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).

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Trump's offenses continue but toward what end?

Jim Carrey's masterful portrayal of Donald Trump
The Forum-owned West Central Tribune of Willmar had a headline that instantly grated on me Thursday. It was a banner across the top of the front page: "Trump works to keep immigrants together." Right under the headline was a color photo of a decisive-looking Trump speaking in our very own state of Minnesota, in Duluth. Trump comes off as rather a hero, never mind that his "solution," questionable on its face, was for a problem of his own making.
The Forum newspaper chain has a long background of supporting Republicans. They'd probably claim they make occasional exceptions to that. Those stuffed shirts endorsed Amy Klobuchar when she first ran. I'd cynically (but accurately) point out that the Klobuchar endorsement was "convenient" because the company had nothing to lose. Polls showed clearly she was going to win. She was generally well-liked. She was certainly well received here in Morris for the recent UMM graduation.
The Forum endorsements are worth examining because all the papers in their system must echo from the top. It almost seems quaint thinking of newspaper political endorsements. Seems out of another age. Newspapers were not exactly lined up to endorse Donald Trump. Why not? The electorate eventually chose the man, albeit with a little help from scheming Russians.
So beaten down is the Mueller probe from the likes of Fox News and Devin Nunes, we must wonder if we can adequately grapple with the Russian threat. We hold our breath each day as Mueller keeps crawling toward the finish line, amidst a cacophony of hostile and disrespectful voices from the likes of Fox and Nunes. We'd like to see the dam break and for the forces of objectivity and fairness break through, those voices who feel it's important we retain a strong and independent law enforcement apparatus. The problem appears to be, increasingly, the cult of personality surrounding Donald Trump. Here's a man with no previous experience in government or the military, a man with a sheer gift for powerful if misleading oratory.
I sensed that "gift" and the threat it represented during the campaign. He's like the salesman who looks you in the eye and can convince you he really can connect with you and care about you. There were 17 candidates for the Republican presidential nomination. Trump had the gift of making himself stand out, no doubt about it. He clearly knew how to navigate today's crowded media waters.
How different is the media landscape today? I remember well the 1968 and 1972 election seasons when there were no presidential debates. Not even in the primaries. Nixon vs. Humphrey? Nixon vs. McGovern? It didn't happen. Nixon did show savvy with those carefully orchestrated "infomercials" (in the days before that term was coined) that included Bud Wilkinson (the fawning football coach). So Nixon was media savvy for his times. But those times did not include the kind of debates that go on absolutely ad nauseum today. The cable TV news networks are complicit. My, how the debates dragged on and on. The cable networks liked these, I'm sure, because they got higher ratings than anything else they could put on.
The candidates? Did all 17 GOP candidates really think they had a legitimate shot? Oh I don't think so. Whenever I see Ted Cruz, I imagine him masturbating in his college dorm room. Many of these candidates knew they could parlay their high profile as "candidates" into productive gigs down the road. They could churn out books and go on the lecture circuit. Meanwhile us Americans watched in rather a groggy state of mind, as surely there was nothing new to be learned after the first couple of debates. Hell, after the first debate. Panels got assembled on cable news, day after day to hash through the redundant rhetoric.
It all made the election process seem so weighty. In a sense it is, if you consider how politics can affect our day-to-day lives. So we should be concerned now if inflation is on the horizon as a result of Trump's tariffs and the impending trade war. Trade wars can turn into shooting wars. We hear the tariffs are needed to ensure a solid steel industry in case we get into a war. Only male candidates would speak in these terms. Men get mad and seek to intimidate others as with the Trump aide's comment about how "there's a special place in hell" for the Canadian prime minister. I just think Trump is jealous of the Canadian guy's youthful handsomeness. Stormy Daniels said she did not look forward to having sex with Donald Trump.
Men inflame conflict. Could you imagine World War II happening if women were in place as leaders around the world? The danger signs are now getting so apparent with Trump, none other than George Will, once the consummate conservative intellectual, is recommending voting against the GOP. He actually advises - gasp! - to vote Democrat. That's how loud the alarm bells are ringing.
Trump with his policies have hurt many of his very supporters. He tried convincing everyone he'd "make America great again." His rhetoric on the surface was impressive. He had the salesman's touch, or shall I saw reality TV star touch, to stand out from among the crowded field of GOP candidates. Chris Christie? You've got to be kidding. I never ruled out Trump winning. He didn't truly win in the sense he lost the popular vote. A vote cast in Wyoming has eleven times the impact of a vote in California. That's our electoral college system.
Shall we be whistling past the graveyard? The demonizing of Hillary Clinton was a subtle and devious process. Clinton would clearly be governing from the middle today. She no doubt would have many "quiet" days in which she'd feel no need to be at the top of the news cycle. Wouldn't we all breathe a sigh of relief about that? About a president who could quietly go about her business without an air of sensation? Without trying to poke in the eye all real and imagined adversaries, the way Trump insulted mark Sanford after Sanford's loss. So, Trump lodged that insult with an eye toward Sanford's marital infidelity? As if Trump were pure as the driven snow. Obviously Trump is the polar opposite of pure as the driven snow. And yet the more we learn about the lecherous nature of this man, the more we see "evangelicals" stick with him.
What kind of world have we now entered? Can we overcome this without some sort of cataclysmic disaster? Maybe we can, as we all scrutinize our lives to see if we're "really better off" which is the measuring stick for politicians. It's analysis at the micro level. Unless we stand idly by as a narcissistic and overreaching president plunges forward.
Forum Communications of Fargo did not actually endorse Trump for president. Maybe all of
Trump's mesmerized backers should now cease purchasing Forum products. Why was the Forum averse to Trump? Wasn't he the Republican nominee? And the Forum couldn't bring itself to endorse Clinton either. They let us decide on our own, I guess. Not a shining example of leadership.
We wait day by day to see if there will be a mass exodus away from Trump's circle. We have been through various stages where this could have happened, like after Charlottesville. Each time the concern fades, for some reason. Should we be surprised there is a new chapter of outrage with the migrant kids? I shudder as I suspect that this, too, will fade. Unless I'm suddenly pleasantly surprised.
I don't think even Bud Wilkinson would be interested in going on TV with Trump. Seriously, if we detach from the current mess, shrugging as it were, and allow a whole class of people to be dehumanized, what might happen next? Were it not for Godwin's Law, I could offer a chilling analogy. That law might have to be suspended.
Might we see Forum Communications follow the example of George Will?
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Alexandria MN has an allure for us Morris folks

