One Persons Tradition is Anothers Angst at ‘Again’

Having completed the necessary and brilliant football picks (Panthers giving 1.5 to Dallas? Absolutely!) over java and a large bacon-cheese-egg-with wasabi sauce sandwich, its almost time to head over to brother Steve’s for the deep frying of the turkey. While he hasn’t confirmed that the noon start– and strict schedule adherence isn’t usually a strong point with him– cooking time has been cigar and an adult beverage time tradition for us for the last couple years.

The real tradition behind this article is the Drumstick for Glenn though, and for a significant number of years, pretty much everyone has gone with idea I’m going to want to gnaw on one. Its not usually the massive hunk it seemed to be ‘back in the day’, but it doesn’t seem like there are a dozen other items crammed on the plate that made its presence look so overpowering either. Dinner seems simpler now, and while its understood Mike will mention his le sueur pea concoction (like the cheesy, not enamored of the potato chip topping vs. crispy fried onion) being a specialty more than once, its easily balanced by the fact Steve usually has a couple good bottles of wine available.

About the drumstick as Tradition/Dammit, Again. For the sake of accuracy, it was actually a Christmas turkey, and Steve’s family had left for a ski vacation out west, and my folks were here in Charlotte from Tampa. Having parked near the garage instead of on the street, significant date and I came through the house from downstairs vs. front door, arriving in the kitchen just as a semi-shocking conversation between Mom and Dad came to a point.

Mom: Just cut the meat off and put it on the plate.
Dad: That’s Glenn’s drumstick that he always likes to chew on.
Mom: Ohh, I always *hated* that he did that!

That we’d arrived just in the nick of time to save Dad from having to stymie her willingness to hack the meat off herself was one thing; to hear she’d HATED– apparently for most of 45 years!– my chewing on the dark, juicy drumstick was more than just a little bit of an oh my! moment. If there’d been a tendency to eat like a pirate early on, it has still been something to kind of count on as mine. Dad having my nephew Ian deliver a small drumstick to me (“Grandpa said you’d really like to chew on this”) when Thanksgiving was being celebrated at a cousins house, is still something that comes as a really good emotional memory. Those two specific times when a certain ‘streak’ was imperiled and Dad came through, that’s deep stuff, and clearly what Tradition is about.

Long time family friend Mrs. Kline– who alternated major holiday dinners with Mom for years once they determined there was no sense making seperate ones when we’d wind up together later in the day– *guaranteed* her mashed potatoes wouldn’t be stiff (it was a fact in the past) when we got together last year, which shows how significant some holiday memories are imbedded. It was only mentioned once, but we can all smile about it (now).

It’s doubtful Mom will say anything one way or the other today, and hopefully Steve leaves one drumstick to the side, and nobody grabs it before me. Tomorrow might begin another tradition when I help prepare a holiday dinner at the Men’s Shelter, and at some point there will probably be a dinner with lasagna instead of turkey, but Tradition, lets go with that at least one more time.

Best wishes to all, including those unfortunate SOBs who have to work in retail starting at 6pm.

Glenn S.

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Panthers 7-0 After Rainy Monday Night Almost Slipped Away

Two essential Truths about unbeaten teams are that not everything is going to work perfectly, so sometimes you’re going to have to buckle it on *strong* and WIN the game, dammit! Secondly, clutch field goal kicking is going to figure in there significantly.

For the vast majority of Monday nights 29-26 victory, in front of an above-average crowd that endured steady and sometimes heavy rain (bless their hearts), the vaunted Panther defense made Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck look exceptionally human. The Colts had only 40 yards passing after three quarters, and he leads the league with 12 INTs after Carolina picked three, including the gamer in overtime. After Cam Newton’s TD pass (16-of-35, 248 yds., 2nd TD- Philly Brown) to Greg Olsen, the 23-6 lead looked like a kickin’, even though Gano missed the PAT.

Luck’s final yardage was 231, but overtime belonged to the kickers. The Colts Adam Viniteri, showed his chops with another clutch kick in his career-long string, thumping a 50-yarder, then Gano answered with one. After Kuechly, who dropped an interception possibility at the end of regulation, grabbed one in OT– Ted Ginn also dropped a possible TD in admittedly lousy conditions– Gano took care of business with a strong 52-yarder.

If the game looked kind of ‘Done Deal’ after the Olsen TD, its going to help Charlotte (and fans) in the future, because it became a game where that ‘unbeaten’ could have come off their resume. When they beat Seattle two weeks ago, that certainly charged expectations up, Seattle being a constant pain over the last couple meetings. Of COURSE there’s a whooooole lot of ‘Can they beat Green Bay/Aaron Rodgers?’ now, and thats a legitimate question. Should it make any difference that Rodgers had an ugly night vs. Denver and might have a chip on his shoulder when he gets to Bank of America stadium? In a word,’No’, because stopping his usual surgery on offense will test whats been the teams strength–its D– and you *HAVE* to nullify his big plays to win in all cases.

Moral victories don’t count, and no denying Green Bay is a premier team. It will be a massive game, and there’s every reason for a full stadium till the end, which is, or should be, a standard for this level of event. The Panthers haven’t been ‘Lucky’ yet in getting to 7-0— even without Charles Johnson (knee) and Kuechly (out three games, concussion protocols), the defense has been flexible with personnel, AJ Kline and Shaq Thompson stepped up, and opportunistic– two of ace cornerback Josh Norman’s 4 picks were returned for TDs. While TV analyst John Gruden continued to sound pessimistic about having Newton run as frequently as he has this year, his 41 looked good, and his 3rd down conversion rate has helped Carolina’s running game all season.
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The Hornets have picked up their game with a 2nd win, after stumbling out of the starting game 0-3. Last night they rode (Less Big?) Al Jefferson’s 15-18 shooting for 31 points to bury the Dallas Mavs 108-94. Much has been made of Al being 25 pounds lighter this season, but it was an excellent team scoring effort, which was essentially the Hornets ‘must fix’ problem from last year. Marvin Williams-17, Kemba Walker-14, Cody Zeller-11– and with ALL due respect for Jeremy Lamb’s 16 off the bench— Coach Caldwell can continue blending process on where points come from.

Frank Kaminsky hasn’t been overwhelming yet, and losing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (MKG) to a shoulder injury at end of pre-season are adjustments to continue. Caldwell, who is dealing with many new and clearly talented parts very successfully, feels getting roles set is a priority, even after a 7-1 preseason that included a pair of victories in China.