February 8th, 2010

Kermit And Piggy

Best Super Bowl Commercials

In recent years, the quality of the Super Bowl commercials has kind of gone down.  This year, a great swing up.

My favorite was the Snickers ad with Betty White playing football.  I also liked the Bud Light one with the scientists partying down thinking an asteroid was going to destroy the Earth.  The Casual Friday ad for CareerBuilder was also funny.

Although, Bud Light overdid it.  They had several commercials, and only one really deviated from the set pattern, the house made of Bud Light.  All the others followed a familiar path of disaster, but we found beer, so let's live it up.  The scientist one was funny, but had it run later after, say, the riff on Lost, I probably wouldn't have laughed as much.

Nice try, Budweiser.  I KNOW the background music in your commercial was the main theme from the movie Stripes.  It's one of my favorite movies, and is a great piece of music.  Not saying there's anything wrong with it, just that I was less interested in the commercial because I was remembering the source.

Hmmm....I know what movie I want to watch while eating dinner tonight.....

Who's Next...To Complain?

I wake up this morning and start reading the news. And one of the things that pops up is a columnist bitching about the Super Bowl halftime show, where The Who performed. And some people at work were also complaining, saying that there wasn't much to it. The columnist based his complaint on how The Who is supposed to be so dynamic -- he called them, in their heyday, the greatest live act ever (I have one word for you -- Queen). And all the complaints seem to stem from one thing -- they were expecting an actual concert, not a halftime show.

Now, I did record it, but more out of curiosity than anything else. My expectations were pretty low, and not because of the age of the participants. I'm not a football fan, but I know halftime is twenty minutes. So, anything that happens eats into that twenty minute period. There's short interviews with the coaches, then commercials bracketing things. Then, halftime reports recapping the action and theorizing what adjustments the teams will make. Then more commercials before the halftime show. I figured this would cut the available time for a show down in half. I was close -- The Who's set ran for about 12 minutes. Part of the reason for the time delay is dragging the stage equipment out to the middle of the field. And seeing all the displays, I'm wondering how they lugged all that crap out there and got it up so quickly. The Who would probably take longer to trash it than it took to put it up. And this is The Who we're talking about, so that's saying something. And then there's taking it down again. So, 12 minutes seems about right for a halftime show.

The show itself? Not bad. Keep in mind, I don't much care for medleys. Just as I start grooving to a song, it changes. It's snacks, not full course. With such a small window, it figures, but I would rather have three or four full songs than these quick shots that rely on nostalgia and familiarity. At least "Who Are You?" was longer than the opening of CSI, I give them points for that (the music critic mentioned the song and that Pete Townsend overlicensed the song. During a show with a commercial for Dr. Pepper featuring KISS. You want to talk about whoring out a rock legacy, there's a bigger target out there, dude). However, they did do a reasonably complete version of "Won't Get Fooled Again," my personal favorite Who song. I wasn't getting into it at first, afraid it would change without warning, but it went well enough.

I also appreciated that The Who were clearly playing live. You could tell by the slight but noticable limits on Daltry's vocal range. One critic was complaining that Townsend didn't slide across the stage like in the promos and his heyday. Uh, just how young do you think the guy is?!? Compared to how the Rolling Stones sounded when they performed at the Super Bowl, The Who were almost studio quality (at first, I thought they brought in a Stones tribute band, then thought, why would they do that for the Super Bowl? I then got a good look at the screen....). Going live is a risk, and most performers lip sync to a DAT. The most obvious was when The Blues Brothers played -- either it was lip synced, or Jim Belushi had learned how to sing while holding the mic to his forehead. For my money, the worst halftime show was Aerosmith, 'N Sync, and Britney Spears "performing" together. Talk about cognetive dissonance.

So I think most of the complaints about the halftime show stem from unrealistic expectations. It did what it was supposed to do, keep the crowd wired up and viewers from turning the channel. I'm not saying they can't complain, just that I haven't heard any that can't be justified.


That's One Politician Taken Care Of, How About The Others?

Cohen has dropped out of the race for lite gov here in Illinois.

He did it in the middle of the Super Bowl.

He had his son with him, who was crying during the whole announcement.  Yeah, kid, if I had to face the media, I'd be crying, too.

Gee, what a prince.  Too bad he had to drop out, I think he would have been a force for positive change....

Okay.  I actually made it to the end of that sentence before I chuckled.  My self-control is getting better.

Basic Instincts

Love, sex, and math.  Three things that start out simple but get real complicated real quick.  And here's another thing that starts simple and get real quick:  what exactly constitutes being a good sport and what is understandable in the passion of the moment?

It's only now that the news is hurrumphing Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts, the runners-up in the Super Bowl.  (I guess they've gotten over The Who's halftime show.)  Supposedly, when the game was over, Manning didn't go out on the field to congratulate the winners of the Super Bowl.  He stalked off the field, pissed as all hell.  So people are asking, would it have killed him to be a good sport and congratulate the other team?  The simple answer is, no, it's a simple gesture, you salute your betters, you remember this day and learn from it, and go on to become a better person.  But here's where it gets complicated.

See...as far as Manning stalking away after a game he was ready to win slipped through his grasp?

I don't blame him.

I've played plenty of games (take the heyday of Mortal Kombat) where I thought I brought my A game, and through luck or bad management or whatever, I bombed out horribly.  I was upset and frustrated.  With my luck, sure, but mostly with myself.  These games, I knew what to do, how to handle the situation, and could execute the strategies and moves flawlessly.  In short, there was no good reason for me to lose.  This isn't a case of the opponent was better than me (although I've been in that situation, too, and it ain't any more fun).  I could have won.  I had it within my grasp.  And I blew it.  It's one part being pissed at myself and one part frustration because you know where you went wrong, and your mind plays it all back with clarity -- you are rubbing your own nose in your loss.  And the LAST thing I wanted at those moments was to smile, say "Good game", and shake hands.  In fact, searching my memory, the only times I seem to recall doing that is when the game is casual or experimental, when it really doesn't matter if I win or lose.

Conversely, when I win a tough game, the last thing I am is philosophical.  My heart is pounding, I can feel sweat moving through my hair follicles, I'm breathing heavy, and I feel I've earned the victory, I feel that brushing it off will minimize the effort.

Now, this isn't to say that, when I win, I start berating my opponent for being inferior.  Likewise, when I lose, I don't start hurling person insults at whoever beat me.  Which is sportsmanship to some degree (my buddy had an MK party at his house.  I beat one guy, and he threw the controller on the floor and then flipped the easy chair I was sitting in on its back with me in it before stalking out of the room.  A consensus was quickly reached -- the guy was never invited again).  But at what point are you considered a jerk for wanting to go off and sulk when things go wrong?

Conversely, does this mean that, if someone who beats you congratulates you for playing well, is he actually being condescending to you?

Like I said, it gets complicated really quick.  Or as far as Manning goes, to quote Chris Rock, "I'm not saying he shoulda done it...but I understand...."