Archive for January 2009

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

Posted: Friday, January 30, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Alas, the time has come for us to point the big ol’ Lincoln Northeast and head back where we belong; the land of cold and ice and snow.
This vacation has been wonderful but there’s something unnatural about two South Dakota marshmallows dodging all the responsibilities of winter in order to wallow in the warmth of Arizona sunshine for a whole month.  I felt a little pang of guilt, for instance, when our Sioux Falls neighbor called to say she thought our house was on fire last week when she drove by to check on it. But it was just the furnace exhaust pipe belching out huge plumes of steam when the outside temperatures dipped to minus 13.
Another friend told me he couldn’t get into his car because the locks had frozen after he washed it..which you need to do, even in cold weather, in order to remove several layers of road slop and salt that have caked-on the metal turning every vehicle into a whitish brown rust magnet.
You also need to get rid of those big icy fender boogers that build up in the wheel wells from driving on slushy roads. They can wedge against the front tires and dangerously hamper turning ability.
Out here they only wash their vehicles twice a year to get a little dust off.
I ran into an old chum at a Scottsdale watering hole last Sunday who asked if I’d be interested in tickets to the FBR Open professional golf tournament that’s going on out here this week. Well, the truth is, I’ve been there a few times in years past and, aside from seeing a lot of great players at work, it’s just a lot of exhaustive walking to which I’m not accustomed.
“Naw, this is different mate” said J.C. in his fun-to-listen-to Australian accent. “ I’m friends with several of the Thunderbirds (a group of wealthy businessmen who’ve been sponsoring the Phoenix Open for over 70 years) and these are V.I.P. tickets. A limo picks us up and takes us to the course where we’ll have passes to a special area with free food and booze all day. There are giant TV screens everywhere so you don’t have to walk at all if you don’t want to.”
“Now you’re talking” I said.
So, at 9:30, Thursday morning, I’m sitting at an outdoor table at the “Greenskeeper’s Club” enjoying a gourmet breakfast and a screwdriver watching thousands of older golf fans, with tired looks already on their faces, parade by carrying  portable chairs and water bottles.
I could get used to this I thought.
 I’m in there somewhere enjoying chicken catchatorie and a free margarita
After a while I did walk over to the infamous hole number 16 which is a par three that’s now completely encircled in grandstands and skyboxes. It’s the only hole in professional golf where noisy fans (many of them University of Arizona students who’ve been drinking since sun-up) are tolerated. They cheer on every shot. The roars grow to a deafening crescendo for each ball that gets close to the hole. But the crowd will also send out a chorus of “boos” for golfers they don’t like or shots that miss the green.  Some players take the whole party atmosphere at 16 in stride, others won’t play the tournament because of it.
It was comparatively quiet the hour or so I sat there and, after watching guys like Tom Lehman and Fred Couples pass through the gauntlet, I headed back to the club where I spent the rest of the day above the action perched in a comfortable chair enjoying distilled beverages delivered for free (except for the tip) by beautiful friendly young ladies who seemed genuinely interested in my welfare; “How ya doin’ sweety. Can I get you anything?”
Occasionally I glanced up at the big screen to check the scores or watch a shot but that’s about it.
The better show was later in the afternoon as throngs of beautiful people in Oakley Sunglasses and Gucci sandals started showing up at the Greenskeepers Club. I’m pretty sure they were there to see each other and not the golf. Most wouldn’t know a putter from a pith helmet but they all looked and smelled terrific as they passed by my easy chair.
I got to know one of the Thunderbirds, Wally Kelly, a big time advertising executive with CBS Television. He was introducing everyone to a friend of his; a giant of a guy named Jared.
“This guy looks familiar,” I thought.
“What’s your last name again?”
 “Allen,” he said.
Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings?? The greatest defensive end in the team’s history who fought through injury and pain to set the NFL sack record this season…That Jared Allen!??”   
“Guilty as charged,” he laughed.
When I asked how he was doing physically, he said he was really looking forward to some serious healing-up time after the Pro Bowl in Hawaii next week. He also asked that I send greetings to all the other Vikings fans in South Dakota.
So, there you go. Jared says “Hey.”"Honey, I’m through blogging..would you fix me up a cocktail like this cute little girl did for me yesterday?""My my, such language!"This could be a long quiet trip home.

