March 31, 2003

Credit Cards and Randomness

I've never been in debt. Okay, that's not entirely true. Yes, I've been in the kind of debt where I had to make car payments, and I'm currently in the kind of debt that says I have to make house payments.

I've never been in credit card debt, however. Truth be told, I've never even owned a credit card. I don't trust them. I've been conditioned not to trust them thanks to many years of living with college roommates.

Most of my college roommates had this weird outlook on credit cards. Basically, they thought credit cards were magical pieces of plastic that just magically paid for things and that they were somehow immune from the the ensuing debt that came about due to excessive credit card spending.

I'll admit it: I was sort of jealous of my roommates and their magical credit cards. After all, they always seemed to have money and, if they didn't, they just whipped out their credit cards. Books? Put them on the credit card. Food? Put it on the credit card. Night out at a strip club? credit card.

And yet there I was writing checks and budgeting like a fool. I remember thinking that I was doing everything all wrong. I mean, there I would sit, meticulously lording over my finances, while my roommates went waltzing all over town swiping their credit cards with the careless glee of a six-year-old with a loaded pistol.

Then, one year, I was a roommate with a guy named Chad. Chad was actually a former high school classmate of mine. He was, and is, a tech-head. He's one of those guys who was born to know technology. Way back in elementary school, he taught me how to write simple programs for the Apple IIc, and he always just seemed to know everything about computers.

But he didn't know shit about personal finances. He whipped out any one of his many credit cards with the swiftness and ease of a Old West gunslinger. By the time we became roommates, he had already accrued over $10,000 in credit card debt.

I remember thinking what an incredibly large amount of money that seemed to be, especially when I factored in the understanding that he also received financial aid, and that he also worked. Granted, he worked at the local Brach's candy factory on the Gummi Bear line, which paid about as well as you might imagine, but it was still money, so I came to the conclusion that old Chad was a pretty carefree spender.

Well, one day, I popped into Chad's outrageously messy room where I noticed, tucked between two huge bags of pilfered defective Gummi Bears, a credit card notice that was slugged "Urgent!" and another that was slugged "Immediate Payment Required" and still another that read "We Break Fingers And Toes."

Then the calls started coming in, usually two or three a day. "Is Mr. Haugen available? We really need to speak with him." No, he's not here. "Are you sure you're not really Mr. Haugen?" Yes, I'm sure. "Well, when he comes in, have him call Mike at Discover immediately." *sound of shotgun cocking* Will do.

Chad was masterful when it came to avoiding creditors. He always seemed to leave the apartment just two or three minutes before a creditor called. It was like he had some sort of sixth sense. Which was all fine and dandy, except that I ended up being the intermediary between Chad and the creditors, so I got to absorb all the impatient anger and suspicion of basically every credit card company on the planet.

It was the day a creditor appeared, in person, at our doorstep that I realized Chad's debt situation was probably more dire than Chad cared to admit. There was a knock at the door, I answered, and a gentleman in a suit that looked both impressive and threatening stood before me. He asked to see a Mr. Chad Haugen, at which point I heard a little scuffling emanating from Chad's room as Chad scurried out the back entrance which, conveniently, was located at the far end of his bedroom.

We chatted together, the ominous creditor and me, for about an hour, waiting for Chad to get home, even though, of course, there was no way in holy hell Chad was going to make an appearance while that guy was in our apartment. I even had to produce my ID, so the creditor was satisfied that I wasn't, in fact, Chad Haugen.

After that, I believe, Chad ended up getting a loan from his parents, or somebody, so he could pay off his credit card debt at least enough to keep the creditors at bay. He eventually got a job working at IBM, which was a long-assed commute from Winona to Rochester, but paid a whole lot more than the Gummi Bear line.

As for me, Chad's experience with credit cards pretty much scared me away from plastic for good.

Ramdomized Randomness

Did anyone see my weekend? If you happen to find my weekend, please return it to me immediately.

I've travelled between Rochester and St. Paul so much over the past few months, they've changed the signs to read "Once again, welcome to St. Paul, Ryan." I guess I don't actually mind the drive that much, but it would be nice to see a change of scenery like, oh, I don't know, LEAVES, or something else green-like in appearance. Hell, I'd be okay with the occasional splotch of green vomit on the side of the road. It's spring. Let's see some green.

I saw Melissa's new apartment for the first time on Friday. It's pretty nice, but anything is an improvement over the dilapidated shack she used to live in. She now lives in a nice but weird collection of apartments that look like they were built in the early 70s, and, as with most apartment complexes, they have not been asthetically updated since they were built. We're talking electric blue carpet with electric green design swirls that look like something from a John Travolta disco movie. Thankfully, that carpet is only found in the hallways, not in the apartments themselves.

The apartment complex is divided into two buildings and, as luck would have it, one is inhabited primarily by younger folks my age, and the other is apparently a manor for older folks. By some strange mix up in the paperwork, or so I like to believe, Mel is housed in the old folks building. How old are these people? Well, to give you an idea, the caretaker, who lives in Mel's building, is 80 years old. And she's snoopier than Charlie Brown's dog Snoopy, which is pretty damned snoopy when you think about it. I put together a K-Mart wine rack on Friday night and, come Saturday, Ms. Snoopy was knocking at Mel's door complaining about all the pounding from the night before. For the record, I may have cussed and compained and bitched while I put together that maddening wine rack, but I did very little pounding. I think the pounding was just an excuse, because she kept trying to nuzzle her way into the apartment, but Mel stood firm in front of the door, preventing entry and keeping the caretaker from discovering the meth lab I was cooking up in the bathtub. Okay, there was no meth lab, but I was taking a bath, so that was not entirely untrue.

On Saturday night, I met Mel's sister and brother-in-law, and I was unimpressed by both. The brother-in-law is an ex-marine who decided to fully adopt and maintain an arrogant attitude that makes me look meek by comparison. We went to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner and drinks and they practically had to enlarge the door frame to make room for that guy's ego. Mel's sister, by comparison, is a submissive, soft-spoken waif who is a younger version of Mel's mother. It was a study in contrasting personalities that was more suited to candid camera than marriage. Also seated at the table was my friend, Marc, and Mel's other sister, the youngest, forgotten sibling who has all the people skills of a dead, dried out lady bug.

It's strange, really, because Mel is so totally different from her sisters. She's a take-charge, opinionated, fiery little vixen, while her sisters are everything but, especially the youngest, who is quick with a laugh but very, very rarely speaks unless she happens to be sitting in a bear trap and needs to voice her discomfort. Then again, I guess I really have no way of understanding how a family like theirs grows, what with a divorce and the father's homosexuality thrown into the mix, to say nothing of the ultra-religious mother who battled severe depression for most of the children's lives. Any one of those issues is tough to come to terms with alone, but combined we're talking years of consecutive therapy spanning into infinity. When we were visiting my brother and sister-in-law in Colorado, and I got sick of talking, I just steered Mel into a conversation about her family history and let her go on conversational auto-pilot. I never get sick of hearing about her atypical family, so I can only imagine what people must be thinking when they first hear about them.

Early Sunday morning, I drove Mel to her father's house so she could load up the last of her stored furniture. Her dad is probably one of the last men on the planet you would suspect of being gay. He's a swaggering, masculine force to reckon with, and he let fly more expletives while loading the pickup than most sailors emit in a lifetime. Then, just as I was on the verge of forgetting he was is even at all gay, he started talking about how his male lover was breaking up with him. Let's just say that Mel's family would not be a good subject for a Normal Rockwell painting.

Well, anyway, that was my weekend. How was yours'?

Posted by Ryan at 12:06 PM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2003

Casual Casualities All right, I

Casual Casualities

All right, I know I'm going to come across as a heartless warmongering baby killer here, but that's only because I'm a heartless warmongering baby killer. Well, not really, but you can pretend if you wish.

Listen, yes, this war is translating into civilian casualties. We knew going in that this would be the case. Mothers would die. Fathers would die. Children would die. Puppies and kittens would die. And, hopefully, Saddam Hussein would die in a spray of crimson and moustache. And, yes, the Iraqi leadership, lacking a military capable of winning a physical war with the U.S., is doing their best to win the propaganda war. That means we're going to be treated to pictures of dead civilians every day, compliments of Al Jazeera and any other media outlet that Iraq leaks photos to.

