newyorksubalien has evolved. New city, new life, new blog

newyorksubalien has evolved. New city, new life, new blog.

Yes, I’m still socially-insecure and still deemed too primitive a life form for a bank account. I still can’t say ‘water’ correctly and voice-recognition software still doesn’t understand my number 8.

Meanwhile Superalien is still as super (at least in my eyes), Male Mini-Me is taller than all of us and Mini-Mum has returned to the home of the Mini, only popping back from London to sleep, be fed and help balance out testosterone levels.

But in my new home of Chicago, I can at least lay claim to my own subgroup. I’m now Chi-rish as in Chicago Irish. Apparently the hyphen is important so as not to be confused with Chinese Irish or the town in Armenia. But I’m trusting my readers not to be churlish and to forgive these, my (hyphen-less) Chirish chatters…..

Friday, January 31, 2014

Super Bowl traditions - wings, wacky wagers and widescreen TVs

It’s that time of the year again when days are measured as countdowns to the big moment, when all conversations converge on one topic and when we aliens head to the slopes for a weekend skiing trip as a) we have no idea what the fuss is all about and b) we know we’ll be the only ones there, at least on the Sunday. 

Yup, it’s Super Bowl time.

This is our 6th Super Bowl and as usual, we do at least know who will be playing - the Seattle Seahawks from Washington state and Colorado's Denver Broncos. So no prizes for guessing which state we’ll be skiing in for REALLY quiet slopes.

But also as usual we have failed in our attempts to understand why the whole nation pretty much comes to a standstill on the big day. TV coverage begins at 2 pm local and runs until 10:30 pm – in between, there is a half-time show from (this year) Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, an interview with President Obama and numerous commercials all vying to be the funniest, the saddest or the weirdest while paying the TV company up to $4 million per 30 seconds in their efforts to do so.

Oh and somewhere in there, there’ll be an actual game, where the time on the clock will count down from 60 minutes but which will take between 3 and 4 hours. More amazingly, it has been calculated the average NFL game has only 11 minutes of actual play.

But there is no denying that these are some of the most American 11 minutes. Average viewing figures for the Super Bowl have exceeded 100 million since 2010 and there have been calls for Super Bowl Sunday to be made a national holiday given it unites Americans in their love of football.

And the love of a good party. The popularity of Super Bowl parties means that total food consumption this coming Sunday is only second to Thanksgiving. Except that pumpkin pie is replaced by pizza, sweet potatoes by chips (as in our crisps) and turkey is replaced by chicken wings. An estimated 1.25 billion of them, according to the National Chicken Council’s 2014 Wing Report, up 20 million from last Super Bowl. 

Apparently if you laid all 1.25 billion end to end, they would stretch from the Seattle Seahawks’ home on the west coast to the New Jersey stadium where the game is being played  - some 30 times. Given they’re wings, I’m assuming that’s as the crow flies.

Most parties take place at home, with apparently nine out of ten viewers watching the game at their own or a friend's house. This is great for TV retailers who sell 7.7 million TVs in the week running up to the game, according to the National Retail Federation. The most popular are 50 inches or bigger  - as in the width of a double-sized bed. 

Other Super Bowl traditions include betting on just about everything and anything. Last year a record $99 million was wagered through the sports books in Nevada, the only state where sports gambling is allowed. But that is estimated to be only a tiny fraction of total wagers placed illegally. This year bets are being taken on key game changers such as what hat Bruno Mars will wear to start his half time show and will any of the members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers be shirtless during the performance. 

There is one major break in tradition this year in that this will be the first outdoor Super Bowl in a “cold-weather” environment. If you have been following the news recently, you’ll know that cold this year in the USA has taken on a new meaning. There had even been fears of a Snow Bowl but current forecasts are for temperatures just about in the positive column, Celsius-wise. And it will help that on every seat will be a “warming” pack with a cushion, muffler, gaiters, three pairs of hand and foot warmers, lip balm and a pack of tissues. That makes tickets, averaging around $2,600 each, a real bargain! Actually, apparently it is - supposedly the second cheapest Super Bowl in the last 8 years. 

Another talking point this year is the fact the competing teams come from the only two states in the USA that currently allow recreational use of marijuana. So this year’s Super Bowl has in some quarters been re-named Stoner Bowl, complete with the obligatory T-shirts, hoodies - and alternative party food recipes. 

Just in case you think we are being completely churlish and not getting into the spirit of our new home, we do aim to be watching the game with a bunch of other people while drinking beer and eating snack food. And dare I say it, even getting high - as in 30,000 ft high. For that's our Super Bowl tradition - a pre-Bowl skiing the bowls, take-off at kick-off and taking a gamble  - on whether there will be in-flight live TV.