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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Week 4 (2012): They Don't Ask 'How', They Ask 'How Many'

"There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It's an area which we call the 'A' Lot... " 

4th Quarter.  2:35 left.  “Cut it like a knife” tension is palpable and I… I am suddenly transported back in time to Spring, 1978.  North Dining Hall. The finals of Famous Deaths In Food where, as the title suggests, contestants recreate famous deaths through the medium of the dining hall’s ever changing food offering. And through the prelims, the competition definitely brought its ‘A’ game, - Jayne Mansfield, Marilyn Monroe, JFK but highlighted by:

  • Perez and his interpretation of “The Assasination of Czar Nicholas & Alexandria and Their Hemophiliac Son” – exploiting the near limitless availability of foodservice ketchup.  Poignant.
  • McLean and his “Shower Scene From ‘Psycho’” – utilizing a hollowed out baked potato filled with mixed vegetables, a butter knife and crucially, the gap in his teeth to squirt water while relentlessly stabbing.  Unnerving.
  • The recreation of “The Poseidon Adventure” and one contestant’s willingness to get drenched in a tsunami of cola. Courageous. 

After a solid prelim performance - recreating the cautionary myth, “Icarus” (a lemon sun, a couple leaves of iceberg lettuce, a bowl of water and a perfect 10 pt. splash from 2’ above) - it was no time for me to play it safe.  And so, with a SRO crowd including the Head of the Dining Hall (“this isn’t wasting your food, sir, this is… an homage”), much had been said, the time was now.

The finals were not without controversy (“wait a minute - Jonah never died in the Whale!”) but with focus maintained, I lead off with “David vs. Goliath” (mash potato giant, an army of green bean Philistines and a solitary pea finding its mark, tossed out of a straw’s paper sheath) and finished off with “The Lynching of Benito Mussolini” (powerful in its stark simplicity – think tea bag hanging noose and the plaintive cry of “Il Duce!  Il Duce!”).   Not perfect but victory was mine.

I am Mr. Famous Deaths.  The once and future king.

And so it was for the Irish Saturday night. Rising up to the moment. Meeting pressure head on. And on that crucial 3rd-and-4 pass to Tyler Eifert, I believe Kelly found his inner Benito.

Not a pretty game but since this is not Olympic gymnastics, style points don't really matter, do they?

Song of the Week
In tribute to the inaugural 'official' tailgater of the season, with a (nearly) complete quorum of the Spanish Armada of cars 'n hosts taking their usual places along Notre Dame Avenue sidewalk.  The breadth and depth of offering is, as always, spectacular.  Bonnie's sausage concoction makes the taste buds explode.  And Peter's specially treated vodka, while admittedly looking like human waste, makes the foundation for The World's Greatest Bloody Mary. Minutes later, okay maybe it was hours... who could tell... it was on to fried chicken, panini's, german sausages with possibly Grey Poupon... All the while getting reacquainted with my 2nd favorite UM fan, Paul (who apparently travels nowhere without at least six gallons of Long Island Ice Tea).

"And all the world is football-shaped
It's just for me to kick in space
And I can see, hear, smell, touch, taste
And I've got one, two, three, four, five
Senses working overtime
Trying to take this all in..."

It was, in a word, wonderful sensory overload.

Word of the Week
  • transitive verb \ˈek-spər-ˌgāt\
  • ex·pur·gat·ed ex·pur·gat·ing
  1. to cleanse of something morally harmful, offensive, or erroneous; especially
  2. to expunge objectionable parts from before publication or presentation <an expurgated edition of the letters> 
— ex·pur·ga·tion  noun
— ex·pur·ga·tor  noun

They felt it was necessary to expurgate his letters before publishing them.
<the newspaper had to expurgate the expletive-laden speech that the criminal made upon being sentenced to life imprisonment>

  • Latin expurgatus, past participle of expurgare, from ex- + purgare to purge
  • First Known Use: 1678
Used in a sentence, "Notre Dame's surprising 5 turn over effort represented a fitting, final expurgation of the eight year Denard Robinson Experience."

Random Observations Of The Game
- Ted's engaged!  Woo hoo! This is gonna be a GREAT day.
- Irish Car Bomb desserts!  We now have the alcoholic dessert food group covered.
- Daughter Shea arrives with her UM fans... nice and seemingly normal until they start gravitating toward Cincotta.  Before long he is leading them in making human pyramids... oh boy.

