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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Summer: Waiting For The Sun

As the TV settled on the young Kentucky basketball fan, his eyes red from crying as his tiny brain tried to process what had just happened.  His pa had assured him his Wildcats would win... it was their destiny - and his birthright.  And despite the fact that the costs of these seats were the equivalent of his first year's tuition at Paducah Community College - he'd still get in, he was a legacy - that wasn't foremost on his mind. He was still trying to reconcile the cruelty of it all.  

While all that was unfolding on TV's across the country, a brief conversation was taking place in Bettendorf, Iowa between a son and his mother:

Terry:  "Get used to disappointment, laddy."

Kay:  "And A LOT of it..."

Ouch.  Even by my admittedly lowbrow standards, mom, that was a bit harsh.  Where did that come from?!  Was that a soon-to-be 90 year old revealing some blunt 'life is no damn good' insight?  Doubtful. More like a soon-to-be 90 year old summing up the past 20 years of her Notre Dame fandom. 

But it got me to thinking, why do we follow sports so passionately when disappointment is so often lurking around the corner to bludgeon us?

-  Notre Dame vs. Florida State football
-  Green Bay vs. Seattle
-  Notre Dame vs. Kentucky basketball

Why indeed.  Damned if I know. I think it has something to do w proving just how trivial the whole investment is... I do know this year, The Gods of Sport have been especially sadistic to Young Terry.  And yet, I distinctly recall enjoying every one of them, at least up to the last 30 seconds.

Then again, the gods did give me The Blackhawks and the Golden State Warriors (just say 'yes' to Steph and 'no' to Lebron) so perhaps they're not totally devoid of compassion.

Maybe it's just a football thing. Which is unfortunate since it's the only sport I actually care about. 

Spring Game

A few months back, The Fair Lisa and I puppy-sat.  That is to say, watched a friend's six week old dog for the better part of a weekend. Yuri was a great dane-mastiff-lab-pit bull mix (no, the breeders weren't Nazi's) and I learned this:  puppies are very... oral... creatures. They'll put anything in their mouth - rocks, sticks, feces, slippers (even when one's foot is still in it).  

In that respect, I was reminded of a younger me.  Sophomore year of college to be specific -  a time when a 20 yr old, trying to find his way in the world, flirts with all sorts of experimentation... 

Sorin basement guys, don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about.

But I digress.  I was watching the televised scrimmage w Yuri and observed that Spring practice can be a fecund area for trying new things like:
  • playing CJ Prosise in the backfield!
  • playing a freshman on the D-line!
  • playing Jaylon Smith anywhere he wants!
  • playing two QB's!
Okay, some experiments may have more future relevance than others... 

Quote of the Season

"I wouldn't know how to handle serenity if someone handed it to me on a plate..."
Dusty Springfield

You and Notre Dame, apparently, Dusty.  

The offseason was going so well. Almost idyllic. 

Stability, upward mobility even, on the coaching staff... 2016 recruiting, for the most part, on target... no meaningful injuries and the '14 athletes hurt now significantly ahead of re-hab schedule... younger players seemingly making huge jumps in on-field acumen... we're once again a favorite of the media to compete for a playoff spot.
"But coach, I had a prescription..."

Everyone's in for 12-0, right?

Then, of course, there goes Golson off to Tallahassee. Everyone saw that coming, right?  Followed by Bryant suspended for September.  

Is there a third domino to fall?  Sure, why not. Kay Corrigan always says bad things always come in three's. 

Whatever, mom. 

Kurt who?
But I say, despair not!  Before you start pencilling in your six win prediction, consider this:  couldn't Malik be our Dave Grohl?  Recall that he was just one of those other two guys who no one could actually name behind Kurt Cobain.  Kurt offs himself and fast forward a decade... one begins to wonder now who was the genius? 

The guy plays every instrument well, writes songs that span the spectrum of pop hits, melodic ballads and awesome I-think-I-just-hurt-myself-while-banging-my-head thrashers.  

If you're not familiar w his The Foo Fighter oeuvre, do so.  And check out out his documentary, "Sound City", or the 8-part Sonic Highways series.  He is the real deal. 

But beauty (and talent) is in the eye of the beholder and it's entirely possible I have more rose colored glasses on toward Zaire than the rest of you.  And with the way he plays there's always the specter of injury. 

