The World Cup of Mail.

She's Got the Right Idea.

She’s Got the Right Idea.

I can’t remember why I adopted Switzerland during the last El Cupo Worldo.  Was it their stifling defense?  Their unwavering neutrality?  Hard to say, but I don’t see any real reason to change my allegiances now after that smooth win over Ecuador.  After all, if the US makes a run, I can always just watch the reaction videos on YouTube and feel like I was there.

Q: You strike me as someone who might be concerned with the portion reduction and price increases going on at restaurants, thoughts?  E. Leven Fries, Topeka, KS.

A: I feel like I’ve been hearing about this increase in food prices for a while, but it has just started to sink in, leaving an unfortunate hollow feeling in my wallet and my gut.  I was at a restaurant the other day and they had the stones to charge $16 for a French Dip.  I’m sorry, I wanted a roast beef sandwich–not a DIAMOND.  So, I ordered it anyway, because I was already trapped and inside the restaurant.  Imagine my relief when they compensated by giving me a quart of “jus.”  GREAT.  So, there was my sandwich, my soup bowl of jus and some fries on the plate for sixteen bucks.  The food was perfectly fine, but COME ON.  I’ve noticed portions dwindling all over the place.  I’ve noticed a lot people asking if you want lemon in your water, which is great for me, because I DO NOT, but really?  Every other condiment is getting rationed out in a little cup, like you got one pass through the line at Fuddruckers.  It is a disturbing, disturbing trend.  I’m worried the country’s obesity epidemic could be in danger.

Q: What floor would you have to live on to take the elevator consistently, assuming you had access to one?  Second, right?  Matt Stares, Camden, NJ.  

A:  I currently live on the ground floor of a building with an elevator, and I have ridden that elevator a few times for NO PARTICULAR REASON.  It’s amazing that in these modern times an elevator can feel like such an extravagance. My elevator frame of reference is going to take me back to college where I lived on various floors of various buildings where I wasn’t exactly supposed to have elevator access.  Sophomore year we lived on the 4th floor and for a time we had access to an elevator key.  Hard to put into words how important an elevator key makes you feel. I don’t remember if it was gained through bribery, or through fake injury, but it was a coveted item.  Four flights of stairs is a lot, especially in the wee hours of the morn.  That said, I walked up and down those stairs hundreds of times and allowed myself to feel a sense of accomplishment.  I’m the guy who would walk up four flights with a pizza and scoff at the guy getting off the elevator on his way back from an 83-minute kettlebell workout.  Because my legs are bit older now than they were in college, I’m putting the cutoff at the 4th floor.  Fourth floor, I’m riding. Anything less than that I am pretending I am getting a great workout–unless I’m carrying something, like A grocery, then ride–obviously.  

Q: It’s been over 40 years since Miller High Life trotted out the 7 oz. pony bottle.  Is this a valid way to drink beer?  Yul Pint, Tacoma, WA.

A:  I’ve never had a High Life in a pony bottle.  Can anyone drink JUST 7 ounces of the champagne of beers?  Your question inspired me to do some research on the pony bottle and it seems like it was invented by YOUR Rolling Rock brewery, of Latrobe, PA, after the depression.  It seems that a full 12 oz. was a bit steep for some of the folks still getting their feet under them, so this was a way to drink after work and still MAYBE have enough money for food–or whatever.  Rolling Rock is the first beer I ever had in pony bottle, probably at some “pony party,” in college, which sounds like a great idea until you end up with twice as many empties and floaters.  Is it a valid way to drink beer?  Pretty much any way to drink beer is a valid way to drink beer.  Why would I judge?  I think Rolling Rock is horrible, so 7 ounces might be more palatable than 12, but if it’s your beer of choice and you like collecting little bottles for arts and crafts, or to put in with your kid’s lunch–BY ALL MEANS–go pony.  

Q: Is cat litter getting a bit too descriptive?  Do I need to know that it’s SUPER CLUMP?  

A:  Cat litter is an interesting product, because I’m sure some of it works better than others, but in a certain sense, none of it REALLY works.  I guarantee if your cat lets it happen and you are within nose-shot, you are going to know about it and it’s going to be unpleasant for a couple of minutes.  I guess after that the litter TAKES HOLD, but at that point the room still smells like 95% weird cat litter and 5% cat dumper.  This is what we put up with to have pets.  The cat litter process is really no more or less weird or disgusting than walking miles with digested Kibbles & Bits in a plastic baggy.  Our pets really have us by the balls sometimes.  I have not bought cat litter myself in a long time.  Every once in a while, back in the day, when we had a bunch of cats I might have to pick some up, but we just bought it in industrial sized drums.  Four Petco employees would just forklift it out to the car.  We weren’t reading slogans, we just wanted the BEST VALUE per pound of litter.  Or something.  If this is the direction we’re going though, I have a few ideas–New FRESH STEP PLUS with TURD COCOON POWER!

Q: Say we found another Earth.  Do you think the colonizers would treat it well, knowing how badly we have punished Earth One, or would history repeat itself and see the people just start immediately pumping toxic waste into the rivers?  Brooke Trout, Auburn, AL.

A: I think it’s pretty obvious Earth 2 is getting completely trashed.  It’s like if you told someone you would erase all the damage smoking has done to them over the past 40 years, do you think they’d immediately stop smoking?  No, they’d be like, YES, I now have probably a couple of years of guilt-free smoking, THEN I’LL QUIT.  Sure.  That’s what we’d do with Earth 2.  You’d want to recycle, but look at all that VIRGIN LANDFILL SPACE!  So enticing.  An ozone layer without a single hole?  Fully formed polar ice caps?  It’s a license to pollute.  Would people immediately start practicing sustainable forestry?  Or would they go right to the old growth for their kitchen floors?  I think we know how important hardwood is, so let’s not give the human race too much credit.  Earth 2 might be better off, because we probably wouldn’t be burning coal for 100 years and maybe the chemicals wouldn’t go into the rivers, etc., but I certainly wouldn’t expect any ecological utopia.  

Q: I saw a grocery store the other day selling a patio set for $300.  I do not know if this is a particularly good deal for a patio set, but who buys a patio set at a grocery store?  This wasn’t a yuppie grocery store either, this was an old-school one.  Quick and dirty.  Is a patio set an impulse buy?

A:  Was the patio set displayed by the register with the batteries and M&Ms?  Because then it might be an impulse buy.  Sometimes I think grocery stores have stuff just to fill up space.  They are big stores.  Got a little gap?  How about a giant cage of balls?  I’ve started seeing clothing with the town’s name on it–really?  Milk, eggs, and a sweatshirt that says EXTON please.  So, maybe the patio set just looks good to fill up the space in the summer.  Maybe it reminds people–SH*T, I need charcoal, or something like that and if someone happens to be stupid enough to actually buy it?  TREMENDOUS.  If not, you just trot that thing out the next year at $325.  That’s called inflation.  Of course, maybe this is a really good deal and I don’t even know. Maybe people in the know buy ALL their furniture at Giant.  I just googled “patio set,” and the prices range quite wildly.  It seems like the grocery store isn’t all the way at the bottom of the list though.  Certain outlets would be willing to put you in a patio set for as little as $199.  This furniture will turn to dust the first time it rains and probably grow wildly contaminating mold all over it, but still–SAVINGS.  


The Never Ending Snow Bag.

Take Me To Spring Training.

Take Me To Spring Training.

Rough week in the Northeast and now more snow is on the way.  A lot rougher for some than for myself as I miraculously never lost power.  I like to credit clean living for such phenomena, but a bit of luck probably plays a small role.  The only thing I had to deal with was a few days without internet and trying to find a passable route out of Phoenixville.  I expected a little more out of the trees.  It’s easy to blame Peco, but it’s not a real honorable stance to take and really, how about a little help from Mother Nature?  How about designing a tree that can withstand a little ice?  The thing can convert sunlight into energy, but a half inch of ice and it’s going down with a whimper?  Let’s engineer some tougher trees.  Anyway, in case your actual mail man has the work ethic of Newman, here’s a bit of a mailbag…

Q: Please rank the following non-essential kitchen items in order of how badly you’d like to have them: Pizza oven, full size stove top griddle, hot fudge dispenser, and restaurant grade deep fryer. Knute Healthee, Dallas, TX. 

A: Wow.  If I must…

4. Restaurant Grade Deep Fryer.  I feel like you can’t just have vats of oil/lard sitting around and still lead a normal life.  Your whole house would smell like a french fry, which is both tantalizing and terrifying.  And, this is an instance where I am not lured by scale.  I’m very rarely trying to satisfy the lunch rush at McDonalds.  

3. Hot Fudge Dispenser.  I think this is within reach.  Maybe you’re thinking how often would you REALLY use this thing?  Well, perhaps you’d be inspired if you had a vat of hot fudge sitting right there.  MOVE OVER traditional condiments.  You know, I once had one of those devices that heated up shaving cream and I used it pretty often. Take that, haters, I’m not as unmotivated as I look.  

2. Pizza Oven.  Every time someone talks about how good their homemade pizza is, I want to cut their tongue out.  Oh, I make my own dough and sauce.  I use 34 artisan cheeses.  It all means NOTHING.  You do what you do, I’ll take the doughy frisbee advertised under the name Boboli, squirt some ketchup on it and throw on a few slabs of string cheese and it will DOMINATE what you make if I have access to a real pizza oven.  The only reason this doesn’t win out is because getting pizza out is a pretty good time and plenty of places do it brilliantly.  

1. Full-Size, Stove Top Griddle.  Come on down.  The griddle is a magical device.  I’d like to have a cheap-o, two square foot one that plugs in, but they take up a bunch of space and don’t really get the job done anyway.  I want that crazy surface area.  I want to make an entire breakfast on the same canvas.  I want to be able to serve pancakes to more than one person at a time (it’s impossible to keep pancakes warm or fresh).  I want to chop the hell out of a pile of shaved rib-eye.  Dare to dream.  

Q: Last night I had a dream about a specific beer.  I saw the label and got all excited.  This is the first time I remember this happening.  Do I have a problem, or am I just an awesome dreamer? Frosty Mugg, Allentown, PA.

A: Was the beer Red Dog?  Because then you have a very SERIOUS problem.  I’ve never had a beer craving dream.  There has been one or two times when I am very thirsty in a dream and I wake up and I am very thirsty in REAL LIFE.  Mindblowing, right? But, I can’t even remember many dreams I’ve had where alcohol was involved.  I don’t excel at dream recall and often times I’m a very boring dreamer, unlike yourself who may be awesome.  I don’t want to rule that out.  I don’t think you have a problem.  A beer is mostly harmless, right?  You didn’t run over a stroller with your car to get to the beer did you?  Commit any other horrific acts?  I think you’re fine and I commend you on dreaming about something you actually want.  Every once in a while, when I’m feeling a good bit of WHIMSY, I’ll try to usher myself off to sleep with thoughts of dreaming about something thrilling.  When I close my eyes, I’ll enter a world where….IT NEVER WORKS.  

