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The Interstate Limburger War of 1935

"Burkhard challenged Miller to a 'Cheese Duel': Burkhard and Miller would sit at a table, and if Burkhard could cut a piece of Limburger cheese and Miller not wretch, Miller would be forbidden from complaining about Wisconsin and her cheese ever again." [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Aug 11, 2014 - 44 comments

Important Public Service Announcement

Idaho and Iowa are two different states. Here is a song to help you tell them apart. [more inside]
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious on Jul 5, 2014 - 77 comments

There's no place like [home].

Hello, [insert tv market name]!! A collection of the ‘Hello News’ package produced by Gari Communications, sold to various TV networks, nationwide (and Australia.) Hello Bonus 1: Florence Warner sings “Hello Nashville” live, accompanied by the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. Hello Bonus 2: The Osmonds record a “Hello Utah” promo.
posted by Room 641-A on May 11, 2014 - 15 comments

Oh God, we don't have to build a football field now, do we?

That's right folks, Field of Dreams is 25 years old. W.P. Kinsella reflects on how his novel "Shoeless Joe" was adapted into the timeless baseball/father-son movie, including how he made peace with the studio changing the name of J.D. Salinger's character. [more inside]
posted by dry white toast on Apr 21, 2014 - 89 comments

I thought I’d moved beyond my days of Panicking in Northeast Iowan Malls

"Girls who wanted to be my friend wanted to help me get better at being a girl. Like a Bridget Jones-esque makeover montage, I let them burn my forehead with curling irons, poke me in the eyes with eyeliner pencils, and look me up and down in dressing rooms. I was so thrilled for the friendships I was convinced I enjoyed the forehead burning (my same friend, always burning me in the same place, before every quarterly Junior High dance, as reliable as the changing of the seasons). What began in early adolescence– genuine friendships forged through drag-like gender performance– continued well into adulthood." -- Molly Knefel writes about growing up gender nonconforming.
posted by MartinWisse on Feb 24, 2014 - 26 comments

How Iowa Flattened Literature

How Iowa Flattened Literature
The Iowa Writers’ Workshop emerged in the 1930s and powerfully influenced the creative-writing programs that followed. More than half of the second-wave programs, about 50 of which appeared by 1970, were founded by Iowa graduates. Third- and fourth- and fifth-wave programs, also Iowa scions, have kept coming ever since. So the conventional wisdom that Iowa kicked off the boom in M.F.A. programs is true enough. [...] Over the past 40 years, creative writing’s small-is-beautiful approach has served it well, as measured by the discipline’s explosive growth while most of its humanities counterparts shrink and cower. The reasons for this could fill many essays. For one thing, creative writing has successfully embedded itself in the university by imitating other disciplines without treading on their ground. A pyramid resembles a pedagogy—it’s fungible, and easy to draw on the board. Introductory math and physics professors like to draw diagrams too, a welcome analogy for a discipline wishing both to establish itself as teachable and to lengthen its reach into the undergraduate curriculum, where a claim of pure writerly exceptionalism won’t cut it.

posted by deathpanels on Feb 10, 2014 - 35 comments

The Pareto of our Discontent

College football attracts a lot of rabid fans. Of late, college football (and football in general) has also attracted an increasing number of stats enthusiasts peddling increasingly obscure metrics to quantify success and failure. At MGoBlog, a popular Michigan fan blog, one intrepid poster has turned the statistics tools on the fanbase itself. A Season in Profanity details the usage of various swear words in open game threads. Among the relationships detailed are the usage of various colorful expressions by game, mood of the fan base by opponent, swearing efficiency, which coach(es) should be fired, and even the individual play outcomes that inspired the greatest amount of swearing. As it was kind of a rough season for the team, there was a substantial amount of data to comb through. [more inside]
posted by Existential Dread on Dec 17, 2013 - 13 comments

You don't win friends with salad

Iowa State Fair officials have announced 10 new food options for the 2013 fair, in addition to the eight announced earlier this month. These include maple bacon funnel cake and deep fried prairie oysters, and join old favorites including deep fried butter on a stick, pork chop on a stick, and over 60 other foods (on a stick). [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Jul 22, 2013 - 130 comments

