October 27, 2023

Staying Up Late For Monday Night Football


Staying Up Late For Monday Night Football
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for October 27, 2023

For the second weekend in a row, we went to see dueling pianos!  This time with our good friends, Tom & Kelly Wolf.  We danced and sang to a bunch of classic tunes and had a bunch of fun watching the pianos duel one another.  

I'm usually the one who plans our family outings, but since Abby and Avery have been together, there's someone new to make suggestions for how to spend a Sunday afternoon.  This week Abby suggested we visit the Twin Cities Harvest Festival & Maze in Brooklyn Park.  Count me in!

There's a bunch of attractions at the  festival, but the best one is the Twin Cities largest corn maze.  It's 20 acres of stalks carved in the shape of the St. Paul Saints logo.  We spent the afternoon navigating the corn maze and discovered that the corniest jokes led to the sweetest kernels of laughter! 

They also had a hay ride that took us down the ditch next to the cornfield on one side and the interstate on the other.  I thought we'd end up in the woods eventually, but instead we turned around and drove again in the ditch back to the starting line.  Not a very exciting view, but the ride was fun.

Avery of the Corn.

Monday night brought us to US Bank Stadium to see our Minnesota Vikings take on the San Francisco 49ers.

Neither of my boys wanted to join me for this game because it was a school night.  Which is fine by me because that meant I got to take my lovely lady friend here.

Our man, Kirk Cousins, hasn't exactly been known for his performance on night-time nationally televised games, but I had a feeling early on that this week things would be different.  Go Long.

Our Vikings have struggled so far this season coming into the contest with a record of 2 and 4 and not a single home win.  But it's hard to blame Coach KOC.  He's just so damned good looking.

Some Vikings fans want to blame our poor performance recently on our 2nd year General Manager, Kwesi-Adofo Mensah.  From what I was seeing from the guy, he was styling and not fearing anything.  He knows we're about ready to turn things around and make a successful run into the post season.

Being Monday Night Football, the team tried to mix it up with a cell phone light display and had some way to synchronize everyone's phone flashlights to the music.  It would have been really cool if more than 8% of the crowd decided to participate in it.

The Vikings got off to their typical start when they had a few good plays rolling down the field followed by an opening drive turnover.

Former Iowa State quarterback, Brock Purdy, was here to lead the 49ers.  He threw for 272 yards and a touchdown, fighting tooth and nail to keep the 49ers afloat in the face of the Vikings' onslaught. His efforts, though valiant, were ultimately drowned out by the roar of the Minnesota crowd. It was a bold attempt, but in the end, he found out that even in his best game, he was just a guest in the Vikings' unstoppable show.  

Sometimes I have Chat-GPT write these captions for me if I can't think of anything to say.  This is one of those times.

Jordan Addison emerged as the Viking-slayer the 49ers never saw coming, showcasing his prowess with 123 yards and two touchdowns. His performance was like a lightning strike, illuminating the field in a blaze of glory while leaving the 49ers defense in the dark. With seven receptions, Addison turned every catch into a dagger, piercing the hearts of the opposition. In a game of chess, he was the checkmate the 49ers never anticipated, reminding everyone that in the battle of wits, he was the undisputed king. 

 Yeah.  Chat-GPT again.

The Vikings defense roared like thunder, suffocating every 49ers move. With Brock Purdy in their sights, they turned his passes into potential disasters, intercepting him twice and leaving the 49ers offense in ruins. In a symphony of chaos, they showcased their unwavering might, turning the game into a canvas of destruction where the 49ers were nothing more than helpless bystanders. The Vikings defense didn't just play; they orchestrated a masterpiece, leaving the opposition in awe and defeat.  

It's nice having AI.  Makes this job much easier.

Despite a 2 touchdown performance by Christian McCaffrey, in the end the mighty Vikings proved victorious.  It was the best home game of the season by far.  Probably because it was their first home win of the season, but also it was just a really fun game.  Even if we didn't get home until close to midnight on a school night.

