Grrr! The Ball's in Your Court

There is incompetence everywhere.

Recently I heard two versions as to why someone couldn't correct a problem coming out of his department. One was he didn't have electricity in his apartment, so he was unable to log in to the network. The second was he didn't get the page because he was on a subway.

Two very different excuses generating the same result: The problem didn't get fixed as quickly as it should have.

The bottom line is, rare is the person willing to be held accountable for their incompetence or their actions.

So where does the problem stem from? I think it's pretty easy to identify. Kids who get poor test scores these days can point to their teachers. After all, if the teachers taught better, the scores would be higher, right?

Video: Greta on The Real Deal

Violent criminals can point to the big bad make-believe violence on television, video games and at the movies. After all, nobody has violent thoughts until they are exposed to graphic images on some screen, right?

And of course, teenagers are having premarital sex only because they are exposed to sexy ads in magazines, music videos starring beautiful people gyrating suggestively and the proliferation of pornography. God knows nobody would even think of sex before marriage without those outside stimulants.

Under-performing employees say they are overworked or underpaid. They say they don't have enough resources allocated to get the job done. They say there are not enough hours in the day or that the battery in their pager was dead when they were needed. Somehow it's the company's fault that the batteries they provide for the pagers don't simply last forever. It's never about them.

No. Sorry. Ain't gonna work.

Where does society's role in shaping general behavior begin and end? It's easy to blame the big companies that make money peddling substandard morals. But whose morals are setting those standards? We live in a free country. One person's favorite song or show can be another person's revulsion.

The solution to so many of our societal issues lies within us, and only we truly know what our individual strengths are.

Do you have what it takes to commit to a job, where an employer is paying you to perform tasks? If not, please, quit, and open up the slot for someone who does.

Do you have what it takes to be a father or a mother, where your role is most important?
If not, please, don't have kids. In a country where one needs a license for just about everything, where home economics and typing are courses in high school, it amazes me that there are no licenses required to have children or at the very least, no mandatory courses in basic child-rearing in high school or college.

No, of course somebody would be offended. Plus, don't forget, teachers don't know anything remember? If they did, whom would we blame for our shortcomings?

Recently we've heard a lot of talk about parents who let their kids sleep in Michael Jackson's bed. Bad, bad parents. Yup. You have to be one of the biggest Obliviots in the world to knowingly let your child sleep in a bed with any adult, famous or not.

But money cures all problems, right, and we have plenty of courses in money, don't we?

Jackson's first alleged victim was paid handsomely for his silence.

Watch, Russell Crowe will never be tried for assault and battery. His victim and any witnesses will cash giant checks and the charges against the Oscar-winning celebrity will be dropped.

If it were you or me who threw a phone, with modest-to-no assets in the bank, you better believe we'd be sitting in a jail cell or doing some community service. We'd probably lose our jobs as well.

Not Crowe. His next film will be celebrated, and the entertainment media will be out on that red carpet with microphones and cameras in tow, feeding the celebrity-starved audience their daily dose of lights, camera, access.

And why not? After all, it's what the audience wants right?

We are living in a society where money is king, where fame is enviable and where getting into a hot club or wearing the right pair of jeans at any cost is really, really important.

I want an Oompa Lumpa now daddy, and if I don't get it, then I'll blame somebody else.

Doing the right thing barely makes the top five of our desires. If you want to change the world, you have to start with you. If we all do that, we'd all be much happier, and good times and a sensible society becomes inevitable.

Good luck.

Grrrs Gone Wild and Random Oblivion Sightings

Traveling to Los Angeles this morning, I stopped for a cup of coffee at a franchise coffee shop at the airport. It was self-serve, where the clerk simply hands you an empty cup for $2.07. There was a tip jar on the counter. Huh?

While boarding the plane, a 20-something woman behind me was on the phone with her mom. She said, "Mom, I just saw a famous rapper get on my plane? I don't know his name."

Same flight, empty rows, people sleeping supine. No Grrr there. Except a few had their bare feet hanging out in the aisle. Who are these people? I would like to live in a world where I was the only person, wouldn't you?

With all the sophisticated technology these days, why do we still have to shut our MP3 players off during take-off and landing? Surely they've got that figured out by now, don't they? I need a little Chris Cornell during takeoff.

Ever notice that when morning news shows do budget cooking segments — where chefs show how to make great dishes with inexpensive ingredients — they always use celebrity chefs who own restaurants where the appetizers cost more than the dinner they've created for the segment? Who are they kidding?

A celebrity publicist called to ask that I send a tape of the piece I did on her famous client that aired the night before. I gently informed her that I wasn't in the dubbing business, and asked her how much her celebrity client was paying her. Too much if you ask me.

Went to see "Madagascar" with baby Maxine (she loved it) last weekend. The theater was filled with kids. Wouldn't you know, it was the mom behind me who kept talking and devouring her popcorn as if it were her last meal on earth. The kids were fine.

An attractive woman on the train was wearing a tank top and no bra, a mini-skirt and high-heeled sandals — during rush hour. She gave me a dirty look when I did a double-take. Sorry, but if you dress for attention, you're going to get it.

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Mike Straka is the director of operations and special projects for, and covers entertainment and features on the Sunday program "FOX Magazine." He also writes the weekly Grrr! Column and hosts "The Real Deal" video segments on