Thursday, December 31, 2009

Soup's On! (we wish!)

by Heidi Holtan

I'm looking through the books on my desk today for January's book of the month choices (if you become a KAXE member at the 1$ day or $365 year level you get a book chosen by me every month) and I'm stuck on a book called "The Frugal Foodie Cookbook". I'm thinking of trying some of the recipes in here, they sound good!

Here's one I'd like to try:


2 Tbsp veg. oil
3 chicken breasts, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp yellow curry paste
1 " piece ginger, grated
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 cup shitake mushrooms, sliced
4 cups coconut milk
4 cups chicken stock
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sugar
4 oz rice noodles
1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
Bean sprouts for garnish

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add chicken; saute until browned, about 4 minutes. Stir in curry paste and ginger. Add carrots and mushrooms; continue to cook another 2 minutes. Stir in coconut milk, stock, lime juice, fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer; cook 15 minutes. Add noodles and broccoli; cook 5 more minutes, until noodles have softened. Ladle into bowls, top with bean sprouts, and serve hot.

What's your favorite soup recipe or soup you'd like to try?

Albums of the Year: a Macedelic Perspective

by Doug MacRostie

So I am doing things a little different for the Macedelic Music Awards this year (the REAL MMAs :p); instead of a separate list of of MN artists it's all one top 10 list. There is music that makes me happy, music that makes me for when you're mad, music for when you're glad... Of course, the list is in no particular order and while I am fortunate enough to host Centerstage MN on 91.7 KAXE, this list is my opinion alone and does not reflect the views, opinions or ideas of Northern Community Radio, KAXE or Centerstage MN. Without further ado, here are the 10 best CDs of 2009:

The Flaming Lips "Embryonic"
I think what I like so much about this CD is it's SO not-pop. Compared to some of the recent FL albums which used harmonies and melodies to help put their quirky tunes to mass-audience-ears, this album is almost all experimental and out there. The creativity and beyond-the-edge sonic craziness is refreshing, haunting, edgy and beautiful. This isn't about melodies and hooks, and I love it. And after finally catching the Flaming Lips live, I feel like I know Wayne Coyne on a personal level.

The Pines "Tremolo"
There is something perfect about this album; it has a sense of place (in the Midwest), it has textures and sounds and music that seems to be the ambiance to an intricate and delicate world. Or as I said before, "When you listen to The Pines new album "Tremolo," the guitars dance slowly and methodically as voices whisper in your ear and sounds and images drift around like a living, breathing creature surrounding you with reflections of the modern world on an aged mirror - combining emotion and storytelling into a beautiful and simple presentation that can sooth you one moment and take your breath away the next."

Regina Spektor "Far"
This album has one of my fav songs of the year on it thanks to Regina's crafty and intelligent songwriting - "The Calculation." Seriously, this album could have made my top 10 list just with this song. That's not to say the rest of the album isn't great - but the story of lovers realizing the emptiness of modern life and the lack of a soul in so much of what we do (and how they react) is top notch. "So we made the hard decision / and we each made an incision / past our muscles and our bones / saw our hearts were little stones / pulled them out they weren't beating / and we weren't even bleeding / as we lay them on the granite counter top...we beat up against each other / we struck them so hard, so hard, until they sparked..."

Dalia "Treetops and Telephone Wires"
I was most impressed when I saw Dalia perform with some of her friends at 10KLF and was really excited to listen her CD, and I was not dissapointed. Mixing elements of hip-hop, folk, world and acoustic music this CD is a collection of clever lyrics, beautiful melodies and harmonies, and heartfelt songs. Her voice is soft and clear - it feels like she is in the room singing the songs to you - perfectly personal and inspiring.

Brother Ali "Us"
I first heard about Brother Ali on All Things Considered when they introduced an albino, blind, muslin rapper from Minneapolis - my ears perked up... With an obvious understanding of minority struggles this album touches on some serious topics in a profound and moving way. From the brutal and honest story of kidnapped Africans shipped off to slavery in "The Travelers", the story of a rejected and abandoned youth finding voice and compassion in "Breaking Dawn" or any of the other heartfelt and emotional songs like "Tight Rope" which is my fav song of the year (that, or that Regina Spektor song...).

