June 24, 2015's Weekly Slap:

“Beach Slapped” is what it is because from the moment I first came to the Oregon Coast, most every moment I lived here, and even my last hours here, it was always about the beach. That wasn’t always true of my life, and perhaps that’s been my problem.

Growing up in Colorado, I was a long way from the beach. I don’t care what anyone says, lounging next to a giant lake/ civic water supply is not the beach.

BartonGroverHowe.com:Where to keep up with humor writer Barton Grover Howe. Here, you'll find all of his Beach Slapped columns from The News-Times in Lincoln County, Oregon, excerpts from his latest books and the occasional random musing that would get him fired if he published it in a family newspaper.
Superbowl Monday, China style
- January, 2001
TAIPEI-Ah, the memories: A bad football game, rotten and repetitive commercials, bleary-eyed friends and pancakes soaked with beer.

There’s nothing quite like Superbowl Monday.

More than 1 billion people around the world are said to watch the Superbowl live every year. Of course with time zone changes, people are in Europe watch the game closing in on midnight. In Asia, they watch the game with the next day’s rising sun.

            Which is why two friends of mine and I found ourselves perched in Dan Ryan’s, a Chicago themed sports bar in Taiwan’s capital.  Rising at 5:30 a.m., we headed out early to get a seat for the 7:18 a.m. kick-off.

            There are two types of people watching America’s biggest sporting event at this hour of the morning: American ex-patriots visiting or living in Taipei, and a smattering of Chinese people trying to understand football. Not the easiest thing, even when it’s not dawn.

Indeed, this is the big game about as far from the living room sofa as it gets – both literally and figuratively. Start with the fact that football was never meant to played or watched in the morning.

It’s football, so there are Buffalo Wings and nachos and all those wonderful football foods. But it’s also breakfast, so toss in a good helping of pancakes and bacon.

            It’s football, so there are great deals on pitchers of Miller Genuine Draft and Lite beer. But it’s also breakfast, so throw in some Bloody Mary’s and Screwdrivers.

            And it goes on and on: ketchup accompanies maple syrup, eggs mix with French fries, and food groups that were never meant to go together find themselves sharing a plate. In moments of excitement, MGD topples onto a pancake, and a new snack is born. (Don’t look for it at your local sports bar soon.)

            The commercials also stink. In most parts of the world, ESPN’s international division buys the signal feed from whatever American network is broadcasting the game that year.  ESPN in-turn makes its money back by selling commercials. Unfortunately, English-language commercials in Taiwan seem to be in short supply, so they show the same commercials maybe 10 to 15 times during the game.

            And they’re terrible. With a warped view of American culture and at times spotty English, their depths of cheesiness is almost impossible to describe. Imagine the geniuses at Furniture Factory Outlet Shanghai-ed the sponsorship of the Superbowl, it you would be close.

The worst thing about not having commercials is that it serves as a constant reminder of how terrible the game usually is. Even in Taiwan, attention wanders during a blow-out and in a desperate attempt to hang-on to their not-yet hung-over patrons, bar owners resort to diversionary tactics.

During the boring parts – everything after 9:36 elapsed time – trivia games fill the time, and soon a local has an answer: “Brett Fahv-Ruh!” he yells, and reveals yet another downside to letting people learn English from Farrelly brothers movies.

Sensing another horrible game – and more beer on their pancakes – many of the Americans tend to leave early. A few hours of sleep might still be possible before the work-week begins, and in any case a lousy game is a lousy game.

Indeed the monotony of the game is almost expected. But even 10,000 miles from America, there is one other universal constant to the Superbowl: if New York is playing, everyone roots for the team playing against them. The Ravens, the Broncos, Manchester United, the Uruguayan Girl’s Choir; if it’s not New York, it must be good.

When the anti-New York team scores, everyone screams and cheers. When the New York team scores, everyone – well, let’s just say it’s a chorus of something else.

            Even in Chinese, some words don’t need to be translated.