Tales From Normal, Mn.--FICTION

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Tales from Normal, Mn. Headline News---FICTION

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Dateline Normal, MN.; "The Longest Flood; The Longest Yard; The Longest Review"----FICTION

The other morning just at the break of dawn, over a fresh cup of coffee, extra sugar and whipped cream, my wife asked me the question, "How come we never hear of Mrs. Noah.?"

Being the Observer, I normally get to ask the questions. Being on the receiving end of such a tough one led me to simply smile and suggest that we get out of town for a weekend.

Yes, it is rare when I head out of town, up Hwy 10 north of the Twin Cities, that I would bring my wife along, bein that mostly its just the guys that frequent the Hideaway Lounge and the sacred spots of the north. However--- I decided to make a special exception in the case of the "Longest Flood."

When we got through with the pleasantries at the Hideaway Lounge, having ordered the "dry martini, shaken, not stirred, and the wife ordering her usual dacquiri---I opened with the observation that I wondered if it was my imagination whether as we get older in life, the trials get "longer" in duration. The floods get longer, etc. ------
The guys were very amused.

"Absolutely not, Wolfman!" Herman burst out in partial laughter. "It must be that your mind is getting slower. These trials have ALWAYS been LONG. Your memory might be failing. Remember those famous films----"The Longest Day"===Wow what a great war flick that was!! And how about that football flick "The Longest Yard"----that was one of my favorites. But the ALL time favorite "Longest" film was the classic "The Longest REVIEW." What a blockbuster that was!!!!!!"

"I don't remember "The Longest Review", I said. "Are you sure it was not some grade "B" movie or maybe just a Minnesota Public Television special movie.?"

"NOPE", Herman replied. It was a national release.

It was a story about a school official that kept coming up for review, but the school board just kept postponing it. It dragged on forever and forever. "

"I don't understand what is so difficult about a simple salary review. It is just one slip of paper," I asked in an innocent tone.

"Well, Wolfman, (that's what he always called me), this was a case of sheer moxie. By delaying the salary review, for a full TEN years, the official was locked in to the previous salary rate-----What a great way to deliver COST CONTAINMENT!!! "

"Do you mean that the delay was a form of salary administration?, I asked.

"YES", Herman roared. And what a moxie move it was."

I was just TOTALLY shocked. Thank goodness we are back in good old Wisconsin. Where we do not even KNOW of such moxie moves as the TEN YEAR Salary Review. We might go a YEAR or so, but TEN is just way off the chart.

I did have to hand it to those folks in Normal, Mn.. They really knew how to set the standards. TEN years is quite a record. Maybe....Just maybe....If we pursued excellence....we could go for the record.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "The NOT For Sale Sign"---FICTION

Well....after thirty days and thirty nights of rain, I decided to head out of town to one of my favorite getaway spots....you guessed it, Normal, MN., just up Hwy 10 from the Twin Cites, just this side of Garrison, and just West of the Land of Lake Woebegone.

As I was rolling into town, I was surprised to see a house with the sign -----"NOT FOR SALE"-----I was totally shocked. Bold RED letters on a white background.

Just as soon as I met Herman at the Hideaway Lounge, I asked him: "What's with the NOT FOR SALE signs? I have never seen that before.

"It's real simple, Wolfman,(that's what he always called me) we have a huge real estate crisis up here. In fact, NOTHIN is selling. We only had a population increase of 1 last year. With everyone wanting to sell their home, the real estate brokers ran out of signs for their customers. What a crisis!

"What did you do?,"I asked.

"It's real simple. We just added the word NOT and then only needed a couple of signs in the whole town. It has been a huge saving."

Well...thank goodness I am back in good old Wisconsin....where we can put up all the For Sale signs we want, even if they do no good. Switchin to the NOT FOR SALE concept just seems too big of a change. Sometimes being historic means just bein stubborn. Make a note of it.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Dateline Normal: Epistles of Noah---Part II---FICTION

(Ed. note.: This is one of a long series of tales of FICTION from the land of Normal, Mn., a land up in northern Minnesota, up Hwy 10 just south of Garrison, and west of the Land of Lake Woebegone. These tales are on podcast on Itunes, and can be downloaded to listen on your ipod for FREE. When shipped out in CD form, they are always shipped in a brown paper wrapper clearly marked FICTION. )

The other night, right after a huge thunder clap had hit near the house, I thought I heard the phone ring. It was faint. Sure enough. It was the phone. But who would call at the unheard of hour of 2am------you guessed it. It was my old friend Herman, the countryboy lawyer from Normal, Mn.. But he never called. Something must be up I thought.

"I found the motherload", he yelled. "I found it!"

"What are you talking about," I asked.

"Well, Wolfman, (that's what he always called me.) You remember that in the Epistles of Noah, I had translated from the Hebrew---with great skill and difficulty I might add-------the last blurred part as 1 MILLION YEARS----or the complete text was "Notwithstanding this FLOOD, we will develop WEST and NORTHWEST ...in 1 million years------" Remember that, Wolfman?"

