Mid-Week Mailbag.

Hit That.

I live in the suburbs, which makes the SUPER market a big part of my life.  I’m fairly particular about my grocery stores.  How is their chicken selection?  Does anyone work there who knows how to ice a donut?  So, anyway, in these parts we are under a Wegmans invasion.  Wegmans is a giant grocery store.  They CRUSH the square footage statistics.  And, they crush the competition as well.  Wegmans is the Super Wawa and every other store is a feeble 7-11 with three parking spaces out front.  I like Wegmans, because I like the room.  Wegmans is like a well worn pair of relaxed fit khakis.  Walk into a crowded Whole Foods and be prepared for a claustrophobic nightmare.  I don’t necessarily think the food is better, but they do have some pretty excellent prices.  It’s a VOLUME business.  I just wish the store wasn’t so infatuated with itself.  In the hours leading up to the hurricane I went to two different grocery stores.  Don’t concern yourselves about why.  At the first, they had virtually no water and bread.  At Wegmans they were high on bread and had water everywhere you looked.  Drink in our plentiful water supplies!  They’d even marked it down to $2.99 a case.  Your hurricane well being > our profit margins.  We’re anti-gouging.  SO WEGMANS.  And, speaking of hurricane prep–the mail bag.  

Q: I was out getting some hurricane supplies when I happened upon a large fellow who was loading the majority of the grocery store’s cake display into his cart.  Halloween party or is that his no electricity menu?  Reece S. Pieces, Atlantic City, NJ.

A:  Can man survive on cake alone?  It sounds to me like this guy was going to try.  And, I respect that.  It really is hell trying to plan a menu with no electricity.  I tried to prepare myself, but if the power had gone out I would have been on a steady diet of peanut butter crackers and pretzels.  Delicious, but hardly the building blocks for a whole meal.  I saw a Today Show-style segment on what kinds of meals you could make with no power and the first suggestion was tuna and bean casserole.  That was the FIRST suggestion.  Can you imagine the options that didn’t make the list?  If things get ugly–dive into the FANCY FEAST.  Put me in a room with tuna and bean casserole and no electricity and there’s a decent chance I build an oven that runs on my own carbon dioxide before I eat that slop.  

 

Q:  I recently watched the pilot episode of Cheers.  To my surprise, it was pretty good.  I remember being bored to death by random Cheers reruns back in the day.  Is this a sign I’m getting old, or was TV really solid back in the day?  

A:  Cheers is a solid show.  It was before my time, but I’ve seen some episodes and it’s pretty sharp.  I didn’t appreciate it as a kid and that’s because I was a grimy little moron.  Here’s the deal.  Back in the day certain shows were made solely for adults.  And, not only that, kids acted like kids.  I didn’t want to be all mature and sit down and watch Cheers.  I’d rather PLAY PAPERBOY.   There were certain adult shows, very popular ones that I despised.  Play the theme song for MASH right now and I will get a sour look on my face.  That’s universally regarded as one of the best TV shows of all-time, but I’ve never seen a single episode.  There was nothing appealing to a kid about MASH.  But, every day it would be on PHL 17 at 5:30 or something and you’d contemplate watching it, because you only had about eight channels.  WE GOT CABLE LATE, OK?  I’d say MASH and Taxi were two shows that I got angry at every time they rolled those opening credits.  Can I have another Family Ties instead, please?  I may have been the last generation that faces this phenomenon.  It’s not like kids now sit there at 6:30 PM and have to decide between Seinfeld or A Current Affair.  They can watch whatever, or hop on Twitter.  Did I answer your question?  Oh, you’re getting old.  Deal with it.  And watch Cheers.  Get invested in Sam & Diane.  

Q:  Is unsubscribing from SPAM emails the hardest, easiest thing to do?  Ken Yan Prince, Austin, TX

A: It’s up there.  It took me a year to unsubscribe from Bleacher Report emails.  Why did I ever sign up?  I’d get SO EXCITED every time my phone buzzed, but then it’s just f*cking Bleacher Report.  I don’t care!  But, it’s a fleeting emotion.  You move onto the next thing your tiny attention span mind can handle until the next time that email comes in, and then it’s back to BLIND RAGE.  I got an email from Cole Haan the other day and I went on an internal tirade for twenty or thirty seconds.  Why did I buy those sandals?  They were so extravagant and yet less comfortable than a $25 dollar pair of Clarks.  I don’t care if the calfskin hand crafted and butter massaged leather loafers are now down to $249, OK?  Anyway, long story short, I didn’t unsubscribe.  That’s what they count on.  What other easy things are hard to do?  Maintaining a clean toothpaste nozzle?  Saying no to the Dead Sea salts lotion weirdo in the mall aisles?  Um, how about lifting the toilet seat?  Or, replacing a divot on a golf course.  I could probably go on for quite some time.  Spam is king, though.  I’ll concede.  I have to be very offended to unsubscribe, otherwise I’ll keep holding out for that one pertinent email.  I’m expecting it in June, 2017.  

You Can Lead A Horse To Gatorade, But They Can’t Take Off The Cap.

***Whoa, Picture bag Interlude**

Q:  Is sorbet and sherbet the same thing?  I honestly have no idea.  Trip Scoop, Berwyn, PA.  

A:  I have no idea.  You may be asking the wrong person, because first of all, I prefer the “sherbert,” spelling.  No one wants to say sure-bit, you want to say, “Rainbow SURE BERT.”  Also, there may have been a couple of days in my youth when I thought “sore-bay” was just the correct pronunciation for sherbert.  That doesn’t make sense, of course, but think about “bologna,” and maybe I have an argument? Some words are weird.  Draught beer?  You can’t be expected to know these nuances as kid.  You have to leave a little room for the world to broaden you.  But, getting back to the question, all I know is that they are NOT the same thing.  Sherbert is for smearing on your face during a summer birthday party.  Sorbet is for CLEANSING THE PALATE.  So right there, we’re talking about two different things.  After a quick Google check, it turns out the main difference is that sherbert contains some dairy products, while sorbet does not.  So, maybe someone who is lactose intolerant can fill us in on the rest of the details.  

Q:  I recently went on vacation with a friend who explained to me that sports is the universal language.  I have to admit, I didn’t buy it – at first.  After a week of being shut-out of every conversation because sports was the topic around which everyone (except me) could engage, I now believe that sports is the universal language – and I need some lessons.  And, to that end, how late is too late to develop a sports persona?  How do I get in the game and know which teams are the best match for me?  Balsar Dumm, Richmond, VA.

A:  I think I agree with your original thought.  Sports is not the universal language.  It’s English, right?  That sounds like something a sports fan would say.  There is something about sports that can break down barriers, but you could say the same for music, or other types of art, or food, or most anything about which people show interest.  I’ve been in similar situations.  I once spent almost an hour with two guys who talked only about refinancing their mortgages.  I wanted to do harm TO MYSELF.  But, sports is a big one, it’s up there with reality TV as something that most people are expected to know a few facts and figures.  I was lucky.  I was like one of these children who learns 4 languages by the time the time they can stroll into pre-school without a diaper.  It’s easier to learn things when you are a kid, and that’s when I got a foundation in all the major sports.  I don’t even remember learning the rules.  It just absorbed into my adorable little melon.   I wrote a while back about snobs, sports snobs being one category, and they hinder the growth of the adult sports fan, because they make you feel like you need to know everything IMMEDIATELY.  You will ruin the entire afternoon with one innocent (likely also stupid) question.  If you want to tackle sports, it’ll help to find a benevolent mentor who can watch games with you and field those questions.  I’d start with one sport.  Try to watch some games, then tune into ESPN every once in a while.  They will show you the best plays.  You’ll start to recognize names.  You’ll see interviews.  You’ll naturally like, or dislike certain athletes.  You may take an interest in one, or in a team.  That’s kind of how it starts.  It’ll be a commitment, though.  As far as which team?  Geographic association is the best way to go, because sports are very provincial.   The people you interact with on a daily basis will likely be invested in that team.  Or, if your chosen sports mentor has a favorite team, it might not be a bad idea to jump on that bandwagon.  But, if you are unattached, you can choose any team.  YOU HAVE MY PERMISSION.  The important thing is staying loyal.  I’d sit down and watch the NFL one Sunday.  You’ll see one player you like.  Maybe he made a spectacular play, or maybe he just looks really good IN HIS UNIFORM and you could adopt that team.  Go in with an open mind and try to not let the snobs get you down.  But don’t buy that universal language horsebleep.  Next time just throw a temper tantrum until they change the subject.  The universal language is whatever everyone in that particular room can talk about.  

