Archive for March 2011

Rock On Part 3

Posted: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 10:45 am
By: Doug Lund
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 I had a rather surreal experience the other morning. One of the biggest names in Hollywood gave me a call on my cell. Nah, it wasn’t an offer to be in a movie or TV show..but to respectfully decline an invitation to come home and be present in person for his induction into the South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame April 16th

gary owens young The Hollywood big shot is GARY OWENS!  Okay, I’ll bet I’ve lost some of you 40 and under types; “Gary who?” you say, “Never heard of him.” Oh, yes you HAVE!  Even if the name doesn’t automatically ring a bell you’ve certainly “heard” him.  Here’s a little background: Gary Altman was born and raised in Plankinton west of Mitchell. His mom was a teacher and county auditor; his dad was the sheriff.  As a kid, he loved the idea of being on the radio and was determined to make that happen. He was just a teenager when KORN Radio in Mitchell gave him a chance.  From that humble beginning, he went on to become one of the best known radio voices in the country. At a time when AM radio deejays were superstars who could influence the careers of rock and roll singers just by playing their songs, Gary Owens (he dropped the Altman) was one of the biggest.

gary owensWith his delicious baritone pipes, clever off- the- wall commentary and crazy comedy characters, he conquered stations thoughout the Midwest and Southeast taking every one of them to number ONE in the ratings. During the fifties and sixties, he not only played the records of Elvis, Buddy Holly and all the other big names in rock and roll but he knew them personally. “I always worked off a playlist, though. I never took a penny in payola,” Owens told me. By 1961, he’d had made it to the top station in Los Angeles. From there he began breaking into television with guest appearances on the Jack Benny Program, McHale’s Navy,  and The Munsters just to name a few.  He also began doing voices for cartoon characters like Roger Ramjet, Space Ghost and hundreds more.  In 1968, because of his quirky sense of humor,  he was picked to be the straight laced, gibberish-speaking announcer on the wildly popular Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In which ran for six seasons on NBC. He was known for coining the phrase, “Beautiful Downtown Burbank.” Owens has done over 30 thousand commercials, is a member of the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame right between Walt Disney and Betty White.

gary owens todayEven at 75 and partially retired, Gary Owens is still busy. In fact, as I was writing this, I heard him on network TV voicing a movie trailer for an upcoming film.

Anyway, Owens was calling me back to express his genuine gratitude for being inducted into the South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and disappointment at not being able to be in Sioux Falls on the 16th because of a prior commitment in San Francisco. We did interview him live for about an hour last week on Grant Peterson’s radio program over KBRK  in Brookings. He is an absolute delight to visit with; humble, hilarious and the pride of Plankinton. Okay, that’s who WON’T be here. Let me tell you who WILL!

 

2011 Inductees include, The Torres, Don Robar and the Monarchs , The Shattoes, The X-Men, DD and the Fayrohs, Steve Ellis And The Starfires and The Pilgrims. As incredible as it may seem, every one of the groups being inducted will actually take to the huge stage at the Ramkota Exhibt Hall and perform those same rock and roll songs they were known for back in the day. Some members have flown across the country several times to a place where they could gather together and rehearse!   the mob bandSpeaking of reunions, this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concert will be highlighted by the return of THE MOB.

mob tee shirtThis amazing horn and show band out of Chicago packed the popular Mocamba Club in Sioux Falls where they played on a regular basis during the late sixties and early seventies. Audiences just loved their big sound and high energy. Members of The Mob loved South Dakota too which is why they’ve decided to accept their induction into the Hall of Fame IN PERSON and have gotten together from all over the country for the first time in nearly 30 years to make the magic happen again with an hour long performance to close out the evening at the Ramkota. “Who knows?” says Mob lead singer, Big Al, “This just might motivate us to taking our show back on the road.”

Only general admission tickets remain for this special induction ceremony and  concert Saturday April 16th.  They’re available at Lewis Southgate. For more information on the show and the South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, CLICK HERE.

The Answer My Friends Is Blowin In The Wind

Posted: Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 12:43 pm
By: Doug Lund
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 Never left the house Tuesday.  It was so windy  I saw white caps on the mud puddles left behind by thunder and lightening storms that came charging across Keloland all day. This morning it’s been snowing and the forecast is for below normal cold the rest of the week. Ah, March; just when you think she’s agreed to finally come in and cure our cabin fever by opening the South door and letting some warm air and sunshine in, she does an about-face and slams it shut again. “Just teasing,” March laughs..sounding very much like Dorothy’s wicked witch in the “Wizard of Oz.”

