History-making music group for UMM - morris mn

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

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

On helping UMM, "The Little Engine That Could"

My dad, middle of three seated, at retirement picnic in his honor, 1978.
The circle of people with first-hand memories of UMM's first graduation is shrinking. The year was 1964. I can affirm it was held outside. UMM has run into snags with the weather for its graduations. I remember the weather being pleasant for the historic first time around. It was a very big deal for the U of M president, O. Meredith Wilson, to be here.
A young Ralph Williams shows his directing forte.
I would liken UMM to "The Little Engine That Could" in 1964. It said "I knew I could." This was after some halting steps at the very start, when community leaders were nervous about whether the new institution could find its legs. I don't know how uncertain UMM's future was. It seemed to me the already-existing campus should be used for something. It had a long history as an ag school. We had neighbors, the Lindors, who were deeply rooted in the ag school's history. My father taught at the U of M's ag school in St. Paul before coming here. Ag schools became obsolete. I had nothing but warm feelings about the St. Paul school.
My mom, at right, with fellow UMMer Bonnie Tipcke.
UMM seemed harder to like. I have grappled with conflicted feelings about UMM all my life. It seemed elitist. Students seemed to go through academic rigors that would make me shudder. I guess I was puzzled at the notion that the so-called liberal arts absolutely had to rule. If you even broached the possibility that higher education exists to prepare you for a role in the workplace, you had to fear being pilloried. I sensed that UMM clearly was not going to be for me. And yet we as a family had to acknowledge that we owed everything we had to the hallowed U of M.
At the advanced age of 62, I am now trying to connect a little with the U in a way which, if all else fails, is meaningful and real. That way is with money. We have made a substantial monetary gift to UMM music. So now maybe I can be viewed as an eccentric benefactor.
A vignette: Our family had a dog named "Heidi" who would sometimes grab a slipper and take off with it, leaving the other slipper without its partner. A comment would be made, whereupon the response was made: "Haven't you heard the story of the magic slipper?" And then the comment was added: "Ain't you got culture?" Well, I may not possess a lot of culture but I can help UMM with a little green. I can be accepted on certain terms.
 
Up by the bootstraps, I guess
As a child I wasn't going to be that dependent on formal education. I was dependent on my mother. She saw to it that my literacy got pushed forward. She had me read aloud from books that were a little higher than my normal reading level would be. She pushed me and pushed me. Then as a junior in high school, I took a typing course under a fine teacher named Mr. Roberts at Morris High School. The building blocks were in place for me to write seriously.
I consumed lots of news media as a kid. Therefore I got filled with notions about how it was important to hold our society's leaders' feet to the fire. We're talking the late 1960s and early 1970s, that cauldron of unsettled feeling throughout our U.S. society. It's possible I was too impressionable. There is an important current movie that reminds us of how the air of skepticism got fueled back then. It's an important movie for young people to see. They might not believe it: the U.S. government had been lying about Vietnam for a large number of years. The movie is about the Pentagon Papers. Any government that could facilitate and feed something like the Vietnam War is never to be trusted.
I could have sworn the Vietnam War was going to go on forever. I remember when I learned the word "strive." It was from a World Events poster. There was an item bout how the South Vietnamese leader was "striving" to accomplish something. We were taught to take the Vietnam War seriously as something that merited our attention and efforts. The seeds got planted for a lifetime of cynicism for me.
Mom, at left, with co-worker and friend Betty Payne.
The first UMM commencement happened in the same year, 1964, that my father took the UMM men's chorus to the New York World's Fair. I have read about that fair, that it's considered a "touchstone" event among people my age who were in the New York City area. And that's because it was this big, joyful, innocent event that happened just before all of the violently contentious stuff that we associate with the 1960s and early '70s.
I graduated from high school at the height of the Watergate revelations. Media people were viewed as the heroes in that. Media people of today are not viewed so generously. But maybe if we eventually find out that Donald Trump was in fact some sort of a Manchurian candidate, representing interests outside the U.S., and if media people end up with their essential role revealing that, a cloak of glory will be returned to our free press. It will not in fact be "fake news."
 
And BTW, happy holidays
I am writing this post on the day after Christmas, 2017. I'm sure you're interested in my mother's health/condition. She is actually quite stable in spite of certain issues that limit her. We attended the Christmas meal at our church, First Lutheran, on Christmas Day. People her age - she's 93 - are like snowflakes with their mental condition. No two are exactly alike. She has a basic awareness and she can form thoughts and sentences. But she can be erratic too. She doesn't like to leave the house after dark. I'm sure many younger people have that impulse too!
We just got past the winter solstice. We don't celebrate holidays the way we used to. It's very understated now. Our relatives are basically all gone. I find I'm relieved when any holiday is over. I find holidays a little unsettling. We cannot celebrate them like we once did. Memories come back from when we had more relatives and friends with whom to actively socialize. And when we had our dogs: Misty, Heidi and Sandy.
I appreciated that Jacqueline Johnson, when she was UMM chancellor, had a very real interest in UMM's history. She was vividly aware of my mother's background with UMM as well as my father's. I'm not sure the administration continues to be as interested.
Through all my life, I have felt sort of a curse with UMM-associated people looking down on me. I am sorry if I could not live up to all your expectations. Our monetary contribution to UMM music is a major attempt by me to "make good" with the institution, an institution I was never smart enough to attend myself.
 
Time to confide a little
I am going to share here an important little tidbit from my past. Was I really a good musician? So many people expected me to be. And yes, I picked up a couple music credentials which on the surface seemed impressive. Let me say this emphatically: if I were to audition in a carefully controlled situation where I felt no undue pressure, I could seem brilliant. But it was largely an illusion. You see, I could in certain situations "pretend" to be an outstanding musician. Once I got really pressed on what I could do, I'd break down quickly.
So I really wish I had never gained those credentials in the first place. I realize that certain people were probably trying to do me a favor. I should be grateful. I appreciated their thoughts on this but I would have been better off just being left alone, sorry.
I should have switched from band to choir for my senior year in high school, then I'd go to choir director Ms. Hjembo and say "don't treat me like anyone special please. Forget my father's standing in music - forget it. Treat me like any other kid." And I would have been greatly relieved not having a band instrument that I'd be required to take home every night. God I hated that. I should have told ol' director Woell that "I'm not taking my instrument home and if you want to give me a failing grade, fine." One of my peers finally spoke up against Mr. Woell in practice one day. Woell was an old-fashioned disciplinarian. Being in band was like being a slave.
Today I ply my musical interests as a songwriter and it is 100 percent more interesting and rewarding. Public schools do not teach the guitar and piano. The reason is that those instruments can be tools for individual expression and rebellion, and the purpose of our public schools is to promote conformity. Band is a perfect example.
I'm 62 years old and now with lots of time to wonder how my life could have gone better. I know, I know, forget about the unpleasant stuff and just move forward. I appreciate the wisdom of that and I'll try. Sorry if this blog post comes off like the Robert Stack character at the end of "Airplane."
"I had a rough childhood, Striker."
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Star Trek's "Miri" sends message to us Earth people

"Miri" was a most intriguing episode of the original "Star Trek." Don't remember it? There are various TV channels that run the original Star Trek quite regularly. You can catch up on any particular episode. The high profile is an indication that the series can be placed in the pantheon of artistic classics.
The episode "Miri" (from 1966) wasn't so much entertaining as it was scary. We can all remember certain entertainment offerings from our youth that scared us. We might keep a light on in the bedroom at night! I have read that Laurel and Hardy's (of all people) "Babes in Toyland" had such an element.
There is symbolism in "Miri" that rather hits you over the head. The Starship Enterprise comes upon a planet that seems a replica of Earth. There is no suggestion about how this duplication happened. So, why include this plot element? I think the idea was to show how the story line was relevant to what happens on Earth. It has to do with how we raise our kids. We in the here and now, it is suggested, are not adequately sensitive to the needs of our kids when they reach adolescence. In effect these kids can become "monsters."
Let's weigh this as background as we examine "Miri." The Enterprise answers an old distress signal. Here's this planet that looks just like Earth. The surface has ruins of a society that is long gone, having vanished in the equivalent to Earth year 1960. The planet's natives once conducted experiments to prolong life. It's not nice to fool Mother Nature, eh? (Remember that PSA from the 1960s?)
The experiments result in the creation of a deadly virus. The virus kills adults by rapid aging and madness. But with children, the virus slowed the aging process greatly. So they'd spend centuries in prepubescence. One wonders how the children could adequately care for themselves. Suspend disbelief, please.
The Enterprise sends a landing party. They are examining some rubble when an odd disfigured man assaults them. This man has reached the point where adulthood is going to kill him. I did not find this scene to be particularly scary. But this type of thing happens again later in the episode with an afflicted female. That scene scared me greatly. It happens indoors. Her face looks devilish. There are children present who scatter immediately, knowing full well what's going on. The disfigured screaming woman jumps on Captain Kirk's back. Kirk applies his phaser which is on a non-kill setting, but she dies anyway. The seizure is fatal in all instances.
An older boy named "Jahn" steals the landing party's communicators. The children are mistrustful of any adult as they remember the ugly way the planet's older citizens died. The children apply the word "grups" for grown-ups. I thought it was spooky.
Dr. McCoy feels pressure to find a vaccine to cure the deadly virus. But he needs access to the Enterprise's computers. An older girl named "Miri" becomes central to what happens. She is nearing adulthood and finds she has a crush on Captain Kirk. She notices that Kirk has closeness with "Yeoman Rand" of the landing party. She becomes emotionally conflicted. McCoy and Spock make progress toward a vaccine but they cannot be certain, as they have lost access to the ship's computer. Is it a cure or a poison?
The kids who are 300 years old (!) are warned that food in the town is running out. (Of course, we must wonder how the food had been preserved that long!)
McCoy collapses after injecting the experimental serum. His sores which were a symptom of the virus, subside. We see a happy ending where word is sent for the Federation to send teachers and advisers for the kids. I love the line from Dr. McCoy, offered in levity, that some "truant officers" be available too. As with much notable fiction, there are plausibility issues in this story. Good fiction keeps these issues from being an impediment. "Miri" is a gripping episode, the eighth of the series to be filmed.
 
