I’ve never really gotten into cold pizza. It’s just so…cold. The toppings don’t look right. I know that many people love it, though. I admit it confuses me. I wonder how much of the appeal is borne out of laziness. Everyone knows you cannot microwave a piece of pizza, so to actually warm it back up—it takes several minutes. Is this love of cold pizza just a love of being able to eat something instantly? Is cold pizza a different meal for a different time of the day? If cold pizza is so fantastic, why don’t places sell it that way? You know, pickup or delivery, hot or cold? I think these cold pizza people might be lying to themselves a little bit. Just a thought before we delve into the mailbag.
Q: All signs point to the new Great Gatsby movie being awful. The question is why can’t they make this book into a solid film? West Egg, Hartford, CT.
A: It’s my understanding that the first version of Great Gatsby to hit the screen (sometime in the 40s) was decent. I’m sure it would be unwatchable today, but perhaps that first adaptation was the best. The one most people know, the one you sit through in English class when the teacher got tired of discussing the book, stars old Bobby Redford and comes out flat. It’s not terrible, but when you are making a movie out of what is widely regarded as one of the best novels ever written, the bar is set awfully high. I think this is part of the problem. The expectations are just too high, especially since almost no movies really live up to their books regardless of how good the book happens to be. The other problem might be that the movies tend to focus on the wrong things. The parties, or the relationship between Gatsby and Daisy. The Great Gatsby isn’t a love story and I think some people want the movie to be. The version that opened last week looks almost comically superficial. They’re showing it in 3D, and it’s pretty clear the story works best in two dimensions.
Q: What do you think about people who get militant about meat temperature? Is well-done something to get angry about? Is it really? Red Center, Omaha, NE.
A: Probably not. I read the occasional article on cooking and one question that comes up time and time again is, HOW DO I COOK THIS STEAK? The answer is always the same. Sear-Roast. And, that is fine advice, but the advice is always for a medium-rare steak—at the most. This is what we’ve all deemed to be the correct temperature, but I don’t think it needs to come with so much judgment. When you read these tips for cooking it will often include something like, “feel free to leave the steak in the oven longer IF YOU WANT TO RUIN IT.” And, I think that’s the angst you are talking about. I guess chefs and amateur cooks get OFFENDED when an ingredient isn’t treated properly. I feel this way on occasion, but it’s mostly when I have to eat the dish. If you want to make something well-done, or f’ing raw for yourself—go right ahead. If you are cooking for others, you should at least make an attempt to be aware of their temperature preferences. I can say, that if I was a guest, I’d rather slog through something that was overdone than something that was raw. If I come over and you set down a pork chop in front of me that’s pink and mushy in the center—I MAY VOMIT. Sorry. Guess I like my pork “ruined.”
Q: Do you think parents get nervous when their kids give them a present, thinking, “oh my god, what is this going to be and I’ll probably end up having to wear it.” Mack Aroni, Denver, CO.
A: Well, I’m not a parent, but I think I can take a reasonable stab at this just through my observations. I can say with certainty that parents (especially Moms) like getting SOMETHING from their children, because when presented with the opportunity or the need to make a comment, they can chime in with, “Oh, MY Frederick got me the cutest…” and then you just fill in the blank with whatever. I overheard a couple of these conversations on Mother’s Day. You don’t want to be the mother that didn’t get anything. That might say something about YOU as a mother and not about your unappreciative kid. But in terms of the actual present? My guess is that parents would always prefer something they can display. When you are five years old and you come home with a mess of construction paper, or a pasta wreath, or one of those drawings where the sun takes up 84% of the page, your parents can just throw that on a wall somewhere. Most parents will proudly show this type of thing off, and even insinuate on occasion that their kid is MAYBE not completely terrible at art (he is)? But, if your mother had to wear that pasta around her neck? Or your drawing was stenciled onto a T-shirt? I’m thinking we’re talking about a drastic decline in enthusiasm. You probably have to be an adult to start getting decent adult gifts for your parents. Otherwise, it’s “I’m getting Dad this Harry Potter Lanyard!” Well, Dad’s not going to like that unless it’s sticking out of the ignition of a new car.
Q: What do you think is worse, striking out to end a game, or giving up a home run to end the game? Kenny Wahlkoff, Pittsburgh, PA.
A: Here’s how I’ll answer. I assume at some point in my life that I struck out to end a baseball game. Even though I was Rod Carew like with my contact skills, I bet it happened. More than once. The thing is, I don’t remember it happening. It didn’t leave an impression on me. I remember the home runs I gave up and none of them were of the walk-off variety, so if that had been the case they would probably be seared into my brain. I’m approaching this with a Little League mentality, but I think how we look at things in baseball is shaped by our younger years. From the moment they remove the tee, people start striking out ALL THE TIME. But, the home run becomes a mythical achievement. Since most six and seven year old kids can’t go YARD, when someone finally does hit a home run, it is a HUGE DEAL. That awestruck reaction to a home run sticks with you for your whole life. The sight of a home run can still cause professional athletes to act like children. So, because of the joy the home run causes for the offensive team, the gloom it causes for the other team is proportional. The other thing about home runs? People always let you know about them. I heard what’s his face took you DEEP yesterday? Yeah, yeah, yeah–you’ll be hearing that for the rest of your life.
