"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, December 31, 2013

UMM defying the odds with its success?

Maybe we should pinch ourselves to see if we're dreaming. Morris history has it that UMM was on wobbly legs in its early days. Today it seems rock solid and even picking up steam. A new dormitory got built: the "green dorm."
Lest we think this stability is no big deal, consider what is happening at some other colleges around Minnesota. Moorhead State has storm clouds over it. The Star Tribune gave us the recent headline: "Moorhead U eyes drastic cuts."
The institution was called "Moorhead State College" when I was young, then it became "University," then we saw the change to the cumbersome name "Minnesota State University-Moorhead (MSUM)." Clarity was better served when the name started out with the city name. At any rate, adjusting the name hasn't appeared to help.
"Facing dropping enrollment and a $5 million deficit," the Star Tribune article read, "the state university in Moorhead says it may cut or eliminate programs in more than half of its departments, mostly affecting the liberal arts."
The liberal arts! This is what our University of Minnesota-Morris has always stood for. The conventional wisdom out and about, is that the venerated "liberal arts" are prime candidates for cutbacks. And yet our UMM shows no signs of being in panic mode, as might be suggested about MSUM.
The November 28 Star Tribune article continued: "Last week, officials at Minnesota State University-Moorhead notified chairs of 18 of its 31 departments that they could face significant cutbacks in fields such as philosophy, mass communications, history, political science, theater arts and English."
A column in the online journal Slate gives MSUM's retrenchment national attention. Slate treated the issues at MSUM like they might be indicative of what's happening nationally. Thus MSUM becomes something of a poster child. 
We're reminded of when the Wall Street Journal made the U of M its poster child for alleged administrative bloat at education institutions. Remember that?
Institutions recoil at such attention. They deny such assertions or, more often, suggest that facts are misinterpreted, cherry-picked or taken out of context. The defensiveness is understandable. Institutions are organisms with self-interest to pursue. They may be facing forces of change that are simply a consequence of the world we live in today.
Those who resist those forces can be seen as like the old baseball scouts in the movie "Moneyball," shocked and angry over how their profession was being transformed.
  
The pinch felt in Duluth
Let's move past Moorhead State and its woes. Elsewhere in Minnesota we are seeing similar spasms. My oh my, it's even happening within the U of M system, meaning the 'U' itself can't be viewed as a sacred cow. The U of M at Duluth intends to cut $12 million over the next five years. Officials say they'll identify most of the first wave of cuts on February 1. The school could see the elimination of up to two low-enrollment degrees. Plus there's talk of layoffs of part-time faculty, and consolidation of some academic departments.
We learn from the MPR "On Campus" blog that UMD is reviewing every program and service, academic and non-academic, to see if it might be scaled back.
Prudent though this might be, it's kind of a bummer to work in this kind of situation. When will we as a society get tired of this mantra of consolidation and efficiencies? In theory such aims are fine. I do feel maximum efficiency makes people weary, like zombies after a while.
  
The pinch felt in Northfield
For as long as I can remember, Northfield, that place where the James gang was crushed, has had two colleges: Carleton and St. Olaf. For most of my life, that situation was deemed just fine. In theory, though, two colleges in a community the size of Northfield seems rather clunky and impractical.
Now, that reality is being acknowledged. We learn from the MPR blog (managed most capably by Alex Friedrich) that "St. Olaf and Carleton are teaming up to save costs. A $1.4 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will have them jointly run some areas of their information technology, administration and even academic programming."
The St. Olaf president is quoted saying that such sharing promotes efficiency. The Carleton president talks about the possibility of "joint courses" between the two schools.
Why now? Often, "consolidation" is a reflection of decline. A merger of the two schools might even be practical. By staying separate, though, they can keep their respective donors in a better mood for continuing to cut the checks.
I don't think Jonathan Capehart would be pleased if the schools merged. Capehart is a favorite social and political commentator of mine. He's often on the "Morning Joe" panel on MSNBC television. He's a product of Carleton College, class of 1989, and mentions this occasionally for his national audience. He's African-American and sometimes speaks from the perspective of that historically disadvantaged faction. I was amused when someone designed a custom coffee mug honoring Capehart, a mug with a drawing that caricatured Capehart with extra-large glasses. I wish I could obtain this mug.
I attended a state university which I'm sure is grappling with the same challenges as Moorhead State. I know for a fact that St. Cloud State has undergone some streamlining. Is more in store? Might it be like a snowball rolling downhill? Do you not dare let this process start?
St. Cloud State made headlines when it canceled Homecoming. This was a desperation move by the institution to rid itself of its rather celebrated reputation for frivolity. There was a time when people thought this reputation was cute. "Oh, look at those cute kids, setting fires to dumpsters for Homecoming."
But we live in more serious times today. We look at the objectives for school and we insist that the school focus entirely on those objectives. Or else. 
Or else there will be funding cuts and a drop in enrollment.
At Moorhead State - I can't bring myself to always call it "Minnesota State University-Moorhead" - the president actually said some decline in enrollment was intentional. Hoo boy. They must really be whistling past the graveyard. I mean, when you have to spin bad news as good.
We learn that in 2010, Moorhead State decided it was admitting too many unqualified students. The institution began referring these students to community and technical colleges, you know, the schools that take all the dummies (LOL).
The MSUM president stated that for many years, 15-20 per cent of the freshmen who were admitted didn't meet its published admission standards. Moorhead wasn't alone. We hear "it was a common practice at many universities as they struggled to keep their classrooms full." 
And, "many of the students were failing."
Failing.
I often feel as though institutions of higher learning make knowledge seem too elusive. Young people actually do want to learn. They just need to feel as though their learning is going to be relevant to their future. Colleges make knowledge seem elusive or distant partly out of self-interest. If such knowledge were easily grasped, we might not need such well-credentialed professors who are able to make a living doing this. The students end up like the rabbit chasing the carrot on the stick.
Today of course, we can all bypass educational institutions of all types and access knowledge online - no limitations at all.
Is this reality the biggest source of stress for college campuses now? The realization that, frankly, they simply aren't needed as much now? That they might be likened to those old baseball scouts in "Moneyball?"
Much of the knowledge gained in the liberal arts seems archaic. The Slate article about MSUM warned that "students best get their Romeo and Juliet now, because schools like Moorhead may soon have no department of English, physics or history."
We might put Mozart and Beethoven beside Romeo and Juliet. Such subject matter seems elite/highbrow with its status. But is the status becoming empty and irrelevant? To be blunt, the music of the Beatles reflects as much sophistication and artistic craftsmanship as the so-called "classical" composers.
Why is it that the creations of long ago are treated as so special? There's no rational reason. You can actually argue that Edgar Allan Poe abused the English language. And yet his works are propped up in academia. Many talented and inspired people are at work today, giving us materials that have just as much merit, but we're not supposed to be as awestruck by people doing it today.
OK, people are steadily seeing through those pretensions. The electronic media revolution has been totally liberating and democratizing. Special knowledge is no longer exclusive.
We may already be able to assert we simply don't need college libraries anymore. Ouch. 
The realities are setting in at Moorhead State, that "poster child" in the eyes of Slate. Or St. Cloud State, that school which once prompted amusement with its status as "party college."
No more amusement. No more status quo. No more entitled feeling, based only on the suggested virtues of "higher education."
Higher education is in a jungle now, a jungle in which it must confront the buzzwords of "efficiency" and "consolidation." 
As "Count Floyd" of the old SCTV television show would say: "Brrrr, scary."
Except at the University of Minnesota-Morris. At least not yet. Let's pinch ourselves.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, December 28, 2013

