Category Archives: Rant


Happy 2016! Now see here.

The new year is still in diapers, and I’m mad already. Why do I allow this to happen? Why?

Because I care. Or because I can. One of the two.

Behold, my list of…

Seriously. Just stop it.

  1. The ridiculous forwarding of hoaxes on social media (Facebook, especially). There are a lot of cool people on my friend list, and I’m not patronizing them, believe me; they’re fun and smart folks. But the height of the ridiculous was reached several weeks ago when otherwise intelligent people began to copy and paste to their profiles the utterly, preposterously vapid notion that Mark Zuckerberg was giving away a huge chunk of his fortune to Facebook users, if they’d only forward the post saying he would do so.  Again — people who otherwise are bright and savvy were cheerfully passing this on, many with the obligatory infuriating disclaimer, I figured ‘why not?’ Couldn’t hurt! Oh, but dear heart, it does hurt. It hurts the appearance that you might have a marginal lick of horse sense. This also applies to the forwarding of pictures with cockamamie stories, like the one that pictured ISIS flags in a demonstration in Dearborn Michigan, with the text going something like, “Think we don’t have a Muslim problem in the US? Pay attention!” Under a minute of cursory research reveals that the ISIS flags were actually part of an anti-ISIS rally by American Muslims living in Dearborn. But let’s not allow facts to get in the way. Rule of thumb: Always, always check. Use sites like,,
  2. The inane assumption that professional athletes cannot party. Yes, Johnny Manziel was spotted in a Vegas casino after being declared PUP by the Browns because of a concussion. And worse — he was laughing after a loss. Honestly. So what? As Charles Barkley famously proclaimed back in ’93: they aren’t paid to be role models, even though many think they should be (and admittedly, some have a morals clause in their contract). But look: What’s different about Manziel’s bad-boy off-the-field behavior compared to that of Michael Jordan, Joe Namath, Babe Ruth, Brett Favre, Dwight Gooden, Mickey Mantle, Lawrence Taylor, and countless other relentless party boy pro athletes who came before him? Social media, that’s what. Instant coverage; getting caught in the act, on video. The older guys never had to deal with that, and I submit it was easier to be naughty because of it. Moreoever, I’m not so sure Johnny ever had a bona fide drinking problem; rather, his handlers suggested rehab as a way to mitigate the feelings of anger the fan base experienced after the first video came out. I can’t prove it, but I still believe it in my gut of guts. Bottom line: If a player shows up and does the work, it doesn’t matter what he does afterwards any more than what you do after you go home from work, providing he isn’t breaking the law or a contract stipulation. If Manziel is “immature” on the playing field, then deal with it in a football manner. If he’s immature off the field, so what? It is (unfortunately) not a crime to be a jerk. It may all be moot soon anyway, as the customary and predictable biennial shakedown in the Browns front office took place last night, and Johnny may very well be hitting the road. But let’s take the sainthood aspect out of sports, because they ain’t saints. Hey, here’s a wacky idea: Parents, what if you took up the sword of teaching your kids to not be idiots about worshiping these people?        Naaah.
  3. The sickening hate speech operating under the shield of anonymity. Scratch that. Shorten it to just “The sickening hate speech.” Many online news sites have gone to the Facebook plugin exclusively for comments, but it has done little to stop some from being openly, shamelessly awful via their responses. (In regards to the the ISIS issue in #1, read some of the comments on the original Facebook post. They’re disgusting, but not nearly as terrible as some of the less transparent Disqus comments I’ve read. Also, as a veteran of Usenet and DejaNews back in the 90s, I have seen some pretty nasty stuff, but it was rarely ever posted by someone using his/her real name.) People who would likely never be as “brave” in person let loose bigtime on the internet, spewing hatred so vile it makes me wonder how they sleep at night.

The ridiculous, the inane, and the sickening. Wasn’t this just fussy of me today? Who knows; maybe it’s due to my having to reactivate my 4:45 a.m. daily alarm. I have it so tough, you know. ;-)

It’s been a fantastic winter break. Now it’s back to the insanity: the nonstop race to get through May. Once I’m there, we’re good! Ready, steady…

In defense of television

Yesterday, I went on a mini-tirade on Facebook about “reality” TV programming. A friend suggested I get rid of cable and just go with Netflix (sorry, no sports, news, premium channels, On Demand, etc. — seriously, what would I do if I couldn’t watch the Indians and Browns lose?).