Give Me A Ring

Posted: Sunday, January 25, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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If you’ve just finished eating or are about to start..I apologize in advance for the following:
I was reminded this week of an old joke about a Norwegian gentleman using an outdoor toilet. As he was pulling up his pants, some change fell out of the pockets and down the hole.
He then took a five dollar bill from his wallet and threw it in the hole too. When  a friend asked why the heck he did that, the Norwegian said, “Vell, it vasn’t vert it to go fishin’ around down there for yust 35 cents."
What would it take for you to make such a disgusting descent?  Certainly not five dollars; probably not for five hundred dollars. What about five “thousand?”
That’s what Phoenix plumber, Mike Roberts, aka Mr. Rooter, did it for. Here’s the poop. (sorry)
A California woman, Allison Berry, had just finished eating at Phoenix’s Black Bear Diner when she excused herself to the rest room.
Apparently, as she was completing that mission, her 70 thousand dollar diamond ring slipped off her finger and into the  toilet which she proceeded to flush before realizing what had happened.
It was gone..lost forever in the bowels (sorry) of the Phoenix sewer system. Or was it? An emergency call was placed to Mr. Rooter who spent the next eight hours fishing down the biffy with his fiber-optic cable. Then, finally, “success!”
The “root” man was able to return the treasure to a greatly relieved (sorry) Ms. Berry who, after a thorough hand would hope, wrote out a check to Mr. Rooter for $5,200 ..another for $250 to retile the bathroom and another for $200 to an employee for staying late.  
I hope she has enough left over to pay a jeweler to have that expensive ring resized.This is the ring. It has 7 carats and a couple pieces of corn.(sorry)Az.Central Photo 

God Speed, Mr. President

Posted: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I suppose some of you might be wondering if I have anything to say about the torch being passed in Washington on Tuesday or if I’m just going to continue writing about cats.
Probably cats.
Reporters and commentators have pretty much exhausted the English language trying to come up with just the right superlatives to precisely and accurately describe the historic significance of what has taken place. I have nothing to add except that once all the emotional interviews with old civil rights marchers (which brought tears to my eyes) are over and the new president gets some sleep, there’s a lot of work to do
I, for one, am very optimistic that we have the right man for the job. I like the fact that he doesn’t seem rattled at all by the enormous challenges he faces in the months and years ahead. I realize that self-confidence will only take him so far so I, along with millions of  others..will be offering up prayers on a regular basis for him to succeed in bringing about the peace, prosperity, respect and domestic harmony we ALL desire.
I will also be praying for the personal safety of our new president; that he will be protected from any who still harbor old racial hatreds and would wish to do him harm.The first steps of what will hopefully be journey of success.    Time photo

Cat Tails, Cardinals & Cinerama

Posted: Monday, January 19, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Well, that was a startling start to the morning.
As I stumbled into the kitchen in my bare feet, I accidentally stepped on one of the cat’s tails and in a fraction of a second all of her feline genetic juices kicked in.
Her ears instinctively went back tight to her head..she fell into a crouch..hissing at me..hard!
It was as if all the affection I’ve been heaping on her during our stay; scratching her tummy, petting her rump and giving her expensive treats behind her master’s back, meant nothing as Monet suddenly displayed all the wild characteristics of her African cat cousins and, if she had a little more size to her, wouldn’t have thought twice about grabbing me by the neck and carrying me off into the bushes to be the main course for supper.   
I told her I was sorry but she just trotted away thinking, I suppose, how much like Norwegian cod I would taste.
Well, with all of us Midwesterners out here keeping our tootsies warm for at least part of the winter, Sunday’s win by the Arizona Cardinals over Philadelphia; securing a trip to the Super Bowl, was almost like a victory for the home team…almost.
We long-suffering Vikings fans can find a little comfort in knowing that we kicked the bejeebers out of Arizona at home in December.
Still, the memory of the lowly Cardinals knocking Minnesota out of the playoffs in 2003, is still very vivid in my I felt like I needed a shower after rooting for them  to beat the Eagles yesterday. Okay, you’ve gone this far..might as well get’er’done for the NFC by beating Pittsburgh in 2 weeks.
I’m a big fan of James Lileks, a columnist in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and a popular blogger. He’s started a regular Friday feature about Twin Cities movie theaters, past and present and it suddenly reminded me of an unforgettable Minneapolis movie experience I had in 1964.
Everybody around the country, including my hometown, had heard about the magnificent new Cooper Theater in St. Louis Park that had been designed and built exclusively for films shot in “Cinerama!”
For those who don’t remember, Cinerama was a cinematic technological marvel of the time that required special wide angle cameras to shoot..and three projectors to display on a giant screen that wrapped halfway around the theater.
This was way before I-Max and a very big deal. 
When Cinerama was first demonstrated, many people who went to see it reportedly suffered motion sickness right there in their seats from the realistic rides on roller coasters or aboard airplanes diving through the Grand Canyon.
I finally managed to save up enough for me and my soon-to-be wife to make the 200 mile trip to Minneapolis in my 1949 Ford to see Cinerama at the Cooper.
It was incredible!The theater looked like a big orange flying saucer had touched down and left its landing lights turned on. 
The spectacular Cooper Cinerama..just seven minutes from Downtown MinneapolisAfter parking my old car in a covered lot, we entered the odd shaped building and were stunned by the enormous lobby with its lush carpeting and at least five concession areas serving beverages only…no patrons wearing suits and evening gowns.
The theater itself was equally breath-taking..all burnt orange curtains with blue seats.
The movie, which ran for a year at the Cooper, was “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad world and was hilarious…athough I don’t know why it was shot in Cinerama since there weren’t many scenes intentionally designed to make audiences go ooh, ahh, shriek in terror or throw up.
On the long ride home, we agreed that it had been a great and exciting day. We vowed to return for the next film but we never did.
The Cooper finally had to switch over to a conventional theater when they stopped making Cinerama movies in the late 60’s.It hung on until 1991 but then, despite some valiant efforts to save it, the unique building departed with much less grace and fanfare than when it arrived; crushed into chunks by a wrecking ball the following year.Ah, well..the price of progress.Have any Cinematic stories to share? Feel free to offer a comment below.

