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Archive for the ‘entertainment’ Category

When I was a kid in the 70s, we played kick the can.

Almost every night during summer, when the sun went down, kids in the neighborhood gathered in a back yard with the Folgers or Maxwell House coffee can — or a Well’s Blue Bunny ice cream bucket (gallon-sized) — for an hour or two of hiding and kicking and getting grass stains on our knees. Lots of debate on who was or wasn’t adhering to the rules would ensue. And honestly, I can’t even remember the rules. It didn’t matter then or now.

My kids never experienced the thrill of rushing into a wide open space and sliding into or kicking a can so they wouldn’t have to be “it.” Technology usurped those summer evening back yard games.

I marvel in both admiration and horror as my son now sits and spends his evening with a head set and portable computer chatting in real-time with friends as he plays computer war games.

While the Folgers Coffee can has been replaced with other technology, I’m not so sure it’s ALL for the better.

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It took the 11 years and four treks, but I’ve made friends with the North Shore of Minnesota – a stretch of Lake Superior shoreline, highway, infamous landmarks, and seasonal resorts.

Up until now, my travels that direction epitomized the word miserable. Few other places in the country boast about bad weather to attract tourists, but for those in Duluth and points north along the treacherous northwest shore of Lake Superior, bad weather is a piece of nearly every historical moment worth noting. For me, one late summer trip several years ago featured horizontal rain and high winds for two straight days. A second venture resulted in a foot of snow and high winds. The third trip, a late April getaway, included some sun, but the wind blew so fierce it might as well have been the Antarctic. This pattern seems to be the norm.

The vistas and opportunities to hike, bike and relax in the Arrowhead Region of Minnesota are too numerous to ignore…and so away we went on Saturday to kick off Labor Day weekend 2010.

And brother, we hit the weather jackpot.

Two full days of “sunny and mid- to upper-60s farenheit” ruled our short getaway. On Day One, the lofty cotton-ball-esque dotted skies served as a personal tour guide as we hiked miles and miles of the Superior Hiking Trail – enough steps to make our feet, calves, knees and thighs tell us “enough.” If you haven’t stepped onto a piece of the 270-plus miles of this trail, add it to your bucket list. And while you’re at it, make sure to take the Lookout Mountain trail section for a scene unlike any other you’ll find in Minnesota.

That evening we ate and slept in Grand Marais. Our dinner bell rang at The Crooked Spoon, a crowded cafe on Wisconsin Street where the chef served up a wicked lamb tenderloin and the most beautiful leafy green salad I’ve ever seen. And while very much a tourist town, for a Saturday night, Grand Marais seemed very quaint and quiet overlooking a calm Lake Superior.

On a cloudless Day Two, Cheri and I biked the Pincushion Mountain trail, just a couple miles from Grand Marais off the Gunflint Trail highway. Leaving the town, this highway rises over 1,000 feet in just 2.5 miles or so. After completely wasting our legs peddling the mountain bike trail, I coasted back in to Grand Marais – nearing 40 mph on two wheels and barely turning the crank.

Another hike on the Superior Hiking Trail to take in Devil’s Kettle gave new meaning to late summer in Northern Minnesota. As we sat on the rocks of the Brule River watching the falls the color was unbelievable. From the rocks to the sharp dark walls of the river’s gorge to the green chlorophyl-laden shrubs and trees to a clear blue sky. Now that’s what being outdoors is suppose to be about.

Lesson learned. The North Shore may be unforgiving at times with its wind, driving rain and lake effect snows, but pick your moment and place and you can be pleasantly surprised by the gift of such a place. And you may, like me, make friends with a piece of America that you had for awhile given up on.

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Never let anyone tell you that Minneapolis/Saint Paul lack for things to do. In fact, there are so many events coming that it’s difficult to squeeze it all in.

Starting this week, it’s the Great Minnesota Get Together in Saint Paul – The Minnesota State Fair, Aug. 27 – Sept. 8. I’ll go on Friday morning for #smbmsp (search it on Twitter), a monthly gathering of social media gurus in the Twin Cities…and for the Pronto Pups.

Other fun things on the sched:

  • Brandi Carlile performing at The O’Shaugnessy theater at St. Catherine’s University in Saint Paul on Wednesday, Sept. 23
  • David Gray (this will be my third time seeing Gray in Minneapolis) at The Orpheum theater in Minneapolis on Friday, Oct. 30
  • Sister’s Christmas Catechism on Saturday, Nov. 21 at the Ordway Theater

And, perhaps what I’m looking forward to most,

  • Jerry Seinfeld at The Orpheum on Saturday, Nov. 14.

It’s a cornucopia of entertainment opportunities. Seriously.

