The Minnesota Vikings, My Pops, and Me

I wrote this last year, but I’m updating and re-posting it in light of yesterday’s huge Vikings win.  I got to experience it in person, at MOA Field, with my pops. It was great – I am still hoarse from cheering, Pops almost clapped once, and the whole day was pretty much everything I love about being a Vikings fan.

I once theorized that my relationship with the Minnesota Vikings is not unlike my relationship with men (why yes, this theory was developed in a bar!): 1) I care very strongly for them; they are basically unaware I exist. 2) I am always looking for a good tight end; they are always looking for a horny blonde.

Vikings Fan

Like that.

3) Eventually I’m going to have to stop pinning all my hopes and dreams on men who wear purple and tight pants and chase each other. 4) And finally, it’s all my father’s fault.

From age 2-6, Bonding With Pops meant watching whatever action movie was on television while falling asleep on the couch. They have fused in my memory into one long action movie I like to call Crocodile Die Hard Jones and the Hunt for the Lethal Weapons Under Siege 2. From ages 7-12, Bonding With Pops meant getting outdoorsy and going camping and fishing. Sadly, this camping tradition ended about when my dad woke up to me burning an entire deck of cards, one at a time. I wish I was kidding; that is super creepy. Ever since, Bonding With Pops has simply involved sports, and it started with the Vikings.

Together, we watched the 1998-1999 season with as much pride (and then overwhelming despair) as the rest of the state, and despite that famous miss, I was hooked. In 2000, Pops took me to the Vikings training camp to watch a scrimmage. The facts say that I was fifteen at the time, but the memories suggest I was closer to seven. I was giddy to be there, with Pops, watching Cris Carter! Robert Smith! JOHN RANDLE! And we were in the front row, somehow; probably because Pops is early for everything (I did not inherit this trait), but at the time I was pretty sure it was because my dad was magic and/or secretly important. I thought this might be the case when he perked up at some announcement and said, “I think that’s my cousin Rod doing the announcing.”

Before I could say, “You have a cousin Rod and why aren’t we using this relationship to get VIP treatment?” The announcer said, “and here comes the quarterback, Cunningham. Uh, I mean Culpepper…” To which the crowd gave a little boo and Pops said, “Yep. That’s Rod alright.” I decided not to follow this lead after all.

Despite needing to be the first person in his seat that day, Pops couldn’t stay in it for long. He got us a bag of popcorn that (again, in my memory) was as big as me, and I was not a small kid. He also ran off and bought me a Cris Carter jersey. Again, I was not a small kid, but Pops overshot it a bit — to this day, we call that my “Cris Carter dress.” I loved it immediately.

After the scrimmage, we went to the autograph line. Pops plopped me next to the gate with my camera and my notebook and disappeared while I gawked, star-struck, as all the pros walked past me and the rookies stopped to sign autographs.

If you’re wondering what kind of father would leave his teenage daughter alone in a crowd like that, so was I. I finally brought this part of the memory up to my dad last week. “Where did you go?” I asked, thinking he ran away from the crowd to smoke. He stared at me. “I was right behind you,” he said. “I had a hand on each of your shoulders! Don’t you remember? You were the same height as Denny Green!” What kind of father would leave his teenage daughter alone in that crowd? Not mine. You’d think I’d remember being held in place by a large man, but no. There is no large man in my memory other than John Randle. I may be a terrible daughter with a foggy memory of one of the best days of my young life but eh! John Randle!

John Randle

Actual picture that I actually took of the actual John Randle. I am that bad of a photographer, and I was that excited. I’m still proud of this.

That was the last time my dad and I went to a scrimmage. Until yesterday, he did not even own any Vikings apparel (I bought him a purple hat – he’s actually lucky I didn’t buy him one of the helmets with horns), whereas I’ve upped the ante with a “cousin” Adrian Peterson jersey, Robert Smith jersey, Vikings sweatshirt, two or three purple pride t-shirts, and one of those sweet blonde-with-horns hats (I will fool you yet, men). I was banned from The Boys’ apartment after Favre threw the last interception of 2010 and I let out a guttural scream that scared the cats. I went to three games at the Dome last year (all losses). And I once picked a fight in New Orleans, with a Priest, because he was wearing a Drew Brees jersey.

