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There’s Too Much Shit To Remember

SLUG: ST/WONDERBOOK. DATE: December, 15, 2008 CREDIT: Katherine Frey / TWP. Frederick, MD. Wonder Book and Video warehouse for their internet business. They also have stores in the area. Debbie Schnibbe (CQ), who has worked at Wonder Book and Video for 8 years pulls about 150 books in an hour and a half. The books are shelved according to a number when they arrive at the warehouse. So, a novel can be next to a textbook which is next to cookbook. That's why the public is not invited to come and browse the million or so books on hand. (Photo by Katherine Frey/The The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Katherine Frey/The The Washington Post 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 antiques, hospital food, NFL roster expansion, picking your ear, and more.

Your letters!


I’m 46 and have started forgetting recent major sports moments. If Defector or other sports blogs didn’t give a recap of last year’s NFL playoffs, I would have no idea what happened without looking it up. If challenged, it would take me 5-10 minutes to even remember the last World Series champion. Does this mean I’ve lost my sports fan fastball? Part of me thinks the torrent of day-to-day sports information now is so strong that I just can’t retain it all. Is that loser talk from an irrelevant relic, or does the pressure for the next headline/hot take/scoop erode past sport achievement faster now?

Neither. It’s just a natural part of the aging process. I struggle to remember who won the World Series every year as well. Given the last two champions (Astros, Braves), that might be my mind TRYING to forget, but what’s more likely is that I can only remember so much. When I was in my teens and 20s, I could remember everything. I could remember not just who won the World Series but also who lost it. I could run back every Final Four going back to middle school. I could recount the MVP in every Super Bowl. I knew all of the Best Picture winners in order going back to my birth year. This was because my own lifespan was so short. Much easier to remember a decade or two of culture rather than MANY decades of it, especially when you’re young and you have enough free time to pay attention to all of that culture as it’s unfolding.

I no longer have that time, capacity, or even inclination. Save for the NFL—and I still need refreshers on it from time to time—I can’t retain all of this information, much less organize it. This goes beyond culture and across my entire memory. If you asked me to picture what my daughter looked like in fourth grade, I would struggle. I have to rely on pictures, videos, news landmarks (i.e. presidential elections), and the word of others to assume the burden of memory for me. I also find myself remembering certain things—song lyrics, very old ads, even movie lines—incorrectly. I cue up a Youtube of some Pace picante sauce ad that’s been stuck in my brain for decades and I think to myself No no that’s not how that guy says “get a rope”! This must be the remix of the original! My trusty memory can’t be off! But it is. Of course it is. I haven’t watched that ad on live television in 34 years. I’m not gonna remember it precisely, but my warped memory of it became definitive along the way. There are far worse things to misremember.

I used to get hung up on this shit. I do have brain damage, after all. I’m also at greater risk for dementia than other people due to that brain damage. In other ways, my memory is still as sharp as a blade. I’m just hitting a wall in terms of bandwidth. This happens to everyone who doesn’t have superpowers, so I don’t sweat it anymore. If I can’t remember who won Best Actor in 2015 (and I don’t), no one else is gonna give a shit. I don’t feel uncool or senile when I have that block. Instead, I’m just excited whenever those memories come back—or, more accurately, are brought back—to me. Turns out that Leo DiCaprio was the Best actor winner that year for The Revenant. Nice! I really liked that movie, because it was mean as shit.

It’s birthday season at the Magary house this winter, which means that my wife and I get to play Let’s Remember Some Ages as we leaf through photo albums and check out some of the old toys still littering the basement. I’ll see a Chuggington board book in the back of the closet and then be like OMG I REMEMBER WHEN OUR BOY WATCHED THAT SHOW! CHUGGGGGGGGINGTON CHUGGA-CHUGGA-CHUGGA-CHUGGA-CHUGGINGTON! I love those little moments of time travel. Your mind gets a little bit duller as you age, but that only makes every resurfaced memory more fun to play with, and to share.


The time machine has been invented, but you can only travel backwards 250 years and beyond. Is this a rewarding experience, or is it ruined by everyone's muggy and meaty bad breath?

That’s the thing about all of these time travel questions: who the fuck would REALLY wanna time travel? Marty McFly got stuck a mere 30 years back in time and it was a horrifying crisis. He would’ve fucked his mom to get back to 1985, and he nearly did.

So imagine voluntarily going back to Victorian England or the Age of the Dinosaurs and wanting to hang around for longer than five minutes. I get antsy if I’m stuck at the mall for too long. How do I know this time machine has enough gas to get me back to the age of web access and running water? What if it’s a Tesla time machine, and it autopilots me to the year 34569 instead? If I do get back to 2023, will the Morlocks have taken over earth because I stepped on the wrong ant back in 1836? I daydream about time travel as much as anyone else, but give me an actual chance to do it and I’d bail like a kindergartener in line for a rollercoaster. I’m fine right here in 2023, thank you very much. It’s the devil I know.


