the strange journey of the worst (but just possibly, eventually, the best) Super Bowl viewing ever

The Giant Octopus and Roger Goodell’s Manservant that is the NFL likes to claim the Super Bowl is the biggest game all year.  This is true if you ignore the World Cup final every four years.  It also ignores various one off potential annual events such as a royal wedding, the alien invasion ultimatum beamed from the surface of the Moon, non-existent presidential impeachment proceedings, a cat barking like a dog online, or competitive cheese grating competitions.

So you’d figure the only place the NFL wouldn’t want you to watch the game is on said surface of the Moon.  Otherwise catching your eyeballs is meant to be easy, so that you watch, and they make more money, right?  Nope.  I remain constantly astounded at how traditional media makes it as difficult as possible to watch their product.  If you want to understand why Netflix is eating the souls of traditional television, I give you this tale.

I am abroad for over one year.  I want to watch the Super Bowl.  After extensive research I determine only one local cable television provider is allowed to broadcast the game in this country.  To demonstrate the absurdity of this, I offer you the comparison that say Verizon would be deemed the only cable company in the US allowed to show the game.

I do not possess said cable company.  So my options are to troll a local bar at 4am, which is too much, even for me, or to watch the game online.  Thankfully, NBC Sports is offering and widely promoting that this Super Bowl is special and is going to be streamed online.  Great, done.  I test the NBC link, it works, I go to bed early.

I awake early morning and am ready to watch.  The link doesn’t work, NBC Sports shows a blank screen.  After much frantic research I get to the fine print of the NBC Sports help page where the answer to: “Why doesn’t your fucking player work like you said it would?”  Is answered by: “Oh, by the way, though we don’t say so clearly up front, if you’re not in the US, the player won’t work, thanks, and go fuck yourself.  Signed, NBC.”

So I guess my recourse is to what?  Go get wasted in a local bar and get into a cage fight with an intoxicated Eagles fan who’s throwing batteries at the likewise intoxicated Pats fan down the bar?  Or, that I should purchase this other one singular cable company just to watch this one game?

Does anybody actually do that, switch cable providers just to watch one game?  Is that what they’re angling for?  Because if not, I don’t quite see the benefit to NBC, or the NFL, or to any Giant Octopus organization gained by denying my eyeballs the opportunity to easily watch the game and thus their advertisements.  If this happened to me, it likely happened to millions of others when you consider the NFL wants north of 100 million worldwide to watch this game.  That’s not a minor rounding error in eyeballs.

I thought, for a brief moment, to just go back to bed.  I did not, because I’m a sucker, and because I really, really wanted to catch this game.  It was important.  For you see, even though folks were calling for a Pats blowout, I anticipated a good game.  Also, while I’m abroad, some kind folks are watching my precious, precious doggies.  They live in Jersey.  They are Eagles fans.

I can’t stand the Eagles.  I love my team.  So do my dogs, they told me so before I left.  But my team is out of it.  So when my doggy host family says to me, gee, are you okay if we put Eagles bandanas on your dogs like we do with our dogs?  I essentially have no choice.  I have to go along with it.  They’re awesome people, so sure, go ahead.

And so my precious, precious doggies have Eagles bandanas (oh god, please help me) on during the Eagles’ underdog win over the Falcons.   And so my precious, precious doggies have Eagles bandanas (oh god, please help me) on during the Eagles’ underdog win over the Vikings.  And after going 2-0 with a backup quarterback?  Well, by that point they’ve got it in their heads that my dogs are the key.

As long as the bandanas are on my dogs, my precious, precious doggies (oh god, please help me) the Eagles’ have an underdog win over the Pats.  So I have to catch the game.  Because I think it’ll be good, and because I’m texting the host family and me Ma during the game.  It’s expected, I have to be a part of the experience because my precious, precious doggies are apparently more important than Jason Peters’ ACL.

So what do I do?  I get the game via radio.  I hang out in my flat for three darkened early morning hours and listen to the game via internet radio like it’s 1937.  During this time, I’m texting me Ma and the host family via WhatsApp.  I get bombarded by incessant pictures of my precious, precious doggies wearing Eagles bandanas.  My oldest is smiling widely in most of these pictures, my youngest is apathetic and asleep.  It’s all good, I miss them.