Q: Am I the only one who is bothered by this: Progressive commercial, “Flo,” is singing, “Why is a strike bad in baseball when it’s good in bowling?”  It get’s progressively (yep, I did) more annoying from there, which I suppose is the point, but what I’m saying is, a strike can be good in baseball. You know, like, if you’re the pitcher?  D. Tails, Pawnee, IN.  

A: These things bother me a great deal.  And, I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of Flo.  One time I was watching a TV show streaming online from an Australian source (DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT) and I saw an Australian Progressive commercial.  They had their own version of “Flo,” but she had a different name and wasn’t nearly as abrasive.  I guess Australians have different tastes when it comes to Insurance pitch women.  Anyway,  this incorrect generalization about baseball bothers me, as does the fact that the song somehow gets stuck in my head on occasion, which is maddening and then embarrassing when someone hears you mouthing, “Then someone told me about a basketball strike…” I don’t like when people get involved in sports and then don’t take the time to make things right.  It’s like when you see a blatant inaccuracy in a sports movie.  I just saw a story the other day that someone is wearing the new Eagles logo in “Invincible.”  You’re making a movie about football, about the Eagles, and there isn’t one person around who can put a stop to that?  Inexcusable.  

Q: How often do you think a hairdresser makes a huge mistake during a haircut that they then have to “salvage?”  Lil’ Ofdatop, Austin, TX.  

A: I already don’t like getting my hair cut and then you bring up something like this to send a chill down my spine. Every time I walk into Super Cuts or Value Shears or Oh You Don’t Have That Much Money Do You, Shaggy?, I get a little worried that the person cutting my hair will be totally incompetent.  Maybe they had a bad night.  Maybe their boyfriend broke up with them and my luscious locks are going to take the brunt of their anger.  I guess it’s a trust thing.  You’ve just got to say f*ck it, DIP A TOE, see what happens.  I’m also very bad at describing how I want my hair cut.  This is because I went to the same person for a long time and she just cut my hair without asking me anything–IT WAS GREAT.  Now, it’s all guesswork.  I don’t go very often and so you can’t even see my old haircut in there anywhere.  It’s not like retracing the lines on some buzz job you did two weeks back.  Anyway, I think this probably DOES happen, but not that often.  If your hair ever ends up shorter than you wanted, or maybe a little TOO highlighted–something–it’s a chance it was a coverup for some butcher job.  This is why I only risk it about three times a year.  

Q: Is it legal for Girl Scouts in Colorado to sell marijuana, you know, to boost cookie sales?  

A: I saw a table of Girl Scout cookies collapse at Acme the other day and it took my breath away.  Were any Thin Mints damaged?  I’ll give them a SAFE HOME.  I actually haven’t had a Girl Scout cookie yet this year, because I’ve been on a dessert streak since Christmas that you couldn’t imagine.  I can’t escape it.  Worse problems to have, I suppose.  I wonder sometimes if the Girl Scouts will ever get out of the cookie racket, but your idea of supplementing with marijuana sales is pretty inspired.  I saw what weed did to kids at college and their subsequent trips to Tom’s Mobil Mart or T-Hill.  The Scouts might have to adjust their hours of operation.  I did some quick research on the new Colorado rules and it still looks like marijuana is off-limits for the youth.  Maybe in another twenty years.  

Q: Any chance the Phillies hired Jamie Moyer as a broadcaster just to mess with you personally? Kris Wealer, Newtown Square, PA.

A: Well, technically Comcast hired these guys, but I see what you mean.  When the job first opened up I was actually encouraged by the lack of support Moyer seemed to have among people who SHOULD HAVE BEEN in the know.  Moyer, a known egomaniac, perhaps still wanted to pitch?  There’s a great Seinfeld scene where George wants to announce for the Yankees and Jerry tells him that they usually give those job to “former players, or you know, people IN broadcasting.”  Well, Comcast didn’t hire a lot of experience, instead falling back on two World Series winners, but not exactly A-listers.  Here’s the issue in my mind, as I venture a guess with no evidence to speak of.  Comcast didn’t want Mr. Phillie, Chris Wheeler, so they canned him without securing his replacement.  They probably assumed they could throw some money at someone–they inexplicably wanted Brad Lidge–but they were consistently turned down.  No Kruk, no Mitch, no Lidge.  It’s a troubling sign for baseball in Philadelphia.  Can’t even get the broadcasters you want, let alone the players.  I actually have more hope for Stairs–at least he’s Canadian.  That quirk alone could carry him for a while.  I think Moyer will talk too much, too obtusely and alienate a fan base that inexplicably likes him.  I won’t be listening, of course, I’ll just trust you all to tell me he’s terrible.  

Q: I’ve finally found something people care about as little as other people’s fantasy football teams–other people’s problems with school snow days.  

A:  That’s absolutely true.  People are constantly talking about their kids being off from school and how this is the worst thing that has ever happened to them.  I understand that parents count on school to occupy their kids’ time, but you talk about deaf ears…You cranked out the little sh*theel, what do I care if you can’t find a babysitter?  What you should really be worried about is how your kid not being in school impacts OTHER people.  It seems to me that kids roam freely these days anyway, but you get a snow day or two and suddenly they’re wandering into stores at 11 am, walking down the middle of the street with their sleds, just BEING AROUND.  It can be very aggravating.  Of course the underlying issue here is that people are mostly selfish and self-centered.  They like to talk about themselves and things that are going on IN THEIR OWN LIVES.  The next time someone walks up to you and gives you twenty minutes on how Briannelynn thought it would be fun to build a snowman IN THE DEN, feel free to walk away mid-sentence.  


Return To Sender, Rejected Mail From the North Pole.

Lots of Bacogon, but the One Bat Mobel with Suffice.

Lots of Bacogon, but the One Bat Mobel with Suffice.

It seems like posting your kid’s Christmas list online has become a new way to try to draw attention to your blog, or to garner Facebook likes, and I can’t say I’m surprised.  Kids are designed to raise your social media profile.  That’s what they’re for, so post away.  It seems like the lists take three forms.  First, they might highlight incredibly bad penmanship and spelling like the list above.  Look at my 5-year old try to spell!  Hilarious.  Second, the kid could be asking for a list of preposterous things: cash, dinosaurs, bat mobels–whatever.  And, lastly, the kid could be doing something cute like, “Dear Santa, can you get my mommy a different job so I can see her when I get home from school?”  Then you post that and wait for the job offers to come pouring in.   In my youth, I believe I was more of a list-maker than a letter writer.  It didn’t matter to me who was getting the stuff.  If you want to outsource to Santa–GO AHEAD.  It’s all the same to me.

*I wrote this before Christmas, when it was SO timely, and then didn’t come anywhere close to finishing the post.  But, I’m not deleting it, so put yourself in a December 19th kind of mood.

Q: Do two people ever meet at a bar, order a couple of sodas and that’s it? I mean, do people meet for a drink if it’s not coffee or alcohol?  And, if they do, where does this happen?  Bud Dry, Golden, CO.

A: I think this happens.  You just need to go back in time, hit up the counter at WOOLWORTH’S, and there will be countless people sharing a soda.  Is soda being phased out by the way?  Between sugared waters, energy drinks and toddlers lining up like fiends at Starbucks, is soda even relevant at this point?  I outgrew soda my freshman year of college when it was all you can drink in the dining hall.  I hit my limit and now probably have three a year. ALL ROOT BEERS–for nostalgia.  Anyway, I think people probably meet for non-alcoholic drinks, but I’m not sure they would go to a bar, and if they did perhaps they’d be one of those people who just drinks club soda straight (for god knows what reason).  If two people are having a nice convo and a soda I feel like they’re probably at the concession stand of a T-ball game, Friendlys, or sitting on a bench outside of a 7-11.  The bottom line is, if you want to talk to someone and no food is involved, you better be a booze bag or know your way around some venti horsebleep.  

Q: Talk to me about clementines.  Those miniature, orange things.  Am I correct in thinking if they were around all year no one would give an expletive about them?  Gray P. Froot, Jacksonville, FL.

A:  I did some research on the clementine, because  I’m not as well-rounded as I’d like to be on produce and it turns out the clementine gained popularity in the United States in the nineties during an especially poor orange harvest.  No word on whether or not the Duke brothers were involved.  But, anyway, as an outsider my main issue with the clementine is why do I have to get 40 of them?  Oh you want a clementine?  Here’s a shipping crate full of them! ENJOY.  I like to pick my fruit carefully (on the rare occasions when I buy fruit).  I would NEVER buy a bag of apples, unless it was for a horse, so I can’t endorse the Costco-esque quantities.  None of this is answering your question.  Is the clementine the shamrock shake of fruits? The Cadbury egg of citrus?  I do think they have a bit of seasonal novelty.  After all, they are known in some parts as “Christmas oranges,” so that can’t be ignored completely, but the clementine does appear to bring something to the table aside from novelty.  That’s sweetness and seedlessness.  Seems like something that would sell, at least moderately well, year round.   To some people, for me, orange is a flavor best experienced in popsicles.

Q: What percentage of the nation’s reading do you think takes place on the toilet?  I’m thinking if people answer honestly, we’re approaching 50%.  Tuck Padd, Boise, ID.

A:  I don’t know, that sounds awfully high.    Sometimes I wonder why reading on the can is so popular.  Does it take people that long?  Is it boredom?  Or are people just taking a breather from life in there?  I could think of better places to relax, but sometimes you can’t pick which door you can hide behind.  I never understood the bathroom reading when I was a kid.  We had a basket full of reading material in our downstairs bathroom, but I didn’t really see the point of it, until I got a bit older.  Now I’m a pretty big sh*tter scholar, but I stop short of the people who celebrate their bathroom reading lifestyle.  I’m sure we’ve all worked with someone who marches around with the sports section and announces to anyone within earshot, “I’LL BE IN MY OTHER OFFICE.”  This is, for my money, not necessary.  I think some people probably do ALL their reading on the toilet and phones make this job a whole lot easier these days.  But, I think the people who read the most do the majority of their reading with THEIR PANTS UP.  So, because of that, I’m going to put the overall number at 10%.  Seems fair.  

Q:  What’s going to happen to all the pot dealers in Colorado?  

