Discover more from Magik
An NHL Ban on Pride Tape vs. Comfort Buns
Baking Resistance, Hobbit-Style
Let’s talk professional team sports (in general) and the National Hockey League (NHL) (in particular) and Hobbit-baking (as an answer). I’ll set the table by noting something about team sports that goes unnoticed because it’s the cultural air we breathe. When I presented as a dude, trying to maintain a façade of manliness, I worshiped pro sports, which are about keeping an object on-target:
The baseball, lined into the gap, over the fence, or bobbled by a fielder, while our heroes run home.
The soccer sphere, guided via sleight-of-foot past the one man who can take it in hand.
The seed-shaped American football, handed off, passed, kicked, and fumbled, the victors those who, wielding brute force against the enemy, plant it in the turf beyond the goal line.
The crisply cylindrical puck, compact and dangerous, slapped through the needle of a frozen waste, again past the one man who might snare it to save the day or miss it, the opposing tribe winning its goal.
The basketball, wildly bouncing, tamed by giants in sprinting, dancing battle, till the winner plunges it into a basket past the reach of his foes as time runs out.
As physical as pro sports are, their standard for success follows an abstract calculus every bit as precise as the guidance system of an armed missile. Pro sports enterprises shape every play, stratagem, move, position, and decision via statistical analysis, from the assessment of talent all the way to concessions revenue.
Except when they can’t.
Knee & NHL Jerks
Some decisions are beyond numbers, where the good-old-boy fraternity jerks its knee.
Like the NHL just did, when it banned players from using rainbow tape on their sticks. Not because the tape was less effective in gripping the puck, making a saucer pass, or launching a 90-mph slapshot. Banning Pride tape wasn’t a statistical or fiduciary calculation. It was a spasm at having lost control.
Yes, in other sports, some players have opted out of wearing Pride regalia on Pride Nights. Being trans, I think their opt-out is wrong-headed and warp-hearted, but I also realize they want to feel 100% able to perform on the field for fans’ entertainment. Somehow, in their estimation, wearing Pride colors interferes with that, even though such an opt-out only fuels anti-LGBTQIA+ hatred and violence.
A Control Thing
Uniforms are a vivid means of control in sports. If every player opted to wear any old garb on the field, they’d have a tougher time controlling that object they toss around. So, like armies in battle, sports teams wear uniforms, if only to defray friendly fire. Pride tape smacked of something out of control and statistical analysis. So, the NHL banned it
Team Pride Nights are promotions to foster interest and revenue. They’re not about supporting an ideology but the calculation that more money can be made from having a Pride Night than not. Pro sports leagues are about upping fan base, getting butts in seats, and ensuring those fans will maintain allegiance via viewership, tickets, merchandise, and most importantly, a loyalty that keeps fans coming back. Ultimately, professional team sports aren’t about winning but about making money for their owners and shareholders. For the league, competition isn’t really between the teams on the ice but rather competing against any other entertainment alternative. NHL owners shape fan experience to generate profit. Pride nights are one of many ways they corral our allegiance.
The Grace of No Longer Being One of the Guys
For me presenting as a young male, professional team sports offered an experience in which I could think I was one of the guys. Yet, team sports endlessly told me that I didn’t belong.
Though I could play pick-up versions of the games, there was a huge divide between me and the bros who were good without having to think about it. And even when I played those sports with a degree of skill, it was never believable, least of all to me. So, yes, I was that intellectually and imaginatively precocious kid the jocks bullied. Still, I persisted, mastering sports in terms of knowledge and devotion, personally identifying with my teams and stars.
Of course, my teams didn’t always triumph, and even when they did, I still felt empty. They were celebrating and hoisting a trophy. I was left wondering “Is this all there is?” Lost upon me was that it was a money-making venture for the rich men who groomed the jocks who bullied me. In spite of that, I couldn’t help but feel that the very best of those athletes portrayed a grace and skill that transcended money, just like transition showed me I was something miraculous and magikal, beyond having to identify myself with anything but being truly me.
When I transitioned, I no longer lived vicariously through the achievements of my sports teams and heroes. The charm was gone for me. My old naivete gave way to something deeper, beyond the money, the identity, the violence.
My Own Knee Jerk
When, a few days ago, I read James Finn’s excellent post on the ban, I texted Pam:
I’ve thought about things since then and realized that I, too, jerk a knee now and then. I was looking for an excuse to repudiate the game—something to salve my disenchantment at having lost a sense of magik that I once felt, deeper than my illusions, naïveté, and lost trust.
A Deeper Love
A devoted Pittsburgh Penguins fan, Pam adores hockey for all the best reasons: the achievements against the odds, the personal stories and struggles of the players and coaches who’ve devoted their lives to the sport, and the sheer fun of cheering on her Pens.
It’s something precious that sees past the cynicism and profiteering. She takes joy in every goal, even in a game the Pens are losing badly. Pam’s devotion recalls to me hobbit-like joy in the moment, with the people you’ve grown to love, not despite their warts but because of them. The comfort and authenticity I see in her, and in myself since I transitioned, reminds me that there’s a deeper magik at work, that persists even in the ashes of Mordor.
So, of course we’re going to keep following the Pens because Pam’s onto something bigger than bans, Pride tape, and crass capitalism.