To be a Vikings fan is to be stubborn and proud without reason.  I’m a HUGE Vikings fan, and it’s definitely all my father’s fault.

Love you, Pops.

SKOL VIKINGS!

Rachel and Pops

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Best Things of the Past 2 Weeks and 2 Days

Here’s what I’ve been up to in roughly the last 16 days, Ma!

1. Volunteering and forcing my family to volunteer, too

Along with some alumnae of my college, I painted a fence and house in North St. Paul with Hearts and Hammers last week.  It was pretty fun — I mean, I don’t want to come paint your house, or anything — but getting to know different people and wearing my sweatpants in public without fear of judgment is always a good thing.  Until the next day when I could barely move my legs or neck.  I really, really won’t be coming to paint your house.

The next day I (somehow) went to Feed My Starving Children again, to another special session for the Horn of Africa!  This time I brought my mother and sister-in-law for some girl bonding.  There are no photos of this girl-bonding because no one looks good in hairnets.  Except, of course, my gorgeous sister-in-law.  I look even more ridiculous standing next to her, so really: no pictures.

2. Brewery Tour-ery

As alluded to in this post, I somehow managed to schedule myself for two brewery tours on Saturday: the Summit Brewery (again) and Flat Earth Brewery.  Did I have a great time? Of course I had a great time.  Was it a ridiculous decision? Of course it was a ridiculous decision!  Is there any other kind?

3. SKOL VIKINGS. SIGH VIKINGS.

Well, Lacy and I went to the game.  That much is true.  And our seats were not really that bad — we could see every blown opportunity just perfectly!

Jared Allen

We could also see Jared Allen's butt perfectly, so that's something.

Actually, that’s not nice.  They played thirty minutes of great football!  And then whatever happens to them at halftime every week happened again, and it was like the second they came out of the locker room — with a 20-0 lead — everyone in the place felt it.  It was no longer a winning football game.

I still managed to have some fun.  Being there with Lacy, for instance, was great.

Rachel and Lacy at football

This picture was taken during the first half; notice the absence of tears.

The, shall we say, tight ends are always appreciated.  Seeing my name on the back of about half the people in the stadium is a weird kind of thrill, too.  Chris Kluwe’s ricochet-style tackle was about as cute as a tackle can be.  And Jared Allen showed up, even if some of the rest of the team (or coaching staff) didn’t.

My throat hurts from 3.5 hours of screaming; my soul hurts from a lifetime of caring.  I’m not a sports analyst (or a movie critic, clearly); I just love the Vikings a little too much.  I don’t know what’s going on with them right now, but I will continue to cheer them on, lose or lose worse, season after season, because that’s just the kind of idiot I am.

Who wants to go to the next game with me???

Sports and wine: a winning combination

(see what I did there?)

In the effort of full disclosure, I should probably admit I went on two (2) brewery tours today, and might still be feeling the effects.  During the first, I kept Lacy abreast of developments via text message.  These are messages I sent her:

One (11:48 a.m.): “Beer one is a stout.”

Two (12:02 P.M.): “Two is an Oktoberfest.”

Three (12:25 P.M.): “And thE THIRD IS A PORTER WHY IS THIS IN ALL CAPS.”

As usual, I find myself funnier than anyone else ever will…even accidentally.

True Love at the Brewery

A picture from tour two: Promises were made, hearts were broken.

Anyway.  How excited are you all that Moneyball is in theaters??? Pretty excited, right?  I know I am; now maybe I’ll stop getting “exclusive invites” to this movie, which I already went to see once at a screening about two weeks ago.  I took my friend Becky, who charitably gave it an “okay.”  I gave it a “there’s a reason sports movies are usually about athletes and games and not general managers and math.”  But ONCE AGAIN IN THE EFFORT OF FULL DISCLOSURE, the reason Becky and I even went to this screening was the free wine they offered us beforehand.

