on that skill level.
--other points worthy of note:
-----these guys all memorize playbooks the size of phone books.
-----these guys all. memorize. playbooks. the size. of. phone books.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Listicle 22.SS

←··→ More reasons to dislike makeup: A survey has revealed that British women spend more than two years of their lives applying and removing £22,000 worth of make-up. The research found the average woman dedicates 603 days to applying mascara, blusher, lipstick and eye-shadow - and a further 170 taking it all off again. Once I see the study that shows how many sprained and broken ankles are the result of high heels, I'll post that too.

←··→ Drool-worthy libraries. Damn Rijksmuseum library was closed when we went. Grrr.

←··→ Pshh. I make stuff like this all the time. in my MIND!

←··→ if you say you dont like cities as miniature scale models, I say you are lying!

←··→ Have you seen this man? on a truck? playing piano? with a dog on the paino? [Wash Sq Pk]

←··→ Have you seen this cat? on a bed? or window sill?

←··→ Oh my lord, this one makes my eyes ask "why are you making me look at this?":

←··→ Have I stopped loving zombies? Heyyylll No. The best line: The zombies [were] shouting "What do we want? Brains! When do we want them? Brains!"

←··→ How does the rest of the web (and the world, wide as it is) know this and I didnt?

Jury Duty: Work-Stress Release Therapy

"The Persians", on the ceiling of the inner dome of the courthouse rotunda.
¤ ¤ ¤ You ask me "Kory?" (I interrupt with a Vincent Price voice "yyyyesss?" - you grimace, annoyed, then continue) "how can I be 100% all American and partake of a most cherished get-out-of-work-free card?". In need of emphasizing your quandary, you add: "how? how?? I beseech you. Lo, please tell me!" Ignoring for now the fact that you used the words beseech and lo in a sentence, I lean back, tie the belt of my smoking jacket, and despite No Smoking signs plastered in at least 12 locations that I can see, proceed to light my pipe, stroke my beard pensively and finally, after a pause and opening paragraph far, far too long say "The answer is simple, my child.. Jury Duty".
¤ ¤ ¤ It's true. I believe I am one of 14 people on this planet that holds aloft their jury duty summons and sings the "I've got a Golden Ticket" song. "Kory, please explain! Why?" Ok. Since you asked: Where else can you: 1) avoid work 2) sit around all day 3) read (before you interject: "Kory?! that's what you do all day anyway!!", I put my index finger to your lips and sensually hum "Sssshhhhhhh! daddy's gonna make everything allllriiight." sufficiently creeped out? good, let's continue) #4. Always... number 4. 4) how about a little thing called.. serve America!?? (I say this while pumping my fist in the air, patriotically) 5) do your civic duty (yes, 'duty', please, no giggling) 6) take two hour lunches 7) explore new neighborhoods 8) all of the above.
Really, it doesn't get much better. Unless you're me, today, this morning to be specific.
¤ ¤ ¤ Day 1: My jury summonses (more on the plural later) tells me I am to arrive at 8:45am. Arriving promptly at 9:10am, I see that I am to be serving in the very same main courthouse that tried and convicted Martha Stewart, oh so many forgotten months ago. One security screening line and a 15 minute elevator wait later, I find room 452. Hollywood couldn't have done it better; it is a stunningly beautiful governmenty room replete with reassuringly courthouse-colored-wood and historic paintings of New York in a scale so massive, I'm convinced each dwarfs the square footage of my apartment. I am in awe, eyes wide, mouth a bit slack and just as I am lowering myself into a seat, of course, the fire alarm goes off. We file out the room to see a building technician hesitantly touching some fire alarm buttons while making the "please work! c'mon you stupid thing, please work" face. It doesn't work.
We file out of the building and mill about while watching five fire trucks arrive. About 30 or more firefighters file in and a few minutes later, file out. An entire courthouse full of people slowly file back in. Back upstairs, I hand in my paperwork and explain that I've been summoned twice, once as Kory Dayani and once as my birth name Kuroesh, which the NY DMV forced me to use on my drivers license to prove that still, after 36 years, Americans can not pronounce my birth name. Before I can finish explaining about the summonses, I'm interrupted, with a smile, and told to go to room 139 to have it straightened out. I dread what's about to come. Instead, I'm treated to some of the kindest and most efficient customer service I may have received so far in NY and I'm in and out of there in less than 5 minutes. I return to the jury room and sit and watch a truly bizarre video - starring Jane Pauly - describing in 1st-grade-reading-level detail, the judicial system as it'll apply to us. Needing coffee, I walk out into the hallway, which is likewise over-government-alized but Orwellianly efficient.. mirroring the quality and effect of the coffee. I return to the jury room in time to hear attendance called so I start reading my book thinking that the sound of my name will be obvious. When I realize they've finished reading the names and I haven't heard mine, I see that it wasn't so obvious. I go up and tell them I'm present. Three minutes later, they start calling names for 25 prospective jurors to head to room C. Mine is the second name called. I make a note to pay more attention to roll call tomorrow.
