I’m headed to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul today. I’ve been going to the Twin Cities for many years and have had many clients there over the years. Wendy and I try to make a habit of spending at least one or two weekends a year enjoying all that the area has to offer.
Here are the Top Five things I love about the Twin Cities:
Cool summers. Yes, the winter can be brutal, but the other three seasons of the year are absolutely spectacular. I love that when it’s sweltering back home I can feel crisp, cool air in the Minnesota mornings.
Vikings! As a life-long Vikings fan I love going to see my favorite Purple People Eaters play. And, even when I’m not going to a game I get Vikings chatter on the local sports stations.
The Guthrie Theater. The best regional theater in the midwest with three amazing stages, world-class productions, and a facility that truly lets you experience what an evening of theatre should be.
The Minneapolis Children’s Theatre. Trust me, it’s not just for children. I have never attended a play at MCT that didn’t leave me inspired, entertained, impressed, and wanting more.
Al’s Breakfast. (pictured) The hole-in-the-wall diner in Dinky town has been a family favorite for many years. It can’t adequately be described. It just has to be experienced.
It was a very enjoyable weekend for Wendy, Suzanna and me. As I mentioned in my previous post, we hosted a script reading on Friday night. It was a wonderful and fascinating mixture of people. There were several from our circle of theatre friends, but we also had some friends who had never been to a script reading before and for whom it was a new experience. There was a lot of laughter, and fun had by all. The final guest left some time after midnight and Wendy and I didn’t get to bed until after 1:00 a.m.
Saturday was Wendy’s birthday! Her wish was to spend a quiet day together and then go out with friends in the evening. We got the first half accomplished as we spent a leisurely day together. She opened her gifts in the morning and we watched some shows from our growing DVR queue. Our evening plans were scuttled when our friends from Des Moines chose not to drive down after hearing snow in the forecast. I feel bad for Wendy and all who have birthdays this time of year. It’s such a bummer when your own birthday party gets cancelled, especially when it’s cancelled on the threat of snow and it turns our it all would have been just fine. Nevertheless, Suzanna and I took Wendy out to eat and we came back home to watch Brave. We were blessed with an unscheduled visit by Chad and Shay later in the evening which lifted Wendy’s spirits.
The snow did arrive during the night. We had 6-8 inches of it. So, we decided to continue the theme of a quiet weekend at home. I got the snowblower out for the first time this year and we watched our Vikings get crushed by the Bengals. Yikes, I can’t wait for this season to be over so we can put it behind us. We then finished up the last of the wrapping of Christmas gifts and got the house picked up so that we’re ready for Christmas.
Earlier this week I had a couple of days that required my presence with a client in the Twin Cities. Wendy and I seized the opportunity to mix a little pleasure with a business trip and make our annual pilgrimage to the Metrodome to watch our beloved Vikings playing the San Francisco 49ers.
We left on Saturday morning and drove up to the Mall of America. Wendy and I have been doing this massive purge of our closets and drawers this fall. Clothes that we haven’t worn in years along with clothes that no longer fit us are being given away. We both had a short list of things we needed to replace, so we did a little shopping on Saturday afternoon. That night we dined at the flagship of perhaps our favorite restaurant of all time: Buca Di Beppo’s in downtown Minneapolis.
Sunday was beautiful as we walked from our hotel to the Metrodome. Wendy reminded me that since we’ve been making our (somewhat) annual pilgrimage to watch our beloved “purple people eaters” she had never seen them lose. I explained that she should prepare for that streak to end. The 49ers, who many hold to be the most talented team in the NFL this year, held the edge over our rebuilding Vikes in almost every aspect of the game.
The Metrodome is loud when you pack tens of thousands of screaming football fans inside. It’s raucous. It’s a blast. You quickly build camaraderie with your fellow fans sitting around you. You’re in this together. You’re family. Everyday on the street it’s easy to feel beleaguered and besieged by annoying cheeseheads, but on Sunday afternoon inside the Metrodome you are surrounded by brothers-in-arms. You are a force to be reckoned with.
Wendy made the observation that while we love the game of baseball, the truth of the matter is that the crowd at a baseball game has very little impact on an average game. The crowd cheers after something momentous happens. There is generally no swell of crowd noise until the bottom of the 9th, if at all. In football, the crowd can actually make a difference. When it’s 3rd and long for the opponent and the Metrodome crowd starts to scream, the crowd knows that they are making it almost impossible for the opposing team to hear plays getting called in from the sideline. It’s equally impossible for the opposing quarterback to successfully call an audible. It’s easy for the opponent to make mistakes amidst the deafening din. The average fan can be an active participant in the outcome of the game, and that’s kind of a fun feeling.
