September 25, 2007
Not feeling it
Silence. Sometimes it is good, and sometimes it causes people to wonder what is up. Honestly, I just haven't been "feeling it" lately. So excuse my extended hiatus. I think it might also have something to do with the fact that I just read the book The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Yikes, what a bleak book. Any book that features cannibalism and eating newborn children is bound to put a damper on anyone. I'm serious, Oprah is one sick person. Not only has she picked this book for her book club, but also stuff like Night by Elie Wiesel and The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Depressing, depressing stuff. I guess when you have a bazillion dollars you have to look for ways to make yourself sadder. Oprah is so rich and happy she needs this kind of stuff to even herself out so she doesn't freak people out with a constant stream of happiness I guess. A poor sap like me just wants to slit my wrists and end it all after reading this stuff.
Ah ... but that is not what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about a number of different topics including:
The U of M Golden Gophers! -- You know what? I was happy after the loss to Purdue. I thought the team played like crap (fumbling that blocked punt was a low point), but there was a glimmer of hope. Enough hope that I will now make a bold prediction:
The Golden Gophers will beat Michigan and claim The Jug on October 27th.
You heard it here first! We all drank the Tim Brewster Kool-Aid. No doubt about it. I think we would all feel better if he had come in to town and said, "You know what? This team sucks. We probably won't win 3 games. I just want to be up front with everyone." But he didn't do that ... he got our hopes up and now he is paying for it. We are questioning not only his coaching ability but his ability to evaluate talent as well. I still say we'll be A-OK 2-3 years from now, but right now it is painful.
Having said that, if the Golden Gophers can claim the Jug? Oh man ... all is forgiven. And I predict they will. I have no statistics to back this up, only a gut feeling that we are all in for a treat. Who is with me? Jump on the bandwagon now!
The Minnesota Vikings! -- Boring. Excruciatingly boring in fact. So boring I would rather watch Golden Gopher football. If that doesn't spell it out for you I don't know what will.
You know, I've been thinking ... maybe it would have been better if Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper had never been members of the Vikings. They made things way too exciting and now we are bored with an average football team. Have we been spoiled? Yes, I think we have. Maybe AP/AD can spruce things up a bit in the long term, but right now Chilly and Zygi haven't given us anything to be excited about.
This is probably nothing you haven't heard before. I hope it gets better, but it would appear that we'll be waiting for a while for it to do so.
The Minnesota Twins! -- My plan for the off season includes re-signing Torii Hunter for a slight discount, but my goodness ... can we please give the man four years and be done with it? He makes the team better with his defense, leadership, and now his offense. He deserves to play in that new stadium. I say do what it takes to get it done.
The second part of my plan includes trading Johan Santana. No one, and I mean no one, is worth $20 million a year, especially a player who is on the field only once every five games. I would say keep him until the trade deadline, and then get just a phenomenal player that 1) you think you can re-sign for a reasonable price and 2) that wants to sign with the Twins. Surely there is someone out there.
I have faith in a rotation of Liriano, Baker, Slowey, Garza and Silva/Perkins. Naive? Sure. That is why I am a blogger and not a GM. But the way I see it, the Twins are kind of like a college baseball team. Players are constantly coming and going, but they always keep it interesting. I can live with that.
That's it for now, folks. See you later!
September 19, 2007
Favorite Lines from the Movies: Part IX
Ash: Now listen up, you primitive screwheads. See this? This... is my BOOMSTICK! The 12-gauge double-barreled Remington. S-Mart's top of the line. You can find this in the sporting goods department. That's right, this sweet baby was made in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Retails for about $109.95. It's got a walnut stock, cobalt blue steel, and a hair trigger. That's right. Shop smart. Shop S-Mart. You got that?
Favorite Lines from the Movies: Part VIII
Xerxes: Your Athenian rivals will kneel at your feet... if you but kneel at mine.
