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

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Teachers need to join real world of 2014

Image from "Time"
Teachers nationwide are calling for a boycott of Time Magazine. My first response: I didn't know people even bought Time Magazine anymore.
We all know Time Magazine is a dinosaur. It doesn't exist as it once did. It was once a weekly news digest. The need for that has disappeared due to the Internet. You might argue that the need for Time has disappeared completely.
I might argue this about the Morris MN newspaper too. Years ago we might have predicted their demise. However, the same tech that prompted such speculation has enabled print-based products to survive due to reduced overhead. A community newspaper no longer needs a photo "darkroom." A photo darkroom is the most antiquated thing I can imagine, like using horses instead of power equipment in a farm field.
To be more specific, a photo darkroom is the most Rube Goldberg-esque thing I can imagine. It's so bad I'm pained to even write about it. I had to ask myself: "When do you stop spending money and just start taking pictures?" Never, it seemed.
I'm reminded of how Johnny Carson used to joke about backyard barbecuing. No matter how you did it, Johnny said, a visitor would say you're not doing it quite right.
There is a right way and wrong way to do everything. I wish when I was around 20 years old I had gotten a firm, vo tech-type instruction on how to set up a photo department. And even if I had, my knowledge would have had to be updated often, like maybe every three months. The pace of change was too much. It was too unstable and chaotic.
Your common citizens would take photos on a low-quality Kodak Instamatic, or comparable low-end camera, and then "take film to the drugstore" where it would be "sent in," and then you'd wait about a week to get the pix back. Have you noticed how old Instamatic photos don't scan well at all for online purposes? Many of those photos have faces that are "washed out."
How I would love to live my life over again and get the proper instruction in photography. And even then, it wouldn't be easy. The photo instructor I had in college was largely of the "artsy" kind. In other words, next to worthless, or actually destructive of your ambitions. The kind of photo instruction I got in college was in line with a lot of the "deconstructionist" trends we saw in colleges in the 1970s. Let's call it avant garde. It's the kind of thinking that went into designing the University of Minnesota-Morris science auditorium.
You had to survive those classes, not benefit from them. State colleges were probably the worst. The infusion of more private money into colleges has helped solve this. Private money forces people into the real world.
Anyway, I started this post by writing about the teachers' push for a boycott of Time Magazine. Time is pushing for public school teachers in America to become more accountable. We have heard this clarion call for a long time. Teacher unions have become increasingly on the defensive. That's totally understandable.
I was angered in the 1970s at how the teachers unions asserted themselves with so little resistance. Any time I engaged someone on the street in conversation about this, they agreed with me: teachers had too much power and autonomy, and it was corrosive. And yet, the status quo remained for some time.
Then it started crumbling. The Time Magazine cover story is another shot across the bow. Time wouldn't have dared have a cover story about this 30 years ago, or even 20. In a time when change is the norm throughout our institutions across America, caused by the irresistible forces of tech and connectivity, the old norms cannot remain in public education.
Teachers can't be fired. Well, no one among us would cheer for anyone being fired - it's an unsavory and depressing thing. Teachers would say it's a myth that they cannot be fired. They would say due process simply must be followed.
But we all know what happens in the real world. It becomes more trouble and more time-consuming than it's worth for administrators to go through with this process.
Here is the fundamental problem with teachers having job security so far beyond the rest of us: What are the effects on a human being of having such rigid job security? Otherwise good people, people who entered education for the right reasons and with the right motivation, can develop bad traits. They become defensive, lazy, ossified and combative with perceived critics.
People in "normal" jobs, outside of education, have to be accountable even when they have to mutter obscenities under their breath sometimes. They go home sometimes convinced "life's a bitch." Which it indeed can be. We might be inclined to change jobs.
But teachers behave like they think they can operate out of a fortress. And, this is the model that I think Time Magazine is seeking to shoot down. And teachers don't like it. They are behaving in their usual visceral manner, calling for a boycott.
I saw the Morris public school teachers do this back in about 1987 or '88. It was a dark chapter in this community's history. It also seems rather quaint. I don't think it would happen today. Today I think that if the faintest rumor got out that the teachers (and their families and network of friends) were going to boycott someone, the administration would have the tools to intercept and shoot it down. Back in the '70s, we might expect certain administrators to even support the teachers. Today there is more of an appropriate management/worker dichotomy in education - the way it should be, and should have been.
Teachers naturally are calling for a boycott of Time Magazine. I would say that these news reports are doing more for Time Magazine than anything else could. Either way, Time Magazine is vestigial - barely a shadow of what it was, or what it once meant in America.
It's nice to be reminded that Time Magazine even exists. Now I'll go online and research reaction to that piece. But I wouldn't spend a nickel on any magazine.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Cross country and football: autumn thrills

Making state as a seventh-grader? It's an incredible feat. When I was a seventh grader, varsity sports seemed a very distant world from me. I was a fan, not a participant. Actually, when I was a senior, varsity sports still seemed pretty distant from me - I played in the band. I wrote about it.
I'm delighted to still be writing about Tiger sports, and to be giving a tip of the hat to an MACA seventh-grader. She's Maddie Carrington. Maddie is a cross country runner who is meeting the highest standards. She'll be off to state this weekend. Maddie and teammate Savannah Aanerud have the privilege of vying in the state meet which will unfold on November 1 at St. Olaf College, Northfield. Savannah is a sophomore.
Maddie and Savannah were in top form for the Section 6A meet which was held at Little Crow Country Club, New London. Aanerud placed fifth in section with her time of 15:34.30. Carrington was No. 13 to the finish chute with her time of 16:15.75.
Midori Soderberg placed 43rd for the Tigers, time of 17:21.14. Then we had Lauren Reimers coming in at 53rd, time of 17:34.43. Continuing: Correy Hickman (17:36.90, 57th), Malory Anderson (17:50.40, 65th) and Becca Holland (18:18.96, 81st).
This was a huge spectacle with 23 teams in the running. The girls champion was Emily Donnay of Eden Valley-Watkins, time of 14:42.46. Holdingford took first in both the girls and boys team standings. The top two female runners both had the "Donnay" last name. Anna Donnay was runner-up with her time of 15:03.27.
Here's a list of the MACA male runners who vied on the New London course: Ryan Gray (18:58.51), Jonathan Jerke (19:17.84), Tyler Reimers (20:05.81), Travis Ostby (20:07.62), Brock Anderson (21:09.18), Dalton Uphoff (21:40.93) and Trent Ostby (22:25.09).
The boys champion was Ben Burgett of Community Christian School, time of 16:20.59.
 
