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, January 25, 2017

Overtime tilts toward Tigers again in win vs. 'Waska

The MACA boys came on strong for their Saturday and Tuesday games. We cruised through the Saturday affair, crushing the YME Sting 72-37. The Tuesday game was no cruising affair as we went into overtime vs. the Lakers of Minnewaska Area. It was a happy outcome as the orange and black prevailed 53-51.
Remember, last year we lost steam at the most critical time against those Lakers. We beat them in the first matchup, played them to the last shot in the second, but then got crushed in the post-season. That's not the kind of pattern we want. We'd like one of our basketball teams, boys or girls, to advance to Southwest State University in Marshall this time around.
Of course, I can remember when post-season games were played right here in Morris at the P.E. Center. That would be the best arrangement - no late-night driving required. But we have to accept reality: drive south.
 
Tigers 53, Minnewaska Area 51 (OT)
Early in this home game, Minnewaska carved out an advantage revealed in a 29-23 halftime score. 'Waska came here with a winning record. The Tigers have been slightly below .500 and they aim to remedy that. Our Tuesday win was our seventh.
Minnewaska outscored us 24-18 in the second half. The 47-all score set the stage for overtime. Camden Arndt was the hero at the end. (The Tuesday Willmar paper spelled his name "Camren.") On Tuesday, Camden put in a buzzer-beating layup vs. the Lakers. Arndt had the game-high scoring total of 17.
Arndt
scored the dramatic game-winner after getting a pass from Jacob Zosel who drove the length of the court. Just prior to that, Jackson Johnsrud of the Lakers scored on a put-back to tie the score. The Tigers had to answer and they showed the poise to do that within the final ticks of the clock. The fans tucked away some more special memories.
The Tigers are getting rather accustomed to playing overtime games. We beat Montevideo in triple OT recently. Our won-lost record now: 7-8. Three Tigers each scored ten points to follow Arndt on the scoring list. Those three: Tate Nelson, Zosel and Lukus Manska. (The Willmar paper spelled the name "Lukas.")
Tim Travis put in four points vs. the Lakers, and Jaret Johnson added two points to the mix. Nelson made three 3-pointers while Manska connected for two. Arndt led in rebounds with seven. Zosel was tops in assists with six. Nelson led in steals with three.
Jake Peters was the top point producer for 'Waska with 15. Dennis VanDyke scored eleven points and Matt Gruber had nine. Garrett Jensen scored five points followed by Collin Richards, Ryan Christianson and Jaeger Jergenson each with three. Jackson Johnsrud added two points to the mix.
 
Tigers 72, Yellow Medicine East 37
The Sting of YME showed no sting in their Saturday contest against our Tigers, who surged forward with a 72-37 win. Action was at our "big floor" of UMM. Too bad more prep games can't be played there.
Camden Arndt burned the nets for 26 points. We shot out to a 37-12 halftime lead.
Arndt and Christian Thielke each made two 3-pointers to help build the blow-out. Lukus Manska made one long-ranger. Arndt had eight rebounds and Kyle Staebler grabbed four. Jacob Zosel passed crisply to accumulate ten assists. Tim Travis stole the ball four times.
Arndt's
team-leading 26 points was followed by: Zosel (11), Thielke (7), Manska (7), Jaret Johnson (6), Andrew Anderson (5), Travis (4), Taylor Carrington (4) and Kyle Staebler (2).
 
Another 18-page Morris paper
We have seen two straight 18-page (minimal) Morris newspapers. When I saw the first one, I thought it might be an aberration. We continue to see 16-page Canary publications. That's minimal too.
Here's the danger for the paper business: the longer these minimal products continue, the more the public (their customers) will get out of the habit of looking for (or supporting) the larger versions. We indeed may have reached a tipping point. All the predictions about how important community information will migrate to online are maybe coming true.
It takes time for these trends to take root. The paper in Elbow Lake is significantly more viable than the Morris paper. This continues to be a puzzle.
 