Mason Jennings "Blood of Man"
The darker edge of this album, both in sound and subject matter, was an instant draw to me. Mason is a profound songwriter who continually evolves and grows with his music and this sonic shift (all played and recorded himself) is the perfect raw sound for raw emotional vocals. Top song for me is "The Field" about a fallen U.S. soldier from the parents perspective. The feeling of pride as he grows up, and the change when he goes to war; "when your first letter came, it sounded nothing like you / It took all my strength, to keep myself from running to you...". This song can still bring tears to my eyes as the intensity rises and Mason's voice breaks as he sings, "I don't want no victory, I just want you back."

Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank "Traveling Show"
This is the only thing I pre-ordered all of 2009, and the T-shirt I got for it is one of my favs, hehe (but seriously - people notice a Hobo Nephews shirt in these parts!). Teague and Ian Alexy are two outstanding songwriters with new interpretations of traditional styles of music. They stroll passed established boundaries and it's that element of experimentation and evolution that attracts me to their music. That, and the wonderful mix of their unique voices and inventive roots music.

Imogen Heap "Ellipse"
What a voice! And, I don't know if I have heard an album that sounded more fun to put together - something in Imogen's voice makes me think she had the time of her life recording this album (whether that's true or not, I have no idea). It's hip, it's thoughtful and it's a little different than the norm - which are all good things. Highly produced, electro-infused pop songs with intelligent and engaging content; electronically embellished yet deeply personal.

Marcy Playground "Leaving Wonderland ... In a Fit of Rage"
I have enjoyed each of the MP albums, but this one really stands out to me. Singer, guitarist and songwriter John Wozniak has been through a lot since the last release and included a lot of personal and emotional stories - he might as well be naked on this cover of this CD it's so personal. I also love the way he dances around lines/ideas from his previous work and brings it into the new material; it's like the music has followed him full circle, but now includes a maturity and thoughtful eye that give the music new life and deep meaning.

Eminem "Relapse"
Sometimes I really like mad music - and few are better at that than Eminem. I was skeptical when I downloaded this album - how could Em surprise me anymore? Could he make me stop and say, "no way did he just say that...". But he did it! As usual, I had to listen to the album a couple times to get into the flow and it grew on me like a fungus. From Dr. Dre coming in to throw down on the creativity of marijuana to family violence and rape, Eminem once again tackles subjects most people wouldn't even talk about it. And yeah, the album definitely has some surprised...just listen to "Insane" if you don't believe me. I enjoy "Stay Wide Awake" too for many of the same reasons: "I'm crazy but that's alright with me, man life can be so empty / Stay away from me 'cause I'm dancing to quite a different drum beat..."

Honorable mentions: Tori Amos, Matt Ray, Two Many Banjos, Living on Earth (great radio show :p), Seawolf, The Decemberists, Jake Dilley and the Color Pharmacy, Escher Lennon (he rox!), Bruce Cockburn and Leonard Cohen (I didn't count live CDs this time), Mark Knopfler, Clawthroat (excellent live show), Eilen Jewell, Chris Cornell, A Fine Frenzy, Magic Castles, Elmo, the first season of The Muppet Show, the list could go on and on...these 'honorable mentions' are handy so I don't have to sit and argue with myself over the final couple spots of the top 10 list :p

Biggest dissapointment: "Death Magnetic" from Metallica. While it is WAY better than St. Anger because they've brought back guitar solos (especially considering that Kirk is one of the best out there, and the reason I first picked up a guitar), but now we need to get James to stop singing...

Most undecidable: Alice in Chains "Black Gives Way to Blue"

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Soul Thief, by Charles Baxter: Review

by Nathan Bergstedt

The Soul Thief, the latest book by Minneapolis based author, Charles Baxter, is at the same time a mystery novel and a post-modern piece of introspective literature. The story focuses on Nathaniel Mason, and his life as a graduate student and an instance 30 years later that brings him back to confront his past.

Unlike a true mystery/thriller, the story lacks much in situational propulsion, driving the story forward until you’re on the edge of your seat, dying to find out what happens next. But this is more than made up for with unique characters who, due to their contradictions to each other, keep the story flowing, as well as with Baxter’s distinctive writing style. This is not to say that there isn’t a fair amount of mystery, though. Has the elusive Jerome Coolberg successfully stolen Nathaniel’s identity? Is his life his own anymore? And why are seemingly random objects disappearing from his home, culminating to the point that all that’s left is a mattress and a single book of romantic poetry?

