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Funbag

You Have To Earn The Right To Fuck Off At Work

Businessman sitting in office, portrait
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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 Bishop Sycamore, 0-17, eating mishaps, strange meats, and more.

The Night The Lights Went Out is just a month away from being released, which means I’m about to go into an extended period of shameless plugging. I apologize in advance already.

But also, DID YOU KNOW THAT IF YOU PRE-ORDER THE BOOK RIGHT NOW YOU’LL GET SOME COOL EXTRA SHIT?! It’s true. Buy it anytime over the next two weeks, fill out this form, and then we’ll hang out together in a private, VIP Twitch party for Lions-Packers on the 20th. Only people who preorder the book are invited. All the other riffraff out there will be DENIED entrance and beaten with a stick. Got it? Excellent.

Your letters:

Patrick:

Due to a recent work relocation, I now have the luxury of an office with a door. How much can I keep that bad boy closed? My preferred amount is always, but I don’t want my coworkers to think I’m spending all day touching myself (I’m not!). 

But you COULD. Missed opportunity there.

I used to work in an office of my own in New York, and I closed the door all the time because A) I was dicking around online all day and didn’t want anyone to see me not working, and B) I didn’t want anyone to come in and give me more shit to do. I was eventually fired from that job. You can probably guess as to why. Then I got a new job with a shared office, and my art director and I usually kept that open. Sometimes though we’d close it so we could jack up The Strokes on a little boom box while we cooked up shitty newspaper ads for AT&T. And again, so that everyone else in the office would leave us the fuck alone. I was actually good at that job, so no one gave me shit for it (at least not to my face).

But in general, you get to keep the office door closed the more senior you are. When you’re 25, everyone else at work thinks a closed door means you’re shirking your duties. When you’re 50, they all think Oh wow Bob’s office door is closed. He might be on the phone with Jack Welch. Or divorcing with his wife. Or oh God, what if he’s firing someone in there? I better stay the fuck away from that office. Meanwhile Bob is just napping. That’s power at work for you.  

Mike:

I’ve been watching this season of Hard Knocks featuring what appears to be the Cowboys. It is the most boring thing I’ve seen all year. I’ve never seen a group of people so bereft of personality that they had to feature Ezekiel Elliot, probably against the advice of his attorneys, going into a long diatribe about how he wants to kill mascots. They had a five-minute drone fly-through of their empty strip mall and practice facility. They held a long shot of a helicopter for no reason. Their backup QB “swagged” up his outfit with a thin hoodie. I always looked forward to Hard Knocks as something at least entertaining (seeing the Rams/Chargers deal with COVID last year was interesting), but now I’m questioning everything I’ve ever known. Can you rank the seasons from best to worst? 

I can’t, because I’ve never watched Hard Knocks. I’ve watched the most famous clips from it—“Let’s go get a goddamn snack,” etc.—but I’ve never consumed a full episode, much less a full season. The original reason was that I spent roughly a decade without HBO because I was too cheap to pay for it. But I got HBOMax a year ago and I still can’t bring myself to give a shit.

You’re about to read a breathtaking amount of Hard Knocks ignorance, so you may as well start rolling your eyes now. I already watch too much preseason football. I don’t wanna watch the backstory TO all that shit. Every Hard Knocks season cuts off right before the games have actual stakes, so I don’t give a shit if Mike McCarthy has to ruefully cut his seventh linebacker from the roster. I don’t ever wanna see Jameis Winston give me a tour of his childhood home, like I’m supposed to think he’s adorable and not a fucking psychopath. I don’t wanna watch linemen yell really loud while they’re firing out at a tackling sled. I’ve done those drills. They sucked. I don’t wanna remember them. And I definitely don’t wanna hear from the owner, or watch some forced-ass banter between players and coaches that a supervising producer probably wrote for them. I know the show is well done, and I know that Liev Schreiber is the best narrator in the business. But every time I’ve come into an episode of Hard Knocks in media res, I’ve kicked right back out of.

I’ll watch main event sports documentaries, like OJ: Made in America or Hoop Dreams. I’ve also watched the Netflix F1 show and enjoyed it as much as everyone else has. But for me, Hard Knocks falls into the same bucket as most sports movies and most sports books, where I’d rather watch actual sports instead. For years, every league and broadcast network (and now every pro athlete) has tried to expand their inventory by producing hours and hours of behind-the-scenes shit that’s supposed to make the actual games more meaningful to you. They don’t. You know who my favorite college basketball player was back in the day? Al Dillard. Know how much I know about Al Dillard? NOTHING. I’ve never even read his Wikipedia page. He was just some short dude who walked onto the court in Kevin Smith–length shorts and casually launched threes from the goddamn concession stand. And made them. That’s all I needed from Al Dillard. I didn’t need to know what his fucking dog’s name was.

