Now for your Grrrs ...

Marty in Atlanta: I think you have to realistically look at what these punks are putting into their brains, the video games and movies that glorify violence these days are so graphic and realistic that there is a constantly escalating edge to the envelope that our society is pushing. Kids today are so desensitized to violence that the shock value of such behavior is diminished. The movies of my youth that were terrifying to me are viewed as funny now and the movies that kids are watching today are nightmarish and beyond shocking. I don't put the blame solely on these things, but kids who are on the edge or pre-disposed are pushed further by these things; almost encouraged. It's time that we as a people start taking responsibility for our actions and the actions of our kids.

Bryan Y writes: I wanted to tell you my Obliviot story, since I thought it showed that some of them do find justice. My wife, my daughter and I were traveling home last Sunday and stopped in Spartanburg, S.C., at a fast food restaurant. When we went back outside, we discovered that some Obliviot had hit my car in the parking lot, smashing the taillight and crinkling the fender above the taillight. I uttered several choice expletives, then proceeded to call my insurance company, who informed me that I would need a police report to file my claim. While waiting for the police to arrive, a gentleman came up to me and asked "Is that your blue car out there, with the broken light?"

"Yes, it is" I responded. "Well, I saw the person that hit your car and followed them to get their license plate number." And with that he handed me a napkin that had the vehicle information written on it, which I passed on to the patrolman that took the report. Later that day, the patrolman called me to let me know that they had located the vehicle and Obliviot driver, that they were actually insured, that he was charging them with leaving the scene, and that he would be sending me a copy of the report. Justice served, Obliviot!! I also want to send out a thank you to Bobby H., the gentleman that took the time to be a good Samaritan. People like him are unfortunately too rare.

John H. in Lancaster, Pa., on punks: Let's call them what they really are, MONSTERS. Evil morons with too much time and no values for human life or basic decency. These kids deserve far more of a punishment than they'll ever get in our justice system. It's funny, our society deems beatings and such as cruel punishment, never to be used in civilized society, yet let's compare crime stats from the USA to other countries who use these methods or stricter to punish their criminals. I think we're missing something .... enough with the hand-holding and wimpy punishments!!! It's obviously not working! Cheers to your column, I read it all the time, more people in the media spotlight need to start speaking the truth. Our society is going downhill fast, and it is going to take some major changes to fix it. Unfortunately, few people seem to have the audacity to stand up and say what is really needed.

Jo Anne H. writes: How right you are. I would have difficult standing behind any family member who killed someone for the sake of killing them! Perhaps some of these people need to go back to "priority school" and stop living their lives alongside celebrities! Maybe a school which helped people prioritize issues for the world, the U.S., their state, city and community could turn some of their worthless endeavors into worthwhile agendas.

Craig B. writes on strollers at conventions: I attended the Chicago Boat & RV Show on Saturday and it was miserable! I lost count at 12 the number of times I was hit by a stroller. Not one of those times did the oblivion pushing that damn thing ever say "Sorry" or "Excuse me." Many of them ignored the fact that they just rammed into another human being and one just said "Whoops! Aaaarrgghhh!" Then there were the fine folks from Harborside Marina ... the nice lady guarding the chains said that she had to limit the number of people touring the boats. There were only another 10-15 people allowed in at a time!!! These weren't small boats. One was 40' another one was 38' (I think) and another in the 40'+ range. After spending 30 minutes in line I was able to get in only to find no less than eight salespeople sitting around having a nice little conversation. They totally ignored everyone else. Thanks to the many Obliviots who ruined my trip to the show.

Jill S. writes of her old HS classmate: Dennis DiClaudio does not know I'm even writing this. Dennis was a year behind me in high school, and was always an incredibly nice guy. He was about 5 feet tall and slight of frame (weighing about 100 pounds), so never got the girls the way the football or soccer stars would. If you talked to him, though, you'd see he was an incredibly bright, funny guy with a razor-sharp wit.

A year after he graduated high school, I ran into him in Philly, where he was waiting table, trying to put himself through college, and was writing stories and screenplays. After that, I never heard about him for years, until last month.

Last December, I heard most of an interview on a national news radio program with a guy who had authored this book called "The Hypochondriac's Pocket Guide to Horrible Diseases You Probably Already Have." The guy, and the book, sounded hilarious, and the voice vaguely familiar, and then his name was mentioned at the end as Dennis DiClaudio. Hoping it was the same schoolmate I knew, I Googled his name, found his Web site, and e-mailed him. I got an incredibly warm, kind, funny and lengthy e-mail back. Apparently, after struggling for years, Dennis got a job as an editor at an online medical journal company, got the idea for this humorous book, said "what the hell" and wrote it. Now it is getting five stars on Amazon, after being released right before Christmas.

We did not go to the best school by any means (it was a blue-collar school in South Jersey), and Dennis had no connections, but he made it anyway, enjoying some success now, but still being the same great guy he always has been, even thanking his friends since high school individually in his book (and e-mailing a girl he hadn't spoken to since 1992).

The book is extremely funny, and I really hope you check it out. It is just that stories like these keep me going, just like your other Stupid Lil Dreamer segments of your columns, and this guy is most deserving of the title. If you want to contact him, just Google his name, and you'll find his Web site, just like I did.

Really ... read this book!

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