January 31, 2005
Pawlenty and Sid
A few days ago I got a comment from Jim in St. Paul saying that Pawlenty had just talked to Sid Hartman on the radio about stadiums and he wondered if anyone caught the conversation. Being a stadium news junkie, this royally ticked me off since I would have loved to have heard this conversation myself. Luckily, Sid usually puts this kind of information in his column the next day, and this time was no exception.
On Saturday Sid wrote a great column on his conversation with Pawlenty, and here are some of the highlights. First of all, Pawlenty talked with Reggie Fowler and it sounds like they discussed both his attempt to buy the Vikings and if he did purchase them his chances of getting a new stadium. It doesn't look like Pawlenty had anything to say about those chances specifically, although it has been reported that Fowler would try to use a lot of private financing to get the job done.
Secondly, Pawlenty said he has recently spoken with Paul Tagliabue about the chances of the Vikings moving any time soon:
"Tagliabue told me there wasn't any imminent danger of the Vikings leaving but that sooner or later they will have to get a new stadium to compete," Pawlenty said.
For anyone that has been paying attention this shouldn't be a surprise. Tagliabue has consistently said that no team has ever broken a lease in NFL history. Between that and the "Rozelle letter" the Vikings are here until 2011. However, as Kevin Seifert noted yesterday, Red could easily hold onto the team until then and still make a tidy profit. But I digress.
What I found most interesting about T-Paw's conversation with Sid, though, was what Pawlenty said about Glen Taylor's plan for a stadium if (and when) he purchases the team:
Pawlenty also has visited with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and said Taylor would look at possibly remodeling the Metrodome if he bought the team. Taylor, in my opinion, has a much better chance to get a stadium than the Fowler group.
As much as I would love to have a new state of the art Viking's stadium, I think this is actually the more likely scenario. If Taylor can be convinced that a renovated Dome will put the team at least in the middle of NFL revenue, I don't know why he wouldn't go this route. It is cheaper, and it has a much better chance of passing through the state legislature with some kind of state support. Of course, Taylor still has to buy the team first. Like Curt in Grand Forks, I will continue to pray for that to happen and happen soon.
Concerning the Twins, Pawlenty said that Hennepin County is interested in backing a stadium plan, that both Sviggum and Johnson "would like to see something happen," and that if the casino bill passes he's got a little money tucked in there to help build a stadium. Nothing new there.
However, Sid also reported:
Twins officials have visited with some Indian tribes to talk about the casinos being involved in the building of a new baseball stadium, but nothing has been decided.
This I find very interesting. What if nothing, again, got done in the legislature towards a new Twins stadium? Would the Twins finally decide to look more closely at private financing? Does the Twins' discussions with "some Indian tribes" signal that there is a possibility of a partnership between the tribes and the Twins that doesn't involve the state? Wouldn't that be something. Has anyone heard anything else about this rumor?
Finally, we aren't a month into this year's stadium season and I'm already depressed about this whole mess. The battle lines have already been drawn and we've already got people sqwaking about Pawlenty potentially using gambling money (gambling money!!!) to help pay for stadium(s). This is too much for me. I am once again stunned by the ignorance of people in our state. The second they hear the word stadium they immediately say "No! No! No!" without even considering the merits of the plan, the impact of having the Twins and the Vikings in our state, or the joy it brings many of their fellow Minnesotans.
Many people are still fixiated by the idea that the Twins and Vikings are asking for a handout and the people of Minnesota will be expected to foot the entire bill. We have moved far, far beyond that. If you look at the current stadium debate and landscape, these are some of the plans that are being discussed:
- A ticket tax for fans of the teams who attend the games. Anyone got a problem with this?
- A stadium taxing district that will tax local businesses around a stadium who benefit from it. Do any anti-stadium people have a problem with this?
- The Ventura/Sausen plan, the only stadium bill that passed, that calls for a large upfront payment from the Twins that the state will invest and use the profits from to help pay off the bonds that built the stadium. Does anyone have a problem with this?
- Pawlenty's tax increment financing (TIF) plan which calls for any extra tax money generated by a stadium to be used to pay off the stadium. The state still gets everything it would if the Metrodome was still in use. Everything extra would go towards paying off the stadium. As Pawlenty says, if not for the stadium there wouldn't even be any money. Now, do any stadium nay-sayers have a problem with this?
- Using casino revenues, and a very small portion of those revenues, to help pay for a stadium. To me, this is just a no brainer. If you want to pay for a stadium then gamble. If you don't, then don't gamble. How about that? Does anyone have a problem with that?
- A Twins and Vikings memorabilia tax, as Kenneth Zapp recently suggested, again. Anyone dead set against that happening?
- And of course a large investement from the teams. I'm not even going to ask if anyone has a problem with that.
So, once again, does anyone who considers themselves anti-stadium have a problem with any of these plans? Because these are the kinds of plans that are being discussed right now. Used in combination, I would think these plans could actually build a stadium. Maybe even two. Now, what I need from anti-stadium people, and I'm begging for this, stop just saying "No!" and start looking at what is actually on the table. Take a look at the plan and decide, maybe, that you can live with what the plan offers. Then, instead of writing your legislators with a blanket stadium=no letter, write them and say, "This plan is something I can live with. Let's put this through and move on with our lives." If anti-stadium people in this state would actually educate themselves a little more about this issue, they might find that they don't have a problem with what is being suggested. And if that would happen we might be able to do something we can all agree would be wonderful: never talk about stadiums again.
January 28, 2005
Warning: Stupidity ahead
Behold and harken to my words! I will now impart upon you a story of intrigue and mystery, a story that just might convince you that this blog is even more worthless than you first imagined! I know, hard to believe! It is the Mystery of the Bottle on the Chimney. Read on if you dare! Or if you are bored.
Before church last Sunday I pulled the car out of the garage and waited for my wife and kids to shuffle out into the cold and get in. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a strange sight on top of my chimney. It looked like a bottle, but I couldn't be sure (click on the image for a larger version). I thought, "How strange... did someone climb up on my roof, have a brew, and then leave the bottle?" I immediately thought of Cheesehead Craig, my neighbor, since he is a Packer fan and Packer fans are known to get sloshed every once in a while, but I was perplexed as to why he would climb onto my roof to enjoy his beverage. "Sheesh! Packer fans," I thought, "Just like women, you can't figure them out." Thinking I had the mystery solved we went off to church.
While at church, the intrigue got to me. Is it really a bottle on top of my chimney? And if not, what is it? So, after I got home I climbed up on top of the roof to take a look. Now keep in mind that it had just snowed heavily so my roof was a dangerous place to be, to say the least. Truthfully, I almost fell off several times as my feet tried to find purchase on the newly fallen snow. This, dear readers, is what I do for you. In order to bring you the most interesting Greet Machine I can, I will risk my life to bring you the story you deserve.
Anyway, when I got up there this is what I found. A breathtaking phenomenon of nature, surely worthy of comparison to the aurora borealis or Haley's comet. Behold and be amazed. So, now I must take this opportunity to apologize to Cheesehead Craig. It has now been proven that you don't climb up on top of my roof to do your weird Packer fan stuff, you obviously do all that in the comfort of your own home.
You'll recall a couple of days ago I posted a picture of my daughter getting her ears pierced. I have been chastised for posting such an interesting picture and then not giving any details, so here it goes. My daughter was desperate to get her ears pierced so my wife and I tried to explain to her the whole process. We told her they would poke a hole in her ear and that it will not feel good. In fact, it will hurt. Trying to deter her even more I told her that her ears would bleed. Amazingly, she was not deterred. She was determined to get her ears pierced. So, off we went to Ridgedale thinking that once she got there and saw the instruments of pain that would administer the piercings she would quickly change her mind.
We went to Libby Lu to get her ears pierced. If you've never been to Libby Lu, let me tell you it is an experience. It is on the exact opposite end of the spectrum of stores that I would usually choose to willingly walk into. But it is paradise for little girls. When we walked in they asked my daughter, "Would you like some fairy dust?" She nodded and they said, "Close your eyes and make a wish," and they sprinkled brightly colored dust all over her head. I thought that was hilarious. My daughter was in heaven. We then asked to have her ears pierced and we were told that they had to finish up a birthday party first and then they would be right with us.
Holy guacamole. If you've never seen a birthday party at Libby Lu, plan to spend a day at Ridgedale some Saturday and prepare to be entertained. It is an amazing spectacle. First they dress the girls up, plaster them with makeup, and put hair extensions in. Then they all practice poses and dance moves with the store clerks. Then, all the girls line up outside in front of the store, and the clerks blast "Mambo No. 5" as loud as they can. One of the clerks then stands in front of the girls and literally screams the lyrics, of course changing all the names in the song to the names of the girls in the party. The girls strike poses for all the people passing by as their names are called.
I cannot express to you enough how stunned I was at all of this. It was like watching a train wreck in progress. I couldn't take my eyes off of it. What impressed me the most, though, was the clerk in charge of singing the song. She must have been 16-17 years old and she put on a show for those girls worth every penny of the $20-$30 each of them spent to be at the party. I asked my wife how mortified she would have been singing like that as a teenager, and she, of course, said it would have been overwhelming. I mean, people were literally running up to store yelling, "Is there a cow dying up here? Someone call 911!" Well, not literally, but that is what it sounded like.
Anyway, after the party my daughter did, in fact, get her ears pierced as you will note from the picture. They pierce both ears at once because little girls have been known to settle for just one ear pierced after they realize how much pain the process actually is. I really couldn't believe how brave my daughter was through it all. Not once did she ever consider not going through with it. You can see from the picture that it was a little painful for her, but after it was done she was thrilled.
So, all in all, it was a good night. My daughter got her ears pierced, and I got to see the spectacle that is a Libby Lu birthday party. I have a feeling my daughter will put me through that again.
January 27, 2005
Dick Day is a tad bit upset
Imagine you are a state senator from southeastern Minnesota. Let's say Owatonna. For years you've been pushing the idea of a "racino." Essentially, you want to put slot machines at Canterbury Park and have the state reap the benefits. In the early days of your idea you promise that proceeds from a racino could build as many stadiums as the state of Minnesota wants. Then, when the "lean years" come and the state budget goes in the red, you promise a racino could generate as much as $150 million for the state every two years. Every year you put forth your bill, and every year it never gets out of committee.
Then, in 2005, the governor of Minnesota releases a budget that includes ... no not a racino, but a state sponsored casino in the Twin Cities metro area. The governor promises many of the same things you've promised in terms of revenue for the state but he does not specify an exact location for his enterprise. He suggests that his plan could include a casino at a race-track, but Canterbury Park is not mentioned. You are seemingly not consulted or brought in for discussions concerning the governor's plan, and you are essentially blind-sided by the whole proposal. Who are you? You guessed it, you are Dick Day.
The StarTrib had a very entertaining article in today's paper that had some very choice quotes from Dick Day:
"There are very few of our caucus members who would endorse [the governor's plan] unless it was teamed with racino," Day said, referring to putting slot machines at a track, which he supports. "If it was by itself ... the Democrats and the governor would have to get it passed in the Senate. Good luck there."
