Monday, December 31, 2018

Blog in Review: Top 15 Posts of 2018

The 80/20 Rule is a basic business guideline.  It says that any business will get 80% of its revenue from just 20% of its offerings or services.  For example, we should expect McDonald’s to earn 80% of its revenue from just 20% of its menu items.  This makes sense; almost everyone orders either a Big Mac or a Quarter-Pounder with Cheese.  Really, most of the menu is revenue neutral; the only reason to even offer a lot of that stuff is to make it easier for Big Mac lovers to bring their non-Big Mac friends into the store.  It’s the Big Macs that are keeping McDonald’s in the black.
Happy New Year!
Blogging is the same but moreso.  Much more than half of this blog’s readership has come from a handful of posts, and the rest is here either to entertain me as a writer or to give legitimate fans of my writing a reason to come back on a semi-regular basis.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Swimming: 3200 Yards of Ugly (and a Skiing Story)

We went skiing for the first time this week, and it was great.  By which I mean it was a little icy, and I bit it a few times, but it's never a bad day out on the mountain, especially under the kind of bluebird skies we saw Thursday morning.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

#SBRLLR: Afterword

My wife Sally and I conceived this book as a joint project.  We wanted to show off our partnership as one of the world’s great love affairs.  I gradually came to realize, though, that Sally doesn’t quite have the time to write a whole book about her formative years, and even if she did, the resulting two-volume biography would read like The Winds of War.  Part of me still wants to do it that way, but I wonder who would read two hundred thousand words about a couple who are not famous and not looking to become famous.  
It seems like a tough sell.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Swim, Bike, Run, Live, Love, Repeat

“I want it all.
“I want it all.
“I want it all.
“And I want it now!”
― Freddie Mercury from Queen’s, “I Want It All”
I trained through the fall and into the spring, improving my fitness while remaining conscious of the fact that I could no longer afford the kind of single-minded devotion that had made me a champion in the pool.  I wanted to race and do well, but I needed to be a good father and a good husband, and I needed to find meaning in my professional work as well.  I had to find balance.  I ran Brian’s Beachside Boogie, an off-road run-bike-run duathlon, in the spring of 2009 and followed it up in June with the HealthNet Olympic Triathlon at Connecticut’s Indian Well State Park.  This was my first Olympic distance race, and it proved to be much more of a struggle than I’d expected.  I finished in just over three hours, realizing in the process that I would need to recommit to training longer before my next Olympic distance race.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

#SBRLLR: Losing My Father (Part 2)

We buried my father in Arlington Cemetery with full military honors.  A giant Marine Corps band showed up in their red dress uniforms, complete with a horse-drawn caisson.  The Marines took my father back in the end, and I walked away from the cemetery content in the knowledge that my dad was again with his people, that he was where he wanted to be.  He was buried in formation alongside all the other soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who’ve faithfully served our nation in its times of need.48  His funeral was truly moving.  But it was sparsely attended, however, because my father’s drinking had driven so many of his old friends and colleagues away.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

#SBRLLR: Losing My Father (Part 1)

 “Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once.”
― William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act 2, Scene 2
“You need to come home,” my mother said during a phone call in early February 2007.
Again? I thought.  “What’s going on?”

Monday, November 26, 2018

Quick Thoughts: Ralph Breaks the Internet

Sally, the kids, and I saw Ralph Breaks the Internet over the weekend, and we all liked it.  Most of the reviews I’ve seen talk about the ways in which the movie cleverly captures the quirks of online life, and I agree that they did a nice job with that.  But the movie also went to kind of a lot of trouble to get into issues of toxic masculinity and girl power, and while I think those aspects are great in concept, it’s this that I wanted to talk about.  Bottom line, I didn’t love some of the movie’s basic premise nor the way the plot resolved itself.
*Spoilers Below*
No seriously.  I am gonna get straight into the movie’s climax right after the jump.

Friday, November 23, 2018

5 Things on a Friday: It’s Officially Christmas Season

I'm actually excited for Christmas this year.  I think that marks a certain amount of personal growth.

This is how I plan to commute to New York City this month.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving has become one of my favorite days of the year.  There aren't any presents to worry about, lots of football is on TV, and we have abundant friends to keep us in good cheer.  It's great!  This year, we're headed over to our friends Bruce and Tammy's house.  I don't even have to grill the turkey because Bruce is doing it.

I'm getting over!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

#SBRLLR: Building a Life (Part 3)

My mom came up for ten days right after we brought Hannah home from the hospital.  I don’t know why I thought this would be a good idea.  She second-guessed our every move, tried to undermine Sally’s confidence as a mother by insisting that Hannah liked my mother more than she liked Sally, complained endlessly when we made her go out onto the fire escape to smoke her cigarettes, and generally drove us as crazy as she possibly could.  She refused to cook, got inexplicably angry when we tried to eat healthy, natural foods instead of pre-processed crap out of cans, and complained constantly about having to walk up the three flights of stairs to get to our apartment.  By the time she left, Sally made me promise that we wouldn’t have to see her again for a good, long while.  I had little choice but to agree.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Pics from Senior Day: Army 28, Colgate 14

Sally and I took nearly 200 pictures at the game on Saturday.  I wound up using just a few in my write-up, but there were lots more that were worth sharing.

