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A Decade Later, a Kind of Justice

Sunday night I sat in rapt silence watching President Barack Obama tell the nation that Osama bin Laden was dead, killed in a U.S. ground forces operation. Even now, a day later, I’m still stunned and unsure how I feel. It’s still hard to believe that the man, whose terroristic actions shaped a decade, is really dead.

I should be writing about football and the Minnesota Vikings’ draft choices, but this strange turn of events is all I can think about. So, I’m doing what I do, writing to try to purge all this from my head.

Nearly ten years ago I first learned the name of the name of Osama bin Laden. September 10, 2001 I had flown home to Minnesota from school in California, a short vacation between the summer session and the start of the fall quarter. My parents met me at the gate, we collected my bags, and left the airport bound for dinner at one of my favorite restaurants. The next morning I slept in, enjoying that decadent feeling of being on vacation and having nothing more pressing to do that day than to get a haircut. But the phone rang and my sister left a vague and concerned message on the answering machine–she wanted to know if I’d gotten home alright and if we were watching the news. That was the first word we had that something was wrong.

We turned on the television and were suddenly confronted with images so fantastically horrible that, even though I knew I was watching the news, I hoped it was some kind of elaborate hoax. Airplanes crashing into buildings, buildings bleeding black smoke into the sky before crumbling into the streets. People, so many people, killed. I don’t know if my naivete was the result of youth, but I struggled to understand that such an massive act of arbitrary violence was even possible.

It didn’t take long to learn who was claiming responsibility for this heinous act. A man named Osama bin Laden, head of an organization called al-Qaida, took ownership of the plot. With calm brown eyes this member of the Saudi royal family looked into a camera and taunted America’s grief while first responders rushed to Ground Zero to pull bodies from wreckage.

Those shattering acts of terrorism ushered in a new age in America, an age of fear, apprehension, and war. Young men and women joined the American military and marched off to war in Afghanistan and then Iraq. A new reality emerged in the airports, metal detectors, pat-downs, bag searches–our shoes became a potential hazard, finger-nail clippers were now considered weapons, only ticketed passengers could approach the gates.

Scared people eyed everyone with an even remotely unfamiliar accent as a possible terrorist. I remember being at a mall when the guy behind the register looked up with wild eyes and said, “I feel like Osama bin Laden just showed up with his whole family.” I looked where he was gesturing, and saw a family of Sikh from India. All it took was a tan and a beard to make people worry in post September 11 America.

And all the while, like the Phantom of the Opera and his notes, bin Laden continued to release taunting videos and plotting more violence.

It began to seem like bin Laden had a limitless amount of money to supply his terrorist training camps and his hiding. Not only did he have money, but there also seemed to be an equally limitless supply of disenfranchised young men willing to kill themselves in his acts of terror. Whether due to an allegiance to al-Qaida or a hatred for America, no one seemed inclined to turn him in despite the $25 million reward.

But now, thanks to an operation by the Navy SEALS, he’s dead and Osama bin Laden can’t hurt anyone else.

I wish I could feel that sense of rejoicing that some Americans have expressed at news of bin Laden’s death. While I feel a slight sense of relief knowing bin Laden’s days of planning attacks are definitely over, so much suffering was set in motion by his actions and it cannot be undone. There are so many lost lives that can’t be restored, so many broken lives that can’t be put back together.

Osama bin Laden’s death dredges up so many things I  felt after September 11, 2001–fear, disbelief, defiance, loss. That event started the wars that have been killing and maiming people my age and younger for a decade. I wish the death of this one man could undo all of that misery, but it won’t. It won’t even end this interminable war on terror. The best this death can do is let Americans feel justice has been done and receive closure.

That may be the best we can hope for and yet, justice and closure shouldn’t be minimized either. So many times there is no justice in life, no closure.

America is a different place in 2011 than it was in 2001. Hopefully, with the death of bin Laden, 2011 America has recovered a little of what we lost nearly ten years ago.

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Posted by on May 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Lockout Could Jeopardize the Cash Players and Owners Are Fighting Over

All you clever and jaded sports fans out there will probably laugh at this, but I really held onto the hope that the two extensions the NFLPA and the owners agreed to meant we wouldn’t see this CBA debacle make it into the courts where it has the potential to be a long, drawn-out process that will ass up the season. Nope, I optimistically thought that the extensions actually meant both sides wanted to avoid a lockout and work stoppage. That optimism seemed reasonable, after all, there are billions of dollars at stake that neither party will get if there is no NFL season in 2011.