Can you just smell the sarcasm dripping off of this statement? Beautiful, T-Paw, just beautiful. Teaming with the Democrats on this proposal doesn't seem very likely, does it? Day also said "Pawlenty's persistent focus in recent months on a tribal-state casino at an unspecified location was a 'slap in the face' to him, Sviggum and other Republicans." Ouch. This is not looking good for Pawlenty's plan.
What on earth prompted Pawlenty to take this route with his proposal? Dick Day has done so much leg work on this already, you would think that teaming with him would have made this a lot easier. Does he not like Dick Day? Or maybe he thought it would be more politically and socially prudent to team up with some of the tribes that don't yet have casinos? Whatever the case, it suddenly looks like Pawlenty is going to have a really hard time getting this bill to go through.
Even T-Paw's cronies the Taxpayer's League have come out against this plan:
"Government should not get into businesses to fund its operations. That's a bad idea today, tomorrow, and forever," said David Strom, president of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota and a Pawlenty supporter. A tax group that has supported Democratic causes also took a dim view of the casino proposal.
So, let's see, the Taxpayers League and one of the most powerful Republicans in the Senate have come out against this plan. And I think it is fair to assume most Democrats will be against the plan just because ... sigh ... welcome to Minnesota politics in a nutshell. Nobody can agree on anything.
I must say I like Day's proposal much more than Pawlenty's. It keeps a casino out of the metro area, it still brings in the same amount of money, we could still include the "have-not" tribes, and it improves an investment we've already made and built: Canterbury Park. What is Pawlenty's motivation for not going this route in the first place. Anyone?
Whatever the final plan, I will continue to hope and pray that it still includes Pawlenty's "Community Assets Account." Again, using casino money to pay for stadiums is just a great idea. If you don't want to pay for a stadium, just don't gamble. Simple.
I have to catch the bus into work today so I'm going to have to be brief. So, I've had my fun with Tom Ridge's nomination. Now it is time for some real stadium news. I'm sure you've all seen the news about Pawlenty's budget, but stuck inside these articles is a ray of hope for all stadium supporters:
Much of his presentation was devoted to outlining Pawlenty's "Gaming Fairness Proposal," which would have participating Indian tribes operating a metro-area casino in partnership with the state. The Minnesota Lottery would operate the slot machines, but the tribes would build, pay for and own the casino itself.
Pawlenty noted that part of the state's share would go into a "Community Assets Account" that would be used "to fund facilities for professional or college sports, the arts or other community priorities."
Regardless of how you or I feel about the morality of using gambling money to balance the state budget, or how happy this "Community Assets Account" makes me, it looks like T-Paw is going to have a really hard time getting this through the legislature. I'm going to have discuss this more later.
Also, there is some stadium news coming out of St. Paul, and it is not looking good. Randy Kelly has some stiff competition in the coming mayoral race, and they are already sqwaking about Kelly's stadium drive. Again, and I'm sorry, I will have to try to tackle this around lunch.
Until then, please feel free to comment on what you think about Pawlenty's use of gambling proceeds for state needs. I'll sum up what I think real quick: gambling money is a great way to pay for stadiums, but maybe not such a great way to help balance the state budget. I welcome your opinion.
January 26, 2005
Sign the petition!
Please sign it if you are interested in seeing stadiums finally built in Minnesota. Thanks Mr. Cheer or Die!
(Just to clarify, this is all a joke. Please don't take this too seriously. Join in the fun!)
Is Fowler for real?
This was just sent to me from Curt in Grand Forks. It seems that Chris Mortenson of ESPN is ready to rain our parade:
More on the Vikings possibly being sold: Two sources with intimate knowledge on the status of the franchise say that the latest proclamation by Phoenix businessman Reggie Fowler is all smoke and no fire.
"He's not even a factor," one source said. "The feeling is, he's trying to intimidate Glen Taylor (another bidder) but Taylor doesn't need to be intimidated -- he's done very little to make this happen."
Taylor is the Minnesota Timberwolves owner who has been identified as the most likely buyer at this stage. But a league source said that Taylor has been fooling himself into thinking that he could force McCombs into coming off his original asking price of $600 million.
Now, with the new television contracts coming in, McCombs isn't dropping his price. He may go up, not down. In fact, Taylor has been advised by league officials that he should act soon if he's serious about purchasing the Vikings at the current $600 million level, although there's a business sense that $575 million might get McCombs' attention.
The sources say there has been one meeting each with Taylor and Fowler and that those meetings were relatively brief. Fowler, they say, is not a major player, regardless of the pomp and circumstance.
There also is nothing clandestine happening behind the scenes.
"There are no confidentiality agreements, no exclusive negotiating period, none of that," said a source."
With this and Red raising his price Taylor better get moving quick or we could have a real rough next couple of seasons.
Tom Ridge for Governor
Welcome TwinsGeek readers. As you probably know, the stadium situation is in dire straits here in Minnesota. So, I offer a sure fire solution to actually get something done in this sorry state:
Tom Ridge for Governor of Minnesotacampaign
While governor of Pennsylvania Tom Ridge figured out how to build 4 new stadiums for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Eagles, and Pitt Panthers. In other words, Tom Ridge is a diplomatic and financial genius. Now that Tom has resigned as directory of the Department of Homeland Security, Minnesota desperately needs his leadership. Please, Tom! Come to Minnesota and lead us to the promised land!
Paid for by the Tom Ridge for Governor of Minnesota Campaign
Links of the day
- 400 years of Don Quixote.
- SeatSale: License to Sit. This seems a little insane.
- This Ukranian man hasn't slept in over 20 years. Impossible I say.
- This guy sure knows how to stack cards! Amazing!
- The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience. Shocking statistics for Christians.
- Ben Goodger, lead developer for Firefox, now works for Google leading to speculation that there will soon be a Firefox-based Google web browser.
- Just in time for the Oscars, the Razzies nominations have also come out.
- Watch this amazing Flash vid of a cheerleader being thrown through a basketball hoop.
- Play every Nintendo and Sega game online for free. Must have Java installed.
- Huge list of unusual Wikipedia articles. This should keep you busy
January 25, 2005
Good news, bad news
By now, we've all heard the good news about Reggie Fowler. I'm still a little skeptical that he will be able to pull this off, but he's got 60 days to prove it thanks to the exclusivity agreement. Truthfully, I sincerely want Fowler to buy the Vikings. I think he's got a passion for the game and the team, and I think he is committed to building a winner. But most importantly, it looks like Fowler is putting together a plan to build a stadium. According to a recent Shooter column:
Fowler's investment group plans to build a stadium privately and develop real estate around it.
Wouldn't that be something if Fowler could privately finance a stadium? It is certainly not unheard of (the Patriots stadium in Foxboro was largely financed privately), and I am certainly willing and excited to see if Fowler can pull it off.
However, as we've seen before with both Pohlad and McCombs, it is usually the billionaire keeping quiet in the shadows that eventually ends up with the team.
And speaking of stadiums, now for some bad news. I don't know how many of you caught this, but the No Stadium Coalition is regrouping and met last night. It will again be headed by Krinkie and Sen. Marty, and it will, again, most likely be a thorn in the side of any stadium supporter. And to make matters worse, Krinkie is also now the chair of the powerful House Taxes Committee. Yikes. Things are looking worse and worse for the Twins.
"Everybody around the State Capitol pretty much agrees that nothing is going to happen with stadiums until after the 2006 gubernatorial election," Rich Pogin, chief financial officer of Investment Management, owner of the so-called Rapid Park site, said Monday.
Did anyone tell Sviggum this? Didn't he boldly predict a Twins stadium bill would pass this session? Let's hope this doesn't deter him. The article goes on to state:
Yet [Pawlenty's] administration effectively killed a baseball bill last year that was acceptable to Senate leaders and was passed by the Republican-run House tax committee. It would have financed a $531 million, retractable-roof baseball stadium without tapping income or property taxes. The plan also met the guidelines of Pawlenty's own 2003 stadium commission.
But the powerful House tax committee killed the bill's chances when it voted down a different financing plan supported by Pawlenty that would have tapped into incremental taxes paid by pro athletes. Some experts doubted that proposal had enough financial muscle to have secured long-term bonds.
These paragraphs are a little confusing, but essentially the House Taxes Committee didn't trust Pawlenty's TIF plan (even though a plan like it funded three stadiums in Pennsylvania) and they changed the bill. The House Ways and Means committee got it next, altered it some more (including adding a soon to expire liquor tax) and the bill died as a result. Sigh. This is probably why a bill will never pass. No one can come to any agreement on how to get it done.
Neal St. Anthony continues to write specifically about the Pogin-Lambrecht plan:
I love the paid-for Metrodome. But the Pogin-Lambrecht plan was the right one and could have been sold fairly to the taxpayers if Pawlenty really had wanted to lead on this one.
Morevover, the ballpark would have been only one piece of a big, privately financed residential-commercial community on what is now parking lots.
The baseball stadium would have been largely financed over 30 years by the Pohlad-Twins contribution, continuation of a 6 percent car rental tax in Hennepin County and the airport that is now used to promote big events, and retention of 1 percent of a 2.5 percent state tax on alcohol that expires this year and that alone would retire $232 million in bonds. Most of the rest of the funding would come from parking revenue from adjacent municipal ramps.
It was a good plan, but those taxes on alcohol and car rentals were really controversial. Were they new taxes? Why not shift them to something more important, like education? I doubt they will ever be used for a stadium. In fact, they most likely will just expire and not be used for anything.
Again, I ask you, is anyone upset we built the Metrodome? The Xcel Energy Center? Old Met Stadium? All of these places were built with public money and Minnesotans and the entire upper Midwest were better off for them. And what about the Mall of America?
Never forget, the Mall of America wouldn't have happened without $130 million-plus in public access roads and other work funded by local and state government.
We can get something like this done if we just put away our collective myopic view on how much money the owners have and start focusing on how having MLB baseball in our state benefits all of us.
And that stadium also could serve as a home for amateur sports, a Near North Side parking garage and other public purposes. The Twinsville proposal took no taxes from public school kids, the environment or transportation. It remains a credible, shared-source approach that preserves a statewide asset and puts it in the middle of what will be a tax-generating expansion of the city's flowering sports-and-entertainment district and at the hub of its transit-and-parking district.
Sounds good. Let's hope something gets done so we can put this all behind us. The only person who reads this that will probably be happy, besides David, is Jim in St. Paul who probably sees this as a chance for St. Paul to take the lead in the stadium sweepstakes. What do you think, Jim?
January 24, 2005
Fowler in town
KSTP just reported some interesting news about Reggie Fowler, who attended tonight's T-Wolves game as the personal guest of Denny Hecker. According to Joe Schmit, who interviewed Fowler on camera, Fowler and Red have signed an "exclusivity agreement" which means that McCombs can only negotiate with Fowler at this point, and for a period of 60 days. Fowler brushed aside reports that he didn't have the financial means to buy the Vikings saying "people can say what they want" and that he wouldn't be here if he didn't have the money. Cheesehead Craig also called to tell me that KMSP reported that Fowler needs to have $180 million of his own money to make the purchase, and that $180 million is Fowler's "magic number" to adhere to NFL ownership rules.
