Monday, September 24

Man Seeks Equatorial Bliss

I had the privledge of speaking with Max Underwall, the renowned Duluthian, at last week's DECC Gun Expo. Below, the interview.

SF: Mr. Underwall, how are you today?
MU: I'm fine. I wish I were at the equator.
SF: What's at the equator?
MU: I prefer the equator. Time is more equal there.
SF: Is time less equal here?
MU: Obviously. Here, it's sometimes dark, sometimes light. Today, for example, we have something like 13 hours of light and 11 hours of dark. That's just absurd. No, for me it's the equator, all the way. I don't have the slightest need for any place that's anything other than 12 hours light, 12 hours dark.
SF: So, you're considering relocating?
MU: Would if I could. I can't figure out where I could go, along the equator, where we'd have decent temperatures.
SF: I understand it is quite warm at the equator.
MU: It is if you stay at sean, that is, sea, level. I'm sorry. I've had quite a bit to drink.
SF: I see. You're looking for a place that's somewhat mountainous.
MU: Exactly. I can't stand the heat. I want some R and R from the damned heat.
SF: Did you have success at the gun show?
MU: I unloaded four glocks I bought off an Icelandic guy outside the airport, so if you call that success, then I guess I've got it made. You?
SF: I usually just come to these things for the ambiance.
MU: I see.
SF: And what of your latest screenplay? Do you feel like it will meet with success over at Miramax?
MU: No. It wasn't good. I had to write most of it without the slightest expectation of whether it would be light, or dark. It's always changing. I've got to get out of this town.
SF: Have you considered renting a vacation cottage in Quito, Equador? I understand it is quite mountainous, and on the equator.
MU: No. I'm not allowed into Equador anymore.

Sunday, September 23

Unfinished PhD Blamed on Washing Machine

When Betsy Wright is asked about her PhD dissertation, she gets angry. "There's only so much I can take," professed Wright, "without blowing a fuse." The fuse in question? A 15 amp running directly to the circuit feeding the washing machine.

Wright is in year 6 of her dissertation, entitled "Invertebrate Growth in a Sub-Temperate Amorphic Aquatic Environment." Wright has specialized in microbiology and had expected to be awarded her PhD from the College of St. Scholastica in May, until her washing machine again began acting out. "This is the 11th time in four years. Year two of the project was going great. My data was clean. And then I realized that my clothes weren't."

"Lately it's begun smoking from somewhere underneath, followed by a general throttling," explained Wright. "It keeps going for maybe ten minutes or so, and by this point it's almost through the cycle. I'm not about to interrupt. Then, just as it's about to spit out the final dirty water, the fuse blows. And I'm not about to start going to a laundromat."

Repair man George Lippert of Ready Wash believes the problem is simple. "All I need to do is get a look up in there," explained Lippert. "Looks like a five dollar part needs replacing. Pro'lly be the ball bearing socket. What I can't reckon is how she keeps paying $5 per fuse, with it going out every load, well that's got to add up."

Wright has no interest in having the machine repaired, exhorting that, "I'm about to get my PhD. I don't need a repairman to fix my machine. And it's always fixed itself before!" Wright, who has no children, did not explain why doing laundry took so much time that she could not finish the dissertation or why her house, built in 1996, came with a fuse panel from 1960.

"I've never heard of a house with still having fuses," stated Lippert, "I thought they stopped sellin' those in the 80s."

Friday, September 21

Man Proposes in Ordinary Way


Woman, Waitstaff Sorely Disappointed

At Hermantown's Tejas Bar and Grill, the stage was perfectly set today when John Price, 31, proposed to his girlfriend of 4 years, Lisa Wadhwani. Just as Wadhwani was about to take her first bite of her steaming enchiladas verdes, Price bent down beside her on one knee and softly said, "Lisa, will you marry me?"

The proposal came as something of a surprise to Wadhwani, although Price had asked her to go 'jewelry shopping' just two days prior. "I thought he was narcissistic or something. He kept asking which rings I thought would look good on him. I never meant for him to buy me this ugly wide-band gold ring with a 3-carat piece of bixbite."

