"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)

Monday, December 28, 2015

Let's not all "chime" in at once

Remember how the residents of Mayberry got so excited about the movie crew passing through town? We in Morris could get similarly excited when our fair community was the subject for a page 1 article in the Star Tribune. Wow! Did the Strib ever do any coverage of the whole Craig Peterson thing? I'll assert they didn't. I even called the Strib one day to give them a "tip." Still no coverage of this rather sensational episode. I doubt that our Stevens County Historical Society will preserve any of it.
I don't think the chimes controversy will be preserved in that manner either. Websites like mine - I have two of them - have their niche of preserving all kinds of historical fodder, not just the "proper" stuff. As far as the Strib nixing the Peterson story, my theory has always been: the paper on its own applied its judgment that the severe legal charges were improper and rather weird. A couple is out and about in a consensual friendship, consumes alcohol, ends up at the guy's place, and then. . . Well, you know. Very few style points for this. I have never dated so I have never courted these risks. What a mess.
"Mess" also describes the topic for the Strib's recent page 1 article (and "jumped" to an inside page). Morris is in the Star Tribune! Eureka. The chimes controversy at our local cemetery festered for years, sadly. Public music is not necessary. People can play their own favorite music on their devices at home.
The issues here are so outrageously simple to distill. The public music was pollution. And then we get into a discussion of the merits of the music, as if that had any place. Are we stupid! The powers-that-be should have made sure that the music was turned off long ago. 
The music was for the people visiting the cemetery? Do you think these people really care if there's any music playing there or not? When you get down to it, our cemetery has bigger issues. There should be a fence separating Summit Cemetery from the Catholic Calvary Cemetery. That would be to ensure that there's no misunderstanding about who that "baby" tombstone represents. Most people consider abortion to be settled law.
I'm assuming that the "no trespassing" sign at the cemetery is a Calvary thing, not Summit, but I can't be sure. Why would a cemetery have a "no trespassing" sign? Is the public just supposed to stay out? When I purchased a monument for my family, it was with the idea that I wanted the public to see it. It's a bench monument which I chose because I wanted it to be handy for cemetery visitors.
I was naïve at that time. I hadn't yet realized that visiting the cemetery was impractical for many people. There is a one-lane road through the cemetery. There is a cemetery policy, reported on a small sign, to not drive on the grass. This makes it literally impossible to park at the cemetery. You can't park in the middle of the road. I tried parking next to the road and was loudly upbraided by a cemetery worker on the scene, on July 4. Why was this asshole working on July 4?
I sent an email to Bob Stevenson asking about the "policy" or "etiquette" for parking at Summit Cemetery. I got no answer. I suggest this is because there is no answer.
We had all sorts of trouble after my father passed away. We encountered incompetence on several levels - exasperating. It makes me conclude that my late aunt's approach for her final rites was the only way to go: cremation and nothing else, not even an obituary. If there's life insurance, give that money as memorial contributions to various causes around the community. How about the Morris Area School Foundation?
I was naïve and unprepared when my father died, and I'm regretful. The death industry in Morris is bloodsucking about money, period. You even have to pay to get an obit in the newspaper. What an abomination. The paper would justify this practice on the basis of "we like money," or something like that. There was no charge when I worked for the Morrisons.
I argued recently that the paper should pay the funeral home instead of the other way around. Absent this, how about this procedure: the funeral home could just tell the paper "we're not paying for obits to be in the paper anymore. Many people, more all the time, come to our website to read them. You can publish them if you wish, but we aren't going to pay you. We aren't going to pay you just because you want money."
Let the paper go a few weeks without publishing obits. See what happens. I think funeral homes are under pressure everywhere because people are drifting away, rather rapidly in fact, from the "traditional funeral," the essence of which is "get out your checkbook for the funeral home." They write a number on a piece of paper and then you pay it, somehow. A lot of people must have an extra $10,000 tucked away somewhere. Or maybe they don't.
I recently emailed Willard Wevley, an old classmate of mine now in the funeral home business, suggesting that the biggest challenge in their business is identifying who's supposed to pay for a funeral, and then getting the money from that party. I think that behind the scenes, it's rather arduous.
How about paying a little taxes for a government program that helps defray funeral expenses for everyone? Would you appreciate that?
The cemetery chimes are now gone from Morris. As for the crusader who put them there, I'm reminded of a line from the father of Timothy Hutton's character in the movie "Taps." This gentleman said "(insert name) is proof that horse's asses outnumber horses."
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Please listen to my 2015 Christmas song

