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December 31, 2006

Good riddance

mason.jpg

Good riddance, coach. After the Insight Bowl debacle the firing of Glen Mason should come as no surprise. And I am thankful for it. I don't think my heart could take another heart-breaking loss, and I didn't even watch the Insight Bowl (I'm so sorry Kevin in AZ).

Mason was a decent coach, but these 4th quarter collapses are getting really old. It's time to see what someone else can do, especially with the new stadium coming. A new coach should bring some much need excitement to the program and will probably help recruiting. By the time the new stadium opens, the Gophers just might be competing for a Big Ten title. We can only hope...

Who will the new coach be? Forget about Tony Dungy. Ain't gonna happen (although I would love it if it did). A name that I have seen pop-up already is DeWayne Walker, the UCLA defensive coordinator. A former Gopher himself, he might actually want to be here. Wouldn't that be nice? To have a coach that would consider this to be his dream job and not just a stepping stone to Ohio State?

Other names I've heard are Bo Pelini and Mike Price. For other names, check out the GopherHole.com message board.

First Monson and now Mason. The next six months should be fun.

Be sure to check Fire Glen Mason for what I'm sure will be a well-deserved "victory lap" coming soon.

Posted by snackeru at 4:40 PM | Comments (3)

December 22, 2006

An apology to Mike Tice

Dear Mike,

Hey, how is it going? It looks like you've done well for yourself down in Jacksonville. Nice weather and a team with an 8-6 record. You are right in the middle of the playoff hunt. Good for you.

I don't know if you've heard, but your old team, the Vikings, aren't doing so well. 6-9 and they just got swept by the Packers in what has to be considered one of the ugliest games they have ever played. In fact, this whole season has gone so bad that it has made me realize something. I actually miss you, Mike. I really do.

Your successor, that moron Brad Childress, took a 9-7 team (the team you gave him) and pretty much screwed the pooch in every way possible. I don't know how he did it, but he took a team on the brink of being in the playoffs and made them worse. The Vikings have no offense to speak of, their defensive secondary is a complete joke, and they are the most penalized team in the NFL.

Brad Childress should not be allowed within 20 feet of any NFL offense ever again. His play calling is predictable, way too conservative, and phenomenally boring. Thanks to him I have never seen the Viking fan base so apathetic about this team. And it took him less than a year to do this. Less than one year!

This season can be considered nothing less than an abject failure all because of Brad Childress.

I can't believe it, Mike, but even with the Love Boat scandal you brought more discipline and accountability to this team of misfits. Brad Childress is the second coming of Les Steckel. All talk with nothing to show for it.

Mike, I hate to admit it, but you were a darn good coach. I can see this now. You gave the team personality. You worked hard to fit the team's game plan to the team's strengths. You constantly were looking for ways to improve the team. You talked with your players and built a relationship with them. You talked with us and made us feel like the Vikings were our team.

We treated you poorly, Mike, and I want to apologize for that. You didn't deserve it. You were a good coach, a great communicator, and you were a member of our community. I have no doubt you would have taken this team to the playoffs. Hindsight is 20/20, but you should still be coach of the Vikings.

Sincerely,

Shane

Posted by snackeru at 8:46 AM | Comments (12)

December 20, 2006

The Gauntlet Has Been Thrown Down

Hearken to my words fair Greet Machine reader and fan of all that is good! The evil scourge of Cheesehead Craig has reared its ugly head again to mock and ridicule our way of life. As you all know, the mighty Vikings will be traveling to the Green Bay tomorrow to take on the "vaunted" aerial attack of the infamous team of meat packers. Meat packing seems an odd choice for the theme of a football team, but they seem to be quite happy about it. It is a strange land, this Green Bay, that is a certainty.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Cheesehead Craig managed to string two coherent sentences together for the first time yesterday as he blatantly copied the structure of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven" to concoct a poem of such blasphemy that it nearly sent me into a rage of Viking-like fury. After getting over my initial shock that a cheesehead reads more than the TV Guide, my eyes alighted on the offending stanzas in shocked disbelief. For example, look at this:

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December
And as the Vikings fell on their ass then as they have always before
Eagerly I wished the kickoff; - As these “fans? began to piss off
Piss me off even more – So much I hoped we would run up the score
It is time for the man who has beaten them time and time before –
Time to bring out number Four.

