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Pete Weighs In

By Pete Robbins

The Suck Truck is Parked

November 14, 2008

Let the bleeding end.

My 2008 tournament season has come to an end and all I can say is that I wish it had been put out of its misery sooner. While my results for the year may look decent on paper, it was far and away my worst season of fishing in the past five or six years. I consistently got beaten out of the back of my own boat, consistently did better on practice days than during the tournament and consistently left the tournament site with a full head of steam.

My bass club ended our year on a small local lake where we’ve started and ended the season with two-day tournaments for over a decade now. In those twenty or so events, I can only remember finishing outside the top three on three occasions. I’ve won more often than I’ve missed the money, including the last several derbies, notably the last two year-enders.  The lake has been very good to me in the fall.

I typically expect to catch between 12 and 20 keepers a day there and just let size sort itself out. You can go down a bank, catch a one pounder, a one and a half, a dink, and then, boom, there’s a solid four pounder. But this fall I never got around those kinds of numbers. Every clue was a dead end. I landed 8 on Saturday and 6 on Sunday, nothing even hitting the three pound mark. It was the return of the suck truck.

Sunday was particularly painful. I started fairly far up a major tributary where I’d seen some fish busting bait on Friday afternoon. Nothing happening when I got there. My friend Bill is fishing across the lake, maybe 125 yards away. I start moving down the bank and about 10 minutes later fish start busting right where I started. Bill eases over and catches a limit of schoolers while I just watched like a complete jackass. Even when a few came up around me, I couldn’t get them to bite. I finally just left – too much more of that and I would have been completely mentally fried.

To make matters worse, at about 12:30, I could feel that my trolling motor batteries were noticeably weaker. I’d fished until 4 on Friday and 4 on Saturday with no appreciable loss of power, but on the last day of the season they decided to crap out, even though I know I had gotten a good charge. I limped to the finish line, with no more than about 25% power at the end of the day.

I missed first place by a mile.

Two guys tied for second with 10 fish for 18-12.

I got sole possession of 4th (out of a small field) with 18-07. Those five ounces might as well have been 50 pounds.

I drove home pissed off again.

But all was not lost. I will remember the crappy fishing and my poor performance, but when the hairs on the back of my neck finally settle down I’ll also remember that my 70 year old friend Harold Pack joined us for the weekend. To call him one of a kind would do him a disservice. Harold is no pretense and always keeps us entertained. When he left the area a few years ago, it was a sad day.

During my single years, on the occasions when he and his wife Gail hosted our club meetings at their house, I always had to come straight from work, so while everyone else sat in the living room and discussed pertinent issues, I sat in the adjacent dining room and ate one of her home-cooked meals.  I’m sure I got a few dirty looks from the others, but I didn’t care. 

Later, when they moved to the lake, I spent just about every weekend from November through March with them. I was never there on Christmas or Thanksgiving, but if they had offered I might’ve made the trek down. At the time, I didn’t have a house, a wife, or any major responsibilities, no writing even, so I had nothing on the brain except spending every spare minute on the water and they indulged that wish. I’d pull up with my boat on Friday or Saturday, leave Sunday night, temporarily sated and with a full belly from all of her good cooking. I’d wake up to fish and there’d be a lunch packed on the counter. We’d get back from fishing and dinner would be on the stove. Just good, solid, generous, salt of the earth people – with access to the lake.

To this day, Harold still smokes like a chimney (I once asked him if he was going to quit and he looked at me, in all seriousness, and asked “Why would I want to do something like that?”) and while I don’t smoke myself, some of the best times I had off the water were sitting in his garage, around the kerosene heater, him smoking and telling stories.

He told me about how the small West Virginia town where he grew up was integrated by black kids and white kids (himself included) playing competitive marbles (he claimed that his banners still hang in the school gym). He told me about his years in the Lion’s Club, fishing on Toho, racing his fifty-seven Chevy. Last year I wrote an article for Inside Line about my friend Colvo, who died last summer at 89. Harold (who incidentally knew Colvo much longer but for some reason called him “Calvo”) brings to mind the same point I made then – there are few other hobbyists who have the opportunities to meet the same wide variety of people that we fishermen get to know. Put two people who love to fish in the same boat, they can be 6 or 96, as different as night and day, and there’s a bond.

