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Have We Reached Peak Inflatable Christmas Decoration Inflation?

An abundance of Christmas decorations in front of a house in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on December 24, 2009. (Photo by Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto)
Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto

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 dogs, sink height, thank-you notes, divorce, and more.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Your letters:


Inflatable Christmas yard decorations are blowing up everywhere. I understand they're cheap and easy, but they're ugly as sin, right? Some houses go crazy overboard with them, too. Is my disdain warranted? 

Probably, but I don’t share it! This weekend is when I get to go get all Christmassy again! STUFF MY STOCKING, MOTHERFUCKER! I even broke the seal early last weekend and started playing my Xmas Spotify playlist after I’d popped a gummy. The dulcet tones of Frank Sinatra stoked the embers of my warming heart, I tell you. I am rock-hard for the holiday season to commence.

Does this mean that I myself own an inflatable Christmas decoration? It does, and let me tell you about it. Ages ago, my wife bought an inflatable Mickey Mouse decoration for the yard. It’s Mickey in a Santa outfit, sitting down on the ground with a happy Christmas tree in front of him. The problem is that the tree is between his legs, so it looks—especially during the inflating process—like Mickey has a big green cock. At one point, the plug for Mickey came a little loose from the outlet on the side of our house. He deflated a bit, just enough for his face to kiss the top of the tree. So any time people drove past our house, they were treated to sight of a holly jolly Mickey Mouse blowing himself.

When I pointed this out to my wife, she told me to get my mind out of the gutter. Hey missy, tell that to the mouse! I’m not the one openly fellating myself on our lawn!

We still put Mickey out every year. We’re not alone. Now is the time when everyone in our county puts out whatever big decorations they were able to find on discount at Home Depot. Not all of us have time to go the full Griswold and put up ornate light displays, or carve our own Nativity scenes. So people grab whatever easy decorations they can and put them out. They are, as Jeffrey noted, cheap and easy. That’s why they’re so abundant. And yes, they’re tacky.

But kids love them, so I’m OK with it. Christmas is for kids anyway, and Christmas itself is inherently tacky. It’s all corny songs and fattening food and garish colors. I love any opportunity to indulge my inner cheeseball, so this is my time of year, baby. You can turn your nose up at it all you like, and I get that. But the only thing more played out than Christmas is people complaining about it. Christmas is bad! It’s too commercialized! I hate Christmas because my dad died on Christmas Eve! Cry me a river. No figgy pudding for you, hotshot!


My family has a labradoodle. Great dog, member of the family, etc. He's allowed on the furniture and sleeps in bed with my wife and me every night. But during the day, when my wife is at work, he ONLY lies on the laundry room floor, right in front of the garage door, where my wife exits and enters. I work from home, so it's not like I'm unavailable. But he will choose to spend eight-plus hours lying on the cold tile floor until my wife comes home. He never emerges to check out what I'm doing. I've gone so far as to buy him a plush dog bed right next to my work space in hopes he'll hang out with me, but no luck. Is this a general separation anxiety thing, or should I feel slighted that he's exiling himself to dog prison rather than hang out with his second favorite human?

Oh my dog is like that. Carter is a mama’s boy and accepts no substitutes. He only comes to me either when he wants cheese or has to go out and piss. Puts his paws right up on my recliner and is like get up, asshole. Zero gratitude. I rescued you, Carter. Without me you’d be NOTHING.

In general, I got over this slight long ago, with one exception. The first time Carter went psycho on me was back when we’d first adopted him. He would hang out on our bed with us, and we thought that was all cool and fun. The dog you dream about. But if it was just Carter and my wife in bed together, and I came into the room, the Mr. Hyde in him would come out and he’d growl, bark, and bite. I’m sorry but she’s my wife now, human. I didn’t realize any of this until it was too late. So we hired a trainer, banned Carter from jumping up on the bed, and let him sleep in his crate in our bedroom at night.

Fast forward to last spring. Carter had mellowed way the fuck out: a chill dog, a good dog. He’d grown so well-behaved that we promoted him back up to sleeping with us. It was a very snug arrangement, until he started going all psycho again whenever I came into the room. And that offended me as a man. I owned that bed. I owned that house. That was MY wife, not his. I was the alpha here, you little shit! I earned the right to come to bed after watching Monday Night Football without my own dog acting like he ran the goddamn place. So back down to the crate he went. He took his demotion like a champ, mostly because I gave him cheese to lure him in.