Bixbite, a common gem found in Utah, is of a reddish hue and is generally used in lasers. "I really thought it was her favorite stone," a sheepish Price admitted later, explaining, "I would've bought the return policy if I had known. It was $10,000!"

Prior to the proposal, Gordo Houston, general manager at Tejas, approached Price with an offer to make the evening special. "We've done all kinds of things here. Two guys in the kitchen play violin - we've done that before. They don't mind. We put things in food all the time - she almost never swallows it. One time, we even brought in a donkey. It held the ring in its mouth. That was one well-trained donkey!"

Price doesn't regret his approach. "If there's one thing Lisa hates, it's excitement. She just can't stand things that are out of the ordinary." For her part, Wadhwani did just get back from a mountain climbing expedition where she reached the summit of Mount Everest, a feat now performed by thousands of regular people each year. She believes, however, that it was fate. "John and I met in the most regular way - at a bar, where I was dancing on his table while he did shots. So even though he could've proposed when we went hang gliding in the Poconos last month, I'm glad he saved it. It was less memorable this way."

Wadhwani did not offer Price an immediate response to his proposal, and it was with some trepidation that they both retired to their shared Duluth apartment.

Wednesday, September 19

Activists Seek to Halt Time

Armed with little more than erroneous facts and pocket knives, local activists today attempted to halt time. With cries of "We require permanence," and "Down with change," the group known as "Halt Time Duluth" (HTD) broke into the major yearly performance of the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra.

The DSSO had just started their rendition of "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman" by John Tesh when the melee broke out. The activists first directed their anger at the strings section, focusing mostly on the unfortunate cellos, who were closest to the rear entry. After finishing off the cellos, the activists turned on the flutes and quickly turned the instruments on the audience. The Duluth Police, unable to put a stop to the situation, called in the Duluth National Guard. The DNG had the situation under control by 9:30 PM, with ample time for the audience members who had stayed above the fray in the balcony section to have a post-melee beverage.

A spokesperson for HTD bellowed "We won't stand for this! No more Tesh!" It appears that HTD is mostly interested in renditions of songs by more popular actor/songwriters, like Kevin Bacon. "We liked his songs in Footloose! We can stand for that." Members of the Duluth PD were found snikering near the site of the statement, and responded that "those HTDs are real idiots. Don't they know that Kevin Bacon can't sing? He sounds like a leprechaun when he does!"

It is not clear at this time what either John Tesh or Kevin Bacon have to do with stopping time. Perhaps, in an error in judgment, the HTDs believed that time should be stopped with "Footloose." This, indeed, would be a tragedy.

Monday, September 17

Ceiling Fan Attacks Woman

"It just came down at me, like someone dropped it off the Empire State Building!"

Heloise Humphrey, age 52, was attacked by her ceiling fan early Monday morning while enjoying a delicious breakfast of grits. "And grits aren't easy to come by in these parts, either, y'know," explained Humphrey from her bed at St. Mary's.

According to her police report, the fan "jumped off the ceiling like it was possessed, like it wanted blood," and after severely maiming Humphrey, it "flew right out the window - there wasn't anything that was going to stop it then!" The fan landed somewhere below the window on 3rd Street West. It was discovered by several passers-by who commented that "it just keeps spinning.. never seen that before."

Humphrey does not believe the ceiling fan sought her in particular. However, in her panic, eyewitnesses reported hearing her scream "just leave me be! It's not my time!" The police, who arrived on the scene just minutes after the disaster, believe the fan may have been improperly wired. Officer Jeffers, senior investigator, explained that "there have been some reports of a haunting. That doesn't seem likely at this point. More likely, a solar flare caused a power surge, and it was too much for the old fan to handle."

The fan has been removed to Zenith Terrace, where it will find a second home.

Saturday, September 15

Local Cop Makes Huge Bust

(Babbitt, Mn)

Late on Friday night, local officer Thomas Necedah made an astounding discovery: "People were driving through Babbitt. Just driving through!" Necedah needed to enforce the law, so he parked and waited. As the silver jaguar passed him, he realized something was very, very awry. "The car was going pretty fast. At least 15 miles over the speed limit!"