Football: New London-Spicer 48, Tigers 30
The MACA Tigers hung in there for an extended time vs. the No. 1 seed in Section 6AAA football Saturday. It was the Tigers scoring first in this section semis showdown. Trent Marty passed seven yards to Riley Biesterfeld for a touchdown in the second quarter, following the scoreless first.
The Wildcats of New London-Spicer entered this game with a 7-1 record. They got to host the game. Trent Wulf kicked for the point-after after the opening MACA score.
The second quarter became rather wild from a scoring standpoint. The host Wildcats got going with a Trey Austvold two-yard run. They then went up by one when Ethan Bohlsen completed the conversion pass to Cody King.
The Tigers wrested the lead back when Wulf ran the ball in from the six. He also carried successfully on the conversion. Austvold asserted himself again with a touchdown run from the six, followed by a failed conversion play. We're now at halftime with the score 15-14, MACA up (and hopeful).
But NL-Spicer went on an extended run when second half play unfolded. Jared Travis scored a TD on a run from the one. The conversion play was no-go. Shane Zylstra ran the ball in from the three, after which the Wildcats again sputtered on the conversion. NL-Spicer widened its lead further when Zylstra passed to Austvold on a play covering nine yards. Blake Shuck kicked the point-after.
MACA finally scored again as Bo Olson caught a 26-yard pass from Wulf. Noah Grove put his toe to work on the point-after. But NL-Spicer scored the next two touchdowns. First it was Austvold carrying the ball in from the four. The kick try failed. Then, Jared Travis found the end zone from the one, after which Shuck kicked successfully.
The Tigers' Eric Staebler scored on a 20-yard pass reception from Wulf. Isaac Wente carried successfully on the conversion. NL-Spicer tacked on two more points with a safety.
Austvold obviously had major impact in this 48-30 win for his Wildcats. His TD total on the night was four. NL-S fans were heartened seeing him perform so well, as he had missed much of the season due to injury.
NL-Spicer is now set to play Melrose at 5 p.m. this Saturday at St. Cloud State University. Melrose has an 8-2 mark and has won six straight. Keep an eye on Melrose's Zack Pierskalla.
Our Morris Area Chokio Alberta Tigers close out the season with a 5-5 record. NL-Spicer sits at 8-1.
Looking at the stats, Wulf and Wente were the rushing cogs for MACA Saturday, Wulf with 73 yards on the ground, Wente with 66. Both had 15 carries. Marty and Wulf did the Tigers' passing. Marty passed for 45 yards, Wulf for 46.
Olson had three of the catches for 42 yards. Biesterfeld had two catches, and Wulf and Staebler one each. Grove did the Tigers' punting.
Austvold had 89 rushing yards for the Wildcats in 21 carries. Bohlsen had 75 yards on the ground in six carries, and Zylstra covered 64 yards in nine carries of the football. Bohlsen was very sharp in the passing department, completing eleven tosses in 16 attempts for 116 yards and no interceptions. Zylstra had one completion.
James Magnuson had five of the catches for 69 yards. Zylstra and Austvold each had three catches. Alex Goff had one reception. Ethan Parsons had an interception, and Derrick Laudenbach had a fumble recovery. Brandon Knisley had two quarterback sacks.
 
A quick reminder once again: A song I wrote in 1997 about Kirby Puckett is now online, on YouTube. I'm very pleased this can be shared now. Here's the link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDQjIVH735A
 
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tigers sweep Lakers to begin 3AA-North play

The post-season is on for prep volleyball. The second-seeded Tigers of MACA got things going Friday night (10/24) with a home win. It was a sweep style of success.
Coach Kristi Fehr's Tigers turned back the Lakers of Minnewaska Area. Scores were 25-12, 25-11 and 25-20. The Tigers now own 18 wins on the season.
The next step on the tournament ladder will have them matched against Redwood Valley. Again the home court will be in use. Redwood Valley has the No. 3 seed. We're in Section 3AA-North. Tuesday will bring the semi-finals.
'Waska closes the books on its season with nine wins.
Montevideo and New London-Spicer are the other teams still going in the North sub-section. Those two squads will vie at New London-Spicer. The team to beat in this sub-section is New London-Spicer. The Wildcats can always be counted on to be strong in girls athletics. They're flying high in the volleyball campaign with a 23-5 record.
Morris Area Chokio Alberta enters further conquests with an 18-8 record, indicating we quite possibly have the tools to challenge New London-Spicer! Never bet against coach Fehr. Stay tuned. First we have to get past Redwood Valley, the same school whom our football athletes defeated on Tuesday. MACA football is facing NL-Spicer today (Saturday).
Two Tigers each had 12 kills in hitting in the Friday success. Lacee Maanum and Brooke Gillespie had identical hitting stats: 28 for 32 with 12 kills. Kayla Pring pounded down eleven kills on 24-for-25 in G/A. Haley Erdahl came through with four kills on nine of ten. Karly Fehr and Tracy Meichsner each added one kill to the mix.
Karly Fehr was in her usual prime setting role and she produced 35 assists. She also topped the serve aces list with three. She was a perfect 17 of 17 in serving good/attempts. Erdahl had two serving aces on 18/19 G/A. Maanum had an ace to go with flawless six of six in G/A.
"Libero" Kourtney Giese was eight of eight in serving. Lindsey Dierks was 17 of 18, Gillespie three of six and Bobbi Jo Kurtz one of one.
In digs it was Giese topping the list with 17, followed by Gillespie (12), Fehr (9), Dierks (9) and Erdahl (8).
Ariel Ostrander was all over the court for Minnewaska Area, leading her team in kills with eight, ace blocks with two and digs with 13. The Tigers had no ace blocks. Four Lakers each had one serving ace: Abby VerSteeg, Ashlyn Guggisberg, Kaylee Glover and Taylor Amundson. Amundson was the chief setter and had 14 assists.
I'd like to give MACA fans the heads-up that a song I wrote about Kirby Puckett in 1997 is now online. I invite you to give a listen by clicking on the link below. Thank you. - B.W.
 
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

MACA football wins big - watch for details?

It is 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 22, as I put up this post. I wrote this post on the assumption that there would be no details of the Tiger football team's playoff victory in the usual media sources yet. If this assumption is wrong, I would not be putting up this post. But I'm pretty sure I'll be right.
The MACA football Tigers played in Redwood Falls Tuesday night. It's unlikely the info would get phoned in to the Willmar newspaper from Redwood Falls. Actually this has been a terrible fall for following the football Tigers in the Willmar newspaper.
If the West Central Tribune cannot come through with coverage, where else might we find it? Step 2 in this process would be the Morris newspaper website. You know, the newspaper that told us on Saturday that we need to toss Senator Al Franken out of office. Franken has been very good to Morris and to UMM. He is no stranger here. He is gracious and supportive. He spoke for UMM's graduation.
But Forum Communications, the Fargo-based owner of the "Morris newspaper," tells us we need to elect the Republican guy, McFarlane or McFadden or whoever he is. I suppose he just wants bigger tax cuts for the very wealthy, as if that'll solve everything.
The Forum cleverly endorsed Collin Peterson who'll probably roll over Torrey Westrom regardless. The Forum protects its backside that way - it can try to claim it's not overly partisan. They did this with Amy Klobuchar too. Everyone knows the Forum is Republican. The local managers have no say in these endorsements.
The Forum endorses Republican candidates in the truly pivotal races. Then, when the occasional Democratic blow-out presents itself, those execs will say the Democrat is really OK, holding their noses of course. If you don't like how the Sun Tribune is in effect taking a dump on Senator Al Franken, then stop supporting the newspaper financially. It's not hard.
If I cannot find coverage of the Tiger football playoff win in either the West Central Tribune or the Morris newspaper website, I'm not sure where else those details will surface. (A check at 11 a.m. today shows the Willmar paper has two sentences on the game, one of which simply announces when MACA's next game is. The Tigers beat Redwood Valley 42-13 Tuesday in a game that I'm sure had lots of highlights.)
Sans the game details, we'll have what could be called an "issue." It's important that these school programs be high-profile. Back when the Morris newspaper was twice a week, it was much better positioned to provide a service. Today it's totally peripheral, really just an advertising vehicle. Have you noticed?
My solution, as I have suggested in the past, would be for MACA school programs to develop their own reporting and PR systems, online naturally. Let's not dismiss these PR objectives. Let's not shrug with the typical dismissive line, "I don't have time." Already the coaches have to oversee some sort of system where info gets to the usual corporate media sources. One problem with that, is that some games fall through the cracks, like the Tuesday night MACA football win.
I was at Willie's Super Valu this morning trying to find out the outcome of the game. A couple people who I thought would know, did not. Finally I got the news. A person shouldn't have to ask around town. We invest a lot in these high school extracurricular programs. We shouldn't just sniff at the need for good public relations and outreach.
Let's use our imagination. I hope the community appreciates that I'm still interested in all these activities.
Oh, and the Tigers will resume play on Saturday against the No. 1 seed, New London-Spicer, at NL-S.
- Brian Williams - morris mn - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Football loss, volleyball win, running thrills

