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Funbag

If You Don’t Sell Large Pizzas, Fuck You

Woman preparing pizza in kitchen, portrait
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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 dog names, serial killer names, Larry Berry, and more.

Your letters:

Tomark:

I went to a pizza place that had six or seven listed pizzas: only one size, and no create-your-own with toppings. I ordered a pizza and asked to add a topping, and they said. “Sorry, we don’t add toppings.” I’m no libertarian, but we can’t call this country the land of the free if I can’t even pick my own pizza toppings. Pizza menus should have toppings and size. That’s IT. Every adult in this entire country already knows what pizza toppings they like together. I could care less what combos the chef suggests and also fuck you if you only sell personal pizza.

That last point … that’s the important one. I’m very sorry that Tomark ordered from a freakshow restaurant that didn’t allow substitutions for toppings. That’s both rare (I’ve never ordered from such a place) and fascist. But joints that only sell one SIZE of pizza are far more common. In fact, they’re a scourge.

A regular pizza place has a few suggested pizzas with fancy names like The Fifth Avenue (This one has hot honey oooh!), and then they have an à la carte menu with two or three different sizes and the requisite toppings. That’s the right way to go about your business. But as Tomark noted, there is a genre of pizza joint that only sells 12-inch pizzas, each of which costs $16. Ever since the inflation spike, American restaurants have been skimping on portion size to keep their profit margins intact, but pizza shrinkage has been legion in cities and affluent suburbs for many years now, and it is BULLSHIT. You think I don’t see your game, boutique pizza joint? You want me to spend $100 to feed my family on Pizza Night instead of $40 or less. And for that mark-up, I get a tiny-ass pie where every slice consists of exactly two bites before I’m left with just the crust. What is this? I’m a dad. I need a dad slice. A big slice. Who the fuck wants to eat a slice of pizza the size of a sugar cone? That goes against the spirit of pizza entirely.

If I were president (fingers crossed), I would pass a law stating that all pizza restaurants must have an à la carte menu and must offer pizzas at least 18 inches in diameter. If they want to offer tiny pizzas to the cat owners of the world, fine. Go nuts. But you are no longer allowed to fuck me by offering ONLY that size. There’s nothing about a 12-inch pizza that’s inherently more elegant or fresh tasting than a larger one. Quite the contrary. Gimme more pizza or I will put a car bomb in your wood-fired oven.

Nick:

How do you feel about Chuck Klosterman? I feel like you would either really like him or really hate him. It’s hard to imagine anything in the middle of those two.

I like Chuck Klosterman enough, but I’m not a devotee. When Klosterman is doing journalism, like here, he gets incredibly good copy out of people who aren’t normally inclined to give up the goods. I like reading that strain of Chuck Klosterman, although it’s rarely spotted out in the wild. Most of the time, what you get from Klosterman is the kind of esoteric navel-gazing (not at all like what you’d find in this column, nossir) that ushered in an Age Of Nostalgia that has now monopolized every last nook and cranny of pop culture. THAT Chuck Klosterman I could do without.

Also, I resent the fact that apparently only Chuck Klosterman is allowed to write cultural reassessments of hair metal and no one else is. I live in an online world where Britney Spears’s back catalog is treated like it’s the fucking Bill of Rights, and yet the musical accomplishments of Def Leppard are barely acknowledged at all. This is not a culture I respect, and I blame the Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs dude for it. Klosterman himself is an artifact of the early 2000s, and it’s made him enough money that he rarely feels the need to deviate from his old formula. We call this Gladwelling.

By the way, I actually met Klosterman once at a Grantland Super Bowl party we crashed when we were all working for Deadspin. He and I were both in line for the can. I introduced myself and shook his hand. Then the bathroom came unlocked and Klosterman rushed in there like he had to catch a flight. Maybe there was a rare KISS album stashed behind the toilet tank that he was looking for.

