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).

Friday, September 30, 2016

NDSU President Dean Bresciani in a tangled web

Dean Bresciani (Fargo Monthly image)
I have to hand it to football. There is a strong basis for ushering football out of our lives. We have allowed this huge monster to be created. The people who make money off of football have it made. They benefit from what is, in effect, a drug. All the king's horsemen and all the king's men, i.e. those elements in the entertainment industry outside of football, cannot reduce football's impact.
North Dakota State University is thumping its chest in football. The institution has recognized the value of its product. It appears to have crossed a line with how it's milking the popularity. Now we have an outside firm brought in to look over the shoulder of the president. The embarrassment of riches continued with the Bison's triumph over Big 10 member University of Iowa.
Fargo! And, we all remember how that bastion of the northern plains humbled our University of Minnesota Gophers. The Bison are quite ahead of our Gophers in inspiring enthusiasm.
We hear constantly about how the participants in football face health issues that all families ought to recognize. That appeals to the rational part of us. When you're dealing with a drug, though, like football, rationality can be quickly swept aside.
I have fought with this demon myself. I normally consume lots of cable TV news. It's normally quite a steady diet for me, but I have become so sickened by the endless obsessive coverage of the presidential campaign, I have to withdraw. Withdraw to what? It's hard to accept the typical sludge on the range of cable TV channels. I have to confess, I'm back to watching more football than my good sense tells me to watch. So, I have to hand it to this magical game and all its media sycophants. We listen to the color analysts, former players who probably go home at the end of the day and wonder about their frequently-occurring headaches.
 
NDSU bites off a bit too much
At the end of July, we learned about new restrictions on media access at NDSU.
We heard Vince Vaughn in the movie "Dodgeball" say "everybody has a price." But the line needs to be drawn somewhere. NDSU poked into territory beyond that line and is now humbled. Not only that, the president of the school, the apparently embattled Dean Bresciani, has been twisted into a pretzel trying to explain it all. It's a pretzel worthy of spitting out, as the institution has now arranged for an outside consultant to determine if the president has been speaking with forked tongue.
Kathy Perkins, lawyer/watchdog
The civilized way of describing this is "communication issues." It's something that all school administrators must grapple with, as they try to satisfy their range of constituencies. I've seen this at the micro level. At NDSU, the marketing machinations and instincts became excessive, perhaps a reaction to the ever-growing mania with the football program.
Fargo! Who would have thought that school could reach such heights? I remember when I was young, I heard that if you worked for a company and got assigned to Fargo, you were at the bottom of the totem pole. That's a mean thing to consider. Today, due to the massive inroads of technology, "remote" places are simply not remote anymore. Fargo can be a quite relevant place. Naming a movie "Fargo" was a way of suggesting the old remoteness. That's Hollywood. That's stereotyping.
No longer are the NDSU Bison cannon fodder for a Big 10 team in the non-conference schedule. NDSU is big-time, and in response to that, we see the Vince Vaughn credo in effect. "We've grown so much that we need to protect our brand," was the chutzpah-filled quote from Jeremy Jorgenson, NDSU director of sales and broadcasting.
Jorgenson pulled the strings for shafting the whole range of media outlets that did not have NDSU "broadcast rights agreements." They wouldn't be allowed to do one-on-one interviews with the head football or basketball coaches on radio, TV or Internet in season without the written consent of NDSU. Might permission be granted through a special request? Jorgenson said "it would probably be denied."
 
Excrement hit the fan
Just days after all this was announced, President Bresciani said "shame," in effect, and took charge by saying these new rules were hooey and would be discarded. He said he was profoundly disappointed when learning of the restrictions. Yes, just like Chris Christie was disappointed when learning about Bridgegate. What a tangled web we weave. Apologies spilled forward. But, who knew what, when?
A Kansas lawyer was selected to conduct an independent investigation into President Bresciani's handling of the short-lived media policy. Kathy Perkins, based in Lawrence, Kansas, has entered the picture to ensure the truth comes out, because apparently the principals involved in this cannot be trusted to do so. Should NDSU administration be whistling past the graveyard?
Perkins' legal practice focuses largely on workplace and employment law, investigations and mediation. Her estimated fee is $8,000 to $12,000. At issue: whether Bresciani's handling of the media guidelines violated any board policies. Bresciani "declined comment." Oh my.
Here's the tangled web: Text messages between Bresciani and athletic department officials showed that the president initially supported efforts to defend the new media rules. He mocked those critical of them, a la Chris Christie re. his Bridgegate accusers. "I worked the cones!"
Current testimony indicates that it's quite likely Christie was aware of the traffic problems while they were on. Clever like a fox (or lawyer), Christie's denials were probably finely tuned to technically escape accusations of speaking with forked tongue.
 