The sun sets at Lake Latoka, my favorite Alexandria lake.
I remember reading an item in the UMM student newspaper, many years ago, wondering why "Alec" was such a popular shorthand for Alexandria. Why not "Alex?" I had never thought about this. References to Alexandria are common in Morris.
We're probably a little too far away from that hub community to risk having our whole business district circle the drain. That fate has apparently been experienced by Hector, located a half hour's drive from a cluster of big box stores. We're about 45 minutes from "Alec," right? These days, be aware of detours out and about. I'd advise just staying away from Glenwood. The Lowry route is rather agreeable.
We can all compile a list of one-time prominent Morris residents who moved to the Alexandria area. Are we to be envious of them? Do they sense that the good life is more attainable there? The lakes are certainly a magnet, although I've never considered those lakes as nice as those in the Brainerd area. I heard when young that all lakes in our part of the state present some risk for "lake itch." The risk may not be a constant but it's there. I remember coming out of the lake after a swim session by Starbuck, only to see a sign advising people not to swim that day. Maybe I took a hot shower as soon as I got home. I had no problems.
Brainerd was the hometown of my recently-deceased mother. I got spoiled with my experience at the Brainerd area lakes, what I would call God's country. It was mainly at Pelican Lake where Breezy Point is.
Just yesterday (Friday) I made the trip to Lake Latoka by Alexandria. There's a nice public swimming beach there. It isn't real big but it's big enough. I discovered the place many years ago thanks to a map of Alexandria. Sans map, it would be impossible to find the place even if you were on the right road. You take the road that goes past Viking Speedway and the fairgrounds. You then have to know the precise place to turn left, then you take a right and go a block or so, and you're there. I brought a lawn chair to capture the sun's rays sans sunscreen, as I am a boomer who when young saw it as a status symbol to get a nice rich tan in summer.
It was mostly all kids out in the water. I find it important to get that occasional splash in the lake, most likely because of my childhood experiences in Brainerd. I went fishing with my father.
My mother has been gone from this existence for nearly two months. Going to "Alec" as a pleasure trip was not something I could consider toward the end when she was alive.
On Thursday night I attended the open house for that big factory-type dairy operation between Herman and Wheaton. Quite impressive. And the food was good. It's interesting to see some people who I may not have seen in a very long time, like Pastor Bock, formerly of Zion Lutheran in Morris. I had binoculars in the car because on the way home, I wanted to stop at Niemackl Park south of Herman. It had been a long time since I walked those trails. Niemackl presents such an anomalous environment by the standards of the general Morris area. We're fundamentally flat prairie. The rich forest environment of Niemackl with bodies of water is a departure. It's known as a birdwatching hotspot. I have been there more than once with this as my primary aim.
The results? Indeed, one can be surrounded by the sounds of abundant birds. But I have found it difficult to identify individual birds. I do remember seeing a beautiful American redstart once. I have heard that scarlet tanagers can be spotted there, if you're lucky. There's a YouTube video shot at Niemackl that shows a solitary muskrat in winter taking care of its daily business. I put bug spray generously on my ankles before going on the trail. Wood ticks can be an issue. But I recommend an outing there for everyone.
How wonderful if my mom could still be alive. But life is a finite quality for all of us. We try to solve every little problem as it comes along. But as the doctor said to the "Lucky" character (Harry Dean Stanton) in the movie "Lucky": "I don't know of anyone who has lived forever. Eventually the body breaks down." I recommend that movie which I checked out at our Morris Public Library, on recommendation of Anne Barber.
My forays to "Alec" clearly show me how the world is changing. There is a high-tech soda dispenser at the Burger King restaurant that intimidates me. One time it asked "are you still there?" I'm a 63-year-old who is forced into adjusting by all the changes and advancements around us. There is an intersection heading out of Alexandria, toward Glenwood, called a "roundabout." I'd put that in the same category as the robotic soda fountain. I'm a little taken aback. A friend tells me "these are strange to navigate the first time." OK, so I'm not alone. I thought the detours were disconcerting enough. My friend attributes the oddball intersection to "liberal Americans thinking we should be like Europeans."
"Alec" gets choked by traffic this time of year. I'm reminded of an old quip from the late Walt Sarlette of Morris: "Don't these people have homes?" I have never felt comfortable in very thick traffic. But, one thing that really helps today is the prevalence of left-turn lanes with left-turn signals. Horrors if it were not for this.
 
