Run It Up!

Because that’s how the game is played, of course.

Oh, sorry. I’m talking about the biggest sports story that many news outlets aren’t covering. Editorial departments are covering it, though…

Specifically, the Women’s World Cup is under way and the US team–the defending champions–are off to a hot start.

Ferociously hot, in fact, beating Thailand 13-0.

I imagine there will be more coverage on the Sports page of your local paper (if you still have one) eventually, but so far most of what’s seen print or electrons has been pontification.

“Why didn’t they ease up when it was obvious they were going to win?”

Which brings us back to my opening paragraph.

Blowouts are a fact of life in every sport. They may be rarer in soccer than in other sports–thirteen goals is a monstrously large number–but they happen.

Some sports do have unwritten rules against running up the score. In baseball, for example, some people consider it bad form to steal bases when you’re five runs ahead. Or seven. Or only if it’s the seventh inning or later. Maybe more people would follow the rule if everyone agreed what the rule is. But I digress.

It’s common to pull your starters out when you’ve got a big lead late. Not universal, though. And those replacements you put in are going to be playing hard, because putting up good numbers is the only way they’ve got to petition for more playing time (which–indirectly–means a bigger paycheck).

Other sports, not so much. I’ve never heard of a hockey team going easy on an opponent after running up a six goal lead. Not saying it doesn’t happen, just that I haven’t heard of it.

And soccer is more like hockey than baseball: continuous action, an opportunity to switch from defense to offense at any moment, a set length to the game, and so on.

Looked at from another perspective, letting up could be seen as establishing a bad habit. If you relax and lighten up after taking a five goal lead today, are you going to unconsciously do the same next week when you’ve got a four goal lead?

There are other reasons–off-field reasons–why the US Women’s National Team would want to make every game a major blowout if they can. That’s beside the point here.

Because most of the editorials I’ve seen start from an unstated premise that “women don’t act like that.”

I call bullshit.

Competitive sports are, by definition, competitive, and the people who play them–male, female, or decline to state–compete. Granted, in my experience, women are more likely to commiserate with a defeated opponent after the game. But the key word there is “after”.

Hey, last Wednesday the Mariners beat the Astros 14-1. Nobody said they should have stopped hitting home runs after the sixth inning. They lost 13-3 a few days before that, and nobody called for the Angles to take it easy after they scored their seventh run in the second inning.

In the moment, you play to win. If that means an occasional blowout, so be it. No matter what your sport or your sex.

Drafty In Here

I’ve got to hand it to the NFL in one respect. They’ve somehow managed to persuade the world that their draft is an event worth watching. All three days and seven rounds. Over two hundred selections.

If it was just the first round, I could almost understand it. That’s where the big name players, the ones capable of improving a team all by themselves, get selected. (And in the NFL, unlike MLB, there aren’t any minor leagues. The players selected this month will be on the field in preseason games come August. That’s a powerful motivator: it’s not “Wait until next year,” it’s “Wait until this year.”)

Just to be clear here, I didn’t see much of it, only a little bit in the middle of the first round, and the last few players of the final round. Nor was it by choice: it was on the break room TV when I was eating lunch.

Which is kind of my point, I suppose. My co-workers were riveted to the set. Okay, maybe not riveted, but at least stapled.

And I don’t get it. How does the NFL convince fans to keep watching something that moves only slightly faster than a forty-year old designated hitter?

It’s not the “Mr. Irrelevant” award. (Yes, really. There’s an award for the last player picked.) If that was all people cared about, they’d watch the first round, then tune out until the end of the seventh round.

I can’t believe a significant audience really believes a fifth round pick will be so important to their team’s performance that they’ll watch the other thirty-one teams make their selections–at least two hours in the later rounds and up to five hours in the first round–just so they can cheer for ten seconds.

Amazingly, it’s not done with the standard attention-getters. Very few skimpily dressed women (or men, for that matter), not much thundering rock music, no booze or other drugs outside of the same commercials running everywhere.

It’s not even schadenfreude, neither taking pleasure in seeing who doesn’t get picked (you could do that by watching just the last round) or in the horrible choices made by your opponents (because you don’t know they’re any worse than your team’s picks–and half the time you were probably hoping they’d remain available long enough for your team to grab them with their next pick.)

