Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Drew’s off this week. 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 ambient sports, regional accents, breast milk, and more.
When Barry asked me if I had any interest in answering this week’s Funbag emails, I had some initial reservations. Replying to these deeply important questions is a sacred trust, one that requires a steady hand and a compassionate mind. Then he reminded me Drew does this, and I knew I’d have no problem.
Hello, readers, it is me, Justin, Defector’s projects editor and other Minnesotan on staff. Perhaps you remember me from such hits as “Oh god, oh dear, I am filled with sports dread once again,” and “Looks like the whites are at it again!” I’ll be playing the role of cool new step-dad today. You don’t have to call me dad, but over time I think you’ll find I’m a pretty chill dude. If you ever want to play some Tony Hawk on the Nintendo, let me know my guy. And hey, if you’re lucky maybe you can drive my Miata some day. Anyway, let’s have some fun.
In your pursuit of comfort, I have a helpful suggestion: overalls. Nice baggy, heavy cotton (not denim) overalls. Absolutely nothing squeezing around the love handles or dickdo, good airflow and if you pair it with a red shirt, you look like mario. My other half says I look like our toddler, but toddlers are famous for comfort wear.
Kristopher, whatever points I was going to award for something approaching personal style or fashion sense I am now setting on fire in a garbage can because of your use of the phrase “dickdo.”
That said, you are absolutely onto something with this sartorial suggestion. Back in 2020 when I celebrated my first pandemic birthday I bought myself a forest green jumpsuit as a little present. I had been growing extremely envious of my partner’s many jumpsuits: They’re all the clothes you need and it’s just one zip! You add a little flair, maybe a fun bandana, or some pins, perhaps a cool T-shirt underneath (or, no shirt for those Erotically Charged Jumpsuiting Occasions), and it’s officially A Look.
Yes, this may be childish to some, but that’s because they lack imagination! Men of earth, let me make this simple plea: Take more chances with your wardrobe! Burn that university branded polo; no one will ever mistake you for a head coach and I swear your life will be better for it! A jumpsuit or overalls are a statement piece for the individual bold enough to wear them into the world. It says yes, maybe I am a Italian-American plumber who chases women and reptiles down random sewer access points; but maybe I am a fully realized artist who does not care what the world says, I embrace individuality, comfort, and having lots of random pockets for all my snacks.
Why isn’t it an option to mute play-by-play and color analysts of any sports coverage? I still want the ambient noise of the event, just the two crusty guys in the booth tend to ruin the experience in many instances. If it were possible to track, wouldn’t the networks find that information extremely valuable if they could determine X percent of tuned in devices chose to mute the the broadcasters they’re giving $$$$$? It seems completely logical and beneficial to everyone, especially the fans.
And before you jump to it, no, this is not in reference to Joe Buck. It happens to be John Buccigross and Barry Melrose doing hockey these days that makes me wish I could give myself a lobotomy.
Well, Alex, if I understand you correctly, what you want is … to actually be at a live game? The crack of the bat! The glamorous shine of freshly zamboni’d sheet of ice! A recently retired grandpa arguing point-by-point with a ref right over your shoulder, even though neither of you have lower-bowl money, and now you’re curious what the blast radius is for particulate matter on the $14 Bud Light Lime-A-Rita you bought as a joke. Do I have that correct?
Back when I worked at ESPN most desks came with a cable jack and a small TV, which makes sense for editors and producers wanting to catch just about any sport live as it happens. When I say “any”, I mean that on a given day you could find curling friendlies in Calgary, a cricket test match in the Philippines, the Texas A&M spring game, and the Celtics-Heat game. While the scope of this infinite cable system was impressive, the best and most eerie feature was you could also find random arena feeds, sometimes of a live game sans play-by-play, but also the wide shot of an arena where it’s some lone guy mopping up the parkay, wishing he was home already.
Anyway, the answer to your question is networks may never offer the ambient, endless Youtube Chillhop Stream version of this. because they paid a hefty chunk for the rights to the broadcast, so they’re gonna put whichever replacement-level mid-to-late-40s guy in that chair they think is best. The only chance we have at a feature like this is as an upsell package: think ESPN++. Besides, networks and cable operators know they get a fair chunk of their business from bars where listening to play-calling ranks close to “did I get the correct garnish on this drink” in viewer priorities.
How do you feel about other adults, especially co-workers, calling you “bud” or “buddy”? In particular people you have only a professional relationship with? I usually associate this phrase with a dad coaching tee ball so it bothers me, but maybe my coworkers are just trying to be friendly and I’m a misanthrope.
Somewhere in my life, in the long parade of conferences, workshops and retreats I’ve attended, I know I got a version of this advice: When you first meet someone and they introduce themselves, make sure you say their name back to them, as this helps create an association and place a name with a face. If you are interested in more of my learnings, I have a series of books on cassette available for purchase in the Defector company store. If you reach the aisle with the talking Samer Kalaf greeting cards, you have gone too far.