One thing I never understood about Harold is that when we’d travel to away tournaments, if a restaurant had liver and onions on the menu he would order it without fail. Finally I had to ask. He explained that as a child his family had leased and farmed a small piece of land from a wealthy man. Harold would do odd jobs for the man and in exchange he would receive all the liver he could carry home. To me, that doesn’t sound like a recipe for a lifelong taste for the stuff, but if you knew Harold, it would make perfect sense.

Harold has never met someone who wasn’t a friend and he always has a story to tell, whether it’s about his kangaroo skin boots (not like the Kangaroo sneakers that Walter Payton endorsed in the 80s – the real thing), a pack of worms he bought in Kissimmee in the 70s, or a trip to Soldier Field in Chicago. He’s king of the unintentional slip up too – I once complimented his watch and he responded that “It ain’t no Rolodex but it’s pretty nice.”

Everyone should have some people like the Packs in their life.

That’s why it killed me a few years back when they moved to Lakeland, Florida to be closer to one of their sons and a bunch of their grandchildren. I saw him now and then, but it wasn’t the same unhurried conversations we had in the garage around the heater, Harold’s tinny transistor radio tuned to bluegrass music or an outdoors show from hundreds of miles away (“O’Neill says they’re bitin’ on Hartwell” was a constant refrain).

A short while ago, they moved back to Virginia (“Too many old people in Florida,” he told me), but to Wytheville, a healthy drive away. So we see him a few times a year, at a tournament or at a Christmas party. Occasionally I see his number on my caller ID and I know I’m in for a conversation that’ll make me smile. It’ll never be the same again, but Harold doesn’t change. He’s going to outlive me – I’ll be on my deathbed and he’ll be telling me about why he uses Lew’s Speed Spool reels or sneaking me a bowl of Gail’s banana pudding (best dessert ever).

My tournament year is over and I’m going to put it firmly in the rear view mirror. 2009 has to be better. But if I had to relive this string of missed opportunities and disappointments, I’d spend a lot less time stewing and a few more minutes on the phone with the Pack-Man, inviting him out for a couple of extra days of fun fishing.  I’d want to flip or burn a spinnerbait and he’d insist on throwing his damn Carolina rig out of the back of the boat.  I don’t know if I can wait for next year.  Might have to pick up the phone, lace up my own (non-Kangaroo boots) and meet him at the lake.

Vote Early, Vote Often

November 6, 2008

We’ve got a black quarterback, so step back.
--Flavor Flav

The rapper would have been prescient had he been talking about Barack Obama 20 years ago when he uttered the words written above.  He wasn’t, but they’re apt anyway, now that Barack Obama is our President-elect. Besides, in all likelihood it makes me the first fishing blogger to cite Public Enemy, which is probably less newsworthy than our first African-American president to 99.9% of the population – but I’m hoping that a sizeable percentage of the remaining .1% occasionally reads this column. I don’t wear a clock around my neck but I occasionally know what time it is.

Mr. Flav (also known as William Drayton Jr.), an erstwhile reality television star, was of course speaking of former Washington Redskins quarterback Doug Williams. At the Super Bowl in question, Williams was reportedly asked “How long have you been a black quarterback?”

Whether that question was really posed to him has subsequently been disputed, but the fact that a lot of us believed it seems to mean that the media’s perceptiveness is easily questioned. As a member of the non-mainstream fishing media (NMFM, not to be confused with NSFW, since most of my writing is G-rated), I don’t know whether to laugh at that or take offense, can’t figure out whether it means something more, but that’s not the purpose of this column, so I’ll veer back into semi-serious political commentary.

I won’t opine about who you should have voted for on Tuesday for several reasons. First, the election’s over, it’s time to look forward. Second, regardless of which candidate/s or position/s I advocated, I doubt that my sphere of influence is particularly meaningful. Third, and probably most importantly, this being a fishing blog, lodged within the Inside Line magazine, itself part of the larger Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits world-domination conglomerate, I’m not sure that I have the power or authority to make such pronouncements here. I don’t know where the bosses come down on the political continuum. I do know that they make a damn fine series of baits (see, I’m not afraid to make shameless pronouncements in some instances) and that’s where our relationship starts and ends, so I’m not going to get all partisan on anyone’s hind-end.