Q:  Shouldn’t there be a mandate which states that if a city’s football team plays in a dome then so should it’s baseball team? Or if the baseball team can suck it up and play outdoors then so too should it’s football team? The situation in Detroit and Minnesota immediately come to mind.  Skigh Dohm, Toronto, CA.

A:  This is an interesting thing to take issue with.  I can see the argument that no baseball team should play in a dome, or no team at all, but I’ve never heard the same city/same roof theory.  I think at most, a baseball stadium, or BALLPARK, if I’m being super pretentious should have a retractable roof.  You really need grass for baseball, where I think football is completely fine playing on “field turf,” or whatever they call the fake stuff now.  And, as far as I know, you still can’t really grow grass in a dome.  The Astrodome proved this for all eternity.  So, baseball has its share of weather related domes in Seattle, Toronto, Miami, Arizona, etc.  The Diamondbacks would draw even fewer fans, earn slimmer profits, if they played outdoors in the summer heat.  The football Cardinals, though, were fine playing for years outdoors in the enviable Arizona winters.  That brings us to the bottom line–cash.  Lambeau Field may have its history and “frozen tundra,” but when it came time to build a new stadium in Detroit they wanted that roof to keep everyone’s wallet warm in the club section.  Don’t forget that a dome also means you could host a Super Bowl, or a Final Four.  I’m sure they’d love to have a Final Four in Chicago, but there’s no roof on Soldier Field.  I get that a dome in a place like Indianapolis feels especially soft, but I can’t support the theory of more domes for baseball and I don’t feel strongly enough to demand everyone play outdoors.  

 ***

No, Thursday night picks as  of now.  I suppose the brain trust is scared away by this signature pile of AFC West garbage.  Big night for Philip Rivers.  If you can’t blow out the Chiefs at home, it’s time to head to Canada.  Rivers would OWN the CFL.  

Mid-Week Mailbag.

20-Inch Thighs Make 20-Inch Eyes.

This photo was submitted for the bag, but I’m not really sure what the focus was.  It’s a menagerie of embarrassing golf tournament behavior.  Note the overreacting “marshal” in the red shirt.  Tough work containing a crowd of seven.  Somewhere in this picture, I’m positive a spectator is wearing golf shoes.  But I think our focus is supposed to be on this gentleman(?) front and center.  The ponytail is one thing, but there’s no way those shorts are regulation.  No sir.  I’m very excited for the mailbag today, but I’m pretty easily amused.  You can judge for yourself.  

Q:  The “word” F-bomb is now in the dictionary.  I take this as a sign that the dictionary is no longer a valid source for what constitutes a word.  As far as I’m concerned, we’re getting closer to the day when the book will contain only one entry: dipsh*t.  Noah Webstir, Albany, NY.  

A:  The dictionary has, without a doubt, lost all credibility.  Someone over there is misguided.  The dictionary shouldn’t have to keep up with the times.   Somewhere along the line, the dictionary got caught up with, WHAT ARE THE YOUNG FOLK SAYING?  But, that’s not why you should be using a dictionary–to stay hip.  A dictionary is for people who play Scrabble, the last citizens of Earth who don’t use spell check, and people who tend to make up words.  Not words like F-Bomb, though.  Words like irregardless, or naiveness–great dictionary material.  If you want to walk around saying irregardless and say that it’s in the dictionary–GO RIGHT AHEAD.  The only reason it’s in the dictionary is that people have been messing it up for decades.  So instead of being a reference book, the dictionary has come to include any old bit of idiotic slang that penetrates the culture.  There should be a real dictionary and a section called, “dumb things people say.”  I’d be satisfied with this distinction.  I imagine the only thing worse than a dictionary at this point would be dictionary.com.  If you want to see people get riled up, go to a word-nerd website and get in arguments citing dictionary.com as your source.  It’ll cause a small riot.  

Q:  If you were interviewing someone for a job, what kind of questions would you ask them?  Ronald Trump, Buffalo, NY.  

A:  I think you have to ask one question just to make sure that the person is not crazy.  A lot of big corporation type places will sit you down in front of a personality test.  Part of this test is to check to see if you are crazy, but I think the other part is to see if you are smart enough to tell people what they want to hear.  That’s SO KEY for many jobs.  I’d skip the test and just ask:  “Say you happen to come across an on-foot police chase.  Is there ever scenario where it’s OK to trip up the cop?”  If the person is like, “Well, maybe the guy didn’t do it, man.”  Or, “I usually side with the criminal,” then you just say THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME.  Good luck with your search.  Once you get that quick sanity check out of the way, I think I’d be pretty efficient.  My second question might be, “How much of your resume is complete horse bleep?”  My biggest concern would be knowing what I was getting.  If I’m hiring a moron with no experience, I’d like to  know that EARLY IN THE PROCESS.  Then I won’t be disappointed.  If you portray yourself as a real dynamo, but when the chips are down can’t count to ten–that’s GROUNDS FOR DISMISSAL.  The truth is, I’m a real quality judge of character, so I’d probably just eyeball the candidate for a while and then make my decision.  Trust your instincts.  

Q:  If you could fly, but the contingency was you had to wear a cape at all times, would you accept?  Clark Parker, Helena, MT.  

A:  Flying is not the first superpower I would pick.  I’d probably take being indestructible, or superhuman speed.  You see, I’m very slow.  And there are actually people who are fast.  No one can fly.  I’m not really missing out on much.  As an aside, you should never trust someone who says they’d pick invisibility.  These people are generally creepers, snoops, or pervs.  Unless you ask a teenage boy, in which case they’d all say invisibility.  Then I could just totally walk into the girls locker room and they’d be NONE THE WISER.  That’s just hormones.  They can’t help themselves.  But, back to flying, I’m not sure I see the appeal.  You’re up there AWFUL HIGH, and does this include interaction with birds?  Because if that is the case, no thank you.  I can picture myself just sailing along and then all of a sudden I get swallowed up by a flock of geese.  I’d sh*t myself.  So, for that reward, there’s no way I’m wearing a cape.  I maintain a pretty conservative style of dress 364 days a year.  If I had to go through life with a cape–too much for me to handle.  I’m not Frank Costanza’s lawyer.  

Q:  What’s the dumbest thing you heard in the last week?  I heard someone claiming that 2% milk actually contained 2% milk.  What the rest would be?  I don’t know.  I. N. Accurate, Newport, RI

A:  That’s a pretty good one.  I guess that would make skim milk NO MILK AT ALL.  That’s why it’s so healthy. And delicious.  Sometimes I hear a conversation and you think the person has just misspoke, but then you realize, NO–that’s what they actually believe.  I should probably start writing down the things I’d hear, and then I would be more prepared for this type of question.  I’ll go with the following:  I was in a public setting writing a blog post not long ago when a group of wholesome American teens started talking about the state abbreviation, WA.  I soon found out they were talking about it, because they did not know what state it stood for.  This, in itself, was a bit troubling.  I wouldn’t consider WA one of the more difficult state abbreviations.  Now, those A’s and the M’s can get a BIT TRICKY, but the W’s?  I guess it wasn’t so much the one thing that was said, as much as the whole conversation.  It played out like this:

Guy: Uh..Wisconsin?

Chick: There’s no “a” in Wisconsin.

Guy: I don’t know…

Chick:  There’s only 3 states that begin with “W.”  Wisconsin, Wyoming and West Virginia.  

Guy: I’ll Google It.

(11 seconds later)

Guy: Washington. 