I'm a mere rube, I guess
I got a postcard announcing an upcoming lecture at UMM. It's set for Monday, Feb. 6, at 7:30 p.m. at the HFA recital hall. It's free and open to the public. That is all well and fine, but what is the lecture about? It's titled "Speaking Truth as Indigenization: academia and reconciliation." We learn that the presenter, Julie Pellatier, is a "cultural anthropologist specializing in indigenous studies with a particular interest in the indigenization of the academy, the politics of representation and identity, and economic development as self-determination."
I'm sorry but I cannot comprehend any of this. The talk may well be stimulating, once I can get some focus on what it's about. The lecture is named for the late Bert Ahern, a long-time neighbor of mine.
Ahern was skeptical about the Kensington Runestone and used a little prop to share this view in a light way. I thought it was also a condescending way, rather disrespectful toward those who might want to seriously discuss the subject, as many well-educated people do. Today I don't think Ahern's approach to this would be appreciated at UMM, as the institution seeks to cultivate support from the Alexandria area. It's fine to be skeptical but in a dry and objective way. I forget the name of his prop.
Final note: my spell-check tells me there's no such word as "indigenization." Final note No. 2: Am I a cultural anthropologist? Maybe I am and I don't know it. Anyway, maybe there's something for us folks of Mayberry to learn in that lecture.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Our MN state capitol needn't focus on Civil War

Our Sam Smith "running rifleman" statue at Summit Cemetery, Morris MN

"Free State of Jones" begins with a standard Civil War battle scene. The Confederates march forward toward a prepared Union position. This is done with full knowledge that many in their ranks are going to be felled. 
Civil War battle tactics seemed outdated. Progress in war tech made the weapons so lethal, beyond the smoothbore muskets used previously. The "rifled gun" came on the scene for the Civil War. So did the early repeating rifles. Repeating rifles enabled John Buford's cavalry to hold off the advancing graycoats on Day 1 at Gettysburg. The Union artillery chief felt he could have held off Pickett's Charge with artillery alone. Imagine marching directly toward those belching cannons. Imagine the "grape and canister" too. So inhumane all the way around. Why couldn't we in America find harmony with the tremendous resources this continent was affording us? Indeed, Civil War "buffs" speculate endlessly on what possessed us to sacrifice so many lives, in painful spasms, in a political conflict. 
Our town of Morris MN has surprising connections to Civil War memory, considering how far to the West we are. We were founded six years after the end of the war. But there is a statue at our local cemetery (the public one, not the Catholic anti-abortion one). The statue is of Samuel Smith, running just like the pose of the official monument to the First Minnesota Regiment at Gettysburg. Mr. Smith was present for several of the famous engagements in the Eastern theater. He was assigned to the ambulance corps for the Battle of Gettysburg. His descendants continue to be well-known in the Morris area.
Why did the young men of that era put their lives on the line? Perhaps more intriguing: Why were they sacrificed in such large numbers amidst tactics that seemed so brutal and futile? There is a book about Cold Harbor called "Not War But Murder." In that case it was the Union that employed the sad mass assault approach vs. fortifications. The movie "Cold Mountain" showed Union forces being chewed up.
 
