September 28, 2012

From the Fiction Section

Here's an interesting tidbit from the Nov. 27, 1921 Minneapolis Tribune. You don't see this kind of thing in newspapers nowadays. From the "Fiction" section of the newspaper, which today is referred to simply as "the newspaper."


Makes you wonder where the hell the speedway is, honestly. You don't normally associate sprawling speedways with jagged, mountainous terrain. Not sure which one of these people is the speedway's saint, although I suspect it's the woman, since the man already holds the title of "Saint of Excessively Baggy Clothing." Also, the woman is wearing the saintly "Scarf of Billowing Flame," which is so hot it flash-fried Mr. Fabric-By-The-Yard's face. His hair didn't catch fire, thanks to an over application of Brylcreem, which defies conflagration.

The artist obviously struggles with the bane of most artists: hands. You can tell he tried and tried to get the woman's right hand correct, but ended up with this curled mass of misshapen digits, complete with the worst case of hitchhiker's thumb of all time. He JUST HAD to get the pinkie in there, even if it ended up looking like a shriveled appendix.

The woman also apparently let loose a cloud of flatulence so noxious even gulls take flight to escape certain death.

Posted by Ryan at 03:23 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The Debilitating Scent of Polio

One of the cool things about the terrifying undertaking of owning and running a secondhand furniture store is, occasionally, you get something in the store that looks like complete garbage, but when you peel away the layers you discover something both extremely old and touchingly personal.

Yesterday, for example, I took on the task of removing the upholstery from an old steamer trunk. Over the years, multiple generations of owners took it upon themselves to tack layers and layers of bedsheets over an old trunk and I, in turn, took it upon myself to take it all off.

After removing roughly the third layer of dusty old bedsheets, I discovered a layer of old newspapers that were originally used as padding, presumably. The newspapers dated back to 1926 and 1921. I took a picture. . .

View image

At first glance, it's an unremarkable image, but study it for a moment. Notice the gentleman second from the right? Notice his hands are gripping the elbows of the men on each side of him? I'm not saying it's definitive proof, but similar images can be seen of FDR, who suffered debilitating effects from polio and spent much of his life trying to disguise that fact, particularly during photo ops.

The newspapers are chock full of similar staged photos, from an era when newspapers were pretty much your only way to obtain the most recent photographs of important and semi-important events. In the 1920s, newspapers were YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and countless handheld apps all rolled into one antiquated roll of paper.

Now, newspapers are, well. . . antiquated rolls of paper no one reads because there's YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and countless handheld apps.

Posted by Ryan at 09:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 24, 2012

Touring the Journalist Cave

I'm a journalist, which means I have certain journalistic-endowed powers that sets me apart from other mortals. When Winona State University mailed me my mass communications/journalism bachelor of arts diploma back in 1998, they included the coveted "Journalist Key" that permits me access to the "Journalist Cave" where all the arcane and mysterious journalist secrets are kept. Plus, there's a full bar and awesome satellite dish television that pulls in broadcasts from as far away as the Kingdom of Bahrain. Trust me, you haven't lived until you've seen the Bahrain version of "The Big Bang Theory."

Because of my unfettered access to the Journalist Cave, I have unique journalist powers when it comes to understanding election campaigns, particularly presidential election campaigns. So, with just over a month remaining before the 2012 presidential election--which we journalists KNOW is the most important election in history, and we mean it this time, REALLY--I thought I'd share some of the closely guarded yet completely nonsensical journalistic truths governing this election cycle.

For example, despite an unemployment rate that's been in excess of eight percent for 43 consecutive months--even after a trustworthy government flushing hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars down an endless stimulus toilet--we journalists fully understand that the far more important story is how much a particular candidate did or did not pay in taxes spanning the last decade or so. Information like that is critical when you're unemployed.

On a related note, we journalists also intuitively know that when a presidential candidate flies to a campaign event in a taxpayer-funded 747 and admonishes his opponent for "being out of touch with America," there's no disconnect between that statement and reality whatsoever, because all Americans have access to their own personal 747--they just keep it in the garage so birds can't defile it.

As I combed through some of the Journalist Cave archives, I also discovered a fascinating rule about covering Middle East chaos. The rule states: "In the event the Middle East should be in chaos--which is always--journalists covering a presidential election cycle should focus with laser-like precision on which candidate once drove a car with a dog strapped to the roof and which candidate actually used to eat dog meat." You wouldn't think this rule would come into play all that often, but it's perfectly applicable to the 2012 election cycle, believe it or not.

Not surprisingly, there's an entire wing of the Journalist Cave devoted to rules regarding covering the Middle East during an election campaign, and we journalists are continually remodeling that wing to accommodate all the fresh madness that emanates out of that wondrous world cesspool.

One new rule, in particular, caught my attention. It turns out, during the 2012 American presidential election cycle, if the Middle East should erupt in protests and violence--what the Middle East refers to as "recess"--we journalists should turn to technology and blame. . . *checking sub-rule 298*. . . YouTube. That's right, when the Middle East unleashes its regular recess, resulting in the death of a U.S. ambassador and several other Americans, journalists should point to a poorly-produced YouTube video that denigrates a religious prophet as the culprit this time. That doesn't necessarily explain the last several decades of Middle East recess insanity, but thankfully the Journalist Cave archives explain that we journalists don't have to concern ourselves with something as inconvenient as historical context.