This sort of this is hardly an anomaly among dog owners. My sister’s first dog trailed her around 24/7, to the point where she routinely tripped over him if she wasn’t looking where she was going. Dogs get attached, and often to one member of the family above all others. It’s probably out of instinct, or it’s because Mom smells better than everyone else in the house. Either way, dogs get clingy and you have to learn to manage all of their needy bullshit. Raising a dog should be easier than raising a child, and yet.


Picture you’re cutting up some chicken on a cutting board at your kitchen counter. What’s your spinal position like? If you’re like me and most people, it’s straight up. Comfortable. Sure, the taller you are, the more you’d be leaning forward, but I bet it’s still pretty comfortable until you’re pushing seven feet. Now picture you’re scrubbing the raw chicken off of that same cutting board in your kitchen sink. How’s your spine? It’s bent all to shit. The bottom of my sink is just an inch or two above my knees! So this occurred to me a week ago, and I can’t get past it: Why isn’t the bottom of my kitchen sink at counter height instead of the top of it?

Well you do have to account for short people, especially kids. Our kids do the dishes every night after dinner, and have for years now. That wouldn’t have happened if our sink had been out of their reach early on. If that had been the case, I’d still be doing all of our dishes today, like a common chump. So I’m grateful that we made the proper sink accommodation for them. Now those children are my servants, as the good Lord intended.

I still do plenty of dishes these days, especially during food prep or after breakfast. The only time my back gets out of whack then is if I gotta scrub the fuck out of some pan that got burnt sugar or cheese stuck to it. Otherwise I’m such a veteran of dish duty that I can bang them out pretty quickly, with minimal physical damage. If there’s a tough pot in there that’s gonna fuck me up, I either let it soak or I let a few crud marks stay on the bottom. That’s seasoning. It’s not worth me going to the ER to get rid of it.

But I understand where Dave is coming from on the sink level issue, and so do many others. Raised sinks are very much a thing in kitchen renovation. If you get one, just make sure you get a step stool to go with it. You don’t wanna give any kids in the house an excuse to slack off.


Why do you think Martin Scorsese provokes such strong reactions online (i.e., Twitter)? And why are people STILL upset about his Marvel comments?

Because he was right. He’s only growing more right by the day, which is good because I’m ready for movies to be movies again. Judging by the box office returns, so is everyone else. Even my kids don’t give a fuck about Marvel anymore. I haven’t had to watch one of that studio’s movies or shitty TV shows in over a calendar year. Zero FOMO resulted. No more shit VFX. No more torpid exposition between vapid characters. No more being worried that I needed to watch episode three of this to understand the eighth movie of that. I am free, and I love it.

I’m also out on Star Wars, too. This is a bigger deal for me, since I grew up with the Star Wars generation. But Andor aside, that franchise is a bleached whale skeleton lying on the beach. I’m out. I’m done. I don’t give a shit anymore. You can only eat Wonder Bread so many times before you get sick of Wonder Bread.


I am a new flight attendant for a major airline in Canada. I still have the exciting “dream career” pep in my step, and I genuinely want to leave every guest impressed and satisfied. In which ways do you, a frequent flyer, feel that flight attendants could provide better customer service?

Just don’t try to be Johnny Carson on the loudspeaker. That’s all I ask. Most flight attendants are great at what is growing to be an increasingly thankless job. They have to deal with drunken passengers, screaming babies, pushy businessmen, clueless idiots who think that a cello case can fit in the overhead bin, and random smells. In my experience, the majority of flight attendants do handle of this bullshit with a level of patience and grace normally reserved for kindergarten teachers. I’ve only met a few who have adopted the inherent defensiveness that all gate agents now possess. I understand why certain flight attendants are like this, but I also want them fired. Just be a professional, even if your passengers aren’t.

That means keeping your chirping over the loudspeaker to a minimum. I’m not gonna go into a whole thing about every Southwest crew’s tendency to stage an open mic night on every flight, because that’s well-covered territory. You, Alistair, have almost certainly heard those complaints before as well. It’s not that the jokes are unfunny; some of them are indeed worthy of a chuckle. But I’m on a flight with 150 strangers. All I want is to be left the fuck alone: to read, to listen to music, to watch a shitty movie, etc. I can’t get away from anyone while I’m inside the cabin, so I have to find my quiet place within that mass to remain content. Anytime a voice comes over the loudspeaker—especially if it cuts off the movie—that force field I’ve constructed for myself is pierced. I fucking hate that.

Say what you’re obligated to say—“Please buckle your seat belt,” and so on—and then hang up. I won’t waste your time if you don’t waste mine. Also, if I get up to piss when the seat belt light is still on, just look the other way.