October 22, 2023

My 1st Time Sitting Courtside at a Timberwolves Game


My 1st Time Sitting Courtside at a Timberwolves Game

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for October 22, 2023

Last Friday night, we had the pleasure of having dinner with our good friends, Portia & Doc Vogt.  We then went to watch dueling pianos afterwards which was a lot of fun.  One piano really beat up the other one which was quite the sight to see!

On Tuesday night, we had an exciting opportunity to attend a Minnesota Timberwolves Preseason Exhibition game.  

The home team was hosting Maccabi Ra'anana of Israel.  They're a professional basketball team and were touring the United States playing exhibition games against a few different NBA teams.  It was an interesting experience considering the recent tragedies in their home country.  Each  player wore a t-shirt with a picture of a hostage currently being held by Hamas which was a pretty powerful statement.

None of the Timberwolves starters were suited up for the game, but they were all there supporting the bench players who would be playing.  I thought that was a pretty classy move.

The arena was about as empty as I'd ever seen it.  We had decent seats but about halfway through the first quarter our Timberwolves rep came to say Hi and then asked if we would like to sit courtside.  We jumped at the opportunity!

The Timberwolves have a lot of exciting young talent.  This was our opportunity to get to see them play for a whole game.

 It was quite the experience sitting this close to the action.  We could feel the floor shake every time the team ran to our side of the court.  Miss Sheri also took a bouncing basketball directly to the face, but lucky it didn't hurt.  Much.

Former Iowa Hawkeye, Luka Garza, was great.  He led the team with 30 points and the Timberwolves were victorious by a score of 138 - 111.  Normally we would have left early during a game like this, but with these seats we stayed to enjoy the last minute and then some.

I have no idea how much these seats would normally cost, but I was impressed to discover that they included free drinks throughout the game and a catered meal at halftime in the Lexus Courtside Club.  I could get used to this kind of life.

On Friday night, we had the good fortune of having dinner with Luke and his roommate, Jackson.  A little bit of Chili's is a great way to start the weekend!

Here's a TikTok Video with some footage from the game:
@toddswank My first time sitting courtside! #timberwolves #minnesota #nba #basketball #courtside ♬ get him back! - Olivia Rodrigo

October 8, 2023

Searching for Taylor Swift


Searching for Taylor Swift
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for October 8, 2023

We had a pleasant treat on Thursday night when we met up with an old friend of mine from back in Iowa.  Deirdre grew up in a town near Clear Lake and we also went to college together.  She moved to the East Coast and we haven't seen each other in probably 30+ years.  She was in the Twin Cities and we met for dinner.  We spent a few hours having some laughs and  catching up on the good ole days.  It was a bunch of fun seeing her!

On Friday night, we connected with my old buddy Orlando Mazzolini for some dinner & a show.  Miss Sheri loves the Big O.

After dinner we picked up Luke and went to Mystic Lake Casino to see Nikki Glaser do comedy.  We were pretty excited for the show.

I'd never seen Nikki Glaser perform live before but I always enjoyed seeing her on a variety of roasts on Comedy Central.  She's very funny.  I didn't realize how raunchy she is as she definitely takes her act to the extreme.  Instead of Nikki Glaser she should probably go by the name Naughty Glaser.

Sunday afternoon brought us to US Bank Stadium to begin our search for Taylor Swift.

The reigning Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs were in town.  It was the perfect matchup for the 1-3 Vikings considering we've been having really bad luck in all of our losses this year.  What a great time to get back on track by beating the Champs.

We have a family draft for tickets each year and the Chiefs were Avery's first choice so he joined me for the game.  They were the first choice before he even knew that Taylor Swift was supposed to be at the game, so that ended up just being icing on the cake.

Taylor's boyfriend, Travis, was playing and she attended his past two games in New York City and Kansas City, so the buzz was that she'd be here also.  We scanned the skyboxes to find her, but weren't having any luck when we got the TMZ notification on my phone that she didn't show for the game.   Have they broken up or does she have something against Minnesota?  It's gotta be the former because we're pretty cool up here.