Brian:

I’m sure this is your 500th email about this, but can we get a hot take on the demise of the Choco Taco?

My hot take is that the demise of the Choco Taco is a work. Already, Klondike has partially walked back its discontinuation. And if this wasn’t a prototypical brand stunt where they fake the death of the Choco Taco as a way of goosing demand, some other company will fill the gap anyway by rolling out the Sweeto Burrito, or the Helada Enchilada, or the Lotta Tostada. This is 2022. No product ever dies. The only product that has ever stayed dead is PB Max, and I mourn its loss every day.

By the way, I love Choco Taco. A Choco Taco handles better than a King Cone, and it doesn’t collapse like your standard Tuesday Night Old El Paso taco does. Plus, the novelty of “I’m eating a taco, but it’s ice cream!” never gets old. I haven’t had a Choco Taco in years, and I’m not gonna picket outside Klondike headquarters to get them back in convenience store freezers. But I do agree with everyone else that the world is a better place with Choco Tacos in it. I will take back this opinion when they relaunch the brand and hire Jake Paul as their online spokesperson for the campaign.

Ross:

Let’s say I win the Mega Millions, and then go to Vegas, bet it all on Red twice, and win. I, a regular middle class single man in his 30s, now have exactly the right amount of money in my bank account to purchase the Nationals. After the purchase, I will have zero dollars to my name. Is this a good idea? 

No. Buying the Nationals is very much a good idea, because it gives you access to a money spigot that never runs dry, no matter how many awesome players you trade away. But if you’re a billionaire, you don’t buy a sports team with YOUR money. That’s a needless risk when you can heap all of it onto a willing creditor, or onto a series of shell companies all headquartered in Botswana, or onto your best rich friends. There is a level of wealth you can attain where taking on a frightening amount of debt somehow works in your favor. Even our stupidest owners know this. In fact, it’s likely all they know. So if you win all that money (and thank you to Ross for reminding me of one of the cooler scenes in movie history with his question), you don’t spend it. Because now you have free rein to spend everyone else’s money instead. Society!

David:

How are martini glasses still a thing? How were they ever a thing? How is it that decades ago, when martinis were invented, everyone didn’t tell the bartender to fuck off and use a functional glass?

Because martini glasses look cool as shit, that’s why. There are a few epicurean reasons why a martini glass is shaped the way it is, but those take a backseat to the aesthetic reason. I could drink a martini out of a paper cup, but that would kill the fun now, wouldn’t it? If you wanna look both elegant and dangerous, it’s vital to have your martini served in a miniature art deco birdbath. Servers despise these glasses with a fearsome passion, but do they ever feel right when you’re holding one in your hand. A martini glass is an icon.

That said, if you’re about to get married, never register for them. When my wife and I got married, we registered for both martini AND margarita glasses. We never used either. I’m not even sure we unboxed them. We were young and drunk, and we were like, “Let’s get a dozen martini glasses so our friends can come over and we can all rock each other’s party world!” Cans of beer do that trick with far less fuss. Register for silverware instead.

Sam:

Whenever I buy a nice grated cheese, I often find myself opening it like a can of long cut Skoal, taking a huge pinch, and jamming it in my mouth. Do you do this?

Does anyone not? You grated that cheese. You earned the right. I steal a pinch all the time. What I DON’T like is when I grate the cheese until my elbow dislocates, and then my kids swoop in to grab their own pinches. Girl, you didn’t put in any work for that cheese. Everyone wants a goddamn handout these days. And will you eat it over the goddamn counter?! You got cheese snow all over our hardwood floors! I HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY, MISSY.

Matt:

My wife and I both work in healthcare and our daughter is in elementary school. Somehow, none of us has yet contracted COVID. I hope I don’t jinx it by writing this, but at this point it’s almost causing more anxiety than if we’d had it by now. This is because society itself is moving on, which is probably fair with the emerging treatments, decrease in lethality, etc. But at the same time it just feels like my family and I are under the Sword of Damocles, never knowing which of our major life events is about to be disrupted. Any suggestions for how to cope, or should I just prepare for the inevitable?

