January 23, 2006
Без перевода

Weekend Outing: Recommendations for the Locals

This past weekend, the COD family just threw all those compulsory weekend chores aside and had some enjoyable family time. On Saturday, we started out by heading to Minneapolis to have breakfast at a new diner that I had read about in the STrib. Of course because of the great review this meant that we had to wait 30-minutes to be seated but it was worth it. Hot Plate is a diner in the style of my youth. Affable staff, magnificent food, and very affordable prices. I associate it more to the diners I have frequented whenever I visit in New York, but with a Minnesota flare. The Wife® had pumpkin-buckwheat waffles and I opted for the lower carb breakfast burrito. We both ended up skipping lunch that day to be sure! For the locals, I highly endorse that you make a point to try out Hot Plate in the near future.

I suppose you are wondering about the title of this entry. It is Russian for "good morning" and I introduce it because after breakfast, we went to the Museum of Russian Art. We were all very impressed. Even The Boy® found many interesting things to search for in the paintings. And I was jubilant because many of my favorite Russian painters had pieces on display.

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Stunning in its design, the museum offers many styles of 20th Century Russian painting, including classical realism, Russian impressionism, socialist realism, the severe style and modernism, among others. As I said, some of my favorites were on display such as Aleksandr Mikhailovich Gerasimov. Gerasimov was one of leading Realist artists from 1925-1932. As the first president of the USSR Academy of Arts, he presided from 1947-57, until compelled to resign by Nikita Khrushchev. Gerasimov was awarded Stalin Prizes in 1941, 1943, 1945 and 1948. He is the artist most closely associated with the Party line in Soviet art of the Stalin period. In 1958 he received a Gold Medal at the World Exhibition in Brussels. His works hang in many Russian museums, and he exhibited in Paris, Tokyo, Cologne, Pittsburgh, Damascus, Moscow and at the World Exhibition in New York in 1947. Two of his paintings are on display, one of which is Trees In Bloom which is shown below:

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The other is Still Life with Flowers from 1935. You'll have to visit the museum and see that one for yourself. If you are looking for 90-minutes to spend admiring art in the Twin Cities, head to the Museum of Russian Art.

My appreciation for Russian Art started in 1995 when The Wife® and I traveled to Moscow and St. Petersburg for a glorious ten days. The Wife® was employed by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts at that time and she was leading a tour for senior citizens. I was not about to miss out on the trip and signed on as an additional “sheep herder?. And let me just say how fantastic a group those sixty-six senior citizens were. Fantastic story tellers and full of life, I heard many a story about World War II and life in America while under the Cold War. Hearing the stories while walking Red Square one evening was something I’ll never forget.

I was influenced by Lenin’s van Dyke beard on the trip and decided to grow one for myself. Not that I was making a political statement! I just saw the beard on so many faces and in so many museums that I had to try it. I wore that style of beard for about eight years.

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I’ll probably post a few more photos from that Russian trip during this week. We visited a ton of places and got behind the sealed doors of the Kremlin. A trip of a lifetime, indeed. And I hope to get back again some day.

Oh Yeah, Football

Recently I wrote about the upcoming 2006 NFL draft and that the Purple should be scouring the country for the best LB available. But there are some very good 2006 free agents that may become Vikings as well. Let's take a look.

Julian Peterson, OLB, San Francisco [83 tkls, 3 sacks]

Peterson is unmistakably the best of this year's linebacking crop, even with ongoing reservations about his resilience. Over the years, he has played OLB, ILB, DE, SS and CB. But combine niggling injuries with the Niners having copious problems elsewhere, they are sure to be timid to tie up so much money in an oft-injured player.

Peterson has that extraordinary first step that gets him off the line straight away, and makes him a top notch pass rusher. With his swiftness, Peterson can chase down any ball carrier, and can even stretch out into coverage on passing downs that is a prerequisite of the Tampa Two defense. If he can stay healthy, he will be well worth the money he will command, and could take a contender to the next level.

Cato June, ILB, Indianapolis [102 tackles, 5 int, 2 TD]

Under Tony Dungy, Cato June went from unheard of to the makings of a budding Defensive Player of the Year. In his third year out of Michigan, June showed the wide-ranging skills any defensive coordinator would be happy to rely on. Clearly, June solved his tribulations with coverage, as evidenced by his 5 interceptions and 2 touchdowns. A very good athlete, June's foremost criticism has always been an inability to get proper depth in zone coverage. While he did manage 102 tackles, he continues to have problems shedding larger blockers in pursuit. June excels in the proper scheme, and would likely have difficulty being the focal point of a younger, less talented defense such as the Vikings

Everyone wants to know where the Colts are going to spend their money. With Edgerrin James, Reggie Wayne, and three linebackers (David Thornton, Rob Morris, and Rocky Calmus) about to hit the free agent market, someone has to go. Could it be June?

Akin Ayodele, OLB, Jacksonville [72 tackles, 4 FF]

Here is a very respectable athlete with immense size at the OLB spot. Ayodele has slowly been coming on the past few years, and is finally showing the ability that was promised. At 6'2, 251 lbs, Ayodele is the sort of player who loves to clobber people. He shows intense eruption out of his stance, and he levels tight ends off the line. His chief hitch has been a lack of wind, and coupled with average pass coverage, he is restricted to being a two-down player. Slightly limited in his hip movement, he can be beat by quick runners around the outside. However, given the opportunity to line up a ball carrier, he is Big Bang quantified.

Will Witherspoon, OLB, Carolina [80 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2 int]

The secret to Witherspoon is that he is playing at an extraordinary intensity, while being young enough to continue to improve. Very keen from the outside, Witherspoon can move through blockers to get to the ball carrier, arriving often at full speed. He is a ball hawk, looking for the turnover when he meets the football. He has very good sideline-to-sideline speed, and time and again makes the play in the open field. Witherspoon would fit very well on a young Vikings defense that focuses on speedy linebackers who look to force turnovers.

Others of Note

Nate Webster, OLB, Cincinnati: After losing his job to rookie Odell Thurman, Webster now looks to be dispensable for the Bengals. Still young and athletic enough to start, Webster could garner a look-see from the Vikes.

Ronald McKinnon, ILB, New Orleans: McKinnon is an accomplished pro. A great pass defender, McKinnon has also been a tackling machine over the years. Trapped in a dreadful circumstance in New Orleans, McKinnon was called upon to be the focal point of the defense. McKinnon's skill set would be ideal for the Vikes new scheme.

Have some of your own LBs that the Vikes should look at in free agency? Leave a comment below.


Posted by maasx003 at January 23, 2006 1:10 AM