"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)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

UMM men's chorus music preserved online

How grand they were!
I had forgotten how thrilling it was to listen to the University of Minnesota-Morris men's chorus.
Men's chorus? Many of you might not know such an entity existed. It was a headlining attraction at our campus in its earliest years. It put out a vinyl record album. Director Ralph E. Williams took them to two World's Fairs, in Seattle and New York. Wow! They wore maroon blazers.
I am pleased to now have about 40 minutes of their music online in three YouTube posts. You will see many archived UMM images. Part 1 is the highlight because it includes the "UMM Hymn" which was written by Williams. Williams wrote this at UMM's inception along with the fight song.
I invite you to click on the link below which is to Part 1 of this trilogy. Parts 2 and 3 can be found using the standard search methods.
I don't recall the exact year when the UMM men's chorus ceased to exist. Why did it become defunct? It's not hard to speculate. It was exclusive by definition. Advocates of such a chorus would say men's voices have a certain quality that makes such a group defensible. This makes sense to a degree and there was a time when society would not have quibbled. The term "political correctness" did not exist in the 1960s.
had its start in 1960. Our family came here and put down stakes. UMM's first dean, Rodney Briggs, wanted my father Ralph Williams to write both the Hymn and fight song.
We don't hear the Hymn very often any more. Ken Hodgson directed it for a Garrison Keillor appearance a few years ago. The UMM Hymn with all its sentiment was right up Keillor's alley! I remember him starting the applause before the last note ended.
It would be nice to hear the Hymn for graduation again. It might even make me get out my checkbook for UMM music next fall. Just saying.
John Stanley Ross wrote an arrangement of the Hymn maybe ten years ago. I think that was for both the band and chorus. I was very busy working for the newspaper in those days and I have to admit I didn't hear it. Is that arrangement still in the UMM library?
Click on the link below to read a post I wrote about the UMM men's chorus trip to the Seattle World's Fair in 1962.
Click on the link below to read a post about the trip to the New York World's Fair in 1964.
Click on the link below to see a photo of my mom and I at the New York Fair, with the grand "Unisphere" in the background.
The UMM men's chorus opened the Minnesota Day festivities for the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. One of the men's chorus members was James "Doc" Carlson who would go on to create the UMM Jazz Festival. The Fest under Carlson was just as important in its time as the men's chorus was in its time. I would suggest there were generational differences in the appeal of the two. The men's chorus was traditional and structured with a sense of uniformity and discipline. There was that "political correctness" issue - men only - that older people of the mid-20th Century didn't give a mind to. My father was a military man from WWII.
Lots of things changed in the late 1960s through the '70s, obviously. Jazz was more celebrated by cultures of color. The musicians could dress "grubby" and no one cared, in contrast with those maroon blazers of my father's singers. The military-style discipline was pushed aside.
The young generation developed reservations about the military culture and its discipline, due to the horrible unraveling of the Viet Nam War. "Do your own thing" became our collective mantra.
We had the celebrated generation gap.
For the record, my father had pointed reservations about the Viet Nam War. Though he'd never join an organized protest - people of his generation were temperate - he expressed skepticism around the house. He had been a gunnery commander in the Pacitic theater in World War II.
The Viet Nam war was nothing like the "good war" of WWII. I use quotes. There is nothing good about any war.
We can try to find nostalgia about UMM's early days despite the horror of the war and conscription in the background. How wonderful that decade might have been without that war. At any rate, the UMM men's chorus under Ralph Williams was truly wonderful. No one can ever dismiss that.
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be, as they say.
Listen and enjoy. You will definitely enjoy it.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Willmar paper begins "shaming" coaches

I noticed something unusual in the West Central Tribune last week. The paper relies on sports coaches calling in game information. Not surprisingly, there are times when not all coaches call in. It seems there has been a fall-off in wrestling coaches calling in.
For the first time on Tuesday (4/12), I noticed an attempt by that paper to "shame" coaches who do not call in. It happened again Friday. My first reaction: this is bush league and actually rude. The paper relies on the good faith of coaches for calling in. In other words, coaches do it if they feel comfortable doing it.
There was a box on the second page of the sports section pointing out teams whose representatives did not call in. For one thing, how can the paper be absolutely certain those teams played the night before? Spring sports schedules are notorious for being flimsy. But let's assume the games got played. Why place any special pressure on those coaches to call in? They do not have any formal or official relationship with the West Central Tribune.
What is the West Central Tribune? It is not an extension of the area public schools in any way, shape or form. The West Central Tribune is a private business that is mainly concerned with selling advertising. It is owned by the same company that owns the Morris newspaper. The Morris paper is of course known for giving us piles of advertising for non-Morris businesses.