Well first off, congrats for avoiding COVID for as long as you have. You’re playing the game The Right Way, and that’s to be commended. Better to be grateful for staying healthy, and having the manly man power to deke out COVID, than to waste time fretting over if/when you’ll get it. The chances are that you’ll get COVID eventually—especially when school starts up again and every kid on Earth re-infects one another with every transmissible disease, the same way they do at the start of every school year—but the chances are also high that your case will be annoying but also relatively benign.

That was the case with me. When I got COVID, I felt like I had lost a video game on the final level. I was like GOD DAMMIT I WAS SO CLOSE. But then I was sick for a few nights and that was it. I know people who’ve had cases with longer tails than mine, meaning they’ve felt fatigued for weeks after the fact. There’s a chance that you, Matt, get that strain of it, or that you hit the reverse Mega Millions and end up dying. Then again, (Pacino voice) you can get killed walkin’ yo doggie. And the CDC just declared FUCK IT this month with COVID, so you can go ahead and follow their lead. If you do end up getting the virus, it’ll never be at a good time. It’ll disrupt your plans, just like any other illness does. But there’s no point to cower in fright at the prospect. Live your life, amigo.

HALFTIME!

Jeff:

What is the correct response when a person you are talking to interrupts the conversation to say, “Oh by the way, so-and-so says hello!” Great? Thanks? Hi back? Do I address my answer to the person I’m talking to as if they are the third party? It’s always so awkward.

It’s not that awkward. They’re just letting you know that an old friend was thinking of you. That’s a pleasant moment. Let’s Remember Some Friends, etc. I usually say “Thank you,” in return, or I tell them to say hi back for me. Or I tell them, “Tell that piece of shit he still owes me $50.” Either way, I walk away from that exchange feeling a little bit sunnier.

29 Sunset:

Is it better to give people names to pets, like Leonard, Grace, Fisher, or Carter? Or is it better that they have whimsical names, like Cupcake, Beastie, Snoozypants, or Mr. Detective?

You can always tell which pets were named by the children in the family and not by the parents. When I was growing up, my best friend had a dog named Puffy. I guarantee you that he and his sister named that dog. The parents would have named the dog Francis or something, so they were wise to bequeath naming duties to the kids. Puffy is a perfectly good dog name, even if Puffy wasn’t really all that puffy. A rather lean collie, that one.

My sweet spot for pet names (dogs, at least) are human first names that don’t get used for humans terribly often. I always wanted a dog named Kirby, both because of Kirby Puckett and because Eddie Murphy invented a dog named Kirby to pick up women in Boomerang. Instead, we got Carter. The name “Carter” is an odd match for a fluffy white rescue dog, but that was the name the shelter gave him and we were too lazy to ever change it. I’m happy with Carter being Carter now. If the pet can grow into the name, it works. No need to overthink it.

Shane:

Saw that the browser tab for the Defector main page now reads “Defector/The Last Good Website” (It reminds of Round Table Pizza’s “The Last Honest Pizza” ads). What are some other good websites that you recommend? My own list is dwindling.

Uhhh … SFGate? Can I say that? No? Shit. Listen man, the whole reason we came up with that tagline was because it was essentially true. With the exception of Purple Insider, I don’t patronize other websites routinely. I just do what everyone else does and click on links sent to me by people I trust on social media or in Slack. But my days of scrolling through Gorillamask to pass the time are long over. Or remember Double Viking? That wasn’t even a Vikings website; it just linked to movie news and photos of hot women. That was all I required back in my days as a loyal Maxim subscriber.

But now, destination websites don’t really exist. This is good in the sense that people online have figured out a way to tighten their digital radius. But also, I miss Holy Taco and what not. Instead, all I get online is a bunch of shitty gifs. This is God’s way of telling me that I need to read more books.

