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Sunday, April 12, 2020

Easter: One Hundred (?) Days of Solitude

A little revenge and this too shall pass
This too shall pass, I'm gonna pray
Right now all I've got's this lonesome day..



It's  almost the start of Week 5 of Stay-at-Home... Easter Day...  a time for what?  Rebirth?  Salvation?  

Me thinks not quite yet. Though on this specific day, one wonders what Jesus thought when the stone got rolled back. 

I'm gonna kick some ass and take names later...   

Okay, probably not.  No longer man, now God, there's a certain decorum He surely had to hold Himself to. Like when your wife says to you, not rhetorically, "who's the adult here?"  She's not really asking a question, she's telling you 'grow the f*** up.'

Yes, we'll have one of everything... 
Still, it had to have crossed His mind.

But I digress.  Turn the clock back a month and you'd find Jerrence finally reconciling his profound sense of abandonment over Gruley telling us he was leaving Chicago for the burgeoning Florida hockey scene.

Geriatrics on skates.  There's a visual for ya.

He just packed up and moved, albeit with one final awesome dinner. We'll always have those foie gras eclairs and Lini regaling us w stories of stress testing Amazon's supply chain.

At the same time, it also occurred to me that I hadn't spent this amount of dedicated, virtually-never-out-of-my-sight time with my wife in, well, never.


Lisa as Madame Dufarge? Not funny
Hmmm.   

The possible range of outcomes from this epiphany remain vast, with murder-suicide not being entirely off the table.  

Or more likely, lobotomy-by-knitting needle. 

Hmmm. 


These days, I'm supposed to still be working which is easier some days than others.  Working in a service industry, one is somewhat beholden to your Marketing counterparts to keep the fee billing lights on - and to say there's increased level of... client distraction... would be an understatement.  Especially when one's biggest client is Chicago's top hospital system.  Advertising for services they're either unable or uninterested in performing has no longer become a priority.

So what is one to do?  Time for introspection and self-improvement.  So when one isn't otherwise cleaning the garage, doing yard work or taking an on-line cooking class, I offer these films as potential beacons of insight as one deals with prolonged loneliness...

* Contagion (2011).  Pandemic Art imitating Life imitating Art.  

Insight: A layman's how-to for what we're experiencing.


* The Shining (1980).  Dealing with isolation, English major-edition.  A cautionary tale.

Insight:  Maybe giving up drinking wasn't the right call. 

The Martian (2015).  Dealing with isolation, Aerospace Engineering major-edition.  

Insight: You think you've got abandonment issues? 
Suck it up, snowflake.

Castaway (2009).   Dealing with isolation, Management major-edition.  

Insight:  "Honey, where did I put the basketball?"

* The Road (2009).  Dealing with isolation, Civil Engineering major-edition.  Read the book for the powerful father-son relationship, watch the movie for Viggo.

Insight:  Lonely?  Care to share your world with cannibals? 

* The Vanishing (2018).  Dealing with isolation, Oceanography major-style.  Set on an island off Scotland and described as a tale of greed, paranoia and isolation.  

Insight:  BFD.  In the Corrigan household we call that Tuesday.

Word of the Week

Used in a sentence paragraph

As young Jerrence turned his thoughts forward, he wished to put some distance between where the country had been and the sophomoric sniping going on in Washington. 

If one side wasn't dwelling on the weeks lost in identifying the outbreak (of no practical value now whatsoever), it was the other side waxing romantic over the awesome job they considered themselves to be doing (premature at best, delusional more likely).

Enough already.

He therefore took great solace - and inspiration - from the impressive, wide ranging numbers of panegyrics for John Prine in the aftermath of his death.



To a man, whether they be critic or colleague, Prine was consistently described as a kind, ego-less, 'what you see is what you get' artist with a genius for capturing the every day in the most profoundly straightforward, and often absurd, ways.  

A guy who didn't see the next generation of musicians as competitors but rather the future of the industry to nurture.

Hmmm.  What a strange man.


Quote of The Day


Thanks, Jay, for reminding us of this.  


Ripple Effect
"Ripple in still water - 
When there is no pebble tossed
No wind to blow... 




One month into this, one begins to ponder the short and long-term, Freakonomics-like effects to this 'new normal', like... 

How will Castellini get his haircut?  (Does Dennis make house calls?)

Will he even need a haircut?' 



"Hello, St. Petersburg!"
Or 'How will Gruley survive without his Wednesday night hockey league?'  

How will Pam Gruley survive without his Wednesday night hockey league?

"Is the Ravinia music season now toast?"  (I really wanted to see Bryan Ferry, Ray.)  

Will golf pull-cart sales skyrocket - since no one's getting in a motorized cart anytime soon.   And caddies clearly aren't happening.