These papers do have a news department. It's fine for them to invite sports information. But it is not defensible, in my view, for the paper to act like they are entitled to game reports, as if a coach might be sanctioned for not calling in. The sanction would come in the form of being given a hard time from sports parents. Coaches are already susceptible to this.
We now see a box in the Willmar paper with the words "game reports not received from. . ." And then teams are listed.
Why might a coach choose not to call? Well, they're exhausted to a certain extent once the game is done. The responsibility of calling in that info is an added dose of pressure. They feel pressure to try to make sure everything is correct. I assume they delegate a lot of the statkeeping work to students. That work can be irregular in quality, I assume.
The biggest problem might be the obligation to submit information for the opposing team. OK, are coaches even required to compile info for the opposing team? What if they simply choose not to? Do they have that right? What if a student statkeeper just isn't up to it? Sometimes people will just shrug and guess at names. When the Morris Legion baseball team took second in state, the article on the Monday following the championship game, besides being totally mediocre, spelled Mac Beyer's name "Mac Beier."
It is very common to add up individual point totals from a WC Trib basketball game review, and have that total not match the team total. Often I'll point this out in my blogging. Sometimes I just don't bother.
So, if a coach at game's end is tired, discouraged, not confident in his statkeeper's information, or has some other reservation, he might be inclined to just skip "calling in" to the Willmar paper. You can argue that is a dereliction on a minor scale, but the paper should not "shame" this individual by reporting in large-size type that a report wasn't submitted.
Several years ago when the MACA football team beat Paynesville in a game for the ages, the review in the Willmar paper was so bad, it was beyond parody. For a few hours I had some of that errant information on my blog site. Then Lyle Rambow emailed me a heads-up. I corrected some of the most egregious stuff, like the name of the Tiger who caught the winning touchdown pass. Astonishingly, the Morris paper used the same wrong info in its paper that came out on the Saturday following.
Could you imagine me, if I were still at the paper, just sitting there all week and not bothering to correct any of that info? Obviously it was the Paynesville coach who called in that info. Obviously he wasn't in a very good mood after that game. He was probably in a mood for kicking over chairs when he entered the locker room. And that's the person we're depending on for reporting our precious MACA football information.
It wouldn't matter much to me now, because I'm done with the sport of football. The health revelations about the sport are too alarming. It is immoral for any family to allow their sons to play football. Human Services should intervene.
Coaches should have the flexibility on whether to call in to the West Central Tribune. Who elected the Willmar paper to do this anyway? Maybe the Willmar paper should just cover Willmar sports, including Ridgewater, along with communities that are very close.
All coaches have the option of initiating a coverage system online, like having a "home page" for their team. I wish more coaches would pursue this.
MAHS band program feeling squeeze?
I'm writing this on Saturday morning, after having been to Willie's for my free coffee (in a Willie's mug) and a creme-filled bismark. I glanced at the front page of the Morris newspaper. So, there's an advocacy movement for MACA band, apparently in response to possible austerity moves? Why else would people be speaking out?
I can't say enough for the MAHS band program with Wanda Dagen. It deserves all the resources it has been getting, maybe more.
Good grief, I hope Wanda isn't on the bubble again for being let go, based on budgetary pressures. This has been a periodic headache for our school system. In fact, isn't this the way the Morris Area School Foundation got started? Didn't it get started to ensure that Ms. Dagen would stay here? Morris legend has it that a local physician cut a big check. Too bad it has to come to that.
I have an idea: cut the football program. The boys can play soccer on the old school playground - ideal for that purpose. Soccer could be supported by some entity other than the school. It could be intramural - so what? It could be semi-informal.
The revelations coming out about football, in terms of health dangers, are absolutely shocking. We cannot just shrug and glibly say, "well, boys enjoy football, and I enjoy watching it." Get your own head bashed in a few times.
The consequences of football may not show up right away; they may set in when you reach your 40s, 50s or 60s. At a certain point it becomes tragic. I will be blogging soon with more details about this. My newest research is from Fox News which is hardly some tree-hugging outfit. This is serious.
Let's put aside football permanently and make sure music gets its proper support in school. It is infinitely more valuable.
Softball: Tigers 12, Paynesville 0
It was no contest as the MACA Tigers beat Paynesville 12-0. Fans at the home diamond had many opportunities to cheer, especially in the fourth inning. Tracy Meichsner had a hot bat and in the fourth, this Tiger connected for a two-run triple. Sam Henrichs socked a two-run double in the fourth. Lexi Mahoney produced an RBI double. In all the Tigers scored eight runs in the fourth.
The big rally was en route to the 12-0 final score. Our line score was 12 runs, nine hits and one error. The Paynesville numbers were 0-4-2.
The Tigers took care of business in five innings with Kayla Pring pitching the whole way. She struck out seven batters and walked one while giving up four this in this shutout. Kayla Schaefer was the losing pitcher. Brooke Caldwell also pitched for Paynesville.