Egads! Does not the sight of this refuse cause bile to rise in your throat? It is an effrontery to common decency! "Time to bring out number Four" ... ack! I can barely continue to type through the virtual stench rising from this sad attempt at scholarship.

After finishing his poem of shame my rage went unabated as I threw down the gauntlet and challenged Cheesehead Craig to a wager for the honor of all things Minnesota. Yes! If the Vikings win tomorrow I will delight in the sight of Cheesehead Craig shoveling my driveway (if crystalized precipitation ever falls in this god-forsaken state). In addition he will also purchase for me a Triple-Cheese cheesburger from the eatery Fuddruckers cooked to medium. My mouth is already salivating at the proposition of consuming this culinary masterpiece. Of course, if the Vikings lose I will be forced to do the same for him, but truly this course of events is unthinkable.

I know what the naysayers will say. They will say, but Shane you have never beaten Craig in a bet! Are not the Vikings starting a rookie? Is this not a game at Lambeau Field? To all this I say pish-posh! While all these statements are factually accurate, their veracity will only make my victory that much more satisfying! Tomorrow I shall be vindicated!

So, I leave you now with a picture of Cheesehead Craig consuming a cheeseburger from Fuddruckers, the product of a failed wager on my part two years ago. This is what I'm battling against. Note the smug expression, the cavalier attitude, the 2004 Division Champions T-shirt ... to all this I say:

Nevermore!


ccburger.jpg

Posted by snackeru at 5:59 PM | Comments (13)

Songs Played 2006

Thanks to the wonder that is the iPod, it is possible to look at the songs you played most during a particular time span. For me, I haven't reset my iPod play counts since I got it in July. While this isn't exactly accurate concerning what I listened to during the entirety 2006, it is reasonably indicative about what kinds of musical tastes I had during year. It is also interesting to see what I say I liked in the Albums Heard 2006 post below, and what I actually listened to. Anyway obviously this is a list of the songs I played most on my iPod from July - December 2006.

  1. "Scenic World" off of Gulag Orkestar by Beirut
    No surprise here. I love the album and the song.
  2. "American Idiot" off of American Idiot by Greenday
    The first surprise. If anything I really prefer "Jesus of Suburbia" off of this album. What this tells me is that I probably intended to listen to the entire album a fair number of times only to be interrupted by the bane of my existence: work.
  3. "Surf Wax America" off of Weezer (Blue Album) by Weezer
    This is really a surprise. I had no idea I liked this song so much. But I must admit I like to listen to it while freezing my butt off at the bus stop. Listening to this song in the freezing cold is somewhat therapeutic for me.
  4. "The Gash" off of The Soft Bulletin by the Flaming Lips
    No surprise here. This song makes me think of open sky and green grass. And this is followed directly by ...
  5. "Feeling Yourself Disintegrate" off of The Soft Bulletin by the Flaming Lips
    Me likey.
  6. "Solitary Man" off of American Recordings III by Johnny Cash
    As covers go (this is a Neil Diamond song), this is the best. What particularly impresses me is the guitar work. I don't think I've ever heard a guitar sound so clean and crisp. Cash's voice is tough to beat, too.
  7. "Dead Man's Rope" off of Sacred Love by Sting
    Great tune which also has a religious element to it, and I am a sucker for religious themes in popular culture. Love it.
  8. "Chicago" off of Illinois by Sufjan Stevens
    What else can be said concerning one the best songs to come out in the past 20 years? Fantastic. Creative. Exuberant. Life changing. Oh yes...
  9. "Weed Party" off of Everything All The Time by the Band of Horses
    I guess I really like this song. Huh. Who knew?
  10. "The Crane Wife 3" off of The Crane Wife by the Decemberists
    Yep. This is definitely a good one. It sets a nice tone for the entire album.
  11. "Sing Me Spanish Techno" off of Twin Cinema by the New Pornographers
    Another surprise. I do really like this song though. I'm surprised it doesn't get played more on Drive 105 or Cities 97. In fact, does it get played at all?

So, those are my top 11 songs of 2006. An interesting mix.

Posted by snackeru at 7:23 AM | Comments (2)

December 19, 2006

Albums Heard 2006

These are the albums I most appreciated this year. If you agree or disagree please let me know. Especially let me know if you think I've missed something!

