July 29, 2004

Credit Card Wisdom and Political Fun

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.

Feds Raid Democratic Convention in Error

Presence of Obama mistaken for presence of Osama

BOSTON (Rhodes Media Services) -- Federal agents today, in a large scale raid, descended on the Democratic National Convention after numerous reports indicated Osama bin Laden was somewhere on the premises.

Following a lightning-swift raid that included a meticulous frisking of Theresa Heinz Kerry, embarrassed investigators had to conclude, however, that the reports had confused the al Queda figurehead with Illinois state senator Barack Obama.

"Osama. . . Obama. It's an understandable mistake, if you think about it," said FBI Director Robert Mueller. "You can't really hold this one over my head, can you? Seriously, we had reports that Osama bin Laden was present at the Democratic National Convention; how could we not act on that?"

Obama himself was shaken up by the whole ordeal, having been handcuffed and whisked into a van parked outside. He had been injected with sodium pentathol twice before federal officers realized their error.

"Well. . . that was. . . unfortunate," said a dazed Obama. "All I can say is. . . I really don't envy. . . that Osama fucker when they really do get him."

Posted by Ryan at 12:43 PM | Comments (9)

Blogger Talk


Hello, Mitch. Hey, Leblanc.


Hey, homeslice. What's goin' down in da hood?




Oh, I was just passing by, and I thought I'd drop in and see what's new in your lives.


Oh, that's so sweet. You're the sweetest thing in all the whole world!


The girl speaks da truth! Y'all are sweeter than a 22-year-old chick's ass in spandex! Slip me some skin, bro!


Um. . . okay. You feeling all right today, Mitch?


Damn straight up, G! I can't yap it up about pol'tics all the time, y'know? Sometimes I gotta just chill out and try keepin' it real.


I think that's soooo cute! You're the cutest thing in all the whole world!


Oh yeah? How cute do y'all think I am? Maybe you want to show ol' Mitch how cute he is, eh?


Oh, maybe later.


All righty then. Well, I'll just leave you two alone. Maybe I'll see you two around later, huh?


Any time you sweet, wonderful, awesome guy, you!


I'll be here chillin' for awhile. Look me up any time, bro.


Okay. Bye guys. Now, I have to go bother Joshua and convince that paranoid man to put up a portrait of himself, even though I suspect that, after reading this, there's no chance in hell he will.

UPDATE: Oh, and I did this in tribute to the now-defunct Plain Layne:



Ehhhh, close enough.

UPDATE, THE SEQUAL: A Q&A that leaves one with more Qs than As. Joshua's on the case, though, so never fear.

Posted by Ryan at 10:02 AM | Comments (4)

July 27, 2004

Darth Vader Took Vacations?

Last week, I completed the latest in the Jedi Knight computer game line: Jedi Knight - Jedi Academy. It's your standard Jedi Knight story line: there's some Dark Jedi out in the galaxy that has to be stopped from completing some devious plot.

I've played every Jedi Knight game produced, going all the way back to 1996 and a game version that required a DOS prompt in order to get the game up and running. I played that on a 200 MHz computer with 4.3 GB of drive space, which was considered more storage than I'd ever use in a lifetime. The system today is a 2.6 GHz system with 80 GB of drive space, and half of that is already used up. amazing.

Anyway, there's this mission in Jedi Academy where you have to infiltrate Darth Vader's old palace. The wily Darth is long gone, of course, but his palace remains, apparently as some sort of tourist curiousity. "Oooh, look Mom, that's where the Dark Lord of the Sith used to brood and plot." *flashbulb*

Seriously, the palace stands as a useless relic, but there are nefarious evil-doers seeking to the drain the derelict palace of its residual force powers, kind of like a pot-head snuffling around the couch cusions for a renegade Dorito or two.

The aspect that I found interesting about the palace mission was that you're basically supposed to believe that Vader found time to take a vacation and relax. Watching the Star Wars movies, one got the feeling that ol' Darth was pretty much at his happiest when he was on the bridge of a ship, choking someone from afar. The idea that he occasionally took off to vacation at the Dark Side equivalent of Martha's Vineyard never really crossed my mind.

The folks who dreamt up and designed the palace mission really went all out to show just how bleak the Dark Side of the Force really is. For example, the palace is situated on a planet that regularly pours green acid rain. Now THAT'S evil! I could almost imagine Vader standing on a hilltop, with a stormtrooper holding an umbrella over the Dark Lord, when suddenly Vader has a Bugsy-Segal-in-the-desert-like epiphany.

"I shall build my palace here! It's just so perfectly bleak and evil! Now, my wondrous clone army, create for me a monument befitting your Leader!"

Upon completion, with the building still radiating that new palace smell, Vader kicked off his boots, had his deep breathing helmet suctioned up and out of the way and then he just sat there thinking deep evil thoughts, and maybe sipped on a fruity alcoholic beverage adorned with a small umbrella.

But it was too strong, so he choked the bartended from across the room. Ahhhh, that was the life.

Posted by Ryan at 12:42 PM | Comments (3)

I Outta Be In Pictures

This took awhile to create, but this is what I ended up with:


And, you know, I agree with Mitch, in that:

-- Yick, what a gross picture
-- Yick, what an accurate picture

Posted by Ryan at 11:04 AM | Comments (3)

July 26, 2004

West Circle Drive Me Insane

There is a road I drive each morning on my way into work, and then again from work back to my home, and this road is called West Circle Drive. It's not a particularly long commute, perhaps five miles each way. As commutes go, really, it's kind of piddly.

But West Circle Drive has these things, and these things are called stop lights, and there are an unsettling number of stop lights stationed on West Circle Drive.

Stop lights, as you may know, are lights that tell motorists to stop. They consist of three colors: there is a green color, which is every motorists favorite stop light color, because it means GO. There is a yellow color, which is a dangerous color, because motorists have different reactions to it, ranging from pushing the accelerator through the floor to slamming on the brakes so suddenly it causes tailing motorists to wonder if there is an emergency baby-delivery about to commence. Finally, there is a red color, also known as the *#^$%^@* color, which requires motorists to stop, and most motorists today will tell you they hate stopping, so the red color is not at all popular with motorists.

Now, I don't really have a problem with stoplights. They're necessary in today's automobile-laden world. However, West Circle Drive, quite simply, has way too many stop lights. In the span of about three miles, there are no less than seven stop lights. That, in itself, is not really the problem. The problem is that five of those lights are stationed within a half mile. It's like a stop light party or something.

And, I'm here to tell you, you can NOT catch all five of those lights. You WILL have to stop at least once and, more than likely, you'll have to stop as many as three times.

I have come to believe that each stop light has its own unique personality. The first stop light I encounter on the way to work, for example, is a laid back and easy-going stop light. It's pretty good about letting me get through. I think it recognizes my car and kind of likes me. I typically have no problem catching that light.

Light #2 is a little more finicky. If #2 is in a bad mood, chances are you won't have a prayer of catching it. Light #2 realizes that you're about to encounter hell's kitchen when it comes to stop lights, so it generally lets me go through unimpeded.

