Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day

Memorial Day weekend at the Vietnam Veterans memorial in Washington
Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Bill Maher is an Abject Racist

Positively the most ignorant and racist thing I've seen from a media personality.

Will he have to pull a Don Imus and get lectured by Al Sharpton and lose his job?

What do you think, Lefties?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Leech Lake Fishing Report, Memorial Day Weekend 2010

Odd winds yesterday made things interesting, and velocities increased, decreased, then increased again, and locations shifted from E to NE then back to E. I found fish at Club 21, and while I was happy to be on them, the structure there is small, and the big and shifting winds made it difficult to stay on the “X.” I ended up landing three slot fish, a 21”, a 22”, and the Minnesota state record rock bass.

In the evening, Vera and I headed out to run the shore line, trolling Rapalas and listening to the Twins game. The wind was still strong out of the east, and boat control was difficult. Despite having a tough time keeping us on line, Vera put on a clinic, landing 2 nice northern, a keeper perch, and a 22” walleye. Me? Nada. Well, I shouldn’t say that. I got bit and was reeling in and immediately lost the fish when Vera started hooting and reeling in an aggressive northern (likely the one that bit me, drat it).  Additionally, I hadn’t completely reeled in when I was netting her second northern, and there must have been enough line to combine with the wind to make for an effective presentation, as when I picked up my rod and started reeling in something immediately ran and stripped line off my pole. I lost it right away, but given the depth of my bait and how the fish ran, I’m betting I likely had a muskie. Regardless, I got blanked, while my wife took me to school.

She’s outfished me many times, but I don’t think there’s ever been an episode that was so one-sided.

Restaurant Review - Terra Waconia (with Help from Parley Lake Winery)

After a long and energizing day, Vera and I needed some quiet time to talk, and immediately going to Terra Waconia for dinner became the obvious choice. We happened to pick a great night to go, on a number of different reasons.

We started out with the usual order of mussels, which continue to just be incredible. For entrees, I had a beef fillet that was so tender and so well prepared that I was able to cut it with my fork. Seriously. Despite my incredible meal, Vera actually out-ordered me as she had a buffalo steak that was so flavorful that it rivaled the best steaks we’ve eaten. It was so good, she confessed late in the meal, that if there weren’t people around she would have picked up the bone and started gnawing on it. Despite the big meal, Vera still had a sweet tooth, so things got topped off with warm apple bread pudding in caramel sauce and homemade ice cream that tasted as good as it sounds. Kudos to the team – dinner was outstanding.

As we lazily continued our conversation, we ended up being the last table in the restaurant. A couple of tables away, one of the owners/chef was meeting with a local winery, Parley Lake, and was conducting some barrel testing for future wine list inclusion and a possible wine dinner. Since things were quiet, the owners asked if we wanted to join them and the owners of Parley Lake for our opinions on their barrel tasting. Wow!

We eagerly joined the table, enjoyed some really incredible wine, and as you can see by the photo, had some great conversation about wine making, food pairing, and life in general. We’ve not been to Parley Lake yet, but guarantee that we’ll be there when their season opens later in the year. Overall, for a random Wednesday night, we had just a wonderful and special night.

We’re very lucky to have such a great restaurant (and winery!) in Waconia.  Even if it was not in our back yard, it is worth the drive.  Especially on a random Wednesday night.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Deadliest Catch - The Leech Lake Edition

When we set out last Saturday, we knew that the wind would come up. The forecast called for winds to 25 MPH and a chance for storms. This was wind that was not uncommon for us, and the boat we were in, a 20 foot state-of-the-art Ranger, was built to handle all of that and much more.

Given the SE winds that had blown for the past days, we felt our best chances for catching fish were to head NW to where the wind would have corralled up the bait fish, and subsequently would have invited the walleyes in for the easy feast. The day started slowly with light winds, cloudy skies, and not much luck fishing. We moved around Ottertail Point’s flats to the NW in attempt to find the fish, but luck was scarce. That’s OK, because as it turned out we’d need our luck elsewhere.

Before long, we had been seeing the wind come up, and it soon reached its forecast velocity, so we made the decision to run back to the south side of the lake for more comfortable fishing. We headed out pointed SSW for Stoney Point, with the understanding that the cross waves from the SE would be uncomfortable, but manageable. JT was driving, with JP in the seat next to him. Fuzzy was sitting in the Pauly chair up front. Due to the waves, I stood behind JP and JT and hung onto the backs of their seats.

