Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Paperboy's Tale Of Unrequited Love

Dear Blog,
Today we celebrate our two-year blogiversary together. I can't tell you how much it has meant to me spending my mornings with you these last two years, slamming coffee and staring into your screen, fingers gently caressing the keyboard as you bring out my innermost thoughts.

I recognize that this is an outstanding achievement and many blogs never make it past the first year. I believe this is because the traditional one-year anniversary gift is "paper", which is kind of self-defeating when you think about it. Wouldn't that be like your wife bringing you a hooker as an anniversary gift?

But I digress.

Blog, while this blogiversary should be a joyous occasion, I have a confession to make. I entered into this relationship under false pretenses. I know you are aware that my wandering eye has been seeing other blogs, but as I've been reminded time and again these last few years, "why buy the dictionary when you can get the words for free"? No, what I am referring to is much more sinister than that.

I started with you two years ago like a spy who infiltrates the enemy camp to look for an advantage. Now don't get your widgets in a twitter until you hear me out. We are oil and water, you and me. You're a blog on the internet and I am a print newspaper man. Our relationship was doomed from the start as I recognized years ago that you were threatening my livelihood. I guess I was hoping to do a Jack Bauer and either find the internet power cord from the inside and pull the plug, or at the very least - be the one to figure out how to neutralize and monetize your pages. But alas! My dream of having 35 paid subscribers to match Newsday's impressive tally is still but a dream.

But then we began to dance. Slowly at first, as if taking each other's full measure. Then our tempo increased as our synchronized choreography of word thingys started to draw attention. Sure, much of our traffic has been due to pet owners googling to find out why their dogs have begun to suffer from chattering teeth, but that's beside the point. Lately, our dance has become more feverish still - a veritable symbiotic ballet of cacophonous blurtings. But then...

While I do blame you for my recent layoff, I admit I still find you attractive, blog. With each new bill invoice that arrives in my mailbox, I hunger for the ability to eat your words. You... complete... me.
Forever Yours,

OK, even that made ME feel kind of icky, but what were you expecting? Billy Shakespeare?

I do want to thank all of you who have danced with me these last two years. You really are like an extended family, as we share the best we can in each others triumphs, trajedies and mere setbacks. I appreciate all of you more than you know. Thanks for being there and for being so encouraging.

Shall we dance?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Confessions of a Tree Killer, Part 2

I believe it was on the morning of Friday, June 18, 2004, when I answered my ringing desk phone.

"You wrote something."

I recognized the voice as that of (MR), the then Opinion Page Editor. I remember being initially confused as to what he was talking about and responded with, "I write a lot of things," as my fertile brain went into overdrive trying to determine what interest MR would have in any circulation reports I had been working on.

"I'm talking about your Reagan piece you sent to (PK)", who was the then Editor of the newspaper, and all around good guy.

"What about it," I inquired, as my synapses refused to make the connection on where this might be going.

"We're going to run you this Sunday as a guest writer in the Editor's column," MR stated. "That is, if that's OK with you?"

"Uhhhh. OK," I said (or something equally as cerebral). The Editor's column anchored the very popular Opinion section on Sundays and was prime print realestate, positioned directly under the widely read Talk Back box. "Did you check with (RS) about this?" (RS was the then Publisher of the newspaper).

"Don't need to," he answered. MR then asked if he could run the picture I had sent the editor as an attachment.

"No you can't use that," I told him, remembering that the picture in question was of my mug I had photoshopped onto Matt Drudge's pose. The same picture, coincidentally, that I regularly use as my Facebook avatar and later "Obamanized" at the bottom right column of this blog.

"No problem We'll use a library archive photo," he stated.

Let me back up a moment to tell you how this had come to pass.

President Ronald Reagan died on June 5, 2004, and his state funeral lasted through June 11th. A few days later, local columnist Andy Heller ran what I thought was a vicious attack column of revisionist history on Reagan he titled, "Dying has done wonders for Reagan." It was red meat for the overwhelming democrat majority in the market (BTW, how has hitching your wagon to the democrats and the unions worked out for all of you?)

