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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Week 7: Enjoy Every Sandwich


Time stands still for Roland till he evens up the score...


Consider the score evened, Trojans. For at least one year.

So I can't think about ND-USC football without also being reminded of our Senior Class Trip to Los Angeles, where we played them for our final time as students.  And as painful as that particular game's outcome was - Paul McDonald so clearly fumbled, dammit! - there's also memories of Trader Vic's and ordering pina coladas.  None of our hair was perfect.

That was a wonderful trip.   Even as I met every morning with the Director of Student Affairs to take inventory of the mayhem created the night before.  Bad behavior by unknown class miscreants, 95% of whom I was either rooming with. Or would, at some point in my life.  Life is funny like that.



Ziggy zaggy, ziggy zaggy... hoy hoy hoy!

But the pleasure of those hijinks almost - almost! - paled in comparison to the talking-in-tongues near euphoria of Saturday night's game.  With the increasing possibility entering ND Nation's collective consciousness that, in fact, ND might actually be really, really good.  

And getting better.

Word of the Week

Used in a sentence:  As young Jerrence left Notre Dame stadium that evening, the night air redolent with accomplishment and the Yuengling he'd just spilled on his pullover (and, he would later find out, some of the mustard from his hot dog as well), he pondered the evanescent bravado of the 2017 USC football program.

Sure, SC played one of the most entertaining games of last year's bowl season, against a Penn State team who's proving they are the real deal.  And they had their usual stud QB - who'll ultimately progress to NFL mediocrity but god-like while still technically a student now. 


But with a seeming team-wide propensity for FIGJAM-like character and a raft of injuries to key players, by the third week of October, last year's promise looked like, well, last year.

It's a "what have you done for me lately" sport, boys. 

And if Saturday night is any indication, young Jerrence thought the Trojans to be running on empty.



Cocktail of the Week



Doesn't playing USC always feel like Good vs. Evil?  The Jedi Masters vs. The Dark Side?

Well not this year, Sith Nation!



Star Wars:  The Empire Likes Jack
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Directed by Irvin Keshner

In this second installment of this touchstone series, "World's Worst Dad" Darth Vader chases unsuspecting son Luke Skywalker across an entire galaxy - and not to hug it out; their light saber-swinging showdown is one of the fiercest fights ever filmed.


Though now considered so culturally significant as to feel inevitable, Empire was initially struck by struggles: miserable weather on location in Norway (hello, Hoth!), challenges in designing the then state-of-the-art extra special effects, and a director who'd never before handled a big-time budget.  (It all worked out, though, to the tune of half a billion bucks.) 

Tip your helmet to a dark-vs.-light libation that's hiding its own sweet secrets.
  • 8 oz. root beer
  • 1 tspn. vanilla extract
  • 2 oz. Jack Daniels
  • 1 scoop vanilla ice cream
Combine the root beer and vanilla in a mug and stir.  Add the Jack Daniels and ice cream.  May the heavy pour be with you.  


Quote of the Week

"We got clubbed like a baby seal..."

Kevin Bruce
Writer, WeAreSC.com


Yes, Kevin, yes you did.  Yet, unlike those unfortunate young marine mammals, no one feels the least bit conflicted about this.  And it may not be your last bludgeoning. 


Observations of the Game


Although these changes have come...





Good bye...
1.  I'd say we now have a pretty clear offensive identity.  Give the ball to Josh and get the hell out of the way.

2.  As my friend, the philosopher Al Brunett, use to say, "Where's Jerry Tillery and what have you done with him?"  Because someone - or something - else is inhabiting that body.

3.  Alizé Mack.  Another game, another drop.  And I've got my eye on you too, Equanimeous.  You haven't exactly been Fred Belitnikoff either.

4.  Because here's the thing, Wimbush is getting better.  But he's gonna need you to put a little more effort into catching the damn ball. 

5.   Here's the other thing - and not to be a total buzzkill but... I don't think USC is very good.  At all.  Granted, they were pretty banged up - some key players hurt - but not 35 pts. worth of depletion.


And does that make the beat down any less joyous?  I think not.

6.  Thats said, if Clapton is God, Elko is God-er.  ND's defense just comes to play every week.  It's like they know where they're supposed to go - almost every time!  Impressive. 

7. How about we also give it up for our punter, Tyler Newsome.   The guy is pretty much the picture of consistency. And his inside-the-red zone punts are magical.


