Friday, August 29, 2014

The Friday Link for 8/29/14

This is the kind of stuff which I think makes the internet great.  Something stupid and ludicrous, but done with intelligence, sincerity and enjoyable results.

I encourage you to watch all of these Epic Rap Battles of History, but this was the first one I saw and it makes me chuckle every time.  For the most part clean, but some of these can get pretty dirty, so buyer be warned.  The production quality is quite amazing, and some of the best up and coming talent  in comedy occasionally shows up.  Enjoy for a laugh on a Friday night.

A week of apologies!

I want to apologize for not getting more stuff up here this week.  I do have three posts I want to finish up but this week has been nuts.  My kids are all going back to school, so there were the open houses and school supply stuff, it is the last week of summer vacation so I have been trying to maximize the activities (MN Zoo, Pickle making, MN State Fair, Swimming at the beach and Fort Snelling today), and there are one or two other issues I've been dealing with.  I promise some updates this weekend and when the kids get back into school, more regular updates!  TAKE THAT AS A WARNING!

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Friday Link for 8/22/14

Tim Conway was, and is, a brilliant comedian.  He could take a very talented group, like the crew from the Carol Burnett Show, and leave them rolling.  In particular was his ability to absolutely ruin Harvey Korman in sketch after sketch.

Harvey Korman was an extremely funny man himself, as viewed in the riot Blazing Saddles, but there was something about Tim that would leave him doubled over.  Someone told me a good straight man in a comedy bit is supposed to be the relay for the audience, and Korman did that too well, bowling over with laughter at Tim's performance, just like everyone else.

Supposedly, Harvey Korman wet himself during The Dentist skit.  I believe it.  There is nowhere for him to go.  He is just the foil for Tim Conway and his brilliance.  Enjoy on a Friday night.

What was your question...?

MNDoT running the message on their LED traffic signs that "Distracted driving is a major cause of accidents in Minnesota" could be the most ironic message ever.

Goofus and Gallant go to Washington

Let me introduce you to the irregular reality.  Democrats, regardless of success of their initiatives, popularity of their platform, and increased quality of life for the vast majority of Americans when they are in charge, are constantly having to prove themselves, being painted successfully with gimmicky, untrue, bumper sticker slogans, and have zero threshold for error on any level.  Republicans are a cluster, incompetent with policy, horrific with budgetary issues, Machiavellian, self serving war hawks, with policies that hurt the vast majority of us while overwhelmingly favoring a small percentage of wealthy Americans, but for some reason continue to be placed in decision making positions they truly no longer should be trusted with.  Think I'm over reacting? Let's compare via the Goofus and Gallant method:

Gallant (D) comes into office with a horrific budget crisis created by Goofus (R), rolls up his sleeves and with little or no help for Goofus, pays off the debts incurred under Goofus' watch, gets spending under control, equalizes the tax system, even handing out tax cuts to many Americans, and makes the economy better for most.  Goofus screams empty threats which are designed to scare the public away from Gallants leadership and put Goofus back in power, just to screw things up again.

Gallant understands the importance of making sure Americans have a pathway to success, trying to help with base needs such as food, shelter, healthcare, education, business training, unemployment assistance and a pathway to citizenship, not as a lifestyle, but as temporary aid.  Goofus calls all people of a lower class moochers and lazy, insisting no help come from the government to make their lives better.  In cases where government assistance can't be stopped, Goofus creates hurdles such a drug tests and public shaming, forcing the needy to have to grovel for help.  Goofus then brags about it on social media, with a "it sucks to be them" quip he thinks is hilarious.

Gallant respects religion, and may or may not reference it in private decision making.  Gallant feels an individuals personal faith decisions are up to the individual, and private.  Goofus always trumpets his Christian faith as the one true religion and insists every decision they make is wrapped in scripture, even decisions which go completely against their own religious teachings. Goofus implies the founding fathers clear wishes to have separation of church and state actually means the founding fathers wanted a state ruled by about 5% of Christian doctrine, while ignoring the 95% of Christian doctrine that backs up Gallants political points.  Goofus then invokes false piety in an effort to turn Christians against Gallant.

