July 14th, 2005

flavored with age

Among the things you should feel free to skip: my interminable ranting about sports

Okay, first off, I don't like golf. It's boring, it's got an intolerable air of classism, and it constitutes a rather staggering waste of resources. Second of all, I don't really care who wins any tournaments in any sport in which I don't have a specific rooting interest. And third, I know that as social injustices go, this is pretty goddamn meaningless. But I'm still going to complain about it.

If anyone ever tells you -- and they will -- that sexism isn't really a problem anymore, or that there's no longer a need for a women's movement, or that they don't like to call themselves 'feminist' (a favorite claim of the I-got-mine crowd): simply direct their attention to the world of sports.

I like sports. I'm not proud of this by any means, but neither am I ashamed of it: sports are fun to play, they're fun to watch, they get you emotionally involved without having any real consequence, and they give social tension an acceptably harmless outlet. They're no more or less worthwhile an object of interest than anything else. I'm happy for the most part with my relationship with sports. What I don't like is the other people who like sports. Just as the shame of liking comics comes not from the books themselves but the other people who like comics, the shame of being a sports fan comes not from the games, but from the vast majority of racist, sexist, reactionary shit-stains who make up 90% of the sports media and sports fans.

What am I getting at here? Michelle Wie.

See, sports fans are sexist. Hardcore, bred-in-the-bone, deep-tunnel, dirty filthy no-jacket-required sexist. When you want to be reminded of exactly how much a lot of people in America still hate gays, foreigners, minorities and especially women, all you have to do is listen to sports talk radio for five minutes, and you'll be reminded, all right. And more than anything else in the world, they hate hate hate the idea of women competing with men. One presumes that they are filled with a nuclear-annihilation-of-all-life-on-earth level of dread at the possibility of men actually losing to women, but the very idea of women even trying brings them to purple gasping apoplexies. Witness racecar driver Danica Patrick: she suffered massive amounts of scorn from these do-nothing shitheels for qualifying for and entering the Indianapolis 500, and when she managed not only to do quite well but actually lead the race for a good long stretch of time, the reaction from the sports media (who know a good story when they see it) was almost entirely glowing, but the reaction from sports fans was similar to what it would have been if she'd shit on the altar at church. The radio waves burned with scumbags eager to make their opinion known that she may have tried to run with the big boys, but to these losers she's still the biggest loser of all, having failed to win the race and come in a pathetic fourth overall. To hear these scumbags talk, finishing fourth (and thus beating about forty other experienced, professional male race car drivers, several of whom were former champions) was evidence of her complete lack of qualification to compete alongside men rather than evidence of her unprecedented success. To bring the whole thing to a depressing head, the owner of the Indy racing league in which Patrick competes found it necessary to deliver, on three separate public occassions, a patronizing spiel about how she did a good job despite her losing ways, and how she put a tiny little chink in his pet theory that women should keep inside with the rest of the kitchen appliances.

For further proof, listen to any sports yutz laugh his fat white ass off about how women's basketball is a boring, second-rate product because women can't dunk. Dunking, of course, is only a small part of basketball, but it happens to be the one that women, for the most part, can't do, and so male sports fans have seized on it as proof that the ladies should stick to girl sports like field hockey or knitting. Oddly enough, one never hears these guys complain that most white male players can't dunk either, any more than you hear them complain that Wilt Chamberlain wasn't very good at hitting three-point shots. Shaquille O'Neal's inability to shoot free throws -- a much more important part of the game than dunking -- doesn't keep him from being called the greatest player in the game, but womens' inability to stuff the ball constitutes de facto evidence that they should abandon basketball altogether. And in case the point still isn't clear, go to some conservative-columnist clearinghouse like Town Hall or the Jewish World Review and do a search for "Title IX"; you'll get at least two dozen screeds about how womens' sports are a frivolous waste of time that do nothing but divert much-needed money away from men's college football.

Anyway, Michelle Wie, if you don't know (and there's no reason that you should), is a golfer. She's a very good golfer: among other accomplishments, she was the youngest player to qualify for a USGA amateur tournament, the youngest player to reach the semifinals of a USGA amateur tournament, the youngest player to qualify for an LPGA event, the record-holder for the best single round in a women's major championship by an amateur, the youngest player to ever win a USGA event, the youngest player to play in a PGA men's event, and the youngest competitor in the Curtis Cup. All these 'amateur' qualifiers come because she can't play as a professional yet: she's fifteen years old. Wikipedia's entry on her notes that if she had played the 2004 season as a professional, she would have earned over a quarter of a million dollars from her tournament results alone, but as an amateur she was not allowed to earn money for playing.