Debra Gordon sings my song.
The boomer generation got in the habit of watching certain TV Christmas specials. Back then, you had to be sure to watch at the scheduled time for a particular show. No tapes yet.
One of the specials was about the little drummer boy. It is such a peaceful and inspiring story. So it's ironic that it came out in 1968 when the Viet Nam war was at its height, cutting down the lives of young American men like a scythe. It's also ironic that the U.S. was in this nightmare at the same time those charming and innocent Don Knotts movies came out. Remember "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken?" Remember the line "Atta boy, Luther!" Twig Webster got a kick out of that. We miss the Websters helping orchestrate theatrical/musical projects in Morris. But there still is some talent here, isn't there? I try to do my part. Right, Sharon Martin?
This is the second year that I have written a Christmas-themed song and had it recorded. I invite you to listen to "The Drummer Boy Song." It is a tribute not only to the original drummer boy story, but also to the annual TV special that was so touching. You may click on the YouTube link below:
Debra Gordon sings my song. The song was recorded at the Nashville TN studio of Frank Michels. They do wonderful work. The Nashville music community is boffo. I have had the pleasure of visiting that city three times. I visited Tootsie's Orchid Lounge on Broadway, hoping that some of the famed talent associated with that hangout rubbed off on me!
You get good at songwriting by doing a lot of it. It's the only way. You must have a natural love of the craft. For the coming year, God willing, I'll have some more material coming out. Thanks to Gulsvig Productions of Starbuck for getting my songs online.
The drummer boy TV special was a Rankin/Bass production. We see the story via stop-motion animation. It was originally sponsored by the American Gas Association. We saw it for the first time on December 19, 1968, on NBC. It was aired on NBC for many Christmas seasons. CBS took over for airing it from 1985 to 1988. The show completed the trifecta of TV networks when it aired on ABC into the 2000s.
The longevity was impressive and understandable. I recently discovered that a "restored" version is airing on Channel 30 of the Mediacom system. Thanks to ABC Family Cable Channel, which I think is going through a name change. It's probably the first channel to check for outstanding Christmas specials.
I caught the last portion of "Drummer Boy" on Channel 30 recently. I was disappointed to learn later that this version is heavily edited - ugh. I learn that a fine song sung by the character "Ben Haramad" has been cut completely. The restored version has a sharper picture quality than the VHS tape I acquired years ago. But I get to hear "Ben Haramad" sing. He's the bad guy, and yet he exudes a certain charm like many villains do.
The story made me cry at the end when I was young. OK, maybe it makes me cry even today. The boy's lamb gets divinely healed after the drum exhibition for the "newborn king."
My song's lyrics remind that it's a "myth" you can find this story in the Bible. I had a discussion with Pastor Paul Erdahl about this once. The story is primarily about love and humility. You can be profoundly affected even if you're not real spiritual. I guess I'm not real spiritual.
My attitude about religion was permanently affected when I was young and seeing the abomination of the Viet Nam war. How could people stream into their churches, all dolled up, and hear the Christmas message when our government was prosecuting the pointless and hellish war? I'm sure we were asked to "pray for our troops." I would have preferred to pray for the Vietnamese people. Why was Lyndon Johnson so misguided? One theory today is that Johnson was so liberal in his domestic agenda, he had to show the nation's conservatives that he was "tough" in foreign policy. To hell with "tough" and to hell with conservatives. Hey, we lost the war, guys.
Today we are learning more and more about how we crashed and burned in Viet Nam. Specifically, we are learning about "fragging." U.S. troops were killing each other. "We were killing our own colonels," a panel member on C-Span said.
Our American churches, like my ELCA, should have used their power to try to get us out of the Viet Nam war. So should Billy Graham. Corporate America loved Graham because he helped maintain a docile workforce. He provided the opiate of religion. As for pushing for a withdrawal from Viet Nam, that was a much lower priority.
How can I attend church with all this lodged in my memory?
The Vienna Boys Choir popularized the drummer boy story with a 1955 recording. That was the year I was born.
The story has a poor young boy getting summoned by the Magi to the Nativity. The boy has no material gift for the infant Jesus. He plays his drum which was a gift from his parents. His parents had been killed by desert bandits. The boy is severely embittered. His experience with the Christ child elevates his spirits again. The baby Jesus heals the boy's lamb who was just injured by a careening Roman chariot. I cried as the boy and lamb reunite.
The Three Wise Men have an important role in the TV story. They follow the bright star in the sky. We hear the voice of Greer Garson narrating the story. The shepherds kept watch at night. The boy knows he has no gift fit for a king. But he does have his drum. He asks "shall I play for you?" To which Mary nods her approval, and then the drummer boy plays. Then Jesus smiles.
"Pa rum pa pum pum." This is French for "felix navidad." I hope you listen to my song and enjoy it. I hope Ms. Gordon gets a big record contract sometime. The music business is a tough climb today.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, December 21, 2015

Make way for snowplows?

