Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend in the Big House

The call went out. The faithful returned to Ann Arbor. The Wolverine Nation poured through DTW. This is the year. Doctors, lawyers, engineers, execs, parents, children, grandparents, all answered the call. They came. They knew. They believe.

The team believes.

The cry, the chant, the call, two simple, but powerful words: BEAT OHIO.

Even the Columbus Dispatch knew. They dropped the clock.

The stadium was a sea of maize and blue – not the blurry scarlet and gray of 2 years ago. 114,132 in Michigan Stadium, the Big House. Less than 10,000 Buckeyes. BEAT OHIO.

The forecast was rain -52% chance of rain. And yet they came.

Michigan-Ohio State, Wolverines versus Buckeyes, the greatest rivalry in sports could not descend to the level of the Harlem Globetrotters and Washington Generals. Ohio State wanted to win, but the Wolverines had to win. 2926 days were 2926 days too many. Only one win in ten years.

The two schools hate each other, but they need each other. Hence, the mutual respect.

The sun broke through for a few minutes at kickoff and then hid behind the gray clouds. Were the football gods sending a message? But then the clouds broke and the blue shone for the 4th quarter. Go blue. Ohio State was doomed for this was the omen. The football gods had spoken: BEAT OHIO.

104,000 closest friends and neighbors in the Big House erupted into a continuous chant of The Victors, interrupted only by the PA system playing Sweet Caroline. The stands shook. The players knew. Michigan would beat both the Buckeyes and the officials. The scattered Buckeye fans could only woefully look on. Michigan, unlike Notre Dame, was not going to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

The two worthy opponents marched up and down the field. No quarter was asked, and none given. The Buckeyes played their hearts out, but it was not to be. They were destined to lose this fall day. Michigan pasted 40 points on Brutus, the most since 1946.

The Best Damn Band in the Land played its loudest to cheer on the Buckeyes, but its sounds were muffled in the home of The Victors. BEAT OHIO, not Carmen Electra roared through the stadium.

Four Buckeye cheerleaders plaintively cried out "Go Bucks." The deafening chorus responded "Go Blue."

This was more than a game, more than the annual clash between two intense rivals. This game was not for the national championship; nor the Big Ten title. Not even a trophy. It was more than that. This game is the rebirth of Michigan football.

The nation’s winningest football program was in a malaise, just as in the 1960’s. An attempt to rebrand Michigan football failed, as miserably as had the New Coke.

The Wolverines had been declawed and defanged. Jim Tressel was doing to Michigan what Woody Hayes did 5 decades earlier. The hallowed grounds of Harmon, Carter, Howard, Woodson, and Brady were desecrated.

The sins of Appalachian State and Toledo had to be expiated.

Every major program has its lows. Texas is hurting now. Notre Dame has fired every coach since Lou Holtz retired in 1996. USC was suffering until Pete Carroll arrived. Nebraska had similarly tried to remake itself. Alabama, LSU, and Oklahoma went through football droughts.

But this is Michigan. Appalachian State was a debacle, and the spread without defense and blocking is a failure. The buzzards were circling. Michigan had to rid itself of the albatross.

The great university survived the collapse of Detroit and the Michigan economy, but the football program was in systemic decline. Michigan, Notre Dame, and USC are great academic institutions, but football is in their DNA. Michigan is not Michigan, Notre Dame not Notre Dame nor USC USC without football.

Time to return to the fundamentals – the team, defense, conditioning, the will, and a Michigan Man from Ohio. Bo in 1969 and Hoke in 2011. This is Michigan football.


So what if Tressel is out for cheating and lying. Michigan won.

So what if Pryor turned pro. Michigan won.

So what is Ohio State’s QB was a raw freshman. Michigan won.

So what if the Ohio State team was banged up. They lost.

So what if the Ohio State players had more tattoos. The Wolverines had more points.

History records the final score with no asterisk.

Tens of thousands stormed the field as the final seconds ticked off. No one left the stadium. This was the second coming of November 22, 1969.

10-2 with victories over Notre Dame, Nebraska, and The Ohio State University. The new genesis of Michigan football has begun.

THE VICTORS beat Ohio.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Huggies Dump on Santa

How do you distinguish your disposable diapers from the competition? – Huggies, Luvs, Pampers and private labels up the kazoo.

