Literally Leah

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The Real Rudy November 21, 2011

Filed under: Recreational Activity — The Under-Analyst @ 10:06 am
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I saw the film “Rudy” for the very first time last Thursday night. I know, I know, believe it or not I haven’t been living under a rock the past 15 years, I just never saw it and at some point got it mixed up with that movie Radio and was even more convinced that I didn’t want to see it.  The BF, a Notre Dame graduate, had been repulsed, to say the least, upon discovering my lack of football film culture.  I promised him I’d watch the guy from Goonies throw a pigskin one of these days, just not any day soon.

We have a charming little independent theater right around the corner of our new place.  It hosts a wide genre of movies and often times holds director receptions and actor panels.  You can guess which film magically was playing…

I thought the place would be packed, we bought our tickets ahead of time, although it was full it was by no means up to the brim.  As we walked in I was thrilled to see Sean Astin chatting with other movie goers.  All I kept thinking was Sam Wise Gamgee was here and did he have the precious with him?  We took our seats and the lights dimmed.  There’s something about old movie theatres, the smell of popcorn and hushed excited voices as the crackling old projector spits out the beginning images.

For those who have not seen Rudy before, I will briefly give you the story:

Rudy is young and little and stupid and lives in a small town.  He loves football and dreams of playing for Notre Dame someday.

Rudy graduates high school and gets a job at the local mill.

His best friend tells him to follow his dreams of going to Notre Dame and that it’s not too late (even though the guy is 22).  His buddy tragically dies pretty much the next day.

Rudy tells his girlfriend and family that he is leaving them and going to South Bend.  They tell him that he sucks.

He attends the local community college and works really hard to get good grades to transfer to Notre Dame.

He finally gets in.

He tries out for the football walk on team.  He gets it because he lets the guys beat the hell outta him for practices without complaining.

His family still doesn’t believe that he’s on the team because he doesn’t get to suit up and stand on the sidelines during games.

The last game of his senior year he gets to go out on the field in uniform and play the last 37 seconds of the game.  Everyone cheers his name.  His dream came true.

The End

Okay, so the film actually was quite inspiring and I was sitting back in my chair thinking about a) how incredible it was for him to have one big dream/goal in life and b) how incredible it was that he actually did it!

And then Rudy ruined it. The real Rudy.  They set up the panel on stage with the director, Jon Favreau, Sean Astin and the actual Rudy that the story is based off of.

Real Rudy looked dumpy and on drugs.  The other actors appeared to hate the real Rudy just by watching their body language.  All questions were deflected so that Real Rudy wouldn’t start babbling some nonsense.  What the hell Rudy!?  So you were capable of overcoming all the odds and securing your one dream in life and then you just let your life go down the toilet?  You couldn’t find another dream?  Maybe coaching football at Notre Dame?  Or finding a nice wifey to make babies to send to Notre Dame? I dunno.

So at the end of the night I was glad that I had seen the movie.  But…

Rudy ruined Rudy.


Stop Showing Off Your Privates and NO Stealing… Early Life Lessons. July 27, 2010

Last week I witnessed two teenage girls being arrested outside of Urban Outfitters for shoplifting.  I had assumed stealing went out of style during the late 90’s but obviously I was mistaken (how do they get those ink tags off??).  I wanted to tell these two ruffians that they could have easily avoided this little altercation by visiting their local thrift store where they could find identical outfits for five dollars (if they don’t mind the perfumed medley of peanut butter, meat and urine).   Far too many of my friends had fallen victim to the lure of potentially free clothes via the five finger discount during their teen years resulting in indefinite grouding and community service.  Hope those flared Jincos were worth it ladies. But I was above all that, clearly gifted with superior moral etiquette!   In reality I had simply learned my lesson at a much earlier age.

My first run-in with the law,   by Leah Josephson

-Living in the apartment on Pine Street ended up being a huge turning point in my life. Our complex and the surrounding low-income buildings were filled with what I like to call, Landfill Children. There was cleft-lip Aaron, who was in my then 2nd grade class, his older brother Corey, the Bopsy twins (can’t remember their names but I got caught eating their ice cream and playing with their Barbies when no one was home… their parents found me hiding in the closet, oops?), Slutty Jerine and finally the Fussys.  Yeah their last name was Fussy. The Fussy kids acted like the Boxcar Children on meth, similar to retarded bean plants watered with vodka.  Beyond continually wearing their shoes on the wrong feet, they all donned the same haircut as their lumpy single mother, a mullet. I played with my new friends every chance I got and was rarely bored, a perfect distraction from the growing tension between my mom and dad #2.  During this social blossoming I even joined our local Girl Scout’s chapter, only to quit two weeks later when I discovered all we did was bake crap and visit smelly old people. 

