Posts Tagged ‘Super Bowl’

If Sunday was super, why does Monday suck?

February 8, 2010

Notes from the weekend

My old Honda came down with a cracked windshield last week, so I had to call my insurance carrier to place a claim. The South Asian lady on the other end of the line was very polite, very professional and very well-scripted. Since they’re typically dealing with people who are reporting damage and injuries of one sort or another, they’ve been trained to express a sympathetic tone at mention of the accident. At each mention of the accident. 

She went through a long list of questions about my claim, which required me to repeat several times that I had a small fissure in my glass. Each time I mentioned it, she replied carefully, “I’m so sorry to hear of your loss.” 

The first time I said “thanks.” The next time I said, “Oh, it’s not so bad.” By the third time, I was getting pretty annoyed at her pre-programmed compassion, and became tempted to amp up my response. 

“You have no idea how painful this is for me,” I wanted to say. “I’ve had that windshield ever since I bought this car back in 2001. Every day I looked through it at oncoming traffic, and every day it allowed my vision to pass through, even though I’m sure there were mornings when it would rather have been opaque than transparent. We had a very special relationship, and now it’s gone. Gone! It can never be replaced. 

“But if it can, I’ll have the car outside my home, located at 384 Brookside Drive, and can be there between 1:30 and 4 p.m. for the Autoglass replacement guys.” 


Spent Sunday working (again). Note to management: When the men’s room runs out of paper towels, toilet paper is NOT considered an acceptable substitute. What kind of way is this to run a Fortune 500 company?  


I see the Animal Planet network showed the “Puppy Bowl” again yesterday. This annual bit of genius counter-programming to the Super Bowl involves numerous playful young dogs cavorting on a green carpet painted like a football field. I wonder if the Puppy Who played at halftime?  


This year it was Pete Townsend’s turn to have a wardrobe malfunction during the halftime show. He had to constantly flip back the edge of his cardigan to keep it from interfering with his trademark guitar strokes, and then every time he jumped, we got to see his pasty sixty-something midriff. The head scarf he borrowed from Axl Rose and the fedora he borrowed from your hipster cousin further confused those who expected to see the seminal guitar hero and instead witnessed the reincarnation of Elvis Costello’s dad. Still, a great show. 

And they had fireworks! 

As for the ads, I’d like to thank all the old people (Betty White, Abe Vigoda, Jim McMahon), all the midgets and all the animals for allowing themselves to be run over. And to all the scruffy late-twenty-something protagonists of just about every commercial, thanks for being so cool and giving my son such a high level of slackery to strive for. 

And this just in: Queen Latifah has finally finished singing “America the Beautiful.” 


If you sit next to someone all day at work and barely speak to him, why do you have to say “hi” when you encounter him the bathroom?  


Another bizarre news story out of my adopted home state of South Carolina this week. Workers at a Columbia-area KFC arrived in the morning to find a car already waiting at the drive-thru window. When the driver did not respond to requests to take his order, the manager investigated and found the man dead in the driver’s seat.  

I think I was behind this guy in the line at McDonald’s last week.  


Shouldn’t our federal education policy leave at least some children behind? At least for the sake of future Wal-Marts.  


Speaking of America’s favorite big-box retailer, I overheard a couple of people talking in their seagull-infested parking lot the other day. (Just driving by — I swear). “The worst thing about working at Wal-Mart would be having to be nice to the people who shop there,” said the first man. “I don’t think the employees see that as an issue,” observed the second.  


And what is the deal with all the seagulls in the parking lot anyway? The birds presumably have a choice between floating softly on a sea breeze above a picturesque harbor, and eating garbage disgorged from people’s cars in Wal-Mart parking lots. And they choose the latter? Maybe it’s a South Carolina thing.  


Before the Super Bowl, the airwaves were filled with predictions of results for the big game. This always seemed like a pointless exercise to me. No one can tell with any certainty what’s going to happen, and anyone can make as good a guess as anyone else.  

That’s why I’m going to try something a little different. Instead of a prediction, I’m going to make a post-diction: New Orleans 37, Indianapolis 21.  


What exactly is the point of having Jesus' evil twin brother selling insurance all over the internet?


Tearful quote of the week, from a visibly upset mistress of Tiger Woods at her press conference: “I’ve come forward because I think it’s wrong to make a golf ball with my face on it.” She said she was really uncomfortable stepping into the public eye like that, but she’s doing it for all the other women out there, including daughters yet unborn, who may one day face the trauma of having their faces put on golf balls.  

And also, there’s the forthcoming book she wrote.  


