Thursday, May 08, 2008

Ryan Rhodes: Everyday Hero

The internet is serious business. A common misconception is that the fight for freedom, justice and the very Future of America is being carried out on some foreign battlefield, in courtrooms or in the musty chambers of some big domed building.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The real battle for the Soul of America takes place daily in internet forums and the comment threads of blogs that get about 500 hits per day. It is an ugly war where only the fittest survive, the weak are cast away, and the pathologically persistent dominate the day.

As I said, the internet is serious business. It requires a serious hero. Fortunately for us, we have such heroes walking amongst us. People like me. And heroic people like noted Rochester ThunderJournalist Ryan Rhodes.

Coiner of the term "ThunderJournal" and innovator of the art of poopblogging, Ryan joins the battle almost every day in comment threads and on his own personal ThunderJournal, fighting for truth and justice. In keeping with Grace Kelly's and my Northern Alliance colleague Mitch's decision to honor these unsung heroes, I conducted an interview yesterday with Ryan. He emailed me the answers, so we both know that they're true.

The honor is indeed yours:

1) How did you get started writing about politics?

Actually, I started out writing primarily about bathroom-related activities, with a heavy emphasis on farts, pooping, and peeing, with the occasional segue into the world of bloody anal discharges. From there, it was a pretty seamless transition into politics, because parallels abound.

2) How did you finally come to realize that writing about politics was pointless?

At some point, I think it was around 2005, maybe a bit earlier, I realized the Internet had been hijacked by some of the craziest, most deranged, unstable, ego-inflated, preening, pseudo-intellectual butt-munchers--also known as "Prendergasts"--the world had ever seen. What's worse, they thought their political arguments and opinions were somehow new and fresh, rather than roundly rejected and debunked twaddle from years, sometimes decades ago. Worse still, their ridiculously-inflated opinions of themselves prompted them to think other people should be exposed to their thoughts and opinions. Comment engines on well-established blogs and ThunderJournals that had once been relatively dormant--or the domain primarily of friends and family--came alive with unhinged blatheratings. Then the Internet had to go and become all user-friendly, so these same douchenozzles could easily slice off their own crazy corner of the Web from which to blare their inanity, thus making the Internet, as a whole, virtually unusable.

So, I went back to writing about farts, pooping, and peeing, with the occasional segue into the world of bloody anal discharges, which I've found to be much more satisfying to write about, as well as being far more intellectually challenging.

3) Do you have a special mission?

It's more a question as to whether I choose to accept it.

However, much like my fellow hero, Bill Prendergast, I suppose you could say my mission is to breathe. And why do we breathe? I'm not sure, really, because I never studied up as much as I should have on biology, but I suppose we breathe so we can produce greenhouse gases, so we can eventually go from blaming cars to blaming ourselves directly for planetary cycles we don't even remotely understand but are guilty for regardless. Where was I, again? Oh, right, my mission. I suppose my mission is "to enter the writing game."

4) Do you remember that post you wrote about your gi-normous poop? That was awesome!

I've extolled about more than just one substantial bowel movement, and I hold each and every one in equally high regard. Every bowl-curling fecal kielbasa is a Prendergast unto itself, while the smaller ones, though less in mass, are Grace Kellys in their own right.

5) Do you have a short version of your political philosophy?

Fart, and the world farts with you. Shart, and you stand alone.

6) Why are you so freaking awesome?

For an answer, we turn once more to my fellow hero, Prendergast. In short, because I'm not Bill Prendergast, I'm awesome. Add to that my propensity for bathroom-related writing and my unshakable faith that I'll one day brush up against Salma Hayek's left breast, I thereby become "Freaking awesome."

7) Who are your heroes and why?

Ah, heroes. So many. So, so many. There's that one guy, who did that one thing for all those one-armed orphans with glaucoma. He's definitely one of my heroes. Oh, and that Rochester, Minn. kid who got into the book of world records for playing Guitar Hero. He is, by definition, a hero.

Oh, and Bill Prendergast. Any man who can drone on and on like him, seemingly endlessly in self-important and half-informed rapture, and then turn around, in kind, and list H.L. Mencken as one of his heroes, and laud him for the "way he laced into the mediocre, the vain and the deluded…there’s something we can all learn from there." Prendergast earned a Lifetime Irony Hero Achievement Award for that one.

8) Why do you write in to the Internet under your real name?

Because I started my ThunderJournal in early 2002, in the days before Google really took off, in the days when you could still be pretty forthcoming online and not worry about a potential employer "Googling" you. I often wonder how many potential employment opportunities were lost after a Human Resource researcher stumbled upon the Dirty Mushroom.

9) How about a limerick?

The heroic hero, Bill Prendergast
His self-absorption as yet unsurpassed
A bit more ego, I'm told
Would cause him to implode
Leaving Grace Kelly, standing, aghast.

10) When did you realize that your flippant comments on other blog's threads saved western civilization?

Flippant comments and derisive limericks, I discovered, shine a glaring light on obtuse commenters who take themselves way, way, wayyyyyy too seriously and who are prone to hijack comment threads with their own droning dipshittery. The result can be a far better overall comment thread that's entertaining to other, less self-absorbed commenters, thereby resulting in a rejuvenated comment thread that was in danger of being given up for boring. Much like a rejuvenated economy, a rejuvenated comment thread brings joy and optimism into people's lives, thus saving Western civilization.

11) How much feedback do you get? Do chicks throw their underwear at you often?

A chick threw her underwear at me just the other day. Unfortunately, it was my grandma.

Once in awhile, the instant messaging engine we use here at work will ping, and somebody will ask me if I'm that guy who writes at I never quite know how to respond, because on the one hand, they might just be telling me they like to read my ThunderJournal, but on the other hand they might be firing me. So far, thankfully, it's been the former.

12) What does good government look like?

Nice, long slender legs that go all the way up and really make an ass of themselves. Succulent, yet firm, boobies that lend themselves to long face burying sessions during which I hum "goooooood govvvvvvvvvverrrrrrrrrnnnnnnmennnnnnnnnnnt" over and over and over again. Also, good government would be up for the occasional Cleveland Steamer.

13) I notice that you engage in conversation and debate with opposing viewpoints quite successfully. Since my judgement on such matters is dispositive, please tell me this: how many people have you actually persuaded? When and how do people change their minds? Have you ever used these magical powers of persuasion in internet threads that most sane people avoid to get sex? With people?

I have a working theory about this. I think the space-time continuum is reliant on powerful oppositional forces: matter and anti-matter, gravity and anti-gravity, Rosie O'Donnell and sanity, etc. People, according to my theory, act as an additional conduit into the space-time continuum and are predisposed by supernatural dictate to adhere to a certain set of principles, and those principles are diametrically opposed to other principles. Should someone lose their principles through an act of persuasion, the fabric of the space would be weakened. If enough people fall to the powers of persuasion, eventually the framework of our very universe will start to fall in around us. Therefore, when you read something written by say, Bill Prendergast, and you find yourself thinking "Jesus Christmas on a pogo stick, this guy is a pompous, long-winded, wiener poopie dog humper who is pretty much always wrong," you're doing your part to ensure the continuity of the universe.

14) And finally, how about another limerick?

This "Heroes" idea spawned by Grace Kelly
Has all the trademarks of an Internet smelly
Yet I have to admit
This mockery shit
Has my stomach shaking like a bowl full of jelly.

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