Thursday, October 7, 2010

Big Ten Home Opener

Northwestern hung in there in a tense win against Minnesota, battling not only the Gophers, but a litany of turnovers, special teams miscues and thoughtless penalties, similar how the French and British faced not only the fearsome forces of the Tsar but also the true winner of the Crimean War: cholera.

This website identifies the soldier
pictured as Colour Sergeant "Willie"
McGregor of the Scots Fusilier Guards
modeling a uniform meant to evoke
the sentient mound of hair look that
fell out of favor in British military
uniforms but later became de rigueur
for Joe Cocker's back-up band

The game must have been an infuriatingly frustrating loss for Gopher fans already disillusioned with the Brewster era and I'm tempted to feel sorry for them except that this is the Big Ten so not only do I feel no pity for down on their luck programs unable to defeat the Wildcats, but I fully expect the NU Athletic Department to sack the offices of their counterparts in a demonstration of merciless bureaucracy and carry off their valuable spices from the Orient away on ships cleverly named "The Marriageable Daughters" because that would sure confuse the barbaric raiding parties involved in this analogy that is finishing up right here at the end of this sentence.


The 'Cats open up under the lights at Ryan Field against a battered Purdue squad attempting to prove false the common medical assumption that knee injuries are not contagious. The Boilermakers were attempting to turn this season around and produce a winning season for second-year head coach Danny Hope. Even if this season does not pan out, Hope has plenty of opportunity to build a winner at Purdue for obvious reasons.

Fig. 1

On paper, Northwestern should have the advantage over this injury-ravaged squad, but we can throw out the record books because it's Big Ten Football under the lights and the last annual meeting of these two squads in an Inexplicably Protected Rivals Showdown. Next year, Northwestern and Purdue will of course be separated into two divisions, but I contend that it will only marinate this bitter rivalry between two conference rivals whose mutual antipathy dates back to the time some Big Ten official decided that we should play each other all of the time and not even dignify the game with some sort of embarrassing knick-knack trophy featuring a hat, a medieval weapon, or the contents of Joe Paterno's desk circa 1967.


The Bears game last Sunday night was spectacular for fans of sacks, concussions, and ineptitude, spear-headed by the matadoric offensive line gracefully stepping out of the way of onrushing defensive linemen that clumsily crashed again and again into Jay Cutler.

Cutler showed a need to spend more time working
on fleeing for his life drills such as the one shown
above from training camp in Bourbonnais

The Bears announced today that Todd Collins is starting, joining the endless list of random quarterbacks who have started for the Bears including Moses Moreno, Craig Krenzel, Henry Burris, Jonathan Quinn, Kordell Stewart, Adlai E. Stevenson, Mike "Hinky Dink" Kenna, Daniel "Peg Leg" Sullivan, Abe Froman, and Bonesaw McGraw. If anything, the Bears have been an entertaining team this season either by winning through nonsensical referee pedantics, an absurd flurry of opponent penalties, or losing in a way reminiscent of falling victim to the diabolical and unethical nosetackle dive play in Tecmo Super Bowl. The only reliable thing we've learned about the Bears this season is that overwrought post-game radio shows have convinced me that the phrase "nine sacks in da first half" is a surprisingly reliable Chicago accent shibboleth.


There's a dearth in popular mallet-percussion bands barnstorming around the country these days performing jaunty tunes for our amusement, so fortunately we have a relic of happier times with Reg Kehoe and His Marimba Queens. I'm greatly disappointed to live in a time where the odds of someone existing named "Reg Kehoe" are remote enough, let alone someone with that name in charge of an all-female Marimba band. Take a look at this 1940 film clip featuring his song stylings, although the show is stolen by the flamboyant bassist flailing uncontrollably slightly out of sync with the music which makes it seems like he's whaling on an upright bass while an unrelated bass solo plays in the background in some sort of Roosevelt-era Millie Vanilli situation.

Fig. 2: Chart of Bassist Enthusiasm

One of the all-time great situations where a marimba takes over a song occurs in the Herb Alpert tune Tijuana Taxi that, interestingly enough, relies equally on helpless flailing to sell the song in what appears to an attempt to approach the platonic ideal of silly 1960s dancing. Serapes are also involved. This video is at least a step up from his attempt to throw a monkey wrench into the gears of capitalism by annoying hard-working instrument factory workers with a shockingly square version of the Nate Adderly classic Work Song (it does not hold a candle to the Oscar Brown, Jr. version where he's added lyrics such as "left the grocery store man bleeding/when he caught me robbing his store).

The dancers in the Tijuana Taxi video demonstrate one of three
possible dancing facial expressions: the frozen smile (designed to
cover up resentment at being forced to perform the jerk), intense
glowering, and, of course, relentless hunger for brains

Finally, enjoy a wonderful version of one my favorite tunes, The World is Waiting for the Sunrise performed by Benny Goodman while ignoring the vibraphone player's eerie resemblance to a gregarious, mallet-wielding Lenin.


Northwestern's spotless record has earned it the #25 position in the Coach's Poll. A strong victory against Purdue will not only possibly move into a consensus ranking, but also make Northwestern technically bowl eligible before moving into a tough second half of the season. Hopefully, the Wildcats will defend Ryan Field from the Boilermakers and prevent any pillaging from the Purdue Athletic Department. Otherwise Northwestern will be forced to break out its toughest defense yet: typhus.

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