It kind of smells like warm metal, unless that is just the smell of the stove which I used to cook a pizza last night and sort of forgot to turn off, and have been sitting here hoping Sweetie wouldn't notice, only to have her exactly as I typed that sentence say:
"The oven's on!"
To which I said:
"It's... um... off" because I had turned it off 10 minutes ago.
To which she said "Was it on all night?"
And I said "Sort of," and looked squarely into the Face of Disappointment In Me, which I see a lot these days.
So I added "In my defense, we were doing a lot of stuff last night," which is absolutely true in the completely nonsexy way it was meant, as last night between 8:15 and 9:15 while I cooked that pizza I also had to find a helmet for an Imaginext pilot, give Mr F a bath, clean up the house and go up on our roof and get the snow off the satellite dish, for the second time this year.
That's all part of the Wonder Of Super Bowl Eve, that and the little miracles like Sweetie noticing the oven was on at the exact moment I typed that it was. It's little magical moments like that which we'll remember in the future, when we look back at pictures of Mr F and Mr Bunches, their eyes wide with the excitement of freshly-fallen snow on the lawn and the house brimming with the sights and sounds of Super Bowl Sunday, which today are:
The Imaginext Sky Racers show Mr Bunches is watching next to me:
And Sweetie's disapproving frown:
|Note: I am not allowed to put pictures of Sweetie on my blogs.|
Which is not ordinarily thought of as a sound, but if you're ever on the receiving end of it, you'll know what I mean.
You may have noticed that I am not talking much about the Super Bowl in my annual Super Bowl post, and there is a good reason for that: There's not much new to say about the Super Bowl, which doesn't stop people from saying the same old things about the Super Bowl every year, but it does give me pause.
Have you heard, for example, that there is a shortage of chicken wings this year for the Super Bowl? You probably have:
Chicken wings are always a story at Super Bowl time -- for some reason, people want to eat chicken wings, probably because people don't realize they were tricked into eating a garbage part of the chicken by the canny wife of a bar owner who wanted to rip off the Catholics. True story, as shown by my linking to my Super Bowl post from a year ago, where, I realize, I started with the lead "Can you taste the excitement!"
It's hard to say something NEW about the Super Bowl, is my point. Every year, it's the same thing: Chicken wings, the ads, the cost of the ads, whether Colin Kaepernick's biological mother is trying to get in touch with him only after he became a superstar, as she's denying she's not. It's completely coincidental that she realized she wanted to get to know him at the exact same time as he was becoming an NFL star!
I mean, what are you supposed to say about the Super Bowl that hasn't already been said, mostly by me? I've talked so often about how you can't even say Super Bowl that it's become part of the zeitgeist now:
and the trend continues, with even East Coast Liberal Elites stealing my thunder before I know I have a thunder, by which I mean: I thought perhaps I would post some great music about the Super Bowl only to find that The New Yorker already did just that, and it's a pretty good list, too, even though none of the songs are actually about Super Bowls, per se.
So what can possibly be said about the Super Bowl, or this Super Bowl, or any Super Bowl, that hasn't been said before? THAT is the mission of WHODATHUNKIT!?, the only feature anywhere that dares to tell you what it is you, sitting there reading this, actually want to know, even if you didn't know that you wanted to know it.
So sit back, enjoy the ride, maybe put on some Imaginext Sky Racers cartoons for a soundtrack, and let's get to
WHODATHUNKIT?! THE THREE THINGS YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW ABOUT SUPER BOWL 2013!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
But first, it's time for the NONSPORTSMAN! of the YEAR! award. Every year, provided you don't go actually check that statistic, I have given out the NONSPORTSMAN! of the YEAR! award to that one person or thing who most affected sports in the year... without actually being an athlete or sports figure at all.
Past winners include collective bargaining, the city of Cleveland, Barack Obama, and asterisk, and it's safe to say that this year's winner will match easily with that elite crew to join the most prestigious, exclusive club in the world, the holders of the Nonsportsman! of the Year! award.