Selected additions are below.  What a game!

Obligatory selfie at Michie Stadium.

Go Army!  Beat Navy!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Black Flag!

AFF and Academy Casual are running a limited-time sale.  If you've been looking for a way to support As For Football (and my writing in general), here's your chance.

Black Flag t-shirt from Academy Casual.
Shirts are $28.  Flags are $30.  Proceeds go towards offsetting the costs associated with running AsForFootball.Com.

Thanks for your support.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Saturday New & Notes: Beat Colgate!

Hey folks.  The Saturday Celebration posts weren't doing a lot over at AFF, so we tried something new and moved that particular discussion to Thursday.  I'm not sure it did any better on Thursday, but the end result freed up the Saturday spot here, and here we are.

Some of the stories I'm following this weekend are after the jump.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

#SBRLLR: Building a Life (Part 2)

My wife fell pregnant about a week after we got back from our honeymoon, and we decided that she should take some time off from teaching once the school year ended.  This wasn’t meant to be permanent, but the way things worked out, she never made it back into the classroom.  
I was on out one night working on a hit utility pole in the North Bronx when Sally called me hysterically to tell me that she was bleeding.  I rushed home, thankful for once that my boss had been on the scene with me.  I held my wife in my arms and wondered helplessly what I could do.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

#SBRLLR: Building a Life (Part 1)

 “Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
― George Bernard Shaw
Sally and I had dinner at a little Italian restaurant called La Scalla a couple of months after she got back from Romania.  We weren’t sure where we were going to get married, but we knew that it would be a small ceremony.  Neither of us had a lot of friends in Hoboken, nor did we want to waste money on an event that we were most certainly going to have to finance on our own.  I studied La Scalla’s menu, decided on a steak topped with gorgonzola cheese, and looked up to find Sally staring at me expectantly.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Saturday Celebration!

Via Instagram.
Talking about all the big games today and a couple of the little ones.  Link: AsForFootball.Com.

Thanks to my buddy Brian for taking this shot at last year's beat-down.  We used it in the post-game recap.

Friday, November 2, 2018

5 Things on a Friday: End of Season Projections

Happy Friday, folks.
Man, this week has been crawling.  I am so ready to head up to Michie Stadium and...

Let’s go!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

SBRLLR: Choosing Something Real (Part 3)

Time passed in a blur.  Sally and I met at Pier A, hung out, and then got smoothies at the local shake shop.  We met again the following Friday for a dinner date at one of the local Italian places, Sally in a slinky black dress.  The owner brought out complimentary shots of some Italian liqueur that left us both stumbling onto the sidewalk afterwards, and from there we walked back down to Pier A, kissed on the park benches, and decided to go to a New Jersey water park the next day.  Sally showed up for that wearing a black string bikini, and I was astonished to realize that I hadn’t even noticed her pin-up girl’s figure until our fourth date.  We spent a glorious day splashing aimlessly alongside the park's various slides and fountains before coming back to my place, putting on a movie, and falling asleep in one another’s arms.  
In mere days, Sally had become a fixture in my life.  She was the piece I’d been missing.  We’d both gone through rough patches, but together I thought we could take on anything.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Quick Thoughts is Up!

You should probably just bookmark AsForFootball.Com, but in case you've not yet done that...

Thanks for your support.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

#SBRLLR: Choosing Something Real (Part 2)

I showed up to the Hoboken Running Club wearing shorts and a tank top.  I was intensely happy to have something athletic to do in the company of other people.  Though Ugly American Night had frequently been memorable, the happiest I’d been in the Army had been at PT.  I’d enjoyed running in formation all the way back to Beast Barracks, and I’d trained for SFAS with Joe for no better reason than because I enjoyed it.  I didn’t go to SFAS, and Joe didn’t need me pushing him.  I just liked running with my friend, and I knew that the feeling had been mutual.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

You're looking for this week's Army Football Preview, right?

It's not here.  As I said last week, I've taken the Army Football portion of this blog to AsForFootball.Com.  I'm pretty excited about it.  We've got a lot of great things planned, and those guys have a whole range of skillsets that I can't easily replicate on my own. 

Looks like a really good partnership.

This week's preview is up, and I think it's worth your time.  Click here to check it out.

Click here.  Click here.  Click here.
You can handle that, right?


Monday, October 22, 2018

Pics from the Weekend

It was a lot of football.  Emma played with the Stratford High School Band at Homecoming on Friday, then we went to Army's EPIC win over Miami-Ohio on Saturday.  We went hiking yesterday.  I took most of these, but Sally took a bunch of the Army shots on her actual camera.  Hence the enhanced shutter speed and closer zoom.

Pics are after the jump.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Looking for "Quick Thoughts"?

I've taken my talents, at least for the purposes of Army Football, to As For Football.  I'll be doing the same stuff you've come to expect, but over there.

The new post is already up!  Go check it out!!!

