December 29, 2006

Continued Vote Whoring

The voting will continue for a couple more days. Yossarian's third entry has the best shot of me winning, although I'm falling further behind the dastardly LearnedFoot to a point I'm not sure I can recover. If you'd all be so kind as to vote for Yossarian's third entry, you'll have that much more of a chance of getting into heaven.

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

It Was Only a Matter of Time

Earlier this week, Minnesota's largest--and arguably the nation's most biased--newspaper, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, was sold for $530 million dollars. When one considers that it was purchased in 1998 for $1.2 billion, we're talking about a considerable price cut. A fire sale, if you will.

When I first read the news, I thought to myself: "It will be less than a week before Nick Coleman whines about this."

Well, whadyaknow?

When the McClatchy Co. got the keys to the Star Tribune in 1998, McClatchy's patriarch hailed the merger. James McClatchy called it a wedding of two newspaper traditions that shared "a deep-rooted commitment to building a just society."

Yes, because we all know it's the responsibility of the press to "build a just society," rather than, say, reporting news and events. I'm sure the idea of "building a just society" were jingle-bells to Nick Coleman's ears, a man who determined 30 years ago society was just sick and wrong about everything.

You now are permitted to laugh derisively.

At who? At Nick Coleman? Believe me, I've been doing that for years now.

Eight years later, hardly anyone in the newspaper business talks about anything other than building profit margins that would choke a robber baron.

Why can't newspapers operate at a loss? In the name of building a just society, can't profits be put on hold? Can't the state come in an fund newspapers so they can operate without the nasty specter of having to remain profitable?

Mercifully, Mr. McClatchy passed away in May and did not live to see the Sacramento-based company that bore his name disgrace his legacy by dumping its largest newspaper -- the most important one between Chicago and the West Coast, the one that serves 5 million Minnesotans and that can be a conscience, a scold, a cheerleader and an interpreter of life on the tundra.

Sweet merciful crap! Nick Coleman holds the Strib in far higher esteem than a lot of people. In Nick's mind, the Strib only pales in importance behind God, and only just barely behind at that. The most important newspaper between Chicago and the West Coast? Is that the bubble Nick's been living in? How amazingly, frighteningly sad. Although, it DOES explain a lot. I know I love a newspaper that acts a conscience and a scold. There's nothing I like more than a newspaper that deems itself my Mommy.

On the day after Christmas, the McClatchy Co. took the Star Tribune to the return window and sold us to a company that removes medical wastes, drills for oil and (quoting its website) "operates four off-shore jack-ups, three mobile off-shore production units and one self-propelled completion and work over rig" in the Gulf of Mexico. Not to mention a newspaper in flyoverland.

Oh, the horror! A company that removes medical wastes! As if medical waste just somehow should be able to remove itself. And OIL! That evil black blood of the earth! It's funny how outraged Coleman is about a company that deals in oil, but he seemed fine when the Strib was owned by a company that basically dealt in the pulpified medium of dead trees. It's simply delicious to see Coleman in such an absolute conniption fit. Oh, and please note how the most important newspaper this side of Chicago is now just a newspaper in flyoverland.

Maybe we're an on-shore jack-up.

There's that quality Nick Coleman humor we've grown to know and love. Cue the laugh track.

You are what you eat. So when McClatchy swallowed the larger Knight Ridder newspaper chain last spring, a lot of people worried that the $6.1 billion deal would spell trouble in the Twin Cities.

By "a lot of people," Nick means the employees of the Star-Tribune. Pretty much everyone outside of those doors PROBABLY didn't give a shit.

Both newspapers here were in play: the Star Tribune, as the "flagship" of McClatchy, and the Pioneer Press (where I worked for 17 years) as one of the Ridder heritage newspapers.

We were right to worry.

Again, "We" being the Star-Tribune. As for the worry of everyone else. . . not so much.

First, McClatchy sold the Pioneer Press to MediaNews Group. Staff reductions followed, with threats of more to come.

Now McClatchy has dumped the Star Tribune.

And now, I, Nick Coleman, am crap-in-my-pants terrified that my woefully crappy body of lifetime work may actually be scrutinized and identified for what it is: pure, steaming, crap. I may have to actually think for a change and attempt to write something that doesn't read like a self-parody. OR I MIGHT GET FIRED!

While the outcome of all this cutthroat gambling is unclear, there are two possibilities:

1) A private equity firm with no newspaper experience will show the newspaper industry how to save itself.

Which I, Nick Coleman, completely doubt because a medical waste and oil company will carve out my still-beating heart and try to find a way to make oil out of it.


2) A privateer thinks the Star Tribune, with 2,000-plus workers, is ripe for plucking and pillaging.

Did I mention that I, Nick Coleman, am one of those 2,000-plus workers, and am arguably the most important? And oh my God I just shit my pants.

I hope it was the first option that attracted Avista Capital Partners to add us to its fleet of oil rigs.

