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The cultural conundrum that is the Puppy Bowl

The 2008 Kitty Half-Time Show

From time to time I see something so mind-boggling I wonder if I have accidentally ingested a hallucinogenic. Or someone has slipped something into my drink. It happened last night when I witnessed my first Puppy Bowl (appropriately sponsored by Glade and Bissell), broadcast on Animal Planet during the Super Bowl.

After collectively deciding at halftime not to watch Bruce Springsteen spew his vapid brand of rock music all over America, my friends and I settled on the Puppy Bowl and found something so confounding I almost lost consciousness. We had tuned in during the Kitty Half-Time Show, and it was majestic.

It seemed that someone had fired these animals up on catnip and dropped them in a miniature arena to play with myriad toys and chew on each other’s ears. If you’ve ever wondered how kittens respond to flashing lights and a blizzard of confetti, I can tell you they don’t like it. It was like a sick feline vaudeville full of unwilling actors. And the confusion in their eyes mirrored mine.

The finale was simply a bombing run of confetti that sent the kittens into wild derangement. Some took shelter, others pawed at the paper rain in utter confusion. What a burden to put on a creature that is brand new to this world. It’s like taking a newborn child to a Pink Floyd laser show.

When it ended, presumably because they ran out of confetti to drop, the puppies returned to the stadium to finish their “game.” They were watched over by a referee, who would scold misbehaving dogs by picking them up and giving them a penalty for missteps such as “unnecessary rrruuffness.” Get it? It’s an actual penalty in football as well as the noise a puppy makes. The villain even ejected a white lab from the game.

The announcer at one point exclaimed, “What a spectacle!” And he was absolutely right. I began rooting for certain dogs, particularly Madeline the beagle, and I don’t know why. This was high art, and it was tickling my brain.

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