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Funbag

Mixing Chip Flavors Is A Dangerous Game

06/08/12 - Midland Park, NJ - A supermarket shelf at a Kings Food Market in Midland Park, New Jersey filled mostly with Frito-Lay brands of chips.
James Leynse/Corbis 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 Stephen A. Smith, spheres, Crazy Town, phones in toilets, and more.

Your letters:

Ben:

I went to a gathering at a friend’s house last weekend and they had a size bag of regular Utz potato chips: the red white and blue bag. Or so I thought. I reached in for a handful, crammed them in my mouth and, oh my fucking God what am I chewing on? Someone had mixed chip varieties into one bag. Regular Utz, ruffled Utz, bar-b-que Utz, salt & vinegar Utz (barf), Old Bay Utz, sour cream & onion Utz… you get the idea. Clearly whoever did this needs to be beaten and dragged to the Hague for crimes against humanity, right? What kind of maniac mixes different kinds of chips together? This isn't like Chex Mix, where it's different types of stuff, crackers, pretzels, etc all mixed together with ONE type of seasoning. Tell me I'm right to be outraged and a bit disgusted by this.

I’d save your true outrage for whatever Nazi flag Sammy Alito decides to fly from his yacht a week from now, right before he makes ownership of fallopian tubes a federal crime. I have two suspects for your particular misdemeanor:

1. A child living in your friend’s house.

2. The mom in that house, who consolidated all of the chips into one bag because there were six bags in the cabinet that each had four chips left.

I sympathize with both potential offenders here. I loved every kind of chip when I was a kid, so I tried mixing up flavors to see if that would disrupt the paradigm completely. It did not. Turns out that miscegenation among potato chips is a bad idea (tell Alito). If I’m eating BBQ chips, I only want BBQ dust. I don’t want it commingling with cheddar & sour cream dust. You want differing flavor profiles in ACTUAL food, not in bullshit food. It’s the same reason no one eats M&Ms and Skittles in a single handful. That’d blow up the moon.

As to possibility of the mom being the culprit here, I have three children. They are 18, 15, and 12. Grown, for the most part. Even so, these rascals still have a few remaining leftover small-kid habits. They still don’t know how to enter a car in the correct order, and end up climbing over one another in the back of the minivan and starting a fight before we’ve even left for the beach. They always forget to lock the fucking door. And, most vital, they love to leave chip bags around with one goddamn chip left. They’re all too lazy to throw the bag away, so they put the bag back with virtually nothing in it. Then I go to the cabinet for a snack, open up the Doritos, and SURPRISE, ASSHOLE. It’s like a sociology experiment. Finish your goddamn snacks, kids.

And yes, do not mix potato chip flavors. You will end up miles outside of Flavortown if you do.

Josh:

I just had a random medical event that resulted in me losing a fair amount of hearing in my left ear. I now require a hearing aid (I'm only 46, fwiw.) I guess I got an ear infection/virus that took out my hearing, which seems random and dumb. The hearing aid is great (cured the tinnitus, but cost like $3K) and I know I'll eventually get used to this. But I can't help but mourn the loss of my hearing and wonder why it happened to me, or if I could have done anything differently. Did you have similar feelings? You seem to have accepted your outcome and even have a positive outlook. Was that something that just took some time?

For those who don’t know, I lost a solid 75 percent of my hearing in an accident back in 2018, then wrote a whole book about it. I’m not gonna pull a Meet The Press and tell Josh, “If you just read my book, I outline everything in detail!” Instead, I’ll give him (and you) the express answer. Yes, I mourned the loss of my hearing. Yes, I was greatly annoyed that I suffered a brain hemorrhage for reasons that even my doctors couldn’t pinpoint. I thought about my accident every single day. For years.

The only way I arrived at now, happier than I’ve ever been, was because of a number of simple factors: time, treatment, technology, and love. Once I got a hearing aid (left ear) and a cochlear implant (right ear), most of my hearing was restored, to the point where I can’t pull the I’m Deaf card on my wife if I don’t listen to something she just said. She’s heard that line before and won’t have it. I also started going to therapy and went on an exotic miracle drug called “Zoloft” that chilled me out without robbing me of my much-ballyhooed “edge.” And my family had my back all the way through my recovery. That helped me turn my focus from what I didn’t have to what I still did. Five-plus years later, I’m as tranquil as a deserted beach.

Also, my insurance covered a whole lotta shit.

Seamus:

How much of the song "Butterfly" by Crazy Town do you think you could sing aloud during coitus before your partner remarked on it? Would it necessarily put the brakes on the whole thing?

Five words. You can probably get away with “Come my lady,” without your partner realizing what you’re doing. But once you get deeper into the chorus—Come, come my lady/You’re my butterfly, sugar baby—the jig is up. If I made it that far, my wife would say, “What the fuck are you doing?” and then our little session would be cut short. Zero doubt.