Head to As For Football right now!!!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

#SBRLLR: Choosing Something Real (Part 1)

“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
― President Abraham Lincoln
My buddy Joe rescued me in the way that only an old Army buddy can.
Joe and I had met back at Ft. Knox.  The Armor Captain’s Career Course ended with a capstone exercise, a brigade defense fought via computer battle simulation.  The event was primarily a staff exercise for which we were divided into four notional armor battalions with me and Joe serving as the leads on the same notional staff.  I served as our battalion’s operations officer, developing tactics and drafting the bulk of our group’s tactical orders.  Joe ran the staff itself as battalion XO.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Support This Blog

For much of his life, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle truly disliked writing stories about Sherlock Holmes.  Amazing but true.  Alas, the public loved Holmes, and when Doyle attempted to end the series by killing off the famous detective, Londoners went crazy.  They simply could not accept that Holmes was dead.  More to the point, they didn't care overmuch what other projects Doyle himself looked forward to writing in the future.  In the end, Doyle bowed to the public's wishes and brought Holmes back from the dead.  That decision pigeonholed his writing forever.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Army Football Preview: Miami-Ohio

After handling their business in California over the weekend, the Army Black Knights are finally back home on Saturday following a long three-game road trip.  Army faces a hungry, talented team from Miami-Ohio this week that badly needs a win.  In many ways, the Miami-Ohio RedHawks are archetypical of the kinds of teams that Army will face from here on out—strong on defense but inconsistent on offense.  This week’s contest therefore promises to be an important harbinger for the rest of the season.  
After six games, the Black Knights are 4-2 with FCS doormat Lafayette remaining on the schedule.  On top of everything else, a win this Saturday virtually assures bowl eligibility.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Really Quick Thoughts: Army Issues a BEATDOWN to San Jose State

It doesn't get much better than that, am I right?  Army wins by 50 on the road, and Navy drops a heartbreaker at home...  That's what I call a good day's work.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Quick Thoughts: A Star Is Born

Sally and I went to see A Star Is Born last night, starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper in which Cooper is himself making his directorial debut.  I liked the movie a lot, but I had some thoughts about it, too.

Detailed spoilers are below.  Click through at your own risk.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

#SBRLLR: Welcome to New York (Part 3)

While I was struggling to adjust to life in the big city, my father was coming unraveled back in Tennessee.  My mother had finally left him, forcing the sale of their home in Lawrenceburg and upending Dad’s his life from top to bottom.  I don’t think he even argued in his own defense.  Rather, he just let her take whatever she wanted, allowed her to set up their soon-to-be-separate finances to her own best benefit, and--at some level--accepted responsibility for destroying her life and his.  He raged, sure, when he was drunk, but he never actually defended himself nor stopped loving my mother.  For that reason, he let her take advantage of him and of the situation.
Or maybe he was just so drunk that he didn’t notice.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Army Football Preview: at San Jose State

With the bye week in the rearview, Army Football turns its attention to the West Coast and San Jose State.  After five straight games against previously undefeated opponents, Saturday’s contest marks the first of the season in which the Black Knights will be clear, obvious, uncontested favorites over an ostensibly bad team.  That’s not a good thing, nor is it helpful that the game itself will take place nearly 3,000 miles from home in a distinctly unfamiliar stadium.
This is the very definition of a trap game.
It’s a good match-up, though, because it helps Army sell its brand out on the far coast, and in that, the San Jose Spartans did the Academy a favor by staging the contest at Levi Stadium.  Still, this is the kind of game that tests the focus of a young team. Army’s had a decent season so far, but they still stand just 3-2.  The Black Knights badly need a win this week to stay on the path towards bowl eligibility.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Quick Thoughts: Navy at Air Force & More

I don't know if you watched it, but Air Force beat the Holy Hell out of Navy yesterday out in Colorado Springs.  As Coach Jeff Monken would say, "It wasn't even sporting."  The Zoomies dropped a stone-cold beat-down.

Really, the game went about as we expected given Wednesday's preview, but even more so.  Much more.

The game's first quarter was some of the worst football I've ever seen.  As they were for most of the game, Navy was trapped in a nightmare version of the Malcolm Perry Show, with the Zoomies keying on Perry and hitting him repeatedly behind the line of scrimmage.  Perry either couldn't or wouldn't get the ball out to the rest of his playmakers, and that let Air Force attack him personally and thereby shut down the Squids' offense in its entirety.

Some fool is reading this and shaking his head.  It's true, though.  The problem really was Malcolm Perry.  He finished with 19 carries for 54 yards (2.8 yards/carry), including a ton of negative yardage plays.  FB Anthony Gargiulo finished with all of 4 (!) carries for 13 yards (3.3 yards/carry), while TEs Tre Walker and Nelson Smith, running mostly in the FB role, I think, finished with 6 carries collectively for 37 yards (6.1 yards/carry).  FBs Mike Martin and Nelson Smith struggled mightily, but even so, those guys collectively finished with 18 carries for 3.6 yards/carry.  That's not great, but it would've moved the chains consistently without the negative plays at quarterback.

