Curling?

Can somebody explain why curling is suddenly hot? It’s trending on Google, I’ve seen multiple excited blog and Twitter posts, and its even getting some primetime TV placement.

But nobody seems to be talking about why there’s so much excitement.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not a hit piece or a “How can you enjoy that boring sport” piece. I’ve seen far too many of the latter aimed at baseball to ever go there myself.

Serious inquiry. Of all the sports in the Winter Olympics, why is curling getting so much of the love? It’s just my perception–I don’t have numbers to back it up, but by comparison with previous Olympics, interest in figure skating, skiing, and luge seem down, while I’ve already seen more talk about curling than in any other two complete Winter Games.

I suppose I’m not really asking any aficionados for an explanation. You’re part of the baseline of interest, not the current peak.

Maybe it’s because curling is a deceptively simple sport. One of those “easy to learn, difficult to master” things. Are people looking for something simple to understand in reaction to the increasingly baffling actions of our elected officials, who daily seem to become less inclined to act in their own best interests, much less those who elected them?

Perhaps the World Curling Association is running an astroturfing campaign. Will that be the next scandal to rock the international sports scene? Or is some other national or international sport group trying to raise curling’s profile to distract the public’s attention from their own problems–there’s certainly no shortage of candidates if your taste for conspiracy theories leans in that direction.

Is it just curling’s turn in the spotlight? A few months from now, will all the come-latelies be saying “Curling? Oh, yeah, I remember that. Does anyone still play it?”

Still, I’m no more immune to curling’s allure than anyone else. Whatever the reason for its current popularity, you can find me on the bandwagon.

Super?

Yes, I watched the Super Bowl. Sorry, Jackie.

I could try to spin it, I suppose. An ecumenical gesture toward those who follow the Faith of the Oblong Ball, perhaps. But the truth is simpler and arguably less worthy. I wanted to see the Patriots lose.

Sure, I had some secondary motivations: wanting to see the commercials and the half-time show in context–important for proper snarkage–foremost. But the bottom line is that the Patriots exemplify all that’s wrong with sports teams setting themselves up as “America’s Team”. Like the Dallas Cowboys, LA Lakers, and Atlanta Braves* of yore, and the Yankees of, well, any day, they exhibit an arrogance and an attitude of entitlement that cries out for humbling.

* Ted Turner has much to answer for.

So it’s easy to root against the Patriots. It was harder to root for the Eagles, since–as Maggie reminded me–they’re the ones who brought Michael Vick back into football. But since they were the only team who had a chance to beat the Patriots on Sunday, we used the proverbial long spoon.

And I took notes, because that’s what writers do. Herewith, my thoughts on Super Bowl LII.

MassMutual served notice even before the kickoff that this was not last year’s television spectacle of Fox-sponsored odes to Amurrica. Can’t argue with the moral of the ad–don’t count on the government to help you through a disaster–but it would have been a stronger message if they’d mentioned Puerto Rico.

As expected, the camera angles during “The Star-Spangled Banner” made it impossible to tell whether anyone was kneeling or sitting. NBC’s not going to risk those glorious advertising dollars over three minutes of air time.

Apparently Sprint is fully prepared for the imminent robot rebellion, and is ready to placate our new robotic overlords from Day One.

Seriously, Turkish Air? If they think Dr. Oz is qualified to talk about the wonders of the human body, I’d hate to learn what they think qualifies someone to fly an airplane. Gonna put them on my “never patronize this company” list.

Bud Light’s sales were down 5.7% this past year. If their ads are any indication, those idiotic “Dilly Dilly” spots are the only thing keeping them in business. Hooray for living down to your smallest potential.

On the brighter side, NBC’s frequent promos for the Winter Olympics were considerably less annoying than Fox’s similar binge on behalf of the Daytona 500. Maybe because the Olympics aren’t a sport that glorifies unsafe driving and promotes climate change?

I’ll admit to enjoying the dual and dueling Doritos/Mountain Dew ad combination. I don’t like Mountain Dew, but the commercial didn’t drive me to forswear Doritos.

