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Saturday, January 16, 2016

Fiesta Bowl: Get Happy!

I know what Love is.  

I also know what Happiness is, starting with turning 59 and having your annual physical where the doctor snaps off that rubber glove and say, "you're good."  Huzzah!  It's the... simple things in Life one appreciates as one gets older.

So this is a happy blog...  filled with songs (like above) and witticisms (see below) that make me smile

Someone once gave me a t-shirt that said:
  • On the front:  The Thing About Me Is... 
  • On the back:   It's All About Me.
While my family would certainly sing, "Amen, witness!" to that insight, at the time I was led to believe it was a commentary about a narcissist boss we shared. 

Maybe not.  If the t-shirt fits...

So irrespective of how The Fiesta Bowl left you - reflective, disappointed, despondent, hair-trigger psychopathic (and I've read all those emotions on ND message boards) - for me the season was a satisfying one with the future full of optimism.  Just look at what I'm anticipating:

* Scottsdale for a week of 'business' (no fan of AZ but it sure beats Chicago in January)
* Notre Dame bringing in Top 10 recruiting class (February)
* Jason Isbell at Chicago Theatre w. Lisa, Shea and the Gruleys (February)
* Terry & Lisa saying Yes! to Naples (timing tbd - March?)
* Packers drafting Jaylon Smith in a brilliant forward looking move, even if he doesn't play a down next year (April)

* New series re-boots of X-Files, Twin Peaks and Mystery Science Theater 3000 (thank you, Kickstarter)

* Trump winning the GOP nomination.

* Seeing even more of Megyn Kelly. Woof!

* A new Gruley book (maybe?)

Happiness abounds everywhere.  And that barely even gets one through golf season in Chicago, much less next football season... 

Quote of the Week

This sentiment can also be applied to my attitude towards the 2015 football season:  

-  loved having it around for four months

-  kinda glad to see it leaving now. 

End Of Season Epiphanies

Sometimes one just has to recognize when someone else can say something better than you can.  So rather than end the year on more of my superficial drivel, I'm shamelessly stealing the thoughts of the ND website proprietor whom I follow, Mike Frank - by all accounts a lovely fellow and clearly several evolutionary cycles smarter about ND football than I. 

Inasmuch as this isn't premium 'news', more like an op-ed, I don't think I'm breaking any legal or ethical rules by posting:

It's all a yearly cycle.

In the winter, we worry about all those we've lost and if ND finishes strong with recruiting. Then spring football rolls around and we panic about depth and players not emerging like we like, and the injuries. As the season gets closer we dissect the schedule and conclude there is no way ND will win more than 8 games with the murderous schedule. By the time July rolls around we're all convinced that all the problems aren't that significant and that ND is going to be better than 'the experts" think.

As the season nears and fall camp gets underway, the first season injury convinces us that we'll never finish with 10 wins with X injury and the murderous schedule we just convinced ourselves really wasn't that bad.

After 3 games and we watch other teams, we start to convince ourselves that ND can and will find their way into the playoff---that is until the first loss----and then Brian Kelly and his staff are the biggest buffoons to ever coach college football.

As the season unfolds it goes from "ND is the best team in the country" to "I'm not sure we can even beat Wake Forest."

Until the end of the regular season where we conclude that ND was close to being elite, and they're really close to being elite as a program, but "X" happened and they didn't get there, but things are looking promising next year.

Then the bowl game happens and that shapes how we feel about the state of the program until we start to panic about the close of recruiting.

So based on the current situation, we will panic the rest of the way until ND lands a surprise commitment.

So expect a bunch of grumpy bastards until ND gets some good, unexpected news, and be assured we will all panic and bed-wet until all the signees are in fold as signing day nears---that's unless a bunch of good, unexpected news comes, which isn't going to happen because we suck as the bowl game just showed us.

Happy New Year!
"You don't farm in the wet sand.
But I do..." 

Inasmuch as I don't actually know anyone who farms in the wet sand - and without meaning to sound boastful, I do know a few farmers - I believe that song is a metaphor for perhaps doing or thinking a little differently. 

So you may not agree with my optimistic sentiment.  After all, the only ranked team we ultimately beat was #18 Navy but consider the cosmic number 9... which is the combined total rank of the three teams to which we lost:  #2, #3 and #4 - the first two by 2 pts. each.  Given the injuries, that's crazy.   9 is also the number of Ohio State players who declared early for the draft, virtually all of which are certain to be Day 1 or 2 selections, suggesting a) they're really good and b) perhaps school wasn't a high priority.   9  is also the number of ND's latest generational player, Jaylon Smith, whose devastating injury certainly didn't help the Fiesta Bowl cause.

Coincidence?  I think not.

Recruiting - Down To The Wire

It's axiomatic to assume that when ND finishes the season on a down note - disappointing losses in their last two games - that recruiting is going to fizzle out as well.  Not so this year with a Top 10-looking class... probably due to a) the world seeing the effect of all the injuries (and cutting the team some slack, b) the Showtime series putting the program in a very positive light and c) virtually zero sustained rumor mongering about Kelly bolting to the NFL.  Huzzah.  

