Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And preorder Drew’s next book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we’re talking about jelly, reincarnation, dad TV, minivans, Tom Thibodeau, and more.
Occasionally in a novel or story I’ve read the phrase, “(character) had soiled themselves.” Multiple possibilities there, right? 1) They pissed their pants/dress 2) They shit their pants/dress 3) They shit AND pissed their pants/dress 4) They puked all over themselves. When you see the phrase “He/she/they had soiled themselves” which of those options do you think of?
There are no options, Ben. When you soil yourself, you shit your pants. When you piss yourself, you say you’ve pissed yourself. When you puke all over yourself, you say you’ve puked all over yourself. Neither of those latter two scenarios represents a proper soiling of the britches. If I told you I soiled myself after a car accident, do you REALLY think I meant that I took a little tinkle down there? When a police report notes that a fleeing suspect soiled his undergarments, do you REALLY think he just unzipped his fly and unloaded his hangover into his pants? No. You think poop. You should always think poop.
Because what is soil? It’s dark. It’s dirty. It’s soft. It redeems itself only after it has participated in the arduous process of helping something grow. You know what else shares those characteristics, Ben? YOUR MONSTER DUMPS. You’re in big leagues of clothing defilement when you shit all over yourself. If my son came to me and told me, “I soiled myself,” then displayed a little piss stain on his undies, I would sentence him to three weeks’ worth of castor oil dinners for his crimes against proper usage. THEN he’d discover what a legit soiling looks like.
I’m sorry for such a curt answer, Ben. I just take defecation very seriously. This is a science website.
Some friends and I were trying to figure out exactly that Tom Thibodeau looks like. And I think we’ve finally worked it out: A man screaming at a 17yo server because he “specifically said UN-sweet tea” and also had to wait a little too long for his bread sticks at Olive Garden. There’s no actual question here, but I figured this was the best place to come for any possible details we’ve missed.
My friend, I do believe that’s an observation for Friend Of The Blog Dan Le Batard, who cornered the “this guy look like” market the same way we cornered the “remembering people” market. No one else is allowed to do either of those things. That’s hard law.
But if Defector Media purchased Meadowlark Media and all its standing trademark applications, I could freely tell you that Tom Thibodeau looks like a shitty public defender. I can already see myself being arrested, getting assigned Thibs as my council, and trusting him for a solid two weeks before I realize that he doesn’t know what the fuck he’s doing. I still fall for bureaucrats of that ilk, and quite often. It’s not fun.
Honestly I don’t know if this is a Funbag question but I need to know why you chose an Odyssey over the Sienna. I’m 43, have two sons ages four and two and am counting down the days when I sell my 20+ year old Camry and achieve my destiny of joining the Van Life Movement. Answering this question basically guarantees that I get another year of Defector and I would probably even buy some swag to wear in my van.
Pony up for that swag then, Brad, because I’m about to answer your shit thoroughly. First of all, if you have two kids, you don’t need a minivan. We drove a CRV when we had only two kids and it did the job. It was when my wife got pregnant a third time that we were like OH FUCK WE NEED A VAN. With three kids, you only have a couple of options if you want enough space in the back to make sure the kids don’t murder each other: a minivan, or a Karen car like a Suburban, Yukon, or Tahoe. We test drove a Tahoe last month, along with a Toyota Sequoia. Both of these cars cost over $70,000 and they fucking SUCKED. The bus I took to school when I was nine had a smoother ride than those two monstrosities. Americans have awful taste in cars.
I digress. You can afford a much more compact, affordable SUV if you’d prefer that over a minivan. But if you have restless sperm and plan to expand the family head count, then you can get a van without shame. We got a brand new Odyssey because it was significantly cheaper than the new Sienna, plus the Sienna had a super high-up bridge console in the front row that my wife despised. The Sienna BEFORE the latest redesign (we owned a 2011 Sienna before trading it in) doesn’t have that console, so you can buy a used one of those if you want. That way you’ll save money and you won’t hesitate to treat your new old van like shit.
The other thing I learned while car shopping this spring is that trim level is everything. I always thought the base model of a car was the same car as the fancier trim, only without leather seats etc. I was wrong. They’re totally fucking different. The base models ride worse. They operate worse. They only common trait they share with the Executive Class model is the silhouette. Otherwise, it’s the difference between staying at a Travelodge and staying at an actual hotel. My new Odyssey has a bidet in both the driver AND passenger side seats, and I can never go back now. It’s night and day from the base model that peasants drive to and fro.
You and four of your friends are going to get beer in your mid-20s. The drive is around 10-15 minutes away. Which of these two options is more important: sitting shotgun or NOT sitting in the middle seat?
