Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we’re talking about cutesy audibles, toffee pudding, wiping back to front, and more.
Have your candy rankings changed with age?
As you can probably tell, Mike sent in this question right before Halloween, but it’s still worth answering. In fact, I’d prefer to answer it now, away from the usual “Best Halloween Candy” listicles that pop up all over the place right around that time. We’ve mined that territory plenty.
My taste in candy has evolved over the years, just as my entire palate has. The only time I give a fuck about milk chocolate is when it’s in a Reese’s cup, an M&M, or a Toblerone. Otherwise, I’m a hardcore dark chocolate man. When I buy candy, it’s never Nestle Crunch or Milky Way, not even non-chocolate shit like Skittles or Jolly Ranchers. I’m going strictly for the Ghirardelli bars with bits of cherry in them, or the plastic tubs of chocolate sea salt almonds at Trader Joe’s. I want my dessert to count. I don’t wanna waste it on treats I grew out of 20 years ago.
Let’s pull out even farther from there. You get older and you become much more attentive to the quality of things: food, clothing, movies, cars, furniture, etc. You get snobbier. Or, at least, I have. “Snob” is an epithet, especially here in America where the term is used mostly in reference to people who are old, rich, and deliberately out of touch with the taste of common people. George Will, for instance. What a fucking loser. I’ve hated snobs my whole life. I’ve built my entire worldview around opposing them and have watched Caddyshack a solid 100 times to reinforce that worldview.
But on a certain level, snobbery is good. It’s good to be discerning. It’s good to be picky. It’s good to want quality. When I went shopping for a new car two years ago, I wanted a really good car. Not because of status. Not so I could show people how much money I can spend on a car. I just wanted the car that I enjoyed driving in and sitting in the most. I wasn’t gonna be satisfied driving just any piece of shit, because I’d already driven pieces of shit. I wanted something better for myself, and that’s not a sin. That’s what everyone should want, and they should know what better things look and feel like, rather than what they’re being sold as better goods.
To that end, my wife and I have even gone so far as to teach our kids quality. We didn’t strategize this. Before our kids were born, we weren’t like, “They’ll only drive Mercedes.” That’s asshole business. But if I see poor effects in a TV show, I tell my kids (and, I suppose, you) that they’re poor, and why they’re poor. When we bring home groceries, my wife explains why she looks for X ingredients and not Y ingredients. When the kids have to read an article for homework, I can show them if that article was well-written or not, and why. Many of these things can be a matter of personal taste, because lord knows I like plenty of objectively bad shit. It’s more about organically teaching your kids to have educated taste. That way, they can see the craftsmanship, or lack thereof, in whatever it is they’re consuming.
In fact, they teach critical thinking to kids in schools because—sorry, Teddy Roosevelt—it’s one of our most vital thought processes. You don’t have to reserve your critical thinking skills just for future assignments or shitty Netflix movies, and you shouldn’t. You should apply it to everything you see and hear and interact with. You’re not merely evaluating the work of others, you’re setting the standard for how you evaluate your OWN work. Criticism, and the that snobbery it manifests, are the foundation of inspiration.
Many years ago, back when Stephen Colbert was still hosting the The Colbert Report, he had on this snooty British guy who gave off a shitload of Piers Morgan energy. I can’t remember his name, but I’ll never forget when Colbert softly accused him of being elitist and he shot back, “Well, what’s WRONG with being elitist?” If you think of elitism as the aesthetic justification of inequality throughout the world—if you use your snobbery to cast yourself as BETTER than others, which is how we Americans usually think of elitism—then there’s plenty wrong with it. But if you think of elitism strictly in personal terms, which I think is how Colbert’s guest was framing it, then it’s a different question. If you personally prefer only the cream of the crop because it makes you happier and mentally stimulated, then fuck yeah. Go for it. It’s why you read this website and not Yardbarker.
If you discovered your doctor was a Trump supporter, would you change doctors?
Unless that doctor’s name is Ben Carson, no. I’m pretty sure at least one of my doctors voted for Trump, but I spent a lot of time finding those doctors. And trying to get into any other good practice as a new patient where I live is trying to get into fucking Harvard.
In fact, this was the year I learned about the wonders of concierge services, where doctors charge you a flat yearly fee merely for staying on their client list. If you’re not willing to pay, they won’t take you on. These fees can run into four figures and insurance, as you might have guessed, covers none of them. It’s like a PSL for getting your prostate examined. I pay exactly one concierge fee (around $150), and it’s to a comprehensive nursing practice because I straight-up couldn’t find an available, affordable general practitioner. So if I have a good doctor, and that same doctor has a framed portrait of Lauren Boebert hanging behind their desk, I’m not saying a word about it. I need these people. Hopefully none of them read this column.