The point here is that people who use off-the-shelf nicknames are lazy as hell and should be shunned like the frauds they are. If someone in a professional setting is calling me “bud” or “my guy,” I know instantly they do not know my name, or worse, they think I’m one of the three black guys who work in the building, but they’re not quite sure if it’s old Gus, the nice man who works in maintenance, or Jason, the guy who may be a writer or editor or something, no, wait, that’s me. Nicknames, if they are used, are supposed to be unique, they’re supposed to be the marker of some shared experience or bond forged in the dumbest possible way. That’s why I never call Tom “Hotel Hallway Buffet” Ley by his first name. It’s a respect thing.
Why are accents still a thing? From a cursory Google search, it seems like they developed when people who spoke the same language lived in isolation from others who spoke the same language. But now, with TV/movies/the internet, are we really ever isolated from anyone else? Don’t get me wrong, I love ragging on a shitty BAHSTAN accent as much as the next guy, but shouldn’t these have all been incorporated into some generic non-regional dialect by now?
This is like asking why go to Popeyes when you could go to Bojangles, or Chick-fil-A? Why not Church’s or Wingstop, for that matter? The only thing that is important here is we get some delicious chicken and freedom prevails. Now I’ve forgotten the question and I’m hungry.
Bud, I think it’s time you and I have a long talk about what it means to be provincial, and the upper limits of streaming media’s effect on American vernacular. Please grab a snack, this may take a while.
Yes, accents are a product of isolation, but they’re also a living embodiment of a region and it’s traditions. Where some might say they’re going “upta camp,” others are going “down the shore,” and more still might say “I’m getting in a car with screaming kids for a four-hour trek to a house on a lake that I pray has indoor plumbing.” Trying to get someone from Philly to give a definition of the word “jawn,” is like asking a Midwesterner what “ope” signifies.
These things get stuck in us bone-deep in the area we grew up, they become foundational and because of that they aren’t easily unwound by our streaming service of choice. That’s because most of what we hear on TV is stage-flattened to the point of being unidentifiable or a variation on the Mid-Atlantic accent. No one’s vocal cords are going to be shifted in the direction of people who are paid to read things in a way that can be understood by the largest possible audience. Absolutely no one talks this way in real life, and if you meet someone who does, congratulations on your unwitting role in the latest Anna Delvey scandal!
Now, a few words from our sponsors:
What are the best/worst sports to have your kids play? Considering time/expense/nature of other parents, hockey has to run away with this one. Baseball eats up your entire summer but in most regions remains somewhat seasonal. Swim and gymnastics are lowkey pretty expensive. Soccer’s probably the best.
Spoken like someone who has had to make too many pre-dawn trips to the rink for that one slot where pee wees get ice time. The McDonald’s coffee doesn’t cut it when you’re bleary-eyed and some guy named “Neil” keeps trying to invite you into the Pee Wee Papa Posse, which may or may not be an official booster group.
Speaking as a father to approximately no small children at this moment in time, the problem with your question is how we measure best or worst. Does the child actually love it? Does it bring them joy? Wait, that part doesn’t matter, right? We’re just using the kid as a vessel for our lost hopes of athletic ingenuity, and the doomed promise of future celebrity in the professional leagues. No?
Youth hockey is definitely its own kind of nightmare, the equipment and scheduling alone are insane, and god help you if little Scotty can’t grow out a mullet in time for the state tournament. Still, hockey parents are relatively chill compared to parents in other team sports, and practically saints compared to mom and dad managers in individual sports like gymnastics or tennis. Feels like the right answer here is soccer since the barrier to entry is low and the time commitment (i.e., sitting in a luxed-out REI camping chair with a large “iced tea” on the sidelines) is optimal. However, let’s not overlook basketball here. Have you considered the tremendous upside of becoming a super-shady AAU parent?
As a wise and seasoned father, is it okay to use my wife’s breast milk as coffee creamer if I’ve run out of regular coffee cream? I’m not stealing from my child, I promise. The kid is fed, and my wife over produces, so a lot of it just sits in the fridge or gets frozen for much later. Is it weird to think I could use it in an emergency coffee situation?
I applaud you for clarifying that this would not be theft of the precious nutrients that your infant needs to survive and grow. That slides you out of contemptible monster category, but squarely into the family room goblin zone. Congratulations.
Look, I get it. As a fellow Daddington (status pending), I know sometimes the days run long and one meal bleeds into another, and soon you start eyeing those baby-sized corn puffs, or that pouch of Farmer Dan’s Organic Non-Conflict applesauce! You scan the room to see if anyone is watching, maybe your wife is snoozing, and the hunger, oh god, it rises. Who will tell her? The baby? Good luck dropping a dime when you can’t form words yet you tiny snitch! It is the perfect crime!
