Monday, November 30, 2015

I missed Mike Helfgot's...

..."four downs for state finals" last week somehow, but I read it this morning. His third down, "Private issue," reads:

As many as five private schools can win state championships this weekend, which could renew calls for the separation of private and public schools. The IHSA has come out against it, but it's not out of the realm of possibility that enough public schools will ultimately band together on the issue.

I guess I didn't know this was such an issue. And why would it be?

Turns out, four private schools, Loyola, Montini, Nazareth and Bishop McNamara won the 8A, 6A, 5A and 3A state titles while four public schools, Glenbard West, Phillips, Tri-Valley and Arcola captured the 7A, 4A, 2A and 1A crowns. So, for you non-math majors, that's exactly half. Impressive, but hardly dominant.

What's more, Palatine and Prairie Ridge almost ended up in the 8A and 6A finals instead of Loyola and Montini. Where were the private schools in 7A? Mount Carmel and Benet were both knocked out in the second round.

I went back and looked at the last five years, and in each of them three out of the eight classes -- less than half -- were won by private schools. And, if you'll notice, many of the same names keep popping up.

2014: 7A Providence, 6A Nazareth and 5A Sacred Heart-Griffin.
2013: 7A Mount Carmel, 5A Sacred Heart-Griffin and 2A Newman Central Catholic.
2012: 8A Mount Carmel, 5A Montini and 3A Aurora Christian.
2011: 7A Rockford Boylan, 5A Montini and 3A Aurora Christian.
2010: 6A Rockford Boylan, 5A Montini and 2A Newman Central Catholic.

My opinion? Leave it alone; it's working just fine.

P. S. Seven out of the eight contests this year were blowouts. Does that mean anything? In the previous two years, half the games were decided by a touchdown or less. Macht nichts.

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

“The coffee is free, but now we rent the tables.”

Friday, November 27, 2015

When it comes to your...

...career, is it "completely garbage advice" to listen to your inner voice, be true to yourself and follow your passion? Is it silly to think your future is limitless?

I think that's what David Brooks is saying beginning at about 3:08 in the video above.

Wow. So what did Mr. Brooks do with his life?

A few minutes later, at about 5:34, the author, columnist for the New York Times, political pundit, part-time professor and father of three says:

"When I graduated from college, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I knew I wanted to do some teaching. I thought I wanted to be a playwright or a novelist, go into politics, have a spouse, children."

Sounds to me like he listened to his inner voice, was true to himself and followed his passion. Mr. Brooks is only 54 years old; I'd say his future is limitless. You never know; he may even one day write a play or a novel.

Cynthia Robinson, trumpet player...

...and "original member of the seminal psychedelic-funk-soul group Sly and the Family Stone," died at age 71.

In addition to supplying trumpet riffs, Ms. Robinson chipped in with vocals. At the beginning of “Dance to the Music,” the group’s first hit, she can be heard shouting, “Get on up and dance to the music!”

The Unfortunate Picture...

...of the Day is from a piece in the SportsFriday section of the Times today, "With TV Proposal, Ahmad Rashad Married Sport and Pop Culture."

Yep, that's O.J. Simpson and Bill Cosby flanking Rashad at his wedding to Phylicia Ayers-Allen in 1985.

The couple divorced in 2001. 

Remember when Jeb Bush said...

...the Republican can­did­ate for president may need to be will­ing to “lose the primary to win the gen­er­al”? (Those were the days.)

Sam Popkin, a political science professor at the University of California San Diego, says about You Know Who (my emphasis):

You don’t have to win the nomination to win the conversation.

He’s re-defining conservative as someone who hates Mexicans and Muslims. 

It’s his party now. He’s not filtering it and that may make it impossible to get beyond 30 percent of the electorate, but it’s enough to get power within the party. He matters whether or not he gets the nomination.

There’s no way to kiss and make up with Hispanics, to say we’re sorry we didn’t stop this sooner.

The Quote of the Day...

...is from a David Frum piece in the Atlantic, "How to Beat Donald Trump":

Now the same [Republican Party] leaders who insisted that Sarah Palin COULD do the job of president, if need be, want to persuade the rank-and-file that Trump can’t? Good luck with that.

P. S. Trump just hit a new high of 35.1 percent yesterday in the Huffington Post aggregate of 223 polls from 33 pollsters.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

What the heck, as long as...

...I'm recommending things today how about Witness, by Whittaker Chambers? (I was reminded of it by a piece in the Times today about the Rosenbergs and Steven Spielberg’s new movie, Bridge of Spies.)

Witness is the memoir of Chambers, a spy for the Russians who did a 180-degree turn and became an outspoken opponent of Communism. (He led a truly fascinating life.) It's by far the best spy "novel" I've ever read (not that I've read many) but, best of all, it's true.

Actually, best of all, it's an interesting human nature story of how someone could be a True Believer in something and then evolve into a True Believer in its exact opposite. Remind you of anyone?

A book review...

...of Carly Simon's new memoir in today's Times gave me another excuse to post one of my favorite videos. What the heck, it's Thanksgiving -- indulge me.

Mack McCormick, "a folklorist...

...who spent a lifetime searching out forgotten or unrecorded blues singers all over Texas, helped revive the career of Lightning Hopkins and unearthed a trove of historical material on hundreds of blues singers, including Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lead Belly," died at age 85.

Blind Lemon Jefferson, you may or may not know, was the inspiration for the name of the 1960s band the Jefferson Airplane. From Wikipedia:

The origin of the group's name is disputed. "Jefferson airplane" is slang for a used paper match splint to hold a marijuana joint that is too short to hold without burning the fingers – an improvised roach clip. A popular conjecture suggests this was the origin of the band's name, but band member Jorma Kaukonen has denied this and stated that the name was invented by his friend Steve Talbot as a parody of blues names such as Blind Lemon Jefferson. A 2007 press release quoted Kaukonen as saying:
"I had this friend [Talbot] in Berkeley who came up with funny names for people," explains Kaukonen. "His name for me was Blind Thomas Jefferson Airplane (for blues pioneer Blind Lemon Jefferson). When the guys were looking for band names and nobody could come up with something, I remember saying, 'You want a silly band name? I got a silly band name for you!'"
Okay, okay, I'll admit it: this was just an excuse to listen to the Airplane. Can you blame me?

David Canary, who played...

...Candy Canaday on Bonanza from 1967 until its end in 1973 (we never missed it at our house!), died at age 77.

But did you know this?

He turned down the opportunity to play for the Denver Broncos, which drafted him in its first year as a team.

“I thought they were out of their minds,” he said in a 2004 interview for the Archive of American Television. “I was 172 pounds, I wasn’t very fast, and I couldn’t catch a pass. They called me stone fingers.”

I did a little cipherin'...

...and here's what I came up with:

4A: Phillips by six over Althoff, 33-27.
Over/under: 60.

