Chuck Norris has always been one of my heroes, so when his autobiography "Against All Odds" came out last week, I jumped at the opportunity to interview him.
Norris dedicated his book to Rachel Joy Scott (search), a beautiful young girl who was one of the victims of the April 20, 1999, Columbine school shooting in Colorado. All of the book's profits will go to KICKSTART (search), a program Norris founded with the help of former President George H.W. Bush that introduces "at risk" middle school children to the martial arts.
"I grew up in poverty, raised by Mom and Granny," Norris said. "My dad was an alcoholic and a philanderer who was very seldom in our lives. I was shy and timid and non-athletic, and martial arts really turned my life around."
"That's why I teach middle school kids (martial arts) as a tool to raise their self esteem," he said.
Norris said KICKSTART has graduated more than 30,000 students, many of whom go off to college and break the cycle of welfare their families may have been trapped in. He also believes the tragedy in Columbine could have been avoided if the young perpetrators were involved in a program that boosted their own self-images.
"They were lost souls trying to make a statement in a very destructive way. If I had them in one of my programs, I don't think that would have happened," Norris said.
Grrr! to the Grrr-ly Guys
There are many people in our country who would resist a KICKSTART program in their children's schools, for fear that teaching already-troubled kids how to fight with their bare hands and feet would only exacerbate the problem. Not so.
As a black belt myself, I have firsthand experience on the positive effects that martial arts has on one's self-esteem and self-confidence. After a certain point in training, it becomes apparent that a) Anything is possible and b) There's nothing to prove to anybody but one's self.
With that knowledge comes a maturity that carries over to home, career and personal relationships, and means the need to fight or be destructive is usually the furthest thing from one's mind (unless you're trapped on an island with a William Hung album).
Grrr! to the naysayers and Self-Righteons who always seem to know better what's good for our children — without so much as giving something a shot.
The Red Ink Fairies ... Grrr!
On that note, what the heck is with the "Red Ink Fairies" who want to trade in their red pens for purple ones when grading papers in schools? After decades of using red ink, some teachers are now saying the ink's negative connotation is too harsh on students who pour their little hearts into their studies. Yeah, right. What does that mean for the student whose A grade appears in red ink? Should that student cower in fear and never turn in an A paper again?
If you ask me, it's this type of thinking that's part of the problem. Stop coddling kids and help them take responsibility for their actions, or lack thereof. If they don't like red ink (Gasp!), they should study harder. Simple as that.
An Open Grrr! to "The Tonight Show's" Kevin Eubanks
Kevin. I love you, dog, I really do. Sometimes you come up with some great one-liners, like the other night when Jay was drowning in the monologue and you asked if he had any more George Bush video. It was good. It was funny. But — and I say this with love — Jay is the comedian.
You are the band leader.
Leave the jokes to Jay. It's getting to the point where I want the producer to take your mike away. Less is more.
The Apprentice Is Back ... Grrr!
Donald Trump in this month's Playboy on not having to pay for meals at fancy restaurants: "'Oh please, Mr. Trump. There's no charge.' — Even if I'm with 10 or 15 people. The sad part is, if I were someone who needed money I'd have to pay."
And therein lies the Grrr!
Restaurants and other like establishments are so desperate for celebrity business that the rich and famous never have to pay. It's so commonplace that even when millionaire celebs do get charged, they get offended: "Do you know who I am?"
As a matter of fact, yes we do. And that's why you'll pay. You can afford it.
As for Trump, at least he has the wherewithal to tip well when he's comped. I wish more Oblivion celebs remembered to tip their servers, including the Bush twins, who reportedly left a $48 tip on a $5000 bar tab that was comped at a nightclub when the ladies were in NYC during the RNC. And I'm a big fan of all the Bush women, from First Lady Laura and Jenna to Lauren, but Grrr! on you two for that move.
As for "The Apprentice" (search) ... one down, 17 more to go. I love this show. So much, in fact, that you can count me as one of the million or so applicants for season two (wanted to make the point that Real-ities can write their own ticket). But alas, it was not to be for your humble Grrr! guy.
That being said, show producer Mark Burnett could use some help on the production side of things. For instance, in the season premiere, the contestants spend about 10 minutes picking names for their "companies." Well, if you were paying attention to the opening credits, we already knew that "Apex" and "Mosaic" were the two names the teams chose. I guess Trump's big raise means there's no budget for continuity or script supervisors on the set.
Weed Whacking Hell Follow-Up ... Grrr!
I finally received my "As Seen on TV" Load-N-Cut Grass Gator, but when I opened the package, there was no head enclosed for me to put the blades in. I called the manufacturer who told me to call the Prime Time Solutions sales office. A kind woman there told me that the items ship separately. That was Friday. Grrr!
