Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Victory in Iowa

With a season of high expectations turning into a season of nervous plank-pacing, Northwestern waltzed into Iowa City and managed to ruin Iowa's perfect season.

A team learns from its coach as the entire team unholsters its fists like 85
Judd Nelsons.

The Wildcats got a gutty performance from an injured Kafka unable to unleash the Kafka Smash play, but sticking in the pocket knowing that if it broke down he would be forced to let an Iowa defensive lineman run into him while running very fast for some horrible reason. On the other hand, Northwestern reached into its bag of tricks on the lone offensive TD by having quarterback Dan Persa pass the ball, the type of innovation that fuels Northwestern's "spread offense."

The idea of a quarterback passing started in the first football game when Yale
quarterback Walter Camp allegedly attempted one only to have its legality
decided by coin flip. The referee did sanction Camp's muttonchops by ruling
"what the hell, it's the nineteenth century." Passing did not return until
1906, after a brutal attack on football by college administrators such as
University of Chicago Divinity Dean Shailer Matthews, who argued in this
New York Times article that "Football to-day is a social obsession-- a boy-killing,
education prostituting, gladiatorial sport. It teaches virility and courage, but
so does war. I do not know what should take its place, but the new game should
not require the services of a physician, the maintenance of a hospital, and the
celebration of funerals."

Despite a shaky start, the defense locked down Iowa's offense aided by the unfortunate injury of Ricky Stanzi, whose season shared the volatile mix of success and grotesque incompetence of Rex Grossman's 2005 season with the Bears and Jackie Chan's take on the drunken master, whose erratic kung-fu baffled both opponents and audiences attempting to find any semblance of a plot in a Jackie Chan movie from before, say, 1995. Losing Stanzi seemed to suck the air out of the Iowa offense under the somewhat overwhelmed freshman Vandenberg, who threw a pick on his first pass and went 9-27 for the game while being harried by an inspired Northwestern d-line picked up by a resurgent Wootton who may finally be shaking off the lingering effects of offseason knee surgery and a troublesome ankle.

The Wildcat victory was only part of a glorious football weekend as Michigan lost to Purdue and Navy again got the better end of Notre Dame, which got Fitz fired up enough to start taking some shots at the Irish in the media. Fitz then piloted a giant fist-shaped blimp over South Bend for six hours, bombarding the town with scrolling taunts about 1995 and the sound of mechanized cackling.


Perhaps the only person who had a better week than Fitz was Simon Mann, the ex-SAS commando who led an ill-advised coup attempt to sieze Equatorial Guinea's oil supply and then ended up on a festive tour of third world prisons, an event of crucial interest to BYCTOM. Mann, originally arrested in Zimbabwe, was extradited to Equatorial Guinea's infamous Black Beach prison, where rumor has it that the government looks down harshly upon people who assemble inept mercenary forces in an attempt to violently overthrow it and install a puppet regime that will give them control over the country's lucrative oil resources. According to this excellent Times article, Mann came out of Black Beach looking better than one would expect after enjoying steaks and fine wines. Overall however, the mercenaries did not take to captivity, as the article relates:

“I thought these guys were tough guys,” one South African source said last week. “Yet they were all squealing like canaries. They really rather let down the names of mercenaries.”

The only phrase perhaps more apt at describing Mann's hopeles coup
attempt than "they really rather let down the names of mercenaries"
is "if Matrix were here, he'd laugh too."

Mann came out of prison in good spirits, beardless, and promising vengeance on his foes, vowing that those who abandoned him can expect an "ice-axe between the eyes" in a startlingly Stalin-esque embrace of both vengeance and ice axes. The only thing more chilling would be the involvement of a shirtless Tom Berenger believing that he is making a sequel to Dogs of War or Major League IV (not even Tom Berenger at his most shirtless could believe that anyone was making another Sniper movie.)

Berenger succeeds where Mann failed in Dogs of War, although it is worth noting
that Walken is surprisingly unconvincing as a soldier as he runs through the
fictional Equatorial Guinea as if he is filming part of a Fatboy Slim video,
therefore proving that Christopher Walken should not be a soldier unless the
order to kill comes from the disturbing demons that live in his psyche and
spacious forehead

One target may be Sir Mark Thatcher who became involved in helping the plotters secure a helicopter and an associate that was even by the loose standards of those involved, a complete disgrace to any sort of international intrigue and black-sheep children. Thatcher's almost comical attempt to play everyone against each other despite fumbling his cloak-and-dagger schemes more ineptly than could be imagined by the broadest, Frenchest farce has left him few friends in the mercenary world and exile from South Africa. Easily ensnared in the coup's paper trail, the South African anti-corruption team known as The Scorpions arrested him and he immediately attempted to betray his co-conspirators in an outcome that can be described as less than executive. Thatcher probably should have known better than to mess with the Scorpions, who were enjoying a brief window as the world's most dangerous organization of Scorpions between waning twenty-first century Mortal Kombat popularity and the German rock band's inevitable resurgence in 2009 to stick it one more time to the late Erich Honecker. Though the Times speculates that Mann could testify against Thatcher as the main financier, likely nothing will happen to Mann other than staring vacuously into his Spanish compound, bumping into things, and becoming involved in a dangerous network of white van schemes and multi-level marketing promotions that ultimately involve a penniless Thatcher stumbling into Parliament with a catalogue of upmarket knives.

Thatcher instinctively strikes a beatific pose looking optimistically
towards a sunny future


Like Thatcher, Northwestern will find itself in the sights of a jilted enemy in traditional rival Illinois on Saturday. What looked like the surest Big Ten win a few weeks ago now looks more difficult as the Illini have been frisky, winning their last two and energized by the desire to seize the first Land of Lincoln Trophy in this red-hot rivalry that is no longer predictably played at the end of the season when rivals have a chance to spoil each others' seasons or play for championships but more intriguingly at some random point that the Big Ten promises will be "some time during football season" as a way to add even more intensity to this contest.

The Land of Lincoln Trophy is part of an NCAA initiative for all rivalry trophies to be
entirely hat-based by 2034

Northwestern, though technically bowl-eligible, needs another victory to ensure itself of a post-season berth and keep alive the possibility of an eight win season. Let's hope Mick McCall is working on new wrinkles such as the T-formation or the Bloodless Coup which involves Sir Mark Thatcher accidentally lighting himself on fire and running about the stadium unable to express his predicament while a Northwestern takes advantage of the chaos and calmly strides into the end zone.

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