New scandal brings attention to Motown

I blew a dollar on the Star Tribune this morning (Saturday, 12/28) at Willie's. There has to be a special reason for me to do this. Surely we'd see coverage of the bombshell Morris news item today.
Yes, this is one of those occasions where something happening here in Mayberry - I mean, Morris - will get scandal-type attention in the state's main newspaper.
We remember the goalpost incident at UMM, in which a kid got killed. We remember the judge throwing the book at those brothers associated with the local construction company. We remember the Catholic priest whose computer was found to be full of. . .well, you know.
Maybe the current news bombshell will be in Sunday. That's the paper that costs $2.50 now. I wouldn't pay that under any circumstances. The Sunday paper is full of all those advertising circulars. And yet they charge a price that discourages people from buying it. Strange. If I knew what made the newspaper industry tick, I'd still be in it.
The Morris paper is full of ad circulars that push us to spend our disposable income in Alexandria. I know there's discontent about the Morris paper - that's why we have "Morris Area Merchant" as an alternative - but the discontent hasn't spread as much as I would expect.
Today's Morris paper has a headline about the current scandal. I surely won't buy the Morris paper. If "Senior Perspective" can be free of charge, why not the Morris paper?
The radio station website had a more thorough summary of the scandal than the newspaper website. There's no need to buy a newspaper to get informed about the scandal. I'd just be curious how the Star Tribune would approach it, to what degree the coverage would embarrass the community.
I know that when the Riley brothers were sentenced, the Star Tribune surely had coverage that was embarrassing. The headline was "tax cheats defended at home." It was as if we just didn't want to be bothered with following tax laws. Well, nobody wants to follow tax laws. But we just have to.
I don't like the strict enforcement of the seat belt law. The word on the street is that the Morris police have become strict as all get-out enforcing every little thing. I know my heart skips a beat every time I'm out driving and I see a police car. It's not a nice atmosphere in which to live. I'm tempted to just pull over to the curb until the police car is out of sight. But I might be accosted and be asked why I pulled over.
I know if a Morris cop appeared at our front door, I'd immediately lock the door and speak to the person through the window.
We can't even count on the City of Morris to show the spirit of wanting to help the citizenry. Last fall when I informed the city office of a big bloated dead skunk on the south shoulder near Fastenal, they were polite, suggested they weren't sure whose responsibility it was, but would communicate on the matter, and nothing ever happened. Apparently a plow eventually did the job when it was making its usual rounds.
The city could be considerate and apply gravel where you drive upward to get on that highway - the highway in front of Shopko, Pizza Hut and Super 8 etc. When roads get slippery, you have to make a running start to get up on that highway.
The early-morning gang at McDonald's was talking about how you don't dare leave your car running when you dash into a place of business. You'd think here in Mayberry - I mean, Morris - you could dash into a drugstore to leave a prescription bottle needing to be filled, or whatever, but you can't. You can get ticketed, and a cop need only spot you for a second, as a "scofflaw," and you've got a ticket and you have to jump through hoops to pay a fine.
Same with seat belt. Police show no discretion. Sometimes when I'm backing out of a parking spot, I crane my neck out the window a little, and this is easier done with the seat belt not on yet. Again, all it takes is being spotted by a cop for a split second.
Annoying as these tickets are, they're nothing compared to the legal trouble in which our high school principal has found himself. I don't know the man. A new generation is taking over leadership positions in Motown. My only impression of him, has been that he doesn't seem to comb his hair very well for when he gets his picture taken.
Looking at his photo on the radio station website, I now think he looks creepy. Of course that's a pre-judgment. Attorney Robert Dalager is reportedly representing this man. I hope ol' Bob doesn't have to resort to the tactics as used by the Lorne Green character in "Peyton Place."
People can get in so much trouble because of sexual urges. Why did God create us this way? Sex seems more trouble than it's worth sometimes. Maybe we really are a hybrid species, a cross between Earth primates and space aliens, and this explains the mysteries.
Sex and alcohol: What could go wrong? Maybe Mike McFeely of KFGO is right, and maybe the time has come to seriously consider outlawing alcohol.
We are so human an animal. There's a million stories in the naked city. The dead of winter seems a special bummer this year. I'll skip saying "happy new year."
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, December 27, 2013

Back when cars would "chug and cough"

1935 Ford sedan
The ease of motorized transportation has affected our culture, profoundly. We think nothing of making a shopping trip to Alexandria today. Many Morrissites do this.
Many ad circulars with the Morris newspaper point us to Alexandria. Cars are built to be much more durable and reliable today. Oh, but we do love our "classic cars." We'd be barely interested in stepping back in time to when such cars were current.
Certain aspects of the past would be appealing for us. We'd love to cherry-pick those aspects. Maurice Faust wrote warmly about the tapestry of Minnesota life as we once saw it. The Pierz native focused on the mid-1930s through late 1940s.
Faust talked about the miracle of rural electrification. He also wrote about cars and their limitations. He connected some of the challenges to the kind of social bonding we experienced. The relative unreliability of cars promoted a greater degree of social bonding within an area. People needed each other more.
A trip to Alexandria would not have been so routine then. I remember Dwayne Michaelson saying a trip to the Pomme de Terre Lake chain wasn't necessarily routine.
Faust is the author of one of those regional books that can really prove to be a gem. I model much of my own writing after his. He feels it's important to remember past time periods and generations - their trials, triumphs and day-to-day routines. We needn't focus on the major things.
I once bought Faust's book "Remember - No Electricity" as a Christmas gift. The '30s and '40s were when my parents Ralph and Martha were young.
Faust wrote that "the social season for us began after Christmas and went through the first Sunday after New Year's Day." I'm writing this post on December 27.
Life slows down a few notches for all of us. We increase our calorie intake. We travel long distances without any great concern that travel itself will be a problem. The realities of travel were different in the '30s and '40s. Faust wrote:
 
The fact that cars were anything but dependable was always remembered. Heaters were slow, batteries were short-lived, tires were solid from the cold, window defrosters were nonexistent, engines were temperamental, and radiators were apt to erupt in a fit of rebellion.
Cars were not the only concern. Good roads or rather the lack of them also was of concern. Winds that today cause only shallow pillow drifts across a highway, in those days could in a short time render a flat gravel, unimproved township road unusable. Mama always saw to it that we had the old horse blanket in the car in case of an emergency.
Conditions were not good by the standards of today, but keep in mind that when Mama and Papa ventured out with their parents, they went by horse and sleigh.
The fact that people were confined to a small area by lack of mobility had its rewards. Bonding with neighbors was the binding that gave people a sense of belonging and good feeling.
 
Thus we see the classic blend of good and bad that can be associated with an earlier time. Yes, travel was more challenging, but this had the silver lining of bringing us closer to each other.
The nostalgia can be easy to offset by all the grim aspects of that less advanced time. You only need read about the Armistice Day blizzard in Minnesota in 1940. The extent of that tragedy was staggering. It was hard enough that we as a nation were crawling out of the Great Depression. It seemed a less than certain crawl. Jobs were scarce and people didn't have disposable income.
William Hull in his book "All Hell Broke Loose," about that blizzard, wrote "many houses had no central heating system, or storm windows or weather stripping, or even insulation. Some rural areas still had no electricity or telephone service or running water in the house."
Antifreeze was expensive. As winter began to set in, many people opted to use cheaper alcohol in their auto radiators. Weather forecasting was quite inexact. There was no Interstate Highway system. The outerwear of the time - we might forget this - was not scientifically developed to protect us from the elements. Today such outerwear is heat-efficient and water protective.
I find I don't need the standard "winter coat" (i.e. heavy) in winter. What matters is that I wear the right stuff underneath. We are blessed by synthetics and by water resistant hats and jackets.
The Armistice Day of 1940 blizzard dumped a record amount of snow in 24 hours on Minneapolis.
Maurice Faust remembers how the routine Minnesota winter weather affected our habits. The period between Christmas and New Year's was for family and neighborhood. People gathered in card-playing parties. As a party drew to a close, the men attended to their vehicles. Faust writes:
 
The men went out to start the cars and hope the heaters would be productive. Mamas started to bundle up the kids - this could be hard to do because most of the younger ones had already fallen asleep. As the old car chugged and coughed, the stiff oil in the crankcase became less like molasses and the auto more readily responded to the accelerator for more speed.
By the time the machine with its load of family arrived home, most of the young passengers were sawing logs.
 
