Offbeat

Offbeat
12:00 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

VIDEO: Real-life Polar Express back on the tracks in Michigan

The Pere Marquette 1225 rolls into view in Owosso
Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

The steam engine that inspired the children's book The Polar Express and provided sounds for the movie version is back in service after a four-year refurbishment project.

The Pere Marquette 1225 rolled out of the garage Wednesday in Owosso, ringing its bell and spewing steam for train enthusiasts and volunteers gathered to watch the engine take its maiden voyage following the overhaul.

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Offbeat
12:12 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Are diverse, friendly neighborhoods possible? MSU research suggests the answer is "No"

Credit wikipedia

New research from Michigan State University suggests the less diverse a  neighborhood is, the more likely it will be neighborly.

Researchers looked at the relationship between neighborhood segregation, and the strength of social networks in a community.

They found that the more segregated a community, the more likely it is to be tight-knit.

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Offbeat
7:27 pm
Sun November 10, 2013

Video: homeless Michigan veteran gets a makeover

This video chronicling the makeover of a Michigan homeless veteran has been viewed millions of times online.

The nearly three-minute video featuring Jim Wolf of Grand Rapids has gotten more than 5 million clicks on YouTube as of Saturday.

The time-lapse video was produced by community event organizer Rob Bliss with support from a nonprofit group helping homeless veterans.

Offbeat
11:06 am
Fri November 1, 2013

This twenty pound carp could be your new Ann Arbor city council representative

The face of your future city council representative? Only time will tell.
Credit Natural Area Preservation staff

You read that right.

A twenty pound carp that was pulled out of a pond in Ann Arbor's West park last November is making a run for city council.

The carp was initially removed from the pond because it was destroying the ecosystem.

Ann Arbor Natural Area Preservation workers relocated it to the Huron River, where it is now running a write-in campaign for Ann Arbor City Council.

The carp has not yet responded to our interview requests, but it has engaged with other media outlets and even some current Ann Arbor City Council members on Twitter. (I suspect the carp has hired a social media director -- tweeting with fins seems difficult.)

The carp says the campaign is going well, and even has yard signs posted around town.

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Offbeat
10:56 am
Thu October 31, 2013

You're never going to have a costume scarier than these

Halloween decorations are awesome.
user: Sarah_Ackerman Flickr

Mount Rushmore, one of our great nation's most iconic monuments was finished 72 years ago today. Harry Houdini died 87 years ago today. 

But all of that is unimportant.

It is Halloween, and Americans have been getting ready for months. What better reason to shell out about $75 dollars on costumes, decorations and candy?  (Answer: so many things.) 

(If you're one of those people who is just scanning this article for the scary costumes, scroll down.)

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Stateside
3:27 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Ann Arbor has its own Death Cafe

Merilynne Rush
LinkedIn

It's probably safe to say most of us shy away from thinking about and talking about death.

As medical science has developed the technology to keep us alive longer it seems we have become more and more squeamish about death itself, even though - you got to admit - it is the one thing in life that happens to each and every one of us.

There is a movement trying to change that: the Death Café. Merilynne Rush is a home funeral guide, and she has brought the Death Café to Ann Arbor.

Listen to the full interview above.

Offbeat
2:37 am
Fri October 25, 2013

December implosion planned for Flint's tallest building

Genesee Towers, Flint, Michigan (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - An implosion planned for December is taking down Flint's tallest building.

Uptown Reinvestment bought downtown Flint's 19-story Genesee Towers in March from the city for $1.

Multiple news outlets are reporting Jacksonville, Fla.-based Drilling & Blasting will handle implosion engineering and blasting efforts, with help from Michigan-based Burnash Wrecking Inc. and Certified Abatement Services Inc.

The demolition is part of a $32 million redevelopment plan.

Offbeat
2:09 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Watch the Ohio State Marching Band bring Michael Jackson to life

MJ taking shape.
Ohio State TV YouTube

Marching bands around the nation, be warned. Ohio State has taken it up a notch.

Scroll to 4:12 to see Michael Jackson take shape, and then... moonwalk!

It shows what you can do with 230+ band members - or "pixels" for those in the stands.