Other things of a potentially more, um, weighty matter... 

1.  "____ We Hardly Knew Ye" Meaningful 2020 sporting events are gone and probably aren't coming back this year:
  • March Madness
  • Boston Marathon
  • Summer Olympics
  • NHL, NBA and MLB season abbreviations
  • PGA Tour (November Masters, anyone?)
Basically anything that attracts a crowd.  Wait.  That means... no Linipalooza?!  

Say it ain't so.


So who knows if there'll be a football season - it's certainly looking unlikely for the typical late August / early September start...

And what, then, of this blog?  Well I think I've demonstrated an ability to write without the need of actual facts or, really, actual events.  

But I can't say that I'm not disappointed about the possibility of not being able to utilize some of the innovations I was planning on.  

The Wager, for starters, was going to be framed within in the construct of... Jungian archetypes.  

I know.  Tres magnifique, oui?  

Fear not. Should there be a limited schedule or even a full cancellation of the season?  No problem.  Kay Corrigan gave me a 7-CD set a few years ago of Classic ND football games. From memory (the set is sitting in the Chicago apt.), I think it includes:

  • ND - Michigan St (10-10 tie)
  • ND - Alabama, Orange Bowl (Clements-to-Weber)
  • ND - USC (Green jersey game)
  • ND - Texas Cotton Bowl (Terry turns 21 in Dallas and that day is all very blurry)
  • ND - Houston Cotton Bowl (Montana chicken soup)
  • ND - Miami ("leave Jimmy Johnson for me...")
  • ND - FSU (let's not think about the BC game the next week)
The point is, whether real / historical / imaginary, there'll be stuff for Jerrence to babble about.  

Better yet, there's always a happy ending!

Again, this all assumes he hasn't met with a tragic-yet-clearly predictable (and understandable) home accident, leaving the widow Minnella grief-stricken for, up to but no more than, six months thereafter. 

2.  "What about the children?"    If you're the NCAA - never known for being the sharpest tools in the shed - they've got a lot of thinking to do about eligibilities.  And the knock on effect of scholarship limits - what do you do when there's a new class of recruits coming on the heels of a season that may not even get played - or played only partially?

3.  "I've got your Title IX right here, bub..."  Then there's the not insignificant matter of college athletic dept. budgets being devastated by the revenue loss.  I'd imagine for many of the state schools, already fighting the tension of their coaches being the state's highest paid employees, this'll be an extremely polarizing subject.  And all those minimal revenue generating sports - you'd know them at Notre Dame as the ones that have actually been going to Final Four's and / or winning national championships - there's gotta be some casualties.


4.  "Easy come, Easy go..."  Most of you are probably aware that ND had the mother of all recruiting visits planned for the 3rd weekend of March.  An entire 5-star O-line was scheduled to visit, along w a (near) 5-star RB and other high priority targets.  

Those kids already committed were coming in to help w the push.  As was Quenton freaking Nelson (who's gonna say 'no' to him?!). It's not hyperbole to think they could've locked down the cornerstones of a legitimate Top 5 class.

Suddenly, pffft.   Now, we wait and see.  Kelly & Co. are targeting a mid-June "re-boot."  We'll see.

5.  You Can Still Find Sports If You Try Hard Enough.   Yes we've been largely wiped out of sports to watch, although there's been some fantastic historical events to re-visit.  But that's not to say you can't find some riveting competitions if you try hard enough. 





6. "Life Goes On." And so too, unfortunately, does Death.  The difference these days, whether the cause is a virus or not, is that final, intimate closure may not even be an option.   And as a few of us are discovering, it's affecting both the famous and the not so much.
The Bros. Mullins. Gone, never forgotten.
  • RIP, Harry Borgman - my 92 yr. father-in-law, Lisa's stepfather and a man she called 'dad' for 50+ years.  Basically incapacitated for the past few months in a hospice care facility w a variety of failings including bone cancer, she never got to see him for the last few weeks.  
  • RIP, Mark Mullins - brother to our very own Brian "Moon" Mullins, and a guy who fought a courageous 3 yr. battle w Alzheimer's.
  • RIP, John Prine - singer / songwriter extraordinaire and Chicago boy.  73 yr. old, two time cancer survivor with a clearly compromised immune system so once he caught COVID-19, probably never had much of a chance.

The latter two passed on the same day last week, perhaps prophetically.  One of my personal, earliest memories of Prine was moving to Chicago in 1981 and hearing his songs on WXRT, thinking "he's pretty interesting. "  Then, later meeting Lisa Minnella who was already a big fan of his. Kismet. And if you're at all familiar w his catalog, even a little bit, this anecdote will stun you:  

At 24 years old, the first time he sang publicly was at an "open mic" night and performed three songs:  "Sam Stone", "Paradise" and "Angel From Montgomery." 