Mall in Alexandria on its last legs?
But my biggest shock upon visiting Alex now is this: the death spiral of the shopping mall. Who could have ever foreseen this? We're even reading in the Alexandria paper about a possible "sheriff's sale" of the mall. Over the years, when my parents and I considered a trip to Alexandria, the whole idea was to visit the mall, Viking Plaza Mall. It was the whole reason for going. We'd eat at the Brass Lantern. We'd browse and see familiar faces. I had to check out the bookstore, now closed.
There are at present two bookstores on Alex's main street. But the mall cannot sustain one. Where can I now buy "America's Civil War" at the newsstand? Not downtown, because I asked.
Main street of Alexandria seems very alive with rows of specialty shops, so many I can hardly make note of all of them as I walk along. Good for downtown Alexandria. But I consider the mall experience more user-friendly. Am I right to consider downtown Alexandria to be re-vitalized? My friend tells me no, that's misleading. He refers to "all those little foo-foo shops" as being practical to run in the summer tourist season, not so much otherwise.
I cannot fathom why Viking Plaza Mall if dying. Popular theories include people's preference for Amazon and other online vehicles for shopping. Are we ready to jettison the social experience of shopping, the ambience etc.? "The future is not bright for small businesses," my friend says. Maybe I should have a little talk with that soda dispenser.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Non-anglo athletes were once out of mainstream