King Leonidas: That is quite an offer. Only a mad man would refuse it. But this kneeling business... I'm afraid killing all those slaves of yours has left me with a nasty cramp in my leg.
Favorite Lines from the Movies: Part VII
Vizzini: I can't compete with you physically, and you're no match for my brains.
Man in black: You're that smart?
Vizzini: Let me put it this way. Have you ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates?
Man in black: Yes.
September 18, 2007
Favorite Lines from the Movies: Part VI
Alright, boys, this is the last shot we got! We're gonna run the picket fence at 'em! Jimmy, you're solo right! Everett, Merle should be open on the other side of that fence! Now, boys, don't get caught watchin' the paint dry!
Favorite Lines from the Movies: Part V
Tyler Durden: The first rule of Fight Club is - you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is - you DO NOT talk about Fight Club. Third rule of Fight Club, someone yells Stop!, goes limp, taps out, the fight is over. Fourth rule, only two guys to a fight. Fifth rule, one fight at a time, fellas. Sixth rule, no shirt, no shoes. Seventh rule, fights will go on as long as they have to. And the eighth and final rule, if this is your first night at Fight Club, you have to fight.
Favorite Lines from the Movies: Part IV
Pop Fisher: Batting practice tomorrow, be there!
Roy Hobbs: I have been. Every day.
Favorite Lines from the Movies: Part III
"You wanted to know what the matrix is, Neo?
"You've been living in a dream world, Neo. This is the world as it exists today. Welcome to the desert of the real.
"Throughout human history, we have been dependent on machines to survive. Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony."
Welcome to the desert of the real. Awesome.
Favorite Lines from the Movies: Part II
Xur: "Star League! A refuge for weak worlds not ready to be our equals!
Hear me Rylans! When the green moon of Galon is eclipsed, the Kodan Armada will invade! And not even your mighty Star Fighters will be able to save you."
Enduran: We shall see, Xur. We shall see!
From The Last Starfighter, 1984. To see the entire scene in all its spittle infested glory, see this YouTube clip.
Favorite Lines from the Movies: Part I
I was just thinking… …of a Flaming Rum Punch ...
No, it’s not called that and it’s not nearly cold enough anyway. Wait a minute, wait a minute, I got it. A mulled wine, heavy on the cinnamon, and light on the cloves. There we go, off with you lad and look lively!
Look lively everyone!
September 16, 2007
Welcome to the 1000th entry of the Greet Machine. I started this blog 3.5 years ago and it is still going. Not strong, but it is going. 1000 entries is a nice achievement for any blogger, so I thought I would celebrate by writing one of my typical incoherent ramblings. Lucky you! I would write about Minnesota sports, but quite frankly there is nothing to be excited about right now.
First of all, a discussion of the obligatory statistics of the site. The Greet Machine averages about 315 readers a day. So, for the 315 people that take time our of your day to come and visit, I thank you. There are also about 150 people that check the site multiple times a day. That is amazing. I could understand multiple visits if the Twins stadium was still up in the air, but checking the site more than once a day for what I'm writing recently is phenomenal. Maybe it isn't for what I'm writing?
The comments. That must be it. Over the 3.5 years the "Machine" has been in existence, there have been well over 8,000 comments. Sometimes I feel like I can just write about anything, and people will discuss whatever they want, regardless of what I've written, in the comments. I'm glad some of you feel comfortable using this site as a place to have a discussion.
Finally, a discussion of my "greatest hits." During the hey-day of the battle for the Twins ballpark this site was getting a lot of traffic. Well over 1,000 visitors a day on average, and sometimes over 5,000. Those were the glory days. My biggest day ever stats-wise featured this entry called This is the day which discussed the vote in the House and my own summary of the proceedings. It was a "live blog" of the event which I updated throughout the day. Oh, and that night I was also on the WCCO 10 o'clock news in a piece called Local Blogger Keeps Eyes on Stadium Issues. You can still see the piece on the preceding link.
