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NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 16: Actors Jeff Bridges (L) and John Goodman attend "The Big Lebowski" Blu-ray release at the Hammerstein Ballroom on August 16, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic)
D Dipasupil/FilmMagic

Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we're talking about RedZone, dead friendships, pit toilet joints, garlicky snacks, and more.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: I’m out next week on a brief medical leave. No, it’s not another brain surgery. I’ll be fine. Really, it’s you I worry about. Will you be OK without me? How will you handle being left all alone, without me around to complain about memes? Should you talk to someone about this? I just wanna make sure that all of you are okay.

Anyway, I’ll be back here in two weeks. In the meantime, your letters:

Larry:

Could you analyze the dominant run of “dude” as the ubiquitous word? I feel like it was the word up until 2012 or so? Then “bro” stormed in and took the title.

I just looked up the origins of “dude” and learned that it has surprising history. Turns out that “dude” was, at its inception, an abbreviation for “doodle,” as in “Yankee doodle dandy.” The original dudes weren’t stoners or skaters (or both, as the two identities go hand in hand), but 18th-century hipsters who dressed fancy and either liked the finer things or wanted to appear as if they did. “I say Charlie, look at that foppish young dude selling handmade penny farthings on the corner! Quite the cut-up, that one!”

Use of the term evolved from there to the much more casual definition that you and I know well. There was rumor that went around my grade school that a “dude” actually meant an ingrown butt hair, but that rumor appears to have been false. A dude was just a dude. And “dude,” as an expression, came to take on a handful of related meanings, as outlined here by Rob Schneider before he became whatever he is now:

This is how I use “dude.” I also use it a LOT whenever I’m watching a game and something outlandish happens. I cry out DUUUUUUUUUDE! from my recliner and then everyone else in the family looks up because they think that something important happened—a nuclear attack, aliens landing, a presidential assassination—rather than just my team fumbling for the 9,000th time.

I’m probably an anachronism here, because when you’re 47 everything you do is old-man shit. My kids might use “dude” on occasion, but not as often or with as much gusto as I do. Like Larry said, they use “bro.” Or, more specifically, “bruh.” Can you guys vacuum the house? “Bruh.” Oh hey, Dad ate the last of the pizza. “Bruh.” Guys, we’re going away this weekend, so you can’t go out with your friends on Saturday night. “Bruh.” I am up to my ass in bruhs all day long. What the fuck, dude?

I don’t know when this transition took place (for reference, I added “bro” to my verbal arsenal back in college, which was in 1994), but it was inevitable. Slang changes the same way everything else does. When my kids are my age and their own kids are calling each other “bub” all day and all night long, you’ll know that everything has come full circle.

Kevin:

Once you read my question it will be obvious but I have no musical training or talent. Getting that out of the way, what the hell is the point of the bridge in every damn song? You have a few kick ass verses, a catchy chorus, maybe a solo and that should be that. Who thought it was a good idea to jam something in that sounds nothing like what you heard before or will hear after? I look forward to your reply and lots of haughty comments below. 

I have an exercise for you, Kevin. I want you to go and listen to “American Pie” by Don McLean. All eight and half minutes of it. All six verses. All six choruses. Listen to that song all the way through and you’ll think to yourself, “You know, I could really use a break in all this repetition. Please give me a break in repetition. DEAR SWEET LORD DOES THIS FUCKING SONG GO ON JUST LIKE THIS FOREVER AND EVER?!”

It does, and THAT is why almost every great song needs a bridge. A bridge breaks up a song with another layer of melody and/or rhythm that still works within the context of the greater piece. It also connects the first two verses/choruses to the finale of the song, hence the term “bridge.” I know a lot of songs where the bridge is my favorite part, even while there are still a handful of classics that are deft enough to leave the bridge out. There’s no rule that a song has to have a bridge or vice versa, but their value is obvious if you listen to enough great shit.

Also, a guitar solo IS a bridge. Keep that in mind. Think of all the tasty riffs you’d miss in a world without bridges, amigo.

Chad:

I miss Andrew Siciliano. Am I the only one? I hate the new guy and the lack of a coherent switching between games.

A bit of context for the rest of you: Andrew Siciliano was the host of Red Zone Channel for DirecTV back when DirecTV owned the rights to Sunday Ticket. If you had NFL RedZone à la carte from your cable provider, you got Scott Hanson as your host instead. The twain never met. But now that YouTubeTV has the Ticket, Hanson does Red Zone for everyone. Like Chad, I prefer Siciliano, who was smoother in toggling between games, always telling the audience when he was going from one broadcast to another. Siciliano also has just enough of a sense of humor to let you know that he’s an actual person. Hanson, by contrast, is 20 percent louder and dumber. And, as Chad notes, he’ll flip from game to game without bothering to note it. It’s kind of like having your brother-in-law in charge of the remote.

