Thursday, December 29, 2011

** NPR has a story about the films and books that got a helluva lot of attention in 2011.

** Wow, this guy really doesn't like LeBron James. Here he talks about his book The Whore of Akron. Be warned - some naughty words.

** Writers for City Pages in the Twin Cities offer their top music picks from 2011. These guys are too cool for a nerdy blog like this, but I try to rock the place once in a while.

Monday, December 26, 2011

If old books could talk

I struggled this week to get through a Jonathan Kellerman novel, Evidence, that I picked up cheap at the Border's GOOB sale a couple months ago. I usually like Kellerman, but this one was a slogfest.

So to cleanse the palate I went back to someone who never disappoints, Mark Twain. I pulled out an old 1902 copy of A Double Barrelled Detective Story picked up years back at a used book store.

It was especially timely, even given its copyright date, because it features Sherlock Holmes, who is all the rage in the movie theaters now.

I love Twain's story, but I also love the exquisite layout they used in old books. And as an added bonus, about halfway through the book, I turned the page and some old newspaper clippings from 1944 fell out. They were about World War II.

The inside cover has the signature of Olga Schroesser, who apparently owned the book at one time. The book's spine is gone, though the pages are still held together and the cover and back cover are in good condition. It's interesting to me to think not only of the story inside the book, but the story of the book. I bet it's a good one too.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas time all the time on TV

It seems there are so many Christmas shows on television now that I end up hardly watching any of them.

I'm not being a Grinch. I'm glad there are a lot of holiday shows, compared to the usual crap on TV. But do we really need "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause"?

"A Boyfriend for Christmas"??

"Battle of the Bulbs"???

"Hercules Saves Christmas"????

"Three Wise Women"????? Wow, it's like the Hallmark Channel is just setting ol' Haugen up to write something that would get him in trouble.

I counted on a television schedule, and starting Dec. 1 there were about 20 Christmas shows per day for the first three weeks of December, with about three days of 50 shows. That was just the warm-up for the big day, Christmas Eve. I might be off by one or two, but by my count there are 103 shows that day. But they counted "The Bishop's Wife" as a Christmas show. Really? I've never seen it, and probably never will, but, really?

Back when I was a kid, there was Charlie Brown, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and maybe some Grinch show. That was it. And they weren't played on an endless loop on the Hallmark Channel because WE ONLY HAD THREE CHANNELS. Oh well, whatcha gonna do?

I will watch four Christmas shows now. The old faithful ...

"Christmas Vacation" - Nobody does Christmas like the Griswolds. Clark: "Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?"

"Elf" - Will Ferrell is just one of the funniest guys out there. "This place reminds me of Santa's Workshop! Except it smells like mushrooms and everyone looks like they want to hurt me."

"A Christmas Story" - So many great lines, but one of Santa's most memorable: "You'll shoot your eye out, kid."

Finally, my favorite Christmas movie (which they didn't even include on the Christmas show list): "Die Hard." Some people don't think of that as a Christmas show, but that's because some people don't think.

You can't beat ol' Hans Gruber, reading what McClane wrote on the dead terrorist's shirt: "Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho."

Or Argyle: "If this is their idea of Christmas, I gotta be here for New Year's."

Or me: If loving "Die Hard" on Christmas is wrong, I don't want to be right.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Haugen Christmas Letter ...

Family, Friends, Fans & Freaks,

Merry Christmas! We didn't mail Christmas cards again this year because I wasn't sure if the Postal Service would still be in business. Better safe than sorry. What I am sorry for is the previous 23 Christmases when we didn't send cards either. Ironically, we thus contributed to the demise of the Postal Service. You're welcome, FedEx!

I thought I'd give you the run-down on our fam just in case you don't have access to the internet and missed out on the headlines.

Wifey is doing well. We celebrated our 23rd(I think) anniversary this year. She's still whispering to ghosts and snoring real loudly. But I don't say much (if you count not saying much posting it on the internet). I've learned something these past few years. Best marital advice (and advice for raising daughters) comes from my son who says: "Just smile and wave, Dad. Smile and wave."

You probably saw our son Timmy - everywhere! Ol' #15. He finally got his big shot with the Broncos after they started the season 1-4. I've always told him that nobody likes a hot shot, like Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady. Anybody can win games if they do their best from start to finish; the really good ones just give it their all in the final two minutes. Let the other team get overconfident, then crush their dreams. Speaking of crushed, how about those atheists? They seem really unhappy with Timmy for some reason. He's not too worried about them though, considering he's preoccupied with practically carrying the future of Christianity on his shoulder pads. They say there are no atheists in fox holes; well, there's none left in Colorado either.

Our daughters really kept us hopping this past year too. Kim announced her engagement on her reality show on television. Then we dumped a few million on her wedding and it lasted slightly longer than a Twins game. Heck, I've had hangovers that lasted longer. Critics say it was a meticulously planned publicity stunt, but between you and me, she ain't that smart.

As tough as Kim's year was, Lindsay's was even worse. As you know, she's been back on the nose candy, the gutter glitter, the wacky dust, the California corn flakes. And she got caught. She did a little rehab, but not enough to make the mean ol' judge happy. So she did some community service at the morgue. It was good for her, though she did have to pull out of her next big movie, Deep Throat, because of all this hullabaloo. Fear not, though, Hef came through and signed her up to be covergirl for Playboy. We're so proud. Whoda thought, our little girl from Parent Trap would go on to such success.

And some of the extended family had a little rough go of it too.

There's ol' Uncle Mo and his goofy hats. Mohammar's always been the rambunctious one, but this year really took the cake! Nothing like a little revolution to keep the ol' blood flowing. Again, the Colonel caused us more than a few gray hairs. How? Well, you try planning a funeral for that guy! He's dead. No, wait, he's been spotted in the desert. He's dead. No, he's back in Tripoli. I don't know how many ham salad sandwiches we ended up giving away to the Mission, but it was a lot. Finally, I said, "I'm not cooking another ham until I see his bloody corpse." When I finally did, those silly rebels said they buried his body in the middle of the dessert! Go figure. So now we've got an extra burial plot if someone wants one cheap.

Otherwise we've had a pretty good year:
* We taught the guinnea pig to holler "row."
* We have no Haugens on the America's Most Wanted list for the first time in seven years. Yes!
* Mother-in-law is staying out of our business as she joined the booming Occupy Mahjong movement.

Finally, thanks to all of you for the couple thousand downloads over at and buying up all those copies of Joshua's Ladder.

Finally, really, may you have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pretty proud of myself with the collection of linky-dink things I ran across the past few days. The ol’ Rushmore state has some pretty good writers – thought-provoking and heart-touching.

** This "Day of War" thing is going to be a big deal. Trust me. I know people who know people and they agree it’s going to be Haugmungus. The Rapid City Journal says: Cliff Graham has a lot going for him right now. The 30-year-old Rapid City native is an accomplished author and speaker, and is about to see his work hit the big screen as filmmakers adapt his writing into a movie.

** Joseph “Jody” Bottum, formerly an editor at the Weekly Standard and First Things, appears to have a hit on Kindle with his new e-book, Dakota Christmas. It’s only 99 cents.

** John Pollman of theSioux Falls Argus Leader considers the 60 minutes before the sun sets to be the “Golden Hour” for hunting the state bird. For any non-hunters this story offers a good glimpse of why many South Dakotans enjoy a pheasant hunt with their dog.

** Speaking of pets, Shirley Halleen of the Argus has a column that begins with a statement I well agree with: New pets should come with the directions: “Make room in your heart, because I will fill it with both love and pain.”

** Former Rapid City mayor and current SBA dude, Jim Shaw, wonders if libraries are about to go the way of the buggy whip.

** And one of my favorite writers, Stephen Hunter, has a new book out: Soft Target. Hunter tells more about it over at Powerline.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

"No one can write decently who is distasteful of the reader's intelligence, or whose attitude is patronizing." - E.B. White

I don't have many rules I follow when writing (as you know), but when I saw this quote from E.B., the author of Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little (as if you didn't know), it did click with me that I've always considered my readers smart (though easily annoyed when I over-use parenthesis).

Not to the extent of Dennis Miller, but I enjoy dropping some obscure references on occassion. I don't use the big words of George Will, who obviously doesn't underestimate his readers' intelligence, but I would use them if I knew some. When it comes to humor, I often rely on sarcasm, which can be dangerous, but there again I assume the reader gets it, or, if they don't, tough luck.

So I just wanted to make it clear that even if you are a moron reading my stuff, it's news to me and I won't treat you like one. This is a safe haven for morons.

Friday, November 25, 2011

People like to ask what I'm working on at the moment and I tell them I'm taking it slow, testing the knee, and moving forward with the idea of running a marathon in Dallas or Las Vegas in April.

Then they say: "No, moron, what are you writing?"

Ohhhh, well I have two projects in different phases of undress at the moment.

One is a novel tentatively titled "Pet Teachers." It is done in rough draft, beginning to end, but still needs some beefing up. PT is currently on the back burner and in the hands of my crack editorial team, who will point out flaws, mock me, say "you call that writing?", and then will return it, hopefully in a month or two, with some ideas on how I can fine tune it, rewrite it, and turn it into a Pulitzer Prize winner or at least something that won't get me laughed out of the Sturgis Fine Arts Club.

