What About Bob?

Posted: Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 2:09 pm
By: Doug Lund

schieffer

 

Why in the world is Bob Schieffer  retiring from CBS?

He’s still the sharpest knife in the network’s drawer. His political savvy and general news knowledge is unsurpassed by anybody in TV broadcasting.

Bob Schieffer is just too important to leave. So why is he?

Oh, that’s right. The man is 78 years old. He’s done about all there is to do in the television news business. Covered every story. Monitored every debate. Asked all the questions. Anchored all the newscasts.

Perhaps he just wants to finally put the D.C. Beltway in his rear view mirror and head home to Texas where he can stroll through fields of Blue Bonnets thinking up lyrics to country songs.

It also might be nice to travel abroad without a camera crew in tow and maybe come up with ideas for another book or two before the good Lord calls him home.

I’ve always admired Bob Schieffer for probably the same reasons you do; his incredible knowledge of history and politics and how he reports it on TV..not with the perceptible arrogance of a Dan Rather but with a respect for viewers and in language people understand. Aside from Charles Kuralt and Tom Brokaw, nobody has represented citizen Doug better than Bob Schieffer in asking the questions I want answers to; be they posed to pontiffs or peasants or presidents.

For some reason, Bob Schieffer has never been on CBS’s “A” list for anchoring the “Evening News”..although I hear that after Uncle Walter was forced into retirement in 1981 because of some idiotic network age limitation, Schieffer was 3rd on the list behind Roger Mudd and the eventual successor to the anchor throne; Dan Rather.

Ironic, then, that when Rather..who managed to take a number 1 broadcast into a the comfortable number 3 position with his stiff personality and staccato presentation, finally got himself fired by letting his bias show over the George W. Bush Air National Guard document  fiasco, ..it was Schieffer the network called upon to calm the storm. Schieffer was 68 when he took over the reins..three years older than when Cronkite was forced out. It was understood that he would be interim anchor and Schieffer..being the gentleman he is and always has been, accepted that. What I didn’t understand then and don’t understand now is why the network didn’t just offer him the position straight out. He clearly saved the broadcast; restoring trust in a ship that was sinking with Rather at the helm. His ratings jumped,demonstrating that viewers appreciated the straight talking easy going Texan who’d been a familiar symbol of CBS integrity since the sixties. Plus, he loved doing it.

I particularly liked moments like this. When most anchors are afraid to break out of their stoic character and give a genuine reaction to a story, Bob Schieffer, never hid his feelings..be they sad or hilarious.

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He should have had the job. But no, the network decided that NBC’s morning darling, Katie Couric, had the right stuff for evenings..so, after nearly a year and a half of grooming, she stepped into the CBS anchor chair with a five year 75 million dollar contract and Bob graciously gave it up. In fact, he was back to being a reporter on that same broadcast the next night and, of course, his duties as host of the award winning “Face The Nation.”

A lot of people were clamoring for interviews with Schieffer upon his departure from the anchor chair and, being Bob, he was busy granting most of them. So I wasn’t expecting anything when I sent him an e-mail saying pretty much what I’ve said above; that I’ve always admired his work..that I’ve considered him to be a class act and that he proved it once again with his gracious exit and his Southern Gentleman attitude toward Katie. I mentioned I was about to retire after 32 years in broadcasting and learned again from him on how to do it gracefully.

It was that very evening I received a reply and..doggonit..I swear I saved but can’t find it. Here, as best as I can recall was what Mr. Schieffer said:  “Well, Doug, that’s about the nicest thing I’ve ever heard. You’ve just made my day. My best to you down the road. Bob.

A couple months later, I actually got to meet the man himself as he came to South Dakota as a recipient of the Al Neuharth Excellence award in Vermillion. It was at that ceremony, we discovered Schieffer’s “country side.”  Here’s the story I did. I must say that as a country music writer and performer, Bob Schieffer is a tremendous newsman.

http://www.keloland.com/newsdetail.cfm/lund-at-large-singing-schieffer/?id=51552

Remembering Trygve

Posted: Tuesday, April 7, 2015 at 12:07 pm
By: Doug Lund

tryg farm place

I first heard the term “Norwegian Bachelor Farmer” when I fell head over heels in love with Garrison Keillor’s PBS radio show, “A Prairie Home Companion back in 1982.”  My favorite part of the program was..and is..Keillor’s “News from Lake Wobegon;”an account of the people and week’s events in the fictional little Minnesota town of his youth.

Keillor’s humorous and often poignant ramblings have always struck a nostalgic chord with me and all listeners who grew up in and around towns just like Lake Wobegon “where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking and all the children are above average.”

I must admit, though, if there was a real town that most closely resembles Lake Wobegon, not only in size and proximity of lake to land but also in real life characters it’s Hendricks, Minnesota.