The other night, I posted about a huge grammar gaffe a newscaster made, and someone said here’s an idea: “turn off the TV.” Now fiends, I realize that my world should not (and does not) revolve around Gee, what’s on TV tonight?” I have other interests, as I’m sure we all do. And I’m not defending the pile of garbage that much of television has become. Rather, I’m here to defend a part of TV that is worthwhile, and to dispel the notion that those of us who carve out time to watch it are somehow devoid of a quality existence, or are blessed with oodles of mindless, shiftless, lazy, unproductive hours every day to devote to it.

In other words: anti-TV snobs, get off your high horses. I understand that it is oh so de rigueur to hate television. I get it. But what gets me is those who opine large and long against all TV, when they haven’t seen a program of any kind in months or years — or ever.

It’s OK, though. Eeeeeverybody got an opinion. And this is not to say that I wholeheartedly approve of a glut of TV for children or anyone; I don’t. I’m not a complete stupe — kids need to play and read and talk and go places and have kid fun. Everything in moderation, right? Instead, I’m talking about adults making TV choices. If I had a dollar every time I got the impression from someone that the only good storytelling one can receive is from a book or a stage play…please.

Again, if that’s your opinion, gofrit. But I am here to tell you that there is indeed interesting, compelling content on TV today. I have my favorites, and you have yours. If you have no favorites, or you hate all TV, and because you don’t watch it you believe the medium shouldn’t exist — well, that’s fine too, but it makes you 100% unqualified to judge what’s on. In other words, don’t be a pretentious telenazi. Be nice. You can disagree with the hoi polloi without coming across as, well…you know. And I get that you can hate drinking diesel fuel without ever having actually drunk it, but let’s not go overboard here. It’s entertainment, people. Nothing existential. Move along.

I think I’m smarter for watching the many documentaries, news programs, historical series and interviews I’ve seen on TV over the years. I’ve been challenged by story lines on the shows I watch — many of which have characters just as rich and complex as the ones I read about in my books every night. The bad stuff on TV? You stay away from it, just like you’d avoid the works of authors and playwrights you don’t particularly like. Simple as that. God knows I hate reality shows, which is why I don’t watch them. Aside from sports and news programming, I like TV mostly for fictional drama. You know, escape — like in books, except the characters actually move and talk in front of your eyes instead of in your brain. And the miracle of DVR? Priceless. Or, I should say, worth the price. At least for now. :-)

Hey, it’s Finkday! Be happy!

On schadenfreude and meanyism

Look, we’ve all done it, in some measure or form, and with varying degrees of intensity. It’s part of the human condition: we snark because we can. And as I was just discussing with RtB fiend David this morning, the medium through which we convey our vitriol makes it pretty easy to be hard.

Schadenfreude. The literal translation of this compound German word is “harm” (Schaden) “joy” (Freude). The specific meaning is, of course, taking malicious joy in the misfortune of others. We see it — and participate in it — in many forms. How many of us have found ourselves celebrating along with the shouting witnesses in a courtroom when the “guilty” verdict is broadcast on live TV, or thinking Yes! when the bad guy in a movie gets what’s coming to him?

Any of us who grew up with siblings experienced schadenfreude every time our brother got in trouble for eating the cookies that Mom saved back for us, or when we slapped our sister back, and asked her as she wailed in pain, See how it feels? How do YOU like it? In some ways, it’s a necessary rite of passage, in that we (hopefully) learn that to take satisfaction in others’ misery is a terrible thing to do. It’s malicious joy, and there is no room for that in a good person’s heart.

But lately, especially on social media, this malicious joy is crossing the lines of what is considered even the most marginal boundaries of integrity and respect, and it leads, almost without exception, to…

Meanyism. It will come as no surprise to you that I refer not only to the idiots who run off at the mouth because they don’t know any better and their mamas didn’t bother to teach them anything, but also to intelligent, well-read, otherwise lovely and caring people who lose their frickin’ minds at the slightest suggestion that another person might choose to live his or her life by different rules, or worse, glean an alternate meaning from the teachings of the Bible.


Sidebar from a lay person who was raised in the Baptist church: If the scriptures were not up for interpretation; if they were written in a singular, linear, unyielding, unchanging, indisputable, unmistakably plain fashion, then why so many denominations of Christianity? Why the Grand Canyonesque disparity between Christians and Jews over *one book?* Why are there eleventy hundred versions and translations? Can both Christians and Jews go to heaven? How about Mormons and Catholics and Seventh Day Adventists? Why do some folks profess to adhere to the “letter of the law” in select areas of the Bible, but not in all? The questions go ever, ever on, and the cherry-picking never stops.


