Is It Safe? ... Grrr!

"Is it safe?"

Those were the immortal words of Sir Laurence Olivier (search), spoken as the Nazi dentist in the 1976 thriller classic "Marathon Man," starring Dustin Hoffman (search).

Just don't ask any of the contestants on "American Idol" if they've ever seen it. Of the eight finalists on last week's "AI," which featured "Kill Bill: Vol. 2" director Quentin Tarantino (search) as a spookily well-informed guest judge, five of the contestants chose animated features as their favorite movies.

And while "Aladdin," "Lilo and Stitch" and "Finding Nemo" are entertaining films, I was flabbergasted at the choices. No Martin Scorsese. No Orson Welles. No Fellini. No Tony Scott. Not even Tarantino, whose own cult classic "Pulp Fiction" might be "young" enough to have appealed to these TV kiddies.

Come on! Even wannabe pop stars should have a sense of history more recent than last summer! I guess MTV isn't doing any historical programming (since that's where these kids get most of their information).

Is It Safe ... to Drive? Grrr!

Man, lots of Oblivions on the road these days. Why can't people grasp the concept of the left turn lane? Listen folks, the lane in the middle of the road — you know the one with the big arrow curving to the left? That's so you don't have to stop the flow of traffic behind you while you wait for a break in the oncoming traffic to make your turn. Try using it!

This isn't difficult folks. And I know we all know why it's there, but I think it bears repeating. That little plastic handle that sticks out from the left side of the steering wheel controls your vehicle's turn signals. It's really close to your left hand and really easy to use. It's there so other drivers know where you're going, when you're changing lanes, etc. Try using it!

Oh, by the way. I received a lot of e-mails in defense of suburban moms who drive Hummers. Apparently I'm an arrogant "neo-commie" and an "SUV Nazi," among other things. Yes, we have the right to buy whatever we darn well please with our hard-earned money. Yes, we have the right to pay $50 for a tank of gas if that's how we want to spend our dough. Yes, we have the right to buy an expensive vehicle designed for off-roading and warfare, and use them where there is no off-roading or warfare.

But, in my humble Grrr! opinion, unless one lives on a ranch, in Orange County, N.Y., in American Chopper (search) country, or is on active duty in the armed services, Hummers on the highway are dumb. Plain and simple. I especially like the protective covers on the taillights on the suburban mom models. I can see how the brush in the overrun local Starbucks parking lot would be problematic (ditto Mimi in Pa.)

Is It Safe ... to Look at Mannequins? Grrr!

Good thing the FCC doesn't have any jurisdiction over shopping malls. If so, I'm sure retail stores would be heavily fined for displaying clothes on mannequins that sport protruding nipples. As if we men weren't already sex-obsessed enough, now we're doing double takes at plastic renditions of the female form. And since Victoria's Secret has announced it will be abandoning the televised fashion runway show, will they also be toning down the giant photo of the provocatively dressed model in its retail stores? I highly doubt it (not that I have anything against lingerie models), but going on the Intimate Brands morality compliance theory, there are a heck of a lot more easily influenced kids walking through malls than there are awake at 10 p.m. watching the fashion show.

Product Placement ... Grrr!

I won't give them another plug here, but does Donald Trump really expect us to believe that in the final two episodes of "The Apprentice," when winner Bill Rancic's team lost a golf sponsor's signage, that the number of times the sponsor's name was mentioned on those episodes wasn't deliberate? "We lost the [sponsor] signage," "We couldn't find the [sponsor] sign," "I found the [sponsor] sign in the dumpster," "[Sponsor] would have been understandably upset if we didn't find the sign." Please! Said (many times) sponsor got a lot more publicity for almost not sponsoring the tournament, than they would have gotten if nobody "lost" the sign.

What, do they think we came down with the last snowflake?