And I follow along via the radio while they have the live broadcast back home.  They see it, I hear it, and we’re texting within seconds of one another with our wows and surprise at what ends up being one of the great Super Bowls of all time.

I get Kevin Harlan to call the game, and he’s quite good.  Then I get Boomer Esiason as the color and he’s constantly reminding the audience why HE would have called the play differently, thus reminding said audience why Boomer is relegated to a radio vice television existence.  They also have Mike Holmgren to do analysis, which was news to me as I thought Holmgren was either (a) dead or (b) in the toll booth business.

It was my worst Super Bowl ever, loser that I am.  I’m in some dank, lifeless, stale flat alone with cheap beer in the early hours of the morning listening to a game on the radio and texting home and my precious, precious doggies have Eagles bandanas on.  It was one of those: “You’ve wasted your fucking life” moments.

Except that it wasn’t.  Halfway across the world I could connect with family, my host family, and my dogs.  I followed the game with the same level of emotion as if I’d seen it on a screen.  When poor, poor Tommy got strip sacked I screamed out loud with giddy joy.  I was there, and in it.  I’m not an Eagles fan, I hate them, but man did I ever want to see the Pats go down.

And I wonder, years down the road, if the bizarre nature of my viewing experience, and all those wonderful texts, and what a great game it was, will in the end be the greatest Super Bowl I’ll ever live through.

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Oh man, was this ever sweet.  Must have been the bandanas.

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don’t let rich men own your brain

We’re back!  After an unrelated 16 month absence.  Did you miss us?  No?  Oh, well, uh, so that’s too bad, we, we thought folks missed us.  [cricket, cricket, cricket]

And we’re back to talk about what important topic to humanity?  War?  Politics?  Dwarves?  Deep seated cultural problems?  Elves?  Fine culinary tactics?  Nope.  Instead we’re on to the most important topic of the day:  Why I now consistently hear people use the phrase, “Dilly, Dilly”.

I heard people use it on the airplane flying out here.  I’ve heard people use it in the street.  It keeps happening.  Why?  Because rich men own people’s brains.  I guess.

This phrase first appeared during the Bud Light ads folks have seen during football games.  It’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen.  Robbing from the ever-present Game of Thrones theme they basically just have a medieval court / king who worships Bud Light.  And they slam back Bud Light and say “Dilly, Dilly” to each other as affirmation for their divine right to consume booze.

What they don’t show you is Bud Light “Dilly, Dilly” (After Dark) which is where the king is 13 Bud Lights into his evening and he screams at the queen, overturns many chairs, gets grabby with both male and female servants, and sentences numerous people to death by hippopotamus mauling.  The commercial ends with The Usurper stabbing the king to death with a broken Bud Light bottle.  Fade to black.

I suppose people think that “Dilly, Dilly” must have some cultural connotation or history outside the Bud Light ad?  This would thus make it okay to say this phrase in full open view of the public.  It does not.  They literally made it up.  It has no history or meaning outside a Bud Light ad that a bunch of very, very rich people made.

So why do people say it then?  I have no idea.  There’s got to be some facet or working function of the human brain I just can’t comprehend.  Maybe I’m just a jaded contrarian who can’t see fun anywhere?  Perhaps.  But you’d have to slash me up with a broken Bud Light bottle for an extended length of time before I’m saying “Dilly, Dilly” in the course of my daily conversations with a fellow human being.

Don’t let rich men own your brain.

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we use our first ride hailing experience to ponder the future downfall of the human brain

I took my first car app ride a few weeks ago. Most of you will probably wonder what took so long. You must understand, part of me wishes for the return of the stone age. I could probably do without the tetanus, lack of running water, or everpresent ancient angry demon gods, but otherwise a lot of that simplicity appeals to me. If it wasn’t for my dogs, I’d spend most of my evenings at home lit only by candles. Because night should be night and day, well, day.

So when on travel, and for whatever reason I don’t have a rental car, I’ll typically either walk or just call for a traditional cab. If I have a rental and can’t or don’t want to drive because alcohol is the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems, then regular cabs or walking work then too.