My friend and longtime Keloland colleague has been telling me about the unique folks of Hendricks ever since he built a cabin on the lake just a quarter mile or so west of town over 30 years ago. Since that time, he’s turned his cabin into a permanent home with several additions and modifications..several of them made after suffering a series of personal losses. It was during those times, I think, Steve  found comfort among the positive thinking folks in his adoptive home town. Folks like John and Joy Thompson who, went against the grain and turned an old funeral home into a lovely B&B..then continued buying property on Main Street in hopes of jump starting businesses there. Gary and Sherry Johnson who were disappointed that there wasn’t a gymnastics program or facility at the school..so they built one on their farm just outside of town and have been holding matches there ever since.  Jason Markkula has always had a love for brewing beer. Folks were skeptical when he bought the old bank building on Main with plans to turn it into a brewery. Construction went on forever but finally, the “Bank Brewery” is up and running turning out craft beers with a wildlife theme. And, for the first time in over 40 years, Hendricks has a movie theater again on Main Street. Thanks to the efforts of Jay Nelson, Gary Johnson and Ron Rybinski..the Red Barn Theater has recently opened showing first run films in this town of less than 1,000.

I think, though, Steve has been closest to the Trooien family….Phil and Roberta..who live just outside of town…but especially Trygve Trooien, Phil’s little brother and Hendrick’s best known and best loved Norwegian Bachelor Farmer.tryg with cows

I’m not sure how or why Norwegian protocol was broken and the operation and ownership of the home dairy farm was handed off to Tryg…the youngest of the boys. I’m guessing it was because the other two realized Tryg was the natural choice. He loved the hard work and never missed a milking. He was a perfectionist and wanted things run right..the old fashioned way. He also had  a droll sense of humor and was smart as a whip..both characteristics that Hemmingsen admired and cemented their friendship.

Whenever I made my way up North to Hendricks I always hoped Tryg was  around so I could get a dose of his wit and wisdom and hear that genuine Norskie accent that he no doubt acquired from years of living in that big house first with his parents..then his mom..then alone.

I also loved the site of a man in his bib over(hauls). It was all my dad and uncles ever wore except on Sundays. Tryg didn’t necessarily make that distinction..often slipping a sport coat over a clean pair on the Sabbath.  They were his trademark.tryg by old tractor

As a packrat with plenty of room in his 18-room farm house, Tryg didn’t even realize he had a unique collection until about 15 years ago. He had saved overalls his mother had patched as well as brands he had tried to see if they were better than his favorite brand, which was Lee. A friend suggested he put on a fashion show, and the 1,000-acre rancher and dairy farmer added fashion shows to his resume.
He took his show on the road, often pairing up with Used Cotton, a country/bluegrass band out of Brookings.tryg with models two
“We maintain a ‘have fun’ atmosphere throughout the show, which takes about 1 1/2 hours,” Trooien told Farm Show magazine. It takes that long to show 80 different overalls from a collection of 200+ (42 brands including some that have been “gently worn”), modeled by two of Trooien’s models and 15 local high school and college age girls. Trooien provides the loudspeaker system, background music and the commentary, including information off the tags he has saved from the overalls when they were new. For example, Finck’s claimed that their overalls “wear like a pig’s nose”.

Tryg with his full compliment of overall fashion models.

Tryg with his full compliment of overall fashion models.

It was..in part..a quest to find additions to Tryg’s over(haul) collection that led to some infamous road trips around the Midwest with Tryg, his brother, Phil.. Steve Hemmingsen and Brookings radio personality, Grant Peterson. They traveled thousands of miles..a couple hundred at a time..visiting historic places, farm operations, unique businesses and of course eating joints with lots of laughing to work up an appetite.

Steve, Grant, Trygve and Phil "on the road again."

Steve, Grant, Trygve and Phil “on the road again.”

They must have had a standing order.

They must have had a standing order.

But the good times they are a fleeting. A couple years ago, Grant suffered a debilitating stroke that cut short his radio career.  And then after he was seen driving his pickup around Hendricks on Saturday, Trygve Trooien returned to the only home he’d ever known; the family farm South of Astoria. He sat down in his recliner. That’s where the hired man found him Easter morning. Tryg’s tired heart had apparently given out.

I’d asked Steve if he’d care to write something about his old friend here and he thought Tryg and the family would like it if I would. But then, he did offer the following beautiful remembrance.

I wonder what Tryg…who always had to have brother Phil do his computer work and only had an old-fashioned dial phone…would think had he known anybody in the world can Google up Trygve Trooien, once the smallest dairy farmer in the county, then the biggest dairy farmer in the county and then the only dairy farmer in the county, all with no changes on his part. 

I don’t think most people appreciated the emotions involved when the daily dairy grind just became too much for his heart and he had to ring down the curtain on 109 years of continuous dairying in his barn on the home place south of Astoria. 

I once told him, during one of our many runs to Sioux Falls or Watertown, that I suspected that was a pretty emotional moment.  He admitted it was.  Right up until his death, he was anticipating this spring’s imminent calf crop from the small stock herd he kept, mostly for old time’s sake, I think.  He was also looking forward to spring planting on his remaining acres (he had “farmed out” a good deal of it) with his collection of old Farmalls.  Not many cabs around his place.  Just calves and cats, though a lot of them scattered with the dairy herd. 