Navy ran out of the shotgun a lot yesterday, but their O-Line wasn't getting any push, and for the most part, with the way they run the Dive, it wasn't hitting the hole fast enough.  The Zoomies were into the backfield a lot before the play had a chance to develop.  They got some decent pitches outside, but Perry cannot pass the ball, so really, they just did not have an answer for the Zoomies' D-Line.  They got behind the chains a lot, and that's why they lost.

On the other side, the Squids' defense did a decent job keeping the Zoomies in check for most of the first half.  The first quarter was literally just a long series of 3-and-outs for both squads, with the Mids slowly winning the field position battle.  That eventually gave Navy their only points, but they lost their starting middle linebacker to a targeting call late in the quarter, and their defense never recovered.  Once LB Taylor Heflin went out, we started seeing busts in Navy's pass coverage and mistakes in triple-option defense, and from there, the rout was on.

Air Force's new quarterback, Donald Hammond III, went 6/10 for 142 yards and a touchdown.  Nearly half of that came on a single busted-coverage play to WR Ronald Cleveland, who went 61 yards for the score.  Beyond that, Hammond did enough to keep the chains moving.  He carried 19 times for just 60 yards (3.2 yards/carry), but he did an excellent job distributing the football, and the Mids let RB Joseph Saucier get loose several times for long gainers off the option-pitch.  Saucier's long went 48 yards for a touchdown.  He finished with 3 carries for 62 yards (20.7 yards/carry).  

That's not a bad day at the office.

So this is how you lose: you let your quarterback get smoked behind the line of scrimmage repeatedly, have your starting middle linebacker tackle with his head down and get a targeting call, and then give up big yardage chunk plays on the outside.  Eventually, your defense loses heart, and you wind up 35-7 in a rivalry game that you badly needed.  That's what I saw.

It's no secret that I've not been a fan of the Malcolm Perry Show since its debut.  I'm still not.  If Navy starts QB Garrett Lewis and uses Perry as a slotback, I think they match Air Force's production--easily.  As it was, they tried to use their big-play threat to distribute the football, and that's just not been working.  Outside of one home game against Memphis, this Navy team has not performed as advertised.

Meanwhile, the takeaway for Army is about Air Force's D-Line.  Those guys are big and fast.  The Zoomies have given up a lot of yards passing this season, and Army has run on some teams (Hawaii) that the Mids couldn't much move, but still.  QB Kelvin Hopkins Jr. will have to match Hammond's production in the passing game if Army wants to win.  Granted, Hopkins is gonna get more help from the rest of his offense than Malcolm Perry got.  Nevertheless, November's showdown in Michie Stadium may well be a game for the ages.

Army Football P(Wins) vs. 2018 Schedule: Bye Week
The good news for the Black Knights is that Hawaii and Buffalo both won their games in convincing fashion yesterday.  The Rainbow Warriors are now bowl eligible, and the Bulls still look to have the inside track on winning the MAC.  They destroyed Central Michigan, mostly on the ground.  That bodes well for Army's end-of-season ranking.

Miami (Ohio) also won yesterday.  That's a team that tends to start slow but pick up steam as the season progresses.  I don't know if they can finish fast enough to make it into the postseason, but they might.  Certainly, they'll come into Michie Stadium hungry to keep the turnaround going.

Eastern Michigan lost again, but what's amazing is that even at 2-4, they're still in plus territory on point differential.  Very surprising.  They must be the most under-performing team for their talent in all of college football.  Of note, Army's game in their building will be an absolute must-win for the Eagles.

Finally, Colgate remains unbeaten.  If you haven't noticed, Army's last home game is not a gimme.  The Black Knights will be facing one of the very best teams in all of FCS football.

* * *
Plot threads for the coming week:.

1.  Navy's season is in the toilet, and they have the hardest part of their schedule immediately on the horizon.  Temple, Houston, #6 Notre Dame, undefeated Cincinnati, and then #12 UCF.  Unless something unexpected happens, Navy's liable to be 4-7 heading into the Army-Navy game.

Wow.  The last time that happened, I think *I* was still a cadet.

2. Air Force has SDSU, UNLV, Boise State, and then Army.  They're 2-3 now and will probably be 3-5 when they hit Michie Stadium.  Maybe they shock the Aztecs, but that's not the way I would bet.  A Zoomie win would certainly help Army's strength-of-schedule rankings.  After Army, the Zoomies have New Mexico, Wyoming, and Colorado State.

Bottom line, the Zoomies can still salvage their season despite their slow start.  That's worth watching.  I was very impressed with the way they played yesterday.

3.  Despite their record, San Jose State is a dangerous team for Army on the road.  The Spartans are big on their D-Line and very good against the run, allowing just 3.8 yards/carry.  They have a big-play offense, but an inconsistent one, and that's why they haven't won a game.

Assuming Army can move the ball against their front, I think the Black Knights have a serious advantage in terms of style-of-play.  But this will be an interesting test against another stout rushing defense.  Having seen Air Force's D-Line, the Black Knights need those kinds of tests heading into the November showdown.

That's all I've got.

Go Army!  Beat San Jose State!!!

