Friday, September 7, 2012


The post's title is the maniacal cackling we let out after another close shave from the Wildcats in their wild opener against Syracuse.  A few more like that, I fear, will cause a fan to finally crack; after watching Northwestern squander a 35 point then come back to win a quadruple overtime game on a play where the ball bounces off of no less than four defenders before nestling in the arms of a Wildcat receiver in the endzone, he or she will don a purple bodysuit and terrorize the neighborhood by knocking balls, kites, and birds out of the air, acting as a demented vigilante defensive back.  Football is back and I could not be more excited.

Northwestern's traditionally crack offenses and generous defenses have made for thrilling come from behind wins and shattering collapses, sometimes in the same quarter.  The "Cardiac 'Cats" image may be just the thing the school needs to gain fans.  Instead of attempting to appeal to Chicago (which does nothing but bring the wrath of Martez Wilson upon us), why not embrace the reputation as the football team most likely to cause heart conditions?  Ads can depict a guy in a purple shirt yawning as he bungee jumps, base jumps, hang glides, lion tames, and participates in various late 90s Mountain Dew commercials until he finally keels over while watching the Wildcats hold a six point lead with less than five minutes remaining. 

Later billboards will show Fitz intensely loading fans into cannons, scaling the Petronas towers, and 
hunting the ultimate prey: man

Fans certainly have cause for alarm.  Last year's vulnerabilities against the pass look like they've returned.  Trevor Siemian replaced Kain Colter, as the sideline reporter conjured tales of quarterback intrigue (Colter revealed this week that he sustained injuries and asked for Siemian to step in a gentlemanly display).  The Carrier Dome remains an airless death trap filled with misery, despair, and the pervasive stench of armpits.  Yet, the 'Cats remain undefeated as they head to their home opener against their SEC equivalent.


This may shock you, but the last time Northwestern played Vanderbilt, they withstood a harrowing near comeback to hold onto victory.  At that point, the Commodores' head coach had retired just before the beginning of the season, and they sputtered to a 2-10 record.  Last year, new head coach James Franklin led Vandy to the Liberty Bowl.  They may be Northwestern's toughest non-conference opponent.

Franklin prefers the sideline karate chop to the fist pump, making him and 
Fitzgerald ideological enemies

Northwestern has a tall task ahead of them after last week's adventure.  But let's not forget that they looked dominant for much of the first half.  Venric Mark had a spectacular game returning punts, running, and shaking loose for a touchdown reception.  Chi Chi Ariguzo changed the game on defense.  The Wildcats refused to give in after a demoralizing collapse. Northwestern needs a big home win.  Northwestern and Vanderbilt have a kinship as small schools in power conferences that have traditionally been dragged around the football field like a dead bull in the Plaza Del Toros.  There is one key difference.  Northwestern was far better at sucking at football than Vanderbilt.  In fact, in its heyday, there was no school in the country better at losing football games than Northwestern.  Now that both Vandy and NU are scrapping for fringe bowl appearances, it is time to get unnecessarily riled up about beating them and giving them something to think about should we ever meet again in Pizza City.   


Professional football is here, and expectations for the Bears could not possibly be higher.  Brandon Marshall gives Cutler his best receiver alongside rookie Alshon Jeffery.  The aging defense hopes to eke out another creaky season, assuming Urlacher makes it to the end of the year without his knees eroding into stumps and forcing him to haul himself around on a plank of wood like the "hand me down a whiskey" guy from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.  A healthy Matt Forte is one of the best backs in the NFL.  And they tell us that the offensive line should be somewhat better for some reason.

Bears fans are expecting a playoff berth and dreaming of a Superbowl.  They face a difficult path.  The NFC North is one of the toughest divisions in football.  Their three best players are coming off injuries.  Brandon Marshall is on the team.  The NFL has been turned over to replacement referees who will official like so many counterfeit Enrico Palazzos.  Everyone is waiting to exult in Jay Cutler failures because of an instantaneous and visceral reaction to his face. 
The only way for Cutler to catch on with the fanbase is to market himself as 
"The Sultan of Surl," a fearless circus man who performs acts of derring-do 
such as high-wire, wing walking, and standing behind J'Marcus Webb on a 
third and long situation.  Of course, he cannot do this without a mustache

The Bears will also be going into the season with additional Wildcats.  They traded for cornerback Sherrick McMannis, who will join Bears stalwarts Nick Roach and Corry Wootton.  They still remain outnumbered by Commodores-- Cutler, D.J. Moore, Earl Bennett, and Chris Williams all hail from Vanderbilt.  I would be shocked if the Bears ever had this many combined alumns from Northwestern and an opponent on the roster at the same time, a vital statistic of mainstream interest that I expect to hear about on both Northwestern and Bears telecasts.


There has been a lot of talk of stunts, acts, and daredevilmanship this week as Northwestern football promises another season seat-gripping intensity.  Naturally, I've been boning up on my knowledge of what Wikipedia refers to as the "impalement arts," the practice of hurling pointy things at another person for the delight and amusement of spectators.  These acts include the "Wheel of Death," "The Devil's Door," "The Double Ladder of Death," and "Bending Over on the Orient Express to Tie Your Shoe and Then You Look Up and There Is a Knife Wobbling Where Your Head Was Which Means You've Been Drawn Into a Web of International Intrigue Except This is On Purpose."  Nonetheless, I owe thanks to the heroic anonymous author(s) of this Wikipedia article for including the following sentences:

"There is a trick behind this stunt and budding impalement artists are warned not to attempt it unless coached by an experienced professional."

"For example, organising bodies for competitive archery prohibit activity that involves deliberate shooting in the general direction of a human being."

Most contemporary knife throwers are rank amateurs compared to Lon Chaney's character in The Unknown because they have arms.  In The Unknown, a 1927 Tod Browning silent film, Chaney plays an armless circus performers who delights the crowd by shooting firearms and throwing knives at Joan Crawford with his feet.  Chaney's dark secret is that he actually has arms, but prefers to hide them presumably because the prehensile foot act is more lucrative and throwing knives with your feet while wasting perfectly good hands seems unsporting to discerning 1920s circus audiences.  He is determined to protect his secret at all costs, and anyone who sees his arms ultimately dies by them.  Having hidden arms must be a tremendous tactical advantage and I am surprised that more professional boxers have not considered it.  Here is a clip that not only shows Chaney's act but also shows the comeuppance of an impertinent mustachioed strongman.


Northwestern hopes to keep up its winning ways against an equally hungry Vanderbilt squad at home.  As someone unlikely to take up skydiving or jousting or attempting to get the jump on Lon Chaney anytime soon, I'll gladly let the thrill of watching the football team attempt to score more points than the other team substitute.  There's nothing else to do but strap ourselves in and yell about football in the privacy of our own homes or football stadiums.  Five more wins and all roads lead to the Pizza City.

1 comment:

Jon said...

I get the sense that something like this will go down when Fitz and Franklin meet at midfield after the game: