Sunday, December 31, 2017

Blog in Review: Top Posts of 2017

New Year’s Eve is a time for goal-setting and reflection.  As we’ve done for the past few years, let’s take a moment to look back on the year that was before moving on to something new.

2017 was a successful year on the blog, especially once I started going through the numbers.  This past year didn’t have any super-hits on the scale of 2015’s “The Mystery of Malvern Manor,” but readership was up, often by 50% or more.  Most posts got at least 100 readers and many did considerably better than that.  200 reader posts were once a rarity; now I see them at least once per week.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

#ArmyTop25 Revisted

Let's start by updating yesterday's #ArmyTop25 post.  The list is updated to include:
 -- Yesterday's bowl results
 -- 11-win Troy, left off by accident
 -- 9-win Stanford, who started the week at #13.  At 9-5, I'm not sure they have a legit argument, but their pre-Bowl Week ranking puts them above the line in terms of the screening criteria laid out below.

Friday, December 29, 2017

5 Things on a Friday: #ArmyTop25

Happy Friday, folks.  And Happy New Year!
Happy New Year!
Stay with me today.  This may get a bit involved once we get into some of the math down below.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

#SBRLLR: The Devilfish & the Value of Delusion (Part 1)

The Devilfish & the Value of Delusion

“Wherever I may roam, where I lay my head is home…”
― Metallica, Wherever I May Roam
Midway through sixth grade, Dad got orders to become a ground force liaison to the Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point, North Carolina.  Though my father professed that he had not much enjoyed his time at Headquarters Marine Corps professionally, the years we’d spent in and around Washington, D.C., had been a blessing for our family.  We’d had time together, and we’d found a neighborhood community where we’d all felt we belonged.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Star Wars: Looking Forward to Episode IX

If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the days since The Last Jedi was released, it’s that looking at a new Star Wars movie with too much expectation is a fool’s errand.  Not because the movie will or won’t be great but because the franchise’s fandom maybe feels a bit too much ownership of decisions over which it has no control.  
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Maybe I’d be disappointed in the new trilogy if I hadn’t already lived through the prequels as an adult.  When they came out, though, I already had a lifetime of Star Wars fandom in the rearview.  Which is why I think the folks who’re disappointed now have maybe lost a bit of perspective.  I remember the hype leading up to The Phantom Menace.  I remember searching in vain for some hint of the spark that once animated the Galaxy Far, Far Away.  Personally, I think the anti-cheese edit goes a long way towards redeeming Phantom Menace, proving that there’s a legitimately great story in there that just happens to be stuck behind a lot of George Lucas’s self-indulgent impulses and (lack of) editing.  Attack of the Clones, however, is God-awful, and nothing I’ve ever seen can save it, not even the last two seasons of The Clone Wars, which I loved.
As it is, I’m just happy that there’s more Star Wars, that it’s fun, and that it looks on track to continue.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Dear Friends,
Sally, Hannah, Emma, and I would like to wish you and your families a very merry Christmas and a healthy and happy New Year.  2017 was a great year for us, a year of change and joy and growth.  We can’t wait for 2018, and we hope that it will be a great year for you as well.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Quick Thoughts: The Armed Forces Bowl

What a game!

I'll be honest.  I didn't think Army was going to win that game, and I especially didn't think they were going to win it after RB Rashaad Penny broke off that 81 yard run on 3rd-and-18 in the game's very first series.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

College Football Preview: What to Watch When You’re Not Watching Army (Week 2)

First thing’s first: I caught a little flack for doing essentially ZERO research in advance of last week’s post.  Really, I only meant to provide a time and channel guide with a side of snark, but I took Oregon over Boise State, and—like a lot of so-called football experts—I got smoked right alongside the Ducks.
No excuse.  I’m not some paid football expert, but I am smarter than those guys, and I get that you expect me to perform better.
Bowl games!
We’ll be looking at both the betting lines (via Oddsshark) and Football Outsiders’ S&P+ scores this week, and with luck, we’ll get better results.  That said, I refuse to dive any deeper on all of these games.  I just don’t have the interest.
Per last week, all times and channels are via 506Sports.

Friday, December 22, 2017

5 Things on a Friday: Still Talking The Last Jedi

Happy Friday, folks!
"The beatings will continue until morale improves!"
Promotional image for Star Wars at Disney World.
Programming note: a couple of this week’s articles are about Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  These may contain spoilers.  Proceed at your own risk.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

#SBRLLR: Some Things You're Just Born to Do (Part 4)

For better or worse, my parents hadn’t had any idea at all what to expect from my first swimming race.  I biked to the pool every day for practice and playtime and to my friends’ houses for our various summertime activities.  My mother hadn’t seen me swim since that first abortive tryout more than a month prior.  My father had to that point never seen me swim.  They hadn’t witnessed the weeks of hard work I’d been putting in with those bamboo sticks, nor were they thinking about the changes that four weeks of constant swimming, cycling, and summer activity can have on a dedicated ten-year-old’s body.  They probably thought I’d be lucky just to finish.  When I got third, they were blown away.  My sudden success blindsided them.  Decades later, my mother still talked about the time I got third place in my very first swimming race ever.  
Out of four swimmers.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Army Football Preview: Armed Forces Bowl

Though a lot of Army fans expressed disappointment when the team committed to the Armed Forces Bowl (AFB) back in October, the truth is that things have worked out beautifully for the Black Knights.  This year’s AFB features two good teams, both with something to prove.  San Diego State (SDSU) went 10-2 this year and set its sights on a New Year’s Six bowl, but its hopes were dashed when Ohio State knocked Wisconsin out of the College Football Playoff, pushing pretty much everybody else in the nation down a spot.  By the time the smoke cleared, SDSU was headed to Amon Carter Stadium in Ft. Worth, Texas, to face Army.  
By comparison, the Black Knights of the Hudson sit at 9-3, own the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy for the first time in a very long time, and would very much like to find a way to establish themselves as a legitimate national-level program after decades removed from the spotlight.  Depending on how the rest of this year’s bowl season shakes out, the winner of this contest could very easily find its way into college football’s Top 25.  For Army, that’s the program’s last unfulfilled goal in an otherwise magnificent season.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Quick Thoughts: The Last Jedi

Hannah, Emma, and I finally saw The Last Jedi (TLJ) on Sunday, and for all that it has been hyped up, trashed, and spoiled online, we really liked it.  I’d probably give it four stars out of five, and that’s on first viewing.  I liked The Force Awakens (TFA) much more on second viewing because I noticed a lot of little things that I hadn’t seen the first time through.  I’ll never be the same ten-year-old boy I was when I experienced The Empire Strike Back (ESB) for the first time, but I’ve still really enjoyed both installments of the new trilogy.  I like them more, for example, than I liked Rogue One.  Both movies took us into uncharted territory, but that’s doubly true of TLJ, and that’s something that we badly needed.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
My initial thoughts on the movie are below.  These include detailed spoilers.  You have been warned.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Advertising Update

Made a change to the blog's advertisement allowances.  I'd previously allowed anything (read: sports betting and various adult "dating" sites) on the theory that a) my audience is mostly adults, and b) even if they aren't, I'm still basically in favor of the corruption of the innocent.

Especially if it earns me a buck.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

College Football Preview: Dear God, Not Another Weekend Without Army Football!

Am I right?
Alas, we must soldier on.  Despite the lamentable fact that the Brave Old Army Team is even now taking Term End Exams, life continues.  Outside of Star Wars, I don’t know what to do with myself.

It is perhaps worth noting that ESPN/Disney now owns and operates a goodly portion of the college bowl infrastructure.  I’ve listed the networks here, but *Spoiler Alert* they’re mostly all on ESPN.  A few are on ABC or CBS Sports.  
All betting lines per Oddsshark.Com.  Schedule per 506Sports.Com.

