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Friday, Dec. 19, 2014
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CommStock Report (12/19/14)
Badcorn.com is a website posted by the Onder Law Firm soliciting farmers to participate in a class action lawsuit against Syngenta for losses related to reduced corn prices resulting from the ban of U.S. corn and DDG imports by China. The Wall Street Journal says that 180 separate lawsuits have been filed by farmers. ...
Dance, dance (12/17/14)
Sunday, I had the privilege to take pictures at the Just For Kix Winter Show. You should be proud Spencer to boast such a large number of talented dancers. I can't dance. I attempt to dance, but it isn't anywhere near as graceful as the dancers I saw at the Spencer High School. I was honestly a little jealous. Dancing is something I always wanted to be good at doing, but I always fell short...
Holiday tradition makes spirits bright (12/15/14)
If you listened closely Sunday afternoon, you could have sworn you heard sleigh bells, as Santa arrived early for 80 area families. The Holiday Family Adoption program wrapped up its work for 2014 with the delivery of gifts to those in need of a helping hand this holiday season...
Royally touchy (12/12/14)
Well, the Hawkeye athletic department continued its recent stretch of doing whatever it can to turn its fans into hopeless alcoholics Friday night, losing to the Clones in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. But, it's far too early for me to start complaining about Iowa basketball (We'll save that column for the inevitable five-game losing streak right before the NCAA tournament.), so I'm going to focus on something that might be even more ridiculous...
The power of the spoken story (12/12/14)
I recently started listening to a podcast called "Serial." It's from the producers of "This American Life" -- maybe one of the most well-known podcasts out there -- and in the first season (12 episodes) it unpacks the conviction of a man named Adnan Syed in the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. It's a true-crime audio documentary...
Can't find your holiday spirit? Check a child's eyes (12/12/14)
They say the eyes are a gateway to the soul. I've found truth in that at times -- particularly at this time of year. Looking into someone's eyes, you can see whether the person is absorbing all there is to enjoy with the build up to the Christmas celebration. You can also see weariness in the eyes of those struggling to find joy for whatever reason...
CommStock Report (12/11/14)
A paradigm is defined by Dictionary.com as "a framework containing basic assumptions, ways of thinking and methodology that are commonly accepted." Ideas don't become paradigms overnight, as the fundamentals that form them require that they be hardened from repeated experiences over a considerable period of time. They don't even have to be real. Impressions or miss-impressions can become paradigms which serve as the reality...
Gift giving (12/10/14)
Today is exactly two weeks until Christmas. It is a holiday a majority of people look forward to all year long. We've made our lists and we're checking them twice hoping the big man in the red suit and our family and friends will give us every gift we hoped for this year. But let's take a step back and remember that Christmas is the holiday of giving not receiving...
After hours? Offline (12/08/14)
Been in a public place -- waiting for a concert to begin or taking a break from shopping -- and notice all the people with their heads down? Most likely, those folks are reading texts or checking their email on their smartphones. I'm guilty of it. In the doctor's office waiting room, before I work out, while waiting for a grande mocha latte, I'm checking my phone...
The full expression of faculties (12/08/14)
It's crazy to think that it's been two months already. Little Man is growing like a weed and I'm back at work, just in time for the holiday season. But I learned a few very important things about myself while on maternity leave. The first, no matter how much time I have in a day, the house will not get clean. ...
A paper anniversary (12/05/14)
As of Tuesday, I hit my first major milestone in the professional realm, wrapping up my first full year at the sports desk here in Spencer. The traditional gift (according to Hallmark.com...I do research.) for a one-year anniversary is paper which only seems appropriate, but it also says the modern gift is/are clocks. So, feel free to send me all of the green paper you want or a Rolex. I'll take either. You're welcome for simplifying your shopping list...
Use the season to send a message (12/05/14)
I had an interesting discussion with the group of ninth-grade Catechism students I teach weekly at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. As we begin Advent and draw closer to the annual celebration that is Christmas, we talked about the significant role played by Mary and Joseph and the overwhelming faith they both demonstrated by carrying out their individual responsibilities in the plan that lead to the birth of Christ...
CommStock Report (12/04/14)
The correlation between the strength of the U.S. dollar and commodity prices is as powerful as any, capable of producing an ag depression or a commodity price boom depending on the strength or weakness of our currency. The dollar index now trading near 88, set a high of 164.72 in February 1985 which was at the depth of the Ag depression. ...
Homemade (12/03/14)
Last week, the Christmas shopping season officially began. Everyone is looking for the perfect gift to buy and searching for the best deals. For others, who buy Christmas gifts throughout the year, it is their chance to check their lists twice and make sure everyone on it is accounted for...
The myth of the perfect tree (12/01/14)
The weekend after Thanksgiving is traditionally "deck the halls" time at the Buenger household. I have, I admit, a problem with Christmas decorations and, by "problem," I mean I have waaaayyyy too many of them. I imagine the decorating will be a lovely afternoon of setting up the tree, carefully unwrapping crystal ornaments and silver baubles from their protective cases, all with dulcet holiday melodies wafting through the air. ...
