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We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Plates

Meat with bread and cheese on chopping board
Archive Photos 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 the NFL draft, salad dressing, evil shapes, bad concerts, adventure cats, and more.

Your letters:


I just made myself a classic ham sandwich on sourdough bread with cheese, lettuce, pickles, tomato, a healthy amount of Miracle Whip, and I both prepared and ate it ON the cutting board! Do you ever do this? I highly recommend it. Assemble your bread and meats on one side and slice any toppings (like the aforementioned pickle and tomato) on the other, pile them up and enjoy! You only have to wash the knife and cutting board, and you get to feel like you're running your own deli!

Rob, I have. Not only have I eaten meals off of a cutting board, I’ve served meals to other people on them. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve acquired my mom’s entertainment gene. So when we have company over—or fuck it, if it’s just a nice family dinner—I treat service like I’m presiding over the repast set out for the Ghost of Christmas Present. I grill a steak and then leave it right on the cutting board, where it serves as a centerpiece while we sip on cocktails and nosh on peanuts. Then I carve the steak in front of everyone and invite them to grab a plate and dig in. My mom will also serve guests their food personally from the spread, which always irritated me because I wanted to pick my own pieces of steak (the biggest ones). And yet, what have I caught myself doing in more semi-formal moments? That’s right, I stand by the fucking cutting board and ask everyone, “Can I give you some steak?” When my wife caught me doing this, I blushed so hard that I looked like Pat McAfee.

The point here is that food is always at its most appetizing in situ. A piece of salami on cheese off a cutting board (there’s a reason every New American restaurant serves a charcuterie board). A stolen bite from a Thanksgiving turkey when it’s still sitting in the roasting pan. A cookie, fresh out of the oven, swiped directly off of the baking sheet. Plates are a net good, but also a middleman. I want to see the food in its most natural environment. This is why I eat eggs by sucking them directly out of a chicken’s asshole.


We are just three days away from the Vikings pulling out a gun and blowing a JJ McCarthy shaped hole in their own foot. What will you do to celebrate?

I’m detecting a bit of snarkiness in your question there, Brian. Yes, I spent the run-up to this draft dead certain that the Vikings would muscle their way into the top three and snatch Drake Maye, and I waved off all the haters—fellow Vikings fans included—who were like LOL YOU’RE DRAFTING J.J. MCCARTHY LOL, like the dipshit hacks that they are. I just spent six years with the most widely ridiculed QB in football. That wasn’t happening again. I refused to consider it.

And yes, it happened. We did indeed draft J.J. McCarthy, and guess what, BRIAN? I’m fired the fuck up. I thought the price for McCarthy would be embarrassing. It wasn’t. We got him without having to sacrifice any significant draft assets, and then we got Dallas Turner to boot. When I told you I wouldn’t break stride if things didn’t shake out for the Vikings the way I said it would, I meant it. Everyone on TwiXter loves to goof on McCarthy, but the only people who hang out on that site anymore are freaks and losers. Over in the REAL WORLD, pretty much every Vikings fan is overjoyed, and the experts all agree (I don’t have to link anything when the straw man I use has a smile on its face) that GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah played his cards just right in the first round.

Now, we won’t have a Day 2 pick for another six years, but whatever. We got a kick-ass pass rusher to replace Danielle Hunter. And to replace Kirk Cousins, we got a dude who can run his ass off, throw the ball a mile, and is barely drinking age. The state of Michigan and blinding whiteness are all these two men have in common. Kirk has never had swagger and never will. McCarthy has so much swagger, he can lend some to his fucking dog and still have plenty left over. True, no one on Earth would look more at home wearing a Duke basketball jersey, but J.J. is all mine now. AND ALL HE DOES IS WIN. Thus, I love him.

And I love the Vikings. This team now has a vision, and the resources in place to execute it with extreme prejudice. I remain quietly sensitive to haters, but another part of me is, like a proper fan, beginning to deem all of them stupid and worthless. So get your beat-ass jokes off now, America. Before my team rips your fucking balls off.

Now for the other side of that coin…


Everyone bagging on the Falcons for drafting Michael Penix right after signing Kirk Cousins is thinking too inside the box. I've been dreaming of a dual-QB system for years now and they're clearly the team who can actually make it work. Imagine a shotgun formation with a traditional pocket passer like Cousins, and a dynamic dual-threat like Penix standing side by side, and no one other than the offense knowing to whom the snap is going. Defenses will be paralyzed by indecision, not knowing whether to drop their corners into coverage, or bring them up to the line in preparation for a potential sweep or rollout and scramble. This shit would absolutely rule and if you know of any daring offensive minds looking to shake up the NFL landscape, please feel free to send them my contact info, thanks.