My wife and I (first-time parents) decided that we want our son to sleep in his bassinet in our room with us for his first six months or so. Most of the time, my son sleeps on my wife’s side of the bed, so any shushing/calming duties fall on her when he gets fussy during the night. The issue is that when my wife shushes him to calm him down, she unwillingly shushes ME back to sleep and gets upset when I fall asleep before our son does. Is she right to be upset? I can’t help that her natural instincts to calm our baby also work on me, right?
I’m floored you’ve been able to keep the kid in your bedroom for that long. When my wife and I had our first kid, we ruled out co-sleeping (where the baby sleeps in your bed with you) right away, but agreed that the baby should sleep in our bedroom with us for a few months. Then we’d gently transition her over to the nursery. The first three nights of that idea, we got zero sleep and said FUCK THAT SHIT, and over to the crib she went. We never even bothered trying that charade with the next two.
We slept better with the baby in another room, but not well. The baby would wake us up through the baby monitor (only sound, not video) many times over, to the point where we occasionally cheated and turned the monitor off if we’d ever had enough. But we’d still end up hearing her anyway. Babies have very powerful lungs. Some nights I’d cut out the middleman by going into the nursery, grabbing a baby blanket, waiting for the baby to calm back down, and just sleeping right there on the rug. I never have to do that anymore, and for that I am grateful.
That’s a long way of saying that when you’re a new parent, you steal sleep anywhere you can snatch it. You nap. You go to bed at 7 p.m. You fall asleep at work. And, inevitably, you fall asleep in the gaps where you’re not supposed to. I myself would never be able fall back asleep with another person shushing a baby right next to me, but I’m built different (worse). I’d never ding another parent for falling asleep at a point in their existence when sleep is at its most precious. HOWEVAH, and this is just for Steve, you have to help out with the kid during the night. That’s why your wife gets annoyed at you. You gotta split up the baby duties with your wife, or else you’re Gene Simmons. It’s worth the toil, even when it doesn’t feel like it.
As a Defector reader not amused by poop stories, I’m kinda ashamed of my confession: I wipe from back to front. This is not how I was taught, and I have no idea when it started, but as a non-vagina-having person, there is no logical nor biological reason not to do so. It’s a far superior method mechanically, logistically, and leverage-wise. I’m clearly in the minority here, and I’ll never know the joy of wiping and scrolling simultaneously, but I’m okay with that! Even my son has dismissed my technique. What gives?
You’re not alone. I’ve heard from other guys who wipe from back to front. Women, in general, don’t do this because it’s a lousy idea to sweep stray feces TOWARD your vagina rather than away from it. But if you’re a guy and there’s a fleck of shit on your balls, well now there’ve been dirtier things stuck on them. So some guys wipe by reaching way back and dredging their seafloor in the opposite direction of others. Whatever floats your boat, man. So long as you’re happy with how you wipe, it’s all good. Some people do back to front. Some people use wipes. Some people have a bidet. And then, of course, some people stand to wipe rather than sit, which I’ve covered all too extensively. There is a silent rainbow coalition of wipers out there in this great big world of ours. Maybe Qatar will commemorate that fact during the World Cup. Players could wear brown wristbands and whatnot.
Given a week or two, could you write a country song?
Not a good one. It’s like writing a children’s book: everyone thinks they can write one because the wording is short and simple, but only a select few really know how to do it. I hate country music with an unbridled passion—a few readers have even emailed in to needily ask me why, like they’re selling mayonnaise in bulk—but even I know that the best country artists have to have songwriting chops of their own. Like Taylor Swift: America’s favorite country music star! I’m told that she knows how to read music and everything. Good for her.
When quarterbacks shout things out at the line of scrimmage, sometimes they’ll actually say something funny (like a play call named “Oprah” or something). And when they do, it usually goes viral and people enjoy it. So why don’t QBs ever just lean into it and start doing full on bits at the line of scrimmage?
Because it’d be fucking terrible. I’ll hear a QB scream out DON JOHNSON! as an audible and it’s an amusing moment, but only within that moment. I think to myself, “Did he just say Don Johnson?” and then I let out a little chuckle. That’s where it needs to end.