Listen up people. You don't tug on Superman's cape, you don't spit into the wind... and you don't mess around with Ronaldus Maximus.

What had upset me most wasn't the fact that Heller was expressing his opinion (that was his job after all, and he did/does it very well). No, what I found troubling at the time was that there was no local voice on staff to counter this drivel. So, after a departmental popcorn meeting that week with the Publisher, I pulled RS aside and shared my concerns of the above with him. I made a pitch for the need to add a local columnist with a conservative perspective so as not to completely alienate the portion of the market who held right-of-center views. RS listened and smiled, then stated he would consider it.

Please know that I was not making a play for myself to be this voice. That was not even considered, and as I told a friend sometime later, I couldn't have afforded the pay cut.

However, never being one to take a rebuff sitting down I penned my own Heller response. You'll have to trust me on this, but I did so with no expectations of it actually running. In fact my motivation was no more than what drives this blog, that being a need to express myself. I find the process soothing and quite a stress reliever. A "bloggers high" if you will. Since I had no blog back then, I emailed it to a few friends and relatives with the aforementioned silly picture as an attachment.

I had a good working relationship with the Editor, so I sent it to PK on a whim. In the email, I remember telling him of my pitch to RS for a conservative columnist, and that I was including my Heller response as an illustration. Apparently, PK forwarded it to MR with a subject line I'm guessing said something like "don't know if you can use this".

Next thing I know, I pick up my ringing phone to hear "You wrote something."

Click image for full size if you care to read. The only change was to the picture (I like this one better:)

The reaction
I had wondered if I made a mistake in granting my permission for this to run. Unlike Heller, the company did not pay me for my political opinions, nor to alienate and offend a good chunk of the subscribers. It didn't matter that, at that time, we may have been averaging something like 10 cancellations per month over "editorial content" (If there is one thing we circ folks are good at, it's tracking numbers). To be fair, I have no doubt that for every subscriber that Heller drove to cancellation, he attracted a good many more to replace them.

My hands began to sweat in fear of the repercussions of losing just one subscriber because of my article, as that would be in direct contradiction to the mission of my day job. Maybe nobody will see it, I remember thinking.

Then again, I realized that with the multiplication factor of readers to paid circulation there was a good chance that over 200,000 people had read my scribblings. Based on my current daily average blog traffic, it would take me approximately 8 years to have attracted a comparable cummulative audience.

I received a phone call at home that morning from Pic Pic, an old friend and ex-colleague. He asked me in all candor, "so do you have another job offer in your pocket?"

You can ALWAYS count on your friends to give you assurances.

Later that week, the handwritten letters started coming in (think Miracle on 34th Street and the bags of santa mail in the courtroom). OK, not really that many. But I did receive dozens of emails, phonecalls, and letters. To my surprise, they were almost entirely positive. I handeled those with an inordinate and superhuman amount of grace and humility.

Most had three major themes:
* We loved it.
* We want to see more of you.
* We fear for your continued employment.

Here is one of my favorites...

I did get a few loose screws who called, and I politely and professionally agreed with them that I would stick to my abacus if they would continue taking the paper. As far as I know, not one subscriber stopped their paper over my piece.

A day or two later, I bumped into PK. He officially informed me that guest writing his column was a one-shot deal and I would not be getting a repeat performance.

And just like Apollo told Rocky, "Ain't gonna be no rematch," I responded to PK in kind with, "Don't want one."

Obama Skips Jury Duty

I agree. Obama Should Not Skip Out on Jury Duty.

The more time he spent in a jury box, the less time he would have to spend us into bankruptcy.

Plus, this could be comedy gold. Who knows? We could get pictures from the paparazzi of Obama bowing to cuffed defendants in orange prison garb. Or maybe at some point during cross examination of a witness, Obama would vault from his chair and holler, "I CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!"

*Sigh* Not to be. Maybe he was told his teleprompter would not be allowed to accompany him during deliberations. From his perspective, why waste time sitting in judgement of one individual when he can spend his time in judgement of, and hold the entire country in contempt.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Do you accurately interpret my verbiage that I am enunciating?

