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It has been a while since I posted a decent rant—not that things haven’t entered my purview that didn’t deserve one, but I’m trying to mellow a bit in my autumn years. But today I couldn’t resist when I read the news item about Cathy Cruz Marrero. You may not be completely familiar with her name but I’d bet you have seen her spill.

She’s the texting-woman-falls-in-fountain lady.

Haven’t see it? The funniest part is the people laughing that caught it on their phone.

First, let’s call this for what it is/was: an accident. Was it stupid? Oh yeah. Did anybody make her look stupid? Not at all. She didn’t give anyone time to. She did what most of us would have done and climbed out immediately then hustled away, embarrased beyond words.

I put it to you—how many of us have laughed when people slip on ice and fall on their ass? I sure do! Why? Because it’s friggin’ hilarious! So do most people. I understand when a fall like that occurs that harm could be done, but it’s an accident. If all that gets injured is your pride then walk away feeling equally as lucky as you would stupid.

But she’s not satisfied with that. She’s considering suing the mall.

Ms. Marrero is upset because the video was posted on YouTube and went viral faster than a whore near the front lines. She’s upset because it made her look foolish.

Wrong. She made herself look foolish.

Don’t expect everyone to pick up the tab and compensate you for your stupidity. You didn’t watch where you were going; we’ve all done it. Anyone walking has done that. Most of us were lucky enough not to get caught.

Here’s another example: most of America has, at some point or other, watched America’s Funniest Home Videos. It’s funny as hell when someone jumps out and scares about eight years off someone’s life, funnier still if it’s a guy who screams like a little girl when it happens. Did any of them sue because they were made to look stupid? I’m sure they signed waivers to prevent it, but I’d also bet it caused some heavy friction between friends and such.

Remember the lady who sued McDonalds because she spilled piping hot coffee in her lap? What a moron. Sure, now she’s a well off moron, but I’d gladly call her a moron to her face if I saw her. That’s just idiotic, and hideously opportunistic. So is Ms. Marrero.

Here’s a bit of the story from Fox’s website:

“She acknowledges the video is funny, but says the security personnel heard laughing on the recording should have been more concerned about her well-being.”

“Because there was no railing to protect someone from falling into the fountain her lawsuit may have some merit, lawyers say. The mall could also be in hot water over the security personnel who laughed at her rather than checking if she was ok.”

*COUGH!* No railing? Seriously? No railing to prevent someone from falling in? Doesn’t that detract from the whole point of putting a nice looking fountain somewhere? Forget about any sort of self-accountability. Let’s blame our idiocy on someone else’s lack of foresight because they couldn’t foresee some knucklehead tripping over the side.

I will give her that much. Nobody ran out to simply ask if she was okay. If it was me, I still probably would have laughed and told her it was classic.

It incenses me that we are so litigious as to sue somebody else for something entirely of our own doing. At what point do we take accountability and say “My bad!” But to sue because she was laughed at?

And here’s another point I’m sure some a**hole will attempt to bring up—privacy. Anyone who tries to ring that bell is far more stupid than someone who does a face plant in a fountain.

In 1967, the Supreme Court ruled that “the Fourth Amendment protects people, not places,” thus holding the amendment applies not just in homes, but wherever a person has “a reasonable expectation of privacy.” That’s key. For instance, courts have ruled there is a decreased expectation of privacy in vehicles, or in the garbage bags placed upon the curb for sanitation pickup. Walking in an open mall certainly fails the test of “reasonable expectation of privacy,” don’t ya think?

Here’s something else a defense attorney might consider if she pursues a lawsuit—he may reequest discovery on the text messages, for that matter all communication on her phone from a few minutes before to perhaps hours afterward. Does she really want to be put under that microscope?

If suing on the grounds of stupidity is where we’re at, then I’m going all in, and I’m starting with two groups of idiots: those who text while driving (plenty of game there), and people who freaking rubberneck to look at something at the side of the road.

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Those everyday annoyances and head scratchers: bounced check fees, stupid drivers, escalating gas prices—or perhaps something not as common but equally as maddening, like mailing packages during the holidays.

Blogging offers us an outlet, a vehicle for getting those things off our chest which most likely afflict the rest of the blogging community. We comment on them, and in a sort of virtual ripple effect manage to impart at least the mere vestige of a catharsis upon lots of anonymous readers. However, some of us can’t help but let slip a written tirade once in a while—or most every day in Jim Rising’s case.

