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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Week 3: Night of The Living Dead

So divine, hell of an elevator
All the while my fortune faded...

The weekend started out so promising.

If the '16 ND football participated in the Rio Olympics... 
Thursday's weather - spectacular.

Lini's apartment floor - like new.

The bartender - 'H' was for hello.  And Hendricks.

The food - yummy and clever. (Okay, someone had to tell me later the shrimp kebab and tortilla combination was actually for make your own tacos.)

The guest list, only the Class of '79's finest most available.
No one said anything about a J Club branding ceremony...

And then there was my surprise induction into The J Club - a secret society so below-the-radar they make the Freemasons look like Kardashians. 

A small yet powerful cabal of like-minded men connected by a seemingly trivial, almost flukish connection. (How? I cannot say except to announce I'm in the process of having my name changed to Jerrence.)  

Wilkommen! Bienvenue!  Welcome newbie...
I was recruited Thursday evening when one of their core members was an absentee and they needed a fourth. For bridge, I thought? I barely even know the game, I'm more a euchre player. 

But it was no game and I felt like Lou Gehrig to that missing J's Wally Pipp. How would History remember this moment? No matter - that personal legacy would have to wait.   

It was pretty clear that I was already at their secret clubhouse... their lair... and equally convinced there was soon going to be a secret handshake, perhaps a decoder ring and a thoroughly righteous set of sweet ceremonial robes. With a hoodie.  Bring on the Gregorian chants.

So while my membership was still probationary - until my initiation check cleared, covering the sect's necessary (and apparently extensive) administrative expenses - I was nonetheless giddy with excitement.  To visit my alma mater's campus in two days with this on my c.v... unfettered access to the school's Star Chamber surely awaited. 

This was going to be a great weekend. 

Game Day - "Heard From The Bushes..."

Maybe not entirely.  To say that the actual football game was a colossal disappointment would be a bit of an understatement.  Not that they lost - though that was a buzzkill - but how.  But why hear from me when the night was full of opinionated discourse!  The following are thoughts, attitudes and rants heard from those around me through the course of Saturday night:

*  "We just aren't very good."
*  "You gotta show up before you can pass out."
*  "Did MSU give the game ball to Cole Luke?"
*  "Essentially we got punched in the face and folded." 
*  "Football is shit."
*  "Van Gorder is toast." 
*  "Our coaching staff is suspect."  
*  "Flutie must die."
* "Who's the guy with the porn star mustache?"
*  "That's not a mustache, that's a merkin."

Okay, some of the thoughts were more game relevant than others. 

And finally, if you're still feeling glass-half-full optimistic, handle this dose of objectivity... from an unnamed ND football site writer who has coached: 

- Kelly is a very good football coach, and felt he was 100% the right guy for ND when he was hired. He was Tom Herman before there was a Tom Herman. Would love to see him win at Notre Dame, so the following isn't something to take any pride in, but it must be said. 

- ND is no longer a playoff contender. That's unacceptable for an ND head coach in his 7th year. There can be no blaming Weis or Willingham.   
The current roster - whether you believe it to be overrated or not used properly - was put together entirely by Kelly and his staff. So whatever deficiencies they might have are on them. Blaming things on the school isn't an excuse either. 

I DARE you to run that jet sweep 6 more times!

- Not sure what to say about the D.  Don't think the game plan was as complex as previous games, so don't think you can blame BVG for that. How the defense is constructed and the poor fundamentals it consistently displays can be put on his shoulders, and that of his staff. ND has been a poor tackling team for three years

- The fact so many of the defensive players regress is extremely troubling. Rochell is basically the same guy now he was 2 years ago. Tranquill has regressed. Luke has regressed. The players deserve some blame for that, but in reality it's on the coaches to develop players, and
the ND players on defense are simply not being developed. Luke had the worst game of his career as a senior, in his 29th start. That's unacceptable. 