A:  I hope they can put a little kiosk at the end of their driveway and continue to ply their trade.  I have no idea what the long term effects of the legal pot trade will be, but I’m not particularly worried about the pot dealers.  NO OFFENSE.  I’m sure if they want to they can move into another realm of illegal drug trafficking.  I hear prescription pills are a growing industry.  And, from the looks of the lines going down the street in Colorado, they might want to hire some dealers to work at these legal dispensaries.  I imagine the money would be somewhat less lucrative.  And, I also imagine that individuals will continue to sell pot in Colorado, right?  Not everyone is going to go to these new places. I am a little lukewarm on the idea of legalizing pot.  I don’t know why.  I’ve had generally bad experiences with people who smoke A LOT, so maybe that’s it, or maybe I’m just being a huge hypocrite.  

Q: If you had to play in Green Bay this weekend (possibly coldest NFL game ever played) do you think you’d be the guy out there in short sleeves, or the guy wearing a full head sock and a fanny pack hand warmer?  E. Muffs, Kenosha, WI.

A:  Well, it’s very cold in Pennsylvania today.  Not Wisconsin cold, but it was cold enough to freeze my hair solid as I extricated my car from my parking spot.  That’s a real, REAL solid look.  Let me tell you.  And later in the day I popped outside for a brief moment in my shirtsleeves and that was not comfortable–at all.  You know that some fan is going to be at the game without a shirt on, but that fan is also going to be completely sh*t-housed and as a player you’d have to be sober.  I never played football, so I don’t know about the warmth or lack thereof in wearing pads, etc., but I do know that physical activity can keep you warm for short periods of time in very cold temperatures.  I used to wear gloves during a jogging phase and they were great until about two miles in when it felt like I had stuck my hand in a furnace.  And, do forearms get particularly cold?  I think if you kept your core and extremities warm that you could conceivably get away with short sleeves.  But, what would I be doing?  If I was “in” that game, it’s probably likely I’d be safely on the bench, which means I’d be in full hood, parka, fanny pack hand warmer, etc.  This despite being a generally warm person, 20 below is no joke.  

Q:  Am I the only one offended by the notion of, or the quest for a hangover cure?  You got hammered.  That’s what happens.  Suck it up, or don’t drink–baby.  Harry O’Dogg, Atlantic City, NJ.

A:  My drinking now is governed by a severe aversion to being hungover.  I try not to complain too much when I overindulge, but it does seem a bit pointless.  What did you think was going to happen when you sucked down seven different kinds of alcohol over the course of one evening?  I read recently about a guy who started a business that offered hangover cures.  Essentially he drops in the morning after you burn that mother down and hooks you up to an IV bag.  He hydrates and replenishes you much faster than you can yourself with Gatorade, four bags of fast food, pedialyte, or a bloody mary.  I think this service costs nearly a thousand dollars, so you know, it’s not QUITE mainstream.  More economical hangover cures in my experience, do not work.  A sampling of what I’ve heard over the years:

  1. Exercise
  2. Drink 7 gallons of water before bed
  3. Raw eggs in some form
  4. More liquor
  5. Grease
  6. Consenting adult time
  7. Pedialyte (from bottle or in popsicle form)
  8. Drink only Coors Light (might actually work)

Like I said, almost none of these work.  I was only so desperate to try more drinking one time in my life and OH MY was that not a great idea.  The only thing that works for me is the 2nd sleep.  You wake up the first time and it’s like you never went to bed, because your body was doing gymnastics trying to process those 11 G&T’s.  So once that’s finally over, the next time you sleep is your cure.  Unfortunately, as a functioning, non-c0llege student adult this usually has to wait until the evening when you go to bed.  Thus, the full-day hangover that haunts us all.  Not that I’m complaining.



What’s in the Mail?

Hoping For an Anomaly.

Hoping For an Anomaly.

I’m in grocery stores all the time.  It’s troubling.  I can’t shop for the future.  It’s all about what I want to feed my face with in that moment.  There was a guy selling “clean energy” in the entrance of a grocery store a couple weeks back and I had to duck him three days in a row.  It was quite awkward, but the point I’m trying to make is that I have a good working knowledge of grocery stores and I am keenly aware of change.  So, imagine my horror today when I’m in the cracker aisle and I’ve noticed the Club Cracker boxes have shrunk.  Club crackers are great, but they are already a bit annoying, because they only give you three sleeves.  A box should have four sleeves.  It’s a round number, it’s tradition, but Club Crackers get away with three.  We’ll live–I guess.  But now you are giving me three mini-sleeves?  Is this some type of mini-box overrun that I don’t know about?  It better be, because if this is the new permanent size of Club Crackers, I’m going to have someone’s butt.  I’ll write a Congressman.  Maybe end up in his mailbag…

Q:  I saw this debated online a couple of months ago, but what do you think is the best french fry shape, and is the french fry the best way to get a potato?  Spud Peeler, Boise, ID.

A:  The fry is good, because it has a large margin of error.  Even if you think you don’t love the order of fries you get, you PROMPTLY eat all of them, because they’re fried.  A bad baked potato is a nightmare and a good one is just OK if we’re being honest.  Mashed potatoes are divine, but aren’t a vehicle for ketchup.  Potatoes and cheese, AU Gratin, or AWE Gratin as I like to say is probably the best way to eat a potato assuming it’s done well, then fries, then mashed, then baked, then frickin’ Tots.  As far as the shape of the fry goes?  It’s probably just simple anatomy.  You want to maximize the frying surface, but also have enough meat there that you can taste something aside from the delicious crunch.  Although, I’m sure we’ve all had the hollow fry that is essentially a shell of hardened lard and those are TREMENDOUS, but not for a full serving.  The worst shape is curly.  CUTE, but the center just mushes together and it doesn’t cook properly.  Then shoestring, because too thin and they cool off in about 3 seconds.  Steak fries and crinkle cuts are amazing when they are done right, but this is almost never the case.  Waffle fries are the perfect vehicle for applying ketchup and cheese directly to your waistline, but part of me thinks we should just let waffles have the waffle shape.  The best fry shape is the basic, medium width fry.  Is that a boring answer?  I DON’T CARE.  

Q:  Do people who speak other languages mess up their own language as much as we butcher english?  And, I mean across the whole range.  From stupid mistakes, to impossible spellings, to effect/affect, to laid/layed/lain/lied…you know what I mean. I. Beforey, Tampa, FL.

A:  Great question.  Are spanish spelling bees a thing?  Or do you just sound out every word and it works?  Do grown up, professional, adult people in France or Germany lean on spellcheck like it’s the most important invention of modern times?  I really have no idea.  You would need someone who is bi-to-quadlingual to answer that one and that is not this guy.  About the trickiest thing I learned in my years of public school spanish class was, “sopa isn’t soap and ropa isn’t rope.”  Of course, that wouldn’t apply if you were just learning spanish as your native tongue.  Even right now, I don’t know if I should be capitalizing these languages.  WHO CARES–I’LL JUST CAPITALIZE EVERYTHING.  We put up with english, because we don’t know any better, kind of like Europeans and soccer.  Considering english has a reputation as a difficult language to learn, I imagine there are more tricks than most languages and probably more idioms?  We LOVE our idioms.  English is demented.

Q: A friend of mine has a neighbor who has a few of those hairless cats and he hates the things.  They are constantly in the windows–just being creepy as (expletive).  Those are his words.  He’s contemplating leaving a note asking that all the windows facing him be cat free at all times (again his words).  Obviously, this is ridiculous, but where do you stand on leaving neighbors notes?  P. Dander, Chicago, IL.

A:  I’m not for hairless cats I can tell you that much.  Hair is one of the defining characteristics of a cat or dog in my mind, where do these hairless mammals come from?  Such a mystery.  It would be nice if all creepy pets were kept out of windows.  No hairless cats, no rodents of any kind, no predatory birds, etc.  Of course for every person who justifiably gets the chills from looking at a hairless cat there is another person who loves that cat and probably paid an outrageous sum to acquire the thing.  I’d love to see a note written in this case and then I’d love to see the reaction to that note.  It’s certainly not the right thing to do, but I’d find it terribly amusing.  My opinion is, it’s almost impossible not to come across like a jerk when leaving someone a note like this.  The circumstances are inconsequential.  It’s very hard to convey tone, and no matter how nice you are about it, you’re going to sound uppity and the person will rebel against your little teaching moment.  I’m of the opinion that dealing with neighbors is impractical. There is always going to be some baseline level of aggravation and there’s nothing you can do about it. Trying to nip things in the bud just adds fuel to the feud fire.  

Q.  I hate slowing down in School Zones, does this make me a horrible person?  Ken Dergarten, Augusta, ME.

A:  I’m sure there are countless other traits to your personality that make you horrible, so I wouldn’t hone on in this particular oddity.  Recently I moved and for the first time in my life I’ve really seen the School Zone be effective.  I’ve seen a lot of kids who walk to and from school and this makes a lot more sense than just arbitrarily slowing down so a bus can get out of the parking lot–or something.  I don’t like School Zones when clearly the timing is wrong–no kids in sight.  I hate when people tailgate me through the entire length of the school zone, but usually I can keep my rage in check for the 16-28 seconds it actually takes to drive through one.  AN ETERNITY.  You have to slow people down somehow, so by putting up the 15 MPH, it gets people down to about 25 from 50.  Funny story about School Zones.  I was once pulled over for speeding in such an area.  Of course, I wasn’t driving.  I didn’t even have my license.  Nope, I was ON THE SCHOOL BUS.  Very strange to be pulled over while on the bus.  The driver got a warning. I got to be 15 minutes late for my Pop Tart feeding.  

Q: Do you think the Phillies will get an outfielder, and if so, which outfielder will that be? Rickey Otero, Lancaster, PA.

A:  The Phillies have some money to spend, which is good for them, because they were quite terrible last season and are nowhere near contention as currently constructed.  I think the Phillies will definitely get an outfielder.  They’ll need one to fill out a starting outfield.  I don’t think even Ruben Amaro is bold enough to start another season with John Mayberry Jr in the mix, but who that outfielder will be remains to be seen.  The main problem could be the team itself is a lot less desirable than it was when it made plunges into the free agent market in the past.  Cliff Lee thought he was signing up for multiple rings.  Raul Ibanez was coming to the defending World Champions.  Now the Phillies have been bad for two straight years and have a roster that’s littered with holes. Players almost always go for the most money, but the Phils can’t lure anyone with tales of five straight division titles, etc.  The major names out there in the OF are: Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin Soo Choo, Nelson Cruz, Carlos Beltran and Curtis Granderson.  None of these players is a perfect fit for the Phillies.  They are all older than you’d like if you were handing out a long term deal.  The team needs Cruz’s right-handed power with Choo’s defense and plate discipline.  But, players with that combination rarely make it to free agency these days.  Beltran would be my first choice on a short-term deal, because the Phillies are win now (allegedly).  Then, Cruz because of the right-handed power and then Choo.  I’d have no interest in Ellsbury (too long a deal will be required) or Granderson.  I expect the Phils to actively pursue a big name, but if they don’t land one of the top guys, it may not be the worst thing, a flier on Marlon Byrd or Michael Morse could work out better in the long run if the team can figure out a way to get younger and stay competitive.  

