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Funbag

I’m Worried People Might Get The Wrong Impression From My Satanist Tattoo

Kean Collection/Getty Images

Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And preorder Drew’s next book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we’re talking about glasses, Satan, extreme old man shit, bad nicknames for nicknames, and more.

Your letters:

Edward:

During this pandemic, I began to learn more about Satanism, and now I identify as a Satanist.

Go on.

In a fit of what can now be best described as a stupidly naive ’embracing my new belief system moment’, I went out and got a tattoo.

As one does when they’ve embraced the devil.

I feel great with my choice and definitely not something I’m gonna regret and it’s hidden enough on my body and like a not obvious symbol for those who don’t know occult symbols, but I’m now facing having to enter The After and I know people that I haven’t seen since the before times are gonna ask me about my tattoo and I’m gonna have to clumsily explain it and that no, we don’t eat babies.

You don’t eat babies? Kind of a letdown.

While a little stoned, I started to think how many other people have made some big appearance changes in their life during the pandemic that they’re going to have to explain all the time to people? How many people have drastically changed their facial hair, got a random face tattoo, way too into tank tops now, etc.?

I won’t lie, Edward. Usually the big twist comes at the end of the email and not the other way around. So I commend you for not burying the lede, but sad you tried to bury it with a broader question after the fact. Let’s talk about your Satanism first, because that’s what I’d prefer to do. Here’s a true story: When I was at GQ, I once pitched my editor the idea of sending my kids to an After School Satan Club sponsored by the Satanic Temple. I read up on the club and it seemed harmless, especially given that my wife and I aren’t all that religious to begin with. But the story died because the flack for the Satanic Temple would only give me access to its leader if GQ put him on the cover. GQ, as you might have guessed, wasn’t amenable to that. And so when I think of Satanism, I mostly think about how the Satanic Temple guy GROSSLY overestimated his Q rating.

In general, I don’t think of Satanists as evil, but more as agnostics who have a really ornate sense of humor. If you showed me your new tattoo, I wouldn’t think you ate babies. It’d make a fine icebreaker between us, even. The assorted Amys in your area will likely not react similarly. You can explain the ink to them exhaustively and they’ll still think that you’re a serial killer or, even worse to them, a Democrat. In that way, your new tattoo will help you weed out unworthy social prospects in the after. But you’re gonna have to work VERY hard to convince the rest of us that you’re not into Nazi shit.

As to your actual question, I don’t think anyone really gives a shit about new looks in The After. We just had a pandemic. Of course people are gonna look a little different once they’re out of hiding. It’s like going back to school all over again. OH WOW DREW GOT SO HOT OVER QUARANTINE WOW.

Zac:

At what age does a human baby become smarter than an adult cat? 

No later than two. Newborn human babies are helpless, useless little creatures. They can’t even see properly, that’s how underdeveloped they are. But they catch on quick. No new parent ever feels this way while raising a baby in realtime, but it’s true. Within the first two years of its lifespan, the average human baby learns to walk, talk, eat, recognize patterns, identify things and people, and piss in a toilet without assistance. I know every cat owner thinks their asshole cat is a genius, but this is a hilarious lie. All a cat knows how to do is hide, eat, and scratch things. A human can do all that by the time it’s just a year old, if not sooner. This is all to say: fuck cats.

Austin:

Will SNL ever get cancelled?

Not while Lorne Michaels is still alive, no. I could run through all the reasons why SNL is a creative wasteland that deserves to be kicked off the air, but that’s all been covered before, definitively. The fact is that SNL still has a huge, demographically attractive audience. I wanna pretend that audience consists entirely of boomers tuning in while three brandy snifters deep, but it doesn’t. That shitty Elon Musk episode? Third-highest ratings for SNL this season. Lorne Michaels wanted people to be just pissed off enough about Musk’s invitation that they would be curious enough to tune in, and they did.

SNL is one of the most reliable profit centers that NBC has. They pay their staff nothing. They work them like they’re running a fucking ant colony. They force every performer to write for no credit. And Michaels and the network come out the other end with millions of dollars every year. It’s a fine-tuned machine. There’s no incentive for NBC to cancel SNL and spend their money on fucking Chicago Us or some other more costly, less-profitable venture. You’ve met my industry. Anything that makes actual money in media is like finding a fucking vein of coal under your patio. None of these moneymakers are under any obligation to be good, and they rarely are. The Today Show made NBC over $400 million in 2019 alone, and that show was presided over by a sex creep as recently as four years ago. SNL, part of a late night portfolio at NBC that basically functions as “Today, but on later,” is similarly lucrative and shitty in equal measure.

