Super Bored?

DCP’s Guide to an Alternative Game Day

By Katrina Eresman

Football season. To some, it’s a cherished time, a time to cuddle up in team paraphernalia with a cold beer or hot cocoa and watch the game with friends and family. It brings people together, it sparks conversations between strangers and it continues to be a strong American tradition.

To others, this is the bewildering season during which one overhears strange, indecipherable comments about “runs” and “fair plays” and “fouls” (or whatever) in line at the grocery store or online. People start wearing matching shirts with numbers on them. Everyone around you seems to be in a secret club you can’t understand. Someone asks you “How ’bout them Steelers?” and you think they’re alluding to some kind of burglary epidemic.

If you’re not in the football fan club, you might be sad to hear that this thing called the “Super Bowl” has nothing to do with bowling and nothing to do with soup, either.

It can be a little isolating to feel so out of the loop on a subject that seems to engage so many Americans. But is it not liberating as well?

For readers who are not in the football fan club, here are some guidelines, recommendations and general words of encouragement regarding this annual event, whether you’re partaking in a football fiesta or riding solo.

Food for thought

One thing Super Bowl Sunday never lacks is grub. Whether there are actually bowls of soup or ice cream sundaes involved is up to the host of the viewing party. But if you’re going anywhere near a screen featuring the game, you won’t be going hungry.

One game time snack you’re sure to see? Potato chips. I know that goes without saying. But let me prove to you just how much of a staple these salty delicacies are: did you know that if you took the average amount of potato chips consumed on game day—all 28 million pounds of them—and lined them up chip by chip, they would circle the earth at the equator over 11 times?

That’s right, if you took all of the chips and lined them up, you’d have 293,000 miles of crunchies.

In comparison, if all 114.4 million viewers of the Super Bowl were to hold hands in happy football harmony, they would circle the earth 4.78 times. Don’t believe me? Go ahead, line up and see!

When it comes to protein, chicken wings (that includes drumsticks) take the lead. America consumes over one billion wings on this particular game day—we’re talking more than 250 million chickens.

That’s a lot of chickens sacrificing their lives for the sake of hungry fans.

That’s also 100 million 20-piece buckets, and simultaneously 100 million Buckethead (the guitarist) Halloween costumes.

Use these tedious and absurd facts as conversation starters at the Super Bowl party you attend. Standing adjacent to the snack table will make them seem slightly less random. (But be wary—a writer is doing your math.)

If you’re staying in, a word of advice: Sunday is not the day to order pizza. In the last couple of years, Domino’s has estimated delivering 11 million slices of pizza that afternoon. Unless you’re ready to wait a while, skip the delivery options all together.

Instead, while football fans are eating buckets of chicken, pepperoni pies and massive quantities of guacamole, the streets will be quite empty on this Sunday, my friends. It’s time to take your town by the horns.

The world is your oyster

Oyster … that sounds good. It’s too bad that one restaurant always has such a long wait …

But not today!

Skip the delivery this wintery evening and eat out. Try that restaurant that has always seemed packed. Any place normally saturated by a crowd is all yours on this fine Sunday.

Or, go really crazy. Get a pre-dinner cocktail at that hip bar that’s always too crowded (as long as it’s not a sports bar). Then, grab dinner at your favorite restaurant. You’re likely to get the best seat in the house. No tiny, unbalanced table right next to the bathroom for you tonight!

From there, go to that one restaurant, that really expensive one, and get dessert. You don’t have to feel bad occupying a table for nothing more than a serving of crème brulée when half the usual crowd is home. And there’s barely any threat of heavy traffic or impossible parking, either.

After dinner, head to the movies! Chances are you’ll have the theatre mostly to yourself. Some local theatres have a habit of showing old classics on Sunday evenings, sometimes at a discounted rate. Call around for listings and see what kind of personal screening you can score for the evening.

It ain’t just a game

So you’re not into football, but everyone you’ve ever spent time with is, and now you’re roped into going to a party unless you want to spend the weekend alone? It’s OK! It’s the best game to watch when you ain’t feelin’ the football. Why? Even if you don’t understand why all of these guys keep running, coming to a halt, colliding, dragging one another to the ground or why Charlie Brown ever even felt like trying to kick that funny shaped ball, there’s much more to see.

Plenty of people (about 40 percent of polled viewers) have admitted to enjoying the commercials more than the game. It’s well known that Super Bowl commercials are practically a genre of their own. Plenty of these tiny 30-60-second wonders are still viewed regularly online. For instance, the 2011 Force Awakens Volkswagen commercial has tens of millions of views on YouTube—this, I’m sure, due to the fact that there’s something painfully cute about a child in a Darth Vader suit strutting around to “The Imperial March.”

Another favorite? A 1992 Nike commercial that features Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan on the courts together, aka Hare Jordan and Air Jordan. This commercial preceded “Space Jam” by four years (because who could deny that MJ and Bugs made the cutest on-screen pair of friends?).

