"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

Focus of pride in Morris MN: our school! - morris mn

Focus of pride in Morris MN: our school! - morris mn
Our school in Morris is a hub of community activity and enrichment. (B.W. photo)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

MACA girls hang on to beat Lac qui Parle

I will be suspending my blogging indefinitely. Mom is at the Barrett Care Center. We strive to always be hopeful. It's a pleasure for me to post today on MACA basketball. - BW
 
The MACA girls played a rare Saturday game against Lac qui Parle Valley at home. The girls injected some liveliness into the weekend by winning a close one. We edged the Eagles by one, 53-52. It was our 14th win against nine losses.
In the first half it looked like we might own this game. We were up 26-17 at halftime. Indeed the home gym fans were happy. But in the second half we had to hold off the Eagles who created suspense. LQPV outscored us 35-27 in the second half. But we had enough cushion from the first half.
LQPV came out of the day with a fine 16-9 record. Indeed these are evenly matched teams.
Correy Hickman made two 3-pointers for the Tigers. Riley Decker connected once from three-point range. But it was Ashley Solvie who was truly at the fore of the Tigers' offense. Ashley put in 17 points. The other double figures scorers were Hickman (12) and Jenna Howden (10).
Decker finished with seven points followed by three Tigers each with two: Maddie Carrington, Malory Anderson and Liz Dietz. Nicole Solvie added one point to the mix. The Solvies stood out in rebounds, Ashley with eleven and Nicole with six. Hickman led in assists with seven followed by Decker with three.
Hickman stole the ball three times. These three Tigers each had two steals: Decker, Howden and Nicole Solvie. the time is getting closer to focus on the post-season!
 
Campus paper informs
I picked up my free copy of the University Register newspaper at Casey's. There's a news rack for the Register next to where the "paid for" papers are sold. Everyone seems to know that the Register is free. I always have the impulse to ask. This can get confusing because the popular "Sr. Perspective" is also free. Yet we are expected to pay for those Forum-owned papers: Morris and Willmar.
The current Morris paper has a ridiculously large photo on the top half of page 1. It's not like the photo has any photojournalistic merit. It does not. It is totally pedestrian. It eats up space so the news staff does not have to work as hard. Nice work if you can find it. Outside of two special sections with the paper, it appears the actual Morris paper is only 18 pages - totally minimal. And yet people are expected to pay for it? When the University Register and Sr. Perspective are free? Stop acting like lemmings and stop buying the Morris paper. Set yourself free.
I examined my University Register. There's a new chancellor at UMM: Michelle Behr. I regret we haven't had the chance to meet her. Mom is having health issues that puts her in limbo for now. We would have attended the welcoming reception.
Morris used to be considered a "company town" because of UMM, but it seems Superior Industries may have come to the fore for that now. We as a community have always thought the world of UMM and for obvious reasons. I wonder, though, if its liberal arts mission is getting strained. This is hardly a radical thought, is it? I mean, liberal arts divisions of colleges all across the U.S. are feeling stress.
I'm not sure young people need to attend a bricks and mortar institution to get this kind of enrichment anymore. All the information in the world is at our fingertips, online, n'est-ce pas?
I'm also concerned about the contentious political opinions that increasingly seem to be causing problems at our august local institution. Maybe this is a sign of stress within the institution itself. Why is it necessary to have such strong political opinions? Behr has actually sent out an email plea to all students to simply cool it. Young people should not be coming to UMM in order to vent politically. Behr's plea makes it sound like there is a real problem - it makes me hesitant to even visit the campus.
Attention Chancellor Behr: Let's hear the "UMM Hymn" again. That song hearkens back to a time when politics seemed on quite the back burner at UMM. Of course, we eventually got the Viet Nam war protests. I personally witnessed that, right on the UMM campus. A troubled time.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Tigers show second half vitality, beat Benson

