History-making music group for UMM - morris mn

History-making music group for UMM - morris mn
The UMM men's chorus opened the Minnesota Day program at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (Century 21 Exposition).

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

MACA softball: sweet sweep of BOLD at home field

Image result for tiger "i love morris" brian mnFriday (5/18) was doubleheader day for MACA softball. The opponent was BOLD here in Motown. The surging Tigers scored in double digits in both games. We took the opener 10-1 and prevailed again in the second half, 12-2.
Our offense wasted no time to assert itself. Game #1 saw the Tigers erupt for nine runs over the first three innings while BOLD scored one. We scored four runs each in the first and third. We scored our ten total runs on seven hits and committed two errors. The BOLD line score was 1-4-5.
Liz Dietz got the pitching win with her five innings in the circle. She fanned four batters and walked no one, while allowing four hits and the one BOLD run which was earned. Kenna Kehoe came on to pitch two innings and she allowed no hits or runs. The losing pitcher was Taylor Sagedahl. Just four of the ten runs that Sagedahl allowed were earned. Make note of the five BOLD errors.
Emma Bowman and Liz Dietz each had two hits. Jen Solvie, MacKenzie Hockel and Karly Fehr each had one. BOLD's Brenna Weis rapped two hits. Sagedahl and Devyn O'Halloran each contributed one in the losing cause.
Bats stay productive
On to game #2: It was more of same as the Tigers assumed a big lead with a nine-run third inning. We added three in the fourth to reach our 12-run total for the game in another romp, to the delight of the home fans. Coach Mary Holmberg had to be pleased as her team pounded ten hits and committed just one error!
Once again it was Dietz sharing the pitching with Kehoe. Dietz was again the pitcher of record with her stint of three innings in which she walked no one and allowed just one hit. The ball got handed to Kehoe who continued the pinpoint control with zero walks. She fanned a batter in her two innings to polish things off. One of the two runs she allowed was unearned.
Sagedahl worked like a trooper in the pitching circle for BOLD, not able to frustrate Tiger batters much. Two of the 12 runs she allowed were unearned.
Let's look at the offense where Riley Decker had a hot bat with her three hits in as many at-bats, one a double and one a triple. Emma Bowman was a perfect two-for-two. Whitney Demaris had two hits in four at-bats. These Tigers also hit safely: Bailey Marty, Karly Fehr and MacKenzie Hockel. All in all a nice offensive show by the orange and black.
Sagedahl may have struggled pitching for BOLD but she did nicely in hitting with a home run as part of going two-for-two. Sagedahl drove in a run and scored one. Also hitting safely for BOLD were Megan Ridler, Morgan Schmitz and Emily Sheehan. The BOLD line score was two runs, five hits and two errors.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, May 21, 2018

