Designing An Anti-Tebow

Editor’s Note: This article was written before the Broncos were eliminated from the playoffs,  but since our Crusade Bowl had already been set for Feb. 3, 2013, Tebow is still on track.

One of the great advantages of living thousands of miles away from America is that I find it easier to insulate myself from the more annoying and pervasive aspects of American culture. When my students ask me what music is popular in America nowadays, I can smile and honestly answer, “I have no idea.” I recently came across a news site with a photo of an attractive young girl named Selena Gomez. I have no idea why she’s famous – or if she’s over 18 – and I’m probably better off not knowing either.

The same thing goes for sports. I haven’t watched ESPN in twelve glorious months. I haven’t been exposed to Skip Bayless’s leathery goblin mug in years – though it still haunts my nightmares. Through the miracle of the internet, I can follow my teams and bypass the ESPN hype machine altogether.

I have, however, learned that a gentleman in Denver named Tim Tebow has garnered some measure of national attention. I first became aware of him during his college career. Though I’m a maniacal sports junkie, I can no more than casually follow college football, land of the BCS (a.k.a. the closest thing Americahas to the Chinese Communist Party) and Jerry Sandusky. Still, the kid was clearly a great college QB. I heard snippets of his personal life – his missionary father, his awe-inspiring virginity[1]– mostly from a Sports Illustrated article where his father, Pastor Bob Tebow, recounts the miraculous story of his birth. (Spoiler Alert: his parents don’t get the abortion.)

Now Tebow has joined with that most American of hype machines, the NFL.[2] Now, I’m a Giants fan, and I try to keep my football interests as Giants-related as possible. Since the Broncos never played the Giants this season I paid him little mind, but the sheer volume of Tebocity has been mind-boggling. Still, I valiantly stuck to my Giants news blogs, in a vain attempt to avoid being dragged headlong into the fray. Unfortunately, one day I happened to stumble upon a Tebow article by one of my favorite writers, Charles P. Pierce.

Money quote:

To call Tim Tebow a “Christian,” and to leave it at that — as though there were one definition of what a “Christian” is — is to say nothing and everything at once. Roman Catholics are Christians. So are Lutherans, Episcopalians, Melkites, Maronites, and members of the Greek and Russian Orthodox faiths. You can see how insidious this is when discussion turns to the missionary work that Tebow’s family has done in the Philippines. This is from the Five Priorities of the Bob Tebow ministries, regarding its work overseas:

It is the goal of the Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association to preach the gospel to every person who has never had an opportunity to hear the good news of eternal life in Jesus Christ. Most of the world’s population has never once had the opportunity to hear the only true message of forgiveness of sins by faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

It so happens that 95 percent of the population of the Philippines is Roman Catholic. Catholic doctrine just happens to be in conflict with what Bob Tebow and his son preach in regard to personal salvation. (To devout Catholics, for example, sins are not forgiven “by faith alone,” but through the sacrament of reconciliation as administered by a priest.) Bob Tebow’s goal is not to convert unbelievers. It is to supplant an existing form of Christianity.”

Sheeeit! Now I have a dog in this fight. I am by no means a practicing Catholic – I haven’t been in a church in about a decade – but a good number of my family members are, including three of my four grandparents (Grandmom is Presbyterian).  I don’t particularly care what religion you claim, as long as you keep it out of my face. But I absolutely cannot abide American Protestants who accuse American Catholics of impiety. Really, you wanna start the Catholic-Protestant beef again? Are we still in the 1800s? Fine, if you want to play the role of Bill the Butcher, then I insist we settle this on the street- Gangs of New York-style: you grab your top hat and knife and meet me at the town square at dawn. Prepare to receive the true Lord!

Maybe I’m too hard on Bob Tebow; maybe his only fault is being too vague.  After all, he’s not trying to evangelise all Catholics, only Filipinos. I used to live in the hardcore Christian dormitory when I taught at Jilin University of Economics, and two of the girls who taught there were Filipina. They certainly seemed, at first blush, like serious Christians, but I never got the chance to ask them whether or not they’d heard the gospel according to Bob Tebow. If they haven’, then their Christianity is clearly invalid.