Of course, the anti-war protestors lap this stuff up like its candy, using it as background noise while staging their moronic "die ins" and whatever other grand theatrical show that gets them on television. They hold up these pictures as proof that the U.S. military, and its bombing raids, are tearing through the Iraqi citizenry with reckless abandon, and they yell and scream that precision bombing is a farce. Riiiiggght (insert Dr. Evil inflection). As soon as the U.S. decides to fire up their B-52s and conduct carpet bombing assaults on Baghdad, then come and talk to me. When we start gunning down civilians rather than bandaging their wounds, give me a call. When soldiers start playing games of keep-away with shipments of humanitarian aid, perhaps I'll raise an eyebrow. Then, and only then, will I re-consider my pro-war stance.

As an Iraqi ex pat recently pointed out, war kills civilians, but Saddam's regime kills civilians on a daily basis anyway. The irony in the anti-war stance here is that they can't, or won't, see that point. Apparently, if the U.S. accidentally kills Iraqi civilians, it's a tragedy and a crime of the highest order, but if Saddam and his cronies kill for the fun of it, well, that's not our problem.

We're up against an enemy that wears U.S. uniforms to attack our troops and visit misery, rape and torture on their own people so they can blame the U.S. An enemy that puts military targets in the middle of heavily populated areas knowing full well they're going to get bombed. An enemy that runs command and control operations from hospitals. An enemy that snaps pictures of dead civilians that they don't actually give a rat's ass about, but they know it makes good PR.

In WWII, London, Berlin and Tokyo were all bombed to atomized mist with no regard for the populations being decimated below. Now we're doing our best to put the population in high regard, and we're somehow the bad guy? Anti-war factions have no idea how restrained the U.S. military is in its use of force on Iraq.

I admit that the loss of civilians is unfortunate, but I'm certainly not going to dwell on it or lose sleep over it. We're at war.

Posted by Ryan at 02:41 PM | Comments (0)

Cruising Into The Weekend Where

Cruising Into The Weekend

Where the hell did this week go? It never fails; I come back from vacation and I'm confronted with a heap of work that takes two weeks to dig myself out of. Wasn't yesterday Monday? Who knows? The most disconcerting aspect of writing for this magazine is that our production schedule is months ahead, so I'm writing copy right now for June and July. In other words, when I come into work each day, I magically warp ahead to the middle of summer. Then, at the end of the day, I exit IBM and am immediately transported back to March. It fucks with the head, let me tell you.

I went out to the bar last night with my good friend, Marc, who is coming off a breakup with the most self-absorbed, icky woman I've ever had the displeasure of meeting. For the past year (or longer, I can't remember), Marc practically disappeared from sight, so wrapped up with that, excuse me, BITCH, that he didn't have time for friends or family. Marc asked me early on in the relationship what I thought of her, and I told him, in my "subtle as a chainsaw" way, that I would rather scour my eyes with a brillo pad than listen to her prattle on endlessly about herself. Marc didn't take my assessment too well, but I'll be damned if I'll ever allow a friend to get involved with a horror and not speak my mind on the issue.

Well, anyway, last night Marc actually asked me why I never mentioned how much I hated her. WhowhatwhenwhereWHA?! It just goes to show that love (or the illusion of it), can blind and deafen anyone to anything. I love Melissa, but it frightens me to think how much reality I may be missing because I unconsciously decide to "ignore" it.

But, my, I'm coming off as a sour Sally in this post, so I should lighten it up just a tad. So, some good news. Last night during my hapkido class, I was informed that, because we have Korean grand masters coming to our studio to instruct us in June, our testing schedule will be moved up so we can test with the grand masters. In other words, I'll be testing for my black belt a full five months ahead of schedule. Hot diggity damn! This makes me so happy I'm about to soil myself. *pause to soil myself*

I'm ever so close to being a black belt! After over ten years of assorted martial arts training, from aikido, to kuk sool won, to taekwondo, to hapkido, I'm finally, FINALLY, on the verge of a black belt. I have so many different colored belts scattered around my apartment, and at my parents' home, you'd think I was in charge of my own personal martial arts studio. Sweet, wonderful, black belt status. *grggllgglgllgll*

I'm heading to St. Paul after work tonight. Mel is moving into her new apartment and getting out of that attic apartment that looks like something straight out of The Amityville Horror. The sweet part is that all the moving is pretty much done. I don't have to lift a heavy bookcase, or a bed, or a marble bathtub, or The Statue of David. It's all been done already! Oh, sweet, sweet girlfriend. She DOES know what I want for Christmas! All that is expected of me is to do some clean-up of her old place so she can get her deposit back, and I get to put together her new bookcase, which I'm totally fine with.

So, on to the weekend!

Posted by Ryan at 11:52 AM | Comments (0)

March 27, 2003

Trying. . .Not. . .To.

Trying. . .Not. . .To. . .Think. . .Of. . .The. . .WAR

Obviously, this war is EVERYWHERE. You can't turn it off. Even if it's not in front of you in the form of television, print, Internet, or the person sitting near you at a bar yammering endlessly about the war while you try to concentrate simply on a tall frosty beer, it's in your head. Always. It's there.

Of course, it should be. We're witnessing one of those defining moments in history that deserves to be discussed and analyzed and reported on. But, still, it would be nice to have a non-war padded cell I could retreat to once in awhile, a place where I can think of innocent things like naked women and video games. That would be sweet.

As it is, I find it difficult to even concentrate on work. I keep clicking back to the Internet to see if there have been any major war developments. Have we taken Basra? Have we used a MOAB yet? Would an Iraqi woman date me? Why wouldn't she date me? Why are her standards so high? What about a one-night stand? Would she be up for that? Would she be willing to stroke my MOAB (mother of all boners) in Basra?

But even more than the 24/7 coverage and war tune playing in my head, I'm amazed at just how galvanized the camps have become for those in support of the war and those who oppose it. Some who oppose the war go so far as to say that American troops are simply "baby killers," as if the U.S. military's sole purpose on this planet is to bayonette all infants through the ears. Give me a break. But, on the other side, I occasionally hear someone in the pro-war camp talk about nuking Baghdad and any other pocket of resistance. That's disturbing. I mean, I totally support this war, and I think the U.S. military has so far shown remarkable restraint when it comes to carrying out this operation. But it bothers me when others in the pro-war camp seem to see this as a clean-up assault that should leave the entire country of Iraq a smoldering pile of turbans.

The other day my roommate, Amy, a hair stylist, related to me the opinion of one of her salon's patrons. This woman actually asked, "And what about all the oil we're supposed to get out of this deal? We should be killing them before they burn the oil wells." I didn't ask Amy what the woman drove, but I imagine it's the biggest SUV on the market, complete with a cup holder big enough to hold the quarts of Valvoline she drinks on the way to work.

It just goes to show that people on both sides just simply don't get it, and it burns my ears every time I hear an ignorant yelp from either side, and there's a lot of ignorant yelping going on, and it all just ends up in my head where I'm unable to shake it loose, and it all just bounces around my neurons resonating "Waaaaarrrrr" all the diddily ding dong damn day.

Posted by Ryan at 11:27 AM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2003

Chevy Forced To Defend Slogan

Chevy Forced To Defend Slogan
Automaker Insists It's "Like A Rock," Not "Like Iraq"

DETROIT, Mich. (Rhodes Media Services) -- Following a backlash of unexpected criticism in the marketplace, American automaker Chevrolet was forced to explain to an outraged American public that its treasured slogan is actually "Like A Rock," not "Like Iraq," an accusation leveled earlier in the month by rival automaker, Ford.

At a hastily convened press conference, Kurt Ritter, Chevrolet's marketing general manager, fielded questions from reporters representing media outlets from around the nation.

"I can assure you that this is all just a big misunderstanding," said Ritter. "We don't want our high quality vehicles to be associated in any way with Saddam Hussein or the ongoing war in Iraq. So, let me just underscore, right off the bat, that our slogan is 'Like. . .A. . .Rock."

Some journalists in the reporting pool remained skeptical. Reporter Jim Dwyer of the New York Times asked for further clarification.

"So, let's just be totally clear here," said Dwyer. "You're saying that your vehicles are, in fact, similar to granite boulders, and are not necessarily analogous to a war torn country under an oppressive dictatorial regime. Is that correct?"

Although Ritter took issue with comparing Chevrolet vehicles with granite boulders, he admitted that, essentially, Dwyer's clarification was correct.

Posted by Ryan at 12:03 PM | Comments (0)

March 25, 2003

Newsworthy Gadgets I like gadgets.