Tigers 56, Benson 53
We crept above .500 in boys hoops play Friday night (2/17). It was a dramatic night of hoops action as we bounced back from a halftime deficit. The foe was rival Benson. Benson is having a season quite below .500. But those Braves looked very competitive in the first half. They shot past our Tigers to lead by five at halftime, 30-25. Eventually the team with the better record woke up. We outscored the Braves 31-23 in the second half to win by three, 56-53.
It was satisfying to win but still a little worrisome, as you could argue we should have handled those losing Braves a little more routinely. Benson came out of the night with a 5-16 record. When I was a kid, Brad Svea was the big star for Benson. He went on to be a UMM Cougar.
Layton Connelly was largely responsible for Benson's strong upset bid. This very talented Brave poured in 29 points. Zack Sonnabend scored nine for the Braves. Ty Hedman put in seven points, Max Peterson six and Justin Goossen two.
Connelly was a force with his three-point shooting touch, making five long-rangers. Hedman sank one '3'. Sonnabend had six rebounds. Peterson contributed three assists. Hedman, Peterson and Sonnabend each had one steal.
OK let's move on to the Tiger data: Jacob Zosel topped the scoring list with his 13 points. Tim Travis and Tate Nelson each put in ten points. Camden Arndt and Jaret Johnson each contributed eight, and Connor Koebernick added seven to the mix. Johnson made two 3-pointers while Koebernick and Nelson each made one. Arndt led in rebounds with eleven. Zosel was tops in assists with eight. Travis and Zosel each had two steals.

Hi y'all
I was talking to a nurse last night who I noticed had a southern accent. It's amazing how these inflections vary according to particular parts of the country. I made note of her cultural clue, to which she responded, without missing a beat, about how she didn't have an accent, rather I "had a northern accent." She told me she's a "travel nurse." Charming woman.
Little was made of our so-called northern accent until the movie "Fargo" came out. The movie "North Country" did the same thing. In these movies we learn that northern people may seem so innocent and gentle in their outward behavior, even naive, but they can be as mean as anyone. We sometimes stereotype east coast people - you know, the black-haired southern European types - as being rude and impatient. I once heard a commentator note that despite that trait, those easterners "will be the first to help you if they see you're in trouble."
There is an exhibit that shows the difference between Midwesterners and Easterners. It's the four-way stop. In the Midwest, when four vehicles arrive at a four-way stop at the same time, everyone waits for everyone else to go first. In New York City? Don't bet on it, pal. I once had a friend in the Chicago area who noted a trait of his city: when you're entering a very short gap in traffic, everyone understands how they need to accommodate you.
All over the U.S. we see more left turn lanes than used to be the case. It's about time. I remember an intersection in St. Cloud in the 1970s that was nightmarish because of the lack of a left turn lane. In 2006 I re-visited the city and found all that was solved. And let's not even talk about the drastically outdated bridge across the Mississippi River toward the St. Cloud State campus in the 1970s. It certainly has been replaced since.
I'm talking about nurses because we're still at SCMC. An old high school classmate has shown up on the second floor, his mother having some issues just like mine. No one wants to spend time at the hospital but it's a great place if you need it. SCMC gets a high grade. I'm typing this post on a lounge computer at SCMC.
I'll advise that the MACA boys basketball team had better up their caliber before the post-season, or the post-season might not last long. I'd prefer not writing another post about how it's time for a coaching change. Fans have never seemed to put much pressure on the coach - they've been like zombies.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

MACA girls blunt Lakers' momentum

Tigers 60, 'Waska 55
The GBB Tigers' February 9 win vs. Minnewaska gave an encouraging note. The Lakers entered this contest with a five-game winning streak. This WCC hoops showdown ended with a 60-55 score with the orange and black on top. The 'Waska streak was ended and MACA moves forward with renewed confidence. We upped our won-lost record to 11-9. 'Waska was left at 15-7. Action was at our home court in front of appreciative fans.
Riley Decker was key with her dead eye from three-point range. She went on the attack to make all four of her three-point attempts! Her point output was 13. Ashley Solvie was the top point producer for MACA, collecting 23. Correy Hickman put in 14 points and then we have Decker with her 13. Jenna Howden scored five points, Maddie Carrington three and Nicole Solvie two. Decker's four 3-pointers were complemented by Carrington and Hickman each making one from three-point land. 
Ashley Solvie was the top rebounder with eleven. Decker's shooting eye was complemented by a flair with assists - she had five. Hickman stole the ball twice. We led at halftime 29-27. 
We hope this success vs. 'Waska will be parlayed into the post-season if a re-match happens. The Lakers can be kind of a nemesis.
 