  1. beirutgulag.jpgBeirut: Gulag Orkestar
    Yes, yes, yes. Man this is a good album. And I'm pretty sure if you picked it up and listened to it today, you wouldn't like it. It is so unique, it probably took me at least 10 listens to really start appreciating it. This is not your father's rock and roll. In fact, it isn't even your's, or your child's. This is true Bohemian, gypsy rock and roll with a large helping of brass instruments and juicy Eastern European beats. I am completely blown away by this one. It bashes you over the head with a ladle full of borscht and puts all the other albums on this list below to shame. Highlights include "Postcards from Italy," "Scenic World," "Brandenburg," and "After the Curtain."
  2. flamingsoft.jpgFlaming Lips: The Soft Bulletin
    I listened to the new Lips' album At War with the Mystics but I kept on coming back to this one. I was listening to this one heavily right around the time the Twins stadium was finally passed, so it seems to make me extra happy every time I hear it now. If you've ever heard the Lips before you know they are the masters of experimental sound techniques, and this album is no exception. Highlights include "The Gash" and "Feeling Yourself Disintegrate," one of the best two song combinations in all of rock in my opinion.

  3. sufjanavalanche.jpgSufjan Stevens: The Avalanche
    The fully appreciate the majesty of this album, I think it is important to understand that this is an album of throwaways, songs that weren't deemed good enough to make the final cut of the Illinois album. Having said that, this album is still one of the best of the year. That is how good Sufjan Stevens is at creating music. Seriously, I would give about anything to hear Sufjan in concert, so if anyone knows when he is coming to town please let me know. Highlights off this album include "The Avalanche," "Adlai," "Mistress," and "The Pickup." Needless to say I am anticipating with great interest the next state in the series.

  4. secretten.jpgThe Secret Machines: Ten Silver Drops
    The Secret Machines make a particular brand of music: passionate, pretentious, and grandiose. I would stick U2 and Muse below in that list too. This album has 7 great songs in this vein where the music is intended to be "big." This album would also rank higher if not for the stinker "Daddy's in the Doldrums," an appropriately named song of boring mediocrity that clocks in at 8 minutes long. One misstep, though, that I can just fast forward through. Highlights include "Alone, Jealous, and Stoned," "Lightning Blue Eyes," and "Faded Lines."

  5. stingsacredlove.jpgSting: Sacred Love
    Let's be frank: Sting is not the same Sting that we all knew from the Police. He is an old man that makes adult contemporary music now. Unfortunately for me I am also getting older and I actually like this stuff. In fact, this album is actually very good and undeserving of most of the bad reviews it got. Sometimes Sting has a tendency to overproduce some of his songs, but that is a small quibble. By far my favorite song on this album is "Dead Man's Rope." It is a song of addiction, forgiveness, and redemption that I may write more about it at a later time. But not today.

  6. bandofhorses.jpgBand of Horses: Everything All the Time
    This is one of those word-of-mouth type albums that was impossible to escape this year. Between this and their now mythical performances at SXSW in Austin, TX , it was hard to not hear about the Band of Horses. The album is thankfully very good and is highlighted by the songs "The Funeral" and "Weed Party." I like the cover artwork, too.

  7. decembristscrane.jpgThe Decemberists: The Crane Wife
    I must admit that I haven't gotten into The Decemberists phenomenon yet. In fact, this is the first album of theirs I have ever listened to on a regular basis. I definitely like what I'm hearing. The band hails from Portland, Maine, and the songs definitely have a New England/fishing village type feel to them. At least I think so. And the fact that this is also a concept album of sorts seals the deal. Listen to the first song and you'll be hooked.

  8. keaneunder.jpgKeane: Under the Iron Sea
    This album is this year's winner for best album art. I love this cover. The songs also live up to the hype. What I find interesting about this band is that it doesn't employ any guitar players. Any guitar-like sounds you hear are produced by a synthesizer. Anyway, I thought that was pretty cool. Highlights include the first single "Is It Any Wonder?" but the gem of the album is "The Frog Prince." That song alone is worht the price of admission.

  9. longwinters.jpgThe Long Winters: Putting the Days to Bed
    Another in the long line of Seattle bands, The Long Winters gets a bad rap for being too much like Death Cab for Cutie. Fortunately I haven't listened to Death Cab for Cutie much. This album, though, is a very solid effort and has even been described by some publications as a "must have" album of 2006. I am particularly impressed by "Teaspoon" and "Ultimatum."

