Saturday, August 16, 2014

Summer Reading Project: The Smart Girl's Guide to Space Jam

The Hab It Her Way Summer Reading Project is my way of sharing the misery that is reading The Smart Girl's Guide to Sports, which cost $2. Let's laugh at this together.
Got to admit, I'm pretty excited that the first chapter of this regrettable read is about basketball - a sport that I both enjoy greatly and want to learn more about. This chapter will either help me know a little more about the NBA or make me never want to watch it again. Let's dive right in, shall we?

I could've skipped the beginning of this chapter, because a lot of it is so incredibly obvious that anyone who's seen basketball in any form (like, even a scene in a movie where people are playing basketball.) Also, the worst thing in the whole chapter happens pretty early on: the author tries to wax poetic about the sport but just ends up sounding... not blatantly racist? I mean, she doesn't ever say anything outright, but she does admire basketball's hip-hop style, its urban attitude, and its jazzy rhythm. As if we don't know what she was implying.

The Fictional Suburban Mom's Guide To Sports
But then she goes on to explain actual sports things. Like the many different shots. (Luckily, we're spared from a simplistic definition like "a shot is how the ball goes from being in the player's hand to not being in the player's hand anymore, on purpose.") Anyway, the author compared shots in basketball to black pants. (I don't think she meant that in a racist way. I mean, the basketball season starts after Labor Day, so no one can really wear white pants then anyway, right? LOL jokes about clothes are so funny when you're a girl.) Why does she compare shots to pants? Because there are so many of them! The author then goes on to list all of the types of black pants a girl should own, like Monica Geller categorizing her towels. Among these categories are "uptown chic," because your black pants belong in a Billy Joel song, and "downtown funky." Let me repeat that. "Downtown funky." I have no idea who this book was written for, because I know plenty of women, and none of them have ever described a piece of their clothing as "downtown funky." If anyone ever has, it was probably Prince. And I'm like 90% sure that Prince isn't a woman.

One of the shots, as you may know, is called a "slam dunk." Maybe you've heard of it. If you haven't then please let this book teach you that it is similar to dunking a cookie in a glass of milk, but it's done with more pizzazz! You know, just like how Prince is similar to a regular human, but with more pizzazz. Raise your hand if you've ever done this to an Oreo:


Me either. I am not an All-Star.

Throughout the chapter, the author reminds readers that Michael Jordan was the greatest of all time and such, but she doesn't even mention Space Jam. Now, if you want to learn about basketball but don't already know that Michael Jordan was very good at it, you might want to rethink the whole "Smart Girl" thing. Like, you have to at least have heard of Space Jam. I know the book doesn't mention it, but if you haven't heard of Michael Jordan or Bugs Bunny, there is something very, very wrong.
I don't even remember this movie that well, so, please clear my schedule for tomorrow evening.
Anyway, when the time came for me to read Michael Jordan's profile in the Legends section, I was blown away. It actually made this book worth reading. Not only were there a few things about his life story that I didn't know, but the author presents them in a really fascinating way. These profiles are the best part of the book so far - and yes, that is a compliment. They make up for the questionable quality of just about everything else because they get right down to what being a sports fan is all about - being a part of history, and watching some incredibly talented athletes get to do what they do best. She makes readers want to know more about these players, to scour YouTube for highlights of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Dr. J. 

Now if only she had nicer things to say about Kobe. The edition of the book I have was written in 2004 or 2005, right in the wake of Kobe Bryant's sex scandal. Now, I do not blame her at all for deciding not to put Kobe Bryant on a pedestal. No one was at that time. It's just weird that the strong, feminist Smart Girl in her awoke at exactly that moment but remained dormant for everything else I've read so far. "Whoopee - he's only an adulterer, not a rapist." Her anger is justifiable, it just seems out of place. The author doesn't mention any other incidents where pro athletes did unsavory or illegal things. Tons of athletes cheated on their wives before 2004, and tons have done it since. Wouldn't they be worth talking about, too? I guess we'll see how she treats bad or illegal behaviour going forward. It just feels awkward that she singles out one athlete, rather than the entire culture of professional sports.

The chapter ends with a glossary, which contains 2 unfunny sex jokes, 1 unnecessary story about the author, 1 "women be shoppin'" joke, 1 reference to players as "hotties" and surprisingly, minimal racism!