Debate over public art at MN capitol
We reflect on this troubling chapter of U.S. history when we consider State Capitol art. There was a totally needless dust-up recently when our governor appeared to make a reasoned judgment. We no longer need such focus on the Civil War conflict at our state capitol via art. Because he is a Democrat, the other party was bound to take issue with the judgment.
It seems hard for Democrats to assert themselves these days. Republicans seem to have the default political position that people favor. We get disgruntled about government. The Republican Party feeds into that. Things change when Republicans finally get enough power to impose their positions. So now the "repeal" of "Obamacare" looms, for real, and suddenly the realities of that are beginning to scare people.
If you didn't know what Republicans truly stood for in the past, you may well find out now. Republicans are always trying to undo the New Deal. Other advanced industrial nations around the globe have decided that health care is a right. It would seem to be the Christian position. The U.S. to this point is an outlier. I wonder if it's because of racism, because there is a perception among political conservatives and reactionaries that non-white people make disproportionate use of government assistance. Of course race should be out of the equation. Our whole population is aging to where people of all races are living well beyond their productive years. Politics will catch up to them, or maybe we already saw this with the massive turnout for Bernie Sanders rallies (under-covered by the media).
The U.S. Civil War was a dispute over whether non-white people should be treated as property. The Confederacy was a spasm of reactionary anger that was never destined to succeed. It was, as the North pointed out, a "rebellion." Like the political tea party of our recent past?
So now we come down to the question: Should the old paintings at our state capitol stay as conspicuous as they have been for the last century? The obvious answer would seem to be "no." It is exciting to ponder what kind of historical artwork might be exhibited to replace the old stuff. The art could in fact be rotating, refreshed from time to time.
Governor Dayton is wholly right in asserting that Minnesota has been through a long and interesting history since we sent troops for the Civil War.
The Civil War was unlike other wars in that we were fighting our own brethren, our own countrymen. Efforts at reconciliation were strong after the war. Captured battle flags were returned. Minnesota still has one, only because of an oversight. The state of Virginia cannot make a formal request for its return. Southern governments of today cannot take actions bestowing respect on what the Confederacy represented. There is a private re-enactors group in Virginia that has made requests for return of our flag. In the most famous snub of that, Governor Jesse Ventura spoke for Minnesota. "We won" or something like that. I really wouldn't care if the flag were to be returned. The Southern cause died eons ago. "The South will rise again!" is just a cute comment you'll find in souvenir gift shops in the South.
Some veterans have felt the need to defend the conspicuous Civil War art at our capitol, using the knee-jerk pronouncements about how those sacrifices need to be remembered. Why not display paintings from the other wars where our adversaries were truly from outside? Minnesotans have made countless dedicated sacrifices. But the Civil War was fought against a civilization with which we would reconcile.
Regardless, we will never forget the U.S. Civil War. Go out to our cemetery and appreciate that Sam Smith statue. Think of the resolve. I wish there was a wider open space around the statue, maybe even a small park area. I'm really not a fan of cemeteries anymore. But the Smith statue has meaning that transcends the normal cemetery plot purpose.

Fame achieved by First Minnesota
The men of the First Minnesota are most remembered for their actions on July 2, 1863, during the second day's fighting at Gettysburg. Our regiment prevented the rebels from pushing the Federals off of Cemetery Ridge, a position that was to be crucial in the battle. General Hancock ordered the First Minnesota to assault a much larger enemy force. The battle cry was "take those colors." Thus, "Take Those Colors" is the name of a song I decided to write about the gallant First Minnesota. I don't know if I'll have it recorded.
I invite you to read the lyrics. The song has a verse/climb/chorus structure. The tempo is upbeat with strategic pauses here and there.
 
"Take Those Colors"
by Brian Williams
 
The sun was getting low
There along Plum Run
A night of destiny
There for men with guns
 
The men of Minnesota
Ready for the fray
The men of Alabama
Wearing Southern gray
 
Would we be two nations
Or would we be one?
Would it be decided at Plum Run?
 
CHORUS:
Take those colors
The Minnesotans charged
So outnumbered
Still they bet the farm
Just for buying time
Good men had to die
That Minnesota charge
 
 
The gray line aimed and fired
Hoping to break through
The noise was thunderous
As the conflict grew
 
The Southern flag unfurled
In its brilliant red
Renewing all their passion
As they fought and bled
 
But the Minnesotans
Made it mighty clear
They were moving forward with no fear
 
(repeat chorus)
 
The screaming minie-balls
Made the danger great
The Union had to fear
Canister and grape
  
The creek bed was a magnet
Turning into hell
There was no time for grieving
When a comrade fell
 
Men in blue so certain
They could get it done
Letting loose their volley at Plum Run
 
(repeat chorus)
 
They plunged into that swale
Knowing it was grim
They knew it had to be
If they were to win
 
They had a resolution
Not to give one inch
So they could guard an asset:
Cemetery Ridge
 
