It's Friday, my Puddlers, and we all know that its no ordinary Friday—it's the Friday right before the Super Bowl. Everyone is finalizing their plans for Sunday's big game; buying the soda and bulk beer; ordering huge sandwiches; making sure they have enough super hot wings; and placing all kinds of prop bets. In order to properly honor the Super Bowl and fill in some content, I decided to borrow a feature idea from Grantland and start an e-mail chain where I asked all the Puddles of Myself contributors (and a SPECIAL guest) the following question:
"What do you think of the Super Bowl?"
As expected, the answers vary from existential despair, to extreme enjoyment and finally to classic, New York City mid-20's ambivalence.
Here's what the team had to say:
Superbowl Sunday is one of my favorite holidays and one of America's richest traditions. When else do we convene proudly as a nation to drink beer, watch TV, and slap five even though our hands are full of buffalo sauce? When else do we actually enjoy watching commercials? When else do we watch spectacle laden half-time shows full of megastars or Tom Petty? When else do we know that somewhere in this Godforsaken world our star-crossed lover is looking at the same moon (read: TV image) that we are looking at and wondering, "does he/she/he-she even know I exist yet?" And when else do we pray that once, just once, they'll bring back those guys who say, "whazzzaaaaaaa" and that you can afterward call your friend and cry, "see man, I knew this was the year?"
I LOVE the SUPERBOWL because I GET TO GO EVERY YEAR because MY FAMILY IS RICH.
-David Stern(man), live from MIAMI, FLORIDA
Alex Theoharides (@Minne_Pop):
The Super Bowl.
Young men and women of the world, here are 10 simple rules to abide by when it comes to watching the Super Bowl this Sunday.
1. Never ever root for Jim Kelly. He will ruin your childhood.
2. There’s no need to eat that 13th chicken wing. The first 12 did enough damage to your system.
3. If you’re hanging out with people who actually like football, don’t pretend you’re only watching the game for the commercials—it makes you come off like a jackass.
4. Every time Eli Manning makes this face, you have to take drink.
5. Every time Tom Brady does this, you also have to drink.
6. If your sister/mom/girlfriend/wife’s birthday is the same day as the Super Bowl make sure you give her something extremely nice before, during and after the game.
7. Thank whatever Deity/spirit/earthling you believe in that Al Michael's and Chris Collinsworth are calling the game instead of Joe Suck … excuse me, Joe Buck.
8. If you’re favorite team is playing in the game don’t watch the Super Bowl anywhere near people you love or care about dearly. If your team begins to lose, you will turn into this guy.
9. Whenever you’re about to comment that a commercial is especially funny or clever, remind yourself it’s a commercial, then shut the hell up.
10. Finally, at some point during the game flip to Animal Planet to watch The Puppy Bowl. Nothing beats puppies. Nothing.
Erik Gundel (@EPGundel):
"What do I think about the Super Bowl?"
It has been almost two years since the suicide wings. The wings of self termination, hara-kiri and seppuku. For those not familiar, Buffalo Cantina in Williamsburg offers their chicken wings doused in a sauce so spicy, it caused main Puddler Matt Domino to immediately start hiccuping. These are not wings to enjoy whilst joking about the shortcomings of this year's barely relevant half-time performer. If you are eating them, you will probably have a hard time constructing a complete sentence. Buffalo Cantina offers some kind of prize to those that eat six wings in six minutes; I couldn't claim to have achieved that feat, but I probably had eight over the course of two hours. I wouldn't say they tasted good, or were worth what I went through the next day, but it seemed like the right thing to do while bathing in the glow of the spectacle that is the Super Bowl. The game is rarely exciting; the commercials of recent years have been flat when compared to the Budweiser frogs of my youth, and the aforementioned half-time show only serves to remind people of their encroaching deaths (either due to the high-def wrinkles in Sir Paul and Roger Daltry's faces, or to the realization that the Black Eyed Peas must have just summoned Mayan terror ghosts on national TV.) Regardless of all that, there is no other day when it is our patriotic duty to sit in front of the tube with some friends, drink cheap beer, and eat disgusting, downright painful food. I never would have eaten those wings on a Tuesday night while watching Seinfeld reruns. Only the Super Bowl can inspire us to strive for new heights in immobilizing levels of sodium and/or spice. Plus, this year we can stick around and watch SMASH, everyone's favorite new show and one of this site's sponsors. See you there!
**Editor’s Note: The “sucide wing” situation Erik Gundel is referring to actually occurred during the 2010 NFC Championship Game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints—but the general idea remains the same.
Alex Ramsdell (@IAMMALICK):
The Super Bowl is a time to drink beer and eat corn products. I do that every day. My vote is: the Super Bowl STINKS. The Super Bowl as retold by ESPN Classic, however, is usually the Jam.
Ally-Jane Grossan aka Kitchen Princess (@aallyjane)
I don't give a flying f*** about the Super Bowl. It's all hype and commercials and bad wings that are never as good as you thought they would be. Alright, so maybe I don't really care about football all that much to begin with, but I blame that entirely on my Southern California upbringing and the fact that Los Angeles hasn't had a football team since 1994 (and yes, I just found that out on Wikipedia). Point is, I didn't grow up with football so that's my excuse. Although, I would like to be invited to one of those fabulous Super Bowl parties with football themed cocktails and gourmet pigs in a blanket. Ohh and Martha Stewart would be there. I think she’s a Giants fan?