Most songwriters would kill to have their entire legacy defined by those three songs.  Those were his open mic audition.    At any rate, everyone's got a favorite John Prine tune - this one, with Steve Goodman, is mine.

Memories they can't be boughten
They can't be won at carnivals for free
Well it took me years to get those souvenirs
And I don't know how they slipped away from me.

 

And I bet Moon can play the hell out of this song.

Buddy's Buddy

I trust it comes as little surprise to most of you how little regard I have for our president.  Were I to play a word association game involving him, 'loathsome' would be my immediate response.

But that is not the case with many of the country's leadership - federal, state and private sector - so let's give a few of them a shout out for what they're doing to make the pandemic as manageable, ultimately solvable, as possible: 


1) Dr. Anthony Fauci.  While we don't seem to see him quite as much anymore - I wonder why that is.

He wasn't the straight shootin' hero we wanted, just the straight shootin' hero we needed.  

Thank you, Dr. F.  

2) Governors.  I like leaders with courage and conviction, guys who take action even when it might not be necessarily in their best personal interests.  

Governors Cuomo, DeWine, Newsome - I'm sure there are others - you guys rock.

3) Jerome Powell.  I don't know dookie about economics, macro or otherwise, though I do enjoy watching Lini geek out over it.  But best I can tell, our Fed Chairman is making the best of an impossible situation.  Remaining as independent as is reasonable to expect - calling Truth to Power - while taking intelligent action in the country's best interests, short and longer term. 

Bravo

4) Bill Gates.  It's easy to be cynical about a billionaire's chipping in 'big money' to help the COVID-19 cause.  They've got more than one can even conceptualize.  What's different about this, for me, is he's got a plan.   

In order to accelerate, maybe ensure, getting to a vaccine as quickly as possible, he's funding seven different factories for development of vaccine constructs, knowing that up to five of them will be the proverbial 'dry hole.'  

So smart, so impressive. 

5) Brian Kelly. While I'm sure there's a certain percentage of ND Nation that believes the COVID-19 outbreak can be traced directly back to Brian Kelly - no doubt consorting with the Chinese while interviewing for the Eagles job back in '12 - I ran across this passage on an ND website during the off-season: 

Kelly is tying his final contract extension signing to a school commitment to facility upgrades - which won't even be open for at least three years, meaning he is likely to see very little, if any, personal benefit to the upgrades.

And most of the ND fanbase will never even know it. So keep on bashing him, cretins. 

We can beat them - just for one day.
We can be heroes - just for one day... 


Question of the Week

Just because there isn't a football season - yet - doesn't mean ND Nation doesn't have questions!  From Pete Sampson's latest Athletic Mailbag, this one seemed especially topical:

Q.  Any insight into how coaches, particularly Matt Balis, are communicating workouts/drills to the players? I saw a Kansas coach breaking down a QB drill on Twitter and I’ve heard USC is using a private Instagram account to demonstrate workouts.

There’s an app players log into before workouts that measures progress during the workout as well. There’s two or three days of running in the program and three or four days of weights, although that likely varies by position. There’s an accommodation for players who don’t have access to weights, as not everybody has a home gym. For example, one player cleared out the type of storage shed where lawn equipment might be kept and moved some home gym equipment into it. He might be on the higher end of “facilities” in all this. Obviously, not ideal.

Balis is on FaceTime with players regularly, as are position coaches and coordinators. And the SWAT team leaders, guys like Ian Book, Robert Hainsey and Brock Wright, also stay on top of their groups to help with the accountability of it all. Basically, Notre Dame is going to err on the side of over-communicating what’s required rather than leaving anything to interpretation. 

There’s also regular academic check-ins to make sure the players are on top of that aspect of the semester. From what I can gather around the university, the school won’t be going to a pass-fail system this semester like some others, which isn’t to say accommodations won’t be made for the academic challenges inherent to all this.

"Greetings, earthlings recruits..." 
I’m less clear on install and positional meetings with coaches at this point of the spring semester. How much time Book and Tommy Rees spend in a Zoom conference call or what Jeff Quinn can do with the offensive line or how much new cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens can get to know his players from a distance, it feels like making the best of a bad situation regardless of what you’re doing. 
And when it comes to special teams and coverage units, I really have no clue how Brian Polian can make progress considering the volume of players running through those drills. The more physical your position, the worse off you’re going to be.

Cocktail of the Week

Quarantined in Scotchlandia.  What to do?  Oh sure one could read - but that's so 1960's.  

There's the interesting film or Netflix series - but who you going to discuss it with?  And frankly Tiger King is just as unsettling as anything virus-related.  

