Sunday, January 24, 2010

Prince's Ode to the Vikings

First of all, this song is proof that you should never make assumptions about who loves sports. I always thought I had a knack for giving someone the once over and determining right then and there if they were a sports fan or not. Prince would have gotten an immediate 'not.' I mistakenly thought his performance at Superbowl XLI was just another stop on his grand tour of world domination... not because he actually likes football. And not to perpetuate stereotypes or anything, but who would have thought that football would appeal to a purple velvet-wearing pop icon with questionable sexuality who changed his name into an androgynous symbol?

Almost as surprising as Prince's enthusiasm for football was how horrifically bad his new song is. I was seriously hoping for another 'Little Red Corvette' or 'When Doves Cry' hit that I could listen to not only while being forced to watch football, but also maybe on the dance floor at a cheesy bachleorette party or something. Dedicated to Minnesota Vikings and billed as a "fight song" for the team, it reminded me of a cross between my junior high spirit song, a wacky rock opera ballad and a theme song from a role-playing fantasy video game. Take a listen.

And the lyrics! Oh the lyrics.

the veil of the sky draws open
the roar of the chariots touch down
we r the ones who have now come again
and walk upon water like solid ground
as we approach the throne we won't bow down
this time we won't b denied

Biblical language is sooo hot right now. You'd think he was singing about the rapture or something, but nope, it's Minnesota Vikings football. He must have received a heavenly vision that he hadn't had any publicity in a while and needed to ride on the Vikings' coattails to get back in the news for a couple days.

raise every voice and let it b known
in the name of the purple and gold
we come in the name of the purple and gold
all of the odds r in r favor
no prediction 2 bold
we r the truth if the truth can b told
long reign the purple and gold

Now wait just a minute there. Now that I think about it, maybe it does make sense that Prince likes the Vikings. Purple and Gold!? His signature colors? I'm not saying, I'm just saying.

the eyes say ready 4 battle
no need 4 sword in hand
we r all amped up like a rock n roll band
ready 2 celebrate every score
ready 2 fight the elegant war
ready 2 hear the crowd roar

The lyrics from this verse are a pretty rousing attempt at a rally cry -- amped! fight! roar! -- but the eerie, disorienting melody would take just about all the "fight" out of any athlete I know. Not that I'd know what motivates a football player or anything, but he should have taken cues from the classics - "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor or Van Halen's "Jump!" or ACDC's "TNT." Or basically anything you'd find on a high school varsity team's warm up mix tape.

r spirits may b tired
r bodies may b worn
but since this day is r destiny
r history - that's y we must b
4ever strong as the wind that blows the Vikings' horn
in the name of the purple and gold

I have to wonder, what's up with all the teenager abbreviations for 'to' and 'for.' After all, The Artist is a sophisticated, worldly man of unlimited means. And I am an editor that judges. So I'd expect him to be 'above' using numbers in place of prepositions.

Anyway, I don't really care who wins tonight (shocker, right?) but I will give Prince an 'A' for effort.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

FINALLY, Study Validates That Football is a Waste of Time

11 minutes.

The time it takes you to boil water.

The number of minutes it takes to warm up your car in the frigid Chicago winter months.

The amount of time it takes to get your drink from Starbucks on a good day.

11 minutes. 660 seconds. Approximately the time it takes me to finish a blog post.

Where am I going with this? What is so significant about 11 minutes, you may ask? Well, do I have news for you. Apparently, 11 minutes is what a Wall Street Journal article recently concluded is the amount of time the football is in play on the field. In short, the actual amount of action in a typical football game.

But wait a second, you say. 11 minutes? What on earth could be worthy of broadcasting the rest of the time? Well let me tell you, dear readers, it isn't pretty. If you hadn't already guessed, most of the 2+ hour broadcast is all filler: commercials, replays, commentary and - lord have mercy - the players STANDING AROUND. The article concludes that:

"As many as 75 minutes, or about 60% of the total air time, excluding commercials, is spent on shots of players huddling, standing at the line of scrimmage or just generally milling about between snaps."

For you visual people, a diagram that shows the most frequent parts of the broadcast

The article also added that a typical play only lasts about four seconds, and the ratio of inaction to action is approximately 10 to 1. So for everyone one minute of exciting plays, you must invest an additional 9 minutes of your rapt attention when not a thing is going on. Do you have that kind of time? Because I sure don't ... especially to watch a bunch of overpaid meatheads meandering around the field.

This is the best day ever. FINALLY, finally an actual scientific researcher validates what I've been saying all along - that spending an entire Saturday watching football is akin to eating ribs with no meat left on them. A lot of hype that's more trouble than it's worth and leaves you with an aftertaste of anti-climax.