So this is what 'making a play' looks like... 
8.   Because I am that big of a butthead, my favorite play of the night was after going up 42-14, we throw the flea flicker. How many times have we seen ND take their foot off the gas and give a team a couple cheap scores, only to have the national perception be that the game was closer than it was?  Screw that.  No more Mr. Nice Guys!


Raz, you wear this every week... Can you even see out of it?
9.  Before the game, Jack Jones, USC's CB/PR, called himself 'the best DB in the country...' Excuse me?  You may not even be the best DB on your team.

10.   The day - and the night - couldn't have been more perfect for a recruiting weekend.  Or just hangin' with friends.

11.  Kinda wish everyone wasn't jumping on the ND bandwagon quite yet.  One more week, please.


Buddy's Buddy


Clearly, there was more than just one candidate this week to be The Buddy.  

*Practically anyone on the DL.
*Practically anyone on the OL.
*Welcome back, Kevin Stepherson!


And then there's Greer Martini - blessed with arguably one of the great names in sport - a fine lad who just might want to get familiar with another moniker, Wally Pipps.

As in, "dude, you just got freakin' Wally Pipp'ed - 'cause we can't possibly be taking Te'von Coney out of the line up the way he's playing..." 


INCOMING!!!
And in this particular case, the numbers don't lie.  11 tackles, 1 sack, 2 tackle-for-loss, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1 QB hurry - he even made a Jimmy Johns delivery at half time - and one of those set-the-tone lay you out hits on a USC kickoff return.  

At least if I was coach that would happen.  


Schedule

September
2      Temple                      W        
9     Georgia                       L - inipalooza VII
16    @Boston College     W 
23    @Michigan State    W
30    Miami (OH)            W   

October
7      @UNC                       W
14                       
21    USC                            W        
28   NC State                    

November
4      Wake Forest                   
11     @Miami                     
18     Navy              
25    @Stanford




The Wager

Team '5 Wins', We Hardly Knew Ye.  

And Teams 8-10 are probably feeling a little more bullish on their chances...


Wins
Trumpian Rating
Contestant
12

Yuge.
Greatest Achievement,
In The History of The World.

Bryan G, Brian M, Joe S
11
Dave MRaz The Elder,
10



Failure.
Losers and Nut Jobs,
All Of ‘Em.
Terry, Jay, Lini, JP, John P, Phillip, Ted, Peter B, Daryl
9
Matt L, Graham C, Mark UShea CDennis RBob JJerry C
8
Dave G, Kevin C, Jim S, Jerry P, Tim S, Alex SJim B, Brian W,  Spittler the Elder, Blair
7
Bill B, Jim T, Tim C, Mike CMike G, Jerry W, Kevin M, Tom F,  Ryan CGarrett R
6
Ray V, Alvin B, John L, Randy Ri, Ward H
5
Jim R, Randy Ra,
4

3 or less




Schadenfreude of the Week 


The problem with Notre Dame getting their newfound respectability and maybe possibly a shot at playing in something meaningful after Christmas is...

...it really complicates the schadenfreude calculus.  Taking joy at other team's soul-sucking, spit-the-bit collapses is no longer so simple.  Take an ND fan's required attitude toward Georgia, for example.  We must cheer for their success in order to make our loss look better.  Ugh.

1.  Michigan.   Getting excited about Michigan losing is never complex, however.  And when they get rolled, even by Pennsyl-tucky State, it's bliss.  Edward G. Robinson - God Rest His Soul - would surely look at all the Wal-Mart Wolverines, point to smarmy coach Jim and ask, "where's your messiah now?"

2. USC.   Want to really embrace the schadenfreude concept?  Read some of the SC articles and message boards, like this and this.  

The wonderfully ironic thing, if we're being honest here, is you probably read the same delicious mix of vitriol and self-loathing on ND boards last year. 

4.  Florida State.  FSU loses and The One They Call Jimbo gets in a row with a fan?!  It just keeps getting better and better. For the record they are now 2-4 with Clemson and Florida still on their schedule.  Fun fact: last time their record was this poor was 2009, prophetically Bobby Bowden's last year.


Terry's Trolls




"1 - 2 - 3 - 4, cretins want to hop some more!
  4 - 5 - 6 - 7, all good cretins go to heaven.

There's no stopping the cretins from hoppin'..."