Q: Have you seen this new virus that locks your computer down and makes you pay a ransom to get all your files back? What would you pay to have your computer unlocked?  Malorie Ware, Houston, TX.

A:  Me personally?  I’d pay ZERO dollars.  My computer is in pretty rough shape and there’s nothing on here that is really priceless.  A lot of the words I’ve pounded out exist in other places.  What would I pay to have my Gmail account unlocked?  Pretty much all my monies, but my computer itself?  You can have it.  I’ve never been too attached to my material possessions in that way.  I need them, but I don’t cherish them and I don’t take especially good care of them.  FOR SHAME.  My last two computers experienced some pretty untimely deaths.  I don’t know that I lost anything valuable.  I don’t have all my college emails, but that’s probably good, because now I can go on thinking I was a genius and hilarious when, in fact, I was likely just a dipsh*t.  I’ve got to say, though, this is a pretty diabolical virus/scheme.  It’s incredibly smart, but SO RUDE.  And, Mac users must be laughing their asses off at this one.  Oh, we don’t get viruses, LULZ. Forty-eight emojis, frowny face.  

The Mailbag (Don’t Worry, The Bag’s Reusable)

Choose Carefully.

Choose Carefully.

So, the government is not open for business.  What does this mean?  I DON’T KNOW.  I’m going to go to Bleacher Report and read the top 2013 things you need to know about the 2013 Government Shutdown, but until then…clueless.  I realized yesterday that National Parks were closed.  This seems a bit harsh?  Ok, maybe you can’t get in to see the Liberty Bell, but you can’t even go for a walk in Valley Forge Park right now.  I’m sure you COULD, but you aren’t supposed to and that seems ridiculous to me.  I wonder how many people showed up in their running tights yesterday and had no idea what was going on.  About a week back I was in a neighborhood I hadn’t been to in a while.  and I pulled into a Wawa parking lot.  I thought to myself, “Thank god it’s not that busy.” It was almost lunch.  I got all the way to the door before I realized it was closed. Not for the day–for good.  I suddenly realized there was no signage, not a single other car in the parking lot.  That’s how oblivious I was.  Someone waiting at the red light watched me walk back to my car like I was EASILY the world’s dumbest human.  I’m just saying, if this keeps up, someone is going to arrive Valley Forge with an SUV full of bikes in a few weeks and look awfully stupid.  To the mailbag, thankfully not delivered by the USPS….

Q: I was having dinner with a guy the other day and he was served his cheesesteak and he stared the thing down for a good 30 seconds.  Now, this sounds like a short amount of time, but before you eat tonight, look at your plate for 30 seconds–eternity.  I said, “What the hell are you doing?”  He told me he was deciding which half of his sandwich to eat first.  For real?  U. Cuteyepick, Frazer, PA.

A:  I assume your issue here is with the length of time and not the thoughtful process itself.  It’s CRUCIAL to make this decision before eating any sandwich that has been cut into two pieces.  Why would you want to eat the “good” half first?  Are you going to be a baby and not finish it, is the second half for the labrador?  You always want to have that better half left, because then when you are done the first half you are still in a glass half-full situation.  Maybe you saved the bigger half.  Maybe the half with a better cheese ratio. Regardless, things are looking up!  Thirty seconds is a long time, though.  You’ve got to learn how to make quick decisions, otherwise people ask questions.  That interrupts FEEDING TIME.  This is also important to do with pizza and shared pizzas.  Trying to get the ebb and flow of the shared pizza right so you get the best slices is a DAMN ARTFORM.  I know people who split the pizza before they eat it, which is democratic, but doesn’t reward vision.  Every pizza has a “best slice,” and it’s unthinkable to take it right away, so you must plan it out ahead of time.  Of course, this is why it’s always better to get way too much pizza, because then piece selection is a bit less dire.  

Q:  What sponsor would you be proud to wear on the golf course?  I saw some big names during the FedEx Cup, a lot better than what you’d see on your basic T-ball jersey.  Bill Board, Houston, TX.

A:  I think one of my first Little League teams was sponsored by an oil company (Not Exxon, like Jim’s Oil–Staats?).  So, right away I was a bit of a sellout to big business and greed.  I don’t know that Little League teams have sponsors like that anymore.  The parents are probably expected to COUGH UP the dough for a jersey.  This is a development right on par with everyone hits and we don’t keep score.  Why don’t you just set up some bleachers at recess at the parents can watch that?  Are we playing a game here or being cute and polite?  ANYWAY, enough of that…I have thought about this question.  I wonder if I would be a total sponsor whore. Would I wear whatever someone put in front of me for a few dollars?  PROBABLY.  That’s got to be better than trying to make cuts, but if I had my choice…I’d want companies with less than offensive logos and products I’d want to get for free.  Mercedes would probably be a good place to start.  Then of course you need to have a clothing sponsor.  I’ve always been a bit of fancy boy in terms of golf apparel.  I went down with the cotton ship.  I loved my Fairway and Greene.  I don’t think they ever sponsored tour players. Maybe Peter Millar?  You know, just a nice supply of $100 shirts I can’t afford.  So, that’s a good start, maybe round it out with some Mizuno.  If I’m on tour I assume I would finally be good enough to hit those clubs.  

Q:  Any MLB playoff picks? Pete Rows, Cincinnati, OH.

I do NOT like the Phillies’ chances.  I believe they’ve been mathematically eliminated.  I did have the Pirates over the Reds (no proof), but that was a great atmosphere in Pittsburgh and I actually am happy for real Pirates fans and even the people who have thrown themselves on the bandwagon.  Playoff baseball is incredible in person.  I like the Rays over the Indians.  This probably won’t get posted before that game is over, but it’s noted here for all eternity.  It’s a strange year for the post-season, or I guess this is just how things are now–you have to almost wait and see who gets hot.  If we were back in the day, it’d be hard to argue against the Dodgers who can send out Kershaw, Greinke Dinky Do, and Ryu to start any series.  That’s a decent place to start.  The Cardinals have undeniable post-season magic and I think the NL comes down to those two teams.  NO to Atlanta.  The Red Sox had an incredible regular season, but I’ve never seen them as a World Series favorite for some reason.  I don’t trust Verlander and Scherzer atop Detroit’s rotation this year and Miggy is hurting.  I like the Rays if they get through, but otherwise–LA over Oakland.  Why not?  

Q:  Any thoughts on the rise in popularity of hard cider?  I mean, I always remember Woodchuck being around (Haha, let’s have a Woodchuck as a joke), but now apparently things are getting serious–and there’s pear cider? Chuck Strongbow, Exton, PA.

A: Oh sure, perries?  Pear cider?  Been around for ages I would imagine.  Don’t know that anyone was drinking any notable quantities, but it was around.  I have noticed more cider in my travels.  I see it on tap, which is something I don’t remember seeing at all in my younger days.  Does draught cider taste better?  I DON’T KNOW.  I have more important mysteries to solve.  It must be great for the people who drink cider, because is Woodchuck actually good?  How would you know unless you had something to compare it to–so now there are more choices.  Of course, cider is gluten-free and beer is not, which has to be a growing selling point.  A lot of gluten allergies out there along with people who do things like this voluntarily so it’s nice to still be able to get hammered–gluten free. Speaking to the growing popularity, there was a cider festival in Philadelphia this past weekend and evidently this is something people actually attended.  You know, I try not to make judgements about people based on what they drink.  I read an article about this today, it was a lot of “30-year olds that drink Mike’s Hard Lemonade still hit on college girls,” etc.  That’s not my style.  You’ll never convert me, but go ahead and have your cider.  

Q:  Do you think people who eat tunafish for lunch should be confined to separate quarters so other people don’t have to smell what they are eating?  Gagg Reflex, Dublin, OH.

A: Well, kind of, but no–that kind of thing just isn’t allowed.  I think you need to be a bit careful with your wording there.  Words like “confined” and “separate” don’t hold up too well in the higher courts.  People tend to frown on segregation, even if it is of the aroma variety.  Tuna sandwiches are really a dangerous animal, though.  Several years back I was headed to play golf with a friend and we stopped at Wawa for lunch before we played.  He got a tuna sandwich, which I didn’t LOVE, but you know, it was a short ride to the course.  Tolerance.  We just inhaled the things before we started and didn’t think twice about leaving the wrappers in the car.  Or, I should say I didn’t.  I’m going to ballpark the temperature at about 94 degrees that day, so inside the car during the round we probably kissed 115ish.  Anyway, four, five hours later we get back to the car and the one bite of tuna that was leftover had taken over the atmosphere inside my Chevy.  The air was thick.  A starving cat could have been strolling by and they would have said, “Eh, no thank you.”  I went on a brief “never leave tuna in my car ever again” tirade under the guise of joking around, but I really wasn’t.  I just hope that stuff tastes better than it smells, I really do.  For your sake.


A Mailbag of Sorts.

Not Sure I'd Learn.

Not Sure I’d Learn.

I was making something in the oven yesterday and I needed to give it a quick baste, you know the usual, and so I opened up the door to the oven and did what I always do–stick my face right in there.  I get blasted back the heat.  My glasses fog up, I get flustered.  I usually make some sort of unintelligible noise–“Dahhag.”  This happens every single time I check on something in the oven.  I have two theories.  First, when I was a youth I had an oven that was eye-level for me so you could open it and look in while keeping your distance and the heat didn’t rush up into your face.  So, I never learned.  The second theory is that I’m an idiot.  So dumb that I’m not sure I could learn to use an invisible fence, which is a skill that can be easily mastered by most dogs.  And, speaking of blasts of heat…the mailbag.

Q: If you had to fire someone, how do you think you would do it?  Give them the full song and dance about how great they are, or just go short and sweet?  Dawn Sized, Gainesville, FL.

A: Assuming it wasn’t a hostile situation, I think I would try to let the person down as easy as possible while also keeping it short.  In my opinion when someone is getting canned they don’t really want the full explanation right there (if there is one), they mostly just want to get out of the room, the situation–whatever.  Later, they’ll be pissed off and demanding of answers, but right at that second they are probably dealing with some shock.  Of course, I’ve never really fired anyone.  The closest I came was back in my caddy supervision days.  The course I was at was hosting a fairly significant local women’s event.  It was big enough to attract some loopers from some other local courses.  It was my job to assign these caddies to the players.  A hit-or-miss process if there ever was one, but I had a fairly good match-making percentage.  There was one exception.  After the second day (of three) a player came up to me and requested that I did not give her the same caddy for the final day.  Her reasons?  “He talks too much AND SMELLS WEIRD.”  Oh boy.  That’s a double.  So, this guy shows up for the last day–big grin on his face and drops the whole, “I’m with so and so again? I didn’t get her tee time.”  And, that’s when I had to break the news.  She’s going in another direction, Cowboy.  He guessed that it was probably because he “fell on the 16th green yesterday.”  A whole other problem, but NO, that wasn’t it.  I just gave him the old, you know those women golfers look and sent him back to Llanerch or wherever he came from.  

