Wednesday, December 31, 2003

2003 Blogs of Distinction

Should old blog posts be forgot and never brought to mind?

Without question, yes. But never let it be said that we always did the right thing. And in that spirit we present to you our 2003 Blogs of Distinction Awards.

Why are we presuming to pass judgment on the world of amateur opinion editorializing? Well, why not us? This year, blogging awards have proliferated on the Internet like flashing, pulsating, popping ads on TwinsGeek.

Worse yet, these unregulated arbiters of blogging excellence keep giving top recognition to the likes of that whiny kid from Star Trek and Hugh Hewiitt. (No, they're not the same person.) The laughable injustice of these awards has compelled us to act.

In summary, us presenting blogging awards may be a bad idea. But it's a bad idea whose time has come! So, without further ado, here are the official 2003 Blogs of Distinction. To all winners please remember, we kid because we love. (Except for the City Pages blogs - we don't love them.)

Blogger Most Likely to Be Visited by the Homeland Security Department (or a Psychiatric Team)

WINNER: City Pages editor Steve Perry for his charming "Bush Wars". It was Perry's sidekick Mark Giselson who penned this insight into the fevered mind of our local alternative weekly:

In my heart, I still believe in revolution. In my heart, I still think I have the 'nads to put my life on the line for a cause. In my gut I think this is the only way we'll ever achieve our goals of economic and social justice. But in my head, I want to win the next election so we don't have to have a revolution.

Giselson also wins the Most Anatomically Confused Metaphor Award for claiming to think with his heart about his 'nads.

Worst Obsession by a Blogger

RUNNER UP: Jack Sparks, The Other Side of Country. It's pathetic enough to obsessively drool and devote your creative energy to an unattainable fixation (see Saint Paul in re: Cathy Wurzer). It's a whole new depth of depravity when the object of your jock sniffing is Big Ditch Road.

WINNER: JB Doubtless, Fraters Libertas. For, among other reasons, his continuous barrage of unsolicited emails to Jack Sparks, telling him what a depraved jock sniffer he is.

Blog with the Most Delusional Self Image

WINNER: The Blog of the Moderate Left, for swaddling itself in the robes of moderation, while featuring commentary like this (his permalinks are down, scroll to October 28):

Christ Almighty, What an Asshole

There are times for politeness, and times to be blunt, and now is a time to be blunt. Our President is a cocksucking liar, who is willing to blame our own soldiers in order to make himself look better.

Geez, If this guy gets any more moderate, I think it's going to be an FCC violation.

Most Pretentious Blogger or Blog Name

RUNNER UP: Joshua Micah Marshall at Talking Points Memo. We don't care if that is your real name, you can't possibly expect to use and it not come off sounding like a pompous ass. Can we just call you Josh? If yes, then we'll be able to decide if that pompous ass thing is actually your real personality.

WINNER: Fraters Libertas. For employing Latin in their title in an attempt to distract people from the fact most of their material is based on talk radio observations and fast food reviews. More pathetic yet, when confronted with irrefutable evidence that "Fraters Libertas" is, in fact, incorrect Latin, they cited established "brand identity" as the reason for not correcting it.

Best Link to a George Will Column

WINNER: A 42-way tie, all earned by our esteemed Northern Alliance colleagues at Power Line. Fans of the well scrubbed, bow tied pundit can rest easy, because if they ever forget how to find George Will on the Internet, these Ivy League Linkers will get them there. Sometimes two or three times per week.

Best Link to a Mark Steyn Column See above.

Best Link to a Charles Krauthammer column See above.

Best Link to a Victor Davis Hanson column See above.

Worst Appearance on National Radio by a Blogger

RUNNER UP: Tie, for the befuddled utterances of Kathryn Jean Lopez from NRO's Corner and the silence and Bartolo Colon affirming quotes from the Elder, Fraters Libertas. Both appearances courtesy of the Hugh Hewitt program (he books the best guests).

Due to overwhelming popular demand, neither of these individuals will be giving a speech at the award ceremony.

WINNER - The Atomizer of Fraters Libertas, for a complete hour of beer soaked, monosyllabic utterances on the (guess what) Hugh Hewitt program at the MN State Fair. According to reports, his performance was so bad some elderly Fair goers thought that they had accidently stumbled upon the Missing Link sideshow exhibit.

Blogger Whose Mouth Wrote Checks Their Ass Couldn't Cash

RUNNER UP: James Lileks, the Bleat. He gets cut some slack due to the overall excellent quality of his writing. But do we have to hear about every time he's too busy for a full Bleat? And the promise of more tomorrow? We know you're a busy man James, what with the multiple columns and all (you don't by chance have any children, do you?). In the future, no excuse is necessary. You owe us nothing.

WINNER: Mitch Berg, Shot in the Dark. If Mitch did nothing for the next six months but blog he still wouldn't make up for all the promised material that never showed up.

Blogger Who Just Can't Decide To Stick Or Stay Away for Good

RUNNER UP: Sedalina. We love her and all and are very happy she's back, but all this dramatic departure and return stuff is killing us. However, it's not killing us as much as the fact that she's able to get more chicks in six weeks than Saint Paul has gotten in two years.

WINNER: Rachel Lucas - whose tortured, self-absorbed deliberations about whether or not to hang up her keyboard got old very fast. And continues to age with each passing week. Verne Gagne didn't quit and come back as many times as Lucas did this year. And he did it with much more dignity.

Worst Ideas for Generating Revenue With a Blog

RUNNER UP: The Blog of the Moderate Left, for asking his readers to provide $150 so he and his wife could go out to dinner. (Scroll to December 18):

I was a participant in the Youth in Government program, and for the past twelve years I've served as a volunteer. This year, YIG is celebrating with a gala dinner, and I'd like to go and take my wife. Unfortunately, the dinner is $75 per person, and I just can't afford that what with a 16-month-old daughter. So what I'm asking for is help. If you like the site, take a second to drop some money in the tipjar.

WINNER: Tacitus. For coming up with the idea of traveling to Iraq. Then asking the readers to pay for it. Then asking the readers to come up with a reason for him to go in the first place.

Send me to Iraq!

Seriously, I'll go. Don't think I'm kidding, either. I'm not sure what I'd do there -- I guess I could write about it like I did Africa. And I'm not sure who would pay for it -- if you really want me over there, you're going to have to pitch in on that count.

I'd also want a serious statement of purpose on why I was going: your vision for my travels.

If you really want a warblogger in the war (although, really, there are already plenty of those if you know where to look), here's your chance. Start brainstorming.

We don't know who Tacitus is, but we're fairly sure he doesn't have a career in sales.

Blogger Whose Unchecked Navel Gazing Reached Egomaniacal Levels

RUNNER UP: Mitch Berg, Shot in the Dark. For referring to himself in the third person while setting his personal tastes as the standard for cinematic excellence:

it's not easy to take books that Mitch Berg found completely unreadable (I made it through about 20 pages of "Fellowship" before I put it down for good), and turn them into movies that are not only monumental and epic, but genuinely touching on a human as well as philosophical level.

WINNER: John Hawkins at Right Wing News for the posting of his Favorite 100 Movies Of All-Time.

The internal struggle he went through debating the merits of #70 Face-Off and #71 Pet Semetary must have been truly epic. Here's a sneak peek at Hawkins' next effort, entitled "My Favorite 100 Pastas Of All-Time":

10) Pennette Rigate
9) Farfalloni
8) Penne
6) Capellini (tie)
6) Fettuccini (tie)
5) Orecchiette
4) Conchiglioni
3) Linguine
2) Spaghetti
1) Egg Noodles

Worst Color Scheme in a Blog

WINNER: SCSU Scholars. Sunlight may be the best disinfectant, but that yellow background color looks like the phlegm a malaria victim might cough up.

Most Disgusting, Uncreative Post about a Bodily Function

RUNNER UP: Rambling Rhodes, for a detailed description of the intestinal after effects of Mexican seafood (scroll to December 22).

WINNER: Rambling Rhodes, for his ode to his own flatulence (scroll to December 8).

Subtlety, thy name is not Rambling Rhodes. Which brings us to our least subtle category ....

Bloggers with Names that Sound Vaguely Pornographic

RUNNER UP: Spitbull.

WINNER: Hindrocket, Big Trunk, and the Deacon from Power Line. No wonder these guys get so much attention from Andrew Sullivan.

And that's the year that was in blogging, 2003. Happy New Year! And days of auld lang syne.
He Get's High On....Life?!?

Yesterday talk radio host Hugh Hewitt made the following confession:

"I used to mainline on Up With People."

I gotta believe that is the first (and God willing the last) time the words mainline and Up With People have been used in the same sentence.

Here's a great Simpson's bit on the subject:

Announcer: And now, get set for our fabulous halftime show, featuring the well-groomed young go-getters of `Hooray for Everything!'

Homer: Oh, I love those kids. They've got such a great attitude!

Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, `Hooray for Everything' invites you to join them in a salute to the greatest hemisphere on earth, the Western Hemisphere! The dancingest hemisphere of all!

Our Day At Bushwood?

