It’s not that bad if there isn't any wind. One below is just like five below. In fact you’re prefer five below. You can brag a little about five below. One below is just a stone in your shoe, but five sounds like broken glass. Without wind, it’s all theoretical. Wind gives the weather personality – a malevolent, sneering character. You can see it like a Disney image from the 30s – yes, yes, cue the remarks about how the cartoons have come to define our consciousness, and we are incapable of supplying our own ideas because Evil Lord Walt jammed our head full of anthropomorphized weather, and we’re programmed to view the world through copyrighted images. Whatever. Even someone who’s never seen a Disney cartoon imagines the baleful face, icicles hanging on its nose, cheeks puffed up, swooping left to right.

I called up the cartoon in which I thought I’d seen this image; wasn’t there. It’s the “Grasshopper and the Ants” Silly Symphony, which was the cause of some controversy a few years ago. I was listening to a talk show; the caller noted with indignant disdain that he’d shown his child the Disney “Grasshopper and the Ants” cartoon, and the Grasshopper was taken in by the Ants at the end, which was SOCIALISM. The Grasshopper did not PAY, and he needed to pay.

Googling around, I see that everyone’s taken a swipe at the parable, and turned it to their own end, with tiresome results. But the Disney version didn’t show the Grasshopper getting off without consequence; he had his entire worldview reversed. In the summer he scratched out a tune on his fiddle, singing “Ohhhh the world owes me a livin’.” By the end he’s singing a different sentiment: “I owe the world a livin.’” I don’t think this means he is obligated to surrender his property to the collective, either; don’t make me bring out the Chastening Stare of the Perry Head. It means he owes it to society to make his own way.

I called the radio show and made that point, and then when it was over I thought: why did I do that? There is nothing so anticlimactic as the conclusion of a call to a talk radio show. You feel like you’re along for the ride, but at the end you feel like you threw a suitcase onto a slow-moving train. From the platform.

Anyway, it was cold. Went to the office and did the TV “anchor” job, covering the live feed of the Never-ending Election’s recount certification board. Great fun. My co-host D. J. Tice did the heavy lifting with the Actual Meaning of everything; I set things up and put them down and made occasional injections of Appropriate Levity, and got us out when it was time to quit.

Drove home in rush-hour traffic, and there’s a first. I have avoided normal business hours most of my career, except for DC. Five-thirty has never meant quitting time; no sliding down the dinosaur’s tail. There isn’t any quitting time. There isn’t any punch-clock. I owe the world a living! It was murder going home – the traffic plus the snow meant three cars got through every light, and sometimes traffic would be snarled back to Milwaukee because some idiot who wanted to cross the busiest street in town decided not to wait, and just bullied his way from one side to the other.  The opposite of the path of least resistance is the sociopath of most resistance. Was late picking Natalie up from her after-school date; tripped on the stairs on the way up to the house, and saw the iPhone shoot out of my pocket into the snow. Whereupon it uttered a Twitter-tweet sound. Help me! (132 characters left)

Then dinner, late, and this, later. Now I have to iron a shirt. Tomorrow I will wear my Orchestra Hall MC suit, stung as I was by a comment from local TV anchorman who dubbed our appearance “two old white guys dressed in bad suits.” He was being waggish, and later noted he was kidding, but I understand; I naturally seek out young guys in good suits, those attributes being your general guarantee of insight and quality. He said, gently, with collegial joshing and all that. But it was a cheap suit; I didn’t want to go Full Opera-House Dress, because we’re a newspaper, and a certain amount of implied rumpledness seemed apt.


Today’s Minneapolis update is the old Ritz hotel, which, like most of the other hostels on the site, should have been saved. Perhaps even more so – it was sacrificed to urban renewal, ripped down in the enlightened raze ‘n’ pave mania of the time. Ten pages with old photos and postcard. As with the other hotel sites, it’s better than the old version by a factor of 10X.

A brief preview of its decline:

Broadcast starts up at 8:55 AM at – see the box on the left, and if we’re not featured at the moment, click the politics tab. See you there!