On the other hand, Diet Coke’s promotion of the desirability of uncontrollable, unstoppable dancing left me cold. Can I really be the only person in the world who still remembers Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Red Shoes“? Is a swig of mango-flavored Diet Coke worth pedal amputation and eternal damnation?

NBC hurried to assure everyone that no game action or commercials were lost to that eighteen second blackout. But they’ve been disturbingly silent on whether any jobs were lost.

I won’t bother with my screed about Dodge using MLK’s words to sell Ram trucks. Plenty of others have said more than enough. I’ll just put them on my list, right after Turkish Air.

Regrettably, Janet Jackson did not parachute into the stadium and rip Justin Timberlake’s pants off mid-song. But even in her absence, you have to know that NBC and the NFL paid close attention to the choreography of JT’s show. So now we know that both institutions believe it’s perfectly fine to hump a dancer’s leg on international television, as long as her breasts are covered.

And maybe it was just an effect of the television broadcast, but the much ballyhooed and equally derided “holographic performance” by Prince came off as a bare half-step up from projecting a movie on a bed sheet. And really, JT, choosing “I Would Die 4 U” was a damn tacky move.

Of course the blatant attempt to promote “Super Bowl Selfies” as a hashtag was mildly nauseating, if completely predictable.

All in all, I score it the most soporific halftime show since at least 2000, when we had Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, and Toni Braxton lulling us to sleep.

I got a chuckle out of the self-referential commercial for The Voice. But then, I’m an easy mark for self-deprecating, self-referential jokes.

Budweiser partially redeemed themselves for the stupid “Dilly Dilly” nonsense with their “Water” commercial, which did mention Puerto Rico.

My two favorite commercials of the day ran in succession. My Number One was the Jack In the Box / Martha Stewart spot. Juvenile throughout, but with a nice twist on the old “Got Your Nose” bit. And then, Number Two, the payoff to the sequence of apparently pointless Peyton Manning spots, recreating Dirty Dancing as a touchdown celebration. Stupid and pointless–perfect for the message that the NFL isn’t going away.

We’re putting Tide on the list, too. Not that their ads were bad. The concept was mildly amusing the first time. But by the end of the game, they’d completely run it into the ground and arrived at “thoroughly annoying”.

Unrelated to the actual game or the commercials: We discovered that Dish doesn’t think anyone has a four hour attention span. With about ten minutes left in the game, right on the four hour mark from when I turned on the TV, they popped up a message box that said (I’m paraphrasing here, because I didn’t get a picture) “It looks like nobody’s watching TV right now. If you don’t click ‘Continue’ within 20 seconds, we’ll shut the receiver off.” Uh, guys, you’re going to be sending the satellite signal whether the receiver is on or off, so why do you care if I’m watching? If I want to waste electricity by leaving the TV on all day, let me!

And, finally, my prize for “Worst Commercial of Super Bowl LII”.

No, it’s not Tide, Bud Light, or even Turkish Air.

Not only did this company completely ignore the well-documented complaints about their business model, but they’re actually promoting class violence. Congratulation, Groupon, come up and claim your trophy.

Or am I the only one who heard the message “He didn’t use Groupon, so we sent a couple of thugs to kick his rich, white ass”?

Seriously, there’s a right way to do things, and in this case, TV commercials aren’t it. If we’re going to have a revolution of the proletariat and forcibly redistribute the wealth, can we please do it as a spontaneous popular uprising, rather than because a coupon service wants to improve their bottom line?

Happy New Year

Happy New Year. If you bought an extended service plan on 2017, it has now expired, and the full cost of all repairs or replacements will have to be paid out of pocket. Regrettably, the Office of Chronological Mismanagement is no longer offering service plans of any sort. So enjoy 2018 while it still has that new car smell. Soon enough we’ll have to break out the duct tape and patch it up.