Meet actress Grace Lee Whitney
"Yeoman Rand" was part of the standard Star Trek cast early-on. Then she disappeared. All fans of the series noticed that. It was a little upsetting. Where did she go? The character was played by Grace Lee Whitney, a singer as well as actress. "Yeoman Rand" was the personal assistant to Captain Kirk (William Shatner). Whitney recalled going on amphetamines to try to stay thin, in order to fit into her assigned costume. She appeared in eight of the first 13 Star Trek episodes. She was then released from contract.
Some sexism can be alleged. The people overseeing the show wanted Captain Kirk to have a variety of romantic interests. They didn't want him fixated on "Yeoman Rand" indefinitely. Whitney was told this directly. She was one of two blonde women in the cast, and the third female was African-Amercan Nichelle Nichols. Whitney recalled: "Nichelle was a more important character and couldn't be written out. Everything's political in America. One of the blondes had to go. The other one was engaged to the boss, so guess who went?"
Whitney did not take it well. She consumed alcohol to cope, she recalled. There is a happy ending: She would later return to the Star Trek franchise. Fans had been asking about her at conventions. She reprised the role of "Janice Rand."
 
Meet actor Michael John Pollard
The actor who played "Jahn" in "Miri" is notable. It's a face you cannot forget. Even though he was a prolific actor, I only remember him from two roles: in "Miri" and in the Warren Beatty/Faye Dunaway version of "Bonnie and Clyde." This actor's name: Michael John Pollard. He played "C.W. Moss" in 1967's "Bonnie and Clyde." He received Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations. The role led to his joke candidacy in 1968 for U.S. president.
His very short stature had him playing child roles well into his 20s, an example being the "Miri" episode. This quality also had him in the recurring role as the diminutive trans-dimensional imp "Mister Mxyzptik" in the "Superboy" TV series. Another exhibit was in "Lost in Space" as the nameless Peter Pan-like boy who lives in the dimension behind all mirrors.
 
Assimilate the message
Watch enough cable TV and you'll see "Miri" again, I assure you. The episode makes us think about our own condition as human beings today - this is a hallmark of all great science fiction. It makes us think how we handle or fail to handle our adolescent youth. These kids come upon issues like sex that can confuse them and plant seeds of anxiety. They can become "monsters" as they grapple and as they try to fend off distractions. Maybe I'm revealing a little something about my own background. Perhaps. Young people today are given pills (behavior meds) when in many cases they could do better with intensive counseling, IMHO. Their parents can seem oddly oblivious.
"Miri" is a wakeup call to parents. Find out about the issues in your child's life. Don't you remember these issues from when you were young?
Kudos: The "Miri" script was written by Adrian Spies. The director was Vincent McEveely.
 
Just leave out the baked beans
Would you believe that the precursor TV show to Star Trek was "Wagon Train?" I found Wagon Train to be boring, basically a bunch of guys wearing cowboy hats talking to each other.

- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, December 15, 2017

MACA girls get fourth win 66-44 at Montevideo

Tigers 66, Montevideo 44
MACA got back on the winning track with a 66-44 win over Montevideo on the road. This West Central Conference game was played on Tuesday, Dec. 12. Our record improved to 4-2. Monte came out of the game winless. Our halftime advantage was 26-13.
Maddie Carrington stayed "in the zone" with her three-point shooting eye. She made four long-rangers. Riley Decker and Malory Anderson each made one shot from beyond the three-point arc. Anderson and Carrington were a 1-2 punch in scoring with 23 and 21 points respectively. Decker was our other double figures scorer with eleven.
Here's the rest of the scoring list: Alexis Pew (4), Liz Dietz (3), Jenna Howden (2), Kylie Swanson (1) and Carly Wohlers (1). Anderson snared nine rebounds from her post spot. Howden gathered eight rebounds. Dietz dished out four assists and Carrington had three. Carrington was all over the court to perform five steals.
Two players dominated the Monte scoring list: Emmy Enevoldsen with 20 points and Sydney Zindel with 14. Kamren Saue scored six points, and Kari Fragodt and Jasmyn Kronback each had two. Enevoldsen made two 3-pointers. The top Thunder Hawks in rebounds were Zindel (10), Saue (6) and Molly Reeves (5). Enevoldsen had three assists followed by Reeves, Madalyn Killbarda and Fragodt each with two. Enevoldsen stole the ball four times for the T-Hawks. Fragodt had two steals.
 
Boys: Ortonville 64, Tigers 55
The BBB Tigers led by three at halftime but ended up on the short end against Ortonville. The visiting Trojans got their fourth win against no losses as they outscored the Tigers 41-29 in the second half. The final score was 64-55 in this December 12 contest.
Ortonville had three players coming at the Tigers with a potent scoring touch. DeVante Edwards and Caden Wellnitz each put in 18 points. Tyson Powell had a total of 17. The Trojans had an iron man look as only five players scored. Peter Treinen scored eight points and Mitchell Meyers had three.
Jackson Loge had a quite impressive night offensively for MACA with his 17 points. Jaret Johnson was the other double figures scorer with 13. Camden Arndt and Tate Nelson each scored nine. Connor Koebernick had five points and Chandler Vogel had two. Loge led in rebounds with nine while Johnson had eight. Arndt had six assists and Nelson had five.
 
Minnewaska 52, Tigers 41
Our boys were on the short end against Minnewaska Area Thursday (12/14). The host Lakers surged to get their fourth win against no losses. They acquired a 26-13 halftime lead. The Tigers managed to outscore the Lakers in the second half, 28-26. So the final horn sounded with the score 52-41.
Two Lakers scored in double figures to lead a balanced 'Waska attack. The team-best total of 14 was put up by Garrett Jensen. Jaeger Jergenson scored 11. Jackson Johnsrud scored seven followed by Matthew Gruber and Shawn Carsten each with five. The list continues with Jack Blevins and Ryan Christianson each with three, and Grant Jensen and Ryan Amundson each with two.
Minnewaska had quite the array of three-point shooters - six in all with at least one make. Garrett Jensen made two long-rangers. These Lakers each made one: Carsten, Gruber, Christianson, Blevins and Johnsrud. Jergenson had six rebounds followed by the Jensen boys each with five. Christianson performed five assists and Johnsrud had four. Gruber had a steal.
Tate Nelson of the Tigers excelled in long-range shooting, making four 3-pointers. Camden Arndt and Jaret Johnson each made one "3." Nelson pumped up his point total to 17. Arndt and Johnson each put in nine points. These Tigers each put in two points: Kyle Staebler, Connor Koebernick and Jackson Loge. Loge had the team-best rebound total with seven. Johnson collected five rebounds. Nelson produced three assists. Nelson and Koebernick each had two steals.
This was West Central Conference basketball.
 
On writing sports
There's a feeling of satisfaction when I click on "publish" to put up a post like this. I'm pleased to still feel a part of Tiger sports doings. It's bittersweet too for this reason: each new post stays current for only a very short time. The team will play its next game within three days most likely. Sometimes a team will play on Saturday, as the MACA boys will this Saturday at Lac qui Parle.
Fans/parents can be so demanding. Is the Pope Catholic? I suppose they're just being human. A review post that I put up just a few days previous will quickly become "old." And then the pressure is on to perform as a writer all over again. Over and over and over. At the Morris newspaper, this situation was exacerbated greatly by the need to cover every area team that might expect to be covered.
The pressure exerted by the fans seemed to become greater as the years went on. How do you reconcile that pressure with the fact the Morris paper has undergone such dramatic shrinkage over the last decade? I of course haven't been with the paper in the last eleven years. I can only wonder how they have dealt with the pressures, and I don't have any sympathy for them anyway. The only real priority they respect is to sell advertising like with those endless "sucker ads." We'll see more of that for Christmas. Attention businesses: spend your money more wisely. You didn't fall off a turnip truck, did you?
So let me emphasize that I enjoyed putting up this blog post today. A week from now I hope it doesn't seem like three-day-old bread, but it probably will. It's fun to keep tabs on how the Carrington family is doing. I see Tom Carrington most mornings at Detoy's when it's still dark outside! A very peaceful time.
 
Final note: I think today's post is the first time in my life I've written the word "exacerbate."
  
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwillyh73@yahoo.com

Monday, December 11, 2017

Four Tigers score in double figures in boys' opener win

Tigers 83, ACGC 58
MACA rolled over the Falcons of ACGC in our season opener, played on December 8 here. The curtain opened for boys hoops play with a most impressive triumph, 83-58. This was ACGC's third game.
Camden Arndt showed the same kind of polish that marked his football campaign. He topped the MACA scoring list with 24 points. But the scoring punch was really pretty balanced. Jaret Johnson was smooth with his execution and scored 21 points. Connor Koebernick and Jackson Loge each put in 14. Kyle Staebler scored six, and Ben Hernandez and Tyler Reimers each had two.
The rebound leaders were Loge (8), Johnson (7) and Arndt (4). The assist leader was Arndt with seven followed by Koebernick with six and Nelson with four. In steals there were three Tigers each with three: Nelson, Johnson and Koebernick. Arndt had two steals.
ACGC had the one-two punch of Kobe Holtz and Jaren Kaddatz lead in scoring, each with 16 points. Josh Kinzler put in seven points in the losing cause. Wyatt Weseman and Steven Lawver each had six. Elliot Gratz had four points and Braden Hedtke had three. Holtz had six rebounds while Kaddatz and Gratz each had five. Holtz had four assists and Kinzler had three, and Holtz had three steals.
We're at the start of what promises to be an exciting orange and black campaign.
 
