By Dan Bernstein-
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
The following is my updated, annual viewing guide, since everything still applies, perhaps more so than ever.
(CBS) A year removed from the experience, we tend to forget that consuming the Super Bowl can be a chore if not handled correctly.
I remember, however, and I am going to make your life easier. Lucky you.
No other sports day is so demanding of the TV viewer. Not the start of the NCAA tournament, which pops you around the country in whiz-bang fashion, cramming your head with action, results and content, and certainly not any other major sport’s title games, which diffuse intensity and significance over the course of a seven-game series.
America’s largest secular holiday brings a level of size and weight to your wall-mounted plasma that requires strategy. The HUGENESS of EVERYTHING going on is something the viewer has to bear, too, and it gets tiring, particularly for a fan with no real rooting interest.
We are reminded at every turn how incredibly important every occurrence is, whether it’s the “crucial” first-quarter 3rd-and-3 or the zillion-dollar, thirty-second spot trying to sell you a car you’re not going to buy because you already forgot which one it was because the ad was so bizarre.
Here are some tips for you, if you are trying to care about the game:
• Watch at home, and keep people out of your house. People are stupid and annoying, and some of them look weird and smell bad. They ask dumb questions, make inane comments, and have misguided opinions that they spout unsolicited, in artless, insipid fashion. They drip globs of guacamole on your carpet and use the wrong wine glasses.
• Know the exact, published kickoff time (5:30 CST) and do not turn on your television until then. All pregame is useless, unless your goal is to become bored, impatient and angry. Or if you think you care about any of the players’ various rehabilitations, recoveries or “redemptions” from their addictions, injuries, self-made family dramas, or multiple felonies.
• If you cannot keep the TV from going on wherever you are, stay in the coat closet until kickoff. If anybody knocks on the door and asks what’s wrong, ignore them. Unless you have been in there for a while and are hungry, in which case you can then ask politely for them to bring you a few of those fried mac-and-cheese bites.
• Enjoy the commercials, but keep in mind that they will soon be in mind-numbingly heavy rotation for the remainder of the winter on pretty much everything that you watch. Even the clever ones will recede into the din by spring, and it will seem like the witless ones get the most play. You’d better like bizarre celebrity juxtapositions, anthropomorphism, and improperly-calibrated comic violence. The snack chips, beverages and tacos will still be exactly what they were before they were pitched to you by some combination of Miley Cyrus, James Earl Jones and Amy Poehler, probably with another awful, droning song by Arcade Fire or Kings of Leon.
• Don’t bet on anything, since you’re probably going to lose. Give that money to a charity, instead. Try this one, for example, for kids with cancer and leukemia: www.onestepcamp.org.
• Keep your expectations low for the quality of the halftime performance. It’s Bruno Mars this year, whose name is actually Pete Hernandez. He’s the guy who has you thinking more about other musicians when you listen to him, as in “That kinda sounded like Michael Jackson singing over a Police-influenced ska beat while trying to look more like Prince.” He may sing his hit “Locked out of Heaven,” which apparently tells of his existential confusion from being a Jewish/Puerto Rican Filipino.
• Realize that there is a second half coming. It’s easy to think you can turn it off after the music, since it’s, like, 8:30 already.
• Don’t eat too much or drink too much. A one-pound bowl of chili or three garlic brats early on in the game will make you logy and distracted, so control yourself, fatty. Nosh a little, sip a little, but stay sharp. You don’t want to have to re-watch anything.
• When the clock hits all zeroes, turn the TV off. If anything noteworthy happens, you can YouTube it tomorrow. Don’t worry — you won’t be the guy at the office on the outside of the latest cultural meme that evaporates by the end of the workday, and ends up in a Leno monologue after it has ceased to be funny.
Print this out and save it. Or wait until next year when I tidy it up lazily and run it again. Enjoy.