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Monday, Nov. 24, 2014
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Hats off to the Mustangs (11/21/14)
I know it's not exactly standard procedure to write about a program that falls outside of a paper's immediate distribution area, but what the Newell-Fonda football program pulled off this week deserves all the praise it can get. Saying what they pulled off this week somewhat undersells the actual story here...
Calm amidst the panic (11/21/14)
For the second time in less than a year, Spencer High School students and staff were put on alert and evacuated after a threat on a bathroom wall suggested a bomb was located in the high school Wednesday. Similar circumstances, two different individuals responsible and the same dramatic response for both...
Adoption secures the blessings of hope, home (11/21/14)
There's no place like home. During this season of thanksgiving, celebrating life's blessings with family and friends offers Americans a time-treasured ritual observed for generations. Gathering at the table for food and fellowship, we continue customs set forth during colonial times. ...
Ask a Trooper (11/21/14)
My moment in the spotlight came several years back. We had just purchased a camera that was capable of taking much better pictures than our old one. So I had to give it a try. It was Memorial Day weekend and we had our flag displayed outside on the deck. ...
CommStock Report (11/20/14)
After decades experiencing the Communist era, Russians are used to being lied to by their government by now. I think that it is so ingrained into their culture that they may even defend the right to being lied to by Moscow from outside criticism. Vladimir Putin is part of the old regime wired to run Russia like the head of the KGB. ...
'Princes' (11/19/14)
Last week, I read that Disney had announced its next animated movie titled "Princes," a story about two princes who set out on a quest to save a princess only to fall in love with each other. The story stated that Disney's first movie about a same-sex couple was due to hit theaters in 2015...
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas (11/17/14)
Wasn't it just the Fourth of July? I turn around, it seems, and the summer holiday has morphed into Thanksgiving and thoughts of Christmas. The blanket of snow we received on Saturday helped to push visions of sugarplums to the top of my mind, and so did the afternoon I spent decorating a room of the 1916 Parker House in holiday finery, in preparation for the Spencer Hospital Foundation's Festival of Trees Tour of Homes this weekend...
Bear fight (11/14/14)
Calm down. This isn't about actual bears throwing down in fisticuffs. I know, I'm bummed too, but at least I got you to look. Now that you're here, let's talk about Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall. You know, that guy that caught an NFL record 21 passes in one game for Denver back in the day, subsequently went a little crazy and went to Florida where that kind of thing is totally acceptable only to mostly regain his sanity and end up reuniting with Jay Cutler (and Jay Cutler's perpetual indifference for things like winning football games) in Chicago.. ...
A tip of the hat to Maine (11/14/14)
Just wanted to take some time this week to thank the administration in Maine for implementing a concept I've been advocating for years. The state has started requiring those using food stamps to begin working to earn them. Some are decrying the move as bad policy but I've been trying to make this argument for quite some time...
CommStock Report (11/13/14)
One significant change expected from the GOP assuming control of both houses of Congress in Washington would be for momentum toward negation of expanded trade agreements to resume. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid were not telling the whole truth when they claimed to support trade but refused to advance Trade Promotion Authority to the president...
Earworm (11/12/14)
How often has this happened to you? You're just going about your day, when BAM! For no apparent reason, you have a tune stuck in your head. Maybe it's a whole song or just that one catchy line of lyrics, but it's there. The technical term for a song stuck in your head is an earworm. Properly named don't you think? The song just munches on your ear like a little worm...
Give thanks to our vets (11/10/14)
The 11th day of the 11th month is designated as Veterans Day. Communities across the nation celebrate and pay tribute to hometown heroes, too many of whom have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country. Thanks to the sons and daughters who put their boots on the ground on the battlefield, Americans from all walks of life enjoy the blessings of freedom more than two centuries after the birth of a new nation...
Toes may be cold, but hearts are warm (11/10/14)
Ready or not, winter's on its way to northwest Iowa. The forecast calls for cold, colder, and even colder than that. Highs in the 20s -- in November -- are forecast over the next 10 days. Lows? Well, you don't want to know. Misery will have to love company, as much of the United States will be shivering together this week, as an Arctic weather system that ripped through Alaska, is barreling south, bringing a chill to most of the nation...
Meant for LattiMore (11/07/14)
First things first. The girls state swim meet is today. I'm there, and I'll be live-tweeting Spencer's results @SDR_Sports. They're really good, so they deserve your support, and I'm at least mediocre, and the follow button is really easy to click, so give it a go. I realize there are four conjunctions in that sentence. Whatever, it felt right. Let's move on to the column...
