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Funbag

I Love Basic Shit!

YAKIMA, WA - DECEMBER 28: A double cheeseburger, fries and soda lie on a table at Majors Hamburgers December 28, 2003 in Yakima, Washington. Two farms have been quarantined in Sunnyside and Mabton, Washington by the U.S.D.A after it was determined that a cow that came from the farms had been infected with mad cow disease, the first such case in the U.S. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s novel, Point B, while you’re at it. Today, we’re talking about Gatorade, dogs who eat vomit, people who hate bacon, and more.

Your letters:

Brendan:

When COVID started, I implemented a strict “no bummers” policy when it came to my pandemic entertainment, as a means of preserving my sense of happiness and escapism during a globally stressful time. That meant no depressing movies about heartbreak, no TV shows to remind me of fragility of life, and no incredibly realistic depictions of a bleak dystopia for me to read about before I try to sleep. So far this has worked out well enough for me (Private Parts is on streaming!), but I’m starting to worry that I’m indoctrinating myself too much with easy comfort viewing, and am on the fast track to saying Marvel movies are better than anything by Martin Scorsese. On the other hand… (*gestures broadly towards everything else*) Am I wrong for trying to live in a comfort bubble of Seinfeld reruns?

No, you’re not wrong. You gotta do what you gotta do for the sake of mental preservation. I’ll never understand people who, like, re-watch The Office five times over even when there ISN’T a virus outside, but I get why you implemented your broader policy. I myself have committed to staying positive in 2021, and it’s already grating on everyone around me. I’m walking around with my eyes bugged out and being like WE’LL ALL BE VACCINATED BY APRIL AND IF YOU THINK OTHERWISE YOU’RE PART OF THE PROBLEM! Highly irritating shit. I also muted half my Twitter feed because too many people are tweeting as if Trump is still President.

So yeah, I feel you. I don’t care to be emotionally challenged right now. To that end, I’m dedicated to consuming nothing but middlebrow entertainment for the rest of quarantine. I’m watching Lupin (my mom recommended it) and it’s perfect for that kinda thing. It’s got cool locations (French prison!), gratuitous heisting, and you can turn off the shitty dubbing. THREE STARS. I watched both Ghost Rider movies with my son, along with both seasons of The Mandalorian. I loved Outer Banks despite myself. I loved The Gentlemen because it had Cockney accents, tasteful clothing, and lots of beatings. I have an entire slew of shitty, straight-to-Netflix action movies, like Extraction, high on my priority list. And I’ve been listening to a decent amount of old Snow Patrol (Final Straw, really). All incredibly basic shit.

But basic is what I crave. Everything that comes out of the industry now is either WAY too ambitious or not ambitious at all. I need more entertainment that’s reliably average. Three-star movies are what please me, and they’re not always easy to find. I genuinely hope that, once the pandemic is over (and it WILL be over soon, so help me God), the dreaded MONOCULTURE will gravitate away from tentpole movies and Emmy bait and force Hollywood to churn out more reliably adequate fare.

Because everyone has gotten too picky about everything. They’re all so horny for the BEST movie/show/album/restaurant that any three-star review is basically a death sentence. Would you go to a restaurant that got three stars on Yelp? No. No, you’d ask yourself, “Hey man, what kind of roaches is that place serving?” And everything that IS sold as comfort food to you, be it literal or metaphorical, is normally a deconstructed, upscale, more expensive version of that comfort food. It’s fucking annoying. Just gimme what’s basic and let my brain chill. It’s earned it.

Ken:

So a friend of a friend (I know) got the “inside scoop” from a player on the Eagles, who lives in their neighborhood: apparently, Jeff Lurie’s Chief of Security came down to the field in the fourth quarter and told Doug Pederson to bench Hurts for Sudfeld, or he will be fired the next day, The reason given is so they can lose and get a higher draft pick. Would you believe a story like that? Or think that’s a fabrication from someone, be it the player or the neighbor/friend?

