At times I can have a pretty foul mouth, but nothing is as offensive as…


There are times when I have the vocabulary of a proverbial sailor or trucker. I don’t talk like this all the time.  I try to use “colorful” language for emphasis.  I understand that there is a time & a place for such things.

Sometimes it comes out more when on stage with the band, due to the nature of our music & lyrics.  I generally don’t write offensive words here in my blog or on social media like Facebook & Twitter.  Being involved in Church & camp, there are words I don’t use that could be considered offensive to religion.  I usually don’t swear in front of my mother or ever in front of my grandmother.  Sometimes I use words that are incredibly foul in one long string just because some single words aren’t foul enough to express my frustration, and I even try to make up new ones.  (This is usually behind the wheel of  car,  just ask my wife.)

We all probably have our own rules about what others might consider foul language.  I can turn it “off” without a problem according to the company I’m with.

My point?

It’s easy to turn it off.

Most swear words refer to a bodily function or body part that we somehow collectively decided to find offensive.  I say that when you need to express anger or want to make people giggle, use those words until your heart’s content.  Everyone understands what you mean when you use those words.

On the other hand, there are some words that we should try to never say, like “the N-word” and any other racial slurs (except “cracker” — that will always be funny), like words that are offensive to homosexuals (the other “F-word” & calling things “gay” in a derogatory way), and the focus of this blog:  “The R-Word

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not perfect.  I have used all of these words offensively… but I have cleaned up my language as far as those last few go.  I’m not someone who tries to be politically correct or anything, I just know what I feel is right or wrong.  It’s definitely wrong to use the word “retarded” to describe something, or to call someone a “retard”.  It’s killing me just to type those words.

For the last several years at our summer camp, I have been working with Jr./Sr. high age kids, and my wife and mother have been working with special needs adults.  We’ve all become directors of our respective camps that happen at the same time at the same facility.  The camps get together for several activities like crafts, skits, or singing at meal times & around the campfire.

We have met so many wonderful people that might get ignored or avoided by society because people are scared of what they don’t understand or scared of someone that’s so different.  Some people are just scared that they might react in a bad way.

Living Waters - Jr./Sr. High Camp & Recreation Camp - July 2010

These are some of my friends. (Living Waters - Jr./Sr. High Camp & Recreation Camp - July 2010)

It has brought me to tears to see the joy that all of our campers have when the groups are interacting.  I don’t tear up easily, but seeing those kids spark when they help or learn from the special needs campers… or seeing the special needs campers’ joy in the simple fact that a group of kids wants so spend time with & sing with them… it makes a guy that tries to be a hard-ass punk rocker into a big blubbering mess.

My friend Tom has Down Syndrome.  Tom taught me sign language for “chicken” when he was calling me one at a wave pool on a field trip.  He knew I didn’t know sign language.  He knew his fellow camper friends did.  After I told him that the water was too cold, he started making the sign at me and laughing.  Some more of his friends did too.  Finally I got someone to confess the meaning and I of course had to go into the cold water streaming down from one of those goofy mushrooms.  We all laughed, and Tom patted my back to let me know that he was just joking around.  Tom is not stupid.  People like Tom aren’t stupid.  Don’t use the R-word when you mean stupid or dumb.

You can come at me with all 7 dirty words or any other ones you can think of and I won’t blink an eye or be offended.

When you use the R-word, it’s offensive to Tom, people like Tom, Tom’s family and friends, and me.  If I hear you say it, I might correct you or shoot you a dirty look.  This is your warning.

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Crop-dusting for disgusting cell-phone roaches.


This Facebook status seemed quite popular.  Thought I’d blog about it, and get some more input.  There are 2 points here that seem to universally annoy us…  People talking loudly (or at all) on cell phones in public places, and people that talk about disgusting things when you’re trying to eat.

So, I'm sitting at Chick-fil-A tonight, trying to enjoy some chicken nuggets and some chicken noodle soup... and some crazy Yinzer lady is about 4 booths away screaming into her cell phone, talking about infections, site-wounds, dialysis, and MRSA.  Besides it just being rude to be on your phone there in a public place...  Really? Everyone around is trying to eat. I wish I could pass gas on demand. I would have made several runs (pardon the pun) past her table.