Interesting story in the press this week about the so-called “greying of the blogosphere.” Apparently, keeping a blog has become something more likely to be done by older people, while the younger generation invests its time and energy into short forms like Facebook and Twitter. So once again, I find myself at the cutting edge of trend-killing.  


Have you ever noticed how tiresome observational humor has become?  


The safety committee at work came up with the very reasonable concern that electric space heaters could be a fire hazard. With highly variable temperature conditions throughout our office, some people were using company-provided heaters to stay warm. Somebody accidentally left theirs on one evening, so now we have a written standard policy and a “check-out” procedure for heaters.  

At the beginning of each shift, if you want a heater you have to sign a clipboard list indicating the date, heater number, time out and time in. The system is periodically audited by a mid-level manager.  

“Your safety is our number one concern,” explains the sign at the heater depository. Then it adds, somewhat off-topic I think, “Please be aware of others.”  

Incidentally, these small appliances feature the latest in modern design. They are so stylish, I believe the “space” actually refers to outer space, where their elegance would make them right at home. They even project an eerie red light onto the floor in front of them that indicates a danger zone of possible fire danger. Makes them look like a cousin of R2-D2, who was also available for checkout on the Millennium Falcon, as I recall.  

"Beep beep," says R2's cousin

Fake News: NFL writers search for feel-good story

January 26, 2010

MIAMI (Jan. 25) — With the matchup now set for pro football’s Super Bowl, members of the media have begun their desperate annual search for the “up close and personal” angle that will portray aggressive hulking millionaires as the kind of human beings we can all relate to, even though we’re pitifully inferior to them.

Unfortunately for sportswriters, family and friends of NFL players are generally in good health, thanks to of modern medical techniques that keep most people from hovering near death. Colts wide receiver Pierre Garcon’s parents are originally from Haiti, a promising lead in light of the tragedy that struck that nation. But it’s expected that by the February game, the devastating Caribbean earthquake will be so Jan. 12, and therefore out of the news cycle. Saints quarterback Drew Brees knew a guy who knew a guy who thought he had AIDS there for a minute, but it turned out he just had smudged some toner on his face.

Preliminary reports by writers already investigating players’ backgrounds hint at some of what we could be seeing in the run-up to the Big Game.

The spotlight could be falling on the ill-fated brother of Colts QB Peyton Manning, a young man named Eli who has endured numerous severe beatings in the last five months while in New York. The younger Manning had hoped to carve out a career for himself in the NFL, but instead ended up being repeatedly ambushed by street-wise toughs despite a contingent of burly but inept bodyguards.

“It’s a really sad story,” said ESPN writer John Rich. “He had such a promising future a few years back, but it all came crashing down.”

Saints cornerback Malcolm Jennings might do a good job arousing sympathy. Several in his immediate family have seen recent hardship, including a brother who lost his cell phone, a nephew who got short-changed by a vending machine, and a health scare recently experienced by his father.

“He had a thing on his neck that was kind of crusty and misshapen, like a scab but yellow around the edges,” said a friend of the family. “We thought for a while it might be malignant. It wasn’t.”

Colts tight end Justin Snow has a sister who was thought to be battling cancer. Snow said she received a note from her doctor following an annual physical that she needed to get treatment for a “canker,” but the physician’s handwriting was so bad she thought it said “cancer.”

“I was really worried there for a day or so, and I thought about dedicating the NFC championship game to her,” Snow said. “Fortunately, the confusion was cleared up pretty quickly. Good thing too, because I didn’t get into the game since I’m not that good.”

Saints linebacker Marvin Mitchell actually did lose his mother to heart disease about ten years ago, though he was in junior high school at the time and no one could foresee he’d later be in such a premier game.

“I’ll always remember her final words. She said ‘ouch, cardiomyopathy sure does hurt.’ I’ll remember that forever,” Mitchell said. “I only wish she could’ve been here with me now so I could use her to get the sympathy of millions of Americans who will watch the pregame show.”

Like Garcon, Colts offensive tackle Charlie Johnson has a heart-rending Haiti connection. While on a honeymoon cruise in 2006, an on-shore excursion to an exclusive island off the coast of Cap Haitien had to be cancelled when not enough people signed up for it. Later that same day, the ship had some problems with its stabilizer, causing the deck to roll excessively in a mild storm.

“It almost felt like an earthquake. Sort of,” Johnson said. “I know the self-leveling pool table in the Windjammer Lounge was completely out of commission.”

Saints defensive end Bobby McCray is a native of New Orleans and still lives year-round in the city that was flooded by Hurricane Katrina. He has voiced strong support for the rebuilding of neighborhoods in the city’s hard-hit Ninth Ward, especially since he drives through there on the way to practice yet can no longer take a favorite short-cut.

