Family-Friendly St. Patrick’s Day Events

Even if your days of drinking green beer are over, you can still celebrate the luck o’ the Irish with your little ones. Check out our calendar of kid-friendly St. Paddy’s Day events below.

March 2Alexandria’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Held by the Ballyshaners, a local group celebrating Irish heritage, this event will be Alexandria’s 38th annual parade, beginning at King and Alfred streets and ending at Lee and Cameron streets. There will be over 2,000 participants, including Irish dancers, historical re-enactors, and pipe and drum bands. If that doesn’t sound exciting enough, 30 costumed dogs will compete in multiple categories, including Best Human/Canine Lookalike Contest, from 11-12 on Market Square. Starts at 12:30 p.m., free.

March 10Annapolis St. Patrick’s Day Parade This will be the lucky 7th annual Annapolis St. Patrick’s Day parade. This year’s parade will benefit Warrior Events, a nonprofit serving wounded veterans and their families. John O’Leary will be leading the U.S. Naval Academy Pipes and Drums and many festive floats down West Street and Main Street. Starts at 1 p.m., free.

March 16Loudoun Station Shamrock & Roll Blackfinn Ameripub is ready to rock Loudoun Station with live music, Irish dancing and DJ sets. General admission gets you a drink and your choice of a breakfast taco or corned beef sandwich. There’s no better way to say “top o’ the mornin’ to ya” on St. Paddy’s Day than by kicking it all off with a free Pulse Inferno Burnout Class at 10 a.m. (included in admission). Event is 11-2 a.m., kid-friendly until 4 p.m., $10.

Bagpipers at the Gaithersburg Parade.

March 16 Gaithersburg St. Patrick’s Day Parade Unloading your leprechauns for Gaithersburg’s 19th annual celebration should be a breeze, since the city will be offering free parking in garages along Washington Boulevard. The parade begins at Rio Washington Center and will be emceed by DJ Albie Dee from 94.7 The Drive and JP Flaim of The Sports Junkies. There will be live music from The Lloyd Dobler Effect directly following the parade on the lakefront plaza. Starts at 10 a.m., free.

March 17Wear Green Campfire at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park. Meet at Cabell’s Mill with your wee ones (ages 4 and up) to scout out green items in a meadow. This cute evening ends with a campfire to toast marshmallows with your little one. Registration required. Event is 5:30-6:30 p.m., $8.

Wondering where DC’s official parade is on this list? Unfortunately, it has been canceled this year so resources can be reallocated for next year. This means that next year’s 50th anniversary celebration should be nothing short of a pot of gold!

The D.C. Area’s Best Theaters

Washington D.C.’s film community isn’t the most visible, but if you look hard, you’ll see signs of passionate local filmmakers and film buffs. Whatever your relationship to watching films is, everyone wants comfy seats, tasty snacks, big screens and drinks on tap.

Here are the best theater-going experiences in the area:

Landmark E Street Cinema, 555 11th St. NW, Washington DC (Metro Center)

This indie theater in the heart of D.C. is the prime spot for showings of the kind of under-the-radar films that pop up during awards season and beyond.  With knowledgeable staff, occasional Q&As with the stars and custom-written guides on what’s playing, this is a great place for educated film-goers.

The highlight of their menu is the crab pretzels smothered in gooey cheese.  The beer menu offers a rotating selection of domestic and international beers, so be sure to ask about specials. The E Street bar also offers a wine menu with full bottles available. There’s limited seating to chill out on the bottom floor before your movie. For those in the mood for a non-alcoholic drink, E Street also makes gourmet Italian sodas.

Landmark’s sister theaters include:

Landmark West End, 2301 M St. NW, Washington DC (Foggy Bottom) — A smaller three-theater multiplex with cozier theaters offering second-run films and an abbreviated menu.

Landmark Atlantic Plumbing, 807 V St. NW, Washington DC (U Street-Cardozo) — Smack-dab in the middle of the swanky U Street corridor, this place serves unusual theater snacks such as ramen and has a virtual juke box you can select use via an app.

Landmark Bethesda Row, 7235 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda (Bethesda) — More of a mainstream cinema venue, but the full-service bar area is good place to chill. Check out the Cinema Art Bethesda for a moderated discussion and breakfast on the third Sunday of each month.

Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse, 2903 Columbia Pike, Arlington (bus line off Pentagon City)

The Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse has been a fixture on the local scene since 1985, when the current management bought it from a traditional movie house (the building is 70 years old) and turned it into a combination movie and live performance venue with a restaurant. The theater’s showings are mostly second-run, which means films that are between theater and DVD. Thus, tickets are cheaper, but even more so on Mondays — discount night.

The is also one of the premiere stand-up comedy venues in the area. Big names from Saturday Night Live to Comedy Central all pass through here (and can sometimes be found getting drunk somewhere along Columbia Pike after their set).

Cinema and Drafthouse is one of the few places where you can order a full meal without ever leaving your seat. Simply hold up your card and a waiter will sneak by and quietly take your order mid-show.  The menu includes a wide selection of drinks with a lot of specialty cocktails and martinis named after films including Pirates of the Caribbean (Malibu rum, pineapple juice and grenadine) or a Willy Wonka with chocolate liquor or a float made with Henry’s Hard Orange.

Angelika Film Center & Café at Mosaic, 2911 District Ave., Fairfax (Dunn Loring-Merrifield)

The Angelika shows indie films, blockbusters and has occasional screenings of old films and film festivals. The snack menu includes four types of gourmet hot dogs, three types of artisanal popcorn and a messy hodgepodge of salty and sweet treats.

Be sure to check out the upstairs café before your movie, where you’ll find a full bar (four kinds of drafts, in addition to stouts, ales and Potter’s Cranberry Orange Blossom) and a respectable menu. Play a board game while you hang out, and watch an old movie or sporting event.  If you hit the cafe after the film, you get half off.

On Tuesdays, students get a ticket and bag of popcorn for $9 with ID.

The recently constructed surrounding Mosaic District, boasting art studios, restaurants, community events and boutique shops, has breathed a lot of life into what just five years ago was a sleepy corner of suburbia.

Angelika Pop-Up at Union Market, 500 Penn St. NE (NoMa-Galludet)

Located within a mile of the NoMa-Galludet Metro stop and behind Union Market, the Angelika Pop-Up has a bare-bones feel with the look of an abandoned warehouse. The menu is consistent with the Angelika in the Mosaic District, only the lounge is just a waiting area with a few tables. The theaters aren’t tiered, so fair warning, don’t sit behind a tall dude.

The Avalon Theatre, 5612 Connecticut Ave. NW (Friendship Heights)

The oldest movie theater in the area (circa 1923), the Avalon closed in 2001 and was resurrected two years later with community support. Today, it is D.C.’s only nonprofit theater. Some of their proceeds go to scholarships for filmmaking camp, so you know some of your film dollars are going to a good cause. The film’s two screens are pretty enormous, like the old days. They show a lot of indie and small-scale films with the occasional blockbuster.

AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring (Silver Spring)

If you’ve ever heard of the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award or the prestigious AFI filmmaking school or the AFI anything else, this is the same organization. The art deco building is an impressive feature and the three-theater complex is probably the most high-profile theater in DC as well as the top destination for directors and movie stars doing any audience Q&As. Even with just three theaters, AFI has nearly everything: mainstream, indie, foreign and the best of the obscure. They serve beer on tap, spirits and a full wine bar, but not too much in the food department beyond candy and popcorn.






Books + Booze = Fun!

F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, “Here’s to alcohol, the rose colored glasses of life.” If you’ve never considered pairing books and alcohol, maybe it’s about time you tried on some rose-colored glasses — or rosé colored glasses — of your own.

Check out some of the local offerings:

  • Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe in Dupont Circle has been around since 1976. With names such as “Social Justice Book Club” and even “Tequila Book Club,” there’s nothing monotonous about this book store. Their cafe serves an extensive menu of upscale American fare, craft beer, wine and literary-themed cocktails, including “Lord of the Pimms” and “Fahrenheit 1517.”
  • Bards Alley opened in Vienna in 2017, much to the glee of wine-loving literary suburbanites. The name is a nod to the Bard (Shakespeare) and Diagon Alley of Harry Potter, showing that just like the pastime of snuggling up with a book and a glass of wine, they’re timeless. On Wednesdays, they host Winesday, a wine happy hour from 4-7 p.m. Check out their calendar for upcoming readings, book clubs, and open mic nights. Next month, they are even teaming up with The Wine Outlet to host a discussion with two authors on their wine-themed novels.
  • Politics and Prose in D.C. is a local institution. Founded in 1984, this vibrant cultural hub now has three locations. They’ve hosted huge names in the book world, from John Green to Trevor Noah, and their calendar is packed with book talks, reading groups and even comedy and trivia. But if it’s books and booze you’re after, you’ll have to hit up their Northwest D.C. location. Most of their book groups meet in The Den, a basement coffeehouse/wine bar that also serves local craft beer. They have happy hour from 4-7 p.m. on weekdays if you’re feeling frugal.
  • One More Page Books in Arlington is a laid-back shop with the tagline: “Where we take books, wine, and chocolate more seriously than we take ourselves!” Their events cleverly pair literature with drinks, including an upcoming Romance Roundtable with a wine tasting. Also, check out their hilarious YouTube series, Boozy Books, where two of the booksellers drink adult beverages and ramble excitedly about their favorite new books.