Boys: BOLD 59, Tigers 58
Ouch! A loss by one point. The orange and black suffered this fate at the hands of the BOLD Warriors on February 10. We outscored BOLD 34-30 in the second half after trailing by five at halftime. Yes it seemed like anyone's ballgame. In the end it was BOLD's ballgame, and it was win No. 11 for them while MACA was left with a 10-9 record. Game site was Bird Island.
Mason Mages was the Warrior most responsible for keeping the Tigers shy of victory. Mages gunned away to accomplish five 3-point makes. Ryan Snow had BOLD's other three-pointer. 
Mages with his 22 points topped the Warriors in scoring. Snow and Gavin Vosika each put in nine points for BOLD. Thomas Meyers scored six points, Jon Schulte five and Logan Dahlk four. Jordan Sagedahl and Devin Gluesing each contributed two points. Sagedahl and Dahlk each snared five rebounds. Vosika and Snow each dished out two assists. Vosika stole the ball four times.
 
Boys hockey: Prairie Centre 6, Storm 2
"Stars" is the nickname for Prairie Centre hockey. It brings back memories of our old Minnesota North Stars of course. Those Stars are getting more distant in our memory. Today we cheer for the "Wild." I remember the old Met Sports Center located next to the old Met Stadium. What a haven for sports nuts in the old days. I probably hung around there a little too much. I never really liked the multi-colored seats at the Met Sports Center. We had a couple of ABA basketball franchises play there too. Oh, and I heard a Maynard Ferguson jazz concert there!
Let's focus back on the present and the Prairie Centre vs. MBA Storm hockey game on February 9. The puck was dropped in Long Prairie. MBA scored one goal each in the first and third periods. That wasn't enough vs. a pretty smoothly executing Prairie Centre crew. We ended up on the short end of the 6-2 score. 
The Stars scored pretty steadily with two goals in the first period, three in the second and one in the third. The Stars scored the night's first two goals. The Fletchers struck: Noah with a goal assisted by Hunter. Isaac Cebulla put the puck in the net with assists from Daniel Thompson and Will Koetters. 
Dylan DeToy got the Storm on the board with a goal at 16:26, assisted by Logan Smith. 
Unfortunately the Stars owned the second period. Brady Miller scored, assisted by Logan Schmitz and Hunter Fletcher. Then it was Seth Deters scoring with an assist from Peter Erhard. Noah Fletcher scored, assisted by Erhart at 14:21. 
Each team scored a goal in the third period. Daniel Thompson scored with assists from Noah Fletcher and Erhart. The evening's final goal featured the stickwork of our Kolby Goff with assists from DeToy and Smith. 
Tony Bruns worked in goal for our Morris Benson Area Storm. He turned away 49 shots. Isaiah DeFoe racked up 18 saves for the victorious Stars.
 
Yes I'm getting spotty
My blogging activity has slowed of late because of family health issues. I know, I know, nobody cares how often I do this or really if I do it at all. But journalism is in my DNA and I always enjoy writing about our Morris area athletes.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, February 10, 2017

Tigers succumb to powerhouse Melrose

Melrose 67, Tigers 53
Melrose is enjoying a replay of their glory days in boys hoops. I'm sure fans of the Dutchmen wouldn't care to focus on the past. That's a trait of high school sports fans: let's just focus on the present. I understand that. But I'm a journalist and I enjoy weighing historical perspective.
That past heyday of the Melrose boys was when I was in high school. They had a superstar name of Mark Olberding. He played post, as did our top Morris player, Gary Lembcke. Those Dutchmen turned back our Tigers in the post-season. We climbed high but couldn't get past the Dutchmen and their superstar.
Olberding went on to play hoops at the highest level. He did not seem real articulate as a high schooler. I remember an area band director with whom I was associated, mocking him after a clumsy TV interview. Lembcke has had a fabulous career coaching prep basketball. Me? I perform journalism online. Does that make me respectable? I don't know. I do what I do.
The Tigers of the present day had a home matchup with those high-flying Dutchmen recently. How high-flying? They came here undefeated and with 19 wins. They left with their 20th win in hand, score of 67-53.
The first half was a nice showcase for MACA talent. We trailed by just one at the halftime buzzer, 32-31. But Melrose came on strong for the remainder of play, outscoring the orange and black 35-22.
Dillon Haider was an offensive standout for the victor. Haider made two 3-pointers and scored 20 points. Reegan Nelson scored 17. Melrose had a third double figures scorer: Brady Birch with eleven points. Here's the rest of the list: Hunter Rieland (9), Zac Van Beck (5), Damon Van Beck (3) and Jordan Klaphake (2). The Van Beck boys - Zac and Damon - each made one 3-pointer to complement the two made by Haider. Haider led in assists with five and in steals with four. Rieland's nine rebounds made him team-best in that department.
On to the Tigers: Camden Arndt put in 17 points and Jacob Zosel had 15. Then we have Jaret Johnson with nine points followed by Tate Nelson (7), Lukus Manska (3) and Connor Koebernick (2). The Tigers made noise with successful long-range shooting. Arndt and Johnson brought bursts of cheers by each making three 3-pointers. Zosel connected twice from 3-point range. Nelson and Manska each made one 3-pointer.
Arndt was team-best in rebounds with seven. Zosel's six assists made him tops there, and Arndt and Zosel each had two steals.
 
