Thursday, January 31, 2013

To Pay for Our Innocent Crimes....

One down.  Eleven to go.  A year that seemingly just announced its arrival shall - at midnight's stroke tonight - take up permanent resident status in history's dustbin.  I reckon that it is true when they say that in a moment everything changes.  If not a moment, then in the span of thirty-one days.  

There are carts and there are horses and being Irish I learned a damn long time ago about the importance of resisting the temptation to put the two in the wrong order.  That being said, the passage of tomorrows into yesterdays is not a wholly unwelcome development in my day-to-day.  Within the next sixteen months or so, presuming the continuing presence of good fortune and good health for all concerned, the Missus and I shall watch both of our children get married.  As the youngest of six whose father did not live long enough to see me graduate from grammar school, there is a large part of me that views it as my duty to be upright and accounted for all events through June 6, 2014, up to and including Jess and Rob's marriage that day, while also viewing any and all things that come thereafter to be gravy.  

Slightly more than three years ago I took up running as my principal form of recreation and exercise.  I run for any number of reasons.  The most important of them, though, is for my mental health.   I am my father's son.  While he and I shared only slightly more than fourteen years together I saw enough to understand the importance of peace.  Inner peace.  For all of his immense mental and intellectual gifts - and with the possible  exception of my oldest brother Bill - my father was the most terrifyingly brilliant mind I have ever known, he never seemed to find peace.  He chased down one rabbit hole after another in pursuit of it but was - or so it seemed to me anyway - never able to grab hold of it.  

I will never be any better than average as a runner.  In fact, three-plus years into it I am still hesitant to refer to myself as a "runner" as opposed to someone who runs because the former suggests to me a stature that others have attained and that I shall not.  Yet I hope to be able to do it until my knees and other assorted body parts break down completely.  It is worth too much to me to stop doing it.  


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Girl. A Gift. A Birthday....

Today deep in the heart of the great state of Texas, Suzanne shall celebrate her birthday.  It is almost unfathomable to me that the same little girl who used to request a Big Bunny performance piece as part of her nightly bedtime routine is twenty-eight.   Or to think that the little moppet who tilted and whirled on the Boardwalk at Point Pleasant with Rob and me is a woman who is "all growed up".

I would ask where the time has gone but I know the answer.  It has gone where time always goes - into the fiber and the fabric of each and every day that she has lived between those days and these days.

By the time the calendar circles back around to the same time next year she shall be married.  Big doings going on this year in our little corner of the world.  In slightly more than seven months (seven months and one week from today to be precise but who is counting?  That question was rhetorical by the by), Suzanne and Ryan shall be wed.  It is an event that brings so much happiness into the little charred ember in my chest that masquerades as a heart that I not only smile when I think of it, I smile as I write about it.  

Suzanne is one-third of the greatest gift that any person has ever received or shall ever receive.  Without her, Rob and Margaret I would merely exist.  I would not have a life.  It is among my greatest joys that she transitioned from the amazing little girl she was into the extraordinary woman she is without me doing any irreparable harm to her.   She is her mother's daughter.  It is the greatest gift she has ever received.  It is a gift that has served her well.  It shall continue to serve her well.  And speaking from personal experience, it shall serve Ryan well also each and every day of their life together.

Happy Birthday honey.  Keep on wishing.



Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Minding Matters

I spent a substantial portion of my Sunday morning completing my second-to-last long training run for the Central Park Marathon, which is now separated from me by just three Sundays.  Candidly, one week ago I was feeling a bit discouraged.  My long training run on the 20th did not go well at all - a combination of the bitter cold, the biting wind and the somewhat hackneyed manner in which I had gone about completing my shorter runs that week.   I created a scenario for myself whereby instead of giving my legs at least a day of rest before tackling seventeen miles in very wintry conditions, I ended up running twelve-plus miles over three consecutive days leading up to that run.   A classic case of one's eyes being bigger than one's stomach. In this case, it was my legs and not my digestive system that paid the price.  I ended up spending last Sunday evening waist-deep in self-doubt.  

I washed those doubts away this past Sunday.  While it was about sixty-five degrees south of balmy - or even warm for that matter - the wind was conspicuous by its absence.  Also, showing that even an imbecile is capable of learning from his mistakes (at least every now and again) I completed my shorter, interval runs during the week in such a way that I ran neither on Friday nor on Saturday.  When feet met pavement on Sunday morning, it was the first time they had done so since Thursday.  

Whether it was the rest, the lack of wind, the presence of some food in my belly, a better frame of mind or a combination of all of the above I know not.  All I know is that on Sunday morning, my goal was to complete my 18-mile run in three hours, figuring that if I can average ten minute miles I stand a chance of crossing the finish line in Central Park next month with my best-ever marathon time.  I completed the first third of my run in approximately fifty-six minutes.  And then something remarkable happened.  I gave back precious little time from mile seven through mile eighteen.  I completed the run in 2:51.56.  Please understand, this is not a time that is going to have my name anywhere close to the leader board on race day next month.  It is, however, a time that reinforced in my mind the fact that I have set an attainable goal for myself.  It is not one that is guaranteed to be realized to be certain.  But it is something that can be accomplished.  The ability to do so lies wholly within me.  

As noted Republican stalwart and marathoner Abraham Lincoln once counseled, "Be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm."   Sage advice indeed.  Even when you are counting on your feet to carry you 26.2 miles. 


Monday, January 28, 2013

True Blue

Last week here in the State of Concrete Gardens we endured the coldest bit of winter that we had seen in these parts in at least five years.  It was a period of days when people wanted to weep over the fact that the days' high temperature was as absurdly low as it was but did not and the reason they did not was the realization that the tears they cried would freeze on their face.   

One might say that the weather last week 'round here was fit for neither man nor beast.  Yet both the former and the latter did what had to be done in continue to get through their day-to-day.  And some did even more than simply that. 

Last Tuesday morning - when the temperature was a balmy eight degrees or so - Clinton Township Police Sgt. Matt Wilson earned his place in the "above and beyond" group.  Sgt. Wilson responded to a call that a resident had placed to the Police Department regarding two lost dogs that had turned up on her property.   One was a German shepherd.  The other was a Great Dane.   However as the woman and another one of her friends who saw her with the dogs and helped her gather them up and bring them into her home to keep them warm were notifying authorities that they had found two beautiful and obviously lost dogs, the pair decided that the time had come to continue on their way.  They disappeared from the house.    

