May 29, 2007


STAGE ONE: Person discovers blog comment engine/Internet forum.

STAGE TWO: Person makes first-ever comment, making their opinion known about the topic of discussion.

STAGE TWO: Person sees a comment in response to their comment and feels compelled by some unknown force of commenting magnetism to respond to the response.

STAGE THREE: Person becomes obsessive about stating and defending their position on every topic ranging from politics to the correct way to fill soap dispensers.

STAGE FOUR: Person starts making comments on more and more Internet sites, seemingly unable to resist the urge to make their opinions known and to defend them over as wide a range as possible.

STAGE FIVE: Person starts believing they're actually "making a difference," when they comment and defend themselves. However, when the person tries to explain their online activities to people offline, they're often flabbergasted at the level to which most everyone both A) Don't know what they're talking about or B) Care.

STAGE SIX: Internet commenter finds themselves with numerous browsers open at the same time, with one always set to Google, so they can state their opinion and defend themselves readily. At STAGE SIX, the Internet commenting addiction now manifests itself within the commenter to such a degree that the commenter utilizes expletives and insults that are completely at odds with their offline persona.

STAGE SEVEN: Internet commenter is convinced they're correct about anything, and anybody who disagrees with them is obviously an idiot. At STAGE SEVEN, there's simply no room for debate about anything. Everyone with an opinion that differs in the slightest is dismissed offhand as a "fuck-tard," or a "shit-brain." Offline, the commenter starts to bemoan the fact the real-world continues to A) Not know what they're talking about or B) Care.

STAGE EIGHT: Having been commenting for months, and even in some cases starting their own blog to better frame their opinions, the Internet commenter has become dangerously unaware how extreme their opinions have become and that there's a pretty lengthy digital trail that can be followed to link them to their often bat-shit insane stances on many issues.

STAGE NINE: A presidential campaign taps the Internet commenter to be their public blogging voice, unaware the commenter is, in fact, a cum-guzzling boozehound. Not surprisingly, things don't work out.

It's at this point where the Internet commenter either reverts back to STAGE EIGHT into perpetuity (as in the case of a certain cum-guzzling boozehound), or advances to:

STAGE TEN: Internet commenter continues to comment vigorously for several months after their STAGE NINE apex, but the high that usually came with posting comments and believing oneself to be a paragon of unassailably brilliant opinionating has worn off a bit.

STAGE ELEVEN: Commenter gradually starts to realize, simultaneously, that A) "What's the fucking point? and B) "Holy shit I've wasted a lot of time commenting about crap that doesn't matter; no WONDER nobody offline knew or cared about what I was talking about."

STAGE TWELVE: After considerable reflection, commenter comes to complete terms with their online addition and realizes that all people who disagree with them aren't "racist goat-fuckers" and can actually be pretty darned nice people, which the commenter would have realized all those months ago if they'd paid more attention to the offline world and actual, you know, PEOPLE.

STAGE THIRTEEN: Internet commenter starts engaging with real people again, and is humbled to realize the reason they haven't gotten laid in months was because so many dates consisted of the commenter talking about shit A) Nobody knew about or B) Cared about, and therefore generally viewed them as boring at best or bat-shit insane at worst.

STAGE FOURTEEN: Former Internet commenter has first successful string of dates in months, culminating in a bed-rocking bout of unbridled exchanging of bodily fluids. Former Internet commenter notes how much more fulfilling sex is with another person, rather than the self-stimulation in front of a flickering computer screen they had gotten so used to.

*NOTE: These stages are not definite, and some commenters will no doubt have different experiences.

Posted by Ryan at 02:56 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 24, 2007

Nut Taser!

After writing about that "taser to the genitals" article, I felt compelled to find it on YouTube. I didn't find it, but I found something infinitely better:

Posted by Ryan at 11:05 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Getting Off on the Wrong Foot and Having a Ball

The life of a ThunderJournalist is a tough and grueling existence. It’s always “thinking and writing, writing and thinking.” Okay, that’s a bit of a stretch. For those of you at all familiar with Rambling Rhodes, you should rightfully suspect there’s little thinking involved when crafting this online nonsense. In fact, I try to avoid thinking at all costs, because no good can honestly come from me thinking.

In an effort to further limit the thinking involved with the ongoing nonsense inherent in this ThunderJournal, I turned this week to the newswires, so I can pass on news items you may have missed, thereby fooling you into thinking I put actual work into writing this online dreck.

So, I refer you today to a May 21 Associated Press news report out of Beloit, Wis., where “a man ran his truck through the wall of a liquor store after his prosthetic leg became jammed between the accelerator and brake pedal.”

This is the kind of story journalists live for. It has drama; it has a liquor store; and it has that quintessential component that’s typically lacking in most “truck through a liquor store” stories: a prosthetic leg.

Oh, sure, there have been prosthetic arm stories aplenty. Newsrooms have filed scores of prosthetic arm stories. There are reporters specifically assigned to the “prosthetic arm beat,” so to speak. But a prosthetic leg? This is NEWS!

