All posts by Dale Connelly

I am a writer and broadcaster living in the Twin Cities.
We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Autumnal Color Riot Mentality

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

Every year we have a wonderful Autumn tradition in our little town – a Pumpkin Festival that provides a lot of good old-fashioned fun for families from the surrounding area.

There is something invigorating about standing outside with a nice hot cup of apple cider on a sunny, brisk afternoon. The bright yellows, reds and rusts of the elms and maples frame a glorious display –  the deep blue of an October sky,  punctuated by crimson beams from police cruisers darting playfully through billowing clouds of tear gas!

Vivid piles of orange Jack-o-Lanterns dot the scene.  The sharp, invigorating air is filled with the falling of the leaves and the rising of rocks, skateboards and buckets as they are petulantly hurled at a line of officers in riot gear.

“I love autumn,” I whisper to my sweetheart.  I bury my face in the shoulder of his jacket to keep my eyes from watering.   My ears fill with a chorus of seasonal sounds – the delightful crunch of the leaves, the determined scraping of a bamboo rake,  and the insistent crackle of a bullhorn as the local sheriff orders us to disperse!

Dr. Babooner, I realize that not everyone fully appreciates the beauty of October, but  I always come to harvest time with thoughts of gratitude for being able to witness a remarkable transformation. The bounty is in.  The summer has surrendered.  The landscape erupts with color.  My car is upside down and burning on the street just a few feet from where I left it.

How can I help others embrace the wonder of this remarkable season?

Crisply,
Pumpkin Spice Girl

I reminded PSG that all beauty is in the eye of the beholder – defined not only by the things you see, but what you choose to overlook.
But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?

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Apostle of Jazz

Radio legend, jazz lover and gentleman Leigh Kamman passed away last Friday at 92.

Leigh was a rare individual in many ways, but particularly in the world of radio where the microphone amplifies the voice and also inflates the perceptions of listeners about the qualifications of the person doing the talking. The medium itself adds authority whether you deserve it or not. If you’re just smart enough to walk around the outside edges of a topic, many listeners will assume you know everything inside. Careers have been built on this.

Leigh Kamman was the real deal. With him, you got a radio host who actually knew what he was talking about. When it came to jazz, he was a true devotee, and his primary interest was in sharing the art and uplifting the performers. I can’t recall hearing Leigh say a negative word about anyone except himself. I think about that when I read music reviews where critics use their pedestals to bash performers who don’t live up to their expectations.

As a radio host, I admired Leigh for his ability to set a scene and transport a listener to someplace new. He did the most essential thing when enveloped you in his world. As the Jazz Image theme music – Django’s Castle – began each Saturday night, I waited with great anticipation for the moment when the music would fade and he’d step in with that voice to take us to an unexpected location. “Hanging upside down over the Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth” was my all-time favorite. Just hearing the music by Gerry Mulligan’s band takes me back there – you can listen and fill in with your own Leigh Kamman memory.

I know several people who worked directly with Leigh on his MPR program, The Jazz Image. Each one was grateful for the experience, none more than Tom Wilmeth, who wrote this fine profile for the Jazz Times.

One of my favorite quotes is this one, where Tom captures Leigh’s inherent modesty:

Leigh consistently kept the focus on the music, and never on himself. He had spoken to Duke Ellington on numerous occasions, first as a 17-year-old fan at a train station! But he wouldn’t think of dropping this fascinating nugget into a conversation in order to impress. I had worked with Leigh close to three years before I heard him mention, in passing, about speaking with Charlie Parker. I froze at the tape deck with reel in hand. I asked him to expand a bit, but he drifted away to another subject.

When you know a lot about something you can use that information to intimidate others who are less knowledgable. I have seen smart people who are also enthusiasts of one sort or another wield volumes of minutiae to demonstrate that no matter how big a fan someone else might be, they are a MUCH, MUCH BIGGER fan. I guess there must be a good feeling that comes out of that, but I doubt that it lasts long.

Leigh Kamman was a distance runner – he had lived the life and had the history and the raw material to be that guy who made you feel inadequate and dumb, but he was principled and like a superhero, he used his immense power only for good – opening minds, gaining converts and spreading his love for the art form of jazz.

In what area are you an enthusiast?

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Duck Opener

Today’s Post comes from Bathtub Safety Officer Rafferty.

At ease, civillians!

But at the same time stay very alert, because there are people walking around our lakes and marshes carrying guns, and they’re looking for things to shoot! The Minnesota waterfowl season opened last weekend, and ducks have been in the news ever since.

As a Bathtub Safety Officer, I’m charged with keeping people informed about the hazards associated with slippery, wet, hard surfaces in and around the bathroom, which statistics show is The Most Dangerous Room In The House. You simply can’t combine the disparate elements of water, tile, porcelain, soap, and naked, vulnerable people without taking crazy risks. And this precarious situation was made even less safe by the introduction of rubber waterfowl into the bathroom environment – a move I opposed but people ignored my warnings and now the bathtub duck population has exploded, worldwide!

