These are the days that try fans' hearts. We have more than a week left before any NFL action, and then it will be an overblown hypefest with a 60-minute halftime show. Real Football still exists, but only on the NFL Network's Game of the Week or through cleverly-attained full-game DVDs. The problem is that you've seen all of that before; what makes football so much fun to watch is the mystery of the unknown. No matter how many times I see the Ravens play the Titans in the 2000 Divisional Championship, the ending's the same: Eddie George becomes a shell of a man.
Nonetheless, some topics have arisen of late that you may find interesting. And since this is a blog, I am urged, nay, required, to pass my thoughts on to you. Even if I ramble illogical gibberish like Locke on Lost. And yes, I'm stalling until something significantly football-related happens.
Welcome to the EA Sports Super Bowl brought to you by the NFL...
Readers may recall that not long ago the Review made note of Electronic Arts' coup de grâce, snapping up the exclusive rights to promote NFL players, stadiums, logos, and other property in video games. The worry for football fantatics was that the rival ESPN NFL2K series would flounder and flail about, legally confined to making realistic, statistically accurate Canadian Football League video football. Ugh.
Well, things look better for ESPN and their partners. EA Sports, in its benevolence, tossed the following life preserver to its former rival: join us or die. That's paraphrased, of course, but look at the result. ESPN and Electronic Arts today announced a 15-year partnership, giving EA access to ESPN's broadcast, print and online content - as well as its stable of personalities - for all of its sports titles. The integration of the two brands will begin in 2006. So says CNN.
How ridiculous is the new EA Monolith? They also bought the licensing rights to Arena Football.
What makes this doubly interesting is that the EA Sports/John Madden contract has not been renewed. The CNN report notes that the future game, presumptively named Madden 2006, could be named "EA Sports Football." Videogame football without Madden? That's like B.E.T. without butt-shakin' videos, the Redskins without high-priced offseason free agents, and Yanni without his exceptional mustache. Just ain't the same.
On the other hand, I kind of like the idea of seeing a digitized Chris Berman at halftime, running through his Fastest 3 Minutes segment peppered with his unique brand of recapping. (My personal favorites are "MarshallMarshallMarshall!" and the Berman/Tom Jackson duet "San-de-a-go, super Chargers!") Plus you're bound to get a better immersion into the watching-a-game-when-you-aren't-playing experience. And can you put a price on finally hearing the Monday Night Football theme pre-game?
Let's not forget that Take Two, the company who produced the NFL2K series games, is now high, dry, and probably looking for the next Mario to recoup the significant loss of the ESPN brand.
Keep Your Cursed Pink Hearts and Yellow Moons
If there's one cereal that fully represents my youth, it was General Mills' Franken Berry. For those of you under 30, Franken Berry was a delicious strawberry-flavored concotion of ghost-shaped whole-grain pieces, accented by pink, strawberryish marshmallows. Come to think of it, it's like Lucky Charms, but tastes good. This cereal, and his siblings Count Chocula and Boo Berry (we'll ignore Fruit Brute and Yummy Mummy, those short-lived, motherless children) stayed crispy despite milk immersion and provided the kid-friendly reward of sweetly-flavored milk when the cereal was finished. A true happy ending.
I bring this wonderful cereal to the forefront because I can't find it anywhere. Some web searching reveals that one can purchase Franken Berry from Amazon, but only for $4.00 a box (not including shipping) or as part of a $15 three-pack containing the Count and Boo. Not desirable, but a fair last resort. I have also heard that Frank's available during the Halloween season. That is clearly too long to wait for that strawberry sweetness. Finally, I am told through rumor that some states miraculously keep Franken Berry stocked on their shelves all year! Only one problem...I don't live in any of those states. I'm in Maryland. Anybody know specifically where a 30+ kid can get some Franken Berry?
I Call Him...Beatle-Man!
This recent news is further proof that the world is running out of good ideas: Stan Lee, the creator of such memorable comic book characters as Spider-Man and The Hulk has a new superhero franchise on the horizon. The hero will be based upon the life and persona of...Ringo Starr. You remember him: the only unoriginal member of the Beatles. The Associated Press reports that we can expect television and DVD programs featuring Captain Ringo, (or Sgt. PepperSpray, or whatever they come up with) within the next year or so. Ringo's alter ego is a secret--shh!--and is described as an "evil-battling, Earth-saving — though reluctant — superhero with a great sense of rhythm." Of course he is.
Why would Lee, who made Wolverine a household name, choose Ringo Starr to embody his superhero? Says Lee: "Ringo is beloved worldwide for his commitment to people and his singular wit." Apparently, Dr. Ben Carson, Christopher Walken, and Bill Gates weren't interesting enough.
I'll Take Fiction, Please
From the Sometimes Truth Is Strange Enough files: 1980s pop princess Deborah "Don't Call Me Debbie" Gibson is posing for Playboy; McDonald's is advertising their double quarter-pounders with the Internet vernacular "I'd Hit It;" and Michael Douglas has decided to star in another sequel to his two-decades old, inexplicably popular movie Romancing the Stone. Have mercy.
But for my dollar, the oddest thing I've heard is how dramatically the Arizona Cardinals have changed their team logo. Yes, they're still the Cardinals (and yeah, they'll still stink), but now their symbol is "more predatory and much more aggressive," says their vice president. I dunno what side of town you're from, but hitting Bold and Italic does not a killer make. Here's the evidence and here is the ESPN.com article, full of laughable quotes.
Coming soon: my picks on why both teams will win the Super Bowl...