April 02, 2014
Politics typically isn't my thing. I prefer feces and fart jokes, which I guess isn't all that far removed from politics.
Still, sometimes news headlines come together in such a way that they're like a total political eclipse, which is to say, it's like being doused in political diarrhea.
And, here in Minnesota, there's been a couple of political eclipses that just scream to be made fun of.
For example, late in March it was reported that there was a bill going through the Minnesota legislature that would rescind an immunity clause granted to lawmakers that makes it okay for them to drive under the influence.
That's right. In our state Constitution, there's a provision that specifically protects legislators from arrest if it impedes their ability to attend and vote on particular matters of state.
If that doesn't strike you as outright crazy, consider this: Senate lawmakers tabled the bill that would have rescinded the law because they decided rescinding the law wasn't necessary.
Therefore, important matters of state--like naming the Minnesota Poet Laureate--can be railroaded through by the governor himself, but the right of lawmakers to speed to the capitol building sloshed on hooch to vote on stuff shall not be abridged.
Speaking about our governor, there was a recent National Public Radio (NPR) interview with Gov. Dayton I unfortunately listened to, during which he sounded like Sylvester the Cat, twirling marbles in his mouth, while suffering a stroke. He made Jesse Ventura sound downright coherent.
Anyway, inebriated voting would certainly explain the other Minnesota political eclipse that caught my attention recently.
The same Minnesota Senate that dragged its feet when it came to rescinding their immunity from drunk driving has been eagerly pursuing their goal to erect a new $90 million legislative office building. Apparently, $90 million is the appropriate amount taxpayers should pay to build a legislative drunk tank.
A $90 million facility for legislators to conduct business that could just as well be conducted from an idling van should strike most people as perhaps a bit excessive, but apparently Minnesota lawmakers think they're entitled to such opulence.
After all, if you're going to table a bill that would rescind your right to drive blitzed like a moonshiner, you should be able to do so from the comfort of a $90 million facility.
Maybe $90 million is a fair trade off if it means keeping our legislators off the public streets.
March 29, 2014
Stop Hitting Yourself Again!
I’ve gradually come to the conclusion that being a parent is 99 percent making it up as you go along. The remaining one percent is sleep, if you’re incredibly lucky. If not, that one percent is insomnia.
My children—a son and daughter—are four and three years old, so they’re at that precious threshold when they don’t care if Dad loses his mind, so long as they get their way.
I have particularly defiant children—said every parent throughout human history—and my children simply won’t follow instructions. They exhibit the following characteristics:
n My son hates when people sing.
n My daughter hates, well, everything.
Those characteristics can present challenges enough just on the home front, but when we take our children out in public, those characteristics can be downright mortifying.
My wife and I recently tried enrolling both our children in the same pre-school class. It’s not an intense learning class, but there are occasional intervals when the children are asked to sit in a circle, with a parent, and sing little learning songs. And I believe I mentioned my son hates when people sing, and my daughter hates, well, everything.
My wife insisted I take the children to class the second week, and the look on her face said “you’re in for a real treat!”
One of the first things I noticed when I entered the classroom was that I was the only father present. One of the other things I noticed was that none of the mothers had more than one child present. This should have tipped me off right away.
The first half hour of “class,” basically consisted of the children playing with whatever toys or project caught their attention, and if there’s one thing my kids love it’s being able to do whatever they want, so that first half hour went brilliantly.
And then. . . it was time to sit in a circle and sing. I later referred to this transition as “The Happening.”
My son, sensing singing was imminent, ran out of the classroom and was halfway down the hall before I had even stood up. To prevent that from happening again, one of the teachers closed the door, which prompted my son to duck into a small, plastic toy house, where he repeatedly slammed the door shut over and over while yelling “STOP IT!” to the kids singing in the circle.
My daughter, on the other hand, simply refused to sit in the circle, and instead was intent on playing with a little race track toy that had her completely enthralled. When I attempted to pry the toy from her and sit her in the circle with me, she started to throw such an epic tantrum, all other tantrums look to that tantrum for inspiration. Among other things, she started slapping herself in the face and yelling “OUCH!”
So, there was the scene. The lone father, trying to wrestle with his tiny daughter, who kept wriggling her hands free so she could slap herself and yell “OUCH!” Meanwhile, across the room, my boy was sequestered in a plastic toy house, slamming the door and yelling “STOP IT!”
I swear I could actually feel all the mothers—with their single, angelic children—vigorously passing damning judgment on my complete apparent lack of parenting skills.
