Dismal Purple?

We’re into election season – and when you’re a conservative blogger, one of the highlights of the season is the “Minnesota Poll”.

The poll has a long history of comic inaccuracy – inevitably in favor of Democrats.

Now, in 2006 they didn’t get a lot of focus, because the elections themselves went to solidly Tic everywhere.  This covered up the fact that the polls seemed to the not-so-casual observer to have spotted a couple of points to every DFL/Tic candidate in recent memory; if the final Minnesota polls before the last several elections had been correct, we’d be talking today about Senators Wynia and Mondale, Governors Humphrey, Moe and Hatch, Representative Luther and Wetterling…

So this next bit from the latest poll is probably good news for John McCain:

Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton enjoy comfortable leads over Republican John McCain in Minnesota, a state widely expected to be a hard-fought battleground in November.

A new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll found that Obama leads McCain 51 percent to 38 percent among the state’s registered voters. Clinton leads the Arizona senator 49 percent to 40 percent.

Of course the poll’s methodology or raw numbers are nowhere in evidence; the MNPoll has been caught grossly oversampling Democrats for as long as I’ve been following it.

And that’s just important when you’re dealing with politicians whose entire strength is among the “base” – which it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to note isn’t Mac’s game anyway:

Independents, who will almost certainly be crucial to victory in November, may still be largely up for grabs, as none of the three candidates can claim majority support among that group.

It’s another season; it’s another chapter in the book “How Worthless is the MNPoll?”

That’s Why It’s Called A “Cycle”…

…rather than a “straight line“:

Three years ago the choices for entry-level buyers like Sarah Kiefer were so meager that with a budget of just $120,000 she all but gave up on buying a house.

The down market revived that dream.

This week, Kiefer will close on a Colonial-style fixer-upper in north Minneapolis with 1,800 square feet and a fireplace for $75,000.

Which, eventually and more or less inevitably, brings values (aka prices) back up again.

Just keep that in mind when you read the big-money-backed gloom and doom industry’s broken record proclamations of doom (which will supposedly stop the moment Barack Obama hypothetically gets inaugurated…).

Style Point

Say what you will about immigration – I, for one, favor making it safe, available and legal. 

People have different takes on the “enforcement” side of things, of course; last week’s roundup of illegals in Postville, Iowa was a rallying point to pro-legal immigration supporters and a poke in the eye of the anti-sovereignty forces…

…one of whom, it seems reasonable to assume, is the Minnesoros Monitor‘s Anna Pratt. 

But it’s not really the immigration talk that grabbed my attention about her piece in the mSM on Saturday.  No, it was this bit here:

Late Friday afternoon, a crowd assembled on a vibrant street corner in Minneapolis…

I, for one, would like to find that “vibrant corner” and kick back on a chaise lounge.  It’d be like one of those “magic fingers” beds in the hotels, only free.

Well, given that it’s Minneapolis, we’re not sure about the “free” bit, either.

I Don’t Do “Action Alerts”…

…but I’d like to direct you to the campaigns of our two NARN2 guests today – Barb Davis White, who is the GOP-endorsed candidate for Congress in the Fifth Congressional District…

…and Tom Effertz, who is running to win back District 54B, in the north-east ‘burbs of Saint Paul.

By the way – I got flak from both sides over my post last week asking for CD2 Republicans to peel off a couple of bucks for the likes of candidate White in the Fifth and Ed Matthews in the Fourth. 

The flak from the left – as with this post from leftyblog Cardiopulmonary Patient in a Red District – was pretty ludicrous stuff, essentially saying “Republicans should just give up, since we’ve won these districts every election since the Truman Administration”.  Sorry, Blue – I don’t believe in sinecures, and I do relish a good fight against a self-satisfied, smug, overconfident foe, since it makes the eventual victory all the sweeter.

Some of the flak from the right hit a little closer to home; little birds tell me that some of the CD2 leadership wasn’t happy with me.  They’re right not to give in to complacency – it’s a lousy year for any Republican in Congress to feel complacent, even when up against a train wreck like Al Franken (or, maybe, a punchline like Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer).  But let’s do be realistic; even Democrat talking heads are advisingsell” on Sarvi.   And Michele Bachmann is going to go over Elwyn “E-Tink” Tinklenberg like it’s a prison shower-room beatdown, and that’s even if “Dump Bachmann” isn’t a high-profile voice in the campaign (and if they are, tack on another point or two for the incumbent).  

Minnesota will never really join the 21st century until the GOP contests the urban 4th and 5th Districts.  Now – with sharp, articulate candidates like White and Matthews, who will shred the hapless-outside-of-friendly-rooms Ellison and the brittle, incoherent McCollum in debates and on policy – is as good a time as any to start trying.

We Know Your Sort, You Little Guttersnipe

Today on the Northern Alliance Radio Network:

  • Volume I “The First Team” – Chad, John and Brian are doing a “Best Of” from 11-1.
  • Volume II “The Headliner”Ed is back in the studio today!  We’ll both be in the studion from 1-3.
  • Volume III, “The Final Word”King joins Michael from 3-5.

So tune in to all six hours of the Northern Alliance Radio Network, the Twin Cities’ media’s sole guardians of sanity. On the air at AM1280 in the Metro, or streaming at AM1280′s Website, or via podcast at Townhall.

And don’t forget the David Strom Show, with David Strom and Margaret Martin, from 9-11!

(Title h/t SLF)

You Never Count Your Money When You’re Sitting At The Table

Doug Grow in the MinnPest does an endzone happy dance over the kickoff of Minneapolis City Hall’s new, hideously expensive, purely symbolic “Green Roof”:

Workers will begin tossing dirt on conservative talk radio skeptics and 5,000 square feet of roof at the Minneapolis City Hall Saturday.

Just a hunchy, Duggles, but I don’t think the last dirt’s been tossed on this issue.

We’re gonna keep this one on the radar for a loooooong time.

Continue reading

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, Part LXXIX

It was Monday, May 16, 1988. 9AM.

It had been an interesting weekend. Wyatt was high most of the time. He’d gotten fired from Hot Rod’s, so he was looking to be even shorter on the money. And I was starting to look for a way to jettison his freeloading ass.

And my best way of doing that might just be arriving. Today, I was supposed to call Charles, the program director in Orlando, to talk about flying me down for a job interview for an evening talk show – the perfect next step in a career that’d been on hold for over a year, now.

I threw caution to the wind; at 9AM sharp, I dialled the number.

Buenos Dias, Radio Espanol por Orlando!”, a cheery and not-remotely-Anglo voice welcomed me.

“Oh, I’m sorry”, I stammered, hoping it was a wrong number, even as I remembered enough high school Spanish to know exactly what she’d said. “I’m looking for Dave”, the program director.

