I’m from Wisconsin and proud of it. After all it is the greatest of the United States. You Minnesotans give me a lot of crap, and understandably so: Minnesota and Wisconsin are two very different places. Even though we share a border, we are separated by much more than just the Mississippi River and football excellence.
I went home last weekend for the first time in months with my roommate (Packer tickets baby!) and while we were there we noticed many differences between the two states. On the ride back, we started getting nostalgic for the all the things we were going to miss from the Badger State. That being said, without further ado, here are the top ten major differences between Minnesota and Wisconsin
10. Friday fish fries. I remembered this as soon as I got home. From Superior to Milwaukee, La Crosse to Green Bay, everyone fish fries on Friday. Not just during Lent mind you, when Minnesotans restrict their fish intact; we do it year round. American Legions are always rocking on Friday’s in Wisconsin, serving some of the best fish, fries and coleslaw around.
9. The scenery. I-90 runs all the way from Albert Lea to Milwaukee. I get on it at Rochester whenever I head home for Wisconsin. From then to the Mississippi River, there is nothing to look at. Occasionally a farmer will switch his corn for beans, but for the most part it is field after field, with hardly anything pretty to look at. Crossing the river is like going from black and white to color in the Wizard of Oz, there are more trees, valleys, rivers and cities on the drive. In other words, you are much less bored out of your mind.
8. Brutal honesty. Everyone knows about Minnesota Nice, and those of you who don’t believe it’s a real thing are in denial. There’s a reason you are the Gopher State, when confrontation comes, Minnesotan’s aren’t going to face their foe head on. Gophers avoid confrontation, and the result causes Bill Murray to blow up a golf course. Badger on the other hand, are vicious, in your face little devils, that will let you know exactly how you feel. And frankly it’s refreshing.
7. The lingo. You don’t drink from a water fountain; you throw your coins to charity in one. You drink from a bubbler. And who makes a tater tot “hot dish”. It’s a tater tot casserole. And came someone please explain to me who in there right minds came up with Duck, Duck, Grey Duck. You do realize 99% of the rest of the world call it Duck, Duck, Goose.
6. Wisconsin fishing. You can keep your 10,000 lakes; Wisconsin has you by about 5,000 anyways. They are also much less crowded, since most people think that Minnesota has more places to fish. I’m not the biggest fisher, but many of my friends growing up took up the sport year round. Short of Canada, it’s the best fishing spot in the north,
5. Real Wisconsin Cheese. No offense to any dairy farmers, but your stuff ain’t cutting it. There’s a reason fancy restaurants advertise our cheddar on their menus, its hands down the best. On the ride across the state last weekend, I counted no less than a dozen billboards advertising for “Cheese”. And we had to stop at the one that said, “…Cheese, Fudge and Wine.”
4. The wind. It is so windy in Minnesota, especially in Mankato. That’s what happens when the states immediately West of you are 500 mile stretches of barren wasteland. The wind makes winter days 10 degrees colder, and can be downright annoying. Luckily, Wisconsin has Minnesota to take the brunt of the wind. We get to enjoy nice cool breezes instead watching your garbage cans fly across the street.
3. Everyone relaxes on Sunday…for the Packers. Seriously, when the Packers are on TV, everyone is watching the game. It’s ridiculous. Drive around any town in Wisconsin from noon to 3 pm on the day of a Packer game; its post-apocalypticly eerie, no one is out and about. I understand that Minnesotan’s care more for than hockey than football, but it still doesn’t match our intensity. Case in point: my own grandmother once cursed me out for 5 minutes because I called and wished her a happy birthday, during the 4th quarter of a Packer game. I still give her crap for it.
2. Grilling out. We are crazy about firing up some meat on the grill. Obviously when you think Wisconsin, nice juicy brats come to mind, but who wouldn’t mind a tasty burger, steak, venison, or chicken. Wisconsin sporting events have the best tailgate atmosphere by far, in large part due to the food. It can be a blistering hot 90 degree day, or a teeth chattering 10 below; we’re still going to grill baby grill.
1. We share less of a border with Iowa. Enough said.
I've been an intern at Radio Mankato since May, and though I've had a lot of fun, sometimes things can get a little stressful. I don't know how many times I've told Stunt Monkey (my boss) that I want to shoot him. Well last Thursday Stunt finally followed through on my request: the Hot 96.7 staff and interns went paintballing at Tommyguns in New UIm.
