Friday, July 28, 2006

Quick, we need a catchy name for the new generation

Somebody owes somebody some serious coin. Like Rod Tidwell level quan.

The Trib had a story late this week about the second 9/11 movie to hit theaters this summer - more than that they focused on the tact needed to promote the film and a pretty smart marketing move to focus on teenagers, for whom this was a defining moment of their generation.

Pretty great idea from an industry that can be bowel-looseningly stupid most of the time, no? So where did this strategy come from? A bright new studio exec? A marketing agency with its finger on the pulse of America's youth?

Of course not. It came from a kid who saw a test screening in Minneapolis (yay, Minneapolis!).

In fact, Josh Greenstein (Paramount's senior vice president of creative advertising) got the idea for the youth-focused TV spot that very night, when a male college student noted, 'It's like your grandparents knowing where they were when they heard Pearl Harbor got bombed or your parents hearing of JFK's assassination. For my age group, this event is for us.'

Somebody get that kid a check, a job, an internship... something, right? A t-shirt? Anything?

I never got around full circle on 9/11. It was a big news story at a time when I was reporting the news and so a lot of the things people went through, I never got my teeth sunk into. Everything was pushed to arm's length and usually when I have strong feelings one way or another, it revolves around the government response and ramifications of those actions.

Reading this story, I was reminded of stories we ran following the first week when I asked around with teachers I knew to see what the schools were doing to support the students, etc.

It was Frank the Tank's wife who pointed out that these kids were in school for the first Persian Gulf War and for Columbine - there was little they weren't set to deal with after those experiences.

It'll be interesting to see how this movie is received after the last one fell so flatly. The article touches on the core differences between the two movies with this one built for a bit more inspiration than the other.

Still there is a bit of a too much, too soon vibe from all of this for my tastes. Can you imagine the uproar of a Pearl Harbor Movie on the five-year anniversary of the attacks? How about a JFK movie a few years after that event?

I don't care how uplifting the script is - it still seems a little off to me.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Explosives are the new water

OK, so from what I've been told (and checking severa; local papers around the country every day) most people outside of the Twin Cities have no idea this is going on. When I called my dad the other day, he seemed kind of surprised, too and Lord knows he's big on watching the news before bed.

Such a grown up kind of thing to do.

Anyways - and I'm not sure how alarmed I should be by this - the Boundary Waters are on fire. Well, not the actual waters part of it, but the tree upon tree upon bear upon tree part of it. Also, Canada is crossing its fingers that the whole thing doesn't become their problem soon.

And we're having a drought.

And there's a lot of other issues involved.

So, what better way to clean up this type of fiery mess than to blow the ever-loving hell out of it.

Oh yeah, this is the kind of great idea I'd have had in college. Have I mentioned that I drank enough to sink a battleship in college? And had tons of bad ideas. Honestly, I once said the words, "Easy... I'm sure I'll sober up for the final..."

Like I said, I'm not sure how serious this is - there's a better than even chance that this comes and quickly blows every year like bird migrations and Bears playoff hopes. Still, something seems inherently flawed in the logic behind creating fire breaks using 1/2 inch explosive cord to clear brush.

Like buying shellfish from a gas station flawed.

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Making the world a more offensive place

I just have visions of conversations like these going on near The Chronic's minivan as soccer practice drones on in the background with terrified mothers and fathers slowly backing up and walking away.

Hmmm... so let's see. What to blog about?...

Well - there's the fact that nobody gave a shit about the Tour De France this year because Lance Armstrong didn't participate, that is until another American won. But wait - he failed his drug test with abnormally high levels of testosterone! It really takes balls to pull a stunt like that! Just ask Lance Armstrong...

Or there's Lance Bass dropping the mother fucking bomb of the century on us the other day by stating he's dating that guy from The Amazing Race! That's right 17- to 22-year-old girls - you will never get the chance to do the hippity dippity with Lance Bass. And I'll tell you something else - Justin's gay too. Just give him time.

But I think I'll choose the story about the Missouri woman who was forced to swallow. Yeah - definitely the story about her!

Browsing the San Francisco Gate the other day - I saw a troubling story about a couple in their 20's from Missouri whose domestic dispute has brought to light a very sensitive topic in our society.

