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Long Beach, CA - July 29:Billy the Puppet, from the "SAW" horror film franchise, making its first public appearance, as part of the "SAW X" film promotion and exhibit inside Midsummer Scream, a Halloween and horror convention, at Long Beach Convention Center, in Long Beach, CA, Saturday, July 29, 2023. The latest installment of the series follows serial killer Jigsaw, as he exacts revenge against con artists. The gathering, from Friday through Sunday, features all things Halloween and in the horror genre, with many attendees dressing up as their favorite characters, across TV, film, comics and animation. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times 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 accents, laterals, clipping your nails, Gaza, and more.

Your letters:

Shane:

Regarding the Saw movie franchise, it would take the piss out of it if they had an ineffective Jigsaw/Mastermind building these damn things. Parts not arriving on time. Death contraptions falling apart quickly. How effective or ineffective do you think you would be if you had to be Jigsaw?

I would be pathetic at it. Do you know how bad I’d be at regular murder? I’m a shitty liar. I don’t know how to cover my own tracks. I suck at cleaning up spilled Thai food, much less blood. And I have a big mouth. If I ever killed someone, I’d probably topline the Jamboroo with it the following week using the Serious Drew voice.

So I’m already unqualified. Now you want me to add crafts to the murder process? First of all, my kids aren’t little tykes anymore. I am no longer in the “Let’s make paper snowflakes so that you’re not staring at a screen!” phase of parenting, much to my relief. But not only must you be craft-inclined to build yourself a gerbil maze inside someone’s digestive tract, you basically need degrees in both medicine and engineering. I’d have to go to school for YEARS to figure out how to do that shit. By the time I got my dual degree, I’d be at the age where you have arthritis in every joint. I’d be the worst Jigsaw in history.

Jigsaw wouldn’t even hire me to be his assistant. He’d be like, “Listen Drew, I need you to go to the Home Depot to get me a power drill, a hammer, and a window hinge,” and then I’d come back with a cart full of inflatable Christmas yard decorations instead. I wouldn’t even make a good VICTIM. If I woke up chained to a radiator with a stranger and there was a note that was like, “You must turn the radiator up to 300 degrees and whichever one of you dies first will be the only one who dies,” I’d just choke myself to death to get it over with. I wouldn’t even be good at writing a Saw movie. All of these tasks require people who are not only sociopathic, but also fictional. Forget it.

Josh:

Has the Biden administration’s response to the Israel/Palestine War affected how your plan to vote in 2024? If not, is there anything this administration could do to convince to vote third party/leave your ballot blank?

No to the first question, and likely no to the second. I’m too old to believe in third-party daydreams, and I prefer the bumbling evil of the Democrats to the active evil of the GOP. That doesn’t mean that I APPROVE of how Biden is handling the Gaza situation. He’s doing a shit job. The growing voices of dissent across the country, and across the world at large, are making that more and more evident.

This isn’t something I’ll ever write about at length because I’m a white gentile from Minnesota who cannot possibly understand all of the history and nuances that are inherent in a territorial dispute that dates to before the time of Christ. I am WAY out of my depth here. I’m also, frankly, too timid to write about it. I retweeted Samer’s first column on the invasion, which I thought was very good, and had one reader that I’d always been friendly with tell me that he was “disgusted” by what I’d done. That reader wasn’t alone in being curt with me. So I grew increasingly concerned that anything I said about the Gaza war would be taken the wrong way. Even if I wasn’t saying anything at all. Even if I was just linking to something.

So I’ll just say this: You can be horrified by the atrocities carried out by Hamas while, at the same time, vehemently disapprove of the Israeli government’s response to them (you’ve made your point, Netanyahu; you need to chill the fuck out). Disapproving of Israel’s tactics doesn’t make you a terrorist sympathizer, and sympathizing with Gaza civilians doesn’t make you antisemitic. The rhetorical sides in this conflict would prefer that battle lines be drawn that clearly, but they aren’t, nor should they be. At the same time, I am unable to answer any of the big questions at the center of this conflict. Even asking them feels like staking out territory, so I won’t.

Thus, I am tired. I’m a 47-year-old American, which means that I do know something about shitty wars. This is a shitty war, if it can be called a war at all. I’m sick of war. I’m sick of killing. I’m sick of guns. And I’m sick of endlessly talking about all of those things as if there’s anything else to say except that violence only begets more violence, and that the only people who benefit from that lethal cycle are defense contractors.

Barry (not Petchesky):

If you asked 10 people how many points a touchdown is worth, how many would say seven?

