Offbeat

Stateside
5:46 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Michigan has its fair share of UFO sightings, but Ohio takes the cake

Flickr user © Stranger Flickr

An interview with Rudi Lindner, a professor of History and Astronomy at the University of Michigan.

If you are a baby-boomer who grew up in Michigan, chances are good you remember a particular point in time when you were out in your backyard, peering into the night sky, searching for UFOs.

For one week in March of 1966, Michigan was awash with reports of UFO sightings. Scores of people called police to report suspicious items in the sky. Ultimately, the Air Force dismissed these sightings as nothing more than "swamp gas," causing then-Congressman Gerald Ford to fire off an indignant statement, declaring that people deserved a better explanation than something as laughable as "swamp gas."

Rudi Lindner is a professor of History and Astronomy at the University of Michigan. He teaches a class called "Discovery of the Universe" that includes the history of UFOs.

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Offbeat
2:46 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Detroit's massive jar of Crisco up for sale on eBay

"The Vessel of Hope"
Jerry Vile

So... anyone need a four-foot-tall can of Crisco?

Last week, Detroit-based artist Jerry Vile left a present for his recently bankrupt hometown -- a massive can of Crisco, placed under the Monument to Joe Louis, better known as The Fist.

Now the installation, titled “The Vessel of Hope” is up for auction on eBay.

At last check, the Crisco’s current bid sits at $560, with 12 currently vying for the giant can (and no, there’s no Crisco inside it).

“This piece represents my peaking as an artist,” Vile said on the selling page. “I am most likely never going to be able to do anything that gets the kind of attention or hits the nerve that this did.”

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Offbeat
11:37 am
Thu August 8, 2013

Cleveland fans chant 'Detroit Bankrupt' at last night's game with Tigers

Progressive Field in Cleveland (where the hurtful chanting took place).
beraxe wikimedia commons

It was only a matter of time for opposing sports fans to strike at Detroit's soft spot.

During last night's MLB game with the Tigers' American League Central rivals, the Cleveland Indians, fans in Cleveland chanted "Detroit Bankrupt."

Take a listen (ignore the voiceover):

The Tigers got the last laugh.

They beat the Indians 6-5 in extra innings, extending their win streak to 11, and going another game up on Cleveland.

Jeff Wattrick at Deadline Detroit had some words for Cleveland fans - saying they love their sports teams --

But those teams just don't love them back. The Browns moved to Baltimore and won two Super Bowls as the Ravens, while the replacement Browns remain subpar. Lebron James' free agency signing with Miami sent Cleveland into a tailspin culminating with their sad attempt to claim the 2011 Dallas Mavericks' championship as their own. Then, there's the Indians. They haven't won a World Series since the 1940s. Also, Jose Mesa and the 1997 World Series.

Offbeat
12:02 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Man lands in Detroit after swimming 22 miles with a ton of bricks

Jim Dreyer, third from the left, and his team before he began the swim.
Jim Dreyer's Facebook page Facebook

He very well may be the first shark in Lake St. Clair -- and certainly the first one hauling a ton of bricks.

Long-distance swimmer, motivational speaker, and Michigan native Jim Dreyer -- who calls himself “The Shark” -- finished up a 22-mile swim today from Algonac to Belle Isle. But just in case the swim across Lake St. Clair wasn’t enough, Dreyer raised the stakes on his charity swim for Habitat for Humanity: The Shark is pulling along two dinghies holding 2,000 pounds of bricks.

Dreyer was expected to finish his swim yesterday, but his journey took a day longer than expected.

A post on his Facebook page said he was in good shape as he finished up his swim:

And I am sure most of you figured out he has been swimming over 48 hours, non stop!! Making all long distance open water swimmers proud!! Making Pure Michigan proud too.

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Offbeat
5:00 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

'Little House on the Prairie' star Melissa Gilbert moves to Michigan

A younger Melissa Gilbert playing Laura Ingalls Wilder on "Little House in the Prairie."
Melissa's Mid-life Musings

It's time to jump in the way-back machine:

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Stateside
5:23 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

An interview with Rosie the Riveter

The Wilow Run Factory was built in 5 months, and at the height of production during WWII, it was producing one B-24 bomber every hour.
U.S. Army Signal Corps

An interview with Emma Rancour, a former Rosie the Riveter from the Willow Run bomber plant.