5A: Nazareth by two over Lincoln-Way West, 28-26.
Over/under: 54.

6A: Montini by three over Crete-Monee, 28-25.
Over/under: 53.

7A: Libertyville by one over Glenbard West, 26-25.*
Over/under: 51.

8A: Loyola by ten over Marist, 34-24.
Over/under: 58.

You can probably figure out the crude methodology I used. If I'm anywhere close to being right I'll share it with you. If not, it never happened.

* I'm not at all comfortable with that Libertyville - Glenbard West pick. I've seen both teams play and my gut tells me to go with the Hilltoppers. The rest of them look okay, though. In fact, I'd take all the favorites given those point spreads.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

My brothers, who both...

...live out of town, want to know more about Marist, Loyola's opponent in the finals Saturday night.

So who are these Marist RedHawks, anyway? And just who do they think they are, challenging big, bad Loyola for the 8A crown? The Ramblers are in the midst of an historic, undefeated season; shouldn't Marist just stay home on Saturday night and watch the Notre Dame - Stanford game?

First of all, even though Marist, at 5-4, appears to have gotten into the playoffs by the skin of their teeth, the RedHawks (and that's how they spell it) were actually the third best at-large qualifier, with 48 Opponents' Wins and 19 Defeated Opponents' Wins. What does all that jargon mean? They played a tough schedule.

What's more, head coach Pat Dunne is no stranger to the postseason, having brought the RedHawks all the way to the 8A finals as recently as 2009.

But before we go any further, let's have a little context, shall we? (I love context; but this is the part I'm sure my brothers will skip right over.)

According to my research staff Wikipedia, Marist High School is "a coeducational, college preparatory Roman Catholic secondary school located in the Mount Greenwood neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois." (That's right near Beverly, for you out-of-staters.)

Despite being located on the Southwest Side of the city, Marist -- just a five minute drive down Pulaski from archrival Brother Rice -- was founded in 1963 and therefore too late to be included in the prestigious Chicago Catholic League. (A mixed marriage, in that part of the world, is when a kid from Marist weds a girl whose father went to Brother Rice.) Instead, Marist plays in the East Suburban Catholic Conference, which was founded in 1960. While the ESCC tends to get less respect than its older brother (funny how that works), the Trib had a nice article on it just yesterday. Other members of the conference include Joliet Catholic, Notre Dame, Nazareth, Benet and Marian Central. Those are all good programs!

Marist's band, by the way, "is somewhat unique in that it is not only an activity, but also an Honors academic class. The band functions as a marching band generally in the autumn (performing pregame, halftime, and postgame shows at home football games), and as a concert band for the remainder of the year (highlighted by Christmas and Spring Concerts). The general exceptions are their annual performances in the Chicago Columbus Day Parade, the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the Chicago St. Patrick's Day parades."

Even though I didn't get to see the football team this year, I did have the privilege of hearing the band as they marched right past my house on Columbus Day in Little Italy (above).

Okay, back to football. (Are you guys still reading?) Here's Marist's 2015 regular season schedule (with home team in CAPS):

MOUNT CARMEL 21, Marist 14 (Soldier Field)
MARIST 56, DuSable 0
MARIST 45, St. Viator 28
Marist 49, NOTRE DAME 42
BENET 29, Marist 25
MARIST 45, St. Patrick 21
MARIST 41, Marian Catholic 7
NAZARETH 62, Marist 45
JOLIET CATHOLIC 35, Marist 28

As you can see, they were nothing if not inconsistent. Quickly, Marist split their first two games to a couple of playoff-qualifiers, then beat a 1-8 team before being the only team to defeat Notre Dame in the regular season. They then fell to Benet, another playoff-caliber squad, before besting two losing teams at home, St. Patrick and Marian Catholic* (not to be confused with Marian Central). The RedHawks then limped (?) into the playoffs with two losses on the road, to Nazareth (who is in the 5A final) and Joliet Catholic.

Even shorter synopsis: Marist beat only two winning teams but lost to four really, really good ones.

Okay, now for their, yes, Cinderella run in the postseason. (I also love that Cinderella cliche.) A No. 23-seed, the RedHawks played higher seeds in their first three games and won all three by a grand total of nine points before outclassing No. 30 (out of only 32 schools) Waubonsie Valley (another Cinderella team) by two touchdowns.

Marist 17, NOTRE DAME 14 (again!)
MARIST 59, Barrington 56
Marist 38, OSWEGO 35
MARIST 31, Waubonsie Valley 16

Now, finally, no self-respecting BOWG profile would be complete without some meta-historical perspective, i. e., how Marist has fared against Loyola over the years. (My buddy Kevin thinks I'm nuts -- "Who cares what happened seven years ago when these guys were all in grade school?" -- but I think any good technical analyst would want to know.) And guess what? The two programs haven't faced each other on the gridiron in the last ten years, if ever. In all that time, as far as I can tell, Loyola has only played one team from the ESCC, in the second round of the playoffs two years ago.

2013: Loyola 24, NOTRE DAME 0

Do I detect a little Catholic League snobbery going on here? I wonder if Marist will have a chip on its shoulder Saturday night? Ya think?

In any event, I'll be live-tweeting my comments @BoringOldWhtGuy (beginning with the Phillips - Althoff contest on Friday night). Enjoy the games!

* Trivia: Loyola coach John Holecek is a 1990 graduate of the Chicago Heights school.

The Tom Toles...

...cartoon of the day.

When I read that Rex Reason, a...

..."dashing movie star" died at age 86, I thought: Okay, what was this guy's real name?

From his obit in the Times (my emphasis):

Oddly, for an actor with a name made for Hollywood, Universal insisted that he change it to Bart Roberts when he appeared in “Taza, Son of Cochise” and “Yankee Pasha” in 1954. But he demanded to use his real name again starting with “This Island Earth.”

It's my Name of the Day.

In case you live in a cave...

...or don't have access to the Internet, here are the matchups in the top five classes this weekend:

4A:
No. 1-seed Phillips (13-0) vs. No. 1 Belleville Althoff Catholic (13-0)

5A:
No. 7 Nazareth (11-2) vs. No. 7 Lincoln-Way West (11-2)

6A:
No. 1 Montini (13-0) vs. No. 6 Crete-Monee (11-2)

7A:
No. 1 Glenbard West (13-0) vs. No. 3 Libertyville (13-0)

8A:
No. 1 Loyola (13-0) vs. No. 23 Marist (9-4)

As you can see, six of the ten teams above are undefeated. Five of them, or half, were seeded No. 1 before the playoffs. Interestingly, two No. 7s will face off in Class 5A. And one team, Marist, made it all the way to the finals despite a No. 23 seed.

Now let's look at where the three main news services, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and MaxPreps, had these guys ranked before the season.