Gallant not only wants a strong economy, but a strong environment, education system, transportation system, post office, and workers rights for all.  Goofus creates false bogey men to erode the public's faith in these institutions.  Goofus does this under the false flag of standing up for a strong economy, but Goofus' policies actually weaken the economy as a whole.

Gallant wants a fair tax system, making sure the wealthiest people pay somewhere close to the same tax rates as the middle class does for the same freedoms.  Gallant wants to make sure tax cheats are caught, that American companies are rewarded for keeping good paying jobs in America, and the American people see the benefit of their tax dollars at work.  Goofus screams about 'cutting the fat' and 'tax and spend liberals.'  Goofus screams class warfare at the mere suggestion the wealthiest tax rates are held to the same standard as the working classes and accuses anyone who criticizes American companies that ship jobs, their headquarters and profits overseas as Anti-American.  In truth, Goofus doesn't want taxes to go down at all.  He wants the tax rates to stay where they are at, finding a way to guide the money from the government's coffers into the accounts of the wealthiest Americans.

As you look at what the Republican Goofus' stand for, it shocks me anyone votes for them at all, but then you throw out Goofus' other problems (sex scandals, personal bankruptcy, grift, cronyism, extremist rhetoric, racism, homophobia, and other behaviors which contradict their own self promoted moral superiority with comic aplomb), them still being in a position of power boggles the mind.  Is it any surprise the GOP has to redraw districts, disguise their candidates as Democrats, discourage voting, especially in the minority areas, limit voting hours, and outspend their opponents 15-1 to stay in power?

Meanwhile, if a Democrat has a hair out of place, the right's propaganda machine will insist all Democrats are bad.  "This misplaced follicle signifies the complete and total failure of all democrat policies."

This country would be a lot better if Americans did what the GOP is terrified of them doing; stepping back and asking the question, who is actually helping me?  For the vast majority of US citizens, the answer is Gallant and the Democrats.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

ART - Vol. 1

I went out to Big Stone Mini Golf and Sculpture Garden in Minnetrista.  That was a blast.  It could be the best mini golf I've ever played.  Extremely cool holes, very creative, and a lot of great art.  FYI - 14 holes, and they take check or cash only, but a fantastic two hours with the kids.

Here is some of the art I really liked.  One or two really appealed to me.   ;-)   Enjoy and go see them yourself

Saturday, August 16, 2014

O Captain, My Captain

Since his tragic passing, most major television channels are breaking out the Robin Williams movie collection in force.  After returning from a workout at the Y, I found Dead Poets Society airing on Flix.  I was planning on watching a few minutes, just to get reminded of how great Williams was as Professor John Keating, and ended up catching it all the way to the end, with my kids eventually joining me.  It's a tour de force for Williams, but it's also an amazing movie, which inspires just as strong today as it did back in the late 80's.

After I first saw it back in 1989, I wanted to be expressive, a writer, a thinker.  I became more interested in the arts, not just poetry, but painting, acting, music, sculpture; things I still cherish today.  It helped me learn to try new things.  Doesn't mean I have to be good at them, but I usually don't shy away from a new challenge.  Want proof:  I really don't like heights but I volunteered to be an airborne traffic reporter, flying around the metro in a small Beechcraft Sport 2-seater.  I'm impressed I sounded human on most of my reports.  I only heaved once.  I also did television.  I only heaved once there too.

Watching the movie today, it makes me want to be a teacher.  The pure joy William's character gets by teaching people to think differently is captivating.  The scene where Ethan Hawke's character creates a terrific poem while under duress from Keating, and the look on William's face when it finally does happen, summarizes, I imagine, the joy a teacher gets from helping an individual muster the courage to take the next step on their individual path.

When this movie originally came out, one of the reasons it resonated was due to the prevalent 1980's 'Greed is Good' mindset in American life.  Money and power were important.  Your happiness is secondary to your standing.  Being a successful business person trumped everything.  Romanticism was dead and poetry, the arts and free thinking were the playthings of the lost and wasted mind.   The movie was based in 1959, another time where human priorities had been detoured.  Today...we definitely need Professor John Keating once again.

At the end of the movie, I lost it at the same exact place as I did back when I watched it in 1989.  When the student named Hopkins (!), the jock-like dim bulb who said, "The cat sat on the mat," stood up, I was bawling.  The heck with it, give me a desk to stand on...