"YES, YES, I do remember, Herman. That was quite a translating event. Congrats!"

Herman went on: "That is nothing!"

I looked at the number again, and the final number is " 100 MILLION YEARS"----CAN you imagine THAT===Herman bubbled.

"No---I cannot imagine anything that long"---I said. I suppose that was the problem. It seemed not possible so you missed it."

"YES," Herman went on. Noah just could not bear to think that the wait would be that long. Such a long time to wait for further development. I fully empathize with him. He was an action kind of guy. It must have been tough."

I got off the phone. WOW. I suppose I could have told Herman to call me during regular office hours. But then it does not happen very often.

Thank goodness we're back in good old Wisconsin. Where we don't have to wait 100 MILLION years to develop WEST and NORTHWEST. It would be tough to wait that long. Even if it was the right thing to do.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "The Gospel of Noah"---FICTION

Recently, with all the rain and all, I have been wondering about weather patterns. One of the concerns is whether that axis of rapidly intensfying rain extended all the way up to the frozen tundra of Normal, Mn.

So----I just decided to pick up the cellphone and call Herman, my old countryboy lawyer friend, who was not only a practicing lawyer in Normal, but a distinguished member of the Normal Minnesota School Board. I just wondered what Herman was doing to cope with all the rain that seemed to be plaguing the Midwest right now.

Despite the rainy conditions, I did get a cell phone connection.

"Herman," I yelled into the phone, "Has it been terrible with flooding up in Normal?"

"YUP"---Herman replied. "It's been a mess. It's been no problem though, cause we are mostly in a flood plain and do not build houses there, and the school board most certainly does not build houses there. "

"Why not?", I replied.

"It's real simple," Herman replied. "First of all, as a member of the school board and all, but mostly cause I am a lawyer, I have a fiduciary responsibility to not be negligent and build in a flood plain. To do so would mean my removal from the school board. Just search it on the internet, Wolfman. A lawyer has a serious responsibilty not to be negligent in things like building in flood plains."

"I never heard of that, Herman. Where is this found?"

"It is simple law school stuff, Wolfman, (that's what he always called me.) It's just part of Prosser on Torts, the bible of torts, or negligence in law school.

"But besides the law, there is the RELIGION."

"Whatever do you mean, Herman?" What does RELIGION have to do with it.?"

Herman replied: " Up here, Wolfman, we believe in the Epistles of Noah---it's one of them "LOST' texts. I have even seen copies of the parchment scrolls, which are copied and printed with the epistles of Mary Magdaline and the Epistles of Thomas.

In one fragment, as Noah is entering the ark, he says:

"Nothwithstanding these flood waters, we will still build West and Northwest, but will just add as many holding ponds as necessary........"

"What was that part at the end, Herman?

"Well, it was a little blurred, Wolfman. After careful review of the original Hebrew, I have discovered that Noah said, "We will still build West and Northwest AFTER ONE MILLION YEARS. "

"Great research work, Herman. What a discovery!"

"Yes," Herman replied. Even though it would be a million years till there would be further development, Noah still was POSITIVE. POSITIVE about the million years part anyway. "

Well there it is. Even though the gospel of Thomas and yes the gospel of Mary Magdaline is ...well....maybe......possibly fiction....ya gotta believe in the gospel of Noah.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Dateline Normal: "Religion Comes to Normal, Mn.; Or, "It's an Act of God."--FICTION

It's been pretty hot, hot, hot around these here parts, and humid, and I just could not resist the temptation to head on up that long and winding road, up Hwy 10 north of the Twin Cities, to my favorite getaway town, Normal, Mn.

"The Pretenders" were playing live at the Hideaway Lounge when I arrived---I had missed the first set, which stoked me up, but I just could not speed, being that I had the blog signs on the car and all. Needed to be an example of following the speed limit.

Got settled in to listen to the live band and visit with the guys----I was one of the last folks there, so the only seat available was next to a huge speaker. Days later I could still hear the bass loud and clear.

About 11PM, a uniformed police officer, one of Normal's finest, came over and tapped Herman on the shoulder. They went out of the bar to talk for what seemed like the whole last set.

When Herman returned, I just could not resist asking.

"What was it all about Herman?

"It was just nothin, Wolfman. (That's what he always called me.) It was just an Act Of God."

"Whatever do you mean?, I asked.

"It's real simple, Wolfman. One of Henry's sons ran off the road and totalled the car. The car was filled with beer cans. However, the youngster was just trying to avoid hitting a 30 point buck. Went to extreme lengths to avoid that fine animal. It was really a "miracle." In fact.......It was an "Act of GOD."

I was speechless. "But Herman, nobody believes in God up in these here parts."