Sleigh scene from movie
Where Faust recalls the sleigh days, I'm immediately reminded of the movie "The Homecoming," a Christmas movie. It was the successful pilot TV movie that led to "The Waltons" TV series. Successful it was, but it does not seem to get re-run today.
I'm reminded of the scene where the charming and eccentric "Baldwin sisters," bootleggers, help out in the search for the father in the Walton family. We see an appeal to them for some gasoline. Making this appeal is actor Cleavon Little.
Cleavon Little! That name should prompt memories. Little stepped into movie immortality as "Sheriff Bart" in the 1974 Mel Brooks movie "Blazing Saddles," a movie that seemed to make my boomer peers delirious with laughter. I was never quite so enthusiastic about it.
Cleavon Little played "Hawthorne Dooley" in 1971's "The Homecoming." The late actor - he died when he was only 53 - was African-American which is important to know in connection with his movie roles.
"John-Boy" Walton is out searching for his father on Christmas Eve. Mother Olivia, played by Patricia Neal, has heard a radio report of a bus accident. Might her husband have been on board? Might he be searching for transportation to get home? He had left home in search of work in Depression times.
John-Boy searches across Walton's Mountain. The setting is Virginia, 1933. He stops by a church's Nativity play. He manages to borrow a car. He happens upon an African-American church where the affable Hawthorne Dooley (Cleavon Little) befriends him.
They run out of gas. They call upon the Baldwin sisters for help. Cleavon Little humors them for a time, after which he finally asks with some desperation about getting some gasoline.
I found the next scene to be the most striking and touching of the movie. It appears the sisters didn't have gasoline but they surely had transportation. We see the group in transit in a horse-drawn sleigh, gliding over the snow. I had to smile, thinking of how this primitive transportation had come to the rescue, sans any of the headaches associated with motorized transportation of that time, the headaches written about by Faust.
We all remember how John-Boy wanted to be a writer. He somehow felt he needed to be a little reclusive about this. This leads to a scene in "The Homecoming" that is cringeworthy for males. It's so bad, it taints the whole movie. The mother confronts her son, suspicious about what he's doing in his room with the door locked. Oh my. Males have their thoughts turn instantly to a certain type of situation.
Let's call it "self-stimulation" rather than the "m" word.
Patricia Neal in this movie makes a career transition to playing an older type of woman. We need reminding that Neal was the love interest in the 1951 sci-fi classic "The Day the Earth Stood Still."
Alice Faye was another actress who transitioned from a "hot" female to a mother figure, the latter role in "State Fair" (the Pat Boone version).
Cleavon Little had little success after his iconic "Blazing Saddles" role. Was he typecast? Much of the humor came from the idea of an African-American sheriff in the Old West.
"Blazing Saddles" was a reflection of the cynical 1970s. It poked fun at the traditional western.
I'll add here, lest anyone worry, that the Waltons' father arrived home fine in "The Homecoming." The father reported optimism about finding jobs. But from the history I've read, we were far from escaping the Depression in 1933. Anyway, the movie had a happy ending.
The times as recalled by Maurice Faust had their charms, with lively family gatherings at holidaytime. Limited mobility did bring us closer together, without a doubt. The charms were unmistakable. It's probably best we overlook the special challenges and adversity.
My own family (my mom and I) will experience the old-fashioned bonding at our Morris Senior Community Center for New Year's Eve, at evening-time and not at midnight!
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, December 23, 2013

GBB Tigers win decisively over Paynesville

Tigers 62, Paynesville 36
The MACA girls can feel upbeat going into the holiday break. The Tigers crept over .500 with their success on Friday, Dec. 20. It was the second straight night for a home game.
The 12/20 outcome was a 62-36 win over Paynesville. Coach Dale Henrich had a lot to smile about, not to mention the parents and fans.
The second half really told the story. MACA executed a well-designed attack in the second half, outscoring the stunned visitor 38-13. The halftime score was 24-23. The Tigers close out the 2013 phase of the schedule with a won-lost mark of 4-3 (3-1 in conference).
The Tigers were economical and effective from 3-point range. They made three of six such shots with Rebekah Aanerud having two of the makes, Becca Holland the other.
Lacee Maanum and Abbie Olson each had seven rebounds. Lauren Reimers and Beth Holland each had seven assists. Aanerud and Beth Holland each had two steals.
The Tigers were 26 of 60 in total field goals. In freethrows: seven of eleven.
Many Tigers made the scoring list led by Beth Holland with 12 points. Becca Holland put in nine followed by Aanerud with eight and these three Tigers each with six: Maanum, Olson and Moira McNally. Liz Tiernan and Kayla Pring each scored four, Reimers had three and Kaitlin Vogel two.
(Note: These individual totals add up to 60 points rather than 62, but that's how it was reported in the Willmar newspaper. Also, why does that paper bother trying to abbreviate the names of "Beth" and "Becca" for the Holland sisters? They use "Bec." for Becca and "Bet." for Beth. Why not just use the full first names?)
Paynesville laid bricks from 3-point range, making just three of 17 shots. In total field goals the green-clad Bulldogs made 15 of 56. Only one Bulldog scored in double figures: Taylor Burg with ten. Burg made a '3' along with Rian Lee and Kayla Schaefer.
Lee and Katelyn Spanier led Paynesville in rebounds with eight and six, respectively. Schaefer had three assists. Emma Stevens had four steals for the green cause. The Bulldogs were nine of 17 in freethrows.
Morris Area Chokio Alberta will resume action on January 3 at Milbank SD.
I have a Christmas-themed post on my "Morris of Course" site and I invite you to read by clicking on the permalink below. Merry Christmas.
  
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Right wingers speak for Christianity again

We will be attending church at First Lutheran on Christmas Eve. Will the Christmas of 2013 be remembered as the "Duck Dynasty" Christmas?
People who make their living in religion must be cringing. Already it was known that Christianity had an uneasy relationship with the "hard right" of politics. An author on C-Span spoke about this once. People on the hard right of politics claim they speak for Christianity, that they have to fight for Christianity. They are entitled to their beliefs, naturally. They make so much noise, people who don't know better might think it's true.
There is a consequence for the mainstream religious faiths.
The speaker on C-Span talked about the "nones": the people who just don't incorporate church into their lives. They check the "none" box when asked about religious denomination. They aren't adamant about this non-practice. They just don't work church into their lives. It's very easy to do, to organize your life in such a way.
And for the younger generation, there is an aspect of faith that disillusions many of them. And, that aspect is the public perception of church-going and Christianity as being connected to the right wing of politics. The C-Span speaker talked about "people on the ground" in religion, i.e. the people who make their living in this field, being concerned about the alienating effect. They depend on numbers and enthusiasm of course.
People on the political right are unyielding on this matter. They are quite convinced of the virtue of their positions. They detest those who might disagree with their politics. They seem even to detest those who might express indifference. The concern of religious professionals is made more urgent by the "Duck Dynasty" matter.
Political conservatives see the "Duck Dynasty" family as reflecting their beliefs and values.
First of all, it's just a TV program. It's an entertainment product. I have never watched it, but am aware that it seems a cultural phenomenon. I was aware that it appealed to the Sarah Palin types. These people quote the Bible. You can quote the Bible to support just about any opinion you want.
The circle of the show's defenders claim they stand for Christianity, that they are defending Christianity. The media have been passive and seemed to allow this frame of reference to develop.
"Duck Dynasty" is Bible-oriented. It fights for purported Christian values. I think it's more a reminder of the Mason-Dixon Line. It tells us that many Southern white people remain fundamentally different from the rest of us.
Why have we gotten so attracted to the culture of losers? The South lost. It lost in the Civil War and has lost in the cultural battles since. How did the Dixiecrats turn out? Or, the Alabama governor "standing in the schoolhouse door?"
"Duck Dynasty" reflects a culture so regressive, it needs gimmicks, like the men's beards, to get attention. "Duck Dynasty" may be a curiosity like zoo animals.
But the show has inspired a breathless political discussion that takes up much cable TV news time. We are now supposed to weigh the ideas of the TV show's patriarch. (I get the impression that your average Civil War re-enactment is less staged than "Duck Dynasty.")
Because of a stupid magazine interview, we're supposedly in some sort of serious cultural clash now. It's a clash with the winner already decided.
Phil Robertson says black people were happier in the pre-civil rights (movement) days. Do we even need to have a discussion about this? We're really talking about the merits of the Jim Crow days?
As for the gay lifestyle, a typical libertarian young person would say "it doesn't matter how I feel about it, people should just have their freedoms."
The battle over Jim Crow was concluded long ago. Gay rights is a more recent phenomenon.
Fox News champions "Duck Dynasty" because of vague notions about traditional values. Such values can be translated to "regressive" or any other such term (like "loser").
The people on cable TV news had a field day last week. They must have been snickering when the cameras were off. They like the ripe subject matter, which had the ideologues pushing all the usual buttons. But they must have been worried, too, that the public would begin collectively shaking its head. Shaking its head over the absurdity of the topic.
The wisdom of Jim Crow in the year 2013? Maybe God will punish us for even taking the subject seriously.
"Duck Dynasty" entertains the bored public by being a novelty. All entertainment products reflect a formula. It's certainly true for cable TV news. Entertainment pros know that extremes attract attention. This can be dangerous as we are now seeing with this curious "Duck Dynasty" controversy.
Controversy! The TV execs love it. But there's a very serious danger for our culture (I mean our normal, non-Deep South culture) to allow "Duck Dynasty" to speak for the Christian faith. The mainstream Christian denominations already had a concern with this sort of thing. The current controversy inflames.
I will attend church on Christmas Eve trying not to devote a thought to the right wingers who are trying to speak for me.
There are even "liberals" who are Christians. Pay attention to the new Catholic Pope.
  
