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Category Archives: Lifestyle

Not Hooked On This Crochet Mystery

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was stuck on a book. Despite all the reasons I thought I would like that mystery set in Georgian England, it just wasn’t grabbing me and it seemed like the best way to restart my reading was to switch books. Normally, to get on-track with my reading again, I like turn to a book by a favorite author, a known quantity. But, much to my folly, I went with an author I hadn’t read before.

The premise of Hooked on Murder by Betty Hechtman appealed to me for a couple reasons. It was set in a bookstore and it involved a crochet group–two things I love. Not only that, but because this author was published by Berkley Prime Crime, I had a feeling I knew what to expect from the book in terms style and the quality of writing.

Berkley Prime Crime tends to specialize in “cozies”, mysteries in the tradition of Agatha Christie where things happen in a set location with an established cast of characters. These books focus more on the mystery of figuring out “who-done-it” than on vividly gruesome crime description, overt violence, or action. And the Prime Crime books seem to be aimed at women because so many of the authors and protagonists are female.  But while Hooked on Murder was generally true to what I have come to expect from Berkley Prime Crime, it just didn’t do it for me.

The story. Molly Pink, a recent widow in her late 40s, has fought to get her life back to a new normal after the early death of her husband Charlie, a partner in a small public relations firm. But Molly’s plans for her new normal are thrown when she discovers the dead body of Ellen, her husband’s business partner. Now Molly is scrambling to figure out who would kill Ellen because a jealous female police detective seems convinced Molly is guilty, a development that would free up Molly’s boyfriend for this detective. In her efforts to learn more about the deceased and find an outlet for the nervous energy being the prime suspect of a murder investigation can cause, Molly joins the crochet group that Ellen ran and learns that there were a variety of people who benefited from Ellen’s death far more than Molly did. In order to prove her innocence, Molly is going to have to find out who really killed Ellen–all while learning to crochet the perfect granny square.

What I liked. As a protagonist, Molly is likeable. She’s been through tough times with the early death of her husband, but she’s rebuilding her life on her own and struggles to maintain the independence she’s discovered in the wake of tragedy. Not only is Molly herself likeable, but so is her best friend Dinah, a community college English teacher who refuses to disclose her age. I enjoyed this story the most when it stayed with Molly and Dinah.

The other characters. Other than Molly and Dinah, almost none of the characters were likeable. Molly had two grown sons, Peter and Samuel, and neither of them seemed worthy of her. Peter came across as coldly self-centered that even as his mother worried about being arrested. Samuel fares no better, coming across as a complete wuss. Molly’s boyfriend Barry was remarkably obtuse for a police detective, never realizing that “Detective Heather” was crushing on him and trying to get Molly out of the way, even if that meant charging Molly with a murder she didn’t commit. Adele, a fellow bookstore employee, is so over-the-top rude to Molly that I cringed each time she appeared in the story. An aging star, CeeCee, attempting to become the crochet group’s new leader is entertaining in her vain way, but the other group members are kind of flat. The owners of the bookstore where Molly works are only present to heap pressure on Molly for things she can’t control, and it felt odd that small business owners would be in their shop so seldom. Perhaps the only other likeable character was Jeffrey, Barry’s son. Thirteen-year-old Jeffrey, despite his father’s consternation, wants to be an actor and wants to know all about Molly’s experience finding a dead body. I can go along with a lot in a story so long as I like the characters in it, but with Hooked on Murder I mostly felt sorry for Molly, Dinah, and Jeffrey that they were surrounded by so many jerks.

The writing. Despite the drought of likeable characters, Betty Hechtman writes a clear, understandable story. Through the action and the revelation of the mystery, there weren’t any times in the story when it was unclear who had done what. I appreciate that because it gives me the feeling that I’m getting the information I need to figure out the mystery. However, that wasn’t quite the case with this book. Not unlike Agatha Christie, there was a whole lot of red herring and very little that would allow the reader to figure out the mystery.

