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So now that the tall ships have nearly sailed away, let's reflect on another phenomenon that could also be labeled a complete waste of time: the Summer Olympics. I'm kidding, of course. The Summer Olympics were actually quite amazing, with fast swimmers, nimble gymnasts and green swimming pools as far as stinging eyes could see. What I meant to say was that the Summer Olympics were a complete waste of time ... for me.
So this summer I have encountered the most cunning, the most devious, the most brilliant criminal mind I have ever battled in my 50-plus years on this planet. Obviously, it is not Donald Trump (I said "brilliant," remember) but my newfound adversary does have something else in common with that goofy man in the bushy hair: They're both members of the rodent family.
So this weekend, a local icon celebrates 50 years of entertaining the Northland. Not the Club Saratoga, although that establishment has entertained us for many years. (Relax! I'm talking about their Saturday jazz sessions. As far as you know.) No, the big 50th anniversary party is for the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, or as it's more commonly referred to around here, That Place That Used to be Called the Arena.
So, in the world of understatements ... "The Northland sure has had an interesting summer season." ... is right up there with ... "Republicans sure have nominated an interesting presidential nominee." ... if by "interesting," you mean "HORRIFYING AND DISASTROUS!!" I'm telling you, it's the End of Days, people! Look at everything that's happened around here, just since Memorial Day: XXXXXX BULLET POINTS XXXXXXXXXXX • The second 100-Year Flood in less than five years!
So we're smack dab in the middle of summer festival season and if you've ever had your dab smacked, you know just how painful that can be. But wear a long coat and nobody'll notice the ice pack used to reduce swelling. Now where was I? Oh, yes. Summer festivals.
So I've been feeling lethargic lately, but it isn't because I realized that our country could soon be run by the Stay-Puft Tangerine Man. No, the reason I've been drooling, dimwitted and Trump-like lately is because I haven't had my morning coffee in over a week. In fact, I haven't had ANY coffee — morning, noon or middle of the night — since my coffeemaker mysteriously conked out on June 24 at 6:34 a.m. (I recorded all the facts in case I was called to testify after the neighbors heard the bloodcurdling bellowing that began promptly at 6:35 a.m.)
So, as they do every Fourth of July weekend, the sounds of liberty surround us out here in West Duluth: the innocent laughter of children, the tiny pops of small fireworks, the unexpected BOOM! of a teenager's larger bottle rocket, the momentary stunned silence, followed by frantic screaming, furious yelling and the insistent wailing of an ambulance down Grand Avenue.
So it's 2016. Where are the flying cars? Plus, I'm still waiting on the zombie apocalypse (although Canal Park was recently filled with shuffling, sunken-eyed, pale cadavers), robot governments (the Duluth School Board only seems to lack a human thought process) and TV weather people with accurate forecasts. None of it has materialized yet. Including the invasion of the army worms.
So the sun came out in Duluth, which means it's tourist time. But not just any tourist time, mind you. Thanks to the special brand of sweating and running and drinking and falling over (sometimes all at once) tourist, this early summer time is unique. It's called Grandma's Marathon.