I quickly became best friends with Slutty Jerine because she wore training bras and taught me how to spider swing.  Jerine’s mom was a single chain smoking blonde with a newborn baby and an unhealthy addiction to Cinemax.  It was thanks to her that I saw my first graphic gangbang scene late one night while sleeping over.  Little Red Riding Slut was bossy and often forced me to do things I wasn’t sure about.  She told me that she didn’t have to pay for things, all she’d do is take them.  “My mom doesn’t even care!” She shouted.  Big surprise.  “Like what?” I asked.  “Lipstick, candy, toys, beef jerky.  Anything I want.” Well clearly at the age of 8 I had an extensive toy wish-list and was easily convinced that a trip to Main Street was in order.  We grabbed a couple duffel bags, mounted our Huffys and headed to Coburn’s, the local grocery/everything store in our small town (roughly the size of a hamster’s butthole).  I clearly remember shoving every Barbie down aisle 6 into my very own Santa Sack, along with a pack of Sour Grape Gushers.  My bag was too full to zip and Dentist Barbie stood completely exposed as we waddled out the front doors.  While riding our bikes back towards our white trash projects I turned to Jerine, “Wait… Where can we put this stuff!?  I can’t bring it home, my mom will ask me questions and there’s not enough room under my bed to hide it.”  SJ thought for a moment and then suggested we find a special spot in the woods, our very own secret fort to keep the stash.  At the edge of the woods one of my brother’s friends approached us on his 10 speed and asked us what was in our bags.  I immediately started to cry.  “Oh shut the fuck up Leah!” Screamed Jerine.  She gave the boy a smirk and confidently said, “ It’s our homework thank you very much and she just got stung by a bee which explains her sudden and stupid outburst.”  I sniffed and nodded in agreement and then grabbed my right arm squeaking, “damn bee.”  I had started experimenting with swearing after smoking used cigarette butts that Cleft-lip Aaron and Corey gave us weeks ago. So far my favorite words were “asshole” and “bitch”.  The boy eyed us warily and then rode off towards the park.  Minutes later Slutty Jerine and I were seated under big Oaks and comparing our steals.  I opened a pack of Gushers and decided I had found my new passion in life. I was basically a Robin Hood! I had just popped another fruit snack in my mouth when my brother came charging in, crushing twigs and branches underfoot.  His dipshit friend had followed us, seen our inventory and then had gone back to tattle, “Get home now!  You’re in SO much trouble! They called the cops on you two,” my rat-tailed brother yelled.  The cops?  Oh my god.  I was going to Prison!  I cried the whole way home as my brother explained to me that I’d probably get sentenced to life and maybe get the death penalty.  He kept asking me if I preferred getting electrocuted to death or being hung. 

When I got home my mom’s face was frozen in a mix of curiosity and terror.  I was told to sit on the sofa.  I took this moment to pray to the baby Jesus.  I heard laughs coming from the kitchen and an extremely tall officer bent down over my trembling body. “Leah, it’s Leah right?  Ok, I’m officer blahblahblah, don’t cry, it’s okay.  I need to have a little talk with you.”  I briefly stopped crying and pulled my stretch pants out of my ass.  “Do you know what stealing is?” Well duh, I’m not an idiot… or wait, maybe I was! Of course, that was the answer, playing dumb was surely the best route.  I shook my head no.  He then went on to describe the value of money and how we all need to work for money.  When he finished he handed me a cherry Blowpop and told me to “be a good girl now.”  No handcuffs?  A sucker?  I was almost smiling except my mom was still watching and I knew better.  After the cop left, my mom informed me that my loot had been recovered and I needed to personally apologize to the manager of Coburn’s and pay for the Gushers I opened.  I did both of these things.  The manger wasn’t as nice as the easily duped cop.  Mr. Coburn banned me from the store for a year.  The only effing grocery store in town! 

From then on I had to sit in the car (remember that Minnesota winters are fatal!) and wait while my mom and brother shopped.  They always gave the kids fresh cookies at the checkout lane and without fail my brother, upon returning to our 2 door rusted hatchback, would offer me part of his cookie and as I’d eagerly say yes, mouth watering, he’d lick it all over and say, “oops” and shove it down his throat.  I credit my selfish brother for truly teaching me the valuable lesson of not stealing, had I been given cookies that year I might have decided shoplifting resulted in sugary treats and frostbite, not a terrible combination.   As for Slutty Jerine, her mom didn’t care.  I was no longer allowed to play with the Whorey Hoarder without parental supervision. – The End

Concluding Thoughts:

I’ve been thinking that maybe I should share my story, assembly style, to grade-schoolers nationwide. My schools always had inspirational guest speakers… just say’n.


