Illustration by Cathryn Virginia

Buy More Fireworks

Time for your weekly edition of Drew Magary’s Funbag. Today, we're talking about baseball, sandwiches, birthdays, mustard, and more.
June 24, 2020, 6:00pm

Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s new novel while you’re at it. Your letters:


Are fireworks number one on the list of wasteful purchases??

Did someone say fireworks?

I spent the bulk of Sunday night seeing tweets about fireworks without understanding what the fuck anyone was referring to. This is how I get news now. I see the reaction to things before knowing the things. Someone will tweet, “Well I guess Rupert Grint is cancelled now” and then I have to do the absolute lamest bit of detective work to find the source of the cancellation.


I digress. The fireworks. People are setting off loudass fireworks right now because they’re still in quarantine (or at least partial quarantine) and there’s nothing better to do. But this is America. In America, we can Pizzagate anything. Hence, the fireworks are a conspiracy, so much so that the mayor of New York, who is as useless a human being as has ever been sculpted by the almighty, is setting up a goddamn fireworks task force within the NYPD.

If some neighborhood teen kept waking me up at 4am every night because they were setting off M80s, I too would yell at them to get off my lawn. Also, I would be jealous of that teen. Because fireworks are NOT a wasteful purchase, Adam. Far from it. Going to fireworks is old and tiring. You smother yourself in DEET and then wait—two hours longer than you want to—for the town of Shipsbury to light $5,000 on fire. That’s miserable. But buying fireworks for YOU and only you? Fantastic. Two years ago, I went to downtown DC and bought a shitload of fireworks from a pop-up stand. They were a ripoff because fireworks always are. But I took them home for the Fourth, got absolutely HAMMERED, and then set them off in the backyard. I even had the kids help. We’d light the fuse together and then run our asses off before the blast came. What felt like a ripoff became a goddamn bargain. It was, no lie, the best July 4th we’d ever had. It was also loud as balls. Glad my neighbors were out of town for that otherwise they’d have called the FBI on me. Buy more fireworks and FUCK Bill de Blasio.



If your birthday is on a Wednesday, is the weekend before or after your "birthday weekend"?

Do you drink? Then it’s both.

My wife has a hard law that you have to hit the birthday BEFORE you can begin milking it for gifts and excuses to drink yourself stupid. Now, you and I both know that any determined lush can find those excuses at ANY time, including right before breakfast. But I also went through that phase in my 20s where people I knew would plan out their own birthday weekends like they were organizing a fucking wedding. “Well we’ll have the rehearsal birthday dinner on Thursday at a place I like 30 miles from everyone’s apartment, then we’ll have the formal birthday dinner at Le Bernardin, and then we’ll do a birthday brunch the next morning somewhere that has a long wait, and THEN it’s off to Rio!” People like that are fucking annoying. We don’t wanna go nuts celebrating life, you know. There are some days when I can’t even remember my OWN age (it’s 43…?). I have no issue with this.

So I’m more than happy to acquiesce to my wife’s mandate, if only so our kids don’t labor under the impression that their respective birthdays get to last longer than Wimbledon. Once you become a parent, curtailing birthday excess becomes a VITAL exercise. My youngest kid didn’t get a birthday party in April because of the virus. He’s waiting to cash in that chit. Tells us about it almost every day. I promised his ass a half-birthday party come October, but that he ain’t having that party until the day in question. Even re-drawn lines must be drawn.


By the way, if you’re the type to milk your birthday AND you’re no longer a servant to BIG EDUCATION, Wednesday is probably the best day for your birthday to land. It gives you and your ego permission to have a spiritual five-day weekend. An 11-day weekend if you’re just appallingly vain.


Do you have a favorite and/or least favorite vegetable on sandwiches?

Iceberg lettuce. I’m not even sure iceberg lettuce counts as a vegetable. It has all the nutritional value of a kite. But I do enjoy a fat layer of iceberg inside any sandwich or burger I eat. I need that crunch, amigo. Other lettuces are better for you, but who gives a shit? I’m eating an Italian sub here. Three spinach leaves won’t gonna negate the rest of its harm.

Second place goes to anything pickled. I could go the full yuppie and nominate pickled red onions, but really any pickle will do. Gives me the fabled HIT OF ACID to balance out the 12 pounds of capicola I piled on that shit.