Mr. Lynn Schulz has something to say about cars being towed in order to accommodate snowplows. It appears UMM students are being nailed by this, causing them to go home for Christmas with maybe some choice cusswords crossing their lips about the Morris community.
Here's my take: We have not had a true winter storm yet. In the event of a true winter storm, we'd all be more aware of the need to move our cars. We got a robo call early in the winter advising about an approaching storm. It didn't seem to amount to much. We have had a couple of what I would call moderate snowfalls. The air will be thick with flakes for a while, or maybe intermittently, but there's no true storm. This is winter in Minnesota. We get snowfalls like this.
Schulz saw many towed cars in the old Valu Ford lot. I guess it costs $118 to retrieve your car. The wise Mr. Schulz sees this matter as a reflection of the longstanding problem with campus/community relations. Is our local government overreacting to what seems like ordinary Minnesota weather? Are Morris officials, including law enforcement, overzealous on some fronts? Don't these officials have enough other important things to think about? Is their vigilance becoming a headache? Just look at the large amount of space taken up by district court news in the newspaper in many weeks.
We have a police department that issues seat belt citations as a primary offense. I know because it happened to me. Police can help collect tons of fine money that goes into state coffers. When I shared some thoughts about this with a city council member (while waiting for our orders at McDonald's), he just smiled and said "revenue." Was he serious? Should that really be the motive for law enforcement? Do elected city officials have any power to control the way law enforcement exercises its powers?
And now we have UMM students suffering because of an overzealous road maintenance policy. Sometimes we in Minnesota have to drive through a little snow. Can't we accept that? Can't we deal with just a little bit of adversity? Is perfectionism starting to become a pain? Thanks to Lynn Schulz for shedding some light on this matter.
I remember when Lynn retired from UMM and they had the usual spring fete honoring retirees at Oyate Hall. At one time, these affairs could become tacky because some retirees would get a standing ovation and others wouldn't. In Lynn's case, some people tried starting a standing ovation but it didn't catch. Jim Carlson, of all people, didn't get a standing ovation. (I'm starting to sound like Red Buttons at those Dean Martin roasts, remember?)
I remember a female employee who I didn't even know, getting an enormous standing ovation, and when I queried later, I recall learning that her union activism was the reason. A pox on all this.
Oh, and I note that the flashing lights on school buses get your attention far better than the old lights. They really shout at you to "stop!" I think a problem was developing of too many school bus stop arm citations being given. Too many? Well, I think it was a problem in terms of people not realizing the absolute need to stop. Didn't a former Morris mayor get two of these citations? In the vast majority of cases, I'm sure, the offending motorists are responsible people who are driving slowly and cautiously.
As a community we cannot allow these citations to be thrown around so liberally. People's lives get affected. There are people for whom the size of the fine itself is a problem. And then, I imagine one's insurance rates would be seriously affected, causing financial adversity. Added to this is the humiliation of having your "name in the paper" and being whispered about by your friends, like at church. 
I recall reading about a couple of these stop arm charges being "dropped." How can this kind of charge be falsely made? Might we have an overzealous school bus driver? Are there school bus drivers who start fancying themselves as law enforcement?
I remember once coming out of the alley going east from the senior center, and seeing a school bus parked in front of the dental building. We would be approaching the side of the bus. I stopped and then got set to turn, but the driver, an acquaintance of mine, motioned to me not to move. Did he save me a stop arm ticket? If he did, bless him. Cautious as I am about this situation, I nearly got in trouble. My general policy is to not go near orange school buses. I'll change my route if I have to. When in doubt, just pull over to the curb and sit there.
But don't park and leave your car if the snowplows might be approaching! Schulz can make a case in print just as well as he plays the accordion.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, December 18, 2015

20-3 run lifts Tigers vs. Milbank SD, here

The Bulldogs of South Dakota crossed the border to play our Tigers on Saturday, Dec. 12. They're from Milbank.
The game was fairly close through the early stages. Coach Mark Torgerson's boys took care of that with a 20-3 run. They could cruise the rest of the way en route to a 68-47 win. It was win No. 5 for the orange and black crew, against one loss.
Coach Torgerson liked the balanced nature of the Tigers' scoring. For the first time this season, the stat report showed four players in double figures. We very nearly had five, as Robert Rohloff put in nine points. It was another day at the office for Eric Staebler whose point output was 17. Lukus Manska put in 13 points, Sean Amundson had eleven and Jacob Zosel ten. Philip Anderson added six points to the mix while Taylor Carrington had two. Manska made all but one of his seven field goal tries.
The Tigers were 0-for-2 in three-point shooting. We led 34-23 at halftime. The defense won a high grade, as Milbank was held below 50 points. Staebler worked the boards for eleven rebounds to lead in that category. Sean Amundson collected seven rebounds, and Rohloff and Manska each had four. Anderson and Ryan Dietz each grabbed a rebound.
Zosel was the top assist producer with seven, followed by Amundson (4), Staebler (4), Dietz (2) and Rohloff (2). Manska stole the ball twice. These Tigers each had one steal: Rohloff, Ryan Bowman, Anderson, Amundson and Staebler.
Senior center Staebler is making inroads with his career stats. Staebler came out of the Milbank game with 1280 career points. This puts him at No. 6 in the history of the program. He won't stay at No. 6 for long. He's set to vault past an old classmate of mine, Gary Lembcke. Kevin Loge sits atop the list with 1938 points.
In rebounds too, Staebler has been a long-time force. He had 704 career rebounds coming out of Saturday. That number put him at dead-even with Brett Winkelman. Loge is the top career rebounder too with 846.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, December 14, 2015