The ride quickly grew increasingly more uncomfortable, and JT made the decision to jog our route so that we could take the winds in a more manageable head-on fashion. The winds continued to increase well into the 30MPH+ range, but we were slowly making progress. We’d soon be hitting Stoney Point where things should be better as the waves no longer had the entire length of the lake in which to build.

That is when the straight line wind hit, as marked by the X on the map. For information on straight line winds, click here.

All of the sudden we were hit with a wind that was so high that none of us could estimate its impact. Waves soon built to 6-8 feet, and Fuzzy reported that when we were in the trough between waves, all he could see was water; no tress, no horizon. The wind was blowing so hard that it was picking up water at the crest of the waves and blowing it horizontally, making seeing almost impossible. We were taking multiple waves over the bow, and Fuzzy was battered up front. Of course, none of us was wearing a life vest. By the time we felt we needed to have them on, it was way too rough and dangerous to stop and do so. We needed to keep going.

While I knew that we were in no danger of sinking due to being swamped (Ranger is notorious for building their boats to float even when filled completely up to the rails with water), I did fear flipping. The wind was blowing so hard, and our angle when cresting waves such that a strong gust may have been able to catch the front of the boat and toss us. Multiple times in the trip I made mental notes as to how I planned to exit the boat in the event that I felt it being flipped.

Despite getting closer to home, things were getting worse, but JT was impeccable in his piloting; steering appropriately into the waves, and modifying speed up and down to optimize our path. It was damn hard work, especially when you literally can’t see do to the wall of water being blown like needles into your eyes.

We finally arrived at the harbor mouth, and JT aligned the boat and went for it. We slid into safety, and were met by most of the resort which had already come in and were standing on the “widow’s walk” watching the action. We were told that we looked like we had dinner plates for eyes. Here’s a picture of what we looked like.

We subsequently found out that tress had been dropped throughout the area, and billboards and other structures had been damaged. Power had been completely knocked out in Walker, and at the resort. Ultimately, the wind that had hit was reported to be in the 60-85MPH range. The resort itself had lost trees, and here is one example.


I’ve been fishing this lake since I’ve been a little kid, and have been out in terrible wind, thunderstorms, and storms that have spawned tornadoes. In all of that time, I’ve never been scared. This trip, however, scared the hell out of me. From Stoney Point home, I had serious doubts on our ability to get the boat home, and had resigned myself that I would soon be in the water and would need a plan as to how I could best try to get to shore.

While straight line winds are not predictable, we learned a lesson about proximity to home when the wind starts blowing, and about lifejacket use. Thankfully, it was a lesson that did not have to get learned the hard way.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sarah Jessica Parker Does Nothing for Me

Photo by: Raoul Gatchalian/ 2010 5/25/10 Sarah Jessica Parker arrives at Th
With the release of Sex and the City 2, the movie's hype machine has been put into overdrive. Personally, I don't get any of it, but I'm clearly not their target demographic. But of all the disconnects I have, I cannot understand the infatuation of Sarah Jessica Parker and her "beauty."

Seriously? Her unhealthy, skinny frame, draped with an extensive wardrobe and the best hair and make-up money can buy create a completely unrealistic and fictional image of what a "beautiful" woman is. Call me ignorant, but I find her not only unattractive, but repugnant.

What's missing? A realistic weight and the associated curves that go with it. A beauty that can permeate through sweat pants and a t-shirt. A face that you want to kiss first thing in the morning, regardless of the lack of hair and make-up support.

The celebration of Sex and the City 2 and its star send horrible message to women, so here's one from me: Be you, because you're beautiful.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Leech Lake "Opener" Report - 2010

The annual "week after the fishing opener, opener" was completed for 2010. It seems like every year has at least one very memorable story, and this year was no different. We went from having no place to stay (literally) and ended up just about getting killed (again, literally). In between we caught fish, ate too much, played some golf, and laughed more than folks would think wise.

Most of the walleyes that we caught were above the slot, with JT putting on the best clinic, but with JP perhaps having the biggest fish that shook off right at the boat.

We did boat a couple of slot fish late, but had a fun time hunting the big ones. We did end up with more than enough for a fish fry, and while it only consisted of expertly filleted northern and perch, it still tasted incredible. Here's JT "holding up" our catch.

Look for our horror story tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Man Cave Expansion

Summer is finally showing up in Minnesota, and that means copious amounts of lawn mowing. Given all of the rain we've had recently, it has been tough to get out as often as is aesthetically optimal, so on a nice Sunday afternoon, I decided to get out and get some work in. Prior to that, I had an epiphany that nothing was better than a cold beer and a ball game after some hot hours of manual labor.

