Super Bowl Monday II

A guided tour of America…

This is PART TWO of my extended riff on watching Super Bowl XLVII. Please click HERE to read Part One.  

11:25 a.m., Dalian, China. Jimmy, get out of the bathroom! Jimmy! JIMMY! 109 yards in 11 clock seconds, according to The Heads, went Jacoby Jones with the 2nd half kickoff. In the pantheon forever. the unbreakable record. Rayvens 28, Forty-winkers 6. (Cheap shot. Sorry. Also, the return was recalibrated at 108 yards. So there’s room for improvement. Whew.)

Off to the races from the 2nd half kick-off, Jacoby Jones gallops.

11:30. The lights go down in the Superdome, and the Three Wise Men and I share a collective Uh-oh! Talk turns to jihadists and fear-mongering possibility and Black Sunday – the movie – and this is the way the world goes.

11:32. The realtor as hero: the Century 21 Man saves the wedding. (We are all heroes, insofar as we support the consumer economy.) Blah. I’m getting tired of this. The thrill is gone. But the Blackberry commercial got my attention: “In 30 seconds, it’s easier to show you what it can’t do.” Great song, easy-going, in the background. Jimmy thinks it was Pitbull. I don’t know what that means. (Matters not, as the song was “Who Knows” by Marion Black; the Wise Men and Me ain’t got no soul.) Oh, my goodness, and Air Force One has been de-tailed! People have been sucked out of a plane at high altitude and we are all to believe that they are still alive! (How can fact and science and logic match up to Marvel-at-the-Movies?) It’s Iron Man 3. Coming May 3, coming to save the POTUS and his high flyers and redeem our boredom. (I was quite surprised to have had a good time at Iron Man, before it needed a ‘1’ behind it: good acting, and snappy dialogue along with the CGI. I’m not sure there are enough new ideas, in the same way that the Star Trek reboot will suffer the inevitable sequel Scarecrow disease: no brain.)

11:33. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, CBS’s voices of choice, can’t be heard because of the blackout. Sideline reporter Steve Tasker doesn’t know WHAT the hell to say. Thank goodness for commercials.

11:35. “It’s Febberary…Febuary…Febwuary.” Isn’t it funny how nobody can actually pronounce that month? A little, I guess. Out-takes are always fun. Subway’s is doing something in February that we should all be very excited about. (No mention, then, of restoring the lost inch to their alleged footlongs. Scandal.). Oh, and earlier, various stars (largely unrecognized by me) congratulated the famous Jared on the 15th anniversary of his sub-inspired weight loss. An iconic tale of modern America: man beats obesity and keeps it beat. Heroes are everywhere. (Jared did not look well to me, when I replayed the spot next day.)

11:37. We go to Solomon Wilcox on the other sideline. He is much better, had some time to think while the commercials were on. Used the word “anomalies”, winning my heart. And the HANDS! Did you see the hands on that guy? (Vague memory that he was a wideout or tight end. Makes sense.) We go to James Brown. “Getting the lights fully on

“What just happened?” wonder the Niners, not for the first time.

may well be about a 15-minute process…”, he reports, but we have the power of NFL Game Pass! I’d have liked to hear everybody stretching, umming, pretending to have useful things to say, but SuperJimmy is fast-forwardng through the delay. (Which turned out to be over half an hour.) Roy had run down the hall to his own real-time apartment, and reports, “Fellas, it gets better!” “NO, NO, don’t say anything!” “Just that,” Roy grinned. So I guess we’ll keep watching. Ha.

11:47. “Pay attention, now, boys,” says Wise Roy. Thanks to Game Pass, we have gone back to the future and we’re playin’ ball again, and faster’n’ them lame live-action dunces. This ol’ ball coach was strategizing. How do you handle a delay like this? It’s another half-time break just after the first one, and the first one is extra-long because of the show. The players are pros, but it’s a distracting atmosphere. Stretch, warm up, and so on, but how to prepare their thinking?

