Archive for May 2010

The Best Pizza I Ever Ate

Posted: Monday, May 31, 2010 at 11:15 am
By: Doug Lund
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Take a look at me and it’s obvious; I love to eat. It gives me great pleasure and comfort but it also brings profound distress because the price of that pleasure is having to shop at the big and tall men’s stores for awful looking clothes that scream “loser.”

Anyway, one of my favorite programs on the Food Network features various chefs and food stars talking about the best things they’ve ever eaten when they’re on their own and picking up the check themselves. They use an avalanche of adjectives and superlatives to describe these delicacies and then viewers are taken to the restaurants to watch those dishes being prepared and consumed.

The other day the subject was pizza which got me to thinking about what I consider to be the best pizza “I’ve” ever eaten.

More about that in a minute. First a little personal pizza history.

pizza king dean martinI clearly remember riding home from a family vacation in 1953 and hearing Dean Martin on the radio singing his new hit song that begins with the line, “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore.”

I asked my mom what amore was and she told me it meant “love” in Italian.

“What’s a pizza pie?” I asked. “I’m not sure..an Italian dessert, I suppose,” she said.

pizza king chef photoIt wasn’t until we got a TV set a year later that we found out for sure what a pizza was when Chef Boyardee himself appeared in commercials demonstrating his pizza in a box.

I don’t recall that it looked all that appetizing..not in black and white anyway.

Mom was a wonderful cook but she didn’t get terribly adventurous in the kitchen exploring cuisines from other cultures. The spiciest thing in her cupboard was an unopened box of seasoning salt.

I finally got my first taste of pizza at my best friend, Dixon Hoberg’s 10th birthday party in 1956. His mom and older sister decided to try something a little different. They bought and prepared a couple boxes of Chef Boyardee cheese pizza for us kids to eat before the cake.

I remember his sister opening that yellow and red carton to remove the contents and watched with interest as she dumped the flour into a bowl to be mixed with a half cup of warm water and left to rise for five minutes…then stretching the dough onto a cookie sheet, spreading the can of the chef’s red sauce over the dough, sprinkling the grated cheese on top and finally popping it into a 400 degree oven. Within minutes the aroma coming from that stove was like nothing I’d ever inhaled before; Absolutely heavenly; ambrosia from the gods.

The smell was only surpassed by my first taste of that foreign food on my tongue. “So THAT’S amore,” I thought.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved my mom’s roast beef dinners and just about everything she made but the bubbling tomato sauce and tangy cheese along with a crunchy light brown crust on that first pizza was the best thing I’d ever eaten in my first ten years of life!

In 1961, Pizza King’s restaurant opened in downtown Brookings and it wasn’t anything like the stuff that came out of a box.

pizza king exterior level

Instead of just a tiny can of grated dry cheese, Pizza King taught our uneducated little palates about pepperoni, mozzarella cheese (sliced, not grated) and the variety of toppings that can raise the pizza eating experience to new, never before explored delicious heights.

We ate there a lot.

Over the years I’ve eaten and enjoyed lots of pizza. Earl’s in Sioux Falls came awfully close to Pizza King’s. It was also cut in squares and filled with greasy goodness.

I absolutely loved the taste of Shakey’s Pizza and almost cried when they pulled out of town..then out of the state. The only Shakey’s restaurants left appear to be in California.

Of course there are pizza joints on every corner these days and most are okay..but nothing really special.

For that Linda and I still turn to Chef Boyardee. We buy his pizza kit and adorn it with a generous amount of cheese and our own toppings. It’s not only terrific, it’s nostalgic.

Speaking of nostalgic, Linda and I drove up to my hometown over the weekend and as we were rolling down Brookings Main Street, I glanced over to see that Pizza King was not only still there open for business.

I asked Linda, “Would you like to go in and find out if the pizza I’ve been raving about all these years still tastes as good as I remember?”

“Sure,” she said, “you know me, there aren’t many pizzas I don’t like.”

The first thing, though, was disappointing; no beer. I’d forgotten. It wasn’t an issue back when I frequented the place as a teenager.

Oh well, Cokes it is.

pizza king pizza pix

Then, after what seemed like more than the promised 15 minute waiting time, our circle of piping hot sensuous sustenance was placed before us and all the delicious memories came flooding back. “Careful, that cheese will burn the roof of your mouth and lips.” “I know but I can’t wait.”

Oh, it was sooo good!

Because we’d ordered a large, there was plenty to box up and take home to eat later..but it was gone the next day.

So, is Pizza King the best pizza I’ve ever eaten?