"Chief" has a pejorative ring to it, were it to be applied to a Native American today. It's a moniker taken from old Saturday matinee movies. Remember the "Indians" out of Three Stooges shorts? I really don't take offense to that because the whole premise of those shorts was to be ridiculous. Those "Indians" who were really just white guys, were along for the ride in all the pathos. Was it denigrating to gorillas, to have that gorilla in the obvious mothball-smelling gorilla suit with The Three Stooges?
There is acceptable parody and then there is mean-spirited parody. Johnny Carson's "Aunt Blabby" seemed to walk the line between the two. I remember hearing that some people found "Aunt Blabby" disrespectful to old people. But then I also remember a spokesman for a senior citizens group saying "knock it off, it's an amusing character." Remember how "she" would fawn over Ed McMahon? I was in the camp of finding Aunt Blabby quite harmless and funny. She had the outward qualities of an old person like gray hair and a cane (which she wielded menacingly!) but really, many elderly people of today would be thankful being as physically healthy as this character was.
I remember the Minnesota Twins baseball player named Mark Salas. He picked up the moniker "Chief." The Jumbotron would flash "Chief" as he came to the forefront. Researching the man today, I cannot find a reference to this. I think I know why. The moniker was pejorative because Salas was not in fact a Native American. Isn't the more precise term today "indigenous person?" Isn't Columbus Day now transformed into "Indigenous People Appreciation Day" in some cities (good idea, I think). Well, Salas was actually of Mexican descent and was dark-complexioned. So, based on knee-jerk impulse, various people decided "Chief" would be an appropriate nickname. As in, "chief of a tribe."
I realize no malice was involved, just as it was innocent the way my generation was amused by the name of Bombo Rivera, also of the Minnesota Twins. Remember him? Time may be drawing a misty curtain. Many Twins fans thought the name "Bombo" was quite a hoot when this black-skinned man joined the team. Those were the days of my generation, the boomers, being quite unapologetic smart asses. It was the days when good ol' Anglo-sounding names were the norm. Maybe it was post-Norman Rockwell but it was still unenlightened.
Subsequent years found my generation acting like the most enlightened people in the world. I'd say we gave the main impetus toward political correctness. Our smart-alecky background is something we have sought to bury or be in denial over, just like our self-destructive habits like excess alcohol consumption and drug use.
I remember hearing about a Bombo Rivera fan club among students at the U of Minnesota-Twins Cities campus. The whole basis of the club, obviously, was the novelty of the player's first name. Bombo! Of course, this man came from a part of the world where such a name does not pique special interest. "Bombo" is the name for a family of Latin American drums. We hadn't yet seen the major influx of non-North American players into big league ball.
 
Making light of Bombo
Over the wide swath of pro sports today, non-Anglo sounding names don't cause a ripple of special attention. No novelty at all. But poor Bombo Rivera played in different times. Even big-time media players, people with supposedly advanced education, got on board with the thoughtless irreverence. I remember vividly the Star Tribune issue that came out right after the opener one spring. Here are the actual words of the headline - ahem - "Bombo, Twins bomb Seattle." Coal in the Christmas stocking of whoever wrote that. I know the article was written by M. Howard Gelfand - I don't know if he wrote the headline. I remember that upon reading the article, I learned that Rivera was not really so dominating. It's as if the headline writer waited all winter to write that cool headline. No one was of a mind back then to make a public issue of this.
Today? Today the headline would never get past the editor's desk. Do we even bother to categorize individual names as "ethnic" today? I think not. It's a fully enlightened new world where you can simply stand proud with your name. I remember a book author who felt he should poke fun at a name he saw on a rookie card one year. It was "Scipio Spinks." Some fans were amused by the name of catcher Manny Sanguillen. My, we have sure grown out of that amusement. I had a friend who was amused by a baseball name that I don't think had any ethnic significance. It was "Harry Chiti," and you can guess how my friend pronounced the last name. Actually all our names are ethnic, aren't they? That's the beauty of our world I guess.
 