I have no unorthodox vegetable needs for my sandwich. If I wanted vegetables, I wouldn’t be eating a sandwich to begin with. Subway doesn’t have a DOUBLE VEGGIE option. I keep it extremely basic. To that end, my least favorite vegetable on a sandwich is a tomato. I used to hate raw tomatoes as a kid. I liked tomato sauce but not tomatoes. This is a standard kid hangup. I love raw tomatoes now, but on a sandwich they still get in the way. The slices usually come from a bad tomato. They also still manage to overpower the taste of everything else between the bread before slipping out. They’re annoying. I pick them out. I’m sure there are worse vegetables to put on a sandwich. An entire crown of broccoli, for example. But crowns of broccoli usually aren’t available at the fixins bar. That’s not an eminent sandwich danger the way a shitty tomato is.


Oh, and olives. I fucking hate olives. If you consider olives a fruit and not a vegetable, whatever. I still want them to stay away from my Panini.


Let’s say a baseball game didn’t have a set number of innings. Instead, the game would only end when the losing team forfeits. How long would the average game be?

If they changed the rules so that you could only win a baseball game via submission, no baseball game would ever end. These players are proud men. Annoyingly so. They’re already willing to play a standard, six-hour American League game. 162 times a year, no less. They would keep playing a single game until they dropped dead. Would make for a FANTASTIC Stephen King novella. If baseball allowed the players breaks to sleep and eat and fuck, they could and would keep a single game up for a year.

This is interesting because (nerd voice) you could extrapolate a season’s worth of stats from that single game. Let’s say the 2019 Twins played one game against the 2019 Detroit Tigers that lasted six months. The Twins scored 939 runs last year. The Tigers scored 582. Ergo, the Twins would win that game 939-582. That’s just common sabermetrics, folks. The Tigers would start smoking cigarettes in the outfield sometime around the 500th inning.


I'm not a dad yet, but I already wonder how in the world I can teach my children to be good, and kind, and empathetic when the world constantly blares at them that they will be actively rewarded for being a fucking dick.


You’re too bogged down thinking about this in material terms. Yes, human history has proven favorable to some truly AWFUL people. That’s been especially true for the past four years. It’s hard to watch Donald Trump become President and not come to believe that trying to be a good person is a waste of fucking time. But if it WERE a waste of time, you wouldn’t see people speaking up. You wouldn’t see hundreds of thousands of people crowding the streets and braving the threat of being tear-gassed because they believe our police departments are a violent, racist, and wasteful manifestation of a flawed society. They’re not doing this because it’s gonna make them rich. They’re doing it because they’re inherently good, and they would like the world to be good as well. And who says that isn’t rewarding? What’s more fun than telling a cop to fuck off? That’s a priceless experience, in my opinion. This side is more fun. Maybe it’s in service of a losing cause. Maybe racism and outright scummery will still prevail. But there are still greater rewards on this side than there are being on the other one. Love is more fun than hate. Take it from a hater.

So teach your kids to be good. As a parent, you’re still a much more powerful influence that the culture around them. You may not always feel that way, especially if you have a 14-year-old, as I do. You can’t control the world, but you can teach your kids the whole truth about it, and teach them why it needs to be better. That’s you doing your tiny part: raising your kid to not be a piece of shit. You can still pull this off. And then, when your kids do turn out to be good people, that’s the reward. Being good isn’t a fucking chore. I know it can feel that way at times, but listen to Pierce Brosnan:


Maybe you find me on a good day here, Drew. I'm just happy to have gotten through the week's work and not have bumped into the furniture. I don't know, mate, I have no idea. I think one tries to be good. I think it's good to be good. It's easier to be good than bad!

If Pierce Brosnan believes that, you probably should, too. I know people who have had no kids because they think it would be a disservice to both the world and to those prospective offspring. This is defeatist horseshit and I don’t like it. It presumes your life is inexorably tied to world events—which is a feeling that the Internet only exacerbates on a daily basis—but a life can also be its own thing, lived and judged on its own merits. And on those merits, being good is always worthwhile, no matter what else is going on. If it was mean to a kid to birth them into this world, no one in the Middle Ages would have EVER fucked.


What's the cheapest, heaviest thing? If I had $100, what's the heaviest thing I could buy?

My gut answer was water. I have lugged enough water coolers and packs of bottled water around in my time to know that water is fat. And water is cheap, too. For now. By 2050, fresh water will sell for $500 a gallon. But seawater will still be free and unreasonably weighty. You would not be able to carry $100 worth of bottled water all by your lonesome.

HOWEVER, I did find heavier shit. Sand, for instance. A cubic meter of water weighs 1,000kg, or just over a ton. But a cubic meter of dry sand weighs 1,631kg. I bought a five-dollar bag of sand months ago and carrying it to my backyard was the hardest I’ve worked this year. I do not recommend carrying sand. It’s an unfair substance. Also, cinder blocks costs a buck. Each. Buy a hundred of those and you could build a fucking prison. Cinder blocks are probably the champ.


