This article originally appeared on VICE US.
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My dear 80-something year old dad is normal in every respect. Except, he collects McDonald's receipts. Yes, that McDonald's. At last count he had 808 of the damn things. He keeps the hard copy and has built a spreadsheet to categorize his prized collection. I told him I would never make it the family business, but the old con artist has me—and others—chasing the damn things down on our worldly travels. I recently brought back four from South Africa. This is insane and nothing good can come from this, right?
Nothing good can come from it, but nothing BAD can, either. Maybe he wants to write it all off on his taxes at the end of every year. A savvy move. I bet he also frames all of the McRib receipts he finds. I know I would.
I would say your dad is nuts, but my old man collects antique railroad timetables, which is more charming but still a decidedly niche hobby. Here is a theory I just made up that I know, instinctively, is correct: The Internet killed collections. All of them. Your old man is 80, so he grew up in an age where collecting shit was a form of entertainment, and he never lost that interest even as other forms of entertainment sprung up around him. But younger generations don’t need to collect things. They can just play shitty iPhone games interrupted by ads for some other game called He Be Cheatin’ every other level. So even though your old man is uselessly hoarding McCafe receipts, he also represents the last of a literally dying breed.
I don’t collect anything apart from mysterious head injuries. I don’t collect stamps, or coins, or rare books, or baseball cards, or vinyl records, or any of that shit. My daughter now owns 57 different hoodies, but that’s less her collecting them than her just being an eighth grader. My seven-year-old, in between stints jumping around on the furniture, told me the other day that he’s done with toys. Straight up. The toy phase of his childhood is over, which means that the ad hoc collection of Nerf guns and Marvel bullshit we have in the basement is destined for Goodwill shortly. Pretty soon all we’ll have in this house are charging cables and unused bottles of various novelty hot sauces. We won’t have things. I’d like to think this helps reduce global waste, but I already know that my phone alone uses up more coal-powered electricity than an entire fucking Topps factory. The only collections a lot of people have now are creepy-ass John Lasseter-style collections of movie franchise toys, like Terminator figures that they scored from the higher-end kiosks at ComicCon.
Collections are interesting. Okay, maybe not a McDonald’s paperwork collection. But my dad does show his timetables every now and again. He used to work for a railroad, so he knows about all the lines and how the routes have changed over the decades and how the timetables reflect those changes. It’s interesting! Also, it tells you more about a person than just whatever shit they hearted on Twitter. To paraphrase Jack White, a collection is an artifact of you. So it’s cool to have one, no matter how seemingly inane it is. Me? I’m gonna start collecting Lee Ufan paintings. I may not have a full-time job at the moment but I can still probably swing it.
Professor Wepler’s class:
Is fat meat?
Yeah, and I’ll tell you why. Let’s say you don’t eat meat, be it for the sake of your health, or for ethical reasons, or because you want to be annoying at dinner parties. Are you exempting fat from your vegetarianism? You are not. You’re not going on a chicken skin-only diet, although I would support anyone who attempts one. The fat goes with the meat. It’s IN the meat. It’s what makes a piece of Wagyu beef cost more than hiring a full-time nanny. You cannot have meat without fat … unless you’re eating plain, skinless chicken breast, in which case God help you.
If you’re not buying that argument and believe that there’s still a spiritual distinction to made between eating JUST the white part of the bacon and not the red part, I’m not on board. Whether or not I eat the fat or just the pronounced flesh of an animal, I’m still doing it for the same reasons. I want all the salty, chewy, unctuous goodness. And I want my heart to stop by age 52. The Fat/Meat group is the ideal vessel for all of those desires. They are family. Kind of touching, when you think about it.
Every household in America has a plastic bag full of other plastic bags. Mine is no exception. Should the bag on the outside be your best bag (since it has to house all the other bags) or your worst bag (since it is the least likely to be used)?
I think it should be the good bag. You want it to be big, and you want it to be sturdy. I tried to do the bag of bags with a regular-ass plastic bag from the local Giant and watched, in dismay, as it buckled under the pressure and exploded on the hall closet door. And not just with bags, but with plastic seal coverings, shampoo twin-pack shrink wrap, popped bubble wrap, a Lady Gaga award show dress from 2009, and all the other assorted sheet plastic we recycle to make ourselves feel like we’re NOT actively helping destroy the Earth even though we TOTALLY are. I need that bag bag to hold up. Sometimes I stuff the bag so full that shit comes bursting out of the top and falls to the floor. And then I curse. I have zero sense of perspective.
