Exhibit 1.6.15



I didn’t even doctor that photo, it just came out looking old-timey. And the road to the past you take to get there:


Comment / Posted in Nebraska, Old, The West

Exhibit 1.4.6


I found this shirt in Madison in anticipation of this week’s game against Nebraska, and I have to say, it’s sort of awesome. That it’s in Nebraska’s colors (only because Wisconsin shares them), that there’s something so linguistically strange about its chosen insult–its concern with ranking and history and that it attacks the state as a whole and not the football team or the university–well, I sort of want it. I wish it had a question mark at the end as if it, like, meant to start a conversation about Nebraska’s place in the country or maybe took more seriously its use of “ever” which confuses everything, but still, it’s a really idiosyncratic shirt which could only have sprung from a rivalry which is not and never will be real.

I love it.

I want Nebraska to answer with their own strange insults when these two teams meet again in the Big 10 Championship game:

2 Comments / Posted in Football, Nebraska, States

Exhibit 27.10


To The Nebraska, Steves who (I think) won my fantasy baseball league this year. I say I think because I still don’t really understand what’s happening. I keep waiting for other people in the league to tell me that now the super playoffs begin and we all have to redraft our teams using only players from the 2002 Mets.

In any case, the victory is a fluke. I never knew what I was doing but had enough lucky waiver wire pickups to overcome clubhouse cancer Alex Rodriguez choking down the stretch. Mostly, my strategy of denying myself all non-Billy Butler Royals worked out. I think Royals GM Dayton Moore should try this himself.

The , Steves by the way take their name from Brendan Fraser’s character in Albert Brooks’s greatest work, The Scout. I’m not entirely convinced the movie wasn’t just a hoax to get Bob Costas to have to say ridiculous things:

1 Comment / Posted in Baseball, Nebraska, Steves

Exhibit 25.18

Conference Realignment

If you’ll allow me to talk about college athletics for a moment…

…I’ve got mixed feelings about how Nebraska broke college football. Not that college football got broken, but that it had to be Nebraska doing it. It’s not exactly the situation, of course, and Colorado’s move into the Pac-10 takes some of the heat off the Big Red, but at least in Texas the sentiment seems to be that it’s Nebraska driving a stake into the heart of the Big XII (and not, you know, a flawed revenue sharing arrangement or conference championship game that’s not going to played north of Dallas anytime soon).

Nebraska is doing what’s right for Nebraska, but it’s unfortunate that there are likely going to be some pretty dire consequences for some surrounding schools. I’m mostly sad for Kansas in all of this which has to be looking around and panicking that their basketball team is going to end up playing Boise St. and Wyoming twice a year. The Texas schools will always be okay, and Oklahoma seems likely to land on its feet one way or the other, but the Plains schools are going to be in an awkward position if things continue on their current course. Its a course that means 16 team super conferences and–eventually–a host of lawsuits and possible congressional action.

It’s not going to be pretty, and, while I agree with the decision–am crazily excited about it actually–it’s Nebraska’s responsibility. Apparently, like Han Solo, Nebraska shoots first. It’s shocking such an old-guard administration was able to weigh the school’s future against tradition and determine the money was worth the criticism. And this is about money. Nebraska wanted more, and so they were bold instead of loyal. They were determined not to be left behind, and how it came to be Nebraska joining the Big 10 and not Missouri is a story that I hope comes out at some point. Somehow a university from one of the country’s smallest states came to be the key player in a national revolution driven by the acquisition of television ratings. Tom Osborne must have made one incredible PowerPoint presentation.

So now the university will position itself to build its academic reputation around its Big 10 membership. Good, they should be so ambitious. The state seems to think there are ways this could lead to jobs and population growth (we’ll see. Frankly, I’d be afraid if college football is actually that important). The athletic department is going to try to sell everyone on the idea that Iowa is rival, and soon it probably will be. And of course the only reason that matters: the financial windfall. The end.

It’s a win, but it’s a momentary one. By the time Nebraska joins in 2011, all of the other pieces will have fallen into place and it might not look like such a smart move to have cast off the past. If things go the way they seem to be going, this is going to be a reset button in college athletics (though, notably, not the one we’d all like to hit which would bring some much needed reforms to spread the wealth to student-athletes). Nebraska is hardly guaranteed their relevancy, and there are obvious pitfalls in moving north rather than south. O well. They broke it, they bought it. Thankfully, it shouldn’t be a problem paying for it.