Girls: Tigers 50, Montevideo 44
The Morris Area Chokio Alberta girls were smooth with their execution on the court vs. Montevideo. The score was 50-44 as the orange and black achieved their win No. 10, against nine losses. Monte has a similar record. We built an eight-point advantage by halftime, 30-22.
Three Tigers each made one 3-pointer: Riley Decker, Liz Dietz and Correy Hickman. But it was Ashley Solvie leading the team in scoring with 19 points. The other big scorer was Hickman with 17 points. Other point-scorers were Nicole Solvie (5), Dietz (4), Decker (3) and Maddie Carrington (2). Ashley Solvie gathered in ten rebounds and Hickman collected five. Jenna Howden led in assists with four followed by Carrington and Decker each with three. Hickman stole the ball three times.
 
Boys hockey: WDC 6, Storm 2
MBA showed a goal-scoring flair in the first period but went quiet in the next two. Our opponent was Wadena-Deer Creek. Both teams were at their best offensively in the first period. We scored two goals, but by then the WDC skaters had scored three times. Those three WDC goals were by Josh Daigneault, Jake Dykhoff and Wyatt Hamann.
The MBA boys answered with goals by Shaun Aarhus (16:52) and Dylan DeToy (16:58). Blake Engebretson assisted on the Aarhus goal, and Hunter Gades supplied the assist for the DeToy goal.
Dykhoff
and Andrew Sundby scored WDC's second period goals. Preston Warren scored the final WDC goal at 9:49 of the third. So we're on the short end of the 6-2 final. Our goalkeeper was Tony Bruns who achieved 13 saves. WDC's Noah Stevens turned the puck away 64 times.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Boys beat Streeters, girls on short end

Tigers 62, Sauk Centre 51
The MACA boys gave their fans a night of winning satisfaction when playing Sauk Centre, those Streeters, on Friday, Feb. 3. The MACA fans made the trip to Sauk Centre. Word is, Sauk Centre no longer takes as much pride in its historic ties to author Sinclair Lewis. It's a bit sad. I grew up associating Sauk Centre with the famous author. Time marches on.
Maybe the Lewis works are seen as having not as much relevance anymore. Also, wasn't Lewis not such a big fan of life out here on the prairie?
Our MACA student athletes came on strong in the second half, escaping a halftime deficit of two (26-24). We turned on the jets for second half play. We outscored the Sauk Boys 38-25 in the second half. The final horn sounded with the orange and black victorious 62-51.
Jaret Johnson was an offensive standout with his 16 points. Tim Travis made noise with his offensive prowess as he scored 13 points. Camden Arndt and Jacob Zosel each put in nine. Tate Nelson and Lukus Manska each added five points to the mix. Connor Koebernick scored three points and Kyle Staebler two.
Travis with his seven rebounds led in that department. Nelson and Zosel each contributed three assists. Nelson stole the ball twice.
Cade Neubert of the Streeters topped his team in scoring with 14 points. Cole Deters scored eleven points and Josh Fischer had nine. The list continues with Simon Weller (8), Tanner Rieland (5), Trevor Weir (3) and Alex Kowski (1). Three Streeters each connected for a '3': Weir, Fischer and Deters.
Fischer snared eight rebounds and Neubert had seven. Weller with his three assists led there, and he also was team-best in steals with two.
You'll recall that Sinclair Lewis wrote "Main Street." Main Street itself has been a fading feature of the American landscape. I recall being assigned to read some of Lewis' work when I was in high school. I don't recall it being real inspiring. Today with the meritocracy created by the digital world, I think his work is fading rapidly. But he made his mark in his time. Maybe he appealed too much to academics. Ahem.
 