Mark Jack (@DarkMark)
“The Spectacle appears at once as society itself, as a part of society and as a means of unification. As a part of society, it is the sector where all attention, all consciousness, converges. Being isolated—and precisely for that reason—this sector is the locus of illusion and false consciousness; the unity it imposes is merely the official language of generalized separation.” –Guy Debord The Society of the Spectacle
In the last few years, I have found it harder and harder to actually determine the space in which the football game takes place within the larger circus that is the Super Bowl. The glut of images around the field has reached epic proportions and spilled into the preceding days and even weeks, with best of shows and lists of the best Super Bowl commercials, etc. My local paper exhibits advertisements—I think, but maybe they’re articles, the paper is very short on resources—that show thick men wearing wrap around sunglasses and non-committal jerseys with mouths wide and arms raised while small, blonde women dressed similarly crouch around them, doing the same while remaining spectators of the men’s ultimate fandom. I think they’re selling food. It’s hard to tell. I know I’m being sold some image of my self as a member of a community, and the desire to join them—the thick men and small blonde women—is strong.
The Super Bowl is some times a dull game, and I’ve found it interesting that, during those less than spectacular game years, we do not witness a lessening of the media surrounding the game. It would seem appropriate to expect the multimillion dollar, first run commercials to be replaced by cheap, un-funny ones we’ve all seen before, if the games is not exhibiting all the drama and flair we expect of it. Instead, we just flip over to the Puppy Bowl for a little longer. I want desperately to dislike the amount of crap that has crowded around the small rectangle of green, but in the end the game does determine how we feel about all that surrounds it, and the whole experience determines (somewhat) the way we view ourselves culturally. I’m sure that advertisements like the one in my local paper, contribute to some critique of Americans as brutish and sort of dumb, but I think that is a foolish misreading. Rather, if we witness this spectacle with an informed eye we see not only all the crass commercialism and sexism and violence, but also humor and the critical distance of irony and the fundamental appeasement of play, which I believe is essential to informed living. Generally we don’t kill each other over this game, as is the hallmark of that other football, and instead we just have a lot of fun forging connections. However, we mustn’t let the connection be forced merely into falsity and illusion. Rather, the image of our unity shown to us should be recognized as being mirrored, and so slightly imperfect, and incapable of forging true unity, but in our wariness of this forced separation within the illusion of connection, we might force real community.
The Super Bowl is a spectacle.
Dr. Kerri Scales (@KerriLScales)
The Super Bowl? I've only been to one Super Bowl. This is the one we're talking about right ? I went there when I was traveling to attend to a client named Mack Mhite back in 2007. We toured the Motor City and eventually, he was able to overcome his issues.
Wait, what were you talking about?
Matt Domino (@PuddlesofMyself):
Let me tell you something about this Super Bowl. It’s not actually happening. This is not some kind of metaphysical rambling or viewpoint on life, but merely a state of fact based on my perception of reality. See, when the Philadelphia Eagles aren’t in the Super Bowl, to me, that means the game doesn’t actually happen. So, there have been quite a few Super Bowls that have never happened in my eyes. In fact, there have actually only been two Super Bowls. One in 1980 and the other in 2005. And the one in 2005 was brutal because the Eagles finally made the Super Bowl and we had a keg and wings and Italian sandwiches at my older friends’ decrepit off campus house. There were girls there and there were people partying in the apartment upstairs. TiVo had just been invented so we were messing around with that all day. We watched the game. My great friend/older brother Blake was Patriots fan and I was an Eagles fan. We were at odds and drinking beer and ripping on each other and our friends. The game was tight all the way into the fourth quarter. As the fourth quarter began, we heard cheering from upstairs, but there had been no great play on our screen. Then people stomped down the stairway, screaming. A girl who had just stopped dating our friend Mischa ran in and said, “GO PATS! FUCKING PATS!!” We all stared at her.
“What the fuck are you talking about?” Blake said.
“The Pats just won.”
“No, it's the fourth quarter.”
“I don't know what you guys are talking about.”
Blake and I looked at each other. Then our friend grabbed the remote control and hit the fast forward button on the TiVo. The game began unspooling in front of our eyes, commercials flashed by, Donovan McNabb ran the slowest Two-Minute Drill of all-time. I was crushed.
“I don’t even feel like we won,” Blake said.
It was a fitting end for the first Super Bowl that I—a die-hard Eagles fan who had ripped his phone out of the wall and smashed it against the wall of his dorm room on the first Sunday of freshman year thus horrifying his new roommate David Stern(man)—had ever seen the Eagles play in.
So every year, when I am usually watching a game that is not actually happening, the game/day is all about drinking some “warming” Sunday beers with friends and eating wings and an Italian sandwich or hopefully some new “weird” salsa that is spicy and doesn’t have any fruit or mango in it. Also I like to make fun of the teams that are playing and accuse them of being on HGH, just like I did in the World Series this year and last year when the Cardinals and Giants both beat an underachieving Philadelphia Phillies juggernaut. I usually make the funniest jokes out of anyone watching the game and am treated/regaled as a hero.
Then, after the game, I kick my feet up and trick anyone is still sitting around into watching Rosemary’s Baby. It don’t get much better than that.
Kevin Arkell (@REALTavis):
I would love to answer the question, but I don't think I have it in me.
It's actually a really ambivalent experience for me. I should like the Patriots, I grew up liking the Patriots and everyone I grew up with likes the Patriots, but in college, as you know, I was forced by you (Matt Domino), Chief and Blake to like the Seahawks. When I moved to New York, I half-ass chose to like the Jets and Favre to annoy you and Chief and other people, and the only games I’ve watched since moving to St. Louis are Rams games. But I’m no Rams fan by any means. I’m a front-running Redbird guy all the way.
You understand my pain, right? The sense of uncertainty, the terrifying prospect that I might never really know who I am?
And enjoy the Super Bowl, everyone!