(fireworks go off)

Q:  Say football is eventually banned from the American sporting scene.  What do you think would be more popular?  Some version of flag-football that is far safer to play, or some complex virtual reality/video game ball that you’d watch on TV or in stadiums on the jumbo screens?  Paul Tagliaboo, Hartford, CT. 

A:  You’re basically asking me the boxing robot question.  Did I watch Real Steel?  Maybe I did.  WHAT OF IT?  Anyway, in that movie, human controlled robot boxing is the greatest sport of all-time.  People loved it.  Of course, this was a necessarily plot point–so I don’t know that we can trust its validity in regard to this discussion.  What would replace football is a pretty common discussion.  Would baseball get a boost?  Would people finally flock toward soccer?  I don’t think soccer is going to cut it.  What draws people to football–is the violence a part of it?  Because if it is, flag football isn’t going to work.  And, really, that would have no chance.  Flag football is a novelty.  It’s like watching a skills competition, or an All-Star Game.  Would you occasionally see great catches?  Sure, but it wouldn’t be the same.  I think you’d have to go the virtual reality route.  Get everyone a set of goggles and have two nerds FIGHT IT OUT, Madden 2040 style.  So, the superstar goes from being the QB to that guy who’s like crazy good with the controller and sh*t.  Would this guy operate alone?  Would he need coaches and coordinators?  Is one man too easily corruptible?  How would it impact the betting?  My head just exploded.  Let’s save the NFL.  

Q:  You know how people rally around small businesses that are about to go under?  Why don’t the owners of these businesses fake people out?  Instead of letting it get to the point of no return, why not after your 1st bad month be like, “Well, we’re screwed!  Going out of Business!  Thanks for your patronage–Through the Years.”  Then after a month or so, once revenue picked up, it’d be all “WE THANK OUR CUSTOMERS FOR SAVING OUR STORE.”  

A:  This is a pretty strong idea.  Think about how satisfied the customers would be with themselves when they thought they saved the business.  You’d be hard pressed to find a prouder group of Americans.  The trouble is, once you pulled back from the ledge, your customers would probably head back to the superstores or the internet.  How many times could pull off this ruse?  Or how long could you keep it going before someone said, wait–I thought you were going out of business.  You know what people like less than an opportunity to feel superior?  BEING DECEIVED.  I still think it’s a worth a shot, though.  What’s the alternative?  I also hate how people rally around these closing stores.  The Chester County Book & Music Company is closing and now everyone is acting like it’s their favorite store EVER.  Meanwhile they’ve been wearing out Amazon for years.  People like the IDEA of these stores, but deep down they also like SAVING MONEY.  Regardless, you can always count on an outpouring of support in these cases.  Someone will be overwhelmed by that outpouring.  This is the boilerplate language.  The outpouring will be replaced by a mob trying to take advantage of the suddenly discounted prices, and then everyone will forget.  If only the CCB&MC would have feigned its demise years ago.  

 

Late-Week Mailbag.

You Ain’t Never Seen a Set on a Goat Like This One’s Got, Clark.

It’s been a big 24 hours for the U.S. Olympic Team.  Before the games started, most projections had the U.S. squeaking out a slim win in the medal count over China.  Through the first 10 days of the games, China kept nosing in front.  Meanwhile we got shut out in men’s boxing.  AND SAILING.  We got skunked in men’s beach volleyball and we still stink out loud at table tennis.  I felt like we were well behind pace and we were getting ready for a 4-year inferiority complex.  You’d think at some point, China, with their billions of people will pass us by in the medal count, but the U.S. Team has bucked up the last couple of days and stretched out to a 10 medal lead after Thursday’s action.  That’s more like it.  I’m beyond hyped.  To collect myself, to let things settle, I’m going to write a mailbag.  

Q:  Is the pizza bagel the worst incarnation of both the pizza and the bagel?  Finn Agelabagel, Tyler, TX.  

A:  All I can think of right now is, “Pizza in the morning, Pizza in the evening, Pizza at supper time.  When pizza’s on a bagel….you can have pizza ANYTIME!”  That was a tremendous, if flawed, jingle.  The great part of it is, there’s really no difference from frozen pizza bagels and a box of Red Baron.  It’s all frozen pizza.  Very mediocre frozen pizza.  I love people who think pizza bagels are healthy.  It’s on a BAGEL!  It probably has the same nutritional value as a pizza doughnut.  I’ll tell you what purpose the pizza bagel serves.  It’s a bailout for when you end up in some jerk-off bagel shoppe (it’ll be spelled that way–trust me) that thinks it’s reinventing modern cuisine.  The menu (it’ll be written on a chalkboard in flowery lettering) is going to be full of sh*t like, “Goat cheese and bok choy tofu melt with aged guyere on a gluten-free soy bagel.”  You’re going to be horrified, terrified.  And then you’ll see it.  The Pizza Bagel.  You can just order one of those sumbitches on a plain bagel and get on WITH YOUR DAY.  A bagel is not a proper crust for a pizza though, so it’s up there with your worst possible pizzas, but as far as worst incarnation of the bagel?  I think you can do worse.  How about an everything bagel?  What is that horsebleep?  Are you a toddler that mixes all the sodas together at Burger King?  MAKE UP YOUR MIND.  

Q:  So, I peeped your outfits from the JSO last weekend.  Good times.  My question is, is it more embarrassing to show up at a very fancy course looking like a slob, or to a terrible public course like Pickering decked out in a $200 Tiger replica outfit?  Wick Moisture, Tampa, FL.  

A:  Just in case you’ve never been to a very fancy course, allow me to inform you that there will be people there–Members–who dress like slobs.  For some rich people this is their thing.  They show up in rumpled khakis, a shirt that looks like it has been stored in their glove compartment.  The idea, I THINK, because I always like to look freshly pressed, is that they are evolved above the notion of fancy, crisp-looking clothes.  They’re like, “Clothes, oh god, who cares about that stuff…”  Meanwhile, the wrinkled shirt is from cussing Hickey Freeman or some such horsebleep.  They’ll also take you out and give you a tour of their mid-nineties, 7-series BMW with cigarette burns on the leather.  “It’s just a car…YOU KNOW?”  I totally know.  As far as the people who show up to Pickering looking like a Nike catalog?  I want to say that’s more embarrassing, because really–take that money and go play Glen Mills, or Wyncote–get crazy.  But, at the end of the day, it’s just because they are trying TOO HARD.  Maybe they aren’t good at golf, maybe they can’t afford to play the nicest courses, but they’ll splurge on an outfit, because they want to LOOK THE PART.  It’s hard to give people sh*t for something like that.  Bottom line, any time you show up at any golf course trying to draw attention to yourself with your outfit (unless it’s the JSO)–that’s embarrassing.  Who am I kidding?  The JSO is embarrassing as hell.  

Q:  I was on Grantland today and they’re bringing back the bad quarterback league.  They even have a logo this year.  Does D.A. Fantasy Football have a logo?  Derrick Andersen, Cleveland, OH.  

A:  A logo?   What are we making T-shirts?  Of course there isn’t a logo.  If you want to know what D.A. Fantasy Football is about, go to Derek Anderson’s career game log.  Somewhere, among those storied stats you’ll see the reason this all came about.  Grantland’s league is all about flash.  Their scoring system is an abortion.  Oh, you get points for getting arrested?  That’s adorable.  Derek Anderson doesn’t get arrested.  DEREK ANDERSON THROWS INTERCEPTIONS.  I don’t care if Jay Cutler impregnates the entire cast of The Hills (ok, I’d care a little bit if it was LC) and ends up with his own reality show.  The only thing I want to know about Jay Cutler is, does he THROW INTERCEPTIONS?  Does he still have FOUR CHINS?  That’s important.  The rest of that garbage is just window dressing.  Anyone with a functioning brain knows the D.A. scoring system does a far better job of identifying the worst QB in the NFL.  In fact, I got an email from Jon Skelton last year and all it said was, “Thank you.  Now I know.”  No problem, Helter Skelton*.  All this said, we have a rare opportunity for 2012.  A spot has opened up in D.A. Fantasy Football.  Just one choice position.  So, if you read this, and didn’t already run through a wall with excitement, let me know if you want in on a real league.  

