What Time Is It?

There is a divide between professional golfers and ordinary golfers that we ordinaries long to close. The game is so fickle and unpredictable and the small variations that make a big difference are so incomprehensibly tiny, it is possible to imagine that some day, for no reason other than the whimsy of a random universe, I will step on the course and play, not like myself, but like Jim Furyk.

In reality, that will never happen. If the professional/ordinary gap is threatened at all, it is by scenarios like this one: Furyk has a dead cell phone, his alarm doesn’t go off, he oversleeps, misses his tee time and is disqualified from a potentially very lucrative tournament.

Oversleeping. How common. Although some are more prone to it than others.

In 25 years of doing a weekday morning radio show that started as early as 5 am, I can recall oversleeping two times. In each case I was about one half hour late and both times my duties were handled by an extremely capable co-host. I felt off my game for the rest of the day, and there were other ramifications too. I developed a blister on one foot because I rushed out the door with putting on socks, and my shirt was 15% more wrinkled than normal but nobody said a word about it, perhaps out of politeness. No harm done.

But oversleeping can he hazardous.

If, for instance, you’re involved in a bankruptcy proceeding and are ordered by the court to appear at a meeting of your creditors and then don’t show up because you overslept and later you still don’t show up even though your attorney calls you to ask “where are you?” and even later when the marshal calls of course you promise him you will surrender yourself at the courthouse within an hour and a half but instead you jump in a car and go with your girlfriend to Florida with this crazy plan to hide out in a boat because you harbor a wild fantasy that you will never have to come back to face the music, then, well, you could wind up in jail.

A good alarm clock and a little common sense will help you avoid many problems.

Have you ever been penalized for oversleeping?

State Fair Time!

The Minnesota State Fair begins today, so take some time to end your summer properly with a visit to the great get together. When I go I have my usual favorite things to do, and so does everyone else. My things and your things are not always the same things. The rules that govern time and space pretty much require that any one individual will have to pass up many, many Fair features in order to enjoy their special places, experiences and foods.

This year the Fair has worked that unavoidable fact into their promotion, inviting people to narrow down the field by selecting their “Fair Four”. The lists are then posted on the Fair’s website. Take a look. Last time I checked there were over 400 entries. I wonder how many there’ll be by Labor Day?

Everybody eats their favorite food at the Fair.

As usual, I intend to visit the Animal Barns, one of the French Fry stands, the Art Building and the Sky Glider. Somewhere along the way I’ll have a milk shake. Ah, that’s five Fair things. Next year’s promotion, I expect.

On my list of new things to do is to watch some high school wizards battle it out by proxy in the education building. There’s a robotics display, and today it’s Edina vs. North Branch at 10, noon and 2. May the best gizmo win!

For new food, I might have to go to the Fried Fruit stand for fruit salsa and tortilla chips, or to the Fudge Puppy stand for a Caramel Apple Puppy. These fruity mouth fresheners may pave the way for some other new offerings – camel on a stick, deep fried balogna and corndog pizza. Yum!

Going to the fair?
Discuss your strategy.

Patiently Waiting

Everyone is relieved that the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped by an underground cave-in have been found alive. At the same time it is frightening to think of the ordeal ahead of them. It is estimated that it may take until Christmas to drill a tunnel large enough to lift them, one at a time, out of their rock walled prison 2300 feet underground.

It is very, very difficult to imagine what this must be like, starting with the depth of the underground chamber. How far 2300 feet? It’s the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building stacked one on top of the other.

The space they occupy – how small? It’s 530 square feet, described as the size of a studio apartment. Oddly, you can buy a party tent that is roughly that size on Amazon for $530 dollars.

The notes suggest you use this canopy for a wedding reception or as a carport. There’s no mention of what it would be like as a dark, hot waiting room for 33 human beings for four months straight. I doubt that most wedding guests would stand for it, even with the mimosas and free hors d’œuvres.

God help these miners and their families. I pray they all survive and are mentally healthy when they emerge, and that their resilience is an inspiration to the world.

It would also be nice if they could receive royalties for the various ways their story will be told. People trapped underground at their jobs for 16 weeks shouldn’t have to go back to work, ever. No doubt there is already talk of a reality show to mimic this catastrophe, though I suspect even the publicity hounds who populate our network airwaves would never agree to submit to this level of extreme mental torture.

A playwright somewhere could already be at work on a first draft of the stage version, though there are clear obstacles. Most theaters can’t afford to put on a 33 character show and it would be difficult for 11 actors to do triple roles. Even if they could, blocking would be a nightmare, and how long would it take to get through the happy ending scene with each man getting hoisted, one after the other, into the fly space above the stage? And didn’t they already do that with Grizabella in Cats? The critics would yawn and call it derivative, no doubt.