O Captain, My Captain.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Friday Link for 8/15/14

I remember being a kid in Rhode Island and watching television with my parents.  What I remember most was the funny stuff, the stuff where my parents would both be laughing uncontrollably. Cheers was always a favorite, The Muppet Show too.  I remember watching The Blues Brothers when it was the Saturday Night Movie of the Week!  I can still she the tears of laughter on my moms face while my father chuckled loudly.  Then there was The Pink Panther.

Peter Sellers was an amazing talent.  His ability to stay in character, regardless of how ludicrous the situation, is unmatched.  Some of his comedy is dated, especially with certain ethnic references, but his Inspector Clouseau was a thing of beauty.

Here is the best of his matches against Cato.  I can still hear my parents laughing when I watched this many years ago.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How Can I NOT Question What is Going On?

1) Stewart Mills, a wealthy Vice President of Mills Fleet Farm, who seems to have been chosen, groomed and inserted into the MN-08 race as the Republican candidate to try to unseat Congressman Rick Nolan, has a speech recorded at the 2nd Amendment and Liberty Rally this summer, in which he pulls a Mitt Romney, insisting the 99%'ers should never have negative feelings about wealthy 1% "job creators" and adds how the ultra wealthy should be allowed to keep most of their money, at the expense of the non-ultra wealthy.

2) The video is edited down for time constraints and placed into a political ad, making sure the voters see Mr. Mills' feelings about wealth and entitlement.  Personally, I don't think the ad distorts Mr. Mills comments to the point where I feel it's misrepresentative.  As a matter of fact, I think the ad actually softens Mr. Mills' overall point.

3) The ad is being aired on many media outlets in the state, with the exception being Hubbard Broadcasting's KSTP and WDIO.  Both have refused to air the ads.

4)  The Hubbard family insists this decision was made by the media company's legal department without any input from the Hubbard family themselves.

5) It's publicly known the Hubbard family are big supporters of Republicans.  The Hubbard family wants Republicans to win elections.  This is common knowledge throughout the Twin Cities radio portion of Hubbard Broadcasting; I worked for them for three years.  I am guessing this is also known within the company's legal department.

6) Hubbard Broadcasting Legal Department political ad approval process is a mystery.  They have not really explained their justification for pulling the ads, beyond their agreeing with the Mills campaign's "it's edited," and "that's not fair!" arguments, and the legal department doesn't seem to have the same approval standard for ads against Democrats where some of the allegations against them are quite exaggerated, at best.  Once again, in my opinion, the Stewart Mills ads are not deceptive at all.  Read the linked article and watch the un-edited tape yourself.  As a matter of fact, forward the unedited video onto everyone you know, especially anyone who lives in the MN-08 district.  They should see it.

6) Stewart Mills has now used the Hubbard Broadcast Company's boycott of the ad as campaign fodder, talking about how the ads are untruthful because the ads were yanked in Minnesota.  To my knowledge, the only media outlets to pull the ad are the two Hubbard Broadcasting properties.

7) The Hubbard family is a sponsor of a fundraiser for the Stewart Mills campaign being held 8/14, featuring John Boehner.

At the very least there seems to be a lot of incidental back scratching going on.

There's no evidence Mr. Hubbard or any of the Hubbard family are lying.  He's a friend to certain members of my extended family, and for the record, I have some positive memories of my time at KSTP-AM.  The Hubbards, and all of Hubbard Broadcasting, were outstanding when they stood behind my former Program Director after he was seriously injured in a motorcycle crash.  The entire Hubbard family always treated me well and never told me directly what I should and should not talk about on air.  My boss did with some regularity, and it always lined up with their political point of view.

Is it so hard to believe the Hubbard Broadcasting Legal Department knew the Hubbard's personal political preferences, knew of their personal support for Stewart Mills and his campaign, and knew it's important to the family that MN-08 go back to the GOP, and in turn used Mills campaign's flimsy argument to justify pulling the ads?

We trust media to be honest in their presentation of the news, but this series of events shows how people get a perception of an agenda driven media, and media as corrupt and bias.  Where does the owners personal feelings end and where does the objectivity begin?  In this case, that is a blurred line at best.

