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Funbag

I Am Getting Old Man Skin And Don’t Care For It

Mirrorpix via Getty Images

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 the Super Bowl, arty music, LeBron, empty parenting threats, and more.

Your letters!

Dan:

Would you rather have perfect skin for the rest of your life, or never have negative aesthetic effects from food? With skin, you’d have no zits, moles, rashes, eczema, or sunburn ever again (you'll go right to tan). With food, you can eat whatever you want and you'll never gain any weight (unless you're working out and trying to add muscle).

Skin. Skin skin skin skin skin. Twenty years ago, I’d have answered the food thing in a heartbeat, but that was before I grew as a person (spiritually, not literally) and learned to embrace the moderation lifestyle. I basically DO eat what I want, just not to dangerous excess. It’s a good food life. Skin is another matter. I can’t control half of the shit that goes on with my skin. I get weird psoriasis patches on my knee. I wake up with random bruises and don’t know why. My asscrack is chafed all the time. My wife’s skin is also flaring up in literally irritating ways. Both of us are decaying in real time! That shouldn’t happen until we’re dead, dammit!

It gets worse. My family has a history of skin cancer, which means that I have to get mole checks every year and I have cover every exposed part of my body with sunblock anytime I see a break in the clouds outside. I am so, so sick of sunblock. I’m sick of putting it on. I’m sick of it not blending into my skin. I’m sick of it automatically getting into my eyes. And I’m sick of paying for it. You could put me on fucking Slimfast for a year if it meant I never had to deal with skin problems again. Because I know what’s coming. Skin problems only increase as you age. I’ve got years and years of liver spots, basal cell carcinomas, toe corns, skin tags, and varicose veins coming my way. I’ve seen senior citizens’ skin. It’s ghastly. I want no part of it. This is why I moisturize.

Andy:

What was the last newer/ish band that you've discovered that you've gone all in on, or do you have no time for new bands anymore? 

If you see more Aphex Twin and Autechre in the HALFTIME slot of this column than you ever thought you’d see in your lifetime, it’s because I’ve quietly gotten fed up with my own taste in music. I still worship rock, and still find reviews like this to be haughty and annoying, even when they mock bands that are making genuinely lousy music. But I’m also aware that I’ve aged way out of the zeitgeist, that I left a lot of meat on the bone from other genres of the past 40 years (FUN FACT: I have never heard Ready To Die in its entirety, which is genuinely embarrassing), and that I’m getting tired of feeding myself the same playlists over and over again. There’s such a thing as too much comfort food, you know.

So rather than wait around all year for another Bob Mould or Struts album to magically appear on Spotify, I seized on my newfound love of certain abstract painters and decided I needed to expand that curiosity to every other medium. I had to read more poetry. I had to watch more esoteric, arty movies (I watch this sequence a lot). And I had to listen to more weird-ass music that I didn’t understand. I booted up Autechre’s debut album, which I had put off for years because I figured it would just sound like a bunch of random stock sounds played on a loop. Turns out it’s awesome. Turns out that I’m now ready for all that '90s oddball electronica. Not every track I hear from these artists is gold, but all of them are DIFFERENT. Different is good. I’m forcing myself to learn new musical languages as best I can … and then switching back over to Liam Gallagher after like 20–30 minutes. The next big step is getting an actual sound system to play this shit on and not just listening to it every night through a little Wonderboom pill. I bet John Cage will sound pretty good through an actual hi-fi.

So all of the new artists I’ve discovered recently aren't all that new. It’s just me going through the virtual record store piles and seeing what will grab me in ways I’d never planned and leave me grasping for words like I’m an idiot child. That’s how you fall in love with music to begin with, you know. But if you need a more conventional answer than that (and you probably do), the last truly new band I got into was/is White Reaper, whose new album is the probably best thing I’ll hear all year. I’d rather shoot myself in the dick than read the Pitchfork review of it.

Brendan:

I'm turning 40 this year, and I'm thinking about easing into old age by becoming a Tracksuit Guy. The only thing that gives me pause is that I have a pretty slim build. Would I need to bulk up or just get fat in order to pull off the look?

Of course not. You’re living through the activewear revolution. Anyone can rock a tracksuit now: fat people, thin people, old people, young people, men, women, children, office workers, fighter pilots, brain surgeons in the operating room, popes, witches, you name it. If you have a slim build, then all the better because people might mistake you for a professional soccer player as you strut around in a full Adidas track suit (matching socks and slides for the full effect). This shit isn’t just for retired Italian guys anymore. We can ALL look like we’re about to house a TV dinner before hitting the bingo parlor. I can’t believe America had to live through the Dockers years just to reach this point, but we’re here now and it’s glorious. You will take my hoodie from cold dead torso.

