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 pizza, the metric system, neglecting tennis, showering too quickly, and more.
Hatin’ season is upon us, kiddos. Submissions for the 2022 edition of Why Your Team Sucks are now OPEN. If you wanna be part of the festivities, email me using this address. Put “WYTS” and your team’s name in the subject line, and then tell me why that team sucks. Extra credit if you include personal stories and/or other vital specifics. “The first time my dad took me to a Bills game he threw up on me,” etc. I love shit like that.
As always, I only wanna hear about YOUR TEAM ONLY. I don’t give a bare fuck if you’re a Falcons fan looking to give the Saints the business. I will use your email against you if you commit that kind of roasting felony. Watch your ass. Also, I’ll close submissions a little bit later than I used to for this, but not all that late, so get in your submission sooner rather than later. I’m so starved for football right now I could fucking die, so I can’t wait to hear from all of you.
Meantime, your letters:
As a dude firmly in his mid-thirties now, I have started to notice the ways in which I am becoming my father. My farts are starting to sound exactly like his. Have you encountered something similar to this, and if fart sounds can be passed down generationally (let’s say due to sphincter shape and gut bacteria), what are some of the other more random genetic “gifts” bestowed upon us from our forbearers?
Oh dude, I’m nut-deep into that process already. Those Dr. Rick ads weren’t lying. I can SEE myself making the exact same faces as my old man now. If I recommend a food to you, I’ll cap that recommendation by scrunching up my face and giving you a punchy OK sign with my hand (not the Nazi OK sign; just a regular one). My dad has done this for literal decades, and now I do it. I grunt the same way he does. I walk the same way he does. My sneezes are getting just as terrifying as his have always been. My jokes bomb at the dinner table the same way his do. Sometimes I’ll make a move that reminds me of him and I’ll be like, “Dad? Was that you? Cut that out.” I am not a religious man, but sometimes I feel like his spirit is entering my body. One on level, this is a beautiful thing. It’s proof that you will always live on through your offspring. On another level, I don’t enjoy making ALL of those weird noises. At the very least, I’d like a few original grunts of my own. But no! Instead I have become possessed.
I get plenty of traits from my mom too, of course. I show up pathologically early to shit now. My mom does this, and expects everyone else to do likewise. If you tell my mom you’re leaving at 6:30 for a 7:00 reservation at a restaurant that’s two miles away, she will quietly lose her shit. That’s not enough time in my mom’s universe. Apparently a fucking Cyclops might be guarding the road on your way there or something (Mom, if you’re reading this, I love you, but rest assured I’ll be on time). Now my siblings and I are like that. Again, this is wonderful. But also, again, really fucking annoying. It’ll happen to all of you, too. One day you’ll be rolling the toilet paper underhanded in your house instead of the normal way and you’ll be like What the fuck am I doing?
What does it say about me that I get significantly more annoyed at making all the stoplights than catching them? Especially if I roll up to a red light, only for it to change before I even fully stop. Daddy needs that time to clean up spilled Cheetos and drop another horrible pun down below, damn it!
It says that you text while driving. That’s me giving you a courtesy honk when the light turns green and your car is still frozen in place.
(Have I myself used a stoplight to check an incoming text, only to have the light change before I can finish reading it? No comment.)
I had a kid just over two years ago. Day one of the pandemic, really: March 11, 2020. One thing that I wasn’t really prepared for was just how much more sensitive I am to distressing news. Granted, it seems like there’s been a hard spike in terrible shit on my news feeds starting with the day he was born, but now that he’s here, I view every indication of climate doom and right-wing dystopia through the lens of his lifetime. I now feel extra depressed seeing that global food shortages will rise significantly by 2030, and that we’ll be ruled by a radical theocratic Supreme Court for the rest of my natural life. That’s because I now understand that someone I love far more than I ever loved myself will be dealing with those challenges long after I’m gone. Have you found a way to effectively detach from this?
Outside of controlled substances, you mean? Yes. The first step is disengagement. If you don’t see the news, it can’t bother you. Who knew? Granted, it’s not easy to avoid the news if you’re online, or if you’re a journalist (that’s me), or even if you’re at the airport. But, by God, I’m developing a talent for it. I never look at cable news. I never read past the front page of the Washington Post’s website, unless it’s to read news that pleases me. I haven’t watched a half-hour newscast in literal decades. I don’t even ingest news in late-night comedy form anymore. I know fuck all. When my wife says “Did you see this?” from across the living room—sharing alarming news stories is real Mom Facts territory—my answer is always either “No,” or, “Oh yeah I read the headline about that.” After that, I’m as clueless as Mr. Wheeler. It’s fucking GREAT. Oh, someone blew up a hospital outside Reno this morning? Well I just took a nap, so at least someone in America had a nice day today. Just doing my part.