In any case, we had a very pleasant end to 2017 and beginning of 2018. You may have gotten the impression from my posts that this family likes fireworks–and that would be a correct impression. We go to New Year’s Eve and Fourth of July fireworks shows whenever we can.

Last year, we caught the show in Berkeley, but this year there wasn’t one. Nor, as far as I could tell, was there one anywhere in the East Bay. All the municipalities were very quiet about it; we don’t know if the lack of shows was due to financial problems, fire worries, security concerns, a lack of desire to compete with San Francisco’s show, or something even less sensical.

But regardless of the reasons, we had a firework gap that needed to be filled. We’ve always steered clear of San Francisco’s show, figuring it would be an enormous hassle, with an impossible parking situation, horrible crowds, and hours-long delays getting out of the city. Turned out we were wrong.

I won’t tell you exactly where we were. For one thing, the parking garage we found will be closing before the end of 2018, and for another, if all of the readers of this blog showed up in our spot this coming December 31, it would…well, okay, nobody would know the difference. But why take the chance of the post going viral? I’ll just say we were south of the Ferry Building and north of the Bay Bridge and let it go at that.

We arrived around noon–far earlier than we needed to–and had our choice of parking spots in the garage. With apologies to those of you north of Eureka or east of Carson City or Phoenix for sounding like I’m gloating, the temperature, even as midnight approached, was in the fifties with scattered high clouds and exactly three drops of rain. The city of San Francisco had kindly provided large planter boxes with cement walls that made excellent seats. And once we got through the line to pay for parking, our time from the garage onto the Bay Bridge was no more than twenty minutes. In rush hour, that same part of the drive frequently stretches to an hour or more.

If there was one downside to the day, it was that few businesses were open near the Embarcadero, and those that were closed early. I believe that, with the exception of a few restaurants, nothing was open past seven. Was it because NYE was a Sunday? Or is it standard for New Year’s Eve? Memo to San Francisco: encourage more vendors to show up and stay open later. It’ll bring more people into the city earlier in the day, they’ll spend more money, improving both vendor profits and city tax and parking revenue. Just a thought. And next time we do it, we’ll bring books, a deck of cards, or something else entertaining.

Because, yes, there will be a next time. The show was wonderful. If not the best ever, right up there at the top of the list. Yes, the hearts were all lazy, lying on their sides and all but a few of the smiley faces were significantly distorted, but those mishaps just added humor to the show. There was a good mix of high and low bursts, some effects we hadn’t seen before, and a clear–and spectacular–finale.

Consider this an open invitation to blog readers: if you’re freezing your tails off again in December 2018, come to San Francisco. We can hang out together and watch the show. I won’t promise you it’ll be as warm as it was Sunday, but I think it’s safe to promise it’ll be warmer than Times Square.

Downs and Ups

I wouldn’t have thought I’d have reason to be thankful to Chevrolet.

Sunday night, I happened to notice that not only was Chevy paying for parking at Tuesday’s Mariners/Athletics game, but they were also partially subsidizing tickets in one section of normally-cheap seats. So, in theory, one could attend the game and pay only the cost of an abnormally-cheap seat: $5.

I decided to go.

That five dollar ticket wound up costing $10.25 by the time all the various fees were added, but considering that parking alone is normally $20, I was still well ahead.

The expedition didn’t start well. On Monday I got an email from the As informing me that the parking lots would open at 2:00, and they expected the lots to be filled to capacity. So I left earlier than I normally would have for a 7:00 game, figuring to watch batting practice, and generally groove on the experience. When I arrived at 3:15–and, for the record, there were a half-dozen cars lined up when I got there–the gates were locked and the guard was adamant that they wouldn’t open “until sixteen hundred”. He liked that phrase, and repeated it several times during our brief conversation.

Once they finally let us all into the parking lot, we had another wait because the gates to the stadium didn’t open until 4:30. And yes, we had to go through metal detectors. Empty pockets, let them search our bags; at least we got to keep our shoes on. The new normal.