You can also buy lead. I found lead for sale on Etsy. $28 gets you a pack of 10 one-pound ingots. PERFECT for stocking stuffers this Christmas. It’s pricier than sand and cinder blocks, although our Etsy seller here may have indulged in a markup or two. The point remains that there is a thriving market out there for heavy shit in bulk. I know because we’ve bought mulch. My wife curses mulch. To think that you have to pay for that shit. Absurd.



In a street fight battle to the death, who wins: Mike Trout with a bat vs JJ Watt in full pads?

The bat. I played football for 10 years. Trust me, the pads don’t make you invulnerable to a beatdown. Still hurts pretty bad. If it didn’t, retired NFL players would still have their brains. Also, do you see JJ Watt wearing tibia pads? You do not. All Trout would have to do is break his legs to get him down. After that, it’s all over.


Over a normal lifetime, what's the total length of time someone spends farting? Obviously, each individual fart is a short duration, but some of us (ahem) are prone to greater frequency than others. Is it measured in minutes? Hours? Is there some poor soul whose tally reaches into days?

Let’s do some more math, shall we? According to this Quora person—and what better source is there to consult on such matters?—the average person farts 517,387.5 times in a lifetime. I’ll take the math from here and assume that the average fart lasts a second. That might be generous, but I’ll also assume that lengthy chili farts and concealed, slow-drip elevator farts help get the average up there. That’s 8,623.125 minutes of farting, or 143.719 hours. Divide again and you spend roughly six days of your life farting.


That’s not all that surprising, or even gross. You fart every day. It’s gonna add up. Plus it’s not like you only fart while you’re farting. I like to make a show of farting, like any good dad does. But I also fart while sleeping, while working, while reading, while driving, while exercising, and while shopping. I multitask. I get those farts in wherever I can. So it’s not like you could isolate, on tape, six days of your mom farting and ONLY farting. Life allows for other activities to coincide with all that flatulence.


How would you rank the varieties of the one, true go-to sandwich condiment: mustard? Off the top of my head, I can think of traditional yellow, honey, Dijon, spicy brown, deli, and stadium. There must be more. Also, this ranking is in a vacuum, regardless of what sandwich the mustard is dressing.

I came to mustard late. I didn’t like it when I was a kid. It frightened me. Then I had a sandwich with honey mustard on it (no extra veggies, tho) and that turned me. That was my gateway drug to other mustards, and I haven’t looked back. One of the first things I ever taught myself to cook was mustard chicken. Slather some chicken breast in mustard, coat it with bread crumbs, and then fry it in a skillet. It is a goddamn mess? Yes. Will it impress a date? KINDA BUT NOT REALLY. So my mustard rankings are probably not gonna reflect the feelings of the greater mustard hive, but lemme cook them up anyway:


  • Dijon.
  • Whole grain. Makes me feel fancy.
  • Deli mustard, which is coarse like whole grain but not THAT coarse. You can spread it instead of watching it fall off the bread like a handful of gravel.
  • Yellow.
  • Honey. I know there are people out there who despise honey mustard. But I’m an American, so I welcome the addition of corn syrup to any foodstuff. Put it in my gorgonzola. I’m not picky. And fancy honey mustard is even better.
  • Spicy brown. My wife is half-German and lemme tell you something: Germans do not fuck around with mustard. Their mustard is BLAZING hot. One time I ate some authentic German mustard and my eyeballs nearly fell out of my head. Good mustard though. Would eat again.
  • Regular brown. Whoa hey this isn’t stripping my sinuses bare? Where’s the thrill, I ask you?
  • Chinese takeout mustard packets. This is also insanely hot mustard. I’m too cowardly to put it on my cold sesame noodles.


Last year I encountered no less than a hundred Metallica-t-shirt-wearers in and around my city’s public transportation system. Turns out there was a Metallica concert that day. I’d describe the majority of the fans as being in the 40-60 demographic and likely to be rocking very cheap sunglasses. Most looked mildly to severely out of shape. Which got me thinking: which band/artist has the highest percentage of in-shape fans?

I wanna say Beyoncé, but Beyoncé is too popular for that to work. You need someone with a niche fanbase that represents a perfect Venn diagram overlap with overconscious health nuts. That leaves me with, like, Enya. You’re not gonna hear Enya outside of, like, a hot yoga class.


