Thursday, November 30, 2006

From The Onion

As I don't have anything more substantial to share with you all, I guess I'll settle for a funny joke.

As many of you know, one of my favorite things to do is to be a media elitist by making fun of TV news. (It's easy to do; just watch for a minute or two and you'll probably catch a few minor factual errors or on-screen typos.) With that in mind, you can understand why this was my favorite joke from this week's edition of The Onion.

(For those of you who don't know, The Onion is a parody newspaper and Web site that makes fun of pretty much everything. It can often be crude, but this article is clean.)

Monday, November 27, 2006


3. (tie)
-(a headline) "Citizens: Wetlands too damp"
-(a headline) "Evangelist apologizes for 'sexual immortality'"
2. (a set of two consecutive classified ads)
-Hamsters, $1 each, call Allan at ...
-Hamsters, free, call Allan's mom at ...
1. (a classified ad) "Butchered peasants for sale: $5/lb"

"A Christmas Carol"

Katrina and I had our second cultural Sunday of the month yesterday when we went downtown to the Ohio Theatre for the annual production of "A Christmas Carol."

It was a good show, but I personally prefer shows that I don't know the ending. Katrina loves the story, though, so we decided to go. The highlight was actually the restored old theatre -- you can see pictures of it here.

By the way, Americans using British spellings like "theatre" is one of my pet peeves. "Centre" is even worse.

Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving. We were adopted for the day by a couple at church; they invited us over to have lunch with their family. It was good to make some new friends and feel so welcome. It wasn't as good as getting to be with our families, of course, but it was the best we could do with only having one day off work.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Bad Songs

Driving home from work tonight, I stumbled upon one of the worst songs of all time on the radio. You've probably heard of it and wish you hadn't: "Same Old Lang Syne" by Dan Fogelberg.

Perhaps the title doesn't ring a bell. It's the Pina Colada song-esque song about a former couple who run into each other at the grocery store on Christmas Eve (thus explaining why it's played during the holiday season). It takes 12 horrendous lines to get out of the store, including the stunning set of lines:

We took her groceries to the checkout stand
The food was totaled up and bagged
We stood there lost in our embarrassment
As the conversation dragged.

Ah, yes. The thrill and romance of your local supermarket. Which is followed by the truly inspirational lines:

We went to have ourselves a drink or two
But couldn't find an open bar
We bought a six-pack at the liquor store
And we drank it in her car.

You just can't beat a "Christmas" song with a six-pack that ends with both characters driving home after sharing said six-pack.

I don't feel like dragging you all through the rest, but you can read the lyrics here, or hear a bit of it here, if you dare. If this happens again, I'm kicking this station off my radio.

For a selection of other terrible songs, including his six worst, check out "Davy Barry's Book of Bad Songs." Wikipedia has an article with his bottom six here.

Any other nominations for worst songs ever? I know this is a can of worms, but have fun.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


3. (a catalog entry for a coat) "... the interior key pocket holds a gerbil or a hotel key card ..."
2. (a Post Office holiday mailing) "Hours of Operation: Mon-Fri: Closed; Sat: Closed; Sun: Closed"
1. (an agenda for a seminar) "9 a.m.: Is there a facelift in your future? Ask the gynecologist!"

(I know these aren't the funniest, but most of tonight's headlines were too visual to pass on in this format.)

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Future of Journalism

Those of you in the Fourth Estate will find this Baltimore Sun article to be an interesting read, I think. It offers a concise historical background that provides the groundwork for the author's conclusion: Newspapers must reinvent themselves to survive.

A key quote from the article:
"I am neither an optimist nor a pessimist," says Zollman, whose clients include the Tribune Co. "The newspaper business is changing radically, and journalism is changing pretty radically. But there will still be jobs for journalists. ... "I think in five or 10 years, newspapers will still be printed, but they will no longer be a mass media; they will be a most effective targeted medium and they will be the largest of the targeted media."

What do you all think of this? What will newspapers look like in 10 years?

Friday, November 17, 2006

"The Game of the Century"

With all of my teams either finished or set to wrap up mediocre or worse seasons this Saturday, my personal interest in college football is waning. But I must admit I still care about the national title race and the skirmish for admission into the other BCS bowls.