I really wanted to like this mystery, but I don’t think I will read anymore books in this series. My affection for crocheting isn’t enough to overcome my dislike for so many of the characters. However, the good thing this book this did was it compelled me to start a new crochet project. If I like how it turns out, I’ll share it here.

Until then, I wish you better reads than I’ve been reading. A book that you think is going to be good and doesn’t deliver, well, that feels like a broken promise.

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Books, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

 

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It Takes Two To Make a Thing Go Write…

…At least it does in both of these novels

A couple years ago I read a book written by two authors. I thought having a male/female writing team would be a good combination, giving more realistic reactions for both genders. Instead, the book was awful. No, I take that back, it was worse than awful. It was abysmal. In fact, I dislike this book so much I refuse to even mention the title or author names in case someone can actually think of some kind of defense for that craptastic book.

That experience made me seriously skeptical of writing teams. I realize that this was not particularly fair, but I did have a couple good reasons for my thinking. First, that book (that shall not be named) was incredibly bad. Second, writing styles can be like fingerprints, unique to the individual, therefore, combining writing styles can be challenging. Third, logistically, it is challenging to combine information without a bunch of mistakes—brings up bad memories of group projects in grad school. Fourth, people tend to like to be stars more than team players, no matter what bunk they say might say during job interviews.

And yet, despite these deeply held beliefs that team-writing is a challenge few conquer, I took a chance on not one, but two books written by male/female writing teams. Yes, I contradict myself.

The interesting premises of these books persuaded me to put doubts aside and take another chance on writing teams and it is a good thing I did. Both books were excellent. Widely different in premise, setting, and style, but both were solidly good reads that left me wanting more.

The Archangel Project

C.S. Graham

Back when The Davinci Code by Dan Brown came out, it seemed like everyone was reading his stuff and I followed suit. But, while Brown had a great knack for suspense, the female characters in his book were such stupid nymphos it was laughable. I’d be reading along thinking to myself, “I don’t know any woman who would think that” or “that doesn’t seem realistic.”

A fiction writer knows right off that the readers are fully aware that the story before them isn’t true. Therefore the writer has to create a mood in the novel with enough realism so that readers can suspend disbelief and just allow themselves to be swept along with the story. When I’m thinking, “no woman would do that” I’m not being swept along. Not only am I not suspending my disbelief and letting the story whisk me away, I’m also kind of pissed off.

One day, while checking out the new mystery section at my favorite Barnes and Noble, I found a book by C.S. Harris, a mystery series set in Regency era England. In reading about the author, I discovered that she (real name Candice Proctor) also wrote another series with her husband, Steven Harris, under the pseudonym C.S. Graham. This series, set in present-day New Orleans, also sounded fascinating.

Even though I didn’t know a thing about remote viewing, I wanted to take a chance on the October “Tobie” Guinness/Jax Alexander series. I just had a strong gut instinct that a woman who wrote her own series of mysteries would be able to exert enough influence on her husband to write a female character who was believable. Turns out, my gut was actually right.

October “Tobie” Guinness is attempting to restart her life in New Orleans after she was discharged from the Navy. A connection through the VA hospital leads to her research and development as a “remote viewer” with Tulane professor Henry Youngblood. Using Tobie’s cognitive abilities Professor Youngblood unwittingly uncovers a domestic terror plot with international implications—information that people are willing to kill to keep secret. As the one who remotely viewed this explosive information, Tobie’s life expectancy is suddenly nil. Her only chance of survival is black-sheep CIA agent Jax Alexander, a guy the current director of the CIA is actively working to destroy, and unraveling the mystery of the information she uncovered.

