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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

"Springtime for Louis and Notre Dame..."

"Jerry, this Downton Abbey theme was the best Linipalooza idea EVER!"

...Curtains for Temple and Mich-i-gan.

Nice to be back.

So, as a few of you were privy, I had a fairly crushing employment-related disappointment last month.  Pretty sure I was on the final short list... was excited about it, talked w Lisa about it (it represented a pretty significant relocation) but would've put me into new industry space that I could've foreseen finishing my career.  Granted, it would've been a little high risk:  a dysfunctional management structure rife with scandal, undermined by insider tell-all books and scathing documentaries...

I'm talking, of course, about the papacy.  

Pope Terry.  (Actually my chosen name was gonna be Giuseppe - a nod to both Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi who unified the country and the little 8 yr.old miscreant that lived in our Milan neighborhood who I suspected of mildly abusing Buddy. I'm all about forgiveness.)

Still racking my brain where it all went wrong. Certainly, in hindsight, there were questions I would've answered on the Survey Monkey questionnaire a little differently:

-  Biggest problem the world is facing?  Zombie Apocalypse.
-  How to address World Hunger?   "Make Your Own Tacos" Night.*
- How do we improve the Church's on-line engagement?  Porn!**
-  Most important literary achievement:  The Lonely Scotsman (self published)
-  Beatles or Stones?  The Who
-  What will you do in your first 30 / 60 / 90 days?
         >  30:  Nutter Butter's in the Vatican cafeteria.
         >  60:  Declare 'A' Lot Holy Ground.
         >  90:  Canonize Mary Flaherty.

Probably got this question wrong too.
*Had more specificity to it than the eventual winner's.
**  I'm pretty sure that's technically correct.

Alas it was not to be. They told me my skill set was too "specialized" and not the best "fit" with The Curia's culture.  

And to never, ever contact them again.

So... I'm taking my Change Agent talents to South Beach Valpo and will apply these new innovations to the blog - including Inspirational Quotes, a Cocktail of The Week and new, user-friendly vocabulary customized for the Engineering / Accounting schooled.

C'est la vie.  That was so March, its April now... 

Song of the Week
Richie Havens died this week. And like many 50 something white guys, when I hear his name I think immediately of Woodstock.  Interesting trivia about that event that's being re-told with his death:  Havens was the very first performer scheduled to play the concert and with the unanticipated crush of humanity bringing the NY Thruway to a complete standstill, the organizers said, "Keep playing, Richie!"  And play he did - the song that ultimately made it onto the album (and gave him a ton of notoriety) was actually at the very end of that desperate song list.  In fact, it was the first time he ever played it publicly.  Talk about serendipity. 

But this has been a tough week for the USA and while that particular song ("Freedom") would still resonate, especially post-Boston Marathon, a little more optimism seems in order, particularly in the context of Spring football and the "we're all undefeated at this point" attitude. 

"Little darling, it's been a long, cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here.
Here comes the sun and I say, its alright..."

Observations of The Game


>  Ah the dulcet tones of Tom “I didn’t get this job just because I’m Hannah Storm, class of 83’s husband… but it probably didn’t hurt” Hicks.  Goodbye, Tom Hammonds.  Truth be told you weren’t all that bad… certainly not when one didn’t have to see your creepy, semi-effeminate-Tony-Curtis-in-his-later-years make up job.
>  Color me optimistic about the new blood.
>  And the familiar, wonderful, not so dulcet-y tones of Mike “I’m from Philadelphia and therefore born without any brain-to-mouth filter” Mayock.  I’m a big fan.
>  And of course, Alex “I still look awesome even wearing a Stay-puff Marshmallow Man down jacket in April” Flanagan.  Yours is genuinely not an easy job.  And did I mention you’re looking awesome? Is that a new skin care regimen? 

The very definition of svelte.
>  Interesting to see who NBC chose to focus their opening coverage:  Everett, GA III, Troy, Louis, Prince.  No Nick Tausch? Seems a glaring omission.

This won't affect my draft status, will it?
>  Louis III is wearing a very slimming #1 this year. Avoid those horizontal stripes post-game, Irish Chocolate. 

>  KeiVarae Russell has the lead in the school play.  Impressive. Please, God, don’t let it be Cabaret or La Cage Aux Folles.
>  Bills have passed through Congress with less sub-points than this game's rules.  
>  And I've seen Lini employ the same scoring system in some of his golf bets. I wonder if Diaco will press if he’s down in the 2nd half.

1st Half
>  3 and out.  And that’s the start we were all waiting for.
>  Kyle is the best we've got at punter?
>  For all the Spring practice hype about Cam McDaniel, he still looks like a pretty typical, white RB who’d be a starter at Northwestern.
>  Tommy looks good.  Perhaps, like tequila was for me in my late 20’s, he is an acquired taste.

>  KeiVarae’s play is something called “Intimate Apparel”. Personal courage comes in many forms.

>  Kelly is either on some seriously efficacious meds or he’s had a profound attitude adjustment. The media suggests the latter, I’m going with the former.
    >  Special teams – ugh.
    >  Tyler Stockton, pride of Linwood NJ, is dominating.
    >  GA III gets absolutely tuned up by Jersey Boy Carlo C. Now everyone on the planet is going to be familiar with the concept of lowering one’s pad level.  Let's hope George gets it.

