Thursday, July 31, 2008

Casualties of a Culture War?

As you are undoubtedly aware, a Tennessee gunman took the lives of two attendees of a Unitarian Universalist church last weekend. After a tragedy such as this, it is important in America to affix blame. Who is to blame for these dastadly acts? If you said "the gunman", congratulations. Count yourself among those who default to common sense and reason in the face of tragedy.

Know, however, that your prospects for blogging on behalf a left-wing religious group are diminished substantially by this answer. Didn't you know that conservative talk radio is to blame? That's okay. Craig Detweiler, who teaches film (snicker) at Fuller Theological Seminary will fill in the blanks for you. Selected excerpts, with not-nice commentary, below:

Tragically, the culture war crossed over fighting words to shooting bullets.


Wow, this opening sentence is a mess. No wonder this guy teaches film for a living. Moving on.

While 25 children sang songs from "Annie," a gunman fired three shotgun blasts inside the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.


Well, the killer certainly had a sense of irony. Perhaps we should blame Paul Thomas Anderson for this one. Whaddayathink, Mr. Film Buff?

(And as a nation we continue to support the right to shoot others over sane gun control policies--but that deserves its own separate conversation).


It deserves a separate conversation, and so naturally Mr. Detweiler contends with it by way of a false dichotomy couched in a paranthetical. Welcome to the world of arguing disingenuously.

While many evangelicals celebrated Cassie Bernall and Rachel Scott as martyrs who died for their Christian convictions at Columbine High School, I wonder if we will extend the same heroism to the victims in Tennessee?


Ah, the "I wonder" dodge. What the author is really saying is that he doesn't believe that Christians will assign martyrdom to those who were murdered in this instance, probably because Christians don't care about liberals as much as conservatives. He is half right. They weren't martyrs in the traditional sense. Worthy of praise, yes, but Unitarians aren't Christians, and don't claim to be.

Of course, question begs a corollary. Were Mr. Detweiler et al... worked into a fit of finger-pointing by the killings at New Life church? I wonder...

When the system failed to work (evidently, his food stamps had just run out), Adkisson took up arms, aiming at those who he had been trained to hate--gays and liberals.


See, if only he had never gotten foodstamps, this never would have happened. What? That's not a logical analysis? Hmmm...

Why did he single out Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalists?


Well... If you're looking for gays and liberals (and show tunes), the Unitarian church is about as logical a destination as any.

While ultimate responsibility resides with the shooters, we can also connect these deaths to too much toxic talk radio.


And we can "connect" the shootings at New Life on the left-wing blogosphere. I'm sure Mr. Detweiler devotes a paragraph or two to that.

This is the kind of tragedy that occurs when we adopt war rhetoric, turning our fellow Americans into enemies.


The term "culture war" was coined by academics and assimilated by mainstream journalists. How does their use of rhetoric factor into the killer's decision here?

Both sides have effectively demonized the opposition, laying blame for our problems at others' feet. Would it "kill" talk radio announcers to tone down their tenor for the sake of the common good?


So, in one sentence, Mr. Detweiler denounces demonization of the opposition, and in the next sentence demonizes the opposition...

Can we discipline ourselves to change the channel when the scapegoating begins?


...And then proceeds to make a scapegoat of scapegoaters.

I write this with a fair amount of trepidation. To promote peace to a war mongering people can get you in trouble. I don't want to be placed on anybody's hit list. I do not want to put my children in the line of fine (sic) because I extend an olive branch towards atheists, homosexuals, or anyone else deemed 'other' by the conservative Christian community.


If anything, he should be worried about assault by some masked grammar gendarme. The real purpose of this self-imposed martyrdom is to veil the contention that conservative Christians would sooner kill than extend an olive branch to atheists and homosexuals. How, um, purple of him.

That said, Detweiler's thesis here engenders a far more dangerous idea. By neblously "connecting" these slayings to the day-to-day rantings of overheated partisans, he is laying the groundwork of association.

One could dismiss Detweiler's buffonery were not posted on a forum designed to advance the partisan interests of those with a vested interest in limiting free speech. Democrats have proposed bills to curtail by force the influence of talk radio, to enforce speech codes on college campuses, and to ban "hate" speech.