Lincoln Highway, the first (attempt at a) transcontinental US highway

On July 1, 1913, a group of automobile enthusiasts and industry officials established the Lincoln Highway Association "to procure the establishment of a continuous improved highway from the Atlantic to the Pacific, open to lawful traffic of all description without toll charges," and to be a lasting memorial to Abraham Lincoln. The Lincoln Highway efforts started about three years before the first federal road act would provide funding to states to improve the broad network of roads. Never officially finished, the first transcontinental highway eventually became renumbered as various interstate and US routes. To celebrate its centennial, there was a cross-country tour in June. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jul 17, 2013 - 33 comments

Tiny eagles eating fish

At Alcoa's Davenport, Iowa facility two eaglets (of the bald variety) have hatched; the whole internets can watch live on Alcoa's eaglecam.
posted by IvoShandor on Mar 20, 2013 - 39 comments

Canoeing down the Mississippi

Between July 28 and November 10, 2003, Ron Haines canoed down the entire length of the Mississippi. Eight years later, he wrote it up as a series of blog posts with lots of interesting photos and observations: Lake Itasca to Minneapolis-St. Paul. Minneapolis-St. Paul to St. Louis. St. Louis to New Orleans. He also wrote up his logistics and some of the press coverage he got along the way. [more inside]
posted by jiawen on Mar 16, 2013 - 13 comments

Freedom From Famine - The Norman Borlaug Story

A documentary film about Norman Borlaug, the Iowa farm boy who saved over a billion people from starvation. (1:06:47) Americans have little knowledge of one of their greatest sons. Why do schoolchildren in China, India, Mexico, and Pakistan know the name and work of Nobel Peace Prize winner [His speech] Norman Borlaug while so few of his countrymen have never heard of him? How did a dirt-poor farm boy from rural Iowa grow up to save a billion people worldwide from starvation and malnutrition and become the father of the Green Revolution? What were the inherited traits and environmental factors that shaped his astonishing journey and led to successes that surprised even him? What can we learn from his life and views that might help the human race survive the next critical century? [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Jan 28, 2013 - 84 comments

Grinnell College's Jack Taylor scores All-NCAA record 138 points

Yes, he only shot 48% from the floor, but last night, Jack Taylor, a sophomore guard from Div. III Grinnell College in Iowa, set a new men's NCAA basketball scoring record (on any level) by dropping in 138 points in Grinnell's 179-104 win over Faith Baptist Bible. This is the "insane" boxscore. You know a player has a big game when an opposing player (Faith Baptist Bible's David Larson) scores 70 points and becomes a footnote. So how'd he do it? [more inside]
posted by spock on Nov 21, 2012 - 63 comments

Bad, Bad Lori Arnold

How comedian Tom Arnold's little sister Lori started the Midwest meth epidemic. (NSFW Playboy link: Instapaper, Readability mirrors.) [more inside]
posted by nicebookrack on Jul 16, 2012 - 98 comments

Who Killed the Family Moore, why and what's the reason for?

The Ax Murderer Who Got Away - Shortly after midnight on June 10, 1912—one hundred years ago this week—a stranger hefting an ax lifted the latch on the back door of a two-story timber house in the little Iowa town of Villisca. [more inside]
posted by IvoShandor on Jun 11, 2012 - 14 comments

We’re going to be guided by our sense of what’s right as people.

What We Left Out of Our Report About a Baby Who Died (And Why). The regional editor of Iowa's Urbandale Patch eloquently explains the reasoning behind the the paper's decision not to post the wrenching 911 call made when a 19-month-old baby had stopped breathing.
posted by shiu mai baby on Jun 5, 2012 - 30 comments

Revenge of the Anti-Romney

After interminable months of campaigning, debates, and roller-coaster polling, the first official vote of the 2012 presidential race is in -- and boy, is it a doozy. Ames straw poll winner Michele Bachmann placed second-to-last, while former juggernaut Rick Perry performed so badly he's canceled upcoming events and is said to be on the verge of dropping out. Meanwhile, perennial laughingstock Rick Santorum, consolidating the support hemorrhaging from Perry, Bachmann, and an ad-blitzed Newt Gingrich, rocketed past the youth- and independent-backed Ron Paul and, with 99% of the vote counted, is separated from Mitt Romney by four votes out of ~120,000 -- by far the closest result in caucus history. As the shaken field contemplates the path ahead through Romney firewall New Hampshire, conservative South Carolina, Florida, Super Tuesday, and beyond, President Obama staged a quiet redux of his own dramatic caucus win four years ago, a dry run for the looming general election. And as for powerhouse Buddy Roemer? Don't worry -- his team is ready to do battle with evil.
posted by Rhaomi on Jan 3, 2012 - 277 comments

Social conservative senator polling well.

