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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 office microwaves, the XFL, cigarette butts, household TP etiquette, and more.

Before I get into the bag, a quick announcement: for a while now, some of you have been asking for an edition of this column that answers questions ONLY from women readers. So let’s do that next week. I’ve probably answered more questions from 45-year-old guys named Matt than is necessary at this point anyway. If you’re not a man, hit me up with anything you got and I’ll sort through all that freshly mined gold. And there’s no need to confine that widened scope to next week’s bag only. Even if you don’t subscribe to this lovely website, I still wanna hear from you. Let’s open the floor up to stupid questions from EVERYBODY. Got it?

That’s it! To steal a line from Burneko, this announcement is over! Let’s dig into this week’s batch of your letters:

Ryan:

Is this an example of technology as an amazing, enabling tool for societal good, or an example of technology as a frightening, draconian tool for Big Brother overreach and control? I don’t have hearing loss (yet) so it’s a theoretical question for me. But you live on this new frontier, so it’s much more tangible for you. FWIW, I wouldn’t let these fuckers install a camera in my house or even deploy an Alexa device anywhere near me no matter how well they sell the “benefits.” Privacy ghouls, I say. 

The article Ryan is linking to details how Amazon and a cochlear implant company named Cochlear (clever!) are working on a technology that allows people who have Cochlear’s implants to stream content directly to their implants. This is similar to a hearing aid technology called Telecoil, which allows anyone who has a hearing aid to get audio piped directly into their aids at movie theaters, and even during live performances. I apologize for boring you with all of that exposition, but I’ll make it up to you with a fart joke in just a moment.

To answer Ryan’s question, I have no problem with any of these developments. Between this and last year’s approval of OTC hearing aids, I’d like to think I’m living through a revolution in both hearing loss awareness and technology for those afflicted. I am a beneficiary of much of this technology, with a hearing aid on my left ear and a cochlear implant on my right, and I promise you that it’s fucking awesome. These are miraculous products, and any bells and whistles they feature are more than welcome. To that end, let me give you a quick tour through all of the weird shit adorning my head.

The hearing aid on my left ear is paired to my phone, so that I can listen to Spotify, etc. The sound quality is average, but it’s still a handy bit of tech to have at my disposal. I use my aid as an earbud every day, often because I’m too lazy to put on a pair of headphones. The only problem with this is that hearing aids are designed to be visibly discreet, which means that no one in the house knows I’m listening to music through my aid if I have the streaming turned on. So if I decide to rock out on the spot, my wife will IMMEDIATELY start talking to me without realizing that I can’t hear her. This is deeply annoying to all parties involved. So I have to warn everyone hey man I’m about to jam out to some White Reaper before I hit PLAY, and then they start asking me shit anyway. I also have a Telecoil in this hearing aid, but have never bothered to use it, because I can hear the real-deal audio just fine with it on.

As for my cochlear implant, it’s made by a different company than Cochlear, and the processor for it is not Bluetooth-enabled, so I can’t stream shit directly to it. When I was “shopping” for implants at the audiologist’s office, I was all into the idea of getting an implant that worked with my phone. I kept asking the doctor, “Will I be able to play some tunes through this?” and he was like, “Honestly Drew, that shouldn’t be your priority. You just want the best implant for hearing natural sounds.” So that ended up being the implant I picked. The bells and whistles for it are useless, but I’m still elated with my decision nonetheless. I’m content to hear whatever sounds are already out there. I don’t need them delivered to me on a silver platter.

That said, if they ever trot out a new processor that works with my phone, you better believe I’ll get it. I’m not gonna cry dystopia over it because most of this shit is, frankly, cool. When you’re deaf like I am, any new advance in the product line is not only welcome, but enthralling. If Big Tech uses what’s in my hearing aid to tailor ads to me or whatever the fuck, I sold out to that particular version of The Man a very, very long time ago. I’m still a holdout on Alexa etc., but Gmail already knows my comings and goings down to the last time I farted. The trade-off has long been worth it.

Brian:

How much do character actors make? I get that “that guy” who pops up in every movie makes a decent living, but do people you see in bit roles every now and then have to have a nine-five selling insurance or writing copy while they are in between gigs?

Most of those people are full-time actors, and union rates stipulate that they get paid very well for every project they do, even if they’re paid scale (you can find those rates here), which no recognizable actor usually is. The reason these rates are so high is because acting is, at its core, a freelance profession. It’s why no one in Hollywood ever talks shit about anyone else in Hollywood. Employment is never guaranteed and every gig is precious, which means that working actors need to be paid a lot so that they have a cushion in between those gigs. It’s a brutal living because actors have to spend the bulk of their off-time either auditioning or acting in other shit like ads, theater productions, Bar Mitzvah videos for rich kids, etc. There’s no time to hold down a full-time job as a kindergarten teacher with all of that going on.