Finally inside, I made my way to the food truck plaza. Back in February I expressed some concern about traffic flow in and out of the plaza. I didn’t have any trouble, but the only entrance I found was through a narrow hallway where ushers and food service workers were gathered and clocking in. I can’t imagine that the hallway clogs with pedestrians closer to game time.

Once you make it out to the plaza, though, it’s quite nice.
10-1
I don’t know if I was too early or if plans have changed, but the promised “eight to 16” trucks were actually five. But they all looked good. I eventually settled on a catfish po’boy from Southern Comfort Kitchen.
10-2
Very tasty, though a bit more vegetation would have been nice. Catfish needs roughage.

In retrospect, I’m very glad I didn’t go to the regular food stands. Wednesday, Sports Illustrated released their health ratings of MLB stadium food sellers. They only got data for 28 of the 30 ballparks, but the Coliseum’s food stands ranked 27th. (Note to Jackie: Camden Yards ranked 26th. Bring your own dinner!)

I knew my seat wasn’t going to be the greatest, but it turned out to be worse than I feared.
10-3
Okay, not quite that bad. Here’s another look with enough zoom to more accurately represent how it was with the naked eye:
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Not so bad as all that, you might think. The problem is that I’m somewhat acrophobic. Every time I leaned forward, I saw this:
10-5
I didn’t even make it all the way through batting practice. Fifteen minutes after I sat down, my arm was aching from the death-grip I had on my chair. Since there didn’t seem to be any chance of installing a seat belt, I admitted defeat and paid to upgrade to a seat on the lower level.
10-6
That red asterisk marks my original seat as seen from my upgraded spot.

On the bright side, they only charged me the difference in price and didn’t add any new service charges or handling fees.

I’m going to digress here. I know, what a surprise, right? The rise of electronic and print-at-home tickets is robbing us of emotionally-valuable souvenirs. Would you really want something like this as a keepsake?
10-7
Too big to keep pristine, flimsy printer paper, three different barcodes, and an advertisement. Not the stuff of which memories are made, not when compared to the real thing, printed on cardboard, crisp and shiny.
10-8
It screams “Baseball!” where the first example could be a ticket for anything.

Okay, digression over. Surrendering the cheap seat was the low point of the evening. I was the only person in the entire section in my original seat; downstairs I was sitting right behind a group of four Mariners fans taking a mini-vacation. In front of them was a family of five from the Netherlands taking a decidedly non-mini vacation. They were rooting for the As, but the kids, all under ten, were so happy to be at the ballpark that I forgave their sin. It was the last day of a tour around California, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada and the parents were obviously tired. But they stayed for the entire game–and, I can’t help but point out, the kids stayed awake and involved the whole time. Better than all too many adults in these benighted times.

Not that the game started well for the Mariners. The As scored three in the first, and by the end of the fifth inning they were leading 6-2. Adding insult to injury, the As’ final run came on a homerun, after which everyone in our section of the stadium was awarded a coupon for a free pizza. Or at least something resembling pizza.
10-9
(Pardon the added text. I wouldn’t want anyone to be tempted to try to scam a freebie from Round Table by printing a copy. Or at least not without doing some work to clean it up first.)

In fairness, my objections to Round Table have more to do with their advertising slogan than their food. The latter is unobjectionable at worst. The former–“The last honest pizza”–is offensive at best.

Then the evening improved. The kids from the Netherlands made it onto the big scoreboard screen, much to their delight. And the Mariners stopped giving up runs and started scoring them. It was 6-4 after six innings, 6-5 after seven, and tied at six after eight. No scoring in the ninth, so we even got extra baseball before the Mariners won it in the tenth thanks to a two-out homerun. Can’t write it any better than that.

Earlier in the evening, around the time the As were taking that 3-0 lead, Kansas City and Tampa Bay were losing their games. So Wednesday morning the Wild Card standings looked rather interesting, and not just from the perspective of a Mariners fan.
10-a

Mind you, with the Mariners winning again Wednesday and both the Rays and Royals* losing again, the standings are even more pleasant now, but that’s beside the point.