But, just like my prediction that Adam Lambert would win American Idol, I was wrong.

Despite all the reasons why they shouldn’t mess with a good thing, the players and owners are going to end up fighting things out in court. I have come to realize a couple things about court battles.

  1. Outcomes are not guaranteed.
  2. The lawyers are the real winners.

Essentially, the players and their union could slug it out in the legal system against the NFL owners only to get surprised by the outcome and receive less than they might have gotten if they had continued arbitration and reached a compromise.

For me, the real kicker in all of this is that they are fighting over $9 billion in revenues-money from the fans. NFL football fans are kind of in the position of the wealthy, invalid aunt in a murder mystery. She hears her relatives fighting over the inheritance she will be leaving when she dies as if her decision to leave her money to them is a foregone conclusion.

But it isn’t.

If the responses, conversation, and debate regarding this issue are any indication, fans are getting pissed off. You don’t have to be a business school graduate, or a captain of industry to recognize the danger in pissing off your customers. Fans, feeling angry and alienated by all the fighting between the players and owners, could decide to take their business elsewhere. For as wonderful as watching professional football is, the NFL aren’t the only folks out there peddling football. College, arena, and even Canadian football could help fill the void that a lockout and shortened season could bring. It wouldn’t be the same, but fans do have options and both players and owners should remember that.

Back in college I suffered through a macroeconomics class. I don’t know if it was the material or the awful professor, but it seemed pointless. Despite the professor’s attempts to prove otherwise, economics isn’t a pure science. In pure sciences you can isolate factors in a controlled environment to discern what is going on, why it is happening, and you can duplicate the results. But economics can’t be studied in a controlled environment with isolated factors so you never really know what is going on or why and you might not be able to duplicate the results.

I took that jaunt down my academic Memory Lane to illustrate a point. The NFL players and the owners are fighting in court for rights to $9 billion in revenues, but they don’t currently have $9 billion in revenues-they have the expectation of $9 billion in revenues. And, they expect to have $9 billion in revenues because either that is how much the NFL generated in revenues last year or because that is what their financial models project that they will earn next year. Either way, they are scrapping over rights to cash they do not have, much like the relatives of the rich, invalid aunt in my earlier analogy. But, the very fact that they are fighting alters the financial landscape.

When the NFL players and owners finally kiss and make up and decide how to share their $9 billion in projected revenues, there is no guarantee that they will actually have $9 billion in revenues to share. It goes back to economics and the niggling fact that economic models don’t exist in a lab.

In pissing off me, you, and a whole lot of other football fans around the world, the NFL players and owners are jeopardizing the very thing they’re fighting over–expected money from fans. Quite honestly, with as annoyed as fans are getting with the players and owners over the prospect of a lockout messing up the 2011 season, $9 billion in revenues seems optimistic.

We’re still dealing with a crap economic environment in the United States. Crude oil prices are once again creeping up and so are foreclosures. People are out of work and worried about the future, but despite all of that, we’ve been willing to spend our cash on the NFL to the tune of $9 billion.

So what are the chances that we’ll be inclined to continue spending at that rate after the NFL players and owners drag the game we love through the mud? Ah, now there’s the $9 billion question.

Most fans will watch the NFL again when this mess finally clears the courts. We’ll even go back to spending our hard-earned money on the NFL. However, the NFL might have more competition for fan attention and money than they had before the lockout, making fans more tightfisted.

Think I’m exaggerating? Okay, I probably am, but consider this–who wants to drop $100 on team gear and at least that much for a game ticket, parking, and concessions to watch players who you think are millionaire douche bags playing for teams owned by people who you think are billionaire douche bags? Who wants to share that with their kids? So games stop selling out and can’t be shown on television in their local markets–not always, but more often than in the past. Eventually, there isn’t as much cost-benefit for businesses to buy ad time during games. Then, it trickles down into merchandising. Since parents aren’t taking their kids to games, kids don’t buy posters of their favorite players or ask for jerseys for Christmas or wear hats with NFL team logos, they don’t save their allowance for genuine NFL footballs and helmets. This is important because children, lacking any personal expenses, represent a significant amount of expendable income being infused into the American economy. And, because fans aren’t identifying with players maybe they don’t care so much about the latest edition of Madden so, after a good long run, the game is discontinued. Football’s king status in sports entertainment wanes.

