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Funbag

Which Is America’s Least-Hated State?

A Guatemalan woman touches a map of the United States at the Casa del Refugiado, or The House of Refugee, a new centre opened by the Annunciation House to help the large flow of migrants being released by the United States Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement in El Paso, Texas on April 24, 2019. - The 125,000 foot space will accomodate about 500 migrants, with plans to expand for up to 1,500. While this is larger then other centres in the El Paso area, Father Ruben Garcia the director of Annunciation house says that they will still rely on churches around the community for help housing migrants. According to the CBP, border patrol agents apprehended 92,607 people along the southwest border in March, up from 66,884 in February. US President Donald Trump, who has made immigration the core of his message to his conservative base, said on Twitter that "a very big Caravan of over 20,000 people" is making its way through Mexico toward the United States. (Photo by Paul Ratje / AFP) (Photo credit should read PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images)
Paul Ratje/AFP via 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 the vaccine, punters, jingles, annoying temperature shifts, and more.

Your letters:

Amy:

What is the least hated populous state? Everyone hates on Florida, New Jersey, and Texas, etc. and usually with good reason. So what state has a good, healthy population of upstanding American citizens that nobody cares to hate on?

My gut answer is California, our most populous state. This is because California is the best state in the country by far, and anyone who’s been to California knows this. But a lot of non-Californians have an irrational, built-up hostility toward that state. I know I did. I fucking hated L.A. back when I was in my 20s. I thought Californians were flaky (this is true) and soft (this is untrue), and that all of California’s cool shit was overstated (if anything, it’s the opposite). And of course, most Republicans despise California for all of the standard, incoherent Republican reasons. California: truly, they hate you because they ain’t you.

So, with that in mind, I can’t allow my current infatuation with California to discount the millions of ignorant fuckheads who still think it’s Commieland. We gotta go a little bit further down the list to find our least hated populous state. It’s not New York (No. 4). It’s not Pennsylvania (No. 6), because Pennsylvania is awful. It’s not Illinois (No. 5), because “Chicago” remains wingnut shorthand for THEM’S WHERE CRIME-DOIN’ BLACK FOLK LIVE. It’s not Georgia (No. 8), although Georgia had itself quite the redemption tour this fall. I think it’s … oh god, is it Michigan (No. 9)? It can’t be Michigan. I won’t allow it. Let’s say Washington (No. 13). No one talks shit about Washington. It has apples and what not.

Fernando:

I’m in front of the line to receive the vaccine based on my work, but wondering if and who I would tell that to (other than my wife obviously). I’m actually scheduled to get my first dose tomorrow, but had to move some stuff around to make that happen. Should I not be telling people I’m getting the vaccine so soon? I mean I would be jealous I guess. I know I’m super lucky to be in the first cohort, but it’s also because my job (critical care doc) puts me in a vulnerable position. I feel like I should sit on this info for a while.

I would tell people. Clearly you deserve to be at the front of the queue because you’re a doctor. Also, you have credibility. If you get the vaccine, that may help influence whatever closeted anti-vaxxers might be in your orbit. Getting the vax and letting people know it’s safe means you’re doing your part, same as when you wear a mask.

I don’t care you got the vaccine early. I’m envious, of course. But ultimately, all I care about is that one less person is gonna die of this shit. Our own Dan McQuade got vaccinated early as well and, like Fernando, struggled with the ethical implications of it. That struggle is its own evidence that you’re a conscientious person, but it’s also ultimately unnecessary. In a perfect vaccine rollout, all of the established important people would get the vaccine in the proper order: doctors, nurses, the elderly, the immunocompromised, The Rock, etc. But this has not been a perfect vaccine rollout, which means that any vaccines NOT administered risk being thrown out altogether. Some have already been tossed. That’s bad. Every shot needs to get used, even if that means some undeserving shit-for-brains like Elon Musk gets it before other people do. Whatever. Trying to sort out who gets dibs on the vaccine has been a small factor in WHY the rollout has been poor.