Friday, October 5, 2018

5 Things on a Friday: Bye Week Blues

Tough week without an Army game this Saturday.  Not that the guys don’t deserve a break or even that I and my family don’t have other things that we need to do with our time.  But still.  You wait all damned year for college football season, it’s tough to miss even a week of it.
Oh well.  There are other games, I guess.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

#SBRLLR: Welcome to New York (Part 2)

It turned out that my new company had lost two complete substations, something like five hundred million dollars’ worth of equipment, and that this had blacked out Wall Street and much of Lower Manhattan.  We had one killed-in-action, Dick Morgan, a recently retired executive who’d been at the Trade Center that morning for a meeting with the Transit Authority.  I’d never met Mr. Morgan, but he was famed for being the only “nice guy” executive in the entire company.  For months afterwards, folks said, “They got the only good one.”

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

C.iC. Football Preview: Navy at Air Force

This week, the nation’s #2 and #3 service academies square off in a football rivalry game for the ages.  No, I’m not talking about the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at SUNY Maritime.  No, I’m not talking about VMI at the Citadel.
It’s Navy-Air Force Week!
I know, right?  I wasn’t really expecting to be here, either.  I was planning to run another 5 Things on a Bye Week post, but when I polled the audience, you guys were a good bit more fired up about this week’s heel-on-heel matchup than you were about my random musings on Army Football’s State of the Season.  It was actually pretty even on Twitter, but my classmates on Facebook were way more interested in Navy-Air Force, and here we are.  Alas, some of them actually live out in Colorado.

I should point out that several folks on FB asked me to do both.  I do not think I’ll have the time, unfortunately.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Quick Thoughts: Army Lays a Whuppin' on Buffalo

Very satisfying game yesterday.  Big game on the road in front of a near sold-out crowd, and Army really needed to win.  They did.  They brought their best stuff for the most part, and they made it happen.

The team now heads into its bye week with a winning record against the toughest part of its schedule.  Commander-in-Chief's play lies ahead, as do a bunch of games against dangerous, under-performing teams, but at least right now, all is right with Black Knights Nation.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Gameday Headlines: at Buffalo

It's game day, folks!

If you missed Tuesday's Army Football Preview, it's here.  Let's get it on!

Friday, September 28, 2018

College Football Preview: What to Watch in Week 5

I’m so ready for this weekend.  This week has featured everything that I hate--fights with my wife, a pulled hamstring, abundant rain and flooding, and a plethora of high-stress / high-impact / quick turnaround-type work things.  And that’s only the stuff that has happened to me.
Waiting for the train this morning, my friend said, “So okay, tell me something good.”  I immediately went to college football because that’s the only part of our national public life that’s actually working.  Everything else is a zoo from which I would very much like to escape.
These are the games I’ll be following.  This list is culled from 506 Sports.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

#SBRLLR: Welcome to New York (Part 1)

“Cut off as I am, it is inevitable that I should sometimes feel like a shadow walking in a shadowy world. When this happens I ask to be taken to New York City. Always I return home weary but I have the comforting certainty that mankind is real flesh and I myself am not a dream.”
―  Helen Keller, Midstream: My Later Life
I spent two weeks in temporary corporate housing while I familiarized myself with my new home.  They put me up in Jersey City, New Jersey, down by the PATH station near the banks of the Hudson River.  From there, I spent time exploring various parts of Manhattan and trying to decide where to live.  I toured Trump Tower, decided it was far too expensive for what it offered, and finally settled on a one-bedroom basement apartment in a brownstone in Hoboken.  My landlord turned out to be the local judge.  Her husband was a powerful corporate attorney working out of an office in Manhattan.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Army Football Preview: at Buffalo

Four weeks into the season, the Black Knights are 2-2.  That’s not great, but it’s about where most fans expected the team to be.  Really, outside of their first half at Duke, they’ve played pretty well.  They couldn’t quite close with the Blue Devils after that shaky first half, but they came back to beat Liberty soundly and hand Hawaii their lone loss, and then they mighty Oklahoma a bad scare in their own building.  
Now the Army Team needs to find a way to win some games.
In fact, Army needs to win at least three of its next five.  Because only one FCS game will count towards bowl eligibility and because the Navy game comes after bowl invitations are announced, Army will need to carry at least five wins into the final three contests to ensure postseason play.  That’s doable, to be sure, but it makes this week’s game at Buffalo even more important.
Not that the game wasn’t already important.  Buffalo is a team on the rise, a potential favorite to win the MAC, and a regional recruiting rival within New York State.  Like all of Army’s foes this season, they come into this weekend’s tilt undefeated.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Quick Thoughts: Army Goes Toe-to-Toe with Oklahoma

Well folks, I didn't think that game was gonna go like that, and considering that Fox Sports put probably the best game of the day on pay-per-view, where it was seen by maybe 50K people, I'm guessing that they didn't either.  It was a bad deal.  It's inexcusable, really, especially when the net result was to punish Army, the premier military academy for the entire nation and one of college football's most-storied programs.

I mean, Army played at Oklahoma, but it's still Oklahoma's Army.  West Point is Oklahoma's military academy every bit as much as it's New York's.  But somehow we didn't put the game on national TV.  As my grandfather would've said, "That don't make no sense."

