Dispatches from Outland
A little song. A little dance. A little seltzer down your pants. Copyright © 2003 Roy M. Jacobsen.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003  

Toys For Tots Department: Now this is a cool idea. Chief Wiggles is stationed in Iraq, and he'd like donations of toys for Iraqi kids. Check out the details on his blog.

Update: Here's a snippet from the post that kind of got this whole thing started. The chief is describing an encounter with a poor Iraqi child:

As I made my way back over to the front gate, I saw the little girl and her mother waiting patiently anticipating my return, not knowing why I had asked them to wait. Bending down I handed her the items one by one, as I explained what each item was, to insure she knew what I was giving her, especially as I gave her the toothbrush, asking her to be sure to brush everyday.

Her eyes lit up with such joy as I put the monkey arms over her head. She was so excited to receive everything, being somewhat shy though, not having dealt with an American before. She was so precious as her big brown eyes looked up at me, causing me to almost breakdown into tears as I walked away quickly so as to not bring too much attention to the little girl from the on looking crowd.

What a moment! In my own little way, I am influencing and affecting the attitudes of Iraqis one person at a time, taking baby steps, one experience at a time. My sphere of influence is small in comparison to the task at hand, but who knows what the ripple affect will be of my small effort to calm the tears of one sweet little girl. Thanks to my team mates back home who made this moment possible by sending me the toys to hand out to Iraqi children. I have only one request of them and others please send me more toys.
I know how the chief feels. A few years back, I participated in Operation Carelift, going to Moscow to distribute school supplies and other relief items to schools and orphanages. You can't imagine what it's like to visit one of those orphanages and hand one of those kids a package full of gifts.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 1:37 PM

Face The Blogosphere Department: There's an interview meme going around among bloggers, and Dave King of IdeaJoy fame is interviewing me. (Dave's questions are in italics, my answers in regular type.) Dave has selected a theme for this interview; see if you can figure out what it is.

Dave King: Fargo best known for the movie of the same name. Is that a good thing?

Well, it's sort of like having your nose hair grow in ringlets: it's a talking point. Shortly after the movie came out, I was in Seattle with a couple of co-workers for a conference. We were squeezing in some sighseeing at Pike Place Market, and we overheard a couple of people talking about the movie, so introduced ourselves as being from Fargo. It can be an interesting conversation starter, but that happens less frequently now.

On the other hand, it's sort of like having your nose hair grow in ringlets. Very few of us actually talk like that, we don't live on a frozen tundra, the story was very loosely based on a true story (nobody was killed; the "conspiracy," such as it was fell apart very quickly because the conspirators were even more inept than in the movie), and besides all of that, very little of the story actually took place in Fargo!

DK: What's the best thing about Fargo?

Wide open spaces. I'm a couple of hours away from Minnesota's pine forests, less than an hour away from the lakes, half a day away from the Badlands, and minutes away from open farmland. You can see the sunset and the sunrise. Summer days are long. We have four very definite seasons, and I love seeing the prairie in all of them.

DK: What's the worst thing about Fargo?

Some might say it's the winters, but that isn't it for me; I love winter, even the blizzards.

I'm having a hard time with the "worst thing" thing, because it varies depending on my mood. Last year I would have said "road construction" because there was nowhere in town you could go without having to deal with it. Right now, I'd most likely say "Midwestern 'niceness' that keeps people from dealing with conflict in a constructive manner," because of some life issues.

DK: What do you call someone from Fargo?

Well, I don't call them this, but the term I've heard others use is "Fargoan." (A bit dorky, innit?) I'm much more likely to say "Fargo native" or "Fargo resident." Not as catchy as "New Yorker" but there it is.

DK: Are you a native son of Fargo?

Nope. I've lived here for half of my life, but I grew up on a farm near the very small North Dakota community of Luverne. (Town Motto: "Don't blink!") How small was it? I tell people that I graduated in the top ten of my high school class. There were eleven of us.

It's been a bit of a rough stretch for Luverne, and for significant pieces of my childhood. The church I grew up attending burned down about a year ago (although they've rebuilt), and they tore down the school, which hadn't been used for about 20 years.

By the way, here's how this interview thing works:
1. If you want to participate, leave a comment saying "interview me."
2. I will respond by asking you five questions - each person's will be different.
3. You will update your journal or blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 11:32 AM

Tuesday, September 23, 2003  

Shocking News Department: This is a sad day for sleuths everywhere, and a serious blow to the cause of justice. Leroy "Encyclopedia" Brown has been murdered.

IDAVILLE, FL—Police are currently investigating the death of police detective Leroy "Encyclopedia" Brown, 49, whose body was discovered in a Dumpster behind the Idaville Public Library Monday.

Detective Brown's death is a great loss," said Idaville Police Commissioner Rupert "Bugs" Meany, a longtime critic of Brown's unorthodox investigative technique who nevertheless appeared to be shaken by the murder. "Thanks to him, Idaville has the highest arrest-to-conviction-due-to-obscure-trivia rate in the nation. I believe I speak for everyone in Idaville when I say that Encyclopedia Brown was truly the greatest sleuth in sneakers."
I only hope that someone will be able to bring the killer to justice.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 3:53 PM

Telling It Like It Is Department: Just got a note from my brother on the Ten Commandments monument that was removed from the Alabama Supreme Court building.

The Ten Commandments display was removed from the Alabama Supreme Court building. There was a good reason for the move. You can't post Thou Shalt Not Steal in a building full of lawyers and politicians without creating a hostile work environment.

There's also that "Bearing False Witness" thing .....

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 10:16 AM

Monday, September 22, 2003  

Another Way Of Looking At It Department: Steven Waldman looks at the ongoing controversy surrounding Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion, and comes up with a different answer to the question "Who killed Jesus?"

The complexity of that debate notwithstanding, it is clear that the Crucifixion and Resurrection are central to the faith. While the Crucifixion in itself wasn't a good thing, it was, according to much Christian doctrine, an entirely necessary and pre-ordained thing. Without it, Christianity as we know it wouldn't exist.

So, really the answer to the question "Who killed Jesus?" should be: Who cares? Theologically, the answer is irrelevant, which means Christians can stop blaming Jews and Jews can stop being defensive. And people of both faiths can get back to disagreeing about more important things like whether you get more presents at Hanukkah or Christmas.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 4:34 PM

The Soul Of Wit Department: Some of Jesus' less-well-known parables have been published by the gang over at the Ship of Fools. One of the shorter ones is:

There once was a man who was travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho. He knew that one road was known for having robbers and bandits on it, so he went another much safer way.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 4:19 PM
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