“I’m sorrrry, sir”, said the woman. “Thees station is now Spanish rrradio”

Dave, the entire staff, and the plan for the evening news magazine were out on the street.

I hung up. And stood by the phone for a couple of minutes.

Finally, I put a leash on Mookie, and went out for a long walk. My legs felt like they had sandbags strapped to the ankles. My vision narrowed to a faint little tunnel at times. I felt sick, intermittently, with flashes of anger interspersed.

I walked for hours – at least until late afternoon. I came home as Teresa was leaving. “Hi, Mitch!”, she chirped, looking fresh and blond and beautiful, in her uniform for a day at work at the nursing home. “Hey, Teresa”, I nodded.

I took a shower, got dressed for work – City Limits, tonight – and passed Wyatt in the hall. “You got the rent money?”

“I’ll get it, man”, he said, going into the bathroom with his “night out on the town” clothes, sounding perfunctory and clipped and not at all like he was gonna get it, man.

F*ck it.

As I walked out to the car, Michelle walked up the sidewalk. “Hi, Mitch”.

“Hi, Michelle”.

I slumped into the driver’s seat and sat for a moment, my arms feeling too heavy to lift to start the car.

It feels like I’m watching someone else’s life, I thought. And it’s starting to suck.

Corruption Finds Its Outlet

On the surface, the conviction of Anthony Pellicano on 76 of 77 counts against him closes the chapter on yet another tedious LA trial with media and showbiz connections.  The temptation to wash ones hands of the whole sordid business – like yet another OJ or Heidi Fleiss trial – is certainly there.

But Patterico has a great wrapup of what this story means.

Read it,naturally.

It’s illegal to pay off judges, cops and prosecutors.  It’s against the law to tamper with juries.  But paying off the press is not only legal – it’s a cost of doing business for some people and, as Patterico shows, part of a day’s work for parts of the media.

Everybody Join The Fun!

We’ll accept it as a given that nobody in the Twin Cities media excites more deranged, dissociative ranting than Katherine Kersten.

There’s really no arguing the point. Let’s move along with the premise.

Yesterday, Kersten took a tongue-in-cheek swat at perhaps the dumbest thing I’ve read in my life; a petition to have her removed.

And reading the petition is enough to make you both howl with laughter and pray for a driving rain of Zoloft to descend on the city; yes, Twin Citians, your fellow citizens are that stupid, and their votes do count just as much as yours.

Note to Kersten’s many dim-bulb critics; a columnist is a very different thing than a reporter. That’s why Nick Coleman can say things like “our schools are burning” without actually having to show evidence of a school belching smoke and flame.

Oh, and the dissociation isn’t just the deranged hoi-polloi of the febrile lefty-in-the-street; Paul Schmelzer, the Minnesoros Monitor’s occasionally-capable writer, who notes:

One signatory of the petition might lend more credence to that criticism than most: the Pioneer Press’ David Hanners, who won a Pulitzer Prize for the Dallas Morning News in 1989, was the eighth to sign.

Which is something of an appeal to false authority on the one hand – so what if he won a Pulitzer? It doesn’t mean he’s not an agenda-driven (and indeed as you continue through Schmelzer’s piece, he is; he’s a Moslem, and he’s irate over the TIZA school flap from a while ago; while I’m not placed to judge the accuracy of the complaints, I’m buggered to think of any other examples of the Monitor according religious faith any status in complaining about media coverage).

Indeed – given that Mindy Greiling’s op-ed detailing Kersten’s supposed inaccuracies has been pretty roundly savaged, one has to ask – what has Kersten supposedly gotten wrong?

Sigh.

At any rate, the “good” news is that now, 2,000 years of western civilization and 232 years of American democracy have reached their zenith with…

…the online Petition-o-matic site.

Ryan Rhodes has given it a test drive, and has started a demand to toss Nick Coleman for actual crimes against truth vastly worse than those of which Kersten is wrongly accused.

Please – circulate it, and sign it.

And for my part, I’ve started one of my own.

Do it for the children!

Gush. Gush. G. R. Anderson’s Calling Your Name Now.

G. R. Anderson – a writer who apparently spent his career at the City Pages rehearsing to be the next Doug Grow, building a career on soft-core DFL flakkery – gushes about MN Senator and and DFL hatchetwoman Tarryl Clark.

Did I say gush?  Yes, I did – like three times.

Well…?

Mid-session Fridays are sometimes a ho-hum affair at the Capitol. But media conferences are held on that day to review the past week and preview the week ahead, something the DFL caucus often does by putting Tarryl Clark in front of reporters.

One Friday morning last month, Clark, a state senator from St. Cloud, readied to meet the press before a polished wood conference table in a hearing room. The media savvy Clark always banters with the assembled scribes, talking heads and camera jockeys before getting down to official proceedings. (She’s also normally dressed in some shade of blue.)

Note to Mr. Anderson; I’m told she also likes walks in the rain and hates shallow people.

On this day, murmurs around the Capitol were that Gov. Tim Pawlenty had hopped a flight out of town, presumably to Washington, D.C.

Clark, who possesses a sharp tongue and tenacity, rarely misses a chance to take a loyal oppositional swipe at the governor, and she uttered something about a “super-secret” trip by  Pawlenty in a tone that suggested a wink and a nod: Surely you guys will report on this, right?

Surely he will.  In a reporters notebook festooned with scribbles; “G. R. Clark.  Mr. G.R. Clark.  Mister G.R. Clark”.

A cynic might see a ploy here — a leader of the less-than-moderate Minnesota DFL Party trying to position herself as a moderate who can work both sides of the aisle, unite Minnesotans, yadda, yadda, yadda … But Clark appears sincere.

Maybe a few hearts doodled around the margins.

King Banaian is a little less lovestruck over Senator Clark:

MinnPostToasties runs a long, gushing review of Sen. Tarryl Clark, repeatedly bringing up “she could be governor”. It does its best to portray her as moderate; I’ve heard her “my daddy was a Republican” pitch before. Those of us familar with her views on taxes, what bills we try to pass in response to a bridge collapse, stadium taxation without referendum, or denying access to a business development tool preferred by businesses in her own district, might not be as in awe of Clark as the Post is.

Let’s go back to that “I started out as a Republican” pitch. Anderson:

“I grew in a Republican family, and I voted Republican when I first started voting,” Clark admits, saying that she was hewing to her family members’ core beliefs.

I’d like to know, of course, what Senator Clark thinks that means – or, more importantly, what it’s supposed to mean to voters.

After all, I used to be a liberal!  What did I take from it?  (It’s fodder for another discussion).

