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Funbag

We Will Never Run Out Of War Movies

Frederic Lewis/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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 war movies, travel mugs, Michael Vick, big hosses, and more.

Your letters:

Rich:

Have all war movie themes already been covered in previous war movies? War brings out the [fill in the blank: best/worst; hero/coward; humanity/inhumanity; racism/brotherhood; sensitivity/callousness; ego/selflessness] in man. War is [scary/exhilarating; pointless/meaningful; historical/forgettable]. Is there any reason to ever see another new war movie?

Well yeah, because shit goes BOOM in war movies. Never a dull moment. Also, just because the theme of a war movie might already be familiar to you doesn’t mean the story itself won’t be compelling. Pretty much every movie you’ve ever seen comes from a lineage of story tropes everyone already knows: a quest, a love story, a rise and fall. A war movie can contain any of those tropes. It all depends on the war, the scope of the movie, and the CHARACTERS.

That last one is the important one. Yeah, you know what war is and what it does to people. But you watch, let’s say Apocalypse Now, to see what it’s done to Captain Willard, and to Colonel Kurtz, and Lt. Kilgore. That’s where the gold is. That’s why no two war movies need be alike, even if many of them are. When you watch a good one, you get a rare chance to see war through the eyes of a soldier, or a bystander, or a veteran, or a President, or a child, or Tom Hanks. Lotta different storytelling possibilities in there. There have been a LOT of different wars, and that’s just from the well of history. A war story can be any story. And if you were tired of stories by now, you wouldn’t still be watching any movies or reading any books or any of that shit. That appetite never goes away, unless you’re a really fucking boring person.

Also, it’s not always about what story is being told, but HOW it’s being told. Imagine Apocalypse Now, only Ron Howard directed it. That’s not the same movie. That’s a horrible one. Conversely, imagine the late Stanley Kubrick directing Pearl Harbor instead of Michael Bay, and with an entirely different cast. And screenwriter. And set designer. And everything else. Suddenly that movie isn’t such a waste of time. It’s interesting. Also, R. Lee Ermey would choke people in it.

Victor:

I am in awe of these Montana high school basketball team’s jerseys (the team is the Lincoln Lynx, for good measure). What say you? Horrendous? Transcendent? 

They’re gorgeous. If I played for the Lynx (I’d be the kid in the No. 2 jersey in that photo), I would cry out YOU JUST RODE THE LIGHTNING after every hard foul I dished out. The Lincoln Lynx are my new favorite basketball team and anyone who says anything bad about them will taste my fire.

Anthony:

I have watched or listened to every episode of PTI for the past 18 years. This has not always been easy to do. It was always my hope that Wilbon would retire and Le Batard would take over. I have debated breaking the streak but feel a strong sense of attachment to it. Eighteen years is a very long time to just stop something, right? How do I quit PTI?

You don’t have to quit it. Even if you’re tired of Wilbon’s and Tony’s horseshit, you can keep watching PTI if the ritual of it means more to you than the show itself does. I still use Twitter, so I know all about staying locked in a relationship with something you’ve grown apart from. Even now, with Trump gone, I still scroll through Twitter and routinely say to myself, “Why the fuck am I doing this?” Listening to Wilbon call Antoine Winfield Jr. a punk elicits similar feelings. But I used to watch PTI religiously too, so I understand how it becomes your de facto happy hour at the end of a work day. If you keep watching and it still grates on you, you can always post hate tweets about it. That’s how I watch ALL television now. SO HEALTHY!

You can also just quit the show cold turkey. I’m off sugar as I write this—been three whole days!—and I’m still not used to dinner ending with just … dinner. I have a sweet-tooth reflex that kicks in before I’ve taken the last bite of my calzone. But I’ve imposed sugar moratoriums on myself before. Once I get used to not eating it, the urge fades and I’m not so hung up on it anymore. Then I fall off the wagon and eat my weight in bread pudding two weeks later. Again, HEALTHY.