I guess that's why we have these bets.  

This Year's Wager

The thing about this wager is that, in most cases, they’re binary zero-sum propositions.  Someone (or a few) wins and everyone else loses.  Because of that, one would think placing one’s (relatively) honestly earned money on the line would prompt a little of bit of consideration and analysis.  Jerry 'Magnum Opus' Castellini being the extreme example of this while Al David Marcel and Kevin Corrigan are at the other end of the think-it-through continuum.  (Although, in the latter’s case, his city is currently holding half of the 4 major professional sports championships so who’s laughing now?)

Which method is right?  History would suggest neither is particularly high potential.   So I offer you two opposing (musical) philosophies:

#1:  It's a total crapshoot 'cause you know you don't know dookie - neither does anyone else.  Understand the risks, enjoy the tailgaters and just have fun:

"This is a public service announcement, this is only a test.
Emergency evacuation protest.
May impair your ability to operate machinery.
Can't quite tell just what it means to me.

Warning.  Live without warning..."

#2:  You think this year it's gonna be different.  I believe the coaches and the pundits and the I'm-42-and-still-live-with-my-mother message board experts.  We're gonna be awesome! I'm winning the pool and untold (vicarious) glory when we go 12-0, 11-1 at worst, and steamroll through the BCS playoffs:

"You and I, tempted by the promise of a different life.
Time has fled, there's a constant battle running through my head.
I don't know what to do 'cause I still believe.

After all the foolish things you put me through.
I could always make a start on something new. 
And I've always been a man who's open to... 

"C'mon coach, all I'm asking is you go 8-9 deep in your rotation..."

Truth be told, I hear this song and all I can visualize is Feifar saying all this, standing outside Mike Brey's home, ala John Cusack in "Say Anything."  

Could this year's March Madness run be the beginning of The Big Rapprochement between the two?

One important note:  I’m still showing a number of folks who haven’t paid last year’s $25 fee.   If I've got it incorrect, let me know. 
  • Daryl, the Wills bros., Brian, Bose, Ungie.
  • The would-be winners until everyone decided to roll it over:  Alvin, Gutsch, Randy, Dennis.
But given that a lot of people did contribute... pay up.

 Which Dan Are You?
ND Implication
Daniel Day Lewis

Greatest actor of our generation.  And he’s Irish.  Does it get any better than that?

I think not.

Danny Noonan

In the sequel that never got made, he went on to become a wealthy hedge fund manager, avoids jail,  buys Bushwood, and maintains Lacy Underalls as his mistress.  

 Nice recovery from a somewhat shaky start.

Lt. Dan

Heroic, absolutely.
Sympathetic, without any doubt. 
Successful small business owner, impressive.

Still a paraplegic. 

Who wants to trade 
places with him?

Danny Torrance

Redrum!  Redrum!

Sure he survived but still sees Scatman Crothers in his dreams, even after graduating from Mother Theresa’s School For The Irretrievably Unbalanced.  

Not exactly a success story.

Dante Alighieri

He didn’t write 'Paradiso', he wrote Inferno.  

As in Hell. 

Which is where ND football would be if this occurs.

Word for the Wager.
Sophomaniac (n.)

  • One laboring under the delusion that he or she is wise.
Used in a sentence:  Young Terry loved that wagers - and ND football wagers in particular - always brought out the sophomaniac in all his friends.  Delusion, as well as misery, loves company.

More From April - Augusta
As I watched the final round of the Masters this year, I asked the question to a few, "why does everyone hate Tiger?"  I didn't hate him, in fact have found his Duvalian downward spiral more fascinating than enjoyable.  In hindsight, the answers were fairly predictable. He's arrogant... a jerk... morals of a slug etc.   (And this was before L'Affaire Dufner!)

"What happens in Amsterdam stays in Amsterdam."
I knew Alvin wasn't a fan, which truth be told, is only one of probably several things Al and I aren't aligned on - though to be fair there's many things we do agree, like a love of dogs and a certain inexplicable fascination w the Dutch. 

But along came young Mr. Spieth. And again in June.  Bi-coastal major winner! 
"Au revior, Ti-ger..."

It would seem the PGA now has its young guns. 

By the way, Jordan, I have two single daughters - you can have either one.  

Or both!  

And all my camels...

