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).

Monday, December 29, 2014

Shall we bother "meditating" on Beatles' White Album?

Remember Transcendental Meditation or "TM?" It got the young boomers very excited in the 1970s. Was it religion? I remember a Congressional race in Central Minnesota where the Republican got agitated about this. He accused his opponent, the incumbent Rick Nolan, of using government resources - maybe just stationery - to promote TM. I can't remember the Republican's name. The controversy did pass.
Today Nolan is in a whole new iteration as a politician. His career has been marked by a huge gap. I find him refreshing today. In the '70s he was part of that proverbial wave of liberals who could be paternalistic and irritating.
Today the liberals are much more the underdog. They needn't fool with things like Transcendental Meditation. Oh, it was just a fad, wasn't it? It's no revelation that simply relaxing your mind can be good for concentration.
TM got its big push to the forefront thanks to the Beatles. Anything the Beatles touched or endorsed would take on a magical popular quality. Did it help their music? We have the "White Album" to judge on this criteria. The fabled White Album was a two-record set and actually had the formal title "The Beatles." I found I have these records on cassette tape. On the cassette cover we see pictures of the four guys. Boomer-age people don't need reminding of the White Album's popularity. The Beatles were riding a wave that couldn't be stopped. "Sergeant Pepper" came out a year earlier. Rock music was finding its legs on a true artistic basis. It wasn't just rhythm and intensity anymore.
When I say "double album" I'm talking about those big black vinyl records, of course. Increasingly they're museum pieces, as are cassettes. The physical product was everything back then. It cost an appreciable amount of money to buy your music and equipment. Records would wear out. They'd develop a "scratchy" sound. Record player "needles" would succumb to wear. Today I have to pinch myself to see if I'm dreaming. I can sit down at a public library computer station, put on headphones, type the name of any Beatles song into the YouTube search box and presto! It's all free. The sound will be just as sharp centuries from now.
Young people as they grow up will take these "luxuries" for granted, as well they should. We must never forget the evolutionary process behind all this technology. Boomers when young would collect the records and spin them on a turntable. A really good system cost a lot of money. We heard about "woofers" and "tweeters." Today you just listen and enjoy.
 
No "A" grade for White Album
Did I enjoy the White Album? On the whole, no. There are undoubtedly gems in there. Many of the non-hits come across as silly novelties. It's as if the Fab 4 were just toying with us. I consider a lot of it slop. Because the lyrics could be cute, a lot of boomers liked those songs anyway. Gone was the feeling of class that exuded from the Beatles' previous efforts.
Think of the album "Help!" It's obvious the guys took each of those songs totally seriously. The guys started fooling around on the White Album. We might attribute this to the need of all professional musicians to come out with a "new" sound, something unpredictable. Had the Beatles gone to the well too often? This is my interpretation. Their breakup was underway when the White Album was recorded. It was so silly for acrimony to develop. The Beatles knew they'd have no financial worries for the rest of their lives. In fact, it would be even better than that.
If all four had lived, just think of what an attraction they'd be, beginning in the go-go '90s, at which time their old fans actually had money! Can you imagine them being billed at casinos? What a gravy train that would be. They would have riches beyond what they ever could have imagined. It's like the baseball players who never could have imagined the riches coming from memorabilia and card shows. There was no point bickering about your contact in those old days - just get famous and be on a World Series team, and someday all your bills will be paid. Denny McLain didn't have to turn to crime. The Minnesota Twins under penny-pinching Calvin Griffith didn't have to sweat it, they should have just gone out and won that 1967 American League pennant. It was a demoralized team. Just win, baby. Never mind Calvin.
The Beatles knew they were a godsend to a generation. If only they had tried to set more of an example. If only they had just stayed focused on producing great music. It's the biggest "might have been" for boomers to consider, or maybe the second biggest, as the first would be: What if we had never gotten into Viet Nam?
Most of the Beatles songs for the White Album were written during a Transcendental Meditation course with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the spring of 1968. The year 1968 brought to a head all the tumultuous things we associate with the 1960s. Maybe that was part of the problem with the White Album. It seemed at times the world was coming apart at the seams.
The Beatles did the study "on location" in India. The band wanted a spiritual respite. They did not stay for the full TM course. The Maharishi reportedly showed his human flaws. Enough on that. The Beatles wrote about 40 songs in India. The White Album was recorded between May and October in 1968. Some songs like George Harrison's "Not Guilty" were saved for later releases, even post-breakup. If I remember that Harrison song correctly, it was lousy. So was "Here Comes the Moon," Harrison's encore to "Here comes the Sun." Harrison could be flat as a pancake as a solo artist, sadly so, with some rare exceptions that were brilliant, totally up to the Beatles' earlier standards. It's a mystery.
 
Unraveling began with White Album
The four Beatles were not a harmonious group for the White Album. They worked increasingly as individuals. Engineer Geoff Emerick got fed up and walked out. Ringo Starr actually quit for a while. "Glass Onion" was a sad song because it mocked some of the Beatles' earlier work. "Back in the USSR" was actually a parody song, of Chuck Berry's "Back in the USA." Can you imagine parody being done on the "Help!" album? Parody reflects cynicism and a feeling of resignation. The White Album was indeed that kind of endeavor, but the guys were guaranteed a high level of commercial success.
Fans took much of the stuff way too seriously. Many of these songs wouldn't see the light of day if they were presented as "demos" today. Yet music historians take the whole album seriously, even if not totally fawning over it. "Rocky Raccoon" and "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" are ridiculous. One of the White Album songs was inspired by the sight of two monkeys copulating on the street. Paul McCartney wondered "why can't humans do the same?" Well. . .
In terms of class, the Beatles had devolved to a depressing degree since "A Hard Day's Night." Look at Lennon's appearance from 1964 to 1968. He should have kept that healthy weight on his body, but he got ticked off when a critic described him as "the fat Beatle." I have argued before that this incident may have affected the Beatles more than we realize. Today we have no problem accepting people who carry what might be seen as excessive weight. It was not that way in the 1960s. "Fat" was stigmatizing. Remember, it was the days before unlimited soft drink refills at fast food restaurants, and all those snack temptations (e.g. frosted rice krispie bars) at convenience stores.
It's too bad "Hey Jude" wasn't on the White Album. This total Beatles classic was recorded in July of 1968 but came out as a single three months before the White Album's release. It only ended up on a compilation album.
An alternate history: The White Album should have been titled "A Doll's House." That was the idea. This was the working title during the project. However, another group had used that title earlier that year. It seems the Beatles groped for some album titles.
We wax nostalgic about the days of vinyl record "albums," those cumbersome, perishable and expensive things. We're so much better off today - 100 per cent better off.
I love my collection of several Beatles CDs from the mid-1960s. However, I would only listen to the White Album if I were forced to do some research, not for enjoyment.
George Martin was right: It should have been a single album.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, December 19, 2014

"Paradigm Lost?" Whatever, "Revolver" was Beatles' gem

Many of my age lament how the Beatles ended "too soon." I'm not sure that's the true nature of the lament. I think the sadness was due more to the ill feeling among group members at the end.
Truth be told, the Fab 4 put out a tremendous quantity of work. They kept doing their thing after the breakup. You can listen to a lot of the stuff they did as solo artists and imagine that nothing really changed. Yes, "Imagine."
The Beatles' amazing run ended with the "Let It Be" album and Phil Spector's orchestral adornments, right? Or did it end with "Abbey Road?" The train wreck of the Beatles' breakup leaves us confused over what their last album was.
Beatles historians can fall over themselves fawning over the various albums. The CW (conventional wisdom) has it that "Rubber Soul" was the group's first truly artistic album, that "Revolver" took that art to a higher level, and that "Sergeant Pepper" was the true masterpiece. Historians view "Magical Mystery Tour" as flawed, and consider "Abbey Road" the final triumph. "Let It Be" just sort of floats out there as an uneven sort of denouement.
The demands of the critics probably wore on the four guys. How could the Fab 4 just keep turning out material that would have their admirers have one orgasm after another? Who needs that kind of pressure? My assertion would be that all of the Beatles' work had merit. It just went through various iterations. The four guys and their handlers did what all musical pros do: try to turn out albums that contrast with each other and offer fresh styles and ideas. Fans don't fully understand this.
Fans figure that if they really go head over heels over an album, the next album should be fundamentally the same - just "more of same." They think they want that, but they really don't. The movie "Jersey Boys" was excellent in how it peeled away the facade of the music industry and showed how creative people respond to the public's demands.
Pro music people can be very crude and abrupt with each other. I remember that producer character in "Eddie and the Cruisers" who derided some new suggestions by saying "a bunch of jerk-offs making weird sounds." There you have a taste of the music business.
In "Jersey Boys" you see the heroic characters arguing how "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" will represent that "next new thing" in pop music sounds. The highlight scene in the movie, I feel, is where we see Frankie Valli triumphantly performing this song with his backing that had horns, just like Sinatra would.
 
Climbing steps in music
What will the next "new" sound be - a sound that captivates? It's like trying to forecast the stock market - much harder than you might think.
When the Beatles departed from their "merseybeat" sound, it was genuinely risky for them. Would the public accept the group ascending to an artsy level, rather than just appealing to fawning teenage girls? We saw the latter formula work wonderfully in "A Hard Day's Night." Why not push it a littler further? Well, the Beatles wanted to stand for something different. This they asserted in "Rubber Soul" which came out at Christmas time in 1965. Author Robert Rodriguez said this album "hinted at greater ambitions." This is typical fawning with cliche-ridden talk by the group's historians, as surely "Rubber Soul" was more than a mere "hint." It was more than a stepping stone or prelude. It was a destination. So, let's admire it as a stand-alone product.
Rodriguez went on to say "Rubber Soul" challenged the "existing rock paradigm." I didn't learn the word "paradigm" until I was in college. When first hearing it, I didn't connect it to the word spelled as "paradigm." I was relieved to finally make the connection. The late author Edwin Newman indicated I wasn't the only one going through this. Edwin had a tongue-in-cheek chapter name in one of this books: "Paradigm Lost" (a takeoff on "Paradise Lost" of course).
"Revolver" was the album that followed "Rubber Soul." Artistically I think it ranks even with "Sergeant Pepper." What "Revolver" lacks, in comparison, is thematic unity.
The Beatles got a break that spurred their creativity, leading up to "Revolver." They were supposed to put out their third movie. The Fab 4 couldn't come together on what would be a good script. The movie idea was shelved. Thus, much of the time that had been opened for this got vacated. They were one month into recording for "Revolver" when they performed live in Wembley, England. A crowd of 10,000 listened. The CW is that it was an uninspired concert. We read that rumors were rampant of the guys breaking up.
Truth be told, the Beatles hadn't really lost any of their passion. What happened, was that they were writing music that was designed more for the studio than for organic live performances. It was difficult and almost futile to perform some of this stuff live.
 
