’13 seems lucky so far


Northwestern won its first bowl game of my lifetime today, in a rather convincing fashion. They beat Mississippi State 34-20 in the Gator Bowl (I’m not using the corporate sponsor’s name here) to get the new year off to a winning start. The monkey has been sent away, the streak has been broken, and any other appropriate metaphors are no longer relevant.

Those who think 13 is unlucky–and I have professed myself to be one of them, in a different context–should talk to Northwestern fans tonight, because thirteen’s just fine with us right now.

So now it’s onward to bigger and better things in the fall. Most of the main players are coming back next year, especially on offense, so why not think that the Big Ten championship and a BCS bowl berth are possible? At this moment, anything and everything seems reasonable to me.

Go Cats!

A harbinger of success


This morning, I pulled out my old Northwestern car flag and attached it to the window of my car for the drive into work. It’s New Year’s eve, and since NU has a game tomorrow morning against Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl, I wanted to display some Wildcat pride on the streets of Chicago.

I’ve had the flag for probably fifteen years, meaning that it’s been flown many times before. It’s known some good times over the years, but during bowl season there’s been only disappointment. Maybe that will change this year, I thought to myself as I drove toward the Kennedy Expressway and the suburban office where I work.

Traffic was light, as might be expected on New Year’s Eve day. As I pulled onto the highway, things were looking great. That is, until I heard the noise.

There was a loud slap against the roof of the car, followed by silence. The familiar ruffling sound of the flag as it hit the roof of my car was gone. I knew what the problem was but, since I was already on the highway, I couldn’t really do anything about it. And so I drove on, until I stopped at an oasis to check.

Just as I had suspected, the plastic rings that had attached the car flag to the pole were no match for wind that was created by driving onto the highway. The rings had snapped, and the flag went off to its resting place, somewhere near the on-ramp to the highway.

At first I was bummed out, and not because I had been driving with what resembled a Festivus pole on my car. No, I had had that flag for many, many years, and it was a link to days from the past that I’ll never see again.

But what were those days, exactly? Usually a good performance by the Wildcats during the regular season, punctuated by disappointment at the end of the season, either by losing a bowl game, or by not playing in one at all. Perhaps, rather than being a bad thing,  the loss of my flag is a sign of good things to come tomorrow morning. We’ll all find out soon enough.

UPDATE: The loss of the flag was indeed a good sign, as Northwestern beat Mississippi State 34-20, to capture its first bowl win in a very long time. Expectations for this team in the fall will be very high, indeed.

My first meme


Internet memes are a new take on an old idea. Start with an instantly recognizable image (an icon, if you want to use that term) and add text that makes it funny or interesting in some way. The old “Kilroy was here” would be an example. If you drew Kilroy’s gaze with his nose hanging over the fence and added “(Your name) was here” to it, that’s a bit like generating a meme. It’s a new twist on something that’s already there.

So I went to memegenerator.net and went to work on behalf of the Northwestern football program. They’re playing in the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl on New Year’s Day in Jacksonville, Florida, against Mississippi State. It will be the first in a day-long stream of bowl games with Big Ten teams involved, and Northern Illinois thrown in for some added local interest. I’ll have to put my anti-TV bias aside on that day.

There are many characters that can be used as templates: There’s Morpheus from the Matrix movies, Annoying Facebook Girl, Bad Luck Brian, Success Kid, and more than I can describe here. But the one that interested me the most was Walter Sobchak from The Big Lebowski. If you haven’t seen the movie before–and I sure hope you have–Walter is a messed-up Vietnam veteran, who seems given to scary outbursts and erratic behavior. He’s the anti-Dude in a lot of ways.

There’s a scene set in a bowling alley, and….well, just watch for yourself. So the meme for Walter is “Am I the only one around here…..” and there are many examples, some of them funnier than others. I tied my Angry Walter into the Wildcats’ lack of success in bowl games in, oh, my entire lifetime.

My result is shown above, and I doubt it will be the last meme I ever make. It’s a silly yet creative exercise, which means it’s exactly the sort of thing I would enjoy doing, at least until it gets old. And I’m sure that won’t take too long, either.