Weekly Columns
‘Thank you for lettin’ us do our thing’ PDF Print E-mail


By Gayle VanCooren, Mascot Editor

When you listen to music, do you feel the beat of it? The rhythm or cadence of a number?
There is a definite rhythm to each piece of music that we enjoy - whether it’s a rock number, those “oldies” that we love or music from our childhood.
My heartbeat got a real testing on September 24 when the “Buckets and Tap Shoes” performance took place in Marshall. This was the first in a series of concerts staged by the Marshall Area Fine Arts Council, and it was riveting.
Brothers Rick and Andy Ausland of Minneapolis have perfected what they like to do - play drums and tap dance - into a spectacular show that is full of energy and tones. Since 2004 these guys have been “wowing” crowds around the world.  
The Ausland men advanced to the stage carrying five gallon white buckets, old metal buckets, a couple bells and drum sticks. What ensued was about a ten-minute rhythm session that was so cool.


These guys began slowly and continually picked up the speed and various rhythms, beating on the buckets, on the floor, on the rims, while throwing their sticks in the air for entertainment value. And the smiles on their faces helped everyone to realize just how much they were enjoying themselves.
The buckets were pushed aside, and the curtains opened to find Chris “CJ” seated at a traditional trap set, Joe  Lightnin’ (Peterson) at the keyboard  and Dan Ristrom on bass guitar. The Ausland men then showed their expertise with tap shoes.
The energy these two men displayed made any normal person tired. They pushed each other to faster and faster rhythms, all the while smiling and giving the audience a wonderful performance.
During a short segment, the Prairie Dance Alliance and a Marshall drum line were featured along with the duo, as they had given “artist in residence” talks at the schools during the day. Those kids had fun with their new mentors.
Two hours of solid rhythm was just awesome. There was a bit of singing, but it was mostly the rhythm of drums and feet which was so unusual. One of the final numbers of the night was exactly geared to this presentation. The guys drummed and sang, “thank you for lettin’ us do our thing.”  
An unusual performance - yes. A good performance - definitely. Rick and Andy Ausland have taken their years of training in music, via playing drums and going to tap dance classes, a step further. They have made a career out of it, and people around the world are benefitting from their love of rhythm.

For more information on the Fine Arts series in Marshall, please go to www.mafac.net.

Hats off to the Minnesota Twins PDF Print E-mail


By Jon Guttormsson


For my column for the week, I had intentions of sharing with you good readers another one of my "interesting" experiences with a prescription drug that I take, but have decided to put it on "hold" for another time.
I’m sure that you good readers of this column can hardly wait, but you will have to.
This week, I’m going to use the space that Byron has so graciously allowed me to use to comment on the Minnesota Twins and the season that they have had.
By the way, and speaking of, or rather writing of, Byron, have many of you had the opportunity to meet him?
You couldn’t find a nicer guy, plus an excellent newspaper man. I’m absolutely delighted with what he has done so far with the Mascot, and am sure he will continue to do.
Byron loves Minneota and the surrounding area and all of the people that reside therein.
So — now we will continue with my original theme  — of the season that the Minnesota Twins have had. This column is being written on Sunday evening, after the Twins defeated Kansas City in four straight, and have tied the Detroit Tigers with an identical record at the end of the season.
There will be one playoff game Tuesday evening at the Metrodome, with winner "taking all" as well as the right, as winner of the division, to play the New York
Yankees. Bad deal.
Anyway, what I wanted to comment on was how much I enjoyed the season that the Twins have had, what an excellent manager that they have in Ron Gardenhire, how well he has handled all of his players, getting the maximum out of them and having the ability to place each player in situations that they are capable of handling.
It has been just a lot of fun watching them for the season. And what a season they have had!
Regardless of the outcome of the playoff game between the Twins and Tigers on Tuesday evening, what a "whale" of a season the Twins have given us!
"Hats off" to the Minnesota Twins!