Matt:

I think this Paul McCartney video is straightforward unintentional comedy. My 14-year-old daughter (who's a huge Beatles fan) thinks it's actually an example of intentional unintentional comedy, and that Paul is trolling everybody. What do you think?

I’ve never known Paul McCartney to be the edgiest comedian in the world. Lennon was the sardonic one. He’s the one who would’ve made that “So Bad” video linked above and giggled his ass off between takes. But Paul McCartney, especially post-Beatles McCartney, was one of the cheesiest motherfuckers to ever live. You’re talking about the guy who wrote “Wonderful Christmastime,” “Freedom,” and a whole bunch of other execrable, mid-pop bullshit after Lennon died. So this video that Matt sent to fits right in with Paul’s whole thing back then.

I think Matt’s daughter, like the rest of us, is so used to ironic trolling in 2023 that she thinks EVERYTHING is joke mode, which is a safe bet these days. And here’s a rare case where it’s better to think that Paul was taking the piss with this song than actually playing it from the bottom of his heart. You can take sincerity too far if you’re not vigilant.

Omar:

What is your favorite piece of esoteric football gear or equipment? That can be for games, for practices, for rest, etc.

I played back in a relatively ancient time, so any answer of mine is gonna be a piece of outdated equipment like ankle leathers and neck rolls (I was never important enough to qualify for neck roll status on my team), all of which were cool but never came close to being as cool as shoulder pads were and still are. Also, hockey always had cooler equipment anyway.

I also loved all of the training room shit, especially the stim machine. If you got hooked up to the stim machine in our training room, that meant you were a real athlete who’d suffered a real athlete injury. Plus the machine made your muscles twitch without you even doing anything. Real “magnets: how do they work” wizardry, as far as I was concerned. Part of me secretly WANTED to get injured so that I could visit the training room and use all of that shit. Of course, I’d later suffer actual injuries (though not due to overexertion from performing feats of athletic prowess) and learn that being stuck in a physical rehab area for hours at a time is really fucking boring. That took a considerable amount of shine off of all those gadgets and doodads for me.

However, thanks to my youngest son’s aborted flag football career, I now a have a vicarious love of compression sleeves. My own playing career didn’t coincide with the compression sleeve revolution. If it had, I would’ve bought every last sleeve on the market. Those things make me feel like a superhero when I put them on, all sleek and cool. And everyone tells me so, too! They’re like, “Wow Drew, can you shoot lightning from your hands? Will you date me?” Then I fly off and leave them mesmerized.

Bill:

Why are Super Bowl ads so bad now?

Lauren hit on it yesterday in her post. The Super Bowl ads are like the SNL cold open where the only idea on display is, “Let’s bring on a celebrity! Everyone will be so surprised and delighted!” There’s no scenario in which Steve Martin doing a fucking Pepsi ad is gonna be more entertaining to me than Steve Martin doing normal Steve Martin shit. I’m just watching the guy get paid, which I’ll never begrudge (I’d take $1 million for three days work, too), but is very much the definition of selling out your artistry. Brands are shameless about finding otherwise lovable people and/or fictional characters and then trading on the audience’s fondness for them to tell you a shitty joke about finding better cat food online or whatever. None of it feels inspired, original, or genuine, and that starts to wear on you if you’ve been watching the Super Bowl for decades.

None of it is surprising either, because no company is content to just buy a 30-second spot during the game and leave it at that. They’ll have trailers for the ad, or they’ll get into a virtual slapfight with Ted Cruz to make the news cycle in advance of the ad, or they’ll plaster G/O Media websites with WATCH OUT FOR OUR SUPER BOWL AD FEATURING LIZZO! banner ads for weeks prior to the game. There’s no chance at all for spontaneity.

And the audience isn’t even primed for these ads anymore anyway. I used to love Super Bowl ads. I looked forward to them (the old saw was that the ads were always better than the game itself, which is no longer true). I would read roundups of them in USA Today the next morning. This is because I used to work in the ad business, but I also just genuinely loved good ads, and still do. I loved the Bud Bowl, and WASSUP, and the FedEx test pattern ad, and any Little Caesars ad that came out of Cliff Freeman. That’s because many of those ads were legitimately good and relied on actual creative talents, but also because they had zero competition. I had no phone to stare at during the 1996 Super Bowl. I couldn’t text my friends during the break or fuck around on Twitter. It was just me and the TV. The idea that I’d get better ads during the break instead of the usual bullshit ads was enough of an incentive to make me happy. But I DO have a phone now. We all do, which means our in-game entertainment options are considerably more diverse than they were back when I was 17 and hoping the “I love you man!” guy might show up in the middle of the second quarter.