We begin, as always, with a stirring piece of music to get the blood flowing:
AH! I love the smell of cartoon themes in the morning.
The runner up for Nonsportsman! of the Year! award, a position that in the past has been held by Elin Woods:
and...um... and... and probably others... where was I?
The runner-up for Nonsportsman! of the Year! goes to sports media!
Who demonstrated their dedication to not actually working for a living this year by complete missing the boat on a variety of news stories, leaving the "real" "reporting" to people like Oprah:
|Note: Also not allowed to post pictures of Oprah.|
|Note: did you really want a picture of Katie Couric?|
to get the "real" "scoop" after everyone in the world knew it.
As I've said before, to be a sports reporter these days, all you need to do is act as though you are an SNL parody of a character in a sitcom based on a wacky version of a sports reporter. Sports reporting not needed. As long as radio shows can feature people calling in to talk about how they would, if they could, ask Ray Lewis what he thinks of Colin Kaepernick's being a born-again Christian -- an actual call on Jay Mohr's actual radio show, which I recommend nobody ever actually listen to,
as long as sports fans are happy with stuff like that, sports reporters have the easiest job in the world, far easier, even, than 'regular' reporters, who simply have to cut-and-paste press releases into the newspapers nobody reads. Sports reporters can simply take call-ins from fans, and make incoherent rants (i.e., "to Jim Rome it") and then be wrong... over and over and over again.
I listened, briefly, to three guys on the radio this week get ready to make their picks for the Super Bowl. Before they made their picks, they said what their season record was picking games. The records were 34-16, 25-25, and 27-23.
The best among them had a success rate of 66%, and he does this for a living.
Why is that so bad? Because of this: the home team wins anywhere from 55%-70% of the time in every major sport, plus soccer and hockey. If you just picked the home team every time, every week (as I did one year for a football pool) without knowing anything else about the game, including but not limited to how it is played, you would have been right, in the NFL, about 60% of the time.
AND NOW it is time for the greatest honor bestowed by this blog, the 2013 NONSPORTSMAN! OF THE YEAR! AWARD which goes to...
I actually suprised myself there because my notes say: truth and I was going to award truth the Nonsportsman! of the Year! trophy (there's no trophy) right up until I typed lying, instead, but I realized even as I typed it that truth cannot win the Nonsportsman! of the Year! award, because the award goes to the Nonsportsman! who had the greatest impact on sports, and truth be told (zing!), truth had zero impact on sports this year.
It might seem just the opposite, because, after all, we learned a lot of things this year that had been hidden from us before. We learned that Manti Te'O didn't really have a girlfriend, we learned that Lance Armstrong had doped all those years, we learned that Packer fans have no idea what "cause and effect" is and we learned that athletes will spray deer urine on their muscles, which also meant we learned that the only easier job than sports reporting is sports medicine.
The truth, in 2012, was that Jeremy Lin wasn't that great a basketball player. The truth in 2012 was that the Saints didn't really have much of a Bounty Pool and that the NFL couldn't do much of anything to stop head injuries. The truth was that those head injuries were causing even bigger problems than anyone had suspected, including causing former NFL players to kill themselves. The truth was that Ohio State and USC had pretty good football teams that couldn't compete in the postseason because of things past coaches had done, while those past coaches enjoyed themselves in new jobs. The truth was that playoffs sent the University of Wisconsin to a tournament when it wasn't even the best team in its division in the Big 10, and the truth about the Big 10 was that it had more than 10 teams in it and added some more.
The truth was that Penn State's lionized, revered football coach covered decades of child abuse because he didn't want it to hurt the football program, and the truth was that in the end, it did not hurt that football program even after people learned that their unquestioning love of that football program was, in truth, a big reason why their coach could cover up all that abuse.
We got a lot of truth about sports in 2012.
And yet, what did it matter?
Are people not getting head injuries anymore? No. Drew Magary pointed out on Deadspin that head injuries may make the NFL more popular, not less. Telling the truth about his head injury cost San Francisco's Alex Smith his starting job, and so the world knows who Colin Kaepernick is.