In a nutshell, "Pet Teachers" follow three South Dakota teachers and their criminal activities. I'd tell you more, but somebody would likely steal this highly clever idea. Trust me, it'll be fun.

The project that currently has me plunkin' the keyboard is tentatively titled "Zoo Falls." I'm on a pretty good roll with this one, maybe about a third done, but pretty much fully outlined. It's looking a little more PG-13 than most stuff I write, but I think it's got the most potential to crack you up.

ZF features a homeless dude named "Juicy" in Sioux Falls. He knows the city better than anyone, including the mayor, city council, state's attorney, cops and firemen. It soon becomes apparent that Juicy is about the only one in town with any morals. I'm liking this one a lot.

When will either of these be finished? Good question. I'd like to release one in 2012. But there's a pretty good chance a marathon, three kids and a real job, could delay that. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

*** The NY Times lists the 100 notable books of 2011.

FYI, I have it on good authority that Joshua's Ladder was #101. Also, since this article just ran, I guess they don't plan on any good books being published in December, eh?

Friday, November 18, 2011

** Army Strong, can you hear me now? The C.S. Monitor says the iPhone could turn the Army upside-down.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A pair of essays I'm liking and one other:

** Bill Simmons takes a humorous/inciteful/long look at Eddie Murphy's career over at Grantland.

** As you may know, Linday Lohan is the unofficial fantasy girl of I will expound on that in the near future. Til then, the New York Times expounds on her in "Why a Fallen Angel is a Centerfold."

** Some dude makes the case for Jim Morrison as serious poet. Honestly, I don't know, don't care, not even sure why I posted this.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Crash - The Finals - The End

The other 9C semifinal game pitted the Buffalo Gap Buffalo from the southwest part of the state against the Forestburg Melons from near Huron. The Melons were the top-seeded team in the state and lived up to their ranking with a 50-4 win.

We were ready for them.

The week leading up to the title game is a fun one. We were the talk of the town, heroes even. It’s not like we had the cross country team to compete with for glory. We didn’t have one. Shindler guys don’t like running any farther than to the mailbox and back. Besides, we deal in yards, not meters. Nobody on the team knows how far 5,000 meters is - only that we don’t want to run that far to find out.

So we reveled in our glory until we loaded up the bus at 5 a.m. on Saturday for our 8 a.m. game. Seems kind of goofy to be playing that early in the morning, but since South Dakota has expanded to 12 classes in football it’s a necessity.

I was a little concerned with how quiet our bus was though. Usually, we’re a pretty loosey-goosey bunch. Ninety-nine bottle of beer on the wall, and all that stuff. Not today. Seemed like we were going to a funeral. The only noise was Crash’s snoring - that is until we reached Lesterville. Then there was such an explosion, I thought we hit a landmine. Then I saw the smoke rolling out of the hood. It took about 10 seconds for the inside of the bus to become filled with black, choking smoke.

The Dutchies busted open the emergency exit, something they’d dreamed of doing for years. We caught the players, coaches and bus drivers as they did all sorts of dives out the back door. Coach Fitzpatrick was the last one out and immediately did a head count on all the players.

We were missing one. Crash.

I panicked. Smoke billowed out the bus windows. The front third of the bus was in flames. It didn’t matter. The Snapping Turtles never leave another Turtle behind!

I dove into the bus, busting through Coach’s arms as he tried to stop me. I couldn’t see anything, but felt in the back seat. I grabbed an arm. Heard him. Still snoring logs. That pissed me off. I yanked him toward me. He awoke, startled, hollered: “Miley, Miley, no!”

I threw him out the door. Coach caught him. Crash rubbed his eyes and yawned. I fell on the ground and coughed up a West Virginia coal mine.

Car after car drove by, no doubt feeling sorry for the poor Bible campers, but not so bad as to actually stop. We collected ourselves on the side of the road. The Forestberg team bus drove by and 12 Melons mooned us.

Old Dutch finally had enough. He scanned the highway and waited. A minute passed before he spotted his victim - a farmer in John Deere tractor pulling a flatbed of hay bales. Old Dutch jumped into the west bound land and held up his hand like a traffic cop ordering the vehicle to stop. The farmer did.

Old Dutch ordered him to take us to the Dome. (I think he might have implied that he had a handgun in his pocket, but I’m not saying he did.)

So we threw our gym bags and the equipment we’d managed to salvage on top of the bales and climbed aboard. Coach sat in the cab with the farmer.

It was by far the slowest and coldest ride of my life.It was 7:45 when the hay truck pulled up to the Dome. Any excitement we had for seeing the Seventh Wonder of South Dakota was frozen out of us - by cold and by the fear that we missed the kickoff.

You never saw a group of Snapping Turtles move so fast as we ran to the locker room and listened to the introduction of the Melons while we changed into our uniforms. Two minutes to kickoff and we were ready to go, frantic and frazzled, but ready to go. That is, all but Crash. He couldn’t find his cleats. He told us to go out and he’d catch up. I sure hoped so.

Crash must’ve tried on every shoe in the locker room, but couldn’t find anything that fit. Turns out he has the smallest feet known to teenage boys - a size 7.

He missed the coin flip, and I was getting really nervous. The team was tense enough the way it was, but without Crash there to soothe us, we were babbling idiots. As we lost the flip, and the Dutchies were threatening suicide, I looked over and saw Crash in our fan section.

As is tradition, the fans for each team usually have a theme on championship day. Some choose hunter outfits, some beachwear, some shirtless with body paint. Ours chose pajamas. Fine - until I noticed Crash talking to Tena. Then I saw Tena take off her slippers. Then I saw Crash try them on. Then I saw him give her a high-five.

Then I heard 6,000 people in the Dome and the entire state of South Dakota laugh as Crash jogged onto the field to join our kickoff return team wearing Tena’s slippers … fuzzy … pink … rabbit slippers … with rabbit ears flopping.

Crash ran over next to me and hollered over the din: “Better than Nikes! Look at the grip on these suckers.” And he bounded back and forth. He was ready. So were we.

Unfortunately, so was Forestburg.I have to admit: Those were some thumpin’ Melons. We hit them hard. They hit us harder.

All the experts in the sports media predicted a high-scoring offensive shootout. They should stick to what they know best: Beer. Because this turned into a battle of punters. Three plays, punt. Three plays, punt, three plays, well I don’t have to spell it out for you.

End of first quarter: 0-0.

Halftime: 0-0.

End of third quarter: 0-0.

It’s not that Crash was off his passing game. It’s that none of our guys could get open. He’d put the ball on the spot and it would get batted away or the Dutchies would get flattened by steamrolling Melons. Our running backs took a licking too.

And it was the same for Forestberg’s offense.

Nobody bent. Nobody buckled.

It all came down to the 10 seconds left in the game. We had the ball on the 50. Third down. Coach was thinking Hail Mary. I was thinking overtime.

Crash was in the huddle, just thinking.

He changed the play. He drew up a play on the palm of his hand. “Dutch go wide right. Twenty yards out, turn out like I’m going to hit you there. Old Dutch go wide left. Fake in, then sprint like you’ve never sprinted to the end zone. The ball will be waiting. Catch it. Everybody else, block those Melonheads.”

The thing is, when Crash said something, nobody doubted it. We broke huddle, knowing we would score. But only Crash knew how that was going to happen.

The ball was snapped to Crash back in the shotgun. He bounced on his toes, the rabbit ears bounced too. Our line blocked hard and well. The Dutchies screamed down the sidelines.

I caught a glimpse of Crash out of the corner of my eye. He had the ball tucked under his left arm, still in the pocket. I saw him lift his left foot and reach down with his right hand. He pulled off a bunny slipper. Set his feet and reared back. He looked right and threw that bunny slipper as hard as he’s thrown anything. It sailed toward Dutch. It was Crash’s first spiral ever. All the defensive backs broke toward Dutch. By the time they saw the rabbit ears unfurl, it was too late, and they knew it.

Crash then pulled the football out from under his left arm, reared back again and unleashed a 55-five yard bomb to Old Dutch flying into the end zone. Old Dutch dived. Grabbed the ball. Pulled it into his belly. Touchdown!

Time expired. We went nuts, The Forestburg coaches went nuttier. They screamed at the refs that something illegal must have happened. But the refs couldn’t find anything in the rule book about throwing a shoe, much less throwing a bunny slipper.

Final score: Shindler 6, Forestburg 0.

Amid the celebration, I returned the slipper to our Cinderella, Tena Swenson. She gave me a hug.

Crash came over and gave her the other slipper off his foot. She gave him a long Swedish kiss.

I’ve never had one of those. But Crash said it was really, really good.

And who am I to doubt him?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Crash - part 4 (of 5)

You know how when a school has used their bus for 10 or 15 years and pretty much run it into the ground, then they sell it an auction? Then some aspiring rock band or church youth camp buys it for $500 and paints it white and splashes their name and logo on it and they drive it for another five years? Well, after they are done with it and it’s held together by baling wire and duct tape, that’s when the Shindler School District buys it from them for $250. Smart folks those school board members are.

So that’s how it came to be that we loaded all our gear into the cream-colored bus with “Little Disciples Bible Academy - Repent or Go to Hell” sketched in purple lettering on both sides and a giant purple image of Jesus’ face painted on the hood. It didn’t exactly strike fear into the opposing team when we pulled into their parking lot, but we are about the only team that other fans genuflect in front of. So we got that going for us.

