October 31, 2021

Happy Halloween from the Bucket of Blood


Happy Halloween from the Bucket of Blood
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for October 31, 2021 

We had a fox stop by our yard for a visit this week.  We've been seeing them in the neighborhood this year, but this was the first time we had a personal visit from one of them.  I thought they were more of a nocturnal animal, but this guy was out and about around lunchtime.  He didn't stay long.  Just a quick visit to stop and itch himself and then he was on his way.

My neighbor had a Halloween party on Saturday night and we had several friends join us to attend the festivities.

 We've lived across the street from Mike & Laurie for about 20 years now.  Their golden retrievers gave birth to our dog, Blue, and the mother and one of Blue's brothers still live with them so we stop by for lots of visits with "Mudder & Brudder".  They decided to have their first annual "Bucket of Blood" party this week and we were excited to join them.

Their house is on Prior Lake and parts of it were built way back in 1916.  Some of the original stone walls are still in place which gives it a very unique feel.  During the late 1920's, there was a period of time where the home was considered a "Speak Easy" known as the Bucket of Blood.  Apparently it was a very popular place until the repeal of Prohibition and the return of Beer and Liquor.  

They announced they were going to have a costume contest so many of us followed suit and dressed as we would if we were going to a Speak Easy in the twenties.  It made for a really neat atmosphere.

When Karl and Tina arrived, I was excited to see that we would fit in well together.  They're quite the Dapper Couple.

Jimmy took things a little more literally and arrived as an actual Bucket of Blood.  He brought a couple bottles of stage blood and said we could help him by splattering it all over him.  That stuff seems like real blood and creates quite the mess.  I didn't really want to keep my white dress shirt much longer anyways.

He even went so far as to have T-shirts made to commemorate the party which was a real classy move.  Thanks for the shirts, Jimmy!

John and Kara are some other neighbors of ours who also followed the Speak Easy theme.  Those blow-up guns looked pretty scary.

Sue and Ron showed up as a pair of sneakers, but didn't really appreciate it when I kept putting my feet in their faces all night.  I thought it would be fun to try to wear them around.

One of the highlights of the party was the DJ and Karaoke set-up.  We had a ball singing some classic tunes.  Although I ended up killing my voice after only a few attempts.  I tend to be more of a screamer than a singer.

October 24, 2021

The Fall of 2021


The Fall of 2021
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for October 24, 2021

We've had an exceptionally warm fall so far, but this week the temperatures started turning cold and the leaves are fully colored everywhere you look.  Which can only mean one thing.  Winter is coming.  The transition from summer to fall is always a challenge for me. Yesterday I found myself walking across a parking lot in 36 degree weather while wearing shorts and a t-shirt. That can get to be a problem in Minnesota if I don't start remembering to wear pants again soon.

I went to the Mall in Eden Prairie on Friday night and was surprised to see this police car.  When did cops start driving Teslas?  I've never been a big advocate of defund the police before but I'm starting to wonder just how much money do they get?

On Saturday night, we went to a campfire hosted by our good friends, Jen and Dan Walters.  They moved into a new house recently which is just awesome.  We were excited to go check it out and spend some time with them.

They have this creepy fellow hanging out in their front entryway.  He talks and his facial movements look just a bit too realistic for comfort.  I told them I couldn't have this in my house. Because if I found myself waking up at 3am to go to the bathroom and had to walk by this guy, I don't think I'd actually make it all the way to the toilet before relieving myself.

They have a big backyard that borders a swamp so it's fun to see what critters we might encounter while there.  I was hoping for an alligator, but no luck.

October 17, 2021

A Visit To Surly Brewing Company


A Visit To Surly Brewing Company
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for October 17, 2021

We visited a couple of new restaurants this week that I really enjoyed.  The first is a new place in Prior Lake called Pau Hana.  They call their style of food Hawaiian Regional Cuisine and I really enjoyed it.  I had the Poke Stack and the Loco Moco.  Both were Muy Bueno!    That's what I like to say to the locals whenever I'm in Hawaii.

We were joined at Pau Hana by our good friends, Tom & Kellie Wolf.  We always have a great time with them.

My son, Luke, works at a local bank.  Sometimes when I stop by at the ATM, I peek into the window to see if he is happening to be working the drive-through.  This week I got lucky and was able to sneak a couple of pictures of him.  Then I took off like a rocket before security could catch up to me and ask why the heck I'm taking picture inside the bank!

On Saturday night, we visited a place I've been wanting to frequent for a long time.  The Surly Brewing Company!

The Surley Brewing Company is a $20 million craft brewery which opened in 2014 and has a 350-seat beer hall, a pizzeria, an events center, and retail store.  They also have the capacity to brew 100,000 barrels of beer including my favorite IPA, Surly Furious.

We were joined for the evening by our old pals, Karl & Tina Zitzewitz.  They're always up for an adventure!

We started the evening with a beer on the balcony which gave us amazing views of the nearby Grain Silo.  

 We eventually were seated for dinner and enjoyed the Hog Frites & Pierogies for appetizers.  For an entrĂ©e I had the Hot Fried Chicken Sandwich which was actually pretty spicy.  I guess that's why they call it Hot.

After dinner we wandered over to the nearby O'Shaughnessy Distilling Co for a nightcap.

We enjoyed the atmosphere here.  It wasn't quite as crowded as Surly which gave us the opportunity to have some nice chit-chat & laughs.

I've been wanting to visit Surly Brewing Company for awhile now and glad to have finally had the chance to make it happen.  If you're looking for a fun restaurant & microbrewery experience in the Twin Cities then you won't go wrong by giving them a visit.