A search ensued to find them, which search became increasingly desperate given the almost-zero degree conditions and then turned more frantic still when the two dogs were located:  they had wandered into a partially frozen pond and fallen into the icy water.  Both animals tried their best to extricate themselves from the water but could not.  And when the realization hit them that they had walked themselves into a jam from which there appeared to be no way out, they lost hope.  One of  them - the German shepherd - had laid its head down on the ice as if it had accepted its fate.  

And then something extraordinary happened.  Actually, someone extraordinary happened.  Sgt. Wilson arrived on the scene.  Using a rope from his police car as a lasso he ventured out onto the ice and paying no attention when it gave way under him - put the lasso around the Great Dane to hoist it out of the pond and carried the German shepherd in his other arm - and led them both to safety.  A rescue that witnesses described as "miraculous" and "remarkable", Sgt. Wilson wrote up in his daily log as a "lost dogs" incident.  He then changed into dry clothes and completed his tour.  

Samuel Johnson wrote, "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who does him absolutely no good."  On the Johnson scale, Sgt. Wilson comes up pretty damn big.  

All creatures great and small indeed....


Sunday, January 27, 2013

What Time is Adult Swim?

Here in the playground we call these United States these are several of the 'news' stories that made....well, news this week. 

An incumbent President's Inauguration Part Deux is historically a much more low-key affair than the maiden inaugural voyage.  I suppose that is why THE story that came out of Monday's ceremony was not anything our Commander-in-Chief did or said but rather what Beyonce sang - or did not sing.  Egads!  It was first reported by the United States Marine Corps Band that she lip-synced her way through a rendition of the National Anthem that she had recorded with the USMC Band at a rehearsal session that took place a day earlier - although the USMC itself backed off its initial statement shortly after it made it and instead called its ability to assess what she did or did not do into question.   After saying nothing on the subject for a couple of days, by mid-week Beyonce not only acknowledged that she had in fact done so and managed to strike a somewhat defiant pose with regard to those who criticized her for it.  

With that mystery resolved, we can now turn our attention to the really important question about her performance:  which was more impressive (a) the emphatic manner in which she performed the Anthem on Monday; or (b) the fact that the USMC Band "play-synced" all of their instruments?   Maybe it was neither.  It could have been President Clinton sitting through her entire performance without photo-bombing her once.   Kelly Clarkson did not fare nearly as well. 

While the whole "Did She or Did She Not" drama was being exhaustively reported on by the press - well those not detailed to unearth whether Manti Te'o from Notre Dame is among the world's most gullible occupants or simply its most self-motivated, you might have missed these two little nuggets brought to you by   a few of my fellow residents of the State of Concrete Gardens.  Both of them involve fast-food establishments.  Sorry.  It is not "fast food".  It is "good food served quickly".  I always screw that up.  

Earlier this week the exploits of a man identified as Tyrone Harris - described as a 26 y/o man from Morristown - and his brief, spectacular career at Dunkin' Donuts received a fair amount of ink in these parts.  According to the Morristown Police, January 12, 2013 was Tyrone's first day on the job at the Dunkin' Donuts on Lafayette Avenue.  Shortly after Harris had arrived to begin his first shift at DD - while he was in the office getting his name tag from the location's manager, he spied with his little eyes a bit more than $2K in the manager's desk drawer.  He had been in the store for seven minutes.  After swiping the cash, Harris reportedly told the manager that rather than stay on-site to complete his training he was going to go home and complete it on-line.  It was not until after Harris departed that the manager discovered his desk had been burgled.  America may indeed run on Dunkin' but Tyrone Harris?  He runs from Dunkin' as fast as he can.  The $2K he earned for seven minutes on the job makes him the second highest-earning per hour employee in the company's history behind only Fred the Baker....

And just in case anyone you know was fresh out of reasons to hate lawyers and the practice of law, we the people of the State of Concrete Gardens have just the remedy to scratch that itch for you too.  This past Tuesday in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Burlington County in Mount Holly two men - John Farley of Evesham and Charles Noah Pendrack of Ocean City - filed suit against Subway "claiming that the world's biggest fast-food chain has been shorting them by selling so-called "foot long" sandwiches that measure a bit less than 12 inches."   And what to Messrs. Farley and Pendrack seek for their troubles?  Other than perhaps a few additional angina-free days tacked on to the end of their lives that is.  They seek compensatory damages and a change to Subway's practices.   

Why would any attorney take such a case?  I fear that the devil is in the details of a statement their counsel gave to the press during which he spoke of his efforts to attain class-action status here in New Jersey and to thereafter initiate a similar action in the Pennsylvania state court system - in Philadelphia of course.   Happiness for their attorney will be fully realized if he recruits enough individuals who have suffered the same outrage as Farley and Pendrack for when Subway eventually settles this suit, which they shall most assuredly do, he will be not just the attorney of record for these two gentlemen but the "prevailing attorney" in a successful class-action suit.  While Farley, Pendrack and their brethren will get Subway Sandwich Cards and  autographed pictures of Jared, their attorney will be compensated in a far more practical and rewarding form of "cabbage".  

Class-action litigation has its place and it serves - when a class is certified for a legitimate reason - a very important purpose.  Class-action litigation has brought about real change in various manufacturing ventures and processes, which change has saved lives.   However this type of nonsense galls me - and I practice law for a living.    You know why people hate lawyers?  Because we make it so goddamned easy for them to do so. 


Saturday, January 26, 2013

On the Mark

This is a space where often silliness abounds.  It is also a space where often - likely more often than it would have to if the world was not populated by a seemingly unending supply of ass hats - anger is expressed.  Today it is neither.  

While I have a bottomless reservoir of self-loathing fueled principally by how it is I earn a living, the practice of law has given me the opportunity to get to know some really outstanding people.  And to the surprise of no one I am sure, many of those folks are not themselves lawyers.   For instance, by virtue of work I do for individual policyholders of one insurance company I have had the chance to work with really first-rate human beings.  Folks who remained a source of counsel and consolation to me when I spent my "Winter at the Reservoir" four years ago and devoted a significant portion of my day-to-day to scheming up ways to end my own life in a manner that would neither arouse suspicion nor impact upon the ability of Margaret and the kids to collect the proceeds of my life insurance policies.  Believe me, I am much more valuable dead than alive. 