Go designer diapers. Add cachet to the little pooper catchers and throw in a noble cause for good measure.

Tis The Season to be Jolly with Santa diapers and wipes.

As Huggies advertised “Dress’em like Claus for a cause.”



Full of guilt

Tug on Santa’s white beard for a good cause (the donation of 17 million diapers to diaper banks).

Offset the guilt of filling our landfills with disposable, non-biodegradable diapers rather than reusing cloth diapers.

Rip’n Wrap is all so convenient.

Huggies does not actually say the diapers bear Santa’s image. Rather the ad shows a baby clad in red and white with a Santa cap and a matching red and white diaper. My initial impression though is of Santa diapers. It’s Santa’s diapers and wipes.

How jolly can Santa be when he must carry a load in his pants as well as on his back?

Think of the song: “Here comes Santa Claus; here comes Santa Claus, right down “Detritus Lane.”

Santa lands on the roof, climbs down the chimney, and expects a glass of milk and a plate of cookies. Instead, he gets a different gift from the little crapper. Mommy and Daddy deserve lumps of coal!

Santa distributes IPods, ITouches, Imacs, IPhones, and IPads, and gets “ICraps” in exchange.

Santa’s Little Helper has now become Santa’s Little Pooper. No more need for the Grinch to raise a stink in Santa’s Workshop. The Little Pooper serves the purpose.

Santa has to carry all those diaper gifts back to the elves for proper disposal.

Or Santa can scatter the scat over the Midwest to boost ethanol production without a permit from the EPA. The sprinkling of the fertilizer bomblets will throw off NORAD’s tracking system of Santa’s sleigh.

Parents at some stage in their children’s growth must face that painful, difficult talk. No, not the birds and bees. Your little one learnt that from the internet, but the painful conversation that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy do not exist.

Now you simply say that the reason you can pollute Santa’s diaper and wipe your bum with Santa’s baby wipes is that “Yes Virginia, there is no Santa.” Virginia already figured that one out.

How can any child believe in the existence of one they shat upon?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tomorrow is Election Day in Ohio

Ohio’s voters face a critical election tomorrow, a precursor in the battle ground state to next year’s Presidential election. President Obama cannot win reelection unless he carries both Michigan and Ohio. Conversely, Republicans do not win the White House unless they carry Ohio.

Tomorrow’s election though is not for an individual, such as Governor, Senator, Attorney General, Congressman, or to the state legislature. It may be viewed indirectly as a referendum on Republican Governor Kasich, but it may also be a referendum on the future of public employee unions in Ohio and he nation.

The 2010 midterm elections swept Republicans into office in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The newly elected Republicans stuck it to the public employee unions in the name of fiscal reform. The goal was also to cripple these unions and their financial lifelines for Democratic candidates.

Wisconsin’s anti-union efforts to cripple the public employee unions received the most national attention. The unions unsuccessfully poured millions of dollars in initially fighting the legislation, in a contested state Supreme Court election, and then in recall elections against Republican legislators. Their supporters also occupied the state capitol.

Amidst the Wisconsin furor, the Ohio Republicans quietly enacted S.B. 5, an even more restrictive limitation on public sector unions in the state than Wisconsin’s.
S.B. 5 requires public employees to pay 15% of their health insurance and 10% of their salaries to their pensions, hardly out of line with the private workplace.

The main feature bars binding mediation for health coverage, pensions, and staffing levels. The real kicker though is that in cases of bargaining impasses between unions and city councils and school boards, the cities and school boards can unilaterally impose their last offer on the employees.

The effect is to essentially repeal public sector collective bargaining in Ohio.

The unions have spent $30 million in the repeal campaign, established phone banks, and mounted a door to door get out the vote effort.

Polls show the recall effort succeeding. If so, it will be a major victory for the unions. If they fail though, they will witness an increase in anti-union legislation across the nation and a major hit on their financial base.

The unions are emphasizing the threat to public safety through S. B. 5. The Wisconsin legislation exempted first responders from its coverage, but S.B. 5 includes police and fire in its ambit.

Even if the unions win, their victory may be Pyrrhic. The resulting cost constraints on state and local government will result in increased layoffs in the public sector.