Technical Support

I've been known to Grrr! on technical support staffs, but let's not forget that these people are subjected to more Oblivion behavior in one day than most of us see in a month. So, let's remember to turn our computers on, before calling the corporate help desk. Don't wait until you're in the car to call technical support on your cell phone about problems on your home PC or its Internet connection. It won't help the technician troubleshoot your problem if you're not sitting in front of your computer.

And when you're dealing with a tech support worker who really knows tech, it's useless to try to fool him or her. Therefore, if you did hit that delete button, or if you did download that virus, just tell the truth. It will save a lot of time for both you and them. And if you are looking at the software window and you can't see the giant "click here to get started" button on the screen (because it was too obvious for you to see — it happens), don't act like it just appeared on your screen out of nowhere. They know better.

Grrrs Gone Wild!

Fear not! How many people do you know who are afraid to try, because they are afraid to fail?  People, if you don't try, you will fail.

We all think our babies are gorgeous (case in point — baby Maxine with Daddy in the photo above). However, just because your uncle, neighbor or sorority sister works in show business in some capacity, don't ask them to get your kid a talent agent. It takes a lot more than having a cute baby to get them in commercials or movies, and most parents don't have the time, money or energy for the (mostly failing) journey. Watch Bravo's frighteningly real documentary-style show "Stage Moms and Dads," (search) before you decide your kid is the next Life Cereal "Mikey."

Bitter, table for one?  It's very Grrr'ing when restaurant hosts ask "how can we help you today?"  Well, we're not there to get our tires rotated? How about a simple "table for two?" That should cover it. I give hosts about one minute to acknowledge my party's presence (depending on how busy the restaurant is). If I'm ignored, especially when I'm hot and hungry (a lethal combination), I usually just leave.

And speaking of tires.  Had a blowout the other night, so after putting on the spare I stopped at a certain national auto parts store to get a new tire mounted on the rim. I waited several minutes on a long "customer service" line while one rep took care of business. When it was finally my turn and I asked for a 195-65-R15, I got: "I don't do that here, you gotta go to parts for that. Next." I walked out and took my tire and my Grrr! to the local Goodyear dealer, where I was treated like they actually appreciated my business. What a concept!

Now for Your Grrrs

Adam L. from Maywood, N.J., Grrrs: Why is it that when you get married, EVERYONE wants to know when you're having a baby? Um, people, I think that's somewhat personal and none of your business. Maybe, my wife and I are actually happy together and enjoy each other's company. Maybe, my wife and I actually love each other enough and aren't desperate for the attention and extra love you think you'll get from your baby. I know it's hard to understand, but for the 80 percent of you who are having a baby because you are miserable, it isn't going to make it any better. Grrrrrrrrr!

Pete in Dale City, Va., Grrrs: As a parent you will come to appreciate this more as your kids receive gifts. The clam shell packaging is great, but why are the [toys] twist-tied to the cardboard backing? My kids' tough Tonka was held in place by no less than eight twist-ties made of industrial strength steel with about 12 turns that no amount of quick twisting would undo them.  Out to the shed for the wire cutters! Adding to the injury, if you can untwist the tie, you get a work-out trying to pull it out the hole! Grrr!

Mikhal M. in Charlottesville, Va., Grrrs: Grrrrr to the person who drives a Hummer around Virginia with the license plate "Global Warmer!"  As if acknowledgement of your environmental destruction makes you a better person!

To Joe in Miami (last column) from Mrs. Erit Gill-Riek in Israel:  Sorry, but I don't get it. If a passenger is comfortable in their car while putting their feet up on the dashboard, why should it bother you at all? I am a short person and when I am sitting in the passenger seat on a road trip I LOVE to put up my feet (which is healthy by the way). Naturally, I wouldn't do this in any old car (my brother used to get very irritated when I would do so on his fancy cars!), but in our vintage subaru station wagon, and with my husband's approval ( I usually ask if he minds)  WHY NOT?  AND WHY ON EARTH WOULD IT BOTHER ANYONE ELSE????  Sorry, but I just don't get it.  And I would be very interested in knowing the answer.