It's cool and all, but Michigan has a jet pack guy!

(H/T HuffPo Detroit)

Offbeat
1:08 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Do you really belong in Michigan? Take this test to find out

I don't think I belong in Georgia.
Time Magazine

Researchers studied certain psychological traits across the country and found that Michiganders are fairly agreeable and extroverted (we rank 16th) and somewhat neurotic (we rank 27th).

All of this is according to a study called "Divided We Stand: Three Psychological Regions of the United States and Their Political, Economical, Social, and Health Correlates," published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Time Magazine posted the test so anyone can see where they belong based on their personality.

The researchers say this study could challenge how we think about our country (by voting patterns, cultural stereotypes, and economic indicators) and regroup Americans based on their psychological tendencies.

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Offbeat
12:36 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Ohio State University to get serious on game days

An example of an MRAP vehicle (not OSU's).
user jonballard Flickr

Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles were designed to resist improvised explosive device attacks.

Something police forces in the U.S. would rarely have a need for.

But the police force for Ohio State University says they’ll likely use their newly-acquired MRAP on football game days in Columbus.

More from the Lantern:

OSU often borrows vehicles of similar quality to serve previously listed purposes during large events like football gamedays, Denton said.

It will serve primarily as a mode of transportation and protection for University Police, Denton said. He added the vehicle will be used if a situation arises but will primarily be used in instances where University Police has a strong presence, such as gamedays, Denton said.

“The Game” just got real.

Offbeat
5:09 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

8 Great 'Shutdown Pickup Lines'

The fun has begun.
Twitter

Originally published on Tue October 1, 2013 12:32 pm

When a government shutdown loomed in 2011, the Twitterverse had some fun with #govtshutdownpickuplines.

They're back!

Here are some of the better, slightly naughty ones we're seeing (we also also checked #shutdownpicklines):

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Offbeat
9:00 am
Tue October 1, 2013

A tale of two households, and the complicated reality of living in Detroit

Jen Janke and kids.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

It’s no secret that Detroit is much smaller than it used to be.

The city’s population peaked at a little under two million people in the 1950s. It’s declined steeply since then, to about 700,000.

People are still leaving the city. But the rate is slowing, as some people discover new reasons to move in.

Here’s a story about two Detroit households moving in opposite directions — and the different forces tugging on the city’s population.

“We really felt led to live here”

At Jen Janke’s house, conversations can get a little sidetracked.

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Offbeat
11:51 am
Mon September 30, 2013

GVSU officials say sculpture used in ‘wrecking ball’ parody videos will be reinstalled soon

Nicci Joyce
https://vine.co/v/h1H3leHbvKK Nicci Joyce

This week officials at Grand Valley State University will begin meeting to consider how to reinstall a sculpture that became the subject of several viral videos this month.

GVSU removed the steel pendulum a few weeks ago after several students posted videos online of friends trying to swing on the sculpture. The parodies of Miley Cyrus’ music video “Wrecking Ball” attracted national news media attention.

“It is somewhat of a fun story. It's college students being college students,” said Tim Thimmesch, associate vice president for facility services at GVSU.

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Offbeat
10:27 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Jim Leyland and Jim Schwartz display two ways to celebrate a win for Detroit

After a win, Jim Leyland moonwalks, while Jim Schwartz smashes his headset.
screengrabs FoxSports video

It's not exactly an apples to apples comparison.

The Detroit Tigers had just clinched a division title after a long season, and the Detroit Lions had simply won a game, but the two different ways the head coaches of Detroit's major sports teams celebrate a win does show something about their personalities.

Here's the "Jim Leyland moonwalk" making the rounds online (You can scroll to 1:25 to see the moonwalk, but his heartfelt 'thank you' to his players, staff, and fans is worth watching. - you can follow this link if the video doesn't load below):

And here's the "Jim Schwartz headset throw" going around the net (the Lions had just beaten the Washington Redskins - follow this link if the video doesn't load below):

Maybe it's just the difference between baseball and football.

H/T to Tony Brown.

Offbeat
12:10 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

Photos of Detroit's RoboCop statue surface, and the Tweets that started it all

*Not the statue
snapsnot from funnyordie.com

Philadelphia has Rocky, Minneapolis has Mary Tyler Moore -- and soon, Detroit will have RoboCop.