Lumberjacks and farmers
From so far away
Showed their love of Union in that place
 
(repeat chorus, then repeat last line of chorus)
 
© 2016 Brian R. Williams

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Lukus Manska puts on 3-point shooting clinic in win

Boys hoops: Tigers 65, Benson 49
MACA shot out to a 35-21 halftime lead and ended up defeating Benson 65-49 Friday at Benson. We cruised through the second half. Lukus Manska was a cog with 20 points scored. (The Willmar paper spelled his name "Kukas.") Jacob Zosel contributed ten points to the winning effort. The list continues with Jaret Johnson (9), Tim Travis (8), Camden Arndt (7), Kyle Staebler (5), Tate Nelson (3), Denner Dougherty (2) and Connor Koebernick (1).
Manska was dead-on in three-point shooting, connecting six times from beyond the arc. These Tigers each made one 3-pointer: Travis, Nelson, Arndt and Johsnon. Koebernick was tops in rebounds with five followed by Arndt and Johnson each with four. Staebler and Zosel each contributed two assists. Nelson stole the ball three times.
Let's take a look at the Benson stats. Here we see Layton Connelly and Max Peterson each with 13 points. Then we have Ty Hedman with eight points. The list continues: Justin Goossen (6), Zack Sonnabend (4), Sam Lundebrek (3) and Chris Ebnet (2). Connelly made two 3-pointers while Hedman made one. Sonnabend snared six rebounds while Connelly had four. Sonnabend dished out four assists.
 
Girls: Tigers 49, ACGC 44
Rebounding was a big strength for the MACA girls in their exciting home win over Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City. Cheers from the home crowd grew in volume as MACA mounted a second half comeback. We were down by eight points at halftime, 27-19. A grim night? Not at all, as the Tigers showed renewed determination in the second half. We outscored the Falcons 30-17. We breezed past the stunned Falcons to win in the 49-44 final. The game was played on Monday, Jan. 9, at home.
How important was the rebounding? We vacuumed the boards for 38 rebounds. Out skill in the paint began overwhelming the Falcons. Jenna Howden led that effort on the boards with eight rebounds, while Malory Anderson and Correy Hickman each collected six. Hickman was the assist leader with five. Anderson was tops in steals with three.
Anderson made the Tigers' only three-point shot. She was one of two Tigers scoring in double figures as she posted 13 points. Ashley Solvie put in ten points. Correy Hickman contributed nine points to the winning effort. Howden and Nicole Solvie each scored six points. Maddie Carrington scored three while Riley Decker had two.
ACGC had a balanced but not overwhelming scoring effort. Madison Denton led with the modest output of eight points. There were four Falcons each scoring seven points: Anna Grimsgard, Maree Lee, Kendra Miller and Lindsey Minnick. Addison Bernstein scored six points and Pailey Wilner put in two. Lee and Miller each sank a three-point shot.
Minnick and Bernstein co-led in rebounds with five. Lee dished out five assists. Miller stole the ball three times and Grimsgard had two steals.
This was a West Central Conference game.
 
Girls: Sauk Centre 83, Tigers 57
The Tigers of GBB got humbled by the Sauk Centre Streeters Friday night. The Streeters showed a hot hand from the outset, burning the nets for 49 points in the first half. The second half developed into a stalemate but the first half ended up making the difference in this 83-57 Sauk Centre win.
Riley Decker succeeded three times from three-point range for Morris Area Chokio Alberta. Maddie Carrington had two long-range makes.
It was Ashley Solvie leading the Tigers in scoring with 19 points. Decker was No. 2 with eleven points. Carrington and Malory Anderson each scored six points, and Nicole Solvie scored five. Jenna Howden scored four points, and Carly Wohlers and Correy Hickman each scored three.
Ashley Solvie pulled down eight rebounds. Decker had six assists and Hickman had five. Hickman stole the ball three times. We did outscore the Streeters 35-34 in the second half.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Sisseton shows steady "mo" in defeating Tigers