- There are holes on the roster, with S being the most glaring and the lack of an edge rusher that isn't a frosh is another, but the holes on the roster aren't why ND is 1-2. MSU doesn't have more NFL players on their D. What they do, however, is play a relatively basic scheme that allows their players to be aggressive and to attack

Missed it by that much...
Sparty knew it could not play straight up against our O-line. That was obvious on the first two drives, where the ND OL pushed MSU around. After that, MSU had their DL aggressively shoot gaps and their LB's flew downhill at the snap. At that point, the ND OL simply couldn't contain them, and the run game went nowhere after that. 

- ND has good athletes at LB with Morgan, Coney and Onwualu. When they attack with them - which has been rare - they have had success. Their insistence on using slow developing pressures makes them look slower than they are. 

- Kizer put up great numbers, but he was part of the reason ND fell behind 36-7. He looked rattled through the first 2 1/2 quarters. When they opened up the passing game, they gashed MSU. And those opportunities were there from the game's opening and ND not going to it before it was too late was mind blowing. 

- It's amazing how many times this team just gets in its own way. A holding penalty negates a 99-yard TD. A fumble after a really good pick up. A muffed punt. Missed reads or throws by Kizer on early downs. Two good run blocking plays followed by a blown assignment. Missed tackles, blown coverage assignments, missed tackles, poor run fits, etc. 

In all three facets of the game, ND plays sloppy and without sound fundamentals. When it's one or two or maybe a few players that's on the players. When it's program wide, it's coaching. 

- Contrast that with MSU, who makes you beat them if you want to win. They do not beat themselves. 

- ND is not as strong or as physical as top teams. They don't play as aggressively and last night, it took them 2 quarters to respond to getting punched in the mouth. That's on coaching, but that's definitely also about the leadership on the team. 

"You f***'d up, Brian, you trusted me."
- In theory, the decision to punt was the right call. If given random circumstances that matched what ND was facing one would punt the ball. But based on who ND is, it was a mistake. You don't put the game on the shoulders of a defense that has not made a big stop late in the game under VanGorder ever.

- Had Kizer not made the poor decision to take a sack on 3rd-and-2 it wouldn't have been a tough call at all. The WR's also ran very lazy and sloppy routes on the play. They have a bad habit of running inconsistent speed off the line. 

Great song. Just not as a ND theme song. Which it presently feels like.

Word of The Week

Iatrogenic (adj.)
Relating to medical problems caused by a doctor's treatment, especially as a consequence of a prescribed drug.

Used in a sentence:   Young Jerrence was trying to wrap his mind around the possibility that Saturday night's game might be just some sort of unintended iatrogenic delusion, brought on by Dr. Bob's prescription for Jerrence's thinning hair.  

Evidently not.

Quote of the Week

"Bob, who does Jerry think he's talking to..."
"You know, Judy, you're never even going to be able to tell when Jerry gets Alzheimers..."
Carol Rasmus
(without irony)

From one who is intimately familiar with rambling, convoluted, non-linear sequences of logic, I say, "Brava, Carol!"    For saying aloud what everyone else has only wondered for years.  

That said, who couldn't have used some temporary dementia last weekend...

II.  The 2016 Schedule 
Ultimately, there's really nothing more important than family.

3       @Texas                  L (0-1)
10     Nevada                  W (1-1)
17     Michigan State      L (1-2)
26     Duke                      Corrigan boys return

1      @Syracuse       
8     @NC State         
15    Stanford             Alumni Hall reunion!
29   Miami                 


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

What Does 2016 ND Football Success Autumn Recreation Look Like To You?

Wondering about how to invest your time, with your Saturday afternoons freed up?*

Books To Consider (beyond those written by B. Gruley or TJ Corrigan)

1. Atonement by Ian McEwen.  Not The Hillary Clinton story but rather an incredible tale of a young girl in pre-WW I Britain who misinterprets an adult's action, lies about it - changing the promising trajectory of a good man's life decidedly for the worse and then has to come to grips with the consequences through the course of her own life.  Wait, maybe it is the Hillary Clinton story.  Or the biography of our next head coach.  
At any rate, one of the very best written books I've ever read - every sentence is a joy. 

