Posts Tagged ‘Minnesota

28
Nov
14

With Thanksgiving safely behind us, I am still puzzled by #grapegate

About a week ago, the New York Times published a cute feature called “The United States of Thanksgiving,” which profiled a signature dish for the Thanksgiving table from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

And then Minnesota lost its damn mind. Continue reading ‘With Thanksgiving safely behind us, I am still puzzled by #grapegate’

21
Jan
09

Minneapolis to Host Bingham Cup 2010

Taken from the Bingham Cup 2010 Facebook group page:

Bingham Cup 2010The International Gay Rugby Association and Board (IGRAB) announced today that its 2010 world championship tournament, the Bingham Cup, will take place at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minnesota. The Minneapolis Mayhem RFC won the rights to host the tournament, currently scheduled for June 17-20, 2010, in a vote held among IGRAB member clubs.

30
Sep
08

Half-Pint Lives! Little House on the Prairie — The Musical!

Here’s something I wrote for someone else.

14
Nov
07

Better Living Through Phrenology

Don’t be so quick to ice that head wound. Build up enough subdermal scar tissue, and you might just change your personality!

    Phrenologist bust
What I couldn’t do with some clippers and a Sharpie.
[ferris.edu]

My friend James would be quick to point out that this is actually a pretty lame misunderstanding of the lost medical science of which he is a practitioner. James is a bona fide Phrenologist. That means he can measure the bumps and indentations in your skull and, based on the readings, make certain educated guesses about your personality.

The motto of Phrenologists: “Know Yourself.” A worthy pursuit, yes? Better be honest, though. The only way to cheat this test is to hit yourself in the head — and that’s no fun for anyone. (Unless you’re into that sort of thing.) I hesitate to think of the revelations that would result.

As one intrepid reporter from Twin Cities alternative weekly The Rake recently discovered, all the benefits of craniometric examination are yours to be had at the Science Museum of Minnesota in sleepy St. Paul.

You can see James giving this guy’s dome a good once-over.

(Those benefits, we learn, incidentally, do not directly include improved sexual prowess. But of course one must always ask, mustn’t one?)

The device James uses, a psychograph, is one of hundreds of items acquired by the formidable museum when it absorbed Minneapolis’ Museum of Questionable Medical Devices, where James gave demonstrations, in 2002. (Why should Minneapolis have all the fun, right?)

As one of the few experts in the discipline, James was rightfully retained by the science museum.

Some call it quackery, some call it a pseudoscience (James calls it a weekend pastime), but phrenology still has its proponents. If not phrenology, this site certainly believes very strongly in itself.

So, the next time someone tells you that you ought to get your head examined, rest assured you have nothing to fear. James is a very nice guy. (And kinda cute.) And he handles his instrument with a gentle and expert hand.

Put down that mallet. No cheating!

30
Sep
07

Orange Cones, Beware!

A friend of mine who writes a column and blog about transportation for the Minneapolis Star Tribune took a cameraman with him to the annual MetroTransit “Roadeo” to do a story. He ended up behind the wheel of one himself with hilarious results. This is what most of us would look like driving a bus.

Read more here.

02
Aug
07

Troubled Waters

Minneapolis
City of Lakes. I was treated to
this every day for six years.

[Greater Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Association]

Jeff woke me up this morning by telling me that there are still cars in the Mississippi River with bodies inside. It’s so, so sad, what happened yesterday.

The video I’ve seen on TV makes the whole scene look relatively small, I think. That bridge was just a freeway overpass across the river, but it was huge. A crack in the bridge would cause chaos, let alone the whole thing tumbling into the river.

It’s cliché, but I can’t help but think that I drove across that bridge almost daily for more than six years. It’s freaking I-35, after all.

What I remember most, and most endearingly, was the spectacular view of the Minneapolis skyline available crossing southbound on that bridge. In all the years that I saw it, speeding across the Mississippi, I never took it for granted. The sight of it at night, as the creamsicle sun was setting and the lights were beginning to show against the shadows of the city, made me proud to live in such a beautiful place. On winter mornings, with intensely clear skies and air cold enough to suck the breath out of your lungs, clouds of steam not normally visible rose from buildings downtown, and I was happy to belong to a city, my city, that had been radiating defiance against the cold for more than 150 years.

I still don’t know for sure that no one I know was hurt or killed yesterday. My fingers remain crossed. My heart and sympathies go out to the folks who will never see that skyline again — and to their families, for whom that view will surely be heavy with memories and meaning.

11
May
07

Happy Birthday, Minnesota!