Newsworthy Gadgets

I like gadgets. Gadgets are fun. Just looking around my desk right now I see a pen with a miniature massager on one end, a tiny MP3 player that provides music when I run, and a calculator which I use for calculating things.

A cellular phone is one gadget I do not own, and I will resist owning one until that Verizon guy tackles me, forces a phone into my ear, and asks "can you hear me now." Then, and only then, will I surrender to the world of the cellular phone. Why do I distrust cellular phones so much? Because they kill people, specifically Kenyans.

According to a March 14 Reuters news report out of Nairobi, Kenya, three Kenyans died trying to retrieve a mobile phone that slipped down an open-pit latrine while its owner answered a call of nature.

Now, I'm just guessing here, but if I were to own a cellular phone, and it fell into a latrine, I'd more than likely just give it up for lost. There are certain things I won't do, and talking into a phone that I know was once laying at the bottom of a latrine is top among them.

Anxious to recover her phone, the owner in the coastal town of Mombasa offered 1,000 shillings ($13.09) to anyone who would recover it. Well over half the Kenyan population of 30 million people lives on less than $1 a day.

Okay, everything has been set up here. We have a cellular phone at the bottom of a latrine, and we have 15 million Kenyans who view 1,000 shillings as a small fortune. Let the Mayhem ensue!

The first to try -- a 30-year-old radio technician -- failed to resurface after disappearing down a ladder into the latrine. His friend went after him but slipped and fell. The third casualty, trying to rescue the others, was hauled out of the pit by neighbors after he inhaled the fumes and lost consciousness. The man was rushed to a hospital but died on the way.

All of this is pretty incredible by itself, but what's even more incredible is that a fourth man, also wishing to retrieve the phone, had to be restrained by police before the search for the phone was finally abandoned. Therefore, I am steadfast in my resolve to resist buying a cellular phone. If for no other reason, I do so for the Kenyans.

But human to human interaction gadgets are old news. When it comes to human conversation, we pretty much have things covered. What we need is a good gadget for communicating with dogs. And, as luck would have it, such a gadget actually exists.

According to a March 22 Reuters news report out of Atlanta, Ga., a Japanese toy maker claims to have developed a gadget that translates dog barks into human language and plans to begin selling the product -- under the name Bowlingual -- in U.S. pet stores, gift shops and retail outlets this summer.

I don't know about you, but whenever I encounter a dog barking ferociously at me from behind a fence, I don't necessarily want to know what that dog is saying to me. I'm pretty sure that most dogs, when they bark, are actually firing our some pretty awful insults.

AVERAGE DOG: Bark, bark, woof, bark, barkity bark bark, woofity bark barkity bark!

TRANSLATION: Hey you! Yeah, you, you bipedal, clothes wearing freak! Come over here! I dare you! You see these teeth?! Yeah, you see them?! These teeth want a piece of your leg! No, they want your WHOLE leg! Bring it on, human boy! Rover's in da house!

Bowlingual consists of a 3-inch long wireless microphone that attaches to a dog collar and transmits sounds to a palm-sized console that is linked to a database. The console classifies each woof, yip or whine into six emotional categories -- happiness, sadness, frustration, anger, assertion and desire -- and displays common phrases, such as 'You're ticking me off,' that fit the dog's emotional state.

Imagine, if you will: you're walking down a street at night, when suddenly a large dog comes out of nowhere and starts running directly at you. Mixed in with the dog's menacing barks and growls, you hear a computerized voice stating "you're ticking me off" over and over and over again. That would scare the bejeezers out of me.

Other linguistic gems programmed into Bowlingual include "I've had enough" and "I'm a little bored, let's play." The product is reportedly going to be enhanced later on so that, and I swear this is true, owners can get e-mails from their dogs. What would a dog have to say via e-mail?

DOG E-MAIL: Dear Master. This is just Rex checking in to say "hey." I don't have much to tell you right now, except that I accidently pushed your cellular phone into a latrine. I wouldn't go get it if I were you. Send a Kenyan instead.

And get Jennifer Garner naked. And get Jennifer Garner nude. And get Jennifer Garner naked. And get Jennifer Garner naked. Jennifer Garner in a bikini. Jennifer Garner is hot. Jennifer Garner nipple slip. Jennifer Garner.

Posted by Ryan at 01:19 PM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2003

White House Grappling With Increased

White House Grappling With Increased Shame
Oscar Night Fallout Prompts West Wing Head Hanging

WASHINGTON D.C. (Rhodes Media Services) -- Although it was a typically busy day for employees of the West Wing of the White House, hearts were heavy and heads hung low with shame following Michael Moore's Oscar night comments.

Moore, a college dropout turned independent film director, won an Oscar for his film "Bowling For Columbine." As part of his acceptance speech, he forcefully pointed his finger and called shame down on President George W. Bush.

"We are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush. Shame on you," Moore shouted.

There was no comment from the White House as to whether the President felt a darkened cloud of shame enshroud him at the time of Moore's comments, but West Wing workers have taken it upon themselves to feel an appropriate amount of shame so that the administration can focus on more important things, such as the war in Iraq.

"Nothing burns worse than when someone says 'shame on you'" said Nicole Johnson, a morose-looking West Wing intern. "It's tough to deal with shame of this magnitude. Michael Moore is a big fat guy, so when he deals out the shame, there's a lot to go around. We're doing our part to ensure that Moore's shame bombardment doesn't reach the President. And, if it does reach him, it will be a diluted shame, kind of like the shame a dog feels after pooping on the carpet."

Posted by Ryan at 04:10 PM | Comments (0)

Media Mayhem Attention: Rant Ahead

Media Mayhem
Attention: Rant Ahead

I'm a journalist. I went to school for journalism and earned my degree in mass communication/journalism, and I've been working in a variety of print mediums, from newspapers, to books, to magazines, for the past six years. Six years doesn't make me an expert on anything, and I don't profess to be an authority on anything except bowel movements, but I can tell you, as a journalist, I think the quality of mass media war reporting is horrible.

It doesn't matter what side you're on--whether you're for or against this war. Coverage on either side is so biased it would be laugh-out-loud funny if it weren't such a serious issue. In my mass communications classes, professors admitted that it was difficult not to become involved with the articles we write, but they all said that we should try our best to keep our opinions out of genuine news pieces. If it's an editorial, fine, go ahead and opinionate until you're gasping for breath, but if you're writing news, keep a cap on the bias. Somewhere along the line, however, this golden rule of journalism got tossed to the curb like a pee-stained couch.

For example, since when is it the reporter's duty to interject haughty adjectives into pure news pieces? What gives reporter Preston Mendenhall the right to categorize Iraqi resistance as "vigorous?" As opposed to what? Casual resistance? Just say "resistance." I think readers can connect the dots from there.

Fox News isn't any better. Granted, Fox News couldn't be any more biased even if all their anchors were Republicans hand picked by W Bush himself, but their reporting is often so transparent they come across with about as much subtlety as the Creel Committee World War I propaganda machine. When the Iraq war first started, I heard a Fox News anchor announce that "America has yet to release its mighty might" and I damn near shot Diet Pepsi out my nose. "Mighty might?" I kept imagining a cape-wearing mouse singing "Heeere I come to save the daaaaayy!" That's not reporting; that's cheerleading.

While flying back from Colorado on Saturday night, I was perusing the latest issue of Newsweek. Their cover story, written by Fareed Zakaria, had the headline "Arrogant Empire." Jeez! Let's not even touch the whole "arrogant" issue. I could expound on that until my fingers fall off on the keyboard. What gets me is the whole "empire" thing, as if the United States is spreading out across the world and planting its flag in the butt crack of every world leader. If we were truly seeking and maintaining an empire, the Middle East would consist of the United States Arab Emirates, the American Protectorate of Libya, the Territory of Qatar, and Afghanistan would be our 51st state. Empire my ass (hey, that's three posterior references in five paragraphs. Impressive).