That would be a casualty indeed.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

An Interview with Mark Trail

From time to time, my blog affords me the opportunity to interview various newsmakers and important personalities. For 62 years, Mark Trail has adorned the comic pages, telling the fascinating tale of a rugged conservationist as literally hundreds of millions of readers have watch, rapt by the comic's no-nonsense attitude and constant action.




Without any further adieu, I'd like to welcome Mark Trail to the TPWK.


Mark Trail: He wondered aloud whether they were birds after all...

TPWK: Right. Now, as one of the most established serio-comics, you've touched on a variety of important themese, including environmentalism and the importance of the family.

Mark Trail: There was no turning back now...

TPWK: You are now evoking the famous stylistic nuance of encouraging your readers, by way of ellipses, to catch tomorrow's exciting comic.

Mark Trail: This coffee doesn't smell quite right. Ol' Rusty can't be trusted with the coffee. But on to more important issues...

TPWK: More recently, Mark Trail has taken on modern day issues, such as physical abuse. What made...

Mark Trail: And he couldn't shake the feeling...

TPWK: What made you decide to move away from...

Mark Trail: He adjusted his glasses and took in the sight. Bear cubs!

TPWK: Yes, bear cubs. Now, of course, some fans of the comic strip have been prone to, how should I put it, over-analysis. Finding meta-narratives and commentaries in otherwise trivial...

Mark Trail: You mind your manners, Rusty.

TPWK: I sense that this interview is unfruitful, to some degree.

Mark Trail: With this wind? How could it be?

TPWK: Ummm, that's all the time we have here on TPWK. I'd like to thank Mark Trail for stopping by.

Mark Trail: That was it! He split the lumber and called it a day.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Monday Musings

I'm on a diet. Diets make me grumpy. Me grumpy equals more musings, so let's roll.


Hot on the tail of the KARE 11 segment, the Star Tribune did a feature on my brother's church, The Urban Refuge.

He did an interview on KSTP as well, but I can't find the link.

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In related news, a gunman in Tennessee opened fire on a Unitarian church, killing two. It's nice to see Christians finally getting involved.

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As many of you know, Obama went abroad to the Middle East and Europe last week. So now he has foreign policy experience, in case you were worried about that. His handlers did a particularly good job with the German media. Here is my favorite quote:

"(Obama) wants to convince (voters) that the world will also listen to a black president... And there's one other thing one shouldn't forget when talking about Obama: He easily reworks even positions that have been written in stone and adjusts to new requirements."

Italics mine. That's intended as a compliment. From the folks who brought you Hitler, ladies and gentlemen.

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Charges were dropped against Minneapolis gang member Tywin Bender, who (allegedly, of course) paralyzed a 14 year old girl who was caught in the crossfire of a gangfight. Apparently, some key witnesses changed their minds. I wonder how that happened.

Here is a picture of Tywin. I was criticized before for hair-related commentary, so I'll let this "do" speak for itself.



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The girl's father, Steve Hall, expressed disappointment that this butcher is being set free, saying "Whoever did this, they will be dealt with. God is not going to let them get away with it."

For the record, if Steve Hall wanted to "deal with" whoever did this in the backyard of a certain nearby blogger, I'm sure said blogger could dig out his "Don't Snitch" t-shirt and crank some David Bowie in the basement for an hour or two. Just be sure not to get any excess Tywin on the geraniums, or my wife will bust a cap in MY ass.

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Speaking of which, what is the origin of the name Tywin? Was he named after a generic brand of electronics? Is the name a sly reference to Thai Nguyen, the mountainous provence in central Vietnam? Is it just Tryone, but written illegibly?

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As I mentioned, I am on a diet. I also like beer. Attempts to reconcile my conundrum were met with swift rebuke at the hands of 64 calorie Miller Genuine Draft Light, which tastes like Schlitz malt liquor combined with eight tablespoons of someone else's saliva. Regardless of the temperature at which it is served, MGD Light tastes warm and moist. Avoid it.

On a lighter note (no pun intended), the beer is 2.9%, meaning it can be sold in grocery stores. See? Laws make sense.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Top Ten Fridays - Sequels

IN advance of the sequel everyone has been waiting for, The Sisterhood of The Travelling Pants 2, I thought I'd make a list of sequels that everybody loved and appreciated.

