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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Week 1 (2013): Ethelred Would Be Proud

A history lesson: 
Ethelred, the younger son of Edgar, became king at the age of seven following the murder of his half-brother Edward II in 978 at Corfe Castle, Dorset, by Edward's own supporters.
Hey, those things happen.
For the rest of his rule (978-1016), his brother became a posthumous rallying cry for political unrest.  (Isn’t that totally like older brothers… stealing all your thunder even after they’ve buggered off.) Known as the Un-raed or 'Unready' (meaning 'no counsel', or that he was unwise), Ethelred won the allegiance of… zero subjects.  

That usually doesn’t happen.

But in 1002, Ethelred the Unready took action - ordering the massacre of all Danes in England to eliminate that particular source of dissension. Then he defended the country against increasingly rapacious Vikings through a diplomatic alliance with the duke of Normandy. 

Which is to say he married the duke's hugely unattractive  daughter, Emma. Takin' one for the team. Or in this case, the country.

Ethel & Emma.  But while nicely alliterative, it represented only a short-term fix and not long after, he fled, as one does, to France.

The story of the nickname, Ethelred the Unready goes a long way toward explaining how perception can ultimately affect one’s reputation. Bosworth-Toller's Anglo-Saxon Dictionary defines the noun in various ways, though generally, it means "evil counsel", "bad plan", "folly" and “run away!” Okay, I made that last one up.
"Rise, Schembechler!"
But they don’t record it as describing the king directly; most often it describes his decisions and deeds, once referring to the nature of Satan's deceit.

(Not unlike Satan’s Trifecta, foretelling the formation of the Michigan, USC and Miami football programs.)

But I digress.  The fact is, no matter how he accomplished it, Ethelred was actually a productive king who ended the control of every major power family in the two decades he ruled.

Which brings us to the Temple game.  Were we, like The Big E, similarly unready?  That could certainly be argued.  But we won comfortably. Game never really in doubt. The critical variable, our QB, looked good. A ton of high potential freshmen played. No one got seriously hurt. 

Like Ethelred, history will tell.

Song of the Week
Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row."  Chosen because of the title's explicit link to the immediate despair articulated in the group's Game Day comments as well as for the song's fit with my personal takeaway from the game itself:  interesting start, went on far too long and ultimately, I had no idea what I was supposed to learn from it.  

Here comes the blind commissioner
They’ve got him in a trance.
One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker
The other is in his pants.

And the riot squad they’re restless
They need somewhere to go,
As lady and I look out tonight
From desolation row.

Word of the Week:

Banausic         ba·nau·sic adjective \bə-ˈnȯ-sik, -zik\

  • Uninspired, ordinary, or utilitarian, rather than being imaginative 
  • Greek banausikos of an artisan, nonintellectual, vulgar, from banausos artisan
  • First known use: 1845
Used in a sentence:  After re-watching the game, young Terry had to admit that the A Lot pundits might be correct - the team was disappointingly banausic.  But he still thought it harsh for George, the 10 yr. old sitting next to him, to point it out.  Repeatedly. 

If the underlying theme for Saturday was 'not showing up' (and it sure looked that way for the defense), 'A' Lot followed a similar script.

Pretty spartan crowd. Not judging - a great time was still had with the luminaries in attendance (Jay / Mary / Jerry P / Feif / Jim T / Moon Mullins.  Just saying that it was interesting foreshadowing.

"Looking good, Alex!"
"Feeling good, Billy Ray!"
An Alex Flanagan sighting!  Yippee!


Amidst a sea of blue shirts, Jim Thompson proudly wears his stylish wine-colored Temple golf shirt.

Observations from both at the game and on TV...

1st Quarter
1st play of 2013... and... its an illegal substitution penalty.  Lovely.
2nd play:  45 yd. run by Carlisle. That worked out nicely.
3rd play:  Rees to Daniels, TD.  Thompson slumps the 1st time.

Rees to Daniels again, TD. 14-0, Notre Dame.  After 4:31 in the season, the tie-breaker bet is over. Thompson slumps the 2nd time. 
Cam McDaniels in.  Early.  That's kinda interesting.

Tommy breaks the pocket.  Nothing good happens when Tommy breaks the pocket.  Yet he whistles a caught sideline pass that barely misses being a completion.  New year, new Tommy?!
Pooch punt opportunity.  Brindza hammers it outta the end zone.  A lesser man, perhaps one born in Philadelphia, would whine and moan... but I see the positive: at the Spring game this team had no one who could punt it even 30 yds.  
"Well it's illegal in Philadelphia..."
While ironic, it's nice to see someone punt the snot out of the ball even when he's been expressly instructed not to.
Phantom PI on Jackson.  Thompson rejoices
End of Quarter.  Where's Tuitt been?