It's just a model of the statue, but you can get a sense for it.

Julie Hinds of the Detroit Free Press describes it this way:

Seeing the 10-feet-tall model for the RoboCop statue drives home the enormity of both the statue and the effort that is bringing the project to life.

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Offbeat
6:21 pm
Sat September 14, 2013

Demolition crews bring down part of a downtown Jackson landmark, sparing another

The tower of steel and concrete comes crashing to earth, missing First Congregational Church.
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

After days of worry, demolition crews successfully brought down part of one downtown Jackson landmark without damaging another.

Demolition crews have spent months gutting the old Consumers Energy headquarters in Jackson.

But Thursday, part of the building started leaning precariously toward a century and a half old church next door.  First Congregational Church and other nearby buildings were evacuated as a precaution.

 

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offbeat
1:17 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

Did 2,099 boaters (and one goose) on Suttons Bay break a world record? It's under review.

A lot of people floating on Suttons Bay, but a record?
Lucy Perkins Michigan Radio

On Saturday, August 31, paddlers gathered in Suttons Bay, Michigan to try and break the world record for the largest number of boats touching each other in a body of water. 

I was one of those paddlers. (To see the goose, scroll through the photos above.)

The number to beat was 1,903, which was set in Inlet, New York. 

Paddlers in Suttons Bay tried to break the record last year, but came up short with only 1,750 boats. 

This year, we paddled between two motorboats as we were counted. Then we just drifted together. Planes and remote-controlled cameras flew over us, taking pictures. 

As the cameras flew, shouts echoed across the lake. "Everybody hold on to somebody!" Then, the unofficial count was announced. 2,099! Suttons Bay broke a world record!

Well -- maybe.

Right now, Suttons Bay Floatilla officials are waiting to see if we were disqualified.

After all the boats paddled together, the cluster floated around a motor boat that was moored in the bay. If any of the kayaks or canoes were touching the motor boat, we are disqualified. 

Guinness World Records officials are reviewing the materials now.

To put the number in perspective, Suttons Bay High School has less than 350 students. The village itself (Suttons Bay is too small to be a town) only has 610 residents, according to the 2010 Census. 

2,099 people might not seem like a big group to you, but it's a lot for us. And its enough to break a world record. 

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Offbeat
10:55 am
Wed September 4, 2013

Michigan's "Fightin' Fifth" Rep. Dan Kildee on Colbert Report

Stephen Colbert 'vogueing' Michigan U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee.

In last night's Colbert Report on Comedy Central, Stephen Colbert featured an interview with U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (MI-5th - D), in his segment "Better Know a District."

In the course of the segment, Colbert "vogue's" Kildee, 'does' some sugar beet sugar, and steals Kildee's wallet.

Have a look:

(If the video doesn't load for you - follow this link)

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Video Archive

Offbeat
10:13 am
Wed August 21, 2013

Michigan is a nice, underrated, and overall mediocre state according to this poll

We like you, Michigan.

1,603 people responded to a Business Insider poll about standout qualities of each state in the U.S. 

Does Michigan have a weird accent? No. But Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, and Louisiana do. 

Best food? Not even close. But apparently South Carolina weirdly has better food than we do. What do people in South Carolina even eat?

Worst food: Alaska.  Ah, yes. In this category, Michigan barely scrapes by. We don't have the best eats, but we don't have the worst.

The vaguely sweeping categories of "greatest state" and "craziest state" and "state with the hottest residents" was won by California, while Texas takes the cake as the "worst state." What does that mean?

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Offbeat
12:12 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

'Practice bomb' on sidewalk in Port Huron found to be safe

Robert Gratton talking on video to a Times Herald reporter.
screen grab Times Herald

Police got a little nervous yesterday when a man showed them a bomb he said he found when diving in Lake St. Clair.

Here's how it went down, according to the Times Herald:

Port Huron Police Sgt. Dave Seghi said a Port Huron man came into the police department around 12:30 p.m. to explain that he had found the object on the bottom of Lake St. Clair and would be taking it home.

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