“Martin E. Nehls, 49, had parked his Chevy Silverado in the Spirits of 51 lot, police said. When he put the truck into drive on Saturday morning, his prosthetic leg slipped off the brake and hit the gas. Then it got stuck between the two pedals, causing the truck to move forward and hit the building, police said.”

You can almost put yourself in Martin’s place. Almost. You can envision the series of events as they’re described here, but unless you actually have a prosthetic leg, you really can’t appreciate the drama as it unfolded. Suffice it to say, I’m sure it was traumatic.

Now, in this day and age of everyone being offended by everything, I’m sure there are people reading this, probably with one leg, thinking “How dare he make fun of this most horrible story!” To which I would respond, “Lighten up, Hoppy.”

Next, we turn to another Associated Press report, this time dated May 23 out of Tenino, Wash., which begins: “It was just a little stun gun fun, but a police officer who demonstrated his Taser by zapping a willing subject in the genitals has drawn a warning from his bosses.”

I have an office job, and it’s a fairly mundane existence, so when I read about a job wherein a person can Taser another man in the genitals and get away with a warning, I come away just a tad envious. It would change the whole culture of the office environment if everyone knew a possible genital tasering was lurking just around the corner. Water cooler conversations would take on a suspicious, guarded air.

OFFICE WORKER 1: So, did you hear about Kathy in accounting?

OFFICE WORKER 2: Nooooo. Why are you standing like that, like you have to pee or something?

OFFICE WORKER 1: Oh, no reason. Just trying out a new standing method.

OFFICE WORKER 2: Hmm. I wonder. . .

OFFICE WORKER 3: Hey, guys! What’s up?

OFFICE WORKER 1: Back off, man!

OFFICE WORKER 2: Yeah, and let’s see your hands!

See? The office environment would become a whole lot more interesting! You could even have drawings each morning to see who will have to taser the genitals of someone else, thus ensuring a highly alert and attentive staff at all times.

Unfortunately, those personnel with prosthetic legs would be at a disadvantage. But, aren’t they always?

UPDATE: My ThunderJournal colleage, LearnedFoot, also points to this article centered around poop, which I feel awful about not finding on my own.

Posted by Ryan at 09:57 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 22, 2007

My Tuesday Ticket To Hell

I laughed so hard at this, I had tears in my eyes.

Posted by Ryan at 03:50 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


Just so you know, one of the great guilty pleasures of the world is reading the moronic comments that can be found in threads following YouTube videos.

Seriously, if you ever find yourself saying "Nobody can be that stupid," a quick read through YouTube comments will set you straight immediately.

Posted by Ryan at 03:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Just When I Was About To Fisk Nick Coleman. . .

Somebody else does.

Posted by Ryan at 08:32 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 21, 2007

A Sense of Purpose

I think it's about time for this second Internet surge--this Web 2.0 thing--to come crashing down like the Internet bubble of the late 1990s.

It just seems like the Internet has too much going on and needs a cleansing blaze to clear it all out, except for the good stuff, like my ThunderJournal which, let's face it, my ThunderJournal is easily the second best thing about the Internet, just below porn.

So, to that end, I'm going to think of new and exciting ways in which I can pop this here Web 2.0 bubble. The results will be chronicled here on my ThunderJournal once I'm successful.

Or, I might take a nap. I haven't decided yet.

Posted by Ryan at 01:43 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 17, 2007


You know, I see that Google ad above that asks "Are You Superbad?" and I'm forced to really think about it. And, you know what? Yes, yes I do think I'm just a bit Superbad.

I mean, I used to think I was just Mildbad; the kind of guy who would utter a catcall to a dame while twirling a Lucky Strike in my maw, lit, of course, with the naked lady lighter I filched from the local petrol station.

Then, of course, I went through my Badbad stage, during which time I kept a metal flask filled with Jack Daniels in my hip pocket at all times, from which I'd take a healthy belt after I punched some young punk in the gut for walking by me funny. I also took to rolling my own cigarettes, because nothing looks badder than a limp self-roll dribbling from your lip, indicating you're not just willing to kill yourself slowly, you'll take a more active roll in the creation of the death-stick that'll do you in 30 years hence.

Now, I do believe I've graduated to the ranks of the Superbad. I sit here in my khaki Nautica cargo pants, loaded down with an oversized wallet, a Nokia T-Mobile flip cellphone and the keys to my '96 Cadillac Eldorado. My black Perry Ellis dress shirt and Citizen Chronograph watch mark me as a man not to be taken lightly.

Yessiree, I'm a Superbad motherfucker.

Or a monumental tool.

I'm not sure which.

Posted by Ryan at 09:39 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 15, 2007


People who have followed this ThunderJournal are familiar with a certain tiger poster that earned me some well-deserved ridicule awhile back.

This is so going in the picture frame instead.

Posted by Ryan at 03:47 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Faces of Death

Sure, Falwell's death is news, but was it really necessary to capture him at the moment he keeled over?