Speed limits in Babbitt have been controversial over the past year. The City Council, in an attempt to keep people who would otherwise drive straight through Babbitt inside the City, has changed the speed limit in some locations, varying from a maximum of 15 MPH to an actual minimum on a city street of 55 MPH! Council President Todd Brewbaker believes "the new speeds have people slowing down. And speeding up! Tourism revenues are up at least $55.25. The result? We've been able to buy the whole Council new umbrellas!"

After making a safe traffic stop, Necedah approached the vehicle. "These people looked nuts - definately wired on something." And that's when he noticed the back seat. "They had several items of illegal contraband. I was able to determine that several of their "musical instruments" were actually purpose-bought for use at cockfights. And I happen to also be aware that they were attempting to illegally transport several incandescent lightbulbs across state lines. I know those are illegal somewhere, anyway. Maybe New York City."

The car, registered to one Teak Yolksnob, has been taken to the Babbitt impound lot. The prisoners are scheduled for a hearing before an administrative judge in International Falls on October 8. Necedah will be awarded a medal of honor for his actions by the Mayor at an evening ceremony on September 15.

Wednesday, September 12

New College in Town?

A former Lake Superior College Provost will start a new online university known as "University of Proctorknott," named for the City of Proctor's namesake, James Proctor Knott. The College offices will be located in the former Yahoo! advertising building, on the courtyard of Proctor's famous beer gardens.

Diane Beauvais, Provost at LSC from 1992 until 2004, believes "the time is right for a new online university. Next generation technology is really making it even more possible." Beauvais aims to have over 60,000 students by 2nd semester, 2008. "What you may not know is that the phone companies just came out with some new techology: video screens associated with telephone calls. We can do whole classes via these video-telephones." Beauvais had an example of the technology present during the interview. It appeared to be some kind of digital telephone where one could see the caller's face.

Asked how she will achieve such high enrollment figures, Beauvais explained that "we will be placing placards throughout the greater Duluth area, and we will also target Michigan's UP. With a population of over 200,000, it seems very plausible that we will get just over 1/4 of them to sign up." When it was pointed out that the corporate success of "University of Phoenix" led to only 30,000 students after ten years of operation, Beauvais pointed out a simple fact: "They aren't located over a beer garden."

The City of Proctor, in anticipation of the many professors and instructors moving to the City, has preemptively begun construction on three new condominium towers with over 2,200 units of housing. Proctor officials stated that "We need to get out ahead of the housing rush. With ample public funds available, and with our sidewalks in perfect condition, we thought this was a perfect opportunity for economic development."

Monday, September 10

Gourds on The Water


A large container ship spilled 200 tons of gourds into the waters of St. Louis Bay today. The largest gourds, gigantic pumpkins destined for the Indiana State Fair, have clumped together in the Duluth shipping canal, blocking the canal and halting all shipping traffic. Officials estimate that gourd removal will begin at 4:00 AM Thursday.

"Gourd removal is really no easy task," according to Chip Kosmas, director of port security. "You have to be extra careful removing a gourd. I know some port directors take a more agressive approach, like just shooting the gourds. That's a risky approach. Gourd explosion is a major killer on the great lakes."

The Chinese ship Wu Tang, in port collecting grain and coal, had intended to leave at 6:25 on Monday. Due to the blocked canal, the Wu Tang won't leave port until Friday. "We will lose many days at sea due to these gourds," the captain stated in anger.

Gourd removal will involve gourd isolation and gourd sinking. To guarantee no gourd-related oily residue atop the Bay, the gourds must be filled with hard water in a precise manner. The hard water must be 25% lead to ensure they remain at the bottom of the Bay. The massive pumpkins blocking the canal will be lifted onto a barge and transported back to the Superior Gourd Transport Facility. It is likely that they will be again shipped to Indiana after gourd processing and cleanup.

Saturday, September 8

Vanishing Vistas Exploding at the Seams

Vanishing Vistas, Duluth's most popular nursing home, is preparing for a major expansion. General Manager Milt Nutong estimates they will be under construction by October. "We've never seen such demand for our services. And when I say services, I mean it - we have a lot of services to offer."