But in 2022, no joke ends. Ever. That Don Johnson clip gets posted, reposted, written up on blogs, worked into highlight packages, mentioned in the postgame interviews, and then incorporated into a Liberty Mutual ad. And then another team does it. And another. And then a basketball team does it. A joke gets less funny the more people are in on it, and everyone is now in on every joke. So I don’t want more of that. I’d like a team’s inside jokes to actually remain inside. Make CANDY an audible because your lineman was caught eating a Butterfinger while taking a shit, and then tell no one the story behind it. That’s the pro move. Right now the entire world is a writer’s room where no joke gets discarded.
There have always been sad-sack NFL broadcast teams, guys with serious Kirk Van Houten vibes (my #1 in that category is Sam Rosen and Bill Maas). I know someone like Al Michaels makes a game feel bigger, but do the Myers-Schlereth type duos have a similar negative effect?
They do. Bad announcers make a bad loss feel even worse. You know your team wasn’t good enough to merit the top crew. And then they lose THIS game, against some bottom-feeder, with Mark Schlereth praising that bottom-feeder like they just won the fucking Super Bowl. It’s adding three hours of insults to injury, and it destroys my week.
But that’s on me. I have a mute button, plus local radio broadcasts, at my disposal anytime I want to use them. If I don’t want Schlereth, I can pull an old-guy move and just sync my game up with the homers at KFAN or wherever else. And yet, I’m just lazy enough to torture myself every other 1 p.m. slate. The lesson to learn is right there, but I’m too busy complaining to put it in into practice.
My husband and I just returned from a vacation in the UK. Spent most of our time in Scotland drinking whisky and eating our weight in sticky toffee pudding. I’d like to make the pudding for the holidays and I think I remember you mentioning you have a reliable recipe/way to make it. Would you mind sharing, so I can get a head start in my practice runs?
Just in time for Thanksgiving, here is the recipe in question. Turns out the key to a successful toffee pudding is … blended dates. I wouldn’t have guessed that in a million years, but in retrospect it makes sense to use dates as a sweetening agent when a single date contains 198 grams of sugar.
Also, as with my own chicken pot pie recipe, I don’t bother making individual puddings anymore. It’s too much of a pain in the ass, and some asshole only takes two bites of theirs. I just make one giant pudding instead. It’s my favorite dessert in the world: the logical end product of my snobbery.
When did “looking like butt” become a bad thing in Defector parlance? I feel like most people, regardless of who they’re attracted to, would agree that butts are nice to look at.
Depends on the butt, kiddo.
While it definitely is an obnoxious place, let’s be honest: the point where you truly started to hate Philadelphia fans was after the absolute curb-stomping the Eagles gave the Vikings in the 2017 NFC championship game (38-7, and now you have kids like this laughing in your fandom’s face). So, as a Phillies fan who is now ready to forever hate the Astros after the World Series beatdown we received, what are the rules for hating another fanbase/team after a bad loss? Does it need to be limited to important matchups? Season-long beatdowns? How bad of a drubbing of your team does it need to be to warrant an unending pit of hell fury towards the other team?
There are no rules. As a fan, I get to initiate any grudge I want, at any time, for any reason. I am then entitled to hold that grudge for as long as it brings me great joy. So yes, Brendan is correct: My ire toward Philly fans was birthed out of that hearty ass-kicking in the NFC title game. But, since that time, I’ve discovered so many OTHER awful things about Philadelphia fans to keep that grudge both living and justified. They never shut the fuck up about the Sixers. They’re insufferably cocky but also hate their teams simultaneously. They’re more provincial than Miles fucking Standish. And they look like a toilet. I’ll keep nursing this grudge for a while, thank you very much.
Describe the Magary Thanksgiving. Do your folks come to town? Your siblings? Do you go to them? Or is it just you, the Mrs., and the kids?
Ever since my wife and I got serious back when we were dating, we always put the holidays on an alternating schedule. We do Christmas at my folks and Thanksgiving at her folks one year, then the other way around the next, etc etc. Both my traumatic brain injury in 2018 and the pandemic fucked mightily with that rotation, but we’ve never really deviated from it unless forced to.