Now I am by no means innocent of the sin of journalistic bias. In the year and a half I've written for IBM eServer Magazine, I've sacrificed my non-biased integrity more times than I can count, mainly because we're beholden to the "almighty might" of the the IBM legal department, which pretty much dictates what the word "is" is. But this is a niche publication, and people don't necessarily rely upon it for informed political and world discussion (and if they do rely on it, they have problems). I expect more, much more, from the journalists and reporters who bring me international news. Hell, Salam Pax does a better job of reporting from Iraq than most professional reporters do, and he's an Iraqi living in Baghdad. Consider:

>From Salam Pax: half an hour ago the oil filled trenches were put on fire. First watching Al-jazeera they said that these were the places that got hit by bombs from an air raid a few miniutes earlier bit when I went up to the roof to take a look I saw that there were too many of them, we heard only three explosions. I took pictures of the nearest. My cousine came and told me he saw police cars standing by one and setting it on fire. Now you can see the columns of smoke all over the city.
Todat the third in the war, we had quite a number of attacks during daytime. Some without air-raid sirens. They probably just gave up on being able to be on time to sound the sirens. Last night, after waves after waves of attacks, they would sound the all-clear siren only to start another raid siren 30 minutes later.

Aside from the occasional word spelled incorrectly, that's a pretty unbiased excerpt. It tells you what the situation is in a concise fashion. Now consider:

>From reporter Nate Thayer: Today, for the first time, the bombs fell and the missiles struck in daylight. The assault lasted all day. And it came not only from long-range missiles but from coalition planes that are flying over our heads and dropping their payloads in the neighborhood of the Palestine Hotel, where most of the foreign journalists remaining in Baghdad are staying. Today is also the first time that I am truly frightened. It is not the American bombs I am primarily afraid of. What frightens me and Mary - the name I'll give a photographer with whom I've become inseparable - is the mood of the people. The city is thick with anger and defiance, and we are Americans.

So, what I'm gathering is that Nate is a pretty scared little puppy, and he'd appreciate if the U.S. would stop bombing so close to his hotel. Awwwwww. Really, what did Nate expect? He should stop whining and do his job, and maybe take some tips from Salam Pax.

And at what point did the nation's media get together and decree that this war should be wrapped up in a week? Granted, we have a pretty spectacular military, but it's not immune to unknowns of war. Yes, American soldiers have died, perhaps 50, perhaps fewer. That does not constitute some horrific failure. It constitutes war. Coalition forces have rumbled to Baghdad's door in less than a week, and the media outlets of the world are asking what the hold-up is? Jeez. Even when my family drove to Montana when I was a child, we had to stop twice over night, and no one was even shooting at us, and we didn't have to maintain supply lines or anything. To the mass media agencies of the world, can I just offer up this tidbit of advice: please don't play up every death or setback as a major defeat for the U.S. military. Shit happens in war. There's your headline. When you look at the big picture, Iraq is about to fall.

Then the U.S. can add the Protectorate of Iraq to our arrogant empire.


Posted by Ryan at 01:52 PM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2003

My Middle East Madness Menu

My Middle East Madness Menu c. Ryan Rhodes, Oct. 17, 2001
An Old Post That Seems Appropriate Once Again

After a long day of avoiding a U.S. led airstrike over your war torn country, hunger is no doubt the first thing on your mind. You desire something fast and inexpensive, something that the whole family can enjoy. So, come to Osama's Fast Food Emporium, your Mecca for affordable family cuisine.

At Osama's, you'll be treated to a virtually bomb free atmosphere, and you're encouraged to enjoy Allah you can eat. And, Osama's extensive menu guarantees a pleasant and different dining experience every time you visit.

"Osama's has declared a holy war on hunger," said a satisfied customer. "When I first heard of a franchise in the area, I didn't walk, Iran."

Yasser, you betcha, this is no joke, this Israel. With Osama's restaurants springing up throughout the Middle East, you're probably just a camel ride away from a hearty Osama's meal. So, make a pilgrimage to your nearest Osama's today. Remember, a rolling stone gathers no mosque.

So, what culinary delights can you find at Osama's? You're encouraged, of course, to start off with a nice garden or caesar Saladdin before moving on to the main course. How about a nine piece order of Taliban Tenders. These tender white Gaza strips of chicken breast, rolled in Osama's secret blend of herbs and spices, are sure to satisfy even the most hardlined fundamentalist. Or, enjoy a rosemary and Yemen chicken breast (with a slight sprinkle of Sultan pepper), a sure hit with your wives.

Feeling a little Mexican? Then order our delicious chicken El Queda Quesadillas.

But wait, you aren't limited to chicken at Osama's. You can also enjoy a vast assortment of mutton dishes. In fact, at Osama's, our specialty Islam.

Osama's also provides several side orders, including, for a limited time, ripened ears of Koran on the Kaaba.

"Oman, that Koran on the Kaaba was excellent," said another appreciative diner. "I almost feel bad that I ate four ears. I sincerely apologize."

No need to say you're Saudi at Osama's. At our affordable prices, we understand when you eat more than your share.

Of course, Osama's didn't forget the early risers. For the breakfast crowd, Osama's provides small and large stacks of Pakistani Pancakes smothered in bin Ladenberry syrup. Other breakfast items include Hezbollah Hash Browns, Baghdad Bacon, Syrian Sausage, and Beirut Bagels.

Wash down your Osama's meal with any of our beverages, including juices, sodas, and our famous Shiite Shakes. All refills only cost a Qatar.

So, you've finished your Osama's meal, and you still have room for more? Perhaps something on the sweet side? Not to worry; Osama's also provides a number of delicious desert desserts, including our Sahara Sundaes and Empty Quarter Eclairs.

Like most families, you probably have some unruly children who are hungry but difficult to satisfy. No problem. Simply load up your little terrors and bring them to Osama's, where they can enjoy our low priced Angry Meals. Upon hearing that they're headed to Osama's, your children will no doubt start yelling and shieking with glee. You may have to Muslim.

Yes, Osama's has lifted the veil on affordable family cuisine. See for yourself. Come to Osama's Fast Food Emporium today!

Posted by Ryan at 08:47 PM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2003

War Protestors, My Dears, How

War Protestors, My Dears, How Are You? Uh, Huh. Uh, Huh. Uh, Huh. Listen, Shut Up For a Second

Do you want to know why the war protest movement failed so miserably? Let me tell you why. It failed because it consistently succeeded in making a complete and total ass of itself.

Hey, I'm all for freedom of speech, and the right to protest, and the right of the American people to peacefully assemble. And, really, had the anti-war people been able to articulate a better position beyond "give peace a chance" without all the theatrical nonsense, they may have been able to attain some semblance of credibility.

First and foremost, the peace movement was hobbled due to a simple lack of focus, and, more specifically, alternatives. Fine, they wanted peace, but they could never articulate a viable alternative. They would acquiesce that, yes, Saddam Hussein is (was) a murderous oppressive dictator, but their response was, more or less, to allow him to stay in power just to preserve peace. That's like acknowledging a cancerous lesion but refusing to see a doctor for fear of what you might find out. The only other "option" was to allow inspections to continue (again, like 12 years wasn't enough), but even Hans Blix admits that coalition forces will probably get better results finding the goods.

Second, the very fact that war protestors were willing to align themselves with such unsavory elements as International A.N.S.W.E.R., a group whose core socialistic foundation is built around undermining all things Democratic and capitalistic, exposed them as the unwary sheep they were. Perhaps if they had been able to organize on their own, and perhaps if A.N.S.W.E.R.'s role hadn't been discovered, the peace movement would have gained a little more footing. As it was, they were willing to lie down with dogs, and stand up with fleas.

Finally, it was the theater that ultimately doomed the peace movement. I mean, come on. . .human shields?! I mean, come on. . .The Lysistrata Project!? These were the types of moronic exercises that made average, rational, common sense people roll their eyes and wonder if peace activist ranks were filled with rejects from the collective DNA pool. If your cherished peace movement routinely becomes the butt of jokes on every late night talk show from Leno to The Daily Show With John Stewart, chances are you're doing something wrong.

Other, unintended, acts of protest "theater" included the desecration of 9/11 memorials and random acts of violence that totally flew in the face of their "peaceful" agendas. It's hard to gain credibility when a peace movement turns into a looting frenzy. Their hypocrisy knew no bounds (said in best Val Kilmer Tombstone voice).

We stand now on uncertain footing, with the promise of a drastically different world theater. The status quo of Middle Eastern politics is being thrown out the door and a new chapter is about to be written. It's going to occur fast, and at the barrel of a gun, and it's going to be scary, and it's going to be "interesting."

And it's about time.

