Super Bowled Over
Super Bowl XLIV Succeeds, In Spite of Itself
This time, believe the hype
I hate football and rarely watch the Super Bowl for anything other than the halftime music performances and million-dollar commercials, but last night I have to admit the Super Bowl lived up to its perennially bombastic hype (which begins with the pretentious Roman Numeral naming convention, as if a football game were as historically significant or epic as anything from the Roman Empire - I mean, Barack Obama's election as the 44th President of the United States, and first African-American, is pretty historic, but we don't afford even him the XLIV designation!).
It was a great game, one that came down to the final 5 minutes, and one that I think the country wanted the historic have-nots, the New Orleans Saints, to win. They did. With balls out (going for it on 4th and goal, surprising everyone with an on-side kick). The Saints are no longer 'Aints, with the end-result that the Mardi Gras officially started at least 9 days early (and who knows how long it will last?). My Baton Rouge-native neighbor Tal was elated, telling me, as we shoveled snow the next day, that his mom was in New Orleans' French Quarter that night to see a play and that they had an extended 90-minute intermission during which free champagne was handed out while people got updated on the score. (She didn't get home until 2 in the morning what with all the post-game celebrating in the Quarter!)
Who R U?
Initially, I was only going to watch the game so I wouldn't miss The Who - as Roger Daltry and Pete Towshend call their Oldies But Goldies act these days (not much choice thanks to the Grim Reaper, mind you) - but stuck it out long after the final chords of "Won't Get Fooled Again" (which I didn't realize was a tie-in with the Super Bowl-broadcasting network CBS' latest "CSI" theme song). You could argue that The Who's set was a Vegas-like mixed-bag mash-up of abbreviated post-vintage melodies (I personally hate my namesake album Tommy, preferring almost anything on The Who Sell Out and Quadrophenia to their "classic" Rock Opera) - and including the predictable "Who Are You" from their latterday-lame '80s period was inexcusable - but it's hard to quibble with "Pinball Wizard" and especially the set-closer, "Won't Get Fooled Again" - an anthemic rocker that made me borrow the catchphrase my girlfriend Amy quips whenever she hears her beloved Queen and involuntarily shriek "I love rock and roll!"
Pete and Rog: Who'd a thunk it?
Sure, it wasn't as good as Prince's wild and inspired "Purple Rain"-highlighted set in the rain (how perfect was that?) from 2007, but it'll do - and anytime you get to see old Pete do his iconic windmill guitar power-strums it's, as the American Express ads put it, pricless. (Baby Boomer on a Soapbox Aside: I was lucky enough to have seen the original Who quartet 35 years ago at the Cap Center (Quadrophenia Tour?) and I got a chill flashing back to that eardrum-shattering moment thanks to Sunday's performance.) I just wonder who the Union Jack-jacketed drummer with the Mod target cymbals was? His gear was fab, even if he wasn't quite Keith Moon on the kit (but then, who - or rather Who - is?).
But what really kept me from switching the channel - and boy was I tempted to tune out the bloviated pre- and post-game shoutfest-masquerading-as-analysis represented by the Joint Jarhead Jock Chorus of Boomer, Dan Marino, Shannon Sharpecheese, James Brown, and Bill Cowher (why do they make such a simple game so complicated? Why does Shannon Sharpecheese try to make us think it's Rocket Science with all his playbook talk of "3-4 Slant Routes" and "4-3 Zones"?) were...the commercials. Though many were the usual fratboy/jocko homo variety (especially the tire and Budweiser ads), and at least one totally missed the mark for this kind of audience (I'm referring to Google's "Parisian Love" ad showing how to use their search engine to take a trip to Paris, score a French girlfriend, and then plan the wedding - a cool ad to be sure but only for French-loving East Coast Elitists like myself...I mean, did the Google folks really think this fantasy scenario would speak to the football-loving yahoos in Alabama or Arkansas who only eat the rebranded "Freedom Fries" with their burgers?), for the most part they were really fun and imaginative. (OK, except Charles Barkley's lame Taco Bell (w)rap - and Sir Chunky Charles looks like he's been eating way too much at the Bell!)