10. "Remains of the Day 2: Consternation"

9. "Two if By Sea Two: Two's a crowd"

8. "National Lampoon's - Dropped Out 2: Back To School"

7. "Ghostbusters 3: Cause Lord Knows Bill Murray Wasn't Integral to the Success of the Other Ones"

6. "My Surfeit of Dads" (movie sequel to the sitcom)

5. "Schindler's List 2: The Paris Years"

4. "What Janeane Garofalo Has Stooped To"

3. 1985

2. "Lord of the Rings 4: Yay, Tolkien Wrote More Books!"

1. "Highest Grossing Film of 2006 Part 2"

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Worst blog post ever

Ah, crap. I've got something stuck in my teeth. I'm trying to get it out...

You know how you get something stuck, and you can't always tell which tooth it's in? Yeah, it's like that...

Ahhhhh....

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

An Interview With Brett Favre

Every now and then, my blog affords me the opportunity to talk with various newsmakers. As you are already aware, Brett Favre has set the sportsworld ablaze with his announcement that he wants to return to football. However, his former team, the Green Bay Packers, has insisted that he will not start for them this year. As the controversy unfolds, I'd like to welcome Brett Favre to TPWK.

Brett Favre: Thank you for having me.

TPWK: Thank you for taking the time.

Brett Favre: I just want everyone to know that I am innocent.

TPWK: You are speaking now of the charges that you reached out to the Minnesota Vikings, which some have suggested...

Brett Favre: No, I totally called them. I'm here today to tell you that I did not kill my wife.

TPWK: Your wife? Um, I was unaware...

Brett Favre: I don't know where these allegations are coming from.

TPWK: To the best of my knowledge, she is still alive. I spoke with her for a few minutes before you got here.

Brett Favre: That's what I've been trying to tell you.

TPWK: She said she had to go get some wine for a fundraiser. But she'll be back.

Brett Favre: Yes, she'll be back. I keep telling myself that. (sobs)

TPWK: In fact, I would think that to be the likely outcome. The store is three blocks away. She didn't even have to...

Brett Favre: Why won't anyone believe me????

TPWK: Um, I believe you.

Brett Favre: Good, we'll take your car.

TPWK: Take my car where?

Brett Favre: I need to get away. Lay low for a while.

TPWK: And I need to come as well.

Brett Favre: Your my only friend in this world.

TPWK: That seems very unlikely.

Brett Favre: If we leave now, we'll arrive at the border by 8 p.m.

TPWK: You want me to drive you to Canada?

Brett Favre: Winnipeg. Nobody knows me up there.

TPWK: I'm fairly certain they do.

Brett Favre: I've got a cabin, but it isn't under my name. I can come up with a plan.

TPWK: Part of me doubts this plan will be reasonable.

Brett Favre: After a couple of months, I'll come back, but in disguise.

TPWK: That is certainly unreasonable.

Brett Favre: Do you have a gun?

TPWK: I am not giving you a gun.

Brett Favre: Right. They'll check for prints.

TPWK: Your wife is back. Should I let her in, or???

Brett Favre: Yes, great idea. She'll explaing everything.

Mrs. Favre: Um, Brett, I got 10 bottles of Yellow Tail Chardonnay, and 10 of the Cab. is that what you...

Brett Favre: No time!!!

Mrs. Favre: What, I...

Brett Favre: (running out the door) I am alooooooooone!

TPWK: What was that about?

Mrs. Favre: I dunno. He always does this.

TPWK: Fascinating.

Mrs. Favre: Yeah... You know what his charity tonight is for? Deer habitat restoration.

TPWK: I see...

Mrs. Favre: I mean, who gives a #$%!?

TPWK: ....

Mrs. Favre: You know what? Screw it. Charity time starts early (opens a bottle of wine and begins drinking from it).

TPWK: Well, that's all the time we have for today. I'd like to thank the Favre's for stopping by...

Mrs. Favre: You know, sometimes I wish he would just kill me. Get it over with... You know?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday Musings: Evening Edition

Busy day today... Let's muse...


My brother's church, "The Urban Refuge", has been featured on KARE 11 news, which did a feature this afternoon on their annual "Mission to the City" project. They usually do cooler stuff than pulling weeds, but the story is pretty positive.


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When I said that R.T. Rybak has made it his personal mission to get Minnesotans to stop drinking bottled water, I wasn't kidding. Rybak has secured $500,000 to build fountains across the city for the purpose of advertising to us how awesome our water is.


Now, this is a transparently stupid idea under any normal circumstance. Confounding the absurdity is the fact (noted by a Star Tribune editorial) that water in the city smells like eggs thanks to an overpopulation of algae. Oh, and the murders and rapes and stuff...