So I'm sitting at Chick-fil-A...

The original text…

So, I’m sitting at Chick-fil-A tonight, trying to enjoy some chicken nuggets and some chicken noodle soup… and some crazy Yinzer lady is about 4 booths away screaming into her cell phone, talking about infections, site-wounds, dialysis, and MRSA.

Besides it just being rude to be on your phone there in a public place

Really? Everyone around is trying to eat. I wish I could pass gas on demand. I would have made several runs (pardon the pun) past her table.

Pus oozing from an abscess caused by bacteria—...

Image via Wikipedia

Click the pic above to magnify the first wave of comments, and if you want check out this old post for reference: Excuse me, I’m eating.

So, what’s your take on disgusting topics during meals, public cell phone users, and the unholy intersection of the two?

Chick Fil A 8pc Nuggets

Image by j.reed via Flickr

People with allergies are freaks.


People with allergies are freaks.  We’re geeks.  We’re undesirable.  We’re the weak, and we should have been weeded out with natural selection.  The weirder the allergy, the weirder the person.

At least, that’s what I pick up from watching TV.  The nerdy kid always has glasses and/or asthma.  I guess at least I don’t wear glasses like some of you real freaks out there.

The latest support to this line of thinking that has come to my attention is this lovely commercial:

Of course, I see the humor, and I’m not so offended that it’s ruining my day.  It’s just that the general perception of people with allergies kind of sucks.

If the guy had rolled through the door in a wheelchair, or walked in with crutches, missing a limb, blind, deaf,  or anything similar causing the date to be undesirable, it wouldn’t be acceptable at all.  You could even throw in other stereotypes like a different race or religion.  Both would be unacceptable.  I bet even if they threw in a guy that was 500 lbs. and turned it into a fat joke it would be considered tasteless… but making fun of a shellfish allergy is apparently acceptable.

They could have done this same joke and just had the guy dressed ridiculously or something… something that’s a choice, not an affliction.

If you’d like to pull apart the commercial for other reasons, check out this blog:  Who Are The Ad Wizards Who Came Up With THAT One? Zoosk alors.

There’s a radio commercial I’ve heard recently too, maybe for a phone or something… the line is “Bob is still allergic to shellfish.”  I wish I could remember what it’s for.  At any rate, it’s not offensive… it just puts the thought out there.

At least the peanut-allergic and gluten-free people have been getting a lot of good press lately.  How about passing it along to the rest of us?

All of this happens on the heels of articles popping up about kids with food allergies being bullied at school.  I wonder why?

I’m hoping that my #FoodAllergy Tweeps will hop all over this and help me let Zoosk know en masse that this isn’t cool.  Maybe they need to read this & watch this.

As always, your comments are not only welcome, but encouraged.

Score! Free movie passes…


If you read my recent rant about going to the movies, and then read my email to & the response from the theater, they you knew this was coming.  But, it’s cool that they’re actually here.  After the last response, I did reply via email to Mr. Wilson:

From: Eric Carroll <me@my.email.address>
To: Shawn Wilson <swilson@cinemark.com>
Sent: Thu, August 12, 2010
Subject: Re: Contact Us: Quality of service at a theatre

Hello Shawn,

Thank you for the reply.  I understand that you must also be frustrated with the behavior of your patrons.  My wife & I would very much appreciate two movie passes, thank you for the offer!  My mailing address is…

Eric Carroll
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Pittsburgh, PA  XXXXX

You do have a great new beautiful theater… hopefully over time, you’ll be able to have the staff available to spot & weed-out the troublemakers.  Ha… too bad that texting is one of the bans… I’d certainly have no trouble texting the theater to point out moviegoers causing a distraction for others!

Have a good day,
-Eric
.seitilibasid gninrael fo nuf ekam ot ynnuf ton yllaer s’tI

And, then today, this was in my mailbox when I got home:

Cinemark Letter & Rain Check Passes

Cinemark Letter & Rain Check Passes

It’s cool that it can be used for any movie any time.  I had wondered if there would be any odd restrictions. I am serious abut the texting to report troublemakers though.  If there was a “text complaints to this # to alert managers of a disturbance/error during the film” kind of thing… it would work out pretty well… except that texting during to movie is one of those things that’s already frowned upon.  They need those buttons like they have at the bowling alley… ha ha.

