Before I get into the Bag, I'm here to announce that my third novel, Point B, is available right now as both an eBook and a paperback. If you get the eBook, Amazon lets you loan it out to save some dough. I'd toss in an ironic joke here that you cannot do the same with a paperback, but actually you kinda CAN'T loan out a real book to people right now. There's a Little Free Library in our hood that's gone untouched for, like, two months. Everything around me now is a Hemingway short story.
Anyway, let's get to your letters, shall we? Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag.
When are we as a society going to stop giving Florida credit for having good weather? It's nice for maybe two months out of the year. It's otherwise insufferably hot and humid.
Florida has long since managed to cancel out their weather reputation by being our most reliably insane state. I know Georgia is gunning for the title right now with a fierceness, but no one will ever be able to out-Florida Florida. So I'm fine to cede weather dominance to them. Yes, that state is a dirty aquarium 10 months out of the year, but that weather is only insufferable if you LIVE there. For those of us up north, the idea of suffocating under Florida's angry humidity is part of its allure. It's the end of April and it's still 48 degrees where I live right now. I have half a mind to break quarantine and DRIVE to fucking Sarasota to get some relief. I would kill to be deathly hot on a beach somewhere. Florida is reliable for that kinda shit. It ranks right up there on the list of places you love to visit but would absolutely never live in. You know, like Greenland.
It really is amazing how many places on this Earth are aesthetically stunning and simultaneously plagued with the worst mankind has to offer. Looking at you, Deep South.
Why do advertisers recycle ads a few months or even years after their initial ad cycle? For example, the annoying "she shed" State Farm ad that ran a year or two ago and was ubiquitous last summer. I know GEICO is re-running old ads as some sort of voting contest and that's a little more transparent, but that's not really what I'm talking about. Do State Farm and other advertisers thing we have such short term memory issues that we can't remember that these ads were run last year?
They know you've seen all that shit before. But they also know that they can put an ad on hiatus and then reintroduce it back into the rotation after a while to save money on making new ads AND to keep revenues up. They have metrics that determine something called "wearout," which is when an audience has seen an ad too many times in too short of a timeframe. When wearout sets in, companies are burning money and their sales go down. But if they only air an ad in thick, separate chunks on a media buy, then they can avoid those pitfalls. I promise you that wearout has been more intensively studied over the past two decades than, like, cancer. More legwork goes into determining when and where to place an ad than into the ad itself. Even your local defense attorney knows this process intimately.
Also, bringing an old ad back into the fold has the bonus effect of triggering immediate recognition from the viewer at home. Even if you have a DVR and are skipping past all the ads, if you see ONE frame from an old ad your brain goes oh hey it's that old Pizza Hut ad again. Pizza Hut pays big money for that single synapse to fire. NOT AT ALL TERRIFYING!
Why don't chip makers produce snack size bags of plain tortilla chips? They have plain Fritos and plain potato chips in smaller one serving bags. Come on BIG SNACK!
Because no one will ever buy them. I have seen single serving bags of plain tortilla chips out in the wild. They're usually the last thing left in a depleted vending machine, with an off-brand name like Hoof's or Bread & Dandy. No one buys that shit, because why would you ever eat plain tortilla chips without any dip? Like, if you carry a small Tupperware of garbage salsa on you at all times, maybe you have use for a sad little bag of plain Tostitos. Maybe Bon Appetit told you to be that anal retentive. But the rest of us have no salsa or guac in our utility belts, which means the extra flavor has to already be ON the chip when we buy it, in the form of cheese dust or some other mass-processed, epicurological weapon. I like eating plain tortilla chips when I'm bored and nothing else is around, but all I'm really doing is making myself thirsty and fat. I sure as shit ain't hunting down tinyass bags of unflavored Doritos as a matter of choice. I want salsa, and when I have it, I want a bag of chips the size of a pillowcase to accompany it.
By the way, if you wanna bitch about there being no snack bags of Hint of Lime chips, them I'm with you. Those are good on their own. For my kids, they are the most vital quarantine sundry. We could run out of milk and eggs and bread and they wouldn't give half a shit. But when we run out of Hint of Lime chips? REVOLUTION. I had to risk life and limb the other week by stopping at a 7-11 specifically to buy three more bags of these chips. No one inside was wearing a mask. When I reach the Land of the Dead, I'm gonna beat the shit out of that Ernesto de la Cruz for stealing all of my songs.