    2nd Half
    Who are these guys?!

    >  Kinda sad how little Hendrix has seemed to have developed.
    >  On the other hand, Malik “The Rumble In The Jungle” Zaire not looking too bad for someone who’s been on campus for three months.
    >  This is 2 ½ hours I’m never going to get back.
    >  Irish Chocolate saves the afternoon from being a total waste.

    Summary Thoughts

    1. These games are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Maybe they always were.  The only stat that matters:  no significant injuries.
    2. D-line depth, especially with the incoming freshmen, looks like a real strength.
    3. Probably could make that claim about the whole Defense. Remarkable how the secondary has gone from totally dubious a year ago to very solid.
      1. Mayock (or someone) made an interesting comment about how the confidence in the back end could allow Diaco to be much more aggressive. That’d be nice to see.
    4. Given the O-line’s inability to open any holes, tough to comment on the RB’s.  Except for this insight:  unless your name is Art Best, white RB’s shouldn't be asked to run wide.
      1. Agree with Sully that the incoming freshmen backs have to feel pretty good about their chances for significant playing time.
      2. Question:  is GA III always going to be a tease? Is Carlisle?
    5. While he didn't look great, Golson will be fine.  His receivers (outside of TJ and Troy) did him no favors in running what looked like some pretty poor routes.
    6. Pray that the Wake Forest transfer and the incoming, preferred walk-on can punt better than what ND threw out there Saturday.  If not, expect a lot of Kelly going for it on 4th down…
    7. Don't be surprised if one sees a ton of punt blocks called against us. Why not?  If they don’t get it, it’s only going to go 25 yds.

    Cocktail of the Week
    This one goes out to my brothers and the 2012 Christmas Experiment That Never Was...

    Absinthe of Malice
    • 1 oz. absinthe
    • 6 oz. lemonade or lemon-lime soda
    • 2 dashes of orange bitters
    • Fresh mint, for garnish
    Stir the first three ingredients and make note of the awesome color.  Pour over ice and garnish with the mint. All the other liquors remind you of despair so try and forget about work for a minute. Take a sip. Relax.  

    Close your eyes and be transported to 19th Century France.  Remember the urban legend about Van Gogh cutting off his ear after heavily drinking absinthe.  Console yourself that the story's not true.  Probably.

    Buddy's buddy

    The mind numbing tedium of this glorified scrimmage would, in fact, lead one to Google searching "Absinthe in Valparaiso, IN" - were it not for a single play call at the end of the game, Irish Chocolate.

    Lining up as the QB in a Wildcat (Water Buffalo?) or Pistol (Bazooka?) formation on a 2-pt. conversion, Louis Nix goes through all the machinations any respectable QB does - positioning his peeps etc.  And when he takes off for the end zone, its clear that within the context of this game, no one wanted a piece of him.  Hilarious - I laugh every time I see it.  Buddy, a bigger dog often unfairly pre-judged on his physical appearance, would've been proud. You can catch it in this brief clip below:

    If Louis Nix isn't your favorite player on the 2013 team, he ought to be.

    It's never too early to get your SCHADENFREUDE on...

    One might wonder, four months away from playing Games That Matter, how seriously can one take other team's missteps and disappointments?  

    Answer:  what a stupid question.

    1.  USC.  The Ottomans at Gallipoli suffered fewer losses than SC has this Spring.  Sadly, most are not of the miss-the-entire-season variety but for a coach who's rhetoric is getting increasingly emptier to Trojan Nation, this tragedy is looking more and more like it's Act III. Don't ya just love it?

    2.  'Bama.  Nine, count 'em nine (!) turnovers in their Spring game. It almost certainly means nothing. But when else am I going to be able to site them here? 

    3.  Auburn.  Their favorite tree is dead and multiple NCAA violations have been publicly alleged including impermissible benefits (read thick envelopes with cash) and (shocker) academic fraud.  My favorite, though, is the allegation on the players use of spice, a synthetic marijuana.  It has yet to be confirmed that the school is using a "but we're a sister state of Colorado" defense.

    4. Oregon.  After their head coach buggers off to the NFL, the school and the NCAA have agreed on there having been 'major violations' committed. (Stop me if you've heard this story before.)  Now they're in the negotiation of penalties stage.  Given what a mess the NCAA is, it's hard to believe this'll end all that badly for the Ducks, but there's a principle here that I naively cling to...

    Crash's Cretins
    "It's a real disease, with doctors and medicine and everything..."
    Having now retired the 'tool' descriptor and its blue collar cousin 'douche' for a more refined label, I think it's important to remember that cretinism is a burden that... even as you're picking up your nerf brick to throw at someone on the TV, is to be pitied.  

    As my mom would surely say, "But for the grace of God there go I..." 

    Or a Dillon-ite. 

    Be that as it may, the off season has not been without it's many, many afflicted:

    1.  Lane Kiffin.  With his draft status on the line, Matt Barkley steps up and takes responsibility for USC's disappointing season, saying he could've provided better leadership because, well, no one else was doing so.  Like the head coach.  Ouch.