 The month of March reminds me of a girlfriend I had in high school. I dreamed about her all winter. By spring, I’d finally built up the nerve to ask her out and felt a flush of warmth come over me when she said yes. But before long, and much to my surprise and disappointment, her affections for me eventually turned cold when another guy with a nice car showed up. March stinks!

blog wed liz old                      blog wed liz debby

 

 

 

Elizabeth Taylor has died.  Reports say she had just turned 79 last month which reminded me of the day 50 years ago when I remember thinking she was already really old. I happened to be in our local drug store just as Mr. Tupper was stapling a new shipment of magazines shut before putting them up on the racks for sale. One had a picture of Liz on the cover and the headline read” Elizabeth Taylor at 29” She still looked gorgeous, of course, but at age 14, I figured 29 was way over the hill. To be honest, I wasn’t a big fan. Never got over what she and Eddie Fisher did to poor little Debby Reynolds.

kirstie dancingI don’t watch “Dancing with the Stars” but tuned in for a few minutes the other night to see how Kirstie Alley did. I always liked her on “Cheers.” It was a tough job replacing Diane (Shelly Long) on the show but she was so good that audiences soon forgot all about Diane and embraced the sexy brunette, Rebecca Howe. After the series though, Kirstie Alley gained a lot of weight and pretty much disappeared from the spotlight. The tabloids and late night comedians had a field day at her expense. But then, Kirstie dieted her way back into the public eye as a spokeswoman for Jennie Craig.

 

blog wed kirsteyHer appearance on Oprah caused a lot of jaws to drop. But before long, Miss Alley had returned to her former eating habits and went back into semi seclusion. Now, here she is again having lost about 70 pounds, dancing up a storm and looking darn good for a woman who just turned 60.  I root for her because I can identify with some of the things she, and Oprah too, have gone through..especially the part about getting fat..losing a bunch of weight..gaining it back..losing it ..gaining it back and eventually just giving up and hating how you’ve  become.

 That’s where I’ve been for the last several years but now, thanks to Kirstie, I feel inspired to give it another go. I welcome your encouragement but, please, no diet suggestions or reminders about the importance of exercise. I know them all. My problem is a basic laziness..the cure for which must come from my own determination and, perhaps, a little divine intervention which I have been repeatedly requesting.  Wouldn’t it be something if God decided to answer my prayer  by sending an angel down to tell me that I must take Linda dancing under the stars each night?

Sioux Falls’ Nuclear Experiment

Posted: Saturday, March 19, 2011 at 4:41 pm
By: Doug Lund
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 I suppose I’m just going to have to give in and jump on the wind generator bandwagon as an alternative energy source now that the disaster in Japan has soured public opinion on Nuclear energy even more.

Steve Hemmingsen, who lives in the shadow of a gazillion of those unsightly(my opinion) electric generating whirligigs spinning away on every southwest Minnesota hillside, recently reminded me about how Sioux Falls was once a real pioneer in the development of nuclear power; a “Pathfinder” in both name and mission.

Back in the 50’s and 60’s about all we knew of atomic power was the fact that Russia and the United States had a bunch of intercontinental ballistic missiles pointed at one another promising mutual annihilation if either side got too pushy.

atomic plant oneBut there were others at the same time trying to downplay the bombs and tout the POSITIVE side of nuclear energy as an economical, clean, relatively safe source for generating electricity. After all, the U.S. Navy had already proven that it was feasible with the launching of “Nautilus” the first nuclear powered submarine in 1955; the beginning of our nuclear Navy.  

Northern States Power Company along with other investor owned utilities wanted to be in on the ground floor so it applied for and received permission to build a small nuclear plant just northeast of the growing and industrially ambitious city of Sioux Falls. It would be one of the first all nuclear generating stations in the country and serve as a guinea pig for the utilities to  find out how to run a nuke plant and demonstrate the feasibility of building more.  The chamber of commerce was all for it; believing the facility would attract new people and business to our “modern progressive” community. The chamber even used Pathfinder in the tourist brochure of “must see” places in Sioux Falls.

atomic pathfinder two

“Pathfinder” went on-line in 1966 but almost immediately began having mechanical problems.  In fact, it only ran at maximum output ONE time and then for just a half hour. Within a year, it was decided that the plant was too costly to maintain and not all that safe so the reactor, manufactured by Allis/Chalmers (the tractor people) was shut down and converted to use natural gas and oil as fuel to make steam for powering the turbines.  Here’s what Atomic Power Resources Associates official blog has to say about Pathfinder: “This plant, was one of the most troubled in history because of the design of the reactor which was one of only two ever built here that attempted to use nuclear superheating of the steam in the reactor core. The plant was never successful and never passed full power tests, and was never put on the grid of Northern States Power for any measurable time before being terminated.

