The Annotated Dennis Miller: Giants vs. Broncos
By Locke Peterseim, Britannica.com
Special to ABC Sports Online

First quarter
The set-up: Denver tight end Patrick Hape's rapid rise to a starting position with the Broncos after being traded from Tampa Bay

The quip: "Think about what a surrealistic bunny hole it is for Patrick Hape (to be starting) He must be thinking, 'Did Lewis Carroll write the game plan tonight?' "

The read: Charles Dodgson, an Oxford mathematics lecturer and church deacon who, on July 4, 1862, took the Liddell children, Lorina, Edith and Alice, on a rowing picnic. That afternoon Dodgson began to make up a fairy-tale story for them called Alice's Adventures Underground about a little girl who fell down a rabbit hole.

Three years later, writing under the pen name Lewis Carroll, Dodgson published Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, followed in 1871 by its sequel Through the Looking-Glass. Despite having inspired the story, the brunette Alice Liddell was not the basis for the famous drawings by John Tenniel that accompanied Carroll's book -- the visual model for the fictional Alice was blonde Mary Badcock, the daughter of another friend of Dodgson.

In addition to fantastic characters such as the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter, the Alice books are filled with intricate mathematical, political and social allegories and complex puzzles. In 1960 Martin Gardner first published The Annotated Alice, a guide to the books' hidden secrets. As Gardner's version is very, very cool, we had no qualms about ripping off its title for this lowly column.


The set-up: Denver head coach Mike Shanahan's play calling

The quip: "Shanahan's tendencies are harder to read than Angelina Jolie's."

The read: The sultry Tomb Raider screen siren whose candid remarks about sex and death have made her a favorite of celebrity profilers. Following her feature film debut in 1993's Cyborg 2 (which was really just a re-hash of the best parts of Cyborg), Angelina Jolie began to grab attention with her appearance in Gia, a 1997 HBO movie about junkie models in which Jolie was often both naked and bi-sexual.

Despite that promising start, by the time she received the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 2000 for Girl, Interrupted, Jolie, the daughter of Jon Voight, was already hitting the sort of publicity rich "eccentric" heights usually achieved only by seasoned nutcases such as Shirley MacLaine and Marlon Brando. There was her knife collection. And all the tattoos. And the lips. Her past death wishes. And then the thing at the Oscars with her brother, which, to be fair, was probably just sibling affection and not something weird and incestuous.

About the time the media got tired of the incest angle, she up and married her Pushing Tin co-star Billy Bob Thornton. The marriage led to the thing about their wanting to drink each other's blood but settling for wearing it in vials around their necks. And to more tattoos. And a lot of public talk about how much they loved to have sex with each other. Your typical newlywed behavior for carny folk.

Second quarter
The set-up: Denver running back Terrell Davis, who co-commentator Dan Fouts referred to as "the ultimate downhill runner"

The quip: "He's a veritable Franz Klammer."

The read: The Austrian downhill skier whose semi-out-of-control gold-medal-winning run at the 1976 Innsbruck Winter Olympics earned him the reputation as one of the "most flamboyant and exciting Alpine skiers of his generation" (according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica). For those of you trying to keep your '70s skiers straight, he was neither the guy who fell off the edge of the ski jump every Saturday afternoon at the start of "ABC's Wide World of Sports" (that was Yugoslavian jumper Vinko Bogataj), nor the one who was "accidentally" shot by French starlet Claudine Longet (that was Vladimir "Spider" Sabich).


The set-up: A heavy-set Denver fan wearing a giant, orange afro

The quip: "I heard Carrot Top was having some thyroid problems, but you hate to see it."

The read: The crimson-coifed prop comedian born Scott Thompson (not to be confused with the former Kid in the Hall). The son of a Cocoa Beach, Fla., NASA engineer who trained astronauts to drive the lunar buggy, young Thompson (a.k.a. Mr. Top) in the '90s relentlessly toured college campuses until he was given the lead in a feature film, 1998's Chairman of the Board. A comedic tour-de-force that makes Pauly Shore look like Charlie Chaplin, Board proved that things that seem like fun in college -- like beer bongs, a liberal arts degree and prop comics -- may not hold up after graduation.