Thursday, September 20, 2018

#SBRLLR: Loneliness

“Because you can’t trust freedom when it’s not in your hand,
when everybody’s fightin’ for the Promised Land…”
― Guns ‘n’ Roses, “Civil War”
I drove over the Kosciuszko Bridge and into the heart of urban New Jersey late in the afternoon on August 5, 2001.  After almost a year out of uniform, I’d been offered a job in New York City and—with some trepidation—had decided to accept. The drive up from Tennessee had seen me through the rolling farmland of western Virginia and rural Pennsylvania, but population had picked up steadily as I worked my way east.  Halfway through New Jersey I began seeing the unique urban cityscapes I remembered from my Academy days.  It wasn’t until I hit the bridge, though, that New York Harbor came into view alongside the Statue of Liberty and Liberty State Park.  The glass and steel skyscrapers of Manhattan’s skyline emerged when I crested the next rise, beckoning me forward as they have so many others looking for a fresh start.  
I was badly in need of one.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

College Football Preview: What to Watch this Weekend

Army plays at Oklahoma at 7 pm on Saturday on Fox Pay-Per-View.  The game costs almost $60.  Considering that the Sooners are favored by more than thirty points, I’m gonna say it’s probably not worth the price of admission.  Which sucks because Army plays these games almost solely for the purpose of putting its brand in front of a larger national television audience.  With the game relegated to PPV, that effort now seems wasted.  
What can you do?

My wife says we’re going to some kind of fall festival on Saturday afternoon.  The Alpaca Gnomes will be there.  But a week without Army Football is like a week without air.  Sure, there are other games, and after we get back from watching the Gnomes, I’ll probably watch at least one of them.  But none of the ones I’m listing below will have me screaming at my TV.  These are just the games that I’ll be following.
All times, channels, and betting lines are per ESPN.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Quick Thoughts: Army Stands Tall Against Mighty Hawaii

I’m writing this on my phone as the church band practices this morning, but I probably won’t get a chance to post it until later this afternoon. My daughter Hannah is part of the Worship Team as, like, the Junior Singer. She sings a lot of backup, but they usually build at least one song around her, too. Alas, today she was just backup.  Anyway, she gets to sing, and that matters.  She’s not quite an elite talent, but she can usually get the congregation on its feet. That counts.

Army had a good game yesterday. I didn’t realize how well QB Kelvin Hopkins had played until I looked at the stats. He was 6/10 passing with a couple of critical downfield conversions and no interceptions. Notably, he threw the ball away when it wasn’t there, and he didn’t take a sack. I thought the pass blocking looked pretty good for the most part, even on obvious passing downs. That’s a big improvement for this Army team.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Final thoughts on Hawai'i and a few other things

In an oft underwhelming slate of home games, Army Football has a rare sizzler today.  The Black Knights are hosting the hottest team in college football, the Rainbow Warriors from the University of Hawai'i.  Army's actually favored in the game, and if you look at the stats, you can see why.  Bottom line, Army is very good at home, and the 'Bows look primed for a regression after a 5,000 mile plane trip.  I broke this down in some detail earlier in the week.


Hawai'i is undefeated, and they've looked absolutely bulletproof through three games.  A few websites are picking Army to win based on the betting line, but all the guys on CBS Sports Network picked Hawai'i, and I don't think anyone will be surprised if that's the way it goes.  I certainly wouldn't bet money on Army giving points.

I'm excited regardless.  You can tell because it's 6 am, and I'm sitting here writing this instead of sleeping.  Granted, I got in bed early last night, but I woke up just after five this morning thinking, "Is it time yet?"


I really enjoy football at Michie Stadium.  My daughter Emma and I are headed up, and I honestly can't wait.

Friday, September 14, 2018

5 Things on a Friday: Ridin’ the Storm Out

Something happened on Wednesday.  The blog went viral in some way that hasn’t happened previously.  I think that a West Pointer somewhere--I’m guessing from a class in the mid- to late-1970s--saw my preview of the Hawai’i game on Facebook and sent it out to a bunch of his buddies in a monster email blast.  It propagated from there.  Alas, the event came without much in the way of statistics from Blogger’s traffic tracking pages, so there are a few other possibilities.  But some kind of email chain seems most likely.
Regardless, hello new readers!
Experience suggests that most of you will not stick around long, and that’s okay.  As I tell my own classmates, our friendship is not contingent on your reading my stuff.  The blog’s traffic has been growing over the years, but this isn’t a Get Rich Quick scheme.  It’s the way I entertain myself while I’m on Metro-North going back and forth from New York City.  
The blog is intentionally organized as a salad bar.  You take what you want and ignore the rest.  There is no one else on earth who also likes all the stuff that I like.  I get that.  You don’t have to like my stuff; you don’t have to like me.  It’s fine, really.  
Writing isn’t my career.  Some people build little ships in little bottles.  I write a blog.  It is what it is.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

#SBRLLR: Firstie (Part 5)

My dad retired from the Marine Corps at about the same time that the West Point Class of 1995 hit Branch Night.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Army Football Preview: Hawai’i

