April 29, 2003

Credit Cards and CPR

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.

First In Line For First Aid

Awhile back, the American Red Cross went and made a mistake of staggering proportions: they certified me in first aid and CPR. The only thing more dangerous than me giving first aid would be to allow Michael Jackson to give parenting tips.

It's not that first aid and CPR are difficult to grasp, because they aren't. After six and a half hours of lectures and videos and exercises and tests, I'm pretty sure I have a firm understanding of the basics. However, I just don't think I would be the level head you'd necessarily want to count on should your chest ticker start to fail you or you lop off a finger while chopping carrots.

I'm not squeamish around blood, and I won't pass out if I see someone walking around with a nail in their head, but when it comes to emergency-type situations, I just have this sneaking suspicion that I'll be the guy who adopts the Homer Simpson "can't someone else do it?" philosophy. Okay, I suppose if I'm the only person in the area, and a tree limb falls on you and breaks your arm in three places, I guess I could summon the resolve to help you out. If I HAVE to.

First aid and CPR really haven't changed much since I first learned them in elementary school, and again later in high school. You still apply pressure to bleeding wounds, and you still use the heimlich maneuver to get choking victims to hock up lodged edibles. What has changed considerably are the CPR mannequins.

My father used to be a member of my hometown's ambulance crew, and to keep his skills sharp he'd occasionally drag home a resusci-annie doll. For those not familiar with resusci-annie dolls, you're lucky. The doll my father practiced on was a legless and armless plastic torso and head, dressed in a blue jogging outfit. My first introduction to the resusci-annie doll left a lasting, and very probably damaging, impression.

My father practiced CPR in our back room where, as luck would have it, most of my toys were kept as well. I was just a young lad, and I went scampering into the dimly illuminated room to fetch my Linkin' Logs. . .only to trip over something. Imagine my heart-thumping horror when I turned around and was confronted by a female torso and head laying on the floor. I can't remember everything that transpired after that, owing primarily to the fact that most of my brain had shut down due to terror, but I do recall my father doing his best to soothe me and explain the function of the perceived corpse I had stumbled over.

The version of the resusci-annie doll I worked on a couple weeks ago is considerably different than the dead woman laying in the back room from my childhood years. The dolls of today are still torsos and heads, because legs and arms don't play a role in CPR, with the exception of the legs and arms required of the person performing the CPR. The big difference with today's dolls is that they have removable faces.

Removable faces are great because each person practicing CPR gets to work with their very own face, eliminating the gross factor of working around the slobber of other first aid practitioners. Back when I first learned CPR in elementary school, my whole class worked on one resusci-annie doll. After one student breathed into the head, the teacher would wipe the plastic mouth off with an alcohol-soaked towelette. This did little to convince me that the doll was then clean of the germs of my 20 or so classmates, especially the kid sitting in the back who I know for a fact picked his nose and ate it.

Another difference between the CPR dolls of today is that they're pretty much gender-neutral. This no doubt provides great relief to CPR and first aid teachers everywhere trying to educate a room full of teenage boys who start laughing uncontrollably when their hands come in contact with the chest of a female doll. Um, not that I ever did that or anything.

So anyway, yeah, I'm now certified in CPR and first aid, which means I can help you if you're bleeding profusely or your heart stops. Just remember that my training is very specific, so you'll have to meet very stringent requirements before I can render aid. But hey, if you just happen to be a gender-neutral torso with a removable face, I'm your man.

The Hilarity That Is IBM

Awhile back, as I sat in the cafeteria gnawing on my noontime meal, my eyes scanned down to a card placed on the table outlining some of the new IBM security rules that the company apparently decided were important enough to call to our attention. I think they're pretty funny, but you be the judge:

In addition to IBM Work Environment policies prohibiting drugs, weapons, and non-approved alcohol on premises, there are additional activities prohibited or restricted at IBM Rochester.

I know I've been snorting lines of cocaine while cleaning guns during MY workday. Who knew I was breaking so many rules?

No non-commute bicycling or roller blading, and no skate boarding at any time.

Skate boarding? Has that really become a problem?

No golfing, flying of model planes or rockets, horse riding, hunting or trapping, dirt biking, ATV or snowmobile operation at any time.

Well, shit, just the other day, I was trying to get into the building, but there was this damn horse in the way because crazy Ed, from accounting, well he parked the beast there so he could go check on his raccoon traps he set near the vending machines. And even after I got into the building, I couldn't get any work done what with all the duck and turkey calls issuing through the halls. Okay, okay, I know these rules mostly apply to the small IBM-owned park outside of the main blue buildings, but come on.

No overnight camping.

Definition of a workaholic? Someone who camps outside of their workplace.

Posted by Ryan at 01:11 PM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2003

Yet Another Poetry Reading Michele,

Yet Another Poetry Reading

Michele, over at A Small Victory, is holding yet another poetry contest, this time readers are encouraged to think up poems about Saddam Hussein's 66 birthday, even though it's tough to hold birthdays for millions of atomized particles. Anyway, the contest can be joined right here. Only, don't outdo me, because I think I'm earning a victory here. My contributions are as follows:

1.) With sincere apologies to T.S. Eliot and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Let us go then, Saddam and I
When cruise missiles streak out against the sky
Like a dissident being tortured upon a table
Let us go, through half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless looters in old museums
And coalition forces who do not see them:
Streets that follow like a joyous argument
Of liberated intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question. . .
Oh, do not ask, "Where is Uday?"
Let us go and enjoy your birthday.

In the streets the people come and go
Talking of Hussein The Asshole

2.) Saddam turned 66 today, a party is in order
Too bad the guest of honor may be across the Syrian border
Or maybe he's all dead and stuff, a rotting beret and big moustache
Crushed beneath many tons of bunker, concrete, soot and ash.
But let's pretend the man's alive, and keen to party down
So let's order up balloons and cake and maybe, yes, a clown
And if he's dead, let's find his corpse, and suffer through the stench
God knows the smell can't be near as bad as partying with the French
Let's get some kegs and hard liquor and toast the fallen man
And we'll throw all of the party trash in neighboring Iran
We'll rock the Casbah day and night, and pull down statues, too
While yelling loud, for all to hear, "Saddam, this Bud's for you!"

3.) As composed and read by the Iraqi Information Minister, Baghdad Bob:

The great Saddam, still in control, is 66 years young
Truly, truly I tell you this, because mine is not a lying tongue
He's alive, I tell you, alive and well, and defeating the U.S. snake
So destroyed are they, that Saddam has decided, to take a birthday break
He will tour the streets of Baghdad, and to show that he does care
He'll hold a rifle with one hand, and shoot it in the air
But the bullets won't just fall to earth, and bury in the sand
No, they'll hit U.S. soldiers on their heads, and kill them where they stand
Because Saddam is great and good, the powerful leader of Iraq
He can take a birthday break, and still repel a U.S.-led attack
Now I must go, this briefing's done, there's nothing more to say
But Saddam's alive, this I know, because this is his birthday

I encourage you all to take part. It's great fun.

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

April 27, 2003

Remember The Big Firestone Controversy?

Remember The Big Firestone Controversy?
"Reinventing the Wheel" c. Ryan Rhodes, Sept. 9, 2000

It was a cool evening in Olduvai gorge many, many, many, many (and I mean many) years B.C. As twilight descended, radiating the last fainting rays of light through the dense foliage, a male figure could be seen tending to a small fire.

His name was Keldar the Hunter, a muscular hominid with a stout jaw, protruding cranium, and exceedingly bad body odor. Propped over Keldar's fire was some sort of dead animal he found while walking earlier in the day and, as Keldar's next meal, it was fitting that it smelled much like him, even as it cooked.

As Keldar watched the grease spatter from his meal into the firepit below, he noticed a strange smooth stone amongst the glowing goals. Boredom and curiosity prompted him to reach in and pull the stone out. In that same instant, Keldar remembered the oft-forgotten lesson that fire causes pain.

The stone quickly became a source of amazement to Keldar because, unlike all the other jagged stones he'd pulled out of fires in the past, this one, with it's smooth edges, rolled a considerable distance before coming to rest. In a flash of creative inspiration, Keldar found a large boulder and began chipping and shaping it into the same smooth and round fashion. The wheel was born, although it would initially be known as "the thing Keldar did."

Although Keldar was certain his invention had the potential to transform the lives of his 15 other tribe members, reaction to "the thing Keldar did" was lukewarm at best.

Undaunted, and possessing a keen mind for primitive marketing, Keldar renamed his invention "Firestone," in tribute to how he discovered the fantastic rock. He then sought out Follgorth, a neighboring tribesman who ran the only moving and postal service throughout the gorge. Follgorth's company, "Follgorth's Oduvai Relocation and Delivery" (FORD for short), was a successful venture, but Follgorth was desperate for a means by which to reduce the incredible number of employees required to stay in business.

Like Keldar, Follgorth saw the limitless possibilities of "the thing Keldar did." After a drawn out business negotiation in which Follgorth gave Keldar four of his best child-bearing daughters, a lucrative deal between FORD and Firestone was born.

Follgorth's first task was to dispose of his "dragging logs," which were more or less just logs tied together and dragged by teams of four to six men. Although they were good for moving and delivery, there was a high rate of turnover among FORD workers. However, once the "dragging logs" were equipped with four Firestones, a magical transformation took place. The "dragging logs" now required far less labor and FORD was able to reallocate its personnel and expand its service to the tribal community.

Likewise, Keldar was kept exceedingly busy, what with four Firestones required for each of FORD's "dragging logs." Indeed, Firestone eventually had a large number of employees of its own turning out an incredible number of "the things Keldar did."

The fame of Keldar and Follgorth spread throughout the land, and their wealth, likewise, seemed to know no bounds. A rough count estimated that the two men had fortunes exceeding 52 good child-bearing women, a remarkable display of wealth by any standard.

But, trouble was brewing on the horizon. Faced with an increased production quota and an upstart company started by the Goodyear tribe three gorges down, the Firestone company started cutting corners. Rather than cutting their stones from the solid gorge wall, Firestone started pulling the more accessible rock from around the river bank.

For their part, FORD knew that Firestone quality had declined, but the executives were blinded by the appeal of building their own fortunes of good child-bearing women.

However, the companies, much the like the wheels that brought them fame, began to crumble. The unstable Firestones, hewn from the cheaper but less reliable river rock, started to fail at the most inopportune time. Stories abounded about tribespeople being seriously hurt or killed while they took recreational downhill rides on FORD's "dragging logs," only to have the Firestones disintegrate from under them. One truly horrifying story circulated about Tribal Elder Morgoth careening into a tree and being flung headlong into the Olduvai gorge.

No one knows for sure what became of the FORD and Firestone companies, but one thing is certain: of all the people unearthed from Olduvai gorge, none have been found alive.

Posted by Ryan at 09:25 PM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2003

Oh Yeah, I Remember Now

Oh Yeah, I Remember Now

I remember Hillary Scott. Who can't remember Hillary Scott? *sigh* Hillary Scott.

Or, for that matter, the following list of hotties:

Namrata Singh Gujral. Cerina Vincent. Lauren Lee Smith. Tawny Cypress. Jayma Mays. Rose Byrne. Natalia Tena. Carice van Houten. Sonya Walger. Michelle Ryan. Alice Braga. Kristen Stewart. Katie Leung. Vera Jordanova. Mia Maestro. Ninel Conde.

Posted by Ryan at 01:43 PM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2003

"The Ryan Rhodes Shopping Experience"

"The Ryan Rhodes Shopping Experience" c. Ryan Rhodes, April 25, 2001

I went grocery shopping at Rainbow Foods last week, and although the overall outcome was typical of my shopping prowess, the end result was still no less perplexing. In short, after spending 45 minutes, and $70, I found myself without anything to eat, or at least nothing that would constitute a meal.

As I stood in my kitchen, staring blankly into my spacious refrigerator that had very little in it, I replayed in my mind my recent shopping experience. Here, then, is a stream of consciousness explanation of how I routinely end up spending a lot of money on relatively no groceries:

Man I hate grocery shopping. It seems that every time I come here I end up spending all sorts of money on absolutely nothing. Why didn't the automatic door open? Oh, that's the exit. I should maybe try the Enter door. There we go. Automatic doors have sure taken all the work out of pushing and pulling my way into buildings. That used to be such a chore. Hmmm. Do I want a cart or a basket? I need a lot of groceries, so I should probably get a cart. But a cart is so unmanly. It's so much more manly to carry a basket. Cart or basket? Cart or basket? Whoa! Who is that attractive girl? She's going for a cart. I'll grab one for her just to be nice, and of course to ogle her a while longer.

