Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s novel, Point B, while you’re at it. Today, we’re talking about the Texans, oven mitts, weird instruments, and SENATORS.
HAPPY SENATORS WEEK! I hereby declare to the chamber that these are … your letters:
Will Tom Brady run for office when his playing career is over? If “yes,” what will he run for? I’m betting Republican senator from Florida. A senate position is perfect for him. It’s a prestigious, high-profile job that doesn’t require a lot of effort or mental energy. If, and when, he becomes a senator, will he eventually run for president?
No to all of that. After he retires at age 62, Tom Brady will become one of those dudes who loves being ASKED to run for public office but never actually does. This has been a whole genre of celebrity for decades now. Back when he hosted The Daily Show, people BEGGED Jon Stewart to run for President, and he ate that shit up. George Clooney was a boomer liberal wet dream who got the same treatment and was like, “Well gee, I’d love to become President and save America but I’ve just fucked WAY too many models for people to be able to relate to me.” And then there’s The Rock, who has taken political cockteasing to new, unexplored dimensions:
“I have a goal, and an interest and an ambition to unite our country,” says Johnson, who is fictionally running for president in 2032 on the show Young Rock. “If this is what the people want, then I will do that.” He adds, “If the time comes where there is a good amount of people who want to see that happen, then I’m going to consider it.”
Young Sheldon Rock sounds like a true piece of shit designed to be a campaign trial balloon. But The Rock isn’t a fucking idiot. As long as people HOPE you run for office, you’re an ideal candidate. The second you start actually running, that love fades and you become just another shitbag. I know we just lived through four years of Donald Trump forced to actually serve as President after running in 2016 as a goof, but no other celebrity ENVIED Trump after he finally got the job. And with good reason: The job blows, especially if you don’t know how to do it. Being just a senator might sound more enjoyable, but every American now knows that the Senate should be stuffed down a fucking garbage disposal. All I ever want to do in my spare time is yell at our senators, because they’re all scum. So it’s not like that job is much fun these days, either
To that end, it’s always better to be like Clooney and go “sorry to disappoint you guys” to your slobbering fans anytime they start daydreaming about you magically fixing the tax code with your suave manner and underestimated intellect. Otherwise, you end up despised like Trump, disgraced like Schwarzenegger, or dead like Sonny Bono. The fantasy of running for office is always better than the reality.
So Tom Brady ain’t gonna be a senator, or even a state senator. Once he retires, he’ll show up at some grand opening of a Planet Fitness and say, “This nation needs to heal” and every American with shitty taste will be like HE’S RUNNING! And he won’t. Tom Brady isn’t stupid, either. Politicians get asked hard questions. Tom Brady avoids hard questions like they have seeds in them. He likes football, being a handsome rich guy, and being a less-than-credible lifestyle guru, in that order. If Brady ever formed an exploratory committee to run for a senate seat in Illinois (no celebrity senator is actually from the state they represent, so I picked Illinois randomly), it would strictly be a front so that he could increase brand awareness for his VitalFit x TB12 Perform & Recover vitamin pack.
The most successful people are the ones who choose their swindles wisely, and Brady chooses his well. Years from now, he’ll be at some awful banquet and a blue-hair will say to him, “Oh Tom, you simply MUST run for President, darling!” and then Brady will smile that Truman Show smile of his and be like, “It’s a nice thought, isn’t it?” And then he’ll drink that old lady’s blood.
By the way, if you wanna be like BUT JACK KEMP AND BILL BRADLEY at me, don’t waste your time. Jack Kemp is dead. Bill Bradley is still alive, but I had to look it up just to be certain. All the fake dignity that used to come with being an athlete turned elder statesman is gone now. Heath Shuler is the reason why. Tom Brady will never be Sen. Tom Brady (R-Ill.). When he gets old, he’ll sell brain gum, fuck his wife, and deliberately bankrupt the Jets after purchasing them. That’s all for the best.
Let’s say a twisted wizard came to you and offered you a deal. The deal was that you’d get to be a rich and successful baseball player, but the caveat was you always got hit by a pitch. You’d own a 1.000 career On Base Percentage, but exclusively due to you getting plunked. The wizard ensures you that you’ll never get in the head, and you’ll never have to go on the IL–basically all of your plunks would be on your butt or thigh or off your MLB-approved elbow armor. Do you take the deal?
No fucking way. None. I’m terrified of the baseball. I’m scared of the ball even when it doesn’t come anywhere near me. To this day, I don’t understand how ballplayers don’t crumple to the ground in agony any time they get plunked. Motherfucker gets a 99 MPH heater right to the crunchbasket and is like, “Ooh! Aah! Well that was irritating! A brief limp out of the batter’s box should ease that sting.” My brain can’t comprehend such a blasé reaction.