The greater point is that you can break your streak. You won’t go to jail. You won’t die. Whatever nagging compulsion you feel from skipping an episode of PTI will likely fade over time as you go longer without, or even if you fall off the wagon and tune back in to hear Tony gratuitously shoehorn a mention of Gary Williams into the show for no reason at all. You’ll be all right either way. Sometimes, once you break a nasty habit, you discover it was never all that important to begin with. Unless that habit was sex addiction.

Brian:

Will CTE have any measurable impact on the future of football? The conjecture was it would vastly thin out the talent pool. But will the threat of brain damage 40 years down the road offset, for a 14-year-old, the pursuit of high school glory and the potential of getting laid by a cheerleader?

For the 14-year-old, no. For the 14-year-old’s PARENTS, yes. There’s no fucking way my own mom would have let me play football if I had been born in 2006 instead of 1976. That’s why youth football participation has been declining for roughly a decade now.

But there’s already evidence that the decline may not ultimately matter. As the Times link above notes, football remains the most popular sport in America by leaps and bounds. So even if there’s a noticeable dip in youth football participation, there are still so many people playing it that the impact on the talent pool will turn out to be negligible. The NFL was the only major men’s pro sport in this country that did NOT have its season shortened due to the pandemic, and its lasting popularity is a big reason why. All the litigious Karens and Codys out there in the burbs are no match for the league’s determination to mint billions of dollars, nor America’s determination to give that money to it. It’s too big to fail.

Also, just because you don’t play youth football doesn’t mean you won’t play football later on. My son plays flag football. My nephew plays it. Tens of millions of kids play flag football, and some of them will eventually move onto the harder shit when they get older. The NFL is banking on it. That’s why you saw a PLAY 60 logo brandished across every cutout seat at the Super Bowl. They want kids playing any kind of football, because they know they can grab more than a few late bloomers out of the deal, and late bloomers catch up quick. Jason Pierre-Paul didn’t start playing football until his junior year of high school. If you’re gifted enough, all that youth football is a waste of time.

One more thing, and this goes right into the “columnist believes something he saw in real life is occurring on nationwide” bin. I think all of the rules that the NFL now enforces under the guise of keeping its players “safe” has changed how people new to the sport see it. Like, when I see a shitty roughing-the-passer call, I’m like any other boomer who screams THAT AIN’T FOOTBAW!!! at my TV. But I’ll watch a game with kids and they’ll be like, “Oh that’s an OBVIOUS foul.” The idea of it not being a foul to them is absurd. It’s not the same sport to them as it is to me.

So Roger Goodell was more than happy to eat shit from old fans while imposing all the new rules because, in the long run, he knew (I can’t believe I’m crediting this man with having foresight) his new vision for football would eventually become widely accepted. Football isn’t necessarily safer for this, but it LOOKS safer, which is all the NFL gives a fuck about.

So no, the sport’s not in any danger of vanishing anytime soon. Every Death Of Football post ever written (I’m sure I wrote some) has always been wishful thinking. It’s like me hoping Tom Brady retires.

Mat:

I have a sealed Stanley travel coffee mug. How often should I wash that sucker? I’ve always viewed coffee as a “neutral” liquid requiring a regular rinse but only occasional wash with soap (once a week or whenever I remember), but my wife says it needs more love. Am I poisoning myself? For context, I take my coffee with a little cream and too much sugar.

You’re not poisoning yourself. I’ve never seen any study that says old coffee bits contain radioactive waste. Your current washing schedule is fine, even with the cream & sugar factor adding a dash of microbe bait to the affair.

But that’s MY opinion, which is useless to you. If your wife says you gotta wash it more often, guess what fucko? You’re gonna wash it more often. I use the same water glass every day. A pint glass, because it makes me feel like a big man. If it were up to me, I would never wash it. It’s just water. Who gives a shit? Of course, after a mere day, I get so much assorted hand grease and slob over this glass that it looks like someone found it at an archaeological dig. My wife then puts the glass in the dishwasher without telling me, and then I walk around going HEY MAN WHERE’S MY GLASS? I BET THAT WOMAN DONE HID IT!