What did Clark take from her alleged Republican background (bearing in mind we’re talking about pre-Quist, pre-Reagan Minnesota Republicans, which is to say “DFLers with better suits”?

“They’re pretty moderate. They believe that it’s important to make investments, but they didn’t like the idea of government being in people’s lives, local control, values I still hold.

Of course, the “value” is expressed by equating “Local Government Assistance” (or, as King notes, “ …on taxes, what bills we try to pass in response to a bridge collapse, stadium taxation without referendum, or denying access to a business development tool preferred by businesses in her own district” with “control”; the comparison works in the same way as “Freedom is slavery” works.

Things I don’t necessarily see the Republican Party doing.”

The biggest failing of the MNGOP in the past two years is that it has so abdicated its role as defender of smaller, more local government that Tarryl Clark can say this without getting hooted off the stage by any objective observer.

Well, not G.R. Anderson.  He’s back in his room, building a photo collage.

Reporters nibbled a bit on Pawlenty’s absence from St. Paul, and Clark was happy to offer some red meat. “The governor’s focus may be a stumbling block,” she said at one point. “Depends on whether he’s here or not.” And, later: “If his words were a bridge, I’d be afraid to cross it.”

Her words were wry, with no hint of anger. And they had the effect of painting Pawlenty as, like Clark often puts it, an “absentee governor.”

At the end, one rumor that was hanging in the air finally came as a question: Have you thought about running for governor?

A Bill So Bad…

…that even the Strib, which has never met a spending program it doesn’t like, gets it:

A number of members of Congress have celebrated this week’s passage of the $290 billion farm bill as a great victory for bipartisanship in Washington.
Proof, if any were needed, of the dangers of “bipartisanship” on any issue that doesn’t start with Pearl Harbor being bombed.
If this is what bipartisanship looks like, maybe we should hope for a return to gridlock.
I’m going to bronze that paragraph.
The Bush administration initially took the right stand, proposing to eliminate any subsidy payments for farmers who make more than $200,000 in annual gross income. It later indicated that it could live with a $500,000 limit. However, the bill passed by the House and Senate embraces farm incomes of up to $750,000 and nonfarm income of $500,000 for individuals…A majority of House Republicans broke from the White House despite the president’s veto threat, and the Senate passed the bill Thursday in an 81-15 vote, making an override certain. That a veto-proof majority in both houses supported the bill is testament to the power of the agricultural lobby, especially in an election year.
It’s testament, also, to how the ag lobby makes people lose their minds – how it can make Norm Coleman sound more like Amy Klobuchar than Jim Ramstad does; how it can make the conservatives on the Plains keep electing the likes of Byron Dorgan and Tom Daschle and Kent Conrad and John Tester to Congress.

Finally, it’s proof that the national GOP has lost its roots.  If they can’t hold the line on a pork barrel farm bill in a season where the ag industry is doing better than it has in my lifetime (half of which was spent in farm country, much of that spent in ag-focused news media), when can they?

Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life!

Al Franken sacks his old “campaign manager”, brings in a new one.

What a difference a change in perspective makes: with the news, Roosh…:

Franken brings on new campaign chief, Minn. native has experience unseating incumbents

I don’t care if she can make Monkeys come out of Franken’s [rear exit]. Franken’s issue is his own dumbassness.

Brodkorb:

Hamline political science professor David Schultz is hardly more kind in assessing the state of the Franken campaign. ‘Is this the classic putting lipstick on a pig?’ he asks. ‘Does Franken have fundamentally bigger problems that changing campaign managers won’t solve?’

Schultz is struck by the static nature of the polls in recent weeks. ‘Unless the Franken campaign can get a bunch of people to rethink Coleman and therefore rethink Franken the race is over.’”

And finally, Doug Grow – for non-Twin-Citians, that means “the most in-the-bag member of the in-the-bagosphere”. I add emphasis:

The Franken for Senate campaign became a little more traditional today with the announcement that Stephanie Schriock will become campaign manager in early June. To date, Franken’s campaign has not had a single person with the title of campaign manager…Franken campaign officials say the hiring of Schriock doesn’t signal any major changes in the organization but is a traditional step in preparing for the race against incumbent Norm Coleman. The hiring apparently assumes that Franken will win endorsement at the DFL convention, which is to be held June 6-8. — Doug Grow
“Nothing wrong here, folks. Pay no attention to the elephant behind the curtain”.Grow was a columnist for the Strib - and, next to Lori Sturdevant, the most reliable DFL flak in the state – since the end of the Civil War.Hard to believe they’re covering the same story. In a sense, I guess they’re not.

In A Just World…

…the Cubs would win the Series, the people of Myanmar Burma would toss off their military junta for their crimes of neglect…

…and the people of the Fifth District would shake their heads, realize “Oh, Crap – Keith Ellison is one crappy representative!”, and carry Barb Davis White to Washington on their shoulders.

But this is the real world – so Barb’s gotta work for it.

Not just a “real world”, mind you, but a “real world” where the local mainstream media is completely in the bag for the DFL.  As a result, GOP candidates can expect boundless hatchet-jobbery

…while Democrats  can expect to get their message out pretty much as they want to; the Strib, at least on its editorial pages, is a PR firm for the DFL in all but name.

So last week, the Strib uncritically ran Rep. Ellison’s fairly vapid attack on the Supreme Court’s upholding of Indiana’s voter ID laws. 

Barb Davis-White promptly wrote a rebuttal.  And she’s waiting for the Strib to print it.

And waiting.

And waiting…

Well, I’ll print it here – and if you’re a blogger who assails the Strib, I hope you will, too.  I’m not going to inset my comments – but I will add emphasis to parts I think are particularly important:

The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 opinion, has ruled that it is not too burdensome to ask citizens to show a picture id when voting.  Now, most people would say that this is common sense.  In fact, a Rasmussen poll found that 82 percent of Americans, including 75 percent of Democrats, believe that “people should be required to show a driver’s license or some other form of photo ID before they are allowed to vote.” The civil rights of every American are violated when the fraudent votes are counted in an election.     The integrity of the ballot box is just as important to the credibility of elections as access to it.

Representative Ellison does not appear to be blessed with the common sense that the legislatures in Indiana and several other states have.  His recent editorial in the Star Tribune spits out in the style of a first year law student accusations of “disenfranchising voters and likens it to a “poll tax.”  He even brings up the concurrence of Justice Scalia, obviously in an attempt to obfuscate the fact that the court’s most liberal justice wrote the court opinion.  As Justice Stevens points out, “Because Indiana’s [identification] cards are free, the inconvenience of going to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, gathering required documents, and posing for a photograph does not qualify as a substantial burden.”   Again, common sense that is lost on Mr. Ellison. 

