Online Buzz – Vikings vs. Saints

This week’s Online Buzz finds the Vikings trouncing the Saints in team-related searches with 3,699 for the Vikings and 1,207 for the Saints. (Read my methodology here.)

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Chris Hovan searches (70) edge out Saints defensive end Charles Grant. Daunte Culpepper has exactly double (182) the number of search that his Saints counterpart, Aaron Brooks has (91). Interest in the Vikings running back situation has increased, with an uptick in searches on Michael Bennett (124) and Mwelde Moore (48) from last week, while searches for Onterrio Smith remained flat (81); these compare searches for Saints featured back Deuce McAllister whose 42 searches don’t even equal the Vikings’ fourth-string back. Ouch.

The match-up of first-round picks falls in the Saints favor, with rookie defensive end Will Smith‘s 32 searches more than tripling Kenechi Udeze‘s 10. That may be a bit unfair to Udeze, however, since the Smith shares the same name as search category killer, actor/musician Will Smith, so presumably some of his 32 search are people looking for information on the I Robot star.

The most glaring example stardom versus superstardom becomes clear when you compare Randy Moss seaches against practically any team’s star player: Randy Moss’ 963 searches verus the Saints most popularly-searched player, Aaron Brooks, who had ninety-one. Or even add up all of the aforementioned Saints players’ searches, and you get 246.

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An Early Halloween For Senator Mark Dayton

Senator Mark Dayton continued to explain himself on Friday on Minnesota Public Radio’s Midday program, where he took calls and defended his decision to close his office due to potential terrorist attack.

My first reaction to the news that Dayton would close his DC office, was that he had just provided supporting evidence for those who are already inclined to believe that Democrats are weenies. My second reaction was to search for a political angle. I’m still looking.

If you set aside the fact that Dayton is a US Senator, his actions are eminently reasonable and prudent. Fact: DC has been attacked by terrorists before, so the threat is not unprecedented. Fact: It is not merely reasonable, but the responsibility of any employer to take steps to remove their employees from any known or reasonably likely danger.

But when you put the fact that Dayton is a US Senator back into the equation, you have to account for the fact that his actions have the potential to be symbolic. Oh, yeah, and add to all of this the fact that not another senator or representative have closed their office–not one–and you’re left with a big ?!?

On Thursday, the editorialists at the Star Tribune took Dayton to task for the office closing. They seem to think that Dayton is trying to make a political point, saying:

"Take it as political theater, it is farcical — and counterproductive" and If
Dayton’s purpose was to underscore a legitimate issue of national security —
how much remains to be done to ensure Americans’ safety from terrorist attack —
he could have chosen many a better way of making the point…Instead of pointing
out the emperor’s startling nakedness, Dayton has cast himself as the lone
little chicken who claims the sky is falling."

But if this were simple political theater, wouldn’t Dayton be anxious to make his political point? He hasn’t. The Strib is just guessing. Dayton’s sticking to his story that it would be irresponsible for him, knowing what he knows, to return to Minnesota while his staff members faced the danger he believes they could face in DC.

The stories about the Dayton’s office closing mention that the Senator is upset with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist for failing to discuss with all the senators the threat they face. The implication, then, seems to be that Dayton is trying to make a point with Frist. But if that’s the case, why hasn’t Senator Dayton explicitly connected the two? To make such a political point, you must be overt.

So I’m left with the only logical conclusion: Dayton is not trying to make a political point and actually is only concerned about his staff’s safety. It’s a rather stunning conclusion when you consider that Dayton had to have thought about the political ramifications yet disregarded them.

I’ve said it for years and I’ll say it again: Reality is nine-tenths perception. The reality is that Senator Dayton is the only member of Congress to close his office due to the threat of terrorism. The perception is that he cut and ran.

Two years is an eternity in politics, but still, this is the stuff of which political advertising is made.


T is our quarterback on our league teams.

He can throw an absolute bullet with a tight spiral that will take your hands off and he can dissect defenses with the best of them. But he’s also got some shake and bake to him, so if he takes off running he can make people look foolish.

His one drawback is on defense when he plays safety. He’ll line up with the front line defenders near the line of scrimmage but he doesn’t have the make-up speed he imagines he has, so he’ll often get burned deep. I’m no burner, so I can’t really complain, but still…

T’s a gamer; both as a football player and in the realm of video games. You wouldn’t know it by looking at him but he’s a major fan of online role playing games.