ME: "Here, let me get that for you."


Well, that clinches it; now I have to get a cart or it will look like I just hover around handing out carts to women all day. Let's see, I suppose I should make my way through the fruit and vegetable aisle. I don't know why I bother. I can never buy anything that doesn't have a shelf life of over three weeks. That reminds me, I have to throw away that bag of iceberg lettuce I bought a month ago. It's starting to look brown and soggy. Brown and soggy? That reminds me, I have to do laundry this weekend. Let's see, I need some sort of food. I don't know why people waste their time making out grocery lists. I know exactly what I need. It's all in my head. Oooohh, I need hot sauce. But I already have five bottles at home. So what, I can never have too much hot sauce. Don't forget to buy a bottle of ranch dressing. But, I already have four bottles of ranch dressing, and all my lettuce is brown and soggy, and I have to do laundry. Well, I suppose one more bottle won't hurt. Hey, I should really buy some salsa. What goes good with salsa? What doesn't go good with salsa? Good point. I'll buy some salsa. Note to self: look for things that go good with salsa. Hey, now I'm getting to the good stuff. I need like eight boxes of macaroni and cheese and five boxes of hamburger helper. Well, don't forget to buy hamburger and milk then. Note to self: buy milk and hamburger. It's all in my head. I wonder if macaroni and cheese goes good with salsa. I'll have to try that. I'll call it Salsaroni. No, that would be stupid. Ah, the soup section; my one stop quick meal section for soup and sandwiches. That reminds me, I should go back and pick up some bread and sandwich meat. Right. I'll make a mental note of that. It's all in my head. Hey, that good looking girl just rounded the corner and she's checking out the soup too. We have something in common. She just dropped her shopping list. I'll pick it up for her.

ME: "Here, let me get that for you."


I wonder if she noticed that I'm smoking hot. Let's see, I'm in the chips and snack section. Do I need any chips or snacks? Chips. What goes good with chips? Chips and what? Chips and what? Well, I probably don't need any chips. I can always come back if I decide I want chips. It's all in my head. I should really swing back and get that bread now. I'll get two loaves. You can never have too much bread. I wonder what the weather is going to be like this weekend. Let's see, cleaning supplies. Do I need any cleaning supplies. Yes, I need some sort of shower cleaner because. . . well, it just really needs to be cleaned. And toilet cleaner because. . . well, it just really, really, really needs to be cleaned. Whoops, my cart is blocking the aisle and someone wants to get by. Oh, it's that really good looking girl again.

ME: "Here, let me get that out of the way for you."


I should have said more to her, but here I am clinging to a bottle of toilet cleaner. What was I going to say, "My name is Ryan and I'm going to clean my dirty toilet tonight. And your name is?"

Don't forget to buy milk, and lunch meat, and cheese, and hamburger, and something that goes with salsa. It's all in my head. Hey, I need something quick to eat tonight. Pizza. I can never go wrong with pizza. Let's see, this pizza has five servings with 30 percent fat per serving. So, I just won't eat tomorrow. Or the next day. Well, that should do it. I guess I can head to the checkout line. I'm sure I've forgotten to buy something. Oh well, if that's the case, I can always come back. I'm really good at remembering things I need. It's all in my head.

Posted by Ryan at 11:50 PM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2003

Oh, Shit. I'm French French

Oh, Shit. I'm French

French Guard
I'm French! Why do think I have this outrageous
accent, you silly king-a?!

What Monty Python Character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Although I take umbrage with being labeled a French "snail eating surrender monkey," I think the rest of the description is strangely appropriate. And I don't think the English are pigs.

UPDATE: Speaking of pig dogs, I think this dog should be named Lucky, or maybe Pupcicle, or maybe Bullet, or maybe Goodyear, or maybe. . . okay I'll stop now.

Posted by Ryan at 04:01 PM | Comments (0)

Girlfriend Family Matters It just

Girlfriend Family Matters

It just struck me last night how odd Melissa's family actually is. Not bad, mind you, but odd.

First, you have her gay dad. How Melissa was able to turn out relatively normal after enduring her parents' divorce when she was in 9th grade, followed by her father's announcement that he was gay a couple of years later, is rather astounding. Throw into the mix how her mother went into a deep depression following the divorce and effectively sequestered herself in her bedroom for years afterward, and I'm left wondering if Mel isn't actually a time bomb waiting to go off.

Then, you have her mother. She's so deeply religious, she thinks everything is a sin. Melissa and I have sex? Well, we're going to hell. I'm not kidding here. She actually tells Melissa that. And this coming from a woman who is currently dating a married man. During Thanksgiving, Melissa chided her mother about her new man. "Mom," said Melissa. "You're dating a married man. You're going to hell." Her mother's response to both of us? "Me? What about you two?" One big, happy, hellbound family.

Then, you have the younger sister. A former Army recruit, she got pregnant while living in Kuwait and ended up marrying the Marine father so she could stay in the country (Islamic nation, you know; can't have unmarried mothers running around). I've only met her once, but I was immediately struck by how little of a personality she had. Her husband is her eyes, ears and mind. He dictates EVERYTHING. I don't think she's had a thought of her own for two years or more. Melissa says that her sister didn't always used to be that way, which is hard to believe.

Finally, you have the youngest sister. She was just a really, REALLY, young one when her parents divorced and her father announced that he liked men. With dad out of the house, mom locked in her bedroom, and older sisters vying for parental attention of their own, she ended up pretty much growing up alone. When Melissa refers to her sister's friends, she uses the singular form, friend, because, as far as Mel can tell, she only has one. She's a nice girl, with a big laugh, but getting her to talk is more difficult than understanding quantum physics. Much to my absolute shock, she recently announced that she has a boyfriend, who she has been dating for two weeks. I could hardly believe it.

Easter, perhaps, provided the best example of how odd Melissa's family is. Her father didn't show up, despite promises to be there. Her youngest sister announced that she had a boyfriend, much to the shock of everyone in the room. And her mother's response to the great news? "Well, he's not black is he?" To which the sister replied "Yes he is." At that, the mother went off on a rant about how black people are unreliable and untrustworthy and lazy, and God knows what else. So, I learned that Melissa's mother, in addition to being a Bible banger who thinks all her daughters are going to hell, is also a racist.

Melissa's method of coping was pretty understandable. She drank 3/4 of a bottle of merlot in the morning and slept well into the afternoon.

Step aside, Norman Rockwell.

Posted by Ryan at 02:09 PM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2003

Tim Robbins So Deserves A

Tim Robbins So Deserves A Rant

A lot was made recently when Dale Petrovskey, president of the Baseball Hall of Fame, cancelled an appearance by Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, two outspoken war opponents, in what was supposed to be some sort of appreciation for the movie Bull Durham, which, if I recall, was a travesty of a movie. I mean, it just plain sucked. But, whatever.

Robbins went and cried foul that it was a violation of his first amendment right to free speech, WHICH IT WASN'T, but I'll get to that later. At any rate, Robbins eventually got to spout his meaningless steam to the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on April 15. Here's what he had to say, with my own invective interspersed for good measure.

Thank you. And thanks for the invitation. I had originally been asked here to talk about the war and our current political situation, but I have instead chosen to hijack this opportunity and talk about baseball and show business. (Laughter.) Just kidding. Sort of.

*wiping tears from my eyes* Man, that was funny. He should be doing stand-up. Oh, wait, I guess he sort of is doing stand-up.

I can't tell you how moved I have been at the overwhelming support I have received from newspapers throughout the country in these past few days. I hold no illusions that all of these journalists agree with me on my views against the war. While the journalists' outrage at the cancellation of our appearance in Cooperstown is not about my views, it is about my right to express these views. I am extremely grateful that there are those of you out there still with a fierce belief in constitutionally guaranteed rights. We need you, the press, now more than ever. This is a crucial moment for all of us.

Screech! Okay, Mr. Robbins, I'm going to have to ask you to stop right there. I need to frisk you, and I'm talking about an entire body cavity search here. "Constitutionally guaranteed rights." Let's revisit that one, shall we? By rights, I assume you mean the first amendment, so let's look at that little bit of Constitutional goodness. Being that I have a degree in journalism, I was kind of forced to learn this one by heart. Seriously, I had to write it, verbatim, during one of my tests. Hey, I had a lazy professor, what can I say. *ahem* Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The important word here is. . . anyone? Mr. Robbins? CONGRESS! That's right, the guv'mint can't step in to shut you up. You can't be jailed, or tortured, or sodomized by Richard Simmons for speaking publicly against something in this country. Privately owned institutions, on the other hand, like, oh, I don't know, the Baseball Hall of Fame, should they take umbrage with with your views, can choose not to host you should they feel so inclined. It's like this: let's say I have a child, and you have a penchant for swearing like a sailor. Now, although I have no problem with you swearing on your own time, I'd just as soon you not do so in front of my child. So, I don't invite you to my house, and that's perfectly within my rights. It's not a violation of the first amendment. You have no Constitutional right to come into my house and swear in front of my child, just as you don't have the right to make sexually harassing comments in the workplace, just as you don't have the right to speak at the Baseball Hall of Fame should the president of that insitution decide that he doesn't particularly like you or your views. Got that? Good. Then let's move on.

For all of the ugliness and tragedy of 9-11, there was a brief period afterward where I held a great hope, in the midst of the tears and shocked faces of New Yorkers, in the midst of the lethal air we breathed as we worked at Ground Zero, in the midst of my children's terror at being so close to this crime against humanity, in the midst of all this, I held on to a glimmer of hope in the naive assumption that something good could come out of it.

Oh, good. Tim Robbins held on to a glimmer of hope that something good could come out of 9-11. I feel so much better. God bless the hopes of celebrities.

I imagined our leaders seizing upon this moment of unity in America, this moment when no one wanted to talk about Democrat versus Republican, white versus black, or any of the other ridiculous divisions that dominate our public discourse. I imagined our leaders going on television telling the citizens that although we all want to be at Ground Zero, we can't, but there is work that is needed to be done all over America. Our help is needed at community centers to tutor children, to teach them to read. Our work is needed at old-age homes to visit the lonely and infirmed; in gutted neighborhoods to rebuild housing and clean up parks, and convert abandoned lots to baseball fields. I imagined leadership that would take this incredible energy, this generosity of spirit and create a new unity in America born out of the chaos and tragedy of 9/11, a new unity that would send a message to terrorists everywhere: If you attack us, we will become stronger, cleaner, better educated, and more unified. You will strengthen our commitment to justice and democracy by your inhumane attacks on us. Like a Phoenix out of the fire, we will be reborn.

And here I thought his opening paragraph was funny! This is just plain hysterical! In other words, to combat international terrorism, and to prevent future planes from crashing into buildings, and to prevent anthrax from being sent through the mail, America needs to. . . tutor children and teach them to read! fuck-a-duck-a-ding-dong! Was this guy brought up on Mars? Wait, my sides are still hurting, but I MUST repeat his most golden line: "send a message to terrorists everywhere: If you attack us, we will become stronger, cleaner, better educated, and more unified." Yes, I'm just sure that terrorists would quake in their boots when they look and see how their attacks have made us cleaner and better educated. That'll learn 'em up real good.

But, you know, before we go and focus on our better, cleaner, more unified America, I have an idea. First, let's go into Afghanistan, a hotbed of terrorism, bomb them into the first century, scatter their terror members to the four winds, and then put the lean on any other country that harbors them. And then that one country, Iraq, which harbors terrorists of its own and compensates the families of "martyrs," let's knock that regime down while we're at it. Because, you see Mr. Robbins, 9-11 didn't happen because of unclean, un-tutored American masses. It happened because of a rotten cancer running throughout much of the Middle East that has to be removed. You go and scrub and tutor all the Americans you want, that won't make us one bit safer.

And then came the speech: You are either with us or against us. And the bombing began. And the old paradigm was restored as our leader encouraged us to show our patriotism by shopping and by volunteering to join groups that would turn in their neighbor for any suspicious behavior.

