Tag Archives: Super Bowl

Hot Routes: Super Hot Edition

1 Feb

The Super Bowl

By this point, virtually all of the possible Super Bowl story lines have been developed, examined, and mirthlessly driven into the ground by the army of media correspondents assigned to the game.  So we’ll keep the game analysis short and get right to the more important, and likely more enjoyable, part of Super Bowl week at Dan Swanky’s – the music.

 

 

Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers

The Pick:  Ravens (+3.5)

On paper, the 49ers look like the better team, and they look like they could be capable of winning this game by at least a touchdown.  The problem for San Francisco is that this postseason for the Ravens has been all about factors that aren’t easily reflected on paper.  Baltimore has bought in completely to every motivational opportunity thrown their way – the retirement of emotional leader Ray Lewis, rampant doubts about the reliability of Joe Flacco, internal upheaval amongst the coaching staff, oddsmakers making them huge underdogs over the last two games – and they now seem scarily calm in the run-up before the Big Game.  Nothing can faze them, and I feel much more confident backing their experience than I do a rookie QB and a team filled with first-time Super Bowl competitors.

The Album:  Regions of Light and Sound of God by Jim James

This year’s Super Bowl is going down in New Orleans, and for somewhat understandable reasons, I’ve always associated the Big Easy with rocker/soul man/weirdo savant/life guru Jim James.  The most obvious reasons for the connection between the two have been elucidated by James himself – he’s publicly professed a love for the deep musical legacies of New Orleans, and elements of the city’s particular flavors of jazz, funk, and soul can be heard both in My Morning Jacket (James’ main band) and his solo outings.

Beyond that, there’s also a sense of eerie and utterly compelling mysticism hovering within my impression of both the city and the musician.  James’ music has the ability to conjure up images of spooky, humid and swampy lands where strangely wondrous things are happening in the shadows; those descriptors could certainly underlie a heavily romanticized version of New Orleans that may or may not still exist.

James new solo album, Regions of Light and Sound of God, is an excellent introduction to his unique and atmospheric blend of the aforementioned jazz, funk, and soul touches.  Whereas My Morning Jacket often derives a lot of its power from James’ virtuosic electric guitar lines, Regions finds focal points with swelling strings, strutting bass lines, and smoky brass notes.  The latter comes primarily in the form of a saxophone that appears several times throughout the record, and which sounds steeped in the kind of spooky, New Orleans mysticism mentioned previously.  A Voodoo Sax, if you will.

Jim James and his musical leanings are filled with seemingly contradictory themes, and Regions reflects that.  As a white, shaggy-haired frontman of a rock band, James wouldn’t be expected to be taking musical cues from the likes of Curtis Mayfield and Al Green.  But there he is all over Regions, finding the sweet spots between delicate hymns of praise and funky sexual grooves that those soul legends pioneered.  James knows how to mix a worshipful respect of the divine with a deep-felt need to get down, and he does it with a comfortableness few other artists today have.

There is a darkness in the heart of rock and roll, and many of the great artists over time have been able to ride the dark edge of the music that has its roots all the way back in the swampy, Crossroads-bred blues of Robert Johnson.  Sometimes, it seems, an artist needs to dance with the devil a little bit to get some true feeling in their work.  Jim James seems to know this better than anyone, and his music reaches another level because of it.  In the slow-burning opener “State of the Art,” he sings ‘I know you need the dark / Just as much as the Sun’;  it’s a point that’s driven home through the howls and spectral falsettos he unleashes throughout the album from that point on.

At the conclusion of the record, it is due to the strength and assuredness of James’ artistic vision that the listener has a clear-eyed idea of what the artist is really about at this point in time.  As can be seen with the album title, James is an openly spiritual person – he’s not aligned with a dogmatic religion like Christianity, but he has a deep sense and respect for the divine and for how it relates to everyday life.  This laid-back spiritualism is most definitely not a new thing in the music world, but the great thing about James and his music is that he cuts his sensitive positivity with an understanding and appreciation for the dark and haunted parts of the world.  He believes and celebrates in the beauty of the world around him, and he doesn’t discriminate between the peaceful and the occasionally dangerous.