Our bus driver is Elton Johns. He always says he’s one letter away from being famous. Elton is a retired truck driver. He’s 82 and lives with his mom who is 99. Elton once told me he hasn’t renewed his driver’s license since he got out of the penitentiary 15 years ago. Apparently our school board isn’t big on background checks.

The good thing, the only good thing, about our bus and small team is that we each get our own seat. The Dutch boys sit in the back seats, and Crash and I sit in front of them. From there, Crash holds court like Socrates. He randomly offers bits of wisdom, historical facts about the places we pass, and motivational tidbits he’s gleaned from the Internet.

Today, on this short trip, he claimed that Rowena was the birthplace of Greta Van Susteren of FOX News fame. I was pretty sure he meant Mami Van Doren, but not being big on Dutch history, I wasn’t about to argue - didn’t want to throw off his karma.

In fact, as we pulled into Rowena, I noticed a sign saying “Birthplace of Mami Van Doren.” But a little revisionist history never hurt anybody.


Rumor had it that tonight recruiters from the University of Minnesota and Iowa were on hand to see Rowena linebacker Gotfreid Johnson in action. Most everyone just calls him “Got,” since Gotfreid doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. The Rabbit cheering section was even wearing white t-shirts with black lettering saying: “Got Got?”

Gotfreid was built like a hay bale – as if a round baler had run over him and he came out the back end with his head sticking out one side of the bale and two legs out the other side. Yet he is fast and outrageously strong. Gotfried can bench press 280 and that’s not just country legend. I’ve seen it. Heck, everybody’s seen it because Rowena actually has a weight bench on their sidelines, where some teams might have an exercise bike, and during pregame and at halftime Gotfreid pompously pumps iron in front of the cheering crowd. It’s pretty obnoxious, but to our credit, nobody can out-obnoxious Crash.

So it was that the team captains gathered at midfield for the coin toss. Dutch, Old Dutch, Crash and myself represented the Snapping Turtles and Gotfreid, Boyd Jensen and Carter Ott represented the Rabbits. We all knew each other well. In fact, on any other day we’d be considered friends. Some mix of us at one time or another had hunted, canoed or chased girls together on weekends or during the summer. But none of that mattered now.

Big Dutch called “heads.” The coin came up tails. Big Dutch dropped a string of profanities and before the game had even started we received an unsportsmanlike conduct flag. Rowena deferred, so we’d get the ball first and the referee signaled such. Then Crash started talking.

“Hey, Got,” he hollered just as Gotfried started to turn away. He turned back.

“What, Crash?”

“Did you see the Gophers and Hawkeyes scouts here to watch me?”

“They ain’t here to see you, geek. They’re here to see me.”

“Ya think? Apparently you don’t read. They’ve already got all their linebackers signed for next season. They’ve moved on to the juniors now – for the next year, ya know.”

“That’s a bunch of crap. They’re here to see me.” Got tapped his fists against the pair of “4”s on his jersey.

“Sorry dude. The Gophers coach texted me last night. Told me so.”

“They text you?”

“Sure. Don’t they you? They said you’re a helluva rusher, but you can’t play pass defense. And they need that when they play the Ohio States of the world.”

“Bull.” His face was turning an angry red.

“No bull, Got. Sorry. Seems they don’t think you can even handle one of the Dutch twins here, so how you gonna handle Michigan State’s wideouts?”

“Well I’ll show them!” Gotfreid hollered, spun back toward his sidelines and stormed off.

Crash turned to me and grinned. “I just made your day a lot easier.”

“But not ours,” the Dutchies said.

“Don’t worry,” Crash said as we jogged off. “He can’t cover you both. I’ll throw it to whichever one of you he’s not covering, and since he’s not rushing me, I’ll have all day back there to throw you a perfect spiral.”

“Perfect spiral,” Old Dutch chuckled. “Ya, right.”

“Don’t worry boys. Game is good as over. We’re going to the Dome.”

The way he said it, I didn’t doubt him. Neither did the Dutchies. Crash had that way about him.


The game went pretty much as Crash called it. Gotfreid fell for Crash’s lies and his imaginary conversations with the college recruiters and decided to forego the pass rush that had made him famous. Instead, Got chased the Dutch boys around the field like a lost puppy – a big puppy. Crash had gotten into his head like a tumor.

The scouts later lamented the fact that Got never rushed the passer, never recorded a sack, didn’t even try. They labeled him a head case, over-rated, and vowed never to believe the Rowena coach again if he told them he had a “can’t-miss” prospect. Got eventually earned an online degree in criminal justice from Phoenix University - his Big 10 and possible NFL career ruined by a trash-talking geek from Shindler during a coin flip. I feel a little guilty about it. Crash does not.

We scored on our first drive as Crash went four-for-four passing, hitting Old Dutch on each one, as Got chased the younger Dutch harmlessly around the field. Sophomore tailback Bobby Buffer capped the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run up the middle.

In the second quarter Crash connected on two scoring bombs with Dutch and we led 21-0 at halftime.

I think Coach had prepared to give us a rah-rah-win-one-for-the-Gipper halftime speech, but was caught off guard by our big lead and at a rare loss for words. He stood before us in the locker room and scratched his chin.

“Hmm,” he finally said. “You’re doing pretty good out there.”

He took off his cap and scratched his head for an uncomfortably long time before continuing. “Let’s do the same thing again.”

We all looked at Crash. He shrugged his shoulders and said: “Okay.”

It was all very business-like, right up Crash’s alley. So we did just what Coach ordered, went out in the second half and scored another 21 points, held them to none and left Shindler with an anti-climactic 42-0 win.

But to say it was anti-climactic is not to suggest we didn’t jump around like fools when the final horn sounded. We tumbled into the Little Disciples Bible Academy bus and rocked it the 20 miles home like it had never been rocked before.

We were going to the Dome!

Crash - part 3

Crash flicked down his kickstand next to us, took off his helmet, gave me some knuckles and Tena a “hey babe.” She swooned. I rolled my eyes.

It’s not that I’m jealous of Crash. I just can’t figure out girls and am sure I’m not alone in that confusion. It’s just that Tena doesn’t give me a second look. Sure, I’m no Brad Pitt, but I’m not a chunk of hamburger either. I’m 6-5, 240, with long sandy brown Kid Rock hair. Not fat, pretty muscular in fact. I’ve won the battle against acne, a two-year war with Clearasil and Proactive as my only allies. Still, nada attention from her. Only thing I can figure is that it’s my right index finger, or more precisely, the lack of one. I lost that in a hair-trigger raccoon trap. I subsequently lost my job as center on the football team, as it’s pretty much impossible to hike the ball accurately without one and was moved to tackle. I’m hoping to catch me one of those handicap parking stickers someday, since I didn’t catch the coon.

So since I know I don’t have a chance with Tena, given her apparent disdain for the disabled, I’ve given up trying to impress her, which makes a relationship with a high school girl a lot easier. That being said, I asked Crash: “Wanna see my catch from the morning?”

Before he could answer, because he probably would have answered “no,” I flipped back the tarp covering the corpses. The muskrats and mink stared at us wide eyed. Tena returned the favor and covered her mouth.

“Ewwww!” she screamed.

“Cool,” Crash said. “Thirty bucks worth?”

“About that.”

“Cool,” he reiterated and began walking to our first-period class - psychology. While I prefer easing into my school day with a slack class, Miss Hewitt makes it interesting. This week we’re studying death and dying issues. I hope it’s not an omen.

The class is all juniors and seniors, 14 of us. Crash gave a peace sign salute to all as we walked in. I did the same, but not as effectively given the missing finger. Tena sat in the front row. Crash and I sat in the back between the twins – Vernon and Virgil VandeVanVanderVeldeHuesenkamp. They’re seniors, but nice to at least two underclassmen, Crash and me, because they are wide receivers on the team and like to stay in good graces with Crash so he will keep chucking them the rock.

To make matters easier with the identical twins, we call them Dutch and Old Dutch. Virgil is Old Dutch because he was born two minutes before Vernon. I can’t tell them apart so I just call them “dude” every time I see them. They are built like scare crows, about 5-10, 145 pounds, but tougher than nails – easily the roughest, meanest, soul-less guys in school and even more so on the football field.

I pretty much steer clear of them. Not because I’m afraid of them. I’m pretty sure I could take them one on one, but they don’t work like that. They come at you in pairs, like coyotes. I’ve seen them in action and it’s freaky scary. Okay, so I’m a little afraid of them.

My dad hired them once to help us shell corn. We had a crib full of ear corn and we had the job of shoveling the corn into the auger that goes into the sheller that spits out the cobs on one side and the kernels of corn into the wagon. If you’ve ever shelled corn (and who hasn’t?), then you know that when you get to the bottom of the crib, there are usually a couple rats that scamper off. Since we have the laziest cats in Lincoln County, we tend to have more rats than usual. I usually try and club them with my shovel and usually miss because they are fast and I am slow, but Dutch and Old Dutch had a different method and it caught me off guard. It was quite awe-inspiring actually.

They would see a rat, drop their shovel and lightning fast grab the rat with their gloved hands, just quick as a whip, and then they would ring their neck and toss them to the cats sitting outside the crib. I’ve never seen anything like it, not before and not since. They must’ve offed a half dozen of them. I think it even concerned my dad because he never hired them back even though they were the hardest working kids we’ve ever had on the farm. My dad keeps reminding me of that fact.