Goddamnit, this Tebow business is polarizing! I can already feel my blood pressure rising. I’m being compelled to throw down a fat wad of pesos into the sleazy Tijuanacockfighting ring we call the Culture Wars.  Americans have long enjoyed staking their interest to proxy wars – fighting the “real” enemy through a surrogate. We tried this approach during the Cold War, and while it didn’t necessarily work out on the field of battle (Korean War – still technically ongoing, Vietnam – yeesh, arming the Afghan mujahadeen to fight the Soviets – turned out one of those guys was Osama bin Laden), it certainly produced great moments in the world of sports (Miracle on Ice, Rocky IV).

           The only problem is that Tebow, while polarizing, lacks a direct personal antithesis. He’sAmerica’s Christian Rocky, but who is his Ivan Drago? The liberal media? Secularists? In wrestling parlance, Tebow is a babyface with no heel.

This problem seems rather easily corrected – after all, good wrestling heels can be made as well as born.  When Vince McMahon needed a villain on the eve of Operation Desert Storm, he had Sergeant Slaughter team up with two “Eye-raqis,” providing a worthy foil for Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior to fight a proxy Gulf War. The Great Tebow War requires a similar nemesis- what we need is an anti-Tebow.

Normally, this kind of war is better left to individual sports, like boxing; Football, we are told, is the ultimate team sport. But Tebow appears to transcend the concept of the team – seriously, who outside of Colorado can name two other members of the Denver Broncos? So we need mould a talented, charismatic young quarterback to act as the mortal enemy of Tebow.

Now, it goes without saying that this anti-Tebow must be Muslim. Nothing less will do. After all, Tebow’s must fervent supporters are many of the same people who believe that sharia law has invaded our judicial system and that Obama studied in an Indonesian madrassa. Besides, we haven’t had a quality Muslim sports villain since Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali[3], setting the stage for perhaps the most awesomely absurd proxy culture sports war in American history, the first Ali-Frazier fight. Fighting for the hippie, pinko, blame-America-first crowd was Muhammad Ali – a man now so universally beloved by Americans that he was chosen to light the Olympic torch. Fighting for traditional, mainstream white America was Joe Frazier, the 100% black grandson of sharecroppers – a man who actually won that fight, and was summarily dumped by mainstream American, dying in relative obscurity. Poor Joe Frazier even had to deal with the indignity of being the subject of an article titled “Is Joe Frazier a Black Champion in White Skin?”…written by Bryant Gumbel. I’m whiter than Joe Frazier and Bryant Gumbel put together, and even I think that’s cold.

Therein lies the beauty of the proxy sports war: we can build our champions and villains out of the ether.America wanted a Great White Hope to beat Ali, so we built one out of a black man. Since the NFL doesn’t have a high-profile Muslim quarterback, we’ll have to develop one, with the generous help of Wahhabi Islam endorsement money.

Can we convince the radical clerics of Wahhabi Islam to offer a huge endorsement deal to an American football player? I don’t see why not. Wahhabi Islam seems to have a lot in common with Nike: both are well-funded, youth-oriented industries with fantastically effective ad campaigns. (Clerics convinced young boys to martyr themselves for fantasy virgins; Nike convinced me I could possibly dunk if I bought their shoes) Who knows: the Wahhabis might have successfully conquered America back in the 80’s if only they had beaten Nike to the punch and signed Michael Jordan. Fortunately for us they never discovered the two most fundamental principles of athlete endorsements:

  1. People will buy anything Michael Jordan sells them.
  2. Michael Jordan will do anything – literally, anything – for money.

So let’s say we can convince the Saudi clerics to pony up a lucrative Islam endorsement deal – let’s say $150 million and 15 wives, at least 5 Somali – we’re still left with the matter of finding the perfect Muslim quarterback. My prayers were answered the other day when I read a report that reigning Heisman award-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III was seeking an agent to declare for next year’s draft. That kid set all kinds of NCAA passing records, and he’s expected to go as high as Number 2 inthe draft, so he can clearly play. One might be concerned to learn he’s not a Muslim – he is, in fact, a God-fearing Christian son of two Army sergeants who is currently working on his Masters degree – but if America can turn Joe Frazier into a white man, I think we can turn this kid into a Muslim.

