The New Viking Stadium — A Death Trap for Birds!

The New Vikings stadium
The New Vikings stadium

(Inspired by a story by Rochelle Olson.)

The news is horrific – O, have you not heard?

The Vikings arena is death to the bird!

Indigo buntings and migrating geese

Will hit the tall glass and then quickly decease.


Their carcasses strewn cross the path of the crowd

Will cause consternation and weeping out loud.

And all that is needed is glass of a type

That will keep away hummingbirds, robins and snipe.


It is pockmarked with holes to prevent passerines

From turning into feathered fowl smithereens.

But stadium advocates want no delay;

And so it’s the lark they will heedlessly slay!


Hockey in Arizona?


A hockey puck in Arizona seems almost a vice,

When you stop to think how hard it is to make good ice.

In a country shimmering with torrid sun and heat,

A Zamboni’s as out of place as rattle snakes with feet.


But there are hardy sojourners from Canada who claim

That Arizona is THE place to play a hockey game.

They train their sons to body check and be a prime goaltender;

How to take a slap shot, and a left wing lock to render.


But where to find a hockey coach in all this sand and cacti?

Competition’s very keen, and isn’t very black-tie.

The money spent on hockey by these parents is outrageous;

But then, the folly of the sport has always been contagious.

Ode to Baseball Cards.


I never met a baseball card I hated off the bat.

The gum was rotten but the cards were (excuse the phrase) real phat.

Earl Battey was my fav’rite, even though a Killebrew

Was worth a dozen Tootsie Rolls or Turkish Taffy chew.


How innocent those pastimes seem, when Eisenhower ruled;

And all the world by Khrushchev came so near to being fooled.

In school we hid beneath our desks in case an atom bomb

Happened to explode nearby and spoil our grade school calm.


At home my mother hoarded Green Stamp books like bars of gold;

She wanted to save up and get a hide-a-bed that rolled.

And so we spent allowances at all the candy shops

To buy a Mickey Mantle from a company named Topps.


Ice Fishing with Uncle Jim.



( takes pleasure in presenting further outdoor annals of our armchair explorer, and also reminds readers that there is still time to order and receive merchandise from for the trekker and outdoorsperson in your life for the Holidays.  They offer a complete line of camping, hiking, and emergency preparedness gear.)


The Minnesota autumn is a wanton and treacherous season.  Cool nights and bright, crisp, warm days lull the inhabitants of Sleepy Eye, Bemidji, and Saint Paul into a false sense of security and comfort.  ‘Surely these halcyon days will continue indefinitely’ thinks the unwary hiker as he or she basks in the blazing glory of hardwood foliage turning red and orange and yellow.  The lakes and streams continue to offer unparalleled fishing in mellow peace and quiet . . .

Then WHAM!  The skies turn a leaden gray and great gobs of snow fall from the heavens as if hurled by Odin himself.  The metamorphosis is sudden, dramatic – and depressing.

The outdoors is no longer wreathed in a welcoming and sunny smile.  The polar winds howl and the coniferous trees rub their needled branches together in sadistic pleasure like a villain in a melodrama rubbing his hands in anticipation of foreclosing on a mortgage.

But my Uncle Jim had a sovereign remedy for the winter blues.  Ice fishing.

He would call me to say “Hey, dere, Timmy – you vant tew go out on da lake, dere?  It vill sheer yew up like nutting else!”  I always replied in the affirmative.

Right after Thanksgiving, or as soon as the ice was thick enough, he pulled his ice fishing shack out onto White Bear Lake to begin the age-old ritual of man vs fish, fueled by Hamm’s Beer and a black and white television set that broadcast North Star hockey games with a blurry, fuzzy nimbus.

The shack had no floor to speak of – it was deleted in order to offer more scope for the drilling of holes in the ice.  Using a hand-held auger, Uncle Jim patiently turned the crank until the icy blue water came gurgling up around his galoshes.  To scoop out the slush he liberated one of Aunt Cecelia’s ladles (a crime for which he was never caught).

Having cut off part of his thumb while working as a butcher, Uncle Jim received a generous Workman’s Comp package, and so was at leisure to fish each day all winter.  I joined him on the weekends.

Back then nobody but Thurston Howell the Third on Gilligan’s Island would think of buying anything brand new for ice fishing.  Uncle Jim’s shack was a patched-together, jury-rigged affair made from scraps left over from his remodeling the basement into a rumpus room.  His fishing rod was an ancient bundle of bamboo splinters kept together with black electrical tape.  A tin lard bucket served for bait, and for dumping in any fish he might catch.

It took me a while to catch on to the fact that the main idea behind ice fishing was not to catch fish but to get out of the house and away from Aunt Cecilia.  She often said that she would not be caught dead in that disgraceful piece of rubbish that Uncle Jim had christened “The Lucky Fish & Chowder Club”.

I, on the other hand, was dead serious about catching some Northern or crappie or bass for the dinner table.  My mother was a dab hand at frying fresh fish fillets.

So while Uncle Jim would spend tedious hours fiddling with his broken-down television set in the vain attempt to get a clear picture, and drinking draft after draft of Hamms, I hovered over the icy hole with my rod, willing the passing fish to seize my bait and become an accompaniment to mashed potatoes and green peas.  It did not take long for my tootsies, even though shod in thick winter boots and swaddled in thick wool socks, to ache with the cold as if they were being held in a narrowing vice.

My luck, or skill, varied.  Some days I hauled ‘em in like nobody’s business.  Other days nothing offered but trash like carp or sunnies so miniscule they could have passed for pet gold fish.

Inevitably, Uncle Jim waited until the last possible moment to pull his fish house off of the ice as spring approached.

The year I turned sixteen he missed his window of opportunity – or, as Maxwell Smart would say, “Missed it by THAT much!”

He drove his truck down the winding path to White Bear Lake one fine morning only to find his fishing house mimicking the Titanic, slowing sinking beneath the icy slush.

He never built another fishing shack, but instead stoically went out fishing in the dead of winter sans shelter; he drilled his hole and sat on his tin lard bucket waiting for the fish to bite.  Anything was better than staying home all day with . . . well, no need to repeat myself.

I’m ashamed to say I’ve never taken my own kids out ice fishing.  Where I live it just doesn’t get that cold.  Besides, I gave up drinking beer years ago.

Sandy Alderson’s Folly. (Or, Ode to the Mets.)


When you want more homeruns you must think outside the box,

Or rather think outside the FENCE that homeruns always blocks.

That is what the Mets have done, and other baseball teams

Will take their cue from Sandy Alderson for homerun dreams.


Sandy’s moving in the center right field fence, you see,

At the Citi Field so that his team makes history.

I approve his strategy and look for mighty deeds

From the players – but I wonder where the heck this leads?


Will goalies now play hockey with a fishnet at their side?

Will goal posts in a football game now stretch out much more wide?

Will golfers now use TNT to blast away all berms?

Verily, old Sandy’s opened up a can of worms!

The Medicated Quarterback.


Football teams are rife with medics happy to prescribe

Prophylactic anodynes to all their bruising tribe.

An open secret in the locker room for years gone by,

Percocet and Toradol keep players mighty spry.


The N.F.L. is fighting lawsuits by their former players,

Who claim they were misled by team doctors as soothsayers.

Now they are addicted and quite addled in their psyche,

And cannot recall all their lines when they’re touting Nike.


The DEA investigates abuse of Novocain;

Is it used to mask concussions and resulting pain?

But so far agents go to games and then, upon reflection,

Quiz a doctor or a nurse and call it an ‘inspection’.