On another of our “doctoring” trips he was reminiscing about a long-ago bachelor party that got pretty wild.  Tryg rounded out the account with: “I know for a fact that the party resulted in one marriage and….at least two divorces.”

tryg steve horse road trip

Tryg was married to farming, particularly the home place.  I asked him if he had ever considered any other occupation.  Tryg…who was  a paymaster in Vietnam which involved flying the pay envelopes to wherever the troops were…to my surprise said he kind of liked the military and could have done that for a while.  But his dad couldn’t handle the farm anymore, so it was back to Oak Lake.  In reflecting on his answer, I got to thinking “this makes sense.”  Tryg likes things in rows, nice and orderly.  The military might have suited him. tryg on thrasher

He liked to plant his corn himself.  His machinery is mostly neatly lined up next to the township road that serves as his driveway, where he would watch herds; I mean multiple herds of 20 or 30 deer, grazing on his bale stacks, up on top of the stacks like the Hartford logo.  .  Most farmers get all worked up over that.  It didn’t seem to bother Trygve.  He said his cows ate it even though the deer marked their territory first. 

Thanks, Steve

Tryg’s obit

 

Move Along. Nothing To See Here

Posted: Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 12:59 pm
By: Doug Lund

I have a new state slogan idea for the South Dakota department of tourism:

“Great Faces, Great Races.”

speed limit

That’s right folks, we admit there’s nothing in our state to see or savor between Sioux City and Fargo or Sioux Falls and Rapid City so we’ve jacked up the speed limit to 80 (which, as we all know, probably means 90 wink wink) allowing you to hammer down and put our boring state in your rear view mirror in record time.   Why heck, if you have a huge enough gas tank and enormous size bladder..you could probably “wiz” across South Dakota without ever having to stop at all.

What amazes me is how this little bit of legislation, tagged on to a gas tax and license plate fee increase, flew through the state capitol and across the governor’s desk faster than a toupee in a tornado.

State highway people are out in force hoping to get the 250 or so speed limit signs changed from 75 to 80 within in the next couple weeks. Apparently the “minimum” limit will remain at 40 M.P.H.   which means those who, for reasons of safety or economy, choose to plug along closer to the minimum than the maximum, will feel even more heat from annoyed drivers extending a one finger salute as they woosh by at  90.  Oh, and those truck drivers who regularly hold up the show blocking both lanes in their feeble attempts to pass one another? Well, I expect they’ll infuriate newly empowered lead foots even more now.

A familiar sight along every interstate in the country.

A familiar sight along every interstate in the country.

By the way, I just learned that many..if not most..trucks have speed limiters..or governors..installed on their engines restricting how fast they can go. In fact, a measure mandating those speed limiters is awaiting final approval in Washington. I’m not sure what their maximum speed will be..or is; 68 is what I’m told. It’s also not clear if the new rule, to take place in June, will apply to all big rigs on the road or just the new models. What I do know is that we can expect no end to road blocks by 18 wheelers as they try in vane to get around another semi set at the same exact maximum speed. From what I’ve read, truck drivers detest speed limiters while fleet owners love ‘em citing publically that it’s all about safety while they pocket profits from lower diesel fuel consumption.

I know a lot of you couldn’t be happier about this newly granted freedom to pour on the cobs, but I’m wondering if this could be a different kind of speed trap. Suppose the highway patrol no longer looks the other way at drivers who fudge the current limit by six or seven miles an hour and start nailing you for ANY reading on their radar that’s over 80. That would put a lot of extra money from fines into the road and bridge kitty, I’ll bet.

“But officer, I was only doing 82.” “Sorry, sir, no excuses any more.” “So I was actually able to get places faster when  it was 75?” “ That’s about it, sir. Here’s your ticket. Have a nice day.”

Oh, great, another excuse for road rage; ticked off truckers vs speeders who’ve just had their pockets picked.

Of course it’s all a moot point anyway. With all the new money for road and bridge construction, fired-up motorists who are seeing red..will likely be seeing more orange instead….as in barrels and cones where the speed limit is 45 and fines are doubled.

Boy, Doug You Sure Have Some Nerve

Posted: Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 1:12 pm
By: Doug Lund

Sitting in the doctor’s office the other day..I heard those words no patient ever wants to hear.

“I’m sorry, Doug. Your condition is irreversible.”

He went on to list my short list of options; both are scary to ponder but offer my only hope to end the pain.

Okay, okay..enough with the theatrics; the doctor is my new dentist. (Previous one retired..presumably with a good dental plan.) My irreversible condition is an upper molar which was professionally covered with an expensive crown several years ago..but has decided to become  troublesome..like a gremlin sitting on my shoulder with a ball peen hammer banging on my cheek. It was called a “permanent” crown back then..but that wasn’t entirely true. Oh, it still looks okay on the outside and an X-ray showed no gaping holes beneath the surface, but the nerve below molar number one has decided, in my old age, to erupt into convulsions each time anything with a temperature that’s  hotter or colder than tepid.. slides by; manifesting its displeasure with a knee-buckling jolt of pain that eventually mellows into an agonizing ache which can then only be moderately tolerated through the use of copious amounts of Ibuprofen.

( At least 16 a day.)

Well, it was bad enough to get me out of the house and into a dentist’s office; no small feat especially since I don’t have dental insurance any more.

That’s when I learned about my options; root canal or extraction.

dentist

I once had my wisdom teeth pulled (no jokes please) and don’t remember anything about it since I opted to be put under during the procedure and never felt a thing.

In fact, I used to visit the dentist on a regular basis because I’ve always had pretty good teeth (in spite of the David Letterman-size gap up front and canines that are so long and pointy I could play Dracula without a special dental fitting) and wanted to keep them that way. Plus, my dentist wasn’t fussy about cranking up the Nitrous Oxide to help mask any discomfort I might experience in the chair. The only problem with Nitrous, I found, was holding back the urge to giggle when imagining all the commotion going on in my wide gaping mouth including occasional wisps of smoke coming from the drill as he tore through an old metal filling. Hilarious.