*Copyright Kraft, 2011.

Q:  I watched the US vs. Australia hurdles finish and I don’t understand how these tight races are decided.  The American’s arm seemed to cross first, but the Australian’s foot?  Does it matter which body part crosses?  Belle Hossler, Phoenixville, PA.  

A:  I’ve been operating under the assumption my entire life that any part of your body that crosses the line counts.  I thought it was like breaking the plane with the ball when scoring a TD.  As it turns out, I was QUITE WRONG.  I’m going to now relay an answer I saw on the internet, which also could be complete horse bleep.  It sounds official, though.  It says, head, arms and legs do not stop the clock.  You need to get that toned midsection across the line first–maybe a shoulder.  Perhaps some of our numerous track experts can check in with a quick remedial course on the photo finish.  When I watch a hurdles race I think of questions like, how the hell do they jump those things?  Amazing.  I guess the whole thing would be a lot easier if we ran like horses.  Then we’d know that you win by the nose.  

Q:  Chris Johnson said today he could beat Usain Bolt in a 40-yd dash.  This comes on the heels of Micky Rourke claiming he beat Bolt in a race after a night of drinking.  Are the wrong people racing Bolt?  Are we missing out on some epic battles here?  

A:  Usain Bolt has one of the biggest egos I’ve ever encountered.  And, really, how couldn’t he?  The guy is without a doubt the best at something.  We’re not sure who the best quarterback ever was, or who the best hitter of all-time is.  But, thanks to a handy-dandy thing called a “clock,” we can know for certain that Bolt is the fastest man to ever run 100 meters.  That has to be some feeling.  And, Bolt BARELY TRIES.  He’s just loping along.  He celebrates before he gets to the finish line.  This is the kind of stuff that builds a big ego.  Now, think about the kind of ego it takes to think you are faster than the unquestioned fastest man who ever lived.  It’s not like Chris Johnson said, “I’d like to get Bolt on a football field.”  He said, 40 yards–he’s coming out on top.  Bolt certainly starts slower than he finishes.  Forty yards hardly would give him a chance to get going.  There may be some WORLD CLASS sprinters out there that could get the better of Usain for a few seconds, but last time I checked Chris Johnson wasn’t running heats in the Olympic Trials.  He’s fast–for a guy in the NFL.  With pads on, maybe he’d have a chance of keeping it close, but there’s no way Bolt loses a race to a civilian.  He always breaks out enough speed to win–then celebrates.  

Q:  I’m so tired of people bitching about the Olympics being on tape-delay.  I understand why it’s a nuisance, but can you just shut up about it, already?  Wanted to see them live?  Hop a flight to London.  What it made me think is, it’s really the fault of the internet.  And that made me think, what good is the internet anyway?  I mean, really–what is it good for?  Robert Kostis, New Haven, CT.  

A:  First and foremost, I’d say blogs.  I do dislike many things about the internet.  I hate what it’s done to my attention span.  I found myself looking at my phone while waiting for my computer to boot up the other day.  I couldn’t wait those precious seconds.  I needed to check sh*t out on my phone’s browser.  That’s so embarrassing.  I want to say, get A HOLD OF YOURSELF, MAN, and then throw all my electronics into the river.  I won’t do that, though.   Another thing I dislike about the internet is that it’s made me aware of how awful sports fans are.  Across the board.  All cities.  All sports.  All we do is whine and bitch, bitch and whine.  We’re petty, classless, fair weather frauds.  This is a generalization, but I think we were better off when sports didn’t come accompanied by the internet comment section.  Sports bitching should be done among a small circle.  It should be intimate.  The internet has brought everyone into the circle and it just sucks the life out of most things.  Take the Phillies’ 2011 season.  That 102-win season wasn’t much fun.  It should have been, but we spent all summer hearing about what the Phillies weren’t.  Wouldn’t you take 102 wins this year?  I think the bottom line is, the internet is a great thing, but humans aren’t responsible enough to use it.  Who doesn’t like having the answer to every random question at the tip of their fingers?  But, it never stops there. What I mean is, you can’t blame the internet.  You have to blame the user.  It’s not oil’s fault that it’s a fossil fuel and is useful in millions of products.  It’s our fault for abusing the resource, poisoning the planet, starting wars over it and not being smart enough to look into alternatives.  I’m not ready to give up on the internet, but I MIGHT delete my Facebook account.  I’ve already pretty much abandoned Twitter.  Hard part’s over.  

 

Mailbag.

Tech Sector Remains in the Toilet.

***

Q:  You know that Seinfeld episode where Elaine hoards the sponges?  I know you know you it, I’m just saying that to introduce the question.  The question is:  is there a product out there on the market that you would hoard if you knew it was going away forever?  Martin Roll, Lancaster, PA.  

A:  I have seen that episode, of course.  Elaine was the greatest.  Just a girl trying to make her way in the city.  Losing a product that is near and dear to your heart is always a blow.  In the halcyon days of my youth my family would have pizza every Sunday night.  Pizza night involved several rituals, one of which was setting the table with paper plates, the pizza cutter, and an assortment of spices.  There was one brand of spices we were especially fond of, but I no longer remember the name.  FOR SHAME.  It may have been something like Pizza Pepper.  Anyway, we happily re-loaded on this stuff all the time, not knowing that we the only people IN AMERICA who ever bought it.  It eventually disappeared from the shelves.  Our pizza, our cupboard, and our souls–bare.  Anyway, there was often discussion of hoarding if we ever came across a bootleg grocery store that still carried this product.  If we had only known.  And, that’s just one example.  I recently got a bit upset when I found out my preferred deodorant smell was gone.  Would I have hoarded that, though?  PROBABLY NOT.  I think most items I would hoard are perishable, so it would do me no good.  How about confectioner’s sugar?  If there’s a world that exists without icing, I don’t want to be a part of it.  

Q:  I heard, I’m going to say Bob Costas (because really it makes no difference) declare the other day that Wilt Chamberlain was the greatest beach volleyball player of all-time.  Or at least at that point when beach volleyball wasn’t as big as it is now.  Do you buy this?  And, how long would it take for Dwight Howard to become the best volleyball player in the World?  Sunny Hill, Overbrook, PA.  

A:  This sounds a lot like the Jim Brown lacrosse thing to me.  Take a freakishly gifted athlete, put them in a sport that is mostly unawares of that type of athleticism and watch them dominate.  I totally buy Wilt’s beach volleyball skills, because I am sold on the Wilt legend.  If someone told me that Wilt once got the drawstring of his gym shorts caught on the rim, I would be like, “YOU DON’T SAY?”  But, Wilt was a dynamic athlete.  A sprinter, uncommonly coordinated for his height, what do you think you’d be able to do on the volleyball court at 7′ 1″?  Probably a good bit.  And like you say, how developed was beach volleyball at this time?  I think if the U.S. had any great volleyball players they were still mostly playing indoors?  I can remember back to the even the 80s, when Karch Kiraly and company were whipping us all into a frenzy with their indoor game.  Beach volleyball didn’t really explode until the release of the modern cinema classic, “Side Out.”  As far as Dwight Howard goes, I don’t think that would be an overnight transformation.  You’ve got to realize that several countries draw their tallest/best athletes into volleyball.  Howard is a beast, but it’s not like he’d be playing against a bunch of six-footers.  I’ve caught a bit of the Olympic volleyball this year and these guys are animals.  I think Howard would be an immediate force at the net, but as far as total domination–it could take years.    

Q:  What is the easiest food to make that is most often messed up?  I say pasta.  So many people boil it to mush.  What’s their deal?  Al Dentay, Baltimore, MD.