A major motion picture is more likely. Surely there are 33 “A list” actors in Hollywood who would love to be drenched in fake sweat while painting a picture of emotional despair and the ultimate triumph of human will over adversity. That’s Oscar grade material. The studio executives would work their usual mischief, tweaking the story to make it palatable for a U.S. audience. For instance, it would be necessary to have some of the miners be starlets whose coveralls were shredded almost to bits by the violent air blast that washed over them after the underground rock slide. And one of these female miners might have to be pregnant. With a due date that coincides with the estimated Moment Of Rescue. But you know how that’s going to turn out. Rescuers won’t be able to lift her to the surface while she’s in labor, so the more cowardly characters (Jude Law, Tilda Swinton, William H. Macy) opt to leave her underground even though some terrible danger (floodwaters, earthquake, cave bears) approaches. The noblest miners (Harrison Ford, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep) elect to stay behind and face the worst of it in order to stand guard over mom (Anjelina Jolie) and her baby, Pepito (a Jolie-Pitt child yet to be named).

Let’s hope for a story that’s genuinely happy enough to be mishandled this way.

Name your favorite disaster movie.

Under the Radar

Here’s a note from perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden, poster boy for the campaign against social promotion in our public schools.

Hey Mr. C.,

Well, the re-start of school is coming up in a couple of weeks, though for some of us it feels like school never ends. I’ve been a sophomore so long I don’t even have to think about what I need to have to go back. My folks bought everything in bulk about five years ago. I have a pallet of notebooks, a barrel of pencils and about a half ton of computer paper so I can print out all my assignments. My dad wondered if we could buy sheets with “F” and “incomplete” already scrawled across the top just to save the teacher some time. Ha ha.

I know 10th grade better than most of the teachers, and I can tell you for sure that it hasn’t changed all that much. Except this one thing, and it’s really bugging me. The food is different. Every time I go back there are more fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer meals covered in melted cheese. It’s getting so I don’t even recognize the smell of the cafeteria anymore! They talk about making healthy choices and eating locally grown food and getting lots of exercise and the whole thing gives me this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach because I’m afraid I won’t get to eat wiener winks for lunch ever again!

One cool thing about summer – with my folks at work all day I can pig out on donuts, pop and ice cream sandwiches. Going back to school is going to be a kind of dietary cold turkey and I don’t know if I’m up to it. I might go into some kind of low calorie shock if all I can have for lunch is a rice cake and some raw carrots.

You have a lot of connections, right? I’m wondering if you can get word to the people who make those potato chips in a can and see if they can create some that lay perfectly flat – flat enough so that a single chip could hide between the pages of a book. I know those snacks are squeezed out of a machine anyway. It shouldn’t be more complicated than just twisting a dial somewhere to get the wave out of those round goodies. I figure a 320 page book has space for 321 Stealthy Chips, which ought to be more than enough to get me through the morning most days.

And if they like that idea, maybe a whole line of Stealthy Snacks would be a big money maker, like cheddar puffs that look like acne. You can stick them to your face first thing in the morning and leave them there until you’re feeling a little hungry. When the teacher isn’t looking, grab that pockmark off your forehead and pop it in your mouth! We could call them Cheese – Zits!

I have plenty of great ideas for sneaking bad food into the health crazed prisons that our school cafeterias are turning into, but I need somebody on the “outside” to make the connection to the multinationals for me.

Whaddaya say? I’ll share some of my Gummi Pens with you!

I told Bubby there’s no chance of a deal. I’m actually in favor of the healthy food push that’s going on in school cafeterias, and if he doesn’t like the new menu choices he should finally apply himself to his studies and try to graduate so he can choose to dine on French fries all day as a free, unhealthy adult. Now that I think of it, maybe he failed all these years just so he could keep eating turkey gravy over toast every other Wednesday. This might be just the thing to get him to turn his work in on time!

What was your favorite school lunch?

New Favorite

Please don’t take this the wrong way, because I like Blevins and Rhonda just fine. As a Babooner, I have a fondness for red-bottomed primates that can never be shaken. But on a weekend trip to the Minnesota Zoo to see the Faces of the African Forest exhibit, I encountered a wonderful new monkey.

I like monkeys in general. I know they have their bad monkey moments, can be ferocious and under certain circumstances they like to throw their poo, but these human-like weaknesses make them more interesting. When I look at most monkeys I think “we could be relatives.” Sometimes specific names come to mind.

The Colobus Monkey, however, comes across like Garbo – a movie star with an aloof, above-it-all style, and I had not seen one until yesterday. When my wife Nancy and I first approached the exhibit, it appeared a large black cat with an extravagant white tail was sleeping up against the window. But when this “cat” lifted up its head and turned to look at us, we realized that it was definitely not Puff.

Colobus monkeys have a fringe of long white hair that falls off the shoulders like a cape, so when they swing from branch to branch they look like comic book crusaders coming to the rescue. But really, they’re coming for leaves. These monkeys are treetop dwellers and they eat a lot of leaves. Their stomachs are compartmentalized, like a bovine’s, to help digest all the roughage they take in each day. And because digestion is so much a part of what they do, they have that logy after-meal look that always says it is just about naptime. Rumor has it they fight less than other types of monkeys.