The only way any of these shows go away is if they become money pits. And yeah, that could happen to SNL if enough Americans stop watching any network TV of any kind in the coming decades. Or if there’s a nuclear war. Then again, I’ve lived through the advent of cable television, which itself was designed to make network TV obsolete and, instead, is currently getting buttfucked by the advent of the internet and streaming TV.

So I can act like the existence of Amazon Prime means ol’ Lorney won’t be able to wiggle out of this jam, but he’s as entrenched as the Senate filibuster is. I wish the show was still good. I wish all of late night was still good, but as someone on Twitter noted last week, no one in charge of late night TV anymore has any real, genuine contempt for the institutions they serve. They ARE the institutions. SNL now is basically a safe harbor where all of Lorne’s rich dickhead friends can read anodyne jokes about themselves off a cue card and pretend that somehow makes them likable to the general public. But it still makes money and it’s dependably lacking in teeth, which makes it not a relic, but rather an example that all new shows are forced by their financiers to aspire to.

Austin:

The Wilf family just bought my soccer team. What do I need to know?

You’ll be fine. The Wilfs belong in jail, but for actual crimes and not crimes against their own fanbase. I have many complaints about the Vikings—you rarely hear any of them, but I do—but I’ve never had a beef with the Wilfs as owners. Before that, the Vikings were owned by Red McCombs, who had an everlasting boner to move the franchise to San Antonio. Before that, they were owned by like a dozen guys, which prompted the NFL to establish a rule that teams had to be owned by one person, instead of operating as a co-op. They don’t want every NFL team to be like some underdog at the Belmont Stakes that was purchased by eight Goldman Sachs bros who were all groomsmen at each other’s weddings. Also, teams don’t run all that efficiently when they’re owned by 97 people instead of just one. (Packers fans, now is the time for you to shut the fuck up). So I’ve had problems with Vikings owners in the past.

The Wilfs, by contrast, have run the team pretty much the way I’d hope any owner would. They kept the Vikings in Minnesota (not without fucking over the state, of course, but that’s SOP now). They spend money. They let the GM and the head coach operate without interference, almost to a fault. They’ve had more winning seasons than losing ones, and they’ve presided over two trips to the NFC title game, both of which the Vikings WON. And in spectacular fashion! Everyone remembers it like it was yesterday!

Anyway, that’s all you can ask for from an NFL owner. As for you, I doubt the Wilfs even know that Orlando City SC is a soccer team. They might be under the impression that the SC stands for Shipping Company. I dunno. MLS owners aren’t even owners anyway. Every team in MLS is owned by a central Borg, so your team is safe from the Wilfs’ potential idiocy. It’s Don Garber who’ll fuck you good.

Evan:

Why is Pels the nickname for the Pelicans? Who got to decide that? This bothers me more than it should.

It’s sportscasters being economical, or simply lazy. They have 150 seconds to get through the highlight package, so sounding out “-icans” adds too much fat to the proceedings for them to allow it.

There are a lot of needlessly shortened team names like this. Lemme run a few of them down for you to make myself angry:

  • Bucs (Pirates)
  • ‘Zards (Wizards; I swear that bastardization gets used on TV here on occasion)
  • Avs (Avalanche; not as bad as “The ‘Lanche” but still awful)
  • ‘Stros (Astros)
  • Phils (Phillies)
  • Raps (Raptors)
  • ‘Ning (Lightning)
  • Isles (Islanders; this one is borderline acceptable)
  • Sabes (Sabres)

Then there are a lot of perfectly normal shortened names that fans themselves use: Fins, ‘Hawks, Cards, Yanks, Sox, Pack, Jags, Nats, D-Backs, etc. But Pels? Get the fuck out of the building with that lazyass shit.

Also, Boston fans who call the Celtics the Cs and the Bruins the Bs can eat a dick.

Andy:

I watched the classic 90s documentary When We Were Kings and with Ali, James Brown, Don King, Norman Mailer I thought this has to be the ultimate DEAD OR CANCELLED FILM. Is there a more on the nose Dead or Cancelled Film ever made?

You go back far enough and you’ll probably find that everyone in every movie has either died or been canceled since they made it. That’s especially true if the movie, itself, has been canceled. I worshipped Revenge of the Nerds when I was 11. You ask Anthony Edwards about that movie now and he’ll probably tie his limbs into a knot in his attempt to answer you without making a misstep.