So I’m sure plenty of these actors have to moonlight by tending bar or whatever (the price of living in SoCal all but demands it), but there’s not much chance that you can score visible roles if acting isn’t already your primary vocation. And again, if you’ve seen the actor in question more than once, that means they’ve probably leveled up to a better working rate anyway. So don’t fret for patron saint of good television Bill Camp. He’s probably earning a fine living. His house may not have its own private grotto or anything, but he doesn’t have to drive an Uber eight hours a day to make ends meet.

Jamison:

Why are smokers largely perfectly fine with throwing cigarette butts on the ground when (I think) they wouldn’t throw an equivalent piece of trash on the ground?

Because it’s cool. Think about how awesome smoking is. You’re out on the street, taking drags like you don’t give a fuck about nuthin’. Are you really gonna be like, “Oh heavens, my Parliament has run out of tobacco! I guess I better find the nearest trash receptacle!”? Fuck and no, you’re not. That would be the least rock and roll shit to ever happen. You flick that bad boy into a nearby alley and then you walk away. If you end up starting a fire that destroys an entire city block and kills 86 people and a dog, that ain’t your problem. Real badasses know what I’m talking about.

By the way, I have always assumed that cigarette butts are biodegradable, hence making them “safe” to litter. This is not true. I can’t believe I assumed this, knowing everything I already know about tobacco companies. It’s like Charles Manson knocking on your door and asking to come in because his car just broke down, and then you let him in.

Will:

At the end of their season, the XFL's champion plays the worst team from the NFL in a relegation/promotion game. Who in the world says no to this, and how many years would the Lions or Skins spend in the XFL?

I’d say no to that, amigo. Most people would say no to that. I don’t know how many spring football leagues you need to see come and go to understand that they put out an atrocious product, but the most of America got the hint five XFLs ago. The Bears had the worst record in the NFL last season. They would beat the St. Louis Battlehawks 75-0. Georgia would have a better shot of beating an NFL team than a pissass XFL team would. I’m all for the fourth-and-15 onside kick and whatever other test gimmicks the XFL has to offer (indeed, this XFL exists explicitly as a test lab for the NFL rulebook), but I have no interest in watching A.J. McCarron face off against Ben DiNucci as part of that testing process.

As for relegation in U.S. sports, you and I have bandied that idea around for generations now. It’ll never happen, and even if it did, it would be implemented poorly. Take Will’s above idea as a perfect example of that. I wouldn’t be more interested in the NFL if the Texans were replaced by an even more inessential team every other year. It’d just be swapping out one corn-studded turd for another. More importantly, a professional football relegation system in North America wouldn’t have the history and competitive infrastructure that European soccer leagues currently do. It’d just be an annoying gimmick that gets branded into dust. And I say that as someone who wishes the Texans never existed. I don’t WANT to discredit the idea, but the XFL, the AAF, the USFL, the WLAF, the UFL, and the Lingerie Football League (which actually existed) have me hornier for defending the status quo than the average Democratic party leader.

Dan:

I’m a big Jelly Belly guy. I dig most of the flavors in the assorted bags, with probably the exact same exceptions most sane people have: popcorn, licorice, coconut, etc. Question is: when you stumble across any of these abominations in the bag, do you just scarf them down?

I don’t fuck with mixed Jelly Bellys. I like some of the weird flavors, especially toasted marshmallow. But I don’t like grabbing a blind handful and getting a bukkake of clashing flavors all in one go. I prefer my candy much more basic than that, which is why I’ll gladly eat Starburst jelly beans by the pint glass come Easter time instead. Much less of a gamble than the Bellies.

FUN FACT: According to Jelly Belly’s website, buttered popcorn has been their second-most popular flavor (behind cherry) for two decades now, and was No. 1 for the five years prior. People love all that weird shit. Almost heartening, in a way.

HALFTIME!

Steven:

I just finished shitting and my wife left me home alone with three toilet paper sheets. Grounds for divorce? 

Was there more TP located in the bathroom closet, or was that the only TP left in the entire house? It makes a difference, you know. You’re not divorcing her either way, but one is a minor infraction and the other is wanton assholery. I used to commit the former infraction as a matter of routine. I’d get the roll almost to empty and then be like, “Eh, someone else’ll replace it.” My wife soon informed me that you kill you fill it applies as much to bathroom supplies as it does a bowl of Cheetos. So now, whenever I run down the TP to a single layer of skin left on the roll, I switch that fucker out with one of the extras stationed on top of the toilet tank. You can’t have too much TP near the toilet. And no, I don’t have a bidet yet. Stop asking me about that shit. I’m allowed to procrastinate.