Friday, December 15, 2017

5 Things on a Friday: The Last Jedi Awakens

It’s finally here, am I right?

I mean, seriously, this is two perfect weekends in a row.  Army-Navy and now The Last Jedi.  How cool is that?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Crunch: Journey before Destination

I read Oathbringer last week, the third book in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archives.  Though a best-selling author in his own right, Sanderson is most famous for finishing Robert Jordan’s magnum opus The Wheel of Time.  But where Wheel of Time is concerned mostly with destiny and the cyclical nature of historical events,Stormlight Archives anchors itself in individual growth.  To this end, its heroes, the so-called Knights Radiant, have a saying by which they summon their godlike magical powers:
“Life before death, strength before weakness, journey before destination.”
Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson.
Every time I read this, I am reminded of the sport of triathlon.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

#SBRLLR: Some Things You're Just Born to Do (Part 3)

Time passed, school let out, and we soon settled into a routine.  I was up in the morning at dawn, onto my bike, down the hill and back up—about a half-mile to swim practice.  We swam for ninety minutes or so, and then I was back on my bike.  Mom made pancakes most mornings.  Sometimes I ate cereal.  Soon enough I was back on my bike, heading back to the pool to meet friends, as often as not still wearing our Speedos.  Chicken fights, Marco Polo, tag, touch the bottom of the deep end, diving contests, and “who can splash the lifeguard?”  These things were our lives.  We had sleepovers, got addicted to the Eddie Murphy edition of Saturday Night Live, and taught ourselves to play red box Dungeons and Dragons.  We watched movies and threw ninja stars at a cut-out target that somebody set up in their garage.  
We were kids.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Quick Thoughts: Army-Navy

That was some game, folks.  Maybe not Army's best game of the season, but the defense did just enough to keep the team in it, and then the offense -- finally -- managed to string some drives together in the second half to not only put points on the board but also rest that defense for the final push.  Then mistakes caught up to the Midshipmen for a change, and that was your ballgame.

I wouldn't say that the game went as advertised, exactly, but if you read this week's preview, I think a lot of this game came as expected.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Army Football Preview: Beat Navy!!!

What a year this has been for Army Athletics.  Last year’s performance in Baltimore seemed to spark something in the Corps of Cadets, and indeed, it’s now been nearly eight months since Navy has beaten Army… in anything.

Alas, that streak is almost certain to end with the women’s swim teams tomorrow night, but this has nevertheless been one Hell of a run for Army Athletics.  When the football teams meet on Saturday, it will cap one of my favorite all-time seasons of Army sports.
But though momentum seems to be on the Black Knights’ side, make no mistake.  This will be a very close, very hard fought contest.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

#SBRLLR: Some Things You're Just Born to Do (Part 2)

That night, Mom sat me down for another Serious Talk.  This time she sat on my father’s leather chair while I sat on the couch.  The cloud of failure hung heavy in our den.  Thankfully, Dad himself was not yet home.
“Why don’t we quit the swim team?” my mother said seriously.  Then: “I think we should quit.”

Monday, December 4, 2017

Army-Navy Week!

The preliminaries are out of the way, and it is at last time for the biggest game of the year.

"Bring on Navy!" said everyone on the Army football team after winning at Air Force.  Now, finally, Navy Week is here.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

College Football Championship Saturday!