Let me be clear. Today's blog isn't about Hasek, bologna, or even a random South Park clip. In fact, I am not sure what "I am saying" until I get to the end. At that point I may let you know. In the meantime I have no expectations and nor should you.

Do you know what I am saying?

I believe it was Mickey Redmond, Red Wing broadcaster and former player, who once described Dominik Hasek as a finely-tuned Maserati. That is, when Hasek was healthy "The Dominator" was one of the greatest goaltenders in the modern era. The knock against Hasek was that he was injury-prone and like a high-performance sports car, wouldn't leave the garage if he had a scratch or a hangnail.

I bring this up because it occurred to me that this described my lack of blogging. Here I've been selfishly pondering long-term self-preservation strategies (after being laid off a couple of weeks ago) instead of laying down a daily high-performance blog of snarky Obama observations that at the very least were self-amusing.

Do you sufficiently comprehend my utterances?

I guess I haven't felt very funny recently. Maybe I will try the Steve Martin technique of inserting a slice of bologna in each shoe in order to feel funny again....

Nah. In this economy it's best not to waste two slices of bologna, or what I like to call "Obama Steak".

BTW, my resume is currently being constructed and I am debating whether or not to have the phrase "finely-tuned Maserati" included in there somewhere. I think it would fit nicely after "Expertise at shooting mind bullets of motivation" and "Pwn'ing of the Pythagorium Theorum" in the 'skilz section'.

So in conclusion, my only purpose today was to let my friends know I'm still around and doing just fine, and I am optimistic on future prospects. If anything changes to the negative, please don't be surprised if I have a "DONATE" button added to the blog asking for you to send me your spare bologna slices.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Good News, Bad News Wednesday

The good news is: It's the people's seat

The bad news is, stimulus dollars are desperately needed for a major reupholstery.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Don't Sweat Over The Petty Things

Dear Casey,
You know , sometimes, I dont know why,
But this old town just seems so hopeless
I aint really sure, but it seems I remember the good times
Were just a little bit more in focus...
And then she looks me in the eye, says, we gonna last forever,
And man, you know I cant begin to doubt it."

So Casey, could you play my short distance dedication to my beautiful wife of going on 24 years, who constantly reminds me that this to shall pass?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Confessions of a Tree Killer

Dear Friends,
I am breaking a self-imposed rule today by blogging about my job, the reason being made painfully clear. I've made some good friends here over the last two years, so I felt I owed an explanation as to why my blogging has been temporarily interrupted. I hope to come back stronger in the near future.
Yours Truly,
Jerry (DaBlade)