“Those folks have been through a lot,” McCray said. “If they could only get that Bypass Bridge fully repaired, the whole community could be opened up to people like me passing through.”

There’s still a chance a more sympathetic story can be found before press coverage hits its peak by the end of this week. There was an unconfirmed report that one player had a cousin who was born without a head, and that another player feared his playing days could be cut short because he has severe osteoporosis and brittle bone disease, preventing him from ever blocking or tackling. The Colts defensive line coach thinks he hit something with his car in the dark the other night, and hopes it was only a dog or a deer.

“Every year we go through this search process, and every year we eventually find someone who’s vaguely sympathetic,” said writer Rich. “We can always use a player’s pet if we have to.”

(What was) live blogging of the Super Bowl

February 2, 2009

     For those of you who missed all the excitement last night, I spent a good portion of the Super Bowl live-blogging my impressions of the event. It seemed like a good idea in advance: watching all the TV proceedings and publishing my comments every 15 minutes or so. It was a lot harder than I thought it’d be, and detracted significantly from my enjoyment of an (eventually) thrilling game.


     I ended up posting ten different commentaries before running out of interest at the beginning of the second half. I’ve compiled the most trenchant of these in today’s post for those who were too involved in other activities (watching the game, partying with friends, enjoying life itself) to be spending time online.