As a freelance music journalist, I consider myself an okay-to-decent writer, and yet I can't for the life of me figure out what to write on a Thank You note, or any other Hallmark card for that matter. How do you come up with this stuff? Frankly, I think Thank You notes are kind of bullshit to begin with, but that's a whole other conversation.

Oh, I suck at thank-you notes and greeting cards. I like receiving them, and I know that sending them to other people is good practice, even if you find it a touch antiquated. But this is the only place where I experience writer’s block. My wife will put a birthday card on the counter and say, “Hey come sign this,” and my mind screams NO. Because I do this for a living, I feel pressure to write something witty, or original, or heartfelt, or something beyond just “Thanks!”

But it’s a greeting card, and God forbid I write something that I think is clever but that my brother-in-law thinks is just fucking weird. I also have lousy handwriting, and often make spelling errors. This makes me afraid to write anything at all. Because of this, I usually let my wife write the main message of the card instead, and then I just sign my name at the bottom. Is it mildly sexist to burden the woman of the house with such things? Yes. But the dog loves her more than me, so lay off.

Meanwhile, my own mom will write thank-you notes so long that the messages run onto the back of the fucking card. She’s a pro at this, whereas I am but a commoner. So I’ll just give you her technique instead of my own:

  1. Say thank you for the gift, while explicitly saying what the gift was. “Thank you so much for the Oxo can opener!”
  2. Explain why you needed the gift and how you intend to use it. “I can’t wait to open all of our yams with it!”
  3. If possible, recap a nice time you had together recently. “We had so much fun seeing you last weekend at the berry farm! Dad loved the fresh air!”
  4. Finish with a grand declaration of affection. “We’re lucky to have you as a cousin!”

That should cover you for thank-you notes. As for other greeting cards, I just sign my name. I paid Shoebox Greetings $4.95 to write the inside message for me. No need to gild the lily.


My wife and the mother of my two teenage children has told me that she is filing for divorce. Beyond getting an attorney and getting my affairs in order, what advice would you and the commenters have for someone going through this process?

The commenters will have more firsthand experience with divorce than me, so I’d lean more on what they have to say. I can only give you my advice on divorce as an outside observer, so here’s that advice for what it’s worth: Don’t let your divorce kill your spirit, and don’t take it out on the rest of the world. When we make Divorced Guy jokes here at Defector, it’s always with a certain type in mind: an Aubrey Huff who comes out of his divorce hating just about everyone, especially women. I would avoid being this sort of guy if you can help it.

It may not be easy. I have no idea how emotionally (and financially) devastating it can be to endure a divorce. I’m sure it elicits an overwhelming amount of anger, bitterness, and heartbreak. What do you do with all of that anger? Where do you put it? Can you ever get rid of it? The wrong type of divorced person EMBRACES that anger and then spends the rest of their life lashing out at everyone else. If you do likewise, you’ll remain unhappy, and likely alone, for a long time. So don’t do that. Find a way to not be Aubrey Huff. See a therapist to prevent it if you have to.

Also, as with flight attendants, keep the jokes to a minimum.


After what I think is a record for earliest players-only meeting, it made me wonder what is a better indication your team is butt. Is it the players-only meeting, or someone high in authority throwing their support behind a figurehead like the coach or quarterback? 

The players-only meeting. Everyone mocks the dreaded vote of confidence after it’s been issued, but some owners will do that as a matter of routine. They’ll do it when the team is shit. They’ll do it when the team is good but just blew a game. They’ll do it when the team is stubbornly average. If Jerry Jones is your owner, he’ll do it every week.

But when the players have to get together on their own, THAT is when the truth is laid bare. The players had to get together because A) They all hate the coaching staff, B) They all hate the front office, or C) They all hate one other dude in the locker room, probably Jordan Poole. That’s when you know that the chemistry has died, that no one wants to be there any longer than they have to, and that you’re in the middle of a 15-game losing streak. Your team is butt, and even they know it. The players-only meeting is the death blow.

Will any sideline reporter acknowledge this fact? No. In fact, Charissa Thompson told me just now that the Jets had a players-only meeting on Sunday night that a lot of guys said, “really helped clear the air” and, “helped all of them get back into a winning mindset.”


Which sport would you rather watch: baseball played with a football, or football played with a baseball (only five players per team allowed to wear mitts)?

The latter. If you played baseball with a football, nearly every hit would be a groundout. Home runs would be nonexistent. Everything would look weird and stupid. But if you played football with a baseball, the game would still look relatively familiar. If you’ve ever played touch football with a tennis ball, you know this to be true.