In summation re. "Duck Dynasty": Now that I can crystallize my thoughts, my main conclusion on "Duck Dynasty" is that it's the East Coast media elite's conception of what us people are like out in America's heartland. It's a caricature and ought to make us pull our hair out.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, December 20, 2013

MACA girls edged by Litch in OT

Prep basketball is winding down as Christmas approaches. This post focuses on the MACA girls' Thursday game at home.
You can click on the permalink below to read about the MACA boys' game against New London-Spicer on Tuesday, 12/17. This post is on my companion website, "Morris of Course." It includes photos of Jordan Arbach and Andrew Goulet, taken during the Saturday game (12/14) vs. Ortonville. Thanks for reading. - B.W.
  
Girls: Litchfield 50, Tigers 48
The MACA girls own a 3-3 record with one game left before Christmas. They were hoping to build their mark to 4-2, but Thursday's fortunes were not in their favor. The game went into overtime.
The visiting Litchfield Dragons outscored the Tigers 6-4 in overtime. Thus the Tigers were dealt a heartbreaker.
Coach Dale Henrich's orange and black crew was denied in the 50-48 final. Litch came out of the night at 3-2.
The Tigers trailed 21-19 at halftime but outscored the Dragons 25-23 in the second half. Fans dealt with the suspense of overtime. It wasn't the Tigers' night.
Hannah Norlin was a Dragon breathing some fire as she put in 22 points. Macy Huhner scored nine followed by Kyndra Beavers and Mariah Hoff each with six. Kelsey Wattenhofer scored four points and Breanna Sittig three.
Beavers, Hoff and Huhner each made a three-pointer.
The Tigers would have won had they been a bit better in 3-pointers. They were cold, making one of six shots with Becca Holland having the success. The Tigers were 20 of 63 in total field goals, and seven of 19 in freethrows.
Abbie Olson led in rebounds with seven. Lauren Reimers led in assists with six, and Becca Holland was tops in steals with five.
Reimers was the top Morris Area Chokio Alberta scorer with 14 points. She was joined in double figures by Beth Holland who put in eleven. Becca Holland, Lacee Maanum and Olson each scored seven points, and Moira McNally put in two.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A St. Lucia's Day feast in Morris

You don't have to wait until Christmas to have a true celebration of the season. The Sons of Norway lodge in Morris celebrated "St. Lucia's" on December 14.
It's not really an outgrowth of Christmas. It has more to do with recognizing the minimal sunlight we get this time of year.
St. Lucia's Day is one of the few saint days observed in Scandinavia.
St. Lucia is one of the few saints celebrated by the overwhelmingly Lutheran Nordic people - those Norwegians, Swedes, Danes and Finns. (Let's not forget the Finns.)
Yours truly is half Norwegian and half Swedish.
St. Lucia was a Christian martyr. She was killed in A.D. 304 by the Romans because of her religious beliefs.
Our Morris area Sons of Norway gathered at a private home for the observance: the home of Gary Eidsvold on East 3rd Street. The Eidsvold name is prominent in Morris history. The family ran a distributing company which is now in Alexandria, now known as Henry's Foods. It was Henry's Candy Company here. We once saw those little orange trucks out and about with "Henry's Candy Co." on the side.
Katie Ohren played the role of Lucia in the evening's festivities. Claire Reed was the maiden and Ellen Reed the junior Lucia. Everyone joined in the singing of seasonal music. Deb Mahoney played the piano and Corrine Knochenmus sang a solo.
The Lucia Song was performed for the processional and repeated for the recessional. Marilyn Syverson, Norskfodt Lodge president, presided for the closing and table grace. Marilyn's name is synonymous with Norwegian pride in Morris.
Finally everyone joined in socializing and feasting. Gary put together quite a spread.
Let's explore this Nordic tradition: "St. Lucy" enters as a young woman with lights and sweets. She wears a crown of candles or lights and is followed by a procession of girls each holding a single candle. They are adorned in white robes and red sashes. It's a striking scene.
Some elements of St. Lucia's predate the adoption of Christianity in Scandinavia.
Science didn't have an answer for lots of things in ancient times. Imagine you're noticing the daylight steadily diminishing until this reaches its peak in mid-December. It might be frightful. Superstition and ritual took hold.
The pre-Christian holiday of Yule was the most important holiday in Scandinavia and northern Europe. Originally the idea was to mark the Winter Solstice and "re-birth of the sun."
I have often heard atheists connected to the Winter Solstice, I suppose as an alternative to Christmas.
I remember listening to a Christian radio voice once who said Christmas started as a pagan holiday anyway. This was in the 1970s when I was in a band that took long car trips. This radio voice was Garner Ted Armstrong. We learned that Mr. Armstrong and his father Herbert W. had built one of those powerful religious organizations that had its own magazine.
The old "holiday of Yule" saw various practices developed that remain in the Advent and in Christmas celebrations today. The Yule season was a time of feasting, drinking and gift-giving. But there was a troublesome sign: awareness and fear of the forces of the dark.
Darkness certainly presided as the Norskfodt members arrived at the Eidsvold residence. Some might say "you can cut the darkness with a knife." Darkness prevails as I write this post at around 5 a.m. We have a nice blanket of snow for the holiday season.
I'm intrigued at how the Norwegians developed the tradition. I'm half Norwegian so I should be aware of "Lussinatten," the longest night of the year. From then until Christmas, spirits, gnomes and trolls roamed (roam?) the earth. Far out! Oh, the "Lussi," a feared enchantress, punished anyone who dared work! Kind of a reflection of the Grimm Fairy Tales. The Norse people built bonfires to try to scare off evil spirits.
Let's go on: Legend has it that farm animals talked to each other on Lussinatten. Animals were given additional feed on this longest night. Such folklore grew in the Nordic countries due to the extreme change in daylight hours between seasons in this region.
We can thank a newspaper (my old profession, considered in decline now) for establishing a modern tradition of St. Lucia processions. A newspaper in Stockholm, Sweden, elected an official Lucia for Stockholm in 1927.
Today most cities in Sweden appoint a Lucia every year. Schools elect a Lucia and her maids, and a national Lucia is elected on TV from regional winners. The regional winners visit shopping malls, nursing homes and churches, singing and handing out gingernut cookies. The Lucia procession in Stockholm is the biggest in the world.
Some roles have been found for boys, like dressing up as gingerbread men. (Oh, come on.)
Popular as St. Lucia's Day is in Sweden, it's not an official holiday. College students hold big formal dinner parties.
The story of St. Lucia was recited at the Norskfodt gathering here in Morris. (The turnout was good so the atmosphere was a little crowded, but that's fine.) The celebrants sang carols of the season, making clear that St. Lucia's is more than a Solstice-related ritual, it's woven in with Christmas.
The printed program for the event used the alternative spelling "Sankta Lucia."
The tradition is part of the Nordic folklore (and even religiosity) centered on the annual struggle between light and darkness. Nordic countries notice the extreme change in daylight hours between seasons. Beware those "forces of the dark." You've heard of "seasonal affective disorder?"
 