There's a song from 1942 written by Red Evans and John Jacob Loeb that celebrates one of the most important groups to emerge on the home front in World War Two.

Collectively known as "Rosie the Riveter," women covered their hair with bandanas and picked up their tools to work in war production in factories all across America.

One of the most important plants in the war effort was the Willow Run bomber plant in Ypsilanti Township. Henry Ford built it to make B-24 bombers. 8, 685 bombers rolled off the assembly line at Willow Run during the war.

Emma Rancour was one of those Rosie the Riveters who worked at Willow Run. She installed radios in the flight decks of those Liberators.

These days, Emma Rancour lives in South Lyon. She joined us today to talk about her time at the plant.

Listen to the full interview above.

Offbeat
1:00 pm
Sat July 27, 2013

Detroit Mower Gang takes on neglected city parks

Tom Nardone started the Detroit Mower Gang in 2010.
Credit Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

A bunch of guys and a bunch of lawn mowers.  That's the basic idea behind the volunteer Detroit Mower Gang - which cuts the grass at city parks in Detroit every other Wednesday night. This past week, the Gang mowed about 25 acres in Stoeppel Park Number Two on the city's west side.  Barbara Davis lives across from the park - where for many kids, the grass was chest-high. "It's terrible," said Davis. "They usually got to cut a path and tramp right to the swing set because the grass is so tall.

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Offbeat
1:11 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

Politics prompt Bell's Brewery to skip Michigan Summer Beer Festival

edwin.bautista Flickr

YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) - A well-known Michigan brewer is pulling out of a major beer festival because of planned political fundraising at the event.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports Bell's Brewery Inc. won't participate in this weekend's 16th Annual Michigan Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti after the brewer's founder and president Larry Bell learned about the Protect Michigan Craft Beer Political Action Committee's plans.

Bell says he finds it "distasteful" to involve politics in the Michigan Beer Guild event.

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Stateside
3:23 pm
Wed July 24, 2013

The Living Room: Running away with the carnival

David Chase Heston Sanders
Allison Downey Michigan Radio

In July's segment of The Living Room, Allison Downey investigated the lure of American carnivals.

She interviewed several workers about their experiences living and traveling with the carnival. Some of them were born into the carnival life, some of them turned to the carnival as a means of escape, but all of them are there because it's what they love.

The Living Room on Michigan Radio is produced by Allison Downey and Zak Rosen.

The song at the end of the story,"Take Me to the Fair" was written by Ann Arbor's own Annie Capps and performed by Annie & Rod Capps with Jason Dennie.

Listen to the full interview above.

Offbeat
1:35 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

The Daily Show takes on the Detroit bankruptcy, mostly makes fun of the media

Chapter 9 Mile on Daily Show
OfficialTDShow Youtube

Yesterday, The Daily Show’s John Oliver did a short feature on Detroit and the city’s bankruptcy. 

In a bit entitled "Chapter 9 Mile," Oliver takes a humorous look at the slow emergency response in the city and his lack of surprise that the Emergency Manager, Kevyn Orr (a bankruptcy lawyer) declares bankruptcy.

But jabs at the media make for the greatest laughs. Oliver points out the abundance of bad puns about the bankruptcy and the amount of reporting on Detroit that actually takes place in Chicago.

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Offbeat
1:47 pm
Mon July 22, 2013

The question everyone is asking about the royal baby

A royal kiss that led to a royal baby.
user: whitneyinchicago Flickr

We know the question everyone has been asking about the impending arrival of a new member of the British royal family. 

No, of course it's not, will it be a girl or a boy. We are, after all, public radio consumers. What we really want to know is: What will the economic impact of the royal birth be on the U.K. economy?

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Offbeat
12:29 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Packard Plant might have a new owner who wants to rehabilitate the crumbling structure

Packard Plant
Julia Field

The skeletal remains of the rusting Packard plant in Detroit might soon have a new owner.

Built in 1911 by the legendary architect Albert Kahn, the factory produced luxurious automobiles throughout the early 1900s. It has since fallen into ruin, becoming a mecca for urban explorers and metal scrappers.

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Stateside
5:27 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Michigan dentist plans move to 'bring good dental health to the people of Uganda'

Dr. Ryan Shinska will head to Uganda to begin treating the children and adults in Jinja, a city about 54 miles outside of Kampala.
http://hopesmilesuganda.com/

An interview with University of Michigan Dental School graduate Dr. Ryan Shinska.

