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Notre Dame Football: Bye Week Q&A with Pat Rick of One Foot Down

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Pat answers all the big questions during the bye week, such as which week he would say “bye” to, and what would happen if Hamm’s disappeared forever.

NCAA Football: Southern California at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Well folks, as you might have figured out by now, it’s the bye week for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team, and thus despite my various inquiries sent to the SB Nation site for BYE, I was unable to secure an interview with anyone on their staff.

So, I instead reached out to Facebook and Twitter, my ever-reliable sources for story ideas, putting myself on the hot seat as the interviewee and allowing you all to choose the questions I would answer this week.

Per usual, you gave me a fantastic amount of hard-hitting, important questions to answer about Notre Dame football and also about Hamm’s, birthdays, dads, slogans, weeks of the year, and much more.

Below are my answers to all the questions I received, because no question is below me, the most inane writer of all-time.

***

If you could say “bye” to one week of the year, which week would it be and why? via Isaac Harrington on Twitter

Pat Rick: This is a very tough question. I can’t say there are too many specific weeks that annually are horrible and I’d like to say “bye” to during the year, but I will quickly run through the leading candidates, in my opinion, make my pick, and then invite you all in the comments to give better answers.

My first thought here was that any week in January or February is pretty much useless, and shortening that two-month stretch of gray-skied, frigidly-cold, post-Christmas gloom would be ideal, as someone who lives in Chicago.

Another potentially strong candidate would be whatever week includes Tax Filing Day, 4/15, because doing your taxes stinks and it’d be great to eliminate that week from our yearly collection of experiences. Unfortunately, I don’t think eliminating that week would eliminate the government making us file our taxes, just shift the annoyance to another week of the year. So, I’m thinking this won’t be my pick.

Besides the above, my only other ideas were to say “smell ya later” to a week before my birthday or before Christmas or something like that, if only to make those fantastic days get here one week sooner. I guess, especially in Christmas’s sake, you could literally remove just about any week and accomplish that, though, so it seems a little dumb.

So, looking at all this, I am going to go with a week in January or February as the one I want to cut out of our lives. I would pick the week with New Year’s as a part of it, because New Year’s is a horrible, pointlessly expensive/stressful holiday to try and celebrate, but I don’t want to remove any days off of work from the year. So, let’s pick the final week of January, making the first two months of the year the shortest two, and getting us to March ASAP to get us out of the Seasonal Affective Disorder funk.

I desperately need a 5000-word dissection of the Billy Joel concert mannequin and I need it last Thursday. via Barrett Kroll on Twitter

Pat Rick: You and me both, Barrett. Let’s break this whole thing down.

Last week, Notre Dame announced that Billy Joel would be the next big concert hosted in Notre Dame Stadium, a 2020 show to follow up a huge 2019 Garth Brooks performance.

To announce this, Notre Dame’s marketing department decided the best move was to have the Leprechaun unveil a mannequin with a “Joel” jersey. Here is the picture of that mannequin right after the Leprechaun unveiled it.

There are plenty of things that stand out immediately, but to keep some semblance of order with my analysis here, I’m going to go from unseeing head to immobile feet with my breakdown.

The first thing I notice about the head, aside from the fact that they put a ND football helmet on a mannequin (can’t imagine this guy is gonna see playing time, no need to wear that thing), is that the helmet says “Vicis” on the back of it.

I understand that’s probably a manufacturer of football helmets (I refuse to do the 2 seconds of research to confirm), but I want to dive a bit deeper into this, because I’m not so sure we should disregard this as just the name of a company. “Vicis” is Latin for “time,” which seems like too important of a concept to dismiss offhand. What is this mannequin, decked out in half-football, half-business-casual attire, trying to tell us?

Time is fleeting, so go see Billy Joel in concert?

It’s finally time for Billy Joel to take the football world by storm?

The time has come for football players to trade in their football pants for pairs of sensible khakis?

