Archives for : July2012

Madison’s Workaday Performer, pt. 3: The Tower

Lyle Anderson plays the Carillon. (photo: Jacob Bielanski/2011)

A carillon is an instrument comprised entirely of differently-sized bells. One such instrument sits housed in a yellow-stoned tower next to Bascom Hall at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. The bells sit in an open space at the top, open to a magnificent view of nearby Lake Mendota. A series of dusty wires connects the clappers of the bells to individual wooden handles below. The wooden handles are arranged like piano keys in a room below the bells. Only a tiny window offers a view of the rainy-slick Observatory Drive, where students scramble to classes in the surrounding buildings. In this castle-like room, Lyle Anderson sits and prepares for the weekday performance.


President Lyndon B. Johnson may have single-handedly steered Lyle towards a career in music. In the final semester of his linguistic bachelor’s, with the Vietnam War in full swing, Anderson was gearing up to pursue his master’s degree at University of Michigan. President Johnson then announced the end to the graduate school deferment—all master’s-degree-seeking students would remain eligible for the draft.

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The Packers’ Draft: Lipstick on a Super-sexy Pig

The Packers' offense huddles fruitlessly, as every play comes down to Rodgers being ABSOLUTELY PERFECT. (photo: Bjorn Hanson, Flickr/2009)

The Packers’ decision to go for a pass rush in the draft is puzzling at best and mildly retarded at worst.  Granted, A.J. Hawk’s numbers were less-than-expected (to put it mildly) and Clay Matthews was more of a factor in the run defense—but at least the Pack had a workable run defense and Hawk still has a lot of potential rushing from the outside (he’s fast, but a bit light).

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Madison’s Workaday Performer, pt. 2: The Worst Call Screener

Anderson (left) enjoys lunch alongside the late Jim Packard (right). (photo: Jacob Bielanski/2011)

When listing off his jobs, radio show host Michael Feldman refers to Lyle as a “weather guy.” Lyle sits amongst four others who work for the syndicated Public Radio International show “Whad’ya Know” at the Great Dane Brew Pub in downtown Madison. All of them, except for Lyle, work on the stage.

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The Packers’ Schedule: Nine Weeks’ Rest before REALLY Playing Football

I was just looking at the 2012 schedules for my favorite teams:  I couldn’t help but notice that Green Bay was apparently scheduled to play Canadian League teams for the first half of the season.

For a 15-1 team, the Packers pulled a remarkably weak field, with their biggest challenges being the opener against the 49ers (really just an average team in a weak division), the Bears the week after (an exciting early test for both teams) and Houston week 6 (provided Matt Schaub doesn’t get a hang nail or stub a toe, or get the sniffles or whatever by then.)

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The Packers and the NFL: Our Manly Soap Opera?

Is the NFL turning into a slightly less-scripted version of the World Wrestling Entertainment?

The NFL seems to be targeting its soap opera for women, but in the clumsy way men always target women (“chicks dig stories that make them cry or go ‘aaaaawwwwwww’. And babies.”)

WWE is sport turned into soap opera (mostly for men.)  The NFL is attempting to wrap a sport up in a thick blanket of soap opera schlock, from long stories about players’ humble origins (and their moms!), to a dramatic benching of a popular coach, to PSAs about head injuries from guys who are paid to run into each other at 40 miles per hour.

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Madison’s Workaday Performer, pt. 1: French Linguistics & Frozen Lakes


Lyle Anderson (left) pictured here with the late Jim Packard (right). Photo: Jacob Bielanski, Feb 5, 2011.

In February of 2011, I interviewed Michael Feldman for what I thought would be a great insight into a Madison icon. To get closer to the iconic host of Public Radio International’s “Whad’ya Know?”, I interviewed one of his longest-standing co-workers, Lyle Anderson. And it goes from there.

Stacked with browning books and oddly arranged papers, the State Climatology office remains mostly dark during the day, the workers illuminated only by personal lamps. From a computer at least 10 years old, the volunteer director, a former UW professor in Climatology, prints PowerPoint slide after PowerPoint slide. The slides use circles and bullet points to outline what the office could, should, would be. A quick glance shows the office is not any of these things.

The office has no supplies budget. When the printer runs out of paper, it is quietly, dutifully refilled by the office’s only paid employee, a white-haired man named Lyle Anderson.

This is only one of Lyle’s five offices.

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