Movie "The Post" props up, again, a troubling time

My father always said "analogies are dangerous." Many people including some movie critics assume that "The Post" has a purpose of warning us about Donald Trump and the circle around him. Having just watched the movie, I'd say no suggestion of that type was made directly. We must infer.
By buying that premise, you're suggesting that something truly dangerous is underway with Trump. I'd readily agree. But we must not assume that this is proceeding in a way hearkening to Watergate. That was then, this is now. Nixon had a long resume in government before he became president. Trump?
We cheer as the good guys win in the closing stages of "The Post." The good guys ought to win in movies, right? But the good guys don't always win in real life. Trump is not being humbled at all by the pressures appearing to come down on him. He has a Republican Party most of which continues to be deferential toward him. These are Republicans who do not recognize simple fairness, honesty and good sense. Something different is happening in our political culture and the landscape of the whole United States.
Nixon and Watergate happened in totally "analog" times. We feel particular fascination about this as we watch "The Post." Most striking is the scene where that exasperated guy is dealing with a pay telephone.
I don't recall the television news media being portrayed in the movie. But that's where most people got their daily dose of Watergate coverage. Most of them would say the coverage was "ad nauseum." No, "The Post" is quite specifically about the print media, our newspapers. Stressed reporters sit at their manual typewriters in a noisy newsroom. The top people have their dramatic little conferences in which they're quite aware of their power.
Watergate seemed less scary than what we're dealing with, with Trump. We had "gatekeepers" in the media who knew they had to be trustworthy. Tom Hanks plays a role that reveals this fully. Meryl Streep plays the newspaper owner who exudes genuine conscience. We see an actor playing Daniel Ellsberg. Ellsberg is prominent as the movie begins and then he mysteriously fades away. There is so much tragedy in the background: the tragedy of the Vietnam war. I was a little too young to really worry about the draft. I remember watching a speech on TV by Nelson Rockefeller where he proposed a draft "lottery." How about this proposal: get our young men out of Vietnam as fast and as safely as possible?
I would have liked to see The Smothers Brothers portrayed in this movie. For one thing, that would have brought in the television element. So would a portrayal of Walter Cronkite making his little editorial which seems so mild and obvious today, but was considered a turning point at the time.
Were newspapers really the hero?
Maybe it's a stereotype that the print media dominated the unraveling of Watergate. The movie "All the President's Men" reinforced the perception of the primacy of print. What of all the legal and political figures who are ubiquitous in the "Beltway" - what of their sensibilities and professional skills to try to deal with Vietnam and Nixon's excesses? They would seem to be the proper people to address the issues and protect the American people. The media only had the power to search for secrets and then report them. It worked during that epoch of U.S. history. It is not the ideal system. We cannot assume that the system will deliver again in this age of Trump. Trump is almost literally crazy. I cringe as I wonder about all the ramifications when the dominoes start falling.
"The Post" is a fresh movie, having come out in 2017. Thanks to our Morris MN Public Library for having it available on DVD.
The movie ends with a perfect segue to "All The President's Men" as we see a police officer with flashlight investigating the strange break-in at the Watergate Hotel. The fictional Forrest Gump made the phone call alerting police, remember? Seriously, what if police hadn't been alerted to that? Tom Hanks plays Ben Bradlee, executive editor of the Washington Post. Meryl Streep plays Katharine Graham, publisher.
We associate Vietnam with the 1960s but this movie is set in the early 1970s. The crux of the story is how journalists struggled to get classified material into print to reveal the debacle of the Vietnam war. Why would government lie to us about the war? I guess the CW is that government people did not want to give the impression we were "losing," just for personal vanity reasons. The perception today is that we did lose the war. Wolf Blitzer in his CNN objective reporting has said as much, directly. Brian Williams when he was the evening anchor at NBC News described the war as a "colossal mistake" in his objective reflective reporting. No bones are made about it today.
As a young child I was perplexed about Vietnam, failing to see the real purpose of it. We'd discuss it from our "World Events" posters in the elementary classrooms. That's how I learned the word "strive." There was a report about how the South Vietnam leader was "striving" to do something. I began to think the war would have no end. I came to think the same way about economic inflation. The times were so sobering, seeming to crowd out any potential for the simple joy of life and feeling optimistic. If today's kids were to step into a time machine and go back to then, they'd feel a major jolt of culture shock. They'd want to cry out in anguish over the "analog" world where they'd have to deal with the likes of pay phones. People could light up cigarettes almost anywhere. We see "the habit" in the movie.
Matthew Ryhs plays Daniel Ellsberg. Ellsberg studies the Vietnam conflict on the scene in 1966. It was in 1966 when my family had a friend in Brainerd, son of the sister of my mom's best high school friend, killed by friendly fire in Vietnam. We went to Brainerd for the funeral. Perhaps that experience left me permanently jaded, bitter and fixated on a particular conclusion about Vietnam. You know what that conclusion is. The movie shows Ellsberg becoming disillusioned after his meeting with Robert McNamara (played by Bruce Greenwood). McNamara privately feels skeptical about the war. Yet he gives a speech upon their plane landing that exudes optimism. Ellsberg seems flummoxed. Eventually he's the absolute key for the truth getting out. But what if he had not done that?
Newspapers at their apex
The movie sure gives us scenes of the print media at its peak, bundles of papers tossed onto the street with an air of drama as we appreciate the power of it all. We see newspaper employees at all levels, even the grunts in the printing facility where at one point they await dramatic word on whether to press the button to start the "press run." Today the process is so egalitarian. We're still waiting to see if that's really better.
It appears we were listening to the real Nixon tapes in this movie. The movie props up the Washington Post, naturally, but this is at the expense of the New York Times. That rap is not justified.
Journalism was my career. I probably should cheer as I watch the uninhibited heroic characters of "The Post" do their thing, while all the political and legal people of "The Beltway" apparently had no choice but to sit on their hands through it all. I am concerned about any critical juncture in U.S. history where everything depends on people (e.g. journalists) who are not per se a part of the political/legal process. Right now we appear to be depending on Robert Mueller. That is the way it should be!
I couldn't help but be reminded of those corny press guys in the movie "Airplane." The old-time newspaper people conjure up such images for parody. "OK boys, let's get some pictures." Remember that?