Where do they come from? No one seems to know! I am deeply worried that there is some sinister force behind the relentless spread of these creatures, which have no official taxonomy but I categorize them as “Bathtub Ebola”.

Rubber bathtub ducks are eye-catching distractions whose distinctive call (“Squeak!”) can be quite alarming to an unsuspecting bather. Unfortunately, these ducks only sound off when they are squeezed or stepped on, usually by a person who has soap in his eyes and is blindly grasping around for a towel. If you are in that situation it means you have probably already lost your balance and injury is imminent!

That’s why I’m declaring a Bathtub Duck season in Minnesota, which commences immediately and ends only when I say so, which is probably going to be never.

Under the guidelines I am making up right now, you can bag as many ducks as you like as long as you remove them from the bathtub area and either pen them up in a safe, non-slippery enclosure, or extract their squeakers and deflate them so they can be of no harm to innocent bathroom users. I realize that this will offend some who think there should be as many of these yellow floaters around as possible, because they are “fun”.

I ASSURE YOU, there is nothing “fun” about these dangerous creatures. Here are two examples:

A giant bathtub duck appeared in Seoul, South Korea this week and after dominating the landscape with its imposing, Godzilla-like presence, it began deflating – much to the delight of the local populace, many of whom took pictures of the weakened rubberfowl. But it has since been pumped up again by its masters, and the people who were momentarily released from its mezmerizing spell have once again fallen silent. Where is the Minnesota duck hunting population when we so desperately need it?

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And scientists got the “go-ahead” this week to land a probe on a rubber-duck-shaped object hurtling through space. Which raises the question – could comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko be the extra-terrestrial source of this Flaxen Scourge? The notion that there is a Rubber Duck Mother Ship rocketing around our galaxy is an admittedly wild idea that can only be tested by landing a probe right on its head. I am not a violent person, but I admit I’m comforted by the thought that the first thing the Philae probe will do once it makes contact is thrust a space-harpoon into the comet’s (hopefully soft) head.

Only then will we begin to understand the true dimensions of what we are really dealing with!

Stay Alert!
B.S.O.R.

What was your favorite childhood toy?

Beer Flood Brewery

Waves From Grain

The current news is full of fear and paranoia about the Ebola virus, and of course it is a valid concern but still not the most pressing immediate threat to one’s life and limb.

The sad truth is, any number of unlikely occurrences happening in the right order at an unfortunate time can conspire to quite quickly usher you off the planet. Take, for example, this day in 1814, when a host of people died in the undeniably tragic and yet weirdly delicious sounding London Beer Flood.

Enormous pressure inside a large vat of fermenting porter burst some iron hoops that kept the barrel together, causing other large casks to explode in a chain reaction that flooded an impoverished neighborhood. Eight were killed, mostly women and children in the surrounding buildings and streets.

I suppose this was a time and place where neighbors had little to no influence over the business ventures that took up residence in their midst. Some were probably glad they had a brewery on the block, rather than something truly dangerous and repugnant, like a slaughterhouse. Drat the luck!

In one possibly made-up account of the tragedy, flood survivors taken to a hospital caused a stir because they reeked of beer. Other patients, unaware of the reason for the sudden introduction of such a heady fragrance into the atmosphere of the infirmary, became indignant because they weren’t also receiving the same medicine that others were getting – in what smelled like mammoth doses.

I don’t think being a doctor has ever been easy.

What’s your favorite medication?

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Do The Locomotion

Today’s post comes from marketing wizard and dealmaker Spin Williams, who is always in residence at The Meeting That Never Ends.

Because we’re interested in collecting piles of money, we’re always on the lookout for the next big weight loss fad!

Telling other people how to drop pounds off their frame is one of the great growth industries of our time, which is both true and ironic!

And there are thousands of ways to (supposedly) do it. You can use mechanical devices or take pills or buy a CD or watch a show or adopt a diet with ready-made food in carefully measured helpings.

Fortunes have been won with each of these.

But at The Meeting That Never Ends, we took on what I think is the most difficult weight loss / marketing challenge out there – figuring out how to make money off of simple walking. Because if you don’t sell high-end shoes (and we don’t), there isn’t a lot of equipment needed to go out for a stroll.

At first we thought we’d buy a company that sells electronic step-counters. This works especially well on people who have  bought in to the idea that taking 10,000 steps a day is all you need to do to become thin and sexy.

The problem is there’s very little sexy-time left in your schedule when you have to walk 10,000 steps a day, especially if you’ve spent all that time counting quietly in your head. Sex requires a lot of imagination and the fanciful part of your brain takes a bit of a holiday when you have to count up to 10,000.

But that’s where the step-counting devices come in!

And the sky’s the limit on price point – because people will pay a lot for a thing if they think it will dramatically improve their chances of getting lucky.