But NSP did learn from Pathfinder’s problems and went on to build several more nuclear power plants. Just no more in South Dakota.  It took 24 YEARS for the reactor to cool enough to be safely removed from the building and hauled off to a nuclear waste disposal site in Washington State. I remember during those years there were lots of whispers and rumors about Pathfinder occasionally leaking little poofs of radiation. One story that went around was that the plant had once come close to a melt down. I think that was probably right after the movie, China Syndrome, came out. To my knowledge, though, no such evidence ever surfaced.

In 1994, Pathfinder was renamed for NSP executive, Angus Anson, who was killed in the same plane crash that claimed the life of Governor George Mickelson. The plant is still there and still used by Xcel as a backup.. providing extra electricity during those scorching humid summer days when everybody’s air conditioner is cranked up on high.

I suppose if you live near the Buffalo Ridge when it’s hot like that, you could go stand in front of one of those mega million dollar giant fans that pepper the landscape. I’m sure they must generate a nice breeze along with a little electricity.

Tragedy In Hi Def

Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 at 10:06 am
By: Doug Lund
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Sure, no sooner do I finally shake this cold that’s been gobbling away at my energy and disposition for the last two weeks, than I come under attack from another virus. This one, though, was aimed at my computer..not my body. Ever since the terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan, I, like most of you, have been dumbstruck by all the fascinating yet tragic images coming out of the disaster area.   It was while searching through some of those images on Google that my laptop screen suddenly erupted with warnings that I was under attack by all the “wares” (adware/spyware etc.) designed by evil malicious techno terrorists who get their jollies by shutting people’s computers down and locking them up tight. When this happened once before, I made the mistake of clicking on a windows that popped up offering to free my machine of the assailant only to discover that IT was part of the virus too and all I had done was to imbed the bugs deeper into the bowels of my little laptop requiring Keloland’s I.T. guy a couple days to exterminate. I know, some of you are thinking, hey Doug, don’t you know that a virus and malware are two different things? Yes, but I could care less. Oh, wait..I COULDN’T care less.  Aside from a few basics, I don’t know..or care..very much about computers at all; at least not how they function. That became painfully evident last night when I decided to rent the big hit movie from last year, “The Social Network.” 

japan quake social net

 It’s the story of Mark Zuckerberg..the kid who founded (or co-founded or stole) Facebook and became the world’s youngest billionaire. I suppose the film deserves all the accolades it received but to be honest, most of it was, for me, like watching a foreign language movie without the subtitles or listening to someone read the owner’s manual of a Hewlett Packard PC for a couple hours; boring unless you’re a geek.

But you have to credit that same technoligy young guys like Zuckerberg invented with providing all of us a chance to witness one of the world’s great tragedies, Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, like never before as victims record the apocalyptic events on their high definition home cameras and  phones.

Japan quake one

 It’s incredible how we’ve been able to sit in front of our TV watching Japanese office workers scramble for safety as their buildings shake and sway on their foundations. Then see businesses, cars, homes and even people picked up and swept away by a raging wall of water that followed the force 9 earthquake.  It all seemed oddly familiar to me until I realized it looks just like the special effects of a Hollywood disaster movie..only this is all too real.

Anyway, it appears as though many parts of Keloland are in for another unfortunate close encounter with flooding rivers and streams as winter leaves one last calling card before making its good-riddance exit. I read in the paper that we could be in for the worst flooding since 1969. I don’t think you have to go that far back. 1997 rings the bell as the soggiest spring I’ve ever seen. Parts of Eastern and Northeastern South Dakota, especially Day and Brown Counties, still haven’t recovered from that one.  

Let’s hope that in a month from now, the waters will have receded without causing too much damage, farmers will be itching to get on with Spring planting, crabapple trees will be starting to bloom, yards will be turning green and filled with robins pecking away at earthworms just below the surface, the golf courses will be open and I’ll have run out of excuses for not taking the Christmas lights down.