Hateful, hateful speech out there right now, fiends. Honestly, I’ve never heard or seen anything like it. And of course, the hotbox topics are politics and religion, which, for some people, are tightly bound together. I used to think it was solely the anonymity of the commenting process that facilitated such verbal cruelty, but I don’t think that’s the whole package anymore. Indeed, Facebook — where everyone’s identity is revealed — is one of the most offensive dens of meanydom. The tantrums about seemingly (to me, anyway) the most trivial issues in the bigger scheme of life are so intense and out of control, no toddler ever in the history of toddlerhood could out-toddler them.

So, what to do about it after all this rambling? Truthfully, there is nothing I can do, except resolve to not be a part of the meanyhead’s world, as I can think of few other names I could be called that would cut as deep. I’d rather be viewed as a caring and kind heathen than an arrogant, self-righteous, mean-spirited tool.

Too much, maybe?

So I lost my mind a bit. OK, a lot. All right…completely.

J’ever experience something that just keeps eroding your sanity ever so slowly, like the effect of water against rock over a million-year time span? Eventually, all that’s left is bare naked nerve endings, and you break like a ginger snap. That kind of happened to me.

Maybe it’s the ongoing deranged senselessness of CCSS and HST in my life and in the lives of my students and colleagues that pushed me over the edge of the Cliff of Insanity; maybe it’s Dinner Theatre madness. Maybe it’s my ridiculous schedule which keeps me away from my grandchildren. I don’t know what happened, but a bell rang and school was out and teacher lost her poop. What was the trigger? you ask. What horrible tragedy befell you? Oh, this:

Every day, I get an email from Groupon, with fantastic deals. 1,000s of deals. It’s always bothered me, that mistake. For a long time, I did my best to just ignore it. After all, it’s an email, people. Seriously. Worry about important stuff. But remember the water-against-rock thing? Seems the moon went into the seventh house, and Jupiter aligned with Mars, and then big bang. I went to Groupon’s customer feedback page and wrote thusly:


Please, please, PLEASE fix the gargantuan grammar mistake in ALL of your emails! It makes you look like idiots!

It is NOT: “We’ve got 1,000s of deals every day.”

You either have “1,000 deals” or you have “THOUSANDS of deals.” You NEVER have “one thousands of deals,” which is what your current graphic says, and which, as you most certainly can see, makes no sense whatsoever.

Please fix this glaring error for those of your customers who value proper professional business copy.

L. Jackson


Now I ask you: Why the need for so many CAPITAL LETTERS? I actually HATE IT when people overuse that device, and I used it FIVE TIMES in one message. What’s wrong with me? I’m not a meanyhead, and I try to never make folks feel bad. Am I cracking up? And to make matters worse, I received this kind reply:


Hi Linda,

Thanks for sharing your feedback with us. I’ll be sure to pass your suggestion on to the right people.


Satheesh T
Groupon Customer Support


Oy. Rant like a loon, then read a courteous response. Way to crush an ant with a Panzer. Boot to the head.

On a brighter note: I have a wind chill day off school, so at least I can tackle the carload of work I brought home. Maybe I’ll see if I can escape for a bit to go out and visit the Js, too, and perhaps stop by and see Mavis, if she’s up to looking at my face.

OK, off to work. No more insanity from me today, I promise.

Qu’est-ce que c’est?

(For those who care nothing about silly French, it’s pronounced kest kuh-SAY)

Mood: perturbed. I need some inner peace today.

WHAT IS IT? What IS it with people? Not that I’m 100% organic all the time, mind. Wagons are rickety and the ride is bumpy for a reason. Sometimes, folks fall off. I get that. But over the past two days, all of these things have happened:

  1. I’ve been cut off twice by drivers who neither look nor care to look anywhere except where they want to go.
  2. I’ve been spoken to like I’m nine.
  3. I’ve felt insulted by the behavior of a few of my students.
  4. I discovered that my school district paid $4,000 for a battery of standardized tests that indicate nothing, solve nothing and mean nothing.
  5. Despite the fact that the Cleveland Browns are showing some offense and competitiveness for the first time since 1999, “fans,” hiding behind the guarantee of anonymity, continue to dream up and write the most vile, mean-spirited and cruel comments on the web, wherever possible.
  6. I’ve been lied to, and I knew it, but the liar didn’t.

Now that’s a couple-a days, lemmetellya. Where can a rat get some tranquility around here? Still, as is my M.O., I will provide you with two wonderful things:

  1. I had a great rehearsal last night.
  2. It’s JAKE’S BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!! (ya think I have enough !!!!s?) :-D Big boy is 7 today. Grammie loves him.

So I guess it’s not all bad, ja? Have a good whatever-it-is, fiends. Thanks for the listening eyes.