Over at the DNC blog, Kicking Ass, whose motto should be "come for the silly, immature name-stay for the silly, immature content", the natives have become quite restless of late about the gents at Power Line. Here's a snippet from one ass kicker named Ed Farley that Powerline noted yesterday:

"Then, of course, there is the matter of Republican sites not allowing the profane to add informed commentary to their lovely country club blogs. It would seem that even they must know of the knuckle-dragging, Rush Limbaugh fed, race-baiting reactionary baboons attracted to the banner of the Grand Old White Peoples Party these days."

This is absolutely outrageous and truly despicable.

You guys belong to a country club and haven't invited us? Sure Atomizer would probably end up puking in somebody's Porsche, JB can be a bit loud and obnoxious at times (with or without his plaid pants), and it's true that Saint Paul would spend most of his time leering at gray haired ladies as they bend over to putt, BUT STILL we're supposed to be friends aren't we? That whole Northern Alliance of Blogs thing has to count for something doesn't it?

It's not like we're asking you to take us out on the links or anything. You do have a pool at your country club don't you? Pool or a pond. Pond would be good for us.
Rapper's Delight, Readers' Lament

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse .... the Star Tribune starts rapping.

In what I presume is a light hearted attempt to summarize 2003, fussy, middle-aged white guy Bill McAulife tries to channel Tupac Shakur. (And if McAulife isn’t a fussy, middle-aged white guy, my apologies for stereotyping. In my defense I was profiling based on the fact he raps like a fussy, middle-aged white guy).

But even amid the light-hearted rapping, the Star Tribune is able to get it’s holiday message through. The title of the piece? Rapping up 2003: A year of despair.

Ed over at Captain’s Quarters (an accomplished poet in his own right, even for a middle aged white guy), does a fine job of further analyzing this embarrassment.

I’d like to see Ed tackle some of Bill McAulife’s previous verse. Like his 2002 Waltz. Or his 2000 Poem. Please compare and contrast and tell me how either of these differ in structure and style from his so-called rapping.

UPDATE: The Bard of the Northern Alliance, Captain Ed, accepts the challenge of analyzing the back catalog of Strib poet Bill McAulife. This is a huge act of pubic service on Ed’s part, since just reading the the poetry of Bill McAulife is more of a challenge than most are willing to take.

Thanks for taking the bullet on this one Ed. And rest up, since the doggerel of McAulife appears to be an annual Star Tribune tradition, we’re going to need your services again one year from today.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Atomizer Likes His Chicken Spicy

Atomizer plans a January trip to Las Vegas with his lovely bride-to-be.

Atomizer discovers soon afterwards that Las Vegas may be targeted by terrorists.
Atomizer is getting worried.

Atomizer discovers that it is snowing on the Las Vegas strip a week before his arrival.
Atomizer is getting upset!

Atomizer has reverted to uncontrollable third person references to himself.
Atomizer is losing it!!

That's Entertainment

From last week's City Pages, Paul Demko provides a musical recommendation:

Big Ditch Road's debut album "Ring" is the finest slab of roots rock to be produced in these parts in the last 12 months, owing to Darin Wald's ache-sodden vocals and Brian O'Neal's equally woebegone pedal-steel work. And anyone who's lived through a Minnesota winter can comprehend gravel-voiced troubadour Ben Weaver's lament on "The Ocean Ain't Blue": "All I know is that it gets so dark sometimes I can forget that I've got eyes."

Ache-sodden, woebegone, gravel-voiced lamentations? That does sound good. Do you think it's too late to get Ruben Rosario a Christmas gift?
Collect The Whole Series

Just in time for the New Year we are proud to release the latest in our line of Hugh Hewitt action figures. This one depicts Hugh in his role as Minnesota Commissoner of Hockey, wearing the maroon and gold and skating with the legendary Hanson Brothers:

Some of you were disappointed that you didn't find a Hewitt action figure under the tree this year, but fear not, we still have a few of the initial run available and a host of new models are planned for the future.

Coming soon: Hugh as Minnesota Master of the High Horse. Includes My Little Pony for Hugh to ride.

(Thanks to James Phillips for designing Hockey Commissioner Hugh)
The Terrorist In The Mirror

Two months I was browsing in a Barnes and Nobles (yes, the evil corporate giant-I believe I also stopped off at the adjoining Starbucks Cafe for a cup of java while there- buwah! buwhah! buwah!) when I noticed the 2004 Almanacs were out. I hadn't purchased an Almanac since my college days when they were a staple of my bathroom reading material. But in order to sharpen my trivia skills, and seeing as how they were selling for ten bucks a pop, I decided to pick one up.

When I'm at work I like to get out of the office for lunch. On most days I'll bring a lunch with me and eat it at my desk while working. Then, when I have a chance, I'll head out during my lunch hour, usually to a local park. I will then listen to the radio, read, or write in or near my car (weather permitting). It's nice to have reading supplies on hand so I try to keep a couple of books in the car at all times. My recently purchased Almanac is one of the books I have in my car now.

One of the nearby parks that I like to frequent is across the street from Flying Cloud Airport, a regional feeder airport here in the Twin Cities used mostly for corporate and general aviation. It's relaxing place to read or write and watch planes at the same time. It's also used by the local police department as a training area for K-9 units, so it's not unusual to see a squad car or two at the park.

Getting the picture? I'm sitting in my car with an Almanac, watching an airport, and scribbling in a notebook with police officers close by. I wouldn't have thought twice of my behavior until I read this:

The FBI is warning police officials across the United States to be alert for people carrying almanacs, cautioning that the popular reference books — covering everything from abbreviations to weather trends — could be used for terrorist planning.

In a bulletin sent Christmas Eve to about 18,000 police organizations, the FBI said terrorists might use almanacs ‘‘to assist with target selection and pre-operational planning.’’

The FBI noted that use of almanacs or maps may be innocent, ‘‘the product of legitimate recreational or commercial activities.’’ But it warned that when combined with suspicious behavior — such as apparent surveillance — a person with an almanac ‘‘may point to possible terrorist planning.’’

I plan on turning myself in to the FBI tomorrow before Atomizer has a chance to rat me out for a few pieces of silver.

For a more sober take on this serious subject let us turn to those staunch defenders of freedom, (just ask them) the valiant librarians:

Deborah Caldwell-Stone, deputy director of the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom, said the bulletin "is criminalizing the use of the most basic reference resources, which people have a legitimate reason to have. ... This is the kind of thing that leads to profiling."

And the problem with profiling terrorists to keep us safe is what again?
The Future's Not Ours To See

National Review Online has a Symposium on 2004 Predictions by noteworthy media types (and Kathryn Jean Lopez). Jonah Goldberg's and Clifford May's are easily the best of the bunch, but Hugh Hewitt is the only one who saw fit to include a mention of blogs:

The Evangelical Outpost and Power Line become the must-read blogs of '04.

Ahem...ahem...Didn't you forget a certain humble blog in your list Hugh? A blog that has become a "force" in the blogosphere in the last year and shows no signs of going anywhere but up in 2004?

Sure Joe is doing a great job over at the Evangelical Outpost and the guys at Powerline are a class act, but you're missing out on a rising blog that's staring you right in the face.

Dismiss us if you want Mr. Hewitt, but clearly you have committed a grave oversight by failing to mention the real must-read blog of 2004.

We speak of course of no other but Spitbull. That's right, Spitbull. Listen Hugh. Spitbull's voice is the voice of a new generation. Our generation. Their time has come.

Of course given Hugh's past record of prognostication (how 'bout them Buckeyes?), his prediction about Powerline and Evangelical Outpost becoming must-reads of 2004 may just be the kiss of death for those two fine outfits.
What Color is the Sky in His World?

Pioneer Press columnist Ruben Rosario climbs out of his bottomless well of black depression long enough to summarize the state of the world in 2003:

It was, at best, a bittersweet year. The economy slumped before showing signs of disputed resurrection. We invaded Iraq and lost hundreds of our young men and women in the process. We bagged a demented tyrant in Saddam. But America's true Public Enemy No. 1 — Osama bin Laden — eludes capture. On the local front, we clawed through a devastating state budget deficit and endured high-profile shootings at a school and a courthouse

Bittersweet? He’s got the bitter part down, anyway. I wonder how hard he had to fight his natural hack instincts to resist starting this column “It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times.”

Thanks Ruben for sharing your bleak, dismal vision of America with us in the pages of our local paper. I do think this may be the worst Christmas ever.

Let’s also thank both local newspapers for their consistent hectoring editorial voice this holiday season. I was almost starting to feel comfortable there for a moment, but now you’ve properly afflicted me. Your journalism professors would be proud.

Monday, December 29, 2003

The Blogging Meritocracy?

Joe Carter at The Evangelical Outpost has an addition (with a nod to Eloise at Spitbull) to his outsanding Series on Blogging . Read 'em all but in particular, #6 The Myth of the "Discovered" Blogger. It is a dead solid perfect examination of what it takes to for a blogger to make the leap to the "mainstream media". Hint: it's about a lot more than writing.
High Crimes

Fraters drinking buddy Tim Blair reads the riot act to a brazen repeat offender:

One problem I have with Molly Ivins is that she’s a goddamn joke thief. And not just once, but twice. In October the Texan gag bandit repeated her crime on CNN:

“I went out to California to look at this race and came back saying, oh, Gray Davis makes Mr. Rogers look like he was on steroids, and Arnold Schwarzenegger looks exactly like a condom stuffed with walnuts. This was not the most profound observation I have ever made about serious public affairs, but it's irresistible.”

