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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Week 10 (2012): (Un)familiar Territory

"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... " 

10 – 0.  I gotta ask… none of you made a Faustian pact with The Devil?   

Boston.  As many of you know, I spent two wonderful years there.  And while I remember only a fractional amount of what actually occurred, through the power of modern technology – photographs! – and oral histories passed down by generally reputable folk, this town has a lot of significance for me.  A few of you lived there as well and those of you who came to visit… well, it’s safe to say you’re returned home… changed.  Perhaps not Kafka-esque although I saw more than a few of you assume giant bug-like behavior... 

The point is this:  you go to Boston – especially in our case, practically in the shadows of BC's Chestnut Hill campus – you take your chances with what’s going to happen next.  Invariably, it’s not entirely what you expect. We used to consider that entertainment. Personally, I was just happy to get out of there with my sanity (and my Elephant Man costume).  

With that as a personal point of departure, Saturday's night performance... while a tad disappointing (I had predicted a 56-3 outcome) was neither wholly surprising nor grounds for extreme weeping 'n wailing 'n gnashing of teeth.  We're still undefeated.  Even more in the national championship conversation than last week and as long the team keeps winning, willing to take our chances with how things turn out.

Song of the Week

Here’s how my mind works… Raz gives me this terrific book, “Mansion On The Hill”, about the advent of the rock music industry and early on in it, there’s an anecdote about Stephen Stills meeting Neil Young and creating Buffalo Springfield and later, Crosby-Still-Nash-Young.  So as I’m hanging Christmas lights this week, voila! CSN gets dialed up on the iPod with this song, Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, having particular resonance as ND Nation continues to overlook the 10-0 start and fixate on the perceived underwhelming manner of the wins. 

I believe the song was originally a lament over a deteriorating relationship, perhaps irreparably broken.  Picture coach Kelly, actually any ND head football coach, addressing the fan base.  Only in Year 3, the team - with two regular season games left - has already exceeded expectations by 50%.  And ND Nation still grouses...

It's getting to the point where I'm no fun anymore
I am sorry.
Sometimes it hurts so badly I must cry out loud
I am lonely.
I am yours, you are mine. You are what you are.
You make it hard…

We make it hard indeed.  It's no wonder that not even the successful coaches make it past a decade here. 

Word of the Week

BATHOS    ba·thos
noun \ˈbā-ˌthäs\

1a   the sudden appearance of the commonplace in otherwise elevated matter or style
  b   anti-climax

2   exceptional commonplaceness : triteness
3   insincere or overdone pathos : sentimentalism

  • Greek, literally, depth
  • First Known Use: 1727
Synonyms: sentimentality, gooeyness, mawkishness, mush, mushiness, saccharinity, sloppiness...

Used in a sentence... The value of Notre Dame winning impressively was undermined by the bathos of their workmanlike performance. 

Random Observations Of The Game

"Kirk, with smart phone penetration
eclipsing 70% and higher among
18-24 yr. olds, there's a 90% chance..."

Herbie & Brent, sporting a tie he’s clearly saved from the 50’s. 
*  And of course, Heather.  Your hair remains its own life force.
The announcers are all over the ‘Bama loss and its effect on ND tonight. Brent is like Rain Man:  “I can’t believe in this new-fangled world of texting and the internet blah blah blah, these boys don’t know…” , 
      --  Easy pardner, we don’t want to have to sedate you quite yet.  At least not before the 4th quarter.
                           *  Tonight’s viewing companion is Talisker.  

1st Quarter

Drive #1:  95 yds. Golson run.  ND, 7-0. That looked pretty easy.  And BC looked pretty bad.
The Corrigan girls, Spiffy and Snazzy...
Spiffy Evans, “not such a spiffy return.”  Brent has brought his ‘A’ game tonight
    Had I known Spiffy was a viable naming option, things might’ve gone much differently for my children. 
Chase Rettig, fired up to meet Brent.  If that doesn't put a BC education into context... 
There’s that irritating screen pass again.
And again.
Will someone please start covering that little RB?!
Oh great, the poster boy for steroids-addled lunacy, Bill Romanowski, gets his own informercial.  What next, reality TV?