Perhaps..but I still keep thinking back to that very first bite of Chef Boyardee in Dixon Hoberg’s kitchen 54 years ago.

 

Fine Art

Posted: Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 10:41 am
By: Doug Lund
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 Well, I’ll be darned; Art Linkletter has died.

ArtLinkletterI was just thinking about him the other day and wondered how he was doing because I knew he was well into his 90’s.

97 as it turns out.

I even went to Youtube to watch a few clips from his popular daily TV show in the 50’s and 60’s; Art Linkletter’s House Party…especially the hilarious segments where he interviews the kids.

As a broadcaster, I always admired Linkletter’s great skills as an emcee and interviewer with a special gift for ad libbing.

I told him as much when he was in Sioux Falls several years ago to be the featured speaker at some huge conference on aging.

Through my job, I’ve had the privilege of meeting and talking with lots of celebrities and am often asked what they’re really like when the cameras and microphones were off.

Well, I can assure you that Art Linkletter was the real deal; as genial, enthusiastic and funny as he was on radio and TV.

Not like Tony Randall who stormed out on an interview with Steve Hemmingsen (probably at that same aging conference) because Steve asked him a question about Felix Unger from The Odd Couple when Randall specifically told him not to.

Anyway, after my interview with Art Linkletter I mentioned that I do a lot of feature stories on Keloland TV and wondered if he’d share a couple of his secrets to making people..especially children..feel at ease and “Say the darndest things.”

“Don’t ever talk down to kids,” he said. “They understand a lot more than most people give them credit for.” “Also, try  avoid any question in which they can respond with a simple yes or no answer.

“Basically, though, he said., LISTEN to what people are saying. A lot of guys can talk but paying attention is hard for some to do.  Oh, and be nice. Usually, folks will relax and be nice right back.”  

Art Linketter was often asked about his favorite comment from a child he was interviewing. But there were just too many to choose from.

One of my favorites was when a little boy revealed that his daddy was a policeman who arrested a lot of burglars. Linkletter asked if his mother ever worried about the risks. “Naw, she thinks it’s great,” he answered. “He brings home rings and bracelets and jewelry almost every week.”

P.S. A reminder that with our new blog system I have to approve your comment…but only once. So I hope a lot of you regular readers will respond so I can get you checked off. I love your responses both positive and creatively critical.

Too Hot To Handle

Posted: Monday, May 24, 2010 at 10:46 am
By: Doug Lund
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Warning: To avoid serious burns, possible blindness and severe humiliation, do not open radiator cap when engine is hot.

Oh, come on..I thought to myself, they always present the worst case scenario in these automotive cautions. Like when’s the last time a battery actually exploded because somebody didn’t hook up the connections correctly?

Besides, I wasn’t unscrewing the actual radiator cap. It was the cap on the coolant reservoir.

 It was such a picture perfect Sunday afternoon that we decided to invite our friends to go for a ride and take advantage of the free state park entrance and fishing weekend with a trip to Lake Vermillion. The girls could sit in the shade and enjoy a glass of wine while Denny and I made a few casts in hopes of coaxing some hungry or curious fish into taking a big bite of our bait.

So we loaded up the trunk of “Big Red” with fishing gear, coolers, and folding chairs then headed west across town.

By the time we reached Marion Road and 12th I knew something wasn’t right with the car. First the air coming out of the vents went from cold to luke warm. Then the engine started to sputter and the temperature gauge shot up to hot faster than a sailor on shore leave.

I pulled in to the first gas station I saw and shut “Big Red” down.

“She’s been intermittently losing coolant though the overflow,” I said.. trying to assure my passengers that a fluid fill up was all that was needed and it was nothing to worry about.

I can be very convincing, I guess, because everybody bought it. Now, all I had to do was purchase a couple gallons of anti freeze..pour it into the radiator and we’d be on our way.

I have to admit that I was a bit surprised when, after one turn of the reservoir cap, there was a hissing gurgling sound coming from deep within the radiator’s belly.

One more careful turn and steam began escaping..

“Hold off, Doug, she’s awfully hot,” Denny warned. “Better let  ‘er vent for awhile.”

“It seems like we’re wasting a lot of this beautiful day just staring at an engine get rid of some built up tension,” I said while unscrewing another couple of threads to hurry things along.

Just one more turn.

I don’t know how many of you have been to Yellowstone National Park before but the eruption from my radiator at that moment was every bit as impressive as the famous “Old Faithful” geyser.

I’d heard about how people who suffer serious burns often don’t experience the pain right away so my first thought as I stood their drenched in scalding greenish liquid was..well, what an idiot I am..then wondering how long it would take for big blisters to start popping up on my right arm and face which caught the eruption full force..