UPDATE: Okay, at least SOME human shields figured things out on their own. (found via Instapundit)

A group of American anti-war demonstrators who came to Iraq with Japanese human shield volunteers made it across the border today with 14 hours of uncensored video, all shot without Iraqi government minders present. Kenneth Joseph, a young American pastor with the Assyrian Church of the East, told UPI the trip "had shocked me back to reality." Some of the Iraqis he interviewed on camera "told me they would commit suicide if American bombing didn't start. They were willing to see their homes demolished to gain their freedom from Saddam's bloody tyranny. They convinced me that Saddam was a monster the likes of which the world had not seen since Stalin and Hitler. He and his sons are sick sadists. Their tales of slow torture and killing made me ill, such as people put in a huge shredder for plastic products, feet first so they could hear their screams as bodies got chewed up from foot to head."

Posted by Ryan at 09:28 AM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2003

Buried in War And Seven

Buried in War And Seven Feet Of Snow

I'm still in Colorado, because Colorado up and decided to experience its worst snowfall since the solar system was created (according to meteorologists). I'm not kidding when I say I have never seen so much freaking snow. Up here in the mountains, seven feet of the fluffy crystallized water fell in two days. It just kept falling, and falling, and falling.

Melissa and I went skiing in about three feet of fresh powder, an exercise in leg exhaustion not soon to be equalled. People everywhere were just laying down in the snow, too pooped to even try standing up, and snowboarders were poking hopelessly into the snow after their boards came off and probably won't be found again until June sometime.

Denver International Airport was shut down yesterday and the day before, so my flight was cancelled. Not that it would matter anyway, because the two mountain passes back down to Denver are both closed today and are being shelled to trigger avalanches. I would LOVE to watch them trigger avalanches, but it is not to be, because I'm too far away and lack transportation anyway. I finally was able to book a flight for Satuday at 7:25 (the last flight out with two vacant seats for the entire weekend). So, Melissa and I are holed up in my brother's apartment while he and his wife are at work. We pass the time mostly by watching TV, with sex thrown into the mix to vary things up a bit. However, the condom supply is dwindling, so drastic measures may have to be taken to get into town and remedy that situation.

Oh, and there's a war on. Even though it was an anticlimatic segue into the conflict, what with the 48 hour ultimatum and such. The news organizations are, of course, slathering over every detail they can glean, which is par for the course for mass media outlets determined to outdo the other. I found it curious to watch the live feed from Baghdad following the first bombing. Cars and buses just casually going about their day, with the street light flicking from red to green in a predictable, timely fashion. Not the scene of chaos many might expect during war. Even the blog of Salam Pax seems to indicate that this is a war meant to terrorize and decapitate Iraqi leadership more than it is an attempt to terrorize the Iraqi people. I would expound further on this, but I'm on a computer that is not mine, and I'll be able to explore it further once I'm back home.

As an interesting aside, there's almost a dead tie between those people visiting this site looking for "exposed+thongs" and those looking for "salam pax." Strangely, there was one hit from someone looking for "salam+pax+thong+picture." Ooh, Salam, you do look ravishing in that little thong number there. Ooh la la.

Posted by Ryan at 01:34 PM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2003

Nothing Shits Bigger Than Subway

Nothing Shits Bigger Than Subway

I don't know what it is about Subway sandwiches, but man, you can count on one behemoth of a dooger the next day, or at least I can. I planted myself on the can and I thought for a moment that I may have, in fact, been losing my intestines. That Jared guy must spend the better part of his life sitting on the crapper.

Posted by Ryan at 04:39 PM | Comments (0)

A Little More From the

A Little More From the blogging Iraqi

I have a feeling that I'll be visiting the blog of Salam Pax fairly regularly. Whether you support the impending war or not, you have to recognize the human equation, and Salam Pax, I believe, is representative of the Iraqi human equation. This little bit, lifted from his comment section, got me to thinking (emphasis mine):

If you ask the people most of them just want to live thru this, no one wants to fight. but don't expect white flags, it will be more locked doors and peeping from holes to see who is walking in the street. everybody is cracking jokes about hiding american flags and drawing little flags with crayons just in case. NO ONE WANTS TO FIGHT, there is no "cause" why die? for whom? really everybody is just concerned with how to stay alive thru the comming madness.

the fedayeen? can't tell, i don't know anyone who is. again i can't see the motivation for them to die for anyone. they know they are going to be canon fodder.
if anyone had answers to all these questions it would be less frightning, you don't know what you should be afraid of.

If there is one single thing the UN should be proud of concerning the whole mess it has created in Iraq (smart sanctions? haha) it is the food distribution network that is supervised by the UN. the coupon cards and how they are checked and distributed is so efficient and well organized the Iraqi governmnent depends on it for proof of where you live and other info. the iraqi governmnet just had to keep a good system running after it was established and they only kept it running because it was an excellent way to keep everything in check. control is the word, and they love it.

there is no rational explanation why we are not leaving baghdad. this is our home and we are NOT going to spend the next 3 months in a tent somewhere or be dragged in or out of "fronts". i can tell you a million reason none of them will make any sense or explain why, but we are staying. leaving the country wasn't even discussed, we did have long talks about going to Karbala or to my father's relatives but after the first gulf war they didn't do much better than the people in baghdad. and staying together as a family (aunts,uncles,friends) was in the end more important, we will need each other.

It's amazing, really. Just 12 years ago, such an intimate glimpse into the world of an average Iraqi would have been almost impossible to imagine. Now, the world can just click a link and see how Pax is doing, and even leave a comment on his blog, and join in discussion. amazing. Simply amazing.

War is hell. Let us hope for a speedy and relatively bloodless one. And let's hope Pax makes it through.

Let's hope.

Posted by Ryan at 01:46 PM | Comments (0)

And Now, I'm Off To

And Now, I'm Off To Colorado

Yet another journey on an airplane awaits me tomorrow, this time bound for Colorado. But, because this time it's purely for vacation, not work, I'm looking forward to it immensely. Melissa will be travelling with me too, so her company, and all the sex we will have, ensures that this will be a stellar vacation. Mmmmmm, sweet wonderful vacation sex. *Grgglglglglg*

The downside, of course, is that I won't be able to blog very often, if at all. I'm not kidding when I say I actually go through blog updating withdrawal, complete with DTs and hallucinations about leprechauns. I don't typically blog on weekends, because I'm usually off having a life outside of cyberspace, and blog traffic plummets on weekends anyway, so that won't be a problem. But, the whole Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday absence will really test me. I'll just have to concentrate on vacation sex I guess.

So, I'll be skiing, and drinking beer, and picking on my brother and sister-in-law, and gauging how the sibling side of my family regards the introduction to Melissa. She's won over all the family and friends she's met so far, and I'm pretty sure my brother will be putty in her hands, and to my sister-in-law Melissa will seem like her long-lost sister.

At any rate, I apologize in advance for the lack of blogging you'll be seeing, or not seeing, or whatever, over the coming days. I may have one post left in me today, but we'll see how work goes first, of which I have a ton (I actually weighed it).

Posted by Ryan at 11:49 AM | Comments (0)

A Silent Voice Shrieking From

A Silent Voice Shrieking From An Abyss

I have an audience for this blog, I'll admit it. I regard this with a certain amount of "ehh", because for every individual visiting this site for something compelling, there are about, oh, 7,000, looking for "exposed thongs." I kid you not. There is a serious exposed thong fetish sweeping the nation. I'm pretty sure Colin Powell, and of course Bill Clinton, have visited my site searching for exposed thongs.

I get more readers each week, probably, from my weekly newspaper column, which, to date, runs exactly in two rural Minnesota newspapers. As you may guess, I am considerably more open and, um, vulgar, in my blog than I am in my column. But, let me assure you, that's only because the newspapers pay me.

I'm not sure why I started blogging, except that Jen, my former officemate, talked about it like it was some sort of literary masturbation. Since I'm all about masturbation, I couldn't wait to try this blogging thing. For the record, let me just again register my disgust about Jen silencing her blog. That pisses me off to no end. She gave birth to this blog, my blog, me, this silent scream into the World Wide Web. Jen, get back online, now, lest I take your umbrella noir ass and. . . and. . . I don't know, but it will be unpleasant.

Seriously though, this blogging thing has proven to be amazing. I can't tell you how many column ideas I've just copied and pasted from this blog, just from a random brain dump that was bothering me, or amusing me, or making me itch my crotch.