Of course, one says that, knowing another shoe has gotta drop, right? But at this point, the worst that seems possible to occur is the inevitable finishing a close-but-no-cigar 2nd choice to a few 5 star studs,  This year's candidates include:

That worked out nicely...
* Ben Davis, LB (#7 ranked player overall) - Bama legacy but visiting ND this weekend

* Caleb Kelly, LB (#17) - Fresno kid, with a name like Caleb one you'd think he'd be a lock for Oklahoma.  And he might be. 

* Demetris Robertson, WR (#23) - from GA, had SEC written all over him but seems to really, really like ND.   Let's hope he doesn't get accepted into Stanford... 

When you're top 2, you have a chance, right?  With all deciding on Signing Day, any one of these kids would rate as a Manti-esque surprise 'get' and could start from Day 1.  Well maybe not in Van Gorder's Mensa-necessary defense. 

There are a few other 4 stars that round out the Class of '16 candidate pool for the last 3-4 spots - none of them have ridiculous sounding names so why bother talking about them, really - but these are the guys you especially want to pray for. Speaking of which...

Q.  Does one ask Kay Corrigan to do her vigil candle thing - typically reserved for only sons / grandchildren in distress?

Word of the Week.

Ululate (v.)

-  wail, howl, lament loudly.

Used in a sentence:    As Jaylon Smith went down in obvious agonizing pain, Young Terry watched at home and, in an act of unsolicited solidarity, joined the star athlete in simultaneous ululation.

Nearby Valparaiso woodland creatures ran for cover, perceiving a feral wounded predator was on the loose.

Buddy's Buddy

Sometime The Football Gods - they're irritatingly real, by the way - are total dicks.  

I mean, really, for three years Jaylon Smith is the best thing on ND's defense, if not the whole team, and he barely gets a hangnail. 

His last game - hello, next stop Top 5 pick in the NFL draft and a $20M pay out - and now, you give him the ACL - MCL Adversity test?   Not fair.   Not right.  

But he's still The Man and outside of Belknap's tie-breaker performance (see below), is Buddy's bud.  

Call it a Lifetime Appreciation award. 

The 2016 Schedule

Already turning the page to next year... 

3       @Texas                  Austin here we come... who's with me 'n Raz?!
10     Nevada         
17     Michigan State      Linipalooza opportunity?
26     Duke                


1      @Syracuse       
8     @NC State         
15    Stanford         Corrigans - how about it?
29   Miami


5      @Navy     
12     Army 
21     Va. Tech 
28    @USC    



Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner

And the winner is... in the closest contest EVER,  J. Belknap over R. Corrigan by virtue of the Stanford - Iowa over / under.  (If only Shaw had kept his first team defense in a little longer, Ry... yet another reason to dislike that guy.)

Well played, James, you are a virtuous champion!  

Who hasn't seen Jim make this move on the dance floor?
 Which Dan Are You?
ND Implication
And then there was one... 


Schadenfreude Candidate of The Week

Get used to assuming this position, Trojan Nation
1.  USC.   It just doesn't get old.  Especially all of the immediate buyer's remorse about their newly hired coach (if there ever was optimism to begin with).    

And if you're like me, who believes in "moderation in everything, including moderation", you'll enjoy this bit of excess:  USC's schedule next year starts with Bama! Two weeks later, at Stanford, Utah after that... 

How will ND Nation, SoCal chapter, contain their glee in a respectful, professional manner among their Trojan neighbors and colleagues?  Not easily.

2.  Florida State.   See #1, without the dystopian future speculation.  Sadly, they'll be back.

I feel your pain.  And love it. 

3.  Michigan State.  Who didn't love seeing Sparty getting their head handed to 'em by Bama?  I'm still haunted by hearing 'Roll Tide' for three hours in Miami in '13 - hope Spartan Nation enjoyed that experience. 

Terry's Trolls

1.  Everett Golson. Grandmama dies.  You grieve.  Got it.  But for two weeks?  Hmmm.   

Can you say, "dodged a bullet", ND Nation?
2.  Reggis Ball.  Sometimes it's the little stories that give you the most pleasure.  Take Mr. Ball, for example.  Memphis DB whom probably no one ever heard of until... after their bowl game, he tackled an Auburn equipment manager and stole a football.  With a whole lot of people in the stadium watching.  And videoing.  

Kids these days.   He was subsequently (and swiftly) removed from the team.

Interestingly enough, he had a great game - 2 INT's, including one returned for a TD. 

That's Mr. Unicorn to you, partner
3.  Fluffy Unicorn.  The name alone should merit him a Buddy's buddy nomination.  Instead, as one of the spokespersons of the latest pointless we're militia-we're very badass-and very confused group that's holding out in Oregon, let me just say this:  

You're doing your Righteous Cause absolutely no good by adopting the moniker of a plush toy.

