The Flanagan Memo -- Re: Just the good stuff for the holidays.
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Good Stuff No. 1:
Don Stolz and the incomparable Old Log Theater.
The actors union Actors' Equity Association celebrates its 100th anniversary this year with a new book titled "Performance of the Century."
In the book is a salute to Stolz and the Old Log, the nation's longest continuously running Equity theater. Stolz, 95 and still moving fast, bought the theater for $1 in 1943 and began producing plays for all of us.
Stolz also produced some Hollywood "names," including Nick Nolte, Loni Anderson, Julia Duffy and, wishfully, me.
Oh, yes, I played several seasons at the Log in a little number called "The Front Page," that great newspaper comedy. My co-stars were mostly co-workers at the Star and Tribune. The major exception was the Equity member in the leading role of hotshot reporter Hildy Johnson. One year it was the late David Doyle, a terrific actor who eventually starred on TV's "Charlie's Angels."
So I had my chance at fame, thanks to Don Stolz.
Oh, well, maybe next year. And congratulations!
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Good Stuff No. 2:
Some restaurants worth visiting include the Green Mill on Hennepin Avenue S., just off 26th Street, for its Keballo Lodge Walleyed Pike; Zumbro on W. 43rd Street for soup, any soup and its Eggs Benny (aka Eggs Benedict) plus desserts (in summer, it is usually a supreme strawberry shortcake); and Yum on W. Lake Street, for wondrous food including the Pati Cake, a chocolate wonder named after Yum's owner, Patty Harris.
And then, for extra-special dinners, return to Murray's. The landmark restaurant on S. 6th Street still has its famous Silver Butterknife Steak, but the old place has been beautifully updated. The pink aura of the past is gone and they offer a stunning setting for their great food. And, yes, that includes their garlic toast and the pie that used to be known as Angel Pie. Now, it is just plain lemon pie on the menu, but it still tastes angelic.
Finally, the Birdhouse on Hennepin Avenue S., between 25th and 26th, cannot be described. Just know that it is close to unique, thanks to its owners, Heidi and Stewart Woodman. Yes, they own Heidi's, too. The food at both spots is absolutely splendid.
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Good Stuff No. 3:
On Thursday at 5 p.m., the charming building at 430 Oak Grove Av. will be rededicated as an apartment complex with 72 neat and modern units. And they are rental units, friends.
The building began 88 years ago as headquarters for Northwestern National Life Insurance Co.
What makes this bit interesting is that it was built by Kraus-Anderson Construction and it was rebuilt as an apartment by K-A, as well. That deserves a bravo!
So, bravo! Residents will have nice views of Loring Park across the street.
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Every year about now, Norton Stillman, publisher of loads of good books at his Nodin Press, takes me to lunch. We talk books, including his new books of the year. We also eat egg salad and olive sandwiches, iced tea and some kind of great pie -- this year it was pumpkin -- at Peter's Grill, another great local restaurant.
This year he has some mysteries and naturalist Jim Gilbert's newest book, "Minnesota's Outdoor Wonders: Exploring the Wonders of Minnesota Month by Month."
It includes more than 200 photos by David Brislance and others, including Gilbert's own pictures. It is good reading.
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The other glorious book for giving or keeping yourself is "Legendary Homes of the Minneapolis Lakes." It is the second book by writer Bette Hammel and photographer Karen Melvin, who originally scored with their book about homes on Lake Minnetonka.
I love this book, possibly because I know some of the houses. My favorite isn't a big mansion -- and there are plenty to admire. It's the 1897 house on East Lake of the Isles built by Mendon Schutt for his bride. Their daughter, Elizabeth, lived in it until her death in 1999.
Once upon a time I enjoyed a visit with Miss Schutt on her marvelous front porch above the lake. It was summer and absolutely super.
So is the book, so do not miss it.