Brenda Van Asch’s encounter with me ended better than it started.

We were both at Donny Osmond’s autograph session Saturday at Southern Lights, the Burnsville store that sells lighting creations from Donny Osmond Furnishings. Van Asch is among the most major Osmond fans. She saw both his holiday shows with Marie at Mystic Lake last weekend. The Brooklyn Center mother of two received a hug from the entertainment icon and an autograph for her treasured 15-year-old photo of Osmond with her and her daughters Brianna and Gina.

That photo was Van Asch’s screen saver at work until she got a new photo Saturday of Osmond hugging her.

After getting Osmond’s autograph on the special photo, Van Asch stuck around to soak up the scene. At one point she got miffed because Osmond interrupted the autograph session when he noticed me. He came over and we shared a minute before he went back to delighting his fans. I don’t remember what Van Asch said to me, but it was something testy that I decided to ignore. Later she admitted she was thinking: “Why is she so special?”

Van Asch’s mood improved tremendously when another Osmond fan, Chris Skluzacek, started to playfully pester me about taking a photo with her and complained that I had refused to do so a few years ago.

“You’re C J?” said Van Asch with surprise. “You took this picture I just had Donny sign. You said I couldn’t take your picture but that you would take a picture for me. It was like 1999, I want to say. You took this picture at Planet Hollywood. The reason I had him sign it is back then my daughter Brianna was 11 years old, but she died at 21 in 2011. So it’s good to see you.”

This, her fourth Thanksgiving without Brianna, is a tough time of year. The pain is not just hers. “It’s just as devastating to her only sister and her father,” Van Asch said.

“She got into a car accident due to distracted driving. She wasn’t on the cellphone,” said Van Asch. “She had to be looking at her GPS on the console and she went through a stop sign.”

Brianna’s death changed everything about how her mom acts: “I use the Bluetooth to make calls; otherwise, I leave the phone alone and I don’t text and drive anymore. I used to do that. It only took a second for Bri to make the fatal mistake and a woman to hit her.”

Van Asch remembered a recent news report that irritated her. “There was something about undercover troopers, and they were all saying this is just to get money and it’s a waste of money,” she said. “You know what I find a waste of money? Them pulling dead bodies out and going to tell the families that their loved one died because of the accident. You never get over it. You move on with your new normal.”

Van Asch hopes expressing her pain will cause more motorists to be vigilant behind the wheel.

Vikings get little respect on ESPN

There was plenty of bulletin board material for the Vikings from ESPN shows after that anemic 30-13 loss against the Packers. And, ah, Adrian Peterson might try holding onto the ball before having the nerve to criticize anyone.

Frank Isola: “Everybody keeps waiting for Minnesota to separate themselves but they’re the same old Vikings.”

Bob Ryan: “I wondered how good they were and I came away saying, ‘Eh, they’re all right, they’re no threat.’”

A.J. Adande: “[Peterson] had a right to say these things but you need to start at where you went wrong, when your team loses. He had a fumble that was pretty costly for them. Stick to your area of control before you start assigning blame everywhere else.”

Tony Kornheiser: “[Aaron Rodgers] is a golden boy. [Packers] at least sent the message in their division and through the NFC.”

Mike Wilbon: “I like, not love, the Vikings. [The loss] should have been a lesson for them. The people you have to beat in this division wear green and gold. [The road to the Super Bowl] doesn’t go through Minnesota, it goes through Green Bay. And Green Bay is helped by having its usual homecoming opponent, the Bears on Thanksgiving night.”


C.J. can be reached at and seen on Fox 9’s “Jason Show.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count. Attachments are not opened.