"Yes, that is true. Still, Wolfman, even in the case of extreme unbelievers---in time of extreme necessity----- ya have to have some explanation. In the end, it had to be the media------ or God that was to blame."

"Did the officer believe the "Act of God" or "miracle" story," I asked.

"Frankly, I am not sure. And it does not matter. He needed to get religion real quick or every fisherman in 100 miles would have been on his case."

Wow. I was totally amazed. I just got back in the car and headed back to good old Wisconsin. Thank goodness we live in a fair city that has beliefs, and not just religion that is convenient in a time of emergency. Thank goodness we do NOT brand an "Act of God" on every inconvenient tragedy that occurs.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Dateline Normal, Mn.: Planning Commission Movies: The Mystery---FICTION-

Well. It sure has been hot...hot...hot in these here parts. Kinda like the weather of "Good Morning Vietnam.....". I felt it was just about time to head the car up north to cooler territory---up that long road to Normal, Mn., up on Hwy 10 north of the Twin Cites, just south of Garrison, and west of the land of Lake Woebegone.

There was a rush of fisherman cause of the great weather up north, so I had to check in to the Spruce Goose Motel right away. Thank goodness I did, cause I got the last room...a king size pull down from the wall bed with the deer and bear mounted on the walls...and yes with the little dove minibars in the ash trays for just a hint of upscale cache.

I met Herman over that the Hideaway Lounge where it was Elvis impersonation weekend. What a packed house. Anway, no sooner had I sat down, did Herman begin to rib me about all the video.

"What's with all the video, Wolfman? Herman laughed with a huge belly laugh. "And all the close ups. Ya need to do the long shots with the old guys. It's the young uns that you do the close ups with!." Ya really need a Busbie Berkely overhead shot--that would be really neat.....then he laughed uncontrollably....

"That's enough....that's just enough, I shouted.....which was rare for me..being so controlled and such.....We are working real hard at planning...and I am just doin the best I can to let everyone know in a real closeup way the fine job folks are doin....."

"What are you guys doin up here in Normal? I have not seen any movies of you guys. What's up?

Herman took a deep breath-------"Wolfman----(that's what he always called me) up here we can listen. We are in tune with nature. We love to fish. We know when folks are not able to buy----why meet and share and meet and share and connive and such when the folks have spoken-----they do not need your services. PERIOD. That is what a national housing slowdown means, Wolfman. Up here....we understand.

"Are you saying that we are hard of hearing?

"YES", Herman replied. That is exactly what I am saying. We have not had a planning meeting in over a year in Normal. And we do NOT plan on one till we see some demand. We have more important things to do---like fish.

Well. I was just shocked. I just got in the car and headed back to good old Wisconsin. Where we hold planning sessions even if nobody is buying. Where we have great close up movies of old guys and not just young movie stars. and where we can plan decades ahead even if nothin happens.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Dateline Normal, Mn.: Normal celebrates "Justice Desserts"---FICTION

Recently I have been reading about the upcoming celebration of all the volunteers of Evansville and the special recognition that will be held at the Evansville High School called "Just Desserts."

I thought the idea was pretty cool. The reality is that communities need a vigorous volunteer involvement to make everything work to the maximum. Whether it is a hospital, a church, or a city .....volunteer participation is key.

So....I picked up the phone and called my old friend Herman, the country boy lawyer from Normal, Mn. . I was just wondering whether the spirit of volunteerism was alive up in fishing territory.

"Herman----have you every heard of something called "Just Desserts?" I asked.

"Shucks no, Wolfman,(that's what he always called me). I think you have the name wrong. Up in these parts we call it "Justice Desserts." I think you shortened the name up from a noun to an adjective. That makes it something completely different."

"I just don't understand, Herman----what could Justice Desserts be about?

"It's real simple Wolfman. Up here we just have homes and do a lot of fishing. So the guys up here are mostly mechanical types---craftsmen---that love the call of nature. "

"OK"----I think I understand that part, I said.

Then Herman went on. "Up here we want to foster a committment to quality craftsmanship. So. We made a simple change. We do not issue building permits. We just issue occupancy permits. Each home is inspected and if it does not meet code to the high standards of Normal, the occupancy permit is not granted. Simple as that.

Then each year, we honor the finest craftsmen of our town with the "Justice Desserts" plaque. A real plaque program. On each plaque, is the symbol of the scales of justice and recipient's name. On each home site, the guys just compete like heck to do the very best job they can to meet the specs so they can win the award. It is real amazing to watch.

"But what if there is error?", I asked. What happens then?

"The home just sits empty. It serves as a warning to others. Kind of a reverse role model of sorts. And of course it is a total loss."

"Wow." I was just stunned. Thank goodness we live in our fair city. Where we have "Just Desserts" and NOT "Justice Desserts"----where mostly builders just need building permits and not occupancy permits.

Still. The more I thought about it, the more I really wanted one of those Justice Plaques. With the scale on it. Boy would that look neat on the wall.