Cam, buddy, this is not that. If you are emailing the bag asking about the ethical response to pawing breast milk for your morning Dunkin, that means the temptation has already gotten the best of you. Do you hear it calling you from the fridge? Does the sound of your wife pumping elicit a Pavlovian response? Have you already considered using it to make a bechamel?
The answer is no. A Magna Carta of No. I don’t care what the blogs say, or how you’ve been reading up on the virtues of the raw meat diet. If you are low on milk, it likely means the rest of the house needs milk too, so please run to the store now. It’s probably best to not treat your wife, who you love very much, like the family cow.
What does woke even mean to those using the term negatively? Do they even know? To me “woke” just means informed (or at least attempting to be informed), not racist, not ignorant, not sexist, not homophobic something along those lines.
To truly answer this question would require a journey to the center of the mind of the modern conservative, and that is not a theme park I am eager to visit. I would rather be dropped down an empty elevator shaft into a pool of hungry badgers who have been fed a steady diet of PCP, Muscle Milk, and the early works of Slipknot.
Luckily we do not need to travel down that stretch of highway. Woke is a term that has been rendered meaningless by the outrage-fueled meat grinder of conservative pedagogy. And it is a grinder. The key to weaponizing and nullifying words against the public is using them at such a high velocity that it can turn up a frenzy and eventually just make you want to vomit. This way no one has to withstand the occasional gentle reminder that white supremacy shaped the 20th century or have nuanced discussions about harm against marginalized communities. Instead, if you just shout the word “woke” at repeated intervals, on a street corner or in Senate chambers, everyone will eventually get annoyed and walk away.
Unfortunately that’s the playbook. Recent notable instances include “critical race theory,” “cancel culture,” “political correctness,” and one of my personal favorites, “reverse racism.” All that being said, the playbook isn’t in the hands of the sharpest collection of individuals. As much as they mangle the language for cynical purposes, that perpetual misreading of the dictionary has now led to conservatives suddenly using the word “grooming” as a cudgel in debates about LGBTQ rights. I am eager to see how this all plays out for the party that counts Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz among its ranks.
With wedding season upon us, I was recently reminded of the ultimate wedding power move. At a friend’s wedding on a big family property five or so years ago, everyone was dressed in traditional, uncomfortable wedding ware, but then there was one uncle of the bride who just arrived in what I can best describe as “Wilderness Tour Guide Chic.” The tan, leather vest; $20 jeans; a cowboy hat with a feather in it. And it was just like, “Oh yeah, that’s Uncle Pete, he lives in Montana. This is fancy for him and we just accept it.”
How does one reach this level of Cool Uncle?
I am loving that so many of you decided to send in your fashion dilemmas the week that Drewbert is on a beach in what I can only assume is the Margaritaville 2019 spring collection!
As Defector’s Resident Personal Stylist and Uncle Ombudsman, we must first ask ourselves a fundamental question: Is uncle merely a title, or a metaphysical state? Yes, there is the matter of a child being involved. But, I ask you, isn’t being a cool uncle or aunt really about a state of mind?
Take Uncle Pete, here. You simply do not wake up on the morning of your niece’s wedding and decide, “Today is the day the Stetson with the ostrich feather comes out to play.” No. You are clearly a man who has seen Stevie Nicks at Red Rocks. You have pairs of cowboy boots older than your sibling’s children. You are likely very familiar with the laws governing psychedelics across a five-state area. On the day of such a kick-ass party, the question was not “do I wear a bolo tie,” but “do I wear the bolo tie with the armadillo skull, or the one with the turquoise crescent moon from my days running a reptile farm in Taos.”
Look, I love wearing a good suit. I may have, in fact, worn a navy blue velvet tuxedo jacket on my wedding day. A suit is an important staple to have in your closet, it’s not for everyone or every occasion. The only thing that matters is that as a ceremonial Cool Uncle or Aunt is that you must have personal style. Do not show up to the wedding in the same attire you might wear to the Memorial Day barbecue. Style is what matters. If you want to be the uncle who wears the black leather 8-ball jacket, just make sure to wear that satin shirt and matching gators! If you are the aunt who never married but has that cool lifelong roommate, Gail, and the two of you want to wear jumpsuits, please include that stunning chiffon cape that you know pairs well.
Some of you may ask, “What about overshadowing the happy couple,” or “How do I know if I am doing too much?” And the answer is the cool uncle don’t give a shit! The whole time we’ve been debating this, Uncle Pete has housed a tray of mini-bison burgers, is at least three margaritas deep, and he’s ready to do the Cha Cha Slide and it’s only the cocktail hour. Follow your muse, my friends.