Election Law Potpourri – Terminator Edition

Just a quick updater on the goings-on of the Minnesota election law scene. And quite the scene it’s been, keeping federal appellate courts and EVEN the U.S. Supreme Court busy. And the Terminator has even intervened. Let’s get to it:

1) I wrote a post a few days ago detailing the gossip going down in the Minnesota’s Second Congressional District (“CD2”), with a battalion of lawyers descending upon the state after the Minnesota Secretary of State cancelled the CD2 election in November. He was only doing his job, of course, since..ahem…the “major party” known as Legal Marijuana Now (“LMN”) had their candidate (Adam Weeks) for the CD2 seat suddenly pass away, and state law required that the election be rescheduled for February as a result of the death.

The incumbent Angie Craig (D) sued (leading in the polls, thus wanting the election pronto), and her opponent Tyler Kistner (R) (not leading in the polls, thus not wanting the election pronto) got himself added as the defendant. Much legal wrangling ensued, and Craig won decisions at both the federal and appellate court levels, meaning the CD2 election was back on for November.

Kistner appealed to the Supreme Court, and promptly smacked into the judicial version of a brick wall. A day after filing, Justice Neil Gorsuch summarily denied the appeal, meaning Kistner has reached the end of the road (cue Boyz II Men song) in his efforts to cancel the CD2 election before the November 3 contest. As is customary in these sorts of emergency motions, Gorsuch didn’t offer any written opinion. However, Gorsuch could have referred the appeal for review by the full Supreme Court. [Narrator’s voice]: He didn’t. Which probably speaks volumes regarding what Gorsuch though of the appeal.

[Self-serving segue]: Asking yourself why Gorsuch drew the case? For each appellate court circuit, the Supreme Court appoints a justice to administer these types of emergency motions that require quick action. The justice can decide the motion for themselves, or refer the motion to the full court. Minnesota is in the Eight Circuit, and Gorsuch is the justice assigned to the Eighth Circuit, and Gorsuch felt he like could rule on the case just fine by himself.

I think Kistner could appeal to the full court, but given that a justice expected to give this sort of case a sympathetic ear just stamped your case “ACCESS DENIED,” I’m guessing the Kistner camp didn’t like their chances. To wit, Kistner just announced he will be going back to the Eighth Circuit.

But aren’t we done with all this nonsense? Poppycock. There’s so much more lawyering to do! All this legal mumbo jumbo was just about staying the injunction that was imposed to stop the Secretary of State from cancelling the CD2 election. Now, Craig and Kistner (and maybe the state, which has flipped-flopped on this issue) will battle it out on whether the injunction was proper in the first place (Craig will want to certify, Kistner will not). The Eighth Circuit has expedited the appeal so that it can rule before Minnesota certifies the election results on November 24. In other words, if Kistner unexpectedly wins the election, he will be fighting to stop the state from certifying his big win. Awkwaaaaard…..

And oh. We’re still not done. The District Court still hasn’t even heard the case on its merits yet. A lawyer’s delight…..

Stay tuned!

2) In another development, the Eighth Circuit today heard arguments in a case involving the cut-off in Minnesota when absentee ballots must be received to count. Under state law, absentee ballots must be received on Election Day by 3:00pm (if delivered in person), or 8:00pm (if mailed).

An advocacy group for elderly voters sued, arguing that the law was unconstitutional as an “undue burden” on the right to vote under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and a deprival of due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. [Note to the dear reader: I will always, always be honest with you. All those topics are covered in law school in a Constitutional Law II class. I got my lowest law school grade by far in that class, and I never understood all that stuff. Any attempt by me would mere drabble. You’d get better information on Wikipedia. Trust me.]

The lawsuit sought to force the state to accept absentee ballots within a “reasonable time” after Election Day. They got their wish.

The Secretary of State last summer entered into a settlement where he agreed to not enforce the state law, while also instructing election judges to accept absentee ballots that were postmarked by Election Day and received within seven days of Election Day. This settlement was then endorsed by a state court.

[Editorial Note: I have no @#$&ing idea how a Secretary of State can agree to not enforce an unambiguous state statute, and instead adopt a new standard completely contrary to the statute. But, a court went along with it, sooooooooooo….what do I know?]

Several Republican parties and the Trump Campaign promptly sued, but then mysteriously dropped their opposition on the eve of a Minnesota State Supreme Court hearing on the matter. Moreover, they agreed to no longer contest the delayed absentee ballot deadline. I have yet to hear why the Republicans dropped their case (despite much Googling), and if you’ve heard, I’m all ears.

Sounds settled, right? Wrong! If we’ve learned nothing from this blog posting, it’s that there’s always something to argue about in election law. A group of Republican Presidential Electors (quick civics lesson…when you vote for the President, you’re actually not voting for President. Rather, you’re voting for a slate of electors that have pledged to vote for that party’s presidential/vice presidential nominee. Mind. Blown. That’s another tale for another blog posting…) sued in federal court kinda sorta at the last second – seven weeks after the state court action authorizing the delayed deadline (which appeared to have annoyed the court in its decision). For their part, the electors alleged the delayed deadline violated the federal requirement that electors be selected on Election Day.

The district court didn’t reach a decision on the merits, but instead ruled that the electors lacked “standing,” which means they didn’t have the right to bring a lawsuit. Standing is boring, and I won’t bore you with the details, other than to say that you need to show some actual, direct harm to yourself before you can sue for that grievance. The court ruled they didn’t suffer such harm, and it tossed the lawsuit.

The electors, of course, appealed (hence this blog posting!). The Eighth Circuit heard the appeal today, and apparently didn’t tip its hand on how it felt about the case, or when they would rule. The pundits are engaging in punditry, though, that given the Supreme Court’s recent decision to strike down a similar absentee ballot extension in Wisconsin, the Supreme Court would likewise stop the Minnesota extension. My personal editorial feeling is that the courts will be happy to spike the case on the technical jurisdictional grounds of standing, thus not having to reach a controversial issue. Also, given that the parties that would have a better argument at standing (e.g., the Republican parties) took a pass on the lawsuit, the court may not have much incentive to reach on this one. Just my two cents.

You’ve waited this long! Now it’s time for the Termination reference. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger himself filed a “friend of the court” brief with the Eighth Circuit in support of the state’s position. When he’s not wiping out the future of humankind, declaring “it’s not a tumor!” [one of the greatest movie quotes of all time] or running the fifth biggest economy in the world, he’s working on election law issues. Fucking renaissance man.

No word yet on whether the electors have retained the legal services of John Connor.

To Elect or Not to Elect……That is the Question.

….with all apologies to William Shakespeare, of course.

Oh hey. So, it’s been awhile since my blog posting. It’s a long, convoluted back-story that’s another blog posting under construction. Suffice to say, I lost my secret muse for the blog, but she’s another blog entry for another time (which I’m writing now, so how’s that for teaser campaign for said future blog posting?). Imma gonna to ease myself back into the ole’ blog saddle by avoiding the quicksand of dating, and talk about a topic that similarly drips with salaciousness, intrigue and sultry longings ….election law!

Some serious legal shit is going down in Minnesota’s Second Congressional District race. A few weeks ago I posted a Facebook update (which I’ve unlocked to the public) detailing that the Second Congressional District election featuring (mainly) incumbent Angie Craig (D) squaring off against Tyler Kistner (R). I say “mainly” because there’s another party on the ballot called Legal Marijuana Now (“LMN”) that squeezed out “major party” status, thus automatic ballot access, by winning 5% of the vote in the 2018 State Auditor race. Therein lies the rub….

[Rando side note – we’re going to call the Second Congressional District now as “CD2,” if only because: a) we can sound like all the cool politico pundits on C-SPAN….(“CD2 leans Democratic, but has been known to kiss a Republican or two…”)…see? Cool, right?… ; and b) I’m getting bored of typing “Second Congressional District.” It will all be very awesome. Trust me.]

The LMN’s candidate for CD2, Adam Weeks, sadly and unexpectedly passed away on September 21. Under a 2013 Minnesota law, whenever a major party candidate dies within 79 days of the November general election, the election for that seat is cancelled, and re-scheduled for the following February (basically, to give time to the major party suffering the death to endorse a new candidate and allow that candidate sufficient time to campaign). The law was largely passed after the legal hell that broke loose when Sen. Paul Wellstone’s (my former boss) died in a plane crash just days before the 2002 Senate election, since there was no clear statutory mechanism then to replace a deceased candidate on the ballot.

Mr. Weeks died within 79 days of the November 3 election and was a major party candidate, thus the law was triggered and the Secretary of State announced that the CD2 election was cancelled, with a special election slated for February 9, 2021. Just like legal clockwork, right?

Au contraire, dear reader, because when it comes to elections……”there will be lawyers” (shamelessly stolen from the former Packers GM who I follow on Twitter – by the way, he’s really good and informative about business of football, and is totally worth a follow).

The Angie Craig campaign sued the State of Minnesota a few days after the Secretary of State’s announcement, contending that the law was preempted by federal law.

[By they way, you may be asking “what the actual $%&* does “preempted” mean???”, and that’s a great question. Basically, it means that when a state law conflicts with federal law, the federal law wins due to the Constitution’s “Supremacy Clause” (Article VI, Paragraph 2, which states “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land.” Thus, state law is preempted by federal law.]

What’s the federal law that a state law rescheduling an election could possibly run afoul of? I had the same damn question. Another quick Constitutional primer – the Elections Clause in the Constitution permits states to write their own laws for the election of U.S. Senators and Representatives, but allows Congress to overrule those laws. Congress exercised its powers in this realm by requiring that all elections for U.S. Senators and Representatives be held on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November every even-numbered by year (if you really want to geek out, here’s the actual statute: 2 USC 7) – which is November 3, 2020 this year.

So back to the Angie Craig Campaign lawsuit. Craig argues that the state law moving the election to February conflicts with the federal mandate to hold the U.S. House election in November, and is thus “preempted.” Basically, Craig contends that the show must go on in November.

But….a universal truth in the law is that there’s always an exception (or even an exception to the exception…this is why lawyers drink). Congress also gave states flexibility on election timing to fill vacancies for U.S House members “whether such vacancy is caused by a failure to elect at the time prescribed by law or by the death, resignation, or incapacity of a person elected.” (again geeks – 2 USC 8).

The State and Kistner [note that the Craig only sued the state, but Kistner got himself added as a defendant through a process called Intervention, because he wanted the election rescheduled, and probably didn’t trust the state to fully defend the lawsuit, and his concerns were not off-base] countered that the state is free to declare that a “failure to elect” occurs when a major candidate dies, thus the exception applies.

Of course, Craig disagreed with this conclusion, arguing that a “failure to elect” cannot occur simply because a party’s candidate dies. Moreover, since Congress provided for the death of a sitting U.S. Representative later on in the exception, Craig contended that Congress easily could have provided for the death of a challenger candidate, and they didn’t, which evidences that Congress didn’t intend the statute to cover this situation.

The trial court bought the Craig’s arguments, and ruled on October 9 that the state law was likely preempted by federal law, and ordered the election to be held this November after all.

Kistner appealed, and in a bit of a surprise at least to me, the state declined to participate in the appeal, fearing that the good citizens of CD2 were confused enough already about whether the November election was a thing or not, and didn’t want to add further muddle the picture (so Kistner’s decision to get named as a defendant proved wise).

The appeals court ruled yesterday against Kistner, declaring that the election would go on as scheduled in November. Basically, the court the held that while the state may think that the LMN Party was a “major party,” it wasn’t a major enough party in the court’s eyes to justify canceling a Congressionally-required election.

In fact, the court went out of its way to throw a ton of shade at the LMN Party (and indirectly, the state law). To wit, the court noted that “If the death of a candidate would ever justify cancellation of an election and declaration of a “failure to elect”…..then we think it likely that the candidate must represent a political party with a greater history of electoral strength than the [LMN Party] in Minnesota.” The court also went into great detail demonstrating the weak showings that the LMN Party has had in recent elections, implying that its major party status was a lark.

Kistner has indicated he’ll appeal to the U.S Supreme Court, and it will be interesting to see what the Court will do with the appeal (they’ll need to act within the next couple of days). The Court has been all over the board on its rulings the past few weeks with election law issues, so any prediction from me would be the equivalent of throwing darts (and I’m a lazy dart thrower).

Why all the fuss? Why can’t Angie Craig wait until February? Why does Kistner want to delay to the election. The campaigns, predictability, are portraying themselves as protecting the “will of the people” and other altruistic poppycock. Bullshit. Let’s just be realpolitik about all of this. Craig wants the election in November because she’s likely to win a November election. She’s comfortably ahead in the polls, and she wants to surf the expected anti-Trump Democratic wave in Minnesota. If there’s a special election in February, it will likely be viewed as a proxy contest to gauge the relative strength of the parties post-November, and bazillions of dollars will likely flow into the race. Also, you just don’t know who will show up for a special election where there’s only one race on the ballot. In fact, I’ve often noted there are there great crapshoots in life: 1) dating; 2) baseball prospects; and 3) special election turnouts. Kistner knows all of this, and likely believes he stands a much better chance in February than in November.

Stay tuned intrepid reader. Great to be writing for you again.

On Explaining Government Shutdowns

We here at Coherent Nonsense are always striving to provide you, the dear reader, a well-rounded reading experience. Some sappy baseball musings appetizers (e.g., my Joe Mauer fan-boy post), some tasty dating red-meat morsels (e.g., everything else in my blog) and now your vegetables – a primer on the legal mumbo-jumbo leading up to a federal government shut-down. As the Captain Crunch cereal commercial noted during Saturday morning cartoons (I still have fond memories of my little sister waking me up on 6:30am every Saturday so I could switch on for her the circa 1976 Zenith television whose vertical hold was on the perpetual fritz with always cagey reception that was wheezing itself to slow death in my childhood bedroom which needed a pair of pliers to turn the channel dial, all so she could watch Captain Kangaroo with her Cabbage Patch Kids) – it’s all part of a complete breakfast (since my tangent likely has led you astray from the original thought….we’re talking about the Captain Crunch commercial saying it was all part of a complete breakfast, which probably makes modern day nutritionists gag with a spoon, but it’s all part of our kid heritage, so whatevs) [ed. note – my freshman year writing TA probably would barf all over this paragraph and tell me if I’ve already lost the reader through my tangled web, it was totes time to re-write. But, my blog is all about the tangential, so whateves, infinity +1. On the other hand, he also imparted some Shakespearian wisdom to me that I’ve always treasured – “brevity is the soul of wit,” a truism this paragraph pointedly refuses to embrace].

So, anyways, back to the veggies. I was having lunch with a good friend the other day, and they were asking me about how this Government Shutdown goat-rodeo all came to be. For those of you still emerging from the “Week Between Christmas and New Years Space-Time Vortex” (it’s a real thing!) and are still having difficulty discerning what the day of the week it might be, and have understandably lost touch with the shenanigans of your representative democracy (after all, as we used to say in the lobbying biz, “a lobbyist is someone you hire to protect you from the people you elect”), a good chunk of the Federal government mothballed its operations right before Christmas given that the Federal cash had run dry, and since Congress and President Trump couldn’t spread some good cheer and hammer out a budget.

I’ll spare you the hack punditry (lord knows it’s barging down your virtual doors), and just try to stick to the facts and legal/legislative mechanics of how some of the government’s gears ground to a halt. Let’s start, shall we? And as a treat for you to eat your policy wonk vegetables, I’ll give you an update afterwards on the recovery operations of my favorite T-shirt previously hijacked by the ATLDA Girl previously chronicled on these pages. AND NO SKIPPING TO THE END. BECAUSE IF YOU DO….Well, I’ve got nothing other than empty threats. Do what you want. Who am I judge? It’s your internet connection. However, you could totally be the star of your post-holiday cocktail parties by cutting off at the knees the rando douchebag that inevitably shows up at these parties by fighting their hot-headed fiction with fact regarding why the government shutdown. You’ll be the hero, and win friends and influence people. You’re welcome for the future ego stroke. Just be sure to mention the blog. COHERENTNONSENSE.BLOG.


“No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law” — U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 9, Clause 7

Like any good legal analysis regarding our Federal government, we need to start with Uncle Sam’s creation document – the U.S. Constitution. The clause set forth above is one of the several powers expressly, and exclusively, delegated to Congress by the Constitution. Deciphering the Founders’ code flawless and correct English (thus incomprehensible to all of us), it basically says that the Federal government (e.g., the executive branch) can’t spend any money unless Congress approves it (or, in Congressional parlance/cryptic code, “appropriated it”). In the other words, it’s the “Power of the Purse” clause that we heard so much about in social studies class.

Basically, Congress needs to pass a law appropriating money to the Federal government to spend (the equivalent of Congress writing a check in a certain amount to the executive branch). To bring you back to the Schoolhouse Rock “I’m Just a Bill” ditty we all loved back in the day, in order for a bill to become a law, it must pass both the House and Senate in identical form by a majority in each chamber, and then be signed by the President (or if the President vetoes the bill, Congress can still enact the bill into law by a 2/3 majority in both the House and Senate voting to override the veto).

And you didn’t think I’d drop a Schoolhouse Rock reference and leave you, dear reader, without a link to I’m Just a Bill? Nay, I would never, ever do that to you (I’m a lot of things, but never a tease)….

Boom. You’re welcome.

Back to the Power of the Purse. The Purse actually has a shit-ton of compartments. More like 26 to be exact. See, Congress doesn’t just pass one bill to fund all of the Federal government. The federal bureaucracy is far too massive for one bill, and this is Congress, and there’s far too many egos and mouths to feed to allow just one bill.