First of all, how confident are you in your movie if you are feeding your preview audience wine ahead of time?  Second of all, why wine, which makes a lady* such as this pretty sleepy?  The last time I drank wine before a movie I wound up writing in my journal in the darkness halfway through due to boredom (different day, different story).  I didn’t do that this time, but I was restless.  In all honesty, the movie is getting good reviews, and it might be okay, except that it is pretending to be a sports movie.  As an avid watcher of sports movies, I can tell you this is less about sports and more about a dude who has a job.  Sometimes he’s on the phone or crunching numbers.  He also has an ex-wife.

If that still sounds appealing to you, go for it.  After all, dude is Brad Pitt.  And he does have a Jonah Hill sidekick.

So why did I title this post as if I feel positively about the combination of wine and sports?  Because THANKS TO A BOTTLE OF WINE and the proximity of the internet and an unfortunately memorized credit card number, Lacy and I will be attending our first ever Vikings game tomorrow.  We are sitting in a section that might as well be called “Hella Gone” but we absolutely could not care.  Even when I woke up the morning after said wine/internet shopping, and the first words out of Lacy’s mouth were “remember what we bought last night?” I’m more excited than ever.  You know I would have bought those tickets anyway, but thank you, Pinot Grigio, for convincing Lacy she “needs” to go with me.  SKOL WINE.

*I use this term loosely**

**see what else I did there?

Best Things of the…uh…

Oh.  Um.  Hi there, internet.  It’s been a while, huh?  Yeah, I guess we both got busy.  Me with my volunteering and nuns and friends and you with your…cats

Look, we can go back and forth all day about who forgot to write in her blog for two weeks, or we can just get to the point.  Which is, I’ve done some stuff that needs to be documented for posterity/my mother.  I can’t remember exactly when things happened and I’m too lazy to figure it out right now, so here are the highlights by category, in the order I think of them.

1. Movies

First, I got free advanced screening passes to Warrior.  Still not sure why I get these, but just in case someone out there thinks my opinion matters: I actually really enjoyed this movie.  Okay, it was a bit messy — far too many plot lines, and just seeing the preview once gives away too much, and the usual amount of sports movie cliches — but also: Tom Hardy’s ridiculous body.

Warrior Poster

Also I really enjoy sports movie cliches.

Second, I tried to get other people excited about going to a late-night showing of one of my favorite movies, Die Hard, but was thwarted by a total lack of interest.  Girls, right?  Instead, Manolo took me to fill in a gap in my Bill Murray knowledge: we watched What About Bob? at Minnehaha Falls for the final Minneapolis Music & Movies in the Park of the season. This was my favorite part:

Manolo was surprised I’d never seen this movie before, but frankly, I just watch Die Hard over and over.

2. Good Deeds

I’ve already expressed my love for Feed My Starving Children, which is a super easy volunteer activity and makes me feel helpful (the famine, however, is worsening).  Last week, Lacy and I found a completely different and even easier volunteer opportunity — handing out money at a Bingo game!  It could not have been easier or more fun, especially when one of my new friends told me, “we may be the soldiers but you ladies are really the bosses.”  He then tried to give me half his winnings, but I told him I was being paid in cookies.

You know how in TV shows like Alias, characters realize they’ve been raised specifically to be awesome at being, say, a spy? It’s like that with me.  Except that instead of spying, I was raised to be a goof for the amusement of the elderly.  Thanks, ma.  So I’ll be back to visit my new friends, and not just for the cookies.  I just cannot deny my calling anymore.

The second good deed was just today, and might explain why this post is slightly goofy: I donated blood to the Red Cross today!  I like to donate because I can, and quite a few of my friends are not able, and the need is constant (although I admit I was inspired to sign up this time after warnings of the east coast hurricane).  This was just my third visit, and my veins get slower each time — it took a solid seventeen minutes to donate 1 pint of blood today.

Seriously, the things I will do for a cookie.

3. Food and Beverage

But the cookies weren’t the least healthy thing I ate this week!  Oh no!  I went to the Minnesota State Fair last weekend.  If you can deep fry it and put it on a stick, I probably ate it.  Twice.  I’m thinking of you, Macaroni and Cheese on a Stick.  I’m always thinking of you.