Being on the news was not a smart move as it caused me all sorts of grief. That prompted me to write an entry called This is who I am which discussed the freedom of speech and my obligation to speak up on issues that are important to me.
Some people feel this is my best work, but quite frankly I am most proud of the writing I have done that is not stadium related, or not overtly stadium related. So, here are some links to peruse if you are bored:
- My visit with the Little Brown Jug -- I got to hold the most prized traveling trophy in all of college football. Still gives me goosebumps.
- I'm getting stupider -- A lighthearted look at how age. marriage, and children, sap a man's creativity and intelligence.
- Parkinson's Law: An Introduction -- "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." A discussion.
- Parkinson's Law: The Law of Triviality -- The time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum [of money] involved. And my corollary.
- Worst songs ever written (that are also overplayed) -- I could probably add a few songs to the list now that I read this over again.
- The Fair -- My hatred of the tactics used to make crowds clap louder is explained.
- The Inevitable Fall -- I have yet to fall on the ice since challenging Old Man Winter. I think he is saving a big one for me.
- Strawberry Fields Forever -- I used to write a series called Songs for a Desert Island. This was one of them. Although my entry for "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" gets the most hits.
- Thank You Wisconsin -- I think this entry sums up pretty nicely what it feels like to be a fan of Minnesota sports.
- Thy Kingdom Come -- I thought I had a pretty good Easter sermon this year.
There are more, but this will do. Again, check them out if you are bored or if you need something to read over lunch.
Lastly, I will leave you with a set of random pictures for no reason whatsover. Enjoy!
This is a picture of my basketball hoop. Note how the rim does not tilt towards the ground even a little bit! I am incredibly proud of this. My basketball hoop is installed to perfection.
This is a loaf of bread I made last night. It was made with a bread maker purchased for me by long-time Greet Machine reader "Curt in Grand Forks" as a wedding present 13 years ago. Thanks Curt! It is still going strong!
Finally, this is me outside the Poultry Barn during the State Fair. Note that the Poultry Barn is closed. This made me very angry since one of my favorite things to do at the Fair is look at the chickens. I don't know why, but I find the different variety of chickens absolutely amazing. If you were wondering why there weren't any chicken pictures this year, this is the reason.
That's it for now. Have a great day everyone!
September 12, 2007
Ahhhh! It's the new ballpark! Everyone run!
What to write about ... what to write about ... hmmmm ... I know! I'll write about the new Twins ballpark! Who doesn't like that topic? Nobody!
Let's see, first I shall write about something obvious. Something that most people already know, but maybe haven't really seen before. For example, as Twins Ballpark 2010 has already pointed out, new ballpark renderings show a great deal more outfield seating. See for yourself!
Below you may feast your eyes on the old ballpark rendering that the Twins are still featuring on their website:
Now look at the picture below that I took at the State Fair at the Twins booth:
Do you see the difference?!?!?!? Can you believe what your eyes are telling you? As for me, I am stunned almost to the point of apoplexy. Note the increased seating in left field, the scoreboard now looming directly over the stands, and flags in the right field plaza.
You read and saw that right! Flags! Big ones and little ones. Fat ones and skinny ones. Flags with a fox in a box, and flags with a mouse in a house. And you thought it couldn't get any better! Well, you were wrong!
In addition, If Winnie the Pooh was civilized enough to keep his honey in jars, why did he eat it off his hands? Surely he had spoons? Alas, it is a mystery ...
Ha ha! Now I shall write about something maybe you don't know about. Unfortunately you also may not care, but it is ballpark news so let's make sure we are all kept informed.
I received this note from Aron Kahn, the media spokesperson for Land Partners II (and even though I am in a "mood" tonight, I definitely appreciate being kept in the loop. Thanks Aron! I enjoyed your Pioneer Press articles!). It appears the two sides have again agreed to try mediation:
To the news media:
As a few of you know, the two sides today agreed to mediation of the matter. The mediation, to be conducted by one mediator, will be non-binding and will take place by Oct. 1.