It’s difficult to say for sure, but there’s a clear connection between time and Billy Joel, so this simply cannot be a coincidence. Look at all of the songs Billy Joel titled to include the word “time”:

- The Longest Time (1983)

- This Is The Time (1986)

- Get It Right the First Time (1977)

- She’s Right On Time (1982)

- Sometimes a Fantasy (1980)

What’s with Joel’s fascination with time? Is it related to time travel? And how does Notre Dame factor in? Is he trying to go back in time and stop Notre Dame from hiring Ty Willingham?

Just some food for thought, folks.

Anyway, let’s move down the mannequin. Also, let’s name the mannequin, because this seems so impersonal. Clearly his last name is Joel, based on the jersey, so we just need to assign him a fitting name. Manny or Quinn seem appropriate. I’m gonna go with Manny.

So Manny is wearing a football helmet and a football jersey, but there are no shoulder pads in sight. Clearly, Manny is either recovering from an injury and not yet cleared for full contact, or perhaps it’s a walkthrough, no-contact day at practice. Either way, Manny Joel ain’t getting hit today.

Moving right along, Manny Joel’s jersey is number 20, which is likely meant to signify that the Billy Joel concert is taking place in 2020. But with that in mind, we also need to consider the numbering and positions on the current roster and how Manny fits in.

Shaun Crawford is already 20, and thus Manny certainly can’t be a defensive player – can’t risk having the same number on two guys on the same side of the ball. So, we can conclude that Manny Joel is an offensive (if he plays that song about Catholic girls waiting too long to have sex again, for sure!!!) or special teams player. But where would he play (knowing full well that he’s the kind of guy who will pose in any position you ask him to)?

Joel is decently tall but pretty thin, leading us to eliminate any lineman or tight end position. He could be a punter or a kicker, but it seems unlikely Brian Kelly would need another kicking specialist with Jonathan Doerer, Jay Bramblett, and Harrison Leonard already on the team. Furthermore, he seems a bit too thin and tall to be an effective running back. So, we are left with wide receiver and quarterback as options.

Between the two, I like to think Manny Joel would not have chosen the jersey number of 20 as a quarterback, as that is a horrible quarterback number (looking at you, Shea Patterson at Ole Miss). So, I’ve decided Manny Joel is a thin, tall receiver who probably has questionable hands and iffy speed, but who can be relied upon to stand in and be a tackling dummy in practice.

Now that we know a bit more about the man(nequin) helping announce the concert, we get to the best, but most difficult to unpack, part of his outfit.

HE’S WEARING KHAKI PANTS.

Dat ass

Why did they do this? Why did Notre Dame say, “Hey, what if we have a football player mannequin announce the concert, but instead of being dressed completely like a football player, what if his lower half had more of a “Jake from State Farm attending a Catholic high school wearing his uniform pants from Campus Outfitters” kind of vibe? Did someone tell them that fan feedback points to the need for a tuxedo t-shirt-esque unveiling of this concert news, with business on the bottom and the football party on top?

Furthermore, any and all theories we had about Manny Joel going through walkthroughs at practice seem odd now. Why would he wear khaki pants? Why wouldn’t he wear athletic shorts or sweatpants or something? Is this mannequin actually Cam, a coworker and kickball teammate of mine who showed up precisely once to kickball this summer, wearing what he wore to work (jeans and Sperrys, I think), kicked a grand slam in said work clothes, and never showed up to a game again?

It’s like they wanted the vibe of this mannequin to be that his upper body was going to Loftus but his lower body was going to church. That is, until you see that they gave him gray sneakers to wear with his khakis, which seems like a fashion no-no, but then again I am not in the least bit an authority on fashion.

So now we have Manny Joel, rail-thin wide receiver who cannot take contact, but wants us to consider the fleeting, cyclical nature of time and also is ready for a day at the office, but also prepared to take off running at a moment’s notice.

Just as Billy Joel wanted.