2nd Quarter
Daniels pulls up gimpy or else Tommy has TD #3.
Brindza demonstrates, again, the touch of the village blacksmith and crushes another short punt into the end zone.  I am no longer impressed w his leg.
Louis III finally makes his presence known. By jumping offsides.
Nick Tausch.  Ug-ly.  
Anyone else noticing that we haven't really stopped Temple since, like, they're 2nd possession?
"Go Owls!"

TD, Temple.  Thompson rejoices. 
Rees to Niklas, TD.  66 yds., 1 play. Thompson slumps the 3rd time.

3rd Quarter
It's really hot, sitting on the sunny side of the stadium and the game isn't exactly scintillating... 
George the 10 yr. old sitting next to me, returns with his 2nd plate of nachos and shares some interesting insights:
    • ND's helmets are almost hypnotic in their shininess
    • Are ND's ILB's supposed to let the other guys catch it all the time?
    • Is the Temple guy next to me mildly bi-polar?
28-6, ND with 3:36 left.  Hicks and Mayock are now talking golf and who can blame 'em. This game is... not compelling.
4th Quarter
Brindza misses from 44 yds. But at least he got it airborne.
George tells me, "Moderation in everything.  Including Cam McDaniels."  True dat, G-man.
Kelly's new contract just announced.  Hmmm - not so fast "Tommy 2 TD's" group - when was it agreed, signed?  Surely before the game.
An Andrew Hendrix sighting!  Fetch the tonic and lime!
A Greg Bryant sighting! (The guy has arms like a cartoon superhero.)
A Tarean Folston sighting!  (It's about time.)

Summary Observations
  • Conventional wisdom says Kelly held back a lot; probably even more after getting up so fast. Still, I expected more "imposing of will" from both ND lines.  But it was really warm, really humid and they ran a ton of players in and out (at least on D).
  • One wonders about upper class-men leadership:  it's one thing to relax after two really easy drives but the team just never seemed that jacked about crushing Temple.
  • Special teams. Not panicking yet, certainly not w the punting. But I bet we're close to seeing the last of Nick Tausch.
  • ILB play is concerning:  big, athletic TE's will give them fits.  And short, quick passes against our short, not-quick guys will be there all day.  I'm already missing Te'o and Spond.
  • Everyone should feel really good about both Tommy and the WR's.  More speed, collectively, than maybe we've ever had.  And the guys look like they can catch. 
  • Daniels is gonna be a star.
  • Like George, I'm not that crazy about Cam being The Man in the backfield.  We'll see what Kelly's plan is...
  • 10 freshmen played.  All of 'em looked like they belong.  That's pretty cool.
The Schedule
August / September
31    TEMPLE                        W  
  7    @Michigan                       
14   @Purdue                          
21   MICHIGAN STATE            
  5   ARIZONA STATE (Dallas)         

19   USC                                       
26   @Air Force                            
 2     NAVY                     
 9    @Pitt                      

23    BYU   
30    @Stanford               

*NOTE: Linipalooza - NEW DATE!

2013's Betting Contest
Thanks, everyone, for playing again this year.  I'm personally fascinated by the composition of the 11 Win Club:  
Didn't know Marcel was 
gonna be on campus...
-  One lives in northern California w. favorite hobbies spans wine and (ahem) "gardening"... 
-  Another's favorite hobby involves strapping on a glorified gas mask and playing Mike Nelson.  
- And the other is Marcel.

Q.  Which of the following will occur first this season:
          Choose one                                                           Contestant's prediction 
Amir gets hurt.
Bryan, Ray
Tommy throws 2 TD’s in a game.
Raz, Tim C, Ted, Mike G, Mike C, Daryl, Tim S, Brian, Alvin, Lini, Ryan C
Tommy throws 2 INT’s in a game.
Matt, Kevin M
Stephon has 2 sacks in a game.
Peter, Jim S, Jerry W, Dave M, 
Jerry P
Bennett has 2 INT’s in a game.

Anyone* returns a punt 20+ yds.
Terry, Jim T, Garrett, Jerry C, Tom, John, Blair, Jim, Shea, Mark
Louis III carries the ball in a game.

Kelly signs a new contract.**
Jay, Kevin C
Lisa & Judy enter ND stadium.***
Bob S
      NONE OF THE ABOVE       JP

*Notre Dame players only.
**Any contract. 
***Cumulatively (not necessarily together).



School of Thought / Representative Quote




The Self-Indulgent & Excessive

“You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships every day.  You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity..”

Man up! We’re still BCS bound even w/o Everett and Eddie! Go Irish!  (And stop bogarting the wine skin, bro…)

Kevin C, Ray, Dave M


The Logical

“Face the facts of being what you are, for that changes what you are…”
Epicuris is an incorrigible drunk but he’s right about this still being a very good team.  That said, losing Golson has to cost us a game or two.

Terry, Peter, Ted, Mike G, Jay, JPDaryl, Jerry W, Dennis

Raz, Jim S, Jim T, Bob S, Tim C
Jerry C, Mike C, Tom, Randy
Tim SBlair, Kevin M, Shea, Mark


The Realist

“I sit astride Life like a bad rider on a horse.  I only owe it to the horse’s good nature that I am not thrown off at this very moment…”

I don’t have a clue what’s gonna happen but the odds alone suggest we’ll win 7-8 and go bowling in Shreveport. 

