Some good reads for a Friday

Back on the blog after a day off. Here are a few gems I’ve found in the past couple of days.

I am clearly on the Eminem bandwagon of late. There was the Chrysler Super Bowl ad. And now there\’s a story in the Detroit Free Press about how a middle school girl scored an interview with Eminem for her school paper in suburban Detroit. Good for her, but also good for him.

Maybe this one is more interesting to me since I’ve had a couple of significant college hockey interactions for my day job. But there was a good New York Times story about how U.S. college hockey and major juniors in Canada are both trying to invade the turf of the other.

I didn’t know that the Dakotas were an iPhone deadzone.

I’ve seen this posted on Twitter a couple of times in the recent past, but the strange combination of cellos and Michael Jackson is pretty good. This is a pretty cool version of Smooth Criminal.

Expect much piling on on Deron Williams in the wake of Jerry Sloan retiring. But is it that simple? Adrian Wojnarowski from Yahoo! doesn\’t think so.  There’s also a money quote from Kobe in there.

And I have to admit, I’m kind of interested in seeing the movie Cedar Rapids. Maybe it is because of all the times I have driven through there or flown into the Eastern Iowa Airport for a bad basketball game at Iowa.

One additional item I forgot to add. Esquire writer Chris Jones has been blogging and blogging frequently about writing. Here he talks to Wright Thompson about his process. I don’t know either of these guys (I’ve met Wright, but don’t know him well), but I thought the conversation was quite interesting.


Emptying my brain

I’m drowning in thoughts today. Many of them are short. Most of them are not exactly the most profound. Some of them have links. So here we go:

– I have told basically anyone who will listen in the past 24 hours that my favorite ad of the Super Bowl was the Chrysler/Eminem/Imported from Detroit ad. It was the only ad that I immediately watched again and I’ve seen it four or five more times online since then. I loved the tone, I loved how it was in contrast to the fluff and nonsense of so many other ads. Well, The Detroit Free Press wrote a very interesting story about the ad, the people in it and how it was made  in this morning’s paper.

Shortly after the ad aired, someone said, ‘But will it sell any cars?’ I don’t know the answer, but the story said this:

“Chrysler 200” was the No. 2 search term Sunday on Google, beating out the Black Eyed Peas, the band that performed during halftime. Traffic at the online car research site shot up 267% for the Chrysler brand in the hours after the commercial aired — and 1619% for the Chrysler 200.

That says something. And if my Facebook feed is any indication, the ad inspired a significant amount of  pride among folks in Michigan. I can only imaging what it did for Chrysler employee engagement.

– While it was -8 this morning when I woke up, I have hope. Not only is it expected to be in the 30s this weekend, I also receved an email about fantasy baseball today. These are positive signs.

– I wasn’t surprised that a Twin Cities media outlet traveled to Japan to interview new infielder Nishioka. I was surprised that it was KARE 11, a station owned by a company that has repeately cut and cut and cut at any sign of trouble. Good for them.

– Ron Green Jr. from The Charlotte Observer delivers two good pieces. The more trivial is a blog post about PGA Tour golfer Tommy \’Two Gloves\’ Gainey and the very expensive 17th hole in Phoenix. I’d be cool with the former Big Break competitor making another run up the leaderboard because, as Ron says, “Gainey is perfect for the tour because he’s not like everyone else. He’s homemade, down to earth and as colorful as a box of Crayolas. You can see him grinding, slapping shots with that snake-killing swing of his and treating every shot as if the fate of the world hangs on it.”

The second story is about how the Wake Forest baseball coach gave one of his players a kidney. It is a very nice story. The sad part about it is that I would guarantee you that there’s a coach at another school wondering whether that is a NCAA violation.

– Since I might not be able to say this for long, I lead my one-and-done fantasy golf league. Last week, I got a top 10 from Bill Haas. This week, Nick Watney played a strong final 36 holes to move me into first.

– I have previously written about whether I miss being a sportswriter. Well, Eric Crawford of the Louisville Courier-Journal blogs (with video) about what it can sometimes be like to cover a game on deadline. It is a good view at what can sometimes happen inside the sausage factory.

– If you have NBA TV, turn it on tomorrow (Wednesday) night at 6:30 p.m. central time. You will see the Clippers play at the Knicks. Neither of these teams are going to win the title, but it will be entertaining. You will thank me later.

– Great Q&A with Spike Lee on The best part is when he destroys Kevin Garnett. And I love that Spike is a big Landry Fields guy.