Irresistible ... to steal! Ivins lifted “the observation she made” from Australian writer Clive James. It’s at least a decade old. Resign, you shameless, dishonest, joke-pinching she-beast!

(To avoid the righteous wrath of Tim, and being labelled a shameless link larcenist, I should report I first saw this on Instapundit.)
Why Do They Hate Us?

In the course of celebrating the Packers victory, a blog called Cheesehead Sports is doing something I've never seen before. Fisking a Sid Hartman column. I guess folks not from here take his writing seriously. I admit I do read Sid, and genuinely like his contributions to the sports conversation, but more so as a living history exhibit of what journalism used to be like in the 50's. The 1850's.

They also provide a Vikings joke worth repeating. As with all great humor, it's funny because it's true.

What is the difference between the Minnesota Vikings and a dollar bill?

A dollar bill will always give you 4 quarters.

The Packers Report message board is also helping me put things in the proper perspective with nuggets like this:

I prayed to St Vince to give us a miracle and looked what happened. My buddy kept telling me I was crazy to pray out loud like that and GUESSS WHAT??? HE heard 1million Packer fans screaming for a miracle. Damn it we deserved this. The town and the team are what's best in America. GOD LOVES THE PACKERS!!!

Of course, they offer condolences to Vikings fans as well. Though savagely communicated, it's hard to deny the essential truths behind each:

But it must be maddening to have your team look so good (6-0) only to implode in your face. Sucks to be a Viking this morning! Again!

It's gotta suck being a Viking fan! Every year ends like this!

Screw you Queenie fans. Go home and sulk in your beer and worship Randy Moss some more.

Just when the Packer's season is about to hit the crapper, we can always leave it to the Minnehaha Chokekings to bring us back from oblivion.

But then some extremist has to start in with the irresponsible rhetoric:

Evil has been defeated.

Do you think this guy accidentally clicked over from a Howard Dean message board?
He Holds No Truths To Be Self-evident

The SCSU Scholars have been admirably detailing the controversy over the proposed Minnesota social studies educational standards. Last week King had a post on an exchange that took place last May between state senators Michelle Bachmann (R-Stillwater) and Steve Kelley (D-Hopkins) over the role that the Declaration of Independence should play in the standards.

It was of particular interest to me since I had the pleasure of meeting Senator Bachmann in August on The Patriot boat cruise and have the displeasure of having Steve Kelley represent me in the Minnesota Senate (I've worked on the last two unsuccessful campaigns to unseat him). He has ambitions of higher political glory, which thankfully have not been realized.

Kelley is the chair of the education committee that will consider the new standards next month, so his opinions on the relevance of the Declaration of Independence carry weight. Here are a few quotes by Kelley from King's piece:

"There's an over emphasis on the Declaration of Independence, and some just factually wrong kind of things contained in there that seems to reflect a viewpoint on the country's founding that I don't know reflects the scholarly consensus or a mainstream viewpoint," Kelley said.

"I'm not sure it's accurate historically or legally to call the Declaration of Independence a founding document.

Hmmm...I wonder what Senator Kelley would think about people waiting in line just to see a broadsheet copy of the DOI? Or a road trip around the country to showcase the "People's Document"? Or a good liberal like Norman Lear paying 8.1 mil for the copy on tour? How about some of the causes (women's rights, civil rights, etc.) that were profoundly influenced by it?

Obviously out of the mainstream. At least Senator Kelley's mainstream.

Senator Bachmann probably put it best with this response to Kelley during their May exchange:

"Sen. Kelley, what do we celebrate every 4th of July? The Declaration defines our rights and our freedom."

Tice Toast

Duh, right? I've always kind of thought there was a little something off about the guy. He just comes across as such a...meathead. And I'm still not sure what's going on with that accent of his (too much time around some of the star players?).

But I was unaware of his metrosexual tendencies:

Eventually, Tice was asked about his job status and said: "I don't worry about that. I'm a good football coach. I know that. Right now, I'm more worried about my daughter and my wife. I know they were here today. I know they are upset, and I haven't had a chance to talk to them."

Your wife and daughter? WTF? What about the fans? The players? The owner? I imagine he was probably in some kind of daze after such a pathetic loss (btw Mike good idea to go for the touchdown on 4th down in the first quarter!) and I should cut him some slack, but "worrying" about your wife and daughter after you have completely failed to do your job as a football coach strikes me as being just a little too modern.

Vikings fan may now add the obligatory comparison to Bud Grant.
Same Old Same Old

Get over it, boys. It happens year after year after year after year.
Each and every time the Vikings need to win a game to make the playoffs...they fail.

Skol Vikings
Skol, Vikings, let's blow this game
Skol, Vikings, defame your name
Let 'em get that first down, then another touchdown
Rock 'em, sock 'em choke choke choke choke
Go Vikings, let 'em run up the score
You'll hear 'em yell for more
V - I - K - I - N - G - S
Skol, Vikings, let's go!!!

When does baseball season start?

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Where Does This One Rate?

In 1999 after the Vikings lost to Atlanta in the NFC Championship game I put together a list of the ten worst sports losses that I had witnessed. Today's game would probably deserve a spot in The Agony of Defeat.

By the way with today's loss the Vikings finished 9-7. They lost four games to teams that finished 4-12. Four f'in games. This team did not deserve to go anywhere. Today justice was served.
I'm Feeling Better Already

Bill Tuomala gives the healing process a jump start with his tough love analysis of the Vikings game and identification of where this choke resides in the gleaming pantheon of Vikings chokes.

The only part he left out was the fact that this entire loss can be layed in the stone hands of North Dakota native Jim Kleinsasser, who is singularly responsible for bobbling the onside kick and killing our dreams. This proves once again, you can’t trust these people for anything more substantial than blogging.
It's Only Just Begun

The Vikings history making choke today against Arizona guarantees that KFAN's (the local radio station that broadcasts the Vikings) Fan Line phone lines will be lit up like the Vikes secondary was in the last two minutes of the game. I look forward to two solid hours of wailing, gnashing of teeth, and calls for Mike Tice's head. Listening to the pain and desperation of these callers is actually quite amusing for me as I stopped living and dying with the Purple a few years ago.

The worst part of the loss is not that the Vikings will not make the playoffs, they weren't going anywhere anyway, but that the Packers are now in. The Cheeseheads would do well to live up their glory today though. The Packers playoff run will last about as long as 'Gigli' did at the theater.
It’s Over

It's all over. The Vikings allow the worst team in the NFL to score two touchdowns (wrapped around a recovered onside kick) in less than two minutes. They’re out of the playoffs and the bleeping Packers are in.

Looking on the bright side, the pain is over for all of us in Purple for six months and everyone in MN has the day off from teeth grinding anxiety next Sunday. I’d write more but I have an appointment with an inside out shirt and a brown paper sack.

That's A Paddlin'

So I'm walking into church this morning sort of laughing to myself at the parking job someone had created out of a nonexistant space in the lot. Mass is about to start and there are plenty of people piling into the building. About 10 feet from the entrance I hit a nasty patch of pure ice caused by yesterday's above freezing temps and dang near violenty spill myself on the pavement. I loudly bellow "JESUS EFFING CHRIST!" as the scare of the fall made me completely forget where I was or what I was doing. Only I didn't say effing.

What a boorish, ill-mannered ass I felt like! Several old women (think of those old dames who look on unapprovingly as Mary Tyler Moore tosses her hat on Nicollet Mall) shoot me some of the dirtiest looks I've seen since the last time I cut in at the buffet line at Shoney's.

Families with children look over to see who could have been such a crass lowlife. I just kind of looked back as if to say "Hi. I'm pretty much an ahole. How ya doin'?"
Dealing with Loss

The mood in Minnesota today is uneasy as the Vikings lurch toward a possible playoff appearance, dependent on the outcome of their game against the hapless Arizona Cardinals this afternoon. Will we see the Vikings that bludgeoned good teams such as the Chiefs and Seahawks? Or instead will we see the heartless choke artists that crumbled in the face of the stink emanating from teams like the Chargers, Raiders, and Giants?

Hard to say, but the conditioned response of any long time Vikings fan to a critical game like this is to assume the worst. This will help you maintain Bud Grant-like stoic dignity during the likely painful ordeal to follow.

Accepting loss with dignity is something the fans in Columbus, Ohio haven’t quite figured out yet. As reported in today’s Star Tribune:

The Columbus Blue Jackets last won a game on Dec. 2 and are winless (0-6-1-2) in nine games, a team record. They remain without a road win (0-11-1-2).

...sentiment among fans [is best summarized] with the tale of Mike O'Harra, the first season-ticket holder in club history. O'Harra committed to front-row seats for seven years and became the face of the team's fan base. He's appeared in advertisements for the club.

Well, with 32 minutes, 58 seconds to go in a 2-1 loss to Calgary, O'Harra turned his Blue Jackets jersey inside out and put a brown paper bag over his head. "I'm embarrassed," he said. "I hate to let anyone know I'm spending this much money for these games."