Fowler also made it clear that he would move to Minnesota if he bought the team and that while he is here he will be shopping for a home on Lake Minnetonka. Joe Schmit also reported that Fowler may need "7-10 days" before he can make a bid.
Holy cow. I think this is for real. God bless you Reggie! And good luck with the negotiations. Anybody else got any rumors?
Odds and ends
I'm listening to the new 89.3 FM MPR radio station called "The Current" and I'm liking what I've heard so far. Good music from the past (I'm listening to Ray Charles right now) and present, good local coverage, and no commercials. I know, amazing. You should check out the web stream if you are interested.
Speaking of music I've been listening to a lot of new music lately and most of what I've been listening to has impressed me immensly. Here is a run down of what has been in my CD player:
- Keane -- Hopes and Fears -- Great new band that features piano and not guitars. Good stuff.
- Secret Machines -- Now Here is Nowhere -- Wow. The spirit of Led Zeppelin returns with this hard rocking group. If you like heavy drums and thoughtful and melodic guitar based rock, look no further. I am highly impressed.
- Garden State soundtrack -- The movie didn't impress me that much, but the soundtrack is a thing of beauty. Mostly accoustic and all elegance. And it introduced me to ...
- Frou Frou -- Details -- I know, how can I listen to a band called Frou Frou? I should turn in my Led Zeppelin fan club badge right now. But their music is, again, technological elegance. It reminds me a lot of the Sundays with their female lead singer and her understated lyrical delivery. Cool, cool stuff. "Let Go" is a masterpiece.
- The Killers -- Hot Fuss -- I love passionate music, where the singer and band really feel the music they are playing and excude that feeling to the audience. "Mr Brightside" captures pain and jealousy better than any song I've heard in a long time. Plus, its got a good beat that you can dance to.
Got any recommendations? Let me hear them.
The St. Paul Winter Carnival is getting into full swing, and that means that we have another year of Treasure Hunt Clues. I have looked for the treasure for about 5 years now. And three years ago I was at the park the night before it was found. So close! Anyway, if you are interested the Pioneer Press is publishing the clues on their web site. I think today's clue means the medallion is at a park with paths and water. I know, talk about a genius ...
That's it for now.
January 23, 2005
I am absolutely flummoxed by this editorial in the Star Tribune today entitled Let those who benefit pay for a new stadium by Kenneth Zapp, an instructor at the College of Management at Metropolitan State University. For one thing, the editorial shows how truly ignorant the general public is in terms of stadium issues. It is almost like Zapp thinks that no one has ever thought of any of the funding ideas he discusses. Does he think that the only thing on the table is a general sales tax to pay for 100% of the stadiums?
Don't get me wrong, Zapp's ideas are wonderful and if it were as easy as he makes it sound a Twins stadium would have already been built. However, most of his ideas have already been discussed at the state capitol. Zapp writes:
The public's contribution can be funded by taxes or fees applied to those who directly benefit from the stadium and the team's use of it. There is no need or justification for government forcing citizens who do not benefit from it to pay for a stadium.
Agreed! Agreed! Agreed! Let's take a look at some of his great ideas, shall we? And I'm serious, they are great!
Fans attending games: Ticket taxes can be applied.Good idea. This has already been considered and will probably be a part of any stadium bill that passes. What else have you got?
Fans buying team souvenirs and paraphernalia: Special sales tax on all such purchases can be applied.Fantastic idea! But again, this has already been tried, as recently as two years ago. It was suggested that all sports memorabilia could be taxed to help pay for stadiums, but our fine legislators couldn't get past the problem of some poor soul who buys a NASCAR T-Shirt paying for a stadium that they will never use and they nixed the idea. What if just Vikings or Twins paraphernalia was taxed? Again, our legislators were so confused by the NASCAR problem above they never brought the idea up again. It does have potential though. Next?
Bars and restaurants that derive business from fans attending games: A special hospitality tax on all such businesses within the district of the stadium can be applied. This should not be imposed on all businesses in a city or county because some would lose business to those closer to the stadium.Great idea. Again, the idea of a stadium district has been thought of before. I would be surprised, though, to see this idea in any stadium bill. Why? Because our legislators are idiots and it makes too much sense. What is the next idea?
Media firms broadcasting and covering games in the stadium: Substantial fees can be applied to all such usage of games in the new stadium. The Cardinals in St. Louis intend to use cable TV fees to help them pay for their new stadium. The owners of the Twins, however, assume they can keep these fees for themselves.The Cardinals make at least twice as much more through TV and radio than the Twins do. Of course, this could have been different with Victory Sports, but the legislature managed to screw that up by demanding, as the part of the stadium bill of the time, that the Twins had to be on TV. This put the team between a rock and a hard place and forced them to give up on Victory Sports and renegotiate with FSN. Then, to pour salt on that wound, the legislature failed to pass any stadium bill. Gee, thanks. With Victory Sports the Twins could have made enough revenue to probably remain competitive even without a new stadium, and they also hinted that they would have been willing to use some of their revenue from Victory Sports to help pay for a stadium. Now, though, thanks to a short-sighted legislature and public, the Twins were forced to sign an 8 year deal with FSN for about $12 million a year (somebody correct me if I'm wrong). Victory would have given them a minimum of $30 million per year. Next idea?
Players who earn higher salaries: Income taxes on the incremental salary levels can be appropriated for part of the public's contributions.This idea was part of Pawlenty's TIF financing idea, where any extra money the state gets from a new stadium would go to pay it off. The state would still get the same money it would have gotten from the Metrodome. The TIF plan, which built three stadiums in Pennsylvania, was killed in the House Taxes committee. Speaking of this specific part of the idea, however, where do player's income taxes currently end up? That's right, the general revenue fund. As much sense as this idea makes, there is no way the state legislature allows any of this money to go towards a stadium. It has already been discussed and nixed. It is a great idea and if we had more of the public voicing their support for this idea it might work. But we don't. Let's move on.
Other sources may include parking taxes near the stadium on game days, regionwide hotel taxes to capture some of the out-of-town visitor spending, and, if necessary, a tiny increase in the state business income tax to reflect the public-relations benefits that firms derive from team success.This is the point where I did fall out of my seat. Have you been paying attention, Mr. Zapp? These are some of the first ideas to be mentioned in any stadium discussion. Parking taxes? Fantastic, where do we sign up? Hotel taxes? Holy cow, a hotel tax could easily pay for a couple of stadiums and is a method already used to help pay for stadiums in Anaheim, Detroit, Houston, Seattle, and Tampa Bay. Where do you come up with such great ideas!?!? And an increase in the state business income tax is also a fantastic idea. I seem to recall a certain stadium in Washington DC being built this way.
I wish it were this easy! All of these ideas have been discussed ad naseum at the state capitol and yet we still do not have a stadium. At first I was confused as to why the Star Tribune would publish a letter like this. Then it dawned on me: if this is what the general public feels are acceptable stadium funding solutions then we are half way there. Is there anything controversial about these ideas? Are these ideas that the general public could get behind to finally solve this problem?
While I don't think Kenneth Zapp has been paying attention, I have to now thank him for writing this letter. Great ideas, written and explained in a concise and easy to understand fashion that even the most dense legislator can understand. Unfortunately that is most of them.
What are the chances of these ideas actually being implemented? Like I said, most of these ideas have been discussed already. And once again, I put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the legislature. The Twins and the Vikings would welcome most of these ideas, especially a hotel tax or the business income tax, but the legislature refuses to consider anything beyond taxing the people and referendums. Will this year be different? I don't know, but I sure hope so.
January 21, 2005
If you haven't had a chance to read Mr. Cheer or Die's great post from yesterday concerning gloom, despair, and agony, I suggest you get right over there and read it right now. It does a fantastic job of spelling out what the Vikings have been telling us for a good four years now, that they are falling further and further behind in revenues as compared to the rest of the NFL and that soon they will be unable to compete. We've already seen this with the departure of Linehan and the way he departed. The Vikings could simply not afford him and now he makes more than Mike Tice! He also alluded to the same thing Mike Kelly did when he left, that the Vikings are stagnating. Mr. Cheer or Die goes on to explain that it is only going to get worse:
There will be no significant free agent signings in 2005 and beyond. There will be no moving up to a Top 10 draft pick on Draft Day. Because there is no money to throw around.
There will be, instead, free agent signings that will be voiced as "significant" when in fact, the free agent is an oft-injured retread that the team wants to take a chance on because the guy signed a low-ball contract.
There will be, instead, the Vikes looking to trade out of their first round selection every year because they simply cannot afford to sign a first round rookie stud.
There will be, instead, unhappy coaches at Winter Park that are so below the league average on terms of salary that they need to pick up a second job.
We don't deserve this. We just don't. And who is to blame? As Mr. Cheer or Die points out, and I'm glad he did, it is my favorite whipping boys: the state legislature. I'll also throw in our governor, T-Paw as Barreiro likes to call him, and his complete lack of leadership towards this issue. Their inability to do anything of importance at all and their complete ignorance of the true will of the Minnesota people is simply stunning.
Here is what I think is hilarious, that the legislature thinks that they are doing the right thing by watching the Twins and Vikings wave goodbye, that they are somehow going to get thanked by the people of Minnesota for keeping our "priorities" at the forefront and sticking it to those billionaire owners. Please. The people of Minnesota are going to turn on them so fast it will make their heads spin. Do you remember a couple of weeks ago when the ratings for the Viking/Packer playoff game came out?
Sunday's game also reached several national milestones. Its 18.4 national rating and 33 national share made it the country's top-rated and most watched television show of the week. It was also the most watched wild-card game on any network since 2000 and the most watched wild-card game on Fox since 1999.
Or how about this little tidbit:
At least 850,000 households locally and probably closer to 950,000 watched Sunday. The game also received a 75 share, meaning 75 percent of the televisions turned on Sunday afternoon in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area were tuned to KMSP (Ch. 9). The rating and share was easily the highest in the country, outdistancing second-place Milwaukee (46.1/67).
Ratings like these carry over throughout the whole state. The Vikings have consistently stated that on Viking gamedays 75% of the TVs in the state are tuned into the game. 75%!!!
Does the legislature really think that the people of the state are going to forgive them for letting this team get away? It will be a bloodbath, and let me tell you I will be one of the people leading the charge.
And what about the Twins? Do you remember the fan reaction to Victory Sports and the fact that it wasn't available on most cable or sattelite TV packages? It was one of outrage. Letters poured into the capitol at such a rate that our fine legislators actually modified the last stadium bill to stipulate that nothing gets built until the Twins are back on TV. Imagine what the outcry will be if the Twins are contracted or move to Las Vegas.
Our legislators are morons. As they sit and twiddle their thumbs and talk about "priorities" stadium costs continue to rise and rise. Check out this list of the costs of new stadiums and renovations from the early 90s:
Camden Yards: $235 million, 96% public subsidy from lottery proceeds
U.S. Cellular Field: $150 million, 100% public subsidy from hotel tax
Jacobs Field: $173 million, 88% public subsidy from alcohol, tobacco, and gate and concession tax
Comerica Park: $290 million, 50% public subsidy from hotel and car rental tax and casino revenue tax
Now a stadium costs at least twice as much as any of these. Any savings the legislature thought they could gain by trying to squeeze more money out the owners is rapidly disappearing. And did you catch the last funding source for Comerica Park? Casino revenue taxes. Here is a wonderful idea that the Native American tribes in this state have already said they are willing to be a part of. What does Pawlenty do? He continues to strong arm them and play bad cop by threatening to open a state run casino which will have the wonderful impact of tying state general fund dollars to casino revenues. What a great idea. Everyone get out there and play the slots so we can fund education because Pawlenty refuses to ... oh what is the use...