Oh. . . just. . . ugh.

But one thing is clear: A newspaper company abandoned its employees and readers, for profit, not principle.

A of all, the Strib was dropped for over HALF what it was purchased for almost a decade ago. Making a profit = DOES NOT COMPUTE. B of all, when was the last time, do you think, a company board got together to talk about principle? How much of the stock market is guided by principle?

McClatchy leaves Minnesota's newspapers weakened and in the hands of companies with no local ties.

Damn you, McClatchy! Damn you all to HELLLLLLL! Has the Pioneer Press really been "weakened?" As for the Strib, if a newspaper basically sells for peanuts, doesn't that indicate an pre-existing status of "weakness?"

And with its departure, McClatchy is taking away important resources that a newspaper chain provides, resources that help each newspaper in the chain serve readers.

Such as paying Nick Coleman, for example, which has been such an invaluable service.

Here is some of what is going away: the Star Tribune Foundation, which has funded nonprofit groups in the Twin Cities for decades;

One of those cornerstone responsibilities of a free press. I know they dedicated an entire semester to teaching the importance of funding non-profit groups back in college. Oh, wait, no they didn't.

and the Washington bureau and foreign correspondents, including those in Iraq. They'll still be working, but not for the Star Tribune. Also disappearing: the pooled financial resources a chain can use to gather news and resist the fickle winds of market forces.

Hey, Nick: I'm pretty sure you'll still have access to AP and Reuter's news feeds. You should be just fine. But, don't let that get in the way of a classic Nick Coleman whine-fest.

Despite lip service to the cause of quality journalism, in the end McClatchy folded like a cheap lawn chair under a steady gale of Wall Street demands.

Again, to the tune of a loss of over a half a billion dollars. At some point, even the most strident believers of "quality journalism" *stifled laugh* have to look at their financial situation and say "wow, we're really taking a bath on this one," and unload a stinker.

When it bought the Star Tribune in 1998, McClatchy was a second-tier chain that had 10 dailies and a profit margin of 13 percent.

Today, after buying its way into a far better club by using the Star Tribune for leverage, McClatchy has 32 papers and a profit margin of 26 percent.

But I was going to Toshi station to pick up some power converters!

But 26 ain't enough. It would be higher if not for the Star Tribune, which earns only about 19 percent, though its revenue has declined over the past year or so. That's still good for a newspaper its size, and two or three times the margin demanded 20 years ago. But it ain't enough. So McClatchy punted.

Two "ain't enoughs" in one paragraph. That must be a record for a newspaper column. Call Guinness. Sure, their revenue has declined over the past year or so, but that still good.

Which shows that the McClatchy Co. lost more than a patriarch when James McClatchy died. It lost its compass.

McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt did not bother to come to Minneapolis on Tuesday to say he surreptitiously had sold the paper and to kiss us goodbye.

Yeah, because that's what CEOs are supposed to do.

But McClatchy brass gave us some nice parting gifts from afar, complaining that the Star Tribune had lost value (and proving it in a secret auction at fire-sale prices), calling the flagship a drag on profits and saying McClatchy would have shown a one-percent increase in ad sales if the Star Tribune weren't included. One percent! Huzzah! Sound the trumpets!

Funny how Nick focuses on the one percent increase in ad sales while glossing over the earlier mentions of "lost value," "a drag on profits," and the fact the Strib sold for over HALF less than it did almost a decade ago. Gosh, it almost seems like there was quite a bit more going on than simply the one-percent thing Nick gloms onto.

There's the market for you: The Star Tribune held down ad sales one percent. So One-Percent Pruitt axed his best newspaper. Brilliant.

Obviously, it wasn't his best newspaper. B-b-b-b-but, a CEO wouldn't say one thing and do another, right? There are those of us who deal with corporate BS on practically a daily basis and recognize it for exactly what it is. I can't remember the last time I trusted the word of someone two steps above me. It comes as a suprise to Nick though. Imagine that.

"The Star Tribune is one of the best newspapers in this country," Pruitt said in 1998. "The Twin Cities is one of the most attractive newspaper markets in the country. And it was a near-perfect fit in terms of values and traditions."

Hey, I recognize that paragraph! That's called marketing PR! I write stuff like that! God it sounds good! It's feel-good BS! Funny Coleman didn't recognize it.

We didn't change. But you, Mr. Pruitt? We don't recognize you anymore. So long.

Maybe the problem was that "you didn't change," Nick. You've been complaining about every newfangled technology that's given a voice to anyone who isn't yourself. Your newspaper defends plagiarism, is hopelessly biased, features routine lazy reporting, and continues to run your drivel practically un-edited. Perhaps a change would do you some real good.

Don't bother to write.

Mainly because Nick probably won't be available at his Strib address for much longer. Hmmm?