This book takes place over the course of about three days, three very breathless days of Tobie running for her life. The Archangel Project moves between Tobie, Jax, and the bad guys who are relentlessly chasing them through steamy, post-Katrina New Orleans. The descriptions of the crippled, but recovering, city were so vivid that I swear I could almost smell salt water and feel the sticky air. Better yet, despite being together for a solid two days of adrenaline-charged near-death, Tobie and Jax managed to avoid sliding into one of the ridiculous sexual encounters that so often plague other books like this. I made the mistake of starting to read this book at night, it is damn hard to put down. Can’t wait to get my hands on the second book in the series, The Deadlight Connection*.

Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel

Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris

Prior to reading this book, I didn’t know much of anything about steampunk. I knew about gamers, and Goths, and gloom cookies, but not steampunk. Turns out, steampunk is sort of like a lovechild between Victorian era steam-powered technology and science fiction fueled alternate history. The culture, manners, and social mores of the late 19th century gets creatively mashed together with steam-powered innovation, science fiction, and a liberal sprinkling of whimsy in this series debut Phoenix Rising.

Miss Eliza Braun, a proud daughter of New Zealand, is an agent for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. She is fearless, progressive, has a deep affection for dynamite and firearms, and is currently being punished. Instead of working in the field chasing down threats to the Crown, she’s stuck in a damp basement learning from archivist (do not call him a librarian) Wellington Books, a man she recently rescued. Eliza is bored to tears cataloging evidence other agents bring back from field assignments, but then chance offers her a rare opportunity to investigate the unsolved case that destroyed her former partner. With Wellington Books, reluctantly, at her side, Eliza investigates a conspiracy that will take them from London dives to opulent country estates, requiring both of their skill sets to keep them alive.

Ballantine and Morris have created an appealing steampunk Odd Couple in Eliza and Wellington and I’m really annoyed that I discovered this series so early on. Ideally, I like to stumble across established series so I don’t have to impatiently wait for the next book in the series to come out. But the premise and characters in this series were so fun I didn’t want to wait. I’m glad I didn’t, even though now I’m stuck waiting for the next installation to hit bookshelves.

Part of what I liked so much about this book is that it did just about everything right. The historical touches of gritty Victorian England were vivid, the action sequences were well-paced and made sense, and the banter between Eliza and Wellington was funny. This bit, where Eliza comes dragging into the office late and dead tired after a long night of running down a lead in the case, was one of my favorite examples of the desert-dry humor used in Phoenix Rising’s dialogue.

“You’re late,” he reminded her, punching into the engine his tea sequence.

Eliza’s hand dropped to her lap as she let her head fall back. “Yes, Books, I know. I’m such a bad, bad agent. I should be put across your knee and spanked.”

“Your fantasies are not my concern,” he observed dryly.

In contrast to The Archangel Project, there is a lot more titillation and sexual tension in Phoenix Rising. The events in Phoenix Rising take place over the course of a couple weeks and the action ebbs and flows so I don’t mind the addition of sexual tension and a possible eventual relationship between Eliza and Wellington–to me, that makes sense. What doesn’t make sense to me is when the main characters are concussed, dealing with gunshot wounds, and still somehow feel like getting their freak on, ala Dan Brown.

Even though I’m reviewing these two books together, they are very different. For those of you who like a good historical mystery with a sci-fi twist, Ballentine and Morris’s Phoenix Rising might just be the ticket for a nice, late summer read. And, for those who are into government conspiracies, CIA operatives, and racing the clock to save the world in a present-day setting, you might want to check out The Archangel Project. Both books are good reads that lead off what promises to be two very good series.

*I looked for The Deadlight Connection and couldn’t find it. Turns out, somewhere between putting the first chapter of book two at the back of The Archangel Project and it actually coming out in print, there was a title change. So, book two in the Tobie Guinness/Jax Alexander series is The Solomon Effect and not The Deadlight Connection.

