I detest competitive eating

I have written about many things that I enjoy in the world of analog hobbies. Now perhaps it is time that I write something in the negative column. I detest competitive eating. I always have.

There are many frivolous pursuits in this world, and the realm of analog hobbies almost always involves some sort of consumer product that, if not the object of the hobby, is some sort of supply for the facilitation of it. For instance a stamp collection usually needs nice pages to put them in. Fountain pens need ink. Cameras may need film. In the cases of stationary and such, we use much nicer things than we need, surely a ball point or Ticonderoga pencil, with some notebook paper would do, but we indulge ourselves in the better pieces. That’s all well and good. However, I cannot abide competitive eating.

According to feedingamerica.org, 41 million in the United States alone face food insecurity. 13 million of them are children. However today I read this article, Competitive Eater Downs 501 Chicken Wings For Record-Breaking Win – TIME.

Molly Schuyler is the new champion of the eating world it seems. 501 chicken wings. It makes me sick. I suppose hobby shaming isn’t a thing yet, so here you have it.

Now, I have my excesses. I collect things. I could always do more charity. I buy things I don’t need. I have written about the need to be wary of consumerism, which is a warning to myself as much as anyone. I find competitive eating to be the very worst though. 13 million kids who are not sure where their next meal comes from, and we have people celebrating this.

I grew up in Chattanooga Tennessee. I believe that it is the home of the Krystal burger. I do love Krystal and they are fairly common where I come from. I remember that about the time I was starting to drive, around 2003, Krystal put itself through a revitalization. They remodeled or cleaned up their stores, made fresh new commercials and continued to sell the same great product. They also had Krystal eating competitions. I remember well that I was confused as to why they would do that. If they could sponsor some ninety pound person to eat several hundred Krystals, why were they not hosting free burgers for the homeless, or ensuring that some of the 5.4 million seniors in food insecurity, had a hot meal.

I have always been troubled by seeing hungry people, be it in life or on television. I was never hungry. Not once in my childhood did I miss a meal. I was just always upset by witnessing hunger. Later, as a young adult I walked the streets of Baghdad and saw hungry people. So many hungry kids we didn’t know how to help them all. We also had to transport humanitarian aid packages to refugee camps due to the “resettlement” as they called it when people reclaimed their homes with the downfall of Saddam. We transported and delivered the goods to make sure they got to where they were going safely. I have pictures of the kids who cheered our arrival knowing we brought food, some school supplies, and probably sweets in our pockets. I would post them, but I’m still not certain that is a good idea, for their sakes. I see those kids every time I put food on the table for my kids. It makes me mindful to teach them the ideas of charity and gratitude, to be sure not to waste.

I see those kids when I look at these people too.

I did not come here to chew the fat on this subject, I came here to say exactly what it is. These competitive eaters and the institutions which facilitate them are morally bankrupt, reprehensible, deserving nothing less than the complete disdain of everyone with any kind of human decency. In the case of Schuyler’s latest “achievement,” the culpable party is the entire city of Philadelphia. They put on the Wing Bowl every year, whether the eagles go to the Super Bowl or not. I suppose they are trying to tell us that Philadelphia is a utopia where there are no poor or hungry people? I’m wagering that this is not the case.