2 Comments / Posted in Money, Nebraska, Sports

Exhibit 25.3

A Follow-up to Yesterday

Things That Are Actually in Nebraska

* Buffalo Bill Cody shot glasses

* Sometimes cranes, sometimes not

* Along the Oregon Trail, numerous tombstones for children who died of cholera, children with names like “Nads” and “Aaron Tagge is a Homo.” You have to wade through a lot of buffalo skeletons to find them, however.

* All the country’s best Platte Rivers

* That guy who looks like Jared Leto (ed note: I’m not convinced that guy isn’t actually Jared Leto and we’re all just pretending otherwise so we don’t have to talk about his band).

* Jealousy of Iowa and Colorado, ambivalence toward Kansas, disdain for South Dakota

* This Man

* Kila Ka’aihue, apparently forever

* NebraSKA, a made up ska festival I always feared someone would start

4 Comments / Posted in Cholera, Nebraska, Rivers

Exhibit 25.2

So It’s Come to This

U-Haul is just making stuff up about what’s in Nebraska.

I would be worried about this unleashing a horde of tourists, but nothing happened when we had Chimney Rock on the state quarter so we should be fine. So, yes, America, go on flying over our wondrous refuge for weird rocks and fictional beasts.

Comment / Posted in Lies, Nebraska, Trucks

Exhibit 21.25

Gross Things I’m Going to Eat in Nebraska This Week

And by this week I mean every day this week. And by gross I mean gross. One of the underrated parts of living in Nebraska is that the state was neglected by franchisers for long enough that it has a couple of robust regional fast food restaurants. The Amigos “Cheesy” is such an institution that everyone has forgotten it’s just a tortilla with cheese and the faintest hint of refried beans, as if it the tortilla came into contact with a dirty table (which it probably did). Somehow this works and Amigos knows it which explains why during my lifetime the price of this particular item has nearly tripled (this leads to a lot of people, friends, parents trying to make cheesi themselves which is a complicated process involving 1) a tortilla and 2) shredded cheddar and 3) an over zealous microwave).

Now they’re taking it to the next level which means throwing bacon and ranch dressing into the mix. As horrible as that sounds, I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t feel betrayed when I found out about this one week after I moved.

Other things I hope to do in Nebraska: watch my friend Ryan try to recreate one of these in his kitchen using only ingredients at hand. I’m not joking. Before this week is over I will watch Ryan bite into a misshapen tortilla and claim that his Hot Dog Dorothy Lynch Cheesy is just as good as anything at Amigos.

And then there’s this monstrosity from KFC which you might have read about. This is the result of another strange Nebraska dynamic–rampant product tests–which results from the state’s largest cities being fairly representative demographically.

This is a sandwich with chicken instead of bread, something that is only being test marketed in Omaha and Providence at the moment. I don’t even think I like KFC. I certainly don’t like whatever impulse led to the creation of this fried blasphemy. But, I mean, I have to try it. Just like I had to try the McDonald’s 3-and-1 one during its brief existence as an upscale alternative to, um, McDonald’s. Basically, I’ve edited my internal monologue as such: But they serve their fries in a basket and have club sandwiches made something impossibly terrible.

I don’t know why I’m posting this other than to explain to Dave N. why instead of making it to his wedding I’ll be either dead or full, probably both. God help me if Runza has some kind of new mushroom and ham Runza in the works.

Actually, the best part of all of this will be me talking about it all weekend, going to a KFC, having two bites, and then spending the rest of the day talking about how I feel sick and am going to become a vegetarian when I get home.

7 Comments / Posted in Bad Ideas, Food, Nebraska

Exhibit 21.18

People in Nebraska are taking that loss to Virginia Tech hard. Like forgetting how to do math hard:

Good lord, when I can spot the math error in the headline of the Journal Star‘s lead story, things must be bad. Not making a video with Hitler in it bad or dying during a biblical flood bad like here in Texas but still bad.

What? We made our own Hitler video? Oh, Christ. 7/8ths of me is upset and not just because that 50% of me is underwater.

Dave Madden needs to write a letter to the editor about one or both of these things. And I want a Sunday letter to the editor, Dave, not this Thursday crap you’ve been pulling lately.