There are all sorts similar rules to be found in the Journalist Cave, and most of the rules wildly contradict each other, depending on which candidate and which political party is being reported on.

I would love to expound on some of the additional Journalist Cave rules, but the Bahrain "Big Bang Theory" just came on, and the guy who plays their version of Sheldon is just too good to be missed.

Posted by Ryan at 09:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 15, 2012

You can't spell "First Amendment" without FREE

Free Speech.jpg

Posted by Ryan at 07:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 14, 2012

Pretty Much


Posted by Ryan at 02:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 04, 2012

Blowing the Dust Off this Thing

Yes, I'm a bad blogger. More accurately, I'm an absent blogger. I don't drop by this place very much any more. I used to apologize for this, but it's become so commonplace that apologizing is just an empty gesture, a waste of digital effort.

So, I don't apologize for not blogging. In fact, you know what? Poop on you. I do this for free, so blah, blah, blah.

I try to think about why, exactly, I don't blog as much. . . or at all, for that matter, any more, and then I look around the store my wife and I have opened, and then I glance at the picture of my two-year-old boy and one-year-old girl, and then I realize why, exactly, I don't blog as much, or at all, any more.

Which is a shame, really. Because there are so many stories that I could be, and should be, sharing about opening a store and about raising my kids, and about not being able to afford daycare WHILE attempting to open and run a store with two kids. There are honestly hundreds of little daily stories about on-the-fly logistical considerations that get lost in the neural cacophony of day-to-day existence.

And I really want to remember some of this craziness 50 years from now when I'm drooling into a pillow while a nurse inserts my daily suppository--which won't be a medical necessity, mind you; I just think it would be pretty hot to have a young female nurse digging in my butt when I'm 87-years-old. But then, if you've read this blog at all over the years, you probably already knew that.

Anyhoo. . .

My point is, I want to try to resurrect this blog--sorry, THUNDERJOURNAL--a bit, time and ambition willing, because there really is a lot I'd like to relate, both for myself and for the one or two of you out there who actually still haunt this dilapidated excuse for an online journal.

So, today, I'd like to talk about "haggling."

One of the reasons my wife really wanted to open a store was so she could put actual price tags on stuff, thereby heading off any attempt at tiresome negotiation. You see, prior to opening the store, my wife sold a several items out of our home via Craigslist. And everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, attempted to haggle a lower price.

We're not gypsies. We don't enjoy haggling. Some people are great at haggling. I, on the other hand, consider haggling to be too similar to arguing, and my wife and I argue enough about money as it is without having to extend the argument to countless third parties.

Thus, we opted to open a store, so we could post prices which would ideally preempt any haggling considerations. Much to our surprise, posted price tags actually seems to have had exactly the opposite intended effect. If anything, we've had even more people attempting to haggle. It's almost as if price tags are seen as more like suggestions than hard and fast, you know, PRICES. I'm tempted to extend the same philosophy to traffic signs. I wonder how that would play out:

OFFICER: Are you aware you just ran through three STOP signs?

ME: But, were they really stop signs?

OFFICER: Huh? Yes. Yes, they clearly are "STOP" signs.

ME: Are you sure they aren't "GO AHEAD IF NO ONE'S VISIBLE" signs?

OFFICER: Of course I'm sure! What are you trying to pull here? You know what, never mind; just blow into this. . .

I suppose, in many ways, haggling is a manifestation of the current ongoing economic woes. Everyone is looking to save money, which is understandable, but when you're trying to get by as a small store with a shoestring budget and crushing overhead expenses, haggling becomes a debilitating ritual that simply takes up more time and effort than I'd like to expend. Actually, I don't like expending time and effort on pretty much anything, so haggling is just another thing I have to throw on the pile of things I don't want to expend time and effort upon. Of course, throwing haggling on the pile is just ANOTHER thing I don't want to expend time and effort on. Honestly, it's all a self-perpetuating and vicious cycle.

But, I suppose haggling is here to stay, because there are just way too many people who enjoy the activity. But, perhaps I can make a suggestion? For all you would-be hagglers out there, could you maybe just do your haggling entirely within your head?

I know it sounds weird, but I'm just asking you to try it. I'm haggling with you about it, if you will. The next time you see a price tag, ask yourself "Do I think they'll negotiate a lower price?" and then answer yourself "Possibly. Do I think they'll go down 25 percent?" and then say "25 percent seems like quite a bit. What about 15 percent?" From there, say to yourself "Well, 15 percent isn't very much; maybe only a few bucks at the most. Do I really think it's worth it?" And then, finally, resolve within your own mind "No, it's really not worth it. These people are trying to make a living, after all. They probably even have two kids to feed. Who am I to negotiate a piece of bread from a child's mouth?"

YOU: Hi, I'd like to buy this lamp.

ME: Sure! Thank you so much, and have a great day!

Posted by Ryan at 10:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
I use third-party advertising companies to serve ads when you visit my website. These companies may use information (not including your name, address, email address, or telephone number) about your visits to this and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, click here.