December 24, 2003

Merry Christmas, And A Happy Orange Alert New Years

This will be my last post until. . . well. . . until I can track down an Internet Cafe in Kona, Hawaii and access Blogger, I guess. Look for me, maybe, on the day after Christmas or so. Who knows? Vacation, you know.

So, yeah, orange alert, with particular scrutiny on the airlines. And I'm willingly going to plop my tush on an airplane seat during this heightened alert? On Christmas Day, no less? Absolutely. Is it a little disconcerting? Maybe a little, but I look at it this way: what better time to fly then when the entire airline industry is on eggshell alert?

Hell, I'd be more scared if we were on green alert, with Osama bin Laden's head stuck on a pike on the White House lawn. THAT'S when terrorists would be more apt to strike: when we're complacent and drunk on victory. As it is, I'll probably be patted down with extra exploratory hands, and my fingernails will be filed down so they're no longer lethal, and then I'll board a plane that is full of passengers who have generally been given the same treatment. Everyone would be appropriately de-fanged and de-clawed, except for that one unknown air marshall packing a Desert Eagle and a steely-eyed gaze.

They may not be the friendly skies they once were, but they're probably pretty safe.

Oh, and if a terrorist does happen to sneak on board with a fingernail clippers intent on hijacking my plane, he should know that a shaved-headed young man with a black belt will be leading the charge to subdue him, and that I like to kick at the nuts. He's been so warned.

Melissa, of course, is giddy with anticipation. You know that, when a woman gets a Brazillian wax to prepare for something, she's probably giddy with anticipation. This all-expense-paid trip to Hawaii is pretty much the biggest thing to happen to her since, well, her Brazillian wax, I guess.

So, yeah, Merry Christmas to all you readers out there, and for you Google searchers who keep coming here looking for "exposed+thongs" "whale+sperm+gallons" and "Britney+Spears+butt+sex." If I fly over your state, I'll be sure to flush the toilet a couple of times.

Oh, and if you could, pause for a moment and reflect on this.

Posted by Ryan at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2003

Howard Dean Kicks Off 'X-Files' Campaign

'I Want To Believe,' Says Presidential Hopeful

BURLINGTON, VT (Rhodes Media Services) -- Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean, speaking from his campaign headquarters in Burlington, today announced that he would be running an unprecedented "X-Files" campaign based on the popular Fox drama.

Dean said his new campaign will eagerly embrace all manner of conspiracy theories regarding the Bush administration and he will devote long hours and money to holding up unsubstantiated claims as established fact. Dean floated a trial balloon for the new campaign direction earlier in the month in an interview with Diane Rehm by suggesting the Bush administration knew well ahead of time about the impending 9/11 attacks, but did nothing to stop them. Campaign advisers said they liked the response.

Dean, who now openly refers to himself as "Spooky" Dean, said that he "wants to believe" that everything the Bush team does is a conspiracy but, lacking any real proof, he's fine with just making grandiose claims to assuage his adoring fans who also really wish Mulder and Scully would have romantically gotten together way earlier in the television series.

"You know," said Dean while chumming it up with reporters. "There's an interesting theory out there that suggests President Bush maintains a ranch on Mars and that he visits it on a monthly basis. Well, nobody's seen the ranch, so how can we be sure it does or does not exist? Until I see evidence that it's not on the Martian surface, I want to know why Bush is spending so much money on maintaining it and keeping such technological space travel and colonization innovations from the American public."

Among those to endorse the new "X-Files" direction were Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash) who said the capture of Saddam Hussein was staged for political gain, and former Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, who "wondered aloud" whether the Bush administration is actually currently holding Usama bin Laden and plans to unveil him closer to the 2004 election.

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

December 22, 2003

A Real Shitty Weekend

(Warning: toilet Talk Ahead. You've Been Warned)

As far as I know, there are two common reactions to food poisoning.

On the one hand, there's the stomach-clenching, fever inducing cavalcade of vomit and dementia common to, say, uncooked chicken that has sat on the counter for three hours.

On the other hand, there's the food poisoning that leaves your mental capacity in perfect functioning order, and doesn't require puking, but manifests itself in a stream of diarrhea so urgent and unrelenting, you wonder if you're going to shrivel up into a dehydrated raisin while still crapping and crapping and crapping.

This weekend involved food poisoning of the latter persuasion.

Friday night, Melissa and I ate at a local Mexican restaurant, where I satiated my desire for seafood by ordering a crab and shrimp chimichanga. It wasn't the greatest culinary masterpiece ever created, but it filled the hunger hole. We hurriedly ate, and then dashed off to watch the interminable cinematic chunder-fest known as "Mona Lisa Smile."

QUICK MOVIE REVIEW ASIDE: If you want a formulaic splash of saliva thrown in your face, complete with stereotypical characters practically drawn from a book entitled "Make Your Own Predicable Movie Characters In One Easy Step," this is the movie for you. The flick had a string of great actors called upon to play roles that could be realistically portrayed by pretty much anyone.

Although the movie was definitely excrement-worthy, I'm fairly certain it was the Mexican meal ingested previously that led to the defecatory nightmare I endured the following day.

Melissa had her family Christmas on Saturday, an event that started with Christmas dinner at Applebees (weird, I know, but you have to know her family to fully understand). I regarded the meal in front of me with growing revulsion, and I had no idea why. Something inside me was saying, "wait, man, don't put anything else down here. We're still working on something from last night." I picked half-heartedly at the riblets in front of me, and asked for a doggie bag.

>From Applebees, we journeyed to Melissa's mom's house for a gift exchange. By that time, I was feeling particularly crummy. I tried laying on the floor in the hopes of settling my roiling stomach that sounded more and more like a busy steel mill with each passing minute.

The exact time of the first anal delivery was 4:38 p.m. I know this because I was staring at my watch when it arrived. I knew, with absolutely no doubt in my mind, that I wanted to be in the safety of my own place to deposit that which had deposited in my colon. It's just one of those things you intuitively understand. So, with some hurried pressure on Melissa to leave, we hightailed it home, where I ran to the bathroom and let loose with an deluge not seen since Noah sailed his Ark.