DaBlade: What's up Jerry, no blog again today? As your alter ego, I demand that you unleash me!
Jerry: Sorry 'Blade, but trust me. You really don't want to possess my skin right now. I'm still a little shell shocked after getting the news Friday that I am one of the latest victims of the continuing decline of the newspaper industry.
DaBlade: How sad. Were you one of them reporter thingys?
Jerry: No, no. Any reader of this blog knows that I don't write for a living, what with your numerous misspellings, overall poor grammar, run on sentences and repeated dangling participle offenses. I must add that your use of "commas" on this blog are like the hands of a nervous teenager in the presence of a pretty girl. "Where do I put them, where do I put them?"
DaBlade: After being whipped fiercely, the cook boiled the egg. I see, what, you mean.
Jerry: I have spent over 30 years on the Circulation (distribution/customer service) side of the business. That's not even counting the 7 years as a contracted newspaper carrier. I started part time in 1979 as a Customer Service Clerk while I went to school. In 1984, I earned a BBA degree with academic honors from The University of Michigan-Flint, School of Management...
DaBlade: Now we can spend our time sitting on the back porch watching the cows playing Scrabble and reading.
Jerry: Will you stop talking in my head with the danglers for a minute? This is serious!
DaBlade: Si'
Jerry: In 1985 I was promoted to District Manager; then after a few years I became a Motor Route Manager and then a Zone manger. I was promoted to Circulation Manager in 2001, and finally to Director of circulation in 2005.
DaBlade: Sounds like your paper route just kept getting bigger.
Jerry: If I had been ambitious for ambitions sake, I could have climbed the corporate ladder much more quickly by bouncing from paper to paper. However, I loved every one of my jobs and those who were my coworkers.
DaBlade: No offense, but you must really have sucked at your job for them to let you go.
Jerry: I guess that would depend on who you asked. I know I'm joing an ever-growing list of former newspaper people, most of which are great human beings who are extraordinarily talented. Folks from Editorial, Advertising, Accounting, Circulation, Marketing, Production, and on and on.
DaBlade: Newspapers are dying because they're too liberal, right?
Jerry: No 'Blade, that argument drives me crazy and can be a topic of discussion for another time if you'd like. In my opinion, I do not believe that newspapers are dying, but merely transforming. Of course, this transformation is leaving quite a pile of career corpses.
DaBlade: Ewww!
Jerry: Sorry. The point is, the old model of newspapers is broken. It used to be that the primary function of Circulation was to grow readership. With the additional eyeballs, the Advertising folks would crank up the already confiscatory rates to the advertisers - who would willingly pay this ransom because it drove traffic to their stores.
DaBlade: Ahhh, the circle of life! Just like The Lion King! "Look, Simba. Everything the light touches is our kingdom".
Jerry: Well, not any more, and not for quite some time in fact. It would be a huge understatement to say that the market for news, information and advertising has fragmented after Al Gore invented the internet.
DaBlade: Now what are we going to do?
Jerry: That blog has yet to be written and we'll find that answer out together. With a Freshman and a Senior in high school, and another with a year and a half to go at Notre Dame, I certainly have sufficient motivation. I still have a few weeks to wrap up at the paper though.
DaBlade: Wasn't walking in to work yesterday hard?
Jerry: I was recently asked that very question by a friend of mine, another former newsie. Here was my answer to her:

"Walking in was not so hard. After all, I did nothing wrong. The same could be said of the good folks that I was made to give those papers to from the other side of the table in March. In fact, we kicked ass. An independent market research company (M.O.R.I.) rated us with the 2nd best customer service they ever measured in the U.S.; against all odds my team grew circulation TWO YEARS IN A ROW in 2005 and 2006. Home delivery growth (In Flint, Michigan), I might add. When I was told the company wanted revenue instead of numbers, we gave that too. In a big way. It's tough when all that wasn't enough."

I still have many friends there and I wish them all the best.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Obama's Failed Counterterrorism Strategy is "A Failure To Connect The Dots"

This is for all those lucky kids with a snow day today (after you shovel my driveway).

Print and complete from the archives of connect-the-dots puzzles here, or make your own!

In the spirit of this joyful and unexpected holiday, here is a preview of available puzzles (solution included)...

In the spirit of me not getting a snowday, here is my homemade puzzle for you.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

SHOCK: Times Square billboard Uses Obama Likeness To Promote Their Socialist Agenda!

Paid for by the Weather Underground (or something)

OK, not really. Here's the real story, but I like this version better!

I was going to cut and paste the logo from yesterdays post of the Dearborn High School Terrorist Sweatshirt on the coat breast (for no apparent reason) but I gotta run. If you can think of a better logo or graphic for his jacket, feel free to mention in the comments.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Jihad Boys at a Dearborn High School Taunt "You Can’t Bring Us Down"

Michigan has the largest Arab community in the United States, and second only to Paris outside the Middle East. It is estimated there are approximately 350,000 people of Arab descent in southeast Michigan, including significant numbers of Iraqi, Lebanese, Yemeni, and Palestinian Americans. Keep this in mind while reading the following...

Hundreds attend Dearborn meeting about Twin Towers shirts
A group of Arab-American students who are members of the class of 2011 at Dearborn’s Edsel Ford High School told school officials they were showing pride in their class with their choice of sweatshirts on Monday.

But school officials disagreed, confiscating the sweatshirts and scheduling meetings with the students and their parents because the images on the sweatshirts referenced the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center Towers.

Along with the words, “You can’t bring us down,” the sweatshirts featured an image of the number 11 as the twin towers with windows included on each digit. The school’s mascot, a thunderbird, was flying nearby.
DISCLAIMER: The original photo of this sweatshirt had the student's name blurred out, but Chattering Teeth experts were able to bring it back using graphic enhancement techniques.