Notes From The Parking Lot

Posted: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 at 12:47 pm
By: Doug Lund
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I’m writing this from the front seat of Big Red parked in the lot of a well known fast food restaurant where I just downed a breakfast biscuit. I had to get out of the house this morning because A) Kelo called and needed me to come down and record a promo, B) I  was hoping that a change of scenery might get the creative juices flowing and unclog my blog bog-down, and C) Linda is in full Spring cleaning mode and me sitting there on the couch dividing most of my attention between the TV and the laptop is an understandable source of irritation to her. So, it was either get out or get busy.

I haven’t been worth a hoot for over a week anyway. The mother of all colds decided to pay a call bringing her full arsenal of ailments beginning with a scratchy throat followed by incessant sneezing which got my snot pump flowing like the Falls of the Big Sioux.  Then came the congestion and the constant coughing; hours of hacking away in a vane attempt to loosen great gobs of mucus mired deep within my chest cavity. (Sorry to be so vivid) My reward for bravely doing battle against this green monster? Stomach and rib muscles that had become so sore the next cough or, God forbid, a sneeze, would drop me to my knees, assume the fetal position and writhe in pain. Anyway, after lots of swigs from the Robitussin bottle as well as ample amounts of Vicks Vapo Rub, I’m finally feeling better. But I’m still having trouble coming up with a topic to write about.  Oh, there are lots of possibilities; gas prices for example. It now costs me over 50 dollars to fill Big Red’s tank. FIFTY DOLLARS!  Well, Doug, there’s that Libya civil war deal that’s apparently causing some of it. NO it’s not. We only import a fraction of Libyan oil. Besides the current world oil production is MORE than current demand. It’s the &^%$# oil SPECULATORS that are causing all of this. If social media sites like Facebook can be credited with stirring up successful revolts in the Middle East..I wonder why it hasn’t been used to bring about a world wide rebellion against the ridiculously high cost of fuel. There IS NO CURRENT SHORTAGE OF OIL..yet we’re getting screwed like an old incandescent light bulb at the pump because a few folks are worried that there might be .  Now there..you see? When I start writing in capital letters to stress a point, it’s a  sure sign that  I’ve gone too far. I’m yelling at the wind and I’m not very good at it.

blog oil

 I do recall, however, that when this happened before three years ago, Americans didn’t just sit on their hands..we fought back by CUTTING back which caused the oil barons to get nervous and prices came down.  That doesn’t seem to be the case this time around, though. Instead, I’m hearing complacent utterings like, “Well, it IS frustrating but I guess there isn’t much we can do about it.” “ Yeah, the airlines are ripping us off..but we’ve got to get to Vegas.” “I don’t like the idea of those full body scans either but you never know, grandma might be packin’ heat in her girdle.”

I also could write about Charley Sheen parading his mental illness in front of the anxiously accommodating  TV cameras every night. But, for me, this whole tragic display is like watching a bullfight and knowing it’s just a matter of time before the matador drives a machete through the bull’s brain and he’s dragged out of the arena by his heels.  

blog charlie

Or, I could write about state budget cuts. Linda and I went to Hartford Elementary School last Monday. Our granddaughter, Ella, was student of the week in her Kindergarten class meaning she could invite anybody she wanted for a tour of her classroom and to share lunch in the cafeteria. It was such fun to see Ella’s eyes light up when she came in from recess and how excited she was to show us all her projects. Her teacher is Mrs. Wallace who, for kids that age, is more than a teacher. She’s a mom, a doctor, a psychologist, a disciplinarian and a best friend. As I watched her handle all the cares and concerns of those little ones in her charge..answering all their sometimes tedious questions with patience, understanding and compassion, I thought to myself..you couldn’t pay me enough to do her job. But it has been my experience that most K-12 public school teachers aren’t all that different from Mrs. Wallace who put the education of our kids above all else..including a big fat paycheck.  Now, South Dakota has gotten itself in a budget predicament forcing major cuts to balance the scales..no exceptions..public schools too must bite the bullet. I have a hunch that even though they’re not likely to see significant salary bumps anytime soon, teachers like Mrs. Wallace will not abandon their posts or lessen their degree of commitment to children’s education. They’ll carry on without complaint. I just wish the extra dollar a gallon I’m being forced to pay for gas could go to them instead of lining the pockets of greedy gas bag oil speculators who send their kids to private schools.