 What a wild week of college football!  Former National Championship coach Phillip Fulmer is your new AD at Tennessee, and he will (presumably) name USC OC Tee Martin as his head football coach and principal understudy soon.  USC won the PAC 12 just last night in fine fashion, so on any sort of merit basis, this looks like a fine hire.  Nevertheless, I heard folks on ESPNU radio yesterday talking about this like it was some kind of nefarious conspiracy.  They managed to make new AD Phillip Fulmer sound like the Lord Voldemort of Tennessee football.
"Good ole' Rocky Top..."
The program has long since gone off the rails.  Why not look to your own rather accomplished lineage to get it back on track?  That makes sense to me, and it ensures that the people you bring in will be bought in to the program.  That's kind of important right now, especially at Tennessee.
Meanwhile, we have games today!  Championship games!!!
All times and channels courtesy of

Friday, December 1, 2017

5 Things on a Friday: The Saga of Greg Schiano

As a cadet, I at no time expected that it would ever be easier to be a fan of Army Football than it is to be a fan of the Tennessee Volunteers.  But here we are.

Honestly, I'm glad that my father did not live to see the destruction of his beloved Vols, but I also kind'a wish that I could rub it in, too.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Crunch: The Hardest Part

The hardest part, to me, is just getting out the door.  Whatever I’m doing, be it swimming, running, lifting weights, or something else, if I can get all the way out my front door, I’m usually good to go.
It was not this hard growing up.  Even when I had to get up at four-thirty in the morning to be on the pool deck by five, working out didn’t typically feel like a struggle, exactly.  It was more like a gut-check.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

#SBRLLR: Some Things You're Just Born to Do (Part 1)

Some Things You’re Just Born to Do

“Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
― Thomas A. Edison
There I was, no shit.
We’d been living in Annandale, Virginia, for not quite a year.  I’d made a few friends and was approaching the end of the fourth grade.  Summer was coming, but the sky remained cool and overcast.  A stiff breeze bit my ten-year-old skin.  The concrete pool deck was cold beneath my feet.  I had to swim the length of the pool without stopping to earn a spot on the Camelot Swim Team. I was chilled to the point of shivering, but I remained confident, too.  
I could do this.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Saturday News & Notes: UCF Wins & Navy Goes Blue Angels

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's Thanksgiving, a day of family, friends, and joy and also, of course, a time to reflect on the blessings in our everyday lives.  This year in particular, I feel like I've been richly blessed.

I am thankful for:

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

#SBRLLR: Foreword

Swim, Bike, Run, Live, Love, Repeat

A Story of Swimming, Family, and Belonging


During one of the first meetings we had as newly elected class officers following our 20-year reunion up at West Point, new Class President Phil Sounia talked a bit about his goals for our class’s legacy.  “Classes are remembered,” he said, “when they write their stories down.  People can’t remember what a class has done if its members don’t tell what they did.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Quick Thoughts: Justice League

Went with my buddy Ben and his son to see Justice League Saturday -- in IMAX -- while Sally and the girls and their friends went to see Wonder.  Right up front, I had two key takeaways:

1. IMAX shows a lot of Justice League.  Like, yo, that League was big, and it was LOUD.

2. Coming off Batman vs. Superman, the movie overall was exponentially better than I thought it would be.  I still don't think that the DCEU has come up to the standard of the MCU, but this one movie at least was a lot more fun than it was grim, gritty, and noir.

*Spoilers Below*

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Quick Thoughts: Army Loses a Shootout in North Texas

To say the very least, that did not play out the way that I thought that it would.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Crunch: Back in the Gym

I’m back in the gym after much wailing and gnashing of teeth.  
And actually, yeah, it’s been really great.
Lat pull-downs at Crunch Fitness in Stratford, CT.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Army Football Preview: at North Texas

Save for a stumble at Tulane, Army Football has had a dream season. The sole blemish on the team’s resume is that they have yet to beat a team with a winning record, a circumstance that I’d not have bet on prior to the season. That changes this week. Army’s last two games are against bowl eligible teams with excellent offenses and strong cultures of winning.
This week, Army (8-2) travels to Apogee Stadium in Denton, Texas, to take on a familiar foe in North Texas. The Mean Green (7-3) have already clinched the C-USA West division title.  Still, I expect this to be a hard-hitting contest between two closely matched teams.  After splitting a pair of games last season, Saturday’s contest marks the rubber match before the series discontinues in 2018.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Quick Thoughts: Army Beats Duke, Goes 8-2

