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October 26, 2016

The thought of banned books – or banned anything – is interesting and I liked the author’s thought about the possibility of placing ratings on books as we’ve done with movies. The two lists are interesting although I’m not sure if these are recommended for straight bans or for bans for a reader of a certain age.

It's All in Finding the Right Words

banned_books US Department of Labor Blog

Every year another book-hits-the-fanfor its over-the-top content. Something about the book suddenly offends someone and the world is then notified… therefore the “bad” book gets all kinds of press and is “banned” from public consumption.

I suspect that the more attention that is placed on a banned book, the more consumers step-up-to-the-plate to read the offence-to-the-masses.

Maybe there ought to be ratings placed on books as we have on movies? But to silence the voices that one does not approve of or happen to appreciate their point-of-view or content… this is not good for our society as a whole.

(I am now stepping down from my pulpit…) 

If you would like to see (or maybe even browse through) a book that has shaken the mores of our world, below are the two most current lists.

100 Most Frequently Challenged Books 1990–1999

  1. Scary Stories (series)…

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The Baseball Finale

October 25, 2016

Big game tonight in case you haven’t heard!

I’m not much of a fan of either the Cleveland Indians or the Chicago Cubs, but I’ll be – despite my agreeing with Native American protests pointing to the team’s name and logo caricature as both being offensive and in need of change – pulling for the Cleveland guys. I like the idea of the World Series winner coming from the same division as my beloved Minnesota Twins for two straight years and I also like baseball tradition, and one of those baseball’s most enduring traditions is the Chicago Cubs being known as the “Lovable Losers”. So, with apologies to the great Steve Goodman and the millions of Chicagoans living on the city’s north side (and the defectors from the south side), here’s hoping the Cubs stay that way.

But it’s going to be tough. I’m a big believer that good pitching beats good hitting and wins baseball games, and as good as the Cleveland pitching staff is, the Cubs staff is better. But the way baseball is played today I’m not sure that the bullpen isn’t more important than any team’s five starters and Cleveland has a better bullpen. Plus Cleveland has the home field advantage. So for what it’s worth I’m going with Cleveland in six games. But considering my prognostication skills when it comes to picking sporting events, you might want to book a flight out to Las Vegas and put whatever you own on the Cubs.

I guess the bottom line is that it really doesn’t matter who wins because the series is going to be fun simply because of the history of the two teams. It’s been 71 years since the Cubs have played in a World Series and the last time they won the championship was in 1908. The Indians made it to the World Series just 19 years ago but they haven’t won the championship since 1948. Regardless of who wins the agony will finally end for one city.

“I can’t listen to the radio; I can’t open the paper,” my father told me a couple of weeks ago. “If they win, I might move to Canada.”

The above quote is from an enjoyable essay I read the other day from the perspective of a Chicago White Sox fan and his father.

And since I mentioned Steve Goodman above, here’s this:

When I was a boy they were my pride and joy but now they only bring fatigue to the home of the brave, the land of the free, and the doormat of the National League. – From A Dying Cubs Fan’s Last Request

So what team are you picking?

Water, water everywhere . . .

October 13, 2016

. . . but the boards didn’t shrink.

For this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, Lignum Draco asks us to experiment with water. The word “experiment” flashed me back, and in the interest of full disclosure, before I share my pictures, I’d like to say right now to anyone reading this that there was a time in my life – please know I was much younger – when I experimented with dihydrogen monoxide. I’m not particularly proud of the fact and I have no excuse other than many of us did a lot of crazy things when we were younger. The late sixties and early seventies were a crazy time and peer pressure can sometimes be a terrible thing that’s all the excuse I have. I did eventually stop my experimenting and I’m here all these years later so I guess all’s well that ends well, no?

Here we go –

A river (yeah, I know, nothing original there)






The turtle family



The Veggie Burger that Bleeds?

October 13, 2016

Impossible Foods gives us a new veggie burger that’s advertised as being so close to a meat burger that it “bleeds”. I’m all for a good veggie burger – whether it’s homemade or store bought, but Impossible Foods lab grown Impossible Burger isn’t a way to get me rushing into line to buy one. I can’t think of anything more unappetizing than food that bleeds. And while I respect the attempt, the inclusion of coconut oil makes a healthy alternative to red meat just as unhealthy – if not more so – than red meat. One three ounce Impossible Foods Impossible Burger has 220 calories and contains a whopping 11 grams (54% recommended daily value) of saturated fat. That’s right up there in artery-clogging territory with McDonald’s Quarter Pounder. And at least with the Quarter Pounder you get an extra ounce of food.