Billy Joel Performs In Orlando Photo by Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Back to the khakis, the more I whisper “enhance” to myself as I zoom in on Manny Joel’s ass, I notice other little things about them that I do not like. Why is there an ND monogram on just one buttcheek of the pants, but not both? That’s probably how most people would design having a monogram on the seat of some khaki pants – because having one on each cheek would somehow look worse, probably – but why is there an ND monogram there at all? Who is that for? Do we want Manny Joel to literally sit on the university logo every time he is forced into a sitting pose by the workers at Kohl’s? I am irrationally upset by this.

Moving off of Manny’s body for a second to give him a break from my creepy, meticulous analysis of his body and clothing, let’s quickly look at the face of Samuel Jackson, the ND Leprechaun forced to take part in this unveiling.

????????

He’s clearly having fun with it because he’s awesome, but I love both his posture and the expression on his face here. With his arms behind his back and turned to look at whoever was orchestrating this whole affair, he gives a bewildered, amused expression that seems to say “is this dingus wearing a football helmet and khaki pants???” I applaud him for continuing to uphold his role as Leprechaun and present this unveiled Jim Harbaugh wet dream of a player (and to face the camera, unlike the mannequin, who is rudely turned away from the camera), but I also feel for him here. This is the part of his job that has to be strange to execute – pulling a sheet off a mannequin to reveal a football jersey/ND-branded chinos outfit that announces a Billy Joel concert. Wild stuff.

Barrett, I regret to inform you that this analysis of the mannequin is, unfortunately, only 1,441 words long. I can work on getting you the other 3,559 words at a later date, but for now I really need to move on and finish this article. Please accept my sincerest apologies, and I will work with the Notre Dame athletic department to send you a free jersey and some khakis as compensation.

If one Notre Dame coach could be your dad, who would it be? Grandpa, as well? via Johnny Opat on Twitter

Pat Rick: First, let me quickly separate the coaches into those who qualify as decent candidates to be my dad or grandfather, and those who do not.

Do Not Qualify:

  • Brian Kelly (I don’t respond positively to that much yelling)
  • Chip Long (I do not want the man who asked Chris Finke to pick up a first down on an end-around to make decisions in how to raise me)
  • Brian Polian (this WOULD mean Bill Polian is my grandfather, but no thank you)
  • Todd Lyght (just seems kinda boring, which is a no-no for a good grandpa)
  • Lance Taylor (will almost certainly be moved to the Qualify column once all these big-time RB recruits he’s grabbing start arriving on campus)
  • Tommy Rees (no one who goes by Tommy should be a father)

Qualify:

  • Tom Rees (now THAT is a mature, paternal figure)
  • Clark Lea (he could develop me into a star son/grandson)
  • Mike Elston (because him being my dad/grandpa means Beth Elston is my mom/grandma, and I get cookies)
  • Terry Joseph (the man who gets Alohi Gilman, Jalen Elliott, and Kyle Hamilton ready to dominate every week? Yeah, I could call him dad/grandpa, no problem)
  • Del Alexander (just seems like he’d be good at either — especially grandpa)

My choice is definitely going to be Clark Lea for dad, though. He just is beloved by his players and is super smart and great at developing talent. He can raise even a little idiot like me into a functioning adult.

For grandpa, I’m going with Elston, because that means my grandma is constantly making me sacks of cookies and that’s fantastic.

How drunk am I going to be at kickoff of Michigan-ND? via Jason Popiel on Twitter

Pat Rick: On a scale of 1 to “The Level of Drunk We Were at TBOX 2016,” I am going to say you will be “Pat after Al and Danielle’s Wedding in 2015” level drunk, which is to say you will lose your phone and fail to unlock your inner apartment door as you leave your keys hanging in the lock, and then proceed to get locked out of the external door and have to end up sleeping on a friend’s back porch until they finally wake up from all the knocking you do on their windows (totally hypothetical thing that definitely never happened to me after Al and Danielle’s wedding).

Why is Michigan favored by 7.5, what am I missing? via Blake on Twitter

Pat Rick: I’m not absolutely certain on this, as I don’t do a great job of following Vegas lines or understanding the logic with which they are set, but I’m fairly certain Michigan -7.5 is the preseason line and will not be the actual betting line come next week.