I would absolutely believe it, because that’s more fun than calling out FAKE! on the report. People who yell FAKE! are killjoys and losers; the kind of people who graduated to crying FAKE! from being dudes who go FIRST! in every comment section. Sure, many of them are just looking to “verify” a story that’s “thinly sourced,” but fuck all that. It’s more fun to believe that Jeffrey Lurie sent a random goon down to the sidelines, forced Doug Pederson to play a total pud to deliberately lose a game, and then FIRED Pederson after the fact to cover his tracks. It’s a beautiful conspiracy theory. All of the pieces fit, and it dovetails perfectly with the Eagles devolving into a hilarious shitwreck ever since they won the title.

Anyone who wants to FAKE! to that story should walk around playgrounds screaming SANTA ISN’T REAL while openly masturbating. That’s how low on the species totem pole they are.

(For real though, that definitely never happened.)

Alex:

I saw you mentioned Everybody’s Golf in a recent Funbag. I love that game so fucking much, but I hate golf. What percentage of people that play sports games have no interest in the sport whatsoever outside of only playing said video game? 

Does Mario Kart count as a sports game? No? I’m gonna say less than half. I love Everybody’s Golf, but I used to play golf back when my spine allowed for it. I play Madden because I love actual football, and the only reason to buy Madden this century is to get updated player rosters because you follow the NFL. This is a poor vantage point because I’m a sportswriter, but I don’t really know or work with anyone who plays sports video games and doesn’t also follow those sports in real life, at least casually. Like, I play FIFA too, but I watch soccer. The only possible exceptions here are:

  • Racing games. But nobody plays actual NASCAR video games. I’m only playing a racing game if the track is made of rainbows and I can get powerups like a dashcam bazooka along the way.
  • Wii Sports Resort. But this isn’t 2009.
  • Fighting games. But again, I’m not playing Mortal Kombat and being like, “Hey man, is this game officially sanctioned by the IOC?”
  • Extreme sports. Remember 720°? No? It was really cool. The joystick was a spinny joystick!
  • Golf. And even kickass golf games like Everybody’s Golf aren’t exactly accurate simulations of the real sport. I know because I can drive the ball 450 yards in that motherfucker.

I’m gonna be stingy and say only 25 percent of sports gamers don’t care about the real-life version of the sport they’re playing. I anticipate, and welcome, your rebuttal in the comments below.

By the way, I changed my Everybody’s Golf character recently. For the bulk of the year, he was a smiley white guy. Well, I gave him a makeover. I made him fat. I gave him a new suit, new eyes, a black hat, a pouty frown, and a Doc Holliday mustache. I also made him black, which means that whenever I see him now, I think that he’s my original white guy character walking around in blackface. He must now be canceled.

Lexa:

What’s the worst middle/high school class? Let’s rule out bullying/humiliation (aka probably not PE) and go by sheer awfulness of its own subject matter? I have to go for either Math (which I was very good at but has never been made fun by anyone ever) or the generic Music class we had to take for a quarter in middle school and junior high. Economics, a required senior half-year course, was also terrible.

It’s foreign language. My oldest kid loves taking Spanish but she’s had GOOD Spanish teachers. I did not. The only time I enjoyed Spanish class was when we got to sing, and only my seventh grade Spanish teacher sang. The rest of them were all stern, joyless dickheads. No class had me eye-banging the clock harder than Spanish, and Spanish is WAY more fun than, like, French.

My inattention cost me. After studying that language for a fucking decade, my current Spanish vocabulary is fucking pathetic. I know callate means shut up and that’s about it. I should have tried harder.

Now, for fun, lemme rank basic middle/high subjects in my preferred order.

  1. Biology
  2. Art
  3. Drama
  4. Social Studies/History (unless it’s ANY history from before the Civil War)
  5. Math
  6. Chemistry
  7. Study Hall
  8. English
  9. Choir
  10. Band
  11. Physics
  12. Foreign Language

I can’t believe I ended up majoring in English, much less becoming a writer for pay. Don’t know how that happened. Probably because my fingers were too fat for me to become a surgeon.

Matt:

You’re stuck in an elevator, you want to be alone or have people in there with you?

Alone. COVID or no COVID. I never wanna share an elevator. If it gets stuck, I sure as fuck don’t want COMPANY. This isn’t a rom-com. My elevator mates and I aren’t gonna become soulmates from that plight. We’re all gonna quietly freak out and stare at our phones until help arrives. I can do that on my own, thank you. I can also freak out on my own without anyone else having to witness it. I can scream at the camera and bang on the door and press every button 50 times over and think about climbing up through the ceiling like they do in heist movies before quickly reconsidering. That would all be highly therapeutic. So long as no one else is trapped in there with me.