Posted by Ryan at 10:51 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 28, 2006

Meme's The Word

Via Mitch, a mindless meme:

1. Was 2006 a good year for you?

On a personal level, yes, a very good year. On a professional level, being a managing editor for two magazines has been a stress roller-coaster I can't wait to be done with.

2. What was your favorite moment(s) of the year?

Vacationing in Tokyo in April. Earning my blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Deciding to get married sometime in 2008

3. What was your least favorite moment(s) of the year?

Having to take on a second magazine. Moving my girlfriend's dad's boyfriend from the Cities.

4. What did you do in 2006 that you’d never done before?

Earned my blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Decided to get married sometime in 2008. Moved my girlfriend's dad's boyfriend from the Cities.

5. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don't do resolutions. I have a hazy idea of what I'd like to accomplish and where I'd like to be, but no real plan for achieving either.

6. Where were you when 2006 began?

At a friend's house.

7. Who were you with?

My girlfriend and several friends.

8. Where will you be when 2006 ends?

At a friend's house.

9. Who will you be with when 2006 ends?

My girlfriend and several friends.

10. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Proximity-wise: no. My girlfriend's sister is slated to go into labor on or around the 31st of this month, and my girlfriend's the lamaze coach, so that proximity thing could actually go south, should my luck fail somehow.

11. Did you lose anybody close to you in 2006?


12. Who did you miss?


13. Who was the best new person you met in 2006?

The Rhodes don't play favorites with his acquaintances.

14. What was your favorite month of 2006?

I think September.

15. Did you travel outside of the US in 2006?

Yes. Tokyo, Japan for about a week.

16. How many different states did you travel to in 2006?

Oh, brother. Iowa, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Washington, Maryland, Nevada (twice), New York. Illinois.

17. What would you like to have in 2007 that you lacked in 2006?

A sense of job security.

18. What date from 2006 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Not sure on the date, but when my mom asked me to buy her lotion and panties, that's gonna be with me for awhile.

19. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Attaining my blue belt.

20. What was your biggest failure?

To land a job at the Mayo Clinic. Not a failure so much as a recurring disappointment.

21. Did you suffer illness or injury?

A broken toe, and that's about it, except for the usual flu and cold knock-downs.

22. What was the best thing you bought?

An entertainment center.

23. Whose behavior merited celebration?

I have no idea.

24. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Not sure, although I know MY BEHAVIOR has appalled and depressed many.

25. Where did most of your money go?

My mortgage, utilities, and a new central air conditioning unit.

26. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

My trip to Tokyo.

27. Did you drink a lot of alcohol in 2006?

Define "a lot." I would have to say a drinking night every other weekend or so, with the occasional tipsy evening of Monday Night Football. Usually a beer or two on the nights the girl and I went out to eat.

28. Did you do a lot of drugs in 2006?

Nope. My body's a temple. A temple to Bacchus!

29. Did you treat somebody badly in 2006?

Not that I know of.

30. Did somebody treat you badly in 2006?


31. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. happier or sadder? - Happier. I'm a happy machine!
ii. thinner or fatter? - Pretty much the same, with maybe a little more muscle, particularly around the neck.
iii. richer or poorer? - A little richer. Although, I wouldn't call it "rich."

32. What do you wish you’d done more of in 2006?

More travel.

33. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Stressing about work. Watching television.

34. Did you fall in love in 2006?

Just more with my girlfriend, and with myself, of course.

35. What was your favorite TV program(s)?

Big Love. Weeds. Oh, and I'm majorly gearing up for the second season of Rome! But that's in 2007, so nevermind.

36. What song will always remind you of 2006?

That one about some sort of black horse and a cherry tree.

37. How many concerts did you see in 2006?


38. Did you have a favorite concert in 2006?

What part of "None" don't you understand?

39. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I discovered that 99.999999 percent of Hip-Hop continues to suck.

40. What was the best book you read?

I read the entire Harry Potter series up to this point, which was very, very good. I'm hooked. Also enjoyed "Memoirs of a Geisha," "The Kite Runner," and "Princess Orchid."

41. What was your favorite film of this year?

Little Miss Sunshine. Hands down.

42. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Ate at a Japanese steakhouse as I absorbed the reality of being 31.

43. What did you want and get?

New shoes.

44. What did you want and not get?


45. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Salma Hayek.

46. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2006?

Levis jeans and assorted decent looking shirts.

47. What kept you sane?

Who says I'm sane?

48. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Salma Hayek.

49. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2006.

No matter how much you have built up in your savings account, you can imagine 12,000 simultaneous disaster scenarios that could wipe it out in under 30 seconds, thus making it almost impossible to actually spend any of it, on anything.

50. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

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.

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.

Posted by Ryan at 03:35 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 27, 2006

Rock The Vote!

And vote for Yossarian's 3rd entry, dammit.

I'd like to win SOMETHING this year.

UPDATE: Oh, yeah. . . PLEASE.