Kristopher:

What’s your feeling when biting into something and because no easy tear, you have to advance the bite two or three times in order to cleanly sever. Annoying or good? It’s more of what you presumably want in the mouth at once, but the meal will end sooner.

It’s deeply annoying. I know two exact instances where this happens the most. The first is in a sandwich that has lots of goodies in it, but the bulk of them decide to tag along on the first bite and slip out of the bread when I didn’t mean for them too. This forces me to advance the bite deeper into bread and end up with half a sandwich in my mouth. I’m a Heimlich waiting to happen. Awful shit.

The other time it always happens is with fried chicken. You KNOW I’m sensitive to how good fried chicken is. BUT! … the skin is always desperate to slide off my Popeyes. This is especially true of the thigh, which is my favorite piece. One bite and that top sheet of skin goes sliding right off. Then I have to slap it back onto the thigh like it’s a bad toupee. Sometimes, if I’m situationally aware, I sense the skin coming loose and can adjust my bite accordingly. But then I burn the back of my throat because the chicken’s interior is so hot. Just the WORST, you know? Absolutely the worst thing that could happen to a person. Worse than student debt.

Nate:

Is soiling yourself ever more ingenious than it is embarrassing? Like, if I pooped my pants and, in doing so, avoided a kidnapping (because no one wants to put the person who shit themselves into their van for a long drive into the woods, I guess), would the takeaway be “Nice work!” or “Gross?”

Anyone who says “Gross!” to you after eluding from your captor thanks to a conveniently timed doody is a Trump voter. Don’t listen to them. Exult in your clutch dump and surround yourself with people who understand that A) You have the right to behave anyway you want if you’re about to be kidnapped, and B) Bad smells DO occur when crimes are committed. Those are both givens.

Also, I just wanna say that if I were hellbent on kidnapping Nate, I would continue to kidnap him even if he had shat himself. When you’re kidnapping another person, it’s not as if you’re exercising sound judgment. You’ve already bypassed a million reasons to not do it before getting started, so it’s not as if a stray turd is gonna be the final straw.

Jamie:

I’ve been so spoiled by TV shows shot like movies that I can’t get into anything remotely similar to what I watched as a teenager. Where do you think TV is going to go from here? Will it keep evolving, or has it reached the pinnacle of the form?

I’m actually writing about this at the Gate this week, because I liked season two of Outer Banks despite the fact that Outer Banks is an extremely basic TV show. It just wants you to have a good time, and it delivers. If you expected it to be the greatest show ever produced, that’s your fault for being an idiot.

People have been saying this is the Golden Age of TV ever since The Sopranos was on the air, and it’s both false and annoying. There’s a lot more good TV now than there was when I was growing up watching horseshit like The Dukes of Hazzard, but that doesn’t mean everything you’re watching right now is fucking Shakespeare. You know an Oscar-bait movie when you watch one, yeah? You should have same alarm bells going off anytime you watch Emmy-bait. Ninety-five percent of all TV shows currently on the air will let you down eventually. It’s a lock.

And even though the people I follow on Twitter act like Emm- bait shows are the only show that exist, the greater TV landscape is a big-ass clusterfuck, still rife with horrible multi-cam sitcoms on network TV, disposable cop shows, piss-poor reality TV that was long ago stripped of every last pretense of reality, and baking shows. It’s a mess and it’s only gonna get messier once cord cutting hits critical mass and the only “channel” you can afford is Netflix. You’re better off expecting less.

Greg:

I want to know what it would take for normal everyday folks to give up red meat and use wild game animals instead. Not in a Ted Nugent/Joe Rogan way, but in the indigenous, de-colonized ethical food ways. Bison steak is better than any steak you can get: Waygu, Kobe etc. Tastes like the meat is supposed to taste. Elk melts in your mouth if you cook it right. There is a reason this land was covered in these beauts before ya’ll came over. Hopdoddys has a bison burger and you can find it in most grocery stores better than a few years ago. Not only is it better overall, it’s just better tasting. The entire “Farm to table” movement basically ripped off indigenous eating anyways, so let’s just make it the norm and eat better meat. 

I’ve had both bison steak and Wagyu, and I STRONGLY disagree with your assessment. I also ate an elk steak once when I was in Montana. It was at some very fancy lodge restaurant that served game meat exclusively, and I was PUMPED for that shit. Made me feel like Hugh Glass to order a $50 elk tenderloin, all bloody and meaty and paired with a thick red wine. And the elk was good, but it didn’t blow my skull. Wild meat is naturally leaner and gamier than its livestock counterparts. Now I could have historians and/or Ted Turner tell you that this is a byproduct of the meat industry deliberately engineering Americans’ appetites away from meats they would have enjoyed more back in the caveman era, and they’d be correct. But also, it still wouldn’t make a tough-ass piece of venison taste any better to me right now. I wish it did, so that I’d feel more manly, but no.