Remembering Lyman and Joe
The previous time I had visited the Eidsvold house, it was to interview Joe Robbie who was a close friend and associate of the elder Eidsvolds. Robbie was owner of the Miami Dolphins of the NFL, and built a stadium in Miami with his own money! We should be so fortunate here in Minnesota. The stadium bore Robbie's name but has since been re-named Sun Life Stadium.
Lyman Eidsvold's wife was excited to tell Mr. Robbie that my father Ralph once directed the Apollo Club male chorus in Minneapolis. Dad once told me he worked with Tony Bennett in putting on some big type of show at Metropolitan Stadium in the pre-Twins days.
It was from Mr. Robbie that I learned the term "loss leader" (from the business world). He and Lyman had once been active in lobbying (as I remember) on the matter.
"Cigarettes were being sold as a loss leader," he told me.
"Loss leader" is a pricing strategy where a product is sold at a price below market cost to stimulate sales of more profitable goods or services. A loss leader might be placed in an inconvenient part of the store, so customers walk past. Often it's an item that people buy often, thus they know it's a bargain.
A retailer might limit how much of this you can buy. Loss leader examples might be milk, eggs or rice, or as Eidsvold and Robbie surveyed the situation: cigarettes.
High-end products might even be loss leaders. These are offered below profit margin to enhance the business' prestige to attract "lookers," who then may buy less expensive but more profitable stuff. (Clever people, those businessmen.)
Would you believe the Corvette car in the 1950s was a loss leader for General Motors? It was an image-builder. Men (especially) would go to the showrooms and end up buying a lower-cost model.
Joe Robbie died in 1990 and his wife Elizabeth not long after. Sadly, the aftermath saw the mother of all estate battles involving the couple's nine children. Estate battles are incredibly sad, just as sad as the spirits, gnomes and trolls roaming the earth for Norway's "Lussinatten."
"Lussi," that intimidating enchantress, punished anyone who dared work. So kick back, everyone, and enjoy those complimentary Tom and Jerrys on Christmas Eve afternoon, like I used to, at the Met Lounge in Morris. (I'm more of a homebody now, perhaps just getting older!)
 
Addendum: Penthouse Magazine reported in the mid-1970s that Garner Ted Armstrong "provided late-night companionship for thousands of truckers, was the voice of the morning for millions of farmers, and the living room preacher to a subculture of lonely, frightened and disoriented Americans." I'm not sure how to take that.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Victory eludes boys in Saturday home game

Noah Grove goes in for a layup vs. Ortonville. (B.W. photos)
Bryce Jergenson advances the ball for MACA.
Ortonville 65, Tigers 58
James Nitz and Jacob Hamann were a 1-2 punch for the Ortonville Trojans Saturday (12/14). That was bad news for our Morris Area Chokio Alberta Tigers.
The MACA boys hosted Ortonville and hoped this night would bring victory No. 1 of the season. Instead it was Ortonville showing the winning flair. Nitz scored 23 points and Hamann put in 22. Ortonville downed the Tigers 65-58.
Ortonville sports a winning record thus far. Meanwhile the Tigers are falling into a hole, and they came out of Saturday at 0-6.
The Saturday game actually had a fair amount of excitement for MACA fans. They saw their team surge after getting down early. Ortonville shot out in front 16-3, delighting the Ortonville fans including Jon Fellows, son of the late Don Fellows, MAHS counselor.
MACA surged to actually take the lead early in the second half. The Tigers couldn't keep pace with a hot freethrow shooting hand displayed by the Trojans. Freethrows were a weapon helping the Trojans achieve their win No. 4 of the season. The Trojans made 22 of 28 attempts from the line. They were only one of eight in 3-pointers with Noah Kottke having the success.
Ortonville made 21 of 44 total field goal attempts.
Nitz and Hamann were followed in scoring by Kottke with nine, Riley Thompson with six and Britton Conroy with five.
Nitz and Thompson finished with nine and eight rebounds, respectively. Thompson blocked three shots.
The Tigers outdid Ortonville in 3's, making six of 14 shots from that distance. Eric Staebler had three of the long-range makes and he was followed by Noah Grove with two and Jacob Zosel with one. In freethrows the Tigers made six of seven.
Eric Staebler and Noah Grove topped the MACA scoring list with 17 and 16 points, respectively. Zosel put in seven points followed by Jordan Arbach with six and Ian Howden with four. These four Tigers each scored two points: Bryce Jergenson, Riley Biesterfeld, Andrew Goulet and Nic Solvie. The Tigers made 23 of 57 field goal attempts.
Staebler led in rebounds with nine while Grove collected five. Grove led in assists with four followed by Howden and Jergenson each with three. Howden picked up three steals and Staebler had two blocked shots.
The MAHS band concert Monday evening was terrific. The only thing that puzzled me was why the rhythm section was positioned so far from the other instrumentalists for the first portion of the concert. It seemed the two groups were a little out of sync with each other. The choice of those "Peanuts" tunes was terrific, though.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, December 14, 2013

MACA girls own 2-2 record, boys struggling

Girls hoops: Monte 55, Tigers 49
The MACA girls let a prime opportunity for a win slip away Friday (12/13) at Montevideo.
Victory was well within grasp in the closing stages of regulation. The Tigers led 42-37. Jessie Janisch infused momentum for the Thunder Hawks. She made a couple baskets, plus there was a critical make from the top of the key by Ashley Hoehne. Hoehne's make was a buzzer-beater.
Monte had bought more time by forcing a tie and regrouping for overtime. The score at the end of regulation was 44-all. Bring on overtime (groan)! 
Monte had the feeling of "mo" for the start of OT and that wouldn't change. The T-Hawks outscored the Tigers 11-5 in overtime to get the win, 55-49.
It really hurt that MACA had a rough night in 3-pointers. One more success in this department and MACA would have come home victorious. But the Tigers were one of eleven with Nicole Strobel having the make. (The Willmar newspaper spelled her name "Stroebel.")
Beth Holland topped the MACA scoring list with 21 points. There was one other double figures scorer: Lauren Reimers with ten. Strobel and Abby Olson each put in five points. Kaitlin Vogel scored four followed by Becca Holland and Lacee Maanum each with two. (The Willmar paper spelled Lacee's name "Lacy.")
Vogel worked the boards for a team-best six rebounds. The Holland sisters - Beth and Becca - each had five rebounds as did Strobel and Olson. Reimers picked up five assists and Becca Holland had four. Reimers was aggressive to get seven steals.
The Tigers made 19 total field goals in 64 attempts. The freethrow numbers: 10 of 24.
Hoehne topped the Monte scoring list with her 21 points. Hoehne's late dramatic '3' came on her only such attempt of the night. Nicole Erickson had Monte's other 3-pointer.
Hoehne led Monte's rebounding with seven and also picked up four steals. The second half saw the Tigers outscore Monte 27-22. The MACA girls entered the weekend at .500: 2-2.
 