Super Bowl Cheat Sheet II

2 Feb

[We continue our guide for how to throw the Super Bowl Party that will elevate your social status to dizzying heights]  

Cheat Sheet I

4.  You are what you eat.

There isn’t typically a straightforward meal associated with Super Bowl Sunday, but food is an absolute necessity at whatever kind of party you throw.  When deciding on your culinary gameplan, make sure you know what the effect your dishes will have on the party’s atmosphere.  If you just put out some chips and salsa and call it a day, you might as well just slap your guests in the face as they walk in.

For your heavy-partying guests, the nuances of flavors aren’t going to make a big difference – Big Kyle isn’t going to taste the slight hint of mango chutney in the buffalo wing he’s inhaling between beers, so don’t waste your time trying to be fancy.  Just put out your standard foods that soak up the alcohol, and which can’t be thrown easily across the room.

On the other hand, when you’re having a nicer get-together and possibly looking to impress some potential bosses or lovers (or both), you should show off your refined tastes with items like handmade guac or a cheese spread straight from France.  Make sure you make a lot of loud comments about how you made snacks with ingredients from your urban garden, and that you can’t imagine not eating locally sourced food anymore.  It will make hearts race and pulses quicken.

Steed Says:  I used to always bring my own dish to Super Bowl parties, to show that I was a good guest and also as sort of an advance peace offering to make up for the tomfoolery that often ensued.  I changed that habit after last year’s game, though, due to a little brownie incident.  I was running late for a party at my sister-in-law’s family’s house, and didn’t have time to make anything fancy, so I grabbed a fresh dish of brownies that I had made a couple of days before.  I have a problem with forgetting things sometimes, and this time I forgot that I added about $80 worth of the finest bud to this particular brownie mix before baking.  

Well, I got to the party and thought nothing of it as the brownies were passed around, even grabbing one myself.  Things were fine until halftime, when my father-in-law Bud suddenly jumped up and ran out of the house, yelling about the “robots on the tube.”  We just thought he was being an Old about the Black Eyed Peas, but then several other people became transfixed with a particularly soft chair in the room, and my mother-in-law tried to take a bat to the TV, to get that “long-haired Ferguson guy out of my house.”  

By the end of the game, several people were refusing to put their clothes back on, and a particularly nosy off-duty cop had indicated my brownies as the culprit.  I wasn’t invited back, and had to buy them a new TV.

5.  Keep the party rocking.

Good music is a fundamental part of any party worth going to, so make sure your tunes are on point for Sunday.  You’ll definitely want to have appropriate music cued up and ready for the pre-game festivities and halftime – the halftime show should only be shown on mute, if at all.

For the pre-game, we suggest something inspiring that gets the party juices flowing for your guests.  At a classy party, maybe throw on the soundtrack to Braveheart or a similar movie – it will be inspirational and could pass for modern classical if people don’t listen too closely.  At a Party party, you can’t go wrong with something along the lines of Appetite For Destruction or Van Halen II, although this could lead to massive rounds of shotgunning, so watch your carpet.

During halftime, you want the music to keep the party energy from lagging, so it’s crucial that you throw on a good mix of upbeat crowd favorites.  For the indie parties, toss on your LCD Soundsystem mix and then make sure that cute girl knows you’ve been listening to them “forever.”  If you put on any Skrillex during halftime, you better be sure that most of the people at your party are already browning out, and that they’re predominantly frat dudes.  Otherwise, Don’t.

Steed Says:  I’m partial to a good mix of Bob Seger and Skynyrd for most of my party activities, but I’ll pretty much get down to anything with a solid rhythm section and some tasty licks.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m personally pretty pumped to see what the Material Girl busts out for the halftime show this year.  I’ve had a Madonna pinup in every apartment I’ve owned since ’88, and if anything, I think she’s gotten better with age.  