The snag in your masterplan is that Michael Penix isn’t a dual-threat QB. He’s got fantastic phone booth mobility, but no one’s gonna confuse him for Lamar Jackson anytime soon. The man is built to stand there in the pocket and launch missiles 60 yards downfield. Like Kirk. But again, with actual swagger.

But even if Penix were a fantastic running threat, no coach is gonna play two QBs simultaneously. You and I love to dream up insane playcalls and schemes in our off time, but I promise you that coaches do it even more often. The double QB thing has been considered, and even used for a spell by some enterprising high school or college coach. But in the NFL, it would have zero chance of working for all sorts of boring, NFL-y reasons. When you have two QBs with differing skill sets, the best you can hope for is a Taysom Hill situation, and only Sean Payton enjoys that kind of cutesy bullshit. One quarterback per quarterback, please.

Now, about the Falcons. There’s no defending them. I know that Dan Orlovsky did his best to work up a “Actually I love this pick!” take, but that’s only because the ESPN content machine demands that at least one in-house pundit fall on a grenade for any given story. Giving Kirk Cousins a shitload of money is a mistake on its own. Trust me, I would know. But drafting his successor immediately after giving Kirk that money is a sure sign that you, as team, don’t know what the fuck you’re doing. That’s not a comforting thought, given that the Falcons just hired a new head coach. This was supposed to be a time for unbridled optimism, but GM Terry Fontenot just bridled the shit out of it.

I feel no schadenfreude right now. I feel bad that another fanbase has to endure the whole Kirk experience, even if it’s now microwave-safe. I feel bad for Penix, because he deserved to go to a cooler team. I even feel kinda bad for Kirk, because the whole reason he went to Atlanta was because they gave him the kind of money that screams WE WILL NEVER BENCH YOU, and then set up things so that he’ll be benched in Week 11. But I feel incredibly grateful, almost to a Christian extent, that none of this is happening to MY team. My team has a plan. The Falcons have a clogged toilet and no plunger available within a 400-mile radius.


"Make America Great Again" is nine years old, 35 years old if you count that it was ripped off from Reagan's "Let's Make America Great Again." Does its use just serve to remind people of Trump’s skill with one-liners, or does seeing it everywhere simply cheapen it? Is it something that should be retired for good, or used even more?

It’s just part of the lexicon now. You’re never gonna kill it, and it’s never gonna have significant meaning due to its present overuse. This is actually a greater problem with modern culture where both famous people and famous lines/jokes never have to go out of circulation. They just stick around forever (myself included), long after everyone’s grown sick of them. Just think: someone out there, right now, is using the Crying Jordan meme and having a laugh about it. I promise you it’s true. If famous things can never die, that makes it that much harder for new things to take their place. Almost feels like a metaphor for something.

Anyway, Donald Trump is a sloppy loser and so are his fans.


What do you think grad school classes are like for D1 college football players? As a former grad student, I can't imagine playing a sport on top of all the studying. 

The serious ones make the time, and they have the young-person energy to get it all done. I have no clue how, but that’s another American cliché now, isn’t it? Everyone who lives here has to be in awe at the productivity of everyone else. I don’t know how he/she does it!, you cry anytime you encounter someone who is both a parent AND a middle school teacher. They can’t possibly have enough time to do both of those things. They’ll be dead by age 40 from the stress. They must be hooked on Adderall to make it all work. Meanwhile, the entire history of mankind is one of people doing the shit they have to do, whether out of self-motivation or because they’ve got the ax hanging over them. So don’t be too shocked when you encounter an overachiever, because there’s a shitload of them out there. They’re normal. You want a REAL overachiever, read up on your Shackleton.

I do not consider myself an overachiever in any way. I have achieved the exact right amount. I never went to grad school, and it remains the wisest decision I’ve ever made. I just finished college and you expect me to continue going to school? And to pay six figures for it? Ich don’t think so. Your 20s are for partying, not for learning how to write a fucking amicus brief. Never forget that. I didn’t.


My boyfriend made a salad dressing. To sample it, I took a Triscuit and dipped it in the dressing. It tasted delicious, but it got me thinking: what is the key distinction between dip and dressing? Is it about intended use, or results? When I dipped the Triscuit in the dressing, did it suddenly become a dip? Or was it simply a dressing I was dipping into?

Every salad dressing can be a dip, but not every dip can be a salad dressing. A great many homemakers in the Midwest will try their hardest to disprove this, but don’t fall for it. Side note: remind me to dip more things in Caesar dressing, Triscuits included.