Is it high time the nefarious competition committee to look at changing the number of active players a team can have on its roster for games? With injuries being so common and an extra game in the season, I could see bumping from 53 to say 63 being beneficial for teams to allow more players to rotate in games. Essentially two extra linemen and one more position player on both sides of the ball.

That’s already on the committee’s docket since the NFC title game was ruined by the Niners being unable to field a quarterback for over half the game. Because of that debacle, people wanna bring back the emergency QB slot on every game-day roster, where you dress a third QB but can only play him if the other two get knocked out. That provision used to exist, but the NFL did away with it a while back and teams subsequently used that open roster spot for depth at other positions, since the odds of you needing an extra rotational D-lineman are far greater than both your QBs getting hurt in the same game.

So maybe we’ll get the Brock Purdy Rule back this offseason, but I guarantee you that will be the extent of roster expansion. If you wanna expand roster size, you have to proportionately increase every team’s payroll, and guess who has no interest in doing that?


What was the best thing you’ve ever eaten out of a hospital cafeteria? The worst?

This question gets the patented “I think I’ve told this story before” disclaimer on it. But again, I have a lot of memories to keep track of, so forgive me. The worst thing I ever had to eat in a hospital was a hamburger. There was nothing wrong with this hamburger. I wasn’t expecting the cheeseburger at the end of The Menu or anything. But every day in the recovery ward, Mount Sinai gave me a little order slip to fill out for dinner. Like checking off CHICKEN or FISH on a wedding RSVP. One day there was a burger on the menu, and it included an option for bacon. Fuck yeah. Bacon.

So I ticked the BACON box and spent the rest of my very, very boring day waiting for my baconburger to arrive. Then it came and WHAT THE FUCK, no bacon. I was crushed. I was already delirious from both the meds and the massive brain injury I’d just suffered, so I mentally compiled a list of suspects who might’ve denied me a proper baconburger. Was it the nurse? The cook? The SYSTEM? Why did these people want to deny me my precious bacon? Didn’t they know how empty my days were in that fucking bed? This was all I had to look forward to, and now it was gone. The plain burger was lukewarm and tasted like ashes in my mouth. I ate very angry that night. Then I told my wife about the incident (in my head it qualified as an incident) and she was like, “Oh that was me. You couldn’t be having bacon.” I still haven’t forgiven her.

On the plus side, that burger came with a little container of fruit punch. You know the kind: a wee plastic tub with a foil lid. It was the kind of fruit punch they pack into your lunch on a grade school field trip, and lemme tell you: it tasted fucking AWESOME. Really eased the sting of having my bacon cruelly wrested away from me.


Why is it socially unacceptable to pick your nose in public, whereas ear picking is tacitly condoned?

Are we talking about just picking your outer ear? Because your outer ear is merely a flap of skin that gets dry and itchy sometimes. Picking at that isn’t all that different from picking at dry skin elsewhere on your body. But if I see someone lubing up a pinky and getting DEEP into their ear? That’s another matter. I’d notice that. Your inner ear can get itchy as well (torturous), but if you dig in there openly, people will assume that you’re actively looking for something. Same with digging into your nose. You’re gonna pull something out of there, and it’s not gonna fun for everyone else to see.

But I rarely see people fingerblasting their own ear canals out in public. People know how unusual it looks, and they know that a mere finger won’t do an earjob anywhere near as effectively as a Q-tip can. So they can wait until they hit a bathroom to go spelunking. Nose-picking, by contrast, is much easier. You go in, you identify the booger, you work to corner it, and then you drag it out. A quick and deeply satisfying process, and super easy to do while out shopping for groceries. Man, do I love picking my nose. What was the question again?

Jacques (not Cousteau):

Has Trump ever been to a water park? Think about it, he would’ve been around for Action Park, and all the random Jersey Shore water parks. I have to think he’s been to one, and even put his feet in a wave pool. Maybe sprawled out in a lounge chair. At the very least he’s had to have entertained the idea of slapping his name on one.

Donald Trump’s germophobia is the only genuine thing about him, so there’s no way he’d ever go to a water park and share pathogens with all of the commoners. The very idea of it would revolt him. It’s like how Trump loves McDonald’s takeout but would never actually go INSIDE a McDonald’s. He likes basic shit, but doesn’t want to be around basic people.

I doubt the man can even swim (the internet has long suspected he can’t). In fact, I bet Trump regards swimming the same way he regards anything else he fears or is incapable of doing: that anyone who does it is a weakling and a loser. He’d definitely buy a water park, because the Trump empire is built on tacky, unregulated businesses. But you have better odds of seeing that man dunk a basketball than walking up a bunch of concrete stairs while clutching an inner tube.