The second step is parenting itself. If you’re worried about your kids growing up in this world—this country, in particular—you are exactly like every parent who has ever lived in any country, in any era. You never stop worrying about your kids. That’s baked into the job. That IS the job. You will never raise kids in a perfect world, especially when every single piece of bad news out there has been noted and will be shoved in your face even by people you like. But the good thing is that, together with your kids, you will exist in a world APART from the greater world. Out there is all the bad shit. But in the house it’s just you and your kid, laughing because the dog farted. You get to be each other’s shelter from the horrors of the outside. It won’t always feel that way when your kids are being annoying, but do a good job raising them and, in the long term, they become the thing that gives you HOPE about the future instead of impotent despair. Parenting is your best opportunity to shape the future in some form. It won’t be change on a macro level, but it doesn’t have to be.
It’s certain that my kids will live through some truly awful shit: messes that previous generations left for them to clean up. They may live through a third World War, or a global water shortage, or mass climate migration. I can’t prevent any of those things from happening, but my wife and I have raised kids hardy enough to survive these shitty times, and perhaps even contribute to rectifying them. They already braved a pandemic, along with a million other lousy things. But they’re still alive, ambitious, and a joy to be around. Your kids will make you happy and you will make them happy. That’s all you can control and, in some ways, all that matters. If you spend all day worrying about them becoming victims of history, you’re underestimating not only them, but yourself as well. Never forget that.
Also one day their farts will sound like your farts.
I learned today that semi-awkward ’70s teen actor Robby Benson has apparently grown up to be a hot Bill Simmons. How often do you think Robby is stopped on the street and told, “Bill! You look great!”?
Well, shit. Can’t say I expected the words “hot Bill Simmons” to enter my mind today, but there you have it. Thankfully, Robby Benson is clearly too good-looking to EVER be mistaken for Bill Simmons. Everyone knows Bill Simmons looks like a failed copier salesman. Robby Benson does not.
My wife’s college friend invited our family over for dinner. Between four adults and four children, they served one large cheese pizza (we were not asked for input on toppings), which left me fucking dumbfounded. Is that an obscenely small amount of food or am I such a fat pig that my internal pizza calculator is completely out of whack? So, for the record, what is the most amount of people one large cheese pizza can feed for dinner?
No no no, one pizza for eight people is fucking insane. I don’t need to Google around for a pizza calculator to know that. Even if I’m the only one eating pizza that night, I’ll still order more than one. If there’s pizza leftover, who gives a fuck? You can just eat it the next day, or an hour after dinner that same night. There’s no such thing as too much pizza, which is why I never use pizza calculators for any gathering. I just always, by default, order a shitload. One pizza equals two people, and that’s as stingy as I get. I order a zillion cheese pizzas, because everyone eats that, and then I make sure to order one pizza I want that the rest of my family won’t (very easy to do since my wife and kids rarely eat meat), so that I’ll have a bacon pie on hand that I won’t have to fight anyone over.
This is why I now understand Italian mothers innately. It feels great to spoil your guests. HEY-A YOU-A HAVE A MORE-A DA SCAMPI, PAESAN! I want to feed you like you’re a homecoming war battalion. One time I made too little food for a dinner party and I STILL regret it. Everyone told me they got plenty to eat, but A) They could have been lying and B) I don’t wanna be in a situation where the amount of food available to guests is ever a question. When you come into this house, I want it firmly established that you and your tummy will be well taken care of. I want you stuffed to the gills in the car ride home, going, “That was SO good!” Too much food is the only way to go. People who only serve one pizza at a dinner party should be given the chair.
Let’s say tomorrow America wakes up and uses the metric system. In so doing, all sports fields now are measured in metric to the closest approximation of the imperial system. Instead of 100 yards, a football field is now 100 meters. Base paths are now 30 meters long. Hockey goals are now two meters wide. Basketball court rims are now 3.3m high. What sport changes the most? What one changes the least?
Three-point-three meters is nearly 11 feet, so basketball would change dramatically if you did that. The collective shooting percentage of the NBA would drop by 20 percent: final proof that the ’90s are indeed back. Players like Steph Curry tailor themselves for precision, so any variation in the basket, or in the ball, makes a world of difference. This is true across all sports, but basketball is the team sport where that precision is the most highly calibrated. Eventually, all of the metric system era athletes would adjust to their new specs and get back to their old rates of production. The problem is that converting to the metric system here in America would result in all-out civil war. Everyone would kill one another. The NFL would have to postpone at least TWO primetime games. Real anarchy shit.
Is there a sport you follow or know a lot about that you haven’t actually seen an entire match or game of? Wimbledon was just on, and probably since Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi’s heyday, I have known a lot of the top ranked players, enjoyed reading about the sport and watching highlights. But I realised during Nadal’s last match this tournament that I wouldn’t be watching it in full and that, upon reflection, I can’t remember any tennis match that I watched from beginning to end. In this recent case, I caught the first set, then went outside and picked blueberries.
