Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. Please note that today’s edition contains no spoilers. Your letters:
I want to unleash my take that spoilers aren't *that* bad and people just like to overreact. I can understand being upset if someone forces it on you just to be a dick, but if you accidentally come across one detail, first of all, that's your fault; spoilers are pretty easy to avoid. Second, does it really change the viewing experience that much?
To me, spoilers change the viewing experience. I’m of the mind that I’m better off going into virtually any movie cold. If I even know what the fucking movie is ABOUT, I lose the chance to be surprised by whatever story is about to unfold. I went into a screening of Eyes Wide Shut two decades ago knowing absolutely nothing about it, because a) Stanley Kubrick was legendarily secretive about the movie, even kicking crew members off the set as he was filming certain scenes, and b) no internet. So lemme tell ya: When you don’t KNOW there’s a mysterious billionaire costume orgy coming, it really pays off when one materializes in front of you. I liked the movie a lot, and still do.
Spoilers take many of those potential discoveries, both big and small, away. You get to enjoy the process of guessing what happens next and seeing what happens next all in one go. That never gets old to me. Spoilers change that dynamic. This isn’t necessarily BAD, just different. Knowing what will happen gives you a chance to pay attention to, and therefore enjoy, other aspects of the story. You’re not busy sitting there and waiting for things. You already know those things, so you can be more dialed in to what’s happening on the screen right now. But that’s what second viewings are for. I still want the surprises.
This weekend, I was high as balls and was about to tweet a poll asking if people thought Rey and Kylo were gonna do it in The Rise Of Skywalker, but I didn’t pull the trigger because I knew damn well that some pud who goes to a 12:00:01 am screening this coming Thursday night will immediately ambush me in the replies afterward to tell me the definitive answer before I get to see it the next day. I’m skittish right now to even write that I was about to tweet that, because it cracks open the door for spoiler fetishists.
And there ARE spoiler fetishists out there. My temp VICE bossman Tim Marchman is among them. They believe the NO SPOILERS crowd are a bunch of whiny snowflakes and that no one should give a shit about spoilers, to the point where they’ll ambush you with spoilers because they think they’re doing you a fucking favor. [Ed. note: This is a gross distortion of my position! People who ambush people with spoilers are jackasses, obviously.] These people suck. They suck even worse than the guy on Twitter who throws down a “Can I get a spoiler alert, bro?” after someone online in 2019 reveals the twist that happens in the middle of 1992's The Crying Game. Both sides—I can’t believe I’m both-sidesing this—of this niche culture war goad each other more year by year. And so, with that in mind, I’m gonna give you a DEFINITIVE guide to modern spoiler etiquette. Spoiler alert: it has rules!
- Do not ambush people with spoilers. Ambush spoilers are for pricks. I have the right to be genuinely annoyed when you do that.
- Do not tweet spoilers.
- Critics can spoil plot elements in any movie so long as they note it at the beginning of the review.
- Like Nathan says, if you chance upon spoilers before you see something because you were online, that’s on you. Before I see Skywalker, I’m gonna have to decamp to a fucking log cabin for the 24 hours beforehand.
- You get a one-week grace period from spoilers when a huge movie comes out, and one month when a big TV episode comes out. You have the right to bitch about people ambush-spoiling that movie/show during that time frame, but after that you take your chances.
- If something is tragically spoiled for you, be cool about it. You’re still gonna see that shit and like it. I am the single American who has yet to see Endgame. I know who dies (some asshole put it in the replies to an unrelated tweet from NFL Network guy Ian Rapaport; everyone was pissed). I’ll be all right. I still wanna see it.
- You don’t have the right to force spoilers upon people, and they don’t have the right to complain about spoilers if it took them eight years to watch something.
Got all that? Do I expect anyone to abide by those guidelines? I do not. Shit is gonna get spoiled here and there. That’s just how it works now. I wish that wasn’t the case, but then I’d be living back in 1999. Sixpence None The Richer were huge back then. I can’t say I miss that year.
In a recent trip to the good old-fashioned playground, I witnessed a four-year-old (clearly potty trained) pull down her pants and start peeing, and what does her too-busy mom scream? HEY! WHAT DID I SAY ABOUT PEEING AT THE PLAYGROUND!?! GO ON THE DAMN GRASS! (And there was a public bathroom 50 feet away). I have witnessed and judged many a caregiver in public places, but even this made my mouth drop. What is the most egregious behavior you have ever witnessed another parent do?