Boys beat BOLD, girls fall to Litchfield

The MACA boys prevailed 57-42 in Friday, Dec. 11, action at BOLD. The MACA girls, playing on Saturday, were defeated by Litchfield 57-52 at the home court.
Other recent hoops action is summed up in a post on my companion website, "Morris of Course." You may read about these three girls games: the win over BOLD (60-46), the loss to Minnewaska Area (55-43) and the loss to New London-Spicer (61-38). Please click on link, and thanks for reading. - B.W.
Boys: Tigers 57, BOLD 42
MACA picked up win No. 4 with this triumph at Bird Island over the Warriors of BOLD. We worked to a five-point edge at halftime, 27-22, and outscored the Warriors by ten points in the second half.
Eric Staebler was a major force with his 26 points. Sean Amundson put in 12 points. Robert Rohloff and Jacob Zosel each contributed eight. Ryan Dietz added two points to the mix, and Philip Anderson one. Zosel made both of the team's three-pointers.
Staebler led in rebounds with eight followed by Anderson with six. Three Tigers each had three assists: Zosel, Rohloff and Lukus Manska. Zosel stole the ball twice.
Two BOLD players each scored eleven points: Thomas Meyers and Mason Mages. Mages connected for three 3-pointers. Thomas Meyers had the team-best six rebounds. Ethan Weis had two assists, and he was one of three Warriors with a steal. Ryan Snow and Meyers each had a steal.
BOLD came out of the night still in search of its first win. MACA owned a 4-1 mark, 2-1 in conference.
Girls: Litchfield 57, Tigers 52
Halftime was a stalemate when the MACA Tigers hosted Litchfield on Saturday, Dec. 12. Each team had 26 points at halftime. But it was Litchfield who pulled away in the second half to defeat our Tigers 57-52. Litch got its fourth win.
Three Tigers each made two 3-point shots: Riley Decker, Becca Holland and Correy Hickman. Hickman topped the scoring list with her 12 points. Riley Decker made double figures with her ten. Then we have Holland (9), Nicole Solvie (8), Moira McNally (6), Ashley Solvie (5) and Jenna Howden (2).
The West Central Tribune did not specify which Solvie - Ashley or Nicole - led in rebounds with eight. Holland collected five rebounds and Hickman had four. Hickman produced six assists followed by Holland with four. Hickman stole the ball three times.
For Litchfield, three players scored in double figures: Haley Euerle and Macy Huhner each with 13 points and Savanna Pater with 12. Huhner made two 3-pointers while Kayla Peterson made one.
Wrestling: a Saturday invite
The MAHACA wrestlers traveled for the West Central Area/Ashby/Brandon-Evansville Invite on Saturday (12/12). Why don't we straighten out some of these name issues? Why can't we simply call our team "Morris Area?" This would do a tremendous service to people outside our area who may not know what "MAHACA" is.
We may think it's cute to just say "mahaca," pronounced phonetically. I think it's odd. The name ought to be helpful in understanding where this team comes from, seriously. The Saturday meet should be named for the town where it was held, rather than having a strung-out list of town names. I'm surprised this practice has lasted as long as it has.
"Towns" and their names don't have the significance in our society that they once did, not in our highly mobile, interconnected world.
West Central was the top team in the Saturday wrestling affair. "United" was second. We should all be so lucky as to be "united." The Tigers were eighth among the eleven teams.
Dalton Rose went 0-2 at 106 pounds. Ben Travis had a 2-1 afternoon at 113 pounds. Gideon Joos went 0-2 as the 120-pounder. Jared Rohloff took sixth place at 138 pounds with his 1-3 showing. Trenton Nelson took third as he won three matches and lost one at 145.
Travis Ostby went 2-1 for second place at 152. Philip Messner had a 1-2 showing at 160 pounds. At 170 it was Matt McNeil with one win and two losses. Toby Sayles placed fifth with his 2-2 record at 182 pounds. Steven Koehl placed fourth, winning one match and dropping two at 195 pounds.
Gage Wevley as the 220-pounder was able to place sixth despite not winning a match. And at 285, Toby Zeltwanger won three matches and dropped one to place third.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Fan mail from some flounder? It's a delight

