A tragedy in seven acts (5×8 – 12/2/10)

The life and death of Mike Larsen, a Concordia Christmas, what does the Internet know about you, TV ads that make a difference, and the date has been set for the Second Coming.


In a powerful story this morning, the University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Daily gives us the most intimate glimpse yet into the life of Michael Larsen, the gifted artist who died a few months ago at 28.

As Averill understands it, Larsen had trouble sleeping the last week of his life. Knowing that he needed sleep, he drank on Friday night and then took an opiate-based prescription drug, most likely a sleeping pill or painkiller. In the last few years of his life, Averill knew Larsen often took prescription drugs for depression or insomnia.

“Mike didn’t really do a lot of illegal drugs,” Averill said, “although they were illegal to him because they weren’t his prescriptions.”

But the article carries a more power lesson: Some of an artist’s worst enemies are his biggest fans:

But to some fans, Larsen’s artistic endeavors were such a far cry from his work as a rapper that reactions ranged from incredulity to outright hostility.

“I would get death threats and stuff thrown at me every day,” Larsen said.

During a Carbon Carousel show at Augsburg College, one fan hurled a golf ball at the stage, narrowly missing Larsen and cracking a window behind him.

“They were just so hurt and so confused … and it really hurt my feelings. I thought I was going to be able to deal with it but it was just too hard,” Larsen said. “I mean, it really, really, really depressed me for a real long time.”

“He once said to me ‘When people do this, it makes me not even want to rap,’ ” Chris Keller said.

Larsen also faced personal depression at this time.

His 14-year-old dog died. He suffered through a troubled long-term relationship. He moved out of his mom’s house for the first time, and his best friend, Max, relocated to Milwaukee.


The annual Concordia Christmas concert is as much about the huge murals as it is about the music. This year’s theme reflects moving on, the Fargo Forum reports. It’s the first concert since the death of the school’s president, Pamela Jolicoeur.

Here’s how last year’s mural was created:

“We felt Pam had been ripped away from us,” the school’s choir director says. “It was a wounded campus all summer.”

It was like that a few years ago, too, when David Hetland died. He was the man behind the murals.


Does it matter to you that some Web sites are hijacking your browser history? Researchers in San Diego have found that several hundred Web sites — most them porn, apparently — are using some malicious code to find out what you’ve been up to elsewhere, according to the BBC.

“Our study shows that popular Web 2.0 applications like mashups, aggregators, and sophisticated ad targeting are rife with different kinds of privacy-violating flows,” wrote the researchers.

They’ve set up this Web site to show you what information is being mined, though I haven’t been able to get it to work.


Ad Age Magazine has released its top 30 TV “freakiest” TV ads of 2010. It doesn’t seem right to call the #1 ad the “winner.”



The story I told you about two days ago — the one about the jeweler in Wisconsin who’s holding a Second Coming sale — is zipping along the Internet at a healthy clip. But when is the Second Coming? Billboards set up around Nashville have the date pegged, according to the Tennessean newspaper.

According to Camping’s prediction, the Rapture will happen exactly 7,000 years from the date that God first warned people about the flood. He said the flood happened in 4990 B.C., on what would have been May 21 in the modern calendar. God gave Noah one week of warning.

Since one day equals 1,000 years for God, that means there was a 7,000-year interval between the flood and rapture.

“We hope that anyone would get a Bible out and try and prove that this is wrong,” he said.

There’s your invitation.



Tight state finances appear likely to prompt efforts to build a new casino or create other gambling options for the Twin Cities area. Would you support an expansion of gambling in the Twin Cities?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Women are catching up to men in salary and spending power and making more major financial decisions. One expert says that if businesses don’t actively market to women, they’re leaving cash on the table.

Second hour: The Star Tribune announces the winner of its holiday cookie contest today. Food writer Rick Nelson shares the winning recipe.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, both gubernatorial candidates, discuss how the new Legislature and new governor should deal with the budget shortfall.

Second hour: World Bank president Robert Zoellick, speaking Wed at the U of M Humphrey Institute about the global economy. Former congressman Vin Weber moderated the discussion.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Mohamed Osman Mohamud was arrested last week, for allegedly plotting to blow up thousands of people in Portland, Oregon. Was it entrapment?

Second hour: The burden of being bullied.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – There’s a special group of people who make the songs that climb to the top of the charts.They find the beats, add the harmonies, write the lyrics, and they know how to influence young fans. NPR goes behind the scenes with the hitmakers.

MPR’s Tim Pugmire reports that state finance officials will release their latest forecast of the Minnesota’s financial situation today. Earlier estimates have projected the state could face a deficit totaling $5.8 billion during the next two year budget cycle. The new numbers will give the new GOP-controlled Legislature and the next governor a starting point to work on a budget.

As a cost saving measure, the U of M is shutting down all of its campuses during the holiday break. Thousands of employees will also take a mandatory three-day furlough. The U estimates it will save $18 million. Other colleges are making similar moves. Some are doing just the opposite. MPR’s Tim Post assesses the move.

Fisher House is a 10-bedroom shelter for relatives of military service members receiving treatment at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center. Like the Ronald McDonald House, family members stay there for free, and the shelter operates on donations. The shelter is always filled to capacity with a waiting list. Now, the VA is about to open another Fisher House next door in an effort to meet the demand for space. MPR’s Jess Mador will have the story.