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2011 in Books, Lifestyle, Series

 

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Ode to a Book: The Bibliophile Defends the Printed Page, Sort Of

The world is changing. In the last hundred years we’ve moved from the industrial age to the technological age. And now our technology upgrades so rapidly gadgets are obsolete almost as soon as they hit the market–a smaller, faster, cheaper version out as soon as you get the original. It leaves me wondering if there are any remaining constants, any traditions that transcend generations and gadgets.

Mostly, I don’t mind the techno-encroachment and the convenience it brings. But there is one place where the rapid demise of tradition makes me wince–the bookstore.

E-readers are exploding onto the market. These sleek tablet computers let you travel with an entire library, but take up no more space than a single book. They allow you to purchase new reading material anywhere you can find a wifi connection. E-readers and digital books are the wave of the future and I understand their  practicality and appeal, but I’m reluctant to give up the joy of cracking the binding and smelling the paper of a traditional printed book.

More than a feeling.

I grew up loving books, largely because I’m a night person. Like a lot of little kids, I didn’t want to go to bed. I was absolutely certain fascinating, exciting things happened as soon as I closed my eyes. So, I tried to push back my bedtime with bedtime stories. Maybe you did that too, begging your mom or dad for another book before going to sleep, one more story while they held you close and read words you could recite by heart, and all the while you’re rubbing your eyes and fighting off sleep.

Now that I have a niece, I’m rediscovering that same cozy, bedtime-story feeling. Baby Girl, now a toddler, loves her books. Once, I carried her too close to the bookshelf and she tried to launch all 21 pounds of herself at the shelf like a flying squirrel. When she wants a book, she’s gotta have her book–now. Her current favorite is Heads, written and illustrated by Matthew Van Fleet. It’s a book for babies and toddlers, complete with thick, easy to turn pages, different textures for her to touch, and tabs that she can push or pull to see the images on the page move.

Since Baby Girl started walking she doesn’t like sitting still or being held, there’s just too much for her to see and do. But sometimes, for book time, she puts that aside to sit on a lap, be cuddled, and turn pages. And in that moment I get to share something with that 21st century digital kid that I did when I was her age.

When I was little my favorite picture book was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day written by Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz. I loved that book and I still do. There’s something strangely comforting in knowing that bad days can happen to anyone, even in Australia. In college, I wrote a column in the school paper about my distress over losing my copy of Alexander. Not long after reading that, a friend found me a replacement copy at a garage sale. This book is slightly battered and dog-eared with a bluish splotch on the cover that could either be fossilized gum or paint, I’m not sure. And yet, I like it even better for knowing it was read, and that sticky, little fingers turned the pages while someone read the familiar words aloud.

Bibliophile unplugged.

Packing for a trip requires at least three different power cords and chargers nowadays. I can’t tell you how tired I get of making sure to plug in, well, everything. It’s almost nice to have at least one thing that I know will work no matter how long ago I put it down and that makes a printed paperback more relaxing for me. And, as an ever-so-slightly clutzy person, I like knowing that if a book slides off my bed or gets bumped off a table or falls in the bathtub (that happened with my copy of The Great Brain), I can still read it.

Tradition.

And, it isn’t just the joy of the books themselves, it’s also the traditions I have with them. Browsing used bookstores is a habit that ranks just slightly below a compulsion for me. Armed with a list of the authors and books I’m looking for, I hunt the aisles. It’s like being in a Humane Society for books, all of them sitting there just waiting for a good home. While I know it’s easier to get a digital versions of some of the books I’m looking for, there isn’t that same thrill of the hunt involved with pointing, clicking, and downloading.

Viva la resistance!

My nostalgic love of traditional books has also taken on a slight air of resistance. I don’t like the idea of buying something but not really owning it. Can you resell your e-book after you read it? Share it with a friend? See, I can’t help think that e-books are being promoted by publishers who want to take a chunk out of the used-book market by creating single-use books. Sure an e-book is cheaper than a regular book, but since it can’t be resold everyone who wants to read it has to buy it. You can’t simply finish a book, tell someone you liked it, and then hand your book to the person. With ebooks, you either have to surrender your e-reader to the person for as long as it takes them to read the book, or, and more likely, that person has to buy a copy of the book you’re recommending. The second option is probably what publishers are aiming for, and it functions more like a book lease rather than an outright purchase.

