Thursday, August 30

Dancing with the Lakers


Duluth's NBC affiliate, KBJR, announced today it would run a local spoof of FOX's hit, "Dancing with the Stars." The twist is that there won't be any so-called stars. In their place, popular ship captains will dance with local unknowns. The name "lakers" comes from the fact that all of the most popular ship captains in Duluth come from the 1000-foot ore-hauling boats commonly referred to by the same name.

In KBJR's announcement it was proclaimed that Ms. Kelly Pope, age 25, will be dancing in the 5-week competition with Captain Paul Jungbauer of Cornucopia, Wisconsin. Pope, a relative unknown even on local dance circuits, is considered a potential underdog. She appeared last year in the Duluth Playhouse's unpopular take on Thomas Hardy's "Jude the Obscure." To those who know her, she's something of a phenom. In her statement, however, she is simply "excited beyond belief to be dancing with Captain Jungbauer!" Since the announcement, Pope has also been seen exclaiming that "Captain Jungbauer is so competent! The way he pilots those lakers through the canal, I just can't help but know he will be graceful on the dance floor!"

Captain Hugo Mayorga will be spending the season with Ms. Barbara Reyelts. Reyelts' career actually began at KBJR, making this something of a homecoming for her. Mayorga, hailing from the landlocked city of Queretaro, Mexico, has actually never danced before. "Back home, I was asked to come work in the family business - food transportation. But we used donkeys. Somehow, I was eventually traded to a ship building company, and then to work on this boat. I was only voted captain by the crew two weeks ago after the original captain was thrown overboard by a large stowaway." Though Mayorga may seem like a strange choice for the competition, it is well known that his zany antics will draw viewers. Reyelts, for her part, is a two time dance champion at the Head of the Lakes Fair.

Dancing with the Lakers will air at 5 and 8 PM on KBJR, local channel 6, starting on September 8. KBJR is reportedly in talks with TV stations from St. Paul to air the show throughout the state.

Wednesday, August 29

Bergson Proposes Alternative Fair

No, it's not what you're thinking. Mayor Bergson is not proposing a gay fair. But his proposal would result in a gay old time!

Bergson has proposed that Duluth hold a "State Fair of the North." For fairgrounds, Bergson is proposing to use the ancient US Steel site. In his words, "A more than adequate location for a good time."

Bergson issued the following statement:

"For too long, we have sent our hard earned dollars to the fair in St. Paul. No more! I propose a new, alternative fair. My fair would feature the best of the St. Paul fair - I will have a 'largest pig' and 'faces made of butter.' And my fair would go beyond the St. Paul fair. To the typical fair fare of 'footlong' pronto pups, I will propose a TWO FOOT pronto pup. To best the walleye on a stick, a paltry morsel, I will propose a LAKE TROUT on a stick. And the trout will be cooked WHOLE!"

Bergson went on to explain the rest of his concept. Unquestionably, it is unique. But who would pay the start-up costs of acquiring the land and building the infrastructure? Not to mention the marketing and parking lots required to attract the patrons. In Bergson's eyes, those costs should be borne by the Duluth Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The DCVB issued the following short press release after hearing about Bergson's proposal: "We have not heard of or endorsed in any way this proposal."

Tuesday, August 28

Central Entrance Psychic Incorrectly Predicts Ore Ship's Arrival

Duluth psychic Eunice O'Toole incorrectly predicted the arrival of the Edmund Fitzgerald Monday from her Central Entrance reading room. O'Toole, performing readings in the Duluth area since arriving from suburban Chicago in 1998, stated, "it has become clear to me that the ship [the Edmund Fitzgerald] will arrive at 10:19 AM on Friday, August 31."

Questioning by reporters revealed that O'Toole was completely unaware that the Edmund Fitzgerald was shipwrecked in 1976. When asked whether she thought The Duluth Shipping News would not also be a good source for ship arrivals and departures, O'Toole responded that "the words of Nostradomus ring true in all print articles," and "the news of ships reflects the permissions of Davy Jones."

Scuba divers discovered the wreck of the Fitzgerald in 1992. At the time, it appeared that the ship had sunk as a result of extensive gales of November. In 1994, however, the Canadian government released documents showing how the Fitzgerald was accidentally targeted as a renegade ship bringing supplies to secessionist parties in the province of Quebec. At the time, the Canadians were regularly firing on American vessels suspected of acting as illegal supply ships.