But a few weeks ago I just figured I’d try ride hailing apps. I’m moving overseas for work in a few weeks and the country has ride hailing there. Which I figured would be vastly superior to some of my prior international cab experiences I’ve had where I threaten to debark the cab while in motion because the crook in the front seat refuses to run the meter.

Work is sending me out the door so my colleagues (who I actually like) want to do a farewell party downtown. I’m in a hotel in the suburbs that’s an hour away by train. The hotel is three miles from the train station. Usually if the weather is decent and the walk is safe, I’m walking those three miles. In this case, the weather was rainy, chilly and it was most certainly not a safe walk.

Ironically I could’ve just driven to the train station. We all had to work very early next morning and so we hardly drank at all. My need for a ride from the hotel to train station and back later in the evening turned out to be entirely unnecessary. But I can’t see through time, so I used the app. I won’t tell you which app I used because that’s not really the point of the post.

The driver ends up at the hotel in less than 15 minutes. I found this timely and easy to arrange, so far so good. I’ve been driving around this area a long time so I know my way around. The driver clearly has no idea where he is. I offer to guide him but he refuses and says he’ll follow ‘her’ directions. The app takes us the wrong way, and then down an industrial access road that adds about five minutes to what is otherwise a short three mile drive.

But then the app starts to tell him to go the wrong way. At the intersection the train station is right. The app tells him to go left. He has no idea where he’s going and so is in the left lane to obey the app. I tell him the app is wrong and he should turn right. He refuses. I have to tell him three times that the app is wrong. He keeps saying he has to obey ‘her’, like he’s the app’s mind slave or whatever.

Eventually I talk him to the train station. The entire time the app is telling him to turn around blaring in the car. I get out and the driver mentions to me that he’s going to have to drive back to where the app tells him to. I ask him if the app can’t just be told he dropped me off where I wanted to be, that the app is wrong? He says no and drives off.

While I’m waiting for my train out of curiosity I observe his movements on the app. He does indeed drive the wrong way for ten more minutes arriving at the ‘destination’ of the train station. Even though I’m sure what the app thought was the train station was just a parking lot. Only after he arrived at this mythical area did my ride close out and I was prompted to tip him. Total cost $10 with tip.

Following the evening’s abbreviated festivities I’m back at the same station off the train. Now I need a ride back to the hotel. I use the app to hail a ride and it refuses to work. It keeps telling me that where I am, where the train station is, is at the mythical parking lot to the north. I can’t find a way to fix this.

This goes on for ten minutes until I finally just decide to acquire the ride and then call the driver once he’s chosen, or whatever. Again, this is my first ride app experience, what the hell do I know? The driver agrees and I see his car is a mile down the road. Awesome. I call him and let him know the app says I’m way up north, but I’m actually at the train station. Please come to the train station and get me here.

The driver says he doesn’t know where the train station is. I’m at the only train station within five miles. He’s one mile away, on the same road as the station, he doesn’t know. I offer to talk him to me, but he refuses, gets frustrated and starts to run his mouth against me. I immediately hang up.

I then call a regular traditional cab company. I tell them where I am on the phone to the dispatcher. A cab arrives in about 90 seconds. When I get into the cab, I tell the driver my hotel name and the street it’s on. He agrees and we’re off. That’s it. He needed no additional information, he needed no directions, he knew exactly where to go.

I ended up talking with him for the whole ride back. He was a bit of an older guy, been driving cabs for a long time and knew the whole area. We talked about my brief ride hailing experience, which amused him, as if a master wood craftsman saw a child trying to build a chair with a hand grenade. He also told me where all the cop speed traps were. He then made various belligerent comments about fellow members of the human race, which we won’t get into, but had me laughing my ass off in the car. He was a well thought out guy. He drops me off at the hotel. Total cost $15 with tip.

I have seen the future. It goes like this.

As soon as five or ten years from now all my frustrating moments with ride hailing won’t exist. Using voice recognition, I’ll tell my phone simply, “Need a ride back to the hotel.” Within five minutes a car will arrive and take me there. That’s it. No problems with directions, or location finding, or drivers who are angry or incompetent. In fact, within a few decades I think the car that shows up will be driven by a computer. But, because tech freaks are the new robber barons of the Giant Octopus, the ride will cost $20. And something will have been lost to the human race.

