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Monday, January 29, 2001

I never ridicule or demean anyone who doesn't like sports. I myself watch much less sports than I used to, and I understand how a person can consider this area of culture as being of little importance and no interest to them. This world has many rooms and many corners, and no one can possibly go poking around into all of them. That's why, despite this journal's name, I write so little about sports here.

But I don't appreciate people who ridicule or demean a person who does like sports, as if there's nothing there that could possibly interest an intelligent person. Following a team or watching a contest can be as much of an intellectual pursuit as studying the arts and learning to appreciate them. Playing the game can give you an exhilarating physical sensation that transports you beyond the confinement and tedium of daily life. Sharing these interests with others can foster a sense of community and connectedness.

What am I saying? Not everyone likes the same things. People should respect each other's passions and interests. Maybe I should have just left it at that. I think I'm just trying to come up with an excuse for spewing a few random thoughts on last night's Super Bowl.

Unfortunately, as soon as the Super Bowl was over, I couldn't remember most of it. I remember back-to-back kickoff returns for touchdowns in the third quarter. I remember wondering how weak the Vikings' defense must be to let Kerry Collins run wild the way he did two weeks ago. I remember Ray Charles opening for the Backstreet Boys.

CBS did a solid job of broadcasting the game, but this "eyevision" innovation where they showed 3D instant replays was kind of useless. It didn't reveal anything about the game, not that there was much to reveal. It wasn't much more than a gimmick whose most valuable role was to distract us from a game with little drama.

But I think the network respects the game, without giving it more reverence than it deserves. The commentators are serious and knowledgeable (but way too chatty). They don't make a circus out of it, the way Fox sometimes does. They told the real story of the game, that a team with an impenetrable defense has most of what it takes to win. This is true, by the way, in any sport.

None of the commercials really stood out as excellent or memorable, but there were several that I liked. I'm not sure what the "running with the squirrels" ad was supposed to tell us about EDS, but it was well done (like their "cat herder" commercial from last year). Budweiser did a couple of hilarious parodies of its own "Wassup" spots. And speaking of parodies, how about Bob Dole for Pepsi, sending up his Viagra campaign?

On the other hand, Accenture wasted a lot of money, unless their goal was to get people to say "What the -- ?" Not one of their commercials was either entertaining or enlightening, and they ran a bunch of them. (Jon Carroll wrote a wonderful column a while back about the name itself.)

This year's halftime show wasn't nearly as overblown and incomprehensible as the one last year with Phil Collins. In fact, I have to say that putting Aerosmith and 'NSync on stage together was inspired. The idea of just having them sing, play and dance, instead of all the empty pageantry that we've seen in past years, fit in with the mostly back-to-basics broadcast of the game itself.

As far as the new Survivor goes, I'm reserving judgment. The sixteen Americans "abandoned" in the Australian outback didn't really engage my interest, but maybe I was expecting another Gervase or Rudy. If there's one there, he or she didn't emerge during the first show. Still, Survivor is miles better than any of its imitators. It must be something about the rituals, and the scenery, and the evocative music.

I tried to get some work done yesterday, but it just wasn't meant to be. Everything I did turned into mush in my hands. It was either the curse of Super Bowl Sunday, an American holiday when nothing productive is supposed to be accomplished, or possibly the fact that I stayed up half the night before watching movies. (Did you know that as soon as one ends, another one starts? And this goes on all night long!)

Seriously, I felt like a three-year-old trying to color inside the lines. My aging IBM Selectric ate one of the preprinted tax forms, so I had to download a blank one and fill in all the information. It got so I was afraid to put a piece of paper in the typewriter. The machine just doesn't have the full functionality it once did. Kind of like me.

I suppose if I hadn't got frustrated and pounded on it (so many times over so many years) it might work better, even now. But I keep forgetting that if you hit the Tab key when no tabs are set, it makes a funny whirring noise and stomps its feet and pouts and resets all its own margins. Who wouldn't be tempted to punish such a disobedient typewriter?

But I have to take some of the blame. I shouldn't have tried to do anything after getting so little sleep. I'm sure I didn't make things any better by throwing a tantrum. After I finally got my DE-6 and DE-7 forms done, I gave it up and quit for the day. There are still three more days left this month, after all.

So I spent the rest of the afternoon, until game time, reading and bird watching. That made for a pleasant Sunday, more than I even deserved. I was enjoying all this unexpected leisure, and I wished the game didn't start so early (kickoff was at 3:25). But I knew I had to watch it, or I wouldn't have anything to talk to myself about around the water cooler today.

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Saundra also watched the Super Bowl commercials. (No collusion here. I wrote mine before I read hers. I swear.)

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