It's not on me as a listener or viewer to prove a media outlet has got an agenda, it's up to the news outlet to prove they are not being driven by an ulterior motive.  Needless to say, I'll be watching what ads Hubbard Broadcasting does or does not approve this election cycle.  I'll be very interested in what the Hubbard Broadcasting Legal Department's justifications in both cases will be.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Robin Williams

I have 5000 things I want to write about, but the only thing I can think about is the loss of Robin Williams, one of the greatest funny men this world was ever blessed with.

I remember watching Happy Days in early 1978 and a new character stopping by for a one time visit, Mork from Ork.  It was so good, in the Fall of that year, Mork and Mindy became one of the most popular shows on television.  Overnight, everyone at Wickford Elementary in Wickford, Rhode Island was going "Nanu-nanu!"  I was 9 going on 10.

Let me point out two roles I really loved.  The World According to Garp was a heartbreaking film and William's first real serious dramatic role.  I remember his casting being met with a lot of criticism, but he was tremendous in that movie.  The other, Aladdin.  He made Genie an iconic character.

Here is a great way to spend 90 minutes.  I am sad.

Depression is a serious disease.  If you know someone who might be depressed, help them find the support they need.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Friday Link for 8/8/14...on 8/9/14

Police Squad!

Police Squad is known today as a series of movies with Leslie Nielsen, but it started off as a six episode television series in the early 80's.  It was one of the funniest things ever on TV, a show which took 2 or 3 viewings to catch all of the sight gags.  This show deconstructed the television police detective show so well, they had to completely rethink the genre afterwards.

John Ashton, mainly known for his role of Officer Taggart in Beverly Hills Cop, makes an appearance as a shakedown thug.  He says the the joke where the two thugs are questioned about the rock was his hardest scene ever to film, as they all were laughing so hard.  Watch this and be amazed at how good this show was.

Sorry it's a day late.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


First off, a bit of housekeeping.  Friday link will come on Saturday.  It is what it is.

Many people know I started in Minneapolis/St.Paul reporting traffic.  I moved back to Minneapolis in 2000 from Ames, Iowa and landed at Metro Traffic.  I started there as a part time employee and became the Assistant Director of Operations in 2003.  I stayed there until 2006, even flying around as an airborne reporter, and I did an extended fill in stint on the Fox 9 Morning News a few years back.

In my opinion, traffic is very necessary, but I also believe agricultural broadcasting is still important.  I only think around 10% of any given metro listens to traffic, and when they hear of a delay on their regular route, know the metro well enough to jump on a secondary road or back street to get around it.  Ten percent might not seem like a lot, but if that 10% did continue down their regular path during backups, traffic in the metro would be horrible, far worse than it is right now.  I also think radio traffic trumps any vehicles navigational device's traffic.  How safe is it in stop and go traffic to be looking at a screen?

Traffic reporting is very repetitive.  I was starting to lose my mind some mornings when it was all the same thing all the time.  There were a few reasons I left Metro; that was one of them.

Another reason was something I was reminded of today.  You become de-sensitized to death when you see it on camera with any regularity.  I remember my first death while reporting.  94 at Hemlock, motorcycle accident, and without getting into the details, it was clear the rider was dead.  The guys who operate the cameras will usually shut them off in cases like that, but they couldn't react fast enough before I, and anyone else watching, got a big eyeful.

This was a human being.  He was going someplace, doing something.  He had priorities for the day.  He had loved ones who were waiting to see him.  His favorite show was on the DVR waiting to be watched, there was the garden he was working on, there was the fishing trip with his father he had planned for the next month, there was the fantasy football league he couldn't wait to begin, there were children he and his wife were going to have.  Done, finished.  It was something I saw play out over and over and over again during my tenure.

Craig Stevens is a friend of mine from back at Metro (an excellent broadcaster himself).  He and I used to try to imagine the astronomical parameters it took for someone to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.   Just making the traffic light, or not.  Forgetting something in their house and going back for it.  Waking up on time or waking up late that day because the power was out.  The slightest variance of the gas pedal 20 miles earlier which allowed them to move ahead of one car, stay behind another, catch a stretch of open road and accelerate, or come across a disabled vehicle and have to wait an additional five minutes.  And then factor all of the same equations for all of the other people involved.  The cosmic alignment needed for an accident to happen is astounding and humbling.