The game Sunday was perhaps the most fun we’ve ever had a Vikings game. The Vikings played their hearts out and pulled the upset. We and our fellow fans had a ball cheering the team on. Wendy’s streak is still in tact.
It was kind of a crazy summer for the two of us, and we’ve been really looking forward to a little time for the two of us to relax and enjoy some R&R. Our purple pilgrimage was just what the doctor ordered.
This past week I had to make a run to Minneapolis for meetings with a client, so Wendy and I decided to make it a date weekend to get away and have some time for just the two of us.
On Friday night we headed to the Minneapolis Children’s Theatre for a production of A Wrinkle in Time. The children’s book by Madeline L’Engle was (and still is) a favorite of Wendy’s. I was unfamiliar with the story, but later understood Wendy’s curiosity about how they would stage it. I found it to be a fascinating science fiction plot with a touching human message. I told Wendy afterwards that it reminded me of the original Star Trek: the cutting edge science of the day woven into an engaging story that explored social issues and, ultimately, human nature. As always, MCT did a masterful job and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Saturday morning took us on a jaunt through IKEA to purchase some replacement glassware. Of course, you can’t visit the store without wandering and dreaming for a while. We ended up in downtown for a matinee performance of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing at the Guthrie Theatre [pictured]. Wendy and I were in Pella Shakespeare Company’s production of the show a few years ago, and it’s one of our favorites. It was fun to see it staged so differently, and so well.
I must admit that the weekend was nearly ruined – or at least severely damaged – when it was discovered that my on-line reservation for the hotel downtown was not completed. Wendy and I both remember me making the reservation, but I must not have completed it correctly and discovered that I never received a confirmation. So, let’s just say that there was no room at the inn we regularly stay at, love, and were expecting to enjoy [strike one]. In true male “fix-it” mode I quickly got on-line and made reservations at another hotel a mile away…without consulting Wendy [strike two]. After the show I immediately started driving us to our “new” hotel, once again,…without consulting Wendy [strike three – end of the inning].
The outlook wasn’t brilliant for me at that point. Yet, I’m happy to report that, in the end, the “new” hotel far exceeded our expectations [hit]. We found a wonderful little restaurant just a few blocks away and walked in the unseasonably warm evening weather to enjoy a romantic dinner [hit]. The following morning’s walk to the Metrodome for the Minnesota Vikings game was a lot longer than we anticipated (1.1 miles to be exact), but the warm weather was beautiful and the walk did us both good [walk]. We then had the pleasure of watching our beloved Vikings win their first game of the season from some excellent seats in the 9th row [GRAND SLAM!].
So, despite striking out in the late innings, I was overjoyed to have pulled out the victory with a walk-off (1.1 mile walk-off, mind you) homer in the bottom of the 9th. Which reminds me, in case you might not have picked up on it, Wendy and I also watched the baseball playoffs all weekend ;-)
Then they cleaned house of the foreign gods and worshiped only God. And God took Israel's troubles to heart. Judges 10:16 (MSG)
I took my daughter to a Minnesota Vikings football game yesterday. They won the game, and we had a great time taking in the event. I was reminded, however, of a time in my childhood when I thought that it was somehow my fault whenever my favorite team lost the big game. Growing up in an era in which the Vikings lost four Super Bowls, I had plenty of opportunities to wonder what I did that made God punish me so.
I look back and shake my head at the notion. How selfish of me to think that my sins are so central to the cosmos, that a mere misstep in my ten-year-old existence would factor into the balance of power in the National Football League.
I have to admit, the book of Judges sometimes tempts me to revert back to that kind of silly thinking. There is so much time scrunched into so few verses. It feels like a constant stream of karma. The people worshiping other Gods and something bad happening. They repent and something good happens. It feels a bit like their faith is a lucky charm.
I don't think that my wrong doings make the difference in a football game. I don't believe in reducing God to a good luck charm or Santa Claus who will do whatever I want if I'm good enough. I do, however, think that my wrong doings have negative consequences. My faithfulness to God's message has positive consequences. My perpetual wrong doings have increasingly negative consequences, both spiritually and physically, for me and those around me. My obedience has increasingly positive spiritual and physical consequences (for me and those around me, but not for the Vikings).