Bonnie in CyberSpace adds: Re Joe in Miami — Why does it Grrrr you if I have my feet on the dash board of the car in which I am a passenger? Unless of course it is your car in which I am a passenger. Let me see, sitting in my car, having my feet on my dashboard. Nope, don't see your Grrr.

—Besides Joe, a nice pedicure attached to nice legs shouldn't really qualify as Grrr! material.

I have a fan in Kelli Rice of Fallbrook, Calif.: Mike, love your column. I agree with so many of the grrrs that I feel vindicated everytime I read it. I especially appreciate the term "oblivion." I now do not have to worry about bad language around my kids (like jackass & moron) and can give them an accurate definition of what the oblivion is doing wrong. I'm trying to raise them to not be oblivions! You're great!

—Thanks Kelli.

Sarah Wright in CyberSpace Grrrs: Why is it people walk slowly down the middle of the lane in a parking lot? That really makes me go grrrr.

Will Schefter Grrrs: Several weeks ago you GRRR'd about Xenon headlights in your rearview mirror.I am sick and tired of seeing people driving with their fog lights on. Most of the time they are not factory installed and, like the headlights, aimed way too high, almost level with your line of sight. On top of that 99 percent of the time there is no fog!! People, have respect for others and turn the darn things off! GGGGGRRRRRRRRRR!

Jerry in Germantown, Md.: Grrr to all of those morning news programs that treat their own reality shows as serious news stories. On the CBS Early Show an exclusive interview with the latest "Tribe" member to get voted out of Survivor. That's not news, the show wrapped weeks ago. It's just shameless huckstering masquerading as news. NBC and FOX aren't any better with their "The Apprentice" and "American idol."

Steve from Cheswick, Pa., writes: So, you took baby Maxine to an international auto show in a baby carriage. Are you trying to "Keep Up With The Oblibions," Mike?

—For the record, I checked the carriage and had baby Maxine in the Snugly. But, as a Fair and Balanced reporter, sometimes I need to see the world through the eyes of the Oblivion in order to give them a fair shake.

Ron W. in Baltimore, Md., Grrrs: It must be working or they wouldn't do it, but I'm so tired of pharmacuetical companies pushing drugs to people in TV commercials that don't explain what the drug is for. I'm sure that doctors' offices are equally thrilled to be handling all the calls from oblivion hypochondriacs who are certain that the drug du jour is something they must have. Wonder if you get to keep the co-pay for self-prescribed drugs?

Jen D. in Kansas City, Mo.: Here's my grrrrrrr, although it may sound completely petty: Why must some men stare at women as if they're walking around naked? I'm talking about guys who do a complete 180 when I walk by, even though i'm dressed in BAGGY jeans, a BAGGY sweatshirt and wearing no makeup! I am no beauty queen, far from it, even when I'm trying to look my best. But these guys still have to stare like they've never seen a person of the opposite sex ever before in their life. These men are usually sloppy, greasy guys in desperate need of a shower, which ads to the grrrrr factor. Go away, you scare me.

—Jen, was that you?  Sorry about that. 

Stupid Lit'l Dreamers

Aspiring to one's version of the American Dream is what makes our country so great. Since I've been known to be a Stupid Lit'l Dreamer myself, every now and then I will feature aspiring somebodies, whether it be in business, inventions, entertainment or literature, and give them a little Grrr! plug.

Drew Condell gets the inaugural Stupid Lit'l Dreamer plug. His features original character designs on "Good looking baby clothes." I already bought a few onesies for baby Maxine, and she seems to like them.

Until next week, Grrrrrrrrrr!

Read previous Strakalogue Grrr! columns

Mike Straka is the Director of Operations and Special Projects for, and contributes as a features reporter and producer on "FOX Magazine" & "Sunday Best." 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 & shows.

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