Posted by Ryan at 09:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Gift That Won't Give

Without revealing the dollar amount I received in the form of a Christmas bonus this year, I'll simply say it was a nice chunk of change. Okay, it didn't come in the form of a chunk of change, which would be unweildy and inconvenient. Rather, it came in the form of a Wells Fargo gift card.

We received similar gift cards last year, by and large they worked pretty well. Oh, sure, there were some retailers that had trouble processing the card, but for the most part it worked just fine, until I got down to a 38 cent balance, at which point the card was basically useless.

Well, this year's gift card was pretty much spent, at least mentally, before I even had it in hand. This being the Holiday season, I had my Christmas bonus largely earmarked for gift purchasing.

Now, the primary purchase I had slated for the gift card was a stationary exercise cycle for my girlfriend. It is not a particularly cheap item, so we waited until after Christmas to buy it, as it went on sale for two short days.

On the first short day, I went to Sears to purchase the exercise cycle using my gift card. And things seemed to be going quite well at first. The current model of monetary exchange for goods and services was clicking along as expected.

Then, just as I was about to sign the receipt for $427, my girlfriend noticed a coupon for $5 off. Now, this being a large purchase, $5 didn't strike me as being much of a discount, but whenever my girlfriend gets it in her head that she can save money on something, she's kind of tenacious. Still, I hesitated.

I hesitated because I knew that, in order to get that $5 discount, the Sears salesperson would have to reverse the previous sale, and then re-ring the sale at $422. It was the reversal of the previous sale that had me worried. My experience with the gift card from last year told me that--while gift cards are great for deducting money--they tend to hiccup when it comes to putting money BACK IN. I'm not sure what the reason is for this deficiency, but it can be a most irritating drawback.

So, even though the reversal showed as successful on Sears' end, I had dark suspicions that I was still down $427 in my gift card balance. Sure enough, when the Sears salesperson tried to ring up the exercise cycle again, the message that came back indicated insufficient funds. So, we left without the exercise bike, hoping that the reversal would just take some time to take effect and that we'd be back to try again the next day.

Well, here it is the next day, and my balance is still down $427, and I'm starting to get a little nervous here.

Posted by Ryan at 02:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 26, 2006

Movie Review

Yesterday, which would be Christmas, Melissa and I went to a local movie theater which happened to be open and watched "The Pursuit of Happyness."

Overall, a decent movie. It laid on the whole "pursuing happiness" angle a bit too thick (but then, it IS the title), and the Rubik's cube thing was a tad overdone, but whatever. As I said, overall, a decent movie. That said:

So, when the main character realizes that maybe, just MAYBE, his bone density machines aren't selling like medical hotcakes, maybe, JUST MAYBE, he should have been working another job LIKE HIS WIFE WAS. I mean, he could have still gone out selling his useless machine on Saturdays, while working at the local Pamida. Just a thought.

Second, how sweet is it for brokerage firms to be able to leverage, in essence, slave labor for six months? Bring in 20 applicants for a six month course, don't pay them, and waggle a carrot that ONE OF THEM will be selected to be a broker. In that six months, you have free labor basically making your firm money. Sweet scam if you can pull it off. Maybe I was missing something, but that pretty much seemed like what was going on.

Anyway, decent movie, overall.

Posted by Ryan at 10:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I'd Rather Be


Posted by Ryan at 09:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 22, 2006

My Interview With Jamil Hussein

Proving Time correct, that we lowly denizens of the Internet are worthy of Person of the Year status, I, Ryan Rhodes, have been able to do the impossible. I have managed to secure a face-to-face, sit down, chew the fat interview with the reclusive Hussein">JAMIL Hussein. Jamil's a dashing figure, a rugged Iraqi with a square jaw and a scarred face, the result of numerous altercations with the enemy. He takes his coffee strong, his women loose and his pistol of choice is the .50 calibre Desert Eagle. So, without further delay, here's my interview with Jamil Hussein.

ME: Jamil, I can't thank you enough for speaking with me today.

JAMIL Hussein: . . .

ME: A man of few words! I can appreciate that. How have you been over the past several weeks?

JAMIL Hussein: . . .

ME: ASTOUNDING! I can't believe you escaped with your life! Please, tell me more!

JAMIL Hussein: . . .

ME: And you were able to swim the length of the Euphrates unscathed?! REMARKABLE! For those of you just tuning in, I'm speaking with Jamil Hussein, a captain with the Iraqi police. He's been regaling me with tales of his bravery and courage. Please, Mr. Hussein, continue telling me about how you took on a contingent of 500 insurgents intent on burning every mosque they encountered.

JAMIL Hussein: . . .


JAMIL Hussein: . . .

ME: I can barely fucking believe it!

JAMIL Hussein: . . .

ME: Now you're just pulling a ThunderJournalist's leg.

JAMIL Hussein: . . .