Lights #3 and #4 are the real stinkers. They're set up, I believe, to be completely unsynchronized. If one is green, the other is red, and vice versa and, since they're about 100 feet apart, this can drive anxious motorists to no end of crazy. You can be stopped at light #3, even if it's green, because there's traffic backed up thanks to light #4 being red. Or, you can be stopped at #3, while up ahead #4 is green, but as soon as #3 goes green, #4 clicks to red. It's enough to make you scream, and I've seen motorists punch the ceilings of their autos in impatient disgust.

Light #5 is located about one-third of a mile past light #4, and it knows when you're coming, let me tell you. I'll be coming down the hill at #5, and it will be green, but as soon as I get within an acceptable range, it clicks to yellow, just daring me to gun the gas, or wimp out and hit the brakes. I'm a hit-the-brakes kind of guy, and I swear I can hear that light laughing a little electronic laugh every time I roll to a stop before it.

Light #6 is located another mile down the road. I probably wouldn't have a gripe about #6, but I usually still have the taunting laugh of light #5 ringing in my ears upon my arrival at #6, so I get really agitated if that one clicks to yellow just as I approach it. I start to feel as if the world is conspiring to keep from getting to work on time.

Finally, there's light #7, which would probably bother me to know end, except that's my turn-off, and since I can turn right on red, there's really not much #7 can do to slow me down, and I think that probably bothers #7 just a little bit.

Then again, light #7 plays a much more significant role on the way home, but that's an entirely different story, which I won't bore you with today.

Posted by Ryan at 02:04 PM | Comments (8)


Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of summer is that the season consists of such a finite number of weekends. I don't really notice the passage of summer much at work, or any season for that matter. Here, in the office, the current season is always "Flourescent."

But, the weekends? I notice the passage of those. And man do they pass fast. I find myself almost desperately clinging to my summer weekends, sitting outside at dusk just trying to soak in that last solar ray before the sun ducks down over the horizon. Sunday evenings always seem to be a bit of a bittersweet affair.

The toughest part of summer weekends is deciding what to do to fill them. Quite often, the decision is made for me, such as in the case of weddings. Other times, though, my weekend is spread before me, with a smorgasbord of options, all of them appealing, and I wish I could do all of them.

Last weekend, for example, I could have attended a blogger get-together and, truth be told, I was looking forward to it immensely. But then, a friend of mine called me up and reminded me that I was supposed to be his partner in a golf tournament. And not just any golf tournament: the Black Chad Open in my hometown of Harmony. It was one of those approach-approach conflicts that's so devilishly difficult to work through.

Ultimately, I opted to get together with my friends on the golf course, and I'm really hoping I didn't make the wrong choice, although I don't think there was a wrong choice.

A little history about the Black Chad Open, based entirely on my own faulty memory and the fact that some of the story is based on handed down information. According to local lore, a group of young men came together to play golf in Harmony about five years ago or so. One of the young men was named Chad, and he just happened to be black. The men had such a fine time golfing that day, they decided to come back the next year and organize a two-man best ball tournament and, for whatever reason, they named it the Black Chad Open. There's a $40 entry fee, which includes all the beer you can drink throughout the 18 hole tournament. It can become a pretty rowdy and hilarious affair.

This year was no exception. It was a laugh riot from the opening drive to the final putt. I can't say I made the wrong choice at all. I just made a choice on one of the remaining weekends of my fleeting summer.

But, damn it, from the sounds of it, the blogger get-together was a grand-old time in its own right. Couldn't they have tried to have a little less fun?


Posted by Ryan at 10:18 AM | Comments (5)

July 23, 2004

Perfect Strangers

Ryan says: Hey, you know what?

Caroline says: buuuuuuuuuurp

Caroline says: what

Ryan says: Sometimes the world looks perfect

Caroline says: um, ok

Ryan says: Nothin' to rearrange

Caroline says: lol

Caroline says: gotcha

Ryan says: Sometimes you just

Ryan says: Get a feelin' like you need some kind of change

Ryan says: Standin' tall

Caroline says: where'd you find that?

Caroline says: Sometimes the world looks perfect,
Nothing to rearrange.
Sometimes you get a feeling
Like you need some kind of change.
No matter what the odds are this time,
Nothing's going to stand in my way.
This flame in my heart,
And a long lost friend
Gives every dark street a light at the end.

Standing tall, on the wings of my dream.
Rise and fall, on the wings of my dream.

Caroline says: The rain and thunder
The wind and haze
I'm bound for better days.
It's my life and my dream,
Nothing's going to stop me now.

Ryan says: Ah, you found the lyrics, too, I see.

Caroline says: yes sir

Ryan says: You know? I was just thinking, about the Perfect Strangers lyrics. . .

Ryan says: The whole "standin' tall, on the wings of my dreams."

Ryan says: They never really accomplished much.

Caroline says: No, they really didn't, did they?

Ryan says: They worked in a mail room.

Caroline says: I mean, they moved to some place and got girfriends, which I think is kind of an accomplishment given their characters.

Ryan says: And in some store somewhere with a grumpy boss.

Caroline says: yeah

Ryan says: We never heard much about their "dreams."

Ryan says: They lived in a small Chicago apartment. Wow, big dreams there, guys.

Caroline says: No, the moved eventually, didn't they?

Ryan says: I think they were in that apartment the whole time.

Caroline says: oh.

Ryan says: If anything, Balchi really held his cousin back.

Caroline says: why do I remember them moving into a place with the girls?

Ryan says: They may have. I didn't follow the show much towards the end.

Posted by Ryan at 11:06 AM | Comments (5)

July 22, 2004

Note To Journalists

Dear journalistic community:

I am here to inform you of something vitally important to our writing discipline. I know many within our ranks differ in opinion on all matter of issues, from bias, to editing standards, to the best type of fonts and, to a lesser extent, whether something is less filling or whether it tastes great.

However, there is a growing controversy that I think needs to be put to rest before it boils out of control and we journalists take sides until we pour out into the streets weilding extra-sharp pencils, intent on battle.

In the old days of journalism, you see, newspaper type was set in lead. Also, in the old days, the opening sentence of every article was called the "lead." Alas, the similarity in spellings caused newsrooms no end of strife. Were they talking about the metal, or the opening paragraph? No one could seem to keep them straight. Lead paragraphs ended up getting mixed in with the type, and little metal letters kept landing on the opening paragraphs of countless news stories. Chaos was only a matter of time.

Something had to be done.

To keep Armegeddon out of the newsrooms, it was decreed that the opening sentence was to be henceforth called the "lede." And, lo, the clouds did part, and the sun broke through, and those in the news business gazed in wonderment at their newly-minted word. They had created "lede," and it was good.

Except that "lede" looks really gay.

Thus began the controversy.

On the one side, there are the conservative journalists, like myself, who think, since the opening sentence leads off an article, it should be called the "lead." It just makes all sorts of sense. Those of us who believe in "lead" are a hardy bunch. We take our coffee strong, we swear a lot, we think about sex every five seconds and we're all smoking hot specimens of journalistic beauty.