Ode to a disappearing dream.

As a writer I’ve dreamed of having a book-signing. Now, I have to wonder if that’s going to be a dream lost to digital books. How would you even have a book-signing for an e-book? Writing is something of an undervalued skill. Since it is something nearly everyone can do it doesn’t garner a lot of respect. The idea of eventually having people gather to hear me read from my book and then sign copies of it for them helps keep me going. That I might have missed a window that was open for oh, the last few thousand years, is irksome.

I know that no matter what the format, print or digital, stories will still be told. And the story should be the important thing, not the medium. But books and I have spent a lot of good times together over the years and, judging from the state of my over-stuffed bookshelves, we’ll be spending a lot of time together for a while to come.

Who knows, the printed page, like vinyl records and horn-rimmed glasses, could become the new retro. I think I’ll crack a binding or two and try to start a trend. Lower the needle on my turntable on your way out.

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2011 in Books, Lifestyle, Series

 

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The Bibliophile Gets Her Gift On

It’s upon us once again, the holiday season. I feel like a bad person for the sense of dread that hits me after Thanksgiving, but sometimes the Christmas season feels a little more like a speed drill perpetrated by your least favorite gym teacher who stands on the sidelines eating a cookie while you do wind-sprints, than a season of peace and joy. Just like those wind-sprints, when time is up and the holidays are over I mostly feel exhausted rather than healthy and joyful. So, in an effort to infuse the holiday with some good ju-ju and positive vibrations, your very own Bibliophile will offer up a few book-related gift ideas in the hopes that your holidays will be a little easier.

  • Ode to the gift card. It isn’t the most creative gift out there, but gift cards have the ability to make your life much, much easier. Don’t know which book in the series your favorite booklover has read? Not sure that gloom-cookie teenager is as into the Twilight series as you are? Don’t want to make the mistake of getting your nephew a picture book when you think he might have started reading chapter books? Well, a gift card will take the guesswork out of shopping and allow the people on your list to get exactly what they want. Most major booksellers offer gift cards that can be used in stores or online. The online option is especially handy if the reader on your list has just gotten an eReader like a Kindle or a Nook.
  • eReaders, the wave of the future. I’m not going to be an early adopter for this technology (I have too many gadgets I forget to charge so I’ll stay battery free on books for a bit longer), but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it. Especially for travel, I love the idea of bringing an entire library with me without taking up extra room in my luggage, or being able to get new reading material instantly. In particular, one of my friends raves about how handy her Kindle is for reading magazines. At the moment, Kindle is still the eReader that has the best user rating, but the market is likely to continue to get more competitive.
  • Don’t forget accessories. Bookstores are full of all sorts of book accessories, even more so now with all the eReaders out there. Does your favorite reader like to read at night? Maybe a book light would be a good idea. Does she like to read in bed? She might like a lap desk. Is he always at the bookstore? Give that guy reusable shoppingbag from his favorite bookstore. Grandma can’t find her Nook at the bottom of her purse? A bright pink Nook cover would protect it and help it to stand out from the other stuff in her purse.
  • Gifts that keep on giving. Kind of the way gift cards allow the people on your list to get the gifts they want when they want them, a magazine or book club subscription will give them something to look forward to all year long.

I hope that these gift ideas have given you some inspiration and I welcome any ideas you book fiends might have for how to make shopping easier so Christmas will be full of cheer rather than antidepressants.