I tried a personal journal once, you know, the pen and paper variety, but writing to myself was about as fulfilling as French (er, Freedom) Kissing a pillow. I mean, I know how I fucking feel. The real test of me was finding out how others gauge me. And, I found out, I don't really give a flip how people gauge me. It was an awesome epiphany to realize that, oh, there are people who disagree with me, probably to the point of jamming a knife in my left eye, preferably missing sensitive sight-related nerves so it can be repaired. blogging gives a voice to all; the war proponents, the war opponents, and those odd people who oppose violence yet attack, physically, those who do. Odd, that.

This is the blog world. May it live forever, or at least until I get recogized and can spout meaningless shit, like that Ted Rall guy. Geez, is he a dick or what?

Anyway, I'm not sure why this post came up, except that a weird commenter, of French nationality, pissed me off once, or twice, and I'm waiting on the day when I'm bigger than he or she can imagine, so I can rip on them. I figure I have about a few years. Then, watch out Frenchie.

Posted by Ryan at 12:05 AM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2003

U.N. Considers Resolution To Unite

U.N. Considers Resolution To Unite Elizabeth Smart With Parents
France, Germany, China, All Threaten Veto

NEW YORK (Rhodes Media Services) -- The United Nations found itself deadlocked yet again today, with member nations unable to see eye to eye regarding a proposed resolution to reunite kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart with her parents.

Although such a case was believed to be well outside of U.N. jurisdiction, the world body felt compelled to introduce the resolution after finding that it didn't make the front page of every major U.S. media outlet.

The resolution, submitted by the Belgian minister to the U.N., reads in part: "Forthwith and notwithstanding, as per the understanding of the world community, and with full support of the world theater, this body resolves to reunite Elizabeth Smart with her mother and father. The reunification process will be monitored by an as-yet-to-be named team of reunification experts which will be headed by the country of Uzbekistan."

Opposition to the resolution was swift, with France, Germany and China all threatening to veto the measure.

"We can't have the United States working unilaterally on this issue," said French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin. "If it were up to the U.S., they'd just unite the family without a second thought. We firmly believe that family unification should always be a last resort, and that Sandra Bullock has really pretty hair!"

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Bill Richardson, was troubled and confused by the actions of the U.N.

"What the hell did Villepin just say?" asked Richardson. "Who are these people? What the hell is going on in this crazy shithouse? I need a drink."

Posted by Ryan at 01:50 PM | Comments (0)

An Iraqi Blog Worth Reading

An Iraqi Blog Worth Reading

Want a perspective of the impending war from an actual Iraqi? Then I suggest you go here. Thanks to The Daily Bleat for steering me there.

I'll let you decide the person's viewpoints, but they sure don't like the human shield joke. An excerpt:

Human Shields Bashing #124

"Basically, they said we are not going to feed you any longer," said John Ross, an American who has been active in radical causes since he tore up his draft card in 1964.
Excuse while I wipe the tears from my eyes. Outoutout. He could have at least say something more in line with his "radical cause". This is a bit insulting actually for some reason I feel offended. FEED YOU? Why does the Iraqi government have to friggin' feed you, you have volunteered to "help" in country which can't feed its own population properly (well it could if it spent a bit less on itself and on people like you). There is another good bit:

The activists accused the Iraqi authorities of trying to use them as pawns in the war with America.

oh, shockhorror, what a surprise. Back to where you came from. Don't wait for thank you speeches, outoutout.

The bitter flight from Iraq follows a showdown with the Iraqi authorities who demanded that they decamp from their hotels in central Baghdad and take up their self-assigned roles as civilian protectors.

No no, just stay in your hotels, buy souvenirs and make fun of the backward ways of these Iraqis, hope you sent all your friends postcards telling them about the pita and tahini you have been eating while strolling around Baghdad, you tourists. Did you take enough pictures of children begging in the streets to show your friends back home how much you care about the plight of the poor in the third world. Bet they were all shaking hands and promising to see each other at the next "worthy cause" party.

An Iraqi Rambling Rhodes? Perhaps.

Posted by Ryan at 12:03 PM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2003

A Not-So-Great Conversation After a

A Not-So-Great Conversation

After a long three days of shmoozing with technology vendors, all hawking their latest products, my body and mind simply wanted to shut down. My curiosity about Indianapolis had run its course. I wanted to be home, sipping a beer, reading Time Magazine. And, most of all, I wanted to trim down my freaking goatee, which had long since hit the prickly length that made my mouth feel as if it was encircled by a stubborn layer of Oreo crumbs.

For awhile, I thought I was going to enjoy a flight without anyone sitting next to me. I was envisioning sprawling out on two seats, sleeping heavily. Then, she arrived.

She was, perhaps, 50-years old. An unremarkable woman with short blonde hair, and a decent body that she wanted to show off by wearing brown leather pants. I wouldn't have noticed her at all, except she cracked the bridge of her nose on her carry-on luggage when she went to stow it in the overhead compartment. Stuff like that amuses me. She sat down next to me and asked, in a slight southern drawl, whether her nose was bleeding. It was red, but it wasn't bleeding. She seemed neither upset nor relieved about that. I dismissed her entirely and folded my jacket underneath my head and fell asleep against the window almost immediately.

About a half hour later, I awoke. I awoke because the blonde woman was talking. And talking. And talking. And talking. She was talking to the woman across the aisle, and it was obvious to me that the poor recipient of the conversation did not want to be the recipient of the conversation. I wasn't sure what they were talking about, but what I gathered seemed trivial. I tried to go back to sleep, but, just as I slid my head back down, the woman grabbed my thigh, an act that practically jolted me through the seat in front of me.

"Oh, I'm sorry" she said. "I just wanted to ask you if it would bother you if I turned on my reading light."

First off, who asks a question like that? It's her reading light. It's her seat. Why would I honestly care if she turned on her reading light. The question, of course, was just a pretext. She wanted a person to talk to, and she had exhausted her previous target, so I was next.

"Are you from Minnesota? I used to be from Minnesota, but I'm not any more. I live in Indy, but I spent 30 years living in Missouri. I'm just going to Minnesota to see my grandson. He's turning two in two days. His mother, my daughter, she's 28. Actually, I have two other daughters. One's 23 and the other is 20. Well, I have to sons, too, twins actually. They're both 25."

None of this I asked for. I didn't prod her for information about her family. I really didn't want to know any more about her beyond the fact that she cracked her nose with her carry-on while stowing it in the overhead compartment. Now, I understand that there are people in the world who are obsessive chatterers, and I usually have a way of dealing with them, usually by feigning the need to go to the bathroom, or pawning them off on some unsuspecting soul. But, on an airplane, I'm stuck. She was right there, right next to me. Even if I went to the bathroom, she'd still be there when I got back. I was stuck. I tried to be polite.

"Wow, that's a big family," I offered, hoping that would somehow end her soliloquy. Nope.

"My husband, well, soon-to-be ex-husband, he keeps in touch with them when he can, but he's pretty worthless. I was gonna drive up to Minnesota, but I have such a heavy foot, I would have eight speeding tickets before I even get out of the state. I don't understand cops pulling over speeders anyway. They're always speeding, so why the hell should they care if I'm going 90? I just don't get it. I also don't get the whole racial profiling thing. It's not about this. . . *pulls up shirt sleeve and points at skin*. . .skin color has nothing to do with anything. They need to find a way to racially profile a person's heart."

You can about imagine how I wanted to react to that little bit of. . . whatever you want to call that. Yes, the next great breakthrough in law enforcement: Heart Profiling. By this time, I think, my ears were bleeding. She kept talking, and talking, and talking. I wanted so desperately to be back asleep against the window. Why had she been so silent for about half an hour before becoming Mrs. Chatterworth? The answer:

"I was in the bathroom when they came by with the drink cart. I almost missed it. They came back and asked me if I wanted anything, and I said, 'you better believe it.' I asked for two vodkas and a Pepsi. Those drinks cost $4 each, but they're worth every penny. Flying makes me nervous. I need to relax. My boyfriend, well, former boyfriend I guess, he wouldn't fly for anything. Hated flying. He wasn't afraid to fly, but he didn't like taking chances with all the people who fly. You never know who's gonna get on an airplane."

"And sometimes the weird ones sit right next to you," I finally said, pitching an easy one across the plate for her to take a swing at, but she missed.

"Exactly. There's some pretty wacko people out there in the world, and it's scary to think they could be sitting right next to you. I tell my children all the time, even at their ages, to watch out for strangers. This is a tough world we live in, and you don't know what's coming around the corner. Like my upcoming divorce. Who sees that kind of thing coming? You try to build a life, and suddenly, bam, everything goes haywire. It's like this economy. My boyfriend, well, former boyfriend I guess, got laid off last month. Never even saw it coming. He kind of deserved it though."