Much like Baxter’s other novels, the writing is filled with intriguing details, superbly painting each scene as one not just described, but one that’s been truly lived. Every page brings you closer to the characters and the things they see and feel. There is no such thing as a cookie cutter scene for Baxter. Even situations that seem mundane at first have their way of being completely defamiliarized by the end.

But what makes this book most interesting is how none of these mysteries are clear-cut. Even the question of who the book is titled after; who the soul thief is? is an open-ended question. Ultimately, the questions that can arise from this book are left with the reader after the last page. And they’re questions about self; who we are, and what is it that makes us who we are? Through the details, we can not only see what’s happening in the book, but can place ourselves there. How would we feel if we were in Nathaniel’s place? I recommending reading it and finding out for yourself.

The Soul Thief by Charles Baxter is published by Pantheon.

The Chain Letter of the Soul, by Bill Holm: Review

By Nathan Bergstedt

Minnesota poet, Bill Holm’s, latest book, The Chain Letter of the Soul, is like so many last books: a tribute to a life’s work. Holm passed away on February 25th, 2009, at the age of 65, but left behind a wealth of written art.

The Chain Letter of the Soul is a compilation of new and selected poems from previous books, such as Box Elder Bug Variations, The Dead Get By with Everything, and Playing the Black Piano. The writing in this book, though it’s called poetry, is of a clear prose style which allows one not only a gateway into his mind, but a piggy-back ride with him on his travels, be it to Iceland, China, or what it is he sees looking out the window of his home in Minnesota.

Some artists merely document & present a world image from their eyes, creating a dialogue on a topic simply by bringing it up. Holm is not afraid to take a stand and give his opinion on matters. He evokes powerful images of destruction due to industrialization of untouched wildernesses, and the tearing of one’s soul due to greed and a blind eye to injustice. Aesthetically, such poems have the tendency to feel preachy, especially if it’s a viewpoint you yourself don’t share.

Though arguably not a political poet, by lending poetic criticism of certain popular mindsets, he’s certainly a social poet. With a consciousness of the people and the world around him, he makes his observations. But at the same time he has an apparent jealously of, say, box elder bugs, or at least all things naturally content and at peace with the world.

But the most important thing about this book is its accessibility. Steadily over the past century, poems have been lumped into a classification of lofty ideals and obscure abstractions, which you need a Harvard education to begin to understand. Historically, though, poetry has been a people’s art, very often read by the fireside with the family before the invention of television or radio. Much of The Chain Letter of the Soul attempts to bring poetry back to the people, written in a language spoken simply and clearly, but still with ideas of importance and beauty. Perhaps Holm explains his style best, in his new poem “I Began the Day in My Sixty-Fifth Year.” “So I babble away to myself, always in crisp, parsable sentences, adorned with the sizable word hoard I’ve filed away from reading these thousands of books for well over half a century.”

This book is a tribute to him. But like any honest tribute, it isn’t written by a devotee gushing over him. The words are his own, as he unapologetically speaks for himself.

The Chain Letter of the Soul is published by Milkweed Editions.

Don't Mess With Texas

by Nathan Bergstedt

This state or political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.

That statement is the actual language used in a 2005 Texas Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Of course, the language used prior to this sentence was a bit more gay marriage specific, and this clause itself was supposed to be designed to make sure there were no slippery loopholes in which people could join in civil unions or domestic partnerships. Whew! Good to know that the people of Texas are willing to go the extra mile in order to preserve the tradition of marriage. Well, mission accomplished.

Funny thing is, and you don’t need me to tell you this, that that particular clause is quite clear that the state of Texas will not recognize any marriage. Let me repeat: This state or political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage. So what does that mean? Texas has figured out a way to ban marriage altogether.

As we speak, state legislators are furiously working to overturn the clause in the amendment. After all, in the historical context of the United States, the institution of marriage isn’t something that the people are just going to want to give up.

But let’s consider what else this clause means for a moment.

Texas has very effectively, at least for the time being, created true marriage equality statewide. GLBT rights activists have been working hard to get such equality by letting everyone have the opportunity to get married. Texas, on the other hand, has thrown back the veils of concept and introduced as all to an alternative: if some of us can’t, then none of us can. Sure, for those in the GLBT community who wish to marry, Texas still isn’t the place to go. But if your primary concern is equality to your fellow man, regardless of your sexual orientation, it seems there’s one place you can go where personal rights are square across the board.