The two had an argument about her allegedly fooling around with other guys - and the boyfriend, (whose name is great - Marlon Brando Gill), forced his girlfriend, Melinda Abell, to swallow her cell phone.


Now I know what all you women are thinking... "How could this asshole force his girlfriend to swallow? Shouldn't it be up to us whether we choose to swallow or not?"

And hey! I am totally behind you on that - ask anyone who knows me - they'll tell you I'm pro choice. It's not like we're living in the 50's anymore where women feel obligated to swallow nearly every night! But there's one problem. In today's social hierarchy - men are still the leaders of business, leaders of the home, and unfortunately for you - leaders of legislature. And guess what? Those power hungry men freely abuse their authority by forcing there kept women to swallow any damn time they want! Repeated efforts have been made to pass "No Forced Swallow" legislation - but to no avail. There may be hope however!

I feel that in this age of legalized gay marriage and socially accepted female voting, Melinda Abell has the perfect opportunity to grab up the banner of women's rights and lead the battle against Forced Swallowing. If she is willing to just get off her ass, or knees, on this issue and stand up for herself, she will be saving the rights of millions of women across this great land. I, for one, am ready to abide in a "No Forced Swallow" society and wholly support this fight. What the hell - I propose we get one of those little colored ribbons or rubber bracelets to symbolize your fight for this cause.

I'd even be proud to slap a bumper sticker on the MV that says "Get off your knees and shut your mouth!!!"

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

In other "news" the sun rose and then later set

Lance Bass is gay?


This Lance Bass?

No way! I guess the shocking thing is that he came out in public. I mean, we're a pretty progressive society, despite the Republicans' best efforts, but what kind of impact will this have on his career?

Oh, wait... That explains it.

(Side note: There are only two Google options for Lance's pictures today - a.) Astronaut and b.) The same picture you've seen all day long. Also, every picture comes from a story/blog post entitled, "Lance is gay!!!")

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Shut up, Sammy...

After Sammy Sosa seemingly fell off the face of the earth a year ago - at this point is anyone buying foot injuries from Sosa in the middle of a steroid witch hunt? - he's back again.

And bitching.

Oh, Sammy, we've missed you.

He's upset because someone stole his blankie... wait, no - he got left off the Hometown Hero list from MLB. As Chicagoist hit on the other day, the lists look pretty solid, with some questions on the White Sox finalists.

For the record, five people outside of the Sosa family saw the list and asked where Sammy was. One was Ronnie Woo in between incessant woo-wooing.

Two quick side notes:

* I loved a story a few months ago where some reporter tried to track down Sosa and got as far as the new folks in his old condo who still get his mail. Other than that, he'd disappeared without a trace.

* Sosa telling the steroid probe committee that he didn't speak too much English through his attorney. This isn't given enough credit for being the defining moment of the Sammy Sosa experience. Sure, it was pretty typical that he bugged out after his last game as a Cub, decided to lie about it and was sold out by Cubs security, but Smilin' Sammy clamming up and taking the "Yo no hablo English, much..." defense was pretty outstanding.

Sosa's English has improved by leaps and bounds in a few short months, speaking to the Chicago Tribune and crying about not making the final cut.

"The city of Chicago knows about baseball; I am not a bad player—no way, Jose," Sosa said with a laugh. "With all the respect for Mr. Cub, my numbers can compete with everybody. When I heard that I was not on the list, I said, 'Oh, my God.' I was shocked and surprised. The five best players? You have to calculate my numbers."

It was a hell of a ride, but to put Sosa as the top Cub of all time is a stretch.

According to the release:

Major League Baseball (MLB) and DHL, the "Official Express Delivery and Logistics Provider" of Major League Baseball and, today unveiled the five nominees for each of the 30 MLB Clubs for the "DHL Presents Major League Baseball Hometown Heroes" program. This multi-faceted program was created to recognize those players who most embody the legacy of Major League Baseball and each respective franchise's history.