Yeah, I know I was turning in my neighbors left and right. Those were the good old days. Listen, Tim, I know the world must look a tad weird when you're sitting atop a pile of money that you earned acting, and to a lesser extent directing, you should know that, down here in the trenches called the middle class, we're not on the lookout for suspicious behavior. We don't take the color-coded terror system seriously. What we've done is taken it upon ourselves to actually learn what makes this world, not just America, tick. We have learned that it takes far more than a simple focus on the homefront to exact change, and we're willing to fight to bring that change about.

In the 19 months since 9-11, we have seen our democracy compromised by fear and hatred. Basic inalienable rights, due process, the sanctity of the home have been quickly compromised in a climate of fear. A unified American public has grown bitterly divided, and a world population that had profound sympathy and support for us has grown contemptuous and distrustful, viewing us as we once viewed the Soviet Union, as a rogue state.

Okay, our democracy has not been compromised. Once police begin routinely opening fire on protesters and we start jailing and torturing dissidents for speaking against the government, then you can talk about a compromised democracy. And, I don't know about you, but the sanctity of my home hasn't been compromised by fear, although I'd sure like to find out where that weird smell is coming from. As for the world that had profound sympathy for us in the wake of 9-11, I think it's become rather obvious that a lot of that sympathy was, at best, crocodile tears. When you see footage of fleeing Iraqi Ba'athist leaders all driving BMWs, you have to ask just how much of that contempt and distrust was actually fear of having the U.S. discover just how much opposing countries have been, in fact, in bed with terror supporting regimes. As far as I'm concerned, world sympathy is pretty much useless if it doesn't translate into support.

This past weekend, Susan and I and the three kids went to Florida for a family reunion of sorts. Amidst the alcohol and the dancing, sugar-rushing children, there was, of course, talk of the war. And the most frightening thing about the weekend was the amount of times we were thanked for speaking out against the war because that individual speaking thought it unsafe to do so in their own community, in their own life. Keep talking, they said; I haven't been able to open my mouth.

In other words, people kept sucking up to big star. The danger of being surrounded by toadying "yes" people, is that eventually you may actually start believing them.

Susan and I have been listed as traitors, as supporters of Saddam, and various other epithets by the Aussie gossip rags masquerading as newspapers, and by their fair and balanced electronic media cousins, 19th Century Fox. (Laughter.) Apologies to Gore Vidal. (Applause.) Two weeks ago, the United Way canceled Susan's appearance at a conference on women's leadership. And both of us last week were told that both we and the First Amendment were not welcome at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In my world, this is what is known as WHINING. Awwwww, poor Tim. And, again with the first amendment. Well, as long as we're on the topic, here's another little tidbit about the freedom of speech. It's simply the freedom of speech, it is NOT the freedom of speech without consequences. Yes, you can say whatever you damn well please in this country. You can go into the center of a city and expound, at the top of your lungs, about whatever you wish. However, don't assume that, just because you're loud and your voice carries, that people will agree with you and stay silent about their opposition to you and your views. When people disagree with you, weird things can happen. People will stop inviting you places. People will cancel previous engagements they may have had with you. And, people will most assuredly call you names. And, you know what? All of that is perfectly legal and well within the framework of the first amendment. They're simply exercising their first amendment rights in response to your first amendment rights. Ain't America cool?

A famous middle-aged rock-and-roller called me last week to thank me for speaking out against the war, only to go on to tell me that he could not speak himself because he fears repercussions from Clear Channel. "They promote our concert appearances," he said. "They own most of the stations that play our music. I can't come out against this war." And here in Washington, Helen Thomas finds herself banished to the back of the room and uncalled on after asking Ari Fleischer whether our showing prisoners of war at Guantanamo Bay on television violated the Geneva Convention.

Again, this goes back to the simple rule that the freedom of speech is not the freedom of speech without consequences. Here's something that is apparently lost on Tim: in the professional world, the world of bosses and paychecks and office politics, there are PLENTY of things you can think but you DON'T say, lest it mean your immediate dismissal. Sure, I think the girl in the office down the hall has a stellar butt, but I don't TELL her that. Sure, I think this company could be run better by a geriatric monkey with half a brain, but I don't post a memo throughout the building stating that. Sure, Helen Thomas is older than most buildings in Washington D.C., and she disagrees with everything the Bush administration does, and she would have loved to use her front row position to flap her jaw and state her opinions as if the press room was her own personal theater, but that doesn't mean she could do that without CONSEQUENCES.

A chill wind is blowing in this nation. A message is being sent through the White House and its allies in talk radio and Clear Channel and Cooperstown. If you oppose this administration, there can and will be ramifications. Every day, the air waves are filled with warnings, veiled and unveiled threats, spewed invective and hatred directed at any voice of dissent. And the public, like so many relatives and friends that I saw this weekend, sit in mute opposition and fear.

No, we sit at our jobs all day trying to earn what is commonely referred to as a living. Opposition is alive and well in this country, just watch the steady stream of protests being organized practically on a daily basis. Mute opposition my ass. Sometimes, Tim, what you percieve to be mute opposition, may actually be mute support.

*At this point, Tim goes off on a strange and totally irrelevant tangent about Hollywood and the media, and Columbine (yes, Columbine), and how it all somehow ties back to the war in Iraq. I won't take the time to fisk that portion because, quite frankly, it fisks itself.*

And in the midst of all this madness, where is the political opposition? Where have all the Democrats gone? Long time passing, long time ago. (Applause.) With apologies to Robert Byrd, I have to say it is pretty embarrassing to live in a country where a five-foot- one comedian has more guts than most politicians. (Applause.)

I have a theory on this. Perhaps the Democrats are staying silent because maybe, just maybe, they actually support this war. With apologies to Paul Wellstone (Applause). It's kind of hard to look at the atrocities played out by Saddam's regime and then step in front of the cameras and say that ousting Hussein and his cronies was a bad idea.

We need leaders, not pragmatists that cower before the spin zones of former entertainment journalists. We need leaders who can understand the Constitution, congressman who don't in a moment of fear abdicate their most important power, the right to declare war to the executive branch. And, please, can we please stop the congressional sing-a- longs? (Laughter.)

Yeah, the sing-a-longs are pretty fucking stupid.

In this time when a citizenry applauds the liberation of a country as it lives in fear of its own freedom, when an administration official releases an attack ad questioning the patriotism of a legless Vietnam veteran running for Congress, when people all over the country fear reprisal if they use their right to free speech, it is time to get angry. It is time to get fierce. And it doesn't take much to shift the tide. My 11-year-old nephew, mentioned earlier, a shy kid who never talks in class, stood up to his history teacher who was questioning Susan's patriotism. "That's my aunt you're talking about. Stop it." And the stunned teacher backtracks and began stammering compliments in embarrassment.

By who's word is he going on for that anecdote, I wonder. I'm betting he's going by the word of his 11-year-old nephew, and we all know that 11-year-olds are bastions of truth and honesty, and they never, NEVER, embellish stories. Hell, I'll even pretend the story is true, because making the leap that a classroom anecdote like that is somehow a microcosm of America is just laugh out loud funny.

The journalists in this country can battle back at those who would rewrite our Constitution in Patriot Act II, or "Patriot, The Sequel," as we would call it in Hollywood.

Yeah, the Patriot Act and its follow-on are both horrendously misguided, and probably illegal, pieces of legislation. I agree with Tim on this point, as much as it pains me to admit that.

We are counting on you to star in that movie. Journalists can insist that they not be used as publicists by this administration. (Applause.) The next White House correspondent to be called on by Ari Fleischer should defer their question to the back of the room, to the banished journalist du jour. (Applause.) And any instance of intimidation to free speech should be battled against. Any acquiescence or intimidation at this point will only lead to more intimidation. You have, whether you like it or not, an awesome responsibility and an awesome power: the fate of discourse, the health of this republic is in your hands, whether you write on the left or the right. This is your time, and the destiny you have chosen.

There's nothing quite like having a celebrity acting as a cheeleader for the nation's journalists. If I had been sitting in on that speech, I would have stood up and politely asked Tim not to tell me how to do my job.

Our ability to disagree, and our inherent right to question our leaders and criticize their actions define who we are. To allow those rights to be taken away out of fear, to punish people for their beliefs, to limit access in the news media to differing opinions is to acknowledge our democracy's defeat. These are challenging times. There is a wave of hate that seeks to divide us -- right and left, pro-war and anti-war. In the name of my 11-year-old nephew, and all the other unreported victims of this hostile and unproductive environment of fear, let us try to find our common ground as a nation. Let us celebrate this grand and glorious experiment that has survived for 227 years. To do so we must honor and fight vigilantly for the things that unite us -- like freedom, the First Amendment and, yes, baseball. (Applause.)

With that, I must get back to work, and I can assure you that I will do so half-heartedly at best, because from this day forth, all my writing will be done in the name of Robbins' 11-year-old nephew, and that makes me so sad, I think I'm going to cry.

Posted by Ryan at 12:01 PM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2003

The Crack Of The Bat,

The Crack Of The Bat, And The Eye Socket

Ah, the baseball season is upon us, and with it comes the yearly reminder that I am, always have been, and always will be, terrible at America's favorite pastime.

I'm one of those chosen individuals on earth who is meant to watch baseball rather than play it. Although I can grasp the big picture of the game, you know, who is winning and who is losing, if you put me in the game, with an actual glove or bat, chances are I'll make a monstrous error within five minutes, if not sooner.

Even when I played tee-ball, a game where players often ran the wrong direction around the bases and it wasn't uncommon for batters to miss the ball and instead whack the tee, with the home plate still attached, about three feet forward, I still considered myself a pretty awful player.

Although my father did his part to expose me to the world of baseball -- he bought me a glove, and he played catch with my regularly -- I was really never able to carry his fatherly lessons with me onto the actual baseball diamond. For some reason, a ground ball hit by anyone other than my father just seemed unpredictable and somewhat angry.

In retrospect, I think my poor baseball-playing ability stemmed primarily from my bowel-emptying fear of getting hit by a baseball. After stopping a hard ground ball with the palm of the glove rather than the webbing a couple of times, I had pretty much decided that getting hit by a baseball was something I should avoid at all costs.

Alas, try as I might, I couldn't prevent the strange magnetic attraction baseballs had to my little body. My first baseball-related injury occurred, of course, during a tee-ball game. For some reason that still escapes me, I was playing first base, and the biggest kid in my class, Joe, was up to bat, er, tee off, or whatever you call batting off a tee.

Joe was a farm boy who spent most of his days bench pressing sows, or so I believed. With a swing of his mighty bat, he smacked a hard grounder right at me. I crouched to retrieve the oncoming projectile, which was approaching so fast I think I saw flames. The ball hit my glove, rolled up my arm, and rammed smack center into my eye. The impact knocked me into a strange new world of glimmering stars and inky blackness, and eyewitness reports said that I dropped to my back like a felled oak.

When I came to, I assessed the situation, including the stinging pain all around my eye socket, and my newfound headache, and I let loose with a childhood wailing that I'm certain could be heard two towns away. I think every dog in the neighborhood was singing my mournful song before my parents were able to steer me into the backseat of the car and drive me home, where a bag of ice was placed on my tender eye.

The resulting black eye should have served as a dire testimonial to my lack of baseball ability, but I decided to tempt fate even further by playing little league a couple of years later.

I'm not sure why I chose to play little league, exactly, although I think it had a lot to do with the fact that, in my small town, it was generally expected that young boys should play little league.

Imagine my horror when I realized that, instead of a trusty tee from which I could safely swing at the hard little ball, there was someone actually throwing a ball at me, and the pitcher's accuracy, more often than not, was nowhere near the strike zone.

So, there I stood, bat in hand, waiting for the pitcher to throw the ball which, four out of five times, was almost guaranteed to hit me. I was never much good at hitting anything, but I'm pretty sure my left arm, at the end of the season, could easily absorb the impact of an Abrams tank round. I hated little league with a passion, and I only permitted myself to endure one year of the pointless punishment.

Softball, I thought, would provide a safer outlet for me to try my hand at the game. But, once again, I discovered that my hitting was only slightly better with a slow moving pitch rather than a fast one.

During the one year I was on a softball team, at the age of 23, I only hit one ball into the outfield. Almost all of my hits consisted of me nicking the ball about four inches and then running frantically to beat the throw to first. Our team had softball shirts specially made. On the back, they read, "Win Or Lose, We Booze." That pretty much summed up our season. I think we won one game, and that was because, I'm convinced, the other team was laughing so hard at me, they couldn't function.