The Defector staff tends to be a little melodramatic about these kinds of hypotheticals, but in THIS case my melodrama is justified. I would cry like a fucking baby if I ever got plunked by a major-league pitcher, and that reaction wouldn’t soften if I got plunked 550 times a year. I’d be a wreck. I wouldn’t even show up at the stadium knowing that was what awaited me inside. I’d rather be sent to a POW camp.
What are some of the weirdest instruments that have been used in rock music that oddly work? Some that immediately come to mind for me are the accordion in Kaizers Orchestra and the French horn used by Minnesota’s own Whisper in the Noise.
I have never heard of either of those examples. But I HAVE listened to Jack White record entire albums around a marimba he found a fucking yard sale. That kind of stunt loses its charm once it represents the bulk of your discography.
The weird instruments work when they’re used in EXTREMELY small doses. I would cite the sitar as an example here, but given that Metallica, the Stones, and the Beatles have all used one in some of their most famous tracks, I can’t count it. I also won’t count the accordion in Radiohead’s “Motion Picture Soundtrack” because that comes from Kid A, a great album that was made of nothing BUT strange instruments and effects.
Let’s go with three other examples. The first one is the kazoo in “Crosstown Traffic,” which has no business working but did because DRUGS. The second is My Bloody Valentine using “the sound of piano strings stroked with a pencil eraser” while they were recording Loveless. Do I know which tracks featured these academically aroused piano strings? No. Do I give a crap? No. The third example is A using an old Speak-N-Spell for the bridge on “Monkey Kong,” which remains one of my favorite songs ever.
But I’m talking about all this in boomer terms. Given rock’s current obscurity in the broader culture, I would argue that it’s not weird to hear ANY instrument on any hit single anymore. The number of songs in the Billboard Top 10 right now that use the classic guitar/bass/drums/vocals combination is zero, and it’ll stay at zero for a really long time. There are way too many other options in the studio for artists to play around with now, and the audience is way too diverse to want plain old rock songs. Rock is the old way of doing things. So really, when you ask you me what the weirdest instruments ever used are, the answer is that nothing is weird anymore. Everything gets to be on the table. Next No. 1 single is gonna be Bad Bunny singing over a preschool xylophone and it’ll get EVERYONE’S ass moving. I approve.
Non-gameshow-cooking-shows taught me was that REAL CHEFS do not use oven mitts. They play the dangerous game of folding the nearest towel and using that to grab that sheet or skillet from the oven, leaving the tops of their hands open to the hot racks and hoping there’s enough folds of cotton between the pan and 2nd degree burns of the palm and fingers. Naturally, in order to feel like my culinary heroes and look like the real deal to my occasional (before-times) dinner guests, I adopted this move. I’m not gonna say it’s 100 percent effective (if the towel is damp, it does not go well) but at least I’m not one of those pretenders lumbering around the kitchen holding my tater tot hotdish with quilted mittens that match my mother-in-law’s tea cozy. So I gotta ask, what does a Chopped motherfucking champion use to pull his cast-iron skillet from the heat?
I use oven mitts. I’d like to channel my inner Bourdain and use kitchen towels, but I’m very talented at burning myself. I can’t risk using material that’s too thin, or leaving a patch of bare skin open for a red-hot cookie sheet to toy with. Also, Bourdain wrote that he went through a zillion towels for any given shift. I’m not cooking dinner for 200 every night, but I still don’t wanna use more than one object to handle my food. I need an oven mitt thicker than a shoe sole that has years’ worth of tomato stains on it.
I’m picky about these mitts, by the way. They can’t be stiff. And I don’t like the debutante ball ones that extend past your wrist and make it look like you’re about to launch a dog sled expedition across the Yukon. I need a normal-sized oven mitt that’s broken in. I break mine in by putting an orange inside of it. Then I bind the mitt with 9,000 rubber bands, soak it in a tub of melted Crisco, and then tuck it under a straw mattress for no less than 50 days. That gives any mitt the fabled “hinge.”
Do you think Ted Cruz is the most hated man in the Senate because he’s so inept at pairing perceived intellectual superiority with practiced intellectual dishonesty? Or, is it because he’s a giant penis?
Those two qualities need not be mutually exclusive, and they certainly factor into Ted Cruz being despised by even the most despicable people ever to set foot in Washington. But lemme tell you the real reason why no one likes Ted Cruz: it’s because he’s a fucking DORK.
That word, along with “nerd,” has been stripped of its meaning this century. But if we go by the original connotation of “dork,” Ted Cruz embodies it in totality. He thinks he’s smarter than everyone else, but isn’t. He’s never funny. Girls are creeped out by him. He’s a kiss-ass. He’s debate club kid not in the inspiring sense but in the “insufferable know-it-all” sense. Anyone who hangs near him is less cool because of it. That’s an OG dork. A total fucking loser.