Girls: New London-Spicer 66, Tigers 31
The dynasty in New London-Spicer girls basketball just keeps rolling along. The Morris Area Chokio Alberta girls learned that the Wildcats are a power once again for 2017-18. My goodness, the 'Cats shot out to a 44-8 lead by halftime. The final score was 66-31 on December 7, here.
Shea Oman was a long-range shooting whiz for the victor. She connected for five three-pointers. Mackenzie Rich and Payton Mages each made one '3'. Oman was the steals whiz with seven. She was one of three Wildcats each with four assists, joined by Ashton Engelke and Rich. Ava Kraemer had nine rebounds and Emma Hanson had eight.
Oman used her 3's to top the NL-Spicer scoring list - her total was 17 points. Rich and Hanson each scored ten. Mages put in seven points and Erin Knisley had six. Engelke and Grace DeSchepper each added four points to the winning mix. The list wraps up with Mya Krause (3), Sam Johnson (2), Courtney Caskey (2) and Ava Kraemer (1).
For MACA, Malory Anderson played up to the high standards she has set in the early season, scoring 19 points. She made two 3-point shots. Maddie Carrington had five points followed by these three Tigers each with two: Riley Decker, Jenna Howden and Carly Wohlers. Kendra Wevley put in one point.
Decker and Anderson each collected five rebounds. Liz Dietz and Wohlers each had four rebounds. Dietz dished out four assists. Anderson had five steals and Carrington had four. Anderson led all scorers on the night. But the orange and black was outdone by a wide margin, by the dynastic Wildcats. I assure you the 'Cats don't win because of their uniforms!
 
Sauk Centre 73, Tigers 42
The MACA girls were dealt their first loss of the season on December 5 at home. We had three wins previously. But we were humbled by the Streeters of Sauk Centre. Sauk upped its record to 4-0 with an impressive 73-42 win. The halftime score was 42-29.
The Tigers faltered despite Maddie Carrington again making several 3's for MACA. She made four in all, the only long-range successes by our Tigers. She scored 14 points which was second-best on the team. Post standout Malory Anderson set the pace with 19 points. There's a dropoff after Carrington: Riley Decker with five points and Liz Dietz and Jenna Howden each with two. Anderson collected nine rebounds and Howden had four. Four Tigers each had two assists: Carrington, Jordann Baier, Anderson and Carly Wohlers. Anderson and Carrington each had three steals.
Tori Peschel supplied lots of scoring punch for the winning Streeters with 25 points. Other double figures scorers were Kelsey Peschel (14), Maesyn Thiesen (13) and Julia Dammann (10). Kenzie Schmiesing scored seven points, and Megan Klaphake and Michaela Dammann each had two. Tori Peschel and Thiesen each made three 3-pointers. Kelsey Peschel connected twice from beyond the three-point line, and Schmiesing made one '3'.
 
Wrestling: Tigers 59, BOLD 21
Five wins by fall fueled the MAHACA winning effort against the BOLD Warriors. The score was 59-21 as the Tigers greatly impressed on the wrestling mat. Our winning total was inflated by forfeits, unfortunately. This is one downbeat aspect of wrestling, IMHO.
Caden Rose had his arm raised unchallenged at 106 pounds. Justin Asthmus likewise won by forfeit at 113. Ethan Lebrija got to face an opponent and he excelled with a technical fall over Jesse Manderscheid, 23-5. Austin Berlinger was on the short end by fall vs. Matthew Dooner (3:20). Ben Travis got one of those forfeits at 132 pounds.
Dalton Rose showed a winning flair at 138 pounds with his fall over Jordan Amberg, achieved in 5:23. Gideon Joos got one of those forfeits at 145 pounds. Colton Wohlers pinned Blake Flann (4:45) in the matchup of 152-pounders. Brady Cardwell won by fall in 4:36 over Anthony Maher at 160 pounds.
Christian Doods won by fall in 5:22 over Jaden Huebsch at 170. BOLD's Tim Peppel won by forfeit at 182. Our Bain Lane dropped an 11-4 decision to Hayden at 195 pounds. Gage Wevley pinned Brady Ridler in 1:27 at 220 pounds. BOLD's Jack Peppel won by forfeit at 285 pounds.
Let's excuse the weight-conscious Tigers for doing some Christmas snacking soon!
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwillyh73@yahoo.com

Monday, December 4, 2017

Maddie Carrington makes 3's in Tigers' 2-0 start

Tigers 50, ACGC 39
Now we're into a new sports season. The winter season began for the MACA girls with a 50-39 win over the Falcons of ACGC. The action was at Grove City.
The Tigers broke open a close game in the second half. We cruised with a ten-point scoring advantage in the second half, 26-16. Maddie Carrington was very sharp with her three-point shooting eye. She connected on four such shots. But it was Malory Anderson leading the team in scoring with her 22 points while Carrington finished with 18. Just five Tigers scored points. Riley Decker scored five points, Jordann Baier had four and Liz Dietz one.
Anderson snared eight rebounds and Jenna Howden collected five. Decker dished out five assists followed by Howden with four. In steals it was Anderson setting the pace with nine while Decker had five.
For the Falcons, three players each made one 3-pointer: Jeana Denton, Addison Bernstein and Madison Denton. Madison Denton was ACGC's top scorer with 13 points. The list continues with Bernstein (7), Jeana Denton (5), Anna Grimsgard (4), Lindsay Minnick (4), Molly Youngblom (4) and Gabby Lawver (2). Three Falcons each grabbed five rebounds: Grimsgard, Lawver and Minnick. Bernstein topped the Falcons in assists with five, and Jeana Denton was the top steal producer with three.
Last season's Tigers made the Section 3AA semi-finals. How high could they climb this year? A long season lies ahead. Carrington and Anderson scored all but ten of the orange and black points in the Tuesday contest. We have two returning starters from last year's high-achieving team. Those two were fairly quiet offensively against the Falcons: just five points scored. This pair: Howden and Decker. Those names were pretty prominent in the fall volleyball season.
Anderson is a sophomore forward who operates at post. She flirted with a triple-double, most certainly putting a smile on coach Dale Henrich's face. The coach had to smile about his team's overall defensive performance.
We won by eleven but the margin was closer for much of the second half. Our defense forced turnovers through a stretch of that half, but there was difficulty getting those turnovers translated into points. A Decker basket put us up 43-37 with 4:30 left. Then Carrington made one of her four 3's to provide some breathing room.
 
Tigers 50, Benson 43
Morris Area Chokio Alberta upped its record to 2-0 with a 50-43 triumph over Benson. The success came on the first day of December at Benson. It looks as though Benson is becoming more competitive than they've been over the recent past. Benson led the Tigers at halftime, 23-20. But MACA surged to outscore the Braves 30-20 in the second half.
As in the season opener, Maddie Carrington made four 3-pointers for the Tigers. Liz Dietz made one "3." It was Malory Anderson leading the Tigers in scoring with 17 points. Carrington followed with 12. The list continues with Jenna Howden (6), Riley Decker (5), Jordann Baier (4), Dietz (4) and Carly Wohlers (2).
Anderson at post led the orange and black in rebounds with eleven. Howden snared nine rebounds and Dietz had seven. Three Tigers each had two assists: Jennifer Solvie, Dietz and Decker. The steals list has three Tigers each with three: Anderson, Howden and Carrington.
Benson came at the Tigers with a 1-2 scoring punch of Kaitlyn Berreau and Claire Ricard, each with 15 points. Grace Lee put in nine points for the Braves, while Abbie Mitteness and Courtney McNeill each scored two. Berreau made Benson's only three-pointer. Lee was tops in rebounds with 13 while Ricard had eight. Ricard and McNeill each had three assists. Three Braves each had two steals: Berreau, Mitteness and Hannah Andrews.
 
Get out your reading glasses
Have you seen the MACA sports schedules on that flyer that was recently distributed with the Morris paper? The type size for the schedule info seems unreasonably small. I'm 62 years old and use reading glasses. But newspaper readership on the whole is "up there" in years. Why couldn't the paper use slightly larger type size? Oh, we all ought to know the answer: the paper is trying to squeeze in as many of those box ads for businesses as they can. The newspaper vacuums in some revenue. Obviously that's a higher priority than the schedule information which is just a lure for getting those ads which are "sig ads" (also known as "sucker ads"). Money shouldn't have to change hands for MACA sports fans to get easily-accessible schedule information. Doesn't Pheasant Country Sports provide this in a user-friendly way?
Also, I was shocked to see that the Morris paper fell all the way down to 14 pages. My goodness, 14 pages! The paper had been hovering between 16 and 18 pages. It's strange and a little alarming that this shrinkage is happening between Thanksgiving and Christmas, normally the most robust time of year for newspapers. If it's this bad now, how will it be after the holidays?
 
Should there even be a charge?
If the Morris paper is going to shrink this much, this fast, it should knock down the newsstand price from $1.25 to a dollar. Then again, if a superior publication like Senior Perspective is offered for free, along with the campus University Register, then you can argue that the minimalist Morris paper should be free too. Is Forum Communications getting ready to just start mailing out the Alexandria paper to everyone on the Morris/Hancock subscriber list?
It is fraudulent that the Morris paper continues to claim that it has now combined with the Hancock paper. The paper does appear to be going out of its way to appease Hancock, subsequent to the cancelling of Hancock's own paper, by presenting lots of Hancock material. I heard a complaint about this at church Sunday.
I spent 15 years generating two pages of sports for the Hancock Record every week. Randy Thielke told me recently he appreciated that. I do hope it is remembered.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, November 27, 2017

Panel on C-Span renews alarms about football

The late Glen Helberg talked about how much he enjoyed watching C-Span. Our household gets three different C-Span channels. I don't monitor an actual schedule but I come across interesting stuff when "surfing."
Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I came across a Congressional hearing on football brain injuries. The panel was completely together on fundamental conclusions. There was no apologist for big-time football there. Former NFL player Harry Carson was there. So was Kim Adamle, wife of former NFL player Mike Adamle. The panelists supported themes that I have long been familiar with.