It’s amazing to me after all this team has been through this season, especially on the defensive side of the ball, that they’ve already matched last season’s win total and have a reasonable chance of winning out.  I thought the losses of Andrew King, Jeremy Timpf, and Xavier Moss would really hurt this team, and especially on defense, and for a while they did.  But the Army Team has battled back and found a way.  They’ve consistently played big in the biggest moments.  If you were around Michie Stadium for the 2015 season, well, the differences are profound.  That’s despite the fact that a lot of the same players are still on the field.  They celebrated Senior Day yesterday, and my God, have they come a long way.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Happy Veteran's Day!

We're showing old pictures today, right?

Me & my buddy Joe before a dining in at Camp GarryOwen, Munson, ROK.

Friday, November 10, 2017

5 Things on a Friday: Veteran's Day

Happy Friday, folks.
I miss Looney Tunes.
It's a lot of football today, everyone.  I hope that meets with your approval.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Army Football Preview: Duke

Army laid an old-school ass-whuppin’ on Air Force on Saturday, and by God, it was satisfying as all Hell.  Cries of “Bring on Navy!” echoed across Black Knight Nation because now the December 9th showdown will be for the coveted Commander-in-Chief’s trophy.
First, though, the Army Team will have to get by the Duke Blue Devils, a very good team that has had the particular misfortune of playing both a resurgent Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) schedule and a number of very tough regional rivalry games, too.  It’s a bad spot for the Black Knights coming off an emotional win on the road against a talented but desperate Duke team that is itself coming off a bye and which needs to win 2 of its last 3 to become bowl eligible.
Army is undefeated at home this season.  If they want to stay that way, they’ll have to get past the big win in Colorado Springs in a hurry.  This Duke team presents one of the toughest tests Army will have faced all season.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Quick Thoughts: Army Smacks Air Force on the Road

Wow!  I did not see that coming.
I'm not sure how much analysis is needed when one team knocks the snot out of the other team, but here goes.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Army Football Preview: at Air Force

After a week of rest and preparation, the Army Team heads to Colorado Springs to take on a suddenly hot Air Force squad that would very much like to put itself back into the race for the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy while simultaneously taking an important step towards bowl eligibility.  The Black Knights have seen a bunch of good defenses this year, but the Falcons own by far the toughest offense they’ll have faced.  It will be interesting to see how the team responds.
After an impressive road win against Colorado State, the Zoomies are back home and no doubt feeling confident with Army coming to town.  Army hasn’t beaten Air Forceat Air Force since 2005.  In fact, the Black Knights have just 3 victories against the Falcons overall since I myself entered the Military Academy way back in 1991.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Weekend Thoughts: Sally's Birthday & Alisha's Wedding

We threw a big party for Sally's birthday on Friday, and last night we went to a wedding.  It's been a big weekend of drinking and dancing and feasting, but especially last night at the wedding, I found myself becoming a bit reflective.

Family photo, taken from the Selfie Station at Sally's party.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

College Football Preview: What to Watch While Army’s on a Bye Week

Army’s on a bye this week, but college football is still on TV.  There are several games between prominent nationally-ranked teams and a few involving Black Knights’ seasonal opponents or potential Armed Forces Bowl opponents.
No Army game.  Big sad-face.
This list was culled from  Odds are per ESPN.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Army Football Preview: 5 Things on a Bye Week

We’re off this week, but the blog has been picking up readers, and I don’t want to lose momentum.  So these are my thoughts.  Gonna try to do this “5 Things on a Friday” style, with the implied task being to somehow keep this monster under 2,000 words.