I went on a two-day bender a couple years back when her and Guy Ritchie split – I felt real bad for her personally, but she was once again an available woman.   I couldn’t deal with all the conflicting emotions and sort of lost self-control for a bit.  But anyways, I’m holding off from the shots of Jag during the first half this year, just so I can be coherent for the big halftime show.  Can’t wait.

6.  A little bit of action on the side never hurts.

The Super Bowl is one of the few times of the year where the general public will acknowledge and celebrate the massive enterprise that is sports gambling, so it would be a good idea to keep your guests entertained with some wagering options.  There are the standard Super Bowl Squares games, along with the straightforward bets on the game outcome, but you should look to set your party apart by incorporating some unique gambling ventures tailored to your guests.

If you’re throwing a rowdy party, eschew the game entirely and encourage the partygoers to wager wildly on drinking games among each other.  Nothing gets the energy up like a little competition in games like quarters or Fuck You, Friend. Just make sure you keep an eye on things, because you don’t want a fistfight breaking out – unless it’s in a homemade boxing ring in your backyard and you’ve got action going on both sides.

If you’re trying to impress with the classy party, you might want to keep the high-stakes gambling under the table.  Unless your boss is known to love the ponies, and if that’s the case, go crazy.

Steed Says:  Love the gambling aspect of the Big Game, but just be careful because it can get out of hand very quickly.  A couple of years ago for the Giants-Pats game, I was under the assumption that I had placed a huge bet on the Giants with my bookie Tobias.  As the Giants fought their way to a victory, I was losing my shit, thinking I had a few grand coming my way.  

Right after the victory was sealed, I proceeded to round everyone up for an after-party at Shooters, where I bought several rounds of Washington Apple shots before bringing back two lovely ladies to my place for a nightcap.  By the time I passed out, I had purchased a king-size water bed, three round-trip to tickets to Hedonism in Jamaica, and a mini Escalade to putt around the house in – dropping cash for everything because I knew I was going to get it back from Tobias.  

The next day, I woke up to Tobias pounding on the door, holding my scrawled ticket for the Patriots that I had made while under the influence of several ‘luudes.  Hedonism was a good time, but I ended up having to take out three credit cards for the tickets.

Super Bowl Cheat Sheet I

30 Jan

There will be a lot of chattering about the Super Bowl this week, most of it probably coming from people who haven’t watched football since last year’s Big Game.  In fact, a lot of the people watching this Sunday could probably care less about the action on the field, unless it’s the national anthem or the halftime show – they just want to see the spectacle, get titillated by the commercials, and have an excuse to party.  And it is that last item, the party, that Dan Swanky’s is most concerned with.

The decision to throw a Super Bowl party is not one that should be passed up lightly.  Do it right and it can establish your dominance over the neighborhood/apartment complex/dorm floor/campsite social hierarchy for the rest of 2012.  But do it wrong, and you could very well wake up Monday morning to find that the only friends you have left on the ‘Book are your mom and a couple of porn bots.  Obviously, we recommend that you put it all on the line and go for the social glory.  But you might need some help, and that’s what we’re here for, with some added assistance from D. Swankys’ resident Steed.  Take notes.

1.  Know who you are.

What kind of party are you going to have?  Is it going to be geared towards the actual football game, with all of your sports junkie friends ready to analyze that double wishbone sweep that was clearly blocked wrong?  Is it going to be a heavy drinking party, with copious amounts of Natty Light kegs, plastic handles and two-liters of Fresca?  Or is it going to be a higher-class affair, with hummus chips and gourmet dip, pleated pants, and the game volume on mute in favor of the latest Bjork album spinning in the background?  Knowing what kind of party you want is key, because it will influence pretty much everything else you do.

If you want a heavy drinking affair, you’re going to want to hide your breakable items and keep a fire extinguisher handy, in case Uncle Jimbo gets out of hand like he did on Christmas Eve.  If you want a dignified affair in order to impress the beautiful brunette who just moved into 5C, you’re going to have to spend a few afternoons this week taking off-center black-and-white photos of inanimate objects (cup of coffee, your shoe, park bench), which you can then frame and hang in prominent spots around your place.  The key is to know what you want, and then you can know what you have to do to get there.