I was all set to post about the fall break football game this morning: MACA vs. Paynesville. The Tigers and the high-flying, green-clad Bulldogs squared off at our Big Cat Stadium.
Certainly it was an entertaining affair: lots of points. However, only two sentences about this game appear in today's West Central Tribune of Willmar. What a ripoff. Was it the obligation of the MACA coaching staff to call in this info?
Even though we lost, our team scored 34 points, therefore there were generous offensive highlights. Certainly the fans were treated to a stimulating game at our fine local edifice for football - the envy of many other towns. For the record, the Bulldogs were the 52-34 victor on Wednesday night.
I was at a church gathering downtown. We meet at the little room which is an extension of the Met Lounge. Church at the Met Lounge? Oh, it's quite workable. Please consider attending. The Lutherans are mainly responsible for organizing this, but we'll welcome anyone! We're not like the Catholics who turn away non-Catholics for communion at funerals. The Catholics have enough problems these days, why don't they just lighten up a little? My best friends were Catholics when I was a little kid. They took me to "Catholic bingo."
To heck with the West Central Tribune of Willmar - it's a shoddy, uneven product that often contains errors. Let's see MACA sports develop its own PR website full of timely, lively information!
 
Volleyball: Tigers 3, Montevideo 1
The female student athletes of MACA excelled on the volleyball court on Tuesday, Oct. 14. Coach Kristi Fehr's Tigers treated home fans to a win which was No. 17 on the season. The Tigers are truly high-flying. We're 8-5 in conference.
After a sputtering start on Tuesday, a 24-26 loss in game 1, the Tigers ran the table. The orange and black prevailed in games 2 through 4 by scores of 25-12, 25-13 and 25-18.
The all-important hitting category had Brooke Gillespie at the forefront. Brooke fueled this conference win with 19 kills, achieved on 49 of 57 in good/attempts. Kayla Pring was another prime spiker: 12 kills on 34 of 36 in G/A.
Lacee Maanum came at the Thunder Hawks with ten kills on 26 of 27 in G/A. Karly Fehr, whose main role on the night was as setter, pounded down four kills on a perfect seven of seven. Haley Erdahl had three kills on 13 of 16. Tracy Meichsner added a kill to the mix.
Karly Fehr was all over the court to accumulate 37 set assists on a nearly perfect 93 of 94 in G/A. Meichsner helped out some in setting. In ace blocks, Maanum had three and Meichsner one.
Kourtney Giese, the "libero" (and Homecoming queen), topped the digs list with 24. Gillespie had 20 digs and Lindsey Dierks 15. The list continues with Erdahl (14), Fehr (8), Maanum (6) and Pring (5).
On to serving: here it was Maanum nailing two aces on a perfect 16/16 in G/A. Two Tigers each had one serving ace: Gillespie (14 of 15 in G/A) and Fehr (23 of 24). Dierks was 15 of 17 in serving, Erdahl 11 of 11, Giese 11 of 12 and Bobbi Jo Kurtz one of one.
For the visiting T-Hawks of Montevideo, Natalie Feldhake had ten kills on 20 of 26 in G/A. Feldhake had seven ace blocks. Grace Sulflow was busy as Monte's setter, putting up 123 of 125 numbers with 23 assists. Alyssa Stern led Monte in digs with 14. Abby Olson, Erin Balken and Alexis Schmitz each had one serving ace.
 
Cross country: conference meet
Savannah Aanerud was the headliner for MACA in the West Central Conference meet held at Sauk Centre. Aanerud took first place with her time of 16:15.16. Maddie Carrington impressed with her time of 16:45.80. Correy Hickman impressed with her time of 17:19.61. Lauren Reimers was clocked at 17:28.40, and Midori Soderberg arrived at the finish chute at 17:35.97.
Aanerud's championship helped elevate the MACA girls to first place in the six-team field.
The boys story had Jonathan Jerke run an 18:53.82 time. He was joined in the MACA effort by Ryan Gray (18:57.34), Travis Ostby (19:47.45), Tyler Reimers (20:38.94) and Brock Anderson (21:43.92). The MACA boys placed fifth among eight teams.
The boys WCC team champion was Montevideo. The boys individual champ was Kurt TeBeest of Monte with a time of 17:04.70.
 
Running as pastime
Writing about cross country makes me remember the days when I ran 5Ks and 10Ks. Looking back, the 5K distance would have been entirely adequate for all such events. We sought to "tough it out" for the longer distance.
Running hard for five kilometers will tax your body to the max. If you run ten kilometers, just run slower and enjoy the scenery. Of course, many people become possessed to run the marathon. "Possessed" can be interpreted literally. I think it's a strange lure - this desire to run continually (or nearly continually) for 26.2 miles. That's running from here to Benson.
Now that I have castigated marathon runners, let me hurriedly add that I ran three marathons in my halcyon days. However, I never trained specifically for any of those marathons.
I ran the Twin Cities Marathon three times in the fall of the year. It was after the summer in which I made the rounds for doing 5Ks and 10Ks in our placid rural outstate communities. I remember one year having to beat the train across an intersection doing the 10K for the Elbow Lake Flekkefest - really. I also remember that race fondly for how kids in troll costumes would dash out and "scare" you in various places.
I remember that in Ashby, I went to the concession stand at the softball tournament to ask directions for where the runners were gathering. They laughed because all the runners were coming there to ask directions. I remember that for the Dumont Centennial, there was a breakdown with the stopwatch and so, after sweating hard to do a good 10K, we couldn't even find out our time. Oh, it's no biggie.
I did a run for the Donnelly Threshing Bee during that brief time when the Bee included this event. I handed my camera to Mrs. Spohr who took newspaper photos for me as I ran.
These small-town runs were charming with their very peaceful atmosphere and the camaraderie us runners felt. It was the stuff of a country music song. From that setting I sprang to the Twin Cities Marathon in three different years, where of course the atmosphere was quite different, quite thrilling really. It was neat running amidst that virtual sea of runners at event's start. There would be TV helicopters hovering overhead. We certainly didn't see that at Dumont!
Yes, I ran those marathons without training specifically for them. I just considered them an extension of the summer running season. I firmly believe you do not need to train specifically for very long distances. What you do, is run several 5Ks and 10Ks with maximum intensity and commitment, and then just "tack on" that marathon experience at the end. You'll be ready. In fact, you'll perform better in the marathon with this approach, as opposed to the approach where you simply get ready for the long distance. Just use common sense and pace yourself when you do the marathon.
It's exhilarating in the Twin Cities to have fans cheering you on, the whole way. I remember a band playing at Minnehaha Park. One year I wore a long-sleeve T-shirt that had "New York City Marathon" on the front, and was acknowledged accordingly by all the spectators along the way. I have been to "The Big Apple" twice but have never done the New York City Marathon.
I remember doing a 10K in Fargo where I broke 40 minutes for the first time. I nearly broke three hours in my first Twin Cities Marathon in 1984. Considering my large and somewhat lanky stature, that was a quite excellent time. I failed to do better in my next two Twin Cities Marathons. However, I did enjoy picking up my complimentary package of Pillsbury microwave brownie mix when registering!
I developed injury excuses as the years went on, like all runners. Today I swear I could "do it again," although every time I try, I quickly run out of gas. There was a time when I felt I could impress women by doing this, but I was wrong.
The best runners are very light and wispy. Carrying minimal weight is absolutely essential. We can fail to appreciate how small these people are, because when they're photographed, they're often with each other.
Alan Page gained note for taking up the pastime after his football playing days. Certainly his body didn't seem to lend itself, but he enjoyed. I did a springtime race in western Wisconsin where Page was present. He has been on the Minnesota Supreme Court for a long time. I hope he doesn't show head injury symptoms.
I have a rich tapestry of memories from my running experiences of the 1980s and into the 1990s. A sore right foot caused me to quit. Today I can jog short-term without having that pain re-surface, but if I try taking it a step further, it's no-go. My right foot will feel like an alligator is biting it. So. . .
I congratulate the intrepid cross country runners of Morris Area Chokio Alberta. Stick with it, guys and gals. And don't worry about trolls.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