Comment / Posted in Math, Nebraska, Selling Newspapers

Exhibit 20.2

There are several things wrong with this story:

Area tubers go missing, recovered safe and sound
Area diveteams were summoned to Paxton to help search for missing tubers on the South Platte River…

Eventually, all the missing water-leisure enthusiasts were recovered alive, but in the process one member of the search party had gone missing…

a search plane was dispatched to the area. By 8:35 p.m. all parties were accounted for and no one was hurt.

1) The South Platte River is slightly slower than a baby taking her first steps across a room. The only way to get “lost” on the Platte River is to not realize which direction it flows and end up wading to Denver.

2) The South Platte River is approximately 8-inches deep. These Paxton-area “dive teams” most likely consisted of children plucked from their front yard inflatable pool who were unfortunate enough to be the only ones in town with snorkels on.

3) Tubing the South Platte River does not make one a “water-leisure enthusiast.” No, it makes one a sunburn victim, an alcoholic, and a person about to have dinner next to a stuffed polar bear at Ole’s Big Game Bar, but it doesn’t not make you a water-leisure enthusiast.

4) I will not have the reputation of the Paxton Search and Rescue team besmirched by someone who’s never been on the front line. Until you walk that flat, tree-less prairie in their boots, you have no idea how hard it is to locate whichever one of the town’s 614 residents have wandered off. He could have laid down to take a nap and then how do you see him in that knee high grass?

5) Plane, that’s how. They laughed when Keith County got its own Air Force, but now they’re showing the world what a plane with a 68 county license plate nailed to it can do. Sure, today it’s saving water-leisure enthusiasts and their keepers, but tomorrow it’s flying over Paxton Tigers football games and buzzing the Deuel County Coast Guard’s Destroyers.

3 Comments / Posted in Deuel County, Nebraska, Rivers

Exhibit 19.3

This really was so predictable as to almost not warrant another post. But then I thought about all of the children relying on me for their Nebraska license plate news and figured I’d catch everyone up:

1) State holds online vote using four designs everyone hates
2) The chosen design–done by the aluminum vendor of all things–wins because of a prank done by a humor website
3) The state goes to the second place winner:

4) Everyone hates the new winner even more
5) Governor Heineman loses his reelection bid over this

Okay, so that fifth step is just a guess, but I don’t think anyone would be shocked. We are talking about a state that would break into a war if anyone ever tried to renumber the counties based on a contemporary census. Custer County would rather see their entire population killed than live with a license plate number higher than 4.

It’s either 4 or 93 for those people, there is no compromise.

At the moment, there’s a 0.4% chance this bird and weed plate ends up being used. Needless to say, I’m continuing to enjoy this.

Comment / Posted in Governors, Nebraska, Ongoing

Exhibit 18.25

Now, I don’t care in the sense that I don’t have Nebraska license plates and will likely never have Nebraska license plates. I also don’t care in the sense that I can’t say I ever really notice license plates.

I just think the state’s reaction to the license plate voting has been fairly hilarious. For weeks people have been complaining about it and writing letters to the editor, all of whom seem to hold the same opinion: the choices, such as they were, were horrible and whatever misguided process excluded using actual design professionals should be scrapped.

Almost every aspect of the process has been attacked, from the use of the governor (who, despite a fairly well documented history of being a tool and no documented history of being a graphic designer, picked the finalists) to the required inclusion of (at the expense of, say, “The Good Life,” Nebraska’s awesome state motto).

And now, naturally, the worst design won and I’m as outraged as everyone else for some reason (probably boredom). The winner:

Black? Really? This for a state with two distinguishing features (wide, blue skies and flat, amber prairie)? There’s not even any indication of what the intent was here. It’s too designed to be distinctly plain (like Delaware’s plates) and is so contrary to the state itself as to actually be fairly transgressive, as if the football team played five seasons as The Corpsemongers.

More importantly, the gradients. Good lord, the gradients. It’s like someone took a two-week Creative Suite class and couldn’t help themselves. We’re just lucky we didn’t get any clip art or artificial lens flares.

And by we I mean you. I’m out of here, suckers.

[runs away laughing maniacally, returns for Christmas, feels bad]

Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Governors, Nebraska

Exhibit 15.25

I imagine I’ll be going to this and you should, too:

Mary Jo Bang
Thursday, January 29th
Callen Conference Center, Smith Curtis Building
Nebraska Wesleyan University

The rest of the reading series this year is equally dynamite though, if I may say, not exactly the most diverse group (stylistically or otherwise) I’ve ever seen. Still, it’s a style I like so I don’t really know what my problem is. I guess I don’t have one. Besides, I’m probably wrong about the styles. From what I’ve read, all of these are writers capable of doing pretty much whatever they want and doing it remarkably well at that.

