2009

The Year in Review

The best moments in a year that, quite frankly, could have been a lot worse.

2009 Year in Review

Michele Bachmann Moment

In a fiery speech to Colorado conservatives on the dangers of health care reform, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann called upon Republicans to “slit our wrists and become blood brothers” in the fight against President Obama’s nefarious health care bill. She neglected to warn them that, before slitting their wrists, they should check with their health care provider to make sure self-inflicted political wounds are covered.

Three Days in the Dome

Sunday, Oct. 4: The Twins beat Kansas City 13-4 to tie for the division lead, forcing a one-game playoff with Detroit.
Monday, Oct. 5: The Vikings played the Green Bay Packers, using the Pack’s old weapon, Brett Favre, against them to win handily 30-23.
Tuesday, Oct. 6: The Twins beat the Tigers 6-5 in a 12-inning, sudden-death thriller. Local sports fans rejoiced, then went to bed to get some much-needed rest.

Reason to Visit the Guthrie

Change” was the key to two of the Guthrie’s finest achievements of 2009: 1) the stellar production of Tony Kushner’s Caroline, Or Change during its springtime Kushner Celebration, and 2) the opening of chef Tim McKee’s new restaurant Sea Change, which replaced Cue in July. Here’s to more change in the future.

New Resident

In July, a sea creature reminiscent of the Loch Ness monster appeared on Lake Harriet, frightening . . . well, nobody. The beloved creature/sculpture, the work of New York sculptor Cameron Gainer, spent some sunny summer days in Lake Harriet before moving to Lake of the Isles. It has since been nicknamed “Minne” (pronounced Minnie), which rolls off the tongue a bit better than the original name Gainer gave it: “_[.”

Editorial by God 

On the afternoon of Aug. 19, a tornado touched down in Minneapolis, snapping Central Lutheran Church‘s steeple. At the time, members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America were in town to debate the wisdom of allowing gay ministers. Some bloggers were quick to conclude that the tornado was a clear message from the Almighty to “turn from the approval of sin” and vote “no” on the gay ministry issue. The tornado also blew out windows at the Electric Fetus record store and destroyed a bus shelter, presumably communicating God’s disapproval of contemporary music and public transportation.

News You can reUse

In September, former KARE 11 news anchor Rick Kupchella announced the creation of a new 21st-century news source/website—bringmethenews.com—that offers something called “high-level filtration.” More proof that the “news” will never die, it will just continue to migrate to the Web and be reported by . . . well, who knows really?

Fall from Grace

Denny Hecker: Went from advertising on the side of buses to riding the bus faster than you can say “credit default swap.”

Reason to Watch Golf

In the final round of the PGA Championship at Hazeltine, 37-year-old Korean golfer Y. E. Yang became the first person ever to beat Tiger Woods when His Greatness was leading going into the final round of a major. The last nine holes included Yang’s eagle chip-in from 60 feet on the 14th and, on the 18th hole, a 200-yard blind approach shot over a tree that landed 12 feet from the pin. For two hours that afternoon, golf was actually exciting.

Mathematical Drama

Back in November 2008, Norm Coleman thought he’d won his election contest over Al Franken by at least a few hundred votes. Franken challenged, and a recount put Franken ahead by 225 votes. Coleman challenged back and, seven months later, conceded the election to Franken, who won by an official margin of 312 votes. For a while there, it was almost like living in Florida.

Celebrity Wedding

In September, Lucinda Williams married former Best Buy executive and current tour manager Tom Overby at First Avenue. The nuptials featured a two-hour run through Williams’s critically acclaimed catalog, after which the wedding party took the stage. Williams’s father, poet Miller Williams, started the ceremony with a reading of “Caterpillar,” and the couple exchanged vows in front of a bona fide preacher. For an encore, Williams (with Overby on guitar) covered the Stones’ “Happy” and AC/DC’s “A Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock and Roll).” The bride, of course, wore black.

Use of Red

The giant cherry on Claes Oldenburg’s sculpture Spoonbridge and Cherry was repainted this year, restoring the crimson luster of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden’s iconic fruit. Now, about that spoon.

Cool New Stadium

The University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium finally brought Gopher football back where it belongs—on campus and, uh, outside. Opening day against the Air Force Academy was spectacular: 75 degrees and sunny. But that was September, of course. The rest of the games reminded us why indoor football in Minnesota once seemed like a good idea.

Use of a Paver

No road caused more complaints this summer than the gaping, tire-crunching terrain of Hennepin Avenue south of the Walker Art Center. But the road was resurfaced in late August as part of a program instigated by Mayor R. T. Rybak to help catch up on deferred maintenance of heavily traveled city streets. Thank you, mayor.

Journalistic Hail Mary

Minnpost.com editor Joel Kramer boldly asked readers of David Brauer’s popular blog, Braublog, to donate money to Brauer’s newsgathering efforts: $25 for “HighBrau” status, and $10 for “LowBrau” status. As of October, readers had ponied up more than $13,000—or about 20 percent of what an average reporter makes at the Star Tribune.

Work by an Unfortunately Named Team

A group of University of Minnesota School of Public Health graduate students known as “Team Diarrhea” was instrumental in tracking the source of salmonella outbreaks in peanuts earlier this year and tainted jalapeƱo peppers last year. Efforts to shorten the moniker to “Team D” haven’t stuck, mainly because the media keeps calling them “Team Diarrhea.” You know us media: When we get a good story, we run with it.

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