Monday, August 27

Breaking News: Civil Unrest in Calabaza Alta Neighborhood


Unrest broke out at 4:45 PM Central Time in the normally quiet Hermantown neighborhood of Calabaza Alta. One protester, misunderstanding the potential of the forthcoming riot, called out "No more circus! Death to the clowns!" The woman, upset about an issue that was completely unrelated to the ongoing civil unrest, was quickly led away by the police.

Problems in Calabaza Alta began after an altercation over the sale of fancy mushrooms at a neighborhood farmer's market. The clerk, Norbert Kuprowski, was under the impression that he could not sell the mushrooms to anyone not wearing substantial amounts of bling. Kuprowski stated that "my boos explain the mushrooms only to silver and gold representative," and went on further to make clear (through a translator) that his superiors had already allocated the day's worth of fancy mushrooms to a wealthy client.

Edward Needham, a key agitator in the still-unfolding situation, believes the insurrection will achieve its means. "I'm pretty clear on one thing, that we aren't driving trucks around into mailboxes for nothing. No, we're here to spread a message - fancy mushrooms aren't just for some meddling cake-eater from Two Harbors." Asked how a disruption to mail service would send that point, Needham replied, "Well, it's pretty clear if I say it is."

Police Chief Peabody has stated that anyone participating in the melee will be dealt with quickly and without remorse. Peabody issued a proclamation that "the Calabaza Alta market will open tomorrow, come fancy mushrooms or green beans." Residents applauded the Chief's quick action and pleaded for a reasonable conclusion on the part of both sides.

Sunday, August 26

Injuries, Fire at Dragon Boat Festival

Some suggest insurance may be a good idea for next year's festivities

Injuries continue to mount in the late hours Sunday as the S.S. Meteor continues to burn at the lovely Barker's Island in Superior. At the present time there are 25 persons reported to be in critical condition at Douglas County Memorial Urgent Care Center. The Meteor caught fire Saturday after being rammed by a dragon boat during the yearly festival.

The Dragon Boat Festival is held yearly at Barker's Island. This year, it began like it does every year: traditional parades and dress, coupled with feasting on a huge stack of egg rolls. Friday's events went off as planned, with the races set to start at 9:00 AM Saturday.

At the crack of dawn, Greg Chamberlain was putting the final touches on his dragon boat. The foremast, which included at large golden dragon head, was complete. The dragon's nostrils, constructed of stainless steel, would be the most exciting aspect of the boat. They were to be automatically set aflame halfway through the race; sparks would fly to a distance of 15' in front of the boat. During the race, however, things quickly went awry. First, Chamberlain's boat was damaged. A boat piloted by Heather Tsongas, three-time winner in the "expansive/roomy dragon" category, veered to port incorrectly, utterly destroying Chamberlain's rudder.

Lacking a rudder, Chamberlain tried to control the dragon. As he took drastic steps to bring the fast moving dragon to a halt, the auto-nostrils went off and flames burst forth. Chamberlain veered towards land, realizing too late that he was headed toward the Museum "S.S. Meteor." In a matter of seconds, Chamberlain's dragon had pierced the hull of the Meteor. Lacking any sort of shut-off mechanism, flames spewed forth into the aging bulkhead of the Meteor. What no one expected next was a massive explosion. Chamberlain was thrown from the dragon boat upon ramming the Meteor and was unharmed.

The Meteor was placed in permanent dry dock at Barker's Island in 1971 for use as a museum. Unbeknown to Museum employees, the Meteor remained partially filled with gasoline. The Meteor was commissioned in 1898 and served primarily as an ore hauling carrier; however, for a time she carried cargo as diverse as Detroit's automobiles and Duluth's used short pants. She was retrofitted in 1942 at the height of World War II to haul gasoline and other liquids across the Great Lakes.

After the explosion, which sent many spectators and boats flying into the air, the Meteor remained aflame. Superior firefighters estimated the gasoline would continue burning until there was none left; there was some speculation that the fire might spread across the bay to the Park Pointe airport, but it remained unclear how many contaminants in the bay were flammable.

The Dragon Festival held no insurance policy on the event. In an act of frontier justice only possible in Wisconsin, several of the promoters remain today in local prisons to ensure that someone is held responsible for what was obviously a terrible, tragic accident.

Tsongas went on to capture first place in the "expansive/roomy dragon" category. The prize included a three-night stay at the luxury Sundown Motel along shores of northern Minnesota's picturesque Rocky Run River.

Both Chamberlain's dragon boat and the S.S. Meteor were destroyed in the blaze, said to be the largest fire on Lake Superior since the sinking of the F. Scott Fitzgerald.