We’re staying here this Thanksgiving, but my sister and brother—who both live much closer to my parents—will be with my parents at their house for the day. My parents spent 2018 Christmas at my bedside in a hospital. Then they spent 2020 Christmas outside my sister’s house, all but throwing gifts across the fence to maintain proper social distancing. Those years took a lot out of my parents. I can hear it in Mom’s voice anytime I talk to her on the phone, just as I can hear the incredible joy and relief she feels that she’ll get to welcome my siblings into her house this week and have a normal Thanksgiving, just like they always used to. And I’m overjoyed for her. There comes a point in life where you realize that you only get so many more Thanksgivings and Christmases. My mom had to spend that 2020 holiday wondering if she’d ever get to meaningfully see her family ever again. I am very, very happy that she will. The logistics and the food are all beside the point.
I’m one of those adults who never managed to learn how to ride a bike (or skate). My sense of balance and coordination has always been poor, and I am just too afraid of crashing or falling off, which is inevitable. Of course I am ashamed of not having learned to ride a bike since this is supposedly a milestone of development for everyone else. How ashamed should I be, though? I’ve also thought about getting an adult tricycle, which I can ride, but how embarrassing do those look?
You don’t have to be ashamed at all. My own editor, Barry Petchesky, just learned how to ride a bike seven years ago and is elated that he went ahead with it. My old GQ colleague Jay Willis, who has also contributed to this site, didn’t know how to SWIM until 2018. All around you there are people getting over their hang-ups and, quite literally, discovering the simple pleasures of life. That can be you! Don’t buy a grownup tricycle as a half-measure. That won’t get rid of your shame, AND you’ll look like a dipshit anyway. Borrow a bike from a friend/loved one and ask them to teach you. While you’re behind on the timeline, you’re still a functioning adult who’ll get the hang of riding in no time flat; much faster than a child takes to learn the same skill. I never thought I could surprise myself at this age. Thanks to my bike, I have. You’re no different. You can still amaze yourself if you’re willing to get over what you will soon realize was a very, very small hump that was in your way.
And if you’re afraid of falling, just know that everyone else is as well, and tell yourself that it’s OK if you do. I fell just two months ago and not only survived, I got a crazy rockin’ staph infection out of it. You get in your car every day knowing you might get into a crash, but it’s still worth turning the ignition. Same deal here. Go for it, amigo. Ride. RIDE LIKE THE WIND.
Who do you think is the most famous person you could realistically assassinate? Assume you can’t use your job to get an interview with someone famous just so you can slip them some polonium tea. You’re starting with the same level of access as we normies.
I assume you’re not mandating that I get away with this assassination, only that I manage to kill the asset in question. In that case, my answer is Mariah Carey. Mariah Carey is the most famous person I’ve ever seen out in the wild. I was at a restaurant and she was at a table nearby with a bunch of friends, one of whom was O.J. Simpson defense lawyer Johnnie Cochran. I totally could have assassinated Mariah Carey right there and then if I’d wanted to. All I would have had to do was bring a gun, get up to pee, and then BLAMMO! Mariah tartare all over the tablecloth. My handler, Janet Jackson, would have compensated me handsomely for that job.
Say you were the social media manager for a sports team. What phrases would you write in all caps to introduce sports highlights for your team? How would you handle the job? Be enlightened and witty or dumb it down? Would you favor sensical or nonsensical phrases? Go for simple stuff like “LOCKED. IN.”?
We here at Defector have a longstanding hatred of cutesy team accounts, with the Vegas Golden Knights being the worst example of the genre. Every brand wants you to think it’s people now, and that doesn’t get any more charming when the brand is question happens to be the Carolina Panthers. This was all novel back in 2014 when the Atlanta Hawks handed me full editorial control of their own Twitter feed…
…but no longer. Put me in charge of a team account again—as a job and not just as a blogging stunt—and I’d run the driest, most straightforward team account you’ve ever seen. My favorite ratios on Twitter come when a team account gets piled on for merely tweeting out game updates in real time, like so:
Well-run team accounts are good sports about this kind of shit. They don’t throw out a hundred quote tweets with “Sir this is an Arby’s.” They just do the basics and let the replies be the replies. You don’t need to have a voice when you’re a team account. You already have a bazillion fans on hand to take up that job for you. Your job, by contrast, is to give those fans information, be it in the form of scores, ticket availability, recent signings, well-produced hype videos, etc. Everything else is a waste of time. The guy currently in charge of Twitter will never, ever heed a similar lesson.
Email of the week!
I played D3 baseball my freshman year. I know that’s not an incredible feat per se, but one of the pitchers on my team wound up going pro. During practices we would do live game simulations and I wound up taking this pitcher deep. Whenever I tell this story my friends always give me shit for it, but I feel like taking a major leaguer deep should give me some kind of immunity right?
Fuck yeah it should.