I won’t say my family and I ever looked forward to dental visits but I didn’t worry about them either knowing that whatever needed doing was covered by our plan at work.

The sad reality is, however, once that expires after retirement..you’re pretty much on your own. At least Medicare doesn’t give a fat rat’s patootie about the care and keeping of teeth. That may explain why so many of us geezers are such a misery; our teeth hurt and we don’t have the coin to pay for insurance or money in the bank to see a dentist as often as we need to.

By the way..I went with the  root canal. It’s more expensive than pulling but it turns out that particular molar is one of the busiest guys in the chewing line and would be sorely missed..where now it’s just sore. We are lucky in that we have enough in savings to cover it and our family dentist gives a 10% discount to antique people.

I  don’t mean to get too political here but it seems if the government would clean up half of the Medicare fraud and abuse exposed by 60 Minutes or PBS in just one year, there would be more than enough in the kitty to fund assistance toward dental and vision care for seniors.

Oh, and the next elected representative who calls Social Security or Medicare (which I and millions of others have paid into our entire working life) “entitlement programs” don’t be surprised if you see a bunch of grey haired folks with bad toothaches storming into your offices prepared to give a lesson on who’s entitled to what.

Remembering Gary Owens

Posted: Friday, February 20, 2015 at 10:53 am
By: Doug Lund

Gary Owens died the other day.  He was 80. I don’t know the exact cause of death but he’d suffered from diabetes for years.  In 2011,  as a member of the board of directors for the South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association, I recommended we induct Owens into the Hall of Fame in the disc jockey category which we did.  

It was then up to me to let him know and extend an invitation to come back home to South Dakota so we could honor him in person.  I managed to do that with the help of my pal, J.P. Skelly of Mitchell’s KORN Radio and long time friend of Owens.  Below is the blog I wrote at the time about my encounter with this true broadcast legend and South Dakota gentleman.

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.

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 owens

With 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 today

Even though 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 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.

During the induction ceremony, family members from Plankinton were on hand to accept Gary’s plaque and to read a wonderful letter from their famous relative expressing his appreciation.  Gary Owens is survived by his wife of 57 years, Arleta, and sons Scott Owens, a producer and Chris Dane Owens, a musician and producer.

I can hear him now with a classic line from “Laugh-in”. ” “This is Borgal the friendly drelb signing off from beautiful downtown Burbank.”

R.I.P. good sir.

My Shattered Life

Posted: Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 12:38 pm
By: Doug Lund

Knowing my predisposed propensity for being a clumsy oaf, especially as I grow older and wider, I should not be at all surprised that a relationship which began a year and a half ago and has grown from awkward curiosity to an indispensable part of my daily life, has come to a crashing halt; shattered before my very eyes and I’m sick about it.

My smart phone has taken a three foot dive onto the pavement..leaving the glass screen looking like a tarantula’s living room.

My screen..like my heart..is broken.

My screen..like my heart..is broken.

I was a bit tardy getting to my recording session at Keloland Tuesday and, instead of safely tucking the phone in my coat or pants pocket, I slipped it into that open-ended hand warming pouch stitched to the front of all 100 hooded sweatshirts I own.  (I live under the delusion that these somehow masquerade my massive girth..hence most are dark colored which we all know further fools people into thinking what a slim fella I am.)  I have made this mistake before but always lucked out when the phone would fall out harmlessly onto the carpeted car floor. Not this time, though. It apparently got hung up on my Keloland parka and waited till I made the trip to a full stand before tumbling in slow motion to the asphalt below, landing on its back with a sickening splat. I looked down to see fingers of broken glass spreading across the screen like a June lightening storm on the South Dakota prairie.

Again, I wonder what words a minister or real Christian utters at such times as these.

I’m afraid that in spite of my promises to the Almighty to mind my mouth and my temper, the Ralphie Parker hubcap incident from “A Christmas Story” becomes reality for this old hypocrite at times like these and the “Oh Fudge” slips out because nothing else seems to express a feeling so accurately or satisfy so completely. (How could you be so stupid? Fudge. This screw-up will likely cost a week’s worth of groceries to make right. Fudge. Why were you too cheap to take out the insurance? Fudge.)

So, now I’m discovering that..based on the number of smart phone repair places I see on line, it’s apparent I’m not the only klutz in town. The thing is, none quote a price for replacing the glass screen which, as far as I can tell, is the only thing damaged to my Droid Razr.

Leave a comment if you have any recommendations.

February.

Nearly half gone already.  I used to like February because it’s a short month and winter couldn’t end fast enough. Now, I’m not so sure. Time is on a fast track for some reason and I wouldn’t mind putting on the brakes a bit.

February also reminds me of the running friendly argument between Hemmingsen and me over the correct pronunciation of the month. He apparently had it drilled into his head at the Brown School of Broadcasting that it is pronounced as it’s spelled Feb-roo-ary. I prefer to pronounce it like most of the people in the world.. who don’t have a pretentious stick up their bum.. do. Feb-You-ary.  I would even bring out Webster’s to prove that both pronunciations were acceptable and he would counter with, “Well, Webster just caved to pressure from the ignorant masses.”   I tried to point out all the other words that don’t include the “r” sound in their spelling like surprise or governor. I reminded him that his Holiness, Walter Cronkite, pronounces it Feb-you-ary.