* In case you weren’t watching the Royals lose to the Cardinals last night, it took a cat to give the Cards the victory:

Heck of a roller coaster ride Tuesday.

Thanks, Chevy.

Breakup

Briefly continuing the thought from last week:

Of course, being a pantser has its advantages, too. If I come up with an idea, I can start exploring it immediately without worrying about whether it fits into my existing plan for the book.

As it turned out, Thursday and Friday amounted to about 1,600 words total. That didn’t quite finish the material I had planned, but it did finish a chapter, so that was good enough. And over the weekend, I came up with a couple of evil notions to inflict on my characters, so I’ve got a path forward.

Moving on.

The Oakland Raiders have officially stabbed their fans in the heart, having received permission from the National Football League to move to Las Vegas.

Back in the deep reaches of pre-history, when I actually watched football, the Seahawks were in the same division as the Raiders, so they played twice a year. And it was one of the great rivalries of the sport. The Seahawks were pretty good for a while there, and a playoff berth for one or both of the teams often hinged on those two games a season.

Being a Seahawks fan, I naturally considered the Raiders fans to be a bunch of obnoxious, uncultured barbarians. Certainly, the only time I went to a Seahawks/Raiders game–in Oakland, sitting in the cheap seats–I didn’t see anything that would give me cause to change my mind.

But even so, those barbarians have all my sympathy today. Because losing your team is the absolute worst thing that can happen to any sports fan.

I stopped following basketball years ago–around the same time I stopped following football, actually. But even so, the news that the Seattle SuperSonics were moving to Oklahoma was horrifying. The only bright spot in that mess was that Seattle was able to retain the rights to the name “SuperSonics” and its derivatives, so the fans have been spared the pain of watching the Oklahoma Sonics. And, should Seattle ever get a new basketball team, it can pick up that forty year tradition.

Here’s hoping that Oakland can keep the name “Raiders” and all of the look and feel that goes along with it. Let the team play in Las Vegas under some other name, in uniforms that are not silver and black. Perhaps history will repeat itself and the grand experiment will fail, as it did after the Raiders’ move to LA in the eighties and nineties. If it does, Oakland might have a choice: restore the silver and black, reviving a tradition or make a fresh start.

As I said, Oakland Raiders fans, you’ve got my sympathy. If you need a shoulder to cry on, give me a call.

And remember: even though the Raiders aren’t going anywhere for at least two more seasons, nobody will blame you if you cut the team out of your life now. They’re solely responsible for the breakup of your relationship. It’s not your fault. Don’t let them try to dump it on you. And remember: this is not a trial separation. This is a divorce.

If the Raiders want you back in their life, they need to meet you more than halfway.

Well, That Was Super

So another Super Bowl has passed into history. In this case, more impressively than most. Greatest comeback in the game’s history (or, if you’re a fan of the Falcons, the biggest collapse in the history of the “Big Game”).

But I’ll leave dissection of the actual game to the actual fans of the sport or the teams. I’d like to see someone who knows the NFL culture address the proverbial elephant: Since the Patriots have made such a big deal about drawing motivation from the “excessive” punishment Tom Brady received for his role in the Deflategate scandal, are we going to see the other teams demanding to be punished to restore competitive balance to the game?

While the experts are pondering that, here are a few other semi-random thoughts about the spectacle.

Points to Coke for their pre-game re-run of the multilingual “America the Beautiful” commercial from the 2014 Super Bowl. But I had the same sense of a false note this year as I did then at the decision to switch back to English for the “God shed his grace on thee” line. Fear of a backlash from the rabidly outspoken Christian fringe at the merest hint of the suggestion that non-English speakers might have valid religious beliefs?

Why am I not surprised that Fox hyped the heck out of their coverage of the Daytona 500? After the fifth or sixth commercial, their attempts to convince viewers outside of the nation’s heartland, where NASCAR reigns, that an automobile race is even more important to Life, Liberty, and the Purfuit of Happineff than the football game they were nominally watching got more than a trifle pitiful.