First the Trib. Mike Helfgot, like his counterpart at the Sun-Times, Beth Long, had Homewood-Flossmoor in the No. 1 spot. (I seem to recall someone saying that was the "kiss of death," but I can't remember who it was right now.) Of the ten teams above, here is how he ranked them in his preseason Top 20:

3. Glenbard West
7. Loyola
11. Phillips
12. Libertyville
14. Montini
On the verge: Nazareth

No Althoff, Lincoln-Way West, Crete-Monee or Marist. (To be fair, the Chicago papers don't rank teams from downstate.) So give Mr. Helfgot credit for picking six of the ten finalists. (That's 60 percent for you folks keeping score at home.)

Ms. Long at the Sun-Times, besides also picking H-F No. 1, had her Top 25 this way:

2. Glenbard West
3. Nazareth
7. Libertyville
13. Montini
14. Loyola
19. Phillips

She also missed Althoff, Lincoln-Way West, Crete-Monee and Marist. (You don't suppose they talk to each other, do you?)

Finally, MaxPreps had Loyola at No. 1 for the entire season (and H-F at No. 5 in their preseason rankings). The website also had:

6. Glenbard West
9. Nazareth
21. Libertyville
23. Phillips

So, while MaxPreps gets (Max) props for recognizing Loyola so soon, they also missed Althoff, Lincoln-Way West, Crete-Monee, Marist and Montini. (How do you overlook Montini?) And, in fairness, MaxPreps ranks teams from outside the Chicago area so they could have included Althoff.

Is it fair to look back at the preseason rankings at this point? Probably not -- I wouldn't want anyone to do that to me! -- but I just thought it would be interesting. I'll leave it to you to decide who did the best job. As for me, I think 60 percent (and that number would be higher if you took out Althoff) is pretty darn good!

Enjoy the games!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Obit of the Day...

...(heck, of the Week or even Month!), has to be that of Adele Mailer, Norman Mailer's second wife.

Adele Mailer, an artist and actress who made headlines in 1960 when her husband, the novelist Norman Mailer, stabbed and seriously wounded her at a drunken party in their apartment, died on Sunday in Manhattan.

The relationship, marked by heavy drinking and ancillary love affairs on both sides, was stormy.

Yep, a marriage in which you get stabbed by your husband would definitely qualify as "stormy."

“I decided I was going to be that beautiful temptress who ate men alive, flossed her teeth and spit out the bones, wearing an endless supply of costumes by Frederick’s of Hollywood,” she wrote in her memoir.

Wow. 

On the verge of announcing his improbable candidacy for mayor of New York, Mailer decided to celebrate with a party at their apartment on the Upper West Side.

With the liquor flowing, it all made for a volatile mix. Ginsberg and Podhoretz got into a fight and had to be separated. Drunk and belligerent, Mailer, wearing a ruffled matador shirt, repeatedly tangled with his guests. Around 4 a.m., he confronted his wife in an incoherent rage.

Ruffled matador shirt?

In her memoir, Mrs. Mailer recalled having taunted her husband, bluntly deriding his manhood, and making an ugly reference to his mistress. Some guests recalled that the point of no return came when she told her husband that he was not as good as Dostoyevsky.

Well that oughta do it!

Anything else?

“After he died,” she said in a telephone interview, “all she could say was, ‘He was a monster.’ ”

If you're like me, then...

...you get just a little impatient when they show preview after preview after preview at your local theater. Just show the damn movie already!

There's an article in the Times this morning, "Church of England Defends Ad Refused by Movie Theaters," that you can be absolutely sure will find its way into our presidential race. (Who do you think will be the first Republican to bring this up, Mike Huckabee? Ted Cruz? Donald Trump?)

From the piece (my emphasis):

Showing Christians in public and private prayer, an advertisement produced for Britain’s main church was designed to promote a moment of contemplation among moviegoers as they settled down to watch a pre-Christmas blockbuster.

Instead, it has provoked a ferocious debate over the role of religion in an increasingly secular Britain.

Based on the Lord’s Prayer, the 60-second commercial, which was to be shown before “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” when it opens next month, has been refused screen time in most of Britain’s movie theaters.

The decision to reject the advertisement has been criticized by the Church of England, which commissioned it. The church said it was “bewildered” by the move and claimed it could have a “chilling effect” on free speech.

But campaigners for a secular society argued that if the advertisement were shown, other religious groups might by law gain the right to have their material distributed in the same way.

Can't you just hear the Republicans going on and on about a "War on Christianity"? Oy.

But I think I have a solution: Show the ad. That's right, and if other religions want equal time, give it to them. I can just imagine: first the Lord's Prayer, then a Jewish blessing, then something from the Koran, then Hindu, then Buddhist, then Wiccan, then . . . Just show the damn movie already!

That'll teach 'em.

On Saturday someone tweeted...

...to me, No braving the elements today? To which I answered rather crabbily, No, lousy weather and lousy football. Can't really play under these conditions!

I had telegraphed my plans earlier in the week and felt vindicated when I turned on the first three games as they were nearing halftime. All three, Cary-Grove at Glenbard West, Prairie Ridge at Montini, and -- what was the third one again, St. Laurence at Nazareth? -- were all a snowy mess. You couldn't even see the field! The only thing dumber than actually playing under those conditions would have been sitting out in the wet snow and watching. That same guy who tweeted to me also tweeted, Where's the indoor football fields to host games like the ones today? And it's true: you can't pass under those conditions, can't really run effectively, etc. Games played in the snow like that are just not a good test of each team's talents.

Oh, well. Rant over. From what I understand, the later games, such as Loyola at Palatine, were played on clearer fields albeit in cold temperatures.

(The Loyola victory, 24-22, was much closer than I had expected, although it sounds like Palatine's last touchdown could just as easily have been called a safety on the Ramblers. No matter; Loyola won, as did most of the other higher seeds on Saturday. Maybe the weather wasn't that big of a factor after all.)

But I stayed in on Saturday and binge-watched "The Man in the High Castle" on Amazon Prime with my wife instead. (I give it about a "B.") And on Saturday night we went out to dinner to celebrate our anniversary. (I can't believe I didn't think of the potential conflicts when we got married 29 years ago!)

This week I'll be watching the finals on TV, beginning with Friday's 4A contest between two undefeated teams, Phillips and Althoff Catholic. (Should be a good one.)

Check back later in the week; maybe I'll have more to say.

I already referenced this piece...

...by Nate Silver yesterday, "Dear Media, Stop Freaking Out About Donald Trump’s Polls," but it's so good I just had to reread it today. It's a bit of any eye-opener for political junkies like me, but the moral of the story is this:

If past nomination races are any guide, the vast majority of eventual Republican voters haven’t made up their minds yet.