HALFTIME!

Alex:

Seeing how insufferable the Kobe Bryant and Derek Jeter retirement tours were, how awful do you think it will be once LeBron decides to announce he’s retiring before his final season? ‘Cause we all know he and Nike are gonna make a meal out of it.

I’m in a good spot with LeBron because I came back around on him roughly a decade ago. I went through the familiar fan cycle of loving the new guy, then getting a little tired of him, then getting VERY tired of him, then calling him a homophobic slur in print, then doing it again TWO more times, and then wanting him dead. We’ve all been there, AMIRITE?!

But I came correct sometime between Bron’s last title in Miami and his title in Cleveland, and have embraced him ever since. He still has his shortcomings—stymieing the 2020 wildcat strike behind the scenes and making Space Jam: IP Freely come to mind right away—but otherwise Bron is always a welcome presence in my life. So when he plays his final season sometime around 2056, I won’t be EXCITED for the fully branded retirement tour, but it won’t grate on me like Jeter’s or Big Ben’s did. I’m good at tuning all of that shit, along with regular-season NBA basketball in general, out. Also, it’s LeBron James. If any athlete has earned the right to have color guys tearfully thank him for two straight hours during a boilerplate December loss to the Sacramento Kings, it’s that guy. I’m 46. Who knows how many more Brons I’m gonna get to see in this fingersnap lifetime of mine? My skin doesn’t even work anymore, man.

Matt:

What do you envy most about the opposite gender?

When I was way younger my answer to this would have been, “Girls can get laid anytime they want!” I now know that’s not necessarily true, and that it’s a decidedly mixed blessing for women when it is. But I don’t wanna do the Twitter bio thing where I’m like, “I love the women in my life and am in awe of their inner strength!” either.

So my answer is that I envy that women are way better readers than guys are. I know because I’ve seen the sales numbers. I am a shitty reader. My wife reads dozens more books than me in any given year. It’s both discouraging and, frankly, a bit annoying. So I’d like to be a woman so that I can crack open a best-selling novel and not immediately scream HEAT 2 WAS WAY BETTER THAN THIS before wanting to go right to sleep.

William:

After buying Newcastle, creating the LIV tour, creating a Grand Prix, and holding WWE events, do you think the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund will buy a sports team in one of the four major men’s North American sports leagues? 

They’re gonna try at some point. The best-case scenario for LIV golf is that it essentially kills off the PGA Tour while remaining both ethically and aesthetically radioactive to American sports fans. They took an otherwise fun sport and turned it into fucking Rollergames. No one knows who the Aces are and no one will ever care, which means that the Saudis will have to find another way to distract everyone from their whole “Let’s buy some crimes!” thing. Buying a real team in a real league would do the trick nicely.

And there’s precedent. The Brooklyn Nets have already passed through the hands of a Russian oligarch owner to an owner whose wealth is majority tied up in Chinese investments.  Embracing Saudi ownership isn’t exactly a huge leap from there. The only question is if owners in the NBA/NHL/NFL/MLB are willing to eat the bad publicity that comes with approving MBS as an owner, but I got $10 billion that says they’ll get over it in short order.

With that in mind, it’s now the NFL offseason and the Commanders sale could happen sometime in the next few weeks. Guess who Danny Snyder would fucking LOVE to sell his asshole team to?

Scott:

For as long as I can remember, I've always worn dark shirts. I never really thought about it, but that's all I ever bought and all my wife ever bought for me. I mean, the colors vary, but they've never been white, cream, light gray, etc. For Xmas this year, I got three light-colored shirts. It's early February and I've already gotten permanent stains on all of them. Do all of my shirts have stains, they just don't show up on the dark shirts that line my closet? Or do the light colors attract stains?

The former. That’s why my closet has more black and grey in it than a Hitchcock film. Every time I try to add a splash of color to my wardrobe, I either end up with visible grease stains or I look like a drunken college mascot. And if I spring for patterns, this is what happens:

I can’t win, man. I will end up dying in neutral colors. At least the last time I died, I had a tux on.