Sosa wants us to remember the good times, the home run chase, the home run chase and the home run chase. The Cubs legacy boiling down to corked bats, checking out early and steroid suspicions? Well, actually that checking out early bit might have merit, but it's not really the Cubbie way to compete for an entire season. Drug-fueled or not.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

It doesn't exist... unless you have some cash on you

West Virginia tourism, get ready for your closeup. Start building hotels, restaurants, gas stations and full plumbing systems. The John Kruk Museum is getting some company. OK, not really, but every little bit helps. Might want to look into that plumbing thing, though.

For nearly 50 years, beginning with the Eisenhower administration, a secret bunker has existed under a resort in West Virginia that was designed to house Congress after enraged citizens violently overthrew the government over the price of gasoline and an apparent conflict of interest between... no, wait... to house Congress in case of a nuclear attack by the Ruskies.

Cold War tensions meant having a 112,000 square foot bunker to house Congress just in case all hell broke loose. Not that the elimination of that threat made a damn bit of difference.

According to, it took an article in The Washington Post to convince the government to pull the plug on the project. I have even money that says a new one was immediately under construction after the cover was blown. I also have two to one that George W. tried to repurpose this bitch to play spy games with the other kids in the neighborhood once he found out it existed.

In addition to the usual thick walls and bunk beds, there was also a television studio with spring and fall backdrops (because everyone knows the Russians would never bomb in the summer or winter, right?). Also according to CNN - For 30 years, though, staff working undercover as television repairmen kept the bunker constantly ready to support 1,100 people, with everything from food to books, magazines and board games.

Dude, that is some shitty, shitty cable service... What else would you expect from trying to run a signal underground?

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This space for rent

I was checking in with Frank the Tank and Tony today just to see if anythings was new at their blogs and was saddened by the gaping hole that Disconnected in Suburbia has left in my blog as well as my heart.

I'm having a hard time settling on who to slot in on the Permalink column.

Sure, there are plenty of good sports blogs or just plain fun writing to choose from, but none that I really visit religiously. It's usually Tyler Durden, then Deadspin, then onto the evening's festivities.

Any suggestions campers?

Monday, July 24, 2006

The case for late blooming

I like reading Wired. Have I mentioned that enough? Seriously, the world would be a better place if more people read Wired. And not by a little, we're talking significant social and environmental changes.

Also, people who would drive IT departments worldwide into a constant state of annoyance and panic. I'm looking out for the well-being of my friends and their families.

The only small hitch is that they are pretty saavy about how they release their online content. A story every few days is all you get, but it's totally worth it. Case in point is this beauty on creativity.

My newest intellectual homeboy is David Galenson, a University of Chicago professor who had a whole lot of words dedicated to him this article to say this: Some people have a world-changing concept and make an immediate, powerful impact on their scene, be it art, economics or literature, while others try and fail repeatedly, eventually finding their stride.

“Conceptual innovators,” as Galenson calls them, make bold, dramatic leaps in their disciplines. They do their breakthrough work when they are young. Think Edvard Munch, Herman Melville, and Orson Welles. They make the rest of us feel like also-rans. Then there’s a second character type, someone who’s just as significant but trudging by comparison. Galenson calls this group “experimental innovators.” Geniuses like Auguste Rodin, Mark Twain, and Alfred Hitchcock proceed by a lifetime of trial and error and thus do their important work much later in their careers. Galenson maintains that this duality – conceptualists are from Mars, experimentalists are from Venus – is the core of the creative process. And it applies to virtually every field of intellectual endeavor, from painters and poets to economists.

This means we've all been given enough time to do something worthwhile in the eyes of the general public and even if we overshoot the landing, we'll be long dead.

Arise, slacker masses! No longer do we lack talent, ambition or the means to make a jarring impact on our chosen field and the world around us - we are simply experimentalists, never satisfied with our work and never setlling for our latest plan or idea.

Take that, Doogie Howser - You can kiss my worthless, aging ass.

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Give an infinite number of alligators an infinite number of scales...

There's an old Cheech and Chong bit where they have the following exchange after talking about how Chong did enough drugs to kill a small- to medium-sized horse:

"And then what happened?"

"I saw God, man..."

"You... saw... God..."

That's the general feel I get about this story I saw in the Star-Tribune today. Hell, even the paper says as much:

Michael Wilk was tossing back a few beers with friends in Salem, Wis., when he saw God on the side of his 4-foot-long pet alligator.