In a democracy, the voters, through their elected officials, have a right to pass laws to protect the integrity of their democracy.  There are countless stories where ACORN, a liberal activist group, has been found guilty of voter fraud, from submitting false voter registration forms in Kansas City to bribing voters with cigarettes in Milwaukee.  

We face many threats to our liberties, and these right to vote is an important one not to be taken lightly.  But when you watch what voters in most of the world go through to exercise their franchise, including brave Iraqis who defy sniper fire and suicide bombers, is it too much to ask that our voters show an ID? 

Ellison’s reponse is vacuous demigoguery – good enough for a DFL meeting, but not good enough for an elected official that represents a big, diverse district. 

Pucker Up

I suppose it makes sense:

Democrats have chosen a blogger from each state to “participate” in the Democratic National Convention in Denver. And the winner from Minnesota is: Minnesota Monitor.

I suppose in its own  way it’s cheaper  than hiring a PR firm, while  being pretty much the same thing otherwise…

Whew. That Woulda Been Close!

Andy Birkey at the Minnesoros Monitor takes umbrage at the Minnesota Family Council’s response to the Legslture’s Sex Ed bill:

Part of the Family Council’s objections to a comprehensive sex education bill is that it would teach teens about certain sex acts and the risks inherent in those acts. The group opposes sex education that includes anal sex and anal-oral sex — a point it makes clear in its robo-calls. However, the bill itself would not mandate the teaching of these sex acts, only the teaching of “medically accurate and age-appropriate” sexual health information with curriculum decisions left to parents and school boards.

Which is either a complete explanation or a lie-by-omission.  Any socially-conservative parent in the public school system knows that “leaving decisions about these things that are left to parents and school boards”  is shorthand for “the Legislature will open the door, and the School Board meetings will be bum-rushed with activists who’ll ram through whatever it is they want”.

So the MFC responded with a phone message campaign.  Birkey notes…:

But, in its zeal to have the bill defeated, the Family Council in all likelihood inadvertently taught a few kids a little bit about anal and anal-oral sex. A colleague of mine shared a story she heard at her son’s soccer game last week. A local parent’s teenager picked up the phone and got an earful about anal sex from the Minnesota Family Council.

In fact the Family Council’s tirade about anal sex is left on answering machines and voicemails if no one picks up — answering machines and voicemails that children often check for messages.

Ow.

How dare  the Minnesota Family Council send a phone message that a small film of students might hear with information that is utterly morally objectionable…

…before the Minnesota Federation of Teachers – those noted experts on parenting and sexuality – can recite it to captive audiences of students.

Shudder.

They’re Screamin’ To Please Me, Gotta Make It Look Easy

It was thirty years ago this year (does anybody really know what date it was? Does anybody really care?)  We’re almost halfway through the year, so I’m as close to right as a wild guess can be) that Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes released one of the best albums in the history of rock and roll – Hearts of Stone.

The Asbury Jukes were a flash in the pan on the national popular chart scene – “Hearts of Stone” got on the Top40 Album charts, and their only Top40 single, “It’s Been A Long Time”, didn’t happen until 1991, with the help of Bruce Springsteen, Miami Steve “Silvio Dante” Van Zandt and Jon Bon Jovi. But they’ve flitted about the edge of the scene for over thirty years; they were the frat party band in “Adventures in Babysitting”; the band, or at least its horn section, “La Bamba’s Mambomen”, are the heart of the “Max Weinberg Seven”, on the Conan O’Brien Show (and Weinberg has sat in with the Jukes many times – but more on that in a moment).

But that was now; “Hearts of Stone” is then.

The Jukes are a fossilized remnant from an almost-forgotten era; a horn-based rock and roll band that slathered itself in Stax/Volt-era Rhythm and Blues. Their first two albums were loud, horn-driven party rock, laced with covers and throwaways – think a Lamont Cranston band album, if you’re from the Twin Cities. They remind the casual listener of the J. Geils Band, which was from a very similar genre (Geils had to rent a horn section – and while John Lyon is a great harmonica player, Geils’ Magic Dick is the Stevie Ray Vaughan of the instrument). And, most importantly, they came from the Jersey Shore, where throughout the late sixties and early seventies the various members mixed and mingled with the cast of characters that fans of the scene know well, and the casual listener probably only knows via Bruce Springsteen. The Jukes, led by “Southside Johnny” Lyon, were a long-time mainstay in the bar scene on the Jersey Shore; to read the tales second-hand in books like Dave Marsh’s “Born to Run”, Jersey Shore bands were like Twin Cities’ leftyblogs; eventually everyone played in every other band. Several E Street Band members, in fact, sit in on “Hearts”.  Max Weinberg plays drums on several tracks; Steve Van Zandt played in the band until Springsteen called him over to to the E Street Band during and after Born to Run; his distinctive, leaky, sloppy Strat playing accents several cuts on Hearts (“Got To Find A Better Way Home”, the title cut, “Light Don’t Shine” and others); Patti Scialfa hung out with the band for years before joining the E Street Band and, eventually, Bruce’s nuclear family.

Growing up in North Dakota, the Jukes were something you caught from the occasional zealot; her husband (and her brother in law) was the only other person in the history of Jamestown North Dakota besides yours truly to have actually heard of them. 

The problem with the Jukes was that they were a great bar band; at their best, they were amazing live performers – on stage.  And like a lot of great bar bands, it took a really good producer to get “their best” off the stage and into the studio.  “Miami Steve” Van Zandt was, for a few years, that producer; he married the band’s tight ebullience with the best material the band ever recorded; although Hearts has been called “the best album Springsteen never released, Bruce only wrote two songs – the title cut and the album’s single, “Talk To Me”, and co-wrote a third (the claustrophobic but propulsive “Trapped Again”) with Van Zandt and Lyon.  Van Zandt penned the rest of the album, and rode herd on the band in the studio.  The end result was that rarest of artifacts; a great bar band making a great record.  (Van Zandt repeated the feat two years later, with his uncredited production (along with Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson) of most of the Iron City Houserockers’ classic Have A Good Time (But Get Out Alive)). 

As to the individual songs?  Where do you start when every song is a highlight?  The first song, ”Got to Be a Better Way Home”, is a frantic rave-up with an off-kilter beat (that is begging for a ska remake); it pops up as a bumper on the NARN occasionally.  Others – “This Time Baby’s Gone for Good”, “I Played the Fool”, “Take It Inside” – are in the same weight-class; big beefy bar-room raveups with glorious, horn-driven choruses; in an era when people thought Chicago was great music with horns, the Jukes showed the world how it was supposed to be done.  If this album doesn’t make you do something – dance, drive too fast, smile – then you must be dead.