By the time I’d dashed off to the men’s room to examine my condition, quite a crowd had gathered around my steaming vehicle to watch the show.

Well, as much as I deserved to be scarred for life for not heeding the warnings of my pal, Denny, as well as Ford Motor Company..I somehow managed to escape serious injury; just a little stinging sensation on the skin to remind me how foolish and how lucky I am.

So, now I have another appointment with the car doctor to figure out why it only overheats every once in a while.

I can tell you if it ever happens again though, I will require at least a two day cooling off period for both me and the car before I go near the radiator cap.

Oh, and if you’re ever tempted to ignore the “Caution Fan” sign under the hood. I would strongly recommend you don’t reach down there when the motor’s running.

 

p.s. I’m posting this on our new blog system which is designed to discourage all that garbage that shows up as spam in the comments section.

I hope you’ll continue to comment but bear with me until I get things figured out.

Yards, Cars And Nooks

Posted: Monday, May 17, 2010 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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When the sun finally came out Saturday I knew there would be no more excuses; I had to lift my ample posterior up off the couch and out in the garage to fire up the lawn mower. The grass had gotten so high I wasn’t sure the old machine had enough power to wack through it.
But I needn’t have worried. My grass is as thin as Steve Hemmingsen’s hair. (When was the last time anyone used the words Hemmingsen and thin in the same sentence?)
Over the years, I’ve spent thousands of dollars with every lawn service in town and invested in an underground sprinkler system all in hopes of achieving the lushness and thickness of yards we see while driving around other neighborhoods.  
I even had an SDSU horticulture specialist stop over to run some tests on my soil. I believe the recommendation was “move someplace else.”
Perhaps the reason my ground is so sour is because it was once a favorite spot for roving herds of buffalo to stop and take a leak. Whatever the reason, the grass has a hard time growing in the dirt. On the other hand, dandelions, clover and lots of other noxious weeds find my soil full of everything they need to flourish.(Ancient ammonia?) 
I gave them all a good dose of weed killer on Saturday and I see they’ve sort of coiled over as if to give the impression they’re goners but I’ve seen that before only to have them stick their yellow and white heads out of the grave when you’re not looking.
 
We came close to buying another car over the weekend. It’s a 2006 Chevy Equinox all wheel drive SUV. It looks and runs great and the price was only 8 thousand dollars. The trouble is, it has more miles on it than the ten year old car it was to replace.
I shot them an offer at closing time and the guy said he’d check with his boss and let me know. My phone never rang and I’m kind of relieved.
 
Sunday was one of those days I imagine all should be like during the month of May. Too bad I wound up spending a couple hours of it on the phone with our son, James in Oakland. He and daughter, Christy went together and bought Linda a “Nook” for Mother’s Day.
Up until a few weeks ago I would have defined “nook” as a secluded and obscure corner usually located right next to the “cranny.”
But in this age of gadgets, designed to overwhelm anyone on the plus side of fifty, I have discovered a nook to be an electronic device that looks something like an etch-a-sketch that lets you download an entire library’s worth of books and magazines from Barnes and Noble to be read on the screen anywhere anytime as long as the battery’s charged up.
Well, nobody enjoys reading more than Linda so it IS a great gift..except that the Nook needs to be set up to do all those magical things and since I’m only slightly less electronically challenged than my dear wife, the job of registering the Nook fell to me and an extremely patient James on the other end of the line two thousand miles away to guide me.
I’m not sure which is more frustrating; the complicated process of interpreting the“techno-speak” language of the instructions or the realization that I’m just too dumb to figure it out.
Anyway, after a long, long time and a couple very close calls where I nearly flung the new Nook through the window, we got the thing set up.
I think the first couple of books Linda plans to download  are entitled “Living with a mad man” and “Firearms for Dummies.”

