Sunday, January 31, 2010

Super Bowl Week: 7 Days Of Hype About 11 Minutes Of Action, And It All Begins With My Motivational Speech For You. (Nonsportsmanlike Conduct!)

I sit here on this extra-cold Sunday morning wondering what the loud thump! was on our roof last night -- a loud thump! that, it seemed to me, came about 11:15 p.m. a time which also, it seemed to me, was the exact time that the loud thump! came on Thursday night, which can only mean one thing:


That's the kind of crazy-sounding-but-spot-on-thinking that almost-consecutive, possibly-at-the-same-time loud thump! noises on your roof at night leads to: it's probably pterodactyls, landing on the roof, drawn by the smell of cookie crumbs and pizza crusts you threw outside onto the porch for the birds and squirrels to eat.

When else would you realize, with utter clarity, that science -- excuse me, "science"-- was wrong, and that pterodactyls still exist, and that they're landing on your roof, the loud thump being caused by the fact that they have only short legs and are more gliders than fliers, so their landing would be clumsy? Of course it would! Of course it would thump! like that! When else would you realize the truth about pterodactyls but at night, when everything's quiet and you've just been reading your electronic copy of The New Yorker, the article about the guy who wants to freeze himself when he dies, and has already frozen his mother and his two wives, in hopes that science someday would wake them up?

It's that absence of everything else -- the absence of television, of 3-year-olds running pantless around the room, of 17-year-olds insisting that going out every school night won't affect their grades even though it clearly has -- that leads to the kind of clarity of thought which lets one know about the pterodactyls.

Absence of information can be as important as access to information (I'm pretty good with a catch-phrase, right?). These days, in the miasma that is our information, it's necessary sometimes to unplug and turn off and just sit.

And think.

And in the sitting, and the thinking, one can put together some actual bits of information that
can help one catch on to some hidden truths, things that nobody else has been willing to say, or think, or talk about.

You know, like the pterodactyls.

Well, SOMETHING is making that noise!

See where I was leading with that intro? The pterodactyls, and the things like them, are the reason I don't like to sit and think. Nothing good comes of sitting and thinking. If God had wanted us to sit and think, he would never have created a world in which cars can be equipped with features to let you read your email. While driving. That way, I could get those funny jokes on the way to work! What could go wrong with that?

I couldn't help it. It was LOLCATZ!

But, today is NonSuperBowl Sunday, the cruelest day of the year for fans of football, because there's no football today, and really no football next week, and after that, there's no football for months and months and months, so if it wasn't for Brett Favre retiring and then not every few minutes, we'd have nothing to do but talk to our families and maybe go up on the roof and see if there's some pterodactyl tracks there. On NonSuperbowl Sunday, the Sunday before Super Bowl Sunday, there's nothing to do because there's no football.

That lack of football is worse on NonSuperbowl Sunday than on out-of-season Sundays because right now, football fans are in football mode. Our bodies, our minds, our radio stations, are set to football. We're used to having games on Sundays, and games on Mondays, and even games on Thursdays and Saturdays now, and so when this Sunday rolls around with its no football none of the time, it's jarring -- but we can't let go of football, because there's always the Super Bowl next week, so we have to keep in football shape, as it were.

As what were?

Keeping in football shape today is tough to do because in the week between Championship Sunday and NonSuperBowl Sunday, the sports news drifts a little, talking occasionally about other sports, something I find annoying when it happens during the football season. Don't you know there's football to talk about? I sometimes ask my radio, in the voice I usually reserve for the kinds of drivers who edge out into the road a little too far before deciding not to make the turn. Why are you talking about basketball? I demand to know, and then go to put on my iPod, only to find that I've left my iPod home, along with my lunch and cell phone, because I had to carry around Mr Bunches all morning, since he was sad and needed me to cheer him up. (Needed me to cheer him up, specifically, by carrying him nonstop, including carrying him while I tried to put on my pants.)

The lack of football talk bugs me even more when there's only one game of actual football left. It seems all the more urgent to talk about football now, to savor it while we still have it. Basketball, baseball, NASCAR... all those fake, boring sports will still be around when football ends. But football is only around for another week.

And yet, the best the media could do this week is briefly talk about Kurt Warner's retiring, mention in passing that the NFL is suing about the dumbest team phrase (yet), The Saints' Who Dat, and then move on to something about Gilbert Arenas. Whose name always sounds to me like it's a place to play basketball. Or, more accurately, several places to play basketball. And the media doesn't even try to do that little bit today, NonSuperBowl Sunday.