Wilk noticed white markings pop out against a backdrop of black scales to form the letters G-O-D.

"When I first saw it, my jaw dropped," said Wilk, 25. "It's just sort of like a phenomenon on it."

It's just sort of like a phenomenon... Wow, just, wow. Of the hundreds of places God appears - tortillas, pizza coupons, fridge rot the list goes on and on - this is a new one.

Oh ye of little faith, didn't you read the last few paragraphs?

Harry Dutton, an alligator biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said the markings appear to be legitimate and not done with a marker or by scratching the hide.

I have two questions. First, what's the gator's name and second, what could the eternal Lord and savior possibly be trying to tell us by slapping his name, graffiti style on the side of a Wisconsin alligator?

One message comes to mind - When Wisconsin residents are contractors/gator farmers in waiting, we've officially peaked as a civilization. We can do no better than this.

Also, lay off the hard shit next time, Mikey. Stick to beer.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Pricey ways to stay out of trouble

I never set out to be like this.

By "like this" I mean budding car guy. With a constant layer of filth under my fingernails, a growing level of recognition at car parts stores and an unending thirst to do something to my truck whether it needs a repair or not. It's starting to get out of hand.

Case in point is my outright lust for the car pictured at right - an old Chevy Bel Air. While it looks phenomenal in the picture, keep in mind that a restored Bel Air will run you no less than $45,000 on average.

That usually includes rebuilt parts and a new engine along with a good paint job and massive interior work. Don't even get me started on body work.

To get it to the point that you can drive it without shame takes months -if not years - of continuous work and deep, deep pockets.

Most look like this beauty at left which sold for a shade under $7,000 a little while ago. It has no engine, no mention of a transmission and hasn't run since Nixon was in office. If it wasn't clear, it's the same car as the one above.

Seven thousand dollars for what amounts to a wheelbarrow with tail fins (but no rust!)

This is the problem as you're trying to find a first "project car" as they're known - anything you love you're two lifetimes from affording and anything you can afford is home to rats in a cornfield or has something fundamentally wrong with it. The double-edged sword for newcomers is that too difficult a car will do nothing but drive you away from working on cars altogether and the 75-80 percent complete cars that are suggested for starting out are pricey at times.

More than that, you'll usually buy a car for no less than $5,000 and then drop in another $10,000 in parts and thousnds more in labor and can only hope for a few grand above and beyond that $5K if you sell it later. As it has been pointed out before if you aren't a Coddington or Foose, no one wants to buy your shitty hot rod.


As I cruise eBay and other sites looking for that perfect heap that I can lovingly bring back to life, I can't help but shake my head when you're trying to sell an auto and voluntarily include pictures like this '54 Pontiac.

If you're trying to sell a car and let people know it's at least in serviceable shape, why, oh why, would you show it lost in the woods like this?

It's one thing if it's a Jeep, ruggedly plowing through the underbrush, but a 50-year-old Pontiac? Come on...

Still, there's something to be said for taking a few thousand dollars, hours of work and a bucket of spare parts and making something that runs well and looks sharp. I work on the truck to save money (a new intake, swaybar repair and a brake job I've done this summer alone have saved at least $500 in labor and we still have August to go) but I'm sure I'd work on a project for the pride and challenge.

I'm sure I'll wax poetic in the next few weeks as my sickness worsens, but there is something about a good, old car. Let's face it, there's a reason more people clamor for an old Mustang than a similar vintage of toaster.

Plus, there's something to be said for being able to completely dismantle a machine and not have to drive it to work again on Monday.

The beginning of a beautiful blogging friendship

Cry no more, MySpace devotees, Chronically Insane has returned to torment the neighbors from underneath the loving wings of Siberia, Minnesota. As he'd promised before his blog was burned to the ground by angry villagers, he'll be poking his demented head in here when he gets a moment and more importantly, a bug up his ass about something.

So, enjoy. We're glad to have him.

Minneapolis Red Sox landed a direct hit in The Dark Side with his comparison of the wee ones to those of the canine species. Mine in particular...

Allow me to expand a bit on the topic.