Steed Says:  This is definitely a good place to start.  For me, I’m going for a full-blown party scene, so I’ve learned in the past that it’s best to change the numbers around on the front of my house before the party.  That way, when the cops come – and they will come – we can get a little more fiesta time as they drive around looking for my nonexistent address.  Also, I know to keep plenty of food on hand, because the munchies will inevitably come for the attendees, and you don’t want anyone screaming at you to give them their keys during the Bruce Springsteen halftime show so they can go to the Pizza Hut/Taco Bell across town.

2.  Invite the right mix.

Once you have decided what kind of party you are angling for, the next step is to determine the best mix of people to invite.  This can be a delicate science, because if you make just one misstep, you could be responsible for long stretches of awkward silences, the loss of a job, or full-blown assault.  We know that your friends probably have all kinds of different backgrounds and personalities, and we will be the first to tell you that variety is the spice of life.  But you know as well as we do that your vegan co-worker is probably not going to have a good time sitting next to your frat bro Chas as he chases his wings with Maker’s Mark.

So the best option is to tailor the invites according to what kind of party you want.  Make sure you don’t invite your buddy Steed and his lady friend Chrysalis to the wine-and-cheese party that your boss is coming to.  And don’t invite that cute artsy girl you met at the Sufjan Stevens concert to a party where all of your fantasy football friends are going to be berating you for picking a TE first this year.

Steed Says:  This is a big one.  A few years back, I had charmed my way to middle management at IBM and had a clear shot at a VP title in a couple of years.  I decided to throw a Super Bowl party that year, and just sent out a mass invite to everyone in my phone book.  A bunch of work people showed up, including some of my bosses, and they were introduced to all of my old pals from my bartending days at Laredo’s.  

At some point in the third quarter, I was distracted by a round of quaffers and when I turned back to the living room, two of my buddies were shirtless and having a slap fight for shots in front of my horrified bosses.  I tried to calm everyone down, but when my bosses got up to leave, they were caught in one of my buddy Robo’s Pound Town Beer Storms, in which he sprays the keg tap over everyone in the area.  I was seen giving Robo a fist bump for his PTBS, and that was it for my IBM job.  Not to say that I’m disappointed in where I am today, because I love to party, but still ya might want to take this seriously.

3.  Set up appropriately.

You probably don’t have access to an all-purposes event tent in your backyard, so you’re going to need to situate your apartment/home properly if you want a successful party.  If you’re going for the heavy partying theme, it might be a good idea to keep the activities over hardwood flooring or tile as much as possible, as those jello shot stains on the carpet can really add up.

Also, depending on what kind of heavy partiers you’ll be inviting, you may want to keep the doors to your bedroom/home office/kid’s room locked.  No one likes to walk in on your buddy and your barista going at it on your bed, or find white residue caked all over your mouse and keyboard.

If you’re going for a classy affair aimed at impressing the ladies, you’ll definitely want to move your vinyl record collection into clear view, and make sure that the Charles Shaw has been taken out of your wine rack.  You could also go crazy with the Japanese tea lights to give a proper ambiance, but that might be a bit too much.  It’s up to your discretion.

Steed Says:  I’ve always found it a good idea during parties to keep everything contained in the living room and kitchen area, because it keeps the clean-up easy and keeps the valuables in your possession.  One time, I forgot to lock my door and I walked in to my buddy Robo angling my bed out the window, right in the middle of a kegger.  I’ve kept my shit locked since.  

Also, when it comes to layout, I’ve learned not to leave out anything that could easily be used as a weapon, ever since the SB Party of ’09, when a couple of guys grabbed my putters and proceeded to have a Bat Fight in my kitchen.  One ambulance ride and a few police reports later, I told myself no more.

 

Continue learning with Cheat Sheet II