MACA girls humbled at hands of Sauk Centre

The MACA volleyball Tigers got a reminder Monday (10/13) that they're mere mortals. Our orange and black athletes had been on a terrific roll. All good things must come to an end, I guess.
MACA was on the short end of a sweep against the obviously fine Streeters of Sauk Centre. Sauk Centre was a prime rival of the Tigers in my high school days. I never liked those Sauk Centre kids. (Just kidding.)
The Monday match was played in Morris, but I'll re-check that with the MAHS school calendar. The West Central Tribune of Willmar reported in its Saturday edition that the MACA vs. Minnewaska football game was played "in Morris." I went with that information for about two hours on this blog. I should have been suspicious, because had the game been in Morris, I would have made a mental note earlier in the week and stopped by at around halftime, in transit via my trusty bicycle. 
I posted about the MACA football win at our Morris Public Library at about 11 a.m., then went home. I took a look at the school calendar just to get the general lay of the land. Uh-oh! OMG, the game was played at Minnewaska Area! I needed to get back on a computer. Great thanks to the Sarlettes of Starlite Music - excuse me, it's Sarlettes Music - for allowing me to borrow their computer, so I could correct that stupid error from the Willmar newspaper. To think I paid $1.75 for that thing.
You could guess at the location for a game and have a 50 percent chance of being right.
Tomorrow (Wednesday) the football Tigers will in fact be playing at Big Cat Stadium for the "fall break" game (formerly the MEA week game). The foe will be a tough Paynesville team.
 
Sauk Centre 3, Tigers 0
Fans gathered at the MAHS gym for West Central Conference volleyball on Monday. The start of the week can be depressing enough, and on this night the Tigers fell 0-3. Scores were 20-25, 19-25 and 21-25.
Becca Weir was a force for the victor, coming at the Tigers with 17 kills. Weir went up to perform six ace blocks. Morgan Gamradt had seven kills. Streeter Jill Klaphake was busy in setting with 31 assists. Taylor Triebenbach had 19 digs.
Karly Fehr of the Tigers raced around the court to put up 43 set assists. Brooke Gillespie took advantage of those assists to post a team-best 17 kills on 43 of 48 in good/attempts. Kayla Pring had 14 kills on 23 of 28 in G/A. Lacee Maanum's numbers were 12 kills on 45/49, and Haley Erdahl added two kills to the mix on 13 of 17.
Pring had two ace blocks and Maanum one. Gillespie was at the fore in digs with 23, followed by Kourtney Giese (20 as the "libero"), Erdahl (14), Fehr (12), Lindsey Dierks (8), Pring (6) and Maanum (5).
Gillespie had the only serving ace and was seven of eight in G/A. Erdahl was 16 of 16 in G/A, Dierks 14 of 14 and Giese 11 of 11.
 
Progress or not?
I can remember the days when we had parking meters in Morris. That was when "downtown" was where you went to buy things and socialize. Men often went to the "pool hall."
Such was the primacy of the old "main street" in America, cities got revenue from parking meters. I remember photographing an incident outside the Chamber of Commerce office in Morris, located where "Stephanie Foto" is now, where Congressman Arlan Stangeland's vehicle was about to be ticketed. He may have gotten a pass on that, most appropriately.
The Beatles had a song with the lyrics "Lovely Rita, meter maid."
Cartoonist Del Holdgrafer of Donnelly did a cartoon marking the end of that institution of parking meters in Morris. It had to happen. Economic geography was changing. The "Gibson's" store was a shot across the bow for that. I remember an apprehensive main street merchant saying sarcastically "I'm heading to Gibson's to get my 19-cent windshield scraper."
Go ahead and be sarcastic, people were going to be lured to these larger stores. The old main street model with its men's clothing stores and the like, was going to be "gone with the wind." Eventually people were lured not only by Gibson's (later to become Pamida and then Shopko) but to Alexandria, a much more practical destination due to cars being made more durable and reliable.
I chuckle whenever I see a sign outside of a community pointing me to a "business district." That term is a vestige of the old model. What the sign is really saying is, "main street is this way." Really, who cares? Main streets have largely become a quiet collection of businesses not nearly as attuned to the old walk-in model.
As some primary businesses in Morris seek a new location on the outskirts, out north of the highway by McDonald's, we have to wonder if our main street might be on the verge of actual blight. Maybe that term is too strong, so maybe I ought to stick with "quiet." Quiet and peaceful can be pleasant attributes but they don't make cash registers ring.
I have been hearing comments in a vein of levity about whether there are "enough financial services companies" to fill any holes on main street. When I was a kid we were scarcely aware of "financial services companies." People put money in the bank or they simply spent it. The stock market seemed a distant, mysterious and even rather foreboding place. It was a place where rich people played around with their money. Silly rabbit, rich people are never careless with their money. How do you think they got rich?
I have never accepted this new model that has common, middle class people lured into squirreling away money in non-FDIC investments. I have waited years to be vindicated on my thoughts about this, and maybe I still will be. As they say, if you wait long enough, the bears (on Wall Street) are always right.
In the old days in Morris, going downtown was rather a social occasion, especially on that one night of the week when stores agreed to stay open. You'd make your rounds, toting your sacks of items, and seeing your friends/neighbors. You might dine at the Del Monico Cafe, next to Messner Drugstore. That space is now occupied by Thrifty White Drug (on the west side of main street).
The Morris Theater might be abuzz for an Elvis movie. Today the theater survives as a co-op. I'm not sure it's worth the trouble. Some things are best left in the past, like parking meters.
So, Heartland Motors, Thrifty White Drug and Town and Country are re-locating, at least according to "word on the street?" This will bring a sea change unless other interests move into the vacated spots.
What will become of City Center Mall? Hats off to Floyd Schmidgall for his dream of building something classy on main street, and certainly that building is a pleasant place. Stevens County offices seemed to work out quite fine there. Stevens County used Floyd's space while the renovation or new construction of the courthouse was proceeding (a project I'm not sure we needed at all).
I heard positive comments about county offices being at City Center Mall. It was handy and on ground-level - truly "people-friendly." Of course, government doesn't want an image that is too friendly.
I feel rather intimidated entering our courthouse now. If I'm there to pay a bill, I have to use an elevator. Offices that regularly receive checks should be on ground level. I was advised once that parking is available higher up on the building's east side, but the space often fills up. Not only that, you'll see law enforcement vehicles parked there which can be very scary. If some cop comes out of that building and sees your seat belt not on, you're toast.
Reports are coming in from around the USA of cops who can become very irritable and testy even during a seat belt stop which you'd think is trivial. In at least one instance, someone got shot by a cop. I try to keep my distance from these individuals (cops) as much as possible. They can be dangerous. "The system" has created this and there's apparently nothing we can do about it. All those citations bring in revenue to grease the wheels of government.
I expressed my frustrations about a seat belt stop with a city councilman (while we were waiting at McDonald's) and he responded with one word (and a smile): "revenue." I wouldn't smile so readily. At least keep your guns in holsters, guys (or women), and maybe consider not bringing them into restaurants.
If the drugstores vacate Morris' main street, that part of town is going to be challenged attracting "foot traffic." "Foot traffic" is an intangible - it means that the potential for commerce is always around. What will happen to those old drugstore spaces?
What if businesses invest a ton of money to re-locate and then the U.S. is beset by a fallen economy? Look what the stock market has done lately.
Here's a sudden thought: What if we learn after the economy tanks that Jim Cramer actually had all his money in bank CDs? Business news reporting may not be what it appears. I have read that "trading floors" are really only maintained as "a backdrop for the financial networks." Enron had faking trading desks. Don't let the media unduly influence you.
What is to become of the Morris "business district," that place where families would wander on that designated weekday evening with a festive air presiding, toting those sacks? Saying "hi," pausing to chat?
We have ushered out those parking meters long ago. Wasn't Marlene Reineke a "meter maid?" The main street men's clothing store is a museum candidate. Long ago, "hats" were a big part of their business, along with the traditional suits and ties. Today people dress "grubby" to go to church and no one cares.
Time marches on.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Tigers strike right away in 28-6 road win