Can anything with a UPC code be considered "vintage" or "antique"? My wife's mother gave her this old Premium Saltine Crackers tin, and she (my wife) said it was an antique. But I saw there was a bar code on the back and my immediate reaction was that nothing with a bar code can be considered antique.

I can’t agree. Barcodes first came into mass circulation back in 1974. You can’t discount every single consumer good made since then as somehow being too corporate to be cherished. Think of what you’d be throwing out with the bathwater: original vinyl albums, mint condition baseball card packs, old toys still in their boxes, your ticket to the 1990 Super Bowl, vintage jackets and other apparel … entire generations of potentially fascinating keepsakes. Most of it is dreck, but most of everything is dreck. There will always be things worth keeping around, and time has a way of turning even the chintziest shit into objects of fond nostalgia. I know because I still see people praising the Toronto Raptors’ old uniforms. Those uniforms were ugly back then and they’re ugly today. Get your head out of your ass.

It’s real easy to say that they don’t make ‘em like they used to, because you grow old enough to see many things age poorly, and because QR codes are weird and annoying. Then you see spot an unopened box of Cap’n Crunch from 1983 in your parents’ attic and here come the waterworks. So a lot of these complaints are as old as they are false. Frankly, I’m just grateful anytime I encounter a physical object anymore. Everything I consume now has gone virtual: news, music, films, TV shows, even concert tickets. I only experience these things through a screen, so I have no tangible artifact to remember them by outside of my phone, which is itself a boring object that deserves to be rendered obsolete. I don’t find a lot of antique value in any phone, modern TV, or any other black plastic box. And black plastic boxes is all we sell now. THAT is the bigger problem, and one worth going Full Metal Diaper over. Barcodes, less so.


I just watched John Wick for the first time. John ends up staying in a hotel with a rule of no hitman business while inside the hotel. There are also instances of these no kill zones in other movies as well. Do you think that these hotels, bars, clubs actually exist in the real world? Is there a thriving Hitman underworld ecosystem where hitmen can go grab a drink or sleep in a hotel with the understanding that they won’t be shot at? I want to say that there’s no way such a thriving hitman culture exists, but then again I’ve never even contracted a hitman so what do I know? 

That’s all pretend. I hate saying that. I WANT to live in a world where trained assassins walk among us in crisp suits and have their own secret luxury hideaways. Movies and TV have always taught me that the hitman economy is not only thriving, but also super fucking sweet. You know how many times I’ve imagined myself as Leon, The Professional? I’d take out the asset on time, every time. And I wouldn’t get weepy over some asshole kid, either. I’d kick ass.

But that is not the reality of the killing-for-hire market. If you want to hire an actual hitman, you’re not gonna find John Wick. You’re gonna find a dude fresh out of prison who’ll promise to kill your wife for $10,000 and then A) will fuck it all up, or B) is scamming you. That guy ALSO wishes he could decamp to The Continental for a good Manhattan and maybe a quick reload. He will not succeed in finding either. Crime is a mess and criminals, in general, are dumb. The most successful criminals working today do not resemble Danny Ocean but more a random dickhead billionaire who built his fortune by openly skirting the law and daring the government to come after him. For that latter brand of criminal, EVERY luxury hotel is The Continental. Meanwhile the rest of us have to do our own killing and stealing, like suckers. Not fair. And why can’t my car leave strategic oil slicks for cop cars to slip on, like in Spy Hunter?


Is there any chance in hell this Brady movie isn’t complete trash? My love of Sally Field makes a tiny bit of me hope it’s not.

I just read that the screenwriters behind Booksmart, one of my favorite movies from the past few years, wrote that movie! That gives 80 for Brady a chance of being good, but a much better chance of those screenwriters knowing a good paycheck when they see it. Also, Jane Fonda has creeped me out ever since she earnestly tried to hump Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report 16 years ago. I watched that segment the night it aired. It was weird as SHIT, and nothing on TV freaks me out, man. I’ve seen people killed on video and it wasn’t as uncomfortable as that segment was. Can’t ever look at Jane Fonda now without thinking of it.


The other day I was walking in my neighborhood and saw a guy that looked like Albie from White Lotus Season 2. I realized I don't know the actor who plays Albie is, and it got me thinking: how much should I know about any given show or movie I watch? Should I be looking up the actor's real names? Do I need to know the director, producer, writer of anything I watch? What level of knowledge do you have about the shows you watch?

I always wanna know the big stuff: the cast, the director (movies only, not TV), the writer, and the studio. Everything else is optional to me unless, like, the cinematography really catches my eye and I wanna know who did it. Then I check the credits and I’m like, “Of course it’s Roger Deakins. That was CLASSIC Deakins framing right there.”