As you know, I recently added cable to the garage, but how to keep the beer cold? I guess there is always a cooler, but that just seems so non-genteel. A mini fridge would be just the ticket, so when my wife needed a stop at Macy's to pick up a gift for her mom, I made a beeline to Sears to see what they had. That's where I spotted this little beauty - a 1.7 cubic foot libation chiller extraordinaire. The better news? My little darling was a scratch and dent model from the show floor, so the cost was a paltry $34.99.

So on Sunday I plugged it in and stocked it for most post-chore enjoyment. I hit the yard, and it hit back hard. We had received over 2" of rain in the previous couple of days, and the long, wet grass was a killer in terms of clogging the mower. It was so bad that I'm pretty sure that it served as hiding ground for a band of Viet Cong. But I pushed through, knowing that an expertly chilled libation awaited my completion.

And what an afternoon it was! Kubel hit a grand slam against Rivera to win the game, my lawn looked fabulous, and I was sufficiently hydrated. It does not get much better than that.

All of this made my wife question how many "man caves" I needed. Let's see: garage, basement, Lake Ben, Leech Lake.

Four. I need four "man caves."

Monday, May 17, 2010

I Might Need to Move to Alabama

Horses.  Guns.  Calling your political opponent a dummy. 

This might be the best political ad ever.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Nancy Peosi - Work No Longer Needs to Get In Your Way

This is unbelievable. "You can leave your work...because you will have health care."

We are not a nation of haves and have nots. We have devolved into a nation of tax payers, and entitlement recipients. And pretty soon we're going to reach a tipping point where one group can no longer carry the other.

With this kind of work ethic being espoused by our "leadership," it is only time before we either revolt or roll over and die Either process is going to be ugly and extremely painful. It is coming.

I can't imagine being a college graduate right now, entering the job market with this mentality being not only considered, but actually shamelessly spoken out loud.

What the hell happened to our country?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Songs on Heavy Rotation

For the past couple of years, I've been giving my brother an iTunes mix of songs that I have on heavy rotation as a means of sharing new music.  I always include some notes about the songs I'm sending, so instead of just sending that to him, I figured I'd throw it in a blog post.  Here's some stuff that I've been listening to:

Got Nuffin Spoon – This one is from their most recent release, and a song indicative of their overall sound. Surprisingly, they didn’t play this at their recent concert which I attended, likely due to it being the second show in two nights. It was missed.

Laughing With Regina Spektor – This is one of my favorite songs of the past year. There seems to be a real resurgence with dealing with religious issues by Millennials, and Regina gets right to the heart of the issue. The best songs make you think, and this one surely does.

Fisherman's Blues Dodd Ferrelle This is a cover of The Waterboys’ big hit. I always liked the original, and feel like Dodd retained a lot of what made the song so appealing. A nice cover treatment.

Deceptacon Le Tigre An older song but still hit my radar recently. Quirky and fun. Reminds me of a female Devo song.

Awake to Remember Me Eleanor Whitmore Incredibly talented singer/songwriter and musician. Folky and indy, and still way below too many radars.

Gold Guns Girls Metric I really enjoy a lot of Metric’s music, and this release is my favorite.

Carry Me Ohio Sun Kil Moon The vocals and singing on this one are pretty haunting. The best night driving song on the list.

Shadows Au Revoir Simone Similar to Metric – this band is on heavy rotation with me, and this song is one of my favorites.

Your Decision Alice In Chains With the death of their lead singer, everyone wondered if their sound would change appreciably. I’d argue that it’s matured and become more nuanced, while still maintaining the incredible harmonies that have been the hallmark of the band since their inception. Really solid.

100 Days, 100 Nights Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings Classic R&B that is brand new in 2010. Not faked or forced – simply great R&B. Would love to see these guys live.

Speak for Me Cat Power Way, way indy. Love the vocals, keyboards, and overall treatment.

Pa Pa Power (feat. the Silverlake Conservatory of Music Children's Choir) Dead Man's Bones An extremely weird song - weird lyrics and weird use of a kid's choir as background singers, but there is just something about this song that I absolutely love.

Cheater's Town Chris Isaak I never really liked this guy, but there is something about this song that really resonates with me. It is almost a country-blues feel to it.

Islands The XX Indicative of the sound of The XX. An acquired taste to be sure, but I think they really do some interesting stuff. It will be interesting to see if their sound can mature on subsequent releases, or if they go the Morphine route and never break our of the rut.

Powerlines What Bird This band is way off the beaten path, but their latest release is outstanding. I'm not sure why they're not bigger. Definitely a band to watch. Vocals here, especially on the chorus, are outstanding.

