Page 2 columnist
Editor's Note: The Sports Guy is writing a running blog from Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston, and he will be updating it a couple of times each day.
HOUSTON -- Remember the movie "Insomnia," when Al Pacino investigates a series of murders in Alaska, then slowly starts to turn crazy from the lack of sunlight? That's how I'm starting to feel. That's right, you're not gonna believe this ... it's another crappy day in Houston. Nobody seems to care. In fact, after the roaring success of this week, Anchorage has just been chosen to host the Super Bowl in 2010. Who needs sun during a week of leisure? Sun is overrated. Sweeping fog, gloomy skies, a wind that's just cold enough to make you want to wear a jacket, but just warm enough that you feel like you should take your jacket off half the time ... now that's a vacation. It has been interesting to watch the city transform during the course of the week. You get the nagging feeling Houston wasn't quite ready to host the Super Bowl, like they needed six more weeks to get everything together. The light rail has been the running joke of the trip -- people are telling apocryphal stories about these accidents, and you never know what to believe anymore. It's like a cross between Billy Joel's Mercedes and the Boogey Man. Some hotels opened within the last few weeks, including Icon, which had workers running around with giant buckets of paint as recently as Tuesday. And the traffic situation -- generally a debacle for events like this, no matter which city you're in -- has been particularly abysmal. I always thought L.A. was the most sprawling city in America -- Houston could be twice as big. I'm usually like a mouse in these situations; spin me around and I always know where I am. Not here. I still can't figure it out. You feel like you're drunk, but all the time. On the bright side, it finally started to feel like a Super Bowl over these past few days. They have relaxed a few crucial laws here, most importantly the "You're not supposed to walk outside with an open container of liquor" law. That's a biggie. So Main Street feels a little like Mardi Gras -- giant masses of people walking around and having a grand old time. And honestly, there's nothing quite like the Super Bowl in the days leading up to the game, no matter where they're holding it. I wouldn't even use the word "festive" -- it's more like "uber-festive."
I spent most of Friday in Missouri City, about 45 minutes from downtown, which was where we filmed "Jimmy Kimmel Live" last night. This was a premise that unfolded over the last few weeks: We wanted to do a show from Houston, tossed a few ideas around, then decided we should pick a family and do it from their house. And that's what we did. More than 4,000 people offered their houses; we narrowed the list down to four contenders, then finally settled on the Moutras, who turned out to be terrific.It's funny how these ideas turn out when you actually have to execute them. The Moutras' neighbors were furious that we infiltrated their street, as if this wasn't the most exciting thing that happened to them in months. We had trouble getting Internet access, so Jimmy ended up standing in his trailer and pushing his laptop against a window, lifting somebody's wireless signal. Adam Carolla was caught in traffic and missed rehearsal. He later confessed that he got a late start to the day because he got wrapped up watching "Beverly Hills Cop 2" in his hotel room. "It just sucks you in," he explained. "There's nothing you can do." The biggest disaster happened at about 5:30 p.m. -- ninety minutes before taping -- when Jimmy realized his cell phone hadn't switched over to West Coast time. He thought it was 3:30. That meant he had about 75 minutes to create Act One and read the guest segments. To put this in perspective, normally he starts this process at 5:30 for a 9 p.m. taping. Suddenly, it was like an outtake from "The Larry Sanders Show" -- we're scribbling down notes on the guest bios, writing down jokes on paper and running from trailer to trailer. Jimmy is standing in his trailer, the laptop against the window, so he can read any late e-mails from the talent staff and the writers. And so on. We ended up buying an extra 30 minutes before the taping, mostly thanks to Nick Lachey getting caught in traffic, and everything turned out fine. Still, there's no way I can possibly describe that "Oh, crap" feeling you get when you're nearing the taping of a TV show and something goes wrong. The only thing that's worse is spending a few hours writing something, then losing it because your computer melts down and you forgot to save everything. It's that same feeling of terror, wondering if you're going to find what you wrote, hoping it turns out OK. (One tidbit from the taping: Warren Sapp was telling Carolla how the Panthers will destroy the Pats on Sunday, claiming that the Panthers D-line is too good for the Pats O-line. "They're soft!" he kept saying. Whatever. Sounds like sour grapes to me. You lose twice to a team like the Bucs did -- of course, you want that team to win the Super Bowl, it justifies your own lousy season. He's lucky I didn't kick his butt right then and there.) After the taping, we skipped the Maxim party (too far away) and headed back to Icon for yet another Sony event (they've been the stars of the week). In the upstairs lounge, Cindy Crawford was there with her husband, Rande Gerber, who owns the chain of Whiskey Bars (including that lounge we were in). You never know with these models and actresses -- many times, they don't look nearly as good in person. Sometimes they look the same. Rarely will they look even better in person.
Cindy Crawford? Better in person. And that's saying something.At around 1 a.m., they opened an upstairs banquet room which featured multiple bars, food, sofas and everything else. It was like the greatest wedding reception of all-time. And as Marv Albert would say, there were a plethora of celebrities in the house ... including the Hilton sisters! As Troy Aikman would say, "You talk about girls who know how to enter a room and get everyone talking." Paris looks the same in person -- scrawnier, but the same -- but her sister looks even better in person. She's striking. Then again, I was on my eighth Bushmills and water at that point, so it was hard to tell. I was hanging out with Jimmy when they arrived -- he knows them a little because they like "Crank Yankers." Apparently, they make crank calls all the time from their car phones or something. So, Paris dramatically walks up to us, sticks her hand out for Jimmy to kiss it, stares at him for a second, then prances away. It was all very strange. Weird things happen when you're at the Super Bowl. And then the celebs came pouring in, including a ton of football players and randoms like Jimmy Fallon -- just seeing him made me want to write a Super Bowl party sketch for him, so he could laugh in the middle of the sketch and ruin it. The party was fun for another hour ... then the place got too crowded, and then they stopped serving alcohol. Talk about your double whammies. When I left at around 2:30, they had just opened up an early breakfast line, which was funny because you could see this line forming of drunken guests and celebrities, all of them wobbling in place waiting for some eggs and bacon. These are the things you see when you're at the Super Bowl. Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine, as well as one of the writers for "Jimmy Kimmel Live." He'll be updating his Super Blog two or three times per day from Houston.
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