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Just Spartan Things: Defense is for Winners?

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Michigan State Potluck, Day 3

Sparta!

A funny thing that happens when you’re a historian is that people expect you to know everything about history. All of history. All time periods and all places. Playing Trivial Pursuit or at bar trivia and a history question comes up? Woe betide the historian who doesn’t know it. “But,” you might offer, “I study modern U.S. history. I don’t really know much about Medieval Europe.”

“WHATTTTT????” the shocked and judgmental masses shout in disbelief. “What kind of historian are you?”

“Um… one with a human brain and its accompanying limitations? And one with zero interest in Medieval Europe?”

For some reason, it’s unfathomable to many that historians do not function in essentially the same manner as Wikipedia. I’m a little bummed that I don’t contain the depths of Wikipedia either, or else I would have done better on Jeopardy!, but I’m also pretty realistic about human capabilities.

Anyway, all this to say that I find ancient Greece pretty damn boring and consequently, know next to nothing about it in spite of being a historian. What I do know is that in ancient Sparta, they really liked war, and you had to be good at war if you wanted to survive in that society, and that they took war prep so seriously they supposedly didn’t like fancy things and luxuries, which is why today, the term “spartan” is used to describe something that is devoid of comfort or luxury.

Food

With that in mind, today we’d like to know two Sparta-related things:

  1. What’s the most “Spartan” thing you’ve done? (ie: self-denial, doing things you may not like, like calling a forward pass, if you’re on the MSU Spartan offensive staff)
  2. What food do you think is better in its stripped-down, original state instead of gussied up with various innovations?

MNW: I once waited until kickoff of a Northwestern game to start drinking heavily.

As far as stripped-down, original states? The only thing (shockingly) that comes to my mind is beer! I loved the unfiltered Pilsner Urquell I had straight out of the barrels in Plzen. If you want a food, though? Bacon. Don’t put maple glaze on it, coat it in brown sugar or whatever, or triple-brine it, anything. Cut it off those big pigs once Rocky’s done punching them, package it, and give it to me so that I can fry and eat it.

Boilerman: Used to have a Spartan Foods in my hometown. I used to tag along with my grandpa when he’d go grocery shopping. He was an extreme couponer before such a thing existed. Also, I grew up on a small family farm. Pretty much everything we did probably qualifies under the modern definition of “spartan.”

I’m with MNW on this one but with whiskey. I don’t need maple or apple or peach or whatever crap they infuse liquor with these days. Give me a single-malt 12-year old Highlands Scotch or a Kentucky Bourbon and I’m happy.

BrianB2: At one point in ‘modern U.S. History’ a younger BrianB2 earned a B.A. in history at the University of Maryland. It too has not aided me much in bar trivia or Trivial Pursuit, or life overall really. This perhaps led to my biggest ‘Spartan’ moment as I charged into life after college with an unchecked reckless abandon and used my education to become a middle school teacher. Ambitious? Sure. Admirable? Maybe. But, ultimately it left me dead on the beaches by the Hot Gates surrounded by a thousand tiny Persians, emphasis on the Persian. (We got a weird demographic thing going on here in Maryland)

I enjoy the purest forms of a lot of popular foods. For instance you can’t go wrong with a plain cheese pizza, but this does not mean I hate putting toppings on my pies from time-to-time. More controversially, keep your goddamn onions and peppers off my cheesesteaks.

Thumpasaurus: Well, the old college standard of taking a small swig of a Keystone Light, topping off the can with Popov vodka, and continuing to drink the surprisingly drinkable (if foul tasting) concoction would certainly qualify as spartan in more than one sense of the word. I suspect that it is a staple in East Lansing.

The process of creating cookies should stop before baking.

WSR: So being the large idiot that I am, I used to love working out twice a day. Before school was for cardio, after school was for strength. It was miserable, and I’d fall asleep in my Dad’s car on the way home at night. But it was really effective. And so, being the idiot I am, I’ve been trying to work it back into my life. This has not been going well, but if it worked in my teens why won’t it work in my mid-to-late 30’s?