The better idea is to swap out meat for Beyond Meat, anyway. And we’re already on our way to doing that. My future will be awash in strange nonmeats made from repurposed beet starch, and I welcome it.

HALFTIME!

Jordan:

Do you have a prediction or preference on how Hollywood tells the Bishop Sycamore story? You know they will, it’s only a matter of time. Documentary? Docuseries? Perhaps a prestige “Inspired by True Events” miniseries? Curious to hear your thoughts, and if not a documentary, who should be cast.

Well there’s already a documentary coming, with Rich Paul and Kevin Hart as the brains behind it. Do I trust either of those men to do the story justice? Nope. It’s gonna be five times longer than it needs to be and it’s not gonna tell you anything you don’t already know.

Because there’s no real story to the fake high school. There’s a very big story in the greater fraudulence of more legit high school and college programs, but the Bishop Sycamore story itself is so flimsy that it barely exists. There was no ingenious fraud behind it: just some prick putting up the loosest of fronts, roping in students who had little choice but to play along anyway, and then watching it all fall apart the second other people took one look at it. That’s a five-minute story. If you wanna go the full Joker and origin-ize it to absurd lengths, be my guest. But I won’t give a shit. You already saw me shrug off Hard Knocks, and they put real effort into that show.

Chris:

You’re invited to stay over at someone’s house, and the following items are on the guest bedroom nightstand: a bottle of lotion, Kleenex, and a bottle of water. That’s an invitation to jerk it right?? Or do I owe my brother in law’s parents an apology?

LOL did they really put that on the nightstand for you? I fully expect any male houseguest I have to do his business when he’s staying over, but it ain’t like I put a stack of High Society mags by his bed to help facilitate the process.

Now hotels? Hotels know what time it is. You get complimentary shampoo, conditioner, and lotion in every hotel bathroom. No one has ever used that hotel lotion for basic skin care.

Matt:

How long until we see our first 0-17 season? And who’s it gonna be?

It’s gonna take a while. We’ve been spoiled by the Browns and Lions both gifting us winless 0-16 seasons this century. It’s still REALLY hard to go winless. If you need proof, look no further than the Jets last season, who started 0-13 and then, for no reason whatsoever, beat two playoff teams in a row. Every dead cat bounces.

So add in a 17th game and you’re asking a lot of the Texans even though they’re the Texans. They still have players who very much do not wanna make history, and they’re playing against teams who could prove equally uninspired that week for whatever reason. The difference between the good NFL teams and the shitty NFL teams only feels vast. In reality, they’d all defeat Bama 197-0. So if you ever see an 0-17 team, it won’t be until we have an 18-game schedule anyway. And then the Jets would win that 18th game and blow their shot at drafting Paxtyn Manning.

Scott:

Should/will video gaming ever become part of the Olympics?

I’m a remnant of the 1980s who thinks esports aren’t sports at all. I’d rather watch my dog die. HOWEVAH, the Olympics will absolutely make Overwatch a medal event five years from now (it’ll be a Winter Games event, because it’s inside and what have you). The IOC is desperate to keep the grift going when fewer cities are bidding for the games and the cities that DO agree to host them, like Tokyo, are openly hostile to their presence. So they’ll add any sport they can to keep people interested. I know because I just watched the IOC add skateboarding to the games and it was fucking miserable television. Like someone watched the X Games and thought, “Hey, what if we did this but with fewer tricks, and in black-and-white?” Tony Hawk was rolling (1080 degrees) in his grave. So yeah, they’ll add both gaming and cupcake wars right away and they’ll ruin both.

Jack:

It dawned on me that I haven’t explored the world of sausages like I should have. Yeah, I’ve had plenty of Polish sausages at ballgames (wonderful!), and I remember having an Italian sausage at a game once, though I can’t really remember what my opinion of it was (spicy?). And I have had plenty of Chorizo sausage in my breakfast burritos over the years, plus whatever kind of sausage they use for breakfast sausages or put on pizza or put in fast food breakfast sandwiches, but that is about it for me. What am I missing out on? Can I get a definitive sausage ranking so I know what to seek out to expand on my sausage knowledge base?

Ranking sausages would be like ranking my children. I just can’t do it, although little Freddie Magary would definitely be No. 1 on my list.

Like Jack, I have also not explored the sausage space as extensively as I can or should have. Every time I walk past the butcher case at Whole Foods or any other grocery store, I marvel at all the varieties on display. OOOOH THAT ONE HAS SPINACH AND FETA IN IT! But 99 percent of the time, I’m buying Italian sausage. It’s one of the first foods I ever loved, and I’ve relied on it ever since to keep physically and mentally sharp. My mom used to bake store-brand Italian sausage on a sheet pan and give it to us for dinner. It made Little Drew the happiest fat kid in the world, and it still does.