If this book was written in 2014: It would probably be ripe with reminders that Kim Kardashian was married to a basketball player for 72 days. And LeBron James' writeup would be more than speculative. He betrayed an entire fanbase and ended up winning two rings because of it. And ladies love rings!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Remembering Robin Williams

I know that to some people, it seems ridiculous to mourn a famous person that you knew only from their work onscreen, that you never met in person. I've never felt this way. I think it's okay to feel attached to someone you know and love just because of movies, television, sports, anything. Judging by what I've seen online in the last day or so, a lot of people agree with me. Every death is a tragedy, and it seems surreal to lose someone you thought you would always be able to see on your TV screen, someone who is alive every time you hit the "play" button.

Robin Williams wasn't just a celebrity. He was even just alive onscreen - he was larger than life. He was beloved by audiences, by his contemporaries, and by anyone who saw him and was inspired to pursue whatever it is that they're best at. You've seen it in your news feeds and on the faces of your friends when they find out he passed away. My father was saddened when he heard the news - his English isn't that good, but he watched Mrs. Doubtfire with us when we were growing up and loved it as much as we did. Williams had an incredible impact on so many of us - the generation that grew up watching him wasn't the only one who loved him.

I'm part of that generation, but now that I'm growing up and learning more about comedy, his death is affecting me even more than I thought it would. I've been trying to learn what makes a comedian great. Sometimes it's clear that comedy is hard work - so many people that are incredibly funny spend inordinate amounts of time practicing, rewriting, and performing in order to improve, and they never stop improving. They just keep working. Hard work and tenacity are what can make a good comic into a great comic, and a regular laugh into the kind of laughter that makes your face hurt, that makes you forget you even had anything else on your mind before the joke started. Others are just born great. Robin Williams was born great. I know he spent a lot of time observing, learning, thinking of ways he could be better, but it seems pretty obvious to anyone who's seen him that that's not the whole story. He was born with incredible talent. He was special. He had a gift, and we all were fortunate enough to see him use that gift and turn into something brilliant and unique.

There will never be another comedian or performer quite like him, but there are legions of people who'll never forget him. He will be missed.

Friday, August 8, 2014

It's About Time

USA Today broke a story today about a new show set to premiere on CBS Sports. It's being sold as a "sports talk show" hosted, produced, and directed by women.

This is huge. And it's about damn time.

I may not know the title, who is hosting it, or when exactly it's slated to premiere, but I definitely plan on watching it. I don't even know if I can get CBS Sports in Canada, but I'll try. I'll plan a road trip across the border to watch the premiere if I have to. It's going to be an important moment for a lot of sports fans, and I want to be there when it happens.

Even the most seasoned female sports reporters don't always get the recognition they deserve. I'm very proud of TSN for hiring so many female anchors, but even that is proof that women have to work incredibly hard to be taken seriously. It's time that women got a big stage, one that doesn't have a glass-top desk. It's time that they're given a chance to truly shine, or to yell, or to fuck up, because male analysts get to do that all the time. I'm not saying that all male sports anchors or analysts are bad at what they do, but the culture of sports broadcasting is a certain way. It's a boys' club, and women have made great strides to change that, but there are still better opportunities for meatheaded former players, or guys who like to talk really loud, than there are for a lot of women regardless of their work ethic and their level of intelligence.

It's time that women are given these major roles - we've seen such great work from a lot of female sportscasters, and they deserve to get their due.

When the show premieres, I'm hoping to see lots of in-depth discussions, segments I can learn from, and a few good laughs. But, to be honest, I'll settle for seeing myself a little bit better-represented on television. I know that there's a chance that the show might disappoint me - television is just like that sometimes. And that's okay, because we've seen that happen before, and in some cases, we see it happen regularly. (ahem, Coach's Corner) But no matter what, it'll be nice knowing that there's something different out there, and that women will be working hard to produce it. It'll be nice to see a new perspective on the sports world. And it will most definitely be nice knowing that the show was produced in an environment that might be a little bit more welcoming than some other media outlets out there.

And if they want to hire me as an intern or a proofreader, that would be nice, too.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Summer Reading Project: The Smart Girl's Guide to Introductions

The Hab It Her Way Summer Reading Project is my way of sharing the misery that is reading The Smart Girl's Guide to Sports, which cost $2. Let's laugh at this together.



My introduction to the Summer Reading Project didn't include a summary of the book's introduction, because, well, I could probably write a series of posts on the introduction alone. The author has the best of intentions, but then again, so do grandmothers when they try to set you up with the nice young man who works at the grocery store. Or at the bank. Or at the pharmacy. Or... well, luckily those are the only places my grandmother goes.