But without taking sides, I can still relate to you some of my thoughts on the political process (and if you don’t hear from me again next week, you’ll know that the powers-that-be dipped me into a bunch of salty green pumpkin colored plastic and fed me to the fishes).

With all of the talk of John McCain’s father and grandfather, and Barack Obama’s parents and grandparents, it got me thinking about how my own grandparents, all of them deceased, would have viewed this election. And those thoughts ended up focused on my maternal grandfather, who died in 1985 at the age of 85. I can say with 99 44/100 percent certainty that he would not have voted for a black man. To be quite honest, at 38, given the people I’ve met in my travels, it still surprises me that this country would elect someone non-white.

But I also know that my grandfather, who traveled to this country in his late teens, without a pot to piss in, speaking little English, was proud to be a taxpayer. I don’t know if he’d couch paying your taxes, as Joe Biden did, as “patriotic,” and like all of us I’m sure he didn’t want to pay one penny more than absolutely necessary, but I also remember him saying (and I paraphrase here) that if you’re being taxed it means you did something right -- you earned some money. For someone who came to this country in the underbelly of a boat, then put four kids through college, that was an accomplishment. Again, that worldview doesn’t necessarily excuse excessive tax rates, but the dream is to get to the point where there’s a pie to take a piece of (or, as the more recent mindset would have it, taxes to avoid).

I don’t know that I share my grandfather’s passion for occasionally writing big checks. I don’t wear my tax obligations as a badge of honor. But nor do I shudder when I pay them (usually) or see them deducted from my paycheck. “Tax” is not a four-letter word (it could be, though: “Taxx”) and its all-purpose use as an end game device is a bit unfair. Is future tax policy a key part of resolving the financial mess we’re in? I’d say it is. But at the same time taxes pay for schools and roads and police and equipment for the troops who are fighting on our behalf in two wars. If we could cover all of those and more without a penny out of Joe Sixpack’s pocket, I’d be ecstatic, but the reality is that we can’t, and it has to come from somewhere.

Whether or not you agree with that mindset, the other thing that amazed me about this election was the passion on both sides, the yard signs, the door-to-door campaigning, the diligence and passion. I think that all but a few of us are proud that record numbers of voters (all, that is, except the few who believe that “the only bad thing about democracy is that it allows just about anyone to vote.”), but the rhetoric was at times painful.

I take both sides to task on this one, but I’ll use the “socialist” moniker as a prime example. I’m betting that the vast majority of the people who bandied that term about never read Marx or Engels or Weber or even Adam Smith (in fact, I’m betting that the majority of them can’t even pronounce Weber properly). It’s pure recklessness, I tell you. And the game has become so polarized and partisan that you don’t know who to believe about what.

Whether it’s MSNBC or Fox News, the vehicles have become the newsmakers and with the exception of a few news sources, there’s little objectivity. What is a truly undecided voter to do? Listen to the emails he receives – parables about taxation and warmongering and special needs kids and foreign policy experience???? Why does it seem to me that the people who send the most such emails (excuse me, the people who forward the most such emails) are typically the least informed advocates on both sides of the aisle?  They’re also usually the ones whose idea of sacrificing for their country’s ideals involves nothing more than pushing the “send” button. There have always been lies, damn lies and statistics – and now we add to the list election period email chains.

I would be much more satisfied if each side (not the candidates, but their supporters) could admit to me some of their party’s deficiencies. You can be a single-issue voter (pro life, pro choice, whatever), that’s well within your rights, but why then do you have to miraculously agree with every aspect of your party’s plank? Isn’t the world more complex than that? It’s not always so neatly colored inside the lines. Why couldn’t the Republicans recognize that maybe Sarah Palin didn’t have any meaningful foreign policy experience and isn’t the world’s foremost expert on energy? But on the other side, maybe the Democrats needed to address Obama’s apparent flip-flop on the issue of public financing. And maybe they needed to admit that his experience was limited, too. But that’ll never happen. It’s become the Yankees and the Red Sox, the Redskins and the Cowboys, Oklahoma and Texas. People are choosing sides and working backwards, coming up with justifications for their positions rather than working from facts toward those positions. I suppose that’s not news to just about all of you. It’s terribly obvious but still terribly maddening.