Celebrate U.S. Heritage with Beer

Heritage Brewing Co. Brewpub and Roastery manager Spenser McKenna hoped George, Tom, Teddy and Abe would come down the block for a mug last Sunday after the Market Common Annual Presidents Day Party — the Rough Rider would have enjoyed his honorary brew, the Hazy Teddy. But the Nats’ running presidents seemed content to take selfies with families enjoying hot cocoa — compliments of Nicecream across the street on Clarendon Boulevard.

Since the mouths on those massive heads are sealed shut, I had to go myself and drink on their behalf. The Hazy Teddy, an East Coast Indian Pale Ale named for its unfiltered cloudiness, had a strong citrus tang and appealing, hoppy bitterness (5.6% alcohol at $7 a glass).

Teddy is crafted at the Heritage Brewery Co. headquarters and taproom in Manassas, under the Lincoln’s Hat label. The Heritage slogan is “Uniquely American,” and that theme is expressed through the names of the selections as well as the large woodblock Old Glory on the wall on the North Fillmore Street location, which hosted a lively crowd Sunday afternoon.

The rustic, deep, narrow interior has a high ceiling and gray-washed faux brick, a look that’s all corrugated metal and beer barrels and no BS. It’s an ideal hangout for friends who honestly enjoy one another’s company. Dylan, The Band and The Beatles dominate the music selection — this would be the first time I’ve heard “8 Miles High” by the Byrds and “A Day in a Life” back to back in a northern Virginia bar. Not complaining.

Although not a sports bar (the two TVs — one showing a hockey game and one showing soccer — had the sound down), a football lounge will be starting next season.

Sean, one of the bartenders, told me this location opened two years ago, but the Brewing Company itself was launched on New Year’s Eve, 2013. Both he and his co-bartender, Sabrina, kept busy while remaining down-to-earth and friendly.

A group of retired veterans started the venture, hence the patriotic motif. Nearly all military branches are represented among the staff at the Manassas brewery: the company president is Navy, the toaster is Army and the brewer is Air Force. Flagship brews are called Freedom Isn’t Free IPA, King’s Mountain Scotch ale, American Expedition honey ginger lager and Force Multiplier double IPA. According to its website, Heritage has produced 400 beers and is expanding throughout the eastern seaboard. On top of pushing for excellence in beer craft, the company donates regularly to veterans’ charities.

The menu features local fare such as Chesapeake Bay oysters and mussels — the former with cocktail sauce and sour raspberry mignonette and the latter steamed with one of their lagers (Civil Works), cream, shallots, bacon and garlic. I ordered the mussels ($10.50 for about 12) which were deliciously creamy, sweet and buttery with a peppery aftertaste.

Other selections include deviled eggs, a smokehouse board featuring salmon and trout, and beer-battered pretzels. As of now, only brunch is offered, but McKenna says they are developing a dinner menu. A culinary-school grad, McKenna has channeled his knowledge of flavor to create interesting fusions which are on display in jars over the bar.

He let me try the Heritage Cosmo, a pale pink concoction of lime vodka infused with berry and thyme; and a darker pink Veteran Collins — cherry, apple and mint infused with gin, St. Germain and Sprite. They’re both good, but the thyme nailed it for me. Pinkness will also rule the day for the Cherry Festival, when the addition of hibiscus will yield pink beer.

The two guys on the stools adjacent to mine, friends and Batt and Sean (yes, this is a very Sean kind of place) praised the beer and the atmosphere. Sean lives nearby and says a lot of his friends like to go to more party-oriented bars, but he prefers a more low-key place like this. Batt says he likes the brewery feel.

The Sean factor will be raised to the 10th degree next month when St. Patrick’s Day will be celebrated on not just one, but all days of the week. Maybe the Mount Rushmore quartet will sneak in the back door? A barrel would fit nicely inside one of those heads.