A:  Yeah, I hear you.  An overcooked noodle can ruin your night.  The pasta loses all STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY.  How can you expect it to hold the sauce?  I think there are other foods, though, that are even more infuriating.  Some people can’t cook potatoes.  They serve those f*ckers up with the consistency of a billiard ball, which is odd, because it’s very difficult to overcook a potato.  You’d have to leave the damn thing in the oven overnight.  Has anyone ever said, take this away–the fries are TOO CRISPY.  I doubt it.  But in the end, I’m going with grilled cheese.  How do I love grilled cheese?  They’re so good.  I once had a specialized, one-sandwich sized grilled cheese pan.  It’s the hallmark of any GOURMET KITCHEN.  But, in a cruel twist of fate, I’ve spent two large chunks of my life dealing with bad grilled cheese sandwiches.  At the cafe type thing they had at F&M while I went there (before they put in hundreds of fine-dining establishments 20 seconds after I graduated) there was a meal you could always get on the meal plan that was two grilled cheeses and a bag of chips or something.  Well, that was great, but the people didn’t know how to make the sandwiches.  We called them “smashed cheeses,” because the guy would flip them and then physically assault the bread with the spatula.  Terrible.  Then, I had a job where I got a free lunch every day, but the food was awful.  Just an embarrassment to even the most rudimentary palate.  This place was known for burning the horsebleep out of the their grilled cheeses.  The motto with the grilled cheese is, “If I see black, SH*T’s going back.”  All you need to cook a perfect grilled cheese is a minute of patience.  The heat on the stove should never be high.  Just set her to medium, wait a few beats and enjoy that golden brown perfection.  What’s so damn hard about that?  

***

Not Pictured: The Race Leader.

***

Q:  Hasn’t been Michael Phelps’ best Olympics.  You think there is any chance he stumbles out of retirement in say…8 years to try to fire up a little comeback?  Guy’s only 27.  Ryan Sandburg, Allentown, PA.

A:  I don’t think Phelps could find the proper motivation for this Olympics.  He pulled off the eight for eight, so no matter what this year was going to be somehow less impressive.   Setting the all-time medal record was going to happen with relative ease and obviously the rivalry with Lochte isn’t enough to keep him in top form.  It’d be one thing if Phelps was older than everyone else, if people were passing his times, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  He’s still the record-holder in the 200 butterfly, he just didn’t swim near that time and got beat.  By the way, I think all of this is FINE.  Michael Phelps doesn’t owe me anything.  If he wants to do his last race in floaties–GO RIGHT AHEAD.  It seems to me that swimmers are a bit prone to the comeback attempt.  I think Dara Torres is going to be at the Olympic Trials when she’s 74.  Could Phelps miss the spotlight and more importantly, the sport, after some time away?  I think it’s possible, but Phelps has a much bigger legacy to possibly tarnish.  If he comes back, I think the old Phelps expectations will still be there.  I think the easy answer is, No, Phelps will stay retired.  But, I don’t think we’re known for taking the easy way out here.  I’m not entirely sure that Phelps won’t be in Brazil in 2016.  Guy swims, he’ll get bored doing whatever else.  

Q:  Is “I’m not Going to Lie,” the most overused term in history?  

A:  Ah, the bastardization of language.  It’s like the way people misuse the term irony has become so common that it’s now an alternate definition of irony, and is that ironic?   I think what drives people crazy here is there is no reason to say, “I’m not going to lie.”  If someone says “I’m not going to lie, that cheesesteak was amazing,” it means the exact same thing as, “that cheesesteak was amazing.”  Why must you insist on saying that you aren’t lying?  It’s for EMPHASIS.  But, all vocal patterns like this can be a little annoying.  Especially when I fall into them myself.  It makes me feel so cussin’ stupid.  I think I had a “not going to lie,” phase.  Dumbest time of my life.  Personally, I hate “I mean,” more.  It’s something I can hardly keep myself from writing in texts and emails.  I use it here too and try to edit most of them out, because as conversational as the tone of the blog is–I don’t want it to sound like the streaming consciousness of a mongoloid.  I mean, that would be embarrassing.  Not going to lie.  

Q:  Do people who buy small clothing and small shoes get pissed that they have to pay the same price as the beast with the size 14s and XXL shirts?  There’s acres more fabric in those XXLs.  Gene Tapered, Norman, OK.  

A:  Sometimes you see the big shirts costing a bit more.  You wander into Beer Goggles Saloon and you want a commemorative T-shirt?  Well, that big size is going to cost you, because the guy who owns Beer Goggles only ordered a small batch.  But, when you’re at Target, picking out your Wranglers a 30-in waist costs the same as a 40-in waist.  Wrangler doesn’t have concerns like small order size, so they just drop one price on those puppies.  It’s EASIER that way.  I agree that on the surface that this doesn’t seem fair.  Restaurants don’t charge one price for dinner regardless of what you get.  Gas stations charge by the gallon, not by the tank.  If someone else’s shoes have twice as much yak leather, they should cost twice as much, right?  My two thoughts here are–this is how it’s ALWAYS been.  And, since back in the day everyone was 5’7″, 140–it was no big deal.  Secondly, if you can help it, you don’t want to anger the Bigguns.  HANDS OUT OF THE CAGE.  I do wonder though, if an extra $10 per X on that XXXL would slim the collective national waistline.  

 

Hey Look Kids, Big Ben. Parliament. A Mailbag.

Warm Up the Car for Me?

***

Poor timing for the Phillies to have an off day.  The walk-off win streak will have to be tabled for a day while the Phils have their ALS festival and fly to Atlanta.  The series against Milwaukee was one of the strangest you’ll ever see.  Three straight 7-6 victories, and even though they were full of red flags–it’s still a winning streak.  The Phils have passed the Brewers and now are a mere 6 teams out of the wild-card.  One step at a time.  Here’s to hoping the series against Atlanta features more:

Christmas Morning Chooch.

***

Q:  Given your choice of pitches and any bat you’d like–do you think you could hit a baseball out of Citizens Bank Park?  L. Screen, Temple, TX.  

A:  Those are some pretty generous parameters.  I certainly couldn’t go deep with a wood bat.  You put a wood bat in my hands and I turn into Rod Carew without the speed.  I’d be muscling balls over the shortstop’s head–AT BEST.  Of course, you have to take into account the cozy dimensions of Citizens Bank Park as well.  She’s a mere 329 ft down the line, and I can pull a ball with ease.  The term is BAIL and WHALE.  I haven’t hit a baseball with any regularity since the late 90s.  Dang, that’s a long time.  Our home field in high school had a 340 foot fence in left field, and, on occasion, I could leave the building in batting practice.   So, at one point in my life I definitely could have hit a ball out of Citizens Bank.  The question is, where are my skills NOW?  In my mind, I’m equally good at baseball as I was back then.  If anything, I may be STRONGER.  Of course, neither of those are likely to be true.  In the end, though, I’m going to treat this as an exercise in self-confidence.  Can I hit a ball out of Citizens Bank Park, Mr. Screen?  You bet your sweet ass I can.  ON THE REGULAR.

Q:  What percentage of Major League players do you think Derek Jeter would recognize out of uniform?  I would guess that every single guy in the league would ID Jeter, but Jeter doesn’t have to know that many people, right?  It’s not important for him.  There’s no way if Vance Worley walked by Jeter on the street he’d have any clue who he was.  Where’s the cutoff?  Do you need at least one All-Star appearance? Kyle Kendricke, Philadelphia, PA.

A:  I assume Jeter knows everyone on the Yankees.  So, right there we’re talking about ~3%.  That’s the basement.  The guy has been in the league FOREVER, so you have to assume he knows most of the regulars in the American League.  The National League, guys with only a few years of experience?  That’s where it starts to get tough.  I want to put the number at 40%.  That’s where I’m comfortable.  What I think is more interesting is: does Jeter pretend to not know someone?  Is there a pecking order in play here?  It’s OK for Stephen Strasburg to go up to Justin Verlander, but can Verlander be like, “Stephen Strasburg–OMG!”  I don’t think he can.  That’s not Big League.  I think there is some expectation that a star player is going to be self-absorbed.  Recognizing a guy from a late night Baseball Tonight marathon?  That’s not really Big League, either.  It’s funny that you mention an All-Star appearance, because I do think there is some sense that you have to earn your way in a little bit.  If you stroll into an All-Star Game clubhouse, then maybe Jeter takes a minute away from running down starlets and says, “should I try to remember who this guy is?”  If Jeter knows you, you’ve made it.  I know that.  

