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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Week 12: The Land of Hope and Dreams

This train - dreams will not be thwarted.
This train - faith will be rewarded...

For reasons that I no longer can remember or probably never made sense, during the family's Monterey Thanksgiving reunion, the topic turned to... Allbirds.   More specifically, Allbirds and my interest in a pair for Christmas... eliciting an immediate response from my Millennial daughters akin to 'OMG, dad, you even know about Allbirds?!' in that hurtful, dismissive way that only those who know how tragically unhip you are, can deliver.

And while I weathered the proverbial slings and arrows of their mocking, a far grander epiphany was hitting me:  good Lord, some of my friends - those that have been sporting these shoes for a year (?) now... could they actually be... hip?

No way.  

They're old. They're white. They're guys.  With names like Rasmus, Castellini and Flaherty. Hell, none of them are even from New York, where basically everyone know any every meaningful trend starts.  

I bet most of them probably still carry a Blackberry.

But that mildly jarring experience reminded me of one's ability, regardless of your age, to still be surprised - as well as a similar ability to surprise others.

And if anything can be comfortably categorized under the umbrella of a 'didn't see that coming' curve ball, it'd be the 2018 Notre Dame football season.

Word of the Week

Used in a sentence paragraph:  
While he was sipping the Ridge Vineyard's 2016 Zinfandel and the nice sales lady was waxing romantic about the varietal's terroir... Young Jerrence's mind wandered - as it so often does - to the timely, metaphorical significance of the primer she was giving us.

Terrior ('sense of place') - that which informs a wine's profile.

Jerrence was certain that ND Football's terrior was about to be re-established.   As an elite, a legitimate playoff contender - not just this year but every year.  And that prospect tasted awfully good too. 

Quote of the Week 

"Because I Couldn't Go For THREE..."

                Woody Hayes, 1968

When asked why he went for 2 in A 50-14 win over Michigan.

Thus capturing the Essence of Rivalry Week. 

Weekend Review

Dateline: Monterey, CA Chicago, IL

In my head I'm still there. 

Let me just start out by saying, flying Chicago to San Jose tuckered me out for a few days...

Understand now, I'm a card carrying Weenie Boy.  But still, asking 18-22 yr. old kids to bounce back and forth every other week AT THE END OF A FOOTBALL SEASON strikes me as a somewhat flawed strategy.

Of course they probably, hopefully, weren't ingesting copious amounts of northern California wine and Scottish single malts like Weenie Boy. But the point remains the same:  I think much of ND's less-than-dominant victory last Saturday night can be attributed to their away game-heavy schedule for the latter third of the season.  

Don't you ever do that to me again... 
Fun fact #1:  between flying to San Diego for the Navy game (10/27) and arriving in LA for last week's USC contest, the Notre Dame football team put on over 8,000 miles.  

In four weeks.  Yikes.  

Contrast that with the typical SEC team (lookin' at you, Bama) who, as the Chicago Tribune put it this week, requires a court order before they leave their county...

"Out on the road, out on the road!
You're Willie Loman, you're Tom Jones,
Vladimir and Estragon... Kerouac. Genghis Khan."

1st Quarter

This is why I love my brother Kevin - despite clocking in this year at an uncharacteristically pessimistic 10 win prediction (he was the original Mr. "Were you high when you made 12-0 your guess?"), this weekend he puts the ND team - and my liver - before that bet, stocking his bar thusly.  

So the Magic Macallan is locked and loaded. But like with all super powers, it comes with great responsibilities - and one must not flaunt them frivolously. 

Which is to say, truth be told, I was really hoping for The Macallan to be part of the celebration ritual - something of a libation victory formation, not a 4 quarter staple.

Sadly, it not to be tonight.

A thought to chew on:  in year's past, when an opponent would come out of the blocks strong, all of ND Nation would scream, "THE COACHES DIDN'T HAVE THEM PREPARED - FIRE THEIR SORRY ASSES..."

A sentiment I never wholly bought into - the players bear some responsibility for the way they play, right?  Their prep, their in-game decisions... 

What seemed different this time - not that I wasn't duly concerned - was that the players always looked pretty much in control, not panicked, basically with a "relax, we got this" professionalism about themselves.  

I found that interesting. 

2nd Quarter

The Jedi convene.

Young Jerrence, Man of Action. 

With the score 10-0 and looking like it could've been decidedly worse, and my bros looking at me like 'when are gonna start hitting the scotch, Mr. Fancy Pants Super Hero', he decides to call in reinforcements.

After all, what's the point of having a SEAL for a son-in-law if he doesn't have your 6?

So both Paul and oldest brother Mike 'cowboy up' - the latter joining me in the single malt, the former attacking the Woodford Reserve.  Kevin - we'll get to him later - opts to go the 'ambitious yet unpretentious' wine route.

And before you know it, Ian Book is knocking over poncy DB's for critical 1st downs and Finke is looking - again - like the second Coming of Julian Edelman.

Humility demands I say that The Macallan wasn't necessarily a game changing catalyst. Honesty  requires me to qualify that by suggesting I'm not sure it wasn't. 

Fun fact #2:  Four of the team's biggest contributors were totally off the radar at various points in their ND careers: 
  1. Chris Finke - a walk on.
  2. Drue Tranquill - 2 ACL tears (who returns from that?!)
  3. Ian Book - a complete afterthought when he was recruited.
  4. Alohi Gilman -  a transfer from... Navy?

Talk about a testimony to resiliency. 

3rd Quarter

Waiting to see the come-to-be-expected adjustments, happy we're only down three to start the 2nd Half - and guardedly optimistic about the way we moved the ball at the end of the 2nd quarter.

Defense shows up. Yay.

'O' takes a little more time but by end of the quarter, ND has scored the last 17 pts.   

Order appears to have been restored in the Universe.  

Drink up, Shriners.

Fun fact #3:  ND's leading returning rusher, from the RB's, was supposed to be Deon McIntosh - instead he's at East Mississippi CC (aka, Last Chance U.).  And Kevin Stepherson would've been, minimally, the #2 WR.  As far as anyone knows, he's in an Indiana jail right now for a parole violation.

Can you say, "addition through subtraction?"

4th Quarter

Weird to think that arguably Book's worst performance and his best statistical production go hand-in-hand this night.  One wonders - was it nerves (doubtful), inexperience (SC blitzed about half the time), the ribs (hmmm), rust... all of the above?

Still, I take far more positives than negatives.  That was a tired ND team, physically and mentally, against an awfully fired up team comprised (we tend to forget) of 4-and-5 stars.  Witness the Ohio State game earlier - those guys are really good when they actually apply themselves. 

Fun fact #4:  ND started and closed the regular season with the MOST VIEWED GAMES in college football.  Irrelevant, my ass. 

This game in particular:
  • ABC's best Rivalry Week viewership since 2012
  • ESPN / ABC's best November Primetime game since 2014
  • ABC up 55% vs. year ago

One last look...

Question of the Week

From this week's The Athletic / Pete Sampson mailbag (link here)... I like a good psychosis as much as the next guy.  And I looooovvvve a solid conspiracy theory - you'll NEVER convince me Lee Harvey Oswald made that shot with that rifle - but even ND Nation's constant 'ewwww, everybody is against us, hold me' paranoia gets a bit much. 

Lovely Rita Meter Maid - ND trending...

Don't try to bleed me
'Cause I've been there before
And I deserve a little more...

That song may be metaphorical.

Or it may be literal:  I show up in Monterey, play on their golf courses, amidst drought / air quality warnings and within three days it starts raining.  

And doesn't stop for ~4 days.  Which is when I left.

I am The Rain King.

Your welcome, California.
BTW, Notre Dame has been here before and we do deserve a little more.  Although a #3 ranking seems about right.

Buddy's Buddy

Okay, a couple things to throw out here this week...

There wasn't necessarily one person who this week jumped out (to me, at least) for Buddy recognition.  A lot of guys had their moments - Chris Finke, for sure.  Ian Book, despite arguably his worst game, made big plays when it counted.  And one can find, almost every week, a run that Dexter makes that feels like a game changer - the USC was no different.  

Defensively, the thought of calling out coach Lea for his 2nd half moves - think of all the YEARS where we've screamed 'where are the halftime adjustments?'   And up until a day ago, I was totally smitten with the idea of following Kelly's lead and recognizing our S&C guy, Matt Balis.    While we got away with it this year, Swarbrick's coastal criss-cross scheduling strategy was just stupid.  And it wasn't a coincidence, or Divine Intervention, that the D-line was so energized on the 4th quarter of their 12th game - that was the fruit of Balis' efforts.   Impressive.

But then I saw this article and thought, for this week, Bruce Flowers has to be Buddy's bud. 

It would be easy (and not necessarily inaccurate) to point out that Bruce had long been uniquely qualified to be an advocate / mentor / patron for those physically / mentally / emotionally challenged...  let's face it, his Dillon Hall years were like Diane Fosse living among the primates, only these being of the behaviorally stunted genus.

But here's the thing:  while I loved my ND experience, freshman year / 1st semester was something less than optimal:  the number of colossal douches* I encountered was not insignificant - clowns who were happy to share their near perfect SAT scores and/or All-State recognitions or the fact that they came from Texas Where Everything Is Better Than Wherever You're From.

But an older brother pointed me toward The Logan Center, where I ended up volunteering on Saturday mornings, and as cliche as it sounds, it kinda saved me.  You saw kids who were thrilled to dribble a basketball or make a basic craft.  Who were super happy someone was just paying attention to them.  And ultimately make you realize that your problems amount to zippity-doo-dah.

So well done, Bruce.  You da man. 

*no one on this blog readership, of course. 

Wager Time!

Congrats, Fab Four, 12-0'ers.  Where others see idiocy, you dare greatness. Though honestly, they're not necessarily mutually exclusive with you guys:

"About the only thing you can't do, is ignore them."  

Though, Lord knows, for 40 years we've tried.

Congratulations again.

BTW, for all those Bryan Gruley fans out there (and who isn't) that will be in the Chicagoland area next Tuesday (12/4), he's having a book event for his new novel, Bleak Harbor, where he'll be interviewed by fellow author Jonathan Eig ("Ali: A Life" and "Lou Gehrig: Luckiest Man"):

* Book Cellar (4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave.)
* 7pm
* Beers afterward


TC’s Russian Equivalent
ND Connection


Fyodor Dostoevsky

Who doesn’t love a Russian novel?  

What they lack in brevity they make up in ‘set your hair on fire’ pessimism.  

And Fyodor was The Man.  (Anyone who can write "The Idiot" 150 years ago gets my vote for prescient genius.)

11+ wins would be Dostoevsky-like excellence.

Dave M.John P., Brian M., Joe S.


LiniDaryl M.Raz the ElderJayBryanTed



First of all, dogs rule. 

Dogs in Space even more so.  Especially the first, and when they end up giving their lives in such heroic fashion, well... 

Like a 10-2 season, you probably wouldn't have cheered for Laika at the time but in hindsight, you’re more impressed with the outcome than you expected.

JPJerry CiJim T., DennisTim S.,  Jerry P.GrahamBrian W.Kevin C.Peter, CoatMan, BucksGutschJohn L.Spit the Elder,, Spit the Younger, Ryan


Sergei Federov

Is he the greatest of Russian hockey players?   
400 goals, 554 assists. MVP, Selke winners. 

He’s gotta be in the conversation.  

But, as my (then 10 yr. old) nephew once said, he was “that stinkin’ Federov” for many - so you have to be a little conflicted about him and his impressive career. 

Probably like 9 wins will leave you.

JerrenceBoseLindonianFeifJim S.Jim B.GerardMike C.,  Tim C., Bob J., Pat C., SheaBill B.


Vasily Zaytsev

Battle of Stalingrad.  

Germany v. Russia. 
Two snipers.  

The original Larry Corrigan ‘root for a tie w lots of injuries’ scenario.

(And boy did they deliver on that.)

So, not unlike a 7-8 win season, while you maybe appreciate Vasily's effort - - you really want no part of  the experience. 

Ray, Alex S.,  The Brothers RasmusMike G., Paul B.



Nesting dolls

As a wee lad, I received one of these as a gift from a family friend.  

I can still recall my little WTF confusion... as well as a visceral "you gotta be kidding me" disappointment. 

Not unlike what 5-6 wins would feel like.


4 or less


Any way you look it (him) this is bad. 

Really, really bad.

As would 4 wins.

Schedule - 2018

1      Michigan                          W
8     Ball State                          W        
15    Vanderbilt                       W
22    @Wake Forest               W
29    Stanford                          W

6      @Virginia Tech              W                  
13    Pittsburgh -                     W                      
27   Navy (San Diego)           W                           

3      @Northwestern             W                         
10     Florida State                  W                       
17     Syracuse                         W                              
24    @USC                              W

Schadenfreude of The Week

As we all know, the Schadenfreude Door can swing both ways.  God knows there's a lot of folks out there who have been rooting for ND to fail or, as a week-by-week fallback, resort to dissing the quality of the wins they've delivered.  Certainly those same people will say, "Alabama will still blow them out."

Maybe.  Probably.  No one's gotten within 20 points of them this whole year.  But know this:  there are a boatload of tradition-rich programs - USC, Texas, Penn State, Michigan, Nebraska - who've yet to make the BCS playoff.  And do you see any of them graduating 95% of their players, with Ivy League academic standards?  

I think not. 

This week's roll call: 

1.  Michigan.   This one is too easy and yet comes with more than a little inner conflict - how could one be happy over an Urban Meyer-associated anything being successful. (If he were leading a Girl Scout Troop, I'd pray for their cookies to arrive mysteriously crushed, preventing nary a box to be sold.  Sorry, Lisa.)

On the other hand, we're also talking about the insufferable Wal-Mart Wolverine Nation and their weird uncle Jim who you never ever want to be left alone with and is always asking whether you'd be interested in a 'way cool' sleepover.   Except he'd try to use hipper, more contemporary jargon like "it'll be dope" which would only freak you out even more.

But I digress.

Not dead, just resting...
So I can't lie that it's not super satisfying to have that fanbase bitch-slapped back into their place.  

And BTW, Michigan, our 24-17 win was not nearly as close as your revisionist history would like to recreate.  

Enjoy the Outback Bowl.

2.  West Virginia.  You're only on this list because someone had to lose in the weekend's almost-most-enjoyable, almost-most-insane game.  59-56.  

The next time anyone plays defense in the Big 12 will be the first.

(Being a purest, I give this game the nod because it didn't require SEVEN OT's to break the 100 over/under mark.)

3.  Auburn.   Do I care about Auburn?  God no.

Did I think they'd even be competitive, much less beat, Alabama?  Child, please.  

But for the sake of an awesome tweet (see sidebar), they have to be called out.  

Strategy - points for risk taking.

Execution - throwing to your punter? 


Terry's Trolls

As increasingly weary as I get with the ND fans that populate the message boards (the guy on my preferred site carrying the user name MikeyDogs ought to go by MikeyDouche) but generally speaking, they're a benign, well-intentioned and inevitably harmless bunch. 

But this week shines a light on a far more frightening breed of idiot - the southern,  mentally defective tool.  Almost certainly racist and with a solid chance of having spent more than a little time, ahem, incarcerated... I hope not to have to call these guys out ever again.  Dare to dream.

1. Baker Mayfield .    You might ask, "What if Jimbo Fisher and Urban Meyer had a love child?"

I'd submit to you the lad would come out acting a lot like Baker, fundamentally a tool with limited opportunity for maturation - physical, intellectual or emotional. 

This week's episode involves former Browns head coach Hue Jackson, who after being dismissed got subsequently hired by Cincinnati.  Coincidentally, the two teams played last week and after the game, a Brownies' win BTW, when said former head coach approached Mayfield, the ever classy Mayfield basically dissed him with a "It's Not Me, It's You" handshake then buried him in the post-game media conference because the coach had the temerity to seek further employment - from a conference rival no less.

I'm guessing Baker's never had the 'be the better man' chat from, well, anyone. 

2. FSU fans.  I've just got one question:  WTF is wrong with y'all?!  

Your new - African American - head football coach may end up being a really bad hire.  Or he may just have to clean house of low character chuckleheads that good ole boy Jimbo left him when he took A&M's money and ran.

Regardless, it's still just football. 

And one of you post a meme of him getting lynched?  In 2018?  Holy moly

I didn't think I could think less of the Deep South - but I stand corrected. Y'all make the clown who shot Dan Devine's dog in Green Bay look noble. 

But the really really troubling thing is this:  one guy did it but yuo know probably a thousand others were like "fuckin' A, bubba."  

3.  Louisville fans.    I don't why I'd expect more of a fanbase that still long for Rick Pitino's return... my bad.  

Perhaps you've heard of the school's recent pursuit of Jeff Brohm to be their next head football coach.  A former Cardinal who figured to be a slam dunk hire - doesn't every former player pine to return to his collegiate roots - he became the hot candidate this past year by returning Purdue to prominence mediocrity. 

 And I say that with genuine sincerity - not an easy task.  Hell, his taking Urban Meyer to the woodshed on national TV alone deserves a statue.

But I digress.  Petrino gets fired. Purdue's regular season ends and all of Cardinal Nation salivates for the inevitable.  Except coach Brohm says, "Actually, I'm good here. No thanks."

And... how does someone in the fanbase respond?  BY CALLING IN A BOMB THREAT TO WHERE BROHM WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL, forcing the school to close.

The mind truly reels.

4.  Lebron James.  This may be my only opportunity to get in a King James reference since they're certainly not going to be making any appearances in a May / June-timed blog.

Despite, or perhaps because of, being the best basketball player in the world, James has long had a reputation of being uncoachable.  

Essentially because a) he's the best basketball player in the world and, you know, why should he listen to anyone and b) he's the best basketball player in the world and what are you gonna do about it?

So when he took his talents to the Lakers, with a young team - coach and players - that both needs coaching and likes it up tempo (something that... yeah, nah, that isn't really gonna work for Lebron), it represented an obvious "how's that gonna work" question.

After 20 games - less than 25% of the year - it looks likes it's not.  James gonna be James and the young un's are gonna, well, what?  Follow?  Watch?  Maybe wait. As in 'wait for next offseason' when they're on a new team.

Cocktail of the Month


The Golden State.

And seemingly the Epicenter for disasters, both Natural (see drought, fires, earthquakes) and Man-Made (see USC football).

What more appriopriate film to cap off the year than this?  

The Dude (and Dome) abides. 

The Big Le-brewski
The Big Lebowski (1976)
Directed by The Coen Brothers

This trippy crime caper finds a Southern Cal slacker named Jeffrey Lebowski chasing down an elusive millionaire - also named Jeffrey Lebowski after the first suffers a mistaken identity mixup that launches him on a hilariously convoluted journey.

Featuring more pornographic subplots than you can shake a bowling pin at - and enough f-bombs to make a sailor blush, Lebowski may have been a dud when it debuted but has since achieved cult status as a midnight-movie staple.

You'll be The Dude when you make your buddies our fresh-brewed twist on the sometimes underestimated White Russian
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 2 oz. cold-brew coffee
  • 2 oz. creme of coconut

Talk about a dream sequence:  pour the vodka over ice in a rocks glass, top with the creme of coconut, and stir.   

Final Thought

BCS playoffs here we come!   

But why be satisfied with merely that?  

We're playing with house money... leave nothing in the gas tank.

The revolution starts now... 

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