Morris Area Chokio Alberta was humbled on the basketball court Friday night (Jan. 6). The boys' story was a 60-40 setback at the hands of Sisseton SD. Sisseton asserted itself in the first half, gaining a 27-17 lead. Nothing changed in the second half as Sisseton outscored the Tigers 33-23. Sisseton had the momentum.
Just one Tiger reached double figures and just barely: Tim Travis with ten points. Jaret Johnson put in nine points. Then came Jacob Zosel whose total was eight. The rest of the list: Camden Arndt (5), Lukus Manska (3), Tate Nelson (2), Andrew Anderson (2) and Kyle Staebler (1). Travis connected once from three-point range. Zosel, Manska and Johnson each made one three-pointer.
Arndt and Travis each collected four rebounds. Zosel contributed three assists, and Nelson stole the ball twice.
 
Girls: Minnewaska Area 61, Tigers 47
Laker country of Minnewaska Area wasn't kind to our MACA girls hoops Tigers Friday, as we were dealt a 61-47 defeat. Carley Stewart brought a lot of cheers from her home crowd. This Laker made two 3-pointers as part of 24 points scored. Bayley Pooler made three 3-pointers for the "Waska cause, and Emma Thorfinnson like Stewart had two.
We were in the game at halftime as we trailed by just three points, 27-24. But 'Waska owned the second half with a 34-23 advantage.
Ellie Danielson put in 12 points for the Lakers. Pooler's output was eleven. Taylor Amundson and Thorfinnson each had six points, and Ashlyn Guggisberg scored two. Stewart led in rebounds as well as in scoring. In rebounds her stat was eight, and she was followed by Danielson and Abby VerStteg each with five. Stewart led in assists and was co-leader in steals, so she deserved quite the praise over her caliber of play. She had five assists followed by VerSteeg with four. She along with Guggisberg and Bailey Stewart all had two steals.
The Solvie girls for MACA each scored eleven points: Ashley and Nicole. Riley Decker followed with ten points. Then came Correy Hickman (5), Maddie Carrington (4), Malory Anderson (4) and Jenna Howden (2). Decker made two 3-pointers and Hickman made one.
Howden snared eight rebounds and Anderson collected seven. Hickman led in assists with four. Carrington and Hickman each had two steals.
 
An area newspaper folds
Years ago the Herman and Hoffman communities each had its own little newspaper. I remember what each looked like. Those were nice little papers but they reached the end of the road. A newspaper was created that aimed to serve both communities, even though it seemed they shared few interests. The paper sustained itself for a time. I was skeptical what kind of footing it would achieve, so sure enough it has now been absorbed by the Grant County Herald.
The Morris senior center got a complimentary copy of the new paper last week. I'm not sure Elbow Lake shares a lot of interests with Herman and Hoffman. Yet in theory, the new paper is going to serve these disparate small-ish towns. Small they are, nevertheless the Grant County Herald by itself showed vitality that seemed superior to the paper in Morris. To examine it, you'd assume that Elbow Lake was a more thriving and prosperous community than Morris. But Elbow Lake has no assets comparable to our UMM.
The Morris paper has gone through steady steps of downsizing, especially since I left the staff. It would have been painful to try to stay there. It was getting painful as it was. The Morris paper staff has taken over the full operation of the Hancock paper, and the Hancock office was taken out of Hancock, moved into Morris, several years ago.
You'd have to speculate that the Hancock paper will eventually just be absorbed into the Morris paper, perhaps with a "Hancock page." It was my understanding that Hancock had to have a stand-alone paper in order to be in the "Peach" advertising group. But things may have changed in the last ten years. Could the Peach and Canary merge?
The Canary has had some very small issues lately, as small as 12 pages. Maybe those big auto dealers are adjusting to a more online-oriented world. It looks like Jim Gesswein hasn't gotten the memo yet. We have been showered by those big car dealer ads through the years. Morris lost a major dealer: Morris Auto Plaza.
I personally don't see how the Grant County paper can keep going as good as it is. It has a full staff with lots of specialization. I just can't see it.
Most of us are relying less on papers as time goes by, slowly so we're hardly aware of it. We much prefer our new world. We are empowered. Frankly we don't need those old media "gatekeepers," people who decide what we should be reading. We control our own world, and it's vastly preferable even if those gatekeepers are well-intentioned. The Grant County Herald is well-intentioned.
But I'll repeat: I just can't see it.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