Investigative reporting here in Morris?
I would never have expected this: our Morris newspaper risking the ruffling of some feathers to probe into a local story of import. The story is about our medical center complex, SCMC. There has been a change of leadership at SCMC. The previous head guy, John Rau, has come back, remindful of Bud Grant coming back to coach the Minnesota Vikings, remember? Or, Father Alan Wielinski coming back to our Catholic church in Morris, because the previous guy had gotten in a spot of trouble.
Now it's our medical facility which is obviously of great importance to the whole broad Morris area. Oh, I've heard the same rumors you've heard, prompted by an apparent exodus of talented people from the staff of SCMC. They appear to be leaving in a disgruntled state. A friend quoted one of these people saying "I hated to go to work in the morning."
But for the newspaper to roll up its sleeves and get aggressive about reporting this, well let me say it's a little like the pot calling the kettle black.
All impressions right now are that SCMC has perhaps slumped because of a phenomenon familiar to us all: organizations getting too impersonal, losing the common sense touch with people - its staff. We see the bean counting mentality take over.
Our Morris newspaper has come under this influence because of being owned by the big Forum Communications of Fargo, thus the paper has been reduced in size substantially for cost reasons. And they assume there are enough suckers left around Morris who'll keep buying the paper just because it's an old habit. Ditto with advertisers who are considered "legacy advertisers." In other words they'll keep supporting things like "the beef page" and "the dairy page" even though no one gets anything out of it. Farming is corporate today and those people really don't want media around at all. But hey, let's hearken back to an earlier time, I guess.
The forces for change always push aside the past. Or do they? People are asking questions about our medical assets in Morris now. I wondered if SCMC had non-local ownership but upon checking, could find no evidence of this, although I'm sure any major medical operation has ties to non-local entities like Allina. So the local vs. non-local angle is probably not applicable here. I'm not sure what is applicable since SCMC's leadership is saying next to nothing. Make that nothing. In light of that, people can have license to speculate or to use a more earthy term, gossip.
SCMC's leadership has stonewalled the media as the media simply tries asking basic questions. Hey, who are we in Morris to want answers for how our health care is administered? It is very important that we have health care that is, if anything, better than average. Morris has limited attributes as a place to live. We are located about a 45-minute drive from recreational lakes country. We must accentuate the assets that we can cling to.
The Fergus Falls clinic/hospital has added on an elaborate, almost futuristic type of entry area that makes the place trend-setting. There is at least one volunteer at the entrance to immediately assist with anyone's needs who arrives. In Morris my experience has been that you need to go to the reception counter, where lines and waiting can happen, and get through to page a nurse or someone to come out.
The cafeteria? Well my goodness, at St. Cloud Hospital there is a spacious and wondrous dining facility with a wide variety of offerings. At Fergus Falls it's quite fine too. At SCMC, while the food might be fine, it's tiny. The whole SCMC complex really seems just utilitarian. And there's that awful entrance on the south where you go uphill and turn sharply. Finding an entrance has seemed to be an issue. When all else fails, go to the south side.
I have always been favorably impressed by John Rau who is in the Bud Grant role. He immediately strikes me as sincere and caring even if he answers to a board, and he laughs easy which is always a terrific sign! Whatever the problems are, they should not have been allowed to get this far. The community needs to rise up and ensure that SCMC's leadership is accountable.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Twelve hits, zippo errors in 11-1 MACA softball win

Tigers 11, Benson 1
MACA softball cranked it up another notch and notched another win, this time by a score of 11-1. This West Central Conference success came on Tuesday, May 15. Liz Dietz was "in the zone" and showed impact offensively and defensively. Let's look at the offense: Dietz was four-for-four and drove in four runs. As pitcher, Dietz tamed the Benson bats in this game abbreviated to five innings by the ten-run rule. Dietz struck out a batter, walked two and gave up six hits and the one Benson run (earned).
MacKenzie Kurkosky was the losing pitcher for Benson. She and Emily Miller shared the pitching work. The Tigers had the awesome line score of eleven runs, 12 hits and no errors. Benson put up 1-6-4 numbers. The lone Benson run came home in the second.
Our barrage of offense made itself felt early: five runs in the first, one in the second and three in the third. We pushed the margin up to ten runs with single runs in the fourth and fifth, while Dietz shut the Benson bats down. Dietz was complemented in the hitting department by three of her mates each of whom had two hits. Those three Tigers were Bailey Marty, MacKenzie Hockel and Whitney Demaris. Emma Bowman and Karly Fehr each added a hit to the mix.
Kaitlyn Berreau had the only multiple-hit game for Benson. Also hitting safely for the Braves were Zoe Doscher, Abby Lundebrek, Rachel Berens and Kurkosky.