But yeah, When We Were Kings is notable not only because it was a great movie, but because its depth chart of canceled people is so diverse and lustrous. You got James Brown, a legendary singer who was a wife beater. You got Jim Brown, a legendary football player who threw a woman off a balcony. You got Mailer, a legendary (and insanely overrated) writer who stabbed his wife at a PARTY. You got Don King, who is Don King. You got Ali, who was unjustly and truly canceled for refusing to serve in Vietnam. And you got a fight that was funded by a genocidal dictator. And it’s all a documentary. They didn’t even have to clumsily work any of that character background into a script. Incredible. Five stars out of five to When We Were Kings.

HALFTIME!

Devin:

You get the phone call that they’re making The Night the Lights Went Out into a big Netflix movie. They’re making this movie with or without you, but they want you to make the final casting decision for who plays you. They give you only five possible options: Tim Allen, Kid Rock, Andy Dick, James Woods, or Steven Seagal. Who do you pick? PS Roth’s cameo will be played by DJ Qualls.

Oh, James Woods. Not even close. James Woods was one of my favorite actors of all time, and it’s not like he got cast out of Hollywood because he doesn’t know how to act anymore. It’s because he’s a psychotic asshole. But if I threw on The Hard Way right now and watched it front to back—something I’ve done many, many times in my life—I can guarantee that I’d forget about James Woods being James Woods, if only for a moment. I’ve enjoyed the work of many certifiably fuckheaded actors/musicians/writers in the past, and I can do it again.

That’s not as easy to do today with regards to James Woods, but he’s still a better performer than any of the other four options. Steven Seagal can’t act. Kid Rock doesn’t have enough muscle to play the role. Tim Allen is best left to voice acting now. And I’m not even certain that Andy Dick is still alive. Only Woods would do the material justice, and then he’d fuck it all up on the press tour and I’d get canceled by osmosis. BUT WHAT A RIDE IT WOULD BE.

Durumdog:

Of all the people who were thrust into working from home for the last year or so, what percentage do you think have spent at least two afternoons a week getting some degree of drunk? I say minimum 60%. 

Going by the industry-wide spike in alcohol sales over the past year, your initial 60 percent estimate is low. I have friends who unexpectedly developed healthier lifestyle habits during the pandemic, but that’s not a representative sample size. For thousands of years, mankind has gotten drunk to get by. There’s no reason to believe that the past year, let alone the past five, would curtail that habit in any meaningful way.

And frankly, if some people are taking advantage of the WFH setup and starting cocktail hour at 3 p.m. Friday instead of right after work, I don’t have much of a problem with it. Long as you’re not drinking yourself to death and/or whipping your dick out on a Zoom call, I have general faith in Americans to be the functional, professional alcoholics they’ve always been. Can you blame anyone for wanting to drink their way through all this shit?

Of course, we’re talking strictly about alcohol here. I’m guessing that pills are no small factor in all this. And then you’ve got SPICE. Remember people freaking out about spice? I bet spice is gonna make a big comeback if it hasn’t already. You watch! Mmmmm … delicious, wonderful spice.

Andy:

Something my friends probably all wish that I would shut up about is discussing original Queensrÿche guitarists Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton, who I maintain are the most underappreciated rock guitarists of all time. (Such creative duo rhythm playing aside from all the memorable and kick-ass solos!) I feel a personal responsibility to evangelize their awesomeness despite literally nobody I know giving a shit. Do you have a similarly arcane pop culture take that you feel a need to share with uninterested friends and family because if you don’t, nobody else will?

You’re familiar with my work at this website, yeah? You just heard me rhapsodize about The Hard Way, which none of you will watch as a result of my recommendation. You see all the halftime songs I post that no one else ever listens to. You know that I never shut the fuck up about The Struts. I don’t die on oddly chosen hills so much as I live alone on them. The good news for you is that I have even MORE niche boomer takes on my person, and that Andy here just gave me permission to unleash them upon you. So let’s get started! Please read all of these following bullets in the voice of Larry King.

  • Top Secret! was better than Airplane and deserves to be mentioned alongside it as one of the greatest comedies of all time.
  • I’ve only understood the meaning behind certain song lyrics NOW, decades after the fact, and they have deepened my enjoyment of said songs. Like, I didn’t realize “Policy of Truth” was about a guy telling his girlfriend that she shouldn’t have admitted to cheating on him and just kept it hidden for both their sake. I thought it was just a song about how cool lying is in general.
  • I should re-watch Amadeus more often.
  • I love songs with lyrical twists. Like “What A Fool Believes.” It’s already a good song thanks to the melody, but the lyrics really ARE brilliant. “What a fool believes he sees/No wise man has the power to reason away”? That’s fantastic shit! And to cap it off, turns out Michael McDonald was singing about himself the whole time. HE was the fool! You gotta tip your cap to him and to Kenny Loggins…
  • …the latter of which also co-wrote “I’ll Wait” by Van Halen! Are we, as a society, really appreciating Kenny Loggins enough? I say no.
  • I’m thinking of starting a message board devoted solely to Everybody’s Golf.
  • Adele has a REALLY good drummer. The guy can absolutely fucking pummel that snare.
  • I love the now-dormant British band A and I hope they get discovered by some fancy director guy who throws one of their songs into a hit movie and their back catalog blows the fuck up.
  • My favorite U2 song is the William Orbit remix of “Electrical Storm.”
  • I don’t know why shrimp toast hasn’t crossed over to regular bar menus. It deserves to. Let’s get on that.