Also, Fritos are NOT a tortilla chip. Whole other kind of corn chip. I know this because I dipped a bunch of Fritos Scoops into salsa during quarantine. It wasn't the same.
Why is 1994 always considered the best movie year ever? Obviously there were some great movies, but there are great movies every year. What makes 1994 so special?
Pulp Fiction. That's why. Every guy my age busted his movie buff cherry watching that movie. Suddenly bros who were only into shitty Seagal movies in the '80s were like, "See now the Douglas Sirk steak they serve at Jack Rabbit Slim's was an homage to the director of the same name!" If you'd like to pinpoint the exact moment movie people became insufferable, that's the movie and that's the year. Every movie that Tarantino junkies have seen after that can only be seen in reference to Pulp Fiction.
I am one such bro. 1994 was the my favorite year of movies personally (I promise I won't do a serial podcast about this) because of Pulp Fiction, and because of Nobody's Fool, Fresh, The Last Seduction, Clerks, Red Rock West (which came out overseas in 1993 but didn't come out in the US until January of '94), and, deep sigh, The Shawshank Redemption. Those are all really fucking good movies, and people my age are liable to pounce on them and declare them indelible cultural milestones that cannot ever be duplicated. It's the same shit dads do with dad rock, or that Star Wars fans do with Star Wars. You are being choked to death by old people's nostalgia, which is how certain takes become conventional wisdom even when they're easily debatable. If you have a better movie year (I personally think 2007 was also bonkers), don't let the self-appointed custodians of the MONOCULTURE tell you that you're wrong.
For real though, see Red Rock West. I don't know if it's easy to find (unless you still have Netflix's DVD delivery service!), but it's worth it once you hit paydirt. I remember when Nicolas Cage used to give a shit.
Isn't it time the phone companies (or whomever) stop programming the "Your call has been forwarded to an automated voice message system" spiel for when you call a cell phone?
The blame lies more with whoever you're calling, because that spiel is just the default generic message they put in place for voice calls. No one ever changes their greeting anymore because no one ever uses voicemail, except for doctor's offices calling to tell you that your pap smear tested positive for lupus. I'm not sure even I have a voicemail greeting. Hang on lemme see…
Okay I have one. "This is Drew! Leave a message!" That's what you hear when you call me and I ignore you. I used to put real thought and care into these greetings. I grew up in the golden age of jokey answering machine messages. They used to sell tapes with parody greetings on them.
That shit was $14.95 plus shipping and handling! OUTRAGEOUS. I have half a mind to call those people up and ream them out to my own reworked cover of "Overkill" by Men at Work.
I can't get to sleep.
I'm tired of all your … machinations.
GENIUS. By the way, this trend still has a faint heartbeat. My 14-year-old once had a greeting on her phone that was her in a pretend grownup voice saying, "Hello. You've reached the most important person in the world," and it slayed me. Then she switched it to a message where she fakes picking up, so all you hear is her going "Hello?" before the beep. THAT I did not find quite as amusing. I fell for it every time. I'm sending that girl to military school.
Where is the worst place to be when all gravity is lost? Like everything goes floating and shit. No control. My number one is a porta-potty. Flying shit has gotta be horrendous. My number two is a steakhouse kitchen. You would have flying Australians, big knives, and raw meat flying a kajillion miles per hour at your face.
I like that you said "when" all gravity is lost and not "if." Given present circumstances, I can't blame you for being so certain. After all, why WOULDN'T gravity just stop? Why wouldn't we become un-tethering from the planet and float into the thermosphere, where we would all be fried to death by cosmic radiation? That was always God's plan.
So WHEN that happens, the worst place to be would be anywhere without a ceiling. The good news is that we're ALL inside right now, so only a few of us would be victimized by this Opposite Rapture. The rest of us would remain in quarantine, only glued to the ceiling. FUN! Literally a whole new perspective on things!
I'd also like to salute Garrett for assuming all steakhouse kitchens are staffed by Australians. Unfortunately, I don't believe your local Outback has any employees that hail from my birthplace. The dude preparing your Gold Coast Coconut Shrimp for pickup is a dude named Bobby who's sick of manning the grill while having to wear a surgical mask. I can still think of much worse COVERED places to be stuck when Gravipocalypse takes hold. The White House, for instance. Or the aforementioned port-a-potty. OR an elementary school gym. You know how fucking hot those things get? Imagine being plastered to the rafters in a 100-degree gym with a bunch of first graders bitching for Gatorade. After half an hour, I would swim over to the door so that the skies could claim me.
