You’re halfway there, Variety

By Mabel Doge Luhan

If you’re going to do something, it’s always better to complete the mission, instead of just stopping halfway. 

Consider my two most virile falcons, Genghis Khan and Gustavus Adolphus. For Guy Fawkes Day, I had strapped advanced laser-guided materiel to their precious little bodies and sent them to bomb Hamas missile facilities in Gaza. It was my own little Gunpowder Plot! I DO NOT CONDONE CIVILIAN CASUALTIES BUT HAMAS IS ABOUT AS CIVILIAN AS SOUTH CAROLINA HAS ONLY ONE GAY SENATOR. 

I was eagerly watching my Al Jazeera Premium for any news of the falcon strike. And I saw nothing, then nothing, then nothing! Although I did catch a glimpse of my beloved Omar Borkan al Gala, who was literally deported for being too handsome. I’ve been sending him gift cards on Facebook Dating, but that’s a different story!

In regards to the missing falcons, my batman sent the chase drone, and I learned that Gusti and Genghi, during their planned refueling stop at a cute little dhaba in Karachi, had used my Diners Club card to rent a room overlooking Clifton Beach. They’d retreated to that room, thrown their armaments aside, and spent the past week performing unnatural acts! 

I am all for making love, but only after you’ve already made war! I have sent Gusti and Genghi an EDUCATIONAL FILM about the Sacred Band of Thebes, and hope their performance improves forthwith!

What I am saying is that reaching the halfway point of your mission isn’t even half as useful as accomplishing the whole shebang. Sure, Pakistan is halfway from Saipan to Hamas, but what good is that to anybody but Nawaz Sharif? Going halfway isn’t even really going quarter-way, if you think about it.

So yes, the Marianas Milquetoast has been greatly improving, ever since being subjected to MY DAILY MOCKERY in Troy Torso’s muckraking news-paper, Candid Camera. Troy said if I write fifty more columns making fun of Bryan Manabat, I’ll get to meet Allen Funt!

Well, I may not meet Allen after all, because Manabat is now nowhere to be found. The lack of Manabat’s comically illiterate verbal circumlocutions is a big improvement in itself. You could have been a better newspaper by just leaving that as blank space, or printing The Family Circus instead.

And the crew Manabat left behind him has been improving greatly. And I mean greatly.

Roberto’s two recent articles, “Higher Taxes Mean Higher Prices,” and “No One Likes Expensive Things,” are one example. Andrew has long been the most professional reporter at Saipan’s Most Orally Generous Newspaper. Some days, it seemed he was their only reporter with more brain power than a sugared titiya. And these new articles are good, because unlike what the Variety usually prints, they show actual thought and creativity. Which is normally not asking much, but compared with what the Variety used to put out (I said what, not how easily!), it is a lot indeed.

And even the bread-and-butter everyday articles, the ones about somebody busted for meth, are a lot better than they used to be. Look at Eradiano’s “Woman arrested at Rota airport for drug trafficking.” It states facts. It doesn’t get any of them wrong. And it’s blissfully free of availing, turning turtle, falling suspects, and male individuals. This is an improvement.

But look: you’re not there yet, Variety. You’ve gotten to Karachi, but that’s only halfway to your mission goal of being an actual functional newspaper. Being grammatically competent and having factual content is good, and it’s an improvement, but it’s not enough for being a newspaper. It hasn’t been enough for a newspaper since elementary school.

Because who exactly is surprised to hear that higher taxes mean higher prices, or that no one likes (to pay for) expensive things? Who’s going to walk by, drop their jaw when they see that headline, and steal — or maybe even buy — a copy of your newspaper because they so badly want to read it? When you’re only quoting business owners and your research is no deeper than seemingly walking into some stores or calling some wholesalers, who’s going to thank you in their prayers for giving their concerns a voice they’d never had?

How about you get some ovaries, and ask people on the street how they’d like to pay more for their pugua? Get out your calculator and try to estimate how much more one pack might cost if that tax goes through. Come on: this is grade-school math. Ask them what they’d like to say to the lawmakers who want to push through the tax increase. Even ask them whether they’d agree to see government layoffs if it means no pugua tax.

You used to do these “street interview” pieces when gas prices went up, and everyone you talked to lamented their gas costs rising 50% when the price of gas went up 2%. You weren’t scared of doing those interviews, because pointing out high gas prices won’t anger anyone in power. But grow some ovaries and run articles like that about some proposed laws. Even if the people who support those laws are “ranking officials.” We have free speech laws for a reason, and they’re not for another fawning advertorial about another barbecue stand.