So, after building such a convincing case, my friend Steve Hemmingsen changed his mind right??

STEVE: “Most people say Nuke-you-ler instead of Nuke-lee-r are you gonna cave on that too? How about Eye-rack instead of Ear-rock..how about Real-ah-tor instead of Real-tor. Where do you draw the line?”

Nah, Hemmingsen will never change..nor would any of us who know and love the big lug want him to.

I think the only real reason he preferred the old English pronunciation was because it’s too difficult for the rest of us to spit out.

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C’est la vie Arizona

Posted: Friday, January 30, 2015 at 3:22 pm
By: Doug Lund
Tiger Woods at 16. Booed by crowd. Shot worst round ever as pro.

Tiger Woods at 16. Booed by crowd. Shot worst round ever as pro.

Tiger’s in town..Tiger’s in town. And no, I won’t be seeing him in person. I did check to see if my Keloland ID was good enough to get me some sort of special credentials into the golf tournament but was quickly informed that all the media passes were long gone. (Because of Mr. Woods.)

It’s okay, I’ve been out to the Phoenix Open golf tournament a few times before; once..thanks to desert daughter Christy,  as the guest of a club member which brought lots of special privileges including both a limo ride to the course PLUS free adult beverages which, for me, was like turning Cam Lind (Facebook friend and noted cured pork connoisseur) loose at a bacon carnival. It was at that event I got a chance to meet Vikings’ Defensive End, Jared Allen, who stopped by our little member/guest tent for a beer and b.s.   I’m ashamed to say I didn’t even recognize him at first having spent way too much time accepting the host’s hospitality. In fact,  I couldn’t tell you who won the Phoenix Open that year but it was a good time and, thankfully,  I did very little walking.

Now that I think about it, though, my most unforgettable experience here in Phoenix, was the year both my brothers came out to visit.

Christy was house sitting for Sandy..a kindly gentleman attorney from Kansas City..who needed someone to take care of his place in Scottsdale. He rarely used it and trusted Christy completely for many years to keep it occupied and use  as her home which meant Linda and I..along with occasional visitors from South Dakota..were more than welcome. In 2001..a few months after my kid brother, Tom, was on the mend from his brain aneurism, he and big brother Denny came out for a few days in January to help celebrate my birthday and play a few rounds of golf. We had a wonderful time of it. Tom had to leave first so Denny and I made the most of his last two days which included a run out to the Phoenix Open golf tournament. We got there early and hooked up with Phil Mickelson’s entourage and began walking the course. By hole 15, we were both pretty tired  and sat down with our backs leaning against the Hole 16 grandstand wall watching Phil and the others putt out. Then the wall we were leaning against began to shake and the crowd at 16 erupted in noise because one of the golfers in the group had gotten an ace.

We were just on the other side and had missed it.

Oh well, the memory of the miss always made for a better story anyway.

Now, I just miss my brother.

Anyway, they won’t be playing golf today. It’s raining like coyotes and iguanas here in the desert. As I listen to it come down on the patio tile, I’m reminded of Dave Dedrick’s  famous line about “flat rock” rain. (The cow pissin’ offa is implied.)Arizona trip  rain 001

It won’t matter for the Super Bowl, of course, the University of Phoenix Stadium has a retractable roof  which should keep those folks.. paying thousands of dollars for a seat.. dry and happy. Happy as they can be having paid thousands of dollars for a seat. Earlier in the week, Linda and I took a drive out to Glendale to see where all the action was. Of course, security was on high alert..but, even though I didn’t have any Keloland TV credentials, I did manage to sweet talk the young lady guarding the parking lot to let us Midwest out- of- towers in so we could just take a couple pictures.

Arizona trip U of Phoenix stadium 005

As we’re packing up to leave, I was thinking that it’s been five years ago that, right here in this condo, when Linda and I got the news of Dave Dedrick’s  passing. Now, two of my life heroes are gone. Sure do long for their company though.

Well….in spite of my battle with the “cold of the century..”both Linda and I have had a wee of a time while here amongst the palm trees and snow birds..comforted in the knowledge that we’ve managed to, once again,  avoid January’s nastier side so that we may return home to the short month of February and then look forward with eager anticipation to another  Spring in South Dakota where we belong.

 

Grin And Barrett

Posted: Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 2:20 pm
By: Doug Lund

After being nearly eaten alive by our Desert Daughter’s SUV last week, (see rear door incident previous blog) you wouldn’t think I’d have much of an appetite for wandering amongst any type of motor vehicles much less those with dangerous sounding names like Cobra, Sting Ray or Jaguar but how could I not when some of the finest cars in the world were on display at the Barrett Jackson Collector Car Show and Auction just a few miles from my sick bed in Scottsdale?

I had managed to finagle media credentials for the event on line hoping it would, in addition to free admission, allow me other special privileges not given the common masses.copy of az laynard

So I was a little disappointed when, even though I had a media tag hanging from the rear view mirror, (a tag that came with an impressive press packet picked up a couple days earlier which also included a Barrett/Jackson lanyard with a huge laminated card that had “Media” stamped on it.) the guy at the gate paid no heed and directed me to the same general parking lot as everybody else.

