Friday, September 14, 2012

One Million Years BC

It has been two weeks and no one has beaten the Wildcats at football.  Not only did they defeat the favored Commodores in home opener, they also stood tall while the rest of the Big Ten generally flailed around like a drunken Dostoyevsky protagonist ruining a high-society party.  Football!

Understanding the Big Ten's rough weekend really can't be 
completed without a guide to what disappointed coaches look 
like when compared to specific Zaporozhian Cossacks.

Venric Mark had another excellent game to solidify himself as the feature tailback, but it was Northwestern's much-maligned defense that stole the show.  The same squad that looked discombobulated against Syracuse had a magnificent day holding Vanderbilt to 13 points and kept the 'Cats in the game as the offense continued to falter.  Chi Chi Ariguzo had another excellent day and netted himself Big Ten Defensive player of the Week honors.  Jeff Budzien nailed all three of his field goal attempts.  SEC teams were put on notice about coming to Ryan Field, especially if they are academically-minded SEC schools with a reputation for football futility only surpassed by Northwestern itself that have now turned themselves around and are also scrapping around for crappy bowl bids.


For the second week in a row, Trevor Siemian engineered the key drive with Kain Colter on the bench.  The quarterback situation, however, remains somewhat murky, with Fitzgerald describing his changes like he is going to the bullpen in a bizarre version of baseball where you can keep bringing guys back in again which you can't do in real baseball because of Tony LaRussa.

"Warm up all of the pitchers," LaRussa bellowed into the phone before sending 
a utility outfielder to pitch, a relief pitcher out to short, and calling for a 
left-handed mascot

Usually, a quarterback backlog bodes ill for football teams.  By now there should be chat of a quarterback controversy, or, as I am disappointed to have not seen in a headline yet, a "Quarterback KAIN-TREVORsy."  Instead, Fitz seems to be content to use both quarterbacks.

"We’re going to do what we’re going to do, and that means we’re going to play multiple quarterbacks, and we’re all right with it,” Fitzgerald said in this Chicago Sun-Times story.

Fitzgerald then added that he is experimenting with confusing the opposition further by having several Pat Fitzgerald lookalikes roaming around the stadium so that the opposing bench has no idea which is the real Fitz like the time that Michael Jackson did that at the Superbowl and then the real one sprang up out of a trap door and stared motionless at the crowd for a solid minute while wearing his nineteenth century military dictator regalia.  Then he yelled "Go 'Cats," cackled, thew a smoke grenade, and vanished through a secret panel in the floor.


Boston College comes to town after last year's wild opener.  The Eagles are coming off a 34-3 victory over FCS Maine and their athletic webpage assures me that someone named Spiffy Evans played a key role.  BC Quarterback Chase Rettig should continue to test the young Wildcat secondary.  I'm terrified of Ifeanyi Momah, who torched Northwestern for a career-high 157 receiving yards last year, even if he no longer is on the Eagles (thanks to JHodges in the comments for the correction). The prospect of Spiffy Evans is also extremely dangerous because he has a spectacular nickname and they usually don't give those out to guys who just kind of hang out on the bench.  Otherwise, I'd assume he'd have a less awesome nickname like "Benchy" Evans or "Rider Pine" or "The Bench-Man of Alcatraz" which admittedly would not make sense unless he played in San Francisco but I'm assuming someone with the nickname "Bench-Man" would not have a ton of choices about where he pursued his college football career so that is moot.

The heartening win over Vanderbilt has raised confidence in Northwestern fans who are expecting a win this week and a possible 4-0 start to the season.  Boston College has lost the services of mythical creature Luke Kuechely, also known as "The Sack-Man of Alcatraz,"  and are projected to have a difficult season in the ACC.

Nevertheless, veteran Wildcat fans know not to expect victory until the whistle has been blown.  The Eagles present Northwestern with third consecutive challenger from a BCS conference, and they are eager to avenge last year's loss.  Northwestern is a young team that has shown a penchant for collapse and comeback as per school tradition, and the BC game will do a lot to tell us what we can expect from them this season.