Rather, both the House and Senate have established their own respective Appropriations Committees, and each of those committees has 12 sub-committees. Each subcommittee has a specific jurisdictional sandbox over a defined piece of the federal government (both the House and Senate subcommittee structure mirror each other). For instance, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies subcommittee [ed.  note: I hate the Oxford comma. With the passion of the hatred that people save for Nickelback. For the record, I like Nickelback, but whatever. The Oxford comma is the douchiest of all grammar rules, and just gives an excuse for snooty people to indulge their primal snootiness. Anyway, I use the Oxford comma here since it’s used in the official name of the sub-committee. The bullets I take for you dear reader….].

Back to the fabled Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies subcommittee. This panel writes the bill that funds the Department of Commerce, the Department of Justice, NASA, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, National Science of Foundation and a host of other related agencies.

So, there’s the House Appropriations Committee (1), its 12 sub-committees (12), the Senate Appropriations Committee (1) and its 12 sub-committees (12) = 26-pocketed Power of the Purse.

[Cue Old Man Voice: Back in my day in DC (circa 1995-2000), there used to be 13 appropriations subcommittees in each chamber. AND WE LIKED IT. And then the whipper-snappers in 2005 went and reduced the subcommittee count to 12. We should have yelled at them to get off the Capitol lawn]

Here’s another important trivia tidbit: The federal fiscal year starts on October 1, and ends on September 30 annually. Thus, even though we celebrated the dawning of calendar 2019 just a few days ago, Federal Fiscal Year 2019 has been raging it since last October 1.    Note that most states run from July 1-June 30. The federal fiscal year used to roll this way, but it was adjusted to an October 1-September 30 cycle in 1976 in order to give Congress more time to pass a budget. Ironic given our current mess….

The typical yearly appropriations dance starts with the President proposing a budget early in the calendar year (under current law, the President’s budget proposal is due on the first Monday in February each year, however there’s no real teeth to this deadline, and which like any deadline with no real teeth, sometimes results in the White House blowing past this deadline with no real remorse).

Once upon a time, Coherent Nonsense roamed the halls of the U.S. Capitol as an eager, yet mediocre young lobbyist for Big Retail, and can remember all the other lobbyists hungrily devouring the President’s budget, howling screams of agony for a week, and then moving on to the next big outrage du jour. That’s pretty much what Congress does too – it’s supposed to use the President’s budget as a baseline, but usually just tosses the budget into the garbage can and does its own thang. It’s kinda like the State of the Union or even the Super Bowl –  everyone hypes it up, and then no one can precisely remember what happened a few days later. DC is the ultimate in ADHD. Squirrel.

Onwards. Congress needs to process 12 appropriations bills before the new fiscal year starts on October 1. Usually the relevant subcommittee holds hearings, holds mark-up sessions and votes out a bill to the full Appropriations committee, and then the committee moves the bill to the floor, where it’s voted on by the full chamber. There’s then usually a conference committee between the House and Senate to hammer out a final bill that gets voted on again by each house (interesting factoid: conference committee bills can’t be amended on the House and Senate floor since bills must pass both chambers in identical format), and it gets shipped off to the President for signature.

While all 12 bills need to be signed by October 1 to keep the federal government fully functioning, having all 12 bills signed, sealed and delivered seldom happens. In fact, it hasn’t happened since 1997. Usually, once October 1 nears, Congress passes, and the President signs, what’s called a “Continuing Resolution” (or, in even more Congressional parlance, a “CR”). A CR covers the federal agencies whose bills haven’t passed yet and keeps them funded at the prior year levels until a certain date.

Whew. Now that you’ve suffered through all of that Congressional nonsense, let’s talk about how we got into the current goat rodeo. As expected, Congress did not pass all 12 appropriations bills before October 1, 2018. However, Congress made some progress, enacting three appropriations bills covering the following agencies: Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services and Labor. Importantly, since the Defense bill was passed, the nation’s armed forces are operating business as usual (except the Coast Guard, which is funded out of the Homeland Security bill, which is the unpassed bill that’s holding everything up, since it also funds border security efforts, so the good folks defending our coasts are working without pay. Sleep well tonight).

Just before October 1 this year, Congress enacted a CR which funded the agencies whose appropriations bills hadn’t passed yet until December 7. Congress subsequently extended this CR until December 21 following the passing of President George H.W. Bush.

The House, Senate and White House reportedly struck a tentative deal to pass another CR extending funding until February 8, however the President withdrew his support, and since the prior CR ran out on December 21, the agencies whose appropriations bills had not passed shut-down on December 22, and most of their employees have been placed on furlough.

Here’s where I should also note that the federal government isn’t fully closed for business. The agencies that have had their appropriations bills passed are fully up and running, as are agencies that don’t receive Congressional funding (such as the United States Post Office (funded by stamps) and the banking regulatory agencies, like the FDIC (funded by bank fees)).

However, a number of federal employees of unfunded agencies have been basically deemed essential (or “excepted”) due to national security or public safety concerns (such as TSA agents), and are being required to work. However, their agencies lack the legal authority to pay them, so these employees are basically working on a federal IOU (e.g., they ain’t getting paychecks until this shutdown fiasco gets figured out). Long story short, be nice to your TSA agents. Because they’re literally working without a paycheck right now.

These employees will be paid eventually for the work done (without any interest, of course). Additionally, as part of previous shutdown-ending deals, furloughed workers generally also have gotten paid for the time they missed due to the shutdown. Sadly, the federal government also employs a massive amount of independent contractors (think janitorial staff and IT peeps). Those folks are also furloughed, and won’t see a dime for their time missed.

Coherent Nonsense was a wee Congressional intern working for Paul Wellstone (may he rest in peace….) back during the Great Clinton-Gingrich shutdown in 1995, and I can tell you that it was one of the more stressful workplace situations I’ve ever encountered. A number of Congressional staffers had been deemed essential, thus were working without pay and tempers were razor-thin (I did not have such worries, because I was working for free, which also meant the interns were kept pretty busy during the shutdown, since we could fill in for furloughed staffers. I remember someone asked me to get Paul out of a meeting, which turned out to be with the White House Chief of Staff, and when I found out that lil’ nugget, I noted to my boss that such activity was probably above my pay-grade, which was “pay-grade zero.” She agreed). Politics, posturing and walls are all fun and games, but the pawns are people with families, mortgages to pay, groceries to buy and kids’ activities to pay for.

The end-game will likely be an omnibus bill negotiated between Congress and the White House that includes the remaining appropriations bills, as well as funding for essential workers who worked during the shut-down and pay for furloughed workers. Then we start all over again, because we’re already staring down the shotgun barrel of Fiscal Year 2020.

It’s a hell of a way to run a railroad. But it’s our railroad.


Now, your (low-cal) dessert! As you may remember, the Above the Legal Drinking Age (ATLDA) Girl absconded with my favorite t-shirt – a shirt that was bravely sacrificed in the name of ATLDA Girl not having to do the penultimate morning walk of shame in an evening gown. I’m pleased to say that I’ve re-established a diplomatic relationship with the ATLDA Girl, and she was even kind enough to bring over a bottle of wine a few days after I broke up with Rochester Girl to listen me kvetch about it (and get your dirty minds out of the gutter – it was totes plutonic…it was really nice of her to come over!). However, the ambassador has not yet managed the successful release of said t-shirt.

However, sometimes you need to lose before you can win! An intrepid Coherent Nonsense reader (who shall remain anonymous, because that’s just how Coherent Nonsense rolls) somehow: a) ascertained what my favorite t-shirt was; and 2) navigated the depths of the inter-webs, found said t-shirt for purchase and gave it to me as a Christmas gift. I was totally flabbergasted – one of the more touching gifts I’ve ever received. What once was lost, has now been found. A Coherent Nonsense Christmas miracle!


Speaking of Christmas, I’ve done a bunch of thinking over the holidays, and I want to be more focused on gratitude and expressing appreciation for the multitudes of good things that I’ve been blessed with in my life. And tops on the list are you dear reader – I’ve been so grateful for the encouragement I’ve received from many of you about Coherent Nonsense and my random musings – from the kind words you provided on Facebook, the private messages and sharing the blog with your friends. I so much appreciate the privilege of you spending some moments of your precious time looking through the window into my life. I’ll keep writing if you keep reading!

Happy New Year everyone. Let’s all make 2019 our bitch.







On Joe Mauer – #7


….And scene. Target Field. Twins v. Yankees. September 11, 2018. The Twins were imploding toward a monumentally disappointing season, and the Yankees were bludgoning their way to hitting the most home runs in a single season by a team on their way to a sure playoff spot. Not to mention that the Yankees have basically been the modern equivalent of a medieval torture device for the local Minnesota nine ever since 2003.  The Yankees figuratively (and literally) were going to take a baseball bat to a painfully overmatched Twins team, right?

Perhaps. But not this game.