So, even though I click on the latest polls and betting markets every time I sit down to my computer, Silver writes that the stuff I'm positively hanging on should really look more like this:

CANDIDATE SUPPORT IN IOWA
Undecided 80%
Donald Trump 5
Ben Carson 4
Ted Cruz 3
Marco Rubio 2
Jeb Bush 1
Carly Fiorina 1
Mike Huckabee 1
Chris Christie 1

According to Silver, exit polls show that (my emphasis):

In Iowa, on average, only 35 percent of voters had come to a final decision before the final month of the campaign. And in New Hampshire, only 29 percent had.

So if the Iowa caucuses are held on February 1, then most of this is just idle chatter until after the holidays. Remember, Rick Santorum was only in single digits at this time four years ago and won Iowa. Maybe the race for the Republican nomination really is up for grabs.

I never thought I'd agree...

...with that notorious neocon John Bolton on anything, but he's spot-on today in his New York Times piece, "To Defeat ISIS, Create a Sunni State" (my emphasis):

Today’s reality is that Iraq and Syria as we have known them are gone. The Islamic State has carved out a new entity from the post-Ottoman Empire settlement, mobilizing Sunni opposition to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and the Iran-dominated government of Iraq. Also emerging, after years of effort, is a de facto independent Kurdistan.

If, in this context, defeating the Islamic State means restoring to power Mr. Assad in Syria and Iran’s puppets in Iraq, that outcome is neither feasible nor desirable. Rather than striving to recreate the post-World War I map, Washington should recognize the new geopolitics. The best alternative to the Islamic State in northeastern Syria and western Iraq is a new, independent Sunni state.

If it makes you feel any better, Joe Biden was saying things like this years ago.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Nate Silver offers...

...a little perspective on the Donald (my emphasis):

...he has 25 to 30 percent of the vote in polls among the roughly 25 percent of Americans who identify as Republican. (That’s something like 6 to 8 percent of the electorate overall, or about the same share of people who think the Apollo moon landings were faked.) 

Silver puts Trump's chances of winning the Republican nomination at "higher than zero but (considerably) less than 20 percent." But he thinks you probably shouldn’t "rely solely on the polls to make your case; it’s still too soon for that."

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Tom Toles cartoon of the day:

Now I know how Donald Trump...

...plans on getting the Mexican government to pay for his wall: to keep Mexicans from coming back!

From an article in the New York Times, "More Mexican Immigrants Leaving U.S. Than Entering, Report Finds" (my emphasis):

More immigrants from Mexico are leaving the United States than coming into the country, according to a report published Thursday by the Pew Research Center, a finding that indicates the end of the largest wave of immigration from a single country in American history.

And it has to make you wonder: who's really behind Trump's candidacy? Mexico?

In case you're wondering...

...why I haven't selected a Game of the Week for tomorrow, just look at the weather forecast. (It shouldn't be as bad as the picture above, but still.) Not only will it be uncomfortable in the stands, but the quality of play on the field will be sub-optimal.

That, and the fact that I saw the 8A championship last week and anything else would be anticlimactic.

Having said all that, let's have a very brief look at the semifinals that I just might sneak a peek at online.

8A:

Loyola (12-0) at Palatine (10-2)
Loyola has beaten the Pirates twice in the last ten years, 19-7 in 2012, and 14-0 in 2010. I expect a final score more in the neighborhood of Palatine's 49-19 loss to Fremd in Week Six. Ramblers gonna ramble.

Waubonsie Valley (8-4) at Marist (8-4)
Talk about Cinderella teams! The Warriors lost to three losing squads, including 2-7 Naperville North by a point in overtime. How on earth did these guys shut out Naperville Central last week? Marist's losses, on the other hand, were to four very solid winning teams. But, as they say, both won when they had to. And by Week Thirteen, who the heck knows who's going to show up? And what effect will the weather have? I haven't seen either team this year so, sorry for the cop-out, but this one's a pick 'em.

7A:

Cary Grove (11-1) at Glenbard West (12-0)
Probably the Game of the Week. I'm sure both teams are awesome, but I'm going to go with the one I saw shut out Mount Carmel two weeks ago. The Hilltoppers could very well be the second- or third-best team in the state. If they were playing Loyola I'd go -- weather be damned!

Libertyville (12-0) at Bradley-Bourbonnais (9-3)
Another game I'd like to see. I've never been down to Bradley and I've been meaning to see Riley Lees and company ever since the Wildcats ran all over Stevenson in Week Five. Libertyville has a date with Glenbard West in DeKalb next week.

6A:

Prairie Ridge (11-1) at Montini (12-0)
The Wolves have had a great run but no one's going to beat Montini.

Crete-Monee (10-2) at Hinsdale South (9-3)
I don't know anything about either of these teams (except that the Warriors beat two-time defending 5A champ Sacred Heart-Griffin last week), but wouldn't it be something if Crete-Monee met up again with Prairie Ridge in the finals? The Wolves bested the Warriors, 52-33, in Week Nine.

5A:

Nazareth (10-2) at St. Laurence (10-2)
First of all, where the heck did St. Laurence come from? Not only were the Vikings 5-6 last year, but these guys were 1-8 as recently as 2012! In fact, this is their first winning season since 2010 when they went 5-4 and didn't even qualify for the playoffs. Nazareth, meanwhile, despite graduating practically everyone from last year's undefeated Class 6A championship team (or so I thought), finds itself in the hunt again for the state title. Who wins this one? Gotta go with the guys who beat Benet, Marist and Joliet Catholic (almost twice!). Sometimes, in real life, that glass slipper just doesn't fit Cinderella after all.

Lincoln-Way West (10-2) at Champaign Central (11-1)
It took overtime for Lincoln-Way North to beat the Warriors in Week Nine; Central, meanwhile, only lost one game, by a touchdown, in Week Three. Pick 'em.

4A:

Marengo (12-0) at Phillips (12-0)
Here's another game I'd really, really like to see. Can the Wildcats finish what they started last year? And who, may I ask, is this undefeated Marengo team that was only 5-4 last year? Two years ago the Indians were only 1-8! (Pssst: that nickname is politically incorrect nowadays). What's more, Marengo went 0-9 in three consecutive years, from 2005-07. Hard not to root for these guys! But it's Phillips's year. I saw the Wildcats play four times last year but not once this season. Shame on me!

Breese Mater Dei (9-3) at Althoff Catholic (12-0)
Now I'm really getting out of my wheelhouse. But before I stop, all you have to know about this contest is that Althoff knocked off five-time defending 4A champion Rochester* last week. (Yep, you read that right: the Rockets had won the last five 4A titles in a row.) So you can't fade the Crusaders. (Besides, they already beat Mater Dei, 68-46, in Week Three.)

Enjoy the games!

* Bad week for the Leonards, Ken and his son Derek!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Market top!