Also, I have a Yeti thermos for ice water that I keep in the fridge, because I’m a white person. I drink from this thermos while eating, which means that little cracker bits end up getting stuck under and around the lip of the lid. That one I wash of my own accord. I know where my mouth has been.

Vlad:

If your Vikings replaced Kurt Cousins with Brady, would you begrudgingly approve, or actively wish the team ill?

I already cheered for Brett Favre when he came to my team, so I know the answer. My team is my team, no matter what kind of dipshits, kooks, and war criminals are littering the roster and coaching staff. I sold my soul to the Vikings a long time ago. The payoff has been underwhelming.

Aaron:

If someone were to win both the Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots, would they become the most famous person ever?

They sure wouldn’t. Hollywood Henderson, who was already a famous person, won the lottery TWICE. He is not the most famous man alive because of it. You may not have even known he won the lottery twice until I told you just now. How many lottery winners can you remember off the top of your head? I remember NONE of them. I’ve read gigantic profiles of people who had their lives destroyed by their lottery winnings. I can’t remember the names of those people either. I remember one of them was from West Virginia, because of course he was. Hang on…

(…Googling…)

Jack Whittaker. There you go. Life was not all tea and crumpets for Jack after that windfall.

HALFTIME!

Will:

Let’s say you suddenly step through a time portal and emerge in America in late 1941. Ignoring all logistical issues (age, gender, lack of paperwork, etc.) would you enlist to go fight the Nazis? Whatever you learned about in history class will still occur in exactly the same way.

Well if that’s the case, then hell no. If America is still gonna beat Germany and Japan without my help, why would I enlist and get my head blown off? I’m fucking off to the beach, man. I’m telling everyone else around me, “It’s all good. We’re gonna win. Just you watch. That Hitler guy is gonna off himself in his own bunker.” They’ll all freak out and tell me I’m insane, and I’ll maintain a serene confidence that gets fully validated on V-E Day. Then some fetching gal named Patty Sue will fall hard for me and my laconic charms. I’ll be a pastier, slightly less lovable McConaughey in 1941.

The only way I’d consider enlisting is if you tell me that the fate of the war lies ENTIRELY on whether or not I do. Like if there’s some butterfly effect where I land at Normandy and shoot the man who would have otherwise inspired his platoonmate to shoot FDR, which would have otherwise helped Germany sabotage The Manhattan Project and nuke Chicago to win the war, then I’m sticking around the recruiting office for another 10 minutes. And THEN I’m fucking off to the beach.

Ross:

Bullshit or not-bullshit: American sports broadcasters/writers who use ridiculous plural terms when referring to soccer teams like they are British or something. Ex: (team) HAVE (done something) versus (team) HAS (done something). It’s a team, a unit, ONE. What say you?

I do it the American way. I know it’s grammatically correct to say, “Manchester United are struggling,” but my brain won’t let me do that. It’s like how I’ll never say “It’s he,” which is correct, instead of “It’s him,” which sounds INFINITELY better. Every team in every sport is plural to me, EVEN if their (not its!) nickname isn’t. The Heat are Luis’ favorite NBA team. The Stanford Cardinal are never gonna win the national title. The Lakers are beginning to annoy me again. I only have two exceptions to this:

1. The Washington Football Team, which still disgusts me. Something about having Team in there makes it more singular of an entity in my mind.

2. Anytime I refer to a team strictly by its home city, without the nickname. The Colts have a good coach. Indy has no quarterback.

I’m sure ESPN and other places have style guides mandating how broadcasters should refer to each of these teams. We also have a style guide here at Defector, which I have lightly skimmed. [Ed. note: Drew first asked for the link to the style guide the morning he wrote this.] There’s no mandate for how I’m supposed to refer to Sheffield United, which means I can do what I want, not what BIG GRAMMAR tells me to.

JJ:

How do you think 2004-era Michael Vick would be in today’s NFL? Given the crop of great young QBs (Mahomes, Jackson, etc.), would Vick still be the phenom he was or just another guy? 