Q: I’m a little curious about the Jean Short Open.  Is it happening this year?  Updates please!  Levi Wrangler, Tampa, FL.

A:  Of course the Jean Short Open is happening.  I suppose the proper buildup to the JSO has been a casualty of the decreased blog schedule.  This year we will heading out on August 4th, so you’ll want to be sure to check in on the blog early the next week to get an eyeful of great ball-strikers wearing denim.  Much of the particulars remain the same for this year.  We’ll be teeing it up at Pickering Valley.  We’ll be starting off the day with the prerequisite 42 Coors Lights, and as always we’ll be hoping that it stays under 100 degrees.  I’m a little worried about my tolerance, to be honest, but I’m not going to let my age catch up to me–I’m still in my JSO prime.  As you can probably imagine, all JSO outfits are kept under lock and key.  “THE REVEAL,” is one of the best parts of the day.  I can say, however, that I attempted to step up my game this year.  I went to great lengths (a 3-minute Google search) to try to recreate your standard Rickie Fowler outfit in denim.  As it turns out, the majority of jean shorts I could find in orange are made for women and have a 3″ inseam.  So, I will not be Puma’d up for the JSO this year, but I’m sure my playing partners will more than make up for this disappointment.  As for me?  I’ll just be hitting up Ross the day before, as usual.  Ross is BOSS.  

Q:  Is what happened with the Marlins this year the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever seen?  The Miami baseball renaissance lasted what? Three months?  Orestes Destrade, Jupiter, FL.  

A: Ah, the joys of professional baseball in Florida.  The Marlins have a checkered history.  One thing they’ve done consistently is sell off veteran players.  They’ve had a surprising amount of success doing this, but horrific attendance and cheap owners have prevented any sustained run.  This year was supposed to be the year it all changed, though.  They opened their new stadium.  They signed a bunch of high-priced talent.  They had Ozzie Guillen to run the show.  I’ll admit that I was swayed by the glitz and glam.  I thought the Marlins had a shot at contending.  Of course, I thought the Phillies had a shot at contending too.  The pieces just didn’t seem to fit in Miami.  And, they gave up on it pretty quick.  They shipped off Anibal Sanchez and Hanley Ramirez.  They say they aren’t in full tear down mode, but can you trust Jeffrey Loria?  This is a guy who sold the Expos to MLB to buy the Marlins in a shady series of events.  You forget how close the ‘Pos got to being contracted.  Loria talks a good game, but hasn’t backed it up aside from last winter.  I fear for the future of the Marlins.  The question is, how embarrassing?  It’s definitely up there when you look at on the surface, but maybe trading Hanley was the right play?  The guy has been terrible for a year and a half.  Now, they’re free of his salary.  They still have a lot of talent, so we’ll see.  Plus, when Houston is 2-24 in their last 26 games, it’s a bit difficult to wrestle away the embarrassing crown.  

Q:  Does it ever surprise you what people say in public?  Like they just assume you won’t be offended.  I was strolling through a department store the other day and two employees were standing out in the center of a main aisle, having a conversation.  One of them said as I walked by, “I hate when fat people talk about how much weight they’ve lost.”  Now even if you were thinking this, would you say it within earshot of a stranger?  Take a beat and wait until I pass by?  Noah Filter, West Chester, PA.

A:  Were you at Bloomies?  I feel like only Bloomingdales employees would have such audacity.  Saying something like that takes an old school disdain for the downtrodden and overweight.  I’m not going to pretend that I don’t, on occasion, say some pretty nasty things, but it is important to show some decorum.  Or at least have an awareness of your surroundings.  I think I’ve documented some occasions when I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth, and you feel terrible about it.  I bet these ladies didn’t blink.  I hear things at work all the time that are borderline offensive.  I guess because I am your standard white guy, people feel comfortable throwing around their casual bigotry.  One time a lady told me that a certain product had gone downhill after they started making it in China.  The way she phrased it was WAY MORE racist.  On another occasion a guy was spouting off about how “gay” Key West was.  He was going on about the standard fear of being hit on by other men.  Somehow I think the men he was describing would have shown remarkable RESTRAINT.  The point is, he doesn’t know a thing about me, but he’s comfortable saying all this without a hint of remorse.  I want to think it’s a bit of a generational thing.  You’d hope the younger generation would be a bit more exposed to such things, a bit more aware, but I’m not sure that’s the case.  One of these days, I’m going to tell one of these people that they’re a prick.  Should make for an interesting story.    

Q:  What are your thoughts on attending NFL Training Camp as a spectator?  Snake Draft, Colorado Springs, CO.

A:  I’m not aware of a more boring “sporting event” to attend.  I use the quotations there, because it’s really not an event.  Nothing is happening.  It’s hardly a practice.  In my youth I attended Eagles training camp at West Chester once or twice.  I remember it being very hot and little else.  I think the general consensus was…AUTOGRAPHS!  I didn’t get any autographs, which is a shame, because I really could use a scrap of paper with Heath Sherman’s name on it right about now.  The attendance at training camp is just a sign of the desperation people feel in regard to the NFL.  I saw a clip of Broncos’ camp this morning and it was a FULL HOUSE.  It was the first chance to see Peyton Manning, dang it.  You’ve got to understand the mentality of certain fans too.  Say you are out there in Denver, what are you excited about these days–the Nuggets?  The Rockies stink.  The pre-season in sports is a lot about HOPE.  When fans show up to Spring Training they think–maybe this year.  For football this is the time of year for unadulterated optimism, so that can carry you through the slog of training camp.  Because, believe me, it’s terribly boring to watch.  Assuming you have any idea what’s going on (you don’t), it’s still just a chance to break in your new jersey.  Best case scenario you see a fight.  Worse case–heat stroke.  

 

An Open Bag.

Have You Heard of the “No-Doubles” Defense?

How early do you get up to watch the Open Championship on a day like today?  My body rejects early wake-up calls.  I go to bed too late.  But I hauled myself out of bed in the predawn light this morning to check in on the 1st round of a golf tournament.  There’s no way I’ll get up early tomorrow, and by the weekend the leaders will tee off at a more reasonable time, but for the opening round, I found myself wanting to get a taste of how the event was going before 10 am.  Tiger was off early and was already under par when I flicked on tube.  The weather was calm–disappointing.  After watching for a few holes, it became obvious Tiger was going to shoot a solid round.  I made an executive decision.  Back to bed.  I needed to rest up for the mailbag.  

Q:  I think Wheels is a nice guy–that said, any opportunity to deep six him from broadcasting?  Can he take McCarthy with him?  What are the chances?  Press Mute, Palermos, PA.  

A:  Wheels is a very nice guy.  He’s also a great sport.  This may be a slight bit of hyperbole, but I’m not sure anyone takes as much sh*t as Wheels.  For most of his adult life he’s been getting picked on like the manager of your high school basketball team.  Pretty much everyone associated with the Phillies rides Wheels pretty hard and he takes it all in stride.  Hell, I once came across Wheels in my youth and I was encouraged by surrounding adults to question him about his hair situation.  No one is really sure what’s GOING ON UP THERE, but I was about eight years old at the time and Wheels was already fair game.   But, none of that has anything to do with his broadcasting.  Wheels is an odd man in the booth, because he’s more of a color analyst, but he never played the game at a high level.  He doesn’t have Harry’s great voice, and he doesn’t have Richie’s credibility and war stories–so a lot of people think, what does this guy know?  What does he bring?  Most times Wheels knows what he’s talking about, but you get the sense that he only knows because he’s been doing it for so long.  Which brings us to the second problem–broadcaster fatigue.  Listen to anyone do a few thousand games and you’ll eventually get sick of them.  Wheels is especially bad at repeating the same things over and over.  No-doubles defense.  Great running counts.  ENOUGH ALREADY!  In terms of getting rid of him?  I’ve got some bad news.  The Phillies don’t really fire broadcasters.  It’s not going to happen.  You’d have better luck ousting a tenured professor.  I’d boot McCarthy first, anyway.  Then Sarge.  