Wish You Were Here!

Posted: Friday, January 16, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I always hated it when people would travel to warm places for their winter vacations and send back postcards of bronze women in bikinis dipping their toes in the tepid blue-green waters of a tropical ocean. Or of guys in short sleeve shirts and plaid Bermuda shorts playing January golf on a stunningly beautiful desert canyon course.
Well, “hate” might be a little rough; insanely jealous would be the more accurate feeling. 
Hemmingsen used to get a kick out of calling me in the newsroom from his hotel overlooking Waikiki or some other place in Hawaii where he and his family traveled each winter, just to rub it in. “Hey, I hear Janklow closed the South Dakota interstates because of the blizzard. That’s too bad.  
Oh, Betty and I are going snorkeling in a bay off Maui this afternoon. The kids spent the morning swimming with dolphins. Only 82 degrees here today..heh, heh, heh.”
Come to think of it..maybe hate is the right word.
Anyway, I vowed that if it was ever financially possible, Linda and I would find a way to escape the frigid Midwest and vacation somewhere warm if only for a few days each year.
It’s a vow we’ve been able to keep for the last 13 years thanks to our desert daughter’s hospitality here in the Phoenix area.
Throughout that time, I’ve tried to keep unsavory gloating, to shivering family and friends back home, about how nice it is here, to a minimum.
But now that most of you are finally emerging from the mind numbing, snot freezing, super sub zero cold of the last couple weeks, I gotta tell ya, that  while most of the country has been sending Al Gore nasty e-mails about global warming, the weather here has been unbelievably fantastic with highs in the mid seventies..several degrees “above” normal. Too warm, actually. Had to have the air on while driving around town yesterday. Okay, that may have crossed the line. I’ll stop.
Below is a view of the valley from Fry’s grocery store parking lot in Fountain Hills. It’s almost enough to justify the insanely high prices they charge inside..but that’s a story for another blog.Linda and I have our eye on that little fixer upper on the  right if she hits it big on the penny slots.
I’ve been trying to find out more about this scrap iron sculpture of a horse that stands in a shopping area near the big fountain. All I can say is the closer and longer you look, the more you appreciate what masterful skills the artist had to create this perfectly formed horse from hundreds of pieces of junk.I hope you can enlarge this photo to see more of the amazing detail in this scrap iron horse. 
Well, my wife and our desert daughter are off to the casino with a promise not to spend anymore money gambling than I do on golfing. So, we’ll either be looking for a house to buy out here with all Linda’s winnings..or we might be coming home earlier than planned.