That's what I'm saying about China after reading this quote from Liu Yiqian (above), a Chinese billionaire who made the winning bid at auction for a Modigliani portrait with an offer of $170.4 million:

“The message to the West is clear: We have bought their buildings, we have bought their companies, and now we are going to buy their art.”

Now where have I heard that sort of thing before?

Oh, yeah, Japan in the 1980s. From a review of Richard Katz's Japan: The System That Soured (my emphasis): 

To some in the U.S., particularly the so-called revisionists, Japan's supposed superiority loomed as a dark threat. In Asia, Japan was said to be positioning itself as the "brain" and "headquarters country" of the world's fastest-growing economic region. In the U.S., "Japan" -- never this or that Japanese company, but "Japan" -- was using its cheap money to buy up America's property, its companies, its movie studios, and even its government officials.  

Warnings were sounded that "the Japanese" were using their money to buy up America's best high-tech companies. If Japan weren't "contained," it would soon become unstoppable. "The fear was palpable," recalls a State Department official. He remembers examining one proposed Japanese buyout of an American firm when he served on the inter-agency Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CIFIUS). The committee was originally set up to prevent adversaries from surreptitiously investing in defense contractors. In the late 1980s, it turned its attention to Japanese investment in U.S. high-tech firms. In this particular case, the man from State suggested that the Japanese investment was innocuous and should not be barred. Suddenly, he heard the epithet "traitor" being hurled at him from across the table by his Commerce Department counterpart. 

So great was the illusion and the hysteria that even one of America's most highly regarded economists, Lawrence Summers, was taken in. In December of 1989, he wrote:
Today, Japan is the world's second largest economy. ... Furthermore, an Asian economic bloc with Japan at its apex ... is clearly in the making. This all raises the possibility that the majority of American people who now feel that JAPAN IS A GREATER THREAT TO THE U.S. THAN THE SOVIET UNION are right [emphasis added].
That comment stands as a monument to bad timing. Only a month later, Japan's roof caved in. It began with a crash of the stock market and real estate that wiped out hundreds of billions of dollars of wealth overnight. Soon, the collapse spread to the rest of the economy. The nation that had defined growth suddenly seemed incapable of growing. This was no ordinary recession. This was a downshifting of the whole economic trajectory compounded by a financial crisis. For three years, from the beginning of 1992 to the beginning of 1995, Japan barely grew at all. As of early 1998 -- eight years after the stock market crash -- the economy has yet to recover. 

Still not sure the Chinese "bubble" is about to burst? The article also said Mr. Liu would be using his American Express card to pay for the Modigliani.

P. F. Sloan, who wrote...

...“Eve of Destruction” in 1964 when he was just 19, died at age 70.

The song was a No. 1 hit for Barry McGuire (above) in 1965, but what I didn't know was that the U. S. Navy veteran:

...became a born-again Christian in 1971 and as a result renounced the song for many years, refusing to perform it. Though he is now known primarily as a singer of contemporary Christian songs, McGuire has resumed singing "Eve of Destruction" in recent years, often updating the lyrics to refer to such events as the Columbine High School massacre.

Mr. McGuire updated the lyrics when he performed at a reunion of folksingers, with the line about the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches replaced by the words "Columbine, Colorado," referring to the student massacre of 1999. On March 12, 2008, McGuire appeared on the Australian music comedy/game show "Spicks and Specks," performing an updated version of "Eve of Destruction," with new lines such as "You're old enough to kill/ you just started voting" and "...can live for ten years in space." The reference to "Red China" was also removed, and in its place were the more generic "Now think of all the hate, still living inside us/ its never too late, to let love guide us."

Also, I didn't know the original recording included an "ahhh" where McGuire couldn't read the words.

I know you're never, ever...

...supposed to make any comparisons with Nazi Germany -- ever -- but I'm going to make one today, okay?

On Monday I displayed my (true) peacenik side (I'm a child, after all, of the Vietnam Era); now I'm going to sound like a bit of a -- gasp! -- neocon. Ready?

But first a history lesson. Germany, you may recall, lost the First World War and was forced to abide by the harsh Treaty of Versailles which led to mass resentment among the populace and, ultimately, the guy with the funny mustache. Now, it would have been bad enough if the Nazis had just terrorized their own people, but they also became a threat to their European neighbors and eventually the whole world. (I would argue that the Nazis' scapegoating of the Jews was not unlike the Jim Crow laws following the defeat of the South in the Civil War, but that's the subject of another post.) In hindsight, Nazi Germany had to be dealt with, despite the best intentions of Gerald Ford, Kingman Brewster and the rest of the America Firsters. (If Hitler had had "the bomb" and the ability to deliver one over here, it would have been a lot different.) Most important, Germany was de-Nazified after the conflict and rejoined the Community of Nations. Now they -- and Japan -- are among our closest allies. (Funny how that works, isn't it?)

I can't help seeing something similar in ISIS. Iraq was defeated, militarily, and its government effectively handed over to the Shiite majority. The Sunnis, meanwhile, were badly treated by the new Baghdad regime and became, understandably, more and more resentful. (Sound familiar so far?) When the civil war broke out in neighboring Syria, the Sunnis there and in Iraq morphed into ISIS, a la the post-WWI Germans into Nazis. Again, it would be bad enough if ISIS were just mistreating its own people and beheading the occasional Western journalist unlucky enough to find himself in its midst, but like Nazi Germany, ISIS -- through terrorism -- has become a threat to the West and the United States.

So what are we to do? I'm afraid, just like in the 1940s, the U. S. may have to lead an allied force into ISIS-controlled territory and rid the region of this menace. And that means, yes, boots on the ground -- lots of 'em -- and an occupying force for decades to come. But it has to be a true coalition (not just the U. S. and Poland), with other Western nations, Middle Eastern countries, and even -- like in the 1940s -- a Russian presence. It has to be "The World against ISIS," nothing less. And, while I'm at it, we need to bring back the draft. That's easy for me to say (my kids are too old now to serve), but this volunteer army stuff is just not fair. (Do you really think we would have invaded Iraq in the first place if the children of the upper-middle class were at risk? I don't.) No, we all have to be invested. It can't be a half-assed effort like before; it has to be like World War II. If we can't agree on that then we shouldn't even bother.

(Remember when General Eric Shinseki, the Army Chief of Staff, testified that "something in the order of several hundred thousand soldiers" would probably be required to occupy Iraq? Let's bring back the draft and send a million -- and be prepared to leave them there a while. As someone noted on Twitter yesterday, occupying Germany for 70 years has worked pretty well so far.)

So there you have it: the dovish response and the hawkish one -- all in the space of three days. Am I conflicted? Yeah; sue me.

Megan McArdle hates Obamacare.

I mean, she really hates Obamacare. I mean, she really, really hates Obamacare. In fact, I don't think a week goes by without the Bloomberg View columnist penning at least one piece in which she's found another aspect of the Affordable Care Act to prove -- once and for all! -- that it's not perfect legislation.

