I've loved quiz shows most of my life, beginning in 1942 at Larken Valley one-room school where we frequently competed in spelling bees when it was too cold or snowy for recess. In eighth grade, I competed at the courthouse in the Star Tribune tri-state spelling bee, falling to some kid from the other side of the county who could spell "mulligatawny." How in hell, I still want to know, could a farm boy know how to spell mulligatawny, a highly spiced soup eaten mainly in India.
Valentine's Day is long gone, but not forgotten by the loving partners who dwell on Walnut Street. When it finally stopped snowing on the day that Walnut Street looked like a scene from "Dr. Zhivago" it was a day after Valentine's but we decided to celebrate big time, to do it up brown (but not overcooked—or overpriced). We made our way through the drifts to a favorite restaurant, which by the looks of the menu we probably couldn't afford, having recently dined at Manny's Steakhouse in Minneapolis, where the giant ribeye was selling for $125 (sides not included).
Heavens to Newton V. Minnow, who told us 60 years ago that TV was a "vast wasteland?" I've found a new TV show worth watching. I'm tired of watching reality TV shows like "Forged in Fire," a real rib tickler about blacksmithing. Even "Moonshiners" and the quaint hillbillies who make illegal booze has lost its octane. So we discovered Netflix, and on it we found a series that has been airing for three seasons.
When any holiday rolls around, the long meat case at Ingebretsen's Market on Lake Street in Minneapolis is a sight to behold.
I'm writing this column on Feb. 8, wondering if three weeks will ever arrive, so we can be warming our behinds at the pool in Sarasota, which should be about RIGHT NOW when you read this missive.
Dear me! When next Sunday rolls around, your old correspondent will celebrate his 83rd birthday. "Four Score and Three" has sort of an ominous ring to it, does it not? So, I better get my rear in gear and settle some scores before my jig is up. To put it more bluntly, I'd better make plans for my funeral. Some folks don't give a hoot for funerals, asking survivors "not to make a fuss." Years back, I guess I fit into that category, calling funereal pomp and circumstance nothing more than "horizontal weddings," boring for all concerned except the undertaker and the florist.
"Immature artists imitate. Mature artists steal." Literary critic Lionel Trilling said that. "When a thing has been said, and well said, have no scruple: take it and copy it." Novelist Anatole France said that. "Remember why the good Lord made your eyes, Pla-gi-a-rise!" Humorist Tom Lehrer sang that.
In the midst of the Great Government Shutdown over the building of a new version of the Great Wall of China (which didn't work), Ruth and I approached the main terminal at Minneapolis' airport with some trepidation.
Two weeks ago I chronicled for readers the history of my career as a failed travel writer, how I was so bad at the game as to prompt the competition to ask me to get out of town. My recovery from my catastrophic adventures in the life of a peripatetic journalist has been painful, but I promised readers that I'd take another stab at it by writing about our recent trip to Puerta Vallarta and the magnificent hotel we stayed in, the RIU Pacifico Palace.
"He was a bold man that first ate an oyster."—Jonathan Swift On this day in 1874, my great-grandad wrote in his journal "Fair & mild. Worked on road grade. my hand Peterson helped. Went to Hall and bot two cans oysters and 4 lbs crackers. Paid $1.55" On the next day he wrote of hosting an oyster supper for nine people on his $1.55 outlay.