I was at the game with my co-worker J. The Twins had jumped all over the rare Yankees pitching punching bag known as Sonny Gray, and had run the score up to 6-1 in the bottom half of the fifth. One out. Bases loaded. Joe Mauer strides to the plate with that silly, yet now nostalgic, walk-up song from T.I. In a very Joe Mauer at bat, he works the count to 3-2 after fouling off a few pitches.

It was a warm night. Maybe one of the last gloriously humid nights of the summer before it’s inevitable September wheezing decline. The ball was carrying in the steamy air.

One of the reasons I love seeing baseball in-person is hearing the sights and sounds of the game up-close, and watching what I want to watch. And boy, did I get a treat.

Joe puts a swing on the ball. The crack of a bat is like gunshot – he “barreled up” on the pitch. But…the trajectory. Most of time, it’s hard to tell right off the bat (again, literally and figuratively) whether a fly ball is going to be a harmless outfield pop fly, or whether it’s going to fall within “the gap” between the left-fielder/center-fielder or right-fielder/center-fielder…or whether it’s going to be the coup de grâce of baseball – a home run…a round-tripper, a yard-bomb, a tater, the long-ball…whatever you want to call it.

But, sometimes the trajectory is a cannon blast into the sky, a sharp angle upwards. You hear a ton about launch angle and exit velocity these days, and there’s tons of value in all of that analytic data. But sometimes, you just know something without having to run the analytics.

And this was one of those “know ’em when you see ’em” blasts. Fall was encroaching, so the sky was already a pitch-black canvass around 8:30 that evening. The perfect back-drop to observe a streaking baseball-sized white spot knifing through the night. I took my eye off the ball because I wanted to see what the Yankees center-fielder Aaron Hicks was doing (Hicks is a former first-round draft pick of the Twins who the team rushed to the majors in the panic, and predictably struggled. And since the Twins front-office could never seem to figure out how to develop a major-leaguer on a consistent basis, we dealt him to the Yankees for a catcher who couldn’t catch or hit, and traded said catcher to the Diamondbacks for basically a bag of baseballs, and predictably said catcher suddenly started catching and hitting taters at an alarming rate).

The center-fielder generally has the best view of the ball hit to the outfield, and Hicks knows what he’s doing in CF, so watching him was a good trend-analysis . Hicks was playing in (Joe was more likely to slap a shallow fly ball to center than hit it over Hicks’ head), and I saw Hicks turn around in a panic and start racing to the fence.

I turned back to the wall, and for a few seconds, doing the eyeball analysis of whether the ball has enough trajectory to clear the fence. But basically, I was just holding my breath.

Hicks stopped short of the wall in defeat. And the ball dramatically drops on the centerfield grass beyond the wall (where pine trees used to be…they were removed after Target Field’s inaugural 2011 season…after which everything basically went to shit, which led to the legend of the Curse of the Pine Trees). Grand slam. Fireworks. Joe rounds the bases, the crowd going crazy, a curtain call when he comes back to the dugout.

The Twins ultimately vanquished the mighty Yankees by a margin of 10-6 that night. Joe had his short-term vengeance against the team that bedeviled him so.

Watching Joe Mauer “touch ’em all” (meaning he was going trot around the diamond touching first, second, third and home plate, because that’s what you get to do after a home run), I basically had a moment. I figured he was probably retiring after this year, and I may have just seen my last “Great Joe Mauer Moment.” It was kind of an emotional deal for me.


Joe Mauer – #7. Probably the most divisive Minnesota sports figure in recent memory. Weird, right? Grew up in Saint Paul (so he’s a verified “one of us”), a three-sport high school athlete icon (not only was he exceptional baseball, but was the National High School Football Player of the Year as a quarterback…Bobby Bowden at Florida State basically told him if this baseball thing didn’t work out, he was welcome to be the FSU starting QB anytime), comes from one of Saint Paul’s most respected families, and the most low-key, non-quotable, “geewhiz” guys you’ll ever meet (I mean, he once recorded a milk commercial with his mother).

And yet, the white-hot hate on social media against him was enduring. Didn’t hit enough home runs. Ground into many double-plays. Couldn’t adapt against the analytics-driven infield shifts. Always hurt.


The Twins took Joe Mauer with the very FIRST pick of the 2001 amateur baseball draft. At the time, I was pissed. The Twins were quite unexpectedly resurgent after years of basement-dwelling, and were in a pennant race for the first time since 1992 dammit. And we needed pitching. Mark Prior, a standout flamethrower, strike-out machine pitcher at USC, was being deemed as “Major League Ready” out of college, was also in the draft. I was #TeamPrior. I thought it was the most Twins (and Minnesota) thing to do by taking the local boy in the draft (but what I didn’t know was that Prior and his old man had basically told the Twins before the draft that there wasn’t enough money in the world for Prior to sign with the Twins, so don’t bother).

Boy, was I wrong. Prior had a stand-out season with the Cubs in 2003, but the Cubs basically threw his arm in the meat-grinder (as the Cubs did back in the day to their starting pitchers), he suffered an arm injury, and he never pitched a major league game after 2006.

But…Mauer. His accolades have been well-documented, but greatness always merits another mention, so here goes….

  • First American League Catcher to win a batting title. In fact, he won three of them (2006, 2008 and 2009). Mauer finished second in AL batting in 2013, third in 2010 and fourth in 2012.
  • AL MVP in 2009 (when he finished first in AL Batting Average, AL Slugging Percentage and AL On-Base Percentage).
  • 6 All-Star Games (elected as a starter in four games)
  • 3 Gold Gloves as Catcher
  • In terms of the Twins, he’s second or third in most team career offensive categories, usually behind Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew and Kirby Puckett (all Baseball Hall of Famers).
  • At the time of his retirement, he was the longest tenured player playing for one team.

Despite all of that, Twins fans never seemed to appreciate his historic career. They just wanted more taters.


Mauer rocketed up the Twins’ farm system, and there were legends of “man among boys” in each of his minor league stops. In fact, his rise led the Twins to pull off one of the greatest trade heists of baseball history in preparation for Mauer’s call-up in 2004. AJ Pierzynski was the Twins catcher, and had proven to be an offensive force and a decent defensive backstop (he also was a bit of gremlin, in that he did gremlin-type stuff to the opposing team, which led to fans loving him if he played for your team, and hating him if you played against him)…but he was in Mauer’s way. So, the Twins shipped him off to the San Francisco Giants before the 2004 season for Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser.

So, the trade basically netted the following: a) clearing the way for Joe Mauer to play catcher; b) the Twins ‘all-time leader in saves (Joe Nathan); c) a starting pitcher that had some quasi-dominant years with the Twins until the Twins gave up on him and another team made him consistently dominant (Francisco Liriano…and notice the theme here with players the Twins give up on and rise to prominence with other teams); and d) a pitcher with one of the greatest baseball names ever (Boof Bonser).

In the glass half-empty category for the same off-season, the Twins also gave up on a guy named David Ortiz, giving him his unconditional release. You’re welcome Boston for all those World Series titles that ensued after you signed him and he morphed into Big Papi.


Mauer made his major-league debut in 2004, and man did he show off his promise. 35 games, .308 batting average, .570 slugging average, 6 home runs and 17 RBI’s. Note that he only played 35 games, because he twisted-up his leg in some astroturf seam in the Metrodome, because in Minnesota, we were too damn “thrifty” to replace a facility that was built on the cheap and hopelessly out-date a mere two years after it opened. One local radio station called it the “Big Inflatable Toilet,” and I couldn’t disagree with that description.


The rest was history. Between 2005-2012, I’m not sure there was a more feared hitter in baseball than Joe Mauer. His command for the strike zone was artist-like. He seldom struck out (he almost never took a called strike-three. In fact, when a umpire called a strike against him, he would step out of the box, give the umpire the gentlest of withering glances, and the umpire usually gave him a look of “Gee, Joe. You didn’t think that was a strike? Well, that’s really good to know…..”


He was on dominant Twins teams. Between 2004-2010, the Twins won four AL Central Division titles with him behind the plate. These were the salad days of the team – not only did we have Mauer, but we had household names like Justin Morneau (2006 AL MVP winner), Johan Santana (AL Cy Young Winner in 2004 and 2006…and he probably should have won it in 2005, but got crappy run support), Torii Hunter, Joe Nathan, Michael Cuddyer, Denard Span, Shannon Stewart, Brad Radke, etc. However, the team was built on small-ball (emphasis on “pitching to contact” and “hitting the ball the other way”), and such teams were perfectly built to win the weak AL Central, but ran into certain annihilation when they hit the Yankees in the playoffs.

In 2009, the final year of the Metrodome, he had a season for the ages. All of a sudden, he started hitting for power (28 home runs), and batting average (.365, which led the league by leaps and bounds), in addition to a bunch of other obtuse statistical categories.  All while he missed the month of April with a knee injury. I was his first game back in May (I was splitting a 20-game ticket package with a law school buddy), and saw him hit his first tater of the year, and my buddy turned me and asked “Where the fuck did that swing come from???”