Of course, R.T. Rybak is spending and additional $250,000 to market the new fountains, so that I can peruse the new designs whilst waiting for the city to turn my water back on, as the city is engaged in an unending project to repair aging pipelines on the north side. What is this, Beijing? If I receive a chocolate ration in the mail, I'm moving to Eagan.


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In defense of the project, Rybak notes that it is a small gift to the arts community that has invested billions of dollars in our city. I thought this was what that horrible chunk of aluminum foil masquerading as an art museum was supposed to accomplish.


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Of course, the above comment prompts the question, "which one?"


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Some of you may have heard the story of a father and daughter who were accosted by thugs at Valleyfair, the local roller coaster emporium. The men began to sexually molest the daughter, and beat the man nearly to death when he decided to intercede.


Of course, one could have predicted this. Two of the men, Darris and Derry Evans, had been found guilty of possessing illegal firearms, and running a prostitution ring. In other states, they would not have been free to commit this atrocity, but this is Minneapolis, and crime is legal here. And of course, they thugs are out on bail. Meaning that somebody came out of nowhere to over several hundred thousand dollars for their release. I'll simply assume this money was attained legitimately In other words, a judge looked at this guy:




Who has a career of assaulting women and has probably killed three or four, should be back on the street. What's the over/under on his prison sentence? 8 months?

A walking argument for conceal to carry. Nice cornrows, jackass.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Clarification

As many of you well know, Peter has made a decision to retire from blogging.

While I respect his decision, Peter made some references in his most recent post that might call my integrity into question. Specifically:

"As a matter of fact, I’ve been having a few behind-the-scenes conversations with Kevin’s blog, and they seem very interested in bringing me on board."

I want to make it clear that I made no promises with respect to bringing Peter on as a fulltime blogger. Clearly, Peter is a very talented blogger, and any blog would be delighted to have him on their blogging roster. That said, it would be disrespectful of the JLP, and a flagrant violation of FCC regulations, were I to make an overture to Peter in this manner.

Obviously, Peter has been under a considerable amount of stress. As any friend would do, I met him at a reputable chain restaurant over a plate of zesty nachos. We each ordered a cold-filtered Coors Light, and discussed a variety of topics, from weather to the price of cable TV. At no time did we discuss his participation in my blog.

At the conclusion of our meeting, he asked for the check, while I ordered another Coors Light. I told him it was okay for him to go, and he gave me that condescending "are you sure you're not going to sit here and drink all afternoon?" look. Then I got pissed off and told him to say what was really on his mind.

Then he said "I think you have a problem. Every time we get together you order at least two beers." And I said "it's normal to order two drinks at a meal. This is what normal people do, you uptight skinflint."

To which he responded, "I'm sorry if I think it is more important to use spend my money on my family's future, rather than blowing it on booze at Applebees." And then I was like "whatever, at least I don't leave my damn car in my garage the day after some hoodlums stole the keys to it. Talk about sober judgment."

Then Peter said "you know, this is just like you. You're lucky to have any friends at all," and stormed away.

He was totally right, too. I sucked down seven more Coors Lights while I watched the international cricket championships. Then the waitress told me it was time to go home.

But not once did we ever discuss the matter of Peter joining my blog. That sort of stuff is beneath me.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Response to Peter

My heart, torn asunder by your departure, was sutured whole by the whispers of your ink-pen. Alas, the world has grown too cold by far for such kindred souls as ours. I'll warm thee with a most generous response.

I have taken residence at the inn of Shivellgrass manor, just 40 miles south of Macon. Mrs. Shivellgrass has taken the demeanor of a widow, I'm afraid, mucking about the panises and daisies with the shuffle of one suffering from consumption.

Of course, one wonders well whether Mr. Shivellgrass will return. The armies are nigh defeated, and his latest post is long overdue. As for me, I am in recovery, not only for the pox, but from a most fierce dysentery. I tell thee true, it was as though Robert E. Lee himself rallied the calvary within my inner morsels. To date, though I fancy myself recovered, my bowels run faster and warmer than most, moistening the bowl like a spring storm.

Oh, how I miss the days before this damned war, before the petty grievances of man did carve in twain the deeper joys of our pairing. Those days in the field, the moonlight, opiating our senses as you ravishes your charms into my supple flesh under the watchful eye of silent stars.