Let me just say, however, thanks again to all of you who favored me with bottles of The Macallan last season.  

It truly has become the gift that keeps on giving. But if some future gravitas is your thing, this might do the trick...

The Handmaid's Ale
The Handmaid's Tale (1985)
By Margaret Atwood

Marketed as a futuristic dystopian novel, Atwood's mid-80's Handmaid's Tale was eerily prescient for any modern, thinking person who sees how women's bodies are still being regulated by man.  

Looking suspiciously like a BC tailgater... 
Though it would take nearly 30 years for the book to be made into an Emmy-winning phenomenon, it never went out of print or off the shelves - perhaps because readers (and teachers) everywhere saw just how frustratingly resonant its themes remain. 

Take off your bonnet and drink up some justice.

*  4 oz. amber ale
*  1/2 oz. grain alcohol
*  2 oz. chamomile tea, cooled
*  1 oz. simple syrup

Pour all the ingredients into a Collins glass over ice and stir for :05.  Drink him under the table (if not "under his eye").  

Source:  Are You There God? It's Me, Margarita
by Tim Federle

Schedule - 2020

File this under a very tentative "Dare To Dream"... 

August
29         Navy (Dublin, 2pm ET)

September

12         Arkansas  (2:30pm ET)
19         Western Michigan  (2:30pm ET)
26         Wake Forest (Charlotte, N.C. TBA)

October
3          Wisconsin  (Lambeau, Field, 7pm ET)
10         Stanford   (7:30pm ET)
17         Pittsburgh (Heinz Field  TBA)
31         Duke  (3:30pm ET)

November

7           Clemson (7:30 pm ET)
14         Ga Tech (Atlanta, TBA)
21         Louisville (2:30pm ET)
28        USC (Coliseum, TBA)

Terry's Tools

Originally, I was going to omit this section.   This just didn't seem to be the time or the place to be pointing out bad behavior or assigning blame.  

Stick to the task at hand.  

Focus, people!  

Show good ole American resolve and we'll get through this!



Then I saw this last night.  From Profootballtalk.com:  

Reasonable minds apparently can differ on whether it’s OK for guys like Dak Prescott and Dez Bryant to go out (despite an order to stay home) and work out at a public gym (despite an order that it should be closed). It’s hard to imagine reasonable minds differing on this.

According to TMZ.com, Prescott hosted a birthday party for a friend on Friday night. At one point, 30 people attended. And one of the photos posted  shows in the background a cluster of bodies far closer than 6' apart. The photos also include a table set for a meal that would have entailed everyone sitting elbow to elbow.

Also present for the antisocially-distanced birthday party was Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.


I thought we had let the 18-22 yr. old Spring Breakers own the stupid / selfish / self-absorbed territory.  (To be fair, it's always come w that demographic territory, pandemic or not.)

But I guess not.

Q.  Is this further support for the Texas secession movement?  I hope so.


Final Thought

What comes next? You've been freed.
Do you know how hard it is to lead?
You're on your own - awesome! Wow!
Do you have a clue what happens now...





Arguably, what comes next is entirely in each person's control. 

Be smart.  

Stay safe.

Stay home.

And once again, Happy Easter - love to all of you 'n yours!

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Season End: The Law of Surprise


"Staring at empty pages
Centered 'round the same old fire..."




Dateline: Scotchlandia.

Kneeling at the altar of Bryan Gruley is not unlike getting in the Kool-Aid queue in Jonestown - they are not without their associated risks.  But approximately two weeks ago, there I found myself at a near-side Chicago bar, Wills Northwoods*, for a launch party of Bryan's latest novel, Purgatory Bay (available with a mere Amazon click).  

In his opening remarks he spoke of the writer's mantra, "Ass In Chair" or AIC, when spoken aloud could be heard as 'ache' which, ironically, is what one's ass would surely feel like if, in fact, you weren't strategic about the chair you selected.

And now you've got standing desks.  Where do those fit into the equation?  Ass in Air? Feet on Floor?  Neither sounds especially prescriptive.


Cardinal Biggles, fetch the comfy chair! 
But I digress.

Bryan was espousing the writer's creed that in order to write, and write well, one needs to sit yourself down and Nike-like, just do it.  But upon reflection, one wondered whether that was really the message I should be receiving that particular evening.  After all, his credit card was behind the bar and we had no compunction about saying, "hey barkeep, keep those 16 oz. Daisy Cutters coming until I can no longer make complete sentences..."

The more I considered the directive, the more I thought perhaps the Ass In Chair resolution was about reading his book.  Not sitting down to write anything like this blog.   So blame him for the tardiness of this post.  

But before you do - or while you are, if one is a skilled multi-tasker - purchase the book.  