Besides, once he signs that Muslim endorsement deal, his all-American background becomes all the more insidious, based on what I call the “All-American Muslim Effect.” You might have encountered it last month in the controversy surrounding the TLC documentary series “All-American Muslim,” when the show was protested by “family” groups offended by the dastardly portrayal of Muslim Americans acting like actual Americans. Can you imagine the shit storm that will ensue when the Florida Family Association is introduced to a Muslim quarterback with two parents in the military? The game is afoot!

Since football is still technically a team game, we need to select the right squad for our anti-Tebow to lead. The choice seems obvious: the San Francisco 49ers. The team has a top-flight defense, but their quarterback situation is still a joke. The city itself is the perfect foil for the Tebowites – could they possibly hate any city more than San Francisco? Gays! Hippies! Tim Lincecum smoking dope out of his pot bong! We could turn Candlestick Park into Mecca West: cheerleaders in burkas, halal food in the concession stands, a dancing bearded ayatollah mascot. And the coup-de-grace: our anti-Tebow prostrating himself toward Mecca after each touchdown.

With the Tebow and anti-Tebow placed in opposite conferences, the stage will have been set for the Granddaddy of All Crusades, next year’s Super Bowl XLVII. Now, the week before the Super Bowl the mayors of each team’s city usually make some cute bet involving a local delicacy, like Kansas City barbecue or New England lobster. I say, for the Crusade Bowl, we raise the stakes. If the Tebow wins, than Michelle Bachman and Rick Santorum become co-regents of a new puritanical utopia where everyone wears Pilgrim hats, burns witches and calls each other “Goodman.” If the anti-Tebow wins, we submit ourselves to sharia law and kill anyone who doesn’t grow a beard. If the Tebow wins, we’ll admit that the Lord’s name is God, and if the anti-Tebow wins, we’ll admit that the Lord’s name is Allah. And in case of a tie…haha, I’m just messing with you. Thanks be to God – or, if the 49ers win, Praise be to Allah – that we as a country have evolved beyond the need for ties.

[1] Tim Tebow maintaining his virginity at the University of Florida is perhaps the most impressive feat of self-denial in the history of mankind. He was a football star…in Florida! Seriously, I’m pretty sure Southern states legally permit their football players to keep concubines.

[2] The most NFL moment of my lifetime happened last year before the Super Bowl, when the NFL showed a montage of football players and military personnel reading the Declaration of Independence – the entire Declaration…not just the relevant parts. You’d think that someone would have read it beforehand and said, “Whoa, hold on a second. Maybe we should just read the first few paragraphs, because the rest of it is a list of specific grievances against King George III, and he’s been dead for like 200 years.” Nah, that’s not how the NFL rolls.

[3] “His mama named him Clay, I’m-a call him Clay.”


My Favorite Grover

A great deal of ink has been spilled these past few years over the influence of Grover Norquist – the philosophical guru of the modern GOP, the intransigent tax-a-phobe who would most likely kill his own son for so much as proposing a 1.5% tax on the producers of snuff films in order to fund the world’s largest statue of Ronald Reagan. Love him or hate him, I think everyone can agree on one thing: Grover is one badass name. Since he isn’t the first famous Grover, I thought it might be fun to play a little game of “Rank the Grover.” Here is a list of famous Grovers – you can decide for yourself which Grover is the Goveriest:

–         Grover Norquist

I first became acquainted with this Grover from reading his now-famous quote: “I’m not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” Now, I may not agree with the idea of straight-up murdering the government, but I do appreciate a well-turned phrase. This guy sure knows how to describe a murder with panache! Any hack could speak of drowning the government in a lake or a swimming pool, but an analogy using such a large body of water implies that the government might be big enough to put up a struggle. Well, Grover Norquist does not drown things that can fight back! Apparently he has thought this drowning through, and he knows well enough that anything you can fit into a bathtub will be easy to drown. Why does Grover Norquist have so much expertise drowning things in bathtubs? That’s a personal matter between Grover and his local police department.