The game day dragged on incredibly slowly, as most Friday’s do, and finally seventh period came, where instead of world history we had a pep rally. We held it outdoors at the football field. The football team sat on folding chairs facing the aluminum bleachers.

It was kind of an odd spectacle as you might expect, since all 17 boys in school are on the team. That left only 17 others to take part in the pep rally, and of those, nine of them were cheerleaders, who, as the name suggests, led the other eight in cheers. So eight girls sat in the bleachers. One of them was Tena, who although she is the prettiest girl in school, is not a cheerleader.

It’s not that she didn’t want to be a cheerleader, and it’s not that it takes much to be a Snapping Turtles cheerleader. Anybody who tries out makes the squad. It’s the school rule.

Seems she showed up to try out, but that’s where it got a little sensitive. Apparently many European girls don’t shave their armpits. That’s what the Internet says anyway. And it seems Tena was living proof that everything you read on the Internet is true. She showed up at tryouts in shorts and a tank top, and Miss Mortimer, the cheerleading advisor, had a bit of a conniption fit because it looked like Tena had a squirrel under each arm. Miss Mortimer didn’t think it seemed appropriate and kindly convinced Tena that she could be better utilized cheering with the other seven girls from the bleachers – in a sweatshirt.

The pep rally took the place of the evening bon fire, which was cancelled after last year’s incident that sparked a wild fire and burned about 20 acres of Gerald Swenson’s corn field. He was a good sport and didn’t sue the school, but did issue a stern warning to the administration that they probably wouldn’t want to do that again. And they didn’t.

Coach Fitzpatrick introduced all the cheerleaders and the players, as if everybody didn’t already know everybody else. Then he asked Crash to say a few words to fire up the crowd. This was unexpected, as usually a senior does the honors, but the Dutch boys couldn’t speak four words without three of them being swear words, so he turned to Crash.

Crash seldom swears, but he also doesn’t say much, so I didn’t know what to expect. But I didn’t expect him to take the microphone and say this:

“Snapping Turtle fans of the world unite! (Fist pump)

“It is time to repel the rabid horde of Rowena Rabbits from their attempted invasion on the Dome. (Fist pump)

“We all know the story of the turtle and the hare. If you don’t, allow me to ruin the ending for you. The turtle wins! (Fist pump)

“And that’s just a regular ol’ turtle. What they don’t tell you is that the snapping turtle doesn’t just defeat the hare. He kills it. He runs over it, squishes it, flattens it like rabbit road kill, guts and brains oozing on the pavement.

“We are Snapping Turtles. We are Killer Snapping Turtles. Let’s go kill some rabbits!” (Double fist pump)

The players rushed around Crash cheering. The cheerleaders shook their pom-poms. The crowd wandered off to find their rides to the game.

Crash - part 2

I was sitting on the endgate of my 1986 Dodge Ram with Tena Swenson, our foreign exchange student from Sweden, waiting for Crash before school.

I say “our” foreign exchange student, not like we owned her or anything, but because she had kind of adopted us. Tena actually adopted Crash because she said he seemed so “European” – whatever that means – and I was just there as part of the package deal. Crash and I are kind of a buy-one-get-one-free kind of thing like LeBron James and Duane Wade or, more aptly, SpongeBob and Patrick.

Wearing my brown #99 jersey, I was anxious to show Crash the catch from my morning trap run – three muskrats and a mink – and was equally anxious to watch Tena freak out when I pulled the tarp off their corpses.

We didn’t say much, me and Tena, as we sat there like Israelites waiting for Moses. Finally we heard the buzz of his scooter and saw him turn the corner, decked out in his dorky black bike helmet and gray parka.

Crash never got to school more than a minute before the final bell, because he worked until the last possible second. He had a different job than any other kid I knew. It wasn’t mowing at the golf course or sacking groceries at the store. Crash was an on-line day-trader. I don’t have the slightest clue about it, except that he says he can get a half hour’s worth of work done before school because the markets open an hour earlier on the East Coast. It’s the darnedest thing.

Crash even has one of those Blackberry things, not just your average flip phone like the rest of us, and when a particular stock he’s bought reaches a certain level he gets an automated email telling him such. So at various times of the day, when his pocket vibrates, he asks the teacher if he can go to the bathroom but instead runs down to the school library or just into the hall and gets on the Internet to buy or sell whatever he’s got going on. He actually had his doctor write a note to the principal claiming Crash has a bladder condition, so all the teachers let him go whenever he asks. They think he has a weak adolescent bladder, but actually he is pulling in more coin in a week than they do.

It works quite well for me too, as I give him all my trapping money and he’s parlayed that into about 10 times what I would normally have. My mom thinks I’m dealing drugs. For all I know I could be but they’d be Pfizer or Merck.

This morning’s trading must have been good because he had an exceptionally goofy grin as he pulled in next to us.

Most guys might be a little tense or nervous on game day, but I knew better than to ask Crash if he was as wound up as I was. He didn’t get nervous – just wasn’t in him. We could be standing on top of a burning building at midnight and rather than scream for help he’d be more apt to look around and say: “Hey, Badger, look to the north-northwest and you can see the Big Dipper.”

There is only one thing that gets Crash upset, and that’s losing. He is the worst, sorest loser I’ve ever seen. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen often. It doesn’t matter if it is ping pong, football or trading stocks; he is an absolute idiot when he loses. Crash still hasn’t gotten over our only loss of the season, in the second game of the year. It turned out to be the reason we were playing on the road tonight and not hosting the playoff game.

It’s a long, strange story, but, hey, that’s why you are reading this crap. Right?

It was a Saturday afternoon game against the Norway Center Sardines and I’d finally convinced Crash to go out with me the night before to teach him how to shoot pistols.

We went out to my dad’s pasture and I set up some targets. I gave Crash a couple ear plugs and we got blasting.

After we’d each fired off about 20 rounds from my dad’s .357, I turned to him and said: “We’d better head in. It’s getting dark.”

Crash looked at me and screamed in his nasally voice: “What?”

I said: “We better get back.”

He screamed again: “What?”

I hollered as loud as I could: “Take out your ear plugs!”

When he pulled them out of his nose, I knew we were in trouble. Unbeknownst to me, he’d put them in his nose instead of his ears, because, as he would later claim, he thought they were to keep him from inhaling gun smoke.

Crash was still deaf as a bat at noon the next day, two hours before kickoff, so he devised another of his genius schemes. It would not have been a problem running the plays in and out from the sideline to the huddle, but the problem was Crash hearing what the play was. And we couldn’t exactly holler it to him, as odds are the other team hadn’t been out the night before shooting pistols with ear plugs stuck in their nose and would hear us.

So Crash thought it would be cool if he used his Blackberry to get plays. Coach borrowed another Blackberry from the doctor in town, and Coach emailed the plays in to Crash and we would all read the play off that. Then Crash would stuff the Blackberry down the front of his pants, run the play, and we went on to stuff Norway Center 52-0.

All was good, as Crash’s hearing began to return on Monday, just in time for the announcement from Coach that we had to forfeit the game because the Sardines’ coach heard one of our fans bragging about our system. He turned us in to the South Dakota High School Activities Association and some tight-ass there said it was illegal and made us forfeit.

Crash went home, made a fat cardboard silhouette of the Norway Center coach, came over to my house and fired 50 rounds through the .357 – pretty much turning the cardboard cutout into confetti.

The good news is – he stuck the ear plus in the right holes this time. After all, Crash is no dummy.


Coach Ed “Fitz” Fitzpatrick is in his third season as the Snapping Turtles coach. He came to us after retiring from a stellar 40-year coaching career at some school in Boston. They say he was the second-winningest coach in the history of Massachussetes.

The old Irishman says he moved to South Dakota to get some fresh air and catch walleyes. After a year of sitting in a boat pretty much non-stop, he got sick of fishing, sold his boat and announced his intentions to take over one of the worst football programs in the state so he could turn it around and show he “still had it.” Shindler won the bidding war between Sturgis and Mitchell.

Rumor has it the deal-maker was an unlimited tab at Stan’s Corner Bar. Stanley Tucker is the team’s biggest booster and swears on a stack of Field and Stream magazines that he would never engage in such underhanded and immoral recruiting tactics, and the nosey Activities Association wasn’t able to prove such, so Coach is our coach. It’s just coincidence that nobody has ever seen Coach pay for a beer at Stan’s despite going through about a case of Sam Adams a week.

Despite the massive hops intake, Coach remains a fit and wirey 155 pounds. His temper still goes from 0 to 60 in four seconds and his players would run through a brick wall for him. He loves us and we love him. But man can that dude yell.

Coach always wears his Red Sox cap backwards and pulled down tight to his baggy ears. He is apparently oblivious to South Dakota winters, or maybe his blood always has enough of Stanley’s anti-freeze in it, as every day he sports a plain white t-shirt, black shorts, sweat socks pulled up just below his knees and white Nike running shoes – not very original but a morning time-saver for him for sure.

After seven winless Turtle seasons, Coach Fitzpatrick came on the scene and we won two games his first year, then four the second year and now we are 9-1 and a game away from playing for the state title. Thank you, Stanley Tucker. Wink, wink.