She’s about joy. The joy of living and enjoying this life … like a hobbit savors Pumpkin-Pie Cinnamon Rolls. The money-raking fuckers won’t allow Pride tape, eh? Gawd, they should gather their senses around a second breakfast.
These days, I bake my resistance.
Pumpkin-Pie Cinnamon Rolls
Prep Time: 45m, + 2.5-3.5hr prove Cook Time: 25-30min Total Time: 3hrs, 45min to 4hrs, 45min Difficulty: Medium Servings: Yield: 12-16 rolls/buns
Stand mixer bowl, or regular mixing bowl (if doing by hand)
Silicone spatula, or wooden spoon
Stand mixer, w/ dough hook attachment (or knead by hand) & whisk attachment
13x9 (33x22cm) baking tin/dish
Cooking spray, for oiling proving container and baking tin
1¼C (300ml) whole milk
¼C (50g) butter, unsalted
4C (500g) strong bread flour
½T (10g) salt
1 packet (10g) instant yeast
¼C (80g) sourdough starter/levain (optional)
1 lg egg
½C (100g/1 stick) butter, softened
1C packed (200g) brown sugar
½C (120ml) pumpkin puree
2T cinnamon, powdered
2t pumpkin spice
1t five spice
½t ginger, powdered
pinch sea salt
½C (120ml) heavy cream
2C (180g) powdered (confectioner's) sugar
¼C (60ml) coffee (optional) [I unabashedly stole this ingredient from
3T (40g) unsalted butter, melted
1t vanilla extract
DOUGH & 1ST PROVE
1. Warm milk and butter in saucepan till butter melts and mixture's lukewarm (110°F/43°C).
2a. While milk and butter heat, sift flour into mixer bowl.
2b. Add salt to one side, yeasts to the other.
3. Add egg and 3⁄4 milk-butter mixture to flour-yeast mixture and stir into soft dough.
4. At med-low speed (KitchenAid 4), knead for 5 mins (adding flour or milk in small amounts if dough is too wet/dry), till dough is smooth and not sticky. (Set aside saucepan to use for filling.)
(Baking B*tch Tip #1: Do the windowpane test with the dough: if you can stretch it between your fingers till you see light through it, without tearing, then dough's properly kneaded.)
5. Put dough in oiled proving container, place bowl in plastic proving bag, or cover bowl with tea towel. Prove 2-3 hrs, till double in size.
(Baking B*tch Tip #2: If you don’t have a proving drawer, but you do have an over-the-stove microwave with a stove light nestled under it, turn on the light over the stove. Close covered dough bowl in microwave. The warmth of the bulb and the sealed microwave interior creates an ideal proving environment. I do this for all my yeast-based doughs.)
6. While dough proves, oil/grease/spray baking tin/dish and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
7a. In mixer bowl, whisk (high speed [KitchenAid 8- 10] if using mixer) all filling ingredients till combined.
7b. Pour filling mixture into saucepan in which you warmed milk and butter and set to med-low heat.
7c. Stir continuously till brown sugar is dissolved and mixture is no longer grainy (160°F/71°C), about 6- 10min. Set aside to cool.
ASSEMBLY & 2ND PROVE
8. Onto workspace heavily dusted with flour, tip out proven dough and sprinkle dough and rolling pin with more flour.
9a. Roll to 24x15in (60x40cm) rectangle, long side facing you. Dough should be 1⁄4-3⁄8 in (6-9mm) thick.
9b. Tack down far long side so dough sticks to workspace.
10. Pour filling onto dough, and with spatula, spread filling across rectangle, leaving 1in (2.5cm) border between dough edge on all four sides.
11. Starting at long side next to you, roll dough tightly into cylindrical spiral all the way to far long side. Seal with seam under dough cylinder.
12. With scotch blade, cut cylinder into 12-16 slices, depending on desired thickness, and place in baking tin/dish.
13. Put baking tin/dish in proving bag or otherwise cover, proving for another 20-30min, till double in size.
(Baking B*tch Tip #3: Do Steps 1-13 the day/night before and rest rolls in fridge to arrest prove. Next morning, put baking dish in proving bag and into proving drawer to rise 30-40 min, till double in size. This gives you time, hobbit-like, to eat your first breakfast and enjoy a pipe. The cinnamon rolls, of course, can be your second breakfast.)
POST-ASSEMBLY & BAKE
14. During 2nd prove, preheat oven to 375°F/190°C (400°F/200°C, High Altitude).
15. Warm cream till lukewarm (110°F/43°C).
16. After 2nd prove, pour heavy cream evenly all over rolls, letting it soak in and down around rolls for 5-10 min.
17. Bake 25-30 min till mystically golden brown. (Check rolls at 20 min. If turning too brown, cover loosely with foil for remainder of bake).
18. During bake, prepare coffee and melt butter, allowing both to cool.
19. After removing rolls from oven, cool (in baking tin/dish) on wire rack.
20. While rolls cool, sift powdered sugar into mixer bowl.
21a. Add melted butter, and whisk on high speed till combined (1-2 min).
21b. Add vanilla and whisk 1 min.
22. [Optional] Add coffee, and whisk at lower speed, till smooth. (Adjust consistency of icing by adding small amounts of milk or powdered sugar.)
23. Pour/spread coffee glaze on cooled rolls.
24. Serve immediately, storing leftovers (heh, like there'll be any!) in airtight container for up to a week.