If Elvis Presley were alive, he'd be 76 years old today. Instead, they say he died in 1977, barely into his 40s and missing a lot of years to play reunion tours and second-tier nightclubs and casinos. Now, not everyone accepts the death certificate. There are those who continue to believe the King is living today, lumberjacking in the woods of Wisconsin, catfish-farming along the river in Mississippi or skydiving over Las Vegas. I was one of the biggest Elvis fans you'll ever meet. What am I saying? I mean, I am one of the biggest Elvis fans you'll ever meet.
Being a political operative and being a fan of the Chicago Bears are a lot alike, when you think about it. In each case, one of the keys is making sure expectations are low enough to cause people to be astounded when you achieve a bit of success. Political operatives know if they rent a giant hall for a public meeting, with a tiled flood the size of the deck of an aircraft carrier, the rally will look like a flop if 80 people in folding chairs are scattered around the room.
Several years ago, another newspaper reporter remarked that then-Gov. George Mickelson liked to pound stakes into the ground to measure progress. The former governor didn't really pound stakes into the ground, but when he was looking ahead and gauging how far he had to go, he did like to look back now and then to see how far he had come. It occurred to me the other day that I sometimes do that with photographs. While making New Year's resolutions might help me see how far I need to travel to make my life better, the photographs are like stakes in the ground.
The Wounded Knee massacre happened 120 years ago today, a fact of South Dakota history that, for the life of me, I can't recall learning in school. I was pretty good with dates and places, but Dec. 29, 1890, had no significance for me until I was a grown man and five years into a career as a news reporter. I'm not saying the events of Wounded Knee went untaught. I'm just saying I can't remember learning them. I visited Wounded Knee in 1972 when I was sent to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation because of protests over the death of a man named Raymond Yellow Thunder.
There was a time when my son, Andy, and I could recite most of the significant lines of dialogue from the George C. Scott version of the television special "A Christmas Carol." One exchange that made us chuckle, although sadly, was when Ebenezer Scrooge, leaving his office on Christmas Eve, encounters Tiny Tim, who tells Scrooge, "I'm waiting for my father." "Well, then, you'll have a very long wait, won't you?" Scrooge mutters. Many, many actors have played Scrooge in one production or another, including at least one Muppet. I suppose it's a matter of personal preference, but George C.
A year ago at this time, the National Weather Service was tracking a massive snowstorm heading our way, the governor was advising Christmas travelers to get out of Dodge quickly or hole up for the holiday and I was preparing to work in the state's Emergency Operations Center. Anyone who experienced the Christmas Blizzard of 2009 remembers the terrible timing that brought snow and wind just ahead of Christmas Eve. It lasted all through Christmas Day and into the next morning. Those who decided to travel early generally made good decisions.
Many years ago, I read Jack London's short story "To Build a Fire." I can recall being impressed that a man lost his life simply because he was unable to keep a fire going when he needed it more than anything else in the world. The story, and several other tales by Jack London, created for me the idea that Alaska is a harsh, dangerous place. You might think that's no longer the case.
Brett Favre's streak of never missing a start in the National Football League came to an end this week at 297 consecutive games. In what certainly must be related news, the snow-piled roof of the Metrodome in the Twin Cities collapsed like a veteran quarterback after one too many sacks from behind. It can't be coincidence that the roof caved in when the quarterback missed work for the first time in something like 18 years.
When our daughter started ballet as a grade-school girl, the annual spring dance recitals were held in the Pierre City Auditorium, a rather drab place with a scarred wooden floor, plenty of metal folding chairs and no air conditioning. I played basketball in the place as a high-school senior back in 1962. Even then, the lighting at one end of the court seemed a bit dim. That wasn't a problem for the dance recitals. The Forney-Cronin recitals had stage lights, great music and many, many young dancers.
I've been walking to work in recent days, and the journeys along the sidewalk instead of out in the street with the vehicles remind me why walking now and then is such a good idea. This morning, for example, as I rounded the curve and crossed the bridge at the south end of Capitol Lake, a middle-school student scurried past. She was slender and not too tall, and when she passed, she smiled and said "Good Morning" so sweetly I had a smile of my own as I watched her hurry along the sidewalk, a backpack the size of Harding County bouncing against her thin shoulders.