Remembering Mark Salas of the Twins
Did you know that Mark Salas is among a handful of major leaguers whose last name is a palindrome? Take the last name and spell it forward or backward, and it's the same. Another example is Truck Hannah. Then we have Eddie Kazak, Toby Harrah and the Nen boys, Dick and Robb, plus a few others. Salas played in the majors from 1984 to 1991. He sadly was with our championship 1987 team for only part of the season. He never got a World Series ring but he did get a consolation prize watch.
I remember watching Salas on TV and being a little annoyed at his flamboyant gesture whenever he wanted to appeal to the first base umpire on a checked swing call. He could be a very good hitter.
But wait, if you think "Bombo" was an attention-getting novelty (rightly or wrongly), consider his real given first name: Jesus. The forerunner for dealing with that issue was Jesus Alou. I remember reading an article in Baseball Digest back in about 1964 where the author suggested that this young man might have to change his name! There was fear it might be offensive because, well, you know. Jesus Alou didn't even pronounce his first name like the Biblical man. It was hay-SOOS and it was a standard name where he came from. Alas, Americans had a narrow, Donald Trump type of attitude about such things then.
Jesus Alou never had to change his name. He was one of three excellent Alou brothers in the big leagues. Jesus hit for a high average but hardly ever drew a walk. He was considered a kind and gentle person to have around the clubhouse.
Bombo Rivera was a native of Ponce, Puerto Rico. His youth baseball manager called him "Bombo" for "fly ball" and the nickname stuck. Rivera batted .271 for the Twins in 1978. I remember seeing him play at the old Metropolitan Stadium. I recall he didn't have much range in the outfield. He had a fine season in 1979, then tailed off in '80, setting the stage for his release. His big league career was essentially over. But he had a renaissance in Japan. Today he lives in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, and we hope he came out of the hurricane OK.
Our Garrison Keillor wrote a song called "The Ballad of Bombo Rivera." I'd file that in the politically incorrect category. It mocks his first name. Disrespect was also shown, I'd argue, by the write-in campaign for Rivera for 1979 U of Minnesota student council president.
 
A more irreverent time, remember?
Try to think back to 1979 and '80, all you fellow Minnesotans. Seriously, we were not in love with the Twins then. The '70s in general were a highly cynical time when young people especially were disrespectful toward a wide array of things and people. So the Strib headline writer thought of "bombing" Seattle in connection with the first name. Stupid of course but it was the norm in that age: poking fun. Today we would just take Rivera totally seriously as a man and a baseball player.
Fox Sports North takes all our athletes and teams seriously, even when they lose a lot. Don't you find that to be a breath of fresh air? Remember how John McKay, early coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, put down his own team in such strong terms? How foolish. He didn't have to accept the contract. All pro players, even those on frequently losing teams, have sterling athletic resumes and were superstars in high school. Let's treat all of them right. Today that is our inclination. But not when the boomer generation was young. Admit it, guys.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Eagles of Lac qui Parle stunned by KMS Saints

Image result for lac qui parle valley eagles logoThe Eagles of Lac qui Parle Valley could taste the Section 3A championship game. Oh my, they came within a hair's breadth. It was heartbreaking for them how KMS stood in the way at the very end. The old ABC TV show "Wide World of Sports" had an apt line from its opening: "the agony of defeat." Yes, agony was unquestionably felt by coach Bart Hill's charges at the end of it all.
Bart is a Morris native who I remember covering when he was a Tiger student-athlete. I seem to remember wrestling best with him. At LQPV he has carved out a fine reputation as baseball coach. But on Tuesday, he shared in the heartbreak as his Eagles failed to cling to a late lead. Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg was the 5-4 winner at the Granite Falls diamond. So it's the Saints moving on in post-season play while those gallant Eagles have to hang up the spikes.
Those Saints pushed three runs across in the bottom of the seventh. Thus the stage got set for extra innings in this 3A losers bracket final. The Eagles couldn't afford to lose again. Suspense was high as KMS's Dylan Rudningen came to the plate. Rudningen's bat produced a sacrifice fly and it was over. Score of 5-4. Done. The Saints will play Wabasso at 5 p.m. Thursday in Milroy.
Peyton Mortenson gave LQPV the lead with a double in the sixth. The hit broke a one-all stalemate. Mortenson was the Eagles' pitcher on this day. He seemed in the groove. He even got some insurance backing with a pair of LQPV runs in the top of the seventh. Surely those Eagles seemed poised to win. But it ain't over 'til it's over, alas.
Rudningen later reflected on how the KMS seniors really got the squad inspired to win at the end. Caleb Collins socked a two-run double. So the score is now 4-3. Ryan Torkelson rapped an RBI single. Mortenson gave way to Wyatt Halvorson on the mound for LQPV. Halvorson kept things steady for the Eagle cause in the seventh. But eventually the Saints won in walk-off style. Two walks and two singles in the eighth sent LQPV to the canvas. Rudningen had the RBI that made the difference. (Sorry, but I can't be sure if a hit or sacrifice fly drove in the winning run, as I'm confused reading the Willmar paper's coverage.)
He was quite the factor on the mound too, working five innings and setting down ten batters on strikes. He allowed three hits, one of which was a long home run by Braiden Kittelson at game's start.
KMS tied the game in its half of the first, thanks to a Collins RBI double that scored Rudningen. Mortenson and Rudningen dueled on the mound with both having to work out of jams. Weston Gjerde was the winning pitcher for KMS. He kept the game close with his stint of three innings. LQPV scored its four runs on seven hits and committed two errors. The KMS line score was 5-10-3.
Five players hit safely for coach Hill's squad. Mortenson had a hit and an RBI. Kittelson's homer was one of two hits by this Eagle. Evan Benson had a hit and a run scored. Caden Bjornjeld had a two-for-four line. Korbin Wells went one-for-four with a ribbie. Dain Haas had an RBI and run scored. Eean Allpress crossed home plate once.
The ten-hit KMS attack was led by Torkelson who went three-for-four including a double and drove in a run. Rudningen had a double as part of a two-for-four showing, plus he drove in a run and scored two. Collins' bat produced a two-for-three line and this Saint doubled twice, drove in three runs and scored one. Weston Gjerde added a hit to the mix. So did Josh Peterson and Brandon Rasmusson. The Call boys, Alex and Isaac, each scored a run.

