“Sluggish”

On wet mornings, like this morning, it’s typical to find a slug or two on the asphalt of the driveway. They come out of the ground and oh-so-slowly inch along toward the flower beds, and when I see them I use a leaf to pick them up and take them to a location away from the flowers, where they can nosh away on the weeds and random bushes in the no man’s land area between our house and the house next door.

I don’t mind slugs, or snails. Nevertheless, after observing them around here I have a different perspective on the word “sluggish,” and would never want that word applied to me. But seeing this little guy this morning made me think of a classic Steve Martin appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in which the word “sluggish” figured prominently. It gave me a laugh on a misty morning and made me realize how much I miss the old Tonight Show and its legendary host. The clip is below.

Theodoric of Cleveland

Today the Cleveland Browns announced that they were hiring Mike Pettine to be their new head coach. He’ll be their third head coach in three years, and his resume sounds a lot like the resumes of their last two coaches. He’s a guy who has had decent experience as an NFL assistant coach but has never been the head guy — just like Pat Shurmur and Rob Chudzinski. Shurmur was overwhelmed by the job and got fired after two uninspired seasons and Chud got the boot, unfairly, in my view, after only one season at the helm.

Who’s Pettine? He’s been an assistant coach with the Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, and the Buffalo Bills. These aren’t exactly the elite franchises in the NFL — Buffalo won just six games this past season. Pettine is a defensive guy, which could be a good fit because the Browns have some defensive talent. But who knows? He’s got a limited track record and limited experience.

I listened to some of the press conference for Pettine today and had to laugh when Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said the Browns were “thrilled” to have Pettine, who would be “tough, aggressive and innovative” and bring “a blue-collar, team-first mentality.” Who does Haslam think he’s kidding? Cleveland Browns fans may be ridiculously devoted, but we’re not blithering idiots. The Browns clearly hired Pettine because their coaching search had become an embarrassment. Cleveland was jilted and rebuffed by all of the hot coaches, who no doubt wanted to avoid a franchise that looks more like a clown show with each passing season. The Browns’ decision to can Chudzinski after only one season in which the Browns played without an NFL-caliber quarterback obviously limited the pool of people who would even consider a job.

I don’t wish Pettine ill. I hope that, against all odds and notwithstanding the obvious incompetence of the Browns organization, they found a diamond in the rough who succeeds famously. But the Browns have no credibility with me any more. Their front office is like a collective Theodoric of York, the medieval barber played by Steve Martin on Saturday Night Live in the ’70s. After Theodoric would kill or maim his patients with his quackery, Jane Curtin would confront him and say: “Why don’t you just admit it! You don’t know what you’re doing!” At the Browns’ press conference today, I was hoping Jane would make an appearance.

In The Mood For A Classic

Sometimes, at the end of the work week, you just need to scratch that itch and satisfy that desire to see one of the sketches from the original Saturday Night Live — the greatest live comedy show in the history of TV.  And what better way to do so than to check out one of the classic “Two Wild and Crazy Guys” series of skits by Dan Aykroyd and Steve Martin?

Great line:  “Don’t worry about disease!  In Czechoslovakia I was cured many times.”

Planes, Trains, And Automobiles

Today I drove to the airport, caught an early morning flight to the Windy City, then took the Chicago Transit Authority Blue Line train from O’Hare Airport to my downtown meeting site.  I therefore completed the John Candy-Steve Martin business travel trifecta when the day was still young.

The train ride was a pleasant way to get from the airport to the city — much more enjoyable than a cab ride through stop-and-go traffic.  The trip took a bit less than an hour.  We sat in a clean, relatively quiet car with no exhaust fumes pouring in, rolled past some interesting neighborhoods and buildings, and heard recorded announcements that encouraged us all to be polite to our fellow passengers by not listening to blaring music or having annoyingly loud conversations on our cell phones.  It seems like the Transit Authority is working hard to make the train trip more tolerable, and it was.

One part of the train ride made me laugh.  At two of the Blue Line stops, you can get out and transfer to other subway lines — one of which is the Pink Line.  Huh?  The Pink Line?  In the Stormy, husky, brawling, City of the Big Shoulders?  Carl Sandburg would probably laugh and like that development, too.