In the other camp are the elitist snobs who prefer the "lede" spelling. They like "lede" because it signifies to others that "hey, I went to journalism school." Those who use "lede" are a pansy bunch of milquetoasts, usually with pasty faces and an inflated air of self-importance. Most of them prefer "lede" because it looks suspiciously like a French word, which makes them feel worldly and intellectual. Typically, "lede" users aren't ugly, but their looks are usually decidedly plain.

Such are the battle lines being drawn, and I think it's high time we set the matter straight. Simply stated, since newsrooms no longer utilize lead type, it's pointless to have a made-up word to distinguish between a metal and an opening sentence. The time has come to sweep "lede" aside like so many little lead type letters. We should divest ourselves of "lede" and never speak of it again. It was a mistake, and one that should have never been allowed to happen in the first place.

We will accept you back into our "lead" ranks, oh "lede" proponents, but first you have to agree never to use "lede" again, not even in the privacy of your own homes. You can't even write it down and put it in a little box and look at it from time to time.

"Lede" is dead. Move on. Come back over to our side, where the beautiful journalists live. And we party like crazy. In that respect, we've taken the "lead."

Posted by Ryan at 03:45 PM | Comments (6)

July 21, 2004

Gifted At Romance

So, I was flipping through the cable stations last night, and I came to a startling conclusion. Namely, Hollywood makes it really tough on us guys when it comes to buying gifts for the other gender.

Now, I've gone off, at length, about the problems I have with movies and television when it comes to romance and how they prop up this belief that everyone can fall in love in a few days and then get married within a week and then roll the credits, leaving the audience thinking that everything worked out happily ever after.

What they don't show, of course, is when the girl walks in on the guy in the bathroom, vigorously pounding his pud to the latest issue of Maxim, or when the guy happens to discover that the girl picks her nose and eats her boogers, or the secret horde of human ears she keeps under the bed.

In other words, Hollywood never shows all the stuff you just learn over time that colors your opinion of a significant other and you decide whether their many human idiosyncracies still don't decrease your love for them. This goes a long way, I think, in explaining why celebrity marriages last about as long as a popsicle on a hot day.

Like I've said, it takes a few years, two at least, before you even have an inkling of what the hell is truly going on. So, if you're engaged after a year? Good fucking luck. See you in divorce court, folks.


My gripe today is centered more on how Hollywood sets the bar too high for men when it comes to gift buying. Because, I'm here to tell you, the movies just aren't fair in this regard.

Now, I should point out here that I'm a crappy gift buyer to begin with. I can do the flower thing, and I can do the wine thing, and I can do the dinner thing. Those basically represent my strengths.

Yet, according to the movies, my strengths are pretty minor league stuff. In the course of my channel surfing last night, I saw men buying women expensive necklaces, gaudy bracelets, ornate dresses, cars, exotic pets and on and on and on.

Now, I would normally have no problem with such fictional gift-giving. They're just movies after all, right? Well, the problem is that, gradually, such egregious displays of gift-giving start to work their way into the female subconscious. Such gifts start to be considered rational and a true expression of love and devotion. An expensive necklace means you really love a person.

I imagine it didn't use to be this way. I imagine that, back in the days of our cave-dwelling ancestors, gift giving was probably a far more pragmatic exercise.

Og, the village elder would, perhaps, kill a deer, drag it back to the village, and present it to Oglette in an attempt to win her favor. Oglette, in turn, would skin the deer and make a nice jacket out of the hide and present it to Og in an act of acceptance of Og's affections. I miss the days of Og and Oglette because they knew what really mattered.

If Hollywood movie writers had any common sense, or felt any obligation to make the human dating and mating process just a bit easier, they'd stop setting such impossible romantic expectations. They'd sit back and think, "you know, building a love boat out of trees planted as a child sure is a gigantic romantic gesture, but do I really want to contribute such craziness to an already horribly difficult and unrealistic dating realm?"

Instead, I think writers should step back and start lowering the bar a little. I think it would refreshing if Hollywood started showing the reality that even simple gifts, like wine, flowers and dinner, actually cost a whole shit of a lot, especially over time.

Instead of showing a guy dramatically unveiling an expensive music box that's about as useful as an ingrown toenail, it would be nice to show a guy giving a girl something a bit more pragmatic, like maybe a tee-shirt or possibly a Britta water filter, and then flashing over to the girl, who is beeming with gratitude.

Eventually, if movie writers play their cards right, within a decade women the world over will think that getting a bar of soap and some toothpaste represents a wonderful display of affection and love from their significant other. Hopefully, we'll get back to a time when dinner, wine, a movie and flowers represent the high end of gift-giving and people will really start to recognize how valuable and thoughtful such acts are.

And with a little more time, we'll get back to the deer-killing aspect of dating, which would be sweet.

Posted by Ryan at 12:41 PM | Comments (9)

July 19, 2004

Worst. Movie. Ever!

I just came home from the movie Anchorman, with Will Ferrel. If you have not seen this movie, do yourself a favor and DO NOT see this movie. In fact, to avoid contamination from this movie, you should probably not go to any movie theater complex that is even showing this movie. It is THAT bad.

I laughed, maybe, twice during the flick, and once was during an erection scene that was only nominally humorous, and the other was when a dog got punted off a bridge, which you shouldn't really laugh at. This movie was just abyssmal. I can't say enough bad things about it.

I mean, I can appreciate that they were trying to produce a movie that was so over-the-top, it was ludicrous. Fine. But, for the love of God, please try to make it funny! As it is, Anchorman is just annoying and utterly irritating and perhaps the biggest waste of money I spent on a move since Rush Hour. Along Came Polly was pretty bad in its own right, but at least I caught that on cable, so it was basically free.

My girlfriend was actually angry after the movie, and towards the last 10 minutes, we were seriously pondering walking out. The only other people in the theater were a bunch of teenagers, and even THEY rarely laughed.

My faith in movies has been seriously shaken by all of this. We're supposed to watch I, Robot somewhere down the line. Please don't let that movie stink as incredibly as Anchorman.

Okay, I suppose the character of Brick, played by Stephen Carrel, was kinda funny, but if you want to laugh at a guy with a low IQ and be watching a good movie, you could go watch Forrest Gump, or Sling Blade. Pinning your hopes on Brick and his one-liners simply will not save you the anguish of watching Anchorman.

Christina Applegate still looks good, I guess, so there that.

Caroline says: Why didn't you like Anchorman?

Ryan says: Why DID YOU like Anchorman?!!

Ryan says: It was the most ham-fisted, over-acted, mass of totally-awful sight gags ever conceived. It was just. so. stupid.

Caroline says: I think you took it too seriously.

Caroline says: I guess I needed a stupid laugh last week.

Ryan says: No, I didn't. I went in fully realizing it was supposed to be over the top.

Ryan says: And it was over the top, but it just wan't funny.

Ryan says: I flirted with leaving after the dog got punted off the bridge.