And, living in Columbus, Ohio, it's hard not to be connected with the weekend's showdown in the 'Shoe. Tickets are going for thousands of dollars, authorities are discouraging rioting, and Michigan fans are being warned to take safety precautions. And now legendary Michigan coach Bo Schembechler died this morning while taping a TV program.

I won't get to be at the game, although apparently I'm in the minority among members of the media. I'll be at the office, which I'm sure will be a very productive place from 3:30 to 7 or so. I just have to remember to not wear blue ...

I know I should root for OSU now that I live here, but I just can't bring myself to do it as an undying fan of underdogs. The main thing I'm concerned about is that any rioting that may happen stays away from our apartment.

Any thoughts on the big game?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

GRE Prep

For those of you who think you are smart (or are considering taking the GRE sometime), head over to Katrina's blog for her new weekly vocabulary quiz.

As a doctoral student at Ohio State, she comes across many obscure and annoying words. She's posting five or so to her blog each week and soliciting guesses as to what they mean. I only know three of this week's seven for sure.

Feel free to play, but no cheating!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Googling yourself

When I was talking with my dad on the phone last weekend, an interesting topic came up: Googling yourself and those you know.

We were talking about my grandpa, who has written several books and magazine articles as a railroad buff, so I decided to try to hunt down some references to him online. But, as his name is too common (Cecil Cook), Googling his name alone just won't get very many hits that are actually him. You have to throw in another relevant keyword, like Iowa or railroads. At least half of the hits on each of those pages are actually my grandfather.

(As a side note, a trip over to searching for his old books, which are out of print, was quite interesting. Someone is actually trying to sell "Grass Between The Rails," which he helped write, for more than $900! "Marquette" is much more reasonable, starting as low as $40.)

So, back to the point, if I have one. Obviously, Googling "Ryan Cook" will get you hundreds of people with my name and it will be hard to find the links that actually refer to me. (Just to clear things up, I am not the guy who was drafted by the Vikings, nor am I a digital effects artist.) To find some links that actually could be me, try adding Harding, China, Columbus or Newark, all of which bring up this blog as the first hit.

Now for the fun part. Enter just your name in Google in quotation marks and see how many pages of results you have to go through before you actually find a reference to yourself. (I'm on the 19th page for "Ryan Cook." Good luck with this one, Jim!)

Are there any interesting alter egos out there with your exact name? What is their claim to fame? Also, share any keyword combinations that bring you up as the first hit.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


3. (tie)
-(a classified ad) "For sale: 4 used sheep"
-(a police report) "An unknown Odessa man reported a man shot him without his consent."
2. (a headline) "Poverty rally has poor turnout"
1. (the top of an ad) "The Mulch Lady (Formerly The Mulch Man)"

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Christmas Cards

Katrina and I are planning to do Christmas cards this year. The problem is that we don't have anyone's mailing address. If you would like a Christmas card from us (and if I know you and you read this blog, you qualify), either post your address in a comment or e-mail it to me.


Friday, November 10, 2006

New Links

Just wanted to point out the changes to my links list:

First, I've removed my friend Vince. This is sad, but he's not going to be able to update his blog anymore because Blogspot has been blocked (for now) by the Great Firewall of China. I'll add him again if/when he can update again. (Wikipedia was blocked in China for at least a year, but now it is back, so there is hope.)

I've also added Jon Stacy and Kenny Simpson, two of my King's Men friends from Harding who recently found my blog via some mutual friends' blogs. (If anyone else I know who is reading this has a blog, let me know!)

Speaking of HU, the Bisons and Lady Bisons had exhibition games at Division I Lipscomb on Thursday night. The Bisons gave it a good shot before losing big at the end, and the Lady Bisons actually won. It looks like it could be an exciting year in the Rhodes!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election Day Recap

After a long day and an even longer night for those of us in the media, Election Day 2006 is finished.

Locally, Katrina and I did a fairly good job of voting with the majority, especially on the issues I mentioned a few days ago. The minimum wage increase (that I voted against because it doesn't belong in a state constitution) was the only issue I voted against that passed. Thankfully, the disingenuous Issues 3 and 4 (slot machines to pay for college; fake smoking ban backed by big tobacco) failed , and Issues 5 and 7 (real smoking ban; local bus sales tax) passed.

Katrina and I walked to our polling place yesterday morning. There was no line, and the new electronic voting machines were easy to use and worked well. I can certainly see how they might pose a challenge to those who are not comfortable with technology, though.