Thankfully, the next day I witnessed a mortified mother swoop after her son to stop him from urinating in a drinking fountain.
So, that made me feel a little bit better.
March 07, 2014
March 05, 2014
Phoning it In
I often hear it stated that we’re lucky to live in an age where technology makes our lives so much easier and that staying in touch with friends and loved ones is now just a screen swipe, mouse click or speed dial away.
I suppose there’s some truth to all that, but all it takes to nullify those perceived benefits is to accidentally run your cell phone through a washing machine.
Yes, yes, I did exactly that.
It was just one of those stupid things that happens. I was wearing carpenter jeans with all the extra little pockets, and I had stowed my cell phone in one of those said pouches. It was a long day, and my jeans ended up getting particularly dirty, so I just threw them in the washing machine when I got home. When I went to put my clothes in the dryer, I felt the familiar block of plastic sliding along the bottom of the washing machine.
It was odd, because I knew in my sinking heart that the phone would never sing a ringtone ever again, but then again it just looked so undamaged and, well. . . CLEAN. So, naturally, I tried to turn it on, thinking “maybe, just maybe, it survived its trip through Maytag’s cyclone.”
Of course, it didn’t. My cell phone was dead. Clean, but dead. It even smelled fresh, like Tide, but it was still definitely dead.
I stood there for a few seconds, with one question going through my head: “What is my wife going to say?”
Putting my cell phone through the washing machine is just one of those things I don’t particularly want to tell my wife. Even though my cell phone wasn’t an expensive, uber-smartphone capable of driving a car, it was still something that I have to replace, and I’m almost certain the memory card also didn’t survive the washing machine, so there’s going to be some inconvenience involved, and I don’t like to tell my wife about impending inconveniences. I prefer complete domestic tranquility instead.
But she’s going to figure it out eventually—probably when she reads this, I’m betting. So, maybe I should be more proactive about breaking the news.
WIFE: Why didn’t you answer your phone today?
ME: Oh, that’s right, I forgot to tell you: my phone stopped working.
WIFE: What? When did it stop working?
ME: Well, that’s hard to say, although I’m betting it happened somewhere between the agitator starting and the spin cycle.
WIFE: What is that supposed to mean?
ME: Oh, oh nothing. Hey, look at my new phone!
WIFE: Why do you have a new phone?
ME: No reason.
WIFE: You’re not making any sense!
So, in closing, I think I’ve proven that technology actually makes communicating with friends and family much more difficult.
March 04, 2014
Putin Stresses Strategic Importance of Crimea
Russian President Tells Obama: Crimea River
MOSCOW (Rhodes Media Services) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin took time today to respond to President Obama's repeated claims that the Russian invasion of the Crimea region of Ukraine would result in serious consequences.
"Russia is on the wrong side of history," said Obama, before listing several obscure steps that may or may not be taken. "What we are also indicating to the Russians is that if, in fact, they continue on the current trajectory that they're on, that we are examining a whole series of steps -- economic, diplomatic -- that will isolate Russia."
Putin responded, saying Russia is already pretty much isolated, and that it couldn't care less if economic or diplomatic steps, or any series of steps, were being examined, looked at, scrutinized or appreciated from a distance.
He then went on to stress that Crimea represented a very real strategic geography due to its position on the Black Sea, due to sea ports and economic trade that he said must be protected.
"To Russia, it's the Crimea Peninsula that's important," said Putin. "But, I want Mr. Obama to realize how important it is for him to Crimea River."
While acknowledging there is actually a Crimea River in Crimea, and that it serves some mild economic advantage, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that Mr. Putin's remarks were probably poorly translated.
"Quite frankly, Putin's comments made no sense as they were delivered," said Carney. "I think they accurately reflect German Chancellor Angela Merkel's belief that Putin is 'out of touch with reality.' For example, Mr. Putin also said--while laughing so insanely hard he had to drop to his knees, I might add--Secretary of State John Kerry, who is in Kiev, could 'Crimea Lake' before Mr. Putin rolled over on his back in hysterics and said 'no, no, he can CRIMEAN OCEAN!'"
Carney then went on to insist there was no such thing as a Crimean Ocean. He didn't think. He had to check with the President.
February 19, 2014
So, the Metrodome is going down. Leaving aside all the dumbery of it going down in the first place--to be replaced by something I'll probably never be able to set foot within unless I strike a nice vein of gold under my basement--let me just pause and consider what the Metrodome meant to me.