Girls: Tigers 72, 'Waska 47
The MACA girls treated home gym fans to a 72-47 win on Tuesday, Dec. 10. It was win No. 2 of the season and it came vs. Minnewaska Area.
The squad is adjusting to the unfortunate injury suffered by Tracy Meichsner, starting wing player. Junior Meichsner is no-go for the rest of the season. The injury is to her left knee. Last season the problem was the right knee for this talented Tiger. Hopefully the rehabilitation measures can get everything back in order.
For the time being, the Tigers are adjusting, and this they did quite fine on Tuesday as they shot over 50 per cent from the field. Shooting sparingly from 3-point range - just two attempts - coach Dale Henrich's squad made 29 of 56 field goal tries.
Lauren Reimers made a 3-pointer. The Tigers led 39-20 at halftime.
In freethrows the Tigers made 13 of 20 shots. Abbie Olson and Liz Tiernan each grabbed seven rebounds followed by Reimers with five. Beth Holland dished out five assists.
Kaitlin Vogel stole the ball four times.
On to scoring: Here it was Olson setting the pace with her 18 points. Also achieving double figures were Reimers with 12 and Becca Holland with ten.
Beth Holland scored eight followed by Tiernan with seven and these three Tigers each with four: Nicole Strobel, Lacee Maanum and Vogel. Moira McNally added three points to the mix and Sam Henrichs two.
The Tigers overcame the hot hand of Carley Stewart of the Lakers who had 19 points. Madison Phillips put in eight points for the Lakers, and Ashlyn Guggisberg seven. Phillips made two 3-point shots.
'Waska came out of this game at 1-3 in won-lost.
 
Boys basketball: Sauk Centre 64, Tigers 61
The Tigers played a close game in boys hoops Thursday night (12/12) at home. The Streeters of Sauk Centre were in town.
Coach Mark Torgerson's Tiger squad challenged the Streeters well but couldn't achieve their first win. The Tigers came within three. Josh Buschette put in 21 points for the visitor who prevailed in the 64-61 final. Buschette complemented his point total with four assists and three steals.
Coming within three points was heartening for Morris Area Chokio Alberta fans, as this was versus a team that had yet to lose this season. Sauk Centre came out of the night at 6-0 in overall, 2-0 in conference.
MACA enters the weekend still in search of win No. 1, but there's an opportunity to get that tonight (Saturday) vs. Ortonville, here. At the time of this post, the Tigers are 0-5.
Buschette was Sauk's top scorer Thursday but it was Matthew Moritz who may have made the most clutch shot. Moritz deflated the Tiger hopes by making a three-pointer with under a minute left. Sauk Centre had garnered the lead for good.
Less than a minute earlier, Riley Biesterfeld made a pair of freethrows that actually gave MACA the lead. Against an undefeated team!
But the upset hopes would be dashed by the poised Moritz, who made two 3-pointers on the night. Buschette made three long-rangers, while Seth Otte and Andrew Primus each made one. Moritz finished with ten points.
Sauk appeared to be cruising through a portion of the second half as they led by as many as 16 points. They would have to work and sweat to put this one away.
It was another glowing night for the sophomore post player of the Tigers, Eric Staebler. Eric's contributions on this night included 25 points (game-high) and 14 rebounds. Staebler has had special statistical impact in most of the Tigers' games thus far.
Noah Grove made three 3-pointers and Bryce Jergenson made one. As a team the Tigers were four of 13 in 3's, and 21 of 50 overall. But their most precise numbers were in freethrows: 15 of 16!
Staebler, Grove and Jergenson led in scoring with 25, 15 and 11 points, respectively. These Tigers each added two points to the mix: Trent Wulf, Biesterfeld, Jacob Zosel, Andrew Goulet and Nic Solvie.
Staebler's 14 rebounds put him way atop the list. Jergenson picked up five boards.
Goulet topped the assist list with five. Jergenson and Staebler each picked up three steals, and Grove blocked two shots.
 
Boys: Melrose 74, Tigers 60
The MACA boys made the trip along I-94 to play the Melrose Dutchmen on Tuesday, Dec. 10. The Tigers hung in there through halftime.
Trailing by just two at the halfway mark, 36-34, the Tigers unfortunately couldn't make headway in the second half, despite the standout play of Eric Staebler and Noah Grove. Staebler finished the night with 27 points and completed a double-double with 13 rebounds. Grove got hot for 19 points, but in the end the Tigers lost this game to the Dutchmen, 74-60.
Melrose outscored the Tigers in the second half, 38-26.
The Dutchmen pulled away on the scoreboard thanks largely to 3-pointers. They made eight such shots in the second half. Melrose looked quite in the groove shooting from long-range the whole game. Indeed they looked comfortable on their home court, making 13 total 3's in 26 attempts for a percentage that even I can figure in an instant: 50 per cent.
Melrose was 28 of 57 in total field goals and five of six in freethrows.
Seth Noll, a familiar name from football, poured in 32 points for the host. Ben Klaphake scored 18 points and Nathan Goebel 11. Klaphake made six of the 3's while Noll made four and Cole Van Beck three.
Staebler and Grove were followed on the MACA scoring list by Bryce Jergenson with four and these Tigers each with two: Ian Howden, Trent Wulf, Jordan Arbach, C.J. Nagel and Andew Goulet.
Noah Grove made all four of the MACA three-pointers. The Tigers had 26 total field goals and were four of 12 in freethrows. Staebler cleaned the boards for 13 rebounds. Jergenson deftly passed for five assists.
Melrose got into the win column with this success.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, so things will slow down soon, at least a little.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"Hometowners" come back for the holidays

'Tis the season to forget people's names. Holidaytime means many Morris natives are back to visit. You might see them at holiday-themed events.
Those of us who are still Morris residents have our memory tested. Boomer-age natives come back to Motown to spend precious time with family. There were so many of us. The high school only included grades 10 through 12 because there wasn't room for any more. The sophomores were the young ones who could get picked on a little.
This time of year, you can be at church and notice old acquaintances who you might not have seen in a long time. They'll befriend you and assume you can place them. Their cheery chit-chat is welcome, especially so if you can actually remember who they are.
The gap in time is getting rather wide for us boomers. Many of us have acquired additional pounds around the middle. Hair may have receded.
I was befriended by an old female peer at the Senior Citizens Christmas Bazaar. In this case, I couldn't place her even when she told me her first name. I didn't know her real well in high school, so I might be excused. But there was a tinge of awkwardness. I have gotten to know her mother well through the years.
Actually there are numerous parents of my old peers who I didn't know at all when I was in high school, but with whom I have gotten close in the years since. It's beneficial for young people to get to know middle-aged adults. Most of these parents were faceless to me when I was young, and that's a shame.
I have seen other commentary on the web, like on Minnpost, suggesting young people would benefit having more exposure to adults, rather than being around each other all the time. Since when does anyone think kids mature at an acceptable rate when stuck among themselves? I would argue quite the opposite happens.
Boomers try to erase their memory about this. We were engaged in so much ridiculous and self-destructive behavior. The drinking age got lowered - that certainly didn't help. Our environment was more cynical. We all knew the nation had been hurt badly by the Viet Nam War. We were stung by economic inflation.
To get a taste of those times, watch any of the "Smokey and the Bandit" movies, movies that mocked authority figures and portrayed certain kinds of lawbreaking as cute. I remember reading an op-ed that expressed anger about Jackie Gleason, a very talented man, even accepting the role of sheriff in those movies.
The Clint Eastwood movie "Bronco Billy" had a sheriff character in the same mold - a narrow, pathetic, pot-bellied man who sought to abuse a Viet Nam War draft dodger. We have since elected draft dodgers to high office in America. Under Jimmy Carter we passed amnesty for those who had literally fled America to avoid war obligations. I once interviewed a principal of Cyrus High School, initials S.B., who told me his whole story about this. He went to Australia.
Us boomers had too much time on our hands. We were so teeming in numbers. But the activities available to us were far less. Ironic and sad. Organized girls sports were just getting started. It would be some time before girls could feel fully in the mainstream with their athletic pursuits.
The first girls basketball teams were challenged just mastering the fundamentals. I remember a referee, now deceased, saying "You have to call traveling every time. You have to, otherwise they'll never learn."
Hockey! Hockey took much longer to get into the mainstream. We of course needed an indoor arena. Prior to that, hockey could never get off the ground as a full-fledged sports option. Oh, it was organized, but it kept a "sandlot" quality until finally the Lee Center was built. Now we all take it for granted.
As someone who covered hockey for the media at the less-formal level, I do not take it for granted.
When I was in high school, there was still an expectation that girls would gravitate to "home ec." I don't hear the term "home ec" anymore. I remember interviewing a girl in Hancock who had gotten elected to a high office in FHA (Future Homemakers of America).
Oh my God, Morris didn't have an FFA chapter when I was in high school! Can you imagine that? Today it's one of the most visible school programs. It maybe gets more community support than any other MAHS program. But when I was in high school, nada. There were more farm families scattered around the area then, in the age before consolidation and "efficiencies" took over.
We grew up in a time with none of the electronic gadgets that are ubiquitous today. How did we get by? Somehow we did. And, we all learned to get along or at least co-exist with each other, even though we realized that many in our midst - maybe even me - had special challenges which today would get special attention, as with "behavior meds" or "alternative school."
  