Which means it's up to me, again, to do things right, to get the hype going, and to gear me, and you, and everyone else who reads this (nobody else reads this; I'm surprised you're reading it, and got this far. Were you expecting more cheerleader pictures? Fine, here's one:

Happy now? I know Sweetie isn't. Sweetie takes it personally when I post pictures of cheerleaders, even though she shouldn't, because Sweetie is the only cheerleader for me.

When she gets upset about the cheerleaders, I defuse Sweetie by posting pictures like this:

Posting things like that puts Sweetie in a bind because Sweetie wants to complain about the cheerleaders, but she also wants to see Mark Sanchez recreating a scene from Baywatch, even though she will later say I don't even know who Mark Sanchez is.

I'm left to get the hype going because on NonSuperBowl Sunday, the rest of the media is gathering its breath and waiting for Super Bowl Week to begin; they're all sleeping in and leaving people like you and me high and dry and worrying about pterodactyls, or whatever it is you worry about when left with too much time and quiet on your hands. (See that brown spot on your tongue? It's probably the first sign of a deadly disease. Better go look that up.)

I'm going to get the hype going by focusing on me, and you, and what we need to get up for the game, which is an inspirational multimedia presentation featuring some guys and some music and a slogan and stuff.

I was, myself, inspired to create this Inspirational Moment by Saints' Coach Sean Payton's own inspirational moment last week, the one he gave the Saints before their game against the Vikings to pump them up for the game and, you know, really convince them to win.

I'm not sure why football players need motivational speeches and presentations. As I've said before, they should already be really, really motivated because, remember, this is their job. That and all we ever hear from football players is how they're in this to get to the Super Bowl, to get a ring, to win championships.

I mean, we know that's a lie -- none of the players are in it for anything other than money. That's why we all do our jobs: money. It's nice to get awards and win things, but we wouldn't be getting up and going to work because they gave us an award every now and then. We'd just go get the award, take some of the free coffee and maybe a few of those cookies the receptionist brought in, and then head back home. We probably wouldn't even take off our pajamas.

But since football players pretend that they're motivated by more than just money -- money they don't get paid (really) anymore once the playoffs start -- shouldn't they also pretend that they don't need to get motivated to play a game? Shouldn't they pretend that they're already motivated to win the second-to-last game of the season, the game that, if they win, they're in the Superbowl (a/k/a, "the reason they play?")

All valid questions, to which I'll add another one: If they do need motivation, why are they motivated by the smell of a locker room?

See, Saints' coach Sean Payton, to motivate his team, put together a multimedia presentation in which he showed clips of various athletes winning, or at least doing things, and also he played the Aerosmith song Dream On, and then, at the end of it, to (presumably) great flourish, he turned on the lights and there stood:

Ronnie Lott.

(Former all-pro defensive back/four time Superbowl winner/apparent motivational speaker Ronnie Lott, that is.)

And the first thing Ronnie Lott said, standing there in what I assume was the Saints' locker room?

"I smell greatness."

At which point, Sean Payton handed out t-shirts (I told you this was a multimedia presentation) with Smell Greatness on them.

I was going to put a picture of a dirty locker room, then a messy locker room, then a messy laundry room, then, finally, a pile of socks, but apparently there is nothing you can google on the internet that doesn't lead to porn scenarios, so instead, you get this picture:

Presumably, there were no arrows pointing towards the armpits of those shirts, but that would have been hilarious if there had been, and Payton missed a golden opportunity there.

All of that -- Aerosmith's song, the slide show, the not-quite-ironic t-shirts, Ronnie Lott, Motivational Speaker, and the scent of 53 large men -- added up to quite a motivational package for the Saints, as they barely eked out a victory in the NFC Championship Game (and by "eked out" I mean "were handed a victory by five turnovers and a boneheaded penalty.")

Imagine, though, the results if the Saints hadn't been motivated by the smell of greatness/the smell of Ronnie Lott. Imagine if Sean Payton had left it up to the players to motivate themselves, by, say, telling them "Look, it's your job, all right, so just go do it and do it well, and you'll make some money." Would the Saints have been motivated enough by that to not lose a game that the Vikings desperately didn't want to win?

I think not.

Reading that Sports Illustrated article about the Saints' motivational speech yesterday taught me the importance of motivational speeches -- motivational multimedia presentations -- because with Ronnie Lott, Motivational Speaker, telling the Saints that the odor in their locker room was greatness, the Saints never would have made it as far as Super Bowl week (when, I assume, Payton will largely stick with what works, and will hand out Taste Greatness! t-shirts soaked in the flavor of greatness. The taste of greatness can best be described as "a little like lemonade-flavored Powerade, only uncarbonated.")