Brian Evenson on March 3
Sheila Heti on March 31
Gary Lutz on April 16

Those are some crazy great writers, no? I’m excited.

Comment / Posted in Bangs, Nebraska, Readings

Exhibit 14.26

…it is hard to imagine what America would look like without the small and shrinking number of people who engage in painstaking, firsthand research in order to separate the truth from the body of supposed facts, and who keep the rest of us honest. A corollary of this insight, of course, is that much of what we think we know is wrong.

This New Yorker article about a truck driver who has become the world’s authority on the first nuclear bombs is interesting.

Also interesting:

1) The entire article I had to keep reminding myself to sub-vocalize the word nuclear as “nu-clee-ar” as opposed to my more natural “nu-cu-lur.” It’s a mispronunciation I’m trying desperately to drop and it’s one issue on which I have complete sympathy for our current president. I grew up in western Nebraska, for god’s sake, everyone pronounces it “nu-cu-lur” there.

I’ve actually considered whether or not I should just live with it as a nod to authenticity. Possibly I should even use the word more, especially in rarefied company likely to call me on it. “This is some nuculur brie, California’s 46th District Congressman Dana Rohrabacher!” or “Our only hope is that when the nuculur bombs drop we still got good water in our cricks, Maya Angelou.”

This, however, is the road that leads to me becoming a James Carville-like caricature of Midwesterness. You’ll know this is the life I’ve chosen if you see me drinking pop and taking the ACT.

It’s okay if you don’t want to be my friend anymore.

2) Speaking of western Nebraska, at one point the article makes a reference to Scottsbluff only they call it “Scott’s Bluff.” Now, the county is Scotts Bluff, County, but, even giving them that one, that apostrophe is all New Yorker.

I wonder, did the town name not satisfy their archaic style guide? Perhaps Remnick and company should coördinate a fact finding mission among their most élite proof readers.

2 Comments / Posted in Davids, Issues, Nebraska

Exhibit 12.18

So I don’t know how closely you follow current affairs in Nebraska…what’s that you say? Very closely? Good. Then you probably know there’s been a bit of controversy over a safe haven law designed to allow parents to leave unwanted babies at hospitals as opposed to, you know, the placenta-stained trashcan behind Temporary Classroom Trailer 11B.

(Too far?)

Good law, right? Especially with abortion access and sex education being eviscerated in a state like Nebraska, a law like this seems essential to protect both the child and the mother (who previously would have been subject to a felony charge for abandonment). Despite there being a long history of this sort of practice, Nebraska was somehow the last state in the country to have this law. Fine. They rectified the mistake. Well done.

The problem comes in when lawmakers decided to use the word ‘child’ in place of ‘infant’ in the bill which has led to all sorts of hilarity like this headline:

Father drops off 9 kids under safe haven law

Oops. Turns out the only children being dropped off are more likely to drink beer than formula. That’s not really the part that confuses me though (if anything it was all too predictable). I just can’t understand how a guy managed to get nine kids to go with him to the hospital and be willingly abandoned. Did he tell them they were going to McDonald’s? Did they have to take two cars? Did the abandoned 17-year old drive the second car? Did he stop to buy a lottery ticket and some cigarettes before he made himself a ward of the state?

I have questions. Clearly the only way I’m going to get answers is to adopt all nine of these kids and get the answers I need from Herb, Tiffany, Johnboy, Adam Jr., Kevin, Gabriella, Haruki, Phyllis, and Adam III.

The only thing stopping me is that I don’t know what I’d do with them next. What’s that? There’s a poorly written safe haven law? Well, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to need to mapquest a route from my house to the orphanage and then from the orphanage to the hospital dropbox.

Comment / Posted in 17, Nebraska, Unanswered questions

Exhibit 11.8

Nebraska-related errors I was able to spot in the first 50 pages of Ann Patchett’s The Magician’s Assistant:

1. Alliance is not on the interstate

Okay, so that’s it. I know it’s a small thing, but how hard is it to open up Google Maps or visit the absolutely awesome Alliance Chamber of Commerce website?

(By the way, compare that to the North Platte Chamber of Commerce website. That town. Jesus. It’s over twice as big as Alliance yet its website looks like it was designed by Adam Peterson circa 1997. Apparently the designer was too busy solving the mystery of the missing pot to finish that MS FrontPage night class he signed up for. At least it’s not a Geocities page, I guess.