And then there were the commercials for APB. Apparently the world needed a weekly TV show glorifying the militarization of the police and celebrating the ability of the ultra-rich to literally purchase public servants. Fox certainly thinks so.

Was I the only person bothered by the fact that right after the tribute to football players from historically black schools, we got a commercial for Mexican avocados in which it’s the black conspirator who doesn’t understand the concept of secrecy?

And, speaking of being bothered, Kia, what the heck were you thinking with that Melissa McCarthy ad? If we’re to believe you, environmentalism is dangerous to life and limb. And if we shouldn’t risk ourselves to save whales, trees, and polar ice caps, why should we bother spending the money on your new hybrid? How about giving us some idea of what makes the Niro better than every other low-emission vehicle out there?

Mixed messages from Anheuser-Busch as well. Big props for not pulling their pro-immigration Budweiser ad, which they had to know was going to trigger calls for a boycott even before the events of last week. But then they literally brought back the ghost of Spuds MacKenzie. Couldn’t they have let the poor, alcoholic pooch rest in peace? There’s got to be a better way to sell light beer than with a “Christmas Carol” rip-off.

And then there’s Lady Gaga.

Kudos for carrying the entire halftime show herself. First time we’ve had a single act do the show without supporting acts since The Who in 2010.

For that matter, I believe she’s the only female performer to go it alone in the history of the Super Bowl. I only have data going back to 2000 handy, but the solo performers since then have been Paul McCartney, Prince, Tom Petty, and Bruce Springsteen. Add the bands that didn’t need supporting acts, and you get the all-male U2, Rolling Stones, and The Who.

It’s about time the Super Bowl Halftime Show got an anything you can do moment.

But more importantly, she gets big props for invoking “This Land Is Your Land” on Immigration Weekend and bigger ones for ramming “Born This Way” down Mike Pence’s throat–live on Fox!

So I’m willing to ignore the thousands of acres destroyed in mining all the rhinestones that went into her costumes–land that is, of course, the native habitat of the innocent nauga.

But maybe I’m being hasty. There’s something to be said for her final outfit (for those of you who missed it, she finished the show wearing much-Bedazzled shoulder pads and sparkly shorts). It could be a great thing for the NFL if it caught on. No, not with the cheerleaders. With the players.

Reduce the amount of armor they wear, and the players might be a little more cautious about hurling themselves headlong at each other and the ground. That ought to cut down on injuries just a bit.

And–be honest now–who wouldn’t want to see Tom Brady dropping back to pass in that uniform?

Squawk!

Well, thanks to the calendar’s decision to put September 19 on a Monday this year, you’ve been spared my efforts to talk like a pirate. I’ll allow you to decide whether that’s a good thing or not–but be judicious in your comments: Talk Like a Pirate Day does fall on a Tuesday next year, and you can be sure I’ll use the occasion to exact fearful revenge upon those who mocked me at the Academy! Muh-hah-hah-hah–huh? Oh, sorry.

Talk Like a Mad Scientist Day is July 27, and I missed it completely.

You knew there had to be one, right? There’s a day for everything. Talk Like Shakespeare Day (April 23, of course). Talk Like a Gangster Day (October 16, apparently). International Talk Like a Quaker Day (October 24–pardon me, Tenth Month 24). Talk Like a Physicist Day (March 14, better known as Pi Day–there’s supposedly a TLaPD blog, but, well, does anyone else find it as amusing as I do that the server is experiencing out of memory problems?)

Correction: there’s one group that doesn’t have their own day to speak up. Ninjas. I would have thought that any group that lets its weapons do their talking would have their own day, through sheer intimidation, if nothing else. But apparently not. A martial arts school in Kentucky declared April 2 “Talk Like a Ninja Day” this year. But, according to the Facebook event page, only one person attended.

Of course, these being ninjas, there were probably thousands more who weren’t spotted, but this is the Internet we’re talking about, where “GIF or it didn’t happen” is a way of life. No pictures of ninjas means no ninjas.