It’s not even the drama of the situation. Commentators speculating in voice-over about who’s going to get picked while the screen shows a few people in suits leaning over computers and talking quietly isn’t drama. Maybe it’s exciting the first two or three times, but after twelve hours over two days, it’s old hat.

How do they do it?

And how do we convince them to put the same level of effort and attention to detail to work on protecting the players’ health after the draft?

Not So Super

If you’ve come here expecting to see my annual run-down of the Super Bowl commercials and the obligatory snide comments about the game itself, my apologies.

See, I didn’t watch the game this year.

Not that I’m feeling smug about it or anything. In truth, I had been planning to watch. As I said last year, “I wanted to see the Patriots lose.” That was just as true this year–and I’m deeply disappointed in the Rams.

I can feel mildly virtuous for doing my part to reduce the NFL’s viewership numbers, and thus hurt their potential revenue from next year’s game. But only mildly, because I didn’t choose to abstain. But watching at work would have been a non-starter.

Of course, I did get paid to not watch the Super Bowl. That’s a darn sweet deal.

I did go looking for a recording of the halftime show. I could claim it was because I wanted to see if there was anything in it to justify all the various controversies. (Spoiler: nope. Topless singers and censored rap lyrics aren’t going to do the job.) Really, though, it was because I haven’t missed once yet this century and I wanted to keep my record intact. In retrospect, I needn’t have bothered. My life is not enriched. It wasn’t quite as much of a snoozefest as last year’s Justin Timberlake effort, but it’ll be hard for anyone to top (bottom?) Justin.

What? Oh. For those of you reading this overseas, no matter what the NFL wants you to think, Super Bowl Sunday isn’t a federal holiday. No mail delivery, but then, there normally isn’t on Sundays. And those of us who had to work were on our usual Sunday schedules.

But since we’re on the subject of holidays, perhaps you’ve heard that the “For the People Act” bill that Democrats are pushing in the House includes a provision to make Election Day a federal holiday? The intent is to make it easier for people to get to the polls.

Good idea, bad implementation.

Because, to be blunt, the kind of businesses that don’t close on holidays are exactly the ones that employ the people who find it hardest to take the time to cast a ballot: low-income workers, usually earning minimum wage, who live in neighborhoods where polling sites are routinely closed (chiefly by Republicans, naturally). Hotels, fast food restaurants, and convenience stores aren’t going to close. Neither, for that matter, are hospitals, police and fire departments, or airports.

Take another swing at it, Congresscritters. Concentrate on measures that directly make it easier to vote: longer voting hours (or extended voting periods), mail-in ballots, streamlined registration processes. That sort of thing.

If you really feel the need to establish a new holiday, there is that whole Super Bowl thing–I wouldn’t mind getting time-and-a-half for not watching the game. Just be aware that America’s other religions will expect the same treatment. I’ll be looking forward to my World Series Week this October.

Quick Takes

A couple of shorter items today, because reasons.

First up, the Matier & Ross column in yesterday’s Chron announced that ticket kiosks are being reinstalled at the Temporary Transbay Terminal, suggesting that it’s likely to a while before the new terminal is back in operation.

Oddly, that’s not really bad news. I don’t think anybody expected a quick fix. Even by the most optimistic estimates, the new terminal couldn’t have reopened before February.

The only real surprise in the news is that testing of the cracked beams is still going on. That was supposed to be complete sometime in November. So, yes, the process is lagging behind schedule, but did anyone expect otherwise? And, frankly, I’m choosing to regard the delay as a good sign. Better to take it slowly and be sure everybody is happy with the testing than to rush it and stoke fears that something has been missed.

Assuming the tests wrap up this month and show the cracking isn’t a design problem, we’re still looking at a few more months. The fix will need to be planned, approved internally and by an external group of engineers, and then implemented and (one hopes) tested.

So spending the money to put the kiosks back where the riders are just makes sense.

Moving on.

A bit of news out of the Northwest.

Seattle has been granted a NHL franchise and will begin play in 2021.

Even though I no longer follow hockey, I’m pleased to hear it.