Read on, friends.  Adventure awaits!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Madness! Army Steals Victory at Michie Stadium

Wow.  Well, to say the very least, that did not play out the way that I thought it would.  I mean, I said before the game that I thought the key would be Army's getting pressure on Temple's quarterback, and in a certain sense that proved true, but...

Who could predict that?

Friday, October 20, 2017

5 Things on a Friday: Into Elimination Game #1

This has been a pretty good sports week.  Army won, the Yankees came back from the brink to take the lead in the ALCS, and even the woeful NY Giants have rediscovered their running game.

Can any of this last?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Army Football Preview: vs. Temple

Wow.  What did I tell you?  Eastern Michigan might be 2-4, but they are less than a half-dozen plays from being 6-0, and one of those was a blocked punt against the SEC’s Kentucky.  In the words of EMU’s head coach, “We’ve played six games, and five of them have essentially come down to the last play.  We won one, but we’ve been on the short end of the stick on the other ones.  Our guys believe that we’re going to win, so these sting pretty good.”1
Army fans ought to remember how that feels from our own season back in 2015.
Don’t fool yourself.  EMU has a very good football team.  They may yet rebound and become bowl eligible, though that would take some amazing play down the stretch.  Personally, I hope they make it.  
Army won an important game last Saturday, and now they have an opportunity to set the tone for the rest of their season.  Temple comes to town this week, and after that, the degree of difficulty ramps up considerably.  We need a win to secure bowl eligibility before heading into by far the hardest stretch of the season.
I’m fired up.  If you’re an Army fan, it’s be hard not to be.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Fantasy Football Sucks & Other Stories

I played myself.  I mean in Fantasy Football.

I took Giants rookie TE Evan Engram early, got frustrated when he did jack shit, and cut him, only to see him go off last night against Denver.  And I spent all of last week waffling over which Defense to play, Washington at home against San Francisco or Houston against Cleveland.  Ultimately, I came down on the side of Washington after Houston took so many key injuries.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Quick Thoughts: Army Stuffs Eastern Michigan

That was a good game.  I said last week that this EMU team was better than their record indicated, and that proved correct.  Granted, Army missed a couple of opportunities to pull away, and the Eagles got a few extremely fortuitous breaks to keep the game close, but overall, if you went to Michie Stadium to watch a football game yesterday, you sure as shit got your money's worth.

I apologize in advance for the editing.  I have a lot to do today.

Friday, October 13, 2017

5 Things on a Friday: To Watch or Not to Watch?

The Yankees have moved on to the ALCS, I’ve fixed my running stride, and there’s a new Star Wars trailer out.  That’s not a bad week.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fixing Foot Strike Revisited

Finally got a chance to take last week's shin-angle/foot strike fix out for a test drive this week, and it was a very different experience from what I'm used to.  

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Army Football Preview: Eastern Michigan

Army beat the living Hell out of a bad Rice team last week, and really, that’s about all we can ask.  Sure, Rice ran for some 200 yards, and I think that maybe DC Jay Bateman will want to take a look at the way his defense attacks the Jet Sweep before the Temple game, but that’s kind of a nitpick when you win by 5+ touchdowns.  The Black Knights set out to create turnovers, and they came away with 6, including a pick-six from S Max Regan.  That’s a good sign and a good way to win football games, too.
This week, Army hosts the Eastern Michigan Eagles, and I expect it to be one of the most closely contested games of the season.  Like Army, Eastern Michigan is coming off a successful rebuilding campaign, finishing 2016 with both a winning record and a bowl appearance for the first time in recent memory.  Now the Eagles are trying to build on that momentum behind Senior QB Brogan Roback and a top-ranked defense.  They come into Saturday’s game having dropped a few close contests to quality opponents and in need of a statement win to get themselves back on track.  Their game against Army is their last non-conference contest.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Quick Thoughts: at Rice