However, if for some reason it is the legitimate line for next weekend’s game, I have to assume that the folks setting that line clearly have inside knowledge of something that will keep a key ND player from playing in the game. My guess — it’s similar to Like Mike, and someone has schemed to steal Chase Claypool’s or Cole Kmet’s cleats, locked them up, and has thus taken away their elite football powers.

That’s the only way it makes sense, in my humble opinion.

What’s the point spread on this year’s Notre Dame team vs. the ‘72 Miami Dolphins? Who wins? via Johnny Opat on Twitter

Pat Rick: Wow, I really wasn’t expecting this many questions about point spreads and do not know the right way to actually go about estimating this line, but if you’re just looking for me to say who should be favored to win and by how much, I’m going to go with 2019 Notre Dame by about 14 points.

The 1972 Dolphins are a professional team so I’m willing to give them some credit based on their experience, expertise, etc., but they also played high-level football nearly 50 years ago, and the game has changed a lot since then, both physically and strategically.

I looked up the sizes of the ‘72 Dolphins offensive and defensive lines, for example, and pulled the below info on their starters:

1972 Dolphins Offensive Line

T Doug Crusan (6’5”, 250 lbs)

G Bob Kuechenberg (6’2” 253 lbs)

C Jim Langer (6’2”, 250 lbs)

G Larry Little (6’1”, 265 lbs)

T Norm Evans (6’5”, 250 lbs)

1972 Dolphins Defensive Line

DE Vern Den Herder (6’6”, 250 lbs)

DT Bob Heinz (6’6”, 265 lbs)

DT Manny Fernandez (6’2”, 250 lbs)

DE Bill Stanfill (6’5”, 250 lbs)

No offense to this crew, who were probably monsters in their time, but they essentially mirror the size of the 2019 Naval Academy linemen:

2019 Navy Offensive Line

LT Kendel Wright (6’4”, 272 lbs)

LG David Forney (6’3”, 305 lbs)

C Ford Higgins (6’2”, 260 lbs)

RG Peter Nestrowitz (6’3”, 280 lbs)

RT Billy Honaker (6’3”, 276 lbs)

2019 Navy Defensive Line

DE Jackson Perkins (6’6”, 257 lbs)

DT Jackson Pittman (6’3”, 300 lbs)

DT Marcus Edwards (6’4”, 295 lbs)

RAIDER Nizaire Cromartie (6’2”, 243 lbs)

So, when Notre Dame rolls out onto the field with their behemoth offensive linemen and defensive tackles, along with the speed and strength of Julian Okwara and Khalid Kareem, I can’t help but think there would be a lot of domination in favor of the Irish in the trenches:

2019 Notre Dame Offensive Line

Liam Eichenberg: 6’6”, 305 lbs

Aaron Banks: 6’5”, 325 lbs

Jarrett Patterson: 6’4”, 300 lbs

Tommy Kraemer: 6’5”, 319 lbs

Robert Hainsey: 6’4”, 295 lbs

2019 Notre Dame Defensive Line

Julian Okwara: 6’4”, 248 lbs

Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa: 6’2”, 285 lbs

Kurt Hinish: 6’1”, 295 lbs

Khalid Kareem: 6’4”, 265 lbs

Along with the physical advantages (among which I haven’t even mentioned shrimpy, slow ‘72 Dolphins DBs and LBs trying to match up with Chase Claypool, Cole Kmet, Braden Lenzy, etc.), we’re talking about 47 years of evolution of strategy in this sport, and I think ND, no matter how you feel about their playcalling against their peers, would simply demolish the Dolphins. Tony Jones Jr. runs for 200 on these guys, Claypool and Kmet catch anything they want, and Ian Book faces next to no pressure.

14 points might be generous, but I’ll give the only perfect team in professional football history the benefit of the doubt that they could hang around with a college team, albeit one from 47 years later.

