Fierce Anticipation: The Joe Rusin Edition Feb05

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Fierce Anticipation: The Joe Rusin Edition

a substitute blogumn by Joe Rusin

This is not Ryan Dixon.  Ryan is currently on a mysterious hiatus, perhaps dealing with a lawsuit filed by the recently defamed Fitzgibbon family (or recovering from a particularly nasty case of “Fitz germs”).   Fear not, for he will doubtlessly return to these margins shortly.

Until then (or at least for this week), you’re stuck with me.  Joe.  Rusin.  Or, as I am periodically referred to here as  “my roommate Joe.”  I find it a bit odd to be filling in on a column that is really about the obsessions of its author, but I will do my best to keep within the parameters of this (gag) “blogumn” even if it means employing that word.

So for those of you who are still with me…



heismanIt’s that time again.  Time for people who don’t know the difference between a zone blitz and a wing takeout place to take an interest in the sport of American Football, and for those of us who have spent (wasted?) countless hours throughout the season watching and tracking games, players, and stats to feel a sense of superiority and, yes, disdain toward these bandwagon interlopers.  This is, of course, ridiculous.  Especially for me, who until the year 2005 was one of said interlopers.   In undergraduate college in Pittsburgh, I never followed football, or any other sport for that matter.  I was into the arts—film, theater, music, and pontification.  There simply wasn’t time or interest in my schedule to set aside three or more hours a week watching people play a game.  There was bad theater to see and criticize.  Or long debates to be had about which roommate’s soiled cereal bowl had been fermenting in the sink for the past week.  Still, even the younger, snobbier Joe made time annually to watch the Super Bowl.  Why?

Because the Super Bowl is for everyone.

superbowlIn a time when we have literally a thousand channel options to choose from, the Super Bowl is the only thing (other than American Idol) that everyone in America watches together, live.  It’s a non-religious national holiday for us (though for some of us football is the closest thing we have to a religion).  I read somewhere that Super Bowl Sunday is now the second biggest day of food consumption in the U.S., just behind Thanksgiving (citation not needed—just trust me).  It brings us together like no other marketed entertainment event.

And it really has something for everyone.  The famous commercials aired during the game amount to a more entertaining and artistically accomplished evening than the entire Short Film Competition at the Sundance Film Festival.  The halftime show featuring aging rock acts serves as a reminder that there is still life after 60.  And the game…the game reminds us that no matter how much it hurts when we stub our toe in the shower, there are people performing remarkable physical feats who are experiencing pain that would make the rest of us curl into a little ball and cry.

My Steelers didn’t make it to the Super Bowl this year.  But if I didn’t miss the big game when I was a chubby, pretentious theater student, you damn sure better bet I won’t miss it now.

Some of my favorite Super Bowl moments after the jump:

James Harrison and the longest play in Super Bowl history.

David Tyree’s incredible catch.

Santonio’s last minute touchdown.

Chicago Bears Superbowl Shuffle



2010olympicsYes the Olympics are wonderful and majestic.  The great human-interest stories about Olympic athletes overcoming the odds are being thrown at us like the word “socialism” at a tea bagger rally.  But really, how much investment do we have in the Winter Olympics?  Most of it is just sliding down icy hills at high speeds while trying not to fall or crash.  I know it requires great skill, athleticism, and guts to compete in downhill skiing, luge, bobsled, or really any of the winter events.  Even curling requires the courage to represent oneself as a competitive high school janitor in front of the world.  But these events are so repetitive.  After the third bobsled heads down the run, we pretty much get the gist of what the next hour of competition is going to be like.  And really, it’s only interesting when the competitors fail.  Admit it—the only reason to watch the ice dancing competition is in the hope that the guy is going to drop the girl in the midst of a spin and accidentally launch her, sharp skates flashing, at the judges’ table.  Or maybe that’s just me.

So why do I kinda want to watch?  Part of the reason is the afore-mentioned sense of communion with the masses.  While the TV ratings aren’t as big as the Super Bowl, people all over the world will be tuning in to watch this.  It’s downright isolationist to not join this global village of couch potatoes.

But the bigger reason I want to watch is hockey.  The biggest names in the sport are going to be competing in this Olympics as Team Canada strives to defend its home turf against the seemingly unstoppable Russian team.   To give you an idea how charged this competition will be, imagine if German engineers had created the fastest stock car in the world, and the German team were planning on breaking the speed record before the gathering of Southern NASCAR fanatics at the Daytona 500.  That’s the kind of zealotry you will see from Canadian fans looking to defend their national sport from the Russians.  If you’re someone who does not normally watch hockey, this is the perfect opportunity to give it a chance.  You will see the best in the world playing against one another, even matching up against their own teammates, as will be the case of Pittsburgh Penguin superstars Sidney Crosby (Canada) taking on Evgeni Malkin (Russia).  So tune in—it’s only two weeks and you might like it.  Hockey desperately needs more fans to improve ratings of the sport, which, in turn, will allow me to watch more Penguins’ games on national T.V.

P.S.  Here’s a tip for enjoyment—if possible, watch the games on a Hi Def television.  The clarity and the widescreen make the sport of hockey exponentially easier to follow for the novice fan.



groundhogWhen you look up the word “doldrums” on my computer’s dictionary, the example sentence it gives is “Color catalogs will rid you of the February doldrums.”  Though it is the shortest month of the year, February always feels like the longest.  Football ends.  Hockey and Basketball are in the middle of long seasons, so there’s little action there.  Spring is far from sprung.  The new movie releases are the crappy pictures that the studios deemed not good enough to compete with the better and more commercially viable films that came out in January and December. For some people, February might be a good time to catch up on Oscar nominated movies, but if you already saw all of them, you’re stuck with the DEAR JOHN or FROM PARIS WITH LOVE (the only 2 new wide releases this weekend).

The holidays we do have this month are weak.  Groundhog Day is only fun if you’re within drunk-driving distance to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.  Presidents Day and Black History Month are really more observances than holidays, not entailing much in the way of celebration. And Valentine’s Day…well…it makes too many lonely people feel even lonelier.  It’s fine for people in a relationship, but it’s so obligatory that it really spoils the romance.  Anniversaries are much better, more personal, and it’s easier to get a good reservation somewhere.  Plus sex is much better when you don’t have a belly full of wine and chocolate lolling you to sleep and a voice in your head asking you how you’re going to pay off that Kay Jewelers diamond necklace.

From the frozen Northeast to sunny but not overly warm Southern California, February sucks.  But hang in there.  All we have to do is get through it.  Spring Break, Shamrock Shakes, and March Madness await us on the other side.