Coming soon—a Bibliophile list of mystery writers worth using your gift cards on.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2010 in Books, Lifestyle, Series

 

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Reason to Believe: The Vikings Beat the Redskins Instead of Themselves

Just to keep things interesting and keep everyone guessing, on Sunday the Minnesota Vikings beat the Washington Redskins 17 to 13 at FedEx Field. In what’s becoming the theme of the 2010 season, expect the unexpected from this team. The Vikings have lost games they were expected to win and now they’ve won a game they were expected to lose. And that’s a big, hairy deal.

Let’s forget for a moment that just about every analyst out there agrees that the Redskins are a “mediocre at best” team and appreciate what a rare and wonderful thing it is to see the Vikings to truly play as a team this season. It wasn’t pretty or perfect, but in a wonderfully unspectacular fashion the Vikings learned from and limited their mistakes, capitalized on the Redskins’ mistakes (How great was E.J. Henderson’s interception off a tipped Donovan McNabb pass?), and won. I don’t care how much analysts might downplay this Viking victory, a win is a win. You don’t get extra points for style.

It was reported last week that interim head coach Leslie Frazier, in order to set the tone for the rest of the season played some mood music during practice. So, let’s enjoy Coach Frazier’s musical selection and a look at why things are looking up. You know, besides the fact that the Vikings won.

Last week, with the firing of Brad Childress as the Vikings head coach and naming Leslie Frazier as the interim head coach, I thought it would be wise to cultivate low expectations for Sunday’s game in Washington. After all, the Vikings hadn’t won on the road in more than a year, they would be playing outside, and they had a new coach.

Despite all the reasons why Sunday’s game could have been yet another disappointing loss in a season full of disappointing losses, the Vikings won. And, their win was as much about the things they weren’t doing as it was about the things they were doing. Unlike recent Vikings’ performances, during Sunday’s game the Vikings didn’t sabotage their success with the things that have plagued them all season.

  • Turnovers. The most notable difference between Sunday’s game and other games this season was that the Vikings’ offense did not turn the ball over—no fumbles, no interceptions, nada. It was nice to see the Vikings make the Redskins work to get the ball back. While the coverage teams have performed poorly, it still seems like a better option than simply handing possession over with turnovers and interceptions. And that goes back to the ball security that Frazier emphasized to players leading up to Sunday’s game. I read that Frazier told players to protect the ball as if it was an injured child. That’s the kind of image that will stick with a person, and maybe that’s why instead of forcing throws, Brett Favre was willing to take a couple sacks.
  • Penalties. On Sunday the Vikings were flagged three times for penalties for 15 yards while the Redskins were flagged six times for 35 yards. Honestly, the Vikings having only three penalties almost surprises me more than the Vikings not turning the ball over in Sunday’s game. Sloppy play has resulted in costly penalties all season, putting the Vikings at a yardage disadvantage and negating good plays. It was a nice change to see that the brilliant play on a punt return that was negated by a penalty was against the Redskins and not the Vikings.
  • Playing to strengths. Prior to Sunday’s game I read that Frazier was going to listen to Favre’s advice. Novel idea that, listening to the guy who has played for two decades and is older than some of the coaching staff. And, during the week Favre said that one of the problems is that offensive strategy gets too complicated. His point was that if a team executes plays well, then it doesn’t matter if a defense knows it’s coming or not, that defense still has to stop it. Well, Sunday’s game was a good example of exactly that. The offensive play-calling wasn’t electric, but it played to Favre’s strength with plenty of bootleg plays called that had him rolling out of the pocket. And, even though after the first Minnesota possession of the game the Redskins had to know the Vikings were going to run the ball a whole lot, they still weren’t able to prevent the Vikings from rushing for 137 yards.
  • Resilience. There were mistakes and misfortunes during Sunday’s game. The Redskins marched 83 yards for a touchdown on their first possession and they converted on third downs. Ray Edwards and Adrian Peterson both came out of the game with ankle injuries. But despite the rocky defensive start and the injuries, the Vikings found a way to regroup and battle through to win. After Washington’s first drive the Vikings allowed only three more third down conversions the entire game and Toby Gerhart and Brian Robison both stepped up with solid performances when Peterson and Edwards were injured. With as much as this team as gone through this season, it wouldn’t be surprising if they had used up all their resilience, but it looks like they found a previously untapped supply.

