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A small group of local residents showed up to cheer a group of politicians who toured the Stillwater, Minn. lift bridge Friday afternoon, March 18. "Build the bridge," they chanted over and over. Democratic Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and Minnesota U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Sixth District) headed straight for the group when the tour was done, shaking hands and thanking them for their encouragement. Dayton and Bachmann joined Minnesota and Wisconsin state legislators, Stillwater officials and other elected officials from both sides of the St. Croix River for the gathering.
Here's a trio of culinary treats for your consideration. On the regional front there's "The Bizarre Truth" (Random House, $24.99), by Andrew Zimmern, a Twin Cities chef and TV personality. If you have a strong stomach, you've probably watched this bald guy who runs around the world for the Travel Channel, eating weird foods while being photographed for his TV show "Bizarre Foods." Every time I watch the show or read a chapter from his new book, I'm reminded of a colleague who tells the story of growing up in Milwaukee. One morning Seymour, his uncle, shows up at the house.
I think I've just received the ultimate in John Reading. "The Whole Death Catalog: A Lively Guide to the Bitter End" (Ballantine Books, $18), by humorist/scholar, Harold Sheckter is a delight to dip into during daily ablutions. Sheckter has researched the subject of death from the earliest days (we died back then too) to the present. He shovels out lots of detail on subjects like wills, the hospice experience (titled going out with comfort and style) and the embalmers art. One delightful chapter deals with what famous people said just before they passed on. P.T.
It's fashionable these days to write "sequels" to literary characters whose original authors are long dead. One example is St. Paul author Larry Millett, who has brought Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes to Minnesota to solve the mystery of the Hinckley fire, to help railroad magnate James J. Hill crack a murder case in St. Paul. Another example is Californian Laurie King, who also writes about Holmes and his wife (!) Mary Russell. Her latest is "The Language of Bees" (Bantam, $25) which is told in a most humorous way by Holmes's bride.
The initial 2009 Apple River Country Splash line up was announced in November, but now more acts have been added. Apple River Country Splash has announced that Travis Tritt and Darius Rucker were added to the line-up, which includes Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan, Jason Michael Carroll, Little Big Town and Shedaisy. Travis Tritt is a country music superstar. His name evokes a deep sense of history and place in country music.
A new book sheds new light on a well-known historical educator. "Up from History: The Life of Booker T. Washington," by Robert J. Norell (Harvard University Press, $35) is a fine new look at a historical figure who has suffered a bad rap for too long. Booker T. Washington has taken some hard knocks from the rest of black community in the past century. Never mind that he almost single-handedly built a black college, Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, bigger than any other college in the state.
There's a little something for everyone this week. It's stocking-stuffer time on the prairie and local publishers are stepping up to the presses with a slew of fun books for teenagers of all ages. Remember the movie "Slap Shot," starring Paul Newman?
The St. Croix Valley Community Foundation announced Sept. 2 that $30,000 in grants will be available to enhance music education in the region's public and private schools. Each year the Foundation awards grants to enhance the music education experience for K-12 students in the St. Croix Valley -- Washington and Chisago counties in Minnesota and Pierce, Polk and St.
I keep getting bombarded with books that bring back memories of growing up in a small Wisconsin town. Last week it was Larry Tobin's novel about small town journalism. This week it's "In a Pickle: A Family Farm Story," by Jerry Apps (Terrace Books, $16.95). I've reviewed several of books by Apps, a former University of Wisconsin professor, who grew up in Central Wisconsin on a hardscrabble farm. Apps has written more than 20 books, most of them non-fiction about life in Wisconsin.
Shirley M. Hudson, age 81, of New Richmond, and a longtime resident of Cottage Grove, Minn., died on Saturday, July 12, 2008 at her home. A private service will be held at a later date and interment will be in the Fort Snelling National Cemetery. Arrangements are with Beebe Mortuary of New Richmond.