Marriage itself as an institution is a little confusing anyway. A primary tenet of the founding of this nation was the freedom of religion, and the only way to effectively do that was to separate church and state, since the influence of a particular faith in the government could conflict with the interest of another church wishing to exercise their rights. With marriage, though, religious clergy have been given the legal power to join people in lifelong partnerships recognized and enforced by the state.

But as it relates to Texas, have they not also found a way to create greater religious freedom as well? The amendment doesn’t say people can’t be joined in marriage recognized by god. It just says it won’t be recognized by the state. Therefore any and all conflicts of interest in the realm of marriage between faith-based institutions and the government are effectively severed. All of these churches can marry whoever they want now. I mean, we wouldn’t want something like the government to get their sticky, secular fingers in the way of such a sacred ritual as the bonding to two people and all their property in holy matrimony before god himself.

Maybe they should reconsider fixing this little glitch, and call it a social experiment. A world without marriage? Preposterous! Or is it? On the topic of GLBT rights, it most certainly creates a legal equality amongst all citizens, and that’s very positive, not to mention ironic due to the original intention of the amendment. But if we’re all willing to make the sacrifice of no longer creating unions between individuals, of allowing succeeding generations to have their own families recognized by state and given due rights in accordance of those familial positions, then this could be the start of a brave new world in which government has less power over its people, and has people with little legal power regarding their families, with Texas leading the way.

You can hear the recording of this essay here.

Book Recommendations on Between You and Me this week

Who needs those fancy pants New York Times-ers and Stephen King to recommend the best books of the year? And anyway, who reads ONLY the most recent books?

When it comes to finding a good book, the year they were published doesn't usually hold a lot of weight.

There is a wealth of book information right in our own neighborhoods and this Saturday on Between You and Me we're asking you to call in and recommend a book to others. For some of us this is a hard task, choosing just one. Like KAXE member Margaret's her list of book recommendations:

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

One more book I found fascinating was The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

Two very long books by Ken Follett, not new and nothing I ever expected to like since they’re set in ancient times, but I loved both Pillars of the Earth and the sequel, World Without End.
What do you suggest?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Jeffrey Clarke + High Bongo + Brother Ali = Awesome

by Doug MacRostie

It's always good to keep an open mind - actually, it's necessary to keep an open mind - when presenting a true variety of music. No matter how much I want to listen to some loud screaming guitars or thumping beats, working at KAXE keeps my mind pried open and experiencing new things. Case and point: I normally wouldn't pick up a Country-Rock CD to jam out to in the car, and I would have missed the crafty and intelligent songwriting of Jeffrey Clarke. He'll be joining me in-studio this Thursday night at 6 on Centerstage MN to talk about his new CD "Feelin' Fine." From Chicago, with lots of time spent around Effie, Jeffrey started playing music at an early age as a drummer but switched to piano and guitar for songwriting and after years with rock and metal bands realized his songwriting and lifestyle were a better fit with country music. I should say, I'm NOT referring to dumbed down, pop-country b.s. - but actual songwriting with stories, messages and introspection that is often lacking in modern country music. Jeffrey will have his guitar along in the studio to perform some live music as we talk about his latest, and best-yet, CD.

I'm also really excited to have an exclusive debut of the new album from K.C. Johnson and Pat Downing called "High Bongo II." Furthering the sound of their debut release, it's a cross-style of folk and jazz with some elements of blues mixed in - all twisted together for a hip and exciting style of their own. The music is comfortably personal and whispers in your ear as the bass walks by, the guitar soars overhead and the sound consumes you. Pat plays upright bass and K.C. sings and plays guitar & hand drums. As with the first High Bongo CD, it's a mix of tastefully-arranged covers and beautiful written and arranged music by K.C. The album bleeds cool, sweats emotion and looks you right in the eyes. We'll be hearing a lot of it in the weeks (and years) to come on KAXE. These guys put the 'bong' in bongo...whatever that means, and are definitely the coolest cats in Grand Rapids.