Crash - part 1

Let me tell ya’ll a story about a kid named Crash Bonaparte …

I wouldn’t say he is a nerd, but he is certainly an odd duck. I wouldn’t say he is a great student, because he gets straight “C”s – and I’m serious, six classes, six “C”s, not a plus or minus among them. I wouldn’t even say Crash is a great athlete, but he is the best quarterback in South Dakota.

He’s not fast. It’s been said that he is deceptively slow and limps for no apparent reason. Crash can’t even throw a spiral, but he can throw a ball sideways 60 yards. His right arm is actually bigger than his left, like he only lifts weights with the one arm, which he does. “Seems like a waste of effort to do both,” he says.

Crash has an uncanny knack for not getting tackled. I’ve seen many a linebacker have a bead on his #9, get ready to wrap him up, to screw his head into the ground, and all the LB comes up with is air. Crash ducks or trips, regains his balance and throws, not a wounded duck but a goose with seizures. The ball wobbles just over the charging defensive end, flutters, just out of reach of the D-back, and lands in the hands of his receiver – score!

I haven’t seen it happen once; I’ve see it happen 53 times. Crash had 19 touchdown passes our sophomore year at Shindler High School – and didn’t even start until the third game of the year. He has 34 scoring passes this season alone – going into tomorrow afternoon’s state semifinal game against arch-rival Rowena High.

Crash, who claims to be a distant descendent of Napoleon Bonaparte and has the family tree documented on an Excel spreadsheet to prove it, is 5-foot-11, much taller than his second-cousin 43-times removed. Crash weighs 165 pounds, has curly dishwater blonde hair to the tip of his boney shoulders, and used to wear glasses until he bought contacts. The fact that he wears contacts would usually be so meaningless as to leave out of this important story, but for some ungodly reason only Crash knows, he chose to purchase black ones.

Some high school kids get ink (tattoos to you old-timers) to express their individuality, even though everybody else has them. Some even choose to get piercings to express their individuality, even though everybody else has them. Crash Bonaparte has eerie black contacts. Nobody else has those.

I asked him once after practice why he got them and he paused for an uncomfortable amount of time, as is his annoying tendency, and told me: “Because.”

I asked him: “Because why?”

He stared at me with those spooky black eyes and answered, perhaps honestly, but who knows with him: “Because I accidentally ordered them online when I hit the wrong button.”

“What kind did you intend to buy?” I asked.

Pause. Pause. “The ones with lightning bolts.”

“Oh,” I said.

He claims they are a blessing in disguise, as they tend to reduce the glare of the stadium lights, and that if he had bought the lightning bolts they would have increased the glare and it might have resulted in more interceptions and fewer touchdowns.

And who am I to argue with Crash? It would only lead to more confusion, as arguing with him is useless and extremely painful to the brain of anybody who tries.

Almost everybody at one time or another asks Crash what his real name is. They figure it is something exotic or so weird that he wouldn’t want to use it, but they would be wrong. His real, God-given name is Crash. Seems his mom was about eight and a half months pregnant and driving home from running errands in Sioux Falls. She was driving past a Liberty Tax office and was waving to one of those people dressed up as the Statue of Liberty. Mrs. Bonaparte is a friendly woman. She’s also easily distracted and rear-ended the FedEx truck stopped at a light in front of her. The crash apparently induced labor, but no injuries. An ambulance whisked her to Sioux Valley Hospital, where Crash was born 45 minutes later. He’s still happy he wasn’t named FedEx.

Crash just turned 16 last month and is old enough to drive a car, but chooses not to. He can afford to, as he’s made more money in his part-time job than the rest of our classmates combined, but says he has no intention of ever driving an automobile. It’s not that he is some environmentalist afraid to add some exhaust to the ozone; it’s because he is afraid of squirrels. Not frightened of them like they are going to attack him or scratch or bite him. He’s afraid of running over them.

I asked about it once during some quality one-on-one time in the middle of one of our thousands of ping pong games. He told me what he considers to be his deepest darkest secret.

It seems Crash had a dream one night that his favorite singer, Miley Cyrus (yes, you heard me right), had morphed into a squirrel and Crash was driving the brand new Mustang he’d been saving for all his life, when the squirrel/Miley ran into the street and he accidentally smushed it/her. From that night on, he vowed never to own a car. Guess he didn’t want to take the chance of killing Miley – though I would swerve onto the sidewalk to do so.

So instead of buying the cherry-red Mustang, he bought a cherry-red electric scooter. And it’s no ordinary scooter. It’s a high-end, 600-watt Tiger Shark that can top out at 18 miles per hour, 19 if he’s going down hill with the wind at his back. He has deemed the Tiger Shark scooter to be “squirrel-friendly.”

But don’t make fun of Crash. He’s my best bud and I’d have to kick your butt. As his left offensive tackle, I watch his back on the field – and off. My name is Badger McDougal and tomorrow is game day. So back off.


Shindler High is the smallest school in Class 9C, which pretty much makes us the smallest school in the entire Rushmore state. There are probably smaller schools out there, but they don’t have football teams; so I don’t think they count as schools. We have 34 kids total from freshmen to seniors – 17 boys and 17 girls, which works out well for the school dances. All 17 boys play on the football team, some better than others but all pretty well. We’ve never played in a state championship game, never been to the DakotaDome. They say it’s a nice place to visit but you wouldn’t want to live there.

Our nickname is the Snapping Turtles. Yep. When our school honor roll is printed in the newspaper, it’s called Shindler’s List. Yep. Our school color (not colors) is brown. Our football uniforms are all brown, pants, jerseys and helmets. We look like crap, but we don’t play like it.

People used to make fun of us because of our uniforms and because we played so badly while wearing them. They don’t mock us for that reason anymore. Now about the only thing they have on us is our school building. We don’t have a brand spanking new school spread over 20 acres with water fountains and archways leading into it. We don’t have a fancy mural painted on our gymnasium walls. Heck, we don’t even have air conditioning.

As if you didn’t already know, our school is located in the former Shindler elevator – you know, the place where farmers sold their corn and beans. Our old school burned down 12 years ago. Fortunately, for us, but not so much so for area farmers, the elevator went out of business about the same time. Our school board bought it from the bank for $1. Smart folks those school board members are.

There are four small rooms in the old office portion of the elevator. The principal and secretary have the tiniest room, which Principal Potter likes, but his smokin’ hot secretary Miss Tate not so much. The other three rooms are for math/science, English/literature, history/government. The computer lab is in one of the storage bins, while industrial arts/shop is in another storage bin. The third bin is the teachers’ lounge. The metal bins work pretty well until about April, when your average sunny 70-degree day pumps the temperature up into triple digits, and don’t even get me started on the month of May. Needless to say we don’t have many fat teachers – not anymore anyway.

I’m pretty sure we have the hottest, dustiest and tallest school in South Dakota, so that’s something.

Check back tomorrow as Shindler prepares to face Rowena in the state semifinals.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Most long-term South Dakotans have firm opinions, pro or con, regarding Bill Janklow. Most have stories of personal interaction with him. And if you were a journalist during his tenure, you definately have stories about him.

I'm sure a lot of people will be sharing their Janklow antecdotes this weekend following the news that our former governor has terminal brain cancer. I have several as well, having interviewed him a handful of times and written about him several more as a columnist.

Overall, I consider myself a Janklow fan. I like him. He certainly has his flaws, and his manslaughter conviction attests to one of them. I share many of his flaws, but not as many of his virtues, such as his vast intelligence and speech-giving ability.

Here are some of the random interactions I recall with "Wild Bill."

* I attended Journalism City at Boys State in Aberdeen in 1981. Governor Janklow was the keynote speaker on the final night. I volunteered to cover his speech. He allowed me to interview him as he walked from the auditorium to an awaiting helicopter. I am sure I asked some of the dumbest questions possible (though I didn't ask him: "If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?"), yet he thoughtfully and courteously answered them. He never called me unsurly names, which I probably deserved.

* I once called him at home for, I think, a "New Year's Resolution" story I was doing at the Argus Leader. As I recall, he wasn't too thrilled with that interuption.

* When I was owner/editor of the Tea & Harrisburg Champion weekly newspaper, one of the smallest in the state, he always returned my interview requests. I respected him for that.

He also told me he kept two newspapers in the lobby of his governor's office in Pierre: The Tea & Harrisburg Champion and some other rag. I checked on my next trip to Pierre, and, yes, there was the Champion on the coffee table.

* In a column I once teased him for unknowingly stepping on my second-grade daughter's foot when we were in a gas station. Gov. Janklow called her at home the following Saturday, didn't talk to me, visited with her for a few minutes, apologized for stepping on her foot, and told her to stop in and say "Hi" next time she was in Pierre.

* I still have the note he sent me regarding a brilliant column I wrote. The note began: "Dear Mark, Any old jackass can kick in a barn door ..."

He had a point.

I wish the former Governor well. He was always good to me and my family; and South Dakota is a better place for his service to it.

God's speed, sir.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

As you see, I'm going in a little different direction with this blog, being a little more free-flowing, no headlines because nothing's that important, more random. I hope that doesn't bother all 47 of you who read this somewhat regularly.
I found it funny and refreshing to see that Salmon Rushdie tweeted a limerick about Kim Kardashian today. Those are two people I never thought I'd see in the same sentence. Good to see he doesn't take himself as seriously as some take him. I like that.