My wife and I are the proud owners of a girl human and a boy human, and only recently had to surrender our 11 year old Golden Retriever (I'm happy to say she is alive and doing well in another home with lots of land to explore) however - for a few years we experienced, first hand, the shocking similarities among dogs and small humans.

For instance - you may be surprised to find out which one - dog or girl - was found scooting their ass across the brand new family room carpet trying to get rid of a pesky shit cling-on...

"Dog Bed" did not necessarily mean place for dog to sleep, and "Girl Bed" did not always mean place where girl sleeps. At any given time one could be found sleeping on the other - which I'll grant you can be precious - until your toddler starts scratching behind her ears constantly... with her feet.

Dog farts and kid farts. Eerily similar.

My dog could sit at my feet and lick my hand for an hour. It's weird - I know - but my 3 month old son seems inclined to do the same.

It is nearly impossible to keep either from rummaging through your kitchen garbage.

Lastly, both benefit from being contained in a fenced-in yard. You know - for their safety and all that stuff... Word to the wise though - neither enjoy being tethered to a tie-out in the backyard.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Dark Side

Maybe it's the heat wave. Maybe it's the humidity. Maybe it's just a lack of sleep, but heading to the Dome yesterday for the evening's game, The Girl was in a mood.

She was cursing someone out for something that I'd usually curse someone out for - namely being in the way or just lost in life in general - and I called her out on it.

She laughed and said she wasn't quite sure why she was bitching and I told her that she's starting to see the world as I do - full of morons and jerks. She was suddenly very serious and told me she'd never see the world that way.

It was a very Darth Vader moment for me. I wanted to tell her to channel that anger, but figured I was pushing it at that point.

So after putting up with a new round of chuckleheads behind us as part of the Make a Wish You Knuckleheaded Jackass Foundation's ongoing efforts to ruin my evenings, we're heading out and there are literally hundreds of children running free throughout the outer ring of the Dome.

Just kids everywhere, clogging the concourse as we're trying to head out. The Girl gave me a dirty stare when I helpfully suggested leashes for every one of those little booger eaters. I was apparently wrong again for suggesting a muzzle or two to go with that.

This led to the back to the car discussion being about whether four year olds were more or less advanced than dogs. The funny thing is that people get into trouble treating their dogs like fuzzy little people. I'm here to advance the theory that children are hairless little upright dogs.

Fact: You wouldn't leave either of them alone for very long in your home unattended.

Fact: Neither can truly "feed" themselves. Sure, if they get into the Kibble/Cheerios bags, they can eat, but are pretty helpless to feed themselves in a big picture sense.

Fact: They can both be real nuisances when left to roam free in public.

Fact: They have no concept of space and are a danger to your knees and associated ligaments.

Fact: Always cute when they're young or yours, not so much after a few years in most cases.

Fact: They can communicate... to a point.

Fact: There should be leash and curb laws for both.

finally, while I'm not saying that kids are exactly like dogs I'm saying that under the age of four, there are more similarities than differences. I'm calling The Chronic of Disconnected in Suburbia fame tonight. I'm betting with two little ones and a dog that he'll have my back on this.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The kicker is it will probably work, too

I grew up with watering restrictions that drove my next door neighbor, Dan, crazy.

He might not have had a true green thumb (most of the veggies and such that he grew were essentially weeds that take off with dirt and water) he took a lot of pride in what he did. I can respect that. Much love, one people, etc.

His grass was always the greenest on the block and a combination of weed and feed and gallon upon gallon of water kept it that way. He must have spent hundreds of extra dollars a summer to keep it that green through mid-July when the inevitable water ban drove him to distraction.

He'd be at wit's end by August and if there had been a way to buy water contracts like sugar rations in 1945, he'd have bought hundreds to water every day instead of every other.

What Chicago and the suburbs usually do is to offer even and odd or opposite side of the street schedules so that only half the residents who would be watering the lawn do so daily. Pretty smart plan from a village perspective.

Up here, not so much.

While I water off and on, it's been really dry lately and I've been putting the sprinkler out at night. Today when I saw in the Star Tribune that watering bans were going into effect, I clicked the link, opting to not start another war with city services after the recycling incident.

This is what I found:

The continuing heat has some Minnesota communities imposing water restrictions. In Waconia, all outdoor watering has been temporarily banned. Litchfield is asking residents to voluntarily reduce lawn watering because the city's water supply needs to be conserved in case of a fire or other emergency.