I have not gotten vaccinated yet. Despite the fact that I have brain damage and could be considered higher risk than the able-brained, I’m not yet eligible in my state to get the jab. And I can wait. I accept my place in the pecking order. HOWEVAH, if a friend of mine was like, “Oh hey Drew, they’re giving out shots at the Arby’s a mile away and no one else knows about it yet,” I’m fucking there. I’m not letting those shots go to waste. None of us should. I won’t even be mad when the entire NBA gets vaccinated early (and on the sly) just so they can stage the All-Star Game this year. And I wasn’t even mad when Mike Pence got vaccinated. I seriously wasn’t. If anything, you need to get all the Jesus freaks and Q weirdoes on board with this. It’s the only way I’m gonna be able to fly on a fucking airplane again.

My parents got vaccinated this past weekend. They qualified thanks to their age. I was so relieved that I got choked up. I’ve spent the past year praying my parents wouldn’t get COVID and die. If they get to jump the line in front of me, so be it. I can wait my turn. But again: if that turn arrives unexpectedly, thanks to the patchwork rollout we currently have in place, I’m not gonna waste it. No one should. Get your shot and then tell the world. The pro-vaccine message can’t be broadcast enough times.

Brett:

You’re about 10 years my senior. Now, I’ve been in the robe game for several years, but when do I get to safely enter the nap game? We have young children and I’m fairly confident that if I were to sink into a post-lunch nap on a Saturday afternoon my wife might gut me right there in the living room for everyone to see. When did you enter this phase? Do you do this daily? Did you ease into it or barge in DGAF-style one day? I’m ready for naps. Teach me.

When our kids were much younger, my wife and I took naps out of necessity, in whatever spare moments magically became available. We traded off, so that if my wife was up all night with the baby or vice versa, I took full charge for an hour or two during the day so that she could squeeze a nap in and feel human again. Normally, we were only able to pull this off on weekends, and even then weekends with small children are no respite from all the parenting gruntwork. It’s pretty much the opposite, actually. Saturdays are a TOTAL pain in the ass.

I genuinely don’t know when we were able to start napping for straight-up pleasure. One reason I love sleeping in my recliner—the classic dad maneuver—was again born out of necessity. I was “looking after” my kids the first time I dozed off, but really I was just in the same room with them while they watched horrible shit like Chuggington. Five minutes into any episode of that shit and I was gone.

Once I broke the seal on accidental naps, I graduated to the planned ones. Now that all of our kids are past second grade, they know how to hang out without us (and they usually prefer it, especially with the pandemic and e-school keeping us WAY too close together for a whole stupid year), which means I can nap pretty much anytime I like. I have reached a mythical stage of parenting I never thought I’d achieve back when I was changing diapers and scrubbing formula bottles and shit: I have a life again. Back in the day, I used to curse not-so-under my breath at parents who had free time. Now I’m one of them.

Except I can’t fucking go anywhere. Hence, napping has become my primary leisure pursuit. I don’t nap every day, because I gotta pay the bills. But when I sense an opening, oh you better believe I’m ON THAT SHIT. I get excited for a nap like it’s a takeout order. Also, for reasons that frustratingly elude her, my wife is no longer capable of taking naps, which means I have a monopoly on them. I am the Nap King. Feels amazing.

I wanna tell you that your Nap King phase will come in X years or whatever, but really it’s part of how you evolve as a parent AND how you’re doing in general. Like, I don’t have to work on weekends, which means I have time to pass out on the couch. Not everyone has those luxuries. Best-selling author Karen Russell recently wrote this fantastic essay about how the financial strain of caring for a child can take over both your calendar and your psyche. This woman won a MacArthur genius grant, mind you. $650,000. You’d think Russell would be living the life with that kind of paper. WRONG. She’s still scratching and clawing with basic life upkeep. And Karen Russell’s not a spoiled asshole. She’s not gonna bullshit you about that kind of thing. Life in this country is hideously expensive, and that expense ravages your free time as much as it does your wallet.