Plenty more inconsequential takes where THAT came from. Check them out on my Twitter feed every Saturday night!

Will:

I have worn glasses since I was 10, and up until recently always preferred contacts. More recently I have found frames that fit my face well and have decided (and my wife agreed) that I like the way I look with glasses better, so have been not wearing the contacts as much. Lately I have been considering Lasik so I don’t really have to mess with either, but I am going to miss the way glasses made my face look. Am I a huge doofus if I get Lasik and then continue wearing glasses that offer no vision correction just for vanity reasons?

You’re not, no. Plenty of people wear glasses out of vanity. My wife owns a couple of junky nonprescription pairs that she occasionally wears with her contacts still in, to give off the full Lisa Loeb effect. So yeah, go for it.

I’m getting to the age where I’ll throw on my glasses at the end of the day and be like, “Oh wow, I look so much more stately with these on!” I think that happens to a lot of people as they age. When you wear glasses in grade school, you feel like a nerd and a brown noser. When you wear them at 40, you feel INTELLECTUAL. Look at how those tortoise shell frames match your graying temples! You’re a guy who puts real thought into what you do and what you say! Women want to fuck you for your BRAIN. Nothing like a midlife crisis to think a pair of Warby Parkers make you look 30 percent more elegant. But hey, when you feel good about your looks, you feel good in general. That’s not the behavior of a doofus. That’s just human nature in action.

That said, if I ever got Lasik, I would never wear glasses (non-shades division) again. I’d burn every last pair I own (two), get high on the plastic fumes, and then attend a Zoom meeting at 2 p.m.

Dan:

Now that the pandemic is wrapping up, fingers crossed tightly, who has the most right to complain about the lost year? For me (forty-something with a stable job that can easily be done at home), I can’t complain too much. I missed some live sports and going out to dinner, but I generally dislike people so no real loss. My daughter, a middle schooler, didn’t seem to be too put out about learning from home, with the exception of not learning much. She got to play with the neighborhood kids and avoid all the kids she didn’t get along with. My parents, however, seem to think their retirement has been entirely ruined. They claim they weren’t able to go to places they never really seemed interested in to begin with. If I had to choose, I would say high school students got it the worst, even though high school is objectively awful. I think I just buy into the cultural weight of high school — prom, graduation, parties, whatever. What age group got it the worst?

So much of it depends on where you live and how much money you make, etc. Like yeah, the pandemic was survivable for work-from-home types like me and Dan. But if you were working a job that didn’t let you leave, and fired you if you did? And you got kids to feed and bills to pay, etc? You got FUCKED. You got fucked way harder than some poor high schooler who had to put off their first kegstand for a calendar year. If any kid demo got insanely fucked over, it’s probably 4-year-olds. They’re too young to really understand any of this but also old enough to remember the trauma. That’s the exact wrong combination. Kids are adaptable, which is what makes them cool. But four-year-olds are the least adaptable of the bunch. All of our current ones are gonna grow up pissed.

Outside of them, my vote is for single people in their 20s. They just spent a year getting laid off, living alone, developing lifelong alcoholism, and forced to risk getting infected for a lay. If this pandemic had happened when I was 23, I’d be a serial arsonist right now.

Will:

What is the most forgotten-about state? The one you randomly hear someone mention that makes you go “Oh yeah, that’s a state isn’t it?” I think it has to be West Virginia, right? What in the world goes on in West Virginia?

It’s Corkessetta. Not even close. They don’t even have a vote in Congress, they’re so routinely ignored! If I lived in the mid-central-Pacific, I’d be livid.

Email of the week!

Ryan:

Last week I had my worst mask experience of the pandemic thus far. I was eating a baby carrot, and one of my employees came to ask me a question. I put my mask back on while I was still chewing the carrot so I could speak without spewing rona all over the place. I immediately got the tickle in my sinuses, and let loose a hurricane-force sneeze inside my mask. Bits of baby carrot went everywhere; all over inside my mask and even ejected out of my mask and up into my glasses. I had to wash the orange bits from my face/glasses, and replace the mask. 

You poor bastard.