I didn't like last night's game as much as the score might indicate.  Rice has an inept offense, but the game itself would have been a much closer game had Rice been able to just hang on to the football with its running backs.  Clearly Rice needs a quarterback.  They're no better passing than Army is, and with that, they really don't have much in sustainable scoring offense.  But Army still let them put up 200 yards rushing and 5.4 yards/carry, and that's not a great sign despite all the strip-fumbles, sacks, and the pick-six for S Max Regan.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Triathlon: Fixing Foot Strike

Most swimmers make decent runners, and many runners learn to swim reasonably well, but it’s hard to be truly great at both sports.  Instead, swimmers and runners both tend to pick up cycling or yoga as their second-best discipline when they take up triathlon as master’s athletes.  But the difficulty of transitioning from one ostensibly simple aerobic activity to another can be maddening for folks who’re used to being considered good at whatever it is that they try to do.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Army Football Preview: at Rice

The Black Knights of the Hudson beat UT – El Paso on Saturday, and if it wasn’t quite the drubbing that a lot of Army fans were looking for, it was still a solid, two-touchdown victory that was not much in doubt by about the middle of the third quarter.  After five games, Army Football is 3-2.  That’s the same record the team boasted last year at this time, though with a somewhat more optimistic outlook going forward.  
The good news is that Army already played its hardest game, at Ohio State.  The bad news is that the Black Knights still have to play Air Force on the road and Duke at home, and neither of those games will end in victory if they can’t play much better, more consistent defense.  For that matter, Eastern Michigan and North Texas are both markedly improved from a year ago as well.  From this point forward, there aren’t any gimme games.
Army’s offense has looked better than it did in 2016, but the team still hasn’t put together the kind of complete game that saw it win victories over Temple and Wake Forest.  They’ll need that level of effort soon, however, if it’s going to get back to a bowl game.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Quick Thoughts: Army vs. UTEP

Coach Jeff Monken said before the game that his offense had worked on passing with about 30% of their practice reps this week.  It showed.  Army didn’t have its best stuff on defense yesterday, and it also gave up quite a few costly penalties, but Bradshaw went 3/5 passing for 80 yards and a touchdown, and as they have all season, the offense ran with authority.  That was enough to give the Black Knights a decisive win over a UTEP team that came into Michie Stadium determined to make a statement.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Army Football Preview: UT – El Paso

I did not much care for that Tulane game.  In his post game press conference, Coach Jeff Monken said that he felt like the game was Tulane’s to lose, that the Green Wave nearly let Army steal one, but I still think that Army had the better team most of the day.  The Black Knights just couldn’t quite put it all together at the critical moments.  It was maddening as Hell to watch.
Alas, those kinds of games are a little easier to tolerate at Michie Stadium.  It’s cathartic to scream at the team, and I think the long post game walks back to my car are good for the soul.  Screaming at my television does not feel nearly as productive, and what’s worse, my pacing back and forth makes the dog nervous.
What can you do?
Thankfully, we’re back at Michie this week for a showdown against FBS doormat UT – El Paso (UTEP).  I’m taking the whole family on Saturday, and this time the Black Knights had better freaking win.  Having dropped a winnable game on the road, Army’s season now has next to nothing in the way of margin for error.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Army Screws the Pooch at Tulane

Riddle me this: how do you rush for 371 yards, gain 22 first downs to the opposing team’s 15, and own time of possession 39:18 to 20:42, and still lose?
That shit ought to be impossible.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Reimagining the Dungeons & Dragons Cartoon

The old 1980s-era Dungeons & Dragons cartoon from Marvel Studios has been getting some love on Twitter this week, with guys like Nathan Stewart, Senior Director of Dungeons & Dragons, seemingly paying some attention.  This blog has done almost nothing but football for the last several weeks, so in the interest of both content diversity and helping to press for a quality D&D cartoon reboot, let’s talk about what a new show might potentially look like.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Army Football Preview: at Tulane

