Five at 8 – 8/3/09

I start writing 5@8 around 5:30 a.m. I noticed something this morning. It’s pretty dark now at 5:30 in the morning. Memo to self: Change the oil in the snow blower. Soon.

I’m back from vacation. The nice shoes feel like my feet are being bound. The tie feels like a noose. The cubicle walls appear to be moving closer.

I need a Monday Morning Rouser:

1) Why do we often remember things more fondly than we experienced them? The New York Times “Happy Days” blog ruminates on our pursuit of happiness in real time:

Perhaps the reason we so often experience happiness only in hindsight, and that chasing it is such a fool’s errand, is that happiness isn’t a goal in itself but is only an aftereffect. It’s the consequence of having lived in the way that we’re supposed to — by which I don’t mean ethically correctly so much as just consciously, fully engaged in the business of living. In this respect it resembles averted vision, a phenomena familiar to backyard astronomers whereby, in order to pick out a very faint star, you have to let your gaze drift casually to the space just next to it; if you look directly at it, it vanishes.

2) Why make a documentary about a Camaroonian drag queen? Emily Branham’s post on No Map No Guide No Limits is more than a profile about BeBe Zahara Benet, a Twin Cities drag queen, it’s about the pursuit of passion.

Next thing she knew, she was dancing backup at a regional drag pageant at the Gay 90s in Minneapolis. Having never been exposed much to the world of drag, I was completely taken by the heightened gender performance, layered identities, and pageantry. I decided that I would make some time away from my freelance music video and commercial gigs in New York to shoot BeBe’s experience at his first national pageant down in Dallas. When we started, I thought it would probably end up as a short film, and I went in with very few expectations. I met so many incredible performers with such varied and interesting stories during our first month of shooting that at one point I wanted the film to be about the whole community of drag artists in the Twin Cities.

3) Sunday was the ritual weeding of the failed vegetable garden, during which I came up with an idea for a new News Cut series. “Failed compost bins.” I’ve done everything the book says: A combination of browns and greens, regular turning, moisture, sun. After months — OK, I’ll admit it: years — I have ended up with mere older browns and greens.


Stop your snickering St. Olaf.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to contribute to “failed compost bins,” send your pictures to me at

4) There are dumber things in the world, I suppose (paying people to buy a car comes to mind). A woman in New York who can’t get a job is suing her college to get the $70,000 back that she paid for a degree in information technology. The ticking time bomb of student loans is about to go off.

5) Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s approval ratings shot up six points in the last month, Eric Ostermeier at Smart Politics reports today. The trouble with polls, however, is we don’t really know why. Nothing much has changed in recent months. The state is an economic basket case and more people are unemployed here. Perhaps people don’t believe times are so tough, perhaps they blame the DFL, or perhaps they’ve just shrugged their shoulders and pressed on.

Did someone says unemployed? MPR’s Mark Zdechlik reports the economic stimulus plan in Minnesota isn’t going to put that many people back to work.


Amazon recently released a new version of its Kindle book reader, a device that allows users to buy and read books, newspapers and other publications in electronic form. Would you trade your books for an electronic version?


In a few hours I’ll be rolling out the update to one of the strangest stories in Minnesota history: The drunk pilots who flew 91 Northwest Airlines passengers from Fargo to Minneapolis in 1990.

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – President Obama has lost public support for his health care reform bill, while the political battle on Capitol Hill has heated up. Midmorning gets at the heart of what is ailing Americans about our health care system. Second hour: Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady talk about their partnership in Hot Tuna.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – Former Vikings great Randall McDaniel will be in the studio to talk about his upcoming induction into the Football Hall of Fame and his work the past several years as an elementary school teacher. Second hour: Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather, speaking in Aspen Colorado about the future of the news media. He called for a “federal bailout” of the media.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – The University of Minnesota has put a policy in place to deal with drunken troublemakers at the college’s new on-campus stadium. If a student is kicked out of the stadium for being drunk and disorderly, the rest of the season they’re required to take a breathalyzer test before each game to prove they’re sober. MPR’s Tim Post reports it’s based on a model in use at the University of Wisconsin.

NPR’s Christopher Joyce asks a question that should’ve been asked months ago: Is it really “green” to buy a hybrid car?

  • Nick

    When is Christopher Joyce’s segment going to be on?