    2. Augusta National.  As one of Gruley's colleagues pointed out:  let's revel in the irony of an organization that takes 88 years to expand their membership... then turns around and penalizes a 14 year old for moving too slowly.

    3.  Derrick Rose.  I don't even like professional basketball but this deserves to be called out.  D-Rose, you've been medically cleared for two months, by every account you dominate in team practices, one of your teammates is playing (almost literally) on one foot, at 80% you're better than everyone on your team (and the vast majority of the league). Oh and you already received your big $100M max contract last year.  But you don't deem yourself 'mentally right' to play. There is no 'I' in team but there is in Derrick.

    4. Lance Armstrong. Actually Lance hasn't done anything incrementally offensive than what's already been documented but calling him out allows me to share Tricky's food for thought (at right).

    5.  Tom Garfinkel.  Who? The San Diego Padres CEO who accused Zack Greinke of being to blame for his own injury after hitting Carlos Quentin with a pitch (and the subsequent altercation).  Put aside for a moment that to know Quentin is to understand he's a guy whose teammates don't even like him all that much and who essentially takes his batting stance in the strike zone.  No, Garfinkel earns recognition for his publicly calling Zack "Rain Man" -  a clear shot at Greinke's well known struggle with social anxiety disorder.  Stay classy, San Diego.

    Word of the Week:

    GOBEMOUCHE (n) - gōb¦müsh\

    : a credulous person; esp : one who believes everything he hears.

    French, literally, "fly swallower" in reference to one whose mouth is so perpetually agape with credulity they often swallow flies.  

    (This from people that elevated cooking snails to a fine delicacy.)
    Antonyms: skeptic

    Not sure how to put it in a sentence but for all the email chatter about the dubious (slanted?) reporting related to last week's Boston tragedy, it somehow seemed relevant. 


    I'll spare you any great chapter and verse here. The topline is this: seven guys are presently committed and happily, 5/7 are highly regarded Offensive and Defensive linemen. The conventional wisdom is that the staff can afford to be very selective and accordingly, the guys they want are those that tend to take their time in making a choice.  And the reality is that given the feeble grasp of the commitment concept among most highly regarded high school athletes, its tough to take anyone's public decision too seriously at this point.
    "He's only mostly committed..."

    That said, there is a highly regarded Florida RB named Sony that's announcing his consciously non-binding, could-very-well-change-my-mind-by-June decision later this week.  (Reliable sources suggest that if we don't get him, the Irish will turn their attention to aggressively pursuing his brother, Mitsubishi.)

    Okay I made that last part up.

    If you're interested in reading a more thoughtful (and accurate) summary, try the NBC staff guy here.

    Time To Start Considering Your Prognostications - 128 Days to Temple

    August / September
    31    TEMPLE           
      7    @Michigan                       
    14   @Purdue                          
    21   MICHIGAN STATE            
    28   OKLAHOMA
      5   ARIZONA STATE (Dallas)         

    19   USC                                       
    26   @Air Force                            
     2     NAVY                     
     9    @Pitt                      

    23    BYU   
    30    @Stanford               

    A deeper, team-by-team 'what they're not telling you' dive to help with your betting...

    1.  Temple.  Thompson's coming and he's bringing every shred of arcane Owl trivia he knows.  You've been warned.
    2.  Michigan.  Two years ago, 28 gallons of Long Ice Teas were consumed in a 10 yd. radius.  Game? There's a game?
    3.  Purdue.  New Boilermaker coach, same result. But this year Tommy Rees' sister stays out of jail.  
    4.  Michigan St.  It's Linipalooza IV!  If I leave his apartment with any shred of my sanity (or dignity), everything else is gravy...
    5.  Oklahoma.  Prediction: a Sooner fan will brag in 'A' Lot that Okie BBQ is better than KC's.  Ungie will react. Aggressively.
    6.  Arizona State.  No prediction, just fact: played in Arlington, TX, virtually everyone in the stadium will be packin'.
    7.  USC.  By this point of the season, with normal attrition, Lane will be playing next year's 5-stars.
    8.  Air Force.  Q. Will the new marijuana laws in Colorado be in effect by this time?
    9.  Navy.  After hearing for the 1000th time how Navy kept ND's doors open during WWII, someone will go all Manchurian Candidate and run amok.  Probably me.
    10.  Pitt.  Their best RB just transferred and their coach is wondering why he didn't take the Wisconsin job.
    11.  BYU.  Come see funky Mormon underwear, on the field and off. On Lindon. 
    12.  Stanford.  Could be a game with BCS national championship implications. Stanford still won't sell out the stadium.

    Quote of the Week

    "Outside of the killings, D.C. has one of the lowest crime rates in the country..."
    former mayor Marion Barry

    Please, Rahm, don't attempt this calculus at home.

    Final Thought - I

    My (early) vote for best story of the year, minimally baseball category; maybe anything.

    Final thought -II

    Kim Jong-un.

    Acts like Gary Busey, dresses like Michael Jackson...

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