The point of that speculative supposition is that all those merchandising-related sales bring the NFL licensing revenue, which is highly lucrative because it gives them significant cash in-flow without representing an additional cost to the NFL, thus adding to revenue. Without the sales of licensed merchandise (hats, t-shirts, jerseys, jackets, sports gear, posters, games, etc.), that revenue stream from licensing fees dwindles. What was a $9 billion revenue stream at the start of this legal battle, may shrink significantly if bitter fans don’t buy NFL merchandise at the same rate they did before. So, in disillusioning fans with a prolonged legal battle that could shorten the season, the NFL is actually risking devaluing its product.

Ramifications from this lockout have the potential to negatively impact the NFL’s revenues for years to come because it erodes fan support for the sport. Who knows how long it could take fan support to recover?

Players and owners are not in the sports entertainment business to get poor, they want to make money. I don’t fault them for that at all, it isn’t like any of the rest of us are working to get poor either. This is America and we still hold the belief that if you work hard and create a great product you can be successful. And, as far as products go, the NFL has a great one–it is a product that crosses age, gender, and race boundaries to become wildly popular and highly lucrative. But when the flashing dollar signs get in the way of players and owners making a sound financial decision, to the point of potentially eroding the very thing they’re fighting over, it seems…well, pointless.

*This piece is also posted at the Daily Norseman under my alter ego, Skol Girl.

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2011 in Football

 

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The Curious Misadventures of the Unlikeliest Sports Blogger–Part 2

Or

A New Hope:  Writing for the Daily Norseman

I was chastised for leaving tales of my misadventures hanging for so long. And that was fair, it has been awhile since I started to chronicle my mishaps as a chick in the very male world of football writing. Actually, it was strange because I felt slightly shamed for not writing in a while and flattered that people wanted to know what happened next, all at the same time.

Hmmm, so where was I? Ah, yes, the Daily Norseman.

Much as I appreciated the freedom and leeway that writing about the Minnesota Vikings for vikingsmix.com in utter isolation provided me, it will probably come as no surprise that I wanted more. This is because no matter how shy and quiet the writer, writing, and posting it somewhere in public, is essentially an act of ego. Writers scribe away in the belief that someone, somewhere out there, is going to want to read what we have to say. Basically, this means that even a shy, bookish, socially awkward writer is (in a way) as much of an attention slut as a nymphomaniac reality television star with a coke habit. Kind of a disturbing thought.

But, for me, vikingsmix.com was just not enough of a fix. I wanted to know someone was reading my work, that my presence was actually noticed.

So I decided to check out the Daily Norseman, a fan site that vikingsmix.com linked to. What I did not realize at the time I started reading the Daily Norseman and decided to become a site member, is that it operates under SB Nation*. A site that had been around for a couple years, the Daily Norseman made me feel a little like I was moving from a small town to New York City. Not only did the Daily Norseman have a large community of members posting Vikings-related material, but members were also involved in an active conversation about the posted material, leaving comments and picking fights on even the most poorly written material. Clearly, if Daily Norseman members were so passionate about the Vikings and about their site that they would read stuff written by people who had only a passing acquaintance with grammar, then, I felt there was a good chance, they would read my material too.

If, by chance, you have followed me over here from the Daily Norseman, then you already know I take writing seriously. There aren’t a whole lot of things I do really well, but I like to think that writing is one of those things, so I put a lot of time and effort into it. It seems to me, that if you’re writing about how much you love your football team, then you should probably spell the names of the players on that team correctly—so I do. And, if you think that other people should want to read what you have written, then you should make it clear what the heck you’re saying, another thing I aspire to do. That’s why, even though I’m a long way off from being Ernest Hemingway, my writing tends to stand out in a public forum.

Even though I like to believe it’s that attention to detail that got me noticed on the Daily Norseman, it was probably the fact that I’m female that got me noticed at first. However, somewhere along the line it was my writing that started getting noticed too. I wish I believed so implicitly in my talent that it wouldn’t matter what anyone else said (or didn’t say) about it, but having my writing read and complimented was gratifying.

It’s pretty difficult for a writer to stay motivated with absolutely no feedback of any kind, let alone encouragement. To say that this positive interaction with the Daily Norseman community meant a lot is to seriously undervalue the term “a lot”. Arguing my points and defending my take on an issue provided a whole new zeal to my writing, not unlike sharpening a tool. If I had been particular about my fact checking before, knowing that people were actually reading my material made me religious about it because I knew that if I didn’t get the facts right I would get called out on it. And that’s good to know, it keeps writers honest.

Over a couple of weeks I wrote six fan posts on the Daily Norseman. Once again, my “big break” came courtesy of Brett Favre. Yeah, boggles the mind.