While I'm not doing a "best of 2009" show, I will be announcing my pick for the best song out of MN - Brother Ali with "Tight Rope" from the album Us. This song is a masterpiece on an excellent album. The 3 verses sing about the life and strife of a Somalian refugee struggling in Minneapolis [Unwanted visitor in a different culture / Missing home and can’t go, they civil warring / Listen soldier, forget getting over / Prison sit around the corner / Homelessness even closer /], the inconsistencies and competition of a child with divorced parents [Gotta pick up the pieces and move on / Bedtime stories they read ‘em on the phone / Live in two houses and neither one is home / Wishing you were grown had the freedom to get gone /] and the pain and confusion of a young gay child in a traditional religious family [‘Cause their ain’t no flame that can blaze enough / To trump being hated for the way you love / And cry yourself to sleep and hate waking up / It’s a cold world y’all shame on us/ ]. I like music that approaches difficult topics, and not only did Brother Ali do that, but with such well crafted words the song makes my heart cry out for these kids as my eyes are opened to new/different perspectives. You can read the full lyrics, and hear the song at Hip Hop Linguistics.

Centerstage MN is Thursday evenings at 6, streaming live online at; or 91.7 Grand Rapids, 89.9 Brainerd and 105.3 Bemidji. All interviews are archived at and the show is rebroadcast Sunday mornings at 6.

Winter Bird Calls with John and Harry

John Latimer talked with Harry Hutchins about winter bird calls in our area during A Talk on the Wild Side. You can click here to listen to the entire conversation, or we have it broken into pieces below if you want to hear a certain bird. We also suggest if you're interested in either of the owls you listen to both pieces - the conversation sort of bleeds together from one to the other. If you'd like to download the bird calls and try playing them in your yard as Harry suggest, simply "right click" on the file you want and "Save link as," then choose where to save the file and click "save." You can get more nature and phenology news at The Phenology Page on

Pine Grosbeak
John and Harry Discussion

Pine Grosbeak Call

John and Harry Discussion

Crossbill Call

John and Harry Discussion

Waxwing Call

Great Horned Owl
John and Harry Discussion

Great Horned Owl Call

Barred Owl
John and Harry Discussion

Barred Owl Call

Full Conversation - if you would like to hear all of this as one full piece.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Gift For The Early Bird Guide

From the students in Ken Perry's Forest View Middle School Fly Fishing Club. They tie fly fishing lures and just sent this bugger to our Early Bird Guide, Jeff Sundin. The loop of yarn makes it an ornament for the Christmas tree.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Centerstage MN Christmas Eve

by Doug MacRostie

The fact that Centerstage MN this week falls on Christmas Eve is a big deal. Huge, really. And with a mix of non-traditional and semi-traditional Xmas tunes and an interview with Amy and Adams I've got enough holiday cheer to break an elephants ankle (oh snap!).

Amy and Adams new CD "Dancing Through Time" is their best yet as this husband and wife duo continue to evolve and grow musically. They write positive music (even when it's a negative topic) with a goal of helping spread good in the world. If that wasn't enough to justify a Christmas Eve interview, Mark also wrote a holiday song called "Got a Candle In My Window." With beautiful harmonies in songs like "Just Blowin' Round" and "I Keep Knocking" they've got a real good thing going here. My favorite track on the album is "Hippie at Heart" which expounds on the Woodstock Generation's loss of vision as they aged. I completely agree - with all the freedom, love and equality, saving the plant and saving humanity - things like taking care of the earth and the sick and the poor and the young... that 'everyone was doing' back in the 60's & 70's, I often wonder wth happened??? But, I'm under 30... Apparently, Mark has wondered the same thing and the song sings about the feeling back then that things WOULD change, that future generations wouldn't have to fight for clean water and food. Mark thinks it isn't too late to recapture that spirit of youth and use it as a powerful and lasting positive impact on the world. More power to 'em.

We'll also hear an original holiday tune from the Pitbull of Folk; Paul Metsa's "Christmas at Molly's" and a brand new song from Stacey K with POGMATONE called "On and On" from a new CD called Christmas Jam II, which is a compillation of MN artists being sold to raise money and awareness for MN food shelves. I'm not 100% sure that's an image of the album artwork...I've been having trouble finding an official website for the CD, but a lot of different places are talking about it...

We'll also hear Amy Marie, a wonderful pianist with Spiritwood Music by Ely. Her holiday CD is called "Simple Gifts" and she's joined by cellist Matt Turner and voilinist Randal Harrison. And the MN Music Gods will kill me on the spot if I don't play something off of Bob Dylan's new "Christmas in the Heart." Have you heard it? What do you think? There seem to be two camps; those who hate it, can't stand it and say the singing is aweful... AND those who say, "So?" and enjoy it anyway. I am in the "So?" camp, fyi - and if you weren't already disturbed enough by Dylan's Xmas album, check out the inside cover artwork on the right... classy, right?