A "time bomb," possibly?
A new concern was aired: We at present have a generation of men in their late 50s and early 60s who played football at a time when the risks were getting greater. The onset of the "big helmet" spelled the increased danger, we learned. I wonder about Jerry Witt, an age peer of mine who was "Mr. Football" for a long time in Morris. He played runningback for the UMM Cougars and presumably played that punishing position for a long string of years. I pray Mr. Witt is going to be OK. But I'm thinking about it, which is a bad sign.
The football apologists talk about "concussions" as if the dangerous plays are isolated. They'll recommend something like a "concussion protocol." The assumption is that the risk can be contained. The C-Span program affirmed something that has been embraced by objective observers of the problem: It is the repeated contact in football that does the damage, not just the isolated "concussions." You can take the hitting out of practice but you can't take it out of games. Can we really expect kids to always follow correct tackling "technique?"
The panel suggested why young men continue playing football in spite of the burgeoning revelations about risk. It's because of the "brotherhood" aspect of the game, the bond among teammates or "the guys." It is of course foolhardy for this dangerous sport to proceed if this is the only incentive. I have suggested that the cheers from the bleachers are a big reason boys continue playing. Their self-esteem may be challenged in other phases of their life. Football can make them feel like heroes. How shallow a society we are, when we feel we need to make heroes out of boys who are simply capable of knocking opponents on their keisters. It's barbaric.
And yet we have allowed a monument to this sport, our Big Cat Stadium, to be built at our U of M-Morris, for our Cougars and Tigers. If a whole lot of men across the U.S. fall into cognitive issues that render them no longer self-sufficient, think of the enormous cost to our society. Think of the literal cost in dollars/cents. Think of the heartbreak.

Forget the perfect solution
A consensus is setting in, that football cannot be made "safe" in a way that does not fundamentally change the game, presumably to be less entertaining. Well so what? I have broken my old habit of watching football. I have a wee bit of curiosity about how things are going for the Gophers and Vikings. I'll be curious if the U of M can "sell" the new football coach or if he can sell himself. It's an issue of importance to the U because of the sheer dollars involved, or the (considerable) largesse involved. I confess I might watch for a few minutes if the game is in the fourth quarter and there's suspense. But no longer do I watch any game for an extended time, not like I used to.
We can break this habit of anticipating college football on Saturday and pro football on Sunday. We really can restructure our lives, I assure you. There is life after football.
Football used to be connected to a testosterone-fueled male culture that included lots of alcohol consumption. Televised games were full of beer commercials. I sense that has changed. That's a wonderful development (if you can stand insurance company commercials). I will someday go to my grave wondering why my generation thought it so essential to consume booze when we were young adults, right after the drinking age got lowered. We had the "privilege" of hanging around bars. My, how we availed ourselves. My male friends talked about brands of beer as if they could actually tell the difference. Someone would make a run to get a 12-pack of "Old Mil" (for Old Milwaukee). What a waste of money. What a detriment to our personal development. If you were to reject booze, marijuana and perhaps other vices, you'd be rejected as a "prude."
We associated those vices with being an adult or with rebellions. Rebellion was quite the fashion in the early and mid 1970s, in a way that today's young people couldn't begin to understand. Today's young people are taught to respect authority. It seems logical today but it wasn't logical in the days when our government was telling us we had to prosecute the Vietnam War. I entered my adult life thinking it was in fact important to question authority. This became a handicap for me.

Two sides to the UMM coin
UMM Cougar football was an incredible institution in Morris in the 1970s. This is an important nugget of Morris history to tuck away in your mind. UMM football also had a certain "swagger" back then that would be rejected today. We'd play in the Division III national playoffs and feel oh so proud, like this team was really putting us on the map.
Let's just say the Cougars were not averse to misogyny.
Stan Zweifel was the last UMM coach who could still hang onto some of that swagger. Then the program fell. I really wouldn't care except the extent of the fall was so marked, I had to wonder why it was allowed to happen. We fell into that incredible loss streak. A far cry from when we could beat Northern Iowa.
Today I can't even tell you how UMM football did this past season. I used to pop out there on my bike just to see how big a crowd was there. I don't even bother doing that anymore. Same with Tiger football. It would be nice to see the fan turnout go down. I fear that is not happening. I plead guilty to writing some blog posts about Tiger football using information from the West Central Tribune. That was a problem this past season as MACA football disappeared from the Willmar paper for roughly the last half of the season.
Why do I continue having any desire to write about Tiger football? I want to keep some sort of connection with the community's young people and their activities just like when I was with the Morris paper. If football is going to be an anointed activity by our board and administration, well I guess I have to "respect" that and "follow authority" according to current societal norms, right? We no longer favor rebellion, do we. Maybe the challenges coming forward vs. football are reminding us that rebellion and the basic questioning of authority still have their place, n'est-ce pas?
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, November 20, 2017

Metrodome had its thrilling run for Minnesota sports

The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis
The vagaries of big-time sports can be enormous. We were told at one time that a roofed facility was essential. The Minnesota weather was too much of an obstacle for sports to be played outdoors. Advocates for the Metrodome were adamant. I remember the whole discussion leading up to the Dome's construction.
Isn't it amazing that we felt one facility would be suitable for the three main big-time teams of our state: the Twins, Vikings and football Gophers.
The Dome was supposed to be a boon for Gophers recruiting. It didn't seem to turn out that way. Critics said the Dome seemed too detached from the U of M campus. Lou Holtz gave us a faint taste of premier college football glory there. The experiment of Lou Holtz as a truly big-time coach leading a premier program ended. I attended one game with Lou on the sidelines, in 1984 when we were playing Ohio State. Holtz left and we drifted back to the usual underwhelming standards. After all the ballyhoo about how the Dome would be so wonderful for Gophers football, we had reality set in. The "sales job" didn't deliver the goods.
And as for baseball, all the talk about how a dome was essential faded away too. As the years passed, we heard the likes of Bert Blyleven and others say that baseball indoors was something of a perversion. I heard Blyleven literally say "that's not baseball." But that's not what we heard in the late 1970s when the drumbeat grew for the Dome.
The national media never seemed to fully respect the Dome. Some called it the "homer dome" which I interpreted as a smear, a cheapening of the thrills that unfolded there. Those same media people would find charm, not defects, in a place like Fenway Park in Boston which is arguably rather odd with its dimensions and with its "green monster." But Boston is a "cool" East Coast city where everything has merit, whereas we're way out in "flyover" country. These perceptions have faded in the present day as the new media have been a real equalizing force.
Let me assert that Target Field seems to have won 100 percent acceptance.
The big change over the last few years is this belief that any major or semi-major sports team deserves its own facility. What incredible prosperity! Remember that in the 1950s, we had Metropolitan Stadium built on a "spec" basis as we rather desperately sought a big league team, any big league team. Gophers football at Memorial Stadium had a monopoly. Met Stadium was the home of the old AAA Minneapolis Millers for five whole years before we got the Twins! Why so grudging a process?
Met Stadium beginning in 1961 developed as rather like an erector set, one addition after another. It was considered a miracle place for a time. But by the end of the 1970s, we saw it as dilapidated and outmoded. Minnesota in fact fell into a pattern of building a new stadium at the end of each generation of stadiums - a bad deal. Prosperity overcame all that. Just think of how quaint this is: a stadium like the Metrodome named for a politician. A Democratic politician (Humphrey). My goodness! No sale of "naming rights?" How strange.
In regard to Vikings football, the Metrodome developed a rather strange reputation toward the end of its run. This got so bad, there were letters and even a guest op-ed in the Star Tribune. The Dome developed an image of being quite non-family friendly. One complainer summed it all up by saying that "20 somethings" were filling the place and getting out of control with their rambunctious tendencies, well-lubricated by alcohol presumably. Why did that trend happen? Is it guaranteed that it won't come back with the new facility?
 
Not opulent, but site of great thrills
The Metrodome cost $68 million to build, significantly under budget. It came across as a utilitarian facility. I felt it was like walking into someone's basement, albeit a clean and classy basement. The Dome always had a very clean feel and it always felt big league. But it never seemed opulent.
Could Minnesotans ever feel more joy than what came their way for the 1987 and 1991 World Series? We got our money's worth with the Dome, certainly. My, what a succession of important events we got at the Dome. We got baseball's All-Star Game in 1985, the Super Bowl in 1992, the NCAA basketball Final 4 in 1992 and 2001 - two of them! - and those World Series classics. Do memories come any better than this? Let's not forget the 1998-99 NFC championship game. Wasn't the 1992 Super Bowl the one where that Buffalo Bills runningback couldn't find his helmet at game's start? That might have actually affected the outcome of the game.
The fabric domed roof caused sound to reverberate in the place. Eddie Murray, Dave Winfield and Cal Ripkin Jr. joined the 3000-hit club at the Metrodome. Tony Dorsett had his 99-yard run there. Dwayne Wade got his fourth triple-double in NCAA men's basketball tourney play. In 2008, our Gus Frerotte threw a 99-yard touchdown pass to Bernard Berrian.
 