Kevin:

My fiancée and I bought a house (moving in about a month). She’s pretty introverted while I am a social butterfly, so I ask this: What is the protocol for talking to our soon-to-be neighbors? Do I let them approach us, or do I make first contact with them?

Just introduce yourself when you see them for the first time. You don’t have to do the 1950 thing and bake a fresh pie for them. Just spot them in a free moment, offer a handshake, and go from there. Unless you live in New York City. If you bought a house in New York City, A) Congratulations for having $25 million lying around, and B) Do not interact with your neighbors under any circumstances. Don’t talk to them. Don’t even LOOK at them. It’s a crowded-ass city and everyone there is desperate to preserve what little personal space they have, so keep your mouth shut and your head down. If a neighbor talks to you, shoot them a glance like you’re about to knife them in the throat. Only way to go.

Josh:

Say that you have to change your last name. You can pick it, but it has to be a well known serial killer’s last name. What do you pick?

I don’t like the last name Bundy, and that’s not even because of Ted Bundy. I just find it to be an ugly name. “Hi there, neighbor! I’m Drew Bundy!” Ugh. Horrible. The only good Bundy is King Kong Bundy. That’s actual and factual. The good news is that most of America’s worst serial killers have somewhat common last names that are not inextricably linked to them: Ramirez, Ridgway, Holmes, even Berkowitz. You wouldn’t recoil at a Sammy Berkowitz living down your block. “Dahmer” is about the only last name that automatically makes me think of one criminal in particular. Maybe “Gacy” too. Otherwise, your full name could literally be Dennis Rader and I’d still be comfortable in your presence. I know you’re not THAT Dennis Rader, so I’m good. This is why I never found the Joel Rifkin episode of Seinfeld all that convincing, and that is my remarkable opinion about ’90s television.

By the way, for Josh’s question I went through the Wikipedia entry on history’s most prolific serial killers and some of these guys had truly bad-ass* names. Like Daniel Camargo Barbosa. Sounds like a kick-ass pirate! Or Bruce George Peter Lee! That’s all the name of one guy! Is that guy British? You know he is. And who wouldn’t want a cornerback on their team named Randall Woodfield or Charles Ray Hatcher? These are good names. I’d be proud to name my next dog after any of them.

*The internet ruined that word but I’m gonna bring it back!

Steven:

I have friends whom I really enjoy meeting with in person from time to time. They’re really nice and interesting. However, their online presence is abhorrent. I hate everything they post. They’re obnoxious and arrogant online. Should we separate our friends from their online personas? Or are they one in the same?

This is the curse of the digital age: You now know everything about everyone. It’s like being an NFL scout, but for everyone you know. That’s why superficiality has its purpose. If you only know someone’s nice side, that’s often enough. You don’t need to see them in totality. You don’t need to know that your otherwise friendly work buddy also happens to support The Insurrection, of if they find The Borowitz Report funny. If you’re like me, you’re gonna get hung up on the bad shit and then discount all of the good shit … [New York Times columnist voice] and that’s why we live in such fractured times. So stop following these people online, or just do what I do and mute them. Banish their worst attributes from your thoughts, and remember that some people are simply bad at being online. I’m sure I have friends who feel that way about me, and I’m all too glad that they never mention it.

Alex:

I’m on a middling at best beer league softball team and had this thought last night with all of the trade rumors swirling around: if my team were to add Juan Soto, would that one extremely overqualified person be able to take us out of the league basement and win us a championship? He’d be guaranteed to hit a home run every time, but he’s only one guy in the lineup and can only cover a small portion of the field on defense.

If Juan Soto were on your beer league softball team, you would win the title instantly and decisively. Let him fucking pitch if he wants. He’d smoke the shit out of every other team. It doesn’t matter if the rest of you suck. Soto would easily make up the difference. Plus he’d always be good to cover his league dues.

