July 31, 2003

Credit Cards and Cheddar X

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.

1. What is people's greatest misconception about you?
Holy mangled grammar Batman! Okay, Yoda, let's clean that up just a tad before moving on. What is the biggest misconception people have about you? There, that be better. Let's see. I guess that, since I sport a shaved head and a goatee, and perpetual scowl made deeper by large eyebrows, people who don't know me think I'm a mean badass. Which I'm not. I'm a teddy bear. Granted, I'm a teddy bear with no verbal filter whatsoever, but I'm a teddy bear.

2. What is your most over used expression?
Probably, "Sticking a fat, gnarled toe into the vagina" of something. Okay, no, not really. I say "fuck-a-duck-a-ding-dong" a bit too much, actually, which is easy and fun to say, but it's a bitch to type (just look at all those dashes). I've also started agreeing with people by saying "Darn tootin' Rasputin," which makes no sense at all, but it just rolls off the tongue.

3. If they made a movie of your life, who would you want to play you and who do you think would end up playing you?
I'm thinking Vin Diesel. Nah, my life's too boring for that much of a physique. I'd need a more stringy looking actor with a shaved head and goatee, like maybe Luke Wilson with no hair. He has my eyebrows and my build, and he should really give them back to me right away. But, being that Hollywood would go and totally get my life all wrong on the big screen, I'm sure they'd go and pick some yokel like Corey Feldman. Corey who? Exactly.

4. If you could have sex with anyone, ever, who would it be?
If you know me at all, you know that I'm on a serious Salma Hayek kick right now. I would die a happy man if I suffered a heart attack while reaching orgasm with that Latina goddess straddling my wang. Salma, if you're reading this, and I know you are, please help fulfill my fantasy. And, if you could bring a briefcase of cash for me to spend, well, all the better.

5. What's the best and worst thing you've done for or to your appearance?
Shaving my head when I was 21 was the best thing I ever did, because it was a pre-emptive strike against the male pattern baldness that stalks my family like a follical grim reaper. When last I had hair, I had a respectable amount, and that's how I'll always remember it, rather than the melting retreat of the cranial ice caps that leaves so many ever-hopeful men crying in a sink full of hair. Worst thing? Can't really say, because I'm pretty conservative with my body: no tattoos, no piercings, no tongue splitting. Perhaps the worst thing I've done to my appearance is that I've done nothing at all. But, probably not.

6. What's your best physical trait? (yeah, yeah, shallow like the Friday Five on Prozac and Ritalin but I'm curious so there ya go)
Well, as you all know, I'm a smoking hot specimen of male hunkiness, which is a really great and rare trait to have. I've been told I have a cute butt, but seeing that my butt is not in my direct line of view, I can't really verify that. I guess I take a little bit of narcissistic pride in the fact that I'm thin and muscular in a lean sort of way. There's all that, and then of course there's my monstrous dong.

Posted by Ryan at 09:55 AM | Comments (0)

July 30, 2003

Weirdest. Family. EVER

I went swimming with my buddy, Marc, yesterday after work. He lives in an apartment complex that features a nice pool that is ideal for ogling women. Alas, there was very little women ogling to do, owing to a lack of women while we were down at the pool. Oh well, the water was warm so the swimming was great.

Until. . .

"Hi! I'm Katlyn!" shrieked a small voice behind me, and I turned around to see a little child wearing a life vest standing at the edge of the pool, peering intently at me.

"Oh, hi Katlyn," I said, and returned to the game of catch I was playing with Marc. But, before I could turn around completely, my eyes briefly scanned the rest of the family that had just arrived. There was a very large woman and a very skinny man, both of whom looked like they took severe and debilitating tumbles from an ugly tree.

The woman, in addition to her large stature, had a blotchy face and was apparently losing her bedraggled auburn hair in clumps. The skinny man had a not-so-bright look to him (although Marc informed me that he is, actually, a gifted computer programmer), and his face was apparently forever stuck in a goofy-looking grin, which was made more googy-looking due to a mouth full of uneven, Cleetus-like teeth.

But, perhaps the most goofy aspect of the skinny man was that he was wearing a life jacket. And, I don't mean just any life jacket, either. This was one of those industrial-strength life jackets that you see professional water-skiiers wearing. Seeing a grown man, probably in his 30s, wearing one in an apartment complex swimming pool that does not exceed a depth of five feet seemed somehow surreal.

In addition to the Pollyanna-ish Katlyn, the family also featured a baby boy? girl? (not sure), a baby with eyes so wide I was convinced they were going to pop out of its head and roll into the pool.

Then, from Katlyn, a torrent of conversation erupted. This girl would not shut up. Katlyn, I think, lives under the belief that, since she has to breathe, she may as well use each and every breath for constructing words. Yap, yap, yap, yap, yap, yap!

The skinny man entered the pool tentatively, grasping the rail and gingerly stepping down into the shallow end (max depth: three feet). The look on his face was priceless. In addition to his perma-grin, his eyes were lit up in a combination of what appeared to be fear and unbridled excitement. Did I mention his wife had to help him put his life jacket on? His wife had to help him put his life jacket on. Those life jacket buckles and straps can be sooooo confusing. He paddled around for a bit, and then he exited the water.

"Are you guys playing catch?" asked Internet.com/~eplaz/euronat/images/nudist_photo.jpg">Katlyn, a little human bobber perpetually spouting words. "I can help you play catch!"

Emboldened by his earlier successful sojourn into the shallow end, the skinny man now did an odd little stutter-step run and jump, toothpick-style, into the deep end. He appeared ecstatic upon resurfacing and he bobbed triumphantly in five feet of water. Meanwhile, the rather large woman sat contentedly on the pool steps, keeping an eye on the youngest of the family seed.

Katlyn paddled around furiously to retrieve the water balls Marc and I were playing catch with. She would then coil her little body up and throw with all her might, for a distance of about four feet.

"Well, I'm just a girl," she explained.

"Really? You're just a girl?" laughed the skinny man floating in the deep end. "I never would have guessed that!" *chortled to himself*

Katlyn then announced she was officially entering our game of catch, which was my cue to exit the pool and "check the time." As luck would have it, it was exactly time for Marc and I to leave. How convenient.

That was, without a doubt, the weirdest family I had ever seen.

Posted by Ryan at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

July 29, 2003

The Journalism Problem

I'm a journalist, which is a term that means absolutely nothing, no matter how much the mainstream media may try to make "journalism" sound like some sort of romantic and selfless endeavor to bring information to the news-hungry masses. Whatever.

When people ask what I do for a living, I don't tell them I'm a journalist. That just sounds too hokey, and it really doesn't tell them what the hell I really do for a living anyway. Rather, I tell them that I write for a few IBM magazines, while dabbling in weekly humor columns on the side.

But journalist? I try not to mention that I'm even remotely entwined with journalism. Why? Because journalism, no matter how deluded some in the journalism field may be who think otherwise, is not looked favorably upon by the vast majority of the American public.

People don't trust journalists, or, more specifically, big media. And it's no wonder. During the course of a single year, we've had Jayson Blair making up news, Maureen Dowd doctoring quotes, conflicting reports coming out of Iraq on a daily basis, and with Reuters news service flat-out making things up and attributing false bylines. It should be enough to make every newspaper across the nation arrange hurried meetings to deal with the corruption almost certainly taking place within their ranks. But, they don't, because they've learned that they can still rake in the cash even in the midst of reader apathy. They should be monumentally embarrased, but they're not. But I am.

The problems, of course, are many. First and foremost, each and every news organization adheres to political agendas, whether locally, nationally or internationally, and those political agendas taint everything they report on. They never told me this in any of my journalism classes. Rather, I was encouraged to strive for un-biased reporting, and I did my damndest to achieve just that. But, relatively unbiased stories, I quickly learned, became suddenly biased as soon as they hit the editing desk. Some words were taken out while other were slipped in, with the end result being a story that had a decidedly biased slant to it. I don't blame the editors for this. They were just doing their job, and their job was to make a story more compelling for readers, and one of the quickest ways to make a story more compelling is to take a side.

Therefore, unbiased news is a myth. It doesn't exist. Writers and editors, once they have the pen at the ready, can't resist interjecting their own views and opinions. And I don't believe this is a problem that can be fixed. Actually, I wonder sometimes if it even qualifies as a problem. American newspapers, going back to Colonial times, all exhibited bias of some sort. Hell, it could be argued, convinvingly, that if it weren't for newspaper bias, the American Revolution would never have come about.

But, bias is one thing. Ignoring facts to better fit your political agenda is quite another. Today's news organizations have gone beyond simple bias and into the realm of news fabrication and selecting only those tidbits of information that fit nicely into their political agendas. The current situation in Iraq should provide instructive fodder for journalism schools for the next 50 years. As readers, we can't for a second pretend to know what is actually going on in Iraq, because that country has become such a political hot potato practically every story coming out of there represents only a sliver of the truth. Reporters going into that country are either hell-bent on making it sound bad (Robert Fisk, hint hint) or hell bent on making it sound good (anybody from Fox news, hint hint). That's selective reporting that does a major disservice to the readership.

And then you have the Jayson Blairs in the industry who simply opt to make up news, selling it as fact as they sit at home playing their X-box. Reporters do this because many reporters are just flat-out lazy, and in today's instant communication world, it's easier than ever to be flat-out lazy so long as you have talent as a writer: the information is right at their fingertips, and all they have to do is pretty it up in a sort of creative writing exercise. It's not a new phenomenon by any means, but now reporters trying to pull that type of shit have to deal with a vigilant Internet community that will pounce on them viciously the moment someone catches them in the act.

I think one of the reasons big media has chosen to largely ignore blogs is because they recognize them as a journalism police force that they'd rather not acknowledge. Ignore them and they'll go away, the reasoning goes, only I don't think blogs will be going away any time soon, if ever. And I think it would behoove every journalist, new and established, to start up a blog, and blog daily. This blog has opened my eyes to the reality of the Internet and how it is the single most powerful tool at a reporter's disposal. The Internet, and blogs in particular, will rewrite journalism textbooks. The old way of doing journalism is withering right before my eyes.

Andrew Sullivan gets it.

Glenn Reynolds gets it.

And now I get it.

Posted by Ryan at 12:25 PM | Comments (0)

July 28, 2003

The Girlfriend Camping Experience

So, I went camping with my girlfriend last weekend, and I came to a sad and sobering conclusion. Namely, I discovered that my girlfriend doesn't know how to camp, or, more appropriately, my girlfriend doesn't know how to camp the Ryan Rhodes way.

You see, my camping expectations are fairly modest. When I go camping, I want to light fireworks, eat potato chips and other junk food, drink some beer, build a campfire so large it can be seen on the moon, and sleep in a tent. These are my modest camping goals and, by adhering to these goals, I have yet to endure a bad camping experience.

Sadly, my girlfriend doesn't apparently understand my streamlined approach to camping. Whereas I like to do nothing when I'm camping, she's not content unless she's busy doing something, which is a totally alien camping approach to me.

I became suspicious of my girlfriend's concept of camping when, while discussing our one day camping trip, she said we should sit down and make a list of the things we'd need. A list? What's that? Is it some sort of firework, or possibly a brand of beer?

Making a list of camping necessities is, to me, a ridiculous idea. After all, camping is supposed to be an excuse to get away from it all, not to make a list so you remember to bring it all with you.

"How is camping even fun for you?" she asked, and I explained that, when camping, all I want to do is light fireworks, eat potato chips and other junk food, drink some beer, build a campfire so large it can be seen on the moon, and sleep in a tent. She didn't seem to understand what the heck I was talking about.

But, it was our eventual conversation about camping food that almost sent her over the edge. She said we had to go to the grocery store to buy chicken breasts and potatoes and bread and something to cook for breakfast and. . . I gave her a blank stare.

"I thought we'd just go to a restaurant before we go out to the campsite," I offered hopefully, and she clenched her teeth and rolled her eyes so far back in her head I think she saw her own brain.

