Monday, December 17, 2012

SantaCon and me...

We just returned from a short holiday vacation in New York City. New York really is the holiday headquarters for the world, it seems. Santas on every corner during SantaCon (read about that HERE), a cheerful Hannukkah parade down Fifth Avenue... and so much more. Below are some photos. 
Enjoy and stay tuned...
SantaCon and me
Fifth Avenue Santas  on Saturday, December 15, 2012
Rockefeller Center Skating Rink
Times Square

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Duluth's Bentleyville in national news this holiday

photo from
Diane Sawyer sent a "postcard from Duluth" on last night's ABC World News program. She ended the news report with a video of our own Bentleyville, telling the story of how one man's backyard display now graces our town's Bayfront Festival Park. Sawyer also mentined Grandma's Restaurant and their popular onion rings.

I love Bentleyville and Grandma's... but am not a fan of onion rings. I know, it's almost un-American to not like onion rings, but I just don't care for them.  I don't like raisins either and I get a lot of flack from my family about that. My granddaughter, at a recent grandparent's day celebration at her school, drew a picture of me at the dining room table exclaiming, "Ick, raisins!" ...with the whole family surrounding me in disbelief.

You've got to visit Duluth during the holidays for our winter fun activities and for the magic of Bentleyville. This photo (above) was on the Bentleyville web site. Check it out HERE for more photos and information about Duluth's magical winter wonderland holiday display!  Thank you Mr. Bentley! 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Snowstorm at Fitgers..

Hey... come on out and venture forth in the snowstorm tomorrow (read about it HERE) and come to The Bookstore at Fitgers in Duluth! 

I'll be there from 1-2 pm signing books and welcoming the crowd... and would love to see you there! 

And... if you're still doing your Christmas shopping, don't forget to stop by and visit Sally or one of her crew at Duluth's only Indie, The Bookstore at Fitgers, and buy my signed book any time. Of course you can also stop by Barnes and Noble you'll find a stock of signed books there as well.

Just in case you're brand new to me and my book, Cooler Near the Lake, here's what has been written about it to catch you up. (Yes, it's shameless promoting... but that's what one's gotta do to sell a book!)

From a recent marketing blurb....
"Cooler Near the Lake is a book that collects 52 of Jim Heffernan’s classic newspaper columns originally written for the Duluth News Tribune (Duluth Minnesota) along with his original writings that set the tone for the columns presented. (Heffernan has since retired as a journalist but continues writing in semi-retirement as a freelancer.) The book is unique in that the short essays provide readers with Heffernan’s wry humor, distinctive perspectives on life, slices of colorful life living by the shores of the largest of the Great Lakes, heart-felt reflective pieces on life in general as well as an unparalleled look at famous people he interviewed or who came through Duluth. The book appeals to readers who enjoy reading an essay at a time in a relaxed setting."

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Porky Pig gets last word before world ends...

By Jim Heffernan

Here’s the news of the future – Dec. 22, 2012 to be exact – concerning the end of the world the day before.

DATELINE PLANET EARTH (Dec. 22, 2012) -- 
As predicted in the ancient Mayan calendar, the world ended yesterday when the planet Earth and former planet Pluto collided in the Solar System.

Shortly before Earth was blown to smithereens, officials speculated it was caused by Pluto as revenge for being downgraded from official planet status. President Barack Obama urged calm, as Pluto catapulted toward Earth. Republican leaders in Congress feared the cataclysm might be worse than falling off the fiscal cliff nine days hence.

As a result of the Armageddon, long predicted by religious leaders, ongoing problems on Earth no longer exist on personal, local, national or global levels. Individuals were absolved of all bill paying, crime in cities ended, congressional polarization was vaporized and ongoing trouble in the Middle East and other world hotspots abruptly came to an end.

It would have been cause for celebration, except there was nobody left to celebrate.

In the beginning the Earth was waste and void. Now it is only void.

The final words from planet Earth were unaccountably uttered by an anthropomorphic pig: “That’s all folks!”

(The foregoing dispatch was transmitted by the Unassociated Press minutes before the world came to an end.)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

It's still Cooler Near the Lake at Fitger's Bookstore...

The Bookstore at Fitgers, 2008
Yes, it's shameless publicity... but I still have my book, Cooler Near the Lake, for sale this holiday season. So... don't forget that special person on your Christmas list and think about giving a book! Cooler Near the Lake, as you surely must by now know, is a collection of 52 of some of my favorite columns while writing for the Duluth News Tribune. It's an essay a night for those who like reading in bed–or in other important locations where a shorter read is nice. The book is for sale at all area bookstores and online through Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

I'll be at The Bookstore at Fitger's–Duluth's last Indie bookstore hold-out–signing books on Sunday, December 9 from 1-2 pm. So come and visit me and get your shopping done early. It's still Cooler Near the Lake at Fitgers!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Florida woman speaks up for respect in politics

I give Meredith Schultz credit for her clear thinking and important message in her letter to the editor printed yesterday in the NY Times. Ms Schultz, from Boca Raton Florida, speaks out for the need for respect for a future president's constituency and for "loving our neighbors." The letter is included with three other letters responding to a November 10 front page story, "Christian Right Failed to Sway Voters on Issues." Read her letter HERE.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Campaign for public favor goes on and on...

By Jim Heffernan

The campaign...
Don’t go thinking it’s over, because it’s not over. The competition; the fight for the public’s favor. It’s not over. Not by a long shot.