Kevin:

I’ve worked with kids my entire career, mostly as an elementary school teacher and as a children’s librarian. Without a doubt, the single most ineffective parenting move I regularly see is, “Okay, well then I guess I’m just leaving without you!” charade when a kid doesn’t want to leave a place. The parent walks at 25% speed toward the exit, not making eye contact with the kid but totally making eye contact with the kid, as the kid stands/sits there looking at the parent like, “Fucking really? You ain’t going ANYWHERE and we both know it.” Does this ring true with your experience? (I am not a parent). Is there another parenting move that’s even less effective than this?

What you’re describing is the on foot-based equivalent of “Don’t make me turn this car around!” Have kids and you WILL end up making idle threats 50 times a day, if not more often than that. And then you realize how impotent you are as an authority figure and it’s so, so frightening. Nothing ever works. The rare times that something you say DOES work, it feels like fucking Santa Claus arrived at your doorstep. Real rough sledding.

The good news is that both you and your kids age out of idle threats. This is because threats, like yelling and spanking, don’t work. It’s always better to let kids sort out their own shit, or to present orders as a choice to them (“Well we can stay here at the library all day, or we can go home and get a snack”) so that they feel like they have some control over the situation. All of that is easier than done when it comes to very small kids, who are both loud and quite stupid. But once they get to grade school, the whole process gets easier. Parenting is like any other skill in that you get better with experience. Or you become an alcoholic and stop caring one way or the other.

By the way, the most drastic threat I ever pulled on one of my kids was when I took my daughter’s phone away from her and threw it off of our deck. I knew I wouldn’t break her phone by doing this because it would land on our lawn, where the grass is pretty thick. But I really did chuck it. Felt great right up until I thought to myself hey man what if she does that to YOUR phone? And then I slept with one eye open for the next week.

Larry:

Do you use emojis and, if you do, to what extent? 

I am a crusty old boomer when it comes to emojis. I always prefer that people use words because I’m an evangelist for proper writing, and because I find using emojis to be both lazy and unoriginal, the same way I get irritated when people online all work from the same limited vocabulary (“bangers,” “fire,” “slaps,” etc.). And I REALLY hate certain emojis, like the clenched teeth one and what have you. But I’ve already written about those offending emojis, and you’re already bored by this answer, so I’ll quit while I’m ahead. I indeed use certain emojis myself, and here they are:

•Music notes. So I can denote if you’re reading lyrics and not normal words

•The steamnose. Defector’s in-house emoji, which we use to tell each other that we are fired the fuck up to meet our target salary payouts for any given quarter

•The thumbs up. Only unironically, though. Hey Drew, are you going to the store? Thumbs up emoji I am, honey.

•Sirens. If I write a big thing and have to alert Twitter in the quickest, least thoughtful way I can

The Italian fingers thing. Molto bello.

•Any lesser used emoji that’s appropriate to the conversation. Are you texting me from Switzerland? You know I’m giving you that skiing emoji, friendo.

That’s about it. Less is more with emojis.

Chris:

I was driving today and "Lovefool" by The Cardigans came on the radio. I'm sure it was released on a Cardigans album, but I remember it from the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack and it hit me that those kinds of soundtracks don't really seem to exist anymore. The 90s and early 00s were chocked full of amazing soundtrack albums, often better than the movie itself. The gold standard was probably The Crow, and you expected it from movies like Airheads and Empire Records, but even City of Angels had a pretty solid soundtrack. So, what the heck happened to the soundtracks? Did our playlist culture render them obsolete? Did the rise of comic book movies kill them off (Black Panther and both Guardians movies being the obvious exceptions)? Are studios simply too cheap these days to pay up for a dozen good songs to pepper throughout a movie?

We’ve tangoed with this subject in the Funbag before and ended up answering yes to most of those questions. Licensing music costs money, plus no one buys physical albums anymore, so there’s no ancillary profit to be had from putting together a monster soundtrack. So OSTs are no more as an art form.

And do you know what I REALLY miss? I miss when movies had a monster original soundtrack hit that also served as the bed to that movie’s score. I really liked “Live To Tell” by Madonna, but I liked it even more when I watched At Close Range (highly recommended) and the main keyboard riff underscored some of that film’s most dramatic scenes. Same deal with “A View To A Kill” by Duran Duran. That’s a kick-ass storytelling move and, as president, I would bring it back.

Email of the week!

I pulled one of my finest ever parenting moments a few days ago. My 8-year-old was upset right at bedtime and locked himself in his room. We needed him to come out and he was completely obstinate about staying locked in…until I produced a very loud fart from downstairs. He then opened the door and shouted an accusatory “Daddy!” and we were able to get the bedtime routine done. Incredible parenting technique if you ask me.

Concur. Who needs to make idle threats when you have your anus at your disposal?

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