Breakfast of Champions 7/2: In the poker game of life ...

Item the first: I'll be singing "Take Me Out To the Ballgame" during the 7th inning stretch at tonight's St. Paul Saints game.

If you've ever wanted to hear a guy whose voice was made for blogging croak out some beer-soaked notes, join me and dozens of my closest friends, associates and co-conspirators. We'll be the rowdy group of 30ish people surrounding one short white dude in a Nippon Ham Fighters jersey. I have a feeling we'll be noticeable.

Item the second: Finally, I get to explain why (much as I like some of their writers) it's hard for me to read The Rake regularly. It's the name. As the Obama and McCain gambling post explains, the "rake" is a poker term for the money that the house takes out of every pot.

Asking a card player to read The Rake like asking a vampire to read something called The Garlic. Next time name the thing "Free Puppies" or something.

On to the links!

This week's feature examines the defense industry in Minnesota, and not just the big dogs like Alliant. Turns out that, though the state ranks relatively low in terms of military contracts, there are hundreds -- maybe thousands -- of smaller operations seeking to play a role in the military industrial complex.

Think your school has it bad? In these times, it probably does. But rural schools face particular challenges, as Beth Walton explains. In related news, American infrastructure is trillions of dollars behind, a situation highlighted by the recent Midwest floods.

Three new show reviews from the past 24 hours:

* Orchestra Baobab, Afro-pop majesty at the Dakota, by Peter S. Scholtes * The RZA as Bobby Digital, with review by Nate Patrin and photos by Daniel Corrigan * Bootsy Collins at the zoo for a James Brown tribute, by Jordan Selbo, featuring photos by Tony Nelson

With the summer in full swing, Rachel Hutton has 10 great places for patio dining. This goes along with her top rooftop dining destinations piece for this week's paper.

Tyson Gay is really fast. Tyson Homosexual is apparently even faster. We found out thanks to a right-wing Web site that automatically strips out the former term for the latter. In other sports news, NHL workhorse Andrew Brunette is back with the Wild, signing a reported 3-year, $7 million contract.

We're number four! Fourth-best in the "places to become wealthy" category, anyway. Once you get rich, you can afford to eliminate that Big Bird-colored wood problem.

The Joystick Division banner identification contest is complete, so you can find out what those obscure characters were and who won the goods for identifying them.

I'll leave you with this. Freelancer e-mail of the day, explaining late photographs: "I just need someone to hold the camera because I'll have blood-colored Axe Body wash all over me." I'll leave it to you, the reader, to guess which freelancer this comes from.

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