Of the ten of us who attended, there were 5 staff members and 5 interns. We picked our sides immediately, determined to figure out who is the better shot: paychecks or poor college students. Any one who had animosity would finally be able to unload it in a safe environment, in the form of automatic weapons and co2 cartridges.
The first two matches took place in a field littered with fences, bales, and other hiding places. As we waited for the whistle to start the rampage, I could hear Stunt shouting insults from across the field. Unfortunately for him, he shoots his mouth better than his gun.
As soon as the match started, Intern Sam and myself took off at a full sprint while the ladies gave us covering fire. A few minutes in, I caught Johnny a few times in the stomach, while Sam took out our web designer Jeff. Feeling the momentum on our side, I channeled my inner Rambo, taking out Ty James, Stunt Monkey and Office Gossip Beth. My neck shot on Stunt was particularly satisfying. All of the interns kept their clothes clean during the first match.
We easily won our second match on the field, before heading to the woods. You can see some of the highlights from that match here. The woods were a much different story.
Getting hit in the head hurts. Getting shot in the head with a paintball sucks. Getting shot in the head twice in a row inches apart is downright terrible. Take my word for it. The interns were no matches in the woods, as the staff absolutely destroyed us, picking us off one by one before laying down a firing squad on Megan and Jenn, our last two interns "alive".
For those of you keeping score, that is two wins for the interns, and two for the staff. Nearing the end of our day, we decided to play a little capture the flag on the smallest field available. In a normal paintball match, if you get hit, you are out and have to stand off on the sideline until everyone else is eliminated. In capture the flag, you can be shot as many times as needed, sending you back to the start each time you get hit. I'm not an expert, but I'm fairly sure this is what the third layer of hell feels like.
The first game of capture the flag was a slaughter. A few interns were too afraid to move on the small course, and the few who did kept getting picked off. Ty James managed to sneak up behind me, shooting me four times at close range, leaving matching welts on both of my butt cheeks. Needless to say mercy wasn't in our vocabulary that day.
The second game went better for us, but not smoother. Both teams were holding each other’s positions, and no one was able to get to the flag without being pelted with a barrage of paint. I tried to be a sneaky as possible, crawling on my stomach a good 20 yards to put myself in position to snag the flag. As soon as there was a brief pause in shots, I threw aside my gun, grabbed the flag, and sprinted like the devil was behind me. Fortunately, none of the staff noticed what I did. Unfortunately, Intern Alicia, who is also my roommate, forgot who I was and loaded me from head to toe with paint like a canvas. Luckily the rest of the teammates realized what happened and banded together to return the flag for the win.
With the score all tied up three to three, we played one final game of capture the flag on the first field. There were no pre-match insults from Stunt this time; he was having a hard time catching his breath. When that whistle blew, we more staggered than ran into action. To be honest, I don’t remember much from the last battle. Between the head wound and massive amount of sweat, I was in a little bit of a haze. The next thing I knew, Sam was sprinting with the flag to our base, giving the Interns the battle and the War.
The bruises from that day are already gone, but the memories will last us much longer. I’ll remember where I was when Stunt was shot in the neck. I’ll remember where I was when Alicia and Beth had a Mexican standoff. And I’ll remember where I was when the interns proved once and for all their superiority over the staff.
Every year when September hits the calendar, most people are gearing up for the start of school and football. Here at 96.7 we are getting ready for something different: co-ed slow pitch softball.
For the next four Tuesday nights in September, Johnny, Cari, Stunt Monkey, Ty James and Office Gossip Beth, will attempt to shed the stereotype that radio personalities are terrible at sports. Unfortunately, they have not been off to a strong start so far. I had to miss last weeks game due to work, the first game of the season. Apparently the team was a little rustier than expected. We gave up 14 runs in the first inning alone, and responded by not getting a hit of our own the next inning. We would go on to lose that game, and the next one as well. Though a good time was had by all, the losses still stung.
Tonight however, is a different story, since yours truly will finally make his season debut. Now I don't mean to brag, but I played a little bit of intermural softball growing up in Wisconsin (cough* career .450 hitter and three time all star, cough*). My big bat and smooth hands should be a nice addition on the diamond, and hopefully we improve at rounding third and heading for home. I'll also address the rumors now: contrary to popular belief, no I am not on steroids.
Whether we win or lose, expect our DJs to be talking about the games the rest of the week. No matter how old and grumpy we get, theres something about running around on the diamond in the sun for a few hours that brings out the child in all of us (except for Stunt, who acts like a child regardless). I'm just hoping that leading our team to victory during our Tuesday night co-ed slow-pitch softball will be enough to finally get paid once and for all.