I wouldn't be a good name-dropper if I didn't mention I once asked Arthur Miller a question about Mr. Rushdie during a Q&A at Augustana College. I don't remember the question. Sorry.

I do the journal thing, where I actually write things with a pen. I also tend to carry a small Mead notebook with me most times where I write random things that I might find useful down the road. I write them down, because my memory stinks.

Sometimes I look back on some stuff that makes no sense to me though. Like this I just found: "Survived 17 of his end of time predictions." I have no idea what that means, but it must have meant something at the time I wrote it. It was probably funny at the time.

What worries me most though is I wonder if I say stuff like that too. Stuff that makes sense to me at the time, but makes no sense to anyone else. I'm pretty sure I do. Oh well. If Mr. Rushdie can tweet Kim Kardashian limmericks, I recon I'm allowed the random nonsensical thoughts too.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

It's good to know I’m following Ernest Hemingway's advice:
"Writers should work alone. They should see each other only after their work is done, and not too often then. Otherwise they become like the writers in New York."

The Atlantic Wire notes today that Barnes & Noble’s “floorplan changes will lead to fewer books in its bookstores.”

From The Guardian: Philip Connors worked for several years at the Wall Street Journal. In 2002, he left the paper for a seasonal job with the US Forest Service in New Mexico, where he has worked 10 summers as a fire lookout in the Gila National Forest. Here are his top 10 wilderness books.

Alma Guillermoprieto has an eye-opening essay in the New York Review of Books looking at the Mexican drug violence: Day of the 40,000 dead.

Hey, let’s hear it for my Norse ancestors! We may be plundering brutes, but we don’t get lost. How was it possible for Vikings to navigate their ships in heavy fog? From Discovery.

Don’t tell my boy, but video gaming may make kids more creative.

And finally, to help you get started on your Christmas list, for the woman who has everything:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Author Don Hardy and his wife, Becky, will be in the Black Hills for a series of book signings for Hardy’s book, “Shooting from the Lip: The Life of Senator Al Simpson.” Here's the Rapid City Journal story.

When: 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, at Common Grounds in Spearfish;
10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, Black Hills Bagels, Rapid City;
2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, Belle Fourche Library;
2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, The Journey Museum, Rapid City
Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming was known for his straight talk and his lively encounters with the press. No one knows that better than Don Hardy, who served as the feisty Republican senator's press secretary and chief of staff during his three terms in the U.S. Senate.

"I think I'm the only person who survived all 18 years in Washington," Hardy said. "I wouldn't have done it for anyone else. After he was elected, I helped load his stuff when he moved in, and when he moved out, I was there, too."

Thought provoking? Or just provocative?

Every once in a while you run across a surprising, independent thought by a newspaper columnist. And I used to be one, so I know how difficult that can be. What makes this so unique to me is who it is that is going against the grain and against conventional wisdom. It's a garden blog writer, Rhonda Hayes, taking on the Pink industry. Interesting ... Put Off By Pink
Two years ago I found myself dreading October and all the pink crap that goes with it. You see, those of us with more than a nodding acquaintance with breast cancer (and our numbers grow bigger every year) don't need a publicity campaign to keep it "top of mind". We know it every day, by the scars on our chests and the holes in our hearts. We know it by absence; through the empty spots at our family gatherings. If you want to know the truth, we'd like to not think about it now and then.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Still no call from the Noble Prize people

I was hoping I had an "in" with those Norwegians.

Bad news, good news: Bad is that Vince Flynn's next novel has been delayed due to pain and tiredness from cancer treatment. Good is that Doc says he will be better than ever. Star-Trib reports.

And what's this doorknob's problem? Elitist much?

I guess he hasn't read Tom Dorsey's novels. I just finished Triggerfish Twist and Cadillac Beach. They are over-the-top funny.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Haugen Hump Day link-o-rama

Jill Callison of the Argus Leader tells about a couple other dudes from Canton (hometown of yours truly) who made it big. Not big enough to have their own blog! But pretty big ...
Even though his mother said he was "born grown up," no one living in Canton in the early 1900s would have predicted that Ernest Lawrence would be the first South Dakotan to receive the Nobel Prize.

Nor would they have expected that two playmates also would win worldwide renown.

And I could've sworn this said: A Guide to Books

I may have to add this one to the Amazon shopping cart: "Mom’s a Drunk, Dad’s a Writer: A Recipe for Disaster and a Memoir" Here's the NY Times review.

This dude at The Guardian blesses us with his list of the top 10 books of the 1980s. I may have to delve into these as well, because if it wasn't written on the back of a beer bottle in the 80s, I probably missed it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Law enforcement has been notified

They're saying this could be bigger than The Rally. But "they" were really drunk when they said it.

From the fine folks at the Sturgis Area Arts Council:

Meet Author Mark Haugen

“Joshua’s Ladder” author Mark Haugen will be featured at a book signing on Tuesday, September 27 from 5:30-7:00pm at the Sturgis Public Library. He will talk about his writing around 6:00p.m. Copies of his book will be available for purchase as well as signing during the event.

“Joshua’s Ladder” follows Joshua Miller from depths of despair to heights of love; from South Dakota to Florida. Along the way Joshua’s love for the woman he saved from drowning is unquestionable, friendships he made unflappable, but his demons unmovable.” A reader found his “characters entertaining, charismatic and very well developed.”

Haugen has worked as a journalist for several newspapers in southeast South Dakota and across the border into Minnesota. At home near Rapid City, he lives with his wife, three teenagers, two dogs, and (formerly) Johnnie Depp, the pet rabbit. Besides writing, he enjoys running and gardening.

Refreshments will be provided by GFWC Sturgis Woman’s Literary Club, who share sponsorship of the event with the Sturgis Public Library and Sturgis Area Arts Council. If you have questions, please contact Dorothy Pulscher, 720-5467.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Norwegian TV keeps us in suspense

My former fantasy football league-mate Tom Lawrence of the Mitchell Daily Republic tells about a Faith, SD, resident about to be made famous on Norwegian television:
Did you hear the one about the Norwegian TV crew in South Dakota?

Don’t laugh. This isn’t another Ole and Lena joke.

A crew from a Norwegian production company is coming to the state this month to tape scenes for a series that will run next year on Norwegian TV.

The TV hosts are Esdwsben Selvig, who is called “Danish” and Thomas Gullestad, who is known as “The Finger.”

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Family tree lands on FB

As much of a time suck as it can be, Facebook has its virtues. Recently I was invited into the Renli Family group, a pretty exclusive hoity-toity group of Norwegian-rooted South Dakota ag families who have sprawled out over time.

It must be part of getting old when you start paying attention to ancestorial family tree type stuff, because I know I never used to care when my dad would explain to me about some great aunt who was the cousin of a fella who played baseball for the Triple A Mudcats of the Yankton League in 1927. Yet, now it seems somewhat more interesting and Dad isn't around to re-tell the story to a pair of re-interested ears. My bad.

So I'm in this club from the other side of my family now. My mother's maiden name was Renli. Her dad was Clayton. His dad was Olaf. His dad was Ole. Somebody in the Renli group recently posted a picture of Ole and his wife, Anne, from when they homesteaded in South Dakota in the 1860s, almost three decades before S.D. statehood. Olaf was a handsome, fully-bearded fellow. Anne, unfortunately, was also a handome, fully-bearded felllow; or maybe the politically correct term is that she was a "sturdy woman." My son looked at the picture and first thing he said of her was: "Is that a unabrow?" Yup. And he better watch it, because I'm pretty sure that unabrow could come back and kick his scrawny teenage butt to kingdom-come.

According to my calculations, that makes me a fifth-generation South Dakota, and better yet makes my kids sixth-generation South Dakotans. And fortunately, for my girls, the five generations in between managed to dilute the unabrow gene pool and replace the sturdiness factor with long, slender legs. Hopefully, though, they will be just as tough as their great-great-great grandma had to be.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Wikipoopin out?

I haven't been following the Gossip Girl goings-on that Wikipedia is supposedly running out of gas. But this story explains it pretty well:

Wikipedia, operated by the not-for-profit Wikimedia Foundation, is a volunteer enterprise. Writers and editors are not paid for their time. And now, ten years after Wikipedia’s launch, many of those contributors have moved on with their lives. (Another reason many Wikipedia writers have given for bailing out is that some of the site’s volunteer editors, displaying the all-too-common combination of ignorance and arrogance, clumsily compromise the quality of their work.)

An additional challenge is that the longtime contributors who remain, and the newcomers who have logged on more recently, are running out of things to write about.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tough week

I got bit by a dog yesterday, and now this ...

I'm far from a computer geek, but I'm not inept. I self-published a book, uploaded it Amazon, built my own blog, in fact had one of the first blogs for a newspaper in SD, but I'll be danged if I can get this stupid Twitter link to appear on the side of this blog. I have the code. I copy and paste it in every place I can think of. But it doesn't show up except if I do it in a post like this.

Maybe I am inept.

So here it is:

I've had the Twitter account for some time just to follow some people I'm interested in, but I've never actually Tweeted. Yes, a Twitter virgin.

But if I get a handful of followers I may just Tweet on occassion, if for no other reason than to frighten some people close to me. Follow me and I'll follow you and we'll get lost in the moment together.

I wonder if he's read Joshua's Ladder?

