December 24, 2003
It's Christmas Eve everyone! If you are Norwegian like me this was your Christmas, the day (actually the night) that you opened your presents. I can't figure out if opening them Christmas Eve or Christmas morning is worse for kids, since with Christmas Eve you open your presents but then you have to go to bed! But with Christmas morning you have to go to bed knowing that you have presents to open in the morning! Man, it is rough being a kid. My kids are doing both since both sets of grandparents live in close proximity to each other. We'll spend Christmas Eve with my wife's family, and Christmas day with my family. Should be fun.
And yes, we are still perpetuating the myth of Santa Claus in our family. My little girl Greta is just about bouncing off the walls in anticipation of Santa's arrival. We are also tracking Santa's progress around the world with the help of Norad Tracks Santa, one of the best ideas the US Military has ever had. They have cartoon downloads of Santa's progress that are usually good enough to fool my youngest children. He's currently in China, and on the video the narrator states, "China is a very interesting country." Thanks for that nugget of info there Chief.
So, what did we get for my kids? Well, let's see. For my two boys we got a Nintendo GameCube which should seal their fate as couch potatoes for the next week. And for Greta we got a doll house. She should love that. Of course, there were other odds and ends purchased, but those are the big gifts.
Christmas is made for children. The aniticipation is just dripping off Alex and Anders, and especially Alex. He can barely stay still. I think he knows what he is getting, I don't know how he knows, but I think he knows. I hope to capture it all on video. His face will be priceless. I'll be back with another update, so stay tuned!
December 21, 2003
Yesterday before the big Vikings game I got to go snow sledding with my two boys, Alex and Anders. As I've said before, winters around here have been pretty weak over the last few years, and playing in the snow has not been as available for my kids as it was when I was a child. Anyway, yesterday we got to go snow sledding and it was a blast. The snow was packed just enough to really get some speed, and the hill by our house is huge so the rides are long and dangerous. Half the fun is whiping out! I noticed some differences in my two boys, too. Alex is pretty easy going about it all. He'll go down the hill, then he'll just sit there for a while, and then he'll make the long journey back up the hill. It's like he is contemplating whether or not the trek up the hill is worth the 10 seconds of sledding fun or not. Eventually, he usually decides it is. Anders, on the other hand, will zoom down the hill and then climb it as fast as he can for another run. I have a feeling he'll be a sky diver or a mountain climber or something because it is obvious the thrill is worth it for him.
When I was a kid, there was a hill right across the street from my house, so my sister and I would go sliding practically every day. The hill would go right into the street so the police, in order to keep us safe, would put a snow fence at the bottom of the hill every year. And every year the kids of the neighborhood would take it down. Safety? Bah! Where is the fun in that? One year it got so bad that the police put up three snow fences and then lashed them together with wire. So, my friend and I took out my dad's wire cutters and proceeded to dismantle the fence. It took us about an hour, but we did it and I dare say we were neighborhood heroes for it. Anyway, about a half an hour after we were finished a police car slowly drove past. You could tell the policeman inside was pretty ticked off. But he kept on driving since he had no proof it was us who took down his invincible fence. Feeling like we beat the system my friend and I climbed to the top of the hill for one last run. I tore down the hill, through the destroyed fence, and launched myself into the air off of the jump next to the road. Right in mid-flight I looked over to see the unseen police car tear around the corner maknig a bee-line for my now criminal self. I tried to stop my friend from making the same mistake, but it was too late. The policeman jumped out of the car and began yelling at both of us. We denied taking down the fence, but he scoffed and said something to the effect, "You two look as guilty as a couple of jailbirds." Then he took out a rather sinister looking notepad and barked out "Date of birth!" I was quite scared, but apparently I had enough guts in me to question the purpose of asking for our birtdates, to which he yelled at me some more. He took down our names, DOBs, addresses, and told us he'd be watching us. When it was all said and done, and the policeman drove off leaving us in a puddle of our own urine, we both looked at each other and said, "That was so cool!"
Snow sledding. Nothing beats it for winter fun. I hope my kids have some stories to tell when they get older. I am full of them.
Looks like New Zealand will be the spot for the film adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I'm glad someone will be making these fine books into a movie, but I hope that they keep the Christian themes in the movie adaptation. C.S. Lewis wrote these books as an allegory to the story of Jesus Christ. Any movie that doesn't adhere to this will be a failure in my opinion and it will seriously tick some people off.
With the success of the LOTR franchise I really hope the director, writer, and producer of this movie will stay reasonably true to the original story. It worked for Peter Jackson.
As you might imagine...
As you might imagine, I am pretty pumped today. The Vikings absolutely crushed the Chiefs yesterday and gave me hope that maybe they could actually play this way throughout the playoffs. Their offense was unstoppable and their defense was adequate. That is enough for me and frankly all you can ask from the Vikings, really. I've always said if the Vikings can have an unbeatable offense and a middle of the road defense they'll be all right. Of course, I prefer the best of both, but you can't have it all. Mike Tice said after the game that they had a very loose and daring offensive game plan to quiet the critics. Tice and Co. were blasted for their game plan vs. the Bears and I'll have to admit I was one of the critics. I don't know what Tice was thinking. And it appears that the criticism actually got through to Tice because he did exactly what his critics wanted him to do: come in with a game plan that blows the other team away.
Dante Culpepper played phenomenaly yesterday. Without a doubt, his finest moment as a Viking. If he plays like that even half of the time, we'll have another Viking QB in the HOF before too long. Hopefully his performance will quiet his critics. We have the highest rated QB in the NFC, and people still want to start Gus Frerotte. Wow, that, as Patrick Reusse has said, is either pure idiocy or racism. People need to back off.