Q: Seeing as how Andy Reid is coming back to Philadelphia on Thursday (along with Donovan McNabb), can you go over the scenarios in your mind where it is acceptable to boo?   Throaty Pipes, Ardmore, PA.

A:  Let me start with a contradictory statement.  I’m not going to take away anyone’s right to boo.  If you want to be the person that boos–go ahead.  If you want to scream “sucks,” after every player’s name in introductions–I’m not going to stop you.  I won’t be there with you, but I won’t get righteous.  That said, neither McNabb nor Reid should be booed on Thursday.  The fan base has already proven it will likely receive McNabb in a somewhat friendly manner.  Some boos will sprinkle, but it won’t be like David Stern at the NBA Draft.  As for Andy Reid, there won’t be a great moment to boo him, so it’s likely that fans will continue to just be happy he left town.  If Andy Reid ever appeared down the road, after his coaching career, I’d expect a McNabb-like reception.  Mostly cheers.  So, when to boo?  I don’t think you should boo people who aren’t involved in the game.  So the mayor shows up and you hate his politics?  Not the time.  Booing should mostly be reserved for the officials and the opposition.  Bad calls, hated rivals, anyone on the ’86 Mets–all fair game.  Is there a statute of limitations?  Probably.  I think we can stop booing Chipper Jones now that he’s retired.  The booing of Scott Rolen probably should have ended when the ’08 team won the World Series.  At some point, you start to look deranged and desperate.  As far as your own players, I think it has to be effort based.  Nate Allen really shouldn’t be booed.  He’s just terrible.  But if a player quits, or says something stupid about the fans?  Fire away.

Q:  If you started a brewery, what would you call it, and what would you name some of your beers?  Samantha Addams, Boston, MA.

A:  Is Sierra Nevada taken?  I might call the brewery 3-Putt Territory.  Look how well that name has served me here.  And, it did take me a while to think of that name.  It narrowly won out over, “Mike’s Blog,” and “Grossy’s Ha-Ha Hut.”  I think I’ve gotten one solid compliment on the name over the years, and really how much more do you need?  In terms of naming the actual beers, I have a question in response to the question.  Have we gone too far?  Should the brewery name and the style of beer be enough?  Does calling something Monkey Astronaut IPA really spike sales?  I guess the answer to that is it does, because the names of the beer keep getting stranger.  More COLORFUL.  So, I’ve got to come up with some names here.  Putting a guy on the spot.  Luckily, this is not unlike thinking up trivia team names, so I should be OK.  Rapid Fire:

  1. Alimony ESB
  2. DU-IPA
  3. Beer Pong Lite
  4. No Tan Lines Summer Lager
  5. Placebo (Non-Alcoholic)
  6. Call a Cab Tripel

Q:  Now that school has started back up I’ve seen multiple times the elated sprint off the school bus.  First, were you this happy to get home and second, does anything in adult life compare?   E.Z. Lyamused, Coatesville, PA.

A:  I imagine that people with kids would say that putting the kids on the bus is pretty MAGICAL indeed, but I’m not at that point.  I’ve definitely seen kids run like crazy off the bus and I’m trying to think back in time to see if I ever possessed so much GLEE.  When I got home school there were only a few things that could be on the agenda.  Eat Pop Tarts, play Nintendo, pretend I’m in the NBA and dunk on my 8-ft rim, watch A Different World in syndication–all of these things should have had me at a dead sprint, but if I remember correctly I didn’t have that much heart.  I mostly walked.  Our driveway was upwards of 75 yards.  That’s a long way to HAUL IT with a Lands End on your back.  And some of the time I got dropped off down the street (and downhill) from my house, so forget that.  I think the really young kids run because they are actually happy to see their parents.  Then things change and you are praying no one is home when the bus drops you off so you can BE ODD AS SH*T at your leisure.  What do adults gain that type of simple pleasure out of?  I’m not sure.  Making good “time” to work?  Finding cheap gas?  Having your carry-on bag fit through the damn slot?  There’s plenty out there to be JAZZED about.  

Q: Some people like designer bags, or have to have a certain brand of sneakers, but I think name brands are most important for the little things.  Ever try to use generic aluminum foil?  Whon Ply, Sarasota, FL.

A:  This is a true statement.  Generic Aluminum foil has the consistency of tissue paper.  Exhale with greater than usual force and you could tear a hole clean through the stuff.  Are we even sure it’s aluminum?  It may be an illusion.  When it comes to foil, you’ve got to go with Reynolds Wrap.  That’s the only brand of foil I am aware of? I’m sure you can buy a roll at Williams Sonoma that’s made entirely out of recycled cans of Shasta for $34, but that’s probably going a bit too far.  Reynolds will serve you fine.  And, with kitchen items, it doesn’t stop with the foil.  Paper Towels?  Generic paper towels are great if you want something to decorate your paper towel holder.  God forbid you need to use one.  Trash Bags?  Please throw the entire box into a Hefty or a Glad. That’s all they are good for.  

Q: I have a friend who consistently keeps magazine cologne samples in his pocket.  Open.  It’s one of those things that is out in the open, but you still can’t talk about it.  Should we just be glad that he smells like cologne all the time?  Is he hiding something?  Where does he get them all?  Tenzing Nosegay, Frankfort, KY.

A:  That is very odd and also admirably frugal.  Why commit to a full two ounces of one cologne and pay those exorbitant prices when you can simply go to the nearest news stand and rip your way to a different fresh scent every day.  Wearing a scent is a tricky thing.  I prefer to smell clean, rather than to walk around with a noticeable aroma.  Do I always accomplish this?  I DON’T KNOW, but that’s the goal.  To me, a lot of cologne hints that you are trying to hide something.  It’s like if the dog lets one happen on the rug and then you rain down Febreze, I don’t care what the commercials say it’s going to smell like Febreze AND dog grumper.  So, if you are rocking a steady cologne, I might think–still in 7th grade, OR has a BIT of a B.O. problem.  Either one.  I don’t want to be known by a smell, good or bad, really.  I’ve worked with people who you know are in the room before you see them because they APPLY GENEROUSLY.  That’s not for me.  As far as the samples go?  I don’t really know what to make of that.  I have rubbed these on my shirt in moments of desperation, and I’ve seen people use them as de facto air fresheners in their dressers or between sofa cushions, but to use one as a part of your outfit seems a bit out there.  My best guess is that he can’t afford to do his laundry.  

Answer Me This: The Mailbag.

Aw, Hell No.

Aw, Hell No.

Anyone who reads this blog regularly and who has a memory for odd bits of trivia probably remembers my preference for restaurants to stay in their areas of “expertise.”  Tuna at Dunkin’ Donuts?  NO.  The pulled pork that has returned to Subway?  Absolutely not.  Just because you like Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t mean you have to eat there all the time.  You can get lunch somewhere else.  Another restaurant, and I’m using the term loosely, has entered this realm.  Not only with the meal, but with the ridiculous claim attached.  Panera has made the claim their new salad contains the best shrimp on Earth.  They scoured the globe for this shrimp.  Who exactly did the scouring?  Who decided it was the best shrimp?  Not Important. What’s important is that you go to Panera (subtitle Bread) for shrimp.  Think about that while we go in for a mailbag…

Q:  Would you rather be the parent who makes the best grilled cheeses and have that glory but also the obligation of making the grilled cheese, or the parent who makes the worst grilled cheeses–freeing you from lunch duty but also saddling you with tremendous shame?  Char Loaf, Clearwater, FL.

A:  I can’t come up with a scenario where I would want to be the one who cannot make a grilled cheese.  And, really the whole concept of someone making a grilled cheese better than me is absurd.  I laugh at the MERE NOTION.  I don’t routinely make grilled cheese sandwiches for young people, but if I did I imagine my popularity would know no bounds.  I can make any kind of grilled cheese you want.  Fancy, ghetto, with ham, bacon–it doesn’t matter.  The key to making a good grilled cheese is pan control.  Grilled Cheese Prospectus lists 90% of all grilled cheese errors being due to pan temperature.  So, there you go.  I also don’t really see myself tiring of making grilled cheeses.  Every time you make grilled cheese you can eat a piece of cheese.  That seems like a fair wage for the work required.  Even if I had to make 20 a week for a kid who ate no other food and barely gleaned enough nutrients from his diet to survive, I think I can handle the burden.  It’s got to be better than serving up a mess that tastes like last night’s burnt pork chop and have the kid look at you funny or worse yet throw a tantrum.  I imagine the graver scenario is you make the inferior grilled cheese and yet you have to do all the cooking.  I picture some stay at home dad butchering meal after meal, a little tyke laments, “Mommy’s grilled cheeses aren’t black.”  That’s when the Dad screams, “Mommy’s NOT HERE.”  And, throws the pan across the kitchen.  Things just got interesting.  

Q:  Have you ever not bought something because it was buy one get one free?  Like, you only wanted one, but you’d feel like an idiot paying full price so you just don’t get any at all?  Phil Price, Meadowlands, NJ.

A:  Thankfully we live in an era where refrigeration has been invented.  Are you aware of this?  Or that most products have very long shelf lives?  Is this buy one, get one tuna tartare?  I think I know what you mean though, it’d probably apply to unhealthy foods. Ice Cream?  When Turkey Hill Ice Cream went buy one/get one back in the day our freezer turned into a REAL PARTY.  Entenmann’s is known to run a buy one/get one special as well.  That’s dangerous.  Especially if it is across the full line of products.  I’ve fell victim to that, and YES, I do feel guilty about that second box, but never enough to leave it on the shelf and certainly not enough to not get any danish.  If something is pretty cheap, I will occasionally ignore the free second item if I REALLY only want one, but again, I’ve never changed my mind completely.  Don’t let a sale deter you from getting what you actually want.  

Q:  I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia.  I’ve contemplated buying something with PENN on it, maybe a hat?  It’s a nice straightforward navy blue, nothing garish.  My question is, does this make me an Ivy League poseur?  Anyone in Alabama can wear a Crimson Tide shirt without incident, but I feel like if I get this hat, it will lead to a lot of “Did you go to Penn?”  Then the person frowns and walks away.  D.C. Cubed, Joplin, MO.

