Thursday, September 24, 2009

Debacle at the Dome

Northwestern's season took a rough turn in last Saturday's loss to unfortunately frisky Syracuse after rallying from a 17 point deficit only to lose in heartbreaking fashion on a last-second field goal in the Carrier Dome. The defense struggled against wideout Mike Williams and QB Greg Paulus, who apparently used to play basketball for Duke, a fact that the Syracuse announcing team rammed down our throats like a group of Viking pillagers brandishing one of those battering implements with a goat head carved into it for additional ramming speed. Between the rough beginning of the game, the abysmally forced basketball analogies (Paulus evidently runs busted plays like they are a fast break, throws the ball up like an alley oop, and evades the pass rush like he's escaping from Maryland fans brandishing batteries and crude bludgeoning instruments), and the crack snuff-film camera crew that fell for play fakes more often than the shaky Northwestern defense, the entire game left me staring wistfully out the window like Roland Orzabal in this seminal Tears for Fears music video before being redeemed by the cleansing power of the Atlas Dance.

Incidentally, the Mad World Dance is probably the greatest ill-advised and unexpected 1980s music video dance breakdown challenged only by the gleeful back-flipping, shimmying, air guitaring, dance from a body double with an unconvincing George Harrison wig. Tears for Fears's greatest achievement in the field of music video, however, came with the video for "Shout," which combines pretty much every element that person can want in a 1980s music video: tragic British hair styles, over-the-top attempts to sell emotions (the only word for what Tear for Fear Curt Smith is doing here is braying), epic mountaintop guitar solos, and a desolate, barren landscape that I'm sure has something symbolically to do with sticking it to Margaret Thatcher.

Thatcher celebrates after a 1983 victory over British synth pop
bands, her greatest political adversaries

The Syracuse game was an important bellwether for the Northwestern season after an alarming stumble against Eastern Michigan. The running game struggled and the vaunted Northwestern defense had holes. On the other hand, the passing game led by Kafka looks great even without the Kafka Smash play that led Northwestern to victory in the Metrodome last season.


The New York Times had an interesting story by biologist Sean B. Carroll about the relationship of the venerable Great White Shark to the prehistoric megalodon, a larger, more extinct super-shark that only makes occasional appearances in the darkest reaches of the oceans to terrorize Antonio Sabato Jr, an occurrence which marks a shocking downturn in the quality of shark opponents since they battled the likes of a grizzled, drunken Robert Shaw or a reluctant, money-grubbing Michael Caine.

Official BYCTOM movie shark opponent worthiness chart-- note that
the y axis denotes shark killing ability in Hislops, named for famed
Australian shark killer Vic Hislop and his tireless quest to kill
sharks as depicted in his Hervey Bay area museum, which documents
both grisly shark attack and his ferocious letter-writing campagin
to Austrlian politicians to prioritize the battle against sharks

It is an iron law of Hollywood that shark movies are terrible with Jaws as the obvious exception. Spielberg, of course, later turned to larger, more ambitious projects featuring larger and more aggressive creatures and larger and more aggressive nebbishy sidekicks, as noted in this chart:

The Steven Spielberg Monster to Nebbish conversion chart

The only other creature more fearsome to man than shark might very well be Vernon Wells, the Australian actor not to be confused with the Blue Jays outfielder who is now perhaps best-known for having the most untradable contract in baseball. The odds against having two prominent people known as Vernon Wells on the same planet are remarkable, but these things happen all of the time as anyone who has innocently attempted to google image search for pictures of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler can arrestingly attest.

Vernon G. Wells is best known for portraying Wez, Mel Gibson's mohawked antagonist from The Road Warrior, and Bennett, the greatest movie villain of all time from the 1985 Arnold Schwarzenegger opus Commando where he is thrown into a deadly electrical fence and convulses with shock only to resume punching John Matrix in the next frame with nary a care in the world. Wells's official website is a goldmine of information about the veteran character actor, but, more importantly, it is also home to his reel (under the "About Vernon" section) which I heartily recommend for anyone looking for a seemingly endless montage of an Australian bulging out his eyes and punching someone while his bald, bearded pate grimaces in the background like a beefier, sun-wrinkled Ming the Merciless.


Much like how the shark's advantage naturally lies in the ocean, Vernon Wells is most at home in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and Margaret Thatcher is unbeatable when surrounded by urban malaise, the Wildcats return to their pleasant sparsely-attened turf at Ryan Field for a crucial showdown with Minnesota. A strong showing by the defense can alleviate concerns about the unit. Minneosta will be gunning for Northwestern after another ridiculous victory in the Metrodome last year. That win will still not top the 2000 Kustok Hail Mary, which can be seen on the Big Ten Network's webpage along with several other Kustok classics including the 2000 Michigan game and the 2001 Michigan State game. Bachér's 520-yard performance against Michigan State is up there, but so is Michigan State's demoralizing comeback. I am really excited to take a look at some of those old games, especially in case Saturday's game goes south, a concern that will hopefully look as ridiculous next week as the premise for this movie:

1 comment:


I believe that the photo of "Touchdown Maggie" was taken in the south upper reaches of U of SB Stadium during a stopover on her reminiscing tour of Indiana Toll Road institutions. She was subsequently heckled by hooligans from the adjacent corner and departed hastily for a Mince Pie break at Perkins.