Turning to the MACA offensive stats, Lauren Reimers had a hit in her only at-bat. Meichsner's triple was part of a two-for-three showing with four RBIs. Henrichs' double came in her only at-bat, and she drove in two runs. Mahoney's double came in her only at-bat, and she drove in two runs.
Carly Zimmel had a two-for-three line with a double, and Lindsey Dierks went two-for-three with a double. Emma Stevens had two hits for the green-clad Paynesville crew. Lexi Skoglund and Ashley Eisenbraun each had one hit.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The unforgettable Twin Tony Oliva: "Tony O."

I was surprised to learn that Tony Oliva played in three Twins games in 1961. It was only spring training. Oliva was his usual self, getting seven hits in ten at-bats. Unfortunately this talented young man had not been schooled enough in outfield play. As a kid he played with family members and neighbors on a vacant lot near the family farm. This was on the island nation of Cuba.
Anyone who collected baseball cards learned that "Tony O." was a native of Pinar del Rio Province, Cuba. Collecting baseball cards was like an extensive geography lesson. The minor league cities got impressed on our minds. These are cities we never would have heard of otherwise. Like Wytheville. Part of Oliva's climb to the bigs was with the Wytheville Twins in the Appalachian League. How did he do there? At any time in his life, did Oliva struggle at the plate? At Wytheville he batted .410 in 64 games. But alas, his fielding hadn't made much progress. This deficiency was a millstone around his neck, eventually to be corrected.
Oliva played winter ball in Puerto Rico, and of course kept ripping the cover off the ball. He joined Charlotte, a Class A minor league team in the South Atlantic League, and batted .350 in 127 games. He socked 17 home runs. He played for the Twins again, up "for a cup of coffee," as they say, and guess what? He ripped the cover off the ball, batting .444 in 12 plate appearances. This was in 1962! He would not come to the forefront of fans' attention until 1964. He went from obscurity to a full-fledged star in '64.
All of a sudden us Twins fans were wide-eyed watching the exploits of our "Tony O." I think the "Tony O." reference was promoted mostly by Herb Carneal, long-time broadcaster. We all loved Herb but I think at a certain point, he should have retired. Some people just can't let go.
The powers-that-be decided for some reason that Oliva still wasn't ready in 1963. I suppose these guys know what they're doing.
Tony was invited to spring training. He became friends with Zoilo Versalles. Alas, those fielding deficiencies must still have evidenced themselves, because Tony didn't stay with the big club. Instead it was off to Dallas-Fort Worth. At least this was at the AAA level, in the Pacific Coast League. He was disappointed. He had a slow start but finished with a .304 average with 23 home runs and 74 RBIs. Again he was called up for that "cup of coffee" with the big club. And oh my, he sizzled with a .429 average in his handful of at-bats.
In 1964, "Pinocchio became a real boy," as it were. He catapulted to stardom. He won Rookie of the Year and the American League batting title.
A tip of the hat with music
I am pleased to have written a song about the great "Tony O." He was a defining part of the boomers' childhood in Minnesota. My song lyrics refer to other defining personalities like "Casey Jones," Vern Gagne, Halsey Hall and Earl Battey.
I throw in a reference to "Francis," Fran Tarkenton, quarterback of the Vikings in boomers' memories. I doubt that anything promotes warmer memories than the reference to Tony Oliva or "Tony O."
Here is a link to the YouTube posting of my song. I invite you to listen.
Yes, they're mortals
Nearly all sports heroes have an element of sadness attached to those memories. That is because they are human beings with limitations, both in terms of their basic human nature and the body's frailties. It was the latter that surfaced with Oliva. As a person he was exemplary.
My friend Del Sarlette has always been struck by Oliva's lack of grasp with the English language, considering how much of his life he has spent in the U.S. But that's no biggie.
Tony O. incurred severe knee, leg and shoulder injuries. He had seven knee operations. Plus there were hand and neck problems along with chicken pox and car accidents. Whew! His family back in Cuba could not travel here to watch him play.
I have always been troubled seeing that Oliva played all 162 games in his rookie year of 1964. Was that really necessary? Wouldn't an occasional rest have been good for his body? Did all those demands take a toll that caught up to him later?
In '64, "Tony O." led the A.L. in batting, hits, doubles, total bases and runs scored, and was second (by one) in triples. He had a loose grip on the bat which caused the bat to sometimes fly from his hands, remember? He won the batting title in his first two seasons. He almost made it three in a row. Through the end of July in 1966, he was tops in batting average at .328, but he fell into a three-for-30 slump. He ended up second in batting to Baltimore's Frank Robinson who won the triple crown. He did lead the league in hits with 191.