In September 2005, I remember an accident with injuries and, mentally, not really acknowledging the seriousness of the accident.  Reporting it all the time had made me numb to the suffering.  I found out two day slater that same accident had claimed the life of a friend's sister.  I was jolted back into reality.  It was time for me to move on.

My kids and I had a wonderful time at the Minnesota History Museum today.  We saw the Toys exhibit (it's fantastic) and had lunch (my youngest had to wait an additional ten minutes for cheese pizza, which she then had to wait another ten minutes for it to cool down).  We left the museum, got onto 94, and started driving back to our house from St. Paul, giggling and laughing at the exhibits we'd seen and how old their dad was.

Right before the 280 exit, there was an accident.  It happened less than a minute before we had gotten there and less than 1/10th of a mile ahead of us.  It involved a motorcycle.  It was not good.  I was trying to see if I needed to get out.  I was trained as the emergency medic in the military (if the real medics were killed in the line of duty, I would take over) and it had helped me numerous times in civilian life.  I could tell it was a bad accident, and already ten or so cars had pulled over to try to help.  I called 911 and began to merge over to the far right lane to get by.  I told the now silent kids to look out the passenger side windows until we got past.  A semi and a few other good samaritans had stopped their vehicles to block the carnage from view, but you saw enough.  Broken glass, twited metal, shards of plastic...and red.  We drove past.  I told the kids they could look forward again and we quietly sped home.

I report the traffic in the morning.  It's important.  Driving is not just about your commute.

I'll never forget how fragile and important life is.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Friday Link for 8/1/14

I like Jim Gaffigan.  I think he's funny, and he's clean.  Don't get me wrong, I love raunchy, disgusting comedy not meant for human ears (Robert Baril), but with kids, it's nice to have someone you can watch and not have to have a discussion afterwards.

Plus BEARS!!!

Jim Gaffigan - Camping, waking up, and bacon


Boom Goes the Dino-Right

I had a friend ask me, knowing what I do, why is the right so angry now.  Simply, I think they realized how close they came to actually achieving what they really wanted.  They wanted to turn back the clock, get rid of the Civil Rights Act, get rid of the social safety net programs begun under FDR, get rid of the unions, get rid of any workers rights, and get rid of basic foundations of our society, such as hospitals, safe streets, fire departments and education for all.  Frankly, they wanted to take us back to the 1840's.

They lost their way and became conflicted.  As much as these people say they hate big government, the truth is they LOVE big government.  What they really mean is they love government when its for them or their families, just not for anyone else.  The want to be Galt, but in a display of brilliant irony, they've become too greedy.

The right got close. They really did.  They look back at the control they had, especially from 2002 to 2006, and they could actually taste it.  The mistake they made was thinking they could actually get away with it.  When they realized it wasn't going to happen, their attacks became bitter and angry, vilifying anything they disagreed with, in a sick attempt to try to make these unpopular political ideas popular.  It's kind of like the ex-boyfriend who becomes a stalker; if he can't find a way for her to like him when he's being nice, he'll take a darker path because he knows what's best for her!

Want proof?  Moochers, losers, takers, slackers, illegals, free-loaders.  These are the pleasant words they use to describe the users of health care, social security, welfare, people wanting minimum wage increases, and people upset about the government obscenely favoring the wealthy.  They use these words thinking it makes their political opinion more appealing.  The real story is the far right is furious their point of view isn't taken as unchecked truth anymore.

They save the real nasty words for the things they truly despise but know they have lost the fight on;  Obama, gay marriage, equality.

The right is having a temper tantrum.  The moderates left the dance floor years ago when they realized who their dance partner was becoming.  Now the extremists are beginning to realize they have lost the public trust.  They're quitting, storming off the ballroom floor unable to understand why no one wants to dance with them anymore.

Two final thoughts.  Galt was a myth, a fairy tale which could never exist, not in the capacity the neuvo-libertarians think it could.  You might as well base your economic and political ideologies on a Hobbit, Harry Potter or the Lorax.

Go ahead and quit.  No seriously go.  We won't be sorry you left, as you were part of the problem, not part of the solution.