Feb 212014

I’m not going to say much about Richard Petty’s latest comments on Danica Patrick. I respect Petty’s life and career, and I wish he’d remain above this sort of fray.

If Danica Patrick were without racing skill, I would not be a fan. (Granted I enjoyed watching her much more in IndyCar. I like speed.) She drives well enough to keep a seat. She gets disproportionate attention because of her beauty.

And I think that’s the part that bugs Richard Petty the most. (He’s not ever been much of an aw-shucks, fade-into-the-crowd guy.)

Danica Patrick had three poles, seven podiums, and a victory in IndyCar. She had a pole and seven top-ten finishes in Nationwide. She has a pole and an eighth-place finish in the Daytona 500. To claim she can’t drive is absurd.

Can it please be all right for a woman to be attractive without insisting that her aptitude be viewed through the lens of that attractiveness? (I’m pretty sure that’s all right for a man.)

 Posted by at 9:04 am
Feb 202014
  • I’m trying to have as much hair as possible to work with on Crazy Hair Day for the last Upward game. As I type it’s a good week or ten days past when I would have buzzed it, and it’s driving me nuts. I’m having to comb it. That’s how I know it’s too long. For Crazy Hair Day itself, I’m between either a) a mohawk and a goatee; or b) Kojak bald with mutton chops. Either way, my hair would be sprayed red. What do you think?
  • The Daytona 500 is this weekend. It’s not IndyCar, but it’s something. That’s a tough old time after football ends but before racing begins!
  • Speaking of IndyCar, I just read that Simona de Silvestro has left the series for an F1 testing role. That practically guarantees we’ll have mostly all-male fields this season. That’s too bad.
  • Reading an article about The Silence of the Lambs earlier this week, I learned that audio exists of serial killers Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris torturing and raping a teenage girl. (It was employed in a sort of a “this is what we’re trying to capture” way.) I have enough trouble not being haunted by details that I just read when it comes to various serial killers’ methods and practices. I can’t imagine actually hearing it. Is there any good reason, outside a police station or a courtroom, for a healthy, well-adjusted person to listen to that? I don’t think creating a mood for making a movie qualifies.
  • I miss playing chess. I’m thinking about figuring out where I can fit it into my life again.
  • Think I could make it going lacto-ovo vegetarian for Lent? Last year I successfully gave up red meat. What about going all the way?
  • I’m eBaying my left-handed black Mizuno baseball glove. I’d guess it’s caught two dozen balls. If you want to give me, say, $70 for it locally, I’ll do that instead. Let me know before the end of the weekend.
 Posted by at 12:01 am
Feb 182014

So now that Jimmy Fallon has lost his Tonight Show cherry, can we safely presume that Jay Leno is watching for that first little dip in the ratings?

Jay Leno was a great comic back in the day. He has a cool car collection. He’s been married to his wife since 1980. These are three positive things I associate with him.

Leno also had an opportunity to be a gentleman when NBC screwed Conan O’Brien, and he chose to be a thug instead. Sadly, I believe that’s more defining than anything else. A genuinely nice person remains so when it’s inconvenient. Leno failed his biggest, most visible test in that regard.

I’m not sure how much more life the legacy late night television model has left, but good luck, Mr. Fallon.

And definitely watch your back.

 Posted by at 10:13 am
Feb 172014

Photo: Mark Schierbecker

I’m really tired of our societal obsession with sexuality.

Now that’s not the sort of comment I’ve heard here and there all my life, that goes something like “I don’t care what they do to each other as long as I don’t have to look at it.” (You need to artificially deepen your voice and soften your hard consonants a bit when you say that, something like Karl in Sling Blade.)

No, I mean I’m tired of assigning sexuality excessive importance when we talk about who someone is. Do you think Michael Sam is interested in being a gay professional football player? Or do you think Michael Sam is just interested in being a professional football player?

I’m certainly not minimizing what Sam did. It wasn’t easy. It almost certainly cost him a significant amount of money, in terms of his draft stock. It’s opened him to sustained hate and ridicule for years to come.

But unless I’m badly misunderstanding him, he didn’t do it because he wants to talk about his sexuality for the rest of his life. He did it because he doesn’t want to talk about his sexuality for the rest of his life. He’s unloading this. He’s saying “OK, now can we talk about football?”

This is something he’s shedding—not only for himself, but others in similar situations. My greatest hope for it is that one day, we’ll look back at Sam’s announcement as the moment it started becoming less of a big deal. Indeed, I hope I’m right about Sam, and he becomes gradually more dismissive of anyone bringing it up to him. We talked about that already. Let’s talk about ball now.

“Then why did he bring it up at all, if he doesn’t want to talk about it?” somebody just semi-growled. To me that’s a hair’s width from the sort of comment I mentioned in the second paragraph above. He’s doing it to starve it of oxygen. He’s doing it so going on a dinner date won’t be a national “scandal.”

He’s doing it because he doesn’t want to pretend as a way of life. God bless him for that.

Longtime readers may remember that my favorite director is Stanley Kubrick. His final film, Eyes Wide Shut, generated a lot of buzz ahead of release not just because it was his first feature in 12 years, but also because of how sex-soaked it was supposed to be. Indeed, sex is a pervasive subject in the film, yet it’s hardly lurid or even particularly titillating. It just is. And that’s part of the point.

But I’ll leave the detailed analysis for another time. I brought it up to mention a favorite detail of mine in the film. During the sparse opening credits, right before the title, Nicole Kidman wordlessly drops her dress to the floor and shows us her full, spectacular backside.

I’ve always interpreted that as Kubrick saying “OK, tongue-waggers, there’s your skin. See? May we please get to the film I’ve made now?”

I think the Michael Sam situation is similar. This is “OK, folks, I’m gay. There it is. Now, on to life.”

Media figures, if you genuinely want to support Sam, then in his next interview, ask him the same questions you’d ask any other promising young NFL prospect.

 Posted by at 9:03 am