Nothing to see here?
Bresciani has tried saying his comments were "misinterpreted." The NDSU board already had communication issues with its president. Perkins' findings are expected soon, maybe even by today (Friday, Sept. 30).
When I use the expression "forked tongue," I of course am doing something questionable, invoking language from old Indian movie stereotypes. I hope it's taken as innocuous here, and of course Indians were misled, lied to, on many occasions. NDSU's prime rival, University of North Dakota, has been through a thicket of controversy over the longstanding "Fighting Sioux" name, now replaced by "Fighting Hawks."
It seems quaint now, thinking back to when so many UND supporters felt it essential to cling to something like a sports nickname. Why do college sports teams even need nicknames? They mean nothing, except that in UND's case there was an impugning of a whole race of people. One of UND's rivals had fans that would chant "smallpox blankets." That was the lowest of the low. UND in its early days had the "Flickertails" nickname. Maybe they should have just gone back to that.
Tradition can be excruciatingly hard to shed in college sports. Look how some students rioted over the ouster of elderly Coach Joe Paterno at Penn State. Did Paterno fight to preserve his job because of certain things he wanted kept swept under the carpet? Look at the ruckus when the irritating Bob Knight was let go at University of Indiana. Today, fans at Penn State and Indiana can feel embarrassment over how so many of the faithful were reluctant to get rid of a decaying status quo.
NDSU
is bringing great pride to that northern wasteland place known as Fargo (at least according to the old stereotype). We all ought to be shedding our enthusiasm for football. It's quite the grudging process. Football has found the magical key to attracting eyeballs. Still, there may be some whistling past the graveyard.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minneosta - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, September 29, 2016

MACA volleyball turns back Melrose and BOLD

Tigers 3, Melrose 0
MACA enjoyed more sweep success on the volleyball court on Tuesday, Sept. 27. Action was at the Melrose court. The Tigers continued their habit of winning by sweep. Scores were 25-15, 25-14 and 25-19. It was our 12th win of the season. It was yet another reason to feel happy during Homecoming week. Melrose has a .500 team.
Koral Tolifson came at the Dutchmen with two serving aces. Karly Fehr had another busy night setting, racking up 35 set assists. Brooke Gillespie was a force in hitting, on this night accumulating 16 kills. Jenna Howden and Ashley Solvie each had 12 kills. Karly Fehr contributed three kills and Nicole Solvie had two.
Gillespie and Karly Fehr each had one ace block. Riley Decker led in digs with 16, followed by Gillespie (15), Karly Fehr (10) and Tolifson (6).
The Tigers entered mid-week with an 8-0 conference record.
 
"Warehouse Invite"
Weekend action had coach Kristi Fehr's Tigers in the very high-caliber Midwest Volleyball Warehouse. Many of the state's strongest teams gathered to play in Burnsville. There were 16 total teams, of which 12 were ranked in the state's top 15. The Tigers were in that elite group with a No. 5 state ranking.
We tasted defeat for the first time this season. We fell to No. 2 Belle Plaine and No. 9 Kasson-Mantorville. Pool play saw us come out on the winning end vs. Cannon Falls and St. Croix Lutheran. We lost to Belle Plaine in pool. Then came the Saturday Silver Bracket chapter. Here we lost to Kasson-Mantorville and defeated Hill-Murray.
The event was a test for Karly Fehr in her setting specialty, and she produced 121 total set assists. Brooke Gillespie produced 39 kills and Jenna Howden had 37. Ashley Solvie led in ace blocks with six. Riley Decker's dig total of 75 was tops.
 
Tigers 3, BOLD 0
Fans gathered at the MAHS gym on Thursday, Sept. 22, to see if our volleyball Tigers could roll forward triumphantly. They did!
The visiting BOLD Warriors put up a strong challenge in game 2. But it was the orange and black owning the night. We survived that challenge to win 26-24. And in games 1 and 3, the scores were 25-16 and 25-9 with the Tigers dominant. We played up to the expectations for a No. 5-ranked team.
Karly Fehr darted around the court to produce 28 set assists. Jenna Larsen added two assists. Ashley Solvie batted two serving aces at the Warriors. Brooke Gillespie, Karly Fehr and Riley Decker each had one serving ace.
The hitting department saw Gillespie standing out with 14 kills, and Jenna Howden was another cog with eleven kills. The kill list continues as follows: Ashley Solvie (8), Nicole Solvie (5), and these three Tigers each with one: Karly Fehr, Larsen and Kirsten Scheldorf.
Ashley Solvie had two ace blocks followed by Gillespie, Larsen and Nicole Solvie each with one. Here's the dig list: Decker (15), Karly Fehr (13), Koral Tolifson (10), Gillespie (6) and Howden (6).
For BOLD, Makayla Snow had eight kills and one serving ace. Makenna Steffel had ten set assists. Four different Warriors each had an ace block: Steffel, Taylor Sagedahl, Brenna Weis and Elsa Skeie. Skeie had the team-best 13 digs.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, September 26, 2016