Santorum surges from behind in Iowa. With the countdown to the Iowa Caucuses entering its final hours the GOP race remains in a dead heat. Polls show the unlikely campaigns of social conservative Senator Rick Santorum and libertarian leaning Representative Ron Paul in surprisingly strong positions to challenge Governor Mitt Romney for the opening victory in the Republican primary season. Both Paul and Santorum have focused heavily on traditional retail politics in the Hawkeye State.
posted by furiousxgeorge on Dec 30, 2011 - 366 comments

Observations From 20 Years of Iowa Life

“Those who stay in rural Iowa are often the elderly waiting to die, those too timid (or lacking in educated) to peer around the bend for better opportunities, an assortment of waste-toids and meth addicts with pale skin and rotted teeth, or those who quixotically believe, like Little Orphan Annie, that ‘The sun’ll come out tomorrow.’”

Just ahead of the Iowa Caucus, New Jersey native turned University of Iowa Professor Stephen Bloom has published a piece in The Atlantic that has caused quite a stir in the heartland. The piece, which is very critical of the Hawkeye State and her inhabitants, has a lot of Iowans on the defensive, with one article calling Bloom the "Michelangelo of hick-punching." Stephens has said the "feedback has been frightening," but he stands by his story. Perhaps a 1971 Harper's piece on Iowa captures the state with a bit more nuance.
posted by Lutoslawski on Dec 13, 2011 - 134 comments

(That's 9% Income Tax, 9% Sales Tax, 9% Corporate VAT)

Effect of Herman Cain's proposed "9-9-9" tax reform plan on average household tax liability. Cain is leading the field of GOP Presidential candidates in polls of Iowa, South Carolina and Florida. Previously 1 2
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on Oct 20, 2011 - 283 comments

Try the corndogs!

Rep. Michelle Bachmann has won the Ames Straw Poll. Rep. Ron Paul came in a close second. This poll, though undemocratic, has a fairly good predictive track record. Since 1979, the winner or runner up has gone on to win the Iowa caucuses each time. [more inside]
posted by furiousxgeorge on Aug 13, 2011 - 457 comments

Butter cow sculptor, Norma Lyon, passes away at 81

Norma Lyon, the "butter cow lady" whose sculptures were a primary Iowa State Fair attraction for decades, died of a stroke early Sunday.
posted by Foam Pants on Jun 27, 2011 - 31 comments

Iowa loophole voids mortgage

Matt and Jamie Danielson, with the aid of their bankruptcy attorney, were able to use a little known loophole in the Iowa law to void their mortgage and own their house outright after making just one payment. However, further investigation has uncovered some unsavory events in the couple's past.
posted by reenum on Apr 21, 2011 - 60 comments

Free, High-Quality Musical Instrument Samples

Do you need a free library of high-quality, carefully-recorded samples of a wide variety of musical instruments? The University of Iowa Electronic Music Studios' Musical Instrument Samples page has got you covered, from alto flute to violin. [more inside]
posted by jedicus on Mar 31, 2011 - 32 comments

You are your life and nothing else, pig rider.

Jonathan Gourlay explores Minecraft, an ugly game with no point and endless possibility.
posted by The Whelk on Feb 21, 2011 - 173 comments

As a matter of conscience and faith, they will treat you differently

A female has won a match for the first time at the prestigious Iowa State Wrestling Tournament . . . by default. Her opponent stated, “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Cassy and Megan (Black, the tournament’s other female entrant) and their accomplishments. However, wrestling is a combat sport and it can get violent at times. As a matter of conscience and my faith, I do not believe that it is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner. It is unfortunate that I have been placed in a situation not seen in most of the high school sports in Iowa.” [more inside]
posted by Muddler on Feb 17, 2011 - 448 comments

If you were my kid, I'd be proud.