Robert:

What's the maximum, socially acceptable amount of time to reheat your lunch in the busy office microwave during lunch hour? I say 3.5 minutes. If I have to wait eight minutes for some cretin to perfectly reheat his shrimp paella, I'm going to lose my shit. Am I right, or just being an impatient dick? Or both?

Oh yeah, eight minutes is an act of war. Whenever you operate a microwave, time itself becomes silly putty, with seconds stretching to the horizon and whole minutes reaching the edge of the greater universe. If we have leftovers for dinner in my house, I almost always prefer re-heating those leftovers in one big batch (either in the oven or on the stovetop) than have every family member individually microwave a plate. Since I’m the dad, I have to wait until everyone else has nuked their shit, otherwise I’m just giving the rest of the family proof that I’m nothing more than a selfish prick. But do you know how long it takes for four other people to nuke their meal while you wait? It’s the tarmac delay of dining experiences. I want to die. By the time it’s my turn, everyone else has either eaten or their food has gotten cold again. I may as well just eat my rice cold and get sepsis.

Am I right to get testy about this relatively short waiting time to eat? Of course not. But don’t tell that to me in the moment. I’m an American, and I have been conditioned to receive satisfaction quickly: movies on demand, pizza delivery in 30 minutes or less, drive-thru colonoscopies, etc. So of course having to wait X minutes to eat when I can see my food sitting right there is gonna bother me. I’m hungry right now, dammit. Everyone else’s food can kiss my ass. OUTTATHAWAY.

So if I wanna make like Dear Prudence and be like, “Now Robert, everyone else at work has to eat too, and all of you have to make do with the resources on hand; might I suggest staggering your lunchtime to avoid the rush?”, I can do that. But fuck Prudence and fuck your co-workers. If some prick in marketing punches in any number higher than two on that microwave, you get to take his meal out of that oven and deposit it into the trash. If he did that to you, that’s grounds for homicide. But if you do it to him, tough shit. Also, bring a sandwich for lunch next time. Leave the hot lunch to all the suckers and perverts.

While I’m here, and while I’ve got the mask off, lemme just say that I’ve come to an epiphany, which is that the Sensor Reheat button is dogshit. The only thing worse than knowing how long my food is gonna take to be ready is not knowing. Plus, I’ve had multiple occasions where I wait the full Σ minutes for my dinner to reheat, only for it to still be cold when I take it out. The fuck were you doing in there, microwave? Reading Twitter? You sure as fuck weren’t cooking my food. And waiting for other people’s sensor reheats is even more torturous. I’m done with that button. DONE. I’m using only the +:30 button for all of my nuking needs and never looking back.

Jeremy:

On the most recent episode of The Distraction, you gave Tim Thomas as the Guy of the Week for Roth to remember, which made ME remember Bruins goalie Tim Thomas. What other Guys have names that cross sports similar to former Guy of The Week Tim Thomas? 

All of the Steves Smith set the original legal precedent for this genre of Guy. I grew up with NBA Steve Smith only to have not one, but TWO NFL Steve Smiths arrive shortly thereafter. Not only did the football Steve Smiths play at the same time, they also played the same position. So every time I watched a Giants game or Giants highlights (mostly the latter, because I’m no fool), the announcer would always have to carve out a few seconds to remind the audience that this was the OTHER Steve Smith and not the Steve Smith that they were probably thinking of. Two of those three Steves are now studio guys. It’s like being trapped in a hall of mirrors, I tell you. FREE ME FROM THE TYRANNY OF THE STEVE SMITH INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX.

Steve:

I submit that Arizona Iced Tea is the most littered item ever purchased. I'm pretty sure that 70% of those giant cans end up on the ground, and only about 10% of those purchased are recycled.

That 10 percent is an overestimate. I see a littered Arizona can/bottle every time I go out to walk the fucking dog. They appear like magic. No product on earth gives you more sugar for your dollar than this one, which means that it’s the preferred mixer of both teens and hobos alike. Neither of those parties is famous for being environmentally conscious, especially when they have a fifth of Popov running through them. That’s how you end up spotting a wide-mouth can of ‘Zona at the bottom of every creek bed, with a minnow’s tail violently wriggling around just past the can’s lip as it struggles to escape.