ME: Seriously? I can't believe we're not hearing more about that!

JAMIL Hussein: . . .

ME: Please, stop for just a second so I can catch my breath. You've honestly taken my breath away.

JAMIL Hussein: . . .


JAMIL Hussein: . . .

ME: Please. . . stop. . . I'm on the verge. . . of passing out. . . from disbelief.

JAMIL Hussein: . . .

ME: . . .

JAMIL Hussein: . . .

ME: . . .

JAMIL Hussein: . . .

ME: . . .

JAMIL Hussein: . . .

ME: . . .

JAMIL Hussein: . . .

ME: . . .

Posted by Ryan at 11:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 21, 2006

Will They Ever Really Get It?

Okay, I'll be among the first to admit Time Magazine's pronouncement of EVERYONE as its Person of the Year was pretty much the dumbest thing this side of Britney Spears. But, like most extraordinarily dumb things, it should have simply been acknowledged with a slight nod and then stepped around, like dog poop on a sidewalk.

But, then there are people who just INSIST on stepping in it. And then dancing around in it. And then smearing it on their cheeks and forehead and doing a blackface routine.

George F. Will : A mirror that reflects poorly on self-obsession
Time's Person of the Year is "you" for largely unserious work on the Web.
By George F. Will, Washington Post

Here we go again. ANOTHER jab at bloggers and ThunderJournalists by an overly self-important media "professional," bemoaning the lack of seriousness on the Web. Ugh, I suppose I should get started with the fisking. *snaps on rubber gloves*

WASHINGTON - Time magazine asked a large number of people to name the Person of the Year. They were in a populist mood and named the largest possible number of Persons of the Year: Everybody.

As I said, it was a dumb choice. But, please, let's move on. Avoid the dog poop.

The most capacious modern entitlement is not to Social Security but to self-esteem. So Time's cover features a mirror-like panel. The reader -- but why bother to read the magazine when merely gazing at its cover gives intense gratification? -- can gaze at the reflection of his or her favorite person. Narcissism is news? Evidently.


Dear George Will: the day I flip through a newspaper, or surf the Web, or watch network/cable news and I DON'T see something about Britney Spears, or Lindsay Lohan's pussy flash, or a microscopic image of one of Paris Hilton's crabs, or how colon-obsessed Katie Couric is the anchor for CBS news, then and ONLY THEN can you whine and complain about narcissism being news.

To the person looking at his reflection, Time's cover announces, congratulations: "You control the Information Age." By "control" Time means only that everyone is created equal -- equally entitled to create content for the World Wide Web, which is controlled by neither law nor taste.

Wait. Wait. Soooooo, is George Will actually saying the Internet should be governed by law and taste? Because, if he is, George Will can get down and suck my cock. What? Was that in bad taste? Well, I don't care. I've been ThunderJournaling now for almost five years, and I'm not about to start doing so in good taste. It's called free speech/press freedom, and it's rather odd how so many in the media profession seem to forget that (or at least seem to want to suppress it when it's not just extended to themselves).

Richard Stengel, Time's managing editor, says, "Thomas Paine was in effect the first blogger" and "Ben Franklin was essentially loading his persona into the MySpace of the 18th century, 'Poor Richard's Almanack.' " Not exactly.

Franklin's extraordinary persona informed what he wrote but was not the subject of what he wrote. Paine was perhaps history's most consequential pamphleteer. There are expected to be 100 million bloggers worldwide by the middle of 2007, which is why none will be like Franklin or Paine. Both were geniuses; genius is scarce. Both had a revolutionary civic purpose, which they accomplished by amazing exertions. Most bloggers have the private purpose of expressing themselves, for their own satisfaction. There is nothing wrong with that, but nothing demanding or especially admirable, either.

Maybe not as a whole. There are plenty of bloggers and MySpacers who just plain suck and have an over-inflated opinion of their own self-importance/appearance/sexiness/intelligence/everything. But, so what? Those people are usually largely ignored anyway. But, there are plenty of Web slingers out there who DO have something interesting to say, and there are some who DO perform demanding tasks, often at great personal risk, probably moreso than George Will has ever in his entire life experienced. So, George? Go eat a cock.

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 76 percent of bloggers say one reason they blog is to document personal experiences and share them with others. And 37 percent -- soon, 37 million -- say the primary topic of their blog is "my life and experiences." George III would have preferred dealing with 100 million bloggers rather than one Paine.

Oh, SNAP! What is the deal with people who hate on Web journals? Maybe George Will reads "The Diary of Anne Frank," and thinks "This is nothing but adolescent, mastabatory twaddle." I mean, where are all the chastising editorials of the past and present railing against people keeping diaries and journals under their mattresses? There's something about people actually having their thoughts and musing out there for public consumption that seems to rub "professionals" the wrong way. And I can't for the life of me figure out what the hell their problem is.