Neck-up picture, what kinda athlete you got yourself pegged as? I think baseball or beach volleyball. Which sport(s) would you want people to say?
I'm 43 and I have no chin. My face SCREAMS golfer. I do not want a golfer face. For the first half of my life, I wanted a football player face. I did the thing in team portraits where you tuck your head down into your neck so that it looks thicker and you look like an angry bouncer. No one was impressed by this. I looked like a bad golfer trying to look like a football player. If you, Brian, really do look like a beach volleyball player, I will steal your face and wear it as my own. THE LADIES WILL GO WILD.
What is a more effective defense, moat in front of wall, or wall in front of moat? Does the answer vary in terms of sandcastle building vs. in medieval times?
I always dig the trench in front of the sandwall at the beach because, obviously, it doesn't matter if there's a moat BEHIND the wall. Once the water hits the wall, the wall is done. Your castle will be gone within minutes. If you have ANOTHER wall behind that moat and that's the only wall you care about, then I guess the first wall served some kind of purpose. But you could've spent that whole time funneling hard seltzer instead. So who's the REAL loser here?
As for actual castle defense, I'm torn. Having a moat behind the wall is a nice way to greet your invaders with a solid kick in the nuts. They spent all that time scaling the battlements, and now they gotta cross a fucking river? That's the war equivalent of waiting to ride Space Mountain. HOWEVER, if you put the moat in front of the wall, that gives you time to sit up on the wall to shoot arrows at all the Uruk-hai, throw rocks at them, tilt cauldrons of boiling oil down onto them, etc. Quite the luxury. I guess I'll take the moat, then the wall, THEN the forest of poisoned brambles. Poisoned brambles are always the last obstacle in any fairy tale.
How come Burger King is the only major national fast food chain to have onion rings on the menu? I'm asking because onion rings generally rule whereas Burger King generally sucks (though 10 nugs for a buck fifty is a truly unbeatable deal). Surely, say, Wendy's or McDonald's could put out a better onion ring, right? Why don't they?
Wendy's will put rings on your burger but won't sell them as a side item. McDonald's sold a bacon smokehouse burger for a while that had onion strings on it (TAKE: onion strings > onion rings) for a millisecond before discontinuing it. They, like Wendy's, do not sell rings as a side dish. Why? Because there's no financial upside to them doing it. Everyone would still order fries instead. Also, having employees keep onion rings uniform in size AND keep the fryers clean of batter isn't worth the extra effort. Places like Mickey D's are only gonna sell shit if it's easy to make, easy to keep consistent across franchises, and everyone buys it all the time. Even though onion rings are a god food, they don't tick all of those boxes.
This is shitty because once we all get the green light to head back outside, Mickey D's will be the only restaurant left standing. There may not be a joint that sell rings for MILES, and I'm not counting Burger King here because Burger King is the fucking worst. We're about to live in a world where onion rings are as rare and as valuable as fuel is along Fury Road. Gonna be fucking weird.
Would you rather have no professional baseball career or be the all time leader in all statistical categories in the minor leagues but 0-100 in all major league at-bats?
The latter. I know that MLB is about to surgically remove the minor leagues from its own body, and I know that minor leaguers are both underpaid AND bored all the time. But I would very much like to have been good enough at baseball to be a minor league Hall of Famer. I never hit a home run as a kid in a baseball game. Do you know what I'd fucking give to be able to do that, at ANY level? And I get to go to The Show to boot? Fuck yeah I want all that. I don't care if I strike out 100 times in the bigs. I get to go to the bigs! I'd feel like a god.
There's a marked difference in how you perceive this shit when you're just a fan instead of an actual player. If you make it to MLB, that's a huge fucking deal. If you make a movie and it comes out in theaters, again: Huge fucking deal. Doesn't matter if your movie sucks, or if you never win a title. Fans might bitch, but YOU will be overjoyed if you get to be part of any of that. So sign my ass up for a decorated career playing center field for the Little Rock Mud Hogs. I wouldn't complain, except when my teammates shit in my cleats as a prank. Then I'll be a touch piqued.
Growing up, our family would host and attend a lot of neighborhood "BBQs." We called them BBQs and they usually consisted of hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages, salads, etc. It's recently been suggested to me that our term BBQ is deceiving, and it should be called a "cookout" because a BBQ implies things like ribs, chicken, pulled pork, etc. I understand those are BBQ foods, but I've always thought the term BBQ just meant grilling food and having people over to eat outside. Is this another regional thing?