Occasionally I get a certain type of email that really warms my heart. Someone, somewhere uses search to discover a past blog post I've written. Earlier this week I heard from a fellow who had been costumed for a "Midnight Madness" event at the UMM P.E. Center back in 1993.
"Midnight Madness" was the official start of men's basketball practice. It was a good promotional opportunity for the program. Then-coach Perry Ford never missed a good promo. The costumes really enhanced the affair. At one point coach Ford called forward a young man dressed as Elvis - the "late" Elvis. Thus we saw the white jump suit. It was very authentic-appearing.
"Elvis" got the microphone for a couple minutes and I was quite amused. Imagine, Elvis paying a visit for UMM basketball! The voice came across with the kind of bravado we'd expect from Elvis. Two or three years ago, I wrote a blog post reflecting on the Perry Ford era of UMM men's basketball. I would call this "the good old days" of UMM sports because we played opponents who were known quantities. We played schools in the State University system. Everybody knows what Moorhead State is. I'm not so sure about Pillsbury Baptist et. al.
In my post I reminisced about that long-ago Midnight Madness gathering. I remember photographing a student dressed as a gremlin with his arm around the shoulder of Chuck Grussing of UMM campus security. This was in the days when campus security people were more personable and relaxed, capable of sharing in a good time and not being all-business. In the community, it was the days when we didn't have to fear being pulled over by police for no seatbelt. Seatbelt was a secondary offense for a long time. Seatbelt laws could never have gotten through the various state legislatures as a primary offense.
Even when cops got more aggressive, I figured they still wouldn't pull over an elderly couple on their way to church Sunday morning. Today the cops will stop at nothing. I'm inclined to believe Bill Maher when he says "high school losers become police officers."
My blog post reminisced about the young man dressed as Elvis. I guess that touched my funny bone. The fellow who wore that costume found my blog post. He emailed me with appreciation, which brought a smile for me. He found his wife-to-be at UMM, he informed me. He had superlatives to describe his UMM experience.
The headline for today's blog post reads "Fan mail from some flounder?" That's from the old "Bullwinkle" cartoon, remember? Heh, heh.
The good old days of UMM sports, as I describe it, was not 100 percent good. Fans were not always courteous to the visiting student-athletes. Sometimes the chest-thumping about UMM's suggested superiority as an academic institution came forward in a putdown, Neanderthal sort of way, and I felt embarrassed. Sometimes I think Jack Imholte encouraged that notion of inherent superiority that UMM students ought to feel about themselves. I certainly don't think he discouraged it.
I personally felt there were times when UMM, specifically its security department, could have done more to tamp down the less-than courteous behavior of UMM's student sports fans. I remember hearing reports from credible sources once, about a young man from this part of the state who had been a UMM recruit but allegedly had some academic obstacles, who chose another school in our conference, then came here to play basketball and was abused with horrible heckling about his "lack of intelligence." There should have been some intervention. Is it so important for UMM to win, that you have to do this sort of thing? Is it sport or is it some sort of tribal ritual?
Although I don't attend UMM sports today - the price of pizza got too high (LOL) - I strongly think this problem has faded away. One reason is the competitive level of our opponents. Should you really thump your chest about beating Pillsbury Baptist? But there's probably more to it than that. UMM administration has probably recognized the need to promote a higher level of civility. I suspect that a fundamental cultural change has come about.
As for future cultural changes, we may have to start anticipating the elimination of UMM's football program, just as football overall is going to start evaporating across the USA. Put sentiment aside - this simply has to occur.
Changes like this can be slow to happen. The facts have all come out and been displayed for the public: the facts about football's unacceptable risk of permanent health damage. Many of us have trouble grasping the inevitable logical consequences of this. Our sons must find new activities to replace football - shouldn't be hard at all. In theory it isn't, anyway. But we come up against the legacy lure of football in our culture.
Abandon football? Many of us would say it's just too drastic. But it isn't. Change is rolling along. Think back to the times when it was perfectly acceptable to drive drunk. Oh yes it was. I was present for some Shriners conventions (as a musician) back in the day. Ray Stevens put out an album called "Shriners Convention." The Shriners probably still have those conventions. But I suspect they are much more businesslike and orderly.
In the old days, a cop might peer into the window of your vehicle and say "are you sure you're in good enough shape to get home?" Wow, a sea change has happened since. And BTW, Mothers Against Drunk Driving is no longer run by mothers, it's run by lawyers! Mothers will have something to say about football. Women have a natural instinct of wanting to preserve life.
The rolling effects of change are coming for the sport of football. It's just a matter of how long it will take. Football will wilt to the point where it's associated with the southeastern U.S., primarily, with players coming from a dysfunctional family background. They will be cannon fodder for our entertainment, until football finally reaches the mere fringes.
BTW the name of the "Elvis" person is Curt Rees!
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A poem to recall career of Rusty Staub