"Free State of Jones" (2016) needs distillation

The people who make historical movies can fall into a trap of thinking they have to cover so much ground. They cover a timeline too wide. The story easily gets too complex. They get carried away with the importance of the story. They get immersed in the story's gravity to the point they neglect their purpose as moviemakers. Their movie ought to reflect, or simply be an effective microcosm of, a story that has a broad panoply of details. We can learn more through other resources.
The movie screen is not like an instructor in a college class. A movie like "Free State of Jones" could have presented a more tight timeline, getting at the essence of this arguably important story. We'd appreciate just a handful of well-developed characters interacting and getting past conflict.
It's a Civil War era story at its heart. Then it gets into Reconstruction which isn't nearly as interesting. Lincoln is fascinating. When a movie has to trot out the name of Andrew Johnson, it's lagging. So involved and broad is this movie, we get subtitles - subtitles! - to help us along with the dragged-out narrative. Is this a Ken Burns documentary? A Burns documentary would have its place reminding us of the significant facts which stretch into post-war KKK activity. I never need to see a lynching on the movie screen. I'd much prefer just reading about it. A movie should be relaxing and reasonably entertaining to watch.
"Free State" is ponderous, over-lengthy and really rather turgid. This is despite the presence of Matthew McConaughey who almost saves it. This actor - I don't want to spell his last name again - is a "natural" with his talents. He should have looked at the script and said "distill this down to the most dramatically interesting elements please."
 
Civil War as the backdrop
I can give you a real good example of what I'm talking about by citing two other Civil War movies. "Gettysburg" with Jeff Daniels was quite the agreeable movie that won Roger Ebert's high approval. It taught us a lot about the Civil War and the climactic battle (never mind the South wasn't going to win the war anyway). The movie wasn't anything like a documentary. It capsulized key elements and presented them in a tight timeframe, just three days essentially. There is a tight nucleus of characters we care about. They are well-defined and bring you into their world.
What I'm citing here are matters that all history-based movies should strive for. Movies are entertainment even when seeking to explore sobering historical chapters. Our attention span is limited there in the theater.
The movie "Gettysburg" (with Jeff Daniels and Tom Berenger) was set up as one part of a trilogy. We then got the sequel or "prequel" that was supposed to represent the first part of the war. The scheme for making that prequel was totally different from "Gettysburg." They should have seized on a particular pivotal event or battle early in the war and used it as grist for an interesting story with that small and manageable cast of characters. So simple to understand. But the moviemakers get carried away or blinded by the gravity of their subject.
The Civil War determined whether we'd be one nation or two, although many argue that the rebellion was a doomed cause resisting the forces of history (just like the Jim Crow South subsequently).
The prequel movie was "Gods and Generals." The title itself exudes that sense of awe about the subject matter. I anticipated this movie very much. I drove to Alexandria MN to watch it. You'd better empty your bladder before seeing it. However, you might not want to watch it to the end anyway.
I almost could not endure "Free State of Jones" all the way to the end. I began thinking "it must be close to being done now." Then it would plod on. Congratulations: I realize this movie represents some very important history. But in the movie theater I'm not taking notes for a college class. I want to see an engaging story that keeps my interest.
The Civil War trilogy ground to a halt because the prequel was so bad, so utterly turgid, the third installment never got made! "Gods and Generals" covered a broad timeline with disparate characters. It neglected its mission as a movie. No subtitles should be needed. Tighten the story. Think how tight the story was for "Midway," the movie about the great sea battle of WWII (Charlton Heston).
 