It's a regional thing that became a foodie thing. I'm like you. When I was growing up, we called any cookout a barbecue. Anything cooked on a grill—ANY grill—was barbecue. If you ask pit masters in Texas, this is the wrong way of using that word. The only real barbecue is meat cooked slow and low in a smoker. And okay, fine. As a single-A level smokeboy, I'm can accept those guys making the distinction. They've earned the right.
But then, sometime last decade, every motherfucker in America decided to become a barbecue snob. So now if you grill a hot dog and dare to call it "barbecue," they'll shove your face into the burner. People need to chill out with this kinda shit. Like it's one thing to argue about it online. That's what the Internet is for. But if you correct someone on this in person? Get fucked. Go throw your own dick on the grill.
Why don't more ex-players become refs in their sport? Is it perceived bias for their old team? Poor pay? Simple lack of desire? If you don't take the broadcast or coach career track, it seems like a good way to stay in the game, right?
I mean, you've seen the way refs get treated by players, coaches, and fans, yeah? Why would any big shot athlete sign up for that kind of abuse? They just spent decades having everyone nutting all over them. They're not gonna sign up for the exact opposite job, no matter how much they may still love the game. Even when sports come back, the refs will still get treated like sewage. No one is gonna be like SO GLAD TO SEE YOU AGAIN, JEROME BOGER! They'll throw a beer at poor Jerome and spit coronavirus spores on him.
The only example I know of a notable pro athlete turning ref is local legend Adrian Dantley, who played in the NBA before becoming a youth league zebra. One of my kids played in a game that Dantley officiated. He did a great job. And really, if he had sucked, who was gonna let him know it? That's Adrian Dantley, man. He could dunk your balls through the net if you stepped to him.
Which food has the least satisfying final bite? I'm going with yogurt—by the time you're finished with the container, you're scraping whatever dried remnants of the yogurt you can find in the bottom of the cup into the lip of your spoon trying to get something that resembles a full bite.
You're not gonna like my answer, but it's a sandwich. You've already eaten the meaty insides of that Italian sub, and now you're left with a corner morsel of crust with a couple shreds of lettuce hanging on for dear life in between. If it's a WET sandwich like a roast beef au jus, that's a whole other story. But a basic sandwich is designed to make you sad by the time you're down to the final bite. No more of the good stuff. It's like taking a bite from a sandwich they made wrong.
Another spicy answer here would be pizza. I'm notorious for leaving my crust on the plate. But even when the crust is amazing, the final bite you take of that final slice is really just for posterity. It's the last thing you eat at the Pizza Hut lunch buffet before you go vomit into a mop bucket.
What is the oldest a person has ever been who could still throw a fastball equal to his age? Do you think there are any 80+ year old men who can throw an 80+ mph fastball?
No, but Nolan Ryan is 73 and you bet your ass that old man can still throw his age. If you go through the history of MLB pitchers, I bet a few of them were able to clock a decent fastball well into their late 70s and beyond. A 70mph fastball is pathetic for these guys, age be damned. You don't lose them fast twitches. I'll say 79.
Email of the week!
I live in Brooklyn with my wife, son and daughter. I woke up this morning and took a shower, as everyone else slept, as I always do. The shower would not drain properly. I was SO pissed. I was convinced that one or both of my children put something in the drain. Disgusted, I decided to plunge the tub. Then I'd tidy up and finish my shower. I tell my wife what happened and that I handled it, no big deal, I'm the hero. I'm just a dutiful spouse and father. No problem. But no amount of plunging would get the job done AND the plunger was partially broken. So I assumed I needed a better plunger.
I finished my shower standing in contaminated water and I dressed for work. I went to the closest bodega. Surprisingly, they had everything I needed: I bought a new plunger, a gallon of bleach and Drano. I trudged back home. Everyone was awake. I explained the situation. I went back to the bathroom. I started the process again. No progress at all. The water barely moved. I was imagining all the ridiculous obstructions, the cost, the inconvenience of it all and the rank injustice to me personally. I plunged. I poured bleach. I plunged. I was late for work. Breakfast was half made. I was about to pour Drano (the toxic nuclear option) when my son (age 7) walked in, bent down, and pulled up on the lever that controls the drain. IT HAD BEEN PARTIALLY CLOSED THE WHOLE TIME.