We were all set to go but then a bunch of killjoy researchers came along and said 10,000 steps is too much and you can get the same effect with only 6,000 steps. Suddenly our Pricey Love Pedometers were looking less necessary! And then some other prudish lab rats weighed in with the idea that walking won’t help you lose weight at all. All it does is improve your strength, mobility, mood, sleep and overall health.

But what good is that if there’s nothing to sell as part of the bargain?

Fortunately, a lightning bolt struck and I think we’ve stumbled on the next big exercise fad! It happened when I read this article about prehistoric kangaroos. It turns out ancient kangaroos walked around on two legs pretty much like we do. They were big, and the bigger they got, the less hopping they did until they got so huge they had to give up hopping completely!

So in the kangaroo world, walking is what biggies do and hopping is for little cuties. See?

But hopping is complicated. That’s why we’re just about to go to market with wearable kangaroo tails that will provide a counter-weight and balance for body-conscious people who are going to start jumping their way to work, or to the store, or just around the neighborhood for recreation!

Look for it. It’s going to happen! We think getting smaller through hopping is going to be huge.

Again, ironic.

Yours in marketing,
Spin

What makes you jump?

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Thin Soup Celebration

There was a hopeful sign this week out of a gathering of officials of the Catholic church. They said some things about gays and lesbians that fell somewhat short of complete condemnation.

In a preliminary document produced by some senior clerics at a lengthy Vatican meeting that would otherwise go unnoticed by most of the world, it was acknowledged that “Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community.”

For those who have been waiting for a fundamental shift and an embrace of common sense and simple humanity from a bureaucracy that maintains gays are “intrinsically disordered,” being bestowed with generic “gifts” and unidentified “qualities” can’t be dancing-in-the-streets news.

But it did make me think of how we all feel after a long winter when we’re hungry for the thaw. It’s remarkable how little it takes to cheer you up when one is desperate for a sign of warmth.

No fireworks yet, but I think the moment is worth a three-limerick salute. However I only have two, because I couldn’t think of enough good rhymes for “intrinsic”.

I.
All those Catholic guys who are gays
are “disordered”, the church doctrine says.
But their spirits, it lifts
when it says, “They have “gifts”!
Minor progress – with major delays.

II.
I have scorned you and left you maligned.
But my views have been lately refined.
You’re intrinsically bad,
but that’s not iron-clad!
You have qualities, too, of some kind.

What’s the most watered-down compliment you’ve received (or given)?

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The SlitherBot Threat is Real!

Today’s post comes from Congressman Loomis Beechly, representing Minnesota’s 9th District – all the water surface area in the state.

Greetings Constituents,

With the mid-term election less than one month away I have been looking in vain for an issue that will give me enough traction to wriggle back into office.

Many of my House colleagues are going nuts over Ebola, Immigration, Benghazi and Obama Care with varying results. Some high-minded politicians have tried to make a big deal out of Net Neutrality, and in the process have put their constituents to sleep.

I decided I wanted to go my own route and have been trying a few things on for size.

Most recently I decried President Obama’s admission that he didn’t have a strategy against ISIS. That critical angle really started to work for me and people were even sending money to endorse my assertion that the president should have started word-bombing Syria immediately, but when he began bomb-bombing instead, the contributions just fizzled out.

An earlier attempt to generate some genuine outrage fell flat when people simply refused to care that legions of robots are being programmed to cooperate.

I thought it would generate waves of concern among the populace that our beloved Congressmen could someday be replaced by machines that will compromise their personal needs in favor of getting things done. I guess I overestimated people’s fondness for partisan bickering. I really thought it was popular!

Now I’m second-guessing that, but I’m still pretty sure there’s a strong anti-robot feeling out there. I’d still like to exploit that fear, if possible. The key was to find something people hate as much (or more) than robots.

Fortunately, I just discovered something so alarming I think you’ll agree that Congress should pass a law restricting it as soon as possible – Robot Snakes!

Apparently some scientists (thank God they continue to tickle our worst fears with their outrageous experiements) developed a robot snake that will slither up a sand dune like a sidewinder. Through careful research they learned that sidewinders flatten their bodies out to get a better purchase on an unstable surface. Ugh!

Don’t get me wrong, this is probably useful knowledge that will benefit mankind somehow in the future, but for now I feel I’ve been gifted with the extremely sinister image of a robot snake with an eerily flattened body speedily writhing its way towards you (and your children!) across an otherwise peaceful and secure beach.

This must never be allowed to happen!

My opponent, and everyone else in Congress and the nation, have been silent on the looming SlitherBot threat! But if I am re-elected to represent the 9th District, I promise I will introduce legislation to prohibit the release of autonomous sidewinder robot snakes into the wild! Especially near bodies of water, which, as you know, is primarily what you’ll find in my district.

My critics will say no one anywhere is on record with a plan to do this, but as far as I’m concerned, that means the planning must be happening in secret, which is even more dastardly! Why go underground with it unless your aims are nefarious?

OMG. Could there be Underground SlitherBots?

Respectfully,
Your only anti-cyber-snake candidate,
Loomis Beechly

What election issue has your attention?