So, what am I to do? 24 hours earlier, I could barely walk the aisles of Safeway without collapsing from this cold-cough induced exhaustion, now I’m expected to hike a half mile to where all the action was taking place. Oh sure, they said there would be shuttles but I don’t see….wait, here comes one now. But how do I remember where the hell I’m parked there are no signs or numbers..just an ocean of vehicles and it’s not even my car that I’ll be hunting for  later..maybe in the dark!

Well, that’s me. “Worry Wart” as mom used to say.  I wonder where in the world that saying came from. Checking Google. No consensus as to origin

Anyway, the shuttle driver’s first words were “Okay folks..just remember this is “Cactus” just tell the next driver that’s where you want to go and he’ll bring you right back here.”  Well, that’s easy peasy and off we went to the front gate where the little carrying case I borrowed from Christy to hold my phone and camera was given a quick inspection and then I meandered into the gigantic exhibit hall leading to the main auction pavilion.  Now, it should be noted that I hate my camera..or to be perfectly honest, I hate myself for being too dumb to figure out how to set it properly so pictures are taken AUTOMATICALLY (as advertised)  adjusting for light and motion. My feeble attempts at figuring it out result in way too many blurred, too dark or too light images which was frustratingly evident at Barrett Jackson on this day.

Inside one of the buildings featuring the most unique new cars from around the world.

Inside one of the buildings featuring the most unique new cars from around the world.

 

Like the new Corvette

Like the new Corvette

 

And this Viper done to "Scale"

And this Viper done to “Scale”

The highlight of this year’s event was the dispersal of Ron Pratte’s collection of motor vehicles…most of them the finest in the world and most of them purchased at previous Barrett Jackson auctions. Pratte is an insanely successful contractor who has simply moved on to other interests. (Pratte’s collection of cars, trucks, motorcycles and automobilia brought in a total of 40 million dollars.)

There's just no way to describe Pratte's collection. If I was loaded with cash I would have bought it all and driven every one.

There’s just no way to describe Pratte’s collection. If I was loaded with cash I would have bought it all and driven every one.

After checking out as many cars as possible, I was in desperate need of a rest so I ambled in to watch the auction…and the people watching the auction.

Copy of Arizona 2015 week 2 008

As in life, there’s a class system at Barrett. Only bidders are allowed to sit on the main floor folding chairs and I think it costs 500 dollars to get a bid number so you’ve got to be semi serious about being there. The looky-loos may sit in the metal bleachers surrounding and cordoned off from the floor. And then there are the sky boxes where the gold chain wearin’ slick hair combed back too cool for school guys with their cocktails and female escorts take up residence. It’s all fun to watch..which I did until 4 pm. That’s when national television coverage of the event began on The Discovery Channel and Velocity. I was determined to get up as close to the stage as possible with my iffy Kodak and get a few close ups for you.

My first move was getting over to the staging area where the cars are prepped before driving onto the stage. I snapped a couple shots.Copy of Arizona 2015 week 2 010

Blurry. Damn. Reset. With flash. Without flash. Ugh.  It was getting crowded as they rolled in a wrecked Shelby Cobra with a guy in an Ironman suit lying across it. Oh, yeah this was from the Ironman movie. I thought I’d follow its sale from start to finish and bravely walked up to the security guard who was keeping watch over the aisle that crosses between the audience and stage front. Wearing my Keloland TV sweatshirt, I flashed my media badge around my neck and he waved me through. Wow!   There I was..right in the heart of the action. (If you see reruns of the auction or happened to record the Wednesday edition on TV and see the Ironman car up for auction, look for a heavy set fellow in front of the stage taking pictures with a dinky camera. That would be me.). Here are the salvageable images from that memorable, albeit short lived, experience.

Thank goodness this image featuring one of the formal Barrett Jackson stage models came out crystal clear even though I was shaking a bit being this close. Nice trophy.

Thank goodness this image featuring one of the formal Barrett Jackson stage models came out crystal clear even though I was shaking a bit being this close. Nice trophy.

 

And then..whoosh..right by me close enough I could smell his after shave..walks the big boss himself. Barrett Jackson, Craig Jackson up to the announcer's podium

And then..whoosh..right by me so close  I could smell his after shave..walks the big boss himself. Barrett Jackson, CEO Craig Jackson up to the announcer’s podium

 

And there are the two talented TV car experts working the stage, Mike Joy and Steve Magnante.

And there are the two talented TV car experts working the stage, Mike Joy and Steve Magnante.

 

I'm really in the thick of it now with bidding assistants screaming at the top of their lungs to the auctioneer when they have an audience bid to register. Those are the sky boxes in the back where the elite hang out to show off their fat wallets and studliness.

I’m really in the thick of it now with bidding assistants screaming at the top of their lungs to the auctioneer when they have an audience bid to register. Those are the sky boxes in the back where the elite hang out to show off their fat wallets and studliness.

 

 

 

 

Then another surprise. I kind of like that TV show, "Fast and Loud" featuring Richard Rallings from Gas Monkey Garage in Dallas. I turn around and there he is on stage with his rich pal, Dennis bidding on the Ironman Cobra.