It's fabulous.  

In my humble opinion, his best yet... he'll wow you with the technical plausibility of all the nefarious goings-on (he clearly did a ton of research) while reminding us all just how phenomenally disturbed he is, to come up with some of this stuff.  Not that that'll be much of a surprise to most of you.

What possible connection does any of this have?  Beyond the psychopathy of his main character, a high school senior w Division I (albeit Ivy League) athletic skills - and you thought Aaron Hernandez was scary - only this:

As we reflect on (and comment about) the performances of these kids, we don't really know 'em.  Or what they're capable of when triggered.  Just sayin'.  Let's keep it all in perspective.

* Corrigan brothers, this is the Packers bar where we went after the Miami game years ago. Mike's client (John something) had a sister running it... 

Word of the Week

Used in a sentence paragraph


As young Jerrence turned his thoughts forward, contemplating the 20so season - the meaningless and often misleading Spring game was less than three months away! - he pondered how the team could improve. 

Damned if he knew. A mere high school kicker by background, his grasp of the game ended at the Garo Yepremian "I keeck a touchdown" insight. 

Yet one thing he felt he understood from his private sector experience was the importance of culture and the necessary bonhomie teams needed to get them to a shared vision, goals and collaboration to succeed.  Clearly, something was lacking this past year - never did it seem ND fired on all cylinders for an entire game.  


He hoped the new staff hires / assignments would help get them there.  With Clemson on the home schedule and away games vs. Wisconsin and USC, ND was gonna need it.

Quote of The Day


"He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy." 
Terry Jones
'Life of Brian'



RIP Terry Jones.

There's a substantial portion of Notre Dame fandom who would no doubt say the same about Brian Kelly, though one doubts 'naughty' would be the descriptor they'd use.

I few years ago PBS aired a one-hour special, Monty Python Conquers America (if you'd like to watch, here you go).  As one might expect, there are any number of established comedians who reveal how influenced they were by the 30 minute Sunday night Flying Circus shows.


I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay... 
Doug and Dinsdale Piranha 

The Village and Urban Idiot

Twit Olympics

That parrot is pining for the fjords.

The Ministry of Silly Walks

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition


In the early 1970's the permission for adults to be silly was, apparently, revelatory.  And I was pretty sure that epiphany rubbed off on more than just those on a professional comedic track.   

If only I had any visual evidence to prove that... 

















What a great era we grew up in.


Season Observations
"But spirit is something
That no one destroys..."


One man's season-al observations:

1.  Offensive dysfunction.  One of the more open secrets that seemed to come out in December (and thereafter) is just how almost universally  disliked Chip Long was, practically across the entire coaching staff.  (Something Messrs. Gruley and Corrigan heard from a pretty wired Athletic writer as early as November.) It's hard to believe that lack of leadership chemistry wouldn't have had an effect on the offense.  

2.  Todd, We Hardly Knew Ye The other big staff departure was that of Todd Lyght, ostensibly to get closer to his family in southern California.  

But just how big of a loss is that gonna be?  For all the initial optimism over him being an All-America alum and Super Bowl winner, it never seemed like it truly translated into enthusiastic (or high end) recruiting.  

And one wonders just how great of a teacher he was - it wasn't lost on me that all the buzz out of this past week's Senior Bowl was how good Troy Pride Jr. looked - with a single week of professional staff coaching.  Hmmm.



3.  "How ordinawy..."    For most of this millennium, irrespective of the opponent, Notre Dame bowl games have been stressful affairs.  Never has there been the Lou Holtz 'give him two weeks and he can beat anyone' confidence in preparation.  So the World Camping Bowl game was notable in its workmanlike lack of excitement.  

Granted, a couple early turnovers by the Cyclones facilitated things but it's hard to think the outcome would've been any different even without them. 

The effect of better staff chemistry already?  

"Legacy! Legacy!"
4.  Legacy time.  Increasingly, one should probably get used to hearing about Kelly's eventual retirement in an upcoming 2-4 year window.  (Don't let the news of a Spring contract extension fool you - one assumes they've got to do that, minimally to defend against negative recruiting.)

Also get used to the pundits wishing to talk about the mark he'll ultimately leave on the program.  So it's interesting to hear Kelly publicly raise the bar on recruiting expectations.  "We can bring in Top 5 classes!"  

By many accounts, the difference between ND's top 10 rankings and the rarified air of Bama-Clemson-OSU territory isn't our academic limitations but Kelly's own involvement (or historical lack thereof) in the pursuit of the 2-4 elite athletes that represent program changers.  

One (or two?) more shots at BCS playoff / national championship before he leaves? Stay tuned!