State Fair

The view from the Sky Glider. Food was not allowed up there, so I got bored and took a picture.

Earlier in the weekend, I went on a tour of Summit Brewery in St. Paul.  I do enjoy a good beer — my favorite is “whatever’s dark on tap” — and one is usually enough to get me a little bit silly.  Good thing Summit gave me, er, three!

summit beer and me being giddy

Those aren’t all my…hands. Those are all my beers though.

I might try to volunteer there some day.  I’m always looking for a worthy cause!

4.  Football

I’m still thinking about it more than a little constantly; I’m even wearing a Vikings shirt in the picture above.  While it looks like a building season for the Vikings, I’m excited just to see how everything plays out.  I’m way more excited about Christian Ponder than Donavan McNabb, but maybe that’s because I’ve had my fill of, um, “veteran” quarterbacks.  Speaking of, don’t be surprised if I actually buy a number 4 jersey this year, because of this:

Kluwe will be taking number 4 along with his ice cream cone (and my heart).  Every negotiation I make in the future will include an ice cream demand.  I shall call it the Kluwe Clause.

Best Things of the Week: A Day Late Edition

I meant to write this yesterday, but a surprise visit from an old friend and an innate ability to procrastinate everything means it’s here today instead!

1. Wedding Bells

Remember when I went to a bachelorette party last week? Unsurprisingly, it meant I got to go to a wedding this week!  And because it’s my life, I got to go to it with a bunch of nuns!  Right after work on Friday, my coworkers and I dressed up and went to our friend and former coworker’s wedding.  The ceremony was lovely, the reception was a great party, and the cupcakes were delicious. Congratulations, friends!

2. Uptownin’ Around

On Saturday, I dropped in to the Pizza Luce Block Party in Uptown with my friend Manolo.

Luce Block  Party Image

 We stuck around for Communist Daughter, then realized we could hear the concert almost as well from Manolo’s porch, which is kind of a perfect way to spend an afternoon.  Things got even better in the evening when I convinced Manolo to watch the Vikings’ preseason opener.  I’m not going to say it was a good game, but I had a great time trying to teach Manolo about the football.

Vikings Vs Packers

Manolo, lesson one: Your roommate the Packers fan is wrong, and I am right.

Lesson two: Our current starting quarterback’s name is Donavan McNabb.  Not, as you guessed, “Don Juan Diablo.”

3. Irish Fest!

I went to my first ever Irish Fest in St. Paul on Sunday! I ate O’Brien Potatoes, drank a Guinness, accidentally bought a loaf of soda bread (I thought I was just buying one piece and yes, I am the kind of person who accidentally buys a loaf of bread), and got my name written in Gaelic.  It is, disappointingly, “Raicheal.” I managed not to tell too many complete strangers about my citizenship — but I let my redheaded Irish buddy, known as “Saibher” for the day, tell them for me.  I absolutely recommend bringing your own ginger wherever you go.

Patrick Renna

If you learn nothing else from me, learn that.

Football and Famine

There are really only two things on my mind this week.  The first, and I hope it’s on yours too, is famine.  I urge you to look into it yourself and decide if you can help in some way.  The link to the World Food Programme is still in the right sidebar of this page if you need a place to start, or you can sign up to pack food at a special session through Feed My Starving Children.  I went yesterday (and here’s proof that I look goofy in a hairnet) and will be going twice more in the next month.

I’m not going to spout off any more numbers or link to any more pictures today, I’m just going to share this, which I first heard at A’s Naturalization Ceremony:

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as you ever can.

attributed to John Wesley (probably incorrectly, but what you can do?)

I said I had two things on my mind this week, and you can probably guess the other from the title.  Yes, when I’m not thinking about famine, I am thinking about football.

I once theorized that my relationship with the Minnesota Vikings is not unlike my relationship with men (why yes, this theory was developed in a bar!):  1) I care very strongly for them; they are basically unaware I exist.  2) I am always looking for a good tight end; they are always looking for a horny blonde.

Vikings Fan

Like that.