Brian:

During the last few minutes of the Giants-Cowboys game a few weeks ago, my eleven year-old son asked me whether a team can use a time-out to start the clock, a sort of “time-in,” either to negate the effect of the opposing team running out of bounds, or to re-start the clock after it has been stopped by a prior timeout. I told him this was not allowed, but that it absolutely should be. Is this a great idea, or is it the greatest idea ever? I’ll hang up and listen. 

It’s a bad idea. You want more of the game in the hands of the players and NOT the coaches. Your kid’s wrinkle just gives Matt LaFleur another chance to fuck up. Like I said before, being an NFL head coach is a confusing, laborious, annoying job. That’s especially true during games, when coaches have to watch their game plans unfold in real time, and then analyze and adjust them on the fly. It’s a pain in the ass. Adding challenge flags and anti-time outs and all kinds of other elaborate bells and whistles to gametime strategy only makes the job more confusing. Unmanageable.

And these are profoundly stupid men we’re talking about. For every instance where you get a rush of satisfaction seeing your coach cancel out one of Belichick’s timeouts, there will be a dozen instances where the reverse scenario happens. You will die. Your son is tinkering with forces beyond his comprehension.

Noah:

Is it still possible for me to wear my throwback ’96 Brett Favre jersey without endorsing his politics? Or should I invest in a Charles Woodson jersey? 

You can still wear that jersey, sure. First of all, it’s a throwback jersey. You’re making it clear that you’re not a fan of the MAGA-humping Brett Favre of 2021, but rather the pill-popping, sheep-fucking Brett Favre of 1996. Totally different Favre. Still an insufferable dickhead, but different. You’re a fan of the player, not the retired old fascist.

I wouldn’t even judge someone for wearing a Schilling jersey. I mean, I KNOW they’d be an annoying Red Sox fan, but I wouldn’t give much of a shit past that. Schilling’s name isn’t even on the back of that jersey. And if I had to torch a jersey based on a player’s political beliefs, I wouldn’t be able to wear half the jerseys out on the market, at a minimum. Athletes, by and large, are cocks.

Pretty much the only time you should avoid a jersey is if it’s an athlete who committed documented atrocities, like Aaron Hernandez, Rae Carruth, and Aroldis Chapman. THAT’S when I’m allowed to get a little judgey. That’s why I threw out my Adrian Peterson jersey. Although that one was a replica jersey. So I think it only cost, like, $40. 

HALFTIME!

Morgan:

Today my wife and I searched the neighborhood for our dog who had disappeared (she was 14 and too old/lazy to leave the yard anymore…we thought). I found her in my neighbor’s yard absolutely going to town on what I am reasonably sure was frozen vomit. There were pieces of chicken and carrot that were visible, and the whole shebang was in the bushes in the back of the yard. Do I have to tell my wife what I found her doing (I didn’t)? I’m pretty sure any germs would have been killed by freezing and she doesn’t let the dog lick her face. I don’t want to add more stress to her day knowing that our sweet old golden was eating the neighbor’s leftovers.

I would have told my wife, but not out of a guilty conscience. I would have told her strictly for the gossip. “You wanna know what I caught this piece of shit doing?” I sell out our dog to the wife and kids all the time: when he pisses on his own foot (constant), when he finds a piece of deer shit in the yard and rubs his back in it, when he’s got a big dingleberry, all of it. What does the dog care? They can’t speak English. There’s no safer creature to throw under the bus than your own dog. Every week I’m like THIS MANGY PIECE OF SHIT JUST TRIED TO FUCK A RABBIT, AND HE AIN’T EVEN GOT ANY BALLS! Then I give him some cheese anyway.

So if I caught Carter eating vomit? Oh yeah, that goes on his permanent record. My wife would smell it on him a mile away anyway. No sense in me clamming up and then BOTH of us get in trouble over it.

Todd:

I used to work with someone who professed to really hating bacon… is this even diplomatically ALLOWED in the US of A?! 