  • Our new president once again made a good impression with the viewing public in his interview with Matt Lauer before the game. Dressed in a casual shirt and looking relaxed, he chatted about his first days in the White House, his work on the economic crisis, and how “people may think I’m cool but they should see my daughter.” I was a little disappointed though that they didn’t introduce him the same way they introduced the players — that video head shot where the player is first seen looking down at his shirt, then raises his head and smiles at the camera as he announces “Barack Obama, sitting president, Harvard University.”
  • Well, we’ve waited through all the hype and now it’s almost game time. The pregame show has just completed its fifth hour and the commentators have made their picks: five selected the Steelers and five picked the Cardinals. Most unbelievable of all is that they actually have TEN guys providing their insight.
  • This just in – Kurt Warner is clean-shaven for the game and, in an unrelated story, the Hyundai Genesis is the 2009 North American Car of the Year.
  • There’s a guy on the Steelers whose last name is “Colon.” I know former running back Jerome Bettis was called “The Bus”; I wonder if Colon’s nickname is “The Semi.”
  • The Terrible Towels are much in evidence, with the majority of the fans apparently from Pittsburgh. The Arizona fans have either opted for the Lightly-Regarded Linens or the Formidable Facecloths, but it’s hard to tell which for sure.
  • Time for the community outreach public service announcements, where players pretend to like underprivileged children just long enough for it to be caught on camera.
  • I think Faith Hill has had a makeup malfunction. Her eyelids are a shade of blue not normally seen on the human anatomy, except maybe for those who have been deeply bruised. She added a “God bless America” and a “wooo” onto the end of her rendition of “America the Beautiful”.
  • Look! It’s the flight crew of the USAir jet that landed in the Hudson River! Fortunately, they’re on the field and not involved in the ceremonial flyover.
  • Gen. David Petreas of the central military command is tossing the coin. Glad he was able to pull himself away from that whole homeland defense gig for something more important.
  • They promise that after this next set of commercials – “we PROMISE” – the game will actually start.
  • Some woman just quoted somebody named “F. Scotts Fitzgerald” about there being no second acts in American popular culture. Good thing he died so long ago that he didn’t see how wrong that prediction was going to be.
  • Second play of the game and it’s a run for three yards. I think I’m bored already.
  • All this talk of penetration and offensive packages is very disturbing while I’m trying to watch this game with my family.
  • Rothelisbergenberger (sp?) just leaned in for the touchdown … no wait, it’s a challenge on whether or not he crossed the goal line. Nope, he didn’ quite make it after all. Sounds like a good time for a commercial on beer and its drinkability.
  • I really like the look of that Audi in the commercial just completed. Can I have one since I mentioned it on my blog?
  • It’s the first penalty marker of the game, and it’s on the Cardinals who are now on offense. Then the Cardinals fumble and barely recover to gain half a yard. Troy Palamalamalu (sp?) is having trouble with his contact lens on the sideline.
  • I do like the part where the players introduce themselves and mention the college they went to, if any. One guy simply says he’s got “swagger” instead. I’m guessing he left school early rather than choosing to pursue post-graduate work in genetic engineering.
  • Maybe this would be a good time to mention the score, in the unlikely event someone reading this even cares. The Steelers made a field goal after they lost that challenge, so they lead by 3-0. Back to you, John.
  • What’s with all these players with the long hair? You can’t even read the name on the back of their uniforms. Back when I was that age, why … oh, yeah, we had long hair too. Never mind.
  • The always-exciting false start penalty on the Steeler offense. Glad they showed the replay to confirm the start was indeed false.
  • Hey, that’s funny – they have the Potatoheads driving in a commercial. Mrs. P. is mouthing off at Mr. P. and suddenly he reaches over and knocks her mouth off. Just as my teenage son predicted at the beginning of the commercial. That was for Bridgestone Tires, by the way. Now there’s one for Castrol motor oil. I wonder what you use these products on, considering there’s no mention about GM, Ford or other American cars anywhere to be seen.
  • We’ve returned to action and there’s a skirmish. John Madden says Hines Ward likes to get physical, even though receivers don’t usually get in on the fights. They’ll discuss third and goal while we go to another commercial.
  • My wife just called me to dinner and I said “wait a second, Pittsburgh is about to make a touchdown.” “Make”? What am I, a girl?
  • TOUCHDOWN STEELERS!!! I think that makes it 94-0 now.
  • Suddenly, dinner is looking a lot more exciting than this game. I’ll take a break and return shortly. You’re reading live blogging from the Super Bowl on, you poor thing.
  • Did you see that 100-yard interception return just now? I didn’t, because I was finishing my dinner, but I’ve seen about five replays. While we’re waiting for the review … the ruling on the field stands! The Steelers will have a comfortable lead going into halftime, 17-7. Now, for the real show.
  • What’s with all the texting we’re now required to do during half the commercials? Text this to that, text that to this. Can’t we just relax and watch Danika Patrick continue with her shower?
  • I love it when defensive linemen record a sack, and they’re so not used to celebrating that they instead go into this exaggerated stepping thing that looks so dorky. They need to practice this more during the offseason, maybe take a few cues from all those flamboyant receivers.
  • Enough with the five-guy panel analysis already. Every time another prominent coach retires, he gets added to the panel. I still don’t understand why Matt Millen, the genius behind the Detroit Lions winless season, gets to give his opinion.
  • Chris Collinsworth has this one really thick grey hair growing out of one of his ears. No wait, that’s his earphone wire.
  • It’s Bruuuuuuuce. He’s really starting to show his age a little, as he jumps around on the equipment. First song of the 12-minute set is “Tenth Avenue Freezeout.” I would’ve preferred “Born to Run” but that’d probably take the whole allotted time. I hope he doesn’t do a medley with every song truncated.
  • Clarence Clemmons is dressed in a very slimming black floor-length Matrix-style coat that belies his status as the “Big Man.”
  • Nooo – it is a shortened version of “Born to Run.” How can you ride through mansions of glory in suicide machines in just 12 minutes? Well, I guess it’s still pretty good. He still gets to die with Wendy in an ever-lasting kiss. 1-2-3-4…!
  • This gospel number by Bruce with the Arizona Cardinal cheerleaders singing in robes in the background is not one I’m familiar with. Of course, I haven’t bought a Springsteen record in probably 25 years, so what do I know?
  • We Conan fans are more excited by Max and Labamba and the rest of the Late Show Band in the background than we are by Bruce and the lovely Patti and the even lovelier Little Steven, who’s not looking so little with that jowl thing he’s got going.
  • Pretty clever to have the fake umpire declaring a delay of game on the E Street Band. Now Bruce and the boys are headed off to Disney World (probably got an extra $25K for that little shout-out). “The National Football League thanks you for watching the Bridgestone Halftime Show.” Yep, I’ll remember those tires long after I’ve forgotten that performance.
  • There’s a kid who’s bringing a football out to the official, as he apparently won some sort of contest. I can’t believe he’s not sick or handicapped or dying and still gets to go to the Super Bowl as a kid.
  • Okay, the Super Bowl halftime show is over, and most of the good ads have been aired, so I’m just about done. When they show the local insert that advertises the city transit system, you know they’ve played out the good ads.
  • The teams are back on the field and there’s still buzzing about that huge interception return to end the first half. Either that, or my high-def TV is going on the fritz again.
  • I can’t believe I’ve stayed up til 8:30. This is a really late night for me, considering I had to get up at 4 this morning. I actually got a chance to work some overtime this weekend, for the first time in quite a while. I hardly had any time to play online Scrabble – that’s how busy we were. We’re experiencing a peak in activity because of the end of the fiscal year a few weeks back and now we have to help prepare all this financial documentation of how and why various companies tanked this year. Oh yeah, somebody just rushed for a four-yard gain.
  • Time for some ice cream and a sleeping pill. I’ll check out the score in the morning. I’m too old for this stuff. Goodnight, everybody.