At any rate, we’ll have to get back out there soon to catch a free show!

We can’t change the way people act.


So, did you read the one about our last trip to the movies?  I know it garnered more comments than most of my posts.  Comments are always appreciated!  At any rate, we have somewhat of a conclusion.  I let the theater know about our evening via webform:

From: me@my.email.address [mailto:me@my.email.address]
Sent: Monday, August 09, 2010 10:08 PM
To: SiteTheatre
Subject: Contact Us: Quality of service at a theatre

Hello,

I my wife & I recently went to the new Cinemark in Robinson on a whim, and we had an “interesting” evening.  I posted a review of the night online, and it was brought to my attention that I ought to tell you guys about the problem directly.

More and more, a night at the movies plays out like this:  https://aixelsyd13.wordpress.com/2010/08/07/movie-night-for-schmucks/

It’s a shame to have a new beautiful theater with helpful friendly employees go downhill so fast thanks to the rudeness of the patrons, and refusal of management to enforce the theater’s policies.

Should I have gone to management right away?  I would have most certainly missed the beginning of the film.

Would the other patrons have been removed form the theater?  I’m guessing no as they were also paying customers… albeit incredibly rude paying customers.

I hope that you are able to read about my experience and share your thoughts on how I should have conducted myself in that situation.

Thank you for your time, I really look forward to hearing from you!

And, I eventually got a reply:

From: Shawn Wilson <swilson@cinemark.com>
To: me@my.email.address
Sent: Thu, August 12, 2010 1:41:14 PM
Subject: FW: Contact Us: Quality of service at a theatre

Good afternoon,

Thank you for visiting our theatre and for contacting us concerning your recent visit.  I sincerely apologize that your visit was less than enjoyable.

It is certainly our goal to provide the best overall movie-going experience.  We strive to make personal contact with each one of our guests.  It may be saying hello as our guests walk in, holding open a door, carrying concession items, or greeting guests as they exit the auditoriums.  I am extremely pleased that our staff was able to have contact with you and your wife on several occasions.

I can fully understand that the positives associated with a nice theatre and a friendly staff can soon be replaced with frustration when the movie is made less than enjoyable because of the actions of fellow guests in the auditorium.  Unfortunately, it seems now-a-days, some of the public has become very inconsiderate of others.  We can’t change the way people act, but we can have our staff continue to do regular checks of each auditorium and we will correct any problem or disturbance noticed.  I apologize that we were not able to identify and correct the disturbances that you experienced.  I will review this instance with my team.

Thank you, again, for contacting us.  I am disappointed that your visit to our theatre was not perfect.  It would be my pleasure to invite you and your wife back, as our guest, for a much better experience.  If you would be so kind as to provide me with your mailing address, I will place two passes in the mail.

If I can be of any additional assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Best regards,

Shawn Wilson
General Manager
Cinemark Robinson Twp.  #1034
2100 Settlers Ridge Center Dr.
Pittsburgh, PA  15205
Phone: 412-787-1368  Fax: 412-787-1948

Well, at least I got some free movie passes!  It’ll be interesting to see if there are any restrictions on them as far as times or anything.  But hey… a free movie isn’t a bad deal.  Maybe I’ll avoid a weekend night so we don’t get a repeat of being surrounded by idiots.

It is cool that he acknowledged the problem and apologized for the situation, even if he had to concede that there’s really nothing that he can do about it.  Hopefully the staff for that evening gets commended for being personable.

Movie Night for Schmucks


So My wife & I saw Dinner for Schmucks last night.  Great movie, had some really funny parts.  This blog really isn’t about the movie though… more the experience.

I hate going to the theater more & more.  We were out & about in Robinson & decided to hit up the new Cinemark theater.

I always get there early, and get a good seat… almost to the point of ridiculousness.  OK, it is the point of ridiculousness.  I like to get there as soon as it’s seating, so I can get my seat near the back, in the middle.  I realize that it’s not exactly normal.

