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The Vikings, Don Shelby and lawn gnomes

Brad Childress gets fired; Don Shelby retires; Tom Emmer gets no traction with the Supreme Court; Michele Bachmann isn’t sure what she’d cut; stink bugs and Egyptian gods invade Minnesota.

Usually we end Glean with sports, but when something like Brad Childress getting fired happens, it’s worth bumping up. And something like Brad Childress getting fired did happen. Something exactly like it. Specifically, coach Brad Childress got fired by the Vikings, as FOX9 reports. “What a difference a year makes,” the story says, and, jeez, how true. Are these the same Vikings that played the Saints in the conference championship game last season?

Tom Powers of the Pioneer Press gets Vikings owner Zygi Wilf’s response, sort of. “[W]hen he had to vary from the written notes in front of him, well, Zygi couldn’t ad lib a belch after downing a quart of ginger ale,” Powers writes. Powers never actually gives Wilf’s reasoning for firing Childress, perhaps because he didn’t need to: The Vikings are just awful now, and when a team is awful, you fire the coach. The PiPress offers a chart of Childress’ decline that is entertainingly blunt. For instance, Childress nearly came to blows with a player in November. “[P]layers say Harvin later is applauded by several teammates and even coaches for standing up to Childress,” the PiPress tells us. And then, the day before Childress is fired: “Vikings are embarrassed 31-3 by the Packers at the Metrodome.”

The high point of all this, however, was that jokesters were passing around the rumor that the Vikes were already considering a replacement for Childress: none other than WCCO’s venerable anchor, Don Shelby. Shelby retired Monday and offered a meditation on the past and the future of broadcast news for MPR, and seemed entirely sanguine about the rumors. “Can confirm only under consideration. Awaiting Wilf call,” he tweeted. We at The Glean will miss his mixture of the contemplative and the puckish. After all, how many other anchors pose for photos with an errant lawn gnome? You probably are getting ready to answer Diana Pierce, but that’s not a lawn gnome she’s next to — it’s Sven Sundgaard.

Tom Emmer and the MN-GOP’s petition to the Minnesota Supreme Court didn’t go especially well. It was a complicated petition, so we’ll let Eric Roper and Mike Kaszuba of the Star Tribune sum it up: “[E]lection officials should be required to reconcile the number of ballots and voter signatures.” The Supreme Court judges were openly skeptical of the case, and the various legal experts they interview describe the case alternately as a “Hail Mary” and an attempt to delay the process. So that’s it, right? You’re new to politics, aren’t you? According to Elizabeth Dunbar of Minnesota Public Radio, Emmer told MPR that the issue is still not resolved. And what issue is that? The possibility that there were more votes cast in the election than there were registered voters. And how does he know this? He doesn’t.

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But if there is one thing politicians are good at, it’s manufacturing problems and then presenting themselves as a solution. For instance, there are those who insist that we need to ID voters in the state to prevent voter fraud — heck, now that we think about it, Tom Emmer was behind an amendment that pushed exactly that. We’ll ignore the fact that voter fraud is statistically insignificant in Minnesota and instead point out a recent study that shows that voter ID would do nothing to prevent the rare instances of voter fraud in this state, detailed by MPR’s Tim Pugmire. As it turns out, every case of voter fraud was felons who tried to vote, and whether or not they had IDs is irrelevant — the state ID does not list whether or not somebody is a felon. Additionally, it seems in nearly every case, the felons were voting by accident — they just didn’t know they couldn’t, and, as a result, were not prosecuted. But don’t expect the call for voter IDs to go away any time soon. It’s useful to keep a whiff of scandal floating around, as though elections are regularly gamed, even when there is no evidence that this has occurred.

Another bugaboo: earmarks. They’re a problem, aren’t they? After all, a number of candidates rode into Washington like the cavalry, insisting they would save us from government overspending by eliminating earmarks. Our own Michele Bachmann was among them, although she has taken earmarks herself, and then tried to get the money she took redefined as something other than earmarks. Regardless, eliminating earmarks would slash spending, wouldn’t it? Well, not according to the AP, which points out that lawmakers have all sorts of tricks for getting at money, and, even if the ban worked, it would hardly effect our enormous deficit.

Speaking of Bachmann, she recently warned of a possible split in the Republican Party. According to MPR’s Rupa Shenoy, Bachmann told CNN’s “The Situation Room” that the Tea Party might break with the GOP over government spending, although she didn’t foresee them running their own presidential candidate.

CNN has a transcript of the complete interview, and, as Andy Birkey of Minnesota Independent points out, it’s interesting in part because Bachmann doesn’t really have many specifics for what she would cut from government. Wolf Blitzer repeatedly presses her on what she would trim, and she repeatedly offers generalities, until finally naming one specific: No Child Left Behind.

While politicians are arguing abstractions and inventing problems, there remain real problems in the real world For instance, stink bugs have arrived in Minnesota. For those of you not familiar, Tom Webb of the PiPress offers the details: They’re shield-shaped, they fly, and they smell bad.

Also, the jackal-headed Egyptian god Anubis is in St. Paul, and he’s 26 feet tall. Sure, he’s supposedly a statue, according to MinnPost’s Joe Kimball. But if there is one thing we at The Glean have learned from obsessively watching “Horror Incorporated” as children, it’s the the presence of the god of mummification and the afterlife that inevitably means undead Egyptian priests will soon be stalking the city looking for the reincarnated brides, and what are our politicians doing about that?

We’ll close with the arts today. LOL/OMG points out the the Twin Cities have been listed at the No. 7 spot on Songkick’s list of “most rocking” cities, which will come as no surprise to anyone who knows how seriously Twin Citians take their rocking. It’s impossible to walk down a city street without seeing someone just rocking out, man. Just rocking out.

Finally, it’s almost the holidays, and, for local arts organizations, that means one thing: an endless parade of holiday entertainment. TC Theater Connection looks into one of the more unusual offerings: a seemingly supervillain-themed Christmas show by popular local humorist Joseph Scrimshaw and “Mystery Science Theater 3000” and Rifftrax cast member Bill Corbett, himself an accomplished playwright. The show is called “Super Powered Revenge Christmas #1,” which might sound like a somewhat silly name for a show. But, then, “Nutcracker” is a bit silly too, if you think about it.