That's why I was so gratified today to see her call the ACA "good insurance design" in her column, "Deductibles Are the Price You Pay for Obamacare." (Aha! I told you Obamacare was flawed!)

Let me say that again: the ACA is good insurance design. Ooh, that feels good.

I'll let you read the piece (shorter Ms. McArdle: ACA isn't perfect), but the message I received is what I've been saying all along: the Affordable Care Act was the best health care reform that could actually get passed.

And I still believe it. As far as I can tell, there are really only three choices on health care: 

(1) The previous "system," which (almost) everyone agrees was a disaster; 

(2) Obamacare, which only die-hard, cranky Republicans truly think is a disaster; or 

(3) A single-payer system like Medicare for All, which could never, ever -- ever -- get passed in the United States. Ever.

So, really, in the Real World (the one in which Ms. McArdle and I actually live), the best alternative would be (2) Obamacare: a private insurance-based system in which more people than ever are covered at a lower-than-expected cost. Like Ms. McArdle (she's gotta be somebody's little sister), you could forever point out its flaws (nyah, nyah) or you could suggest ways to tweak it around the margins to make it better.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news for Ms. McArdle and all the other Obamacare haters out there, but the ACA is here to stay. Why? Because it's the best of all the alternatives. (Even Alabama is considering an expansion of the state's Medicaid program -- Alabama!) I've seen the various Republican "replacement" plans. And you know what? They're all like Obamacare, except not as good. And that makes sense, doesn't it? If a better plan could have been passed, it would have. To refresh your memory, the ACA passed by the skin of its teeth. I'll say it one more time: It was the best reform that could actually get passed. 

Now deal with it.

Yesterday I focused on...

...Marco Rubio's improved chances, to 5/4 odds, for the Republican nomination on Paddy Power.

But what about the polls? And in both the Huffington Post aggregate of 212 polls from 32 pollsters (updated yesterday) and in the Real Clear Politics average of polls, Donald Trump is still leading the pack nationally, with 32 and 24.3 percent, respectively. (That may even be a new high on HufPo.)

So what gives? Well, the key to that last paragraph is the word "nationally." And national polls don't really mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things.

Let's look at polls from the first two states that will actually cast ballots, Iowa and New Hampshire. In Iowa, on HufPo (updated five days ago), Ben Carson is in first place:

Ben Carson, 27.5 percent
Donald Trump, 21.1
Ted Cruz, 10.5
Marco Rubio, 10.2
Jeb Bush, 5.8
On RCP, Trump holds a narrow lead over Carson:
Trump, 24 percent
Carson, 23.5
Rubio, 12.8
Cruz, 12.3
Bush, 6.3
In New Hampshire, Trump has a pretty comfortable lead on HufPo (updated three days ago):
Trump, 27.3 percent
Carson, 16.4
Rubio, 7.8
John Kasich, 7.3
Bush, 6.8
Carly Fiorina, 6.6
Cruz, 6.1
Chris Christie, 4.2 

And, finally, RCP:

Trump, 24.3 percent
Carson, 13
Rubio, 11.3
Cruz, 9
Kasich, 8.7
Bush, 7.3
Christie, 7
Fiorina, 5

What's the bottom line here? Well, first of all, it's still early; the Iowa caucuses aren't until February 1, ten weeks from next Monday. That's plenty of time for "vanity candidates" like Trump and Carson to self-destruct. But we've been saying that for several months now, haven't we? And, despite all sorts of outrageous statements from both, they continue not to self-destruct.

So either the polls are right or the betting markets are. While I would always go with the latter (because they've been better predictors in the past), more traditional candidates like Rubio have to turn their numbers on Paddy Power into actual votes. And if by some crazy stretch of the imagination -- let's say Carson wins Iowa and Trump wins New Hampshire -- the more traditional candidates don't actually win anything, then who cares what the betting markets say?

I guess the real bottom line here is that the smart money is betting that Carson and Trump will fade and the party establishment will rally around Rubio. We'll see.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Pop quiz: Name this leftist economist.

He believed that government had a crucial role to play in a well-functioning economy. It should finance and run good schools, as well as build roads, bridges and parks, he argued. It should tax alcohol, sugar and tobacco, all of which impose costs on society. It should regulate businesses to protect workers. And it should tax the rich — who suffer from “indolence and vanity” — to help the poor.

If you guessed Adam Smith, you're right.

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to Wilma Mankiller, a Native American feminist activist.

Ever wonder why conservatives...

...are dying -- just dying -- for the Fed to raise rates? Since I haven't heard a good reason yet (or any reason, really), allow me to be just a little cynical for a minute. Could it be that Republicans would like to slow down the economy in time for the election next year?

Take a look at the chart above. Remember when all Republicans could talk about was debt and deficits? Even Rand Paul, who recently said, "If you're not a deficit hawk, you're weakening the country," would add significant red ink to the budget. What gives?

Is it possible -- just possible -- that Republicans only like economic stimulus when they're in office?

While everyone was distracted by...

...the events in France (or high school football), there was some movement in the race for the Republican nomination on Paddy Power. Marco Rubio and Donald Trump are still in the lead, but Rubio's odds have improved. Also, Ted Cruz is now in third, with Jeb Bush and Ben Carson tied for fourth. After that it drops off considerably. Here are the current standings with their odds:

Marco Rubio 5/4
Donald Trump 7/2
Ted Cruz 6/1
Ben Carson 8/1
Jeb Bush 8/1

Remember, the Iowa caucuses are only eleven weeks away, on February 1.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The two Names of the Day...

...belong to Jessica Ditto, above, a spokeswoman for Matt Bevin, Kentucky's governor-elect; and Jay Highley*, owner of three Sky Zone Trampoline Parks.

* Hat tip: Kevin Gallagher.

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

“This’ll all be worth it when we get to eat at mediocre chain restaurants for free on Veterans Day.”

I don't find myself...

...disagreeing with Paul Krugman too often, but this morning the New York Times columnist writes:

...there are indeed some people determined to believe that Western imperialism is the root of all evil, and all would be well if we stopped meddling.

I wouldn't put it quite that way, but how about this? Maybe, like the Vietnamese back in the 1960s, the people of the Middle East just aren't buying what we're selling. Maybe they don't want Western culture. And, what's more, maybe they'd like it if we just went home.

Now, go ahead and click on something else or call me a "Blame America First" peacenik or whatever, but I have to ask: Hasn't the West been meddling in the Middle East for what, hundreds of years?

Ask yourself, why do Iran's leaders hate us so much? Could it be because we installed and backed the Shah for over twenty years? An American puppet who tortured his own people? Don't they have just a little right to be pissed off at us?

How about Egypt? Or Saudi Arabia? Or any other country whose authoritarian leaders we've supported?