On the other end… people were filing in up until the very second it started, acting appalled that some people had arrived on time & they couldn’t find the seat they wanted.  All of the “good” spots had been taken by then… of course the front few rows (as always) were empty, but no one wanted to sit there.  We had to suffer a host of  “excuse me”, “sorry”, and “can I get through?” during the pre-movie commercials and previews.  If I owned a theater –  once the previews started, there would be no entry.  You should have gotten there on time, and taken into consideration time to get food or pee or whatever else you need to do before going in to see a movie.

Of course, seconds before the movie began… Immediately to my right, sat an older woman who smelled like she had just sampled every perfume in the mall.  She kept putting her arm on top of mine on the arm rest, and making an audible “uh” of disgust when I didn’t relinquish my claim.  As I stated before, I got there (admittedly) insanely early to lay my claim to my seat… including the arm rest that I paid $9 for, that’s also holding my overpriced half Coke/half blue-whatever-it-was ICEE in the cup holder.

The woman who’s mouth was as loud as her stench opened & munched quite audibly on a smuggled can of Pringles.  I don’t mean the little cans that you can buy at Sheetz.  This was a giant full-sized can of Pringles.  I don’t want to know where she was hiding it.Then came the 20 oz. bottle of Diet Coke, opened with a deafening fizz, and guzzled like she hadn’t drank anything for days.  Her daughter/friend/whatever had a crinkling bag of freaking chips.

When I put my hand in the air with a “WTF?” look on my face and simply said “Really?” to Bethany, she just laughed and shook her head in amazement.  The previously loud olfactory-challenged woman attempted to mutter a “get over it” and went on munching and gulping away like she was a pig at her trough.

I get that the theater food is way-overpriced, and it’s joked about to a cliché level any time the subject is brought up.  But here’s the thing… it’s part of the overall experience.  Either suck it up & get it, or just pass.  Do you really need to munch on Pringles during the movie?

To Bethany’s left we had two guys in their late-teens or early 20’s who were the texting-during-the-movie dunderheads.  They repeated unfunny lines as if they were funny & laughed and kept asking each other what they missed because they were texting.  I wonder how someone makes it through life when they’re at this level of intelligence.

At the beginning of the movie, there was the Sprint commercial that reminded you that movies don’t interrupt your phone calls, so you shouldn’t interrupt the movie.  There were also at least two other theater-generated messages that ask you not to talk, answer your phone, or text during the movie… and even asking you to tun the phone off, or at least silence it.

I had even remarked before the film how it’s sad that Cinemark feels the need to do that.  The only problem is that it doesn’t work on the people for whom it’s intended.  They don’t care anyway.  Apparently, rules don’t apply to them. These are the same people who park in handicapped spots or over yellow cross-hatch lines.  They’re the same people who throw non-recyclables in to the recycling bin (I have an issue with recycling and it’s overall energy waste/consumption in general, but I’m not an ass).  These are the people that don’t return the carts.  They talk on their phones holding up the line at Quiznos.  They don’t double-flush the public toilet after taking a disastrous dump.

I could have gone to theater management and complained… but another remarkable thing about the theater was that we passed two guys in suits & managerial name tags while getting into the concession line, neither of them once looked in our direction or welcomed us into the theater.  Everyone else was quite friendly.  The girl who rang us up at the concession stand remarked about my amusing Dead from Lobster T-shirt.  The one kid who was sweeping up the hallway even opened to door for Bethany as she went to the restroom.  I think the same kid told us to have a good night as we exited the auditorium.

What would management have done in this case?  Would they have thrown out the people on either side of us?  I doubt it.  They were all also paying customers.  Would I have missed the beginning of the movie that I just paid to see?  Undoubtedly.

What would the solution have been here?  Perhaps they need to better police for outside snacks and glaring cell-phone screens.  Maybe you need searched before entry like a ball-park, or like an old saloon where you check weapons at the door… so must cell-phones be relinquished.  In the case of the woman beside me, they’d need her to also pass a test from that smell-detector machine I saw on CSI once.

I think I’d even pay more of my hard-earned money to go to a theater where they would weed out the schmucks.

Learn some manners, Pittsburgh!