Super Bowl fever

A Super Bowl super poll reveals that a super majority of U.S. super fans are super stoked for today’s supercharged juggernaut of supermodels, superstar athletes and super-sized commercials. Also known as the Super Bowl. Aka the Bud Miller Ford Chevy Coke Pepsi Cheetos Doritos Viagra Cialis Super Bowl. “Super Sunday” comes but once a year – a super showdown between elite, body-armored millionaires, a Roman-numeraled orgy of all-American overkill. Consumerism, commercialism, cannibalism (wait, no cannibalism; that was fake news). Recreational violence with a VIP sideshow. Super Suspense! Will halftime headliner Lady Gaga sneak a salute to Lord MAGA ?!? TV officials say elevendy billion people worldwide will jam the virtual coliseum. And FOX promises several full minutes of action packed into the evening-long Super Telecast, which will carry optional subtitles for viewers in Moscow, Beijing and parts of Mississippi. It will be close-captioned for the pigskin-impaired. The annual avalanche of advertising excess provides a compelling side drama in which corporate executives shell out $5 million or more for 30-second spots urging you to buy trucks, chips and beer, and truckloads of chips and beer. Lots of other interesting stuff too. (SAMPLE AD: Do you suffer from post-orgasmic stress disorder? Restless hand syndrome? Adult onset celibacy? Ask your doctor about Fornica!) But before you tune in, the NFL – in partnership with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Chicken Wings and the Committee to Prevent Cheese Breath – offers these important safety tips. To avoid sustaining an “NFL-style” concussion during the game, do not “head butt” fellow fans, even after witnessing a particularly exciting “flea flicker” or “Hail Mary.” Less knowledgeable fans may avoid mockery and possible stiff arms by refraining from asking such questions as, “What’s a punt?” “Why is that man touching that other...

Jan. 17: Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali (1942-2016): heavyweight boxing champ, inventor of the Ali Shuffle, possessed the ability to float like a butterfly and sting like a B-52. Below is video of Muhammad Ali with Michael Jackson. (Click here to see him with the Beatles back when he was called Cassius Clay.) Other Jan. 17 birthdays: Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790): inventor of the frankfurter; also started an exercise craze when he published “Poor Richard Simmons’ Almanack.” (Video from Old Farmers Almanac) Al Capone (1899-1947): infamous Chicago gangster known as “Cigarface.” Jim Carrey, 55: actor-comedian, starred in the Lewis Carroll classic “Tweedledum &...

New Year’s resolution solutions...

Wish you had a swell New Year’s resolution but can’t figure out what it should be? You are not alone. In fact, fictional surveys show 64 percent of Americans are pledging to quit doing something, start doing something or some unrealistic combination of both. But you better get cracking because the informal deadline for filing New Year’s resolutions is coming fast. Clinical data reveals that less than 9 percent of people actually achieve their so-called resolutions. So, to help you beat the odds, my crack team of New Year’s resolution-ologists has compiled some handy guidelines. But before we begin, a word of caution: The surgeon general warns that New Year’s resolutions are the leading cause of failed New Year’s resolutions. Because of the staggering failure rate of January vows, many find it helpful to set the bar low (for example, pledging not harm a tadpole or purchase government cheese on eBay). Vague yet uplifting oaths are also said to be popular this year. Here are some sample life-affirming resolutions (along with realistic fall-back measures for when they invariably fall through): * Listen to my heart (disregard brain, kidneys, liver and lungs). * Stop and smell the roses (spray something on that stench coming from the basement). * Live life to the fullest (pack your stomach to its fullest). * Appreciate the simple things (don’t try any remotely complicated things). * Trust my instincts (avoid thoughtful analysis of my options). * Take up a musical instrument (put down that musical instrument). Experts also advise us to beware simplistic-sounding commitments like “Quit smoking” or “Exercise more.” Instead they suggest being more specific by saying something like “Quit smoking those noxious, cancer-causing, arsenic-infested death sticks that are slowly killing you and that everybody...

Bicycle time travel

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Dateline 1889. One thing I adore about this little burg we call Portsmouth is that we love to blur the lines between present and past. And what better way to time travel on a warm November day than perched atop a contraption whose front wheel stands no less than 4 feet tall and whose back wheel is a sporty 17 inches? Oh, did I mention my old-fashioned high-wheeler no brakes? The social cycling event of the season, this was the inaugural Portsmouth Tweed Ride. Hosted by the Swell Society and Old as Adam — the folks who brought you the Gatsby on the Isles gathering this summer — the ride attracted several dozen distinguished gentlemen clad in tweed jackets, caps and knickers and stylish ladies dazzling onlookers in their Gatsby-era garb. The two-state spree started at Papa Wheelies bike shop on Islington Street and featured hospitality stops along the way at White Heron Tea & Coffee and the Book & Bar in Market Square before a scheduled wrap-up at the Press Room, with proceeds benefiting the Portsmouth Historical Society and the John Paul Jones House. We pushed off from Papa Wheelies, stopping traffic with the utmost courtesy and ringing of handlebar bells. Ah, nothing like rolling through time on an old-fashioned high-wheel bike — gasoline-powered horseless carriages whizzing by as we traversed the cracked, gray macadam of Islington Street. Camaraderie was the order of the day, as our procession caused much turning of heads and encouraging exhortations from the periphery. Down to Strawbery Banke and the South End, across the new Memorial Bridge into Kittery, Maine, and back to gather for a team daguerreotype at the North Church. Unfortunately, I had to return to the present...

Polar vortex questions? Ask Professor Doppler...