Baseball: Minnewaska 4, Tigers 3
The Lakers were the victor in a hard-fought game vs. our MACA Tigers on May 15. Matthew Gruber made the difference for the victor as he pitched and hit successfully. On the mound, this Laker was overpowering much of the time, setting down eleven batters on strikes. Control was a strong suit too as he walked just one. He gave up six hits in his seven innings of work. One of the runs he allowed was unearned.
'Waska batters got to MACA pitcher Chandler Vogel for two runs in the first inning and one in the second. The difference came in the sixth when 'Waska plated the run that made the difference. Vogel was still on the hill. Vogel fanned five batters and walked five in his six innings of work. Two of the runs he allowed were unearned. The Tigers committed three errors. Vogel allowed five hits.
Our line score was 3-6-3 while 'Waska had a 4-5-1 line.
Connor Westberg went on a tear hitting for the victorious Lakers - he rapped three hits in as many at-bats and scored a run. Gruber doubled and drove in a run. Isaiah Testa had a hit and a run scored. Let's look at the MACA hitting. Here we have Parker Dierks with a multiple-hit game as he went two-for-three including a double. Parker drove in two runs. Zach Bruns had a hit and scored two runs. Jaret Johnson had a hit and a run scored. Vogel hit safely and drove in a run. Alex Daugherty went one-for-three.

Tigers 3, Hancock 0
It was Parker Dierks' day to shine as this Tiger tossed a two-hitter from the mound and drove in a run. The Tigers won this Stevens County rivalry game over the Hancock Owls 3-0 on Saturday, May 12. Dierks got the 'W' by his name by allowing just two hits, striking out six batters and walking just one. The Hancock pitchers were Gideon Joos (who took the loss) and Adam Shaw.
The Tigers scored one run each in the first, fourth and fifth innings. The MACA line score was 3-3-2 while the Owls put up 0-2-3 numbers. The two Hancock hits were by Daniel Milander and Kody Berget.
Dierks for MACA drove in a run and scored a run without getting a hit. Kevin Asfeld went one-for-three with an RBI. Alex Daugherty socked a double. Tyler Reimers added a hit to the mix.

Golfing action
It's always pleasant to visit the Minnewaska Golf Club. Minnewaska Area was awesome in the WCC affair held there on Monday. Lakers finished in the top three spots. Six of the seven top golfers were Lakers so they certainly felt pride on their home course.
Indeed, 'Waska won by 22 strokes over BOLD. The medalist was Madi McGinty. MACA took third among the seven teams. The MACA individuals were: Peyton Hennen 50, Hannah Zimmel (44), Miranda Hesse (57), Mackenzie Stahman (57), Chloe Mogaard (57) and Shayla Kill (60).
Let there be music!
I attended the grades 7-12 choir concert on May 14. Wow, what a turnout! I got nervous for a while as I wondered if I could even get a place to sit. The first three or so places where I inquired about getting a seat, I was told that seat or those seats were "saved." I started to feel embarrassed because I realized the many people behind me could see what was happening. Finally Mr. Kirwin in one of the elevated sections waved for me to come over as there was a seat available there.
Our spacious concert hall was surely justified on this night. I wonder if they could have considered two separate concerts.
I took feature photos of the choir when Mr. Kleinwolterink was here, and he's still here! What an asset he has been for the school district. I remember when a less gifted person was in charge of MAHS choir. I won't name names. It seems that back then, our board and administration were distracted by having to fix some sports problems. I told people back then, "if you really care about humanities, or other non-sports areas of school life, you'd better make sure sports is managed in a decent way, otherwise the school's leaders will get distracted having to prop up sports." The latter is what happened. Choir was like a rudderless ship for a while - some embarrassing performances - and then along came Superman John Kleinwolterink.
We had a recent controversy in music where a contract was not renewed. I know little about all that, but I found that the person in question seemed to do a decent job at the recent jazz concert. She seemed like a nice and dedicated person, so I feel sorry for her.
As for Monday's huge choir concert, it dazzled all the way through. Kudos to everyone. Barb Wilts was honored on occasion of her retirement. I remember taking feature photos for the paper of groups directed by Wilts. It is very important to keep music as a high priority. Hats off to all including Mr. Kirwin, who made sure I didn't have to sit cross-legged somewhere.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, May 10, 2018

MACA girls extend win skein as Dietz tosses 1-hitter

Image result for tiger logo pinterestTigers 10, Minnewaska Area 0
It's ten wins in a row! MACA softball is making up for lost time (lost due to the late spring) by stringing together wins. Success came by the overpowering score of 10-0 on Tuesday (5/8). On the losing end was Minnewaska. Our ten runs came on 12 hits and we committed just one error.
Liz Dietz was in command as Tiger pitcher, throwing a one-hitter at the Lakers. Michele Stai had the only Laker hit. Dietz was nearly perfect as she issued no walks. She set down three batters on strikes. Rachel Erickson was the pitcher for Minnewaska and she got roughed up as she allowed 12 hits and ten runs (all earned) in her five innings. She struck out one batter and walked one.
Dietz contributed offensively with a hit and two runs-batted-in. Bailey Marty attacked 'Waska pitching for four hits in as many at-bats. She drove in three runs and scored three. Jen Solvie and Mackenzie Hockel each connected for a double. Whitney DeMaris had a two-for-three line. Riley Decker was most in the groove, going three-for-three including a double. Decker scored three runs and drove in three. 'Waska had two errors in the field.
We finished strong with seven runs scored over the last two innings.

