Happy Post-Super-Bowl Monday! There was a long time when I didn’t care and now I look forward to it, if only as the last bit of bonhomie and fellowship, made even better by the absence of dogs in the fight. Since we were all gentlemen of a certain age, we were rooting for the Old Man of 43 to best the upstart.
Of course we also looked forward to the ads, the grand procession of creativity. Every year now it seems that people complain about the ads being not so good anymore. It makes you wonder if we always complained. We did not. Not this much. There was a good golden age, I think, and it happened when we simply wanted to be entertained, and did not expect to see the previous standards of excellence surpassed every 60 seconds. Once the ads because part of the culture event, many became less inclined to be entertained and more inclined to judge, as if to show you had high standards.
The few ads that stood out traded on nostalgia, old characters, old tropes and cliches now decades away from the source material. This one, for example - which set my teeth on edge from start to finish - is designed to ring a few tin bells among people who are aware of Spaghetti Westerns, but from a distance thrice removed.
A few were silly and light, but the overall impression was somber, dour, downbeat, with unconvincing assurances that everything would be fine and we were all in this together and we would come out okay. Here’s Bruce Springsteen looking haunted as he drives around the storyboards for Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road,” ending up at a church, where he lights a candle to pray for American reunification, and oh yes please buy a Jeep.
At the end I was not moved by his pleas, and more concerned that he lit a candle in a deserted church made of wood, and then left without blowing it out. Was that wise? Did the church burn down? Does it matter? A celebrity wants us to come together, and did so with his trademark croak of pained sincerity, and since we know he is the friend and bard of the Common Man, it doesn’t matter if a specific church burns down. It was a lovely gesture.
The halftime show had a strange 70s sci-fi aesthetic; for some reason I kept thinking of “The Black Hole” and “Logan’s Run.” The most interesting part was picking out the buildings in the New York skyline arrayed in neon. Ah, it’s the AT&T Building, Philip Johnson’s famous po-mo Chippendale tower! And that would be the Met Life tower, which is actually the base for a much-larger tower unbuilt after the Crash of ’29. Hey, everyone, let’s pause this elaborate routine and destroy its momentum so I can wax pedantic!
Then there were all those dancers in masks, looking like victims of surgery in an old movie where a gangster got plastic surgery. A way of incorporating the pandemic zeitgeist, right? Last year: EMPOWERMENT AND SEX AND SEX EMPOWERMENT! This year: faceless people moving in mass to choreographed steps, then dissolving into random panic. There was something wrong about it, like some dank gas blown up through a fissure, filling balloons that looked like the humans who populate the shadows of a nightmare.
Previous years, the Super Bowl event was pure excess - mad, crass, exuberant, American overdrive, American overkill, a mix of skill and brute force. Something about this one felt desperate and shellshocked. I suppose I’m reading too much into it. But I don’t think we need fever dreams and worried-looking buskers in empty fields, at this point. It would be nice just to have some Clydesdales again.
Something new for Mondays: a never-ending contest with no prizes! Not for you, anyway. I have to preface this feature with a warning: I don't know the answers. I mean, I don't have the official answers. I can guess. It can't be that hard.
I hope they paid Arno a lot.
When I didn’t like to fly, I avoided airplane disaster movies. Now I like to fly, and I don’t mind them. They’re implausible. I mean, take a look at the statistics. How many times does this happen?
Okay okay that Malaysian one. But besides that? Right. For the most part, commercial airplanes do not disappear.
I like old airplane movies for their inadvertent documentary. This is what the experience was like.
Huge, can’t-miss, archaic signage!
Old airplanes, which were the modern marvels of the day:
Capacious overhead storage, with everything guaranteed to fly around the cabin during turbulence!
The inevitable crew arrangement, with the Strong Unflappable Capable Pilot, the younger but still completely capable Co-Pilot, and the plucky navigator:
And the passengers, with the usual array of archetypes we’ll get to know as things progress. Not all, but a select few.
The old planes had a lounge! Head back for a drink and a smoke.
Unfortunately, there were doors that opened outwards, and if a guy panicked, it was a bad show all around.
Why is he losing it? Because the plane has been climbing for a long time, way up into space, and then it stopped, hanging in the middle of nowhere, and there’s no explanation, and everyone’s on edge. As you might expect.
Let’s take a gander at that body copy . . .
Uh huh. Anyway, the news gets out via this fellow:
Quite the studio; doesn’t seem to need the amount of lighting the medium usually requires.
I always check to see if the newsman was, indeed, a newsman, and he was, indeed:
Carl Princi was born on September 27, 1920 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA as Carl Victor Princi. He is known for his work on 10 (1979), How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967) and The Art of Burlesque (1950). He was married to Althea Giordano. He died on May 1, 1992 in Burbank, California, USA.
Noted authority on opera; radio announcer on KFAC.
There had to be more to him than that. But at least he’s part of the .001% about whom we know something. Better than utter obscurity.
Anyway, what’s the matter with the plane? It’s been taken over by these guys!
You can guess what they want. No? Okay, did I mention this guy was on the plane?
You know what he is, right? A Scientist, obviously. And he’s working on a nuclear bomb more powerful than any other! Yes, the Spacepeople have taken over the plane to let us know that we need to change our ways, or will face destruction.