1st Quarter
  • Temple loses to Penn State.  Blast!  Not a good sign.
  • UM trick play on the 2nd down of the game.  Not exactly an expression of confidence for your base offense.
  • Golson throws INT on 1st ND play.  And Kelly... doesn't explode.  Hmmm.
  • Tuitt is a beast.
  • Denard, when he gets going, can get from pt. A to pt. B really fast.

2nd Quarter
  •  Batting .500 in baseball is god-like.  In punting, not so much, Ben.
  • Tough quarter for Everett.  Poor throws, worse decisions.  
  • Apparently Denard is trying his hardest to either empathize w EG.  Or make him feel A LOT better about himself.  What a guy.
  • Mayock:  "ND's inability to tun is putting a lot of pressure on their QB's..."  Ya think?

"Hurry, Judy!  We're going to be late for the
Impressionist exhibit at the Musee D'Orsay..."

Meanwhile, somewhere on the Seine...

3rd Quarter - 
  • Tommy starts.  No surprise. 
  • This being Year 125 for ND, both teams apparently agreed at halftime to reenact their original 1880's epic battle and treat the forward pass like it's illegal.  Or immoral. 
  • When did Zeke Motta get this good?
4th Quarter - 

"Where's Cierre?!"
  • Our young DB's are not afraid to hit.
  • Mystery Science Theater 2012:  why no Cierre, at all?
  • Denard gets hit a lot. Hard.  One tough kid.
  • How cool is it that a true freshman - named Sheldon no less - makes arguably the play of the game?

Summary Thoughts
  • Usually when teams say 'we didn't lose, we beat ourselves' that nominates them for immediate toolhood.  But this might be one game where that analysis might have some credibility.
  • So what.
  • Our defense - it may not be 'Bama.  But they're pretty good. Above average. UM made a lot of mistakes but it's not giving ND's defense enough credit for the solid strategy and the consistent pressure they put on Denard.
  • On the other side of the coin, our O-line is thoroughly average. At best.
  • Here's what I think you need to know about Brian Kelly and his "QB philosophy 2.0":  It's all about production. He doesn't coddle, doesn't care about fragile psyches. I do believe he wants Golson to be The Guy. But he's not gonna do it at the expense of losing a game. Nothing personal. Just business.   
  • Still don't understand our play calling philosophy:  aggressive when we're playing away, conservative when we're playing at home.  Hmmm.
  • One game at a time.

If This Week's Game Were A Movie Poster, It'd Be... The Hunger Games

"The World Will Be Watching"

Irrespective of the lack of aesthetics to Saturday's performance, it probably can't be understated how important it was to win Saturday night's game. Prime time national audience, marquee rival opponent with a a guy who was Heisman trophy candidate just three weeks ago -  someone's who historically burned you in a variety of torturous ways.  Lose and you go back to poser status. Win and meaningful credibility is gained with both the media, peers and those 18 yr. old's whose favor you're still trying to get to bring their talents to South Beach Bend.

Which leads us to...

As most you know, the team was already at 20 commits - using the term extraordinarily loosely - before the game, with Michigan being probably the Big weekend this year.  Lots of kids on campus, committed and still looking, class of  '13 and '14.  Winning doesn't necessarily guarantee anything (hostesses do!)... But it sure doesn't hurt.

Our best recruiter?

The number is now up to 21 with Torii Hunter's commitment and seemingly no more than 3-4 spots left.

  • The good news:  when you win, lots of great players find you interesting
  • The bad news:  you can't take them all.
  • What they're looking for:  CB, DE, RB, P*
Stay tuned.

* Before you say WTF, have you watched Turk punt?

Buddy's buddy

Let's just throw out the thought of any consideration for anyone on offense, okay?  Tommy steadied the ship, made a couple throws, showed he could hand off with the best of 'em... and without wholly discounting that contribution, no. This game was about the defense.  A case could be made for the secondary, what with all the timely INT's and fumble recoveries. And Danny Spond was a total revelation. But this game seemed to be showcased by one guy imposing his will...  seemingly being in the right place at the right time, repeatedly.  Plus there's the whole 'Angels in the Outfield' thing going on... Manti, there's no doubt Buddy's up there cheering you on with all your other loved ones. Even if he hasn't the slightest clue what's actually going on.