Just this once, let’s skip the discussion of injuries, violence, and general unpleasantness that usually goes along with talk about the NHL and NFL.

It may come as a surprise to many people, but Seattle was once a big hockey town. Back in the nineteen-teens–before the NHL was founded–the Seattle Metropolitans played for the Stanley Cup three times, winning once and losing once. (The playoff was canceled in 1919, due to a flu epidemic. No vaccines in those days.)

They also had a team from 1944 to 1975, playing in the high minor Western Hockey League. That was the team I followed obsessively in my possibly misspent youth. (There’s also a current minor league team, the Thunderbirds, but they don’t get a whole lot of press, even in Seattle, so…)

So, yes, it’s good to see high-level hockey coming back to Seattle. It should be good for the city: like the Mariners, they should be able to draw fans from Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, which means hotel revenue. There’s an automatic rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks, not just because of geographic proximity, but also because Vancouver used to treat the Seattle team as a farm club. Now they’ll be meeting on an even footing.

The big question now, of course, is what the team will be called. That WHL team started out as the Ironmen, changed to the Bombers and the Americans, before settling on Totems. It doesn’t seem like there’s any sentiment for those first three names, but Totems has a lot of appeal–though, as several people have already noted, it would take some significant outreach to avoid controversy over cultural appropriation.

Apparently there’s even some interest in reviving the Metropolitan name. I’ll admit to liking the idea, but it probably won’t go anywhere. Inter-sport name collisions are one thing, but conflict within the league is discouraged. The NHL has a Metropolitan division, so confusion would be inevitable, especially given that Seattle won’t be in that division.

Some of the other ideas the franchise owners are considering are also problematic. “Rainiers” is on the list, but the Tacoma Rainiers baseball team is only about thirty minutes away. Awkward. “Cougars” isn’t much better. Washington State University wouldn’t be too happy about that, and annoying a big chunk of your potential fanbase doesn’t seem like a good idea.

“Renegades”? Blech.

“Evergreens”? Maybe. It’s somewhat unique, anyway. But are we really ready for the reporting when the team loses and attendance drops? “Last night the Evergreens tried to answer the old chestnut, falling 3-0 in a mostly empty arena. Not a sound was heard.” Nah.

I’m sure we’ll hear plenty more as ownership narrows down the list.

Confusion To the Enemy

For the past several days, the sports section of the Chron has been full of articles about a pending game between the Giants and the 49ers. This has engendered a certain amount of confusion.

Clarification for those of you who don’t do sportsball of any sort: San Francisco’s football team is the 49ers. San Francisco’s baseball team is the Giants. Some little town on the East Coast also has a football team named the Giants.

I have to wonder, though, who would come out on top in a game between the two San Francisco teams. The 49ers are rather woeful this season. Maybe they’d be better in a sport where the opponent isn’t allowed to leap on the guy with the ball. On the other hand, the SF Giants were rather woeful themselves. I’d suggest they try another sport as well, but given their injury-prone ways, offering them a free concussion with every play seems unnecessarily cruel.

(For the record, the NY Giants aren’t looking so hot either. But they did manage to be just a little bit better than the 49ers and improve their record to 2-7.)

Anyway, it’s fortunate for my ability to track events of national importance that there aren’t many of this sort of cross-sport name collision. The Cardinals play football in Arizona and baseball in St. Louis, which must make for some interesting scheduling in September and October. That’s about it for active conflicts, though.

Historically, the Washington Senators switched from baseball to hockey when they moved to Ottawa. A complete change of, well, everything, was probably a wise decision, given that it took them two decades to move, leaving D.C. in 1972 and not settling in Canada until 1992. Moving sucks, but that’s no reason to stretch out the process interminably*.

* Hint, hint, Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders.

There’s surprisingly little confusion between baseball’s Kansas City Royals and basketball’s Sacramento Kings. That may owe more to the latter team’s ongoing irrelevance–they haven’t made the playoffs since the 2005/06 season, haven’t made it past the first round since 2003/04, and haven’t won a championship since 1950/51.