Centerstage MN is Thursday evenings at 6, streaming live online at; or 91.7 Grand Rapids, 89.9 Brainerd and 105.3 Bemidji. All interviews are archived at and the show is rebroadcast Sunday mornings at 6.

Friday, December 18, 2009

What do YOU hope is under your tree?

Cuff links? Chia pet?

KAXE T-shirts?

We just got in our brand new t-shirts - 100% cotton, pre-shrunk...

the light blue is long sleeved sizes S-2XL price is $15

the green is short sleeved sizes S-2XL price is $10

Call or stop by to order your shirts!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My favorite books of 2009

by Heidi Holtan

It's way too hard to pick my favorite reads of the year but I will try my darndest. Deep breath. Here we go... in NO particular order, some of my favorite novels of the year:

31 Hours by Masha Hamilton - this makes you think about the people behind the crimes that we find unspeakable. It makes you think that they too have mothers and there is no black and white. Make sure you have an evening/afternoon free for this one, you'll need to read it in one sitting. Just ask my neighbor Randy.

Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani - I'm a sucker for ANYTHING this woman writes. I don't care about fancy high heeled shoes, I don't live in New York, I don't travel to Italy to study artisan craftsmanship but I do love my family and food and my work. And this character Valentine. She's stubborn, faithful and so imperfect that anyone would be drawn to her. MN tie: her mother grew up in Chisholm, MN.

Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley- Who knew that high school hockey could be so mysterious? It is set in the U.P of Michigan amidst a community obsessed with hockey who hasn't quite gotten over the championship that got away. When a journalist comes back to town to edit the newspaper he finds more than memories of his high school hockey career. MN tie: once my luggage was sent to Michigan instead of Minnesota. Does that count?

Remedies by Kate Ledger - this is the story of a physician who thinks he's discovered the cure for pain. He and his wife have been growing apart and the story delves into how there are times in our lives where we feel ENTITLED to break the rules. MN tie: Kate is a freelance writer from St. Paul.

Billie Standish was Here by Nancy Crocker - okay fine, this one is a young adult novel, but still, it counts. I'm a sucker for a book about friendship. Unlikely friendship at that, people of different generations who really change the course of another's life. Miss Lydia becomes the caretaker that 11 year old Billie Standish needs. MN tie: Nancy lives in Minneapolis

Rough Country by John Sandford - I'm one of the few who had never read one of his thrillers...
so it was a big deal to not only finally read one, but to interview him and meet him in person. This is a Virgil Flowers book and set in Grand Rapids, MN where a woman's body is found at a resort that has some secrets of its own to reveal. MN tie: Sandford is from St. Paul

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick - This one was chilling and surprising. Chilly in setting and tone in northern Wisconsin in the wintertime, and surprising in that the style of storytelling he uses made me think it would be a sweeping historical novel in the vein of Laura Ingalls Wilder all grown up. Holy man, it was gripping. MN tie: is northern Wisconsin close enough?

so many books! Here's some other notables from the year:

Heaven's Keep by William Kent Krueger
Missing Mark by Julie Kramer
The Yamas and the Niyamas by Deborah Adele
All Cakes Considered by Melissa Gray

I know I've left some out - what are your favorite books of the last year?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Terry Walsh Flips the Switch

This Thursday night at 6 on Centerstage MN we're joined by Terry Walsh of St. Dominic's Trio to talk about the new CD "Switch." Terry will bring along his guitar to play some live music, and he'll be joined by Rich Mattson of The Tisdales. Terry is also part of the Belfast Cowboys, a 9 piece Van Morrison tribute band from Minneapolis. Centerstage MN with Doug MacRostie is every Thursday night and Sunday morning at 6, showcasing the talents of MN Musicians.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Mr. Pumpkinhead Quarter Live & In-Person!!!

You’re invited to join us for a Christmas Jazz concert tonight, Thursday December 10th with the Mr. Pumpkinhead Quartet starting at 6. The Mr. Pumpkinhead Quartet is Sam Miltich on guitar, Pat Downing on Bass, Don Vidal on Saxaphone and Tim Wick on keyboards and they’ll be performing for an hour and a half on Centerstage MN. Call us for more info at 218-326-1234. This event is free, we'll pass-the-hat to pay the band. And if you're wondering how Don got the nickname "Mr. Pumpkinhead" all will be revealed tonight!!!