Baseball fans my age grew up with Rusty Staub, "Le Grand Orange." That moniker was attached when he went to Montreal to star with the first-year Expos. This was the second expansion team for which he was an inaugural "darling." He was a fuzzy-cheeked "bonus baby" when starting out with the Houston "Colt .45s." The Colt .45s? Yes, that was the name that launched the franchise destined to become the Astros.
Staub should be a Hall of Famer considering his distinctions. He had over 500 hits with four different teams. He is one of only three players to homer both as a teen and at over-40. I recently wrote a reflective post about Staub for my companion website, "Morris of Course." Here's the link:
I have written poetry to honor the career of "Le Grand Orange." Actually it's song lyrics with the verse portion to be performed narration-style, no melody. A man would perform the verse and a female voice would sing the chorus. So, the song would have the exact same structure as the 1970s hit "Convoy" (C.W. McCall).
I don't know if I'll have the song recorded. I develop song or poetry ideas all the time, and sometimes I'll have a song recorded.
I invite you to read the words I penned about Rusty Staub, in "The Ballad of Rusty Staub."
Rusty Staub just did the job
With that wooden tool
Baseball was his stock in trade
With his bat he ruled
Houston gave him his first chance
When that team was young
Not yet in the Astrodome
Far below top-rung
Rusty had to pay some dues
But his talent wowed
All he needed was some time
Then his bat grew loud
Astros weren't his destiny
Just a stepping stone
He would play for four more teams
Always in the zone
He arrived in Montreal
As a new day dawned
All the fans would christen him
As "Le Grand Orange"
Rusty played the game he loved
With his bat he rose above
Even in the Great White North
Rusty sold his favorite sport
Learning French to mix with fans
Just for friendship's sake
Would his Expo days grow long
Or would he pull up stakes?
Baseball has a heartless air
It can make fans sob
Expos got three decent guys
In exchange for Staub
Now it's on to NYC
Once again he fit
Hitting frozen ropes once more
Showing fans his gift
Then the Motor City called
Tigers in the wings
With that A.L. team he starred
Making his bat sing
Two hits in the All-Star Game
Upped his stock once more
Now he's in the DH role
Sizzling like before
(repeat chorus)
Texas was a short detour
Then he went on back
To the Mets where he displayed
Pop in that old bat
He would pinch-hit like a god
What a specialty
Stepping from that dugout strong
Slugging for his team
He had homered as a teen
And at 40-plus
We could count on his big frame
Never gaining rust
He departed from the game
In nineteen eighty-five
Stats would show his bat was gold
All along that ride
Maybe he could make the Hall
He had quite the brand
Even if he came up short
Fans would love that man
(repeat chorus)
He was in the boxscore
All throughout the years
Booomers came to see his name
Standing out so clear
Even in that agate type
We could feel that pulse
Coming from that potent bat
Rusty wielded much
Astros, Mets or Tigers
And in Montreal
Rusty showed his prowess
There to see for all
No he was no Mantle
With his pedigree
He was just a steady force
Making history
(repeat chorus)
(repeat chorus - modulate)

Monday, December 7, 2015

Tigers overcome ACGC and Colton Minnick

Tigers 80, ACGC 63
The home gym had a festive air Friday (12/4) as the MACA boys took care of business with an 80-63 win. It was the third triumph for coach Mark Torgerson's boys. We had to overcome the offensive prowess of ACGC Falcon Colton Minnick. Minnick accounted for 32 of his team's points, plus he pulled down seven rebounds.
But MACA had plenty of firepower to overcome Minnick and his mates. That firepower was led by Eric Staebler who scored 28 points and collected 16 rebounds. He added seven steals to the mix. The MACA weapons caused momentum to grow in the second half.
Lukus Manska connected three times from three-point range. Sean Amundson made two long-rangers, and Robert Rohloff and Jacob Zosel made one each. Zosel was tops in assists with five, followed by Rohloff and Amundson each with four. Staebler with his seven steals was followed by Amundson with three.
Here's how the scoring broke down: Staebler (28), Zosel (17), Manska (13), Rohloff (12) and Amundson (10).
Minnick made ACGC's only three-pointer. He obviously dominated the scoring department. One other Falcon scored in double figures: Adam Johnson with 12 points. Minnick snared seven rebounds. Erik Belgum had four assists, and Gabe Eisenbacher had two steals. ACGC came out of the game with a 2-2 record.
Girls: Tigers 51, Ortonville 35
The Tigers took command in girls basketball Thursday (12/3).
Home fans were delighted seeing their Tigers get their first win which was at the expense of Ortonville. Coach Dale Henrich's squad raced out to a 31-10 lead at halftime. That sealed the outcome, so it didn't matter that Ortonville had a 25-20 advantage in the second half. We came out of the night at 1-1.
Ashley Solvie was an offensive cog with 17 points. Correy Hickman put in nine points and Moira McNally eight. Then we have Riley Decker (eight points), Becca Holland (5), Nicole Solvie (2), Jenna Howden (1) and Liz Dietz (1).
Decker connected twice from three-point range. Holland was a force on the boards with her eleven rebounds. McNally had nine rebounds, and the list continues with Ashley Solvie (8) and Hickman (7). Holland and Hickman co-led in assists, each with eight. Holland and Hickman set the pace in steals, each with five.
Rachel Hoernemann was Ortonville's top scorer with 12 points. Jaiden Conroy made two 3-pointers for the visitor. Alisha Ross and Hoernemann each made one '3'.
The final score in this non-conference contest was 51-35.
Boys: Tigers 61, NL-Spicer 53
It's always a plum for MACA to defeat New London-Spicer. The Morris Area Chokio Alberta boys achieved such a plum Thursday night. The Tigers, spurred in the second half by Sean Amundson, downed the Wildcats 61-53. The Tigers won as the visitor.
Amundson poured in 16 of his game-total 21 points in the second half. The orange and black came on strong in the second half, outscoring the Wildcats 36-25. We had trailed by three at halftime, 28-25. Amundson and Eric Staebler were a 1-2 punch in scoring. Staebler had the team-best total of 23 points. Amundson with his 21 was followed by Lukus Manska (8), Philip Anderson (4), Denner Dougherty (2), Jacob Zosel (2) and Robert Rohloff (1). Manska made two 3-pointers and Amundson made one.
Amundson and Zosel each had two assists. Rohloff stole the ball twice. Staebler grabbed 12 rebounds.
Brandon Adelman was NL-Spicer's top scorer with 12 points. He and Jackson Ness each made two 3-pointers. Jacob Klavetter, Mitchell Halvorson and Jaden Hansen each made one '3'. Derrick Laudenbach collected 13 rebounds and three assists, and Halvorson had three steals.
The Tigers came out of the night at 2-1. New London-Spicer is having a sputtering start at 0-3.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, December 4, 2015