You can sense it right here in Duluth, Minnesota, (there’s a Duluth, Ga., don’t forget) and you don’t have to look far. Sure, it’s been a long campaign – longer than you might think – and you’d hope that one of these days it would come to an end, but it doesn’t look like it ever will.

Look around the country. It’s everywhere. It’s a never-ending campaign. Every time one side makes a move, the other responds. The country’s divided right down the middle.

I don’t know who will win out, or if anyone will. So get used to it.

A Walgreens opens, a CVS pharmacy moves in across the street or down the block. We’re a divided nation.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Local tidbits about 40th anniversary of You'll Like My Mother...

Here is the text of the talk I gave this afternoon for a showing of “You’ll Like My Mother” one day short of the movie’s premiere 40 years ago in Duluth. And by the way, the movie stands up to time. It was a darn good movie–well done and kept one's interest after all these years. It really shows off the Glensheen mansion as well and that makes it most interesting for Duluthians and the thousands who have toured this historic mansion.  Jim

Patty Duke–1975
 Hard to believe it’s been 40 years.

Duluth was very excited to have a movie made here with a big star like Patty Duke, and to be filmed at Glensheen.

Glensheen Mansion, Duluth Minnesota
This was before the former Congdon estate on the shore of Lake Superior in Duluth was known as Glensheen. Everybody just called it the Congdon mansion, and few Duluthians had ever been inside. Elisabeth Congdon was still alive. Her murder in the mansion occurred five years after the 1972 movie was made. 

My own main memories include the night in the old Zelda restaurant on Superior Street when, dashing out of the men’s room, I almost ran over petite Patty Duke, who was heading for the women’s room. Avoiding the collision, she gave me a nice smile.

Checking old newspaper clippings of the era, they reported some 16 local extras and stand-ins were hired for the movie, mainly Duluth Playhouse people. Only one was given a line to speak, Jimmy Glazman, co-owner of European Bakery whose blue truck you will see in the movie. Not sure if Glazman’s line is in the movie or on the cutting room floor.

The movie was filmed here because the producers wanted snow, lots of snow. But as I recall that winter, while there was plenty of snow around on the ground, it wouldn’t snow hard while they were here. They had to blow fake snow at the actors for some scenes.

Most of the local extras were on a DTA mini- bus that pulls up outside the Wonderland Resort near French River on the North Shore, a brief scene that took a full day to film.

The movie’s premiere at the still elegant Norshor Theater was a gala evening put on by the Duluth Junior League. Tickets to the first showing were $12.50, with proceeds going to what was then called the Duluth cultural center, which later became the St. Louis County Heritage and Arts Center, better known as the Depot.

The showing was followed by a party in the Hotel Duluth ballroom (now Greysolon Plaza) attended by much of Duluth’s glitterati. They tried to get Patty Duke to come, but she couldn’t make it. The only actor from the movie who was here for the premiere was Rosemary Murphy, who plays the “nasty” mother.

While she was a fairly plain woman in her role, Murphy was quite glamorous in person at the party. She carried her small dog on her arm throughout the evening. The hosts had arranged for a ‘date’ for her to act as an escort and introduce her around. It was Duluth businessman Max Oie, who, I believe, had fairly recently been widowed.

Between the movie showing and the party I ran back to the Duluth News Tribune and wrote a review of the movie. The key line from the review stated, “You’ll Like My Mother” will not eclipse “Psycho” or “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane” as thrillers go, but it’s a taut psychological drama with little love and some violence.”

The movie continued at the Norshor, even for a second showing that evening at regular prices. After the premiere showing, crowds were lined up outside the theater waiting to get in, and I have read it held the record for gross receipts at the Norshor in its run.

Just for the record, I Googled the principal actors to see what they’re up to today.

Patty Duke is 66 now, a grandmother and mental health advocate after coming out as bi-polar many years ago. She still acts, mainly on TV. She has another connection to Duluth: her son, Mackenzie Aston, starred in the movie “Iron Will” filmed in and around Duluth in 1994. Mackenzie Astin was born after his mother starred in “You’ll Like My Mother.”

Rosemary Murphy, the mother in the movie, is now about 84 years old, but continued her career until fairly recently. Her biggest claim to fame in movies was her portrayal of Atticus Finch’s (Gregory Peck) next door neighbor in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,” about 10 years before “You’ll Like My Mother.”

Richard Thomas, who, about the same time he starred in this movie, had begun his lengthy run as John Boy on the popular 1970s TV series “The Waltons.”  Now 61, he has done a lot of acting over the years on TV and also on stage.

Sian Barbara Allen was just starting her acting career when she came here for “You’ll Like My Mother” in 1972. She acted regularly on television after that, but retired in 1990.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

40th Anniversary Screening of 'You'll Like My Mother'

A 40th anniversary screening of You'll Like My Mother, filmed in 1972 at Duluth's Glensheen mansion is scheduled for Saturday, November 3 at 1 pm at the downtown Duluth Public Library Green Room. The public is welcome to this free program.

I'll be there that afternoon prior to the screening to share some of my memories of the filming and the Duluth premiere and party.

Stars of the 93 minute movie are Patty Duke, Rosemary Murphy, Richard Thomas, Sian Barbara Allen and Dennis Rucker.

Join the fun!

Francesca Kinsolving (Patty Duke), a very pregnant California girl, ventures northward to Minnesota to introduce herself to her late husband’s mother. Throughout their brief marriage Francesca’s husband had promised his young wife, “You’ll like my mother.” Expecting a welcome reception from Mrs. Kinsolving, Francesca instead finds a house of horrors that nearly sets maternity as far back as Rosemary’s Baby.