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Funbag

An Ode To Shredded Cheese

SEATTLE, WA - FEBRUARY 26: Cheese is displayed for sale at Amazon Go Grocery on February 26, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. The store in Seattles Capitol Hill neighborhood is Amazons first large retail grocery location that uses the cashier-free model. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
David Ryder/Getty Images

Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s new novel while you’re at it. Today, we’re talking about deodorant, tall people, Thanksgiving, jerking off, and more.

Your letters:

Kevin:

Hi Drew. What’s the best flavor of pre-shredded cheese to eat straight out of the bag? I’m going with Mexican blend. Ideally out of the big-ass Costco bag. Kirkland Signature will be listed as the cause on my death certificate.

I wanna say a different cheese just to assert myself but I can’t. You’re right. Stuffing your face with shredded taco cheese is an ideal way to spend any night. My 14-year-old will pour it into a bowl and eat it straight with a fork (I asked her to use a fork because she was getting shreds all over the goddamn place when she was bare-handing it) as a snack, and it’s the right move. I respect it. When I grate cheese for fajita night etc, you better believe I’m eating half that pile like it’s free Big League Chew. Why does shitty cheese taste better when shredded? I’m afraid that’s a question that only SCIENCE can answer. That’s why I did a lazy Google search and found this Tumblr post that explains it in great and super fucking dorky fashion. Here’s the money part:

Grated cheese tastes different to solid cubes, because there is comparatively more surface area to interact with the taste buds on your tongue. 

It’s always about surface area, my friends. To pad the word count here, I’ll add that if shredded cheese interacts more with your taste buds, then it stands to reason that said shredded cheese will be even more satisfying when it’s noticeably sharp in flavor and/or is a mix of varying cheeses. Well, the average pouch of Mexican bland includes cheddar, the king of sharp cheeses, plus four or five other cheeses. So Kevin’s take up there isn’t simply a matter of opinion. It’s got technical backing supporting it. The cheese is the vaccine, essentially.

By the way, now that you know this, make sure you buy the FINELY shredded shit. That’s when you know you’re in good hands.

Ryan:

When can we, as a society, just agree to do away with the charade of saying “I’m either on the other line or away from my desk” on a voicemail greeting? Am I supposed to believe that the ONLY reason they don’t pick up is because they physically can’t and not because everybody screens every single call these days? 

That’s just boilerplate professional-ese, which means it’ll never go away so long as Americans are working desk jobs. Like if I call my sister at her job and I get that voicemail, I’m like OH SHIT SHE’S IN JOB MODE RIGHT NOW. If you’re a brand manager at Procter & Gamble, you’re not gonna have a voicemail greeting that’s like YO! IT’S RYAN! YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO AT THE BEEP, KIDDOS! This isn’t 1993. You need to sound as boring as every other cubicle drone so that the vendor calling you for a mass order of baking soda isn’t like, “Who the fuck is this weirdo?”

Also, it’s an easy (if annoying) way for the person on the other end of the line to confirm that they really did reach someone at their place of business, and not at the private meth lab. Modern industry is riddled with inessential language like that. I know because I had to record that very same greeting onto my own office phone back in the day. I remember the first time I recorded it, I was like, “Christ, I sound like a total fucking pud.” But that’s what people expected when they called the esteemed offices of DDB Needham. They wanted a pud, and they got one.

I think society has already agreed to do away with the charade of voicemail altogether anyway. The only reason you’d ever leave a voicemail now is for professional reasons, hence the dipshit greeting. Otherwise, the only people who leave voicemails anymore are people on Medicare. Love you, mom.

Louis:

An idea that is about a solid 50/50 split with people I’ve brought it up to so far: a remake of Tombstone, with the original cast, directed by Quentin Tarantino. A large(r) Val Kilmer just mowing dudes down as Doc Holiday; Sam Elliot doing Sam Elliot things in a Tarantino movie; Kurt Russell summoning Ego the Living Planet vibes before beating a dude within half an inch of his life with own his gun in a saloon; Frank Stallone reprising his once-in-a-lifetime role as Ed Bailey? Yes please. Obviously this would be turned down by the Remake Committee, but we might be able to squeak it in before they are empowered, because this would be the best Tarantino movie ever made.