3) Eventually I’m going to have to stop pinning all my hopes and dreams on men who wear purple and tight pants and chase each other.  4) And finally, it’s all my father’s fault.

From age 2-6, Bonding With Pops meant watching whatever action movie was on television while falling asleep on the couch.  They have fused in my memory into one long action movie I like to call Crocodile Die Hard Jones and the Hunt for the Lethal Weapons Under Siege 2. From ages 7-12, Bonding With Pops meant getting outdoorsy and going camping and fishing.  Sadly, this camping tradition ended about when my dad woke up to me burning an entire deck of cards, one at a time.  I wish I was kidding; that is super creepy.  Ever since, Bonding With Pops has simply involved sports, and it started with the Vikings.

Together, we watched the 1998-1999 season with as much pride (and then overwhelming despair) as the rest of the state, and despite that famous miss, I was hooked.  In 2000, Pops took me to the Vikings training camp to watch a scrimmage.  The facts say that I was fifteen at the time, but the memories suggest I was closer to seven.  I was giddy to be there, with Pops, watching Cris Carter! Robert Smith! JOHN RANDLE! And we were in the front row, somehow; probably because Pops is early for everything (I did not inherit this trait), but at the time I was pretty sure it was because my dad was magic and/or secretly important.  I thought this might be the case when he perked up at some announcement and said, “I think that’s my cousin Rod doing the announcing.”

Before I could say, “You have a cousin Rod and why aren’t we using this relationship to get VIP treatment?” The announcer said, “and here comes the quarterback, Cunningham.  Uh, I mean Culpepper…”  To which the crowd gave a little boo and Pops said, “Yep. That’s Rod alright.”  I decided not to follow this lead for VIP treatment.

Despite needing to be the first person in his seat that day, Pops couldn’t stay in it for long.  He got us a bag of popcorn that (again, in my memory) was as big as me, and I was not a small kid.  He also ran off and bought me a Cris Carter jersey.  Again, I was not a small kid, but Pops overshot it a bit — to this day, we call that my “Cris Carter dress.”  I loved it immediately.

After the scrimmage, we went to the autograph line.  Pops plopped me next to the gate with my camera and my notebook and disappeared while I gawked, star-struck, as all the pros walked past me and the rookies stopped to sign autographs.

If you’re wondering what kind of father would leave his teenage daughter alone in a crowd like that, so was I.  I finally brought this part of the memory up to my dad last week.  “Where did you go?” I asked, thinking he ran away from the crowd to smoke.  He stared at me.  “I was right behind you,” he said.  “I had a hand on each of your shoulders!  Don’t you remember?  You were the same height as Denny Green!”  What kind of father would leave his teenage daughter alone in that crowd?  Not mine.  You’d think I’d remember being held in place by a large man, but no.  There is no large man in my memory other than John Randle.  I may be a terrible daughter with a foggy memory of one of the best days of my young life but eh! John Randle!

John Randle

Actual picture that I actually took of the actual John Randle. I am that bad of a photographer, and I was that excited. I'm still proud of this.

That was the last time my dad and I went to a scrimmage; as far as I know, he does not even own any Vikings apparel (but he could probably fit into the Cris Carter dress, too), whereas I’ve upped the ante with a “cousin” Adrian Peterson jersey, a Vikings sweatshirt, two or three t-shirts, and one of those sweet blonde-with-horns hats (I will fool you yet, men).  I was banned from The Boys’ apartment after Favre threw the last interception of 2010 and I let out a guttural scream that scared the cats.   And I once picked a fight in New Orleans, with a Priest, because he was wearing a Drew Brees jersey.  Pops and I haven’t watched a game together in years, and we’ve never been to a game together.  I’ve never been to a game at all.  But I’m still a huge Vikings fan, and it’s definitely all my father’s fault.

Love you, Pops.

SKOL VIKINGS!

A whole new way to be a fanatic

I feel like I should clarify that I use social media for a lot of things besides shoe shopping and watching videos of puppies who can’t get up.

Shoes

Mostly those things, though.