  10. museblack.jpgMuse: Black Holes and Revelations
    This is an album I would have loved in high school. The songs off this album are probably played more on 93X than The Current, but I gotta say I am impressed. This is a tight, tight album full of good hooks and powerful, crunching guitar chords. Elements of Zeppelin, U2, and Queen, if you can believe it, can be found in this album. It is a pretty decent cavalcade of sound.

That's it for the albums I liked in 2006. Stay tuned for my favorite movies.

Posted by snackeru at 6:17 AM | Comments (11)

December 18, 2006

Books Read 2006

So many books, and not enough time. These are my favorite books of the year, in order. Please note that these books were not necessarily released in 2006, or even 2005. These are just the books that I felt compelled to read this year based on word of mouth, my knowledge of the author, the genre of the book, and increasingly the suggestions I get from LibraryThing. I would say, though, that most of these books were selected by looking at Listmania lists through Amazon.com. Please also note that every one of these books was found in and checked out from a library. If you feel like reading one of these books based on my weak ramblings below, do yourself a favor, save yourself some money, and check it out from a library. Again, I am completely mystified as to why anyone buys books when your public (or college) library is loaded with good reading material. Mind boggling ...

On with the list!

  1. The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
    By far my favorite book of the year. As the cover says, this is "The Classic Novel of South Africa" and all the images and stereotypes that phrase conjures up. It tells the story of Peekay, an English boy in Afrikaner South Africa. Peekay quickly learns that as an Englishman he is considered less than human which gives him a unique perspective on race relations in the country. The bulk of the book covers Peekay's boxing career and how it propels him into a position of respect among his classmates and the Africans he befriends. This book is really quite remarkable, it is easy to read, and it also has an oddly satisfying ending. If you pick one of these books to read, it should be this one. Also, don't watch the movie based on this book. It sucks.

  2. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
    You've probably heard of this book, but you probably don't know the interesting story behind it. John Kennedy Toole tried to get this book published during his lifetime, but was unsuccessful. It is speculated that this caused him a great deal of depression which eventually led to Toole's suicide in 1969. His mother read the manuscript and liked the book so much that she sent it to the novelist Walker Percy begging him to read it. Reluctantly, Percy read it, loved it, got it published, and the book went on to win the 1981 Pulitzer Prize. Intrigued? You should be. The book is a great read. It is funny (hilarious actually), thoughtful, and very unique. It is also considered the classic novel of New Orleans and includes one of the most memorable characters in the history of fiction: Ignatius J. Reilly. I loved it. Intelligent humor is tough to pull off in fiction. This book nails it.

  3. Spin by Robert Charles Wilson
    Easily the best science-fiction novel of the year. I'd be surprised if this didn't win a Hugo or a Nebula. What a great book. What if an unknown intelligence covered the earth with some kind of membrane that took the stars away? Not only that, what if that same membrane kept the earth in a much slower state, so that every minute that passed on earth was actually about 10,000 years in the rest of the universe? What would happen? As crazy as all this sounds, the book creates a fascinating story around these phenomenon complete with scientific inquiry, religious discussion, and end-of-the-world fanaticism. Wonderful all the way around.

  4. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
    Is life really that hard for the typical waitress, or door-to-door maid, or Wal-Mart employee? Yes, actually, it is. The author of this book gives up her life of relative luxury to work in these jobs and see if she can make enough to eat and have a place to live. Usually her efforts prove to be both funny and horribly sad as she meets some of the hardest workers with nothing to show for it you'll ever read about. Her stop in Minnesota is particularly revealing as she barely makes enough to live in the most squalid of hotel rooms. It definitely makes you thankful for what you have, and question the very system that seems to work so well for you and so poorly for others. Can't we do better? Quick and thought provoking read.

  5. The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson
    Loved it and already wrote about it.

  6. A World Lit Only by Fire by William Manchester
    Fascinating book about the fall of the Dark Ages and the beginnings of the Renaissance, with special emphasis on 1) the depravity of the Catholic church during that time period, and 2) how that and other factors created the Reformation. The book ends with a very interesting description of the life and times of Magellan and his attempt to find a water route to India. Of course, his expedition actually resulted in the first successful rounding of the tip of South America and the first documented circumnavigation of the globe. Magellan's story juxtaposed with stories of heroes of the Reformation may seem like an odd combination, but Manchester makes it work in a very compelling work of summarizing scholarship. I give it two thumbs up.