Sweetest In the Morning Jill Andrews Sounds like a lot of performers, I'll grant you that. However, she did this song acoustically for Paste Magazine, and it totally opened my eyes. She's a great talent.

Pearl's Dream Bat for Lashes This woman is the closest thing I've ever heard to Kate Bush. On some songs, it feels pretty identical.

Houston, We Have Uh-Oh Minus the Bear I really like this band, and this track is one of my favorites. Another example of the great music that is being made today that never finds its way to the mainstream.

Daft Punk Is Playing At My House LCD Soundsystem Best party song in the mix. His latest release was pirated and released early, and it outstanding. It will likely be the summer album of 2010.

Girl's It Ain't Easy Honey Cone As long as we're doing R&B, why not go back and get some real stuff. Nostalgic, sappy, and fun.

October Broken Bells One of my favorite recent albums, and a favorite track from it.

Come to Jesus Mindy Smith - She did this song when she played live here last week, and it was chilling. What a beautiful voice.

Hell Tegan and Sara - The most mainstream of what I've presented. This song is getting a lot of airplay, but it is still on heavy rotation with me.

Natural Forces Lyle Lovett Classic Lovett off his latest release. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Minneapolis Lilith Fair Tickets - $300? What?

Lilith Fair is coming back to Minneapolis, and it is a pretty interesting line up. Personally, I'd really like to see Heart and Metric, and I'd really be interested to see how Mary J. Blige sounds live.

Now, before you give me too much crap about Heart, remember that three of their first four albums, specifically Dreamboat Annie, Little Queen, and Dog and Butterfly were classics and provided some incredible music for their time. I'll grant you that things careen downhill from there in a big hurry with the rest of their catalog, but I'd hope that they have the sense not to play All I Wanna Do is Make Love to You in their live shows.

In checking out the tickets for the show, I'm shocked to find that costs for a decent seat are nearly $300. Oh, I can stand way in the back with General Admission, but part of the fun of going to concerts is being able to actually see the band play. Given the GA location, well behind all the reserved seating. the view will just stink.

Sorry, Lilith Fair, but for that kind of dough I can get a good seat through Craig's List at the upcoming U2 show. And at the end of the day I'd rather hear one incredible band than a bunch of just OK ones. Hopefully Metric will come back on their own some time and I can check them out then.

In the mean time, good luck with those ticket sales, Lilith Fair.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Nick Punto Watch - The Tuesday Puntometer

On a cold night game of the day's double bill
We witnessed an episode that still provides thrills
Our hero started the day with a strong 1 for 3
But his presence was massive as the Orioles could see
Intimating pitchers with his girth and his stare
Our plucky third baseman made even the hardest men scared
The second game was tight and bought drama galore
The Twins needed a win, and needed to score
It was the bottom of 8 and the game still in doubt
Runners on 2nd and 3rd and only one out
When up strides our hero, the great number 8
With one swing of his bat he could seal the O's fate
Angst from O's coaching with the situation dower
The decision: walk Punto. We'll pitch to Mauer
The legend of Nick Punto did frightened the foes
And delivered a knockout without coming to blows
Was I drunk? I counted empties, but I clearly did see
They walked the league's worst 3rd baseman to pitch to the MVP
So I say congratulations and I hand it to Nick
What a great line he's now got for picking up chicks

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day Golf Game

It has been a couple of months since I've seen my mom, and in thinking about it, it's been the longest time in my life that I've gone without seeing her. She's back from her whirlwind Tour de Barb, and we were able to catch up by going out and getting a golf game in.

The weather was touch chilly, but we had a good time talking and being outdoors. Both of us played pretty well until the final couple of holes. Mom finished with a 104, whereas I posted a 92. Given the 108 I shot in gale-force winds last Wednesday, I was happy with my round. That 108 was killer. It's not a good thing when, in trying to enter your score in the course computer, it asks you to verify score because it is so bad. It makes you hit "enter" to verify the score. The button might as well be named "just shut up and take the score."

We finished with a nice dinner at the course where we were joined by my two aunts. Overall it was a really nice day, with the exception of my going out to my vehicle this morning to retrieve the digital camera and finding my mom's gift and Mother's Day cards in the back seat. Dummy. Oh well, at least I have a good reason to see her again soon.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Twins Game Birthday Celebration

We attended our first game at Target Field for my sweetheart's birthday. Now, I know you likely think this is the equivalent of buying my wife a bowling ball for Christmas, but honestly, she is a big baseball fan, and was so well before she met me. We've been to countless games at the Dome, and have done road trips to see the Twins play in Chicago and Kansas City. She knows her hardball, and understands event intricate nuances better than many men I know. Yeah, she still thinks Joe Mauer is cute (who doesn't?), but at least she can also appreciate his swing.