Well, at least their school mascot is something benign like a thunderbird and not a severed infidel head. Of course, the thunderbird doesn't look so benign as it looks like a plane heading for the Twin Towers.

I guess it's just innocent school spirit these Arab youths exhibited by using the imagery of the horror that was 9/11, and the almost 3,000 innocent deaths.

The Beach Boys - Be True To Your SchoolThe Jihad Boys - You Can’t Bring Us Down

Maybe we should congratulate them for going to school at all in the Detroit area, which has a stellar graduation rate of 25%. These sweatshirts would be a little warm for the desert, which is where I would deposit them. Of course, it's more likely one of them will be our president in about 25 years (if we are still around).

"Why in the world would any teenager think printing up a sweatshirt that appears to glorify terrorism is appropriate?"

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Making the email rounds ~

Barack Obama meets with the Queen of England. He asks her, "Your Majesty, how do you run such an efficient government? Are there any tips you can give to me?"

"Well," says the Queen, "the most important thing is to surround yourself with intelligent people."

Obama frowns "But how do I know the people around me are really intelligent?"

The Queen takes a sip of tea. "Oh, that's easy. You just ask them to answer an intelligent riddle."

The Queen pushes a button on her intercom. "Please send Tony Blair in here, would you?"

Tony Blair walks into the room.. "Yes, my Queen?"

The Queen smiles. "Answer me this, please, Tony. Your mother and father have a child. It is not your brother and it is not your sister. Who is it?"

Without pausing for a moment, Tony Blair answers, "That would be me."

"Yes! Very good," says the Queen.

Obama goes back home to ask Joe Biden, his vice president, the same question.

"Joe. Answer this for me. Your mother and your father have a child. It's not your brother and it's not your sister. Who is it?"

"I'm not sure," says Biden. "Let me get back to you on that one." He goes to his advisers and asks every one, but none can give him an answer. Finally, he ends up in the men's room and recognizes Colin Powell's shoes in the next stall.

Biden asks Powell, "Colin! Can you answer this for me? Your mother and father have a child and it's not your brother or your sister. Who is it?"

Colin Powell yells back, "That's easy. It's me!"

Biden smiles, and says, "Thanks!" Then, he goes back to speak with Obama.

"Say, I did some research and I have the answer to that riddle. It's Colin Powell."

Obama gets up, stomps over to Biden, and angrily yells into his face, "No, you idiot! It's Tony Blair!"

Monday, January 4, 2010


As per usual, I am in a hurry this morning and only have time to scan the headlines. Here is today's diddy:

Iran Plans Large-Scale War Games

So Ahkmadeenadude is itching for a war game huh? I hereby volunteer to represent my country and accept his challenge. Bring it on fuzz face!

Full Disclosure: War Games are my specialty. I was born for this moment.

That's me playing Risk circa 1969 and those yellow armies are mine (Yes ladies, I am well aware that I am impossibly adorable. And yes gentlemen, I also know that even at this tender age, I am impossibly forminable). Dice in hand and a smug look on my face, I appear to be on the attack. As you can see, I have firm control over Europe. While the board doesn't display North America, my non-defensive position on Greenland suggests I have firm control there also. Let's just say, I can definitely see Russia from my house.

Further study of the board will show that I have made serious inroads into Asia, with the current action in the Middle East. I am in the process of successfully invoking my proven strategy I like to call "DaBlade's Vice and Slice". This game was played approximately two years after the Arab-Israeli Six Day War, but you may rest assured my victory didn't take nearly as long.

So step up to the gameboard Ahkmadeenadude, in a winner-takes-all high stakes game of Risk. If I win, you must immediately cede control of your government to the protesters and dissidents in your streets... and you must shave, put on a dress and try out for this year's version of American Idol. In the likely event that you win... you can have Obama.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Lord of the Cheese Danish - and other terrorist tales

Today's blog inspired by this headline:
"Danish police arrest man trying to kill cartoonist"

For some reason I found humor in the rearranging this headline to read:

Cartoonist Police Arrest Danish Trying To Kill Man

Dear Cheese Danish, you have the right to remain delicious. Any calories you have in your flaky crust or creamy center can and will be used against me in a pair of pants. You have the right to a French Chef. If you cannot afford a French Chef, one will be pompously thrust upon you. Do you understand this recipe as it has been read to you?