  7. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
    This is a difficult book to describe. Owen Meany is a smallish boy with some sort of Messianic complex: he believes he is an instrument of God. Told through the voice of his childhood best friend, the story centers around the fateful day Owen kills his best friend's mom with a baseball. The rest of the story follows with discussions of faith and doubt until the end when Owen's purpose in life reveals itself. It is an amazing story, so dense that it is impossible to read in any kind of timely fashion. By the way, the movie based on the book, Simon Birch does not do this work justice in the least.

  8. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford
    Guess what? Your knowledge of Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire he created is completely lacking. Read this book and be enlightened. Genghis Khan was a military and political genius whose merciless campaigns and far-reaching empire we are still feeling the effects of today. Weatherford convincingly crushes Mongol stereotypes and creates a much more plausible picture of the Mongol people as truly ahead of their time. Weatherford is also a professor at Macalester College, so reading this book helps you support a local author (even if you check it out from a library).

  9. The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon
    A cross between Flowers for Algernon and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, this book describes the life of an autistic adult and his option to take part in a new treatment that might cure him of his autism. The book focuses heavily on the trials and travails of autistic individuals and the prejudices they have to face on a daily basis, but it also describes some of the ways that autistic people can overcome and be productive members of society. The possible treatment is just a plot device for more of an essay on autism in general, but it does provide for a satisfying and interesting ending.

  10. Camouflage by Joe Haldeman
    A fast and fascinating read. A shape-shifting alien lands on earth and lives here for millions of years learning about the life on our planet. Meanwhile, another more sinister and in fact evil alien is also on the planet taking part in some of the most heinous acts in human history. Eventually these two aliens meet up. This is a critically acclaimed book, but I must admit a thought it was a little "fluffy." Again, though, it was a fast read that ultimately proved worth the time.

  11. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
    A book about vampires ... how could you go wrong with that? I learned a lot about the mythology of vampires, and it caused me to do some more research about just how Romanians feel about Dracula (they actually see him as a sort of national hero). But after reading this huge book, almost 700 pages, the final showdown lasts about a paragraph. I actually had to read it twice just to make sure I didn't miss anything. That was disappointing.

  12. Empire Falls by Richard Russo
    This book won the Pulitzer Prize, and there is no doubt that it is good, but I can't help but think as I read Russo books in general that I am re-reading Jon Hassler. Russo's Empire Falls is a lot like Hassler's Staggerford, and Russo's Straight Man is a lot like Hassler's Rookery Blues. I can't get past this.

  13. The Human Story by James C. Davis
    A good review of human history, but in the end I found this book to be a little too simple. That was probably the author's intention, though. What I found fascinating about the book was how the author could boil down huge events in human history, like WWII or the Russian Revolution, to just a few pages. It must have been very difficult to decide what details to keep in and what details to cut.

  14. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
    I've read a few of Gaiman's books, and Stardust is definitely my favorite. This book was like reading a comic book without the pictures, and that is not necessarily a good thing. Too strange for my tastes, but a good first effort from a man who is quickly turning into one of America's favorite authors.

  15. The Planets by Dava Sobel
    I was expecting another Longitude but I got a quick read on how each planet in our solar system was discovered. Some of the stories prove fascinating, while others are less than fascinating. Oh well.

  16. The Braided World by Kay Kenyon
    Space travel and alien cultures! I usually love books like this, but unfortunately I didn't find the story believable enough. And this is coming from the guy who loved the story about a membrane covering the earth and blocking out all the stars (see Spin above).

  17. Red Lightning by John Varley
    This book is the sequel to Red Thunder, a book I absolutely loved. If you want to read a great story about a private expedition to Mars, check out Red Thunder. The sequel, however, leaves much to be desired. It is disappointing and too preachy.

  18. Polaris by Jack McDevitt
    A science fiction mystery novel. The crew of the space ship Polaris disappear and no one can figure out where they went. Mix in a little discussion of lifetime longevity research and ... unfortunately this premise turns into only a so-so read.