Heritage Brewing Co., 1300-1398 N Fillmore St., Arlington, VA 22201 Clarendon District; Hours: Monday-Thursday 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday 11:30 a.m.-12 a.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-12 a.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-9 p.m.



Crowds Brave Cold for Chinese New Year Celebration

One hour before the Chinese Lunar New Year parade started on Sunday, the crowd was already packed tight under the famous Friendship Arch on the corner of H and 7th NW to welcome the Year of the Pig.

Some people even gathered on top of the AT&T building, with the crowds wondering aloud how they got up there.

The Three Princes, with shiny bulbous heads and fringed silk gowns, danced in the street to warm up the crowd, waiting in the cold for the parade to start. When they started breaking it down to Chuck Brown’s “Bustin’ Loose” on the loudspeaker, it was clear that this was going to be a Washington D.C.-style Chinese New Year.

Although not as vast or historically significant as its counterparts in San Francisco, New York City or Los Angeles (“Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown”), Washington D.C.’s is more integrated into the city — it shares a Metro stop with Gallery Place — and seems younger and hipper.

Because D.C. is one of the most diverse cities in the country, it’s fitting that even an ethnic festival would be multicultural: People of all races marched as members of Chinese language societies, Kung Fu clubs and dance troupes. No D.C. event would be complete without a protest — marchers with PETA signs and pictures of live pigs suffering in crates.

The parade was lots of fun, despite a route that unexpectedly split off in two directions (“Yay! Here comes the big pig — aww, where’s it going?”) Marchers sported pig hats, threw fortune cookies to the crowd and lit firecrackers popped. Spectators were treated to the sounds of heart-quickening drums and the most vibrant colors.

Xavier Parada, a Washington D.C. resident originally from Mexico, said this was his first Lunar New Year Parade in D.C.

“It’s very impressive, but very cold,” he laughed, wrapping his hands tightly around a Starbucks beverage.

A highlight was the U.S. Naval Academy’s Midshipmen marching to honor Chinese veterans of World War II, along with the announcement that a bipartisan bill creating a Congressional Medal of Honor for Chinese veterans of World War II finally passed the House. This is significant because the men served while the Chinese Exclusion Act was still in effect and were the last minority group given this recognition.

Of course, the coolest parts of any Lunar New Year celebration are the lion and dragon dances, which are said to bring us strength and prosperity.

Mark your calendar for next year’s celebration, when it will be the year of the rat.





Creative Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

All holidays are made up, but Valentine’s Day seems especially made up. I don’t even have to go to the Valentine’s Day page on Wikipedia to tell you that, whatever its origins, it had nothing to do with a mediocre prix fixe dinner and a Victoria’s Secret gift bag. And yet here we are, dreading the 14th and texting our significant others, “Uh I don’t care what we do, why don’t you decide.”

No one really cares about Valentine’s except trophy wives and couples who’ve been dating less than a year — we’re basically being held hostage by the people you change airplane seats to avoid.

But until I’m elected president and sign my landmark “Valentine’s Ban” legislation, we’re stuck celebrating it. So here are some stupid ways to ironically celebrate what’s probably the dumbest holiday of the year, tied with Christmas. (“It’s Jesus’ birthday, so put a tree in your living room.”)


I have this theory that most new things start out as jokes between two people who are high, and then somehow, they became actual serious things, and this one seems to back up that theory.

On Valentine’s Day, White Castle converts to a tablecloths-and-candlelight restaurant, with waitstaff and reservations, so you and the love of your life can go split a dozen sliders while discussing baby names under fluorescent lighting. Last year, they took over 30,000 reservations.

I actually really like the ironic tackiness of this idea, but unfortunately the closest White Castle is in Whitehall, PA, so unless you’re REALLY committed to this joke, maybe just hit the Wendy’s drive-thru.

Related: heart-shaped pizzas from Papa John’s and Pizza Hut. Though the execution was so blatantly sloppy, maybe only opt for this if you’re trying to ease your significant other towards a “this-isn’t-really-working-out” moment.


Get your mind out of the gutter. The Love Sausage is an Irish novelty sausage that’s shaped like a heart. “Lightly truffled, wrapped in bacon,” reads the description, and it’s shown with two fried eggs nestled inside.

If you secretly want to murder your significant other, but don’t have the nerve to actually plunge a knife into their heart, this gift will basically do the same thing.


