By Tom Cushing
Yeah, I watched it ? Superbowl NotesUploaded: Feb 3, 2014
Okay, so despite my recent protestations to the contrary, we did watch the Annual Extravaganza: here are a few thoughts on the NFL Championship Game just concluded. In the spirit of acquiring a certain gentlemen's periodical for its literary merit, only a few will involve the visual splendors of the actual contest.
* Getting that part out of the way first, it turns out that the 49ers are a pretty good team, having stretched the Seattles to the breaking point in their own asylum. I do enjoy watching excellence, and the Seahawks were utterly superior in every phase, perhaps in defensive preparation most of all. Denver was reduced to a pity-patter of two-yard passes, lots of them -- and when their players were tackled, they went backwards. Usually, if the final teams played ten times, the championship loser might win three or four games; after last night, it would be hard to predict the Broncos would win even one.
* Halftime: is that it? Bruno Mars was a weak pop imitation of Motown past, with fewer memorable lyrics. It was flashy and completely derivative. I understand why HE wasn't paid to perform, but I hope the waves of made-up enthusiasts around the stage at least got minimum-wage ? they earned it.
* The NFL PR machine was in full bloom, wrapping football in Americana, served with apple-pie and home-made ice cream ("a la mode" would be just too French). Endless military salutes, TWO patriotic pre-game anthems AND a flyover (were those drones?). Please hold the outrage until after you consider that this was all cynically done ? not for love of country a la (sorry!) Actual National Holiday, but for the commercial motivations of a sport that finds itself under fire for its brain-scrambling side-effects. I just felt manipulated. Baseball is the American game, as Walt Whitman intoned long ago, with nobody paying him for the endorsement.
* That the national anthem was performed by an opera soprano, rather than a pop diva trying see how many notes could be injected into the melody, was an improvement. But the slow meter that turns it into a dirge is excruciating, albeit it allows the camera to linger over those nice boys mouthing the words, hands over hearts. Up-tempo please!
* With the game's outcome a foregone conclusion by half-time, or twelve seconds into the third-quarter anyway, does that help or hurt the later commercials? Given the social setting of the event, it's not likely that parties adjourned early for lack of competition on the field. It seems to me that the second-half breaks in the action got relatively more interesting as the evening's only sources of drama.
* How quickly times change: it was only recently that the WingNut Outrage Industry labored overtime on that nice interracial Cheerios family. This year, as the cereal reprised that old joke about the kid preferring a puppy over a coming younger sib ? barely a ripple.
* And yet, lest that be miss-interpreted as a hopeful sign, the 'Murkin twitterverse waxed apoplectic over the multilingual rendition of America the Beautiful. So much for "crowning thy good with brotherhood?" (corone el bien thy con la hermandad?).
* The Dylan ad from Chrysler was memorable as a thematic follow-on to its earlier Eminem rap (who has actual Detroit roots ? were the MC5 unavailable? Bob Seger?). By now, I expect old rockers to sell-out, and at least this one had a kinda/sorta patriotic theme: buy American-made. It was also pretty well-done, but that said ? he and Charlie Sheen look more like each other by the minute, which is not good for either of them.
* Sex didn't sell, much. Well, there was the yogurt spill leer -- and Scarlett Johannsen's lingering straw. Go-Daddy and Doritos changed teams.
* Finally, in a matter close to my heart, commercial animals did pretty well ? except for creepy Jack-in-the-Box suggestion that pigs can't wait to commit themselves to your burger, and that creepier attention-wh ? err, hound Joe Namath in a coat that looked much better on its original owners. The Budweiser adoption ad was no-end-of-cute (I might have preferred a canine of an older blend, but appreciate the small favor). The Dober-hwa-hwa was hilarious as a send-up of puppy mills and dog shows -- and Sara MacLachlan was brilliant in her cameo. Only trouble is ? I can't recall which car company sponsored it, only that the vehicle was "red." Oops.
So, are you ready for some BASEBALL? Pitchers and catchers report in eleven days -- Let's go, Oakland!