Sorry, Impossible Foods, I appreciate the effort, but I’ll pass on this one.

I understand wanting to make a burger that’s environmentally friendly and that doesn’t involve the sacrifice of animals, and I understand wanting to win over meat eaters with a plant-based alternative, but in the rush to create veggie burgers, what I think gets forgotten is that there are a lot of reasons people don’t eat meat and creating a plant-based alternative that looks like meat and tastes like meat and smells like meat – and bleeds like meat – is, for a lot of people, kind of nauseating. If you want to win me over, don’t focus on something that looks, tastes and smells like the meat I don’t eat, focus on giving me something that tastes good and is fresh and healthy.

So which veggie burgers do I like? I give a big thumbs up to Engine 2 Plant Strong burgers and I also like Dr. Praeger’s and Gardein (as well as pretty much all the Gardein products), and a sentimental favorite is Boca Burgers because they’re the first veggie burger I ever ate. Of course the best veggie burgers are the ones you make yourself and the internet is a treasure trove of recipes so a person is never at a loss for a new one to try. If you have a favorite veggie burger recipe please feel free to send it to me! Either post it in the comments below or email me at michael55345 at gmail dot com.


October 7, 2016

Just sneaking in under the wire for last week’s WordPress Photo Challenge.

What kinds of experiences stir emotions for the past within you?

This is a picture of an old abandoned train station in my hometown.

St. Louis Park Train Station

Abandoned things; train stations and luncheonettes.

Book Review: Born to Run

October 5, 2016

The beauty of Born to Run isn’t that it’s a biography of Bruce Springsteen, the beauty is that it’s written by Bruce himself. His spirit, his style, his nuances and his voice: the same things that draw us so tightly to his music, that make us cling so strongly to his words and sing them so loudly when no one’s watching (or in my case, listening!) and that serve as the links that allow us to see ourselves in verse after verse of his songs, are what ultimately make this book so great.

A lot of us have read about Bruce endlessly since that historic week in October 1975 so reading about him now is nothing new, but in Born to Runwe’re not reading about him. Born to Run is much more personal than that. Through the words of these pages we’re listening to him talk to us. ReadingBorn to Run is like sitting at a restaurant across the table from Bruce while he talks to only us about everything in his life and his career and we sit there eating apple pie with a goofy schoolboy grin on our face because, hey, we’re sitting at a table across from Bruce Springsteen with no one else in the world around and tell me, what fan hasn’t had that fantasy. This book allowed me to feel close to Bruce in a way that nothing, short of being allowed to climb up onstage and shout out “1, 2, 3, 4” in the middle of Born to Run, ever will.

Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Bruce Springsteen is a legend. If you don’t like his songs then you might not care to read about his life, but if you have even the slightest passing interest in the man, or wondered what all the fuss has been for the last 40+ years, then this is the autobiography you’ve been waiting for. I thought the beginning was a little slow but then I usually think that about the early life accounts in nearly every autobiography I read, but the last 2/3’s of the book are everything you could hope for. Reading Born to Run is every bit as joyous as seeing the man perform live or listening to him on record and it satisfies completely.

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: The Snowman & The Woman

September 15, 2016

Obviously this isn’t a current photo but it’s one I’ve always enjoyed because whenever I look at it different stories of its origin come to mind. The picture was taken mid-winter at Lake of the Isles which is one of Minneapolis’ city lakes (actor Josh Hartnett used to have a house on Lake of the Isles and Mary Tyler Moore’s TV house is located just a block away and Prince mentioned the lake in his song, Rock ‘n’ Roll Is Alive (And It Lives in Minneapolis”) and the reason I’ve always found the picture so interesting is because it’s a mystery to me what the woman in the picture is doing. What you see here is a pole frozen in the ice next to a fallen snowman and the snowman’s hat is resting on top of the pole. The mystery is the woman is wearing a dress jacket and she’s carrying her purse so she’s not dressed for a mid-winter hike around and over a frozen lake so what’s she doing out there in a lightweight jacket and no hat? What attracted her enough to walk out to the middle of the lake and check it out? I’ll never know, but I like thinking about it whenever I look at the picture.


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