We are here to tell you your opinion | June 22, 2022

For those of you who don’t live in North Dakota, North Dakotans justify the fact that we deal with cold winters because the trade-off is absolutely glorious weather the rest of the year.  This spring, however, has been a little…inconsistently glorious…compared to others; and yesterday we celebrated the first day of summer with a preceding week that could best be described as “Windy as all get-out and hot as the sun.”

The air temperatures and speed seem to be North Dakota Normalizing (Is that a thing?  What do we normalize here – bars as both a dessert and a main dish?) to its expected perfection; but while it does, I thought I’d do a We Are Here to Tell You Your Opinion (click here if you don’t know what I’m talking about) on a few TV shows for you to consider watching when you’re inside taking a break from all the summer-ness.  All of these shows are pretty easy on the brain; let’s call them the Beach Watches of Television.


Kyle started Reacher (Amazon Prime) because he read the Jack Reacher book series by Lee Child and was excited for the television adaptation.  I started watching Reacher because Alan Ritchson is handsome and I wanted to look at him.  We ended up bingeing the entire first season over the period of a week, during which we learned 1) Alan Ritchson is from GRAND FORKS, NORTH DAKOTA which is obviously why he’s my brand; and 2) Reacher is a fun – if you consider gratuitous violence “fun” – action series similar to Criminal Minds, except that Jack Reacher is a nomadic vigilante supported by the law, instead of being the law itself.  Viewer beware: In addition to the violence, there are a couple of nudie scenes.  Here’s the trailer.


Full disclosure: I didn’t want to start watching Welcome to Flatch (Hulu) because it looked too cornball-y for me.  I only gave in because we had finished re-watching Derry Girls for the second time and I was feeling too jolly to start Ozark (it turns out I still feel too jolly to start Ozark, and now we’re the only people in the world who haven’t seen the finale).  After three episodes I was hooked on Flatch – which, as I figured, turned out to be cornball-y, but in the best possible way.  Flatch is a mockumentary about life in rural Kansas; specifically, as it centers around two wannabe wild and loose cousins, the town newspaper editor, and Father Joe, played by ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA’s Seann William Scott.  As is the case with almost every comedy about the Midwest, every character is lovable, every character has big dreams, and every character begins to fulfill (or actually fulfills) those big dreams in a lovable way.  Here’s the trailer.


Speaking of shows I didn’t want to watch, when Jared Keeso, one of the creators of Letterkenny (a show about a town in Canada that Kyle LOVED because it reminds him of home, and I thought was pretty funny for about 10 of its 61 – and counting – episodes), announced he was making a spinoff about the fifth-most annoying character on Letterkenny, I was a hard pass.  I can’t remember how Kyle talked me into Shoresy (Hulu), but I’m pretty sure I agreed to it because I secretly wanted to scroll my phone for an hour.  I’m glad I actually paid attention because Shoresy is all of the silliness of Letterkenny with the added bonus of character development and a storyline.  Shoresy is about a Canadian men’s league team that is about to fold because they have lost all of their paying fans – and so the character of Shoresy (who is the king of hockey chirps and also cries at the drop of a hat) convinces the owner to keep it going with the promise that “they never lose a game.”  If you like hockey and bros, I think you’d be hard-pressed not to like ShoresyHere’s the trailer; head’s up, there’s a bad word in it.


Kyle and I will watch basically anything by Taika Waititi, which is how we came to find Reservation Dogs (Hulu).  Reservation Dogs is a half-hour comedy-ish that follows four teenage friends on a reservation in rural Oklahoma.  Taika Waititi does a great job developing interesting characters, and the show is worth it just to see the four leads interact with one another as they deal with a host of lighthearted, and also not-at-all-funny problems, such as the death of the fifth member of their group.  I was going to try and give an example using quotes from the show but there are A LOT of swears in Reservation Dogs, so here is a link to a scene where Bear – one of the teens – meets his haphazard spirit guide for the first time.  Also, here is the trailer; although I’m not sure it best represents the overall storyline (the part where they steal the chip truck is the first scene of the show and is kind of a MacGuffin).