Earlier this week one of those really good people - Mark - endured a very harrowing experience.  At or about 2:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning the carbon monoxide detectors in his home began to sound.  He and his family awakened and moved to safety.  When emergency personnel arrived - including the local fire department - the carbon monoxide levels in his home were measured at 990 ppm, which is far above a level that is considered lethal.  The cause of the problem was believed to be the furnace, which was not venting properly or some such thing (I wrote those words as if I know what any of them - after furnace - actually mean). 

Mark's life - and the life of every member of his family - was saved by their decision to install carbon monoxide detectors in their home.  I do not know what type of detectors Mark has in his home but the Missus and I have these.  They are inexpensive.  They are easy to install.  And maybe, just maybe, they will save your life.  

I live my life according to the mantra first force-fed to me by the great Frank "Hanklin" Gonzales:  


The Five Ps are no joke.  Just this week, adherence to them saved the life of a really good man and the lives of his loved ones.  Preparation costs very little.  Lack of preparation?  It costs more than you would ever want to have to pay.  .  


Friday, January 25, 2013

Flying Time and Pounding Pavement

We have arrived at January's final Friday already.  Seems - to me at least - as if this first month of 2013 has flown past.  Time flies when you are in the dead of winter?  Not usually.  At least not in my experience anyway.  Nevertheless by this time next week January will be but a memory, having ceded the spotlight to the best albeit shortest month on the calendar.  You wanna talk smack about February?  We have Super Bowl Sunday, President's Day, Valentines' Day and our own effing mascot for crying out loud.  

This year February shall bring with it my now-annual attempt at a very public suicide.  The first-ever Central Park Marathon is thirty days away.   When I checked out the web site earlier this week I was pleased to discover that the course map is now posted there.  Gee, at this scale it does not seem as if five loops of the park should take very long at all.   At the risk of sounding like a geek, a course that takes its runners past a landmark such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and through Strawberry Fields gets me pretty jazzed.  

I would also be lying if I did not acknowledge that a finish line in such close proximity to Tavern on the Green did not also make me smile....until I read that Tavern is closed and is not slated to re-open until this summer. Damn.  The race starts at 8:00 a.m.  By the time I finish the bar most likely would have been open, which would have served two purposes.  First, it would have provided me with a convenient location for my post-marathon Guinness.  Second, it would have given me an easy place to locate Margaret post-race.  

Thus far this winter the weather has been more cooperative than not vis-a-vis my marathon training regimen.    The schedule calls for an eighteen-mile run this weekend, which if the doom and gloom squad (also known as the local TV weather folks) are right might be a bit trying.  Thus far also my plan to compress sixteen weeks of race preparation into eight to save some wear and tear on my legs has gone according to Hoyle.  Each of the past two years I have felt my body break down at some point in the eleventh or twelfth week of training.  My solution?  Eliminate weeks nine through sixteen.  Whether it shall work is a question that I cannot answer presently.  Check back with me in thirty days.  I will have a much clearer perspective then. 


Thursday, January 24, 2013

At the Point of Intersection Between Life & Jackson Browne

With the trace of a smile and that defiant look in her eye 
She hurtled through space in a world of her own 
And turning aside my caress spoke of all that she'd not yet done 
As if I was the doubting one who would have to be shown

But on that freeway the light was receding 
Her beauty, a sight so misleading 
But I failed to hear the heart that was beating alone 

Jackson Browne is an artist who occupies a small amount of space in the jukebox of my life.  While there is a  significant portion of his catalog for which I have little feeling one way or the other, a number of his songs are among those pieces of music that I liked at first listen and for which time has not caused my affections to become attenuated.  

Slightly more than a decade ago, Browne released a CD entitled "The Naked Ride Home" on which my favorite track - and it remains one of my favorite Jackson Browne songs - "My Stunning Mystery Companion" appears.   The CD also contains the title track.  On Monday afternoon, while working on a day on which the courts were closed in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday and apparently scant few other offices (at least among attorneys with whom I interact) were open, I spent a moment on the site in an effort to catch up on the day's events. 

Upon clicking onto the site, among the headlines on its home page was "Drunk driver didn't know she was naked, Sparta cops say".  Given that "drunk", "driver" and "naked" are a trio of words that in my experience occur not too frequently at all in the same news headline, I did what the morbidly curious and blissfully amoral do - I clicked on the story.  In doing so I learned the rather curious tale of 36-year-old Catherine Giaquinto of Warwick, New York.  If you are able to read it (a) without SALTS and perhaps even LOL; and (b) without running a Google image search in an effort to see what she looks like, then you are a better person than I am.  But I suspect you already knew that to be true.  I certainly did.  

It is clear from the lyrics that Mr. Browne did not write this particular tune to serve as the soundtrack for a woman driving intoxicated, unclothed and alone through the back woods of northern New Jersey but as the saying goes, "If the shoe fits wear it".

Then again maybe not.  It is a matter of personal preference.  Just ask Ms. Giaquinto....


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

From the Dark Heart of a Dream....

The 47th edition of the Super Bowl shall be contested one week from Sunday.  This year - for the first time in the game's history - the opposing teams shall be coached by two members of the same family.  The Brothers Harbaugh, John and Jim, have led the AFC Champion Baltimore Ravens and the NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers, back to the Super Bowl after a somewhat extended absence for both franchises.  "Somewhat extended" unless you are a fan of the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs or New York Jets - just to name a few.  To fans of those - and several other franchises - it likely feels as if neither the Ravens nor the Niners have been away from the Super Bowl for very long. 

It shall not happen of course but admit - to yourself and only for a moment - that you wish the Brothers Harbaugh had some sort of side action going on this game.  Something akin to "Losing coach  has to resign his position and agree to not coach again in NFL for five years".  Too drastic?  Perhaps "Losing coach has to change his last name to Notaharbaugh" is more to your liking.   Or if you are of the mindset that requiring the loser to change his last name would visit too much disruption on the lives of his wife/children , then simply require the loser's first name to be changed to "Not as Good a Coach as my Brother".  They will not do so, of course, and the significance of this game - at least in my eyes - will become further attenuated.  