Steak. Porterhouse. Seasoned with salt and pepper. Grilled to medium rare. I question the judgment of anyone who says otherwise.

Stew: The car I drive is a 2000 Ford Focus. It doesn’t have cup holders. The windows don’t work. The cigarette lighter is actually that, and doesn’t work as a power outlet. My wife had it when we met 13 years ago. She got the good car once we had kids. We could afford to get another car, our only debt is our house. But why?

As for food, WSR is correct. Steak should have salt and pepper, that’s it. If you put sauce, or a glaze, on a steak, you should not do that, instead.

Creighton: If I go to a football or basketball game I don’t like to leave until the game is over, so I’ve spent some truly miserable moments at Kinnick Stadium in November. There’s not amount of clothing, hot chocolate, or whisky that can stop the wind from blowing straight through you in a 0-degree wind chill. Being a largely midwestern football conference, I’m sure many of you can relate to this one.

Those of you that know me well are aware of my love of coffee. I always drink my coffee black because I firmly believe that if you have good quality coffee, and make it the right way, you don’t need to water it down with sugar or cream to make it potable. If you’re drinking Folgers or making your coffee in a Keurig, then sure it probably tastes like dishwater and needs to be dressed up some. I make my coffee in a french press from good beans, freshly ground, measured on a digital scale (scoops are too inaccurate), and brewed with water that’s between 200 and 205 degrees. Sure maybe this is a lot of work compared to throwing a pod into a Keurig and hitting a button, but I really love the taste and smell of coffee so it’s all worth it if it means I don’t have to adulterate with Coffee Mate.

BRT: I bought my house in May and then didn’t move my stuff into it until late July. While I wasn’t living there full time, I was there a fair amount to paint and whatever. The house featured, furniture-wise, a single camping chair and an air mattress. That felt pretty spartan.

Food-wise, I think the people at Oreo need to be stopped. Oreos are a terrific cookie, and original (or Double-Stuf) are really all you need. The Golden Oreos are good, but I don’t think they’re really Oreos. But where they’ve really gone to far are the thousands of weird flavor iterations they’re constantly producing. Does the world really need Root Beer Jalapeno Oreos? No, no it does not. Or Grape and Lime Flavor Swirl Oreos? Nope. Regular Oreos are perfect. Leave them alone.

Poll

What is the best Oreo?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    The classic
    (36 votes)
  • 41%
    DOUBLE STUF
    (55 votes)
  • 0%
    Carrot Cake Oreo
    (1 vote)
  • 6%
    Golden Oreo
    (8 votes)
  • 0%
    Birthday Cake Oreo
    (1 vote)
  • 2%
    Festively colored for various holidays and seasons Oreo
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Red Velvet Oreo
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Peeps Oreo
    (1 vote)
  • 6%
    Mint Oreo
    (9 votes)
  • 1%
    Lemon Oreo
    (2 votes)
  • 2%
    Cheetos Oreo
    (3 votes)
  • 2%
    Roast Beef Oreo
    (3 votes)
  • 2%
    Root Beer Jalapeno Oreo
    (3 votes)
  • 5%
    Other, somehow
    (7 votes)
132 votes total Vote Now

Football

We made fun of MSU’s offense on Monday and Tuesday this week (totally justifiable), but the defense has escaped without much criticism. That’s because they’re pretty solid. Are they Galaxy-Class like they were several seasons ago? No. But are they a solid, stingy Big Ten defense? Yes indeed. Are they the bright spot of Michigan State football? Very much so.

So, what will MSU’s defense bring to the table this year? Will they be even better and provide even more support to an oft-hapless offense? Or will they take a step backwards, threatening mediocrity and Mark Dantonio’s job? Will Sparty’s Defense continue to drag the offense to safety like Rambo saving POWs? (Ed. Note: In addition to ancient Greece, other things BRT knows nothing about includes Rambo, which I assume is a movie?) And speaking of “dragging,” in addition to this Potluck, what’s something that lingered on far too long in your life that you just never finished?