Recession Woes and a Puppet Killer December 14, 2009

Filed under: Fail,Jobs,Magic,Recreational Activity — The Under-Analyst @ 4:48 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Shortly after moving to the Santa Monica area I was pleased to discover a local paper, “The Santa Monica Daily Press.” Aha!  Here was the perfect vehicle to introduce my candid reporting to all the uninformed neighbors!  The paper’s articles were dull and lacked a much-needed edge (thoughts of Des Moines’ “Juice” came to mind).  On a Friday, a few weeks later, I was meandering home from the grocery store when a cartoon-like character, peeping from a window, caught my attention.  I turned to my right and gaped, open-mouthed, at the gem in front of me.  A quaint building displayed the words, “Santa Monica Puppetry Center,” which casted a shadow over the narrow sidewalk.  I peered closer at the strange images in the windows.  Photos of puppets and what I presumed to be the puppet master filled the two large  panes.  The door read, “Puppetolio, LA’s Longest Running Puppet Show.”

This would be the story that would make my name known in the circulating small paper world! What would my angle be?  “Puppets, Santa Monica’s Silent Neighbors… A Real Boy, the Local Pinocchio… Puppet Masters Vs. Hollywood…I’ve Got An Arm Up My Ass, I Must Be a Puppet…”  I needed to see a performance of this Puppetolio and if I was lucky maybe get a behind the scenes tour. It was then that I noticed a Saturday matinee performance posted on the entrance. I skipped home with visions of puppets and journalism awards dancing in my cerebellum. 

The next day, the BIG day, I woke early and began my in-depth research via Google.  The center’s webpage, , introduced me to Steve Meltzer, Puppet Master, maker, owner and friend.  Normally open-minded, I had to focus on my un-biased data collection (fighting off labels such as; pervert, weirdass, loser, puppet-lover).  I invited a few girlfriends to join me but they all graciously declined (their loss!).  This was probably for the best since I was on a job, after all.

I walked the sunny four blocks and was surprised to see a line of people outside the door.  For some reason I had assumed I might be the only patron or that there’d be no more than three or four of us.  The line had at least 8 people: a few grandparents with their grandchildren, a mom and dad with an unfortunate looking child, and a girl who appeared to be around my age.  What the hell was a twenty-something doing by herself at a puppet show on a Saturday day (we were so close to the beach)?   Maybe she was on assignment as well… competition, bring it skank.  The door opened and the excitement I experienced was nothing short of a Christmas morning.  Tickets were only seven dollars to my surprise.  Steve, the puppet master (whom I recognized from the photos and website) stood behind the ticket counter and asked me if I was meeting a friend.  Nope, just taking in a mid-day puppet show solo, but thanks.  I looked around and was overwhelmed with puppet décor.  Framed photos of puppets and puppet masters lined the walls.  Puppets in un-opened packages were mounted next to antique characters on strings.  The room to the right was packed with puppet paraphernalia and I was slightly frightened.  Where was I?  What did I just willingly pay money to see?  He opened a velvet curtain and we were all ushered in the theatre. The stadium seating was impressive and it appeared that maximum capacity was twenty or so.  I took a seat in the back row and took out my yellow legal pad and pen.  I began jotting down detailed descriptions of my surroundings.  I looked to the right and saw that a middle-aged woman had joined the young twenty-something.  I suddenly felt alone.  Some of the other audience members peered up at me scribbling on my paper.  I ignored them and sat upright with journalistic pride.

The puppet master introduced himself and made a small political joke, which impressed us adults.  The main puppet, used ventriloquist style, was Freddy Mingo.  He led the group on a few songs.  The music in the show was previously recorded and featured the voice of Steve Meltzer, puppet master.  After Freddy, Steve danced a few string puppets on the stage to the delight of the children.  I found myself singing along to “On Top of Spaghetti,” with vigor.  I loved puppets!  I was reminded of my childhood days watching “LambChops.” My only real criticism was the husky voice used for the girl puppets giving the audience the impression these “ladies” on strings had smoked most of their lives and quite possibly had a hormonal imbalance. The show ended after about forty-five minutes, which was perfect for the small attention span of children.  Post-show he unveiled the “workshop” (a small corner of the theatre with puppet body parts strewn about…slightly disturbing) and a giant animatronics puppet that he turned on and made sing for us all.

