Every so often, I turn this column over to you, dear reader. I think it's worth sharing with everyone the love and hate you bestow on me in equal measure.
Hell with it. Why lie at this point?
I've caught some awful bug, and the very act of typing this is causing my face to break out in a toxic sheen of flu sweat. I feel like that guy at the end of Stephen King's "The Stand." I'm an oozing, fevered vector, ready to temporarily ruin the lives of anyone who brushes against me.
So here are a few notes, e-mails and bizarro scrawls I've found on bathroom walls directed at me. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. My replies follow.
I've held off writing this for quite a while, but read an article this morning on the proposed increases in speeding tickets. I checked the b(y)line and saw it was yours. Well-written. Now ... here's my point. I have not read your weekly Tempo article — Night Crawler — because your photo is a TOTAL turnoff to pursuing further what you've written.
What is with that photo? Is this photo the result of a bet you lost, hence this photo? I am not the only reader that has been pushed away from reading that weekly article — just because of that really stupid photo. Yes, that is my opinion, but I think there are many more with a similar impression ... I know I should be a "bigger" person and get past this. Please, PLEASE propose a different photo.
Thanks ... from a hopeful, potential reader.
Katharine! That was very presumptuous of you to assume that is not my true face attached to my column. Imagine my hurt feelings. Yes, I might not be the prettiest man, but I've made the best with what I've been given by the Almighty.
In my younger days should I have left alone the King Cobra, the smack and the meth? Yes. But a stint in the Joliet Correctional Facility in the late '90s for various offenses that have required me to permanently register with state websites turned me around and showed me the error of my ways.
Honestly, I don't think I look that bad, all things considered. My false teeth and partially reconstructed nose and left cheek have returned me to 80 percent of my former glory.
And if people refuse to read me because of how I look, that's their loss.
And on to ... Santa Claus!
Chris, I was very offended by something you wrote in your last column. I think it's doing society a great harm by writing, "Since learning Santa Claus was an empty lie foisted upon children to turn them into automaton consumers, I rarely look forward (to) any specific date on the calendar." I have legally changed my name to Santa Claus and have a charity website that does good works for millions of people.
You have a problem with me, fat man, then you come and see me at 111 N. Fir St. in Medford, Ore., and we can have a little discussion in the back parking lot. Oh, I guess you already know where I live and work, being Santa Claus and all.
In fact, one of the reasons I started this column was to draw creeps like you out into the open.
But for argument's sake, let's say you really are Father Christmas. I stand by everything I said and more. Nice work introducing our kids to the appeal of cheap, plastic crap, filling them with a need that they'll spend their entire, empty lives trying to satiate.
I got no love for you, Santa. And you're one fictional bubble I intend to pop for my children as soon as they can stand up and point to something shiny and new.
And on to my screed about the National Championship game.
You sound like just another upset Ducks fan. Newton was not the whole team. Their defense was just too much for the Ducks. I figured out why they don't make their names legible on the back of their jerseys. Most of them are wanted by the law, so a lot of them wouldn't be able to play because they'd be in jail.
The jersey thing was a low blow, Randy, but funny nonetheless.
I received much reader ire for my college football column, which I thought strange because I tend to root for the Ducks and the Beavers. My alma mater in Illinois rarely fields a competent football team, so I latch onto the Oregon teams most years.
Usually, I pull for the team that has the best chance to win it all, or at least beat the best SEC team.
Randy and I came to an understanding after trading a few e-mails. I hope this clears the air for the rest of you.
And finally to women's roller derby.
Which team do you like best: Southern Oregon Rollergirls or the Sis-Q Rollerz?
I smell a trap. This e-mail obviously was a plant by one of these two roller-derby teams to learn my true allegiance. Not going to work. And why would I open myself up for such punishment? I envision a scenario where I am walking to my car in the dark parking lot after work and finding it surrounded by 20 enraged, roller-derby girls. What would the cops tell my mother?
Cop: "Sorry ma'am, your son was beaten to death."
Mom: "Oh dear! Who did it officer?"
Cop: "Well, it was a team of roller-derby women angry at something he wrote."
Mom: "Oh. Somehow that doesn't surprise me."
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.