What transpired after that was an evening of diarrhetic torture. Every five to ten minutes, I had to shuffle to the bathroom to spritz out a couple cups or so of butt liquid at a time. I was running a slight fever, too, and I found it almost impossible to stay warm. But, it was the constant crapping that was, by far, the worst. Sometimes, I would think I was all done for that round, and I would stand up and start to leave the bathroom, only to do an about-face and scamper to the bowl yet again.

Seriously, I would rather have been doing the vomit thing. At least with vomiting, there's a feeling of accomplishment afterward. With vomiting, you can kind of gauge when the next bout will hit. You usually have a half-hour or so in which to nap and recover between hurls.

Not so with explosive diarrhea. There's no schedule to unrestrained trots. It sets its own schedule, and the time between poops is usually "NOW! RIGHT NOW! OH, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT'S PURE AND HOLY, RIGHT NOW, NOW, NOW!"

I dared not sleep until I was reasonably certain the craps had left me behind, and it wasn't until 2:30 a.m. that I finally felt confident enough to risk sleep and possible bowel relaxation. In my feverish slumber, however, even then I dreamt I was sitting on the can.

By 10 a.m., the ordeal was finally over, and I slept luxuriously until 12:30 p.m. confident that I would not, in fact, shit in my bed.

And I was more thirsty than at any time in my existence. I'm swearing off Mexican seafood dishes for life. What a shitty experience.

Posted by Ryan at 10:49 AM | Comments (0)

December 19, 2003

Waxing And Waning

Caroline says: C'mon, be HAPPY.

Ryan says: I'll be happy if a Brazillian wax awaits me this evening.

Caroline says: um, ok.

Caroline says: but you said you're not sure why she's doing it, so you'd be happy she's there with or without the wax.

Ryan says: Well, not the wax so much as the result of the wax.

Caroline says: right, like I said.

Ryan says: She's wavering pretty bad. I don't think she'll go through with it.

Caroline says: Shasta said it reeaaaaaaaaaaalllly hurts

Caroline says: but that it might get less painful the more you do it. But why the hell would you do it again if it hurt so bad the first time?

Ryan says: Because the American mass media has delivered an unattainable ideal of what a woman should look like, and women will strive to achieve that ideal no matter the pain or mental trauma involved.

Caroline says: well, yeah.

Ryan says: You asked.

Ryan says: And, because of that, mental midgets like Jessica Simpson and Paris Hilton will continue to be hoisted up as ideal mates despite their absolute inability to think a coherent or meaningful thought about anything except themselves.

Caroline says: awesome

Ryan says: But I'd still like to see Mel with a smooth beav. That would be sweet!

Caroline says: sigh

Posted by Ryan at 04:07 PM | Comments (0)

Dinner And A Body

I only spent just over a week in China, and that was ten years ago, when I was 18. But, because our class instructer, Mr. Stern, kind of was a Marxist, and he knew China better than I know Minnesota, the week consisted of a lot more than just the typical tourist stuff most people visit in China.

For example, because Mr. Stern knew an old flame who was a teacher in China, we visited a Chinese elementary school, and due to other close contacts, we visited the home of a retired professor, who maintained an extensive collection of American VCR movies and was particularly fond of Bruce Willis in Die Hard.

All in all, my trip to China included many entertaining stories, including the one I'm about to relate here.

Mr. Stern pretty much allowed us to do our own thing come the evenings, which meant our group of five students basically went out to find a place to eat and buy the cheapest and most circumspect alcohol we could find. Seriously, one night, they showed up at the hotel toting a four foot tall bottle of champagne that they bought from some street vendor.

Well, one night early in the week, in Beijing, we just picked this place to eat that looked like it might be good. We decided it might be good because the big filthy aquarium out on the sidewalk sported healthier looking fish than the place two restaurants down.

There was no indoor seating, only a few plastic chairs and tables set up outside. It would have been pleasant enough, I suppose, if it hadn't been for the huge trash heap around the corner that featured more wild dogs battling for scraps and more rats poking in and out than is probably even remotely healthy.

Despite the less than stellar ambiance, the food was really quite good, and there was a LOT of it for very little money. We tried to ignore the fact that a few stores down the street, a butcher was basically carving up half a pig on a barrel that looked like it harbored more E coli than an elephant turd. There wasn't much in the way of food regulation in China, is what I'm saying.

Rather than focus on the disturbing storefronts and their activities, we watched the traffic go by. Chinese traffic is a cacaphony of tooting horns and bicycle bells. Although cars are certainly a big part of the traffic, bicycles easily outnumber them. And I'm not talking about your basic two-wheeled bikes either. Every manner of bike can be seen on Chinese streets at any given time, particulary the three-wheeled versions that have a long wooden plank jutting out the back like some sort of pick-up truck.

The three-wheeled bikes were used to haul all manner of cargo, and it was amazing to see old, old, OLD men laboriously pumping their legs to keep their bikes going uphill despite a load of pottery, or carpet, or whatever that would break the back of even the most sturdy workhorse.

As we dined and watched Chinese life go by, one three-wheeled bike accidently bumped into the back of another three-wheeled bike. This collision occured right in front of us, not ever five feet away. Both bicyclists hopped off their bikes and started a fairly heated argument right there in the street. It could have been considered a type of dinner entertainment, except for one minor detail.

Right there, in front of our astonished eyes, we noticed the "cargo" of the bike that did the rear-ending of the other bike. There was a filthy previously white sheet kinda, sorta, covering the body of a very dead man, and his uncovered feet pointed skyward. We couldn't see the face or the body, but those pale dead feet were so obviously RIGHT THERE. There we were, having dinner, with a dead man just a few feet away. This was getting uncomfortable.

Finally, after about a six minute argument, the men got back on their bikes and started pedalling away. However, for the briefest of seconds, it looked as though our body-transporting friend was about to capsize. That was exactly what we didn't want to see. We did not want to see that body topple off the back of that bike. We did not want to see that sheet fall off to reveal a naked dead man. And, most of all, we did not want to have to help to get that body back on that cart, no way, no how.

Thankfully, the bicyclist was able to hop off and save the situation. He quick adjusted the body so the weight was more evenly distributed, and then he hopped back on his bike and pedalled away. It was probably the most surreal dinner I've ever eaten in my life.