Morons. All of them. And they will pay. The sad thing is that we will also pay because it won't be long before we get another NFL or MLB team for twice as much and a stadium that costs twice as much. It is inevitable. It happened in Cleveland, it happened in Houston, it is happening in Washington D.C. right now.
I've said enough. Back to work.
January 20, 2005
Links of the day
- Shareable "to-do" lists called "Ta-Da Lists." Interesting concept.
- What if ... I'm a little perplexed by this site but I spent at least five minutes looking at the different incarnations of this guys life. Fascinating.
- If you haven't seen this, Bill Gates poses for Teen Beat magazine circa 1983. Could someone please tell me definitively if these are for real? I am inclined to think so.
- Cool! I need one of these for my desk.
- For all the Vikings fans out there, the "Brett Favre Excuse-o-matic!" (From Mr. Cheer or Die)
- And I'm sure you've all seen this, but if not I present Darth Tater!
- Scary, but we seem to be getting less sunlight than we did 50 years ago.
- Sheet music for Super Mario Brother's theme songs
- Cool. Calculating the year's top albums as gleaned from multiple top 10 lists
- Beautiful story of real love. Made me think of how lucky I am.
January 19, 2005
Stadium season is upon us
The Vikings season is over and Spring Training doesn't begin until March. That can only mean one thing, that stadium season is in full swing. Jay Weiner of the Star Tribune wrote a great series of articles yesterday, one that discusses the probable factors that could result in stadium-building success, and one that discusses in chart form past successes (Xcel Energy Center) and failures (all the rest). Of the two TC dailies stadium beat writers, Aron Kahn of the PiPress and Jay Weiner, I find Weiner's articles on the topic to be the best and most indicative of the chances for stadium success this session. In a word, I would say that Weiner's views on the possibility of something getting done this session are "tepid." Let's take a look.
First of all, Weiner beats home what he sees as the factors for stadium success. These are mainly taken from the success St. Paul had in building the Xcel Energy Center. They include:
- A determined governor (where have you gone Arne Carlson?)
- A site specific proposal (The Twins are going to have to make a decision)
- A bonding bill that can be used to barter with (Carlson refused to sign the bonding bill unless it included funding for the X)
- A simple financing package (the X was built with 50% coming from a state loan to be paid back by the Wild in the form of rent and 50% by taxing St. Paul. No referendum was needed and I dare say St. Paul residents are pretty happy with the deal.)
- Firm support from the proposed site's legislative delegation (Minneapolis legislators have been horrible in their support for a Twins stadium. St. Paul has a leg up here I would think.)
- And possibly the on-field success of the team (I would not include this. The Twins have won their division three times and they haven't gotten any further on solving this problem).
Looking at all these factors, I would say the chances of them all happening again at the same time are not very good. However, I do agree that possibly the most important of all of these factors is having a governor that is willing to go out on a limb and fully support building a stadium. That is how the Xcel Energy Center was built and that is how 4 stadiums were built in Pennsylvania. My hero, Tom Ridge, made building stadiums a top priority and got the job done. Now we have the possibility of an all Pennsylvania Super Bowl. Coincidence? I think not.
Other interesting tidbits from the above articles include:
"The best chance of a stadium getting done is if it's part of other big issues getting done," said Blois Olson, the Democrat coeditor of MNPolitics.com. "But Pawlenty is vulnerable [in 2006] if nothing gets done again, including a stadium. "
I find this interesting and a little frightening. If the Democrats think Pawlenty is vulnerable in 2006 and that not building a stadium would help in making him more vlunerable, I think it stands to reason that they could intentionally throw up some road blocks on the stadium front. I sure hope not.
Twins Sports Inc. President Jerry Bell, who has been owner Carl Pohlad's stadium point man for 10 years, hinted recently in an interview that the team might be ready to pick the city it prefers and, finally, bring a site-specific bill to the Legislature.
I had not heard this, but I am relieved to hear it now. Has anyone elese heard what location Bell is rumored to be favoring? I would think it would be the Warehouse District in Minneapolis, but the Minneapolis legislative delegation are a bunch of worthless stiffs. Maybe the Twins would favor St. Paul because they have proven they can get something done?
But even last session, with a deficit, the Twins inched close to a ballpark deal with state backing. A key moment came in May in a House Ways and Means Committee hearing.
The conditions were these: state deficit lower than in previous years; Hennepin County and St. Paul had their own sites and finance plans; and, at a committee hearing, two metro-wide taxes, in existence but poised to expire at the end of 2005, were amended to the bill.
A rental car tax -- mostly paid by tourists -- and an alcohol tax could have funded the state's piece of a ballpark.
But using taxes that are now going into the general fund and a tax that had to be extended were -- and remain -- off limits to the Pawlenty administration.
As much as I want to get my hopes up for the use of these two soon-to-be-expired taxes, I know better. Pawlenty would consider these to be new taxes, and he has already made numerous pledges against creating any new taxes. As much as I want something like this to work, I just don't see it flying.
The sad thing is that the extra money that could be gained from these two taxes is sorely needed, especially for a potential Vikings stadium. When you look at Pawlenty's TIF plan, it works great for the Twins because they play 81 games a year at home. There is tons of new tax money from the TIF plan to help pay for the stadium. Not so for the Vikings and their 10 games a year. I remember Abrams just badgering Lester Bagley last year in committee, demanding that Bagley tell him where all the extra money was going to come from. So, again, the TIF plan works great for the Twins, and not so great for the Vikings. Extra money will need to come from somewhere if the Vikings will finally get a new home.
Then today, there was another great article in the Strib concerning a possible stadium construction timeline. Just reading it made my eyes water. Take a look at the first two dates:
Spring 2005: The Legislature approves construction of a $235 million 50,000-seat stadium on the University of Minnesota campus.
The Legislature approves a $535 million, 42,000-seat Twins ballpark with a retractable roof, in either Minneapolis or St. Paul.
Gulp. Wouldn't that be something? It is completely possible, and completely within the power of the state legislature to finally figure out, but I will be amazed if something like this happens. Anyway, the timeline also raises some other interesting questions, especially in regards to a new Vikings stadium or a renovated Dome. It suggests that government officials in the area are loathe to not use the Metrodome site for something since so much work has been done on the infrastructure in the area:
It is at a vortex of freeways and now light rail, and it's a familiar destination for fans.
"It doesn't seem right to get rid of all the infrastructure investments that have been made on that site," said Minneapolis City Council Member Scott Benson.
He's right, and I'm afraid if something doesn't get done in Anoka County, this may be the only option the Vikings have. A recent article in the Pioneer Press said as much:
But the potential of the project is too great to give up on now, say stadium supporters. The 740-acre parcel, on the interstate between two interchanges, will be developed soon — with or without the stadium.
And if the opportunity is lost, it would be the end of the only real plan to ensure that Minnesota doesn't lose the Vikings, said Sen. Don Betzold, DFL-Fridley.
"I think this is the last chance to keep the Vikings," Betzold said.
That is a little pessimistic, but it is certainly the only plan on the table. These kinds of quotes and sound bites lead me to believe, though, that if Anoka County falls through, the Dome renovation plan mentioned by Weiner above may be the Vikings only option. And that plan would require a new Gopher's stadium.
So much to ponder, and so much "real" work to get done. Let me know what you think.
January 18, 2005
Vikings sale rumors
Mr. Cheer or Die writes a great rumor today concerning a potential Vikings sale. It seems a sale to Reggie Fowler is very much a possibility at this point:
Former Vikings punter and current Vikings Game Day sideline reporter Greg Coleman is friends with Arizona entrepreneur Reggie Fowler who has been off and on news in regards to purchasing the Vikings from Red McCombs. Well, Fowler is back on again. Coleman spoke at length with Fowler recently and gets the feeling that a sale is near. No price mentioned, and Coleman is not sure if Taylor would be involved. Fowler wants a family like atmosphere and has zero intention of moving the team. Coleman also said today on KFAN Radio that Fowler wants to move his entire business to Minnesota as well as his family.
In fact, Mr. Cheer or Die says that this very news was reported today on WCCO radio, and this weekend on KFAN, so I think we may see something fairly quickly. Thanks for the great reporting Mr. Cheer or Die!!
This is somewhat similar to the rumors that I've recently heard concerning a sale to Fowler and/or Taylor. Last week on a local sports show featuring Mike Max, Sid Hartman and Dark Star, it was rumored that Glen Taylor was 45 days from purchasing the team and that he was receiving heavy pressure from the NFL to include Fowler in the deal. Both Mike Max and Dark Star energetically backed up this rumor saying that a Taylor/Fowler purchase should almost be expected at this point.
Then, I got this rumor from an anonymous commenter for a post of about a week ago:
Rumor around town is that a deal has been done. Fowler's group owns majority of the team and Glen Taylor has a 10% stake...a stadium deal is also apprarently ready to go...expect news to be released soon!
All of these rumors involving Taylor and Fowler ... I can't help but think there is some major wheeling and dealing going on right now between those two and McCombs.
Keep your fingers crossed. I think we may finally be rid of this Texas-sized nightmare pretty soon.
We've heard this all before, but I think it is real this time.
I know, I know!!!
I know that there stadium articles coming out the wazoo today! What, do you think I'm blind? I've read them all drooling and bug-eyed and I found all of them very interesting. I've also got some things to say. The trouble is that I'm swamped here at work. I know what you are thinking, "How can a librarian be swamped at work? All they do is sit around and read all day." Blah! I wish.
So, anyway, I'm going to try to have something up around lunch time, probably close to 1:00. I've got some comments concerning all the stadium news and also some Viking sale rumors I've heard recently. So, if you are interested, stay tuned.
January 17, 2005
Happy birthday ... to me!
Just a quick note that today is my birthday (note the "countdown" below is now empty!), and the U, in their infinite wisdom, decided to give everyone the day off in honor of it! Well, actually, Martin Luther King, Jr. had something to do with our day off, but that is OK. Here are my thoughts and feelings today:
I had a great weekend in Boston. The ALA advertised my presentation in their daily conference newsletter so the room was packed. Standing room only and at least 200 people. Of course, some of the people were probably there to hear my co-presenters, namely Mike Keller from Stanford, but I was relieved that no one got up to leave when I started speaking.