Dick Allen's amazing career, in poetry

The player known as Dick Allen started out as Richie. He was an immensely exciting baseball player in the 1960s and '70s. He was Richie as a rookie with the Phillies in 1964, the same year our Tony Oliva was so electrifying in the American League. Allen and Oliva put up monster stats in their respective leagues.
I invite you to click on the link below to read a reflective post I wrote on Allen recently, on my companion website "Morris of Course."
The purpose of my post today is to share poetry. My poem doesn't just focus on Allen - it tells about the 1964 Philadelphia Phillies, their quality and their ultimate collapse. It also refers to the most storied episode of that collapse, the steal of home by Chico Ruiz of the Cincinnati Reds.
Allen would play with several teams through his career. He came to the American League through a trade with the Chicago White Sox, and legend has it he saved the White Sox franchise for that city's south side. He was strong and powerful. As a rookie he played third base.
I invite you to read my "Ballad of Dick Allen" which could be presented as a song, narration-style. I could compose a brief chorus if need be. What a story! Here we go:
Baseball had a bat that roared
Back in 1964
Phillies had a rookie prize
He could give that ball a ride
Richie Allen was that man
He won over Philly fans
Giving them abundant fun
As he pushed in many runs
He had numbers right on par
With the finest superstars
Aaron, Mays and Ernie Banks
Welcomed Richie in their ranks
Phillies nearly took the prize
As their rookie mesmerized
Allen and his gallant mates
Were a favorite in the race
All that luster washed away
As that team began to fade
Was it luck or was it fate
Keeping them from being great?
It would be a famous slide
When the pennant was denied
Philly fans had been so sure
That their heroes would endure
Still they had the joy to see
Richie Allen's rookie seeds
With that bat he carved a niche
Giving fans those mem-ries rich
Allen kept on wowing them
Posting sterling stats again
On and on his bat showed pop
Finding stardom toward the top
But the time arrived for change
With his team and with his name
He would help the Cardinals tick
And his name would now be Dick
Then he donned the Dodger blue
For one season with that crew
Never mind the place he was
He showed lumber full of buzz
Playing on that team with Wills
Brought the L.A. scene some thrills
Then the White Sox made a bid
For that man so strong and big
Now he's in the A.L. scene
With the Pale Hose, adding gleam
With the Sox his star would grow
He was deemed a real savior
Sox were rumored to be ripe
For a move to some new site
Rumors sprouted and were heard
Like about St. Petersburg
Allen's presence gave new life
Like a wind gust for a kite
Watching him just wave that bat
Made boys wear a White Sox hat
On the south side, pride was high
Allen's bat just opened eyes
Windy City felt that love
Keeping White Sox with the Cubs
Allen earned the MVP
Home runs of such majesty
Out toward places out of reach
For mere mortals or the meek
You would think that team would find
Any way to keep that guy
Still a conflict came along
With Ron Santo doing wrong
Allen's feud with that old Cub
Made him seek a new ball club
Fans in Philly tipped their hat
When they heard he's coming back
Though his body felt a toll
Passing years and getting old
He amazed at Qualcomm Park
With a homer way, way out
Legend grew and got passed down
Of Dick Allen, such renown
He transformed the game he played
Ending with the Oakland A's
His last year was at the peak
Of the disco music beat
What a lengthy, thrilling ride
Allen's talents had supplied
I collected baseball cards
As a kid those names were large
As I sifted through a pile
Allen's name sure brought a smile
First he's Richie, then he's Dick
He might sign his name as "Rich"
Never mind, it's not germane
To the way he buoyed that game
He could sing a doo-wop tune
At the night clubs he did croon
His voice had a tenor tone
High, delicate it was known
Maybe he'd be in the Hall
If the Phillies won it all
Back in 1964
When the Cardinals slammed the door
We can play the "what if" game
Pondering what we ought to blame
Like that fateful steal of home
By that little Cincy gnome
Chico was that fellow's name
He gained legend in that game
Did he leave a curse that stuck
That the Phillies could not duck?
Allen stayed at his young peak
In the face of that loss streak
He kept playing like a star
Even with the team sub-par
Chico with his little size
Caused the Phillies to capsize
Somehow there's a moral there
For the fans who want to care
People, let the truth be known
History changes with a gnome
Ours is not to wonder why
We're just here to mop and dry