Due to some recent confusion caused by extremely cold weather, today we check in with noted meteorological advice columnist Professor Doppler. The professor — whose academic credentials include a Ph.D. in Cloud Technology from Cumulonimbus University and a master’s in Thunder from Kelvin State — has generously agreed to answer a few questions from readers. The author of “Patchy Fog,” “Life in the Frost Lane” and “Nor’Easter Bunny: Friend or Foe,” he was recently honored by the Fahrenheit Foundation for his ground-breaking environmental manifesto “Global Warming Caused by Increased Activity in Hades.” * * * Dear Professor Doppler — I heard on TV that they’re blaming this recent cold snap on something called a “polar vortex.” But Rush Limbaugh says that’s just a term the liberals made up as part of their stupid global warming scam. Please tell me the truth, professor, is there really a polar vortex? — Virginia Yes, Virginia. There is a polar vortex. In fact, weather legend Al Roker took Mr. Limbaugh to task for his gust of misinformation (video). The lovable buffoon schooled the hateful hot-air balloon on the “Today” show, blowing up an excerpt from his 1956 Weatherman 101 textbook and drawing a big circle around the term “Polar Vortex.” * * * Dear Professor Doppler — Me and the missus live about 15 feet from the ocean in a house that used to be about 75 feet from the ocean. Any major upcoming weather events we should be concerned about? — Jasper O’Dingus, Hampton Dear Jasper — Now that you mention it, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is said to be tracking a category 12 megastorm building strength down in Antarctica. If, as predicted, it slams into a back-door cold front...

One L of a Super Bowl

Share By John Breneman Ladies and gentlemen! Strap on your helmets, gobble down a bunch of steroids and gear up for America’s annual celebration of beer, trucks, sex and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. It is time to get pumped up for the 50th Super Bowl – aka the Bud Miller Ford Chevy Coke Pepsi Cheetos Doritos Viagra Cialis Super Bowl. “Super Sunday” comes but once a year – that special day when the world’s only true superpower deploys its most elite, body-armored millionaires in a Roman-numeraled orgy of all-American overkill. Consumerism, commercialism and recreational violence with a VIP sideshow. As the Cavalcade of Concussions unfolds on the playing field, the annual avalanche of advertising excess provides a compelling side drama in which corporate executives shell out $5 million or more for 30-second time slots urging you to buy trucks, chips and beer, and truckloads of chips and beer. And, of course, sex pills. (SAMPLE AD: Do you suffer from post-orgasmic stress disorder? Restless hand syndrome? Adult onset celibacy? Ask your doctor about Fornica!) TV officials say elevendy billion people worldwide will jam the virtual coliseum and CBS promises several full minutes of action packed into the 18-hour super telecast. Betting on the game is, of course, illegal – to the tune of an estimated $4.2 billion, enough cash to provide health care for … ha-ha, just kidding. During the game itself, popular conversation topics will include speculation about whether Denver quarterback Peyton Manning’s freakishly gigantic forehead has grown even larger now that he has become the national spokesman for Human Growth Hormone. But before you tune in, the NFL – in partnership with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Chicken Wings – offers these important safety tips. If you should...

My favorite spaceman

Long, long ago, in a galaxy that now seems very far away, I got a chance to interview a future astronaut. The year was 1987 — long before my career as an internationally obscure writer had achieved liftoff — and the future spaceman was a fellow York (Maine) High School kid named Chris Cassidy. Now, the chance to interview an astronaut doesn’t come along every day. And looking back, I gotta say, I kinda blew it. Sure, I was only at York High School that day to cover a home football game against whoever (probably Marshwood) and Chris was there in his capacity as the Wildcats’ senior quarterback. So afterward, I approached him for the usual sports-type interview with a couple of softball questions about football. You might say, “Hey, there’s no way I could have known this kid would go on to a decorated military career as a Navy SEAL (heading to Afghanistan two weeks after 9/11, according to his NASA bio) and then literally launch himself into the stratosphere as a genuine astronaut.” But there were tell-tale signs — the ramrod straight posture, the clear-eyed, straight-arrow demeanor, his singular focus on the mission of the team. Plus, he loved wearing a helmet. And the kid sure loved his Tang, couldn’t get enough of it. OK, I’m only kidding about the Tang, but the rest is all true. Also true is that not only has he been living up in the International Space Station since March, he also just helped rescue an Italian colleague when water began leaking into the man’s helmet during a spacewalk. (I hate it when that happens.) Yes, the two were just an hour into a planned six-hour spacewalk to perform what has been...

My dad’s advice was ‘write stuff’...

My dad died a few days before Christmas in 2005. And, boy, did he love to laugh. He also, as parents do, possessed profound insight into the lives of his children. When I graduated from college, I knew that I loved to write but had little idea about what type of career to pursue. But my dad did. He told me to go see the woman ran who our hometown York Weekly — guiding me directly into what has become a deeply fulfilling 30-year career in journalism. Yet another “light-bulb moment” from a man who used to bring home the bacon creating advertising campaigns in a Pittsburgh skyscraper with the firm Ketchum, MacLeod & Grove. Yes, my dad was an ad man like those guys on “Mad Men.” Over the years, I have thanked him in print for nudging me into the newspaper world — a field with limitless possibilities for creativity and personal discovery. June 1999, in this newspaper, I roasted him with a rollicking Father’s Day salute under the headline (borrowed again today): Father’s advice to son was “write stuff.” It began: “I’m in the newspaper business today thanks to the nurturing influence of a very wise gentleman. Nelson Mandela.” No secret that my ever-present impulse to blend humor and humanity comes from my dad — self-described “Depression baby” turned dashing young Air Force pilot, advertising exec, mid-life adventurer, small business co-creator — and from my mom. I am also joking when I say that his words of wisdom included: “Keep your eye on the ball to prevent ghastly facial injuries” and “Wait at least 30 minutes after eating lemon meringue pie before scuba diving for pirate treasure in the York River.” June 1991, in this newspaper,...