Carrot Top is currently the successor to David Arquette in AT&T's ongoing "Harassed on the Street by Insane Strangers" collect-calling ad campaign.


The set-up: The Giants' lack of depth

The quip: "The Giants are thinner than Kate Moss at certain positions."

The read: The waifish British supermodel best known for ushering in the "heroin chic" anorexic look of the early '90s and for falling madly, hopelessly in love with Johnny Depp. Despite her lack of nutrition and foolish heart, Moss is one of the wealthiest women in Britain, right up there with the Queen (who is also said to get pretty giggly over "21 Jump Street" reruns).


The set-up: His having rambled on about the love between Giants cornerback Jason Sehorn and his new bride Angie Harmon, as well as between co-commentator Al Michaels and his wife Linda

The quip: "I'm told, don't yack during the last two minutes so I get off on a Rod McKuen poem."

The read: The poet-singer who has written more than 60 books of poetry, over 900 songs and recorded more than 200 albums, McKuen's songs have been sung by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Madonna, and Kurt Cobain mentioned him as a influence. (On the other hand, there's strong evidence that he's also responsible for Jewel.) Having established himself in the '60s as that publishing rarity, a best-selling poet, McKuen's popularity began to fade in the mid-'70s when his poetry was dismissed by most critics and academics as syrupy, sentimental stuff.

However, McKuen did write some ADM childhood favorites: the songs for the 1969 feature film A Boy Named Charlie Brown and "Seasons in the Sun," a huge 1974 hit for Terry Jacks. "Seasons in the Sun" was originally a French song entitled "Le Moribond" ("The Dying Man") written by Jacques Brel and then translated into English by McKuen.

That's right, our favorite tunes included a musical about a perpetual loser failing at the National Spelling Bee and a song about a dying man saying good-bye to his family and friends. Of course, at the time we thought "Seasons in the Sun" was just a nice, catchy tune about enjoying the outdoor weather, but balance that with the fact that we grew up in a funeral home, and you start to draw our formative years into some sort of psychological crosshairs.

Third quarter
The set-up: Denver challenging a Giants touchdown

The quip: "If there isn't ample evidence, visually, to overturn this call on the field, you're going to have a donnybrook here."

The read: The small Irish village, now a suburb of Dublin, that became infamous for the drunken, violent brawls that often broke out during the annual Donnybrook Fair. In 1822, a typical police report from the fair cataloged the "broken heads, black eyes, bloody noses (and) squeezed hats." And trust us, once you've had your hat squeezed, you'll think twice about coming back for more. Finally, in 1867, after 663 years of revelry, the Dublin Metropolitan Police was able to get the fair abolished.

The first public indoor ice hockey game took place eight years later in Montreal. A description of that event mentioned that "Shins and heads were battered, benches smashed and the lady spectators fled in confusion." We can only hope they left with their hats unsqueezed.

Fourth quarter
The set-up: Twin brothers N.Y. Giants running back Tiki Barber and Tampa Bay cornerback Ronde Barber

The quip: "Sometimes Tiki and Ronde do that Patty Duke thing where they shift teams and don't tell the coaches."

The read: The Patty Duke Show, which debuted in 1963 and starred 16-year-old Patty Duke as both Brooklyn-born Patty Lane and her identical cousin, Cathy Lane. Cathy, the more sophisticated of the two, had lived most everywhere, from Zanzibar to Berkeley Square, resulting in a Continental accent that sounded like Madonna impersonating Kathleen Turner. Cathy also adored a minuet, the Ballet Russes, and crêpe suzettes, while Patty, paving the way for the teen rebellion of the '60s, preferred rock-and-roll and hot dogs.

It's clear the show's appeal lay in its subtle examination of the post-war dichotomy between Europe and the United States, with thousands of years of history and culture (personified in Cathy) juxtaposed against the wild abandon and innovation that had propelled America into its new role as a world power (Patty). That and the wacky swapping of places to fool parents and prospective dates.

Locke Peterseim is a senior editor at Britannica.com.

Research assistant: Dave Ihlenfeld


 
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