My introduction to the Dome
My first visit to the Dome was in 1984. I ran in a 10K fundraiser for Muscular Dystrophy just prior to the game. We began just outside the place with Twins owner Carl Pohlad on an elevated platform to fire the starting gun. The clouds opened with rain as we ran the 6.2 miles. I was wearing a brand new pair of Brooks "Chariot" shoes that day. Dick Beardsley ran with us. Because he was recovering from injury, his pace was slowed and I could actually see him ahead of me for a good portion of the race. I wasn't left behind in a cloud of dust!
The game had the Twins playing Toronto and going up against Dave Stieb in his prime. We lost a low-scoring game. I didn't change into street clothes for the game.
Another of my visits to the Dome was when the roof fell in (to a degree) due to sudden bad weather, remember? Yes, "I was there" and I did feel some fear for a few moments.
I attended a game during the Twins' stretch drive in 1987. I was with an old high school friend and we snatched up two tickets at the last minute before the game sold out. We sat at the very top row of seats but didn't feel detached at all. Tom Brunansky hit a dramatic game-winning home run. Mike Smithson pitched. We certainly got the flavor of all that was going on - the wild devotion. In the back of my mind I felt bad about how our Twins' story ended in 1965, with that loss to Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers in game 7. To this day I feel crestfallen about the 1965 heartbreak at "the Met." But just think, only five years previous in the '65 Series, Minnesota's only big-time team was the football Gophers at Memorial Stadium. Just imagine life in Minnesota then. And now we're so spoiled.

"The Metrodome" song
I'm pleased to note I have written a song about our old Metrodome, simply called "The Metrodome." I may have it recorded in 2018, one of six songs I tentatively have planned. The second line of the chorus is a highlight. The verse melody seems like it lends itself to a polka rhythm but I wouldn't have it recorded that way. A simple lively rhythm is desired. Here are the lyrics:

"The Metrodome"
by Brian Williams

Here in Minnesota
We have love of life
Even with the weather
Causing lots of strife
Back in nineteen eighty
We just felt the need
For a new arena
For our favorite teams
 
Big shots in the sports leagues
Said it had to be
Guarding from the weather
A priority
So we went and did it
We just could not wait
So our sky was Teflon
And the grass was fake
 
CHORUS:
The Metrodome was our dear home
Looking like a Jiffy Pop so huge
The Metrodome was our big show
Weather would not make us sing the blues
 
 
We watched Kirby Puckett
And the monster trucks
In that hallowed palace
That we loved so much
Basketball was welcome
How the fans did cheer
Timberwolves would howl
In their maiden year
 
Who could have imagined
Twins as number one
But we saw it happen
Such unbridled fun
Manager Tom Kelly
Lifted up our dreams
With our homer hankies
We rejoiced and screamed
 
(repeat chorus)
 
In the golden autumn
For the pigskin sport
We rejoiced in purple
Ecstasy uncorked
Watching all our heroes
Running to and fro
Was a grand elixir
Making our state go
 
As the years proceeded
We began to hear
Baseball should be outdoors
Wasn't it so clear?
Still we had affection
For the indoor home
Gophers, Twins and Vikings
At the Metrodome
 
(repeat chorus)
 
TAG-ON LINE AT END:
It would make us sing a happy tune
 
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

"Then Came Bronson" & other random travel/adventure

What are the odds that I could even get into some sort of fascinating interpersonal situation if I were to simply take off traveling? I might get arrested. Yet the entertainment world has given us a number of story lines that follow this. It isn't called the "dream factory" for nothing.
Look at that guy in "Kung Fu." He beats the bad guys time and again. "Kung Fu" was a weekly must-see for young adult males in the early 1970s. It was "appointment TV" for them. The show was largely a ponderous type of western drama of the type that was common then. But about 45 minutes into each episode, the hero was displaying his martial arts, maybe for just a brief time, and my male peers had their eyes bugging out.
"Route 66" was a TV show about these dudes just "heading out there" and seeking adventure, which of course they find thanks to carefully tailored TV scripts. Plausible? Does plausibility really matter? I have read that "Wagon Train" was the precursor to the classic "Star Trek" TV series. It's counter-intuitive: a western leading into sci-fi. But it's logical. Again we have our heroes simply venturing out there.
Maybe it's all a reflection of the American spirit of moving westward and opening a continent. A lot of mythology grows up around that. Seriously, prostitutes probably had more to do with opening the U.S. West than gunslingers. "Cowboys" in reality were laborers who smelled of manure. Was the frontier ethos really in contradiction to the "big government" of the East Coast? Oh no, government and its levers of power were essential to opening the West. The best example is the Hoover Dam.
As a kid I thought about taking a long-distance bicycle trip. I got a book on the subject. I thought maybe I could prepare some correspondence that could be shared in the newspaper. It sounds enticing in theory. Of course, my mature mind of today tells me such a trip would be boring and of more significance, dangerous. The danger is accented tenfold in our current age of distracted driving. Many years ago I'd sometimes take Highway 59 North (on the shoulder of course) back to Morris from Perkins Lake on my bike, if the wind was behind me. I'd take county roads on the way out there. A strong wind out of the north would make the trip back seem effortless. It was exciting. No way would I do it today.
 
Vagabond on a motorcyle
The random adventure plot premise was really put forward by the TV series "Then Came Bronson." The guy traveled by motorcycle. The show is associated with our whole entertainment landscape of the 1960s, even though it came along at the tail end. Michael Parks was the star. It's not surprising that I feel special affection when remembering the series. The protagonist was a newspaper guy. He gets disillusioned "working for the Man." This comes after a dispute with his editor.
The Morris MN newspaper of today exists only to achieve a certain profit margin by any machinations that are practicable - there is no transcendent or benevolent purpose.
Parks as Jim Bronson becomes a vagabond who searches for the meaning of life. He shares his values with the people he meets. He rides a Harley-Davidson Sportster motorcycle.
The series did not last long. There is a flaw that we might identify: although his travels sprout from an urge of self-discovery, he embarks on each episode destined to enter someone else's life at a pivotal point. He acts as a catalyst for change.
The series is close to my heart because Bronson is a pacifist! Our nation was torn apart by the Viet Nam war in the 1960s. We must resist urges to be nostalgic about the 1960s. It was a harrowing time. A Simon and Garfunkel song does not offset that. Bronson can re-direct an antagonist's anger into self-determination. No martial arts! Bronson rolls out of every episode unchanged.
Martial arts, no, but music, yes. Parks was a gifted singer. He recorded three pop/jazz albums. Parks sang over the closing credits of each episode. Of note, several of Bronson's production staff and cast members had previously worked on the original Star Trek series. We saw James Doohan ("Scotty" on Star Trek) appear in "Bronson."
 
The iconic opening
Let's remember here the most famous part of "Then Came Bronson" which was the opening! Who could ever forget? It was such a metaphor for the show's premise and for the zeitgeist of the 1960s. Bronson rides up to a red light in San Francisco. He chats with a typical commuter, presumably a harried soul who wears suit, tie and a formal hat.
The driver asks "taking a trip?" Bronson asks "what's that?" The question is repeated and Bronson says "yeah." The commuter asks "where to?" Bronson says "Oh, I don't know. Wherever I end up, I guess." The driver says "man, I wish I was you." Bronson responds "really?" The driver says "yeah." Bronson then gives his signature line: "Well, hang in there."
I guess the U.S. was supposed to "hang in there" during the unpleasant stuff of the '60s, chiefly the Viet Nam war. God bless the Bronson character for his pacifism. BTW "Mad" Magazine did a neat satire of the Bronson show opening. I found it online a few years ago by typing in the right keywords.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

MACA football ends season, volleyball charges forward

The image shows your blog host cavorting along the sidelines, during his work as a sports "stringer" for the Morris Sun Tribune newspaper in the fall of 1972. The Tigers were playing Alexandria. As I recall, Alex was celebrating either a new or refurbished football facility that night. I wrote for Arnold Thompson. The football coach was Jim Satter. In the macro U.S. scene, Watergate was starting to bubble up. I believe the photo was taken by Dave Gausman.
 
Pillager 36, Tigers 0
MACA fans made the rather demanding trip to Pillager Saturday (10/28) for a night playoff game. Post-season football often calls for a substantial travel commitment. I'm not sure it's prudent to have so many of the visiting team fans drive home so late at night. But that's the way it is.
MACA had its season end on a down note, partly because it was a loss and partly because we failed to score points. It was a lot different from the Tigers' playoff opener that saw them score plenty of points in a win over Breckenridge. The Breckenridge game was where we wanted it to be: here at Big Cat Stadium.
At Pillager Saturday we were defeated 36-0. So the season of 2017 is over and in the books for our orange and black. Our final record is 4-6.
The Huskies of Pillager were led by Dylan Loftis who scored three touchdowns. Pillager lived up to its top-seeded status. We were seeded No. 4. The Saturday game was in the Section 6-AA semis.
Pillager had a 1-2 punch coming at the Tigers in the ground game. Eli Horn rushed for over a hundred yards to complement Loftis. We were dominated in the total yards category, 380-91. All of Pillager's 380 yards were on the ground! Josh Doss of the Huskies attempted four passes and completed none.
Pillager scored in each of the four quarters. It was Loftis scoring the first TD as Pillager built its advantage - it was on a run from the seven. The conversion run try failed. It was Horn scoring at 9:38 of the second quarter on a run from the one. Loftis carried the ball successfully on the conversion play. Loftis scored the third of the Huskies' three first half touchdowns, at 6:53 of the second quarter. He scored from the ten. Horn added two on the conversion run.
The third quarter saw Logan Gjovik score a touchdown at the 9:01 mark. He scored on a six-yard run and also carried successfully on the conversion. Pillager applied finishing touches on this 36-0 win with a TD in the fourth that had Loftis carrying the football from the two. The conversion try was unsuccessful.
The Tigers had 86 rushing yards on 32 carries. Our passing game was negligible as it typically is. We had one completion in three attempts for five yards. So, the total offense numbers were 91 yards for MACA, 380 for the hard-charging Huskies. Loftis rushed for 139 yards on 20 carries. Horn's stats were 109 yards on 20 carries. Gjovik rolled forward too, accumulating 75 yards on 14 carries.
Pillager takes an 8-2 season record to the next level. The Huskies now face West Central Area in a game set for Friday, 5:30 p.m. at the Fargodome. WCA is the No. 2 seed.
 