But there’s something else I love even more than shoes, and it’s not clothing-based, unless that clothing is purple: I love the Minnesota Vikings.  A lot.  To the point of…well, admitting it on the internet.  And having a Vikings-purple pedicure.

Rachel is a Viking

And dressing like this in public.

And following a bunch of sports outlets and actual Vikings on Twitter, including the man I’ve been claiming as my cousin for a few years now, Adrian Peterson. (And yet he never comes to the reunions…)  This was fun over the summer, when their updates were as meaningless as mine.  Then the NFL lockout ended and so did my regular sleep pattern.

Case in point: two nights ago, Visanthe Shiancoe tweeted the word “Welcome” and I lost my mind trying to decipher that message.  Did it mean the deal with Donavan McNabb was complete?*  Did he just hit enter before he finished writing his sentence? Was he just toying with my emotions like the entire team does season after season?  I spent the better part of an hour Googling, ESPN-ing, and Tweeting when I absolutely should have been sleeping.

Social media, I’ve discovered, has brought me a whole new way to be crazy.  I mean, a fan.  Maybe it will calm down again once this week of trades is complete, but somehow…I doubt it.

*It wasn’t then, but it is now. I have a whole bunch of thoughts on this, and losing Sidney Rice, but they mainly just make me go “I can’t with you right now.”  This is what it means to be a Vikings fan.

PS: I know I lost some of you a while back there, so here’s this:

Best Things of the Week! (An experiment)

A little background: I started this blog a few weeks ago because my teacher told me to.  For maybe the first time ever, I have genuinely loved doing my homework; whether the topic is Twitter or Target, I just like to write.  But there’s one topic I’d really like to write about more: me. I’ve toyed with the idea of starting a separate, me-in-real-life blog, but I can’t decide on a name (although top prizes to Sabrina for her submission, Rach-Elm Disease), and I also don’t know if the separation is necessary or if anyone would read it.  So this is my first (and maybe last) non-homework related post, an experiment in creativity — and by creativity I mean I completely ripped off this idea from my old friend theshooz.  Anyway.  Here goes.

1. The Boys

Last weekend, I went to visit two of my best friends, collectively known as The Boys.  They used to live in the Cities, but moved to Iowa a few months ago for work and school.  This was obviously a bad decision, and I’m still trying to get them to see the light and come back to me.

The Boys like comics (and comic book stores and superhero movies and games involving superhero characters) and karaoke, but mainly they like making jokes at my expense.  Sometimes I wonder why I put up with this abuse (or actively seek it out by driving for four hours) but then I remember that they once did this:

The boys as Gob and Tobias

The Boys dressed as GOB and Tobias for my birthday.

Clearly, they are worth it as people.

2. Free movie!

Constantly signing up for online contests and email lists paid off this week with two free passes to a preview screening of Horrible Bosses at the ICON theater in St. Louis Park.  Not only is that fast becoming my favorite theater in the Cities (the VIP section is amazing), I got to feel all kinds of important by seeing the movie a week before it actually premieres.

I don’t actually know why I was given these tickets, but pretending I’m a critic, I give the movie about a B.  I would recommend Horrible Bosses to fans of The Hangover or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  So…not my mom.  Probably not your mom, either.  That’s about all I can think to say about it — Roger Ebert, your job is probably safe.

3. “Free” Twins tickets!

On Saturday I ventured to Target Field to watch the Twins fall apart to the Brewers.  Despite the loss, it was a gorgeous day at a gorgeous field.  My favorite player, Michael Cuddyer, hit a home run for me.  And I got to sit directly behind this guy:

trifecta of cool

Jean shorts, cut off top, pink fanny pack: trifecta of cool.

The tickets were “free” in the sense that I donated money to the American Diabetes Association and they sent me tickets.  This is actually the second Twins game the ADA has sent me to this year (follow the ADA on Twitter!).

Sitting in the golden glove

Sitting in the Golden Glove outside of Target Field. Apparently my legs are half as long as my friend's.

So that was the week that was.  What do you think, should I keep up this “feature?” Do I need to pay theshooz royalties for stealing her idea?  Is the world just waiting for a Rach-Elm Disease blog?