One persistent problem facing early modern navigators involved the search for islands that did not exist.  As map-makers or explorers fanned across the globe, they occasionally misidentified landmasses, and these nonexistent lands occasionally wound up on maps.  One of the most famous fake islands was Frisland, a north Atlantic island that appeared on the sixteenth century Zeno maps.

Frisland was apparently a reference to Iceland  as "Freezeland," which would be 
an excellent base of operations for Mr. Freeze.  Man, it is hard to explain to 
young people that our Batman movies used to be mainly about rubber nipples 
and puns about how cold it is

Frisland came from a map chronicling an alleged voyage by Antonio and Niccoló Zeno in the late fourteenth century.  The account included a voyage of several years around the North Atlantic accompanied by Prince Zichmni, who led a number brave attacks against several non-existent islands. Their descendant (also named Niccoló Zeno) wrote a book and drew a map in 1558 based on an account of the earlier brothers' voyage that claimed had been destroyed.  Either the earlier brothers or the later Niccoló had made up or misconstrued the voyage.  The Zeno maps remained in circulation for more than 100 years, giving an interesting example of the production and dissemination of contemporary knowledge and although I would hope that the obesession with perpetuating the myth of Frisland is a time-honored Zeno family tradition and there is a lone Zeno descendant somewhere attempting to scrape up a team of Frislanders to qualify for the World Cup.
A map of Frisland from 1623 with detailed place names.  Note the southern 
island of Monaco, no doubt a glamorous hotspot of nonexistent gambling, 
where patrons could bet on dragon-baiting, perpetual motion, and watch an 
early modern James Bond lose his fancy ruffles to a number of 
cat-toting megalomaniacs who threatened governments with gigantic muskets 
Pepys Island near the Falklands also did not exist, but was named after the British politician Samuel Pepys.  Pepys played a key role in the seventeenth century modernization of the Royal Navy and also kept a detailed diary that has become a crucial source for people interested in seventeenth century British politics and what Samuel Pepys enjoyed eating.  Someone has put his diary online, and a brief glance through has let me know under no uncertain terms that Samuel Pepys could absolutely devour a turkey if he wanted to whether roasted or in warm or cold pie forms.  The first three months of the diary carefully detail his turkey consumption where he described the birds as alternately brave, gifts from Mr. Shepley, or imported from Denmark.  The rest of the diary is full of well-nigh indecipherable nonsense such as:
I drink my morning at Harper's with Mr. Sheply and a seaman, and so to my office, where Captain Holland came to see me, and appointed a meeting in the afternoon. Then wrote letters to Hinchinbroke and sealed them at Will's, and after that went home, and thence to the Half Moon, where I found the Captain and Mr. Billingsly and Newman, a barber, where we were very merry, and had the young man that plays so well on the Welsh harp.

Samuel Pepys was an important figure in seventeenth century England, but 
nowhere but BYCTOM will let you know that he ate turkey no less than five 
times in 1660 and wrote about it; also he drank with a guy he referred to as 
"Mons. L'Impertinent"

There are a number of unidentified islands (including the fantastic "Isle of Demons") that came to be identified during a meeting of exploration, imagination, and (in some cases) stronger than average doses of grog.  At some point, all had been stomped out under the brutal boot of accurate cartography which sadly insisted here be accurate depictions of landmasses.


A victory against Boston College augers well for the Wildcats and puts them in a strong position for a bowl game.  There are no givens in college football, especially with the fluctuating performance of the 'Cats so far, but a defensive effort like the one we saw against Vanderbilt should propel them to victory.  A favorable early schedule may allow Northwestern to start Big Ten play undefeated, but we must be cautious.  A 3-0 Wildcat team may be as ephemeral as a non-existent island named after an English turkey-devourer with a penchant for cannonballs and lute practice.


jhodges said...

Note, do not fear Ifeanyi Momah, as not only did he injure his knee near the end of the NU game last season (of course, after he piled up those yards) which kept him out for the rest of 2011, but his application for another season of eligibility was denied by the NCAA.

BYCTOM said...

I wasn't talking about on the football field, I naturally assumed he would be pulling the levers for some sort of dastardly anti-Northwestern machinations off the field, how did you not get that from my post?

(As always, thanks for the correction).