- The Washington Times - Friday, January 26, 2001

You don't have to watch Super Bowl XXXV, you know. I've checked with Vice President Cheney, and it's not mandatory. Besides, President Bush is a baseball guy.

Somehow the idea has taken hold that ignoring the Super Bowl is, well, un-American sort of like rooting for the Chinese in the Women's World Cup final a couple of years ago. But let's face it: This is a great and diverse nation. Somewhere out there, 4 or 5 percent of you don't care whether the Ravens or Giants win. Another 10 percent of you probably are saying, "The who? …"

As a public service, we'd like to offer some alternate suggestions. Do your own thing Sunday afternoon and evening. Remember, nobody is going to take down your name if you forget about the game most of them have been eminently forgettable anyway. And if you pass up the always unspeakable pregame show, too, that's seven hours of your life that you've just reclaimed.

What to do with all that time? The imponderables of winter weather can render outdoor plans iffy, so you might not be able to clean those autumn leaves out of the gutter, paint the shutters or mend the screens. But there are so many other things. For example, Washington is the museum capital of the world, so get going.

• The Textile Museum is featuring "Tribal Traditions: Village and Nomadic Weaving of Anatolia," which is sure to be fascinating. But get there early. This is the final day, so the crowds will be enormous.

• At the Freer Gallery, we find "Chinese Arts of the Brush, 17th and 18th century." I can vouch that this is terrific, because I have the CD.

• Air and Space, always guaranteed to provide a thrill, is showing "Commuting in the Amphibian Manner." If that doesn't do it for you, how about "Where Next, Columbus?" dealing with human settlement of other planets? Surely this is a subject that concerns us all.

• Our extra-special suggestion is "The Art of Upholstery" at the DAR Museum. If it weren't for this delicate craft, after all, we'd all be sitting on vinyl.

• Perhaps you'd rather settle back at the neighborhood multiplex with a $6 tub of buttered popcorn and a $3.50 soda. There are dandy choices here, too. How about "Thirteen Days"? That's a documentary about how long the average Super Bowl seems with all those commercials and promos? Or you might opt for Mel Gibson telling you "What Women Want" in many cases, I imagine, anything but football. Or "Cast Away," which stars Tom Hanks as a guy who goes to a desert island to escape the pregame show.

• The simplest way to zap football is with your remote control. If you have cable or a satellite dish, you have 100 or 200 other choices. (This does not include the Playboy Channel, which is definitely off limits on Super Sunday.) So let's hit that clicker with a vengeance, folks.

• For some years now, Turner Classic Movies has programmed the indefatigable "Gone With the Wind" against the Super Bowl. With any luck, just about the time CBS is showing its obligatory shot of the depressed losers, Scarlett O'Hara will be murmuring, "After all, tomorrow is another day."

• If you can get Court TV, a show called "Innocent Victims" will be on. Trouble is, some might misconstrue that as a slap at Ray Lewis, and I wouldn't want Brian Billick to blast the media again.

• The Discovery Channel has programmed "Walking With Dinosaurs," which sounds like a NFL Films documentary linking Baltimore and New York with their great teams of the '50s. Maybe Frank Gifford and Artie Donovan turn up in cameos.

• If you simply have to watch some sort of athletic competition that doesn't involve a ball, try "Championship Bull Riding" on TNN. In the best and most appropriate of TV worlds, Howard Cosell would narrate this one. Or maybe "Best of Soccer From Argentina" on Fox Sports World would catch your eye. After all, soccer has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, so we can expect only the most gentlemanly competition.

Finally, there is the best TV choice of all one that starts on the Starz Channel about the time the Super Bowl ends and captures perfectly the deeper meaning of the day: "Much Ado About Nothing." Thanks again, Willie Shakespeare.

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