A:  Are you sure you didn’t go to Penn?  Surely you are smart enough if you know how to spell poseur.  Is Penn a good school by the way?  I was not aware of that.  I thought Penn was where you went when you couldn’t get into Bucknell.  But seriously, I understand your dilemma.  Most Ivy League schools, deservedly or not, still have enough cache that you are bound to get questions about your Penn gear.  Or Yale gear.  Or whatever.  The person will expect you to be an alumni, to have sired or bore an alumni, be closely related to an alumni–something.  If you walk down the street in a shirt from a state school no one is going to ask, or care, if you went there, are just a fan of the football team, or go the shirt out of a dumpster.  No offense to state schools, it’s just the way it is–they don’t inspire curiosity.  What you are asking me is, can I wear a Penn hat because I like the color?  That’s a question in its own right, and then there is the Penn subplot.  I am not for any school getting special treatment, so Penn or Penn State Delco we’re going to treat this as one question.  Can you wear a hat because you just like the color?  SURE.  You just have to be prepared that you may be questioned about the hat and then people will make judgments based on what you have to say.  People are so JUDGE-Y.  

Q:  It’s fantasy football drafting time.  Any great pearls of wisdom this year?  Anita Hundcuff, Houston, TX.

A:  Well, I did win my league last year, so I’m speaking from a position of advanced authority when I tell you, YES, I do have plenty of fantasy football advice.  The tip that is really going to put you over the top is this–you need a QB on your team that runs the ball. Not everyone is going to get Cam Newton, or RG3, or Colin Kaepernick, but if you can, it’s time to bail on the pocket passer.  Fantasy football is wildly skewed in the favor of QBs who run.  Newton won a million leagues two years ago, RG3 was a revelation, even Michael Vick has his moments.  At their best, running QBs are like having an extra player on your starting roster.  Want to know how crazy am I about this?  I’d consider drafting, or closely monitoring Terrelle Pryor* as backup.  Pryor is not a good quarterback.  He throws the ball very poorly.  But, he’s big and he can run.  He knocked off a 25 yard TD run last night, and that’s 8.5 points right there.  ON ONE PLAY.  Who cares if he goes 7-23 for 84 yards if he runs for 100 and two scores?  The Raiders have Matt Flynn as their starter–that feels tenuous.  All I’m saying is, if you need a spot start late in the season, or your guy goes down with an injury, Pryor the running QB might be the choice over Carson Palmer and his maybe 2 points, maybe 20 points weeks.  I think he’s going to be the starter before the end of the year, and it’ll only take one big game on the ground and he’ll be gone.  Keep your eyes open.  So, that’s the tip.  Get a running QB as a starter or a stowaway, and always take the best player available for the first 5-7 rounds of your draft.  A winning fantasy team doesn’t need balance, it needs about 5 or 6 guys that can blow up at any time.  Depth means horsebleep in the playoffs.  Good luck out there.

*Wrote this a few days ago, had my draft last night.  Took Terrelle Pryor (who may be in line to start now) in the final round.  May cut him next week, but for now–he’s there.  

Q: Have you ever given yourself a nickname?  Or tried to get one to stick? Bub Mack, Richmond, VA.

A:  I don’t think I have ever given myself a nickname.  Or gone Constanza and tried to trick people into calling me “T-Bone.”  You can’t give yourself nicknames.  I think I’ve talked about this, but that doesn’t mean people still don’t do it.  ALL THE TIME.  You know what’s weird?  When people come back from college and they have a new nickname.  Do they really?  Sometimes you WONDER.  The closest I got, I think, was maybe when I was like 11 years old I had a three or four hour stretch where I wished my last name was Mc-Something.  OR, could be easily shortened into something catchy.  I didn’t really have a nickname, so I wanted to force one? I eventually got over it.  I’ve failed to get nicknames to stick on other people, but never myself.  I’ve really only ever had two nicknames. There are people now who call me, “Grossy,” something I was not called in my youth–though I would have EMBRACED it.  And, during my freshmen year of college, there was a brief period where I was known as “Crafty.”  Let your imaginations RUN WILD.  

Q:  Any ideas or thoughts about what’s going on here?  Can we get some sample dialog?  

Arnie's Collar Isn't The Only Thing That's...Nevermind.

Arnie’s Collar Isn’t The Only Thing That’s…Nevermind.

A:  Well, as I’m sure everyone knows, Kate Upton had a golf lesson from Arnie today.  I believe it’s a Golf Digest venture.  Golf Digest put a team of thousands together and thought, “How do we sell more Golf Digests?”  So, Kate Upton, accomplished equestrian, and Arnie have a bit of history.  They rubbed elbows during Bay Hill and Arnie remains a sucker for the ladies, although his trademark confidence may be waning a bit in this shot.  Perhaps Kate was knocking it by him.  I DON’T KNOW.  Do I think they made chit-chat? Perhaps.  I don’t know if I have the heart to fully lampoon The King.  My guess is during the entire encounter, Arnie was probably thinking, “If it were 30 years ago, I would have given it an honest shot.  Now, I’ll settle for a hug.”  And from Kate I’m getting a lot of, “Oh, Grandpa.”  Good for Arnie though, and bonus points if he sidled up behind her to work on tempo.  That stuff doesn’t teach itself.  


To Your Letters:

The Accord: Come for The Reputation, Stay For the Ground Clearance.

The Accord: Come for The Reputation, Stay For the Ground Clearance.

This photo was sent to me the other day.  It was pretty much a live action shot.  A developing situation.  The question I have is what is more embarrassing?  Actually trying to take your car (on purpose or otherwise) over a curb, or having people stop what they are doing to take a photo of your situation.  In the past maybe your embarrassment was limited to the tow truck driver who will give you a less than genuine, “Oh yeah, Happens ALL THE TIME,” but now you’ve got people snapping photos, passing them along and they end up on a blog in front of dozens of eyes.  Rough.  And, do you ask if you can help before or after you take the picture here?   Your mailbag…

Q: Is there a bigger take-out food nightmare than the french fry?  What’s the consumption window on a fry–94 seconds? Spud Fry, Galveston, TX.

A:  Yeah, I think probably more than 1/2 the fries we eat in our life aren’t great, we’re just shoveling them in trying to remember what a good fry tastes like.  There can be several frustrating fry scenarios.  Getting mediocre fries at a fast food place is terrible, because that’s likely most of the reason you were there in first place.  When your waffle fries are “luke” it’s harder to justify the 1.3 million calories.  I’ve contemplated asking for fresh fries in a fast food establishment, but you know that every fast food employee is one complaint away from TAINTING the whole kitchen.  So, it’s best to just pipe down and eat your gummy potato sticks.  Take out fries are a whole other animal.  Some food is fairly conducive to being carried out–pizzas, hot sandwiches, but french fries are not.  AT ALL.  The most important thing is that fries are not transported in styrofoam.  I thought we had banished this from earth, but it’s still around.  All fries should be served in a bag.  Keeping the heat in is secondary to texture preservation.  Styrofoam is great if you want steam something, throw some rice in there–go crazy–but it’s the fry’s mortal enemy.  Your best fries can’t survive more than a minute or two in styrofoam, where they may cool off in a bag, but will maintain their integrity.  Any fry can be salvaged in the oven (an important thing to note, and another reason to own a toaster oven), but timing is key in take out.  The last thing you want to do is wait for your food and then wait for your fries to crisp back up.  So, I agree that the fry is a takeout nightmare, but as an American it’s on you to know about good and bad fry takeout spots and if necessary do something to enact change.  

Q:  I saw recently that residents of North Dakota down the most beer per capita and Pennsylvania was nowhere to be found in the top-10.  How does this make you feel about your home state?  Purdie Wasted, Bismarck, ND.

A:  I don’t feel great about it.  The fine residents of North Dakota put away an average of almost 46 gallons of beer a year.  That sounds like a pretty shocking number, but let’s break that down. (gets out calculator) OK, that’s 500 beers a year.  That’s a nice, round number.  Back in college, I would have called that “A Light Semester,” but now I don’t get anywhere near that number in one year.  And, I’m a beer drinker.  So, I guess I have to take a moment and congratulate North Dakota on their THIRST FOR LIFE.  People in all states like to drink, so I guess it depends on what you think being a beer drinker says about you.  I imagine in North Dakota they drink the full compliment of heavys (Bud, High Life, Coors Banquet) without a hint  of irony.  They probably don’t go much for wine bars or tequila shooters.  They certainly aren’t worried about gluten sensitivity.  So, am I jealous of that?  MAYBE.  A little bit.  But, I’d rather be from a state that has its share of breweries, its share of places to get random beer on tap, and things of that nature, because if life is a drinking contest it certainly isn’t a case race.  It has to be something with a little more craft than that.  I’m not sure if PA is a top-10 beer state, in general, I think it is–but I know it’s got to be better than North Dakota not matter how much they drink.  

Q: If A-Rod gets banned from baseball for life, ala Pete Rose, how would you compare their two transgressions?  Peter Rows, Cincinnati, OH.

A:  What the two really have in common is the lying.  And the ego, and the belief that they somehow would never have to be held accountable for what they did.  Alex Rodriguez has done players like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa a huge favor. Those players may never get into the Hall of Fame, but A-Rod is now the clear poster boy for baseball’s struggle against PED use. The guy was not liked before all this happened.  He always seemed uncomfortable with his talent and the fans were uncomfortable with giving him credit for being a great player.  Now, hating A-Rod is the easy thing to do, the only thing to do and everyone from the fans to his fellow players are embracing it.  Pete Rose is a different story, mostly because he was so popular with the fans, but also because most of his teammates will begrudgingly say something nice about him even though they know he bet on baseball. Pete Rose was a great teammate, it seems beyond dispute, and so he’ll always have that and A-Rod won’t.  Rose is starting from a position cushioned with a lot more sympathy than A-Rod.  A-Rod’s sins were and are part of an “era.”  He hardly stands alone.  The enticement of huge contracts and the pressure to live up to them has tempted probably hundreds of players to use PEDs.  Rose was acting alone and as a manager.  Rose, had he bet against his own team, certainly would have been in a better position to “taint” the outcome of a game.  We can’t quantify the impact of steroid use, especially when we don’t know who is using and who is not.  I personally don’t believe Rose against his own team, not that this pardons him in any way, but let’s also remember that Pete Rose clearly has a gambling addiction.  If he was addicted to alcohol, he likely would be in the Hall of Fame.  But, betting on the game has always been a clear rule.  While steroids and other PEDs were at times overlooked and ignored, it’s never been OK to bet on baseball and so I have to say that Pete’s transgression is slightly worse, but I would still put him in the Hall of Fame.  I wouldn’t allow him to work for a MLB team, but I’d lift his ban for the Hall.  A-Rod will have to live his life and that will be his punishment after his suspension ends.  He ruined his legacy–something Rose did not do.  

Q: If you were given one skill, say you could putt as well as Luke Donald, or drive the ball like Keegan Bradley do you think the rest of your game would ever catch up to the point where you could play on tour?  And, which skill would be the best to have “given” to you?  