This is a pity, as I secretly like that song. It’s stupid, it’s sleazy, and it’s the kind of song you put on while pregaming at a shitty Vegas bachelor party. But sometimes that’s exactly the kind of song I want, and I do love that Chili Peppers sample they used.

To that end, when I was single I DID have certain CDs I played whenever I brought a date home. This was the late '90s, before you could make digital playlists for fucking. You had to rely on burned CDs, mixtapes, or regular albums. I had to use the latter, and lemme tell you: the first three tracks of Jamiroquai’s “Travelling Without Moving” do the job. That’s as much as I say here, lest things get a bit too randy.

Jon:

Does anyone like Stephen A. Smith? Or is the point that we're not supposed to like him? Does anyone care that he loves the Knicks? Does anyone care that anyone loves the Knicks? Am I supposed to give a shit, or is this just another symptom of ESPN's terminal disease? 

Oh, people love Stephen A. Smith. I know because I had to do a journalistic colonoscopy on the man just a few years ago. While doing legwork for that piece, I learned that First Take makes ESPN a shitload of money, same as regular daytime shows make for the broadcast nets. It’s especially popular with black viewers. You could argue that Stephen A. is the most popular black sports broadcaster in the history of the medium, O.J. and Barkley included. Prior to Pat McAfee’s arrival (more on that in a second), ESPN had essentially consolidated all of its punditry into Stephen A., thereby making him the face of the company. That’s how he ended up everywhere. He’s on First Take. He’s on SportsCenter. He’s on the pregame show, the halftime show, and the postgame show. And the dot-com’s front page is mostly screengrabs of Stephen A. making the “Uber driver sucked me off??” face above a headline that reads, “Stephen A. is NOT happy with Caitlin Clark’s teammates.”

This was always bound to result in the man being overexposed and overextended. ESPN needed one pundit to do the job of 20, and Stephen A. was more than happy to do all of those jobs at once. I see him on TV now and he looks so, so fucking tired. He could drop dead of exhaustion tomorrow and I wouldn’t be shocked in the least. His omnipresence means that he’s often forced to comment on shit that he’s not all that well-versed in (football), to hump long-running jokes until they’re scrapple (his supposed hatred of the Cowboys, even though he and Jerry Jones are friends), to manufacture opinions at times where he almost certainly doesn’t have one, and to create entire news cycles by feuding with his colleagues. The result is a standard one for cost-cutting: a worse product that makes its company more money.

Stephen A.’s contract is up this year, and he’d like to be paid commensurately with the insane amount of work he does for the four-letter. I imagine it that it also irks him that ESPN not only brought in McAfee, who possesses no background in journalism and proves it on a daily basis, but paid him more than Stephen A. right off the bat. Someone in the C-suite in Bristol was like, “We need another take mule” and HEY PRESTO! A replacement-level afternoon drive host gets $17 mil a year.

So if you don’t like Stephen A., A) That complaint is now a thousand years old, and B) Consider the alternatives. If Stephen A. leaves ESPN this year, it’s not like they’ll replace him with the entire cast and crew of SportsCenter from the 1990s. They’ll just give you more McAfee, or they’ll find some other chatty dipshit to single-handedly fill the void at a discount. That won’t be an improvement from the current setup. This is because, when he genuinely cares, Stephen A. can be a delight. This is especially true when he’s talking about the Knicks, because he clearly gives a fuck about them. And when he’s off his game, he’s still gonna elicit opinions, both positive and negative, from anyone who watches him. That’s his job, and he’s as good at it as anyone has ever been.

But again, he looks very much like a man who works 20-hour shifts every day. Someone get him a paid year off and all the Cheez Doodles he can eat.

Thom:

If you drop your cell phone in a trough urinal during the 7th inning stretch, do you recover it? Does your answer change if you happen to be at Fenway on Opening Day in the 80s and it is your beeper?

Asking for a friend, are we? Anyway, the answer (to the phone part of the question) is yes. I’ve fished stuff out of the toilet before: glasses, mostly. In those instances, I washed the item and then scrubbed my hands vigorously. Then I went on about my day. I don’t bring my phone into the shitter as often as I used to, but I still lapse. When that happens, my fear of dropping it into the toilet becomes pronounced. I’ve owned a smartphone for well over a decade now and have yet to have this nightmare transpire (yes, I know I just jinxed myself). But should it ever happen, I know damn well that I’m rescuing it, no matter what’s in the toilet: peepee, doodoo, whatever. Mine or anyone else’s. It’s worth those five minutes of revulsion to avoid the hours and the expense of having to replace the stupid thing.

Now if we’re talking about a beeper in the 1990s, I better be a heart surgeon on call to need one. Otherwise, that thing is staying in the abyss.