5.  Tommy Boy. The ascendancy of Tommy Rees to OC, by virtually all accounts, was neither a surprise or unearned.  He's a smart, well liked dude.  And if one has ever hired someone who was super capable while also being a really poor organizational culture fit, you'd appreciate Kelly's erring on the side of someone he knows 'gets' ND.  

Color me optimistic.

6. "To Infinity And Beyond!" Looking to next year, we lose a few key players but consider this:  Michigan, LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington will all be breaking in new QB's.  Obviously, Clemson (and to a lesser extent Wisconsin) won't.  But something to think about if ND likely starts the season ranked around 10th.


7.  "Don't give up."  One can debate whether this year was 'successful' or not. (With every passing day, I say 'yes.') But what I found perhaps most gratifying is how after the devastation of the Michigan game, they didn't pack it in.  Which would've been easy to do.  They didn't. Says a lot about the leadership and the state of the program.  

Much to be optimistic about.  Bravi a tutti.
  


Buddy's Buddy

Everyone has a favorite player through the course of a given season.   It may not be rational - not always the star - but someone you probably find likable.   That you think are probably good at what they do as well as being a good person off the field.  That may or may not be true in actuality (see Jerrence's fanboy crush on Art Best back in the day.)  
But this year, I think Buddy got it right.  Chase not only bailed the offense out of virtually every 'oh shit we might lose this game' jam they had, he also seemed to represent a kid who grew up, found himself over his four years at ND.  

How can you not like that?


Question of the Week

Forgive me for flogging this particular dead horse but... if there's one thing I learned this year, subscribing to The Athletic for ND coverage (as well as other sport you might fancy) was well worth the humble coin.  The Pete Sampson - Matt Fortuna podcasts, post-game review and mid-week topics, were especially interesting and insightful.  (Which is more than I can say about the drivel you getting here.) Nonetheless, a question from a recent January mailbag I thought might be topical:

Pete, have you been able to dig up any details on any of the “changes” Brian Kelly mentioned working towards in order to bring Notre Dame recruiting to the next level? You’ve seemed as interested as anybody about that comment, so I’m wondering if you’ve dug anything up yet.

One more for fun, if you were to pick one player on each side of the ball to surprise people positively next year, who would they be?

Way-too-early ranking: No. 10

Jon W.

I’ve done some digging on this issue and have been a bit surprised (for now) at the lack of major revelations. But when you take a step back, maybe that makes sense. If there was some huge adjustment that was painfully obvious, it would make you retroactively wonder what in the world the recruiting department had been up to for the past nine years. And overall, Notre Dame’s recruiting department has been and continues to be in a good place.

One angle where Notre Dame can be better is getting Brian Kelly move involved in the process with the right prospects. That doesn’t mean that’s an automatic reaction to the South Bend Tribune’s story on Jalen McMillian and Lathan Ransom. Should Kelly have been more involved with McMillan? It was worth his time. Would it have made a difference in the end? That’s debatable. I don’t think Kelly calling up Ransom would have swayed a prospect who had rated social life toward the top of his recruiting wish list. Still, Notre Dame can do a better job of identifying the few prospects where a recruiting relationship with the head coach matters, and then Brian Kelly needs to follow that advice. Do I think that’s going to be a game changer? I’m not sure. But if it puts the Irish in a better position with a few top targets, it’s worth the effort.

If there’s a more substantive change, I expect it to be Notre Dame digging deeper to find the next Kyle Hamilton or Chris Tyree. If there are 30 five-star prospects, my educated guess is Notre Dame could seriously go after a dozen of them. Figuring out that dozen earlier, working Kelly into that mix and then not letting up maybe makes a difference. Notre Dame didn’t have to recruit Hamilton unbelievably hard to land him. Tyree required a bigger effort, which included Kelly visiting Tyree’s high school during his junior football season. Find those guys. Don’t take no for an answer.

There was a question from Chayse S. about relaxing character/academic requirements, and I don’t see that as much of a solution either. I’d point to some of the guys coming out of Ohio State this year, starting with cornerback Jeffrey Okudah. He’s a Texas product who was open to leaving the state, obviously. He had a 3.7 GPA in high school. Notre Dame barely got a sniff. Or take Jordan Fuller, a safety with a 3.6 GPA from New Jersey. Notre Dame got closer with him, landing an official visit. These are top-50 prospects with top academic profiles that Notre Dame needs to do a better job with in recruiting. Are you going to get all these guys? Of course not. But there are more kids interested in academics who are elite prospects than you’d think.

As for your second question, does Kevin Austin count as a surprise player? He’d be my pick on offense. On defense, I’d take Jayson Ademilola because I think he’ll have a chance to win a starting job. But as a deeper cut, I’d take cornerbacks K.J. Wallace and/or Isaiah Rutherford.