Lance Armstrong lost all those victories... technically speaking, but what did that matter? If you were in those Tours, you didn't get to ever wear the yellow jersey, and it appears that nobody ever won them, now. Manti Te'O will still get an NFL contract and nobody is asking why a religious school helped cover up a huge human interest story fraud that might have helped Notre Dame play for a national championship -- this being the last year that opinions mattered in determining who was the number one team in college football, it couldn't have hurt that Manti Te'O had such an inspiring lie going on.
And that is the crux of it.
The Redskins lied about their star quarterback's injury, probably twice, to keep him playing, and they made the playoffs. Lance Armstrong actually won lawsuits in the past by accusing people of lying about him. He isn't exactly declaring bankruptcy these days, is he? ESPN got busted twice by Deadspin for lying: once hiring a con artist to write for it, and once faking a story about how Tim Tebow might play on a Monday Night Football game to get ratings up. (That last link shows how most of the Tebow news this year was entirely manufactured by ESPN for ratings purposes.)
All of those people profited handsomely by lying. They rose to fame, fortune, and glory, got to start in a national championship, got to head foundations, got to work in the sports field and go to Super Bowl week and mingle with legends -- a Super Bowl week that, by the way, has largely revolved around the story that it is the last game of a man whose career highlight is lying:
And lying about something serious: Ray Lewis was convicted of obstructing an investigation into a murder that remains unsolved to this day. Wonder if they'll mention THAT when he runs out onto the field?
My nephew was brutally beaten and murdered and nobody is paying for it," Baker's uncle, Greg Wilson, told USA TODAY Sports. "Everything is so fresh in our mind, it's just like it happened yesterday. We'll never forget this."Only Lewis pleaded guilty in relation to the case: for obstruction of justice, a misdemeanor. He originally was charged with two counts of murder but struck a deal with prosecutors in exchange for his testimony against two of his companions that night, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting.
Lewis never directly linked his two friends to the killings, and they were acquitted. Lewis had testified that Oakley, Sweeting and another man had gone to a sporting goods store the previous day to buy knives. Baker's blood later was found in Lewis' limo. Having fled the crime scene, Lewis told the limo's passengers to "keep their mouths shut." The white suit Lewis was wearing that night — on Super Bowl Sunday — never was found.
"I'm not trying to end my career like this," Lewis said in his hotel that night, according to the testimony of a female passenger in the limo.
He didn't. For his punishment, Lewis received one year of probation and a $250,000 fine by the NFL.
That's an excerpt from a longer story centering around the feelings of a family that has never received justice. Lewis did settle a $13,000,000 lawsuit brought on behalf of the dead man's daughter, for an undisclosed sum.
Ray Lewis has earned about $26,000,000 in the past four years. I'd say lying has been very lucrative to him. That $26,000,000 figure is before deducting the $250,000 for hiding what he knew about his and others' roles in a murder.
The lesson is clear, sports fans: Lying is what winners do. Not good people -- winners. There is (now) a difference. So if you want to play in the Super Bowl, hoist the yellow jersey, have your Catholic school play in the national championship, keep your football program running, hit more home runs than anyone else, or otherwise excel at sports, take a cue from the 2012 Nonsportsman! of the Year! and lie like you never met the truth and would punch it in the face if you could, and you will be successful at sports.
Anyway, with that depressing lead-in, back to WHODATHUNKIT!?, the BEST THINGS YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW ABOUT SUPER BOWL 2013, which is what I call it because I can't keep all those Roman numerals straight anymore.
As always, WHODATHUNKIT!? eschews (oooh, fancy!) those common sports stories for the story behind the story, or, more accurately, the story that is way off to the other side of the story. It is this post which is guaranteed to make you the life of the party by providing you with stuff to talk about that nobody else will be talking about at those Super Bowl parties, unless they read this post, which they didn't, judging by my blog stats.
Judging by my blog stats, only P.T. Dilloway and maybe Andrew Leon read this post. But they are both great authors, so you should click those links and bookmark their websites and then go back to them after you read this post. And no, that paragraph doesn't make sense if you think about it, so I suggest that you do what I do and never, ever, think about what it is I'm saying.