Stengel says that bloggers and people who upload videos onto YouTube (65,000 new videos a day; 100 million watched each day) are bringing "events" to us in ways that are often more "authentic" than the services of traditional media. But authenticity is of no inherent value if it is simply and necessarily the attribute of any bit of reality ("event") captured on video.

Unless, you know, there are people who decide otherwise. I'm sure there are plenty of people who think the Darth Vader YouTube video I posted awhile back isn't funny or of value in the least. But, you know what? I THINK IT'S FUNNY, and I THINK IT HAS VALUE, so I'm damned glad it was created and available for general online consumption. Traditional media can go eat a cock.

Time's Lev Grossman writes that "an explosion of productivity and innovation" is underway as "millions of minds that would otherwise have drowned in obscurity" become participants in "the global intellectual economy." Grossman continues:

"Who actually sits down after a long day at work and says, I'm not going to watch 'Lost' tonight. I'm going to turn on my computer and make a movie starring my pet iguana? I'm going to mash up 50 Cent's vocals with Queen's instrumentals? I'm going to blog about my state of mind or the state of the union or the steak- frites at the new bistro down the street? Who has that time and that energy and that passion?

"The answer is, you do. And for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, Time's Person of the Year for 2006 is you."

You gotta love how a "traditional" media representative like George Will can recycle three paragraphs from Time Magazine and get paid for it. It must be a great gig if you can get it. In fact, it's probably something you'd want to protect, through railing editorials like. . . this one. Hmmmm.

I'm sure you've been waiting for the obligatory rant against the lack of Web oversight. You've been wondering "when is George Will going to complain that the online world isn't overseen by 'professional' overseers?" Well. . .

There are, however, essentially no reins on the Web -- few means of control and direction. That is good, but vitiates the idea that the Web's chaos of entertainment, solipsism and occasional intellectual seriousness and civic engagement is anything like a "digital democracy."

In other words: "This is good, BUT IT ISN'T, and now I'm going to use a bunch of big words to say as much in a longer way."

Time's issue includes an unenthralled essay by NBC's Brian Williams, who believes that raptures over the Web's egalitarianism arise from the same impulse that causes today's youth soccer programs to award trophies -- "bedrooms full" -- to any kid who shows up: "The danger just might be that we miss the next great book or the next great idea, or that we will fail to meet the next great challenge ... because we are too busy celebrating ourselves and listening to the same tune we already know by heart."

Yeah, that coming from BRIAN WILLIAMS. His ego is singlehandedly responsible for keeping the moon in orbit. I'm going to edit his quote to show what he REALLY meant: "The danger just might be that we miss the next great book written by me or my next great idea, or that we will fail to meet the next great challenge, like tuning in to NBC news ... because we are too busy celebrating ourselves, rather than me, and listening to the same tune we already know by heart, rather than noticing me"

What's perplexing is, after quoting Brian Williams, George Will basically admits Williams is a dolt, which begs the question: What the hell is George Will's point?

The fact that Stengel included Williams' essay proves that Stengel's Time has what 99.9 percent of the Web's content lacks: seriousness.

There you go, ladies and gentlemen! The Web lacks seriousness! There's a lack of seriousness on the Web! A Dick in a Box isnt' serious enough for George Will! People shouldn't have a Web presence unless they're serious. You know, like George Will, who's very serious.

George F. Will's column is distributed by the Washington Post Writers Group.

George Will can seriously eat a cock. I'm serious.

Posted by Ryan at 11:59 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Tis The Season

I don't care if this is old news. It's still about the coolest holiday light show conceived by a person living in a split level.

Posted by Ryan at 11:57 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 20, 2006

Gift Ideas

How about a dick in a box?

Posted by Ryan at 12:59 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Attention Rochester, MN Residents

Dear Rochester, MN residents:

Your taste buds suck. Your taste in food sucks. You wouldn't know a good meal if it crammed itself down your throat and shot out of your ass like a cannon ball.

Honest to God, I can't understand it. How I can sit in the Phnom Penh Restaurant--which offers the best Asian cuisine in about a 100 mile radius--with practically no one else in the place, while "The Ranch" next door is packed, is beyond me. It's a frickin' travesty.

Listen, people, by which I mean Rochester residents: wake the hell up already. Start eating at India Garden and Phnom Penh and Pho Hoa, before those heavenly eateries are forced to close up shop because you think steak and potatoes are God's gift to dinner. Don't get me wrong, steak and potatoes have their place. I even eat them, from time to time. But, every time you eat at "The Ranch," or "Perkin's," or "Applebees," or "TGI Fridays," or whatever the hell run-of-the-mill poop-hole you frequent, you're denying yourself some of the true culinary delights this bland frickin' city actually has the good fortune to have (however briefly).

Until I see Phnom Penh packed to the rafters with hungry patrons, I'm going to continue to rally in support of the DM&E upgrade. Because, frankly, if Phnom Penh has to close its doors, there's nothing I think this city deserves more than a dozen or so coal trains rammed up its ass on a daily frickin' basis.