A forgotten holiday? (11/07/14)
"This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave." -- Elmer Davis, director of war information, WWII On the list of most celebrated federal holidays, Veteran's Day is probably towards the bottom of the list. As members of the Iowa State Patrol, we often highlight major holiday travel weekends for additional patrol. ...
Honor those who deserve it (11/07/14)
As you may be reading this Saturday morning, I'm racing back toward chilly northwest Iowa from beautiful, sunny southern California with a brand new U.S. Marine by my side. My son Hunter graduated shortly after 2 p.m. your time on Friday with a few hundred brand new Marine brothers in an amazing ceremony conducted at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. ...
CommStock Report (11/06/14)
GMO labeling ballot measures were solidly defeated in both Colorado and more narrowly so in Oregon. That meant that good, common sense prevailed. It has been ironic to me that some of the folks that demand GMO food labeling show up at climate change rallies protesting that climate change skeptics don't accept science and they switch horses, ignoring science safety opposing GMOs. ...
Thankful for the end of political ads (11/05/14)
November is the month when we give thanks, and I think we can all agree we are thankful that the 2014 election has come to an end. It is not so much the election process itself which has caused us to be thankful it is over. Going to the polls or filling out an absentee ballot really isn't that much of an inconvenience. It's not like we do this multiple times a year either...
Playing like a (super) girl (11/03/14)
I love sports. And while as an athlete I was the one who "threw like a girl," I'm now the one in my house that is glued to the television on Saturday watching college football. I live for March Madness. And the Olympic Games are an excuse for three solid weeks of couch surfing...
Time to embrace the love (10/31/14)
As we make our move into November, I look forward to our annual turn toward a little more civility in general. The fact that the General Election is almost behind us is merely a coincidence in this equation -- or is it? But I digress. Traditionally, as we begin our march toward Thanksgiving and the Christmas season, our rhetoric and treatment of one another seems to lighten to a tone one might almost consider somewhat cheerful. ...
Scary amount of sports (10/31/14)
This past week leading into Halloween Weekend (I'll give the holiday a weekend. Some folks try to make it last a whole week. And we wonder why America has diabetes and heart failure. Week-long candy binges and people dressed like zombies. That's why.) might just be the most extensive week of sporting events ever to be scheduled across all levels...
CommStock Report (10/30/14)
I'm back from another trip to Brazil. Our group in Brazil traveled over 3,500 miles internally in the country looking over undeveloped farms in three states, Piaui, Tocantins and Mato Grosso. While they talk about having millions of undeveloped acres yet that can be converted to soy/grain production in Brazil, much of this land is not as good as what has already been developed. ...
It's your right, so vote (10/29/14)
Five days left until Election Day, the epitome of democracy. I won't tell you who I am going to vote for, and I won't tell you who I think you should vote for. All I ask is that you vote. Voting is a right, which I think, we take for granted in this country. In the U.S. today, voting is an automatic right we gain at 18. We don't think about all that went into securing those rights...
Bradlee a towering figure in journalism (10/27/14)
People have asked me, over the years, how I got involved in the newspaper business. My answer was always the same, "It started with Watergate." I age myself with that answer, but it's the truth. And journalists print the facts. I remember the headlines from the Des Moines Register and the Cedar Rapids Gazette. ...
Voters don't need newspaper's push (10/24/14)
Well, the table is set. The decision is now in the hands of the people. Point of fact -- it always has been. With polls open for early voting, the big day is less than two weeks away -- a day that could shift the landscape of the political leanings on both a state and national level. Ultimately it will be left to those who are governed, we the people, as it should be. So make sure when given the opportunity you have your say...
Randy's Review: 'Dumb and Dumber To' (11/20/14)
It's been 20 years since Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) entertained audiences with their over-the-top stupidity in the original "Dumb and Dumber." It's always hard to top a classic and that holds true in "Dumb and Dumber To," but that said there are several laugh-out-loud moments as these two lend themselves to brilliant delivery of deadpan lines and physical humor...
Randy's Review:'Interstellar' (11/13/14)
Matthew McConaughey dips his foot into the pool of science fiction in this space thriller, "Interstellar." Joined by Batman's extended family -- his butler Alfred (legendary actor Michael Caine), Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) and new Batman's brother (Casey Afleck), McConaughey plays Cooper, a former NASA pilot who now widowed, farms on earth in the future as it draws closer to losing its sustainability for life. ...