Instead, think about these three things that will amaze your friends, impress your enemies, and mystify total strangers who you approach at a bus stop and begin speaking to.
"Who was that masked man?" they will ask themselves, "And how did he know so much about obscure bits of information vaguely related to the Super Bowl?i"
Make sure you take off the mask before you get to your party! Unless it is a masked costume party in which you and your rich friends celebrate while trying to avoid a plague outside, in which case you are a character in an Edgar Allan Poe story and probably not watching the Super Bowl at all.
The rest of you, consider this: The First Real 49ers were sandwiches.
Or make that "Sandwiches." Turns out that when gold was discovered in 1848, the first people to get to the Gold Rush were people already in California, which makes sense when you think about how information traveled back then (it didn't.) But the next wave of Gold-diggers was not the Lohans (ha!) but instead were Sandwich Islanders, which might cause the bright folks among us (me) to ask this: What in the heck are the Sandwich Islands?
And also: Because they sound delicious!
The Sandwich Islands were the original name for Hawaii -- James Cook named them the "Sandwich Islands" in honor of his sponsor, the Earl of Sandwich.
That man, the Earl of Sandwich for whom the Sandwich Isles were named, became the Earl at the age of 10. In addition to possibly actually inventing the Sandwich, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich also was the Postmaster General in his career and held an admiralty position which he used to keep Cook exploring, and Cook paid him back by naming four islands or sets of islands after him. The name only stuck until 1819, when King Kamehameha renamed the islands.
The Earl of Sandwich may not have just invented the world's greatest meal; he might also be responsible for Oldies Radio as it exists today; Ol' Earl created a "Catch Club" which would perform "ancient" music, which Earl defined as "any music older than 20 years," which perhaps coincidentally is the exact same definition my kids use.
On the subject of sandwiches, you're nobody until someone names a sandwich after you, some wise man once said. (It was me.) So I went a'looking for a sandwich named after Colin Kaepernick -- maybe something on a pumpernickel? And I found this article about how Colin will get free Red Robin food for life if he wins tonight, which would be motivation enough for me, and he might need the free food: He was paid $607,500 this year, which is superhigh for regular people but superlow for a football player.
There's no sandwich I was able to find honoring Kaepernick, although there is one for 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh (the "Harbocalypse," featuring fried chicken, bacon, sweet chili glaze, avocado, and pepper jack cheese), and there isn't a "Flacco" sandwich for the Ravens' soon-to-be-more-multimillionaire-y quarterback.
But all that is besides the point, the point being why is "pumpernickel bread" called "pumpernickel?" a question I would answer except that in reading up on it I became aware that it is possible to work as a scientist who develops flavors, a scientist known as a "flavorist," and if you had that job you would be called on to create flavors for companies that can't be bothered to rely on natural flavors anymore.
It's funny. People talk about the 'rise of the machines' all the time, but nobody ever considers the dangers inherent in creating newer, weirder flavors, flavors that might destroy all of humanity. One site says that the FDA has approved over 1,700 different flavors, a stat I didn't find anywhere else and couldn't verify, so let's just say it's true and let's point out that since it is indisputably, scientifically true that there are at least 1,700 "safe," "government-approved" (SOCIALISM!) flavors in the world, we are about 1,690 flavors short on options for our Doritos.
Of course, one of those flavors is this:
HOW GREAT WOULD IT BE IF YOU WERE TO SERVE DUCK-FLAVORED POTATO CHIPS TO YOUR GUESTS TODAY? Soooooooooooooooooo very great.
"Hoisin" sauce, by the way, is "seafood" sauce. "Hoisin" is a corruption of the Chinese word for seafood. Those are duck-and-seafood sauce chips.
I want them and yet I REALLY REALLY DO NOT. But kind of I do.
