I don’t think I’ve mentioned here in Blogoland that in a week, I’ll be turning 30, which has alternately been called “the new 20,” “the old 40,” and “Thimply Thirty.” I recognize that while I do feel old – especially among Jessica’s friends who are all two whole years younger than me – there are many people (my parents, for instance) who would mock and chide me gently for entertaining any thoughts of 30 being anything other than young, and I would take these gentle mock-chides in stride.
To kick off my “birthday season,” a couple Sundays ago my excellent and generous friend John treated me to a first for me: a live NFL game. Like, at the stadium and everything.
We saw the 49ers play the Buccaneers, although I use the word “play” in a loose sense – the Niners appeared to be engaged in an entirely different activity than football. I mentioned to John during the game that you could pluck a Martian with not only no knowledge of football but no concept of Earthly sport, sit him down at the game, and after a quarter the Martian would have been able to tell that the home team was putting on an embarrassingly bad performance. The Martian would not have flinched upon learning that this was the first time in 33 years that the 49ers had been shut out at hone; he would have correctly deduced that the coach was clueless and overmatched, the owner delusional and out of touch, and he probably would have balked at the price of beer but had one anyway. Martians love Earth-beer. It’s their one weakness.
But there were several reasons that, despite the fact that the 49ers played the game as though they were playing the golf version of football – you know, where the goal is to score as few points as you can – I still had a fantastic day.
I’ll use a photo to illustrate:
As the old football saying goes:
If the team you are to see
‘s going to play atrociously –
30th row, yardline: fifty
makes the whole thing much more nifty!
It’s hard to imagine a much better vantage point than where we sat. From there, we had a clear and direct view of every misplay, every dropped pass, every single 1/2-yard run up the middle by Frank Gore, every punt, every TV timeout*. By halftime, aided by the conclusion that what we were witnessing was the sports version of watching a movie so bad it’s fantastic (like for example), I realized I was having a spectacularly entertaining experience.
*[I’d have to say that the biggest difference between watching the game at home and in person – besides the multiple camera angles and constant replays – is the TV timeouts. I mean, they’re CONSTANT. It felt like every time I looked out at the field, the players were standing in a huddle on either side of the ball, waiting for the whistle. There is a LOT of standing and waiting, so much so that I question which is the slower sport – baseball or football. On TV, of course, you don’t see all that, but it’s a pretty persistent part of watching a live game.]
I also realized towards the beginning of the game that my tried-and-true baseball heckles simply weren’t going to work at a football game, something I hadn’t thought about beforehand. I have a particularly nerdy style of heckling that involves yelling things (loudly) like “I’ve seen better swings on a porch!” and “Go back to New York… wherever that is!” and “The AFL-CIO throws better strikes than that!” (courtesy Drew) and “Your fielding is surprisingly poor compared to your teammates, but all things considered, still incredibly above-average!” and other such things. But baseball has a culture of heckling (despite the confused stares I generally get at baseball games), whereas I noticed very little of it at the 49ers game.
But as fun as the game itself was, the pre-game was even better. Not only did I get to experience a real NFL tailgate, but it also happened to be a Thanksgiving tailgate – my second of four Thanksgiving meals this year, a personal record – and it was also the first time I’ve ever tried a deep-fried turkey.
Let me tell you something about fried turkey: try it. “I’m a vegetarian,” you say, or “I’m quite concerned about trans fats.” Perhaps you might say, “I’m a bit of a Thanksgiving purist – you really have to roast a turkey in the oven or if you’re feeling really crazy, barbecue it.” Some might even offer “the only things I want fried are chicken, fries, and butter.”
But let’s not be silly here – the Internet is not the place for that. The two greatest things about fried turkey, in no particular order, are (1) a 20-pound bird was fully cooked in ONE HOUR, and (2) it was juicy, dense, flavorful, moist, and all the other adjectives you can think of to describe your ideal Thanksgiving bird.
Also, I made bread:
If you’ve never made yeasted bread before but have always wanted to try, but are intimidated in some way (as I was for a while), I highly recommend this recipe (which is the bread on the right). It’s unique in several ways – it requires absolutely no kneading, it has to sit for 12-18 hours (the longer the better), has much less yeast than typical bread, and it’s baked in a dutch oven rather than a baking sheet. The results are pretty astounding, especially given its unconventional preparation – it’s the most delicious bread I’ve ever made, and I’ve made a LOT of bread. It’s crusty, moist, big holes, smells amazing, and frankly looks like it’s right out of a bakery. And it’s really, really easy. And it also impresses the pants off people, which is especially great during a “pants-off” competition.
So, there. A whole post with nary a mention of weddings. I knew I could do it.