With the Super Bowl on my brain, I – as first graders are wont to do – used Roman numerals to title the perplexing sequel to The Little Man. Our hero’s pathology has taken a curious turn in the two days since his initial appearance; the very specific culinary proclivities that were once his calling card have now become an albatross.
Another theme at play in this work – one that would explain away this dark turn – is my uncured habit of forgetting to transcribe crucial words from my inner monologue onto the page. As in Jerry Rice broke the of touchdowns, it’s obvious that I omitted the word “man” from the first line of this poem. If, in between the words “he” and “use”, I failed to include the word “doesn’t”, this poem would mirror the structure of the original – and significantly simplify our understanding of one of 1993’s most beloved characters.
This banal tale of professional discontent is quite possibly the first poem I’d ever write. I’ve not the foggiest recollection what inspired the Little Man character, or his fixation on using only his own equipment in the kitchen. Luckily, my illustration finds our behatted protagonist fully in his element, his pan in hand as he satisfiedly fries…an omelette…on a…table?
With the Super Bowl and all its palpable intensity bearing down on me, my resolve had deepened. Becoming a professional football player – an aspiring MVP to boot! – has here evolved from would like to will.
If, say, you didn’t want to be a professional football player growing up, you might not recognise that egg-on-a-pedestal-slash-martini-glass as my hurried rendition of the Lombardi Trophy, the grandiose bauble awarded to each year’s NFL champion. Since the league decided to standardise in 2010, the trophy has become a central, required element of every Super Bowl logo.
For 45 years, the Super Bowl logo was an largely typographic reflection of and reaction to a shared, evolving visual vocabulary.
Even without knowing which game corresponds to which year (or peeking at the tiny text), it’s possible to figure out when they’re from, give or take 5 years, just by looking: the throwback serifs from the 70s, the overt patriotism of the Gulf War and post-9/11, the sudden appearance of teal in the 1990s, and the shameless exploitation of every nifty perspective feature in Adobe Illustrator during the 2000s.
The league will inevitably trudge on with its formulaic Super Bowl logo for some indeterminate number of years until they realise it’s hopelessly dated and boring to be serving up the warmed-up leftovers of the 2010 NFL Championship logo over and over again. Like the all-grey, all-the-time color palette of the “standardised logo,” however, the the prospects of that happening are bleak.
Say what you will about my barebones depiction, at least it was a product of its time.
In my first game in control of the Jets, playing a football video game for the first time ever, I lost by a glaring margin of 134 to zero. The 1992-1993 Jets were 4-12, out of the playoffs, and the guys I had were worse. Front Page Sports Football did not have a license with the NFL or NFLPA, thus all the players had made up names and numbers. My first game simply matched “Philadelphia” vs. “New York,” but both teams wore white and green uniforms – so it was like that.
While many more years of losing would ensue for the real-life Jets during the mid-1990s, it would only be a few weeks before I’d found a dastardly tactic to reverse my own fortunes…
Meanwhile, my teacher was desperately trying to impose some semblance of punctuation onto my unbridled stream of sportscasting consciousness. On the facing page, I was introduced for the first time to the pilcrow, to which I’d take reluctantly.
The next time someone belittles the technology preferences of a child – or you’re inclined to do so yourself – kindly refer back to this post. Though it had been only 11 days since I’d received my “computerized football game”, already I’d become “so adjusted” to using the keyboard that I was uncomfortable changing input devices.
To reduce this new joystick to the status of a “peripheral input device,” however, is to belittle its importance. It was a new toy, and places like CompUSA and Egghead would become the toy stores of my childhood. Nowadays, I still feel a tinge of the same rush I got as a youth on the rare occasion I enter a MicroCenter, albeit with a markedly reduced sense of wonder.
I’ll never cease to be flummoxed by the nature of some of the corrections that I received on these journal entries. The name of a restaurant is that restaurant’s name; all restaurant names do not implicitly include “The” and “Restaurant.” I’m not sure why anyone would attempt to engdender this pedantry in a budding young author.
I had five consecutive birthday parties at Villa Margherita, my family’s local favorite pizza and Italian spot at the time. Eventually, I would not only have birthday parties there, but haircuts as well. As the boom times went bust, they’d give up the “new backroom,” which became Arista Hair Salon, where as a high school student I’d have some of my last pre-fro trims.
Tonight, I was relieved to find out that The Villa Margherita Restaurant’s apparent demise was in fact no demise at all. The Joe in “Papa Joe’s,” which occupies the same space, is in fact the very same Joe who made my birthday pies two decades ago.
The Buffalo Bills were headed for their third consecutive Super Bowl, and what would turn out to be their third consecutive loss. Despite leading the league in rushing, and the AFC in points and yards gained – good enough for the number one offense in the nation – they would be summarily trounced by the Cowboys 52-17. Guess no one bothers to tell first graders that defense wins championships.
We are awash in the trite and true observation that “there was no YouTube in the [past],” but my genuine marvel at seeing an historical figure – a guy with a day named after him – alive and speaking on my very television speaks to the difference between then and now. Despite his relatively recent passing (compared to the long-since-departed Founding Fathers), Dr. King had simply been a name to me. It would take a chance encounter – or a trip to the library – for me to realise I could hear the speech I’d theretofore only heard about.
I still have this game, and apparently, I still have this blog. Though it’s been a solid four years since I began this endeavour, I still haven’t completed first grade again.
This inaugural edition of Front Page Sports Football was my first sports video game. With its detailed play editing features and thick manual that detailed not only how to play the game, but (amongst other things) all the penalties and their corresponding yardages, the game deepened my burgeoning obsession with football.
My entries over the next few months of 1993 bear witness to my tumble into this new pastime. My entries over the next few months of 2015 will (hopefully) see you bear witness as I return to this old pastime.