A couple of points. Firstly, this is not to include people who finish some larger than average meal and the restaurant gives you a T-shirt or takes your picture. Some of the accomplishments above are like that, but we are not talking five pound pizzas. That is a waste. If your finish the big bob burger or whatever, good for you. You can still take that home. You will probably never be in possession of 501 chicken wings, that when consumed in a single setting for a contest, are an immense waste. Secondly, ignorance is not an excuse. You do not have to be able to quote hunger statistics in this country or any other to be able to tell that competitive eating is for human trash. You do not have to know how many hungry children there are to know that there are too many for this kind of vile spectacle to continue. Other writers have called for competitive eating to be banned, but in many cases, such as this USA Today article, the ban call comes from the dangers posed to the competitors. I do not care one jot about these competitors. I know, it is a poor humanist who says that, I am working on it. Really though, I do not. I do not even agree with a ban. We are America, not the USSR, and we cannot just ban things we do not like, or that or so wasteful that it could be a crime in some places. However, I do say that what we can do is ensure that we spread the word about how many hungry people there are, proper food charities, and the fact that this human garbage…disposal is not an athlete, and not a champion. Oh yeas a champion eater to be sure. Also a champion at putting a finger in the face of every kid who goes to school mostly because they are served a hot meal there, at laughing at every hungry person in the world, a champion at stepping over the poor to receive this year’s “Trump Greatness Award.” This is America for you, and this is why the other countries hate us. You do not have to respect these people. I am not calling for harm, but we can stop supporting the businesses that put on competitions where they can get 10,000$ for overeating during an obesity and eating disorder crisis, nestled just nicely on top of the poverty I have already mentioned. Here’s looking at you Nathan’s hotdogs. We can put these people on every social media website where readers will care. We can call them out for the scumbag gluttons they truly are.

Some people will not like this. I’m ok with that. It is time to pick a side. Please, do not like this, and then go try your hand at pie eating or something. For those who haves the depth to hate this, here is Feeding America. Their Charity Navigator results are very good, so I put my trust in them.

In closing, this is an analog hobby that I will not support. It is one that I will cheer the end of. In anticipation of someone asking, “but what if they donate to Feeding America with their eating winnings?” Firstly, prove it. Secondly, food is still a resource which must be grown, raised, and prepared, and which can be made scarce. Giving currency to the food charity does not cancel out criminal amounts of food waste created by competitive eating.

Brandon Bledsoe

Analog Savage

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Who are the people in your life? A tribute to Felix

This is not going to sound like an analog story, but it is.  One of the first real things for humans was, I argue, other humans.  Real things, as I have said before, excite the senses, stir memory, and give life to the heart.  The first, most fundamental, and the basis (IMO) for all other real things is quite simply, your company, the people in your life.  When we enjoy things, especially analog things, we want to share them with our friends, family, the people whose company we enjoy.

    I started to write this the other night, and now I have had to start over to make the appropriate changes.  When I started it, the man who is at the heart of it would probably have gotten a kick out of the fact that I wrote about him.  I never entertained the idea that he would not get to read it, or to know that I wrote about him, but now that is the reality.  

   Just because I run an analog page does not mean that I exclusively enjoy analog things.  The Savage happens to be a film junkie, especially for those which are deeply rooted in my life, those that are so deeply ingrained that to remove them would most likely cause some form of withdrawal.  Halloween movies are where I would say an easy quarter of these types of favorite live for me.  We love Halloween, almost nothing better in the world.  This past Saturday I took the boys to the local pop up of Spirit Halloween to acquire a costume for the toddler.  This particular Spirit is built into a mall as it turns out, and we went on the right day to wander into a Halloween fair.  Between Spirit and the Halloween fair I came back considerably relieved of some of my spending money.  I love to support people who make things, if the thing they make is worth buying, like these.  

 

    These are amazing, but the winner of the day was the licensed Hocus Pocus merchandise from Spirt

 

   These wonderful items required me to reflect on this film and how I came to love it.  That took me back to 1994 in Soddy Daisy, Tennessee.  I was seven years old, attending Allen Elementary school.  This movie had been a rave at theaters, and the fact that it was going to come out on video (VHS) was heavy buzz at the time.  Some cousins of ours owned a video store, if you come from Soddy Daisy, you may remember Volunteer Video.  It was in the same building as the Soddy Daisy Bi-Lo, on the side, next to the tanning bed.  My mother would let us hang out in there since it was our family that owned it, while she shopped.  I want to put out a disclaimer now, this is being remembered from the perspective of a child, and most of it took place at least 15 years ago or more, I am not clear on exactly who owned what or when, but I am also not writing a history of the Bledsoes and Leffews.  