Caroline says: uh huh

Ryan says: I mean, the Brick character was sort of funny, but laughing at stupid people with silly one liners isn't a new or compelling sort of comedy. That kind of thing has been done to death.

Ryan says: And the whole Kodiak bear scene? Could that have been any dumber?

Caroline says: Okay, this wasn't supposed to be a ground-breaking, Oscar-worthy movie. The movie was supposed to be dumb. You took it too seriously.

Ryan says: No, no I didn't. I like Kentucky Fried Movie, for crying out loud, so I know when a movie is supposed to be dumb and to just sit back and enjoy its dumbness.

Ryan says: But Anchorman wasn't even enjoyably dumb.

Caroline says: Then you didn't watch it with the right attitude. I didn't like Kentucky Fried Movie, but whatever.

Ryan says: It was one extremely lame joke after another. Right attitude my ass.

Caroline says: Okay, that's your opinion. But there are a lot of people who did like the movie, including the critics.

Caroline says: I'm not going to argue anymore about a movie that was supposed to be dumb. Sometimes people just need that kind of movie.

Ryan says: Agreed. If you're content to defend a movie that insults your intelligence, then great. I simply asked what you found funny about it, and you said, "because it's dumb." I pointed out that, yes, it's dumb, and it's supposed to be dumb, but it doesn't bring any fresh humor to the table, it just recycles old comedy tools that have been done to death.

Caroline says: No, I didn't say I liked it because it was dumb.

Caroline says: I said I needed a good laugh, and that's what it did. I didn't feel as though my intelligence was insulted. If you go in knowing it's not a serious movie, then you won't be insulted.

Ryan says: Oh for crying out loud. Listen very carefuly, Care, and I'll type it this time extra slow so you can follow along. . . I . . . went. . . in. . . knowing. . . it. . . was. . . not. . . a . . . serious. . . movie. That does not change the fact that the jokes were atrocious, recycled gags that relied on cheap and easy softball style humor. Ooh, an erection in plaid pants! Oh ha ha ha.

Ryan says: Ooh, a dog getting punted off a bridge. Oh ha ha ha. A super-stupid guy delivering over-acted one-liners. Oh ha ha ha. A 13-year-old could trot out tired crap like that.

Caroline says: the horse is dead, Ryan. Stop beating it. We have different opinions.

Ryan says: Ah, the dying yelp of someone who can't defend their position. Very well. I'll carry on.

Caroline says: My position is I liked the movie because it made me laugh.

Ryan says: Yet you can't come up with any reason why you laughed beyond "I went in knowing it was supposed to be dumb."

Ryan says: Let me ask you one final question, and then I'll be on my little way. Could you sit through that bomb again and laugh?

Caroline says: Listen, I just liked the movie. I needed to laugh and the movie made me laugh. Yes, I could laugh again at the movie. I don't need to have a reason for why I laughed. The movie made me laugh. Leave it alone, man.

Ryan says: Spoken like a toddler explaining why they still like their blankie.

Caroline says: Whatever, Ryan. It's just a movie. It's not like we're arguing about something important.

Ryan says: We rarely argue about anything important.

Caroline says: Exactly.

Ryan says: And I still make the arguments far more compelling.

Caroline says: Not really.

Caroline says: Ryan, you don't know it all. Deal with it.

Ryan says: I acquiesce that I "don't know it all." Thanks for dealing out such blanket generalizations though. That demonstrates solid mental dexterity on your part. Top notch, really. I have cited specific examples, in detail, why Anchorman sucked the royal wang, as per your question as to why I didn't like it, and you respond with "I liked it because I laughed. You don't know it all. Deal with it."

Ryan says: Pretty weak, Care.

Caroline says: it's a movie, Ryan. I don't come out of every movie saying why or why I didn't like it. I just leave it at that. I liked it.

Ryan says: I have a ball. Perhaps you'd like to bounce it?

Posted by Ryan at 11:46 PM | Comments (16)

Someone's Going To Heck

The funniest part? I found the cartoon in the Extended Entry at an Egyptian blog.


Posted by Ryan at 04:20 PM | Comments (1)

My House Lies Here

Ever since I went and bought my house, I've noticed that I sit and wonder what the insides of other people's houses look like. I wonder if they have as nice of floors as mine. I wonder how they make use of their available space. I wonder what kind of furniture they have. I wonder if they have a daughter, and if she's hot, and if she's into guys with shaved heads.

To appease all the conjecture wrapped within my wonderment, I've discovered the wonderful world of open houses, which allow me to wander aimlessly around homes that are for sale. My girlfriend and I spend a considerable amount of time on the weekends visiting open houses to see how other homes compare to my own.

One of my favorite aspects of visiting open houses is conjuring elaborate lies about myself when talking with the realtors who are conducting the open houses. I create wonderful fantasy worlds in which I'm a Mayo Clinic doctor who makes $500,000 a year, or I'm an IBM junior executive who makes $800,000 a year, with stock options. The more wealthy I make myself out to be, the more giddy the realtors become. It's great fun.

My girlfriends, sadly, is incapable of such big-time lying. She gets uncomfortable when it comes to spewing whopper tales like the ones I relate to ambitious realtors. She understands that it's all harmless good fun, but she just can't do it.

So, she'll stand there and nod while I explain that I'm a 3M manager looking to buy a Rochester home to live in on the weekends to "get away from it all."

How grandiose and elaborate my lies are usually is determined by how grandiose and elaborate the house I'm looking at is and how in-your-face the realtor may be. For really irritating realtors, I'll concoct stories that no-doubt leave them breathless.

REALTOR: Here, take my card. This is a beautiful home, and the asking price, I must say, is a steal. Here, sign the guest book, and be sure to write your address and phone number! You should really buy this house! Why are you looking now?

ME: Oh, I just came back from a mountain-climbing trip on Everest. I very nearly died, but my life was saved by some other climbers who just happened to come by at the right time. While I was recovering, I spent a lot of time thinking about my life, and my personal fortune, and I realized that life's just too short, and that I need to settle down in a nice neighborhood and start a family, and disconnect myself from the harsh realities of the work world and just spend some time enjoying my wealth rather than trying to add to it.

REALTOR: Well, this home is just perfect for you then!

ME: Yes, I agree. I'll probably call you next week to make a bid!

REALTOR: Excellent!


And then we go tour another house, where I become a successful stock-broker from New York who is escaping the big city for a more simple life.

Posted by Ryan at 01:06 PM | Comments (2)

July 16, 2004

Some Of My Not-So-Famous-But-Should-Be Pictures

Just a sojourn into my continued plight as a frustrated yet hopeful photographer. Click the pictures for larger images.

UPDATE: Thanks to Donna, I decided to add captions or, more appropriately, descriptions, to these photos.

Bridge 2.jpg

This is a bridge just outside of Winona, Minn., where I went to college. Actually, it's a bridge right outside of a town called Stockton, which is right outside of Winona. I took this picture one weekend when I was feeling nostalgic for my college years. It was a very cold fall day.


This image was best captured in black and white. I know because I took a color picture of it too and. . . ehhh. This is on the Mississippi, that long river with the long name. I took this on a warm October day while pleasure cruising on my good friend's boat.