Of course, given television's tendency to over-saturate everything Super Bowl-related, there is a reasonable likelihood that by the time kickoff rolls around a week from Sunday everyone who is not employed by one team or the other and/or related to a member of one of the two organizations shall be rooting for the game to end in a tie with the two coaches forced to thumb wrestle or some such nonsense to claim the Vince Lombardi Trophy -  or worse yet to share it.  In the (if they are not they certainly should be) immortal words of one-time Dallas Cowboy running back Duane Thomas, who was of the opinion forty-plus years ago that the Super Bowl was insanely over-hyped, "If it's the ultimate game, then how come they're playing it again next year?"  And in case you are interested, Thomas uttered that remark prior to the Super Bowl VI in which his Cowboys were pitted against the Miami Dolphins, in which game Thomas accounted for 112 yards of total offense and a touchdown in helping the Cowboys win their first Super Bowl title, 24-3.  

All kidding aside, I do not envy Jack Harbaugh on Super Bowl Sunday.  The long-time coach (he led Western Kentucky to the Division I-AA National Championship in 2002) and father of John and Jim shall be watching the game from a seat both envied and unenviable in the eyes of fathers nationwide.  One of his boys will have an exhilarating end to the 2012 NFL season.  The other will have the most disappointing end imaginable. 

At least Coach Jack will be able to take it easy for a while once Super Bowl Sunday has given way to "Man Most of Those Commercials Really Sucked Didn't They" Monday.  Well, until Selection Sunday at least.  That is when he turns his attention 100% to college basketball.  His daughter Joani is not a coach.  But she is married to one.  I am reasonably confident that Coach Jack is looking forward to March Madness when he can throw all of his support behind the Indiana Hoosiers - coached by his son-in-law Tom Crean.  


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Prince Albert & The Man

The legendary Stan Musial died on Saturday.  Musial was ninety-two years old.  For those among you who do not know who Stan Musial was - for a baseball franchise whose storied history is eclipsed only by that of the New York Yankees - the greatest Cardinal of them all.   The statistics are almost mind-boggling.  His career spanned twenty-two seasons during which he hit 475 home runs and drove in 1,951 runs while compiling a lifetime batting average of .331.  He won the NL batting title seven times.  He won the NL MVP three times.  Not too shabby for a guy whose initial action plan for a trip to the major leagues was principally dependent on his southpaw delivery.  He turned out to be the best left-handed pitcher who never pitched an inning in a Cardinals uniform.  

It has been widely said and written that Musial the player paled in comparison to Musial the man.  Lest you think that this has been nothing other than an after-the-fact whitewash to conceal his warts and deficiencies (people saying nice things about him now that he is dead or some such thing), spend a few minutes reading the piece W.C. Heinz wrote entitled, "Stan Musial's Last Day", which appeared in the October 11, 1963 edition of Life magazine.   You will see rather quickly that what is being said and written about Musial in January 2013 is consistent with what was being said and written about him in October 1963.  A half-century's worth of consistent excellence.  In a world in which those we idolize on athletic fields for their feats of greatness are far too often revealed to have achieved them while walking upon feet of clay, Musial was composed of stronger, hardier stuff.  

Musial was a man who was held in high regard by all who knew him - presumably in large part because of his adherence to the words of Samuel Johnson, "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who does him absolutely no good."   Engraved on this statue that stands outside of the entrance gates of Busch Stadium in St. Louis are the words Ford Frick, who was the Commissioner of Major League Baseball during much of Musial's career, first used to describe him:  Here stands baseball's perfect warrior.  Here stands baseball's perfect knight.     

Perhaps as eloquent a tribute as I have seen paid to Musial anywhere is that paid to him by his great friend Albert Pujols.  Pujols was the superstar who led the Cardinals to two World Series titles before signing a mega-contract with the Angels after the 2011 season.  It is not an exaggeration to say that Musial was Pujols' idol - and not simply for his on-field accomplishments.  The two men - whose age difference was roughly six decades - bonded early on in Pujols' career and theirs was a bond that remained inviolate even after Pujols left Saint Louis for southern California.  

In a piece that appeared on USA Today's web site on Sunday, Pujols talked about his relationship with Musial and the love he had for him.  His one apparent regret?  "I wish my kids had the opportunity to be around him, because that is how I want my kids to live their lives.  I want them to be like Stan Musial.  Not the baseball player.  The person.  That's the respect I have for that man."  

It has been written that a man stands up.  The Man, by all accounts, did.  Every day.  For ninety-two years.  Unquestionably the most impressive of all of his statistics.  


Monday, January 21, 2013

There's a Darkness Upon Me That's Flooded in Light....

Today is the official observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday (we the people like it when a historical figure's gift to us is a three-day weekend).  It is much more than that as well.  Today is also Inauguration Day.  President Obama shall do what Presidents Bush and Clinton did immediately before him when he takes the oath to faithfully execute the Office of the President of the United States for a second time today.   Four years ago the exchange between the President and the Chief Justice of the United States (that is John Roberts for those of you devoted to "All Kardashian, All the Time") was a bit stiff.  Icy almost.  Whether time - and the Chief's authorship of the Court's majority opinion that declared "Obamacare" constitutional - has resulted to a "thaw" in their relationship is something I suppose we shall find out soon enough.
No person has ever been elected to the Presidency of the United States by 100% of the popular vote.  Has never happened.  It is impossible for me to envision a scenario under which such a result would occur.  Well, almost impossible.  I suppose if this little imp's name appeared on a ballot then all bets would indeed be off.  My point is simply this:  whether President Obama received your vote on the first Tuesday following November's first Monday matters not.  He is the President of the entire nation - Red State/Blue State, Me State/You State be damned.   Unless you want to follow the trail blazed by asshat Glenn Beck, you and I shall continue to do what we can to contribute to the continuing vitality of the Republic.  
My two favorite things about Beck's "vision".  First, the thought that any community that includes him could be defined as "Utopian".  Second, the fact that on his web site the promo for the television program hawking this concept is grammatically incorrect (GBTV Launches It’s First Reality Show – Independence U.S.A).   Note to Beck:  "Its" in that context is possessive.  No apostrophe required.
Whether the Republic continues to endure or does not is not an outcome that rests squarely in the hands of any one man but rather in all of our hands.    As the song says....

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Midnight Ramblings....

According to urban legend, even God rested on Sunday.  Wow, talk about a brass ball that even Lance Armstrong would be proud of.  Comparing oneself to a historically popular fictional character.  Anyway, if the Padre of Jesus can take a mental health day on Sunday, then one of his lesser mortals certainly can as well.  No swimming in the deep end of the pool today kids.  Here is to splashing around in the shallow end for a few minutes.  