Kyle and I knew we were going to watch Somebody Somewhere (HBO) basically no matter what because it was written by EAST GRAND FORKS, MINNESOTA’s Paul Thureen and stars Bridget Everett, and we like both of those things.  Despite the fact that Bridget is a comedian, I’m not sure I’d call Somebody Somewhere a comedy; it’s a gentle, friendly look at some serious issues in small-town Kansas (Kansas is having a real entertainment-based renaissance, apparently).  The whole thing is like watching some of your perfectly pleasant acquaintances live their lives for a few months.  It’s such easy watching that we didn’t even realize we reached the end of the first season until we couldn’t find any more episodes.  Here’s the trailer.

The photo above doesn’t have anything to do with anything, but Kyle made that sign for our seven-year-old’s lemonade stand, and Seven made a sign that said, “Beer J/K Lemonade,” and both of them were pretty proud of themselves.

This week’s news has a Rendezvous and a Wagon Train.  Read on.

Tomorrow is the first day of the Santee-Lucky Mound Pow Wow in Parshall – check it out. (KX Net)

This is in here entirely for me to tell Kyle because he’s going to want to go: Fort Union is holding the 39th Annual Rendezvous. (KFYR TV)

Minot’s father-son duo David and Dayson Dannewitz received the North Dakota Highway Patrol Colonel’s Award for Excellence for helping clear two troopers out of the snow during the April Blizzard. (KX Net)

Westward, Ho!  Participants from 21 states and two countries are traveling as a part of the 53rd annual Fort Seward Wagon Train, which goes from Jamestown to Montpelier (and back again) this week. (Jamestown Sun)

Grand Forks’ Lily Goehring was one of twelve contestants performing on last night’s episode of Dancing with Myself. (Fargo Forum)

Bismarck’s Allison Keller dyed her hair blue in order to get her students to return their library books. (KFYR TV)

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Cougar Woods | June 15, 2022

When I was in high school, my boyfriend said to me, “If you’re going to be in business, you need to know how to golf.”  This was the late ‘90’s, when being “in business” meant wearing power suits with white sneakers and drinking martinis and obviously I was going to do that, so I agreed.  He and I went to the golf course on a foggy fall day.  He set up a tee and ball on the first hole, handed me his driver (I feel compelled to note that he was 6’2” and I was 5’2” and that club fit exactly one of us), gave me a quick, helpful instruction on how what to do, and stood back while I swung for the fences.  Then, he walked twenty feet up to where my ball had landed post-hit, picked it up, and threw it in the direction of the green.  We repeated that same process roughly a million more times – hit the ball, throw the ball – until we reached the fifth hole and he said, “You know, you’re good at other stuff,” and we left to go get ice cream.

I was “in business” by my early twenties, and so my boss invited me (and my white sneakers and martinis) to a charity golf tournament.  “Do you know how to golf?”  He asked.  “Oh, yes,” I said, remembering the advice I had been given on my first outing.  I borrowed a set of clubs from my friend’s little sister, bought three golf balls (I mean, how many does a person need?) – and, using those rightly-sized clubs, hit the crap out of all three balls right into the woods or the water on the first two holes of the course.  I spent the rest of the tournament driving the golf cart – i.e. one of my many “good at other stuff” skills – and charming everyone with my near-constant chatter.  Unrelated, I was not invited along on any future golf outings.

Fast-forward a decade or so to when Kyle and I took the boys to Arizona and he suggested we fill the time by going to Top Golf.  Top Golf is a multi-story driving range with digitally-chipped balls that track where they go on the range.  Also, it’s a restaurant and bar.  The boys liked it because they could hit golf balls for two hours.  I liked it because I could sit on a couch surrounded by nachos and cheesecake (martinis) and still have close enough access to my then-four-year-old to hold onto his shirt so he didn’t swing himself off the range.  With about ten minutes left in our reservation, the four-year-old took a nacho breather and Kyle suggested I use his turn to whack a couple of balls into the virtual water hazard.  Full of cheesecake and mirth, I did – except that instead of whiffing the shots, they went straight (and up and down like a rainbow, which I’m sure is the technical term for describing a proper golf ball path) and true.

“Mom is the best golfer in the world!”  Four exclaimed.

Buoyed by my newfound designation as the best golfer in the world, I spent the next couple of years showing off my rainbow golf skillz at every Top Golf-esque driving range in the United States.  Finally, earlier this spring, I told Kyle that I was ready to give for-real golf a for-real try.  He quickly bought me a set of clubs before I could change my mind/the martinis wore off; and then told one of our friends about it so that I couldn’t do that thing where I would act really grateful and excited about the gift but then hide them in the back of the garage for all eternity.