Oh that I could ask those stars to reveal their secrets, to remind me that I am human beneath the foggy hiss of war and illness. Alas, I swear I will return to you, if only to nuzzle my visage into the intracacies of your gaping maw.

You asked of Carl. At the age of 11, Carl was placed under Joseph Hooker's command, where he died immediately at the Battle of Lookout Mountain. I fear he was too young for a man's war. I regret ever forging his documentation. I have enclosed a lock of his hair and his left thumb, so that you will always remember your son.

But I must make haste. The clock strikes two and twenty, and Ms. Shivelgrass shall be at her rifles again if I am seen in her parlor. Hello, then, is goodbye, in this bitter sliver of time. If only I could force my quill to refrain from such profligate descriptors, I could find time to dispense much relevant information.

Yours, now and always,

Richard T. Rybak

P.S. Send smokes.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Monday Musings

It's gonna be a hot one today folks. As in, my musings are going to be scorching hot! Rev it up! I am a local radio personalityyyyyyy!!!!


Thanks to the influence of social media, every item of interest on the web must now be accompanied by a comments section. As such, a curious dividing line has emerged, a new delineation (if you will) between the haves and have-nots. There are those who write (or otherwise produce), having earned the respect of a certain readership (viewership, listenership et al...) and even a steady paycheck for their efforts.

Then, there are the commenters, those whose zeal greatly exceeds their grammatical sensibilities, or any sensibilites at all, really. Comment after comment, cloaked in the anonymity of a username, they unfurl their essence upon the Internet, choking our search engines and communications forums with their dreck.

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Case in point: Geddylee88, who comments regarding Rolling Stones narrow-minded inclusion of Beatles tracks among their top 500 rock songs of all time:

"The editors of this magazine are always so bias towards 60's stuff like Jimi and Chuck Berry, but especially The Beatles. The only reason the Beatles are so famous is because of the ridiculous amount of successful songs they've put out; I don't see how any one of them can be coined as so musically brilliant.

Rush, anyone?"

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None of the above unpleasantness applies to the regular commenters here of course.

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I harp on the emergent church here a lot, I know. But I like doing it, and so I will do it some more.

Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt and some guy I haven't heard of are promoting their new books (when are emergent leaders ever NOT promoting books?) via a whistlestop tour, of sorts. To accompany their tour, they have produced a 90 minute play, set in 1908, wherein they play their fictional revivalist great-grandfathers. That's not indulgent at all.

Of the experience, Tony Jones gushes:

"Things have changed in America in the last century, to be sure, but I keep thinking about a summer 100 years ago when our nation was... preparing for a presidential election between a Republican insider (Secretary of War William Howard Taft) and a midwestern Democrat known for his scintillating oratory (William Jennings Bryan)."

Comparing Barack Obama to William Jennings Bryan is like comparing a yellow crayon to the sun... Or comparing the emergent church to Christianity, for that matter.

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Would it be unfair to note that Bryan's reputation was sullied, in part, by the very "revivalists" Jones et al. endeavor to emulate?

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Would it be additionally unfair to note that Bryan stood athwart the militaristic ambitions of pre-Nazi Germany, earning the scorn of anti-semitic intellectuals, while Obama has more anti-semites in his rolodex than a Halal market?

I suppose so.

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Harvesting the last of the peas for the season. Made a fancy pea salad last night. Can't complain... Can't complain...

Friday, July 11, 2008

Top Ten Fridays - Minneapolis

The ten worst things about Minneapolis in no particular order.

1. Parking

A little city has no business having big city parking issues. Between an obsession with charging for street parking (meters in Phillips? Really?) a poorly constructed roadway system around the city’s most popular park (Minnehaha) and the city’s ownership of several municipal lots, Minneapolis has become a nightmare for commuters.

Case in point: Trader Joe’s wanted to add a location in the flagging warehouse district, but their request to build an 80-space parking lot was refused. Such a lot would compete with the city-owned lots. So, Trader Joes moved to the suburbs. Dammit.

2. Parochial affinities.

Lost in all the foreclosure hysteria is the fact that North Minneapolis is actually home to a number of young families. Alas, said families have nowhere to shop. Council-member (and soon to be mayor, if Obama is elected president, and mercifully takes RT Rybak off our hands) Barb Johnson worked a sweetheart deal with Kowalski’s. The upscale Lund’s knockoff negotiated a deal forbidding the construction of a competing grocer in the vicinity the store.