He is credited with creating the hugely influential lobby “Americans for Tax Reform,” but I’m not quite sure if he is the cause or merely a symptom of the phenomenon of Washingtonlobbyists turning the word “American” into an epithet. Perhaps he was the first asshole to name his lobby “Americans for _______,” but I doubt it. The first lobbyists undoubtedly came to this country on the Mayflower; perhaps their first organization was even named “Americans for Witch Burning.” All I know is that I’m sick of these lobbies and super-PACs using the word “American.”[1] Look, I get it: you’re American, and you’re for something. I’m American too, and I’m also for certain things. How about you find a candidate who’s for what you’re for, and vote for him; I’ll do the same, and we’ll call it “democracy.”

Grover is best known these days as the man behind the no-tax pledge. This is no metaphor: there is an actual piece of paper each Republican worth his salt must sign, pledging never raising taxes under any circumstances. Grover isn’t a Republican, per se – his loyalty is to the pledge, not the party. President George H.W. signed Grover’s pledge, and then famously stabbed poor Grover in the back by raising taxes. Well, Grover got his revenge, delighting in Bush’s reelection loss to Bill Clinton. Bush’s loss, Grover said, proved that “this is one promise a politician can’t break.” Ha! Take that, Bush! You violated the only oath you ever took that really mattered. That other oath you took – that you would faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and would to the best of your ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States – just got f’ed in the a!

Grover’s secret world of unbreakable oaths certainly sparks the imagination. What are the inner workings of his no-tax pledge society? What of their secret initiation ceremonies? We know that Yale’s “Skull and Bones” society uses the skull of Geronimo; whose skull does Grover Norquist use – Barry Goldwater’s? This looks like a job for author Dan Brown. I’m calling you out, Dan: you’ve already tackled the Knights Templar, Freemasons and the Illuminati, and now I want you to write a novel about the Grover Norquist Promise Keepers. Take us inside their bizarre ceremonies- the Reagan masks, the silver goblets filled with the blood of albino virgins, the Grover myth of creation, told through interpretive dance.[2] And let’s not forget the ceremonial orgy – we all know that’s what gives the no-taxers their power. Some might blanch at the idea of a bunch of old white dudes having sex with each other: Isn’t that gay sex? Don’t these guys make their political bones by turning voters against homosexuals? It’s a common mistake to make, but the simple fact is that there’s nothing “gay” in a bunch of guys having sex with each other…so long as they’re doing it in the name of tax reform.

–         Grover Cleveland

 You might know him as the 22nd and 24th president of the United States – so nice, we counted him twice. Nowadays he’s best known for his non-conescutiveness, and for being the inspiration of one of Abraham Simpson’s better old-timey jokes: “In my day we got spanked by presidents ‘til the cows came home. Grover Cleveland spanked me on two non-consecutive occasions.” There are, however, a few other things of note about the only Grover to be elected president.

GroverClevelandwas one of only three men inUShistory to win the popular vote in three different presidential elections – bonus points if you can name the other two. He won the Electoral College in 1884 and 1892. During the 1888 election he received what we now call “the Al Gore treatment” – winning the popular vote, but narrowly losing the Electoral College to Benjamin Harrison, while the one state in the balance (Indiana) seemed to be rife with all kinds of election-day shenanigans.

It is also interesting to note that Grover Cleveland was the only Democrat elected president during the fifty year period following the Civil War (1861-1913.) Remember that, Democrats, the next time you complain that your side rarely wins elections these days. Of course, each party’s ideology wasn’t quite as rigid back in those days. GroverCleveland was elected as a pro-business, anti-labor Democrat – he and Grover Norquist probably would have been good buddies.