The heyday of TV/movie westerns died quickly

The "western" has a huge niche in the history of movies and television. The young people of today would only know about this as a matter of history. Old westerns get replayed on obscure TV channels. We see Barbara Stanwyck in "The Big Valley." Lee Majors was on that show too. The shows can be reasonably entertaining, yet they are frozen in time, as no way would today's entertainment business churn out such material.
I have often described it as "ponderous" material. The pace of plot development is way too slow. The American public's attention span was different in the 1960s.
It is amazing how quickly the traditional western vanished. Part of the reason was the conscious decision by TV network movers and shakers to "de-ruralize." The rural-centered shows could get a good overall audience. But "demographics" were getting more and more attention. Norman Lear came along as the leader in making entertainment urban-oriented. TV was going after younger, more "hip" eyeballs. I suppose I'm dating myself using the word "hip." Within a few years we began feeling nostalgia about the western shows.
Boomers grew up watching "Bonanza" with Lorne Greene as the patriarchal role model. Like many of those actors, Greene had a background in movies first, and ironically he did not play characters with the highest character. He was the bad guy lawyer in "Peyton Place." He prodded everyone to just think of the victimized woman as promiscuous. He played the cowardly city father of New Orleans who argued for capitulation to the British in that movie about the Battle of New Orleans (with Charlton Heston as Andrew Jackson). But Greene emerged as a paragon of unquestioned virtue in "Bonanza" with his son characters.
 
Teaching us right from wrong
Richard Widmark
A defining feature of TV westerns was their moralizing. The good guys stood for all that was good in the framework of the Judeo-Christian ethic. You could tell early in each episode, the characters who were of questionable character, the "bad guys."
We're charmed by those old shows today, but no way would today's entertainment industry even consider putting out stuff according to that template. Any western made today would be more nuanced, with no clear coded messages about good guys and bad guys or even good and evil. Sub-plots would complicate.
Maybe the '60s taught us that good and evil are not so easily defined. The United States had major sins to answer for in that decade. The tumult of that decade was due to a generational shift, the arrival of a generation (mine) that wouldn't put up with the B.S. anymore. We couldn't gloss over America's shortcomings by watching westerns with their simplistic plots.
The one-time popularity of westerns had an additional element, I would argue. They were a vehicle helping Americans move away from the sense of conflict coming from the Civil War. The great advancement West was dramatic and represented a shedding of the unpleasantness of the North/South conflict. "The West" was literally a new frontier. The stereotypes of Northerners and Southerners seemed far away. The West was a new chance for America to at least try to find consensus.
The Judeo-Christian ethic got woven in constantly. Civil War scars were still meaningful in the mid-20th Century. So much time has now passed. I doubt that "Stone Mountain" means much to people anymore. A new "spin" has been put on Stone Mountain (in Georgia): Today it's presented as a symbol of unification, as if the South was eventually willing to be absorbed in with its Northern cousins. It even has corporate sponsors like Pepsi. The Ku Klux Klan once had a big gathering of renewed commitment of their cause there. Time passes and the meme changes dramatically.
You see, history and nostalgia are really about the causes of today. Everything is framed in the context of today's issues and values, even if people choose an antiquated symbol like the Confederate flag.
"Quaint" describes the old western TV shows and movies. The TV shows came at us fast and furiously at one time.  Reviewing those old shows is an interesting trivia challenge. And the whole genre died off rather suddenly.
 