I am also a Bad Tennis Fan. I used to watch all of the major finals regularly back when I was younger. Back in those salad days where I had both the time and inclination to be a fan of every sport all the time. Then I regressed to watching those finals only if they were close and I was tuning in toward the end, same way I do with the second halves of regular season NBA games. Then I just stopped watching tennis entirely. The tragedy is that I like tennis. I played it a lot as a kid. I have never regretted watching a kick-ass tennis match in my lifetime. I still love to read about it. I still know who all the top players are. And yet I remain slothful. I hate Novak Djokovic the same way everyone else does, but I have virtually zero firsthand fandom to go with that take, or any other. Quite a magic trick.
I also now know a lot about F1 despite never having watched a single race on TV. There’s nothing more American than having vehement opinions about people and things that you deliberately avoid ever interacting with. I could run for senator with this many empty takes. And I could win.
I recently became a dad. I am the designated calmer-down, and we recently started putting her to sleep at 8pm so we can get a (glorious) two hours to ourselves. Making the transfer from my arms after she falls asleep to her bassinet is the most terrifying and delicate moment ever. I feel like a surgeon in Operation. One wrong move and you’ve set yourself back 30 minutes. Any tips to make this process go more smoothly?
Fuck man, I remember that. Like defusing a truck bomb. Such a delicate, painstaking task. My only trick was singing my child to sleep and not stopping the singing until the child was safely tucked into the crib. This didn’t always work, but I had a limited arsenal of alternate moves. Every circumstance under which your baby falls asleep—lighting, sound, temperature—has to remain exactly the same as you make that transfer. Getting Lee Harvey Oswald to a new prison cell is a cakewalk by comparison.
However: In retrospect, moving our kids from arms to crib was the easiest example of this job. If I had to transfer them out of a car seat or stroller? Forget it. I was fucked. I remember my wife and me pulling into the driveway with a sleeping baby in the backseat, keeping the car on, and just sitting there until the baby woke up on their own. We wouldn’t open the car door. We wouldn’t even cut the ignition. Somehow even the REDUCTION of noise would wake them up. Meanwhile I can now nap through a nuclear holocaust.
What’s the correct way to shower?
-As fast as possible – get your hair, face, underarms, private parts, and maybe some torso, and get out in just a handful of minutes (like three).
-Luxuriate in the shower – enjoy the warmth for a while, sensually wash every square inch of your body, and even masturbate, while taking fucking forever in there.
I am firmly #1.
I too am an efficient showerer. I do my business and then get the fuck outta there. I also try to avoid showering multiple times in one day, which is odd because I love showering. Back in the day, I used to stay so long in the shower that I’d SIT in it. The shower wouldn’t even have a bench or a stool. I’d just sit on the floor of the shower and hang. I never do that anymore. Those times are lost. Very sad.
Once in a while, usually on vacation, I’ll take liberties in the shower. And I’ll linger in any outdoor shower forever, because I’m not a fool. But otherwise, I don’t waste time. This is good for the environment (barely), but still dumb. I have the time to shower longer and more often, and yet I don’t. You know why? Because CAPITALISM, that’s why. They bred me to work instead of to shower extensively! It ain’t right.
Do bands/artists still put out compilation and best-of albums? I remember the issuing of best-of albums on CD being a huge deal in the 90’s (Zeppelin comes to mind for some reason) but can’t imagine there’s much value these days with most people streaming their music. I can push a button and have my own Best of War on Drugs album on Spotify right now. While we’re at it why even call any collection of songs an album anymore?
Oh man, that Zeppelin boxed set? With the crop circles on it? If you were a white kid living in a dorm room in the 1990s, they MADE you buy that thing. I myself never bought a Zeppelin album of my own because I never had to. Everyone else already owned that boxed set and played it on a loop. [Chuck Klosterman voice] And THAT was the last gasp of the American monoculture.
Anyway, I don’t see best-of albums as much as I used to, because obviously streaming has made those compilations unnecessary. You’re much more likely to get live cuts, acoustic cuts, covers, and/or unreleased tracks instead. But the concept of albums is still very much alive, and there are good reasons for that. First of all, an album remains a handy practical device for promoting new music. The music press is structured to both hype albums and review them, even if artists now release nearly every track from their latest LP onto Spotify, one song at a time, in staggered intervals leading up to its release. Albums get your attention in ways that tossing off a new single here and there never could. Secondly, artists’ deals with labels are still usually dictated by X number of albums delivered, so they HAVE to craft the product that way.