Then another surprise. I kind of like that TV show, “Fast and Loud” featuring Richard Rawings from Gas Monkey Garage in Dallas. I turn around and there he is on stage with his rich pal, Dennis bidding on the Ironman Cobra.

I'll be darned if they didn't buy the thing for ..I think..30 thousand dollars. Rawlings also sold some vehicles and spent a record 300 grand on a Pantera. I guess he's doing okay.

I’ll be darned if they didn’t buy the thing for ..I think..30 thousand dollars. Rawlings also sold some vehicles during the auction  and spent a record 300 grand on a Pantera. I guess he’s doing okay.

I don’t know if one of the paying bidders in the front row complained because I was blocking his view or weather Craig Jackson himself looked down from his perch and wondered what the heck that big guy with the little camera was doing and sic’ed the hounds on me but by on my third attempt to get a closer picture of the next car coming up for bid, a woman with a black jacket and security badge came up to shoo me out with the admonition that media weren’t allowed. I wanted to say “but the guy at the other end let me in…” It was no use, though; my trespassing ticket had been punched. Nothing left but to call it a day and head for home.   If I can find my ride.

Turns out the shuttle showed up right away and took me straight to Cactus where..thanks to a horn honking button on Christy’s key fob..I found the car with no trouble at all and within a half hour was back at home sweet home with a shot of cough syrup in my gullet and a Vodka Gimlet in my hand.

I just found out that Tiger Woods is going to play in the Phoenix Open for the first time in 16 years next week. I wonder if I should check out the possibility of getting media credentials.

Nothing is too good for my blog readers.

Sure could use a better camera though.

Wait. The 23rd is my birthday.  Oh, Linda??

Extreme Cold Grips Phoenix

Posted: Friday, January 16, 2015 at 12:36 pm
By: Doug Lund

Heh..heh..I figured that headline might get  your attention.

No..the weather out here in the Arizona desert has been sunny and warm. I, on the other hand have been gloomy and ill almost since we arrived with a demonic cold that has nearly worn me out both physically and mentally.

I have hesitated to say anything either via the blog or Facebook; concerned, of course, about the reaction I’d get pointing out the obvious irony of my situation. No it isn’t lost on me that we flew 15 hundred miles to escape one of the coldest stretches ever to a place enjoying near record warmth only to be cooped up inside a bedroom for days on end fighting a cold war with my body.

It began innocently enough, around January 3rd with sneezing; lots and lots of sneezing..along with itchy watery eyes. I’ve never had allergies but now I had all the symptoms so we headed to the drug store for appropriate remedies. Didn’t help.

Pretty soon, I started getting a tickling sensation deep inside my lungs followed by long uncontrolled coughing jags. This was no allergy but something all too familiar; a mighty old foe who shows up every few years to put me in my place; to help me ponder mortality even more than I already do and to maybe better appreciate what I already have..

My view for the last umpteen days

My view for the last umpteen days

Sounds serious doesn’t it?

Well, I tend to get a little dramatic when I get sick with something I’ve had before and know takes a long time to run its course. Days and nights become interchangeable as I do battle with the evil Mr. Phlegm trying to get him to let go of my windpipe. The only weapons in my arsenal are Vick’s VapoRub, bottles of Robitussin, throat lozenges, liquids a sympathetic wife…oh and the ability to cough. I have coughed till I’m literally blue in the face..coming close to passing out on several occasions. Whenever some of the green phlegm army is eliminated, replacements are at the ready for immediate service at the front. Stomach muscles become sore and eventually every cough brings a sharp pain to the brain that has you searching for the surrender flag. Rest comes more from passing out than going to sleep. Exhausted, I lay there listening to the wheeze as I exhale. Sometimes it sounds like a lonesome coyote howling at the moon; so common out here in the DesertCanyon area. Sometimes it sounds like a single note from a violin..then other notes join in..then more until it becomes that annoying orchestra practice montage before a concert. Then the dreams come..so real and so bizarre. Then a cough jolts me awake and I need to sit up and do battle with the evil Mr. Phlegm for awhile..then, exhausted, fall back on my other side and drift off to the lullaby of out of tune violins coming from my clogging chest cavity.

After a few days and nights  of this I began to look like Tim Conway as the Old Man on the Carol Burnett Show..mumbling and shuffling from room to room with hair standing straight up. I was also losing strength and had no appetite at all which is REALLY unusual for me.

Naturally, I began  thinking about how my brother Denny had similar symptoms leading up to his demise so It was time to force myself to get better and get out of the condo..either to see a doctor or go shopping. I chose Safeway.

Although still in a bit of a daze, it did feel good to get out in the sunshine, especially for Linda, who between stints caring for my sorry arse, has about worn out the screen on her NOOK reader..consuming book after book;  sometimes…but not often enough..sitting outside on the sun drenched patio.

We took a little spin around this pretty community..went down to the fountain and sat on a bench by the lake like a couple old farts watching birds and retired couples power walking.  Oh, hey you single guys…lots and lots of lonely wealthy widows down here looking for a man. Must love dogs.

The Fountain Hills Fountain only goes off 15 minutes every hour..so our timing was off on this visit.

The Fountain Hills Fountain only goes off 15 minutes every hour..so our timing was off on this visit.

 

Linda's just glad for a few moments out of our germ infested cough shack.

Linda’s just glad for a few moments out of our germ infested cough shack.

