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November 29, 2006

In the Christmas Spirit

Songs for Christmas • Well, as you can see by the header image, I am getting into the Christmas spirit.  In fact, just today, I purchased Sufjan Stevens' Songs for Christmas.  If you are wondering, it is just as good as people say.  Get this, in an off year Stevens releases an album of outtakes (The Avalanche) that is better than most albums this year, and then he releases a set of Christmas CDs with a total of 42 songs (for the unbelievable price of $20).  Amazing. If you are looking for a unique set of Christmas songs this year, you can't do much better than Songs for Christmas.  Tons of great songs for a good price.

• So, I'm watching the Gophers lose to a mediocre Clemson team, and I must say that I agree with 10,000 Takes that this just might be the worst Gophers team we've seen in a long time.  Now, unfortunately for us we really shouldn't be too upset about this reality.  One problem I've always had with Glen Mason and the Gopher football team is that he doesn't recruit well in Minnesota.  After they barely beat NDSU there were a ton of people that were upset with the fact that NDSU is comprised mostly of Minnesotans.  More so than the U of M Golden Gophers football team, that is for sure.  A lot of people wondered, if a bunch of Minnesotans can almost beat the U of M, why aren't they playing for the U of M?

I think you know where I am going with this, but the Golden Gophers basketball team this year is dominated by native Minnesotans.  Of the 14 players on the team, 9 are from Minnesota.  Four out of the five starters are from Minnesota, and if McKenzie started they would all be from Minnesota. 

This is something to be happy about.  The Golden Gophers are primarily from Minnesota.  Some might even say this is the way it should be. Now what is upsetting about this is the fact that together they make for a pretty crappy team.  I think the big question at this point is:  are Minnesotans just crappy basketball players?  Is this group of Minnesotans just not that good?  And how much is the coach to blame?  Dan Monson has done a good job of recruiting Minnesota players.  Whether he gets them out of high school or they transfer to the program, he usually gets the bulk of the best of what Minnesota high schools have to offer.  He should be commended for this.  However, would a different coach be able to get more out of them?  It is hard to say, but Joel Maturi doesn't seem to think so.  Monson's job, for whatever reason, seems to be secure.

•  Is anyone else as confused as I am over this Scott Skiles--Ben Wallace headband feud?  I mean, I know it is about more than just a headband, but if you focus on the headband you begin to realize what a bonehead stupid rule this is.  For the life of me I cannot fathom why headbands should be banned.  Are they "thuggish"?  Do they actually do a bad job of keeping sweat off your face?  What is the reason?  Because whatever it is, I'm sure it is stupid.  It reminds me of something I have to tell myself concerning my kids:  fight the battles that are worth fighting.  Are headbands really a fight worth having?

•  And speaking of my kids, for some reason a fight I usually find worth having with them concerns turning off lights in the house.  Man, it drives me crazy to see lights on all over the house.  In fact, they know if I ever see the light on in the basement bathroom and no one is in the bathroom ... well, the punishment is they have to run around the house seven times.  That's right, seven times.  Believe you me, after a few times running around the house seven times I don't see that light on too much anymore.  And I kinda wish I would.  My kids were getting some really good exercise.

So anyway, now I've got a new problem with my lights.  You see, my wife bought a new pencil sharpener and asked me to install it somewhere.  Well, I didn't want to screw it into my wall, or my cupboard, so in what I thought was a stroke of genius I decided to install it in my garage.  Seriously, I thought this was an Einstein type genius level decision.  I was really proud of myself.

The unfortunate thing about this idea, though, is that during winter in Minnesota it gets dark at about 12 noon.  It is brutal.  So, when my kids go to sharpen a pencil, they turn on the garage lights, sharpen their pencil, and then come back in the house.  Obviously without turning off the lights.  And I can't see that they haven't turned off the lights because I don't go into the garage.  This means that the lights in my garage are on about 23 hours a day.  In fact, they are probably on right now.  I better go check.

Anyway, I don't really know where I am going with this other than to say it drives me nuts.  If anyone has any ideas of how I can overcome this problem I am all ears.  Because I usually figure out the lights are on at about 10:00 at night, and it is more work than it is worth to get my kids out of bed, dressed, and running around the house seven times.

This ends another episode of "who gives a rat's butt theater."

Posted by snackeru at November 29, 2006 9:52 PM


Well, Shane it must be in the genes--your grandfather (my dad) was always yelling at us to turn off the lights! It drove him nuts, too.

Posted by: mom at November 30, 2006 7:16 AM

If the Gophers b-ball season trends the way it looks like, I can't believe Monson stays. Especially since it appears he barely stayed after last year. Plus Monson is getting Minnesota recruits, but not necessarily the right ones - I can't remember their names, but a couple of good guys have left the state. So if Monson is fired who would you want to see coach? Flip Saunders or Trent Tucker.

I hope the review I sent to you swayed your decision to purchase that SS multi-disc.

Posted by: Freealonzo at November 30, 2006 9:19 AM

Free, I agree with you on Monson. If they keep playing poorly, I wouldn't be surprised to see him step down. And true, there have been some recruits that have gotten away, but really not too many.

The Pitchfork review did help, although I was pretty sure I was going to buy it already. There was one part of the review that ticked me off though:

Yet for all the squirming induced by Stevens' brazen faith, the talents that elevate him above your run-of-the-mill coffee-shop folkie are crucially linked to the characteristics that inform his faith: empathy, optimism, and a love of ceremonial pomp.