"The light. . . I'm going towards the light. . . *craps pants*"

Posted by Ryan at 01:35 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

It's electric

I don't know much about electricity. I have a general understanding that, when I flip a lightswitch, I encourage a flow of particles, called electrons--or, as I like to call them, "magical sparky things"--through copper wires in a loop referred to as a circuit--or, as I like to call it, "an electricity lasso." That's generally the extent of my electrical knowledge.

Oh, I also know it hurts to get shocked, and electrical burns can leave marks ranging from a dark smudge on the skin to a tiny hole through the finger that hurts more than you'd think it should.

Considering I view electricity more as a dangerous mystery than a life-simplifying commodity, I tend to shy away from actually working around the magical sparky things whenever possible.

The problem with my house, unfortunately, is it was constructed back in the days when people were just discovering how many new and wonderful things could make use of electricty, such as televisions. As a result, the "fuse box" down in the basement is more complex than the NASA flight control rooms of the late 1960s.

For example, there's a standard-issue fuse box that's responsible for such things as lights and electrical sockets, but then there's an add-on box responsible for the central air conditioning unit--complete with black marker text on a switch that reads "Summer: ON; Winter: OFF." There's also a strange box I call "the ticker," which basically "ticks," like a clock, only really fast, like a bomb that's late for work. There's three other, separate, boxes which I honestly can't discern their purpose, although I have no doubt they're probably very important, as per my rule that, "anything responsible for regulating electricity is probably very important."

The thing is, even though I know the electrical configuration in my house is antiquated, to say the least, I've lacked the financial means to actually update my electrical service until only recently. So, up to this point, every time I walked by the fuse box configuration, I did so with a certain amount of awe, and on occasion smeered goat blood above it to ward off evil spirits.

Well, after about three years of intensive financial saving, I've managed to accrue what I believe is enough to have a professional "magical sparky thing" worker come to my humble abode and dispose of the complex fuse box configuration and install a newfangled "breaker box" solution, complete with updated electrical service to accommodate the rapidly evolving world of technological gadgetry.

What I'm learning, in my search for a good (and reasonably-priced) electrician, is "older is better," meaning there seems to be a direct correlation when it comes to the estimated price for updating my electrical service and the perceived age of the electrician on the other end of the line.

For example, one of the electrical outfits I contacted routed me to a young-sounding individual who cited a bunch of considerations before calculating the cost would be somewhere over $3,000. This left me sufficiently shocked, until I called another electrician, named Don, who sounded much older and said the project should come in "maybe around $1,000 or thereabouts."

You don't hear "thereabouts" bandied about much in conversation nowadays, so I felt compelled to like Don immensely, and not just because his estimate came in $2,000 below his competition.

I'm still hunting for the best electrical estimate for my eventual upgrade, but I'm shooting for a 124 year-old electrician with a name like Prosper Goodsoul. That guy would upgrade my fuse box for the price of a warm smile and a homemade brownie, I reckon.

Posted by Ryan at 10:50 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 11, 2007

Sure Sign The Star-Tribune Is Going Down In Flames

Nick Coleman writes about the Minnesota sesquicentennial a year ahead of time.

It's almost as if he doesn't think he'll have a column a year from now. . . or something.

NOTE: Yes, the column is the same moaning, moping, pointless tripe I've been ripping apart now for well over two years. I would have ripped this one apart, too, but I figured "Mock a man's writing 100 times, give him one free."

Posted by Ryan at 08:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 10, 2007

We'll Always Have Paris

Let's face it. We run-of-the-mill human beings live fairly hum-drum
existences. Most of us wake up, go back to sleep, wake up again,
realize we're late for work, tear our faces apart shaving in haste,
run three red lights on the way to the office, sit in front of a
computer for eight straight hours developing astigmatism, come home,
eat something unhealthy and retire for the evening.

Okay, I may be projecting. My experience may differ a bit from the
rest of you. Nevertheless, I'm always able to handle the rut that is
my life with my head held high thanks to the tireless antics of our
nation's celebrities.

This week, the nation turned its attention towards one Paris Hilton.
For those of you who have been living in a cave, on Mars, with your
fingers in your ears, here's a quick run-down on who (or what) Paris
Hilton is.

Paris Hilton's earliest most notable achievement was being born to
Rick and Kathy Hilton, the heirs to the Hilton hotel empire. Paris's
only other achievement was to perform the act that led to her
conception on film with one of her many now-ex-boyfriends. The video,
which circulated around the Internet and was even sold under the title
"One Night In Paris," catapulted Ms. Hilton from her cushy career as a
trust-fund socialite to the lofty position of America's Easiest Trust
Fund Socialite, making her enormously popular with countless teenage
boys who believed, deep down, they too could one day make a tape with

As with most trust fund socialites, and particularly America's Easiest
Trust Fund Socialite, Paris has grueling obligations, which includes
getting incredibly drunk in public venues and making a general fool of
herself pretty much on a weekly basis. These obligations, though
admittedly difficult, keep her in continual high standing with
America's teenage boys, and a role model for our nation's teenage

Alas, the American legal system just couldn't resist butting in and
putting a damper on the lifestyle of our favorite freewheeling trust
fund socialite. After having her license suspended for driving under
the influence—which, as I explained, is part of her obligations to her
fans—Paris decided "suspended" means "go ahead and drive all you

Well, if you can believe it, an uppity judge went and decided Ms.
Hilton "broke the law" while fulfilling her socialite obligations and
sentenced her to 45 days in a California county jail, beginning June

Prior to sentencing, Hilton showed she could well be the best orator
since Cicero, when she passionately explained "I'm very sorry and from
now on I'm going to pay complete attention to everything. I'm sorry
and I did not do it on purpose at all."