Chad:

What’s the funniest accent to hear say the name, “Larry Berry”?

French. French is the funniest accent, period. I first watched Eddie Murphy: Delirious 39 years ago and, to this day, whenever I think of the French accent, the first thing I think of is Murphy doing his impression of it. So if some dude named Pierre came up to me and said, “I em lookeeng for ze LehREE BehREE,” I would fucking die.

By the way, when your last name is Magary, as mine is, that instantly rules out a dozen baby names for you and your spouse. Magary is pronounced muh-gary, which means baby names like Larry, or Harry, or Mary, or Jerry, or Mister Foreign Dignitary are all off the board tout suite. You have to be equal parts ballsy and stupid to give your kid a rhyme scheme name, and I am neither of those things.

Peter:

Of all the new technology made to cars, isn’t the e-brake the most disappointing one? I used to speed around in the winter time channeling my inner Ronin pulling up on the parking brake as I fishtailed around corners. Now if I want to do it, it’s either a third pedal or a button on the dashboard WTF?

Wait, do you guys actually drift in your cars normally? I have never done that. I’d be terrified to even venture the attempt. I have lived in fear of the parking brake my entire life. One time when I was a kid, I pulled the parking brake up on one of my grandparent’s sedans when they weren’t in the car (it was parked and the ignition was off). When they found out, they cuffed me on the wrist. When I got old enough to drive, I ALWAYS inadvertently left the parking brake on before pulling out of the driveway and then freaked out that I had broken the car by driving 30 yards with it still up.

So I was deeply grateful when I bought a new car a year ago with a push-button emergency brake that toggles on and off automatically. All of my parking brake angst … GONE. Just like that. A fucking miracle. I admire those of you with the automotive chutzpah to pull a Fast & Furious in your Honda Civic, but I am not made for such things. Let’s get to more germane car gripes…

Brian:

Like you, I enjoy a good minivan. Not my ideal car, but if I’m gonna pack the fam in the car and take a road trip, it’s gonna need to be a minivan. There isn’t another easy choice for a family of six. But damn, the safety features are driving me up the wall. Changing lanes? Beep beep beep. The “can’t back the car up with the door open” feature. Lane departure alerts. The seemingly random times the word BRAKE pops on the heads up display for literally no reason at all. Hell, sometimes I just want to work the tailgate myself, even if that’s not a safety feature. Forget the people who rant about a nanny state, the Nanny Car is the real problem! 

This is accurate. First-world problems etc., but my new car treats me like I’m 85 years old: just an endless series of beeps and lights telling me that I’m driving wrong. Listen car, if anyone is gonna backseat drive in this car, it’s gonna be my wife, okay? I don’t need YOU to handle that duty. But every five feet, my Tucson will alert me that the road surface is uneven. I couldn’t turn this alert off, so I took it to the dealer and they told me that the sensor went off because I had driven over raised paint. Motherfucker, that’s not an uneven road surface. That’s just a road surface. I better be driving through an ongoing earthquake to set that thing off. The dealer told me the alert can’t be disabled in any way, so I’m stuck with this needy-ass car alerting me anytime I have the gall to drive over a fucking twig.

Nice car though.

Email of the week!

Zach:

Does the definition of a sauce lie in its form or its function? If it’s function, then what do we do with sauces that are often either eaten on their own, such as applesauce, or used as an ingredient but not as a sauce in and of itself, like fish sauce? And what is that sauce function? Does it need to be drizzled atop a food, or can it be dipped into or spread? If it’s a matter of form, then what about sauces that don’t take a “saucy” form? Is cranberry sauce then not a sauce? If cranberry sauce gets let in, what about chutneys and chunky salsas? And what about saucy things that definitely aren’t sauces, like blended soups and thick beverages? I’ve thought about this for years and believe it to be unanswerable. Please prove me wrong.

I cannot.