Also, the landowners announced they will appeal the award of the condemnation commissioners. The appeal will be filed next week. The county said it would counter-appeal if the landowners appeal.
A Hennepin jury trial on the appeals will be held Nov. 13, if the mediation is not successful. If the mediation is acceptable to both sides, the long battle will be over.
Earlier today, I sent all of you the landowners' response to the county's Tuesday offer. I also sent you a copy of the landowners' offer of two weeks ago.
If I can be of any help, please call.
So, good news indeed, especially if you are like me: sick in the head and wishing that it was 2010 already.
TTFN! Have a spectacular day!
September 10, 2007
A good beginning
I think we all know what happened next
I was at the Vikings game yesterday and witnessed Adrian Peterson's first NFL touchdown. I also witnessed the beginnings of what looks like a dominating Viking defense. Even Udeze got a sack so you know something must be going right for the Purple. Here are a couple of other things I noticed:
- The Vikings are finally making use of Led Zeppelin's "The Immigrant Song." It is about fricken time. They played this song during the introductions, and then before the second half kick-off. Why it has taken them this long is beyond me. It is such an appropriate song.
- Every time I go to a Vikings game and walk through the concourses I am convinced that whoever designed the Metrodome must have been a stick man. The concourses are so narrow if the concession stands have even modest lines there is almost no room just to walk to your seats or the restroom. What were they thinking?
- Even though "football was made for TV" given the choice between going to the game or watching it on TV (and both were free), I would pick going to the game every time. When Kevin Williams made that interception the noise was deafening. It is a neat feeling to be so in tune with so many people. Really, there is nothing like being at the game.
- And finally, when Red owned the team the game "Playbook" placed on every seat was about 20 pages and pretty much worthless. Zygi's "Playbook" is 45 pages and has some pretty decent content. My hats off to Zygi for that one.
In fact, yesterday's "Playbook" had a good column called "5 Decades with Freddy" in which Fred Zamberletti is given some space to reminisce about the glory days of the franchise. One story Fred tells is particularly humorous and may give the secret of getting the Vikings team fired up for game day:
"The most eventful Atlanta memory was when we were playing a game in Atlanta. It was probably three-quarters of the way through the season and it was a dismal day. The team was down; you could tell at the pregame mean that it was a bit of a downer. The guys weren't moving with any energy. Bud Grant was always very strict about the pregame meal. It was always the same: steak, eggs, green beans, and a baked potato. That day, Carl Eller asked the waiter to bring him some pancakes. So, the waiter said 'sure' and went to the kitchen to bring him some pancakes. Grant, who never misses a thing, looked at our operations guy and he didn't even say anything, he just moved his eyes. And the operations guy jumped to his feet, ran over to the waiter and had the guy take the pancakes back to the kitchen. Well, Eller saw that and he sprung from his chair. He charged the waiter's tray of dishes on the table; it had dishes of food and glasses. He hauled off and kicked that thing straight in the air. Dishes, food, glasses, everything went flying. The team went into an uproar. Bud sat there and didn't show any emotion, and he didn't have to give a pregame speech that day! They were all fired up."
Great story. In fact, I think it holds the key for the success of this year's team. Their motto should be, "No pancakes." Skol Vikings!
September 6, 2007
Viking game blackout
Before I begin let me just say two things: 1) it is absolutely shameful that the Viking home opener is not sold out. This is the home opener! Even if the Vikings had gone 0-16 last year, there is no excuse for not selling out the home opener. None. And 2) The fact that the Packers sell out every game, regardless of record, weather, player personalities, being in the smallest market, etc. is very, very respectable. Quite frankly it is amazing and difficult to explain. The Packers have great fans and that is all there is to it.
That brings me to the main question: Does the fact that the Vikings game might be blacked out on TV this Sunday, for the home opener, mean that the Vikings do not have good fans?