The horror in Ferguson (11/28/14)
Hidden up here in our cozy homes in northwest Iowa, it would be very easy to try and ignore and not feel the impact of the horror of what's going on a few hours south in Ferguson, Missouri. I, like many across the country, watched and waited as the city battened down in anticipation of a grand jury decision that did not please the angry masses when it came to the prosecution of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown...
They'll rip your heart out, kid (11/28/14)
Before I get into the endless pit of sadness that is this year's rendition of Farmageddon, I have to do a little bit of shameless self-promotion. I'm in a brand new band called HomeGrown, and we're playing at Haggy's in Royal tonight from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. We're talking classic rock, folk rock, some pop and a little bit of funk. It'll be a good time, and we'd appreciate the support...
Travel safe this Thanksgiving (11/24/14)
Packing up the car and heading over the river and through the woods this Thanksgiving? If so, you'll be in good company. The AAA auto club estimates 46.3 million of us will travel at east 50 miles from home during the Thanksgiving weekend. That's a 4.2 percent increase over last year and the highest traffic volume since 2007...
Be safe this Thanksgiving holiday by buckling up (11/24/14)
The Iowa Department of Public Safety's Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau and the law enforcement officers across our state wish everyone a safe Thanksgiving holiday. To ensure safety, please take the time to buckle up, slow down and drive defensively in your travels around the state...
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...
Randy's Review - 'Saving Christmas' (12/11/14)
Kirk Cameron's "Saving Christmas" made a brief appearance at theaters locally and despite my appreciation for Cameron's dedication to sharing his Christian faith, I'm glad the movie made a quick exit. Cameron's attempt to blend the Christian message of Christmas with the more secular celebration of the holiday -- and how they can both co-exist -- is admirable, but the movie itself which is more-or-less a Biblical history message connecting Christmas trees, nutcrackers, gifts and Santa Claus used in today's practices.. ...
Randy's Review: 'Horrible Bosses 2' (12/04/14)
They're baaaaack! Never thought we'd get a sequel to the comedy sensation "Horrible Bosses," but when there's money to be made, I guess the studio execs say, "Why not?" And they didn't go to wrong with that decision, although there's minimal boss conflict and far more sexual horror...
Randy's Review: 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 1' (11/27/14)
From the brutal killing games to a revolutionary war, "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 1" -- the first part of the two-part finale -- details the uprising against the the Capitol, evil President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and his imperialist reign of terror over the districts of Panem...
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. ...
The top 5 books of 2014 (12/19/14)
Typically, I'm a little wary of thrillers, but Janie Jenkins' sarcastic wit was hard to resist. In addition, I liked how Little incorporated social media and Internet sources into her story; it made it more believable, to the extent that it's more difficult to see this as a work of fiction...
Book Review: 'No Place to Fall' (12/11/14)
Amber Vaughn is stuck in her small Appalachian town, and she wants out. Her sister secured her fate several years ago when she got pregnant and married the deadbeat father of her baby. But Amber's fate is still open, and her voice may be her ticket out...
Book Review: 'Ted & I: A Brother's Memoir' (12/04/14)
Ted Hughes is best known for his poetry and for his relationship with Sylvia Plath. A Poet Laureate of England and a recipient of the Order of Merit, Hughes was honored among other poets including Keats, Shelley, Byron and Wordsworth after his passing. In "Ted & I," however, readers meet an entirely different Ted Hughes. This character is a loving brother, and he's brought to life through his brother Gerald...
Book Review: 'The Art of Asking' (11/27/14)
Few things are more terrifying than asking for help. And yet, as Amanda Palmer argues in her memoir and self-help book, "The Art of Asking," it is an incredibly essential act, for every part of our lives. Palmer began her career of asking as a living statue in Harvard Square. ...
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...
Music Review: 'Hozier' (12/11/14)
Hozier -- or Andrew Hozier-Byrne -- is responsible for what may be the best and most powerful song of the year, if not the decade. "Take Me To Church," the first track off his debut, self-titled album, is the most well-written, well-composed and well-produced song I've heard in years. When you hear someone say "they don't make music like they used to," you can point to this song as proof the potential still exists...
Music Review: 'Classics' (12/04/14)
It may seem like whatever quirky actor and singer Zooey Deschanel touches turns to gold. This can certainly be said for "Classics," the latest album released by She & Him, of which Deschanel is the "she." In "Classics," Deschanel and "him" -- M. Ward -- reinvent timeless musical numbers with their trademark style. ...
Music Review: 'Listen' (11/27/14)
French hip-hop DJ David Guetta reminds me of an electronic Carlos Santana -- his music is largely "instrumental," but includes voices from other established musical artists. Guetta's a master at his genre, and "Listen" is no exception. My favorites include "What I Did For Love," which features Emeli Sande, and "Goodbye Friend," which features The Script. Other songs feature artists including Nico and Vinz, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, John Legend, Sia, Ryan Tedder and Nicki Minaj...
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."...