Meanwhile, thanks to Grrr! reader Ken Kelly, I received the Aero-Flex Trimming System, which I put to the test over the weekend.
If anyone is looking for weed-whacking Heaven, I think I found it. The Aero-Flex cut down everything in sight easily and quickly, and I'm talking about some heavy-duty weeds tangled in the chain link fence here. My John Deere was humming so nicely I thought it would take off like some Landscaping Mary Poppins — and I had so much fun doing it I had to stop myself from whacking my entire lawn. No breakage of the lines and definitely no Grrr! there.
Now For Your Grrrs
Mary Hogel in Cyber-Space: My Grrr! issue is with the many celebrities who think their fame is the perfect platform to dose out their political opinions! Sadly enough, there are many people in this country who will actually vote for a political candidate based on the current rantings of their favorite musician, actor or professional athlete.
Steve - a Celiac-Short-Italian-American - on helping others: On last week's column, I would like to let Kim Finnegan know that there are those of us that will help out and even go out of our way when we see someone in need. If I had been there, I would most certainly have helped you. So don't give up hope on all of us.
Bilge in Cyber-Space: I really enjoyed reading your Grrr! definitions, especially the WalMartians. I think these are also the same people that drive around the parking lot for 10 minutes trying to find a space that will save them 15 or 20 seconds of walking time to the front door.
Elle in Salt Lake City, Utah: This Grrr! is for the sort of men who believe it is their inherent right to ogle at women in restaurants, grocery stores, malls, while we cross the street or any time we are in public. The most disgusting feeling is walking past a group of these oglers while they stare you down in unison. After you pass them, they continue to watch your every move until you are out of their sight. I challenge every woman to stare right back at them with disgust, rather than look away in shame and embarrassment like they have a right to size you up! Thank goodness this is only a minority, as most men in America are courteous gentlemen and treat all people with respect.
Tom Eckhout in Cyber-Space: My three young children (8, 5, 3) and I were walking across a parking lot to get to our favorite Mexican restaurant. While holding hands with all three, we were almost run down by a car driven and occupied by female Obliviots desperate to get front-row parking. A pickup behind her (driven by a male) stopped and let us cross without fear of death by car. Is it me, or are female Obliviots more prone to run down anything that moves in a parking lot?
Tim by way of Disney World adds to the Grrr! Lexicon: I have to share a new word for your glossary that my then 11-year-old-son invented (while on vacation at Disney World):
INCONSIDIOT — basically an Oblivion who is both inconsiderate and stupid.
—That's a really good one.
Ryan Shuck in St. Charles, Mo.: Why is it that people who are working the drive-thru windows at fast food restaurants hand me a pop that has spilled all over the side of the cup? Do they really think I want to grab a cup with sticky soda all over the side of it? Just what I want, to get my steering wheel and various other parts of my car gooey with pop residue. Wipe off the dang cup before you stick it in my window!
Anne-Marie Galfo in Cyber-Space: You mentioned the "No Parenting Zone" on the cruise you just took — and I have to say, that "zone" exists all over! I'm amazed with the amount of adults today who have the nerve to complain about their children (and how spoiled they are) — and yet they never look at themselves! The children are learning their behavior from somewhere. When we were younger, we weren't perfect angels, but we all grew up with a certain amount of manners — and if we didn't use them, we got punished. Actually, we all got smacked! But today's society frowns upon good old-fashioned spanking! It worked wonders for our generation!
Stupid Lit'l Dreamers
Now that the much hyped "Fashion Week" is over in New York City, many of the "Clackers" who were out and about — looking one another up and down with that "I can't believe she's wearing last season's dress" sneer — are once again banished back to their cubicles in their fancy high-rise buildings, consuming their Grande Low Fat Mocha Valencia lunches.
So, it is to the antithesis of big fashion that this week's SLD mention goes to the guys at surfing and skiing apparrel company Slide (Web site Slide4Life.com) — thanks to their up-and-coming public relations wiz Alicia Pantano.
These dreamers make skiing, snowboarding, surfing and inline skating apparrel that flies in the face of the posh fashionistas. That's not to say Calvin Klein or Joseph Abboud (search) aren't also Stupid Lit'l Dreamers, it's just that these guys could use a tenth of the type of support traditional fashion gets. Good luck, guys.
Until Next Week ... Grrr!
Mike Straka is the Director of Operations and Special Projects and columnist for FOXNews.com and contributes as a features reporter and producer on "FOX Magazine." He was also in the movie "Analyze This," and has appeared in various commercials, theater and TV roles.