After a big win at home against Liberty last week, the Black Knights are back at Michie this weekend for an unexpected Death Match against the resurgent Rainbow Warriors from the University of Hawai’i.  Hawai’i has vaporized everyone they’ve played with the power of their rebuilt run-and-shoot offense, but for better or worse, this is a game that Army badly needs to win.  
With the way the schedule shakes out, the Black Knights will need five wins before the Lafayette game to ensure bowl eligibility.  This is because only one FCS game counts towards the requisite six, and Army-Navy happens after bowl invitations have already been issued.  With tough road games against Oklahoma, Buffalo, and an Eastern Michigan team that has finally learned to finish, Army’s margin for error has become razor thin.  The Black Knights therefore need to win now in order to hit the meat of their schedule on the upswing and to give themselves just the slightest bit of breathing room going forward.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Quick Thoughts: Army Rolls Over Liberty

After last week's opener at Duke, yesterday's contest against Liberty University was just what Army fans needed to see.  Certainly, it was what I needed to see.  The Black Knights rang up 27 first downs and 510 yards of total offense, including almost 450 yards rushing.  Army got just over 250 yards from the fullback position alone.  The team has a couple of things to clean up this week, but there were a lot of good performances, too.

A few quick thoughts are below.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

#SBRLLR: Firstie (Part 4)

R___ was my favorite college girlfriend.  We were both committed athletes and both cadets, and if I hadn’t been such a pigheaded asshole about the nature of our relationship, I’m quite sure that it could’ve lasted.  As it was, we spent a lot of time together, dating in a traditional sense, going to local restaurants and just talking.  I enjoyed her company tremendously.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Army Football Preview: Liberty

I tried to be upbeat Saturday morning after the loss to Duke, but I’m starting to think that I might not have been concerned enough.  Yeah, Army lost to a tough opponent on the road, and it was a bad spot.  There were maybe a few signs of life from the offense.  So what?  The defense was actively terrible, and more to the point, the rest of the early schedule suddenly looks considerably more challenging than it did just a few weeks ago.  I’m a little concerned.
Most fans were counting on a 2-2 start with the road game at Buffalo essentially deciding what kind of season we’re facing.  I know a few folks were talking “perfect season” before the Duke game, but I never thought that, and anyway, did you see Oklahoma on Saturday?  The Sooners just masterblasted FAU.   Worse, we’ve now seen Hawaii twice, and they look phenomenal.  Otherworldly, even.   And this week’s opponent, Liberty?  The Flames just dropped 52 on Old Dominion.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Quick Thoughts: Army at Duke

Climb down off the ledge, Army fans.  Trust me, no one was more disappointed by last night's contest than I was, but it's not as bad as it looks.  Really, there are some positives here--along with a few basic takeaways.

Friday, August 31, 2018

5 Things on a Friday: @ Duke

We’ve got a game tonight.  You may say that it’s not a big game, but Duke Head Football Coach David Cutcliffe and his players would probably not agree with you.

You think these guys don’t want it?  They circled this one on the calendar before last season even ended.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

#SBRLLR: Firstie (Part 3)

I hit the pool for captain’s practices and was dismayed when my buddy Dave smoked me for more than an hour doing the kinds of rote 100-yard interval sets that had been the mainstay of our time together for the past three years.  Try as I might, I simply could not keep up.  Soon I realized that it wasn’t just Dave.  Over the course of that first week, I found myself swimming back a lane and then two, following kids I’d led through the last year and more.  I’d swim as hard as I could, going completely balls-out, but my body simply would not perform the way that it was supposed to.  To that point, I’d set my Cruise Interval at 1:05 or better for three years running.  As a firstie, I realized that I’d be lucky to set it at 1:15.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Army Football Preview: at Duke

Here we are at last.  It’s finally time to open the 2018 Army Football season, which means it’s finally time to talk in detail about the Black Knights’ first game—at Duke!
Previewing this first game is tough.  There’s not a lot of data, and what data we have comes entirely from second-hand sources.  I’ve not attended any of Army’s scrimmages, and even if I had, I’m not sure what we’d have learned.  From all reports, Army has a remarkably good class of plebes.  Also, QB Kelvin Hopkins has supposedly thrown the ball really well.  So what?  The plebes aren’t going to contribute this week unless something truly astonishing occurs, and Hopkins’s passing is similarly unlikely to make-or-break the contest.  
How does the new O-Line look?  Can this team replace Alex Aukerman’s production at rush linebacker?  Can the secondary stay in position without Rhyan England?  Unfortunately, the only way to figure any of this out is under live-fire conditions.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Crunch: Entry-Level Weight-Lifting Concepts (Part 1)

Talking to my buddy the other day, I mentioned that I’d started taking my daughters to the gym again recently, and he got surprisingly interested.  He and his son met us on Tuesday, and when I showed him what we were doing, he said, “Oh wow.  You have, like, a plan and everything.  I always just come here and do maybe half an hour on the treadmill and then hit some of the machines.  I’ve never, like, tried to hit multiple muscle groups on purpose or anything.”
His son followed up with, “I always just do five sets on the leg-press machine and a bunch of arms.  This is cool.”