    Map of Minnesota, c. 1910
I think I can see my house from here. (Map of Minnesota, c. 1910)
[U.S. Digital Map Library]

From today’s Writer’s Almanac:

On this day, in 1858 the state of Minnesota was admitted into the Union. It was from Minnesota that we got the stapler, water skis and roller blades, Scotch tape, Bisquick, Bob Dylan, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Spam.

Mmm… Spam. I do so like Spam.

Minnesota also gave us Garrison Keillor, the creator of The Writer’s Almanac and much more. Can’t forget Loni Anderson, also a Minnesotan. Or Jesse “The Mind” (née Jesse “The Body”) Ventura. Judy Garland. Winona Ryder. Prince.

Apart from Scotch tape, Scotchguard, Post-it Notes and various and sundry other 3M products are all from Minnesota. Kitty litter was invented in Minnesota in 1947 by a guy named Edward Lowe. And where else but in the Land of 10,000 Lakes could teenager Ralph Samuelson have invented water skiing in 1922.

20
Mar
07

Put ‘Em on Me

Hand    
Empty and untouched
[fantasy arts resource project]

When I had a chance to touch Cyndi Lauper recently, I turned it down.

When she walked out onto the peninsula of stage projecting out into the masses assembled on the floor of the club, she reached down to the frantic hands grasping at her knees. She briefly clasped fingers, slapped palm to palm, butted fist to fist.

My friend pulled me closer and shouted into my ear. “Do you want to go up there and touch her hand? I’ll go up there with you.”

I hemmed and hawed and eventually decided no. No, I won’t.

“OK,” she said, “but if you change your mind, let me know. I’ll go up there with you.”

I wanted to go up there. No I didn’t. Yes I did. I looked at the bouncing crowd at her feet. It was packed. I’d have to be pretty aggressive to get up there. Rude, even. But I might never be so close again. And why shouldn’t they share her with me? Oh, why didn’t I start out closer to the stage before the show started, when there was plenty of room to stake out a spot?

    Cyndi Lauper
I couldn’t get a good snapshot, but memories “R” Good Enough.
[dnamagazine.com.au]

Lauper retreated, and the hands came down. My moment, my chance, had passed. Much more importantly, I could stop fussing and wimbling and concentrate on the show.

I looked over at my friend. What have I done? (What have I not done?) She sort of shrugged, as if to say, Well, that’s that. I asked you.

Cyndi Lauper was performing with Soul Asylum, Lifehouse and Mint Condition in a benefit concert for Wain McFarlane, a friend of mine. He needs a new kidney, and with the inadequate health insurance of a man who makes a living as a musician, Wain can’t afford the procedure and, more importantly, the anti-rejection drugs he’ll have to take the rest of his life. Thankfully, his brother is donating the organ, and it’s a good match. Things could be worse. But he’s still got to pay for it.

All the performers have a professional and personal connection to Wain, and agreed early on to do the show. Jeff and I flew back to Minneapolis for the show to support our friend — and, I’m not ashamed to say, to see Cyndi Lauper.

Before long, she was back on the peninsula, and my friend was elbowing me in the ribs.

I was reminded of a guy I met online whose cowboy hat Madonna took off his head at a concert last year. She wore it through a song and threw it back out into the crowd. He was apoplectic with joy. (His friends strongarmed the poor person who caught the hat into returning it.) Oh, why can’t I be like that guy?

As it was, I was embarrassed even to be standing there with my cellphone pointed upward trying to snap a few photo. My real camera had been barred at the door, but it didn’t stop us from flipping open our phones, the constellation of those tiny video displays glowing blue and shifting shape for the hour-long set.

It felt so lame and ineffectual. Every time Lauper looked in my direction, possibly even making eye contact a couple of times (which was thrill enough for me), I could feel her disappointment. You’re missing the point, idiot. This is music. This is a party. You’re trying so hard to capture the moment that you’re missing it.

She had enough to contend with, including a band that seemed unable or unwilling to keep up with her and some sound techs who just couldn’t seem to get it right. The diva — cold, raised voice, and forceful gestures (Move. There. Now.) — came out a couple of times. She is the boss and in total control. But she is not without flaws herself. When she dusted off “When You Were Mine,” an apparent gesture to local-boy-made-good Prince, she had forgotten many of the lyrics and couldn’t seem to read them very well from the back of a flyer where they had been scribbled. Eventually, she dropped the paper and rocked the chorus out instead.

None of the images I took turned out, by the way.