19-year-old's testimony goes viral. 19-year-old Zach Wahls talks about his family at the Iowa gay marriage hearing. He's well-spoken, polite and compelling. Iowa passed a resolution that will let voters decide. I have something in my eye.
posted by Kitteh on Feb 2, 2011 - 53 comments

The Video Game Capital of the World

Ottumwa, Iowa has declared itself home to the International Video Game Hall of Fame and Museum. Where the town will obtain the money for the museum building and collection is currently an open question, but Ottumwa, home of Twin Galaxies (previously: 1, 2), the "official scorekeeper for the world of video game & pinball playing," is no stranger to stepping up to fill a void in the world of electronic gaming. [more inside]
posted by EvaDestruction on Aug 7, 2010 - 18 comments

Videoconferencing Is Used to Administer Abortion Drugs

Abortion Drugs Given in Iowa via Video Link. "The situation has played out hundreds of times. From his office here, a doctor asks a woman on the computer screen before him one final question: Are you ready to take your pill? Then, with a click of his mouse, a modified cash register drawer pops open in front of the woman seated next to a nurse in a clinic — perhaps 100 miles from this city — with mifepristone, the medicine formerly known as RU-486, that is meant to end her pregnancy." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Jun 9, 2010 - 46 comments

Leslie Hall

Gravel In My Shoe, Tight Pants / Body Rolls, Blame The Booty, and Craft Talk are the four most recent YouTube videos from Leslie Hall (previously, via)
posted by finite on May 29, 2010 - 23 comments

You're Wrong! No, You're Wrong!

5 Lesser Known (Completely Ridiculous) American Civil Wars, via Cracked. [more inside]
posted by Miko on May 26, 2010 - 45 comments

What if I haven’t earned my wings?

With 12-year old Maggie Wiederholt's permission, Quad City Times reporter Kay Luna and photographer John Schultz followed her and her family for several weeks as the terminally ill Walcott, Iowa girl faced death - and made choices about how to live.

Maggie's Choice is a heart-wrenching project that captures the last days of a young girl with with a rare form of Behcet's disease. [more inside]
posted by Lutoslawski on Apr 6, 2010 - 33 comments

March Madness History Edition: Girls Six-on-Six in Iowa

The national record (PDF) for the most career points scored in high school basketball is held by a woman: Lynne Lorenzen from Ventura High School. Lorenzen and her sisters played six on six basketball, a fast paced and high scoring game. Six on six was a great tradition in Iowa, surviving until 1993, when Oklahoma became the last state to have games. There is both a documentary and a book detailing the nuanced history of the game in Iowa.
posted by achmorrison on Mar 7, 2010 - 12 comments

K-E-Y! Y? Because We Will Bury You

Exactly 50 years ago today, Soviet Premier and Cold War Villain Nikita Khrushchev was denied a visit to Disneyland. He was in Southern California as part of a cross-country tour of the U.S.A.* (Can you imagine an enemy of the US doing that today?). The reasons for the denial? Security Logistics and Time Limitations (you have to devote a whole day for The Magic Kingdom). Instead, he visited a sound stage at 20th Century Fox (shooting "Can Can") and a housing development in a San Fernando Valley suburb. The next day, he got a warmer, but semi-stunned, reception in San Luis Obispo, CA. Not the only place that welcomed him. Farmers in Coon Rapids, Iowa were happy to show off American agriculture in an event recently commemorated.
*Look Inside book at Amazon link for more content. Also lots more coverage in the L.A. Times' Nostalgia Blog)
posted by wendell on Sep 19, 2009 - 32 comments

Full of LGBT, not RBHT!

First, there was the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck. Now, everyone's favorite super-premium conglomerate-owned sticking-to-its-righteous-roots ice cream company has transformed "Chubby Hubby" into Hubby Hubby (only in VT, only for September), in support of same sex marriage, which is legal in Vermont as of this month. No word yet whether Iowa-based Winnebago will follow suit with a specially-named RV.
posted by ericbop on Sep 3, 2009 - 46 comments

Everything's Better With Butter

'Artisanal butters' are favored and appreciated by cooks and gourmands -- especially those crafted by "garage entrepreneurs" from Maine [video]* and Vermont (churned by Diane St. Clair and favored by Thomas Keller at his noted restaurants, The French Laundry and Per Se). Butters from Canada, France, Ireland and elsewhere are also cherished. [more inside]
posted by ericb on Aug 2, 2009 - 36 comments

All Hail the Butter Cow

It's nearly state fair time and you know what that means - Butter Sculptures! Yes, year after year several fairs contract with artists to sculpt meltable works of art. Perhaps the most famous is the Iowa State Butter Cow, carved year after year since the early 1900s. Of course, with butter art comes rivalry. Not to be outdone, state fairs in Minnesota, Texas, New York...oh, the list is long...each display these chilled masterpieces. However, this year Iowa has taken the rivalry to a new level and not without controversy - The Iowa State Fair has decided that this year they will do a Butter Michael Jackson.
posted by Muddler on Jul 2, 2009 - 23 comments