Care For A Cup Of Coffee?

Posted: Saturday, March 5, 2011 at 7:31 am
By: Doug Lund
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 coffee in coffee

I love coffee. I love the aroma of a fresh pot brewing in the morning. I can hardly wait for that sound our Mr.Coffee pot makes when it’s nearly done. (Sort of like the noise from several people all at once trying to suck the last delicious drop of a milkshake through a straw.)

I must have at least two cups of coffee each morning in order to function at all, but then so do 150 million other Americans over the age of 18. Coffee consumption in this country has soared in the last 20 years which, I suppose, can be traced back to specialty coffee shops, led by Starbucks, that began springing up everywhere offering espressos, lattes and cappuccinos as well as brewed coffees made from freshly roasted magic beans just in from South America or Hawaii. For some coffee facts and figures, click here.

I’ve never gotten into the fancy foamy stuff but my taste buds have become a whole lot fussier since first sampling some of the exotic blends offered at those shops.  I’m a cheapskate, though, and cringe at the prices they charge so I’ve been on a quest for several years to come up with that rich coffee-shop flavor AT HOME for a fraction of the cost. I think I’ve found it but first let me retrace my long journey.  I come from Scandinavian stock and Norskies are notorious for seemingly excessive coffee consumption. My mother was such a coffee junkie that she’d usually skip the electric percolator opting instead for a plain old coffee pot on top of the stove,  tossing  a few scoops of Hills Brothers right into the boiling water. She enjoyed chewing on the coffee grounds that wound up in the bottom of her cup..main-lining the caffeine right into her system.

I had no idea what it tasted like back then. You see, I was one of those who swore I’d never drink the stuff. It was an attitude that remained until I reached high school and got a part time job right across the street from our house washing bottles for a dairy testing lab set up in the basement. On Saturday’s, the lady of the house invited employees up to her kitchen for coffee..which meant a big plate of freshly baked frosting-covered cinnamon rolls the size of a Frisbee. To drink, she offered milk or coffee. Now, the bottles I had to wash contained milk samples from dairy herds across the area. If a box of samples sat around for more than a day or two, the contents turned all sorts of rotten; sometimes just a gelatinous glob that would burp a little as I dumped it down the drain. Other times it had turned to the consistency of a yellowish green moldy cheese with a limburger essence. Anyway, after cleaning a few hundred of those I was in no mood for a glass of milk with my roll so that’s how and why I first became a coffee drinker.

At Keloland, my desk was just a few steps away from the coffee machine and I consumed it by the gallon. The only time it tasted worth a hoot, though, was in the first ten minutes after brewing and even then it suffered from flavor deprivation because the grounds were meted out in those stingy little pre-measured pillow packets. Never enough coffee in them..plus some people, while making a pot, would just toss that bundle into the basket not caring if it ended up wadded in a corner. The end result was a rust colored hot water concoction that some..not knowing the difference…would gleefully drink anyway.

Most church basement coffee is like that; pale and tasteless. I’ve also never had a good cup of coffee from the little machines in motel rooms..never. Yet, when we go down the hall for the free continental breakfasts the coffee out of the big brewer can be pretty good.

A lot of restaurants, too, seem bent on saving money by serving up cheap bland coffee. Maybe they intend it that way so customers won’t loiter around all day and night taking up valuable booth space  gulping down free refills.

Anyway, as I was saying earlier, I’ve searched for years trying to come up with a consistently delicious cup of rich..never bitter..full bodied coffee that I can make at home. We have tried just about every commercial and exotic brand. We’ve ground our own beans, used distilled water, even unbleached filters but the results have been..well.. erratic and labor intensive..not to mention expensive.

coffee juanWe’ve finally decided that 100% Columbian coffee delivers most of what we’re looking for. It has the fewest number of quakers which in the world of coffee are those underdeveloped beans that make the brew bitter.   We also are more generous with the amount of grounds used in our Mr. Coffee machine: 3 heaping tablespoons per pot.

We have been using Folgers brand for some time now but when I saw it was up to 12 DOLLARS A CAN the other day, I decided to try the HyVee brand of Columbian instead and save a couple bucks. To be honest, we can’t tell much if any difference but Linda did pour the contents from the metal HyVee container into the empty plastic Folgers can. It’s easier to handle..plus you can never tell when company pops in. We wouldn’t want them to think we drink and serve the cheap stuff.  Well, gotta run, coffee’s on.coffee lady three