Monday, May 1, 2000

Cookie Cutter Column

My profession now pays me to pick my words carefully. That may be why my bank account has never been lower.

One of my earliest and therefore strongest beliefs is that the most effective way to change the world is through words. This particular personal belief unlike most of my others, is based on some semblance of rationality- my own world has most often been changed when I've read/experienced a powerful piece of art.

Of course changing the world is a matter of perspective. As I've learned this past year, events such as having your heart broken like never before, losing a job, losing a loved one, can turn one's world involuntarily upside down. But just as powerful a earth shattering catalyst are perceptions. And those particular insights are often altered by words, either spoken, sung or read.

A friend has made clear she doesn't believe, or at the very least doesn't think it should be important a goal of mine, that the purpose of my work should be to ultimately change the world. But it ain't exactly as if I'm trying for some lofty and out of reach ambition but more just trying to emulate those whose work has so inspired me.

Thus this past week there was some rather good news. Last fall a group I profiled for Pulse of the Twin Cities, rather impressed me with their witty and rather entertaining music. On Monday, this group, Tubby Esquire was awarded twice at the Minnesota Music Awards- once for "Best Polka Band," and once for "Best Polka Recording"- for their wonderful CD, Return of the Last Castrato! I sincerely thought the CD was one of the best I heard last year, and it was a rare CD that changed my life if only for a moment. The music is infectious, the writing inspired. It's the type of music that once I heard it I wanted everyone that matters to me to hear it- the joy in the music is something to be shared.

So impressed and enthusiastic was I toward this band's music that I wrote a gushing review- I identified the CD as a must hear. My friends and family were so taken by my words that all of one person actually heeded my advice and bought the CD. Oh well. That the band was properly honored last Monday truly meant a lot to me. What meant even more was that Harry Pulver- the accordion player/lead singer emailed me and thanked me for my review which he said "got the ball rolling." I may not have changed that large part of the world but at least some of what I wrote expanded and exposed this worthwhile band's music to a greater fan base.

Even more self patting on the back: My only other chance of changing the world is through my softball skills. Last Thursday my team had its first practice/scrimmage of the year. Going in I was dreadfully afraid that I would have a heart attack running out a ground ball. I didn't exactly stay in shape this past winter with a regimen of a lot of couch potato TV watching. I've noticed my pants feel a bit tighter this year than ever before. But surprise of surprise! I did pretty damn well at practice. My first at bat I stung a hard liner to left. My next at bat I burned the center fielder and ended up with a home run. In the field I made one of the better catches of my life. The batter hit a liner that was over my head. I raced back as quickly as my Mama Cass legs could carry me. At the last instant I stuck my glove out and snared the ball. One of my teammates called it a Jacque Jones like catch- the most complimentary thing he has ever said to me. I guess I'm just a natural born player- the type like Kent Hrbek that can roll out of bed and play the game.

All this aside my favorite moment of the week was while I was dutifully attending a press conference on the Capitol steps held by Rep. Steve Sviggum, the Speaker of the House. I was diligently taking notes when suddenly I was body checked from behind. Visions of flying into the second most powerful person in the state flashed through my mind. I swore there was a look of fear in his eyes. My reporter friend hit me harder than I think she intended.

And with my fertilized lawn looking as good as any in the immediate neighborhood I must say I'm rolling nothing but snake eyes these days. Oh yes I'm on quite the roll. Once I churn out that best selling novel deep inside I will be set for life. Who needs faith after all? Not this lil' guy.

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