Cast–Open Source

Open Source is called that because of her enthusiasm for often arcane open source technology. Linux, ogg, bit torrent, whatever. If it’s free technology and difficult to use, she’s probably all for it.

Open Source plays on our co-ed league football teams. She’s a tall and very athletic woman and that’s great for us because what separates the men from the boys, so to speak (cough cough) among co-ed league teams is the talent of your women players. We’ve always had great women players and Open Source is certainly one of them.

She’s got great hands and a strong arm too, so she can play quarterback if need be. She’s also a little slow, but so are we all and it’s not much of a liabilty where she’s concerned. She does, however, love to argue and will take every opportunity to do so if it involves the rules of the game, and that doesn’t always sit too well with the refs.

The arguing doesn’t stop when she steps off the field, either. Open Source likes arguement for argument’s sake. I do too, so I find her great entertainment. But I’ve learned that not everyone does like to argue and I’m not quite so sure Open Source full understands that yet.

From what I’ve seen, she’s an absolutely superb mother. She loves her sports as much as I do, yet she does not think twice about missing her games so she can attend her son’s events.


Chef is The Veteran‘s cousin and is indeed a chef. He’s an ordinary, down-to-earth kind of guy who is usually the focal point of any room in which he happens to find himself. He is at ease with himself and, as a reult, is at ease with others.

He likes to have a good time and whoever is with him usually has a good time as well. The good things that define his version of good times are friends, food, fermented beverages, and f***ing.

Chef is the brother of Fearful Flyer and happily for everyone involved, applies his culinary expertise to her birthday bash that she holds at a St. Paul Saints game every year.

Vikings Vs. Texans — In Pictures

I do like the Star Tribune‘s online game photo gallery feature. I have only one complaint: They need to get a new person to write the captions for the photos because whoever is currently doing it, really has no clue.

I wouldn’t make a big deal of it if it was a one-time thing, but I’ve seen this sloppiness before. A few examples from this week will suffice.

A photo of Randy Moss going horizontal includes this description: "Randy Moss is upended in the second quarter by Rushen Jones after picking up a first down." You don’t even have to look at the photograph to know what’s wrong with this picture. Rushen Jones plays for the Vikings not the Texans, and so therefore, it’s impossible for him to upend Randy Moss. Okay, I guess it’s possible; he is one the the lesser talents on the team, so I guess he could have unintentionally upended his teammate.

Anyway. It doesn’t matter. Because the caption writer did get it wrong. Check the photo. Rushen Jones is nowhere to be found.

Example two: A photo of kicker Aaron Elling getting facemasked by Texans’ kick returner J.J. Moses sports this description: "Texans’ J.J. Moses was given a 15-yard penalty for face masking during the kick on a punt return on Vikings Darren Bennett in the fourth quarter."

Well, there are two obvious things wrong with this caption. The first hint is that the picture clearly shows that the name on the back of the jersey of the Viking in the photo begins with the letters ELL. That should have tipped off the caption writer–even if (s)he did not watch the game–that the person in the photo was not Darren Bennett, whose last name begins with the letters BENN. And if you’d followed the Vikings at all this year, you could not have avoided being aware of the Vikings maddening kicking problems and their attempts to correct them. And therefore you would know the names Darren Bennett and Aaron Elling. You would know that Elling is the Vikings kick-off specialist and that Bennett is their punter. So if you have Elling in a photo, the picture must’ve been taken during a kick-off return and not a punt return, as the caption said.

It ain’t no big thing to me personally because I know the Strib made the mistakes and I know how they should be corrected so I haven’t been led to believe something that not’s true. But I’m sure that’s not true for everyone who reads the captions.

Sure, it’s only football we’re talking about, not the war on terror or ethnic cleansing in Sudan for which the Star Tribune has got their facts wrong. But they’ve still got their facts wrong. They’re a newspaper. They’re supposed to get their facts correct–especially the easy ones. That’s what has me annoyed.

Cast–Fearful Flyer

Fearful Flier is The Veteran‘s cousin and sister to Chef. She is not a librarian though she went to school to become one and as a result, is the first person to turn to when you need to track down an elusive fact or piece of knowledge.

The fact that she has a command of knowledge and knows where to look for the knowledge she does not have, gives her a natural advantage over pretty much everyone.

She started her own business so she could work on her own terms and from home where she can care for her three children. Her husband is an Irish playwright who is as equally imposing in stature as he is understated in conversation.