A grand movie from 1956
I got to thinking of the genre when watching the movie "The Last Wagon" recently. The old movie westerns did a service in making us aware of an under-appreciated region of the U.S. "The Last Wagon" is a fantastic exhibit for "Monument Valley." Try to imagine the movie if it were filmed in a more plain place. It would lose much of its appeal. Monument Valley is a truly breathtaking place worthy of being a national park. Many moviegoers have seen those scenes but are unaware that the place even has a name - it's just a standard panorama of "the old West."
Hollywood knew all about Monument Valley, especially director John Ford. Monument Valley is a region of the Colorado Plateau characterized by a cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 1000 feet above the valley floor. It's located on the Utah-Arizona border. Moviegoers came to see the mere five square miles with its wild, foreboding nature, as being representative of the whole U.S. West. The valley lies within the range of the Navajo National Reservation.
"The Last Wagon" starring Richard Widmark was made during the heyday of Hollywood westerns, in 1956. I was one year old. The movie affords a wonderful Cinemascope widening of classic and colorful Monument Valley vistas. I started to feel bothered about how the characters seemed oblivious to the breathtaking scenery.
The movie shows how a rugged mountain man, Widmark, gets captured and treated brutally after vengefully murdering those who slaughtered his family. Widmark's "Comanche Todd" is a white man who has lived most of his life among the Indians. Todd is able to dispatch his chief tormentor, then he joins a wagon team whose members learn to trust him (in a halting manner). Apache Indians are poised to avenge some tragedy in their ranks.
A small U.S. cavalry attachment comes on the scene, and here we see a very familiar face: James Drury. James Drury! He's ten years younger here than how we remember him from TV's "The Virginian." Guys my age remember how Drury was the top-billed actor on "The Virginian," but he became second banana to Doug McClure as "Trampas." There's a Stevens County family who named one of their sons after "Trampas."
The primary theme of "The Last Wagon" is different from the usual Judeo-Christian one that we associate with such stories. It's a rather cutting-edge theme, actually: Justice is more important than the law. The characters gain lessons not only in survival but in character.
 
Widmark, with Minnesota roots
Hey, Widmark is a Minnesota native! He was born in Sunrise Township MN, located in east-central Chisago County. Its northeast border follows the St. Croix River which is also the state line between Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The climax in "The Last Wagon" comes when "Comanche Todd" saves the cavalry attachment from an ambush. The explosions are good by the standards of 1950s Hollywood! Despite being wanted for murder, Todd is spared at the end and is placed in the custody of a female traveler. Widmark plays a character who seems designed for him: complicated and bitter but with a prevailing sense of honor and goodness.
"The Last Wagon" is the perfect showcase for Monument Valley, a place that ought to be a household word like Yellowstone Park, but isn't. Maybe that can be remedied someday.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Forget garbled voices: Tigers beat Benson 41-21

I tried checking in with the radio broadcast of the Friday night football game at Benson. I couldn't believe it. It was just unintelligible noise. It was like listening to a crowded men's bathroom. I wonder if all the broadcast sponsors know about what happened. I couldn't even learn the score. The radio station should have just aborted the whole thing and played music - the usual golden oldie rock and pop songs.
Added to this is the fact that the Morris Sun Tribune newspaper makes fans wait eight days until they can see a local print review of the game. By then, the Tigers will have played their next game.
Of course, people could take matters into their own hands: a group of students could launch an official website for Morris Area Chokio Alberta football. It would be just like UMM's home pages for sports. Too much work? No, I would suggest it would be fun. We needn't be beholden to the "corporate media" (media that make money with advertising) in the year 2016. Actually, this all could have been done ten years ago. It takes time for society to adjust to change.
It would be amazing to see what some Internet enthusiasts could do, bringing more recognition for MACA sports teams. Agree?
 