Ponder if you will, that on one hand I had two app drivers, who were so utterly unaware of their surroundings that they were entirely reliant upon the app to tell them how to get from point A to B. Otherwise they couldn’t do the most basic aspect of their job. It’s like a nurse who can’t treat a patient without a computer telling them the commands step by step.

But hold on a minute, why can’t nurses be told exactly what to do on command by a computer in say 20 years? Why not? And why when I’m driving do I need to know where I’m going anymore? Why can’t I just always follow the map app’s directions? Why do I have to think or do things that can be done by an app for me?

Let’s leave aside the horrific privacy, security, financial, and ethical arguments of this brave new world for the moment. What I’m most interested in is what this does to the human brain. On one hand you have two dudes who can’t do their jobs, at all, without machine assistance. On the other hand I had a cabbie who could recall in his brain the entire map of a city on command. Without machine assistance. Without error.

We’re turning more and more of our most basic and timeless brain functions over to machines. What happens to the human race, to the human brain if say 50 years from now most people can’t get from point A to B without machines. What if 100 years from now there are no people, cabbies or otherwise, who can recall in their brain the entire map of a city on command?

Tech freaks will convince you their future world is going to be a swell place for us. Where technology can and will make all our lives easier.

At what cost? Technology is just a tool. The human brain, human thought, human knowledge are supposed to be timeless and eternal. I’m not sure what happens next.

jury duty – CNN, inspiration, and the grand escape

No sane person wants jury duty.  But unless you recently ran into a car, know a judge to bribe, or are willing to give the state another reason to claw you, you’re going.  And so I did.

I got in there bright and early with several hundred of my fellow citizens.  My first impression walking in the door?  They’ve got seven televisions in the room.  All of them have CNN on, fucking CNN.  One of the most solemn and important duties in somebody’s civic life and they’ve got garbage television on the walls.  Man, just put some camels and giraffes on there so people’s blood and mental lunacy isn’t fired up by stupid CNN before they go play with somebody’s life in court.

The jury duty leader gives the introductory speech about how she knows nobody wants to be there, but how important it is to freedom, democracy, and justice that we be there.  She inserts humor and the crowd is eating out of her hand the entire time.

She’s graded on a curve because she gives the same speech every day, but still, it says something about the state of our political leadership that the most inspirational and motivating political speech I’ve heard in years was given by a jury duty director at a random county courthouse.

They call out the names by the dozen assigning to each case.  It’s great to hear the breadth of unique America, name by name.  We’re doing just fine people [gives finger to haters on each political side using both hands].

I get picked with 49 others to sit the panel for a criminal trial.  This didn’t sound fun.  I’d have probably gotten struck anyways because of my day job and second job categories (moving that sweet, sweet Columbian pure across the International Date Line) [sips coffee], but still, even if you know you’ll get struck you wonder.

Lawyers and judges are crazy people.  Who only knows what they’ll do with you once they’ve got you.  But apparently, most criminal trials they said are quick and easy.  It’s the medical malpractice trial you don’t want to get.  Four to six weeks.  Six weeks?  Man, modern medicine is a shithouse apparently.

The 50 of us sit, waiting to be called back to the courtroom.  But after sitting in there for five hours they finally start to dismiss everybody.  I mean everybody who showed up that day.  My case got continued, another one they cut a deal, etc, etc.  They sent everybody home.  Nobody got selected that day.  Everybody was off the hook for three years of jury duty.

Sitting at the bus stop on the way out was like emerging from a hospital delivery room where people got to hold the baby.  Everybody was gleeful and talking.  Such a release for everybody.  Courthouses suck.  They’re necessary for modern society, but almost everything that happens in there destroys somebody’s life.  So nobody wants to be in there, certainly not to sit a jury for days or weeks.

Would we have done it?  Yes, all of us.  And I hope we would have served with honor and wisdom.  But for yesterday, all of us were making our grand escape.  Even the cold rain couldn’t dampen anybody’s spirit.

they get away with it

Being rich and powerful must be sweet.  You can basically do whatever you want.  You can buy expensive cars or booze or giraffes.  Or I guess sexually harass whoever you want.  Now you might have been shocked by the idea that Harvey Weinstein could do so many horrible things to so many women for decades without getting exposed, but when you really think about it this is pretty straightforward.