That friend and her husband invited us out for my (third time’s the charm) maiden voyage.  Kyle prepared by purchasing a sackful of golf balls and tees.  I prepared by Pinteresting “cool weather golf outfits to wear with white power suit sneakers” and finding places to hide airplane bottles of vodka in my golf bag.  We played nine holes of a game called Bingo Bango Bongo, which is where two golf teams compete to earn three points – longest drive, first to the green, and first in the pin – a great game to play with a novice, as teams advance to the best ball…no throwing necessary.  My team won because I am the best golfer in the world (I got one total point, and lost two balls) and, unrelated, my teammate and friend was an actual skilled golfer.  Despite the fact that it turned out that my golf skillz were only to be found at Top Golf, the whole thing was so fun – thanks to lovely, patient, helpful friends and a beautiful evening – that I decided not to throw in the proverbial towel, and instead kept it tied to my golf bag to wash off my balls (for whatever purpose that would serve).

Since then, another one of our lovely friends has invited me to Lady’s Night, and my co-worker has agreed to come with me to a thing called “Divot a Try,” where you pay $20 for a golf lesson and a drink ticket – and all of those things sound awesome.  Also, I bought a golf skirt – so I guess it’s for-real-for-real that I’m an official golfer.

The other night, we took the boys out for nine holes of golf.  I parred one hole and shot a billion on another.  Kyle texted a photo (above) to my best friend, who replied “She’s a regular Cougar Woods.”

This week’s news has an old family and hidden treasures.  Read on.

The nearly 340 descendants of Erick and Kari Evenson will soon celebrate North Dakota’s oldest family farm by ceremonially break the ground in Mayville using Erick and Kari’s original plow. (Grand Forks Herald)

Bismarck’s Pam Crawford has published a children’s book about change, starring an eight-year-old adventurer named Leia. (KFYR TV)

Head on out to McKenzie County Heritage Park this weekend for the annual dinosaur dig. (McKenzie County Farmer)

Congratulations to Minot’s Sidni Kast, the new Miss North Dakota! (KFYR TV)

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The write stuff | April 15, 2021

My son lost his confidence for a moment last weekend.  Unfortunately, confidence isn’t something that you can find by shining your phone light under the bed or replace with a quick run to the store; and so it took Kyle and me a while to figure out that his lack of confidence was directly tied to a complete and utter lack of having fun.  Once we filled up his fun, he found his confidence.

If you know me in real life you know that I have an overflowing abundance of confidence.  (I also have an equal amount of anxiety and other crazypants issues, but that’s another thing.)  I have so much confidence that it often gets in the way of life – like when I took my coworker on an unnecessary hour-long midnight joyride through the country because “we don’t need a GPS, I know where I live.”  Or like the series of events leading up to the first story I wrote for North Dakota Nice.

You know how some families have a surprising number of doctors or athletes or undersea miners?  My tree is filled with writers.  My mother, for instance, is working on her seventh book.  Her mother taught memoir and anecdote writing at New York University for thirty years; and, starting when I was three years old, would call me on Sundays so that we could craft a story together.  I was given a typewriter when I was around nine, and after that our Sunday calls were used so that my biggest fan could heap praise on my many short stories (100% of which starred me as a fairy princess).

When I was twelve, I wrote a novel, entitled Kidnapped!   In Kidnapped!, a class of sixth-graders was forcibly taken to a luxurious mountaintop island mansion, where their opportunity for freedom was placed in the hands of a plucky classmate tasked to teach them all manners and dialect.  I described it as “My Fair Lady meets Sweet Valley High, an instant bestseller!” in the five query letters I sent to actual real-life publishers.  Bless their hearts, all five responded with “Great job, keep writing, no thanks.”

I took their advice to heart and, for the next six years, kept writing.  While Kidnapped! was more of a thriller/romance – the most detailed scene was one in which the protagonist gets to kiss a boy with an uncanny number of similarities to my real-life crush – my favorite topic was silliness, either in content or in voice.  A cow that goes “Oom.”  A supernatural teen with hands of fire who accidentally burns her boyfriend in the butt during a slow jam at a school dance.  A fairy (probably princess) whose wings keep falling off.  And hundreds of anecdotes about getting braces and forgetting my bloomers for my dance team uniform and accidentally burning my boyfriend in the butt with my fire hands while dancing to “Lady in Red.”

But then came college.