So, enjoy this year's baseball season, but don't expect to see me anywhere on the field. But, if I'm out there, I should be easy to spot. I'll be the one getting hit repeatedly by the baseball.

Posted by Ryan at 03:53 PM | Comments (0)

I'm An Easter Hobo Ever

I'm An Easter Hobo

Ever since my parents started teaching in Tokyo, oh those many years back, back, waayyyyy back. It might be! It could be! It IS! Excuse me, I was channeling my inner Harry Carey for a moment there. Anyway, my parents have been teaching in Tokyo now for over a decade, so many of the traditional holidays enjoyed by most families have been on hold for the past 10 years or so.

Although my family always manages to celebrate some measure of Christmas, whether here in Minnesota or meeting halfway in Hawaii, most of the other family get togethers, such as Thanksgiving, Easter, President's Day and Yom Kippur, are just days on the calendar that come and go with little or no fanfare. And I've always been totally fine with this. I don't really miss all the fuss and preparation that goes into a big holiday observance.

Still, come Thanksgiving, or Easter, people, for whatever reason, feel they must take pity on me. I'm not sure why they do this, exactly, but as a holiday approaches, friends and members of my more extended family start calling me, asking me to attend their celebrations. This is by no means a complaint. It gives me warm fuzzies to know that people are actually concerned about my holiday well-being. Plus, the chance for a free meal is always greatly appreciated.

I did two Easters this year; one with my cousin a week ago, and one with a hometown family that I practically grew up with as a young-un. Although, to be honest, the second "Easter," was mostly an invitation by my friend to come over and play Nintendo 64 games, which was just fine, I guess.

My childhood friend, B.J. (hold the felatio jokes, please), is now a husband and father of a three year old girl, Bailey. Bailey in at that tender age where cartoons can transfix her attention for many consecutive hours, no matter how bad the cartoons may be. Yesterday, the Easter Bunny gave Bailey a tape of collected cartoons from, oh, I'm guessing 1923 or so. All of the cartoons were supposed to have an Easter theme, but I'm here to tell you that any thread connecting these cartoons to Easter were tenuous at best.

I think the cartoons just barely pre-dated the emergence of Bugs Bunny. They consisted of silly animations complemented with a scratchy background musical score heavy on the flutes. Any dialog spoken by the characters was limited to a short line, maybe two ("It's time for spring!"), and some of the lessons being projected to children were frightening, to say the least.

During one cartoon, two love birds get separated in a big city, presumably New York, during a great blizzard. Eventually, the female bird, cold and miserable, and without hope, decides to throw herself off a skyscraper in despair. She even makes sure to tie her wings to her side so she can't change her mind in mid-plummet. Now, it was at this point that I had to wonder what Bailey was thinking about all of this. Suicide?! How does a three year old girl digest the concept of suicide?! I looked at B.J., who was nervously glancing over at his daughter, no doubt dreading the flurry of questions boiling within Bailey's fertile little mind.

The bird jumps, and she falls through the air at a rapid pace, until suddendly. . . she lands on the her lost lover bird, who was warming himself below on a discarded cigar butt. Forget the fact that she landed directly on his head, with her own head, a collision that would, in the real world, result in a spray of feather and brain. Such a nightmare scenario did not play out. Rather, the two birds shake away a few stars that are circling around their noggins, stare at each other for a moment before realizing they had found each other, and then they hug and kiss and the next scene shows them living in a birdhouse somewhere in the Caribbean. The moral: who fucking knows? All that I know for certain is that Bailey is likely scarred for life.

Posted by Ryan at 10:54 AM | Comments (0)

April 18, 2003

Analyze This, That, And The

Analyze This, That, And The Other Thing

Last night I dreamed I had a cat named October. It was an all black cat with orange, yes orange, eyes. I remember thinking it looked really creepy with orange eyes, so I named it October (Halloween, don't you know).

Suddenly, I found myself at my grandmother's place up north, only it wasn't her house, yet I strangely enough knew my way perfectly around the place. Melissa was with me, and the whole family was making a big fuss over her.

Then, the scene shifted to a huge dinner table, where everyone was sitting, including my Grandpa, who died two Septembers ago. It didn't dawn on me that grandpa was actually dead until I noticed that he was blowing spit bubbles out of the side of his mouth while he ate. Grandpa never did that (actually, no one I know does that). That's when I remembered that grandpa was actually dead, so I decided that grandma must have met another man that looked remarkably like him. An imposter.

Flash to the next scene: I'm outside playing with October, when suddenly his tail falls off. I try to re-attach the tail, and initially I'm successful, but it falls off again a little while later. October gets suddenly pissed at the world and starts going all Pet Cemetery on me, his eyes glowing orange as he digs his claws deep into my arm, hissing the whole time. I manage to get the deranged cat off my arm and throw him as far as I can away from me, and then I dash into the house to safety.

October then keeps everyone inside the house by patrolling the outside, occasionally jumping up against a window and banging up against the door. I mean, this was one pissed off cat. Shortly before I awoke, I had another scene change, with Melissa and I driving home from my grandmother's (which, in my head, was a nine hour drive, which it isn't), and I was struck by a big realization that the cat was an analogy for Saddam Hussein. Then I woke up.

Anyone want to take a stab at dream analysis on this one?



Posted by Ryan at 03:45 PM | Comments (0)

A New Approach To Fitness

A New Approach To Fitness

I could, I suppose, join a nice health club where they have big, expensive equipment, and water fountains are plentiful. I could do that, but I'm deeply afraid I may end up accidentally enrolling in one of those newfangled dominatrix fitness centers.

According to an April 16 Reuters news article out of New York, Students at "Slavercise," a class in New York combining sadomasochism and exercise, get a physical workout by 'submitting' to the orders and whims of a dominatrix named Mistress Victoria.

I can just imagine myself unwittingly walking into such a place, you know, just to check things out, when suddenly I find myself being physically beaten and told to run in place and do jumping jacks, or else. . .

She orders the class around with a riding crop, dangerously pointed stiletto heels and, naturally, a dominating manner.

"If you don't keep up, you get punished," she warned her students at a recent class, which she oversaw with a nonstop string of insults and orders. "I don't want to hear any whimpering. You're here to suffer. I expect complete obedience, or I'll give you a good spanking. Do what I tell you to do. I don't care if it hurts."

Maybe I'm just being old fashioned here, but such an exercise routine simply doesn't sound like that much fun to me. It's hard enough to maintain a good pace during a five mile run without a woman chasing after me with a riding crop and pointed heels.

Clad in face masks, dog collars, rubber suits and other sartorial S&M paraphernalia, Mistress Victoria's students run through the exercise regimen, knowing any slacking off will bring her wrath down upon them.

You know, given a choice, I think I'll take my chances with my current exercise regimen. That Mistress Victoria just sounds kind of mean.

Posted by Ryan at 11:16 AM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2003

Operation "Iraqi Nickname" Underway Complex

Operation "Iraqi Nickname" Underway
Complex Arabic Names Too Tough To Remember

WASHINGTON D.C. (Rhodes Media Services) -- Responding to repeated requests from coalition commanders in Iraq, the Pentagon today launched Operation "Iraqi Nickname" so forces on the ground can better identify top Ba'ath party leaders without having to remember difficult and long Arabic names.

According to anonymous sources, "Iraqi Nickname" has actually been in operation for some time, but it was only enforced in some of the more obvious cases. General Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known as "Chemical Ali," was one of the first individuals to be tartgeted by the operation, followed quickly by Muhammed Saeed Al-Sahaaf, now better known as "Baghdad Bob." Rihab Taha, now known as "Dr. Germ", was the most recently targeted individual.

"When you think about it, correctly pronouncing -- hell, remembering -- all those long Arabic names is probably more difficult than actually fighting a war," said U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. "You should see the whiteboard in my office. It's covered with all these crazy names I can't even begin to remember, like Iraq's Minister of Agriculture, Abdallah Hamid Mahmud al. . .whatever. It's just easier to call him 'Abby the Farmer.' I, for one, can definitely say this has made my job a whole hell of a lot easier."

According to an updated list of targeted Ba'ath leadership, other renamed individuals include the former Iraqi defense minister, Lt. Gen Sultan Hashim Ahmad al-Jabburi Tai, now known as "General Tai Food," the former finance minister, Hikmat Mizban Ibrahim al-Azzawi, now known as "Money Man Mizban," and the former minister of oil, Amir Rashid Muhammad al-Ubaydi, now known as "Jed Clampett Amir."

Posted by Ryan at 04:49 PM | Comments (0)

Time For toilet Talk I

Time For toilet Talk

I recently saw a commercial that asked the pressing question: "Do you know what is going on in your toilet tank?"

Well, no, not really. A party? A U.N. meeting? Somebody, please tell me what is going on in my toilet tank!

I probably don't spend enough time adequately worrying about my toilet. Granted, I'll clean it when it's dirty, and by dirty I mean it has given rise to eight new distinct life forms. But, overall, my toilet isn't generally a great source of worry for me. I use it for its designed purpose, and then I move on to other things.

However, the commercial I saw really got me thinking about toilets and the many available ways to clean them. It had never before registered to me just how wonderfully hysterical toilet cleansing advertising actually is. I mean, there are a LOT of toilet cleaners on the market, and each one has to distinguish itself from the competition. How many possible ways are there to distinguish yourself as THE toilet cleaning solution?

I have to hand it to toilet Duck, because they've been able to combine toilet cleaning with an adorable quacking duck. They make toilet cleaning seem almost cute. I remember one of the first toilet Duck commercials. It featured a computer generated animated rubber duck with a big smile on its bill. The duck quacked enthusiastically as it whirled around the toilet bowl. Quack, quack! Now THAT'S advertising!

Of course, this post was just to re-establish my love of potty talk. I'm so hopeless.

Posted by Ryan at 11:31 AM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2003

I Broke A Tooth Tonight,

I Broke A Tooth Tonight, But It Wasn't Mine

I'm feeling strangely shitty right now, not that I should, because nothing that happened tonight was really my fault. In short, I broke the right front tooth of a high school girl tonight. Only, I didn't REALLY break her tooth, fate did, but I was fate's accomplice.

Of course, this was a hapkido incident, which is the root cause of pretty much every minor injury I've sustained for the last three years, from bruises to strains to sprains to groin kicks. But this was the first time I was partially responsible for another person's injury, even though, as I keep stressing to myself, it wasn't my fault at all. Small comfort, that.

Britta is a 17 year old sprite with an insane amount of athletic ability, and a sharp intellect that holds a bright future for her no matter what she decides to do. I like working out with her, because she's flexible as silly putty and her body has the resiliancy of tank armor. Sure, I outweigh her by roughly 50 pounds, but her technique is superb. Some of my best workouts are with Britta. I guess, in retrospect, we were due for an injury just by virtue of the fact that we work out so much.

We were working defense techniques against an opponent with a stick. The sticks we use are varnished maple, I think. Whatever they are, they're hard as hell. Britta had the stick and came at me with an overhand attack. I blocked, counter punched, and threw her down with an outer reaping throw, which is more or less a violent backwards trip. Nothing out of the ordinary. We work this stuff all the time, back and forth. Britta knows how to fall without getting hurt, as do I.

She fell, and slapped her hand to cushion the blow. However, her slapping hand was also the hand that held the stick. She slapped, the stick jolted loose, and cracked her right on the mouth. It made a sound that wasn't quite right, as if it met resistance, but only a little.

She looked up with a look of surprise mixed with pain, and then she spit out a piece of tooth, then another piece, and then another. And then the blood started to flow, and I wanted to crawl under a car and wait for it to back over me. No, it wasn't my fault, but the image of Britta spilling forth tooth and blood just still makes me feel guilty somehow.

One thing is certain: fight movies just don't reflect reality. I know, that's OBVIOUS. Still, here was a situation where a foot long piece of stick, barely glancing off a tooth, with very little force, effectively chopped the tooth apart. Now, consider the movie Bloodsport, where opponents take a jump spin kick to the chops and barely suffer a split lip. Here's the deal: one punch, or one kick, or even a well placed bitch slap, can tear a human face to pieces. It really doesn't take much.

I hope Britta is all right. This really sucks.

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

Cool Runnings. No, HOT Runnings

Cool Runnings. No, HOT Runnings

Yesterday was 80 degrees. And I went running in it. Is there no end to my stupidity?