Twins were known for power
On June 9 of 1966, Oliva was one of five Twins hitting a home run in a single inning! We truly were known for our power bats. As a young fan I was most impressed by all that power, but I wasn't so much aware of all the other strategic nuances of the game. For all the offensive prowess the Twins possessed in 1964, for example, would you believe we finished only in a tie for sixth?
We won the pennant in '65 precisely because manager Sam Mele decided to develop those other nuances of the game - taking the extra base, advancing the baserunner and stealing, for example.
Tony Oliva is an iconic part of baby boomers' memories in Minnesota. I'm delighted to have written my song and to be able to share it on YouTube. The song was recorded at the Nashville TN demo recording studio of Bob Angello (Angello Sound Studio). It's a simple recording with just guitar and voice. If it's a good song, it does not need an elaborate backing. I certainly hope it's a good song.
"We Called Him Tony O." What memories. He has come to Morris as part of the winter Twins caravan. He is a total gentleman. I hope this song gets to his attention, and maybe he can share with other family members.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, April 20, 2015

Girls play errorless ball in 10-1 triumph

MACA shot out to a 7-0 lead in the third inning and never looked back. The orange and black prevailed 10-1 at the New London diamond. Not only did we plate ten runs on 12 hits, we played errorless ball, while New London-Spicer committed four errors.
It would be fun if we could show this kind of superiority in basketball. See, the NL-Spicer players put their pants on one leg at a time, just like us.
The Tigers rallied for seven runs in the third inning and added one each in the fourth, fifth and sixth. NL-Spicer scored its only run in the sixth.
Tracy Meichsner wielded a monster bat. Tracy had two triples and a double and drove in three runs. Becca Holland had a three-for-four afternoon. Lindsey Dierks had an RBI as part of going two-for-four. Abby Daly drove in a run and had a one-for-two line. Brooke Gillespie rapped two hits in four at-bats and drove in two runs. Lauren Reimers added an RBI to the mix, and Sam Henrichs went one-for-two.
Kayla Pring pitched the distance and set down seven Wildcats on strikes. She walked just one and gave up six hits.
Olivia Christopherson allowed 12 hits as the Wildcats' pitcher, but she was hurt by the shaky defense around her. Four of the ten runs she allowed were unearned. She struck out four batters and walked three.
Six NL-Spicer batters each had one hit: Mya Rohman, Espi Austvold, Alyssa Fredrick, Megan Thorson, Jordin King and Christopherson. Austvold's hit was a double.
Baseball: split of a twin bill
The Tigers and Dutchmen met for a day of doubleheader baseball on Thursday, April 16. The site was our Chizek Field. MACA prevailed over Melrose 11-6 in Game 1. Melrose turned the tables in Game 2, prevailing 7-2.
Game 1
Toby Sayles was the pitching winner with a stint of four innings. Just one of the six runs he allowed was earned. He struck out three batters, walked three and gave up two hits. Sean Amundson pitched three innings, fanned two batters, walked two and allowed two hits and no runs.
Tyler Braegelman took the pitching loss. Tyler had a stint of three innings and got roughed up. He allowed six hits and seven runs (five earned) while fanning two batters and walking three. Colton Meyer pitched two innings and got rocked. Colton allowed seven hits and four runs, all earned.
MACA got a 2-0 lead in the first inning but Melrose erupted with a six-run rally in the second. MACA got its ship righted with three runs in the bottom of the second, then took steps further with five runs in the fourth and one in the fifth. Our line score was eleven runs, 13 hits and two errors. The Melrose numbers were 6-4-4.
Nate Anderson ripped two hits in three at-bats, drove in two runs and scored two for the winning Tigers. Nic Solvie had a three-for-four line, drove in a run and scored one. Sean Amundson ripped a triple and scored a run. Trent Marty and Philip Messner each went one-for-three. Marty and Messner each drove in a run and scored one. Sayles gave a push with his two-for-five line and two runs scored. Riley Biesterfeld went three-for-four and crossed home plate once.
These four Melrose batters each had one hit: Tyler Braegelman, Colton Mayer, Hunter Rademacher and Mitchell Waldvogel.
Game 2
Melrose got the upper hand with a 7-2 final score. Melrose had a line score of seven runs, seven hits and one error while MACA's numbers were 2-4-5. Melrose's biggest inning was the fifth: four runs scored. Meyer was the winning pitcher and fanned four batters. Anthony Welle also pitched for the Dutchmen.
Biesterfeld took the pitching loss. Amundson pitched two innings for Morris Area Chokio Alberta. Our four hits were produced by four different Tigers: Noah Grove (with a double), Sayles (with a run scored), Trent Marty and Brady Jergenson. Meyer went two-for-four for Melrose.
Make note of the "5" in the MACA line score - that's for errors. That had to hurt.