The comic Bug Martini took a look at the difficulties of holding a Talk Like a Ninja Day back in 2013. It hasn’t gotten any easier since.

Day of the Ninja” has their heart in the right place (behind the rib cage, natch). But they’ve been promoting their day–December 5–since at least 2002, but the day, appropriately enough, just keeps slipping past without anyone noticing.

And, in case you don’t have a calendar handy, December 5 is also a Monday this year, so I’ll be letting pass without comment.

But hang on. I’ve just realized something important. We’ve got a day to talk like a pirate, but we’ve completely neglected the pirate’s traditional faithful companion!

To remedy the situation, I hereby declare today International Talk Like a Parrot Day.

Walk up behind somebody (preferably somebody who observed Talk Like a Pirate Day yesterday), scream “Squawk! Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight!”, bite their ear, and run* away.

* Or fly, if you have the necessary physical attributes.

I’m going to make this an annual event on September 20, and I hope you’ll join me.

Sports Grief

Yes, Bay Area, I understand. You’re bummed. Completely reasonable.

But please remember that the ISO standard for public displays of grief over sporting events is 72 hours. So, no more front page headlines after 8:00 Pacific Wednesday. Got it? Thanks.

Doesn’t mean you can’t grieve as long as you need to. Just do it in the privacy of your own homes, bars, clubs, and arenas. It’s for your own safety, really. You don’t think those thugs down south aren’t gloating? You don’t want them to see how much you’re hurting–they’ll just take advantage of your pain.

Now that we’ve got the legalities out of the way, let me state for the record that I sympathize with you 100%. Losing sucks, no question about it.

Right now, it feels like you’re never going to get over it. And, honestly, you never will be completely free. Twenty, forty, or a hundred years from now, you’ll still wake up in the middle of the night, wondering “what if…?” But over time it will happen less often. I promise.

I know it’s antithetical to the Bay Area sports mentality, but just take a look to your frenemies to the north. Yeah, I’m talking about Seattle. They know where you are mentally right now.

Consider February 1, 2015. The Seahawks were one play away from winning their second consecutive NFL title and came up short.

Yeah, OK, so they weren’t riding a record-breaking regular season. How about October 22, 2001? The Mariners won 116 games in the regular season, and got blown out of the playoffs by the Yankees–they didn’t even make it to the finals.

“But those aren’t basketball,” I hear you say. “And what’s worse, the Warriors are moving out of Oakland.”

Cast your eyes back to 1978 and 1979. In ’78, the SuperSonics went to the NBA finals and lost to the Washington Bullets in seven games. The next year, the Sonics were back in the finals and that time they took the championship in five. It took them seventeen years to get to the finals again, where they lost to the Chicago Bulls in six games. They didn’t make the finals again; in 2008, they moved. Not down the road to Tacoma*, where Seattle fans could still root for them, but to Oklahoma City.

* Not an arbitrary choice of location: they spent the 1994-95 season in Tacoma.

Seattle’s got some street cred when it comes to losing big in sports finals. So when I say they know how you feel, I’m not just blowing smoke.

I’m not trying to one-downer you here. Just suggesting you take a little guidance from those guys up north. Grieve. Let it all out (quietly).

And then, stay on the bandwagon. The good times will come again. Stick with your guys, and wait’ll next year.

Good luck.

Nipper Would Be Ashamed

The Grammy Award Show was yesterday. Full disclosure: I didn’t watch any of it.

For the uninitiated, the Grammys are the music industry’s Super Bowl. Unlike the NFL, however, the powers behind the Grammys haven’t figured out how to squeeze in the maximum amount of annoyance to their customers. They’ve got the “no commoners” thing going. Even better than the NFL, even. At least Super Bowl tickets are available to the public, even if the average football fan can’t afford them; the Grammys, as is the case for most award shows, are invitation-only*. But in other respects, the music industry has a long way to go.