Now if you'll excuse me while I go home to say "I told you so" to a certain someone. Toodles!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Bears Take Out Ad to Personally Apologize to Me

Well, you can see by my minimal interest in this blog that the Bears season went downhill rather quickly. I've put forth no real effort for Sunday outfits, had scant enthusiasm for upcoming games and found myself seriously lacking for deep-yet-shallow football musings. The only thing worth mentioning, really, is the repercussions for this abysmal season.

I've realized what a strange league the NFL is in the last few weeks. It just does not operate under the same societal norms as the rest of the country. Here are some examples: Wall Street executives of major public companies pissed away trillions making risky bets, and still got praised for their efforts with seven-figure bailout packages. Anyone with a career in HR knows that it takes at LEAST several mistakes (and a mountain of paperwork) to fire an underperforming employee at a company. Hell, even people who flip burgers tend to have no consequences for their rude 'tudes. But the NFL? If you have one bad season, your job is seriously IN JEOPARDY. For realz. In America, the land of second changes, the stark consequences for sucking seriously threw me for a loop.

The reason I mention this is because Lovie Smith, the Bears head coach, has set the city abuzz with his underperformance. There was a week or two when every guy in Chicago was just waiting with baited breath for the announcement that Lovie had been given his walking papers, along with the Bears' "offensive coordinator." (I put that in quotes because I feel like it's something like "extraterrestrials" or "Operation Iraqi Freedom" -- a murky concept I've often heard about but still have no idea what it really means.)

It was announced earlier this week (after some serious rampant speculation) that he was not fired, and he has since publicly mentioned several goals for next season. This seemed to shock sports fans - that he narrowly escaped the NFL guillotine so often inflicted on losing head coaches. But then the team did a peculiar thing: it took out a full-page ad in the Chicago Tribune to apologize to the fans for its substandard performance this year.

I'm just stunned. Accountability? Remorse? Humility? Granted I'm sure the bright idea didn't come from the Bears owners or even coaches - more likely the public relations department - but still. And I'll run the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon by saying that "people these days" don't often display accountability and definitely avoid admitting failure at all costs. Take, for example, flacks who say things like "Heckuva job brownie" and "The system worked" and "Our client denies all charges and asks that you respect his privacy at his time." It's not often that people can come right out and admit they sucked. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that I appreciate the candor. There's nothing worse than untalented people who are praised and tricked into thinking they are actually good at what they do. And although Lovie Smith still retains his throne, at least the Bears will approach the 2010 season with humility and their minds open to changing things up.

(P.S. I still think the tagline at the bottom of the open letter should have been "Second City. One team." But that's the copywriter in me.)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tailgate Favorites

Food, to me, makes sports tolerable. Even if the game turns out to be a total bust, a solid lineup of appetizers makes can make or break the social experience. After all, you can only be down in the dumps about your team's losing streak for so long when you have a table stocked full of good grub.

When hosting a sports viewing party, providing a variety of comfort food is essential. But to be honest, I get so tired of the same old "seven-layer cheese, black beans, cheese, sour cream, cheese, salsa, topped with shredded cheddar cheese" dip that seems to be everyone's fallback tailgate favorite and cancels out an entire week's worth of exercise. Not only is it lacking nutritionally (that may be the understatement of the year), but it can only be eaten with tortilla chips that are equally as bad.

When I'm hosting, I like to create dishes that are tasty yet filling and won't induce heart attacks. (Let's leave that to Jay Cutler ... zing!)

Here are a couple of my favorites:

I'll start with the worst nutritional culprit on my list. These little mini wieners aren't the most healthful dish of the bunch but are definitely among the most tasty. Wrapping them with paper-thin phyllo dough cuts calories and adds a distinct crunch that dinner roll dough just can't match. Add ketchup, if desired, and make these your 'indulgence' option. (*Note: I don't consume any meat other than fish so I no longer eat these, but trust me, every time I smell them I question my decision!)

Cutting very thin slices of french bread can minimize the amount of simple carbohydrates in this bruschetta, making it a relatively smart choice for those who mind their figures. Since the topping consists only of tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, basil and a drizzle of olive oil (omega 3s!), loading the garnish atop a crispy piece of crostini means you can eliminate your usual post-game feelings of regret (well, unless you've made the wrong fantasy choice, in which case I can't help you there.)

Stuff these babies full of ricotta and/or pesto sauce and you have an appetizer that looks high-fallutin' but is simple enough to make while absentmindedly watching the pre-game show. Another option is to stuff the mushroom caps with leftover bruschetta mixture for an all-vegetarian dish. Even if you decide to go with the cheese, the portion size is right.

And yes, avocados often gets a bad rep because they are so calorically dense, but as long as you don't eat guacamole with half a bag of tortilla chips it's fine in moderation. Adding lots of tomatoes, peppers and/or onions to the dip makes it more filling without requiring so many avocados, and by dipping carrots, celery or other vegetables in lieu of chips you have yourself a tailgate favorite that's pretty darn healthy.