We had great seats behind home plate and under the overhang, so the infrequent rain didn't bother us. We also missed out on the infrequent sun from this location, but it was a trade we were willing to make. While game temps were cold, we shared a stadium blanket and were pretty darn comfortable. In thinking about it, the last time I used a stadium blanket was when I was in junior high at old Memorial Stadium at a cold Gopher Football game 30 years ago. Yikes.

While the hometown nine let us down both on defense and offense, we still had a great time, and Vera got to get a photo with her long-time Twins hero Kirby Puckett. We both can't wait to get back there again.

Best Place for Twins Pre-Game Meal - Ike's Food and Cocktails

Prior to heading to our first game at Target Field, Vera and I stopped off at Ike's Food and Cocktails in downtown Minneapolis for their famous pre-game brunch. We started out with their requisite Bloody Mary, which is a meal in itself. It comes garnished with shrimp, cheese, beef stick, celery, pickle, onion, black olive, green olive, green bean, lime, and pepperoncini. The drink was spicy and tasty, and the beer chaser was a great accompaniment.

The brunch starts with a caramel roll that, according to the menu, is "as big as your head." As you can see by the picture, they don't exaggerate. The next course includes eggs made to order, pancakes, hash browns, sausage, bacon, and toast. All are delicious, and brought to your table by a smiling waitress that will continue to bring it out until you tell her to stop. Topped with a fresh-baked and still hot mini cookie served with the bill, and we had easily had consumed both breakfast and lunch (and maybe even a good chunk of dinner) prior to the first pitch.

All in, breakfast and drinks cost us less than $60. Fun atmosphere, great people, and close location to both the Dome and Target Field make Ike's Food and Cocktails a perfect place for a pre-game load up.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Al Franken is an Embarrassment - Part 5

While this is making its way around the internet, if you've not seen it, you must. 

If this was done by a Republican, it would be met with screams for recall or impeachment.  Personally, I'm seriously worried about this guy's mental/physical heath. 

In the wise words of Hank Hill, "That boy's not right."

Mary Gauthier and Mindy Smith Minneapolis Concert Review and Set List

We headed down to the Riverside area and attended a very intimate concert of Mary Gauthier and Mindy Smith. Here are the notes in no particular order:

Mary Gauthier
  • Mary is a great storyteller, great song writer, and great crowd presence. She looked like she was really having fun, and she brought the audience with her, despite her depressing set of songs.
  • She had a nice little band with slide guitar and fiddle accompaniment. Both sang back up and really added to the atmosphere.
  • Set list, to the best of my recollection, was two of her older songs, then an entire run through of her latest release The Foundling. Here is the list:
Last of the Hobo Kings
Falling Out of Love
The Foundling
Momma Here, Momma Gone
Blood is Blood
March 12, 1966
Walk on the Water
Sweet Words
The Orphan King
Another Day Borrowed
  • March 12, 1966 is one of the saddest songs I’ve heard, and there was not a dry eye in the house when she delivered that one.
  • The Orphan King was a nice capstone and was delivered with a smile and with audience participation. We still believe in love.
Mindy Smith

  • Mindy gave a pretty disjointed show. She was flighty on the stage and constantly tuning her guitar to the point of annoyance, but she was also warm, funny, and has a voice of an angel.
  • Her set list is as follows:
What Went Wrong
Highs and Lows
If I Didn’t Know Any Better
Raggedy Ann
Come to Jesus
Ahead of Myself
Out Loud
  • Jolene, the old Dolly Parton standby, is one of my most hated songs. Mindy’s treatment made it absolutely haunting, and it was fabulous.
  • Come to Jesus was perhaps the finest moment of the night. Chills-up-the-back kind of singing.
  • Out Loud was surprisingly botched on the lyrics, and I felt bad as it was Mindy’s last song. Not a good note to end on for either the audience or her.
General Observations
  • I liked The Cedar. It was intimate (probably less than 200 people), a touch hippy, and smelled of the restaurants next door. I’d definitely go do another show there again.
  • Despite general admission seating, we had great seats. 
  • They had Summit on tap. Hell, the place was awesome!
  • It was weird to be back in this neighborhood after living down there during grad school. I had a lot of bad memories down there, and let’s just say I’m glad to be living where I’m at today.  A lot has changed for me since then, although it was fun living down there when the Twins won their first championship.
  • Overall, a very good show by two very, very talented ladies. Nice night.