Cocktail of the Week

Winter in Scotchlandia.  And we've the gin away, to hibernate with the other white spirit 'fancy boys' while the whiskeys, ryes and bourbons... and big, lusty Italian red's say, "out of the way snowflake, let the grown ups take over..."





The Call of the Wild Turkey
The Call of the Wild (1903)
By Jack London

New rule:  all protagonists should be dogs.  

In The Call of the Wild, our good boy Buck must answer the not-so-hypothetical question: If I were taken from my home in California and sold into slavery in the Yukon, would I rebel or give in - particularly since these fangs aren't doing much good in the suburbs?

Though written over 100 years ago, this Call still gets answered - in part because of Jack London's sharply observed signature theme of nature versus nurture.  


Drop a (Gold Rush-themed) Klondike bar (get it?) into this winter warmer that'll have you lying with dogs and toasting to your true nature.


*  2 oz. Wild Turkey bourbon
*  1 oz. Canadian Club whiskey
*  4 oz. hot water
*  2 oz. cinnamon syrup
*  1 Klondike bar

Pour the bourbon, whiskey, water and cinnamon syrup into a coffee mug.  Drop in a Klondike bar to melt.  Keep this one away from dogs.  

Source:  Are You There God? It's Me, Margarita
by Tim Federle


Wager 2019 - Taking the Leap..

                                                           "'Dear Mr. Fantasy, play us a tune
                                                             Something to make us all happy.."


                                                                  
Well maybe not all of us.  

Congratulations, Tim Corrigan.

(Would this be a bad time to say that you've always been my favorite brother?) 

Sure, I know there's a group of likely embittered sore losers - 'try living in Philadelphia for 40 years' Tim would likely say.   

But I am reminded of what the Philosopher Mitch McConnell would likely say in times of rancorous dissent and acrimony:  too bad.

Wins
TC’s Keanu Analogy
ND Connection
Bettor
12

 
                                                     
The Matrix
 Okay, so I didn't entirely get this film's concept - just like I probably won't understand if / how we get to 11+ wins.  

But in our 'ends justify the means' world, who cares?  We won't.  The film's financial backers certainly didn't... 

Brian M
John P
Pat B
11

Jerrence
Spit the       Elder
Jim S
Daryl M
Dave M
Peter B
Theo
Paul B

10

  



Speed
 If one viewed this film in greater esteem, I wouldn't disagree.  I mean, Keanu + Sandy Bullock + Dennis Hopper + Jeff Daniels?  Hello...

The point is, like this film, 10 wins would be considered very satisfying to if not all, a lot of folks,  including me.

JP
Raz
Dave G.
Lini
Bryan G
Tim C
Kevin C
Jay
Cincotta
Joe S
Bob J
Spit the  Younger
Jim B
Ward H
Jerry W
Tom F
Tim S
Mike G
Brian W
Dennis R
Ryan C


9


John Wick
 All you need to know is they killed his dog. Even for the professional hit man, that's harsh. 

All bets are off after that. 

Like this movie, a 9 win season will leave you conflicted - it could've been so much better.

But damn there's some fun bits mixed in.

Bill B.
Lindon
Jim T.
Jerry P
Mike C.
Joel G.
Blair
Garrett
Kevin M
Alex S
Graham
Gary H
Shea
Ungie

8



Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Will you be happy with a 'regression to the mean' type season?

Of course not.

Just like I had such high hopes for this film - utterly ridiculous in every way possible, where one walks out thinking "WTF was that?" -- similar to a 7-8 win season.

John L
Ray V
Alvin

7



6


Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
No one would ever call this great cinema but it was a bit of launching point for Keanu - and that's what one would hope 5 wins would be for ND... something to build on.


5



4 or less
  



The Replacements
Not, in fact, a bio-pic of the influential Minneapolis band (which, Keanu as Paul Westerberg would be BRILLIANT) - but rather a really bad football flick, even Keanu couldn't save this disaster.  

Honestly, there's no defense for this movie - just like a 4 win season.



Schedule - 2019

September
2      @ Louisville                W                    
14     New Mexico                W          
21    @ Georgia                     L                 
28    Virginia                        W                            

October
5      Bowling Green            W                           
12    USC                               W                                          
19     OPEN                                   
26   @ Michigan                  L                             

November
2      Va. Tech                       W                                  
9      @ Duke                        W                                  
16     Navy                            W
23    Boston College           W                             
30    @ Stanford                 W                    

December
28    Iowa State                  W

Schadenfreude of The Week

Just because one has let nearly a month slide since the final outcome of the season doesn't mean we can't still revel in the season-ending disappointment that so many of the nation's top programs have felt.

Losers! 