Five? Most people watch football, and only people older than me remember the days when the NFL didn’t allow two-point conversions (the rule was adopted in 1994). So scoring a touchdown doesn’t automatically mean seven the way it used to, and most Americans watch enough football to know that. Some of them probably would just answer “seven” anyway despite knowing better, because it’s easier. I’m not gonna send them to jail for it.

Ricky:

Watching the Chiefs/Dolphins highlights reminded me how the "defense recovers a turnover then attempts a lateral on the return" play may be my favorite play in all of football. But it got me wondering, why is a lateral more acceptable in this situation compared to other plays in football? 

Because defenses practice it. Same deal with scooping and scoring. How many times have you watched a defender try to pick up a fumble to run with it, fail, and then let the offense get the ball back? That’s always irritating, but that defender was given a license by his coaches to make that play. If you practice it, that means it’s been blessed. It’s only when a player truly ad-libs a lateral that the coach will tear his fucking head off. Who told you that you were allowed to lateral, son? THINK YOU’RE MISTER BIG SHOT, DO YA?! RUN 500 HILLS.

Larry:

I've had several discussions over the years on the words cum vs. coming. I've been told that cum is a noun (the actual ejaculate) while coming is a verb (the pleasure). But I've seen them used interchangeably.

They’re interchangable in everyday interactions. “Cum” leaves zero doubt as to what you’re referring to, and has more of a porny sheen to it. Thus, people are likely to opt for “come” in more formal settings. This includes whoever’s in charge of making the subtitles for Netflix and Max, etc. I know because I watch Industry, which is a perfect show if you like a well-written story that also happens to have a LOT of sex in it. I’ve never seen “cum” in the subtitles on that show, and there’s been ample opportunity.

Jeff:

What’s more satisfying: Clipping your toenails or clipping your fingernails?

Fingernails! I know because I only stopped biting my nails two years ago, so I’m new to the whole nail care thing. Since then, I’ve discovered that grooming my fingernails is both easy and pleasurable. I clip, I file, I buff if I’m feeling saucy, and then I admire my handiwork (no pun intended). Very nice little bathroom routine. Not as fun as showering, but nothing is.

Clipping toenails, by contrast, is a COMPLETE pain in the ass. I have to bend over, usually with my foot on the toilet. I have to have my glasses on to see what I’m cutting. And I could give a shit about how the end result looks just so long as I don’t have talons down there. You know you’ve reached peak middle-age when the simple act of toenail clipping becomes arduous. It is now arduous for me. Twenty years from now, I won’t be able to do it at all. I’ll have to ask my wife to do it for me, and won’t she be so lucky?

John:

I know you're in with the inside scoop regarding cooking shows so tell me, what's up with all the running? As a kitchen vet, it makes my ass clench every time someone zips by behind someone else chopping away beside a boiling pot. Don't they know how dangerous running in a food prep area is?

Not if there are only two or three other people in that area, it isn’t. Remember: these contestants have to make their dishes in a set time frame, and are all dying to win. So they run because they have to, and because they can. I’ve worked in restaurant kitchens, and I’ve cooked in the Chopped kitchen. The former is a constant melee where arm burns are inevitable, the latter is a luxury I wish every person on Earth got to experience.

When I was done with my day on Chopped, I was elated that I’d won but also desperate to cook in that kitchen again. You have all the machines and ingredients in the world right there, and all of the room to use them. Make it to the next round and that room only grows. Bumping elbows is rare. If the chefs on Chopped ever looked cramped or in danger, that’s two seconds out of the many hours they spend in that kitchen on that day. The rest of the time, they’re moving with ease. About the only time I felt imperiled on that set was when I grated myself with a microplane by accident, which I do at home as a matter of routine. That incident never made the cut because I didn’t draw blood and just kept on trucking. So that is why people run on these shows, even if they should never do that at home or in restaurant kitchens. There’s a level of freedom and autonomy they won’t get anywhere else, and that’s almost more fun than winning the money.

Because I enjoy cooking alone. My wife observed the other day that, even though the two of us cook, we rarely cook together. This is more my fault than hers. I am a control freak in the kitchen. I want everyone out of there, and I wanna do shit my way. If no one is home and I can make my own lunch or bake my own cookies, I’m in my happy place. I get this from my mother. Ask her if she needs help in the kitchen and she’ll quickly reject you. Same deal with me. I don’t want you fucking up my chicken pot pie.

Owen:

Was Adrian Peterson the last guy who had a shot at Emmitt Smith’s all-time rushing record? The modern NFL offense and the disposability of running backs make the odds of any other guy getting 18,000 yards near impossible. And could Peterson have done it, if he didn’t turn out to be a psycho for child abuse?