The latter. I never got to ride shotgun in college because some asshole would always call “SHOTGUN!” before the quarter barrel was even kicked. But so long as I had window access, I was all good. I could stare at the side of the road. I could also roll the window down to barf! You can’t beat that. No one wants the bitch seat, unless they’re riding in a luxurious Honda Odyssey.
I’m running for local office (Town Council in my typical NJ suburb). The main reason I’m doing it is because I honestly want to make my town better and I think I have good ideas on how to make it happen. But if I’m being totally honest there is a not insignificant part of me that is doing it out of pure spite. Meaning, if I am lucky enough to get elected than I have license to simply go off on people in my town who suck (think lots of NIMBY and low-key racists/homophobes) and do so in an official capacity. Also, I can immediately claim moral superiority over keyboard warriors who only like to post on town FB pages by being able to say, “Well, instead of just whining and complaining why don’t you step up and run for something like I did.” Part of me feels bad for thinking this way, but the other part is having too much fun to care. So my question is, am I a bad person?
No but you’re setting yourself up to become one. There is already a coterie of politicians and candidates whose only stated goal, whose only JOY, comes from triggering the liberals. Philip Bump of the Washington Post dubbed these people “zero-issue candidates,” and they borrow heavily from Trump in that they don’t really give a shit about anything except being miserable to people they don’t like.
It’s only logical that there would be some burgeoning liberal equivalent to this, similar to the Krassensteins or any other online thirst relic. But those people ALSO blow. They blow less than, like, Marjorie Taylor Greene, but they aren’t particularly useful. You don’t want, like, Debra Messing holding office, and you certainly don’t want to run Montclair as if she actually was. The best Democratic politicians right now are the ones that are able to consistently bury their enemies using actual facts and actual logic, with Katie Porter being the prime example. Katie Porter isn’t making Big Pharma squirm just to get her rocks off, although she’s absolutely entitled to. She’s shaming them openly with proof of their misdeeds, and getting their non-answers in the Congressional record and on TV for public awareness. There’s a purpose behind her ownage.
You said, “I honestly want to make my town better and I think I have good ideas on how to make it happen,” but if you’re really just coveting the potential theater of it, that’s gonna eclipse everything and then you won’t be worth a crap. This is one of the reasons I quit political writing. I used to get pissed at something Trump did, or something Democrats didn’t do. Then I would bang out a post cursing them all to hell, watch it go up, and feel better for exactly three seconds before realizing that I hadn’t done anything productive. And that was just writing about politics. If you run for office with the quiet ambition—and no one even needs to be quiet about it anymore—that you’re gonna serve as Catharsis Patrol for all the good guys, you will end up sucking. It’s a lock. Just build a park with a clean bathroom. That alone would already make you the Lincoln of Jersey.
While I’m on this, I’ve said nothing but nice things about Old Man Biden since he passed that big-ass stimulus bill and got the vaccines out ahead of schedule. But my admiration is wearing thin. Every story now has become, “The House just passed a bill that’s guaranteed to end cancer in America forever, but it faces a steep climb in the Senate!” I swear to god, if the old man doesn’t put the goddamn Senate in the woodchipper, I might just run for a council seat in Aberdeen.
In the last couple weeks I’ve seen undercover videos from Tyson Chicken and one of the biggest dairy producers about how they treat their animals. I’ve also seen one a year or so ago about Hormel. Luckily being in a rural area I can get pork and beef by buying from local livestock farmers. But I still know at least some part of my diet can be traced back to some probable shady big producer. I have a four-year-old and a one-year-old, and I can’t be making chicken nuggets myself. So what is the best way to deal with guilt knowing I can’t cut out buying from these types of places completely?
Just buy it and chill. It’s not on you to end BIG MEAT’s horrifying animal and labor practices. It’s just like how individuals can’t be expected to end global warming when—say it with me—100 companies are responsible for 71 percent of the world’s greenhouse emissions. You remember that little chestnut, yeah? It’s useful shorthand when you want to make the point that companies like Tyson or whoever would LOVE to make doing the right thing everyone else’s responsibility and not theirs. That’s how they GITCHA. So go ahead and buy the frozen nuggets and tenders (as I have for the past decade), and then offset your guilt by voting against their interests, and by donating to the ACLU, the Humane Society, or other powerhouse nonprofits that have the juice and the capital to make BIG MEAT’s life more difficult.