Of course, Kowalski’s shuttered minutes after opening, but the contract remains in effect until someone can meet its asking price. Screw you, Kowalski’s. If I want to pay $11 for a watermelon, I’ll move to Tokyo.

3. Side-street construction

Here’s an idea for MnDot. How about staggering highway construction with the reconstruction of major thoroughfares? This isn’t chess.

4. The Star Tribune

It is no secret that our major daily is mountains of awful. In addition to being a left-wing rag (which is not altogether damning), it is poorly written, and has a website that is (easily) outclassed by that of the Bismarck Tribune. Does anyone care anymore?

My vote is to make the Pioneer Press the Twin Cities paper of record. Then we can phase out the Strib, and turn it into a community newsletter.

5. Restaurant service

Recently, I paid a visit to the Adams-Morgan neighborhood of DC. Just bopping around. No big whoop. I stopped at an Indian Restaurant for lunch, and decided to sit outside. Bad decision. The temperature had escalated to a sort of furious hot, and I was about to down some sort of spicy-creamy ensemble. In spite of my error, the waiter whisked cold water to my table at every opportunity. The dude was a machine in this regard, which was fortunate as the food was served fresh and piping.

Point being, I observed two phenomena that are utterly impossible to find in our city. Hot food and enthusiastic service. This is the norm in other cities. It is a luxury here.

6. Sports fans.

Maybe the vibrant art scene has feminized the men, but I defy you to have a compelling discussion about basketball or football in this town. I do not trust men who are not interested in sports.

7. The mayor.

Even my most liberal readers have yet to proffer a reasonable defense for RT Rybak.

8. Liquor laws.

There is literally no compelling reason why I cannot by beer on a Sunday. Yet I cannot. Why? Because bars would rather you buy alcohol at bars. And so we have a law. Great.

9. St. Anthony Main

The spectacular failure of this particular neck of our particular woods is mind blowing. Here, you have a cobblestone street lining one of the more scenic byways in the Midwest. Through a confluence of factors (reason #10 being one) the scene there is dead, save for the Aquatennial fireworks display. What a waste.

10. Neighborhood power.

As a general rule, I favor localized power and decision making. That said, the neighborhood groups wield tremendous power in our city, and use it to advance profoundly myopic interests.

The (seven or so) residents of Nicollet Island opposed a promised playing field to De La Salle High School. Neighborhood groups stand athwart the distribution of liquor licenses as though they were level III sex offenders (while doing almost nothing to curtail presence of the latter). No wonder our city voted to remove funding from neighborhood organizations.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Respect the Doctors

We are doctors. Believe it.



After years of medical school, we are licensed by local governing authorities. Take us seriously. You have lupus. It's terrible. Respect us, dammit. Fine. You want a second opinion? Go to this guy.



Look, he's holding a bone. That's credible.



You see how it is. We are serious!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Monday Musings: Taste of Minnesota Edition

Husband Lesson #1: Don't lose an argument with your with your wife before a holiday weekend. Last week, my wife asked if I wanted to go to the Taste of Minnesota. She may as well have asked if I wanted an enema of meth addled porcupines. But, instead of saying "good idea honey, but remember how much the whole event smells like pee? Let's go to the neighbors' party instead," I simply acquiesce. Let's muse.

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Several years ago, the Taste of Minnesota moved to Harriet Island. Nobody was asking for this, and nobody appreciated the move, not least of which because Harriet Island is almost inaccessible. As a result, we literally have to park 12 blocks away. Combine this with the usual post-fireworks log jam, and you are talking about the equivalent of a one hour and fifteen minute commute to Minneapolis.

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If there is one thing for which the Taste of Minnesota is famous, it is egregious prices. Now, there are those who lament the cost of everything, and I am not one of those people, but here is a sampling of what I was contending with here.

Cheese Curds - $5.63**
Small Taco - $5.00
Lemonade - $7.50
Box of noodles - $8.75
11 oz. pale ale - $9.25*
Potato Spirals - $7.50
Corn - $4.38(!)
French Fries - $5
Shrimp (2) - $5

* - Price reflects the cost of the beer ($6.25) as well as the cost of an (Over 21) bracelet, which is $3. Yep, they charge you $3 to check your ID. That is in no way unreasonable.