You see them at sporting events. You see them at rallies. You see them at parades. They are silent yet energetic, humble yet cocky, harmless yet terrifying. The life of a mascot is a thankless one. These silent entertainers battle heat, poor vision and unruley children, in pursuit of a good laugh and no recognition.
Well this mascot is breaking his silence.
Last week I briefly joined the ranks of this furry fraternity. It all started with a call from the Mankato MoonDogs. Their usual Muttnik, a large walking dog, couldn't be at the game, and they needed someone to fill in. Stunt promised that one of his interns would do it. As fate would have it, I was that intern. Along with the free brats at the game, Stunt managed to bribe me with free Culver's. I was reluctant at first, but Stunt knew my weak spot (as described here) and before I knew it I was selling my night off for free fast food. I'm still pretty ashamed of myself.
I got to the park at around 5:45 and hung around with our other interns Brianna, Haley and Logan, waiting for someone to give me some sort of direction. Granted its not as if I've never been to a sporting event before, and the job description of minor league baseball mascot sort of speaks for itself, but this was still my first performance. Finally at 6:15, an employee of the MoonDogs came and got me. This is the running diary of my night.
6:15 The MoonDogs employee brings me to the back of the stadium. Underneath, in a little garage like encampment, I am introduced to Muttnik. The costume looks much heavier than I anticipated.
6:16 The costume is still wet. I am reminded that this is the second game of a double header. I am immediately regretting my decision.
6:22 I put my mask on. The chin strap is broken and despite my best efforts throughout the night, would remain useless. I can hardly see out of the mask, no more than a two foot range in any direction. I have no peripheral vision to speak of. Everything around me is dark and mysterious. I wonder if this is what it feels like to be an astronaut.
6:24 The employee helps me put my gloves on, the final piece of my outfit. By this point I have already started sweating.
6:27 I am led out of the garage. I manage to duck low enough to avoid a low hanging door, and blinded by the sun. I no longer have any clue where I am
6:29 The employees voice appears from somewhere to my left, telling me to follow. I manage to do this for about ten paces before walking into a pillar and knocking my head ajar. We have to turn back to the garage and fix my helmet.
6:36 Take two. We leave the garage again. This time I make it all the way around to the front gates, where fans are slowly trickling in. The employee gives me the direction “entertain kids for the next half an hour”, and walks away.
6:38 I make the first little girl I approach cry. As I wave at her, she takes off screaming in the other direction. I take this as an ominous sign.
6:42 A young brother and sister want to give me a hug, which I agree to. Then their mother asks for a picture, so I vaguely turn my head to where I hope the camera is. It isn’t until after the picture is taken that I remember that I do not need to smile.
6:47 It is superhero night at the park. Batman and Superman are gaining much more attraction than me. Two young boys sprint by me, nearly taking out my knee cap in an effort to see their favorite comic book heroes.
6:54 Another young boy comes up to me and starts a conversation. This is very tough to maintain since I am following the mascots strict code of no talking. I am trying to mime that I hot, sweaty and dying of thrust. He laughs, tells me I have nice dance moves, and leaves to find his parents.
6:58 I haven’t seen the MoonDogs employee in sometime. I wonder when I am supposed to be on the field.
6:59 A player on the field yells for Muttnik. I look over my shoulder, forgetting myself. He tells me the high five line is about to start. I panic, and sprint as fast as I can towards the fence in my comically oversized dog feet.
7:03 As the first pitch is about to happen, the employee finally finds me. He tells me when they call my name, run up to the backstop and entertain the crowd. Then get back in line to high five the team.
7:05 My name is called. I run to the back stop, jumping up and down along the way and waving my arms. I point at the crowd. For reasons unexplained, this seems to excite them. I keep pointing at people until I have to return to the players.
7:10 The National Anthem starts. For the next four minutes, I compose myself. I am hot and dripping with sweat, and still half blinded by the afternoon sun. This is the first time since I walked out of the stadium that I haven’t been surround by children at knee height. A single tear mixes into my sweaty face as the song finishes.
7:16 The employee asks me if I would like a break. I nod wearily. I follow him back to the garage. He hands me a water bottle and tells me he’ll come get me in the third inning.
7:18 I can feel my t-shirt sticking to my body. My hair is soaked. I think I’ve lost a pound of sweat already. The water bottle is half empty in minutes.