Dave:

We got a new fridge with a water and ice dispenser on the front. After using it for a few weeks, I grew tired of using the ice dispenser. Ice would end up on the floor, or I would stand there like a goober waiting for ice to churn around and pop out longer than it should take, or I would walk away and a lone cube would trickle out and also end up on the floor. For those reasons, I just open the freezer door and take ice out of the bucket. Is this weird/poor form, or should I pat myself on the back for cutting out the middleman?

You just described every homeowner’s experience with their fridge’s ice dispenser. I haven’t used mine in like five years. Only the 10-year-old still uses it. And whenever he does, everyone else in the house groans and then yells at him for it. These dispensers are showroom garnishes that are designed to break. One time I opened up the icemaker in our fridge and was greeted by a steel coil that was locked up in more ice than an Antarctic steamship. Never use your fridge’s ice dispenser, and never put garbage down your garbage disposal. I have no other useful home ownership advice to offer.

Hugues:

Why is it so hard to find men's pajamas that don't have a giant gaping fly hole? Your kids don't want to catch an accidental pop out, your wife doesn't really either. Even if you live alone I can't imagine you want to be falling out all the time. Does big pajama think we're all lazy or maybe enjoy the breeze? What's your recommended sleepwear alternative?

And why is the butt flap in my union suit always smeared with feces? Can they not make one that’ll clear my prodigious asscrack when I unbutton it? The gall of these people.

I kid, Hugues. I kid. I’m a lousy person to ask for this because I haven’t worn PJs in over 30 years. When I was 12 or so, I got too hot in my jammies for the 5,000th consecutive night and slept in my boxers instead. I’ve been sleeping that way ever since. Sometimes my dick and balls pop out of those boxers, but A) that’s sexy, and B) my boxers have a single button on the dickflap, which does a shockingly good job of keeping my package packed. I make sure to button that button anytime I tuck in for the night, because sometimes the kids will see Dad come downstairs in his skivvies because he forgot to turn on the dishwasher before going to bed. That’s already more of Dad than they need to see.

My boys still sleep in their pajamas, but it’s only a matter of time before they graduate to Boxer Mode for bedtime. I’ll present an honorary degree to them when they reach this milestone. But perhaps they’ll stick with pajamas for good and, like Hugues, find themselves irritated by adult jammies that have them pulling a Lenny Kravitz every time they so much as get up to have a glass of water. To them I would say, just switch to lounge pants as your pajama bottoms. Seems easy enough. Just hit up a nearby Marshalls and PRESTO! The world is safe from your dig ol’ bick.

Justin:

If you had the chance to attend three sporting events in history, what would they be? Miracle on Ice? Minneapolis Miracle? Wrestlemania III?

Throwing a Wrestlemania into that grouping is a really good idea, although I’d go with IV over III. That’s not me being dickish: Macho Man winning the tournament in that one is still the coolest wrestling event I’ve ever watched. So I’ll take that (or the Hell In A Cell where Mick Foley did a Peter Pan off the top of the cage), the Minneapolis Miracle, and Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. Take homerism out of the equation (what fun is that?) and I’d swap out the last two for the Kick Six and this year’s World Cup final. I’m sure I’m missing a zillion other worthy choices, but I’m happy to leave it to the commenters below to snatch all of those worthy candidates up.

Monte:

With the rapid rise, popularity, and professionalization of sports like cornhole and pickleball, how/why did disc golf miss the boat? 

Because the first two sports are limited to a confined space. It’s very easy to stage and televise cornhole and pickleball tourneys because all you need a court. For disc golf, you need an existing golf course (no country club in America welcomes this kind of teen shit) or cordon off an entire college campus for competitors to play freely. I’ve taken this question far too seriously.

Pat:

I was thinking about the bathroom situation in NFL locker rooms. There are 53 active players (plus coaches and staff, etc.) and halftime is 12 minutes. How many urinals/toilets could there possibly be in a locker room? Are players spending most of the 12 minutes waiting in line to use a urinal/toilet? Do the star players get to cut the line? I know you played in college. Do you have any insights?

I was just in an NFL locker room and I assure you that there was plenty of everything to go around. No NFL player wants for anything, toilet-wise. And even though I myself played at a small college, we too still had plenty of toilets in the locker room to do our business. Failing that, guys would just piss in the shower. Don’t judge.

Email of the week!

Amory:

My favorite story about seeing teachers in the real world was in high school. We were in lower Manhattan, so a bunch of us went out to Chinatown for dinner. We went to the Ice Cream Factory, and ran into a bunch of our younger/cooler teachers there as well. They were heading out but were super awkward about it, clearly just as weirded out by bumping into us out in the world. Later, as we stood outside eating our ice cream, they drove by, honked at us, and flipped us off. We loved it.

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