I empathize with the guy, but I do question his strategy. In order to avoid embarrassment over spending huge dough to attend a lousy team's game, he chooses to parade around the arena like a jackass. Sounds like Ohio logic to me.
Aid For Iran

It seems of late that we've been passing around the tin cup quite a bit. From the fundraising to buy medical supplies for the Misericordia Orphanage to helping our troops overseas it's been a busy time for giving. 'Tis the season I guess.

And now we are heeding Hugh Hewitt's call and suggesting that you assist the earthquake victims in Iran by making a donation to World Vision. It only takes a few minutes to contribute and help provide family survival kits.

The scale of the devastation in Bam is mind boggling. Reports now indicate at least 25,000 dead, probably many more. Obviously the need for immediate aid is tremendous and all possible assistance should be rendered. But I wonder if there will be any consideration in the post-quake rebuilding of Bam for aid to construct buildings more capable of surviving earthquakes. It seems that one of the factors in the high death toll was the poor construction and building materials used in Bam.

If the city is rebuilt in the same manner it was be only a matter of time before such a disaster occurs again. I would think the United States and European countries could provide the expertise and assistance to help make Bam better able to withstand future quakes, which are almost inevitable in that part of the world. It is certainly an effort that I would support.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Haven’t These People Suffered Enough?

Saturday night fever, Saint Paul style. A case of cold Grain Belt Premium, surfing the net, and listening to some Prairie Home Companion on MPR. Those local bloggers out there claiming to be dating gorgeous women with supermodel bodies every weekend may sniff at my entertainment choices for the evening. But I got a couple things going for me. First - the truth. Second, pure relaxation. The world of information at my fingertips, some original down homey humor, story telling, and music in my ears (of which the later two have a more than decent chance of being good), and a golden elixir of locally brewed lager to smooth out any rough edges.

But so far it’s been only the bottle that hasn’t let me down. The amateur Internet opinion world is holiday dead and Garrison Keilior is doing one of his cloying live from NYC shows. If the pattern holds, he’ll be mercilessly flogging the country boy in the big city routine in between casually dropping references to cafes on 43rd street where he dined with Yhitzak Pearlman last week. Worse yet the highlights of the show have been billed as the Klezmatics and an appearance by Al Franken. Hipster bar mitzvah music and pissy, elitist anti-Americanism portrayed as comedy (which no doubt will get explosions of laughter from the pissy, elitist anti-Americans from the upper West side in attendance).

Franken has also been promoted as just returning from entertaining the troops in Iraq. Short of volunteering for a culturally sensitive ritual stoning, I’m not exactly sure what Al Franken could do to entertain the troops in Iraq. Reports are scant as to exactly what went down there. But prior to Al jumping into his camo fatigues, this is the kind of observation he was planning to slay the troops with (as stated on the PBS Newshour in October):

I am tired of hearing the right tell, tell us that we, that liberals aren't patriotic. You know, I'm going on my fourth USO (United Service Organization) tour this Christmas. I'm going to Iraq and to Afghanistan. And I'm just sick of it. And I've been carrying this (statement) around today, because this just made me furious.

Okay, Britt Hume said this, not on talk radio, but on Fox. He said this on August, 26 (2003): "Two hundred seventy-seven U.S. soldiers have now died in Iraq, which means that, statistically speaking, U.S. soldiers have less of a chance of dying from all causes in Iraq than citizens have of being murdered in California, which is roughly the same geographical size. The most recent statistics indicate that California has more than 2,300 homicides each year, which means about 6.6 murders each day. Meanwhile, our U.S. troops have been in Iraq for 160 days, which means that they are incurring about 1.7 deaths, including illness and accidents, each day."

Now, what he's saying is it's safer to be a soldier in Iraq than to be a citizen of California. He forgets to say that there are 32 million people living in California. And when I go to Iraq, I think I want to read this. You know, I want to -- this is a funny piece of material. This is going to be funny to them, these soldiers in Iraq who are getting killed day by day. And as a comedian, I really hate using someone else's material without crediting them, so I will credit Britt Hume. And I'm sure they will love hearing that.

Yes, the boys on the front lines like nothing better than a partisan political hack taking statements from Britt Hume out of context and distorting them. I wonder if it’s this innate sense of what the audience wants to hear that convinced the liberal radio network to make Franken their featured act?

Since I didn’t hear any reports of a fragging and since Al right now, as I write this, is immersed in a Vietnam style quagmire of a sketch with Keilor (which clearly has no exit strategy), I suspect he didn’t use his standard material over there.

What kind of antics was Franken up to? According to the Army News Service, it sounds like he wisely went apolitical with his act:

They laughed and clapped at comedian Al Franken and actress Kari Turner’s skit which mocked the capture of Suddam Hussein.

The USO advance promotion of this tour describes the desired tone of the show:

The "Hope and Freedom" show is to entertain troops serving in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom later this month, and is being dedicated to the memory of longtime USO supporter and comedic icon Bob Hope.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Jack Tilley, along with country music singers Daryl Worley and Mark Wills, comedian Al Franken, and "J.A.G." star Karri Turner, are headlining the eight-day trip to boost morale for the thousands of service members spending the holidays away from home.

In addition, World Wrestling Federation star Bradshaw, pop singers Karma and No Illusion, the U.S. Army Band and cheerleaders from the Washington Redskins will also be joining the tour.

Patriotic country music singers, sexy actresses, cheerleaders, WWF wrestlers ..... and Al Franken. Which of those things don't belong here? Franken by the way, just moments ago, described Darryl Worley’s 9-11 tribute song “Have You Forgotten” as “jingoistic.” Good to see Franken feels he can return to his typical sneer once he gets back in the friendly confines of Manhattan.
Again With The Wrestling?

I'm sitting around the whoose this Saturday reading Behind Bars, a tale of a bartendress in New York (review soon to follow) and I just happened to turn on Savage--accidental like.

He's not really doing politics, as this is a best of show, but damn is it an entertaining few hours of radio. Mike gets a lot of dissing from our fellow travelers--almost as if they have to pick one prominent 'serv that the left really hates and then agree with them to show that they aren't in lock step with The Racists or something.

He's telling stories of growing up in New York. The great thing about the stories is that there is a point, but he travels all over the place to get to it. He was talking about the mean friends he grew up with and out of no where he says of one friend:

"His older brother was gay. We didn't know it at the time, but he was. He was one of those guys that when you turned 15 he would say 'Hey Mike, how much do you weigh? Let's wrestle. Stip down to your shorts and let's wrestle. What's that bulge there?'"

He tells the story as if we all knew someone like that.

So tune it in if you get a chance this weekend. A bitter, angry man? Indeed. But he's got nothing if not personality--that classic New York ethnic jew personality that is all but lost on the new generation who have whittled all their cultural edges down with WASP conformity.
Padre Smokes 'Em

The priest at my church is an interesting character. I've written about his very sound homilies a couple of times in the past. On Christmas Eve he referenced 'The Return of the King' in his homily. He's my kind of preacher.

Last Sunday he mentioned that on occasion he likes to enjoy a cigar, particularly after a day of rock climbing. He told us that, not long ago, when he was in Colorado, he was doing just that when he was reproached for smoking. "Isn't your body supposed to be a temple of the Holy Spirit?", challenged a young man.

"Yes, indeed it is," the wily priest replied, "but in the liturgy that I celebrate incense is often used. So sometimes the temple can get to be a bit smoky."

Friday, December 26, 2003

Nick's People

Poor Nick Coleman. He had a column due that he knew was going to run on Christmas Day. It had to be a meaningful one. It had to show that he cared. It had to matter. But after Kate Stanley's mash note to a recently deceased homeless man had appeared in last Sunday's Star Tribune, he had to wonder how could he expect to compete? She spoke of loving and even hugging, yes hugging, her homeless hunk. Nothing that Nick wrote could match that.

But Nick's a cagey veteran columnist. And the old pros always have a trick or two up their sleeves. Nick pulled one of his out with his Christmas column.

Take one World War II veteran. Better yet a veteran who was a POW and had survived the Baatan Death March. Add the obligatory homeless angle. In this case the homeless getting a free hair cut. Mix well and serve when warm and mushy.

In a small room, with hair trimmings piling up on the floor, an 83-year-old World War II prisoner of war was still getting even: Cutting hair -- as he does every Wednesday -- to give thanks for tender mercies.

That's right. It was the story of the elderly veteran volunteering to cut hair for the homeless. It was a perfect storm of schmaltzy sentimentality. And Nick ran with that baby like Onterrio Smith ran with the football last Saturday.

Another one of 'Nick's People'. He wishes they all could be 'Nick's People'. He truly does. If he is guilty of anything, maybe it's caring too much. He's Nick Coleman.

Taking What They're Givin'

Very satisfying Christmas. I had the pleasure of watching my four year old nephew tear open his GI Joe aircraft carrier (it's on my list for next year), die-cast A-10 Warthog with full ordinance (from me of course), space shuttle rescue kit (you wonder if they thought twice about shelving this after the 'Columbia' disaster last year), and numerous rockets of various shapes and sizes. Meanwhile my niece, around twenty six months, received a Volkswagen Barbie, two or three different Barbies to ride in it, an Olivia stuffed animal, and pots, pans, and other play kitchen accessories. Yeah, there's no difference between boys and girls.