Now, all my hundreds of followers...


... I didn't include the step-by-step recipes because I'm sure you all know how to use Google. But do enjoy and let me know if you decide to steer away from the fatty dip of death and give these a whirl!

Athlete Gone AWOL

I fully realize that I've recently been the blogger equivalent of a benchwarmer. My lack of posts this month hasn't exactly exhibited team player behavior. For this I apologize.

But what better day to redeem myself than on M's and my one year anniversary! Nobody can be mad that I'm a bad blogger ... and it's a nice diversion from all the sports talk! After all, who wants to talk about football when you can look at wedding pics?

"I promise to love you in winning seasons and losing ones, in (Bears-induced) sickness and in health,'til death or injury do us part."

Toasting to our new life together ... the night I became a White Sox fan through marriage.

Heading back to the hotel room to rest up for the Sunday Bears vs. Rams game the next day ... kidding! :)

We've been celebrating all weekend, so I *guess* it's okay that we spend the remainder of the night watching the Bears take on the Philadelphia Eagles. I'm going go use this time to catch up on an old post I've been wanting to write.

No fancy game day outfit today, but I hope that my rat's nest hair is enough to hold your interest since, after all, there's not a whole lot going on during this game.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

GameDay Outfit: November 1st, 2009 vs. The Cleaveland Browns

Hoodie: From TJ Maxx, courtesy of my bargain-savvy husband (who now owns fewer Bears pieces than me... wheee!)
Jeans: Seven
Boots: Vintage
Sunglasses: Forever 21

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Another Shade of Pink: Brand Awareness for Breast Cancer

I couldn't let the month of October come to a close without addressing the other meaning of pink in the NFL: players and officials wearing various shades of pink to support breast cancer awareness and research. Wearing pink for the sake of "looking cute" brings out the snarky side of me, but you'll never hear me mocking anyone for dressing in pink-colored NFL gear to support the cure for breast cancer. (Although I do wish more money would go directly to research instead of marketing efforts, but that's a subject for another day.)

I consider myself a creative person at heart and I make my living through branding and marketing, so it's not surprising that I notice subtle nuances in the color pink. When I first saw that players and referees decked out in the official color of breast cancer awareness, my first thought was that it was a great way to spark dialogue in the homes of ordinary Americans about breast cancer prevention. My next thought, put forth by the relentless Debbie Downer in me, was that I think there's a missed opportunity.

Check out these hot magenta-colored sweatbands, which by now you've probably seen on most of the NFL referees and football players in the league. The color is bold and playful, immediately drawing your eyes toward it (especially when contrasted with the drab hues of most team uniforms). However, there is other NFL gear that ranges from dark pink to gradated pink to to baby pink, which I find a little bit confusing and inconsistent. I was surprised that the NFL's heavily-funded, usually very savvy marketing department didn't better coordinate with its vendors (Reebok, etc) to precisely nail down the exact shade each piece in the campaign should adapt. (We marketing people are crazy like that.)

Bubblegum pink shoes and magenta sweatbands

Magenta sweatbands and light pink gloves

Three different hues of pink

Pale pink unlike any other color in the palette

Now to you left-brained people, I know what you must be thinking: Who really gives a rat's ass when the main priority is to raise awareness about the second leading cause of death in women? And you would be absolutely correct, because that is the overarching goal and I already consider the campaign to be an immense success. However, there is a lot to be said for staking your claim on a uniquely vibrant color that immediately evokes feelings of familiarity, trust and brand awareness ... no?

Just as "Tiffany blue" is synonymous with classic taste, elegance and tradition, "breast cancer pink" could become instantly recognizable as the color for a cure. Because let's face it, sometimes when you see different shades of pink (especially outside the realm of the NFL) you can't really be sure if the person thought it went with their outfit that day OR if they're advocating for a breast cancer cure. A consistent hue would leave no question about it.

There have been dozens of focus groups which have found that, as minor as they may seem, subtle differences in color make a lasting impression in the mind of the consumer. Google has spent thousands of dollars and countless hours researching precisely which out of 40 different shades of blue its users preferred (and, not coincidentally, the one that makes them subconsciously want to purchase more goods online). As any Marketing 101 class will tell you, the human mind can readily associate specific colors with notable images or social causes, especially if they are used consistently. (The Orange Revolution, anyone?) And greater awareness means, hopefully, greater donations to fund research for the cure with less ambiguity about the cause.

So two thumbs up to the NFL, which deserves all the praise it has garnered for bringing greater attention to the vitally important issue of breast cancer. Now let's make it easier for everyone to identify with the brand and the cause by centering the campaign around a consistent, fabulous shade of pink.

(I'm partial to the hot magenta, myself.)