Even poor Dr. Boettcher, whose dental service ad bizarrely aims for “sexy,” gets screwed over because his link doesn’t work. My two experiences with Dr. Boettcher:

1. He was once my AYSO soccer coach
2. I once, years later, played shuffleboard at his house

Thus ends this completely arbitrary parenthetical.)

Anyway, The Magician’s Assistant was our book club pick this month and no one seemed too into it, myself included. It’s hard when someone is writing about your state when it’s clear that they’ve never actually been to it. I didn’t actually get far enough to see what happens when the protagonist actually goes to Nebraska, but I was assured by others that it wasn’t pretty. Apparently the message is that everyone in Alliance rides their horses down the interstate to the barn dance and then they all eat apple pie while the women birth their babies and the men watch stoically in tight Wranglers before mending fence until dawn. Or something.

I’m very glad that I was able to put off reading this book long enough to not actually have to finish it. My book club pick is next, and barring unforeseen library shortages, I’ve settled on Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping.

You should read along.

1 Comment / Posted in Books, Nebraska, North Platte

Exhibit 9.15

Well, I guess now we know why Johanns stepped down as Secretary of Agriculture when he did. It’s not just that he wanted to run for the senate–though that was surely part of it–but also that he wanted to avoid having any association with a farm bill that would put him squarely between his constituents and his president.

Oddly, the president is mostly right on the farm bill though why he wants to fight subsidies and giveaways when it comes to farmers and not, say, the oil industry, erodes whatever high ground he might have on the issue. Everyone knows the farm bill is a bidecadal embarrassment but there doesn’t seem to be any logic in taking a stand on it and it alone unless you are a lame duck president desperately searching for one positive in a legacy of criminally reckless (and just criminal) government.

Johanns was savvy enough not to stick as Secretary of Agriculture long enough to have to fight the losing side of this battle–a side he almost certainly disagrees with–but ultimately it might be the only way he loses this election. Johanns’s greatest weakness is that he’s an empty suit who seems to purposefully camouflage himself in his own blandness in the hope that no one notices he’s slowly climbing the ladder. In his wake, he leaves a job unfinished and questions unanswered, but everyone forgets about it until his name pops up on the ballot for his next job. Quitting before the farm bill was passed calls attention to himself as just another political opportunist. Serving in the cabinet of a president who wanted to eviscerate a bill putting money in the pockets of Nebraskans calls attention to himself as a just another political opportunist. Forcing his competitors out of a primary by using his party connections calls…you get the idea.

It all leads to a pretty easy argument for a smart, principled candidate to make: It’s one thing to not finish the job, but it’s something else entirely to not finish the wrong job.

Comment / Posted in Agriculture, Nebraska, Politics

Exhibit 4.6

So this is bizarre.

I apparently now have a page on Creighton University’s Nebraska Center for Writers which is a little embarrassing as I don’t really have anything to offer anyone–including the two of you reading this–and certainly shouldn’t be mentioned as a representative (no matter how insignificant) of any municipality or state.

I’ve been to the page recently (it is, sadly, a good way to spend the last hour of work) and I certainly wasn’t on there before. Ignoring for a second the question of who told them about me, I really want to rewrite my bio so it doesn’t mention my tiny moments but instead mentions my sterling Nebraska credentials.

Things I might mention:

  • Really like Amigos.
  • Once had allergic reaction at Fort Robinson.
  • Know that Kanye West’s song “The Good Life” is about Alma.
  • Have been to Alma.
  • As a boy, worried that Omaha would get blown up by the Soviets due to SAC.
  • Can say things like, “Is that by Alliance?” with credibility.
  • Have also been to Alliance. (It’s by Alma).
  • Have seriously looked forward to going to the Sidney Cabelas then felt slightly out-of-place when given complementary rubber worm.
  • Told a joke about Scott Frost getting angry and throwing a Coke at a reporter but overthrowing him by 5 yards. (1995)
  • Once stood in line at a grocery store to get Scott Frost’s autograph. (1998)
  • Know that Alliance isn’t really by Alma.
  • I can pretend to like Runza.

I mean, those are pretty solid credentials. Can you beat that Mignon Eberhardt?

4 Comments / Posted in Nebraska, Who's Next? Minnesota., Writing