I went into to work late yesterday so I could stay later and help edit our election coverage. I ended up working 5 p.m. to 3:45 a.m., which means my head hit the pillow at 5 a.m. I woke up at 11 a.m., but I'm going in late again today to cut some hours.

For reasons that I'm sure I'll learn more about at work today, our county board of elections was strangely slow in getting results out last night. That is a big part of the reason I had to stay so late.

Our lead story at The Advocate: Ohio was a strongly blue state Tuesday, but Licking County stayed mostly red. Local voters also rejected levies funding four school districts.

How did your Election Day go? Any important results from your area that you'd like to share?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


3. (start of a sports article) "Alabama quarterback [name] will undergo season-ending knee surgery on his right ankle."
2. (restaurant ad) "Our spinach salad is to die from!"
1. (police blotter) "When heroin was found in the car, EMTs were summoned and delivered an anecdote."

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Change at Work, and a Joke

I found a Reuters article this morning detailing something I found out about a few weeks ago. As it's clearly public knowledge now, I guess I can talk about it.

At The Advocate and most of Gannett's other papers, we are no longer just a Newsroom. We are an Information Center. I know it sounds like a minor semantic shift, but the underlying intent explained in the article is more important. (And, no, we are not answering the phone by saying "Advocate Information Center.")

Any thoughts on this?

Also, here's an election-related joke I think is worth sharing.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

A Cultured Day

I'm feeling quite sophisticated today, as Katrina and I went with a friend from church to the Columbus Museum of Art this afternoon. The main attraction was an exclusive exhibit of works by and related to Edgar Degas. The Degas gallery was a bit disappointing and small, but the rest of the museum more than made up for that with its quality and quantity.

After about two hours at the museum, we came back and chatted for a while. We even broke out some old Harding yearbooks, as our friend also went to HU.

I'll certainly have to come off my cultural high horse tonight at 8, however, as it will be time for our weekly installment of The Amazing Race. It's probably the least voyeuristic and dishonorable of the reality shows, but still ...

Friday, November 03, 2006

Election Day

With Election Day mere days away and the mudslinging reaching a fever pitch, I have an announcement that I am proud to make: Katrina is going to vote this year!

That might not sound like a big deal, but it will be her first time. Like many people, she just often has trouble picking a candidate who is worthy of her vote. Specifically, there are a few issues that she won't compromise on, and it is nearly impossible to find a major-party candidate who matches each of these views.

I, on the other hand, am quite comfortable voting for the better choice in each race. I grew up a staunch Republican, but my political views have moderated significantly over the last few years. I will be voting a thoroughly split ticket on Tuesday, with Republicans still getting about 2/3 of my votes.

So how am I getting her to go to the polls? I pointed out the issues that are on our ballot here in Ohio. Issues are great, as it's easy to vote yes or no. There's no "lesser of two evils." The issues, and our (I think) mutual opinions on them:

Issue 1. N/A (thrown off ballot by state supreme court)
Issue 2. No (constitutional amendment to increase minimum wage)
Issue 3. No (constitutional amendment allowing limited casino gambling to finance college education)
Issue 4. No ("smoking ban" sponsored by big tobacco that would actually allow more public smoking)
Issue 5. Yes (real smoking ban)
Local Issue 7. Yes (.25 percent sales tax to support local public transportation)

I am really looking forward to actually voting in person for the first time in years. Absentee voting is more convenient and allows lots of time for research, but there's something special about going to the polls and voting in person. Voting absentee was the only option when we were in China, but now our polling place is a five-minute walk away.

I hope you all vote Tuesday, and I hope you all do a little research beforehand so you walk in prepared to make educated choices. Living somewhere that real voting just doesn't happen made me appreciate this opportunity even more.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

White and Nerdy

I had planned to make my serious pre-election post today, but I just don't have the time. Hopefully that will be coming your way tomorrow.

Instead, you'll have to settle for the big news that Weird Al will be performing his new single "White and Nerdy" on The Tonight Show tonight (Thursday). It's a hilarious song based on that disgusting "Ridin' Dirty" song. If you can't catch the performance, you can hear the song or see the video here or find out more about it here.

And, yes, I realize that by providing all these links I am looking rather white and nerdy myself. I'm OK with that.