So I miss Siciliano, who’s since been busted down to NFL Network host. That said, I got used to Hanson’s RedZone after about a week of watching it. You could have Gilbert Gottfried in charge of RedZone and I’d still be glued to it for seven hours every Sunday. It’s like if you get a new crack dealer who wears a hat that bothers you. Are you gonna REFUSE to buy crack from the hat guy? You are certainly not.

Mike:

Now that Taylor Swift is an NFL mascot of some sort, do you think they regret not going hard on getting her to be the halftime performer at the Super Bowl? (Please feel free to spend one sentence on this question and then use it as a jumping off point to give hot takes about the halftime show or Usher.)

Oh, the NFL has definitely asked Taylor Swift to do the Super Bowl halftime show. I bet they ask her every day and twice on Sunday. But those halftime performers don’t get paid, so she never needs to say yes and never will. Taylor Swift is the biggest pop star in the world. She’s worth nine figures and can fill a stadium on her own, without a football game getting in the way. Taylor Swift is, in certain ways, BIGGER than the NFL, which is why Roger & co. are so eager to have her come to every game. So if she ever does agree to do the halftime show, that’s when you’ll know that her career has actually taken a dip.

That brings us to Usher, who is this season’s halftime act and who hasn’t had a number one album in this country since 2012. I think you can see why Usher was willing to do this shit. It’s not just the dad rock acts that are for geezers anymore.

Robert:

Why aren't garlic-flavored snacks (especially chips) more common? Garlic is universally beloved, and almost every good recipe starts by tossing onion & garlic into some hot oil. Is the flavor too strong? These parmesan-garlic pita chips really aren't scratching the itch for me. 

With a few exceptions like garlic bread, garlic isn’t the predominant flavor in most of the dishes that contain it. It accentuates the flavor of marinara sauce, roast chicken, hummus, etc. But it’s usually not THE flavor. It’s an adjective. A bridge ingredient, if you will. So that’s why garlic is almost never the headline flavor of a snack. That's why those pita chips let Robert down. You need something else in there.

Barbecue potato chips have garlic in them, but not just garlic. Same with a lot of other shit. I swear I’ve bought one of those limited edition potato chip flavors—the ones that Lay’s puts out as a consumer test run—that was nothing but garlic flavor. They were good, but I still wanted my usual potato chip flavors instead.

Cory:

Why do NFL players stand on the sidelines instead of sitting on a bench? All other sports, there's a bench of sorts. NBA, seats. NHL, bench. MLB, bench. Soccer, bench. In the NFL, everyone stands, except for starters and players/position coaches looking at those tablets Tom Brady used to toss around like a pissy little three-year-old. If you're an inactive dude with a knee/leg/any lower body injury, your ass is standing around for four hours. What the fuck is that shit?

Because if you sit on the bench in football, you can’t see anything. It’s not like the NBA, where the bench also happens to be a front-row seat to all the action on the court. Sit on a bench during a football game and there are 500 people standing between you and the sideline boundary: teammates, coaches, trainers, water boys, Rob Lowe for some reason, etc. Most players, even the hurt ones, want to see what’s going on out there.

Also, they want to be seen standing over there. Take it from a veteran benchwarmer. I never actually sat on the bench as a third-stringer. That bench stayed good and cold. If you sit down as a backup, everyone thinks you’re lazy. You’re not cheering your teammates on. You’re not staying loose on the sideline. You’re occupying a spot reserved exclusively for starters who are just coming off the field to get chewed out by the assistant coaches. You’re dogging it, and you can’t be seen dogging it. So I always stood. We all did. That’s just how football works.

And again, I wanted to watch the fucking game! What was I gonna do, ask someone in the crowd how our offense was looking?

Eric:

Recently I noticed a guy in Onewheel rider gear (knee & elbow pads, combination helmet and sun hat with helmet cam on top) milling around my house. When I went outside, I found that he had plugged his skateboard thing into an exterior outlet of my house. When I asked him why he couldn't use his own electricity, he claimed he didn't have any (probably the kind of thing you say when you're being unexpectedly called out), and told me not to be a dick about it because electricity doesn't cost anything. My house, my rules. But given that electricity is actually really cheap, and that I live in a place that sources most of its power from renewables, should I just let anybody plug in? 

No. Fuck that asshole. You wanna plug into someone else’s shit, you ask. That’s just a common courtesy. Who the fuck is this punk to call YOU a dick when he’s hanging around outside your house unannounced and uninvited? He could’ve been a serial killer for all you knew. The gall of this prick. Probably would’ve raided your fridge without asking if you’d let him.