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October 10, 2021

A Minnesota Timberwolves Preseason Game


A Minnesota Timberwolves Preseason Game

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for October 10, 2021

On Monday night, we were invited to attend the pre-season opener of our hometown Minnesota Timberwolves.  We're not special or anything.  I usually buy some games each year and giving us a free preseason game is their way of reminding me it's time to buy some tickets again.

Masks are still required at Target Center so we had the joy of pulling these out again.  It's been awhile since we've been to a place that required them, so that was fun.  

The Timberwolves have had a long history of being a poorly performing team, but this year feels different.  We have a lot of good, young talent and they're gonna be a fun team to watch!

One of my favorite players is last year's Rookie of the Year runner-up, Anthony Edwards.  He's a very talented athlete. 

Anthony is really fun to watch and has a unique perspective which makes his interviews pretty entertaining as well.  Matching him up with our all-star center, Karl-Anthony Towns, gives us a pretty solid core to build around.

Anthony's youthful energy is contagious and the other players always seem to follow his lead on things.  Like when he brought out his pet hamster to show the coach, all the other players excitedly gathered around to get a look for themselves.

One of our newest players is Patrick Beverly who is a wily veteran who played for the LA Clippers last year.  He seems to have taken Anthony under his wing and I think he'll be a great influence on him especially on the defensive end of the floor.  The Wolves have long needed to be better on defense, so I look forward to seeing how this progresses.

Chris Finch is a relatively new coach for us.  Technically this isn't his first year as our last coach, Ryan Saunders, was fired mid-season last year and Finch was brought in to replace him with mixed results.  It will be good to see what he can do with a full season available to him.

Since it was only a preseason game, it didn't seem to matter who won or lost.  The Timberwolves did show a lot of potential and ended up winning the game 117-114, but the Pelicans didn't even play their best player, Zion Williamson.  He seemed to be pretty happy to be there and sitting on the bench, though.

I have no idea what Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor's wife said to him, but he seemed pretty shocked by it.

Karl heard it.  He seemed to find it pretty funny.

On Thursday night, we connected with our old friends, Cathy & Jeff, at Celt's Craft House in Apple Valley.  We hadn't seen them since before Covid so we had a lot of catching up to do.  Good times!

I zoomed in on the crescent moon on Friday night and caught this photo.  I like how it turned out.  Fly me to the moon and let me play among the stars!

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October 3, 2021

Bill Burr and the Vikings Browns Game


Bill Burr and the Vikings Browns Game
Todd Swank's Diary Update for October 3, 2021

We saw this crazy character sitting next to the sidewalk during one of our walks this week.  He was totally mellow laying in the grass so we just let him be & didn't mess with him.  I don't know about the rest of you but whenever I see one of these, I always have a strong urge to try to tickle his nose with my finger.  I think that would be a lot of fun.

We'd been looking forward to Saturday night for months.  Luke & his college roommates discovered Bill Burr on Netflix by watching his comedy specials.  I was familiar with him from The King of Staten Island, The Mandolorian, and his hosting Saturday Night Live show a year ago.  Bill was performing comedy at Mystic Lake Casino and we had tickets to see the show!

Unfortunately they had very strict rules about cameras, so I wasn't able to capture many pictures, but I was able to sneak this one towards the end.  Bill's comedy is great.  I'm sure many people could find his act a bit offensive, but we find him hilarious.  He did a nice job of making fun of both sides when it comes to Covid & politics.  He also had a lot of really funny observations about the state of the world.  I'd highly recommend going to one of his shows if you get the chance.

Krazy Kory came to town on Sunday to go to see the Vikings game with me.  I told him to show up bright & early so we could participate in all the pre-game festivities.

The 2-1 Cleveland Browns were in town to take on our 1-2 Vikings.  We had a good win last Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, but the Browns have been a hot team lately so we knew it would be a challenge.  In any case, we were hoping for a good game!

Kory wanted to go down near the field for the player introductions. We worked our way to the railing right behind the dragon statue where the players run onto the field.  I thought it would be an interesting place to get some pictures.

It was an interesting place!  I looked down before the players came out onto the field and saw our star running back, Dalvin Cook, directly below me pacing around waiting for the call.  I tried to shout down a Pep Talk for him, but I don't think he heard me.  I think it could have really helped him.

We headed back to our seats and were ready to get loud to support the Vikings.

Sometimes we'd forget to get loud and the nice stadium people would remind us with subtle messages on the big screen.  

We watched former Vikings Allstar Defensive Tackle, Kevin Williams, get inducted into the team's Ring of Honor which was nice.  The other half of the Williams Wall, Pat Williams, was there to support his friend which was also nice.  I sometimes wish my last name was Williams.

We started off great.  Kirk Cousins marched us down the field on our first possession and tossed a 12 yard Touchdown pass to Justin Jefferson to cap off the series.  Sadly, it would be our only score all day.

Dalvin Cook had been out last week with an injury, but he started the game and we had high hopes for one of his big performances.  Not today.  He had less than 50 total yards from scrimmage and no scores.  What a bummer.

Baker Mayfield and friends weren't exactly lighting us up, but they did manage to answer our touchdown with Kareem Hunt's 1 yard rush and a penalty on the Vikings on the extra point led to them converting a 2 point conversion.  A couple of field goals later and the Browns wound up beating us by a score of 14-7.

Kirk Cousins went 20 for 38 and 203 yards with 1 Touchdown and his1st interception of the year.  I'm sure we'll hear all week that it's all Kirk's fault and we need a new quarterback.  Vikings fans are kind of fickle like that.

Coach Zimmer will also be on the hot seat with the team's 1-3 start.  Sure enough I've already seen people on Twitter and some Vikings fan pages calling for his job.  I don't think we're there yet, but if we lose next week to the 0-4 Detroit Lions, all bets are off. 

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