She has yet to win a major professional tournament, but she routinely places near the top of the leaderboard. Unless something goes terribly wrong, she will get much, much better as she gets older. Right now, she is doing quite well in an amateur tournament, the winner of which is usually invited to compete in the (men's) Masters, usually thought of as the most important American golf tournament. And the wires are again burning up with comments from sports fans. Are they saying that this is a staggering accomplishment for someone so young, male or female? Are they saying that she should be an example to young women everywhere that they can compete against anyone and achieve anything? Is she being held up as a paragon of what has been accomplished by feminism, as a living proof that regardless of gender, a gifted competitor can accomplish whatever they set their minds to?

Nope! The fuck-knuckles of sports fandom are complaining that her performance doesn't REALLY count, because she's playing amateurs. Never mind that she can't play professionals in this tournament; never mind that she's played professionals before and beaten a whole lot of them. Never mind that what we have here is someone who has faced down professional male competition in actual official recognized money tournaments and beaten far more of them than have beaten her, and that someone is a fifteen-year-old girl. Never mind that she has accomplished more before she's able to get her fucking driver's license than a lot of highly paid male pro golfers accomplish in their entire lifetimes. What matters is, she hasn't single-handedly won a tournament against Tiger Woods, so she must not be any good, therefore women shouldn't compete against men. You saw this same thing last year when top female golfer Anika Sorenstam played in a men's tournament and lost; the story wasn't that she qualified, or that she competed well, or that she beat a good number of male professionals; the story was that she lost, and therefore womens' place is playing other women. The only difference is that the competitor being vilified and mocked by these shitbags is an adolescent girl.

My point? I ain't got one. Just another example of sexism, stereotyping and stupidity for me to hate. Just, if anyone tries to tell you that sexism isn't a big problem any more, tell them about Michelle Wie.
flavored with age

Sam Peckinpah's "Salad Days"

An open letter to places who sell salads:

I am a fat man, and as a result, I eat a lot of salads. (I also happen to quite like salads.) The salad I can make myself for cheap at home is about a hundred times better than anything you could ever sell me, but sometimes it is neither possible nor desirable to have my own salad with me when I’m out. So I will, on occasion, buy a salad from people like you.

Now, admittedly, I am a bit of a food snob. But even given that, I do not believe it unreasonable to ask you to observe the following rules.

1. Shredded lettuce has virtually no place in cuisine. It belongs only on fast-food tacos, in chain-store sub sandwiches, and in rabbit cages. It certainly does not belong anywhere on a salad. Cabbage may be shredded for coleslaw, but lettuce in a salad should be torn, in leaves. Please do not sell me something with shredded lettuce and call it a salad.

2. While meat salads are perfectly acceptable and have a rich tradition, here is another rule: if what you are selling contains more meat, cheese, dairy and egg items than it does vegetables, it should not be sold as a green salad, dinner salad, chef salad or garden salad. If you try and sell me a container with lettuce and tomatoes covered with ham, chicken, three kinds of cheese, egg, and creamy dressing, what you have there is not a salad: it is a sandwich with no bun.

3. The very essence of salad is that it is served cold. If it is heated, it is not a salad. Hot salad is a contradiction. Meat toppings on a salad are acceptable, but they, too, should be served cold; if you serve hot meat, again, what you have is not a salad, it’s a meat entrée on a bed of vegetables.

4. Again, as a general rule, salads presented as “green” or “garden” or “vegetable” should have more than two vegetable ingredients. But an even more important consideration is freshness. Consider this: if I can take any single ingredient in your salad – lettuce, tomato, carrot, radish, onion, whatever – and hold it by the edge between my fingers, it should be crisp and fresh enough to stay at least semi-upright, rather than wilt and flop against my wrist. Otherwise, what you have is not a salad, but a vegetable side dish. This should not be exceptionally difficult to achieve, living as we do in an age of refrigeration.

5. “Caesar salad” means something very precise and particular. I realize that I’m fighting a losing battle on this one, but I shall continue fighting it until I die. Here are things a Caesar salad should contain:

- Romaine lettuce
- Oil-based dressing
- Raw egg
- Anchovies
- Cracked pepper

Here are things a Caesar salad should not contain:

- Iceberg lettuce
- Cream-based dressing
- Cooked egg
- Chicken
- Salsa

Now, cognizant as I am of the unshakable culinary dullness of the American public as a whole, I am willing to concede that outside of good restaurants, I am unlikely to find anchovies or raw egg in my salad. I am willing to tolerate the appearance of Parmesan cheese and the disappearance of fresh cracked pepper. But by God, I will not abide chicken. And most importantly, it must, at the very least, irreducible quality necessary to legitimately belong to the Caesar salad family, have Romaine lettuce and an oily dressing. Serving iceberg lettuce with a creamy dressing and calling it a Caesar salad is an insult to the Cardini family name. It’s like serving something with no tomato, cheese or wheat and calling it a pizza: it may be perfectly fine, and some people may even greatly enjoy it, but don’t call it a pizza, because it does not contain the most basic ingredients a pizza must contain.

Yours in Christ,