Speaking of toys... 
It's a shame about Rey...

4.  Hasbro.   No Rey in your Star Wars: Monopoly game?  WTF, Jerry?  Are we now marketing to the lucrative misogynist target?  Have you forgotten children are our future?

5.  Daejuan Funderburk.   How does one get dismissed from the West Virginia football team, you say?  It cannot be easy, you say?  Daejuan begs to differ:  simply touching the hotel maid while revealing to her your impressive...  manhood.   Okay, that'll do it.  You mean that's a bad thing, coach? Um, yeah Daejuan, it kinda is.  Even in Morgantown.

The hotel maid variable, of course, makes me think of Graham Parker's "Hotel Chambermaid" and one of my favorite European memories - remember this a happy blog - of the family driving back to Milan from Val D'Isere after a ski vacation and the daughters, ages ~14 and 11, debating their favorite Graham song in the back seat... one being in the Durban Poison camp ("the Zulu's are rising...") while the other, if memory serves, was a "Soul Corruption" advocate.  Solid choices, girls. 

At that moment, I thought to myself, I've done my job.  

But that wasn't even the best part of the trip - that was reserved for the group sing-a-long of The Clash's cover of "Pressure Drop..."  I'm sure they don't even remember.  But I do. Honestly, the things that make one happy are sometimes just inexplicable.

You probably got class credit for that, too... 
6. Stanford band.  Fueled by an entitlement that comes when one is born with a trust fund, this group has long been the Class A Douches of college football halftime entertainment.  

So when they mocked Iowa at the Rose Bowl, it wasn't particularly surprising  -  wow, cow and farmer jokes! - it still represented something pretty unnecessary. But I guess that's what they do.  

Here's some advice: if you're going to be that self-important and condescending, at least try to be original. Or didn't that come with your gene pool? Or the $60k Stanford price tag.

7.  VontazeBurfict.  There is stupid and then there is Vontaze stupid

6.  Stan Kroenke.  I'm not even from Cleveland and I've always despised Art Modell for taking the NFL charter member Browns out of town.  (And to Baltimore.  Seriously? You couldn't have picked a more interesting city than that?)  Now we've got an owner who's already a billionaire, married to a Wal-Mart heiress, purportedly named after two St. Louis sports icons (Stan Musial and Enos Slaughter) and still takes the money and runs.  

Given the relative similarity in the sound of their surnames, one can't help but recall West Side Story and Officer Krupke:

"Gee, Officer Kroenke Krupke, krup you!"  A sentiment much of St. Louis can surely get behind.

7.  Jim Harbaugh.  Has everyone yet heard of this story?  "Michigan coach plans a sleepover with a recruit..."  Yikes.  

When 'Harbaugh weird' quickly crosses over into Harbaugh creepy.   (And that little tete a tete better be chaperoned or someone get Child Protective Services on the phone now.)

And you did this for a kicker?!  If one is going to meander down Pedophile Lane, Jim, at least do it for a difference making rush end.   

Speaking of children... 

An English Major Walks Into A Bar…

Rye And Prejudice

(Pride And Prejudice, 1813)
By Jane Austen
Austen's frothy 19th Century masterpiece, which brought the author little acclaim during her short lifetime (sadly, "41 is the new dead"), follows a family's efforts to marry off its five daughters, one of whom leads the narrative.  Unfortunately, Elizabeth - famously played on-screen by Keira Knightly's cheekbones - has a judgy streak that practically overshadows the love she has for Mr. Darcy, a stuck up, rich gentleman.  

If they adapted this for the American market, he'd have gone to Duke.

But not to worry:  there's a delectable double wedding in the end.  We match make two strong personalities - spicy rye and zingy grapefruit - for an unexpected marriage that'll get folks drinking, dancing and dropping old judgments. Like what tools Cameron Crazies are. 
  •      3 oz. grapefruit juice 
  •      1 1/2 oz. rye whiskey 
Pour the ingredients over ice in a rocks glass, stirring like a complicated heart.  We hold no prejudice against marrying up, ladies - we all did, after all - but you don't need a castle (or a king) to be a queen.  Alcohol does help, though. 

Final Thought - I

All good things must come to an end... 

Final Thought - II

With David Bowie's recent passing, one sees many a tribute and anecdote, one of the best coming from of all places Ricky Gervais (apparently Bowie was a fan of The Office).  They became email pen pals and upon Bowie's 58th birthday, Gervais sent him the following playful note:

                                      Happy 58th birthday - isn't it time you got a proper job?
                                                                                                          Ricky Gervais, 42

Followed quickly by the following response:

                                                                  I do have a proper job.

                                                                                                     David Bowie, 58
                                                                                                     Rock God

Rock god, indeed.  RIP.

Oh man, look at those cavemen go... 
It's the freakiest show.

Final Thought - III  (I can't quit you...)

Thanks once again, boys, for engaging.   Until next season.  Or next month.  Whatever.