Showing why she should be nominated "Mother of the Year," Hilton's
mother reportedly spoke out against the judge after the sentencing,
asking "May I have your autograph?," indicating she believed the judge
unfairly singled out her daughter in an effort to increase his own
celebrity standing. amazingly, this apparently failed to sway the
judge's sentencing.

Not content to go softly into that small jail cell, Paris then tried
to rally her fans around her, preparing a petition signed by countless
teenage boys and girls that was then sent on to California governor,
Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the hopes the good actor-turned-politician
could find it within himself to issue a pardon to the partying Paris.
According to one headline covering this development, "Paris' pardon
plea was laughed out of the governor's office."

So, reading about all this unfolding drama is how I managed to get
through my non-trust fund socialite existence last week, and I simply
can't wait for June 5 to roll around.

Posted by Ryan at 10:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Reality TV

Caroline says: I like some stuff on there, too. I knock American freaking idol.

Ryan says: Oh, I hate on AI.

Caroline says: Oh, snap.

Ryan says: I simply can't see the appeal.

Caroline says: Nor can I

Ryan says: Oh, hey, they're singing. Big whoop.

Caroline says: I'm so freaking sick of it.

Caroline says: Not singing well, mind you.

Caroline says: I've caught the very end of the show a couple of times waiting for House to come on.

Ryan says: Two more years, people will move on.

Caroline says: I don't know ... I thought that two years ago.

Ryan says: In five years, we'll see "American Pornstar," and I'll be in the audience cheering it on.

Ryan says: If not participating in tryouts.

Caroline says: Two wangs up!

Posted by Ryan at 09:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 09, 2007

SHITTY RICH PEOPLE! Not that there's anything wrong with that

Since Nick Coleman may be on the brink of losing his craptacular column, it seems only fair that I fisk his latest Grandpa PoopShoes mopefest:

Minneapolis needs some bigger lakes.

Oh, gawd, here we go. . .

At the pace that the shores in the City of Lakes are being crowded by giant mansions, our "lakes" are beginning to look more like potholes. But please don't call these big shacks "McMansions." There is nothing "Mc" about many of them.

They are the real deal.

Nick would be happier if the shores were crowded with teepees and wigwams.

Take the massive 8,300-square-foot home being built on the south shore of Lake Calhoun by baseball and bank executive Jim Pohlad. Rumored to cost in the neighborhood of $10 million (Pohlad did not return my call), the project at 3811 Sheridan Av. S., which received a building permit just 13 days ago, is well underway behind freshly poured retaining walls on a hill above the lake.

Pohlad did not return Nick's call! The cad! The rich, rich, rich CAD! Gee, if a reporter came calling about my private property, regarding a deck I'm planning to tack on the side of my house, I'd probably duck the dumbass, too. Also, what's with Nick's outrage about the "just 13 days ago?" Is it his contention that $10 million dollar projects should be built at a snail's pace, rather than the rocket pace of Pohlad's house? What does he think this is, a union project?

It looks more like a palace than a lake home; I don't believe such a large residence has been built in Minneapolis since the days of the lumber barons, and maybe not even then.

Nick would prefer a shanty, or possibly a Hoover-ville. You know, the good old days.

This won't look like T.B. Walker built it, however. It will look like Minnesota Meets Malibu. But it will send the same message to passersby:

I Am Richer Than You.

Oh, the horror! Why can't rich people have the common decency to act and build like they're middle class? How dare they spend their money as they wish!

Now watch Nick pull a Seinfeld. . .

I have no problem with that.

You know, aside from penning a whining, pathetic, nonsensical column about it. Jeez, Nick, you only have a few of these puppies left to write, from the sounds of it, so maybe you should choose your topic areas more carefully. You know, go out on a high note, rather than a raspberry.

Pohlad's brother Bill is planning another big house on Lake of the Isles, so maybe we should change the name of the city to Pohladapolis and be done with it.

And the Star-Tribune is looking at oblivion with content like this in its pages? Unthinkable.

It is a tad surprising, however, that the family that owns the Minnesota Twins -- an enterprise that will receive half a billion in public tax revenues over the next 30 years -- should be so indiscreet.

They should, instead, be living in caves, panhandling for spare change. As always, Nick's "logic" would send Spock into convulsions.