Also, I think that American eating habits may organically (no pun intended) evolve to the point where a manufacturer like Tyson ends up shit out of luck. Ten years ago, if you had told me that every fast food joint would have a meatless burger on the menu and that those burgers would be VERY popular, I would’ve laughed you out of the fucking room. But that’s exactly what’s happened. Two of my three kids don’t like meat, and they’re hardly alone. Last year, one in four Americans said they were eating less meat. Eleven Madison Park just went fully vegan across its entire menu. Every media outlet wants to make cicadas and eat them for a stunt. In another 10 years, the most popular food on earth could be squash blossoms or some other crazy shit, and then Frank Perdue will be good and fucked. Don’t rule it out.
My grandma makes homemade jelly a few times a year, and while delicious, I can only eat so many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Which means I have six jars of unopened grape jelly. Any recipe suggestions that includes a fuck ton of jelly?
Are you saying it’s NOT peanut butter jelly time? Not with a baseball bat? Not with a football cap? Now where you at, Alexander? Where you at? Where you at? Where you at?
[Alexander makes peanut butter and jelly ribs]
Now there you go. There you go. There you go. There you go.
In all seriousness, you can donate the jelly. Or you can make 5,000 PB&J sandwiches and give them to needy schoolkids. Someone out there could use that jelly much more than you, and has better ideas for how to deploy it. And then you can just lie to Nana and say you ate it all and it was the BEST jelly you’ve ever had. But there’s no need to spend precious man-hours trying to turn that shit into some kind of luxe comfort food marinade.
Is Aerial America the Most Dad Television out there? I assume that it is, but I am also 33 and have no kids.
When I think of Dad Television, I think of every CBS drama, every show on the History Channel, and every reality show on Discovery Channel. Those channels are dad content mills, and they know that to keep the white male 45+ demo happy, they have to include at least one of the following core elements across all of their programming:
- Former movie star now slumming it on TV as a humorless cop
- Mike Rowe
- Interview with a former CIA agent who can make a wildly stupid conspiracy theory sound downright plausible
- Horribly staged re-enactments of significant world events
- Surly blue collar workers who are the only people who GET what it’s like to work an oil rig off the coast of Greenland
This is where I note that Aerial America contains none of those core elements, because it’s the greatest show on television. And if you think it’s an old man show, well I’ll have you know that it’s my 12-year-old’s favorite TV show as well. This is largely because I let him watch it during otherwise screen-free hours because I find it educational, and then the other two kids complain about how we’re watching Aerial America yet again. BUT FUCK THEM KIDS. All they do all day is watch Youtube videos of other people watching Youtube videos. THEY WOULDN’T KNOW GOOD TELEVISION IF IT BUSTED DOWN OUR DOOR AND COLLARED THEM FOR HEROIN SMUGGLING!
I need to be more shameless about my dad preferences. Sometimes I’ll get a Twitter reply, or even a comment down below here at Defector, where people will be like HEY CHECK OUT THE OLD GUY! YOU SURE ARE OLD, OLD GUY! And I’m like hey, asshole, what age would you LIKE me to be? Huh? I’m a 44-year-old dad in suburbs with hearing aids and brain damage. I earned my age. Do you WANT me to pretend I’m fucking 19? Do you want me to listen to “Brutal” by Olivia Rodrigo and NOT immediately think that someone took a Hole album and said, “Make this dumber”? Do you want me to be a fucking virulent Marvel fanboy? Get fucked. YOU spend the rest of your sorry life trying to cling to a youth that will abandon you 10 seconds from now. Me, I’ll be in my Odyssey, listening to old Wilco and chilling the fuck out. And then I’m gonna watch Aerial America while fisting a bag of Lay’s and I’ll be happy. THE PRESIDENT KNOWS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT.
I should probably take all this ribbing like a man, shouldn’t I.
You are granted the power to alter or make one rule in any sport, but the catch is that rule can never ever be changed. It’s part of the sport/league until the end of time. So you have to be 100% confident that it’s for the good of the game now and forever. What’s your call?
Oh, I’d get rid of the end zone fumble rule, which fucked the Browns four months ago and which no sane person thinks is worth a crap. Kansas City failson Clark Hunt said the Competition Committee would look at the rule this offseason. Guess what? They didn’t. Here’s Committee Chair Rich McKay, who simply adores the rule as is:
“I don’t even know that we discussed it this year.”
In fact, McKay went on to echo the same argument that six tape eaters made to defend the rule back in January. DURRRR IF YOU DON’T LIKE THE RULE DON’T FUMBLE THE BAW NEAR THE END ZONE DURRRR. Fuck all that. I could change that rule with a snap of my fingers and absolutely no one outside of that harem of rule fetishists would care. I’d be changing football for the better now and forever. There’s no unforeseen monkey’s-paw side effect for me to worry about…
[The Vikings immediately lose to the Packers when Aaron Jones fumbles the ball out of the end zone at the one and then Green Bay gets a do-over]
Do you have to be related to somebody to have Jr.? Picture a 27-year-old in Fairbanks named Carl James. Could he just name his son LeBron James Jr.? What if he truly intends to raise his pasty white son as the second coming of King James? I say it’s fine.
