Rick's List - Super Bowl or Big Game edition

Last year, members of a SWAT team used a battering ram to crash through my front door. At the same time, more camouflaged troopers, swinging like chreographed Tarzans from ropes affixed to our front yard tree branches, exploded through the 17th-century stained glass windows in the living room. (Yeah, the ones depicting, respectively, Copernicus proclaiming the sun as center of the solar system, and a grim street scene of agonizing plague deaths in London. Odd combo, I know, but they were a set and very reasonable.) 

Within seconds, I was handcuffed, face down on our cantaloupe-colored carpeting with a bayonet point pressing against the C-6/C-7 juncture of my spine.

"What ... what have I done?" I managed to sputter through a mouthful of polyester-nylon shag which, for reasons that still puzzle and creep me out, smelled faintly of roasting fox.

A harsh, drill sergeant voice barked, "Did you, approximately 16 hours ago, refer to Sunday's championship battle between the Falcons and the Patriots as quote-unquote the Super Bowl?"

"Well, yes, but ... I just whispered it to my dog."

"That's a crime, scofflaw! You're gonna decompose in a hell-pit called prison!"

As it turned out, a crafty attorney managed to convince a jury that I'd actually whistled the linguistic concept of "Super Bowl" to our hound Virgil — as opposed to speaking the words aloud — and so I avoided jail.

But regarding this "Who can legally say 'Super Bowl' and who must say 'Big Game'" issue: it's a true legal thing with significant repercussions! In fact, one of my nieces, about to graduate college and considering a career as a "Hang 'em all!" prosecutor, sent me a catalog from Yale Law School. I leafed through and, sure enough, right there in the Copyright section, was a course called "Vicarious Infringement and Usage of Super Bowl/Big Game."

Zounds! With the, ah, contest happening Sunday, it occurred to me to explore how certain segments of the world approach this either/or situation:

1. "Really big game" — Ed Sullivan's grandchildren*

2. "Oaf Bowl" — a snide term employed by the three percent of our country who don't actually watch the game and who consider athletes dullards and sports nothing more than atavistic primitivism. During the actual game, they are typically engaged in such pursuits as theater-going, NPR-listening, carving scrimshaw images of union leaders, epic-poetry composing, and nuancing video games focused on goblins, flying horses, and/or secret societies built in the fluffy clouds.

3. "Super Bowl or Big Game: who cares? Hard to watch as we don't have electricty." — Puerto Rico

4. "We like to call it 'Bullseye.' Alahu Akbar!" — ISIS

* Ed Sullivan, for those too young to remember, said "really" a lot and also invented the Beatles.




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