GarrettBryan, John, Brian, Lini, Jerry P, Ryan C, Matt



The Skeptic

“The wise have always said the same things, and fools, who are the majority, have always done just the opposite…”

Epicurus is delusional. Everett is a significant loss. The entire ‘O’ was built around him. Bet high at your peril.



The Cynic

“What I like to drink most is wine that belongs to others…”
The high point of the year is gonna be the ‘A’ Lot experience.  AgainNot that that's a bad thing.



The Nihilist

“A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything…”
Honestly, why bother with any of this?  Life beyond ‘A’ Lot is a wretched, futile existence - devoid of meaning. May I have another Bloody?


Cocktail of the Week

Jamaican Me A Bitter Jerk
  • 1 oz. Bacardi white rum
  • 1 oz. Malibu coconut rum
  • 1 oz. banana liqueur
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 splash cranberry juice
  • 2 splashes Bitter's End Jamaican Jerk bitters
Mix it all together in that martini shaker you bought - impulse purchase! - at Bed, Bath & Beyond.  Remember the thousand happy alcoholic moments it brought you last football season (Michigan St!  Stanford! Pitt!  USC!)  Pour over a tall glass of ice.  Garnish with bitter tears and re-watch the Temple game alone.  So very alone.

Buddy's buddy
Seriously, can it be anyone* but Tommy? The guy has a career game, misses only about 2-3 throws all game, should've had 4 TD's... and the only near INT he had was on a pass where it's unclear whether the young WR ran the correct route.  (A concern we'll surely be debating more than once going forward.)

Apparently, he also checked off into some favorable run plays.  Net, for this week, he did his job well. Let's hope like Buddy, he becomes the poster child for "always underrated, consistently over delivering".
*maybe TJ. 

A tough week to find joy in other's misfortune.  Not because I can't. (Give me more credit than that.) But when all the good teams so shamelessly stack the deck, it's tough to find any misfortune.  Except in Kansas.  But that would be disrespecting Diane Lane...

1.  Rutgers.  This one's for you, Jim T. Rutgers' success cuts into ND owning recruiting in NJ, which we simply cannot abide. Plus I once worked for a Rutgers alum who, to this day, was the most amoral person I've ever met.
2.  Georgia. I'm probably one of the few who's liked Mark Richt and don't usually mind if they're pretty good. Especially since they always ultimately disappoint.  But they're highly ranked and anyone in front of ND who loses is a good thing. 
3.  Boise State.    Just on principle, go away.  You had your little run of success with your blue smurfy field.  Buh-bye.

Crash's Cretins
Special all-college football edition! With no Lane Kiffin - who'd a thunk it?!

1.  Johnny Butt-head.  You survive a bout of phenomenally bad judgement (or hubris) that could've cost you your season, serve your 30 minutes (literally)... then you get called for a taunting penalty that evokes the whole autograph scandal to begin with. Cannot WAIT to see what you do next week. (I also can't wait to see 'Bama tune you up.)

3.  NCAA.  Suspending Johnny Football a 1/2 game.  Really? Apparently Pride doesn't goeth before Fall.

4. Book o' Cretins.  Take 10 minutes and read this review about the latest 'inside college football' book, "The System."  It's not that we didn't know this was going on (always), it's just depressing to see it laid out so matter-of-factly.  Next stop, a formal minor league for the NFL.

Quote of the Week

"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."              
Winston Churchill

The same could said of the average fan.   Or message board contributor.  

Or blogger.

Final Thought - I

Music may not judge but American Songwriter magazine does.  Shea's Nashville internship employer has a very fun contest that asks this question: when you're poised to shuffle off this mortal coil, what 10 albums would you take with you? (Ostensibly to listen to in the Afterlife.)

"No, no, it really was an underrated album..."

Not necessarily a "Best" list (so don't get all pretentious and start sticking obscure, critically acclaimed music that only Gruley and Rasmus will recognize.  So if you like 'The Best of Bread", let that freak flag fly proudly).

Ponder the question - it's actually a really difficult challenge to get to only 10 - and enter their "On My Deathbed" contest here.  For what it's worth, here's my submission, in no particular order:

1.  "Trust", Elvis Costello.
2.  "Bring The Family", John Hiatt
3.  "The Clash", The Clash
4.  "Stop Making Sense", Talking Heads
5.  "Squeezing Out Sparks", Graham Parker
6.  "Excitable Boy", Warren Zevon.
7.  "David Live", David Bowie
8.  "Step Inside This House", Lyle Lovett
9.  "The Wild, The Innocent And The E Street Shuffle", Bruce Springsteen
10.  "Live At Benaroyal Hall", Pearl Jam

Final Thought - II

This wouldn't have happened if an English major had been in charge.

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