I don’t know if you should use your BEST bag because, like my wife, you might be someone who cherishes good, disposable bags. My wife prizes those bags like they’re wedding presents. In our basement, we have a fucking pile of bags she’s deemed worthy of keeping: gift bags, upscale shopping bags, party bags, etc. I have seen her get a gift and get more excited for the fucking bag it came in. And even I get in on the act by going “Hey, that’s a nice bag!” when she gets back from a run at, like, Nordstrom Rack. We are bag ladies of the uppermost sort. So there’s no way we’d use some tasteful handled bag as a bag dumpster. Instead we’ll use, like, a Target bag. Those are big and durable. And it doesn’t break my wife’s heart to part ways with one. Use that. Don’t use the bag you filled with gummi worms at CandyWorld.
Is "boinking" an acceptable euphemism for sex?
Probably in Utah, but not for normal people in 2019. We’re all grownups now. We can call sex sex and fucking fucking. If you wanna get more creative than that, you can say your friends are humping, or boning, or goin’ at it, or doing it, or porkin’, or shtupping, or having a cum party, or listening to old D’Angelo albums all night. Those all work fine. “Boinking” is some shit I would have heard a schoolmarm say when I was growing up back in Minnesota in 1988. It’s the kind of word Trump would use during the 10 minutes of any given year when he feels like he has to watch his language. It’s not without its charms, but you’re dating yourself if you use it. Take from someone who is more often on the receiving end of OK BOOMER replies than on the giving end of them. I know outdated shit! Speaking of which…
Despite all my efforts to get them to love heavy metal, my kids are pop music fans. As I was stuck listening to it on a recent long car ride it occurred to me that nearly all the songs had some form of claps or snaps in them. We kept track and of the next 8 songs we heard, 7 of them had claps, snaps or both. Has it always been like this? Why is the clap/snap formula so popular right now?
Because it works. Also, it’s not a new formula. Ages ago, I watched a Behind the Music episode on John Mellencamp and they spent a solid ten minutes of that installment talking about the iconic handclaps on “Jack & Diane” (they were in the rough track to keep time and were meant to be removed from the final mix). Snaps and claps are foolproof because they sound good, AND because they’re an easy way to get the audience physically involved in a song, at a live concert or just bopping around in the car. My whole family can do the five claps from “Handclap” every time it comes on, and we do. Never gets old, amigo. Snaps and claps work.
You should accept that you’re probably not gonna get your kids into metal. I grew up loving hard rock and thinking pop music was for weak losers but I’m over that now. First thing I do when I get high these days is strap on a pair of cans and listen to “Done For Me.” I have no pop culture cred that I need to desperately preserve. I can just admit to myself that I enjoy a lot of this shit.
And it’s easier for me to adapt to my kids’ musical tastes than the other way around, especially now that they’re too old for Laurie Berkner or other expressly-for-children artists and they listen to actual, professional pop songs. These are good songs. By contrast, getting the kids to appreciate old Anthrax songs the way I do is like getting them to root for my favorite football team. It’s too much effort and it’s okay if there’s some shit I just enjoy on my own. Besides, while my seven-year-old does like heavier music now, I looked at his Spotify playlist and it was all, like, Linkin Park. Just one big list of shitty, turn-of-the-century nü-metal garbage. This is because he hears that shit in videogames. Everyone bitches about video games being too violent, but Blizzard slips some Incubus into a welcome menu and no one raises a red flag. THEY SHOULD.
So let go of your efforts and let their tastes blossom organically, for better or worse. I now like Carly Rae Jepsen, and my other son loves QOTSA because of an app he had that played it, so you get some surprises both ways when you let go.
If you’re still determined to convert your children, I will tell you that my brother was able to get his son into Iron Maiden because he took him to a live show, with lasers and big-ass Union Jacks flying and what not. Lasers help.
What are the chances that Trump has loudly farted in a meeting where no press is present and then made some unfunny joke about it?
Zero. Trump is scared of farts and poops and doesn’t want to be associated with them in any way. Here is what would happen if Trump unwittingly farted out loud in a meeting. The first thing he would do is try to ignore it. Then, a minute later, he would change his mind and tell the room that an underling, perhaps one of his chinless sons, dealt it. Then he would viciously mock them for farting in public. “That’s disgusting! You believe he broke wind like that? I’ve never broken wind like that. People tell me all the time Mister President it means so much to us that you don’t fart … how are you able to not fart?, and I answer them with one word: TALENT.” And then, the underling would confess to doing the fart. That’s how it would all go down. Gonna go jump into a bathtub with a running hand mixer now.