Mr. Rising has bundled his own take on the stalwart rant into a book entitled But Then Again I Could Be Wrong – The Book Of Rants. I saw “Rant” in the title and immediately knew I had to see what was up.

Rising’s rants aren’t nearly as acerbic or embittered as my blatherings. They approach the rant from a more entertaining perspective, sprinkled with humor and humanity. I was fortunate enough to have his publisher send me a copy of the book and to have Mr. Rising available for an interview as well.

I hope you’ll take a few moments to enjoy my interview with Jim Rising, and perhaps even leave a comment for him as well!


Jim Rising-Book of Rants coverJWN: I’d like you to go waaaaay back, and recall your first rant. What was it about?

JR: In my senior year in high school we moved from Burlington, VY, which was flowers and beads and hippies in the trees to Barre, VT, which was (to my mind) hard scrabble, carhart wearing, tobacco chewing nowheresville. The first day we had an anti-drug assembly and I wrote 1,000 words on it about how much I thought the Principal looked like an EVIL Telly Savalas. To my utter amazement they printed it in the school newspaper. Mostly because I think the editor had a crush on me.

JWN: Was this crush to be the now regionally famous “long suffering wife”?

JR: Nope. To be honest I’m not sure what her name was…LSW is my second wife. Met her after 11 years of marriage # 1 and have been with her now for 25 years!

JWN: WOW! That’s highly commendable, respectable, and a slew of other “ables” I’m sure. That is, as you are keenly aware, no small feat. My genuine congratulations to you and the LSW for your marital longevity!

JWN: Have you always had a hunch that you were the ‘soapbox’ type? When did you first have an inkling you were prone to fits of written or verbal browbeating?

JR: I chose a career in radio where you could make fun of people with very little fear of reprisal. Being an avowed pacifist (read: Coward) this worked well for me.

JWN: I’m a big fan of the rant because I believe it showcases us wrapped in our passions about whatever the subject matter. Some don’t care for it, prefering the staid, logical approach to argument. While that may be the more academic and/or learned approach, I think it fails to completely bring across the raw power of a solid rant. Using empirical datum as a carrier to make your argument is respectable, yes, but let those same thoughts piggyback upon a wave of emotion and I think it more solidly connects with more people. You can always (and should always) question facts, but being passionate is something most folks can really dig their teeth into.
Having said all that, how deep and varied are the colors you use upon your rant canvas?

JR: I like to think that I use very dispersant styles according to subject material. It always goes back to my radio days—that is, when I write I have clearly in mind what the voice will sound like when it’s read out loud.

JWN: Do you write (or rant) every day, or just when Catharsis taps you upon the shoulder? Do you have a routine you stick to?

JR: When I did a daily radio show I wrote a rant a day for that and one extra for my newspaper deal. Now I only write weekly (Weakly?) for the newspaper. It doesn’t much matter where or when. I have written some pretty good ones IMHO with my thumbs, on my handheld, on a plane.

JWN: I suppose the larger question there is: Would you, could you, write it in a box? Would you, could you, with a fox?

JR: Yes.

JWN: Is this your first book? If so, have you any plans for future tomes?

JR: Yup-first and only one that will get published probably, although I am writing romance novels under a pen name. The problem is they all end Stephen King like with the hero and heroine being killed in a blood bath. Lots of rejection slips there. I wonder why?

JWN: I’ve heard it said that romance is overrated. You’re just putting a little more intrigue into it; I see nothing wrong with that!

JWN: Ever considered a full-length novel, perhaps ‘inspired’ by your fist-in-the-air ramblings?

JR: See above. There is a novel in everybody. Most people should keep it there.

JWN: Rough guess: How many times have you been wrong?

JR: I wrote once about the Silly String company not helping out the troops in Iraq. I got a note from the President of Silly String who told me how wrong I was. I wrote a retraction.

I also wrote about Budweiser taking over Rolling Rock and got an email from a local Bud rep telling me how I knew nothing about beer. I suggested a tour of the brewery so he could teach me (Free beer!) but he never responded. To my knowledge those are the only times I have been wrong…but then again I could be…well you know.

