These are words that begin the new David O. Russell film, "Amsterdam" and just as easily should be the banner over every one of these blog posts. (If one were to believe that everything written in Musings From 'A' Lot is based on 100% fact, well, you'd be leaning extraordinarily heavily on that word, 'based.')
"Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore..."
God love you, beautiful dreamer. Don't ever change.
Those words also represent an interesting juxtaposition for anything, this particular blog included, involving Las Vegas - a town where, I'm told, truth goes to die, the absurd is the norm and facts become subject to interpretation after a few cocktails.
All of which made Saturday night's proceedings so apropos.
Was the game's outcome not a little surprising / predictably unpredictable / occasionally uneven / wildly entertaining?
Viva Las Vegas.
Quote of the Week
"Rome wasn't built in a day."
English playwright (1497-1580)
No shit, John. Specifically the 'build' of the Roman Empire took 870 years, from 753 BC to 117 AD. And while I'm not suggesting ND Nation give our new coach that long, it'd be wise to cut him some slack - recognizing he's playing with a lot of kids he (or his chosen staff) didn't recruit.
Word of the Week
Used in a sentence paragraph: Young Jerrence watched the proceedings going on in Las Vegas, a town where the descriptor 'degenerate' was usually coupled with 'gambler. ' He thought that categorization overly and perhaps unfairly, limiting.
After all, his experience with, and around, Class of '79 Dillon Hall graduates (giving many of them the benefit of the doubt that there actually was a degree in the diploma jacket they received) suggested that when properly inspired, 'gambling' merely scraped the surface of what one would reasonably be described as degenerate behavior.
"Variety is the spice of life."
"Moderation in everything, including moderation."
Jerrence could hear those words emanating from any one of his Dillon pals. He was happy he was safe at home with his multiple cocktails and savory snacks. He couldn't imagine how anything but jail time could result from a Dillon + Las Vegas collaboration.
Game 5: Thoughts
TV Party tonight!
TV Party tonight!
We're gonna have a TV party tonight...
Meanwhile back in Vegas...
But is it really a party if there's only one of you? Yes. That is, if the wife is out of town and one has a loyal coterie of imaginary friends. And liquor. And a muse. (I call mine Jerry Perez, mixologist.)
"Hello, Mr. Daiquiri, have you met my colleague, Tom Collins? It's almost kick off, let's get to work..."
And let's also begin the Freeman v. Kelly "Wins Against Ranked Teams" competition! Given how difficult ND's schedule is over the next few years, if he survives Marcus is gonna have ample opportunity to crush his predecessor.
At any rate, after five games, one would think you could begin to draw certain insights about a team. Perhaps not with this group - the term, "Work In Progress" still seems to be applicable. So with that in mind, in no particular order, some observations...
Surprising: D-line getting pushed around.
Unsurprising: If you're a RB and you weigh ~ 220 lbs., ND LB's will not attempt to tackle you.
Surprising: Tyree seems to be regressing.
Unsurprising: Mayer remains The Man.
Surprising: How bad our Red Zone play calling is. If we don't score from 20+ yds out, it's FG time.
Unsurprising: How comfortable Rees is with any 3rd down with 4 yards or less.
Surprising: "Jaden Thomas, your table is ready."
Unsurprising: Pyne's passes sail high a lot.
(Of course he does, he's 5'10.")
Surprising: The D's propensity to give up big plays. Like, really big plays. At inappropriate times.
Unsurprising: Jaden Mickey looking lost (this ain't the Blue-Gold game anymore).
Surprising:Pyne looking like Patrick Mahomes (let's just not make it a habit, okay?)
Unsurprising: The running game, by and large, looking really strong. Long may that last.
Surprising: How good Manti Te'o was with post-game analysis.
Unsurprising: How dull Jason Garrett was with in-game analysis.
Surprising: Tim Corrigan not receiving a MacArthur Genius Grant. (Geez, Committee, isn't there a Seniors division?)
Unsurprising: "U. of Chicago prof wins Nobel Prize for Economics." (Geez, is anyone else even eligible for that award?)
Surprising: How good Bryce Young is in the new Dr. Pepper Fansville commercials. (BTW, this is how NIL is supposed to work.)
Unsurprising: How accurately the new Progressive ads represent the memory-challenged conversations between Jerrence and Defarge.
Yet another week when I seemed to be a game early on the rightful star of the game, in this instance Mr. Mayer.
Surely it's unfair to discount consideration for an athlete whose weekly performance is so uniformly excellent and yet, life's not fair.
And if I could tell the difference between the Ademilola twins, which I cannot (minimally, it'd help if they were named something like Malcolm and Owen instead of Justin / Jayson) one of them - again, not sure which - probably should get a shout out for his (arguably) game saving 4th down tackle.
But, no, this week's award goes to our oft-maligned QB, Drew Pyne. It's time to recognize just how well he's playing. A couple Pyne 'fun facts,' since the Cal game:
701 yds. (234 yds/game)
8 TD's, 1 INT
Sure, it helps to have 7 or 8 seconds to find open receivers but many of those throws were near perfect placements.