Apparently, for my girlfriend, cooking a complicated meal over a campfire is an integral part of the camping experience. I, on the other hand, believe cooking a complicated meal over a campfire constitutes doing something and, as I pointed out earlier, when I go camping I want to do nothing.

It's so simple, really. All I want to do is light fireworks, eat potato chips and other junk food, drink some beer, build a campfire so large it can be seen on the moon, and sleep in a tent. Why is that so hard to understand?

As a compromise, we settled on buying bratwurst, which are super easy to cook, although I was still a little disappointed that we didn't go out to a restaurant.

In the end, my girlfriend busied herself with cooking bratwurst, cleaning up around the campsite, including, if you can believe this, putting a "Welcome" mat in front of the tent.

I, on the other hand, lit fireworks, ate potato chips and other junk food, drank some beer, built a campfire so large it could be seen on the moon, and slept in a tent.

Posted by Ryan at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

July 25, 2003

"Getting Off on the Wrong Foot" c. Ryan Rhodes, Nov. 19, 2001

An older post, from an older column, that I feel needs to be repeated

It's generally understood by myself and most of my old high school classmates that I was pretty much considered a geek. I was one of those brainy guys who didn't study but managed to attain the A honor roll any way.

Regardless of the obvious benefits in the real world, being a brainy guy in high school is a guaranteed ticket to being a social pariah. I was accused of "reading the dictionary" and "going through encyclopedias for fun," neither of which were true.

Despite my brainy designation, I was perhaps guilty of doing some of the dumbest things imaginable, which only contributed further to my geeky image and added to the verbal tauntings of my classmates. Perhaps no other act resulted in more mental high school trauma than the time I shot myself in the foot with a B.B. gun. This was a very stupid thing for a brainy guy to do.

My freshman year of school loomed before me, it was the weekend before football practice began, and I was out walking with my Crossman 10 pump air rifle firmly in my grasp. I believed myself to be the blackbird assassin, and with my trusty mutt, Ray, bounding playfully by my side, we were a daunting duo to say the least. I can't really explain the appeal of shooting birds with a B.B. gun, and the thought actually disturbs me today, but at 15 years old, I considered it quality time. My dog, also, seemed to enjoy the outings, although I suspect he was just happy to be outside, where he could empty his bowels without fear of reprisal.

Ray was an enthusiastic rabbit chaser. And, even though he possessed half the speed and one quarter the intelligence of most rabbits, he managed to come close once in awhile, with 20 feet being considered "close." On that particular day, Ray surprised a rabbit, and, judging by the startled yip, himself as well. The two spooked and confused animals started an awkward chase in which Ray actually had the edge, and I absentmindedly lowered my gun just over my left foot to watch the show.

In a surprise move, Ray managed to make contact with the rabbit, and I overreacted to the close call by pulling the trigger, initiating a series of events that ultimately led to a steel ball crashing through my shoe and lodging firmly in the joint of my little toe. And it really kind of hurt. I hobbled hurriedly homeward, where I explained my situation to my father. He gave me a deeply concerned look, which most fathers probably give sons who have committed acts so stupid, they can only be rewarded with deeply concerned looks.

Then, it was off to the hospital, where I was certain there would be a crack team of experts who specialized in the removal of B.B.s from the feet of stupid kids. Much to my surprise, my crack team of experts seemed genuinely unprepared for the task. They took a series of x-rays, which proved what I already knew, namely that there was a metal ball lodged in my foot. I was, however, surprised at just how well a B.B. showed up in an x-ray. You may be curious as to how long it takes a crack team of experts to remove a B.B. from a foot. The answer, in my case, was four hours.

For four agonizing hours, a doctor, whom I was convinced obtained his medical license from a box of Lucky Charms, dug unsuccessfully in my foot using a glorified tweezers. They brought in a special x-ray television monitor, which they used to navigate to the metal orb that they consistently couldn't remove. Finally, just as I was about to demand that they leave my foot alone, Dr. Mengele freed the ball from my toe and held it triumphantly for all to see. Then he threw it away. I was sewn up, given a pair of crutches, and sent on my merry little way.

Unfortunately, my crack team of experts didn't offer any advice as to how I should tell my classmates what I had done come Monday morning and the first day of football practice. Initially, as I crutched my way into the locker room, every face was etched with concern. That concern gave way to boisterous laughter after I told them what happened.

I think I told the same story roughly 50 times that day, mostly to people who didn't believe me the first 49 times. On that fateful day, I spiraled forever into the realm of geekdom, never to emerge. I was no longer one of the brainy guys. I was that brainy guy who shot himself in the foot with a B.B. gun. Even the other brainy guys shunned me.

I guess I should blame myself for the whole incident, but I find that it's easier to blame Ray for almost catching that rabbit.

Stupid dog.

UPDATE: But, you know, it pays to stay positive.

Posted by Ryan at 03:57 PM | Comments (0)


I did indeed sit through the premier of "Commander-in-Chief," starring Geena Davis as the first-ever female president.

To put it mildly, it's no "West Wing." And, yes, I used to enjoy the "West Wing" very much, until it started becoming sanctimonious to the point of lunacy. Maybe that's changed: I haven't seen it in awhile.

Anyway, CiC just didn't resonate with me. Part of it was because they should have picked an unknown actress for the role. Every time I see Geena Davis, I think of my first real celebrity crush in that scene in Tootsie where she's in her bra and panties. It's hard for me to get past that.

Secondly, could the show have BEEN any more predictable? I think I foretold that the teleprompter would go on the blink in mid-speech last Wednesday.

Oh, and a vice-president with her husband as her chief-of-staff? Unlikely. Telling her 7-year-old daughter not to tell anybody that the President suffered a stroke? Ummmmm, unlikely. The U.S. strong-arming Nigeria to release a female adulterer? Unlikely. The extraction team consisting of an overweight dude with no helmet, looking as uncomfortable with a rifle as a hemmorhoid sufferer sitting on broken glass? Un-fucking-likely.

Overall, it was a lot to swallow, with too many one-dimensional characters, too many implausible scenarios, too much cheesy dialogue, and not enough depth. Chances are good I won't tune in again.

Now, HBO's series "Rome". . . there's a show that kicks some serious ass, with Indira Varma being one of the hottest actresses I've seen since Salma Hayek. Polly Walker's pretty hot too, but I'm biased on that because she did full-frontal Barishness in the first episode. Where was I again? Oh, right. . . work.

FURTHER THOUGHT: It occurs to me that, if CiC were to tank, as the first episode seems to indicate it will, a lot of people will steadfastly maintain that it's because knuckle-dragging Americans can't accept the idea of a female president, and they'll be totally oblivious to the obvious inadaquacies of the show itself. CiC has some potential, but they have a lot of work to do, that's all I'm saying.

Oh, and also, watch this movie. It's surprisingly good, and the little dude delivers an outstanding acting performance.

Posted by Ryan at 03:00 PM | Comments (0)

Just Some Random Shit

I know, I know, you're still wondering about my trip to Colorado. Well, I'll get to it, or maybe I won't, I don't know. Suffice it to say, I didn't get to do a hot air balloon ride, because it cost $185 per person, which is a lot of money to shell out for a ride in a wicker basket. I did, however, take a tour of an abandoned silver mine, which was pretty cool. And, we did other things, but I'll blog about that later, or maybe I won't, I don't know.

There's this commercial I see once in awhile that drives me buggy. It's an advertisement for debt Relief Clearing House, or some other sort of "get out of debt" service (here's an idea, stop spending money you don't have). Well, anyway, this particular commercial features customer testimonials to give it an air of authenticity, and one testimonial, no matter how many times I hear it, makes my cranium krinkle like a tin can. One woman says, and I quote: "It's a relief off my shoulders."

What the fuck does that even mean?! Why would you want to get relief off your shoulders? Personally, I'd like to keep the relief ON my shoulders. I'd like to have some spare relief sitting around, you know, for the tough times. Yes, I realize the woman just misspoke, but seriously, why didn't the film editing folks catch it? Why did they keep that maddening sound bite in there?

Why, yes, I did see that commercial last night, right before bed. Why do you ask?

So, did you see the before and after photos of the Demonic Duo? I did. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: death isn't very photogenic. Despite the scraggly beards, I had very little difficulty connecting the dots (er, the blood splatters and bruises, as the case may be) and deducing that they were, indeed, the dead bodies of the Hussein boys. Qusay was pretty easy to figure out. Uday, on the other hand, took a little work. Ultimately, it was his eyebrows that gave him away.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to see pictures of dead bodies. I've seen enough dead bodies and pictures of dead bodies to know that there are far more pleasant things to do with my time. Still. . . morbid curiousity got the better of me. Okay, so I'm a sick puppy. Sue me.

I find it amusing that there are media outlets out there asking why the military released the photos. Well, the answer is pretty obvious. Just ask Salam Pax. Can you imagine being so terrified of a couple of human beings, you actually have to see their dead bodies before you'll believe they're gone and can no longer hurt you? Here in the U.S., we heard about the deaths and said "good riddance." In Iraq, they want, they need, to see for themselves. The Hussein shadow is long indeed, and it will take quite some time to shine the light into the dark crevices of his defunct regime.

I'll admit it. I play The Sims once in awhile. I don't like it the way I like first person shooters or real time strategy games, but it has its appeal. It's relaxing, for one thing. You just tell a computer simulated human being what to do. It's digital slavery, really. And, you can cheat and build opulent mansions, and buy pretty much anything your heart desires, so long as the programmers included it in the game's inventory of items. It's nice to be a millionaire, if only in the digital world. It gives you an idea what it's like to be ridiculously wealthy in the real world. For one thing, you never worry about spending money. Never. If you want something, you buy it, without even looking at the cost. It's just assumed you have an endless supply of cash, which you do, so you don't worry about it. That's nice.

And that's why online/home/index.jsp">The Sims online was such a flop. Okay, it wasn't a flop, but it didn't come even close to meeting the expectations of its creators. Why? Because you have to work to get money. People don't like doing that in real life, so why would they want to come home from their jobs, fire up their computers, and do it all again? I didn't buy The Sims online, because a little voice told me not to. The idea is great: a world full of Sims enthusiasts interacting online and having fun. It should have been great, but the designers sure blew sheep when they decided not to allow unlimited wealth. Players want to be creative, and show off their house designs, and not worry about cash. Oh, and nobody wants to pay a monthly fee to play a game online. fuck that.

Ah, but The Sims 2 has potential, even though you apparently won't be able to play online. I'm a sucker for cool graphics, and this game has taken minute detailing to a new level. The interplay between light and shadow, and the drool-inducing attention to detail pretty much ensures I'll be buying this game when it comes out.

I'd also like it if a new Aliens Vs. Predator game came out. Playing that game online is a hoot. A bloody, body-part-flying, Qusay-and-Uday death-fest of a hoot. But, a hoot all the same.

Speaking of which, I saw Alien Resurrection again last night. I don't understand why that flick was given such a bad rap. Sure, it has its hokey parts, with Winona Ryder being a major hokey part, but the movie itself serves up some truly horrifying scenes, particularly the underwater swimming scene, which is a claustrophopic nail-biter from start to finish.

That's it for now. I may blog again later in the day, or maybe I won't, I don't know.

Posted by Ryan at 10:58 AM | Comments (0)

July 23, 2003

Death of the Demonic Duo, and a Colorado Wrap-up

It's official. I can't go on vacation any more, or, more appropriately, I can't spend extended periods of time away from the Internet. Why? Because shit always keeps happening when I can't access an online computer.

When I first started dating Melissa, I'd go to the cities to spend time with her, at her place, with an antiquated computer that last saw Internet connectivity during the Clinton Administration.