Along with “Got To Be…”, though, the standouts are “Light Don’t Shine” – a weary, guitar-driven breakup song that sounds like cigarette smoke and too many boilermakers and too much heartache:

They came to shake my hand
I don’t want them to touch me now
They said, “Congratulations” but it’s too late now
Where were they when I called?
How could they forget it all?

Didn’t you get what you need?
The fight was lost, it wasn’t meant to be
It isn’t as hard for you to leave
There’s no easy way for me

And of course, the title cut.  “Hearts of Stone” was a Born to Run-era Springsteen song that never quite fit onto one of Bruce’s albums.  Slow, smoky, launching with a classic Van Zandt guitar solo over tinkly last-call piano, it reminds me of Springsteen’s “Racing In The Street”, which came out the same year on Darkness On The Edge Of Town – maybe less symbolic, but more personal:

You stare in the mirror at the lines in your face
And you try so hard to see
The way things were when we were at your place
Everyday was just you and me
And you cry because things ain’t like before
Well, don’t you know it can’t be that way anymore
But don’t worry baby

I can’t talk now, I’m not alone
So put your ear close to the phone
This is the last dance, the last chance
For hearts of stone

It’s the best album the Jukes ever did – and it’s well within Steve Van Zandt’s top ten, and probably up in Springsteen’s top 25, too.

So if you like the genre, check it out.  I have no idea if you can find the album on CD, anywhere in the world; I know the album is on ITunes (because, dang skippy, I bought it). 

Anyway – happy anniversary, Bruce and Steve and John.  Whatever date it actually came out.

I Stand Sit Corrected

Shawn takes issue with something I wrote yesterday.

Well, not too much issue…:

(This can be read in a sarcastic, slightly condescending tone, as I have a 1/2 of a brandy manhattan in me as I write this. I want to make it clear that I am a big fan of Shot In The Dark, Fraters Libertas, MDE, SCSUScholars, PowerLineBlog, Northern Alliance Radio Network, Dennis Prager, KSTP talk radio 1500 (“Direct Connection”) (well, anything pre-2002), Summit Beer, and the Minnesota State Fair.  I am not a big fan of John McCain, Ed Schultz or Arne Carlson.)

Duly noted!

Mitch,

In today’s “Off the Handle,” you write: “In the summer of 1982, I was working at a little country station in Carrington,ND (pop 2,000).  It was a Sunday afternoon.  I was playing “The Lutheran Hour”, a recorded church service, around noon.”

The Lutheran Hour is NOT a recorded church service.  The Lutheran Hour IS “the world’s longest-running, Christian outreach radio program. It proclaims the message of Jesus Christ to more than 1.2 million people each week over 800 radio stations across North America.”[1]

A recorded Lutheran church service would have hymns, an order of service including confession & absolution, readings from the Old Testament, New Testament and The Holy Gospel, a recitation of the Apostle’s or Nicene Creed, various prayers including the Lord’s Prayer.  This all in addition to a sermon from the pastor.  It would actually take about an hour.  The Lutheran Hour, despite it’s name, is only 30 minutes long.  (Think about that one for a little bit.)

The Lutheran Hour is, essentially, only the sermon part of a church service. There is an opening musical piece by a grand choir and/or organ, and a short music piece following the message.  There is also a questions/answer session, and the Pastor leads the listeners in a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. But most of the other hallmarks of a Lutheran church service are missing.

Being a devoted listener to The Lutheran Hour, and an elder in my church, I just needed to set the record straight.

Well, to be fair (to me) it’s been 26 years since I’ve actually played the show.

He responded, so I’m gonna guess…he’s…

Oh, and if the above didn’t say so in so many words, yes, I am a member of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

Yep.  Figured it!

Thank you.  That will be all.

I regret the error.

Not as much as I regretted the original incident…

I Want To Ride My Bicycle: Season 2, Week 4

Last year, I started commuting to work by bike.  I waited until the kids were out of school – so between that and some mechanical problems (my old Fuji 10-speed had seen fairly little use since the late eighties), it was really mid-June befere I could start biking regularly.  And given that it had been 17 years since I’d biked regularly, it took me until mid-July, probably, before I was in any kind of shape.

Still, it was a great investment of time – and it got me into the best shape I’ve been in in years (which was not an especially high bar to jump, but as the man said, from small things big things one day come).  Most of all, it just felt good; a brisk ride in the morning is a great wake-up; a vigorous ride home at night is both relaxing and a great way to keep your energy up.

So this year, the goal was to try to get on the road by the beginning of April.  Naturally, we had blizzards, unseasonable cold and miserable slop well into the first part of the month; I didn’t really manage to get on the road much before the middle of the month, squeezing in part of a decent week of biking before the trip to New York.

But since then, it’s been pretty steady going.  And dayum, it feels good.  My evening commute features one long, ugly uphill climb; it took a few weeks of steady effort last year to climb it without getting off and walking it.

This year?  Well, it’s still a long hike, but I’m gratified to say my legs held up OK over the winter; I made the climb on my first day, and haven’t had any problems since then.

Not that it’s fun, per se.

Usually.

But yesterday, I was reminded of the enduring, world-conquering power of testosterone.

I was sitting at a traffic light at the beginning of the longest, ugliest leg of the climb, in my sweatshirt and windbreaker pants.  A twenty-something pulls up next to me in full spandex biker regalia, with a “Obama” sticker on the side of his backpack.

Game on.

Now, the guy’s a real, genuine biker, with legs like tree trunks – kind of like mine were 20 years ago, when I was biking constantly.

As we jumped off from the light, I got behind him and followed him up the hill.  He started pouring it on; I kept on going, staying about four feet behind his back tire…

…and BOOM – we were up the hill!  Done!  Blammo!  Just like that!  Barely breathing hard!

I stayed in his slipstream for probably two miles, pacing him pretty nicely.  Now, for all I know he had mononucleosis and felt half-past-dead and that was the only reason I could keep it close; I am, after all, 45.

Still, that long, ugly hill practically vanished.

So my conclusion; without testosterone, humankind would still be sitting in caves gnawing on grass seeds.

I hope I can find some unwitting nemesis for tonight’s ride…

Off The Handle

We’re shocked, shocked to see the leftymedia screeching like weasels during procto exams over the now-infamous O’Reilly meltdown tape.

Of course, it’s an all-too-common thing in broadcasting across partisan lines (the linked clip includes Chris “Tinglylegs” Matthews, Sam Donaldson, and a bipartisan slew of other talking heads – especially, I think, in TV, with its staffs of executives and swarms of people and everybody making decisions but nobody really in charge…

…so I’m usually pretty sanguine about these things.

Of course there’s a story behind it.