I myself scored a Simpson's Christmas DVD, an under the counter radio/CD player for the kitchen, books on Reagan and Lincoln, gift certificates for Amazon, Best Buy, and Barnes and Noble, a five piece model set of generals from World War II (Patton, Monty, Ike, MacArthur, and Rommel), and best of all, from JB Doubtless, a bottle of The Macallan Cask Strength single malt. Yes, it was a memorable Christmas indeed. By the way JB, I hope you enjoyed your glass of Macallan yesterday. It was offered in the spirit of the season and you won't be seeing that bottle again any time soon.

But as much as I enjoyed the gifts from Santa and family, what really warmed my heart this Christmas was the generous collection of goodies I received from my fellow Northern Alliance members. Sorry JB, Saint Paul, and Atomizer but anything addressed to "the Fraters" is considered to be my property in a very real and legally binding sense.

The guys over at Power Line sent a nifty blue blazer. Mitch from
Shot In The Dark dropped off a loaf of what has to be the best banana bread this side of the Mississippi. The SCSU Scholars also were thinking about food with a tin of affirmative action bake sale cookies. The Warrior Monk of Spitbull renown, was kind enough to present me with the latest rendering in his now famous series of toast art pieces. Ed from Captain's Quarters contributed a framed copy of his bawdy version of 'The Night Before Christmas' done in limerick style. I'd give you a sample but this is a family friendly blog and we have certain standards that we attempt to maintain.

But easily the best gift I received came courtesy of one James Lileks. And it should come as no surprise that he elected to present me with a very, very special Hummel near and dear to his heart. It had to be difficult for James to part with this one.

I'm still waiting for my present from the NA Commissioner. I assume that it's been delayed due to some sort of delivery problem. But any day now I expect to get the call from the good folks at Downtown Jaguar with the news that I've been waiting for. Yes indeed. Any day now. (fade out to sound of fingers tapping...)
Sledding With Satan?

Perhaps if Hugh had only read this piece called Why Christians Should Have Nothing To Do With Snowmobiles at, much suffering could have been prevented. The third point is especially appropriate in Mr. Hewitt's case.

Personally, I don't buy the theory that snowmobiling is somehow against God's wishes. God does have a sense of humor after all (unless it was just a blasphemous rumor). If he didn't want us to laugh, why would he have put Hugh on that sled in the first place? Mysterious ways indeed.
The Great Satan Should Lend A Hand

When I heard the news this morning of the devastating earthquake in Bam, Iran (at least four thousand dead, probably many thousands more) my first thought was that this was an excellent time for the United States to demonstrate to the Muslim world our desire to help improve the lot of their peoples. Sending relief supplies, rescue crews, and other assistance as quickly as possible would be both a humane and politically savvy move. Instead of seeing US soldiers in Iraq, Al-Jazeera viewers could see US relief workers helping out in a country that we have labeled part of the Axis of Evil.

Hugh Hewitt shares the same thoughts:

I hope we are scrambling the international relief agencies to rush assistance to Iran. Nothing distinguishes this country more than its ready aid to those nations with governments that routinely berate it. The rule of thumb is that early reports of death from earthquakes significantly underestimate the carnage, and the first reports from Bam put the loss of life in the thousands, so it must be devastation on a scale that the U.S. hasn't seen in modern times. People who begrudge help to a very hostile government should keep in mind that the Iranian people are increasingly pro-western and the democracy movement is large and growing. The U.S. should respond to Iran as though it was responding to Japan or another close ally.

Update: The good Professor concurs.

Separated At Birth?

A veritable flood of post-Christmas SABs. This one from a local blogger who wishes to remain anonymous.

The ubiquitous Twin Cities musician, G.B. Leighton and...

The unfortunately almost nearly as ubiquitous Star Tribune sports columnist, Dan Barreiro. (For a truly frightening picture of Barreiro check out his KFAN page. Not many can pull off the 'stache and bald head look.)
Separated At Birth?

Dan e-mails to offer this SAB selction.

Fearful of being harmed by a barrage of shoes at the Temple Mount, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher and...

Afraid of being harmed by the rays of the sun, blood-sucking freak Nosferatu?

Thursday, December 25, 2003

A Slinky Under Every Tree

May you have a wonderful Christmas and receive all that your heart desires. Especially if it involves Slinkys.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Merry Christmas!

Join me in sending a word of thanks to the members of the U.S. Military who are proudly serving our country this Christmas. Think about them when you are celebrating this weekend with your friends and family. They make it possible. Never forget that.
A Little Coal In The Stocking for Jesse And His Seed

Shawn alerts us to the not all that surprising news that the lights have dimmed on Jesse Ventura's MSNBC show:

After a two-month run, former Gov. Jesse Ventura's cable show is off the air and there are no immediate plans for MSNBC to bring it back.

The news channel's president, Erik Sorenson, sent a memo Tuesday to staff announcing he was extending a previously announced holiday break for the show.

"I've decided to focus the majority of our resources on Monday-Friday primetime in 2004," Sorenson wrote. "Consequently, the holiday hiatus for 'Jesse Ventura's America' will continue indefinitely."

It's probably not going to be a real cheery Christmas at the Ventura household considering that the ex-gov and his son Tyrell are now both without gainful employment.

Separated At Birth?

The studly star of the movie "American Gigolo" Richard Gere and...

The homeless heartthrob (at least as depicted by the Star Tribune artist) who starred in Kate Stanley's gigolo fantasies, now deceased, Lowell Boswell.

UPDATE: Just in time for Christmas the entire collection of Fraters Separated At Birth has been updated for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy.
A Masters In Blogging?

Michael Tyworth at Indiana University has just published a study on blogs. As part of his research for the study, Michael sampled opinions on the defintion of blogs and their role in the media from a number of bloggers, including us. His study is a preliminary look at blogs and he concludes that the subject is ripe for more in-depth study and analysis.
Melt My Cold Cold Heart

(Groggy) hrufmhf?
Are you awake my darling?
I started your coffee already and here's the Journal
Ahh, thanks
But I do have some bad news for you this morning man of my dreams, Dave Dudley,
truck driving honky tonker who did the original version of Six Days On The Road has died
That's too bad
Indeed...well, I'm off to my pilates class, see you tonight

Sometimes when I wake to the soothing tones of Kathy Wurzer on MPR I hit snooze and doze back to sleep for a few minutes. I dreamt the above right after hearing Kathy report that Dave Dudley had indeed perished.

What killed me was that she began the report by saying "People that know me know that I am a huge country music fan. Especially of classic country music."

To look that good, have that kind of voice, to be that sweet AND to like The Country Music? Even a comitted bachelor like yours truly would give it all up to get a Doubtlessette like that.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

It's Better To Give

And what better way to celebrate the season than by donating to the Northern Alliance Charity Fundraiser for the Misericordia Orphanage in Chihuahua, Mexico? ALL proceeds will be used to buy medical supplies for the orphanage. Just hit the Pay Pal button on the top of the page or, if you prefer the old fashioned way, drop me an e-mail at and I'll let you know where to send a check.

If you'd like to know how you can help the troops this holiday season, and all year for that matter, Jed Babbin at National Review Online has an article today with some stellar suggestions.

Both causes are very deserving and, if you can, I'd urge you to contribute to each of them.
He's Saying What I'm Thinking!

The Warrior Monk over at Spitbull has the same take on the little dust up between the White Stripes' Jack White and the singer of a heretofore unknown "garage rock band" that I had when I first heard of it. Read it.
Now Would Kate Say Something That Wasn't True?

Long time reader, frequent contributor, and writer (a real writer-he's presently busy at work on a book) Gary Larson e-mails to comment on my post yesterday on Kate Stanley's eulogy for a homeless man. He also provides some interesting background on Stanley and reminds us of some of her past work:

Neat job taking apart Stanley yesterday. Followed her career since her Day 1 at Strib, right out off the U of MN campus, where she edited the Minnesota Daily, then about as left wing as a newspaper could get. Oh it was a party organ for sure. Lib Dem and DFL all the way, no doubt about it.

Stanley was hired right out of the U, with no intervening years of real life experience, or seasoning. Might tell us something about the naive nature of the typical Strib editorialist. Mainly mainly ivory tower types.

I laughed, too, at her intended heart-tugging sob story, about the homeless guy, so de rigueur in Strib, especially at the Holiday Season. Your term " self-absorbed guilt-mongering" is so well put. Right on the money!

Funny also was Stanley's lengthy piece last year lauding two nuns arrested at Fort Benning, GA, for trespassing, there in "civil disobedience" to protest the training of foreign nationals (at the US Army's School of the Americas) in the ways of torture, or so they said. Stanley utterly believed their slurs on the US military.

(Editors note: Stanley's article in question is no longer available online)

Her piece exuded praise for the the nuns. It was packed, I recall, with wild-ass assumptions and made-up "factoids." This reflected Strib's distrust of, and quite possibly disgust for, our military. Her piece got a quick no-nonsense reply from retired Gen. John Vessey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and my neighbor up here in mid-Minnesota (near Garrison).