The result? The first weekend, Paul Wellstone goes down in a plane crash. I didn't hear about it until well after the fact. The next time around, the Shuttle Columbia went down, catching me totally unawares until I got back late on a Sunday evening. Then, when Mel and I were in Colorado in March, the whole war in Iraq thing broke out (perhaps you've of it). Again, there I sat without Internet access. *grumble* Finally, this week, as I sat helplessly in Colorado with my family, well away from Internet access, I flip on the television Tuesday morning to see that Qusay and Uday Hussein literally bit the big one. My kingdom for an online computer!

I feel like Jessica Fletcher on Murder She Wrote, except that every time I leave the house I don't have to solve a murder that happens right under her nose. Rather, when I can't go online, something of newsworthy import breaks, and there I sit without being able to log on to Instapundit. I can't take it! I can't take it, I tell you!

That, and the porn available in magazine format is woefully substandard compared to what you can get online.

I mean, I'm just saying.

So anyway, yeah, Uday and Qusay are no longer breathing the same air as the rest of us. The Demonic Duo are no longer capable of hideous acts against humanity. That's a good thing. To say otherwise would expose you as a tinfoil hat wearing nay-sayer with a tenuous grasp on reality. Not surprisingly, there are, apparently, tinfoil hat wearing nay-sayers with tenous grasps on reality. But, I'll get to them in a bit.

As I watched the news unfold, I found myself thinking about the attack and how it played out, and I couldn't help but replay an old Loony Toons bit in my head, with Elmer Fudd being the coalition attackers and Bugs Bunny being the Hussein boys, only this time Bugs didn't don a dress and seduce Elmer and slip away in the process.

ELMER (a.k.a. coalition forces): Come out of there, wabbit, so I can see the color of your spurting bwood!

BUGS (a.k.a. Uday, or Qusay, whichever): My spoiting blood!?

I guess I should feel somewhat bad, seeing that it's considered bad form to celebrate the death of fellow human beings. Somewhere, Mrs. Hussein is mourning, and Saddam is probably somewhere sulking that his sons could be stupid enough get kacked in a villa in Mosul of all places.

But, fans of the Demonic Duo are in the minority. Most people applaud their demise, and they have no qualms about showing glee, because Uday and Qusay long ago gave up all claims to humanity. Their living bodies were no more than empty, soulless vessels inhabited by only the worst impulses of monsters. As monsters they lived and as monsters they died, and I rejoice in their deaths.

Could they have provided a wealth of intelligence to military officials had they been taken alive? Sure, why not. Let's pretend they would have allowed themselves to be captured rather than swallowing coalition or their own bullets (seriously, Uday apparently took a shot to his teeth, which I find hysterical). That's neither here nor there. You take your victories where and when you can in war time, or post-war time as the case may be. We'll get the rest, even without info provided by the sadistic seeds of Saddam Hussein (today we're learning the letter "s").

Which brings us to President Bush and company. This is a victory for the administration, whether your want to admit it or not. But, even as I sat with my parents in their rented Colorado condo, absorbing the news, we couldn't resist a few barbs at the Chief's expense.

There was W, standing with Rumsfeld and Bremer the day after the successful attack. And, Bush thanked Rumsfeld and Bremer for being there. As if they had a CHOICE.

RUMSFELD: Oh, I'm sorry Mr. President, but tonight is bowling league. I can't make it.

BREMER: Yeah, I'll have to cancel too, sir. I stubbed my toe this morning, and I'm limping something fierce.

Beyond that, however, is the deer in the headlights persona Bush still radiates when he's forced to read from the teleprompter on national television. He doesn't want to be there. He never wants to be there (with the exception of his post 9/11 speeches). He always has the look of a five year old trying to read Cat In The Hat for the first time. Lots of pauses. Lots of lip-licking. Lots of brow furrowing. I mentioned this to my father as we watched the news.

"Yeah," said my father. "He has the look of someone who didn't do too well on his Iowa Basics. . . a week ago."

"Or," I quipped, "As Bush calls them. . .Iowa Basicals."

We both laughed heartily, and then my mother, a learned and bright woman, poked her head around the corner and asked, "Did he actually say that?"

Such is the dichotomy of Bush. It's generally accepted that he's not that quick with the cerebral gun, and yet he's credited with everything brilliant or tactically successful that happens at home and abroad. Ah, the Presidency. What a great job.

But, getting back to the tinfoil hat wearing nay-sayers, or the Fiskians as I like to call them. A week ago, they're complaining that we haven't found Saddam or his sons. Now, with the broken bodies of the Demonic Duo in custody, they're complaining that this will simply strengthen the resistance movement. So, which is it? Do they want them at large to destroy, or largely destroyed?

I also find it laughable that people are suggesting that Bush orchestrated the killings to boost his polling numbers, as if he has, at his disposal, a line of buttons marked "kill Hussein sons," or "find WMDs," or "kill Saddam," which he can push at his convenience when he needs to perk up his chances at re-election. Riiigggghhhht.

As for the critics who are calling U.S. marines baby-killers for axing Qusay's 14-year-old son, let me just say: if hot lead is coming at me from a building known to harbor two of the most wanted men in the world, I'm not going to stop and ask whether said hot lead is coming from a minor. Fire away, I say. Fire away, and let my aim be true. . . and maybe I'll hit Uday in the teeth . . . if I'm lucky.

Prime Minister Blair said history will forgive our attack on Iraq. He's right of course, but he missed just a bit, because, to me, the present already has forgiven. In fact, it never blamed.

Mmmmmm, take a breath.

Ah, but you came here for a Colorado wrap-up, didn't you?

What can one say about a trip that was supposed to start at 4:30 in the morning, and yet I woke up at 4:37 a.m.? Let's see, let's try starting the trip with expletives, shall we? fuck-a-duck-a-ding-dong!

I set my alarm for 3 a.m., which would have given me ample time to shave, shower, ponder masturbation, follow through with said pondering, and get to the airport well ahead of the mandatory one hour of security groping and touching and coughing and searching.

Ah, but. . . a power failure dictated that my carefully set alarm clock didn't know what the fuck was going on. I awoke, by a stroke of dumb "I gotta pee" luck, and I saw my clock blinking in that "this ain't the right time, that's why I'm blinking" sort of way.

So, after a hurried packing that would have made O.J. proud, I bolted out the door, got in my car, and proceeded to break every speed limit and run every red light from my door to the airport. I would have felt nervous, but even the cops drinking coffee on the speed traps probably empathized with my plight, and they let me go unhindered. Either that, or they realized that their cars couldn't have attained my speed, which, at last check, was hovering around Mach 4.

You know your timing sucks when you pull into an airport, and you can actually pick out your father in the distance, cursing and checking his watch, and standing with a lawyer writing you out of his will. Seriously, he was scratching his head in that motion of my father that indicates severe stress. Uh oh.

Thankfully, at 5 a.m., the Rochester airport staff had better things to do than raise a stink that I was only 18 minutes ahead of departure, rather than the suggested full hour. Apparently, "better things to do" included looking surly, drinking 80 ounce quenchers of coffee, and talking amongst each other to ensure consciousness.

And now, the Ryan Rhodes Rules of Flying.

RULE #1: The precision with which you packed your back is directly proportional to the liklihood that your bag will be searched by airport security. If your boxer shorts are on top, along with back issues of Maxim magazine, the chances of an in-depth search go up 53 percent. If you have obscure pieces of technology that may be construed as a possible bomb, you will be required to explain, in detail, how said technology works, and you may possibly have to allow airport security personnel to listen to your musical tastes to assuage their fears that your MP3 player is not, in fact, a bomb.

RULE #2: If you choose a window seat, there is an 86 percent chance that the aisle seat and the seat next to it will be occupied when you get on the plane, requiring them to get up out of their seats, mumble under their breath, and allow you to take your seat. After you are seated in your window seat, there is a 94 percent chance that you'll realize you have to either A) pee or B) take a shit. You will try to hold back both impulses for the duration of the flight, with a 54 percent probability of effectively making it the whole way.

RULE #3: If you're dead tired upon boarding a plane, and all you want to do is sleep the moment after take-off, there is a 99.99 percent chance there will be a wailing infant directly ahead of you, behind you, or beside you. It has been scientifically proven that there is a direct corrolation to the number of infants on a plane and your level of exhaustion. Lacking an infant, the probability shifts to the liklihood that the seat directly behind you will be occupied by a toddler who insists on using the tray table attached to your seat as a springboard for his X-Men action figures.

RULE #4: Although the roar of the jet engines will ensure that you can barely understand what the person next to you is saying, you will always, ALWAYS, be able to hear a crying infant, no matter where he or she may be located on the airplane. This is because airplane cabins have been ingeniously accoustically engineered to magnify the wail of a crying infant to sound as though they are sitting right next to you, with their mouth directly in your ear. It's a marvel of modern science.

RULE #5: Airplane food will always suck.

RULE #6: No matter how universally it is accepted that airplane food sucks, there is a 38 percent chance that the person sitting next to you will not believe Rule #5. No, this person, who's body usually spills over into your seat and would probably spill out on to the wing if it weren't for the solid fuselage, believes that airplane food is the sole reason for flying and that the destination is secondary. These folks have turned airplane dining into an art form, and they will jab their elbows into you a minimum of 27 times during the course of the meal.

RULE #7: Somewhere, on the plane, there will be a person sitting still, minding their own business, unaware that their body odor could qualify as a weapon of mass destruction. That person may be you, but usually it's not, and there's a 94 percent chance that, at some point during the flight, the stagnant air will shift just enough in the cabin to ensure you get a massive snootful of Passenger X's foul bodily emanations. After that, there's a 98 percent chance that you'll sniff the air occasionally, testing the environment for the nasty nose assailant, and there's a 100 percent chance you'll find it and wrinkle up your brow in disgust, and then sniff your own armpits just to be sure it isn't you who smell so obnoxiously rotten. Oh, and there's a 4 percent chance it's you.

RULE #8: If, by some miracle, you're able to tune out the wailing infants and the seat kicking X-Men enthusiast behind you, and you manage to fall asleep, there is a 77 percent chance the pilot will click on the public address system to tell the passengers something useless, like you're flying over the Grand Canyon, or some turbulence is expected, or engine #2 went out and you have to make an emergency water landing. The point is, the pilot will wake you up! That's unforgivable in my opinion.

RULE #9: About 30 percent of the people on a plane will feel compelled to do the exact opposite of what the flight attendents or pilots tell them to do. If they are instructed NOT to move about the cabin, they'll form a conga line and move about the cabin. If they are instructed to fasten their seat belts, they'll unfasten their seat belts and go to the bathroom. These people make Rain Man seem like a pretty sharp dude.

RULE #10: There is a 80 percent chance that your flight will be occupied by one or more people who have never flown before, and when they first experience turbulence, there is a 15 percent chance they'll think the plane is going down.

RULE #11: There is a 93 percent chance that the guy who keeps shelling out $4 for beer after beer after beer is a first time flyer experiencing turbulence who thinks the plane is going down. There is a 7 percent chance he's just trying to drink until he can no longer hear the wailing infants.

RULE #12: There is a 75 percent chance that, upon hearing you are about to land and should remain seated for the remainder of the flight, you will have an unprecedented urge to urinate.

Posted by Ryan at 11:41 PM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2003

And Now, I'm Off To Colorado

I shall be off the blogging circuit (well, most likely, unless I can find an online computer), until Wednesday next week, or possibly Thursday, because I'll be doing Colorado-related things in Colorado. What kind of things? I'm not sure. But, tentatively scheduled are:

Golfing: I golf, and there are golf courses in Colorado, so there will likely be golfing.

Hot Air Balloon Ride: This will be a first for me. I have never before willingly crawled into a basket and allowed a billowy bubble of fabric filled with hot air to elevate me to suicidal heights. So, it should be interesting. Incidentally, should you find yourself in the mountains of Colorado next week, and you see a hot air balloon overhead, get out of the way, lest you be showered in a spray of Ryan Rhodes vomit.