¤ ¤ ¤ In the jury selection room, the "jury lady" let's call her, assigns us seats using the same voice a teacher might use to direct second graders for a class photo ("No you here, you there.. yes, good"). We then begin the next long wait-and-wait period. Waiting for .. the lawyers: It's been about 6 years since I last did jury duty in which time I guess I had forgotten how lawyers, especially during jury selection, are part psychologist, part hypnotist, part your life long best friend and unintentionally, part asshole. Knowledge of the law is pretty secondary when it comes to picking a jury. Any hoo-ha about the letter of the law this or 'basing your opinion on the facts presented', these men and women will not be successful lawyers without making themselves eminently likeable. Yet despite all the niceties and camaraderie building, a bit of dick-ish-ness always seems to slip through, whether it be snidely pointing out that the opposing lawyer is running too long or cutting off a prospective juror mid-sentence for whatever reason, valid or not. Lawyers also, and I do not blame them for this, have no problem with taking their sweet. ass. time. With everything. They are representing real people with real problems paying real money to.... really slow and methodical people. Maybe it's part of the hypnotization? Maybe it's a test to see which jurors have patience and which will blurt out "Oh for the love of god, get on with it!"
¤ ¤ ¤ The case was "a slip and fall case" - I use the quotes because over the next two days, I'd become very familiar with the term. My unofficial lack of any research whatsoever shows that 125% of all personal injury lawsuits are "slip and fall" cases. It seems that a cleaning lady "slipped" and "fell" on some sand "laid down" to melt snow on a "housing" project "stairway" (sorry, now I'm just gratuitously air quoting 'cause it's fun). We listened to the lawyers vaguely describing the case while asking each juror the same battery of questions we all would have rather been asked as a group since this individual-asking method was going to take well over an hour. When it came to me, I answered their questions with what I did for a living, that I could be fair and impartial and to the question "is there any reason you do you not want to serve on this jury?" I answered: "well.. I don’t -want- to serve on this jury.. I'd rather sit in that big room out there and read my book". This got a round of laughs, convincing me I might have a future in jury selection room stand up comedy. It seemed like the most honest answer to me but deep down, I knew I'd probably been just enough of a smart-ass to get me off of this particular jury. I hadn't said anything overtly offensive or lied about some bias that I didn't have, I just told it like it is (was?). I think lawyers have a problem with people keepin' it real. And if you know me well enough, you know I love nothing more than keepin' it real. (yeah, the italics kind). You could be a total racist, keeping completely quiet and end up being selected for a jury far easier than if you asked a simple question or offered up a funny bit of truth. The latter is often reason enough to 'just not take a chance' on a juror having some sort of biased subtext behind their question or comment, though they almost surely didn't.
¤ ¤ ¤ A two and a half hour lunch later, we filed back into the jury selection room and listened to the list of those selected, hoping to not hear any syllable involved in my name. "But, I thought you said you wanted to serve on a jury?" Oh, that much is true. Just not on one so.. how do I say this..? not-at-all-interesting-whatsoever,-not-even-a-little-bit. Hey, I never said jury duty wasn't going to be all about me.
¤ ¤ ¤ Day 2: Which is probably why, the very next day, I was assigned to another slip and fall prospective jury group. An Italian immigrant had slipped "and" fallen over a sprinkler installed in 1908, leading into a building built in 1865. Why are those dates important? They're not, really, I just think it's cool that it was so long ago. The lawyers in this case were a bit more arsehole-ish and a little less skilled at the hypnotist/psychologist game. To prove this point, they put no less than five people that I saw, completely to sleep. (unlike high school English class, no one yelled at them to wake up. Interesting, because I would think that a legal case would be a bit more important than one day in high school English class). Needless to say, I wanted off of this case as well. Part of me wishes