Then again, flaunting wealth is the flavor of the month.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's time now for the patented "Nick Coleman Interview of a Person Plucked Off the Street for no Particular Reason."

"We're in an era where raping the public seems to be standard," said Norman Berns, a filmmaker who lives across from where Pohlad's Calhoun manor is going up. "Money should be handed to the rich and taken from the poor. It's become quite the thing."

OH, SNAP! It's become quite the thing, this taking money from the poor to hand to the rich. They're calling it "Reverse-Robin-Hood-Ism" in the filmmaker's guild. Personally, I'm mildly amused by all the public raping I've been seeing on the streets lately.

Berns wasn't criticizing Pohlad or his house; he said he isn't familiar enough with Pohlad's plans to object to them.

Wha? So, what's the point of quoting him? Is this a diatribe against big houses, or the Pohlads, or the Twins stadium, or what? As is so often the case with Coleman columns, the reader is left to figure that out on their own, because Nick sure doesn't know what he's going on about.

But the concept of massive homes being built on small city lakes? That's something he opposes. And the Pohlads are not the only ones doing it.

Lousy people, using their money to buy property and then building huge houses that increase surrounding property value. *shakes fist*

"This man is not the only ostentatious man building a house," Berns said. "He's not doing anything our society doesn't condone. Do I dislike the house? No, I don't know enough about it. Do I dislike the concept? Yes."

"Do I dislike the house I know nothing about? No! In fact, if I had the money, I'd probably be doing the same. But, the concept! The concept that someone has that much more money than I do. . . I dislike that concept. I liked it better when my house was one of the nicer ones in the neighborhood, but now, NOW, there are all these homes nicer than mine, constantly reminding me I'm a mediocre, if not outright failed, filmmaker. I can't tell you how much I hate that concept."

Not everyone disapproves. Before Pohlad bought the site, which combined two oversized lots, a developer had been planning to build five houses on the site. Before that, there was talk of condominiums. So a single-family home -- even one as massive as this -- was more attractive to some neighbors.

Wow, there are people who see the property value benefits of NOT having houses packed together like sardines, with little or no lawn or, for that matter, trees. Go figure.

"All I see is positives," said neighbor Dan Anderson. "Everyone would rather have a single-family home."

But calling it a "single-family home" doesn't do it justice.

Well, come on then, Nick. Do it justice. You know you want to.

According to plans on file with the city, Jim Pohlad's home will be more like a compound, built in a serpentine fashion with a main entrance far off the street, behind an electronic gate and walls. Shaped like a backward block-letter C, with a panhandle at one corner, the home will have a front-yard pool above the lake, rooftop gardens and a stair tower 34 feet above the main level.

"A front-yard pool above the lake." What does that even mean? Should be the pool be built BELOW lake level? Perhaps Nick's just indignant the Pohlads won't swim in the lake, like God intended? Also "behind an electronic gate and walls?" How does one go about making electronic walls?

The nontraditional design, which bears no resemblance to the traditional hip-and-gable design of large Minneapolis homes, left city planners scratching their heads.

Care to cite some of those city planners, Nick? No? What a shock. Perhaps you could throw in a quote from your know-nothing, concept-hating filmmaker.

But in the end, the city approved the plans, deciding it met requirements. Despite its size, it appears it also would pass under the terms of a new, more restrictive building code proposed by the Planning Commission.

The new code, intended to outlaw construction of oversized homes on undersized lots, prohibits homes larger than half the square footage of their lots. In other words, if you want to build a 5,000-square-foot house, you need a 10,000-square-foot lot.

So, in other words, Pohlad's house will be entirely legal, except that it upsets Coleman's ridiculously-easy-to-upset sensibilities.

Pohlad's Palace is on a lot three-quarters of an acre in size. Theoretically, it could be twice as large as now planned.

But, it's not going to be that big, so what's the problem?

A mansion that massive, of course, might well be seen from the upper deck in that shiny new Twins stadium.

But. . . IT'S NOT GOING TO BE THAT BIG. IT'S GOING TO BE LESS THAN HALF THAT BIG. Nick said so himself, just a couple sentences earlier. Come on, Nick, it used to be you made an attempt to hide your disengenuous ramblings a bit better. But this, this is just sticking out there like a freshly hammered thumb.

And that, sports fans, might be precisely the point.

No, it might not be. Nick invalidated his entire column, such as it was, when he basically said "Pohlad could have built the house twice as big, but he didn't, but he could have, and because he could have, but didn't, which might be precisely the point. . . I'm just a cranky old fart who doesn't know what he's mad about any more; just ignore me."

Good God, man.

Posted by Ryan at 09:53 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

May 07, 2007

The Right Way Versus The Wrong Way

Let's say you have a newspaper. Now, your newspaper had its time in the sun. For awhile, maybe back in the early 1990s or so, it looked as if your newspaper was poised to take over the world, or at least the state, or at least your part of the state.

