Laugh…or cry: “IN_security” is Scary Funny

Homer Simpson created by Matt Groening.

INsecurity is scary funny.  In other words, it is scary how utterly stupid some of todays so-called “security procedures” are sometimes so off-base when it comes to trying to keep the population a safe place.


This true story from a friend of mine is one perfect example:

“Visit  to the City County Building was exciting. Made it through security only to have the guard shout ‘Ma’m!! Come back!! Do you have a manicure set in your purse?’ I have no idea but sure enough I find one. He then tells me he can’t let me keep it. Ok that’s fine. Then the female guard tells him I have pepper spray too. I don’t. I do have an inhaler. I asked if he wanted that too. He said no. Then I ask him how to get to the firearms office so I can get my gun permit”

This goes into my file of examples of foolishness that everyday citizens come across much too often. Not that there are security measures because prudence calls for those. Rather, that there seem to be some absurd and incongruently applied  limits to personal freedoms vs. restricted personal possessions.

Perhaps these “security measures” are a social experiment to see if we will see a rise in the general population walking around with long, dangling hangnails, sagging pants without belts and scuttling about in glorified house-slippers?

Silent Surprise says “Open Your Eyes”

DOWNTOWN INDIANAPOLIS- While I was putting coins in a parking meter on Meridian Street I glanced about the Indiana War Memorial Plaza and took in all the flags at half staff. Tomorrow is Veterans’ Day and most flags are at half staff in honor of a tragic shooting last week claiming the lives of many servicemen in Texas last week.

While taking in the serenity that was accompanying the sunshine on this fine, fall day, I noticed a peculiarity. There was a woman in white at the base of the flagpoles, all dressed in white, moving with tai chi like movements. No sooner had that registered when I realized that there was another woman several feet away mirroring these exact movements. They both were facing southward toward the World War Memorial Building on Michigan street where there were even more ladies in white making these same graceful movements. Now glancing all about, I noticed that there were about a dozen of these white clad dancers spread over the city block square area. What was going on?

Since I always have my digital camera with me, and my curiosity was peaked, I took out my notebook to collect some news. This is what I discovered.

I had stumbled upon RANDOM ACTS OF IMPROV. This was one of several surprise activities that will take place throughout the city during the ten days of the SPIRIT AND PLACE FESTIVAL taking place November 6 – 15th. (see for more details).

This particular display, put on by Susurrus Performance Group (website click here) happened right at the noon hour, causing many city pedestrians stopping on the sidewalk and asking me what was going on. They joined me watching in wonderment momentarily before they continued on their way.

I believe that this is one of the goals of Susurrus and the many other performance groups partnering with the Spirit and Place Festival as they encourage some people to interrupt their mundane routine long enough to get involved in their surroundings; to stop and take notice of what is happening in their neighborhood. How refreshing it is to enter into a moment of wonderment and to take time to engage with other people that we would normally just walk by.

In that regard I challenge those of you in the Indianapolis area to keep your eyes open for surprise happenings and the opportunity to engage. There are going to be dozens of happenings over the next week that are unannounced. Thus, the Random Acts of Improv will surprise people. So keep your eyes open. Maybe we will learn to be not only see our community with fresh eyes, but perhaps, we might take it a step further and become actively engaged.

NOTE: not all events are surprises.  There are also 40 events–nature walks and driving tours, dance and theatre performances, conversations and workshops, panel discussions and potlucks, and much more! Over 85% of these activities are FREE!

Former Indianapolis Mayor Bill Hudnut will be present at the marque event on the last day. There is simply too much to cover here… so please visit the Spirit and Place Festival web site by clicking here.

Thank you to Susurrus and the Spirit and Place Festival (and the many other partners) for being such a blessing to our community by reminding us that we all can bless one another by just taking a moment to engage with another person in creative ways.

FAS Friends

I met with a new friend tonight who I call “Fishers Fran.” We both have Foreign Accent Syndrome, (an extremely rare

Eastside Ellen and Fishers Fran shake up the Steak 'n' Shake.
Eastside Ellen and Fishers Fran shake up a local Steak 'n' Shake. ---Photo by waitress Cloe.

medical condition that causes a person to speak with a foreign accent that is not their own) and live in the Indy area.

Fran had some friends tell her about hearing me on the WIBC 93.1 FM radio spots I’ve been doing over the last couple Tuesday mornings by invitation of the Morning Show personalities Terri Stacy and Big Joe Stayzniak. Her friends told her that she must listen. Then Fran took the initiative to call the radio station and they passed along my name and told her I was on FaceBook where she sent me a message.

Last Tuesday evening when we first spoke by phone, Fran had her normal voice. Her foreign accent came on suddenly for her along with left side neuromuscular symptoms back in 2005. Unlike me, her regular voice has returned, but she does have episodes where the accent returns for a few days. In fact she recently was interviewed about her Foreign Accent Syndrome story in an article for the April Issue of a magazine that is popular with the Catholic faith. I am sorry that I do not have the publications name right now, but I will edit this post when I have it.

Today she called to say that her voice has “flipped” so that she has the accent again. Her voice does have strong similarities to my own, but is definitely different. She can say some long “A” sounds that I cannot, and I can pronounce the “SK” sound that she cannot. So it was very enlightening as we met at a northeast side Steak and Shake for a friendly supper. Many patrons stared as we spoke and laughed together. Our waitress asked the inevitable “where are you from” question. To which we both smiled and replied “where do you think?”  “Think” was  pronounced “Sink” by Fran and more like “Tink” by me. Our waitress took a while to understand the fact that we are not FROM Europe and now living in the Indiana. Rather, we are both Midwestern Americans who are speaking with very strong foreign accents.  She guessed Fran as more Eastern European and me she placed as Irish. LOL. Anyway our waitress Cloe was kind enough to snap our photo with my camera.

Given that there have been reportedly less than one hundred cases of Foreign Accent Syndrome ever reported worldwide and that so very few people, including medical professionals, have even heard of the affliction, I believe our budding friendship is an answer to prayer! It was encouraging to talk to someone who understands what it feels like to not have the voice/accent you have had your whole life. I feel greatly blessed by meeting her, and especially since she is within short driving distance.

We may have discovered a new comedy team in the making as well. We thoroughly entertained Fran’s daughters and husband with our silliness as we each corrected the others accent.  Though our accents have some similar qualities, Fran sounds more Eastern block European (more Russian), whereas my accent sounds more French mixed with Norwegian. Her husband said that we sound like we are from different parts of Europe, but European all the same. I think it was an encouragement to her family as well as we were able to lightheartedly share our stories. Her family was able to see another person with the same thing happening so that they could feel less alone in the peculiarity of it.

Below is the link to a video that her daughter Celia shot of us. Please be kind to us as this was totally impromptu shooting so I am not wearing any make up and am looking more unkempt than I would have liked. However, the spontaneity of the shoot makes it too good not to post.

Foreign Accent Syndrome Friends

Now, I really would like to hear what you think about this post so please leave a comment. Thanks.