'The Tonight Show With Eric Perkins'

The last episode of "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" featured cameos from Jack Black, Carol Burnett, Oprah Winfrey and Eric Perkins. The KARE-11 sports director/reporter made an unexpected appearance in Leno's final monologue on Thursday last week when Leno's producers set up a joke by running footage from a story on back-yard luges in Minnesota. "A lot of it is just me screaming," said Perkins, who was caught unaware that "Tonight" would be using his story, not to mention the image of him rolling downhill with a bunch of kids. So will Perkins try to come up with something fresh for Monday's debut of "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon?" "I can't disappoint," he told I.W. "For Leno, I could get away with family theater. For Fallon, I'll have to come up with something a little more cutting-edge and raw."

Neal Justin

Playing the field

I.W.'s heart started beating a little faster this week when it received a valentine personally signed by Twins pitcher Glen Perkins. On the outside, he promises flowers, candy and a teddy bear; but inside, alas, all he's offering is, um, a pitch to buy tickets. But since it might be the only valentine we get, I.W. will be happy to re-up for our group outing to Target Field — especially if Perk's real valentine, Alisha, joins us.


Odd fellas

As the ex-frontman of makeup-wearing, cereal-tossing metal band Flipp, Brynn Arens has come up with many outrageous ways to promote his music. But his Goodfellas-clad new group the Oddfathers has a rather serious way of getting attention: They recruited two famed producers to work on their tracks: Eddie Kramer (Jimi Hendrix, Kiss, Van Halen) and Jack Douglas (John Lennon, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith). "They're a bunch of amazingly dedicated musicians," Kramer said while in town last summer for his sessions. "They're trying to bring rock 'n' roll back with a vengeance, and with me helping them all the way, I think we can do it." As for Douglas, he's coming to Minneapolis this weekend for more work with the band, including a special event to mark the release of the first in a four-part EP series. Arens & Co. will perform at 8 p.m. Friday at Hi-Fi Hair & Records (1637 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls.), part of a demo-judging contest with KTWIN 96.3 FM and Douglas. So the promotional stunts haven't been completely left behind.


A grand for your poem

If love isn't enough to move you to write a poem, what about cold hard cash? The second annual Love Letters poetry competition, sponsored by St. Paul's Common Good Books, carries a prize significant enough to rate as one of the more substantial literary awards out there. Bookstore proprietor Garrison Keillor, himself no stranger to poetry, is offering $1,000 to the winner of the competition, and $250 to each of four runners-up. The judges are pretty substantial, too, in a literary kind of way: St. Paul poet Tom Hennen, poet and memoirist Patricia Hampl and Keillor. Full rules are at CommonGoodBooks.com, but know that entries are restricted to one poem per author and must be unpublished. Be bold! Writing a love poem, Keillor notes, is "not for the timid." Deadline is April 15 — plenty of time to fall in love, write about it, and then get back to your normal life.


A grant for Somali musicians

The Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art has given the Cedar Cultural Center and Augsburg College $200,000 to bring internationally known Somali musicians to Minneapolis over the next two years. The grant — one of only six given nationwide — is intended to promote understanding of Islamic cultures through art. This one will be used not only to present concerts by Somali musicians based as far away as London and Kenya, but to connect them — as well as local Somali musicians — with Augsburg students and faculty. Dubbed "Midnimo," the Somali word for unity, the project hopes to not only expose students and the broader community to a traditional Somali music art form, but to have them jam together as well, said Adrienne Dorn, the Cedar's director of development.

Kristin Tillotson

Toothless wisdom

Chapter 2 Books in Hudson, Wis., which has been a friend of writers and readers for many years, has lost its lease and is almost certain to close. Owners Brian and Sue Roegge, of St. Paul, have tried to find other space, but their last effort Tuesday night came up short — even presenting a potential new landlord with a petition signed by more than 300 people made no difference. "I think we're done," a discouraged Sue Roegge said in an e-mail. To say goodbye, the store will host an author appreciation day on Saturday, when more than 15 authors will come by between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. to sign books, chat with customers and help close the place down. Confirmed so far are William Kent Krueger, David Housewright, Kate Hopper, Sarah Stonich and others. The new tenant for that space? A dentist.