11:49. Bud Light. Where are we goin’ with that big overstuffed chair? Ah. Back to Voodoo Stevie Land, but in case he wasn’t sexy enough, now there’s a sultry voodoo mama wondering how badly they really want that curse. (I still waffle on one of the Essential Questions of the day: we know Steveland Morris made big coin selling “Superstition” to Bud, but did he actually get to play himself? I watched it again the next day, and there was a little nod of the head that said to me, It IS Stevie Wonder. And there wasn’t much for him to do, so it’s possible. Do I want that cackling old Buddha-witch with the dark shades to have been him? I think I did, and I found it was the former young Mr. Morris, and the mama was Zoe Saldana.)  Breaking news: there’s still time to get on-line to see “who will win the Coke race?” I’m breathless.

11:54. “When you’re down, you gotta make great catches!” opines Reverend Phil, CBS’s laconic colour guy. Not one of his brighter moments, but Simms is listenable in commentary. Come on, Crabtree, catch that thing! Perfect long ball from the Kap, catchable but not easy. Ancient preferences for the tan and red may be surfacing, or maybe I just want this to be a game again. Sports are like life: it’s better when you care what happens. (How was that for jockosophy, Mr. Simms?)

11:56. Tracy Morgan and lots of cheesy background lights. (I think it was Morgan.) He lists things that Americans have changed, all trivial (the shaping of chicken into nuggets, for one. It’s a rant that looks suspiciously, to this Canuck, like the Molson I AM CANADIAN! spiel from a few years ago, though it’s not selling beer or mocking Americans. Well, actually, it was mocking Americans, rather bitterly if you don’t credit the comedic premise, including the hopes they had for Obama to bring Change. Disappointment is a thick sauce.). But his call is mocking, over-the-top, slacker irony: buy a sports energy drink from Mio, because then you can squirt in your own sugar/electrolyte mix in any colour and amount you like! You da Man! You da decider(Not what Mr. Morgan actually said, only better.) Then came Morgan’s raving call to consumer arms: “Change the sports drink ! Change America!” This is what change is. Yes, it’s self-mocking, but still incredibly cynical. Depressing. I need a happy pill. (And it came, via an AXE ad, of all things. I’ve hated every previous one I’ve seen, because they’re so robustly degrading to women, but this one was a little wittier than what I’ve seen before. Sure, the girl in question is bikini-ed and free of the tiniest flicker of intelligence. So, there’s that, still. Somehow, though, it was SO ridiculous — and not especially crass — that it made me laugh.) The lifeguard dives in to save the damsel in distress, but doesn’t – misdirection number one – instead he punches the lights out of the marauding shark. Ha! He saves the limp and adoring maiden – well, there’s a quaint old concept, but who am I to question the virginity of hungry-eyed beach babes? – but her eyes wander left to see another man, and she races to him as he removes his…space helmet? Misdirection number two, and I didn’t see it coming. “Nothing beats an astronaut.” They have a new line of masculine hygiene products called Apollo. Thanks for the warning.

(Surely to goodness there must have been some football in here somewhere! Not according to my hastily lap-tapped draft. Hmm. WAIT! Right! On-line detection reminds me that I missed the 49ers first after-the-outage touchdown. Well, it was a hyper-efficient drive, finishing off with a 31-yard scoring pass, Kap to Crabtree. Maybe I was talking too much; I remember telling the Wise Men how Kaepernick had a whole different look about him once 28-6 was on the board. So often, the “nothing to lose” scenario helps an athlete stop thinking and get flowing, and he sure had that flow in the 3rd and early 4th quarters. Your alleged football-speaking and games-loving correspondent apologizes for his obsession with the friggin’ Super Bowl ADS!! Me and a couple of hundred million others. Mea culpa. The Rayvens lead was then 28-13.)

(No time recorded. Stamina losing. Can’t – quite – remember. Memory — fading. Fading. Must. Focus. Pass. The chips.)