Now, in 2007, the newspaper business ain't quite what it used to be. Circulation is in the toilet, ad revenue just isn't to be found in the quantities of yore, and the classified section is a shell of its former self. The Internet has long since dealt your once glorious newspaper grievious body blows and upper-cuts, and is now doing a Mexican hat dance on your head.

You realize your newspaper, if it's going to survive, has to refocus. The key to survival is, it's believed, to emphasize local and regional coverage, and leave the national and international news to the national and international news outlets; everyone's getting most of their news in those areas from the Internet anyway. Make your newspaper about the local.

There are two newspapers I follow in Minnesota who are going about this very shift. One is going about it the right way, the other the wrong way.

THE RIGHT WAY: The Rochester Post-Bulletin. The P-B has incorporated a re-emphasis on local reporting with the immediate online feedback of reader comments to articles. They also maintain interactive blogs. They kept their popular columnists as columnists, such as Greg Sellnow and Jennifer Koski. Despite some hiccups when it comes to their Web page loading promptly, for the most part I think the P-B transition has shown how best to operate in this online age.

THE WRONG WAY: The Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Watching this newspaper adapt has been like watching a deer with a broken leg trying to free itself from a barbed wire fence while coyotes nip at its haunches. It hasn't been pretty. Rather than reacting to plummeting circulation with a calculated and thought-out strategy, they've instead reacted to extensive bleeding from the arms with repeated self-inflicted shotgun blasts to the shoulders.

They've given lip service to a re-focus on local reporting, but they just can't quite get used to the idea of NOT being a major newspaper, respected on the national stage. They seem to have a rough idea of what they need to do to save themselves, but they just can't commit to it. And then, when they do commit to it, they go and do something shit-all stupid as this. I don't like Nick Coleman (no, really, it's true), but despite his horrible writing, laughable "logic," and Grandpa PoopShoes cynicism about practically everything, his column is a recognizable "voice" of the newspaper. The same goes for all the columnists; they have their established audiences, and are a consistent reader DRAW. Hell, incredible.html">Dave Barry went so far as to call Lileks: a terrific writer and one of the best newspaper columnists in America. You make THAT GUY into a beat reporter? A BEAT REPORTER? Have you finally decided "to heck with it," and put the shotgun in your mouth for your final act?

Strib, take a page from the P-B and heal yourself before it's too late.

Posted by Ryan at 03:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Another Dipshit Who Doesn't Get It

Will the day ever come when an intelligent criticism of ThunderJournals is penned? Perhaps, but not by this guy.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Fred Khumalo and I should feel very flattered indeed.

Hm, this almost has the air of a Nick Coleman-esque column.

Every day there are 120000 new blog sites registered — a staggering 43 million a year. According to blog search engine Technorati, there are already 70 million blog sites registered worldwide. Admittedly the majority of the bloggers get bored rather quickly and don’t bother to update their sites, but that’s still 70 million people (higher than the population of the UK) who desperately want to be columnists.

Who desperately want to be columnists? WTF? What kind of suicidal leap of logic is that? Bloggers want to be columnists? Puh-lease. I'm willing to bet a good chunk of those 70 million bloggers don't even know what a "columnist" is, and some might even think columnists build Roman-style pillars for a living.

Listen up, dipshit. Very few bloggers aspire to be columnists. Most bloggers, I'm betting, aspire only to blog and chronicle their lives and thoughts online, for themselves mainly, and for anyone who happens by a distant second.

It’s comforting to know that, should Fred or I decide to take a sabbatical, there’s no shortage of people available to hold the fort. The only snag is the quality, or lack of it.

Oh, brother. Here we go again with the "lack of blog quality" snooze.

Allow me to explain what I mean. I used to play air guitar with a band called Deep Purple. My playing was perfect, I had attitude and I even smashed my air guitar at the end of the number. The reason I played air guitar is that I couldn’t play real guitar very well so I was forced to dwell in this fantasy world where my guitar playing meant something only to me. I should point out that this was years ago when I was still young and foolish. These days I play air tenor saxophone, which is far more challenging.

See, now, this is what qualifies as, er, quality. This is quality journalism. Air guitars and air saxophones make up a solid and quality journalistic offering.

Most blog sites are the air guitars of journalism. They’re cobbled together by people who wouldn’t stand a hope in hell of getting a job in journalism, mainly because they have very little to say.

And you know what? Most bloggers don't even want a job in journalism. Many probably don't even know what journalism IS. They just want to carve out a little spot in cyberspace where they can pontificate to the digital ether. Hell, when I started blogging in early 2002, I did so mainly to strengthen my writing skills. It's since morphed into an entirely different beast that I probably couldn't kill if I wanted to.

It’s rather sad how many people think the tedious minutiae of their lives will be of any interest to anyone else.

It’s even sadder when someone reads them.

Well, Mr. Sadler Saddington, here are a few quick numbers to put in your sad pipe and sad smoke: In 2002, a good day consisted of 18 blog visitors; yesterday I had over 9,000. Of that 9,000, a goodly portion came to my blog looking for a now infamous picture of my own ass, if SiteMeter is to be believed, and I have no reason to question it. That's not sad. . . that's fucking hilarious. In fact, in April, this ThunderJournal tallied nearly 240,000 hilariously funny visitors, people who would rather look at a picture of my ass than read your shit. That's about the most amusing thing I can possibly imagine.

