In Defense of Jim Theis: Part 3 (Finally the FINALE!)

In case you've missed it all, you can read PART 1 over HERE. And then you'll need to read PART 2, which is HERE. If you slog through those, you are now worthy to read the following:

So, what have we learned from all this verbiage? First off, we really have no idea what will set Mojo off, now, do we? Starving children may rate a big ho-hum; someone's kicking puppies and a brutally casual Mojo ignores them and instead inspects her manicure (or lack thereof) while humming Broadway showtunes. But some random stranger on the internet negs a casual friend from DECADES BACK--someone Mojo has had NO CONTACT WITH WHATSOEVER since the mid-80s--and all of a sudden Mojo becomes such a hysterically obnoxious self-righteous activist she reminds you of one of those horse-crazy pre-teens who has just learned where glue comes from.

So here's the tl;dr version: Yes, EYE OF ARGON was indeed dreadfully bad, but Jim Theis has long since redeemed himself as a writer, and Mojo now demands the Innertubes stop making such fun of him. Especially since--and I was honestly sad to learn this in my research--Jim is no longer with us to defend himself. He could quite capably when he was alive, I tell you. Assuming he considered you worthy of talking to, that is; he was not above sneering contempt if that was the best way to go. But in my experience he was a Good Guy.

I thought it would be UTTERLY AWESOME to end this raving diatribe with some actual samples of Jim's writing with THE JOURNAL, so folks could read for themselves. Breathlessly I combed through the now-yellowed newsprint, looking for his byline. Guess what? Surprise, surprise. Mojo's retaining things for posterity is not as thorough as she remembers it being. The mountains of newspapers I thought I kept for my portfolio have dwindled to maybe five or six issues, and NONE of them have anything written by Jim. I've asked a colleague or two if THEY have anything from that era, but I wouldn't hold your breath waiting. It's THIRTY YEARS AGO, folks. Most of us writerly types have moved on with our lives. And that's as it should be: I mean, c'mon, if any of us were still using clips from the mid-80s in our portfolios, I'd say it would be time to rethink that whole I Wanna Be A Professional Writer goal.

I *DID* find ONE thing, however. It's from our April Fool's paper of 1983. So the story is totally bogus (as were ALL the stories in the April Fool's edition), and it happens to be written by *ME*. But that's coincidental, as is the odd circumstance that (as *I* recall the anecdote; for all we know I might be misremembering or TOTALLY LYING ABOUT THINGS as is my wont) I happened to run into the photojournalist assigned to the story in the school's Media Center. Usually I sat in my office at the paper on the other side of campus, barking orders and trying to get the staff to hate me, but once in a while they unchained me and I happened to be in the Media Center office when this photographer stopped by. He or she complained that they couldn't get anyone to do the shot--I have the vague recollection that they were young and new and didn't know people, though again I might be wrong here. Just then in walked none other than Jim Theis. Who at the time was probably Mister Senior Gonna Graduate With His Journalism Degree in a Month. (I don't remember when he graduated except to say it was a year or two before I did, and I graduated in '85.) So I say something like, "Hey, Jim, wouldya mind posing for this picture that will make you look like an idiot in front of the entire school?"

To which Jim, bless his heart, did not flinch or hesitate for a second, but gamely said, "Sure. What do you want me to do?"

"We want you exiting the elevator looking shocked and horrified."

"Okay!" He put his stuff down and followed us out into the hall. And so we got the picture to accompany the story:

Jim's Picture in the Journal

So there you go. The real Jim Theis might not have been the world's greatest actor, either, but I give him endless props for his willingness to look like an idiot when asked. (If you are so inclined, you can right-click the image and view a larger version of it, but it's more the memory I will cherish than trying to look at 30-year-old pixelated newsprint.)

I completely lost track of Jim after he graduated. Like many of us he probably worked for a while as a stringer for the Webster-Kirkwood Times (it was founded by alumni, so we were a source of cheap labor. I worked for them for about a month one summer but soon got a better-paying job somewhere else. I remember apologizing to one of the editors about quitting and he very kindly set my mind at ease with a generous "Oh, no, don't be silly: we LOVE quitters!" It is only now looking back fondly at the exchange that it begins to dawn on me that he may have meant that somewhat sarcastically. But I digress.) After he left school I lost track of Jim, until this whole EYE OF ARGON thing came up. Which brings us pretty much full circle.

Okay, I'm done.

Jim Theis, Good Guy.

The End.