And now Kia. “Respect the tech.” A nerdy guy (another one) is breathing on the car in the Showroom of the Future, with robotic bimbos with bionic legs up to there looking on without expression. (Think: 2013 — and beyond! — masturbatory tech-boy version of a blow-up doll for the lonely.) BotBabe reaches her limit, and kicks the snot out of the guy. Hahahahahahahaha.  (Not.) Gildan T-shirts ask us to believe that a guy escaping the next morning from a one-night stand — I’m not sure why he was so eager to get away, unless it’s just the it’s-different-if-you’re-still-there-in-the-morning, commitment-phobic run-of-the-manboy-mill thing — would risk (risk?) waking the young lovely to get back his T-shirt that she had slipped on after bonking. Okaaayy.  Oh, and another new beer launch: Beck’s Sapphire with a Saving Nemo-style blackfish crooning a love song to the red-jewelled label while swimming around the bottle. That was weird. What’s the target audience for that? Now, just when you thought the world might be safe from the latest song and dance craze, there we are, PSY and his sunglasses and suit, dancing with pistachios and “Crackin’ Gangnam Style”! (It was all rather Mr. Peanut-esque, except that these were ultra-leggy Ms. Pistachios. Mr. PSY has obviously forgiven the Americans their imperialist and consumerist ways, it seems, and it is a pretty infectious ditty. Apart from the Mr. Peanut nod, this spot piggy-backs on several commercial traditions. First, the pistachio industry has united to encourage its generic product, much like the dairy marketing boards did with “Got Milk?” It is still rare to have ads for a non-name-brand commodity. Almonds have been in there pitching their virtues recently, pork and beef farmers have had their shots (as if this was needed in carniverous North America!) and egg marketers were in there long before, when I was a kid, with their “Get Crackin’!” promotion. This ad obviously rips it off, so I presume there’s some limitation on how long Big Eggs could hang on to the trademark. It goes back to an older tradition, too: it’s only a year or two ago that I learned that the folk wisdom “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” was actually concocted by a consortium of apple growers.)

12:09. Here they come! The Niners ride a big punt return – hey, that was Ted Ginn Jr. He lives! – on a short drive. A real-live tackle to save the TD by a punter. (“He was a linebacker in high school!” reports a well-researched Mr. Nance. It’s not all bad that there are two weeks before this game.) Kaepernick is rolling, running, ripping throws wherever he wants. Gore scores. What a good back he is! Not a burner, but powerful, nimble, good decision-maker. And what a block by the fullback, 46, right, that’s Delaney Walker, and his helmet didn’t even come off this time. (Odd that in a time of growing concussion-awareness guys are wearing their buckets pretty loose. Must’ve been five or six occasions with a guy rolling around on the turf with his egg exposed.)

12:11 Hey, that’s Stevie Nicks making money from Budweiser. Good on ya, girl! “What’s that song, Roy? That is Fleetwood Mac, right?” “Yeah. ‘Landslide.’” A boy and his horse. Budweiser. A little equine-erotic for me, though. (N.B. I may not have been absolutely paying attention. This, in the day’s most important result for much of the North American public, was rated Number One on the Admeter! A colt is born, not just a colt but a Clydesdale!

Yup, we have a logo for that.

Anheuser-Busch wins the ad competition again, making it 12 times, according to the most esteemed scientific journals. Pepsi wins a lot, too, and it’s a two-horse race – but only one of them has A Clydesdale! The mythological significance of these admittedly magnificent animals in their relation to the recreational drinking of fermented-grain extracts is a sign of genius, or of profound social malaise and the need for a new cultural narrative. As a non-consumer of fermented barley and hops, I recuse myself from this consultation.)

12:13. “Since the power outage, it’s been all Niners!” Mr. Nantz has noticed. This is the story of the game now (and whether Beyonce might have caused it with the half-time pyrotechnics. I understand this was not the case. No terrorism, either. Furthermore, no actual explanation, from what I’ve read since, unless you like conspiracy theories.) Kap gets calm. He’s in the zone now, but Flacco hears him coming and he’s not just handing the ball off. And Ray Rice, Baltimore’s ace running back, fumbles again! Gosh, I feel sick for the kid. Suddenly, after a fine start to his career, he’s put the ball on the carpet five times in his playoff career, whereas he rarely fumbles during the heavier workload of the regular season. What a label to wear. (I mean the label of “goat”, the guy who’s poor under pressure, the Loser. This was the term we used before Ali and Jordan transferred GOAT into “Greatest Of All Time”, which has now become a tired and overdone argument in nearly every sport. That didn’t stop the Niners’ Randy Moss from GOATing himself in front of the media hordes in New Orleans, and where was HE in that game? Pretty much invisible. I read a headline that 49er alumni were ripping him for lack of effort, not exactly a new accusation against (he-who-often-gathers) Moss.) Ray Rice will be vilified and remembered for too long if the Rayvens lose.