Tigers 41, Benson 21
There would have been lots of highlights to trumpet, had the radio broadcast come through clearly. Our MACA Tigers took charge in the second half en route to disposing of the Braves of Benson. We scored 14 points each in the second and third quarters. This was our third win of the season against no losses.
Toby Sayles scored our first touchdown: a big 63-yard run in the first quarter. Eli Grove kicked the point-after. Benson took the lead by scoring a TD and succeeding with a two-point conversion. The TD came on a four-yard pass from Layton Connelly to Ty Hedman. Connelly ran for the two-point conversion.
Ryan Dietz put MACA on top again with a one-yard run followed by a two-point Sayles run. Sayles scored the next MACA touchdown on a two-yard run, and this time the conversion play was no-go. Brett Sulier re-invigorated the Braves' cause with a six-yard scoring run, and Connelly kicked the PAT. Dietz answered for the Tigers, reaching the end zone on a run from the two. Jacob Zosel carried the football into the end zone on the conversion.
Zosel broke loose for a 31-yard scoring scamper. This time the PAT kick try was blocked. Sayles kept pushing the MACA cause forward with an eleven-yard touchdown run. The PAT kick try was blocked again. Benson had the game's last score: a 35-yard touchdown pass from Connelly to Max Peterson.
MACA overwhelmed Benson with 451 rushing yards on 53 carries. Again the passing attack was negligible: we had a mere one completion in two tries for 27 yards. No interceptions. Benson showed a well-established passing attack with eleven completions in 22 attempts for 140 yards (and one interception).
Our Jacob Zosel put up fine rushing numbers again: 207 yards on 18 carries. Sayles was quite the force with 154 yards on eleven carries, and Dietz covered 77 yards on the ground in 15 carries. Jared Rohloff had the only pass catch which covered 27 yards. Joseph Kleinwolterink delivered the Tigers' one punt. Chase Metzger intercepted a pass. Dakota Luetke and Paul Hockert each sacked the quarterback.
Benson had a tandem of effective ballcarriers: Connelly (46 yards on 13 carries) and Aaron Zosel (45 yards on ten carries). Max Peterson stood out for Benson in receiving: six catches for 104 yards. Connelly handled the punting. Aaron Zosel and Shawn Aarhus each recovered a fumble.
An injury to Benson's Brett Sulier may have affected the course of the game. The Willmar paper speculated in this way, but I don't know. I always feared getting into trouble if I wrote that a player's injury or illness affected the outcome of an athletic contest.
 
Trying to listen to the Friday night radio broadcast reminded me of when Jimmy Kimmel presents his "drunk Rudy Giuliani" gag.
 
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, September 12, 2016

Jacob Zosel scores four straight TDs in 33-13 win

Once again it was Big Cat Field providing the splendid backdrop for prep football Friday. This time it was the Falcons of Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City as the visitor. I was a high school classmate of Jeff Tanner who has been a long-time stalwart in ACGC athletics.
The MACA formula for success was most basic on Friday. It was "run the football." More specifically: get the ball in Jacob Zosel's hands. Zosel is starting to give the impression he can carry the Tigers on his shoulders. He scored the Tigers' first touchdown on a 47-yard run. The TD got the orange and black going en route to another pleasing victory. The score this time: 33-13.
Zosel carried the football 39 times for 257 yards. Ryan Dietz had 15 carries of the football for 48 yards. Three other Tigers racked up rushing yards in this crowd-pleasing MACA win: Connor Koebernick (13 yards on five carries), Toby Sayles (20 yards on two carries) and Chase Metzger (nine yards on two carries).
The passing game has sure not taken its place in the MACA offense. Will that be developed? We'll see. Both in the opener vs. West Central Area and in Game 2 vs. ACGC, passing didn't amount to much. Against ACGC we had zippo yards in passing. At least there were no interceptions, unlike in the opener. So, we don't have to review receiving stats!
Dietz was alert to pounce on a fumble. He had five solo tackles and two assists. Zosel put up the same 5/2 defensive numbers. Sayles had three solos and two assists. Hunter Gades came through with two solos/four assists. Koebernick delivered at 2/3. Zosel attacked attacked the quarterback to get two sacks. Tim Travis and Paul Hockert each had one sack. The Tigers lost one fumble.
Two ACGC Falcons each rushed for 47 yards: Jeremy Nelson and Michael Trebil. Jaren Kaddatz rushed for 20 yards. Kaddatz was one of two Falcons throwing passes. He gained 35 yards with his passes, while teammate Miahcel Trebil completed seven of 14 pass attempts for 69 yards with no interceptions. Ryan Molinaro had three catches for 33 yards. Ryan Amdahl made two catches for 41 yards.
The Tigers may have dominated this game but it was ACGC scoring first: Jeremy Nelson ran the ball in from 16. Then came Zosel's 47-yard scamper for six. The conversion play saw Dylan Gillespie pass successfully to Jared Rohloff. The Zosel show then took over. The marquee Tiger scored touchdowns from the seven, one and four. The PAT kick tries were no-go on these scores. Then it was Sayles getting the ball into the end zone on a run from the 18. Eli Grove kicked the point-after.
ACGC got its consolation score on a pass from Michael Trebil to Ryan Amdahl, and the kick was good.
Four straight TDs by Zosel! Opponents are going to have to try to devise ways to at least slow down the marquee Tiger.
Our next opponent is Benson. This will be our first road test, 7 p.m. Friday. We're 2-0!

Volleyball keeps dominant flair
The Morris Area Chokio Alberta volleyball team zipped through another winning week, not only winning but showing dominance on the court. The dominance was shown sweep-style just like in Week 1. Might the state tournament be in the cards for coach Kristi Fehr's team again? That's a long way off, but MACA stock is definitely high.
Last week the 3-0 successes were versus the Braves of Benson and the Falcons of ACGC. The most recent match was the ACGC one, Thursday (9/8) at home, so we'll start our summary there.
 
