Evel Dies

| Friday, November 30, 2007

Tom Osborne - Líder Máximo

| Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Omaha Weird Harold is reporting "Osborne is interim head coach"

Per the WH - "The 70-year-old interim athletic director appointed himself . . . as interim head coach."

Wow! Looks like a Hugo Chavez/Moammar Khadafi/Fidel Castro “Ruler for Life” career path for Don Thomás.

Word from Harvard on the Plains is Don Thomás will next name himself University President then place the gubernatorial crown on his own head over at that goofy “Penis on the Prairie” state capital building down there.

South Dakota National Guard troops are massing at the border. We’re expecting trouble.

“We should have shotguns for this kind of deal.” - Samuel L. Jackson, Pulp Fiction

| Wednesday, November 28, 2007

And shotguns we had. That's me above with Todd Epp and Todd's son Matt at the first annual SD Blogger's Hunt. The hunt was generously and graciously sponsored by Nick and Mary Jo Nemec.

People are wondering how such a diverse group of bloggers and commenters could coexist while armed. In fact, we all got along quite well as we walked and hunted together. “The bloggers hammered their keyboards into shotguns and their mice into shotgun shells. Blogger did not lift up keyboard against blogger . . . “ to paraphrase the Book of Isaiah.

The camarade continued over chili. Blogged barbs will resume and that's fine. But, what a great bunch to get together for a day in the fields.

The hunt is well covered at Blogmore, Take It Outside (here and here and here), South Dakota War College, SD Watch (here and here), and Dakota Today.

* Photo (and headline idea) courtesy Kevin Woster.


| Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Spectator
Jeremiah M. Murphy

The snow fell straight down that November night in Sioux Falls. Street lights’ glow reflected back from low clouds and falling snow to create a storybook scene. It was so peaceful, so quiet.

On one neighborhood street car tires made a soft sound as they rolled through a turn in the snow. But then, suddenly, those tires made a different, “shushing” sound as they slipped their earthly bonds and slid sideways. The sliding tires came to rest only when the front fender of the car I was driving collided softly but surely with a parked car.


Oh! That’s not good.

Sliding into another car is bad enough. But, worse, sixteen year old me was driving my parent’s car. A great car – a sky blue, 1969 Thunderbird.

I put the car in park and got out to check the damage.

I know I put the car in park. Fill me with truth serum, give me a polygraph exam. I tell you I put that car in park.

I went around to where my front fender was nudged against the rear fender of the parked car. I leaned in close for a better look. There it was - a dent in the Thunderbird.


But, leaning in, peering at that T-bird, I saw something else: I saw the passenger side mirror. Then I saw the door handle. Then the rear fender rolled past.

The rear fender rolled past. The car was rolling downhill. THE CAR WAS ROLLING DOWNHILL!

And it rolled. It rolled diagonally down the street, jumped a curb, and caromed off a tree. It cut the corner and rolled off a curb, crossed a street, and up another curb . . .

And me? I ran after the car. Arms flailing, running haplessly in a pair of slick-soled cowboy boots through the new snow. The boys in Capa City would have laughed to see a Sioux Falls kid wearing cowboy boots.

At some point I got the driver’s door open. But still, the car rolled and I ran.

Finally, as the car rolled toward the front of a quiet house at the foot of the hill, I dove in and jammed the brake pedal down with my hands.

There I was – my legs out the car door and the front bumper of the car buried in an evergreen bush in front of someone’s picture window. Happily, the living room behind the picture window was dark.

I lay there for a moment to catch my breath.

Then I straightened myself around and backed the car off the lawn. I parked the car on the level. I put the car in park. I put on the emergency brake. I braced the tires with a set of commercial airliner wheel chocks.

I retraced my steps. I went to the house where the car I hit was parked. Turned out that car belonged to a guest at a party there. So I got to tell my tale to a whole roomful of folks – great. They got a kick out of the story.