Viva Morris Area Chokio Alberta baseball and softball in the spring of 2015!
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, April 17, 2015

Tiger softball: twin bill sweep vs. Melrose

MACA showed superiority on the diamond Thursday in softball action. The Tigers showed superiority in both ends of a doubleheader. We swept Melrose. The score was 11-1 in game 1 and 13-3 in game 2.
Game 1
After a scoreless first inning, MACA took charge. Coach Mary Holmberg's squad put up two runs in the second inning, four in the third, three in the fourth and two in the fifth. The Tigers outhit the Dutchmen 12-3.
Kayla Pring was the winning pitcher and also made noise with the bat. In pitching she got the win with three shutout innings. She fanned seven batters, walked none and allowed one hit. In hitting she socked a home run.
Brooke Gillespie pitched two innings, and in hitting she made noise with a triple. Becca Holland's bat resonated with three hits in four at-bats. Lauren Reimers socked two doubles. Tracy Meichsner had two hits in three at-bats. Abby Daly had a hit in her only at-bat. Lexi Mahoney and Sam Henrichs each added a hit to the mix.
Three Melrose batters each had one hit vs. the stubborn MACA pitching: Kayla Austing, Sandra Sprenger and Abby Hinnenkamp. Sprenger took the pitching loss. Rose Johnson also pitched for Melrose.
Game 2
Tracy Meichsner stood out with her batting in the 13-3 Game 2 win. Tracy had four hits in four at-bats and drove in three runs. MACA had ten hits total.
Lauren Reimers was quite in the zone with her hitting - typical for this Tiger - as she tripled and homered. Lauren drove in four runs. These Tigers each had one hit: Becca Holland, Lindsey Dierks, Carlie Zimmel and Brooke Gillespie.
Three Melrose batters had one hit each: Kayla Austing, Emily Tschida and Abby Hinnenkamp.
The pitching winner was Kayla Pring with her four innings of work. Kayla struck out five batters, walked none and gave up two hits. Gillespie pitched one inning, walked none and gave up two hits. Morris Area Chokio Alberta had a line score of 13 runs, ten hits and two errors.
Baseball: Tigers 4, Paynesville 3
A big fourth inning helped lift the MACA boys to victory on the baseball diamond on Tuesday. The site was Regal for this April 14 affair. That's in the vicinity of Paynesville.
The Tigers rallied for three runs in the fourth against the Paynesville Bulldogs. MACA carved out its first win of the season with a final score of 4-3. Brady Jergenson was quite in the spotlight. Brady made his mark both with his bat and on the pitching mound. He had two hits in three at-bats.
MACA had six hits while Paynesville had seven. Riley Biesterfeld socked two hits in four at-bats. Noah Grove went one-for-four and Nate Anderson had a one-for-three line.
Jergenson pitched the whole way. He struck out five batters and walked three in his seven innings. He allowed seven hits and three runs (earned). Matthew Quade and Andrew Kerzman pitched for Paynesville with Quade taking the loss.
MACA scored its fourth run in the fifth inning. Our line score was four runs, six hits and one error. Paynesville had three runs and seven hits and hurt themselves with three errors. Nick Dingmann had two hits for the host Bulldogs. These Bulldogs each had one hit: Trent Gertken, Quade, Kerzman, Colin Riley and Mitch Weidner. Paynesville scored one run each in the first, third and sixth innings.
Softball: Tigers 20, YME 0
The Morris Area Chokio Alberta softball team prevailed Tuesday (4/14) in a game that was rather unfortunate because of its one-sidedness. Normally a win would be cause for satisfaction. However, the 20-0 final score seems rather sad because of the futility on the losing end.
Obviously only five innings were played. The Tigers pounded out eleven hits for those 20 runs. One might suspect that errors were in play but no - according to the line score, YME had just one fielding miscue. MACA too had just one error according to the boxscore. (The Sun Tribune once had an editor who was puzzled by my use of the term "fielding miscue.")
MACA out-hit YME 11-0. So it's a no-hitter, combined, for MACA hurlers Kayla Pring and Brooke Gillespie. The game was over after one inning. MACA was up 10-0 after one inning. MACA went on to score two runs in the third, one in the fourth and seven in the fifth.
Becca Holland had a reliable bat with her two-for-four numbers including a double. Becca drove in two runs and scored four. Piper Gibson was a perfect two-for-two with two ribbies and three runs scored. Lauren Reimers wielded her homer bat and she had a two-for-three line. Lauren scored two runs and drove in four.
Kelsey Voges went one-for-two with two RBIs. Tracy Meichsner was a perfect two-for-two with both her hits doubles. Tracy scored two runs and drove in two. Abby Daly went one-for-three. Gillespie drove in two runs while going one-for-three.