First of all, doing a little bit of research, I have found at least 5 teams that have dealt with blackout possibilities this season, whether it is pre-season or for the home opener. The teams are St. Louis, Jacksonville, Detroit, San Diego, and Oakland. These seem to be the teams we would expect ... kind of. St. Louis plays in a crappy dome like the Vikings. Jacksonville is a really small market without much to cheer for. Detroit ... well they suck and they always will suck it seems. I have always thought it is hard work being a Vikings fan, but being a Detroit fan? That must be flat out painful and depressing.
The two teams that leave me scratching my head as much as the Vikings are San Diego and Oakland. Like the Vikings, San Diego also has a bad stadium situation (which the team has beat over the head of the public for years), but a pretty decent team to cheer for. And Oakland has a reputation for having great and very loyal fans, but they also have a crazy owner and a mediocre team.
I guess I point these other teams out to say that Vikings fans aren't alone in being faced with potential blackouts (although I believe most of these teams have achieved a sell-out). They also demonstrate a number of reasons why the Vkings may not be selling out their game. They are:
- The Vikings aren't very good: The Vikings will be better than last year, but the jury is still out on whether or not they will make the playoffs. Some fans could be staying away because of this.
- The Vikings are boring: Let's face it, over the past couple of seasons, especially last season, the Vikings have not been very entertaining. And it doesn't look like it will get any better this year. It appears the Vikings will focus on their running game this year and while Adrian Peterson could turn out to be very entertaining, a running game is usually not as fun to watch as a powerful passing attack.
- The Vikings play in a crappy stadium: I don't mind watching games at the Metrodome, but that stadium has as much character as a stick of butter. The place is just a dump. Add to that the incessant whining of the owners about getting a new stadium, and all their bad-mouthing of the place, and is it any wonder fans are staying away?
- The Metrodome is hard to get to: With the 35W bridge collapse the Metrodome is even harder to get to, but even before that finding parking in downtown Minneapolis is/was a pain.
- Cheap tickets are easy to buy: Why would anyone buy the crappy seats they are selling for face-value, when you can buy tickets from TicketKing or another now legal scalper for probably half-price for a better seat?
- Going to a game is still expensive: Even with scalped tickets prevalent, it is still hard for some people to afford to go to the game, especially in this volatile economy. Add in parking and you've got to have a nice little chunk of change to see a game. A lot of fans just prefer to get the game for free on their TVs.
These are all good reasons people might be staying away. In fact, most people probably are using a couple of these reasons in tandem to justify their absence from the game. For example, someone might say, "I won't go because I can't afford a ticket, the Vikings stink, and I don't want to have to find parking in downtown Minneapolis with all that traffic."
However, the biggest reason I see for the Vikings ticket sales woes will always be:
- Entertainment opportunity saturation: The Vikings aren't the only game in town. We have the Twins, the T-Wolves, and the Wild. Plus Gopher basketball (men's and women's), football, and hockey. Combine that with things like the Guthrie (and all the other theaters), museums, and probably even just going to the movies and the Vikings have a lot to compete against for that entertainment dollar. Certainly more than the Packers have in Green Bay.
Having said all of this, there is still no excuse for not selling out the home-opener. None. If one game should be sold out, it is the home opener. There are a lot of reasons our fans might justify it, but it is still sad.
Again, the question is: does this mean the Vikings have bad fans?
Ticket sales are certainly the best way to measure fan appreciation, but there are other factors that could be considered. One is TV ratings. According to the StarTribune:
A Vikings blackout would have a substantial impact on the Minnesota fan base, which even in bad times has traditionally given local broadcasters large ratings. Last year, the Vikings finished 6-10 but still averaged a 30.2 rating and a 59 share in the Twin Cities, 10th-best in the NFL.
During the Randy Moss years it was said that 75% of homes in the entire state were tuned to Vikings games on Sunday. And really, 10th best in the NFL for TV ratings for the boring team they had last year is pretty good.