Tigers 3, ACGC 0
It is necessary to use first names with the "Fehr" last name. In addition to coach Kristi, who I worked with (as a media person) when she coached the Hancock Owls, we have Karly and Cassidy as players. Karly raced all over the court with precision Thursday, putting up 37 set assists in the sweep over Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City. Jenna Larsen contributed two assists.
Game scores were 25-16, 25-17 and 25-11.
Ashley Solvie pounded two serving aces at the Falcons. Riley Decker and Koral Tolifson each added a serving ace to the mix. The crowd-pleasing department of hitting saw Jenna Howden at the fore with 13 kills. Also producing double digits was Ashley Solvie with ten kills.
Brooke Gillespie went up to execute eight kills, while Nicole Solvie had six and Jenna Larsen one. Ace blocks were produced by Ashley Solvie (3), Brooke Gillespie (2), Karly Fehr (1), Jenna Howden (1) and Nicole Solvie (1). Gillespie and Decker led in digs with ten each. Karly Fehr had six digs and Cassidy Fehr had five.
The week concluded with our orange and black crew having strung together four straight sweep wins. Look for a very enthused fan turnout for every MACA home match!
 
Tigers 3, Benson 0
Brooke Gillespie was "in the zone" in the Tuesday (9/6) road volleyball affair vs. the Braves of Benson. Gillespie and Jenna Howden each pounded down six kills, helping fuel this night of dominance for the orange and black. Gillespie also had impact in serving and digs in this WCC affair. Ashley Solvie pounded down five kills. Then the list has Karly Fehr and Nicole Solvie each with four, followed by Jenna Larsen (3) and Bailey Marty (1). 
The ace block category had Ashley Solvie standing out with three. Howden and Nicole Solvie each added one ace block to the mix. Gillespie, Decker and Cassidy Fehr led in digs with ten, eight and six, respectively.
MACA displayed sizzling serves, getting numerous aces vs. the beleaguered Braves. This list is topped by Gillespie with four, while Tolifson recorded three aces and the Fehr girls - Karly and Cassidy - each had two. And Ashley Solvie had two aces as well! Riley Decker produced a serving ace. Karly Fehr greased the wheels with 21 set assists.
For Benson, Sophie Ascheman had a serving ace. Courtney McNeill led Benson in assists with ten while Kaitlyn Knutson came through with six. Amanda Nissen paced the Braves in kills with five. Megan Amundson and Presley Gonnerman each had three kills. Victoria Pagel had three ace blocks. Amundson and Nissen each had nine digs.
If you're thinking I forgot to report the scores, here they are: 25-12, 25-9 and 25-9.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Our National Anthem warrants a fresh analysis

"Of thee I sing. . ."
One of the most-viewed photos in my Flickr account is of the MACA boys basketball team standing at rapt attention for the National Anthem. What makes the photo interesting is the bagpipe player seen behind the players, rendering the anthem. Bagpipes are quite the novelty. In the old days, military units used this instrument to intimidate the enemy, such was the grating quality of this instrument. We see (and hear) this in that movie about the Battle of New Orleans, with Charlton Heston as Andrew Jackson. (Every time I type Heston's name, I have to see if it has one 's' or two.)
We re-acquaint ourselves with Jackson every time we use a $20 bill. I'm not sure Native Americans should be too enthused about this. And did you know that Jackson used inhumane tactics in winning the Battle of New Orleans? And that the battle wasn't even necessary because hostilities had officially ceased - word simply didn't arrive in time. At any rate, much blood was spilled in keeping the American flag as our vibrant symbol from sea to shining sea. Canada decided England wasn't so bad after all.
Our Southern states tried making a break in the mid-19th Century. Southern people get twisted up like a pretzel in trying to reconcile their rebellion with their patriotism today. Southern people are the most ardent in supporting the most conservative-leaning politicians, the politicians who are so fervent about national defense and supporting Old Glory. If you say the flag is just a piece of cloth, you'll be pilloried.
Colin Kaepernick
We have this flag along with the National Anthem which are supposed to represent who we are. But sheer patriotism can have its shortcomings. We see this primarily when our nation's leaders say a war is necessary. The first Iraq war was a patriotism orgy. It was a police action. Iraq never had the resources to challenge us. The second Iraq war had a drumbeat of "patriotism" leading up to it. We put our normal critical thinking aside. Somehow we had to achieve vengeance in the wake of 9/11. Turns out Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with it. Turns out he had no weapons of mass destruction. He was a more or less typical Middle East strongman. He would have been the first to suppress Isis, using the kind of brutal tactics that Isis itself displays. Hussein was a secular leader.
Our jingoistic urges are accompanied by so much flag-waving. We saw one of the most boisterous patriotic displays prior to the Super Bowl that immediately followed the first Gulf War. After so many years reminiscing about World War II, maybe we had an urge to bring that type of accomplishment into the present. The memories of World War II may be a springboard for justifying more military forays, as a way of celebrating the goodness of our nation.
In Viet Nam this urge turned into an indescribable nightmare. I'm not sure why Korea called for such a toll of lives lost. George W. Bush's second Iraq war is now viewed as a mistake. We get into these episodes with such effusive patriotism and flag-waving.
The National Anthem started getting played at sports events as a way of commemorating the end of World War I. War is nothing but bad. Why do these memories have to survive with such fervor, feeding into a new jingoistic urge every few years?
 