Finally, albums still matter to artists. This is true in terms of production (why would you reserve studio time and hire a producer only to make one lousy song?), but in terms of the artistry itself. You don’t see novelists abandoning their form just to exclusively write blog posts now, do you? That’s because every album is a statement. It defines the artist at that moment, in that place, at that period in both their career and their personal life. It’s a trail marker, the same way a feature-length film is. I know that’s rich if the album is question is Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water, but the format remains proven, even if technology has rendered it a seeming anachronism.
What is the deal with people who basically hang out on the toilet for extended periods of time, either reading newspapers in the old days or their phones these days? (Or apparently, eating cheese in your case). If I go to take a dump and within 10 seconds it isn’t coming out I will simply chalk it down to a false alarm and pull my pants back up and go back to whatever I was doing. Why would anyone simply choose to remain there for who knows how long? I totally don’t understand this.
Because the bathroom is the only place in the house, or at the office, free of other eyeballs. You can fuck around with your phone in there and no one will judge you for it. They also won’t come up and ask you to do shit, the way you would if you were lazing about out in the open. I never saw This Is 40 (smart move by me), but the trailer led me to believe that all five hours of that film are about this very issue. A toilet is my shelter. That’s why I linger. It’s also why I resent it if I go in there to take a dump and the kids immediately start fighting, or if the dog decides NOW is when he needs to go out and take his own dump. I hate being rushed when I’m on the can. And yet I don’t shower as long or as often as I once did. I am a land of contrasts.
With so many champions with long winning streaks and so many of them having run away games, I feel like Jeopardy could use a bit of a shakeup to make the gameplay more compelling. Allowing the second and third place winners to actually collect their winnings instead of $2000 for second place and $1000 for third place would make Final Jeopardy more compelling. Another thought would be if the second place person got within a certain dollar amount of the champion or converted a true Daily Double in Jeopardy, they could qualify to return the following day. What other ways could Jeopardy be improved?
None. The Trebek years proved that Jeopardy cannot be improved upon. I do agree with Matt that every contestant should take home their winnings after every episode. They earned that dough and Sony can afford to award it. And if you finish in the red, you should actually owe the studio that money. Tough night for you, but that’s what you get for being a dumbfuck.
By the way, I had no idea what had become of the current hosting situation until I looked it up to answer this question. Remember Mike Richards? That was pretty random, wasn’t it? Anyway, they’re apparently still trying to choose between Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik, or they might end up punting:
Speaking backstage, [executive producer Michael] Davies teased that there could be not just one new host, but several… “All of our plans for Jeopardy! — which is more Jeopardy!, not less, more versions — we’re going to need multiple hosts to represent the entire audience, to represent the entire country, in order to take this franchise forward.”
None of that sounds good. I don’t want multiple hosts, and I don’t want more versions of Jeopardy. No one asked for a Cool Ranch Jeopardy, but that’s exactly what we’re gonna end up getting. Davies looked at shitty iPhone games (including Jeopardy’s own), and at Wheel of Fortune turning into a firehose of gimmicky mini-games no one likes, and he was like, “We should do that.” We’re gonna get Ken hosting Nerd Jeopardy and Bialik hosting Anti-Vaxxer Jeopardy and Michael Strahan hosting Soap Opera Jeopardy and Steve Bannon hosting Nazi Jeopardy. I’ll watch all that shit about as often as I watch tennis.
Email of the week!
About an hour ago I get home from work. I greet the dog, the wife. Wife says the daughter is upstairs putting pajamas on. We chat about our day. All good. Suddenly the unmistakable anguished yawp of the six-year-old upstairs. We call her name. No response. We run upstairs. She’s not in her room. Another scream. Sounds like it’s on the other side of the house. We race across the upstairs. On the tiny balcony outside our bedroom, there is a butt naked girl sobbing and screaming to be let in. She has locked herself out.
We open the balcony door. Between sobs, she tells us she’s so scared she has to poop. We tell her to go poop. She runs back through the upstairs to the bathroom. Still sobbing, still naked and, turns out, still wet from her bath. So she’s dripping water all the way. And poop. She’s pooping. We stifle the laughter and I turn for the cupboard with the cleaning supplies. My wife screams. I turn back.
Dog eating poop. This beautiful, sweet little mutt we adopted three months ago. Doesn’t bark, doesn’t lick, doesn’t jump, doesn’t beg for food. Never even seen her run. Basically a living, friendly throw pillow. But she has sprinted up the stairs and through my wife’s legs, and now she’s lapping that shit up off the floor just as fast as it plops down. I guess she was hungry for shit.
Ten minutes later we’re downstairs, cleaned up and done crying. We all have the giggles. I look my daughter in the eye. “Why were you naked on the balcony?”
She looks right back at me.
“Well. Daddy. I was changing into my pajamas.”
“I like to go on the balcony because the air feels like pool water.”
Most obvious fucking thing in the world.