Here's the deal. Minnesotans get downright giddy with the arrival of spring. For about a month or so, we don't function as normal people. We get unusually excited when we step outside in the morning and are greeted with warm sunshine and chirping birds. It's not our fault. After months of enduring biting cold and an eerie, omnipresent silence, we just kind of lose our minds.

Therefore, when I got home from work yesterday, with the sun shining, and the birds chirping, I felt obligated to go for a run. Now the last time I ran was Thursday of last week, when the temperature was a more moderate 60 degrees or so. It should be noted that 80 degrees is considerably warmer than that. Granted, I've run in even warmer temps, but making the jump from 60 to 80 degrees was something I wasn't prepared for. You should work your way slowly into such things, rather than foolishly galloping five miles in baking heat.

I'm building up to something that is actually anticlimactic. Yes, I went for an ill-advised five mile trek in unseasonably high temps, but I didn't die or anything. Mostly, I did a lot of sweating. Tons of sweating. Ridiculous amounts of sweating. Sure, the girls in my hapkido class call me "Puddles" for a reason, but I have NEVER had that much sweat pour from my pores before. It was INSANE. And, being that it's early in the season, none of the water fountains in the city have been turned on yet, and I wasn't carrying any money with me to buy water, so I just kind of had to suffer my way back home. Oh, man, did I want water.

And let me just state for the record that, when you're really thirsty, and I mean Sahara throat thirsty, there's nothing worse than water that's too damned cold. I grabbed my water bottle from the fridge and started drinking deeply, only to have the ice cold water actually hurt on its way down. My whole head hurt, a pounding, deperate hurt that originated deep within my skull. But, I couldn't stop drinking water, because my body simply demanded it. So, it was an Id battle between my head and body, and my body kept winning, only because my body is so much bigger than my head.

ME: Oh my God my head hurts! *glug, glug, glug* I can't stand the pain! *glug, glug, glug* I think my skull is about to crack open! *glug, glug, glug*

Eventually, I was able to re-hydrate myself, at the expense of roughly eight million brain cells, and I just kind of balled myself up on my bed, whimpering ever so slightly as the throbbing pain in my head subsided.

On a totally unrelated note, a friend of mine, Lisa (who introduced Melissa and me, so I'm obligated to like her despite strong reasons not to), is going to Maui in June, and she's preparing for the trip by tanning. I don't understand the whole tanning thing. Why do people feel they have to tan? I don't think tanned people look any better or worse than non-tanned people. In fact, in Minnesota, if you're tanned, I usually just assume you're a materialistic, superficial fuckwad with nothing better to do than obsess about your looks. Not that Lisa is a materialistic fuckwad or anything, but tanning just strikes me as a total and complete waste of time and money.

Of course, I'm naturally a smoking hot specimen of male hunkiness, so my opinion on tanning may be tainted by that. But, anyway. I've been to Maui many times, including just last Christmas, and I'm here to tell you that people on Maui don't give a flying fuck whether you're tan or not, and they don't care if you're 8,000 pounds or 80 pounds. Mostly, the people on Maui are interested in soaking up as much paradise as they can. What fun is a vacation if you're worrying about how you look? Especially when, by the very act of worrying how you look, you end up looking materialistic and superficial, if not downright silly. Just my opinion.

Posted by Ryan at 12:15 PM | Comments (0)

Now Let's Get This Part

Now Let's Get This Part Right

By most estimations, the fighting in Iraq is pretty much over. One month, one fallen dictator, one liberated people. A pretty good scorecard by any measure.

Now comes the tricky future.

The naysayers, of course, are already saying "nay," which is to be expected from critics who can't see beyond their own small world. To them, everything that happens, has happened, and will happen, will simply lead to several more 9/11s. They're so scared of the world, they see disaster around every corner. To them, terrorists are everywhere and we shouldn't provoke them further. They can't see the big picture. They see only themselves, and not the smiling, jubilant people that have been liberated. They see the looting, not the hope. They are, in a word, pathetic.

As the war winds down, we look to the rebuilding process, a process that will undoubtably be more fascinating than the war itself, but will undoubtably be given only passing notice by a media still drunk on the drama of war. But, the rebuilding is the most important part, rebuilding not only structures, but trust. Trust in the U.S., trust in the West, trust in a world that has turned a blind eye to their suffering for a quarter of a century. No small task, that. But, I think we're up to the challenge.

Again, it won't be easy. There are so many Islamic religious sects in Iraq, particularly the Sunni and Shia, that deep schisms are only to be expected. Whether those sects can put aside their petty bickering in order to preserve their nation, and repair their national pride, remains to be seen. But, elections, true elections, where candidates don't automatically run unopposed and garner 100% of the vote, is an incredible step forward.

The Iraqi transformation will likely be lost to much of the rest of the Islamic world, a world that is so mired in its own propaganda there are those that honestly believe that the invasion of Iraq was meant to coincide with a Jewish holiday, apparently forgetting that Judaism has so many holidays you can't randomly point at a calendar without hitting one. Hate runs deep in the Islamic world, with 99.99 percent of that hate being focused on the nation of Israel. It's a conditioned response, really, stemming from a history of hearing their religious and political leaders blaming the woes of the people, their poverty and their hopelessness, on the Zionist nation that has the audacity to cling, rightously and legally, so tenaciously to the Holy land.

Hopefully, we can start to change that in Iraq. Hopefully, while rebuilding that country, and helping it to actually prosper, we can also help the people shed some of their hateful shackles. No, it won't be easy, but nothing so incredibly worthwhile ever is.

UPDATE: And this guy got everything soooo right.

UPDATE: So did this guy.

Posted by Ryan at 10:24 AM | Comments (0)

April 14, 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, And Again, And 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 03:32 PM | Comments (0)

L.A. To Re-establish Looting Supremacy

L.A. To Re-establish Looting Supremacy
City Determined to Put Iraqi Looters in Their Place

Los Angeles, Calif (Rhodes Media Services) -- Reacting to the widespread looting occuring in Iraqi cities as the Saddam Hussein regime is swept away by coaltion forces, neighborhood leaders in Los Angeles today were rallying citizens to rise up and retake their position as the undisputed champions of the art of looting.

Veterans of past L.A. looting riots were outspoken in their criticism of Iraqi looting methods, calling them amateurish and lacking focus. Lawrence Whitmore, who "scored" a new color television, three pairs of pants, and five pairs of Nike Airs during the riots following the Rodney King verdict, scoffed when he saw liberated Iraqis making off with chairs and sinks.

"That shit is just weak," said Whitmore. "When the time and events present themselves like that, you just have to take better advantage of the situation. If I came out of a good looting rampage with only a chair or a sink, I'd feel pretty damned silly. If that was me, I would have had a list written up ahead of time so I could pounce as soon as the U.S. came into the city. You gotta grab the electronic stuff first. That's key. From there, you go after clothes, really good clothes. You can't waste time going after sinks. That's just stupid."

Although there has been no set time for when L.A. plans on retaking its looting crown, sources say that any minor small victory by any L.A. team would be sufficient fuel for a good looting endeavor.

Posted by Ryan at 01:43 PM | Comments (0)

To Boldly Go Where Bold

To Boldly Go Where Bold People Go

I'm a chickenshit on rollerblades. I'm not sure why, exactly, but I am.

Melissa loves to rollerblade, so I, as a good boyfriend, decided to take up the maddening pastime. I mean, it seems easy enough. You take roller skating and combine it with ice skating. How hard can it be? Pretty damned hard, let me tell you.

I actually bought my own pair of rollerblades when Mel and I first started dating last fall, an expensive purchase that left me wondering why I should even bother dating in the first place. Mel suggested I buy a brand called K2, which frankly sounded like a new brand of dog food to me, but I bought them anyway. They cost about $300. I had never before spent that much money for something that goes on my feet. I'll easily pony up the dough for a better brand of beer, but footwear has always been something that I don't normally spend vast amounts of money on. They're just feet, after all. Why fucking bother?

I like to think that I was getting better with rollerblades before I put them away for the winter. I like to think that because I like to think I'm great at everything. But, I'm not great on rollerblades. I'm not even good on rollerblades. I'm not even all that fair on rollerblades. fuck it. I suck on rollerblades.

It's frustrating, really, because here I am, a guy who can hold a perfect side-kick for five minutes, balancing on one foot. But, put me on a pair of rollerblades, and I immediately look like a newborn calf trying to stand for the first time. I'll strap them on, stand up, and suddenly I'm frantically waving my arms as if I'm trying to fly and, quite frankly, there's a better chance that I'll eventually take wing than of me becoming good on rollerblades.

To be truthful, rollerblading isn't all that difficult. Gravity pretty much does all the work for you. If you aim yourself down a hill, the wheels will do most of the work. I may not look all that graceful doing it, but I guess it's considered rollerblading. The trick for me, and by trick I mean the impossible part, is stopping. I just CAN'T stop. I have literally jumped into a grassy lawn to stop myself from rolling down steep hills.

The rollerblade stopping mechanism consists of what amounts to an eraser stuck to the back of one blade. Theoretically, you stop by pushing down your heel on the eraser. Only, you don't stop. You just halt yourself from going any faster, with the added benefit of putting yourself even more off balance than you were previously. The heel eraser braking method does not work. It is simply an evil myth put forth by the makers of rollerblades so they can make their product sound as if it's safe. I have left long black eraser streaks down a hill 3/4 of a mile long, and I never even come close to stopping.

Instead, I've adopted a stopping method by which I drag one blade behind the other. This is only slightly more effective than the heel brake, with the added benefit of totally losing my balance while at the same time grinding my wheels down to the size of Matchbox car wheels. Plus, after dragging my blade behind me for 3/4 of a mile, I still haven't stopped. So, it's truly a brilliant method.

Aside from the difficulties, I do enjoy rollerblading, even though I'm resigned to the fact that I'll eventually fall down, hit my head, and lapse into a coma for seven years. It's a fun way to get around, and it is great exercise, particularly when I'm trying to go up a hill the size of Everest.

But I sure wish I could learn how to stop. That would be sweet.

UPDATE: Layne hasn't disappeared or anything. She's just doing some sort of blog spring cleaning. I think she changes her blog more than her underwear, but that's just a guess. Mmmmmmm, Layne's underwear. *grgglgllgggllgl*

UPDATE: Amish Tech Support has moved. Don't miss it. His blog is so cool, particularly his comment engine.

UPDATE: For those of you who can't get enough war coverage, you simply MUST bookmark the Command Post. It has been my bread and butter since Day 1. You also can't top the Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds, for timely news with a dash of humor. Yes, Glenn Reynolds, the man, the myth, MOAB (Master Of All Bloggers).

Posted by Ryan at 12:07 PM | Comments (0)

Layne. Plain Layne. Where Are

Layne. Plain Layne. Where Are you?

Posted by Ryan at 12:40 AM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2003

Seek Here And You Shall

Seek Here And You Shall Find (Or Not)

To the person who came to my site searching for "Visine+diarrhea+deadly," I have to tell you that you may be using the product incorrectly.

To the person who came to my site searching for "Women+Without+Clot," I hope I never find out what that means.

To the person who came to my site searching for "where+can+i+rate+naked+people," I only ask, if you find the answer, you inform me immediately.

To the person who came to my site searching for "squashing+remove+misdemeanor+from+record," I would just like to know where, exactly, "squashing" is considered a misdemeanor.

To the person who came to my site searching for "candid+thongs+exposed," I can assure you that, since 1/3 of my visitors come here searching for "exposed+thongs," there are many in the world who share your strange fetish.

To the person who came to my site searching for "toad+licking," I can only say that your path in life has gone horribly astray.

To the person who came to my site searching for "spanking+my+mother," your mother had better have done something REALLY bad.

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

April 10, 2003

Gone, But Not Forgotten For

Gone, But Not Forgotten

For a limited time, you can enjoy Baghdad Bob's famous hit song.

Or, you can put together your own Baghdad Bob press briefing.

Finally, if you simply need to nurse some nostalgia for Comical Ali as he's also known, visit his fan site.

Posted by Ryan at 05:02 PM | Comments (0)

Spring Spending Why does it

Spring Spending

Why does it always seem that spring turns out to be the most expensive time of year. Every year, without fail, my car decides that it's going to fail in a variety of ways, and because it's a Cadillac, the failures translate into big sized dollar amounts to get fixed. Last weekend, I brought it in for an oil change and to have the brakes looked at. For some time now, when braking, I noticed that it felt like I was driving over a stack of human bodies. It shouldn't feel like that. It should be smooth.

