That is the question. Or is it?
Notice the split infinitive in my headline? The quote from William Shakespeare is "To be or not to be."
Again, all ye Straka haters, is it so difficult to check your grammar, spelling and punctuation before sending me hate mail? I mean, come on people! "To not" is a split infinitive. (search) So when you promise "to not read my column anymore," I really don't know what you're talking about.
TV Worship ... Grrr!
"I want my MTV." OK, so go home and watch it. But for crying out loud, don't block the sidewalk on Broadway during TRL, screaming and waving whenever the camera happens to swing in your direction. Every day I see kids looking up at the MTV studio as if it were heaven, just waiting for their 15 milliseconds of fame. Was the trip to New York City really worth it?
But it's not only MTV kids who worship the tube ...
When I'm on assignment reporting for the television show "FOX Magazine" (Sundays, FNC, 11 p.m. EST), I often have the opportunity to interview people out on the street or at events (in the TV business we call it M-O-S ... Man-On-Street).
I can't tell you how many people rush up to our camera just to talk — about anything. I could be reporting about any subject or any person and people will come up and have an opinion, even if they've never heard of said person or place — just to be on television. But here's the real kicker ... a lot of these people don't even ask when the piece will air. So they run up, get their face-time in, but don't even know where or when to watch for themselves. So what's the big deal in the first place?
Once I was out on the beach in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., doing a spring break feature. A woman walks up to me and throws her two young daughters in front of our camera. "Can my daughters be on TV?" she asks. I say fine and ask a few benign questions and then the mother says, "Where is this going to be?" So I say, "Girls Gone Wild." Now the mom is freaking out. "Oh no, please don't use my daughters." I eventually told her I was only kidding, but the point is, don't just throw yourselves in front of any camera without knowing what's going on. Grrr!
And Speaking of Benign Questions ... Grrr!
Dear Mrs. Straka (and all the other wives, girlfriends, husbands and boyfriends out there who like to ask benign questions of their significant others ... all the time):
I don't know what the guy in front of us thinks he's doing when he suddenly cuts over to the left lane without signaling. I really don't know what's going on over there where two police officers have that car pulled over, and I don't know why the kid in the little Honda Civic has a huge spoiler on the back, other than he's an idiot. I don't know when the city is going to fix that pothole or when the empty lot on the corner will have its lawn mowed.
When I get up from my chair in the living room, I'm probably either going to the bathroom, getting a beer or just stretching. I live here. Do I have to answer to "where are you going" every time I move? And I didn't make up the rules of society. When I go to work, saying, "OK, BYE," like I'm leaving you to go to some party is not a good way for me to start my day. Ahh, now that I got that off my chest, I love you honey! Grrr!
Motorcycles ... Grrr!
OK. I apologize to all the motorcycle riders for lumping you in with Mini Cooper owners who wave at each other in my last column. And for all of you who e-mailed me about sending the Hell's Angels to come and get me, that's not why I'm apologizing.
I understand that riding a motorcycle is dangerous and by waving to one another you're acknowledging that risk. But ... why so loud? I mean, I know why the pipes are so loud (so "cagers" can hear you), but when you come home late at night — so can your neighbors.
I owned two quiet bikes and never had a problem with traffic knowing I was there, so just admit that it's got a little more to do with vanity than safety — you just think it's cool.
The Digital Age
I've completed my transition to the digital age, and so far, I'm very happy. Last week we switched our home telephone service to Optimum Voice — there are other companies out there as well, like Vonage (search) and Packet8 (search), that offer communication alternatives to the standard telephone companies.
So far, the service works very well. The transmission is clear, and the best part is that it comes with all the features one would want for their phone (call waiting, forwarding, three-way), plus domestic long distance for one lower monthly fee (mainly because it's unregulated. No FCC charge, 911 fees, etc.)!
We'll be saving more than $40 per month with this service. If I were a traditional phone company, I'd be worried. The only downside to the VOIP (voice-over Internet protocol) service is that if the power goes out, you're S-O-L as far as the phone is concerned ... but these days, who doesn't have a cell phone?
Now for your Grrrs:
Michael Blackwell of Lafayette, La., Grrrs!: I thought of you this weekend while I was at a local grocery store. One of those things that makes me go Grrr! happened. It's those who believe they are more privileged, those who believe they don't have to park in a parking space, those who just pull up to the front door to "Just run in for a sec." Grrr!