** - It is worth noting that the portion is about half the size of the State Fair version.

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To add some perspective, one can go to Heidi's and enjoy a crepe with foie gras, curried beluga black lentils, topped with a hibiscus syrup, accompanied by a highly drinkable Malbec for the same price as a cob of corn and a lemonade.

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Put another way, the vomit stains on the sidewalk along the river must have cost upward of $50 to produce.

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But there's more to the Taste of Minnesota than the food. On the main stage, I am distracted by a fellow who is rapping (to the tune of Eminem's "Slim Shady") about how he is the real Greg Brady, and not the Brady Bunch character of the same name. I thought to myself "why the hell is some old guy pretending to be Greg Brady?"

It was not until the next day that I realized that he was, in fact, Barry Williams, aka TVs Greg Brady. I am beyond words.

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One of the talking points defenders of the Taste utilize is that admission is free. This is true, albeit more in the sense that admission to Le Belle Vie is free. Of course, all this means is that we get to spend our evening cavorting amongst thugs (is it a bad thing when the first sign that greets you warns against wearing gang colors?) and people straight out of the casting call for The Hills Have Eyes.

I'd spend $7 not to have to smell these people.

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There is a mini-stage for kids, entitled "kiddance", featuring a DJ and some half hearted dancers encouraging a dozen or so youths to dance along with crappy wedding music. The highlight was a rendition of the Superman song (Soulja Boy version, not Five for Fighting), complete with requisite dance moves for the "supersoak 'dat ho'" portion. How apropos. Reason #52 why I will never take my kids to this wretched event.

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My wife is complaining too, if you were wondering. I should be able to leverage this to pick our dates through the rest of the summer? "Gee honey, I'd love to do that... I'm just worried it will turn into another Taste of Minnesota".

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Above all else, the Taste of Minnesota is extremely boring. It is, essentially, a glorified midway carnival. Almost no local restaurant's take part in the event (though Bennett's can lay claim to the egregious two shrimp for five bucks deal... Suffice to say it won't be receiving repeat business from these quarters). Mostly, it's just caterers making hot dogs.

There are about a dozen or so exhibitors and craftmakers, peddling the usual turqoise jewelry and those ubiquitous hanging chairs. And that's it. Otherwise, it's just sit on your butt and watch Barry Williams rap. $45 well spent, I say.

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Apparently, the Taste of Minnesota will be under new ownership next year. It would be hard for them to do any worse. Have fun with it fellas. I'm not going back.

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Friday, July 04, 2008

It's the 4th of July

Hey everybody! It's the 4th of July! It's time to celebrate everything that makes this country wonderful.

Sparklers!



Senators!



The unlikely success of John C. Reilly!



Detroit!



Thank you for this America, you beautiful bastard.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Joe Horn Republicans

In the wake of the grand jury's decision to exonerate Joe Horn for the "crime" of shooting two drug-dealing robbers on his property, some citizens are expressing their outrage. Quanell X, decribed as a community activist, is organizing protests against the Harris County DAs office, and the recently bereaved Stephanie Story is threatening a lawsuit (natch).


Quanell X sounds either like the name of a prescription drug that cures restless leg syndrome or one of those Farrakhan worshipping black panther types Barack Obama is always disowning. Apparently, it's the latter. Here's a picture:



He's the one in the center. I think there is an unspoken requirement that when you change your name to 'X', you have to wear beige suits and surround yourself with Idi Amin look alikes in berets. At a recent press conference, Quannel offered this stern warning to the people of Harris County, Texas:

“In less than 10 years, blacks, Hispanics and minorities will be the largest number in Harris County... So those in power, remember you got children and grandchildren too. You reap what you have sowed.”

Nothing a veiled threat of race riots to win over the people of Texas, eh? Of course, Mr. X is no stranger to incendiary rhetoric. Here is Quannel addressing the Jewish population:

"Black youth do not want a relationship with the Jewish community or the mainstream white community or the foot shuffling, head-bowing, knee bobbing black community. … All you Jews can go straight to hell."

That's a nice sentiment. Also, we have this:

"if you feel that you just got to mug somebody because of your hurt and your pain, go to River Oaks and mug you some good white folks."

So, this is what the Houston press dubs a community activist, huh? Not "degenerate nutcase" or "violent thug"? Why does someone who cannot practice even elementary principles of self control have the right to leverage to press to drag Joe Horn through the mud? Just because somebody says it, doesn't make it news.