This was taken on Island Lake near Northome, Minn., off the deck of my grandparents' cabin on July 18th 2001. My grandpa was battling cancer at the time. He died in late Sept. that year, not long after much of the innocence of America died also. This picture has so much significance to me, I can't even begin to tell you.


This was taken in October of last year, during a sojourn to my parents' home in Harmony, Minn. I took a lot of pictures of that damned rainbow, probably because it's the dream of everyone who has ever held a camera in their hand to catch the perfect "rainbow" picture. It may not be perfect, but it's okay. I was on the cordless phone with my mother in Tokyo at the time I took this, and as I told my mother what I was taking a picture of, she related one of her favorite stories about me and rainbows. Apparently, when I was a youngster, I returned from a walk with mother in the rain and asked her, "Mom, the next time we walk in the rain, can we walk on the rainbow?" God but I was cute.


This tree is just South of Chatfield, Minn., and, unless you're an astute motorist, chances are you'll miss it entirely, which I did for most of my life until one spring day I noticed it out of the corner of my eye. I always wonder how that tree ended up growing into the ground like that. A strong wind? A cow itching itself? Who knows? All I know is that it's a perfect arch, a freak of nature that's also nearly perfect natural art.


I was hired to take pictures of a wedding when this vista caught my eye. It's like the magic eye fad that took hold in the mid-90s. The rows just kind of play with your vision. This is just outside of Preston, Minn.


This was taken on the Big Island of Hawaii during my first and only flight in a helicopter. Maybe it was the motion sickness, or maybe it was the fact it was Dec., 2001, and 9/11 was still fresh in my mind, but for whatever reason, I was incredibly airsick when I took this picture. Frankly, it's amazing it's as in focus as it is. It turned out great though, almost like the terrain of a foreign world.


Another picture taken during that same Hawaii trip. This one captures the volcano of Mauna Loa, on which an American military base is located. My good friend, Jim, a former marine, once had to hike up that mountain from the airport at sea level. It was common for his fellow marchers to faint en route and require what was known as "the silver bullet" which consisted of having their trousers pulled down and having a thermometer stuck in their butts to gauge their internal temperatures. I asked Jim if he ever passed out on the way up. "No," he replied. "And pretty much for that exact reason."


The only really nice sand beach on the Big Island is called Hapuna Beach, which is located about 30 minutes from every interesting town, but it's a great beach, probably one of the nicest on all the Hawaiian islands. This, I think, is a fledgling banyan tree overlooking Hapuna Beach. The waters of Hawaii are some of the most brilliant emerald blue imaginable. Then again, there may be others just as brilliant, but I've not yet visited them.


Another Big Island picture, in the town of Kona. I took this picture as an afterthought, walking back to the condo after dinner. I didn't like it at first, but it's grown on me more and more. The reflection of the sun, particularly, at the bottom of the picture, is something unique to digital photography that can't be replicated on traditional film. At least I don't think it can.

Dolphins Boat.JPG

I took this picture last December, during a whale watching excursion that encountered no whales, but plenty of dolphins. At first, I was annoyed by the presence of the bow of the boat being in the picture, but then I started realizing that it, too, looked like the snout of a dolphin. Opinions may vary on this one.

Trees Sunset.jpg

Oh, brother. Hard to explain this one. It was taken in Colorado, during a visit to my brother and sister-in-law. I took this picture, initially, because of the irony of the one dead tree amongst all the dead ones. Then, when I looked at it full side, it seemed almost haunting. You can't tell it from the picture, but it was snowing like all hell at the time, yet there's the orb of the sun, peering through it all. It's so dark and mysterious and bleak. One of my most favorite photographic "mistakes."


This is Bartlett Lake, in Northome, Minn., basically in my grandparent's backyard. Remember the picture up above, of the dock? Well, this one was taken the night I arrived in Northome in late Sept., 2001, to observe my grandfather's funeral. I'd seen that lake countless times during my life, but never in the fall. I'd always seen it during the summer season of plenty and the winter season of Christmas. That was the first time I saw it in autumn. A time of beauty in death. Appropriate, really.

Life can be so poignant, if you take the time to notice.

Posted by Ryan at 08:08 PM | Comments (11)

Talking Out Of My Ass

Last night, I received yet another e-mail from some disgruntled blog reader who insists I habitually am "talking out of my ass."

Now, I won't go into lengthy detail as to why said e-mailer believes my posterior orifice is the medium through which I do most of my verbal correspondence but, suffice it to say, they apparently took most umbrage with my political leanings.

I was going to respond to the e-mail personally, but then I got to thinking: "What if I really do talk out of my ass? What if my ass does all my thinking for me, and I simply don't realize it?"

So, I decided to sit down and have a heart to heart discussion with my ass. But, then I realized I couldn't sit down and talk with my ass at the same time, because then my ass sounded all muffled. So, I stood up, instead, to conduct the interview. Soooooooo. . .


ME: Hello, ass, thanks for taking the time to talk with me today.

ASS: Oh, no problem. I'm happy to be here.

ME: So, last night, I got this e-mail from some person who thinks, when it comes to politics, I'm talking out of my ass. Care to comment?

ASS: Well, I need specifics here. I'm not a mind-reader.

ME: Of course. Well, basically, they said I (and by extension, you, my ass, I guess) was a weak-minded fool for taking the terrorism threat as seriously as I do. They said it was ridiculous for me to think the war on terror was really legitimate seeing as how 9/11 was perpetrated by 19 individuals with box-cutters almost three years ago. That doesn't constitute an army, they said.

ASS: Ah, interesting. Well, not to invoke a slippery slope argument or anything, but what number, specifically, constitutes an "army?" If a terrorist cell consisted of 130 individuals, for example, would that be enough to constitute an army? I mean, it's still way small compared to an actual standing military of a recognized nation, but at what point do you acquiesce and say "gee, that operation sure had all the hallmarks of a military operation to me."

ME: I tend to agree. Anyway, then this e-mailer went off on another tangent, saying that my chances of being killed by a terrorist act were less than me dying in a car accident and, therefore, I'm exaggerating the threat.

ASS: Huh. Fascinating. Except that your car isn't conspiring to acquire nuclear weapons. Look, no, you as an individual are not all that likely to be killed in a terrorist attack. Chances are pretty slim, actually. But that doesn't mean the threat isn't there. It's a matter of how you choose to respond to that threat. The thing about terrorism is that, today, it can mean 19 whackos with box cutters, but tomorrow it could could mean 19 whackos with dirty bombs and anthrax. A car accident will always be a car accident, but terrorism is a fluid and evolutionary thing. Is the e-mailer really content to sit back and wait for the next terror evolution to take place in favor of addressing social security instead?

ME: You're a wise ass. Anyway, in the e-mailer's lengthy and basically unfocused assault, they said that invading Afghanistan and Iraq led to more terrorist enrollment, not less, and that it just fuelled hatred even more.

