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Oscar night for Minnesotans

ALSO: Addressing violent hotel porn; sex and the Legislature; remembering Darcy Pohland.

Who else watched the Oscars last night? It was a rather acataleptic mess of a show, wasting its two hosts and bewildering its audience with technical glitches and a protracted break dance number that Twitter user Francis Heaney dubbed the “Hurt Pop and Locker.” Heany wasn’t the only Twitter user dissecting this year’s Academy Award’s either — Minnesota resident and former “Mystery Science Theater 3000” cast member Bill Corbett tore into the thing (“Anna Kendrick: talented young actor. Will her career be hampered by lack of upper lip?”), while Minnesota resident Neil Gaiman actually tweeted a few times from the Academy Awards (“Also they play soft rock during Oscar commercials. Apparently Roxanne does not have to put on the red light tonight, good news for all of us.”

Minnesotans Joel and Ethan Coen were up for an award this year for original screenplay and didn’t win. Perhaps the people who decide on who wins the award were a little put of by their representation of Jewish life in St. Louis Park during the ’60s, which apparently involved tornadoes and divorces and Richard Kind weeping in a swimming pool. The fact of their nomination allowed another Minnesotan to appear in the Oscars, though — local comedian and college professor Ari Hoptman, who appeared in the film. Upon his surprise Oscar appearance, Hoptman wrote on his Facebook page “Ari Hoptman is glad to have appeared on TV for the first time without the disclaimer: ‘All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.'”

But, of course, there was yet another Minnesotan on hand. Specifically, Pete Docter, who wrote and directed Pixar’s “Up.” Docter took home a golden statuette last night for Best Animated Feature, offering a heartfelt speech about making flipbooks as a child in Bloomington. Colin Covert of the Star Tribune peeked in on Docter’s parents as they watched the award. “It’s odd to see him in a tuxedo,” Docter’s father told Covert, “because he’s usually in a T-shirt. That’s the animator’s uniform.”

So it was a good night for one sort of local film, but we might have some bad days ahead of us for another sort if Democratic Sen. Tarryl Clark of St. Cloud has her druthers. According to the Associated Press, she is sponsoring a bill that would prohibit state employees from staying at hotels that offer violent porn while traveling for work (non-violent porn would be OK.) There is disappointingly little further information about this, as it raises all sorts of questions, such as: How is Clark defining violent porn? Has there been an upsurge in the stuff? How will government employees know which hotels to avoid? Will somebody be responsible for checking into hotels, watching porn, and then rating them so that the state government can maintain an updated list of questionable hotels? Can that person also make sure the Jacuzzi is working properly? Is it possible for Daily Glean writers to apply for such a job?

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Of course, unless hotels also stop offering access to the Internet, employees are going to be able to access whatever porn they want, whenever they want. And, with Google’s promised ultra-high-speed broadband, they could access a lot of it, very quickly. Duluth Mayor Don Ness is so eager to get access to this broadband that he released a video jokingly claiming the city is willing to rename their children Google Fiber. City Pages has the video.

Our legislators are seeming a little sex-obsessed lately, or, at least, so charges state Sen. Mee Moua. Andy Birkey of the Minnesota Independent quotes Moua in discussing debate regarding same-sex marriage: According to Moua, lawmakers were “were so ‘fixated on the sex-making aspects’ that they missed the spirit of the bill.” Indeed, Birkey discusses a number of the witnesses brought to testify, and many of them discussed the details of homosexual lovemaking, rather than marriage. If the discussion had gotten any more intense, Sen. Clark would have had to propose a bill that Minnesota employees not be allowed to spend time at the Capitol.

Our lawmakers aren’t getting very good marks anyway. According to Polinaut’s Tom Scheck, in a recent poll the Minnesota Legislature managed to get a scant 25 percent approval rating. Pawlenty was somewhat more popular — 42 percent approved of his work. But, then, 63 percent thought he shouldn’t run for president, while only 28 percent thought it was a good idea, which isn’t a demonstration of a lot of confidence.

Nonetheless, Pawlenty and the Legislature managed to work together this past week, hammering out an agreement on the contested General Assistance Medical Care program. Jason Hoppin of the Pioneer Press gives the details: The program will continue, but some of the costs of treating the poor will be shifted to hospitals. The article notes that this cost might then be shifted to increased health insurance premiums. And that’s how you get people to pay for programs without actually taxing them to pay for it.

WCCO was met with tragedy on Friday when they received news that reporter Darcy Pohland had died — the station offered a briskly put-together and loving obituary to the reporter on its site. Soon, former and current WCCO staffers started turning in their memories of Pohland, including Don Shelby (“She had a special knack of empathy”), Jason DeRusha (“She had the biggest smile and the loudest laugh of anyone I’ve ever met”), Jeanette Trompeter (“The bottom line is, she is perhaps the most impressive person I have ever known”), and Tracy Perlman (“I would not be who I am, or where I am without Darcy”).

The thing most immediately noticeable about Pohland was her wheelchair — she had been paralyzed from the chest down after a diving accident in 1983 — but it was perhaps her least notable attribute, except in the sense that reporters in wheelchairs are uncommon. Perhaps her most defining feature was, instead, her passion for sports, which WCCO details; anybody who passes the Metrodome regularly would have seen her at some point or another, often bundled up against the frigid Minnesota weather (she was one of the few reporters locally who dressed appropriately for winter), reporting on the Vikings. Her love of sports is also detailed in a poignant obit penned by the Pioneer Press’ Molly Guthrey, quoting friend Mim Davey: “As a little girl, her father would take her to all the Gopher football games, so that’s where it all started. When we became friends, we went to the football games together; we’ve had season tickets for 25 years. She wore her father’s letter sweater to every game.”

So let’s move on to sports. There are three stories we at the Daily Glean would like to point you to, because they’re a bit novel. Firstly, the Associated Press offers the story of the Can-Am Crown dog sled race, which featured two Minnesota mushers, and we just don’t get to use the word musher nearly often enough when discussing sports. Next, WCCO’s Angela Davis looks into curling, which apparently has quite a history here in Minnesota. Finally, Mike Max of WCCO tells of sisters Ashley and Kristen Steenvorde, who are a double threat in a few ways: Firstly, both are proving to be talented swimmers at the University of Minnesota. Secondly, they’re identical twins.