Judging by all the red in the stadium, it appears a lot of people from Kansas City came up to see her.  I'm sure they were all pretty disappointed when she didn't show.

The cheerleaders all seemed pretty happy that Taylor didn't show.  Let somebody else get some attention for a change!

The actual game was pretty good.  Of course the Vikings had a fumble on the opening drive for the third game in a row, but they battled back and kept it pretty close.  They actually had a chance to tie the game at the end, but this is the Vikings after all.  Naturally we had to have some things go wrong which allowed us to lose by a single score for the 4th time this season. 

It was my first time seeing Patrick Mahomes play in person.  He is an amazing quarterback and had some miracle plays to help them seal the victory.  We should do that sometime.

October 1, 2023

Ringing in October on the St. Croix River


Ringing in October on the St. Croix River

Todd Swank's Diary Entry for October 1, 2023

On Friday night, we joined Avery and Abby for dinner at Kona Grill.  Abby's Grandma Brenda was in town and we had the honor of meeting her.  She's a very nice lady.  It was fun getting to know someone from Abby's family which we haven't had a chance to do yet since they're mostly all living in Georgia.

Luke has been living at home for only a month, but just moved into a new place with his old roommate, Jackson, and new roommate, Cade.  I'm going to miss having a buddy at home, but we're excited to see where this new adventure takes Luke.

On Saturday, we drove to the Minnesota/Wisconsin border to the St. Croix River.

We've been having an annual tradition with our good friends Karl & Tina Zitzwitz to take their boat down the river to Red Wing, Minnesota, and Treasure Island Casino for a night of debauchery.  

We couldn't have asked for better weather considering it was the last day of September.  The temperatures were in the high eighties both days which is unseasonably warm for this time of year.  We certainly weren't complaining.

It's about a 3 and a half hour ride each way.  It's always an adventure with beautiful sights constantly coming into view.  Watching the trains go by right next to the river with the colorful foliage behind them is a very memorable image for me.

I also enjoy going under this railroad bridge in Prescott, Minnesota.  It's so interesting to see the point where the St. Croix River converges with the Mississippi River because the two rivers have strikingly different colors so you can see the exact spot in the water where they merge.

You never know who you're going to bump into on the river.  

As we pulled into the marina, we began noticing various pelicans in the water.  We occasionally see pelicans in Minnesota, but I wouldn't consider them commonly seen.  Thus my surprise when we encountered an island of them where there were literally hundreds of them gathered together.  I assume they were meeting to plan their migration strategies before heading south for the winter.

We had a bunch of them fly directly over us.  Some were even kind enough to drop off some presents on the boat as they soared past.

Karl said this was the latest in the season we've ever done this trip.  That may have explained why the marina seemed so empty when we got there.  That's OK, though.  We can have plenty of fun together all by ourselves!

We started the evening with a pleasant dinner at Tado's Steakhouse.  I liked pronouncing the restaurant like it was my first name, TODDO!  I'm sure the other guests enjoyed it as well especially after I said it five or six times.

We enjoyed doing a little gambling together, but never seem to walk out of the place with more money than we came in with.

We'd hoped to take in a concert while we were there, but there wasn't anybody playing that night.  However, we did sit and watch this band for awhile and really enjoyed it.  They sang a lot of classic songs from the seventies and eighties and rocked them like a hurricane.  Sadly, I didn't catch the name of the band but I'd watch them again if I randomly encountered them on another night in the future.
@toddswank Train crossing the St Croix River in Prescott, Minnesota. #train #bridge #stcroixriver #prescott ♬ Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon & Garfunkel
@toddswank A barge on the St Croix River south of Welch Minnesota. #barge #stcroixriver #minnesota #riverlife2021 ♬ Fortunate Son - Creedence Clearwater Revival
@toddswank I hear a train a comin’! #train #stcroixriver #wisconsin ♬ Folsom Prison Blues - Johnny Cash