By this time, I was desperately hoping for a distraction. Even a box-cutter wielding madman yelling "Allahu Akbar" would have sufficed. I would have been first in line to tackle him, and I would have silently thanked him as we grappled.

ME: Dude, I can't tell you how happy I am that you tried to hi-jack this plane. After we beat you senseless and tie you up, I'm going to take your seat, and you can sit next to the chatterbox from hell.

HIJACKER: That's cruel and inhumane! I'd rather be sent to the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

ME: Tough shit, my man. Wait until she starts telling you about her soon-to-be ex-husband, and her former boyfriend, and her litter of unfortunate children.

HIJACKER: Allah! Allah! Why have you forsaken me Allah?!!

Well, I won't further bore you with the droning details of her one-sided conversation, except to say she kept at it until we walking through the terminal, and I made a dash for the bathroom, even though I didn't actually have to go. So desperate was I to get away from her, and ensure she wasn't waiting for me, I sat in a stall, reading a Discover Magazine, for 10 minutes. I didn't go to the bathroom or anything. I just sat there, reading and silently praying that she would be gone.

And when I emerged, she was gone. Thank you God.

Posted by Ryan at 03:14 PM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2003

Blix Defends Iraqi Drone Omission

Blix Defends Iraqi Drone Omission
Chief U.N. Inspector Says "You Didn't Ask"

NEW YORK (Rhodes Media Services) -- Chief U.N. Weapons inspector Hans Blix, under pressure after failing to mention the presence of illegal Iraqi unmanned drones, brushed aside criticism by explaining to the U.N. Security Council that it had never asked him about drones.

"Listen," said Blix. "I'm supposed to tell you about all the weapons of mass destruction that I find in Iraq. You never told me to go into detail about every other piece of banned technology Iraq is developing. I'm looking for nukes, and chemical and biological weapons, and that's pretty difficult all by itself without magically discerning that you also want me to report about drones. I mean, if you had simply asked me to tell you about the drones, I would have. Honest."

The drones, which are clearly a violation of U.N. demands on Iraq to halt weapon development, are capable of delivering chemical and biological weapons over far greater distances than even Iraq's banned Al Samoud missiles that are reportedly being destroyed. The U.S. has thus far dismissed claims by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein that the drones are just part of his ambitious model airplane hobby.

"Work with me people," added Blix, scolding the U.N. Security Council. "Help me, help you. Help me. . .help you! If you want me to tell you about drones, you have to ask. And if you want me to tell you about Iraq's stockpile of ebola virus that I found a couple of months ago, you're going to have to ask about that, too. I'm not a mind reader."

Posted by Ryan at 11:18 AM | Comments (0)

That Homeless Guy Jacinda mentioned

That Homeless Guy

Jacinda mentioned Indy's homeless, and, oh my, there are plenty of homeless. You can tell the homeless because they don't have homes, and they're quick to hit you up for a handout. I'm usually steadfast in turning down most beggars, but only because I can't afford to give money to every outstretched hand. But within one hour of landing in Indianapolis, I found myself handing over some cash to a truly disheveled soul.

He was missing a leg, was blind in a yellowish, creamy left eye, and got around on a dilapidated wheelchair. He hit me up as I came out of a pharmacy after buying toiletries I didn't have due to missing luggage (long story). After taking one look at that guy, I decided he was having a far more difficult day than I was. He mumbled something about being starving, and, since I didn't want him to have to gnaw off his other leg, I gave him all the ones I had in my wallet: $8.

I have it pretty good. Luggage or no luggage.

Posted by Ryan at 09:12 AM | Comments (0)

March 09, 2003

So, yeah, Indianapolis Well, here

So, yeah, Indianapolis

Well, here I am in Indianapolis and, despite dire warnings to the contrary, it's actually pretty damned cool. Well, it's pretty damned cool where I'm staying, which is right downtown, about a block from the RCA dome.

Indianapolis is weird, though. One second you're driving through the slummiest slums that ever slummed, and the next second you're among high rise buildings and plush hotels. My hotel, the Omni Severin, is right on the borderline, but there's a really great mall right across the street, and obscene number of restaurants all around, and a good mix of bars. All in all, I landed in a pretty fortunate area.

And there's a cheerleading competition going on here, too. Now, before all you guys get jealous, I should note that it's a JUNIOR cheerleading competition, which means little elementary and middle school girls bouncing around, so it's actually disappointing. It's weird though, being crammed on an elevator with all these young girls wearing more make-up than Tammy Faye Baker, and enough perfume to drown out even a Marshall Fields perfume spritz tunnel. I'm also told the Penn State NCAA women's basketball team is staying at our hotel, but I have yet to see any players. At least I don't think I've seen any players.

Anyway, I must go attend a press conference. More updates as time and events warrant.

Posted by Ryan at 01:46 PM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2003

U.S. Alert Level Set To

U.S. Alert Level Set To Red Following Terrorist Arrest
Excessive Khalid Body Hair Said To Contain al Queda Signals

WASHINGTONE D.C. (Rhodes Media Services) -- The Department of Homeland Security hurriedly ratcheted up the nation's terror alert level to red, the highest level, after discovering potential hidden messages to al Queda within the outrageous body hair of recently captured terrorist mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

"At first, we really kind of thought it was amusing that a man could be that hairy," said Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge. "But then we started seeing patterns in the hair that alarmed us and, finally, we realized that such a disgusting amount of hair could only be a message to al Queda to commence with their attacks."

Although Ridge couldn't specifically say what type of attacks to expect, he suggested that, whatever is on the horizon, it would likely be big.

"I mean, just look at all that hair," said Ridge. "There must be hundreds, perhaps thousands, of secret messages swirled within that shag carpet of a body."

Top U.S. codebreakers have been dispatched to the undisclosed location where Khalid is being held, where they will work to untangle the messages hidden in the body hair, which Ridge says is a "distasteful but necessary task."

Posted by Ryan at 10:57 AM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2003

I'm A Protester's Protester As

I'm A Protester's Protester

As much as I disagree with them, I have to give the anti-war protesters credit for being able to mobilize their ranks and get out there and march. They're getting so good at marching, in fact, they may be better at it then the soldiers who are poised to march into Iraq.

After watching the drama unfold at all the peace gatherings that have taken place worldwide, I've come to the conclusion that protesting is the in thing to do.

Even though a lot of today's protesters don't appear to have any real coherent message, and sometimes they come up with such laughable concepts as the Lysistrata Project (which, contrary to popular belief, has nothing to do with Listerine), I have to give them credit, they're out there anyway, marching, marching, holding up signs and, perhaps most importantly, getting on T.V.

Despite the apparent difficulties inherent in being a protester, I can't stand on the sideline and watch the latest fad pass me by without whipping up my own protest. Therefore, I spent a considerable part of last week carefully orchestrating my own protest movement.

First and foremost, I needed a cause; something so profound that I would be guaranteed to garner a loyal following of like-minded protesters. I considered starting a "Make Ryan Rhodes Rich Beyond His Wildest Dreams" protest movement, but I decided a movement like that would probably only benefit me. No, I needed to organize a protest that could, in the end, help other people as well. That's just the kind of protester I am.

I briefly flirted with the idea of an "Anti-Junk Mail" movement. All my fellow protesters would strip completely naked, glue junk mail to their bodies, and march through U.S. cities chanting catchy slogans like "We don't approve of being pre-approved" and "Sweepstakes are the tool of the devil."

Again, fearing that I would have a tough time rallying a large enough number of protest troopers to my anti-junk mail movement, I decided to dig even further into my protest bag.

Finally, I meticulously crafted a protest certain to bring millions of people within my protest fold. Let it be known today that I am officially establishing the "Anti-Protest Movement." All who join will be asked to work tirelessly to bring an end to the protest web that is spinning its way across our country. We will protest day and night until the last protester throws up his or her hands and surrenders. If you wish to support my fledgling movement, I simply ask that you adhere to the following rules.

First, as a protest protester, you cannot reveal your identity to anyone. To do so will mark you as a protester and, under my movement, all protesters will be protested against.