Thus inspired by just the recounting of the multimedia presentation, I have undertaken today to outline my own motivational multimedia presentation elements, elements that you, the fan and my reader(s?) are free to assemble on your own into your own motivational multimedia presentation to get you, the fan/my reader(s?) pumped up for your part in Super Bowl week -- the part where you have to listen to even more stories about even more players and endure even more predictions about even more things that could happen.

This is the week we wait for and dread all year: the week when the entire world seems to be about football (because football is coming to an end again), the week when the football present- and past-greats come out of the woodwork/rodeo trailer they've been hiding in to talk football and think football and smell football/greatness, and to make critical comments about Tim Tebow, and do all of those things that we love so much during the football season, only more so.

It's a demanding week for a fan. There's so many shows, articles, blogs, pictures, and reporters that we may not be able to keep up with it. But this is what we're here for, right?

(That's the part where you say: Right!)

(And I say "What's that? This is what we're HERE FOR, right?")

(And you say "Right!" again, only louder.)

(And then I say "Why are you yelling at your computer?")

This is what we're here for, but like professional football players who make in one year what I'll make in 10, if I'm lucky, we may need a little more motivation to do what's expected of us, and without further ado (thank God!) I'm going to give you the tools you need to put together, this week, your own multimedia presentation that will serve to inspire you, to urge you on, to make you just a tiny little bit better, and, of course, to put a positive spin on that peculiar odor that you thought was stale graham crackers, but which is actually... greatness.

Here's what you'll need:

First, an inspirational song. Sean Payton chose Dream On by Aerosmith. I'm not sure that was the best message, because while that song does talk about how you've got to lose to know how to win, it also includes this refrain:
Sing with me, sing for the year Sing for the laugh, sing for the tears Sing with me, if it's just for today Maybe tomorrow, the good lord will take you away, yeah

Which is kind of a grim philosophy, and also makes me think "If tomorrow the good Lord is going to take me away, I might not spend tonight playing football, but would probably rather spend some time with my family, or at least make amends for some of the things I've done, things that I'm certainly not going to detail in this blog, at least until the statute of limitations runs out."

The song you pick should be personal to you, a song that motivates you, but it should also have a broader appeal and should focus on your particular role in this week, that role being "a person who watches TV, and probably also eats snacks." (That's my role, at least.) And while everyone can choose their own song, you can also feel free to use one of the ones I'm considering. Here's the songs I'm thinking I might use:

After Hours, by We Are Scientists:

That song has the benefit of having a really good, driving beat, and the right kind of challenging tone: This door is always open/no one has the guts to shut us out. And, to make it perfect for fans, it's really about drinking: I guess there's always hope that/someplace will be serving after hours. So time means nothing when it comes to finding a place to go on drinking, is the message We Are Scientists is sending.

God Monkey Robot, by The Apparitions. "Monkeys make everybody happy," Sweetie once proclaimed, but monkeys, in the form of an allegorical song about human evolution followed by God wiping everything out in Armageddon, can also inspire people like you and me to new heights of fandom:

It's got that line: And the man and the monkey their minds went blank/they were both watching reruns the rating were great, which lets you know your role in the teledrama that will be hyped this week. You're going to watch. (Plus, one of my favorite things to do in Super Bowl week is watch those NFL replays of all the prior Super Bowls, watch and feel nostalgic about the times in the past when I watched those Super Bowls, live. How often does one get to watch a documentary about history, when the history is history that one watched unfold live? Not very often.)(So the point is, that the man and the monkey watching reruns is me.)

and, of course, Common People by William Shatner.

Because it's about common people and how great they are. Common people like you, and me. Not those high-falutin' rich folk like Saints' Coach Sean Payton, who, after winning the NFC Championship, celebrated via a quiet little dinner featuring family... and Jimmy Buffett.

After you have your song, you'll also need a collection of images to put to that song. This is where most of you are going to screw up: You're going to choose sports images, because the Super Bowl is a sport, but remember, this is for you, not for the Saints or the Colts. You're not trying to inspire them; that's for their coaches to do via phrases like Smell Greatness. (We'll get to your phrase in a moment.)

You're trying to inspire you, so you've got to choose images of the things that will motivate you to get ready for the Super Bowl and your role in it. Things like the snacks you'll eat:

Where you'll sit for the big game:

The commercials you'll watch:

And, of course, the cheerleaders:

Simmer down, Sweetie. I haven't forgotten you:

With images like that, you'll be more than motivated for the week ahead, and the game. You'll be motivat-est.

(Note to NFL: You may be ready to sue people over the Dumbest Team Nickname Yet, but back down on me, because Motivat-est is TM Thinking The Lions, 2010.)

Step three of your Motivational Multimedia Presentation is the Inspirational Person who will come in and tell you how great your life will be if you (a) listen to him or her and (b) do what he or she has already done. The Saints had Ronnie Lott, who was an excellent choice based on his ability to repurpose smells for his own motivational motives.

