So, just to set the stage for the current state of affairs around here - Nasser left this morning (Monday) to go back to a city basking in a pretty good season so far. Amanda came back from Boston and beyond on Sunday night and is taking her time dealing with the post-convention disorders that beset normal people after standing up for several days in a row and dealing with countless introspective conversations. If there's such a thing as a chocolate information binge, I think she's been on one.
But I digress - Sunday football is the subject of this post. Nass and I got up on Sunday, in Quito, ready to watch the game. With previous experiences under my belt, I was quick to do as much research as possible on game channels and times and such before the game, and to look into where the game might be played. The one thing that I'm missing at this point is an actual tv guide, or the cable equivalent for this area, to be able to actually check to see on what channel the game (might) be aired.
We opted for trying out a local Irish pub called Mulligans to see the game, and went ridiculously early to prepare for the event. We caught most of the early game that was aired on CBS - the Ravens/Dolphins game, and drank way too many of the large glasses of beer that were offered. Once the second game started (at around 3 pm here) we realized that CBS airs three different afternoon games, and the game that is aired on the local cable network is somehow related to some random area of the country (the mother land, not this country). I've noticed some scheduling weight given to Miami (which makes sense for a latin american broadcast company), with a secondary emphasis on Dallas, neither of which help us. In the case of Sunday afternoon, the CBS channel that was shown was the Indianapolis game -- quite possibly the least latin oriented team in the NFL. Go figure.
Realizing that our hopes had been dashed, we hobbled out of the bar as quickly as we could. We stopped, briefly, at the uber-US bar down the street, where we had been told Redskins fans were wont to gather to watch the game. Unfortunately, in some many more ways than one, the owner had died on Thursday, and we had previously assummed the place would be closed, and yet hope spring eternal. Turns out that the place was by then completely smothered in flower arrangements, wreaths, and other votive/commemorations of the owner who had died, and an impromptu (or completely scheduled) irish wake was in full swing at the bar. No football there (and more on this death in the future - it's an interesting story with some really pointed lessons).
On to another irish bar we traveled, where we had met a whole host of young US people volunteering at a school in cotocollao ( a very poor neighborhood in Quito) on Friday night. Unfortunately, the bar management turned out to be more Catholic than Irish, and the place was closed for the day.
So we punted and headed home to listen to the game on espn radio. I was able to get the internet radio running when I stumbled, with the help of google, into something called justin.tv. This site has a whole swarm of "channels" which, as far as I can tell, are random people all across the US that are streaming US tv over the internet. We were able to find a "channel" from someone in the DC area that was broadcasting the Redskins game, while he was actually at the game. This was an awesome discovery, and one which I will have to take full advantage of in the near future.
I have to say that watching a football game, or any "what is happening right now" activity on the internet is a novel experience, with the potential of making the game more interesting than actually watching it live, or on tv. Much like listening to baseball on the radio, there are new elements of streaming that one must take into account to appreciate what's going on. The image is fuzzy -- fuzzy enough that you have to listen for the fan's reaction to a play to figure out if the receiver caught the ball, or if something interesting, like a fumble, occurred on the play. And don't even get me started on the "buffering" message - what a special addition to the experience this brings. There's nothing like watching your team on third and long and having the screen stop refreshing, and getting that "buffering" stop motion message. Another added benefit of watching the game online is being able to peruse the comments section on the side of the screen. It's like having supporters of either team on either side of you while you're at the game, and getting to be partisan to their trash talking throughout the intermission, and during every play.
Despite all the added bonuses, we were doing just fine watching the game, in a stilted and jarred fashion, right up until the last minute or two of play. Then the internet feed got disconnected. Note earlier that the "channel" was being hosted by a guy who was at the game - so no possibility of reset.
We ended up listening to the last few minutes (and, if you're familiar with this Sunday, you know how tense it was) on ESPN radio - thank god that didn't go out as well - while playing ping pong between plays and during commercial breaks.
So, there you have it - that's what it's like to try and watch a simple football game down here. Might be more effort than changing the channel on your HD flat screen dish network tivo machine, but the effort makes the experience that much sweeter.
And can anyone recall a team with a record this good with such a shaky and uneven team, a team that hasn't won by a touchdown yet this season? Talk about exciting.