Like most of you, I have some guilty pleasures. For instance, I'll watch SpongeBob Squarepants any time, any day of the week. I also like Enrique Inglesias music, not nearly as much as I like Prince, but I don't feel guilty about loving Prince. I am proud to be the biggest Prince fan in South Dakota. Enrique? Eh, not something I brag about.

Perhaps my biggest guilty pleasure is being a Minnesota Viking fan, but I'm not sure if they could be described in any way with the word "pleasure."

None-the-less, I don't talk much sports here, but will in this instance mention the Vikings' punter Chris Kluwe and point you to this story in the Star-Tribune: Kluwe's a Renaissance man for the Internet age

He doesn't sound like your typical football player. One teammate says:
"When I first saw him punt, I thought he was phenomenally talented. Then I came over here from Green Bay and realized that football was just a means of supporting all of the other things he wants to do in life.

"I think guys know what you get with Chris, which is a very, very intellectual guy. So if people give him grief, they've got to be ready to take some grief back, because he's a lot smarter than a lot of the guys around here."

I can relate

"Every morning between 9 and 12, I go to my room and sit before a piece of paper. Many times, I just sit for three hours with no ideas coming to me. But I know one thing. If an idea does come between 9 and 12, I am there ready for it."
- Flannery O'Connor

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Some links and a review

The newest reader review on Smashwords was 5 stars and has all the astronomers talking:
"Really enjoyed this book. Joshua and his "climb" was really interesting and kept me wondering what would be next throughout the book. Joshua was easy to like and so were the rest of the characters in the book. I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a quick fun read. Am wondering what will happen to Joshua next..."

And don't sue me for missing the last couple Haugen Hump Day Link-o-Ramas. Besides, there are much better reasons to sue me than that. So here are some link-worthy linky things:

I'm always up for a good war-buddy reunion story. So there's this from the Star-Trib:
The last time they saw one another was late October 1944. Marine pilot Lloyd Flynn and his gunner mate Dan Williams said goodbye on Engebi Island in the South Pacific after eight months of flying missions together in a two-person warplane.

On Thursday, the two World War II vets saw each other for the first time since that farewell, this time outside Flynn's home in Edina.

"Captain, how are you?" said Williams as he stepped sprightly out of a vehicle, saluted and stretched out his hand, laughing.

Flynn was too choked up to say anything at first, and the two buddies, stooped with age, just hugged.

"I told Bruce it'd be emotional, and it is," Flynn finally choked out. "Son of a gun, how are you?"

I ran across a list of 15 books your kids should read, according to somebdy I never heard of. I'm surprised ol' Harry Potter isn't on there. I've personally never read a Potter book, though I caught a couple movies, but I credit that series with getting my daughters into reading.

As for book series, I was big into the Encyclopedia Brown and Hardy Boys books as a kid. The series I also read which aren't on this list include the Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan series and bookshelves full of Louis L'Amour books my grandma Renli had.

Today's tweeners most likely only know of the Tarzan movie. Would be nice if they knew he wrote over 20 Tarzan books. Hey, tell somebody! Ed's first Tarzan book (his friends call him Ed) came out in 1912. That shows a good imagination, unlike milk, doesn't have an expiration date. He wrote over 70 books total. You can access the Tarzan ebooks for free at Gutenberg.

With L'Amour, a North Dakota boy, I felt like I practically grew up with the Sacketts and that series of books. All told, LL had 89 novels. It's amazing to me how prolific some of those writers were.

So next time your kid says" I'm bored!", introduce him to Barnabas Sackett.

Here's one guy's list and the link to the story:

15. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
14. Asterix
13. Charlotte’s Web
12. Childhood of Famous Americans
11. Encyclopedia Brown
10. The Hardy Boys
9. Have Space-Suit, Will Travel
8. Homer Price
7. The Mad Scientists’ Club
6. Mrs. Coverlet Novels
5. The Spaceship Under the Apple Tree
4. Tom Swift, Jr.
3. The Three Investigators
2. My Side Of The Mountain
1. The Chronicles of Narnia

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Cassiopeia (5 star) review

Yeah, either I really know my astronomy or know how to use the Google machine. You guess which.

It's always nice to click on ol' and see a new five-star review pop up. This one for Joshua's Ladder, the e-book version:
"I thoroughly loved reading this book, I was hooked from the start and found myself laughing on one page and crying on the next. The characters are entertaining, charismatic and very well developed as is the plot. Being a resident of the Black Hills of South Dakota I loved the familiarity of the setting. I would highly recommend this book... can't wait to start reading the sequel!"

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Haugen Hump Day link-o-rama

This week, featuring stories in the great South Dakota towns of Mitchell, Onida and DeSmet ...

The Mitchell Daily Republic tells us about this 98-year-old first-time author (Good for her!):
God has always had a strong presence in Lorraine Wise’s life. Now, God has a presence in her new 166-page book, “God is Real: Excerpts from my Spiritual Journey through 78 Years.”

Wise will hold a book signing from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday at the Reader’s Den, Mitchell, promoting the publication, which she wrote when she was 97. The book’s subtitle refers to the number of years since Wise’s spiritual awakening as a young woman.

Wise, who is now 98, said the idea for the book came to her about 15 years ago, during a reunion with two of her closest friends.

And we're always up for a good rodeo here in the Black Hills. We'll soon see if that allure is worldwide, as Amanda Fanger of the Onida Watchman explains:
Sutton Rodeos of Onida are set to participate in a world-changing event – the first ever rodeo in China.

Called Rodeo China, the event is one of historic proportions. This 8-day rodeo will take place at the National Stadium in Beijing, China. It is being organized by Less and Forever More, Inc., an organization started by Richard and Carrie Tucker.

Jill Callison of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader writes about the 40th anniversary of the Laura Ingalls Wilder pagent in DeSmet.
If Charles Ingalls had his way, his family's stay in De Smet would have been brief.

"Given his own way, it seems to me, Charles would have gone into the sunset forever," says Marian Cramer, referring to the wanderlust that took Ingalls and his family more than 1,500 miles in a covered wagon.

But Charles Ingalls had married a woman much less inclined to roam. Caroline Ingalls made him promise to take a railroad job that brought the couple and their four daughters to Silver Lake in Dakota Territory.

And she made him promise to stay.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Just a heads up to you Kindleheads out there. Amy's Ladder is now available in ebook form at Amazon.

So as not to be confused, or to confuse you more, Amy's Ladder is the sequel to Joshua's Ladder in the ebook format.

In the paperback format, Joshua's Ladder includes the Amy sequel. Got it?

OH! And I received my first-ever royalty check today! Not Koontzian, but it's a start.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hump day link-o-rama

*** I've written before of my respect for former Argus Leader sportswriter John Egan and how honored I was to work with him and to call him a friend. The Argus has a story about his book, Drop Him Till He Dies.
Imagine growing up believing your father had murdered your mother and had been executed for the crime.

Or that your grandfather had murdered your grandmother and was hanged for it but knowing little else.

Or knowing nothing about it at all.

That was the situation John Egan found himself in 30 years ago when an Argus Leader co-worker writing a story about capital punishment nonchalantly asked, "How come you never said anything to me about Thomas Egan?"

"Who's that?" Egan replied.

*** Bill Keller, executive editor of the NY Times, laments how most of his staff is out writing books instead of doing their jobs. One of his funnier columns.

*** And finally, a good ol' small-town newspaper, the Freeman Courier, has a nice story about a good ol' small-town church celebrating its 125th anniversity.
The people of Salem Mennonite Brethren come together to celebrate 125 years with appreciation, reverence, pride and a renewed call to make 'little things become large.'

Friday, July 1, 2011

Interesting stuff, literally

Last year Ledbury poetry festival asked poets to name their most hated words. For this year's festival – running from 1 to 10 July – they've asked for the expressions that have become such cliches that they have lost all meaning. Here are their responses.

Veto Von Botherland, was born in Germany, he understands German, responds to German and enjoys German Schutzhund Sport. So what is so special about Veto Von Botherland? Veto is the first German Shepard canine with a position on the Black Hills National Forest. Check it out.

Denver's Tattered Cover Book Store has been a focal point for the city's literary community since 1974. Owner Joyce Meskis explains the challenges of operating an independent bookstore in an ever-changing climate, and the future she sees for the nation's independent booksellers. NPR has the story.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Nice lil' 5-star review on Amazon

LOVED this book!!, June 23, 2011
Amazon Verified Purchase
This review is from: Joshua's Ladder (Paperback)
I am a voracious reader, mostly of non-fiction (politics, current events and history) along with Christian-based books. A friend recommended Jacob's Ladder and I'm so glad they did. I really enjoyed getting to know Joshua and his life story, staring in South Dakota, then to Cocoa Beach and back. The characters in the book are unique and the author really makes them come alive. If you are from the Midwest, there is going to be a lot to recognize in the story. There are surprise twists throughout the book, which are actually two stories (Joshua's Ladder and Amy's Ladder). A couple shocking developments made me hunger for more. I would HIGHLY recommend this book to everyone and I look forward to more of Mr. Haugen's writings in the future. A wonderful book!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Tiger Mom, meet Irish Setter Dad

One of the more talked about books this past year was Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and what is the best way to raise your kid. Seems the basic question is: Do you raise them to be career/money oriented or do you raise them to be happy?