1.  LJ Scott / Mark Dantonio.   Starting RB for the MSU Spartans, arrested for the 7th time ("but coach, never convicted...") - IN THE LAST 1 1/2 YEARS!  This time for driving on a suspended license.  Was there any question he'd still play? Not really. 


LJ, do you even know where the BMV is?
Dantonio's reaction - "In what's been a lengthy process, LJ now has a valid license and has resolved the matter completely, having paid a price both financially, publicly and spiritually...."

Okay, I made the 'spiritual' part up.  What you don't see is him saying he paid any price athletically.  Of course not. (For the record, LJ had 87 yards on 22 carries.)


2. Rick Pitino   Hall of Fame Tool! Check that, ghoulish HoF tool.  And HoF sleazebag. HoF liar.  Who maintains not only his full innocence but that of Bruce Bowen, the 5-star HS kid who the FBI thinks his family took $100k to go the Louisville.  Coach Rick said, "I believe he chose UL because I know he loves the school..."

So... you don't think the hookers and the cash had anything to do with it?

3.  Jim Wolf .    I'm sorry but I have to call out the home plate umpire who got a 'no foul tip' call right in the penultimate Cubs - Dodgers NLCS game - then got TALKED OUT OF IT BY THE 3RD BASE UMP!  God lord, where's the courage of your convictions?  

The funniest part was them showing the replay on the Wrigley Jumbotron, fans screaming for him to look and he steadfastly refused... "nah nah nah nah I can't hear you!"  Funny because it ultimately had no impact on the game.  But still, if you're umping a playoff game, aren't you supposed to be one of the better guys at your craft?

Ask him to play some Velvet Underground - the tramadol just kicked in...
4.  Dallas Seavey.  Who?  By all accounts the first known cheater ever in the 1000 mile Alaskan Iditarod race.  And a 4-time winner to boot!  

Mr. Seavey had four dogs test positive for a banned pain reliever after the March race, curiously with his name only being released now. 

Buddy loved a good White Russian as much as the next man but... opioids?  That's low. 

5.  Doug Flutie Haters.  My annual plea:  Give. It. A. Rest.  Is he very good as a football analyst?  Not really.  Is he hired to strike a reasonable balance between ND and opponent in his commentary?  Absolutely.  What about that don't you grasp? Your on-line rants about him are just sooo boring.

(I will say this - I thought Brock Huard was fantastic two weeks ago, doing the UNC game.)

Final Thought


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Week 6: Now It Gets Interesting

And it gives me hope, to see you there
The things I used to know, that one fine day...


Did you know that one of the traits of Type B personalities is that they'll take as much possible time as they're given to deliver whatever it is they're tasked with?  Not so much procrastination as the near pathological need to keep revising and revising... fine-tuning... amending... until they feel they've got it right.  Then before they hit 'send' they say 'can I see that one more time?'  At which point someone has to say, "No Jerrence, you can't." 

So, with no football game this weekend I've taken my damn sweet time, letting thoughts
percolate, as it were.  And believe you me, it's a slow drip.  

At any rate, all the down time sent me in The Wayback Machine... thinking about the myriad of teaching aids one used with your children, books mostly, but movies/videos as well. And of course, CD's for the musical education. 

In England during the early-to-mid '90s, there was any number of oddities that appealed to our girls, and were seemingly embraced as 'kid-friendly', including-but-not limited-to such characters as Mr. Blobby and the Little Miss and Mister books, short digestible little parables - there were 30 or 40 of 'em, told in simple but bright, primary colors that would presumably leave both parent and child on the same page as far as proper behavior to be modeled.


Except, some of the characters, even with their simple little line art personas, were kinda... assholes... and perhaps a little bit scary - which might ultimately require some focused re-programming of one's progeny. 

The point is sometimes things turn out very differently that one suspects, even when you think you have all the relevant details.

So when over half of the wager pool thinks ND's team will only make to 8 wins, when the team is already at 5, does that suggest this year might be similarly different than most originally envisioned?

And are six data points even enough to make a sound judgment re ND Football 2017?  As a Packer fan, I found, to rather cruel effect, that football remains a sport where one's fortunes can turn on a single injury. 

So maybe not.  But, hey, so far so good. 


Word of the Week
Used in a sentence:  When young Jerrence's considered the 2017 State of The Notre Dame Football Season at it's midway point, he pondered the meretricious nature of their present 5-1 start.
 