Don Shelby Retires

Posted: Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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 Steve Hemmingsen stopped by the house one day last week. He was in the neighborhood and could only stay a minute.
A couple hours and a few drinks later (Coke for him, vodka for me) he left for home in his giant new pick-up truck that saves gas by burning
85 percent ethanol and a V-8 engine that switches to four cylinders whenever the vehicle’s computer decides that’s all the power it needs.
Anyway, we chatted about a lot of things; mostly having to do with getting old.
He turns 65 on May 17th..the magic age when the government allegedly starts paying you back for all those years of paying in huge chunks of your paycheck.
It’ll be my turn in 6 months so we talked about Medicare supplements and prescription drugs and social security checks for a while. We’d stop for a minute and start to laugh about what a couple of geezers we sounded like..then go right back at it comparing the number of trips we each make to the toilet each night..and how we’ve both experienced a strange phenomenon of our suits mysteriously shrinking in the closet.
We also chatted a little bit about TV news and how we miss it sometimes but we’re also kind of glad we got out when we did.
Speaking of getting out; Don Shelby has announced his retirement from WCCO-TV after some 30 years behind the anchor desk.
I’ve only met Shelby a couple of times and to be honest was a bit intimidated by him. He, afterall, was heir to the legendary Dave Moore who reigned over Twin Cities television for decades.
Shelby, with his slim trim body, perfectly coiffed hair,  high polished shoes and tailored three piece pin stripe navy blue suit with carefully coordinated tie, looked like a million bucks..which, oddly enough, is the amount WCCO paid him each year to do the same job Hemmingsen and I were doing a couple hundred miles to the West for much less…a LOT less..a ridiculous amount of money less.
But, to Shelby’s credit, he worked hard for his millions and ‘CCO spared no expense to send him all over the world to do stories and to head up the infamous I-TEAM doing award winning (2 Emmys..2 Peabody’s) investigations.
He had to endure a lot of initial resentment from viewers for trying to fill Dave Moore’s shoes after the elder statesman of broadcast journalism retired. But eventually, Shelby, himself, became nearly as big of an icon as his predecessor and mentor.
Also, unlike Hemmingsen and me, I doubt if the 63 year old Don Shelby will be content to pass the time loafing around playing golf, woodworking or writing blogs.  He’s one of those go-getter guys who needs to be “out there” in the public eye.
Anyway, he’s been a real credit to Midwest television news and I’m sure WCCO is going to feel the loss after his last broadcast November 22nd. But from everything I’ve read, Shelby as been a real friend and mentor to the younger newsies at the station who could do a lot worse than follow his example of style and substance.
Oh, and I’ll bet in three years..HIS suits will still fit.

Fair Questions

Posted: Monday, May 10, 2010 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I admit that I don’t follow the news as closely as I used to but how in the world did I miss this one?
Minneahaha County Commissioners, according to the Argus Leader, are considering options to sell the Sioux Empire fairgrounds and maybe relocate the event!
W.T.H.??
Where did this come from?
I’ve seen lots of interviews with the new fair manager, Tryg Frederickson, saying the exposition is back on track after former business manager, Kathy Gourley, got caught with her fat fingers in the till to the tune of 648 thousand dollars and is cooling her jets behind bars for the next decade or so.
The fair had to borrow 216 thousand dollars from the county just to have an event last year but has since managed to repay that loan.
In fact, Frederickson says, they’ve been able to reduce the fair’s debt since last August by over 333 thousand dollars! That’s over half of what Gourley embezzled.
I also read that because of the quick rebound, the fair was given the green light to continue for another five years.
Just last week, Frederickson was featured in a Keloland News story showing off recent improvements to the grounds including new lights in the Expo Building.
So who on the county commission is so hot to get rid of the fair..hot enough to convince the commissioners to shell out 25 thousand dollars to hire Steve Sanford, attorney at law, to apparently try find legal loopholes in the deeds that clearly stipulate the fairgrounds will be only be used for a county fair?
I’m not buying any suggestion that it could be relocated. Can you imagine the outcry from taxpayers if the perfectly fine W.H.Lyon Fairgrounds, with all of its recent improvements, was sold and taxpayers were asked to pay for building a new grandstand, exposition hall and all the buildings necessary for a fair at a different location?
Is the subsidy really putting that big of a strain on the county’s 46 million dollar appropriations budget? In spite of some hot stormy weather and a down economy, a  quarter million people passed through the gates last August to enjoy the exhibitions and entertainment and tradition..not to mention the thousands who regularly attend other events on the grounds throughout the year.
If the county wants to spend money on researching the fair’s value..hire one of those experts who figure out what big crowds like that mean to the city and county economy. I’m guessing fairgoers also find their way to the shopping malls, restaurants and hotels while in town.
Or why not redirect attorney Sanford’s 25 thousand dollar mission?
Instead of looking for ways to dodge the dictates of the Lyon Family deeds.. how about he do some legal leaning on the estate of Kathy Gourley who is under a court order to repay the amount of her thievery.
Has she paid back anything? Didn’t she have a house or a car..something of value?
Apparently attorney Sanford has already handed over some of his findings to the county commission but Commissioner, Dick Kelly, tells the Argus that they are “draft reports”..in other words, not available to the public.
Again, I gotta wonder. . who believes that the fair is such an albatross around the county’s neck..especially after it was discovered that the person responsible for  the fiancial shortfalls is sitting in the pokie?
Keep a closer eye on the books from now on..but the Sioux Empire Fair is FINE! Leave it alone.

