Skip to content

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas in Duluth

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

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through Duluth
not a creature was sober, not even the youth.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
comatose from the NyQuil they’d been force-fed.

Mother passed out at the foot of the stairs.
Father slumped on the porch in his underwear.
Grandpa’s still at the bar, screaming about Hispanics,
while grandma’s in Superior blowing an auto mechanic.

But out on our lawn there arose such a clatter,
I awoke in the kitchen, where I’d been eating pancake batter.
Away to the window I stumbled with my drink,
tore open the shutters and threw up in the sink.

The moon on the breast of my spew-covered face
made me look like Herb Bergson in his hour of disgrace.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but newscaster Dennis Anderson, and eight growlers of Fitger’s beer.

News Tribune Prep Columnist of the Year: Paul Ryan

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

Throughout this entire journalism season, the Reader Weekly’s Paul Ryan was drunk. In the morning, early afternoon, and late in the evening, the columnist was consistently inebriated, even while sleeping.

Drunk, drunk, drunk.

Whether writing love letters to his own buttocks or crying about how he cut himself on a piece of toasted bread, the influence of alcohol has always been clear to Ryan’s readers. It is the lifeblood of his column, and the sole reason anyone reads the tripe he writes.

There wasn’t a single column Ryan wrote this year while sober, yet every piece of writing was still submitted to his publisher on time. This amazing feat is why Ryan is our choice for the News Tribune’s Prep Columnist of the Year award.

“My cologne is made from walruses! I keep all my sexy in the front of my pants!” shouted Ryan before tumbling down the stairs at the Duluth News Tribune offices, knocking himself unconscious as we tried to present him with our annual award for column writing.

Your family Christmas card sucks

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

The first week of December is a weird time to get a Christmas card. It’s like receiving a Valentine’s Day card in the third week of January. Early Christmas cards cheat me of holiday spirit by delivering it when I couldn’t possibly give less of a crap about the festivities.

Holiday cheer is like a woman’s libido. You can’t just flip it on like a switch; it needs to be warmed up gradually over time before the person is actually in the mood. The holidays are no different. Sending me a card on December 1 is like Christmas rape, with the card sender forcing me to be in the mood before I’m interested.

I can understand sending holiday party invites early. Receiving one right after Thanksgiving is appreciated because it gives extra notice and makes my schedule easier to coordinate. But what is the purpose of sending a Christmas card three weeks early? Is it a race? Does the earliest card win a prize? Are you sending multiple cards, this one with lighthearted holiday cheer and another right before Christmas that gets all Jesusy and obnoxious? Or are you just a douche?

Starting next year, every Christmas card I receive before December 14 will be mailed back to the sender with critiques on how much better the card could have been if they had spent a little more time on it.

Regrowing my Walmart hymen

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

I haven’t set foot inside a Walmart in a decade. I refuse to. I don’t care about low wages, the destruction of small businesses, or the weight and girth of their other customers. I hate the company because I used to work for one of their stores. The last time I saw the inside of one was in 1999, when I ditched out halfway through one of my shifts, never to return again.

I was a college student working a summer job at Sam’s Club, a Walmart-owned warehouse club. It was the worst gig I’ve ever held in my history of employment, and that includes the three months I spent as a telemarketer and the six months I spent as a construction laborer cutting open pipes full of live cockroaches.

The problems started about a month after being hired. I entered the employee break room at lunch to find dozens of tiny comic books covering the tables. They were created by a local church to inspire kids to stay off drugs. Equally bored and intrigued, I read one.

The comic told a heartwarming tale of a teenage boy who, when coerced by friends, tried smoking marijuana. He very quickly became addicted to marijuana, as people are apt to do, and robbed a neighbor’s house at gunpoint to get money for more marijuana, as people are also apt to do. His violent, uncontrollable rage – a common side effect of pot smoking – caused him to murder the homeowner in the process.

A list of things I find disappointing

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

Today is Thanksgiving, or possibly later than Thanksgiving. I can’t be positive of the date, because our publisher’s drinking problem has been ramping up again, and until we find out which ceiling vent he has made his temporary home, the printing will have to wait.

His antics certainly keep things interesting. Last week, after downing one-third of a bottle of Apple Pucker, he refused to approve the college credit forms for our interns, and instead paid them in kisses. They accepted, but only because the flavored liquor made his kisses delicious. I guess what I’m really trying to say is everyone who works here has serious problems.

Regardless, Thanksgiving is upon us, and while I greatly enjoy the turkey and fixings, I’m still annoyed that this great feast comes at the cost of having to listen to people blather on about things for which they’re thankful. I despise this tradition, and find it to be a health hazard to sarcastic pessimists like myself. Last year, the person sitting next to me at Thanksgiving dinner had so much good cheer that I developed a nosebleed. I bled through three full napkins, and the gushing didn’t stop until his statement about how much he loved all of us was over. I nearly bled to death.