The real winner in the confusion game, though, has to be the thinly-disguised triple-sport team. They play basketball in Atlanta as the “Hawks,” hockey as the “Blackhawks” in Chicago, and football in Seattle as the “Seahawks”. And yes, it does engender a little confusion when headline writers refer to the later two as the “‘Hawks”. It’s easy to overlook that leading apostrophe.

World What?

I believe it’s a well-accepted truism that to develop life-long fans of a sport, you need kids to grow up with it. My own experience certainly supports that notion.

While I played soccer as a kid, I didn’t have a local team to follow during the critical years where my tastes in sports formed. Yes, there were the Seattle Sounders–the original Sounders–but they didn’t start playing until I was eight, too late to have a chance at a central spot in the sport-related portion of my brain.

(It probably didn’t help that, while professional soccer in the US was a summer sport, the Seattle kids’ leagues played in the fall and winter, probably to avoid competing with baseball for space on the recreation center fields. Seattle Octobers are a miserable time to be wearing shorts while running up and down a muddy field.)

All of which is a long-winded way to say that I haven’t been following the World Cup beyond an occasional glance at the headlines in the Chron.

That being the case, I was, at most, mildly pleased to see Croatia boot Russia out of the competition, given the state of political relations between the two countries–and because it put a halt to the claims that Russia was advancing due to bribery, political influence, and general FIFA corruption.

Let’s be real here: given FIFA’s reputation, most people would find a team doing well solely because of their athletic prowess more surprising than otherwise.

And in a vague way, I was hoping for an England/France final. Considering the historical antagonism between the two countries, it could have been the first World Cup match played with crossbows.

But on the other hand, everyone loves an underdog, right? So it’s hard to be upset about Croatia playing for their first ever World Cup championship.

One does have to wonder what the viewer numbers will be like in England. Is the love of football stronger than the sting of elimination? And of those who tune in, how many will be rooting for their traditional rival and how many for the new villains on the block? It must be like a Bostonian watching the Yankees in the World Series.

No, I’m not going to watch. At 8am Sunday, I plan to be curled up in bed, warm and dry, with nary a rain cloud or mud puddle in sight.

Too Many Choices

It’s that time of year again.

You know, the one where all the major sports are going at once. Baseball is in Spring Training, hockey and basketball are into the second halves of their respective seasons with the playoffs approaching, and football is all about trades and cutting ties with players who’ve been arrested.

On top of that, the ever-popular Oscar season is over and college basketball’s March Madness is just ahead.

And, just to make it a perfect sweep, Daylight Savings Time kicks in this weekend, leaving us to sleepy to figure out what time the games we wanted to watch are on. I stand by last year’s observation that there is literally nothing President Trump could do that would raise his approval rating more than to do away with DST. Okay, yes, resigning would be a more popular move, but it wouldn’t raise his presidential approval score. Somebody tell him how many jobs it would create, reprogramming all the computers and IoT devices not to make the change. Feel free to exaggerate by a few orders of magnitude; he’ll never know the difference.

But I digress.

Of course, this year we’ve also got the popular game of guessing which member of Congress will be next to resign and which member of the administration will be next to be indicted, subpoenaed, and/or censured. I jest, naturally. As long as they remain part of the administration, they’re in a consequence-free zone. Just ask Kellyanne Conway, who’s been found to have committed multiple ethics violations again, but will undoubtedly not be disciplined this time either.

But I digress again. Sorry, I’m a bit grumpy today. I take some consolation in knowing Democrats are misbehaving too. The resignation of the mayor of Nashville, TN is currently the top trending story on Google–stepping down is a condition of her guilty plea to charges of embezzling city money to finance an affair.

Ms. Conway’s latest peccadilloes scored two ranks lower than Ms. Barry. She’d probably have done better with a new act. Unless you’re the Rolling Stones, you can’t get away with doing the same show over and over again, after all.

Number Two, by the way, is searches for tornado warnings after Illinois residents were incorrectly informed a tornado was imminent. Not as attention-grabbing as nuclear missiles, perhaps, but enough to beat out illegal acts by White House employees. No word yet regarding whether this error was also a result of poor computer interface design, or whether the person responsible will cooperate with the investigation.

Anyway, I’m glad we’ve got such a variety of entertainment choices these days. Enjoy your sport-of-choice!

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.