But you WILL find time to nap down the line. Naps are an essential survival tool. You’ll evolve and adapt as a parent, and then one day you’ll be like HOLY SHIT I CAN NAP RIGHT NOW AND GET AWAY WITH IT. It’s a fun epiphany.

Kevin:

Should sports broadcasting jobs only be given to people who actually did something in their playing careers? Why the fuck should I care about what Dan Orlovsky or Greg McElroy have to say? 

You’ve heard Troy Aikman do games, yeah? I know Tony Romo is both a good former player AND a good analyst, but Romo is the exception. Most hall of famers who become analysts are protective of both their relationships within the league and their own reputations among the general public. That’s how you end up with Troy going YOU HAVE TO CATCH THAT JOE whenever Tom Brady wings a pass 90 feet over Mike Evans’s head.

I’d rather get my analysis from someone who isn’t nut deep in NFL society. Granted, that means you sometimes end up with Dan Orlovsky, seen here marveling over what amounts to an everyday timing pattern:

But really, there’s very little correlation between what makes you a good player and what makes you a good broadcaster. They’re different skills, even if the former informs the latter. Cris Collinsworth is a really good color guy (calm down, some of his tics annoy me as much as they annoy you), but he wasn’t a hall of famer. He DID make three Pro Bowls, which shocked me when I looked it up. But he wasn’t Randy Moss, who, to my depression, is a forgettable studio guy right now. Domonique Foxworth had a middling career and is one of the better guys over at ESPN. So how you played doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you have the timbre, and that you can tell me shit I didn’t already know. That should be the only criteria, and that’s why I should be hired to replace Brian Griese.

HALFTIME!

Will:

Which is a better addition to a home: an indoor fireplace or an outdoor balcony?

What kind of balcony we talking, here? Is it like a wooden deck? Does it have room for a table and chairs? Is it overlooking the Seine? Does it have a grill? Is it big enough for fucking? These are all decisive factors.

Our house has both a deck and a fireplace, because we’re fancy like that. I can tell you that my family uses the deck WAY more than the fireplace. And I say that even though I’m the kind of guy who loves building a fire in the winter and then staring at it, thinking about deep shit. But fireplaces are needy, and the allure of staring at a fire dissipates when I feel like playing Everybody’s Golf for the 10th time that night. Conversely, I wander out onto the deck every day, even when it’s cold out. Makes me feel like I’m on vacation. In Maryland. Exotic, distant Maryland. Wow.

So there you have it. The balcony is the better move. Also, you can pretend it increases the value of your home by $50,000 before reality issues a stern correction.

Mitch:

I’m not naive enough to think that a punter could win league MVP, but what would it take for a punter to win Super Bowl MVP? Three punts downed inside the five-yard line in a low-scoring game? A fake punt/pass at a crucial point, too? A big hit on a punt return to save a touchdown? Or does being a punter mean you forfeit any trophies for your entire NFL career?

There’s actually a good test case for this. Eleven years ago, the Chargers beat the Colts in a wild card game because their punter, Mike Scifres, had an INSANE game. Scifres averaged over 50 yards a punt. But that’s not the important part. Five of those punts pinned the Colts back behind their own 10. The only other punt of his pinned Indy inside the 20. It was the best playoff game any punter has ever had, so much so that Al Michaels was like, “I think Mike Scifres is the MVP of this game!” And Al was right. Scifres didn’t have to run a fake or any of that shit. All he had to do was punt the Colts into the asteroid belt, and he did.

Now, if that game had been a Super Bowl, Scifres wouldn’t have won the MVP. This is because Darren Sproles ran for over 100 yards and two scores in that game, and because Super Bowl MVP voters prioritize their votes this way.

  1. Winning QB
  2. Whichever skill position player did best if the winning QB sucked
  3. Random defender who got a pick-six
  4. “Oooh lemme be a rebel and pick the losing QB”

That’s the list. Punters aren’t welcome on it. Scifres would have had to fill in as the emergency kicker and nail the game-winner from 70 yards away to even get considered.

Tim:

You mentioned on SFGate that your Christmas movie rotation was the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “Elf,” and “A Christmas Story.” That seems thin. No “Christmas Vacation” or either “Home Alone?”

