Times food writer Kim Severson spends her time these days not with restaurateurs but in Alaska, where her background at the Anchorage Daily News has suddenly become a very valuable asset. Severson today reeled in a tasty scoop: Confirmation, first, that Levi Johnston, the teen father who is marrying into Sarah Palin's family, has in fact dropped out of high school, as rumored, amid slipping grades and unwelcome pressure from his family to play hockey. Severson also delivered the most credible explanation yet for why Track Palin, son of the Republican vice presidential nominee, enlisted in the Army. The rumor mill had him caught up in a drug bust, or perhaps nailed for vandlizing some school buses, and under pressure to join as a corrective. It sounds, for now at least, like the reality is more mundane, if still quite sad. It seems Track, a top Wasilla hockey prospect prone to rink rage, met his fate on the ice:

The temper was a longstanding problem. Hockey is a raw sport, but Mr. Palin pushed the limits and often got kicked out of games in Wasilla and at least once in Michigan... on the ice, he was an animal...

“Track has a temper so sometimes you’d only see him half the game,” [longtime family friend Curt] Menard said. “Get there late and he’d already be out.”

...The dream for Track Palin unraveled... starting when he separated his shoulder in Michigan. By March 2007, he was back with his family and that spring graduated from Wasilla High School. He had shoulder surgery, and the Avalanche offered him a playing slot, said the team’s general manager, Jamie Smith.

But that summer, Mr. Smith said, Track Palin called him and said that his shoulder was not better and that he was going to enlist in the Army instead.

Plot twist: The coach thought the shoulder was fine. So maybe there's still more to the story than meets the eye, and it's too soon to rule out any of the rumors.

It seems the Times' Alaskan foodie agent will have to keep fishing!