That night, my hotel roommate, Tyler, threw up copious amounts of vomit all over the bathroom floor, and I accidently walked through it and had to wash my feet off in the sink.

And the moral of the story is: watch where you eat in China.

Posted by Ryan at 03:08 PM | Comments (0)

I'm So Pissy Today

Have you ever woken up just mad at everything and nothing? Have you ever wanted to take whatever it is your officemate is eating and find some way to crush whatever it is she's eating into a fine pulp and cover her face with it and then just sit there an laugh at her until your anger subsides to somewhere below critical? Have you ever viewed your existence as an interminable irritation, despite having it all so awesome the kings of the world would envy you?

That's where I'm at today. For no reason. I don't understand it. Maybe I had a bad dream or something that I don't remember.

UPDATE: Thankfully, a little common sense always makes me feel less pissy.

Posted by Ryan at 10:19 AM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2003

A Hallmark Moment

Caroline says: so, now that I think about it, Mel must like me if I am the same as you. I mean, she likes you and all.

Ryan says: Yeah, I think she likes me.

Ryan says: She lets me put my penis in her, so there's that.

Caroline says: that's nice. Hallmark card worthy.

Ryan says: "To my most cherished girlfriend."

Ryan says: "you're with me when I most need a friend, and you're my lover too."

Ryan says: "When I'm with you everything seems fresh, and everything seems new."

Ryan says: "You make me feel as if I'm the most special guy you've met."

Ryan says: "And you let me put my penis in you, so there's that."

Caroline says: I'm getting all choked up (no penis pun intended)

Ryan says: I missed my calling. I was sooo meant to be a poet.

Posted by Ryan at 10:55 AM | Comments (0)

Why Have You Come Here? Why?!

My parents fly in from Tokyo today. And boy will their arms be tired! *rim shot*

Seriously, why in the hell are they coming to Minnesota for one lousy week? Why don't they just go straight to Hawaii? You know, where it's WARM and there's NO SNOW!

No, they want to come to Minnesota, for one week, endure four days of insane jet lag, and THEN go to Hawaii. My parents make no sense to me sometimes.

But, on a positive note, I get to leave work early to meet them, and they buy me dinner. So I can't bitch too much.

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

December 17, 2003

Emerging From The Trench To Toss A Grenade

In response to this:

Killing. The death penalty. War. How do I justify the killing of another person? Well, there are no absolutes, but this is where I'm at. . .

You see, you can argue about evolution versus creationism and all that, but I think the brunt of evidence pretty much supports the assertion that, at some prior point in our development, human beings were basically animals. From here, you have to assume divine intervention, a genetic mutation or alien experimentation led to our grotesquely huge brains.

The point is, despite our humanity, we have strong animal instincts bubbling beneath the surface, and those instincts, I think, lead some of us down some pretty sick paths. And, until another divine intervention, genetic mutation, alien experimentation, or scientific breakthrough that discovers how to deactivate the "evil" gene, we're pretty much stuck with those instincts.

So, we're going to have murderers. We're going to have rapists. We're going to have serial rapist/murderers. We're going to have sick fuck pedophiles. We're going to have meglomaniacal dictators who rule countries through the stacking up of bones of the citizens they lord over. In short, we're going to have people who, despite their brains, are basically still animals, or at least they let themselves be animals, if only for a short while.

They should be punished.

But, you know what? There are people out in the world who believe that people who take another life, or who rape a child, or who kill hundreds of thousands, should be extended certain niceties. Locking them up is WRONG. Killing them is WRONG. Showing pictures of them with long ragged beards being given a physical is WRONG. Denying them the dignity they denied other is just plain WRONG.

fuck that.

I dabble in the writings of pacifists and those who denounce capital punishment and who believe everyone can be saved if we just show compassion and turn the other cheek. Trust me, it's hysterical reading. There are those who believe every injustice in the world can be confronted and defeated through a little non-violent opposition. Apparently, if the likes of Stalin, or Hitler or Saddam ever managed to wrest control of the United States and activate their regimes of terror and oppression, they'd quake in their boots when a crowd of one million decended in peaceful protest on Washington D.C.

Puh-lease. They'd be gassed and disposed of before they could chant "Hell no, we won't go." And they'd be warming up the guns for the next wave of protesters.

Does it dehumanize us to kill those who kill? I have a hard time seeing that. If someone locks a person up and tortures them and rapes them and slowly kills them, you'd have a hard time convincing me that that person shouldn't actually endure the same treatment as punishment. Of course, most people, thankfully, don't have the stomach for such cruelty, so what are we left with? A switch. An injection chamber. A noose. It just seems ludicrous to me that someone who murders someone else should be rewarded with life.

And don't even start to tell me that they somehow deserve DIGNITY. To me, dignity is something you earn the right to have, it's not something you automatically have a right to no matter the despicable nature of your crimes.

Sometimes, I think, an animal deserves to be treated as such, no matter what kind of human skin they may be wearing.

A LATE UPDATE THAT PROBABLY WON'T BE READ: If you're still following this post and comment thread, I suggest you go here.

Posted by Ryan at 11:57 AM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2003

Vatican Debates Sainthood For Hussein

Top Official Is Confident Dictator Was 'Not All That Bad'

VATICAN CITY (Rhodes Media Services) -- Upon seeing the footage of Saddam Hussein being examined by U.S. servicemen,">a top Vatican official said that, in light of all the apparent suffering endured by the former Iraqi dictator, he's nominating the "Butcher of Baghdad" for sainthood status pre-emptively before his death even occurs.

"I felt pity to see this man destroyed, (the military) looking at his teeth as if he were a cow. They could have spared us these pictures," said Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Vatican's Justice and Peace department and a former papal envoy to the United Nations. "Surely, suffering like this is akin to anything Christ himself endured. As such, I feel there is no alternative but to canonize him immediately."

The move came as a shock to many worldwide, who universally recognize Hussein as a murderer of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, Iranians, Kuwaitis and others. Still, Cardinal Martino pressed his case, saying that the death of millions can not be compared to the dignity of a single man, especially considering how long Hussein's beard was upon his capture.