Living in a Cat House

Posted: Monday, January 12, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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There have been a few changes in this beautiful town of Fountain Hills, Arizona in the year since we’ve been here.
Oh, the air is still much purer than in the valley below and the community still doesn’t allow street lights so the stars shine gloriously bright in the night sky.
The local residents, many of them transplanted Midwesterners just like us, are still just as friendly and accommodating.  But there doesn’t seem to be as many of them this January. For Sale signs now adorn their front yards.
This area was especially hard hit by the mortgage crisis. There are some 500 homes and condos on the market in Fountain Hills right now and some real deals to be had.Mountains, a lake, a fountain, three golf courses and a  casino close by..what’s not to like?
Unfortunately, for Linda and me, the same economic collapse that brought about those deals has also gobbled up our financial ability to take advantage of them. So, we’ll just continue to sponge off our beautiful desert daughter, Christy, for as long as possible.
It’s with her that the biggest change has happened in the last year.
TWINS, a boy and a girl, arrived in late October and, even though she’s not married, her mother and I couldn’t be more proud.
Okay,  okay..they’re just cats; Jack and Monet (no one consulted me on the names) but they have restored a spark in our daughter that went out after the loss of her longtime feline friends, Felix and Pipi within a few months of each other.
“That’s it,” Christy said after they died, “I’m through with cats. It’s hurts too much when they go.”
But then, last fall, at a local animal rescue she came upon a litter of black kittens. The male reminded her so much of Felix it was love at first sight and she had to have him.
Then, she decided it would be cruel to separate him from his sister so they left the shelter as a pair in the back of Christy’s car.I still can’t tell them apart but Linda says that’s Monet staring at the camera.Three days after Linda and I got here, Christy had to leave on business for a week which meant leaving US in charge of these not-so-little-anymore kittens.
Well, they’re a lot like teenage kids; they have boundless energy, are into everything they’re supposed to stay away from and they refused to acknowledge voices of authority. Then they’ll sleep for hours at a time which awakens ferocious appetites that can only be satisfied by gorging on great gobs of expensive kitty food which eventually results in huge piles of digested stinky residue left in a litter box built for one.
I’ve begged Linda to let me take a turn at cleaning out the mountains of cat poop deposits that are made each day but she always says, “No, honey, you just sit there at the computer drinking your bloody mary and leave this delightful chore to me.”
(Or something like that. Those may not have been her exact words.)
But, just like teenagers, Jack and Monet do provide hours of entertainment and laughter and Linda and I are mighty glad that Christy came to their rescue because they’ve certainly come to hers.I will take credit for teaching both  of them to appreciate TV watching. Here we’re learning Spanish on Telemundo.

"A Lousy Drummer?" Ouch!

Posted: Friday, January 9, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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It was getting’ a little rough over there at that other blog; kinda personal too.
Let’s try starting fresh here.
I always expect a certain number of readers to get their undies in a bunch whenever I post something political but the one on Al Franken being certified winner of Minnesota’s tight U.S.Senate race really struck a lot of nerves.
Liberals must have something like a prayer chain in place and start calling each other whenever a blog appears that isn’t in lock step with their way of thinking.
“Hey Todd…ya see what Lund said about Franken on that lame blog of his today?”
“Yeah, Scott already called and I read it.”
“Really sad. He seems to think that left wingers tend to be elitist and condescending creatures who only like to hang with others of like opinion and equal education.”
“Did you see that he called “Air America” defunct?”
“Oh, yeah. I sent an anonymous comment calling him on it..and suggested he was too dumb to know what the word defunct meant.”
“You didn’t tell him that “Air America” went bankrupt a couple years ago and is now just a shadow of its former self with Ron Reagan its biggest star did you?”
“Hell no, let him do his own research. I did get him good, though, suggesting he must have gone to a ‘vocational school’ while Franken, on the other hand, graduated from Harvard.”
“Yeah, that’s funny. Did Lund actually go to a vocational school?”
“I have no idea. But he’s as dumb as those who do.”
“Yeah..heh heh.”
“I see our buddy Michael got him good too; called him a lousy drummer.”
“What has that have to do with his crumby blog?”
“Nothing, I just thought it was funny and knocked him down a peg or two.”
“I don’t even think he plays the drums anymore does he?”
 “No idea, I just assumed Michael did his research and would know.”
 “Yeah, well..whatever. What I do know is that he’s always been a Bush lovin’ Republican and, when he was on the air, he happily toed the company line repeating lies about the war in Iraq in order to increase ratings.”
“Gosh, that’s terrible. I wonder if there’s any proof that is actually the case?""Proof?? Are you kidding? Keloland News covered every troop deployment..every emotional homecoming and every dead soldier’s funeral. If that’s not drinking the Bush Administration Kool-Aid I don’t know what is."  "I’ve been researching some of Lund’s blogs over the last three years and he seems to have changed his tune. He’s been claiming that, like most Americans, he’s been against that war and opposed to the President’s policies since it became obvious that the weapons weren’t there. He also claims to have voted for Obama and be a friend of Bernie Hunhoff.”
“Yeah, right. So why does he continue to slam us liberals?
“I dunno He’s insignificant anyway. Hey, Squibby wants us all to get together at Black Sheep tonight and watch Bill Maher’s show on TV. Al Franken, Michael Moore, Janeane Garofalo, and Dan Rather are his guests. Should be an intelligent open minded discussion.”
“Count me in.”

