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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Apparently Some Football Happened Today
Don't tell JB, but I'm not a big sports fan. If he'd known that at the outset, he might not have given me this gig, so let's keep it a secret, just between you and me.

I live near Pittsburgh, a town that for all intents and purposes stopped looking ahead some time around The Immaculate Reception. I actually ran into Franco Harris at a party two years ago, though I have no idea why he was there. A friend who knows these things pointed him out to me, saying, "That's Franco Harris."

He seemed smaller than I would have imagined, probably because Pittsburgh lore remembers him to be slightly taller than the famed PPG Building (most of which no longer belongs to Pittsburgh Plate Glass, by the way). Anyway, he had a good handshake, and he was a nice enough guy for the four seconds that he and I chatted.

But Pittsburgh managed to edge out the Colts today, fanning once more the flames of Yinzer Optimism. One hopes that the optimism is justified, as the expression goes, if only to justify the multi-million dollar sports complexes that the 'Burgh built a few years ago for two of the then-losingest teams in their respective sports. If the Pirates would take the pennant for '06, so much the better, but even I know enough to know that that's unlikely. And didn't we used to have a hockey team somewhere?

Anyway, all of that is secondary to the two-hour season premiere of 24, airing tonight between 8:00 and 10:00 Eastern. Or at least it was supposed to. A pair of football teams saw fit to run past their duly ordained timeslot and push 24 back approximately eleven minutes. It would only have been four or five minutes, but they just had to air the post-game wrap-up. If there's a job in the entire US economy that's less vital than a post-game commentator, I'd like to know what it is.

The redundancy of this redundant redundancy wouldn't have bothered me, except that other obligations required me to record it for viewing at 10:00 p.m. Thanks to I missed the last eleven minutes of episode two. If you know anything about 24, it's that the show takes place in "real time," and each episode ends in a cliff-hanger. Thankfully, episodes three and four air tomorrow, so I can likely pick up the plot without much lost, but that's hardly the point.

Even worse, I found that the episodes were not commercial-free, as they've done sometimes in the past. Sure, that means that everyone in those earlier episodes drives the Ford SUV-du-jour, but I can live with shameless product placement if it means no pace-breaking commercials.

But tonight, the first commercial I saw was that stupid talking baby for Quizno's Subs. Bring back the Spong-Monkeys, sez I. This insipid, unfunny, and played-out pint-sized Tom Ridge Lookalike should be banned from public air forever, as should all CGI characters on commercials, whether they're pimping toenail fungus remedies or selling dog food. Let's just get rid of animated talking animals, while we're at it. If I have to live in a world that permits even one more stupid chimp-in-an-unlikely-circumstance movie, I'll scream. Bad enough that we have a stupid chimp in--

Nah, that's too easy.

Sorry to rant, but Baby Ridge on top of overlong color commentary just sends me over the edge. So what happened in the final eleven minutes, anyway?

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