It’s real easy to watch TV and movies and think that every outcast has been treated unfairly and is secretly awesome. In reality, some people are cast out because they suck. Ted Cruz is one such person. He’s not an adorable misfit. He’s a miserable dork that no one likes. I know the type. I’ve been the type. That “If you don’t wanna be friends with me that’s your loss!” breed of eighth-grade wastoid. Not enough polish in the world for a turd like that. I know because all of the world’s polish is already in Ted Cruz’s hair.
You played o-line. You know all about Oklahoma (or West Point where I grew up). Who is the best currently in the NFL at the Oklahoma drill? Best all time? Which position group has the advantage, o-line or d-line? You’re welcome for this amazing set of questions.
The best Oklahoma driller currently in the NFL is Aaron Donald. If you think it’s anyone else, you are wrong. D-linemen get the advantage in the Oklahoma drill (NOTE: I have never heard the drill called West Point, but it makes sense) because O-linemen are coached to be passive in certain ways: can’t always run downfield, can’t blatantly hold a guy, can’t carry the ball, can’t carry a gun, etc. Just the most annoying position on the fucking earth to play. Meanwhile, D-linemen can do whatever the fuck they want. They can grab you. They can throw you. They can say HORRIBLE shit about your family. They’re FREE. So while I’d like to say that Larry Allen would be the all-time Oklahoma drill champ—he’d definitely be the best O-lineman ever to do it—I’m gonna take either Donald or Jerome Brown and be comfortable with that decision.
Capers are garbage. Why do they exist?
What, you don’t like briny gravel on your food? I don’t like capers either, but they’re easier enough to take off my plate. My biggest beef with capers is that they look and taste like the infant version of an actual food. They grow into caperberries, which was one of the mystery basket ingredients I had to use when I won Chopped. I swear to you that I can’t remember WHAT I did with those caperberries in the entrée round. I really can’t, and my ego is such and that I SHOULD remember it. I think I dumped them on the plate as the timer went off or something. Point is, caperberries aren’t much better than actual capers and therefore invalidate the caper’s need to exist at all. Capers should grow into something cooler, like already-fermented kimchi or what have you.
The current incarnation of the Texans made me wonder how they stack up against the BLEAKEST moments for these cursed NFL teams and if they, at this moment, are just historically borked. They have: 1) no team to speak of (other than Watson, how many players on their roster can you name?) 2) no draft capital 3) a QB under approximately a million different sexual harassment investigations who HATES the Texans and was trying to leave (how much do the Texans wish they had taken a trade offer a month ago?) 4) a con-man pastor cosplaying as a GM and 5) a truly generational failson of a owner. Is this moment in time for the Texans the worst for any NFL team, ever?
It is. I wanna say that’s recency bias, but I genuinely can’t remember another NFL team falling apart this quickly in this particular way. I’ve seen teams choke in the playoffs and never recover. I’ve seen gifted young quarterbacks fall apart thanks to either the yips or scandal. I’ve seen teams that are insanely dysfunctional. But I’ve never seen a team ENGINEER all of those things to happen at the same time.
And do you know what the strangest thing is? It’s that there was never any rationale for it. Normally when a team nosedives, I can say that egos were a problem, or that the rest of the league finally caught up with them, or that the owner was looking to save some dough, or that Michael Vick really should have been nicer to his pets. Those are all classic ways that NFL franchises go to shit. None of them apply to the Texans. This team collapsed for absolutely no reason. I could spend years diligently researching the WHY of all this, and what am I gonna find? That Cal McNair is a dummy? Other owners are dummies. Other owners get bamboozled by unqualified toadies. Other GMs run off talent in the name of building a legacy. Other coaches handle game management the way teenage me handled unhooking a bra. Other players do horrible shit off the field. But in all of those instances, the motives are always out in the sunlight.
With the Texans, there IS no motive. Watson’s alleged sexual assaults are about the only cut-and-dried part of the fiasco. That’s typical bad guy shit. Everything else? NO FUCKING IDEA. None. If you asked any of the principles involved how this team became the biggest laughingstock in a league where the Lions just hired Dan Campbell, they wouldn’t be able to tell you. They wouldn’t even know anything is wrong! You may as well ask your fucking DOG what happened.
And it’s not over. Watson still hasn’t been traded or disciplined yet. Training camp hasn’t started yet. The Stanford pud they drafted at QB hasn’t accidentally thrown the ball into a crevasse yet. And David Culley has yet to reveal what an incredibly average coach we all know he’ll be. All of that is still to come, and it will all be so, so unnecessary. We only have so many good football teams to go around, so I don’t appreciate the ones that implode just for imploding’s sake. Fuck you, Texans. Come August, I’ll have more to say about your sorry asses.