Some studies say that getting rid of helmets would reduce head injuries in football (I tend to agree with this). Regardless of if you agree, if they banned helmets for safety reasons, should ND force their players to spraypaint their heads gold so they’re still “golden domers”? via SCARY Joe Gadient on Twitter

Pat Rick: My answer to this is 100%, absolutely, without a doubt, Notre Dame should force their players to spraypaint their heads gold if they had to get rid of helmets. Can you imagine some of these players’ hair if they combined their hair styles with real flecks of gold???

As an amateur amateur Photoshop artist (i.e. someone who likes to “Photoshop” pictures in the Apple version of Powerpoint), here are some renderings to illustrate my point:

If Notre Dame and all of their opponents were different parts of the solar system (planets, asteroids, UFOs, the sun, etc.), what would they be? Bonus points for specific players too. via Mick Hammock on Facebook

Pat Rick: This question was much more difficult to answer than I first expected, but below is how I see ND and their opponents within the context of our solar system.

  • ND — the sun, obviously, because everything revolves around it
  • Louisville — Pluto, because it was once a planet that contended with the big guys but has since fallen and is now considered lesser (but maybe it’s on its way back up?)
  • New Mexico, Duke, and BC — I don’t know, space rocks or space dust or something stupid and insignificant in the grand scheme of things
  • Georgia — Jupiter, because they are big and red and a massive force in the solar system that is the ND schedule
  • Virginia — Mars, because there may be signs of life but also it might be nothing except 9 points scored against Miami
  • Bowling Green — Aliens, because you’d have to be aliens to hire BVG to lead your defense after his stops at ND and Louisville
  • USC — An asteroid, because they burn out eventually and aren’t powerful enough to be considered a planet or anything, but when they head toward you on the schedule, it’s gonna typically get a little dangerous
  • Michigan — Uranus, no explanation necessary
  • VaTech — Comet, because they’re only a serious contender once every 70 years or so
  • Navy — A moon, because it’s not big enough size-wise to be a competitive planet, but damnit if it isn’t always hanging around the big guys and affecting how the planets act
  • Stanford — A dying star, because they were recently burning bright but now appear to be on their way out
  • Finally, Chase Claypool is The Earth, because he gives me life

What does it say about Brian Kelly’s lack of creativity that he never signed Tacko Fall as a kick blocking specialist? via Luke Zettler on Twitter

Pat Rick: Honestly, this says EVERYTHING about Brian Kelly’s lack of creativity. I am 100% certain that Tacko Fall would have broken every blocked kick record available.

Also, I’m going to use this question to springboard into a question I just thought of — if I had to put together a team of professional basketball players to block kicks with, which 11 players from NBA history would I select? Here are my choices:

  • Tacko Fall — of course
  • Manute Bol
  • Dikembe Mutombo
  • Yao Ming
  • Shaquille O’Neal
  • LeBron James
  • Russell Westbrook
  • Spud Webb
  • Vince Carter
  • Shawn Kemp
  • Julius Erving
  • Dominique Wilkins

I dare you to put together a better basketball-player-field-goal-blocking unit than that, folks.

Any progress on the “get ND a dog mascot again” campaign? via SCARY Joe Gadient on Twitter

Pat Rick: Nope.

However, I WOULD like to announce that there is a tiny bit of progress on the “get Pat a dog” campaign, as I plan to adopt a pup from a local shelter/rescue organization once my travel schedule settles down (my last wedding of the year is Saturday).

For the players in the attached picture (she attached a picture of the offensive starters) — please assign a known slogan for each that best emulates their style of play and personality. via Gabriella Meagher on Facebook

Pat Rick: This was a super time-consuming one, but also very fun to do. Here’s what I came up with, and I’ve love to see anyone else’s ideas in the comments.

