"Awesome!" A Blog.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Golf Memoir No. 6: Going Modern

"Chris, I want you to take a left turn at History, and park the car at the intersection of Progress and Usability."

That is what the oblong, hermetically sealed, gift-wrapped cardboard box might have whispered to me as I cut apart the binding tape of its short end and pulled out its contents: a gently used set of stiff-shafted Taylor Made "Burner" irons, which my father had procured on eBay for a song. They were beautiful, glowing silver in the outdoor light of our cabin's back porch. They felt smart in the hand, and the sexy contours of the polished perimeter weighting had me mentally crushing balls down an impossibly green contrast-cut fairway someplace tropical.

If you have wandered through my earlier golf memoirs, you will recall that until now I have played with the 1975 Wilson Staffs that my father bought for himself when I was born. I have made it a point of pride to not cave in and use the myriad "crutch" club design technologies which have come along in the last three decades. Reasoning that I'd have a more disciplined swing if I could play well with simple irons that had a relatively small sweet spot, I laughed off new equipment with a quiet superciliousness. Like a man with diphtheria who raises his nose at the latest antitoxin mushed up from Anchorage.

From a certain coign of vantage, and well aware of my position on the matter, dear old dad told me what I'd be getting as a gift a month before my birthday. This was just after a session at the Danville driving range where I'd tried one of his new Taylor Made irons. Actually, I ended up trying several of them—all of them, in fact—and marveled that when I so much as chucked one of them at the ball like a javelin, I'd get a good 180 yards with decent spin. When I went so far as to take the club in my hands and employ waltz time, I was a man reinvented. The nine-iron went half the range, easy. The three-iron was bouncing off the back screen, something I thought only Greg Norman could do. (You may wonder why I do not instead reference John Daly, the king of the long ball. That is because instead of being on the range with me, he would be in the clubhouse, holding five lit cigarettes between his index and middle fingers and squeezing pasty Irish girls.)

After that dalliance with space-age casting, I was of two minds. In this crappy, modern world, I wanted to hold fast to something traditional — to my old clubs. Then again, when these old clubs were new, the purists played with hickory-shafted gleeks and niblicks, swatting pickled ortolans around sheep-shorn fairways with half a bottle of Old Fuckall sloshing about in their guts. Also, I reasoned, life is hard enough as-is. I have a two year-old. I try to make a living off a comic strip. Why in the GOD DAMNED HELL SHOULD I PICK A FIGHT WITH MY GOLF CLUBS ONCE A WEEK.

Goodness, what happened there. Excuse me, I'll get the mop and the disinfectant.

So, I got the clubs, and my folks even gave me a nice black bag to put them in. One of those new ones with the embarrassing backpack-style carrying harness. It was a lot of change to handle all at once, as you can imagine. What sort of dildo-craving genetic bust-out wears his golf bag in the style of a backpack? The thing even had a built-in retractable stand. After a bit of experimenting in the privacy of the cabin's spare bedroom, thankfully, I discovered that one of the loops serves reasonably well as a standard shoulder strap, so the rig was essentially serviceable.

Last week, before our shifts, the warehouse guy and I headed over to the range to plow through a few buckets. Upon manning the mat, I once again discovered that even the grossest swing yielded something straight, true, and needing binoculars. At certain points I was so ashamed of how easy the game had become, I actually looked up to give a good-natured shrug to whomever might be watching.

The teetering, tottering, wheeze-box firing line that snaked out before me was heads down, slapping their own low irons up against the far screen wall.

(Author's note: You may notice that Golf Memoir No. 5 has yet to appear. I'm working on that one separately, and expect to complete it at...a date.)

Monday, June 11, 2007


I went to a pretty expensive college, and sometimes people at pretty expensive colleges actually do something that doesn't make me want to gouge my eyes out with a tastevin. Please observe this case in point, a Kairos house homage to Achewood's May 17, 2007 strip:

Bless all ye holy on the Mayfield row.

Friday, June 01, 2007

A Return to Bacon, the Senses, and the Stove.

In deference to the lingering illness that had me running wounded on three of my five sensory cylinders this May, I decided to make soup. Soup is a troublesome topic in my house, as my wife prefers a smooth purée and I like a spoonful with a variety of textures in it. I ask you, how can you eat something that's going to be precisely the same uniform liquid experience sixty sips in a row? The brain softens. The spine goes insensate. Dignity takes a dive and the dog wanders from the table. There is no joy for her here. Give me a spoonful of hot broth in which I can quickly determine a bean, a bit of ham, tiny flecks of carrot, and perhaps something small and green, and I am comforted. The dog returns and assumes her expectant tableside seat. A plane lands. Everyone is safe. Everyone is home. A setting sun refracts through a ruby glass of wine...then a restorative sup. A sweater beckons from a drawer, a book beckons from the floor by that bronze thing that adjusts the disconnected furnace.

Speaking of my wife, she is also not much for the high art and pastime of meat-eating, so her gift of the Bacon of the Month Club was an open invitation to make foods we wouldn't be sharing, which is normally taboo in our family of two (the tot doesn't count yet, as she thrives solely on a diet of Bunny Grahams and alphabet-shaped pasta). Kill two birds with one stone, then, I thought: make a chunky white bean soup and flavor it with some cubed Canadian-style bacon that has had the hell browned out of it. From the mythical three-day Toulousain cassoulet to the cheap chop with black-eyed peas of my youth...one hates to invoke the term "gestalt," so I won't, but if I did, would you walk out on this sentence?

I'm by no means an accomplished soup cook, but I've done my share of reading, so I set at it with a knife and a hot little cuprous-complected fellow we picked up at the wedding. One of the discoveries I took away from this go was just how many cans of beans thirty-two ounces of chicken stock can absorb if you take a stick-blender to the pot (hint: the upcoming Achewood Cookbook II will have this highly controversial and hotly debated information).

Other soup cookery discoveries:

1) You hear it all the time -- even occasionally in an empty room, which causes you to jump with a start -- but soup really is best a day or two after the initial preparation. The ingredients have heated and cooled and heated and cooled and essentially rotted a little longer -- "rotting" being a word that you won't find in many cookbook titles. The art of controlling the process of going bad is the secret of many of the table's greatest pleasures: aged beef and pheasant, cheese, wine (particularly the aptly named "noble rot" Botrytis), then vinegar...the list is as long as the time Europeans can find to laugh at our refrigerator culture.

2) You can use a Benriner or mandoline to quickly julienne the carrots for your mirepoix. From there it's just a quick pass with the knife until they're a fancy little brunoise. Why am I talking about this? Because I am praying that Christopher Kimball will show up at my doorstep with a Ford Ranger King-Cab limo and a passel of glycerine essays about what lath and plaster walls mean to him.

3) Kidney beans are kind of nasty. I'm not sure why they're around. I can't put my finger on their flavor but it's sort of like something that would be smeared on a building to keep coyotes from urinating on it.

4) If you own a building and coyotes are always urinating on it, consider smearing kidney beans around the foundation, instead of using them in soup.

Fondest Regards,