He’d be as disappointing now as he was back in 2004. Reminder: 2004 Vick was still staging dogfights and shit. That’s pre-jail Vick. Ookie-era Vick. That Michael Vick didn’t have his shit together. You can see what that Vick COULD have been if you skip to 2010 and watch a reformed Vick playing for Andy Reid. That Vick had the professionalism part down, but by then he’d already accumulated so much mileage that he was never able to play a full 16 games for Philly. I have zero doubt that Vick’s success with Reid is part of the reason why Reid knew he could turn Patrick Mahomes into a legend, because Mahomes had the talent AND the professionalism all in place by the time he entered the draft. Michael Vick could have had that kind of career, but the circumstances just didn’t allow for it. Also, the dogfighting shit.

It makes me sad because Vick was like Bo Jackson. No one who saw that man play football will ever forget it. He was so talented that even his fellow players were like HOLY FUCK THAT GUY IS GOOD. Vick’s draft class currently has two Hall of Famers in it: LaDainian Tomlinson and Steve Hutchinson. Neither of those players are as memorable as Vick was. I know that sounds unfair to LDT, but Vick was just that obscene of a talent. Like if Randy Moss could throw a ball. There should be a wing of the Hall dedicated to Vick and to Bo and other players who didn’t last long enough to earn a bust but were legends anyway.

By the way, whenever they have Michael Vick on the pre-game shows now, he looks IMPECCABLE. Flawlessly dressed every time he’s on camera. Make Tony Gonzalez look like a hobo.

Matthew:

How did dick pics work before the internet?

They probably didn’t. I don’t wanna underestimate the determination of horny men from any period in history, but you gotta be mind-bogglingly horny in 1981 to snap a photo of your cock with a Polaroid and then put that dick in the mailbox.

In 2021, by contrast, it’s far, far easier to snap a portrait of your hog and send it out into the world. It’s easier to snap photos of anything now. You don’t need film. You don’t need a separate camera. You don’t need to reconsider a photo because Larry at the Fotomat will get to see it as he’s developing them. All of those barriers are gone, which means more people are taking more photos of things that they never would have taken photos of before. Penises are but ONE of those things. Humanity is in its relative infancy in terms of its access to instant recording and publishing equipment, and it shows.

Lee:

Why the hell are AAA batteries still a thing? It has to be BIG BATTERY propping it up to make a few more bucks, right? I posit that if an electronic device is large enough to accept a AAA battery or two, it’s most likely large enough (or can be easily designed to be large enough) to accept the superior AA battery. And if not, they should be using those button cell batteries.

No no no, FUCK button batteries. Those come in 900 different sizes and all cost $15 a pair. I won’t stand for them. If I have to deal with alternatives to the AA battery, the AAA is about as benign as they come. I can deal. I’m pretty sure I’ve ranked battery sizes before, but here they are in case I haven’t:

  1. AA
  2. AAA
  3. AAAA (they exist; I have never used them)
  4. Two-dollar bill battery sizes like LR1
  5. C
  6. D
  7. 9-Volt
  8. Button

When you have kids, you become, against your will, a battery size connoisseur. If a toy needs AA or AAA batteries, it’s an acceptable toy. We will ALWAYS be out of the required battery size, but A) There will be some at the store, so no biggie, and B) If a toy doesn’t have batteries, then I don’t have to listen to it make a bunch of fucking noise, and therefore I directly benefit from the problem. When a toy requires any other battery, especially a D battery (looking at you, Nerf guns), then I have to make a pilgrimage to the family battery box and rummage around for a slapdash mix of dusty Evereadys and private label batteries of varying leftover power capacity that, when combined in a single device, are bound to start a fire. Makes me yearn for the simplicity of the idiot AAA.

Chuck:

Is there a reason why everybody with the last name “Koch” pronounces it differently? Just off the top of my head, there’s the COKE brothers, Ravens punter Sam COOK, and former NYC mayor Ed KOTCH. It’s too much to remember!