Why didn’t at least one of his many victims (especially in this twisted age of social media) say even one or two things to someone that made this stick before last week.  Some of the most well known and powerful celebrity women and feminist advocates on the planet have now fingered this guy.  Why didn’t one of them tweet like three years ago, “Harvey Weinstein is a deviant sexual predator, he tried to rape me. #rape #yesallwomen”

Why?  Because Weinstein was powerful.  It’s as simple as that.  Weinstein was one of the top five guys in Hollywood.  He ended people’s careers in seconds.  It’s the way of things.  One of the themes I’ve noticed these last few days as women finally spoke out is their internal dialogue about what was going through their brains when Weinstein did his evil acts.

All these women in their own way mention some kind of cost / benefit analysis.  They’re in fear and protection mode as they try and escape the clutches of this shit creep.  But at the same time their brain is in fear mode about what Weinstein will do to them if they don’t give in.  This type of analysis is older than humanity itself.  It’s been playing out with evil rich and powerful men since before fire was invented.

We’d like to think in our super modern and connected culture that people can no longer get away with this.  But they still do, because it’s still human nature.  All the tweets in the world can’t change the human brain.

Regardless of what you think of Bill Clinton or Ted Kennedy I think you can make a reasonable claim that if either of those guys worked at the Sizzler for minimum wage, that both of them would have done severe jail time and been disgraced.  Instead, they are both essentially American heroes.

I’m shocked that Dennis Hastert ever got caught for the horrible things he did to boys.  But if you’ll remember, Hastert wasn’t initially caught for sexual crimes.  They wrapped up Hastert for violating the government limit of how many $10K bank account withdrawals you can make without reporting it to the tax man.  Only later did the authorities realize what the money was for.  Otherwise Hastert would have gotten away with it.

I’m not sure what all this means, other than that as always humanity is on a perpetual quest to self improvement.  It also means you have to take a rather cynical view of what people say.  Especially if the person talking is rich and powerful.

Weinstein’s been a big time bankroller for women’s rights and so forth for decades.  And that whole time … , well, that’s also why they get away with it.  It’s the smokescreen to cover up who they really are.

Notice how Weinstein is already making the usual public relations statements about screwing up, learning, personal growth, etc.  He doesn’t seem to realize he’s truly done.  He still things he’s in control.  That’s how twisted his brain is.  He still thinks he can get away with it.  That’s the biggest thing to learn about this above all.

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Rich and powerful bad dude, rarely caught.

we don’t delve into the mind of a madman while we help you plan your child’s upcoming birthday party

If you pulled six screaming children and two single supermodels from a burning car tonight while your own clothes were on fire, you’d still be less famous than the twisted scum that murdered more than 60 people yesterday.  This is what he wanted.  He wanted fame.  And yet folks are all about it.  He’s got that fame.  He wins.

Folks are all into getting inside the brain of this piece of filth.  What was his motive?  His reasons?  But if you remember back in 2015 when the psychotic German pilot also committed an act of mass murder via his airplane?  I wrote this.  I stand by every word I said.

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What was his motive?  Who cares.  He was evil.  That’s all that matters.  Fuck him.

But hey, just relax folks.  It’s all good.  You should just relax, because you have no choice.  No matter how you feel about guns or gun control or politics?  Your opinions, desires, etc, are all irrelevant.  You can either hide under a pile of coats or just live your life and hope you don’t get struck by lightening.

No politician or leader anywhere from either dysfunctional political party has any idea how to stop any of this from happening again.

If you are anti-gun:  Well, there are hundreds-of-millions of firearms on America’s streets today.  Even if you ban every gun purchase from tomorrow morning it won’t change anything.  Even the most fervent anti-gun types aren’t preaching confiscation as that’s too extreme.

If you are pro-gun: Well, I guess we are at the point where you need your own personal main battle tank.  For even if you were in Vegas carrying your own slung assault rifle at the concert, you were still out-gunned and out-positioned before the first shot was fired.

It might take half-a-century for America to come to grips with all this gun stuff, one way or the other.  In the meantime, you’re just a potential victim on your stroll through the park on a sunny day.