In pursuit of a degree in Communications, writing went from “fun pastime” to “egomaniacal lifestyle.”  I lived on the Writer’s Corridor, took creative writing courses, and worked on an English minor.  All of my dormmates, classmates, and library mates were very serious about making their names in very serious hard-hitting journalism and very serious dramatic debut novels, which they expected would literally and physically and metaphorically change humanity (very seriously) forever.

Naturally, I, too, immersed myself in very serious writing.  Forty-one-year-old me will tell you my best college piece was a Patton-esque speech on the why pineapple belongs on pizza (“Men, a tomato is also a fruit.”), which I wrote as a joke while studying for an exam.   My twenty-one-year-old self, however, was absolutely 100% confident that my Pulitzer Prize-worthy retelling of the Flood of ’97 (if you’re looking to roll your eyes out of your head do I have the story for you) was the direction my prose needed to go.  Nevermind that I, the girl who also typed up a tale about a king who goes on a quest to fix his broken-down hot tub, was absolutely terrible at literary (serious) writing.

After graduation, I was so confident that I needed to be a serious novelist that I wrote the first paragraph of what would be my premiere novella and decided I would not pen a single additional letter for any other piece until it was complete. 

For the next sixteen years, I labored under that stupid story.  I say it was stupid because 1) it was stupid, and 2) I had absolutely no interest in writing it.  The premise was this: A man refuses to finish his highly-anticipated first novel until he comes up with the perfect final line of dialogue for his protagonist.  He ultimately dies having never completed it; and when his friends go to publish it, they do a quick read-through and realize it’s complete garbage.

Did I recognize any hint of coincidence between my own life and this story?  No.  Instead, I dragged myself, like a traveler lost in the desert, through every word.

My grandmother would see me banging my head against the keyboard and would suggest a quick writing exercise to get my creative juices flowing.  Always, I would knock out something silly, like an elderly woman who breaks up her church group after someone suggests she make her hot dish with sodium-free cream of mushroom soup instead of regular.

“Maybe you should write more of what you enjoy,” my grandma said after one such occasion.

“George Orwell said that writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle,” I said.

“He was also a wacko.”

“A PUBLISHED wacko,” I reminded her.

Anyways, one night in late 2018, I had finished reading all of the local newspapers for North Dakota Nice and pulled out the notebook for my stupid story in order to bleed a little bit onto the pages before bed.  Nothing was coming to me, so I set the notebook aside and decided to do a quick writing exercise about two of my favorite subjects: North Dakota, and me.  I wrote for three hours – time flies when you’re having fun – and after I finished I posted the completed writing exercise on the website and threw my stupid story in the trash.  I’d never been so confident about a decision in my life.

The photo above is of some of my many notebooks filled with writing exercises that I did – but didn’t count as “doing” – over the past decade instead of writing my stupid story.  Also, Carmex.

The opposite of stupid are all of the wonderfully nice things that happened in the news this week, including a big deal of a small town, a leftover lunch program, and a glamorous prom.  Read on.

Mayville is about to get its 15 minutes of fame thanks to the TV show “Small Town Big Deal.” (Hillsboro Banner)

Sisters Jackie Pfeiffer McGregor and Janine Pfeiffer Knop have written a book on life in rural Menoken in the 1950s. (Devils Lake Journal)

The West Fargo School District recently created a pilot program which repacked leftover lunches in containers donated by Power Plate Meals and gave them to students in need.  Over 86% of the lunches were picked up by families, and so the program is going to continue – not just in West Fargo, but now in Fargo and Moorhead, too. (KVRR)

It was a sticky Saturday afternoon last week in Fort Stevenson State Park, as the staff put on a series of demonstrations on how to tap and make maple syrup. (Devils Lake Journal)

Bismarck’s The Banquet is expanding its meal services – and its space – to help families in need. (KX Net)

Law enforcement officers provided a chilly reception to the annual Special Olympics Polar Plunge fundraiser. (KVRR)

The staff at Legacy High School has helped senior Abby Johnsrud get glammed up for prom. (KFYR TV)

Congratulations to Mayville sixth-grader Wyatt Perkins, winner of the national VFW Patriot Pen essay! (Hillsboro Banner)

Carson Wentz’s charity softball game is on the calendar for June 26. (KVRR)

The Great Plains Food Bank had so many people show up to their first free haircut event that they had to turn a few away; and so they are going bigger and better for their second event. (KX Net)

(Like Amanda Silverman Kosior and/or North Dakota Nice?  Check out this other story about bothering people.)