I knocked on the door of the house of the tree the car had hit. “You what? I’m sorry, I’m not sure what you’re talking about.” said the poor, confused woman who answered that door.

I called my Dad and told him what had happened.

The next morning, Sunday, Mom and Dad and my brother and sister and I went out to the car to go to Mass. When my sister saw the big dent in the car from its bankshot off the tree, she said what any little sister must say at such a moment: “WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CAR?!!?!!”

“Great,” I thought, “here it comes.”

But, before the Inquisition could continue, Dad chuckled and said “I kissed a tree with the car last night. Let’s go. Chop, chop!”

How about that – “I kissed a tree with the car last night.”

True story.

That was one of the things for which I was thankful in 1974.

I’m still thankful for the assist my Dad gave me that Sunday morning. I’m pretty sure he’s thankful I don’t chase his car down snowy streets anymore.

(Originally published in the November 18th, 2007 Rapid City Journal)

Staying in focus can be tough for a storyteller


The Spectator
Jeremiah M. Murphy

The photographer Lee Friedlander once said, about taking pictures: "I only wanted Uncle Vern standing by his new car (a Hudson) on a clear day. I got him and the car. I also got a bit of Aunt Mary's laundry, and Beau Jack, the dog, peeing on a fence, and a row of potted tuberous begonias on the porch and 78 trees and a million pebbles in the driveway and more. It's a generous medium, photography.”

Isn’t that terrific? Reads like a Ted Kooser poem. Beats my other choices to get the ball rolling for a photography column - “Take a picture, it lasts longer!” or “A picture’s worth a thousand words.” Ugh.

But, once I picked a topic and found a quote to get things started, this story went another direction. I couldn’t stay focused on the topic of photography. I kept trying to come up with interesting photography stories to put behind that starter quote but my attention kept drifting.

Friday night, after I had locked in to this photography column notion, I was at a high school football game and ran into a friend of mine. He had, in a roundabout way, recommended the mineral baths at the Stroppel Hotel and Spa in Midland to me and I thanked him for the tip.

Kaia and I and our two youngest kids - Chloe and Dylan, stopped at the Stroppel mineral baths on our way back from Brookings a few weeks ago. It was great! The price was reasonable, the water was really refreshing, and the folks who run the joint were very nice.

Anyway, trading notes on the Midland mineral baths got my friend talking about another small town with another thermal spring – Capa, SD. Long ago Capa had mineral baths. Turns out that area is lousy with geothermal resources.

My friend told me that Capa, located on the Bad River Road between Pierre and Midland, was once called “Capa City”.

The story is, Capa was a jerkwater town. That is, it was equipped with a wooden water tank and served as a watering stop for trains. A train would pull in and the fireman would pull the tank’s spout over the boiler and yank the cord that let water out of the tank – he’d “jerk water” for the train.

As the story goes, the volume of the water tank in Capa was stenciled on the side of the tank. It said “CAPACITY . . . “. Well, you get the picture.

The Tuesday after that Friday football game I was at a volleyball game waiting in line at the concession truck parked outside the gym. Several girls came by with jackets that said “Scotties”. For some reason it registered with me that Scotties is the mascot for Philip High School. But I wasn’t sure, so I checked with a friend who would know. “Indeed”, he said, “The Scotties are named after “Scotty” Philip, the Buffalo King.”

The “Buffalo King” - I love that kind of stuff!

James “Scotty” Philip is credited as the man who saved the buffalo. Philip was a Scottish born miner, teamster, messenger, cowboy, and freight hauler who finally settled into ranching. Philip ranched along the Bad River – the river that gave its name to the road on which Capa is located. See how this thing is panning out?

Philip bought a fledgling herd of bison at a time when the species was just about done for and grew that to nearly 1,000 head at the time of his death. That herd provided the basis for the herd in Custer State Park and for other large herds that thrive to this day. Thus Philip (after whom the town is named) is credited with saving the buffalo.

So, like Friedlander who got so much more than he wanted with his camera, I got lucky.