Volleyball: Tigers 3, Litchfield 1
The Tigers ended a hiatus from competition and came on strong Tuesday (Oct. 31, Halloween) to defeat Litchfield in the post-season. Coach Kristi Fehr's Tigers roared with this 3-1 success and now advance to play Paynesville on Thursday at Minnewaska. Paynesville needed five games to advance past New London-Spicer.
Our Tuesday win was No. 20 in this most impressive season. Scores vs. Litchfield were 25-12, 25-17, 24-26 and 25-16. Jenna Howden stood out in several phases, one of them serving where she had two aces. Karly Fehr, Jenna Larsen and Riley Decker each had one serving ace. Karly Fehr in her specialty of setting chalked up 48 assists.
Howden was a power at the net with her team-best 21 kills. Bailey Marty pounded down ten kills and Larsen had nine. The list continues with Fehr (8), Kenzie Hockel (5) and Lexi Pew (5). Pew was tops in ace blocks with three. Fehr had two ace blocks and Howden had one. Decker impressed in her forte of digging with 26. Marty dug up the ball 20 times, and Fehr and Howden each had 16. Hockel came through with seven digs and Larsen had five.
The orange and black takes a 20-5 record into the next round of play.
 
Anyone want to predict?
Another contest that is coming up is the referendum for Morris Area High School. I was curious what advice the late Laura Carrington might give. Hers was a voice of wisdom, often a conservative voice. I contacted a friend who like me, knew Laura well, and here's how he responded by email:
 
Laura always complained that they didn't do / budget plan for repair / updates. Let it go to h--l and then talk new or major updates. Counties are guilty of the same actions. I talked to a customer in North Dakota and he said the district has three schools and they take a section each year and do mechanical updates. I guess that makes too much sense!
 
Mike O'Keefe, RIP
"Salt of the earth" describes Mike O'Keefe, who unfortunately has left our mortal ranks. As my mom would say, "he's in a better place now." Earth was a mighty satisfying place for Mike. He was gregarious, relaxed and reassuring in his stance toward everyone who entered his world. I didn't see him as much as I would have liked the last few years. We'd occasionally see the O'Keefes at DeToy's Restaurant.
I appreciated Mike's concern over the fact I never got married. He approached this subject with a touch of levity. He had advice too. It's all tucked away in the back of my mind. I saw Mike regularly at Beyer Ford which I visited weekly for taking photos. I'll never forget his "rattlesnake eggs" gag, which totally "got me" the first time! "Caution when opening."
If I'm fortunate enough to come across Mike in heaven, he'll probably greet me by saying "You haven't gotten married since the last time I saw you, have you?" His voice by itself seemed to make all your problems go away. He's with son Tony in that "better place" now.
 
Whither the Morris paper?
The Sun-Tribune or Stevens County Times, whatever, struggles today. The paper is a very weak shadow of what it once was. I was on the staff during the Sun Tribune's heyday, when we published twice a week and the paper was thick. I covered the UMM Cougars, not comprehensively but with a decent amount of commitment, in the days when UMM either had no sports information director or had an SID in name only. Mark Fohl would not object to this sentence if he read it.
My early work as a stringer was especially fun because I wasn't pressured to work full-time with its manic demands, nor did I fill out those dreadful timesheets. Timesheets put unreasonable pressure on me and often left me feeling like I was in a no-win situation. In that earlier "stringer" phase, maybe I was lifted by the sheer joy of youth! College gave me a cynical hard edge. The 1970s had its disturbing elements.
The Morris Sun Tribune today has weakened greatly in terms of subscription and readership. That shouldn't surprise you. Here's an assessment I received recently via email from a newspaper publisher/acquaintance of mine in western Minnesota. His candor and bluntness is refreshing.
 
The subscriber numbers in Morris are shocking. I believe they've dropped below 2500 paid subscribers. I see on the Minnesota Newspaper Directory website that circulation is around 2900 but that figure can be sugar-coated with fictional newsstand numbers. The official Minnesota Newspaper Association website directory says circulation is 2800 (not verified) and I have a hunch that is the Hancock and Morris numbers combined. That's a newspaper that may not exist in five years. I really believe a majority of the problems in Morris are caused by Sue Dieter and probably also from very poor top-down management by the Forum. She is aloof, arrogant and obviously in the wrong profession. It is a damn shame for that town. I will rail and rail on the Fargo Forum, but as we see in Alexandria and the Echo Press, it is possible to run a good show in the Fargo Forum family. I am befuddled at the difference between the Alexandria and Morris newspapers.
 
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

MACA girls end regular season with sweep win

First off, let's acknowledge the MACA football team's success Tuesday night. The Willmar paper has no coverage of this playoff win outside of the score. Several other games are covered at length. The Willmar paper has no official responsibility to do any of this. It's an honor system for coaches to call in, presumably the home team coaches. It would make just as much sense for the Alexandria paper to do the reporting on Morris. 
The problem with Morris' own paper is that it only comes out once a week on Saturday. During this past season, I have checked the Morris paper's website during the week and found maybe 2-3 sentences about the most recent game. So, that coverage doesn't even count. 
Now, maybe the public is concluding what I have sensed for a long time, that it really doesn't matter how much "press coverage" a team receives. What I'm suggesting is that the coverage has little real value. To the extent it appears to have value, it's in a political context of expecting "the media" to simply pay attention to the teams and the schools, as a political sort of statement, affirming the value of these institutions. So when I make an issue of the Willmar paper at present, it could be that the vast majority of Morris fans are really rather indifferent about it. 
I often use the rough information from the Willmar paper to put up blog posts which are the equivalent to what I used to do at the Morris paper. I enjoy staying close to these things. I'm not sure the Morris paper staff is motivated by the same sense of enjoyment. If they were, we'd see a little more effort on the paper's website. The "paper" version of the paper has such limited value, now that it only comes out once a week. 
I regret I haven't been able to blog more about MACA football this fall. We had a real good start to the season. The coverage then faded. I'm not sure what's going on behind the scenes. Has the coach become skeptical about calling in to the Willmar paper, for reasons I could certainly speculate about, but I'm not certain about? I hope the day doesn't come when media coverage of these teams simply vanishes or becomes negligible. 
Look how the UMM teams are covered on UMM's website. Couldn't high school programs follow that template? It would be exciting and fun.
 
Volleyball: Tigers 3, Minnewaska Area 0
The regular season came to an end for MACA volleyball on October 17. The Tigers hosted and defeated the Minnewaska Area Lakers via sweep. We got our 19th win by scores of 25-18, 25-23 and 25-20. The success certainly sets the right tone for the post-season. Expectations are high. We cruise into post-season play having captured the West Central Conference title outright!
Jenna Howden stood out in several stat categories. Hitting is her forte and again she set the pace, pounding 15 kills at the Lakers. Bailey Marty slammed seven kills. Karly Fehr added five kills to the mix while these three Tigers each had four: Kenzie Hockel, Lexi Pew and Jenna Larsen.
Fehr facilitated the offense as she always does with set assists - on this night her total was 31. Howden and Fehr each executed three ace blocks. Hockel had two ace blocks and Pew had one. Riley Decker was busy in digs with the team-best 15. Fehr had 12 digs while Marty and Larsen each had ten. Howden assumed an aggressive stance at the serving line. She batted three serve aces while these four Tigers each had one: Marty, Fehr, Larsen and Decker.
For Minnewaska Area, Ellie Danielson was tops in kills with 14. Bailey Stewart had two serving aces. Sara Geiser was the top Laker in set assists with eleven. Danielson had two ace blocks. Three Lakers each had ten digs: Jessica Lanoue, Geiser and Stewart.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

There are two Carringtons again in MACA cross country

Conference meet
Hooray! Maddie Carrington is back in action for MACA cross country! Let's say hooray also for Meredith Carrington's high-caliber running. Having the two Carringtons in the MACA lineup is a most encouraging thing to see. Meredith and Maddie excelled in the conference race which was held Monday, Oct. 16, at Olivia.
Meredith took first place with her time of 21:09.20. Maddie took second with her 21:43.60 clocking. The sisters pushed their team to a first place team finish among the six teams. The other MACA runners were: Malory Anderson (12th place, 22:00.80), Kaylie Raths (14th, 23:16.90), Madelyn Siegel (15th, 23:18.10), Caryn Marty (20th, 23:54.40) and Isabel Fynboh (24:58.90). The runner-up team behind MACA was Sauk Centre.
Our MACA boys team topped the standings too. Benson-KMS took runner-up. Jonathan Tostenson of Benson-KMS was the boys champion, time of 17:16.37. Our Tate Nelson arrived at the finish chute No. 3 with his time of 17:57.90. Noah Stewart was No. 5 to the finish line with his time of 18:10.40. The rest of the MACA lineup: Solomon Johnson (10th place, 18:20.71), Ben Hernandez (11th, 18:26.78), Thomas Tiernan (22nd, 19:14.27)., Tyler Reimers (27th, 19:36.21) and Bradley Rohloff (31st, 19:57.55).

Volleyball: Tigers 3, Sauk Centre 2
Karly Fehr worked proficiently as setter, getting the ball to the hitters in a way the hitters could really finish off. She distributed the ball in deft fashion, and this was an ingredient in a 3-2 MACA win over the Streeters of Sauk Centre.
The October 12 home action had these scores: 25-23, 25-21, 18-25, 22-25 and 15-12.
Karly Fehr is making inroads in the record books. Against Sauk Centre in this marathon match, she performed 62 set assists. Kenzie Hockel and Jenna Howden each had one serving ace. Howden was a force in hitting as she so often is, on this night getting 30 kills. No. 2 on the list was Bailey Marty with 14 kills. Jenna Larsen pounded down ten kills and Lexi Pew had nine. Hockel came through with four kills and Fehr had two.
Three Tigers each had one ace block: Fehr, Howden and Pew. Riley Decker maneuvered to accumulate 39 digs. Marty performed 27 digs. The list continues with Fehr (19), Larsen (9), Hockel (6) and Howden (6).