Tigers 11, New London-Spicer 1
Beating New London-Spicer is always a plum for MACA girls athletics, given how the Wildcats excel so often in winter. Well now it's spring. Fans at our home diamond watched as MACA went to work on a one-sided win over the Wildcats. We upped our won-lost to 9-0 with this win by an 11-1 score. Indeed, we won by "the rule" (ten-run rule).
Liz Dietz had impact as both hitter and pitcher. With the bat, Liz connected for a two-run home run in the first inning. We had quite the perfect line score: eleven runs, eleven hits and zero errors. The only NL-Spicer run came on a homer off Courtney Hanson's bat in the top of the first. NL-Spicer was limited to five hits and they committed four errors.
Dietz finished with three hits in four at-bats and drove in five runs. Jen Solvie went two-for-three including a double. Mackenzie Hockel also had two hits in three at-bats. Karly Fehr socked a double in her only at-bat. Bailey Marty, Whitney DeMaris and Abby McNally also hit safely. Five different players contributed the five NL-Spicer hits: Courtney Hanson, Katelyn Nordmeyer, Emma Hanson, Shea Oman and Courtney Caskey.
The pitching story had our Liz Dietz working all five innings and striking out two batters. She walked none and allowed five hits. The Willmar paper is so doggone stubborn: they keep referring to us as "MCA" while no one else does. It's "MACA." Whether you like it or not, that's how we are identified.

Tigers 10, Minnewaska 0
The Tigers and Lakers have gotten real familiar with each other lately. The Friday (5/4) story was a 10-0 MACA win over our rival. Here's another game where Liz Dietz was at the fore with her pitching. In this rout she had six strikeouts in her five innings, while walking no one and allowing just two hits. The losing pitcher was Rachel Erickson. The two 'Waska hits were by Meghan Cerney and Elizabeth Murken.
Standing out in our boxscore were Jen Solvie and Mackenzie Hockel, both with three-for-three numbers. Other MACA hits were off the bats of Bailey Marty, Emma Bowman, Dietz and Abby McNally. Our hit total was ten and we overcame three errors. 'Waska had no errors.
We got a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Our big inning was the fifth when six runs came home.

Girls golf in WCC meets
The Meadowlark Country Club in Melrose was the site for a West Central Conference golf meet. The Tigers of MACA placed third among the seven teams. Minnewaska Area was the top team. The meet's top individual was Madi McGinty of 'Waska who shot a 39.
Here's how our Tigers performed: Hannah Zimmel (45), Megan Kirkeide (55), Peyton Hennen (45), Miranda Hesse (46), Mackenzie Stahman (56), Chloe Mogaard (52) and Shayla Kill (66).
The Tigers vied at Greystone Golf Club in Sauk Centre in other recent action. We tied for third in this WCC affair, among seven total teams. BOLD was No. 1. Minnewaska was second, and we tied for third with Benson-KMS. The top individual was Ashley Trongaard of BOLD.
Here's the MACA roster for the day: Hannah Zimmel (48), Megan Kirkeide (56), Peyton Hennen (47), Miranda Hesse (56), Mackenzie Stahman (54), Chloe Mogaard (61) and Shayla Kill (67).
I had to straighten out some incorrect spellings of names from the Willmar paper.

Boys golf at Olivia
Our male Tigers got out on the nice green links at the Olivia Golf Club on Tuesday. Minnewaska was the champion among eight total teams, while our Tigers took fourth. Minnewaska's Isaac Burgess was top golfer with his 39 score. These Tigers did the driving, chipping and putting: Chase Engebretson (45), Brady Loge (46), Dalton Koehler (53), Brock Peterson (45), Tyler Buss (51) and Easton Hacker (47).
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Movie "Lucky" (2017) shows an unhurried universe