The introduction starts with a story, wherein the author talks about how saying a random sentence about last night's football game immediately won over one of her male co-workers and suddenly they became the best of friends! You see, before she had mustered up the courage to say something about how good Jerry Rice was at sports tasks, he thought she was just another dame coming into his workplace and interrupting his scotch-drinking. But she's cooler than all those other women who didn't say a sentence about sports that day!

Now, I have a similar story, wherein someone from my office didn't like me very much when I started working with her - I was new and still learning the ropes, and this girl is insanely good at what she does, so she had no time for me to make beginners' mistakes. I thought she hated me. A few months later, our office had a karaoke night. I sang a Destiny's Child song and suddenly she was on my side! We've been getting along very well ever since. Maybe I should write a book called The Smart Person's Guide to Beyoncé.
If you liked it then you should've put a championship ring on it
Basically, the author implies that the only way to combat sexism, whether in the workplace or elsewhere, is to buy into it. You'll "instantly win respect" by knowing one thing about whatever sport the men are talking about, and then you can "drift out of conversation and go back to thinking about what you're going to wear tomorrow." Knowing about sports will make you better than other women and help you knock the ball out of the park and straight through the glass ceiling, apparently!

No, thanks. I choose my outfits in the morning, anyway.  Now, I'm no scientist (because that's another thing that's for boys, right?), but apparently you "don't need scientific evidence to know that men have a sports gene." I think what I love most about this book so far is that it was written by a woman, but it rarely sounds like it. I didn't know that mansplaining could also be done by women! What a great accomplishment for us all. Who run the world? Girls! (But only the ones who are smart enough to talk to men about sports and then write a book about it.)

She ends her intro with some "Hip Tips To Enjoy Sports!" Her first piece of advice? Find a player who you find attractive. Because being a smart girl is nothing if not giving in to the biggest cliché that female sports fans find themselves fighting every day.

So, let's get ready to read the rest, and release the sports goddess within us!

(That's an actual thing she says in the intro, so something tells me this woman owns hardcover copies of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy because they're super well-written and romantic.)

Every time I finish a chapter, I'll summarize it and tell you about the legitimate advice, spelling mistakes, gender-based stereotypes, and everything else that a smart girl would need to know about sports.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Hab It Her Way Summer Reading Project is underway...

...and I probably should have just picked up a copy of Gone Girl or some Bronte instead. But this will be fun, because sarcasm and eye-rolling are two of my favourite hobbies, outside of making hockey puns and watching 30 Rock.

Here's my unfortunate book selection for the inaugural (and maybe only) Hab It Her Way Summer Reading Project:

Yes, really.
Reading this book might be the best way to keep my snarking skills sharp during the offseason. It's my equivalent of flipping big-ass tires or breaking rocks on Travis Moen's farm.

A little background:
I bought this book a few years ago, back when I was still very, very much a rookie. It cost two dollars. (No, it literally cost two dollars. Maybe three.) I bought it because it was cheap, because I had time on my hands, and because I thought it might help answer some burning questions like "Why are there rules in hockey that I still don't understand?", "What do all the positions in football mean?" and "Why on earth do people watch car racing for fun?" I read a few pages and gave up. It was not a book for smart girls. I kept the book, though, mostly as a handy tool to squish spiders. And now I'm going to try giving it another read.

Ironically, summer is traditionally my busiest season at work, and with Just for Laughs upon us, I might not get to write weekly posts as I'd like to. But I will try my hardest, because it'll be worth it.

The author has the best of intentions, but unfortunately, she seems all too ready to accept a gender binary and act like all women be shoppin'. Some women be shoppin' for a new Habs shirt after some unfortunate free agent moves, okay? Without even getting to the foreword, I can tell you that the author doesn't seem to know many women who watch sports, or many men who don't. She's written an entire book, but hasn't used those pages to go beyond the absolute basic stereotypes that my dad's generation believes to be true. I'm not sure how many women have read this book and turned from pink princesses into beer-drinking, stat-spewing die-hard fans, but my guess is that she might have missed her mark. (The book does not discuss archery.)