Metal Detecting: I have a metal detector, and there are old building sites all over the place just screaming to be explored. If you don't hear from me in a couple of weeks, it's because I found a cache of gold coins hidden underneath a dilapidated outhouse. Either that, or I fell to my death from a hot air balloon basket.

White Water Rafting: Not for sure. I did this once before and found it to be much like canoeing, except with a raft filled with yuppies who didn't know a paddle from a tree trunk. These people got scared every time the raft shifted even a little. You can about imagine how they reacted when we actually encountered rapids and were forced to paddle. I think my father and I did all the paddling for 10 people. Morons.

Sleeping: I'm a big fan of this, and since I'll be on vacation, I intend to indulge in copious amounts of it.

Eating: When I'm not sleeping, I plan on eating.

Running: I will exercise caution here, because the last time I ran in the moutains, I did not take into account the conspicuous lack of oxygen present at 12,000 feet. I got lightheaded, hallucinated that there were leprechauns in the ditch, and then toppled ass over teakettle into the ditch, gasping for air and feeling monumentally ill. I won't make the same mistake this time. I shall take things easy.

Take care all, and I'll see you next week.

UPDATE: Just running an experiment here to see how many hits I can garner by writing the name Katelyn Faber several times, alongside Kobe's accuser and Kobe's victim. Sooooooo. Katelyn Faber, Katelyn Faber, Katelyn Faber, Katelyn Faber, Katelyn Faber, Katelyn Faber, Katelyn Faber, Kobe's accuser, Kobe's accuser, Kobe's accuser, Kobe's accuser, Kobe's accuser, Kobe's victim, Kobe's victim, Kobe's victim, Kobe's victim, Kobe's victim, Kobe's victim.


Aw, that's just mean. Go here for pictures of Kobe's accuser, Kobe's victim, Katelyn Faber.

Posted by Ryan at 03:55 PM | Comments (0)

And Now, The Friday Cheddar X (It's Cheesier)

The assault upon the banality of the Friday Five forges on, as Erik continues to provide the Cheddar X revolution that will one day poke a fat, gnarled toe into the vagina of the Friday Five. Did I just type that? Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. . .

1. What are your top three favorite smells?

I'm partial to ass, specifically my ass. Okay, just joshing with ya. I love the smell of Japanese curry, which makes me salivate like Pavlov's dog no matter how full I may be. The smell of my parents' house in the morning when I visit them, a mixture of coffee, bacon and, I suspect, my father's breath; makes me feel 12 years old all over again. And, I LOVE that first day when I can actually smell the onset of spring (for a Minnesotan in winter, this is the equivalent of an orgasm after five months of celibacy).

2. What scents on men/women do you find most attractive? And what scents to you absolutely despise?

I'm really not attracted to any scent on a man, although the smell of Right Guard spray always reminds of my days playing football in high school. As for women? Let me see. My girlfriend wears this lotion consisting of watermelon and cucumber that smells like candy and makes me want to dive in and munch her box until my tongue is numb. Also, back in my college days, when I frequented an establishment where the women, strangely enough, went without clothes and snaked around brass poles, there was one woman who wore an unknown fragrance that always made my blood temperature rise eight degrees and made me want to fuck anything with a heartbeat. As for bad odors, I can't stand B.O. I know, I know, it's a totally natural smell, but I don't give a shit. If you stink like B.O., action should be taken immediately to rectify the situation.

3. What was your worst nickname growing up?

I had so many nicknames growing up, you probably wouldn't believe them. I would have to say that "Spaz" was the one I disliked the most, and I'm happy that it hasn't been invoked since 10th grade. I've also been called "Freak" for as long as I can remember, and back in my wrestling days, I was known as "Frog" due to my long legs. Other longstanding nicknames include "Mule," which I won't talk about here (although I still use that nickname as my handle for NTN trivia), and "Boxles," which was a short-lived nickname I had after an unfortunate scenario involving soiled boxer shorts and a glove compartment.

4. What nickname did you want to have?

Through my blog and my newspaper column, I'm on a one man crusade to become known as "a smoking hot specimen of male hunkiness" or ASHSOMH (which kind of sounds Jewish, now that I say it out loud). It would also be cool to be called "Thunder Hammer," but that's not too likely. Nicknames, usually, consist of one syllable, so I guess I'd be happy with "Thor," or "Zeus," or "Carl." Actually, scratch "Carl" off the list.

5. What was the last trick you pulled on someone?

I love the blazin' buffalo wings at Buffalo Wild Wings (caution: they're ass-puckering hot). I've been eating ass-puckering hot food dating back to my year living in Tokyo, so I can handle them with relative ease. Most of my Minnesota "meat and potato" friends, however, regard the blazin' wings with the same trepidation as a steer facing a red-hot branding iron. So it was, when I snuck a blazin' wing to my buddy, Jim, his reaction was one for the record books. He gladly snapped up the wing, scarfed down 3/4 of it, and then the heat hit him, and then his eyes started watering, and then he started drooling uncontrollably, and then he drank two pilsner glasses of beer so fast you'd think he was trying to win a contest. It was a grand old time.

6. What was the last trick you had pulled on you?

Well, let's see, I was told once that I had a bright future in journalism, and then I got my first reporting job for a daily newspaper making a smashing $6 an hour. That was a good fucking joke. I really haven't had any pranks played on me with regularity since college when my former roommate used to spritz his damned pepper spray all around my room, causing me to hack and wheeze and wonder what the hell was the matter with me. Ah, but those were the days.

UPDATE: Holy crap! When Anna over at Primal Purge links to you, you get a lot of fucking page views in a very short period of time. I respect and admire that. I would go masturbate right now, but I'm all exhausted from yesterday still.

Posted by Ryan at 10:52 AM | Comments (0)

July 17, 2003

Can't Argue With That

Many of the great ideas of mankind came about through arguments and discussions, intelligent and insightful back-and-forth between two or more people determined to reach a conclusion on a topic on which they disagreed. And then someone came along and chucked a grenade and spoiled everything.

According to a Reuters news item out of Belgrade, An elderly Serb ended a heated argument with his neighbor by lobbing a hand grenade and severing the man's arm, Tanjug news agency said Tuesday.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "now, where can I pick up a nice crate of argument grenades?" Okay, you're probably not thinking that.

Now, I know firsthand what a grenade can do, owing primarily to the fact that I, in an act of stupidity not soon to be surpassed, detonated a grenade in my backyard, with me standing not even four feet away, when I was at the ripe old age of 21. I emerged from the horrifying incident remarkably unscathed, albeit with a ringing in my left ear that didn't subside for four days.

Milan Djokic, 70, was charged with attempted murder and illegal weapons possession after attacking Slavko Grujic, also 70, in the northern town of Zrenjanin Monday.

Given my grenade experience, I can tell you, with a certain amount of authority, that a grenade is NOT an effective argumentation device. For one thing, a grenade, upon detonation, is extremely loud, so you may miss out on a key verbal repost from the person you're arguing with.

DJOKIC: Now, see here! Your stance on the current Iraq situation is dead wrong! You are completely missing the point of my meticulously thought out argument, and I simply must protest with the obligatory toss of a grenade. *throws grenade*

GRUJIC: No, no, no! It is you who are mistaken, and your argument is deeply flawed. You see, if you simply look at Iraq, you'll see that. . . *Boooooom!*

DJOKIC: Wait, wait! What did you just say? I missed that last part! The exploding grenade completely drowned you out. I'm sorry, could you repeat yourself?

GRUJIC: My arm! My arm! My precious arm! That grenade you threw blew off my arm!

DJOKIC: No, it was not the grenade that blew off your arm. Rather, it was the large rock that the exploding grenade sent flying at you that severed your arm. Please have your facts straight the next time we decide to argue.

Grujic first caught the grenade and threw it back, but the device exploded on a second try by Djokic. Tanjug did not say what they were arguing about.

Is it just me, or does this have all the makings of a kick-ass game show?

Raylene Richards. Raylene Richards. Raylene Richards. Raylene Richards. Raylene Richards. Raylene Richards.

Posted by Ryan at 04:18 PM | Comments (0)

A Swashbuckling Good Time

After a drop-dead awesome Indian meal consisting of chicken korma dipped in naan (courtesy of Rochester's India Garden restaurant), Melissa and I decided last night to go to a movie. Our choice: Pirates of the Caribbean. All I can say is: go see this flick. You'd never think it was a Disney flick, with all the killing and skeletons and bad teeth and the unknown actress who kept nipping out (Google search reveals her to be one Keira Knightly, and I'd very much like to have sex with her).

I don't normally like high seas pirate adventures, because they all seem cut from the same old boring slab of pirate stone. But, this movie was just fun from start to finish, and I'm obligated to like any movie that features a pirate crew consisting of skeletons and desiccating corpses. Trust me, you have to see the movie to understand what I mean. Oh, and the best line of the entire movie, which was apparently lost on everyone in the theater except me, was a mention of the city of Troy. "This is like what the Greeks did at Troy... Except they were in a horse instead of dresses." Ain't that the truth.

But the real savior of the movie (except for Knightly nipping out, I mean) was the performance of Johnny Depp as Capt. Jack Sparrow. It was just obvious that he had an absolute blast playing this role. You wouldn't think a man would be up to the challenge of portraying a seemingly perpetual drunk, slightly effeminate, genius pirate, but somehow he manages to do just that. Come to think of it, I think I may have been perfect for the role, but whatever.

I spent the first 20 minutes or so of the movie trying to figure out who one of the heroes was, and then it dawned on me he was Legolas from Lord of the Rings (Orlando Bloom, without the ridiculous long blonde hair and pointed ears). He did all right, but he paled in comparison to Depp. Bloom was working; Depp was having fun.

Go for Depp's acting. Go for the skeleton pirate crew. Go, go, go for Knightly's nipples. But most of all, just go. Marvin K. Mooney, will you please go now?

Posted by Ryan at 01:41 PM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2003

A Bad Meal

Wednesday is turkey and stuffing day in the IBM cafeteria, which means if nothing else catches your eye, you can load up with a heaping helping of turkey and stuffing. Today I finally realized just how awful IBM turkey and stuffing actually is.

I opted for a turkey sandwich on wheat bread, slathered with the most watery tan gravy I think I've ever ingested. The turkey, though consisting of large chunks, flaked apart like 20 year old particle board. And it was dry. Oh so dry. It was like shoving turkey flavored-sand in my mouth.

For the first time that I can recall, I had to pause while eating, because the excessively dry bolus of turkey, bread and gravy snaked down my throat at a speed so slow you'd think time had stopped within my body. And I had nothing to wash it down with. No water. No milk. No Diet Pepsi. Nothing. I just had to sit there and wait for the food wad to squish down to my stomach. It felt like ages, I tell you. Ages!

But nothing could prepare me for the stuffing, which was more or less wet bread with burnt black edges, spiced with something that tasted suspiciously like cinnamon.

Thus defeated, I pushed my plate away and came back to my office. I'm still hungry, but I'm not THAT hungry. Yuck.

UPDATE: You know, when Michele at A Small Victory links to you, you get a lot of fucking page views in a very short period of time. I respect and admire that. And now I'm pondering masturbation of some sort.

Posted by Ryan at 01:39 PM | Comments (0)

Jill Nelson In The Crosshairs

Where would I be without Jill Nelson lobbing up big soft squishy logic softballs for me to hit out of the park? It seems every time she takes out her pen and writes something, it just screams to be ripped apart. She's a cliche-ridden gasbag who is convinced America is on the verge of goose stepping Nazism. She parodies herself. But, don't take my words for it, take her's:

NEW YORK, July 15 — Each day, it seems, another American soldier is killed in Iraq, even though the war has long "ended." It's difficult to imagine the anguish of the parents and loved ones of these young men and women who have died after major military combat was declared over, especially since the house of cards that the Bush administration used to justify the invasion is crumbling like a sandcastle during high tide.