That’s a fucking horrible idea and I sentence you to 12 months of Ringer podcasts for your transgression. The original Tombstone is perfect, and the backstory of its production makes it even more perfect, because credited director George P. Cosmatos was so shitty that Kurt Russell allegedly usurped the job from him and directed it himself. You’re not gonna get movie magic from Tombstone being made any other way. It’s too elusive.

So I love it when disastrous productions turn out to result in perfect movies (Back to the Future was another), because the tension somehow informs the final product. I don’t need old man Tarantino remaking Tombstone and adding 500 shots of dirty feet to the proceedings to make it work. I’d rather Tarantino make his own shit anyway. He’s one of roughly three directors allowed to do that kind of thing anymore. I’ll take all the original ideas I can get, even if Tarantino’s are getting sloppier with each passing movie. So to you, Louis, I AM THE ONE WHO SAYS NO. Leave Tombstone be. That’s one of the rare classics that may actually escape the reboot industry, so I’d rather not give Hollywood any (borrowed) ideas.

Ed:

I know that the Washington/Dallas matchup will be a very bad game on Thanksgiving. However, I’m in need of anything that isn’t a political discussion on Thanksgiving. Provided that you can keep your family away from the “Football Team” discussion, I am hopeful that mutual hatred of these teams, their owners, their fans, transactions (or the lack thereof… not signing Dak etc.) will unite families this Thanksgiving. Aside from the inevitable Bart’s People on Alex Smith, these teams should provide America a mutual enemy that is needed for splintered families to rally around. 

Luckily I don’t have to engineer ways to avoid talking politics at Thanksgiving because I’m not, like, going anywhere. I’d say none of you should go anywhere either, but I think we’ve already seen how useful rona shaming has been in 2020, haven’t we? Some of you are gonna travel this week even though THERE’S A FUCKING VACCINE RIGHT THERE AND ALL YOU GOTTA DO IS FUCKING WAIT. I can’t stop you, and turning into a rona cop about it won’t do anyone much good.

So, to that end, yes this game is gonna be fucking horrific. Both the day games on Thursday are a real shit salad. Will I put them on as wallpaper while I cook? Of course. Will they prevent me or anyone else from talking about The Issues? No. You know your relatives, man. When has anything ever stopped them from being insufferable? NEVER, that’s when. Christ himself could walk out of the turkey and your dad would still be like, “You know, there’s something REAL fishy with those vote counts in Wisconsin.” And you’re not keeping any of them away from “the Football Team discussion,” like you so casually assumed. The only reason that team exists right now is to excite 45 racists living in Loudoun County. They’ve been a political entity ever since Dan Snyder bought them, and they’ll remain that way until he’s finally fucking dead. Good luck trying to center the WFT dinner table chat strictly around Alex Smith’s incredible return to mediocrity.

I wish that this horrible, horrible game could help distract your family members from routinely digressing into lengthy tirades about how COVID masks are secretly part of the gay agenda. But I can’t. That’s coming your way whether you like it or not. UNLESS… you stay home, order takeout, and chug a bottle of Cutty Sark. It’s still not too late.

Patrick:

I’m pretty tall (about 6’9″) and inevitably people want to ask what my height is. I oblige, as I’ve been getting the question since I was 18 years old. But every now and then, the person responds with, “oh that’s great, my son/dad/uncle/cousin/next-door-neighbour was of a similar height…”. How am I supposed to respond to this? Pretend that there’s some secret “Tall Guy Club” where we all know each other and give little head nods like Jeep drivers do when they pass each other on the road? How do I react to this without seeming like a total ass?

LOL that’s like the old college and/or state small talk. “Oh, you’re from Ohio? Do you know Gary Frutz? He’s from there!” Always a winning icebreaker. Anyway, all you have to do is say, “that’s cool,” and then move on. That way, you’ve acknowledged the other person’s “I know a tall guy just like you!” anecdote while giving them no extra room to elaborate upon it. You’ve politely cut off the oxygen to the conversation. As a certified Dad, I am now an expert in such maneuvers.