McCartney finds his legs with "Revolver"
Prior to "Revolver," the Beatles were clearly John Lennon's group - his was the dominant artistic influence. Paul McCartney made his fateful ascent with "Revolver." Paul was destined to have a lifelong presence as a significant creator and performer.
George Harrison had to do something drastic to assert his own artistic presence, and this was done with an affinity to the music and culture of India. I have written before that Harrison seemed rather a mystery. He is credited with writing some of the Beatles' best songs. As a solo performer his gems were lost in a sea of forgetful, redundant-sounding material, causing one critic to say he put out "treadmill albums."
I once speculated that John probably helped George along, to the extent of even feeding him material. It comes across as conspiratorial, of course. But I have read accounts that support my theory. In one case I read where John did some "coaching" of George. A song is really such a simple creation. A classic can be written down on one sheet of manuscript paper. A classic can often be written in just minutes. This aspect of pop music has long fascinated me.
"Revolver" is known for the studio "tricks" the Beatles used. This interests me not at all - I just want to appreciate the core songs.
"Revolver" has been described as "psychedelic." That's a buzzword from the tumultuous times of the '60s, more a word of fashion than of concrete meaning. How would we define it? Perhaps as "a bunch of jerk-offs making weird sounds."
 
Writing for the human voice
McCartney goes into falsetto voice for "Here, There and Everywhere." The availability of falsetto gives a songwriter flexibility for vocal range that is highly coveted. The generally accepted vocal range is one note over one octave. That's really pretty restricting.
When I first dabbled in songwriting I had a problem staying within the accepted vocal range. I had been a trumpet player. Trumpet players have a full two octaves within which to work. Vocalists have no such luxury. Some singers can stretch the usual vocal range, an example being Ronnie Milsap. The Star Spangled Banner is notorious for how it challenges with vocal range.
"Here, There and Everywhere" was inspired by a Beach Boys song. It's a romantic ballad "about living in the here and now," according to Kenneth Womack. That's a pretty general theme. McCartney himself might smirk at such over-analysis or pseudo-interpretation.
NPR's Tim Riley falls into the typical hyperbole or cliches that can befall admiring Beatles historians. He writes that "Here, There and Everywhere" is "the most perfect song that McCartney has ever written."
Uh, the "most perfect." There's an issue with that terminology to begin with. McCartney has put out a mountain of stimulating material. I consider "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five" to be a diamond in the rough, coming out during the "Wings" years. I have found a live version of "1985" on YouTube that I consider one of the great musical pleasures a person can find.
I consider "Here, There and Everywhere" a showcase of how vocal range can be pushed by falsetto. Oh, it is a wonderful song.
Speaking of vocal range, Ringo Starr had a limited one, and thus we have "Yellow Submarine," written for the drummer and appealing to the kid in us.
"Tomorrow Never Knows" gives us those studio gimmicks that I shrug at. It also invites the "psychedelic" description. I question whether songs like this were really drug-influenced. The over-analyzing critics are susceptible to this bit of what I feel is myth-making. And it can be harmful, to the extent that kids get the idea that drugs and/or alcohol can enhance their creativity. All successful commercial art is created by people who have their mental faculties fully applied and unimpeded, I would assert.
I don't like the title "Revolver" as it's a pun based in part on a kind of handgun. Think of how John Lennon eventually died. Lennon wanted the title "Four Sides of the Eternal Triangle." That's an interesting alternate history.
 
"Revolver" makes its mark, like the others
"Revolver" has won its share of accolades and hyperbole. Such words are extended to several of the Fab 4's albums. Let's knock off the comparisons and the over-analysis. Each album has its niche. It's not like some "evolution progression" where we see the cave man slowly becoming the modern man. "Rubber Soul" was genius as was "Abbey Road." Let's appreciate the whole succession. There was enough to satisfy all of us.
I don't blame the Fab 4 for deciding they had simply done enough. The acrimony was sad. But remember, the Fab 4 had their run in the 1960s, when many things in our world had sad endings. Think of the Viet Nam War.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Strangers at home? Not really, but it's a big GBB win

Tigers 61, Minnewaska 35
A happy mood prevailed at the MAHS gym on Friday (12/12). Just as if Santa Claus was there. Ho ho ho! The Tigers of MACA breezed past the Lakers of Minnewaska Area. This was the only home game on the MACA slate for December.
Fans have been a little starved for home action. Prior to Friday's contest, the Tigers played three games as road warriors. And now, we're looking at six contests on the road before what we hope will be a triumphant return to the home gym on January 5. Milbank SD will be the foe on 1/5 for that "happy new year" game.
Coach Dale Henrich's Tigers can feel happy approaching the rest of the pre-Christmas slate. Will the win over 'Waska set the tone? An aggressive crew of Tigers stole the ball 19 times. They carved out a huge rebounding advantage. Truly the squad was energized.
The final horn sounded with the orange and black up 61-35. We got a 33-20 advantage by halftime. We outscored the Lakers 28-15 in the second half. We made 24 of 59 field goal attempts and ten of 14 in freethrows.
Three Tigers each made one 3-point shot: Sam Henrichs, Lauren Reimers and Becca Holland. Reimers topped the scoring list with 13 points and was joined in double figures by Holland with ten. Correy Hickman put in eight points. Then we have Henrichs with seven, Kayla Pring with six, Lacee Maanum with five, Moira McNally with four, Ashley Solvie and Meichsner each with three, and Piper Gibson and Liz Tiernan each with one.
Meichsner topped that strong rebounding department, snaring ten boards. Maanum snared seven. Hickman was the top assist producer with six, while Holland had three. Four Tigers each had three assists: Hickman, Holland, Reimers and Gibson.
Three of the Lakers each made one 3-pointer: Bayley Pooler, Ashley Blom and Taylor Amundson. It was Amundson on top of the 'Waska scoring list with ten points. Pooler scored eight followed by Ariel Ostrander (7), Makenzie Zemke (4), Ashley Blom (3) and Abby VerSteeg (3). Ostrander and VerSteeg led in rebounds, each with four. Ashlyn Guggisberg had three assists and Pooler had two steals.
The MACA record now: 2-2. BTW the Willmar paper has a tendency to refer to our athletic programs as "Morris/Chokio-Alberta" but isn't it really "Morris Area Chokio Alberta" or "MACA?"
 
Boys basketball: Montevideo 60, Tigers 39
MACA boys basketball was dealt a setback Thursday (12/11). The orange and black took the home court to vie with the Thunder Hawks of Montevideo. Monte picked up its third win against one loss, by a score of 60-39 over our Tigers.
Monte's fortunes took off in the second half. MACA kept things close up until the halfway mark, at which time the score stood 21-16. Fans at the break could embrace hope for a second half surge. There was a second half surge but it was by Montevideo. The T-Hawks came on strong to outscore the orange and black 39-23. MACA slid under .500 with this setback, to 2-3.
The shooting stats show our team making 13 of 51 in total field goals and 11 of 17 from the freethrow line. Eric Staebler made two 3-point shots but was the only Tiger succeeding from that distance. He was also the only Tiger scoring in double figures with his 14 points.
Jordan Arbach and Robert Rohloff each put in six points. Then we have Jacob Zosel with four points followed by Noah Grove, Joey Dufault and Andrew Goulet each with two. Sean Amundson, Riley Biesterfeld and Austin Hills each put in one point.
It is significant that Monte held Grove to just those two points.
Staebler led the Tigers in rebounds with ten, Zosel was tops in assists with three, and Goulet was the steals leader with three. (BTW the Willmar newspaper didn't report first names of players - here's where the Maxpreps site helps out.)
Monte's shooting stats were 23 of 50 from the field and eight of 15 in freethrows. Troy Diggins paced the Monte scoring with his 15 points. Troy's contributions were far-reaching as he was the top T-Hawk in rebounds, assists and steals, with a stat of seven in each of those categories.
 
Girls hockey: LPGE/WDC 6, MBA 2
MBA scored one goal each in the second and third periods but it wasn't enough. The Storm are paying some dues this season. On Thursday the story was a 6-2 score with MBA on the short end against the LPGE/WDC skaters.
Abbey Hoffman was the MBA goalie and had 24 saves. Her goalie foe was Angela Hanson who had 17 saves.
Long Prairie struck with two goals in the first period, both by Ashlee Helseth. McKayla Woods assisted on the first goal - Kenzie Christianson and Abigail Ecker supplied assists on the second.
The score became 4-0 before the Storm could get going on the scoreboard. Ecker scored twice for Long Prairie, unassisted the first time, and the second time with an assist from Helseth.
The Storm scored their first goal at 1:29 of the second period. Kelsey Rajewsky scored with an assist from Hallie Watzke. Long Prairie wrapped up the second period scoring with a goal by Morgan Zeise, unassisted at :47.
Nicole Berens scored for MBA in period #3. Megan Kirkeide assisted. Then, Long Prairie finished the night's scoring as Christianson scored with assists by Woods and Helseth.
 