Sure, it was probably better than many (most?) had anticipated, discounting the tinfoil hat-wearing 12-0 loons that he knew were out there.


But with a seemingly daunting 2nd half schedule in front of them and a team full of kids who hadn't experienced sustained success at this level, what if they crashed and burned?

That early success would be deemed ephemeral, written off as yet another program disappointment as the metaphorical torches and pitchforks come out for the team's leadership. 



Cocktail of the Week


Blade Rummer
Blade Runner (1982)
Directed by Ridley Scott
A noir detective tale filtered through the smoggy neon of a dystopian Los Angeles (editor's note: is there any other?), Blade Runner cast Harrison Ford as a retired cop who dons a badge again to hunt down a few delinquent bad boys.  Good luck finding them, however:  In the future, man has created "replicants" who look just like us.  (Today we call them millennials.)

Originally deemed too sleepy by audiences who like their sci-fi served fast, Blade has since cut a path as a sleeper hit - due in part to a handful of director's cut releases, the most recent which found Ridley Scott nixing most of Ford's narration and trusting today's audiences to fill in the gaps. 

Shake up your own slow night with this one-and-only recipe you'll be cloning into the distant future.  Seconds, everyone?

  • 1 orange slice
  • 1 pineapple wedge
  • 1 cherry
  • 1 oz. spiced rum
  • 1 oz. light rum
  • 1 oz. raspberry liqueur
  • 1 oz.  crème de banane liqueur
Muddle the fruits in a shaker.  Add the remaining ingredients and ice to the shaker.  Shake vigorously - and then drink right out of the metal canister for a futuristic freeze.   


Quote of the Week


"If Hannibal Lecter ran a 4.3, we'd probably diagnose it as an eating disorder..."

Steve Keim
GM, Arizona Cardinals


The same can be said for college ball.  And with such vigilant watchdogs as the NCAA, one can only hope the FBI feels more of this stuff falls within their purview.


Observations of the Game


Still in flow and I'm low to the ground...

From the entire day - and halfway through the season. 


1.  Ian Book wasn't too bad.  But if the passing game doesn't get better prepare yourself for going 3-3 the rest of the year.

2.  I'm beginning to wonder whether the passing routes are part of the problem.   Too basic? 

3.  Six games in, my patience is running out with Alizé Mack.  Wasn't he supposed to be The Second Coming of Kellen Winslow?  Not so much.

4.   UNC was (is) really, really bad.  Shockingly inept.  I suppose one can attribute that to all the injuries they've sustained.  We know it's not because they're spending time hitting the books.


5.  I wondered whether this 6th game, early October, right before mid-terms, is just a time where the players are running on fumes mentally.  Back up QB aside, everything looked like a struggle for 'em.

6. Yikes, ND is legitimately 4 deep at RB.  And maybe 5.  Keep that mind next week, coach, as you might want to be mindful of keeping Darnold & Co. on the sidelines as much as possible. 
In Mike We Trust...

8.  Still love this defense.  They aren't the most talented but the effort always seems to be there.  Never quits.  Still getting used to the idea that they actually seem to get better in 2nd half... 

9.   So much for red zone offensive perfection.

10.  Nothing to do w our play but... does anyone else coming to the conclusion that, outside of Bama, no one's particularly exceptional this year?


Buddy's Buddy


For a game that was really kinda meh - the thought of calling out Dabo Sweeney for his incredibly classy post-game after his team pulled a USC and failed to show u- but I thought better of that.

Enter Deon McIntosh of the McIntosh apple fortune.

Okay, that last bit is complete rubbish - and how much money can there be in apples anyway - but I wonder if he ever pulls
that at parties?  I would. 

But I digress.  He's, at best, running #3a or #3b on the depth chart and he looked like a reasonable #1... running for 124 yards on a mere 12 carries, with 2 TD's.  

For, like, a half of the game.  Sweet.  Probably helps to be running behind a line where most of them will be playing on Sundays but still, impressive.

Schedule

September
2      Temple                      W        
9     Georgia                       L - inipalooza VII
16    @Boston College     W 
23    @Michigan State    W
30    Miami (OH)            W   

October
7      @UNC                       W
14                       
21    USC                
28   NC State                    

November
4      Wake Forest                   
11     @Miami                     
18     Navy              
25    @Stanford




The Wager

Team '5 Wins', take solace.  There's not a sure win on the schedule for the rest of the year.