    2nd Quarter

    Drive #2:  looking easy. The fumble looked pretty effortless too.
    Misdirection really hurting ND.  Give it up for BC, they’re calling a pretty smart game, offensively.  Taking advantage of ND’s aggressiveness.
    Stating the obvious:  Eifert has INCREDIBLE hands.
    --  Possible NFL late 1st round landing spots for him next year:  Giants, Pack, Bears, Falcons.
    A head coach with a nickname of Spaz?  Doesn’t that just command respect.
    *  Our center has perfected The Art of The False Start - when he's the one who starts the play!  HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?!
    Everett!  Don’t ya just love a QB that can run?
    Alert the media!  Tommy throws to someone other than Tyler? (Does that count as a trick play?)
    *  Extremely generous spot for Golson on critical 3rd and goal.
        Nice pass and catch to Niklas.  ND, 14-3

    *  The Brent Musberger Drinking Game - check it out here
          o    Warning: it's long, complicated and conceivable that every participant could be passed out by halftime. Not a game one should attempt by yourself with scotch, pardner. 

    o  This could be the perfect USC game activity. Especially if things so south. 

    3rd Quarter

            *  Perfect pass to Daniels. Should’ve been a TD, instead it’s a broken clavicle.
      *  ND’s offense continues to make it look easy.
      *  Brent’s memory just kicked in.
        Golson to John Goodman.  ND, 21-3. . Coming off his strong supporting roles in ‘Argo’ and ‘Flight’, Goodman’s had a phenomenal autumn.
      *  I suspect BC is going to pass for the rest of the game.
      *  I miss Ben Turk. No, I don’t.  And sure enough, here he comes…
      * 10 games into the season, our DB’s continue to tackle sooo well.
      *  Shembo & Spond.  Are they like Yin & Yang?  Or Chang & Eng? Whatever – they complete me.

    4th Quarter

       *  I don’t know if this is the Talisker talking but I’m seeing cows parachute from the sky.
    Theo fumbles.  There goes your Buddy Award candidacy.  And Kelly is not happy.
    And Brent is just babbling.
    Camera shows BK advising EG about a poor 3rd down pass...nice of you, coach but my question is why can’t you just call plays that put him in less obvious passing situations?   
    Shembo is unblockable.
    Tuitt!  And Brent mispronounces his name.  Perfect.  You. Are. So. Awesome.

    Summary Thoughts

    If anyone had any doubts before this weekend, you shouldn't now:  Kelly really doesn't give a hoot about style points.  And after his first two years of Murphy’s Law, who can blame him for focusing purely on just getting the 'W'?  Hey, they're #3 with a couple weeks to play...
    Golson played great. Not just good. Great.  He certainly wasn't the reason the score was as close as it was (something I largely attribute to the inopportune fumbles and conservative play calling.)
    Incidentally, for those wondering how Everett stacks up, here’s his 9-game stats vs. some historical peers’ 1st year performances.  Not too shabby.

    Year I                            Passing            %       Yds.    TD       INT     QBR
    E. Golson                     131 – 226        58.0     1572     8           4        124.5
    J. Clausen                    138 - 245         56.3     1254     7           6        103.9
    B. Quinn                      157 - 332         47.3     1831     9         15         93.5
    R. Powlus                    119 – 222         53.6    1729    19          9        139.2

                This, of course, doesn’t even begin to capture his value running...

    *   Very impressed with the patience of the offense.  Most defenses who play a ‘bend but don’t break’ style challenge an offense to string together 10-12 positive plays in a row in order to score.  Most can’t.  Not only can ND do it, they look really comfortable doing it.  (Almost too comfortable at the end of the first half when they nearly ran out of time.)
    Shembo is a freakin' force. And on a broader point, he is one of several guys (e.g. Spond, Ishaq, Russell) who keep getting better every week.
    This team seems to play to the level of their competition. Kinda maddening at times. But given what’s in front of them – USC, BCS bowl opponent – that’s probably cause for optimism. 

    "Um, Ms. Harding, I know you've been out of the
    business for awhile but I was wondering if you
    might consider taking on one last project..."
     *  Part of that is surely credit to the opponents who are coming in not only fired up but willing to throw anything into the game plan.  We’ve got a team that’s learning what it’s like to go into games against teams that have nothing to lose.
    John Goodman, time to step up.
    USC still scares the bejesus out of me. Or rather their offense does.  Actually it’s pretty much Marquise Lee. While I can't wait to see what Diaco dials up, scheme-wise, I wouldn't be sad if he came down with an inopportune injury...

    If This Week's Game Were A Movie Poster, It'd Be... Me, Myself & Irene

    "From Gentle To Mental"

    Let's face it, this team is a bit schizophrenic.  Out of 10 games, how many have they played where both sides of the ball showed up?  Maybe 2.

    And BC was just another example:  1st half all offensive dominance while the defense seemed content to let BC run (successfully) every misdirection play in their book.  2nd half, just about the opposite: D shows up, O (perhaps due to conservative play calling) goes into a shell.