The black-and-white color scheme is a mystery to me. Why would it benefit the colobus to look like this? It seems a little flamboyant for a supposedly laid back creature that lives in a cloud of leafy greens. And the C. Everett Koop beard and the Rod Blagojevich pompadour are features that only a particularly needy animal would sport. Perhaps there is a secret longing to be noticed.

All of these conflicting qualities combine to make the Colobus monkey my new totem animal – an aloof, relaxed, peaceful, attention hungry, caped, vegetarian sky cow.

Which critter in the zoo best describes you?

Modes of Transport

Could we use this as a planter?

Here’s something for suburbanites to put in that empty third garage stall – a Space Shuttle.

With NASA retiring the orbiters soon, there is competition among museums to see who will receive one of the three remaining spacecraft. The good news? They’re free! The bad news? You have to pay for delivery.

This reminds me of the time when I was in fifth grade and I wrote to NASA to ask for a left over space suit. I was certain they didn’t re-use them. What adult would want to wear someone else’s yucky old astronaut costume, anyway? So why not take one out of the hamper and pop it in the mail? I could walk around inside it and impress my friends, and I figured the on-board air supply would come in handy in case Jennifer Brodie smiled at me again. The first time she did that, I found it impossible to breathe.

The Wall Street Journal article about museums vying to be the home of one of these space “thrifties” quotes an aerospace engineer and shuttle expert named Dennis Jenkins. He has written a history of the shuttle program and he explained why NASA requires candidates to have an indoor space ready for display of a vehicle. “They leak like a sieve,” he says. Apparently the icy vacuum of space and fiery re-entry are not an issue, but rain is another matter.

I guess the space shuttle is no Supercar. Dang!

Watching this excerpt led to another realization about the space program. In the early days we sent monkeys and the Russians sent dogs, but did anyone ever think to launch puppets?

And speaking of public transportation, the Metropolitan council has posted a video game-like clip of the soon-to-be-built Central Corridor light rail line in action. I admit that I have a thing for trains, but I had no idea until I watched this sequence that the new line will float on a cloud of computer generated music.

What’s the coolest vehicle ever to take you from point A to point B?

Paper V. Plastic Pt 2

Yesterday’s discussion got me thinking … When you really have to choose one or the other, which is better? For some reason a website called bankrate.com took this one on.
I guess dealing with actual bank rates became too depressing.

A recycling website, reuseit.com, occupies the middle ground.

And like every other type of human conflict, this one has been in court. The contest was described in one of my favorite short radio programs.

The Living Law! Cases from the back files of the law firm of Badger and Hackle. Today, the highly emotional case of Paper V. Plastic.

The plaintiff, Paper, contended that the defendant, Plastic, had wrongly and wantonly usurped Paper’s position as all-purpose goods carrier to the nation. Furthermore, Paper alleged that Plastic damaged the previously solid reputation of the Single Use Bag Community (SUBC) with loose post-purchase behavior, defaming all bag-dom by blowing randomly in the wind, choking defenseless animals, collecting along fence lines and gathering in large, floating unregulated garbage piles far out at sea.

Plastic’s defense was that Paper’s charges arose from simple jealousy and typical sour grapes, which, if they were rotten and weeping, you would want to carry in a plastic bag. Possible reasons for this resentment include but are not limited to:

– Paper is fat and thick while plastic is thin and light.

– Paper is expensive to produce and wastes trees, while Plastic is magically extruded from oil, which is a finite resource that is already spread all over the ocean, so Plastic’s tendency to return there is only natural.

– Plastic is colorful while Paper is drab and brown.

Plastic’s attorney argued that Paper’s suit against Plastic was frivolous, and nothing more than the last gasp of a dying industry. He suggested that cashiers should ask the famous “paper or plastic” question differently, saying “Plastic, unless you feel you absolutely NEED to have Paper.”

If you were a judge, what would you say?
The answer after a word from our sponsor.

Have you ever been accused of wrongdoing and had the unpleasant task of finding an attorney to represent you? Most attorneys believe every person deserves a fair trial and they will defend even the lowest, sleaziest reprobate in the interests of keeping our legal system functional and fair. But if you did the crime, even some of these helpful lawyers will look down on you and they will not treat you with sympathy.

The attorneys at Badger and Hackle are different. Many of them were worthless punks when they were teenagers and twenty-somethings. A lot of them are still punks today!

So if you’re accused of a crime, consider bringing your case to the law firm of Badger & Hackle. Especially if you really, really did it. We relate to people who are a blight on the behind of society. No matter how awful you are, you deserve a lawyer who understands you!

Badger and Hackle – the ones to come to when you’re guilty!

The judge ruled that while Plastic had indeed engaged in reckless, harmful and morally suspect behavior, those actions reflected only on the reputation of Plastic and not on Paper or any other member of the Bag family, including Canvas, Cloth, Lunch, and Papa’s Got A Brand New.

Paper, the judge said, should “get a grip” and try not to “fall apart so easily.”

Sound unlikely? It’s the Living Law!

How do you feel about courtroom dramas?

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