The Tigers have climbed over .500. That's quite gratifying considering the slumber the team was in at season's start. Since then, the Tigers have not only won often, they have done so with a very exciting flourish.
On Friday, Oct.10, the win came by a score of 28-6. The game was barely underway when the Tigers struck. Isaac Wente, on the first play after the kickoff, was off to the races for a 62-yard touchdown run. Wente would surpass 100 rushing yards on the night.
But it was Trent Wulf excelling the most with the ground game as he rumbled for 189 yards in this 28-6 Tiger victory at Minnewaska Area. Wente had three rushing touchdowns and Wulf one.
Just like the volleyball team, MACA football has picked up considerable steam in mid-autumn. What pizzaz. The gridiron Tigers have won four of their last five.
Are we already at the end of the regular season? Oh my we are, as MACA will now play the annual "fall break" game, what my generation once referred to as "the MEA week game," you know, when teachers from all over Minnesota would get together for some confab.
The fall break assignment won't be easy or routine for coach Kevin Pope's squad. On Wednesday the Tigers will host Paynesville, an unbeaten juggernaut. The green-clad Bulldogs are coming off a 66-6 win over Benson!
Wente's 62-yard run produced one of two touchdowns for Motown in the first quarter Friday. The other was a two-yard Wente scamper, and Noah Grove kicked the PAT after each of these scores.
The Tigers scored the next two TDs as well. The second quarter saw Trent Wulf bolt for a 35-yard scoring run. The third quarter saw Wente run the ball in from the three. Grove continued kicking successful point-afters.
The beleaguered Lakers scored their only touchdown in the fourth quarter: a 12-yard run by Greg Helander. The Lakers failed on a two-point conversion run try.
Wulf gained his 189 rushing yards on 18 carries - a quite fine average-per-carry. Wente gained his 109 yards on 14 carries. Bo Olson had 27 rushing yards on four carries. Other contributors were Jacob Zosel (three carries, 18 yards), Ryan Dietz (2/10), Trent Marty (1/3) and Diego Arreguin (1/2).
Marty as quarterback mainly helped coordinate the running game - in passing he was two of four for ten yards and had no interceptions. Olson and Wente had the catches. Nate Vipond picked off a pass. Briar Peterson recovered a fumble.
The top Minnewaska ballcarrier was Greg Helander who had 13 carries for 76 yards. Michael Gruber completed 13 passes in 24 attempts for 144 yards and had one interception. Matt Paulson led the Lakers in receptions with five, for 48 yards.
 
Back to normal at UMM?
The newsstands labeled "Northstar" were empty for quite a while into the new school year at the University of Minnesota-Morris. I wish that paper could have found the resources to publish a September issue, just as a gesture of "welcome back" or to prevent empty newsstands which seem rather pointless.
The Northstar apparently has its own lawyers who seem to date to be much sharper than the University's own lawyers. Congratulations to them. If UMM had its way, this publication would not have the leverage of its very own newsstands around campus. It doesn't deserve such a standing. Those prickly students could just go online, like we all can, find a platform for their ideas (if you can discern them past all the juvenile venting they do) and build an audience. That would make too much sense.
Instead we have this paper product called "Northstar" bringing attention to itself, to a degree far beyond what it deserves. These students are conservative or libertarian and are resentful. Perusing these papers, one senses they actually resent UMM. Aside from reasons of taste, this could be reason enough to try to shut them down.
Shut them down? But oh my, don't we have a First Amendment? Anyone who spouts about the First Amendment here is misguided, because this argument would only be apt if some sort of criminal conviction was being weighed based on a student's thoughts, ideas or writing. Of course no one is thinking on  those terms.
Journalists and editors can get removed from their positions, and publications can go under, due to the usual vicissitudes of the marketplace. The First Amendment is irrelevant in such cases. An editor of a campus paper could be seen as incompetent or injecting improper values, thus could be removed by whatever designated authority is in place. Maybe it would be the chancellor herself.
Journalists are not spared accountability just because of the First Amendment, which like all amendments can be misunderstood.
I have no doubt these Northstar students have some valid ideas worthy of airing. Have the principles behind affirmative action run their course? Is it time to start drawing the curtain on them? Are students unreasonably burdened by loan debt? This is a prime topic for discussion on college campuses now.
If only the Northstar students could hone in on these arguments in a more rational, level-headed way, we could appreciate their points more. There seems anger behind the so-called "satire" in the Northstar - at least I sense this. It has the effect of putting UMM administration and faculty members on the defensive. It perhaps distracts them from applying their full focus to their jobs. It might have a demoralizing effect. They wouldn't like admitting this. They project an air of indifference, probably.
The Northstar does not deserve to be one of the two on-paper student publications on campus. It almost seems like a classic college gag. It shows chutzpah on its cover, proclaiming that it's "classy (for a change)" and that it's a publication that students actually "talk, read and care about." I suppose people would "talk" about me too if I publicly farted.
Classy? A publication that finds it necessary to refer to Chancellor Jacqueline Johnson's vagina? To assert that "Jacquie Johnson is rape culture?"
Part of the college experience is learning to respect and defer to the people who are paid to lead/teach you. If you feel you do not need this leadership, then maybe you don't belong at UMM or in college at all. Maybe you're too smart to be here. Well then, why not just move along?
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sweep vs. 'Waska makes it five wins in row

