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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Week 12 (2012): Why not?

"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... " 

Little Lini shopping on his 1st Black Friday...

Happy, happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  Hey guess what? In between meals on Thanksgiving I re-evaluated my life and came to realize change was in order... and have subsequently begun to embrace a more Eastern spiritual path.  Given my Chinese birth year, I've now assumed my true name 谈的猴子男孩 - unpronounceable by anyone other than kindred spirit, Prince, but loosely translated as "Reckless Monkey Boy".

For the record, most of you are Year of the Rooster born.  (Which, if our 801 housemate, CJ Lick, were around, would almost certainly lead to any number of cock jokes.)

But I digress.

Suffice to say, this new direction lead to a heightened level of pre-game enlightenment driven by a new regime:

-  daily Bikram yoga by practicing my hip turn in the steamer shower. I believe the masters call this move The Downward Facing Furyk.

-  strict Homeopathic Asian diet via Kung Pao Chicken, Moo Shu Pork, Pot Stickers and a steady stream of Tsing Tao.

-  Study of Ninja Tactics, including but not limited to infiltration, camouflage and the strategic use of black pajamas as anytime fashion statement.

-  optimizing my Feng Shui through the strategic manipulation of the pillows to afford easier remote control management.

- Kabuki theatre insight as realized thru the Tao of Hello Kitty

-  Lisa as geisha.  Alas, this proved to be something of a tactical overreach... met with an emphatic, blunt rejection. (I'm paraphrasing here but it was something to the effect of  "Are you high? Go away immediately...")  

Followed by a swift exile to the back bedroom to watch the game.

Nonetheless, the combined result of all this was a powerful pre-game calm, zen-like state. Whatever was to happen was ordained by Fate.

Song of the Week
This win was a long time in coming.  And with it came unbridled exultation and energy!  Not very zen-like.  To hell with the Gregorians - sissies!  Get that sushi rubbish out of here - fetch me a slab of meat with my victory mead!  Kabuki?!  I'm ready for some slam dancing...  

And who better to feed that beast than one of the great, never-got-the-credit-they-deserve LA punkers, Mike Ness (grandson of famous Al Capone nemesis Elliott Ness*) and his band, Social Distortion.  The angels indeed sang Saturday night... we've already spent our time in hell, now's our time. Time to vent!

At least for the next 45 days.

Sometimes I try so hard to understand the things you do
Who am I to question you when it all comes down
When the angels sing

Stand up strong, feel the pain
When the angels sing.
Love and death don't mean a thing
Til the angels sing

There's gotta be a heaven, ‘cause I've already done my time in hell
And a little baby's born, when it all comes down.
* Not even remotely true. I totally made this up.

Word of the Week

  de·noue·ment   noun \ˌ dā-ˌnü-ˈmäⁿ, dā-ˈnü-ˌ\ 

Hey guys - sound pretentious AND 
condescending all at the same time 
with this word… it’s French!

Perfect for use with 
your USC colleagues!

:   the final outcome of the main dramatic complication in a literary work
:   the outcome of a complex sequence of events

  French dénouement, literally, untying, from Middle French desnouement, from desnouer to untie, from Old French desnoer, from des- de- + noer to tie, from Latin nodare, from nodus knot — more at node
  First Known Use: 1705

Used in a sentence…  Notre Dame’s defeat of USC proved to be a fitting, and dramatic, regular season denouement for a season that defied all expectations.

Random Observations Of The Game


*  Nice intro.  Especially liked the brief glimpse of the original green jersey game.  And when we rolled out that giant trojan rabbit.
*  USC Song girls looking... spectacular
*  Brent and Herbie on the call again.  And knowing what I know now, somewhere some poor guy is being designated 'pardner' and has already taken his first step toward an ER visit for alcohol poisoning...
*  Quick cut to Lane. Looking his typically affable self, he doesn't appear to be entirely aware of the circumstances he finds himself in. Hmmm.

1st Quarter
*  Riddick for 12.  Nice start.
*  75 yds later, most of it looking pretty easy.  ND 3-0. 
*  USC 1st drive and... running really well.  Until they stopped.  How odd.
*  Brent & Kirk don't seem to understand the 'lose your helmet, leave the game for a play' rule.  They're babbling about Kelly managing his QB's and my mind begins to wander... 
When you hear Brent say, "Kirk, my man"
you'll take out the Big Ten commissioner..."
How easy it would be, one supposes... turn the dulcet tones of Brent's voice
into a Manchurian Candidate-like trigger. 

    But I digress. Again. 

    *  Theo scores!  ND 10-0.  For pretty conservative play calling, not bad.
    *  Wittek has quite an arm.  And Lee is really fast. 
    *  I'd be very bummed if I were Lane that the NFL's spot-of-foul is not the pass interference rule of law in college.  