  19. The X-President by Philip Baruth
    Boring. It is discovered that during Bill Clinton's presidency a decision is made that affects the course of American history for the worse. So, a top secret plan to travel back in time to reverse this decision is hatched. This book had potential ...

  20. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
    You would think a book about a book where the characters can actually come to life would be right up my alley. Unfortunately you've got to be at most 11 years old to fully appreciate it. Good for kids, so-so for adults.

  21. Air by Geoff Ryman
    Wow. This book would be ranked higher if not for it containing the strangest ending I read all year. If someone else read it and could explain it to me I would greatly appreciate it. Otherwise, this book can only be described as a disappointment.

  22. Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes
    The worst book I read all year. You would think a book about mitochondrial DNA and its use to determine that all European ancestry can be traced back to 4 women would be pretty nifty. Nope. The book is laughably simplistic at times ... like it was written for children. Maybe it was. It just wasn't for me.

That's about it. The books I read in the order of how much I liked them. Stay tuned for my top albums of the year . See ya!

Posted by snackeru at 6:56 AM | Comments (7)

December 17, 2006

Egads! This explains everything!

Check out this front page story from the Strib concerning the Vikings game today:

vikesheadline.jpg

No wonder we've suffered through so much playoff futility! We've been playing in the wrong conference since 1961! Thanks to the Star Tribune's crack editors for finally unveiling the truth!

Posted by snackeru at 7:20 PM

December 14, 2006

Sorry for the silence!

Sorry for the silence this week, loyal Greet Machine reader! Things have been crazy busy for me. Plus, I didn't have anything to say. So, that about covers it.

Next week I will be writing my posts on the top books of the year, the top albums of the year, and the top movies of the year. As always, these lists will be probably be dominated by stuff that came out this year, but my lists are usually full of anything I enjoyed over the year regardless of when it actually came out. Hopefully that makes sense.

So stay tuned. We'll get back to writing again soon ...

Posted by snackeru at 4:23 PM | Comments (1)

December 10, 2006

Thoughts and opinions

• Interesting Vikings game today. It was nice that the Vikings won. They showed some good, offensive life in the first half, and the defense was its usual dominating self. But what made it interesting, I thought, was a few of the rules and plays that occurred during the game.

For example, anyone else out there ever heard of the rule where only the offensive player that fumbled the ball can advance it with under 2:00 minutes left in a half? In other words, if an offensive player fumbles, and another offensive player picks it up, the play is over as soon as the second offensive player gains possession of the ball. And this is only enforced after the 2:00 minute warning. I truly cannot figure out why this rule was ever created. It seems to have been created to put the offense at a disadvantage. Maybe it was put in place to make games more exciting? Can anyone shed some light on this one?

Anyway, that was the first example of the refs actually making the game more interesting.

The second instance occurred when the refs called unnecessary roughness on Thomas Jones after Cedric Griffin recovered the Roy Williams fumble. What I'm wondering is what would have happened to the unnecessary roughness call on Thomas Jones if Roy Williams hadn't fumbled the ball? If you'll recall, the Lions threw the red flag to challenge the ruling that Williams ever had possession of the ball. If the refs reversed the call and said that Williams never had possession, would the refs have then moved the Lions back 15 yards since Jones was called for unnecessary roughness? Or would they have pretended the personal foul penalty never happened? That stumped me for a while. My thought is they wouldn't have enforced the personal foul, but then again it is a dead ball foul. They might have given the Lions the ball back but moved them back 15 yards.

Finally in the second half, there was a play where Childress challenged a first down catch by Lions receiver Mike Furrey saying he never had possession. Originally the side judge called Furrey down by contact. The replays proved, however, that Furrey not only caught the ball but also fumbled it. When the play was called dead, the Vikings had already gobbled the ball up, but because Furrey was already ruled down, the Vikes had no opportunity to advance the ball. The refs blew the play dead. Then, based on the replays, the head umpire not only reversed the call but he gave the ball to the Vikings at the spot of the fumble. Anyway, I just thought that was an interesting call. The Vikings were obviously thrilled to get the ball, but they were denied the opportunity to advance the ball when it was originally fumbled. Who knows how far they would have been able to get had the play not been blown dead.

So, yeah, the refs made the game a lot more interesting. You may not agree though. Oh well ... Skol Vikings!

• Is AI the answer for the T-Wolves? For the most complete, in-depth, scary-complete analysis check out this post, Allen Iverson may not be "The Answer," from the TWolves Blog. Yikes! Every angle is looked at here. I honestly don't think there is anything else to say.