Momentum grew for the MACA volleyball Tigers on Tuesday, Oct. 7. Success has become a habit for coach Kristi Fehr's orange and black squad. Success was enjoyed by sweep vs. the Minnewaska Area Lakers.
This win went into the books with scores of 25-22, 25-19 and 25-22. The win skein now stands at five.
Also, MACA has now won ten times in their last eleven matches. The Tigers own an overall record of 12-5 and 7-4 in conference. 'Waska's record: 9-12 (3-8).
Karly Fehr was the proficient setter and she put up 87-for-88 numbers in good/attempts and 35 assists. Lacee Maanum took advantage of those sets, going 32-for-37 in hitting with 18 kills. Brooke Gillespie was also in position to pound the ball vs. the Lakers. Brooke's hitting numbers were 36-for-43 and she accumulated 14 kills.
Kayla Pring had six kills and was 15 of 17 in G/A. Haley Erdahl added three kills to the mix and Fehr one.
Maanum executed two ace blocks and Gillespie had one. Lindsey Dierks led in digs with 13 followed by three of her mates each with 12: Erdahl, Gillespie and Kourtney Giese. Fehr had ten digs.
These Tigers each had one serving ace: Maanum (14 of 14 in G/A), Erdahl (13 of 13), Gillespie (five of six), Fehr (20 of 20) and Dierks (10 of 10).
Ariel Ostrander and Emma Middendorf each had nine kills for Minnewaska Area. Middendorf had four ace blocks. Ostrander topped the digs list for 'Waska with 24. Taylor Amundson was their chief setter and had 20 assists. Four Lakers each had a serving ace: Abby Ver Steeg, Becca Goetsch, Middendorf and Kaylee Glover.
 
Cross country: Tigers run at Benson
Maddie Carrington was the top performer for the Morris Area Chokio Alberta harriers on Monday, Oct. 6, at Benson. Carrington posted a 16:24.27 time to place fourth in the Benson/KMS Invite.
Savannah Aanerud placed seventh, arriving at the finish chute in 16:28.86. The other three varsity Tigers were Correy Hickman (17:13.90, 15th place), Midori Soderberg (17:50.18, 21st) and Lauren Reimers (18:01.14, 25th).
Maddie Carrington set the pace in a fine team effort that garnered second place, behind only Lac qui Parle/Dawson-Boyd. Ten teams were present. The LQPV/DB girls were lifted by having the top two place winners: Alaysia Freetly at No. 1, time of 15:25.74; and Jordyn Sterud at runner-up, 16:01.08.
Let's turn to the boys picture: here it was Ryan Gray topping the MACA effort with his time of 19:18.21, good for 17th. He was joined in the boys' effort by Jonathan Jerke (29:28.08), Travis Ostby (20:15.11), Tyler Reimers (21:07.34) and Dalton Uphoff (21:18.18).
The host Benson-KMS team topped the boys standings. The MACA boys were No. 6. Ben Burgett of Community Christian was the boys champ, time of 17:10.65.
 
Football: BOLD 32, Tigers 13
The MACA gridders lined up vs. BOLD on an absolutely miserable night for our Homecoming 2014. Hoo boy! Yours truly didn't even make his usual jaunt over to the field just before halftime to check things out. As "Yukon Cornelius" from "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" would say: "The weather isn't fit for man or beast!"
Miserable it was, but one of the teams was going to be happy at the final horn. Our MACA gridders had reason to be downcast. Our gridders had been playing some mighty fine, high-scoring football in the games leading up to this. They failed to parlay that success into Homecoming night. The very hardy fans saw BOLD dominance on the gridiron.
The BOLD Warriors came at our Tigers in a fast and furious fashion. MACA failed to score in the first half. BOLD added 14 points in the third quarter. Game's end arrived with BOLD up on the scoreboard, 32-13. It was BOLD's fifth triumph of the season. MACA came out of Homecoming right at .500 in both overall and conference.
MACA scored one touchdown each in the third and fourth quarters. Trent Wulf scored both TDs, covering 80 yards in a spectacular sprint in the third quarter, and finding the end zone again in the fourth on a 30-yard scamper. Noah Grove kicked for the PAT after the last MACA score.
The Tigers struggled passing the football. Our quarterback had but two completions in ten attempts for 12 yards. Eric Staebler had a catch good for ten yards. Wulf was a bright spot as he amassed 178 rushing yards in 16 carries. He was complemented by Isaac Wente whose stats were 91 yards, 12 carries.
Grove did the Tigers' punting. Wente was the tackle chart standout.
Here's a rundown on the four BOLD touchdowns (and a field goal): First it was Trent Athmann scoring on a 43-yard reception from Lane Stadther. The same two Warriors hooked up on the conversion. Oh, and the same two accounted for the next BOLD score, this time a 34-yard pass and catch. Kubesh kicked the PAT after the second touchdown.
Kubesh then kicked a field goal from 23 yards out to make the score 18-0, where it stood for halftime and the traditional announcement of royalty.
Ben Steffel gave more breathing room for BOLD on the scoreboard with a six-yard TD scamper. Kubesh kicked the PAT.
The next score was Wulf's 80-yard run, and after that it was Kubesh catching a 73-yard pass from Stadther, and there was nary a break for Kubesh as he kicked the point-after.
Wulf scored the final TD on this blustery night.
Ben Steffel finished the night with 146 rushing yards for BOLD on 26 carries. Stadther completed five passes in ten attempts for a whopping 162 yards and had none picked off. Athmann and Kubesh were the big guns in receiving with 77 and 73 receiving yards, respectively. Austin Tersteeg stood out for BOLD on the tackle chart.
BOLD's win was their fifth straight. They're ranked among the best in Minnesota.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Beatles did damage with drug reputation