When reading almost any article online, I absentmindedly highlight the text as I’m reading it. Not a paragraph at a time as some reading aid, mind you; I alternately drag my mouse up and down, highlighting random swaths of the article. How broken am I, and do you have any completely useless reading habits?
My worst online reading habit is going through the article—often just skimming and not reading it!—trying to decide which paragraph will make the best screengrab for a tweet. That’s not a healthy way of reading anything, but it’s a habit that I share with every other attention-starved dickhead on Twitter. Hmm, which paragraph in this article that I didn’t write will leave people the most impressed by my unique taste in copy if I post it? That kind of thing.
I do NOT highlight text as I’m reading it, because I read most articles on my phone and not my desktop, and highlighting shit on an iPhone isn’t something that anyone can do absent-mindedly. I might highlight a passage for a tweet—hey you, read this part of that report on Senator Joe Manchin being a needy ballbag!—but doing that means I have to press down on my screen and pray the little highlighter prompt comes up, and then I have to ease my finger up and down the screen so that I don’t accidentally end up highlighting the entire article, links and photo captions included. It’s the hardest work I do all day, and I hate it because my iPhone hates me doing it.
If you’re doing this on a desktop, as Nick is, it actually makes more sense because it’s easier, but also because it’s better for your eyes to read knockout type against a solid color than black type on a glowing white screen. Unless your browser is already in dark mode. I just tried putting Chrome in dark mode now and the type background was still white, so now I’m both confused and angry. Maybe I could run the Texans.
Are you a menu guy for family dinners? At our house, Thursday and Friday are set as fridge cleanout and take out, respectively. Saturday and Sunday are usually reserved for things mom and dad don’t have the time or not energy for during the week: stew, the smoker, or anything complicated. Monday we try to ease into the week with something easy (think Trader Joe’s Orange Chicken with veggies and rice or the crock pot). Lately, we’ve done lots of taco Tuesday and during nicer weather, we do Tuesday Tapas. Wednesday is often fish. We throw in family pizza night (the homemade variety) once or twice a month.
I’m nowhere near as organized as that. I should be, because figuring out what’s for dinner has remained the bane of my existence for 15 fucking years now. I have a loose schedule. Sunday night is for big, long-cooking meals. Norman Rockwell meals. The rest of the week is a clusterfuck. We’re subsisting on leftovers and old recipe ideas before I finally get to enjoy some takeout Friday or Saturday night. That’s our system.
I have grown extremely horny for takeout since quarantine began. I don’t like cooking as much as I used to, and I can’t take my kids to a restaurant. Thus, my only recourse is ordering enough pad thai to fill a goddamn shipping container. It’s like Christmas whenever they leave that at my front stoop.
My mom is a menu planner, though. If we visit for the holidays or on a summer break, she writes out the week’s menu on a sheet of paper so she can keep track of what to make and what groceries to buy. Not only is this efficient, but it makes me very excited to see shit like LOBSTER ROLLS penciled in for Thursday night. That lets me know that I am loved. Meanwhile, back home I’m just praying we have ravioli in the freezer on any given night.
Why do we rely on these mostly short, older refs to complete a fair and accurate jump ball? Refs in hockey routinely fuck up a face-off and that’s a cakewalk compared to a good jump ball toss. How cool would it be to see some mechanical arm descending from the roof to just drop the ball?
I like that idea but you’d need a whole rail system on the roof of the arena to make the arm work, and the Milwaukee Bucks—who were once owned by Senator Herb Kohl, I’ll have you know—aren’t gonna pay for that. So what do you use instead? I’ll tell you what you use: MODIFIED T-SHIRT CANNON. The ref loads the ball into the cannon, aims it skyward, pulls the trigger, and BLAST OFF. Mass hysteria on the court. A free burrito also comes out. Beats Marvel night on ESPN.
Email of the week!
A few years ago, I was walking through the Union Square subway in New York on my way to work, and the regular busker Remy Francois was there in his usual spot, playing House of the Rising Sun, in French, on electric guitar. This guy is extremely memorable because he wears a plastic Mardi Gras crown and has a big ol’ walrus mustache. I found a vid of him on YouTube in case you want to see the mustache.
At this particular time of day (rushing-to-work time), nobody stops to watch the musicians. So it was easy to spot Anthony Mackie: the only audience member, standing directly in front of Remy Francois, dramatically pulling out his wallet, peeling off $20s and dropping them into Remy’s bag with a big flourish and appreciative smile (Maybe they weren’t $20s, but he peeled off at least five bills. It was a big production.). I looked him up later and seems like he’s a big New Orleans fan, so it all made sense! So if you bump into Anthony Mackie out on a Friday night, you’re gonna definitely want to put House of the Rising Sun on the jukebox.
I will most certainly do that. He’s Captain America now. He can afford to toss a few bones my way.