Freeman constantly cites his great decision making (although his INT wasn't an example of that - it looked like it was getting picked whether it got tipped or not). One would have to think he's only going to get more comfortable playing in big game situations (and by all accounts, the Vegas atmosphere was bowl game-like).
So if the O-line keeps playing well, this could be a Kevin McDougall-like year with a 2023 QB controversy looming.
Okay, I'm getting ahead of myself - he's not Montana or Quinn, or maybe even Book. Or probably, McDougall, But he's playing well and showing ND can win with him. So welcome to Buddy's Club, Drew. Like the Heisman House except with dog treats.
Or for this week, given the high regard Mr. Cincotta has for him, maybe we also call him Jerry's Buddy.
Special Recognition to the one I call Defarge and her NW Indiana Girl Scout colleagues.
The back story: After trying to deal with the GSA infrastructure who, frankly, couldn't quite bothered with the concept of doing something actually meaningful for the displaced children of Ukraine, Lisa and her fellow GS volunteers started a project last Spring to collect backpacks full of requested items, mostly basic staples for Ukrainian refugees. They hoped to get contributions for 100.
They put 800 backpacks on a boat to Europe.
They have another wave going on right now. Help Heroes is the organization that is shipping them.
All of you guys rock.
RE-PETE (A shameless, illegal lift of Pete Sampson's weekly mail-bag)
What a difference a few weeks make.
Post-Cal (Berkley) game, everyone wondered whether the offense could ever consistently score in double digits.
Fast forward three weeks, with improved O-line play, a QB that seems to be settling in, a 3-headed RB rotation and a god at TE, that question seems less of an imperative.
Which leads to: what's going on with the defense, the group that was supposed to be the team's rock? We kinda knew the secondary was going to be a little shaky but that front seven?
"Inquiring minds want to know..."
Entering the year, the front seven appeared to be the team’s strength. However, there have been multiple games where the line and the linebackers, especially, have had major flaws exposed. What can Al Golden do to address this in the second half of the season? Simplify the defense? Change the rotation?
It’s a good question. Notre Dame’s defense has been hard to understand — not because it’s been great, not because it’s been awful, but because it’s been wildly unpredictable within games.
When the season began, Freeman described the linebacker position as a team strength. Five games later, he has said openly Marist Liufau needs to play better, moved Jack Kiser to inside linebacker, played almost two games without a suspended JD Bertrand and managed the injured Bo Bauer. Safe to say the linebacker position overall, which is Al Golden’s domain, has played below expectations. Liufau seems a step slow within the defense, Kiser has been good, Bertrand has struggled laterally and Bauer has gutted out what he can gut out, which can only go on for so long.
One stat I track is individual “wins” by the defense on third and fourth down. Basically, who made the stop, got the pressure or played the coverage that resulted in Notre Dame getting off the field (or forcing a fourth down)? Linebackers have not delivered. Liufau has three wins, Bertrand has one and Kiser and Bauer 0.5. By comparison, Isaiah Foskey leads the team with six, and TaRiq Bracy is second with five. When it comes to getting off the field, Notre Dame’s linebackers don’t put nails in coffins.
What changes from here? The knee-jerk reaction would be to play Prince Kollie more, which has to happen if Bauer’s injuries sideline him. Kollie played 10 snaps at North Carolina and eight against BYU. It’s not a coincidence that work came with Bertrand suspended for targeting. But that role needs to expand because keeping Kiser inside feels untenable with Bracy suffering a hamstring pull and Jaden Mickey struggling. Nickel has been Notre Dame’s base defense this season, but that only works with a strong nickel. If the nickel is weak, play base with Kiser at Rover. In theory, Liufau should get better the longer he plays in the defense. Golden referenced outside expectations for Liufau not aligning with his actual production in early practices, so perhaps there needs to be some recalibration. Still, Liufau has the ability to flash greatness. Continuing to try to pull that out is the smart play.
Notre Dame’s defensive statistics are mediocre across the board, except for turnovers forced, which are poor. That’s not all on the linebackers. But the position hasn’t been as large a part of the solution as Notre Dame needs it to be.
Source: The Athletic
October 13, 20212
Cocktail of the Week
A game in Vegas requires a fun drink with a dark side, does it not?
The town is called "Sin City" for a reason, yes? And with Defarge out of town, Jerrence isn't driving anywhere.
Speaking of driving...
Taxi Driver (1976)
Directed By Martin Scorsese
Buckle up for a frightening film that won innumerable accolades (though, curiously, no Oscars) and permanently placed DeNiro and Scorsese at the top of the list of Hollywood's toughest talents.
Tracing the downward spiral of Travis Bickle, whose career behind the wheel is a far cry from his days in Viet Nam. Taxi Driver also brought a 13 tear old Jodie Foster to prominence.