Occasionally these million dollar commercials will be directed by a big name, like Apple’s 1984 commercial titled “1984” after the dystopian George Orwell novel. After directing “Blade Runner” and “Alien,” Sir Ridley Scott was a perfect fit for creating dystopian vibes, and his commercial for Apple really does seem like more than just a commercial.

If commercial placement was compared to fictional real estate, a slot during the Super Bowl would be comparable to Monopoly’s Boardwalk. The latest reports say that a 30-second commercial during the big game costs $4.5 million. (That’s about $150,000 per second. That’s a little under three times the average American household income. In one second.) Whether you want to make the effort of tuning in just for the commercials all depends on how curious you are to see what people do with millions of dollars.

Of course, there’s also the halftime show, which will give you something to talk about at work the following Monday.

If all else fails? Make up a drinking game. Who knows, if that goes well, you might even be a fan of football by the end of the day.

Happy birthday, dude

The famous game turns 50 this year.

Why not take this day as a time to celebrate other things that came to be in 1967?

Like the late, great Kurt Cobain who would have turned 49 this year. (Hard to imagine Mr. Cobain any older than in the late 20s, isn’t it?) The singer, guitarist and songwriter of Nirvana was born just over a month after the first Super Bowl on Jan. 15, 1967 (as a Pisces, go figure). However, despite the proximity of the dates, Cobain and Nirvana seem like the antithesis of football. It’s like the jocks versus the stoned kids in flannel who sulked around under the bleachers. Celebrate your inner rebel this Sunday by flipping the bird to American sporty pastimes and partaking in a different kind of American pastime, the album Nevermind.

Another late great to honor on this day? Philip Seymour Hoffman who would have been younger than Cobain. The actor had an impressive filmography, and a PSH marathon could easily take the place of the game on your flat screen. Netflix currently hosts a few options like “Punch Drunk Love” and “The Master,” but be sure to hit up the library for additional favorites (this writer would especially like to recommend “Almost Famous,” “Magnolia” and, of course, “Twister”).

Other marathon options include Friends (only the Joey episodes—Matt LeBlanc was born in July of 1967), or you could tumble down a YouTube rabbit hole of Chris Angel videos, the American magician and illusionist, born in December 1967. End appropriately on a three-minute video in which he plays by his own rules when he levitates a football in order to throw a pass. Foul!

There’s a chance that “Fast and Furious” fans and football fans overlap, so if you’ve ever dreamt of a day where you go to the library and check out all seven of the “Fast and Furious” films, maybe, just maybe, today they’ll all be available. Take the time to honor the heart of the franchise, Mr. Vin Diesel, who was born Mark Sinclair (which sounds much less fast) six months after Super Bowl I in July.

 

An abridged history of Super Bowl Sundays

Super Bowl I, Jan. 15, 1967

Richard Blakey born in Yorkshire, England; goes on to become famous cricketer

David Burlier, father of the “Russian Futurism” artistic and poetic movement, dies

Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs in Los Angeles 35-10

Super Bowl II, Jan. 14, 1968

LL Cool J born James Todd Smith

“The Graduate” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” both released just a couple of weeks prior, fill theatres everywhere. Those not interested in football may have been headed to the cinema to watch Dustin Hoffman and Clint Eastwood in action.

Green Bay Packers beat the Oakland Raiders 33-14 in Miami, Florida

Super Bowl VII, Jan. 14, 1973

Grateful Dead bass player Phil Lesh is busted for drugs in California

Lethon Flowers is born, goes on to become defensive back for Pittsburgh Steelers

Miami Dolphins beat the Washington Redskins 14-7 in Los Angeles

Super Bowl IX, Jan. 12, 1975

Ted Bundy victim Caryn Campbell disappears from her hotel in Colorado

Pittsburg Steelers beat the Minnesota Vikings 16-6 in New Orleans, Louisiana

Super Bowl XII, Jan. 15, 1978

Ted Bundy kills Margaret Bowman and Janet Levy at FSU

Dallas Cowboys beat the Denver Broncos 27-10 in New Orleans, Louisiana

Super Bowl XV, Jan. 25, 1981

Fifty-two Americans who had been held hostage in Iran for 444 days during the Iran hostage crisis (as portrayed in the film “Argo”) return to U.S.

Bill Murray marries Margaret Kelly in Las Vegas

Alicia Keys is born

Oakland Raiders beat Philadelphia Eagles 27-10 in New Orleans

Super Bowl XXVI, Jan. 26, 1992

Americans with Disabilities Act goes into effect, granting civil rights to protect individuals with disabilities

Washington Redskins beat the Buffalo Bills 37-24 in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Super Bowl XXVIII, Jan. 30, 1994

Peter Leko becomes the youngest chess grandmaster

Dallas Cowboys beat the Buffalo Bills 30-13 in Atlanta, Georgia

Super Bowl XXXVIII, Feb. 1, 2004

Janet Jackson bares it all—or more than usual, anyway—at the Super Bowl halftime show, exposing a breast “adorned with a nipple shield” (thanks, Wikipedia)

New England Patriots beat the Carolina Panthers 32-29 in Houston, Texas

 

Reach DCP editor Katrina Eresman at KatrinaEresman@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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