I’m a tall person (6-foot-3), but not tall enough for people to stare, or even to ask me if I played basketball (I didn’t). I also don’t feel like I’m a member of any Tall Guy fraternity. I don’t seek out other tall people in the room to mock all the Napoleons ordering a Stella at the bar. But maybe I should. Maybe a Tall Guy Alliance is exactly what this country needs, and what I need to feel cool and special. Patrick, can I join your club if you start one? Or am I not tall enough of a tall guy? I can start a Fairly Tall Guy Club of my own if the answer is no.

Kyle:

How long before college football teams start selling ‘game-worn’ coaches masks? To me, there is a non-zero chance that there will be a Black Friday email advertising the chance to snag a mask filled with Ed Orgeron’s spittle.

Given the way college football, and LSU in particular, has handled the pandemic, I’m shocked they aren’t available as we speak. I just searched “game worn covid mask” on Ebay and nothing came up. I was oddly disappointed. But I’m not deterred. LSU has handled both the pandemic and rampant sexual assault so poorly that the whole school should be fucking burned to the ground. But it hasn’t been, so every idiot school will just keep doing horrible shit until the sun blinks out.

Jef:

If Adam Gase goes 0-16 and the Jets get Trevor Lawrence, shouldn’t Gase get a couple of votes for Coach of the Year (before getting fired)? He was the right coach to do a certain job and he delivered.

No. Absolutely not. I will cut myself before I let anyone give Adam Gase any honor of any kind, even if it’s ironic one. He deserves NOTHING. The only reason he’s not the most despicable coach working today is because Matt Patricia is still employed. Besides, do you understand what the Jets will do to Trevor Lawrence once they draft him? He’s FUCKED. Joe Burrow is a god and the Bengals saddled him with a paperboy for a coach and an offensive line that just let his knee detonate. I have always believed that players make the organization and not the other way around. But look at what the Jets just did to my poor disowned son, Sam Darnold. It’s like his NFL career never existed. I’m not even sure what organs Darnold has left inside his body cavity anymore. Now here comes Trevor Lawrence, a recovering COVID-19 patient who doesn’t even want to play for the Jets, and you expect this little tank job to work out smoothly? The second they draft Lawrence, he’ll catch leprosy of the penis. That’s also science.

So no, no credit to Adam Gase for being the inadvertent architect of the Turnpike Process. Giving him any recognition for his (hilariously misguided) efforts would be like giving me a fucking Grammy. The only reason to think fondly of Gase is because he’ll be followed by Jim Harbaugh, and that will be an even MORE entertaining shitwreck.

HALFTIME!

Philip:

My wife loves prosciutto. And since I do most of the cooking in the house I’m force to deal with it. In my view, there is no foodstuff that has a more obnoxious and inconvenient packaging. The micron thin slices of meat stick to the incredibly easy to tear paper between each slice, so you’re left with a pile of shredded meat riddled with paper slices. I made an omelet with it yesterday for breakfast and it almost ruined my whole morning. Is there a worse abomination in food packaging? 

So true. I was telling all my buddies down at the loading dock this week, “Can you fucking believe the prosciutto packaging these days? How am I supposed to wrap it around my asparagus with all this pesky cellophane in the way, you guys? AY YAY YAY!”

I keed, I keed. I’m no stranger to getting’ real in the Whole Foods parking lot myself, and so I must concur with you. Those little separators are a complete pain in the ass. In general, I don’t like anything getting between me and my lunch meats. I know DA PROSHOOT is extremely thin and sticky, but I promise you that my fingers, and my appetite, are more than up to the task of peeling those slices away from one another. Or you know what? SHRED IT. Like cheese. Give it me shredded and stuffed into a potato sack. Give my taste buds all of the surface area. I’m not afraid.

Jordan:

What’s the best euphemism for masturbation? I think it’s “manhandle the hamcandle.”

