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Super Bowl LI: From Gaga to goop — what to watch, what to serve

By Clint O'Connor • Feb 5, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Coming this weekend: America’s national beer, wings and nachos holiday, otherwise known as Super Bowl Sunday.

Depending on your level of devotion to all things NFL, you can watch as much as 7½ hours of Super Bowl preview shows beginning at 11 a.m. Eventually there will be an actual game, around 6:30 p.m., in Houston, between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons.

It’s Super Bowl 51, by the way, if you are keeping track. The NFL prefers we call it Super Bowl LI, because nothing says 21st century American football like Roman numerals.

Not only is it a TV ratings bonanza, but it’s also a huge day for sports bars and sports bookies. Here are some things to watch, do and serve on the big day.

Watch it all, if you dare

TV coverage begins at 11 a.m. with Road to the Super Bowl on WJW (Channel 8). At noon, it’s the Undisputed Super Bowl Special, followed by the Fox Super Bowl Kickoff at 1. Then at 2, you can check out 4½ hours of the Fox Super Bowl Pregame. (Did I mention the post-game show?)

Music and mayhem

The last time the Super Bowl was in Houston, in 2004, Janet Jackson experienced her infamous “wardrobe malfunction” during the halftime show with Justin Timberlake.

This year’s halftime performer is Lady Gaga. We’re told she is flying solo, so no Coldplay-Beyoncé-Bruno tag-team tango.

Country star Luke Bryan will sing the national anthem. And fans of the Broadway smash Hamilton will get to see original cast members Phillipa Soo, Renee Elise Goldsberry and Jasmine Cephas Jones (aka the Schuyler sisters) perform America the Beautiful.

Counter-programming

While millions will be tuned to the game, competing networks offer a slew of viewing alternatives. Animal Planet presents Puppy Bowl XIII at 6 p.m., while the Hallmark Channel launches its Kitten Bowl IV events at noon (with the championship “game” starting at 5 p.m.). Bravo is going all out with The Real Housewives of Atlanta marathon beginning at 3 p.m.

And now a word from our sponsor

Melissa McCarthy will be selling Kias, John Malkovich looks for his own web domain, and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will not only be playing in the game, but also pushing Intel. The great tradition of Super Bowl commercials continues this year with web companies squaring off against cars and beers. Wix.com will present an elaborately produced action short starring Jason Statham and Wonder Woman Gal Gadot.

Closer to home

If you can’t make it to Houston but want to watch with a crowd, sports bars in Northeast Ohio will be buzzing with beer and chicken wing specials, and crackling with cheers from a ridiculous number of TVs. The Galaxy Sports Bar in Wadsworth (201 Park Center Drive) not only offers four giant projector screens and 10 super-sized LG TVs, but it also has 11 booths and tables with their own HD screens. This is known as total football immersion.

“We have two neighboring hotels, if you want to make a night of it,” said sports bar manager David Waters. “There will also be shuttle service so everyone can get home safely.”

Place your bets

What would the Super Bowl be without prop bets (the non-game proposition bets)? The over/under on the length of the national anthem is two minutes and 15 seconds. Odds are being offered on whether or not Bryan will be wearing jeans and a hat when he sings the anthem, and what color Gaga’s hair will be when she opens her halftime show. (Handicappers assume her hair color will be changing.)

As for what songs she will include, Bad Romance is the even-money favorite at 1-1; Born This Way is at 13-2; and Million Reasons is at 40-1. Edge of Glory, which seems like a no-brainer for the grand finale, is at 10-1.

World’s easiest appetizer

OK. Technically, a bag of chips and onion dip would be easier, but if you want to actually prepare something and bask in Super Bowl party glory when your guests devour it at an obscenely rapid pace, here’s what you make: Artichoke Dip.

What you’ll need: 1 can (14.5 oz.) of artichokes; 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, ½ cup of mayonnaise; a lemon; crackers (Bremner wafers are best).

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Drain and chop up the artichokes. Mix in a bowl with the mayo and Parmesan. Transfer to a casserole dish. Sprinkle a little extra Parmesan over the top (about 1 tablespoon) and spritz with a little fresh lemon. Place in the oven and bake uncovered for 25 minutes. Serves six. Easy!

This is, of course, an ancient family recipe. And, remarkably, it has also found its way onto the sides of artichoke cans worldwide. The original recipe doesn’t include the sprinkling and the lemon (but I like a browned, crusty top). It also calls for a cup of mayo, but I found that too goopy and cut it in half. Go for the full cup if you prefer the goop.

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©2017 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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