27 November 2014

It is the great turkey, Charlie Brown

Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving may have failed to plumb the depths of the Great Turkey mythos. Schultz opted to explore the possibilities of how a dog would go about hosting the feast. Popcorn, jelly beans, and toast make for a less than memorable meal. The special is mostly forgettable except for Snoopy's antics preparing for the dinner.

24 November 2014

The time to say turkey nears

The great turkey trotter
To explain Thanksgiving to someone alien to the American (and Canadian) custom can be a bit odd since the holiday is most noted by the food.
"We go to relatives and eat turkey, mash potatoes, gravy, and cranberries."
"Ah....why turkey? Would not prime rib be an ideal entree?"
"Turkeys are American."
"So are hot dogs."
"We eat those on July 4th."
Menu is not prescribed for the holiday and turkey just became the de facto menu item. Although some may contend that turkey was consumed at the 1st American Thanksgiving in 1621 and so why buck the trend. I heard they also served lobster and oysters in 1621- but nobody is probably serving that to the family this Thursday.

And of course we do not race turkeys. With so many early Thanksgiving morning "turkey trot" races out there somebody must believe Americans race the birds they on Thanksgiving. But I sort of like the idea. It would be kinda like the running of the bulls but much safer. 

Anyways, time to plug the Thanksgiving pageant from ages ago that thanks to the internet can be shared by the whole world.
I believe this marks the 20th anniversary of the KUMM Thanksgiving Pageant.
While in college in 1994, I wrote a sort of ridiculous radio play about Thanksgiving that was performed on air on the college station in Morris, MN. It was never repeated again.
That was until I unearthed a rare recording of it and then posted it online for Thanksgiving.
So I hope you enjoy and in doing so become thankful.

18 November 2014

At the Granite City Train Show

It being Model Railroad Month, I should write about this interest of mine.
It was only in the last two years that I have come to revisit this hobby from my past. As a child I got into model railroading with an HO train set I got for Christmas. It was a special Campbell's Soup edition set made by Life-Like. Eventually a train table was built, more track, switches, and a city load of buildings were acquired. I still own it, but it has not been run for years. It was sort of an incomplete set up. I was never any good at scenic. I just liked to run the trains.
I digress.
A few years ago I decided to revisit the model train hobby but this time in O scale. Which now brings us to this entry about the Granite City Train Show.
Out in the Go there is very little to choose from for model railroading supplies. There is one shop that carries a bit of train stuff. There used to be another but it closed up about a decade ago. I actually attend church in one of the shop's previous locations. Once a year the local train club- Spud Valley Model Railroad Club hosts a hobby show which is OK. I went last year and thought it was rather lackluster for what I was looking. The Spud Valley show is decent but I think could use a little more energy and vendors. I would have liked to see more O scale which was not collectible. I am an train operator- I am not going to let an item sit in a box for years.
The Granite City Show is completely different. It was literally wall to wall people from when I got there until an hour before the closing. There were many different vendors featuring new stuff, collectible stuff, used stuff, and junk stuff. About a half dozen layouts were on display including one modular O-scale by the Granite City O Gaugers. There were also a number of vendors selling train related items like books, magazines, timetables, employee handbooks, and pins. All scales were available. My friend Matt and I felt like we were in model train heaven. We scoured every table for deals and treasures. I ran into the Northern Trackers too.
I scored quite a few things at this show, including a few pieces of N-scale for a portable layout, a Great Northern timetable, a Lionel operating mail car, and a gateman to work on. I also sold 2 cars I did not need. I did not find any Plasticville or buildings. Still, we had a great time and might return for the spring show they also put on.
For us up on the Red River, the shows are the best bet to pick up used model train items for at bargain prices. The Granite City Show is possibly the largest train show this side of the Twin Cities and certainly proved its worth to me.
It makes me think we should have a model train swap meet up on the Red on of these days.

15 October 2014

The Pride of Proctor: 225

A former room-mate of mine was from Proctor. He was a cross country ski champion. And there was another guy from Proctor, Garry Bjorklund, who was pretty good runner- he broke high school records and was named an All-American numerous times. He also competed in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal in the 10000 meters. In Proctor I found no monument to my room mate or Garry.
Instead I found a giant of a monument at the top of the hill- a Duluth Missabe and Iron Range Yellowstone class locomotive.

