January 17 through 19, 2008, International Falls, Minnesota, the self-proclaimed "Nation's Icebox," kicks up its heels (as far as you can kick when you are dressed for 50 degrees below zero) for "Icebox Days XXVIII." Strangely, last year they held the event in February and renamed it "Blast on the Border," but this break with tradition must have been more than those Minnesotans could take because now it is back to its original date and name. Bet there was some small town fireworks accompanying all that, but it would take more research than I am willing to put into it (just writing this much has made me turn up the heat and go for a sweater).
An estimated 5,000 hardy attendees will enjoy "smoosh racing, the 'Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Run,' turkey bowling, ski races, mutt races, and a beach party.'" (This courtesy of Chase's Calendar of Events, the Saint Report's most reliable provider of Goatview Farm fodder.)
What's a smoosh race? Darned if I know. I tried to look it up on the internet but the three newspapers who reported on smoosh races did not feel that a description of the sport was necessary for their readers, who probably smoosh all the time and would think an explanation of the activity odd and unnecessary. The Klondike Sun was the most elucidating with the following:
I still could not describe what exactly occurred but I do know, without a doubt, that smoosh racing anywhere is going to have about the same role in my life as spinning and weaving. *
The rest of the events sound pretty unattractive to me, too, and since the population of International Falls (the inspiration for Rocky and Bullwinkle's Frostbite Falls) is about 8,400, it doesn't sound like fun to a lot of the locals, either.
Speaking of the locals, Tom and Ray, the "Car Talk" guys, had an interview with one of them on their website. The emphasis in the interview was on the special needs of automobiles where the temperature drops to 50 below zero. It was amazing, especially the part where the interviewee mentions that a local employer has 700 parking places with outlets for employees to plug in their cars' block heaters. This means that at least 700 individuals in International Falls, Minnesota, can drive and hold a job but STILL live in International Falls, Minnesota.
The strength of geographic roots is mind-boggling.
The Captured & A Visit to a Grave
(2007) One-hundred and thirty-seven years and eleven days after 10-year-old Adolph Korn was stolen away from his work as a sheepherder, I left him an orange with cloves stuck in it, patted his new tombstone and told him that for his sake I hoped I was wrong about the likelihood of an afterlife. If anyone ever deserved all the promises of heaven, it certainly was he; that same heaven would know he had no peace on Earth.
So this morning I took the orange I had prepared, a little dessicated but I didn't think he would mind since it still smelled nice and he is dead, and drove to Gooch Cemetery, certain I would easily find the grave described in Scott Zesch's The Captured as being in an "obscure corner under a mesquite tree" or however he said it. And I did...I drove right to it and parked. I could see the back of a new tombstone, in front of which was the promised plastic poinsettia.
Zesch's book noted that although Adolph's parents were educated and literate, Adolph was put to work (he was herding sheep for a neighbor when he was abducted) rather than given even a little education. It's a long, sad story...read the book, which is fascinating. It is hard not to make some harsh judgments about some of Texas's first European settlers. Hard not to make some about the Native Americans, either; the book is a pretty evenhanded treatment of the times.
Saints celebrating feast days today include Hilary of Poitiers (patron saint of backward children, invoked against snakes and snake bites), Agrecius or Agritius, Yvette, Leontius, Godfrey of Kappenberg, Hildemar, Veronica of Binasco, and Berno.
The best birthday today is that of Richard Moll, the 6'8" bailiff on "Night Court." Born in Pasadena in 1943, Moll is married to Milton Berle's daughter, Susan Brown, a magazine editor.
Looks different with hair, doesn't he? Photo from Sept. 1998.
*I thought the spinning and weaving crack was real funny when I wrote it. Apparently the gods thought this verged on hubris and guess what? I now can weave and it is probably just a matter of time before I learn how to spin (I don't REALLY think that this is true; I'm saying it as a precautionary measure). I'm glad I didn't write "but I do know, without a doubt, that smoosh racing anywhere is going to have about the same role in my life as breast feeding."
And here are smoosh racing photos. The photographer obviously wouldn't appreciate my taking them off his site, since they are for sale, but you can look for free: smoosh racing photos.