I heard an elderly couple tell their grandchild that they’d come back in a few weeks.  I held my notepad and continued to take notes.  Steve watched me with curiosity.  I felt powerful.  Finally everyone began to clear out.  Steve turned to me and asked, “I hope you’re not auditing me.”  Haha, oh Steve…

“Heeheeheee Who me? No, just writing a little piece on your setup here,” I replied.

“Oh really?  What are you writing it for?  What publication?”  He asked, smiling. 

This is when I lied.  “The Santa Monica Daily Press.” Well, it wasn’t exactly a lie because I had every intention of getting my story published in there. 

“Oh fantastic, you guys have always been so good to me. Please come have a seat.”

I couldn’t believe this!  I, Leah Josephson, was going to have a one on one interview with the puppet master himself! 

“Let me give you your money back, I never make press pay.”

“No, no, I want to contribute,” I said guiltily.  I began to ask him questions pre-rehearsed from earlier in the day.  We discussed his beginnings, the love he immediately felt for puppetry, his struggle to make a living from it, all of the festivals he had appeared in and the current recession setbacks.  He told me of old puppet legends he had met and worked with (including LampChop’s lady).  He told me, off the record, about just how hard the economy was on the show (which I won’t get into in order to respect his off the record wishes).  The shows were still drawing a crowd but his main source of income was school performances and this year all of the schools cut out their entertainment funds.  He told me to make sure to include this in my article so everyone could be aware of just how critical school funding is. 

Before I left he gifted me a DVD of the show and asked when the article was set to appear.  I told him it was completely up to the editor (liar, liar pants on fire). 

I was filled with adrenaline from my puppet journalism experience and called my nana to tell her that I was the next Barbara Walters (minus the lisp). 

The next week I kept trying to write the article.  I would start and then get stuck.  I sat there at my office and in between clients I’d write a sentence or two, only to read it back and delete it.  I sent the DVD to my nephew.  I began to panic.  Who was I kidding?  I couldn’t write a full feature article that would be good enough to be published, especially by the Santa Monica Daily Press.  And poor Steve! I had duped him.  He’d be waiting and waiting, picking up the paper and searching desperately for our in-depth interview.  Maybe he’d call the paper and ask for Leah and they would say, “I’m sorry we have no such writer here.”  Maybe he would cry.  Maybe he would slam his fist down and lament all his woes to his puppets.  I felt terrible but it was done, I couldn’t write it, I was a puppet journalist failure.

A month later I walked past the puppet center and read the notice on the door, “Puppetolio CLOSED.”  I crept away from the door, shaking my head.  Closed?  It wasn’t possible.  I immediately checked their website after I got home and there it was, “PUPPETOLIO IS CLOSED.  We thank all of our friends for their support over the years.  Unfortunately the economy and other factors has made it necessary to close the Santa Monica Puppetry Center and Museum.” 

“Other factors?”  Like lying, fake journalists!?  I had ruined the puppet center! I had ruined Steve’s life!  I wanted to write a large check out to him and give him back his life and dreams… but I had no money. 

I kill puppets.  So, now I carry this burden on my back.  Like a camel with humps I traverse this desolate world secretly crying out, “I’m sorry Steve, please forgive me.”  A scarlet letter burns on my chest.  And so this blog now serves as a sort of repentance.

Puppetolio lives on! here in my blog, and here in my heart.  

Final Show *(image from official website)


Rambles on a Tuesday December 1, 2009

Filed under: Identity,Recreational Activity — The Under-Analyst @ 1:06 pm
Tags: , ,

I pick up a copy of “Pen on Fire, a busy woman’s guide to igniting the writer within.”  Well, this book isn’t for me now is it!  Where is the book titled, “Mac book on fire, a lazy too-much-time-on-her-hands woman’s guide to igniting the writer within?

 “This is crap,” I announce to my mother as she is steeped over the stove.  I am skimming the first chapter of the book and I read aloud the following inspirational paragraph:

 “Spectators don’t win fights and the one fighting technique I have not seen fail yet is to just keep getting up.  People shouldn’t be discouraged, because they can go from everybody saying that they would never be published and all of a sudden the wall’s down, not from any one punch but from the accumulated weight of all the punches…”

“I’m not a puncher!” I say out loud.

My mother clicks her tongue and smiles at me, “No fancy, you’re not.  You’re more like a whiner.”

“Maybe I’m a slapper,” I venture.

“No, sweetie.  You’d be like this, ‘Heeeey, there’s a wall here.  Not fair! Shit. Stupid wall.  Nooooo. Hhhmm what’s on tv?” 

We both laugh.  “Face it baby girl, we’re giver uppers.”

As I sigh and smile up at her I am frustrated.  Why can’t I be a puncher? 

