Singing a New Tune

Next up to sing the state anthem: Flo Rida

Next up to sing the state anthem: Flo Rida

Forget our crumbling roads, overburdened courts, and hemorrhaging public schools. You know what this state really needs? A catchier jingle.

The push for a new state song comes from Rep. Dean Urdahl (R-Fa La La La La), who recently introduced a bill that would elevate the 100-year-old standard bearer "Hail Minnesota" to state anthem, so as to clear a path for a new state song with more pizzazz. Though his own tastes range from oldies to country to classical, Urdahl insists he doesn't care what the new song sounds like, so long as it's "contemporary."

We know what you're thinking. Contemporary? Let's get Kenny Loggins or John Tesh up in this piece to crank out a soaring meditation on soybeans, lakes, and the Foshay Tower. No dice. Urdahl's bill stipulates that the composer has to be a legal Minnesota resident. Hollywood types and Central American migrants need not apply. —Jonathan Kaminsky

Shoe Crime: Don't Let It Happen To You

As a supplement to the University of Minnesota's new emergency preparedness website launched last week, the school put out its very own YouTube video. The hip outreach technology is part of a greater effort by the school to connect with students using their means of communications, said Justin Ware of the University News Service. The school also has an emergency preparedness Facebook site, and students can receive campus emergency alerts via text messages.

One sketch in the five-minute YouTube clip shows a young man walking in broad daylight talking on his cell phone about a "wild" party for which he needs sleepover stuff and a toothbrush. That seems relatable; I mean, who doesn't bring a toothbrush to a kegger these days?

The story reaches its climax when a stranger comes up behind our beloved protagonist, pushes him into the snow, and steals the man's...shoe!

Then, in a moment of cinematic genius, the viewer is suddenly taken back to the original scene. This time the man isn't talking on his phone and is able to heroically fend off the robber.

The school's message: "Hang up and stay unplugged for a safe U."

One viewer, in a posted comment, had a slightly different takeaway: "So, uhhh, in summary, look out for the university boot bandit." —Beth Walton

Family feuds

Rep. Tim Mahoney doesn't hate women. Nor does he support people who beat their wives.

Yet that was some of the innuendo that filtered through the Capitol in recent days regarding the five-term St. Paul legislator.

Mahoney's offense? Sponsoring legislation that would make "joint physical custody" the legal standard for parents who are going through a divorce. Mahoney has sponsored similar bills for the last six years, but each time the proposal has gone down in flames.

The issue is exceedingly contentious, as evidenced by last week's packed hearing on the matter before the Public Safety and Civil Justice Committee. Men who feel their rights have been ignored by the family court showed up clad in T-shirts bearing the phrase "Fathers 4 Justice." Advocates for victims of domestic violence testified that Mahoney's proposed change would result in more abuse.

Facing the possibility of defeat yet again, Mahoney ultimately settled for a compromise. The committee voted to have the Minnesota Supreme Court organize a task force to study the family court system and suggest changes.

"Even to have gotten that after six years I thought was a victory," says Mahoney. —Paul Demko