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Doug's Diggings: Two weekends - two extreme differences in entertainment

I’ve never been much of a “cabin guy.” I know many people who live for the weekend to go up to northern Wisconsin and spend the weekend at a cabin on a lake. Last weekend I got a taste of what is good about that “northern lake cabin.”

I’ve always pictured a cabin owner as some poor couple who would drive several hours Friday night to get to a cabin. Then they would spend the day Saturday cutting the grass, fixing the sink/bathroom/roof, cleaning the cabin and get done just in time for supper and fall asleep watching TV. They take a boat ride and fish Sunday morning, eat lunch and begin the process of locking up the cabin and driving home!

Last weekend my wife and I, along with another couple, visited relatives at their cabin near Grand Rapids and Coleraine, Minn. Of course, I use the term cabin loosely — this was a house with four bedrooms, three baths, along with the living room, kitchen, family room, screen porch and more!

To make a long story short, we had a good time relaxing and enjoying the Grand Rapids area. The house was on Trout Lake (which, interestingly enough, does not have any trout). It’s a beautiful lake of about 1,900 acres with the deepest point at about 135 feet. The relatives have a nice pontoon boat which we took out a couple of times and enjoyed the scenery. Both times we were on the boat, it was later afternoon or evening and it was beautiful indeed.

The weather was a bit on the cool side, so we probably dressed a little warmer than normal for an August weekend, but it was refreshing indeed. It was cool enough in the evenings that we had to shut our bedroom windows. The home does not have air conditioning, so we were worried about getting too hot but that was not a problem.

One evening we built a fire in a fire pit near the lake and sat out under the stars and enjoyed the fire and good conversation — nobody had their iPads or cell phones. During the day we also went on a couple of walks near the lake.

When it was time to pack the car for the trip home, I had a new appreciation of spending a couple of days at a northern lake cabin. There is something refreshing about the experience.

On the other side of the coin, I attended a “Weird Al” Yankovic concert the weekend before. I’m not necessarily a “Weird Al” fan, but my youngest adult son Darrin has always been an admirer of the singer. Darrin helped me with a lot of projects at my house this summer and so I bought a couple of tickets for the show.

His wife wasn’t interested in attending, so I went to Darrin’s house in Eden Prairie Saturday, Aug. 3, and helped him with a project that day. The concert was at the Mystic Lake Casino, so we had our evening meal at his house and headed to Mystic Lake.

The theater at Mystic is very nice and the show was very good. I really enjoyed myself.

Alfred Matthew “Weird Al” Yankovic was born Oct. 23, 1959, and is most famous for his songs that make light of popular culture and often parody songs by various contemporary musicians. He has also written many of his own songs.

He gained some musical fame in the early 1980s. On Sept. 14, 1980, Yankovic was a guest on the Dr. Demento Show, where he was to record a new parody live. The song was called “Another One Rides the Bus,” a parody of Queen’s hit, “Another One Bites the Dust.” He really rose to the top in 1984 with his big hit “Eat It,” a parody of the Michael Jackson song “Beat It.” That song peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 on April 14, 1984. More than 20 years later, he went even higher on the charts with “White & Nerdy” which hit number 9 on the charts in October 2006. Over his 30-year career he has released numerous songs, appeared in numerous movies and has done many other things in the entertainment world.

Al was born in Downey, Calif., and raised in the town of Lynwood. In 1998, Yankovic had lasik eye surgery to correct his extreme myopia. One interesting, and sad, note involved Minnesota. On April 9, 2004, Yankovic’s parents were found dead in their Fallbrook, Calif., home, apparently the victims of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning from their fireplace that had been recently lit. The flue was closed, which trapped the carbon monoxide gas inside the house, suffocating them. Several hours after his wife notified him of his parents’ death, Yankovic went on with his concert in Mankato, Minn., saying that “since my music had helped many of my fans through tough times, maybe it would work for me as well” and that it would “at least ... give me a break from sobbing all the time.”

Another Minnesota connection, he wrote the song “The Biggest Ball Of Twine In Minnesota,” released in 1989. The attraction is located in Darwin, Minn.

So there is the tale of two weekends with drastic differences in entertainment — a “Weird Al” Yankovic concert and, a week later, a relaxing weekend at a cabin in northern Minnesota!

Doug Stohlberg

Doug Stohlberg has been part of the Hudson Star-Observer since 1973 and has been editor since 1987. He worked at the New Richmond News from 1971 to 1973. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota.

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