The Times' Newsroom staff weigh in on their top five things of the week.

Enjoy soup, chili and  chocolate this Thursday, and help the local United Way at the same time

This Thursday, it’s back. United Way has their Soup & Chili Cookoff and Chocolate Extravaganza Thursday in the Crookston High School Commons. Taste and review food from local restaurants, groups and organizations while they compete for bragging rights and plaques to display in their place of business or offices. Bring the whole family for a night indoors, fill your bellies and donate to United Way.

Don’t get tired...keep your eyes wide open

In the latest case of art imitating life, Alec Baldwin's version of President Donald Trump might have best hit the nail on the head during Saturday Night Live's season premiere. In the skit known as the "cold opening" to start the show, Baldwin's Trump acknowledged that his primary strategy is to make everyone "tired" with his perpetual nuttiness. It's just one crazy distraction after another, he said, as part of his effort to simply wear everyone out. Over the weekend, as we've all heard by now, the real Trump ripped Puerto Rican's hurricane victims and the mayor of San Juan, and he contradicted his own secretary of state on our nation's strategy regarding North Korea. Remember, Republicans freaked out once when President Barack Obama wore a tan suit. Don't get tired, people, keep your eyes wide open.

Let’s have a nice crowd at Friday’s Pirate football game

The regular season of Pirate football is winding down with only three games left and this Friday they will face-off against one of their biggest competitors, Barnesville. Currently, Crookston is 4-1 and Barnesville is 5-0 which means the Pirates will have their work cut out for them. Let’s see how many people we can squeeze in those stands at Ed Widseth Field and along the outside of the track to cheer on our home team. Let’s fill that student section, too. Go Pirates!

Hang a couple of feeders, sit back, watch, wait, and chill

Talk about depressing times. For people who feed off natural light, they're getting a bit surly because daylight is rapidly diminishing by the day. But we all know why things seem so down and out right now. There's just too much bad news in the world, in our own backyard, in our state, nation and world. (And the latest, the shooting in Las Vegas.) So, if you're in the market for something to make you take a deep breath or two, or maybe just reduce your heart rate, buy a cheap bird feeder or two, some sunflower seed blend and maybe a little bag of thistle seed, fill the feeders, hang them, and watch. Maybe grab a cheap bird watching book, too, to help you identify what you're seeing. The fall migration is in full swing, and some cool birds are hanging around in town for a while. It provides a nice, little escape, albeit a brief one.

Ease up, Minnesota sports gods!

It's official: The sports gods hate Minnesota, and Minnesota sports fans have been so sure of this for so long now, when the "official" status of that hatred was cemented with one swift buckle of Vikings rookie running back Dalvin Cook's knee, fans' reacted with a collective shrug, as if they knew it was coming. The Vikings' starting quarterback Sam Bradford is out with a sore, swollen knee, leaving Cook as the Vikes' main offensive weapon, and now he's gone, too. A Minneapolis Star-Tribune sports writer temped fate a couple weeks ago, when he dared wonder, in a column, if fans of Minnesota's professional sports teams, the Vikings, Twins, Wild and Timberwolves, dared be filled with this much hope, with all four franchises on such solid footing and with such promise. No, we didn't dare, apparently. Maybe the Twins will shock the world in Yankee Stadium Tuesday night to provide a glimmer of that hope's return.