Girls: Sauk Centre 67, Tigers 50
The MACA girls had an opportunity to play the Streeters of Sauk Centre too. Same day, same place. Our Tigers did not fare as well in the GBB game. Fans could not feel shocked seeing the Streeters have the upper hand, because that squad has a powerhouse reputation. Sauk defeated our Tigers 67-50 to build its record to 17-1. The Tigers were left at .500 with 9-9 numbers.
We trailed by just four at halftime, 28-24. Sauk Came to the fore with its attributes in the second half, outscoring the Tigers 39-26.
Riley Decker made three 3-pointers for the Tigers. Maddie Carrington sank two long-range shots and Karly Fehr made one. None of the Tigers scored in double figures. Here's the list: Decker (9), Correy Hickman (9), Malory Anderson (8), Ashley Solvie (7), Nicole Solvie (6), Carrington (6), Fehr (3) and Jenna Howden (2).
Ashley Solvie attacked the boards to get nine rebounds. Decker dished out six assists. Carrington stole the ball four times.
Sauk Centre's scoring list was topped by Kelsey Peschel with 17 points. We should note that the list as reported in the Willmar paper leaves Sauk ten points shy of their total. Nuts. But let's continue as it was reported. Jill Klaphake was sharp in scoring 16. Then it was Tori Peschel putting in nine points. Kenzie Schmiesing and Julia Damann each scored six. Alyssa Kohorts added two points to the mix, and Maesyn Thiesen put in one. Some sort of blank needs to be filled in somewhere.
Actually, the boxscore in the Willmar paper has the score 69-50, while in the headline it's 67-50. Let's just forget about it - I'm getting a headache. What would Sinclair Lewis think?
Three-pointers were a big part of the Sauk Centre attack. Peschel made four such shots. Schmiesing made two shots from three-point land, and these three Streeters each made one: Klaphake, Tori Peschel and Thiesen. Tori Peschel attacked the boards to get six rebounds. Morgan Kranz led in assists with four. The Peschel girls, Kelsey and Tori, had four steals each.
Sauk Centre was a big rival of the Tigers when I was in high school. I never liked Sauk Centre. Today I don't even believe in sports rivalries. It's Neanderthal. We can all be brethren.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Tale of abduction under shroud of doubt

Remember that news item about five years ago about the woman abducted from a truck stop and left in a ravine? The reported incident happened out west. The woman was part of a husband-wife long haul trucking team. Interesting profession, to constantly traverse the U.S. One would hope it's a reasonably safe profession.
Tales of abduction make anyone a little fearful about long-distance travel. It was a sensational story. Katie Erdman of the Hancock Record wrote an article. The article relates the power of prayer for getting yourself extricated from such a situation. "She got up and successfully made her way out of the deep gully where she had spent the night and made her way back to safety." Ah, the power of prayer, of Christian conviction.
The site of this reported incident was a truck stop in Hot Springs SD. Lanny and Connie Beyer made the usual stop to refuel and rest. The story continues as Connie departed to use the restroom. Lanny awoke a few hours later and Connie had not returned. The story turns sensational. It also appears to have questionable credibility. I am not going to state in this post that it was a fabrication. Rather I will share about how law enforcement made statements questioning the veracity of the story. I'm inclined to go along with law enforcement's skepticism.
Erdman
, bless her heart, was a trusting person and writer and went with the sensational stuff. Trusting people can be a nice attribute. My long career in the media taught me that people can tell tales based on a personal agenda. Many of our crime articles are filled with the word "alleged." I remember when a local hardware store family had a son nearly killed in a criminal incident. Initially the Sun Tribune article, before going to press, related the whole tale with little or no use of the word "alleged." I tapped Jim Morrison on the shoulder and advised him that the writer needed to insert that magic little word in numerous places. It was done.
The recent sensational resolution of the Jacob Wetterling case included a little story told by the perpetrator, of how Jacob spent his last moments. We are asked to believe the perp who reached a plea deal, never having to confess to the murder at all. Maybe Jacob's death wasn't as sudden as he related. Maybe there was prolonged suffering. There was only one witness. The media and at least one book author shrugged, in effect, and went with Danny Heinrich's account. Frankly we should never be so trusting.
Why should Connie Beyer not be believed? Well, Fall River County Sheriff Rich Mraz noted that Lanny admitted getting into a verbal argument in their truck prior to their arrival at Coffee Cup. An argument could cloud normal good reason. So we have the story about how two individuals sped up in a car and came to a stop, whereupon one of the men threw her into the back seat and held her down. She reported her money being taken. The men joked about it being "an easy $20," Connie said.
So prayer took over, an appeal to the Almighty, which Erdman made into sort of a theme. The virtue of Christianity!
The story has Connie falling into a deep gully or ravine after being let out of the car by the alleged abductors. A case for "Websleuths," right? Yes, we did see speculation of that nature. The story concludes with Connie walking back to the truck stop 28 hours after disappearing.
After more than a week of investigation, Sheriff Mraz said there was no evidence to support Connie's story. "Based on the information we have received, physical evidence found in the area of the truck stop and security video footage, we haven't found anything that supports Mrs. Beyer's story she was abducted."
From the Rapid City Journal:
 