"Yes, yes, I'm aware that the man oversaw the killing of countless people, blah, blah, blah," said Martino. "The point is, he was being treated like a cow. You know. . . a cow? Mooooooo! Surely you can see the horrific embarrassment inherent in being treated like a moo cow. That's easily worth sainthood. Poor guy."

Posted by Ryan at 12:45 PM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2003

A Peek Into My Week'En. . . Or Something Like That

Okay, I'm not sure why or how it started, but at some point in the evolution of the Christmas season, The Wizard of Oz was introduced as an important part of the Holiday Spirit. Now, being that I'm lazy, I'm not going to do any research into this odd phenomenon, but I think my own conjecture can piece together a pretty convincing explanation as to why The Wizard of Oz is set to usurp Frosty in the pantheon of Christmas idols.

It started, I believe, in 1983, with the release of the immediate Holiday classic, A Christmas Story. For those of you not famliar with this movie, not to worry, if you tune into TNN or TNT or some other fringe cable channel come Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, chances are good that they'll be conducting a 24 hour A Christmas Story marathon. This is not a complaint, because I love the movie. FYI, the kid who sticks his tongue on a frosty pole and gets stuck, Flick, is now a porn star (thanks Michele).

Anyway, The Wizard of Oz played prominently in A Christmas Story because, I guess, Oz was released along the same time as the story line. Therefore, seeing as how A Christmas Story has become part of the Christmas tradition for many people, the Wizard of Oz just came along for the ride.

So, the girlfriend and I went to the Minneapolis Children's Theater showing of The Wizard of Oz on Friday night. It seemed like a very Christmassy thing to do. Last year, we went to see Once Upon a Forest and that was a great experience, so my expectations were high. And, boy, my expectations were met and exceeded. I don't care that they cater to stories more geared to younger audiences, the Children's Theater does an awesome, AWESOME, job of putting together a program. Sets, awesome. Costumes, awesome. Actors, awesome.

Toto, just TOTOlly awesome.

I didn't expect them to use a real dog. I kind of was envisioning an awkward attempt to give the appearance of a dog without really having a dog. I guess I didn't think it was possible to keep a dog from getting excited with a troupe of dancers and munchkins and witches and smog.

And, yet, there was a REAL DOG. A real, totally awesome trained dog. The drawback to having a real dog, I discovered, was that I kept trying to keep tabs on Toto to see if he was being obedient or if they non-stop action finally sent him into yips and circles. But, it never did. He was the perfect dog. All hail Toto! Of course, the dog's real name wasn't Toto, it was Snickers, and so now when I finally get a dog, I think I'm going to call him Snickers. That will only happen, of course, if my plans to acquire a dingo and name him Bingo ultimately fail.

I think I had the best line of the play, if I do say so myself. During the great witch-melting scene, they obscured her descent under the stage with staggering amounts of dry-ice smog, which wafted its way into the crowd. Mel and I were pretty close to the stage, so we got hit with a blurring wave of smog, and everyone started waving their playbills in from of them to disperse the cloud. It was at that point that I said, at probably an inappropriate volume, "Man, I hate breathing in second-hand witch!" The folks seated around me we very much amused by that. I wanted to take a bow.

Granted, Mel and I had stellar seats, basically four rows back, in the direct center of the stage, close enough to smell Dorothy's armpits, so the experience was made all the better through the proximity. But, wow, what a production. And Snickers was the best.

Mel and I briefly flirted with the idea of heading out shopping Saturday afternoon, but after 10 minutes of exploring the traffic, we gave up on that idea right away. Instead, we opted to whip up another batch of Japanese curry, but this time our goal was to find the BIGGEST bell of garlic we could find and use half of it in our cooking. The end result was a curry that tasted heavenly but which turned us into a couple of the stinkiest garlic stacks in the history of mankind. It was great fun laughing about how bad we both smelled. We're kind of sick that way.

Sunday, after driving back to Rochester, I finally garnered enough ambition to go for a five mile run. It was a slippery exercise, owing to an inch of snow and ice that had yet to be attended to. I'm thinking this winter may finally be the one in which I buy a health club membership to head off the possibility of a severe ankle sprain.

A realization set upon me as I ran around the local Silver Lake: I've hit a time in my life where I'm immensely happy and content, but I'm feeling the urge to explore a next step. I don't know what that step is. A house? A new job? I don't know. But something inside is pushing me to find out what's next. It was a strangely exhausting realization, which was probably partly due to the fact I was running. But, beyond that, I think I felt immediately exhausted because the thought of breaking from routine and extending exploratory life tendrils into other unknowns is just daunting and tiring by nature. Exciting, sure, but tiring.

And now it's Monday, and I wish I had a dog named Snickers.

UPDATE: Oh yeah, I almost forgot, some guy named Saddam Hussein was captured or something in Iraq. Apparently, he was some sort of big name there, in that country. It was funny, though. I was without Internet access all weekend, and then I got home at about 2:30 p.m., pulled up a Web browser that has as the home page, and I wondered "why the hell is Charles Manson in the news?" The I read the name Saddam Hussein, and my jaw dropped. No. fucking. Way. I'll save the commentary for those on the deeper right and left, for they both seem to be covering it just fine. I'll just quick quote Jon Stewart who, on his Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the day Saddam's statue fell, which I think still applies: If you are unable to feel joy at the sight of Iraqis rejoicing at the fall of Saddam, then you are lost to the idealogical left. If you are incapable of feeling sorrow that we had to resort to violence to accomplish this objective, then you are lost to the idealogical right. Either way, turn off the television, you won't like this program.

Then again, for some Iraqis, it's not about rejoicing, it's about something unexplainable.

Posted by Ryan at 11:45 AM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2003

I'm Off For the Weekend, But Before I Go. . .

Well, I'm off, once again, to the Cities this morning, this time for a team building bowling experiment, which I expect to enjoy only slightly and despise quite mightily. Nothing like bowling with people you don't know and don't really care to know. Oh, what I do in pursuit of a paycheck. Still, bowling is fun.