We had to get along
Boomers grew up when kids were more or less thrown together and expected to progress together. Yes, it was with fits and starts. Bullying existed and society didn't really fight it. Parents didn't expect perfection from their kids. Seat belts were totally optional.
Neanderthal times? I really don't think so.
I hope I can keep remembering the names of my old boomer peers, as they "come back home" for the Christmas holidays of 2013. If I falter, just help me out a little. 
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, December 9, 2013

Sophomore makes presence felt in loss

Benson 49, Tigers 40
Eric Staebler, sophomore center for the Tigers, had his moments Friday night in the game against Benson. Staebler put in 15 points and snared 19 rebounds, but the MACA cause got dragged down by sub-par shooting.
The scoreboard outcome was a 49-40 loss for coach Mark Torgerson's Tigers. 
Is this shaping up as a re-building year? MACA has found the going rough vs. all three foes to date.
A long winter lies ahead. But MACA will have to try to find a little more firepower. A shooting percentage of 28 isn't going to cut it. That's what the orange and black cause posted against Benson. The made/attempts figures were 13 of 45. The three-point shooting story was one of woe: one of eight. Staebler connected on the only make. He was the rebound leader with his 19.
In freethrow shooting the Tigers made 13 of 18. They were whistled for 21 fouls.
Staebler with his 15 points was followed by Noah Grove and his eleven. There's a dropoff after that. Bryce Jergenson and Jordan Arbach each scored three points, and Riley Biesterfeld, Jacob Zosel, Andrew Goulet and Nic Solvie each scored two.
The Benson scoring attack had Aaron Ahrndt, junior guard, in a prime role. Ahrndt made three of his team's four 3-pointers. Zach Maurer made the other.
Ahrndt and Jacob Goff shared team-best scoring honors, each with 15 points. Maurer put in 13 points. Goff was the top Brave rebounder with nine.
Maurer and Christian Larson each dished out four assists. The Maurer/Larson duo was tops in steals too, each with four.
The Braves shot 18 of 47 in total field goals, and were nine of 23 at the freethrow line.
The Tigers trailed by just one point at halftime, 21-20, so that's heartening for MACA fans. Oh my, the Tigers are 0-3. The loss to Benson was at the home gym.
  
Montevideo 80, Tigers 36
Tuesday night, Dec. 3, was grim for the Morris Area Chokio Alberta boys basketball team. Jordan Thompson had a lot to do with that. Jordan plays for the Montevideo Thunder Hawks.
This game was the conference opener for coach Mark Torgerson's Tigers. It was the second game overall, and neither resulted in victory for the orange and black. "Grim" is the descriptive term, as the scoreboard gap for each game was wide.
On Tuesday the Tigers fell in the 80-36 final.
Monte came out of the night at 2-0 and 1-0 in conference.
The scoreboard gap was wide by halftime. Thompson and his T-Hawk mates led 46-19 at the halfway mark. They delighted their home gym fans.
How potent was Jordan Thompson? He was lethal from three-point range, making eight of these shots on the night. His point total for the night was 26.
Thompson wasn't the only Thunder Hawk looking comfortable from beyond the 3-point stripe. As a team the T-Hawks were 13 of 23. Adam Killbarda and Troy Diggins each made two long-rangers, and Jimmy Haff had one.
In total field goals the T-Hawks were 30 of 51, and in freethrows seven of ten.
Spencer Hildahl led Monte in rebounds with five. Diggins topped the assist list with seven. Dazhown Coleman had seven steals.
On to the MACA data: The 3-point shooting numbers were a cool three-for-13. Not so in freethrows where the Tigers made all but one of their eight attempts.
Noah Grove made two of the 3's, and Eric Staebler had the other. CJ Nagel led in rebounds with six. Grove and Staebler each had two assists.
Grove's 15 points put him atop the scoring list. Staebler joined him in double figures with his ten. Nagel finished with six, Bryce Jergenson four and Ian Howden one.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, December 6, 2013

MACA girls start out new season 1-1

Tigers 64, WHN 46
The curtain opened for Morris Area Chokio Alberta girls basketball on Tuesday, Dec. 3. It opened with coach Dale Henrich's squad looking very impressive.
The site was Wheaton. The Tigers won their debut game impressively, 64-46 over Wheaton-Herman-Norcross.
Beth Holland made a three-point shot and finished with a team-best 22 points. Lauren Reimers and Abbie Olson each put in 12 points. Becca Holland added eight points to the mix, and the following Tigers each scored two points: Tracy Meichsner, Nicole Strobel, Moira McNally, Kayla Pring and Kaitlin Vogel.
Meichsner attacked the boards to collect eight rebounds. Becca Holland pulled down six rebounds. The assist leader was Becca with five, followed by Reimers with four and these three Tigers each with three: Meichsner, Strobel and Vogel.
Reimers was aggressive with her play, collecting eight steals. Beth Holland, Becca Holland and Vogel each had two steals.
Beth Holland's 3-pointer came on the team's only attempt of the evening! In total field goals the squad made 28 of 65 shots. The freethrow numbers were seven of 19. The Tigers collected 38 rebounds and were whistled for 12 fouls.
  
Osakis 59, Tigers 34
Thursday was home opener night for MACA girls basketball.
The Tigers were coming off an impressive debut win over Wheaton-Herman-Norcross. Unfortunately for MACA, Thursday would not be a repeat. The Silver Streaks of Osakis - a neat nickname - came here and defeated our Tigers 59-34. Osakis had command by halftime, up 31-16.
The Tigers have been conservative with their three-point shooting but there's no problem with their percentage. Against WHN the numbers were one-for-one, and against Osakis they were one-for-two. Beth Holland made the '3' against WHN, and Lauren Reimers hit the long-ranger versus Osakis.
Reimers' nine total points vs. Osakis led the team. Becca Holland put in eight points and Lacee Maanum had four. Becca Holland, Tracy Meichsner and Kayla Pring each scored three. Beth Holland and Abbie Olson each contributed two points.
Becca's five rebounds led the squad. Beth Holland and Meichsner each had two assists. Reimers stole the ball three times.
The top Silver Streak scorer was Johanna Boogaard with 14 points. Annalise Savageau reached double figures with her ten. Savageau, Mackenzie Staloch and Brooke Sorenson each made a 3-pointer.
Coach Henrich's MACA squad will host Minnewaska Area on Tuesday, Dec. 10.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Background check was needed for "Northstar"

I was sitting in the DeToy's dining room Sunday when I heard the topic broached of that controversial print publication associated with UMM. I heard a man say it's a publication from UMM.
That's a problem. You can't blame the man for making such a judgment. To an extent, "Northstar" is from UMM. I guess it's a student publication. It is not the voice of UMM, however.
The manager of our community newspaper has now been backed into a corner and forced to explain things. This individual has allowed the "Northstar" to be inserted with the Morris Sun Tribune more than once. The column she wrote for Saturday should have been written earlier, after the so-called Halloween issue of Northstar. Surely we knew all we needed to, at that time, about problems associated with the tasteless and most likely libelous "campus" publication.
But no.
Another issue came out and was circulated among the area citizenry. Yes, many people no longer acquire the Morris newspaper. But it's still a presence.
We learn from the newspaper manager - I don't call her "publisher" - that two individuals came forward wanting to make arrangements having the Northstar in with the Morris newspaper. One was Joe Basel.
Joe Basel? Joe Basel? Are you not all familiar with this individual's background? Should there not, in fact, have been a "background check?"
 