    2nd Quarter

    *  Wittek-to-Woods, TD.  Eek - kinda surgical.  ND 10-7.    
    *  Gotta say, GAIII does not look like the same KR this year.
    *  Screen pass!  By ND!  Wuh?!  
    *  Another steady drive, another red zone flame out.  ND, 13-7.
    *  Flash to Monte Kiffin.  He looks asleep.
    *  Silas Redd, barely even touched. ND defense looking pretty ordinary.
    *  Is anyone else concerned that we're getting no pressure with our normal rush?
    *  One of our best plays all year - the opponent's botched snap - occurs and its ND 13-10
    *  Lane just can't help himself - has gotta go deep again. INT, Russell.  Nice coverage
    *  Brindza, FG!  From 52 yds!  ND, 16-10.

    3rd Quarter
    Brindza?!  Son of beetch. Sheeet.

       *  Interception, Manti!  
       *  And... a Brindza pull.  Almost predictable.  Very disappointing.
       *  Offense seems to have lost it's mojo.
       *  USC, 3rd and 1.  Louis!
       *  And... Davonte Neal with another savvy decision that costs us almost 20 yds.  
       *  Much needed drive.  ND 19-10.  Leaving A LOT of points on the field. 
      *  Despite the obvious tension, Brent's voice - what is he talking about?! - has me wandering to my personal construct of Dante's Inferno and the Nine Circles of Hell.  Worlds, for me, of nothing but... 





    V.      REALITY TV*





    *except Survivor which is totally awesome
    4th Quarter

       *  15 minutes to the National Championship game. 
       *  Lane calls a confidence building TO, no TD regardless.  ND 19-13.
       *  We need a drive.   
       *  GAIII!  T-H-E-O! Inside the 10 - wow, that was fast...
       *  And... another Red Zone disappointment.  Still, critical FG. ND 22-13
       * Marqise Lee!  This is feeling like an awful 2005 deja vu...
       *  Brent finally gets one right:  goal-line stand for the ages.

    *  Despite some odd (to me) final clock management, game over.  Time now to watch all the ESPN post-game love*.

           *Of course they love us, we're not a cash cow for them, we're a cash whale. 

    Summary Thoughts

          Not really a lot to add after 12 games but here goes...

    *  Lane really is not very clever. 
          *  Kelly plays to win, and with a defense that affords it, achieving victory in the most risk averse fashion possible.

    *  I just don't think that level of 'play it safe' is going to cut it on January 7th.

    *  As worried as I was upfront, Special Teams played really tough - especially punt/kick return coverage.     

          *  It may be a small point but if we're not going to seriously attempt to return a punt, I'd put Goodman back there for the bowl game. Neal just scares me with his decision making. 

    *  Everett's final regular season stats.  Not 'Johnny Football' but then again, Texas A&M isn't 12-0.  

    Year I                            Passing            %       Yds.    TD       INT     QBR
    E. Golson                    166 – 282         58.9     2135    11          5        131.8
    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

    *   It kinda bugs me that Te'o is highly unlikely to win the Heisman - no one seems to remember the mediocre games Manziel put up against LSU and Florida - but on balance, I'd take the 'natty' over the Heisman...

    *   Georgia or Alabama - who do we want?  Already I've heard it both ways: ya don't want to give Saban a month to prepare... Georgia's far more athletic on 'D', way better pass attack.  So what.  We'll play the hand that's dealt us, just like we have all year.  

    *  Another fun fact:  33 out of 51 ND athletes likely to play on the 7th had SEC scholarship offers.  Just sayin'...

          *  Are we a team of destiny?  Why not? 
          *  We're one of the last two standing... why not us?  

    If This Week's Game Were A Movie Poster, It'd Be... 'Days Of Heaven'

    "Your Eyes... Your Ears... Your Senses... Will Be Overwhelmed"

    Auteur Terrence Malick's pastoral 1978 art film has much in common with the ND football program circa 2012:  originally perceived as flawed, took a mind-numbingly long time to finish and ultimately celebrated as one of the most acclaimed films of its era.

    Overwhelming. Just like our Irish.  

    I hope.

    Buddy's buddy

    A more than valid argument could be made for Lane Kiffin receiving this award.  Talk about a triple threat - poor play calling, tragic use of time outs and horrific clock management...  wow.

    Celebrity west coast presenters,
    Murphy & Seamus Flaherty
    And I'll just put this out there - Louis Nix might be my favorite player. Many others get more publicity on the D but on all of those goal line stands, who's invariably at the bottom of those piles?  Irish Chocolate, that's who.  And what other guy his size seems to get better as the game goes on?  

    But this week's shout out was almost predictable in the 1st Quarter:

    Theo Riddick, you are The Man. Last year's enduring image was your flailing away on punt return duty (blissfully relieved of duty early in the year). Talk about not settling. Now you catch everything in your zip code, you're never denied when tough yards are needed most and you've basically come up huge in every important opportunity presented to you. If there's any poetic justice, you'll have a splendid 10 yr. career in the NFL as a dependable 3rd down back... 

    For as much (deserved) publicity as Te'o gets, if you ever want to see an example of The Brian Kelly underrated 'Right Kind of Guy', Theo could be the poster boy.

    Portrait Of The Artist
    As A Young Tool
    Tool Time

    You might've thought, "Ter, this is the happiest college football occasion you've experienced in decades... surely you're filled with love and forgiveness for all of God's creatures, no matter how bereft of Ethics, Morals or Character they might have..."