Turns out, the brake pads were no longer brake pads, and the brakes themselves were very nearly no longer brakes. Price tag: $168. I was also informed that I'm in need of new tires. Not just one or two tires, mind you, but a whole new set of four. I don't want to do that, but neither do I want to hydroplane into a lamp post. I shudder to think of the price tag on four new tires.

Also, the climate control is all out of whack. According to the digital temperature guage, it was 127 degrees outside this morning. That's not right. That's not even close to right. Now, I could live with an incorrect outside temperature reading. I mean, that's a convenience that I could care less about. Unfortunately, the thermostat also misreads the temperature INSIDE the vehicle. Therefore, the heating and air conditioning don't know what the hell is going on. Because it "thinks" it's 127 degrees outside, if I tell it to cool my car down to, say, 75, it cranks out enough cold air to freeze my sperm in an instant. Likewise, if I want a little heat, the confused machine calls forth the flames of the seventh circle of hell. It's a delicate balancing act to keep my car at a comfortable temperature between hypothermia and third degree burns.

I read the car manual so I can find out if a messed up thermostat can be repaired cheaply. I know, it was a foolish gesture. The manual said that faulty thermostats will have to be replaced, and that I should only entrust the thermostat replacement to a certified GM professional. That's Cadillac lingo for "this is fucking gonna cost you."

I like my Cadillac. It's a '96 Eldorado, and it's pretty sporty for a Caddy. It's more comfortable than all the furniture I own, and it's reliable as hell the rest of the year. But, it just gets tired come spring, as if it's saying, "Look, I got you through the winter in one piece. How about a little TLC." I'll provide the TLC. I just wish it didn't cost so much. Cadillac repair shops are the high priced call girls of the automobile world. And I'm about to get royally screwed.

Posted by Ryan at 04:00 PM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2003

Protest THIS Spare me your

Protest THIS

Spare me your laments about about Iraqi civilian and soldier deaths. In fact, spare me any anti-war whining rhetoric. I can't hear it any more. If you honestly believe that the Iraqi people, as a whole, preferred a 24 year reign of terror and oppression to a one month war, you live in a world far removed from reality.

What I saw today was an Iraqi spirit that was able to breathe free for the first time in over two decades, a spirit was more than willing to accommodate, and even cheer, a U.S. military force on their soil, because their presence meant that they could live again. If you think a regime that supports a prison system established specifically for the torture of children, and a regime that tortures Olympic athletes, is acceptable over a precision air assault and smash mouth ground offensive meant to sweep away that regime, you're probably six degrees of separation below stupid.

Meaningless inspections wouldn't have toppled that ridiculous statue of Saddam. Only force could do that. In the end, it seemed appropriate that the Iraqi civilians couldn't bring the statue down themselves, they needed U.S. help to do it, just as they could never have overthrown Hussein's regime without a massive amount of U.S. assistance.

Is this what you were protesting? If so, shut up. You're wasting air when you speak.

Al Queda could never have seen this coming in the wake of their "great victory" on 9/11. In less than two years, two regimes known to sympathize and harbor terrorists have been overwhelmingly overrun. In the wake of this display of military might in Iraq, other nations supporting terrorism are surely quaking in their boots and are rethinking their dangerous alliances with terrorist groups. 9/11, though a national tragedy for the U.S., has become al Queda's worst nightmare. We're not the America they thought we were, we're not an America that, when struck, packs up our military toys and goes home. That's what they thought the U.S. was all about. Kill a few soldiers and parade them around on television, and we'll retreat without further fight. They're learning that we do, indeed, fight. And we fight hard, and fast, and a whole hell of a lot better than they do.

Pause now, and consider that coalition forces accomplished all of this in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and they fought restrained tactics. This has been a show of military might with our best and strongest cards still being held. Jeez! Imagine what we could do if our goal wasn't liberation. Imagine what we could do if we really were pissed.

UPDATE: An e-mailer just noted that it wasn't worth the death and destruction just to see a statue fall. To you, I say, you're a fool. Would you die and kill for the freedoms we enjoy? Would you die and kill so others can enjoy them? If you answer no, then you're not worthy of those freedoms. Freedom isn't simply an American right, it's a human right, and we just enforced it.

UPDATE: Another e-mail (jeez, people, the comment engine is RIGHT THERE). "Are you done gloating now?" You know what? No, I'm not done gloating. I'm so fucking piss ass happy right now, clowns are about to fly out of my ass. Every time I see the Iraqi people dancing and taking vengeance on Saddam's images, I get that much more happy. Enjoy it. Savor it. Feel this monumental shift in history and celebrate it. And, most of all, remind those pacifist milquetoast whiners that, yes, sometimes war, even a pre-emptive war, is not only justified, but morally right.

UPDATE: But, why subject you to my joyous gloating when you can simply go here.

Posted by Ryan at 12:41 PM | Comments (0)

April 08, 2003

You Got That Right My

You Got That Right

My thoughts exactly.

Posted by Ryan at 01:56 PM | Comments (0)

My Own Misinformation Minister As

My Own Misinformation Minister

As if I wasn't already a news-aholic, this war with Iraq has turned me into a news junkie of the highest order. By the end of the war, I'll be a stick-thin, pasty skinned Gollum living in an abandoned house, desperately trying to dial a broken down computer into the Internet just so I can get "one. . .last. . .news. . .fix."

What I find fascinating about the war coverage is the different flavors of bias I read from the competing news agencies, from Fox News (motto: We're So Right Wing, We Fly In Circles), to Reuters (motto: The U.S. Does Everything Wrong, And We Report It), to Al-Jazeera (motto: We Don't Have a Motto, Because That's An Infidel Term). But, I digest it all, and I can usually piece together a comfortable middle ground analysis. Such is the state of the mass media today that you have to become your own news editor.

Of all the war spin being dished out, however, it's tough to beat the statements that spew forth from the Iraqi Minister of Information, who is being referred to more and more as "Baghdad Bob." Actually, his real name is Mohammed Sahid Al Saha, which, loosely translated, means "A Big, Steaming Pile of Saha."

Now, to put it mildly, Baghdad Bob's take on the war is. . .fanciful. The guy could be shoved down the barrel of a coalition cannon and he would say, without hesitation, that he had single-handedly taken over an entire U.S. armored division. I have to hand it to the guy for his "glass is half full" outlook on life.

As an example, when coalition forces took control of Saddam International Airport (now Baghdad International Airport), and strongly fortified their hold on the facility, Baghdad Bob issued a statement that roughly resembled the following:

"The American pig dog losers have not taken the airport named after our beloved Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, may we all love him and hold him in our hearts. Republican Guard forces have smashed the Americans! Americans trying to enter Baghdad are being torn apart like a toothbrush in the mouth of a rabid pit bull!"

Now, although I have yet to regard Baghdad Bob's statements with anything besides huge bouts of laughter, I have to admit that his fanatical denial of reality would really be useful in every day existence. I, for one, wouldn't mind having a personal misinformation minister following me around all day, putting a positive spin on my life.

REALITY: I live in a basement apartment that consists of furnishings that could all be dismantled with a screwdriver in about 10 minutes.

MISINFORMATION MINISTER: Ryan Rhodes lives in a palatial estate! His 32 room home is decorated with the finest Persian rugs and medieval tapestries! His plush furnishings rival those owned by the sultans of yore! His heated Olympic sized hot tub (yes, there are Olympic hot tubs!) is tended by scantily clad members of the U.S. women's soccer team!

REALITY: I shave my head, because a cruel genetic joke dictated that I should start losing my hair at the age of 21, and I feel that I'm simply beating genetics at its own game by running a razor over my cranium daily. To counterbalance this effect, I have so much body hair it looks like a litter of kittens is sleeping on my chest.

MISINFORMATION MINISTER: Ryan Rhodes is a smoking hot specimen of male hunkiness! Women swoon at his godlike feet! His great, wonderful, intelligent and perfect-shaped head gleams forth with a shining radiance not seen since the sun first came into being! Such a cranium should not be covered by hair! Nay, it should be exposed and adored by all! Ryan's broad, strapping, muscular chest is insulated by many natural interwoven silken strands that warm his mighty heart!

REALITY: I shot myself in the foot with a B.B. gun in 9th grade. I almost killed myself when I blew up a grenade in my back yard when I was 21. I have probably unknowingly almost killed myself more times than I can possibly imagine.

MISINFORMATION MINISTER: Ryan Rhodes laughs in the face of death! The Grim Reaper cowers before him, knowing that the great and wonderful Ryan will only die at a time and a place of his choosing! Mountains will crumble and nations will fall before Ryan Rhodes succumbs to the passage of time!

Posted by Ryan at 11:42 AM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2003

Jumping On The Monty Python

Jumping On The Monty Python Bandwagon

There have been some great parallels drawn between the classic scenes in Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail and the current War in Iraq. Although I run the risk of this probably already having been done, I like to think this particular bit of parody to be an original Ryan Rhodes concept. If not, my apologies to whoever beat me to it:


Bravely bold Sir Saddam
Brought forth from Baghdad.
He was not afraid to die,
Oh, brave Sir Saddam!
He was not at all afraid to be killed in nasty ways.
Brave, brave, brave Sir Saddam.

He was not in the least bit scared to be mashed into a pulp.
Or to have his eyes gouged out, and his elbows broken!
To have his kneecaps split, and his body burned away
And his limbs all hacked and mangled, brave Sir Saddam.

His head smashed in and his heart cut out,
And his liver removed and his bowls unplugged,
And his nostrils raked and his bottom burnt off,
And his penis--

Saddam (interrupting): That's...That's, uh... That's enough music for now, lads. It looks like there's Democratic work afoot.

UNITED NATIONS: Halt! Who art thou?

MINSTREL: He is brave Sir Saddam, brave Sir Saddam, who ...

Saddam (to MINSTRELS): Shut up. Oh, nobody really. just passing through.

UNITED NATIONS: What do you want?

MINSTREL: To fight and ...

Saddam: Shut up. Nothing really. just to pass through, good United Nations.

UNITED NATIONS: I'm afraid not. This is my bit of the free world. Find your own bit.

Saddam: I am the leader of Iraq. I seek weapons of mass destructions. Stand aside and let me pass.

UNITED NATIONS: You are the leader of Iraq?

Saddam: I am.

*From now on the UNITED NATIONS speak individually*


UNITED STATES: In that case I shall have to kill you.


GERMANY: Oh, I don't think so.

FRANCE: I'm not sure.

UNITED STATES (to BRITAIN): What do I think?

BRITAIN: I think kill him.

FRANCE: I'm still not sure.

UNITED STATES: All right. How many of me think I should kill him?



GERMANY: That's not a quorum.

UNITED STATES: It is if I'm the Chairman.

GERMANY: Oo, it's not.

FRANCE: I'm the Chairman this week.

UNITED STATES: You're not.

BRITAIN: Look, it'll make it much simpler if I vote with me.

UNITED STATES: To kill him.


FRANCE: (tuts) Oh, damn.

UNITED STATES: (to SIR Saddam): Knight, I have decided to kill you.

FRANCE: With one absenting.

UNITED STATES: Knight, I have decided to kill you with one absenting.

BRITAIN (to SIR Saddam): Sorry about this but I have to be fair.

Saddam: Oh, that's all right. So you are going to kill me with your big missiles?

UNITED STATES: Er no, with my entire military might.

FRANCE: Resolutions.

BRITAIN: Missiles are quicker.

UNITED STATES: No, no, entire military might, it's easier.

GERMANY: He said missiles.

Saddam: Look, hurry up you bureaucratic monolith, or I shall develop nuclear weapons and use them on you..

UNITED STATES: (to SIR Saddam, referring to FRANCE): For God's sake, nuke that one, and do us all a favour.

FRANCE: What do you mean?

UNITED STATES: Yapping on all the time.

FRANCE: You're lucky, you're not next to him.

BRITAIN: What do you mean?

FRANCE: You snore.

BRITAIN: Oo, lies. Anyway, you've got bad breath.

FRANCE: (aspirating heavily): I haven't.

*Both BRITAIN and FRANCE turn away slightly, making faces*

FRANCE: It's not my fault. It's what you eat.

UNITED STATES: Look, stop this bitching. We've got a Saddam to kill.

BRITAIN: He's buggered off.

UNITED STATES: So he has. He's scarpered.

