Of course, I'm going to watch the damn thing, but ... guh ... uh .. arg!

Of course, I'm going to watch the damn thing, but ... guh ... uh .. arg!

Three million dollars.

That's how much a 30-second ad is going for this year during Super Bowl XLIII.

Believe it or not, I'm a lot like you. I spend most of the year laughing off tragedy, shrugging my shoulders at others' misfortunes and coasting through life, tucked comfortably in my white-bread cocoon of privilege the Founding Fathers assured me those many years ago.

This year, though, I feel a disturbance in the Force that I cannot shake.

Unlike most Americans, I'm actually jazzed about the game. As a dedicated Chicago Bears disciple, I can't help but respect the Pittsburgh Steelers' defensive brutality. And as a cross-bearing Chicago Cubs fan, what's not to like about a perpetual underdog such as the Phoenix Cardinals getting a shot at the title after 61 years of futility?

However.

Three million dollars. Thirty seconds.

I'm baffled that our corporate masters think it prudent to drop cake like this on products that an increasing number of Americans are less likely to afford in the coming months.

You'd think a hefty amount of beer makers could cash in on the Super Bowl glut, but according to various news sources this week even booze merchants are finding it tough to sell a depressed populace a cheap buzz in the face of massive layoffs and the spectre of insolvency.

There is speculation that the mood among this year's advertising demons is one of social responsibility and restraint. I'm not buying it.

The late prophet Bill Hicks said ad specialists can cash in on any mood or idea, even one arguing against their evil brain-twisting propaganda.

"You know what Bill's doing now, he's going for the righteous indignation dollar, that's a big dollar, a lot of people are feeling that indignation, we've done research, huge market. He's doing a good thing," Hicks said.

This comes at a touchy time. In the coming weeks our government most likely will pass a nearly $1 trillion spending measure leveraging our futures on a bill that might, or, you know, might not, keep us from spending the rest of our lives in a society that resembles "The Road Warrior" crossed with "Blade Runner."

You have to believe our new president goes to sleep at night hoping against hope that these swanky new Super Bowl ads will inspire a fresh wave of consumer spending. Relieved, he will awake Monday morning to a robust NASDAQ buoyed by 120 million football zombies who finally saw the light after being blitzed by 67 of the most expensive commercials ever produced.

The Boston Herald on Wednesday reported that the ad vultures' tiny Grinch hearts must have suddenly grown three sizes since Lehman Brothers collapsed and their commercials "will emphasize information over entertainment."

Unless the "information" given runs along the lines of, "Don't buy my useless crap. Save your money and work your way out of debt," then I'm not ready to believe the (m)ad men have our best intentions in mind.

Worst — or perhaps best — of all is this year's choice to trot The Boss out for the halftime extravaganza.

This could be the most horrible piece of television since "The Chevy Chase Show" or it will be Bruce Springsteen's brightest moment.

Obviously, the Super Bowl producers have never heard a single Springsteen song. Had they bothered to actually listen to "Born to Run" or "Thunder Road" (or, hell, even "Glory Days," the catchiest song about sliding into middle age oblivion ever penned) they would have rescinded his invitation and made room for the Jonas Brothers.

My hope is Springsteen takes the stage with only a guitar and a bar stool and treats the beer-soaked, unemployed millions to a few bleak cuts off "Nebraska" or "The Ghost of Tom Joad."

Such are my feelings surrounding the Super Bowl this Sunday.

Oh, my prediction: Steelers by nine.

That way they beat the spread and a few brave and desperate souls in Las Vegas find a reason to celebrate.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.