HALFTIME!

Sam:

Hey Drew. I was in Vegas a couple weeks ago for work, and found a ticket to see Dead & Co at the Sphere. I'm not a Deadhead and not remotely interested in their music. What I found during the show was that, while they're incredibly talented musicians, they actually... just... suck? It's like listening to Rush. Incredible craft, but the songs are just trash. Do the Grateful Dead suck shit? That said, the Sphere is incredible and I would recommend everyone go see a show there, even though Vegas is also just the worst.

Damn, Sam even fired a stray at Rush while issuing this take. Now that’s the kind of extra effort that’ll get you camera time at ESPN. Let me briefly—emphasis on briefly—defend Dead & Company here for a moment. First of all, you saw The Grateful Dead without Jerry Garcia, who died nearly 30 years ago. I’m sure Bob Weir and the surviving Dead members do their best without their original mastermind up there with them, but it’s still not the same. You still went to see Queen without Freddie Mercury. Also, one of my best friends went to that exact same show, and I wasn’t gonna kill his buzz by going, “Actually The Dead are bad???” at him when he dropped the news. Whatever floats his boat.

Okay, my defense is now over. I fucking hate The Grateful Dead and always have, Garcia or no Garcia. I’d rather go to a Joe Rogan live taping than see the Dead. This is because I need proper songcraft: verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, and you’re out. There are certain bands, like Radiohead, that can subvert the formula and get away with it because they’re still writing songs with remarkable precision. And they fucking rock. But in the case of jam bands like The Dead and Phish, song structure is the enemy. It’s just endless, midtempo noodling, and it makes me want to throw my speakers off a balcony (this is also true if I am stoned, please don’t assume I’ve only heard jam bands while lucid). I can appreciate the musicianship involved, but that’s all I can do if the hooks aren’t there. I think the Dead would be well served to study the work of Crazy Town if they ever want to become a real band.

Also, I have zero doubt that The Sphere is cool. I want ugly, tacky shit when I go to Vegas. I wanna see fake Empire State Buildings, water parks inside fast food restaurants, and neon lights that leave the municipal power grid in critical condition. That’s Vegas’s entire reason for being. Secondly, it’s not as if every other performance space is owned by people nicer than James Dolan.

And finally, it looks cool as shit. SFGate was gonna send to me to see U2 at The Sphere when it first opened, but we ended up being too late because everyone else had already filed a similar stunt piece before I could book a flight. But I promise you that as corny as Bono is, and as tacky as The Sphere may be, I wouldn’t have ended up filing a hit job. I would have had a kickass time, especially if U2 played “Discotheque.” Zero doubt.

I’d see Rush there, too. “Time Stand Still” is still an excellent song.

John:

Do you think the NFL will ever get a commissioner like Paul Tagliabue again, or are we going to be just pummeled with more and more Roger Goodell types till we die? 

Don’t yearn too hard for Paul Tagliabue. That man had plenty of shortcomings, so much so that he was the Bush 41 of NFL commissioners. Roger Goodell is annoying, but he keeps the trains running on time, which is really all I require. It’s all any league requires, which is why the Ginger Hammer will serve as the model for all commissioners going forward. I’d complain, but again I have to consider the alternatives. Condi Rice wanted this job not long ago. She wouldn’t have been an improvement.

Mark:

Look, far be it from me to belabor a point - but when was the last time you sat down and read Calvin & Hobbes? I'm just a little stunned that its absolutely spot-on combination of innocence, poignancy and laugh-out-loud smart-assedness doesn't resonate with you.

Oh for fuck’s sake. I LIKED CALVIN & HOBBES. You happy? I genuinely thought it was a great comic strip. Now leave me the fuck alone about it! You’re not the only person on Earth with an inner child, buddy!

Vince:

When Inside The NBA goes dark, that’s one less bow tie in the world of sports media. Could Drew Magary step up and fill the bow tie void? Personally, I think you could pull it off.

This is a rude snub of Ken Rosenthal, who has been elegantly rocking the bowtie ever since he first got on camera. There’s zero chance that I, despite my prep school and NESCAC pedigree, could pull off a bowtie as gracefully as Ernie Johnson or Ken have. You know who I’d end up looking like instead? That’s right: Tuckie Carlson. Not a chance. I’ll wear a bowtie (clip-on) with a tux, but that’s as far as I can take it.

Dan:

My wife and I recently welcomed our first child a little over a month ago. The entire build up to the birth was hectic enough, but I kept thinking about how much it would all be worth it in the end: the feeling of joy that I would experience the moment he came into the world. But when the day finally came and he was born, I kind of felt nothing. I love him and would do anything for him, but I don't feel a sense of connection to him at all. Is this normal? Am I a bad dad already?