Squirming? Do people actually squirm when confronted by a Christian, especially on a Christmas album?

Posted by: Shane at November 30, 2006 10:57 AM

Monson is a terrible coach. You gotta be able to recruit out of state. No school is going to win by just keeping the in-state recruits.

BTW, what the heck is a Sufjan Stevens? Never heard of him. Does he play the Christmas classics on some Norwegian nose-flute or something?

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at November 30, 2006 12:01 PM

Monson Gone!!! Announcing this afternoon.

Posted by: Freealonzo at November 30, 2006 12:43 PM

Like I said! I wouldn't be surprised to see him step down! I'm going to play the lottery tonight. I am on fire!

Yes, CC, Sufjan plays the Norwegian nose-flute! You nailed it. I actually want one of those for my birthday so if you can get one for me I'd greatly appreciate it.

Posted by: Shane at November 30, 2006 12:48 PM

Kammron Taylor is one Minnesota guy who Monson let get away. He went to my old high school (Minneapolis North). It's been pretty painful watching him torch the Gopher the past few years as a Badger...

My vote for next coach would be Flip, but I doubt he'd leave the Pistons yet. How about McHale? I don't know how good a coach he'd be, but it might be worth it just to have him quit his job with the Timberwolves. :-)

As for your garage lights, Shane, one thing you might look into is whether there's a way to install an occupancy sensor in place of the light switch? It'll depend a lot on the layout of your garage and whether you can figure out where to locate the sensor so that it'll "sense" you or your kids entering the garage and turn the lights on.

Posted by: Mark at November 30, 2006 1:54 PM

You sure you want that nose flute Shane? With all that nose hair you got sticking out of your schnoz it could be a problem... I'm just saying.

Here is a thought for a pencil sharpener: how about getting an electric one and plugging it in inside the house? Maybe even in the kitchen by your drawer where all the pencils are and lights are usually on anyways. Just a crazy, logical thought I had.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at November 30, 2006 2:12 PM

Mark, Flip is catching a lot of flack in Motown, don't be surprised if he's fired if the Pistons do poorly in the playoffs. Don't think McHale would take the job... no first round draft picks to trade away. I'd be intrigued by Trent Tucker. He'd be an awesome recruiter, no idea if he can actually coach.

Posted by: Freealonzo at November 30, 2006 3:43 PM

I've read Flip is catching a lot of flack in Motown from idiot columnists, but Joe Dumars doesn't strike me as someone who pays much attention to that.

Besides, I'm not sure the U is going to want to wait until May/June before they can hire their next coach.

I'm a big Trent Tucker fan, but does he have any coaching experience?

Posted by: Mark at November 30, 2006 4:16 PM

After reading a couple reviews at Pitchfork this summer I had to swear them off. They were hack-hack-hackery. I now avoid the site like the plague.

Posted by: bjhess at November 30, 2006 4:48 PM

Re: Trent Tucker - No direct coaching experience, would be a great assistant/recruiting specialist.

Flip - Mark, good point, I don't want the Goph's waiting until May or June either.

How about J.B. Bickerstaff or Rick Majerus?

Re: Pitchfork. Agreed about the hackery, but I do enyoy the creative writing, not so much when their bile is directed toward one of my faves.

Posted by: freealonzo at November 30, 2006 8:09 PM

I would be worried about Rick Majerus falling off the raised floor and crushing a player or assistant coach.

Bickerstaff got hit with a DUI recently, so I think he's persona non grata for the time being.

I'd actually like to see what Molinari can do and if he falls short, maybe look for some top assistant at a program like Wisconsin, Illinois or Michigan State.

Posted by: Mark at December 1, 2006 10:10 AM

According to Shooter, Flip might not be outside the realm of possibility?


Can we start another petition?

Posted by: Mark at December 1, 2006 3:25 PM

I'd love for Flip to coach but if I had a dollar everytime Shooter was wrong, the Twins would be building Freealonzo ballpark right now.

I'm sure over the weekend Sid will be talking about how Bobby Knight is a candidate. I ate lunch at Vescio's today, they weren't in there so I think the chances are slim.

Posted by: Freealonzo at December 1, 2006 4:14 PM

The General coming back to the Big 10? What an event that would be! The folks up here in NoDak keep mentioning Miles, the coach for NDSU. I see they beat Princeton last night, so perhaps he is a decent coach. I would love to see Majerus, but I doubt it would happen. Anything will be better than Monson.

Curt in Grand Forks

Posted by: Curt Hanson at December 2, 2006 9:53 AM

Majerus or Saunders. I would be thrilled with either one. I could handle Tucker, but I'd be ticked with Bickerstaff. And the General? That would be interesting, but I honestly don't think he can recruit anymore.

Saunders would fill the Barn. I hope he is considering it.

Posted by: Shane at December 2, 2006 4:28 PM

I don't know what they are saying in Motown these days, but I know Flip caught some flack over losing Ben Wallace. I'm pretty sure that's died down now. Headbands for everyone!

The Pistons started slow, but they are 8-2 over their last ten and are back in first place. The East is pretty weak and Flipper could get to the finals pretty easily I think, especially without the distraction that Wallace became. There will be a lot of love for Flip if he can get the Pistons back playing for a title. Which is to say, of course, that he's going to be very expensive to pry away from the Pistons.

Posted by: SBG at December 4, 2006 4:57 PM

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