Wrestling: Tigers 54, Minnewaska 24
MAHACA showed a winning flourish in its face-off vs. 'Waska as part of the "United Triangular." The dual between us and 'Waska is one reason I sometimes feel skepticism about the sport of wrestling. Too many forfeits. With this many forfeits, maybe a team should just be forced to forfeit the whole thing, and skip the competition.
Anyway, the record shows that "MAHACA" - I hate that name - had a 54-24 win, so let's take it, I guess.
Dalton Rose and Gideon Joos won by forfeit at 106 and 113 pounds, respectively. At 120 pounds, Matt Munsterman lost by technical fall vs. Joseph Weaver, 15-0. Jared Rohloff was the forfeit winner at 126 pounds. At 132 pounds, Brady Cardwell lost by fall to Dylan Jergenson in 3:52.
Trenton Nelson came on strong to pin Garrett Kelling in 1:03. At 145 pounds, Travis Ostby was edged in a 3-2 decision by Marcelo Arredondo. Phillip Messner at 152 pounds was on the short end of a 15-2 major decision vs. Weston Lardy. Trent Ostby was a forfeit winner at 160 pounds.
Steven Koehl lost by fall in 1:44 to Caleb Blaisdell. Matt McNeill and Gage Wevley were forfeit winners at 182 and 195 pounds, respectively. Jacob Sperr of the Tigers pinned Tyler Vanluik in 3:07. Alec Gausman was the forfeit winner at 285 pounds.
Wrestling has some issues. Forfeits are one. Unreasonable pressure to lose weight is another. But we all love the Tigers of MAHACA! Just don't try to lose too much weight, guys.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, December 8, 2014

On Thursday (not Friday), MACA boys fall 63-62

The best-laid plans for covering MACA boys basketball got thrown for a loop on Saturday. I was of the understanding that the Tigers played the night before against ACGC. That's because the MAHS school calendar informed us that the MACA boys would play ACGC on Friday night, Dec. 5, here.
On Saturday I expected to get the game info from my usual media source. For a few moments I wanted to scold that media source for its apparent negligence, failing to cover the game. I had budgeted space on my blog to write about the game. I would also report on the MACA girls basketball game played on Thursday. I did in fact compile a report on the MACA girls, but for the second straight game, the individual point totals as reported in the Willmar newspaper did not add up to the team total. That is a pet peeve of mine. I asked coach Dale Henrich for some help after the first game but got no response.
Maybe the coaches feel they needn't respond to communications from media writers who are not corporate-connected. No one buys advertising on my websites - I have two. The Morris newspaper, by comparison, gets absolutely drunk, figuratively speaking, filling its product with a pile of paper advertising, much of it for businesses located outside of Morris. In fact, the Morris-based advertising gets lost in the shuffle. One just wants to heave the whole pile into some sort of waste receptacle, instantly.
Let me put it this way: Even if I did a lot of shopping, I wouldn't be interested in paging through even a portion of all that. . .crap. When I shop, it's because I need certain things, not because I see a picture of something in an advertising circular. I'll go to Eul's or Ace Hardware if I need some sort of hardware item, like a caulking substance. I shop at Willie's for daily food needs but I just buy what we need. When you study ads or assemble coupons, you just end up 1) buying things you don't need, or 2) buying certain varieties or brands of things - items not in line with what you really want (e.g. "low cal" or "sugar free").
So, the MACA boys basketball team did not play on Friday as was announced on the school calendar. They played Thursday. A source tells me the change was because of an issue with ACGC, not here.
I think it's important for the MAHS school calendar to be adhered to. I remember last spring, I took the family to MAHS for the jazz band concert. I was going by the school calendar which said the concert would begin at 7 p.m., so we arrived at about 6:40 or 6:45. Halfway to the entrance, we came upon a school district employee who was a friend of ours, and got informed that the concert would be at 7:30. That was going to be too long to wait. We went to McDonald's for ice cream cones and then went home. This was before the McDonald's parking lot got restricted by that fence.
Why was the band concert changed? I can only go by talk "on the street": Apparently because of all the re-scheduled spring sports events, the sports schedule had gotten clogged, and too many kids weren't going to be back in time for the 7 p.m. concert.
So, it was sports. Should we be surprised? Sports takes precedence. It takes precedence over a one-time concert by a program that has infrequent concerts. I suppose kids were off playing golf, running track or whatever, like they do four days a week, and sometimes on Saturday, and so the band program had to adjust. It's never the other way around. Sports takes precedence. That's the way it is, and always will be, apparently.
 
ACGC 63, Tigers 62
So, the MACA boys basketball game was played on Thursday, not Friday. I'm happy to report on the game belatedly. The Tigers lost for the second time against one win. ACGC soared to a 4-1 record with its Thursday success here.
The Tigers led 31-28 at halftime. But the visiting Falcons came on strong to outscore us 35-31 in the second half. The Tigers were crushed at the end when Brody Larson of ACGC completed a three-point play with ten seconds remaining. Noah Grove nearly wrested the lead back for MACA but his 3-point try was unsuccessful.
Alex Hendricks was a nemesis for the Tigers. Falcon Hendricks made four 3-point shots on his way to posting 21 points, a total that led the Falcons. Larson scored just seven points but had the clutch success, along with nine assists for the game.
The Tigers made 26 of 65 field goal attempts. Eric Staebler was prominent offensively as usual. He scored 24 points and snared 13 rebounds. Jacob Zosel put in 13 points and Sean Amundson 12. Noah Grove supplied seven points followed by Ian Howden, Jordan Arbach and Andrew Goulet each with two. Staebler made two 3-point shots and Zosel one.
Zosel
had five assists and Amundson had four steals.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Paul McCartney's "Band on the Run": a 1974 staple

Famous people are often known to live on the edge. It has been said of successful pro athletes that "they have no fear of failure." Perhaps this is a psychological trait really needed to "be in the arena," to perform under those Klieg lights.
The Beatles were the epitome of fame. Post-Beatles, Paul McCartney wasn't about to feel any inhibitions. "Red Rose Speedway" had its own decent impact. "Live and Let Die" totally made the grade as top-tier pop music. We shouldn't be surprised, as the stuff was coming from a former Beatle. But he was "former."
Could McCartney at least come close to the pace and quality of top pop music, that characterized the whole Beatles' reign? Would he be a "retro" attraction, capitalizing mainly on past fame? He surely could have chosen that route. He would never have any holes in his shoes.
McCartney was not about to be so confined. He innately sought to create music that would get in front of the world's masses. What power! I have long been mesmerized by the sheer power that songwriters have. I am in awe of Paul McCartney, even in spite of some of the sloppiness he showed post-Beatles. At his best he was good as ever.
It was after "Red Rose Speedway" that the iconic Paul set out to make an album that would reach higher heights. These heights, he and his associates hoped, would parallel what the Fab 4 did in their glory days. We read that Paul and wife Linda began writing songs at their Scottish retreat. We don't know how much real input Linda had. We have to give her the benefit of the doubt unless shown some real evidence to the contrary. I question whether she had the real background to create music at the highest commercial level.
They say "politics ain't beanbag." Well, to create music at the highest commercial level isn't nearly as easy as it might seem. The songs themselves can seem so simple. Consider some lyrics by Hal David. You might look at that material, shrug and say, "oh, I could write stuff like that." Just try. It ain't "beanbag."
Paul McCartney was the consummate professional who with his fellow Beatles had "paid their dues" in Hamburg, Germany, gaining professionalism that would prove absolutely essential.
In the post-Beatles period, Paul faced a new and awesome challenge. Part of the Beatles' success was that it came from four individuals, each of whom could contribute something special. Remember, Ringo contributed the title for "A Hard Day's Night!" Let's give Linda McCartney the benefit of the doubt, at least in the sense she may have contributed good raw ideas. The "Wings" group had just completed its 1973 tour.
 
Music from when we're age 19
1973! That was the year I graduated from high school. "Wings" was about to ascend to its apex year, and this was in my first year after high school. The popular music of one's freshman college year - or, if you didn't attend college, music at age 19 - is seared permanently into one's consciousness. It is our first year of meaningful independence. We stretch our legs having fun. My friends and I would go to the bowling alley in Morris and hear Wings sing "Jet" on the juke box. Equally popular was the title song from that album, "Band on the Run." 
This was the album that demonstrated that Paul wasn't going to be any retro act. He plunged forward with new music that riveted us. He lived life "on the edge" as he embarked on this recording project. We learn that he had become "bored" with recording in England. Why? I can't understand his thought process. There were times when John Lennon couldn't either.
Paul wanted an exotic place to go and record. He chose Africa: Lagos in Nigeria.
Denny Laine became like "a new Beatle." He was a fixture in Wings. Outside of Paul, Linda and Denny, there would be much turnover in the group. The guitarist and drummer both quit just before the trip to Africa. Why? Were they wary of traveling to Africa? That might be justified.
The core group members arrived in Lagos. A military government reigned. Oh my, there was corruption and disease. The studio had a ramshackle quality. Paul started playing drums and the lead guitar parts.
The musicians could have been killed during this stay. "Living on the edge," Paul with Linda took a walk one evening contrary to advice they'd received. They were robbed at knifepoint. The thieves even made off with some musical material on paper and tape. Did this represent a permanent loss of valuable musical material? My research doesn't answer this.
 
Why smoke?
The perils don't end here, as Paul suffered a very serious self-inflicted calamity. He began gasping for air while singing. He turned white and complained of not being able to breathe. A heart attack? Would fresh air help? He was taken outside into the hot air. Now he seemed worse and he keeled over. Linda feared a heart attack but it was determined that Paul had been smoking too much! The diagnosis was a bronchial spasm. Why would a singer engage in this filthy habit at all? He's lucky he can still sing as well as he does.
Which reminds me: I should check Paul's discography and try to catch up on what he's been doing. At his age, he can't expect to captivate the mass (primarily young) audience anymore. The time to have "your run" as a popular musician is when you're in your 20s or early 30s.
Undaunted by all the scary and perilous stuff, Paul and Linda hosted a beach barbecue to celebrate the end of recording. They would be thankful still being in one piece, when they flew back to England in September of 1973.
The single "Helen Wheels" got released but at that time, it was not tied to the new album. My generation was of course notorious for thinking the name of this song was "Hell on Wheels." Whatever. The song was soon placed on the album against Paul's wishes, although I can't imagine why this was an issue. People in professional music can get into the most intense and sometimes unfathomable arguments. Remember Paul vs. Phil Spector on the "Let It Be" project?
 