In fact, I can organize my life into sausage epochs. I had an Italian sausage and hot dog childhood. Then I quit red meat in college and became a turkey/chicken sausage guy, which sucked. Every artisanal chicken sausage, by law, has to have apples in it for some reason. Then I met my wife and we discovered L’Express, a bargain bistro in New York that had a special sausage month that ran all the way through October. Best restaurant in America.

Then we got married and I had my phase where, anytime I was home alone, I would buy one of those big Hillshire Farm kielbasas at the store and have that for dinner and nothing else. Now virtually no one in my family eats meat except for me, so any sausage I get is a treat I have while dining out. That is my life in sausage. Wow. Fascinating. Anyway, when these kids fuck off to college, I’m gonna evolve again and finally start buying all those fancy-pants Whole Foods sausages. Like merguez! SO EXOTIC.

Ruben:

I’m sure it’s a lot of people’s fantasy to absolutely SLAY a song live on stage. The feeling of the bass, killing the riff, wailing into the microphone, pouring your emotion into it. Could I, a fairly musical person (I’ve played piano since four and play a few other instruments with varying skill, sang a cappella in college, can read music), get together with some of my musical friends that are in a “dad band”, and with enough practice of one song and one song only, absolutely bring down the house with a rendition of it? Imagine something big, like “Cochise,” that makes people want to run through a brick wall.

Yes. You need a good singer. That’s the key. No one will care if your bassist really nailed his lines. But if you’ve got the right frontman to do the job, then you can win the crowd. I know because I went to a shitty karaoke bar one night 20 years ago and a dude there brought the house down with a note-perfect rendition of “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” by Lou Rawls. You know how karaoke bars are. Unless it’s an obvious singalong, no one gives a shit about the song except for the people singing it. But this dude got up there and the second he started singing, everyone’s jaw dropped. When he was done, we all clapped. Then he handed us all demo tapes and we threw them in the trash. That could be you one day, my man.

Jeff:

My partner has one close friend who I don’t really like. I don’t really have a reason why I don’t like this person. We just never got along. Normal enough couple stuff. HOWEVER, in the course of planning a wedding – specifically, in making table assignments at our fingers-crossed-all-vaccinated-all-outside wedding – I learned that my partner has MULTIPLE friends that cannot be seated with this woman because they don’t like her either. Most of these friends are not in overlapping friend circles, so it’s not like they all decided to gang up on her. Some of these people – friends AND family! – just met her at the bachelorette party and decided she was NOT someone they wanted to hang out with ever again. All of these are one-directional (she either does not know or ignores that she has this effect on people).

Two questions. This is an absurd situation, right? Shouldn’t there be some threshold number of friends where you should rethink why you’re friends with someone that rubs so many people the wrong way and is oblivious to it? It’s not like this is her childhood best friend or someone she’s known her whole life. Second, I absolutely can never bring this up in any capacity, right?

It’s not that absurd. I know people who have shitty taste in other people, and it shows whenever they bring a stray dog along to their birthday party and everyone there is like JESUS CHRIST WHO IS THAT DIPSHIT? Happens way too often. I’ve been stuck with these stray dogs. They’re abrasive, they never ask you about you, and they never shut the fuck up. And then my wife and I go home and we say to each other, “Did you meet that guy Steve? Good God.”

You can’t bring this up to your fiancée unless you spot an opening, but you might get one. I’ve watched my wife socialize with a person who absolutely sucks. After the fact, she’ll say something like, “And then I was talking to Jenny, and she was going on and on about her car.” BOOM. Opening detected. That’s when I can go, “Can I be honest? I’m not wild about her,” and then my wife will go, “RIGHT? SHE FUCKING BLOWS!” And that’s always a sweet little moment.

So there’s a chance that your fiancée knows exactly how terrible her friend is, but keeps her around out of loyalty, or pity, or obligation, or because the terrible friend told one funny joke eight years ago. You know your fiancée better than anyone. If you sense any exasperation on her part, you’re free to dip your toe into the water and see what happens.

Email of the week!

John:

I just listened to the podcast where you talked about your idea for real mini golf where it’s played on pristine grass by pompous rich people and I wanted to let you know such a thing exists. Please enjoy the world of the St. Andrews Ladies’ Putting Club, which is held in St. Andrews on a putting course called the Himalayas. It’s uber exclusive and holds numerous competitions among members to see who is the best “putter” (aka mini golfer). The course is open for public play, but if the Ladies’ Putting Society chooses to hold a match they can kick anyone off the course at any time. I thought you might get a kick out of this.

I indeed do. Also if those snobby ladies ever try to kick me off their course they’ll get a putter right to the grill.