Today marks the final day of President Obama's first term in office.  On Friday I saw on-line a piece that had  two photographs of the President - one taken shortly after he was sworn in January 2009 and the other taken earlier this month.  In less than four years, he appears to have aged four times that much.   Why anyone would want his job continues to baffle and amaze me.  On the other hand I suppose one has to wonder if the photos were genuine or had been conjured up somehow.  I was tempted to call Manti Te'o to ask him for some assistance in resolving that question but that poor bastard is up to his eye teeth in things to do these days.  Perhaps some other time.  

Margaret became an American Idol fan a couple of seasons back.  As a consequence of our newly-discovered viewership we spent Wednesday night and Thursday night watching this season's first two episodes.  Full disclosure compels me to admit that I have an extremely limited understanding of who Nicki Minaj is and have never (at least to my knowledge) ever heard a single song she sings and that among the celebrities whose continued existence I loathe as much as if not more than any other is Mariah Carey.  The two of them combine to produce an entirely unwatchable show.  I may pick up a mid-week, evening shift at the local Quick Chek so that Margaret can continue to watch the program without having to endure my mock retching and exaggerated sighing.  Thursday night I found myself rooting for Keith Urban to grab one by the ankles and use her to beat the other to death.  

I owe my appreciation of James McMurtry's music to my oldest brother Bill.  I had heard neither his name nor a note of his music until Bill introduced me to the latter about five years ago.  It is not an exaggeration AT  ALL to call McMurtry an American treasure.  If you have never heard any of his music, start listening to it NOW.  McMurtry is a Texan.  He is a gun owner.  And he is the author of what might well be the single most cogent, articulate and thoughtful piece on gun control, the 2nd Amendment and assault weapons that I have read in the aftermath of the seemingly perpetual specter of mass violence to which 2012 subjected us.  It is as worth your while to read the piece in its entirety as it is to listen to his music and by clicking this link you can read it from first word to last.  While it was chock full of good stuff, there were two parts of it that jumped off of the page at me because their common sense content was that great.


If we are going to call ourselves a society, we will have to behave as a society.  We will have to pass laws and make deals, and none of us are likely to be satisfied at the end of the day.  This is a symptom of a condition known as Democracy. 


The thread that runs through Tim McVeigh, Adam Lanza and Charles Whitman is not just mental instability, but rage, pure unfathomable rage. And we are an angry people these days. I don’t know why. I suspect that our world is changing faster than we are capable of changing. Some of us feel left out; some of us feel outnumbered; so we’re fearful and angry. Our societal anger needs to be acknowledged and addressed, perhaps diagnosed and treated, as do our individual angers. Our whole approach to mental health needs to be re-thought, and not re-thought in accordance with Wayne La Pierre’s moronic mental health data base insanity. We take our kids to the doctor for physical checkups on a regular basis, but rarely do any of us see a psychiatrist before contemplating suicide. We’re still scared of the stigma, the red brand of craziness, for which our relatives once would have simply locked us away and pretended we had never existed rather than attempt to grapple with the psychological complexities of the human mind and the chemical complexities of the human brain. 

We need to look at mental health as simply a part of health, toss away the stigmas and treat it, monitor it, and fund the treatment, a tall order indeed.

Wise words from a wise man.

Today being Sunday it is "long run" day for me in my preparation for the Central Park Marathon on February 24.  I am going to put eighteen miles on the soles of my shoes traversing the highways and byways of the greater 'NTSG Metroplex.  With a tip of the cap yet again to my brother Bill for pointing me in the right direction, I have added a new song to my "Central Park Marathon Training" playlist on my iPod.  I added it not because it is the type of tune to move me to run more quickly.  Rather, I added it because it is a tune that moves me.  And unless your heart served as the Seussian model for the Grinch's, I reckon it shall move you too....

....see you tomorrow.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Magic In My Eyes....

I am a participant in what amounts to a colossal sucker bet this morning.  The Missus prevailed upon me to accompany her on an appointment to her eye doctor and to have an eye exam myself.  Candidly I do not know what I was thinking when I said "Yes" but I know as soon as the word escaped my lips she was on the  phone with his office booking me a 10:15 visit.  My whole life I have known that I talk too goddamn much.  I  never suspected - given my tendency to say too many words - that it would be a single word that would prove to be my downfall.  

Margaret's eye doctor practices out of an office so well-appointed and so swank that it appears as if he has never met a person who has not needed glasses.  Thus, I reasonably expect that today I shall join the ranks of the bespectacled.   Fortunately Margaret's eye guy is first-rate.  Do not take my word for it:  ask him.  He is the source of my knowledge regarding his renown and expertise.  In the interest of full disclosure - and to avoid pissing off my wife should she happen to read this - she raves about him as well, which is the only reason I agreed to the appointment.  

Regardless of the die that has been cast my goal for this morning is to leave his office the proud owner of only one set of "required to wear" glasses:  my Polarized Ray-Ban Wayfarers, a traveling companion that has served me well since time immemorial.  If I am able to pull off that trick, for my next one I shall pull a monkey out of my ass or some such thing....

....on the plus side, when I pull it out of my ass I shall be able to see it.  That would be a nice change of pace I suppose.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Flying Pigs and Dropping Pucks

I am very happy that tomorrow night the New York Rangers shall finally commence this year's edition of the NHL regular season.  I am ecstatic because I am a life-long Rangers fan and have missed them terribly.  Also, I am ecstatic because I am a life-long New York Giants fan (note to those following at home:  I do not write New York "football" Giants because the "baseball" Giants began playing in San Francisco ten years before I was born.  I find it unfathomable that anyone, anywhere mistakes one for the other five and one-half decades later.)  I have as much interest in the two NFL Conference Championship games to be played on Sunday as I do in the outcome of next week's election of officers at the Marlboro, New Jersey Moose Lodge.  

But for the return of the Rangers, I would have nothing to do from a sports-viewing perspective save for watching previews on YES of the 2013 Yankees.  Before you ask, I cannot watch most of my beloved Buffs' games on the PAC-12 Network because Direct TV does not carry that channel.  February and most of March (up until Selection Sunday) were shaping up as being really, really long months - irrespective of whether that rodent in Pennsylvania glimpsed his shadow or not.  