Reach for the high notes
The National Anthem by itself is currently getting some much-deserved scrutiny. Thanks to NFLer Colin Kaepernick, we're beginning to ask some questions.
The song as a work of art is, well, cumbersome. This is a fact and not opinion. It is a fact because the song has a vocal range going way beyond what is considered easy to handle for a vocalist. That is its biggest weakness. Secondly, the song glorifies war. War should always be considered a last resort. Today we use foreign aid and sanctions as a way of keeping various interests in line around the world.
The Viet Nam war mystifies me most of all. That miserable conflict left scars on my generation, for those who fought and those who protested. It left scars in more subtle ways, as a whole generation of youth (from when I was "youth") had deconstructionist ideas pounded into them. My generation was encouraged by a plurality of our educators to reject tradition and convention in all ways. This was because the American public was too unquestioning about the war for too long. "Let's throw out everything we think we know." Everything. Let's question the preponderance of 90-degree angles in architecture. That's how we got the UMM science auditorium. Our public library's exterior rejects 90-degree angles, probably just as an artistic statement. The library should have just been designed to make sure water drainage from the roof could be handled. But such was our world of the 1970s, an avant garde place with notions that were really quite ridiculous. We recognize the ridiculousness today. We don't want to remember the folly. We don't want to talk about it. I periodically like to remind people.
More of us are questioning whether the National Anthem needs to be played before every sports event. If the purpose is to celebrate America, it seems OK and benign, but if the purpose is to feed into our jingoistic urges periodically, it's morally questionable. Kaepernick is making his statement because he feels racial minorities are abused in this country. We need to pause and reflect on our values.
Why don't some high schools just cease playing the National Anthem for sports? What does the National Anthem have to do with sports? What connection does it have to the profit-driven world of pro sports? Unless we are worshipping profit along with the flag, and maybe that is in fact happening.
 
Our history is messy, complicated
As a boomer generation member, I have a sense of pause about our cosmetic expressions of patriotism as with the Anthem. Our whole society was dragged into the Viet Nam war. There were consequences for everyone. As a writer I was encouraged to show suspicions about our national leaders, to assume the worst motives more often than not. Watergate fed into that in the richest way. But remember, the Viet Nam war cast a wide shadow at the same time the Nixon administration was unraveling. Extrapolated to the local level, my deconstructionist attitudes meant we shouldn't even trust community leaders of various stripes, e.g. school superintendents.
We were done no favors having such skeptical attitudes instilled in us. There seemed some justification at the time.
Maybe we should actually blame the so-called "Greatest Generation," a term coined for the book that had Tom Brokaw's name on it even though it appears the actual work was done by other people. Today we feel this limitless affection for the Greatest Generation. But they appeared to be the ones who sat back and just let awful things happen through the 1960s and '70s. Remember the mom character in "Almost Famous" who scolded her child about having a Paul Simon album because the singer's eyes had a look that maybe suggested drug use? That's our moms and dads, so many of whom voted for Nixon.
Here's a suggestion: Let's have "America the Beautiful" played before our sports events. It's a serene and inspiring song that doesn't have "bombs bursting in air."
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, September 2, 2016

Volleyball Tigers start with two sweep wins!