My daughter graduates this May and her chosen grad trip is the UK. Current plans include London, Cardiff, and Edinburgh, with some other open days for last minute options. So what should we make sure is on the list? What should we skip? What tips do you have as a now expert anglophile?

I’m only an “expert” on the U.K. in my diseased American mind. While I’ve been to London more than once, it’s a city so large that you could live there your whole life and not be familiar with every part of it. Here now are the only other places I’ve been in Britain outside of London:

  • Oxford. I wanted to bring my wife and kids to Oxford when we went to England a month ago, but I realized that the only thing I wanted to do there was eat at places where I used to eat. Not much of a thrill for them. Still a pretty cool town to visit, though.
  • The Cotswolds. The Shire of England, featuring adorable cottages nestled into the lush countryside. The kind of place your mom drags you to because she wants to gawk at all of the real estate porn.
  • Henley. My brother rowed crew and got an invite to the annual Henley regatta, which is very fancy and drunk.
  • Stratford-Upon-Avon. Went to Shakespeare’s “house,” which has been so thoroughly remodeled that I may as well have been walking around a Courtyard Inn lobby. But they also stage live Shakespeare plays here, and the one I saw was predictably awesome.
  • Stonehenge. Boring as shit. I think they built it 50 years ago as a tourist attraction and just told everyone it was erected by the druids before the birth of the sun. Avoid.
  • Birmingham. Went here to play an American football game with my Oxford rec team. It’s a shithole.

That’s the list. I’ve never seen the white cliffs of Dover. I’ve never golfed links. And I’ve never gone to Scotland, or Ireland, or Wales. I know as much about England as J.J. McCarthy does. The good news, Jimmy, is that you don’t need my advice at all. Just fly there, get lost, and then walk into the jolliest pub you can find. You and your kid will have a good time.


I'm about to move to Durham, NC, and figure it's a pretty good place to be a sports fan with three big ACC programs (fuck Duke), an AAA team, and the Hurricanes all within roughly 20 minutes. Also, the Panthers are close enough for me to get there if a good team is coming to town, and far enough away where I can ignore them without risking social isolation. In your opinion, where's the best place to live in America if you like live sports?

I can’t believe I’m about to hand it to Philly, but there’s a city where all of the pro teams play not far from downtown, plus you have 500 notable college basketball schools all within spitting distance. That’s not a bad set-up as far as rooting interests go. HOWEVER … that still means you have to live in Philly, which is a fucking downer.

That’s why my actual answer here is San Diego. The Padres have never won dick, but their ballpark is right in the middle of the city, and you get to be in San Diego. That beats living in Philadelphia. Second place is any nice college town.


What was the most disappointing concert you’ve ever been to? I don’t mean one someone dragged you to against your will but one you were hyped for but severely let down once you got there? Mine was Weezer, who I never got to see in the nineties. Rivers Cuomo came out and said “hello” (with zero audience interaction after that), played for 35 minutes, and left. It was clear he didn’t give a shit about playing that night, and adult me is still salty about it.

What a coincidence, I was also mildly let down by a Weezer concert. But this was a set they played at an Andrew Yang rally in 2019, so it’s not like I was expecting their best effort. But Weezer showed up, in the freezing rain, and appeared pleased to be there (only in the moment; everyone who once loved Andrew Yang has cooled on him in the intervening years). My only gripe is that it was an acoustic set. Ask anyone who grew up during the MTV Unplugged years. Nirvana aside, acoustic sets are horseshit.

Otherwise, the only time I was let down by a show was QOTSA at the Garden in 2017. I’d seen them a few years prior in Brooklyn in support of Like Clockwork, and it was one of the best shows I’d ever witnessed. This one, in support of the band’s worst album, Villains, was missing that vital sense of awe you should have at any arena show. The stage production was boring, Josh Homme wasn’t on his game (this was the same tour where he was seen kicking a photographer in the face), and they didn’t play “How to Handle a Rope.” Disappointing. But it wasn’t Altamont or anything. And Andrew Yang didn’t give a stump speech after it was over.

Also, I once saw Fountains of Wayne play a free concert on the National Mall and lead singer Chris Collingwood definitely looked like he wanted to be elsewhere. He still did his job though, because that’s what pros do. Pretty incredible trio of stories I told you just now. I bet you wish you’d been right there alongside me for all of those shows.