P.J. O’Rourke offers his thoughts in this column “Irish Setter Dad.” (You have to sign in, but it's free.) Here's a snippet:
"My kids fit the success profile. I’ll bet Muffin and Poppet are accepted at the University of Idaho, assuming Wii is a Title IX thing. And Buster will be waving goodbye to Harvard while he’s still in junior high.

Amy Chua, I’ve got bad news. “A” students work for “B” students. Or not even. A businessman friend of mine corrected me. “No, P. J.,” he said, “ ‘B’ students work for ‘C’ students. ‘A’ students teach.” Teaching in the Ivy League gives you a lot of time off, Amy—enough to write a crap book, worse than Yale prof Erich Segal’s Love Story. Maybe when you get some time off again you should come to rural New Hampshire and meet the Irish Setter Dad children.

Buster, age 7, is a master of passive resistance who can turn staying up past his bedtime into Tahrir Square. He could hire himself out as a civil disobedience coach to Mahatma -Gandhi and Martin Luther King, if they weren’t dead. Poppet, 10, is a persuasive saleswoman, not to say charming con artist, who can hand you a sheet of black construction paper with a hole in it and convince you it’s a science project on collapsed super-novas. And Muffin, 13, has her own .410 shotgun and knows how to use it.

Try your Chinese Tiger Mom stuff on my kids."

In my mind, O’Rourke has managed an incredible career by appealing to the diverse audiences of The Atlantic Monthly, The American Spectator and The Weekly Standard, as well as viewers of Bill Maher and listeners of NPR. Author of 16 books, he is considered the most quoted living man. Don’t doubt me, Wikipedia says so!

In a 2008 LA Times column, O’Rourke shares his take on mortality, after learning that he had:
“of all the inglorious things, a malignant hemorrhoid. What color bracelet does one wear for that? And where does one wear it? And what slogan is apropos? Perhaps that slogan can be sewn in needlepoint around the ruffle on a cover for my embarrassing little doughnut buttocks pillow.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Okay, I'm going to start stepping it up here. Lately I've been busy, distracted and generally unmotivated. But that's about to change. So let's go to the mail bag with questions and comments from actual people who actually interact with me via email, Facebook, phone or at baseball games.

From a guy with too much time on his hands in Faith, SD: "Finished reading Joshua's Ladder this weekend (family travel - so it was also the first book I read on my phone). I'm ready for the next rung on the Ladder! I hope his next love interest has a less hazardous occupation :-) It was great! Good Job!"

My first thought is of my grandpa Clayton Renli and what he would think if I were to flash back 40 years and say to him: "Hey, Grandpa, I just read a book on my phone." He'd probably ask: "Mark, have you been drinking out of the cattle tank again?"

I still remember Grandpa and Grandma's party line phone and the two rings that were theirs. Sometimes I would "accidently" pick up the phone on other rings and listen to others talk until somebody said: "Hey! Is there somebody else on the line?" Then I'd hang up, though I think the guy from NSA stayed on. That was probably the first evidence to suggest I might someday become a nosey journalist.

FYI, my grandma Lydia's best friends were named (and this is not a joke): Alma, Selma, Thelma and Helma. And Selma (this is not a joke) was married to Selmer. More proof that God has a sense of humor.

From an in-law, so doesn't really count as an actual person: "So Joshua's Ladder in ebook is different than Joshua's Ladder in paperback? Wha?"

Yes, those in-laws are easily confused. Here's a publishing update on all things Haugenish. I'm typing slowly so everybody will understand.

Joshua's Ladder ebook - Is available for every kind of ereader known to mankind. You can access them all at (even a Kindle version) but if you are a hard-core Kindle user and cling to your Amazon website like your first teen love, it is also now available at Seems originally Smashwords thought it was close to cutting a deal with Amazon to have their books distributed there, but it fell through. But that doesn't affect you now. All is good.

Amy's Ladder ebook - This is the sequel to Joshua's Ladder. It's been finished for a couple years and I was going to publish it later this year but changed my mind. Two reasons: 1, a few sad-sack weepy readers were so angst-ridden over the ending of JL that I thought I better get AL published for their own mental well-being (compassion is my middle name); 2, see below.

Joshua's Ladder paperback version - The paperback version also contains Amy's Ladder. This will appease the previously mentioned issue of distraught readers and basically gives you old-fashioned book readers a two-fer. This is available at for a very reasonable price of $14.95, if I say so myself. You can also ask your favorite brick and mortar bookstore to order it for you, and then when enough people ask they will catch a clue and just stock the dang book. It will also soon be available at the world famous Wall Drug bookstore and some other elite sales outlets across the Rushmore State.

And, lastly, from a Haugen groupie/reader from Rapid City, SD: "Reading this on my vacation in England. Well, when I'm not at the pubs. Loving it so far!"

Keep on drinking, baby. It gets better with every sip.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Now in Paperback: Joshua's Ladder

I have it on good authority that if Oprah hadn't retired last month, Joshua's Ladder was next on her Oprah Book Club. Such is my luck.

Sooooo, we'll have to settle for announcing it on this blog. Joshua's Ladder is now available in paperback! At the low, low price of just $14.95.


The paperback version is extra good because it combine's Joshua's Ladder and the sequel, Amy's Ladder, all into one easy to read book. As e-books, those two were, at least for the last two days, the top sellers at independent book publisher (and you can also get my Hitchhiker short stories there for free).

It's really worked out quite well as I've had over 1,500 downloads of the e-books and now the paperback version is out on their heels.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Check out my close personal friend Mr. Bill (he took the interview more seriously)

Bill Flynn is a featured author in this weeks “E”ndependent Publishers $2.99 Ebook Club enewsletter in the "general fiction" category.

Reasons/Motivations/Inspirations Behind Why I Wrote The Feathery

I started in golf as a caddie at 12 years old. Caddies were allowed to play free on Mondays. I worked at a golf course assisting the greens keeper during high school and continued to play and become enamored by the game.

Fast forward to my adult year … as an aerospace engineer I worked in Naples, Italy, Paris France and The Hague, Netherlands over a period of ten years. While in those countries I played golf there as well as in Scotland, England and Ireland. The Feathery is set at the golf courses of Turnberry and St. Andrews, Scotland for the golf segments. London and Ireland provide a venue for drama in the book.

While in Europe I attended four British Open Tournaments and one Ryder Cup. Back in the United States I followed an acquaintance PGA Professional from Q-School and behind the ropes at The Masters. This gave me insight into the atmosphere and play at those major championships and helped me to create that same atmosphere in The Feathery.

After retiring from Aerospace, I started a golf product export business. As part of this I was consigned a collection of golf antiques and memorabilia. This took me to Japan and back to Europe in an attempt to sell them. Included in the collection were several feathery golf balls made and played at St. Andrews, Scotland in the 1800’s. I didn’t sell the collection, but feathery balls became my mantra of interest. I researched the method of manufacturing the ball and its history when used in play at St. Andrews. I decided to write a work of fiction with a valuable and most sought after feathery ball used during a record round being an object of collector greed. Besides golf play I wrapped this feathery ball in the story around teenage defiance, foreign intrigue, sleuthing, suspense and romance.

It took me about five years to complete the book. It was accepted by a traditional publisher, Sleeping Bear Press out of Michigan with a $2500.00 advance. Half way through my work with that publisher’s editor, Sleeping Bear was sold to Clock Tower Press. The new CEO decided not to do fiction. I was able to keep the advance because of a clause in my contract stating in effect; that if the publisher changed his mode of doing business the advance would be retained by the author. I self-published with Booksurge in 2007 and since then I’ve sold a total of 612 books through bookstores, book signings, direct sales and Amazon.

About the book: Scott Beckman inherits an antique feathery golf ball used in 1849 during a record match at St. Andrews, Scotland from his mentor, a golf professional, Sandy McNair. Sandy’s intervention had kept Scott and his best friend, Matt Kemp, away from juvenile delinquency by involving them in the game of golf. Scott moves on with Matt as his caddie to play on the PGA Tour. After running out of funds to stay on tour Scott reluctantly submits the valuable antique feathery ball, bequeathed to him by Sandy, to an auction in London. Ironically, after doing so, his earnings on tour start to soar. Scott removes the feathery from the auction much to the chagrin of those who were set on possessing this treasured artifact. One collector’s obsession is so strong he’ll murder and rob to own it.

Scott leaves the solution of murder and robbery up to Chief Inspector Bradshaw of Scotland Yard and Detective Riley of the NYPD while he continues play at the British Open. But his good play there against hot competition is interrupted when his caddie and friend, Matt Kemp, is abducted. A threatening note demanding Scott’s withdrawal leaves the tournament leader with no alternative … unless Scotland Yard’s quick intervention is successful.

About the Author: Bill Flynn is a retired aerospace engineer who lives in New Hampshire with wife, Barbara. His follow-on career was devoted to golf product exporting. Both careers took him to the places where his book, The Feathery, is set. He has been fortunate to have played imperfect golf on many of the perfect golf courses on this planet. Bill’s first novel, A Deadly Class Reunion was published in 2004 and available on Bill’s work in process (working title: A Drumbeat Too Near) is about the adventures of three boys on Cape Cod in the 1940′s while German submarines lurk off shore. One sub launches two spies, and the boys stumble in on their covert mission. The back story describes the life and love of a German U-Boat commander who is not as enthralled by the Nazi regime as some of those in his crew.

Buy The Feathery at Amazon by clicking HERE.