Will our generation talk about Michael Vick the way Gen Xers talked about Bo Jackson? 

Hey man I am a Gen Xer, so careful with the “our” shit. Anyway, Michael Vick indeed belongs in the Hall of Cool-ass Players right alongside Bo. He did go to jail for staging dogfights, though. Whether or not you think the Hall of Cool-ass Players should have a character clause is strictly a personal decision. But if you do think it should have one, then your canonization of Michael Vick will have a different shade to it than Bo’s.


Have you ever made your chili with beef broth, or any other broth besides chicken? If so, how was it? Would the beef broth alter the flavor profile too much?

I’ve never made my chili with beef broth, but I’m sure it works just as well as chicken broth does. It might bring the flavor closer to pot roast or beef bourguignon, but chili has so much other shit in it that I don’t think it’s a dealbreaker.

In fact, I might be an outlier in using chicken broth for my own recipe. Some tailgate nut out there probably wants me jailed for not using beef broth in chili. He’s waving his tongs around and wearing an apron with an angry cartoon pig on it and screaming AIN’T NO CHICKEN BROTH IN CHILI, YANKEE! I’LL CUT YOU GOOD! People are weird like that.


“Real” dog food is all the rage these days, but am I missing something? Dogs are scavengers that will eat literal garbage and their own feces if left to their own devices. Why the hell would they care whether you give them freshly made food with recognizable ingredients? Also not a fan of the owner-shaming inherent in the marketing for these highfalutin dog foods. Kibble and canned wet food is nutritionally complete. Your dog will not die or starve by eating it. It is not “fake” food!

Yes, but don’t you want the best for your dog, Dave? Will little Fido be happy eating bowls of common Puppy Chow day after day for the rest of his life? Doesn’t he deserve better? Don’t YOU deserve better? Then why serve Fido Blue Ribbon Standard? It’s made with free-range, organic kangaroo meat, and 98 percent of veterinarians recommend it for their own dogs!

In all seriousness, modern industry loves to cater to your ego (not to mention the accompanying insecurity), and that extends to your pets. Of course they’re gonna farm-to-table that shit. And if you table feed your dog, which I do not advise, then that dog will learn to refuse standard dog food anyway. People who spoil their dogs end up having to spoil them for life, which is how they end up shelling out $15 a can for Scrappy Feast brand wet food.

I am not immune to falling for this racket. I’m pretty sure we bought Rachael Ray brand dog food because our trainer told us to, and I always buy canned food that has a scientific-y looking label, as if Louis Pasteur engineered it himself. I want Carter to eat only the finest Grade-F circus meat. Mostly, I just want him to fucking eat. So long as he eats his dinner, I’ll feed him whatever artisanal bullshit he’ll chow down on.

Also, a brief correction to Dave: 85 percent of coprophagic dogs eat OTHER dogs’ feces and not their own. So mind your manners.


Are you like me and can’t stand watching incredibly awesome college football players play without their names on the back of the jersey?

Secretly, yes. I know I’m supposed to be like, “Oh, it’s so good of those schools to make it about the TEAM and not put names on the jerseys,” but fuck that. I want to know the name of the guy I just saw make that catch. Whether or not it harms the self-image of Penn State, or Notre Dame, or USC(?!!) to put it there isn’t something that I give a shit about.


Have you ever dunked a plain donut in a cup of coffee, like you were a 1940s cartoon policeman? One of my little pleasures in life is dunking those Biscoff cookies in my coffee and it’s such a little treat. I don’t want to add 350 calories to my breakfast, but I think it might be worth having one plain donut on hand for when the mood strikes.

I’ve dunked Oreos in my coffee. Does that count? When I have a decaf and Oreos after dinner, that’s when I’m living my best life. I do not dunk donuts in my coffee, because the donut would just break off. Can’t have that.

But I did get a tip from Tom Ley that I’m sure Tom got from somewhere else. When you get a stroopwafel on a flight, you unwrap it and then place it over your coffee to melt the caramel inside. Works like a charm. I’ve never forgotten it.

Email of the week!


Okay so there’s a giant who lives standing abroad your house like a Colossus. He’s 100 feet tall. The way his giant innards work is that he can fart once a day for five minutes, or take one massive shit each year. Either way, you will have to deal with the fallout. If he farts, it will envelop your house in a cloud of giant fart for at least five minutes. If there’s no breeze, it could linger for hours. But if there’s a good wind, the fart would dissipate pretty much immediately. The other option is that the giant takes a big mean nasty shit on top of your house every year, with no farts to worry about. Which one are you picking, Drew?

The farts! Come on, that’s a lay-up.

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