In the summer of 1982, I was working at a little country station in Carrington,ND (pop 2,000).  It was a Sunday afternoon.  I was playing “The Lutheran Hour”, a recorded church service, around noon.  There was a break in the show where I played a couple of commercials while I cued up the next disk (that’s right – vinyl disk) on the air.

Commercials back then were on “carts” – plastic tape cartridges that looked and worked like 8-track tapes.  The cool thing about ‘em, compared to reel-to-reel or cassette, was that they were “fire and forget”; the tape, like an 8-track, was an infinite loop; a silent electronic cue recorded on the tape would stop  the tape at the end of the spot (or sound bite or hockey goal or whatever was on it).

If it worked right.  Which it almost always did.

But on that Sunday afternoon, something – a dirty play head, a bad cue signal, something - caused the cue to slip.  So about ten seconds after I hit the next spot, the first spot started playing again.  Perversely, I couldn’t stop the cart deck; one of the features of the cue tone, as I recall, was that it disabled the “Stop” button until there was another”Start”.

“WHAT THE F*** IS GOING ON HERE?”  I bellowed.

And looked, and noticed that I’d left the mike on.

I sat back in the chair and waited for doom.

But that Sunday, it never came.  Not a single phone call.  Best of all, my boss – the station’s owner, who listened to the station from sunup to sundown every day – was taking his only vacation day of the summer that weekend.

But since then, I’ve tried to never swear around a microphone.

Just saying, Chris and Bill and the rest of you…

Baghdad Blue

I’ve long been convinced that 90% of leftybloggers crib most of their writing from about a dozen original “proto-leftyposts” that appeared on Daily Kos, Atrios and RushLimbaughtomy maybe five years ago. 

If not the entire post, certainly the headline. 

And while that does mean the leftyblogger can dash past the whole “writing a catchy headline” bit – it’s all been done for you, by Kos, back in ’03! – it sometimes leads to some comical lapses.

The other day, I wrote a post about how Republicans in “safe” congressional districts – like Michele Bachmanns’ CD6 and John Kline’s CD2 – should oughtta think about diverting a buck or two to the long (very, very long) term goal of contesting CD4 and 5 (to say nothing of winning the First back).  The reason, of course, is that, whatever Tic nominee Steve Sarvi’s pluses (he’s an Iraq and Kosovo vet, is the former mayor of Watertown, and is not Colleen Rowley), barring a major “oops”, there’s just not that much to worry about at this point.

In other words; nobody’s scared of Steve Sarvi.

So I read “Blue Man in a Red District” this morning, and my first instinct was…

…to call 911.  The guy’s blue.  Obviously a cardiopulmonary problem.

But with that out of the way, his top post this morning was slugged:

Why are the right wing bloggers scared of Sergeant Sarvi?

And I thought “Good question.  After pointing out quite clearly that this right wing blogger – the only one cited in his post – is not scared of Sarvi, why am I?”

It’s a puzzle.

Blue actually does go on to post some information that isn’t the inverse of factual:

CD 5 has not elected a Republican to Congress in 45 years. The last 4 elections, a GOP candidate has garnered no more than 26%.

CD 4 had not gone red since 1949 and no one has come closer than 25% of Betty McCollum in years.

That’s right, Blue.  That’s one of the things you’re supposed to do in politics – change peoples’ minds.  It’s  tall order in my town, but if Brett Schundler could do it in Jersey City, we can do it here.

Bear in mind, I said “change minds”; not merely write a headline; with a nod to Blue, “Why Is The Fourth District Really Republican?”

It’s harder than that.

Anti-Semitism Among Us

The “Anti-War Committee” is hosting a pro-”Palestinian” march this Saturday, to commemorate the exile of the “Palestinians” from Israel.

Unmentioned, of course, will be the fact that this problem could have been solved sixty years ago; the Israelis have always been perfectly willing to co-exist with Palestinians Arabs, provided they weren’t all about throwing Israel into the sea.  Arabs in Israel are currently the only Arabs in the middle east who live under a functional, secure democracy.’

But that means nothing to the local  “peace” movement, who will continue to parlay the racist myth that the Palestinian “Diaspora” is a sign of Zionist racism rather than Arab-government dogmatic opportunism.

They are, as Neal from Loyal Opposition puts it, perpetrating a fraud on the spectators.  He describes the situation:

The Anti War Committee believes that “Israel as an illegitimate apartheid state, and we stand in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for justice and self-determination”. It requires no stretch of the imagination the AWC is calling for the destruction of Israel and murder of the Jews – the stated goal of Hamas, Hizb’Allah, Fatah, Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

These are the useful idiots that will be marching in the streets of Minneapolis on Saturday: sympathizers to the slaughter of every Jew in Israel. By acting as mouthpieces and spreading their vile propaganda, the AWC, PSC, and the rest of their mob are complicit.

The progeny of Grand Mufti Haj Muhammed Amin al-Husseini will slither up Hennepin Avenue, with their Palestinian jihadist flags and kuffiyehs, bleating about how horrible it is for Israel to defend itself against the jihadist armies who would see the Jews expunged from the Earth itself. Again – and again – and again – they will spew their ahistoric slander upon our streets and pollute our eyes with their libels, until, at Loring Park, anti-Semitic excrement and obscurantists will retch their Jew hating venom.

Of course, there’s a short view, and a long view:

G-d will look down upon the blasphemers of civilization and decency and He will know what must be done.

G-d, in His infinite wisdom, shall eventually cause the rains to fall and the Park will be cleansed, and the Jew haters will be as dust in years hence.

The trees and flowers will bloom, the grass will grow, and the birds shall sing.

And the Jews will still be here.

Speaking of perpetrating frauds – the Minneapolis E-”Democracy” discussion forum, run by MinnPost writer David Brauer – allows the Anti-War Committee to post announcements for the demonstration, but refuses to allow Neal to expose the other side of the issue.  This is of a piece with E-”Democracy”‘s bigotry on issue after issue; suffice to say that if they get any tax money, it needs to be stopped.

Salt Water In Our Veins

North Dakota native exercizes his home state’s maritime heritage, assumes command of submarine:

Cmdr. Nathan H. Martin was promoted to captain at a change of command ceremony April 25 in Naval Base Kitsap Bangor’s Deterrent Park, Wash. He replaced Cpt. David A. Ogburn, who commanded the vessel for 31 months, since 2005.

“This is a great crew,” Martin said in a press release. “I have seen how they operate over the last month and I am excited to take command. I have seen this crew perform to the highest of standards and I know that it will not change for me.”

Martin graduated from Clifford-Galesburg High School and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from North Dakota State University in 1988. He still has family living in the Grand Forks area.