Listening to "Jet" at the bowling alley
The "Band on the Run" album needed some time to gain traction commercially. I'm not sure why. McCartney was no diamond in the rough, he was simply a diamond. In 1974 this album really flowered. The music projected from boomboxes and juke boxes everywhere. And, at the Morris bowling alley. Unruly and somewhat crude boomer youth poured in and out of that place. The intense song "Jet" serenaded us.
The album came out during 8-track times! We learn that the 8-track tape version of "Band on the Run" is one of the few 8-tracks to be arranged just like the vinyl album.
Remember "quadrophonic?" This dinosaur was still walking the earth at that time. "Band on the Run" got released in quadrophonic. In 1996 it was released on 5.1 Music Disc.
The album's four singles were: the title song along with "Helen Wheels" (not "Hell on Wheels"), "Mrs. Vandebilt" and "Jet."
"Jet" was so popular, the Maynard Ferguson big band decided to record it, seeking (cynically, I guess) to get on the McCartney bandwagon and sell a few more copies. Maynard Ferguson fans (like myself) learned that the band did "Jet" purely as a studio project, not having their hearts in it, and the arrangement was never played again. It really was a pretty good arrangement. Some ambitious college jazz band instructor should try to track it down.
Maynard Ferguson played the trumpet. Paul when a boy received a trumpet as a birthday present. How this might have changed history! Paul wasn't about to play music without words. He traded the trumpet for a guitar. I played the trumpet myself but I wish I'd picked up the guitar. The guitar is a lifetime instrument. With the trumpet you're just a "slave" in a band where the director is dictator. If you're lucky you escape that setting for jazz.
At age 19, I enjoyed listening to the "Band on the Run" album with friends like Scott "Scooter" Long and the Cruze boys of South Street in Morris. "The South Street kids." I have suggested before that this would be a good name for a movie.
We never forget the music that was popular in our first year out of high school. It occupies a place in our brain where it can never be replaced.
I greatly liked some of the non-singles on "Band on the Run." I remember selecting "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-five" on the juke box at the Pizza Place, several times. The Pizza Place was located out near where Jerry's U-Save is now. Many of us raved about that place but I just thought it was an ordinary pizza restaurant - nothing wrong with that. I remember the juke box with its highlighted singles in a display at the top, including "When the Snow is on the Roses" by Al Martino. Anyone else remember that?
Just now I checked the lyrics for the "1985" song and was going to paste them here, but they have a weird start. It is not a typo. If I wrote such lyrics, people would wrinkle up foreheads. "On no one left alive in 1985." "On no one left?" I double-checked in other places and this is right. I remember Scott Long was just amazed at how Paul's voice seemed to morph from his normal for this song. (What I remember most about Scott is that he couldn't control himself laughing at the Bill Murray character in "Caddyshack.")
I liked Paul's song "Mamunia." I liked "Bluebird," "Let Me Roll It" and "Picasso's Last Words (Drink to Me)". Still, it wasn't as if the Beatles still existed. Paul and John had a chemistry that would never bless the world again. We all moved on. There was plenty of music to serenade us. You're only age 19 once. And, "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-five" was a long time ago! Back then we could be "Hell on Wheels." We're more stable today - knock on wood.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, November 24, 2014

A quite blustery day as we near Thanksgiving 2014

I'm looking out the back picture windows at our home, looking north, and seeing the fury of winter. It's 8:15 a.m. on Monday morning. We're in Thanksgiving week. It might just as well be Christmas or New Year's.
"The weather isn't fit for man or beast," to quote "Yukon Cornelius" from "Rudolph and Red-Nosed Reindeer."
Jay at Willie's told me school is on like normal. I was a bit surprised at that.
Thanksgiving was a special stand-alone holiday when I was young. Today it's paired with this curious phenomenon called "Black Friday." For a long time I groped finding the words to express displeasure with the term "Black Friday." It just didn't seem right. It didn't seem to connote any joy. Finally, last year, John Stone, the newspaper guy to the east of here (in Pope County), helped me out with the terminology. Mr. Stone suggested in a column that "Black Friday" was a "somber"-sounding term, not really apt for a supposedly upbeat occasion.
Thanks to Mr. Stone, I can now express my displeasure appropriately.
Thanksgiving by contrast is a holiday felt from the heart.
I'm not sure where we'll dine for Thanksgiving 2014. The Morris community once had a community meal for Thanksgiving. It was well-promoted and attended. It was held at the bottom level of Assumption Church. I can still visualize the assortment of pies (with toppings) we chose from. We always "paid our way." I hope the event wasn't canceled for financial reasons. I can also remember when Prairie Inn advertised its Thanksgiving buffet. That too has bit the dust.
Last year I could find no place that offered a Thanksgiving meal. I was advised later that when all else fails, the hospital has a cafeteria where one can obtain a meal. I appreciate knowing that. I don't have the skill to prepare the traditional Thanksgiving meal, to prepare a full turkey in the oven etc. I would not be a candidate for a Norman Rockwell painting portraying such a scene. And even if I could do it, we are a mere family of two. We couldn't consume all that food.
If I remember correctly, I got a couple frozen dinners for us to have for Thanksgiving last year. It did the job. We will feel anxious for things to return to normal the next morning.
The Pilgrims reached Plymouth in December of 1620. They had rejected Cape Cod. Plymouth Rock itself is only five feet square. Tourists there are known to ask strange questions. "Was the first Thanksgiving served on top of it?" "Did Christopher Columbus drop off the Pilgrims?" Truth be told, exploration was pretty vigorous between 1492 and 1620. By the time the first English people settled, other Europeans had already reached half of the 48 states.
Spanish conquistadors examined the interior of the continent in 1542. They rafted the Mississippi River. They showed horses to Native Americans who had never before seen them. The Spanish gave thanks and dined with Indians 56 years before the Pilgrim Thanksgiving at Plymouth.
In 1602 a band of English built a fort on Cuttyhunk Island. Were they driven by a passion for religious freedom? I'm afraid the explanation isn't so romantic. They came to get rich digging sassafras, prized in Europe as a cure for the clap.
Let's tip the hat to Giovanni da Verrazzano. The intrepid Italian toured the Eastern seaboard in 1524. At one point he directed a crewman to swim ashore. What would the gawking natives do? They took the man to a fire, not to roast him but to warm him! Verrazzano went north and admired a wide bay, later to become New York Harbor. In 1528 he met his tragic end, getting seized by cannibals on a Caribbean island. Verrazzano deserves to be more famous than he is.
Of course, us Norwegians know the full story of how the ocean was traversed for settlement here. It's a fact that the intrepid Vikings established the fishing village of L'Anse aux Meadows on a grassy plateau. Radiocarbon dating pinpoints the year of 1000 A.D. Pretty impressive work by my forebears.
The Sagas tell us about the Vikings. They are based on reality but have been embellished to include weird, paranormal twists.
Did the Vikings come to Kensington MN? The top proponent of the Runestone suggests it was actually post-pagan explorers that came here.
It was the English stock of New England that molded the new nation's memory. We have the iconic image of the Pilgrim fathers - men with those guns that looked like a trumpet on the end - seeding the new land with their piety and work ethic. If only the whole early history of America could be so tranquil. Nevertheless we have our ideals.
The bottom line: History is written by the winners.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My song about Harmon is salute to early Twins years

Harmon Killebrew hit two home runs in the first game we ever attended at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington. It was a night game against the Baltimore Orioles. I was eight or nine years old.
I felt a distinct thrill seeing those Minnesota Twins warming up in pre-game. There they were, real people, in the flesh: Zoilo Versalles, Rich Rollins and "The Killer," Harmon Killebrew. I had read about them, seen them on TV, but here they were on that beautiful, expansive green grass.
The idea struck me this past summer to write a song about "Hammerin' Harmon." I call it "The Ballad of Harmon Killebrew." As a ballad it tells a story. I insert the word "boomers" in the first verse because the Twins came into existence as the wave of baby boomer children was really starting to have a presence.
"When boomers were young and we sought our fun. . .under that Bloomington sky."
I invite you to listen by clicking on the YouTube link below. The song was recorded in Nashville TN at the studio of Frank Michels. The singer is David Ward. Thanks guys.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaQZZfYpDKM
 
I haven't visited Nashville since 1998. I miss it. I'd go straight to "Tootsie's Orchid Lounge" on Broadway. Maybe some of that old songwriting genius could rub off on me there. Music created in Nashville is truly from the heart.
Jeff Arundel has written the best-known song about Harmon Killebrew to date. Jeff's song isn't just about Harmon, it's about father-son relationships and the maturation process. The best songs give us "sub-plots" like that. My song is a little more superficial and I don't mind. I really wanted to work in several names of the very early Twins players. I accomplished that, plus I gave special attention to the 1965 World Series which was the apex of the early Twins years.
Friends of mine might say "man, that happened so long ago, would anyone care?" I feel it's vital we always be reminded of that storied 1965 season, a season that may have become a little buried in our memories due to the accomplishments of the 1987 and 1991 teams. We all went gaga in '87 and '91, me included, but all that left me with a little sadness as I remembered the '65 team came up just shy of the world championship. We won three games in the World Series of '65. We lost to the Dodgers and their superstar pitcher Sandy Koufax in Game 7.
Sandy Koufax! I even inserted his name in my song, quite respectfully. The Dodgers' manager had to alter his pitching rotation for the Series because of Sandy having to observe a Jewish holiday!
How heartbreaking Game 7 was! But remember, '65 was the year that the storied New York Yankees' dynasty of that era died. The Twins had a lot to do with that. The key date was July 11. The Twins trailed by one run going into the bottom of the ninth against the Yankees. Killebrew hit a two-run home run for the win! It was like a knockout punch vs. those (damn) Yankees. Mickey Mantle was in the ranks.
My song talks about how "The Senators came" (to Minnesota) - indeed we were not a "new" team in 1961, we were a transplant! Calvin Griffith brought his struggling Washington Senators here. The franchise picked up steam upon coming to the Bloomington prairie. What heroes those early Twins were, in the eyes of the young "boomers," the kids who watched the Casey Jones TV show. Killebrew became an icon. I hope my song contributes something in terms of remembering him and the early Minnesota Twins, the chapter with Earl Battey, Zoilo Versalles and Vic Power!
Harmon has left this life. The chorus of my song ends with me pointing out that Harmon is now "out on that heavenly field" (playing baseball in heaven of course). I'm reminded of the 1951 movie "Angels in the Outfield."
Harmon was the first of four batters to hit a ball over the left field roof at Detroit's Tiger Stadium. He was like a god out of Green mythology.
Click on the link below to read a post I wrote not long after Harmon's death, called "The ball sailed off Harmon's bat." Thanks for reading, and listening.
http://ilovemorris73.blogspot.com/2011/06/ball-sailed-off-harmons-bat.html
 
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, November 10, 2014

Kirby Puckett, "that bowling ball," thrilled us in past era

How strange it seems, writing about the Kirby Puckett era in Twins baseball as "the old days." A check of the calendar shows, indeed, that the storied '87 and '91 teams are getting buried in time. Puckett was a symbol of all that success.
I wrote a song in 1997 in honor of this fantastic athlete. At the time of doing this, I mentioned the project to a photographer acquaintance who worked for the Fergus Falls-based advertising shopper. He instantly smiled and said "oh, that bowling ball!" What a nifty reference to "The Puck's" physique. It was made with reverence.
Regardless of the physique, Puckett put up numbers that would be the envy of any ballplayer. The physique might be useful for knocking over a catcher or breaking up the double play. "That bowling ball" brought endless loud acclamations from fans who filled the Metrodome. Now the Metrodome is being retired into the distant past. I remember all the discussions leading up to the Dome, and its unveiling as a facility so different from its predecessor.
BTW here's a link to the song I wrote about Kirby Puckett, now on YouTube. Listen and enjoy:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDQjIVH735A
 