I left out Home Alone by accident. That’s on me and I apologize to the entire McCallister family for the oversight. As for Christmas Vacation, it’s not in my rotation. It’s a decent movie, but I don’t need to see it every year. Because honestly, I hate Clark Griswold. I know the Home Alone discourse evolved to Spoiled Brat Viciously Assaults Poor People long ago, but Clark Griswold gets to skate despite being an overbearing control freak that everyone hates. If that movie took place in 2021, Griswold would be on the MRA Reddit. He sucks. Really, I only watch Christmas Vacation for Nicolette Scorsese scenes. I’m no dummy.

Alex:

What is the most annoying and/or worst 10-degree shift in temperature? Like, going from 85 to 95 (or even to 105, here in New Orleans) is no big deal, as I’m already in shorts and a t-shirt. the only difference, really, is how much I’m sweating. Likewise, the drop from 45 to 35? I’m already freezing cold, so I might not even notice that. I say it’s the gap between 65 to 55. Extreme? No. Annoying? Fuck yeah. You need a different coat/jacket, maybe a sweater underneath? And possibly layers for when we used to be able to go inside places, as you never know what temp they’re going to keep things at during that swing.

It’s the drop from 50 to 40. Stringer Bell may not notice when it’s 40, but I do. Once the mercury dips below 50, I’m Officially Cold. I even wear a hat and gloves now when that happens, which makes me a TOTAL pussy. I don’t need a hat and gloves when it’s 50. I might not even need a jacket. Go a little above 50 and I can venture out in just a hoodie if there’s some sunlight in with an assist. The Minnesota boy in me takes full advantage. That’s why I love fall. Summer in Maryland is fucking endless, so it’s like a holiday when I can finally make the switch to pants and hoodies.

But once winter takes root and we get down into the 40s, I’m back to being my grandma. Being stuck in the 40s without enough warm shit on is the exact opposite of taking a nap for me, which is why it’s amusing that I live in a place where, come wintertime, the temperature fluctuates from the 30s to the 50s CONSTANTLY. That’s means it’s the exact wrong kind of cold outside all the time. If you live in Canada, winter is always frigid and you’ve got the right gear for it. I mean, say what you want about the tenets of arctic climates, Dude, at least it’s an ethos. But here in Maryland, every winter gives me a case of layering dyslexia. I put my socks on and then off 40 times a day in this house. If it’s 45 and I go shopping, suddenly the mall feels like it’s 9000 degrees. You see why I’m so pro-California now. I require DECISIVE weather. I don’t like it when the “climate” undergoes “change,” so to speak.

Michael:

My kids are 12 and 7. We don’t have a cable because I’m cheap. Over dinner, while discussing the day my wife explained how she deconstructed a school provided lunch sandwich to use the meat (the only salvageable ingredient) for morning bagel topping for AJ. Immediately, my wife and I burst out in ‘my bologna has first name…’ And then I realized my kids won’t have steady supply of jingles at the ready because they never see commercials. Will my kids know jingles?

Oh yeah. My kids have every jingle of every Youtube ad memorized. My older son can recite GEICO ad copy from memory because he’s been subjected to the first five seconds of those ads (before the SKIP AD button mercifully appears) every day for years now. So don’t you worry. The brands will find your offspring as well. Truly heartwarming shit.

As I’ve said before, there’s nothing that Americans love more now than forcing their nostalgia on others. The reason kids love Star Wars today is because their asshole parents, with a big assist from Disney, MADE them love it. If I can’t relive the thrill of seeing Raiders for the first time as a kid, then by God I’m gonna drag my kid to Indy 5 in 2022 and scream ISN’T THIS MAGICAL? every time they cut to the next scene. Old ads are also part of that indoctrination process. My kids know the Ragu “Chicken Tonight” jingle, not because they’ve seen the original ad, but because The Simpsons—another piece of IP I’m still foisting upon younger people who may not want it—references it. This scene is yet another instance of The Simpsons predicting the future, with Lisa going, “Doesn’t this family know any songs that AREN’T commercial?” before they all break into another jingle. That’s our culture now. It’s all reheated garbage. I am not a crackpot.