Also tonight, the girlfriend and I are going to the Children's Theater presentation of "The Wizard of Oz." And, since it's a children's theater, I'm fairly certain Oz has nothing to do the HBO prison drama, but it would open some innocent eyes if it DID. Other plans for the weekend? Not sure. Thai food for sure. Possibly a run or two around Como Lake. Who cares? The weekend has arrived! I'm outta here.

Oh, and by the way, it's really fucking cold outside.

Posted by Ryan at 09:33 AM | Comments (0)

December 11, 2003

Incredibly, pathetically Biased Media?

Hey, did you know that, yesterday, in Baghdad, thousands of Iraqis marched in protest against terrorism? Seriously, thousands marched. In Baghdad. Against TERRORISM.

Call me crazy. Hell, call me nuts. But, you know, as a journalist, I kinda, sorta, maybe think that such an astounding event--people organizing and marching AGAINST TERRORISM--should, I don't know, constitute some kind of news.

Let's say, just for the sake of argument, that a group of about 1,200 people gathered and marched on Washington to demand legal rights for those detained at Guantanamo Bay. Would that make the news? Count on it. We're talking possibly front page type stuff there. And yet, when thousands of Iraqis get together, in an act that would very likely have gotten them thrown into prison or their tongues lopped off under Saddam's Ba'ath regime, you hear nary a word in the Western media.

Oh, wait, I guess, as Glenn Reynolds points out, the New York Times gave the march a passing nod:

In contrast, a heavily policed march in central Baghdad on Wednesday, organized peacefully by the country's major political parties, drew thousands of Iraqis to protest attacks by guerrilla fighters, which have injured and killed Iraqi civilians as well as occupiers.

Ah, but what's the news here? A heavily policed march, as if a large conglomeration of Iraqis should not warrant a little extra attention in a country where suspicion reigns supreme, even amongst themselves.

Am I whining? Sure, a bit. But, you know what? Even if you didn't support this war, even if you are hung up on the lack of weapons of mass destruction, you have to admit that such a gathering, in a country where such gatherings were only previously organized by Ba'athists to tout Saddam's 100 percent re-election, is really kind of remarkable.

Even more remarkable still, is that the news media powers that be have decided that it's a non-story. Not even worth a page 8E article, apparently.

But, hey, at least Beyonce won four billboard awards.

Posted by Ryan at 08:53 AM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2003

Tis The Season To Give. . . The Finger

It was snowing quite heavily this morning and, being that it was the first really substantial snowfall of the season, that logically meant that everybody forgot how to drive.

It happens every year: snow accumulates on the ground, slippery-fying all surfaces, and every motorist, no matter their skill level--from learner's permit to Rusty Wallace--are reduced in drivig ability to something akin to drooling infants.

Well, not me, of course. I'm awesome at all things at all times, because, as stated quite frequently, I'm a smoking hot specimen of male hunkiness. Except for math. I stink at math, which is why I'm a journalist.

Anyway, as much as I do so love to talk about myself, I was originally talking about bad weather leading to bad drivers. And today, my friends, the bad drivers were out in astounding force. Every vehicle I encountered was either in the process of skidding out of control or doing everything in their ability to get to that point.

For my part, I prepared for winter's inevitable arrival by buying new tires, so I am hereby absolved of all guilt when it comes to bad driving, and I don't care what that one lady says about me running a red light last month. She didn't see nothin'! You got me? Nothin'!

Well, anyway, as I made my way to work this morning, I was on heightened alert because overnight everyone, as stated, had forgotten how to drive. People were sliding, and spinning and bumping into things. It was kind of like a dance contest for people in cars.

The thing is, though, that most people refuse to admit when their driving stinks. They could wrap their car around a telephone pole and steadfastly maintain that the pole shouldn't have been there in the first place, or that telephone poles are outdated and should have long ago been replaced by cell phone towers and therefore all telephone poles around the world should no longer be standing and threatening motorists. Of course, then they'd just smash into a cell phone tower while talking on a cell phone, but I wouldn't dare point that out.

So, today, there I was, surrounded by bad drivers who refused to admit they're bad drivers. Of course, subconsciously at least, the motorists do realize they're bad drivers, and by the time that realization makes its way to the conscious mind, it manifests itself in one common gesture. Namely, they give the finger.

This morning, I recieved the finger no less than three times from motorists whom I had the audacity to tootle with my horn. It wasn't as if I was being impatient or anything, either. In all three cases, the motorists were coming at me, with half their vehicle in my lane of traffic. So, understandably, I wanted them to know that, if they didn't correct the situation, a collision was imminent. Strangely, each motorist corrected the dire situation before taking the time to give me the finger.

I'm not particularly offended by the finger. I think it's because giving the finger simply doesn't require enough effort. Now, if giving the finger somehow involved an elaborate hand ritual that took a few seconds to develop, then I'd start to feel offended, because then the finger giver would have gone through some real effort to show their disgust with me. As it is, the finger is just too much like a quick angry wave, so I typically pay it no mind.

Unless I get three fingers from three different people in rather quick succession. Then I start to wonder if maybe I'm somehow overly finger worthy. I start questioning whether I'm as right and correct as I usually think I am. And, worst of all, I wonder if maybe I've lost some of my stature as a smoking hot specimen of male hunkiness.

After some reflection, however, I came to the inescapable conclusion that I was, despite a flurry of fingers, in the right when it came to my nervous horn tootling.

Lousy bad winter drivers. *giving the finger*

Posted by Ryan at 02:13 PM | Comments (0)

Ding, Fries Are Done!

Yeah, I'm soooo going to heck for linking to this. But, I laughed at it last year and, damn it, I laughed again this year. So enjoy.

Posted by Ryan at 11:34 AM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2003

Flatulent Poetry

Last night, a couple friends and I dropped by a bar and grill
Where I wolfed down several blazin' wings until I felt quite ill.

To put out the fire cooking in my gut, I guzzled down some beer.
I felt better almost immediately, despite heat-related tears.

As the night wore on, my stomach growled and murmured discontent
And although I didn't quite have to shit, I knew exactly what it meant.

Today at work, I squirmed and squirmed, and shifted in my seat.
The food from last night had journeyed down, and I could clearly feel the heat.