Naturally, chips and tits always do well in the ratings with football's built-in Neatherthal mouth-breathers audience, with early surveys indicating that the Doritos ("House Rules") and Megan Fox-in-a-bathtub-for-Motorola spots did best. The other blatant sex spots hawking P-Power were for GoDaddy.com (always) and Bridgestone ("I said your tires or your life, not your wife" - Ha, ha, funny, because, see, guys will trade their wives for good tires...stop me before I laugh again!) (For more highlights, check out the National Post's roundup of the best ads, YouTube's Ad Blitz channel, or Mashable's Roundup.)
The best? Had to be the short-but-sweet (ah brevity - the soul of wit, yo!) "Worst Super Bowl Party Ever" Late Show spot:
I particularly liked the two Bud Light ads that referenced, directly or indirectly, the ABC-TV series Lost . First there was the "Stranded" spot that had a Kate Austen/Evangeline Lilly lookalike find a crashed plane's radio equipment, which instead of being used to signal for help is instead used to play music while her crashmates enjoy drinking Bud. (Hmmm, makes me think of Pris' line in Blade Runner when she realizes the jig is up: "Then we're stupid, and we'll die.")
Then there was the "Asteroid" commercial that featuring Dharma Initiative scientist honcho Dr. Marvin Candle (aka "Dr. Pierre Chang," played by Francois Chau) in his customary white lab coat announcing that an asteroid would destroy Earth (so naturally everybody breaks out the Bud Light to party like it's 1999); his bespectacled and balding sidekick looks like the guy who played the sadistic security staff hardliner in the Dharma Initiative.
Be a Pecker, Drink Dr. Pepper
And never ones to miss out on corporate shilling, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley once again donned their makeup to hawk "A Little Kiss of Cherry" for Dr. Pepper Cherry, all set (predictably) to "Dr. Love" and featuring (for their literally minded audience) "little people" (the real-life MiniKiss band).
Dr. Pecker Gene assures us, "Trust me, I'm a Dr." I trust only that he's a neo-con capitalist whore. But, hey, it's a very fun spot.
Of course, I was pleasantly surprised to see the "Hard Times" Simpsons ad for Coke, which perfectly reflected our current economic woes by showing erstwhile greedy billionaire-turned-destitute-old-rummy C. Montgomery Burns learning to appreciate the simple things in life.
And though I hate Dockers pants, I have to admit I liked their "I wear no pants!" ad. What is it about seeing men in their underwear that's so funny? (I swear, I'm not gay - "not that there's anything wrong with that," as Jerry Seinfeld says...) I dunno, maybe because male lingerie is so grotty, but I similarly enjoyed the Careerbuilder "Casual Fridays" commercial for the same reason.
Careerbuilder: "Expose yourself to something better"
And I loved FLO TV's "Injury Report" that featured sportscaster Jim Nantz giving a play-by-play of a man "whose girlfriend has removed his spine" going on a shopping spree with his beloved.
"How about lavender?" "How about not?"
I'm just sorry my (half-Japanese) girlfriend Amy had to miss kgb's first ever Super Bowl ad (no shopping spree for Amy - she had to pull a snowed-in double shift at work that night), because she would have enjoyed their "How do I say 'I Surrender?' in Japanese" sumo wrestler commercial.
Talkin' 'bout "My Appropriation"
And, harkening back to The Who, I liked FLO TV's the video mash-up of "My Generation" but wonder, as it's credited to Will.I.Am of The Black-Eyed Peas, just what the fuck did Little Will.I bring to the table? The music is all Who, the video is all whoever directed it, and Will.I.Am's Tell Overture consists of him speaking a scant 5 seconds of voiceover? Gimme a break! Even hip-hop hack P. Diddy at least adds a new drumbeat or bass line to his virtually verbatim musical lifts.
Talkin' bout My Appropriation:
Oh well, at least the proceeds go to Haiti relief fund.
Only really sour note of this entertaining night was the obligatory shout out to God from All-American Drew Brees and the comment from the NFL Today Joint Chiefs of Jarhead Jockdom that, when Drew Brees held up his baby boy Baylen Brees (try saying that during a sobriety check!), that this was the ne plus ultra of every man's existence, to hold your son up after winning the Super Bowl. Yeah, right, Capt. Cliche! And we all wanna f**k the Homecoming Queen. Only in your dreams, guys!