Lac qui Parle 12, Minneota 1
The Eagles scored a surplus of runs in their previous game which had Minneota as the opponent. My, there was no suspense at all for coach Hill and his charges, who took care of business in a 12-1 triumph. Peyton Mortenson supplied a huge highlight: a grand slam home run! That's something he can tell his grandchildren about someday.
The Eagles scored their 12 runs on 13 hits in this game played at Milroy. Fielding won a near-perfect grade too: one error. The Minneota line score was 1-3-6. Mortenson had a two-for-four line in the box score. Braiden Kittelson went two-for-five with three RBIs. Dain Haas had a triple as part of a two-for-three showing, plus he drove in a run and scored two. Caden Bjornjeld's bat was sizzling as this Eagle went three-for-four with a ribbie. Brett Baldwin had a hit and two RBIs. Isaac Gerdes wasn't late to the party either as he had three hits in four at-bats and scored three runs. Jaymes Moon drove in Minneota's sole run.
Wyatt Halvorson got the 'W' next to his name in the pitching summary. Halvorson struck out five batters, walked just one and allowed three hits and one run in his six innings. Brant Buysse was the losing pitcher for Minneota. Teddy Pesch and Jacob Hennen also pitched for Minneota. The big inning for LQPV was the fifth: seven runs scored.
 
Lots of post-season highlights
Lac qui Parle played a total of six post-season games: quite a ride for coach Hill to earn his salary! It started with a 6-2 win over CMCS on May 26. May 26 also found the Eagles defeating Dawson-Boyd 15-5. Those games were played in Madison. Then it was on to Milroy where the Eagles were stopped 5-2 by Wabasso. Lac qui Parle rebounded superbly from that setback to thump RTR 14-3. Then came the two games reviewed in this post.
My congratulations to coach Bart Hill and his talented diamond athletes from LQPV, owner of a 15-9 record. I hope all the LQPV students know that Bart's father Bennie parachuted out of a flaming plane over France in WWII.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

6-3 baseball win highlights holiday weekend play

I wonder if most people have mixed feelings about post-season high school sports games being played during the solemn Memorial Day weekend. Baseball and softball indeed have important games at that time. The MACA performance was largely disappointing for 2018. The baseball Tigers notched a win but they also got shut out by Paynesville.
The green Paynesville crew has pitching as a real strong suit. Paynesville pitchers held MACA and Benson to zero runs. The hero Paynesville pitchers were Spencer Imholte - that sure is a familiar last name - and Grant Ludwig. The baseball Tigers are about to face Minnewaska at Montevideo at about the time I'm writing this, Tuesday p.m.
The softball Tigers had quite the anticlimactic Memorial Day weekend. After supplying so many thrills through the regular season, coach Mary Holmberg's squad got stopped twice in Section 3AA play. The curtain closed on the Tigers' super campaign which had a final won-lost mark of 16-4.
 