12:17. San Francisco takes advantage of the fumble to move into field-goal position. (Kicker David Akers had been a source of worry for 49er fans with his inconsistent kicking and…) Missed the FG! Uh-oh. (Another old-fashioned goat stew had already been simmering on the 49er side of the field.) Penalty flag down, contacting the kicker, and Akers drills the re-boot. PUT those 3 points up. 28-23 Baltimore. Game (still and again) on!

(And there must’ve been ads in there, too, but I missed ‘em, I guess. Turnabout, fair play. I blame the Wise Men and their WiseCracks™.)

12:18. Joe the Throw. I love how the NFL has accepted – as the CFL has known for decades, as had Football Professor Bill Walsh’s 49ers and all his “west coast offence” disciples – that the old three things can happen when you throw the ball, and two of ‘em are bad ideas are, well, old. It looks like The Other Harbaugh (John) might allow Flacco to play to win, and not to not-lose, to play so carefully that they sabotage (and forget!) their own earlier success. Let’s see.

Jimmy “Loquacious” D’s off topic again, talking about the people that run our university’s residence for foreign staff, which is where he, Aaron and Roy live. He had a bon mot, though he speaks only American: he describes the head honcho of the complex as “like a football team’s defensive coordinator, not an OC, because her job is to just prevent anything from happening or changing, not actually making things right”. There was a related conversation about how redundant and opaque Chinese bureaucracy and decision-making processes were, and Roy put an exclamation point on it: “That’s the whole point of Chinese inefficiency: if they were efficient in this country, they’d have 30% unemployment!” (I was trying to watch a football game, and a philosophy department broke out.)

Three Men and a Blogger. L-R Wise Roy, Yours Truly, Mad Jimmy. Silent Aaron is in the cheap seats.

12:23. Leon Sandcastle is born. Deion Sanders, unable to bear sportscasters’ opinions, and finding himself unknown to a foxy hairstylist — “Did I play footballPlease.”, dons a wig and walrus ‘stache and a new name, attends the NFL combine and then gets drafted. The NFL runs a cute little spot to get its salivating demographic pumped for the off-season, highlighted by the combine (where prospective college football factory, um, graduates get graded on their physical attributes) and of course the NFL draft. (The NFL has marketing genius. Such a promo for the player draft is received eagerly, and Wild-eyed Jimmy, for one, is pumped about hope for his St. Louis Rams. Who’s not buying hope? There is a large constituency of NFL fans who would have been almost impatient for the season to be over, so geeked up do they get about the off-season. Religion has no off-season, brothers and sisters.) The ad serves another purpose, a bit of humorous redemption-by-association for much-criticized Commissioner/Tyrant for Life Roger Goodell. He leans over on an imagined draft day as the Afro-bushy, fake-mustachioed “Leon” displays his new team’s jersey and asks, “Have we met before?” “Don’t think so,” says a camera-happy Leon/Deion.

12:30. The Rayvens were moving, but the 49ers D stiffens late, and Baltimore kicks a field goal.  31-23 Rayvens. Lots of time left in the fourth quarter, but speaking of time, we’re three and a half hours in, even with the Game Pass transport past most of the black-out. And nobody has yet said, “Since the power went off, the 49ers have been playing lights out football!” (So I did.)