If you don’t have anyone to celebrate Valentine’s with, you’re rootin’ tootin’ mad about that and you like bad chicken wings, everyone’s favorite breastaurant is offering 10 free wings to anyone who brings in their ex’s photo for a ritual shredding on-site.

While some people would argue that angry single men publicly burning their exes in effigy and then eating plates of meat while staring wordlessly at college students in push-up bras is kind of disturbing, I think that — actually, no, it is pretty disturbing when you put it like that. Everyone stay far away from Hooters on Valentine’s Day.


You can go to the Facebook page for the El Paso Zoo in El Paso, Texas, bestow your ex’s name on a cockroach, and then watch that cockroach being devoured, live on Facebook, by a meerkat on Valentine’s Day. It’s kinda creepy, but also kinda cute. The zoo’s had such a huge response that they’ve had to recruit several more cockroach-eating creatures, including two tamarins and a marmoset.

Act fast and you’ll be able to spend your Valentine’s evening sitting alone at your laptop, watching a grainy livestream while tearily screaming, “Take that, Jordan! And you still haven’t given me back my books!”


Strip Down for Cupid’s Undie Run

Do you want to run down the street in your underwear, but skip ingesting the mind-altering substances that’ll get you in the proper mood? Well, you’re in luck, because the annual Cupid’s Undie Run is this Saturday, Feb. 9.  How does it work?

You register, show up to Penn Social at noon, drink until you can kinda sorta believe that your unclothed body is suitable for public display, and then go for a short run around 2-ish.  Then it’s back to the bar for more drinks, and probably a few encounters with passive-aggressive strangers asking how drunk you were when you chose your tattoo from the generic “Wall of Designs” at a 24-hour shop in Panama City, Florida. (Very drunk. And 19 years old.)

Before you make some cynical comment about this, keep in mind that the Undie Run is for charity.  It raises money for neurofibromatosis (NF), a genetic condition that affects about 1 in 3,000 births, and causes tumors to grow throughout the nervous system. According to the official website, “We run in our undies because those affected with NF can’t cover up their tumors to feel more comfortable, so why should we?” To date they’ve raised over $14 million.

The only rules for the run are, “No pasties, no thongs, and no full-on nude.” The event manager suggests your “bedroom best — feather boas, tutus, wigs and capes,” which suggests that some people’s bedrooms involve much more musical theater than mine does.

Check out these photos from last year’s run for other dress-up ideas, including bunny ears, angel wings, Speedos, comical sculpting of body hair, Chippendales bowties, traffic cones worn as hats, and (oh God, no) Minions costumes.

Celebrate the Year of the Pig

Based on Chinese astrology, your reward for working like a Dog in 2018 will be that you get to act like a Pig in 2019. Enjoy the fruits of your labor as Chinatown welcomes the Year of the Earth Pig, with many opportunities to eat, drink and be merry.

The heart of the festivities will be, as always, the annual parade in Gallery Place, with its firecrackers, colorful floats, lion dance and kung fu fighters. The event falls on Sunday, Feb.10, this year and will drum its way down 6th St. NW from I to H St. starting at 2 p.m. Expect restaurants to be packed.

Two of the best-rated Chinese eateries are within a few blocks of the Friendship Archway and you can drop in this week for delicious food and cocktails: Wok and Roll, the popular Karaoke hangout at 604 H St. NW, has happy hour from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tony Cheng Mongolian Restaurant at 619 H St. NW has a full bar. If you’re willing to plan ahead, American Son at 1201 K Street NW is taking reservations for a New Year selection prepared by gifted chef Timothy Ma, which includes scallion pancakes, Kung Pao pork belly and deep-fried flounder, among other dishes.

For a non-traditional dessert, sample some inventive Chinese New Year-themed flavors at the Ice Cream Jubilee — but reserve a spot quickly, because Tuesday is the last day to try citrus Sichuan peppercorn, boricha roasted barley tea and Thai iced tea. There are three Ice Cream Jubilee locations: 301 Water St. SE, 1407 T S. NW and 2001 International Drive, McLean, Va.

With all these opportunities to make a complete pig of yourself, 2019 is already looking like a lucky Lunar Year.


Super Bowl or Fair-to-Middling Bowl?

At some point, I became that which I hate most: a person who doesn’t watch a single football game all year, who doesn’t even follow what’s happening in the NFL, but watches the Super Bowl.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with watching football. And there’s nothing wrong with not watching football. But watching only the Super Bowl bespeaks a certain kind of desperation. It makes it seem like you’re afraid of missing out. Missing out on what?