And what’s with the voting for someone because they’re “like me”? The last thing I want is a president or vice-president who is like me – wishes he could fish a lot more, suffers more flatulence than the average person, drinks way too much Diet Cherry Pepsi (which for some reason is only intermittently available in my area – Cherry Coke Zero is a poor substitute). But many voters seem to have gravitated to the candidates, particularly Palin and Obama, because of some perceived similarity with themselves.  To me, this seems to grossly underestimate the value of our president and the difficulty of the job. The head dude (not to be confused with the “First Dude”) has to be able to make some pretty important decisions, decisions that affect oh, I don’t know, just about the whole fricking world. So the idea that we want someone like us in the position is insulting. If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably noticed a typo or two. That’s ok in a blogger, but not in a brain surgeon. I pretty much want the guy who saws my skull open to be flawless in the process. While I don’t know that similar flawlessness can be expected of a president, I want him to come as close as possible. And frankly, even though I toiled for years in higher education, at some quality schools, and have lots of real-world private industry and governmental experience, I’m not anywhere near that level, and neither are you.

I’m pretty certain that if my grandfather thought that paying taxes was a sign of success, then he must’ve thought that voting wasn’t just a privilege but an obligation. I don’t remember for sure. I don’t ever remember having a conversation with him that was any deeper than “what are we having for lunch?” But even though he lacked a formal education, I remember that he lived for ideas, for thoughts, for serious debate. I remember him and my father sitting in his living room, on plastic-covered armchairs, discussing and debating the issues of the day (Nixon?). Picture Archie and Meathead doing the same thing and you have a rough approximation – although I don’t know where they fell on the political spectrum. Their voices were raised but at the end of the day, when it came time to eat, or drink, or go to sleep, bygones were bygones. The conversations were spirited civil. Occasionally maybe a mind or two was changed.

That’s what I don’t see in politics these days, a willingness to be convinced. Everyone is sure they’re right and they’re willing to fall on their sword before they know the facts. Maybe it has always been that way, but for some reason, on this historic eve, that upsets me more than ever, and it has nothing to do with the outcome of the presidential race.

One more thing: I certainly don’t believe in any sort of poll tax (there’s that word again) or competency test for voters, but why not for the candidates?  Can we at least have a basic quiz that requires them to prove some basic knowledge of and opinions about the Federalist Papers and the Constitution? I think we all agree that the president’s job is to defend and preserve the principles of the Constitution – that’s as American as apple pie and mom – so why not a little Socratic examination of their understanding of the document? While I read the constitution in law school, I have to admit that I skipped class in college when we discussed the Federalist Papers, so I might have to disqualify myself….although that would probably already be achieved on other grounds.  Like I said, I don’t want someone like me in the Oval Office.  I want someone smarter and more unflappable, who pays more attention to both the big picture and the smallest details.

I’m Pete Robbins and I’ve approved this message.

None of the ideas expressed herein represent the beliefs of Gary Yamamoto, Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits, any of my past, present or future employers, or any of my future ex-wives, at least not intentionally.

No small mammals or yetis were harmed in the drafting of this blog entry.

Ready to Roll

November 3, 2008

Haven’t been on the water in 10 days and I’m itching to get out there.  I have a bunch of new baits I’ve wanted to try and haven’t had the chance, so three days on the lake next weekend will give me a chance to try out the following new items:

I’m an absolute tackle freak but I’m also a tackle loyalist.  There are probably fewer than two dozen baits that catch the vast majority of my fish during the year.  I carry hundreds of crankbaits in the boat, but realistically there are maybe five to ten that get regular usage, especially in tournament situations.  So if I can add one or two new baits to the rotation each year, I’m pretty happy.  Last fall and this spring, the Little John crankbait not only cracked the lineup, but took a trusted place in it.  Whether or not there will ever be another game-changer like the Senko I don’t know, but I’m willing to do the research.

Another note: I wrote in this space a while back about camo becoming fashionable among the society ladies who would otherwise turn up their noses at anything so lowbrow.  Go to any upscale mall and you’ll see women who think roughing it is watching Oprah on a TV less than 27” dressed in camo skirts and tank tops that cost more than my first car.  Well, it’s come full circle now.  My wife is going deer hunting next Tuesday.  We had to stop at Bass Pro and get her some hunting clothes. More on that later, I hope.

She turned 40 on Saturday, so I think that means I’m married to a cougar.  Maybe it’s her new cougarness that inspired the bloodlust.

