Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 04/06/2021: Remembering the 46 Defense, More Cumin and Cinnamon, Tree House Concert #47

1. Over the years, I've watched at least one documentary (maybe more) and read articles about the 1985 Chicago Bears' smothering, paralyzing, impenetrable, fast, powerful, and discombobulating defense, known as the 46 defense.

What stands out to me are comments made by players who faced the Bears in 1985 (and in the 01/26/86 Super Bowl). I'm paraphrasing, but players said that they could watch film of the 1985 Bears, arrive at an intellectual understanding of schemes and tactics of the 46 defense, but they couldn't do anything to prepare for what they actually experienced, physically and mentally, in the face of the speed, tenacity, aggression, power, pressure, and dominance of the Bears' defense in 1985 once they faced in on the gridiron. 

I meant to write yesterday that I thought the Baylor defense against Gonzaga Monday night was similar to the 1985 Bears' 46 defense. My guess is that the Gonzaga players had watched plenty of film, studied tendencies, and, in their minds, knew what to expect from Baylor's defense. But like the Chicago Bears' opponents in 1985, the Gonzaga players had never, in real time, faced a defense as tenacious, quick, intelligent, strong, and, I'd add, hungry as Baylor's.

As I wrote yesterday, the Zags shrank under Baylor's defensive pressure and did not perform physical tasks such as making crisp passes, purposeful cuts, and shooting with confidence in the ways they had against other opponents. Baylor slowed them down. The Zags were sluggish. 

In writing this, my intention is to praise Baylor, not make excuses for Gonzaga. 

That Baylor defense, combined with their remarkable production on offense, especially from long range, made them them, possibly by far, the superior team in the 2021 NCAA national basketball tournament. 

2. I decided to take the idea of seasoning a whole chicken with a combination of cinnamon and cumin and apply it to another very simple dish. Debbie made different variations of this dish when she was teaching and living in Eugene and introduced me to it when she returned to Kellogg.

All this dish requires is cooking up some chopped onion and garlic, adding a vegetable, such as zucchini or green beans or spinach, if you'd like, adding a can of crushed or diced tomatoes and a can of beans. Debbie always used garbanzo beans, but today I mistakenly grabbed a can of white beans off the basement shelves and decided to live with my error.

So, I sprinkled cumin and cinnamon on the onions and garlic while I cooked them until tender. I added chopped zucchini to the onions and garlic and, when it was tender, I added the tomatoes and beans and seasoned the whole thing with some oregano.

I had leftover jasmine rice from last night and warmed in up and ate poured the tomato/bean mixture over the rice.

I enjoyed the flavors created by seasoning this meal with cumin and cinnamon a lot and look forward to other experiments with these seasonings and other ones I might not normally think to use in making certain meals. And my bean mistake turned out just fine -- yes, garbanzo beans would probably have been better, but the white beans worked. 

3. As he does from time to time, Bill Davie invited a second performer to join him in giving Tree House Concert #47. Tonight's guest was Neal Woodall, and thanks to the magic of electronic transmission, Neal played and sang from his home in Brownsville, Texas. Neal Woodall and Bill go back over forty years as friends and musicians. Neal was a part of the Seattle/Tacoma acoustic music world for many, many years and tonight many other musicians from that world were in the virtual audience, including Percy Hilo, Heidi Mueller, Larry Murante, Janis Carper, Kat Eggleston and, I'm sure, others I have forgotten.

Both Bill and Neal were exquisite. I'm not sure, but it seemed that having a longtime friend and colleague like Neal on hand inspired Bill to reach back into the early days of his songwriting and he played some gems from 30-40 years ago like "Sacred Ground", "The Mud Song" (correct title?), and his really early song about thinkin' and drinkin' (unsure of the title). Neal played several tightly composed and beautifully performed original songs and paid tribute to other songwriters like T. R. Ritchie, Chuck Pyle, and Bill Staines and played superb covers of their songs. For one song, about an alien spider that bit him, Neal's wife (I think), Alice joined him and that was a delight.

It's remarkable how the written comments during a virtual concert give us who are in the audience a genuine sense of togetherness, excitement, and appreciation. We learn this and that about each other, get to chuckle at one another's wit, and can enjoy feeling connected, even though we are all in our own places, many miles away from each other and, in many cases, strangers to one another. 

Tonight's audience was especially appreciative and expressive, adding to my enjoyment of this superb Tree House Concert. 

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