Not to be out-acted by his middle school co-star, DeNiro was so "method" he reportedly got his cab license in his spare time - when he wasn't improvising one of the most quoted pieces of dialogue ever - "You talkin' to me?"
This rough ride inspires a blood(y) orange take on a classic cocktail.
1 oz, vodka
1 oz. gin
6 oz. blood orange juice
Blood orange wedge, for garnish
Hide your car keys, pour the vodka and gin over ice in a highball glass, and top with the blood orange juice.
Give it a quick stir and garnish with the wedge of blood orange.
Source: Gone With The Gin
Cocktails with a Hollywood Twist
by Tim Federle
3 @Ohio St. L
10 Marshall L
15 LINIPALOOZA XII
17 Cal (Berkely) W
8 @BYU (Las Vegas)W
19 Boston College
So how we feeling, all you folks still in the running?
Personally, I think the only guy who should feel even a little bit confident is Alvin.
But, hey, every week we're seeing progress, yes? Perhaps not uniformly so but improvement nonetheless...
Will it be enough by the time we get to November (or frankly, a week earlier in the dreaded Carrier Dome) when the competition gets stiffer? We'll see.
But stomping Stanford would be a really nice signal to send to the 9 and 10 win gang.
I think I see the light coming to me...
"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few..."
Brian M., John P., JP, Blayney
"Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts..."
Lini, Theo, Sloane, Dave M., Peter
"Diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions..."
Bob J., Gutsch, Jerry P., Bill, Bob S., Mike C., Pat B., Jim B., Tim S., Feif, Mike G., Phillip S., George, Mike B., Shea
"Never, never give in..."
Jerrence, Raz, Mark,
Bryan, Matt, Jerry C., Daryl, Graham, John, Jim T., Alex, Randy, Pat C., Gerard W.
"History is written by the victors..."
Albert, Garrett R., Brian W.
"When you get a thing the way you want it, leave it alone..."
"The best argument against democracy is a 5-minute conversation with the average voter..."
"If I were married to you, Mr. Churchill, I'd put poison in your coffee.
If we were married, I'd drink it..."
"He has all of the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire..."
"If you're going through hell, keep going..."
Schadenfreude of the Week
I know we're only 5 games into the season but this feels like a strong Schadenfreude season and only likely to get better.
At some point, Michigan has to play somebody, don't they?
As for USC, I guess we'll see this week vs. Utah.
But otherwise this year's mainstays - not only are they fun to revel in their weekly disappointment, their consistency makes for an easy update each week. Win-win!
1) LSU. You might ask, "Jerrence, are you ever going to ease up on coach Kelly?"
Not this year.
2) Oklahoma. 49 - 0. As in Texas scored early and often. And you scored, well, zippidy doo dah.
3) Texas A&M. You played valiantly, frankly better than one would've liked.
But you're still a loser, Jimbo.
And your boosters are not paying you (or your recruits) the big bucks to go 8-4.
4) BYU. Perhaps because I watched the Hulu series, "Under The Banner of Heaven" and got COMPLETELY freaked out by the fundamentalist strain of the Mormons (and actually, too, the church's base), you're on this list.
Words can make you pay and pay
Four-letter words I cannot say
Panty, toilet, dirty devil
Words are trouble, words are subtle
Words of anger, words of hate...
The same can be said about this week's Tools.
1) Gus Tucker.. Thank you, Jim Belknap, for pointing out to me the fellow (although technically it was the school) who started the absurd salary inflation for D-1 head football coaches.
2) Jarret Doege. Who? He's kinda the poster child for any number of things that irritate the bejesus out of me, after NIL and generally, the NCAA. This one happens to be about seemingly unfettered transfer freedom...
3) Jamie Gooch. Full disclosure: I loved the Harry Potter series of books - thought they were wildly creative and very underrated in redefining what heroism looks like - as well as their message about perseverance when you're that odd kid in school. The books also happened to be a source of enduring father - daughter bonding when Ryan and Shea were small - we'd read all them together, often aloud and doing the various character voices. It was a wonderful experience for me.
So it's always bugged me when one would read about the occasional loon, invariably a bible readin' southerner, who was advocating for a Harry Potter book burning (or some such) due to the series' supposed glorifying of witchcraft and The Dark Arts.
Are you fucking kidding me?
So even now, good to know those knuckle draggers still roam the earth. God loves all His creatures, especially the simplest.
4) Hans Niemann. File this under "More Things Jerrence Never Wished To Know Of Their Existence."
... vibrating anal beads.
5). Alex Jones. Sandy Hook shooting denier and all around conspiracy douche, after receiving a near $1B judgement against him... who is apparently outraged by the verdict: "A show trial! What a travesty - after all, I said I'm sorry."
26 people died, including 20 children who are never gonna see their 8th birthday.
Fuck you, Alex.
Final Thought - I
While we were away... happy anniversary, Lisa.
"I just wouldn't have a clue." Indeed.
Final Thoughts - II
As if one needed any more provocation to come to the Stanford tailgate...
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