For all you North Dakotans who go down to the sea in ships.

So There’s Good News

If you read this blog, you’re used to being eight months ahead of leftybloggers on most things…

…including the pressing issue of promotional copy on packaging.

Last September, I  wrote about a fairly absurd-sounding claim on a Coke package:

Now, the back of this Coke case said something to the effect of “Coke promotes good hydration!  With every sip, you’re taking in water!”

Um, yeah.  You’re also taking in caffeine, which is a diuretic that leaches water from your system.  You’re also getting a ton of sugar – probably close to half the weight of the beverage – which takes even more water for your liver to purge from your system.  Hydration my ass; I’d be amazed if drinking a Coke doesn’t leave you dryer than you started.

Charlie Quimby noticed the same things.  But – this is important – he adds some information…:

You can learn more about the wonderful effects of Coca-Cola products at Coke’s website, where there’s a Hydration Calculator to help you estimate your hydration needs.

For example, if you are a 45-year-old male who weighs 175 pounds, you need 125 ounces of daily hydration from food and beverages, whereas, a 90-year old, 300-pound  male would need 125 ounces. Age 19 and only 120 pounds? You need 125 ounces, 13 ounces more when you were 18, so be sure to drink up.

And some topical good news:

…you’re probably  already thinking [as, indeed, I did]: “Wait a minute. Isn’t the caffeine in many Coke products a diuretic? So instead of hydrating, it flushes fluids from the system?”

According to this research into the effects of caffeinated drinks on athletic performance:

When no exercise was carried out, caffeine acted as a strong diuretic, hiking urine production by a torrential 31 per cent. However, it was a different story altogether during actual cycling. As the cyclists pedalled along, the use of a caffeinated sports drink didn’t boost urine output at all, compared to drinking the caffeine-free beverage. In addition, caffeine had no effect on heart rate, body temperature, or perceived effort. This was in spite of the fact that the athletes were swallowing the equivalent of two cups of coffee per hour during their three-hour exertions.

Great!

Now, if they can only get past that whole “Coke Classic leaves me feeling loggy and sick” bit, we’ll be good to go!

It’s My Blog, And I’ll Be Solipsistic If I Want To

It’s been a while – but it’s time for another of Red’s memes.

1.ONE OF YOUR SCARS, HOW DID YOU GET IT?

Right above my right eye. I was two years old and standing in the back seat of the car (this was long before car seats) of a ’59 Buick when Mom slammed on the brakes. I went fliying over the passenger-side seat (this was before seats locked into place) and did a face-plant into the glove box (this was before dashboards were padded). I got a bunch of stitches. The scar’s still there. Twenty years to the day later, I had another head injury – I smacked myself in the forehead with a rifle scope because like a moron I didn’t brace the stock against my shoulder. Six more stitches.

2. WHAT IS ON THE WALLS IN YOUR ROOM?

Pictures of the kids, and some hand-prints and hand-casts they made when they were little.

3. DO YOU KNOW WHAT TIME YOU WERE BORN?

3:18PM. I think there was a snowstorm underway although – this is important – I’m getting this second-hand.

4. WHAT DO YOU WANT MORE THAN ANYTHING RIGHT NOW?

A few of the typical (and not-so-typical) teenage difficulties to just abate..

5. WHAT DO YOU MISS?

Playing music I wrote in a band in front of a crowd in a bar.

6. WHAT IS YOUR MOST PRIZED POSSESSION?

Hard to choose; my guitars, or a little pocketwatch my son bought me at a flea market that says “Dad” on the case.

7. HOW TALL ARE YOU?

Just a hair shy of 6’5.

8. DO YOU GET SCARED IN THE DAY?

Not “Scared”, per se. Just anxious. I’m kinda a worrier.

9. WHAT’S YOUR WORST FEAR?

Outliving my kids.

10. WHAT KIND OF HAIR COLOR DO YOU LIKE ON THE OPPOSITE SEX?

Red – especially the dark auburn/copper kind of thing.

11. WHAT ABOUT EYE COLOR?

Maybe this makes me an insensitive philistine, but I rarely notice eyes until I’ve known someone for a while. Except for my kids.

12. COFFEE OR ENERGY DRINK?

Please. Coffee. “Energy drinks” taste like tutti-frutti battery acid, and they all make me feel ill.

13. FAVORITE PIZZA TOPPING?

Margarita style – tomato, olive oil, basil, onion, oregano, and just a dash of really good mozzarella.

14. IF YOU COULD EAT ANYTHING RIGHT NOW, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

I have a total jones for Bun Heo Nuong – Vietnamese char-grilled porkcops with rice noodles – right about now.

15. FAVORITE COLOR OF ALL TIME?

Green. It makes me relaxed and happy.

16. HAVE YOU EVER EATEN A GOLDFISH?

Nope. I couldn’t bear to do that. I empathize too much.

17. WHAT WAS THE FIRST MEANINGFUL GIFT YOU EVER RECEIVED?

I don’t know that I can pick a first. I know that my parents gave me a watch when I turned 16 that meant a lot to me.

18. DO YOU HAVE A CRUSH?

You could say that.

19. FAVORITE CLOTHING BRAND?

Dude. I’m a straight guy. I’m lucky if I remember store names, much less brands.

20. WHAT KIND OF CAR DO YOU WANT?

I’d go for a Jeep CJ5.

21. WOULD YOU FALL IN LOVE KNOWING THAT THE PERSON IS LEAVING?

I’ve fallen in love under dumber circumstances…

22. HAVE YOU BEEN OUT OF THE USA?

Yes.

23. YOUR WEAKNESSES?

Appeals to sentiment (especially from the kids).  The siren song of a hot bright day and an open bike trail.  A gorgeous hook.  Collarbones.

24. MET ANYONE FAMOUS?

Many, many of them. It’s from having been a talk show producer 20 years ago, being a disc jockey, hanging around the Minneapolis music scene, and my blogging/talk hosting today. It’s’ turning into quite a list; just free-associating, I’ve met President Bush, Ricky Skaggs, Jean-Pierre Hallet, Janet Jackson, Prince, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Paul Westerberg, Bob and Tommy Stinson, Chris Mars, Bob Mould/Grant Hart/Greg Norton, Chris Osgood, Ingrid Chavez, Garrison Keillor, Courtney Love, Kat Bjelland, Peter Garrett, Andy Partridge, Timothy Leary, Meier Kahane, Shadoe Stevens, David Pirner, Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa, the surviving members (as of 1986) of Badfinger, Mark Brzezicki, Daryl Strawberry, Mark Farner, Wendy O. Williams, LeeLee Sobieski, Ron Wood, John Prine, John Lott, Jimmy Dean, Debbie Gibson, Emmylou Harris, Curt Sliwa, Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, Jack Buck, Tommy Kramer, Jeff Osborne, Herb Brooks, Herb Carneal, Arne Carlson, and of course (duh) Laura Ingraham, Bill Bennett, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt, Rusty Humphreys, Ed Schultz, Tim Pawlenty, Jesse Ventura, Norm Coleman, and most of Minnesota’s congressional delegation. If you count phone interviews, you could add Duke Cunningham, Ann Coulter, Bob Costas, Roy Firestone, Rich Lowrey, Michael Ledeen, Mitt Romney, Ken Mehlman, Michelle Malkin, and a slew of authors, bloggers and pundits.