Franken, My Dear, I Don’t Give a Damn

Posted: Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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“Saturday Night Live” will probably be remembered more for the catch phrases that came out of the show than the belly laughs it generated.
Ie: “Never mind", "Isn’t that special," "I live in a van down by the river," "We just want to pump you up," "Yeah, that’s the ticket, " "Schhhwingg," I"’m getting all verclempt” and hundreds more.
But, like I said, in 33 years, SNL viewers have had to suffer through a lot of crap before being rewarded with some memorable comedy gems.
I still laugh when I think of Dan Akroyd  doing that mock infomercial for the “Bass-O-Matic” in which he ground up a fish in the blender. The bit ended with another original cast member, Lorraine Newman, taking a sip of the concoction and saying, “Wow, that’s terrific bass.”
Another sketch that made me laugh out loud was when Al of the SNL’s writers, would appear on Weekend Update as a news correspondent doing live TV reports with a satellite dish attached to a football helmet on his head. If he turned ever so slightly, the signal would be lost. 
I also got a kick out of Franken’s lonely, misunderstood, insecure, effeminate character, Stewart Smalley, who , through self-help studies and psychotherapy, finally managed to convince himself and others that, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and, doggone it, people like me. 
I stopped laughing at Franken, though, when he started taking himself so seriously, especially about politics. Anyone who didn’t subscribe to his uber liberal point of view was a back-room, cigar-smokin’, self-serving, right wing religious zealot bent on destroying the country.
After his failed attempt to become the Rush Limbaugh of the left on the Air America radio network, he decided to create a brand new image and run for office; the U.S. Senate, no less, and from Minnesota, of all places, where he was born and then promptly left at the first opportunity.
He must have figured any state that would elect a professional wrestler as its governor, might give a condescending, smart ass Democrat with a face people recognized from TV, a shot too.
Well, it turns out he was right and unless incumbent Senator, Norm Coleman, can finagle a legal way to overturn the official certification, Stewart Smalley, with a victory margin of 250 votes out of over 3 million cast, has himself a mandate and is off to Washington.Doggonit..people DO like him.
It’s sure going to be interesting to see if Al Franken has the rocky mountain oysters to continue being as outspoken on the floor of the United States Senate when actually confronting the sources of his irritation just across the aisle.
We’ll be watching, Al, to see if you’re good enough and you’re smart enough.
Just don’t turn your head too far to the left or we’ll lose the signal.

Oh, What A Tangled Web We Weave

Posted: Friday, January 2, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Is it ever okay to tell a lie?
I certainly hope so otherwise, Linda and I had better get fitted for asbestos underwear because we’ve been unloading some whoppers for the last several weeks.
As I mentioned in an earlier blog, our desert daughter, Christy, couldn’t make it home for Christmas this year..nor could her brother, James, so, about a month ago, we decided to  head for Phoenix early and surprise Christy for her 40th birthday, January 1st. 
James got in on it too and that’s when everyone started weaving this web of deceit.
Christy calls home to talk to her mother at least three times a week and always asks a lot of questions about what we’re doing, where we’ve been, what our plans are etc.
Last summer she had already started lobbying for us to come out early this year. So it’s been difficult, to say the least, for Linda to keep her stories straight and not let Christy suspect that mom has been frantically trying to get organized and packed for a December 29th departure in the big old red Lincoln and the three day trip to Arizona.
So, at about 1:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, Linda gave Christy a call on her cell to chat about how cold it was in South Dakota and how we planned to ring-in the new year that evening..all the while, Linda and I, wearing Santa hats, were walking up to her front door in Fountain Hills.
The surprise was complete; mission accomplished. The lying can finally cease. "Who’s that knocking at my door?""Thank you, Santa, this is just what I wanted. James and sister, Christy at the birthday party            Linda and Christy’s neighbor and pal, CarolSo here we are again..back where it’s warm and sunny; back where there’s an abundance of golf courses and casinos to make us both happy. The trick now is to convince Christy that staying an extra month this year is a good idea.