2. The Road by Cormac McCarthy.  The post-apocalyptic, dystopian America - where you never really know how the world got to be in such an awful state - will be familiar mental space for the Notre Dame football fan.  

Ultimately the story of a father's love for his son, you won't believe a book can have a setting this bleak - and be this moving.  Just amazing writing.  (And not too long for the ADD gang.)

Plus the very faithful film adaptation stars The Viggo so you'd have something to discuss with your wife.

3.  Catch 22 by Joseph Heller.  Do I really have to explain this?  The only way out of the army - and the insanity of war - was to declare yourself insane.   But one couldn't be insane if you were that rational to figure that out.

Thus the conundrum.  Almost as baffling as having a defense that gives up 500 yds / 30+ pts. every game and wondering... 

But I digress.

One of the great American novels ever written.  And certainly the best anti-war.  The ending alone will drive you to shout, "Heck yes - I'll give watching Notre Dame football another chance!"

4. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh.  Written in the Scottish vernacular, the book is genuinely tough sledding from a sheer linguistic standpoint - one almost has to read aloud to hear the Scottish words - but it's story is oddly compelling as it follows a group of drug-addled Edinburgh derelicts through their screwed up lives.  

Just screams, "make a movie out of me!", doesn't it?  

If you're tired of reading about narcissist billionaires and their skewed vision of world, you'll love this perspective from other end of the food chain.  The protagonist is a wonderfully self-aware loser trying to get out of the toilet, literally and figuratively. 

5.  Devil In The White City by Erik Larson.  No, not The Donald Trump story but rather the tale of how a couple of visionary Chicago architects pulled off winning (and executing) the 1892 World's Fair - while the East Coast elite snickered - as a notorious serial killer ran amok in the city.  The former plot line is actually more riveting than the latter.  

Read it now before the Scorsese / DiCaprio movie hits the theaters next year and you look like a total bandwagon jumper.

*to the 11 and 12 win groups, at least.

Next week - great TV you could be binging on if the written word is not your medium. 

Which Nic Flick R U?

Why ND Relevant


Raising Arizona

Genius from start to finish. And be honest – you never thought it’d be as terrific as it ended up being.

Kevin C 
Brian M
Bryan G
Joe S



Über clever direction meets surprising performances even if one is a bit confused by the overall journey.

Jay F
Spit the Elder
Tim S
Graham C
Mark U
Daryl M

Ted C
Dave M


Leaving Las Vegas

By all objective measures a high quality performance.  So why does one now feel so despondent?
Mike C
Matt L
Ray V
Jerry C
Brian W
Peter B
Jim S
Dave G
Tom F
Spit the Younger
Jim B


 Con Air

At times both awful and awesome, but with enough enjoyable lines (and stuff getting blown up) to distract one from the disappointment of what could’ve been something really special.

Tim C
Kevin M
Dennis R
Mike G
Jerry W 
Jerry P
Shea C
Pat C
Alex S


  National Treasure

Nowhere near great. But one finds oneself looking back on it more fondly than is justified. 

And if no one’s around... satisfying enough that one’ll watch it when it comes on late at night.

Al B
Jim T 
Ryan C
John L
Randy R
Garrett R


The Wicker Man

You've seen this movie before.  Literally.  And you weren't that impressed the first time.  

You're cognizant that you've entered The Disaster Zone - where career legacies are re-written.  And never for the good.

Jim R


Ghost Rider

Oh dear Lord.   You feel physically ill just watching this – and knowing it’s not an aberrant 'one off' performance.

and under

 Season of the Witch

We’ve fallen and we're not getting back up.  

How incredibly sad.

What's on The History Channel?

Schadenfreude of the Montb 
"Celebrating The Misfortune of Other Teams Since 1956"

USC.    27-10.  Good to see you back here, old friend.  May your stay - and your new coach - be a long one.  I say this with genuine sincerity, knowing this could also be our fate in about a month.

Oklahoma.  45-24.  "OOOOOhklahoma, where the wind comes rushing down the plains.."   