Anyway, it was written as a "helpful guide." Over the next few weeks, I'll find out just how helpful it is.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Top 5: Things Hockey Should Borrow From Soccer

I may not watch much soccer outside of international tournaments and the occasional Impact game, but it can be a great spectator sport. It has global appeal and a great culture, so it brings people together just the way that sports would in a perfect world. Unless, of course you're one of those people who believes that you can't cheer for any country other the one you live in. I skipped the World Cup opening ceremonies (why is it that Pitbull is so unappealing as a recording artist, and so adorable as a breed of puppy?) but I'm looking forward to watching the rest of the tournament.
Oh and by the way, yes, I call it "soccer" and not "football" or "futbol." Sorry, I guess.

Top 5 Things Hockey Should Borrow From Soccer

Ultras. Hockey has passionate fans. I know. There are the people who've had season tickets for decades, the people who go to the World Juniors and paint their faces, and the people who throw stuff on the ice when officials make terrible calls. But most hockey markets don't have the same kind of loud, insane fans who have an arsenal of pre-rehearsed chants and who turn fandom into its own sport. I mean, okay, some cities have those jerks who'll vandalize stuff or riot, so hockey has THAT in common with soccer, but you'll rarely hear the steady background vocals of a hockey crowd like you will at a professional soccer game.

Commentators who yell a lot. I mean, some of that yelling comes from obvious homerism, but the rest just comes from from passionate commentators who still appreciate the game and don't spend all their time trying to sound like the voice of authority. (Let's be honest: the occasional hockey broadcaster just sounds like they're asleep at the wheel.) Goals are exciting! I wish more commentators would acknowledge that.

One-named athletes. Why do soccer fans get to have all the fun, cheering for guys named Felipe or Chicharito? These guys are like the Beyonces of the sports world, and hockey fans are stuck cheering for dudes with names like "Mike Richards" and "Sidney Crosby." Why does the NHL get all of the Debbie Gibsons and none of the Beyonces?
(Note: Yes, I am aware that hockey has some cool-ass names, like "Ryan Malone" and "Zemgus Girgensons", but they're still your regular old first name-last name combos, like any regular human has. They lack the magic, the punch, of a one-name wonder.)

Jersey swaps. The handshake line is good, it's great, okay? Don't hate me, hockey purists. Jersey swaps are great, though, because the players need to take a little more time to interact. Seriously, why doesn't hockey do this from time to time? ...other than "Because the hockey card companies want to buy up all those jerseys and chop them up."

A Champions League. The Olympics and other international tournaments are great in that fans get to see dream teams - players from the same country hand-picked from pro teams across the league. How cool would it be to see the teams we know playing against the best teams from across the world? It would make the Spengler Cup look like... um... the Spengler Cup.

Happy World Cup month, everyone!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Worst Thing About a Playoff Round Against the Bruins

I couldn't be happier that the Habs beat the Bruins and are on their way to the conference final. (Okay, I could be, because I'm still in disbelief. When it sinks in, I'll be even happier.) There was so much in this series that I loved.

And lots of stuff that I didn't.

Some of it was the standard stuff you see every time the playoffs heat up, or anytime the Habs face the Bruins: players getting a little too angry at each other, fans engaging in inappopriate/racist/sexist/homophobic language, and hockey sticks hitting delicate areas. But the worst thing, by far, was having to face this reality:

OH, THE HUMANITY
I've been in denial about Jarome Iginla ever since he signed with the Bruins. You know how people say they remember where they were when they found out Kennedy was shot, stuff like that? I remember exactly where I was on July 5th, 2013, when I found out Jarome Iginla signed with the Bruins. I was at the Bell Centre, which is supposed to be my happy place. And I've been trying to forget that moment ever since. Okay, actually, I've been denial about all this ever since he left Calgary:



I made it through the entire regular season just by exercising the kind of denial that is probably rarely seen among healthy adults. I would pretend I didn't see him in that black-and-yellow jersey, that it was another #12. I couldn't get away with those denial tactics through seven playoff games. And that is how I found out that Jarome Iginla isn't the same player I used to love with all my heart.

The Jarome Iginla I saw during the playoffs wasn't just an amped-up version of the strong, all-around player that everyone knows he is. He was a Bruin, through and through. He put that jersey on, played with that team, and he turned, like a gremlin someone fed after midnight. He was aggressive, and not in a good way. He was angry. I no longer had any interest in seeing him make a run for a much-deserved Stanley Cup. I just wanted to see him go back to his old self. He wasn't the same guy whose T-shirt I wore, whose hockey card I bought. And it sucked to have to face that.

There are lots of reasons why I don't like the Bruins, but right now, ruining Jarome Iginla is the only one that matters.