One time I saw a mom throw her son off a cliff. And then I said to that mom, “Honey…”
In all seriousness, the most egregious acts of parenting I’ve personally witnessed have involved parents loudly berating kids, or grabbing them way too hard, or practicing the kind of digital-age neglect where they stare at a phone while their kid dumps a gallon of paint off a freeway overpass. These are not exactly war crimes, alas. I’ve indulged in all of these offenses with my own kids.
That includes letting my son piss freely outside when he was fully capable of using a toilet on his own. When he was playing in the yard and had to piss, he’d just drop trou on the spot and start going. I told him, “Dude, take it inside,” and he would just laugh in my face. And what was I supposed to do after that? I’m not gonna pick up a half-naked, pissing child. I’m not gonna shove him into a tree so that he pisses all over himself. We told him to stop pissing out in the open, and he eventually did. I think I told him he would be arrested if he kept at it. Or that I would. It would probably be me they’d arrest. I think that’s how the law works. Child Ennakedment or something.
If you had a gun to your head, how long would you say baseball has left?
Until America dies. That could be soon, but baseball will keep holding on even if that’s not the case. First of all, it still makes billions upon billions of dollars. Secondly, baseball still has an anti-trust exemption, which pretty much renders it invincible. Maybe Americans watch less baseball than they used to, but for the ones that still watch it, MLB is the only place they can go for that fix. MLB’s TV contract with FOX goes through 2028. That’s almost another decade of fans to resigning themselves to accept John Smoltz’s color commentary. You can adapt to his smooth idiocy if you put your mind to it.
Finally, with his plan to gut Minor League Baseball (if not abolish it outright), MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has revealed himself to be less a visionary and more of an efficiency consultant brought aboard to cut spending anywhere he can while keeping the owners’ nest eggs growing. In pure baseball terms, he’s a pox on the sport. But in terms of business, he’s effective in an unmistakably clumsy, Goodellian manner. This is the way of everything now. All the billionaires have figured out ways to reduce any and all friction coming between them and every last cent of revenue. The more they streamline the process, the richer and more powerful and more entrenched they become. Whether or not you give a rat’s ass that the Astros blew four home games to lose a World Series is of tangential concern to the whole enterprise.
I remember when I was really young, instead of driving me to some of my baseball games, my mother and I would bike multiple miles to some of the games, and back, and it would be just fine. But now, as a college athlete, I can’t imagine biking to and certainly not from a game. At what age do you think that playing sports becomes so seriously tiring to the point that you’re beyond exhaustion after the game?
I think it happens once the games become competitive for real: right around the end of elementary school and going into middle school. Before that, youth games are just extended playdates. No one makes a basket. Kids socialize on the field AS the game is going on. Officials don’t even bother to keep score (although the kids know the score in atomically precise detail anyway). But once kids turn nine or 10, shit gets real for all of them. They’re out of the participation trophy years and ready to draw blood. My son had his first basketball game of the season last week and he was so tired by the time he got home he was actively snapping at everyone. My wife told him to shower and he shouted SHUT UP ALREADY! He would not have biked home from that game.
The games tire ME out now. I pay attention the whole way through. I don’t check my phone (my kids would notice). When the other teams’ parents cheer I don’t say anything but I quietly think to myself, “Wait, they’re cheering for the OTHER kids? That can’t be.” I get horribly nervous when the score is tight. By the time I get home, I need to take off my shoes and smoke some dope to decompress. This phase of dadhood arrived much earlier than I expected.
One of my best friends was dating a female friend of mine (I actually introduced them). About a month ago, he broke up with her. Here's the thing ... my male friend hasn't even mentioned it to me yet; his ex-girlfriend is the one who told me. We live in different states, so I communicate with my male friend via call or text a couple times per week, but I will be seeing him in-person soon. Here's the question: How do I approach this topic? Do I proactively bring it up? Or act surprised? Personally, I think it's weird that he hasn't mentioned anything to me, but I have no idea what the proper etiquette is here.
