Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Enshrinement, Presdiential Voice and Mustache Update

Coach Fitz officially entered the College Football Hall of Fame last Saturday in South Bend Indiana, the home of the Hall and the site of the rebirth of Northwestern football.

Fitzgerald extends a fist over South Bend while leaning on a parade float device
that makes it look like a railroad hand car demonstrated in the photo at right,
where a railroad official comforts a young man who cannot join the hand car
crew after failing to measure up to a sign saying "you must be this grizzled"

Asked if he hoped to one day make it back to the Hall as a coach, Fitzgerald replied in the affirmative, claiming that by the time he had finished he would "drive other Big Ten programs like so many snakes into the sea except for the really landlocked schools in which case I will crush them with the ever-pumping might of my iron fist."


BYCTOM soccer coverage tends to favor international competition because soccer does global competition better than any other sport unless Bill Walton is unleashed upon a FIBA tournament with a microphone and a CIA World Factbook. It is also essentially the only soccer that I even tangentially follow, largely to satiate my jingoistic bloodlust against hapless Caribbean CONCACAF teams.

The 2009 Confederations Cup, a triumph
against Treacherous Spain

Personally, interest in international soccer has not translated into support for the MLS. The ever-tiresome whither American soccer question assumes a bizarre patriotic dimension for MLS fans versus those who prefer to exclusively follow the bigger European leagues, as if eschewing the MLS for the Premier League is an unforgivable act of crumpet-waving Toryism.

Loyalist Thomas Jones (left) assailed General Howe for the failure of Britain to
quash the nascent American Revolution, claiming that wasted time "diverting
himself in New York, in feasting, gaming, banqueting, and in the arms of Mrs.
Loring," whom he described as the Cleopatra of the American Colonies. Jones
alleges that Howe dallied because "the General's favourites were not yet
enriched; the rebellion was to be nursed, the General to continue in command,
and his friends, flatterers, mistresses, and sycophants to be provided for"

The Chicago Fire is currently and tenuously in first in the Eastern Conference and does feature Brian McBride, the America's Iron Forehead, at forward, as well as a nickname carefully chosen by MLS to evoke a local tragedy along with the San Jose Earthquakes and future expansion team the Gary, Indiana Gary Indianas. This comes from a soccer tradition, which is why the English enjoy teams such as Suffragette Tramplers United and FC Thatcher-era Industrial Blight.

Incidentally, there was a sudden an unexpected attempt to unearth the true cause of the Chicago fire several years ago. Further investigations put the blame on Mrs. O'Leary's neighbor, the suspiciously named Daniel "Peg Leg" Sullivan, a name suited to an accidental arsonist, emergency dike repairman, or Cook County trash commissioner candidate. Ald. Ed Burke took time to officially clear Mrs. O'Leary's cow as part of his role on the prestigious Bovine Exoneration Committee, a crucial piece of Daley patronage.

Possible causes of the 1871 Chicago Fire


Major League Soccer is back in the headlines again due to volatile star/international prettyboy David Beckham who has brought the glitz, glamor, and scotch-tossing soap opera melodrama to American soccer. Hailed just two years ago as the most important thing to happen to the sport in America, he has returned to LA to insults, effigies, and a hostile Home Depot Center vibrating with a cacophony of lusty booing by fans taking advantage of the fact that booing is one of very few acts that can be performed lustily in public without fear of arrest or recrimination. He even exchanged words with a hostile spectator, and another leaped from the stands to challenge him to a fight before being engulfed by security-- when in doubt, always leap from great heights to challenge professional athletes, it's right there in chapter 4 of the book Tremendous Ideas by Mitch "Blood" Green.

More importantly, Beckham's lunge at the American spotlight has done more to illuminate his membership in the Unexpectedly High Voice Society along with charter members Mike Tyson, Avery Johnson, and Joseph Stalin, shown here augmenting his speech with unending cascades of stormy applause.

The Castrato and Pesci, members an expectedly high voiced counter-

Michigan State has a wonderful searchable collection of audio at the Vincent Voice Library, and many of the shorter clips are listenable online. Crucially, the archive provides an excellent base for proving that Theodore Roosevelt does not belong to the legions of the unexpectedly high-voiced, but to the Theodore Roosevelt-voiced. Anyone who manages to replicate his impossible lilt can gain entry to a Teddy Roosevelt Valhalla, spending his days trust-busting, lion hunting, and aggressively grinning. The archive also provides this astoundingly creepy clip of David Lloyd George as he gives a speech encouraging war-time singing while what sounds like a tortured poltergeist or digitally disguised mob witness wails mournfully in the background.

Audio recordings of presidents showcase a palpable shift in pronunciation in America. Politicians, regardless of accent, spoke with a clipped, almost over-articulated way, forming vowels in ways that echo oddly in contemporary ears. Going back, it is tough to determine the first president to lose this diction. The task is more difficult when clouded by regional accents such as Calvin Coolidge's Foghorn Leghorn accent that drips from his mouth and wraps its thumbs through his suspenders. Harding comes much closer than anyone before World War II, but it is Eisenhower who may be the first contemporary-sounding president before a run on regional accents with Kennedy's Massachusetts braying, Johnson's close-leaning Texas twang, and Nixon's distinctive growl native to jowl country.


On a similar and more easily definable note, William Howard Taft was the last American president to sport any sort of facial hair, going with a mustache fashionable among gunfighters, strongmen, and Purdue coaches. The last time the U.S. even fielded a major-party candidate with any sort of facial hair was in 1948, when Dewey was unable to ride his mustache to victory over Truman, although the last candidate with truly epic facial hair was 1916's Charles Evans Hughes, whose unruly beard seemed poised to explode from his face and throttle Woodrow Wilson during debate.

Neither Thomas Dewey nor Charles Evans Hughes will stand for this

The greatest presidential facial hair of all time remains an open debate. Certainly, Lincoln's beard remains an iconic part of his legacy and hopefully an integral part of the Land of Lincoln trophy. Beards, however, remain far too pedestrian for the American presidency. Instead, the key question should focus on Chester A. Arthur or Martin Van Buren in the muttonchop department. Both were elected directly from the Vice Presidency into a second-rate presidency at best (Arthur is notable for being particularly undistinguished in a post-Civil War era of undistinguished presidents known as the Grover Cleveland Vortex).

Arthur's chops hang off his face like a graceful waterfall or a stage curtain draped in front of his cheeks and neck made plump through the plunderous office of New York Port Collector. His cascading muttonchops give him the grave and stately air of grazing cattle, gently chewing its cud and resisting its most arsonous urges. Van Buren, on the other hand, has the advantage of male pattern baldness, which makes it look like the left and right sides of his hair got into an irreconciliable dispute and separated by sliding halfway down his face. Van Buren, known as the "little magician" for his diminuitive stature, has more violent muttonchops, as if they can lurch from his face without warning and strangle an opponent like two hairy tentacles. Clearly, Van Buren has the superior muttonchops and the greatest presidential facial hair in history and, if this clean-shaven trend continues, possibly all time.

Arthur boasts a stately curtain while Martin Van Buren lives under the sea; he
eats plankton and octopi and even you and me

Further updates on these and other crucial topics as college football season continues not to happen for the rest of the month and BYCTOM is forced to examine the Van Dyke beards of the conquistadors.


TC said...

Roosevelt sounds kind of like Sean Connery in The Hunt for Red October. I think he's back in the mix for Favorite President.


Teddy had the most curious presentation; more a recitation than oration.

Mr. Coolidge sounded as if he might have been the inspiration for 50's/60's Chicago television curmudgeon ("and") Len O'Connor.