This isn’t a fucking commune. You can’t just help yourself to other people’s shit. I could go all college kid on you and be like OOH PROPERTY LAWS ARE BAD or whatever, but that’s not how I operate in the real world. In the real world, you don’t fuck around outside my house without letting me know who you are and why you’re there. Otherwise I’m getting my baseball bat.

And who rides a Onewheel besides a total dipshit?

HALFTIME!

Mike:

You used hootenanny in a tweet this weekend. Top ten favorite words that sound funny and make you giggle, but are actually good words? Your choice whether or not to rank them.

I won’t rank them, because there’s no need. Here are 10 vocab words that greatly amuse me:

  • Kerfuffle
  • Donnybrook
  • Analgesic
  • Tipple
  • Hullabaloo
  • Beefy
  • Festoon
  • Dragoon
  • Gobbledygook
  • Giblet

Anything with a “oo” is usually gonna do the job on me. I’m a sucker for that.

“Kerfuffle,” by the way, has become an in-joke among my family. Back when my kids were small, my wife read that word aloud to them from a book, but mispronounced it “kerfluffle,” which made the kids laugh so hard that they ended up saying it to each other at random moments later on to crack each other up. This caused many a kerfuffle at the dinner table, I’ll have you know.

Joel:

How visually famous do you think you are, from 1 (faint recognition) to 10 (OMG IT’S SO AND SO)? Do you get recognized by someone every time you go out? Occasionally? Rarely? Have you ever not gone somewhere because you didn’t want to deal with being recognized and approached? Is that part of the reason for your reclusiveness, or is that just Drew being Drew?

There’s no way to answer this question without sounding like an ass, but I’ll brave it anyway. Joel, I am the exact right amount of famous. Call it a three, right in the “well-known” tier. No one stares at me when I go out. I can come and go as I please without fear of being mobbed, assaulted, or having the paparazzi snap photos of me with bedhead. I get recognized out in public only a handful of times every year, and when I DO get recognized, it’s almost always by a Defector reader who treats me like an old friend.

And if I ever want to feel famous famous, all I have to do is have a book signing or a live podcast, and then suddenly HEY PRESTO! There’s a crowd of fans who know who I am and whisper “That’s Drew” to each other accordingly. It’s the perfect setup. I’d never want to be more famous than this, and neither would you. Being merely well known is just right.

Daniel:

Recently I had a good friend go through the throes of divorce with his wife of 10+ years. My wife and I opened up our home to him, so he could hang out whenever he wanted. We cooked for him, included him in our plans and made him feel like a part of our family (my wife was pregnant at the time). After a year and a half he found a partner (super happy for him!). But at the same time, he started ducking texts from me and generally ignoring us as friends (this has been ongoing for well over a year). We feel used, and I feel like I barely know this person anymore.

During all of this my wife and I had a healthy and incredible baby boy. Reading most of your stuff dealing with parenthood, I think you can relate that being a parent of a newborn and going on paternity leave can feel like an incredibly isolating time for a dad and that men are pretty horrible checking in with their friends. I never heard from this person during this time in my life, increasing my frustration. I cannot help but feel bitter. I'm ready to stop trying to be this person's friend and give up on the friendship even though two years ago we would have said we were each other's best friend. I'm stuck here and I don't know what to do, hoping you have some advice for me. 

When I took a semester abroad in England in 1997, I made fast friends with another American guy in my program. We hung out every night. We got shitfaced. We snuck fifths of whiskey into the movies. We ate lunch at Mongolian Wok. We quoted our favorite movies to each other over and over. We had those deep talks you have when you’re young and you’re best friends: about family, death, sex, big dreams, all of that. He lived in Manhattan. As a coincidence, I was gonna work my first summer internship in Manhattan right after we got back. It was the perfect set-up. We’d be buds for life.

So I get back to the States, start my internship, and call my new bestie. Nothing. I saw him maybe one time that summer, and he was friendly but barely more than that. It was almost as if we’d never met before that. He was never rude to me. He never pulled a Banshees of Inisherin and was like, “I don’t like you anymore.” He just let our friendship die straight away. I was hurt, but also baffled. I was the exact same person I’d been in England, wasn’t I? Was I different? Did I say something wrong to him just before we left? What the fuck happened? All of this gnawed at me for years, because I liked being friends with him and was, in a way, heartbroken that I wasn’t any longer. Friends grow apart like this in middle school, you know? It’s disorienting to have it happen when you’re older than that.

But eventually, I came to accept that I didn’t do anything wrong. I was still the same person and the same good friend. He was just an asshole. It’s not FUN to come to that epiphany. I would’ve preferred he not be an asshole and that we stayed friends. But it was what it was, and I had to learn the hard way.