12:31 “So God made a farmer.” On the 8th day, so it says. What is this? Superb, mainly black-and-white photography of aspects of the farm life. A sturdy, bluntly eloquent, well-aged voice says the farmer can do things like “make harness outa haywire”. God said, “I need somebody strong enough…somebody gentle enough.” This is gorgeous. “Somebody who’d bale a family together…” And it’s long. What is it? Wow. Silent Aaron weighs in with plaintive disappointment: “That was so great, and it’s all to sell trucks?” ‘Fraid so,

One farmer.

young feller. It was a Dodge RAM pickup commercial. Beautiful photography of real farmers (all men, I note later, but not all white, and I find myself absurdly grateful even if it was a token, because black guys can be farmers? A farmer could be a black guy? are nicely anti-stereotypical.) So gorgeous, and real poetry in the graceful, pungent wording. It really moved me, despite a little disgust at the source. (But where did I think it was going? Of COURSE it was an ad, but I pretended not to know that, I suppose. Hoping. Wondering. It remains a wonder-full thing to me, on many levels, and certainly has gotten a lot of attention and appreciation, and some criticism.) Such an anachronistic thing, too. Farmers? People still care about farmers? (There are farmers still in BeyonceWorld?) What‘s up with that? These are such OLD ideas. (On a second view the next day, I saw the name Paul Harveyin old-typewriter font early in the piece. He was a popular American radio newsman and host who died in 2009. It was his voice, a voice

The voice of “So God Made a Farmer”.

of traditional American values of independence and conservatism, an edited version of something he did on his show in the late 1970s – and gosh, some of these notions of the romance of the farm were old-fashioned and sentimental even then, yet it seems they can still strike a chord in hip’n’happenin’ people, at least those of a certain age. Didn’t much impress my 12-year-old, though. On second thought, I still love it, with its much-needed views of a man who is not only tough and resourceful and independent, but also deeply kind and gently reverent and fearlessly loving. It says a lot about the best of American ideals, and still offers an amazing amount to think about, especially in the context of a glitzy, entertainment-centred presentation of a children’s game that has become the chief American holy day. Bigger than Black Friday sales, even.)   

12:36. The 49ers run pretty, inventive misdirection plays. I enjoy seeing something other than the old standard formations and the seen-them-a-million times off-tackle handoffs or play-passes to the sidelines. Hey, the “GOAT” just caught a pass, 32 yards. That makes one. Not long after, Kaepernick scampers in from 15, “the longest run by a quarterback in Super Bowl history.” Wow. That record won’t last long, I suspect, with QBs like Kap and RGIII and Russell Wilson in the league. The NFL can change. (And as concussion awareness grows, the game’s lovers – and though I’ve grown away from it, as the hype and the brutality wearing me down over the years, I still count myself a lover of the game – had better hope that it can.) Of course they’re going for the two-point conversion, but a rushed Kap throws it away. Run, lad. Run! 31-29, Bad Guys.

12:40. “Babylandia”, according to the people marketing the KIA Sorrento, is one prudish Dad’s answer to his son’s “where do babies come from?” The planet in outer space where babies are made, animal babies too, so we double up on the cuteness factor as panda cubs and puppies and little blondies are rocketed and parachuted to earth. The kid’s too savvy, though. “Well, my friend says that babies come when mommies and daddies –” Nervous Dad immediately gives a voice-command to the super-tech Sorrento stereo: “UBU, play “The Wheels on the Bus”!” Saved by the stereo! (Sorry, but this is bizarre, too: we still imagine an America where birds’n’bees questions are painful, when why is that girl singing in her underwear, and why does she keep

Sasha Fierce, indeed.

pointing at her pee-pee place bum-bum?  might be more to the point. Answer me that, Modern Dad.) “The Kia Sorrento: it has an answer for everything.” Here’s juxtaposition: from consumer automotive comfort to this: “Show our heroes we stand by them.” These heroes are celebrated via the Wounded Warrior Project, helping returning soldiers get respect and assistance when they come home crippled. This is a socio-political minefield, so I’ll tread lightly. (Or just shut up about the entrenched militarism of the Excited States, lest people think I’m criticizing those who bleed trying to serve their country or at least find a way out of dead-end lives at home. And have you ever actually listened to the words of Springsteen’s “Born in the USA”? Shutting up now.)