Paul:

My grandfather was an Italian immigrant in the early 20th century who landed in Southern California. He grew strawberries and oranges in Orange County, CA for many years until he retired in the early 1970s. Then he leased like 10 acres off to a junkyard who put all manner of junked cars and trucks, semis, construction equipment on the land. As kids, me and my cousins used to run around this junkyard, throwing levers and switches, climbing broken bulldozers, breaking windows, bashing fenders, having battles and BB gun fights, playing hide and seek, and generally raising Cain. There was also an active railroad track where we would lay coins and then try to find the squashed coins after. Now, I don’t condone any of this unsupervised mayhem. I wouldn’t let my own kids do this, but it was awesome at the time. Was this just a last-of-its-kind Gen X experience in terms of letting your kids go off and get tetanus? Or is this just now my pampered elite coastal ass lacking the knowledge of what life is currently like in Appalachia?

Some of the latter. Plenty of kids out in the sticks still go out, even in the middle of the pandemic, to play in ravines and crash bikes and shoot BB guns and all that other Tom Sawyer shit. The “When I was a kid our ma sent us outside and told us not to come home till sundown!” take has been around forever, but so have hillbilly families arming their children with guns and fishing poles and discount camo gear so that they become REAL FOLK, just like they was back in the day. Again, forced nostalgia.

Then again, my own kids have been outside for like 30 minutes a weekday since the fall. I feel like a failure because of it. I want them to get out of this house and commit wanton acts of vandalism. But I can’t because of the pandemic, and because I can’t get them off screens, and because the surrounding roadways are, like the rest of America, openly hostile to pedestrians, bikers, skateboarders, and dogs. It’s as if the country was designed specifically to trap you inside your home. I guess, in that sense, we were prepared for the rona to hit.

But when the pandemic goes away, maybe all that’ll change. Maybe people will take full advantage once they’re able to go outside again. Maybe they’ll encourage city leaders to keep more roads closed and to build more open public spaces. Maybe they’ll throw out their phones and run and jump and play. And maybe my dick will learn how to do a handstand.

Josh:

Being a mostly sensible person like yourself, I abhor mayonnaise. But while enjoying a Caesar salad the other day, a friend (literally one of three people in my pod) noted that Caesar dressing is made with mayonnaise. While I still enjoyed the rest of the salad, I couldn’t forget that fact. Cutting out Caesar dressing simply because I detest one of the ingredients (not anchovies, I ordered those put into the salad) sounds like the path to madness. Does this conflict with my hard-line anti-mayo stance?

It doesn’t, because not all Caesar dressing is made with mayonnaise. That’s a FACT. My favorite Caesar dressing is the Ken’s Steakhouse lite one. There’s no mayo in it. You can tell which Caesar dressings have mayo because they’re visibly whiter and creamier. The mayo is self-evident. Like that shit that comes in a Kraft squeeze packet? That’s Roman ejaculate. Avoid it. And never order a Caesar salad at a hotel because that’s the exact dressing they’ll use. Buy the Ken’s, or make your own Caesar dressing using one of the many no-mayo recipes for it that are sitting around online. You are not alone in this fight.

Email of the week!

Eric:

Like a lot of families, my family shares streaming accounts. My brother pays for Netflix, my parents pay for HBO/Showtime, and I pay for Hulu/Amazon. In my Showtime App, a show called PASSIONS IN PRISON keeps on popping up in the recently viewed section. According to the description, two strippers are accused of murdering their husbands and try to escape jail via seduction. Clearly, someone (I assumed my dad) is vibing out to some late-night action. I was explaining this situation to my brother and laughing about it. Then he drops a bomb. It’s him and his wife.

Why would he admit to this? I was perfectly content to know that my dad, a 65-year-old retiree with limited modern computer skills, would resort to softcore skin flicks. Now I have to live with specific knowledge of my brother’s sex life.

This is why every streaming service needs an incognito mode.