But hey, we at TAP are here to help.  So we created this handy diagram to help you intellectually plan how your kid’s birthday party should play out.  Please bear with us as we explain in detail how this is going to work:

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1) Family Picnic Area: Where you, your kids, friends, their kids, and other happy people eat a tasty home cooked potluck meal.

2) Emergency Dugout: When the shooting starts, this pre-dug four foot trench will serve as the bailout point for all individuals.  You’ll need to run drills at the start of the party with all participants.  It’s best to get in the face of the kids during these drills to ensure they know you mean business and you can properly simulate the stress and terror they’ll endure once the first person is struck by gunfire.

3) Bathrooms: You’ll need more than one bathroom, because all those kiddies will need lots of relief time after drinking that tasty sugary party punch.

4) Sandbag Bunker Sentries: You need to make friends with some folks who are heavily armed in their own right.  Become friends with cops, current or former military members, or former unemployed African mercenaries.  If you can’t become friends, you can hire a moonlight off duty police officer.  They set up shop in overwatch behind the sandbags and are thus in a position to immediately return sustained and disciplined fire against any threat.

5) Face Painting Booth: The little ones sure do love the colors and designs that expert painters apply to their faces.  I’m told boys want to be Groot and the girls a happy butterfly.

6) Counter Sniper Position: As we’ve seen demonstrated in Vegas and the south of France, the nutcases and terrorists are becoming ever more sophisticated in their attack methods.  Not even solid Bunker Sentry positions are enough to protect you.  You’ll also need to hire a trained sniper wielding a large frame rifle capable of disabling shooters at extreme distances, or disabling vehicles up to the size of a small delivery van or truck that’s being used to run over people en masse.

7) Baby Animal Petting Zoo: Nothing says fun like petting a baby lemur that’s half asleep.  Oh man, look at how closed the baby lemur’s eyes are.  He’s barely half awake even when you pet him.  Cute little dude.

8) Prepositioned Mass Casualty Aid Station: Let’s face it, even the best of well laid wartime plans go wrong.  You could have your fighting positions manned by Rambo and John McClain, but casualties are still going to occur.  So you’ll need an aid station on site that can treat the wounded while the police take 27 minutes to clear the shooter(s) and the medevac helicopter(s) can arrive.  It’s best to man this point with an experienced mass trauma surgeon.  Again, make friends with one if you can to keep your costs down.  Otherwise hire one off duty on a moonlight gig.

9) Clown Show: [insert joke here]

Enjoy the party!

Wrigley Field – temple of the baseball gods

Most of the time work can force you to do unpleasant things.  Sometimes work can force you to do awesome things.  And so I found myself directed to Wrigley Field for some work team building thing while on travel to my remote location.

I’ve only ever been to one ballpark and that’s my home team.  Wrigley was number two.  I had no skin in the game but my remote colleagues from Chicago were mostly Cubs fan.

The Reds beat the Cubs though which bummed them immensely.  Though the Cubs won the division again this year, so we’ll see if they can mount a repeat.  I don’t think so, but we shall see.

Wrigley is an interesting place.  It’s kind of a dump, but I love that about it.  It’s a wonderful place that it’s still in the old neighborhood and isn’t a super faceless corporate behemoth of a stadium.  I hope they never replace it.

But, the Toyota logo is on the classic Wrigley sign.  And there’s construction across the street from the stadium that will likely house luxury apartments and such.  So not even Wrigley can escape the Giant Octopus.

Still, it was a good time, and there’s so much history in the stadium you can feel it.  Oh man, think of the near one hundred years of games in that stadium.  Entire generations of fans.  All without a pennant.  Now they have one again.  Will they have two, we shall see.

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Update:

I realized after writing this, the folly of one of my above rants against the Giant Octopus.  For you see, Wrigley’s name in itself is the tool of said Giant Octopus.  Wrigley bought the name rights to the stadium long before this was even a common sports thing.  The field itself was wrapped up in corporate sponsorship almost from the beginning.

However, we, and I mean I too, don’t tend to think of it this way.  Wrigley is just called Wrigley and we don’t tend to think of the connection to the chewing gum.  It’s weird like that.  If you walked up to me and said “Wrigley” I’d automatically assume you meant the ball field and not the gum.