Oh yeah, I forgot Jodi was from the Taunton area PDF Print E-mail


By Byron Higgin, Mascot Publisher

byronmugLast week I got an unexpected surprise email.
It reminded me of a special young lady from this area who turned the head of this old newspaperman.
Her name was Jodi McLain when I met her. She is now a teacher in the Siren, WI school system and is married to a Grantsburg, WI boy, John Richards. They have a baby daughter.
The email began, “I have been enjoying your additions to the paper.  My husband was raised in the area and has been a long time subscriber and we will continue.”
It went on to say,
“We live near Taunton and I still remember the day that I came home from work in Marshall and sat down at the kitchen table for a cup of coffee and some wind down time with the days mail.
“The weekly papers were laying there waiting to be read and I picked up the Mascot. While going over the headlines of the front page I noticed that the paper had been sold to this Byron Higgin.  
“Thinking this just had to be a different person than the one who's name I knew from Wisconsin!!  But no, it was the same person ... (now how does she know me you are asking)  Well, I am the mother of Jodi McLain who worked for you for a while.”
Immediately I remembered Jodi’s mom and I began to think about Jodi and her influence on the paper in Grantsburg.
Her mother wrote, “I remember the time the tornado went through Siren. I could not reach either of my girls who lived up there and was very concerned. I called the newspaper office and was lucky the call went through.  You answered and assured me that you had talked to Jodi and that she was OK. You have no idea how wonderful that was for a Mom from so far away to hear. My husband thought that we would have to buy new carpet from the pacing I was doing.”
I must tell you about Jodi.
The moment I interviewed her I knew I would hire her. She was heads and shoulders above the other three top candidates I’d interviewed.
Jodi went right to work and uncovered a huge story of work place incompetence that stands as one of the best journalist pieces done in Burnett County.
She also did a political piece on mis-use of political fund donations that turned heads during a vital election year.
So when Jodi’s mom brought this up, I had warm memories about Jodi.
Her mom went on to say, “It was a very proud moment for us to read the nice comments about our grandson Jon Anderson this past week in the paper.  While it is a very tense time for us when he is on those bulls, we are very proud of him.  He has a special talent not only in riding the bulls but also in handling horses.  He spent the summer breaking horses and has a talent for knowing how to work with them.”
So Jodi’s mom also has a connection to bullriding Jon Anderson. Wow!
Her final comment was:
“Welcome (back) to our corner of the state ... enjoy the special people and events.”
Rose Anderson (Mrs. Nils Anderson,
have to make sure that Grandpa is included too)

LAUGH A LITTLE: A soldier was given the job of hunting for buffalo.
To help him, he hired an Indian Scout. The two of them set off on their journey to find buffalo.
After riding awhile, the Indian gets off his horse, puts his ear to the ground and says "Humm, buffalo come".
The soldier scans the area with his binoculars, but sees nothing.
He is confused and says to the Indian, "I do not see anything, how do you know buffalo come"?
And the Indian replies, "ear sticky".

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: As my Ole Pappy used to say, “The journey is the reward.”
Ole Pappy knew what he was talking about. The longer we live in life, it seems the more we are rewarded for what happened in the past. Thanks Ole Pappy.

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise PDF Print E-mail


By Gayle Van Vooren, Mascot Editor

What do you do when you hear someone shouting SURPRISE at you?
Smile, look sheepish, have complete shock on your face? Probably all of these — and more.
Our (that’s Pete and me) oldest son, Brett,  was feted to an early 40th birthday bash and he was tricked by his friends, co-workers and family, and he is still in shock!
His comment to me of “Mom, I didn’t think you could keep a secret,” is still making me smile.
What is NOT making me smile is that I have a child that OLD. How could that have happened? I’m only 39, or something like that...in my mind.
Think about it, the  juniors on the 1986 Minneota  State Football championship team are now turning 40 years old.
And for most of them, those high school memories are still cherished.
My guys have tapes of all those games and the tapes come out occasionally.
We now have a good laugh over some of the missed plays (although there were few) and watch over and over the good passing of Chris Meidt and the strong receivers and runners that surrounded his efforts.
Those are great memories and I still think of all the hours on the sidelines, trying to get the story, talking to the players and coaches, and enjoying every minute of all that action.
But those guys are turning 40 this year!
It is heartwarming to know that many of the players are still good friends. They keep track of each other via e-mails and telephone calls and visit each other when schedules permit.

Occasions like Boxelder Bug Days help to bring these old friends together, and then the memories really fly.
What I’ve noticed is the embellishing that goes along with those memories. It just makes me laugh.
But the SURPRISE of last week was just priceless. After a week of being in our home going about his business and attending meetings in Marshall, our oldest couple headed back for their home in Minneapolis.
Little did our son know that he was about to be shocked with a party in his honor.
Thinking he was going out for an anniversary dinner with his wife, he entered the Polish restaurant where we were all gathered rather nonchalantly.
But when the yell from all gathered got his attention, he was truly shocked!
But hey, he had such a good time - maybe turning 40 isn’t so bad after all. It’s just a number and what really counts is the memories you’ve made along the way.
Brett would consider this a very good memory. His family sure does.

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