The wind comes rushing but not the wins, apparently.  But hey, misery loves company, doesn't it, Bob... and Brian.

And last but certainly not least... 

FSU.  63-20.  Oh, to have heard Jimbo's motivational halftime speech, when the Seminoles were down only 35-10. 

And to have actually witnessed that 3rd quarter when it went to 63-10.   That's what I call 'responding to the challenge'!

I wonder, did someone have to explain to him what was happening?

Terry's Trolls

Special Domer edition!  

1. Miles Boykin.   The game probably didn't change entirely on the bounce of an awful punt but it sure felt like it.    Should he have been more aware of the ball?  Probably?  Did the crowd noise contribute to him not hearing CJ Sanders yells?  No doubt.  Give the Football Gods just decide to give ND a good ole rodgering?  You betcha.  But someone has to pay, Miles.

2.  Cole Luke.   How do you not intercept that ball?

3.  Jalen Elliott.  Hey, how about Sanders' 99 yard kick return for a TD?  Or not.   That holding call kept the team's momentum, well, in the same direction.

4.  Cole Luke.   Um, about that final 3rd and 7 game-sealing blown coverage... you're suppose to be the experienced "assignment sure" one in the secondary.  As the erudite Dr. Rasmus so aptly put it, "Cole Luke was their bitch all night long."


Under my thumb, the squirming dog who's just had her day
Under my thumb, a girl who's just changed her ways.
It's down to me, the way she does just what she's told... 

5.  Nico Fertitta.   You had to get into the act as well - why get great field position after a (rare) MSU punt when one can take a dumbass unsportsmanlike penalty and back us waaay up?
That's a rhetorical question, Nico, you don't really after to answer it. 

Buddy's Buddy

We can all agree that absolutely no one on defense or the coaching staff should be even remotely considered here, right?

And it's too early to repeating winners even though both Kizer and St. Brown played well.

How about our punter, Tyler Newsome?  For awhile, it seemed like he was the only one keeping us in the game. 

And of course, no award winner was clearly an option for awhile.

But Buddy could always find someone to call a winner. Usually the family member with the food.  

Strong candidate:  What about Beef Johnston? Fat guy does good! Earned his tour card this week.  Good on ya, mate.

Stronger candidate:  Torii Hunter.  Played his tail off, as he always seems to (when he's not getting illegally targeted).   

One suspects that by year end, a common refrain could very likely be "he deserved better..."

Cocktail of The Month
"Match that innovation, Wharton!"
The First Rule of Notre Dame Football Club is...

You do not talk about Notre Dame Football.

Why would anyone want to?

So after Saturday night's debacle, one can see where this week's cinematic cocktail drew its inspiration.

And if the metaphor of having a psychotic alter ego is apt, one must ask, "where is the good Brian Van Gorder - and how do we get in contact with him?"

Fight Club Soda
Fight Club (1999)
Directed By David Fincher

And so it also stands to follow that the first rule of Fight Club Soda is you do not *hiccup* talk about Fight Club Soda. Featuring Brad Pitt as the least likely soap maker ever, alongside a very fit Edward Norton as a very unfit office worker, David Fincher's coming-of-rage manifesto on materialism divided critics as one of the most brutally violent movies of the last millennium.
And ABSOLUTELY no defense. 

Seems appropriate then, that a film featuring an underground society would become a massive cult success, itself.  DVD sales went through the roof  establishing Fight Club as a like-it-or-not movie mainstay.  

For such a potent picture, this soap-scented soda may smell sweet - but it pulls no punches.
  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1 oz.  Lillet Blanc
  • 1/2 oz. grapefruit juice 
  • 3 dashes lavender bitters
  • 3 oz. club soda
  • 1/2 oz. creme de violette liqueur
  • Lavender sprig, for garnish
  • Grapefruit twist, for garnish

Football night with the fellas?  Pour the gin, Lillet Blanc, grapefruit juice and bitters over ice in a highball glass.  Add the club soda and slowly pour the creme de violette on top.  Garnish with the sprig of lavender and grapefruit twist - and head to the basement.

Final Thought

It's about time...