Mraz said that Constance Beyer said she was abducted on the north side of the truck stop, between the first row of diesel pumps and the store structure itself, by two men in a dark car. "You can see that there is no dark car at any time where Mrs. Beyer said she was taken," Mraz said as video from the security cameras played, showing a brightly lit fueling station.
When two deputies responded to the first call from Lanny Beyer at 4:21 a.m., they took his statement and began a search of the area. Mraz said he was called in around 8 a.m. and he immediately called two Division of Criminal investigation officers and brought in two teams of search dogs. "The dogs picked up her scent at the back of the truck," Mraz said, "but instead of following it toward the truck stop, the dogs followed the scent to the south and east, toward some buildings in the area."
Mraz said that shoeprints found in the dust of a small road approximately 100 yards away were consistent with shoes that Constance Beyer was wearing at the time. Mraz said that the dogs lost the trail about a quarter-mile further down the road. The back of the Beyers' truck is outside the frame of the video camera. At no time does Constance Beyer or a dark car appear on the truck stop security video.
The search continued the rest of the day on Sunday, and grew to include 30 volunteer fire fighters and an airplane, but nothing further was found. The next day Beyer came walking back toward Coffee Cup, around 8:30 in the morning, cold, dehydrated and telling a story of being abducted.
During the course of the investigation, Mraz noted that some things didn't add up, for instance, Beyer couldn't give a better description of her alleged abductors or their vehicle. "She couldn't say they were white, black, anything," Mraz said. "She did say she remembered crossing two cattle guards before being dumped out, but had no time frame for the time she said she was in their car." He said that when she was first seen the next morning, she was walking down a road from the general area to where the dogs had tracked her the previous day.
Mraz added that as the Beyers were coast-to-coast truck drivers, they had been to the Coffee Cup stop before on occasion. He said that Constance Beyer knew from previous trips that there was a pen with horses east of the truck stop, the direction from which she was walking when she was found.
"Lanny Beyer's story is consistent with the security video and such," Mraz said. "Based on what information and evidence that we have received and recovered thus far, Constance Beyer's story is not supported."
 
A questionable impression of Constance Beyer is certainly made. We'd all like to think a cross country motor vehicle trip is a reasonably safe proposition. A sensational account of being abducted is chilling. If it's false, it's most unfortunate, and it casts an unfortunate light on "the power of prayer."
The way I'm going, with Donald Trump acting like he's a spokesman for Christianity, I'll be an agnostic.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Song "Time Passages" apt for one's birthday

