Saturday, February 01, 2014

America asks: What time is the Super Bowl?

Friday evening's edition of the public radio show, Marketplace, ended with this squib by host Kai Ryssdal:

This final note which comes to us courtesy of the letters SEO. As in search engine optimization. So here you go: What time is the Super Bowl? (It starts at 6:30 p.m. ET, by the way.) Turns out most people, don't know how to spell Superbowl. Helpful hint: It's actually two words, both capitalized. A couple years back the Huffington Post published a story titled, "What time does the superbowl start?," just to game the web traffic. And, of course, it blew up. The rest of the Internet keeps trying to get a piece of that Super Bowl traffic. This year's version... the search words of choice … Superb owls.
That set me to thinking: What other questions are Americans asking the Google gods about the Super Bowl (or the "Big Game," as any unlicensed advertiser says to avoid trademark litigation)?

For instance, some people wonder, What is the best snack food for Super Bowl Sunday?

The Food Network has a hefty answer: "50 Super Bowl Snacks," from chunky guacamole to mini veggie pockets.

You might want to know, What is the best beer to drink during the Super Bowl?

Matt Rudnitzky of Sports Grid offers more than one choice in "Super Bowl BEER POWER RANKINGS: Buy These 9 Delicious Beers, Be Your Party’s Hero." His number one answer: "A German hefeweizen from Heaven, Germany."

If you want to combine those two questions, I recommend this article by my sister, who blogs as the Bierlady, called (naturally) "Cooking with Beer." There are some good recipes there.

Another question that comes to mind: What are the best Super Bowl commercials?

CNN is on top of that story already. Correspondent Breeanna Hare recommends "Seven Commercials to Watch" during the 2014 Super Bowl,including spots featuring Anna Kendrick, the Muppets, Noah's ark, and puppies.

Speaking of puppies, some people may want to know: "What time is the Puppy Bowl?" It turns out that the tenth addition of the adorability classic kicks off at 3:00 o'clock p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Sunday, February 2, on Animal Planet.

Here's a query you might not have thought about. What's the best book about the Super Bowl?

I know nothing about football, and therefore even less about football literature, but I'll go out on a limb and recommend The Ultimate Super Bowl Book: A Complete Reference to the Stats, Stars, and Stories Behind Football's Biggest Game - and Why the Best Team Won, a 2009 volume by Bob McGinn. At least it looks comprehensive.

Is there a "best movie about the Super Bowl"?

Again, I don't have a good base of knowledge from which to make a judgment, but Chris Eggertsen, Daniel Fienberg, Josh Lasser, Drew McWeeny, Melinda Newman, and Alan Sepinwall have created a list of the "10 greatest football films of all time" on HitFix.

Their choices include The Marx Brothers' Horse Feathers from 1932, which I have actually seen, as well as the tearjerker 1971 TV movie, Brian's Song. Also on the list is Harold Lloyd's silent classic, The Freshman, and Sean Astin's 1993 star turn in Rudy.

Tom Cruise's follow-up to Risky Business, All the Right Moves, is listed, along with Heaven Can Wait, the 1978 Warren Beatty-Buck Henry remake of Here Comes Mr. Jordan, and the Burt Reynolds' prison comedy, The Longest Yard (but not the 2005 remake with Chris Rock and Adam Sandler).

The last three on the HitFix list are Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday, Peter Berg's Friday Night Lights (which became a TV series), and another Tom Cruise vehicle, Jerry Maguire,which won an Academy Award for Cuba Gooding, Jr.

Somehow the 1977 John Frankenheimer thriller, Black Sunday, did not make the list. Maybe the plot about a deranged Vietnam veteran facilitating a terrorist attack on a football stadium from the Goodyear Blimp was too distasteful to merit its inclusion.  (That movie starred one of this year's Oscar nominees, Nebraska leading actor Bruce Dern.)

Given that this is the tenth anniversary of "Nipplegate," the half-time show that gave the world the term "wardrobe malfunction," there may be a few people who wonder who this year's Super Bowl half-time entertainers will be.

It's a good bet not to be Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson.  Or Justin Bieber.

No, this year the musical performers will be Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I'm guessing the former is meant to attract younger viewers and the latter group aims to satisfy the older crowd.

By the way, do you know who the most frequent Super Bowl half time performers have been?

According to The First Book of Seconds by Matthew Murrie & Steve Murrie,  the Grambling State University marching band played at the first two Super Bowl games (in 1967 and 1968) and four more times after that.  The squeaky-clean choral group, Up with People, has played the Big Game five times.

Finally, in answer to the question that started this whole discussion, the broadcast of the NFL's Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos will begin on Fox at 6:30 p.m. EST.  Check your local listings.

As for "superb owls"? I have no idea. Maybe there's an ornithology blog that can point you in the right direction.

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