Ooh, that's evocative. Which is it? A house of cards or a crumbling sandcastle? Doesn't this woman have an editor? Let me just take a moment to shred her opening statement. She uses a lead salvo invoked by every anti-war, Saddam-ain't-so-bad, quagmire gloom and doomer. Namely, a U.S. soldier is killed every day in Iraq. Well, let's look at the numbers here.

Let's see, a conservative estimate puts 100,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. Let's say one soldier dies each day, a victim of a disgruntled AK-47 weilding jihadist. That puts the liklihood of daily soldier death in Iraq at .0001 percent. That doesn't erase the tragedy of a soldier's death, far from it. But, this is a hot post-war zone we're talking about people. Just because the war itself is over doesn't mean the troops can lower their weapons, kick up their boots and take things easy.

YESTERDAY, GEORGE W. BUSH, looking more than ever like the befuddled Alfred E. Newman of MAD magazine fame, insisted that the intelligence used to justify the war was "darn good." This in the face of clear evidence that his allegation in his State of the Union message that Iraq had tried to buy uranium from the African nation of Niger was untrue, and that high-ranking members of his administration knew it.

If that's all the Democrats have to work with in 2004, they're pretty much fucked. The quote little Jill is talking about is: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." This is an intelligence report that Britain still stands behind. So how, exactly, did Bush lie here? Anyone? Bueller? And you just gotta love her vague "high-ranking members of his administration" allegation. Does she mean the member who actually doesn't exist, or someone else?

And where are the so-called "weapons of mass destruction"? Where are the jubilant, "liberated" Iraqi citizens dancing in the streets? Where, oh where, is Saddam Hussein? Or Osama bin-Laden for that matter?

I wonder, sometimes, what the nay-sayers will say if a truck full of anthrax is discovered buried in Iraq, when their WMD carpet is yanked out from under their feet. What spin do you think they'll use. I guess we'll have to wait and see. Excuse me, but how long, exactly, are the Iraqi citizens supposed to be jubilant and dance in the streets. You'd think they'd get awfully tired feet after two fricken' months. They may not be dancing around any more, but neither are they swarming over our troops like locusts. They're giving us the time and benefit of the doubt that we'll get things up and running. Not in Jill's mind of course, but there's little room left in Jill's mind for anything other than her virulent hatred of all things Bush.

In spite of the administration's arrogant assurances that the war would be short and convincing, that the Iraqi military would immediately crumble, that "shock and awe" would allow U.S. and British forces to fight a fairly bloodless war, what has happened?

Oh, I know! I know! A fairly bloodless war! Next question please.

From the onset of this corrupt and opportunistic military action there has been Iraqi resistance. And now that the official, brought-to-you-by-the-hawks war of the Bush administration has ended, the real war has started. This is the guerilla war, no matter what the administration wants to call it, in which attacks against U.S. facilities and troops are constant and casualties higher than during the "real" war. This is the war without a Big Bad Wolf named Saddam Hussein to point to and declare the bogeyman, a war led by Iraqis who, much as they despised Saddam, resist the invasion and occupation of their country.

Yeah, a real sophisticated guerilla war they have going on there. Top of the line guerilla tactics. The nutballs who stormed Columbine High School were more organized than the rabble taking pot shots at U.S. troops in Iraq.

Yet it seems that when it comes to the war in Iraq and the Bush administration, Americans insist on pulling the covers over our heads and living in the midst of a fractured fairy tale, steadfastly refusing to wake up and recognize the very real nightmare that surrounds us.

Um, no, Americans are content and realistic enough to realize that rebuilding Iraqi infrastructure and trust, while sweeping away Ba'ath party clingers will take a little while.

Even in the face of new evidence every day that the administration knowingly used faulty intelligence, lied about Iraqi resistance, was determined to invade Iraq come hell or high water, and manipulated public opinion with lies about "weapons of mass destruction," much of America seems undisturbed.

Yeah, I'm undisturbed because blanket statements like that one are so flawed they border on lies themselves.

No matter that hundreds of American, British and Iraqi lives have been, and continue to be, lost. No matter that no one has any idea where Saddam, the alleged object of our wrath and invasion, is.

Wait a minute, I thought WMD was the object of our invasion. I'm so confused now.

No matter that many Iraqis feel less safe now living under the regime of their American "liberators" than they did under their homegrown dictator.

Here's where the tinfoil hat-wearing nonsense comes in. In Jill's convoluted world, things were somehow better under Saddam. Brianna. Banks. Brianna. Brianna Banks. Banks. Stormy. Sexy. Ashley. Robbins. Sandra. Shine. Sandra.

As Americans, we should all be casting a cold, critical, and unrelenting eye on George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, and all the other members of the Bush Gang who lied us into this quagmire.

Yes! She said it! Quagmire! I can't believe it took her so long. I was beginning to get worried. Quagmire my ass. Now, Germany's push into Russia in WWII; that was a quagmire. The decade-long fuck-fest known as Vietnam; that was a quagmire. Iraq after four months? Quagmire my ass.

I understand that many Americans are frightened and overwhelmed, and that our government has made it clear that to question policy is to be at best unpatriotic, at worst treasonous. Yet we cannot let fear stop us from our obligation to participate in democracy.

I know that when I question our pathetic homeland security, the pathetic economy, and everything else that's pathetic about Bush and company, I'm worried the men in black suits are going to show up and clamp on the leg irons and drag me away to a dark room with needles and red hot pokers. If this truly was the rabid police state of fear and intimidation that Jill likes to make it out to be, then her sloppily written tripe wouldn't be gracing the pages of MSNBC.com now would it.

It's clear that Iraq is not the end of the administration's objectives. They are already roiling the waters against Iran and, more cautiously, North Korea. As they do so, our ability to bury our heads under the covers and ignore what's going on steadily decreases.

Did you know we're roiling the waters against Iran and North Korea? I must have missed that week. As for the Jill Nelson cliche-watch, please note the "bury our heads under the covers" bit. Could this woman PLEASE have an original thought!

Where is the little child of the fairy tale brave enough to see the truth and declare, "The emperor has no clothes!" Probably in hiding. If he appeared in this American town square, the people would likely stone or bludgeon him to death.

No, we'd probably just ignore him.

Posted by Ryan at 11:10 AM | Comments (0)

July 15, 2003

The Closest I'll Ever Get To Writing Alongside Dave Barry

Now this is just too damned fun! Via Michele at A Small Victory, I was steered toward a little bit of tomfoolery being conducted by Dave Barry. What sort of tomfoolery, you ask? Well, how about this:

MEANWHILE, however, this blog has a little project to amuse anybody who is interested, involving a wonderful site called www.poetry.com, which was brought to this blog's attention by alert reader Laura Stark. Aspiring poets can go there and submit poems in the poetry contest, and maybe even -- incredibly -- have their poems selected for inclusion in heirloom-quality-bound volumes that are -- What are the odds of this? -- for sale!

So anyway, this blog was just thinking how interesting it would be if a whole bunch of people submitted poems that contained a certain key poetic phrase. To see how it might work, this blog submitted a poem under the pen name of "Freemont A. Harkins," entitled: "A Sad Day." Here's how it goes:

A Sad Day

i am sad, so very sad
the tears run down my nose
it was a happy day until
the dog ate mother's toes

You can see this poem at www.poetry.com, using the search engine to search for "Freemont Harkins." Wouldn't it be fun if a lot of people submitted poems using a Pen Name that began with "Freemont" and incorporating the phrase, "the dog ate mother's toes"? Then we all could search for poems written under the first name of "Freemont" -- currently, this blog is the only one -- and see how creative everybody was!

I'll probably be submitting poems as the day progresses, because I'm a time-wasting nutball like that. Here's my submission list:

Dog Day Afternoon
by Freemont Freemonton Freemontery

All dogs, they say, will have their day
They'll get their day in court
But Rex, I think, will have to pay
And his life may be cut short

He looks at me with mournful eyes
And I know he's deeply sorry
His tail is tucked between his thighs
Like an arm of calimari

I can't forgive Rex for what he's done
And this, I think, Rex knows
Though I'm sure he thought it was quite fun
When the dog ate my mother's toes.

Book Critique
by Freemont Erting Magoo

I recall with youthful glory
The book "Where The Red Fern Grows"
But I think it would improve the story
If a dog ate mother's toes.

Foul Play Is Afoot
by Freemont Xavier Mongrove

An autopsy today revealed something that almost no one knows
Apparently, the coroner says, the dog ate mother's toes.

Loss of blood was the cause of death, from gaping wounds on mother's feet.
All because our beloved spaniel thought her toes were doggy treats.

All ten digits were gnawed away, and her corns were gone as well
There really isn't much more to say. What more is there to tell?

Why, oh why, did our dog do this thing? Why did mother have to die?
We'll have to put our dog down now because, well, you know, eye for an eye.

As our dog is laid to rest, we'll pet him, and we'll weep,
To soften his journey into that eternal doggy sleep.

And perhaps he'll meet our mother there, and her feet will be intact.
There will be no signs whatsoever that her toes had been attacked.

Mother and dog will dance and play through Heaven's golden gates
And the dog will eat only the best Purina on golden doggy plates.

>From this happy dream I just awoke, and then my blood just froze
Because I think it's truly chilling that the dog ate mother's toes.

Dog. Interrupted.
by Freemont Galveston Montreax

I came across a ghastly scene
Now emblazoned in my mind
A scene so nasty and so mean
There is nothing of its kind.

Bo, my dog, my faithful friend
A companion through the years
Went way way off the deeper end
Went crazy between his floppy ears

In the kitchen the deed was done
This tale I tremble to relate
My mother's toes, they numbered none
I had arrived too late.

The attack was swift, because Bo is quick
He moves as fast as lightning goes
And though it may make readers sick
The dog had eaten mother's toes.

I startled Bo, as he dined,
gnashing away at toes four and five
He growled at me, but ran away
Old Bo had lost his mind.

Mother limps now, with a cane
And I never found old Bo.
He's out there, somewhere; a dog insane
With a taste for human toe.

Posted by Ryan at 11:56 AM | Comments (1)

July 14, 2003

Blow Job Denial

She was crying.

I never know how to approach a crying girl. It's much like coming across a $100 bill. You don't know what to think, and you look around for a bit before moving towards it.

It was early in the morning, just after 5:30 a.m. It was one of those extremely rare mornings when I actually had to prepare the meat department for the day, which meant uncovering the meat case and filling up any dwindling stock. It was boring, monotonous work, and it was made more distasteful because I knew, in three hours, I would have to take off for my first class of the day: philosophy, I think, or maybe it was Vietnam history. I can't remember. Let's just say it was a sucky class and leave it at that.

Normally, only one person was required to prepare the meat counter in the morning, but because Christmas was fast approaching, the grocery powers that be decreed that two people should be on hand to prepare the varied departments. This meant that one person would do all the work while the other person would sit around and nurse a hangover. It was far more efficient that way.

That morning, my meat department teammate was Stephanie. I'd always liked Steph. She was short and cute and bubbly and fun, and we even had a few summer journalism classes together. We had one of those friendships that was based almost entirely on ripping on one another. She'd call me a dick, I'd call her a bitch, she'd slug me in the stomach, and I'd parry with a punch to her shoulder, and then we'd retreat to separate corners to nurse our respective wounds.

A little blonde unit, Steph had a tomboyish side to her, which on her it was an extremely attractive quality. She could toggle quickly between being "one of the guys" to being coy and teasing and sometimes even sultry, albeit sultry in a Steph way, which meant sexy mixed with a punch to the gut. Trust me, it was cute.

I'd never seen Steph cry though. She was just one of those stoic girls who could lose her hand on the meat band saw and just suck it up until the ambulance arrived, and she'd probably finish cleaning the saw before it even got there. So, seeing Steph cry, with her hands buried in her face, only about a foot away from the deli slicer, made me pause.