I’d share in your frustration but people have been mispronouncing my last name (it’s muh-gary) since I was born. I think all of these Kochs descended from various peoples who came to America pronouncing Koch one way, settled into different territories, and then everyone in their new towns got it wrong. Then they just gave up and let the new bastardization stand. That’s how pretty much everything in America works. Americans hold up an Old El Paso kit to Mexico and are like ACTUALLY THESE ARE TACOS NOW. AND WE PRONOUCE THEM TAYCOS.

Jonah:

How many times do you think Trump had sex with Melania over the four years while in office? I’m talking full penetration. My over/under is 50, around once a month. 

LOL gimme the under so I can bet the deed to my house on it.

MW:

At the 23:55 mark of Jan 13 ep of The Ryen Russillo Podcast, Russillo, Simmons and Jackie MacMullan are talking about Giannis not demanding the ball at the end of Bucks games. “Giannis isn’t even on your screen,” JackieMac says. “But I don’t have one of those huge TVs that you all have.” There is zero sarcasm in her voice, btw. My question is this, does JackieMac think a bigger TV means there’s more stuff on the screen? 

Maybe she has a standard definition television, in which case she’d be correct. And honestly, I don’t put it past Jackie MacMullan—who believes NBA players are property and often shares TV appearances with a man who doesn’t know what a fucking Twix bar is—to be 50 years behind the rest of America in upgrading to an HDTV. Despite the fact that her job is to watch sports for a living.

That’s why I’d like to disregard the advice I gave to Anthony about watching PTI up above and order all of you to stop ingesting boomer sports takes. No more Jackie MacMullan. No more Bob Ryan. No more Kornheiser. No more Wilbon. No more Bill Polian. Shit, you gotta stop reading ME too, because all I do now is write about napping. Purge these people from your life, before they drag you into the grave with them.

James:

If dogs were able to talk but were only as intelligent as they currently are, how long would it be before we got tired of talking to them?

Five minutes. Carter would be out on the street if he ever gained the power to talk. I don’t need to hear him say “GIMME CHEESE” 600 times in a row.

Mike:

Are spice jar shaker caps bullshit? When’s the last time you actually used the shaker cap with cumin, coriander, paprika, etc? Most times I need some seasoning, I’m either measuring it or I want a pinch. Who uses the shaker? They’re bullshit, right?

I keep them on, and now I feel like a tool of BIG SPICE. If I need a lot of cinnamon, I pry the cap off with my fingernail to dig the measuring spoon in. And then what do I do? I put that stupid cap right back on, where it’s destined to stop up any flow of spice thereafter. I need to re-think how I do this.

Email of the week!

Charles:

For 25 years, my nickname has been BIG HOSS, despite being neither big nor a hoss. Here’s why.

In college, before a night of parties, we went to that most Texas of institutions, Whataburger, to lay down a layer of meat insulation before drinking. They were offering a promotional BIG HOSS cup for an extra dollar, so we all bought one and brought it with us to the parties. That night, those cups saw copious refills of beer, blue punch, etc.

I started to feel very sick, and so I snuck out of the blue punch party and hauled ass back to my dorm room. By that point I was fallover drunk. As I threw up, I could barely keep myself up to aim. Midway through this, that Texas beef decided it was time to depart, and wanted to take the traditional route. Still throwing up, and unable really to stand, I decided to get my jeans down and proceeded to take the shit of my life into that BIG HOSS cup. Thank goodness that cup was the size of Hafthor Bjornsson’s thigh.

That’s when I realized I was in a dorm room, but not my dorm room. I managed to scramble out of the room without leaving evidence, and crawled back to my room, where I went to bed and slept until my roommates woke me to ask the very important question, “Um, why is there a shit filled BIG HOSS cup on our coffee table?”

I don’t know why I brought it with me, but they never let me forget it. Whataburger still beats In’N’Out though.

I have never eaten at Whataburger. And now, despite your tale, I’m interested.