25. FIRST JOB?

Other than a paper route for the Jamestown Sun, it woulda been my gig at KEYJ Radio when I was 16.

26. EVER DONE A PRANK CALL?

Not with a stranger. With friends, many.  Not sure, but I’m uncomfortable doing them; I always think people will make out my voice.

27. DO YOU THINK EVERYONE OUT THERE HAS A SOUL MATE?

I do not believe in soulmates. .

28. WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE YOU FILLED THIS OUT?

Waiting for my kids to come home from the rec center.

29. HAVE YOU EVER HAD SURGERY?

Twice; an abdominal thing when I was two, and a badly-broken hand when I was 26.

30. WHAT DO YOU GET COMPLIMENTED ABOUT MOST?

My sense of humor, my skill at my day job, my blog. No, really.

31. WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY?

24 hours where nobody knows where or how to find me.

32. HOW MANY KIDS DO YOU WANT?

Right now? Two fewer than I have.

I’m a kidder.  I  kid.

No, two is two more than I, or anyone I ever grew up with, figured I’d ever have.

33. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE?

Family legend has it I was named after the Mitchell (South Dakota) Corn Palace.

34. WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST TURN OFF WITH THE OPPOSITE SEX?

Women who can’t hold up their end of a consversation.

35. WHAT IS ONE THING YOU MISS ABOUT GRADE SCHOOL?

The sense that the world was a big puzzle just dying to get solved.

36. WHAT KIND OF SHAMPOO DO YOU USE?

“I cried because I had no shoes, until I saw a man who had no feet”.

37. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING?

My handwriting is inscrutable. People think I’m writing Arabic.

38. ANY BAD HABITS?

So many. Twisting my hair. Chewing my fingernails and toenails. Drumming my fingers (in incredibly complex polyrhythms; my jazz technique is most advanced on the drumming finger). I’m like the Keith Moon or Dave Brubek Gene Krupa of finger-drumming.

39. ARE YOU A JEALOUS PERSON?

Not as a rule. If I’m jealous, something’s very wrong.

40. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON, WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU?

Whatever my many other faults, I’m generally a good friend. Stress and overwork has led me to let some connections lapse that I regret – but I do my best.

41. DO YOU AGREE WITH FRIENDS WIH BENEFITS?

“Agree?” Well, I don’t think it works often; someone almost always gets their heart broken, eventually.

42. HOW DO YOU RELEASE ANGER?

Chopping wood. A couple hours at the range. Playing the electric guitar. Going to Karaoke nght and singing Clash and Pistols songs.

43. WHAT’S YOUR MAIN GOAL IN LIFE?

Drive my enemies before me and hear the lamentation of his women.

No, really – raise kids who aren’t too f***ed up. Hopefully. There’s a ways to go.

44. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE TOY AS A CHILD?

Don’t think I had one.  I had a few that I enjoyed.  Lincoln Logs rocked.

45. HOW MANY NUMBERS ARE IN YOUR CELL PHONE?

I counted; 87.  My cell phone is also pretty much my PDA. Not that it’s like designed for that, like a Blackberry or an IPhone; it’s one of those ultra-cheepo “Marbl” phones from Virgin Mobile. But I keep every number in my life in there.

46. WERE YOU A FAN OF BARNEY AS A LITTLE KID?

I was a fan of Barney when I was 29. When Bun was a baby, her mom worked days and I worked nights and stayed home with the baby. “Barney” was two half-hours a day where I could relax, go to the bathroom, make a sandwich, whatever; Bun was always completely rapt. I used to roll my eyes at my hYpStr friends who ragged on Barney; you bobbleheads have no idea.

47. MASHED POTATOES OR MACARONI AND CHEESE?

Potatoes by a nose. With lots of garlic. (For that matter, I put garlic in my Mac and Cheez, too).

48. DO YOU HAVE ALL YOUR FINGERS AND TOES?

Close call, but…yes.

49. DO YOU HAVE A COMPUTER IN YOUR ROOM?

Nope. Gotta draw the line somewhere.

50. PLANS FOR TONIGHT?

Good question!

51. WHAT’S THE FASTEST YOU’VE EVER GONE IN A CAR?

135-140 or so.  The fastest I’ve ever driven was maybe 110.

52. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO?

I have ITunes on Shuffle. Right now – “Sign O The Times”, Prince.

53. LAST THING YOU DRANK?

I had a beer or two at Flash‘s garage the other night.

54. REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT?

Center-right libertarian-conservative first and foremost. That makes me a Republican, although I’ve left the party in the past. My litmus tests are defense, taxes, government intervention, constitutional originalism, civil liberties and spending.  I summed up what I believe pretty well over here.

55. DO YOU HAVE A LOW SELF ESTEEM OR A HIGH SELF ESTEEM?

Somewhere in the middle.

I have a decent sense of myself. But like a lot of people from the rural midwest, I grew up with a bit of an inferiority complex; “knowing your place” is such a big part of rural Scandinavian culture.  I never subscribed to it, so I went out into the world with a huuuge chip on my shoulder about it.  It’s faded a lot since I was in my twenties – getting sorta established with ones’ life and having, frankly, bigger things to worry about will do that – but there’s still a little bit of it in there still.  Being from the rural great plains and going to an obscure little college to some people translates to “dumb rube”.  And that impression – real or imagined – motivated me with an intensity that scares me today, looking back.  I have never lost a competition that mattered – for a job, a contract, a promotion, whatever – to an Ivy Leaguer, to a New Yorker, to a person with the “right credentials”, to anyone who has ever discounted or underestimated me because of my background, my “credentials”, my alma mater or gender or anything else. Whatever I lack in “credentials” or innate intelligence, I make up for in hard work, selective callousness (I’m usually a pretty warm person, but not when this pathology is in play) and, frankly, that kind of monomania that comes from letting the chip on your shoulder turn into that sort of deep-down simmering rage that warms your tummy on cold days, and sustains you when you really need food or sleep.

But I’m better now.

56. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING?

Right now, a how-to book on ocean sailing boats.