   Anyhow, the waiting list for a copy of Hocus Pocus at this mom and pop video store where they used rubber bands and paper tags to mark cases where the movie was all rented out was forever long.  Everyone wanted a copy and had gotten on the list well in advance.  The people I remember being there were our cousins (who to this day I call aunt and uncle) Kim and Terry, and Terry’s parents Felix and Loretta.  Later, in some combination of dates, they would all live in the small house built by my great grandfather, Eugene, parent to my grandfather and the before mentioned Loretta.  There were three houses on that plot of land where my first memories come from and where my family had lived since what I understand was just after World War II.  

    My mother still took me to the video store, which was alway fun despite the movie you were after being booked.  Felix was behind the counter (remember they were all family and any weekend spent with my Grandfather or Uncle Fred was partially spent with Kim, Terry, Felix, and Loretta as we were playing with Kim and Terry’s children too) and when he asked what it would be, if I wanted The Nightmare Before Christmas again (he knew my common rentals) I said yes.  He asked if I was sure, and when I gave the affirmative again, he reached under the counter and pulled out a copy of Hocus Pocus with my name on a sticky note asking if I would rather have that.  I could not believe it. There it was.  Just for me.  Plenty of people wanting that movie and there was this copy held for me.  Plenty of people may have been involved from Terry to my Mother having called ahead, but it was the warm face of Felix who handed it across the counter to me.  I never forgot that.  I had always liked Felix, but from then on I felt like he and I were really friends, and it is now twenty-three years on and I wear that movie thin every October.  

   Felix always had a kind word, a smoke, and a polo shirt.  We were always welcome in that house, we ran in and out all day every season the weekends that we were all together, and none of them ever complained at us.  Felix would happily let you sit and watch the Tennessee Volunteers game or whatever movie was on with him.  He was not a perfect man I am sure, and I probably knew him least of all the people who remember him well, but I knew him well enough to know that he was a good man, and that is more than the belief of a child.  Later he would get a Facebook and we would share a word here and there, not as much as my memory of him indicates, and he would like just about anything I posted, especially pictures of my kids and such.  I think the last time I may have seen him for more than ten minutes in person was 2008, and we were on leave from Iraq.  I do wish I had taken more time for him.  I read that he was having surgery and offered a comment, but really it barely registered.  I should have done the real thing.  I should have picked up the phone.  At least I should have messaged him and had a ten minute chat with him.  I am not full of regret, but Felix did not come back after that heart surgery to tell us he was doing well.  He passed away.   

    I believe there are many measures to a person, but the ones that are most important to me are how you treat those who are smaller than you, and how good the stories are that are told about you.  Felix has excelled at both.  Felix, I was already in the process of telling the Hocus Pocus story, but now I have gotten to write more, ironically, because you are not here to read it, and you had a positive influence on a seven year old cousin who grew up to share this film with his friends, family, and especially children.  If I am wrong, and there is any sort of afterlife, then that place is certainly better as of last night, and this world is just a little more time.  Thank you Felix.  

These are Felix as close to the way I remember him.  He was always the same, right down to a kind word, an interest in your day, and a few laughs even if your joke was no good.  

Baseball: The Greatest (Analog) Game

If there is one thing we love here at Analog savage it is the great American game of Baseball.  Let us get one thing straight right now.  I am saying Baseball is American in origin, not in total distinction, the world has picked it up and ran with it, and I love how far the national pastime has spread.

Baseball has always been there for me.  I remember watching the Braves with my family as a kid.  Those were good, easy times.  I did not play as much ball, organized, as I would like to have now.  Baseball was always best with your friends, out on some crap field, slamming balls in a disorganized fashion.  I don’t think I ever said thank you to the guy who taught me to play catch.  I still can, I have him on Facebook.  Might be to weird for him…

Anyhow, here is why things like baseball are so important.  They are real.  Analog games are real.  I am not here to put down someone’s lifestyle, but give me something real any day.  What makes it real?  It is the other people (if the situation calls for them,) it is the tactile experience, the ability to engage your senses.  Without those things, something is just well, it isn’t real in a way.

Before someone throws down and threatens to get their ninja gear, I have played my share of video games, hell I collect them, any of them that multi-player essentially means you have to be in the same room, cords optional.  I have even played a good amount of World of Warcraft, but that was many moons ago and it isn’t the same, not even close.

