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‘Tis the season to get drunk at the airport

Note: I’m a columnist for the Reader Weekly, an alt-weekly newspaper in Duluth, MN. Every Monday I post a new column.

The air is tense at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The long, winding security line slides along slowly, like a snake eating a baby. Bags are searched, people are studied and judged, and every personal possession is scrutinized. Castro may be dying in Cuba, but his vision is alive and well in America’s airports.

One man paces nervously, worried about missing his flight. A woman with two kids stares blankly into space, resisting the urge to beat her rotten children in front of security. Another man forgets to remove his shoes, and breaks into a sweat realizing he’s become the asshole of the line who’s making everyone else late.

Most people hate this sort of turmoil, but they don’t realize the immense joy it brings me as I watch it from the bar on the other side of the security checkpoint. This is what makes MSP the greatest airport in the country. Who cares about lousy service and poorly-managed flights? It’s the only airport I’m aware of where you can comfortably drink a beer while watching other people get molested by airport security.

Lisa gets paid to look at celebrity boobs

Note: I’m a columnist for the Reader Weekly, an alt-weekly newspaper in Duluth, MN. Every Monday I post a new column.

It’s estimated there are over 70 million blogs on the internet, with 175,000 new ones created each day, or roughly two new blogs every second. So it’s odd that my friend Lisa is one of the .000001% of bloggers who actually get paid for it. How does she accomplish this?

She writes a celebrity gossip blog. Who knew sitting at home and writing about Lindsay Lohan’s vagina could get you health insurance and a 401k? Her occupation is, shall we say, interesting.

When Britney Spears forgets to wear underpants, Lisa is there. When Miley Cyrus sends one of the Jonas Brothers a photo of her groin, Lisa is there. When the guy who played Urkel on “Family Matters” sneezes, Lisa studies photographs of every possible moment of that sneeze, and posts the worst-looking one.

It’s the perfect job for someone who loves celebrities. As luck would have it, I hate celebrities. A few years ago, another friend of mine who works at a different gossip blog offered me a writing position. I politely declined. The thought of spending literally 14 hours per day writing about who Keanu Reeves might be interested in dating, or analyzing Christina Aguilera’s fashion choices, gave my stomach the rumblings of an ulcer.

Your mom’s annual Christmas newsletter sucks

Note: I’m a columnist for the Reader Weekly, an alt-weekly newspaper in Duluth, MN. Every Monday I post a new column.

Well, it’s that time of year again! My, how time flies! The holidays are here and the Ryan family has had quite a wild ride! While it would be impossible to sum up all the important things that happened to our family this year in one small newsletter, I’ll do so in the next few paragraphs without even realizing the irony I’ve created.

The Ryan family had another delightful, action-packed year, and we thank the blind luck and occasional liberties taken on our tax filings that have brought us these blessings. My husband John is still president of a construction company in Minneapolis, our son Michael has followed in his father’s footsteps with a very successful construction management career, and I balance my time between coordinating our family and working my job at the bookstore.

Our son Paul is . . . well, as the old saying goes, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Paul has hit a bit of a rough patch over the last, well, eight years or so. If you still have our Christmas newsletter from 2001, you may remember that Paul was a journalist. He interviewed important people, wrote compelling stories, and was a well-respected and contributing member of the community.

Now our son is a 29-year-old temp who fetches coffee for entertainment industry people who most of the country thinks should be put to sleep. Sigh. At least he doesn’t work for AIG. Not yet anyway, though disappointment always seems to be the ripest fruit on his tree.

Paul doesn’t have a girlfriend, his apartment uses a packing box as an end table, and he only owns three forks. What if a fourth person comes over? It’s a disaster waiting to happen! Paul! Stop killing your mother!

I will not throw out this cranberry sauce

Note: I’m a columnist for the Reader Weekly, an alt-weekly newspaper in Duluth, MN. Every Monday I post a new column.

Don’t touch it! I’m going to eat it. I don’t care if Thanksgiving was a week ago. No, don’t throw it out! I’m going to eat it. If you throw it in the garbage, I will fish it out and put it back in the fridge. Someone has taken the time to make cranberries gelatinous by melding them with eight times their weight in sugar, and I won’t let such beauty go to waste.

Is there anything more American than leftover canned cranberry sauce? It’s terribly unhealthy and almost entirely composed of sugar, yet it can still be claimed as a fruit. That’s pretty American. It sits on the shelf for months in an unrefrigerated tin can, and then gets plopped out onto a dish with the grooves from the can still visible. Those welts from the can count as decoration.

The fact that it’s leftover also ensures that it will eventually be wasted. Our ability to deem certain foods as inferior and worthy of rotting in a dumpster also personifies our collective view of poor people, but that’s a different discussion. I don’t think any pretend fruit encapsulates our country’s spirit – good or bad – more than cranberry sauce.

Let’s start a literary feud

Note: I’m a columnist for the Reader Weekly, an alt-weekly newspaper in Duluth, MN. Every Monday I post a new column.

My friend Aaron Brown has completed his first book, “Overburden: Modern Life on the Iron Range.” As a fellow writer, I despise him greatly for this achievement, and take his completion of a book as a personal insult to me. Add the fact that Aaron is a half year younger than me, and my rage only intensifies.

When I graduated from college, I assumed I would be the first person from my class to write a book. Naturally, I also assumed I would complete said book at the age of 47, like the other one percent of aspiring writers who actually follow through with their efforts. This is how books have always been written. You come up with an idea, write six pages, and then throw the project in a closet for 28 years until you have a midlife crisis.

People under the age of 40 can’t write books. They just can’t. The level of patience and maturity needed to complete such a massive undertaking is not in the blood of the young. Only a middle-aged person with no friends, little social life, and a disdain for all modern amenities should be able to finish a book, and when they do, they should under no circumstances actually be successful in publishing it.