Oh, to escape to a swamp
"Free State of Jones" shows outcasts finding refuge in a swamp. Here I couldn't help but be reminded of the old campy movie "Swamp Thing." The swamp creature in that movie uttered a line that stuck in my head: "Much beauty in swamp - just have to look." The line is meaningful because God really did give us beauty in all environments on our Earth, right? Some beautiful flowers are seen in swamps.
I'm also reminded of the famous story about Jimmy Carter - he told it actually - about being in a boat in a swamp when a menacing rabbit swam toward him! I'm sure swamps are a fascinating ecosystem. In the movie "Free State of Jones," it's where refuge can be found from the military people and their horses. It seems like a fascinating, exotic escape - no ambient sounds. I imagine a Boy Scout campout.
Being self-sufficient in this environment is more challenging than what we sense watching the movie, I'm sure. Those scouts would have peanut butter with them.
McConaughey
- there I go having to look up the spelling again - and his fellow malcontents end up eating a dog. This is one of the dogs sent by the bad guys to pursue them. Earlier in the movie we see the heroic character get attacked severely by a pursuing dog. He is then tended to in that swamp place. However, the severity of the attack makes me wonder if he ever could have survived. This was in the days when infections killed people. Calvin Coolidge many years later lost a son because of a blister that led to an infection, from having played tennis at the White House tennis courts.
We forget the early mortality of so many people in long-ago times. I would suggest that an attack dog could be like a death sentence in the old days. But our heroic character in "Free State of Jones" gets patched up just fine, and he's ready to be a saintly hero through the rest of this story. He's a "white savior" type of hero which can be sensitive ground on which to tread.
The rebellious behavior from that swamp sanctuary represents the most engaging part of the movie. We see the rebels (fighting the real "rebels") employ guerrilla tactics in the middle of a funeral. They are totally justified with their vengeance. The funeral scene might well be considered the high point of the movie.
It seemed weird shortly thereafter seeing a battle scene in Ellisville MS where women in long dresses were right up at the front line of the musket-shooters. They may have been heroines but it was disrupting to see the women so up-front. I think we see a woman only once in the movie "Gettysburg." She's watching a troop company tramp by and merely says "I thought the war was in Virginia." Civil War battles were men's work.
"Free State of Jones" has been described as "a mashup of vignettes." Quite true. Creative people need discipline imposed on them sometimes. Writers like me need editors. With this post I have no editor - sorry for any shortcomings. But money is at stake with movies.
 
Languishing at box office
"Free State" got mixed reviews and grossed just $25 million against its $50 million production budget. The Civil War is exciting. Reconstruction (with Andrew Johnson) is not. "Free State" was projected to gross around $10 million in its opening weekend. The promos I saw on TV made me interested. When I finally checked out the DVD from our Morris Public Library, I thought "this movie has to be better than the reviews I've read." But whenever I have thought that, I end up realizing the reviews were pretty much accurate. An exhibit: "Because of Winn-Dixie," a dog movie. Jeff Daniels was in that. I saw it in the theater, thinking "this has to be a decent movie." Well. . .
Daniels was better in "Gettysburg" when he yelled "charge" at Little Round Top. Actually the movie could have ended with that charge at Little Round Top. Didn't we get an intermission and then the whole predictable story about the doomed Pickett's Charge?
"Free State of Jones" grossed $7.6 million on its opening weekend in June of 2016. So it was sixth at the box office behind "Finding Dory," "Independence Day: Resurgence," "Central Intelligence," "The Shallows" and "The Conjuring."
It's sad because I sort of root for Civil War movies. They say conflict is an essential part of drama. Civil War combat presents conflict in its absolutely purest form. Historically it's significant that so many young men were willing to sacrifice their lives in such a manner. Actually I'd like to see a re-make of "The Horse Soldiers," a 1960s movie with John Wayne and William Holden. That movie was based on the real-life Grierson raid into Louisiana. Try to imagine the actors who would be featured today.
The St. Albans raid by the Confederates is another interesting story once presented in a movie.
Don't ever forget the movie "Swamp Thing." When I say it's campy I'm not really diminishing it. Remember the female heroine? It was Adrienne Barbeau.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com