12:45. Young DB Culliver is getting all the attention he craves, and a whole lot more than that. (He’ll be the latest athlete to very publicly volunteer, in an effort by his team and agent to redeem his tarnished, in his case with an LBGT-support group for troubled teens. Education never ends.) His pass interference penalty helps the Baltimores on a key drive. Goat horns growing. Some will say, “Karma, baby.” I just don’t think he knows very much, outside the lines. These are just kids, some of them.

12:50. Religious mania takes another ironic hit when young football fan gets sloppy with his nachos. “Dude, you got Montana on your shirt!” Yes, and the stain is, in Shroud of Turin style (or my toaster put Jesus on my Wonderbread! miraculosity), in the iconic image of The Greatest Joe, 49ers Super Bowl-hogging quarterback Montana. Buddy imagines all the wealth and fame that comes his way from “The Miracle Montana Stain”, and his house in

The Stain of Montana.

the middle of nowhere becoming MontanaLand, a site of eager national pilgrimage. (Do we doubt that football is the chief religion of America?) He is crushed by Tide detergent. Wife washed the sacred 49er jersey, bleaching his dreams. And then she smirks for the camera, “Go, Ravens!” (HERE is why we need a two-week hype-break before the SB, rather than just the usual 7 days between NFL contests: Tide no doubt had its idea-boards all ready, and once Baltimore/San Fran was the matchup, two weeks to get this written, cast, locationed, and shot. That’s Western Ingenuity at Work!) Again, mockery lives, not just fun at the expense of religious zealotry, but also at the dreamy impracticality of American men, and the ongoing laundry slavery of even sassy modern wives.)

12:53. Back to unscripted talents: Baltimore is on the move, and this Anquan Boldin is really great. What a third-and-one-catch; he was being held, but he is so strong, has such good hands and concentration. A wide receiver with that kind of power is a gift for Flacco, who just put the ball up where his guy might get it, but the other side can’t. Gutsy call, too! Oh, but his buddy Pitta just dropped a catchable pass, again on 3rd down. The Old WR in me grumbles about receivers not completing the deal when the QB puts the ball surgically in the only useful location, but it would have been a fine catch, though not spectacular. 49ers hold, Rayvens kick the FG. 34-29, and San Fran needs a touch to win. Cool. Super Bowls can be as interesting as the Grey Cup usually is.

12:56. Does Willem Dafoe ever get roles other than as Thin White (Evil) Dude? “Pleased to meet you”, a long-ago Mick Jagger sings (“hoo, hoo! hoo, hoo!”). (The boomers still rule the airwaves. “Sympathy for the Devil”: 1968, from the Beggars Banquet album. You’re welcome.) Dafoe, sharpened fingernails and slick lawyerly manner, as the Devil! (Voodoo and devils and tarts, oh my! We’re not watching football in Kansas anymore, Toto.) The Devil’s vision, not of sugarplums but of fame, endless sex, and untold amounts of money, comes from his “client” selling his soul to have a new car. (The credit crash doesn’t seem to discourage anyone much!) It’s as if the machine produces money instead of coming from it. The tempted young kid, providentially, sees the price sticker at $30,000 (oh, did you want tires with that? A radio?), and realizes he “can do this”, sans Satan. “This September, set your soul free…” by buying a Mercedes Benz. And football will be back, too.

1:00 p.m.-and-beyond. The game got tense, and then it got over. Conversations flew through and over and around my head. I hit the blogging wall around here, but I can report the following: I was hopeful, and my crimson shirt shone brightly as the 49ers marched for the touchdown they would need. They got so close. They had four plays from inside the ten-yard-line, and never looked to run Kaepernick once. This might be a spot where the Niners’ braintrust got a little mentally constipated, started grippin’ their sticks too tight, as the hockey guys say. Tension. One play in particular grabbed me, where Kap was rolling right and looking, looking, looking, but Baltimore had seven or eight defenders hanging about the endzone and not much pressure. It takes a Doug Flutie,  maybe, a sporting genius, but Kap didn’t have to throw that thing. Reverse field, says Coach Jay! I guess the clock was ticking in his head, and he thought he had to do it with his arm. Third and goal, third and game. Timeout. One last gasp. (They also ran the ball in a traditional way for two of those plays, which seemed a little too cautious for me. I am the Bill Walsh of Gridiron Hindsight, however. So are most of the blathering blowhards that dissected this game in bars, chat-rooms and on-line commentary on the commentary’s commentaries.) Yes, and it WAS pass interference on the last play! (It turned out to be a finer throw from Kaepernick than I had first thought, but the stripes weren’t going to call that; they’d allowed a lot of manhandling by defenders already, so the hankies stayed in the zebras’ pockets.) If I was as much of a San Francisco chauvinist as my wardrobe suggests, I’d have been hot about that non-call, but I’m past caring quite that much, and what a blessing that is. Release!