And Zaldy, seriously, are you just going to keep munching on your Snickers bars and writing the same editorial every week for the next twenty years as well? We get it: you don’t like taxes, and you don’t think the government can accomplish anything. Nice. Great. Do you have any other opinions? Or is it going to be the same editorial next week as well, and the week after that? And if really the only opinion you have is that you don’t like taxes and government can’t accomplish anything, maybe the Variety needs an editor with a more nuanced view of the world. And who’s maybe even read a book published in this current century, rather than the well-preserved 1950s social science you keep trotting out like Seabiscuit.

Why are you reprinting all that right-wing garbage in the back pages of your paper edition? Who reads it, and more importantly, who benefits from it? No, I don’t own your newspaper, but you don’t either.

Maybe you or your ownership should have a thought about allowing your comments section to become a gathering place for people suffering from mental illness who don’t even live in the CNMI. Ever wondered why they post this stuff in the Variety? Because their home newspapers would never allow the dangerous misinformation, hate speech, Bitchute links, and unhinged and completely irrelevant conspiracy theories that this small group of folks posts day in and day out in your comments section. You don’t even have enough basic compassion to cut them off and tell them to get help.  Make your reporting the most vibrant thing in your newspaper — don’t count on your commenters’ mental illnesses to give you something interesting to print.

How does that feel, to read this kind of raking over the coals? No matter how you feel, your newspaper has improved because of it. 

And if you rake the CNMI government and its power barons over the coals the same way I’ve been raking you over the coals, we’ll get somewhere. That’s the goal ultimately, isn’t it? In a world where sending Gusti and Genghi to drop munitions on corruption is illegal, you, The Press, are our only hope.

Unless, as Zaldy implies in his editorials, you’re all nihilists, and nobody should do anything because no one can do anything — but then why is any of you collecting a salary? Especially since it would be trivially easy to get ChatGPT to rewrite The Zaldy Editorial every week, and reword and print some press releases.

As for me? ChatGPT will never replace me. It’s not loopy enough, and it can’t beatbox worth shit.


Mabel Doge Luhan is a woman of loose morals. She resides in Kagman V, where she pursues her passions of crocheting, beatboxing, and falconry.


  • Joaquin Olopai Romolor

      11/14/2023 at 12:48 AM

    its one thing to help people but its another thing to suppress the truth from your local people and your local businesses to push for propaganda news for your organization or corporation its useless.
    people demand transparency, accountability and responsibility from their US news reporters 24/7.
    You cannot allow outsiders like Mvariety or Saipan tribune to make up their own narratives. nope. not on our tiny islands real life corruptions, the truth is you cannot suppress the truth no matter what.

  • The MVariety is a complete joke, beside being bias and in most cases any real news put out is from a news release that employees attach their name to. It would seem that the owners an editor are all Ralphy minions. There are no actual reported let alone any journalist.
    In the past over the year there was a lot of articles that concerned Filipino in many areas around the world in recent years there is not even that.
    Tribune has more varied daily articles and for the most part well articulated with details. Even as they are lacking as reporters or journalists.

  • I can’t even read this drivel. It’s nonsensical. Maybe the following friendly reminder from High School AP English can help your writing style: Write like every word will cost $1000 to print and you’ll reduce your nonsense to more palatable levels. You talk about grammatically correct writing; however, you rarely practice this. I wish you would take some of your own medicine and trim this junk down into something understandable. Your last 2 columns read like a senile old woman contemplating her demented world with a steady string of word salad gibberish…oh wait!!!

    • Mabel Doge Luhan

        11/16/2023 at 5:22 PM

      That’s the very point, whippersnapper! I AM a (slightly) senile SENIOR CITIZEN (MANAMKO) woman ranting about her indeed quite DEMENTED world. I’ve never taken AP English (in my day it was AP Old English) and I don’t bill myself as a newspaper reporter. Unlike the Variety’s “reporters,” I don’t have REPORTER next to my name and I don’t draw a salary: I don’t keep any of the millions of Susan B. Anthonys my columns must bring in for Candid Camera.

      I don’t have to be a newspaper reporter to know what’s good and bad. Not any more than I have to be a musical virtuoso to appreciate The Lawrence Welk Show, nor a chef to refuse to eat at Himawari, nor a half-baked ALLEGED criminal to despise Magalahi Rafet. Although it’s been DECADES since I’ve had my word salad tossed. HMU!

    • Joe Bidumb

        11/16/2023 at 5:40 PM

      I would have to agree with you, reading her tripe is an exercise especially considering where she is posting from. You also have to ask if Mabel is “projecting” her own shortcomings on the Marianas Variety? And why would she even care about what commenters post on another media source? Almost sounds like she has some type of agenda. Just curious who died and left her in charge of evaluating and critiquing the islands media?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *