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Monday, September 7, 2020

Labor Day: Have A Cigar

"If an officer stops you, promise me you'll always be polite
And that you'll never ever run away
Promise mama you'll keep your hands in sight...

Dateline:  Chicago, September 1, 2020.  Villa Lini.  Again. 


Your building really needs 

to beef up its security... 

Well, suffice to say, Linipalooza was a little different this year... understandable in these uncertain times.  

I didn't count numbers but attendance appeared down.

But some things never change:  copious amounts of wine, tasty culinary delights, challenging conversations and inevitably the surprise guest.

The question was, who counts as the surprise?

Gruley, the new Floridian who declared in a most Hemingway-Meets-DiCaprio-In-The Revenant fashion, he was here 'on his way north...'

Hunting Big Game, Bryan?  Facebook would suggest, more like to Eating Big Pie. 

Or Ungie?  Perhaps more accurately, the Reverend Ungashick, making a flyby on his way to officiating a wedding ceremony.  Excuse me? Halloween isn't for almost two more months.

But, of course, it makes perfect sense upon reflection - who among us hasn't found ourselves attending a midnight service at the Church of Ungie?  Salvation may not be on the agenda but the sermons are fabulous!


"Not many people know, Mark, 
the northern Michigan 
blueberry is a wily adversary..."

What that evening taught me - and I learned many things - this football season figures to be a really interesting mix of the vaguely familiar (NBC telecasts!) and the very, very different (more on that later).  Buckle up.

Word of the Week

Used in a sentence paragraph


As young Jerrence stared into his wine glass - they're saying this 2016 Chateau Neuf du Pape was a good year... what was he doing in 2016... he couldn't remember what he had for lunch - he listened to the host expound on the future of education in America.

He considered the trajectory of the man's career:  from campus government  leadership to CEO and CNBC industry influencer... and in a flash he saw the friend's ultimate apotheosis:  

Secretary of Education in Kamala's 2024 cabinet.

Taking another sip of his wine, and meaning no disrespect to his pal, Jerrence thought 'if Betsy DeVos could get appointed, how far fetched could that be?'  Damn, this wine was good.

Quote of The Day
"The object of life is not to be on the side 
of the majority but to escape finding 
oneself in the ranks of the insane…" 
                                      Marcus Aurelius

Well, Marc, maybe in 180 A.D.  But that was before the SEC was formed.

One-Week-To-Kickoff Observations

"Have you seen the chart?
It's a hell of a start,
It could be made into a monster,
If we all pull together as a team.."

"And did we tell you the name of the game, boy?
We call it "Riding The Gravy Train..."

Okay, raise your hand - be honest - if you thought we were going to have a football season? And speaking of being honest, we still may not.  Or at least a full, uninterrupted season as we're used to...

But hey, money talks.  So celebrate while you can!

Whatever news of the actual team's preparation is fairly limited and of a level that you probably know.  Allow me to summarize:
  • The offense should be pretty good, and should have Kevin Austin (broken foot) back by when the meaningful October games kick in.
  • The O-line should be really good - be isn't that pretty much an annual proclamation?
  • The defense, while not having the obvious studs of recent years, should also be very, very good.  Prepare to say byeeee to coach Lea after this year.
  • In Vegas prop bets it looks like this: 

In more mundane news that you surely already know but allows me to fill up space... 
  • Attendance will be limited to students, faculty/staff and families of the home and visiting teams for the first five home games. 
  • For the sixth, a Dec. 5 date with Syracuse, there may be a chance for the general public to attend that game.
    • Fall semester ends just before Thanksgiving, so there will be no students on campus and no campus bubble to protect. Hmmm.
    • Can you say, "tailgater?!" Who knows the code to Sully's condo?
Should we ever get to that point - and looking to tailgate in December, in South Bend, could suggest a psychosis where perhaps COVID is not the biggest issue one needs to worry about.  That said:

• Tailgating, loitering and open containers will not be permitted anywhere on campus.

• Masks must be worn on campus at all times and are a requirement to enter Notre Dame Stadium (except for children under 2).

• Parking lots will open 2 1/2 hours prior to kickoff for ticketed guests. Parking will be complimentary, and game tickets are required to gain entrance to the controlled event lots on game day.

• Fans will be permitted to bring hand sanitizer (not to exceed 4 oz.) into the stadium.

• Stadium gates will open two hours prior to kickoff. For guests seated in the stadium bowl, entry times will be noted on mobile tickets. Ticketed patrons are encouraged to arrive at their suggested entry time and maintain physical distancing while waiting in line.

• Phone charging stations and the seat cushion program will not be available.

• Game programs will not be printed. Complimentary digital game programs will be available for fans to download on

• The Rally House is a new VIP* experience where fans can connect with each other and ND celebrities through exclusive online watch parties prior to / during each home game.

Fans can purchase a Rally House season pass for all six home games and postseason games for $49 or a single-game pass for $15.

* using the term loosely. 

Buddy's Buddy


Permit me to talk out of both sides of my mouth, on Buddy's behalf:

1) I have great trepidation about blanketly having schools - at any educational level - open without there being better protocols / resources to manage the process.

2) I fully support ND giving it a shot and trying to maintain not only the football season but the on-campus experience for the student body. Do I think revenue stream is a factor?  Absolutely.  Do I think ND will be successful in keeping it together?  50-50, at best.  

But at least they're trying.


For as smart as ND leadership has historically been, it's always amazed me how conflicted they seem to be about the school's football legacy in relation to its elite academic (Catholic)  mission.  

It's not like the two sides are mutually exclusive.  To me, they've actually, always, been symbiotic.  

So to not try to deliver the game day, autumn Saturday experience - even in some mutated form - would've been a disappointment.

Bravi a tutti, Fr. Jenkins and Mr. Swarbrick.  Fingers crossed...

Question of the Week

Speaking of Jack, rather than leverage (read steal) information from The Athletic, here's a Q&A with him on a variety of topics that may or may not be of interest to you ....

Q: Can you elaborate a little bit more about the Rally House experience and why this was created and what you hope it becomes?

Swarbrick: I challenged our media staff to develop ways in which our fans could feel as connected as if they were with us. I think that’s our primary responsibility.

We had to implement a policy where it was limited to students, faculty and staff. So all those fans, who have come for so many years and to whom it’s so important and can’t be with us, we have an obligation to make alternatives available to them any way we can.

Q: Is there anything about the game day experience on NBC that changes, since most fans will only be able to experience the game that way?

JS: I think the short answer is no. It should be a lot like what they’re used to, but it’s also why these additional elements that we’re building are so important.

I could not be more happy with the broadcast crew we’ve drawn. I’m so excited. Mike Tirico is the best in the business, but to have Tony Dungy with us for a season is really special.

Q: How difficult was it to make the cutoff on no season-ticket holders / public beyond students, faculty/staff and families of the home and visiting schools?

JS: Where it started was the notion that students ought to be able to watch their fellow students play. So the starting point was, ‘We’re going to make a commitment to allow every student who wants to attend a game be able to attend it.’

“Other factors came into play. With physical distancing, what’s the impact of that? Once we made the commitment to the students, before we fully understood that it would represent 80% of the stadium with distancing, you find yourself with a very small footprint for anyone else.

“And it was natural then to keep it to the (campus) bubble, to limit the additional seats to faculty/staff.”

Q: Where will the families and the visiting fans sit, so they’re not mingling with the campus bubble?

JS: “Obviously there are limits to avoiding that. There will be trips to concessions stands and restrooms, so you can’t insulate them completely. They’ll have their own entrance and they’ll have their own area in which they’re seated.

“Our parents will be seated similar to where they’ve been seated in the past.  The visiting team families will have their own section more toward the south side of the stadium.”

Q: Will any of the premium seating areas be in use?

JS: “Not for premium seating purposes. We’ll use some of that space for football families, spouses of coaches, etc. We’ll use part of it for football staff, which can’t be on the field because of the strict restrictions. 

“Father Jenkins and I will continue to have access to the upstairs area, but it’s just for very limited purposes.”

Q: How will concessions work?

JS: Fewer stands. Fewer stand-alone kiosks. Mainly pre-packaged. Cashless transactions.

Q: When the game is over, how do you keep there from being congestion with fans getting out of the stadium?

JS: We think that we’re OK, given there are only 15,000 people spread around that much geography, that it will happen naturally. We’re going to monitor it for the first few games. If we need to discharge people by sections, we would. But our instinct is it will happen naturally.

Q: How do you create the home-field advantage?

JS: As you might expect, at the conference level, they’ve adopted very specific rules on artificial crowd noise. There’s really not an opportunity to do anything unique with that. It’s limited.

There’s a limit on the decibel level. The intention is its background noise as opposed to being spiked up and down based on the play.

You hope our venue, in and of itself, creates a significant home-field advantage, just because it can be an intimidating venue to have to come in to play in.

But beyond that, you probably are able to produce less of a home-field advantage, but you’ll face less of a home-field advantage on the road, too.

Q: I would imagine at some point the ACC is going to come up with guidelines regarding a threshold to cancel/postpone a game in terms of overall players missing or a position group being wiped out? Where is the ACC with that process and what might that look like?

JS: We’ve just got to be vigilant from game to game. You could imagine a relatively small number of players being out causing a problem if they’re all of a similar position group, from a player safety standpoint.

You could also imagine another scenario where you have a relatively high number of positive tests, but they don’t impact your ability to play the game or the contact tracing doesn’t take additional people out.

There’s just no way to start to say, ‘If we have X number of tests we don’t play.’ And I’m so encouraged by our results to date.

Q: The NCAA has essentially given every active player another year of eligibility. But as teams start adding players through recruiting and the transfer portal, have you been given any guidelines about expanded roster sizes and how those would be calculated?

JS: None. Until you have some other rule to follow, you’ve got to continue to operate under the current one. I know there will be discussion about this, but it will be after the season. So I don’t expect any further instruction on it until after the season.

Q: Now that we’re less than 10 days away from the opener and on the runway for a fall football season, what do you feel most good about and what still worries you about what lies ahead?

JS: I’m most proud of our student-athletes. You had about 1% positive rate in testing. That’s happening because they’ve been so great about doing everything they’ve been asked and very vigilant. And they’ve prepared for the season really well.

I’m not surprised by it. That’s the nature of this place, but boy am I proud of them.

What am I most worried about? I’m worried about the things we can’t control. I have great confidence in our team. I have great confidence in our plan for home games. I have great confidence in the testing protocols that the ACC has put in place.

Are we going to run into communities that can’t host a game? Or states that adopt travel restrictions or things that are completely out of our control that could have a significant consequence on the season?

I think we couldn’t be better positioned for the things we can control.

Q: How will travel be different from past years — and let’s assume there aren’t travel restrictions?

JS: We’re really going to be locked down when we arrive. There won’t be any interaction with family or friends when we arrive at visiting sites. I hate that, but it’s the right thing to do.”

Q: When the student population experienced a surge in outbreaks shortly after arriving for fall semester and Father Jenkins quickly pivoted to remote learning, had ND not pivoted back to in-person learning, is there a chance we would not have had fall football?

JS: After 28 years as a lawyer, you learn never to answer hypotheticals. I’m going to pass on the hypothetical and say, 'I’m really happy, but not surprised, that our students responded to Father Jenkins’ call.'

Cocktail of the Week


Autumn in Scotchlandia beckons.  The days grow shorter, the boating opportunities fewer.  

And similarly, the transition from light to dark spirits is upon us.  Like wearing white after Labor Day, how does one put brother Hendrick's or sister Patron on the shelf so immediately?   Or little Tito?

Not today, Satan.

A Time To Swill
A Time To Kill (1988)
By John Grisham

With a meager initial print run as a debut novel from an unknown lawyer, A Time to Kill wasn't exactly destined for a hyperbolic success.  (Until, that is, the film adaptation of the author's second book, The Firm, stirred up an appetite for the All-American legal thrillers that would cement John Grisham as a household name.) 

With echoes of To Kill A Mockingbird, Grisham's story of a young rape victim in a racially divided South was inspired by a similar story he overheard in the halls of his local courthouse..  

A time to kill?  How about a time to drink.  Take a seat on the porch - or man cave, or kitchen, the bathroom is your spouse is being judgey - and serve up this spiked sweet tea. 

*  2 oz. tequila
*  1 oz. Aperol
*  1 oz. sweet Vermouth
*  4 oz. sweet tea

Pour all the ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake for 5 seconds*  Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice and grab a gavel.  Verdict:  guilty - of awesomeness.

* Six shalt thou not count, nor either count thou four, excepting that thou then proceed to five. Seven is right out. Once the number five, being the fifth number, be reached, then, drinketh thou thy Most Special Sweet Tea."

Source:  Are You There God? It's Me, Margarita
by Tim Federle
The Season 

12            DUKE                    2.30pm      ET    / NBC
19            USF                        2.30pm      ET    / USA Network
26            @Wake Forest    TBA

3               Bye
10             FSU                       7.30pm      ET    / NBC
17             LOUISVILLE        2.30pm    ET    / NBC
24            @Pitt                    TBA
31             @Geogia Tech    TBA

7                CLEMSON          7.30pm    / NBC
14            @BC                      TBA
21            Bye
27            @UNC                   Thanksgiving Friday!

5              SYRACUSE            TBA    / NBC
12/19      ACC Championship

Wager 2020 - Taking the Leap..

"Come on aboard, I promise you we won't hurt the horse
We'll treat him well, we'll feed him well
There's lots of room for you on the bandwagon
The road may be rough, the weather may forget us..."

In many ways this is the perfect year for a spicey wager - so many variables basically coming down to one question:  how many games will actually be played?  What happens, kin conference play, if one team plays more than another?  Unlike prior years, this pool will ask 'how many wins do the Irish have at the end of the 2020-21 season, regardless of whether a full season (including championship and bowl games) is played or not.

Suddenly, Alvin / Feifar's 6-7 win prognostications don't look so dystopian if there's only a half a season played. 

At any rate, I don't have to explain to any of you - certainly not the Business and Engineering majors - the concept of Jungian archetypes.  Defined as universal symbols that derive from the collective unconscious from the sum total of human history - no biggie - they help determine the degree of one's individualism.  

So, in this context, one might say, what does your prediction say about you?   


Archetype (Embodies)



Marcel (Lunacy).


This construct, not officially Jungian... would surely exist had Carl met Dave.  New Jersey meets California with a sneaky, sly madness and a dollop of WTF.  The result?  A "he did not just do that" kind of guy.

Yes, he did do that.  He'll go for 14 wins if you let him.  


Gary (14)

John (14)

Moon (14)

Raz The Elder (13)

Peter (13)

Gutsch (12)

Bob (12)

Jim S (12)

Bryan (12)

Marcel (of course)


The Magician (Power).


 "Dreams really can come true" albeit in somewhat unfathomable ways, defying common belief... the Magician is a true Visionary where one sees ND running the table, at least to the point of making it to the ACC Championship and, likely, beating Clemson at least once.











The Hero (Mastery).


 Primarily motivated by proving their worth through courage and determination, this archetype suggests an ND season where nothing is easy and considerable success is achieved despite daunting, unforeseen obstacles.


Rev. Mark


The Ruler (Control).


 This is all about Dominance through Intimidation.  Confident, in control.

For ND, a solid year where an authoritarian mentality may not get them all the way to the BCS finish line. 





Mike G


The Jester (Enjoyment).

Here, we're all about having fun and seeing the glass half full.  8 wins could mean an undefeated season in a truncated, pandemic affected season.  Or it could just be '8 more wins than any of those Big 10 wussies had...' 

Either way, we had a pretty good time. 




Jim T


The Creator (Innovation)


 With a desire to create something new and exceptional where there previously wasn't, does a 7-win season indicate some unforeseen growing pains w a new OC and several inexperienced skills position players.  

A season where less than a full slate is played could still be a successful one, setting up a great '21 campaign.



The Explorer (Freedom).


Manifesting a palpable inner drive to push themselves outside their comfort zone - it's a "we understand the risks we're taking!" attitude.   Unfortunately ND can't overcome them all, whether they're internally or externally driven.



The Sage (Understanding).


 Seeker of Truth, Knowledge and Wisdom, this archetype may suggest a 'I told you it was a bad idea to play a contact sport during a pandemic'  scenario.  The 2020 season gets cancelled halfway through. "But, still, we were 5-0..."



The Outlaw (Liberation).


This figure digs anarchy, with a "you not the boss of me" disdain for rules. For the ND season that may suggest a 'go for it' mentality where the wheels ultimately come off - either from a team meltdown or a season's premature cancellation.


3 or less

The Innocent (Safety).


 A positive personality that craves safety while wishing for all to be happy.  Honest and with no ill-will... no agendas... they believe everyone has the right to truly be who they are.

Unfortunately, in an ND football context, The Innocent sees virus spikes with students back on campus and by the end of September, feels prudence demands that the plug be pulled on the football season. 


Mike C


Schadenfreude of The Week


Terry's Trolls

It has become clear, to me, that in this day and age, idiocy has increasingly become in the eye of the beholder.

And until football cranks up in a significant way - or the other sports* leave their behavioral bubbles, it is on very shaky ground that one can play the 'this guy is a tool' game.

That said, can we recognize our own ND students for IMMEDIATELY acting like college students and IMMEDIATELY partying the very first chance they got - and jeopardizing the football season?  Sure! 

Woo hoo!  Not that any of us would've done any different.

*BTW, José Altuve now hitting .224.

1.  Keeping with an academic thread... I have newfound respect for my academician brother / sister-in-law.  Not that they've ever come across someone this moronic at Penn.  Oh, wait... 

On the other hand, Wills / Maher / Behrens may have - allegedly - written something akin to this at my Personal Finance final senior year.  Of course they were at a disadvantage - having a) not been actually  enrolled in the course and b ) drinking at The Linebacker the prior 7 hours.  Rumor has it they scored similarly.

2. And then there's Lori Loughlin, the actress who paid $500k to secure their daughters admission to USC.  Sentenced to 2 months in prison (hubby got 5 months), the couple will collectively pay $400k and serve 350 hours of community service.  Our long national nightmare is over.

Final Thought

All lies and jests
Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest... 

Written over 50 years ago. 

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