Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The funny man

“Ian, do you want to listen to the funny man?”

A very prepubescent response “sure Dad.”

There were many Saturday evenings that went like that when my father would turn on the radio. We were generally driving back from dinner or a movie, and then I would hear that voice…

It was a voice that taught me many of my foundational things: republicans were bad, the church was good, and life was a little slower on the lake. After the news was finished with the line “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average” I would be transported to a dark mystery of Guy Noir. There was something rhythmic and soothing about the voice, which made me laugh at some of the same jokes my father laughed at, thus making me feel smart and connected.

I had no idea what that voice looked like for a long time. I filled in the character. In Sunday school we would hear stories about God talking, I assumed God sounded like the voice I heard from “the funny man.”

Years later when the movie A Prairie Home Companion was released I saw what that voice actually looked like. Yesterday, I got to shake that voices hand.

Drake hosted Garrison Keillor yesterday for the Bucksbaum Lecture, a time every semester when we play host to some of the most influential people of the day. Maya Angelou, Ambassador Pickering, Ken Burns, Bill Bryson have all graced the Blue stage. Keillor is hilarious, in a kind of comedy that is unmatched. He started out singing and then went into poetry, and finished off as he does so well with telling stories.

I like his stories. I like stories. I take a great deal of joy from being able to tell stories, and one of the tenants, the foundations of my life is to have good stories. Upon leaving Oman I made a list I keep on my mobile for when I am bored or when people ask, of stories that I was a part of in Oman. Drake allowed me the chance to create story after story for myself, and yesterday gave me the chance to meet and listen to the master.

Monday, October 17, 2011

OccupyDSM (This Land is Your Land...)

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings:
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, well, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
I tell you, This land was made for you and me

As I went walking down that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway
Now I saw below me that golden valley
And I said: This land was made for you and me.

As I was walking, they try to stop me,
They put up a sign that said, it said "Private Property."
Well, on the back side, you know it said nothing!
So, it must be that side was made for you and me.

One bright sunny morning, well, in the shadow of a steeple;
Down by the welfare office, I saw my people.
You know, they stood hungry; I stood wondering,
I was wondering if this land made was for you and me?

This land is your land, this land is my land
From Riverside, California, to the Staten Island
Well, oh, down to Modesto, Georgia, don't forget to say Philadelphia, oh
we moving on down to Mississippi, Houston, Texas, ah LA,
you know,This land is your land, this land is my land.
This land is your land
You've got to believe, This my land
This land was made for you and me

Thursday, October 13, 2011


My relationship with Steve Jobs started like most good relationships: introduced by a pretty girl. I had an mp3 played (called an Iriver-no affiliation to ipod) which was more or less an AA battery holder and a headphone jack. Long strands of grass stood no chance between me, my mower and my music. However one time I went driving with a gal who had an ipod. This was the size of a large cell phone, black and white text, but contained countless songs. I was fascinated. I then went home and went in on one with my father for our road trips (no more mixing tapes or trying to burn CDs from .wav files for us!) I think we might still have that ipod wired into his car.
One of the collections my father has is CDs. He has multiple shelves, full of floor to ceiling CDs with almost every artist and genre one could think of. (This created interesting conversations when we saw what it took to make a CD as he has, and I was all for Napstering/Kazaa/Limewire-stealing of music) When we bought the Ipod, we had to set up our itunes account. Which meant while working on homework on one computer, I was uploading every CD he had (insert, rip, eject. Rinse, repeat. ) over and over and over. Nowadays, Jobs has created jobs for companies who will do that process for you. My father had a high school kid with a lack of desire to complete math homework.
I got a little older, and met an even prettier gal. This meant long trips driving, and I had a need to set the mood from time to time. Thank you Steve Jobs for enabling to do so, with my own ipod (which just died this weekend-more on that later)
We spent so much time listening to music that for one of the obligatory gift giving holidays I saw it fit to get her an ipod (she did not have one) engraved with her name on it. My line of thinking was that every time she listened to music I would cross her mind. We don’t talk much anymore, but the ipod still works. I remember the gift being a huge deal, and feeling great pride for having worked the extra hours to enhance someone’s joy of music.
On every big race I have ever run, I have had my trusty ipod helping me keep smiling and keeping time. I always felt excellent when Living on a Prayer” was timed just right in my playlist to hit at the “halfway there” mark. I also am notorious for singing that song in (hopefully) the middle. It also made me smile during the doldrums (the 60 to 87% of the race.) I remember distinctly listening to the Army Strong song as I finished Des Moines Marathon last year, shortly before passing out.
I had a real sweet place list for chicagos marathon last Sunday. At least I thought I did. I got through a few miles only to figure out that my playlist had not uploaded correctly. No biggie though, I was still using my DSM one. Then just after the halfway point (bonjovi has passed me, as I was much slower) silence. Fittingly matching the creator, my ipod just stopped working. I tried to fix it (no small feat while running a marathon, trying not to run anyone over) much like the doctors probably did. Then I said forget about and proceeded to look for the two people I knew in the race (to no luck.) I sang songs in my head, lots ot songs, I took in the sights, and smiled at the cheer squads. I ran free and true, just as I imagine Steve Jobs is doing now in Apple Heaven.
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