Now Gen. Vessey is a truly noble American, a gentleman, a real leader, and a class act. He served America exceedingly well, a fellow of impeccable integrity, like his successor, Colin Powell. Vessey tore into Stanley's biased truth-averse column as I've not seen a fellow military man ever do. Heck, he's retired. Why should he care about "good press relations"? (I am a former USAF public info officer, btw, a 'Nam vet; I know about such things. One of my bosses, a colonel, used to say, "they [media] have the last word, you know." So we watched our Ps&Qs.)

Gen. Vessey laid it on the line. Stanley assumed the very worst lies as truth, he said, and spread flat-out lies about the US military, about the school at Ft. Benning, about our GIs. He said her piece was "devoid of fact," as I recall, really an all-out assault on the US Army. Well put. (Note: I did an ill-fated letter to Strib on Gen. Vessey's marvelous put-down. Of course it did not find ink. "Last word?")

Not a word of rebuttal came from the chastised Stanley to her assumptions, reciting as fact the nuns' tale, now challenged by the former No. 1 US Military Man. Her notions were challenged by, well, by mere truth, a powerful ally, and sometimes quite foreign to Strib's editorial pages, as we all know from daily exposure.

Go Greyhound And Leave The Homeless To Them

Jonathan at Mangled Cat has an eye opening post on the efforts of some Minnesota counties to ship "our" homeless people to other states. From an article in the DenverPost:

Over the past four years, two counties in Minnesota have given free, one-way tickets to some 4,500 homeless people. At least 63 of those people have taken a Greyhound to Colorado.

Mayor John Hickenlooper said Minnesota is playing a kind of shell game. "Who's got the homeless person?" Hickenlooper said. "It's crazy."

Jonathan isn't exactly overjoyed at the prospect of this retched refuse being dumped in his state:

Shell games being associated with the homeless. What are the odds? I can certainly understand the attraction of that policy. The NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) approach is a popular one in our society. Everybody wants to do something, they just don't want it done near where they live. What comes out of the guilt is the perfect answer. Send them somewhere else. If we don't have to step around them as they're sleeping on the sidewalk, then we can function under the illusion that we don't have a problem. Out of sight; out of mind, right?

So why not? Homeless shelters are expensive. Doesn't it make since to spend that money on an effective policy and move them on their way?

Typically I oppose the NIMBY approach to solve problems. In this case however, I choose to make an exception. Besides you guys in Colorado only got 63 out of a possible 4500 that we offered a ticket to paradise to. That's nuthin'. When you consider how cold it can get here in the winter you have to agree that the only humane thing to do is send these folks packing to warmer climes. Colorado's probably not an ideal location either. I hear Florida's nice this time of year.

It's not often that I find myself agreeing with Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat but it's hard to argue with this:

The chairman of the Hennepin County Commission said the program helps homeless people who find themselves in Minnesota without family and friends.

"We think the bus ticket forward program is a humane way to help folks maybe have a better chance somewhere else," said Commissioner Mike Opat.

See they're cold. And lonely. All their buddies are in other states. How could we not allow them to be reunited? I will not stand by and allow you to drive a wedge between the homeless and their friends. Let us unite and not divide.

In your state of course.

I'd like to the program expanded. Let's give 'em a bus ticket and a nice fruit basket to sweeten the pot. And perhaps expand the definition of consent. Instead of having the homeless agree to the relocation, let's assume that assent is given and that they actually have to say no to not participate. Those unable to speak clearly or found sleeping will be assumed to have agreed to the trip. The buses will depart at 5am daily, non-stop until the destination is reached.

Happy trails.
The Creator of Red Ryder Is Recognized

From a piece by Mark Yost at

If the umpteen showings of "A Christmas Story" and a new 20th-anniversary, two-disc DVD set aren't enough to sate your appetite for Ralphie Parker and his tortured quest for a Red Ryder BB gun, then you need to head to this little town in the southwest corner of Colorado. It's home to the Fred Harman Art Museum.

Who's Fred Harman, you ask? He's the cartoonist who created Ralphie's hero, Red Ryder, and his Indian sidekick, Little Beaver. But his love of the frontier West didn't stop with the world-renowned series that first appeared in the Chicago Sun on Nov. 6, 1938. In his final 18 years, Harman produced 350 oils, pen-and-ink drawings, and bronzes of rodeos, cowpokes and other rustic scenes, a handful of which are on display here.

Not long after the strip began, Harman signed up J.C. Penney Co. to carry a slew of Red Ryder merchandise, including Ralphie's long-sought BB gun. In 1939, Red Ryder No. 1, on display here, came off the Daisy production line in Plymouth, Mich., originally priced at $2.95.

But for all the Ralphies the world over--both fictional and real--this museum is a fitting tribute and well worth a visit.

Hmmmm...Maybe there was more to the visit to Colorado than we originally believed.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Fightin' The Battle Of Who Could Care More

Down at the Minneapolis Star Tribune offices the holidays are a competitive time of year. Columnists try to out-do each other to demonstrate who cares more and who can make their readers feel more guilty. A common opening to these "how dare you feel good, when others feel bad" scoldings might be:

Yes, it's the holiday season but what about...

In the past Doug Grow has proved to be the undisputed champion in this area and has easily brushed aside all challengers. But now that Nick Coleman has crossed the river and joined the Strib staff, Grow's reign as king of caring may be in jeopardy. Coleman proved how serious he was about knocking Grow off when he penned a hysterical piece on the homeless and the Ice Palace in St. Paul. Our own Saint Paul did a fine job of riddling Coleman's travesty last Friday, going so far as to call it the "single worst newspaper column ever written in the Twin Cities".

Grow tried to counterpunch with a column yesterday on carolers raising money for people who can't afford housing, but it lacked the pathos and self-importance that have become the hallmark of Grow's past efforts.

It appeared as if it was time to pass the caring baton on to Mr. Coleman. But then a dark horse came up from the outside and has taken a lead that appears insurmountable.

Kate Stanley delivered a eulogy for a homeless man called A man outside (Powerline fittingly described it as 'requiem for a bum') in Sunday's paper. It is a breathtaking work of self-absorbed guilt mongering that had me howling with derisive laughter and pounding my fist on my basement bar as I read it last night. (Warning: if the idea of someone howling and pounding their fist when reading about the death of a homeless man is disturbing to you read no further.)

The concept of eulogizing the homeless is hardly a novelty at the Star Tribune these days. The concept of eulogizing a hard working, church going, family man unfortunately is. In fact good ol' Dougy Grow fired off a glowing memorial to a transient named Westside a few years back that left us absolutely appalled.

But Grow's effort pales in comparison with Stanley's work to make a noble lion out of a scruffy alley cat:

When I first met him at lunch with some friends, he was reading John le Carré. When I joined him at a coffee shop, he was toting Tom Friedman. When I ran into him at the Hennepin County Government Center two winters ago, Mark Twain was in his pocket -- along with a slim copy of the U.S. Constitution.

Hence begins Stanley's efforts to convince us that this man was really no different from you or me. He just happened to live in the street. And drink a lot. And he never really bathed or showered. And he did sorta smell like urine. But he read and that somehow confers legitimacy to his life. You can also see that Stanley found some delicious irony in the fact that he had a copy of the Constitution. How many of the Republican business people in the suburbs could say that?

We spent the lunch hour chatting about U.S. history, the courts, travel, books. Lowell argued that O'Connor wasn't such a bad Supreme Court justice after all. I insisted Rehnquist was irredeemable. We agreed that Raymond Carver is an overrated writer.

At the those point you could cut the pretentiousness with knife. I can imagine Kate telling her friends about the charming homeless man she had lunch with. My homeless man can not only read, but offer literary criticism as well. Do you know how hard it is to find one like that?

The building of the noble savage continues:

Here was a man you couldn't help but want to be near. He was tall and charming, teeming with dry wit. But beyond that was an almost startling dignity.

Interesting choice by Kate to go with "startling dignity". The standard cliché when lauding the homeless is "quiet dignity".

You felt that he knew something you didn't.

Yeah, such as where the best grates to sleep on in Minneapolis were at.

His way of life was mystifying to people accustomed to the world of whirlpools and white wine.

Whirlpools and white wine? Where are we? California circa 1976?

His way of life was mystifying to people who accustomed to living in a home. Accustomed to earning a living. Accustomed to contributing to society. Accustomed to not being a drunken homeless vagrant on the street!

Sometimes he'd drink -- enough that he'd end up in detox or the Hennepin emergency room. Sometimes he'd stay sober for months at a stretch and take a job as a mover to gather up a little cash. "I consider myself a social drinker," he'd say with a smile. Sometimes he was, sometimes not.

Ha ha. That's funny. An alcoholic who has ruined his life and can joke about it. Yuk it up Kate.

But his drinking habits seemed one of the least important things about him.

No. His drinking habits were the reason he was a homeless indigent and why he died at the age of fifty. It's sad but true that his drinking habits defined his life.

He was polite. Once he lost his backpack during a wild night that ended in the emergency room. He went looking for it the next day -- explaining in courteous tones at every stop that he'd become inebriated the night before and had been separated from his belongings.

"Would you be so kind as to check for them, please?" he'd ask. He seemed not to notice the sneer of the hospital security guard or the rolling eyes of the police property-room clerk, both dismissing this modest inquirer as a drunken Indian.

When I mentioned it later, Lowell shrugged. "Not everyone has been taught to be kind," he said.