Samsung ad. The Next Big Thing. I recognize Seth Rogen (but from Take This Waltz, a non-comedic movie role – I liked him, and thought Michelle Williams was a fool to leave him! – and not from the stuff everybody else knows), but I’m not sure of the guy he’s competing with. (Paul Rudd. Friends guy, but

“I would definitely wear a diaper for Samsung.”

probably some more recent things that I also don’t know. Maybe Judd Apatow movies, which I’ve heard of but not seen.) VERY clever stuff, well-written, well improvised. First they carp at each other, thinking they’re adversaries, and suddenly they have to join forces. Don’t know who plays the sleezeball, distracted, non-creative money man from the ad agency (Bob Odenkirk, whoever that is) – and not sure how this makes us think highly of Samsung, unless you dig disloyalty and greed. (Maybe we do.) And then it turns out, after a lot of very funny, very needy pitching by the two funnymen, that LeBron was bigger’n’ both of them and their funny brains. I liked this one a lot, and wonder if Samsung has any way of proving the usefulness of the ad in producing sales. It will certainly be one of the most talked-about bits. (Third on the Admeter, I believe. I liked it even better in the complete, four-minute version. It makes me want to see more of Rudd and Rogen, anyway, and I hope Apatow is more interesting than my bias insists.)

And Baltimore runs out the clock with rulebook fine print, and the confetti falls! “And the Ravens are World Champions!” “WORLD

Confetti Angels. A big kid and his little kid. Daddy-ness.

Champions?” queried Aaron, who clearly hasn’t watched enough football. “Really?” I almost missed that this time, how the NFL speaks of a team’s global domination of a sport that nobody outside of North America cares much about. )From China, in our little nest, it’s ridiculous. 1.3 billion Chinese, not to mention the Indians, don’t give a flying fadoo. The NBA makes the same claim, though it has a better claim to it, since basketball is a sport that much of the world loves. As far as baseball’s “World Series” goes, the same delusion of global grandeur applies, though it is often said that the name came in some part through its once-upon-a-sponsorship by a newspaper, the New York World of Joseph Pulitzer.)

“No weapon formed against you shall prosper,” quoth Ray Lewis, assuredly one of the great linebackers ever, certainly a galvanizing figure for his team, definitely an inciter of strong feelings among those who know him and those who don’t. The quote is Biblical, one he uses often, which he seems to interpret in a rather less spiritual sense that many would. The sense that athletic success comes from divine favoritism is

Ravens Win! Linebacker/preacher Lewis, Quarterback/MVP Flacco.

one that Mr. Lewis conveys shamelessly. I hadn’t dialled in to the majority of NFL coverage over the last dozen years, but I was pulling against Ray Lewis winning at least as much as I was for the 49ers. And sure enough, the cameras were all over him at the end. The last game, the great career, the retiring warrior: it’s a story, sure, and it’s going to be milked. But when Lewis shouted, “God is so GRREAT!” as his first comment after his team won the NFC title, or there was another pic of his look at me, and know the POWER and FEAR! posturing, or the very public outbreaks of prayer, or the berserk dancing instead of celebrating with his teammates or commiserating with his foes – enough. This is to say nothing of the two murders on his CV.

“When God is with you, who can be against you?” he shouted, hoisting the Super Bowl trophy. RAY! You can’t! God was with the Freaking Baltimore RAYvens? No wonder people hate religion. Unbelievable, but it’s another window into the strangeness of North American culture. There are so many of them in a single Super Bowl Monday.


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