My city (Portland) has a semi-large population of adventure cats. Adventure cats are generally cats that venture out in the wild with their brave owners in some sort of harness. Some adventure cats make it out in a backpack with a clear plastic dome that makes you think of Sputnik. I’ve randomly encountered them in my local park with my sweet dog (RIP) who wasn’t ready to go on a killing spree at the moment but could have. Wondering if adventure cats have made it out to places that don’t have an abnormal amount of mid 90s right-side driver, imported Toyota vans that clearly have seen better days.

There’s a lot of information in here that I need to sit down with. First of all, I didn’t know that people in Portland drove shitty used British cars. Are they even street legal? They probably shouldn’t be. I also didn’t know that “adventure cats” existed. Sounds like an old show on Noggin. But you’re telling me that no, these are actual real-life housecats who go on adventures (can’t be willingly) with their earthy-crunchy owners. I have seen no such cats in my area. It could be that the East Coast hasn’t caught onto the idea yet. Or, and this is more likely, they are here and I simply didn’t notice.

Because I don’t give a shit about cats.

I am Team Dog. I love my dog to an unreasonable degree, and I cry out DOG! anytime I see another dog out in public. Cats, on the other hand, do nothing for me. That’s dangerous to say round these parts—I may even be barred from attending all local graduation ceremonies for saying it—but it’s true. I don’t care about your fucking cat. I don’t care about cat memes. I mute cat oversharers on social media. I didn’t even think Keyboard Cat was all that funny. And like dog people, cat people can’t be reasoned with. My daughter asks, “Can we have a cat?” every day, and my wife and I politely explain to her that we can’t, because my wife is deathly allergic to cats (as are my mom, dad, and like seven other family members). Does she give a fuck? Not in the slightest. All cat owners are cat allergy truthers, in service of a pet that probably doesn’t even like them. So if I ever see some peppy, Michelob Ultra ad–ass gal out there running a 10K with some poor tabby in a space helmet strapped to her back, I either won’t register it or I’ll say, “That’s fucking stupid.”

Portland is still a fun town, though.


What's the evilest shape? I've got triangles. Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Triangle Trade. The Nazis used triangles to identify prisoner categories in concentration camps. Lotta bad vibes around triangles. I'll admit pentagons are competitive on pure body count, though.

Don’t forget that arrowheads are triangular. Those can do some damage. And while the pyramids in Giza are cool, you know who built them? That’s right: SLAVES. That’s awful! Thus, I have no choice but to cancel the pyramids. A sad day for Egypt, and for humanity as a whole.

Personally, I’ll go with the circle as the most evil shape. Think about it. When the Illuminati get together to plan all of the wars, what shape table do they sit at? When a sniper trains his scope on a baby, what shape do his crosshairs intersect? What shape is the border of a pentagram? And when a pro wrestler is maimed in the ring, what do they call that ring? That’s right: a squared CIRCLE. Circle of life, you say? I say circle of CRUELTY.


A coworker recently emailed me a question and, by copying their supervisor, implied that the matter was serious enough to warrant upper management involvement. The thing is, this coworker emailed me the same question three weeks ago and I ANSWERED IT via email on the same day. So should I pretend like it's no biggie and respond to the question as if it's new to me, or should I forward the original message, keeping the supervisor on copy, and begin an email with the really dickish phrase, "As previously communicated..." 

Split the baby. Reply to the coworker’s email, with your boss still CC’ed, and chirpily tell them, “No problem! It’s still the same as when I replied to you on [date they first asked the question]! [repeat the answer]! Let me know if you need anything else!” All of those exclamation points make you sound cheery and helpful, while also selling your coworker out to the boss. A flawless bit of passive aggression. I know, because I’ve been on the receiving end of it. Watch your coworker apologize to you but leave the boss off the CC. Every office worker is secretly a coward.

Email of the week!


I've been going to a new barber, he runs his own business and is the only person cutting hair there. Friday was the fourth time I've had him cut my hair. While in the chair, I noticed that the price of a haircut had increased from $30 to $35. My standard practice was to bring two twenties and give him a ten dollar tip. Now that the price has increased, I'm left in quite the position: do I increase the tip, even though all the money is still all going to him? It's a lot harder to have an extra five around if you want to keep the "tip" at a similar level. For what it's worth, there has never been any discussion around the tip: I hand him the cash, (I don't say “keep the change” or whatever) and he says thank you. No mention was made of the increased rate when I booked the appointment, or during the haircut.

I’ve been in the same spot, where I’d like to leave a cash tip but only have 20s that I can’t break in the moment. This is why I pay with my phone everywhere now. You get a lot of people who love to whine about tipping prompts on checkout iPads, but they’re as useful to me as they are whoever I’m tipping. Cash is a pain in the ass.

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