It was my fourth post, “Brett Favre Returns to Football Again, Er, Again-Again” about Ryan Longwell, Steve Hutchinson, and Jared Allen flying down to Mississippi to retrieve Favre, that attracted the attention of my fairy godfather**, Ted. And for special friends of Ted, interesting things can happen.

Thanks for reading and join me, eventually, for Part 3. Part 3 will likely involve a whole lot more on Ted and, perhaps, a few more oblique references to Star Wars.

*SB Nation is an up and coming sports blog community focusing on encouraging local coverage and conversation of teams.

**I refer to Ted as my “fairy godfather” simply because it seemed like he came into my life like the fairy godmother from Cinderella.

 

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Comfort Food for the Bibliophile

I’m staring down a perfect storm of blah this February. Not only did my football team have a lousy season, but their divisional rival is in the Super Bowl. It’s one of the snowiest winters I have ever seen, with drifts that just keep growing—so I promise myself that I won’t leave the house until May. I can’t keep that promise, but the fact that I make it at all is a sign of how fed up I’m getting with winter. Oh, and, not to be left out of the gloom storm, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. That holiday stung me badly two years ago when I was dumped a mere 12 days before Valentine’s Day and left with nothing but my broken heart and the non-refundable ticket that I had purchased so I could see the guy who had dumped me…for Valentine’s Day.

So, with all the doldrums and blah-ness going on, I have decided this is an excellent time to ignore reality and read a good book.

For me, a good mystery is like comfort food, it hits the spot and satisfies my craving. Sometimes I want to branch out and read mysteries by authors I haven’t read before, but when I want a book that won’t disappoint, I turn to books by my tried and true authors. And, I can guarantee myself books by my favorite authors because I stockpile them for just such an occasion. For authors I really like, I try to avoid being completely caught up on their series so that when I need a good mystery by a particular author I don’t have to wait a couple months for his or her next book to come out.

In honor of my comfort food theme, I’ll list books with a food selection. Seems to me that if you need some deep winter comfort, then you might as well go all out.

Tears of Pearl by Tasha Alexander. This fourth book (five in the series) in Alexander’s series of mysteries featuring Lady Emily, takes place in Constantinople during the Victorian age of the British Empire. In the three books prior to this one, Lady Emily has had to content herself to solve murders as a meddling amateur, but now, accompanied by her new husband, she’s an official agent of the British Empire. Her investigations promise to lead her into the lavish world of the Sultan’s harem and extreme danger. Who says the Victorian’s didn’t know how to have a good time? Alexander has become one of my favorites because she manages to make me feel like I learned something new and interesting about Victorian culture without it feeling like a lecture and without sacrificing good storytelling to do so. Snacking suggestion: I think this jaunt to the Orient calls for tea, Turkish delight, and baklava.

Curse of the Pogo Stick by Colin Cotterill. Dr. Siri Paiboun is once again raising some geriatric hell in Cotterill’s fifth book (seven books in the series) about Laos’ National Coroner. It’s the 1970s, disco is taking the rest of the world by storm, while in Laos the new communist government is trying to keep things under control—but they probably don’t know that their National Coroner, Siri, is conducting an exorcism on a possessed pogo stick and preparing for his wedding. It would likely only embarrass the young communist government to find out that their National Coroner is the reincarnation of a powerful Hmong shaman. What I like about this series is that, for as hokey as the idea might seem that this coroner, a man of science, becomes the reincarnation of a powerful shaman and talks to the dead to help solve their mysteries, Cotterill somehow makes it work. He writes about the country of Laos and its people with humor and compassion as they adjust to changes in their government and world. Snacking suggestion: Although not a Laotian dish, Laos is just across the river from Thailand, so I’m craving pad Thai and spring rolls—maybe some iced coffee too.

The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing by Tarquin Hall. India’s portly sleuth, Vish Puri returns in Hall’s second book (two in the series). Vish Puri (“Chubby” to his friends and family), is India’s Most Private Investigator, a man who spends most of his days vetting potential spouses for wealthy Indian families, but every so often a unique case comes along that taxes Puri and his team of peculiarly-named professionals. I like how Hall’s protagonist bemoans the erosion of traditional India and Indian values at the hands of modern society and technology, all while he uses modern society and technology to solve his cases and try to uphold traditional Indian values. And, Hall writes as if he genuinely loves India, you can feel the heavy, humid air of the monsoon, smell the saffron, and see the vivid colors of the countryside in his writing. Snacking suggestion: In honor of Chubby, I think samosas and a mango lassi are in order.