Real is the feel of your hands on that wood, the smell of the dirt, that crack that surprises you every time you connect with that smooth ball.  It is the uncomfortable dug out seats, it is your kids squeezing in next to you to ask 5000 questions about the game because they want to be close to you, and they want to love that game on tv.  Real is the sound of a slide, you know the sound, when a human being heading for a base sounds similar to a vehicle stopping on gravel.  Baseball is real, and sorry to have to disappoint, football will never be the national pastime.

My team is the Boston Red Sox.  Being a kid from Soddy Daisy (Chattanooga) Tennessee, we watched the Atlanta Braves.  They were the closest pro team.  My brother in law in South Carolina loves them, and I’m fairly certain it is still a proximity thing.  How did I become a Sox fan?  I did it experiencing the real.

2007, The Savage was in Baghdad, Iraq.  I was walking through the PX on the big base one day while we were there, a real treat mind you, and I came across a sporting goods section.  The base we were on did not even have an American owned store, so this blew my mind.  I was angry that these spoiled people had time for such things.  Then I realized, so did we on our base, and I could not blame them for where they were assigned.  What I could do was buy a bunch of gloves and balls, and surprise the guys with a game of catch.  It became our thing.  We made sure they occupied some odd space in our trucks and when the bigwigs had to talk to the Iraqis leaders for hours, we sometimes tossed ball.  It did not occupy every free second, some of them, if they read this, may not remember doing it, but we did it, and we loved it.

One of those guys was from Boston.  He is a great guy, we are friends now.  We do not speak much, but we are friends, and he could ask me for a going to jail favor today and he would have it.  This is the case because there was a time where we lived the real together.  He may not even know he did this, he may suspect based on my Facebook posts, but he was the one.  We talked baseball, and he told me about the Boston Red Sox, and Fenway park, and the team’s history.  I was sold.  I was hooked just in time to pay attention during the 2007 World Series.   Now The Sox, and Fenway are very important in our house.  We even have a “Fenway Wall” where we chronicle our trips to the park to see games.

We do opening day right too.  There will be more photos at the bottom for that one.  I wrote an entry for the first time we went to see a game at Fenway, my oldest son and I, it is here.  It is about the real.

You get a limited amount of time here.  Do not waste it.  Do not be that person on World of Warcraft with their kids begging them for five minutes attention.  A game of catch transcends gender, it is timeless, and it is the open forum.  You look for a way to connect with someone?  Get to the real, share something real.  Real can be found in some video games, but there is a fine line.

Baseball is the top of the analog games.  It can even involve a television set, because my family and I, my friends and I, we are connected to something during that time.  We get the senses involved, we get the right hats and shirts on.  I even found a way to make it cross lines.  I recently took up scoring games.  What a mind blowing way to get deeper involved, to experience the game on a level I never knew.  We play ball, we collect the cards, we watch games as ritual, but scoring a game was like a drug.  Try it sometime.  Learning how may be a little daunting, the best advice I can give, to clarify the tutorials, just score your team.


I want you to know the beauty of the real, of the analog, and baseball is as good a place to start as any.  Go to a game, eat a hot dog, play catch with your kids and neighbor, have an old worn out glove and stick of American Ash cut in Louisville you write your story on.

Baseball was best summed up in the movie “Field of Dreams” by James Earl Jones’s character Terrence Mann, “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again.”

I have talked enough, but here I will leave you with some resources for more on the greatest game in the world, and some summations of my take on ball.  Never forget, the first point and most important point is to experience baseball, then read about it and watch movies as it invades your soul.

  • Bats are made of wood, and Louisville Slugger is the best
  • The Art of Manliness made an awesome post about the 15 Best Baseball Movies, no need for me to re write it.
  • Here is some nifty info and a good score card download
  • Doping can and should be fought
  • I do not care about the designated hitter rule
  • Baseball cards have proliferated into madness, but Topps is best
  • The evidence says Joe didn’t do it, and it would be amazing to see him reinstated 100 years later
  • The best feeling is when the ball lands in glove
  • If it is not fun, stop playing, but never forget that you are there to win.
  • There will be a last game of catch, don’t let it be because you said no too many times and they stopped asking.