On the one hand, she may have been hurt by the slicer, which was entirely possible because I'd lost part of the tip of my finger on the slicer about a year before, and trust me, I wanted to cry. On the other hand, this was Steph. Steph didn't cry. She was incapable of crying. Plus, crying was not allowed in the meat department. The meat department was the manly department. It was secretly understood that crying was banned. Besides, tears made the T-bones taste salty.

I approached Steph tentatively, scanning for blood and accessing my dusty brain archives for my dormant first aid training skills. As I got closer, however, I realized she wasn't injured, at least not externally. All I could think to do was put my hand on her shoulder and ask if there was anything I could do. This was an alien gesture for me when it came to Steph. I felt as if I should punch her in the shoulder for good measure.

She was startled at first, so lost in her misery that she didn't know I was there. Once she saw it was me, however, she grasped my hand in hers and started crying harder. There was no way I was going to get my morning work done at this rate. Women. Well, now she had my hand, and she was crying, and I wasn't sure why, but I was pretty much convinced it had to be a relationship issue, and I wasn't a good enough friend to sit there and listen to how her boyfriend had dumped her. I mean, come on! There was work to be done, after all.

In a move totally uncharacteristic of Steph, she went from a clasped hand to a full-fledged hug, burying her face in my chest, and I could feel her tears seeping through both my meat apron and my shirt. This girl was going to dehydrate herself. I hugged her back, while at the same time I noticed that the boneless chicken breasts really needed to be refilled. The boneless chicken breasts ALWAYS needed to be refilled. They were a popular item, particularly the teriyaki marinated chicken breasts. I'll admit it: the teriyaki chicken breasts were pretty damned tasty, but they were messy, and. . .

Steph bit me. She bit me right on the chest. Hard. Over the next couple of days, that bite would leave a nasty bruise, a purple and blue welt smack dab in the center of my chest, right over the sternum. And let me just state for the record, it fucking hurt like hell. Ladies, if you wish to hurt a man, try biting him on the chest, right over the sternum. I guarantee he'll scream bloody murder.

I shoved Steph back, and she released her mandibular lock on my chest. She looked up at me with a smile that was combined with both sadness and her trademark devilish grin. Whatever was bothering her, whatever made her cry, she wasn't going to tell me. She wiped at her eyes and started busying herself with preparing the meat case.

"That really fucking hurt!" I exclaimed, pretty much blurting out the obvious. "What's the matter with you this morning, anyway? Man problems?"

"Men are always a problem," she shot back. "And you deserved that bite because last time we worked together you squirted meat blood on my ass."

Oh. Right. Good point. Ah, meat department hi-jinx. How I miss it.

"Fine! Whatever!" I said, pretty much saying nothing at all. "Are you going to be all right though? I can cover for you if you're not up to. . ."

"I'm fucking fine," she said, dismissing me with a wave of her hand, and then she disappeared into the back storage area and I didn't see her for the next ten minutes.

I muttered as I worked, rubbing my bite wound occasionally. As much as I disliked preparing the meat department, I have to admit there was something nice about the solitude of the early morning, with only sound being the buzzing flourescent lights and the meat cooler and display cases. It was mechanical, non-thinking work, which freed the mind to think about things it wanted to think about. Strangely, at 5:30 in the morning, my mind usually only wanted to think about sleep.

I went into the big meat cooler to fetch the five gallon pail of chicken breasts we used for marinating them in teriyaki. I always thought it was funny how we used five gallon pails for marinating. Julia Child never did that.

"Sorry I bit you so hard," said Steph, who had snuck up behind me and startled me so bad I dropped the pail of chicken tits on my foot. The force also popped the top off the pail and sent a lonely teriyaki-soaked chicken breast skittering across the floor.

I studied the breast for moment, thinking it would make a nice cheap dinner for the evening if I snatched it up off the floor quickly enough. My thoughts were quickly brought back to reality when Steph grabbed at my chest. It wasn't a violent chest grab, either. It was one of those seductive hands snaking up from the stomach to the neck jobs that make me roll my eyes deep into my skull.

What transpired was the most violent make-out session I've ever had. Period. Upon the first kiss, it became immediately obvious that, in addition to be an emotional wreck that morning, Steph was also drunk out of her mind. Her tongue tasted like a cocktail mixed with a shot of Aftershock. I'd never seen her drunk before, and I wasn't sure why she was drunk, but boy was she drunk. How drunk was she? Well, she was making out with me. That's how drunk she was. Plus, she was making out with me in a meat cooler, which should also tell you something.

I've never actually tried to French kiss a mountain lion, but if I did, I'm pretty sure the experience would be tame compared to what Steph did to me that morning. She bit my tongue. She bit my lips. She bit my neck. And she bit my chest again. I wasn't sure if she was making out or having dinner. Then, she started working on my pants, and I became aware that she was about to give me a blow job.

And I stopped her.

You read that right. I, Ryan Rhodes, perhaps the biggest fan of fellatio ever to walk the earth, stopped a woman from giving me a blow job.

I stopped Steph for many reasons. I stopped her because I knew that the meat department manager was due in at any moment. I stopped her because I had a girlfriend at the time. But, ultimately, I stopped her because I was absolutely certain she was going to treat my penis like a doberman with a rawhide. Given the bruise on my chest and the blood oozing from the bite on my lip, I was not going to give Steph access to my most prized possession. No way.

That moment of clarity brought us both back from the brink of sexual euphoria, and we both realized that what we were doing was somewhat odd, and it probably violated almost every meat department-related health code on the books. Steph detached herself from me with a last bite/kiss and went back out to attempt work, although she was so drunk her usefullness bordered on zero. I managed to get everything up an running just minutes before the manager showed up for the day.

Steph left work early that day, even before I left for class. I didn't see her at work or on campus for about a week. When I did finally see her again, she was picking up her final paycheck. She had taken a different job on campus. We both pretended that the meat cooler incident hadn't happened, which was probably for the best. I saw her in class a few times, and we worked together on some projects, in addition to bumping into each other at the bars once in awhile.

I never found out what had been bothering Steph that morning, and we never mentioned the incident when we were together. I wonder sometimes now where she is and what she's doing, and if she's adopted a more non-violent approach to sex.

And I've never looked at chicken breasts the same way since.

Blow job. Blow job. Blow job. Blow job. Blow job. Blow job.

Posted by Ryan at 11:47 AM | Comments (2)

July 11, 2003

Something Stinks About Big Media

In case you missed it, and you probably did, there were massive student protests in Iran earlier this week, as well as substantial protests in now-Chinese-controlled Hong Kong.

I'm trying to understand the dearth of big media news coverage on these stories. I mean, students demonstrating and calling for regime change in Iran, IRAN!, should make news stands everywhere and be covered by as many networks as there are channels? Why? Because those students need to get the word out; they're relying on the world to pick up on their cause. The pen is mightier than the sword only if the pen finds mass distribution. As it is, it seems, the protests were quickly crushed, and the majority of the world remains mostly oblivious to their courage to speak out and their violent oppression.

Look at those pictures. And then look at these (both links via Andrew Sullivan). Just for a moment, imagine this type of crackdown happening across U.S. campuses (Kent State being an unfortunate exception). It would be splashed across every newspapaper from small town weeklies to the most omnipresent daily. Ah, but this was Iran, IRAN! Who cares? Well, damn it, I care! Here was a chance to encourage revolution from within a country rather than rumbling tanks across the borders. A revolution against an outdated and oppressive Islamic mullah-controlled government. With just a little coverage, we could have dealt a massive blow to their stranglehold on power, all without requiring a shot. But, nothing, or very nearly nothing. Way to drop the ball, guys.

I wonder, sometimes, if the big media organizations have simply gotten lazy, content to sprawl lazily on their lucrative advertising revenue, sacrificing journalistic integrity just so they can have a wealthy pulpit from which to spew their political viewpoints. Most daily newspapers, I think, have become mouthpieces for either the right or the left, with few genuinely interested in maintaining fair and balanced reporting. They've become tools of persuasion rather than disseminators of information. This goes against everything I learned in my journalism classes, and I seethe sometimes when I read editorials and commentary.

But, this was different. This was actual news, big time earth-trembling news. Iranian students demanding change. Hong Kong residents demanding free elections. This was like selective hearing on the part of big media, a twist on the tree falling the woods question. If demonstrations take place in world political hotspots, and no news organizations cover it, do they really happen?

Unfortunately, it seems, in this case, they never really did.

UPDATE: Fascinating (Via Instapundit).

UPDATE: Apologies to the Cheddar X. Once again, I'm leaving work early and cannot blog to the extent to which I'd like. I'll try to get at it on Sunday. Or something.

Posted by Ryan at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)

July 10, 2003

Shameless Self Promotion Via Pamela Anderson

As anticipated, my site metter is going through the roof with people doing searches on Stripperella in a variety of, uh, interesting ways.

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

July 09, 2003

Beheading The Headlines

I start my day, usually, with a quick perusal of MSNBC.com. It's not the best source of news, nor is it the worst, but it's pretty well rounded. Today offered up some tidbits that were both funny and irritating.

Apparently, Mike Tyson, the paranormal pugilist with an affinity for earlobes, doesn't like his life much. What a crying shame.

NEW YORK, July 8 — Mike Tyson says he has lost his soul as a human being and hates himself. "Maybe in my next life, I'll have a better life,� Tyson said in an interview for Fox Sports Net's "Beyond the Glory,� to be broadcast July 16.

The guy is a thug. A brainless, raping, unfeeling piece of shit thug. He made millions of dollars because he could throw a punch hard enough to send the Ryan Rhodeses of the world into orbit (quick Google search on my name reveals that, hey, I'm a boxer). The adoring masses of the world elevated this waste of human flesh to the level of a god, showering him with money for no other reason but because he could beat people up. I hope in his next life (assuming he's granted such an honor), he comes back as a 98 lb. weakling with a massive intellect but who gets toilet swirlies every day into his 50s. That's karma.

In other sports-related news, the high school basketball phenom, LeBron James, who sports more tattoos at 18 than most sailors in their 60s, made his pseudo NBA debut last night.

ORLANDO, Fla., July 8 — LeBron James dominated the competition to the delight of his audience, then eyeballed the scoreboard for his own satisfaction. With 14 points, seven rebounds and six assists Tuesday night, the most talked-about high school draft pick in NBA history thrilled a huge crowd that waited several hours to see him make his pro basketball debut.

I'm just guessing here, but if I had millions of dollars at my disposal at 18, combined with an adoring public who thought I was the best and brightest thing since the sun flashed into existence, I'm fairly certain that the darker side of life would have enticed me into a world of drugs, drunkeness and unrestrained libido. That's not because I'm a weak human being. It's because I was a complete and total moron at 18, just like every other 18-year-old who ever lived. I'm just now learning how stupid I was at 18, and in retrospect I wasn't all that bright at 25 either. Giving the keys to the castle to an 18 year old basketball prodigy has certain doom spelled all over it. Just ask Kobe Bryant.

Speaking of not learning a damn thing in 18 years, a man emerged from a 19 year coma last month, which would put his last conscious moment somewhere in 1984. Luckily for him, most of the fashion trends common back then are popular again, so the transition to the new millenium hopefully won't be too difficult.

"It's kind of peculiar. He wrecked on Friday the 13th and 19 years later he started talking on Friday the 13th,� Jerry Wallis said.


President Dubya is all over the news today, which I guess isn't too surprising, seeing as how he's the president and all. Apparently, his popularity is slipping. Although I support our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, overall I don't particularly like this guy. He tends to bumble everything. economy? Sucks. Homeland Security? I'll take vanilla, thank you. Nation building? Needs work.

Discontent with Bush's efforts to revive the economy rose from 53 percent in May to 62 percent, while 72 percent — including 52 percent of Republicans — said the president was not doing enough to deal with the nation's growing health care problems.

If the Democraps, er, Democrats, could maybe find some focus and offer up a candidate who can chip away at our verbally challenged Commander-in-Chief, they may actually have a chance in '04. Lord knows they have plenty of ammunition to use against the Republican'ts, er, RepublicaNs. What sort of ammunition? Oh, I don't know.