And what about ISIS? We invaded their country, deposed and had their leader executed and then turned the government over to the Shias. Is it really a surprise that the Sunnis would form something like ISIS to fight back? And why wouldn't they be angry at the West?

I heard Donald Trump say on Thursday that he'd "bomb the shit out of ISIS." (I can only imagine how he feels after the Paris attacks.) And it's an understandable emotion. Who doesn't want revenge? But it also reminds me of that famous quote by Gen. Curtis LeMay in 1965 about the North Vietnamese, "Well bomb 'em back to the Stone Age!"

Well, we did. Or at least tried. And you know what? It didn't work. They still didn't want what we were selling. Can you believe it? All they wanted was for us to pack up our things and leave them alone to run their own affairs. (Who wouldn't?)

Now, it may be too late for us to withdraw completely from the Middle East. But let's not pretend that history somehow began on 9/11. It didn't. We have plenty to answer for. Our first step should be to at least acknowledge reality. Krugman and other liberals (like me) are always laughing at Republicans for living in a dreamworld (as well we should). But let's not make the same mistake.

I could tell you...

...that I thought Loyola would beat Homewood-Flossmoor by a touchdown on Saturday, but since I didn't write it down anywhere you might not believe me.

Or I could tell you that I envisioned three possible scenarios: Loyola in a rout, or a close win by either team, but not a blowout by H-F. Loyola's offense was just too potent for that last possibility.

But I don't think I wrote that one down anywhere either.

Fine. But here was my final thought on Twitter just minutes before the kickoff:

...expect a high-scoring affair -- take the Over.

Now, while I never found the Over/Under in any sports book in Las Vegas, I would have certainly thought it would have been more than 62. I was thinking the final score would be more in the neighborhood of 49-42. So I was wrong. But I wasn't the only one.

On Thursday my brother, whom I dragged to the Loyola - Providence game back in October, texted me:

I'm picking H-F in an upset over LA. Too much speed for that Rambler defense.

He was wrong too. Turns out that H-F's speed really wasn't as big a factor as he (or I) would have thought.

One of my business partners, who's never seen an Illinois high school football game but is a Denver Broncos season-ticket holder, told me on Friday she'd take the team with the better defense (Loyola).

But the Rambler defense wasn't that dominant either. In fact, the game really could have gone either way. And while I told someone on Saturday night that Loyola would beat H-F four out of five times, I think I'd revise that down to three out of five. Or even fifty-fifty. These two are that evenly matched.

What if, for example, H-F's long touchdown pass in the fourth quarter hadn't been called back for holding? According to Mike Helfgot's piece in the Tribune:

"The call was unexplainable, absolutely unexplainable," [H-F coach Craig] Buzea said. "We still don't know who the hold was on. They wouldn't tell us."

Or what if that Deante Harley-Hampton catch in the end zone a few plays later had been ruled a touchdown? From where I was sitting I couldn't tell, but I received a tweet on Saturday night with this picture:

Did he, or didn't he?

But we had a term for that kind of thing down at the Merc: wouldacouldashoulda.

The fact of the matter is that the refs are part of the game just like the weather and sometimes they make good calls and sometimes they make bad calls. And if you're good enough it shouldn't matter.

And the fact of the matter also is that the Vikings couldn't score from Loyola's three-yard line and the Ramblers then rambled 97 yards down the field for the go-ahead touchdown. It was the turning point. Helfgot is right when he says:

Loyola responded with the drive of the year, staying on the field for 19 plays and converting five third downs...

And how did H-F respond? They fell apart on the next set of downs and Loyola scored the winning touchdown with 1:22 left.

Now, you have to give credit to the Vikings for coming back and scoring that last TD and making it all come down to an onside kick with 30 seconds to go, but I really believe the better team won on Saturday. Like I've been saying all season, Loyola is probably the best high school football team I've ever seen.

I don't claim to be an expert (far from it!), but I would have to give the edge to the Wilmette squad's offensive and defensive lines. As Buzea noted in Michael O'Brien's article in the Sun-Times:

They [had] us outmanned by maybe 80 pounds on the line.

And it's true. Loyola's O line was probably the key to that 97-yard drive. And the Rambler D line seemed to disrupt H-F's offense all day as well. Even though Deante Harley-Hampton had four touchdowns, he and his twin brother were not as dominant as I had seen them against Sandburg in Week Eight or New Trier last week. H-F was forced to pass a little more than usual, and even though it was mostly effective, the Vikings impress me as a run-first offense that just couldn't do that on Saturday.

So Loyola won, 34-28, and travel to Palatine this Saturday. I think they'll win fairly easily and end up defeating either Waubonsie Valley or Marist for the championship. But the Ramblers already won the 8A title on Saturday by beating the other best team in the state. The final two games will be just a formality. 

(If the weather holds out I just might take in that Marengo - Phillips contest at Gately. More on that later.)

What's really crazy, though, is that the Tribune, Sun-Times and MaxPreps dropped H-F to Nos. 7, 4 and 5, respectively. I'd still rank the top three like this:

1. Loyola
2. Homewood-Flossmoor
3. Glenbard West

Now if only Loyola could play the Hilltoppers...

Nature vs. Nuture, Part Infinity.

A New York Times obit, "Jack Yufe, a Jew Whose Twin Was a Nazi, Dies at 82," brought me away from presidential politics and high school football and back to one of my favorite topics on Saturday. 

Separated shortly after birth and raised in different countries, both twins scratched their heads with their ring finger and thought it was funny to sneak up on strangers and sneeze loudly. (Who doesn't?)

Both men loved butter and spicy food. Both flushed the toilet before and after using it. Both read the endings of books first. Both wrapped tape around pens and pencils to get a better grip. Both spoke at precisely the same rate, despite their different languages.

The debate goes on.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

I just noticed that...

...Melissa Click is a professor in the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

I only watched the first half...

...of last night's Republican debate in Milwaukee (I recorded it and came home late), but I think I've figured something out. The eight candidates on that stage work for the .01 percent richest Americans, but are trying to either:

a) Make you think they represent you as well; or

b) Make you think what's good for the .01 percent is good for you, too.

I mean, come on, a 10 percent flat tax on billionaires? Really? They're still peddling that kind of thing in 2015? Who do you think that would benefit? You?

And these guys are against a minimum wage? As Chris Rock put it so well in the video above:

Do you know what it means when someone pays you minimum wage? "Hey, if I could pay you less I would, but it's against the law!" 

Ask yourself: If it weren't for minimum wage laws, how many of those jobs would be "unpaid internships"?

And as for all those "job-killing" regulations Republicans are always talking about repealing: Do you have any doubt that it's regulations that protect you from the worst impulses of other people? (I've worked in the business world my entire adult life. The only thing that holds people back from doing things they shouldn't are rules and regulations. Otherwise, it's just too competitive not to push the envelope of what is acceptable behavior.)