ASS: I like that. It's cute, almost as if there's a terror clerk, with a pen and paper, tallying the number of terrorists out in the world today versus the number there were on Sept. 10, 2001. Look, on 9/11, 19 fanatics were able to bring down four airplanes, two buildings, part of the heart of America's military-industrial complex, and kill 3,000 people. That's a lot of hate being released there. And we're supposed to believe there's more hate to be fuelled by going after it? What the hell? In three years, we've disposed of two despotic regimes that were an embarrassment to the human species and chased terrorists from their cozy training camps into the mountains and into cesspools like Fallujah where the local populace is ratting them out. Damn us for fuelling such hate!

ME: I suppose. But, as the e-mailer stated, it's just a matter of time before the terrorists strike again, thanks to our heavy hand in the Middle East over the past few years.

ASS: Oh, and I suppose no such attacks would have been forthcoming if we had just licked our wounds and moved on after 9/11? You know, there's nothing that invites an ass kicking more than someone who doesn't do a damned thing after getting their ass kicked. Trust me. I'm an ass, so I know these things. It's a nice thought, turning the other cheek and all that. But, you know what? Eventually, you run out of cheeks to turn. Personally, I thought the last cheek was turned after the two embassy bombings, but what the hell do I know?

ME: Well, thanks for taking the time to talk with me today, Ass. It's always a pleasure.

ASS: Thanks. Now shave me.

Posted by Ryan at 11:35 AM | Comments (35)

July 15, 2004

How Funny Is This Blog?

One out of two cats think it's this funny.

Posted by Ryan at 01:32 PM | Comments (8)

July 13, 2004

Pinchy, Pinchy

Via Tammy, we find the most wonderfully foul game you'll never want to play yet be drawn into regardless.

It's basically impossible so, if you get frustrated, you can click the Mega Splat option on the left. Bring your raincoat.

Posted by Ryan at 04:28 PM | Comments (1)

What You Don't Know Could Cost You A Movie Ticket

So, I was in a convenience store (SuperAmerica) up in the Cities over the weekend, and I caught snippets of a conversation between the clerk behind the counter and an apparent friend of his.

FRIEND: Me and the girl went to see Fahrenheit 9/11 last night.

CLERK: Yeah? What'd you think?

FRIEND: It was stupid. I was some damned thing about President Bush and the war in Iraq. First time I ever walked out of a movie. I want my money back!

CLERK: Why? What did you expect?

FRIEND: fuck, I don't know. I thought it was some movie about an arsonist or firefighters or something.

CLERK: You're kidding me.

FRIEND: No, I'm not kidding. If I want to know about shit like that, I'll read a fucking newspaper.

Somehow, I got the feeling the friend rarely, if ever, read a fucking newspaper.

Posted by Ryan at 03:48 PM | Comments (3)

Radio Station Famine

There is a reason that so many people are now downloading music and opting for online radio stations, and that reason is Rochester, Minn.

This city in which I live has the odious distinction of having the worst radio stations on all of the entire planet. Not that Rochester is all that keen on admitting this foul little fact.

No, Rochester is more interested in promoting the fact that it's routinely listed in the top five cities deemed Best Places To Live In America by some nothing publication called Money Magazine. Seriously, here in Rochester, the yearly Money Magazine listing is a cause of great celebration, and nobody seems to have any idea why.

Tell you what, Money Magazine, you come on over to Rochester and look me up, and I'll take you on my drive to and from work on West Circle Drive, and I'll make a special point of taking you over the engineering disaster of an overpass that features no less than four freakin' stoplights in less than 300 yards, and I'll be damned if they're at all synched up, and more than likely we'll find ourselves stuck in the middle of that mess of lights for minutes on end and. . . and. . . and. . . ARGH! Best Place To Live In America MY ASS!

Anyway. Where was I?

Oh, yes, radio stations.

Here in Rochester there are two primary radio stations, Laser 101.7 KRCH, and KROC. These are your basic choices here in Rochester. Oh, there are other, less well known stations that play soft rock and stuff you'll hear as background music in a Kate Hudson movie, but basically these are your two choices.

Laser 101.7, KRCH, touts itself as a classic rock station, meaning they believe the evolution of music stopped abruptly sometime in 1978. KRCH is, I think, legally bound to play at least one Led Zeppelin tune every half hour. It is my firm belief that KRCH has a wealth of CDs by the Doors and the Allman Brothers that are on the verge of disintegration due to overplaying.

KRCH routinely plays a listener testamonial from some caller who says, in a deep and suspiciously drunk-sounding voice that "You guys play the best music I've ever heard!" Trust me when I say that can't be right. The man is quite obviously mistaken.

The other Rochester radio station is KROC, which positions itself as the leader in "Today's Best Music," which would be fine, I suppose, if they had a freakin' clue what today's best music actually is. In the minds of those at KROC, anything by Outkast or Sisqo or any other number of bands with different names that sound exactly alike constitute today's best music.

KROC reaches out to its core listener base, which is basically middle school and high school students who call in frequently and sound like they have a collective IQ of 76. Take, for example, KROC's "Rate at Eight," when they play some new song and encourage listeners to rate it on a scale of one to ten. Well, most listeners, I think, hear the numbers "one" and "ten" and assume those are their only choices because, nine times out of ten, the Einsteins who call in will rate the song either a one ("dude, that song sucks") or a ten ("dude, that totally rocks and has a great beat").

Right now, the song that's getting the most air time on KROC is a particularly annoying diddy by Outkast called "Roses." Keep in mind that this song is adored by students ages 12 through 18, and that the recurring chorus for this Shakepearian piece of lyrical genius goes:

I know you'd like to thank your shit don't stank
But lean a little bit closer
See that roses really smell like poo-poo-oo-ooo
Yeah, roses really smell like poo-poo-oo-ooo

Now, KROC really goes the extra mile on this one by silencing out the soft "i" sound of the word "shit" here. So, you get this line like "I know you like to thank your sh_t don't stank" as if the average listener can't fill in that easy blank (and I totally didn't mean to just rhyme with "thank" and "stank" right there).

So, there you have it. If you come to Rochester, you can either listen to Led Zeppelin or Outkast while trying to traverse one of 18 million stop lights. It's depressing, really, especially when I spend many of my weekends up in the Cities, where there's a plethora of radio station choice. But then, come Sunday evening, I drive back to Rochester and I lose reception from the Cities almost at the same moment I hit the city limits.

I repeat, best place to live in America MY ASS!

Posted by Ryan at 11:15 AM | Comments (22)

July 12, 2004

Just So You Know

If this happens, I will officially announce my affiliation with the far-leaning Leftists and will renounce any defense I've ever offered up to the Bush Administration.

That is all.

UPDATE: A less knee-jerk reaction can be found here.

UPDATE II: We're now taking votes, apparently, for the best person to act in the role of Dictator Of The United States.

So far, Vin Diesel and The Rock have been postulated, as has J.J. Jameson, from Spiderman 2. As a corollary to that, pornstar Jenna Jameson kinda, sorta got a vote although, personally, I don't think she'd be a very decisive dictator. Finally, we have a vote for William Shatner, which I think would be a bad idea because, as we all know, Shatner would take us to war simply to further enrich his cronies over at Priceline.com.