I rode the subway while I was in Boston and I was very impressed with how efficient it was. However, I did have an interesting "Bostonian" experience. On Sunday I got to the "T" station at 5:30 in the morning to get to the airport for my 7:30 flight, only to find out that the "T" doesn't start running until 6 AM on Sunday mornings. Of course, they didn't have any hours posted or anything, so I was a little confused. I was especially confused when almost everyone that came to the station jumped the token gate without paying. I thought to myself, "Is this what Bostonians do Sunday mornings when someone is late in opening the gates?" So, after seeing some more people do it, I decided to jump the gate too. I jumped it, walked down the stairs to the rails, and found everyone that had jumped it still down there waiting for the train. Then a scary thing happened, a "T" worker walked down the stairs to survey the situation. I was afraid that he would know that none of us had paid, which would be pretty easy to figure out since no one was selling tokens. Luckily he just sauntered past us all. An elderly African American woman then approached me and said, "Bet you thought he was going to bust you!" and I replied, "Actually, yes, I was a little worried." She said, "Here is what you do when you are in Boston. You say, 'It wasn't me!'" I thought that was a little strange so I said, "How about I just pay him the money?" and she replied, "He'll think it is a bribe and he'll just take the money and ask for more!" I answered, "OK, I'll just follow your lead then." She said, "That's right, repeat after me: It wasn't me!" So, I did and we had a good laugh.
So, anyway, the people in Boston were great and I really enjoyed riding the "T." I highly recommend it.
January 17th is not the best time to have a birthday. Not only is it a little close to Christmas, but almost every year the Vikings do something to screw it up. Just take a look at these great birthday's from my past:
- Jan. 16, 2005 - NFC Divisional - Philadelphia 27, Minnesota 14
- Jan. 14, 2001 - NFC Championship - N.Y. Giants 41, Minnesota 0
- Jan. 17, 1999 - NFC Championship - Atlanta 30, Minnesota 27 (OT)
- Jan. 17, 1988 - NFC Championship - Washington 17, Minnesota 10
- Jan. 15, 1984 - NFC Divisional - Washington 21, Minnesota 7
Before then my memory gets a little fuzzy since I was just a little tyke. Anyway, although I am a little upset the Vikings lost yesterday, I am still thrilled they beat the Packers. That should sustain me until traning camp opens.
Finally, here is what I'll be doing on my birthday:
- Sleep in (check!)
- Write in Greet Machine (check!)
- Go see National Treasure with my two boys
- Maybe go to the Como Conservatory with my whole family
- Eat at Fuddruckers tonight where I will purchase a cheeseburger for Cheesehead Craig to take care of the bet I lost when the Packers won the North. I know, I have to buy someone else a cheeseburger on my birthday. But I will do it happily since the Vikings beat the Packers in the playoffs! Yippeee!
- Watch one of my movies tonight. Either Gattaca or Troy. Probably Troy since I haven't seen it yet.
- Prepare for my class tomorrow night. It will be on blogs, so I don't think I will have to prepare long
- Go to bed .
See all of you later!
January 13, 2005
Memo to Dan Monson: keep doing what you are doing. Never, ever again try to recruit any Minnesota players that want to use the Gopher's program as a stepping stone to the NBA. You have finally built a great team by doing what you do best: finding the diamonds in the rough and molding them into a team. Hustle, determination, tenacity, teamwork, and yes, finally some skill are all characteristics of this Gopher's team. They are a joy to watch. Ski-U-Mah, my friends, Ski-U-Mah.
Today I'll be listening to the Who's Tommy. If The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's created the genre of rock music as art, Tommy perfected it in the form of the "rock opera." What a beautiful album. Do you know the story? Tommy's father supposedly dies in the war and his mother re-marries. When Tommy's father comes home, he his killed by Tommy's new step-father. All of this is witnessed by Tommy who then goes into a near comatose state, as the Who says, "deaf, dumb, and blind." However, there is something going on in Tommy's head, anguish and pain. Eventually people discover that Tommy has a very unique skill for a blind person, he is a pinball wizard. He becomes famous and he is sent to a doctor that may finally be able to cure him. At the doctor's office he is told to go to the mirror and he finally sees himself, and by seeing himself something inside him snaps. For a short time afterward he simply stares at himself in the mirror until his mother can't take it anymore and she smashes the mirror. This breaks him out of his dumbfounded state and he develops a messianic complex. Due to his success at pinball he already has a large following who now practically worship him. His evil parents and family try to capitalize on his fame by creating "Tommy's Holiday Camp." However, his followers soon figure out that Tommy is really a nobody and they destroy the camp and leave Tommy all alone.
That's it in a nutshell, but, of course, there is obviously a whole lot more. A commentary on fame, religion, psychosis, and familial relationship, Tommy ranks up there as one of the greatest rock albums of all time.
Speaking of basketball, how about those Timberwolves? Stick and Ball Guy already writes a lot about the Wolves so I'll try to keep this short, but they are really painful to watch. I went to the Lakers game on Monday, and like I said, seeing Daunte at the game was the best part of the whole night. Well, actually, the bongo guy was pretty good too. Compared with the Gophers, the T-Wolves are not a very harmonious "team," they are a bunch of individuals trying to score points. The played inconsistently (absolutely tanking in the 4th) and they were crushed on the boards. Having said all that, I actually think they will figure all of this out. I seem to recall the Lakers being a 5th seed a couple of years back and going to the NBA Finals after a strong finish to the regular season. I predict a full turnaround for this team. They'll be all right.
We all know how Mr. Cheer or Die feels about Fox Sports and the hypocrisy surrounding Moss's moonshot, but it appears UThink has another Vikings' fan in the midst: Winter in the Cities. Laurene writes a good post suggesting that there [I need a grammar checker] is a tinge of racism in Joe Buck's comments about Moss and that she agrees with Red's demand to have him removed from the booth. I hadn't thought about it that way, but sadly I think she is right. For example, if Favre had done the same thing, Buck and Berman would have been praising his "competitive spirit." You know it is true. Sid writes a good column today highlighting a letter from St. Joe's praising Moss's charitable activity. I'm sure there is a lot about Moss we don't know.
Well, you won't be hearing from me again for a couple of days, unless I write something again today, as I'll be headed to the American Library Association midwinter conference in Boston tomorrow. I'll be giving another presentation on UThink. It seems that people all over the place are interested in this beast, and I couldn't be more thrilled with that. So, again, you probably won't hear from me again until after the Vikings game.
And speaking of the Vikings game this Sunday, hope has now completely taken over. I predict a Vikings victory! NFC Championship here we come!
January 12, 2005
Books read since August 24, 2004
OK, enough about sports for just a little bit. I have to get this out of the way before it becomes even more impossible. One of the reasons I wanted to start a blog so long ago was to keep track of my reading. I used to do this through a site on another library server, but I gave that up when I started to keep track of the books I've read on this blog. However, the last time I wrote about the books I've read was back on August 26 so I've got some catching up to do. If you are interested, great, if not that's OK.
What follows are the books I've read since August 26, 2004 with a little blurb about them, and whether or not I enjoyed them:
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell
This was a fantastic book. One of the best books I've read in the past couple of years. Strange and Norell tells the story of two wizards in Englad that are trying to restore magic to its former glory. The book is written in a Victorian/Charles Dickens style so it is very dense. Everything is explained in excrutiating detail complete with footnotes that sometimes last for 2-3 pages. But every word was pure joy to read. Highly recommended.
Wisdom of Crowds
Another nifty book that goes against the age old addage that you shouldn't follow the crowd. In this book the author argues quite convincingly that large groups of people are almost always smarter as a whole in decisions than one or two so-called "experts." Fascinating anecdotes are sprinkled throuhgout the text making for a very short read. If you are a manager you should definitely check it out.
A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles
This is one of the few books that I have read twice. This was the second time I read it. I needed some background for my most recent Songs for a Desert Island in which I discussed "Strawberry Fields Forever." So, I read this book again. If you are at all interested in the Beatles, this is the book to start with. It is by far my favorite book on the Beatles, and I've read a lot of them.
This is a Christian science fiction book that I really wasn't expecting much out of, but in the end I really enjoyed it. It has one of the strangest beginnings to a book I've ever read. The reader is shuttled back and forth between alternate realities, one of which that is so confusing it made me stick with the book just to learn what was going on. So, it was nice to read something that unique for a change.
Circuit of Heaven
This book tells the story of a future where most of the Earth's residents have decided to upload themselves to a Matrix like reality called the "Bin" where they can live an eternal existence. The main protaganist of the story, Nemo, has decided not to enter the Bin, until he falls in love with someone already there. A stirring story of virtual romance with some profound questions of the nature of reality, Circuit of Heaven continues a string of great books from one of my new favorite authors, Dennis Danvers.
Book Nobody Read
You know, this book sounded a whole lot cooler than it actually was. The author, Owen Gingerich, decides he is going to track down all the first and second editions of Nicolas Copernicus's De Revolutionibus and look at the margin notes to try to figure out who read that particular copy and what they thought of it. The idea was that although De Revolutionibus greatly impacted the Renaissance and the Reformation, the author was under the impression that very few people read the book or understood it. For those of you that don't know, De Revolutionibus postulated that the Earth revolves around the sun. Anyway, the book was utterly boring. Only an archivist could truly appreciate it, from my standpoint.
End of Days
Sequel to the Circuit of Heaven above. Not as good as that book either, although it was still a page turner.
Time Travelers Wife
OK, I'll admit it. I cried at the end of this book. It was so touching I couldn't stop the tears from flowing. It wasn't The Notebook type tears (I cried like a baby at the end of that one) but it was enough that I had to get a tissue. The Time Travelers Wife is a unique bit of science fiction in that it certainly has time travel, but the science behind it is unimportant. The book deals with how it affects a relationship between a man and a woman, starting with when the woman is just a young girl. Very imaginative and well written. And of course, very touching. Right up there with Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell for books I really enjoyed this last year.
The Elric Saga
Fantasy ... either it really works, or it doesn't. The Elric Saga tells the story of Elric of Melnibone, the albino ruler of that kingdom, and his trials and tribulations. Typical fantasy: tons of magic, an important quest, an evil arch nemesis, etc. etc. Once you've read A Game of Thrones and others in the Song of Ice and Fire series, other fantasy books just do not compare.
Anvil of Stars
Sequel to the Forge of God. In the Forge of God sinister aliens destroy the Earth and only a handful of humans escape with the help of the mysterious Benefactors. In the Anvil of Stars The Benefactors recruit child survivors to be the crew of a "Ship of the Law," a ship designed to seek out the planet destroyers and give them justice. Anvil of Stars is very similar to Ender's Game in that children are again used to seek revenge on an alien culture. And again, it takes a special kind of child to have what it takes to carry out that revenge. Overall a good book, but not nearly as good as Ender's Game. If you haven't read that one yet, do yourself a favor and do so.
Wow. American Gods tells the story of Shadow, an ex con that gets out of prison just after his wife dies. Along the way back home he meets the mysterious Mr. Wednesday who offers him a job. Shadow later learns that Wednesday is actually the old Norse god Odin, and all of his buddies are also old gods that were brought to America through immigration and slavery, but have all but been forgotten now. The book deals with how the gods are coping with being forgotten, and Wednesday's efforts to change all that and get some of his old glory back. This one took a while to get into, but in the end it was a very satisfying read. A little gruesome though. Sometimes gods demand sacrifice.
That's it for now. Hopefully I can keep up with this a little better in the new year.