And as long as I have your attention, when did it suddenly become uncool for NFL receivers to wear numbers in the 80s?  In past years, 88s and 89s were the badasses, now I do a double take every time I see a 12, 13, 17 or 19 streaking down the sideline.

Et tu, Homer?
Adventures in Cheeseland

October 22, 2008

Helen of Troy may have had a face that could launch a thousand ships, but Wallis Simpson had talents that could make a man voluntarily give up the royal family jewels. Miss Simpson, you see, became the Duchess of Windsor as a result of marrying Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor.

Old Eddie had actually been crowned King Edward VIII a few years earlier, but there was a little problem with the fact that Simpson was not only American, but a twice-divorced American. Our friends across the pond seem to care about that type of stuff. Forced to choose between the woman he wanted to marry and his royal club card, Edward abdicated the throne.

I don’t know that I’ve ever done anything like that for a woman (mostly because I haven’t been given the chance, I’d contend), but while I may not have given up as much to marry my own wife as Edward did for his, at the very least my wife is treated better than the other Simpson wife (Nicole) was, so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

But my wife’s story may be more like that of Marge Simpson than Wallis or Nicole’s. And in a perfect example of life-imitating-art-imitating life, I proved it again this weekend.

One of my favorite episodes of “The Simpsons” is known as “The War of the Simpsons” (had to look that one up – previously I just knew it as the “fishing one”). In it, Marge and Homer host a little soiree and Homer gets fit-shaced and ends up making a fool of himself – checking out the neighbor-lady’s rack, telling people how he really feels, etc. – actually, nothing all that atypical for the average American male who has had a few too many, only he got caught.

Homer’s punishment? Marge signs them up for a weekend of marriage counseling at Catfish Lake, but the locals at the bait shop tell him about a mythical, record-class fish named General Sherman that no one has been able to catch. Homer’s appetite is whetted, as yours would be too if you’re anything like me. Without getting too deep into the details of Homer’s life, the story comes to a critical juncture when he wakes up before the counseling sessions to chase General Sherman and hooks into the fish, which in turn forces him to miss the counseling. He finally lands the fish, but Marge forces him to choose which he values more, his marriage or the fish, and he begrudgingly releases the big cat.

What the hell does this all have to do with Pete, you might ask?

Well, my wife is celebrating a special birthday in the coming weeks (I shouldn’t tell you which one, but it starts with “for” and ends with “orty”) and while I don’t think I’m confronted with the task of saving my marriage, I knew that three years into the gig the manner in which I treated the occasion would prove to be a critical building block. Geritol cake? No go. Trip to Guntersville to chase the frog bite? Also probably not a good idea.

Unlike her anti-social husband, who is happy to spend hours if not days alone in a boat, my wife savors friends, conversation and, for lack of a better term, just visiting. Since most of her friends remain in the Chicago area and have one or more ankle-biting toddlers, I knew that gathering them to travel  far away would be tough. Easier to bring our childless butts up there than uproot them and all of their paraphernalia (car seats, pack and plays, too many bibs, wipes and clean-up tools to count). So back in the spring, I started looking into options that wouldn’t require them to make a long trek.

I settled on Lake Geneva (Wisconsin), which seems to be a gathering point for a lot of well-heeled denizens of the Chicago ‘burbs. Found a big house there, reserved it for the long weekend, bought plane tickets, rented a car and we were set. But then came the problem. I mentioned it to my friend Jim Barczak, who lives up in Cheeseland and works for Mercury. He said that the smallie fishing on Geneva in October is off the chain and he’d be happy to drag the boat down for a day of fishing. Surely, I could get away for a bit, he said, with a sly grin (well, I couldn’t see the sly grin since we were emailing, but it paints a fuller picture). No way, dude. No chasing General Sherman for this angler. I’d end up getting Bobbittized or shunned forever. At the very least, any points I’d accumulated toward the moving target known as the Husband of the Year award would be stripped away. Jim backed off, a little. (Sorry Jim, I was severely tested).

I mentioned this dilemma to Alan Clemons, outdoor writer for the Huntsville Times and he called me some names I can’t repeat here, but then provided a compelling rationale for fishing – I could crank out several stories, thereby making some portion of the trip tax deductible. Since my wife is more fiscally concerned and competent than this fishing writer, this argument held water for about three seconds until my brain kicked in and I realized that once again, I was being tempted and tested.