Image result for lucky movie poster wiki stantonThe movie "Lucky" seems a welcome reprieve from the intensity of contemporary life. Here's a charming group of people living in the most modest way, certainly unhurried. Society as a whole lunges forward as if people cannot get enough caffeine. In the old days we called it "keeping up with the Joneses."
We set increasingly high standards for determining what the good life is. We see new homes that appear futuristic compared to the typical old houses in the old residential core of your typical city. We can gain knowledge online within seconds about how we might improve our lives in some way. But in "Lucky," starring Harry Dean Stanton, the pace is assuredly slow and the standards for determining happiness most modest.
Here's this ramshackle little town in the desert Southwest. The buildings are, shall we say, utilitarian. People there would be puzzled if anyone suggested a need to upgrade. So while the world hurtles along, frantically seeking happiness through endless new wrinkles, gadgets or whatever, here's this little town where people hardly seem aware that time is passing.
People there have their routine which typically included stopping at the "diner." It's an asset all small towns ought to have: a main street diner where you walk in from the sidewalk prepared to see familiar faces and to chat a little. The conversation topics can be trivial, no matter, they are worth our attention at the time. We seemingly accomplish nothing, yet there is an essential air to such meandering. Are we simply assuring each other that life is going on as we expect it to?
The Stanton character certainly has his routine. Advancing age is certainly taking a toll on this character. So the movie makes us ponder our mortality. We see how precarious it can be for a very old person to stay at home alone. People in their 90s present few clear cut answers for those in the medical or caregiving community. Yes, hospice nurses can prescribe lots of answers for keeping a person stable and comfortable. But here's the deal: the end will come.
The Stanton character sees his doctor after experiencing a mysterious fall. Indeed, falls can be the bane of the existence for elderly people. We have nursing homes that do yeoman's work. We have "assisted care" which is an evolving concept. I read a few years back that assisted care is more of a philosophy than an established body of practice. The vain boomers eschew the concept of nursing homes, saying instead "oh, I'll just use assisted care." Sadly it's not that simple. By the time a boomer realizes the time has come to seek assistance, that person probably has issues that will call for a greater level of care.
I totally admire the doctor character in "Lucky" for his realistic approach. It's consistent with "comfort care" where the objective is to ensure that the patient can live as comfortably as possible, even if it means putting aside the most logical medical protocol. Yes, the time comes when we can no longer cure every problem. In many cases we could employ extraordinary medical measures to keep someone alive a little longer. But in hospice care, compromise is an operating principle. The patient seeks to keep his/her dignity and to even keep some autonomy, like being allowed to stay at home as "Lucky" does. The doctor tells him "I could tell you to quit smoking but I think it would do more harm than good."
The movie reminds me of the "Prairie Home Companion" movie. It made us think about death or the sheer inevitability of death. And what comes after. In spite of the speculation we hear from "Lucky," not real upbeat shall I say, we really cannot know. It's impossible.
After Lucky's fall, the movie takes a profound turn, departing from a light portrayal of this old guy and getting into the profound realm, touching on loneliness. And certainly mortality. Lucky declares there is no soul. What then does his consciousness owe itself to, because surely the old man has character and personality?
We can see ourselves in Lucky, the way we could easily end up if we dodge enough health hurdles to make it to our 90s. We hope that God is ushering Lucky along, getting him ready for what really awaits him, what I'm certain is much better than what the old man himself foresees. Maybe he has become discouraged by his failing body. His doctor says no one has ever lived forever - the body breaks down. This is the reality that hospice nurses live with every day.
Hospice nurses need a special blessing from our Lord. They know that all patients could benefit from intensive intervention. But they know that realistically, people want some sense of familiarity and continuity with their surroundings as their decline continues or accelerates. No one has lived forever. In many cases we just need someone's hand to hold. We need someone to be reassuring, helping us hang on to precious life for as long as our maker ordains. Maybe Native Americans have it right when they simply talk about "the creator."
Harry Dean Stanton himself is in "a better place" now, as his frail body in the movie was a precursor to his own end of life (on Sept. 15, 2017). His "Lucky" character was surely curmudgeonly and resigned about a bleak afterlife (if any afterlife at all). But God bless the character anyway.
I will never use the term "old coot" about anyone like that. I have had members of my own family age to where they have Lucky's frailty and failings. We ought to feel nothing but unconditional love. I am a boomer and when my generation was young, we could be so smart-alecky about elderly people as we joked about how they'd need applesauce so much etc. We joked about Branson MO being a magnet for old people. We should have been struck by lightning. We're older and wiser now.
We can see ourselves in Lucky's shoes someday. And we'll appreciate empathy like from Lucky's doctor.
"Lucky" is a 2017 film directed by John Carroll Lynch. The screenplay is by Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja. The movie has a 98 percent rating on "Rotten Tomatoes." God or "the creator" will forgive Lucky for being an atheist. I thank Anne Barber, Morris MN public library director, for suggesting this movie for me to watch.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Movie "Darkest Hour" presents neat good/evil model