More from the mind of snackeru
Greetings and salutations Greet Machine readers! I trust you are having a good day. Me? I'm feeling pretty good. I don't know if you know this about me, but I have a second job as a professor at the College of St. Kate's. I know, hard to believe isn't it? Professor "Stadium Freak." I teach a class called LIS 753 - Internet Fundamentals and Design at St. Kate's every Winter semester. Last night was my first class of the new year and it went pretty well. So, I feel good about that. And, believe it or not, I even found time in my first lecture to try to convince my students about the benefits of building a new Twins stadium. I know, I'm sick, but how could I not? I had 11 students sitting there listening to every word I said. Last night I gave a lecture on the history of the Internet and during part of that I talked about Usenet. A couple of years ago I used Usenet to document what I think is one of my better ideas, naming the new Twins stadium "Marshall Field." I brought this up to the class and showed them this post as an example of some of the content that can be found on Usenet. So, I was able to talk about the Twins stadium and Usenet to my class all at the same time! Simple pleasures, people, simple pleasures.
I think Curt in Grand Forks and I have similar feelings about this whole Moss mooning business, and it really has nothing to do with Moss's actions in particular, but other people's reactions to it. For example, in a comment below Curt points out:
Not to beat a dead horse, but here is what Peter King said about the fake moon:
"Simulation-mooning Lambeau is like mooning the Mormon Tabernacle Choir."
Somehow Lambeau Field has been turned into a national institution/religous shrine, and Packer fans have been turned into God's chosen people. Pathetic!!
Amen to that. Absolutely pathetic, like Lambeau is a house of worship or something. It actually makes me sick. Chris Berman was the worst though. He practically genuflects every time he mentions Favre and Lambeau. After Sunday's game against the Packers he had this to say about Moss's mooning, "Randy disgraced Lambeau Field with this and he disgraced himself." Randy disgraced Lambeau Field? Is Lambeau Field holy ground or something? Do we have to remove our shoes when we enter? So, when Packer fans moon the opposing team's bus when it leaves, is that also "disgracing" Lambeau Field?
Wow. It is just football, Chris. If Randy had mooned someone at St. Peter's in Rome, that would be a disgrace. At Lambeau Field it is just entertainment. Time to put things into context buddy.
That's all I got time for right now. More later.
January 11, 2005
10 years is enough
In case you missed it, there was a good editorial in the Star Trib this last weekend entitled Stadiums/Ten years of talk is enough. Most of it was the same old arguments that have been used for 10 years: costs are increasing, sports are important for our quality of life, public/private partnerships are the norm, etc. However, deep inside the editorial are also some interesting views from the StarTrib staff on what they, perhaps, would like to see happen in the long run. For example, they'd like to see the U of M lead the charge by getting 60% of their stadium paid for by alumni. That, I think, is a given. Then the editorial says something very interesting:
Lawmakers should stipulate that the Vikings may play on the Gophers field while the Metrodome is remodeled, if that's a solution acceptable to a new Vikings owner.
This gave me reason to sit back and think. How plausible is this idea of a renovated Metrodome for the Vikings? Would it give the team the needed cash flow increases they need to stay competitive? If you listen to Red the answer is an emphatic no, but I think Red is a liar and a snake. How would a new owner feel about this possibility, though? The more I think about it, and as painful as this is, a renovated Metrodome may be the Vikings best shot and our best shot, as fans, of keeping the team around. I'm still not 100% sure of that, of course, but like I said it has definitely made me think.
Then, the editorial turned its attention towards the Twins. First, the Star Trib wants the 2002 Twins bill revisited:
Meanwhile, the Legislature should finally solve the Twins' problem this session by fixing flaws in the ballpark law passed in 2002. That bit of folly excluded Hennepin County, the only local government large enough to forge a public-private financial partnership with the Twins.
Do you remember that bill? The idea was created by Assistant Minnesota Finance Commissioner Peter Sausen and it was a pretty unique animal. First the Twins would put up a large amount of money, $120 million, as an upfront gift to the state. The state would then issue $330 million in 30-year revenue bonds at an assumed interest rate of 6.5 percent. The state would then invest the $120 million dollar gift, and assuming a return of 8.5%, the state would use that money to help pay off the debt (probably around 1/2 of the yearly costs). The Twins would then be required to pay off the rest, which was estimated to be around $10-$15 million per year.
The Twins, of course, wanted the host community to pick up the tab for this, but as it was written, the bill only allowed cities to compete for the stadium, not counties. Thanks to a $10 million city charter limitation for sports stadiums, the city of Minneapolis was immediately out of the running. St. Paul made a valiant effort, but the Twins basically said it wouldn't work in St. Paul and gave up. This was a pretty good bill, and combined with the tax increment financing plan from Pawlenty, a bigger contribution from Pohlad, and allowing county participation, it could produce a Twins stadium, I should think.
Lastly, the editorial suggests that the Twins should make their desires known concerning where they want the stadium built:
For their part, the Twins should drop their "site neutral" pretense and make clear their location preference. In our view, the Warehouse District site is superb. A ballpark would be nestled among new and restored lofts and cafes at the junction of two rail transit lines and two freeways, with 7,500 ramped parking spots already in place. It doesn't get any better.
I agree with this (sorry Jim). The Warehouse District site is the best. However, a stadium referendum would not pass in Hennepin County. In fact, I don't think a stadium referendum would pass anywhere, but I would give St. Paul a better shot at that. Having said that, I also agree with the StarTrib that at some point the Twins are going to have to make a decision. If a referendum is a part of the bill, there is no way two communities are going to have a referendum at the same time to compete for the Twins. No way. There will only be one community with a referendum, and my money is on Hennepin County. God help us.
January 10, 2005
Well, it's a marvelous night for a moondance
For some reason, I've decided to listen to Van Morrison's Moondance today. What a great album. There isn't a dud song in the bunch.
Well, as they say, "a rolling stone gathers no moss," so I better get back to work.
January 9, 2005
At the start of the Vikings season I was feeling pretty good. In fact, I was feeling really good. I was positive the Vikings would walk away with the NFC North title. The Vikings were returning the NFC's best offense, and their defense had to be improved with the additions of Kenechi Udeze and Antoine Winfield. I was also pretty high on the Vikings new linebacker corp, and I was convinced that they would be much improved thanks to E.J. Henderson and the drafting of Dontarrious Thomas. I was so positive that the Vikings would win the NFC North I wrote some bad haikus at the beginning of the season, and I made yet another bet with my neighbor, Cheesehead Craig that not only would the Vikings win the NFC North, but they would do so in convincing fashion. I boldly predicted that on Christmas Eve Brett Favre wouldn't even be playing. Either he would be injured, or the Vikings would be so far ahead in the standings that it wouldn't even matter. We bet a cheeseburger at Fuddruckers. I could already taste my half-pound "Triple Cheese."
Needless to say, my predictions didn't quite work out. Favre came into the Metrodome and crushed my hopes of an NFC North title like an empty can of beer on a drunk Packer fan's forehead. Not only that, but after the Christmas Eve game I got sick with some kind of upper repiratory infection and I was laid out for almost a week. The doctors didn't know exactly what it was, but I did. It was "Vikingsitis." I've been struck with this ailment before and it usually afflicts Vikings fans all over Minnesota around this time of year.
To make matters worse, however, was the fact that yet again my Packer loving, Brewer worshipping, Badger bleeding neighbor won another bet!!! How many of these stupid bets do I have to lose before I taste victory? How many times must I feel the humiliation of defeat? It seemed like my neighbor's string of victories would never end. And then came January 9, 2005. This is a day that will go down in Vikings lore as one of the greatest days in team history. What a glorious day.
As is tradition, I trudged across the lawn to Cheesehead Craig's house to watch the 3rd matchup this year between the Packers and the Vikings. If the Vikings have to travel to Lambeau, then I would travel to the den of the enemy as well. I didn't have much hope given the Packers sweep of the Vikings during the season and I entered Craig's domain singing, "Let's go insurance adjusters, let's go! Let's go insurance adjusters, let's go!" I love that commercial. As a loyal Vikings fan, though, I have learned not to get my hopes up for the Vikings in the playoffs. Sure there have been some big playoff wins, 1987 vs. San Fran comes to mind, but not this year. I was determined not to let my hopes get the best of me this year.
68 yard TD pass to Moe. 3 and out for the Packers. Moss TD. Winfiled interception. Anderson field goal. 17-0 Vikings. "Aha!" I thought to myself, "The Vikings have done this to me before!" I told Cheesehead Craig, "If the Vikings lose, at least I will have this wonderful first quarter to remember." But on the inside, hope was starting to creep in. I was starting to believe and that is a dangerous thing. I watched the rest of the game getting more and more hopeful as the Vikings continued to play good, smart football. I couldn't believe it. Thankfully, finally, my hope was finally rewarded. Unless you are living under a rock you know the Vikings won the game 31-17. It seems the Vikings can only score 31 points against the Packers (I was begging them to kick the field goal at the end to make it 34), but I suppose that is poetic justice given the scores of the other games. 31 points would be all they needed today.
A few days ago I wrote some pretty harsh words towards the men in purple. I had lost my faith. For that I apologize. The Vikings seemed to hear my plea though. They played with pride. They played with passion and conviction. The defense finally stepped up with four interceptions and 3 sacks, and Daunte went for the jugular whenever he could. Daunte Culpepper ... can we say enough great things about him? He is, without a doubt, now the best QB in the NFC. This is his career defining game up to this point, and the future is looking very bright. I am giddy and I've got at least 7 more days of feeling this way.
When I came home I explained to my wife how I was feeling, "You see, honey, this is why I am a Vikings fan, for the way I feel right now. There is a profound happiness in me right now, and it feels wonderful. I am so happy, and I feel great! And ... "
"Shane," she interrupted me, "You do realize that the Vikings will lose now the day before your birthday."
Women! Bah! They can't just leave well enough alone with their "practicality" and "realism" and "hatred of sports." She can say whatever she wants, it won't dimish the happiness I feel right now. Curt in Grand Forks and I agree that this victory against the Packers today makes the whole season worth while. Whatever happens next is just icing on the cake. And yes, I have renewed hope in this team, and, yes, I know that is a dangerous thing. But today I just don't care. Bring on the Eagles. I know now that anything can happen and it feels great.
Craig, I'm sorry for your loss today. Believe me, I know how it feels. At least you'll still have your Fuddruckers cheeseburger, purchased by me. And all I'll have is a second round playoff game. Needless to say, I think I got the better deal.
January 7, 2005
Amazing! Welcome Google Searchers!
This blog is getting nailed right now by people searching Google for any news on Glen Taylor's rumored purchase of the Vikings. Check it out: do a search in Google for glen taylor vikings (just click on the link). This humble blog comes up as the fourth link, above the Star Tribune, and above Viking Update. This is amazing to me. And, if you are like me, you must wonder, why? Why does Google rank the Greet Machine so highly? Is it because of my phenomenal writing? My awe inspiring prose? Is it because Google knows I am from Minnesota or that I am a knowledgeable Vikings fan? None of the above. Google ranks this blog so highly because of its URL. First of all, the Greet Machine comes from a ".edu" domain so Google gives it a little more credence in its rankings. Secondly, this blog comes from a ".lib" domain. Google knows this comes from a library and as a result ranks it even higher. So, to sum it up, the Greet Machine has the double whammy of being from an educational domain, and from a library. Ha! If only they knew.