Finally, the inevitable arrived; my butt cheeks released some air.
I alone had to endure the stench, which really wasn't fair.

To say that my farts kind of smelled wouldn't do justice to the funk.
Rather, it's more direct to say that they really fucking stunk.

I sat there just all by myself, enshrouded in my gas.
It's astounding that something so truly vile could have ventured from my ass.

I've farted before, many times in fact, but today's were particularly sour
It's amazing to think that the powers that be could trust me to wield such a power.

Thankfully the food moved on and collected in my colon
And I put an end to the rancid farts by doing some toilet bowling.

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

The Dark Side Of Generosity

In an unexpected act of generosity by my parents, they offered awhile back to pay for my girlfriend's plane ticket to Hawaii so my mother, father, girlfriend and myself can enjoy the Holiday season in paradise.

On the surface, such an act of generosity seems wonderful but, if you dig a little deeper, you'll see that my parents are actually punishing me for some sort of past transgression. I say this because my girlfriend is now driving me crazy with her attempts at showing my parents her gratitude.

Melissa is not used to parental generosity. While she pinches every penny to pay her way through school, her father pinches every penny so he can adorn himself with over $6,000 worth of jewelry over the Christmas season, rather than, you know, helping his daughters out with anything. So, I guess it's understandable that Melissa is a little nonplussed that a couple of strangers would pony up the dough to send her to Hawaii.

But, I think she's overreacting here. Because she lacks the financial means to show gratitude, she's instead relying on gestures, which is fine, I guess, but it's still driving me crazy.

Her latest gesture was to travel with me to my hometown a couple of weekends ago to decorate my parents' home for Christmas so they'll have a nice Christmassy house when they come home from Tokyo for the Holiday break in a couple of
weeks. It was a nice gesture, but she went about the task like a low-ranking Nazi party member preparing for a visit by der Fuhrer.

She ordered me around like I was some sort of work horse. I dug out the plastic tree and decorations and carried them downstairs to the awaiting girlfriend menace. I was tasked with putting up the tree lights and, when I was done, Melissa said, seriously, that I had put the lights up all wrong. Excuse me?! How the hell do you put lights up wrong? They're on the tree, aren't they? They're lit up, aren't they?

"Just shut up and put on the garland!"

It was perhaps the most tense tree decorating I've ever endured. Far from the carefree days of my youth when I'd put decorations on wherever, that day my decoration placements were under the brutal scrutiny of the Christmas crank.

I made a secret vow that, if my parents ever offer to pay Melissa's way to anywhere else, I'd kindly suggest they retract the offer.

Posted by Ryan at 01:07 PM | Comments (0)

Help A Brother Out On A Monday

So, like, if anyone out there knows of any really cool breaking news in the technology realm that I can pitch to my editors this week, I'd really appreciate it.

Posted by Ryan at 09:46 AM | Comments (0)

December 05, 2003

I'm Lazy And Suffering Writer's Block, So Here's Some Cheddar X

This week is a twisted sort of Cheddar X. Its a concept borrowed from Intellectual Properties who borrowed it from Indie.Rock.Librarian who likely borrowed it from somewhere else but that's as far as I'm tracing it.

And here we go!

Choose one of your favorite bands and answer the questions using song titles by that band. I think it would add some fun to not name the band and see how hard it is for people to guess (guessing, by the way, does not include using Google so no cheating!). But do it either way you want to.

Are you male or female?

Nice Guys Finish Last.

Describe yourself:

King For A Day.

How do some people feel about you?

The Grouch.

How do you feel about yourself?

Blood, Sex and Booze.

Describe your ex:


Descibe your current significant other (real or imaginary):

Basket Case.

Describe what you want to be:

King For A Day.

Describe your current mood:


Describe your friends:

Having A Blast.

Share a few words of wisdom:

Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life).

Posted by Ryan at 02:35 PM | Comments (0)

December 04, 2003

That One Time, In China. . .

I visited China my senior year of high school. It was an incredible trip, to be sure, complete with obligatory trips to the Great Wall, The Summer Palace, the former residence of Sun Yat Sen, The Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and even a quick sojourn in Shanghai.

But, for some reason, last night, I had a very vivid dream that recounted, with some inaccuracies, one incident I had very nearly fogotten.

My classmates and I were standing in line at Tiananmen Square to the tomb that houses the corpse of Mao Tse Tung (those Communist nations soooo enjoy preserving their beloved leaders). Just for the record, Mao looked like a pumpkin, and a poorly carved pumpkin at that.

Anyway, as we were standing in line, during a particularly nice spring day, I heard a scream to my left. I looked over, and there I saw three Chinese police officers beating the living shit out of some female Chinese tourist who had either done something seriously wrong or who had done something minorly wrong and was being seriously punished for it. Whatever the case, there was a major league ass-whupping going on not more than 20 feet from me, and I didn't know what to do.

Then, the weirdest thing. While two officers dragged the victim to a nearby car and whisked her away to destinations unknown, the third officer crushed her disposable camera under his heel and then leaned down and unspooled the film, thus obviously ruining whatever was on it.

Just as the woman, kicking and screaming, was being loaded into the car, and just as the officer stood there exposing the film, I started to raise my own camera to get a picture of the bizarre event. No sooner had I brought the camera to my face than Mr. Stern, my teacher, grabbed my shoulder and warned, simply, "DON'T!" I looked at him, and the look in his eyes was as commanding as anything I think I've ever seen. His eyes said "DON'T" way louder than his voice did.

So, I didn't, though there's a part of me that really wishes I did.

Posted by Ryan at 04:38 PM | Comments (0)

December 03, 2003

A Tale of Drinking, Driving, Fate, And Airborn Shoes

Back when I was 18, I shared the universal 18-year-old belief that I was somehow invincible. The concept of death and dying were something I didn't understand, or at least were not something I could imagine ever happening to me. I was 18! I knew all! Everyone should bow down to how brilliant and perfect I was!

Shit, I was so stupid.

How stupid was I? Well, for starters, I thought it was kind of a cool idea to drive around in the country with a friend and a case of beer, a pastime known in Southeastern Minnesota as "going on tour." You basically start driving around gravel roads at night, inflict a considerable buzz on yourself, and then try to figure out how the hell to get home when the beer's gone.

Oh, and you talk about stuff.

Well, one winter night, my buddy, Marc, and I started talking about fate. Basically, he said fate was unavoidable, while I said man had control over his own destiny. From there, the dialogue went something like this. . . (keep in mind, being that we were 18 and fairly buzzed up, this constituted a BRILLIANT conversation for us)

MARC: You can't control fate. Every decision you've ever made in your life has dictated where you are right now, but fate dictated those decisions for you. You just THINK you have control over your life, when in fact fate decides your life for you.

ME: That's such a bunch of shit. If fate didn't have anything better to do than to send the two of us on a road tour tonight, then fate is a pretty boring entity. I DECIDED to go on tour tonight, but I could have decided NOT to.

MARC: But you DIDN'T decide not to. Fate made it impossible for you to decide not to.

ME: Listen, if, right now, I decided to drive into the ditch, I could do that. I could DECIDE to do that. Or, I could decide NOT to do that. Fate wouldn't play a role.

MARC: You can't DECIDE to go into the ditch. Fate would dictate that you accidentally go into the ditch, but you couldn't DECIDE to do that.

ME: Oh yeah? Let's test fate then.

So, with a quick twist of the steering wheel, I careened off the gravel road and plopped my '89 Cavalier snuggly into the ditch which, because it was winter, was chock full of snow. Marc, rightly so, labeled me a Grade A dumbfucker. With a few back and forth attempts, followed by laying heavily on the gas, it became quite apparent that we were substantially stuck.

We crawled out of the car and assessed the situation, and we quickly ascertained that the car was, in fact, substantially stuck. We tried pushing the car. We tried pulling on the car. We tried yelling at each other. We tried standing there and drinking a beer and just staring angrily at the car. All to no avail.

One thing was certain, though. In order to free the vehicle, we needed traction. The problem, of course, is that snow is not known for its traction. I put my 18-year-old buzzed up mind to work to try to figure out a solution. The solution I dreamt up was, to put it mildly, brilliant. And by brilliant I mean it was quite possibly the dumbest idea in mankind's sad history of dumb ideas.

I removed my shoes (Nikes, I think), and I stuffed one shoe under each front tire. This, I reasoned, would provide enough traction to free the vehicle if we just gunned the accelerator. Upon watching me, Marc just looked at me as if my brain had somehow just drained out of my ears. Once again, he labeled me, rightly so, a Grade A dumbfucker. But, friend that he was, he offered to be the one to hit the gas.

Marc got back in the car and, with a dramatic "3-2-1" countdown, he pushed the accelerator to the floor.

My shoes flew about 100 yards through the air in a perfect arc, attained a maximum height of about 30 feet, and came to rest in a fairly deep snowbank. The car, on the other hand, didn't move an inch.

I nominated Marc to go retrieve my shoes because, after all, I was only in my socks. He was so angry when he got back with my shoes, the snow practically was melting in a three foot radius around him. The anger, it turned out, worked out for the best because, in an act of strength reminiscent of Hercules, he managed to push my car free while I obediently ran the accelerator. I'm still not sure why I decided to put my shoes under those tires.

Fate, I guess.

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

December 02, 2003

Why Shouldn't Consumers Consume?

Far be it for me to piss anyone off but, according to some people, Americans should be ashamed about buying stuff during the Holiday season, or something like that.

In other words, American consumers shouldn't buy anything because to do so means we've fallen victim to the marketing bogeymen out to taint the Christmas season with the smear of capitalism. They've killed Christmas! Those bastards!

The problem I have with people making such asinine claims is that they just seem as though they want something to complain about, and they see a few colored lights and crazed shoppers and they yell "See?! See?! This is what's wrong with America! This is what's wrong with the world!" Whatever.

I like Christmas. No, scratch that. . . I like the Holiday season, and I don't particularly care that it has crept as far back on the calendar as Halloween. So what?

Has Christmas marketing hit a state of overkill? Sure. But, as with most things that have hit a state of overkill, I've become very adept at ignoring it. Just because the powers that be have decided that I should want to do all my Christmas shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, that doesn't mean I'm paying any attention to it.

What I do pay attention to are the things about Christmas I like. For example, considering that I live in Minnesota, where everything dies in October and the shortened days means it's pretty damned dark come 4:30 p.m., I really kind of enjoy the explosion of Christmas lights adorning all the houses and bushes and trees outside. They provide a splash of color and light during a particularly dreary time of year, and I secretly applaud those folks who keep those lights burning well into January and even February. Back when I was in high school, during the longest and most grueling (yet awesome) sports season in existence, wrestling, I would drag myself home after practice, my recently washed hair freezing into triangular crinkles, and the sight of houses bedecked with lights just made me feel, I don't know, somehow warmer. You may see Christmas lights as a beacon of the commercialization of Christmas, but I sure as hell don't. Ditto for Christmas trees and wreaths and anything else that reminds me that green trees and foliage DOES exist.

And, damn it, I don't care what all the naysayers groan about Christmas being an excuse for people to be nice for 1/12 of the year. I'm a realist. I understand that people have a buttload of personal problems, as trivial or monumental as they may seem to the rest of us, and so they're not inclined to be particularly pleasant during the rest of the year. If the Holiday season gives them a reason, however brief, to smile or wave at me for a change, then wonderful. And, yes, I realize that the suicide rate spikes during the Christmas season but, seriously, if Christmas didn't exist, those people would find some other time to off themselves. Maybe Yom Kippur?

Those who rail against the commercialization of Christmas seem to hold onto some sort of misguided righteous indignation that the holiday is just an excuse to buy gifts for people when, in fact, people should be buying gifts for people thoughout the year if they mean anything at all to you. That's a very touching sentiment, but. . . puh-lease.

I buy my girlfriend little things throughout the year, and I think I've invested enough in dinners with her to put five kids through Harvard. But, I just don't have the money to buy her truly wonderful and thoughtful things throughout the year. Christmas gives me a holiday, a day on the calendar, to save up and buy nice things for those who mean something to me. I really have a hard time finding the problem with that.

And, you know what? There are people on this planet who truly enjoy shopping. I mean, they honestly get off on doing battle with other shoppers to get a stellar deal. Shopping: it's their anti-drug. In other words, if they want to hop on the hype wagon and fight shopping crowds during the busiest shopping day of the year, where, exactly, is the problem with that?

I'm not one of those people. I detest shopping. I detest long lines. I detest labryinth-like parking. But, you know what? That's why I'm NOT a holiday shopper. I don't begrudge those who do participate in the hooplah. More power to them, I say. I'm more than happy to watch them on the local news, but I'm not interested in joining their ranks. But, you'll notice something about those shoppers when they're interviewed. Typically, they're smiling ear to ear. They're enjoying the living shit out of themselves.

And that's the problem with moronic excercises such as Do Not Shop Day. The only people who really observe that day are those people who have already decided they're not going to shop that day. It's like me deciding I'm not going to buy a car on Oct. 15, and then joining a club dedicated to those who have decided not to buy a car on Oct. 15. Pointless pointlessness. Actually, in my opinion, most everything initiated by AdBusters are exercises in pointless pointlessness (basically a group that advertises anti-advertising: how avant garde *groan*).

I'm not a sucker for advertising, with the exception of Axe Body Spray, of which I now own three bottles thanks to those fun commercials. Still, I'm not going to go out and buy a Humvee or a diamond bracelet or a genetically modified puppy just because the commercials tell me that they're what people should aspire to buy. I buy what I want to buy, usually oblivious to the siren call of advertising. I find it extremely easy to tune out most of the Holiday marketing. Seriously, it's not that difficult.

Unless, say, you've decided to have a problem with Christmas. Then the commercialization of the season is hard to ignore, because you're already convinced that it's bad, and it's wrong, and it's evil. Then you see it everywhere, which is too bad, because the Holiday season is really kind of cool.

Posted by Ryan at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)

December 01, 2003

And My Social Security Checks Are Where, Exactly?

Oh, and in a disconcerting development, on Friday I recieved a registration form for the American Association of Retired People (AARP). That's right. Here I am, 28-years-old and ready for retirement.

Now I just need a cane and droopy long underwear with a button-up backside so I can sit on the deck and wave angrily at those young whipper-snappers and I'll be set.

UNRELATED UPDATE: Ladies and gentlemen, I give you DICK Gephardt. (via A Small Victory)

ANOTHER UNRELATED UPDATE: Porn break. Porn break II. And porn break III. Kiera Knightly breasts. Kiera Knightly breasts. Kiera Knightly breasts. Kiera Knightly breasts. Kiera Knightly breasts. Kiera Knightly breasts. Kiera Knightly breasts. Kiera Knightly breasts. Kiera Knightly breasts.

Posted by Ryan at 03:26 PM | Comments (0)

Let The Music Play, But Play It Less Loud

I've never been a real huge fan of loud music. I don't understand the point of it. Why blare music? Why crank up the bass so much you can actually feel the bolts shaking loose in a car and the enamel cracking off your teeth?

I just don't get it. Is it somehow supposed to be cool? And, if it is supposed to be cool, shouldn't people lose the urge to be cool somewhere between the ages of 18 and 20? Seriously, there is a point where folks pass the age threshold of cool and enter the realm of annoying and ridiculous. I mean, when I see people in their late 20s or early 30s pass by in a vehicle that electrifies the air with the rumbling bass, I think "now there goes a real carload of idiots."

Maybe it's just me. I have this problem about loud music: namely, when loud music is blaring, I can't hear people around me talking. I have a hard enough time filtering out background noise and focusing on the person directly in front of me without a cacophony of ultra-loud music permeating the air.

The whole idea seems stupid to me. What's the point of going to a nightclub or bar or dance and having to shout everything? I went through that bizarre ritual countless times in college, and I always thought just how much easier the whole meeting and greeting thing would be if, instead of shouting and spitting in the face of an attractive female, we could seclude ourselves in a nice corner booth while, in the background, a soft-playing jazz band provides just the right amount of volume to provide both mood and ambiance without making my ears bleed.

But no, that's just not the way it works. Bands today apparently compete to see just how loud they can play. And, the worse the band is, the louder they feel they have to play. Apparently, the belief is that you can drown out a lack of talent just by turning the volume dial to MAX. That belief is wrong.

On Saturday, for example, my hometown held a charity dance for the local fire hall. It was a typical small town gathering: lots of drinking, lots of smoking, and lots of familiar faces who I should have known but couldn't for the life of me remember any names.

But, there I stood, beer in hand, unable to hear anything except the worst band in the history of bands, who had an audio system set up so they could be clearly heard in India. And, considering how abysmally terrible this band was, we can expect an official diplomatic complaint from India sometime in the near future.

I've been to a few concerts in my time, featuring actual big-name rock groups, like Metallica and The Rolling Stones. These are bands who have earned the right to sport large audio set-ups, because these bands play to venues consisting of thousands and thousands of people. They need to be loud because they need to be heard by the people in the back rows over a mile away.

But, in my hometown, where the local dance hall can, at most, accommodate, maybe, 300 people, there's simply no need to crank up the speakers until they shatter glassware four blocks away. Yes, band, we can HEAR YOU JUST FINE. And, yes, you're TERRIBLE. When did it become universally understood that bands have to blare their music no matter how incredibly awful they are?

Just for the record, the drums should not drown out the rest of the band. If the snare drum occasionally is louder than the vocals, there's likely a problem with your band. Drums should set the tempo. You should be able to hear the beat somewhere in the background. The drums should NOT be louder than the rest of the band combined.

Oh, and if you're playing a guitar, do NOT contort your face. Although I myself am not a guitar player, I find it incredibly doubtful that the act of playing a guitar can be even remotely as difficult and strenuous as you make it out to be through your facial manipulations. Yes, your music may be painful to the ears, but please refrain from looking as though you're about to defecate an entire watermelon. I'm not buying it. Please put more emphasis into actually trying to play your instrument with a semblance of talent.

I don't know. You people are smarter than I. Perhaps you could explain why small crap bands feel compelled to play so freakin' loud!

Posted by Ryan at 11:14 AM | Comments (3)
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