Clearly, the Vikings will have to work very hard and have some very good luck if they are going to have even the hope of winning a Wild Card for the playoffs. But, strange stuff happens every week in the NFL so until the Vikings are absolutely eliminated from playoff contention, I’m going to hold onto hope that a talented team with a new coach and the resolve not to quit has a shot.

*This entry is also posted at http://www.dailynorseman.com/ under the name Skol Girl. She’s my alter ego and she is really, really into the Minnesota Vikings.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2010 in Brett Favre, Football, Lifestyle

 

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Optimism Going, Going, Gone

I keep looking for the silver lining in the 2010 Minnesota Vikings season, but that’s a tough sell. After nine games the Vikings have a 3-6 record meaning they’ve lost two thirds of the games they have played this season.

To say that my optimism is wearing thin would be an understatement.

If this were a rebuilding year that would be one thing, but this is a veteran team with so many Pro Bowl players you can’t swing a cat without hitting one. Experienced players, who are some of the best in the NFL at their respective positions, playing this poorly is hard to fathom. No matter how we break down Sunday’s loss to the Bears in Chicago it simply amounts to more of the same stuff that’s plagued the Vikings all season.

Despite a hopeful, if not electric, start, Sunday’s game quickly devolved. Considering the dramatic way the Vikings won against the Arizona Cardinals, suddenly playing the way they did last season, I held onto hope as long as I could on Sunday. Somewhere in the fourth quarter I quit taking notes on the game and started hopping around the room because if the Vikings were going to wage a comeback, they needed to do it right then. Well, on Sunday there was no comeback.

Regardless of Chicago’s record, they aren’t really that good*. However, they didn’t have to be that good, they just needed to be a little better than the Vikings and the Vikings have been making that far too easy for opposing teams. The secret to Chicago’s success on Sunday isn’t surprising or complicated, they converted on third downs, they had good returns from kick-offs and punts, they had receivers, and they scored in the red zone. Oh, and because it was their home field, they knew what cleats to wear to keep from slipping all over the field like Larry, Curly, or Moe at an ice rink.

I could look at the rest of the stuff that went wrong on Sunday, but I just don’t have the energy or the discipline for that kind of systematic misery. If the Vikings are going to make any kind of attempt to salvage this season, they have to win every remaining game, meaning the best they can do for the season is a 10-6 record. If they were playing every upcoming game in the Metrodome, that might be possible, but they won’t. They would have to win on the road to end the season at 10-6 and they haven’t managed to win on the road since November 2009.

The way this season is going, it seems a safe bet that Brad Childress won’t be the Vikings’ coach next season. A new coach generally means that at least a third of the current roster will be gone next season, but it could be more considering all the veterans the Vikings have. And, as if that wouldn’t bring enough uncertainty to next season, there is also the storm brewing between the NFL and the Players Association because of the collective bargaining agreement. Whatever happens next season, the Vikings will look very different.

But before any of that happens there are still seven more games this season. If this Vikings team is going to continue to try to turn things around, they don’t have much time. If they are just going to phone it in and wait for next season, it’s a mediocre eternity.

If the Vikings continue to play the way they are playing now and winning only at home, then they would win four more games and end the season 7-9. But, if they somehow manage to win all of the next seven games (not a strong possibility, I know), the Vikings might be in the running for a Wild Card spot in the play-offs. I don’t like seasons when the Vikings have to rely on getting a Wild Card, too many other things have to go their way for that to happen. Luck has been hard for the Vikings to come by and I wouldn’t expect luck to suddenly make a convenient appearance at this late hour. And, honestly, the Vikings need to start making their own luck. With all of their talent, you’d think they would have an advantage in that department.