Many bloggers prefer to remain anonymous and with good reason. The content of their sites is so moronic that even their best friends would disown them if they knew they were the authors. As with most things in life, something that costs nothing is usually worth nothing and that puzzles me. Are there really 70 million bloggers out there hoping that their writing talents will be recognised, or is this just another example of modern narcissism?

This from a man whose writings drip with the seminal thickness of his own perceived self-importance. He's a fine one to quip about narcissism. Besides that, how can someone be narcissistic AND anonymous?

SIDENOTE: I'm narcissistic as hell. See also, my visitor traffic bragging above.

Unlike the world of newsprint, there are no rules out there in the blogosphere and that makes it a very confusing place for the consumer.

We need rules, dagnabit. RULES, I tells ya. If ya don't have rules, alls ya got is confusion, see? Rules! Bring out the rules! People are confused! Can't you see? CONFUSED! Where's my toilet brush!?

I have no objection to reading my Sunday Times on the Internet because I know the content has been through the same process as the print edition.

Process, people! We need process! Guided by RULES. RULES BASED PROCESSES! AND WHERE'S MY DAMNED toilet BRUSH!

I do, however, object to some anonymous, scrofulous nerd pumping meaningless drivel into cyberspace at all hours of the day and night simply because he can’t find a girl to sleep with him.

Do guys like this even have a passing familiarity with the concepts of free speech and free press? You'd think a "journalist" would have at least heard of the terms. He objects to all this free speech-ifying nonsense going on all the time, gosh-darnit. And notice how bloggers are apparently all male. And undersexed males at that. I don't know about you, but I've read more than a few blogs written by females in my day. Thank goodness this guy's column was subject to the rules and processes of the newsroom, so good, QUALITY content like this can be made available.

These are the sort of wackos who gun down their fellow students at university.

Wha? Leaving aside the broken sentence structure (RULES! PROCESSES!), this guy actually lumps all bloggers with the gun-toting university shooter crowd.

I visited a site the other day that was so hideously racist that it would have qualified its publisher for a long spell in prison if it had appeared in print.

Wait a minute. Racism, although repugnant, is not, I believe, illegal. Racist speech and publications, likewise, are deplorable, but protected forms of expression.

So what’s the difference? How come newspapers and magazines have to carry the names of their editors and publishers and watch their content and websites don’t?

Oh, please. How many unsigned editorials are published every day in newspapers nationwide? Aside from that, newspapers and magazines are BUSINESSES, whereas blogging is, for most, an amusing hobby.

I’m told that it’s possible to track down the author of any offensive website and perhaps that’s what the government should be doing instead of looking at legislation to gag legitimate publications.

Who is this guy? The government should be tracking down offensive Web site authors? Jeezum Crow. Leaving aside the totalitarian underpinnings of such a Big Brother approach to Internet oversight, can you imagine the sheer costs associated with going after offensive bloggers? Being offensive is at the heart of, roughly, 99.99999999999999 percent of all blogs. This guy has gone from amusingly strange to catagorically demented.

Better still, maybe it’s time the print journalists named and shamed some of the more offensive anonymous bloggers and published their physical addresses. Then I can start a blog site called and bore you all with the details.

I can only hope this shithead is, at some level, joking. Actually, no, wait, I hope he's serious. I'd love to see print mediums start "naming and shaming" bloggers most of their readership neither A) knows about or B) even remotely cares about. That would be HI-larious. Maybe not "quality journalism," but hilarious all the same.

Posted by Ryan at 11:42 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 04, 2007

The Most Boring Editorial You'll Ever Read

The 50th Anniversary of the Helvetica Font.

Posted by Ryan at 08:17 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 02, 2007

Baby Bite

Posted by Ryan at 02:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 01, 2007

Lions Are Just Dandy

Spring has once again arrived here in Minnesota. I know this because my lawn has once again become absolutely alive with dandelions. I’ve written about this before, but since I have no idea what else to write about, I’m going to write about dandelions, whether you like it or not.

To put it mildly, I’m not all that big into lawn care. I don’t care about my lawn. All my neighbors seem to spend all sorts of time caring about their lawns, but I, quite frankly, fail to see the point.

I’m constantly being bombarded by advertisement mailings telling me about the horrors of crabgrass, but my thinking is “hey, at least it’s grass.” In this respect I’m very much different from my father, a man who considers lawn care an art form bordering on religion, bordering on psychosis. If there’s one enemy my father engages in ongoing battle against, it’s crabgrass.

I can’t recount the number of times I’ve stood in my parent’s yard, talking with my mom and dad, only to have my dad eventually, inevitably, slowly fall to knees—as if pulled by a gravitational force only he feels—and start pawing around the lawn, tweezering rogue crabgrass with his thumb and forefinger. The act always struck me as sort of mysterious, as if he was channeling his former life as a truffle-snuffling pig.