So I don't have to listen to you at all, you're just asking me voluntarily to not waste water? Heh... Reminds me of the time Homer went to the museum.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Career paths

The whole audio-visual industry has been beating the hell out of me lately. I'm not saying I'm tendering my resignation tomorrow, but I'm looking.

World-famous blogger seems to be falling short - and I blame you lazy punks for not working for free as my street team / pyramid scheme drones to propel me to my rightful place, watching television and blogging in my underpants when I wake up at noon-thirty - but I think I've found two suitable career moves in one handy little package.

Kobyashi was featured on True Life: I'm a Competitive Eater a little while ago and this YouTube gem captures its essence (though I'm disappointed Eater X doesn't have several clips available).

While this Japanese dynamo is unbeatable - Seriously, have you seen him eat? It's like feeding time at the zoo, only if the zoo was in Sally Struthers' backyard - I think I'd like to take a run as a dickhead chef in Japan.

I'd spike ice cream with chili powder and generally make Tyler Durden's kitchen etiquette look damn near sophisticated.

Secondly, I'd love to be the voice over guy for stuff like this. Not to actually learn the languages involved or anything, but just read off the script and try to keep that nice, mellow level while delivering pure gold like, "Oh, my! That's hot..." and such.

Maybe I can do voice over translation work for people who need it like Tim McCarver where I'd have ultimate creative control. I imagine it'd basically be three hours of me saying, "That's stupid. Fuck that, I'm not repeating that. Fly ball, easy out. No way. I need a bathroom break and a fresh lemonade here waiting when I get back."

One last go round

Mr. Lucetti was more than right, that rat bastard.

My health teacher freshman year of high school hit the nail on the head and I couldn't be more chagrined.

(Side note: this was the same health class that had a small project entitled "The last day on earth" where we had to make a representation of all the things we would do, given just one more day before we died. The world famous Frank the Tank left the bottom quarter of his poster blank, except for a pizza and a large black square. He explained (to the entire class mind you) that he'd want to knock boots and after that, he'd be pretty hungry, hence the pizza. It may or may not be the first time that I sat back and thought, "I need to be friends with that guy..."

It is also worth noting that my presentation involved taking a tank through a gas station and throwing the San Diego Chicken a beating so severe that his offspring would have black eyes for generations.

Neither of us were reprimanded in any way, shape or form... It was 1993, it was a different time, people.)

Regardless, Mr. Lu told all the guys that we would be living our lives, devouring whole sides of beef with sour cream and bacon until we hit college and at some point our metabolism would stall out like a rusty Buick in rush hour traffic.

We'd never see it coming and we'd get big old guy bellies and no longer be the prize specimens we were at that point. Damn if he wasn't right.

I'm prepping for my big crisis at 30 (now less than 2 years away) by trying new, more healthful lifestyle choices. The bike is gathering dust as I can't commute on it any longer, but every now and again I'll grab a diet soda or, you know, not eat like I have two assholes.

While Coke Zero has a taste I've described as less than appealing - The Girl: Oh, how is that? I've been meaning to try it! Me: It tastes like chalky semen. - Diet Coke will work in a pinch some days.

The plan is to work up to being a somewhat normal human being by the time I roll over three decades on the odometer. However, if I were to die shortly after that, I'd have a major bone to pick with whomever is waiting on the other side.

Even Frankie got a last pizza.

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Up North

Expect plenty of stories and possible pictures from our trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

The was The Girl's first trip up there and my first time back in five or six years so it was a bit of an eye-opener at times. When your opinions and memories of places up there are colored as a four-year-old (my grandfather lived there in the same house for his entire life) you see things a lot differently than they are.

In that vein, the U.P. took a solid beating during Saturday's drive up where we took the unofficial motto - "Welcome to the U.P. Don't forget to set your clock back 25 years" - and pushed the envelope a bit.

Winners included:

"Towns named 'Iron,' 'Falls,' 'River' or 'Mountain' or your next map is free."
"I have no idea why it's not just part of Wisconsin, Honey..."
"The U.P. - It might be boring, but you can drive 85 through it."