OK so when I was a freshman in college, I had a poster that was a list of like 1,000 dirty expressions George Carlin had for everything. I paid special attention to the MASTURBATION subsection of the list, because masturbation jokes have always helped me feel less alone (I remember being like 12 and listening to Richard Pryor do a bit about jacking off in the tub, and I was like OMG OTHER PEOPLE DO IT TOO!). The best entry in that one Carlin subsection was “hitchhike under the big top.” So painfully specific. He really nailed it. I worshipped that poster, man. No girls ever dated me.

John:

My partner and I are approaching our first Christmas as a serious couple. We both have nuanced histories with the holiday season and neither of us really have any notable traditions but we’d like to change that. Problem is, I have no idea what kind of tradition to start. All I can think of is decorating a tree but I have a cat and she has a bunch of geriatric dogs. What are some good holiday traditions for a couple in their mid-30s? A ranking would be greatly appreciated.

My wife started a tradition in our family where, the week before Christmas, we load the kids into the car after dark. And then we leave the kids in the forest and drive home, forcing them to find their way back.

I am kidding. What we do is we drive around various neighborhoods checking out the light displays. Now my wife does this mostly so that she can check out the other HOUSES. She’ll slow down by one that has a wraparound veranda and be like OH WOW THAT’S SO LOVELY while we all scream at her to go over five miles an hour. Then we pass by a big inflatable Santa Snoopy and we’re like OH SHIT GAME DONE CHANGED. It’s a nice way to bond for 20 minutes before everyone wants to flee the car and go stare at screens again. And it’s our own little thing. I’m sure some self-help listicle out there on the web also suggests it, but as far as I’m concerned my wife invented Christmas light porn.

Now, as for you guys, lemme rank the more common holiday traditions for you in my preferred order, but with the COVID factor still top of mind:

  1. Christmas cookie making
  2. Watching Rudolph and The Grinch night
  3. Making a fire night
  4. Egg nog night
  5. Going to Christmas party (you can’t do this right now)
  6. Hot cider night
  7. Snow tubing
  8. Hanging ornaments (eggnog required)
  9. Putting a Santa hat on the dog night
  10. Driving to the countryside to chop down the tree
  11. Hanging the stockings
  12. Church
  13. “It’s A Wonderful Life” night (final half-hour only)
  14. Reading Night Before Christmas out loud to each other
  15. Throwing a party (you can’t do this right now either)
  16. Going caroling
  17. Stringing the lights
  18. Getting the tree through the fucking door

Just realized this isn’t a very useful list at all. You probably didn’t glean anything from here you didn’t already know. So have a Bad Santa night instead. Watch the movie and then go to your car to recreate this scene from it. THERE. Perfect couple’s night.

Or do the lights thing.

Andy:

Sixteen years into his NFL career, do you think Ryan Fitzpatrick regrets having gone to Harvard? When you’ve played professional football for that long, it isn’t exactly like you need to fall back on your degree in retirement and get a job in finance or something, right? 

It’s not, but Ryan Fitzpatrick has no regrets. Now if you’re someone like me, and you went to a tiny college in Maine when you could have gone to any number of kickass party schools throughout the southeast and California and maybe had an actual girlfriend instead of worshipping a fucking George Carlin poster, you might have some reservations about your life choices. But I didn’t get to be an insanely rich NFL star AFTER that. That would probably temper such regrets.

Also, and this is painfully earnest, no one who got a good education regrets it. I went to a fancy prep school. I went to Colby College, which just opened a new, $200 million athletic facility in the middle of a fucking pandemic. These are good schools with unfathomable resources. Should both of them have their endowments seized and liquidated? Yes. Do I really regret going to either of them? No. They made me smart, and being smart, like being strong, is useful. I don’t fall for phishing scams. I can do simple math without having to write anything down. I know what words like ENERVATED mean (it means the exact opposite of what it sounds like!). Those are all quality tools to have on hand.

Being smart is also good for your self-esteem, and for hanging out with other smart people. Like you, the Defector reader! You are clearly someone who gets it, otherwise you wouldn’t even be here. It’s nice to get it, and it’s nice to commingle with other people you know also get it. That’s why we’re all together here, yeah? Yes, you have to, like, study a lot to get to SmartLand, but once you’re there you realize all of that bullshit was worth the price of admission.