* You can, however, buy tickets to various after-show parties. A few years ago, for example, Diddy threw a benefit party with ticket prices ranging from $1,500 to $50,000. One “perk” at the high end: your own posse of booth babes–excuse me, “promotional models”. I’m not sure what you would do with fifteen decorative accessories, but I suppose if you could afford the ticket, you could afford to hire someone to come up with a plan.

The NFL not only screwed up traffic in San Francisco for more than a week and subjected random pedestrians who weren’t even going to Super Bowl-related events to pat-downs and metal detectors, but they convinced the city to pay for the security.

By contrast, the Grammys only interfered with traffic over a few blocks and a few hours, and the only security I’m aware of–paid for by the show–concentrated on the people at the venue.

Come on, guys. How will we know the music industry is successful if you don’t drive away thousands of potential customers?

Then there was the show itself.

The reviews are scathing. The best review I’ve seen suggested that the show occasionally reached adequacy.

Lady Gaga, fresh off wowing the Super Bowl audience with her rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” reportedly underwhelmed Grammy viewers with her extended David Bowie medley. Several acts were spoiled by audio problems–remember, this is a show devoted to the best in music*. Shouldn’t the producers pay attention to the miking, mixing, and other technical matters first?

* Well, “best” according to those who run the show. Them what gots the gold makes the rules.

I hear Bonnie Raitt’s part of the B.B. King tribute was one of the rare high points. I imagine that’ll show up on YouTube–heck, it’s probably there already. My plan is to take a listen to that and ignore the remaining four hours of the show.

And there’s another way the Grammys fall short of the Super Bowl’s annoyance factor: by tomorrow, it will be possible to ignore the Grammys until next year. A week after the Super Bowl, the media is still blathering about it (yes, including me–sorry about that).

Look for the Grammys to step up their game next year. Until then, enjoy the peace and quiet. And go buy some music from an artist who wasn’t at the Grammys, just to say “thank you”.

Gone Too Far

There are a lot of good reasons not to watch the Super Bowl–Jackie has fifty of ’em. The problem is that I’m not sure that would accomplish anything.

Wait, let me amend that. You’ll feel better. It’s worth doing on that basis alone.

But, let’s face it, the game will go on. I’m convinced that even if everybody in the world boycotted the game this year, it would still be played next year. The phrase “too big to fail” gets thrown around far too often, but this does seem to be a legitimate usage. Blame the commercials and the halftime show.

The halftime show has taken on a life of its own. I know–and you probably do too–people who tune in just for the halftime show. Blame Janet Jackson for making it “must see TV”–and M.I.A. and Katy Perry’s Left Shark for keeping interest up. Even people who don’t turn on the TV on Super Bowl Sunday hit the Internet to find out what new controversy each new show produces.

And the commercials. Talk about the tail wagging the dog! Jackie points to a 2014 survey that found “78 percent of Americans look forward to the commercials more than the game“. Seventy-eight percent. Let that sink in. If the survey bears anything like a correspondence to reality, it means 87 million people watched the 2014 Super Bowl for the ads, compared to only 24 million who tuned in for the game.

That’s great news for the advertisers, of course, and as long as people hit the Internet to check out the commercials, the advertisers really don’t care if they boycott the game itself. And people do. The tag “Super Bowl commercial” has acquired a cachet all out of proportion to any actual value the ads have.

I’m being serious here. According to USA Today, last year’s top advertisement was Budweiser’s “Lost Dog” spot. Ask yourself two questions: “Do you remember that ad, and, if so, did you remember it before you clicked the link?” and “Did the ad make you want to buy Budweiser beer, or even think about buying it at any point in the past year?”

Unless you and all of the other 114,399,999 Americans who watched the Super Bowl last year can answer yes to both of those questions, Budweiser wasted their advertising money. Even leaving aside the cost to make the ad (because I can’t find any numbers on that), the Super Bowl placement cost $9 million, or a bit under eight cents per US viewer. Did the ad make you buy enough Bud for Anheuser-Busch to make eight cents profit?

Decline of civilization, anyone?