Myself, I think John Cusack would make a wicked cool dictator, although we shouldn't rule out Kathy Bates because, honestly, the world would be scared crapless if she were dictator.

Any other suggestions?

Posted by Ryan at 10:07 AM | Comments (17)

July 09, 2004

U.N. Gearing Up To Deploy U.S. Election Observers

Global Body To Ensure A Fair Vote, Kerry Victory

NEW YORK (Rhodes Media Services) -- Following a recent request by nine Congressional members asking the U.N. to deploy election observers for the upcoming 2004 Presidential election, the U.N. has sent a specialized group of election observers to oversee the event and ensure the American public gets it right this time.

Arriving at New York's LaGuardia airport today, the first batch of U.N. election observers, armed with the latest in top-of-the-line observing equipment and sporting extra-strong squinting muscles, looked poised and confident that they would succeed where the U.S. voters failed four years before.

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), who spearheaded the push for U.N. involvement, said she felt incredibly relieved that the U.S. election was being overseen by an unelected world body with a storied history of corruption and mishandling of world affairs.

"Four years ago this country experienced a fiasco of an election," said Johnson. "What better body to have observe this year's election than the U.N., which knows all about fiascos. They'll make sure Americans get it right this time. They'll make sure that Kerry wins. . . whoops, I mean, they'll make sure voting rights are secure."

Posted by Ryan at 02:56 PM | Comments (8)

July 08, 2004


Over the weekend, something happened to the transmission of my Cadillac that resulted in my transmission not transmitting that which it's supposed to transmit. In other words, the damn thing wouldn't shift into second gear, meaning that I had to drive home at 35 mph, thus pissing off a multitude of lead-footed motorists.

I like my Caddy. It's probably the smoothest riding vehicle I'll ever own in my life. But, the biggest drawback to owning a Caddy is that, should something break down, it will cost you a buttload of greenbacks to repair. And, of the litany of things that can go wrong with a Caddy, the transmission is probably #2 on the list of things you don't want to fail, with #1 being the engine.

Well, I dropped off my car for repairs on Tuesday, which meant that I had to rely on the repair shop's shuttle service to get me back home. One thing I've noticed about shuttle service drivers is that they tend to be a chatty bunch. You may not know anything about them upon meeting them, but you'll certainly know more than you ever wanted to know after ten minutes or so.

The shuttle service driver I ended up with was a portly gent with a pleasant demeanor, and a propensity for diarrhea of the mouth unmatched by any shuttle driver I've ever encountered. No topic was off limits for this guy.

We started off talking about the weather, which consisted of rain, and then we segued into current events, and then he talked for a time about his family. And, let me tell you, he was not against using a liberal number of expletives to spice up his narratives. It wasn't just raining, it was "a Goddamned fucking downpour." It wasn't just chilly for July, it was "nut-retreating cold outside." And so on. Suffice it to say, I generally liked the guy.

We eventually pulled up in front of my house, and the driver's face scrunched up in the international sign of recognition.

"Hey, I know that house!" he exclaimed.

"Oh yeah?" I said, somewhat surprised.

"Yeah, yeah! Nice couple lived there. They had a daughter. A beautiful thing. Beautiful. . . and easy."

Now, it was the way he said "easy" that threw me off a bit. I mean, he was a bit of an older guy, so he may have meant "easy" as in "easy to get along with," but there was enough hesitation and nostalgic earnest in his voice to indicate that the daughter in question was "easy" in a "buy me McDonald's and I'm yours" sort of way.

"Yup, she was just beautiful and easy," he reiterated. "She got involved with a guy for quite awhile, maybe a couple of years, I can't quite remember. Then it turned out he dicked dogs."

"Excuse me?"

I was taken aback just a little, because I was expecting him to say something along the lines of "he got her knocked up and left her" or something tragic like that, but I was in no way prepared for the story to take the jolting turn of "then it turned out he dicked dogs."

"I actually caught him doing it," he went on. "I drove up an alley one night, and there he was, pants around his ankles, just fucking the hell out of this poor dog. I called the cops straight away. They asked for his name, and when I told them they said 'he's at it again, eh.'"

Now, I have a fairly finely tuned bullshit detector. I can often tell when someone's lying to me or telling me a whopper of a tall tale but, for whatever reason, I couldn't shake the feeling that this guy was giving it to me straight and true. Maybe because it was just too crazy not to be true. I mean, really, who would make up a story about some guy who had a penchant for poodle pumping?

"He'd done it before?" I asked. "He was a repeat offender?"

"Oh, yeah. It was a big story. The daughter went into hiding after that because she was afraid people would think she was somehow involved. They put him away for four or five years if I remember right. Not long enough, if you ask me."

"And, if they'd asked the dog, I'm sure it would have asked for a life sentence," I joked.

We had a good laugh, and then I exited the vehicle and walked into my house.

A couple of hours later, as I sat there watching TV, I remembered that, in the early days of owning the house, I discovered some old dog tags, and a horrifying possibility entered my brain.

"What if. . . ? Nah. He couldn't have. But, what if? What if he screwed the family pooch, right there in front of what is now my entertainment center?"

Sometimes, I think, there is some information that better left unknown.

OH, AND BY THE WAY: James Lileks annihilated Michael Moore today.

Posted by Ryan at 10:32 AM | Comments (19)

July 07, 2004

Comments Welcome

When I started this blog, way back in the Dark Days of Blogger, when my officemate Jen told me about this blogging thing and offered to build me a site, I most definitely asked her to include a comment engine.

It was the narcissist in me. It was the raging egomaniac in me. In short, it was the human being in me. Mostly, I just wanted to know if people were reading and get an idea of what they thought. Basically, I didn't want to do all this navel-gazing literary tripe unless I knew people were reading it.

Now, I've come to value comment threads for entirely different reasons.

There's the community aspect of comments, to be sure. Most people who comment here are folks in the blog realm I've come to know and respect. Comments from those people are kind of like a postcard from a distant acquaintance: nice to get, and it lets you know they're still out there breathing.

The whole Plain Layne fiasco (oh, and Odin's living vicariously through his Layne creation over here, if you're interested) really laid out the community aspect of comments out perfectly. I felt kinda at home in Layne's comment box, like I could kick off my shoes, grab a beer out of the fridge, and yell at the dog for awhile. I got to know the commenters there fairly intimately and, quite frankly, the comment threads over there were 60 percent, if not more, of the entertainment value of that blog. Seriously, if you read about someone falling asleep with a butt plug up their ass, and you couldn't comment about it, wouldn't that just drive you nuts? So, I miss the Plain Layne comment box considerably, and it's kind of weird to see Layne's loyal readers floating around without being able to find a comfortable home quite like we had at Plain Layne.

Then there's the investigative and information-sharing aspect of comments, which could, given the right people on the right scent, put the CIA to shame. Watching the uber-thread unfold on Joshua Norton's blog that picked apart the fraud that was Plain Layne was one fascinating and amazing phenomenon to witness. It was obvious, watching that dissection take place, that comment threads can be an incredibly powerful and useful tool for any number of investigative exercises.