2 Railroads in Duluth

The DMIR once served Duluth and the region
Actually there are more than 2 railroads operating in Duluth and Superior.
At one time there were 11. But that is entirely different topic.
Just next to I 35 sits the Lake Superior Railroad Museum
This post is going to focus on the 2 passenger railroads in Duluth. Yes, there are 2.
Most know the North Shore Scenic Railroad that has its headquarters at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum.Their operation is top notch and features numerous excursions throughout the year. Last year I rode a Pizza Train. It was a very memorable excursion up the North Shore from Duluth to a little bit past the French River. It of course included pizza and an onboard music performance. We sat in an old Northern Pacific coach and then sat in a double decker Chicago Northwestern commuter car.
GE 50T Industrial Switcher as seen from safari car
Perhaps the lesser known of the passenger railroads is the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad but that is not to say it is any less of a railroad. I only discovered this line last year after the pizza train trip on a single brochure I discovered at a hotel. The LSMRR follows a portion of route of the first line to Duluth from the Twin Cities and in fact takes its name from that first railroad. A good portion of the route is even on 100 year old track which must be traversed at less than 10 mph. A GE 50T pulls 2 old coaches and a safari car on a 90 minute jaunt along the St. Louis River and back. The all volunteer organization does a superb job of providing a quality train excursion.

03 July 2014

Born on the 3rd of July - George M. Cohan

George M. Cohan overlooks Times Square
The first lines of the musical George M! are "George who?"
Indeed the George I write of today is no other than George M. Cohan
Though he liked to claim July 4th as his birth, George most probably was born on the 3rd in Providence, RI.
My first encounter with this song and dance man draped in red, white, and blue was my freshman year of high school. I was in the cast of the Park High's fall musical George M! The biographical musical from the 1967 Broadway season is a behemoth of Cohan story and musical material. It did a fair business on Broadway and starred Joel Grey as Cohan. In an odd turn of events, the Park edition of the show had a considerable amount of re-writes, clocked in at just over 3 hours. Not sure our audience was ready for that kind of time commitment. A guy named Mike played Cohan and I was the unofficial understudy- I did not know that until he was late to one of the performances.
I think I wrote more about the Park musical in another post.
1942's Yankee Doodle Dandy is a much swifter telling of the Cohan story with some details left out but still a load of Cohan tunes.
Cagney's performance was a grand slam. It was suggested that Jack Benny may have been asked to play the role but turned it down.
Back to Cohan.
He did it all- act, write, dance, direct, produce, compose. He was a rare breed of performer. George more than likely picked up those skills from being on the vaudeville circuit with his family since infancy. Vaudeville was something akin to YouTube these days- a smorgasbord of entertainment from juggling to tumbling to stand up comedy and music. All these acts would fill a bill at a local theater- often performing multiple times a day. Then after a day or so in one town they would travel to another destination and do it again. The goal for most acts to make it to the big time- to get a steady gig and a guaranteed number of dates with one of the larger theater circuits.
I think Cohan grew tired of the Vaudeville grind and being under the thumb of producers as he reached adulthood.
By 1901 Cohan wrote, scored, directed and starred in his first musical "The Governor's Son." 
It played at the Savoy Theater on Broadway for 32 performances and then did a national tour.
His family were also in the cast.
He went on to write, direct, act in or produce more than 100 shows. He also composed upwards of 500 songs- 2 of which were cited for his receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor : Grand Old Flag and Over There. Yankee Doodle Boy and Give My Regards to Broadway are also widely popular Cohan songs.
His musical theater creations pioneered the American musical play tradition by fusing the play with music and lyrics and action which propelled the story along. Most of his musicals are largely forgotten these days- Little Johnny Jones probably being the exception. But his style of show would soon dominate Broadway and continues to this day.
List of Cohan shows 
Lengthy Bio of Cohan for Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame

21 May 2014

The social media info graphic that you never knew you needed

While breezing through the web I cam across a post about social media posts (it was actually a re-post of a re-post of a post.) The info-graphic by the MyCleverAgency offers enough tips to make you a pro at social media posting (and we need so many of those :) right?) So if you want to be a Google+ expert look below.
The tips you never knew you needed to know

12 May 2014

Fargo Marathon 2014 Super Hero Rundown: A few others

Our rundown would not be complete without a few straggling heroes out there pounding the pavement in Fargo.
 Wonder woman leads a small pack of runners through the streets of Fargo. Fortunately she did have her golden lasso of truth to round up the bad guys getting in the way of the runners.

The Justice League turned out this year running besides each other in  unity against evildoers and sore calves. Good to see Green Lantern was represented this time. Superman has also grown a beard in the time it takes him to run 26.2 miles.

And finally the superhero who should have been on more shirts this year- The Flash. How could running shirt manufacturers forget this speedster? I hoping to see more Flash in the future.

Fargo Marathon 2014 Super Hero Rundown: Spiderman/Spiderwoman

Our rundown continues. This time with one of the top franchises out there- Spiderman. Well actually Spiderman and Spiderwoman are represented here.
This Spiderman is a bit of a rebel with 2 different colored shoes. It is a bit hard to see the spider emblem on his chest.

This Spiderwoman is displacing good stride