Bob Perrine in Bakersfield, Calif., Grrrs! at me (split infinitive and all): Okay... Maybe I can see some of your so called "grrs" but this is taking it a bit too far Mr. Straka. People with common interests who wave at each other make you angry? Are these people running you, or others off the road as they smile and wave? Perhaps we shouldn't intermingle at all in order to not offend you. I own neither a Mini Cooper nor a motorcycle, but I certainly do not become offended when I see two people wave and smile at one another.
Doug A. Grrrs!: I'm very curious about two things: am I the only person that thinks unruly, squalling children should not be inflicted upon others without their express written consent, and has anyone ever noticed that elderly people frequently do incredibly rude things to younger people simply because they know the younger person won't bust 'em in the lip? These questions, prompted by two items in your most recent column, are just the tip of my misanthropic GRRR!!! iceberg…
Joseph Astorina Grrrs! over stepped-in chewing gum: I was standing in line waiting to get my burrito for lunch when I noticed my left shoe was sticking to the floor as I shuffled along in the line. Sure enough, when I checked my shoe I realized I had stepped in somebody's recently discarded chewing gum. It's bad enough that many gum chewers insist on snapping or chomping on their gum like cows. But I just love gum chewers who are too lazy to toss their used gum in the numerous trash cans around the city, preferring to spit it out on the sidewalk for others to stomp on. Grrrrrr!
As for comparing loud gum chewing to cows, Carol Holmes Grrrs!: I happen to own cattle, and when eating grass, or hay, or chewing their cud, they aren't noisy at all. When they eat breeder's cubes, they slobber and crunch, but rarely slurp or smack. Really. I also happen to teach school, and young people are definitely noisier eaters. Please, don't disparage cows.
Desiree Zetel Grrrs! while at the drive-thru teller: My GRRRR! involves what I call "Bank Oblivions" — those members of society who pull up to the ATM at the bank drive through, get their cash, and then proceed to sit next to the ATM machine until they put their cash in their wallet or purse, check their receipt, and put their seatbelt back on, and all the while, they keep looking in their rearview mirror at the line of cars waiting behind them to use the ATM!! Here's a hint: get your cash, pull up into the space in front of the ATM, put your cash in your wallet or purse there, and then drive off!
James in the Midwest Grrrs: A big GRRR to guys that are compulsively calling their wives/girlfriends on the cell phone ALL THE TIME, for NO REASON AT ALL! Right before they leave work each day, they have to let them know that they are leaving work! Why? In case they have an aneurysm while driving home and their car veers off into a river? At least they'll know what time they left!? Is that it!? Then if he should be home in 20 minutes but it's been 30 minutes, she can call 911? Or as soon as they get to work they call the wife. They just saw them 20 minutes ago! Is it to let them know they made it to work OK? What? I don't get it! Grrr!!! Is this some requirement? That they check in via cell phone two-three times an hour? What is it - separation anxiety? Spousal paranoia (their cheating on me!)? Or how about, "Oh I just called to see what you were doing. Ok..... I love you too...bye."
It's true, a guy I work with does this several times a day. To top it all off, this guy is about 6'4 and 240. But let him get on the phone with his wife and he sounds like Baby Huey! (I'm retching as I type this...) I think mommy cut the umbilical a bit too early! Maybe they should each get one of those GPS watches so they can track each other all the time. GrrrrooowwwUp!
Donald R. Pelton writes: I must say that your column is my favorite column, bar none. I work as a Criminal Investigator in the U.S. Army, and find myself in a GRRR!! situation daily - without fail. However, being the responsible adult that I am, I attempt to find the humor in the situation, or the person, and continue on with my life. It is refreshing to see that there are other responsible adults on this planet, and in your case, somebody gave you a voice. You are truly a beacon of sanity in this screwed up world. When I read your column, I can always feel the stress fading away as I chuckle at all the other idiots currently living on this planet who go through life as "Oblivions" (LOVE the term!!). I just want to say thank you for helping to keep me sane!"
— You're welcome, Donald. Happy to oblige.
Until next week, Grrrrrrrrrr!
Mike Straka is the Director of Operations and Special Projects for FOXNews.com, and contributes as a features reporter and producer on "FOX Magazine" (Sundays 11 p.m. on FNC) — a producer on "Sunday Best" (Sundays 9 p.m. on FNC) — and a columnist on Foxnews.com. As an actor, Straka appeared in the film "Analyze This," co-starred in the Off-Broadway hit "Tony n' Tina's Wedding," and has done several television commercials, soap operas and promotions.