I first met Fearful Flyer on a project we both worked on and for which we fly to New York. It was on this trip that I discovered that she was afraid of flying. I’d never been on a plane trip with someone who feared flying, so it made a lasting impression on me.

The flight to New York was not so bad for her but the flight back was indeed. While explaining that she uisually didn’t drink, she insisted that we go to the bar before our flight left, which I was perfectly happy to do. We had a few drinks and were on our way.

Fearful Flyer got increasingly anxious as the plane waited to taxi. She was visibly upset as the jet revved its engines, took off down the runway, and took to the air. Once airborne, she calmed down a bit.

Sometime into the flight, however, we ran into turbulence–a thunderstorm–and as lightening struck outside our window the plane was buffeted about, she began to shake and murmur "Oh, my God."

I tried to talk to her and tell her everything would be alright and engage her in conversation to keep her mind off of the storm but really, what could I ultimately do to effectively assuage her fears? Not much. Not much at all.

Needless to say, we arrived safely and I’m sure she still fears flying.

Every year, Feaful Flyer throws herself a birthday bash that is one of the events of the season. She throws it at a Saint Paul Saints game. Everyone arrives early for tailgating that features fantastic food by her brother Chef and beer. Saints games are always entertaining and afterwards we usually end up at The Half Time Rec. So her birthdays are always a full day of food and fun.

Cast–Surfer Dude

Surfer Dude, not surprisingly, is from California. It is not for that reason alone that I call him Surfer Dude: He actually does surf.

He’s also a talented photographer–and videographer–and happily makes his own video highlight reels of his surfing, something I’d love to be able to do for my football games.

I met him at one of The Veteran‘s parties and overheard them talking about playing football. He’s a very talented football player. He’s fast but deceptively so because he’s got a compact build, more of a running back than a wide reciever.

He moved from California where he worked at some Hollywood studios doing animation to Minnesota to set up his own animation shop with Pixel Grrrl. I’ve admitted to them both that I’ve got a serious case of professional envy because I love animation.

From Minnesota he moved to Chicago and from there he moved to Orlando where he now works at one of the leading video game companies.

Surfer Dude smartly uses organized city football leagues as a means of meeting new people in a new city.

But he didn’t have much of a chance to play football shortly after he moved to Orlando because about a week and a half after me moved there the first of four major hurricanes hit Florida; the eyes of two of them passed over Orlando.

One night while he was in Minnesota, we stood for about a half hour outside a bar so he could watch an oncoming violent thunderstorm, a phenomenon he didn’t get much of a chance to see in sunny California.

In Orlando, not only did Surfer Dude get plenty of opportunities to sate his hunger for inclement weather, he also got plenty of practice at hurricane preperation and he got to snap pictures of the resulting damage.


Grover was The Veteran‘s best man. They’ve been buddies since childhood and the stories of thie deeds and misdeeds are seemingly endless.

He got his nickname because, as a kid, he he did a flawless imitation of Grover on the Sesame Street television show.

When I first started hanging with The Veteran, he said that I had to meet Grover because we had a lot in common and have the same sense of humor. We do.

Like Grover, I’m amused by the unexpected and the inappropriate. When I’m listening to a formal speech by, say, a politician, I often make up alternate and inappropriate speeches for him that end with his audience stunned into silence. Like Grover, I’m a news addict. I must know what’s going on in the world (though, I admit, I’ve lost a great deal of interest since Bush was reelected) and constantly have cable news as a informational wallpaper.

He’s opinionated and not afraid to express his views. Grover and I love a knock-down, drag-out political discussion.

Grover is loyal almost to a fault, a trait I admire a great deal because I value loyalty a great deal. He’s also an extremely generous person.

Grover and I are both former smokers. He’s an IT administrator and, like me, he likes all the coolest and latest tech toys.

Grover is married to Artisan and they have a baby daughter.

Cast–Bottom Line

The bottom line with Bottom Line is that everything comes down to the bottom line with her.

She’s an accountant, so that explains her bottom lineness in matters financial. The company she works for makes the yellow tape that police use to cordon off a crime scene, so we’re always happy for her when we see cime on the TV news. We’re often happy for her.

That singular trait of those with financial acuity is not restricted to matters of money with Bottom Line.

In conversation, she hones right on in on the most salient point. She’s got a healthy and entertaining sense of sarcasm which she’s never afraid show and which requires a certain bottom lineness of perception.

She had a reputation for disliking "nice guys," which is ironic, since she married the poster boy for Nice guys, Delicious.