I guess we have to give the guy credit. He goes on a bender, a "wild night", ends up in the emergency room, loses his most prized possession as a result, and then is courteous when he tries to find it the next day. Break out the humanitarian of the year award folks. We have a winner. By the way this "modest inquirer" was both a drunk and, as we learn later, an Indian so those who dismissed him as such were actually quite accurate in their assessments.

Kate then gets personal, bringing herself front and center into the story:

So this is how I came to love a homeless drunk. If you'd known him, you'd have loved him too.

Let's not make any rash assumptions Kate.

Several times I dared to embrace him -- and could feel the combination of hungry taking-in and stoicism in him.

The pictures of Hugh's snowmobile mishap are quite entertaining. The video of Saddam post-capture brought me much joy. From the number of e-mails I receive every day on it, I assume the Paris Hilton sex video is a must see. But I dare say that there nothing on this earth that I would want to watch more than a clip of the prim and proper, librarianish Kate Stanley hugging this smelly, disheveled bum.

She DARED embrace him! What have you done?

Kate continues her eulogy with a line that probably does more to rob the man of his dignity that anything he suffered in all those years on the street:

How eerie it was to see this good man -- half a year past his last shower, his fungus-flocked feet dangling beyond the bed -- lying so still.

Sometimes you don't need to include everything Kate. This was one of those times.

I don't know what's more outrageous. The fact that Stanley is holding this man up as if he lived some sort of noble lifestyle, when in fact he was nothing but a loser or that she has to include herself so prominently in the telling of the tale. Was it really ever about him Kate or was it always about you and your feelings of superiority over the rest of us because you deigned to spend time with him? She cares more than you do. Just ask her.
The Blog Is A Jealous Mistress

I too wish to congratulate Atomizer on his recent engagement. And I have a message for Dr. Neal Clark Warren as well. In your face doctor. E-harmony schmarmony. My match making record now stands at a perfect 100% success rate. Can you say the same?

My only concern upon hearing the joyous news was that married life might impact both the quantity and quality of posts from Atomizer (readers insert own jokes here). But after a discussion with Atomizerette (the fine woman really deserves a better name you know) my fears have proven groundless. She has promised that after he has finished the dishes, taken out the garbage, shoveled the sidewalk, folded the laundry, and knocked a few items off his "Honey-do" list, he'll be able to take off his apron and still have a twenty minute window for blogging each night. Welcome to married life my friend. It doesn't get any better than this.

Oh yeah, that whole standing up while urinating thing that you're so fond of? She said that's out as well.

Finally one bit of advice from one married guy to another soon to be married guy. No matter how bad it gets or how hopeless it seems, never, I repeat never do what this guy did.
Nice Magookins

What word in the English language has the most synonyms?

Roget, Merriam, and Webster may have their own learned opinions on this, but I’d be surprised if they could trump the astoundingly comprehensive list of one word in particular, compiled by National Review Online contributor John Bloom.

Given his affiliation with that fine publication, you’re probably thinking the word is “taxcuts” or “Clintonsucks.” But you’d be wrong.

Perhaps you’d come closer to the right guess if I told you that Mr. Bloom’s more well known journalistic alias is Joe Bob Briggs. Yes, the often times hilarious B-movie critic/historian and host of TNT’s “Monstervision” series of a few years ago, who revels in chronicling the subtle pleasures of movies such as “Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid” and “Femme Fontaine: Killer Babe for the CIA.”

Propriety prevents me from telling you the specific word, in all of its prurient glory. But maybe this short excerpt from Bloom’s list will be enough of a hint.

Barnes and Noble

Clear enough for you? I’m sure all but the most chaste among you have probably guessed by now, the word in question is:


Well, that’s one of the synonyms anyway. One I’ve never heard before. But I have heard of many on this list. In fact, I checked all the most obscure, scandalous, and goofy ones I’ve head over the years, and they’re all here. Which makes me think it is indeed comprehensive.

As such, Joe Bob’s Canonical “Hooter” List is a supreme accomplishment in the world of linguistics, the likes of which Noam Chomsky could only dream of . That is, if Noam Chomsky has time to dream of chachabingos, between all of that socialist revolution stuff infesting his subconscious. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why he’s so cranky all of the time.
Just In Time For Christmas

We present the complete collection of photographs from Hugh's Big Snowmobile Adventure. Yes, for the first time ever, they are all assembled in one place for your viewing pleasure. We have included a few never before released to the public. You'll laugh, you'll cry (from laughing so hard), and you'll laugh again.

See what happens when a talk radio host leaves the comforts of his studio and starts getting real. The Real Hugh. Available for a limited time only. (When I say limited I mean five or six years at the tops.)

Analysis of Editorial Paralysis

More on Nick Coleman. I always thought he'd someday be found out ripping off the wit and wisdom of Jim Klobuchar or at the very least, the back catalog of Katherine Lanpher. Reader Tom Rolfes speculates that he may be leaning on another crutch for inspiration:

In Minneapolis on business this week and read the Coleman article in black and white.  Two thoughts:  First, I shared your opinion...for a $100, Coleman could bring 20 homeless to see the Ice Palace.  Second, Coleman was channeling Red Sovine.

Minneapolis isn't near Appalachia, so you may not know who Red Sovine is.  Red was famous for such spoken/not sung hits as "Phantom 309" (a truck-driving ghost story) and "Giddyup Go" (a US country number 1 about a truck-driver being reunited with his son).  His all time best though was the million selling saga "Teddy Bear".  It gets a lot of play on the C&W/trucker stations around here because (I think) it is a tear jerker about a crippled, fatherless kid at Christmas time.  The kid is orphaned because daddy was a-high-ballin a load and got in an awful wreck.  The kid somehow winds up in Red's truck and drifts peacefully off to death without the Teddy Bear daddy was supposed to bring him. Yikes.

I have to admit, I thought Red came back through Coleman.  Don't actually do anything about the problem Nick, just let the homeless long for the thing that they cannot have, it makes a better story.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

I Could Easily Take Clark

DERRY, N.H. -- Moments after praising his opponents in the Democratic presidential race as worthy running mates, Wesley Clark said, in no uncertain terms, how he would respond if they or anyone else criticized his patriotism or military record.

"I'll beat the s--- out of them," Clark told a questioner as he walked through the crowd after a town hall meeting Saturday. "I hope that's not on television," he added.

It was, live, on C-SPAN.

The campaign's traveling press secretary, Jamal Simmons, was with Clark at the time.

"If anyone tries to question Wes Clark's character, integrity or his commitment to this country or its security, they're going to be in the biggest fight they've ever had," Simmons said.

Let's go Clark, ya ninny. I am openly challenging both your integrity AND your commitment to this country, you little fey, sniveling wuss. I am ready for the biggest fight I ever had (and I'm not talking about the time I challenged the Atomizer's knowledge of Andy Warhol's brief musical career).

Cheekbones And Hormones; 10:00 Mass


To: All priests, bishops, cardinals, etc. who have decision making ability in regards to the mass
From: JB Doubtless, average Catholic
Re: Requests to keep me coming back every Sunday

You guys want us to come back, right? I thought so. Then please, for the love of all that's holy, stop messin' with the freaking service! What am I talking about? Well, here's a short list I compiled after today's mass:

1. No extra peace session at the beginning. Don't make us introduce ourselves to our fellow parishoners okay? We're Minnesotans, and as such don't really like talking to strangers or having to touch them. There is one and one only offering of peace, don't make us do another.

2. No hand-holding! Ever! I had to suffer through the Lord's Prayer with the hand of a woman who smelled like she'd left the service six times to suck down a Parliament Menthol. No. Hand. Holding.

3. Sing songs that I know. I've been goin' to these events for some time now, yet I still
can go an entire service without recognizing a single tune. This is unacceptable. What's that? The choir director is sick of One Bread, One Body and wants to try out this delicious new piece he heard in New York? Sorry. I want the Catholic equivalent of classic rock when I go to mass--I'd better know every song by heart.

4. This one is perhaps the most important. Please do not stock the choir that stood in front of the congregation the entire time with young lovelies. Please. I'm trying to get my sinnin'
soul saved and I have to look at a 22-year old brunette with cheekbones to the ceiling and
the most perfect alabaster skin this side of Shania Twain? What are you trying to do to me?

5. The Blood Of Christ (otherwise known as the wine) is a bacteria frappe. You do know that we have some issues right now with the flu, right?

Thank you for your prompt attention to these matters. And can you slide me the number of the brunette?
Congratulations To The Atomizer!

Good show chap! I'll not soil your moment of glory with ironic put-downs, snide comments or passive-aggressive compliments.

I will wait one full day for that.


Exclusive Breaking News

The southwestern field office of Fraters Libertas has a stunning exclusive report.

The lovely Atomizerette has agreed to be my bride.

Now, I know this announcement is going to disappoint my legions of female fans out there, especially those who have become infatuated with me due to my appearance on the prestigious “Studmuffins of Conservatism” list. To those women I can only say…Saint Paul and JB Doubtless are still available. I’ll admit that JB is a little rough around the edges, but Saint Paul loves cuddling, bubble baths and poetry plus he is quite skilled in the art of macramé, so he’d be a great catch for any one of you.