Sure, man. More bacon for me. BIPPITY BOPPITY BACON. There are a lot of reasons some Americans hate bacon. They’re vegetarian. It’s too greasy. It’s too salty. It gives them heartburn. All that. Is any of that hate RATIONAL? No. It’s fucking weak. But again, that just leaves more bacon for Drewbear. Let them live their long, empty, flavorless lives without it.

Dustin:

What percentage of all the Gatorade consumed in a year is consumed because of hangovers?

Less than you think because Gatorade is, at heart, for kids. You give it to kids when they have the stomach flu. You give it to them after youth sports. And then they go to 7-Eleven alone for the first time and buy their own quart of Gatorade to chug in six seconds flat. I know that’s how I rolled with Gatorade back in high school. First time I ever got to buy my own shit at a convenience store, I felt like a fucking millionaire.

Anyway, I’ll be stingy again and call it 30 percent. If you drink Gatorade when you’re hung over (and I never did, which was a big unforced error on my part), you’re probably drinking a lot of it other times, too. Gatorade is water for bachelors.

Alison:

Why was Alvin Kamara fined $5k for wearing two different colored shoes, but the NCAA allows Oregon’s basketball court floor to look a mess like it does?!?

Because the NFL and the NCAA suck in ways that end up reflected differently in how they do commerce. The NFL only has 32 teams, so the league is strident, to totalitarian extremes, about keeping all 32 of those brands consistent. You can’t have your socks pulled down. You can change the decals on your team helmet but not the shell of the helmet. You can only wear interesting cleats during We Co-Opted Our Players Feet And Forced Them To Choose From A List Of Pre-Approved Charities month. And you can’t wear cops are pigs socks or else you’ll never have a job in the NFL again. The style guide is comprehensive and watertight.

The NCAA is different because it has 56,000 teams. All of them want to make money. All of them want to get on TV. And all of them want to lure in recruits with shiny objects without having to actually PAY those recruits. That’s how you end up with endless alternate jerseys, blue football fields, chrome helmets, and an Oregon court that looks like a photo negative of used toilet paper. Nike owns Oregon’s athletic department, mind you, which makes Oregon the beta testing lab for all of the Nike design team’s strangest ideas. For the NCAA, variety is the spice of greed. Meanwhile, the NFL’s entire business model apparently hinges on whether or not there’s a loose thread in Patrick Mahomes’s belt.

Nicholas:

I was explaining to a friend what a guy/dude was last week, and he asked “so Brady is a Dude?” I responded he’s a HoFer, which is clearly beyond a Dude. I’m definitely getting too Simmons-y here, but this also made me question the need for a level between Dude and HoFer. 

I actually don’t agree with David Roth’s pantheon arrangement (you’re the one who got Simmonsy first; don’t @ me). Roth believes that if you’re more than just a Guy, you count as a Dude. I don’t believe in Dudes. You’re either a Guy, like Ricky Ervins was, or you’re not. If you’re Tom Brady, your actual name has earned a permanent, lasting place in the collective memory of every sports fan. Tom Brady gets to be Tom Brady. Ditto Michael Vick. Ditto Gary Payton. Ditto Martin Brodeur. Etc, etc. Guys are exclusively retired athletes who you remember only when prompted, or when the thought of them comes to my mind for reasons beyond your understanding, like when you get an old song stuck in your head randomly. There’s no other circumstance under which I’m gonna think extensively about Ike Hilliard.

Clint:

Did they move the entire NCAA tournament to Indy purely because the NCAA is headquartered there?

Probably. There’s also the whole Indiana thing, although I don’t think any non-Indianan younger than me thinks of that state as the epicenter of basketball. Why would they? Hoosiers is 35 years old. The last time IU won a men’s NCAA title was 1987. People only give a shit about the Indiana Pacers when they’ve traded someone good to another team. In 2021, there’s NOTHING about Indiana that’s relevant to the game of basketball.

So yeah, it makes more sense to believe the 2021 tourney is being staged in Indy strictly so that NCAA administrators don’t have to board an airplane. Any other narrative attached to it is just some fucking script Jim Nantz will be politely asked to read on the air.

Starke:

I’m compiling a non-googled roster of current A-list actors that DON’T do product endorsements. Tom Cruise is the only one I can think of. Is this because he actively turns them all down, or because corporations know he would make a terrible spokesperson and don’t call his agent?