I'm nobody, I'm the king of rock and roll

Los Marauders live on Public Access TV [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on May 4, 2009 - 4 comments

Vermont legalizes same sex marriage

Today, the Vermont Legislature voted to override Gov. Jim Douglas' veto of a bill allowing same sex marriage, making Vermont the 4th state in the nation (and the second state this week) to legalize same sex marriage. Vermont is the first state to do it legislatively; it happened in the other three states via court ruling.
posted by booksherpa on Apr 7, 2009 - 252 comments

Iowa overturns gay marriage ban

The Iowa Supreme Court has just unanimously declared the state's ban on gay marriage to be unconstitutional. "The decision strikes the language from Iowa Code section 595.2 limiting civil marriage to a man and a woman. It further directs that the remaining statutory language be interpreted and applied in a manner allowing gay and lesbian people full access to the institution of civil marriage." (full summary PDF) The ruling effectively legalizes same-sex marriage in the state of Iowa.
posted by XQUZYPHYR on Apr 3, 2009 - 221 comments

Requiem for the Mighty Wurlitzer

A recently divulged casualty of the Iowa floods (previously covered on Mefi here) is the Mighty Wurlitzer organ at the Paramount Theater. The pictures are pretty awful, and the video is even worse. If you grew up in Cedar Rapids any time in the last 80 years, you'll have heard the Wurlitzer on at least one occasion. Cedar Rapidians are vowing to "Return and Rebuild". [more inside]
posted by thanotopsis on Jun 20, 2008 - 5 comments

Not Loving That Dirty Water

Hoping for the best for Mefites in eastern Iowa. I was CR born and raised, and just watching the feed on KCRG is ...disturbing. It looks like the height of the Cedar River is estimated at 25.4 feet, and it hasn't crested yet. They've lost a railroad bridge downtown so far, and the news feed keeps tracking the rise of the river by standing outside the studio and watching the water approaching. [more inside]
posted by thanotopsis on Jun 12, 2008 - 53 comments

May 25 tornado, Parkersburg, Iowa

The (U.S.) National Weather Service has released its report on a strong tornado that occured in Iowa the evening of May 25th. On the evening of May 25th, 2008 a tornado rated at EF5 (estimated wind speed was around 205 MPH!!) obliterated half of the town of Parkersburg, Iowa. Eight people have died, and 70 were injured. Here is a PDF containing incredible pictures of the damage (taken by employees of the NWS during their survey). [more inside]
posted by ArgentCorvid on Jun 4, 2008 - 36 comments

A weakness for Iowa

…you are brilliant and subtle if you come from Iowa and really strange and you live as you live and you are always well taken care of if you come from Iowa. [more inside]
posted by quadog on Dec 18, 2007 - 52 comments

Generational politics

The times, they are a-changing? [pdf]: A Survey of Iowa State University Students' preferences in the presidential primaries. [spoilers inside] [more inside]
posted by orthogonality on Nov 27, 2007 - 47 comments

Giant Waves Over Iowa

Undular Bore Waves
posted by geos on Oct 19, 2007 - 17 comments

But what the heck / You're welcome / Join us at the picnic ...

The latest victory for gay rights occurs in ... Iowa?
posted by kyrademon on Aug 31, 2007 - 82 comments

Blandlands

Blandlands. Videoblogger Aaron Valdez (previously) has entered his minimalist phase. These short, wordless scenes of suburban landscapes are quiet meditations on beauty and decay. Great for people who don't have windows in their offices. Other Valdez offerings include The Life and Times of Robert Kennedy Starring Gary Cooper, America's Way, and Subterranean Homesick 41 Frame Delay Blues.
posted by roll truck roll on Feb 9, 2007 - 7 comments

The Creation in Krylon

Paco Rosic is nearing completion of a one-half scale replica of the Sistine Chapel in Waterloo, Iowa - all painted with about 2,000 cans of spray paint.
posted by madamjujujive on Oct 1, 2006 - 5 comments

"I am the only drunken pirate running for office in this great nation."

"I would have your wife right in front of you. I would smoke the last of your glaucoma medication. Then I will surely drink your liquor cabinet dry. However, know this my friend. I will never break an oath to uphold the public trust. My affidavit will be signed in my own blood. A Pirates crimson mark, with real binding effects into my after life. Laugh if you will then ask yourself if you could do it." James Hill is running for congress in Iowa's first district. He accepts no money from anybody.
posted by Navelgazer on Aug 25, 2006 - 54 comments

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