We revere superstars like Kirby Puckett. Presumably we'd love trading places with them. Realistically we would be foolish having such thoughts. Call those guys gladiators. Many of them end up with chronic health issues related to the sport they played.
The biggest hazard in baseball is getting hit by a pitched ball. September 28, 1995, was a fateful day in Twins world. Puckett, poised aggressively at the plate like always, was hit in the face by a fastball. He expected the pitch to break. It did not. The blow shattered his jaw and put him out for the rest of the season.
When the following spring training came along, he at first hit well. But on March 28 he woke up unable to see out of his right eye. Glaucoma was discovered. Four surgeries followed but the problem could not be corrected. A connection to the hit-by-pitch incident? Puckett "had lost his career to an errant Dennis Martinez pitch," wrote Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.
That pitch "smashed his jaw and blurred his vision," Passan continued. "Puckett never was the same after the beaning." Passan described the ugly aftermath in the moments following the incident: "Blood pooled on the ground. When Puckett stood a few minutes later, a towel colored crimson by blood covered his mouth." Teammate Chuck Knoblauch commented post-game: "I still can't believe how much he was bleeding."
Knoblauch would be forced out of the game by a psychological issue, when he was playing for the Yankees. Knoblauch could no longer throw the ball to first base. You are truly in a fishbowl playing major league baseball.
The 1987 story of the Twins seemed like a fairy tale. Few expected our team would reach such heights. Even after it was over, there were skeptics. But the historical record shows we were "world champions." We did it.
Sometimes I think Midwestern teams have to do more to convince people. Any team on the East Coast wins accolades for an accomplishment - there's never any asterisk. The elite East Coast media never seem quite convinced we deserve to be No. 1 out here. We did it again in 1991: climbed to the top. That was the Jack Morris year. Puckett was essential in both campaigns.
Puckett broke into the majors in 1984. He batted over .300 for his career, won several Gold Gloves and graced the diamond for ten All-Star Game appearances. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, in 2001. His sheer exuberance was praised. He wore one uniform his whole career. We'll never forget his leaping catch against the wall at the Dome.
Kirby was the youngest of nine children born into poverty in a Chicago housing project. He got four hits in his first major league start. Would that have been good enough to keep Gene Mauch from platooning him, had Mauch still been manager? Mauch was notorious for the approach. I remember Lyman Bostock complaining.
Puckett's best year was 1988 when he batted .356 with 24 home runs, 42 doubles and 121 RBIs. He anchored the No. 3 spot in the Twins' batting order. He looked like a fullback in football. Still I gravitate to my friend's term: "bowling ball."
Kirby employed a leg kick as he prepared to swing. Close your eyes and I'm sure you can re-create it all in your head. Pretend you're waving a "homer hanky" all over again!
Puckett's post-baseball story was sad - he ballooned up to 300-plus pounds. He died in March of 2006 at the age of just 45. A stroke was the cause. He came from a family with a variety of health issues. Two brothers died very young. Glaucoma was part of a circulatory disorder present in Puckett's entire body.
Today, Puckett and Hrbek and the rest of the gang are a chapter that is receding further into the past, just as the Dome itself is. Man, I remember when the Dome was brand new. As if by magic, we wouldn't have to worry at all about uncooperative weather any more.
Fans always get restless and they want something new. So we got Target Field. I have yet to visit there. I'm not sure the Twins can capture my interest anymore. But how I revere those memories. Truth be told, I cherish more the memories of the Killebrew/Oliva team. But what a blast we had in the late 1980s. It makes me want to recite the title of my song: "I Wanna Be Like Kirby Puckett."
Kirby Puckett, RIP.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

San Mateo CA: wonderful place, Mediterranean climate

Spectacular San Mateo Bridge (Richard Eriksson photo)
First I invite you to click on the link below to hear a song I wrote in 1982, inspired by the community of San Mateo CA! It was recorded as a "demo" when I had a chance to submit some material to recording artist T.G. Sheppard. The song was recorded in Canoga Park CA. Enjoy! 
- Brian Williams, Morris MN
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSdIzpngX_0
 
My sense of the macro world was driven by a hobby in my youth. I subscribed to a publication full of contributions from youth who lived all over the U.S. Such an experience can be like a geography lesson. Where is San Mateo, California? What a wonderful name for a community. It's where the co-publishers of the hobby journal lived. Those guys weren't much older than me. They were two brothers, last name of Gaydos.
I learned that San Mateo was a sunny community in California. I might suggest it's a wonderful place to live, but I suppose earthquakes are a worry. It's in the San Francisco Bay area. The Golden Gate Bridge is breathtaking. There's another bridge with the San Mateo name that is quite the impressive structure too.
San Mateo doesn't seem like a famous city but it's certainly substantial. It has a population of just under 100,000. It's in the high-tech enclave of Silicon Valley. It's one of the larger suburbs on the San Francisco peninsula. The Mediterranean type of climate would seem quite pleasant. The typical weather fare calls for warm, dry summers and mild, damp winters. I could certainly pine for such a setting given that as I write this, we're on the cusp of another Minnesota winter! Our last winter tested our resilience for living here.
I can close my eyes and think of wonderful San Mateo CA. They do deal with winds there, due to a gap in the mountains west of the College of San Mateo. Wind? I would be quite acclimated already. The wind brings fog toward San Mateo in late afternoon through early morning in summer.
I saw an update on the Gaydos boys - Ron and Len - a few years ago in the dying days of the publication they founded. Dying days? Well of course, silly rabbit, the Internet has wiped out the need for most hobby-oriented print publications.
The Gaydos boys launched their adventure, their publication, in the days well before desktop publishing, therefore they had special hurdles to surmount. And of course, the publication had a crude (quaint, viewed from today) look. Oh, but it was charming and appealing to the hobbyists. OK, what was that hobby? It was APBA simulation baseball, a tabletop game using dice and game boards. Far out!
Madden Football wasn't even a twinkle in anyone's eyes yet. Those were the "analog" days of using systems that could be cumbersome, slow and taxing. We didn't know any different. We loved it. I think we learned discipline that might escape the youth of today, who take so much for granted. APBA baseball was slow. But we vividly saw how the whole system was set up. We saw its underbelly. It made us analyze mathematically. It complemented our formal education. Certainly we had to be astute with numbers. You needed an organized mind. The only "electric" component to the game might be a table lamp.
The APBA Journal connected the community of APBA baseball hobbyists from all around the U.S. I bought my game in 1970. I only played it for 4-5 years, then I moved on to other interests, but I have never forgotten about APBA, the "APBA Journal" and the Gaydos boys. The Gaydos boys of San Mateo CA.
"San Mateo" is Spanish for "Saint Matthew." By car - the car has almost divine importance in California - San Mateo is 30 minutes from downtown San Jose and 25 miles from downtown San Francisco.
You'll probably get on State Route 92 which might be the "San Mateo Freeway" that I write about in my original song. State Route 92 traverses the spectacular San Mateo Bridge. It meets State Route 35.
San Mateo has one of the larger, well-developed, more prominent suburban downtowns in the San Francisco Bay area. You'll want to visit Hillsdale Mall to be sure. The economy of the city is diverse with jobs in tech, health care, financial services, government and retail trade. The College of San Mateo has over 10,000 students, and is located in the western foothills, affording a panoramic view of San Francisco Bay. The chorus of my song ends with a reference to glorious "San Francisco Bay!"
San Mateo cares about its overall environment and has 15-plus parks scattered around. "Coyote Point Park" is a rock outcropped peninsula that juts out into San Francisco Bay. What a place!
How wonderful it would be to visit San Mateo CA, assuming no earthquake is looming! I hope the "Gaydos boys" remain happy and healthy. Good luck, guys. I'm happy to have written a song about your stomping grounds!
"San Mateo Freeway. . .It's taking me where I want to be. . ."
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Redwood Valley ends MACA volleyball season

First, let's correct another error from the Willmar newspaper: This is in the sport of cross country where MACA has two student athletes in for the state meet. Savannah Aanerud is a sophomore, not a freshman as reported in the West Central Tribune article reviewing the section meet.
A cross country parent gave me the heads-up. This parent also said "Savannah's 16th birthday was the day of the section meet." Well, congrats and good luck in the spectacular state cross country meet which is held in Northfield (Jesse James' last stand).
I have the error corrected on my blog post. My credibility is all I have as a journalist.
 
Redwood Valley 3, Tigers 2
The Tigers of the volleyball world were hoping to get through round 2 of post-season play. They were the slight on-paper favorite.
MACA met Redwood Valley on a hectic night at our local public school. The resource expo and community meal were held Tuesday. Originally those events were supposed to be on Monday. Our family got fooled. Yes, I realize the change was well-promoted, as several people have told me. Some of us are a little isolated. Whenever I turn on the Morris radio, as during a bad storm or tornado watch, it seems we're subjected to rock 'n' roll music from the '50s and '60s. It's not a favored fare of mine, especially blaring through the speakers of a cheap radio.
Who's Joe Schmidt or Joe Schmitt or however it's spelled? Evidently the resource expo was re-scheduled in deference to him. That's according to word on the street. I would suggest that the school calendar not be changed so cavalierly.
The volleyball story on Tuesday night was one of back and forth. The Tigers were second-seeded in sub-section, Redwood Valley third. A look at the won-lost records makes me wonder why MACA would be favored. Redwood Valley owned 23 wins coming in, MACA 18. But hopes were high among the orange and black faithful at the Morris Area gym.
Game 1 showed this would certainly be no easy night for coach Kristi Fehr's Tigers. Redwood turned us back 25-22. But MACA fought back to win by the same score in game 2. The pivotal game 3 saw Redwood Valley wrest the momentum back, via a 25-18 win. Now we're on the ropes.
MACA had what it took to prevail in game 4, albeit in a squeaker. MACA won 25-23. Bring on game 5! Alas it was the third-seeded Redwood Valley athletes who prevailed, 15-9, so MACA had to accept the end to its season.
Redwood Valley came out of the night with a glittering 24-5 record. The final Morris Area Chokio Alberta mark: 18-9. It certainly was a memory-filled season.
Karly Fehr was in her usual role as the setting standout. She had 114 good sets in 117 attempts and 32 assists.
Lacee Maanum had the top total in kills with 14, and her good/attempts numbers were 50 of 55. Two Tigers each had 12 kills: Kayla Pring (53 of 58 in G/A) and Brooke Gillespie (41 of 44). Tracy Meichsner had one kill on six of eight G/A. Fehr had a kill on a perfect seven of seven. Haley Erdahl had nine of ten stats in G/A.
Five Tigers each had one ace block: Maanum, Erdahl, Pring, Fehr and Meichsner.
Kourtney Giese, the "libero," was mighty proficient in digs and posted the team-best 36 total. Gillespie had 19 followed by Erdahl (12), Lindsey Dierks (10), Pring (9), Fehr (8) and Meichsner (6). Two Tigers each had one serving ace: Erdahl (17 of 19 in G/A) and Dierks (15/15).
 