  • LT Liam Eichenberg - “Think big” - IMAX, because Liam is very large
  • LG Aaron Banks - “Where’s the beef? - Wendy’s, because Aaron is even larger
  • C Jarrett Patterson - “We move the world” - DHL, because his job is to move people (both physically as a blocker, but also as the leader of the line, directing the others on who to pick up)
  • RG Tommy Kraemer - “Stronger than dirt” - Ajax, because he is quite strong
  • RT Robert Hainsey - “Quality never goes out of style” - Levi’s, he’s super reliable and provides that throwback right tackle quality play
  • TE Cole Kmet - “Finger lickin’ good” - KFC, because this one just felt right
  • QB Ian Book - “The ultimate driving machine” - BMW, he is the machine that drives the offense
  • RB Tony Jones Jr. - “Nothing runs like a Deere” - John Deere, because Tony is the best running back on the team right now, and also is sort of built like a runaway tractor with his power and lack of top-end speed
  • WR Chris Finke - “Save money, live better” - Walmart, because Notre Dame saved some money by not paying for a scholarship for him for a couple years
  • WR Michael Young - “For those who think young” - Pepsi (1961), because...his last name
  • WR Chase Claypool - “I am Canadian” - Molson Canadian, because he is Canadian

The “Knute Rockne era (1918-1930)” section of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football Wikipedia page is “too long” according to the site. They recommend “splitting it into new pages, adding subheadings, or condensing it.” How would you resolve this issue? via Harrison Hensley on Facebook

Pat Rick: I’d add multiple excessive paragraphs about Knute Rockne’s extended family, favorite foods, etc. Wikipedia can’t tell us how big the Knute Rockne era should be — it was HUGE for the history of Notre Dame, college football, and America as a whole. Let’s make it bigger, folks.

Is “nobody else at the office watched sports and I felt socially isolated” a reasonable answer to the “why did you leave your previous job?” interview question? via SCARY Joe Gadient on Twitter

Pat Rick: Where in the world did you work that no one there watched any sports at all?

I’d say that alone is a bad answer to give to that question, but talking about how it wasn’t a cultural fit and using that as one of a few examples would be quite effective in explaining why you left.

Which Notre Dame player is most likely to walk around in his underwear regardless of who is around? via Alex Toombs in-person, as someone who was extremely shameless about doing so in college and wants to know who his spirit animal is.

Pat Rick: Since the obvious runaway winner left the team after last year (Tyler Newsome), I’ve gotta go with Chris Finke. The dude just seems like someone who would do that.

Other possibilities include Alohi Gilman, Kurt Hinish, Khalid Kareem, and Chase Claypool.

What 1990s Disney+ cartoon archive are you most excited for? Hint: there *is* a right answer. via Moons on Twitter

Pat Rick: For me, the biggest excitement here is seeing all the old movies that sound ridiculous and I’ve never heard of, so let’s start by looking at some of those, because there are some incredible ones:

Why is the dragon reluctant? Reluctant about what??

Ah yes, river pirates — a classic foe.

It was a different time, this title was fine.

I do not like that he is “absent-minded” and yet allowed to drive a flying car and risk the life of that very good dog.

This looks like it’s just 80 minutes of this family petting that dog. I’m in.

This feels like a precursor of Andre, but a little more “way-out.”

Is this what Homeward Bound is based on????????

Those damn Calloways!!! *clenches and shakes fist at the sky*

Rude as hell, also there are like 4 dachsunds in this movie poster, which one is the ugly one? I disagree, no matter which.

Can’t get over the huge Blackbeard profile with the tiny little modern-day cop looking frisky at the bottom.

What does this even mean?

I would watch any movie featuring a chimpanzee in a human occupation.

They really mailed it in with both this title, and likely, this script.

This is a movie about me when I have a chance to go to Bojangles.

Sequel to The King and I.

He’s going to drop the weights on those nerds.

Wait is this actually a sequel to The Shaggy Dog about the Shaggy Dog becoming the D.A.???

What is that

So just a normal cat, then?

Love this so much.

This better be about a boy and his tiger winning a karaoke competition.

This one has to be a joke, nice try Disney.

Oh dear God.

Okay, so those were all great and I am definitely going to watch all of them.

But obviously, the one I am most excited for, and what I consider to be the runaway correct answer, is this movie about a donkey named Gus that plays organized football for a team called the “Atoms”:

Is that coach actually yelling at the donkey to try to coach him in a sport???