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Tigers come up short in Dec. 1 basketball

MACA was on the short end in boys and girls hoops on Tuesday night. The boys had the Melrose Dutchmen as their foe. The Tigers were humbled in first half play, falling into a 39-17 hole by halftime. The Tigers got their ship righted in the second half, outscoring Melrose 46-39. But the first half Melrose onslaught was too much, and MACA saw its record get evened to 1-1. The final score: 78-63.
Melrose came out of the night at 2-0. The Dutchmen had a truly big-time player when I was in high school: Mark Olberding. On Tuesday the Tigers faded partly because of the frequent 3-point makes by the Dutchmen: eleven in all. Dylan Haider and Drake Meyer each had four long-range makes, Adam Van Beck had two and Jordan Klaphake one.
Haider was Melrose's top point producer with 25. Meyer was a force, burning the nets for 20 points. Van Beck and Tyler Braegelman each scored 13 for the victor. Brady Birch scored five points, Colton Meyer four and Klaphake three.
But hey, I've just added up the points and I get 83, not 78. Again there's a glitch in the Willmar newspaper's reporting, just like for the Tigers' previous game. This is frustrating. Maybe teams should establish their own home pages and oversee the reporting on their own terms.
Braegalmen collected a team-best six rebounds, and Haider led in both assists (4) and steals (4).
Eric Staebler was the leading force in MACA scoring as he typically is. On this night his 30 points weren't enough to spell victory. Nor were his four 3-point makes enough. He certainly built his reputation another notch. Perhaps Morris Area Chokio Alberta will need to seek a little more scoring balance.
Philip Anderson scored ten points and Sean Amundson nine. The list continues with Robert Rohloff (7), Tim Travis (3), Jacob Zosel (3) and Lukus Manska (1). In three-pointers, Staebler's efforts were complemented by Amundson and Zosel each with one make.
Staebler's six rebounds topped that list. Staebler and Zosel dished out seven and six assists respectively.
Girls: Osakis 56, Tigers 45
Osakis has one of my favorite team nicknames: "Silverstreaks." Osakis was the opener opponent for Morris Area Chokio Alberta on Tuesday. Playing here, coach Dale Henrich's squad was dealt a 56-45 defeat by those Silverstreaks. Osakis built a ten-point edge by halftime, 36-26, and cruised in the stalemated second half. The second half had a low-scoring complexion.
Beccca Holland made two 3-pointers and scored 13 points for MACA. Correy Hickman scored 12 points and Moira McNally nine. The list continues with Nicole Solvie (5), Ashley Solvie (4) and Jenna Howden (2). Top rebounders were Holland (9), McNally (6) and Hickman (5). Hickman and Holland each had three assists, and Hickman stole the ball five times.
For Osakis it was Alecia Kaelke topping the scoring list with 16 points. Three Silver Streaks each sank a 3-pointer: Morgan Staloch, Abby Stroup and Lauren Savageau.
Christmas season intensifies
Christmas shines with its vitality between Thanksgiving and the magical date itself. When I was a kid, the day after Thanksgiving was considered a decent day to shop and it was just common sense. We saw no need to make a mania out of it: "Black Friday." And now we have "Cyber Monday" and "Small Business Saturday."
There's a person in Fargo leading an effort to get main street stores to be open on Sundays, all the time. It's about time someone made note of this. The big box stores with their substantial hardware departments are open on Sunday, while the traditional little main street hardware stores aren't. It's a head-scratcher. I suppose it's a reflection of blue laws, seen as more and more quaint.
The Morris newspaper prior to Black Friday was loaded with a ridiculous number of those ad circulars. This is a head-scratcher for me. The papers brag about how many circulars they are offering their customers. So I suppose it's good for the papers. But if I'm an individual advertiser, I'd be concerned that my circular would get lost in the shuffle. Who on earth is going to page through all that crap and then drive to Alexandria and spend hundreds of dollars all over the place? And if you did, would all that "stuff" really make you happy?
It's odd because we now live in a time when communications are so easy and economical because of the electronic media. And yet we seem to be showered with those ad circulars more than ever. It seems environmentally stupid.
I suppose people still buy the Morris paper so they can see if anyone they know got a seat belt citation from police. It feeds the gossip mill and isn't good for much else. If enough people stopped buying the Morris paper, maybe it would just disappear.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota -bwilly73@yahoo.com