Erratum, part 2
As long as we're correcting errors in this post, let's make note of the band concert program which a friend tells me had a reference to "University of Minnesota-Moorhead." There actually were visitors from the Moorhead campus performing on Monday.
I don't report this to point fingers but mainly to express amusement. If I had slipped up like this in my newspaper days, I would have been burned in effigy on Morris' main street by a howling mob bearing torches. Obviously it's "Minnesota State University-Moorhead," which I have always seen as a cumbersome name. It was so much easier to say "Moorhead State College" or "St. Cloud State College." Who cares if the word "college" or "university" is used? Such vanity.
Morris people are offended by the mixup because we're obviously so much superior, being aligned with the U of M, to those mongrel state colleges, right? My tongue is in cheek.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Todd Hoffner matter, what it signals for parents

Todd Hoffner, coach at Minnesota State U-Mankato
(I wrote the following post for my "I Love Morris" site on August 29, 2012. This was when the charges vs. Todd Hoffner were "breaking news." The news was a signal to parents that common sense vigilance might not be enough. Beware "witch hunts." Hoffner has been cleared and is back to work at Mankato State, but residue of the process continues making news.)
 
What a tangled web we weave when we use video cameras.
Having something on film supposedly provides incontrovertible evidence. Except that it isn't that simple in many cases. People are having to explain things on video which in the past would never have seen the light of day. Like that guy using a strap to apply corporal punishment to his child in the back yard. A neighbor videotaped that over a fence. The strap represented a typical punishment that people my age - the boomers - can remember as being routine in our childhood.
We'd get plopped on a car seat without any special legally-mandated measures for "protecting" us. Somehow we got through all that.
It is fine to show vigilance in protecting the safety of children. But the measures can become onerous. The vast majority of boomers, I would guess, have a photo or two tucked away in an old album showing them without clothes on. Our parents wouldn't have worried for a second taking such photos. Just like they didn't hesitate much spanking us.
Parents were given a fair amount of space in which to show judgment.
Did some bad things happen? Yes I'm sure because we're human beings with human failings. We're told from the pulpit every week we're sinful. We strive to use laws to protect the interests of kids as much as possible. There's an old saying though that "the perfect is the enemy of the good."
It shouldn't be dangerous to have kids. The "old man" on "Pawn Stars" is joking when he says it's "scary" to have kids. But he's hinting at a kernel of truth. It's hard enough raising kids when you try to do everything right. A little lapse in judgment today, though, could cause your kids to be ripped away from you.
All these thoughts are prompted by that curious incident in Mankato, a nice mid-size city nestled in southern Minnesota. It's where Morris native Zach Witt went to play college football.
It's the football coach at Mankato State who is at the vortex of a tempest now. And it all came about because of "family videos" that may or may not turn out to be innocent. Which conclusion you reach thus far, appears to depend on what media report you're reading. One day I'll read a report suggesting the videos are innocent even if out of the mainstream. The next day, the subject appears pushed into more of a gray area.
I haven't read anything yet suggesting it's a slam-dunk for the prosecution. I should attach an asterisk. I'm puzzled by the use of "fondling" in the media reports. It's too vague a word to be used in a reliable news article. If the reporter can't get anything more specific from investigators regarding what is meant by the word, a sentence should be inserted saying so.
Right now I'm giving my benefit of the doubt to the accused party who is, or was, the Mavericks' coach at Minnesota State University-Mankato. It used to be "Mankato State University." And, not long before that, "Mankato State College."
I was a student at St. Cloud State University when it shifted from "college" to "university." I didn't notice any difference.
"Minnesota State" is confusing because both Mankato State and Moorhead State go by this. I remember Zach Witt playing quarterback for the Mavericks. I remember the sad pattern of Mankato losing more than their share of close, high-scoring games. The offense certainly shouldn't be faulted.
Zach was a lefty throwing the football. He's the oldest of the three athletically gifted Witt boys, sons of Jerry and Holly. I covered the Tigers when Jerry first became head coach here. Now he's a total graybeard with the wisdom one expects.
I'm sure Mankato State football is trying to regroup and focus now even with that sensational Todd Hoffner story in the background. I'm sure it's quite the story around the diners and coffeehouses in Mankato.
Hoffner is the coach whose family videos have caused a tempest because of legal charges. In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky mess out east, and because of "mandatory reporting" obligations felt in most places now, there looms the possibility of a witch hunt.
Is the current Hoffner matter an unfortunate consequence of the witch hunt pattern? Or is it a legitimate matter where law enforcement needed to intervene - where something egregious was committed? Of course we don't know for certain yet. If I were to be pressed, I would say the videos were totally uninhibited, rather odd and fun episodes of kids unleashed - acting stupid, whatever. I'm not convinced of any sinister aspect.
I can guess what the teachers in parenting classes are going to start saying: "Don't photograph or videotape your children naked ever, no matter what."
Why do parents want to take such photos of the type I've alluded to in connection to the boomers? There's one of me lying on my tummy on a bed, smiling and with no clothes on. Maybe parents see a special kind of beauty in the human body. Artists see this too. Prurient interests needn't be a part.
The sensational stories as reported by the media perhaps cause us to fear the worst too much. We certainly need to pursue the worst cases of wrongdoing. But this must be done with extreme care because "jumping the gun" can ruin lives.
The investigators in Mankato had better be pretty sure of their suspicions. Actually I don't think they are. They'd probably just argue they're "doing things by the book." That's the danger: that legal obligations will trump caution, restraint and patience in the process of sorting things out.
Would anyone dispute the Hoffners' lives are scarred now?
Just as most boomers were photographed in the buff with not a thought of legal consequences, so too were they occasionally spanked. Yes it could be intense. But there weren't video cameras poking all over the place.
Harsh punishment was a tool of love to get kids straightened out. Its effectiveness might be debated. But our parents didn't fear getting called on by social services.
I remember when I was a kid and our family was at the Del Monico Cafe having supper, I begged them to let me leave the booth briefly to look at some item at the neighboring Messner Drug (Thrifty White Drug today). I was a quite young tyke. I was allowed to make the jaunt. The clerk in the store seemed uncomfortable about me being by myself. I told her my parents were right next door but finally she said: "I think you should go back and be with them." Simple encouragement from the wisdom and caring of an adult - no legal action. Today a store clerk in that situation might call 9-1-1 and social services might make a check, with the specter of me possibly having to be separated from my parents for a time.
So maybe there's in fact more than a kernel of sincerity when the "old man" of "Pawn Stars" says "It's scary raising kids."
We don't want people to be scared of having kids. The human race needs to propagate.
There are three generations on "Pawn Stars." It would be neat to take my old Beatles vinyl albums to their business. I would suggest "Pawn Stars" is more a show about family and friendships than about the pawn business literally.
"The old man" really does believe in family. He sets the example. Now we all need to lighten up.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, October 23, 2014

"Hey Jude" was more like an anthem than mere song

Is there anything more subjective than the judgment of music? From what spot in the brain does this gift come, of creating melodies that we find appealing?
The actual product seems not very sophisticated. The most basic three-chord format is the foundation for many of our favorite songs.
So, "sophistication" seems not to be a major element.
You don't get good at this through years of school as with becoming a medical practitioner. It is helpful to immerse yourself in music.
I'm thinking of the song "Hey Jude" (1968) and how simple it is. "Jude" was the name of one of the characters in the Beatles homage movie "Across the Universe."
The song "Hey Jude" is really more of an anthem. It may be the prime signature piece from Paul McCartney's career. 
A mere three basic chords are used in the verse: F major, C major and B-flat. The refrain simply presents a modified triangle - simplicity accented all the way. The simplicity is such, there are no real lyrics in the refrain. The song's title pops up but outside of that, it's just the "nah-nah-nah" syllables. It was an invitation for teens to just go crazy singing it.
The Maynard Ferguson big jazz band had an arrangement of "Hey Jude" that was so popular, it was used at the end of concerts as a climax. The irony is that many serious jazz or big band musicians of the time weren't likely to say anything charitable about the Beatles. The Beatles had swept aside so much of the music that the older crowd had lived with and considered the norm. The Beatles even swept aside a lot of the raw-sounding American rock 'n' roll. Beatles music was on a plane above that, refined even with the simple element employed.
"Hey Jude" was a miraculous song that extended to seven minutes-plus. It is a testament to that song's quality, lest there be any doubt, that it was allowed to be released at such length. The tight confines of radio were pretty hard to fight in those days.
 