It was only a week ago that I lay on the small couch, feet dangling over the edge, watching Barbra Streisand Live in Concert on a Saturday night with my mom and her husband.  As I watched the band accompany her I was suddenly reminded of my days as first chair flute in eighth grade. 

“I could have been a professional fluter,” I declare to no one in particular.  And this gets me thinking about all of the things I could have done but didn’t.  Is there still hope?  At what point do dreams become past time shouldas and not future maybes?

I am comforted by the fact that writing is ageless without an expiration date.  Maybe I will find the discipline I need inside of my mature years?  Or maybe I simply need to learn how to be a puncher.


Assimilation… intellectually speaking. July 23, 2009

Filed under: Recreational Activity — The Under-Analyst @ 11:48 pm
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I have chanced upon a small group of intellectually superior women, The Progressive Young Women’s Book Club of Santa Monica.  I had been excited for 2 whole weeks, hurriedly reading the chosen title, “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down” by Anne Fadiman.  I brought my mozzarella, tomato and olive medley (we were instructed to bring a snack) along with a bottle of wine to one of the member’s house.  ann_fadiman


We did small introductions and waited for more members (that didn’t come) before launching into the book.  We strayed from the topic at hand for a majority of the meeting, instead focusing on political events, recent cultural elements and most importantly, our personal lives.  I learned that one woman was a professor at Santa Monica College and a recent foster mother.  The group’s leader was attending a rigorous boot camp daily, volunteering with handicapped children on weekends and pursuing her doctrate, or no maybe now it’s her PHD… and the other girl described her experience in obtaining a Masters and then told us that she worked for the city of Malibu in housing permits.  At one point I dumbly thought that I was on the same page and complained about my student loans, to which they all responded “for an undergrad? Oh, you should never have to pay on student loans for an undergrad!”  Not to mention for an undergrad from a college no one has heard of! (why did I even go to college? The Zoo bar?) Then it was my turn;  How old are you?  ’25, yeah, yeah not exactly fresh out of college.’   What do you do?  ‘I work at a Bariatric Physician’s office in Beverly Hills, yeah a weight-loss center, no, no, I’m the front desk, and no I don’t have health benefits’ (this launches us all into a tirade of the shit healthcare system).  Well, what is it that you want to do? (oh no.. I don’t know that answer) ‘Umm, everything, I’m still trying to figure that out…(wow, impressive, hurry and redeem yourself) I spent last year living in Spain, working.’ (This gets approving nods, thank God)  But what did you study?  ‘Gee, everything, ya know I just didn’t know… it’s like, well I’m not sure if this happens to you, but inspiration and insight always hit me at night so that I can’t sleep because I’m so excited but by morning I’m tired and completely uninspired or motivated…’ (blank stares) So what did you study?  ‘Oh right, sorry. (laughter) I was an art major, then PR and finally ended up with a degree in Corporate Communications’.   They all mumble, “corporate communications.”  “What’s that?”  “Yeah, I don’t even know what that is,” says the  professor.  I give them my standard definition, ‘It’s an umbrella of advertising, marketing,  public relations and human resources.’ But what do you do with that….(work at a fat clinic, duh).  Group leader suggests I look into fundraiser positions. “Have you ever fundraised?”  Yes, I did participate in a few Kappa car washes, but images of  my younger fundraising days quickly entered my head (every time our school had a candy bar fundraiser my mom would have to write a check to the school because I’d eat all my bars and not sell any. One time we were selling giftwrap  for a school fundraiser and I collected the orders and money from some neighbors, threw away the orders and bought candy at Walgreens with the money).  But I’m adult and have a handle on my candy consumption so maybe she was right… I could fundraise?  We end up on a conversation about a recent NPR story because one of the members admittedly states, “it’s the only station I listen to and I don’t have a tv so I listen at home too.” (God bless her) Luckily I just so happen to have been listening to NPR  and proudly offered my input.  1 point for me.  

The evening moves on and I get my fill of fresh veggies on the table (good thing I didn’t bring pizza rolls) and wine is involved so I’m happy.  We somehow end up on the topic of Law & Order SVU episodes.  The group leader shares a story involving a family member that was later made into an episode.  I tell them that my mom isn’t allowed to watch that show because afterwards she calls me freaking out about how I’m gonna get raped, blah, blah, blah.  I share with them a creepy story (one my mom called to tell me about, after making sure I was locking my door and not talking to neighbors) about a girl who is raped and murdered.  When my story is over they decide our meeting is finished….  

Our next meeting, for the new book we’re reading, will be in one month’s time.  

Maybe I can a) secure a Masters, b) get a job with a non-profit or c) become a famous writer before then.  

And hopefully I’ll be invited back.