It ain’t a lack of corporate interest. They’ll hire any celebrity to do ads. You’ve seen those Jen Garner debit card ads, yeah? Garner clearly fucking HATES doing them, but they keep hiring her anyway. Meanwhile, Tom Cruise would make the greatest pitchman on the Earth, man. You see how hard he sells his own movies. If Right Guard hired Tom Cruise to shill deodorant, Tom Cruise would fucking DIE if you opted for Degree instead. The man does nothing half-assed. Ask anyone who won’t wear a mask around him.

But Starke is right. Cruise doesn’t do any ads and never has. A lot of A-listers do their dirty work abroad to rake in sponsorship money. This was especially true back in the ’90s, when there was a stigma, or at least a perceived one, in doing ads back home. That stigma is gone now, but I still can’t find ANY ads, from anywhere, from any point in time, with Cruise as the spokesman. Maybe it’s because he has enough money already. Maybe Scientology forbids it. Or maybe it’s because Tom Cruise is a fucking freak and no one will ever know what’s going on in his glossy little brain. It’s probably that.

By the way, I watched Ghost Protocol last weekend and it’s still good (three stars!). But it’s also strange that the final action sequence in that movie takes place in a glorified Carvana garage. You just scaled the Burj Khalifa an hour ago, Tom. Only way to raise the stakes from there is to fight someone on top of fucking K2.

Ian:

Every now and then I try to show my daughter some of the old movies on Disney+, and aside from the casual racism every movie features somewhere between 2 and 25 minutes of opening credits where nothing happens. How on earth did they ever get away with this? I want to die if I have to wait more that 25 seconds for them to get to the point. Getting any kid to try something new instead of watching Frozen 2 for the 900th time is like defusing a bomb as is. I don’t need this kinda foreplay, Classic Disney.

That’s like when I had my kids watch the Bela Lugosi Dracula on Halloween and the opening credits were half the running time. The kids tapped out before we even got to the opening shot. This is because old movies put ALL the credits up front. When the movie is over, you get a THE END and then the screen cuts to black. At some point in movie history, the technical credits migrated to the end (you know the movie is over when that UNIT PRODUCTION MANAGER title pops up). And then, a couple decades ago, studios said FUCK IT and put all the credits back there, including the big ones. I’ve sat through movies where they don’t even bother to tell you the title of the fucking thing before diving right in. They know you know what movie you’re watching. No need to fuck around … until they hold you hostage through the extended end credits so you can get a sneak peek at Venom 2: Tongue Like An Ox.

Anyway, I have no good advice for you. You can either fast forward through those opening credits, or you can force the kids to watch them on principle before they flee the room a minute later.

Adam:

Do you think you could get the gist of what a person is all about if you looked at their phone and just saw what apps they have?

Nope. Someone who has Twitter and Insta and Netflix and all the other basics on their home screen could be a perfectly normal person, or a TOTAL psychopath. Such is the diversity of social media and what not. A true melting pot. I’m sure people (homicide detectives) could glean the basics if all your apps were sports apps, or filmmaking tools, or alternatives to Parler. But otherwise, it’s just another phone.

And lemme tell you something: this is especially true when people FUCK with the app icons. I had to go through my 14-year-old’s phone a few weeks ago to make sure she wasn’t being a moron online. She renamed all of her apps. Even worse, she changed all of the app icons to random pictures. I didn’t even know you could do that. I had no fucking idea what apps I was looking at. I had to go the girl and be like, “Hey yo, this one that’s a picture of a dog with the word ‘pfart’ under it, what app is that?” It was TikTok. Bewildering.

Email of the week!

Matthew:

Last year, I got one of those Ancestry DNA kits for my birthday. Aside from learning your ethnic background, one of the perks is being able to see if other Ancestry users may be long lost family members or relatives. One of the people linked to me was an absolutely gorgeous woman who looked nothing like me and was listed as being a sixth cousin. This immediately terrified me, as I began wondering just how many people out there have dated or married their distant cousins without even realizing it. How common do you think something like this is? And what is considered an acceptable relative distance for two people to date or marry? If I am being honest, this realization has made me want to move to a country I have nothing in common with genetically and find my soulmate there, just to be safe.

You’ve taken the exact wrong lesson away from this, Matthew. What you should have learned from those results is that you need to fuck your sixth cousin.