I’m not sure I have any idea either. He’s one of your best friends, yeah? I think that means you can bring it up. Ah, but you can be SLY about it. You’re old enough to engineer an easy workaround. “So … how’s Sharon?” BOOM. Easy as that. If he doesn’t give up the details after you ask him how she’s doing, then he clearly just doesn’t wanna talk about it for some reason. If he does say, “Yeah, I left her for a professional roller derby coach,” then you can be like, “I thought something might be going on there,” before you both get into the gory details of the split. That way, you can indulge in being nosy while also looking compassionate. Win-win!
Friendship gets more limited as you get older. When you’re buds in high school, you’re like, “I can tell Dennis ANYTHING!” That changes as you grow older and life gets more complicated. Some avenues of conversation end up getting restricted. Like, I used to talk about sex with my best friends all the time. Only thing we talked about, really. I barely ever do that anymore. And they’re not gonna be like, “So Drew… how’s sex with the missus these days?” Doesn’t mean we’re lesser friends than we used to be. It’s just that we know each other well enough to know what topics of conversation will make each other most comfortable. Any hard talk gets the “You got a minute?” preface that everyone dreads. Fun!
What's your most-hated everyday noise? For me, it's lawn equipment, especially leaf blowers. In spring, every asshole on my street decides that they must mow their lawns at 7am on Saturdays, and it makes me want to burn the entire block to the ground.
I have a lot of hated everyday noises now that I’m half deaf and anything too loud taxes my shattered ears into endless debt peonage. That includes lawn mowers, which is the most suburbanite complaint ever registered. But it also includes:
- Motherfuckers watching video on their phones without headphones.
- Toys. My son brought a remote control car up from the basement while I was trying to make dinner last night and I nearly threw that shit back down the stairs.
- Kids in general.
- The vacuum. Vacuums always sound like they want to attack me. BURRRRZZZHHHHH COME HERE LEMME SUCK UP YOUR FACE BURRRRRZZZHHHH
- Anything dropping to the floor. Oh god what did the kids break now?
- The dog barking out of the blue at shit that isn’t there. I even have to open the door to prove to him that he’s being an idiot
- Smoke alarm low battery alert. Still the worst sound in history. I’d rather burn to death.
Is it weird that I was rooting for Endgame to be the highest grossing movie of all time, not because it's the best movie ever, but because Avatar sucked and it still irritates me that it made so much money?
It’s not weird. That’s pretty much SOP now for fanboys who treat box office returns like vital NFL passing stats. I also hated Avatar and rooted for The Force Awakens to top it at the domestic box office, which it eventually did. There are a lot of things that factor into this kind of sheepboy mindset. Like I said, I hated the former movie and really liked the latter: a film that also happened to rekindle my love for Star Wars in a way I had previously given up hope of ever experiencing. I was a Star Wars nut and I wanted my team to WIN. Also, I enjoyed the personal validation of knowing something I liked was something EVERYONE liked. Same reason I’d get legitimately fired up whenever Def Leppard had the #1 video on Dial MTV back in the day. What was popular was cool to me, and sometimes I still feel that way.
It’s a pretty common thing for people to oscillate between wanting everyone to like their favorite things and wanting to be the ONLY one who likes those things. What’s somewhat new to the mindset, at least movie-wise, is how aggressively box office tallies factor into it. Before he died, Roger Ebert railed about this. A lot of critics didn’t even want box office returns to be made public, they were so horrified by what that information could do to the moviegoer’s attitudes. Well, now you’ve seen what it can do. Every ad for every franchise movie now includes “The #1 movie in America!” supers after opening weekend. Disney owns everything and expects you to be overjoyed about it. I’d bitch about this more if I hated the product they’re putting out, but I like pretty much all that stuff. Beats Avatar’s whinyass MEW MEW PEOPLE ARE BAD! horseshit.
I recently watched Cricket Fever on Netflix which has led to me recreationally choosing sides in Indian cricket and thus I have started watching cricket...I recently discovered that when a player hits the equivalent of a home run and it is caught in the air by the fan, said fan receives a check for 1,500 rupees. Upon realizing this only translates to approx. $20 I thought this would be a great thing for MLB teams to do. Do you think it could work?
I don’t, but not because the idea is bad. It’s a quality idea. But it would be ruined by shithead ballhawks trampling children, and by fans suing each other over who Truly Had The Ball First And Therefore Is Entitled to The Reward, and by MLB owners and administrators griping that an official game ball is its own reward (which is true but it’s even better when you get a $20 bill to go with it). The terms and conditions of the new reward would run 560 pages. And the UNSPOKEN terms and conditions would run double that. There’s no simple idea out there that American industry cannot overcomplicate.