I only wanted to tell a story about taking pictures. But I got a quote about photography that is poetic in its phrasing, a bit of a story about a town named after a word on a water tank, and I learned about the Buffalo King. It’s a generous medium, writing.

Next time I go to Pierre I’m taking the Bad River Road. I’ll take my camera. I might get some good pictures. Maybe do a column about photography.

(Originally published in the October 16th, 2007 Rapid City Journal)

Try music to soothe the savage parent.


The Spectator
Jeremiah M. Murphy

“It’s a bunch of kids kicking a ball around.”

I try to keep that in mind when I watch my kids play organized sports. It helps keep things in perspective.

I’m not a great fan of organizing sports for kids. I think I understand why organized sports have swept away sandlot games. But I also think the organization of so many kid’s games creates problems - problems like parents on the sidelines.

Take soccer for example –

I was at a boy’s soccer game at Sioux Park one fine autumn afternoon when a parent went ballistic over a remarkably inept call by the referee. The parent hollered at the ref in a voice so loud it was heard by people eating lunch across town at Tally’s. This knucklehead went off like a bomb. I understand he apologized to the coach and to team members (including his own son) for his outburst. Rumor has it he even gave his kid a prized t-shirt to make amends for his gaffe.

Parents can really mess up the simple pleasures of a bunch of kids kicking a ball around.

Some parents coach from the sidelines. “Move up!” “Move back!” “Move to the left!” “To the right!” “Don’t mark that guy!” “Mark that guy!” Paaass!” “Shooot!” This drives (actual) coaches and players nuts. I don’t coach from the sidelines. This isn’t due to virtue but to ignorance - I don’t know anything about soccer.

Some parents goad opposing players. You’ll hear parents at soccer games yell stuff like this: “Don’t stoop to their level boys!” Nice huh? I’ve used that one. My wife Kaia hates that. Hate’s it. That’s because she’s a good person who is kind to others.

Some parents heckle refs - “Hang in there kids – you can beat all twelve of ‘em!” This one is a guilty pleasure of mine. I shouldn’t yell this, but I do. It’s a stealth taunt - am I picking on the ref or am I innumerate? I’ve yelled this at soccer games and gotten a neat double-take from parents and refs. “Hey, wait a sec, did he mean . . . ?”

But don’t despair. If you’re a parent like me, there is help for you.

I discovered the solution to my bad sidelines behavior at a soccer tournament in Boulder. It was a tournament for sixteen and seventeen year olds so the play was physical and emotions ran high. For the first couple games I was goading opposing fans, players, and the refs for all I was worth. Opposing fans were giving as well as they were getting. Some of us parents were doing our best to suck the fun right out of the deal.

Then, to pass the time between the second and third games of the weekend, I listened to music through the earphones of my MP3 player. When the third game started, and with the music still playing, I realized something – this was nice! It’s fun to watch kids play soccer. But it’s a gas to watch kids play soccer with a soundtrack.

BB King and Gary Moore were playing “The Thrill is Gone” as I had this epiphany. It was a great combination – soothing music laid over soccer. Better yet, I couldn’t hear taunts from opposing fans so I wasn’t tempted to respond. Bonus!

If you want to add music to your soccer experience the trick is to find tunes that synch with the speed of play.

A song like “Last Night” by the Mar-keys is a great compliment to a soccer game. “Sack O’ Woe” (I like the George Benson version) works well. “Express Yourself” by Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band or “As the Years Go Passing By” by Boz Scaggs with Booker T and the MGs are great for soccer. “Neighborhood” by Tift Merritt is good. “Yeah, yeah” by Georgie Fame and the Famous Flames is terrific.

Be careful though, punch up something hot like “You Can’t Stop Progress” by Clutch or “Money” by the Sonics and you’ll only make things worse. Your pulse and blood pressure will ascend to dangerous levels and you’ll be tempted to throw yourself right into the middle of the game.