From restrained to raucous
"Hey Jude" is significant in part because of the mood change through the course of the song. There is a gentle feel at the start. There's just Paul and his tasteful piano accompaniment. Ultimately the song becomes a resonating, forceful musical statement. Instruments increasingly join in, plus backing vocals. We hear a 36-piece orchestra!
Pop artists of the time were not averse to bringing in classical instruments from that realm of music we called "square." Even Jim Morrison of the Doors, total iconoclast that he was, benefited from strings in perhaps his most captivating tune, "Touch Me." Think of what orchestra instruments did for the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby."
The youth yawned about pure classical music. But they were mesmerized when such music "sneaked in" to add texture with popular tunes. Paul McCartney called in a piccolo trumpet player for the classic "Penny Lane" from "Magical Mystery Tour." The trumpet passage elevates that song considerably higher in the Beatles' pantheon of classics.
The orchestra musicians on "Hey Jude" were encouraged to "get loose," and they laid down their instruments to clap and sing in the refrain.
"Hey Jude" was released as a single with another top-notch Beatles song, "Revolution," on the other side. I may have sympathized with the message in "Revolution" but I never cared for it that much as music. It seemed too restless and subversive - messages that may have had their place, yes, but music is at its best when it's uplifting, reminding us of our better side and better qualities.
Lennon and McCartney competed for the 'A' side of this single release. Paul was crowned the winner with his distinctive "Hey Jude."
Maynard Ferguson sent the members of his trumpet section into the crowd for the extended refrain. It was totally wild. I would consider it needlessly wild today. But us youth went nuts as these trumpet players all sought to show off their "scream" quality in this refrain. We might conclude Glenn Miller would roll over in his grave.
Maynard Ferguson himself started out "Hey Jude" by playing the melody on soprano sax. But of course, scream trumpet was Maynard's forte. As the refrain jumbled into total chaos with trumpet players beginning to "scream" randomly, Maynard finally called all that off so he could simply play his climactic high notes from the stage all by himself. Many of his young fans watched and listened with unbridled reverence as though in church. Indeed, Maynard would eventually record "Gospel John" which became another classic to his fans.
Bandleader Buddy Rich had a hard-charging arrangement of the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood." Exciting as these arrangements were, they of course didn't give us the lyrics. It's a testament to the Beatles' genius, of course, that their melodies were so strong, they could become classic big band arrangements. The big band leaders of the '70s had no problem riding piggy-back on the Fab 4's talent. It's ironic because the rock music that germinated in the 1950s pushed aside the big band era.
Fluidity is a characteristic of music and its evolution. As Brad Pitt said in the movie "Moneyball," playing Billy Beane, "adapt or die."
Maynard Ferguson adapted. He had been through the 1960s which was a dry desert for big band jazz. He was ready to do anything to jump-start his beloved art form. And this he did magnificently beginning in 1970, happily doing covers of the "new breed's" material.
 
Sigh of relief: Ringo stays on board!
The Beatles' "Hey Jude" was released with a televised performance. Not well-known at the time was that drummer Ringo Starr was getting back to work after having quit! The Beatles were no longer the cohesive unit they once were. Starr was getting turned off by the conflicts, for one thing. He also felt his own drumming wasn't going that well. I would argue that without a continuous "live" playing slate, it's very difficult for a musician to stay in his desired groove.
The Beatles had to stop performing live, or at least they felt they had to, because audiences were out of control. It seemed the audiences weren't even reacting to the music anymore - it was mayhem for the sake of mayhem. There was an element of this to Maynard Ferguson's concerts in St. Paul MN in the 1970s. He totally appealed to youth of the baby boom - those kids who could be so out of control with their behavior. I remember Maynard at one point "snapping" and feeling as though he had to assert some control. He got serious and perturbed and proclaimed "cool it!" The audience was starting to get crazy for crazy's sake. I remember being at a Rodney Dangerfield concert at the Minnesota State Fair in about 1980 when the same thing happened. Kids of today: you should know that your parents could be silly and out of control with their behavior. The comedic Dangerfield suddenly started acting like he had had enough.
Ringo's alienation happened at a time when another big disruption came about, that being Yoko Ono's emergence with John.
The Beatles climbed to glory with their interpersonal chemistry. With the "White Album," they had reached a chapter where they could no longer tap that pure camaraderie. Paul grated ever more with his bossy traits. Apple company business was a wedge. The Beatles kept churning out music. It ended too soon for most of the generation that showed an almost unhealthy reverential awe toward them.
Such a phenomenon couldn't happen again. Remember, high-quality recorded music was a rare commodity in that earlier time. The recording industry in England was ahead of its counterpart here. This is well documented (and underrated) as a factor.
The Beatles had everything fall in place for them. Their talent was an essential building block. But there was so much more that had to work. And it all did, for a few short years anyway. "Hey Jude" represents their talent as well as anything. It's a pinnacle. A manifestation of perfection? You can sing the refrain when you're "impaired" in some way. Or play scream trumpet. Let's celebrate such simplicity.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, October 17, 2014

Hey Morris! Thoughts out and about in crisp 2014 fall

Entering UMM from the north: fine view (B.W. photos)
This post includes items that originally appeared on an addendum basis with recent Tiger sports posts on "I Love Morris." If you don't follow sports, you didn't catch these, and in any case I appreciate all readers!
 
Whither Morris' future?
I can remember the days when we had parking meters in Morris. That was when "downtown" was where you went to buy things and socialize. Men often went to the "pool hall."
Changing of the colors: beautiful fall scene at UMM.
Such was the primacy of the old "main street" in America, cities got revenue from parking meters. I
A view of Morris from the east, from by the river
Les Lindor helped make the WCROC "overlook" possible.
remember photographing an incident outside the Chamber of Commerce office in Morris, located where "Stephanie Foto" is now, where Congressman Arlan Stangeland's vehicle was about to be ticketed. He may have gotten a pass on that, most appropriately.
The Beatles had a song with the lyrics "Lovely Rita, meter maid."
Cartoonist Del Holdgrafer of Donnelly did a cartoon marking the end of that institution of parking meters in Morris. It had to happen. Economic geography was changing. The "Gibson's" store was a shot across the bow for that. I remember an apprehensive main street merchant saying sarcastically "I'm heading to Gibson's to get my 19-cent windshield scraper."
Go ahead and be sarcastic, people were going to be lured to these larger stores. The old main street model with its men's clothing stores and the like, was going to be "gone with the wind." Eventually people were lured not only by Gibson's (later to become Pamida and then Shopko) but to Alexandria, a much more practical destination due to cars being made more durable and reliable.
I chuckle whenever I see a sign outside of a community pointing me to a "business district." That term is a vestige of the old model. What the sign is really saying is, "main street is this way." Really, who cares? Main streets have largely become a quiet collection of businesses not nearly as attuned to the old walk-in model.
As some primary businesses in Morris seek a new location on the outskirts, out north of the highway by McDonald's, we have to wonder if our main street might be on the verge of actual blight. Maybe that term is too strong, so maybe I ought to stick with "quiet." Quiet and peaceful can be pleasant attributes but they don't make cash registers ring.
I have been hearing comments in a vein of levity about whether there are "enough financial services companies" to fill any holes on main street. When I was a kid we were scarcely aware of "financial services companies." People put money in the bank or they simply spent it. The stock market seemed a distant, mysterious and even rather foreboding place. It was a place where rich people played around with their money. Silly rabbit, rich people are never careless with their money. How do you think they got rich?
I have never accepted this new model that has common, middle class people lured into squirreling away money in non-FDIC investments. I have waited years to be vindicated on my thoughts about this, and maybe I still will be. As they say, if you wait long enough, the bears (on Wall Street) are always right.
In the old days in Morris, going downtown was rather a social occasion, especially on that one night of the week when stores agreed to stay open. You'd make your rounds, toting your sacks of items, and seeing your friends/neighbors. You might dine at the Del Monico Cafe, next to Messner Drugstore. That space is now occupied by Thrifty White Drug (on the west side of main street).
The Morris Theater might be abuzz for an Elvis movie. Today the theater survives as a co-op. I'm not sure it's worth the trouble. Some things are best left in the past, like parking meters.
So, Heartland Motors, Thrifty White Drug and Town and Country are re-locating, at least according to "word on the street?" This will bring a sea change unless other interests move into the vacated spots.
What will become of City Center Mall? Hats off to Floyd Schmidgall for his dream of building something classy on main street, and certainly that building is a pleasant place. Stevens County offices seemed to work out quite fine there. Stevens County used Floyd's space while the renovation or new construction of the courthouse was proceeding (a project I'm not sure we needed at all).
I heard positive comments about county offices being at City Center Mall. It was handy and on ground-level - truly "people-friendly." Of course, government doesn't want an image that is too friendly.
I feel rather intimidated entering our courthouse now. If I'm there to pay a bill, I have to use an elevator. Offices that regularly receive checks should be on ground level. I was advised once that parking is available higher up on the building's east side, but the space often fills up. Not only that, you'll see law enforcement vehicles parked there which can be very scary. If some cop comes out of that building and sees your seat belt not on, you're toast.
Reports are coming in from around the USA of cops who can become very irritable and testy even during a seat belt stop which you'd think is trivial. In at least one instance, someone got shot by a cop. I try to keep my distance from these individuals (cops) as much as possible. They can be dangerous. "The system" has created this and there's apparently nothing we can do about it. All those citations bring in revenue to grease the wheels of government.
I expressed my frustrations about a seat belt stop with a city councilman (while we were waiting at McDonald's) and he responded with one word (and a smile): "revenue." I wouldn't smile so readily. At least keep your guns in holsters, guys (or women), and maybe consider not bringing them into restaurants.
If the drugstores vacate Morris' main street, that part of town is going to be challenged attracting "foot traffic." "Foot traffic" is an intangible - it means that the potential for commerce is always around. What will happen to those old drugstore spaces?
What if businesses invest a ton of money to re-locate and then the U.S. is beset by a fallen economy? Look what the stock market has done lately.
Here's a sudden thought: What if we learn after the economy tanks that Jim Cramer actually had all his money in bank CDs? Business news reporting may not be what it appears. I have read that "trading floors" are really only maintained as "a backdrop for the financial networks." Enron had faking trading desks. Don't let the media unduly influence you.
What is to become of the Morris "business district," that place where families would wander on that designated weekday evening with a festive air presiding, toting those sacks? Saying "hi," pausing to chat?
We have ushered out those parking meters long ago. Wasn't Marlene Reineke a "meter maid?" The main street men's clothing store is a museum candidate. Long ago, "hats" were a big part of their business, along with the traditional suits and ties. Today people dress "grubby" to go to church and no one cares.
Time marches on.
 
