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15 posts from August 2011


That creep, Greg Sellnow, censors letters

I was greeted Monday morning upon my return to work from a glorious late-summer weekend with this voice mail message, forwarded to me from Managing Editor Jay Furst:

Mr. Furst I just read in the paper that if we have any concerns about accuracy or fairness in your paper to call you. I hope you'll understand this, but some time ago I sent in a letter to the editor about something that a writer had written a few years earlier about freedom. It was about "is there enough freedom in this country," and he was relating the fact that the wrong people have all the freedoms. I pointed this out in my letter and it never did get published. When I called to ask why I talked to Sellnow! And he said, well, it was because it was the paper's policy not to publish anything that is someone else's words.

What a creep! I don't know what's wrong with him. Since then, almost every day in the paper there's something in the paper where they are quoting somebody else. And it infuriates me that he got by with that. He should know better. Because it's true that the wrong people are getting by with their abusing our freedoms and that's what the article meant, and it's true and all of my friends believe it. 

He needs to have a good talking to. All he's into is himself. Please. Say something to him!

All right, maybe I am a creep for adhering to policy regarding the reprinting of material from other writers. But just so the rest of you know, here's how we handle letters to the editor that include quotes or inscriptions:

It's OK to use a quote from someone else in a letter to the editor or column as long as you give credit where credit is due. But try to keep it to a sentence or two. We won't run a letter to the editor or column that is basically a reprint of someone else's thesis. The same is true of Biblical quotes. It's all right to use a verse or two to make a point, but we won't use a letter that is two-thirds Bible verse.

We encourage ORIGINAL thought on our editorial pages.

I'm sorry the caller despises me personally for not running her letter. But, as I recall, it was basically an introductory sentence, followed by a three-or-four paragraph quote from someone else that had been printed in another publication.


The Minnesota State Fair is still a hot (discount) ticket

Images-5 The Minnesota State Fair, which annually draws more than a million people, is as popular as ever — even in the hinterlands, such as southeastern Minnesota.

I experienced firsthand evidence of that Wednesday evening when I stood in a 30-person deep line for about 20 minutes to purchase discount tickets for my family. (It served me right because I waited until the last day to get them.)

Unfortunately, the Rochester Cub Foods had temporarily run out of discount tickets earlier in the day, and they didn't get more until about 8 p.m. on Wednesday, which made the lines even worse. I felt sorry for the folks from Kasson, Hayfield, Eyota and other communities who had gone to Cub on the way home from work in Rochester on Wednesday and were told no tickets would be available until later in the evening. The next nearest location to purchase them was Austin. (They were also available in Albert Lea.)

At any rate, the long lines were an indication to me that the State Fair is still easily the most popular statewide event.

See you at the fair. I'll be there on Thursday. I'm planning a flashmob event in front of the horse barn at ... Oh, never mind.


Why Twins baseball will be the death of me

In case you missed it, we had a story on one of our inside sports pages today about an Australian study which found that the more TV you watch, the shorter your lifespan will be.

According to the study, which involved 11,000 people, every hour of TV that participants watched after age 25 was associated with a 22-minute reduction in their life expectancy. 

This the best excuse I've had yet to stop watching the Twins. They're killing me. Literally.


Dayton names a state poet laureate. Does anyone care?

Images-4 This afternoon Gov. Mark Dayton named a new state poet laureate. She is a creative writing professor at Gustavus Adolphus College named Joyce Sutphen.

I've never heard of her. I guess that doesn't mean a whole lot, because although I appreciate and enjoy good poety and go through periodic phases where I read a lot of it, I am by no means a poetry expert. However, a quick Google search reveals that Ms. Sutphen's poetry career has been, well, unremarkable — at least when you compare it to the state's first poet laureate, Robert Bly, appointed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Pawlenty, you might recall, appointed Bly after initially vetoing the bill that created the state poet laureate position. A column item I wrote in 2008, included below, explains what Pawlenty didn't like about the bill before later having a change of heart. 

At any rate, I have a suggestion for Dayton and future governors — let's keep the same poet laureate until he/she dies or another poet worthy of the honor happens along. Nothing against Ms. Sutphen, but I wonder if this is just a matter of Dayton going through the motions .... Here's the column item from 2008:

I commend Gov. Tim Pawlenty for appointing Robert Bly as Minnesota’s poet laureate. The governor, you might recall, vetoed a poet laureate bill in 2005.

The position is a ceremonial one and requires no new taxes — or any state money at all, for that matter. But the governor sarcastically remarked at the time that it could set a bad precedent and eventually lead to the naming of a state mime or interpretive dancer.

Then, last year — perhaps reacting to negative publicity from the powerful mime and interpretive dance lobby — Pawlenty had a change of heart and signed a poet laureate bill into law.

The governor did the right thing by making Bly, our state’s most famous poet — the first laureate.

I have admired Bly’s poetry for years, but I became an even bigger fan after attending a poetry reading he did at the Rochester Public Library in 2000. 



Here's the recipe for Cedric Adams casserole

Images-3 Tomorrow''s column sums up the 78 recipes I've received as part of my "Ultimate Minnesota Potluck Dish" recipe contest. 

I also include an item on Cedric Adams, the 1940s and '50s radio legend and newspaper columnist who died of a heart attack in 1961 at the age 58. Adams, a workaholic who made up to 200 public appearances a year, died in Austin, Minn., where he'd been asked to appear for the grand opening of a hotel called the Red Cedar Inn.