Regardless of how the Rangers season turns out, I shall be happy to bear witness to it.  Sure I hope that it ends with them hoisting the Stanley Cup but being a Rangers fan requires one to view them in action with one eye on the game and the other on the sky - awaiting the arrival of the ever-descending other shoe.   My brother Kelly and I root for Cup-winning seasons with a fervor equal to that with which our oldest brother Bill roots for birthday-oriented pony rides.  The fact that the former arrive with a frequency comparable to the latter does little to squelch the enthusiasm of any of the three of us.  

Will 2013 be the year that the Rangers win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1994 and just the second time since 1940?  Who the hell knows.  But at least we are going to have a chance to learn the answer to that question, which as recently as three weeks ago appeared quite unlikely.  

Old time hockey.  Not a thing in the world like it.  Nothing at all....


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Me and Del Were Singing....

As I write this I am awaiting confirmation from the good folks who run the New Jersey Marathon (I do not hold them responsible for the fact that the stretch of Ocean Avenue that connects Long Branch and Asbury Park is essentially a ghost town in early May) that they have processed my request to convert my entry for the 2013 Marathon into one for the 2013 Half-Marathon.  I presume that they will not object to my request - given that they charged me $15.00 for the privilege of running half as far.   As my great, great-grandpa Phineas used to say, "Joke 'em if they can't take a f*ck!"  One colorful cat, old G Squared P Phineas was.  One colorful cat indeed. 

The notion of running a marathon in forty-eight days has not yet sunk in entirely.  At the risk of jinxing myself, I think that it has not because by compressing and accelerating the training regimen for the race, I am actually saving some wear and tear on my legs.  I only started "formal" preparation seventeen days ago and I have already logged back-to-back long training runs of sixteen miles on each of the past two Sundays.  This Sunday I am going to tweak the program a bit to go at least eighteen, rather than the scheduled seventeen, so that I can bump up to twenty miles by January's final Sunday.  Presuming all goes according to Hoyle, I shall be able to bank two twenty mile preparatory runs in anticipation of race day (back-to-back weekends on January 27 and February 2) and still leave myself sufficient time to taper down for marathon Sunday.

Someone much brighter than I (talk about a list of endless possibilities) once observed what happens to the best-laid plans of mice and men.  I hope that does not befall me this time around.   If it does again this year then it might well be time for me to face that fact that the distance is simply more than my body can sustain.  We shall see....

....and with only forty-eight days between today and Central Park Marathon day, we shall see pretty damn quick indeed.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

For the Queen of Bedrock

William P. (Senior) and Joan Kenny dropped a half-dozen children into this world.  All of us have in fact reached adulthood - although I suppose that the jury is still out on just how successfully I did or did not complete the journey.  In my defense (as if) I am the youngest of the sextet.  Perhaps I still have some more growing up to do.  In view of the fact that my last growth "spurt" occurred more than three decades ago, the breath I hold waiting for the next one shall not be my own.  

Today Kenny Child #5, my sister Jill, celebrates a birthday.   Jill is slightly more than two years older than I am.  It occurred to me - while I was be-bopping all over the joint on Sunday morning in the completion of my 16-mile training run for the Central Park Marathon - that it was not until I was in 11th grade that I went to school without her.  I was a high school junior before I was flying solo for the first time, unencumbered by and unprotected by the presence of my sister.  I missed the back-and-forth so much that when it was time to go to college, I shuffled off to become a Colorado Buffalo, which became Jill's Alma mater two years before it became my own.  

As human beings go, Jill takes up a disproportionately small amount of space here on the Big Blue Marble.  Pound-for-pound however she might be the toughest person I know.  Ask any medical professional in the greater Jupiter, Florida area who has ever treated Joanie K. just how unfortunate a life choice it is to end up on Jill's bad side.  

I know not what the human dynamo has on tap for her birthday today.  I hope she takes a moment or two to relax.  And to celebrate.  

Happy Birthday Wilma....


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Wish for the Dreamer

Today is the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  For those of you hoping for a day off, hang in there.  Your 3-day weekend is only a few days away. 
I write every day.  I speak occasionally.  Never in my life have I written or uttered aloud anything one-zillionth as poignant or as memorable as this:
Happy Birthday Dr. King. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Lie Strong, Lie Long Lance Armstrong

If the information "leaked" through the Associated Press the past several days is accurate then at some point today the world-famous pathological liar Lance Armstrong will sit down with Oprah Winfrey and do something to this point in his life he has shown little ability to do:  tell the truth.  The fact that he has been on too many occasions to count had just such an opportunity - in sworn testimony - and not only failed to avail himself of it but has instead repeated his oft-told tale.  You know the story:  Lance Armstrong as victim of relentless persecution.  Lance Armstrong as a victim of the jealousy and envy of others.  
Lance Armstrong might just well be the most despicable fraud to ever compete in athletic competition.  The zeal with which he fought to protect his falsely-secured legacy has long established his place in the annals of those who are beneath contempt.  He trumpeted his innocence while he knew that he was not.   He would have to become a far better person than he is presently to rise to the level of being a piece of human garbage.
According to the Associated Press item, the interview Oprah conducts with Armstrong today will be aired on Thursday.  I for one shall not watch it.  F*ck you Mr. Armstrong.  Hope on your goddamn bicycle and pedal the hell on out of here.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

If it is OK by AK....

....then it is fine by me.  I suspect that I know what are thinking right now.  Something akin to, "Holy crap this self-impressed d-bag has completely f*cking lost it!"  While that may in fact be the case, it is not in fact a conclusion to be drawn from the title of today's piece.  

Earlier this week, the Baseball Writers Association of America (a/k/a "The Lords of Admission to the Baseball Hall-of-Fame") voted on the Class of 2013.  As it turns out, the Class of 2013 will consist of exactly ZERO members.  In a year in which very high-profile names appeared on the ballot for the first time - names such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling and Craig Biggio - not a single person eligible for enshrinement garnered the number of votes needed for entry into Cooperstown.  Schilling's famous bloody sock is in Cooperstown but as of 2013 no part of his person, including the foot he jammed famously into it - and his own mouth - is.  For the first time since 1996, no new member shall be enshrined in Cooperstown this summer

Much was written this past week both by fans and journalists about the BBWWA's decision,  some commending and some condemning it.  Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson said, "The standards for earning election to the Hall of Fame have been very high ever since the rules were created in 1936.  We realize the challenges voters are faced with in this era.  The Hall of Fame has always entrusted the exclusive voting privilege to the Baseball Writers' Association of America.  We remain pleased with their role in evaluating candidates based on the criteria we provide."   I could not find any published comment from the President of the Cooperstown, New York Chamber of Commerce either echoing or disagreeing with Mr. Idelson.  He or she was no doubt busy preparing for a summer tourism season when the guests come disguised as empty hotel beds and empty restaurant tables. 