Target Field was opening in 2010 (which was largely taxpayer funded), Mauer was approaching free-agency, he was the local boy, a fan favorite, coming off a year that showed off his power promise that we all thought he had. The Twins ownership had no choice, and they had to ante-up the cash. Mauer signed an eight-year, $184 million contract leading up to 2010. At the time, it was one of the richest contracts ever given in professional sports.


Here’s the deal with Minnesota. We’re cheap. We expect value for every dollar. And that axiom applies to our pro sport athletes. If we’re giving someone $184 million buck-a-roos, they damn well better produce in ways we expected them to produce.

But, there’s a problem there. 2009 was an outlier year for Joe. He was never going to produce that sort of power again. His hitting style depended on him shortening up his swing, and hitting the ball the other way (in his case, left field).

While he had brilliant seasons after the contract, he was never going to be able to replicate 2009. And certainly not the eye-popping tater numbers he hit in 2009.

Then 2011 happened. Coming off a division winning season in 2010, expectations were high. And the team hit the shitter in 2011 for many different reasons (the first year of the big contract), including some weird, strange injury to Mauer. All of a sudden, Joe stopped playing, and the front office was increasingly cryptic as to why he wasn’t playing. We heard fatigue, soreness, and the infamous “bilateral leg weakness.” If Twins General Manager Billy Smith had just been honest with people that Joe’s body was just banged up after catching all those years with a 6’5” frame, I think all would have been forgiven. But, his studied (and in my view, ignorant) silence just fed all sorts of weird-ass rumors, including that Mauer had MS.  But so began the hate for Joe Mauer.

Much has been made of Joe Mauer’s hitting style. He was an on-base machine, with multitudes of walks, singles and doubles. But never the year of the tater like 2009. He also started to strike out an unusual amount. And I lost track of the number of 6-4-3 double plays he hit into (after the Twins announced they were retiring his #7 next year, when I told a buddy of mine about it, he asked whether the number was going to be 6-4-3).

Things came to a head in 2013, when a foul-ball ricocheted off his head in August, inflicting a serious concussion. He’d never play catcher again (at least until the last game of his professional career).


Joe made himself into a superb first baseman afterwards (he probably should have won the Gold Glove at 1B in 2017), but he never achieved the numbers of 2004-2011 again. Many folks lay the blame of the Twins descent into dark hell-pit of misery starting in 2011 at his feet, on the theory that his massive contract totally sucked up the payroll that the Twins needed to field a competitive team. I dissent from this point-of-view.

It’s not Joe Mauer’s (or his contract’s) fault that: 1) the Twins GM Billy Smith let team “heart and soul” leader Torii Hunter walk in 2008 after Hunter literally begged to sign a contract earlier that season so he could stay; 2) Twins GM Billy Smith was played like a violin by the Red Sox and Yankees when he need to deal Johan Santana (since he was unlikely re-sign with the team the following season), and had to deal with the New York Mets out of a position of weakness and couldn’t get any of the Mets’ top three-prospects for the best pitcher in baseball at the time; 3) that Billy Smith traded away promising power starting pitcher Matt Garza and decent shortstop Jason Bartlett to the Rays for troubled Delmon Young and average Brendan Harris (a buddy of mine will forever curse Harris for not being able to take a pitch in the seventh inning and grounding into a double-play, thus cutting off beer sales when he was next in line); 4) the Twins building a stadium that negated the power of their key left-handed sluggers; 5) Billy Smith trading away catching prospect Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps (a closer who featured a 92-mph fastball that routinely looked like he was throwing batting practice); 6) Billy Smith trading away (notice a trend here???) all-star shortshop JJ Hardy for a relief pitcher whose slider didn’t slide and whose curveballs hung over the plate in slow-motion, all so that Tsuyoshi Nishioka could play shortstop; 7) the Twins stubbornly refusing to adapt to the baseball data-driven evolution of power hitters, power pitchers and other analytics, preferring to keep things “old school.” Which was basically the equivalent of Poland attempting to turn-back the German blitzkrieg with horse-mounted cavalry in 1939; 8) the Twins farm-system consistently missing on first-round draft choices and being able to only produce a small handful of consistent big-leaguers since 2010); or 9) Justin Morneau suffering that freak concussion while trying to break-up a double-play in 2010 (while having an MVP season) and never being the same player again.


The Twins did a marvelous thing for Joe Mauer during the last game of 2018. He had alluded a few weeks ago that he may retire after the year (he had suffered another concussion earlier in the year, and with a growing family, he understandably was concerned for his health and well-being). In a surprise, he came out for the ninth inning in his catching gear – gear he had worn for so long, but not since 2013. Twins Manager Paul Molitor had struck a deal with the White Sox manager – Joe would catch one pitch, which would be a ball, and the White Sox hitter wouldn’t swing at it (thus protecting Mauer from the dreaded foul-ball smashing off his helmet again).

Seemed like an emotional event for everyone in the stadium (I’m still kicking myself for not attending – I figured it was going to be Joe’s last game, and wanted to go to say goodbye, but I was dating this girl who stayed at my place much longer than I thought she was going to, but that’s another blog posting). This picture from the Minnesota Twins, though, totally got me…


It’s Mauer donning the tools of ignorance (as the old-timers call catching gear) one last time before his final appearance – the first time he appeared as a catcher since 2013. For me, it’s symbolic of “what could have been.” What could have been been had he not suffered all those injuries. What SHOULD have been. Or the ravages of time which robs us all of the advantages of our youth, denying us from doing things we want to do…what came so naturally to us for all those years, and then…those skills slipping through our fingers. As Charles Barkley says….Father Time always wins.

At the end, I’ll always be a Joe Mauer fan-boy. If only because the night before I took the bar exam in 2006, I was freaking out. I wound up turning on the Twins-White Sox game (they were playing in Chicago) to settle myself down, and like the home run I remember so well that I detailed earlier, he hit another. This one brought the Twins back, and gave us a lead we’d never surrender that game. For whatever reason, watching that home run calmed me, and convinced me everything was going to be ok. And I passed. Thanks Joe for being the most majestic baseball player I’ve ever seen, for being a great role model for all those kids, for the way you tried to bring your best every game, even when your body was failing you, and for being a beacon for me personally during the bar exam storm….







Summer Dating Potpourri and Weird-Ass Shit…..

So, like, it’s been an entire summer since I last checked in with everyone. And that last sentence sounds like a….death sentence (see what I did there with “sentence”???). Summer is over. August 1 is like the two-minute warning for summer. And we ain’t got no time-outs and Tom Brady from the Patriots-Falcons Super Bowl from a few years ago ain’t our QB [also, my Wing-Man Extraordinaire (we’ll call him Hank…and if you’re him, you’ll appreciate that) who up and moved to NYC on me a year ago texted me this picture a few weeks ago to bolster my confidence after I was venting about my dating luck, and it totally helped…



Back to me whining about winter. Winter is coming. As my sister noted to me tonight….Fall beckons. Game over. For all you Fall apologists who say that Fall is beautiful, pumpkin spice everything, apple orchards, leaves changing, crisp morning air, football, blah blah blah, I invite you to think back to the movie Titanic and all the violinists playing on the deck. The music is totally beautiful, but it’s about to get really damn cold, really damn quick.  [side note: I remember that I saw the movie while I was living in DC with my good dude friend LZ (who is worth a blog post all by himself…including all the other cats I hung out with in DC and you know who you all are…), and we thought it was going to more of an action movie, and we got there…and it was all couples on date night with Celine Dion breathlessly crooning softly in the background. Awkward.][I also knew someone back in the day who asked me if I was going to see the movie, and I was all like “I don’t know. I mean, the ship hits an iceberg and sinks in the end, right?” And she got pissed at me for being a spoiler……].

So, anyway. Winter sucks. And the summer is coming to end. But intrepid reader, I haven’t been on dating hiatus during the summer. No ma’am/sir. With the optimism of Memorial Day and feeling like the summer was unfurling in front of me, I fired up the ole’ Tinder/Bumble/Match apps, rebooted the profiles, and off we went.

But dear reader. I’m here to report that WEIRD SHIT is going down. Even as we speak/type (or as you read….you get my drift). I think it’s because Mercury has been in retrograde for much of the Summer (more on that later….). Here’s the madcap recap (again…see what I did there with the “cap” alliteration? You only get this literary hocus-pocus right here….).

• General Mills Girl: Sometimes you recycle dates. It’s just the sustainable thing to do. I went out with this woman two years ago, and we had a good first date. She worked at General Mills, and she was totally a company woman. She had just accepted this new job, and was traveling a bunch, and when she wasn’t traveling, she was tethered to her laptop designing the Next Great Powerpoint  (or as we called them at the Bullseye…a deck. Fuck, I hated that term…) to advance her business forward. Anyways, she disappeared for a few weeks, and then asked to schedule something two weeks out, because…work. I said fine. Then two hours before we were supposed to meet up on a Sunday night, she texted that she need to work on a Powerpoint for work, and could stay only for a 45 minutes or so, but it would be neato to have a break from work. I basically said “Fuck that” and said it sounded like she had zero time in her life to date someone. This triggered something, because I got about 10 lengthy texts from her lamenting her life, she’s too busy at work, she’s struggling in life, doesn’t know how to divide her life between work and personal life. I wished her luck, advised her that General Mills would cut her corporate throat in a heartbeat if it suited them in the least, and she needed to bear that in mind (I speak from personal experience on that point, trust me). She said thanks for the advice, and that was that.