I might have some questions for LeBron James Jr. of Fairbanks, but it IS allowed. Bronny James’s legal name is just LeBron James, and not LeBron James Jr. Suffixes like “Junior” and “III” and “The Great” aren’t automatically listed on the birth certificate. So technically yes, Carl James could name his son LeBron and tack an official “Junior” onto it and not be arrested. I don’t think it would make Other Bronny’s childhood a happy one, but hey, at least ONE LeBron James in this world would finally get vaccinated. HEYOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
Somebody mentioned the band The National the other day and I realized I’ve never listened to them, mainly because I thought their name was so fucking stupid. Your name can’t be an adjective, dipshit! The National WHAT? I’m sure I’ve missed out on some good stuff but I have zero regrets. So here’s my question: Is there any band that seems acceptable to the general populace that you have refused to listen to simply because their name struck you as too stupid to have been conceived by people capable of playing good music?
There isn’t. My roommate in college, Kevin, was a hugeass indie music fan and I used to go through his CD stack and gawk at all the weirdly named bands he listened to, with Archers of Loaf being the prime example. Just the absolute shittiest band name. And yet, I gave the original AOL a shot anyway and was rewarded with powerful riffage. You gotta keep an open mind because band/artist names have always been stupid, especially now with every artist giving themselves an SEO-optimized handle that sounds like a fucking email account password. If Pupp2Still makes good music despite being named that, it’s on me to find out. It’s not like I need much time to divine it in 2021. I pull them up on Spotify, listen for 30 seconds, and then never listen to them again. Easy.
If we suddenly discovered that reincarnation is real, and we could all find out who our past selves were, would you want to know? Let’s say people are always reincarnated as new people, not animals, bugs, etc.
I’d wanna know, sure. I wouldn’t get all Marianne Williamson about it, but I’d enjoy knowing that I was a new and improved incarnation of, say, Joseph Stalin. It wouldn’t phase me, it would just make a good icebreaker at cocktail parties.
Email of the week!
My Grandma Rose was all of 5′ tall with a high hairdo, red headed, and came straight out of Hungary post-WWI and hit the shores here, as she would say, “poorer than owl shit.” Now, Hungarians have a little bit of a reputation as being capable of some tempestuous behavior and my Grandma Rose proved more than capable to put full proof to that. Of all the events I remember, amongst the lemon meringue pie throwing, the mashed potato dumping, the walking me down the road in the dark with my suitcase telling me I was going to my other grandmother’s house because I loved her more than Grandma Rose… there’s one that stands out, because it was never NOT mentioned to me when in her presence until the day she passed nine years later.
I call it The Great 1972 Toy Obliteration.
Grandma Rose wanted to spoil me, and in her poorer than owl shit way, she certainly did. She had a habit of stopping by the nickel and dime store before a visit and getting me (first grandson, male, very big deal to her) a small toy. If you don’t remember, those kinds of toys were basically primordial plastic goods, poorly shaped, garishly coloured and easily swallowed, where they could lodge in an esophagus and cause havoc. But I’d take these toys, and at my young age would be very excited and happily play with them. Problem is, Grandma Rose would finish her visit and leave, and then sometime in the next 15 minutes to 4 hours, the cheap toy would break and my parents would have to deal with a crying, fit-throwing child.
One day I was playing in the driveway with one of those toys while my dad worked on something in the garage and the toy broke. Now, I gotta admit, this was quick and quality thinking on my dad’s part, because he looked at his about to explode child and said “look here” and put a hammer in my little fist, put the broken toy on the ground and said to me “whack it!”
So I whacked the shit out of that toy and the destruction made me smile and all was right until…
Yeah, Grandma Rose came walking up the driveway and took everything going on in a glance. I don’t know what she said, precisely, because at that age I just didn’t know most of the words and for all I could tell it might have been more than 50% Hungarian.
But it was for certain pissed.
This howling dervish of Grandma sailed past me while snagging the hammer from me, sailed past dad and went down his work bench WHACK WHACK WHACK with each shot scattering broken bits of projects all over. At the end of the bench she threw down the hammer, took one all encompassing look at us and the scene of destruction, and sniffed her disdain for us as she sailed wordlessly down the driveway and back home.
I loved my Grandma Rose, but sure as day turns to night, I always respected her.
As I do now.