Schadenfreude of The Season

  • Cavaliers.  To the extent that I can muster any interest in the NBA, it's fair to say I'll probably never be able to root for a Lebron-led team.  Sorry, Cleveland / Iggy alums.  Plus the Warriors are just too much fun.  
  • Germany Women's World Cup.  Honestly, who doesn't still love cheering against the Germans in anything (although the French are a very tempting alternative).  So when their player missed their first penalty kick ever in WC competition, isn't that the very definition of ironic schadenfreude? Yes, Terry, yes it is.  USA!  USA!
Terry's Trolls

"You like yourself, don't you Phil?"
There may not be many teams to cheer against in the off season, but there's never a shortage of buttheads. In no particular order:

1.  Phil Jackson.  You are a Zen Master, yes?  What you aren't any more, apparently, is a Basketball Master.  Witness a) that awesome Knicks team you're building and b) your observation that you can't win in the NBA with 3 pt. shooting.  Did you even watch any of the playoffs? 

The Jim Harbaugh Story, coming Christmas 2016

2.  Jim Harbaugh.  It really isn't a crime to be devoid of any social skills, coach. Thousands of the autistic manage just fine.  It's just that when you go on a radio show, even for a clown like Colin Cowher, there is a certain expectation that you'll, you know, carry a conversation.  And by the way, despite your protestations, you are running guys off your team. 

3.  Puff Daddy.   Most parents learn pretty early that you can't fight your children's battles for them.  In fact, you typically only make it worse. Evidently you skipped that parenting class when you went to confront the UCLA Strength & Conditioning coach for calling your son spoiled and entitled.  Thus proving to his teammates that your son is, in fact, spoiled and entitled.  Father of the Year. 

4.  De'Andre Johnson.  Carrying on the fine tradition of FSU QB's keeping up the symbiotic relationship between the football program and the local cops, well done.  Caught on tape punching a woman, that earned you a... misdemeanor. Jimbo and Tallahassee law enforcement dropping the hammer!  I'm sure you'll be active by the 3rd week of September. 

5.  Tallahassee Police Dept.  You're keeping up your high standards of excellence as well, having sent Deadspin a copy of the incident report... heavily redacted except for the woman's name.  Nice.  

6.  Greg Bryant.  For a guy who wants to be The Man, you have a funny way of showing focus.  And discipline. 

7.  Warren Sapp.  You were a tool at the U, you were a tool at the Bucs and you're still a tool.  This time, however, you're apparently a serial domestic violence tool who smacks around girlfriends and hookers.  Hope you saved your money 'cause you're gonna be ringing up some serious legal fees.

An English Major Walks Into A Bar…

One Flew Over The Cosmo’s Nest

(One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, 1962)
by Ken Kesey

Kesey’s groundbreaking novel, written while he was a student at Stanford, was drawn from his stint as a psych ward employee – when he wasn’t volunteering in LSD ‘trials’ on the side.  Best work-study job ever.

Though narrated by a paranoid side-character, the hero of the story is RP McMurphy who leads his fellow mental patients in a rebellion against Nurse Ratched, a needle-wielding vixen who represents the tyranny of society while raising the question, “Seriously.  Who’s the real crazy here?”

Liberate your own betting orthodoxies* with a Cosmo you’d be loopy to pass on:

*it's not like they've worked to-date. 
  • ·       1 ½ oz. vodka
  • ·       1 oz. cranberry juice
  • ·       ½ oz. triple sec
  • ·       ½ oz. lime juice

Combine the ingredients with ice in a shaker.  Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Code blue: it’s hard to stop at just one of these – especially if all the other voices in your head are parched too.

Final Thought - I

Who says 'Truth In Advertising Is Dead'?  

Final Thought - II

Most awesome father - daughter wedding dance ever?  Or disturbing Haitian exorcism ritual?

Congrats, Jerome - incredible evening, gorgeous bride, impressive son-in-law.  Thanks for including us. 

Final Thought III

This one's for you, Arty. And Matt. And Alvin.  And everyone else who's lost their father, recently or not.  Truly wonderful movie, absolutely perfect song.

"And the road the old man paved, the broken seams along the way. 
The rusted signs, left just for me - he was guiding me, love, his own way.
Now the man of the hour is taking his final bow
As the curtain comes down, I feel this is just good-bye for now..."