- I remember my father taking me to a few Twins games. I don't remember the games in particular, but I do remember the batting practices, waiting for the hopeful stray ball to make its way into our obscure seats on the upper tier. A couple years later, when we were on the lower tier, along the foul ball line, my father sat between my brother and myself, so he could reflexively push our heads down and out of the way in the event of a line-drive foul. Never happened, but they were awesome seats all the same.
- The 1984 Harmony Cardinal Class C football championship team. I still can't tell you much about that game, beyond the fact Harmony won against the Glendon-Felton Buffalos, and I was there, and the town talked about it for years.
- There were a couple of years when I was a member of the Minnesota School Patrol when we were gifted free tickets to go to Twins games, and we were transported to the Cities in a van. Again, I remember the van rides and the batting practices much more than I recall the actual games. Why I remember van rides with a bunch of kids and a strange adult should probably be left up to a psychiatrist.
- 1990 Harmony Cardinal football year. We had a really good team, and made the state tournament. All the tenth grade players were brought up to varsity to make the overall team seem like it had massive depth. I spent all the playoff games sitting on the bench with my belt cinched up so unnecessarily tight that I subsequently spent the halftimes lying on locker room benches on my stomach battling epic gas. We got within one game of being able to play in the Metrodome, but ended up losing in overtime.
- 1991 Harmony Cardinal football year. We had another good team, but we ended up smacking into a state playoff team that had a running back that was apparently a stone golem. The guy didn't seem too bright, but they handed him the ball and it was like Forrest Gump built like Hitler's bunker. "ME TAKE BALL! ME RUN! FOR EVA BRAUN, JENNY!" The guy would run through our line, trailing tacklers behind him like a kite tail. I watched the whole thing from the bench, thankfully, because it looked like it really hurt getting hit by that massive pile of asshole. We lost, but we did get to go to the Metrodome as spectators. We almost were detained by dome security because we tried to walk on the turf to "see what it felt like." It felt like we were really close to being detained by dome security, in my opinion.
- 1997 Vikings game. I attended this Vikings game with several friends. Two things to note. Thing 1) The quarterback, Brad Johnson, threw a pass that was deflected by a defender. He then caught his own pass, and ran it in for a touchdown. The only such incidence of a quarterback throwing a pass to himself for a touchdown.
Thing 2) I had gas so bad that day, that I kept farting and farting and farting, until the people a few rows up from us started chanting "STINKY BOYS! STINKY BOYS!" Unfortunately, I have no video of that.
1998 Vikings Game (yes, THAT Vikings team). Same group of friends attending (plus Jeremy Stevens). Thing 1) Randall McDaniel was penalized for taunting the opposing team as he loped into the end zone for a defensive touchdown.
Thing 2) I had gas so bad that day, that I kept farting and farting and farting (and Jeremy Stevens kept telling me to "do it again" *giggle* "do it again" *giggle*), until a woman a few rows up from us yelled "What, did you shit your pants!? It's fucking disgusting!"
So, yeah, they're pretty much tearing down the Metrodome because of me.
February 01, 2014
I Put That Under Where?
I think it says something about myself when there’s a breaking news item, and then my Facebook page is bombarded by “Friends” repeatedly linking to that particular news item. Some people may think it reflects the fact I’m a journalist, and my friends are simply pointing me towards an important news story that absolutely requires my attention.
In this case, however, the news story in question was about a stepson who somehow managed to kill his stepfather using an atomic wedgie. While the story didn’t carry the weight of, say, the Watergate break in, I have to hand it to my Facebook “Friends” for pointing me towards the kind of story I can really sink my teeth into, so to speak.
Now, I could pick from hundreds of sources to cite this particular news item, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. According to a Jan. 9 news report from ABC News: “A brutal fight between a former Marine and his stepfather in Oklahoma ended in the stepfather’s death by “atomic wedgie,” also known as death by underwear.”
First off, let me just state that I’m shocked this incident happened in Oklahoma. Second off, I’m leafing through the AP Stylebook right now and nowhere does it indicate that “atomic wedgie” is also known as “death by underwear.” Maybe I’m looking in the wrong section. Back to the news item:
“Denver St. Clair had been arguing with his stepson, Brad Davis, 33, last month when the two began to fight. Davis told police that St. Clair had spoken “ill of Davis’ mother,” and then threw the first punch. The men had been drinking, investigators told ABC affiliate KNXV.”