Lake Geneva had become my Great White Whale so I looked into the eye of the great fish…mammal…whatever….and I was angrier than an old man sending back soup in a deli (sorry to mix my prime time metaphors). But I would overcome.

So on Friday we made our way up to Wisconsin (as Stevie Wonder would say, it was “just as I pictured it”), got into the house and it was better than expected. Big ups to me. Then the friends start to trickle in, bearing nursery schoolers, beer and bratwursts, the wife cried (38 years old and I still don’t understand tears of joy) and all was good with the world. But the fish continued to beckon me.

At lunch on Friday, we ate on the waterfront and while I ordered a bratwurst burger with corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut and tomatoes (when in Rome…), I couldn’t help but notice the menu calling me with “bluegill sandwiches.” That’s a new one for me – I’ve had walleye sandwiches in Minnesota (Lord Fletcher’s on Minnetonka) and I know that the pestilence we call perch at home are also considered a delicacy in the northland. If nothing else, it seems like it’d be a lot of work to get enough of the buggers filleted to get ‘em on a bun. While I wasn’t about to order that item, it again reinforced the proximity to the fishery.

So Friday night we all sit and visit some more, eat some more “sassages” (in Ditka-speak), and drink some more beer. I don’t get into bed until about midnight, which is 1am at home, which is about 2 hours later than I usually ever stay up, even when sober. Which would be fine, except for the fact that at about 6am, the rug rats come out of the wood work, screaming for Cheerios, playing with their loudest toys and generally making a racket. I was about ready to drown myself in the oversized tub, but chose instead to get out of bed and join the fray (mostly because I wasn’t sure if any of the little buggers had peed in the tub the day before). Surely I’d get a nap later (wrong again).

But upon awakening about 4 hours earlier than I’d planned, I realized that there was no caffeine in the house, other than coffee, and since it was 80 degrees out (about 75 degrees higher than I expected this close to the Arctic in mid-October), I decided to get some quiet by taking a drive to get a coke. Headed out of town, turned on my GPS, asked it to find a store, and the third place on the list is “Lake Geneva Bait and Tackle.” The voices, they call me, I tell ya.

Now, if my wife is reading this, she doesn’t know about this leg of the journey yet, but for a tackle store junkie like me, Lake Geneva B&T had some serious potential. A run-down industrial building, I wasn’t even sure it was open, but sure enough the door knob turned and I headed inside, where I was greeted by pegboard and exactly the type of stuff I’m always on the hunt for. Old faded blister cards containing lures that haven’t been made in twenty years, all sorts of oddball local stuff (most of it for toothy critters). It was heaven and I had my credit card with me. But I couldn’t find anything I just had to have. Usually, that’s not the test for me. Usually I’m happy to get seconds or thirds of things I already have, or else get something that I’ll probably never use that just looks cool. But I said goodbye to the guy manning the desk and walked out after 10 minutes, no charges on the card. I went to Wal-Mart, got some groceries, and went back to the house, all without sullying my fishless weekend.

We weren’t able to motivate too much as a group, as one member had her kids on particularly rigid nap schedules and even when they were all up it was still like herding cats to get them out the door. But the big house had plenty to do. We watched football, ate more bratwursts, drank more beer and generally entertained ourselves.

When it was time to head back to Chicago for our flight home, it was recommended that we stop at the Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha. While my wife may disagree, to me, that was the highlight of the trip. First of all, before we even entered, we saw a minivan with a license plate that said “RebelYl.” That’s the most incongruous pairing since the Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac. But once inside, the treasures were there, and life was good. Every kind of cheese you can imagine (didn’t try the cheese curds – to date, no one has explained to me exactly what they are or why I’d want to eat one), foam cheeseheads like the Lambeau-ites wear, and all kinds of bratwursts and other meats. Most notable among them was a cardboard holder that you’d get a six-pack of beer in with six individual sausages molded to look like beer bottles. Pure freaking brilliance.

I don’t know what time the Cheese Castle opens, but if it’s not early enough to go there on the way to meet Barczak at the lake next summer, I’ll definitely stock up on the way home with some low-carb goodness. I hope to go back to Wisconsin again and again – to quote Bill Swerski’s superfans, I’m not talking a repeat, a threepeat or even a fourpeat. I’m talking a minimum eightpeat.