– It was 30 years ago today when R.E.M. recorded its first album, “Murmur.” Hat tip to CTR for posting that on Facebook.

– I have never been so excited for April 15. No, not for taxes. That fine day is when the final season of my favorite television show – Friday Night Lights – returns to NBC.

– On the topic of television: Yes, I will be setting the DVR for the return of Beavis and Butthead.

– And finally, best wishes to my colleague and loyal blog reader KK, who leaves tomorrow for Norway for a couple of weeks of service to our country.

– I am now a fan on Facebook of a page entitled: “Make the Twins throwbacks the every day home uniform.” You should be too.

That’s it, I’m out of here.

Beer + books = Two good reads

Here are a couple of things from over the weekend in the New York Times that I wanted to share.

The first is about thirst. Here is a story about the breweries of Duluth and the south shore of Lake Superior. I am familiar with a couple of the spots, but there are some finds in here that sound pretty good. While Duluth isn’t my ideal winter destination, there are some eating/drinking ideas here that sound pretty good.

Second is about the rise of e-readers among kids. I am very much a fan of my Nook Color. I have read more since getting it and have found it to be a cool device. And that e-readers are gaining traction among a younger crowd is a positive. Less TV and video game time for them is all good.

Finding my Minnesota golf answer

I am a fan of lists. I’ve been tracking where I’ve played golf and how many different courses I’ve played each year since 2002.

I would love to know how many different courses I have ever played in my lifetime, but that seems very difficult to get a complete picture of. It at least seems like a very time-intensive process.

Yesterday, I received the latest issue of Minnesota Golfer in the mail. As is generally the case this time of the year, the issue included a directory of all of the MGA member clubs in the state. I went through the list and put together a new page at the top of the blog that includes my best estimation of every course I\’ve played in Minnesota.

Apparently there are more than 400 courses in the state that are MGA members. They range from little 9-holers to courses that are ranked nationally for various reasons. There are places on the list where playing shirtless in the summer is acceptable attire to places that are quite stuffy and smell of money.

Among those 400 are courses I would love to play (or play again) and others that I don’t have much or any interest in. After all, I do believe that life is too short to play bad golf courses.


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Lionel Hollins is my new favorite NBA coach

OK, that might be a bit of an overstatement. But I do love his honesty.

Before Hollins’ Memphis Grizzlies played the Timberwolves on Wednesday night, Hollins was asked if he was going to be able to sneak a look at a TV and watch his son, Austin, play for the Gophers.

At that point, Hollins basically called college basketball — especially the Big Ten variety — boring.

Pat Reusse wrote his entire column for Thursday\’s paper on this topic.

I was working at the Wolves-Grizz game last night and heard about the pregame quotes. And while I covered college hoops for a long time, many of Hollins’ feelings mirror how I feel about the game.

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While I’ll be rooting for the Packers on Sunday

When it comes to choosing a team to root for in a sporting event, I tend to believe that the enemy of your enemy is your friend.

At first blush, there are probably those who would think that since I grew up in and again live in Minnesota, that I would be a fan of the Vikings and would want the Packers to lose this weekend. The reality, however is that I don’t really care that much about the Vikings. Of Minnesota’s pro teams, I care less about the Purple than any other.

I’d much rather spend fall Sunday afternoons playing golf. Now I will watch them if I don’t have anything else going. I’ll certainly tune in for night games. I know that a lot of people care a lot. I’m just not really one of those people.

I will admit, however, to being a little weary of the segment of the population that thinks that the Packers, the Badgers and all things Wisconsin are so awesome that they felt the obligation to move all the way to Minnesota to tell us about it. That kind of dedication — openly leaving the center of their universe in order to share the greatness of Wisconsin with us uninformed — is very impressive.

But I just can’t get around the idea of rooting for the Steelers. Not at all.

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The magical number of 12

I walked into Lifetime Fitness on Monday evening and handed my card to the dude behind the counter with a bit of a swagger.

Yes I said swagger. And it’s kind of a joke.

So maybe there wasn’t swagger, but there was a small sense of pride and accomplishment. Because once the bar code was scanned, it meant I was a winner. A big $20 frequent fitness winner as it was my 12th health club visit of the month.

I know getting to the gym 12 times in a month shouldn’t be cause for celebration. It’s only three times a week. But it is.

I don’t always have the right amount of motivation. I find excuses to not go. There are times when I’d rather just crash on the couch and watch TV.

Things only get tougher from here, 12 visits in the shortest  month of the year feels difficult to pull off. But I’m going to try to do it. I’m going to try to rock it. I, after all, have my swagger back.