Well, you know how I’m going to ride out the winter doldrums and why I’m going to have to spend a lot of time on the treadmill and doing Pilates, samosas will sneak up on you. If you have a favorite author and food pairing to share, I’d love to hear it. One can never have too many good books. Happy hibernating!

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2011 in Books

 

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The Curious Misadventures of the Unlikeliest Sports Blogger

I don’t know about you, but I think God has a sense of humor. And I say that because, for as much as I have written about so many other things like dating and knitting and how to survive hosting parties and juicing and motivational speakers and college admissions and books, it’s in writing about football of all things where I have actually found a tiny bit of success. I kid you not, it surprises me as much as anyone that I write a whole lot about Minnesota Vikings football both here and at the Daily Norseman. There are all sorts of good reasons why this is surprising and odd, but the most obvious reason is because I’m female. There just aren’t nearly as many women as there are men writing about NFL teams. That automatically makes me a bit of an oddity.

But, that said, there are plenty of women out there who are passionate about sports—athletic women who enjoy the thrill of competition and aren’t afraid to tear up a field. Yes, I’m talking about those Spartan babes who play hockey or kick for their high school football teams or play softball or are on a curling team.

Yeah, that isn’t me.

Nope, I’m a cupcake, a crème puff, a girly-girl. I have never been a jock, and it would be a stretch to call me sporty. I like reading books, drinking tea, doing pilates, knitting, baking, getting a manicure, hearing Tim Gunn talk about fashion, and getting my hair colored. If I have to kill spiders on my own I feel pretty darn tough. If I have to empty the mousetraps I’m looking for a Congressional Medal of Honor. And yet, as absolutely incongruous as it seems, in my chest beats the heart of a rabid Minnesota Vikings football fan.

So, there’s this one odd thing about me that has somehow become a big deal—me being a fan of the Minnesota Vikings. And, I owe it, in part, to Brett Favre.

I don’t know for sure, but I might be one of the few women who has actually benefited from him in the last couple years. See, way back in the summer of 2009 Brett Favre was doing his will-I-won’t-I retirement dance and, like a lot of Vikings fans out there, I was irritated. I was so irritated that I decided to write about it. That in itself wouldn’t have done much, but, shortly after I wrote about my irritation with Mr. Favre’s inability to just make a decision, I happened upon a posting on craigslist for fans to blog about the Minnesota Vikings. Since I really love the Vikings and since there just aren’t that many listings for writers, I applied.

Writers learn to get used to rejection. A lot of rejection. I was much better prepared for rejection because rejection was familiar territory. But vikingsmix.com, the site that had requested fan bloggers, actually wanted me to write for them. So, suddenly, I was a sports blogger and I had nearly no idea what that entailed. Granted it would seem to simply involve talking about the Vikings’ season from a fan perspective, but it didn’t feel quite so straightforward at the time. That whole lack of rejection really threw me off my game.

However, as a first foray into the wild world of sports writing, vikingsmix.com wasn’t too bad because they didn’t seem to have many/any readers to complain about what I was doing. Whether I was doing a great job or a lousy one, I have no idea because I think I got a sum total of three comments on everything I posted during the 2009 season. But, sometimes the absence of criticism is as close to encouragement as you are going to get, so, for the 2009 season I slogged it out in the near solitude of the vikingsmix site.

There weren’t tons of readers (any), but I was intrigued by the links vikingsmix posted to other sites, one of which was a little spot called the Daily Norseman, an SB Nation blog site.

So I became a member of the Daily Norseman and that’s when things started to get interesting.

*Join me for my next installment, it involves proposals and nearly fainting–mostly in that order.

 

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Let’s Here it for the Fans

It’s hard to come up with an new and creative spin on how, from the craptastic ashes of the Minnesota Vikings‘ 2010 season, a majestic phoenix could rise and wing our beloved Purple back to greatness, but I’m really going to make a stab at it. At this point options are kind of limited for Vikings fans. We can either whine and moan about how the Vikings always find a way to break our hearts, or we can find a way to put disappointment behind us and look forward with some kind of hope. Actually, there’s still the option of tossing back a couple of valium and buying that one-way ticket to Costa Rica and never thinking about the Vikings, the NFL, or football again, but I’ve mostly given up that idea. Mostly.

No, like the rest of you hardcore fans, I’m not going to abandon the Vikings. Instead, I’ve tried to think about 2010 in terms of that Jerry Springer recap, you know that “moral-of-the-story” thing he would do after he got people to unleash a whole mess of crazy on his show, to explore what we’ve learned besides the fact that even sweet grandmas can throw a mean left hook given the right inducement.