BRITAIN: That's all your fault.

FRANCE: No, it's not.

BRITAIN (swipes at FRANCE): Take that.


BRITAIN: I'm sorry.

UNITED STATES: 'Ere, stop it. I'll teach you.

*The UNITED NATIONS starts laying into itself with resolutions and rhetoric, while the NATIONS argue and shout with pain.*

MINSTREL: Brave Sir Saddam ran away.

Saddam: No!

MINSTREL: Bravely ran away away....

Saddam: I didn't!

MINSTREL: When Danger reared its ugly head, he bravely turned his tail and fled.

Saddam: No!!

MINSTREL: Yes brave Sir Saddam turned about

Saddam: I didn't!

MINSTREL: And gallantly chickened out..

Saddam: I never did!

MINSTREL: Bravely bravely bravely bravely

Saddam: All lies!

MINSTREL: Bravely bravely brave Sir Saddam

Saddam: All lies!

UPDATE: Where is Robert Fisk when this shit is happening?

Posted by Ryan at 03:35 PM | Comments (0)

Let's Get Readyyyyyy to Rumble!

Let's Get Readyyyyyy to Rumble!

Mel and I had our first big fight this weekend, and like most fights, it was over something just incredibly stupid.

Friday night brought an April snowstorm, complete with huge, wet, sloppy flakes, slick roads, and treacherous conditions. And Mel thought she would drive to Rochester in the maelstrom. This did not set well with the worried boyfriend. I told her to quit being so stupid, and to stop putting herself and the other stupid motorists at risk. But, she pressed on. After an hour and a half of battling the elements, she had traversed only about 20 miles.

"Stop being so stubborn and stupid," I told her over her cell phone. "This is so fucking pointless!"

"But, I just want to see you, and I don't want to turn around after being on the road for an hour-and-a-half," she explained.

"Listen, I can't stop you from doing this, but I will tell you right now that I'll be blindingly pissed if you drive down her tonight," I said, and I meant it.

Two hours later, sick with worry, and after two unanswered calls (she didn't hear it ringing), she called and told me she made it to Rochester. She wanted to come over right away. But, I was so blindingly pissed off, I didn't want to see her, so I told her to got to her mom's, or her dad's, or anywhere, but don't dare darken my doorstep. She protested, apparently unable to understand why I was so mad.

I didn't want to see her. I couldn't imagine seeing her. She had so totally thrown common sense and safety to the side that I just sat in dark rage. Rage because I had to worry over her for such a pointless reason. I wanted to be away from her. Far away from her. I didn't want even the possibility of seeing her.

I waited until the snow let up, and I drove around to assess road conditions. Then, I decided to drive down to my hometown, putting distance between myself and Mel. I called her and told her that I was going, but I got her voice mail and decided that would have to suffice. In other words, in my pissed off state, I went and did exactly the same thing that pissed me off so bad in the first place; I drove in shitty road conditions. Actually, the roads were pretty decent by the time I took off, but the hypocrisy of my decision still stings me.

Mel was not pleased, and I suppose that was my intention all along. She came down to Rochester to be with me, so I turned the tables and drove away from her. One of those stupid relationship games that I hate playing but get sucked into regardless.

"You're so fucking selfish," she yelled at me via phone. "I can't believe you did this! Thanks for ruining MY weekend!"

The stark irony of her calling me selfish while at the same time ruining HER weekend just served to piss me off all over again. This was simply a battle of wills. Her selfishness versus mine. Her stubborness versus my own. And when it comes to selfishness and stubborness, Mel and I are just too equally matched.

Come Saturday, I was fine. I was ready to put the whole thing behind me. Mel was not. She yowled and howled at me, crying occasionally, occasionally calling me foul names. Thus, Ryan's anger level started rising again, and I didn't want to see her again. I mean, who wants to see someone when you're both just incredibly pissed at one another? Gee, that's quality time. I told her I was staying in Harmony, and she could stay in Rochester, and she started crying and asked why I didn't want to see her, and I told her she already knew the answer to that.

See? Just totally stupid. We were both wrong. We were both totally wrong. But we both weren't going to admit it. And so the game played on.

Come Sunday, I decided it was time to conduct damage control. We had by that time forgiven each other via phone, but she was still hurt. So, I drove from Harmony to the cities, surprising her (even though I left a message saying I was coming up. She never checks her messages). What followed was a lot of make-up sex, which is always just really great sex. During make-up sex, it's like you just try harder, or enjoy it more, or whatever. It's just really good sex.

We didn't mention the fight. We just both knew we were wrong and that it was just best to move past the whole dumb deal.

It was just so fucking stupid.

Posted by Ryan at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2003

No Sir, I'm Not Buying

No Sir, I'm Not Buying It

According to this article, found via The Command Post, the man televised walking among the throngs of adoring Iraqis today really, truly, honestly was Saddam Hussein. Nope. I'm not buying it. That man is dead as an Iraqi doornail. He is a char-broiled dictator, consisting of a gelatinous puddle of moustache and beret. But, let's explore the other side:

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein called the bluff of the Americans, who were of the view that he had died in a missile attack on the first day of the bombing on Baghdad, by walking on the streets of the capital on Friday evening.

I saw the footage, and I have to say that, underneath that big smile, on a face that looked suspiciously younger than the bespeckled lump of potatoes who appeared the day after he probably died, that man looked slightly spooked, as if he was a man who was really upset that genetics played such a cruel joke on him by making him look like a young Saddam Hussein. If it weren't for the armed men surrounding him, I'm pretty sure he would grab a razor and shave his moustache, his hair, and his pubes, anything so he wouldn't be marched out in public as a Saddam look-a-like.

Saddam LOOK-A-LIKE: *Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit. Keep smiling man, keep smiling. Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.*

ADORING IRAQI: We love you Saddam!! *Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit. Keep smiling man, keep smiling. Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.*

Television channels across the world broadcast video clips of the Iraqi leader walking amongst his delirious people. Western analysts appeared taken aback by Hussein's appearance in public, mingling with his people, talking to them, and at one point of time even holding aloft a child.

In short, that terrified bugger went down the list, not missing a beat, to assure the world that Saddam is alive, which he isn't. Ah, yes, holding aloft a child, a sure indicator that their leader is alive and well and virile.

IRAQI CHILD: *Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit. Don't cry, don't cry. Gotta keep from crying. Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.*

Some doubted it was Hussein, saying it might have been one of his look-alikes.

Yeah, that would be me. In Iraq, if you're male, and you allow yourself to grow a moustache, there's a 30 percent chance you're going to look like Saddam Hussein.

Lt General (retd) Kirpal Singh Randhawa, who had imparted training to Iraqi troops in the seventies, was convinced that the man shown on television networks was none other than the Iraqi president.

Um, yeah, because, you know, Saddam hasn't aged a day since the 70s. He's an Iraqi version of Dick Clark. Just a couple of weeks ago, the sorry sap they pushed in front of the camera looked like he had been dragged out of a nursing home. Now he looks about middle age as he struts amongst his people. He's dead. Dead, dead, dead, dead, dead. Finished. Finito. Done. Gone. A cooked goose. He has ceased to be.

"I recognise three of his bodyguards and they were right there with their leader. This courageous and bold move could electrify the Arab world, particularly the people of Baghdad," Randhawa told rediff.com on phone late on Friday night.

IRAQI BODYGUARD: *Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit. I'm so glad I have a gun in my hand right now. Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.*

Saddam's personal appearance in public could motivate Iraqis to even sacrifice their lives for defence of their motherland, he said. Asked why the Iraqis let the Americans easily capture Baghdad airport, Randhawa said it could have been a strategic move on their part.

Yeah, strategic, totally strategic. Like the innovative strategy of surrendering in droves and giving up huge expanses of land. Strategic like THAT. Sheesh.

"Saddam Hussein wants the Americans to fight the battle on the streets of Baghdad. He would not want to waste his tanks and armoured personnel carriers in open warfare. He would like to personally direct the battle of Baghdad," he said.

And of course, the first act of any commander about to defend a city is to practically hand the enemy a nice, big, fat international airport to serve as a command center. Apparently, Saddam is so certain of victory, he's willing to spot the coalition forces a few points, you know, just to make it interesting.

General Randhawa said that the battle for Baghdad could be one of the bloodiest in the history of modern warfare.

"I would say that the Americans and the British would lose at least a couple of thousand troops even if they skirt street-to-street battle and depend heavily on aerial bombing."

"But if they go in for street battles, the toll could be much higher," he said.

Or we could just sit tight and wait for the buses of fleeing Iraqis to continue unabated until there's no one left but a few Special Republican Guard units. Then we'll just starve them out. "The bloodiest in the history of modern warfare." Apparently the good general hasn't been keeping up on the history of modern warfare. Either that or he skipped the chapter about the siege of Stalingrad. Whatever the case, we're getting off topic here. Saddam is dead. D-E-A-D.

Of course, I could be wrong. But, nah, he's dead. Dead, dead, dead, dead, dead, dead. The man is dead.

Posted by Ryan at 04:09 PM | Comments (0)

I Need To Unplug Okay,

I Need To Unplug

Okay, I'm way too informed for my own good. The Internet has officially taken over my mind. I got this week's Time magazine a couple days ago, and I already knew everything in it. I mean, one of their stories talked about Salam Pax as if his blog is some sort of new phenomenon or something. I'm too informed. I need to take this weekend to sequester myself away from the Internet. No Internet for me. I must resist.

UPDATE: Except for porn. Porn surfing is fine.

UPDATE: It's also okay if I surf for things like THIS, just so I can laugh my ass literally off.

UPDATE: And if I hadn't read this before starting my weekend away from the Internet, I wouldn't be the better man I am at this moment.

Posted by Ryan at 02:10 PM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2003

Special Republican Guards Are People

Special Republican Guards Are People Too
Iraqi Fighters Can Do The Same Things As Everybody Else

BAGHDAD (Rhodes Media Services) -- Iraqi officials today, pressed to explain the difference between regular Republican Guard units and Special Republican Guard units, issued a strongly worded statement that said there was no distinction between the two, except that it takes just a little longer for Special Republican Guards to do some things.

"We love and value all our Republican Guard units equally," said Iraq's Minister of Education, Fahd Salim Shaqrah. "Just because our Special Republican Guards are perceived as different by some people, that does not mean they are any less human. Yes, it takes a bit longer for Special Republican Guards to carry out certain war-related tasks, but that shouldn't represent a failing or shortcoming on their part."

One Special Republican Guard individual who was interviewed, Tariq Ismal Qadiz, appeared to be in good spirits and very optimistic about the war, despite the presence of coalition forces just outside of Baghdad.

"Aliq sallah!" said Qadiz, which, roughly translated, means "Yay!"

With apologies and credits to The Onion and Crank Yankers.

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

Girlfriend Moving Madness Last weekend,

Girlfriend Moving Madness

Last weekend, I discovered that my girlfriend is insane.

Granted, I've always had my suspicions that Melissa is insane, primarily because she's dating me, but it wasn't until I helped her move into a new apartment that I realized the true depths of her insanity.

To be fair, I really didn't have to move much of anything because Mel had conducted most of the moving during the week, and my weekend moving duties mostly centered around cleaning and maintenance. Truth be told, I would rather have been involved with the manly art of furniture and box moving instead of cleaning and maintenance, but whatever.

My primary function was to put together the new furniture items she bought specifically for her new apartment, the pre-fabricated K-Mart specials that are the staple furniture pieces for people from age 18 through, roughly, age 38. I'm now 28 years old, and I've owned and constructed enough particle board furniture to furnish a small third world country. In other words, I was the right man for the job.

My first furniture construction challenge was a wine rack. Now, I had never before put together a wine rack, but now that I have a wine rack under my belt, I can truthfully state that wine should simply be stacked on the floor because that would save mankind the irritation of putting together a wine rack.

I won't bore you with the details of the wine rack construction, except to say I let fly with more expletives than most sailors can utter in a lifetime. Melissa loved the finished wine rack. She loved it so much, in fact, that she spent the next half hour painstakingly positioning kitchen appliances so as to show off the wine rack. I should note here that Mel is an interior design student, so she lives on a different planet than the rest of us.

"I don't like the microwave there, because you can't see the wine rack from the sink," she said.

"Is it that important to be able to see the wine rack when doing dishes?" I asked, and she looked at me like I just defecated on the floor.