Obviously, the Vikings have people that are interested in the team. There is no doubt about that. The Vikings also have a lot of passionate fans which can be demonstrated by people attending practices at Training Camp, or dressing up like idiots on game day.
But I have to say that the potential for TV blackouts, plus good overall TV ratings, plus a smattering of passionate fans does not equal a "great" fan base. It equals an "average" fan base, at best.
I love the Vikings. I always have and it pains me that Minnesota does not embrace them like the fans of other teams. But the fact of the matter is even the possibility of TV blackouts signals fan apathy for whatever reason. On the whole, fans of the Vikings are way too fickle and our unwillingness to go out to the game sends a bad message to both the legislature and the NFL.
September 4, 2007
Move along ... nothing to see
I predict the Gophers football team will go 3-9 this year. And you know what? I would still be happy with that.
First season records of a few new head coaches:
Kirk Ferentz: 1-10
Greg Schiano (Rutgers) 2-9
Barry Alvarez: 1-10
Alvarez's first year was 1990 and the only game they won was against Ball State. They lost to Temple for goodness sake. By 1993 they were in the Rose Bowl.
We know Brewster is a good recruiter. He has a good track record. We know the Gophers will be playing at a brand new stadium in 2009. That will bring in some good players. We are going to be OK.
This is just one game. Brewster has served us some delicious Kool-Aid over the last few months, and last night's defeat was a huge disappointment. I don't argue that. But let's put this in perspective. This is going to be a rough year, but I'm still optimistic for the future.
I'm not saying Brewster is guaranteed to be a legend like Alvarez, but I do think we should give him a chance.
So, I've been listening to a lot of good music lately. I'd have to say my favorite album this summer has been Hollywood Town Hall by The Jayhawks. That is a phenomenal album. Of all The Jayhawks albums I've been listening to, that has to be my favorite. Phenomenal.
I've also been listening to Challengers by the New Pornographers. That is also a very satisfying album, but once again I must take exception to their name. Here is how I learned that this band had a new album.
One of my co-workers yelled over our cubicles, "Hey Shane, you like the New Pornographers, don't you?"
Now, this is an interesting question to answer. If he had asked, "Hey Shane, you like The Jayhawks, don't you?" I would answer with a simple "Yes, I like them a lot." But for this question I had to answer.
"Ummmm ... yes ... ummm I like the MUSICAL BAND the New Pornographers. I do not like pornography, especially ... ummmm ... new pornography. But the BAND, yes, they make good MUSIC. Just want to clarify that."
My co-worker answered, "Well, they have a new album out today."
Meanwhile, the rest of my co-workers probably think I'm addicted to new pornography. Why did this band have to choose this stupid name? Why?
Good album, though. Not quite as good as Twin Cinema but very worth my purchase.
The Weird Al concert last Monday was fantastic. He played every song I wanted him to play, including "Canadian Idiot" (that's for you Curt). He also played "The Saga Begins," "White and Nerdy," "Smells Like Nirvana," "Fat," "Eat It," a phenomenal polka medly, and a 25 minute medly of tons of his other hits. Plus more. The show lasted for about 2 hours and 15 minutes, and ended with an encore of the epic "Albuquerque" with an extended section of donut names. If you are a Weird Al fan, you know what I'm talking about. In between almost every song Weird Al and his band would leave to do a costume change, and the crowd would be treated to old clips of his interviews originally shown on ALtv. These interviews were so funny, they were almost as good as the songs themselves. Seriously, my cheeks hurt the next day from laughing and smiling so much.
Weird Al, my hat is off to thee! You put on a fantastic show. The best $22 ticket I have ever purchased.
Finally, I have done my part to put the Vikings on TV. I will be at the game this Sunday. Actually, my mom bought the tickets, so you can thank her. And yes, I will be attending the Vikings game with my mom. We love our Vikings.
That's it. Talk to you soon.