Of course, Ms. Storey's lawsuit will almost certainly fail. Joe Horn was within his rights to kill those two men, and it will be impossible to convince a jury otherwise (especially if your legal counsel is provided by a black panther). The average person on the street is actually quite pleased that these two men, who belonged to a gang devoted to burglary, drugs and identity forgery, are no more. If they lived in Minneapolis, I know I'd be glad to be rid of them.

There is a broader issue at play here. Texas recently enacted one of the strongest self-defense statutes in the nation. As this story gathers steam, dailies in other states are going to note that Joe Horn would likely be facing prison time.

If the Republicans are smart, there will be "Castle" provisions on every statewide ballot come November. It will drive lethargic concervatives and Ron Paul types to the polls in droves. The Reagan Democrats will become Horn Republicans. Code Pink, Mothers Against Everything, and dudes named "X" will come out of the woodwork in an effort to stop the next peacemaker. Let them. Red berets make red states

And Joe Horn deserves our support.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Joe Horn: Hero

As anyone who lives on the north side of Minneapolis knows, crime is basically legal here. Mayor RT Rybak is more interested in encouraging citizens not to drink bottled water and sucking up to Barack Obama than he is in fighting crime. The wait for a police officer in emergency situations can extend beyond 20 minutes. The solution? Neighbors like Joe Horn.

Long story short, two drug dealing illegal immigrants broke into Horn's neighbors home in Texas. On their way out, they met Horn, vis a vis Horn's shotgun, which dispensed a Texas salute upon their persons. Now, they are no more. Good for Joe Horn, right? Not according to CNN's lefty spiritual columnist (and uninteresting dolt generally) Roland Martin.

According to Martin, Horn "chose to be judge, jury and executioner of the two."

Of course, no judge, jury or executioner is under immediate threat of having their houses ransacked by drug-addled degenerates. This fact changes the paradigm somewhat, no?

Apparently not. Martin elaborates. "...I just don't see exactly what there is to celebrate. Two men -- both illegal immigrants and one of them with a conviction for selling drugs -- are dead for stealing some personal effects, and we are supposed to welcome this vigilante justice? "

Do you consider this a rhetorical question, Roland? Of course, we would have greater cause to celebrate had these men never chosen to break into our country, peddle drugs, and break into law-abiding citizens' homes in the first place. If wishes were horses...

By the way, Martin's charge of that Joe Horn is a vigilante charge is libelous. A vigilante is one who has acted outside of due process of the law. Joe Horn had any charges against him by a grand jury, which makes him innocent. Tsk-tsk all you like, but you better hope Mr. Horn isn't litigious in addition to being trigger-happy.

But Martin isn't finished. In a parenthetical (btw, I neglected to mention hiding incendiary charges behind parentheticals and scare quotes in last week's debate tactics post) Martin asserts that "...it's ironic that one week after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the rape of a child doesn't merit the death penalty... many others are celebrating a man not standing trial for the killing of two others who committed robbery."

Why is this ironic? Joe Horn was acting in self-defense, not enacting the death penalty. Is Martin trying to suggest that America is less concerned about child rape than it is about robbery? Does he think Joe Horn agrees with the court's decision on this one? What is the point?

Martin asserts that "At no point was Horn's life in danger." Is Martin so unfamiliar with home burglary that he is unaware that robbers frequently come back to the same homes and neighborhoods? Jamis Marks' neighbors were broken into weeks before thugs broke into his home. But apparently, Joe Horn had some unspoken moral obligation to roll the dice with two men who very clearly have no respect whatsoever for the law. He should have " left apprehending criminals to the folks empowered to do so -- the police."

Since Roland Martin enjoys Supreme Court related irony so much, I'm tempted to note that he offers this particular snippet immediately after the same Supreme Court affirmed the right of citizens to own arms in order to protect a free state. Joe Horn WAS empowered to do precicely what he did.

Yes, the lives of those two men will weigh on his conscience. That is the price he has to pay for the continued safety and well being of his neighbors. Instead of heaping acrimony upon Joe Horn for exercizing his legal rights, perhaps Martin could show some compassion to a retired engineer who is, by all accounts a peaceful man.

Incidentally, the man who bought the home formerly owned by Jamis Marks is from Texas. I'll tell you this much. I'd rather have him for a neighbor than Roland Martin.

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