Friday, November 09, 2007

The NFL in London: A Multimedia Essay

I went to London for the Giants-Dolphins NFL game (You may remember the problems me and my friend had getting tickets). Here's a few impressions of the first NFL regular season game to ever be played overseas...

Giant Jason Taylor

He's Alive!!!
Godzilla? Or Questionable Marketing Strategy?

I know the NFL was trying to hype up the game... but a giant Jason Taylor robot? That's what they came up with?? The NFL's bizarre choice made limited appearances across London, and ended its reign of terror in a cordoned off section of the parking lot reserved for people who paid big money to sit in the rain for a soggy tailgate party. Could the money have been better spent on multiple, simultaneous events around the city, to better capture the attention of the locals? Perhaps a dozen NFL-themed tea parties? I think so.

Wembley Stadium

Otherwise Known As The "Mud Bowl"

Wembley is a great stadium. Although it was pouring outside, I was covered by the roof that extends over the seats. Down by the field, the first few rows are exposed, and these emptied quickly when the rain really started dumping down. But the rest of us were nice and dry (except for the Dolphins fan in front of me, whom I accidentally spilled beer on).

Dolphins Fan
He Didn't Even Notice

However, the field isn't covered in Wembley. And that caused problems with the game, which I'll get to in a moment.

I found the concession stands pretty easy to navigate, although some complained about long lines. I guess I was lucky. I got myself some beers and a pot pie (they love pot pies in England).

The Pie And I
Nothing Like A Spot Of Ale And Pie

The Pre-Game Show

Whoa boy. The NFL went all out on this one. Continuing the theme of oversized NFL players, the field was graced by two giant football jerseys, rotating in time with the music, "I Love It When You Call," provided by British pop group The Feeling. The song is actually really catchy, by which I mean it will annoyingly stick in your head until the end of time. You've been warned. Check it out here.

The Cheerleaders

Dolphins Girls
Cheer Girls, I Salute You

These girls were the real stars of the show. If it's anything that brings the NFL back to London again after this slop fest, its the beauty, grace, and very soaked breasts of Miami's 40 or so cheerleaders, who braved the rain jacketless for nearly three quarters, and did it all with a smile on their faces. It's a shame they didn't have much to root for.


Halftime Show

Was this a joke? A marching band? A small marching band? Playing Rocky?? The crowd that hadn't headed to the concession stands laughed them off the field.

The Real Halftime Show

Not A Ref
Now That's Halftime Entertainment

Just before the kickoff to start the second half, a referee, heading towards midfield, stripped off his clothes. He wasn't a ref. He was a streaker. He ran to the middle of the field, stark naked, as everyone else watched. First, he did a jig. Then, he began doing push-ups.

Streaker Works Out
Oh, Those Crazy Brits

It took a good minute before security even acknowledged something was happening. Perhaps they realized this was more of a halftime show than the actual halftime show. I heard that on TV, they refused to say what was going on. Well, my friends, it was quite entertaining. Watch the video here... if you want to see what you missed on TV.

The Game

Not Pretty
Drops, Flops and Mud-slops Defined London's First NFL Game

Well. You probably watched it on TV, and saw for yourself. The field was a bloody mess (bloody in the British sense of the word). The passing game never got going for either team, with drops galore.

One odd thing was that the stadium atmosphere was very subdued at points. While the crowd did start "the wave," and chanted "That's Another Dolphins FIRST DOWN" with the announcer, the stadium lacked the sort of "pump up the crowd" devices we're so used to in the states. No Jumbotron prompt for De-Fense!! De-Fence!! No blaring rock anthems during timeouts and instant replay reviews. No "Charge" or things like that. After Dolphins scores, they did play an annoying Dolphins song, but that was about it. Since this was a British crowd not familiar with traditional football cheers, you'd think the NFL would do more to get them involved.

The most exciting plays were Eli Manning's touchdown run, and Cleo Lemon's touchdown pass to Ted Ginn Jr. The crowd actually got back into the game after that touchdown pass... but booed lustily when the Giants ran out the clock to end the game.

Eli's TD Run, As Captured By My Cell Phone Camera:

High quality, I know. The running white smudge is Eli.

He Looks Better In This Reuters Photo

Leaving Wembley

Wembley All Lit Up
Wembley At Night

The crowd was huge, but moved along quickly. We were back to the hostel in a little more than half an hour. Better than Giants Stadium transportation, that's for sure.

Crowding Into The Tube
Tube 'n It Up

All in all, an unforgettable experience. I'm glad I got to go. We met a lot of die hard football fans from across the pond... people who had loved the Giants and Dolphins for years but never seen them in person. For them, this game was evidence that the NFL cares about their dedication. Despite a few missteps, I think the NFL showed it has potential to expand beyond American borders.

I had a great time. And I miss the tea and crumpets already.

High Tea
Goodbye To London, For Now
Dude, You're Getting A Taco!

Dell Dude

Commercial watchers and NYU students might remember Benjamin Curtis, otherwise known as "The Dell Dude," for the series of television advertisements he did for Dell Computers in the early 00's. A former Eagle Scout and Tisch School of the Arts student, Curtis infamously lost his job when he was busted buying pot on the Lower East Side, while wearing a tuxedo top and kilt.

New York Magazine reports that Curtis is now working as a waiter at a Mexican restaurant, in between acting jobs. He sounds humbled by his experience. And not at all like that obnoxious Dell Dude.
"I’ve had tables of young girls who think they recognize me, and when they ask me, I say 'yes' and then they don’t believe me and they start arguing and ask me to do the catchphrase and I’ll laugh and say, 'It’s been four years, but I’m glad you’re a fan.'"

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Diamonds Are My Best Friend

Diamonds Are Forever

Imagine a place where diamonds lie on the ground, and anyone can just go and pick them up. That's right, anyone. Not just ruthless Blood Diamond-style smugglers (good movie, by the way), or wealthy mine owners... we're talkin you, me, and Dupree (awful movie, incidently).

Until today, I didn't know such a place existed. But then I read this article: Man nearly tosses 4.38-carat diamond.

Apparently, Chad "Ocho Cinco" Johnson found a huge diamond at a state park and failed to realize it's value until the last minute.

He found the diamond in a place called Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas. According to the AP, the park is "the world's only diamond-producing site open to the public, and visitors can keep the gems they unearth."


Yes. Wow. How have I not heard of this place before??? Why the hell are people dying in Africa over diamonds, when they could just pick up some diamonds at the park??

And apparently these diamonds are not difficult to uncover. According to the AP, 700 diamonds have been found this year!! Johnson was making a living finding diamonds and selling them!!

I've never been particularly interested in Arkansas. Sure, Bill Clinton's from there, and I think it's funny they pronounce it Arkansaw. But until today, I never considered going down there for a lucrative future.

I had trouble believing it, but according to the park's website:

Diamonds of all colors of the rainbow can be found here at Crater of Diamonds, but the three most common colors unearthed by park visitors are white, brown and yellow. This Arkansas Diamond Mine is a rockhound's delight since, along with diamonds, over 40 types of rocks and minerals can found here, too. These rocks and minerals include lamproite, amethyst, banded agate, jasper, peridot, garnet, quartz, calcite, barite and hematite.

...the policy here is "finders keepers." Any diamonds, semi-precious stones, rocks or minerals you unearth are yours to keep, regardless of their value.
I suspect now that this AP article has hit the newspapers, the secret is out. Can we expect an Arkansas diamond rush as monumental as the California gold rushes of the 1800's? I, for one, am packing my pick axe and burlap diamond collection bag. I'll see you all in Murfreesboro, Arkansaw.

Just keep your grubby hands off my diamonds.

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