Ganger-Bjorn, The Analog Savage

Never should we ever…

Right now my adventures, and for that matter my blogging is at a minimum, the semester started just under two weeks ago and the laser focus is back.  That is not to say that college is not an adventure.  I have already taken this farther than you ever could have convinced me back when that I would.  I have committed fully to the experience, minus living in a dorm and such, I am married and have a child after all.  Maybe that is why I always show up to school with a smile on my face, I live with one child, not five thousand adolescents experiencing freedom for the first time.  I am sorry if that seems low, but I have lived in the barracks, it seems to be about the same.

Anyhow I have created a small group of pencil junkies at school.  Two of them asked for care packages when I took my little trip to CW earlier in the month, and they were well provisioned.  Now in all fairness one of those people was Carl.  I already knew Carl, the fact that I applied to the college he works at is pure coincidence.  The other person is Tyler, who graduated right after we met, but we decided we would make such good friends that he drove from Rhode Island to come and see us, talk pencils and watch X-files.

These two are innocent of something I have committed before.  I have witnessed this going on some at school and at various places at large and this is just my take on it.  No matter what our passion or how passionate we are about it, never should we ever be snobs.

I have done it, I probably still do, although I would say I do it in the privacy of my own home, but even then I fight it.  I have recognized my need to be appreciative and thankful and I try to work on it.  That is why I am here, with an exhortation against stationary snobbery.

First let us recognize that many of the pencils, pens and notebooks we love are luxury items from a relative perspective.


It is ok to admit it.  They are luxuries, they are indulgences, they are the exploration of our passion.  We also cannot allow them to be what causes us to belittle something that is ALL that someone else has.  This is not a rant on equality.  It is simply a consideration.  Imagine a middle school child among us whose family keeps them supplied with all their needs school supplies included, but a blackwing is simply out of reach.  That does not mean that we should not write about them, that we should not post pictures of them.  I simply beg that we stop to consider before we describe something that is functional as “cheap” or “garbage.”  Let us consider some of our less expensive utensils and paper.

There is very little to be called fancy about these items.  They are filler paper in a binder, a notebook with no name, and pencils selected from the brands of staples, CVS, office depot, Dixon, and the novelty holiday sort given away at school parties.  They are also the the items who witness the labor and drive of those who want to succeed.  Those who have had the supplies they needed and maybe had to erase a little harder to use the hard red eraser, but wanted to ensure their homework was perfect.  As I said they are not fancy.  The paper has no name, the pencils are mostly named after the store they are bought at, but you can put a point on them and do work.

When I was in school my mother made sure that within reason we got the supplies we wanted when the school year started.  FiveStar and trapper keeper were common, along with boxes of Ticonderoga and Elmer’s.  Now that I am paying for my school supplies I still buy the brands I like for college, but I stare very hard at what a five star notebook costs (and for the price realized I could take school notes on Moleskine) and wondered why my mother didn’t tell me I was insane that paper is paper.

I am not innocent in this.  I must constantly flog myself with the memories of Iraqi children who were living in relocation camps who aside from probably being excited to have enough to eat, could not contain themselves when they found out that we had sent word home that there were schools, but no supplies and people had come through and shipped us boxes and boxes of supplies.  The generosity of the human spirit never ceases to amaze me.  This is my exhortation, that before we call something garbage, before we describe it as cheap, that we consider for a moment those who treasure these tools as their own, that they are more careful with their no name number two than we are with a 602 due to having forgotten.

I write this not out of self righteousness, but out of the awareness that I have never shown the gratitude and joy that I saw on the face of a very specific Iraqi girl from the camps when I sat down beside her on the hood of a small broken yellow car in the camp, and from my pack pulled out a small backpack full of supplies for her.  We should live to achieve that kind of satisfaction and appreciation.

Hrolf The Ganger.

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