Here's the "Abbey Road" cover.
One of the reasons I have always been an outcast within my generation is that I never saw the necessity of taking drugs.
Bill Clinton said he "didn't inhale." It's sad that Clinton had to go through gyrations to show that even though he didn't really "get high," he tried. I'm not sure "trying" would have been good enough to escape the stigma.
My generation was sordid with its distractions in the early and mid-1970s. I saw a lot of that firsthand. I would never be one to "preach" about such things. There's no high-mindedness being evoked here. I'm just trying to be rational. My generation consumed rock music artists who gave this impression of trying to be "mind-expanding." Remember that vapid talk? How could we be so stupid as to internalize it?
I feigned some interest. Left alone, I would have thought such activity silly and irrational. I'm not on any sort of soap box saying this - I'm just trying to be straightforward. I'm applying my own common sense which God in his love and wisdom gave me.
Do you sense that I'm still being defensive? Good God, I'm four months from turning age 60. I didn't attend my last class reunion. Who needs to be reminded of all those old peer pressures? The phrase "man without a country" comes from classic literature, I guess. I'm a "man without a generation."
How did we all get pulled into such questionable behavior? Well, stop and consider: it was the days of the "monoculture." We were observers more than producers. You defined yourself by whether you preferred the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. You bought vinyl records and played them. You couldn't go on Facebook or the myriad other online platforms of today and assert your own identity. You consumed the work of others.
So if you were a Beatles fan - many of us were infatuated - you paid attention to their lifestyle and values. I'll quote Mark Hertsgaard: "The crucial catalyst for the Beatles' transformation from lovable mop tops to high-minded rebels was their involvement with consciousness-raising drugs, specifically marijuana and LSD."
Hertsgaard, in a book I otherwise like greatly, asserts that marijuana and LSD were "more profoundly tools of knowledge" for the Fab 4 - "a means of gaining access to higher truths about themselves and the world."
Has science ever demonstrated how such drugs "raise your consciousness," Mark? They do something to your mind, obviously. Mark also wrote that "Eastern philosophy" was a building block, with those drugs, in the Beatles gaining a grasp of the truth of our world, beyond what us pathetic souls in our traditional existence would realize.
"Eastern philosophy?" No doubt those "Eastern" people do their thing. Did young people develop skepticism of traditional Christian beliefs because of this perceived fascination with "Eastern philosophy" among the Fab 4?
The four Beatles were immensely gifted professional musicians. It has been said they spoke for a generation - mine. But the so-called baby boomers with our overwhelming numbers didn't start coming into the world until 1946. Weren't all four Beatles born before that?
Hertsgaard wrote that the Beatles had fooled with drugs for years, popping pills and "swilling" beer. It's a shame such behavior calls for attention in a historical tome. How many of us would want to go to our graves being remembered for such stuff? But with the Beatles, we are to believe that a tapestry of drugs actually contributed to their creative output. It wasn't merely a distraction, it wasn't merely a vice. It "raised their consciousness," whatever that means.
Transcendental meditation was supposed to do that too, remember? Whatever happened to TM and all its teachers who would promote seminars? It seemed to me that TM was nothing more than a helpful period of forced relaxation each day. As a "movement" it was like a scam. 
"Scam" also describes, in my view, how this perception grew that illegal drugs had to be part of the new music scene.
Hertsgaard wrote that Bob Dylan introduced the Beatles to marijuana. He writes that the Beatles hadn't tried it before. How would he know that as fact, any more than he would know that drugs are "consciousness-raising?" Why should I care when the Beatles first tried marijuana? I would assert it had nothing to do with their music. They were evolving professionals as musicians, reaching new vistas of creativity simply by virtue of their accumulated experience and the resources they could tap simply by being successful.
Hertsgaard wrote that by the time of the movie "Help!" the Beatles were smoking pot every day. "It offered them welcome relief from the all-engulfing pressures of Beatlemania," Hertsgaard wrote. So, now such drugs give relief from pressure, in addition to the creative stimulus.
These perceptions were shared with my generation which like all generations can get dragged into regressive behavior when young, you know, that phase of life where we feel invulnerable.
More from Hertsgaard: "But the larger significance of their embrace of marijuana was that it further stimulated their already prodigious creativity, and it made them think, really think, for the first time in their lives."
Hyperbole, at least.
It doesn't end there, as now we move on to LSD. George Harrison said of so-called psychedelic drugs that "it just opened up this whole other consciousness." He also said "it was like gaining hundreds of years of experience within 12 hours."
Lay it on thick.
More from Hertsgaard: "For four individuals as creatively inclined as the Beatles, it was only natural that the personal growth sparked by marijuana and LSD would affect their art."
Personal growth! The Beatles did in fact start making drug references in their music. The "Rubber Soul" album is an example. Typically the references aren't overt, rather we infer, with great relish in the case of the young who like clawing past taboos. Consider the hissing sound on "Girl" (inhaling pot smoke). "Ish" is all I can say.
As much as one can smell marijuana when looking at the "Rubber Soul" album cover, the underlying message of humanistic sensibility - that 1960s badge - strikes me as unrelated to any drug consumption. The druggie thing appealed to kids because the young generation is always seeking separation from parents. If drugs were taboo, let's try this. Let's exult in this and suggest they improve us - they "expand our mind."
Again, has science ever had anything to say about this? Does science affirm these attributes? I think not.
The Beatles used rebellion as a tool to connect with their naive, fawning audience. I once read that Dean Martin often had mere apple juice in his glass when making the rounds at parties. He wasn't really so hooked on alcohol. I laugh because that doesn't surprise me at all.
Being a successful entertainer is highly demanding. The dirty little secret is that the Beatles, too, probably lived lives more sensible and disciplined than what they had the good sense to claim. We all know that Hunter S. Thompson did his defining work before he went on to all that foolishness. This is documented.
Commercial success in entertainment and art is very demanding and calls for focus, proper rest/sleep and discipline. If you're going to suck in marijuana - again, "ish" - you'd have to do it in "time off" periods away from your serious work. Enough said.
Would my peers still sniff at me for saying this?
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, October 6, 2014

Music, not lyrics, made "Norwegian Wood"

The genius John Lennon
Musicians who developed their tastes in the 1940s didn't exactly hop on the Beatles bandwagon. Young people like me heard from educators that the Beatles were fluff, outside the realm of what we ought to be studying.
And yet, a band as sophisticated as Buddy Rich's had arrangements for "Norwegian Wood" and "Something." Beatles music was not in fact being relegated to some dustbin. That was just rhetoric from the snooty crowd. People who made their living playing music knew better.
George Harrison's "Something" was covered all over the place. Maynard Ferguson joined with Dinah Shore - what a combination - playing "Something" on afternoon TV. I heard the Ferguson band play "Here, There and Everywhere." I heard the energized Buddy Rich band play "Norwegian Wood" at the St. Paul Prom Ballroom. The audience, mostly young people like me, absolutely loved it.
Much is made of what the lyrics suggest in "Norwegian Wood." I will assert that the melody is by far the main selling point. With the Rich band we got only the music and not the lyrics. Sans lyrics, the song was a tremendous "sell," near the top of the list for what we wanted to hear the Rich band do.
The lyrics? Well, they certainly "work" for making this a successful song. The song was on the Beatles' "Rubber Soul" album.
"Rubber Soul" was one of those transformative albums from the Fab 4. I remember buying it at the old Johnson Drug Store in Morris. They had a small record display as did Juergensen's Super Valu, a grocery store.
The "Rubber Soul" album cover troubled me somewhat. The Beatles' hair had been long enough, now it was a little longer. It was to the point where I didn't see any more need for a "message" coming from hair length. It was just plain too long, suggesting seediness, not coolness. What the heck kind of message are we supposed to take from hair length anyway? It's absurd to think some sort of cultural message was emanating from something as shallow as hair length.
And yet there were the Beatles, carrying that torch of cultural adjustment, of embracing new values, partly by virtue of having their hair grow out. Kids today would be perplexed, to be sure. The Fab 4 had odd looks in their eyes on that album cover. Today we smile and just figure they were "on drugs." Oh, I don't know. They actually just look sleep-deprived to me. Maybe they just wanted to fascinate their audience with a look that would get them talking and speculating. Don't you think that's important in entertainment?
"Rubber Soul" followed the "Help!" album. "Help!" marked the end of that initial mop-top phase, when despite the long hair, the Beatles came across as largely innocuous entertainment. With "Rubber Soul" the band was coming at us with lyrics that were no longer one-dimensional or superficial.
"Norwegian Wood" is a sing-along song with its simplicity. That's on one level. On another it's edgy, exploring changes in cultural norms and expected behavior. Supposedly it springs from a real-life extramarital liaison of Lennon's. I'm not impressed by that. Extramarital affairs are nothing but bad - I don't wish to learn anything from them or be entertained by them.
The song's tale is one of mutual seduction. The whole enterprise breaks down. The song's theme owes itself, of course, to the so-called sexual liberation of those notorious 1960s, a decade defined more by the Viet Nam War than by what kids were doing in their idle time.
"Norwegian Wood" suggests an air of urban sophistication. Two young singles go to her place. "There wasn't a chair," so we can assume there were floor pillows. The term "Norwegian Wood" is from a fashion rage of London at the time.
The boy and girl are tentative assessing each other. The boy chooses to be patient, thinking this will impress her. Patience as a prelude to what? Well, sex of course. I had a psychology professor in college who said "each generation is the first to discover sex," or to at least proclaim they did, or believe they did. Older people learn inhibitions about this. Young people are just overwhelmed by hormones.
The girl says "it's time for bed" at around 2 a.m. Jeez, get some sleep. Harrison plays his sitar while the girl apparently judges what ought to be her next step. The bridge of the song tells us the dispiriting outcome for the boy. Perhaps the girl misunderstood her companion's patience or "passivity," whatever. She suddenly explains she needs to work in the morning. She backs off!
As we'd say, "bummer."
"This bird has flown." "Bird" is English slang for "girl."
Beatles scholars tell us that what follows in the lyrics is an oblique report of the boy setting fire to the girl's apartment. Wow! The "bummer" aspect is now in spades. So much for pop songs having an uplifting and hopeful message.
"Norwegian Wood" is supposed to be the tale of the pitfalls inherent in human connections - the communication snafus and missed opportunities. I yawn. A garden variety songwriter could take the lyrical subject matter and write absolutely laughable tripe. What sets the Beatles apart was their sheer songwriting craftsmanship, their ability to weave passages with chords and notes that transfix us. They developed this through years of very hard work.
I can dismiss the lyrics of "Norwegian Wood." I just close my eyes and remember that magical night at the St. Paul Prom Ballroom when I heard Buddy Rich and that exciting big band give us "Norwegian Wood" to the rapt acclamation of us young Upper Midwest boomers.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, October 3, 2014