"Northstar" makes dubious return at UMM
The newsstands labeled "Northstar" were empty for quite a while into the new school year at the University of Minnesota-Morris. I wish that paper could have found the resources to publish a September issue, just as a gesture of "welcome back" or to prevent empty newsstands which seem rather pointless.
The Northstar apparently has its own lawyers who seem to date to be much sharper than the University's own lawyers. Congratulations to them. If UMM had its way, this publication would not have the leverage of its very own newsstands around campus. It doesn't deserve such a standing. Those prickly students could just go online, like we all can, find a platform for their ideas (if you can discern them past all the juvenile venting they do) and build an audience. That would make too much sense.
Instead we have this paper product called "Northstar" bringing attention to itself, to a degree far beyond what it deserves. These students are conservative or libertarian and are resentful. Perusing these papers, one senses they actually resent UMM. Aside from reasons of taste, this could be reason enough to try to shut them down.
Shut them down? But oh my, don't we have a First Amendment? Anyone who spouts about the First Amendment here is misguided, because this argument would only be apt if some sort of criminal conviction was being weighed based on a student's thoughts, ideas or writing. Of course no one is thinking on  those terms.
Journalists and editors can get removed from their positions, and publications can go under, due to the usual vicissitudes of the marketplace. The First Amendment is irrelevant in such cases. An editor of a campus paper could be seen as incompetent or injecting improper values, thus could be removed by whatever designated authority is in place. Maybe it would be the chancellor herself.
Journalists are not spared accountability just because of the First Amendment, which like all amendments can be misunderstood.
I have no doubt these Northstar students have some valid ideas worthy of airing. Have the principles behind affirmative action run their course? Is it time to start drawing the curtain on them? Are students unreasonably burdened by loan debt? This is a prime topic for discussion on college campuses now.
If only the Northstar students could hone in on these arguments in a more rational, level-headed way, we could appreciate their points more. There seems anger behind the so-called "satire" in the Northstar - at least I sense this. It has the effect of putting UMM administration and faculty members on the defensive. It perhaps distracts them from applying their full focus to their jobs. It might have a demoralizing effect. They wouldn't like admitting this. They project an air of indifference, probably.
The Northstar does not deserve to be one of the two on-paper student publications on campus. It almost seems like a classic college gag. It shows chutzpah on its cover, proclaiming that it's "classy (for a change)" and that it's a publication that students actually "talk, read and care about." I suppose people would "talk" about me too if I publicly farted.
Classy? A publication that finds it necessary to refer to Chancellor Jacqueline Johnson's vagina? To assert that "Jacquie Johnson is rape culture?"
Part of the college experience is learning to respect and defer to the people who are paid to lead/teach you. If you feel you do not need this leadership, then maybe you don't belong at UMM or in college at all. Maybe you're too smart to be here. Well then, why not just move along?
 
That curious new fence by McDonald's/Coborn's
Are we seeing "range wars" in Morris? Just kidding, and there's no barbed wire involved, but a fence is piquing curiosity among the local citizenry. That rather odd fence in the Coborn's parking lot - excuse me, Coborn's doesn't exist anymore - is requiring some adjusting.
Of course, that parking lot isn't the beehive it once was. Coborn's and McDonald's together once attracted lots of motorists who filled parking spaces. At that time, in the heyday of that spot in Morris, no one much cared about any property dividing line in the parking lot. Both businesses were doing fine. I guess it's different now.
It seems the property owner for the blighted old Coborn's building wants everyone to know there is indeed a property dividing line. Hey it's just a parking lot! It does have value, though, even with the Coborn's building vacated and tumbleweeds blowing out front. It's nice to have that "breathing space" with the ample paved parking.
There's even an old "no loitering" sign on the lot's edge! We should be so lucky as to have loitering on that end of town. To the extent there was ever any loitering out there, it never bothered me. It's even rather nice to see such activity. People and traffic are what a town is all about, or should be.
Now we see a property owner who apparently sees fit to make a statement about how a certain piece of parking space is theirs. Never mind that those interests don't seem to be serving Morris' interests at all right now. It's just vacated, empty space around a rather embarrassing old building with its sign that proclaims "open 24 hours." That would be nice if it were true. Now we don't have a true 24-hour grocery store.
The "for sale" sign has had the name of Dennis Miller on it. It would be nice if this were Dennis Miller the comedian, so maybe we wouldn't have to take these gestures seriously. One look at the fence and you sense there's a conflict afoot.
I suppose McDonald's has been approached about buying the parking space. Is it a fair price or more of an extortion-type price? Who ever heard of a fence in the middle of a parking lot serving no apparent purpose?
It's common for semis, tour buses and school buses to pull in there. The space is now insufficient for all that.
Really, the City of Morris has an interest in this. And BTW, how come City Manager Blaine Hill hasn't put up any new blog posts for several months? Might he feel pressure to try to explain what happened at the library?
I realize that property brings certain rights - it's an underpinning of our way of life. But there's also such a thing as common sense and civility. We're not in a big city where such principles can be disregarded or blown off. We're Morris. We're a Garrison Keillor-type town. We don't need to resort to lawyers for every little thing, do we?
I do know we have an overly aggressive police department. That's actually rather scary. In these days when news reports of trigger-happy police are surfacing, it's concerning. Those dudes carry guns!
We recently learned of a case where a young guy who pulled into a parking lot and took off his seat belt before coming to a stop, was accosted by a law enforcement person who proceeded to shoot him! That officer has been fired and charged. In Ferguson MO the situation has been more murky.
The way Morris Police give seat belt citations is disgusting. I just hope they keep their guns in their holsters. I'd like to see local restaurants stop serving law enforcement personnel in uniform. That would send a message. Perhaps we need a complete housekeeping from the top down.
Will the Homecoming parade be rescheduled? Let's hope.
 
Passion behind cross country, running
Writing about cross country makes me remember the days when I ran 5Ks and 10Ks. Looking back, the 5K distance would have been entirely adequate for all such events. We sought to "tough it out" for the longer distance.
Running hard for five kilometers will tax your body to the max. If you run ten kilometers, just run slower and enjoy the scenery. Of course, many people become possessed to run the marathon. "Possessed" can be interpreted literally. I think it's a strange lure - this desire to run continually (or nearly continually) for 26.2 miles. That's running from here to Benson.
Now that I have castigated marathon runners, let me hurriedly add that I ran three marathons in my halcyon days. However, I never trained specifically for any of those marathons.
I ran the Twin Cities Marathon three times in the fall of the year. It was after the summer in which I made the rounds for doing 5Ks and 10Ks in our placid rural outstate communities. I remember one year having to beat the train across an intersection doing the 10K for the Elbow Lake Flekkefest - really. I also remember that race fondly for how kids in troll costumes would dash out and "scare" you in various places.
I remember that in Ashby, I went to the concession stand at the softball tournament to ask directions for where the runners were gathering. They laughed because all the runners were coming there to ask directions. I remember that for the Dumont Centennial, there was a breakdown with the stopwatch and so, after sweating hard to do a good 10K, we couldn't even find out our time. Oh, it's no biggie.
I did a run for the Donnelly Threshing Bee during that brief time when the Bee included this event. I handed my camera to Mrs. Spohr who took newspaper photos for me as I ran.
These small-town runs were charming with their very peaceful atmosphere and the camaraderie us runners felt. It was the stuff of a country music song. From that setting I sprang to the Twin Cities Marathon in three different years, where of course the atmosphere was quite different, quite thrilling really. It was neat running amidst that virtual sea of runners at event's start. There would be TV helicopters hovering overhead. We certainly didn't see that at Dumont!
Yes, I ran those marathons without training specifically for them. I just considered them an extension of the summer running season. I firmly believe you do not need to train specifically for very long distances. What you do, is run several 5Ks and 10Ks with maximum intensity and commitment, and then just "tack on" that marathon experience at the end. You'll be ready. In fact, you'll perform better in the marathon with this approach, as opposed to the approach where you simply get ready for the long distance. Just use common sense and pace yourself when you do the marathon.
It's exhilarating in the Twin Cities to have fans cheering you on, the whole way. I remember a band playing at Minnehaha Park. One year I wore a long-sleeve T-shirt that had "New York City Marathon" on the front, and was acknowledged accordingly by all the spectators along the way. I have been to "The Big Apple" twice but have never done the New York City Marathon.
I remember doing a 10K in Fargo where I broke 40 minutes for the first time. I nearly broke three hours in my first Twin Cities Marathon in 1984. Considering my large and somewhat lanky stature, that was a quite excellent time. I failed to do better in my next two Twin Cities Marathons. However, I did enjoy picking up my complimentary package of Pillsbury microwave brownie mix when registering!
I developed injury excuses as the years went on, like all runners. Today I swear I could "do it again," although every time I try, I quickly run out of gas. There was a time when I felt I could impress women by doing this, but I was wrong.
The best runners are very light and wispy. Carrying minimal weight is absolutely essential. We can fail to appreciate how small these people are, because when they're photographed, they're often with each other.
Alan Page gained note for taking up the pastime after his football playing days. Certainly his body didn't seem to lend itself, but he enjoyed. I did a springtime race in western Wisconsin where Page was present. He has been on the Minnesota Supreme Court for a long time. I hope he doesn't show head injury symptoms.
I have a rich tapestry of memories from my running experiences of the 1980s and into the 1990s. A sore right foot caused me to quit. Today I can jog short-term without having that pain re-surface, but if I try taking it a step further, it's no-go. My right foot will feel like an alligator is biting it. So. . .
I congratulate the intrepid cross country runners of Morris Area Chokio Alberta. Stick with it, guys and gals. And don't worry about trolls.
 
Reprise of a fun old story
Here's a favorite humorous story that I believe was originally brought to my attention by Della DeGier, office manager for the Morris Sun Tribune. Della is deceased. She and I had an old-fashioned workplace sense of humor. That kind of irreverence has been getting ushered out. Joe Tetrault, also deceased, used to address Della as "Delilah."
 
There was a young man once with a passion for baked beans, although they had a rather unpleasant side effect with him. He met a young lady and fell in love, whereupon he realized that she would stand for none of this and that once he got married, he'd have to sacrifice the beans. Then one day he was driving home and his car broke down. He parked it and decided to walk, whereupon he passed a diner where the aroma of freshly baked beans overwhelmed him. He figured he could have some and then walk off any ill effects, so he ordered three big servings. He putt-putted his way home, where he was greeted by his wife, who informed him that she had a wonderful surprise awaiting him, but she'd have to blindfold him. She led him into the dining room and sat him down at the table, his blindfold securely on. Then the phone rang and she said she'd be back in a couple minutes. In the privacy of the room, the young man had some unfinished business so he lifted up a leg and "let fire," followed by some other blasts until there was a real "prize winner." He grabbed his napkin and fanned the air to disperse the ill effects. Then his wife returned and said "I have the most wonderful surprise for you tonight." She removed the blindfold, whereupon the man was treated to the sight of several of the couple's closest friends, all seated around the dinner table next to him - guests for dinner that night.
 
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com