Besides, If SBG says it is a good deal, then I say let's do it. I defer all TWolves arguments to the genius that is SBG.

Having said all of this though, I really don't think the TWolves are going to get Allen Iverson. The four players mentioned most often are Ricky Davis, Eddie Griffin, Troy Hudson, and Randy Foye. In other words, Randy Foye and three cinder blocks. Philadelphia can probably do better, no matter how much they like Randy Foye.

Now, thanks to this diversion, KG is going to have to do some damage control. How do you think Ricky Davis feels about KG so vocally lobbying for his replacement? I would imagine he is a little hurt. The chemistry that Casey has fought so hard for these first 19 games may have taken a little beating.

redtailhawk.jpg • On a personal note, over the weekend I took my Cub Scout den to the Raptor Center at the U of M. If you've never heard of it, the Raptor Center is a kind of hospital for sick raptors, or birds of prey. They are open on a lot of weekends during the year, and they will also put on a little song and dance for groups that ask. They even put on birthday parties! Anyway, the Raptor Center was fascinating. We saw hawks, falcons, vultures, owls, kestrels, and eagles. Many, many eagles in fact. And when they brought hese birds out for us to see ... well words cannot express how beautiful these birds are. Majestic. And did you know that the perigrine falcon can fly over 200 miles per hour when diving to attack prey? Well, you do now! Fascinating stuff.

• Finally, I'd like to wish my wife a happy birthday today! Happy birthday Molly! I love you! Have fun scrapbooking!

Posted by snackeru at 8:01 PM | Comments (8)

December 6, 2006

At home today

Click the link if you are interested in why I am home sick today. Warning! It may disgust some of you. Probably not though.

pinkeye.jpg

Pink eye (not a hangover)!

Posted by snackeru at 2:04 PM | Comments (6)

Bread and Butter (or Christmas comes early!)

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So, even though we don't have fight for a new Twins ballpark anymore that doesn't mean there isn't news to report! Today, courtesy of the Star Tribune, we have a great article discussing some of the particulars of the new stadium. Of course, I have some comments.

First, I am a little surprised by the dimensions of the field: "339 feet down the left field line, 377 feet in the left field gap, 404 feet to center field, 370 feet in the right field gap and 328 feet down the right field line." What surprises me about this is that the new field will be smaller than the Metrodome field in almost every dimension except right field. Right field in the Metrodome is 327 feet, whereas in the new ballpark it will be 328 feet. As you all know, right field in the Metrodome is dominated by The Baggy due to the short distance down the right field line. This is, of course, caused by playing in a football stadium. It was my hope that we would be escaping a Baggy like edifice in right field in the new ballpark, but apparently this will not be the case. Left field will have a wall of 8 feet whereas right field will have a wall of 14 feet. Not a big deal?

Secondly, and this is probably what everyone will be talking about, the new ballpark will only seat 40,000 fans. As Jerry Bell has already said, it will still be bigger than PNC and Fenway, but I gotta admit I was getting pretty used to saying 42,000. Bell has also been fond of saying that the new ballpark will have the smallest upper deck of any park in the majors. I think he has always said the upper deck will seat 10,000-12,000 fans meaning that the vast majority of seats will be in the lower deck. What I'm wondering is why can't they just tack a couple of extra rows on top of the upper deck to add a couple more thousand fans? And that, my friends, is why I'm not an architect. I'm sure they never just "tack on" anything.

Having said this, I am kind of excited that this will be "the most compact ballpark built in America." We have always wanted a more "neighborly" feeling ballpark. Well, it sure sounds like that is what we are going to get. Man, it is cool to think about stuff like this, especially given that I didn't think the Twins would ever get a new ballpark. Christmas has sure come early for me this year.

By the way, Hennepin County has put together a great new web site concerning the new ballpark construction called "On Deck." The site even includes meeting minutes of the MBA (Minnesota Ballpark Authority)! Man I love this stuff.

• And now for news from that other team. You know, the team I have been cheering for all my life with nothing to show for it. Don't get me wrong, I love the Vikings. I bleed purple, but for the love of all that is holy I have been bleeding for too long! Sheesh!