Pring pitched three innings and got the win, while Gillespie hurled for two innings. Pring struck out four batters and walked none. Gillespie set down one batter on strikes, and walked none.
Mariah Norell took the pitching loss for Yellow Medicine East. Courtney Cuka and Jordan Glad also pitched.
Let's hope the pleasant spring weather continues!
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Something afoot with "NorthStar" at UMM?

My source at MPR tells me there's "movement" on the subject of "NorthStar." So, something is happening but I honestly don't know what.
I have shared extensively on this topic but have not done so for a while. I haven't given much thought to "NorthStar" since late last year. I really had nothing new to offer in my blog writing. I had said all I could think of.
In some cases, once you've made all your points, you just have to shrug and move on. You have to admit to yourself that the other side has in effect won, and that in this case, the UMM administration sees NorthStar as a perfectly reasonable, legitimate communications vehicle on the UMM campus. 
NorthStar purports to be "libertarian." There's nothing wrong with that. A student-run publication should lift the "marketplace of ideas" ideal on the campus. It should be thoughtful and helpful with its motives. I have not seen "NorthStar" in that light. It appears to be a bull in the china closet.
I realize that college-age young people can get these impulses. But at a certain point, adults need to impose their mature judgment and encourage restraint. It is my opinion that adults never got involved to intercept this unacceptable behavior on the UMM campus. Apparently something now is happening. That would be fine but it's belated.
The Minnesota Daily on the Twin Cities campus editorialized on the assumption that NorthStar was a typical student publication which, although edgy, deserved its place on campus. I wonder to what extent the Minnesota Daily people researched the subject.
The First Amendment has never been applicable with this. Many people invoke the First Amendment in situations where it doesn't apply. It would only apply if the government were threatening prosecution based on the thoughts or ideas being presented. The First Amendment cannot prevent the editor of a publication being fired.
Is the "NorthStar" a student organization? If so, does it have a faculty advisor? Might an advisor with seasoned judgment encourage a more civil and thoughtful tone with the publication's content? I don't mind reading libertarian ideas at all.
The NorthStar announces on its cover that the first copy is free but it'll cost you $5 for any more. Does UMM have a policy on whether a student publication can charge for single copy sales? What is the method of collecting the money? Where would you go to pay? Is there a process for making sure the money is deposited in some appropriate place?
It seems clear to me that the $5 charge is not what it appears to be. The NorthStar knows there will be certain individuals out there who will be tempted to confiscate the publication, based on the offense taken. The NorthStar has great power - it is allowed to place its own newsstands around campus. It is not some website where you can voluntarily visit, depart or ignore.
I have suggested in the past that the people behind "NorthStar" ought to just go online. Offensive material seems less threatening online.
To my knowledge, NorthStar is one of two student publications operating under the imprimatur of UMM. That's quite a platform. Last spring there was an issue with a huge cover photo of a well-known feminist with a caption suggesting simply that this person is ugly, and is a typical-looking feminist. This is not responsible communications.
I noticed that the NorthStar newsstands seemed empty on the day of the UMM graduation. I wonder if the administration had enough leverage to ensure this. The NorthStar has been a disrupting and unfortunate phenomenon on the UMM campus for the past couple of years. If something is finally happening now, to do something about it, fine. But why did it take so long?
The University Register is totally consistent with UMM's values. If you want to call those values liberal or progressive, fine. Maybe UMM is an institution that in fact projects those values, because progressive values tend to be based on fact and reason, whereas conservatism turns more to impulses and emotions. You have to stand for something.
A libertarian publication done responsibly could exist indefinitely on the campus and not ruffle feathers. It would be an interesting diversion. It would not be on the level of a junior high cafeteria food fight. It would not be on the level of junior high boys' banter in the lavatory.
There are people who wish to promote UMM, who are concerned about such printed tripe being given credence of the campus. Listen, I believe in the "higher education bubble" theory which could spell ominous challenges for higher education down the road. We mustn't create or allow our own impediments in the meantime.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Tigers edged on baseball diamond, 4-3

Play ball! The curtain opened for a new season of Morris Area Chokio Alberta baseball Friday (4/10). There was a tense ending. (Jim Tanner never liked it when I used the word "tense" in sports articles.)
The Tigers made a strong bid to win at the end. We had the tying and winning runs in scoring position. The inning was the seventh. We had already pushed across three runs in that inning. Problem is, we had scored zero runs in the first through sixth innings.
New London-Spicer had four runs on the scoreboard. Two of those runs came in the top of the seventh. NL-Spicer would need those runs. So, with MACA having the potential winning runs on base, NL-Spicer really needed pitcher Josh Soine to come through. He came through indeed with a strikeout for out No. 3. MACA was dealt a 4-3 loss.