A:  I think I would have to take the putting, or if I could expand that to an entire short game?  Please?  For me, putting and the short game is such a separator in terms of class.  I don’t want to belittle great ball-striking, but the mini-tours are full of guys that hit it so pure you’d cry.  And, if you ever putted for one week like the worst guy on tour putts you’d probably thank your lucky stars and quit the game while you were ahead.  If I hit every drive 315, mostly down the middle with the rest of my game in its current state I’d probably be somewhere between a scratch and a 4 handicap? Just because I’d be able to overpower most courses and mix in a few birdies to offset my 35 putts a round.  That would still leave me ten miles from the Tour with no chance of ever getting there.  I suppose I could spend countless hours and months on my short game, but it’s very unlikely it’d ever get me to Tour caliber.  The same goes for the other way, though.  If I had a Tour level short game right now, my handicap would probably dip a bit lower.  I once was a 1-handicap with a pretty dreadful short game, but even if I became a short-game wizard I’d still never sniff the tour.  Which is the best skill to have?  I think if you asked most guys already out there, they’d take the short game or the putting.  I think great short games keep guys around better than the ball-striking.  A guy like Boo Weekley, for example, who is always one week away from his next missed cut probably hits the ball each week than Ian Poulter and Luke Donald, but no one is picking him to win the PGA–if you know what I mean.  

Q: I was at a BBQ last weekend and things were going pretty normal, the usual, until suddenly a ruckus (can you describe the ruckus, Sir?) broke out around the grill.  Apparently another guest was uncomfortable with how the host was grilling and attempted to take over the responsibility.  I asked around, and apparently, the host was yanking the skins off the chicken breasts before putting them on the grill.  Was the other guest in the wrong, or are their times when you just have to do what you have to do?  Weber Handsov, Houston, TX.

A:  That is BOLD AS F*CK on both their parts.  I don’t know anyone who has the stones to walk over to a grill and just TAKE the tongs from someone, and at the same time you have to be a particular kind of moron to take the skin off of a bone-in chicken breast before you grill it.  I mean, COME ON.  What’s next, microwaved hot dogs?  Grilling is one of those things that everyone likes to think they can do, especially men, but some people have no idea.  It does look easy.  Fire.  Meat.  Combine.  Sometimes a grilling novice will ask for help, and then you swoop in and do what is necessary to try to SALVAGE THE DAY, but I don’t think you can do something like this without permission.  Unless the guy was about to blow up the propane tank accidentally, you have to keep your distance.  It’s his BBQ.  The food isn’t going to be great, but hopefully it will still be a decent piece of grilled chicken.  Little dry, but hey, that’s what the Sweet Baby Ray’s is for, right?  RIGHT?  So, yeah, at the end of the day, I commend the boldness, but you’ve got to stay back, quietly belittle the chef and never return to his place for a BBQ (unless you bring your own tray of Ribs–surprise!).  That’s the only play.  

Q: What if your mother offered to buy you a couple new outfits, but in order to get them you had to go through the whole process of selecting clothes as if you were six years old.  Meaning she mostly picks the stores, gives you a bunch of crap to try on, you have to come out and show her everything–anyway is this worth it?  Buster Brown, Exton, PA.

A:  I guess it depends on how badly you need clothes.  I don’t really want to try on anything–for anyone–at this point in my life.  I’ve graduated.  Much like taking the driver’s exam–NEVER AGAIN.  No matter how dicey things get.  There was a point in my life when I would happily try on clothes for people.  My mom, relatives, people who just HAPPENED BY–it didn’t matter.  On Christmas, I’d respectfully put on each pair of sweat pants, come out, do a little TWIRL, then move on to the next outfit.  I imagine I liked the attention.  “Oh, blue sweat pants with a grey sweatshirt instead of grey sweatpants with a blue sweatshirt.  INSPIRED.”  But, I outgrew that.  Sometime around middle school when my mother had to wait around for me to roll up my jeans before emerging from the dressing room, I think the dynamic changed a little bit.  Let’s not forget that malls, in general, are also a bit dicey for me.  I once fell in a fountain.  So, unless I was tapped out, and my two short rotation was down to about a 1/2 pair, then I think I’ve got to keep Mom in the bullpen for now.  

The Mid-Week Mailbag.

Less People Would Eat Pork Butt if This Was on the Package?

Fewer People Would Eat Pork Butt if This Was on the Package?

Do you think the pig gets enough credit as the King of Breakfast?  I’m not sure where pork stands in the meat eating world.  I imagine a lot of people would say, “Well, a Pig is no COW.”  The cow is our meat overlord.  And, there’s some truth to that, but the pig is more versatile than Jose Oquendo.  Just look at the breakfast table, or better yet a breakfast buffet.  Are the hotel pans alive with the sound of crackling bacon?  Sausage?  Ham?  Pork Roll?  What part of the pig is pork roll?  I DON’T KNOW.  But, it eats pretty good.  There’s even scrapple if pork roll is a little too high brow for your tastes.  Sure, you can get yourself an order of steak and eggs, but that’s all you get.  How about eggs and pork six ways? That’s what I thought.  So, when eating breakfast–the most important meal of the day–take a moment to reflect.  I think Charlotte put it best, “Some Pig.”  A mailbag…

Q:  Why does every single website require you to log in?  U. Sername, Porch Swing, MI.  

A.  Part of me thinks it’s because they can.  They want to exert that power over you.  Oh, you’d like to pay a bill online?  Buy a pair boots?  Meet your future wife?  That’s going to require a bit of information and you just provide it willingly, because in that moment you are a sheep–a slave to commercialism.  I think the real reason, though, is that a valid email address is a currency.  They can pepper you with SPAM.  They track your buying habits.  They may even know what kind of YouTube videos you like.  All of this is then used to make you buy even more stuff as they cater their promotions specifically to you.  They may also sell your information.  WHY NOT?  I’m sure there is some theoretical value assigned to email addresses.  If you had a list of 1 million emails, someone would tell you that it was worth SOMETHING.  Now, they wouldn’t give you a dime, but they’d call it an asset.  It’s kind of like if your Facebook page gets a hundred thousand “likes.”  That must mean something, I just don’t know what that would be.  But, if the log in page is really getting you down, I suggest some experimentation into aliases. 

Q: Does one sport produce or cater to more pampered/spoiled children than all the others?  There’s got to be an inordinate number of spoiled monsters playing sweet lax, correct?  Mohr Chocolate, Towson, MD.

A:  Well, they don’t call it sweet, sweet lax for nothing, but we shouldn’t really single out the kids here and I don’t know if you can narrow it down to one sport.  I think there is a type of parent who just spoils their kid and regardless of the sport they are playing the kid is going to make you want to throw up.  The vision of a spoiled kid to me is actually related to baseball.  I see batting gloves.  The newest batting gloves.  More than a bat, or a nice Easton bat bag, a tube of eye black or a Rawlings Gold Glove, the batting gloves always said two things to me–soft and spoiled. No kid NEEDS batting gloves.  It’s the summer.  The pitcher is throwing 43 mph.  There’s no pine tar, BUT the bats HAVE GRIPS on them.  So, if you get your kid batting gloves, you’re spoiling them.  I never really had a pair despite plenty of evidence pointing to me being spoiled.  So, I don’t think this is really a sport specific phenomenon, but if you want to break it down to dollar values you have to go with a sport that doesn’t have a uniform.  At least lax parents don’t shell out for various game day outfits.  You have a kid on the AJGA golf circuit and he’s going to need about a thousand dollar wardrobe.  Ever go to a horse show?  Oh, that’s a cute shirt!  It should be–it cost SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS.  

Q: Did You Know that the Washington Kastles recently won their 34th straight Team Tennis match and they then made claim to the longest winning streak in American Professional Sports.  You know, one more win than the Lakers.  Is the most ridiculous/embarrassing claim in history?  Patrick McInrow, Pittsburgh, PA.

A:  I’m glad you asked this, because I have no idea what THE HELL Team Tennis is and why it’s played.  I always kind of thought it was an exhibition?  Like when Pete Sampras plays Roger Federer in front of the oil magnates in Dubai and they split the 1st two sets on purpose and then give 71% in the final set?  I guess, according to some light reading I just did that the players are actually trying to win in Team Tennis.  There is always an odd mixture of players on these teams.  I feel like you occasionally see Jim Courier playing doubles against Jim the club champion at the Port Authority Racket and Skeet Club.  Can you make a living playing Team Tennis?  Do people go watch it?  What the hell is a Kastle?  So many questions.  I’ve sidetracked myself.  So, what could possibly be a more embarrassing claim?  It would have to be something that is barely a sport.  Maybe the WWE claiming to have a Heavyweight Champion of the World?  I’m at a loss.  Nothing is more embarrassing than Team Tennis.  

Q:  Would you rather get a really good haircut and have to sit there for 40 minutes, or take your chances with a five minute special?  Assume they are the same price.  Nick D. Earlobe, Musket Smoke, Idaho.  

A:  As a kid I went to a pretty reputable hair place and there was also a period where I would not allow my hair to be washed in the sink, so while that did save me a couple minutes the process still easily took 30 minutes.  This is how long I thought a haircut took.  And, we’re talking guy haircuts here.  I’m pretty sure 40 minutes is practically a drive-thru experience at the salon for the ladies.  But, I really didn’t know it was possible to get my haircut in under 30 minutes until I went to my first butcher shop.  The longest part of that afternoon was me trying to explain I didn’t want my ear outlined like a Jack-O-Lantern and then POOF I was done.  A whirlwind of scissors and best guesses. Have I ever been pleased with this type of haircut?  Not really.  Generally, it takes a week or so for it to grow out and start looking a little less violent?  But there is something to be said for the efficiency.  No appointment.  No small talk. Having someone try to make conversation with me WHILE touching my head for 40 minutes?  That’s up there on a list of all-time nightmare scenarios.  And, I don’t go for the head massage, or the hot towelette, or the flirting, that doesn’t really do it for me.  I imagine at least 25% of all men want to be MORE THAN FRIENDS with their “stylist,” but not me.  This question all comes down to the quality of the haircut for me, and I’ve got to take the quick one in the end.  After a couple of weeks it’s going to look the same anyway, right?  RIGHT?

Q:  I just noticed that over at Grantland Russell Wilson is considered the second most valuable trade commodity in the NFL.  Any thoughts on this, and can we get a preview on your level of Russell Wilson hate for 2013?  Dan McGuire, Seattle, WA.