Anyway, you can chalk this up under "the most obvious news of the week" ... As you know the state budget is looking very, very good right now. Almost $2 billion extra thanks to a strengthening economy. The Strib, again, had an interesting article about this where T-Paw was quoted as saying:

The surplus forecast is "substantially larger than I had anticipated," Pawlenty said, adding that it will engender "three times as many requests as the money available." One potential beneficiary he quickly crossed off his list was a new Vikings stadium, saying he wouldn't spend state general funds on it.

Again, this is so obvious that I have held off on writing about it, but if you were at all thinking that general fund dollars could ever be used for a new stadium, just get it out of your head. It ain't gonna happen, not even if the budget surplus was $10 billion. Zygi had better have another funding source in mind.

• Finally, you may have missed this, but some interesting news came out about the new Gophers stadium. The U has set up a webcam where you can watch the construction! Right now it just shows some cars in a parking lot, but I'm sure it will offer some great shots of the construction in the coming months. I am strangely excited about this. I hope the Twins consider a similar set up.

That's it for now. Have a good one!

Posted by snackeru at 10:24 AM | Comments (8)

December 5, 2006

Advent has officially begun!

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The Advent season is officially here! My Larry ornament is on the tree! And yes, Larry really is that white. Now, speaking of my Larry ornament if you'll remember last year Larry Legend was kidnapped by Cheesehead Craig and forced to fight for the honor of his true love, Polly Pockets. Needless to say, I will be watching Larry like a hawk to make sure nothing happens to him this year. Not going to Disney World and never leaving home will help.

Posted by snackeru at 5:36 PM | Comments (3)

Today's folklore lesson

hodag.jpg So, I write you a great entry yesterday about elephants, PT Barnum, and the Brooklyn Bridge, and all you want to do is talk about the Vikings. Well, I don't want to talk about the Vikings! I'm sick of those boring stiffs. So, you are going to get a post about the Hodag. Deal with it.

The Hodag is a mythical creature (seen to the right) that supposedly lives in the woods of northern Wisconsin. As you can see it has long teeth, claws, and spikes coming out of its back. Apparently the myth of the Hodag grew up around the lumberjack community in the vicinity of Rhinelander, WI. While it is described as being "ferocious" I'm not sure of any documented cases of Hodag attacks. Of course, Wikipedia has a great entry about the mythical Hodag if you are interested in reading more.

Have you ever heard of the Hodag? Well, until yesterday I had never heard of the Hodag either which is strange given that 1) I grew up in River Falls, WI, and 2) my traveling basketball team used to get creamed by the Rhinelander team (whose team mascot was the Hodag). And just like yesterday, where I read about 21 elephants, PT Barnum, and the Brooklyn Bridge in a children's book, I again read about the Hodag in a children's book I picked up at my local library. I love children's books!

In addition, apparently a Hodag replica can be seen at the Park at MOA. I have literally been to the MOA hundreds of times and I have never seen this display. Needless to say, I am now on a mission...

So there! No Vikings talk! Stupid Vikings ... long live the Hodag!

Posted by snackeru at 8:48 AM | Comments (4)

December 3, 2006

Today's history lesson

brookbridge.jpg I am continually amazed by what I read in childrens' books. The Brooklyn Bridge opened in 1883 and at the time was the longest suspension bridge in the world. And while a lot of people immediately used the bridge to travel between Brooklyn and New York, many people still doubted its structural integrity. Hearing this, and knowing a great marketing scheme when he saw one, P.T. Barnum of "The Greatest Show on Earth" fame decided to test the weight limits of the bridge by marching his own elephants across it in the interest of the "dear public." The May 18, 1884 New York Times tells the story:

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At the end of the march, Barnum declared that he too was satisfied with the "solidity of the masterpiece."

I thought that was pretty cool.

• I don't know about you, but I don't think I have ever been more apathetic about the Vikings than I am now. I don't know how they have done it, but Zygi and Childress have created the most lifelless and uninteresting Vikings team I have ever seen. No personality, no team identity, nothing to get excited about. Everything is vanilla mediocrity. The Vikings marketing department must be gnashing their teeth in frustration.

• Today on the Sports Huddle with Sid and Dave, Sid Hartman was unbelievably confident that Flip Saunders would take the Gophers basketball head coaching position. That, my friends, would be reason to celebrate.

Posted by snackeru at 9:32 PM | Comments (9)

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