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

December 19, 2006

A Snooper's Christmas

There was a time, in my more youthful youth, when I was prone to snoop around for Christmas gifts. I simply couldn't resist the allure of the "Great Annual Gift Snoop."

Part of the allure of the "Great Annual Gift Snoop" was passed on to me by my brother, who often employed me as a lookout while he snooped. I was an eager student of the snooping craft, so I watched my brother carefully, determined to develop and improve upon his snooping skills.

By the time my brother had lost interest in the "Great Annual Gift Snoop," I had become frightfully gifted at snooping. Man, oh man, could I snoop. I knew ALL the best hiding places for gifts in the house. There wasn't a hiding spot utilized by my parents I didn’t know about. I knew under their bed was the preferred gift sequestering locale. I knew all my mother's tricks, like trying to hide gifts behind boxes and blankets. I could avoid detection better than the stealthiest of stealth aircraft. I was the Snoop Ninja of my generation.

My snooping went far beyond mere gift locating skills. I learned to ask my parents leading questions, or generally just say things that would prompt them to accidentally reveal some aspect of their gift. For example, I would say something like "I've been thinking about buying a Boba Fett Star Wars action figure." If my mother responded with something telling, like "why don’t you wait until after Christmas," oh, I KNEW.

I also became amazingly adept at peeling back tape from wrapping paper, so I could undo gift corners to get a peek at the treasures hidden beneath. I actually went so far as to build "forts" out of the presents that weren’t mine, so my parents couldn’t see me within my fort, conducting meticulous gift autopsies on those presents bearing my name.

At some point, I think my mother realized I had become snooper-ific, because she would occasionally wrap my gifts twice, which made it virtually impossible for me snoop without leaving tell-tale signs. I probably could have figured a way around that newfangled anti-snooping measure, but it was at around that time that the snooping bug started to diminish. By the time I was 12 years old, snooping simply didn't hold that much interest for me.

As with any great skill honed to perfection, however, I've never really been able to give up snooping entirely. I even find myself unconsciously snooping to this very day, which drives my girlfriend absolutely crazy. Earlier this month, for example, I noticed she was using a different cellular phone, but when I asked her about it, she became all defensive. Curious, I went online to find out more about the phone she wouldn’t let me look at. It was then I noticed a cellular phone plan that featured TWO phones for a slightly increased monthly rate. Imagine her irritation when I went and stood in front of the Christmas tree, looking down at the presents.

"What are you looking at?" she asked.

"I’m just trying to figure out which one of these has my new cell phone in it."

To say she was upset with me would be a severe understatement.

Then, last weekend, my girlfriend and I were at the local mall. After about an hour of shopping, I decided I wanted to go to a store to look at leather jackets. In particular, I wanted to see if they still had the one in stock I had my eye on about a month earlier. Since I was in a spending mood, I figured I may as well treat myself to that jacket.

"You should wait until after Christmas," Melissa suggested. "It'll probably cost less."

Now, there was some logic and sense to such reasoning, but little silver bells from Christmases past started jingling in my mind, and I realized I’d heard words very similar to those just spoken many, many snooping years ago.

"You bought me that jacket for Christmas, didn’t you?" I asked, not really thinking about it.

Now, as I said, I wasn’t really thinking about what I was saying. I didn’t MEAN for it to bother her, but boy howdy, was she bothered.

"You just had to go shopping for yourself!" she said. "You can never go shopping and not think about buying something for yourself, can you? You just had to spoil the surprise!"

Although there may be some truth to the accusation I can’t go shopping without thinking about myself, I steadfastly denied my intent was in any way meant to spoil any surprises. If there's one think that I hate spoiling, it’s a surprise.

In the end, she forgave me for my accidental snooping, and I agreed to be surprised, no matter what I may or may not have guessed. It’s Christmas, after all.

And I hope you have a merry one.

Posted by Ryan at 03:55 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Feeling Blue

After a year-and-a-half of training, and a marathon 3 hour, 12 minute promotion test on Saturday, I now have a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

I'm radiating pride beams, let me tell you.

Now I just have to train six or so years before I see a purple belt.

Posted by Ryan at 10:14 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 18, 2006


Via Mitch, I learned that I, too, made Time magazine's "Person of the Year!"

Gosh I'm great.

And so are you.

Posted by Ryan at 10:00 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 15, 2006

The Crickets, They Chirp Loudly

I haven't gleefully torn into the journalistic buffoonery that is Nick Coleman's lifetime collection of written "works" in some time. But seriously, who can blame me, when the man drops humorless butt nuggets like this that are so cringingly bad, it's enough to make you yawn wide enough to swallow your own face.

Honest to God, I couldn't read any one of his "jokes," without thinking about a packed room of silent people, with the only sound being a sole cough coming from the back of the gallery.