To the Elder, I’d like to say thanks for the suggestions, but I did it my own way. During our after dinner drinks at a local restaurant last Friday night, I excused myself from the table and hopped upon the rented white steed that was waiting for me in the parking lot. I trotted back into the restaurant upon my mount, approached the table, doffed my cap in which I had placed a 10 carat whopper of a ring and said “Would m’lady care to join me in the bond of Holy Matrimony?” While the gesture went over well with the lovely Atomizerette, I spent the next three hours cleaning the horse droppings off the carpet. Live and learn, I say.
If Only More French Speakers Thought This Clearly

Wild! coach Jaque Lemaire must get pretty tired of listening to the inane questions of reporters who are over-thinking the game. In today's paper he gave this classic quote:

"We have sticks, and there's one puck, and you have to pass it around," Lemaire said. "There's a net on that end in which we try to score, and there's a net in our end in which we try to keep the puck away. The game doesn't change."

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Jingle Your Honey's Bells

Proposals: 10 holiday & New Year's Eve ideas

Just in case, you know, anyone out there is thinking about it.
They Got 'Em!

No, I'm not referring to the U.S. capturing the top tier of Al Qaeda members. That hasn't happened...yet. I'm referring to St. John's University, my alma mater, finally beating perennial powerhouse Mt. Union for the NCAA Division III national football championship. And they didn't just beat them. St. John's dominated Mt. Union throughout the entire second half to emerge victorious 24-6.

Now, I'll admit, I went to only one football game in my four years at St. John's. I spent most of my Saturdays drinking at the Midway and not huddled in frozen Clemens Stadium watching football. I did watch this one, though, and it was a tremendous game.

Congratulations to Gags and the boys. You earned it.
Why Do Fools Fall In Love?

In love with Howard Dean that is. A self-professed Deaniac explains:

You ought to listen to what the Dean community says about our candidate when we get together. One Deaniac recently told me, "It is nice to have a candidate I can be enthusiastic about instead of holding my nose and voting for." Another said, "He is the only politician who ever has motivated me." And still another: "We aren't afraid to make fools of ourselves for our candidate. And we love that!"

As I said, it is a phenomenon! Who would want to miss out on being a part of something like that?

Who indeed? Join the Deaniacs today and become a political fool. I have to admit, it's a hard message to resist.

(Thanks to Rick for the heads-up on this one.)
Paul Myhrom, Not What You Would Call A Metrosexual

A local business owner in this town named Paul Myhrom wanted to build a bike shop next door to his house. But, his neighbors nixed the idea by signing and delivering a petition to the city council that said a "business presence was unwelcome in our neighborhood."

Okay, fine he said. He has now decided to build two one-bedroom apartments that would be rented to the state Department of Corrections to house released prison inmates--including perhaps sex offenders.

"For my neighbors that didn't want a bike shop next to them, well, screw them," he said. I'm a capitalist and want to make the most of my property, and I've got a right to do that."

It's hard not to cheer for this guy and you've got to love how he just comes right out and tells everybody what he's doing. He didn't run to some lawyer or whine to the papers. Like a man, he dealt with his problem.

One of his neighbors, Myron Jostock, (a possible metrosexual) said this to the Rochester Post-Bulletin reporter who asked him about it:

"I thought he was just starting up some junk to shake up the neighborhood. Oh my God."

The Great American, Myhrom then went on to say that he would not rule out housing sex offenders in the apartments, although he would screen out Rodriguez types. With a young son at home is he scared that his family might be in danger from living next door to hardened criminals?

"My house has several loaded guns in it, so burglar or criminal beware," he said.

So I raise an Anchor Steam Christmas Ale in salute to Paul Myhrom of Rochester, Minnesota. May the fleas of a thousand camels infest the armpits his NIMBY neighbors!

Silly PETA. Mutilated Rabbits Are For Adults!

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has reached a new low with their "Your Mommy Kills Animals" comic book that they are currently distributing to innocent children whose parents decide to wear fur.

As sick as that is, I couldn't help but chuckle when I saw the artwork on the books cover because it reminded me a lot of a Frank Kozik poster advertising an Easter show at First Avenue I attended years back featuring Killdozer.

For the unfamiliar, Frank Kozik is a legendary concert poster artist based in San Francisco. He has made hundreds of bizarre and often disturbing posters for bands like Sonic Youth, The Cows, Babes in Toyland and The Melvins.

Often featured in his posters are images of mutilated rabbits, deranged pigs, and psychotic children.

There is one difference, however, between Kozik's work and the comic book put out by PETA. Kozik's posters are meant to be viewed by adults while PETA is pushing their disturbing images in front of children. This is reprehensible.
Correct Answer: I Love You Just the Way You Are

Honesty is such a lonely word. Everyone is so untrue. Except in Bayport. And boy are they paying the price for it. As reported in the Stillwater Gazette:

Angel Starr Kaster, 27, will face charges for second-degree assault, terroristic threats, and giving false information to a police officer, Bayport Police Chief John Gannaway said Tuesday, December 16.

The reason for all of the mayhem in this leafy, charming little town, hard by the St. Croix river:

Kaster attacked [her boyfriend Greg] Knoll with four kitchen knives after he commented on her weight. When Kaster mentioned that she wanted to lose 10 pounds, Knoll suggested she lose 20 pounds. “That’s what did it,” he told police.

Maybe it was more than just Knoll’s honesty that caused his stabbing. As there does appear to have been some extenuating circumstances:

[Kaster] was transported to the Hastings Detoxification Center after a preliminary breath test registered her blood alcohol level at .271, Chief Gannaway said.

Or maybe she was just having a bad day in general, as evidenced by her comments when placing a post-stabbing call for help:

Kaster will be charged also Wednesday with making terroristic threats, authorities said, for allegedly telling the 9-1-1 dispatcher on the phone “I’ll kill you.”

Or maybe this dispatcher was making cracks about her weight as well, it’s hard to say. To be safe, I offer this unsolicited advice to Mr. Knoll. Next time your girlfriend asks “do I look fat in these jeans,” DO NOT answer by saying: “I hear Evel Knievel is considering using your ass for his next jump.”
If You Be My Inver Grove Chicken

From today's Strib:

An Inver Grove Heights man was shot to death when he apparently interrupted a burglary as he arrived home, police said Friday.

The man, Dao Xiong was a truck driver and had three kids. Sad, yes, but why wasn't he packing a piece? But I digress, the most interesting paragraph came a little later in describing the family:

In February they bought their dream home on 2.3 acres in hilly Inver Grove Heights. It had room for their three children: a 9-year-old son and two daughters, ages 2 and 8; her husband's truck, and some chickens.

I love how the staff writer throws that in...and some chickens, as if it was as normal as having a garden or something.

Now I don't think I have ever been to Inver Grove Heights and frankly don't know exactly where it is, but as a homeowner I wouldn't be all too happy with some new neighbors who moved into their dream house on 2.3 acres, with enough room for their kids, their truck...and some chickens.

And that would make me a moral pariah.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Bloodied But Unbowed

He's only human folks. And when he's cut, he bleeds.

This actually explains quite a bit. Yesterday I received a number of e-mails on the appearance of Hugh's teeth in his dazed and confused picture. A few readers suggested a fund raising drive to cover the costs of whitening. The most interesting theory I heard was that Hugh was actually a distant relative of Britain's Royal Family.

The truth of course was much simpler. He had a mouthful of blood. In fact he had to be given the once over by an oral surgeon to make sure there was no permanent damage (he's the fellow on the right).

Unfortunately, there is no video of the Saddam-like inspection of Hugh's oral cavity. Treated like a beast he was.

But he was a trooper and despite all he went through, Hugh remained chipper and kept a smile on his face. Either that or he was still in a state of delirious shock.

He still had to tie up some legal matters as he was forced to sign a statement agreeing to cover the costs of the damage to the sled. He also picked up a couple, thirteen, fourteen candy bars for the ride back to Denver.

But we have learned that Hugh's legal troubles are far from over. We obtained a copy of a writ, to be filed shortly with the state attorney general that seeks to revoke Hugh's titles in Minnesota because of his careless behavior in Colorado:

Whereas, on or about the thirteenth day of December in the year of the Lord 2003, one Hugh Hewitt, claiming entitlement under the authority of the State of Minnesota to the titles of Master of the Horse, Sheriff of Latin and Commissioner of Hockey, did travel to the far-off State of Colorado and while there did willfully, intentionally and with reckless abandon, operate a snow mobile in such a way as to do serious and intentional injury to a living member of mother earth’s, inhabitants, namely, a member of the conifer family of trees, and

Whereas, it is unlikely, improbable, nay, impossible for any true Minnesotan to lack the skills necessary to operate a snow mobile without injuring one of mother earth’s, inhabitants, namely, a member of the conifer family of trees,

And Whereas, in as much as he, although disputed in some quarters, was invested with the several listed honors of the State of Minnesota at the time of the injury to one of mother earth’s inhabitants, namely, a member of the conifer family of trees, the actions and misdeeds of one Hugh Hewitt in the far-off State of Colorado, as herein above described, have brought great shame and scandal to the State of Minnesota,

Now therefore, one Hugh Hewitt has forfeited any and all rights, privileges or accommodations that the aforementioned titles, although still being disputed in some quarters, may have entitled him to.