The NL-S success in the top of the seventh came on a double, an error and sacrifice fly. MACA was determined not to get shut out in their season opener. MACA summoned momentum in the bottom of the seventh with RBI hits off the bats of Philip Messner and Jared Anderson. NL-S also committed an error. Each team had four errors for the game.
The hit totals were six by the Wildcats, five for the Tigers.
Soine was preceded on the pitching mound by Austin Nelson. Nelson hurled for 6 1/3 innings, striking out four batters, walking five and allowing four hits. One of the runs he allowed was unearned. Soine got the 'W' next to his name in the boxscore.
MACA coach Mark Torgerson handed the ball to Noah Grove for starting pitching duties. The one run that Grove allowed was unearned. He was in command much of the time, striking out seven batters. He walked three and allowed three hits in his three innings.
Sean Amundson had a brief pitching stint. Toby Sayles finished up on the hill. Toby set down four Wildcats on strikes and walked one. He allowed two runs, both of which were unearned. He allowed three hits in his four innings.
Five Tigers each had one hit: Riley Biesterfeld, Grove, Philip Messner, Nick Solvie and Jared Anderson. Messner's hit was a double and he drove in a run. Solvie and Anderson both had a hit in their only at-bat, and Anderson drove in a run.
Isaac Goetzman wielded a potent bat for the visiting Wildcats. Goetzman went three-for-four with a double and scored two runs. Wyatt White and James Magnuson both went one-for-four. Soine had a one-for-three afternoon. Jaden Hanson didn't have a hit but this Wildcat drove in two runs.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, April 6, 2015

Let's embrace the grackle as spring symbol

The agreeable grackle
The months of March and April, much as they present a harbinger of more agreeable weather, are really non-descript. Let's admit it: Many days are no more palatable for outdoor activity than in the depths of winter.
The temperature isn't quite warm enough. The wind is totally hostile. The ground is muddy. One hardly feels like taking a bike trip out by the Pomme de Terre River. I congratulate those hardy souls who have done that.
People get excited about seeing the first robin. My father had a special fondness for the grackle. I suspect very few people have an attachment to that black bird. I can see why my father did. They show up in groups. They enthusiastically go after any bird feed you put out. They seem full of energy. They are such a sure sign of spring. Where have they been all winter? Their arrival means we can feel assured that winter's gray days are fading.
I am watching a bunch of grackles in our back yard as I'm writing this. There are juncos too. Juncos hang around in winter.
Niemackl Park near Herman is a great place to observe birds. There is a cacophony of bird sounds there. I have heard that if you're lucky, you might spot a scarlet tanager there. We have had an indigo bunting in our back yard. My biggest thrill was to see a "gray jay" visiting us a few years ago. It was well out of its normal range.
There is an iridescent blue tone toward the grackle's head. Look closely and you really will see an aesthetic splendor. I'm sure their long black tail helps them fly with precision. The bright golden eyes make them endearing. We're delighted in the summer to see the "little grackles" hopping toward their parents, flapping their wings and getting attention so they might be fed.
The female builds the nest. Couples have two broods per year. The eggs are greenish white with brown markings. The incubation period is 13-14 days. Grackles are present year-round along the southern edge of Minnesota, otherwise these birds wisely head south. 
The grackle usually nests in small colonies of up to 75 pairs. It is a farmer's companion, feeding out in the fields. The name comes from the Latin word "graculus," meaning "to cough," for its loud raspy call. Look for them flying in a very level fashion rather than undulating up and down. It holds its tail in a keel-like position during flight. It has large mouth muscles for prying crevices apart to locate insects.
I have found Niemackl Park to be a terrific place for observing the yellow-headed blackbird. It's call is a trademark: low, hoarse, raspy or metallic. We learn the bird nests in deep water marshes, so maybe that's consistent with the environs around Niemackl.
One negative for bird watching at Niemackl is wood-ticks. I had to pull over to the side of the road on my way home from Niemackl once. I had to deal with those most unsavory pests. Grassy trails are reportedly bad news for picking up ticks.
The red-wing blackbird prefers more shallow water in its environment. The red-winged can of course be a hellish nuisance with how it can "dive-bomb" people. Watch out for this along the service road heading to McDonald's on the north edge of town. I mentioned the problem at McDonald's once, whereupon Oscar Brandt smiled and scolded me: "You're getting too close to their nests!"
Blackbirds don't inspire feelings of romance among people, not like robins. But I'm rather inspired by my late father to feel excited by the initial sight of the grackles in spring. He's smiling from heaven.