Q:  I had a dream the other night and I was cleaning up after a party.  Massive clean up.  I had this giant trash can full of empties.  Should I feel bad that I didn’t dream about the actual party?  Floater McGavin, Trenton, NJ. 

A:  I very rarely remember my dreams.  Sometimes I have a dream and I think…that was SOMETHING.  But then when I wake up for good–it’s gone.  Wiped clean.  When I do remember my dreams, they are incredibly boring.  I have a tendency to dream only about things that I do in my actual life.  Kind of blows the definition of a dream–doesn’t it?  In my dreams maybe one thing will be out of whack, but I’ll be working at a job that I had in the past.  Oh, you wouldn’t believe this dream I had!  I was working in a golf shop.  So, so freaky.  Sometimes I wonder if my REM sessions aren’t creative enough.  I’ve never dreamed of sharing a gourmet picnic basket with January Jones, for example.  But, getting back to your clean-up dream….I do think you should feel bad about missing the party.  It was obviously epic.  Beers were chugged, bad decisions were made, and WHERE WERE YOU?  But seriously, I happen to be an amateur dream analyst.  I’m afraid this probably wasn’t a dream about a party.  It was a dream about cleaning.  Do you live in a rat trap?  You do, don’t you?  Your subconscious isn’t telling you that you missed the party, it’s telling you to grab a mop and stand a post.  

Q:  Do you think people will ever actually live on the Moon?  George Jetsin, Altoona, PA.  

A:  I’m not so sure.  It’s hard for me to imagine things that aren’t going to happen in my lifetime.  Like someone walks up to me and says, “The sun is going to go dark in 10,000 years–thoughts?”  I have no idea what to say.  I can’t imagine something like that.  It’s too abstract.  As far as living on the moon goes, I sometimes think we get a little bit carried away with the whole futuristic thing.  What I mean is, we don’t predict the future correctly.  We didn’t see the internet coming–we thought we’d have flying cars.  Living on the moon seems like a last-ditch type of thing.  Who would want to go to the Moon?  They’d first have to relocate an NFL team just to get some people interested.  But really, the Moon doesn’t have SH*T.  It’d have to be a situation where we bungled up the Earth so badly that we were desperate for new areas to sully.  If that was the case, would we be in a position to colonize?  Would it be too late?  Would we have used all our resources sucking the last bits of oil from the Earth?  I’m sure how we live will change drastically, but lunar condos?  That’s too far out for me to even fathom.  

Q:  Is two small pizzas the dumbest pizza order ever?  What’s a small run?  7, 8 bucks?  Ever hear of splitting a large?  First time eating pizza?  Come on now.  

A:  On the surface it seems like a dumb order.  Can you imagine if they were the same toppings?  How angry would that make you?  SO ANGRY.  My guess is, the person had two bratty, spoiled kids.  They probably both demand their own personal cheese pizza or else they throw a temper tantrum.  That’s the picture I have in my mind.  The amazing thing about pizza is that people eat so much of it and very few people can order it correctly.  Several things can go wrong ordering pizza.  You can under-order.  More troubling is ordering the wrong amounts of the wrong toppings.  The worst person to get pizza with is someone who says, “Oh, I’ll eat anything.  Olives?  Sure!”  Then you get a few of these people together and they end up ordering some topping travesty.  “Let’s get one pepperoni and one olive, mushroom and avocado.”  This is the point where I start to get really nervous.  Because what inevitably happens is the pizza gets there and the morons have their one slice of clusterf*ck and then they see that glorious pepperoni.  They know what they did.  They screwed up their order.  So, they dive in to the normal pizza because they think their original, “I’ll eat anything,” gives them free rein.  NO.  No, it doesn’t.  Long story short, you’re starving and there are four pieces of olive sitting in the box.  If you are one of the people who does this–hang your head in shame.  To be properly enjoyed, pizza has to be ordered in the right company.  It’s nice to have a friend who has a weak spot for ordering a safety large, or an emergency ‘boli.  

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Bless Her Heart.

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1988 N.W.A. Summer Camp Yearbook.

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Q:  What do you think will be around longer, the USA Today or the SI Swimsuit issue?  Joe Sudoku, Paoli, PA.  

A:  Interesting question.  Unlike lunar habitation, a world without printed, tangible media doesn’t seem that far-fetched.  I know you mention the swimsuit issue in particular, but I don’t see SI staying in print simply to circulate the annual bikini-fest.  So, we’re basically talking about SI vs. the USA Today.  From the numbers I could find, in a very abbreviated search, it seems that Sports Illustrated has fared relatively well in recent years in terms of circulation.  We’re not anywhere close to seeing the last issue of SI, it has millions of subscribers.  It also isn’t forced to cover news in the strictest sense.  Sports Illustrated doesn’t have to report on who won the World Series, it provides the context, the background, the human interest.  There’s a much less strict demand on the news cycle for those types of stories.  What newspapers face is that by the time they get a paper in your hands every morning, it’s likely you already know the headlines.  Unless you particularly like the Jumble, I’m not sure there is a reason to buy a paper, unless you “just like your DAMN MORNING PAPER.”  And, believe me, I understand that argument.  I don’t think it’s going to be enough to sustain papers for much longer, though.  If you were guessing, perhaps the USA is one of the last five papers to die?  NY Times, WSJ, anything else?  It’s going to end, though, and I think sooner than Sports Illustrated stops their presses.  And it won’t hurt to have that swimsuit issue, because if one thing is certain, even if you’ve seen a million pictures of women in bikinis, that doesn’t mean you don’t want to see one more.  

Q:  Considering its prominence in Hollywood, do you think anyone would ever make a movie, say a psychological thriller, about escaping the tyranny of a Scientologist?  Considering what gets made these days, this seems like a layup of an idea?  Kate Cruz, Capeside, MA.  

A:  Was Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining a scientologist?  I think a movie like this would do very well, because there is so much mystery surrounding Scientology, and what you do hear about it only adds to the level of intrigue.  There are levels and thetans–it sounds an awful lot like science fiction.  I remember seeing the Dianetics commercial when I was a kid and to think that has somehow become the chosen religion of many stars is hard to believe.  What struck me about the commercial is that I had absolutely no idea what it was about.  That has not changed.  So, if someone made a movie about Scientology, I would probably watch just out of simple curiosity.  It’d be like unlocking the secrets of the Freemasons.  I think Tom Cruise really holds all the cards here.  If someone is going to make a movie about Scientology, it’ll be Tom.  And if he did there would have to be a reasonable chance that his “vision” got lost in translation.  The big reveal might be–Tom Cruise is out of his flippin’ mind.  

The Mailbag Is The Greatest Happening In Sports Today.

The Door to the Phillies’ Bullpen Opens…

The All-Star Break will drag on for another day this year, so we get to “double up” on the worst sports day of the year.  I heard they were playing a few WNBA games, but how do you prove something like that?  As surprising as it sounds, considering how badly the Phillies season has gone, I actually felt myself noticing the absence of action tonight.  Someone should plan a big event for these two days next year, and I’m not talking about the ESPYs.  If you are watching the ESPYs right now–you have unmatched courage.  I’m going to distract myself with the mailbag.

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“Put the Camera Down and Pass Me the Remote, Dipsh*t”

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Q:  When did avocado become so popular?  Why is it on every sandwich now?  Is it a condiment?  I’m confused.  Brewster Louis Thurgood, Alexandria, VA.  