Painless Dentistry?

Posted: Thursday, May 6, 2010 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Dentist this morning.
I have a lovely young lady that takes the x-rays and cleans my teeth. She’s pretty gentle with me and the experience is more annoying than painful. It’s just an uncomfortable hour of sitting there hoping my stomach doesn’t growl and that the three brushings  I did with cinnamon flavored Crest was enough to kill any evil oral aromas that might be lingering from last night’s supper.
I did have a little laugh as I was walking toward the dentist’s office, though. I spotted a couple of those flossing sticks lying on the sidewalk like a pair of disgarded cigarette butts;clearly someone’s desperate last minute attempt to cram six months of promised flossing into sixty seconds.
I’ve long since stop pretending that I floss regularly. She pretty much had that figured out by the time she brings out the jack hammer to break up the hard yellowish tartar deposit that forms in the spaces of my lower front teeth between cleanings.
But this was no normal check-up; I’ve been having trouble (pain) off and on since having a crown installed on one side and a deep cavity filled on the other late last summer.
Dr. Graber warned that he had to go awfully deep and there was a fifty/fifty chance the nerves might start to make their presence felt. Turns out I drew the short straw and have been gobbling Advil tablets like M&M’s ever since.
“You’ve got two options, Doug,” the dentist said, “extraction..or root canal.”
So, I have an appointment with another dentist or orthodontist or whatever he’s called, who specializes in root canals because Dr. Graber doesn’t do them.
Too bad because I really need the gas (nitrous) to help me mellow out before someone with drills and sharp objects goes digging around in my mouth.
 But the specialist doesn’t do gas for some reason. He won’t put you under either. Apparently he feels it’s vitally important that his patients experience his root canals while we’re totally wide awake and free of all drugs.
I wonder how he feels about me having three or four straight shots of vodka before my 6:45 AM appointment!
Yup..6:45 in the morning.
Anybody who sees patients at that ridiculous hour must want to make darn sure the screaming is over by the time other people in the office building show up for work.
Since I need two root canals, I was kind of hoping they could be done at the same session to get it over with but that apparently isn’t an option either.
So, I’ll just have to ‘man up’ I guess and be glad I live in an age where all dental work has been rendered relatively painless thanks to new and improved anesthetics.
Wait a minute..this “specialist” uses modern anesthetics doesn’t he?
“Linda, will you toss me the phone book?”  
 

Waxing Nostalgic

Posted: Monday, May 3, 2010 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Way back in the dark ages (1975) I was called into the office of Keloland TV president, Evans Nord.
It had been just a few weeks since I’d been chosen to co-anchor the Big News at Ten with Steve Hemmingsen.
Oh, god..I thought..this is it, he’s going to fire me.
“How ya doin’ Doug? Have a seat.”
Enough with the small talk, I thought. Let’s just get it over with.
“Doug,” Mr. Nord said, “You’re doing a good job on the air..but you need to loosen up a little bit. At times it’s as if I’m looking at a figure in a wax museum.”
I was reminded of that last week as I headed up to my hometown of Volga where I was one of 47 people..living and dead.. featured in the annual “Sioux Valley 4th Graders’ South Dakota Famous People Wax Museum.”
The students themselves decided who they wanted to portray then did extensive research  including the gathering of props and costumes and memorizing a speech about the life and times of their characters.
 
Members of the Ingalls family were portrayed by Emily Ford (Laura) Danielle Roth (Ma) Sierra Leighton (Mary)Bethany Rennich (Carrie) Nikole Ziegler (Grace)There was no actual wax involved..however each young portrayer stood silent at their various station in the school gym until visitors came by and pushed a paper button to bring the South Dakota person alive.
Madison artist, John Green was on hand to see his character performed by Annie DenisonIt was great fun..and eerily flattering..to see the Big News Team represented. There was a lot of memory work involved and each of the portrayers did a truly excellent job.
The Big News team 2010. (l to r) Trevor Olson (Doug Lund) Lucas Trooien (Jim Burt..I love the plaid jacket) Jacob Janes (Steve Hemmingsen) Brennan Stoltenberg (Captain 11 aka Dave Dedrick)A deep bow and tip of the hat to 4th grade teacher, Bonnie Graff and all the other teachers and parents who helped pull off this unique program of education and entertainment.
About 750 people made the rounds of this living history exhibit.
If it were up to me..I’d give all the kids an A+.