My fourth birthday in 1959, St. Paul
A while back I emailed a birthday greeting to someone whose birthday coincided with something bad from history. Her birthday was on December 7. That of course is Pearl Harbor Day.
My own birthday is today, Saturday, Jan. 28. While today's date may not "live in infamy," as FDR put it, there is a sobering distinction. It was on this date when the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up. People with this kind of birthday are reminded of the sad aspect by the media. We reflect with a note of sympathy. Then we reflect on ourselves and our own lives.
At age 62 I no longer have aversion or mixed thoughts about being a "senior citizen." Today I'm eligible to collect Social Security. Maybe I should start getting those checks before the Republican majority dismantles this and other entitlement programs. Republicans are always determined to do this. Give them a chance and they will undo the New Deal.
But I don't wish to focus on politics. Let's try to be a little more transcendent. On this occasion I wish to revive memories of a philosophical and reflective song. It dates back to the late 1970s. People my age realize what a different time that was. It was totally pre-digital. I might emphasize that life moved so very slow. Those were not optimistic times. We embraced irreverent humor a lot. Consider "The Gong Show" on TV with Chuck Barris.
The song I wish to exhibit is "Time Passages," a 1978 hit that had such a gentle feel. Singer-songwriter Al Stewart gave us "Time Passages" along with "Year of the Cat." These were ubiquitous songs on the radio.
Nostalgia is suggested in "Time Passages" but it's not a blunt message. Let's say it's nuanced and open to interpretation. This shroud of indirectness is a stamp of a masterful poet or song wordsmith. We are forced to think about how we consider our past.
Shall we consider alternate routes we might have taken? Or more importantly, should we wonder how certain friends need not have been so transitory? We wonder about past significant others or potential significant others. They linger in our thoughts. We ponder significant others, potential significant others and even imagined significant others. The latter is the most intriguing.
We think of our tangible accomplishments and possessions. We begin to wonder how truly valuable they are, if we ought to cling to our more intangible assets: our friends and faith etc. We watch cable TV news and are informed of the stock market's performance up to the minute. Are we really so gripped by that? Even if a bull market surges, does it really make us happier? Or are we clutching this "bling" that gives only an illusory sense of prosperity/security?
The Al Stewart song says "the things you lean on are the things that don't last." We needn't spend our limited time in this existence seeking to accumulate beyond our necessities. More than anything, I think Stewart is prodding us to find in our memories a gem of a relationship that might have been polished further. We all have someone like this lodged in our thoughts, right?
Do I dare make a confession like this? I'll say I knew a girl from Iowa, blond hair and a bit tomboyish, who played the trumpet in a time when female trumpet players were rare. I was annoyed by how certain instruments in the band seemed gender-specific. My first instrument was the French horn and I began to realize it was a female-dominated instrument. Buy why? Today I don't see why it should be. Once I learned the trumpet for marching band purposes, I began to gravitate toward it, and maybe my new preference was based on alleviating the gender association.
But the trumpet enabled me to meet my Iowa acquaintance. We sat side by side in an endeavor. Years later when the Internet came along with its boundless possibilities, I was intrigued by being able to look up just about anyone. George and Connie at Don's Cafe were on the ground floor for harnessing the web's possibilities. I think it was with this help that I looked up my old friend. We corresponded, writing letters of fair substance. She was married at the time but that changed.
It was so perfect from my standpoint that she took back her maiden name. I would always think of her with that maiden name. Perhaps "maiden" is a sexist term and I ought to opt for "birth name" or something.
Our correspondence tailed off and that might have been primarily my doing. We lived so far apart. At the time I was absorbed in my media work. Today I'm absorbed with domestic responsibilities. I view the potential bond through a fog of unreality. Or maybe I'm too cautious to break the chains of obligations that seem to have me frozen.
Such are the thoughts that are consistent with the song "Time Passages." In a sense, the song does have the type of cynicism that we associate with the 1970s. Stewart writes about a transitory old acquaintance who seems "just out of sight," in other words, seen through a blur of speculation only: "what might have been."
The lyrics bring to light one special relationship, a lover, a friend forgotten and lost over the years. Time has pushed this person "just out of sight." We deem the person "worth going back for." 
Stewart pleads in the song: "Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight." We wonder if we can get on that train and secure a relationship with that one special person. It's such a safe place in our thoughts, a haven in which we are soothed by that person. Don't we all have such thoughts? And aren't we realistic enough to know we must deal with reality, the present?
Stewart in fact makes us realize through his thicket of reflective thoughts that time moves forward, seemingly faster as the years pass. People like me who stumble into Social Security age realize we don't have the luxury of not making use of the days we have in front of us. Social Security gives me the confidence that I can at least eat. Memories never leave us, alas. I think of my Iowa friend as the lyrics roll by:
In these time passages, I know you're in there
You're just out of sight
Oh, time passages
Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight
 
I invite you to acknowledge my birthday by listening to Al Stewart's "Time Passages" from YouTube. You'll be moved. Put on your headphones or activate your speakers, please. Here is the link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pm6TsYypBpY
 
I remember one morning listening to this song on the radio, in the serenity of a northern Minnesota lake after the summer lake visitor season had passed. Dad and I were there on the eve of deer hunting. It seemed unusual being there post-summer, but also refreshing. You know how the atmosphere generally gets cleared out in the fall.
It was early in the morning and so peaceful with only the sound of the Stewart song getting my attention. It was the late '70s. In that moment there was no room for cynicism, just contentment.
If I see my father in heaven, we will certainly do something other than go hunting.
Never forget these words:
 
Age is a case of mind over matter.
If you don't mind, it don't matter.
- Satchell Paige
 
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com