You are not a bad dad. Don’t beat yourself up over feeling differently than how you anticipated. You love this person, but do not actually know them yet. The more time you spend with your baby, and the more they take form, the more that love will grow.

Also, you’re probably really fucking tired right now. I know I was. I barely remember my children’s respective births because they were so fucking exhausting (even more so for my wife, of course), as were the days that followed. Early parenting is all about getting the job done—changing diapers, feedings, visits to the pediatrician—before anything else. There’s barely any time to feel, because you’re too busy. And when you’re not busy, you’re sopping up whatever sleep you can find. Again, all of this is normal, as is postpartum depression in men. Keep tabs on your mindstate and then see a doctor if you don’t feel like it’s improving.

But chances are, it will. The first moments of parenthood are surreal: real out-of-body experience shit. Processing such a massive change in your life takes time. I think I only got used to being a parent in, like, 2021. The point is to savor all of that processing, because that’s where you learn, firsthand, what it means to be responsible for the life of another human. In other words, the payoff is still worth it. I know you were expecting that payoff to come right now, but that’s not how it works. Having a kid means enduring an endless number of rude surprises, none of which you’ll ever be ready for. Not even if you’ve already watched Three Men And A Baby.

Jeff:

Which team (in any sport) is most in need of a complete aesthetic makeover? For example, I’m currently watching the Mavs/Wolves game and man, the Mavs logo and uniforms are so… blah. Any teams come to mind for you?

Well wait, which Mavs uniform? Because they now have like eight of them, although I don’t think their Fresh Prince of Bel Air jerseys stayed in the rotation, which is for the best.

You probably mean their default get-ups, which are straightforward in design and lack any kind of gaudy (i.e. fun) accoutrements. This is a byproduct of Nike adopting a suffocatingly minimalist aesthetic across all of their current uniform designs, leaving the flourishes to their City Connect jerseys, or some other temp kit. It’s also why teams, particularly NFL teams, refuse to ever change their base color scheme. Nike would prefer they always dress as a blank canvas rather than make any daring, and permanent, sartorial choices. I basically have to wait for retro night to see anything fun out there.

But this is a problem if a team’s uniforms were never good. And that’s why I’ve been sitting here for DECADES hoping that both the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars do a full brand overhaul. Bad enough that both of these teams adopted boring-ass names for themselves, but then they committed to teal as their primary color. Decades after teal stopped being a thing, they’re still clinging to it. Meanwhile, the Houston Texans—an even less accomplished franchise with an even stupider name—just reworked their shit to have an actual personality:

See how easy that was, Jags and Panthers? You can actually leave the 1990s. You can actually look good out there even when Bryce Young doesn’t. There are over 2,000 other colors available in the Pantone swatch book. Pick one and quit embarrassing yourselves.

Jim:

I believe most people who use social media can think of at least one category of content they don’t actually care for that got baked into their algorithms. Facebook keeps serving me videos of a Florida-based snake collector, while Instagram thinks I’m into the anti-seed oil carnivore diet influencer. In reality, I don’t like reptiles and I‘m down with sunflower oil. What kind of “off brand for you” content seems permanently embedded in your social media algorithms?

My bigger problem is iPhone game ads. Everyone knows that Twitter ads are now all off-target, featuring sponsored posts for old NBA playoff scores, asbestos supplements, and things that Creamy Joe Biden doesn’t want you to know. Meanwhile, I’ll open up Yazy and get 500 ads for bras for plus-sized women, which makes me even more self-conscious about my manboobs than I already am. Then I get ads for weight-loss gummies that both Kelly Clarkson and Oprah swear will change my life. These ads know some of my basic personal issues, but they also assume that I’m a fucking idiot. I’m not. I graduated cum laude, I’ll have you know. Sell me tickets to see Ratt at The Sphere, phone ad people!

Email of the week!

Joe:

I had a dream the other night that two MLB players (from the Nats and the Orioles) got in a brief fistfight, the ump broke it up, and then the ump started chewing out one of the players. But instead of a general "be a professional" chewing out, the ump took sides between cities, ragging on the guy from the wealthier city for giving more tax handouts to the baseball team. It was like, "your city can afford to have players start fistfights, but other cities can't, so get your shit together." In what is a very-likely-inaccurate estimation, my dream-brain decided that Baltimore was the more flush city. In what is a very-likely-accurate estimation, my dream-brain also decided that everyone within twenty feet would be taking videos of the ump going to town on this dude and putting them on social media.

All of that to say: If umps (or refs) did start shitting on players' cities as part of the penalty for in-game infractions, what city would you love to hear an ump shit on? What would be fair game for criticism? Would the be-shitting be different for different sports?

This email served as a personal reminder to me that the Boston Celtics are in the NBA Finals this year.

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