    And you would be wrong.  Let's start with... 

    1.  Ohio State.   Honoring Jim Tressel at half-time of your final game - a game that's your last one only because he got you put on BCS probation - that doesn't strike you as even a teensy weensy bit inconsistent?  I'd say 'ironic' but I'm not sure you understand that concept...

    2.  Urban Meyer.  Things you learn with watching rivalry games:  coach Meyer demonstrating a profound grasp of geography - he apparently refuses to say their name - referencing tOSU's arch-rivals only as 'that team up north'.  What are we, 6 yrs. old and reading Harry Potter, Urban? They Who Must Not Be Named! Or is the multi-syllabic nature of the name 'Michigan' too daunting for your team?

    3.  Charlie Weis.  Knowing of his prodigious ego, this season must've been terribly hard on Big Chuck.  Watching all his recruits finally play to their potential and restore glory to his alma mater. The same institution who kicked him to the curb and ignored his schematic advantage.  He could've taken the high road and just stayed away from the topic... but when the topic was teed up (by local Kansas reporters), he just couldn't resist taking the bait - saying, in effect, "I don't want to intrude on their big moment.." but by ensuring the press knew Manti & Co. were his recruits, kinda did.

    4.  Cam Newton.  This is what one picks up when one has time to listen to as much talk sports as I do:  Post-Monday night game, Mr. "It's All About Me" kept reporters and his team waiting an hour - guys on deadline, airplanes on tarmacs, families waiting at the other end - for no apparent reason other than... you could.  You're fast becoming the Neidermeyer of your team.

    Speaking of tools, past and present, it bears pointing out that both Colin Cowherd and Rick Reilly have been extraordinarily complimentary about the ND season of late.  One of the things that many of you know about me - I loathe the Notre Dame 'everyone's a hater' persecution complex.  And forever, I've been a big Reilly fan - he's a terrific writer.  The fact is, he wrote a fairly lazy article back in August and now he's owning up that he was wrong.  Have a listen - apparently he's even headed to campus tomorrow to fulfill his promise to polish Notre Dame helmets.  (I sure hope that isn't a euphemism.) 

    Another interesting insight: Cowherd made the point that ND is the one school that when ESPN plans to bring their athletes on the program they don't need to do any pre-interviewing or due diligence - they know the kids are going to be articulate, interesting, responsible.  Pretty neat. 

    Schadenfreude Winner.
    Week 12 - old faves:
    1.  USC.  It just never gets old. One can only hope you truly are stuck with Lane for two more years.
    "How ya like them apples, SEC?!"
          2.  Florida.  What, you thought you had to lose to receive this recognition?  How about having your nose pressed up against the BCS championship window... but no one will let you in.  Boo freakin' hoo.
          3.  FSU.   You're kinda like my personal, east coast USC, imbued with this Florida-based sense of football entitlement without actually having done anything of genuine substance in this century.  And like USC, you were considered a favorite preseason #1 prediction of the pundits.  Oops.

    Recruiting Carousel
    "Have fun storming the West Coast, boys..."
    On the road again. 

    As soon as you finish winning your school's biggest game in 20+ yrs., what's your reward?  You get to wake up the next day and start flying around the country, pandering to a bunch of self-absorbed 18 yr. olds who think they're the greatest thing since the forward pass. 

    The good news is that this time you don't have to answer a bunch of awkward questions about the status of the head coach...   (The bad news is that's one less betting opportunity I get to organize.)

    Even better, there's talk of USC's class imploding as even 18 yr. olds can recognize institutional idiocy if confronted with it on a grand enough stage.  

    Sadly, if ever there was a year to want to take 30 guys, this would be it - it looks like any number of elite athletes are gonna get turned away.  3-4 to watch, based on priority need and likelihood of committing, all (apparently) total studs:
    1. Max Redfield, S, California
    2. Al-Quadin Muhammed, DE, New Jersey
    3. Tarean Folston, RB, Florida
    4. Greg Bryant, RB, Florida
    For once, it should be a fun run up to Signing Day.

    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        W
    24    @USC                       W
    *Linipalooza III

    Wager 2012.
    Thank you, team, for putting more distance between you and any prognostications from this group.

    Wouldn't want any 'woulda, coulda, shoulda' hand-ringing.  No predictor's remorse.  We were all wrong, happily so, by several standard deviations.

    A check for $800 went out this morning to The Breezy Point Disaster Fund.  Thanks again, JP, for the recommendation.


    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?)
    Bryan, Ted, Ray, Tim 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 - USC Post-game
    I know most of you have seen one of these already but I came across an extended version.  Pretty cool.  A couple observations:  a) love Kelly's direction at the end 'to act with class', b) never heard an Our Father said so emphatically and c) could someone please tell Joe Theismann his ND ship has sailed?

    Final Thought - II 
    Again, I don't think he's gonna win.  But if ever there was a year to recognize athletic excellence and character...
    This would be the year. And this would be the guy. 

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