Baseball: Tigers 6, Montevideo 3
Chandler Vogel - spelled "Vogle" in the Willmar paper - turned in a pitching gem. Vogel worked all seven innings, fanning five batters, walking four and allowing six hits and three runs (just one earned). He and his mates overcame three MACA errors. Monte booted the ball twice.
Monte had the slight edge in hits, 6-5, but we had two big innings to buoy us: the third and sixth. We rallied for three runs in each of those frames. Monte scored three runs in the first and then had the door slammed on them by Vogel. Two pitchers worked for Montevideo: Max Carruth and John VanRavenswaay with the latter taking the loss. Carruth pitched 3 1/3 innings and VanRavenswaay handled 2 2/3.
The Tigers' Zach Bruns, reported as "Zach Burns" by the Willmar paper, had a hit and crossed home plate twice. Jaret Johnson went two-for-four, drove in three runs and scored one. Vogel had a hit and a run batted in. Kevin Asfeld went one-for-three with a ribbie. Parker Dierks drove in a run and Brock Anderson scored two runs. For Montevideo, Chase Korte's bat produced a double plus he scored a run. Blaine Sederstrom had a hit and a run scored. Noah Buseman added a hit to the mix. VanRavenswaay went one-for-three, drove in two runs and scored one. Seth Kuno and Cade Weber each went one-for-three.
 
Paynesville 3, Tigers 0
Spencer Imholte tossed a superb shutout at the Tigers. His shutout included three strikeouts, just one walk and two hits allowed. Jaret Johnson took the pitching loss for Motown. Brock Anderson was also handed the ball for pitching duties.
The two MACA hits were by Johnson and Noah Sheldon. Paynesville had a nine-hit attack that included Grant Ludwig going three-for-three including a double, plus he scored a run. Zach Schroeder was another hitting standout for the green. Zach had a perfect two-for-two line with one of his hits a double, and he scored a run. Sam Oehrlein had a hit and a run scored. Zach Osendorf had a hit and an RBI. Luke Johnson went one-for-three with a ribbie, and Jared Campbell added a hit to the mix.
 
Softball: Martin County West 5, Tigers 2
The Tigers just couldn't push any runs across over the first five innings. When finally we scored two in the sixth, Martin County West had already pushed across five. Neither team scored in the seventh so the Tigers had to accept this 5-2 loss at Marshall. MCW out-hit us by one, 7-6, and we committed the game's only error.
The Willmar paper reports only two MCW players hitting safely, each with one hit in their account: Karlee Thiesse and Jordan Stahl. Bailey Marty rapped two hits for our Motown crew and she scored a run. Liz Dietz socked a double, drove in a run and scored a run. Emma Bowman, Abbie McNally and Riley Decker each contributed a hit.
It was Stahl of MCW getting the pitching win with a route-going performance. She struck out seven batters and walked just one in her seven innings. She allowed six hits and the two MACA runs which were earned. MCW's line score was 5-7-0. Ours was 2-6-1.
Dietz put up sub-par pitching numbers by her standards, but give MCW credit. Dietz struck out four batters, walked two and gave up seven hits and the five MCW runs, all earned. Kenna Kehoe pitched one inning and had a string of zeroes.
 
St. James 4, Tigers 0
Well, this was another disappointment.The season came to an end for our Tigers with this shutout loss at the hands of St. James and their pitcher Brooklyn Mickelson. Mickelson mastered the Tiger batters through her seven innings. She struck out eight batters, walked two and allowed three hits and zippo runs.
Dietz was the pitcher of record for Motown in a route-going effort. She shone in strikeouts with her total of nine, and her control was also fine: one walk. She allowed six hits. One of the four runs she allowed was unearned. Offensively Dietz produced two of our three hits. She had a perfect two-for-two line. Riley Decker went one-for-two.
St. James bats produced six hits. The Willmar paper reports two individuals hitting safely for the victor, each with two hits: Renata Hernandez and Mickelson.
Well, it's an abrupt end to the season for our orange and black. It was a long trip back from Marshall for the MACA faithful.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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