Is there an aspect of daily life that is worse than trying to walk another person through completing a task on their computer? You always have to point them to the exact spot on the screen to click, they always end up typing in the wrong place, and it takes a million percent longer than just doing it for them. The whole time you are standing there thinking what an idiot they are because they can’t use a fucking computer.
It’s horrible and I hate every second of it. I am the Nick Burns of my house. When the kids have a tech problem, they come to me. But they do not come to me calm and relaxed. No no no. If they can’t get a WiFi signal they instantly start to whine like they had a fucking limb amputated. I should take a moment here to note that this is surely a sign that I am shitty parent when it comes to screen time allotment. It also is yet another harbinger of mankind voluntarily ceding its own free will to The Machines. But I’m too online to REALLY do anything about that. My only concern is getting their computers fixed so that I don’t have to hear them caterwauling about needing their computers fixed. I can get it done, but the time it takes for me to get it done is fucking AGONY.
For example, my son had to print out a paper for his class the other day. He had the Google doc open on a Chromebook, but I couldn’t get that laptop to connect wirelessly to our shitty printer. So I told him to email the text to me and I’d print it from my account. But he couldn’t email me because he only has a school email address and they put a governor on the account that forbids him from emailing any addy outside the school system. This is a fine policy designed to stop my children from emailing with potential diddlers, but that didn’t stop me from cursing the policy directly to hell when it stood in MY way.
I got on the machine and tried to sort out a way to transfer the file. While that was happening, my son placed his head directly between my eyes and the screen, so he could see what I was doing. Then my other kids came over and joined in on the fun. They even started punching keys while I was still using the keyboard. I lost it. I shouted WILL YOU PEOPLE GIMME SOME GODDAMN SPACE and they backed off while my wife looked on with concern, wondering if maybe she had entrusted her finest bags to the wrong man. Eventually I gave up and told my son to sort it out himself. My wife calmly grabbed the laptop and figured out a way to print the paper in two minutes. It was a solid paper. It was about the Boston Tea Party, I think.
Anyway, the whole process sucks. And don’t get me started on helping my parents with THEIR shit. Walking them through a Bluetooth connection is its own Stygian odyssey with no discernible end to it.
I know exactly how many days there are until I retire (assuming age 67, if Trump doesn't kill us all first). 7213. Am I insane for knowing this? For knowing exactly how many days it will be before I can give corporate America the middle finger and spend a good 11days on my couch watching VR porn through the implant in my head before I stroke out? Does anyone else know this sort of thing?
John you’re actually the perfect—and perhaps only—target audience for all of Merrill Hancock financial planning ads that run in every commercial pod of every NFL game. You know the ads … where a thoughtful couple lifted right out of a New York Times focus group are guided through retirement planning by some dude who looks like Dr. Drew. “It’s time you thought about the FREEDOM your retirement will bring!” Meanwhile, we’ll all be incinerated 31 years from now in a shower of flaming methane hail.
You’re not insane for looking forward to retirement. “Retirement” is a core element of the old American career model. You got a job in a mailroom. You worked your way up to the corner office. Then you retired in your 60s to a life of clinking lemonade glasses in front of a sunrise every day and laughing with your grandkids in a backyard pool. That’s the trajectory that, to this day, companies and politicians alike still sell to the general public.
The current jobscape looks NOTHING like that, and I’m not just saying this because I quit my day job three weeks ago. It’s because I’ve been in the workforce long enough to know how uneven the terrain is. I have worked freelance (and still am). I have made lateral job moves. I have changed disciplines within a career and then changed careers entirely. I have been the sole proprietor of my own business while also drawing a salary from a whole other business.
Through all of that, I have planned for retirement in cursory ways. I’ve banked some of my paycheck into a 401k and even started a SEP IRA on my own. I also get Social Security down the road. I don’t have any confidence that I’ll be secure once those funds get released to me. I don’t even know if America will fucking EXIST when I turn 67. That’s the professional universe that I currently have to maneuver around in. No ad for the fucking Hartford is gonna bother to properly illustrate it.
So while it’s wise for any reasonable person to save money and put that money somewhere where it can make more money, the wet dream of having 20 years in your twilight to live off the fat of your labor and cross off everything on your bucket list is all horseshit. It’s a nice end goal to think about, but it’s based on an antiquated model of how the economy works right now. You may as well just try to live as much life as you can right this instant, even while you’re chained to a desk. Do you really want to save that trip to Thailand for when you’re too old to have the ENERGY for it? Fuck and no, you don’t! LIVE, JOHN. LIVE I TELL YOU.