So, with that context, guess who the first Bumble girl that popped was during the great dating profile reboot? Ding ding! That’s right. General Mills Girl. So, we start talking, and she apologizes profusely for being such a flake two years ago, that’s she thought of me a bunch, and really would like a second chance. I’m all about second chances (which unfailingly has gotten me into trouble at all possible junctures, but I remain an optimist), and I agree to meet up.

We check out a brewery in Northeast Minneapolis, and she lived up to her General Mills Girl moniker. She spent the first hour lamenting (in excruciating detail) operational issues she was facing at a plant in Iowa, and then the latest executive changes at the company and her forecasting how that all affected her rise at the company. I wanted to ask how it felt to work for a 100-year company which has basically been brought to its knees by a bunch of Millennials who didn’t want to wash out a cereal bowl, but I bit my tongue.

In the end, she asked precisely two questions about me: What I was doing for the Fourth of July, and where my sister lived. So the only new information she gleaned about me after a two-hour+ date was that I was hanging out at my friend C’s home to watch fireworks and that my sister lived in Shakopee.

On to the next…

• Online Learning Expert Girl: I went out with a totally interesting woman who was an online learning expert. She was a bit older than me (46?), had three kids and was just getting back into the dating game. She asked me about something wild I had done, and I told her about the time that I went on vacation to Cabo with my Mom, Sister, Bro-in-Law and Nephew (and it’s a totally fun story how I won the trip…I got drunk at a charity auction and wanted to launch a preemptive strike against a woman in attendance who had broken up with me the year before who was totally money-driven, and I proceeded to bid on everything. I wound up with a stay at the Zappos.com’s CEO’s condo in downtown Vegas and a week-long stay in a villa in San Jose del Cabo. She came over to me afterwards, and said she didn’t like Vegas, but would if I was looking for someone to have sex with in Cabo, she was game to go. And she was serious. And no, she didn’t go with me, but we totally made out that night, so there’s that), and I wound up meeting this girl on Tinder from Mexico City who was there on vacation, and she invited me out with her cousin to see Cabo, so I snuck out after my family went to bed, they picked me up, and we drove around Cabo, we stopped at a convenience store and I chatted up the Federales who were there hanging out with M-16’s slung over their shoulders, and then we went back to her cousin’s house (who lived in Cabo) to have birthday cake, and then they dropped me off at home, and they were totally fun, and I’m still friends with her on Facebook, and it turns out she’s one of Mexico’s foremost anti-poverty advocates. Her wild story? She once took off her bra through her shirt at book club held on a restaurant patio. She texted me a few days later and said she didn’t think we our lifestyles were compatible.

But there’s more…

• The Life Coach: I went out on two dates with a life coach (and let’s face it, we all know I could use a life coach). The first date went awesome. We went to a cool wine bar in South Minneapolis called St Genevieve. It turns out she’s literally allergic to everything (including alcohol). And a huge shout-out to the staff there. It took her about 10 minutes to order, since she needed to ensure that the meal could be prepared without any stuff she was allergic to. They were so incredibly patient with her, and very caring. So, I encourage all of you to spend money there. Plus, Kate Upton and Justin Verlander have been known to hang out there. I’m just saying.

So, the date goes well, and I invite her to go boating on the following Saturday afternoon on Lake Minnetonka (I’d gotten a last second boat through my boat club). She agreed, and we had a date. At the end, she was talking about how she was trying to branch out with dating and have new experiences, including going to a soccer game (put a pin in this one).

So, she texts me the day before boating, and she forgot she had a late-afternoon hair appointment, and couldn’t make it, but wanted to see if I could do brunch on Sunday. I say fine (narrator’s voice: She was totally giving you the “I need to wash my hair excuse”).

We get together for brunch, and it’s like I’m dating an entirely new person from the first date, and not in a great way (which has happened to me more times than I can count, I even have a name for it now…the Jekyll/Hyde Effect…it usually happens when they’ve met someone between dates with me, and they’re just there going through the motions because they committed to it…which is basically the ninth level of hell of dating. The professional equivalent is writing corporate goals/objectives for the coming year).

We sit down, and the bartender in a very welcoming way sets down two waters. She snaps at the bartender “I didn’t ask for water. I’d like club soda instead.” I shoot her a look that basically says “There were better ways to handle that one.” She picks up that I’m annoyed, and notes that she’s just moved from California, and due to the water shortage there, you need to ask for water. I note that we’re not exactly hurting for water here (Land of 10,000 Lakes, right?), and that there’s a dam in Wisconsin about ready to burst since there’s so much water. Then we start talking about how the prior week (week of July 4) was so weird. I mentioned that it was awkward that July 4 fell in the middle of the week. Her response? “No! There’s serious planetary disruption occurring in the solar system. Mercury is in retrograde!” I had to bite my tongue, since the first words out of my mouth were going to be that I’m so glad that President Trump has proposed the Space Force, so we can LOCK DOWN THAT PLANETARY NONSENSE SHIT. Then we got into an argument over whether Apple Airpods were usable on planes (I said yes…she said no…and then she accused me of not turning my phone on airplane mode during the flight….and I do that religiously, but you can still have bluetooth on…and she didn’t believe me…and we bickered). Then the food showed up, and there was toast on her plate (and in her defense, she clearly asked for no toast). She threw a holy fit there was toast on the plate (she’s allergic to bread), and demanded it to be sent back. The restaurant was very accommodating, and things got sorted out. I asked her how her evening was the previous night, and she mentioned she was supposed to go to a soccer game, but it turns out it was an away game, so she walked some tightrope between two trees near Lake Calhoun. All of a sudden I recalled…..she mentioned that going to a soccer game was a date thing she was doing, and that she had probably double-booked herself for the night before, so I got the lame “hair appointment” excuse. Brian out. Once she finished her last bite, I asked for the bill, and rushed the date to conclusion.

And here’s the coup de grace…..

  • ATLDA Girl: So, this past spring I went out a few times with a girl who was younger than me. Like a lot younger than me. Probably inappropriately so. I won’t say how young, but she was at least Above The Legal Drinking Age (ATLDA).  We went out a few times, but I don’t think either of us was all that into it. The last time we hung out, she kinda-sorta drunk texted me asking me to pick her up from some formal thing, still wearing a formal dress (by the way, some of the best advice I’ve ever received is that if she’s not drunk-texting you from the bar, you’re not the one….), so I did, and we wound getting more drinks someplace, and then we went back to my place and finished off a bottle of wine, and both of us pretty much passed out (not proud, but it happens). So, we wake up the following morning, and all she’s got is the formal dress, which would have been the ultimate Walk of Shame, so I find her some gym shorts and my favorite t-shirt to wear (such a strategic mistake…), and I drive her back to her place, on the assumption that I’d see her again and get my favorite t-shirt back. No dice. I fly to NYC for a business trip the next day, and we text a bit, and then she doesn’t respond when I ask her how her day is going, so I figure we’re done, which is probably for the better. Both of us run silent, and that’s that. Clean break.

That’s rational Brian talking. Rational Brian is brilliant. Rational Brian uses the wealth of dating data points that he’s accumulated in his storied dating career, and makes a reasoned decision when it comes to dating choices. Rational Brian determined that ATLDA Girl was too young, and needed to experience the world and sow some oats, and not worry about some 43-year old dude, and that we were going to sacrifice my favorite t-shirt for this noble cause (plus, I’m pretty sure I can buy another one).

Then there’s Drunk Brian. Where Rational Brian ponders and deliberates………Drunk Brian executes.

And Drunk Brian struck a few weeks ago at a concert – Def Leppard/Journey to be exact. (“Photograph” by Def Leppard is easily in my Top 10 songs by the way). I went with some friends and their wives, and everyone was coupled up everywhere, and I was the rando single dude, and I was feeling lonely (to wit, on that same day, I had two women who were totally intriguing, and with whom I’d been chatting with through Bumble, email me within the span of three hours saying I was totally intriguing, and but they’d gone on this great first date the night before, and decided they needed to focus on the One-Date Wonder. Ouchies.). And I had been drinking. So Drunk Brian took over. Drunk Brian said it was time to check-in with ATLDA Girl. If only to negotiate the successful liberation of the favorite t-shirt she was presently holding hostage. So I texted her, she texted back. And we talked about getting a drink sometime so I could get my favorite t-shirt back. The next evening, Drunk Brian took hold again, and texted her around 10:00 on a Saturday night and asked whether she wanted to meet for a drink. She said sure, but was meeting someone for a drink for awhile, but could meet up afterwards, but only had an hour or so (which should have been my first red flag).