Football: Sauk Centre 39, Tigers 8
We're coming down the stretch of the fall sports schedule. As I write this post on Tuesday, the weather is summer-like. Sure doesn't feel like typical conditions for the MEA week game. Do people still call it that? The MEA week game?
The October 13 assignment for our MACA football Tigers was to play at Sauk Centre. There weren't a lot of smiles on the way home. We were humbled by the Streeters: a 39-8 final. Our only touchdown came in the second quarter. Camden Arndt got into the end zone from the two. Connor Koebernick ran for two on the conversion. However, futility would characterize the MACA offense on this night, a night when the host Streeters scored in each of the four quarters.
Hunter Fletcher scored the first Sauk Centre touchdown: a big play run of 58 yards. The score became 8-0 when Dylan Haskamp ran for two. The score was 8-0 at the end of one quarter. Sauk Centre scored two touchdowns in the second quarter. Casey Schirmers ran the ball into the end zone from the one. Haskamp again carried for two on the conversion. MACA got on the board with the Arndt run but the Streeters answered with a big play pass. Casey Schirmers passed to Royal Weber on a play covering 54 yards. The Schirmers-to-Weber combo worked again on the conversion.
Sauk Centre created some distance on the scoreboard with two second half scores. Fletcher turned on the jets for a scoring run from 16 yards out. Haskamp ran successfully on the conversion. Haskamp then went to work on a one-yard run to polish off Sauk Centre's offensive fireworks on the night. This time the Streeters kicked and Fletcher's toe was true. The Sauk fans could savor this 39-8 triumph.
The stat report shows Arndt of the Tigers creeping over 100 rushing yards to finish at 101, achieved on 23 carries. Connor Koebernick rolled up 44 yards on 13 carries. Also on the ballcarrying list: Nathan Beyer (eight carries, 24 yards), Joel Ruiz (3-18), Parker Dierks (1-2) and Austin Berlinger (2-0). True to form, the Tigers passed very little. It was really negligible. Not only did we have just one completion, we also threw two interceptions! Groan. I'll omit the names. Parker Dierks had the only reception. On defense, Dierks had an interception.
Hunter Fletcher of the Streeters rolled up 136 rushing yards on 15 carries. He was part of a 1-2 punch that also included Dylan Haskamp (22 carries for 124 yards). The Sauk passing game had only slightly more impact than MACA's. Sauk had two pass completions for 61 yards. The pass catchers were Royal Weber and Cade Neubert. Schirmers and Weber made the Sauk Centre interceptions.
The Streeters upped their won-lost mark to 5-2 while Morris Area Chokio Alberta slipped to 3-4.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, October 14, 2017

A $ commitment to help UMM's aspirations

We were pleased to get a thank you card from Stacey Aronson and Bradley Miller the other day. Mom and I are pleased to have made a financial infusion to UMM Humanities. We made a financial infusion to the music department, quite logical since my late father Ralph founded the music department. I wrote up some background material on our whole family's background with UMM. I submitted this to the appropriate department within UMM which requested it. I have learned that this has been edited down quite a bit. As a journalist I fully understand this. Nevertheless I wish to share the entire text, which I am doing with this post today. I have my own communications platforms. I guess I don't even care if UMM publishes anything I submitted. I am my own journalist. The image you see with this post is of mom Martha H. Williams in her well-known "gait" across the UMM campus, in her role as post office supervisor. Many years have passed since our direct involvement with UMM. Employees there are less and less aware. Knowledge of the past enriches our present. Maybe we can even hear Dad's "UMM Hymn" again someday. But that decision lies in someone else's hands. If you read what I present below, you'll note that I affirm UMM's historic core mission. In the past I have shared a little skepticism of that - the pure liberal arts commitment - but in the spirit of wanting to show faith in UMM's leadership, in rooting for their goals, I do in fact affirm the mission. Good luck on that. - B.W.

Why give to UMM music? Our family wants to be sure to have a connection to UMM's present as well as its past. We are inspired to give to UMM based on our conviction that UMM's mission will remain as viable as ever. Our family's background is inextricably tied to the University of Minnesota. The late Ralph Williams was a founding faculty member of UMM. He had a background with the U before we came here. He was a graduate of the U and taught at the U's St. Paul School of Agriculture in the 1950s. Ag schools were heading toward obsolescence. Morris had this nice if challenging transition from the WCSA to the pioneering UMM: a small public liberal arts college. The grand experiment would seem to have turned out quite nicely! Students have been happy here even when the campus had fewer amenities. 
We give to music at present because this was my father's life. He invested a big part of this life here in Morris. He directed the band in its debut performance on November 5 of 1960, at the old armory where the public library is now. That concert represented the kind of campus/community bond that has always been held up as an ideal. The concert was for an audience of about 1000 composed of Stevens County 4-Hers and their parents. There were 50 band members. "A band of this size was not anticipated the first year," the Morris paper reported. 
My Mom Martha Williams was UMM post office supervisor and worked at the bookstore before that. She was known for her "gait" across campus as she handled chores for the post office. She was very thoughtful toward her student workers. She played violin in the original UMM orchestra which was directed by my father. That group along with the men's chorus put out a vinyl record album.
What about me? I came to campus often on behalf of the Morris newspaper. I  wrote many sports articles in the days when UMM sports information had more limited resources than today. We're talking pre-Internet! I enjoyed writing about UMM soccer in its debut year.
I played trumpet in the West Central All-Stars in the early days of Jim Carlson's fabulous Jazz Festival. Jim had been a member of my father's men's chorus. I was recruited to fill out the concert band's french horn section for a short time in the late 1960s when I was merely junior high age. It was interesting because I soaked in the feeling of campus turbulence in the Viet Nam war era. I showed up for rehearsal one day when rehearsal was canceled due to a Viet Nam "moratorium" - remember those? - at Edson Auditorium. Rather than just leave I grabbed a chair and listened. I was in the band for graduation that year, very memorable. We are blessed not having a war tearing apart our society today.
How do we want to see out gift applied? We defer to the department chairman in this regard. We may pick up a British accent yet! We hope the gift furthers the spirit of networking that friends of the campus feel. It's all about community. In music this is easy to appreciate because of the regular music concerts. Music enriches, entertains and serves a public relations purpose for the institution. All that was borne out when my father took the UMM men's chorus to the Seattle and New York World's Fairs. The chorus opened the Minnesota Day program at the Seattle event. 
The Williams family is delighted to make a contribution ($10,000) that will help ensure that UMM music keeps its exciting and enriching quality. We have fond memories of UMM Founders Day events where we'd get to hear students sing my father's "UMM Hymn" which he wrote for UMM's inception. We are giving in the spirit of "giving back."

- Brian R. Williams

Monday, October 9, 2017

Tigers sweep to win No. 14 at ACGC court

Tigers 3, ACGC 0
The MACA volleyball Tigers surged to a 14-3 season record with a sweep win on October 5. This road contest brought scores of 25-18, 25-20 and 25-19. The host team was the Falcons of ACGC.
Karly Fehr facilitated the most effective MACA offense with her 33 assists. Riley Decker contributed two assists. Kenzie Hockel and Jenna Howden each batted two serving aces while Fehr had one. Howden slammed hard in the hitting department, on this night accumulating 15 kills. Jenna Larsen impressed with her eleven kills. Bailry Marty had five kills, Fehr four, Lexi Pew three and Hockel two.
Pew came at the Falcons with two ace blocks. Fehr, Howden and Larsen each had one ace block. Riley Decker was proficient in her specialty of digs, accumulating 21. Marty had eleven digs while Fehr had eight and Larsen six.
For ACGC, Rachel Wilner had 21 set assists. Addison Bernstein had the team-best seven kills. Wilner and Brenna Anderson each had an ace block. Bernstein led the Falcons in digs with 12. Falcons with serving aces were Anderson (3), Lindsay Minnick (2), Madison Denton (1) and Pailey Wilner (1). ACGC's won-lost numbers are the reverse of MACA's.
I have to plead some ignorance here, perhaps. The Willmar newspaper reported that setter Fehr of the Tigers got her 3,000th career "save" in the match. I have written countless volleyball articles through the years but I am unfamiliar with the term "save." I associate that term with hockey goalies. Sorry, it's hard to be a master of all the details in all these sports, but "save" eludes my understanding in volleyball. At least I am showing some humility regarding this. I hope my critics will understand.
Coach Kristi Fehr was quoted saying of her team "It wasn't our best match, but to their credit they played hard."
 