There’s a lot to digest in that paragraph. Firstly, the victim’s name was “Denver” and he lived in Oklahoma, so that just doesn’t fit. Secondly, I highly doubt St. Clair shouted “Your mother is foul, and I speak ill of her!” before unleashing a fierce round of fisticuffs. Thirdly, the men had been drinking? I simply have a hard time believing that. Now, the article really gets into the inverted pyramid guts of journalistic story telling:
“Davis said he fought back and then gave his father an ‘atomic wedgie” in which he stretched the elastic waistband of St. Clair’s underwear up over his head. The move is most often used as a prank among children and teenagers.”
Underwear—particularly brand new underwear—can exhibit astonishing properties, so much so that scientists are considering including it in the periodic table of the elements under the designation “Sm” for “Skidmark.” Among those properties is extreme elasticity, including the capability, in some cases, to be stretched in between the buttocks and over the forehead.
I’ve actually witnessed—and experienced in one unfortunate case— underwear suspend a person in mid-air, before the elastic band separated from the rest of the garment. But, an atomic wedgie resulting in death? Consider me skeptical.
“According to the affidavit obtained by the affiliate station, police said the underwear left a ligature mark around St. Clair’s neck and noted that there was blood around the kitchen and living room.”
If the underwear band was made of barbed wire, I could maybe see this as a plausible scenario. As it is, I suspect, er, FOUL play was involved.
Just in case, however, I think there should be a nationwide underwear ban. You know, to be safe.
January 24, 2014
A Tale of Two Shitties
In contrast, the Minnesota exchange is expected to have these features available this fall, making our state exchange both easy and attractive to use for businesses and their workers. It’s clear that the state team working on the exchange’s development put a high priority on meeting business needs. In turn, that should boost the confidence of the business community in this new marketplace as fall enrollment nears.
In measured, almost clinical tones, outside experts called in to review the state’s new MNsure insurance marketplace delivered a grim diagnosis of the fledgling website’s condition. Just two months before another key deadline to sign up for 2014 coverage, MNsure has deep technical design flaws, unreliable functionality and a woefully understaffed call center — problems that make it unlikely initial enrollment projections will be met.
January 13, 2014
Never Feed Him After Midnight
I simply have to learn Photoshop. MS Paint just isn't cutting it.
January 02, 2014
Seared Into My Memory
The retail giant, Sears, is pulling up stakes at the Apache Mall, thereby leaving a gaping hole in the mall shopping experience. It's almost impossible to imagine Apache Mall without Sears, because it's existed there for as long as I can remember.
Some 20 years or so ago, I bought a Dungeons & Dragons game from that Sears for a Macintosh Performa 405 computer. The game consisted of six floppy disks, so I knew it was state-of-the-art. So, it's difficult to consider Sears being no more, at least in the mall.
Still, time marches on, so Sears has to go. But, they didn't blink out without a retail assault that included sending out employees bundled in 50 layers of clothes to stand outside in frozen wintry awefulness holding signs that read "Up to 60% off!" I assume that referred to going out of business sale prices, but it may have been announcing how many fingers the sign holders had lost to frostbite. Maybe both.
Both my kids had to undergo haircuts at the mall while Sears was undergoing its last retail death throes, so I suggested to my wife that we stop in and pick over the bones.
It was quite the surreal scene, what with the throngs of shoppers eager to snap up the retail remains, and signs announcing "Everything must go, down to the bare walls!" I wasn't sure I wanted to see Sears' bare walls, because that sounded somewhat intimate and shameful, but I felt compelled to visit the spot where I purchased that Dungeons & Dragons game two decades ago.
Most of the remaining merchandise had been moved to the ground level, but the escalators were still operating, which meant my children simply HAD to ride them. The scene on the second floor was somewhat shocking: it was just a bunch of empty racks and shelves bathed in florescent light.
But there, on the floor, were two full size bed mattresses. They were the floor model samples, but they were in excellent condition, and I immediately saw my wife's eyes gleam excitedly. I knew right then and there that we were about to own those two mattresses.
My four-year-old boy had long since outgrown his crib bed, and my three-year-old daughter is not far behind. My wife had been mattress shopping on and off for the last couple months, and I knew, standing in that mostly-empty Sears wasteland, that her mattress search was over.
So, as Sears blinked out of existence from the mall, it nevertheless managed to snag one more purchase out of me and usher in a new sleeping era for my children.
Sears made my children grow out of their cribs. I'm not sure I can ever forgive Sears for that.