Homecoming volleyball a winning night

The Homecoming week match was spectacular for the Morris Area Chokio Alberta girls.
Fans gathered at the MAHS gym on Tuesday evening, Sept. 30. The Tigers faced off vs. Benson in a West Central Conference match. The match was owned by the host Tigers. The 3-0 sweep win had scores of 25-19, 25-19 and 25-22. The success pushed the team's record to 7-4. It did drop to 7-5 on Thursday when the Tigers didn't fare so well on the road vs. Melrose. MACA fell to Melrose 1-3 with scores of 21-25, 25-22, 23-25 and 22-25.
 
Tigers 3, Benson 0
Karly Fehr sent three serving aces at the Benson Braves. She was 14 of 15 in good/attempts in this category. Brooke Gillespie had two serving aces and Lindsey Dierks one.
Set assists saw Karly Fehr excel with perfect 78 of 78 numbers and 35 assists. Tracy Meichsner contributed two set assists.
Gillespie excelled at the net with 13 kills on flawless 29 of 29 numbers. Kayla Pring was right behind Gillespie with her 12 kills, achieved on 30 of 34 G/A. Lacee Maanum came through at 17 of 22 in hitting with seven kills. Haley Erdahl had six kills and Meichsner two.
Pring went up to execute two ace blocks. Maanum, Erdahl and Fehr each had one. In digs we see Fehr topping the list with 16 followed by Gillespie (15), Kourtney Giese (12), Dierks (12) and Erdahl (7).
Sophie Ascheman had six kills for Benson. Hannah Lindblad supplied 17 set assists for the visitor. Hannah Ricard had a blocking ace. Lindblad was tops in assists for Benson with 15. Krista Motzke and Lindblad each had two serving aces.
Viva MACA volleyball for Homecoming week 2014! I'm typing this on Friday, a day when I might get blown away if outside. I just heard the parade was cancelled. This adds to the disappointment that got started last night (Thursday) when the Minnesota Vikings got shellacked. I didn't watch the game, rather I was at Assumption Church to take in the Rose Ensemble performance. The tickets were a little pricey but the show was fantastic. We were disappointed there was no reception afterward. A couple cookies would have made the concert price a little easier to digest.
 
Melrose 3, Tigers 1
The Tigers sang the blues on Thursday, in effect, coming out on the short end in road action. The Melrose Dutchmen (or Dutchwomen) savored the 3-1 triumph. But it was a most hard-earned win for the host. One could easily imagine coach Kristi Fehr's Tigers turning the tables in a re-match. Just look at the scores from Thursday: 21-25, 25-22, 23-25 and 22-25.
The player named Fehr - Karly - racked up 35 set assists in this strong Tiger challenge. Brooke Gillespie had two serving aces and Karly Fehr one. In hitting the list is topped by Lacee Maanum with her 16 kills followed by Kayla Pring (12), Gillespie (12) and Fehr (2).
Maanum performed deftly at the net as shown by her four ace blocks. (The Willmar newspaper spelled Lacee's name "Lacy.") Pring had one ace block. Gillespie was the workhorse in digs with her 27, followed by Fehr with 14 and Pring with seven.
The victorious Dutchmen had Justine Revermann contributing 19 kills. Mattie Meyer had three ace blocks while Emily Goerdt had two. Sandra Sprenger was busy with 38 digs.
Goerdt was Melrose's prime setter and she came through with 26 assists. She also sent two ace serves at the Tigers. Sprenger had one serving ace. Melrose is a kingpin team now with a 14-3 overall record and undefeated numbers in conference.
 
"Don't fence me in"
Are we seeing "range wars" in Morris? Just kidding, and there's no barbed wire involved, but a fence is piquing curiosity among the local citizenry. That rather odd fence in the Coborn's parking lot - excuse me, Coborn's doesn't exist anymore - is requiring some adjusting.
Of course, that parking lot isn't the beehive it once was. Coborn's and McDonald's together once attracted lots of motorists who filled parking spaces. At that time, in the heyday of that spot in Morris, no one much cared about any property dividing line in the parking lot. Both businesses were doing fine. I guess it's different now.
It seems the property owner for the blighted old Coborn's building wants everyone to know there is indeed a property dividing line. Hey it's just a parking lot! It does have value, though, even with the Coborn's building vacated and tumbleweeds blowing out front. It's nice to have that "breathing space" with the ample paved parking.
There's even an old "no loitering" sign on the lot's edge! We should be so lucky as to have loitering on that end of town. To the extent there was ever any loitering out there, it never bothered me. It's even rather nice to see such activity. People and traffic are what a town is all about, or should be.
Now we see a property owner who apparently sees fit to make a statement about how a certain piece of parking space is theirs. Never mind that those interests don't seem to be serving Morris' interests at all right now. It's just vacated, empty space around a rather embarrassing old building with its sign that proclaims "open 24 hours." That would be nice if it were true. Now we don't have a true 24-hour grocery store.
The "for sale" sign has had the name of Dennis Miller on it. It would be nice if this were Dennis Miller the comedian, so maybe we wouldn't have to take these gestures seriously. One look at the fence and you sense there's a conflict afoot.
I suppose McDonald's has been approached about buying the parking space. Is it a fair price or more of an extortion-type price? Who ever heard of a fence in the middle of a parking lot serving no apparent purpose?
It's common for semis, tour buses and school buses to pull in there. The space is now insufficient for all that.
Really, the City of Morris has an interest in this. And BTW, how come City Manager Blaine Hill hasn't put up any new blog posts for several months? Might he feel pressure to try to explain what happened at the library?
I realize that property brings certain rights - it's an underpinning of our way of life. But there's also such a thing as common sense and civility. We're not in a big city where such principles can be disregarded or blown off. We're Morris. We're a Garrison Keillor-type town. We don't need to resort to lawyers for every little thing, do we?
I do know we have an overly aggressive police department. That's actually rather scary. In these days when news reports of trigger-happy police are surfacing, it's concerning. Those dudes carry guns!
We recently learned of a case where a young guy who pulled into a parking lot and took off his seat belt before coming to a stop, was accosted by a law enforcement person who proceeded to shoot him! That officer has been fired and charged. In Ferguson MO the situation has been more murky.
The way Morris Police give seat belt citations is disgusting. I just hope they keep their guns in their holsters. I'd like to see local restaurants stop serving law enforcement personnel in uniform. That would send a message. Perhaps we need a complete housekeeping from the top down.
Will the Homecoming parade be rescheduled? Let's hope.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com