Not so harmless
Basel has run afoul of the law rather seriously because of his political or faux political zeal or whatever you want to call it.
The people we're talking about here are extreme libertarians. But I would suggest it's more of a game to them, maybe just a game to get attention or to keep from being bored. I can't blame people for doing the latter sometimes.
So, do you remember Joe Basel? He and three associates were busted by the FBI before they could do any harm. I wrote a blog post at the time titled "Three Stooges and an alternate." The four men pleaded guilty to entering Federal property under false pretenses. This almost sounds like a pratfall: Basel and Robert Flanagan dressed up like telephone repairmen.
The idea was to penetrate U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu's office to secretly record office staff conversations. This office is inside the Hale Boggs Federal Building in New Orleans. The perpetrators were going to orchestrate a conversation about phone calls, and of course shoot video surreptitiously.
Basel and Flanagan were joined in this scheme by Stan Dai and the well-known James O'Keefe, the latter serving as ringleader. In case your memory needs more prodding, O'Keefe was the fake pimp who with a female accomplice engaged in the same kind of activity to try to take down ACORN.
Senator Landrieu was targeted in an effort to mess with her phones. It's one thing to think about or fantasize sneaking around in a repairman's "costume," but to actually do it? And do it in a mischievous way toward a U.S. Senator?
This is the type of person who was able to approach our Morris Sun Tribune manager and persuade her to go along with something.
Basel, Dai and Flanagan were sentenced in 2010 to two years probation, fined $1500, and required to perform 75 hours of community service. Ringleader O'Keefe was sentenced to three years probation, fined $1500 and required to perform 100 hours of community service.
Busted they were, but they still emerged as darlings for the right wing media. Do we want to become stooges for the right wing media here in West Central Minnesota? Is Basel a student at UMM? I suppose he could be. Was this checked?
"Northstar" is supposed to be a student endeavor. It's supported by student fees - an element that must surely be coming under scrutiny now. Why was this situation allowed to develop?
 
In a legal thicket?
I'm guessing that the "big boy" lawyers of the U's Twin Cities campus are being enlisted on this matter. Surely there is potential for lawsuits coming out of recent issues of the paper.
I'd like to advise the offended persons to study their options. Since the perpetrators are male and some of the victims, like Sandy Olson-Loy, are female, they might even contact the office of Gloria Allred.
The manager of the Sun Tribune newspaper wrote a column in reaction to the controversy, a column that I felt was glib and patronizing. The manager really only needed to write one paragraph, saying the decision to include Northstar was wrong, we apologize and it won't happen again.
But no, this individual emphasized the responsibility that comes with the First Amendment. Thus she seemed to be trying to portray her business as the beacon of wisdom in this matter. What a lofty virtue: the responsibility we feel with the First Amendment.
This diversion doesn't work, at least not with me. The First Amendment has no place in this discussion. Martin Bashir may be about to lose his daytime show on MSNBC, due to some comments he made that were deemed lacking taste. If he goes off the air, it will not be a violation of his First Amendment rights, any more than if Rush Limbaugh had been fired for the remarks he made about Sandra Fluke.
No one is suggesting that the people behind "Northstar" be prosecuted by the state for what they write or believe. I do not have a First Amendment right to have my own show on MSNBC or Fox.
John Geiger, head of the Northstar, has no inalienable right to hold his post. He has no inalienable right to use his position in any manner he chooses, without being accountable to anyone.
The Sun Tribune manager says "I believe strongly that a community paper should include a wide variety of opinions and viewpoints." Here she's talking to us like we're children.
Does anyone think a small town paper has as one of its prime missions the spreading of political viewpoints? Are we so dependent on the Sun Tribune for this, that we'd have no other options, that we'd be helpless? You've heard of the Internet, haven't you?
So, under this guise of caring about us and wanting to be sure we're properly educated - and with the First Amendment employed - we're expected to consume "Northstar" and its filth.
The Sun Tribune manager says the students of Northstar "failed to consider the additional burden created by having a wider and more diverse audience." So, we're more sophisticated out in the community than the audience at UMM?
"By distributing their newspaper not just to their fellow students but to the larger community of Morris, the Northstar then became accountable to public opinion." So, there's no accountability at the University of Minnesota-Morris?
I have made two trips to campus to try to obtain the current "Northstar" and I haven't found any. How ironic if this thing ends up distributed only in the community and not on campus.
Why is Joe Basel troubling himself with a community as small as ours? I know he has a past background here. But after infiltrating New Orleans, why come back here?
PZ Myers, Morris' world-famous blogger - see "desecrating crucifixes" - has weighed in on Northstar.
If the people at the Sun Tribune newspaper should happen to read my post today, they will probably react by dismissing, laughing at and mocking me, which is how they can be expected to react to any critic of theirs. I have seen this firsthand.
There is a "cock of the walk" mentality that seems to come with getting a position at a newspaper - a "know it all" stance. It's not as bad as it used to be, because of the well-known lumps being taken by newspapers. But I'm sure it's still there. These people can talk like they could run all of the town's major institutions better than the people running them. It's easy when you can distance yourself from the day-to-day messy details.
The Sun Tribune's manager did not write a true "mea culpa" piece. Her piece instead had a ring to it like one of those "I'm sorry to those who were offended" apologies.
"I again apologize for any offense that our readers have suffered," the manager writes, suggesting that maybe not everyone was actually offended.
I assume someone pays to have the Northstar as a part of our community newspaper. How much? What are the $ sources? Right wing interests are known to help fund stuff like this, and then try to conceal their identity. The Sun Tribune for its part is just glad to take the money, I'm sure. I'm sure they need it.
The Sun Tribune stayed stuck at 24 pages even leading into the Parade of Lights week and Black Friday.
The Sun Tribune manager writes that "the staff of the Sun Tribune has no control nor prior knowledge of the content of the (Northstar) publication."
I might write a profanity here but I won't. I'm proud of this blog and my sense of taste. The Sun Tribune staff should have realized with the Halloween issue of Northstar that this was a dangerous publication. To allow it to run again indicates, in my mind, that they were just smelling money. Right wing money.
My deceased friend Glen Helberg always said "Money talks and bulls--t walks." My little saying is: "Money's honey, my dear sonny, and a rich man's joke is always funny."
The newspaper manager writes, "We see (the Northstar) for the first time when it arrives in our paper, much the same as the fliers for Shopko, Target or any other advertiser." Does the "Northstar" look like an "advertisement" to you? Gee, couldn't someone just take a peek at the Northstar at the printing plant, and maybe give a heads-up? Would this be so difficult?
No, the right wing money apparently has a stronger say. (Oh, and where is the Target store located in Morris?)
 
Chancellor gives statement
Jacqueline Johnson, UMM's chancellor, has unfortunately been drawn into this whole mess. Johnson writes that Northstar "does not reflect the views or perspectives of the University. It's student speech."
It's student speech that could exist online just fine, and then I wouldn't give a rip. Chancellor Johnson talks about the "offensive photos and articles in recent papers." She cites the allegations of racism and fascism - I have a hard time typing this - directed at several UMM faculty and staff members.
Johnson describes such allegations as "without substance." Unfortunately this becomes sort of like the question, "When did you stop beating your wife?" The allegations float out there and force a defensive response.
I wouldn't blame any of these victims for just leaving UMM. UMM is already handicapped, I suspect, trying to attract outstanding people because of our remote location and relative lack of amenities here. Now the profs are under the glare of a silly, impulsive and reactionary paper that slings darts.
One possible solution would be for John Geiger to be visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future in the upcoming holiday. Meanwhile, Joe Basel might be testing his next costume. You can imagine some canned laughter.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com