    Like I said, a little schizo
    Buddy's buddy

    Everett played a near flawless game but I’m not making him our first three-peat. After all, Buddy’s favourite expression was ‘moderation in everything, including moderation’ which was especially apropos after one time, late in his life, I caught him drinking my White Russian after he already took his pain pill. “Don’t go all Keith Richards on me, Bud” I thought to myself...

    But I digress.

    Consideration was also given to Theo Riddick – the guy just does everything really well and really hard – until the fumble.  Sorry, Theo. 

    And as the game got a little dull and the single malt kicked in, the thought was how about Jay as an out-of-the-box nominee?  An ‘A’ Lot pillar who’s demonstrated some extraordinarily innovative thinking on how to use the pool money for The Greater Good. God knows, he demonstrated uncommon patience and stiff upper lip through The Bobby Valentine Experiment.  Plus I was quite taken with the notion of ‘paying it forward’… recognition now for the win he will surely secure for us over Thanksgiving weekend.  Buddy would've loved him.

    Ultimately, we went with performance now – and alignment with coach Kelly who gave his game ball to Prince Shembo.  Three sacks and a fourth tackle for loss... as BC apparently focused on Tuitt and Te'o, this defense could definitely use another impact guy.  Keep it up!

    Portrait Of The Artist
    As A Young Tool
    Tool Time

    1.  Lane Kiffin.  He proves that being a Grade A Tool is a 24 / 7 commitment.  This week brought the revelation that a 'rogue' student manager was caught under-inflating footballs during the Oregon game for the express purpose to aid passing and catching.  As if Barkley and Lee need the extra assistance.  The outlaw manager was duly dismissed but does anyone seriously think this guy acted on his own? If you haven't already read the ridiculous story, you can find it here
    2.  Mike Leach.  For a guy's whose track record in 'player relations' is not especially strong, he certainly throw caution to the wind. Washington State's best WR leaves the team and accuses the coaching staff of persistent 'physical, emotional and verbal abuse.' Classic he said - she said but what makes one go 'hmmm' is that the WR has a lot to lose - he's NFL draftable this year and quitting on your team isn't typically a resume builder...  Plus, there's Leach, an undeniable tool.
    3.  Jim Buss.  I'm not even a fan of the NBA, at least not until May, but firing a guy after 5 games requires recognition. Especially when you tee up his replacement - the 11 championship former coach of the team - tell him he's got til Monday to decide whether he wants the job.  Then pull the rug out from under him by hiring someone else.  That's not even the best part - you woke up your former coach at midnight to tell him you stiffed him. 

    Polishing up Messrs. Lupica, Ryan, Romanowski ...
    With this dateline being Boston, specifically Newton, MA  and the treasure trove of tools that emanated from that locale, it’s about we unveil that special class of cretin… and so I’d like to unveil THOR*, the Tool Hall Of Renown. 

    Starting with the Boston College wing...

    * a superhero, who fittingly, was such an arrogant tool that his father (Odin) sent him to earth to teach him humility.  While not documented, he probably landed in Chestnut Hill.

    Schadenfreude Winner.

    Week 10 - the stakes are higher, the candidates fewer

    1.  Bama.  Guess we don’t have to worry about all that ‘could they beat an NFL team’ speculation.
    2.  Penn State.  I know they shouldn't be held responsible for the Sandusky atrocities.  But the thing is, I didn’t like them before the scandal.

    Recruiting Carousel

    *  Good news:  I intend to do a comprehensive analysis of our recruiting class, probably in January.
     Bad news:  My focus will be on the quality and creativity of their names. As of right now, not a great class. (Smith? Mattingly?) And while Zaire has promise, one can only hope we pick up a Spiffy late.

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

    Wager 2012.

    And then there were three.  The few, the proud, the delusional.  But who's laughing now?  

    While you're not likely to win, you'll have the psychic income of knowing that you were closer than the rest.  So, Jeep / Jerry / Dave, you've got that going for ya...

    Now would probably be a good time to call out the few I've not received the $25 participation fee from:  Matt, Al, Randy.

    And again, those with any thoughts on a Sandy-related charity to offer our humble $800, give me a shout.


    ND-Scorsese connection 

    Contestant’s prediction



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




    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?)
    BryanTedRayTim S, Bob S

    Jay, John, Peter, Raz, Kevin 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.
    Terry, Jim S, Jerry P, Brian, Blair 

    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 - I

    Referendum 64.  Colorado’s successful initiative to get recreational marijuana legalized begs one fundamental question:  how soon can we get the University of Colorado on the schedule?!  And picture this:  party at the Brittons!  Bill… Mindy…  and you thought Linipalooza is surreal.

    Final Thought - II 

    Apropos of absolutely nothing but a laugh...

    This may not show up on a tablet / smartphone. Your loss.

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