So, she texts me after awhile, and says she can meet, and I suggest someplace downtown near me. She says sure, and I offer my second garage spot to her so she wouldn’t have to worry about parking (which is a mess in the North Loop on a Saturday night), and we could walk over to the bar across the street.

We wound up just hanging at my place with a bottle of wine, and we caught up. Turns out she’s dating two different guys, one of whom she says is a “super high-up executive” who’s older than me. And she doesn’t talk about the other guy much. Whatever. We talk about what happened between us (she wanted to know why I disappeared, I wanted to know why she didn’t respond to my text message, and she wanted to know why I didn’t try harder). So we go down that rabbit hole.

Now, it’s important to understand the architecture of my place to fully grasp the next outrage perpetrated against me. I live on the North Loop’s most busy thoroughfare, with a kitschy garage door between my living room and patio, which is directly on the sidewalk of said thoroughfare. It’s an amazingly warm July night, so I have the garage door open. While we’re talking, some car pulls up across the street and starts revving the engine, real douche-like. I’m like “what the hell is that?” And she says “Oh, that’t the other guy I’m dating. I told him where I was at, and he’s coming by.” So, this random Bro From Blaine come strutting into my living room, and he’s giving me this “Who the hell are you” look, and I’m probably giving him the same look, and we’re instantly sizing each other up. Dear God.

In order to defuse the situation, I offer him a drink and try to be cordial. We formally chit-chat for a bit, and I give him a tour of my loft (it’s sweet, and it’s expensive, and I wanted him to understand the resources he was up against…because it was “on” at that point. Dudes will be dudes). They decide to leave, and she wants to get her car out of my garage. However, she’s pretty drunk at that point, and I don’t think she should be driving. I suggest she could leave her car in my garage, and come get it the next day. She agrees, and appears thankful. They leave.

The next day, she texts me around noon, and says she’s on her way. Awesome. She then texts she’s at the garage door, I go out there, and she’s in some T-Top Camaro thing with him and he’s waiting at the garage door. And she’s in the same dress that she was wearing last night. I open the door, he drives in, and in an obvious show of force, he parks right next to her car, and sits there and waits for her to get in her car, all the while staring at me. We awkwardly stand by her car, and it’s clear he won’t leave until she’s in her car. In other words, he’s making sure I don’t have a second alone with her. So we say goodbye, and that’s that.

We talk about getting a drink at some point afterwards (because I still want my favorite t-shirt back), but it doesn’t happen.

Then…weird shit happens. I’m in Sioux Falls last week, minding my own business. I get this text from her that says “I hear you were at JD Hoyt’s last night.” I indeed was in JD Hoyt’s that last night, and she wasn’t there. So, I’m all like How the Fuck did you know that??? She says “Little Birdies” and then fesses up that the older dude that she’s dating saw me. I’m all like “How does the older dude know who I am?????”

Then even more weird shit happens. Flash-back. One of the nights we went out, we went to the Freehouse to close the night. I remember she abruptly ended the evening after going to the bathroom, saying a friend was at the Pourhouse and was having trouble with a guy, and she need to be there for her. I’m like, cool. Be there for your friend.

Flash ahead to the evening with the Bro from Blaine. She’s telling me about the older dude, and says she met him at the Pourhouse that night. Ok, fine. Whatever.

Flash ahead to last week when I’m inquiring about how the older dude knows who I am. “He was at the Pourhouse that night.” I note that I wasn’t at the Pourhouse that night – she went there without me. Then it dawns on me. She’s confusing the Pourhouse for the Freehouse. “Do you mean the Freehouse?” ATLDA: “Yes.”

OMFG. This older douche totally met her while we were at the Freehouse together that night. I have no idea how this outright treachery happened. I don’t know if he made a move when I went to the bathroom, or whether he followed her when she left for the bathroom. I have not one fucking clue. And I don’t think I want to know the answers. All I know is that this older douche hangs out at my favorite spot (JD Hoyt’s. Try a margarita made by Sarah. In fact, ask her for a Sarahgarita. She’ll totally know what you’re talking about. You won’t regret it…and it may change your life…in a very positive way), and knows who I am, and I have no fucking clue who he is. I’ve been going through my mental tapes from that night (I went there after a Twins game), and it wasn’t busy. But I just can’t place him.

This aggression cannot stand.

This shit only happens to me.

All I want is my favorite t-shirt back.

And again. If you made it through this mini-treatise…I owe you a drink.






On Bat-Shit Crazy…..


Hey there dear reader! It’s been awhile. No great excuses on my part, other than I feel like I’ve been on the travel merry-go-around/time warp the last few months – my various ports of call in 2018 so far have been Philadelphia, Baltimore, Phoenix, Fort Myers, Sioux Falls, New York, Wilmington, Washington DC, Salt Lake City and some other places here and there. So, whatever. I’m back, and I’ll spare you further excuses (by the way, one of my favorite Tweets lately was someone bemoaning the fact that all of his emails apologizing for the delays in his response were all starting to sound like a Civil War soldier’s letters home….)

I’m still trying to figure out where I’m going with this blog, but I really want to start writing more, so I’ll share with you a tale of woe from my dating travails. I don’t want the blog to be exclusively devoted to recounting the Greatest Hits of my dating Titanic/Hindenburg-level train wrecks, but in order to get myself back in the writing mode, this one seems like a good batting practice pitch to start timing my swing again. Ladies and germs, I present to you…Bat-Shit Crazy Girl.

Flash-back. Stunning Tuesday evening in August 2016 [side note: August 2016 was a bellwether for close encounters with loony-tunes women, including one that was dancing topless on my balcony at 2:00am to Cold War Kids’ “First,” much to my great chagrin (seriously) and then stole a bottle of gin from me….but all in due time], and I have high hopes in the back of an Uber. I’m enroute to meet a woman who I’d met on Bumble, and we’re gonna rendezvous on one of the finest patios in the land – WA Frosts. Her bona fides were strong. She was a health-care compliance lawyer, owned a condo in Saint Paul, fairly witty and seemed totally legit [narrator’s voice: she was not legit]. I had done some pharmacy health-care compliance thingys back in my early days at the ole’ Bullseye, so I’m figuring at least we have something to talk about.

I’m about five minutes out, she texts me, and said she’s seated at a table on the patio. Awesome. I arrive, and start the always awkward dance of trying to find a person who you’ve never met, while everyone on the patio smells first-date like a pack of pirañas smell blood [sidenote: I went on a first date a few weeks ago, and I accidentally sat down at a table with the wrong woman. Awkward. She handled it with the style, grace and class. Hate the game, not the playa.]. But….I can’t find her.

I take a few laps through WA Frosts ginormous (and aesthetically gorgeous) patio, and I honestly don’t see her. I start to get a bit paranoid on whether we got our signals crossed regarding date venue. Then….I see someone waving at me.

But it’s not her. But….it’s her.  I’d seen the waver during my first lap, but had immediately decisioned that it wasn’t the person I was meeting, since she looked nothing like her.  And she looks nothing, NOTHING like her pictures. She looked great, but the difference was so stark, that I had literally walked right past her without a flicker of recognition.

Yet another side note. I’ve had this happen more times than I’d like to count. What’s up with this? I understand we all want to cast ourselves in the best light. That’s just human nature. But there comes a point where you feel like you’ve been lured someplace under false pretenses, and if they can’t be honest from the start, what the hell else is lurking just beneath the surface? That’s like me posting pictures of myself with TV anchor-level, top-shelf hair, and then me showing up bald (and I’m bald). I think there should be a legal cause of action for dating fraud (for you sane people who didn’t endure the blunt-force trauma of law school, you need a legal cause of action to sue someone. We lawyers spend a lot of time figuring out whether there’s a legal cause of action. I once had an outside counsel go on a 25-minute tangent advising me that there were numerous risks of class action lawsuits with a certain course of action, and when I finally got a word in edgewise and advised I didn’t think there was a legal cause of action provided by the applicable statute, he was all like…”Oh, you’re right.” He still had the nerve to bill me for both his time and the long-distance call). But that’s another outrage for another posting.

Anyway. I sit down. She’s clearly nervous, which makes me nervous. So, both of us are nervous. Never a productive mixture.

Both of us get a glass of wine, and have a generally nice conversation (not decidedly awesome, but fine). Chemistry is a fickle, fickle thing, and it’s certainly not finding this conversation, and we’re straining for things to talk about. At this point, I’m plotting my exit strategy, and she asks whether I want to get dinner. I’m famished, and a WA Frost burger sounds pretty wicked awesome at that point, so we order dinner. She asks whether I want a second glass of wine, and I say sure (gotta have something to wash down that delightful burger, right?).

She sips the second glass of wine. Cue the metamorphoses into……. Bat-Shit Crazy.