So Ryan Fitzpatrick is the kind of guy who’s smart enough to appreciate all the perks that come with smartness. Is he an insufferable twat like every other Harvard grad? Probably. But none of those people wish they had gone to, like, Texas Tech instead.

Steven:

How come every recipe that includes bone-in chicken or seafood always say to save scraps for stock? Am I supposed to keep my fridge filled with bones and scrap like I’m the John Wayne Gacy of poultry? Am I supposed to be making stocks every week or is there something I’m missing here?

Yeah, those instructions always read as obnoxious in the average yuppie cookbook. As if you have an endless amount of real estate in your fridge and all the time in the world to boil an old chicken carcass for ten hours straight. Some of those cookbooks even include the stock recipe in OTHER recipes, and I fucking hate recipes that require other recipes. That said, homemade stock tastes very good. Also, it helps your food budget to use every last scrap of food you have. That’s the whole reason stock exists. It’s poor people making something useful and tasty out of the small amount of goods they have on hand. Every episode of Bourdain was essentially about how necessity is the mother of culinary invention, and soup stock falls neatly into that realm. TIS A NOBLE PEASANT DISH. So that’s why there are orders to make gentrified versions of it in every cookbook now.

Homemade chicken stock really does kick ass though.

Nick:

Does Donald Trump wear deodorant? If so, which deodorant brand does this extremely damp man use?

Yeah I think Trump wears deodorant. The man doesn’t give a shit about anything other than how he sounds and looks, so grooming is sacrosanct to him. The hair is the lead dog on that, but Trump’s hilarious devotion to maintaining his appearance includes makeup, clean suits, and yes, deodorant. As to which brand he prefers, I think our president wants to get a little closer and not be shy. I think he wants to get a little closer with Arrid Extra Dry.

Josh:

I recently learned that a friend and co-worker stores his Tostitos in the fridge. As he seems to be an otherwise reasonable and forward-thinking person, I asked him why. His response was, “Well I keep the queso and salsa in there too, and don’t want the chip bag to make noise when I put it away, so I just keep them all in there together.” Apparently this is a wide-spread enough phenomenon that my partner, who is otherwise a shining beacon of all that is good and kind in humanity, didn’t think it was that weird and says she’s known other people to do this in the past. I’m 35 years old and work (worked?) in the live music industry, so I’ve seen some shit, but never have come across this kind of depravity before. My question is, basically, is this a sign of the end times?

Probably not. I like my chips room temp, though. Cold chips are not optimal. Or you know how they’re warm when they come in the basket at a Mexican restaurant? That’s primo chip action. Don’t keep them shits on ice.

Email of the week!

Matt:

This spring, my company spent big money to renovate our offices from normal cubicles to half-assed open office cubicles that only have three walls. My new location is prime! I’m two cubicles away from the bathroom, saving me precious walking time when I use the spacious 4 stall, 3 urinal bathroom. Unfortunately, the bathroom, as I and anyone within a 12 cubicle radius found out, amplifies and echoes every sound that originates within it. We have a co-worker, let’s call him Roger, who has a powerfully active digestive system. When he shits, the echoing sounds of his wet diarrheal farts cannot be contained by mere doors. He serenades the office with malodorous melodies that cause two reactions. First, the wave of disgust hits but, then, because farts will never not be funny, laughter can be heard from cubicles throughout the echo zone. Jokes are cracked, comments made and Teams chats blow up. To make matters worse, Roger is a hemorrhoidal asshole. So, no one will tell him we can hear him. But, I have grown tired of the signs of shitting and actually miss working from home, even though I pulled double duty as eLearning warden when I’m there. I’ve been thinking about posting signs in the stalls, warning users that they will be heard. Should I? Or is there a better way to handle? The situation has already been brought up to the bosses. But, they don’t care since they have actual offices.

Do nothing. Let Roger be a secret punchline for the rest of his poopy career.