I had opted for the more charismatic lawyer duo from the last case but hey, no regrets, let's spin the wheel again: "Does anyone have a problem with the idea of awarding money for things like pain and suffering?" I raise my hand. "Lost wages and medical costs are one thing but I think I might have a problem with awarding thousands and thousands of dollars for things that aren't quantifiable. Intangible claims.. trying to project into the future how much of your life has been altered.. I think it's hard to put a dollar amount on things like that". Bingo. I was off, for sure. Again, I'd spoken nothing but the truth but I knew no prosecutor in his right mind would want a juror who'd potentially be hesitant to give his client a large, large check. I sensed that other jurors picked up on my strategy. "Can I ask if your client has brought other slip and fall cases?" asked the guy to the right of me. Emotional indignation from the lady to my left: "yeah, I'd hope to god that If -I- were injured, I'd be justly compensated!". A few others around the room offered up just enough subtle implications that they might have a personal opinion of some kind.. on anything.. related to the case or not. Long story long, no one who spoke up was selected.
¤ ¤ ¤ Released back into the large jury selection room, I checked my email on the free laptops they provide, read for a bit and waited to be released for the day or sent to another selection room. "Would all those jurors who'd been in room C follow me, please?" We followed. And entered an actual courtroom. Oooh. What does this mean? I have no idea. Have we all been selected for a case without being questioned or...? Somehow I didn't see this coming: "Ok, you've all been released from service. This document here - you're going to make three copies of it. Make three copies of it. Make three copies of it. I said that three times, right? Good. Make three copies of it. Keep one copy in different corners of your house. If you're selected again any time in the next four years - and hey, it might happen, we are the government - mail one copy in and we'll fix it. Thank you all for serving. Have a great weekend".
¤ ¤ ¤ Doh. It seems I spun the pick-me fate wheel one too many times. Despite the fact that we'd been told we'd have to be there for a minimum of three days, I was being released on day two without having been picked. My goal had of course been to get picked for a jury and to serve for 10 to 14 days or so. I had thought I would have been more disappointed but even just the two days had done wonders for mentally recharging the ol' batteries, depleted in that way that only endless workdays can sap.
¤ ¤ ¤ On my way out of the building, I used the second floor bathrooms before walking home. The stairs leading to it were, strangely, one of my favorite parts of the jury duty experience. A pearl white marble, the center areas of each of a dozen steps had been worn smooth by the footsteps of 86 years of daily use. Weekday after weekday, feet had tip tapped their way up and down seemingly impervious steps, wearing away the minutest amount of marble per step. There are moments in a city so old that history and time itself arent just visible, they're felt, even if it's just in the soles of your feet. I stood and gaped at the wear on the steps and although I knew I was alone, I said "wow" out loud, even though I was totally conscious of the fact that I was standing there saying "wow" out loud. Leaving the building, I started my aimless walk up Broadway, peering into shops and people watching, knowing the rest of the city was still working.. wishing, probably without really knowing it, that they had jury duty too.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

catskills wedding

Esra and I went to my first jewish wedding in the catskills this last weekend. the jewish part was really cool, the wedding part was.. soggy. As in, it rained from exactly the time people got to the wedding grounds till.. the next morning, when the sun came out. The tent channeled the water directly into and then all over the ground beneath the tent, creating an almost comical "oh well" scene stopping short of a Woodstock concert only by the lack of hearing-loss-inducing music and muddy nakedness. The morning/afternoon of the wedding, i played miniature golf in the rain with a guy we drove up with while the girls did yoga. This fact somehow ranks as a highlight of the weekend. On sunday, my thin styrofoam plate of breakfast split where my thumb gripped the top of it and i watched in slo-mo as my food went from horizontal to vertical to horizontal to a roomfull of "AWWWww"'s. A chorus in such perfect unison that i have to add that to the highlight reel too. Other highlights included: Esra's cute obsession with finding mouse poop in our B&B room, the vortex of customer-service-less-ness that is the catskills and yours truly wearing a yamulka. no lie, i've got pictures.


the A Team. take a wild guess who's Mr T, sucka!

Esra models the wisest shoe choice of the weekend. (galloshes)