Adrian Peterson currently sits at 14,918 career rushing yards, or 3,437 short of Emmitt. He missed virtually all of the 2014 season due to his child abuse non-suspension, but any other time he missed was due to injury or (later in his career) ineffectiveness. So he was never going to break that record, one way or the other. And no one will. Not only are coaches and GMs averse to using workhorse backs, but it’s just too difficult to be one anymore. Dalvin Cook was a worthy successor to Peterson in Minnesota, and his prime lasted five years. Derrick Henry is nearing the end of his prime and he’s only been in the league for eight. If anyone’s big and strong enough to challenge Emmitt, it’s Derrick Henry. He’s nearly 10,000 yards away.

By the way, Peterson has yet to retire and is still looking for a job. I don’t think that phone is gonna ring.

HALFTIME!

Hugh:

I have two work colleagues, one from England and one from South Africa, who have both lived in the US for more than two decades. However, both of them still pronounce “schedule” without the hard “c” sound upfront. I find this (very) mildly irritating, partially because the word gets used a lot in meetings. I can’t prove this, but I do feel that if the roles were reversed and I were an American living in England for two+ decades, I would eventually relent and pronounce it “schedule” without the hard “c.” Am I being an asshole for thinking they should get with the program?

I wouldn’t go so far as to call you an asshole. Let’s just say that I’m not chuffed by the idea of you trying to micromanage other people’s accents. Accents and dialects do not follow hard timelines. My mother-in-law came here from Germany over 40 years ago. She still has a German accent, in part because she arrived in the States barely knowing any English and had to go to a local community college to learn it. So of course she kept her accent, and of course she still pronounces certain words with her own affect. It’s only natural, and it’s part of her identity, one she forged in a distant place.

You don’t have to be speaking an entirely new language to hold onto your old ways of pronouncing things, either. My own speaking voice is a laconic stew of old Minnesotan (ope!), ironic y’alls that at some point stopped being ironic, and the occasional Maryland vowel. I don’t force it. If I deliberately tried to change how I speak to fit into my surroundings, how do you think everyone would react? That’s right: they’d tell me I was a dipshit. I know because I brought saying “cheers” instead of “thanks” back with me after a semester abroad in England. I got shit for that, and rightfully so. You can’t win with people when it comes to your accent. All you can do is let your unconscious shape it. Your accent is your own. No one else gets to order it around.

Also, accents are cool. The world is richer for them. I’d rather my South African colleague keep pronouncing words in their native dialect because it makes me feel worldlier. I don’t want them gradually starting to talk like they’re from fucking Ohio. It’s good when people hold onto those things, and good when they bring them to new shores. Mixing cultures is good. This country, despite its many flaws, is proof of that.

Justin:

I am solo parenting this weekend and, under strict instructions not to watch anything violent or profane in front of my impressionable 16-month-old, I queued up the first season of Boy Meets World. And you know what? It was delightful, and not even just for 90s nostalgia purposes. When the boy went to bed I cracked a beer and kept watching. Am I insane to indulge in a dumb kids show for my own entertainment? 

Nah. You’re all good. It’d be one thing if you were some Ringer-fied dipshit who was like ZOMG PRIME TOPANGA WAS A SERIOUS PROBLEM, but you are clearly not. You had a long day, your brain is fried, and you just want something easy to watch that isn’t as grating as reality TV. This puts you in company with pretty much every other working American, which is why the current broadcast network slate is still shows like Chicago Cop, Sassy Mom, and She’s Not Like Others Doctors, She’s Mentally Ill! Boy Meets World is a similar brand of comfort food, and you’re too old and tired to care if you’re watching what’s cool or not. This is why I still listen to Poison in my off-time. I kill brain cells my way; no one else’s.

Justin:

Every time I watch some sort of spy show or movie, I sit back comfortably and think, "I could do that. I should have been CIA. I like data and am good with people. I could 100% turn someone against their own country and prepare an in-depth report that protects America against the bad guys." Then I watched The Bear and thought, "There's a zero percent chance I could run a restaurant. I would die. I would be in the fetal position inside of the first course on my first night and everything would burn and the polenta would be concrete and Gordon Ramsey would materialize to kick me into a years-long coma." I guess I don't have a real question other than, am I insane?

You are not. One hypothetical occupation, as portrayed on the screen, is simply more appealing to you than the other. You want to think you’d be a good spy, because being a spy looks cool. By contrast, you do NOT want to think you’d be a good chef because being a chef is clearly hell on earth. You work every night and weekend. The pay is shit. The customers are nearly as abusive as your bosses. The stress is unrelenting. You never get a moment’s peace, and if you DO get one while working in a restaurant, someone else is gonna notice and then give you a bucket of onions to chop. This is why I took a dozen bathroom breaks every shift when I worked in one. No one could hassle me if I was in the shitter.