Something super, obviously. Which is ludicrous, because if you’ve ever watched a football game (and I’ve watched one a year for the past 10 years), you know that nothing super ever happens. Mostly it’s fat guys running into each other and then falling down. But I continue to watch the Super Bowl (maybe the name’s ironic?) for two reasons: because I bet money on it, and because it’s terrible.

Let’s address the betting first. The Super Bowl has this thing called “prop bets,” which are all these random events that you can bet on, many of which aren’t even sports-related: whether the national anthem will be longer than, say, two minutes, what songs the halftime performer will sing, etc. You do some research on each one (i.e. 10 minutes of Googling), place your bets, and sit back.

Money won from betting is so much sweeter than money you earn. When you get a paycheck from your job, you know deep down that all you did for that money was physically show up to an office, restrain yourself from yelling obscenities at your co-workers, and maybe fiddle around with an Excel spreadsheet from like 4:40 to 5 p.m. every day. You didn’t really earn that money; that money is more like a bribe that society is paying you to not become the Unabomber. But gambling money?! Betting is a multi-billion-dollar industry whose entire reason for existence is to separate you from your money. Outsmarting those people and their algorithms is extremely satisfying.

“Oh, but you didn’t outsmart anyone; you just got lucky,” people will say. Yes, but getting lucky means the universe wanted me to win that money. The universe was on my side. That’s what luck is. And that’s the real reward of the gambler; knowing that, for a moment, your intentions and the universe’s intentions were perfectly lined up.

Unfortunately, getting to that moment of perfect harmony requires you to watch about three hours of fat guys running into each other and then falling down. And the game itself isn’t even the worst part of it. No, the worst part is everything else.

Credit: Staff Sgt. Christopher Bolen

The Super Bowl always starts out with a conspicuous display of patriotism; literal troops waving literal flags, and sometimes even literal bald eagles trained to swoop down out of the sky at the anthem’s crescendo. What does patriotism have to do with football? I have no idea. If I was cynical, I’d say it was pandering. And it doesn’t stop there.

The commercials — oh Lord, the commercials — are even worse. Never mind the “funny” ones (they’re never funny) — the worst ones are the Very Serious ones.

It’s always a car or beer commercial. It starts with some artfully filtered footage, often in slow motion, a montage of some sort, with a voice-over from a famous actor solemnly reciting various Hallmark-card quality sentiments about Family and Country and Community and Love and Courage, etc. Then at the end, you see, something like a bottle of Coors Light. And you’re sitting there angry, actually angry, not only because you let a stupid Super Bowl commercial get on your nerves, but because the sheer quality of the pandering — low, sloppy, barely trying — is actually insulting to your intelligence. They thought that was going to get me to buy their stupid beer? But when you turn to Meg from HR to say that, you see she has a single tear rolling down her cheek.

“That was a good one,” Meg says.

“Yes, Meg, that one was pretty good,” you reply.

Then comes halftime, when a not-very-good band plays not-very-good music, and since they’re performing on a portable stage wheeled out into the middle of a football field, they also have paid audience members rush out onto the field and gather around the stage and “cheer.” And you can tell from the frozen grins on their faces, and the mechanical way they wave their arms, that in the Paid Audience Member contract they signed, it almost surely said something like, “If you are filmed on camera not smiling or waving your arms at a rate slower than twenty (20) oscillations per minute, Super Bowl LLC reserves the right to withhold payment.”

And it occurs to you that you’re basically the same as those fake audience members, looking on without any real interest or joy, except you’re not even getting paid. And you hate yourself.

But then this is also part of the reason I watch the Super Bowl. Because if this kind of thing still infuriates you, at least you know you haven’t totally lost it yet. Nothing against Meg from HR — she’s a perfectly pleasant woman — but let’s be honest, there’s a reason her husband left her last year for a woman who sells essential oils on Facebook.

And that’s the Super Bowl. It’s like a three-hour field trip to the Real America (which is also the Worst America), and at the same time, if you’re lucky, you can make some money off it. For example, this year, the national anthem is a lock to go long. Gladys Knight is singing it this year, and if you think she’s not going to milk it, you’ve never watched her on “Hollywood Squares” in a dentist’s waiting room. Brevity is a four-letter word to Ms. Knight. Bet the farm on the over. (You’re welcome.) Brevity is a four letter word to Ms. Knight. Bet the farm on the over. (You’re welcome.)