I suffer from no such past-life flashbacks. In my yard, crabgrass grows unchecked, outgrown only by dandelions, which haven’t taken root in my dad’s lawn since somewhere back in ’79, which dad refers to only as “that incident.”

To underscore just how bad my lawn apparently is, my girlfriend recently had a conversation with a woman who lives up the street from us. The woman asked which house we lived in and, upon realizing the house in which we reside, the woman, quite unabashedly, stated “oh, I know that house; that used to be the nicest lawn on the street, now it’s the worst.” We won’t be having her over for dinner any time soon, unless we’re serving dandelion soup.

Taken by itself, that conversation might have persuaded me to take a more proactive approach with my lawn. I might have even finally called the number on all those TruGreen ChemLawn fliers that fill up my mailbox. I may have actually taken the first step down the path of becoming a crabgrass snuffler, like my father before me.

Thankfully, I was saved from that horrible fate by another neighborly encounter, this time with a woman pushing a carrier packed with three young children. Again, it was my girlfriend who actually had the encounter, as I was probably inside the house at the time doing something productive, like taking a nap.

Anyway, according to my girlfriend, the three children were a gleefully energetic bunch, clearly pleased to be out and about in the spring air. One of the children, with an adoring lilt in his voice, remarked “look at all the dandelions! They’re so pretty!”

And so they are.

When you really think about it, when was the last time you heard a child remark about how pretty grass is? Or how horrible crabgrass looks? But, they understand dandelions. They appreciate dandelions.

What all this comes down to is that I still don’t care all that much about my lawn, but if I have to really think about who I want to impress more: my neighbors, or their children, I tend to think I’d want to impress those who appreciate the dandelions.

If for no other reason, at least that would allow me to continue to be lazy.

Posted by Ryan at 11:43 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Dork 'O The Day To Ye

Some people. . .

I am saddened that most people say there were 32 victims of the Virginia Tech slayings on April 16. I do agree that Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people before taking his own life; however, Cho was a victim as well.

Yeah, the guy who sealed off the exit to a building and went about on a premeditated, indiscriminate killing spree was a "victim." A guy who sent a self-glorifying, rambling, hateful video of himself to NBC just prior to said killing spree was a "victim."

One of Cho's professors requested that he be removed from her class. She also claims that her students stopped showing up for class because they were intimidated by him. She says, "there was something mean about this boy," stating he would come to class wearing sunglasses and a hat. He was eventually forced to take his class one-on-one with a different professor.

Gee, it's almost as if Cho was TRYING to be intimidating. Left out of this clown's bleeding heart "letter of the day" was Cho's fantastic writings, which would have made Freddy Krueger a tad uncomfortable.

I don't know about anyone else, but I see plenty of students coming to class wearing hats and sunglasses who aren't immediately labeled as "mean" or "scary." It seems he was continuously singled out from the crowd, which would make anyone feel hurt or resentment toward those in "the crowd."

You know, it's been about 10 years since I was in college, but as I recall it was a place where "interesting" self-expression was the norm rather than the exception. There were goths, and there were stoners, and there was even a self-proclaimed "vampire" in one of my newspaper practicum classes who consistently wore the same black outfit and, according to rumor, slept in a coffin. But, crazy creepy as even he was, he was able to engage with other people, and was actually quite funny, in a "stay-away-from-my-neck" sort of way. In other words, college students, typically, can handle quite a fair share of weirdness in their fellow students. So, if students found Cho a bit unsettling, I'm betting there was a bit more to it than a hat and sunglasses.

Cho gave out many warning signs, all of which seem to have been overlooked by society.

Ummm, no, as you mentioned earlier, those warning signs weren't overlooked. Cho's fellow students, or "the crowd," apparently made it painfully clear Cho scared the living hell out of them.

He threatened to kill himself, there was a temporary detention order issued, and he was placed in a mental health facility.

All signs of a textbook "victim."

With enough time in an inpatient facility, a professional should have been able to see there was something else going on.

And how much time would that be? A week? A month? A year? How long would it take for this imaginary "professional" to emerge who would say "You see that young man with the two guns and the empty gaze? He could be trouble, that one."

Was Cho a crazed lunatic who thought of death every minute of the day and finally just snapped in a fit of rage and decided to kill 32 people before killing himself?

Okay, normal people, please answer: YES! Now, stupid letter writer, what's your answer?

No, Cho was a victim of an undereducated, underfunded society that lacks the resources and will to give him, and others like him, the help they need.


He was a victim of an undereducated society? What's considered adequate education for singling out a psychotic? Because, it sounds like the VT students pretty much had Cho nailed for the nutball that he was. And underfunded? What the hell does that even mean? He was placed in a mental health facility, for crying out loud. Cho was a crazy man. An insane man. A killer. If he was a victim of anyone, he was a victim of himself.

Letter of the day?

Try, dumbass of the day.

Posted by Ryan at 09:01 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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