If you plan on voting for one of these candidates all I can say is: Congratulations! Because you must be a billionaire. Otherwise, it wouldn't make any sense for you to vote Republican.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

I'm not a Republican, but...

...if I were I'd be extremely -- extremely -- disappointed in the GOP debates so far.

Where do you even begin? How about this: Do Republicans really want Ben Carson and Donald Trump, admittedly the two leaders in all the national polls, front and center during all these debates? Two clowns who almost certainly won't be the party's nominee, and in any event couldn't possibly win a general election? I mean, what the heck is Reince Priebus thinking? (Or is he thinking?)

Here's how I would have organized the GOP debates. First of all, have as many as you want. The more the voters learn about the Republican candidates, the better.

Second, ignore the polls (which don't mean that much this early in the game anyway) and break up the GOP hopefuls into two equal groups (or eight and nine, as in the case of the original seventeen) and show them back-to-back. Then, pick at random who gets into each group, and place them on the stage at random. Decide the order of questioning, again -- you guessed it! -- at random, and give the candidates longer than thirty or even sixty seconds to answer each question. (Three minutes wouldn't be bad.) Oh, and allow them all an opening and closing statement so they get their talking points out of the way of the questions. You could also allow for some form of rebuttal, but it has to be more orderly than just everyone talking over each other at the same time.

As for "gotcha" questions, ask anything you want! These guys are running for Leader of the Free World. It's the hardest job there is and they'll end up with over 300 million bosses. In the words of Harry Truman, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!*

Finally, no studio audience. That makes it too tempting for the candidates to play to the crowd, eliciting laughter or applause. Let's try to focus on what the candidates are actually saying without the distraction of an audience.

So that's how I would have made the debates fairer and more informative. The current "system," like the Republican Party itself, is a train wreck.

* Which leads me to ask, Is Dr. Carson not long for this race? What a whiner! I guess spending all that time in the warm bath of Fox News spoiled him. The rest of the country wants to vet him a little. And don't give me that nonsense that he's being subjected to more scrutiny than President Obama. No one's asked for Dr. Carson's birth certificate just yet! Sheesh.

Bill Murray went to Loyola Academy...

...back in the 1960s. (I think he graduated in 1968.) Murray's father died when he was only a freshman, so according to the policy back then (is it still in effect?) the Wilmette native finished there tuition-free. (And it explains why his younger brothers went to New Trier.)

A few months ago I was visiting an old Jesuit priest who was in a rehab facility in Skokie after falling and breaking his pelvis. He happened to be a teacher at Loyola when Murray, shown above in the movie Caddyshack, was a student at the Academy.

He had a few good stories to tell about Murray, but first...

Undefeated Loyola plays once-beaten Homewood-Flossmoor this Saturday in my Game of the Week.

Heck, it's everyone's Game of the Week. (Who am I kidding? It's everyone's Game of the Year.)

The contest will be the first meeting between the two marquee programs in at least ten years, if ever.

Now, what could I possibly say about this matchup that no one else has said? I could post their 2015 schedules (with home team in CAPS), but you could just get that information from the IHSA website.

First the visiting Homewood-Flossmoor Vikings (10-1):

Homewood-Flossmoor 56, DOWNERS GROVE SOUTH 15
Homewood-Flossmoor 43, STEVENSON 29
Homewood-Flossmoor 67, STAGG 6
HOMEWOOD-FLOSSMOOR 60, Joliet Central 0
Homewood-Flossmoor 48, LOCKPORT 0
Homewood-Flossmoor 44, JOLIET WEST 6
HOMEWOOD-FLOSSMOOR 28, Lincoln-Way East 3
Homewood-Flossmoor 55, SANDBURG 21
Bolingbrook 22, HOMEWOOD-FLOSSMOOR 21
HOMEWOOD-FLOSSMOOR 55, O'Fallon 17
HOMEWOOD-FLOSSMOOR 55, New Trier 7

Then Loyola (11-0):

LOYOLA 35, Marquette (WI) 0
Loyola 49, MAINE SOUTH 8
LOYOLA 28, Brother Rice 0
Loyola 54, FENWICK 16
LOYOLA 35, St. Ignatius 7
Loyola 31, PROVIDENCE 7
LOYOLA 42, DePaul 0
Loyola 56, ST. RITA 14
LOYOLA 49, Mount Carmel 21
LOYOLA 31, West Aurora 0
LOYOLA 49, Stevenson 0

See any common opponents? (There's a big difference, of course, between Weeks Two and Eleven.)

The only thing I can say about the 2015 season's most anticipated showdown is what I've already said many times: this year's Loyola squad is quite possibly the best high school football team I've ever seen.

But H-F has tremendous speed and athleticism. When not handing off to the Harley-Hampton twins, Deante and Devonte, two of the quickest and most explosive running backs I've ever seen, quarterback Bryce Gray can hurt you with his strong and accurate arm. I can assure you the Ramblers haven't faced a team like the Vikings all year, if ever. While I still give the edge to Loyola, they will definitely have their hands full.

Since I can't add any more value to the discussion on the actual game, how about a few more stories from the Bill Murray era, Loyola fans?

First of all, as any self-respecting fan knows, Caddyshack was based on Murray's experiences at Indian Hill Club in Winnetka. But what you may not know is that like many other country clubs of the time, Indian Hill was "restricted." That might sound almost quaint today, but it means the club didn't admit blacks or Jews as members. In fact, until at least the 1950s, or even as late as the 1960s, Indian Hill had only one Catholic member, Monsignor Thomas Burke of Faith, Hope and Charity Parish.

By the time Murray showed up, however, the club had broken down and admitted two other families from Faith, Hope (which I won't name here). On almost their first day as members, while the fathers were playing golf, the two moms showed up at the pool with their many children in tow. Immediately, all ten or twelve (or however many) of their kids jumped into the water at practically the same time, splashing some of the older members sitting poolside reading that good Republican newspaper, the Chicago Tribune. As the priest told me, one grizzled old member leaned over to another and said, "I knew we shouldn't have let Catholics into this club!"

As for Murray himself, when he was a senior he tried out for the lead in the school play. Everyone agreed he was the most talented and qualified, but Murray was passed over for the role. The reason? Instead of learning his lines, the future improv comedian insisted on ad-libbing to the point of everyone's exasperation. (I didn't find out if Murray ended up in a supporting role.)

But my favorite Bill Murray story was about a time -- one of many, I assume -- when he had JUG with this priest. (JUG, for you heathen non-Catholics, is what they called detention at Loyola. It stands for Justice Under God.) Murray complained to him that Father Beall had given him "indefinite JUG plus one."

"What the heck does that mean, Father?" Murray asked him.

"It means, Mr. Murray, that at the end of the world, you still owe us one!"

Enjoy the game. I'll be live-tweeting it @BoringOldWhtGuy.