"Darkest Hour" covers very familiar ground. We're leading into the most intense phase of World War II and we'd better get resolved to fight the Nazis. It was of course a worldwide conflagration. We can get the mistaken impression that all of the awful elements were connected. In fact it was not a coordinated worldwide conflict. It was surely a cauldron of misery.
We can come away with superficial impressions. Was it a clear dichotomy of good vs. evil? Were the German people all bastards who needed to be eliminated or neutered in the most miserable way possible? We all have friends of German lineage today. St. Cloud MN where I went to college has a long reputation of having a German (and Catholic) populace, although in modern times a more cosmopolitan air has set in. Most of us have probably wondered: would my German friends have broken down and become evil had they existed in the mid-20th Century?
And in England, is it really fair to remember Neville Chamberlain as this spineless disgrace of a human being? I ask the latter question in a rhetorical way because I really believe "no." Many of the profound questions of history are shaded. It is not bad to want to avoid conflict, death and suffering. Winston Churchill thought he had the Nazis figured out and reasoned his country would have to pull out all stops to resist. History has surely been kind to Churchill. Keep in mind though that he was voted out of office immediately after the war.
The people who lost loved ones in the war weren't necessarily disposed to doing lots of flag-waving after it was over. They were bitter, sad and in many cases inconsolable. The mood at Memorial Day programs in the US. today is probably more fervent and upbeat than it was in the days when the war veterans were in their prime. In that earlier time, the sting of loss could easily trump the patriotism.
"Darkest Hour" is a commendable motion picture. It doesn't teach us much because we're very familiar with the story. Any actor who plays an eccentric figure out of history is guaranteed to be an Oscar contender. Churchill the man was anything but bland. His peculiarities actually seemed consistent with a doddering older person. He was the pugnacious bulldog who I guess was needed to eschew all caution and just fight the Nazi bastards.
What was in the air?
Strange clouds arrived on the horizon for the mid-20th Century, very hard to understand. Germany was once a spirited land of poets, musicians, philosophers and scientists. Along comes Hitler and it seemed nothing but evil. A German would risk his very life to protest, but surely many of those people had to feel troubled by all that was brewing around them. Didn't the Nazi regime in fact create the SS to tamp down inclinations toward "cooling it?" Didn't the SS in fact focus on keeping the German military leaders in line, lest those leaders push for an end to hostilities?
At a certain point, Hitler and his top henchmen simply had to keep fighting. They had committed so many atrocities, they couldn't live in peace again. Other world powers would come and get them. So they fought until allied planes descended on Berlin as if they were flocks of birds (to quote a description once shared for me by a Morris MN war veteran, father of one of my high school classmates).
Chamberlain talked about "peace for our time" in a quote cloaked in total infamy. Except, it's rather laudable to try to minimize conflict and death. Pity the generation of women who gave birth to sons in about the year 1920. Think of the joy that accompanied the arrival of all their sons. Could the mothers have imagined what lay ahead for their boys? So many would die, they would become mere statistics.
"Darkest Hour" was directed by Joe Wright and written by Antony McCarten. Gary Oldman had the privilege of playing the central character. At times I thought he over-acted a little in a manner that you might see in community theater. But he's getting accolades that I cannot say aren't well-deserved. We want to cheer as we see the "good guy" political players realizing there was just no alternative to all-out war. All-out war: how many of us could relate to accepting this kind of reality? We consider our German friends of today like in St. Cloud MN and wonder if in an earlier time, they'd be our mortal enemies. The CW might be they were brainwashed. Or, maybe the economic travails after World War I with hyper inflation made them irrationally desperate. Certainly they were irrational.
And we're not even touching on Japan and the Pacific, equally as horrible a reality to confront. My father served in the Navy in the Pacific theater.

Remembering Kenneth More
As a glimpse into WWII in the time before direct U.S. intervention, I really prefer the Kenneth More (actor) movie about the sinking of the Bismarck. I found that story so gripping, compelling and realistic. It prodded my emotions. We see Bismarck sinking the Hood with a loss of life so sudden and large, those deaths are rendered a mere statistic. Finally the Bismarck gets sunk thanks to outdated "swordfish" planes and their torpedoes. The relationship between the More character and his secretary is moving.
My generation of the boomers got a raft of WWII movies in the 1960s, made in a certain way. They were sanitized to an extent. We hear machine gun fire and Eddie Albert just falls into a hole, in "The Longest Day." Veterans will readily tell you that death was slower and involved protracted pain. I think most kids in the movie theater in the 1960s knew full well what the reality of war was. We realized that war movies were a sanitized fantasy presented in the spirit of cowboys and Indians movies.
Hollywood has bent over backwards since then to make amends, as it were, and show the non-sanitized misery (e.g. with "Saving Private Ryan"). I rather miss the 1960s movies. While compromising in realism, they taught us a lot about the major events and places of the war, like "Remagen" and its bridge.
A critic who carries the banner of the late great Roger Ebert, on Ebert's ghost website, makes comments that I fully agree with. Brian Tallerico took "Darkest Hour" to task in saying it's "an acting exercise weighed down by costumes, make-up and over-lighting." He added: "There's nothing new to the approach. It feels often like an obligation - a story that someone felt should be told again and a way to get a great actor his Oscar."
Thanks to our Morris Public Library for having "Darkest Hour" available to check out on DVD.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Spring gives blessing and MACA gets going well