Runner-Up, obviously:

That is my answer and I do not care to know if you agree.

But also was I right?

Any plans to celebrate your big birthday this week? via Shifty Joe on Twitter

Pat Rick: Before I answer this ridiculous question, I’d like to give a brief overview of the situation so that you, the reader, have some context.

Back in our lovely time living in Stanford Hall at ND, Shifty Joe and I began a now years-long feud that I hope our children, and our children’s children, and our children’s children’s children will uphold with all the animosity they can muster.

I guess if we wanted to be lame and point fingers, I maybe sort of half-started it by ordering pizza online a few times using Joe’s email and with no intention of sharing with him — thus, he got a notification that pizza was on the way, but it wasn’t his.

To get back at me doing this countless times over a few-year span, Shifty Joe took to wishing me a happy birthday on Facebook multiple times a year, and never on my actual birthday (May 6th), along with the occasional other inane posts updating me on useless life information (e.g. “Pat, I did laundry today.”). For anyone who knows me, this was absolutely giving me a taste of my own medicine, as many of my friends would describe me as somewhat of a “social media terrorist” for the way I troll and joke online. He’s gotten me real good.

So, now that you understand the significance of Shifty Joe sending me that question, I will simply provide this breakdown of my plans:

I’m going to do laundry.

Thanks for the question, Shifty!

What would happen if Hamm’s disappeared from the planet overnight? via Phill Swanson on Facebook

Pat Rick: Please see below for an excerpt from my upcoming novel The Hamm’sening.

Henry woke up the same way he woke up every day, since The Incident.

He was sprawled out on his makeshift cot, the remnants of last night’s fire blankly staring up at him, and he slunk into his dirty, tattered jacket and stepped outside the tent.

The sky was an unrelenting mass of gray, casting an uneasy and bleak pall over the desolate, dusty landscape. Ever since The Incident, this was the world Henry woke up to. It had been nearly a year since it happened, and already Henry could only barely recollect what the world used to be like — lush, lively, littered with life. The land of sky-blue waters, they used to call it. Now, it was a chore simply to carry on — scraping and scratching for survival among the unlucky few who had survived this long.

Henry sighed and walked over to the old picnic cooler where he kept his meager supply of sustenance — a couple refilled plastic water bottles, cans of soup and vegetables, a box of Twinkies he’d been able to scrounge up from a picked-apart grocery nearby.

He grabbed one of the bottles of water and took a long swig and sighed to himself. The lukewarm, metallic-tasting water did little for him, and he longed for something more refreshing. What he wouldn’t do for a — no, he couldn’t even bear to think it. Not after The Incident. It was too painful and dangerous to even entertain that daydream.

The morning alarms began to sound, noting it was time for everyone to report for work. “Work” was a funny word for it, because there wasn’t any payment involved — at least literally. The only salvation that agreeing to work provided anyone was the freedom from imprisonment, torture, and likely death at the hands of them.

Them, of course, was the group known as ABI. They were the driving force behind The Incident, as they’d grown concerned over the popularity and influence that certain products were beginning to have on people worldwide. No one truly knew who ABI was or wasn’t, simply that they ran things now, and made sure The Incident wiped all happiness and hope from people’s refrigerators — and lives.

Henry picked himself up wearily from his cot, which he had briefly sat back down on before the alarms began to sound. That fleeting respite from the horror of a world without Hamm’s Premium was nice, but it wasn’t real. It was time to go face the daily tribulations of existing and surviving in that kind of society, and per usual, he wasn’t at all ready.

NOTE: If you liked these first couple pages of Pat Rick’s dystopian novel about a world where Hamm’s disappeared overnight, please Venmo him lots of money to fund the publication of the whole book.

Can you give a Hunter Thompson-esque recap of the Andy Zettler Alison Meagher wedding? via Russell McFall on Facebook

Pat Rick: Yes, but not until next week, folks.

***

Well, that’s it for me this week, you guys. Hopefully I at least sort of answered all your questions in a satisfactory manner.

Go Irish, beat BYE!!!