So, for all of you coming to this page as a result of a Google search, here is what I know about a possible sale of the Vikings (and sadly it probably isn't much more than you already know):
- Charley Walters convincingly reports that the a sale is probably imminent:
The time is ripe for a sale. The Vikings are in a downslide and Sunday's loss in Washington is expected to result in hundreds , if not thousands of season ticket cancellations. McCombs hasn't experienced a local TV blackout since he bought the Vikings for $245 million six years ago, but diminished attendance could cause that next season.
Taylor, a billionaire from Mankato, Minn., quietly has positioned himself during the past year to buy the Vikings. Don't think he hasn't met with top NFL officials, as well as various team owners who would eagerly approve a sale.
- However, as I say in the post below, Sid Hartman just reported yesterday in a column piece called "Vikings sale not close":
There have been rumors that Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor was close to a deal with Vikings owner Red McCombs to buy the NFL team, but Taylor said, "I have not talked to McCombs in more than a month. There is nothing new. I'm still interested in the team."For the sake of my sanity and my own hopefulness, I choose not to believe Mr. Hartman.
One of Taylor's concerns is that if he does buy the Vikings, the Legislature might be less inclined to support a new stadium because they wouldn't worry about Taylor moving the team.
- We also have hearsay. Mr Cheer or Die reported yesterday:
Now, my good buddy The Commish reported to me that when the Wolves played the Knicks recently, Taylor was there. And Taylor doesn’t go to a lot of road games. A reporter asked him why he went to that game and his exact quote was, “Let’s just say I was here to watch the Wolves game.”Yes, we need all the luck, and prayers, we can get right now.
Fingers crossed. Toes crossed. Salt over left shoulder. Luck[y] rabbits foot. Knock on wood. Stay tuned.
- There are also rumors that Ted Waitt of Gateway wants to buy the team. I don't give these rumors much credence. Charley Walters also reports that:
Insiders say Los Angeles sports entrepreneur Casey Wasserman remains seriously interested in trying to acquire the Vikings.
This scares me a great deal since Wasserman would only have one goal in mind: to move the Vikings to LA. Let's hope these rumors are not serious.
- Finally, we have the potential of a Vikings sale to Reggie Fowler. As recently as early December Fowler was in Minnesota attending an informational meeting in Anoka County regarding their push for a new stadium. According to the Star Tribune:
Fowler, whose group of potential partners appears to be growing, met with members of the Anoka/Blaine stadium contingent Nov. 22 at the Minneapolis Club. During the meeting, Fowler and a host of other interested businessmen listened to a presentation of development possibilities for the 740-acre land tract off I-35W.So, Fowler is still definitely in the picture. Personally I doubt Fowler has the financial power to make a purchase of this kind, but he has promised to move to Minnesota if he did and keep the team in Minnesota so I would welcome this sale.
So, to sum up, there are heavy rumors floating around that Taylor is poised to buy the Vikings. And I'm a firm believer in "where there is smoke, there is a fire." There are also rumors of other people buying the Vikings. Based on all these rumors, I think we will see a sale of the Vikings shortly after the end of the season. Hopefully it will be to someone that A) is committed to keeping the team in Minnesota and B) someone who is committed to making the team into a winner again. My money is on Taylor.
I was struck by a recent post on Duvernois Blog entitled The victums of economic and technological progress? (sic) wherein the author of an essay posted on the site argues that today's children are actually being hurt by technological progress in America, especially in the realm of social abilities. The article states, "Today's children spend more time than ever in human history alone, staring at a video monitor. That amounts to a natural experiment in childrearing on an unprecedented scale. While this may mean children as adults will be more at ease with their computers, I doubt it does anything but de-skill them when it comes to relating to each other person-to-person."
Ouch, that definitely makes me think about my own kids, who definitely spend more time in front of the computer, TV, and video game monitors than I ever did. In addition, the article states:
[T]he Bell Curve for social and emotional abilities seems to be sliding in the wrong direction. The most compelling data comes from a random national sample of more than 3,000 American children ages seven to sixteen — chosen to represent the entire nation — rated by their parents and teachers, adults who know the well. First done in the early 1970s, and then roughly fifteen years later, in the mid-80s, and again in the late 1990s, the results showed a startling decline.
The most precipitous drop occurred between the first and second cohorts: American children were more withdrawn, sulky and unhappy, anxious and depressed, impulsive and unable to concentrate, delinquent and aggressive. Between the early 1970s and the mid-80s, they did more poorly on 42 indicators, better on none. In the late 1990s, scores crept back up a bit, but were nowhere near as high as they had been on the first round, in the early 70s.
Fascinating stuff, and truth be told I think the author is right. It makes me want to take all that stuff away from my kids and raise them like Ma and Pa Ingalls on "Little House on the Prairie." Unfortunately I don't have any cows or chickens. Of course, read the whole article if you are interested.
Articles like that make me more and more happy that my son and I are involved with Cub Scouts. We had another wonderful Den meeting last night where the boys made rubber band guns for a "Craftsman" activity badge project. You know, this seemed like a great idea at the time, but it also turned out to be a little dangerous. Take 7 nine-year old boys and put them in a small room with rubber band guns and an unlimited supply of rubber bands, and you've got trouble plain and simple. And it started with the fact that the rubber bands we bought were too small for the guns. So, every time some of the boys tried to load their guns, the clothes pin that was supposed to hold the rubber band would not be able to hold it and rubber bands would shoot in all sorts of directions. Pulled really tight and at short range those buggers can really hurt! So, imagine 7 boys shooting rubber bands every which way and you have a picture of my evening last night. I don't think I've ever heard the words, "Watch where you are pointing that thing!" said so many times in my life.
Then, after we got finished with the guns we built a fire in the backyard, sang some songs, and ate carmel apples. It was freezing outside, but everyone had a great time laughing and telling stories. Truly, what would my son and I do without Cub Scouts? Good people, good friends, and lots of fun.
After I got I home, my wife and I watched the movie Napoleon Dynamite. This was a very quirky movie that I couldn't help but fall in love with. The movie is difficult to explain since nothing really too exciting happens, but the characters of Napoleon, Kip, Deb, Pedro, and Rico are so interesting and weird that I was mesmerized by their mundane lives. I can't imagine how a movie like this gets made. The director/writer walks into a studio office and says, "I've got a great idea. Let's make a movie about some people of questionable intelligence set in the middle of Idaho. The main character will never smile, he'll have a little attitude problem, the audience will think he is a moron, and his favorite thing to say will be 'Sweet!' His friends and family will all be exceptionally quirky, and nothing will really happen throughout the entire movie. And by the way, there will be no profanity, sex, or anything controversial of any kind. What do you think?" What does a studio executive say to this? Well in the case of Napoleon Dynamite, the executive must have said, "Where do I sign up?" And you know what? It really works. The movie was hilarious. I am a better person for having seen that movie.
Finally, Sid Hartman reported yesterday:
There have been rumors that Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor was close to a deal with Vikings owner Red McCombs to buy the NFL team, but Taylor said, "I have not talked to McCombs in more than a month. There is nothing new. I'm still interested in the team."
One of Taylor's concerns is that if he does buy the Vikings, the Legislature might be less inclined to support a new stadium because they wouldn't worry about Taylor moving the team.
That sucks. Hopefully Sid doesn't have a clue what he is talking about, which is highly likely, and Taylor is just trying to lay low. Also, I don't know how the Vikings stadium chances could get any worse, so I don't share Taylor's concern that the legislature might not give him any love. It all comes down to how much up front cash you put on the table, Mr. Taylor. Make it a substantial amount and I would think the legislature would be more amenable to helping you out.
January 6, 2005
First things first, I must send a shout out to Cheesehead Craig and give a link to his new blog Oracle of Cheese. Craig has decided to take the blogging plunge and I welcome him to the family. Of course, I think we all know what the content of Craig's blog will mainly be about. I can just see it now, since I am somewhat an oracle myself, his posts will be something like: "The Packers are in the playoffs, again, and they did so without backing in" ... "Brett Favre is a god, and as such he deserves worship. Have you worshipped Brett Favre today?" ... "The Packers, for the people and owned by the people. We never have to worry about the team moving." ... "Lambeau Field, recently renovated and still the best stadium in the NFL." Sheesh. It must be nice being a Packer fan. Only sunshine, flowers, and birds chirping for cheeseheads.
Seriously though, go visit the Oracle of Cheese. I look forward to what Craig has to say about sports and life in general. Hopefully he will be able to keep it up. And do you see that it says he "powers Blogger"? That is amazing! Already such a blogging bigwig!
Speaking of whining Viking fans, and believe me we do have reasons to whine, did you all see the article in the Star Trib today, "Vikings? We still love 'em, but it's kinda tough"? Lots of whining in that article. Thats OK, until Red sells I don't think the whining will stop, or even can stop. However, there is a point where whining can become inappropriate, and it is at the point someone says, "The Vikings are so disappointing, I'm not even going to cheer for them anymore. They don't deserve my support."
Bzzzzzz!!! Wrong! With that statement you have given up your right to be a Viking fan now and into the future. Turn in your horns and your Randy Moss jersey, you are no longer welcome within the realm of the brethren. That is something you will never, ever, ever hear me say. Or how about, "The Vikings are losers. I'm not even going to watch the game on Sunday." What???? I can't even fathom missing a game. That borders on treason, and even worse it is "fair weather." No, no, no, no!!! I have been a Vikings fan since I can remember. Fran Tarkenton, Chuck Foreman, Tommy Kramer, Ahmad Rashad ... whenever I get a cold I buy Vick's Formula 44 cough medicine because 44 is Chuck Foreman's number!!!! That is the kind of fans the Vikings deserve. When the Vikings finally win it all, I will be able to say I was there through it all. When the Vikings finally win it all, I will dance around like an idiot and scream into the sky, "Finally! I can die a happy man! Packers suck!!!" That will be a glorious day. So, all you fair-weather fans, all you post 1998 fans, get a clue. I don't mind the whining, but try not to step over the line. To be a true Vikings fan you've got to suffer. That is the way it is. If you don't like it please leave, and don't come back.
January 5, 2005
Netflix RSS feeds on my blog
Hello again everyone. If you scroll down and look to the right, you'll notice that I have successfully integrated my personal RSS feeds from Netflix into my blog. The section "Netflix Stuff" shows what is currently in my Netflix Queue, what they have recently shipped to me, and what they have recently received back from me. So, if you are ever wondering what movies I'm watching, now you'll know. And as always, I will apologize for nothing! I am a big fan of stupid movies and there is nothing you (or I) can do about it. In fact, I'm thinking about devoting a category of this blog to my reviews of stupid movies. Some are done very well (Happy Gilmore, Tommy Boy) while some are done very poorly (Dodgeball, A Night at the Roxbury).
If you are a fellow UThinker and would like to know how I got this to work, stay tuned to the UThink home page. I hope to have a little tutorial about it in the next few days.