WASHINGTON, July 9 — President Bush on Wednesday defended his use of prewar intelligence on Iraq, saying he is "absolutely confident� in his actions despite the discovery that one claim he made about Saddam Hussein's weapons pursuits was based on false information.

As I opined to Arrancia, I'm not phased much by the lack of WMDs in Iraq. I think the discovery of components for a uranium-enriching centrifuge and mobile bio-toxin labs pretty much speak volumes about the intent of the Hussein regime, and I'm still convinced other such discoveries will come to light. Apparently, Saddam's philosophy was "when the going gets tough, bury the shit in the sand." More and more, however, it's becoming obvious that Bush and company used "fuzzy numbers" to expedite the Iraq invasion. Although I approve of the war and the rebuilding effort, I don't like being lied to. That could be a major sticking point for a lot of voters, myself included.

Finally, we learn that the disgusting puke who opened fire on his assembly line colleagues in Marion, Mississippi yesterday was "mad at the world." As much as I hate to defend Mike Tyson at this juncture, at least he just SAYS he hates his life rather than killing five people because of it.

MARION, Miss., July 8 — Police on Wednesday were trying to determine why an assembly-line worker described as "mad at the world� left a business ethics workshop at an aircraft parts plant only to return and gun down 14 colleagues, killing five. Doug Williams shot himself Tuesday following his rampage at the Lockheed Martin plant.

And so begins another day in the never-ending world of the news cycle.

UPDATE: For DD. I went Here. Here. Here. Here. And here. Of course, for every story you find supporting something, there's one right next door debunking it. More often than not, we tend to favor those accounts that bolster our own preconceptions. But, in either case, centrifuge or mobile labs, the burning question remains: why the hell would you bury either? Something's rotten in Denmark, or Iraq as the case may be.

UPDATE: Apparently, a liar lied about Bush lying. Arrrr, the plot thickens.

ANOTHER UPDATE: This post is too serious, so here's some Jennifer Love Hewitt looking sexy. Jennifer Love Hewitt. Jennifer Love Hewitt is sexy. Jennifer Love Hewitt. Jennifer Love Hewitt. Jennifer Love Hewitt nude. Not Jennifer Love Hewitt. Jennifer Love Hewitt has big breasts.

Posted by Ryan at 11:04 AM | Comments (0)

July 08, 2003

You Were Looking For What, Exactly?

It's time, once again, to visit the site meter and find out what chance Google visitors to this blog were looking for. When last we checked in, "exposed+thongs" held a commanding lead, accounting for virtually 75 percent of all Google hits. As fetishes go, I guess lusting over exposed thongs is pretty tame. Of course you realize, by typing exposed thongs over and over again, I'm bound to boost my site meter hits for Googlers looking for exposed thongs. Hmmmmm. That's a good marketing ploy, as Erik would attest. So, maybe I should dabble in a little shameless self-promotion by writing down a lot of terms that are sure to bring in the sex-starved Googlers.

Stripperella. Stripperella naked. Naked pictures of Stripperella. My penis inserted into Stripperella. Sex with Stripperella. Anal sex with Stripperella.

That should bring 'em in. Heh.

Although searches for exposed thongs may have declined, the slack has been picked up in an unusual place: "Blue+whale+sperm." Seriously, there seems to be a general thirst for blue whale sperm. Er, yuck! Let me reword that. There seems to be a lot of interest in blue whale sperm. Some examples:


And other variations thereof.

Elsewhere in the Googlesphere, people have landed here doing searches on the following:

"condom+rip+cat" -- Sure, buddy, blame it on the cat.
"Tasha+Yar+Wesley+fucking" -- Hmmm, I must have missed that episode. Damn it.
"awaking+morning+ejaculation" -- Sounds like a puberty search to me. Trust me, my lad, it's perfectly normal.
"canine+yoga" -- Variations on this search probably came in a close second behind whale ejaculation. Dog yoga? I still can't fucking believe it.
"Missouri+brothels" -- Planning a trip, are we?
"Fireworks+penis+blown+off" -- *stifling a combination of laugh and cringe*
"Iraqi+thongs" -- Heh, I keep imagining Salam Pax wearing one of these. Scary. Funny, but scary.
"lost+toddler+underwear" -- Just buy the kid a new pair and quit searching already. Then again, I suppose the toddler may be lost, not the underwear.
"Ryan+Rhodes+IBM+slacker" -- Uh oh. That can't be good.

Posted by Ryan at 03:46 PM | Comments (1)

There's Just No Pleasing Some People

So, let me see if I understand this: prior to the war in Iraq, protesters maintained that the U.S. wasn't interested in rebuilding Iraq, only oil. Now they're upset because we're keeping our troops there to rebuild Iraq? Make up your freakin' mind!

I suppose it was only a matter of time before the term "quagmire" was invoked. After all, here we are about three months into the rebuilding effort and Iraq, strangely enough, hasn't become the next Japan. Throw into the mix the occasional AK-47 or RPG pot shot at our troops, and you simply have to conclude that this is the next Vietnam, only with more sand.

Since when does rebuilding a nation have a timetable? And since when is it expected that, because the actual war is considered over, no further casualties should occur? Hell, this is a civilian population that deems it customary to shoot AK-47 rounds into the air during weddings. They're like the NRA on speed. Everyone and their newborn half-cousin has a rifle laying around somewhere. It's only expected that some disgruntled Saddam loyalists will decide to attack U.S. troops here and there. Am I the only person not surprised by this?

But, according to the nearest anti-war, anti-Bush, anti-everything-but-tofu-and-Robert Fisk individual, all these problems are indicative of an Iraqi population that wants all Americans dead and Saddam back in power, you know, because he was such a nice guy and he managed to keep power up and running for, at least, 18 hours on any given day rather than the paltry eight or so the Americans can provide.

Listen, I know that our presence in Iraq isn't all that popular with the Iraqis. After all, we did invade them and bomb them and make them cower in the corner praying for their lives and all as the jets flew over. War is a bitch like that. However, I don't think the attacks on our troops represent coordinated attacks by the Iraqi population as a whole. If that were the case, our troops wouldn't have a chance. They'd be huddled in their Humvees as angry Iraqi crowds swarmed over them. But, that's not happening. By and large, they are giving us the time we need to fix the shit we broke and make better the land that Saddam ravaged with his meglomaniacal regime.

True, things could be going better. Things could always be going better. Truthfully, though, I don't think the planners that envisioned the grand rebuilding design really took into account the culture of the people. This is the Middle East, after all, an area of the world so fascinated with hatred of the Jews and Americans, it's practically an undeclared sport.

I know, I know, we're supposed to speak highly of the Islamic faith. Fine. Yay Islam! Go Muslims! Allahu Akbar and all that. But, there's Islam, the faith of tolerance, and then there's Islam, the faith that stapled an extra chapter to the Koran that advocates the killing of all Jews and calls for jihad against every infidel that looks at you funny. That brand of Islam seems to have tendrils snaking throughout most of the Middle East. Syria. Iraq. Iran. Saudi Arabia. Afghanistan. You name it. These are nations that feature fanatical mullahs who wave scimitars and call for the beheading of Zionists and those who support them (i.e. the U.S.). When was the last time you saw the a Cardinal or bishop slicing the air to augment a hate-filled diatribe?

The point is, the Middle East sucks, to put it as succinctly as possible. And we've let it suck for years because letting the Middle East suck, quite simply, seemed better than taking any action. It's true, the West hasn't been particularly proactive in getting the Middle East to suck less. We've connived and slithered behind the scenes, making deals to ensure an unimpeded flow of oil, and backing distasteful regimes in the hopes that they'd destroy another distasteful regime. Our hands aren't clean on this one. But since when does past guilt preclude one from trying to rectify things? The problem is, we're trying to rectify things a little late in the game. The Middle East has had plenty of time to build up distrust and hate.

So, they seethed, and they hated, and they grew long beards, and they sat on their asses listening to the dictates of sword-weilding mullahs. The end result is the current stagnant cesspool of no creativity and no innovation. Think about it. Besides oil, name a major export of the Middle East. The greatest minds of the Middle East tend to high tail it out of the area, which is a sign of a great mind. The rest of the folks just kind of sit in a state of limbo, many of them unable to think for themselves any more. They expect others to tell them what to do rather than doing things for themselves. Somewhere along the way, someone told some of them to fly airplanes into buildings and strap bombs on themselves and blow themselves up. And they listened.

That's why this rebuilding effort in Iraq is so important. That's why it's worth all the sweat and blood and violence. That's why I'm willing to give the U.S. all the time it needs to get the country up and running again. Ultimately, if we can get the Iraqis to think for themselves, to act for themselves, to look beyond the shit their lives are now to a more prosperous future where they actually have a voice that matters, to open their eyes to hope rather than hate, then it's all been worth it. More than worth it.

It's a long shot. And it could fail. And the upcoming months won't be pretty. But, we have to try, because it's just too dangerous to allow the Middle East to suck any more.

Bring 'em on.

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

July 07, 2003

Fires And Burns And Other Such Stuff

Why, yes, it is the Monday following the 4th of July weekend. And I have the burns to prove it. I'm sure you're all shaking with anticipatory tingles awaiting my 4th of July redux, so let's begin.

First off, I'm now an official black belt, with all the perks and advantages that come with that status, which are, approximately, none. Except for pride, I suppose. I was very proud. I am very proud. It was a modest black belt presentation ceremony. The head instructor called my name, I jogged up to stand before him, and he told me to remove my red belt. Normally, when a man tells me to remove an article of clothing, I'm in a doctor's office, or there's a gun pointed at me, or I really just need the money. But, I removed my belt and then the head instructor presented me with my new, flashy black belt, which he took it upon himself to tie around my waist. Normally, when a man ties something around my waist, I'm in a doctor's office, or there's a gun pointed at me, or I really just need the money. At any rate, I have my new belt, and I spent the next couple of days glancing over at it because I thought it was cool. It's a little bit rigid, so it doesn't hang like a well-worn belt. Instead, it kind of points at odd angles. Thankfully, there were two other students in my class with new black belts, so I wasn't alone. We looked rather uncomfortable in our new martial arts uniforms and belts, like flexible kicking nuns or something.

After class, I went home and was greeted by Melissa, who wanted to cook fajitas over a campfire. Unfortunately, it was getting late, and no matter how many people I called, I couldn't secure a nice countryside locale where we could camp and launch fireworks. As an unusual compromise, I dragged out the gas grill, and Mel said that would suffice. So, I set about lighting the grill which, like most gas grills, has a broken lighter button. Instead, I simply let the gas hiss out while I threw matches at it from a distance, waiting for one lucky spark to slip between the grate and. . .


No matter how many times that happens, my butt still puckers. There's the satisfaction of knowing the grill is lit, and the common sense gnome on my shoulder telling me there simply has to be a better way to light a grill. Ultimately, I think that's why I prefer charcoal grills. Lighter fluid is more gradual, more friendly, more relaxed. A gas grill is instant. A charcoal grill reminds you to take a time out. Sit back. Smell the summer. Chill out.

Of course, the pyromaniac in me wouldn't allow me to sit idly while Mel prepared fajitas. I had to run and grab some fireworks: just some small things. Some jumping jacks, a couple of roman candles, and a couple of other things that looked cool but didn't appear large enough to attract the attention of local law enforcement officials.

The instructions on roman candles clearly state that you should not hold them in your hand, so of course I felt compelled to hold them in my hand. After all, you can't make rude masturbation miming motions unless you hold the roman candles in your hand. So, there I was waving a roman candle around, launching firey balls to and fro, a wizard with his magic wand, when suddenly I heard Mel yell "Holy shit." She doesn't yell that very often, and somehow I knew she wasn't yelling it at me, so I turned around to see. . .