Also, The Bear is based in reality—working in a restaurant really is that strenuous—whereas spy movies are all 100 times more fanciful. I’ve read enough about the inner workings of the CIA to know that being an actual spy isn’t fun at all. You don’t get to wear a tux and play baccarat against Le Chiffre. You’re doing endless amounts of paperwork, poring through hours of video and audio recordings, staking out locations until your eyelids weigh 1,000 pounds, and in constant danger of being jailed/killed. And you get paid shit. Fiction, even gritty shows like The Americans, puts a gloss on that occupation that The Bear does not. It’s all about the portrayal. If you watch Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, you’d be like, “I could run a hamburger stand” within the first 15 minutes.

Colin:

With the announcement of Usher as this year's Super Bowl halftime performer, and a recent string of clearly Millennial-focus grouped (or even younger) artists, have we seen the last halftime show meant for our parents' generation? Looking back, the most recent performer that could arguably be called boomer-enticing artist is Madonna in 2014, though really the last sure pick is The Who in 2010, capping off a boomer run from 2005-2010 that saw Springsteen, Tom Petty, the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney, with only Prince to break up the parade.

Yes. Unless Green Day gets a future invite, we’re done with the Super Bowl halftime show being a classic rock showcase. Rush isn’t gracing midfield anytime soon. But all that means is that the window for what constitutes boomer music is shifting, as Rodger Sherman pointed out during the Dr. Dre halftime show a couple years back:

Hip hop itself is now 50 years old and showing its age. I’m old enough to have lived through hip hop/R&B replacing rock as the dominant musical genre, and now I’m living through it replacing rock as the dominant boomer genre. Usher doesn’t give off as many boomer fumes as Dre currently does, but “Yeah!” is nearly 20 years old. The NFL wants a younger audience, but they also want a wealthy audience. That means you’re always going get halftime performers targeted directly at people who are 30–40 years old and crave an artist of their generation: one who makes them feel young while not actually being young. That’s Usher. That’s Jennifer Lopez. That’s Dre. More of their kind is coming through the pipeline. Once the BTS boys have all gotten married and divorced, they’ll be next.

Tom:

I just soundly invested $20 on the dream of meeting Ratto, and I was wondering, if I win, what specifically should I say or do to elicit the maximum number of scowls from him?

Ratto is extremely cordial in person, to the point where every Defector staffer has noted it already on this website. It’s annoying, frankly. No one here is ever like, “Drew is SO NICE when you meet him!” No no no, it’s all Ray this and Ratto smiled at me that. Awful. If you win our Meet The Grump raffle, I say you should use the opportunity to kick Ray in the ballbag the second you meet him. That’ll get you your scowl.

Joe:

Do you think we'll ever see one of the major sports go full NASCAR and cover their uniforms in advertisements? Or some ridiculous promo where the Home Depot Nuggets will take on the Coca-Cola Hawks?

Some have already broken the seal by putting small ad patches on their uniforms. Those will grow in number over time. They’ll add a second patch to the opposite shoulder, and then one at the bottom, and then the names on the back of the jersey will be bracketed by twin Apple logos. All of that is coming, and I’ll complain about it for three weeks before getting used to it. I’m already used to ads being front and center on EPL uniforms. Whenever Tottenham changes from AIA as its primary sponsor, it’ll look weird and disturbing to me.

The leagues WILL draw the line at team names, though. Naming your team after a city/state keeps up the illusion of it being a public trust, which comes in handy when you’re asking the governor for $3 billion in stadium money. Only the Anaheim Ducks and New York Red Bulls are directly named after products. But the Ducks dropped Mighty from their name in 2006, and I’m not sure if an MLS team counts as important enough to be part of this discussion. So I still consider that line uncrossed.

If the TV money ever dips though, all bets are off.

JJ:

As a new dad and a relatively new homeowner, I’m already in the habit of making big announcements for decidedly mundane things. “Look at this sunset!” “Ooh, a big deer!” “Looks like someone’s having a party!” What’s your most-used dad observation line?

Whenever the kids leave the house, or whenever my wife and two of the kids leave the house, whoever’s left inside is going to be treated to an “Alone at last” or “It’s just you and me now, kiddo!” Even the dog gets it on a daily basis.

Email of the week!

Jared:

I was cooking a stir fry when a rogue drop of hot oil splattered out of the pan and narrowly missed my eye. My immediate thought was not, "Yikes, I need to be more careful" or, "Maybe I should get out that splatter screen I never use." No, the first thing that crossed my mind was, "This is why late Dolphins coach Tony Sparano wore sunglasses all the time." Have you ever instinctively remembered a guy in a time of crisis instead of thinking of something helpful, and is there a way to turn off the guy remembering part of your brain so as not to injure yourself?

Yes and no.

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