You'll need someone that suits you equally well, for your purposes, remember. The Saints wanted someone who's been to the big game to tell them how great it is to get to the big game. You, of course, have already watched many Super Bowls, so you may think Well, jeez, I know what it's like to watch a Super Bowl, and you'll be tempted to pass on the Inspirational Figure entirely.

That's a mistake -- a big one. You don't know what it's like to watch this Super Bowl, and you probably have never really given thought to how to watch any particular Super Bowl best, have you? I didn't think so. You've never analyzed when the best commercials are, who the best announcers are, how much actual football action takes place in any given football game (eleven minutes or so.) You don't know nothin' about no football.

Or something like that.

So get yourself someone who does. Someone who knows how to really watch stuff. Someone like this guy:

That's Suresh Joachim, and if you want to watch TV, you want to know Suresh. This year, Suresh annihilated the record for most consecutive hours watching TV. It had been only about 50 hours in a row. But Suresh sat and stared at the tube for 69 hours and 48 minutes.

You know what I want to know? What made him break? He'd already been there for 69 hours, 48 minutes, so family, bathroom breaks, boredom, a real job... all that stuff had already been put to the side, ignored, in service of record-breaking TV watching. So what finally made him throw in the towel, stand up, and turn off the TV? What was it, Suresh?

Was it Jenna Elfman? Because that'd do it for me.

Suresh also holds the record for longest time balancing on one foot -- 76 hours and 40 minutes. Which means he was able to stand on one foot longer than he was able to watch ABC television. (He also holds the record for bowling -- 100 hours straight.)

(But you know what that means? The time is ripe for someone to set the record for longest time standing on one foot watching bowling on TV. Ready... set...go.)

Another possible spokesperson? WALL-E. He really liked TV, too:

Now, you've got Suresh and WALL-E speaking to you (and your family.) You've got your song (if you invite WALL-E, I'd go with God Monkey Robot), you've got your inspirational images to set that all to:

So the last thing you need is your slogan. Like the Saints' Smell Greatness, only not stupid.

Ideally, your slogan is short enough to fit on a t-shirt or a hat to hand out to you and your family. (It could also be printed on the tiny purple baseball bats you hand out to your defense, to give them the entirely wrong idea about what it is you're looking for when they play. Gregg Williams, keep in mind: defensive players tackle people. They don't hit them with bats. You who uses baseball bats to make a point? Mobsters. When you hand out bats to your defense, this is the message you're sending:

Which may be what you wanted to send, but don't advertise it, okay?

Your slogan to inspire you for Super Bowl Week and the Super Bowl should follow the time-honored tradition of including a verb and an adjective, ideally both of them inspiring.

If you can't think of any inspirational words, you could always do what one enterprising but still somewhat saddening person did, and ask Yahoo Answers. That person wanted to jump-start a novella and needed some words of inspiration to get going on it -- not the most promising start for a writer, but everyone begins somewhere, and I bet that if Yahoo Answers had been around when F. Scott Fitzgerald got started, he'd have asked for some help getting going on The Great Gatsby (which is the only book Lauren Conrad could remember the name of when she was interviewed recently about her own writing, and so she said she'd read it over and over, even though the odds are that Lauren Conrad can't read.)(The odds are, also, that Lauren Conrad never read The Great Gatsby since she said "It's a fun story.")

That inspiration-seeking writer got these words of encouragement from a spell-check needing helper: "umm ya theres alot sori i dont feel lyk putting all of them." So I don't recommend taking that route for your own inspirational phrase. Instead, just do what I do:

When I want something I say to sound important or majestic or awe-inspiring, I just translate it into Latin. Everything sounds great in Latin:

quisnam ate totus funyuns (Who ate all the funyuns?)

Cheerleaders sceptrum (Cheerleaders rule!)

Dulcis , vos teneo vos reputo Vestigium Consecro est fervens (Sweetie, you know you think Mark Sanchez is hot)

I think, in fact, that est fervens would be an ideal slogan. So I'm going to go with that. But feel free to create your own slogan, if you want.

So there you go. That's how I'll be spending the rest of the day, this NonSuperBowl Sunday of no sports and nothing to do. Later on today, I'm going to go downstairs, dim the lights, put on my slide show of inspirational images:

(It's safe-- Sweetie NEVER reads this far in the sports post), start the inspirational music:

Have my speaker begin, and by the time he's done motivating me (Making me Motivat-est)(TM Thinking The Lions 2010), I won't even need the Est fervens t-shirts, which is good because Sweetie would probably have them printed with this on it:

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