Secondly, all members are asked to work tirelessly, at risk to their own safety, to not do anything even remotely protest-like. In other words, simply go about your daily routine as if you never even heard about the anti-protest movement. However, you are free to think all the anti-protest thoughts you want. You can even think of the anti-protest signs you won't be making and the protest gatherings that won't take place. This is a very tight-lipped movement.

Third, I've noticed that every good protest movement has solid lines of communication with its members. But, since all my protest members are anonymous, I ask that no protest protester talk about their non-actions to anyone. This rule coincides closely with the first rule, but it's so important I thought it should be underscored again.

Finally, I have to mention the difficult area of donations. After all, maintaining a protest movement like this is an expensive pursuit. All I ask is $5 per member, a fee that you obviously cannot pay because to do so would mark you as a protester, and we just can't have that in an anti-protest movement such as this. We don't want to be labeled hypocrites after all.

Let me take this moment to thank all of you who have just now joined my anti-protest movement and, judging by your silence, I can only assume there are millions upon millions of you. And thank you for your $5 non-donation. I can assure you that any money I don't receive won't be spent on anything even remotely anti-protest in nature.

Of course, I'm sure such a popular protest movement as mine is bound to give rise to copy-cat movements who will no doubt try to steal my thunder.

If that happens, I can only assure you that I will strenuously protest.

Posted by Ryan at 09:36 PM | Comments (0)

Ballroom Blix Revisited Somebody actually

Ballroom Blix Revisited

Somebody actually visited my site after doing a Google search specifically for "Ballroom+Blix+Lyrics." That's flattering. I hope they found the entry. If not, it can be located in my January 3 archive.

Posted by Ryan at 04:32 PM | Comments (0)

Iraq Continues Destruction of Al

Iraq Continues Destruction of Al Samouds
Hussein Calls U.N. Resolution "tough but fair"

BAGHDAD (Rhodes Media Services) -- Top Iraqi officials, including Saddam Hussein himself, are assuring U.N. officials that they are working around to the clock to dispose of the country's supply of Al Samouds.

"I can assure you that Iraq is in full compliance on this issue," said Iraq's deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz. "We're not sure what, if anything, destroying Al Samouds is supposed to accomplish, but we're willing to try anything to avert a war."

According to official reports provided to chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix, Iraq has, to date, disposed of 62 Al Samouds, including Abdul Al Samoud, Salih Al Samoud, Marouf Al Samoud, and Sarsam Al Samoud. The report said that several more Al Samoud executions are slated for the coming weeks.

"I think this U.N. demand is tough but fair," said Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. "Quite frankly, I've always thought that there are too many Al Samouds living in Iraq, and this provides a convenient way to get rid of them. I particularly liked finishing off Sarsam Al Samoud. He was always kind of a pain in the ass."

Mundhir Ibrahim al-Shawi, Iraq's minister of justice, said that a variety of techniques have been used to dispose of the Al Samouds, but he said that rifles and handguns at close range seemed to be the most effective.

A visibly shaken Blix responded to the Iraqi report, saying "I don't think they quite understand what we meant."

Posted by Ryan at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2003

I'd Marry Her If She

I'd Marry Her If She Weren't Engaged


Posted by Ryan at 01:55 PM | Comments (0)

Martin Sheen Takes On New

Martin Sheen Takes On New Role As Iraqi Dictator
New NBC Show To Be Called The Middle East Wing

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (Rhodes Media Services) -- Fresh from his recent appearance at an anti-war rally, actor Martin Sheen said he had accepted a new acting role as Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in a new NBC show called The Middle East Wing.

Sheen, who plays President Josiah Bartlett on the NBC drama, The West Wing, said the chance to portray Hussein was one that he simply couldn't pass up.

"Well, I figured that, since playing a U.S. president on television apparently makes me a total expert on American policy and politics, playing Saddam will make me an expert on Iraqi policy," said Sheen. "Just like playing Captain Willard in Apocalypse Now made me an expert on military action."

The learning curve for Sheen will be intense, especially considering that, when asked to locate Iraq on a world map, he pointed to California.

The new show will be a major departure from Sheen's West Wing role. Far from the polished and sterilized White House sets he's used to, Sheen will spend most of his time in a mock-up of an underground bunker, and the end of each show will feature the summary execution of one or more top Iraqi officials believed to be plotting against Hussein.

"Obviously, I deplore violence in any form," he said. "And, I think that, as the show grows in popularity, I'll be able to convince the producers to phase out the summary execution aspect of the show and focus more on the man who is Saddam Hussein. He's a father, you know, and I'm envisioning some touching scenes between Saddam and his sons."

As for the West Wing, producers say the show will continue, but with a Texas oil man as President, presumably to be played by Chuck Norris.

Posted by Ryan at 01:19 PM | Comments (0)

March 04, 2003

A Doggone Strange Idea It's

A Doggone Strange Idea

It's been awhile since I've found a quality piece of odd news, but I think A Brothel For Sex Starved Dogs should make up for lost time.

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German artist has applied for a license to open a brothel in Berlin for sexually frustrated dogs and says it will be the first of its kind anywhere.

First of its kind, eh? Funny no one thought of this before. How does one ascertain that a dog is sex-starved anyway? Does it hump your leg more violently than normal? Perhaps Rover flips through his latest issue of Playpet magazine a bit more longingly than usual. I really have to tip my hat to the reporter who got this scoop. Do you realize how many boring city council meetings he probably had to sit through before this one fell in his lap?

Karl-Friedrich Lenze, 54, said he planned to charge dog owners $27 per half hour of happiness.

That's robbery!

Ordinarily, I'd write this off as terribly bad idea, but really, some people love their pets so much, I can honestly see them coughing up $27 so Fido can get his groove on.

"If dogs can't get what they want, they get cranky -- just like people," Lenze told Reuters.

You can't have cranky sex-starved dogs running around. They join gangs and roam around looking for unwary joggers to drag down and rape.

The establishment would offer patrons a variety of carefully vetted "employees" of both sexes, rooms for private encounters and even a "bar" where customers could sniff out their preferred partners.

Okay, people, you can commence with your laughing, because this is one damn funny news item.

Posted by Ryan at 04:43 PM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2003

Bart Simpson in Rural Minnesota

Bart Simpson in Rural Minnesota

For my birthday, myself, Mel, and a group of eight friends went to eat at a little place called the Canton Pub, which is a pub located in Canton. To say the Canton Pub is small would be a severe understatement, but they have some of the best soup on the planet, so they keep me coming back whenever I'm home.

So, we were sitting there, happily eating away, when I became aware that one of the pub workers was calling out to all the patrons, asking for a very specific individual, as per the request of whoever was on the phone with her.

"Craven Moorehead?!" she yelled. "Is there a Craven Moorehead?!"

I lost it right there, because that, by itself, was super funny. But then, she said it. . .

"Is anyone here Craven Moorehead?!"

I told Mel to raise her hand. By that time, the entire pub was rolling with laughter. When it finally dawned on the poor pub worker what she was saying, she turned about 10 shades of red.

Bart Simpson would be so proud.

Posted by Ryan at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)

Ever Have One of Those

Ever Have One of Those Days?

I can't be sure, but this guy has probably seen better days. In fact, I know he has.

That's the way it goes with international terrorism: one day you're masterminding your own business, and the murder of over 3,000 innocents, and the next you wake up in a Pakistani prison with severe bed head, wearing a filthy shirt that doesn't disguise your insane body hair.

Good riddance.

UPDATE: It just dawned on me that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed bears a striking resemblance (in the prison photo) to Bluto on Animal House. Sure, he's a more surly looking version of Bluto, and he probably has a lot more sodium pentothal in his bloodstream, but he still looks like Bluto.

Posted by Ryan at 10:28 AM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2003

Another Year I'm now 28

Another Year

I'm now 28 years-old. And, once again, I don't feel any different, which obviously isn't supposed to be the case anyway. Still, I think back to when I was 25, and I see a world of intellectual growth between now and then. The things I believed then just don't apply any more, victim ideals that fell to the harsh blade of reality.

First and foremost, I've learned that it's easy to take the moral high ground, but I've found that I have to be able to defend, coherently, a moral high ground, and if I can't, I owe it to myself to explore the other side. I've changed my views on so many things because I simply got tired of defending myself with a sloppy "just because."

Let's see what year 28 holds.

Posted by Ryan at 06:03 PM | Comments (0)

Hate To Say I Told

Hate To Say I Told You So, But I Told You So

Sometimes, you just have to laugh.

Posted by Ryan at 10:56 AM | Comments (1)
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