Football: Homecoming win
I have been unable to find a Homecoming game review of our Friday win. It wasn't in Saturday's Willmar paper. Then I hoped there would be a belated summary in the Monday paper. This happened the week previous with the game versus Minnewaska. It was in Monday. So I stopped at Casey's early this morning (Monday) to buy the Willmar paper, with darkness still prevailing outside. Got home, opened the paper with the hope of learning of the game's highlights which I assumed would be substantial. Nada.
I checked the Morris paper website on Saturday and found only 2-3 token sentences about the game. I seem to recall the score was 21-20 over Osakis.
I was disappointed during the radio broadcast to hear an announcer speak for several minutes about the upcoming referendum for high school improvements. There was really no place for this on the broadcast. It's a politically charged topic. The announcer complimented his boss, the superintendent, for being just "informational" on the referendum topic and not crossing the line into advocacy. Does anyone think that school officials have really been neutral on this? Did you get that flyer in the mail? That flyer screamed "vote yes" without saying so in a direct, explicit manner, although some might say it was explicit. I assume the law prohibits that.
I don't want to see the expected upcoming library referendum endangered. I don't want people to tire of referendums to the extent they turn down a really bona fide one, which would be our library proposal. As for the school, it always has such an insatiable appetite for money, I tire of it. I think we have allowed our school campus to expand too far. We can be gleeful about this until we realize that all that infrastructure demands maintenance. These buildings need to be built in a more sound and durable fashion in the first place.
A friend said to me "I wouldn't allow these problems in my home."
I would love to have an extensive blog post put up today reviewing the MACA Homecoming football win. I would love to have put up this post on Saturday. Nada. I rely on the Willmar paper for rough information. I feel bad about this shortcoming.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Gruber & Lakers surge late to 35-7 win over MACA

Minnewaska Area assumed control late with a 35-7 win over the Morris Area Chokio Alberta Tigers on September 29. The Lakers notched win No. 4 at their home field. The Tigers slipped to 2-3.
Matthew Gruber was a key contributor for the host as he covered 117 yards on the ground on 18 carries. Gruber scored two rushing touchdowns and one with the aerial attack. 'Waska outdid the Tigers with the ground game, amassing 347 yards to the Tigers' 162. The 'Waska defense held the Tigers scoreless in the first half.
The lone orange and black score came in the third quarter: a one-yard run by Nathan Beyer. Eli Grove kicked the point-after. The rest of the game saw MACA languish in terms of seeking points while 'Waska scored in three of the four quarters. The Lakers poured it on with 21 points in the fourth quarter.
Gruber scored the first 'Waska TD of the night: he was off to the races with a 37-yard run. The PAT kick try failed. The first quarter ended with the score 6-0. The second quarter was scoreless. Each team scored a touchdown in the third quarter. Beyer had that one-yard run for MACA for six. Garrett Jensen scored on a five-yard run for Minnewaska. Jensen also ran for two on the conversion.
The Lakers really got some separation on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter. Here we go: Gruber passed ten yards to Jaeger Jergenson for a score. Drew Nelson kicked the point-after. Gruber built the onslaught with a six-yard TD run, after which Nelson kicked the point-after. The game's final score came on a big play 51-yard run that had Laker Tyson Meyer clutching the football. Again Nelson kicked the point-after.
Turning to stats, Camden Arndt of the Tigers cooled down some from his recent norms, rushing for a still-decent 77 yards on 16 carries. Beyer churned forward for 65 yards on 14 carries. Other Tigers with rushing yards were Kyle Staebler (four yards), Joel Ruiz (3), Connor Koebernick (12) and Jack Riley (1). Once again the Tigers' passing game was minimal: Koebernick had one completion in five attempts for eight yards, and he had one interception. Parker Dierks had the reception. On defense, Gage Wevley had a fumble recovery.
Minnewaska's Gruber rumbled for 117 yards on 18 carries. Ryan Christianson was another force on the ground for the winner: 95 yards on 13 carries. Tyson Meyer charged forward for 53 yards on just two carries of the football. Garrett Jensen had 47 rushing yards on eleven carries. Jack Blevins' numbers were 21 yards on five carries. Jackson Johnsrud added four yards to the mix. Gruber handled the passing game and completed six passes in 14 attempts for 39 yards and no INTs. The pass-catchers were: Johnsrud (two catches, nine yards), Blevins (1-11), Christianson (one for negative yardage) and Jaeger Jergenson (2-29). Gruber was quite opportunistic on defense as he intercepted a pass and recovered two fumbles. John Helander recovered one fumble.
Should MACA try to cultivate more of a passing game? Inquiring minds want to know.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

"A Bridge Too Far" (1977) a morass of bad news

I had a friend in college who was amused by a review of "A Bridge Too Far." A line stood out for him: " 'A Bridge Too Far' is an hour too long." It was a major motion picture in the 1970s with one of those all-star casts.
War movies can take themselves too seriously. A more recent example is "Gods and Generals" based on the U.S. Civil War. It is very self-consciously an epic. We're supposed to appreciate the weighty subject matter. What could be more weighty than war? No one questions the importance of this stuff. But a movie that elaborately lays out the details of the engagements and skirmishes, as if it all entertains in a movie theater, is depressing.
We know that wars are fought by human beings whose actions result in lives lost and fortunes changed. War is by definition a breakdown in our processes for trying to live in an orderly world. How much more constructive the energies of these people would be, were they chaneled constructively. It has been said that people who have been involved in war don't think about the winning or losing - they just realize all the destruction.
 
Reflecting the decade when it was made
"A Bridge Too Far" came out in 1977. It was based on a 1974 book. The movie's director was Richard Attenborough. A history-based movie can tell us just as much about the time period in which the movie was made. "A Bridge Too Far" is one of those WWII movies. All the familiar trappings: bombs, tanks, grenades. The movie is distinguished for showing failure by the Allies.
It's understandable that a 1977 movie would be made in such a way: We had reached consensus about our failure in Viet Nam. We were in a funk over that. A movie about the shortcomings of war was understandable. We sure got it in "A Bridge Too Far" and we truly get dragged through it. The length of the movie makes it grate on us. The movie tells the story of "Operation Market Garden." It would be a household name had we succeeded. The operation was intended to allow the Allies to break through German lines and seize several bridges in the occupied Netherlands, such as at Arnhem, with the objective of outflanking German defenses in order to end the war by Christmas of 1944.
The setting is September of 1944. We were supposedly buoyed by our success on D-Day, though I have never accepted that it was a complete success. We were ravaged too much by casualties and we got bogged down quite badly as we sought to advance. Oliver Stone suggests that the Red Army coming from the East was the main source of doom for the Nazis. Germans especially feared being overrun by the Russians who I guess were quite nasty dudes, not like the affable "Hogan" in "Hogan's Heroes."
Field Marshall Montgomery was a primary designer. The plan was to parachute large numbers of troops into occupied Holland. The troops could capture a series of important bridges. Eventually the troops would press on into Germany and destroy the Nazis' munitions plants. Montgomery was supremely confident but things went errant. So we see the unfolding tragedy.
"A Bridge Too Far" has been compared to "The Longest Day" which focused on D-Day. "The Longest Day" came out previously and was rather oddly in black and white. Both movies used subtitles for the bad guys. So many movies gave us a German accent as if that were authentic!
 
Remember the purpose of movies
"The Longest Day" seems more palatable as a movie, than "Bridge Too Far." I remember a key word in a review of the Civil War movie "Gods and Generals." That word is "turgid." Let's copy and paste that word for "A Bridge Too Far." The moviemakers feel as though the subject material is so epic and important, we need an extremely drawn-out movie to depict it. A movie is not a documentary. It's not a sermon. The movie "Gettysburg" is vastly better than "Gods and Generals" because it seizes the best elements of drama. It depicts a handful of engagements as representing the whole tapestry of a particular chapter of the war. It's not giving a history lesson, rather it uses drama to make us appreciate the Gettysburg campaign. We see a handful of key characters as they behaved over just three days of the war.
A World War II movie can be made in the same way. Guys like me who grew up with the "Combat" TV series (with Vic Morrow) hardly need to see more grenades exploding and tanks getting blown up. We get all that already.
The cynical and defeatist '70s, the Murphy's Law decade, was an apt time for "Bridge Too Far" to come out. It was the decade when Jimmy Carter's attempt to free the hostages failed when our helicopters had mechanical breakdowns. It was the decade of the pet rock and of the Comet Kohoutek which experts said would be so bright, it would make nighttime seem like day. We got disco and the Gong Show, plus Euell Gibbons whose claim to fame was writing about edible plants in the wild.
Attenborough with "Bridge" oversees a WWII movie that seems wrapped in an anti-war subtext. The movie has been praised as being ahead of its time for cinematography. Seeing it today, I see nothing to distinguish it in this regard. Roger Ebert thought the special effects with the planes were laughable. I'll have to watch more carefully next time. I'll also have to watch more carefully in order to spot John Ratzenberger as a lieutenant. So many combat scenes scream "futility" as we see "men die like flies," to borrow a line from Ebert's review of  "Gods and Generals."
Sean Connery played a private in "The Longest Day" and he's back in "Bridge" as a general. There is a cynicism in "Bridge" that we do not sense in "the Longest Day," the latter ending as Robert Mitchum smells and admires a cigar. Eddie Albert is machine-gunned to death at the end and he simply falls into a hole - so typical of traditional war movies where we don't see the blood (or internal organs protruding) or hear the screams.
"A Bridge Too Far" has scenes that show the poor U.S. grunts in a no-win situation, for example getting shot as they were descending in parachutes, or crossing a river in small boats against strong German resistance. Why do we need to see this? Aren't we already quite aware of the scope of tragedy?
 
A need to distill
"Bridge Too Far" has too many characters in too many locations. The plot developments bleed into each other, so to speak. A model more like "Gettysburg" was needed: seizing on two or three pivotal episodes and developing interesting characters around them. We deduce the big picture: all that battlefield hubris.
"Operation Market Garden" was such a complicated scenario that if one element got screwed up, the whole venture would be endangered. Robert Redford leads that charge across a fortified river in broad daylight. Some critics were hard on Ryan O'Neal. I felt he did as well as anyone, and maybe the problem was that he looked too young for his role. Or maybe the problem was that critics were jealous of O'Neal because he played a heartthrob in "Love Story." Seriously, I subscribe to that theory.
About 3/4 of the way through "Bridge" I got genuinely weary and felt it was all becoming quite redundant. Why do we need to be hit over the head with the message that war is horribly tragic and painful? What possessed mankind in the mid-20th Century to engage in such conflict and to cheapen human life by making it so expendable? "Men died like flies."
And we seek entertainment from this morass of bad news on the movie screen. We are so human an animal.
 
Addendum: I found one of those lists of "notable lines." I couldn't find the one that I thought was best or at least the most poignant. Sean Connery observes some people who got loose from a "lunatic asylum" due to the fighting. These poor souls are giggling and seem clueless, and Connery says "what do they know that we don't?" Not quite sure what he meant but it seemed clever on the surface, but maybe it's politically incorrect by today's standards. It's politically incorrect to make light of the problems of such people.
 
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com