One other thing, and I've said this before: we need to play our younger linebackers more. E.J. Henderson, Nick Rogers, and Mike Nattiel have got to get in the game more. There was one play in the 4th quarter where Biekert was the only man left between Holmes (I think) and the first down. Well, you can guess what happened. The KC player ran past Biekert as if he was a 34 year old man. Whoops, that is exactly what he is. Is it any coincidence that our defense is finally stopping the outside run now that we are playing our younger linebackers? I think not.
Along with this game St. John's won the Division III national championship. That was a great game to watch. Normally I'm not a big fan of St. John's but you've got to hand it to them, they beat a great team (and you've got to cheer for the Minnesota team no matter what!). As the TMQ said last week Mount Union ran up the score too much on their opponents and the football gods had their vengeance. Ryan Keating, the St. John's QB, played about as well as a DIII QB could. I hope an NFL team gives him a shot.
Finally the TWolves crushed the Pacers last night. What a great performance by KG, too. Close to a quadruple double! If he doesn't win the MVP this year, the NBA has lost all credibility in my book.
Only one stadium article today from the StarTrib. It seems the Minneapolis City Council will be coming out with a resolution in favor of a Twins Stadium on the Rapid Park site, and in favor of a renovated Metrodome. The Rapid Park site is really the only viable spot for a Twins stadium, but a renovated Metrodome will never happen. And they can pass all the resolutions they want, but without a workable funding strategy it is all a worthless piece of paper. Let's get creative people!
December 19, 2003
Trinity is getting bigger
New shots of Trinity:
Ragdolls are a beautiful breed of cat. Don't you agree?
December 18, 2003
One more thing before I turn in. I stumbled across this editorial in the Star Tribune entitled Why should public make McCombs richer? As you might expect, it is very much against the public helping in any way McCombs finance a new stadium. I think this article is very short sighted and ignorant on exactly what kinds of plans are being put forward to build stadiums in Minnesota. First of all, no general fund money will be used to build the stadiums! The average tax payer will not have to spend a dime if he or she doesn't want to, or doesn't vote to. The plans being considered focus on building stadiums through ticket taxes, memorabilia taxes, casinos, lottery proceeds, special taxing districts, etc., all of which that can be avoided by Joe Public if he wants to avoid them. Secondly, by losing the Vikings now, the public will be forced to spend twice as much to lure the NFL back to Minnesota. Then you better believe your tax dollars will be used! And if you don't think it will happen in Minnesota, look no further than St. Louis, Baltimore, and especially Cleveland for examples of cities who have lost teams only to realize their mistake later.
If you are so willing to see the Vikings leave, why don't you forgo the taxes they currently bring into the state coffers and give the tax money back to the Vikings? You won't have that tax money when the team leaves anyway. Anti stadium people want it both ways. They want the benefit of having an NFL team in the state without making the investment that it takes to keep them. There is so much more to the Vikings than McCombs's wallet. I think we need to focus on the positive and find a solution. McCombs will always have money. Get over it.
What do you prove by sticking it to McCombs by not helping to finance a new Vikings stadium? He doesn't give a rip about you or Minnesota! He'll just go somewhere that will show him the money. So, in essence, the only people hurt in this are the fans. As I said above, McCombs will always have his money and a lot of it! If the Vikings leave he'll still have his money, and the fans of Minnesota will be left with nothing.
The Return of the King
What can I say extra about this movie that hasn't been said before? It was spectacular, it was epic, it was magnificent. There are a couple of things I liked the most, though. First and foremost, Sean Astin's portrayal of Samwise stole the show. I don't think he's done this fine of a job since Rudy. He was fantastic. And speaking of Sean Astin, who else thought the commander of the Orc armies looked like Sloth from the Goonies? Here is a picture of Sloth:
I wish I had a picture of the commander. If you have seen the movie, you know what I mean.
Secondly, I loved the battle scenes. What an amazing job Peter Jackson and his team have done. I read an interesting article about the battle scenes which said that they programmed the computer animations of soldiers so well and true to life that when they first filmed the scenes all the soldiers would run away from the battle rather than fight. They had to reporgram them and take away the "flight" option so they would be forced to fight.
Finally, I liked how they filmed the scene with Shelob. I hate spiders. Hate them with a passion. If I'm in a room and I see a spider, I leave the room and hope that the spider is gone when I come back. So, during the scene with Shelob I was squirming like a madman. I could barely take it. So, my hats off to Jackson again for making it so believable . I haven't been that frightened since Luke was battling the Rancor in Return of the Jedi (I was 11!).
If only real life had such a distinction between good and evil. A coworker of mine had an interesting observation about this saying that you never really see good at its most powerful in the LOTR, only evil. Even Frodo gives in to evil at the end. Throughout the movies evil is so bent on man's destruction that you rarely see them hold back. They are constantly throwing everything at the armies of men with little regard for their own lives. Why is evil so powerful and good shown as being so much weaker? Another example is Gandalf. Why does a wizard who can defeat a Balrog in the first (and second) movie use only sword and a staff and little to no magic in ROTK? Come on Gandalf, kick some butt! We see snippets of Gandalf's magical power (when he drove the Nazgul away assisting Faromir) but never much more. Throughout the movies men are forced to rely on themselves. This is with the knowledge that there is a much greater power out there that only helps them when things are at their most dire. Very strange. We have Sauron. We have a powerful personification of evil. But where is the counterpart? Where is the personification of good? Is it Gandalf? Because if it is Tolkein wrote him as quite a bit weaker than the forces of evil.
I don't really know where I am going with this, but according to my co-worker this is actually a common plot construct in the Christian tradition. I'm not sure Tolkien was trying to make any statement. I think he was just trying to write a novel that would keep us turning the pages. Where would the fun be if the ring could be destroyed easily?
Anyway, I'll be seeing the ROTK again. It was 3 hours of movie-going heaven.