Popped Culture

The Weeknd, one man who apparently took an E from his name and gave it to Megan Thee Stallion.

Let’s go back to the Super Bowl, the Sunday game that my new numbers guy, Neil Greenberg, ranked among the worst ever to watch in terms of excitement. For the record, so did my sister Terri — she just doesn’t have the national audience Mr. Greenberg does. And she didn’t diss the Broncos.

In monetary terms — in TL’s monetary terms, I guess we should say — it was a heartbreaker. The Chiefs did their part, although when I suggested they score three field goals and stop there, I never imagined that had an actual chance of happening. I really thought seven touchdowns was a far more likely path to my riches, but whatever. As long as they got to my needed magic number 9, I don’t really care.

But damn Tom Brady! The guy throws nine consecutive completions and then has the nerve to miss one, setting up a field goal rather than a fifth touchdown. I wasn’t actually paying much attention — maybe it was entirely the receiver’s error, but in football it’s always the quarterback’s fault.

That fifth touchdown in the third quarter would have made me $150 richer, and since the score didn’t change at all in the fourth quarter it would have resulted in another $500. The Buccaneers didn’t even have the grace to run up the score by another couple touchdowns, which would have made the score 45-9 and at least given me the $500 payout for the fourth quarter. It’s as if they didn’t consider my needs at all.

Coulda would shoulda — but this was about as close to a win as I’ve ever come, so I’m especially bitter. I am pleased, however, that Kara’s sister, who did not watch the game at all and probably has no idea how a football square works, won the $200 on offer for the second quarter and came thiiiis close (as close as I did) to winning the fourth. Damn Patrick Mahomes and his interceptions.

But this Super Bowl showed me other things as well. One, which I wasn’t banking on, was why it’s good to not be a Broncos fan, even if one lives in Colorado. Mr. Greenberg, when recapping other Super drudge matches, unearthed this unfortunate fact: the Broncos were on the losing end of at least three games that rated in his top drearies.

I wasn’t following all his numbers (you know me and math), and he had multiple scales, but in two separate Super Bowls the Broncos scored 10 points while their opponents picked up — well, a lot more than 10. A lot more. Kind of like 31-9, only worse. On his lowest “enjoyment scale,” he put those two Denver losses at second and third, behind only what sounds to me like it should have been exciting, even though it was 1969 and I have no recollection of the game: the Jets upset Baltimore 16-7. I don’t know how an upset with tight scoring was not enjoyable, and I’m sure there’s a means of watching this ancient game, but I’ll just take Mr. Greenberg’s word for it.

But then he also put a Denver 43-8 loss to Seattle as the least enjoyable of all time, so apparently I didn’t track all his criteria to find out what the difference is between “least enjoyable” and low on the “enjoyment tracker.” It was also unclear to me when he wrote, in parantheses: “(sorry Broncos)” if he was apologizing for invoking them so many times while talking about big game boredom or if they’re just a sorry team for being up there/down there so often.

So I didn’t know about the Broncos’ tendency to bore Super Bowl audiences, but I at least suspected what all the commercials confirmed for me: I am a failure at current pop culture.

I had just finished reading some columnist’s anger with Bruce Springsteen for his Jeep commercial, not paying any more attention to that rant than Tom Brady’s incompletions, when the commercial aired. Lynn said, “I thought that guy looked like Bruce Springsteen,” a determination she made based exclusively on his earring. I squinted. I studied, sort of. I wasn’t seeing it at all, even though I thought I knew what Mr. Springsteen looks like and I had just read in black and white that he was the pitch person for this commercial.

It was downhill from there. Okay, I did recognize Patrick Stewart of Star Trek in one of the thousands of Paramount Plus (aren’t they all “Plus” these days? It’s got me nonplussed) spots, but many of the people he was regaling were lost to me. The State Farm commercial I saw not once but twice? I didn’t even recognize Mr. Mahomes, who was having such a bad night. I did have a suspicion Paul Rudd was in it, but I had no idea what Drake looked like (isn’t he a singer?), until on the second pass-through I heard “Drake from State Farm,” like Jake. Once it all got explained to me, it was far funnier than it was when they were all unquantifiable unknowns.

All these commercials were funnier if you knew who was in them, like for instance if you knew that Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton (judges on some show?) are an item, and I just didn’t. When I made this confession to my co-workers yesterday, Kara sighed and realized she has been failing me. A “pop” quiz ensued, much of which I failed, although I scored points when I at least had a passing familiarity with the story of the woman who used Gorilla Glue in her hair.

I may have scored additional points later in the day when Vann was talking about “Megan The Stallion” and I knew a second “e” exists: Megan Thee Stallion, although I don’t know how to pronounce it, how a woman is a stallion, or what said woman even does.

I did feel better when Gilly arrived at work and said, “I had no idea until the game that The Weeknd was one person! I thought it was a group!” Although I have to confess that being out of the pop culture loop doesn’t make me nearly as sad as it would have — well, upon reflection, maybe I never have been that hip, now that I recall all my college friends being upset that Joe Strummer had gone missing and I didn’t even know what songs The Clash sang, let alone who might have been in the band.

I think Kara started lining up a Tik Tok account for me last night after I failed her by not knowing who Michael B. Jordan is. (Does it count if I know about the Michael Jordan in the Nike logo?) But she may be too late. Possibly 50 years too late, I don’t know. I just don’t think I have it in me to care enough to learn who everyone is so that commercials will be funny.

Let’s recap, then: super game almost as boring as any involving the Denver Broncos. Commercials when you don’t know who’s in them, even if they’re rock icons: boring. More of a chance to win more money than either I or Mr. Greenberg expected, but a loss is still a loss, unless you know a celebrity like Kara’s sister. She’s the real winner, mostly because she didn’t even watch the game.

I was about 50 percent with name recognition in this commercial, my best score of the night next to the Chief’s sad 9 points.

One thought on “Popped Culture

  1. I recognized most of the stars on the commercial except that last one that was all yellow. TL, could you offer some help?


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