Aside from just offering basic nursing home services such as assistance with daily activities, Vanishing Vistas goes above and beyond to ensure that all its resident's needs are met. Long time resident Juniper Total, 89, emphasizes the benefits of living there, saying "I've been here since I was 45. And it's not just for the massages and regular sun tanning on the roof. I really rely on the day to day environment - from the marching bands that visit every Tuesday to the scientific lectures all the way to the regular male reviews held on Friday and Saturday nights. Oh, I just love those handsome young men!" Ms. Total declined to explain the reason she was in the nursing home, although she did appear to have some sort of nervous tick that caused her to regularly swing her arms like a bird.

The Vistas will expand by 90 beds, bringing the total number of patients at the facility to 250. Nutong estimates that most of the residents at his facility live longer lives, and that is the primary reason the expansion is needed. Nutong also deflects criticism: "I know many people say we're fleecing the system. But we're totally legit. The amount we are spending to provide these elderly patients with nude entertainment is a minimal percentage in comparison to their total cost of care. And there's nowhere that it states that MediCare can't be used to pay for entertainment. Nowhere does it say nudity is forbidden."

Tuesday, September 4

Controversy Strikes NE Regional Little League World Series


Anger and bitterness followed the completion of the Virginia vs. Silver Bay today in Duluth, where Silver Bay routed the Bluegills 17-1. In the unsuprising final, Jose Nunez hit eight home runs, driving in 16 of the Pellets' runs. Rather than the typical post-game handshake, the angry Bluegills attacked the Pellets, bats in hand. The Minnesota National Guard was able to break up the melee after two hours. Three Pellets are in the hospital today, including Nunez.

A major part of the angst arose over the age of Nunez. According to league documents, Nunez is 13 years old, which has been substantiated by his parents through a verifiable birth certificate. The Bluegill coach, Glen Hongisto, believes them. "If they have a birth certificate, I've got to believe them. What choice do I have? It's a legal document. Who cares if it's from Panama, a country known for falsifying birth certificates world-wide to further the likelihood of their talented youth atheletes acheiving success in the United States. I have to trust it. A document is a document."

The Raging Spade thought otherwise. Through illegal means, we have acquired Nunez's dental records. They reveal that there is likely more to him than what meets the eye. Jim Nelson, Duluth's local barber/dentist, has examined the records on behalf of The Raging Spade. Nelson thinks that "without seeing him in person, it is impossible to know. But I would say there is a 40-50% chance that he is at least 23 years old."

What is the benefit of an aged Little Leaguer? It is clear that an ability to hit pitches out of the park would follow with age. Hongisto, hearing the news, was incredulous. "Where did they get that document, if he's so old? He probably isn't that old, because you can't just get a document from anywhere. But if he was, it would pose a problem. He would probably be able to hit a few more home runs than the typical player."

The Raging Spade would like to thank the Duluth-Gary Jail Services Division for granting us access to Glen Hongisto for this interview. As this article goes to the internet, Hongisto remains jailed on charges of child endangerment and engaging in a riot.

Monday, September 3

Improvements Sought at Thompson Hill Rest Stop

At a routine stop over Labor Day weekend, Molly Pulowski left the Thompson Hill rest stop angry. "Why the hell can't they find time to add an additional toilet? And the Information Desk lady - don't get me started. She didn't even have the first idea where I could take my dog for a full-body grooming on a Sunday."

Critics lately have called on the Thompson Hill rest stop for improvements. The rest stop, located at Mile 249 of I-35 in Duluth, is operated by the State of Minnesota in cooperation with local rest stop activist groups. Included in the requested upgrades are new and additional toilets in both the men's and women's rooms, where the number of toilets stands currently at 10.

"I don't know where these tourists are coming from," explained State employee Keith Noble, "they must be from Iowa or something. The Thompson Hill stop has a higher per-visitor toilet number than all the other state rest stops combined. And they're even flush toilets! The rest are generally not."

For her part, Pulowski had additional suggestions. "I don't know where they got this outdated sculpture in the overlook area. It's completely tacky - probably from the 70s. They really need to get some new art. Something up to date, at least. And the view? Why even bother. If you can't see the lift bridge, I don't see the point."

Noble believes, based on state records, that the Thompson Hill rest stop is the only area in the state where such a massive piece of art has been installed. And the view? Off the record, Noble suggested that tourists like Pulowski might as well throw themselves from the rest area. "Bitch," he said.