It wasn't so long ago that Ryan Shinska was quarterbacking his high school football team in Richmond in Macomb County.

Then it was off to Ann Arbor to the University of Michigan. Three years ago, he graduated from U of M's dental school.

And today, Dr. Ryan Shinska is a man with a self-declared mission: to end dental pain and bring good dental health to the people of Uganda.

Ryan will move to Uganda on July 25th to open a dental clinic there. His journey from U of M student to opening a clinic to serve the poor in one of the world's poorest countries is worth exploring and sharing.

Dr. Ryan Shinska joined us today in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

Offbeat
1:08 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Why is Michigan so humid? Boring? Poor? - Google searches reveal popular questions

Want to know more about what the masses think of your region? A Google search could reveal predominant stereotypes of your area.

If you're not already familiar with it, Google’s autocomplete function makes search suggestions as you type in a search term.

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Offbeat
3:59 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Michigan's Balloon Sculptor will try to blow away world record

Tim constructed this giant balloon sculpted dragon for the Indiana-based convention, Gen Con
http://www.theballoonsculptor.com/

Tim Thurmond has a big title to reclaim.

He calls himself Michigan's Balloon Sculptor. In 2004, he took the world record for, take a deep breath, most balloons blown up by one person's mouth and sculpted into individual animals in a 24-hour time frame. The total was 6,176 balloons.

However, this past February, a man in Texas blew away the record Thurmond created by 55 balloons.

But not for long.

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Offbeat
2:38 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

These are the coolest cell phone towers you will ever see

This is not just a really, really tall tree.
Robert Voit

A new cell phone tower was erected near a busy intersection in Portage, Michigan, but passersby probably won't recognize it. 

That's because the 150-foot tower has been disguised as a pine tree. The pole has brown "bark" and covered with fake bark, and the antennae have been concealed to look like pine branches. 

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Stateside
5:52 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

Michigan kid wins lunch at the White House with his pizza pocket recipe

Jacob Hirsch's "picky eater pita pizza pocket" recipe was one of the 54 winners in the Kids' State Dinner 2013 competition.
http://www.letsmove.gov/

An interview with Jacob Hirsch, a winner of the Kids' State Dinner 2013 competition.

If you have ever visited the White House, you know it's an exciting memory you always treasure.

But how many of us can say we not only visited the White House, we were invited to have lunch with the First Lady of the United States?

Jacob Hirsch of Bloomfield Hills is 8 years old. Tomorrow, Jacob will be a guest at a Kid's "State Dinner" hosted by none other than First Lady Michelle Obama. It's actually a healthy lunch, part of the First Lady's "Let's Move" initiative.

Jacob won his invitation by submitting a healthy recipe in a big national competition. And out of more than 13 hundred entries, Jacob's "Picky Eater Pita Pizza Pocket" was one of 54 winners.

Jacob Hirsch joined us today in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

Offbeat
5:25 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

Three college students paddle across Lake Michigan

They made it.
Paddleboarding Across Lake Michigan Facebook

Three college students crossed Lake Michigan by way of a paddle board on Monday.

The three paddlers were Ginny Melby, Trent Masselink and Craig Masselink. They reached the shores of Muskegon after embarking barely 24 hours before on their 80-mile journey.

They raised money for an organization called Restore International. The group fights for boys who are child soldiers and girls who are forced into prostitution in Uganda.

You can find out more on their Facebook page.

Offbeat
10:00 am
Sat July 6, 2013

July is Craft Beer Month in Michigan

Bell's Beer Sampler
Bernt Rostad Flickr

This 4th of July weekend, there’s a good chance that you or one of your (adult) family members or friends looks forward to sipping a nice cold brew while watching fireworks or enjoying a barbeque.

If you’re in Michigan, you have the opportunity to buy from one of the many microbreweries operating across the state.

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Offbeat
10:00 am
Fri July 5, 2013

MSU's is top specialty license plate in Michigan

Michigan State University campus (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - State records show Michigan State University's license plate is the No. 1 specialty plate in Michigan.

The Lansing State Journal reports Friday that a half-million of the MSU plates have been sold since it debuted in 2000.

That puts the East Lansing school squarely ahead of its rival to the southeast.

The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor's license plate has drawn about 362,000 patrons. That puts it in third place behind a patriotic plate that debuted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

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