MACA showed command on the softball diamond in a doubleheader vs. ACGC. Finally we're into the spring diamond season. Spring has sprung! Rather belatedly of course.
Fans of the Tigers were undoubtedly in the springtime mood as they watched their team carve out two impressive wins over the Falcons. The action was at ACGC.
Liz Dietz was the winning pitcher in the 9-1 triumph. Liz pitched six innings and sat down eight Falcon batters on strikes. She walked two batters and allowed four hits. She allowed the one run which was earned.
Kenna Kehoe wrapped things up on the pitching rubber. Kenna's stint was one inning in which she gave up two hits and no runs. The ACGC pitching was shared by two: Lindsey Minnick (the loser) and Jeana Denton. Minnick could be quite sharp at times as she struck out seven batters. But she gave up eight runs, six of which were earned. She walked five. Denton pitched one inning and wasn't fooling the Tiger batters as she gave up eight hits. However she only gave up one run. (That hardly seems possible but that's how it's reported in the Willmar paper.) Denton struck out one.
Let's review the MACA hitting: Bailey Marty had a hit and an RBI. Dietz rapped a double and drove in two runs. Whitney DeMaris had two hits in as many at-bats. Jen Solvie had a two-for-three line with an RBI. Jenna Howden added a hit to the mix. Riley Decker had a double and an RBI.
ACGC's Madison Denton doubled and drove in a run. These three Falcons went one-for-three: Minnick, Brittney Schultz and Jade Bierwerth. Jordan Mortensen had a two-for-three line. The Tigers out-hit the Falcons 8-6 and fielded more cleanly, with one error compared to ACGC's three.
We pulled away on the scoreboard with a four-run sixth inning.
Tigers 10, ACGC 0
Game #2 of this twin bill showed the Tigers very much in the groove with their play, again. Jen Solvie made noise with her bat as she hit safely three times to propel the orange and black to a 10-0 win. Those hits included a home run and double. We led 7-0 after two innings. We outhit the Falcons 9-3. We were perfect in the field with zero errors while ACGC booted the ball three times.
Liz Dietz showcased her pitching arm the whole way. She pitched a shutout in this game that was shortened to five innings. She struck out four Falcon batters and walked just one. She allowed three hits. The ACGC pitching was shared by Lindsey Minnick (the pitcher of record) and Jeana Denton.
Jen Solvie had a perfect three-for-three boxscore line and drove in four runs. Bailey Marty smacked two doubles and drove in two runs. Abbie McNally went two-for-three. Liz Dietz and Emma Bowman each added a hit to the mix with Bowman's being a double. Emma drove in a run. The three ACGC hits were by Rylie Wilner, Jordan Mortensen and Brittney Schultz.
Baseball: Tigers 2, Montevideo 1
The curtain opened for a new season of prep baseball on Tuesday for Morris Area Chokio Alberta. The decisive hit was a single off the bat of Kevin Asfeld in the bottom of the eighth frame. The bases were loaded. One run came in and this was the difference-maker in the Tigers' 2-1 triumph over the Thunder Hawks of Montevideo, here.
Monte carried a 1-0 lead after five innings. But the well went dry for them, while our orange and black plated one run each in the sixth and eighth. The fielding category showed us with the advantage as we committed one error compared to four for the visitor. We outhit Monte 6-5.
Three Tigers shared the pitching work: Chandler Vogel, Trevor Voges and Brock Anderson. Anderson picked up the win with his three innings in which he fanned four batters, walked none and gave up one hit. Voges set down a batter on strikes in his one inning. Vogel picked up three strikeouts and walked two batters in his four innings of work. He gave up three hits and one run (earned).
Monte's Noah Buseman was the losing pitcher. Max Carruth also pitched for Monte and impressed with his seven strikeouts and zero walks.
Vogel was sharp at the plate with two hits and two runs scored. Joe Kleinwolterink had a hit and an RBI. Asfeld had a one-for-three line with a run batted in. Tyler Reimers and Trevor Voges each connected for a hit. Five players each had one hit for the T-Hawks: Noah Buseman (a double), Chase Korte, Max Carruth (a double), John VanRavenswaay and Seth Kuno.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com