Adams was said to have been fond of a casserole featuring cabbage, hamburger and tomato soup.

Here's the recipe for Cedric Adams Hotdish, courtesy of Rosie Lamey of Wabasha...

1 lb. hamburger

1 small onion

7 cups cabbage

1 can tomato soup

1/4 cup water

Brown hamburger and onion. Put water in bottom of casserole dish. Put a layer of raw cabbage, then a layer of hamburger mixture, then layer of cabbage, then hamburger, etc. Pour soup over it all. Cover. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes until cabbage is tender.

Also works well in a crockpot.


Only a crazy liberal like Greg Buylater would support public schools

So, I write what I thought was an upbeat, perhaps humorous, column about my former life as the parent of three, now-graduated public school students, and this is what I get from the punctuation-challenged commenter who calls himself freeman.

mr buylater, you can donate as much money as you want to schools, instead of advocating that they take more of mine-typical liberal, always wants to fix things with other peoples money.

Is this supposed to pass for criticism? Calling me names — one I heard a lot when I was in elementary school, but not so much among intelligent adults?


What about that big black Obama bus that rolled through southern Minnesota?

Images-2 Here's a comment from columnist Kathleen Parker on the heartland tour Obama bus ...

About that bus: What could the White House have been thinking? Here the country is reeling from depression, recession and oppression, and the president decides to take a heartland tour in the visual equivalent of an armored hearse?

The infamous black bus that has been toting Barack Obama around for stump speeches designed to distract from the Republican hoedown in Iowa couldn't be less effective — unless you're Darth Vader. As the ship of state rumbles through the American countryside like a land shark from Mordor, Dick Cheney suddenly looks like Howdy Doody. It's incomprehensible.

A bus tour itself is not a bad idea when your aim is to reconnect with everyday people, but this one is ill-timed and looks desperate. If you're confident in your presidency, you ignore the impotent opposition while they slug it out. "Who, them? I'm busy." Otherwise, the bus is a stab in the heartland.

We're a red, white and blue nation, colors of optimism and hope. Or, thanks to Obama's own rhetoric, we're at least a purple nation. Lavender polka dots would have been better than a black mass that penetrates amber waves of grain like an armada of doom.  No doubt there are mighty good reasons for the color and construction of the presidential mega-hearse, but as political symbolism, the vehicle looks like a creation out of Batman and the president appears as Paul Revere of the Apocalypse. Whoever came up with the black bus had best be looking for a job, preferably not in public relations.

— Kathleen Parker



Obama zooms through Rochester today without slowing down

There was some speculation that President Obama might make an impromptu stop in Rochester today on his way from Cannon Falls to Decorah.

Instead, the president had lunch in Cannon Falls, and he stopped for piece of pie in Zumbrota, before getting back into his big black bus and heading down U.S. 52 along with a fleet of SUVs carrying dozens of snipers, Secret Service agents and other folks whose job it its to protect the POTUS.

I spent about an hour near the 19th Street exit across from McDonald's, where about 50 people had gathered to watch the motorcade pass by and perhaps stop.

At about 3:15 a helicopter passed by overhead. Then came a couple State Patrol squads, and then, a few minutes later, two large buses and a half dozen or so more SUVS with (presumably) heavily armed individuals in them.

There were small groups of people all along the U.S. 52 frontage roads through Rochester, watching for the motorcade. Most of the folks waiting appeared to be Obama supporters, or just curious. I saw just one negative sign — on one of those giant bulls you see around town with birthday messages on them. "Obama take your BS and go home," it said. 

I don't feel snubbed that the president treated Rochester as drive-through territory on this visit. When you think about it, it was a whole lot easier logistically for him to dine in a small town like Cannon Falls or Zumbrota than in Rochester, where traffic was backed up for miles on 37th, 41st and 55th streets as it was.


Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie — and tomatoes?

There is nothing better about late summer than watching a tight, well-played baseball game under a blue sky on a heaven-sent evening while eating a fresh, ripe heirloom tomato, the juice dribbling down your chin.

No, wait a minute. That would be gross — at least for the people around you in the stands watching you eat that tomato.

Still, fresh tomatoes and baseball — even when the home team isn't going to make the playoffs — are two of the things I like most about the dog days of summer.

I'm planning a column for Saturday on why I and others — even folks who aren't sports fans in general —enjoy baseball so much. I'd like to hear from readers on this. So, give me a shout if you'd like to share a thought about what makes the sport so special. Tomatoes, too!

And, see you at the Honkers game tonight. 


Root River region featured in current issue of Midwest Living Magazine

An anonymous reader left a message on my voice mail yesterday noting that Cape Girardeau, Mo., which I've mentioned in a couple of recent columns as a brief stop on my journalism career, is featured in Midwest Living magazine this month as an interesting place to visit. 

(By the way, in my last column I wrote that Cape Girardeau is on the Missouri River. That was a slip of the fingers. As I wrote in the previous column, Cape Girardeau is on the MISSISSIPPI River. Thanks to the several readers who read my column so closely and pointed out the error.)

After the reader called, I took a spin through the online version of the August issue of Midwest Living and discovered that the Root River Valley of southeastern Minnesota is also featured. The article mentions a variety of destinations throughout the beautiful Root River Valley, including Lanesboro, Harmony, Niagara Cave, the Root River Trail, and the Historic Scenic Blufflands Byway.

The region deserves the attention. It's a gorgeous and a great place to visit.