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I once watched a truly terrible movie, “Kabluey.”  (Should have known it was gonna be bad when the flick starred Lisa Kudrow…but the premise of it seemed good). Afterward I thought to myself, “Why would anyone produce such a major waste of time?” Now, whenever I pass that DVD jacket at the local rental store, I laugh inside. Last week while shopping at the rental store, I noticed someone pick up the movie and I had to refrain from shouting, “Don’t rent it! It’s awful!” But I hushed myself.

Moments later in the store, I was checking out a flick called, “Lake City.” Little did I know it was equally sucky. We watched “Lake City,” on Sunday and at one point during the movie, I looked across the living room and said, “This feels like it was made for TV.” It wasn’t, but it was written, directed and produced like it was. Note to self: Sissy Spacek can’t really act and she can’t get by in movies on her good looks. What’s more, Dave Matthews can’t play the evil bad guy. His face is too kind.

Meanwhile, I’m thoroughly enjoying season one of “Deadwood,” which I’ve nearly completed watching. I’ve added season two to my Netfkix queue along with Will Smith’s  “Seven Pounds,” something I never saw in theaters.

The occasional bad movie resembles a bad cup of coffee. It’s bitter or weak and gets cold before you can finish it…but it’s still coffee and if you love coffee you drink it anyway.

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This from the creative writers at The Rake and the daily “Secrets of the Day…”

MarsCon Invades the Holiday Inn

Bust out that Storm Trooper costume that you’ve been saving for a rainy day and head down to the Holiday Inn Select in Bloomington for the nerdiest experience of your life. March 6, 7 and 8, geeks of all castes, affiliations and creeds will congregate for 72 hours of no-holds-barred antics and snort laughing at this annual Science Fiction convention. During the day, official activities such as panel discussions, vendor displays, lectures, autograph signings, performances, film screenings and much more abound.

After hours, however, two floors of the hotel will boast open party rooms with varying themes — most of them featuring plenty of alcohol and sassy, costumed nerds who will stop at nothing to get you to join their celebrations. In other words? Totally awesome! And luckily, what happens at a Sci-Fi Convention, stays at a Sci-Fi Convention…unless, of course, you write an article about one for Secrets of the City.

Friday 7 p.m. through Sunday 9 p.m., Holiday Inn Select, 3 Apple Tree Square, Bloomington, $25 one day, $55 for weekend.

Hilarity is certain to ensue. I may camp out in the parking lot and take photos. Photos to use as blackmail at a future date.

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On two separate occasions I’ve attended a live show featuring U.K.-born singer and songwriter David Gray. The first time I saw him live, I was in the front row of Northrup Auditorium on the campus of the University of Minnesota, close enough to hear his foot tap as he played. In fact, I could almost read his play list which he had taped to the floor next to his mic stand. At the next show, I sat about 20 rows back and the music was just as meaningful.

His album, White Ladder, proved to be his foundation here in the U.S., even though he’d seen amazing success across the pond for several years prior to this release. On that record, the song “This Year’s Love” was my immediate favorite. Yeah, I’m a sucker for a really good love song. So!

As many people who listen to “This Year’s Love” may think, Gray sings this song for each of us. Those who’ve known real love and those who thought they had it. Just a taste.

On Oct. 8, Gray released songs from his new record, “A Thousand Miles Behind.” Check his web site for details. But listen to this classic before you bounce.

The Lyrics

This year’s love had better last
Heaven knows its high time
And I’ve been waiting on my own too long
But when you hold me like you do
It feels so right, oh no
I start to forget
How my heart gets torn
When that hurt gets thrown
Feeling like you can’t go on

Turning circles and time again
It cuts like a knife oh no
If you love me, got to know for sure
Cos it takes something more this time
Than sweet sweet lies
Before I open up my arms and fall
Losing all control
Every dream inside my soul
When you kiss me
On that midnight street
Sweep me off my feet
Singing ain’t this life so sweet

This year’s love had better last

This year’s love had better last
Cos who’s to worry
If our hearts get torn
When that hurt gets thrown
Don’t you know this life goes on
And won’t you kiss me
On that midnight street
Sweep me off my feet
Singing ain’t this life so sweet

This year’s love had better last
This year’s love had better last
This year’s love had better last
This year’s love had better last

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Hard to believe that the Big 10 standings look like this two weeks into the season.

WolverinesMichigan. No wins. Imagine that. I feel a little sorry for the Blue. And I really wish the Hawkeyes had Michigan on its schedule this year. It could be a real drubbing, which Iowa doesn’t get to do very often when it comes to Michigan.

Things get even more interesting on Sept. 15 when the Wolfies will take on The Irish and the interstate rivalry between Iowa and Iowa State will help determine if the Hawks are for real…or not.

The fun of college football certainly beats the scripted NFL story lines. After all, who would have guessed Michigan would be out of the Top 25 after the first two weeks of play (the team was ranked No. 5 in pre-season polls). You just can’t make it up!

Saturdays in September and October can be so much fun – and I didn’t even watch a snap of a game. That’s sure to end pretty soon, however, as teams making upsets become too fascinating not to watch.

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