This is a shame because, again, I’d like $20. I freelance, for fuck’s sake. I need all the scratch I can get my paws on. Also, you should get the football if it lands in the stands at a football game. Same with soccer balls, basketballs, and basketball players. If Nikolai Jokic blocks a shot and lands in your row, you get to bring him home. He’s yours now. That’s what’s fair.
My wife and I are expecting our first child in a few months and I was wondering how supportive we should expect our friends to be throughout the pregnancy. A little context: we are both 30 and this will be the first baby of our friend group (NYC people are slow at this stuff). Everyone is happy for us but should we expect people to be checking in or anything like that?
If it’s the first baby of your friend group, expect more support and attention from them than for any other subsequent pregnancy that happens among you all. They’ll check in. They’ll ask to feel the baby bump. They’ll be like, “Are you REALLY ready? I hear you don’t sleep at all!” They’ll buy you crap from the baby registry. They’ll be great about it. And then you’ll have the baby and never see any of them again. That’s how it works. I don’t even think my friends know that my wife and I had more kids after we had our first. The first one is a big deal and then, once everyone is familiar with the process and/or has kids of their own, they cease giving a shit. And you, in turn, will not give a shit that they don’t give a shit. FAMILY.
Who is Donald Trump fantasy casting as himself in the inevitable movie about his life? He has to imagine himself being played by Sean Connery, right?
No, he’d play himself. That would be the daydream for him. In fact, he’s living that daydream as we speak. We are all extras in the movie of his life right now. No liberal Hollywood prestige picture about Trump can beat what’s already happening for Trump. And you know what? It’s true. There really is no one like the real thing. This is why I never watch Alec Baldwin do his stupid impression of Trump. Why bother with a fake Trump when the man himself is right there? He cannot be duplicated, and that is for the best.
Would you rather have to eat English food for a week, or St. Louis food? The menu will be planned for you so that you face the full depths of the cuisine that you choose.
Oh, English food. It’s not even close. If you’ve ever looked at me, you’ve said to yourself, “Now there’s the kind of clammy lad who enjoys a spot of Wickered Pudding Loaf every now and then.” I like Yorkshire pudding. I like fish ‘n’ chips. I like malt vinegar on my fries. I like a full English breakfast, save for the baffling inclusion of beans on the plate. And of course, I love Indian food, which is really the best British food of all. I still laugh at English people angrily defending their cuisine on Twitter (“Woe ackshlee, BITISH FEWD is ace innit?”), but I’ll fuck with a trifle for dessert. What does St. Louis have to offer by comparison? Pizza on saltines? Fuck all that.
Email of the week!
I started playing ice hockey about 15 years ago (in my late 20s/early 30s, great time to pick the sport up). In the early years of my beer league games, plastic 32 oz. bottles of Gatorade were my hydration liquid of choice. I would never finish the entire bottle during a game and would often throw the unfinished bottle in one of the side pockets of my hockey bags. Sometimes I would get the bottle out of my bag to finish on the ride home, and sometimes I wouldn't. One particular night, I reached in to the side pocket of my bag and grabbed the Gatorade bottle for the ride home. About ten minutes in to the ride (and after several drinks from the bottle) I take a swig and immediately feel something very un-Gatorade-ish in my mouth. It was about the size of a pencil eraser, and somewhat solid, but also a little squishy. I pull it out of my mouth, turn on the interior light in my car and lo and behold, there is a chunk of black mold in my hand. I look at the bottle and the inside is covered in mold, with some nice chunks floating on the top of it. Amazingly, I did not crash my car, nor did I pull over and vomit (although I was very close).
When I got home, I of course went to Google to see what the consequences of drinking moldy Gatorade were. By the time I typed in "what happens if you drink" the third result that popped up was "what happens if you drink moldy Gatorade". I then started to wonder, do that many people drink moldy Gatorade, or was this just the product of some advanced Google algorithm spying on me? To this day, I'm not sure what creeps me out more: the actual consumption of the moldy drink or the results of my Google search. I have since switched to reusable squirt bottles filled with water for games. Been mold-free for years.
And I congratulate you for that.