MNW: Sparty’s ability to stop the run has always impressed me. And Kenny Willekes--he of like 98 TFLs in 2018--is coming back for his senior season? Fuuuuuck. Oh, Joe Bachie’s coming back to the linebacking corps, too? Fuuuuuck. Did Andrew Dowell gradua--oh thank God. I mean, it almost feels unfair that Sparty counts ⅔ of its fearsome LBs among its returners, to say nothing of Raequan Williams eating people in the middle (and being a good story about staying in school).

I’m not worried about any of this, though, because Mark Dantonio hasn’t come up with a new gameplan for Northwestern in 5 seasons and we’ll still dink and dunk our way to a weird 30-27 OT win. Hooray!

Oh, and the lingering thing: My dissertation. Thanks for that, BRT.ion

Boilerman: Sparty = Defense. Everyone knows this. They should (still) be one of the best in the country at stopping the run again. If their secondary can improve, they’ll be downright scary.

The lingering thing: Installing new lights in my pole barn. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go rent a manlift.

BrianB2: Andrew Dowell and Khari Willis graduating can’t help matters much, but you still have Willekes and Bachie and that same vanilla scheme that has come to define the Green and White, so I imagine things will be okay.

Rambo is a character, not a movie. Okay, so it is a movie too, but no one cares about that one. And I am not sure how to answer that bonus question, BrianB2 is a MFing closer baby. Word of advice, it is particularly easy to be a good closer when you don’t start anything. I referred to myself in the third person twice in today’s potluck, this must be what rock-bottom feels like.

Thumpasaurus: MSU’s defense is going to be steady. I wish I could go ahead and hot-take this one to death, because one of the major drawbacks of the OTE podcasts is how often Andrew and I have similar takes on things.

Alright. I’m taking this question as inspiration and doing some music career bucket list items this summer.

(no, i’m probably not)

WSR: Until proven otherwise, I’m going to just continue to assume that you won’t be able to run on Sparty, and they’ll play bend-but-don’t-break pass defense, and be good enough to keep that offense in games but not good enough to steal wins against the best teams in the East (on more than one occasion, anyway). But against teams that absolutely need to run to win and are laughably horrific at passing? Well, let’s just say I’ve got some appointment viewing on October 12th in addition to the Corn-Rodents.

And something that’s dragged on too long? Oh, there’s this one thing I need to wrap up this summer...

Creighton: Ok wow this seems like a personal attack on my well-documented procrastination. Sparty’s defense will be fine, and I think their performance will depend on how much time they spend on the field due to the offense’s 3-and-outs and injuries.

Stew: The defense will likely be in the top tier of the conference, which will put them safely as one of the better in the country (top 25). The line and LBs are incredible, and while the secondary isn’t quite as good as it was a few years back, they’re still quite capable.

As for stuff that’s lingering, we moved into our current house close to two years ago, now, and all painting and improvements came to a screeching halt about a year ago when kid #3 was gestating. We’ll get around to painting that garish gold dining room someday.

BRT: I picture the 2019 MSU squad to look very similar to the 2018 edition--which means that the defense will once again be very good, and while this will yield fewer results in W-L terms that it should thanks to the offense, it will mean that playing MSU is super ugly and frustrating for most other Big Ten teams.

I’m not sure why MNW is salty at me, as I think that portion of the question was cooked up by himself and WSR as they drank Naturdays, so I am blameless here. I did know as soon as I typed it that the answer for him would be my dissertation, because mine also dragged on too long. Now it’s my book proposal which will probably never happen. Other candidates include painting the final room in my house (downstairs bathroom) and sorting through several boxes of random paper crap. I’ll probably just let my niece deal with them when I die in 50 years.

Poll

What will MSU’s defense look like this season?

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    Better than 2018
    (44 votes)
  • 22%
    Worse than 2018
    (24 votes)
  • 35%
    Return to Galaxy Class status
    (37 votes)
105 votes total Vote Now