Tigers 3, Melrose 0
The Tigers of volleyball are going to be quite the phenomenal attraction this fall, based on how they've come out of the starting gate. On Thursday the story was a sweep over the Melrose Dutchmen. So the Tigers have two sweep wins tucked away from Week 1.
The squad is picking up from where it left off from last season's historic state campaign. Bump, set, spike! Coach Kristi Fehr will be wearing a smile a good share of the time.
The West Central Tribune reported: "The Tigers swept the Dutch with a pair of close sets sandwiching an abysmal 25-10 second set."
Abysmal? Does the writer not know the definition? I suppose it was abysmal for Melrose, but in that case it's an overstatement. If I had been caught writing a screwy sentence like this, I'd have people talking about my mental shortcomings, possibly with the use of profanities/obscenities.
The Tigers won with these scores, with the "abysmal" one being in the middle: 25-22, 25-10 and 25-22.
"Abysmal." Sheesh.
Karly Fehr is sure picking up from where she left off last season. The sharply-executing setter fueled the win with 34 set assists. Karly was one of four Tigers achieving a serving ace. She was joined by Ashley Solvie, Riley Decker and Koral Tolifson. Brooke Gillespie was at the fore in hitting. Her 15 kills was the team-best figure. Ashley Solvie pounded down ten kills and Jenna Howden had nine. The list continues with Nicole Solvie (4), Fehr (3) and Jenna Larsen (2).
Ashley Solvie went up to perform five ace blocks. These Tigers each had one ace block: Gillespie, Howden and Nicole Solvie. Gillespie and Decker each dug up the ball 23 times. Cassidy Fehr had nine digs, and Karly Fehr and Koral Tolifson each had seven.
The Tigers arrive at Labor Day weekend with a spotless 2-0 mark.
Another note re. Friday's Willmar newspaper: The lead sports headline in real big letters is this: "Wolverines cruises in season opener." It should be "cruise" of course. This is embarrassing.
 
Tigers 3, New London-Spicer 0
What could be better than a season opener win over New London-Spicer? The Wildcats have generally been an obstacle for MACA teams in the post-season. As things stand now, at least in volleyball, any hex appears to be gone.
Coach Kristi Fehr's Tigers not only vanquished NL-Spicer on Tuesday, the success came by sweep. Scores were 25-20, 26-24 and 25-13.
Brooke Gillespie came at the Wildcats with three serving aces. Koral Tolifson had two and Ashley Solvie had one. Karly Fehr raced around the court to put up 38 set assists. On to the crowd-pleasing category of hitting: Here it was Jenna Howden as the real crowd-pleasing Tiger with 17 kills. Gillespie executed sharply to pound down 13 kills. Ashley Solvie had ten kills and Nicole Solvie two.
Howden had two ace blocks and Jenna Larsen one. Two Tigers had double digits in digs: Gillespie (15) and Riley Decker (12). Karly Fehr came through with six digs and Larsen five.
I have enjoyed writing about New London-Spicer girls basketball in recent post-seasons, so I'm familiar with lots of the names. Brooke Beuning and Kabrie Weber each had two serving aces, and Beuning put up 30 set assists. Brennah Bergh was at the fore in hitting with eleven kills. Erin Tebben was the top Wildcat blocker with six blocks. Beuning came through with 13 digs.
 
Cross country: big home meet
Morris has the privilege of hosting a cross country event that really signals the start of the new school year. It's the MCA Invite. A sea of runners made for the usual fine spectacle, all their colors so resplendent.
It looks like the MACA teams will have to rely on balance this year. Our top girls runner was Savannah Aanerud who arrived at the finish chute No. 17, time of 22:51. Malory Anderson was #25 with her time of 23:10. The three other MACA runners were Midori Soderberg (34th, 24:40), Correy Hickman (50th, 26:40) and Kaylie Raths (63rd, 28:44).
For the boys it was Solomon Johnson leading the way for MACA, time of 18:38, good for eleventh place. Noah Stewart placed 19th with his time of 19:30. Tate Nelson was No. 30 to the finish chute, timed at 20:15. Then it was Tyler Reimers getting to the finish 35th, time of 20:28, and Dylan DeToy was 72nd (23:14).
Let's look at the teams. Lac qui Parle/DB was the champion girls team. Sadie Thompson led the LQPV/DB Eagles with her runner-up showing, time of 21:00. The champion girls runner was Jayda Woods of Rocori, time of 20:15. The top boys team was West Central Area, spurred by Ryley Nelson who took No. 1 with his time of 17:01. Jacob Bright of WCA was runner-up with his time of 17:19. The runner-up boys team was LQPV/DB, led by Keiser Freetly, the No. 3 runner with a time of 17:23.
We're just starting down the path of Morris Area Chokio Alberta athletics for 2016-17!
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com