The grill was on fire. Yes, yes, I know. . . it's SUPPOSED to be on fire, but not like this. Something besides what was supposed to be on fire was on fire. There was a bright blaze emanating from where the gas valve connects with the main grilling part of the grill. That's not good. That's not even close to good. What was worse was there was something, some sort of insulation foam or tape or something, that was also on fire, and it was dripping flaming drops directly on to the propane tank. On. To. The. Propane. Tank. EEP!

My gut instinct was to break into a dead sprint away from the grill, and not stop running until I heard the inevitable explosion reverberating around the neighborhood. That was my gut instinct, but I suppressed it. Maybe it was the black belt inside me, or more likely the realization that everything I owned on this planet was within a 30 foot radius of the grill. Whatever it was, I ran TOWARDS the grill, launching roman candle balls all the way. With dripping flaming tape falling on my hand, I managed to turn off the gas, and then I started madly blowing at the remaining fingers of flame. It's at moments like that that I'm convinced my guardian angel just stepped away for a quick nap, or to check the sports scores or something. The angel figures "ah, he'll be fine." Then the angel comes back and sees me wrestling with a flaming gas grill and the angel thinks "of all the freakin' people in the world, how did I manage to draw this clown as my protectee?"

Long story short, I managed to put out the fire before the propane tank went supernova.

"Honey, you could have died!" yelled Mel, a hint of admiration mixed with dumbfounded awe at my stupidity in her voice.

"Let's cook fajitas on the stove inside," I suggested as I rolled the grill back into the garage.

Good idea.

Later that night, we managed to track down a secluded spot for an illegal fireworks display. Me, Mel and my friend Marc (today we're learning the letter "M"), armed with enough explosives to subdue a small country, lit up the night sky for over three hours. It was a grand time. Mel likes lighting fireworks, but she doesn't quite grasp the concept of putting the items down on flat ground. I gave her a fairly large item to light and she went skipping down the gravel drive to light it. I thought she may have place it at an unusual angle, but I didn't say anything. She lit it and came skipping back. Behind her, brightly lit balls went flying into the air. And then the brightly lit balls started flying more horizontal because the dang thing had fallen over. Mel dodged to the right as a streaking ball of flame narrowly missed her, another narrowly missed my car, and finally another came at me, skipping over my leg, igniting large patches of leg hair before coming to rest on my thigh.

Every year, without fail, I suffer a fireworks-related burn. This year's installment was rather minor, though the pain was about what I expected. It was a small price to pay for the joy of an unbridled fireworks frenzy. Combined with the burns sustained earlier while battling the grill, my burn tally sat at a respectable three.

The next morning, Mel and I met my friend Troy, his girlfriend Janet, another friend Jim, and his wife Christy. Troy owns a boat, which means I have to like him. We drove to Winona, and we spent the July 4th afternoon entirely on the Mississippi, in one of the most glorious and relaxing holidays I've had since Christmas in Hawaii. We grilled bratwurst during a stop on a sand bar, went swimming, rode an inner tube behind the boat, and just soaked up almost seven hours of sun. Which brings me to burn number four: sunburn. Despite generous slathering of sunscreen, my cranium still endured a slight burn, and it's itchy as hell today, which means a good peeling tonight or tomorrow. It was still an awesome afternoon on the river, and I hope we do it again yet this summer, which, by the way, is now about one third over.

I had to head back to Harmony Friday night at about 9 p.m. so I could make it to my class reunion golf outing the next morning. There is something surreal and magical about driving on a July 4th evening. Traffic is light, and all around I caught glimpses of fireworks going off, both individual shows put on by campers, and distant shows being put on by towns. Everywhere, blossoms of colored flame would emerge and disappear. People celebrating a three day weekend. People celebrating a pleasant evening. People celebrating freedom. People celebrating America.

I'll blog about the reunion later. Or maybe I won't. You'll have to come back to find out.

UPDATE: No, there's nothing here about the reunion. But THIS is the biggest productivity killer of all time.

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

July 03, 2003

Firework Jitters

I bought fireworks last night. And I'm not talking about the namby pamby wimpworks that are legal in Minnesota. Those are mere sparklers, although I've always held a special place in my heart for jumping jacks, particularly the art of throwing them into the air and watching them arc back to earth like angry enflamed fireflies.

But the fireworks I bought last night were of the illegal Wisconsin variety. The big dogs. The real hazards to life and limb. To purchase these gunpowdery goodies, my friend Marc and I made a run for the border to a place called Prescott, Wis. By itself, Prescott is not an interesting town; it's simply a little burb that straddles the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin. But, not even a mile into the Wisconsin side stand two honking big warehouses stacked to the roof with pyrotechnic joy. Both stores were sporting the sign that sends chills down my spine: Buy One, Get One For 99 Cents.

Be still my beating heart.

It's been awhile since I made a Wisconsin run for fireworks. It used to be my college summer ritual. But ever since I joined the work world, I just haven't had either the time or inclination, or the money, to devote to fireworks. That simply had to change. Last night, I only had one certain goal: I was going to buy artillery shells. I needed artillery shells. With artillery shells, you can turn your simple camping trip into a fireworks extravaganza.

Artillery shells have come a long way since I last bought them, oh those many five years ago. They've gone from impressive newcomers to the fireworks world to the de facto standard. I was not prepared for the variety of artillery shells before me. I just stood in front of a bunker of assorted artillery shells, absorbing the all-encompassing odor of dormant gunpowder. And I learned something as I stood there. Not only have artillery shells changed, they've become shit-assed expensive. They're a lot bigger than I remember, that's for sure. And, now they're capable of multiple air bursts that could rival the displays put on by most cities. And they can blow a hole in your wallet so fast you'd think they were your girlfriend.

But, this is the 4th of July, the birthday of our nation, the biggest excuse of the year to blow some shit up. Money is no object. So, I bought some wicked cool artillery shells for $40, and then I got some more for 99 cents, and then I bought a whole bunch of small stuff, like firecrackers and roman candles and a couple sticks of dynamite, because that shit's just fun to play with.

Let the mayhem ensue.

UPDATE: Oh yeah. I almost forgot. Happy 4th Of July everyone!

Posted by Ryan at 10:47 AM | Comments (0)

July 02, 2003

If A Tree Falls In The Forest, And No One Was Around. . .

IBM routinely makes a head scratcher of an announcement, and it goes something like this:

May I have your attention please. May I have your attention please. This is a test of the site-wide public address system. If you are in an area where you cannot clearly hear this announcement, please call ***-****.

Excuse me, but if you can't hear the damn announcement, how the hell do you know that you're supposed to call to fix the problem? Is this an attempt by Big Blue to encourage employees to get in touch with the zen side of their personalities? Next thing you know, they'll be asking for the sound of one hand clapping.

I can just imagine there's some lucky soul who has been working here for 20 years, in an office where they never, not once, heard a public address announcement. He or she blithely sat through tornado drills, fire drills, Chinese fire drills, 3/4 inch bit drills. I want to be that person. I want to be free of the omnipresent voice of the public address system.

Not that it would make much difference. IBM employees have a strange sixth sense when it comes to knowing when a fire or tornado drill is looming. I've known of every impending drill hours, and sometimes days, ahead of schedule. So, those of us who know the exact day and time a drill is scheduled simply exit the building and go for a nice stroll a few minutes prior to the drill. That way, we opt out of the ridiculous group huddling down on the lower floors or congregating outside. Of course, should an actual fire or tornado hit, I'm pretty much screwed, but whatever.

So, it turns out Kraft is going to try to make its products less heavy on the calories and fat and cholesterol. How do they plan to do this? By making smaller portions, of course. Anyone want to bet the prices will probably remain the same? Anyone?

Here's the deal, people. I eat whatever I want, pretty much whenever I want. Just last night, I ate at Famous Dave's, where I gorged on ribs and fries and beans and corn. And I'm thin as a twig. 6'1" and 165 lbs. My secret? It's not a fucking secret. I exercise. I run. I do hapkido. I walk to places instead of hopping in my car every time I need to go less than five blocks away.

I don't have time for people who make excuses for their sedentary lifestyles. If you choose to lay around watching television or playing computer games all day, fine. Just don't sit there and complain to me that you think you're getting overweight, or you feel sluggish, or your heart stopped. And, most of all, don't blame Kraft for the fact that you can't make it from the kitchen to the living room without breathing hard and taking a break. It's not rocket science. If you eat shit and don't do shit, you're going to feel and look like shit.

It amuses me when I tell my friends I'm going for a run and they look at me like I'm a nutball or something, but then they turn around and wonder why I can scarf down a taco pizza and not gain an ounce. I'm not bragging here. I'm simply pointing out that our culture keeps sending out mixed signals. On the one hand, you're supposed to look like a Greek god or goddess, but if you happen to live an active lifestyle, you're considered a health nut or obsessed with your looks. No, I'm not. I'm obsessed with living a long healthy life, and I'll continue to exercise for as long as my body will allow it. It really isn't that hard to get off your ass. The human body is designed for motion and work, and it's the only one you get, so fucking take care of it.

There, that's my rant.

Posted by Ryan at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)

July 01, 2003

I Wish I Had A Tri-Corder

Last night, I happened to catch the last 10 minutes or so of a Star Trek: The Next Generation rerun. Hey, I'll admit it, I'm a huge fan of TNG. I honestly think I've seen every episode two or more times each. I didn't think much of the first couple of years. I mean, TNG really didn't hit its creative and imaginative stride until year four or so.

If it weren't for Patrick Stewart and his cool portrayel of Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, I think the series would have died on the vine early on. He held things together and managed to string together serious acting performances even during episodes that must have seemed, to him, as if they were scrawled together at the last second by a classroom full of six-year olds.

STEWART: Well, sure, the premise of this episode is that there's a planet out there with a legal system that executes everyone for breaking any rule, from murder to trampling on flowers, and the inhabitants of this planet happen to dress like they're on their way to a Roman orgy, but I'm going to give it my acting all, because I'm a master thespian.

You especially have to hand it to Stewart for not breaking out laughing any time he realized that, in Gene Roddenberry's future, the flagship of the United Federation of Planets would have a FRENCH captain. I mean, come ON! If that were really the case, the Enterprise would have a super-secret "surrender" button that would unfurl a huge white flag from the saucer section. But, that's neither here nor there.

What I really want to know is: what the heck is a tri-corder really? I mean, it's like the Swiss Army knife of technology gadgets. Any time an away team senses danger, it's the tri-corder that sounds the alarm. Need to stabilize the vital signs of a wounded crew member? Well, call in the tri-corder. What's that? You need to reconstitute the DNA fragments of several species to discover a hidden message left by a bygone civilization? You're in luck, because we have a tri-corder for just such a purpose.

In last night's episode, Wesley Crusher used one of the damned things to outwit a sentry that was protecting a water supply. These things can do ANYTHING. And, the thing is, it's not a very big device, and it doesn't have very many buttons. But, in practically every episode, a tri-corder will be called in to solve some sort of problem. In actuality, I think the tri-corder may be the 43rd edition to the Sony Playstation and the Enterprise Crew members are playing super-future versions of Donkey Kong or Q-Bert, hence the intent look of concentration on their faces while working the little machines.

And that's another thing: where the heck are the video games in Star Trek? Here they have the most technologically advanced ship known to man, and the game of choice is: chess. Chess! Okay, so it's a multi-tiered chess game, but it's still chess. Then again, I suppose they have the Holodeck for all their gaming needs, and I have to admit that the holodeck is totally cool. What's amazing about the holodeck, in my opinion, is that it's not in use ALL THE DAMN TIME.

Think about it. . . they have, at their disposal, the ultimate device for living out their fantasies, but they rarely take advantage of it for their own enjoyment. If it were me, I'd have the onboard computer memory chock full of sexual programs involving me, Dr. Crusher, Deanna Troi, Tasha Yar and a few Klingon females thrown into the mix for good measure.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the geekiest post I think I've ever written for this blog.

Posted by Ryan at 11:07 AM | Comments (0)
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