After mildly amusing myself with this, I then contemplated the actual story. Let me see if I have this straight. A cartoonist draws a picture of some arab dude with a bomb in his bonnet, implying that a certain religious wing of fanatics are malignant and evil killers ~ one of these fanatics gets his bun in a knot from the bomb in the bonnet, so he tries to kill the messenger?

The man draws the attention of the evil eye of islamofacists with a simple cartoon. I wonder why we'll never see this headline:

Man Attacks Garry Trudeau Over Recent Anti-Christian Doonesbury Strip.

The evil eye of islamofacists reminds me of The Eye of Sauron, from The Lord of the Rings fame (how's that for today's segue?)

I was an instant fan of The Lord of the Rings from the time I first opened and read The Hobbit when I was a teenager in the 70's. What's not to love? It has a little of everything... There are the good guys ~ Little people with furry feet who live underground and like to drink ale... dragons, elves, dwarves and wizards.

Then there are the bad guys. There is Gollum, and the evil one crept up and slipped away with her, her, her....yeah. Oops! Didn't mean to Ramble On.

Then there are those goblin thingys... what are they called? Think grotesque and dim-witted creature riding the back of a Warg... No, not Barney Frank. His page boy looks nothing like a Warg. Ba-dum-bum. Please focus. Hmmm.

Orcs! That's it!

Anyway, where was I? Oh yah, LOTR. Apparently there are religious themes in J. R. R. Tolkien's epic trilogy, and he once stated that it is "a fundamentally religious and Catholic work."

I guess that's just a bonus, 'cuz I just love it for the adventure stuff. Had Tolkien been overtly preachy, I might not have read the books. But then again, how cool would Gandalf The Pope be? He could trade in the bubbled Popemobile for a large, white "Meara" stallion named Shadowfax, and hypothetically speaking, any crazy women who vaulted over a barrier in an attempt to knock him down would get a cracked skull from the business end of his staff.

But I digress.

So what we have so far is this: Tolkien used symbolism in his story to convey the spiritual aspects of Christianity. The reader is drawn into and engrossed by his world of Middle Earth, actively rooting for the protagonist and subliminally adopting his cause.

Voila! Instant Christians!

Which got me to thinking about Osama Bin Laden and his pathetic little scout troop of al-qaeda Wargs. There he is, the so-called leader of his religious movement, hiding out in some unmarked cave while his operatives run around with firecrackers in their panties. Really? Ewwwww, scary! I gotta say, this doesn't really inspire folks to your twisted cause.

That's not to say that the blind and impotent islamofacist doesn't occasionally find a real nut in his undies and get lucky by hitting us. What I am saying is that by making this a war of attrition, they will be buried under in cave rubbel by a Crusade that will make the last one seem like a pillow fight.

Not that I want to help him, but what Osama really needs (aside from a warm shower, delousing, shave and a haircut, and a good kidney) is a good publicist ~ or better yet, a storyteller of the quality of Tolkien. Through the magic of entertaining fiction, maybe Osama could draw unsuspecting people to his cause.

It might start out with something like this:

In a hole in a mountain in Pakistan there lived Osama. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was an islamofacist hole, and that means comfort.

See? You the reader are already hooked and want to know more, am I right?

Remember in Tolkien's masterpiece, the evil Sauron bred immense armies of orcs, torturing elves to create them. Maybe Osama could replace "Sauron" with "George Bush", and that his torturing of innocent muslim minutemen at Guantanemo only created more...

Nah! The liberals in America along with president Obama have already told that fictional story.

OK, time for the second paragraph (and as it turns out, the story's conclusion...)

One day, Osama is enjoying a pipe outside his cave door when an old man with a long cloak and a staff arrives... nope. I'm wrong... it's a missile fired by a Predator overhead.