Far more interesting to me than the reaction of those of us on the outside of the hallowed halls looking in was the reaction of one of baseball's all-time great players and great ambassadors.  Detroit Tigers Hall-of-Famer Al Kaline, when asked for his reaction to the vote, said, "I'm kind of glad nobody got in this year.  I feel honored to be in the Hall of Fame.  And I would've felt a little uneasy sitting up there on the stage, listening to some of these new guys talk about how great they were."   

And then - for good measure - Kaline said something that baseball, in the era following its own idiotic labor strife that cost us the fans a World Series in 1994, had allowed itself to let slip through the crevices and cracks of its collective mind (but that in light of the news on the even more wide-ranging, comprehensive drug testing policy that was announced this week appears to be separating itself from), "I don't know how great some of these players up for election would've been without drugs.  But to me, it's cheating.  Numbers are important but so is integrity and character.  Some of these guys might get in someday.  But for a year or two, I'm glad they didn't."    

If it is good enough for AK, then it is certainly good enough for me.  

(the other one) 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Art of Stand Up

I had the opportunity earlier this week to spend several hours in the company of a young man who I suspected - at first glance - I would not like much at all but who, it turns out, is quite a likable and admirable fellow.  

I earn my living defending - in civil actions - those who others point to as the perpetrators of (at least) negligent acts that resulted in said others being damaged.  Think of it this way:  in the following scenario "YOU hurt ME!" I represent "You".  'Tis not always an exciting way to earn coin but it is pretty much all I know how to do.  After twenty years of doing it, I have developed more than a passable level of affinity in the doing of it.  Among the things my self-proclaimed prowess has bought me is being the "port in the storm" as it were for a significant number of nasty, potentially grizzly cases that one of the insurance carriers whose policyholders I get hired to protect finds himself or herself embroiled in.  All of them are catastrophic injury cases.  A significant percentage of those are wrongful death actions.  

As a result of what I do - particularly so in those cases - I begin the attorney/client relationship with the individuals I represent with a baseline understanding:  my client f*cked up.  It tends to move the discussion  rather quickly to "What can you do to save my a**?"  I love efficiency. 

Not everyone who I represent - not even those whose legal responsibility for what happened to the person who is suing them is clear to everyone (except perhaps my client) - is thrilled by my existence nor willing to accept responsibility for what transpired.  That is what has made representing one young man (he is not a kid but he is several years younger than either of my two young adults) such a pleasure.  He did a beyond belief stupid thing for which he accepted responsibility.  And for which he was the ripe old age of twenty.  

His experiences up to this point in his life have aged him far beyond his years.  But they have also served him well.  He learned, through very adverse, self-created circumstances, that the most important thing a person learns to do is stand up.  Stand up and accept responsibility.  Stand up and accept the consequences of one's actions.  Stand up and examine your own life through the lens of critical self-analysis.  Stand up and be willing to do what needs to be done to ensure that you shall not continue to make the same mistakes over and over.  

If he could, he would most assuredly hop into Professor Peabody's WABAC Machine to a particular, fixed point in time and change one thing that he did, which forever altered his life path.  He cannot.  Instead he has done what all of possess the ability to do but too few of us possess the desire to do.  He has paid his debt.  He is now carving out a new path.  It may prove to be a more difficult path than the one he had originally plotted for himself but such is life.  Feel sorry for him not at all.  He has not wasted a moment feeling sorry for himself.  

The great Oscar Wilde once wrote, "No man is rich enough to buy back his past."  As true today as it was when he wrote it.  But what Wilde left unwritten was "One's past shall dictate one's future only if one allows it to do so".  That is a homemade nugget of wisdom I just dropped upon you....  

....Feel free to use it.


Friday, January 11, 2013

For Soul Engines Running Through The Night So Tender

Clarence "Big Man" Clemons died in June 2011 shortly after he had suffered a stroke.  Had he lived, today he would be celebrating his 71st birthday.  Shortly before the end of 2012 New Jersey State Senator Jen Beck - a Republican from Monmouth County - sponsored a resolution declaring that January 11th shall be "Clarence Clemons Day" in New Jersey.  The Senate approved the resolution and presuming the Assembly does likewise it will likely land on the desk of the world's biggest Springsteen fan (in girth if not in anything else) who happens to be an elected official, Governor Christie, at some point in February.   Given the Governor's affinity for all things Springsteen (musically if not politically), it is reasonable to presume that he will move with cat-like quickness to sign it.  

If you are someone - as I am - for whom the music of Bruce Springsteen is a significant portion of the soundtrack of your life, then Clarence Clemons is a man who made an indelible impression on you.  We the people who loved listening to him play his sax (never the half notes right Liv?) and cavort around on stage with Springsteen will never be without him.  He is ingrained in us - as is his music.  The passage of time shall not change that.  Neither shall his not being here to blow out the candles.

Happy Birthday Big Man....


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sleep Tight My Child Sleep Well

A parent's worst nightmare is to outlive one's child.  This week in the Morris County, New Jersey town of Mount Olive it is a nightmare being lived by the parents of not one - but two - fifteen-year-old boys. 
"It is with great sadness that I announce the deaths of Nicholas Michael Cianciotto III and Clyde Frederick Schimanski III, both of whom were 15 years old," Acting Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp said in a written statement from his office Wednesday afternoon. That had been the first official acknowledgement of the teens' names, though friends and family members confirmed their identities Tuesday. "The young men were deeply loved by their families and friends. The entire Morris County community mourns their loss."
Tragic does not even begin to cover what has happened this week to the Cianciotto family and the Schimanski family.  Two friends went out onto Budd Lake Monday night - apparently to do a bit of ice fishing.  They never came home.  Fifteen-year-old boys are not supposed to die.  Yet these two did....
Well Jesus kissed his mother's hands
Whispered, "Mother, still your tears,
For remember the soul of the universe
Willed a world and it appeared."



Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Something Akin to Rain on Your Wedding Day

The Missus surprised me Monday night with her desire to watch a bit of the Notre Dame/Alabama BCS Championship Game.  Hell of a game.  The Lords of college football must be really happy that they  waited close to six weeks after the regular season's end to put on that turkey.  For Notre Dame, the first and last thing that went right on Monday night was winning the opening coin toss.  Smartly, Coach Kelly opted to kick off in order to put his strongest unit - his defense (it was ranked #1 nationally in about a gazillion categories this season) - on the field first.  It took Alabama less than three minutes to score the first of its six touchdowns.  

And for the ND faithful who went to bed Monday night whining and awakened Tuesday morning whining about the penalty call that accompanied Notre Dame's first offensive possession (ended in a punt) and wiped out a fumble by Alabama's punt returner - as if that call changed the outcome of the game - get a grip.  Notre Dame spent four quarters unable to tackle on defense and unable to execute on offense.  For my good friend Jeff Swanson, for Doc Rud and the rest of the Irish faithful, your football team had a season that I for one - from the vantage point of my one-win Buffaloes - envy and applaud.  However as someone who has - since that little ferret of a human being Lou Holtz was their coach -watched Notre Dame play only in the hope that they will lose by the largest margin possible, I thank them for their effort Monday night in helping me achieve a certain level of satisfaction.  

One final note on Monday night's debacle - and this one is directed to the ESPN broadcast team:  Enough with the creepy, incredibly inappropriate references to A.J. McCarron's girlfriend.  I do not know how old Kirk Herbstreit is but Brent Musberger is old enough to have filled out his initial AARP membership application at or about the same time as Katherine Webb's parents filled out her birth certificate.  His "want a piece of candy little girl?" lecherous old dude routine was beyond the pale.  

While your attention was fixed upon the happenings in South Beach this week, you might have missed the news item from the Chicago area regarding the life and death of Urooj Khan.  Mr. Khan unwittingly became an example of an Alanis Morissette song lyric in late July 2012.  He had purchased a scratch-off lottery ticket for $1.00 in June, 2012, which ticket won him $1 Million.  Having opted for the "lump sum" award as opposed to the annuity, on July 19, 2012 the Illinois State Comptroller issued him a check in the amount of (approximately) $425,000.  On July 20, 2012 Khan died suddenly.  On August 15, 2012 the $425,000 check was cashed, presumably by his Estate.

His death was initially determined to have been from natural causes. However, a relative asked authorities to look a bit deeper because Khan had been in good health and was only forty-six years old when he died.  The further investigation revealed that Khan's death was not natural at all.  The cause of death:  Cyanide poisoning.  Khan's death is now being investigated as a homicide.     

Note to self:  If I win $1 Million lottery prize, my first expenditure shall be a food-taster....

....and if necessary so shall the the second expenditure.  


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Gas Up The Zamboni!

For reasons known only to the Lords of the NHL they opted to spend the past four months treating their players not as their partners ("Hey we need each other to make lots of money!") but instead as their enemies.    Other than screwing those of us who love hockey out of the sport for the first four scheduled months of the 2012-13 season, it is difficult to see what was gained from the NHL lockout that finally resolved itself this past weekend.  Well, it is difficult for me to see anyway.  For an intelligent examination of the issues, you can read here or, if you prefer, here.  

As a Rangers fan, I care simply that it means that there will in fact be a 2013 season.  Last May the Broadway Blues fell to the Devils in a quite spirited, six-game Eastern Conference Final.  If their collective health holds and if King Henrik's cat-like reflexes have not diminished then there is a reasonable likelihood that they could make it at least as far this season.  Ten days ago, I thought it was more likely that I would see this Nash perform at MSG before I would see this Nash do so (wearing a Rangers sweater for the first time).  Now I take comfort in knowing that shall not be the case.  No offense meant Graham.  

The losers in this nonsense - as always - were the fans.  Not to be outdone however were all of the folks who earn their living in and around the arenas where professional sports - such as NHL hockey - are typically contested all winter.  There were no tickets to take, no cars to park, no beers to pour and no Nedick's hot dogs to sell.  For those among that number who were wholly dependent on the income realized from Day One of the typical NHL season, the season-saving negotiation session that resulted in a cessation of hostilities this past week came a little late.  Only 113 days or so.

I lack the wiring to not root like hell for the Rangers as long as hockey is going to be played.  I know that each and every dollar I contribute towards their coffers only further empowers the mouth-breeding slugs who  own NHL franchises but I am a slave to my DNA.  Damn you James Dolan.  

If I might be so bold as to offer a suggestion to the Lords of the NHL:  At season's end when the Stanley Cup is presented on ice to the captain of the Cup-winning team (and if there is in fact an ephemeral, all-knowing deity that captain shall be Ryan Callahan), the one doing the presenting should not be NHL Commissioner Bettman.  Rather it should be Scot L. Beckenbaugh.  For without him, there would be no 2013 season....

....and no Cup to present.  


Monday, January 7, 2013

Just Another Manic Monday

Random thought for the day:  when Bob Geldof penned "I Don't Like Mondays" thirty-plus years ago was it possible that the Monday of which he wrote was this one?  It is after all the day that kicks off the first full work week for many folks since the week that began with Monday, December 17.  I dislike it already - and I just woke up.  On the other hand, by the time we reach the end of it - in what will feel like eleven or twelve days from now, we will be on the cusp of the middle of January.  One half of a winter month behind us.  Not a damn thing upsetting about that.
Tonight the college football season ends.  #1 Notre Dame plays #2 Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game.  It is a game in which I have zero rooting interest.  While I may be the son of a Subway Alumni (I still recall my surprise at learning that Dad went to college at Fordham University and NOT at Notre Dame) I am not a Fighting Irish fan.  I am not, however, a Nick Saban fan either.  I have nothing at all against Alabama (and if you have not seen it check out the HBO documentary from several years ago about the integration of the SEC and Bear Bryant's efforts to integrate his Crimson Tide in the late 1960's/early 1970's) but 'Bama's coach is an unrepentant monetary mercenary.  He has spent his entire coaching career chasing the dime as it were.   Not only do I not care who wins, I anticipate watching very little of the game.  Especially if CBS counter-programs against it with back-to-back episodes of The Big Bang Theory.
If you are - as I am - a college football fan and have neither the time nor the interest to dedicate three-plus hours of your Monday night to watching tonight's game, then do yourself the great service of reading this in order to get your college pigskin fix.   It will take significantly less time and is a fascinating read. 
After all, time is at a premium this week.