JWN: Out here, at our County and State Fairs, a huge must-have when you go is the Indian Fry Bread; awesome with honey on it! I don’t believe I’ve ever seen funnel cakes out here; are those high on your list when you are carb-loading?

JR: OMG—as the kids text—YES! At the Bloomsburg Fair here they fry anything that will stand still long enough to dip into the oil. You have not lived until you have had a deep fried Oreo. Each serving comes with a free Heart Attack.

JWN: My brother (who lives in Arlington, TX), wrote to inform me that the big culinary thing this year at the Texas state fair is—and I swear I’m not making this up—deep fried butter. Would you consider trying such a delightful morsel?

JR: How do they deep fry butter? Freeze it first? I think I would have to try it just to say I did.

JWN: Admittedly, I am new to you and your rants. I know you’ve been involved in radio for quite some time, and still do a stint on 102 FM – The Mountain. I’m curious as to how your rants are received by your listeners.

JR: I actually have been off the air for about two years. I got a lot of positive feedback from what I did, more so in person when people recognized from my voice. “Oh you were the guy who got his lawnmower stuck all those times, right?”

JWN: A lot of people probably have no idea that you collect transistor radios, on the cheap if possible. Tell me the story behind the coolest, cheapest one you have!

Jim_Risings_sony6F-21W-1

JR: It wasn’t cheap (at the time it was probably $50, and this was in 1969) but it was a Sony 6F-21W, I was 15-years-old and it was the radio I first heard “Progressive radio” on—WBCN in Boston. It put the hook in me deep and I dreamed about being able to work at that station. My last job in radio—The Mountain—was my homage to that format.

JWN: I’d bet you get this question all the time since the book came out: Is that your silhouette on the cover?

JR: Nah-I’m the old fart on the back. If you look close at the back cover photo you will see the wine bottles are labeled “Ye olde paint thinner” in honor of my taste for cheap wine. Also the page in the typewriter reads “All work and no play makes Jim a dull boy” over and over again. A nod to Stephen King and “The Shining.”

JWN: In your book you tell a story about two disparate yet indirectly related obituaries. I won’t ruin it for those who might read it, but amidst all the daily junk life hands us (which you call to question) you find the smallest wrinkle upon the larger canvas, and yet that wrinkle gives the entire painting a more profound life. So the question is odd, yet I’m truly curious: Which do you find more personally gratifying, the cathartic rant or the poignant?

JR: I like it when I can do both. I was a big fan of O’Henry in my youth. I love to turn it around at the end. I like to think that, at my best, I can make someone think. But you have to do it in a manner that doesn’t cram it down the throat.

JWN: What is your favorite food/drink item to have at your side as you write?

JR: H2O by the gallon. Tea. I don’t drink alcohol when I write. I also don’t really eat. I am very messy and it gets the keyboard all sticky.

JWN: In your book you state all the proceeds from sales will go to the Hoyt Library in Kingston. The majority of folks who read this blog aren’t from that area, so could you explain what happened.

JR: We had a big snowstorm and it collapsed the roof, pretty well destroying almost all the library and ruining most of the books.

JWN: That’s gotta be a whole lotta snow. For those of us who like the golly-gee-whiz kind of figures, do you recall how much snow was on the roof, preferably weight-wise?

JR: Dunno…It was probably a few feet but I think it was very heavy wet stuff and then froze.

JWN: Finally, what sage words of advice would you pass along to any aspiring writer (or rant progeny)?

JR: Nothing succeeds like excess. I write less than I should but the more I do the more I remember how much I enjoy it. For me it’s like breathing; I gotta get this stuff down. Like the flea market conversation I overheard yesterday: He says “It’s original!” She says “Original what?”

Priceless.

JWN:And for those readers who like a good rant every now and again, where can they pick up a copy of your book?

JR:Amazon still has it here , and you can learn more about it from my publisher, Tribute Books.

I would certainly like to thank Mr. Rising for taking time out of his schedule to do this interview with me, and to Nicole Langan and Tribute Books, who provided me with a copy of Jim’s book, But Then Again I Could Be Wrong – The Book Of Rants. If you’re looking for an entertaining read about the everyday things that drive us all nuts, then give Jim’s book a read. As added incentive, all the proceeds go to the Hoyt Library–and we sure could use more of those!

You can also visit Jim’s blog for more of his musings/ranting!

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