"Well, obviously, you just don't get it," she huffed, and then she spent the next 20 minutes placing, and removing, and replacing, bottles of wine on the wine rack until they looked "just right."

Rather than question her strange wine bottle positioning technique, I busied myself with the next construction project, this time a heavy bookshelf.

Now, the bookshelf would have been a quick construction job, except that Mel kept borrowing the only screwdriver in the house so she could hang curtain rods. I'm not exactly sure why curtain rods became so important all of a sudden but, to her, hanging curtains rods had become a life or death situation akin to duct taping for a terrorist attack.

Again, rather than question her motives, I simply sat quietly and waited for her to finish with the curtain rods so I could finish with the bookshelf. Once completed, I moved the bookshelf against the appointed wall, and Mel immediately started stacking books strategically on the bookshelf. Once it was crammed with books, she stepped back and assessed the situation.

"The bookcase needs to be moved to the right about two inches," she said.

Did I mention the bookcase was heavy? And it was heavy even without two tons of books, so moving it, even a measly two inches, was a task even Hercules would pass on.

"Do you have any idea how heavy this thing is?" I protested as we both grunted and groaned and tried to move the beastly thing two inches across carpet. "Can't we just leave it where it is?"

Again I got the floor defecation look, so I scuttled into the kitchen to grab a glass of water and to look at the wine rack. When I returned, Mel was (you guessed it) removing books from the bookcase so she could move it two inches to the right.

Then, much to my amazement, she started hanging a picture near the bookcase and she asked me to hold it up so she could eyeball it. I did as instructed, but I made the unforgivable sin of (get ready) holding it too high.

"Don't hold it so high!" she scolded. "It has to be even with the top of the bookcase!"

By the end of the weekend, I was pretty much resigned to being wrong all the time. Mercifully, it will be about two weeks before we'll be able to see each other again.

Hopefully she'll be done moving herself in by then.

Posted by Ryan at 11:16 AM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2003

Waxing Poetic For those just

Waxing Poetic

For those just tuning in, there's a poetry contest going on over at A Small Victory, and I'm soooooo kicking ass, if I do say so myself.

UPDATE: But, I sooooooo fucking lost to a superior limeracist named Dave. Ah, well, perhaps next time.

Posted by Ryan at 03:53 PM | Comments (0)

A Recap Of Banality, And

A Recap Of Banality, And Tearing Jill Nelson A New One

Hapkido last night. I know, I know, no one cares. Well, I care damnit! I care a whole bunch. I have a renewed hapkido enthusiasm following the news that I'm only a few months away from my black belt. Except. . .

I found out yesterday that, before I can become a black belt, I have be certified in CPR/First Aid. Apparently, if I eventually have to beat someone senseless, I have to be able to bandage my opponent's wounds, set their broken bones and, Heaven forbid, get their heart going again. As if the pressure of preserving my own life isn't bad enough, now I have to ensure the longevity of the person who tries to slit my throat? It's a crazy world we live in. Anyway, I have to sign up for an April 26 CPR training seminar. Should be entertaining.

I had errands to run last night after hapkido, including gassing up the Cadillac. Does anyone else find it odd that, if a pump isn't working, or if a great unseen underground tank of petrol is empty, the gas station alerts the patrons by wrapping a plastic bag over the pump handle? It strikes me as some sort of gasoline haz mat suit. "Don't touch this, you fool! Can't you see the plastic bag?!"

I then went to Subway for my dinner, and I was waited on by one of those auto-pilot "sandwich artists" who obviously hate their job. She was a thin blonde unit, cute I suppose, in an anorexic sunken eyes sort of way, and she fired out all the standard Subway questions without any inflection or heart whatsoever.

SANDWICH ARTIST: What can I get you tonight, sir?

ME: Not sure yet (could you at least let the door close behind me before you ask? I don't normally enter an eating establishment desiring any specific meal. That's what menus are for, so please let me look at your's first. I SO should have said that to her!)

SANDWICH ARTIST: Okay sir. *yawns*

ME: I'll take a chicken breast foot long on. . .

SANDWICH ARTIST: What type of bread, sir?

ME: Wheat.

SANDWICH ARTIST: What kind of cheese would you like on that, sir?

ME: Pepper jack.

SANDWICH ARTIST: What else would you like on that, sir?

ME: Lettuce, tomato, onion, green pepper and jalepenos.

SANDWICH ARTIST: Any sauces or oils?

ME: No.

SANDWICH ARTIST: Chips or pop tonight, sir?

ME: Chips.

SANDWICH ARTIST: That will be $6.53. Thank you sir and have a nice night. *disappears into strange back room*

Now, I understand that being a "sandwich artist" probably isn't as glamorous as it sounds, and chances are this highschooler has aspirations that far exceed the Subway walls, but I don't think it's too much to ask to to expect an occasional smile, or some sign that the person handling my dinner has personality characteristics other than simply bored and irritated out of her skull. I'm not expecting Robin Williams or anything like that. Just a smile. Maybe a nipple flash. You know, just something extra.

I played The Sims last night. Now, before you roll your eyes and say "but isn't that game for girls?" let me just assure you that, yes, it is for girls, but sometimes I'm in the mood for a computer game free of the stresses of a first person shooter or real-time strategy game. I mean, I love Command & Conquer: Generals, but it's disconcerting to rush to build a base only to have it leveled by a Chinese nuke or a terrorist Scud attack. There's no stress to The Sims, and the plentiful cheat codes make it actually relaxing to play.

Just before I went to bed, feeling totally relaxed and at peace thanks to The Sims, I quickly went online to catch up on war news. Out of curiosity, I checked out the MSNBC.com opinions section and I was surprised to see an article by the ever-annoying Jill Nelson. She's been strangely quiet ever since the war broke out. Well, she's back, and she's making up for lost time by wallowing in hyperbole. This woman takes whining to a level that surpasses even that of Michael Moore. I'm convinced that, if Jill were to whine just a little louder, and at a slightly higher pitch, whales the world over would feel compelled to beach themselves.

Some excerpts from her latest bit of chilled literary vomit:

Spare me network anchors on location arrayed in multi-pocketed flak jackets and combat helmets, reporting from positions embedded with the troops or striding across maps in a safe studio, explaining the battlefield as if it is a diorama at the Museum of Natural History. Spare me the stories of Arnett and Geraldo and the ceaseless, obscene competition for ratings.

In other words, spare her the war coverage. I'm not sure what that leaves to report on. Maybe if we scooped up Jill's rickety bones and plopped her in the middle of a war zone, she could offer up an unbiased account of the situation, but I highly doubt it. She's more content to whine from her vantage point in the cheap seats.

Despite my disgust, I am not completely detached. I still scan the headlines, sometimes have the radio on in the background, watch snippets of televised news. Mostly, I learn little news and I am not interested in the grim details. I never believed the Iraqis would lie down and surrender their country in the face of America's "shock and awe" military strategy, so I am not surprised at the rising death toll on both sides and difficult battles.

Difficult battles? As opposed to what, exactly? Hug and kiss assaults? Battles, by definition are difficult, or at least that's how I understand battles to be. And a rising death toll? Is there anybody out there who honestly believes a death toll is supposed to go down during a war?

ANNOUNCER: In an unprecedented development today, soldiers from both sides of the conflict rose from their graves remarkably unscathed and renewed their fighting. This new Lazarus development actually caused the military to adjust their casualty numbers, bringing the death toll down by about 24.

Nor am I shocked or surprised by the emergence of Iraqi suicide bombers (bomber, Jill. Singular. There's only been one so far) and civilian resistance, or by Iraq's guerilla warfare strategies as they fight off the U.S.-led coalition forces. It can be only racism, arrogance and simple stupidity that made any one think they wouldn't.

For some people, it always seems to come back to racism. "I know why you pulled me over, officer. It's because I'm black! I know why I didn't get that job. It's because I'm black! I know why they're burning that cross in my yard. It's because I'm black!" Sometimes, as hard as it is to believe, it's not actually about racism. U.S. military planners expected resistance. They expected suicide attack(s). They expected guerilla warfare tactics. They expected all of this. Sure, it would be nice if the Iraqis just put down their AK-47s and showered us with kisses on our feet, but we certainly weren't counting on that to happen. I'm not sure where the racism comes in here, or arrogance, or simple stupidity for that matter. But, it wouldn't be a Jill Nelson column if she didn't play the race card at least once.

And sometimes I think the arrogance of George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and all the rest of them so bent on this war for oil is itself simply a posture — a cloak to convince Americans to go along with a war that would be quick and virtually painless, with few casualties and over in a few days. If so, it was a lie that only the United States, Tony Blair, Spain and Bulgaria believed.

Er, AND Afghanistan, AND Albania, AND Australia, AND Azerbaijan, AND Colombia, AND the Czech Republic, AND Denmark, AND El Salvador, AND Eritrea, AND Estonia, AND Ethiopia, AND Georgia, AND Hungary, AND Italy, AND Japan, AND South Korea, AND Latvia, AND Lithuania, AND Macedonia, AND the Netherlands, AND Nicaragua, AND the Philippines, AND Poland, AND Romania, AND Slovakia, AND Turkey, AND Uzbekistan. But who's keeping track?

And enough of the whole "war for oil" mantra. I didn't believe that months ago, and I don't believe it now. If this were truly about oil, we would have simply secured all the oil fields and would be pumping that fresh sweet crude into our SUVs by now.

I can tell by the expressions on the faces of people I pass on the street that they are, like me, both angry and broken-hearted by the violence being done in our name. I know that they, too, live every day now with that clenched feeling in the stomach, waiting, always waiting, for the next worst thing to happen. Wishing it won't, but certain that it will.

It's nice to know that she's so obviously psychic, able to see into the minds and souls of people passing by. Maybe they're angry and broken hearted because they just got dumped. Maybe they simply have to take a shit, what with the perpetual clenched feeling in their stomachs and all. Give me a break. Alison. Alison. Angel. Alison. Angel. Alison. And the next worst thing to happen? To hear Jill tell it, you'd think we're massively losing this war rather than being 25 miles from the Baghdad doorstep.

In my neighborhood, I cannot find anyone who supports the war. In the bodega on the corner, the woman behind the counter cannot tell me in English how much a head of lettuce costs, but when I say "war" she immediately frowns. "Is very, very bad. Bush very bad," she declares as she hands me my change.

"I don't even want to talk about it, it's terrible," says the young guy grinding my coffee beans at the supermarket. "What can you say? It's all about oil," he adds, shaking his head.

"Those poor young people, American and Iraqi, it's a shame and a waste," an elderly woman murmurs sadly as we stand on a corner waiting for the light to turn green. And so it goes.

What the hell neighborhood does this woman live in? Sounds like a warped version of Sesame Street.

Jill Nelson. My choice for five star whiner of the week award. *****

UPDATE: I just read this headline from my local paper: Couple Say War Truth Is Somewhere Between CNN, Al-Jazeera

No crap.

Posted by Ryan at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)

Okay, This Is Pretty Cool

Okay, This Is Pretty Cool

I'll give a new, shiny penny to anyone who can tell me how this little game works.

Posted by Ryan at 09:40 AM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2003

Saddam Hussein Alive, Says Saddam

Saddam Hussein Alive, Says Saddam Hussein
Iraqi Dictator Confirms Existence Through Written Word

BAGHDAD (Rhodes Media Services) -- In a written statement from Saddam Hussein, read on Iraqi national television by the country's information minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, the Iraqi dictator explained, in no uncertain terms, that he was, in fact, not dead.

"The aggression that the aggressors are carrying out against the stronghold of faith is an aggression on the religion, the wealth, the honor and the soul and an aggression on the land of Islam," said Hussein in his agressively worded statement.

"And let me just assure you that I am, at this very moment, breathing deeply and my heart is pumping blood through my wonderful god-like veins," the statement continued. "I am not dead. I am very much alive. I was not killed when that huge bomb surprised the living shit out of me when it struck my bunker. Because I am so incredibly great and invincible, the shrapnel and debris cast about by the infidel explosive bounced harmlessly off my rippling muscular chest and taut buttocks. The bomb did not tear me asunder, as some people may believe. I am so incredibly alive right now, I'm at a level of cat-like alertness and I am primed to lead the great and invincible Iraqi military to victory against the puny invaders."

Also in his statement, Saddam said he had joined forces with Elvis Presley to defeat the U.S. led coalition forces.

Posted by Ryan at 12:21 PM | Comments (0)
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