So without further ado, one last raise of the glass to those programs

1.  Clemson.  From time to time, I've wondered when will college football nation get tired of Dabo and Clemson's winning.  People like winners.  To a point.  And I think we hit that point. 

Granted, LSU was a really good story this year - between Joe Burrow and coach O (who should never coach anywhere else but LA ever) - but Clemson just seems to reload every year in a weak conference (whose poor strength of schedule did ND no favors this year).

This was good for college football.

2. Michigan.   In the spirit of 'do as I say, not as I do' I haven't quite gotten over the October debacle in Ann Arbor.  So seeing UM get put down by 'Bama applied a little psychic salve to those emotional wounds.  Very little, actually.  No one expected the Wolverines to win - they actually outplayed the Tide for a half.  

And to watch Shea Patterson regress only makes the aberrant performance against us all the more excruciating.  

3.  Oklahoma.   Stop me if you've heard this before:  the Sooners are now 0-4 in BCS playoff games, with average margin of defeat of 18 pts but no one gives them any grief about being frauds?  Maybe someone ought to start looking at the credibility of giving their QB's the Heisman every year... 

4.  Ohio State.   One could make a reasonable argument that this year's semi-final game, which the Buckeyes lost by six, was actually the national championship game.  

And yet, Buckeye Nation, no one cares. 

5.  USC.  I'm a year older and just as petty as when I was a sprightly 62. (My self-awareness, like a fine wine, only deepens w age.)   But unlike the Michigan game (perhaps conflicted because who likes seeing Alabama win either), seeing the Trojans get smoked by the home state Hawkeyes was just so... sweet.   

This after they're announcing they were retaining Helton as their coach.

Terry's Trolls


Truth be told, if I cared more about professional baseball, I could devote this entire list to the Houston Astros (and quite possibly the BoSox). And probably half a dozen other teams... the sport is quickly becoming the North American equivalent of international cycling - if you're not cheating, you're not trying.

Sadly, for better or worse, there's so many other idiots on the landscape outside of baseball to recognize - unfortunately a few uncomfortably closer to home than one would like.

So here goes...

1)  Jose Altuve   So many scoundrels, so little space.  Here's the thing:  I've always been able to rationalize PED usage by the pro's.  My working hypothesis is that these guys are so focused on getting an edge - they understand the razor-thin difference between success and failure at that level and maybe lose sight on the training side... things that'll make 'em stronger or heal quicker.  

Then there's this.  Out and out cheating. And yet, no contrition.   Verlander even jokes about the Astros 'technological expertise.'  Gives new meaning to the concept of the 5-tool player.

I wonder how one looks oneself in the mirror and still accepts the accolades? 

2)  Landen Bartleson.  Okay, when we said that we had some catching up to the SEC, this is not what we meant.  

More tragic than anything, here's a 18 year old Kentucky athlete who just kinda won the lottery - a full scholarship to ND that regardless of how his athletic career ended up could set him up for a promising future - and he blew it in the first month:

  • stolen car - check
  • burglary / break in - check
  • gun theft - check 
Ouch.  Given that he's 18, he'll be tried as an adult - he's in deep shit.  Beyond sad.

Preach, Robby. 
3)  Kelly Haters.  I know I should let go on this topic and yet...  This group, not small in size, hate the Tommy Rees hire (despite considerable evidence that this could work out very well), the Jurkovec transfer (despite him apparently showing very little in practice that he's ready to take over), the Bartleson flame out (despite there being an entire vetting organization that screens for fit).

And the great part is gonna be when Kelly retires in ~ 3 years, with the program in substantially better shape than when he arrived, this group will hate the new hire.


4) The British Royals.  For the record, I've never understood the world's fascination with Great Britain's royal family.  

I never even understood their citizenry fascination with it either.  

So this whole controversy about Meghan and Hezza declaring, "peace out" to this anachronistic silliness strikes me as both silly and a little perverse.

Hey Windsors, it might be time for you to re-think your organizational model.

5)  3 Arts Entertainment.  The production house of the new Call of the Wild movie.  WTF?!  This isn't Beethoven Goes to Alaska - Buck is a freaking sled dog, a husky or a malamute.  

Not since Tom Cruise and Matt Damon got grossly miscast as samurai has there been such culturally insensitive casting.   

Shameful.  Surely, Buddy is rolling over in his grave.

Harrison, I expected more literary integrity from you.  

Final Thought

Happy birthday (this week) to Jerrence's squaw wife of 34 years, Lap Dances With Wolves who texted a picture of Viggo Mortensen to him from her annual Sundance Film Festival volunteer fortnight.  The jpeg was accompanied with only these words:

Hall Pass.

Happy hunting, brave warrioress.

(Can you say 'restraining order'?)