A:  You know right up until I got this question I had spent a long and peaceful off-season without Russell Wilson in my mind.  I was so haunted by that playoff game against the Falcons, sitting in that bar, watching what I assumed was a room full of Eagles’ fans swoon.  It was disgusting.  Go ahead and take a rooting interest, but try to at least keep a grip on a bit of integrity.  The good news is that with Chip Kelly in Philadelphia I think I can avoid an onslaught of Russell Wilson coverage.  Why talk Wilson when you can talk Matt Barkley vs. Nick Poles?  It’s the national people who will be obsessed with Wilson (and Griffin/Luck/Kaepernick) and hoping they can rebuild the monument that may have eroded a bit in the off-season.  One of the things that bothers me with Wilson is that the people who write about him are so satisfied with themselves for praising him, and fall head first for this “born leader charisma” horsebleep.  At least the article at Grantland focuses on Wilson as a football player.  That said, I think you have to be brain dead to list Wilson as the 2nd most valuable trading commodity in the NFL.  The list, has its odd moments, in my opinion.  Grantland also has him ranked at the 7th best Fantasy QB, which is a bit easier to stomach.  If I’m an NFL GM, assuming I can get any of these QBs back, Wilson is out the door: Rodgers/Luck/Griffin/Kaepernick/Ryan/Stafford and I’d think very hard about the veteran guys like Brady/Manning/Brees despite their contracts and small windows.  I think three great chances to win a Super Bowl might be better than having Russell Wilson for 10 years.  Then there are other players I’d consider, stop me when you’ve heard enough, JJ Watt, Megatron, AP, AJ Green.  I think that about covers it.  Guess that’s why I don’t write for Grantland.  I think Wilson is still going to torment me for a bit, before he gets figured out, dinged up and turns into what I’m going to call the poor man’s version of Don McNabb.  Burn.  

Q:  What if there was a car horn that instead of making the regular noise could utter phrases, like “Stop Texting,” or “You’re Driving is Mediocre.”  Honk F. Urhornee, Mustard Seed, IA.  

A:  That would be pretty funny.  I’m sure it’s not legal, because it would be too startling.  I know a horn is supposed to snap you to attention, but you are conditioned to hear that noise.  It alerts you, but at the same time–you know what it is.  OK, car horn, put down the phone, go through the green light.  That’s life.  If it was a loud voice–you might freak.  You’d panic, crush the accelerator and plow into a gully.  We couldn’t have that.  It’d probably also ramp up road rage.  Drivers already lose it when someone blows the horn at them–even if they are in the wrong.  I KNOW I’M NOT PAYING ATTENTION, but (expletive, expletive) you anyway.  When I hear a horn I think, Oh, they better NOT be honking at me.  My driving is PERFECTION.  I think we’re getting close to everything being hands free and at some point text-driving probably will no longer be a concern, just like no one cares anymore about having a place to tie up their horse outside the bank.  Of course, at that point, we’ll probably be onto a whole other set of driving concerns–people getting run over by whisper quiet hybrids–or something.  


The Mailbag: A Cure For Common Heat Stroke.

This Guy's Got a Long Way to Go.

This Guy’s Got a Long Way to Go.

I was at Panera the other day.  I’m there a bit.  More than I’d like considering I don’t especially like Panera.  But, they crank out food quickly and I can do my whole, “Hey it’s a salad routine.”  For caloric supplement, I sometimes get a chocolate chip cookie.  Again, the cookies aren’t great, but if they undercook them the right amount–they hit the spot in a pinch.  So, I go through my usual order and add the cookie on and the cashier says to me, “The chocolate chip cookies are really good for some reason.”  It’s one of the most confusing things I’ve ever heard from a cashier.  Did he mean that particular day?  Did he not understand why cookies are usually good (butter/sugar/chocolate)?  Did he have some type of anxiety disorder where he spits out a non sequitor?  I feared he was just making small talk, like his manager probably implored him to do.  TALK ABOUT THE PURCHASE.  It makes the customer feel welcome, or some such horse bleep.  So, here’s this poor kid trying to think of 100 different things to say to people ordering soup and salads.  For me, he spun the wheel and landed on, “the chocolate chip cookies are good for some reason.”  I said, “Let me know if you figure it out.”  The mailbag….

Q:  Are Chinese restaurants the easiest restaurants to name?  Seems like just about any combination of words will do.  Peter Franklin Chang, Humble, TX

A:  I imagine pizza places are up there as well.  Just throw someone’s name on the board.  Maybe they’re Italian, maybe they’re Greek–I DON’T KNOW.  I can tell you I drove by a place the other day and it was called A1 CHINA.  The sign was all caps, that’s not my emphasis.  Was this the Chinese headquarters for the steak sauce?  I’m pretty sure that if you called a place, A1 America–not a soul would go there.  You’d get less business than Babu Bhatt.  So, I think in that sense, it probably is easy for Chinese restaurant owners to name their places.  There is less pressure.  You don’t have to be fancy, or cute, or ironic, you can just throw a couple of words together and let the profits roll in.  Han Dynasty?  Sure.  China King?  Absolutely.  The other thing at work here is that Chinese food is also like pizza in the sense that people would buy it out of the trunk of a Dodge if they thought it was the best Chinese food around.  The constant pursuit for the best pizza, or best Chinese has people trying any place–regardless of the name.  And then if you find a good place, it’s all word of mouth.  If someone told me that the best pizza they’ve ever had was from Ecoli Brothers, you can bet your sweet ass I would try it.  The more working class the cuisine, the less people will be concerned about name dropping your restaurant.  So, Chinese, Diners, Pizza–just call it whatever.  

Q:  When is it OK to turn down a request to share food or drink?  You know that anyone who asks for something has already assumed you’re going to say yes.  Doesn’t this put you in a tight spot?  World B. Free Sample, Chester, PA

A:  I’m not much of a food sharer.  If I have some beers or drink around, you are always welcome, but my general rule on food is: “I’m going to order what I want to eat.  You should do the same.”  The only exception is, if the person asks before hand.  If they say, “Can I have a wing if you get an order?” Something like that at least shows the courtesy of allowing you to change and/or adjust your order.  Other brains work differently.  Some people just don’t value food as such a personal commodity.  They want to sample off everyone’s plate.  Other people are just mooches.  They’ll grub a free snack any time they can get one.  They’re the kid in college who magically appeared every time you had something delivered.  I knew a classic mooch in college.  Our room was always fairly well stocked and all 10 of this kid’s favorite sentences started with, “Can I get a…”  Well, once I had ventured to Wawa to get some soft pretzels.  This was when Wawa’s soft pretzels were still good and you had to drive about 15 minutes to get to one in Lancaster.  So–big commitment.  We get back, I’m eating the pretzels, and this kid asks for a piece.  I don’t want to give it to him, but I fold.  He then proceeds to eat the knot out of my pretzel.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  It’d be like someone coming over and cutting the center out of a tray of brownies.  I was livid.  He thought I was joking around, and I wasn’t.  AT ALL.  The audacity.  Anyway, that incident led to us posting a list of all his “mooches,” and assigning a dollar value to them.  A tab, if you will.  It may have slightly curbed his impulse to “share.”  

Q:  Do you think it’s uncomfortable for men to get a lesson from a woman in an athletic pursuit?  A woman giving a golf lesson for example?  Dolores “Butch” Harman, Tampa, FL.

A:  I’m sure it would be for a lot of men.  The instructor/student relationship is almost like doctor/patient, and I think in that case a lot of people like to gravitate toward a doctor of the same sex.  And, when it comes to sport instruction, I think it’d almost be like a guy going to a female about, I don’t know…potency issues?  It’s hard enough to admit you need help, but even harder to admit what would be perceived as a lack of masculinity to a woman.  I’ve taken the comparison a BIT far there, but there is certainly a stigma to women golf instructors.  They have it tough.  Your average male hacker would probably willingly take instruction from a handful on women on the LPGA Tour, and that’s about it.  And at the same time the man you are taking lessons from might struggle to break 85.  I’m afraid that most men who take golf or tennis lessons from a woman at this point, probably are attracted to the teacher on some level.  They think, she’ll be teaching the me the backhand, and one thing will lead to another and then IT’S ON.  More men should probably be open to female instruction on the golf course, because what teaching golf really requires is an eye for spotting people’s mistakes–not a great game in your own right.  But, even on that level, a lot of women players have great tempo, are crazy accurate, and have good short games–there is plenty to learn.  

Q: Is being a photographer the new being funny?  What I mean is, pretty much everyone thinks they’re funny.  But now with camera phone and all these sweet apps, everyone is thinking they need to share it with the world every time they snap a shot of a cloud.  Sepia Tohnes, Media, PA.

A:  Yes, I think most people would at least say they have a good sense of humor.  Even if they don’t consider themselves funny, they certainly KNOW what is funny and how to laugh.  You can really derail someone’s self-esteem if you tell them they aren’t funny.  Typical reaction, “ME?  I’m not funny?”  Then they’ll say that you aren’t funny.  Then they’ll attack something that you think is funny.  “Oh, and by the way, Caddyshack is STUPID.”  It can get very ugly.  The photography thing is an interesting comparison.  It’s gotten a lot easier to take a picture over the last few years, and it’s been getting progressively easier since the camera was invented.  So, I actually think there are more people out there taking better pictures, because you don’t have to worry about lighting or…that’s the only real photography term I’m aware of.  MIND THE LIGHTING.  What I do agree with is that people want way too much credit for their photos.  They go to some beautiful beach, whip out the iPhone, apply some horsebleep “filter,” to the shot and then they post it online and expect to be lauded for their crazy skills.   I think I’d be most concerned if I was a real photographer.  It’s got to be getting competitive out there.  I think a good dozen people I went to high school with are now photographers.  I’m serious.  That seems like a lot.  I’d get into this more, but I’ve got to run down to the old railroad tracks and take some sweet black and whites.  

Q:  If all your friends suddenly started wearing white jeans, would you jump on board?  Denny Blanco, Athens, GA.

A:  Are my friends pop stars?  Am I eleven years old?  Because if they aren’t and I’m at my current adult age, I don’t really see it happening.  I’ve gotten to the point where I’m no longer going to let denim run my life.  I think I was in college the last time I was self-conscious of my jean style.  This was in the era of bleached thighs?  I’m not sure what else to call it.  I got this pair of jeans and they were fine, but when I got them home and was thinking about wearing them in public I was like, “OH MY GOD, are they too dark?”  That’s really no way to live.  So, after battling tight rolling, fake rips, various washes, etc–I’m done.  I don’t care if someone at GQ says I will look thinner if my jeans fit like leg socks.  I don’t care if the entire world starts wearing white jeans.  I’m washing my hands of it.  And, could there be a worse color for pants, honestly?  I’ve witnessed the white pant trend in golf first hand.  It’s great until you get to the fourth hole and you’ve got stains on the bottoms, your pockets are all marked up from tees, etc.  If I have to start washing my pants after each wear–things are going to get ugly.