No sports today, just the ramblings of some of the recent things I have found interesting. Let's start with The Amazing Race. Seriously, I cannot get enough of this show. Last night's episode literally had me screaming and squirming at all the goofy stuff they had to do. Eating the spicy soup, for example. And the way Jonathan treats Victoria is simply stunning. I keep hoping she just decides to leave him, that she just gets up and walks out of the show. My favorite couple is by far Kris and Jon. I have never seen them fight and they always have a good attitude. I found it hilarious in last night's episode when Jon told the chef of the spicy soup, "You may want to tone it down a crack next time."
Anyway, of course all of this makes me want to be a contestant myself although I don't think I could handle it. There are a couple of things I am afraid of that I know they would make me do. I can just imagine coming up on a Roadblock where Phil says, "A Roadblock is a part of the race where teams must choose between two tasks, each with their own pros and cons. In this Roadblock, teams must choose between 'Jump and die' or 'Eat and die.' In 'Jump and die' teams must bungy jump from a 500 foot tall bridge. The bungy cord will be calibrated to their body weight so that they will fall to within an inch of the ground. Of course, the calibration could be wrong sending them hurtling to their deaths at 50 MPH. In 'Eat and Die' teams must pick a number out of a hat and then eat that many African Scary-Poison spiders. African Scary-Poison spiders are hideously ugly and scary, and if not eaten at the ungodly pace of 3 spiders per second they will kill you. So we will provide you with a special spider shovel to help you cram them into your mouth. No number is below 50."
That is what I'm sure would happen to me. Heights and spiders, nothing gets me worked up more. I'm sure they ask you all about this on the application to participate, something like "What scares you the most?" When I fill that out I am going to write "bikinis." I hope that throws them off.
Recently I joined Netflix thanks to the recommendation of Curt in Grand Forks. What a great service. I am wrapping up a free two week trial where I have received about 7 movies, including The Terminal (4 stars), Chronicles of Riddick (3 stars), Collateral (3 stars), I, Robot (3 stars), Luther (3 stars), Super Size Me (4 stars), and Mona Lisa Smile (grudgingly I give it 3 stars, I am such a sap). You can give a movie up to five stars if you are wondering. Also, movies come very quickly, especially if you live in the Minneapolis area. My first order was on a Wednesday night, and I had my first batch of movies that Friday. I've heard that they will delay delivery if you start ordering too much, but I haven't seen any sign of that yet. And after the two week trial is over it only costs 17.99 a month. Not too shabby. Stay tuned for a new addition to the sidebar of this blog: my rental queue! Netflix provides personal RSS feeds for this purpose. If I can get it to work, I'll put together a little tutorial for other UThinkers who want to give it a try.
Finally, I have really fallen off on my book reviews. And I've read a whole bunch of books since my last set of reviews. So, in the near future I will have to rectify that. See you soon!
January 4, 2005
Today will be an all Vikings post. Unless you are living under a rock you have heard all about Randy Moss and his early departure from last Sunday's game. I won't pontificate about this too much since I think it is obvious what a selfish and despicable act this was. In fact, I'd like to point you over to Mr. Cheer or Die's Viking Underground for his take on Moss:
What Moss did Sunday by leaving the field before time expired was uncalled for. It sent the wrong message to his coaches, teammates and fans alike. It made this life-long Vikings fan reach for the nearest antacid bottle and empty it.
I'm at the point where antacids just won't do it for me when it comes to Moss. I say Tice should bench him for the Packers game and then we should trade him. I say his last act as a Viking should be walking off the field like a selfish coward. I'm so sick of his theatrics and his "at least I'm getting paid" attitude. It is a slap in the face to me, a lifelong Vikings fan and season ticket holder, and the Vikings greats of the past who played with pride and respect for the game. Sit down Moss. Your "leadership" skills are no longer necessary.
And just when you thought Vikings tradition couldn't take any more hits, check out this comment from ESPN's Page 2:
How sad is it that the Minnesota Vikings, once clad in purple parkas, once producing the sort of winterized condensed breath that meant death for a visiting team in the playoffs, are now the softest team in the league? Eighteen of the last 20 games outdoors -- a Minnesota loss? Now, Randy Moss walks off the turf with two ticks left in Washington. Presumably, it was too cold for the Indoor Warrior. Somewhere, Bud Grant feels a pain in his chestal area -- and it's not frostbite.
The sad thing is he is absolutely right. The Metrodome is every bit of a dump as a football stadium as it is a baseball stadium. Where is our pride as Minnesotans? Why do we put up with this? We have seriously turned into a bunch of pansies who have all turned a blind eye to our heritage and tradition as a NORTHERN team. Our team, our tradition, our stadium, our ownership ... it is all in shambles. Our collective manhood is being questioned. If a new Vikings stadium is ever built I say it should be an outdoor stadium so we can attempt to regain what was lost when the Vikings moved out of the Met.
And yet, there is hope. Every time I look at the StarTrib website or the Pioneer Press I pray that I see Red McCombs has sold the team. Now, it seems we are extremely close to that inevitability:
Rumors were hot Monday at the Vikings' Eden Prairie offices that Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor is closing in on a purchase of the Vikings from Red McCombs.
For the love of all that is holy, please let this be true. Stay tuned for my list of immediate changes Taylor should make if he buys the Vikings. Feel free to get started in the comments below.
Lastly, I'd like to send a shout out to Stick and Ball Guy who has highlighted my meager ramblings in his most recent post. Thanks Stick and Ball Guy!
Links of the day
- Abston Church of Christ, made completely out of legos.
- I'll never have trouble picking out website colors ever again!
- Great story on Google from 60 minutes. Good information on what the future holds for search engines.
- Some guy called every 867-5309 number in America and reports his results. Wow.
- This is a neat site. Pick your "43 things" and meet other people with similar interests and desires.
- Top 10 paranormal events of 2004. Spooky.
- I am bored.com. Cool site to visit when you are bored.
- This just in: New U2 video to be shown at halftime of tonight's Orange Bowl. Thanks Curt!
January 3, 2005
La la la la la la, la la la la la! La la la la la la, la la la la la!
Butterflies and flowers
Vikings and stadiums ... Vikings and stadiums. Must ... get ... this ... OUT OF MY HEAD!!!
Today I shall think of nothing but butterflies and flowers. Whimsical butterflies and pretty flowers. Butterflies fluttering around in the breeze and flowers smelling oh so pretty. Maybe I'll even think of a butterfly landing on a flower! The possibilities are endless.
Argh! Two things ...
Here I go again. Just in case you missed it, the Pioneer Press had a pretty good article in Saturday's paper concerning my favorite topic: Stadiums in play again. Most of it was the same old stuff we've read about for the past few years, but it also highlighted my new knight in shining armor for stadium financing in Minnesota, the Native American tribes:
The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, under pressure from Gov. Tim Pawlenty to share its casino profits with the state, said it wants to discuss new joint ventures that could include helping finance a stadium. That potential support could make the difference in a traditionally difficult financing scheme. The quid pro quo: The band said it won't renegotiate compacts that give 11 tribes a monopoly on casino gaming and don't levy taxes on their earnings.
Johnson said the Twins have met with tribal leaders on the issue and that the addition of tribal money would be "a good strategy. There is much mud to be put on the walls in these issues, but it remains to be seen what's going to stick,'' he said.
Really, what is wrong with this plan? If there is anyone out there who has a problem with the tribes financing stadiums in exchange for retaining their gambling monopoly please let me know. Personally I have a big problem with using gambling money to help balance the state's general fund. That's what I have a problem with. I also have a problem with the state getting into the gambling game by building our own casino. And to top it all off, haven't we totally screwed the tribes enough thoughout American history as it is? So, the tribes themselves have offered to help pay for stadiums. I say we take them up on the offer and finally solve this problem.
Secondly, Dean Johnson mentions that the Twins have already talked with the tribes. This is news to me. The last I heard, Jerry Bell was tip toeing around the idea of combining baseball and gambling in any way. To hear that they've opened up discussions with the tribes is, I think, very promising. Like I said, this is my new "knight in shining armor." If this falls through ... well let's just not think about that.
Lastly, Charley Walters had some recent things to say about the upcoming sale of the Vikings that literally brought a tear to my eye. It may have been particularly dusty the morning I read this, but a tear came to my eye nonetheless. According to Walters, Glen Taylor recently said this concerning Tice's contract extension:
"I'm comfortable with whatever decisions they make, and we will live with whatever is in place. We're looking at the long run. (Tice's contract extension) won't deter or help either way."
Taylor was asked the status of a potential purchase of the Vikings by his investment group.
"(McCombs and I) are both watching the team try to get into the playoffs," he said. "That's what we're doing right now."
Now, I don't know about you, but this sounds like Taylor is more than serious about buying the team. This sounds like a person that is going to buy the team. I know, I know ... I'm grasping at straws here, but I AM A VIKINGS FAN! Straws are all I have to grasp. There is nothing else for me to hope for.
January 2, 2005
The torture continues...
OK. I knew I said I wouldn't write about sports that much anymore, but I just can't believe what is happening. Not only do the Vikings make the playoffs in the pansiest way possible, they also have to play the Packers! Again! Its like a never-ending fraternity initiation with the Vikings bent over asking the Packers "Please sir may I have another?" I knew the Vikings would make the playoffs, and I also have no hope for them getting out of the first round. But having to play the Packers, knowing that it will be the Packers who will embarass and crush them in their futile attempt to get a playoff win, is the ultimate knife-twist in the already twitching body that is the Vikings pathetic 2004 football season.
Man this has me steamed. For years Packer fans have tormented me with their playoff "superiority" and "winning tradition." Bah! I can already sum up what I'll be forced to hear for the next week: "Favre Favre Favre, Lambeau Lambeau Lambeau, below freezing, below freezing, below freezing, mystique, mystique, mystique, BLAH BLAH BLAH!!!!" All you Packer fans can shove it up where the sun don't shine and then stick it two doors to the left ...
I've dealt with this for far too long. I grew up as a Viking fan in Wisconsin, right across the border in River Falls. When I was a boy of 8 one of my good friends, Jason Simpson to be exact (and a Packer fan to boot) had the audacity to ask me, "How are the Viqueens doing this year?" I rolled up my fist in my Vikings mitten and socked him right in the nose. Ha! That's how we're doing (insert KG's favorite saying here)!!! And if you don't want another you better start showing me some respect!
Three times in one year ... THREE TIMES IN ONE YEAR!!!! Do recall the movie Remember the Titans? Do you remember when Coach Yost, after learning the refs weren't calling a fair game, told his defense to blitz and terrify the opposing offense saying, "You make sure they remember, FOREVER, the night they played the Titans!" That is how I want the Vikings to play. All out, no holds barred, nasty, dirty, chop blocking, clothes line flying, trash talking, body sacrificing football. Late hits out of bounds? I'll take a dozen. Encroachment with a QB takedown? Give me a few of those too. I want this team to play with attitude!! Conviction!! PRIDE!!!
For the love of Bud Grant please play with some PRIDE! And Tice, if there is only 2:30 left in the 4th quarter, and it is 4th and 5 on the Packers 45 yard line, and the game is tied, GO FOR IT! Show some backbone and cram it down the Packers' throats. Unleash Daunte and let him stiff arm his way to victory! This is it. This is the season. Please show me that I haven't wasted 30 plus years cheering for what Bill Maas today called the "most southern team in the North." Please. Please. Man I feel sick.