With four of the top musicians in the Midwest (and beyond) this is sure to be an evening of exceptional music, and if you can't make it here for all the fun, be sure to turn on your radio or internet stream and enjoy - this concert will be broadcast live on Centerstage MN, our program showcasing the talents of MN musicians.

There is also a cookie throw-down happening tonight, so come ready to enjoy some delicious & locally made Christmas cookies :D

Centerstage MN is Thursday evenings at 6, streaming live online at; or 91.7 Grand Rapids, 89.9 Brainerd and 105.3 Bemidji. All interviews are archived at and the show is rebroadcast Sunday mornings at 6.

There is no such thing as 100 percent safe ice.

A lot of us in the northland are planning to head out on the ice this weekend. Sure, it has been cold, and we have been making good ice, but you just can't be too careful when it comes to ice safety.

The DNR reminds us of these...

General ice thickness guidelines

ice thickness guide card

Printable PDF version

For New, Clear Ice Only

  • 2" or less - STAY OFF
  • 4" - Ice fishing or other activities on foot
  • 5" - Snowmobile or ATV
  • 8" - 12" - Car or small pickup
  • 12" - 15" - Medium truck

Remember that these thicknesses are merely guidelines for new, clear, solid ice. Many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe.

If you head out this weekend, let us know what kind of ice conditions you encounter.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Iraq, Pakistan & Grand Rapids

This week on RealGoodWords Jennie Shortridge and her new novel "When She Flew," the story of an Iraq vet who is raising his child in the wild and a policewoman that risks her reputation to help them. And Masha Hamilton and her new novel "31 Hours" about a 21 year old man who hasn't contacted his family in weeks - it is uncovered that he's been trained in Pakistan and converted to Islam to carry out a mission. Also an essay from local writer Nathan Bergstedt. RealGoodWords on KAXE - every Wednesday night from 6-7 with Heidi Holtan. Also heard Sunday mornings from 9-10.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Phenology for December 2009

by John Latimer

This time of year we turn our attention to the critters that don’t migrate or hibernate or if they do migrate they come here to spend the winter in balmy northern Minnesota. For some like the robins it is a gamble for if they do survive they have their pick of the territories in the spring. That is a big “if” however because they can easily get trapped and perish before they can travel far enough south to find food.
I heard of one intrepid robin that joined a flock of bohemian waxwings. The bohemian waxwings are an example of a species that migrates to the area to spend the winter. The robin and the waxwings survive the winter eating fruit and by joining this flock the robin markedly increased its ability to locate food.

Cardinals do not migrate. They are expanding their range ever farther north. The note from 1988 was the first I had seen in the area. Now there are regular sightings in the Grand Rapids area. In the spring and summer when they are singing they can be heard all along the Mississippi river in town. Many people have reported seeing them at their feeders throughout the year.
If a cardinal shows up at your feeder this winter it may stay. They prefer black oil sunflower seeds and a place to hide when they are not eating. A few balsam or spruce near the feeder will give them the shelter they seek. Cardinals often visit the feeder just around sunrise and again just before sunset. What they do the rest of the day remains a mystery.

Chickadees are year around residents wherever they are found. They are inquisitive and convivial guests at nearly all feeders. There is some evidence that some chickadees do migrate, though not always in a north south direction. Whatever the case there is almost always a flock near every feeder. These flocks assemble shortly after the young birds are fledged in mid-summer. They remain together on a territory throughout the winter. Often you can hear them when they contact another flock as much singing will occur. The territories tend to be 10 to 20 acres in size and are defended by the entire flock.
In late December and early January the dominant males will begin to sing a new song. It is a lovely two note “fee bee”. When you hear this it is a sign that the males are starting to choose a mate and the flock will be breaking up soon. Often two or more males within a flock will sing at the same time. This can signal a struggle for territory.
As breeding pairs chickadees require about a ten acre territory and the males are trying to see who will control the area. They seldom sing this fee bee song inside of ten yards of one another. Once they have closed to that range a much quieter battle ensues. The songs are different and may be accompanied by chases. Sometimes the birds will appear to stop the skirmish to feed a bit. The real struggle for territory occurs as they approach their nest building phase in April. In the meantime watch and listen as the chickadees surround us with their exuberant good cheer through the depths of winter.
John Latimer is well known throughout northern Minnesota for his phenology work. He appears weekly on KAXE radio in Grand Rapids, and audio and twitter archives are available here. His work is a frequent feature on MyMinnesotaWoods. This article also appeared in the Duluth Senior Reporter. It is printed with the author’s permission.
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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Volunteer opportunies for the Biathlon World Team Trials at Mt. Itasca