I swear, her eyes almost turned red. Maybe her head did a 360-degree swivel that could only be detected by an infrared camera (like the ones they used in Ghost Hunters to spot paranormal activity and shit back in the day).

Her eyes lock on me as we’re eating dinner. “You’re the most attractive man I’ve dated in a long time. I only live a few blocks away from here….perhaps we could get to know each other a bit more…intimately.” The crazy beast begins to stir……

As an aside, the Brian from like 5-6 years ago probably would have been all about this tryst. However, this was the war-torn Brian, who had looked into the eyes of crazy more times than he’d care to count,  and knew absolutely nothing good came of it. I recall a quote from the FDR Memorial in DC that’s always stuck with me – “I have seen war. I hate war.” Perhaps I could shamelessly borrow that and say “I have seen crazy. I hate crazy.” That’s probably an analogy in really poor taste, but let’s totally go with it for the time being.

So, I try to be polite about all of this. I point out that we’d had just met, and let’s talk more and enjoy the perfectly pleasant evening. Then…she attempts to be entice me more….and leans in to say…

“I have a fetish. Do you want to know what it is?” That’s basically akin to saying “I have juicy gossip about [insert co-worker or frenemy here]. Do you want to know it?” Of course you want to know it! The laws of physics so dictate the result. Defiance is mathematically impossible. So…I take the bait. I want to know it!

Her fetish? She likes to model lingerie for men. Doesn’t seem like much of a fetish to me. It’s kinda like you’re on a game show, and you pick the surprise in box #3, and you find out it’s cat litter.

She invites me again back to her place, so she can model various aspects of her boudoir to me. I politely decline, indicating that I’ve got an early morning tomorrow. I know what you’re thinking. I’m a fool. However, until you have someone ditch you at the bar for some writer who’s sitting next to you who notes that he writes “some fucked-up shit,” and then you head to the bar across the street to drown your sorrows, and then they enter said new bar and get kicked out by the bouncer for two of them promptly getting into a fist-fight with some rando, you don’t understand the dangers of dabbling in the dark arts of crazy. That way lies madness. Just trust me on this one. Ok?

However, she believes I’m playing hard to get, so she dials-up the noise. She then proceeds to invite herself to my place the next night so I can make her dinner, and while I’m conjuring some epicurean delight, she’ll model lingerie for me. [Ed. note: I have no idea how the hell the idea of me making her dinner took root within her. I can’t even boil water….I mean, my housekeeper ridicules me that she never has to clean my stove…she just needs to dust it. I literally think I’ve only turned on my stove twice (once by seeming accident) in my current place, and I’ve lived here nearly two years).

I politely indicate I have plans that next evening. She ain’t taking no for an answer. She wants to come over next Tuesday. I say fine, clinging to the jaws of life to extract me from this trainwreck and knowing I’ll be sending the “thanks, but no thanks” ditch text tomorrow.

But, the story doesn’t end there. Because, crazy can’t stop. Won’t stop.

We’re sitting across a square table from one another, basically 180 degrees from each other. She scoots her chair next to me, so we’re sitting next to each other. Note that when she scoots her chair, it scrapes loudly against the concrete. Did you know that the acoustics of WA Frost’s patio are such that when a chair scrapes against the concrete, it reverberates like a sudden tornado siren across the patio? So, we have all of our fellow patio patrons’ attention.

She then stands up, and proceeds to MOUNT me. Like she sits on my lap, her legs straddling mine, and commences a deep make-out session. Like, a go-in-for-the-kill make-out session. While we have everyone’s attention, of course.

I gently push her away, and gives me a pouty look. She notes in the most pouty voice possible “I thought you were into me as much as I’m into you.”  I indicate that we seemed to go from 0-90 rather quickly there. She gets up. LOUDLY scrapes her chair back to the original position, and suggest we get the check. The server must have seen this shit go down, because she magically appeared from nowhere like we had summoned her with a goddamn bat-shit crazy magic spell, with the bill. The bill never hit the table, since I had made the jump to hyperspeed to pay the bill and had my card at the ready. We paid, I walked her to her car. We awkwardly hugged, and that was that.

I walked back to my car, and ran into the couple that was sitting next to us. I apologized to them. [First time I’ve ever had to apologize to a civilian regarding a bad date. War is hell]. They laughed it off, and said they wondered “what was up there,” and noted she seemed a “bit off.” I couldn’t disagree.

She sent a very apologetic text later that evening, suggesting she shouldn’t have had that second glass of wine. I responded I understood and wished her good night. She then asked whether I wanted a picture of her in lingerie. I didn’t respond – on a parallel theory gleaned from the 80’s horror movie great “Fright Night,” which proclaimed that a vampire could only enter your house if you invited it in. I extrapolated that theory to bat-shit crazy, and that bat-shit crazy could only enter my life if I invited it in. Ergo, no response. It’s not a great theory. But, it’s a theory.

Hey, you made it this far! Let me know you that you indeed endured the entirety of this tome of a posting, and I’ll buy you a drink next time I see you.

Have a great weekend all!







First time’s a charm….

IMG_0286So, hi there. By popular demand (if only dreamily manufactured in my own head), here’s my very first blog entry.   Be gentle, gentle reader.

Also much like a Minnesota summer, this site will be under construction for an undetermined amount of time. However, I’ll never close off a lane without doing any work at all on it (I’m not MnDOT, after all).

I’ll keep it real (realz?), if you keep it real. Deal? Deal-o.

So, for realz, I really don’t know what I’m going to do with this blog quite yet. The strangest shit happens to me, and I’ve been encouraged/shoved to chronicle said strange shit in a blog (and if profanity offends you, my apologies. Yes, I know it’s a crutch for the ignorant. Yes, I know I’m (marginally) capable of so much more. But, it’s fun to swear,  and don’t be the fun police. Plus, it conveys so much more raw feeling than any other flowery word could. If the occasional well-timed F-bomb offends you, this blog ain’t for you, much like the shampoo aisle isn’t for the bald gent) (we’re writing all the parentheticals here) (full disclosure: I’ve a parenthesis fetish).

Or maybe I’ll write about baseball (nothing drips anticipation like a 3-2 count), or maybe we’ll wonk out with our Constitutions out when it comes to politics/public policy. Maybe I’ll share one of many occasional soul-crushing, yet objectively uproariously funny dating stories that have been inflicted upon me. Gather ’round the virtual campfire folks, because I have some tales to tell. And the names will be changed to protect the guilty. The Cookie Bandit. The OC Girl. Crazy Svetlana. The Gin Gypsy. The Vodka Vixen. The Sarah Show. The Gold Digger. The 22 Year Old. The CFO. Ms. October. The Jekyll and Hyde Who’s Now a Big-Shot in Minnesota Politics. And…the coup de grace…the Interior Design Girl – the girl who I fell madly and hopelessly for, who broke me in two, and I squarely blame Barak Obama for the break-up (bruh, I love you man, but you didn’t exactly do me a solid with that initial draft of the Wall Street Reform Bill of yours back in yonder 2009). But more on all that later, and all in good time….

For the uninitiated (by the way, one of my favorite movies is the Dark Knight Rises, and one of the quotes from that epic motion picture was from Bane..”Theatricality and deception, powerful agents to the uninitiated, but we are initiated aren’t we, Bruce?”…consider yourselves all initiated now), here are some tidbits about yours truly…

  • Hi! I’m Brian – 42 years old, raging bachelor (and candidly, I never thought I’d still be single at this point in my life. It bums me out), and connoisseur of the fried rice (hibachi fried rice is the best fried rice). Professionally, I’m an attorney who makes the world safe for gift cards. It’s as sexy as it sounds. I may have been the author of the legalese on the back of that gift card in your wallet.
  • Sitting at the bar > sitting at a table, Sammy Hager > David Lee Roth, Star Wars > Star Trek, Hash Browns > French Fries, Facebook > Twitter, Apple > Android, Baseball > Football,  Being an uncle, West Wing (Josh Lyman is a personal inspiration) and patios over everything else.
  • Speaking of the bar, some people are skilled in math and science. Or in the healing arts. My superpower? Being able to anticipate when bar-seats will open, or even more abracadabra, conjure them from thin-air. A bartender told me the other night that I was the greatest bar-fly ever. Not sure what that says about me or how I spend my time.
  • Another super-power? Being able to identify an 80’s song within three seconds of its opening. My Top five 80’s songs? Why funny you should ask. In no particular order: 1) Don’t Stop Believin’; 2) Heaven is a Place on Earth; 3) We Didn’t Start the Fire; 4) Livin’ on a Prayer; and 5) Boys of Summer…and a bonus one: 6) Africa. I’m also a fan of saying that something is in my “Top 10” without having the faintest clue what the other nine things might be.
  • I can’t boil water, I can’t pound a nail, and I had to outsource my house-cleaning. Yep. I’m the first to go when the zombie apocalypse hits. I’m all about society.

That’s probably enough doodling now. Thanks for sticking with this mini-treatise, and I’m totes looking forward to our literary adventures together. Talk to you soon.