Would shaving one's balls and taint region help reduce ass/ball sweat?
Unless you got a shag carpet going on down there, probably not.
Whenever Trump's last day in office is, what percentage of his Twitter following drops him the following day?
None. If anything, Trump’s Twitter followers will only increase after he leaves office, because that’s how follower counts go (unless, like Trump, you believe in some tinfoil hat shit about Big Tech conspiring to make your follower count go down), and because the entire rubbernecking complex that helped get Trump into office in the first place isn’t just gonna DROP him when he’s gone. They can’t quit him cold turkey and, frankly, I bet I won’t be able to either. A lot of people are gonna be fascinated by what that asshole has to say when he’s finally out of power, and then he’ll be like, “Black Panther 2? TALK ABOUT A STINKER! NO HEAT!” and then everyone else’ll be like, “Why can’t he just die now?”
How many parents have forced their kids out of soccer after tiring of shoving on shin guards/socks/cleats? It’s maddening.
Oh please, soccer is barely a hassle when it comes to equipment. When your kid plays hockey, they gotta dress like they’re preparing to storm the beaches at Normandy. With soccer, you only need to worry about the cleats and the shinguards, and that’s really it.
Do I ENJOY this process? Of course not. I have a bad back, so helping a child with shoes is about as safe for me as drinking Liquid Plumr straight out of the bottle. It doesn’t help that my kids steadfastly refuse to keep their feet up to aid me in the process, instead waving them around and/or bringing them back down to the floor, pulling me down with them. My kids also have no sense of time and forget to put on their shit until we’re 15 seconds away from leaving for practice. That’s your 40s for you. Everything becomes a goddamn rush.
But at least my kids don’t play jai alai, or anything else more cumbersome.
In a pinch, is it better/more effective to use a toothbrush with no toothpaste, or finger brush but with toothpaste?
Toothpaste! Brushing without toothpaste is really just a form of hasty flossing. You need the pasty goodness to help work up a lather along your gumline. Even if you only have a finger at your disposal, that’s probably more effective than bare brushing. I’ve done both desperation moves, by the way. Only one left me with the feeling that I had fresh, minty breath. And really, isn’t that all that matters when it comes to oral care?
By the way, I went to the dentist the other day and told them that I had had some sensitivity on one of my teeth, and the hygienist told me a couple of things. First off, I was brushing my teeth too hard. I have an electric toothbrush, which ostensibly does all the work for you. But, being a big strong man, I still ground that fucker down into every tooth, like I was buffing a paint job on a car. That can end up hurting your teeth. Also, she said if I ever got a quick jolt of pain in a sensitive spot—a terrible moment because you’re always afraid it’s gonna flare up again at random moments, or perhaps permanently—to put a dab of toothpaste on the spot and LEAVE it there. Apparently the tussin soaks in and helps make the touchiness go away. I have yet to try this but I’m gonna go ahead and assume it’s foolproof.
Email of the week!
I’m an elevator technician. Once about every six or seven weeks it’s my turn to go on call because we have to respond to emergencies. A couple of weeks ago I was out until 10:00 pm or so after my regular work day and afterward jumped in the shower. Of course my phone rang as soon as I got wet and I was dispatched to an entrapment. By the time I got to the apartment building where the call was from, it had only been about 40-45 minutes.
When I removed the trapped passengers from the elevator they were elated, (this is unusual, most of the time people are panicked or personally offended that I chose to cause them so much inconvenience).
Anyways, two guys and a girl came out.
Fast-forward half an hour and on my way out, one of the trapped dudes is sheepishly standing in front of me. He tells me that he was afraid I’d be a long time responding and that he’d pooed into a bag and dropped it down the elevator shaft (!!!!!). He wanted me to help him retrieve it because he didn’t want someone else to have to pick up his poop. Such a considerate young man! But I didn’t have access to the basement level and couldn’t help him out.
Later, I lay awake for a while with many unanswered questions. Then I remembered in horror: immediately after the bag-crapper emerged from the elevator he shook my hand. One positive note: telling my thoroughly unlikeable co-worker that he had a pile of splattered human waste in one of his elevator pits waiting for him.
You see what I told you about bucket lists? If you ever want to drop anchor down an elevator shaft, do it TODAY.