Then, today, at A Small Victory, I read this:

personally, I see in our comments casual evidence of what the polling firms have been saying for some time: that left and right are becoming increasingly entrenched, and by extension, less tolerant and civil in debating opposing viewpoints. This is complicated by another factor: I believe “regulars” come to feel nearly proprietary ownership for the commenting forum, and they’re increasingly less likely to tolerate “outsiders” over time … because of the community blogs can create some come to see it as their sandbox, rather than ours. And if you buy that blogs (especially those with high readership levels) are points of collection for opinion leaders … well, it may be we’re seeing a leading indicator of less civil debate in our classrooms, breakrooms, and political conventions.

That's spot-on true, I think, and it's a big reason why I've backed away from political commentary here. The lines have pretty much been drawn for months now, so I'm either preaching to the choir or raising hackles at the church across the street. So, really, what's the point? In that regard, comments have pretty much lost their usefulness and have devolved into pissing matches that just seem to get both sides all the more angry.

Which is another reason why I miss the Plain Layne comment box so much. At least there, people could disagree and still remain largely civil, and maybe even fire out a limerick on occasion. I wish the tone of political discourse on blogs could be like that exchanged on Plain Layne.

Posted by Ryan at 01:00 PM | Comments (16)

Buy A fucking Winnebago Already

Really, I fucking mean it.

Posted by Ryan at 10:26 AM | Comments (4)

July 02, 2004

Happy 4th Of July


I probably won't be doing much in the way of blogging over the weekend. I have plans to cook out, and camp, and light fireworks, and rollerblade, and just enjoy the long weekend in general.

I suggest you all go do the same. Set aside your political gripes. Celebrate America because, for all its shortcomings, this truly is an amazing country.

Crack a beer. Fly your flags with pride. Go to a parade. Watch fireworks. Light fireworks. Visit your local burn unit. Get a skin graft.

Happy birthday, America. God bless us all.


Posted by Ryan at 01:32 PM | Comments (6)

The Slow Roommate

During my fourth year of college, living in the Shark Shack, I shared a house with four other roomies. They were all decent guys, for the most part, when they weren't blindingly drunk, I mean.

Well, one of the roommates, who went by the nickname "Spoon" (an eating utensil with which he shared roughly the same IQ) routinely offered up examples of why he wasn't doing the human race any favors by gracing it with his presence.

Some examples:

Spoon was a rather selfish guy. In addition to having one of the largest rooms in the house, he also furnished it with some of the loudest stereo equipment this side of Audio King. Unfortunately, my room was right next to his, so it was a common exercise for me to walk into his room and tell him to TURN THAT SHIT DOWN! He never seemed to grasp the enormity of his inconsiderate actions. Spoon did what Spoon wanted to do.

For about the first month or so, Spoon kept his television downstairs in the living room, for use by all the roommates. Then, one day, Spoon up and decided that he wanted his television up in his own room. Imagine our surprise when we sat down to watch the "X-Files" and there was no TV to be found. So, I brought my TV downstairs so we could, once again, have a communal television.

Spoon came bounding down the stairs, and he assessed the situation for awhile, and finally he spoke.

"I thought I brought my TV upstairs," he said.

"Yes, you did," said Rob.

"But, you guys are watching TV," said Spoon.

"Yes, we are," said Craig.

"But, whose TV is that?" asked Spoon.

"That would be mine," I answered.

"Sooooo, you brought your TV downstairs?" asked Spoon in all seriousness.

All heads turned in the direction of Spoon, with not one of us able to fully believe the dialogue that had just transpired.


Another time, Rob, Craig, Troy and myself decided to order some pizzas. So, we dialed up Little Caesar's. Shortly after the pizzas were delivered, as we sat there cramming our faces with greasy goodness, Spoon came home from work.

Spoon stood there for awhile, assessing the situation. He noted the two boxes, clearly marked "Little Caesar's," with the little Roman cartoon dude, and then Spoon spoke.

"You guys ordered up some Dominoes, eh?"

"Yes," answered Troy. "But we decided to put the pizzas in Little Caesar's boxes to confuse you."

"Really? Why?"

All heads turned in the direction of Spoon, with not one of us able to fully believe the dialogue that had just transpired.


One Friday night, Rob went for a beer run. He took down everyone's respective orders, and returned about half an hour later toting several 12 packs. Well, he got Spoon's order wrong, apparently. Instead of Bud Lite, Rob had accidently brought home regular old Budweiser.

Spoon was so upset over the bungled order, he went and punched a wall. Seeing as how the wall consisted of sheetrock, Spoon's fist pretty much went effortlessly through the wall, leaving a Spoon-fist-sized hole for all the world to see.

Spoon was extremely pleased with the result, and the damned hole in the wall was all he could talk about for the next hour or so. Apparently, he thought punching through sheetrock constituted some sort of major masculine accomplishment.

"If you're so damned proud of the hole, why don't you make another one?" I finally said, sick of Spoon's bragging over something so stupid. "You know, why not make it twice the pride?"

I really didn't expect Spoon to take the advice literally, but that's exactly what he did. He ambled on back to the wall, cocked his fist back, and punched at a spot about six inches to the left of the previous hole.

Except, that time around, the moron punched a stud. The sheetrock buckled, but the 2x4 stud steadfastly held its ground, and Spoon's hand basically folded in on itself and made a not-too-quiet popping noise.

At first, Spoon just looked surprised, but in short order he fell to his knees, cradling his hand, letting loose a low gutteral moan that indicated rather substantial pain. He stayed that way for about 20 minutes.

The rest of us watched TV.

Posted by Ryan at 10:34 AM | Comments (5)

July 01, 2004

So, I Have A Problem With This

The top news item on the MSNBC.com Web site right now features the following headline: "In court, Saddam says ‘real criminal is Bush’"

Now, call me old fashioned, but I just find myself thinking that a better, far less biased, headline might read "Saddam Faces Iraqi Court." But, no, the editorial minds at MSNBC.com apparently think the most newsworthy aspect of the whole thing is that Saddam says Bush is the real criminal. I mean, seriously, what did you think Hussein would have to say? Do you think he'd sit there and praise the man who knocked him from power?

Of course, it's in vogue right now to call the Bush administration a bunch of criminals so, apparently, when Saddam Hussein, one of the most vile leaders of the last half century, takes the stand and calls Bush a criminal, well, that's big news.

I mean, see? Even Saddam Hussein is saying it, and Heaven knows that the only reason Saddam is facing a court full of Iraqis he's oppressed over the past three decades is because Bush went and pursued a war deemed illegal by a U.N. organization that had a vested interest in keeping Saddam in power and, as such, there was no way in holy hell that any action would have been taken against Saddam under the U.N.'s watch. So, there you have it. Bush is the criminal. Saddam's the victim.

Is this how screwed up the collective minds in the media have become?

Poor, poor Saddam.

Posted by Ryan at 12:51 PM | Comments (17)
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