Friday, August 24, 2018

5 Things on a Friday: Showing Your Work

Good morning, folks!  It’s Week 3 of the preseason, which means we might see some actual starters in uniform tonight, and college football kicks off tomorrow!
Hallelujah!  Our long national nightmare is almost over.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

NFL Preview: NFC West

Welcome to the fourth and (presumably) final week of the joint Casa Cabeza / Hoosier on the Potomac NFL Divisional Preview series.  Joe has talked some about doing a bonus fifth week in which we make playoff and Super Bowl predictions, and we’ll probably do that, but this week marks the end of the actual work.  
If there’s a post next week, we’ll be straight talking out of our asses.  I mean, that is usually the plan regardless, but it’ll be even more egregious than usual.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

#SBRLLR: Firstie (Part 2)

A lot of guys stayed in Europe following the staff ride, but I caught a flight back to Rhode Island and spent my time laying on Newport Beach with my girlfriend Marla.  Alas, we didn’t have much longer as a couple.  She’d decided to head to California for college.  We made the most of what we had, however, and we parted without regrets.  In another life, our relationship might’ve had legs.  At the ages of eighteen and twenty-one, respectively, neither of us wanted anything permanent.  We held tight to what we had, though, and if we parted mostly without tears, this was only possible because each of us realized that we had the rest of our lives ahead of us.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Army Football Preview: Preseason Power Rankings

ESPN updated its Football Power Index (FPI) at the end of July, and the revised rankings hit Army right in the mouth.  The Black Knights are now the lowest-ranked of the service academies with an FPI of -9.7.  That puts them 103rd out of 130 total FBS teams.  ESPN projects that they would lose to an “average” team on a neutral field by something like 10 points.  The Four Letter Network projects that would-be “average” team as Fresno State out of the Mountain West, with an FPI of +0.3 points above the mean.
So Army’s doomed, right?  I mean, why even play the games when we have preseason computer projections?

Friday, August 17, 2018

5 Things on a Friday: Pics from Our Camping Trip

We're back from vacation today, having spent a few days camping up by Lake George.  It was much cooler up there, but we got rained on a few times.  The trip was a lot of fun, but I'm sort of enjoying being back, too.
How was your week?  Good?

Thursday, August 16, 2018

NFL Preview: NFC South

Yay football.  Granted, it’s only preseason, but still…  Some football is better than no football.  I mean, the Giants haven’t looked great, but what can you do?
For those keeping score, this post marks the halfway point in the joint Casa Cabeza Hoosier on the Potomac NFL divisional preview series.  This week, we turn our attention to the NFC/AFC South.  The AFC South is Joe’s favorite division in that it’s home to the Colts (boo!) and the Titans (yay!), but that’s for later.  For now, we’re talking NFC.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

#SBRLLR: Firstie (Part 1)

" I, ___, having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of Second Lieutenant, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter;. So help me God.”
― U.S. Army Officers’ Commissioning Oath
I met my counsellor at the end of cow year to again discuss my options.  He’d been happy to see me the last time, but this time he looked a little more serious.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Army Football Preview: Sculpting the Offense

It’s Week 3 of the Army Football Preview series, and as promised, we’re getting into actual football this week.  Specifically, we’re gonna talk about Army’s offense and what, if any, changes we ought to expect for 2018.
Let me start by saying that I got a little too into the schematics of the triple-option over the summer.  I don’t normally watch tape because I don’t feel like it’s one of my strengths; rather, I think I have more to add simply by looking at trends using basic statistics.  That’s not complicated, but it has proven to be fairly predictive in terms of identifying key match-ups ahead of specific contests, and this in turn frames how I’ve watched the games themselves.  The games themselves are easier to understand when we know what’s happening and why.  But I got legitimately interested in the specifics of triple-option offensive design through the process of writing the preseason Army-Navy preview, and once I got started, I just sort of kept reading.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

TV Review: Marvel's Cloak & Dagger

My daughter Emma and I finished Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger on Freeform last week, and we both really enjoyed it.  Truthfully, I think I enjoyed it more than she did.  Before watching the show, I’d have guessed that it was aimed squarely at the teen-girl fan-set based on its choice of cable networks.  The reality, though, is that the former ABC Family Channel has more in common with Spike TV than it does with, say, The Disney Channel or even Lifetime.  Where we were expecting something along the lines of the CW’s Arrowverse but starring younger Marvel protagonists, what we got was a decidedly gritty psychological drama that was much more in line with the tone of the original 1980s-era comics than I’d have believed possible.

Friday, August 10, 2018

5 Things on Friday: Football Begins!

Truth is, I didn't love the Giants' first preseason game even though it started with a bang.
After that, things slowed considerably.  The Giants' revamped O-Line looked maybe a little better than they were last year, but their second stringers were terrible, and backup QB Davis Webb, would-be star of the preseason, was not good at all.  Starting QB Eli Manning wound up 4/7 for 26 yards.  He took a sack, made a terrible pass via miscommunication to TE Rhett Ellison that should have been intercepted, and was victimized by two really egregious drops.  One went to a backup wide receiver on a quick out; the other came on a well-timed screen play to RB Jonathan Stewart.  Both should have been first downs.