 

I'm just glad that..well, Bounty is a better picker upper.

I’m just glad that..well, Bounty is a better picker upper.

Even though neither of us had consumed that much, Linda and I still wound up with a cart-full of stuff at Safeway and by check-out, I was really ready to recline. I was also in desperate need of the rest room because one of the nasty side-effects of profound, prolonged coughing, extensive medication and selective eating is..well, diarrhea..and I felt a potentially embarrassing sneeze coming on so I sped to the Loo only to discover a WOMAN in there washing her hands!  What in the name of all that’s holy is going on? That’s what I thought to myself for a millisecond before it dawned on me that I may have entered the incorrect lavatory. Thank the good Lord the woman at the well never turned around or even looked up at the mirror to notice the fat male intruder with grey hair..beard, a red nose and wearing a Keloland TV sweatshirt. I skedaddled out of there as if Oral Roberts, himself, had laid a healing hand on me and..after carefully examining the stick figure on the next door and saw it didn’t appear to be wearing a skirt..I entered and took care of business.

Fortunately, retelling the episode to my dear Linda waiting outside with our groceries, brought a wonderful laugh that made us both feel better. That feeling lasted until we got home and I was able to make her giggle once again. We’re using our desert daughter Christy’s Ford Edge while in Arizona. I’m not familiar with all its gizmos and after we’d unloaded all the groceries, I went to re-attach that web gate thing. I had the keys in my pocket and accidentally bumped the automatic rear gate close button..narrowly escaping with my life. It was like Jaws and I was the boat captain about to be gobbled up.

Ah, well..feeling a little better each day. Even went to the Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction by myself. That’s a story in itself. I’ll tell it..complete with a few pictures next time.

Ta Ta for now.

Oh no..Linda just sneezed and has been coughing a little this morning.

 

High Anxiety

Posted: Tuesday, January 6, 2015 at 2:48 pm
By: Doug Lund

Unlike some people who vacation in warm climates while their dear friends and family are left to endure the rigors of a particularly evil period of cold and wind-driven snow that stings the cheeks and freezes snot, I was brought up not to gloat.

So, during this month of January as Linda and I return to our Fountain Hills, Arizona rental for the first time in a couple years, there will be nothing but guilt feelings conveyed here in, what I hope will be, more frequent blogging about life among the cactuses. (Cacti?)

Okay, maybe just one shot of snowy 4 Peaks..the view from Fountain Hills the day we arrived.


four peaks with snow 006

First, a little about how we got here.

It was time to give Big Red, our 15 year old Town Car with 170 K, a rest. In spite of that, I  have no doubt the old girl was up to the challenge, but the thought of a two and a half day drive out here through weather that can be..and usually is..dubious at times, we decided to exercise the Allegiant Airlines option. The decision was finalized when our desert daughter, Christy, bought a second car and agreed to let us use it while here. Deal done.

I spent a little extra for Exit Row seats for the leg room and for an extra suit case. (pretty hard to cram a month’s worth of stuff into just two checked bags.)  In spite of Allegiant horror stories including regular delays, our flight took off about on time and was uneventful for two of the two and a half hours. That’s when a child a few seats ahead began to perpetuate the stereotype of what defines “terrible twos.”  We could not see him but everyone within the confines of that enclosed aluminum tube could hear him for the final 30 minutes. It began with some whimpering as soon as the pilot started reducing altitude. At first, you could sense the sympathy from everyone, including me, as the mother tried to sooth her toddler who seemed to be reacting unfavorably to a pain in the ears that weren’t popping properly as we got lower. Ahhhh. Poor baby, we thought.

Then, efforts to console the little fellow were being rejected more loudly..and, in our mind’s eye, more violently, as each non stop ear piercing scream was punctuated with a “NO”. But then it became clearer that his ears were fine..he was just angry…really angry.

Anyone who flies knows that it seems to take forever to land once the captain throttles back..but on this trip, a half hour felt like an eternity..especially after I lost all feelings of concern for that kid and began imagining all sorts of ways I’d like to shut him up. Shameful things that I’m not proud of but could tell others around me were fanaticizing about too. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love kids and know they get out of sorts especially when they’re strapped in against their will. I would never do or say anything. But I did find it necessary to jam my forefingers in my ears to maintain sanity until the wheels screeched on the runway and we rolled to a stop at our gate. I finally got a look at the little rascal when he and his mother got up to exit. He was banging an empty plastic pop bottle on his grandpa’s head and getting mad all over again when told to stop. Dear little angel.

There are lots of things going on out here in the Phoenix area during January..including the Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction which this year will feature the Ron Pratte collection of cars which is one of the world’s finest..many purchased by Pratte at previous Barrett-Jackson sales for big big money. Even though the event has gotten huge, I decided to apply for media credentials to cover it for my blog and..to my surprise, received them. So, I hope to get out there to take some pictures and write a few words for you.

The Phoenix Open golf tournament is at the end of the month and, of course Phoenix hosts the Superbowl. But that won’t happen until after we head home…hopefully on a flight where all the children are contented little darlings.

One of our favorite hangouts out here is the “Rusty Spur” in Old Scottsdale. They always have live music and have added some interesting bar stools that Linda was more than happy to model. The image has been quite a hit on Facebook.

Ta Ta for now.

4 peaks linda bar stool