A:  You’re confused?  The word I’d land on would be…horrified.  I think my life, and certainly my television watching was better off when the avocado wasn’t so IN MY FACE.  If you walked into your basic Acme twenty years ago, the avocado was about as exotic as it got.  There was a noticeable lack of starfruit and pomegranate.  Think of all those poor bastards wandering around not knowing about SUPERFOODS.  Of course, people will talk themselves into loving anything that is considered healthy.  Oh, it goes on everything!  Doubtful.  If you want to get a little tingly over guacamole, go right ahead, but plain ‘cado?  I’m out of my depth.  Shouldn’t it at least be mixed with something?  Mayocado?  Putting that aside, what comes to mind is my memories of people picking out an avocado.  It’s a real struggle in the store and then they get these f*ckers home and it’s all, “Nope!  Not a good one, TRASH IT.”  The ‘cado is terribly fickle.  Which brings me to Wawa and Subway putting this food on everything.  Do we think these two chains are getting the cream of the avocado crop?  Of course they aren’t, but the sheep are still lining up and wearing out the avocado button on those touchscreens.  The good news is, once a trend hits Subway–it has to be dead.  The replacement for the avocado is right around the corner.  We just don’t know how super of a food it is yet.  

Q:  What do you think is the most annoying profession in the world?  Craig List, Miami, FL.  

A:  There are different ways to be annoyed.  Are you actively bothered by the person?  Professions like telemarketer come to mind, or customer service call center bot, or any person that spends a lot of time on the phone–these people drive you crazy.  But in today’s world, people answer their phone less and less.  I can’t remember the last time I actually had to deal with a telemarketer.  You just ignore that noise.  If you’re calling me, YOUR NAME BETTER SHOW UP ON MY PHONE.  If not, that sweetie is going to voice mail.  So, I’m going to let the telemarketers off the hook.  They can’t love looking themselves in the mirror anyway.  The other category of annoying is:  someone who has a cushy job, but shows absolutely no skill that justifies their particular employment.  If you want to get angry at a professional athlete who makes 20 million dollars a year, I’d suggest trying to make a professional sports team on your own athletic merit.  At the end of the day, that stuff doesn’t really bother me, what does?  Something like a golf travel writer.  Do I need 1,000 words on why Bandon Dunes is so amazing?  Do I care that you played the entire British Open Rota in six days?  Am I looking for a great course in the hills of North Carolina that costs a mere $145 during the week?  NO!  Oh, you had a good time on your all expenses paid junket?  I’M SHOCKED.  I should try to play Pebble Beach before I die?  Thanks for letting me know, I’ll go make a tee time RIGHT NOW.  

Q:  I saw a commercial for NyQuil ZZZ (?) or something like that?  It’s NyQuil you take when you aren’t sick just so you sleep better.  The commercial said it’s “not habit forming.”  I guarantee someone is going to start chugging this stuff every night.  Pop Ambien, Mesa, AZ.  

A:  If you only knew how many times I contemplated slugging some ‘Quil before I hit the sack when I was feeling healthy.  Let’s say you’ve got an early flight and you’re anxious and you find yourself still staring at the clock five hours before the alarm is set to go off?  That screams NyQuil, doesn’t it?  I’ve never given into the temptation, though, because I don’t want to be addicted to anything.  Not even the so you can rest medicine.  It’s my understanding that NyQuil has some booze in it–that’s not true, but it can give you a buzz.  In high school I knew multiple kids who would opt for NyQuil when the supply of Red Dog ran out.  There was a kid on my baseball team who claimed he once passed out after drinking NyQuil and woke up believing he had become a dwarf.  TRUE STORY.  The point I’m getting at is that NyQuil is pretty deadly.  It’s always done the trick for me, but I treat it like Charlie Manuel treats Jonathan Papelbon.  I don’t want to use it just any old time.  It has to be a SAVE SITUATION.  The thought of a non-boozy NyQuil is intriguing, and I guess what they are saying is, you won’t become chemically dependent on the stuff–even if you do drink it down every night.  So when you go overboard, and wake up three days later, the good news is: no withdraw symptoms.  

Q:  So, I heard recently that sitting in a chair all-day can take years off your life.  How much exercise do you think it takes to compensate for butt to chair?  Is 2 to 3 hours a day realistic or excessive?  XaQutioner, Aging Well, PA.

A:  I think if I start offering fitness advice on this blog the Earth may actually start spinning on an alternate axis.  All I can do is speak from my personal experience, and as someone who has gained, and lost, and gained, and lost some weight over the years I can say for certain that sitting around all day is a killer.  When I hit my peak of skinniness, I was on a pretty good fitness regimen, but my job also required me to be on my feet and/or walking around for about 8 hours a day.  That’s a lot of extra calories.  I’ve had similar good runs of fitness, but paired with a more sedentary lifestyle, I’m still waiting to get back into my skinny jeans.  I’ve seen that some people have taken to standing desks to fight the butt to chair phenomenon of which you speak.  I suppose that works, but if that’s impractical, can you exercise your way out of this scenario?  I’m sure you can.  And my first reaction is, if you are working out 2 to 3 hours a day and it’s not enough?  You’re either eating WAY TO MUCH, or working out the wrong way. My guess is you’ve been pulled in by some scare tactics.  These “Sitting Yourself to Death,” pieces that you are seeing aren’t targeted at people who exercise every day.  They’re more for the guy sitting on his couch that uses his gut as a TV tray.  

Q:  Have you heard this Hamels to Texas trade rumor?  Apparently Buster Olney was reporting that the Rangers would give up two top prospects (Olt and Profar), David Murphy and two other minor league players.  There’s no way this is on the table, right?  If it was it’d be done.  Patricia Gilicke, Olney, PA.

A:  A five for one deal?  The Phillies have a distinguished history in such deals.  Perhaps you remember the Phils shipped off five players for the rights to Von “Stick” Hayes.  Von could never quite live up to the expectations of being traded for five players.  This time, the Phillies would be on the other side, getting five players for a Cole Hamels rental.  The speculation around the Hamels situation has reached ridiculous proportions.  No one knows what’s going to happen.  I think might even include the Phillies’ front office.  You want to trust that the boys have a plan, but at this point–I’m not sure.  It’s impossible to judge how the fans would react to a sell-off and giving up on the year might be harder for Ruben and Co. than it is for the fans.  Admitting failure, admitting the math is against you is tough to do.  We also have no idea of Cole’s value.  All it takes is one team to offer up a huge package, and the Rangers could be that team.  Texas could very well be desperate.  They’ve lost two consecutive World Series.  They’re looking at Josh Hamilton in the last year of his deal.  It has to be tempting to seize the day, especially when the prospects they are trading are highly regarded, but not guaranteed.  That said, this specific package seems too good to be true.  Some people think the Phillies wouldn’t even be able to get Olt straight-up.  To get a MLB outfielder, Olt and an even higher rated prospect in Profar would be Amaro’s best deal as the GM.  If the Rangers have offered this up, the only thing keeping the Phils from accepting is the dream of a 50-win 2nd half.  But I doubt that’s the case.  

Q:  I love to watch movie previews.  At the theater, I mean–not online.  I get pretty upset if I miss any of the previews and when most of the audience groans when that 5th preview comes on, I find myself hoping for number six.  How long do you think a theater could run previews for before the whole audience rioted?  Clip Trailer, Norman, OK.  

A:  I like the previews too.  I like to make jokes during the previews.  Really OBVIOUS jokes.  It passes the time.  The other great thing about the previews is you inevitably walk out of your movie and ask the person you’re with, “What was that preview that looked good?”  Then, neither of you remember it.  In general, I think people want to get the movie started.  Especially these days when you can watch a trailer whenever you want–why waste 15 minutes before the feature?  What the theaters have going for them is that before the movie starts everyone is shoving popcorn and candy into their holes.  It’s like over-feeding a wild animal to keep it sated, as long as that hand isn’t hitting the bottom of the popcorn tub you should have some time to play with.  But a lot of this will depend on the audience.  When something goes wrong in a group setting you need someone to take the lead.   The majority of the audience would sit there and say, “Oh my god, another preview?  Is this right?”  They’d be upset, but they’d still sit there.  Other people are proactive.  They’d take action.  They can’t wait to report something to an usher.  If the right person is sitting there, as soon as that sixth preview started they’d be up like a shot and in the manager’s face.  But factoring in most people would have to complain about it on Twitter first, then do something, I’d say the absolute max would be 24 minutes of previews.