Wins
Trumpian Rating
Contestant
12

Yuge.
Greatest Achievement,
In The History of The World.

Bryan G, Brian M, Joe S
11
Dave MRaz The Elder,
10



Failure.
Losers and Nut Jobs,
All Of ‘Em.
Terry, Jay, Lini, JP, John P, Phillip, Ted, Peter B, Daryl
9
Matt L, Graham C, Mark UShea CDennis RBob JJerry C
8
Dave G, Kevin C, Jim S, Jerry P, Tim S, Alex SJim B, Brian W,  Spittler the Elder, Blair
7
Bill B, Jim T, Tim C, Mike CMike G, Jerry W, Kevin M, Tom F,  Ryan CGarrett R
6
Ray V, Alvin B, John L, Randy Ri, Ward H
5
Jim R, Randy Ra,
4

3 or less




Schadenfreude of the Week 


As Notre Dame's fortunes pivot from a "Let's rebound from the nightmare that was 2016" head space through the "We're not a joke! We're not a joke!" mentality to now possibly the "Hey, why not us?  No one else is exactly tearing it up" consideration... it leaves us w two paths for this section's candidates:  1) those that benefit ND's rise to the Top 10 and 2) those that, well, we just really dislike.  And when those two converge...


1.  Michigan.   Between losing to Michigan State - at The Big House - and being taken to OT by Indiana this week, can we all agree this team is a mortal lock for Most Over-Ranked, Over-Hyped Team of 2017?  If next week's game against Penn State wasn't already 2017's first "Larry Corrigan Root For A Tie With Lots of Injuries", I'd say watch this for the debacle of UM getting spanked.

2. Clemson.  I suppose it's not their fault that they shrewdly picked a Saban disciple as their coach and then built the Taj Mahal of football complexes, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.  Their loss probably doesn't help ND all that much but it is gratifying to see other teams have trouble keeping their 18-20 year olds focused every week.  We might want to keep it in mind
Get used to disappointment, kid...

3.  Teams #5, #8 and #10.  Washington, Washington St. and Auburn all go down.  I suspect this isn't an aberration.   Keep winning ND!

4.  Florida State.  I can't leave them out even as they won - barely - vs. Duke this past week.  They've already lost 3 and still have Louisville and Clemson left.

Terry's Trolls

This was a banner couple weeks for observing the gamut of bad behavior, in and outside of the parochial confines of football.  

The stupid.
The evil.
The corrupt.
The morally bankrupt.

But enough about the NCAA...


1.  NCAA.  Actually not enough.  I know I (still) take sports too seriously.  And I naively believe in meritocracies.  But for the love of God, UNC perpetrates the biggest academic fraud in modern sports history and they're hit with... nothing?  ND self-reports a handful of kids who had some essays written for them and we're vacating a season's worth of wins?   I just want to cry.  


2. US Men's Soccer.  No country on the planet has the resources that we have.  We also might have the best young player in the world.  The sport has never been more popular than it is now.  And we can't even qualify for the World Cup -  losing to Trinidad & Tobago?! What, was Captain Jack Sparrow playing?

3.  Harvey Weinstein.    Um, if this has to be explained to you, two things:  

1) I now know why you understand nothing of what I write

2) you need to read / watch more than just the WSJ and Fox News.



4.  Sucker Punch Carolina Panthers fan.   For starters, to stand in your seat for the whole freaking game - and consciously block the view of the guys behind you - is a total dick move to begin with.  Then to sucker punch, the 62 yr. old guy who called you out for doing so... whatever happened to respecting your elders?  And by the way, they were both Panther fans.

4.  John Farrell.  Honestly, I have no idea what you did wrong but to get fired from the Red Sox manager's gig, it must've been something colossally stupid. One of the premier MLB franchises set up to win for a long, long time.  (And they can't blame David Price on you.)  Especially since the GM said it had nothing to do with wins and losses.  Unless it did.

Final Thought

Apparently, I've become my daughter's literary museHappy I could help, Shea.  

Given how often I single out her UM Wolverines when they lose, this could justifiably qualify as her definition of schadenfreude, family edition. 

Regarding her last tip in the article, for you history buffs... there's a new Churchill biopic coming in November that Gary Oldman is already getting Oscar buzz for.  Now that my Sunday's are free, I'm gonna be all over that bad boy.