Furthermore, the most prominent Republican of the time was Theodore Roosevelt, a man so progressive he broke away to form his own Progressive Party. It might not surprise you to find out Grover Norquist isn’t much of a T.R. fan. His stated goal is to bringAmericaback to what it was “up until Teddy Roosevelt, when the socialists took over – the income tax, the death tax, regulation, all that.” I guess we know which face Grover Norquist would dynamite offMt.Rushmorefirst. Grover just wants to take us back to a better time – which, according to him, is the late1800’s. That certainly was a freer time in America: 10-year-olds had the freedom to work in coal mines, meat companies had the freedom to sell you tainted meat; Coca-cola had the freedom to spike their drinks with cocaine, states were free from federal interference and activist judges (free to enact Jim Crow laws); women were free from oppressive burden of voting.

–         Grover Cleveland Alexander

Clearly he was the greatest of the 16 Major leaguers ever to be called Grover. Before I learned of Grover Norquist, this was probably my least favorite Grover. I still haven’t forgiven him for striking out Yankees 2B Tony Lazzeri with the bases loaded in the 7th inning of Game 7 of the 1926 World Series, winning the title for the St. Louis Cardinals. But even a lunatic Yankee fan like me would find it hard to argue with his Hall of Fame resume:

–         373 wins(3rd all time)

–         90 shutouts (NL record)

–         Lifetime 2.56 ERA

And his record would look a hell of a lot better if he hadn’t been drafted into the army during the prime of his career to fight in WWI. While serving inFrance, a German shell exploded near his ear, costing him part of his hearing and triggering an onset of epilepsy. After the war he returned to the mound and managed to pitch through epileptic fits, shell shock and his own alcoholism. Truly, this Grover was a badass.

–         Grover the Muppet

Look, I love Muppets…but I must admit that Grover doesn’t do much for me. To me he’s the other blue one on Sesame Street; the one who isn’t Cookie Monster. Give me Cookie Monster any day of the week. If I made a list of my favorite Muppets, I doubt Grover would even crack top 20. Still, I’ll take a mediocre Muppet over an accomplished human any day of the week.

In conclusion, my personal Grover Ranking would go thusly:

  1.  Muppet
  2. Cleveland (Alexander)
  3. Cleveland (regular)
  4. Norquist

[1] Karl Rove’s super-PAC is called “American Crossroads.” The only way I will ever respect that group is if Rove goes on TV to announce he named his group after the Bone, Thugs and Harmony song “Tha Crossroads.”

[2] “In the beginning, there was the god Free Enterprise and the goddess Laissez-Faire Capitalism. They had a child and they named it America. But the evil witch called the Welfare Queen seethed in her ivory federal tower, and sent her evil flying monkeys “Death Tax” and “Civil Rights Act of1964” to kill the child…”

My World Without Zinc

Note: as I set out to write this article, I made myself a promise: that I would use the word “zinc” as much as humanly possible. Before you start reading, try to guess how many times the word “zinc” appears…I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

I’m not gonna lie: I’m high as a motherfucker, right this second, even as I’m writing this. I’m high on zinc.

I just popped a couple of zinc supplement pills – zincies, I call – them, and now I’m just chilling at my desk, grooving to some Wailing Souls, tripping zinc balls. I’m so fucking high on this trace metal right now that I’m thinking of starting my own zinc-a-farian religion with zinc pills as one and only sacrament. Zinc, after all, comes from Almighty Jah the most high – number 30 on his periodic table, but number one in his heart. After all, man made beer, but God made zinc…who do you trust?

My discovery of the wonders of zinc came from a rather surprising direction – one of the many lonely paths I’ve taken on my way out of depression. There was a time, not too long ago, when I wasn’t looking for zinc, or anything else, for that matter. When one has sunk to the deepest state of depression, no amount of sink – not even the bountiful zinc deposits of northern Saskatchewan– can lift one’s mind from despair. Every action is agonizing – in truth, it’s the thought of action which is agonizing, because every action has been stripped of meaning: What is the purpose of tying shoes? Flushing the toilet? Getting out of bed?

There was a time, not too long ago, when I operated on a kind of default setting, like a human Mitt Romney. My life was routine for the sake of routine. I ate, slept, worked and studied – not because I wanted to, because I knew I would break down completely the moment I stopped. The therapy and meds became part of my routine. I dutifully took my pill every day, and I respectfully listened to doctors tell me that therapy and medication take time and patience. And if these pills don’t work, there are more pills to try – more time and more patience. But there was no hope – only the lingering and nagging exhortations of the will, to make it to the next day.