What it must feel like to have free reign to suck as bad as Nick does? It must be an incredibly empowering feeling.

Posted by Ryan at 02:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

In Case You're Wondering

Yes, it's been a bad week for my ThunderJournal, at least as far as providing content goes. I would apologize for that, but since my ThunderJournal makes up about 0.00000000000000 percent of my personal income, I therefore don't always feel obligated to post another rumination about my latest bowel movement, although the temptation is most certainly there.

I'll get back in the ThunderJournal groove soon.

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

December 13, 2006

What did the world do before YouTube?

Certainly not this!

Shit that's funny!

Posted by Ryan at 11:23 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 12, 2006

Noted In Passing

1.) It's very difficult to cut a country fried steak with a plastic fork.

2.) Steamed broccoli + parmesan cheese = Yum.

3.) It's very difficult to butter a dinner roll with a plastic fork.

4.) Whatever the hell that gravy they slathered over the country fried steak = Yum.

Posted by Ryan at 02:02 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 11, 2006

Because it's a ThunderJournal Tradition

I think I've linked to this around Christmas going back to 2003, so it's officially a tradition. An insensitive tradition? Perhaps, but I'm not known for my sensitivity.

Posted by Ryan at 03:32 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 08, 2006

Okay. . .

THIS is funny!

Posted by Ryan at 11:34 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

This post won't mean much to most of you, but. . .

The next time you encounter one of the very many worthless Blogspot blogs that cram the Internet today--the kind of blog that comes across as adolescent (moreso than mine, even), poorly thought-out, petulant, vaguely prepubescent, high pitched, pointless, tauntingly angry, stereotypical, and basically across-the-board stupid--and you think to yourself "I wonder what this moron looks like," I have it on pretty solid authority that 99.99 percent of those bloggers pretty much look like this:


That is all.

Posted by Ryan at 03:28 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

December 07, 2006

Holiday Spirit

Just because I'm a sucker for Christmas.

Posted by Ryan at 10:32 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

And the Moral of This Video Is. . .

It's easier to hug someone who looks like Jesus.


Posted by Ryan at 10:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 05, 2006

Hey, A PhotoShop Contest!

And it's not even about my ass. Well, not DIRECTLY.

Posted by Ryan at 08:43 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Overheard Whilst On The toilet

ME: *plop* *poot* *tut-tut-tut-tut-tut* *fweeeeeee*

URINAL PERSON #1 (UP1): *pee sounds*

URINAL PERSON #2 (UP2): *pee sounds*

UP1: How goes it today?

UP2: Oh, you know. . . it goes.

UP1: Better'n not goin', right?

UP2: Yes sir.

UP1: Looks like somebody decided to spit on the urinal.

UP2: Yup. Look at that.

UP1: That's pretty gross.

UP2: Really no excuse for that.

UP1: Just a big old loogey there. That's sick.

UP2: Yep.

UP1 and UP2 finish peeing and exit, without either A) Flushing or B) Washing their hands.

Posted by Ryan at 03:38 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Ignore That 800 lb Gorilla in the Corner

On the plane ride to Vegas, I read this article in Time magazine: "Why We Worry About The Things We Shouldn't... ...And Ignore The Things We Should." Basically, it tries to explain why we worry about things that probably won't kill us, like, say, Bird Flu, or Mad Cow Disease, or plane crashes, and ignore the real "risks," like driving.

And, oh how the article finds reasons. Reasons after reasons, including: Part of the problem we have with evaluating risk, scientists say, is that we're moving through the modern world with what is, in many respects, a prehistoric brain. We may think we've grown accustomed to living in a predator-free environment in which most of the dangers of the wild have been driven away or fenced off, but our central nervous system--evolving at a glacial pace--hasn't got the message.

Which, you know what? Fine. I'll give them that as a possibility. Okay. But you know what? In that entire article, that entire article meant to explore why people worry about the things they do, one thing was never mentioned. Hell, it wasn't even hinted at. And, in my mind, it's probably about the biggest, most obvious reason in the world for why people excessively worry about stupid shit that probably won't kill you. Can you think of what I'm referring to?

THE MEDIA! Excessive media coverage about stupid shit that doesn't matter! Sure, no one has actually DIED from Mad Cow disease, but you'd certainly think so.

But, never mind me. I'm just sayin'.

Dark Knight. Heath Ledger. Batman. The Joker. Dark Knight. Heath Ledger. Batman. The Joker. Dark Knight. Heath Ledger. Batman. The Joker.

Posted by Ryan at 12:52 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Annnd, I'm back

Sadly, I only won about $20 total, although at one point I was up about $350, but then the roulette wheel had its way with me, which is to say it whipped me like the bad boy I am.

Saw this guy in a Riviera comedy club though, and he was HI-FREAKIN'-STERICAL.

Posted by Ryan at 09:37 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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