You get the picture. If you find yourself at a kid’s soccer game, plug in the tunes and leave the game to the kids. Because I’ll tell you, if I’d been listening to “Loan Me A Dime” by Boz Scaggs or “Corrina, Corrina” by Bob Dylan that fine autumn day at Sioux Park, I wouldn’t have had to apologize to all those people. And I’d still have that t-shirt.

I really miss that t-shirt.

(Originally published in the September 16th, 2007 Rapid City Journal)

The payoffs of parenting worth the wait


The Spectator
Jeremiah M. Murphy

Kevin Woster asked me to write a monthly column for the Journal about, among other things, parenting. I thought “What I know about parenting would fit on the back of a matchbook cover.”

Remember matchbooks? Lighters? Cigarettes? Do they make that stuff any more?.

Everyone carried matches not so long ago. They needed a good supply of matches because they had so much smoking to do – at schools, hospitals, athletic events, offices, restaurants. People smoked everywhere. That’s the way it seemed anyway.

No more. That’s changed.

Four years ago I saw how much it has changed. I was sitting in the bleachers at St. Thomas More High School with our son Hunter. Hunter, the oldest Murphy kid, was a freshman at STM. He and I were attending orientation with other parents and students.

Hunter did not suffer my presence well. He’d reached that point in life where the presence of his parents had become a burden.

We listened attentively (OK, I may have dozed at points – it was August in a crowded high school gym for crying in the night.) as administrators and teachers explained the rules and procedures and expectations for high school students.

One thing stands out about that assembly - I vividly remember Principal Sullivan’s diatribe against gum chewing. He was a regular Carrie Nation on the subject. He elevated gum-chewing to the level of Deadly Sin - right there between greed and lust.

I expected the gum chewing sermon to be followed by a smoking lecture. That was a highlight of any discussion of the rules in my high school days – “No Smoking!” It was a rule that got a lot of attention because it was often broken. My high school had a whole routine for smokers. Get caught smoking in school and you paid a fine and your parents got a letter. Get caught again, pay a bigger fine, another letter to your parents. And so on.

“Here it comes,” I thought, “the smoking lecture”. But, remarkably, nothing.

Finally, as the principal fired one more shot across the bow of the gum chewers, I leaned over to Hunter and I stage whispered “What about smoking? Is it OK to smoke in school?”

“Dad! Shhh!”

“I’m going to ask Sullivan. What’s the drill here; do I raise my hand or what?”

“Dad, seriously, knock it off!”

“Well then you ask him.” I whispered “Ask him if it’s OK to chew gum if you’re doing it to break a smoking habit.”

“Dad . . .”

“No, no, wait! Ask him if it’s OK to smoke if you’re trying to break a gum-chewing habit. C’mon!”


I gave up. Clearly I was torturing the poor kid. I had drawn unwanted attention to him. Worse, I had blown his cover. It was apparent to people near us that he had a parent and his parent was talking to him and that . . . aargh!!

So, that day, I learned that, in the 27 years since I was in high school, the smoking habits of teenagers had changed while my proclivity to play the class clown in a high school assembly had not changed at all.

That was almost four years ago.

This past May, four school years after that freshman orientation, Hunter stood at the front of an STM assembly. The Bishop, administrators, teachers, parents, students, family and friends had gathered for the graduation of the STM Class of 2007. Hunter spoke to us.

He had changed. He still didn’t want his Dad to draw goofy attention to him, but he was proud to draw the best kind of attention to himself. He spoke as his class representative with conviction and intelligence. He spoke with wit and with passion.

Earlier in that graduation assembly he got up from his seat and walked back to Kaia and me. He gave his Mom a flower and a hug and gave me a big handshake. He’d changed from the fourteen year old who wanted to show no public connection with his parents to an eighteen year old who was happy to acknowledge us.

So I know this about parenting – it pays dividends. The changes above and many other changes in Hunter have been my privilege to experience as a parent.

I’m looking forward to the changes to come.

(Originally published in the August 19th, 2007 Rapid City Journal)