The more I think about it, the more it seems that if we had to vote for a Minnesota Vikings MVP in 2010, it should be the Vikings fans. In a season rife with drama and disappointment, the Vikings fans did an almost heroic job of hanging in there with our team.

With the exception of the 1970s which was a pretty boss decade for the Vikings, Minnesota has at least one lousy season every decade. This last decade was a bit worse than usual because there were four seasons when the Vikings won less than half of their games and  two seasons when they merely broke even between wins and losses. So, for six out of the last ten years the Vikings have had a mediocre to crappy record. It helps put 2010 into perspective because 2001, 2002 and 2006 were as bad or worse than 2010. What made 2010 seem so much worse was how great 2009 had been.

That painful jaunt through the Vikings sub-par records for the last decade was just an overly elaborate set-up to my attempt to find the good in this steaming pile of disappointment. There is nothing like a brilliant, winning season, say like 2009, to attract fans. However, I don’t think you have the right to call yourself a fan, a real fan, unless you cheer for a team during a losing season. Until then, as far as I’m concerned, you’re just a fan intern.

For example, a lot of people became Vikings fans during the 1970s which, as I said earlier, was a totally boss era for the Vikings. They were the defensively dominant Purple People Eaters who made three of their four trips to the Super Bowl in that decade. As Ted Glover said in his great piece about the wonder of outdoor football, the Vikings of that era were some of the toughest mamba jambas to play the game of football. Yep, the 1970s were a great time to become a Vikings fan, but for those who remained Vikings fans during 1984, the infamous Les Steckel year, you my friends, you get props and a shiny gold star. I was only in kindergarten at the time so my memories of the 1984 season are kind of fuzzy.

And, like those fine folks who managed to hold on through the 1984 season, the people who became Vikings fans in 2008 and 2009 when our Vikings were the NFC North division champions and made it through 2010 with their purple pride somehow intact, you are now full-fledged Vikings fans. Embrace the pain and the paradox of our team.

If I had to come up with just one thing to hate it would have to be something that makes me sounds deep and wise and altruistic, and, somehow, I don’t think black jelly beans will cut it. However, if we came up with a bigger, longer, itemized list of the things I hate, bandwagon fans would be somewhere in the top 50%.

Bandwagon fans make me want to growl and grind my teeth. I don’t like them. I don’t like them with green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam I am. So if there is anything to be gained from a craptastic season like 2010, it’s that the bandwagon fans who cheered for the Vikings the previous two seasons have drifted off to give their fickle support to the Packers and the people left are the real Vikings fans who cheer for the Vikings even when their home games are played on Detroit’s Ford Field or the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium.

As 2010 dragged on and it became painfully clear that it would not be a repeat of 2009, I expected a pretty big drop-off in Viking support from the local populace here in Minnesota. But I was pleasantly surprised at how many people were still showing their horns no matter how lousy things were going for our team. For example, I remember one day when I needed to get away from all things football for a couple hours and so I went to a sanctuary of all things dainty and girly–the teashop. I was going to eat scones, drink tea with my pinkie in the air, and enjoy not thinking about football for a little while. But that isn’t what happened. Instead, I sat there, eating my scone and drinking my tea while I eavesdropped on the grandmas sitting at the table behind me who were talking about what the Vikings needed to do to turn the season around. Now, for all you manly men out there who have never been to a teashop let me explain something, conversations about football are something of a rarity in places where there are more frilly doilies and dainty teacups than you can shake a stick at.

That those little, old ladies were so involved with the Vikings’ season that they simply had to discuss the Vikings’ season over floral teacups is both cute and kind of sassy. That those ladies weren’t atypical suggests that the Minnesota Vikings have better fans than they had any reason to expect this season. Yes, even in a season where our Vikings made under-performing and drama as commonplace as black nail polish on goths, people were still wearing their Vikings shirts in the middle of the week, were still putting up purple and gold mailboxes, and were still adorning their vehicles with Vikings decals and flags.

So, for all this Purple Pride in the face of adversity and general crappiness, I think the Vikings’ fans deserve some kind of acknowledgment. I would prefer my allotment of the aforementioned acknowledgment in the form of cash or tropical vacations, but I’ll take heartfelt thanks too. After a season like 2010, the Vikings faithful deserve at least that much.

*This piece is also posted at the Daily Norseman under my alter ego Skol Girl.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2011 in Football, Series, Uncategorized

 

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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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