Two Offbeat American Holidays…..Back To Back

A Super Bowl stadium collaged with two images depicting Groundhog Day
A Super Bowl stadium collaged with two images depicting Groundhog Day

Winter

Winter is 13 weeks long….and depending where you live – this can be a short 13 weeks or a very long thirteen weeks. Also part of the equation is whether you enjoy outdoor winter sports……or not. For an avid skier, a warm winter with no snow can make for a very long winter and an economically bad season, as well, especially…. if he or she happens to be employed with the ski industry. However, for the most of the rest of us, it is a long ways from the winter solstice to the spring equinox. Perhaps, this explains why there are so many joyous holiday within this time period. Without Christmas, New Years Day, Valentines Day and St. Patrick’s Day, this quarter of the year would be a whole lot, less bearable.

Midwinter

Strangely enough,  two of our most offbeat holidays occur right at the midwinter mark. In fact, this year they fall on consecutive days. If you haven’t guessed it yet, I’m talking about Super Bowl Sunday and Groundhogs Day, which just happen to respectively occur on the first and second day of February. The combination of the two just might maks for a great way to revel in the fact that winter is half over.

Bad Year For the NFL

A recent news story about the jurors in the Aaron Hernandez trial illustrates just how low the NFL has fallen during the current season. Judy Garsh, judge for the Hernandez trial, has ruled that the jurors can watch the Super Bowl, only if the name of Aaron Hernandez is not mentioned. And, if one of the newscasters has a slip of the tongue, then the unlucky viewers will  have to turn the game off. Now that’s bizarre. Combine this situation with all the sex abuse allegations and the recent deflate-gate controversy surrounding the Patriots victory over the Colts and it becomes quite clear that the NFL commissioners (and many fans as well) with have very good reason to celebrate Groundhogs Day on Monday. Yeah!!!! the season’s finally over.

A Cult Movie Accents an Offbeat Holiday

Look through the comedy section of any movie DVD store (or online site) and you will see hundreds of listings with catchy titles that fail to deliver. Strangely enough, one of the perennial favorites is Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. When first released in 19992, the movie was well received and got favorable reviews. Since then the film has grown in stature, so that nowadays, the popular fantasy fare is consistently listed as one of the top ten comedies and sometimes even included as one of the ten best films ever. So if you have yet to see this film, you might want to give it a viewing. And if one of the announcers slips up and mentions Aaron Hernandez’s name, you can show solidarity with the 18 jurors and turn off the sports contest and put on the groundhog movie.

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Day After The Super Bowl

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Mercedes-Benz Superdome from Wilipedia, photo by Nicholas Williamson

Louisiana Super Dome No More

Although still owned by the state of Louisiana, the Louisiana Superdome is now known as the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. This little quirk in the name occurred because the state of Louisiana allows the team the authority to sell rights to the name. Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints as well as a pair of Mercedes Benz dealerships in the Pelican State did just that in 2011. Having once lived in the Crescent City, this name just doesn’t seem right.

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Johnny Unitas signing an autograph in 1964, from Wikipedia, photo by Joel Kaufman

Baltimore Team Changes

Strangely enough, I attended high school in the city of Baltimore, when Johnny Unitas was still playing quarterback with the Colts. So as a result, I still haven’t got used to the fact that the Colts are now in Indianapolis and a team called the Ravens plays in Baltimore. Nonetheless, congratulations goes out to the new World Champions.

artificial turf in Norway
Artificial turf in Norway, from Wikipedia, photo by Rune Mathisen

About The Playing Surface

When I did live in the “Big Easy”, I once had a two day job, setting up the Louisiana Superdome for a car show. The playing surface or carpet had already been rolled up like a Swiss chocolate and was sitting out of the way at the edge of the indoor stadium. And I must say that the green carpet sure looked thin. I would hate to be tackled on such a floor covering. Maybe the Saints need a real grass stadium.

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The Harbaugh brothers from Sports Illustrated

Forty-niners Fan?

I have always been a great admirer of Bill Walsh and his West Coast offense that featured Joe Montana at the helm. I guess that put me on the 49’ers side for yesterday’s contest. Believe it or not Sunday’s championship featured two brothers as head coaches, who were born less than two years apart. Both seemed to be channeling some of Bill Walsh’s offensive ideas, but after all is said and done,  congratulations are in order for older brother John, who lead the Ravens to a narrow victory.

Lombardi Trophy Returns To Green Bay

Zeta Oph: Runaway Star Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, WISE Team
Zeta Oph: Runaway Star Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, WISE Team

Congratulations to the Green Bay Packers, who edged the Pittsburgh Steelers, and rode to victory on the crest of three turnovers. Without these turnovers, the contest could have easily gone the other way, but that’s what football is all about. You can have the greatest team play in the world, but it is still possible to shoot yourself in the foot with penalties and turnovers. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

I’m always glad to see Green Bay win. It just goes to prove you don’t have to enlist the support of  a large metropolis to be competitive at the highest level. And not only is the Green Bay franchise given out to a comparatively tiny community, but the team is owned by the city municipality, instead of your usual billionaire tycoon. True, the iconoclast owners can be quite colorful to follow, but variety has its advantages also.

And then there were those lovable commercials. The one that stuck in my mind the most was the McDonald’s ad just before the game began. You know the one where the bears turn a car upside down to shake loose the last remaining french fries, while the previous occupants hide in the woods. There were many good commercials during  the game, but they kind of got blurred together. The one thing that came through was the large number of movie previews that got filtered into Sunday evening  viewing experience. They were definitely fun to watch.

All in all, it was a good night to be glued to the tube.

The San Francisco 49ers' Super Bowl XXIX trophy, photo by BrokenSphere from Wikipedia
49ers' Super Bowl XXIX trophy, photo by BrokenSphere from Wikipedia

Super Bowl Haiku

Mt. Fuji and The Sea off Satta by Utagawa Hiroshige
Mt. Fuji and The Sea off Satta by Utagawa Hiroshige

Applying poetry to sports is not an unheard of event, but it is a literary activity that is not usually applied to football. However, an opportunity recently arose to write a piece of Haiku about the upcoming Super Bowl, which features a contest between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers. The popular sporting event is scheduled on Sunday and will be played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas barring any unusual weather events or meteorites dropping out of the sky.

Haiku is an interesting form of short poetry, originally associated with Japan, but now popular in the English-speaking world as well. In this type of writing a short poem is created using just three lines of text. Each line has a designated number of syllables and rhyming isn’t necessary. The first and last lines each contain five syllables, while the middle phrase bears seven. Traditionally, Haiku portrays two juxtaposing images, which when combined, should reveal irony, humor and awareness.

In Japan, Haiku was often used to express some of the tenets of  Zen awareness, along with detached observations and comments on everyday life. In America, Haiku has become a popular method of reflecting our national past time, baseball, but associating this poetic structure with football is much less common. Perhaps this will change in the future.

Recently, I wrote several Haiku in honor of Super Bowl LXV, which is due to be played early on Sunday evening. One was published at Associated Content and the other two I have included with this post. Hope you enjoy.

Poem  #1

As the pack returns

Strong resistance heeds their path

The trophy is theirs

Poem #2

Heads clash in Dallas

The sound echoes everywhere

Then there is silence