I didn’t love Army’s game against Ohio State, but it’s had to say that the team failed to meet expectations.  Their 99-yard drive to end the second quarter was one of the best Army offensive efforts of the last ten years.  The Black Knights managed to establish the Fullback Dive against one of the best rushing defenses in the country, and though they still lost by 30+ points, they at least did it in a way that seems to have captured some positive media attention.  Ohio State fell two spots in the AP Poll despite the win, and Army picked up a big-time recruiting commitment from the state of Texas.  
It’s never good to lose, but overall, I guess the game itself went about as well as we might’ve hoped.
This week, the Black Knights travel to New Orleans to take on the Tulane Green Wave, a decidedly similar team coming off a similar schedule with largely similar results.  One of these teams will come out with a hard-fought victory, having taken an important step towards bowl eligibility.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Quick Thoughts: Army at Ohio State

Army looked competitive "at times" against Ohio State, but the game got out of hand quickly in the 3rd quarter after the missed 41-yard field goal.  In that sense, this was one of those games where we saw not only how far Army Football has come, but also how far they have to go.  It's not surprising, for example, that Army's defense couldn't stop the Buckeyes' rushing attack.  However, the Black Knights need to be able to make ostensibly simple field goals to be truly competitive in college football, and they need to be able to complete basic passing plays to wide-open receivers.

We've come a long way, but we still aren't there, yet.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Army Football Preview: at Ohio State

Army got a hard-fought come-from-behind victory last week against Buffalo, but I don’t know how much confidence it gives me going forward.  The 2017 Black Knights are either a hardy, confident crew who can win games even when they don’t necessarily have their best stuff, or they’re not quite as good as we’d all hoped that they were.  Or maybe the Bulls just match up well against Army’s triple-option because they have so much beef at D-Tackle.  Unfortunately for Buffalo, that particular defense has become a kind of niche advantage in modern college football.
This week, Army travels to Ohio State for a matchup against ostensibly the best team in the nation.  For better or worse, I expect we’ll learn a lot about exactly what kind of team these Black Knights are going to be after this game.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Quick Thoughts: Army vs. Buffalo

For a good part of the afternoon yesterday, I thought the rumors of Army Football’s long-term turnaround looked a bit premature.  But it’s also true that good teams find a way to win, even when they don’t necessarily have their best stuff.  Army certainly didn’t have its best stuff yesterday, but they still found a way to pull out a convincing win.  At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.  

There is no substitute for victory.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Army Football Preview: Buffalo

The Black Knights started their season about as well as we could possibly have hoped.  They smoked Fordham, putting up 60+ points for the fourth time in a calendar year.  Outside of a fumble and two incomplete passes, the day was pretty much perfect.
This week the University of Buffalo Bulls come to Michie Stadium, looking to rebound from an early loss to Minnesota.  If you believe in moral victories, then the Bulls maybe have something to build on, having been competitive for sixty minutes against a legitimate, perennially achieving Big 10 team.  Buffalo still has something to prove, however, and a win against a resurgent Army team would go a long way towards proving it.

Monday, September 4, 2017

D&D with Kids: “The Sunless Citadel” Play Report

We were up in Maine last week, and as we have been wont to do while on vacation, the girls and I sat down for a few sessions of D&D while we were there.  We all enjoy D&D, but we never seem to play as much as we want when we’re at home, owing to the busy nature of our Real Lives.  Life’s a little different up in Maine, however, and this time in particular, I went up with a goal.  I wanted the kids to come away with a legitimate understanding of how to play their characters to their fullest potential.
I wanted them to “get” the game, not just the basics of combat mechanics.

I decided to run The Sunless Citadel out of the recently released Tales from the Yawning Portal.  The adventure’s intro notes that it was designed in part to help teach the game, and in this it performed flawlessly.  It was also relatively short.  We got through it over the course of our week away, totally maybe eight hours of actual play.  This included character set-up and level-ups along with one wholly unrelated side-quest written and run by my older daughter Hannah.