I'm writing this post during the Minnesota Twins' 2015 opener. As a kid I was hugely excited about the major league baseball opener. Right now the only reason I'm watching is for a lack of alternatives on the tube. I still haven't been to Target Field. I suspect the price of concessions there is exorbitant. I remember in the book "Ball Four" by Jim Bouton, about the 1969 season, he cited prices for various things at the Astroworld Hotel, Houston, and he thought they were outrageous. They were outrageous at the time. Today they'd hardly raise anyone's eyebrows.
Frankly I can't fathom why so many people spend so much money watching baseball games. I say this as a long-ago fanatic for the sport. I got emotional about the game. Today I'm relieved not to feel that kind of pull any more. It's a relief not to have your emotions invested in a sports team.
Whatever, it is spring. We're still in that non-descript time of year before we can really revel in warmth. Call it a twilight time or buffer time. The grackles stimulate our senses. I welcome them more than I welcome Opening Day. They remind us of the reliable change of seasons. It's an assurance that life goes on as it should.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Santorum and Gov. Pence put sex on our minds

Rick Santorum has said pornography should be taken off the Internet.
Santorum is a perennial presidential hopeful on the conservative end. He's not quite a member of the "clown car," where he'd be in with Michele Bachmann. But he's conservative enough that we can dismiss him as a viable candidate.
"Conservatism" is a fungible term. To some extent we'd all like to consider ourselves "conservative." We must be careful with our resources. We need to stimulate free enterprise. At some point of course, the gap between rich and poor, between the haves and have-nots, needs to be addressed. Republican conservatives can never be counted on to do this.
When Democrats talk about the wealth gap, they are decried for engaging in "class warfare." Now, the Republicans are starting to talk about it, because there's just no avoiding it. Where's the "class warfare" tag now?
But in the meantime, Republicans have another priority that they are seeking to push. This matter has sprouted mainly in Indiana. Does Mike Pence speak for all Christians? Is this what Christianity is all about?
The clergy community everywhere is watching closely. That's because the so-called fundamentalist Christians have for too long been able to identify what Christianity stands for. The trend began in the mid-1980s. I remember a Baptist couple in Morris MN that was a textbook example. I won't type their name here.
Governor Pence along with many conservative Indiana lawmakers devoted precious time to crafting a so-called religious freedom measure. Pence is now saying it gives no license to discriminate. Why, then, is this law even needed? I see no impediments out there for churchgoers to do their thing. The Morris MN churches don't seem boxed in by any unreasonable constraints.
Government needs to be helping all of us get greater opportunity for a good life. Right wingers would say "liberty" is an absolute, yet the likes of Santorum want to regulate the Internet by trying to remove pornography. Right away we're reminded of the judge who gave the famous quote about how "I can't define pornography but I know it when I see it." It's really not a laughing matter.
If you're a man, think about when you first began discovering your sexual impulses. Surely these memories aren't pleasant. Maybe things are better today. Maybe there are fewer restrictions on males, or females too, learning about such things.
Joe Scarborough has addressed this in an interesting way. Joe co-hosts the early morning show on MSNBC. He talked about when he was young and how he was probably age 14 before he even saw an image of a naked female body. Boys would get ahold of Playboy magazine. Of course, you would die if your parents ever discovered you had one. Which points to the fundamental problem. The naked human body should be no big deal. Why is such mystery and shame associated with this?
Mr. Scarborough shifted his thoughts to the present, where we now have the Internet, and kids can access those taboo images quite conveniently. The result? Kids actually become weary of all this. They have become numb to it. They become indifferent. A male who looks at porn with great frequency over a short period of time gets sick of it. In effect, he gets these nagging sexual thoughts out of his system. This is a wholly good thing. Porn quickly becomes a grotesque thing. We wonder why it ever stimulated us.
With this distraction removed, we can move forward contentedly in our lives, focusing on the things that matter. And yet the likes of Santorum want to enforce the old Victorian, regressive notions about sexuality, just like Gov. Pence is locked in a regressive set of attitudes about sexual orientation.
As boys we went to Annette Funicello "beach" movies which seemed to be deliberately teasing adolescent boys with sexual images. No one had prepared us for this.
We'd pass around "contraband," i.e. a father's Playboy magazine, and feel nervous about it. My God, what if we were "discovered?" What a waste of mental energy (to apply discipline with this). Pornography probably provides a service, assuming we can keep minors away from producing it, although it's strange that once you reach a certain birthday, overnight, you're OK for it.
Porn helps men get sex out of their system. They aren't torn with frustrations over it. It becomes irrelevant to them. There are images easily accessed online that would have made us and our parents faint in an earlier time. Why? I'll repeat something I wrote before, about the mystery attached to sex: perhaps it's evidence, after all, that human beings are a hybrid species - an offshoot of space aliens mated with Earth primates.
There, now you understand those Annette Funicello movies. Annette herself wasn't all that sexual - the moviemakers couldn't have the heroine in that mold. But she had quite the "supporting cast."
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com