Amy Dettmer stopped by the Sports Page today and talked about a BIG event happening at Mt. Itasca this month.... the World Team Trials for Biathlon. They are looking for more volunteers!

Biathlon is an exciting sport where athletes ski a loop 2km-3.5 km and shoot 5 bullets between each loop skied. When a skier misses a shot, a penalty loop has to be skied. The races in December at Mt. Itasca are called the World Team Trials. There will be junior athletes trying to make the World Juniors team and senior athletes trying to make the Olympic team. There will be athletes from across the United States competing!

The jobs we need volunteers for are listed below with a short explanation of each. There will be an explanation of how to do each job at a prerace meeting.

> Puller After an athlete shoots the 5 bullets in the clip, the targets need to be reset. This requires pulling a cord to reset the targets.

> Primary scorer Each time an athlete shoots a bullet, the result needs to be recorded on a sheet of paper.

> Backup scorer Does the same as the primary scorer. It is called backup scorer because the results are looked at in comparison to the primary scorer.

> Course Control Stand at a fixed point on the course and mark on a sheet of paper the athlete's bib number as they pass by. Course control is done in groups of 2.

> Penalty loop For each shot an athlete misses they have to ski a penalty loop. Work in groups of two. One person calls the bib number and the other checks off on a sheet when they pass by.

> Timing This work is done inside a building. Duties include calling off and recording numbers as skiers approach the finish.

Every volunteer gets a t-shirt!!!

I'd like volunteers to report a half hour before the scheduled start for a pre race meeting. Plan on spending 3 hours for a volunteer session. For instance, if you choose a day when the race starts at 11am you should getthere at 10:30am. You will be finished around 1:30.

Saturday December 12 11am start 10:30am meeting at timing building in middle of the stadium

Sunday December 13 11am start 10:30am meeting at timing building

Saturday December 19 11am start 10:30am meeting at timing building

Sunday December 20 11am start 10:30am meeting at timing building

Tuesday December 22 10am start 9:30am meeting at timing building


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Now Hear This! Recent Audio Highlights from KAXE

Get more audio, video, photos and more at our website,

1836 Murder of Alfred Aitken
Barry Babcock, a local historian from LaPort about the murder of Alfred Aitken in 1836 and its impact. Click here for more stories on Our History.

Nichole Rohlfsen and Farming on Campus
Nichole, a senior at St. Olaf College talked about the work she is doing at an on-campus farm that produced food for students. Get more info on local food at the Local Food Report page.

Old Trees
On a Talk on the Wild Side, Harry gets sappy for old trees. Get more nature news and info at The Phenology Page.

You Had To Be There
You just wouldn't understand why "What? You didn't like the other one?" is so funny. Check out more on the Between You and Me page.

Family Lingo with Guido
Guido shares some of the phrases shared within his "notoriously large" family... Check out more on the Between You and Me page.

It Is What It Is
Lately, Aaron Brown has been repeated a certain frase. Check out more in Aaron's blog

What's for Breakfast with Dawn in Brainerd
We asked Dawn Stattine the most important question of all, "Martinis or gravy?" Hear more conversation with KAXE members on the What's For Breakfast page.

The Otter Spotters
"Otter Spotters: A Wildlife Adventure in Alaska" by Judy Swain Garshelis, she and her husband spent over a year in the remote near Prince William Sound in Alaska, studying the breeding and eating and general movements of sea otters.Check our more author interviews with Heidi Holtan on the RealGoodWords page.

Linger in Shadows
This is one of the best arguments to say that video games can be art...but what the hell is going on? Check out more video game reviews on the Binary Boys page.

Making History Meaningful
Author James Loewen on teaching history in a way that is exciting and relevant. Loewen is the author of "Lies My Teacher Told Me". This interview is based on his new book, "Teaching What Really Happened: How to Avoid the Tyranny of Textbooks and Get Students Excited About Doing History".