I’d like to think there are some more hardcore artists that appeal to weightlifters and other beefy steakheads. I’ve watched enough dudes do squats to Biohazard to know that SOME Biohazard fans take their fitness seriously. But I’ve also seen enough slobs in Biohazard shirts to cancel that other faction out 100 times over. Maybe there’s some artist who’s big with Peleton owners. Let’s say Calvin Harris because that’s the first person I thought of. If the music makes you move, you’re gonna drop some calories.


What percentage of Olympic medalists have worn a medal during sex?

100% of the men. I’ll say 50% of the women medalists have, while the other 50% have had to turn down repeated requests to throw it on while doing the reverse cowgirl.


I remember being in my early teens and thinking my dad only had me in order to have someone help him with all his chores. My oldest is now 12 and I just realized I can order him around to do stuff for me. I was on the couch watching TV and asked him to run upstairs and get me a drink. He did this willingly and with enthusiasm. He is so young and energetic, he came bounding happily down the stairs with the drink and nary a complaint, not even of knee pain or an achy back. Now I find myself slipping in to these types of requests all this time with no good reason. I could easily go down in the basement or get off the couch but now I just ask him. How long until he starts to resent me: before or after I die of a coronary from being an unnecessarily sedentary excuse for a human being?


Well he’s 12, so that gives you precisely one more year before he become an Official Teen and starts giving you heaping helpings of THE TUDE. You will not feel bad about this. You shall feast upon his tears while kicking back with summer shandy. That’s your right as a parent. I resented doing chores for my folks, and I still bitch about having to do dishes at their house when I visit. But still I do them and I still love my folks anyways.

My kids do chores. The 14-year-old does the dishes every night. The boys take out the garbage and set the table. These are fairly basic chores, but they don’t bitch too much about doing them. From preschool on, parents are told that it’s important for their kids to have jobs. They like having jobs. They like feeling useful and having shit to do, even if that shit sucks. I’m the same way. If I sat around all day with the children at my beck and call, then I’d start to feel worthless and unproductive. I like striking just the right balance between vigor and sloth, and I think my kids are slowly learning to seek out that balance, too. They’re still lazy as shit, but it’s a process.


If you could time travel back to witness one event from your own life or a person(s) you love (wife, parents, grandparents, etc.) what would it be? Would you participate? Reveal yourself? Would yer Mom try to get it like Marty McFly's mom? Do you believe in the fading-hand theory?


Does fucking count? Because I’d probably just go back and watch myself doin’ it. I’m shallow like that. I would NOT jump into the fray and attempt a threesome with my past clone. That would freak everyone out. I dunno if it would rip the fabric of the space-time continuum, but it would definitely rip the fabric of my otherwise pristine reputation.

If we’re taking sex out of the equation, then I’d probably join the Ghost Of Christmas Past and go back to the first time I got drunk. It was in eighth grade, in a parking lot outside a school dance. I drank peach schnapps. It tasted fucking AMAZING to me. I wouldn’t mind hiding behind a lamppost and watching that night unfold in all its awkward glory. Everyone bitches about the middle school years but some of that shit sticks with you forever, in a good way.

I’d also go to my parents' wedding. I would sit in the way back and make sure I wasn’t noticed. Then I’d cry.


At what speed would somebody have to run before it was considered a superpower? Usain Bolt has maxed out at 27.8 mph, but if he ran 35mph, it wouldn’t make much of a difference to society. What speed are we thinking? 100mph? 300mph? There must be a line somewhere.

Yeah 35 mph is, ironically, too slow. At 35 mph Bolt would be a freak and a historic curiosity, much as he is now, but NOT a superhero. In order to be a superhero, your skills have to be so far from normal human capabilities that you can, like, USE them for things beyond just using them for show. If Bolt could run 100mph, he could chase down terrorists. THEN you got yourself a superhero.

Email of the week!


A few years back, I went with my dad to the Rockets-Pacers game on Easter Sunday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The seats were 2 rows behind the visiting Rockets' bench, and we arrived early to watch both teams warm up.

Dwight Howard was practicing three-pointer shots by our seats, and a kid from a few rows back comes down the aisle to ask Dwight for his rubber bracelet. Dwight hands him the ball, and says he will give the bracelet to him if he can hit the net from the 3 mark. I shit you not, this small child drains a three pointer from NBA range to the surprise of Dwight Howard and to the applause of the small crowd gathered. Dwight hands him the bracelet, but jokingly says that he didn't see the net move so it doesn't count. My dad turns to me, and says "I'll tell you what, I'm a Dwight Howard fan now!" A feel-good story, yes. But clearly my father doesn't follow professional basketball.

That’s okay. Neither does Dwight Howard.