Randy's Review: 'John Wick' (10/30/14)
The second aggravated vigilante movie in the past few weeks, Keanu Reeves stars as "John Wick." When bad guys can't leave well enough alone, a dormant former hit-man, looking to move beyond his violent past, is pulled back into the fray -- a bad thing for the other guys...
Randy's Review: 'Fury' (10/23/14)
As a member of a tank crew in World War II Germany, your life expectancy wasn't the greatest. Apparently the German's had superior tanks in battle as well as anti-tank weaponry. The tank team of "Fury" defied the odds. Set during the final days of the battle in the European Theater, April 1945, the crew lead by Don "Wardaddy" Collier (Brad Pitt) are legendary in terms of their ability to make a stand and remain alive. ...
Randy's Review: 'The Judge' (10/16/14)
Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall, two of the greatest actors of their respective generations, pair in this tale of an estranged father and son -- with ties to the law -- brought back together by a death in the family and forced to confront issues that have left them hating one another...
Book Review: 'The Paris Winter' (11/20/14)
In turn-of-the-century Paris, women interested in learning the arts attend Lafond's Academie for painting lessons. Maud Heighton came to Paris -- and to the Academie -- in part because there was nowhere else a woman could go to art school and in part to break free of the small English town where she grew up. However, the expense of Paris catches up to her, and she soon takes a job with Christian Morel, as a companion to his sister, Sylvie...
Book Review:'Ugly Girls' (11/13/14)
Young adult fiction has compounded in popularity over the last several years, and not just by what was deemed as its "target audience." Adults are falling in love with these stories as much as their teenage children are, and they're seeing that young adult fiction isn't necessarily fiction with more juvenile themes and content, but simply stories that feature younger people...
Book Review: 'The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man' (10/30/14)
Until now, the only references to W. Bruce Cameron I had heard were in relation to dogs, between his novels "A Dog's Purpose," "A Dog's Journey" and "The Dogs of Christmas." Others may remember his self-improvement books "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" or "8 Simple Rules for Marrying My Daughter." None of these books, however, make me think of lighthearted thrillers set in northern Michigan...
Book Review: 'Gretel and the Dark' (10/23/14)
Lately, fairy tales have begun to fascinate me in the way they hadn't previously. Maybe it's all of the "Once Upon a Time" I've been watching recently, but I'm finding something magical in these tales (and I mean this with absolutely no pun intended)...
Book Review: 'The Human Body' (10/02/14)
What is perhaps the most interesting element of war is its complexity -- its effects on the body, on the mind and on the soul that differ from individual to individual. In contemporary literature the battleground is gaining popularity. Perhaps this is because war, battle and the military are so prevalent in contemporary culture, but I believe our fascination with war goes much farther than our need to understand our place on the historical timeline...
Music Review: 'Nick Jonas' (11/13/14)
In case you still pictured Nick Jonas as the squeaky-clean youngest boy band brother, prepare yourself. It doesn't take long into listening to the littlest Jonas' newest album to realize that he's all grown up. Of course, this is exactly the message he was going for...
Music Review: 'Montevallo' (10/30/14)
Try to wrap your mind around this: A college football star quarterback who studied philosophy releasing a country album. Sam Hunt, who played for both Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham before signing briefly with the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent, just released his debut album, "Montevallo."...
Music Review: 'No Sound Without Silence' (10/02/14)
What I can say about The Script's fourth studio album, "No Sound Without Silence," is this: If you like The Script, you'll like the album. If you're not really a fan, you won't find something in this record that you wouldn't find in their three previous releases...
Music Review: 'PTX Vol. III' (09/25/14)
One of the perks of this job is the chance to talk about musicians and artists I enjoy listening to, and sharing my thoughts and tastes with a larger audience. This is the situation at hand this week. I've enjoyed following Pentatonix since their competition on the third season of the NBC singing competition, "The Sing-Off." The five members of this group established themselves as an a cappella powerhouse with unique and often unbelievable covers of popular dance and other Top 40 songs...
Music Review: 'Bulletproof Picasso' (09/18/14)
I'm sure it's no coincidence that Train's seventh studio album, full of what could easily be considered their best work, is titled in a way to symbolize the resilience of artists. In typical Train sound, "Bulletproof Picasso" has several relatively high-energy pop tracks scattered here and there. ...