So Daniel, you’re not alone. Your former good friend turned out to be a dick. It happens to the best of us. Cut him loose and get on with your life.

Hoaks:

I just got off a long flight from Osaka, and I was surprised to find that the plane (Air Canada) had every James Bond movie. It got me thinking, what other collections should they have permanently? The Simpsons is the obvious choice (seasons 1-10 only). What else you got?

Before I get all listy, I’d just like to spend a moment to appreciate the improvement in in-flight entertainment options that have occurred over my lifetime. This is where I go all old man and tell you back in my day, you used to get one movie per flight, if you were lucky. And it was always some dogshit movie like Michael. You only got a good movie if you were on an eastbound flight to New Zealand. It was very frustrating. Now I can open up my laptop on any flight, connect to the airline’s WiFi, and watch one of 200 movies and TV shows on demand. It’s fucking GREAT, and I’m glad I’ve lived to see it happen. I’ve knocked a lot of movies on my to-see list off thanks to this development (although perhaps I should have saved Everything Everywhere All At Once for a slightly larger screen).

So if I’m ever bored on a flight now, it’s strictly by choice. I’m rarely left wanting for more options in the Delta in-flight catalog. But fuck it, let’s put the entire Criterion Collection in there. And also all of Killing Eve. I heard that was really good.

Rory:

I think that the salary cap (and especially the salary floor) is inherently a good thing. Sure, the players are still getting fucked by the owners, but that’s more a result of the CBA. I look at the cap/floor and see it enforcing parity. Teams generally can’t go buy up every good player and try to make a super team (I know there are obvious exceptions, but I think the rule still stands), and they can’t make the bullshit “small market” excuse when they don’t want to pay their players. Compared to MLB and the various European soccer leagues, it makes the NFL season more exciting when at least a third of the league could reasonably make a claim that they have a shot this year, and that you have to try really hard to flat out tank. Am I crazy here, or is there something I’m missing?

Really what you’re praising is the floor and not the cap. You just want to make sure that every team is obligated to try. The floor does this for the NFL, as does the relegation system over in Europe. As for the cap, I’m conditioned to think of it as “good,” as Rory does, because it enforces parity and keeps a team like the Cowboys from outspending other teams 5:1 to buy a title.

But payroll doesn’t automatically guarantee rings. The Mets had a payroll this season that beat second place (the Yankees) by over $64 million, and they didn’t make the playoffs at all. The Dodgers’ payroll was double that of Arizona’s and they got swept. The Orioles got the top seed in the AL despite having the third lowest payroll in all of MLB (they too got swept, but fuck them and fuck John Angelos). Seven of the top 10 spenders made the playoffs, but of course that means they all still had to play one another. So money is a component of winning, but not the only one.

Thus, if you think of the cap as being a net good, you’re in possession the kind of GM brain that owners want you to have. Every time owners ask for a new stadium or any other kind of handout, they always pitch that taxpayer money as being necessary to “remain competitive.” If you buy into that idea, you’re buying into a lot of their other bullshit as well.

You’re also accepting the idea that parity is good. What if it isn’t? What if it’s NOT the greatest thing in the world that every NFL team has a glaring flaw? So what if the Bills can beat the piss out of Miami one week and then barely beat the Giants another? Is that really ideal? What if I wanna see a historically awesome team that isn’t forced to dissolve itself once its best players ask for a raise? What if Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig could have only been teammates for two years instead of 10?

I’m not trying to be being smarmy by asking these questions. I’m just saying that there’s a tradeoff involved with parity. You get balance. You get hope. But you might not get teams that you would have killed to see. I know that a lot of European soccer leagues are top-heavy, but that makes for a lot of titanic matchups, and also a lot of potentially historic upsets. College football is equally imbalanced, and yet I find it riveting. There are a lot of ways to skin the cat here. The only reason you might lean toward a capped sport because it’s all you‘ve ever known. Take the governor off and you never know what might happen.

Email of the week!

Cody:

My girlfriend (now wife) and I were about to head out for a backpacking overnight that was 11 miles each way. I decided to visit the pit toilet just before loading up the pack. I am 6'6", so I could see the sill below the steel mesh window that would be hidden to most people. I noticed a decently sized, and slightly desiccated, roach stashed there. While I rarely get stoned any more, my senses told me this was a viable roach. So I slipped it into the pack. Fast forward to Mile 15, within 20 hours carrying a heavy pack on novice legs. I divulged my hidden treasure to my partner and she was in. That roach was perfect, and has become legend for us. Would you partake of the pit toilet roach?

Yup.

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