Tool Time
"We're not monsters. We're just ahead of the curve."
Occasionally, one gets asked the question of "Nature or Nuture" when it comes to tools.  Are they, in fact, tragically born that way or is there some triggering event that sent them down a darker, more irritating path?  This week, the evidence points to something genetic:

Lane Kiffin.  To quote Eddie Vedder, "born on 3rd base, thinks he hit a triple...", Laney has had an athletic career fast-tracked for him forever.  But it would appear the magnitude of the SC job (and the expectations) are getting to him. This week, a seemingly innocuous question regarding injury status lead him to run from his media update after 40 seconds!  You are the epitome of Poise and Professionalism.

Steve Spurrier.   Let's face it, you just know Steve was a d*** right out of the womb.  Probably captain and star of every sport he ever picked up, he's never been used to not getting his way.  As evidenced by his interpersonal skills with the media.  Whereas Lane is just deer-in-the-headlights inept, Steve is just a... douche.  Has a weekly Sunday morning teleconference, pastes Missouri and then decides after an opening statement to just. Hang. Up.  Alrighty then.  Maybe he was late for his tee time.

Golden Tate.   Proof that not all ND alums make you proud.  The Maple Donut Thief is the beneficiary of the worst blown call in a weekend of awful officiating - good for you, G-man - but in the resultant interview, when asked about his blatant push off, he answers, "Don't know what you're talking about."  Dude, the game's over. Man up.

Roger Goodell, NFL Owners.  Two words:  replacement refs.  Ugh. And then to have to watch smarmy Pete Carroll prance all over the field.  "Lisa, fetch the hot pokers for my eyes..."

Schadenfreude Winner.
Week 4 in college football... game start to get a little bit more interesting. Some more than others:

  1. Oklahoma.  It's not that I intrinsically dislike you so much - not at least since the Barry Switzer years - but I have to take some joy in now believing the Norman game isn't totally hopeless.
  2. BYU.   Far be it from me to criticize low scoring games but the fact that your coach went for 2 - late - instead of going for the tie and OT, makes me feel go that we won't be losing the intellectual battle when we play in a few weeks.
  3. Clemson.  Okay, I'll just put this out there:  I don't believe your recent resurgence, on and off the field, is on the total up and up.  So even though you lost to someone I like less*, it's still a victory for us on the moral soapbox.
*FSU, who also did something nice this week in committing to honoring a scholarship for a recruit who suffered a career-ending injury.

     2012 Schedule.
1    @Navy (Dublin)            W
8    PURDUE                       W
15  @MSU                          W
22  MICHIGAN                  W
6    MIAMI (Soldier Field)*
20  BYU
27 @Oklahoma
3      PITT
10    @BC
24    @USC
*Linipalooza III

Wager 2012.
Now's probably a good time to say that if your name is highlighted in yellow below, I've got you recorded as having paid this year's $25 wager fee. A lot of money was being handed me last weekend so if I missed anyone, give me a shout.

The fans of "Departed" territory are not looking good.  But, as always, eight games still to play.


ND-Scorsese connection 

Contestant’s prediction



Sweet, compelling mystery that shows the virtues of faith and resilience. Everyone walks away happy and pleasantly surprised.


JP, Lini, Dave


Awesome film about fulfilling one’s potential and realizing your dreams… even if it is becoming a gangster.  (Q.  Does ending in Witness Protection qualify as a happy ending?)
Bryan, Ted, Ray, Tim S, Bob S

Jay, John, PeterRazKevin M, Tim C, Mark

Jerry C, Matt, Jerry W, Jim B, Tom, Mike C, Jim T, Mike G
Garrett R

The Departed

A terrific story about two Boston Irishmen’s different destinies set from childhood. So very close to a happy ending. And yet, so far.
TerryJim SJerry P, Brian, Blair R

Kevin C, Alvin, Randy



Taxi Driver

Mentally unstable Viet Nam vet w. wildly unrealistic delusions of heroism.  He’s a total loser, albeit an incredibly   dangerous one. Sadly everybody knows it (incl. Rick Reilly) but him.




Final Thought #1

I apologize to my daughter and all her very cool, very nice UM friends.  But I cater to a decidedly lowbrow audience which leads me to do things of which I'm not always proud.

Plus I have 3 years of UM losses, totaling a cumulative :40 of clock left, that I'm still working through.

My therapist says this is good for me to get this out.


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