No amount of uninspired play calling should excuse the lackluster play, the missed tackles, the failed third-down conversions, or the lack of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Even if Vikings players have changed their mindset from trying to win games to clock watching until the end of the season, the way they finish 2010 will tell teams considering signing Vikings players a lot about what they can expect from these players. Even if they aren’t interested in helping this team win anymore, players can’t honestly think that sub-par play will help them in free-agency.

Between self-interest and pride, one would hope that the Vikings could find a way to pull together and play the way they are capable of playing. If they can’t, then the next seven games will be pointless.

*I still maintain that the Lions should have won when they played the Bears on Week 1 of the season. The officials in that game robbed Calvin Johnson of his game-winning touchdown and I refuse to acknowledge it as a Chicago victory.

This piece is also posted at http://www.dailynorseman.com/ under my alter ego Skol Girl.

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2010 in Football, Lifestyle

 

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Packers Crush

Warning:  The following post has little nothing to do with analyzing Sunday’s game between the Vikings and Packers–it is solely for fun. This is more about the lifestyle and ingrained tradition of being a Vikings fan. If you want brilliant football insights with razor-sharp wit, Eric, Ted, and Chris at the Daily Norseman (http://www.dailynorseman.com/) have got you covered.

There are some things you just don’t do. Things that you know will only lead to trouble, complicating your life and bringing you shame. Things like getting caught singing a Justin Bieber song, or snapping your undies out of your butt in public, or asking a woman when her due-date is only to find out she’s fat and not pregnant. These things aren’t exactly moral offenses, but they are so embarrassing they feel like moral offenses.

Well, I have a new one to add to the list. Getting a crush on a member of the Green Bay Packers when you are a Minnesota Vikings fan.

Yes, for a lifelong fan of the Minnesota Vikings, this is akin to farting loudly during a moment of silence at a memorial service. In fact, this crush brings the very purpleness of my blood into question. But, I can’t help myself.

Aaron Rodgers does that to me.

Now, you might be wondering any number of things, but, considering my nagging propensity for adding music to my articles, you might be wondering, “Is she going to use ‘Bad Romance’ by Lady Gaga or ‘Tainted Love’ by Soft Cell?” Well, I’m not going with either of those songs. Nope, today we’re rocking out with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.


I place the blame for this ridiculous crush I have on Aaron Rodgers squarely at Brett Favre’s door. With all the other charges and allegations about him being flung around lately, I don’t think he’ll notice another one.

You see, after Brett Favre ruined so many Sunday’s for me when he played for the Packers, I was unprepared for what would happen when he actually left Green Bay. When he finally left the Packers there was a temporary vacuum where my malice had been and that, I believe, is how this started. With Favre gone from Green Bay, my ingrained dislike for the team was without focus. And, like a ninja, Aaron Rodgers’ cornflower blue eyes, impish grin, and emo-rocker beard were past my defenses.

Don’t judge me. So I find an athletic guy with a pretty face attractive—so what? Like all the guys out there watching women’s sand volleyball during the Olympics watch because they like the sport.

I think it’s fair to say that I’m hardly the only woman out there to have noticed that Rodgers is good-looking. Off-hand, I can think of a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model who must have agreed with me, his ex-girlfriend Julie Henderson. Or maybe she was only looking at his multi-million dollar contract, hard to say.

However, I refuse to let my little crush on Rodgers color my judgment, I still want to see the Minnesota Vikings win. Much as I think Rodgers is dishy, he’s just one guy. It would take much, much more than that for me to not want to see the Packers lose. Honestly, it would probably take a miracle. I don’t think I’m physically capable of cheering for people wearing green and gold.

And if Jared Allen and the rest of the Vikings defense choose this week to rediscover the simple joy of sacking opposing quarterbacks, I’m perfectly okay with that—so long as they don’t damage Rodgers’ pretty face.

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2010 in Football, Lifestyle

 

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