I had a friend in college who was a Tori Amos groupie and had a picture of herself with Amos from every concert she had attended. The dedication of waiting at the stage doors after each show, the consistency and Amos’ eventual recognition of her, was impressive to me. I was jealous, but also alarmed. It seemed obsessive. Why the need to do it more than once?

A group of three women pushed past me toward the stage, annoying the enormous man standing next to me. The one in front would gently displace someone and then her friends would rush through. It was a nuisance. There was no room for them. I hated them. I wanted to be them. No, I didn’t.

I don’t think less of people for wanting to make that contact. They were fulfilling a “need” that Lauper was willing to accommodate. Unlike my friend with the Tori Amos fetish, I suppose I just didn’t feel that need strongly enough to act on it. Unlike these women, I didn’t want to interfere with other people’s experience for an ultimately empty gesture.

It struck me that this may not have been about me. By refusing to push forward, I was keeping my friend from getting closer, too. All the emotion around my devision was instantly transferred to guilt. I should do it for her, not me. Though I guess her boyfriend could have taken her up there if she really wanted to go.

It’s enough for me to consider that I am only a degree away from Cyndi Lauper. I felt like an insider just being there. I had the hubris to think that maybe Wain would introduce us after the show. It would be just weird to touch her hand like everyone else. She talked about her upcoming True Colors Tour (which won’t stop in Minneapolis), days before the official announcement. But even that is meaningless. I don’t know her. I have nothing to say except as a one of millions of distant fans.

Cyndi Lauper is a formidably talented musician, not a faith healer. I would love to meet her and tell her I admire her and thank her for helping me friend. But I don’t want to reduce her to a fetish. What would I get out of touching her hand? The transferance of greatness? A palm full of sweat? Maybe the human touch would be just enough to assure them that she is as real as they are. Or that they are as real as she is.

Dammit, I should have just gone up there and done it.

19
Mar
07

Not Above Average

Garrison Keillor has issued an apology for an ill-timed and poorly executed attempt at satire he wrote last week, which I was hoping for and expecting. I agree with towleroad.com: It comes off as a bit disingenuous, because I know he knows better; I don’t know how he could be surprised by the response. Keillor is no bigot. But even good Democrats can be a bit ham-handed. That column should not have happened, but I think the apology is sincere.

Not everyone gets Lake Wobegon. Not everyone thinks it’s funny. I think Dan Savage overreacted last week — and I know even some of his shrieking might be taken as self parody — but he has some thoughtful things to say today.

UPDATE:
This is satire.

(Special thanks to Good As You.)

15
Mar
07

Lake Wobegon Gays

A friend pointed me today to this Slog entry by Dan Savage about a March 14 commentary by Garrison Keillor on Salon.com about taking care of the kids, in which he extols the virtues of heterosexual marriage and simultaneously defames same-sex parenting. Here’s a sampling:

And now gay marriage will produce a whole new string of hyphenated relatives. In addition to the ex-stepson and ex-in-laws and your wife’s first husband’s second wife, there now will be Bruce and Kevin’s in-laws and Bruce’s ex, Mark, and Mark’s current partner, and I suppose we’ll get used to it.

The country has come to accept stereotypical gay men — sardonic fellows with fussy hair who live in over-decorated apartments with a striped sofa and a small weird dog and who worship campy performers and go in for flamboyance now and then themselves. If they want to be accepted as couples and daddies, however, the flamboyance may have to be brought under control. Parents are supposed to stand in back and not wear chartreuse pants and black polka-dot shirts. That’s for the kids. It’s their show.

Not sure what “stereotypical gay men,” or America’s supposed acceptance of them, have to do with any of the actually quite lovely things he says about kids and the way life can be. He’s so much smarter than this, little more than a catalog of thoughtless stereotypes. Surely his world travels — and his social circles — must have delivered him a broader, truer view of gay men than he lets on.

It’s a cheap shot. The whole two paragraphs are completely unnecessary. It’s an intellectual and moral disappointment.

And then he throws the gays a bone: “I suppose we’ll get used to it.”

Well, thank you very much for that concession. I hope we don’t inconvenience you too much in the meantime.

Keillor’s comments wouldn’t hurt so much if I didn’t respect him as much as I do. Savage, for one, is fighting mad. There’s not much I can add that he hasn’t already said.

In his misplaced, futile and delusional longing for the Goode Olde Days, I think maybe he’s confusing the whimsical, kitschy, also-stereotypical world of Lake Wobegon with the real world. Billy Joel said it pretty well, I think: “The good old days weren’t always good, and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems.”




the untallied hours