7:25 Stunt comes back to check on me. He takes one look at me, bursts with laughter, and leaves me alone to my thoughts.
7:29 I meet the Old Country Buffet bee. She did not see me sitting in the corner of the garage, and almost throws her head at me in fear. The two of us joke over our budding social lives.
7:38 The bee finishes her water bottle, puts her mask back on, and returns to the stadium. I still feel dead on the inside, though I have finally stopped sweating. I determine she is tougher than me.
7:45 Two water bottles later and I have been told to go back to work. I assume that a mascot costume is similar to an astronaut’s suit and can just go to the bathroom whenever if needed.
7:50 I am back out in front of the stadium. Two kids are competing in a sack race and I am told to stand at home and call them safe or out. The kids end up colliding into one another at home plate. I finally break my mascot’s code and let out an audible laugh as the detangle from each other.
7:56 I am asked to entertain guests in the realty executives loft for a bit. Stairs prove to be tricky, as I tightly grip the hand rail and walk with the speed of a senior citizen.
7:59 The executives loft starts out badly. A mom loudly complains that I do not make eye contact with her small child. As if I am in control of where the giant plastic dead eyes sewn onto my head are looking.
8:07 A group of moms ask me to take a picture with their children. We have to take three pictures, since I am looking in the wrong direction during the first two.
8:13 Some one accidentally spills a beer on me. It is the third known fluid that has been soaked into the costume.
8:19 I finally am allowed to leave to loft and return to the ground level. I tripped walking down the steps in my haste, and nearly ribcage myself on the handrail.
8:25 A group of children, all between the ages of 3 and 8, have somehow taking me unaware and have me surrounded. They proceed to beat the living crap out of me. One by one, they pull my tail, punch me in the kidney, jump my back, and smack my nose, constantly diving and darting before I can stop them. Meanwhile, their parents take pictures and cheer them on. A single tear rolls down my face when I realize no one will help me. I now officially hate the human race.
8:32 The Moondogs employee finally comes to rescue me, only to inform me I’m needed on the field to lead the crowd with the “YMCA” during the seventh inning strech. Despite the feeling of what I’m sure is internal bleeding, I do my job. It isn’t until afterwards that I am informed that the stuffing of my tail is falling out, and I was making my “C’s” the wrong way.
8:38 The game is nearing and end, so I am tasked with waving good-bye to the guests near the front gates. Two cute girls ask for a hug on the way out. I oblige, holding on a little longer that I probably ought to.
8:41 The group of kids who viciously beat me are now leaving the stadium. I breathe a little easier. On the way out they promise to see me next week. I feel bad for whoever wears the suit that day.
8:43 Stunt leaves. Seriously, the guys who bribed me into doing this gets to leave before me. Life isn’t fair.
8:50 The Moondogs employee finds me one last time. He tells me I have done a great job, and takes me to the back of the stadium where I can finally take of the costume and talk.
8:55 I am now officially out of the costume, but it takes me another 5 minutes to stand up again. I have completely sweated through my t-shirt and shorts. I now realize that I should have brought a change of clothes.
This is how the Hot 96.7 Street Team rolls...
I'm supposed to be writing about things around Radio Mankato that give me, for lack of a better word, problems. Basically anything I find irritating, or annoying I should write about. Here's the thing, I'm not usually irritated around the office. So far my internship has been a lot of fun, with many interesting things to keep my busy.
As you may know, I'm here 5 days a week, 10 am to 2 pm, always with Stunt Monkey. And I mean always with Stunt Monkey. I'm starting to feel like his shadow how many times I follow him around working
Here are some fun facts you may not have known about Stunt Monkey:
1. He regularly sits at his desk barefoot.
2. He will never be a professional foot model.
3. Every time I ride along with him in his truck, my life flashes before my eyes.
4. He makes fun of how young I look after shaving, whether at the office or out in the real world.
5. I've met women with thicker facial hair then him.
6. If he orders a hot sandwhich from Jersey Mike's for lunch, he has had a rough morning. If he gets a cold sandwhich, he is much more laid back.
7. He hates soccer, and has a 4th grade education.
8. Somewhere around the office, he has a hidden stack of Kickstart Mountain Dew, which keeps a closer eye on than Fort Knox.
9. He gets easily distracted by videos of rednecks, Jimmy Fallon, and videos involving wedding proposals gone wrong.
10. He's single...ladies
Truth be told, he's a pretty fun boss to work for. But he asked for me write my complaining blog, so he should have known what to expect.