Back to the point of this section: What we think of as "pumpernickel" bread here in America isn't pumpernickel at all. Traditional pumpernickel bread is rye bread that is slow-baked for a long time, with only a few alterations. Here in America, though, we ain't got time for that kind of nonsense, and so we get the dark, pumpernickel color by adding in molasses and some other stuff to rye bread, and then to make it taste different from rye bread, we add caraway seeds.
So our pumpernickel bread is a lie.
I say that just to keep with the theme of this post. And also 'cause it's true.
Which brings up my final point: Was there ever really a hasenpfeffer?
I say that because all that flavor-searching-around reminded me of "hasenpfeffer," and made me wonder if that was really a thing or if it was just something funny-sounding that Bugs Bunny made up:
But, as is true of most weird things, it exists and was invented by the Germans. Hasenpfeffer is "peppered rabbit," a kind of rabbit stew made by cooking chunks of rabbit in thickened blood, with spices.
Still hungry? Once Germans came to America, where apparently rabbits were scarcer or perhaps harder to catch, they made squirrelpfeffer.
(Perhaps, if you really have trouble getting chicken wings today, you could serve squirrel? We have about a zillion of them around my house.)
Those funny pioneers! Eating squirrels stewed in their own blood! Ha! Ha! And they lived in sod houses! We would never ever do that today.
Unless we could really pay a lot for the privilege. Squirrel is being served in some of the fanciest restaurants around, and by "fancy" I mean "British," and also "gross."
This is from the New York Times a scant three years ago:
RARE roast beef splashed with meaty jus, pork enrobed in luscious crackling fat, perhaps a juicy, plump chicken ... these are feasts that come to mind when one thinks of quintessential British food. Lately, however, a new meat is gracing the British table: squirrel.Though squirrel has appeared occasionally in British cookery, history doesn’t deem it a dining favorite. Even during World War II and the period of austerity that followed, the Ministry of Food valiantly promoted the joys of squirrel soup and pie. British carnivores replied, “No, thank you.”
These days, however, in farmers’ markets, butcher shops, village pubs and elegant restaurants, squirrel is selling as fast as gamekeepers and hunters can bring it in.
“Part of the interest is curiosity and novelty,” said Barry Shaw of Shaw Meats, who sells squirrel meat at the Wirral Farmers Market near Liverpool. “It’s a great conversation starter for dinner parties.”
HOST: Hey, great of you to come. Come on in, the game's just starting. Here, have a burger!
GUEST: Mmm. This sure is... unusually curious. What am I eating?
HOST: It's squirrel!
GUEST *spits food out, punches host in face, leaves.*
HOST: He never even tried the duck and seafood chips.
The Brits didn't just serve squirrel in the olden days of 2009. As late as 2011 they were serving "squirrel pasties," but they did that only because Elvis Presley ate squirrel as a kid.
Here are a number of alarming sentences from a 2010 article about how Elvis inspired the British to eat squirrel:
"But I can't see squirrel becoming commonplace in the supermarket meat sections – it's hard enough to find rabbits in the shops these days."
"I'm told squirrel tastes like a cross between chicken and rabbit, but David Simpson, who runs Kingsley Village shopping centre in Fraddon, Cornwall, reckons it tastes like wild boar."
"...one drawback is that squirrels are difficult to skin: 'It's not like a rabbit where it slips off like a sock – you really have to use the blade and pull the skin back.'"
The Elvis Pedia has this recipe for fried squirrel:
Fried Squirrel Fried squirrel is a southern food that's quite tasty when prepared correctly. To cook a squirrel, first go out and try to kill a very young one. This is the most important thing as old ones are too tough.
When skinning the squirrel, make extra sure to remove all the hairs. -
2 young squirrels, skinned and cleaned
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
After carefully washing the squirrels, pat dry. With a mallet, gently pound the meat until the bones are crushed and the flesh is tender. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a skillet (preferably cast- iron) over medium-low heat. Dredge the meat in flour, and add to the melted butter.Brown and turn. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the meat is golden brown and cooked through. (Pierce with a knife to check doneness. The juices should run clear when cooked). The process should take 25 to 30 minutes.)
This is what they say that looks like:
ENJOY THE GAME, and make sure to bring your own snacks.