But the fog lifts – not lifts, per se, but lightens. The affect is slow, often frustratingly imperceptible, until one day you have enough of your wits about you to form some kind of plan. This is when the average chump might be content to wait on modern medicine and therapy to finish the job. And, Lord knows, I’m a lazy bastard who usually makes the least possible effort at all times. However, the horror of my current mental state screamed out for an “any means necessary” course of action.

Firstly, I turned to my coworker – a certified doctor of Chinese medicine – for some acupressure treatment. And when I say “acupressure treatment,” I mean I sat in the break room and let her dig her bony, impossibly strong fingers into my skull. Even in single-handed lifting a bus off of my trapped first-born child I would not be able to muster to force to which she applied her adamantium claws to my pressure points.

“If you feel pain,” she warned, “then it’s the tension you carry up there.” I always had the suspicion I was carrying to much tension, and finally I had the proof – proof in the form of searing, cleansing pain.

Next, I listened to my shrink’s advice and took a blood test to check for hormone imbalance. I must admit to being disturbingly hopeful of testing positive. The subjects pf psychology and mental illness can feel frustratingly nebulous to someone like me, someone who just wants some fucking answers, goddammit! Finally, I would have something concrete – numbers on a test result sheet, arrows pointing up or down – facts I could really sink my teeth into. Like a child bounding down the stairs on Christmas morning, I practically glided on air to the lab for my test results. One of the arrows pointed up: 雌二醇 – literally: female 2 alcohol. Yes! I have too much estrogen! It made sense: perhaps I had the very same hormone imbalance that allowed Barry Bonds to achieve new peaks of excellence. I’ve never done any steroids, but I do feel more and more like a roid-era Barry Bonds: surly, moody, and insecure.

I went to the endocrinologist, expecting a prescription for…I dunno…anti-estrogen? Unfortunately, the doctor wasn’t much help. He merely brushed me aside and said my tests were fairly normal. I felt that old familiar surge of despair: Normal? How can that be true? I’m not a man. I’m a bitch.

Never being one to trust Chinese doctors, I turned next to the internet – combining through articles from legit medical sites to holistic hippie pages to douchebag weightlifter ads. Though not in total agreement, the general medical consensus is that elevated estrogen levels in men ain’t good, and can affect mood.

But how can one lower the level of estrogen in the body? The answer, from every source, was zinc.

I felt a bolt of inspiration from the heavens. Were it any other trace element – magnesium, or potassium, perhaps – I would have been skeptical. But zinc…precious zinc? I’ve had something of an unrequited love affair zinc ever since I first watched the “World Without Zinc” documentary on The Simpsons. To this day, I often find myself yelling “Come back, zinc!” for no apparent reason. And now it was possible – nee, probable – that I was living in a world without zinc. I’d find a handgun and shoot myself, but, as we all know, the firing pin for that handgun is made of…zinc.

I bolted toward the nearest upscale yuppie mall which might hold a supplement shop. Fortunately, I live in Beijing, and there are at least two upscale yuppie malls at every intersection. I soon found myself surrounded by bottles of trace metals. And there, tucked among the Fe’s and Mg’s and Ca’s, was the precious Zn – the one, true Holy Grail. Did you know that the Chinese word for zinc – 锌 (xin)- is pronounced exactly the same as the word for “new”? Coincidence – I think not.[1]

The sales woman could sense my enthusiasm: “If you buy two bottles, the third one is free!”

I could hardly contain my glee: “Hell yeah! Mo’ zinc! Mo’ zinc!” I walked out of the shop with three bottles of zinc…not to mention the complimentary Yao Ming calendar.

The zinc supplement is but one part of a recovery plan which includes medication, exercise and healthier living. Now that I’m a certified zinc junkie, the question remains: am I high of this zinc or merely the hope that I might be a step closer to finally emerging from this horrible depression? Whatever the case may be, it’s comforting to know that I charge headlong into the battle with zinc on my side.

[1] Actually, I think so…Chinese doesn’t have many different sounds.