Q: I was driving by a XXX video store the other day and I was pondering to myself, how the hell are these stores still in business in the internet age? P. Eeepshow, Carlsbad, CA.
A: The old “drive by” question, huh? The short answer to this question is people are a bit pervy. For the long answer, I may have approach things a bit more delicately. I’m no XXX video store regular. I don’t have the courage. I remember back in the day when regular video stores had the adult rooms and I would always be SO CURIOUS, but I never went in them–even after I was of age. You get the feeling that you are going to walk out with your bit of TASTEFUL porn and all of a sudden your grandmother is going to be sitting there knitting you a new Christmas stocking–or something. That wouldn’t happen, but that’s how it makes you feel, plus the looks from other customers. At an XXX store you don’t have that concern, no one is in there picking up Toy Story 3 (At least not the animated version), but you could always run into someone YOU KNOW, which would be devastating for both of you. I think I’m dancing around things here. Bottom line, XXX video stores usually sell MORE than just videos. There is a market for these items and there is a group of the population who doesn’t associate any stigma with strolling into the Pleasure Hut, or whatever locale it was you had in mind. I imagine some of these places have regulars, foster a real sense of community. Can’t get that online. It’d be like having a happy hour over Skype.
Q: Why don’t professional golfers have their swing coaches caddy for them. Wouldn’t they be better at giving advice, or making a small correction during a round? Hank Hainee, El Paso, TX.
A: There are a few players, among the lesser known golfers, that use their coaches as their caddy. I just read this morning, that Casey Wittenberg, who played with Tiger this weekend has his swing coach ON THE BAG. It does make a certain bit of sense, but golf is such a delicate game. You are so sensitive out there. It’s tough to make changes mid-round, and you probably don’t really want to be thinking about your swing when you are trying to shoot a score. Like the old, grumpy, tour pros with the homemade swings like to say, “We’re playing golf, not GOLF SWING.” There are other stumbling blocks as well, though. Most guys have multiple students, so who would you caddy for? Sorry, Tiger, gotta go loop it for Justin Rose today–he’s hitting it left of the world. And, let’s not forget the monumental egos that these coaches have on tour. They probably (definitely) consider themselves above the caddy profession. You also don’t want to tie yourself too closely to one player’s fortunes. It’s all well and good until your prize student “Goes Duval,” and then all of a sudden you are coaching and caddying for the guy who can’t keep his ball on the property let alone on the fairway.
Q: Do you think the Phillies should sell high on Kyle Kendrick right now, and if he keeps this up, what kind of contract is he going to get in the off-season? Is Kendrick a 100 million dollar pitcher? Will he out-earn Tim Lincecum? Are we still on Earth? Boris Scott, Tampa, FL.
A: He’s going to get more money than Lincecum. That can definitely happen. Kendrick is 4-1 with a 2.47 ERA and has been one of the brightest spots for the Phillies this year. He has vastly out-performed any ceiling that I would have put on his career. Kendrick is the original Happ, the original Worley. In 2007, Kendrick won 10 games and people got excited. While Happ and Worley have gone on to have their struggles, Kendrick has rebounded over the last year from his own extended bout with mediocrity. What he has going for him is that he’s still just 28, and the league will always be starved for pitching. Should the Phillies trade him? Probably. If it gets to that point. After a decent road trip, the Phillies are still bouncing around on the fringes of wild-card contention. They’ve got a lot of issues, but it’s still too early to put them squarely out of it. I think that’s where they are headed, but for now, Kendrick has to keep pitching and keep winning. If they sell off pieces, Kendrick would be a logical choice, because part of the appeal of having Kendrick is having him at a cheap rate. Can the Phillies even afford to sign him after the season if this keeps up? Is that where the Halladay money would be best spent? Probably not, but I can say that if this was three or four years ago Kendrick might already have his extension. What would KK bring on the open market? I’m not sure he can keep this up, but assuming he ends up with an ERA around 3.00 and stays healthy–he’s in for a big pay day. The market will cool slightly because of a lack of track record, but again–he’ll be 29. You could give him 5 years without going too deep into his thirties. He won’t get 100 million, though. Kendrick doesn’t have the raw stuff to support that total, but 5/70 might be on the table. I can’t believe I wrote that. But, we’re in a world where 34-year old Kyle Lohse was a bargain at 3/33. Trade him tomorrow.