You’re not obligated to know any of those particulars, although you risk showing your age if you don’t. I wanna know this shit not so that I can win bar trivia, but because it interests me both as a consumer and as a creative person. If I love a certain movie, maybe I wanna check out the rest of that director’s filmography. It’ll probably lead me to more good movies, and also to basic inspiration. If I know who made something, I can think more about HOW they made it, and then I can learn something from their technique. Always helps to know your influences.


I've had a history of struggling with alcohol that I've since addressed. The underlying diabetes and anxiety are still around. But without the alcohol, they are getting better. What I'm trying to figure out is how to let casual relations know that I have a new "diet" without getting into all the details, which I feel are private. My company has bought out entire hotel bars before, which I took advantage of. My coworkers see me as the guy that is always down for a third shot. I'm not that guy anymore, but I'm also not sure how to communicate that without being weird, or without divulging private info.

In my experience, telling people “I don’t drink anymore” usually does the job. As you could probably surmise, I myself can’t WAIT to tell everyone why I had to stop. But even if I kept a tighter lid on my private life, I bet that strategy would work. Because when someone tells you that they don’t drink anymore, what do you usually assume? That they had a problem with drinking and had to quit. You don’t need to ask anything beyond that, and most people don’t. You know why they don’t drink and you don’t wanna come off like a nosy prick. So start with that simple declaration and see where it gets you. If it fails, just lie and say you CAN’T drink because you’re on medication for a thyroid disorder. Works like magic.


Is there a sport you could win a championship in with a head coach who strictly works remotely? You could have on-field assistants, but the head coach would have to join all team meetings on Zoom and watch practices/games, and make adjustments through an iPad or something. I think it could be done in baseball for sure, right?

The pandemic gave us a good idea of how this would work in football, given that much of training camp and in-season meetings had to be held over Zoom, especially anytime a team had players or staff on the COVID list. Plus you’ve seen coordinators and other coaches handle their game day duties from the box, rather than down on the field. So in theory, and in theory only, maybe Andy Reid could coach an entire season from his living room while macking on a chicken finger sub.

The reality is that all humans process information differently when they’re face-to-face with another person rather than watching each other on a screen. This is especially true in sports, because a lot of that information is physical. If you’re a QB and your mechanics are off, I’m gonna have a much easier time fixing that while right alongside you, guiding you through your motions like a horny golf instructor standing behind a hot woman. That shit matters, and that’s why you can’t win a Super Bowl with a remote head coach.

The same goes for every other team sport. I know that a lot of baseball managers now act as errand boy for the head number-cruncher in the front office, but presence still accounts for a lot. I need my manager there to watch the game live and intuit if/when to pull a starter, when to pinch hit for this guy, when to pinch run for that guy, and when to argue with the umps. That last one is crucial. You can’t work the umps from home. I know because I’ve tried. They never hear me. You gotta be in the dugout, ready to storm outta there at a moment’s notice to get in the ump’s grill and tell him that his mother is a whore before you get sent back to the locker room. That’s how you get a tighter strike zone. This is known.

Oh, and it also helps to, like, know your players. There are a lotta games in a baseball season. Your players will notice if you’re not there for 162 of them. Without you around, they’d give each other the hot foot every five minutes. MASS CHAOS.

Email of the week!


I’m a French person with an American brother and sister-in-law, and the way they cook amazes me. Even the most complex recipes over here in France could fit on a stamp: my grandma’s Christmas bûche au chocolat recipe is less than half a page long and it implies rolling a biscuit on itself, for Christ’s sake. Whatever isn’t written you have to figure out yourself.

But whenever our folks come over to Europe and cook a meal for us, they treat that shit like it’s going to the moon. They have to have the exact ingredients, even though I know we won’t find cilantro in a small countryside supermarket in December (I can’t even translate whatever the fuck cilantro is in French). The recipe is written in more detail than a Russian novel and they have to follow each step precisely. They cook for hours and leave the kitchen like it’s been visited by a tsunami, and this will usually result in a soup.

The reason I’m asking this is because I read Chefector recipe for beef bourguignon a while back (which happens to be the specialty of my home region) and was amazed by the number of steps involved. I do a decent bourguignon with about a third of the ingredients and a tenth of the effort. It’s not rocket science. It’s meat cooked for hours in fat and red wine. So my question is: what the everlasting, puff pastry-laden and onion-glazed fuck is wrong with you people?

Hey man, we can't all be as gifted in the kitchen as your people, PIERRE. We need step-by-step instructions or else your dinner will end up more burned than Paris in 1940! DON’T FORGET THAT WE BAILED YOUR ASSES OUT IN THAT WAR, MON FRERE! I WAS THERE!

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