I’ve got to say, I’ve come to love the mailbag. It’s a great time. I don’t care if I make up most of the questions. It still makes me feel important. Let’s go.
Q: I’m a bit of a Thanksgiving protectionist. What I mean is, shouldn’t every holiday have its window of glory? Thanksgiving gets the shaft every year. Take down the pumpkins, put up Rudolph. It’s not cool. Henry Mayflower, Plymouth Meeting, PA.
A: Thanksgiving is not one of my favorite holidays believe it or not. Why didn’t the Pilgrims make CHEESEBURGERS? But, I do appreciate the desire to not be rushed. I love Christmas, but that doesn’t mean I want it all up in my grill right this second. I went into the grocery store yesterday, and there’s one guy marking down the Halloween candy and another one setting up the candy canes. CANDY CANES? I understand you gotta push Christmas, but how many people are out stocking up on canes on November 1st? Have people been craving candy canes? Are the circular, year-round mints not cutting it? Anyway, I agree Thanksgiving gets sold short, but the problem is, there’s nothing to sell except for the Bird. I suggest you just carry around a portable horn o’ plenty and just set it up in your office, on your dash, etc.
Q: How do you know the right type of pet for you? Pet rats? Cat vs. Dog? Girl vs. Guy? No cliché answers, please. Q, Exton, PA.
A: Well, of course you should get the kind of pet you want and if you are going to take care of it properly, that is all that really matters to me. But, if you get yourself a rat, be prepared for me to talk behind your back and never visit your abode again. And, that’s really the story. Anyone with common sense can figure out what kind of pet they want or should get. If you work 12 hours a day–don’t get a border collie. No matter what you get, though, people will draw some conclusions. If you’re a chick with a tiny little Pomeranian that you carry around people will assume you are high-maintenance and a little bitchy. If you are a chick with a lab, people will think you’re more easy-going, outdoorsy. A guy with a cat gets the same conclusions as a chick with a Pomeranian. And, the list goes on and on. I’m not saying stereotyping is right, I’m just saying it HAPPENS.
Q: Here’s a puzzler for you, how come there isn’t a homemade version of the OREO that totally dominates it? I mean, no one in their right mind would take a Chips Ahoy over a homemade chocolate chip cookie, but sometimes you just have to have the OREO. Freddie Nabisco, Lake Placid, NY.
A: That’s real advanced cookie theory, Freddie. I see what you are saying. I also like that you capitalize OREO like that. It’s a word of weighty significance. The Oreo is just in a category by itself. It’s store-bought and the cookie portion is crunchy. Those are two giant red flags when talking about cookies and yet the Oreo shrugs them off with no problem. And, I can honestly say I’ve never even seen someone attempt to make a homemade version of a Oreo. I’m sure it would be a DISASTER. What is even in a Oreo? Where would you start? I could whip up some chocolate cookies and throw some vanilla icing between them, but that’s hardly a Oreo. I think it’s best not to question it. Don’t look a gift cookie in the mouth, if you will.
Q: So, Northern Illinois beat Toledo 63-60 in regulation last night. That’s college football. Is it me, or are there two different versions of college football? The top-25 play the game we’re familiar with and everyone else is just trying to score as many points as possible. 63-60? Alonzo Amos Stagg, Charlottesville, VA.
A: It is strange to see college football teams putting up those kinds of numbers. The kid from Houston threw 9 TDs the other day–NO BIG DEAL. I think there are two ways to run a successful college program and the scores you see highlight the differences. The first way is to get the best players and try to win national titles. There are only so many players to go around though, so what do the other 100 schools do? They’ve got to make themselves as entertaining as possible. Spread it out and score, score, score. It also gives them a chance to become relevant. Don’t you think some better athletes started going to Boise because they wanted to get in on that action? Running up and down the field is fun, and it’s good for the fans. If you’re going to be 8-4 in a crap conference, might as well average 48 points a game, right? And, offensive talent seems easier to get than defensive talent as well. It’s a little like the old Western Conference in the NBA. Denver, Golden State, Phoenix, they were never going to win a title, but they’d put up 130 for you if you bought a ticket. The good news for you is, if you don’t like the high scores, you can stick with the big schools, but if you want to watch football on a TUESDAY–you’ll need to adjust.
Q: So, the price of peanut butter is sky-rocketing. I knew I should have planted my own bushes (trees? what does a peanut grow on?) this year. Do you have a ceiling for peanut butter price, or are you just going to suck it up? Alice Smuckers, Cape May, NJ.
A: I got my first dose of sticker shock on the peanut butter a few days back. Is that a “4” out front? JAY-SUS. That’s steep. I never even thought about peanut butter being dependent on a crop of anything. You kind of forget you need the damn peanuts. I guess I should have seen this coming. Former South Georgia Peanuts manager, Wally Backman, suggested, “I read the F*ucking Chart.” Apparently, there are charts for this type of thing, but anyway, I imagine I’ll probably buy less peanut butter. I don’t know why. The price of meat fluctuates all the time and I still buy it. Chicken is 4.99 a pound, 3.99 a pound, and I still just get the dang chicken. I guess peanut butter doesn’t rank high enough on the list of necessities to merit me ignoring the cost.
Q: OK, so how inappropriate is this? I’m at a restaurant the other day and they serve me up this giant plate. The thing must be 14 inches in diameter. My sandwich is on there, but then the toppings for the sandwich (lettuce/tomato) are also sitting on the plate taking up a huge amount of space. Then there’s the damn pickle and finally just a tiny little window for my handful of fries. If you are going to set a damn pizza pan in front of me, you can at least fill it with fries and not spread out the damn greenery all over the place. I’m not a moron. I see what’s going on here. Dan Bunyan, Bismarck, ND.
A: Yeah, I mean one of the real moments of apprehension when you’re out to eat is that moment when you are waiting to see how many french fries you get and how good they look. And, in general, I suppose the bigger the plate–the more fries you expect. I honestly don’t know why sandwiches automatically come with the lettuce/tomato/onion. Why not make those people ask for it? I imagine at the end of the day the restaurant would waste less food that way. Someone is always taking off the onion, or the tomato, or all three. I also hate how the plate looks when you do construct your sandwich and there is a SEA of white plate between it and your fries. I guess the only thing worse than huge plate/tiny fries serving is ordering the exact same thing as someone and seeing they got way more fries than you did. That, is THE WORST.
Q: So, who’s going to win this LSU/Alamaba game? 1 vs. 2. Likely ticket to the National Title game. It kind of seems like a big deal. Tim Olney, Bristol, CT.
A: It’s a huge deal. Even I know that. Two college football questions for someone what almost never talks about college football. I really have NO IDEA who is going to win this game. I know I might actually watch some of it, which is a real leap for me, but I’m not sure I have a scouting report for you. What can I tell you? LSU is the #1 team in the country. They’re on the road. And, they’re 5-point underdogs. This game feels like the classic 3-pt line for the home team, so to see it sitting at 5 points, especially when that team is the #2 squad–that makes me think that ‘Bama is going to bring it home. If it was 6 points, I’d say it was a lock. I honestly just hope the game lives up to expectations. College football die-hards have been pointing to this game for months. If it gets ugly, there will be a lot of disappointed faces around the salsa bowl.
Q: What’s the more meaningless job, national morning show weatherman, or sideline reporter? Does Al Roker really need to say, “Pretty dry in the East–Let’s see what’s happening in your neck of the woods.” And, when was the last time you got any good information from a sideline person? Oh, the Colts are down 48-0 at halftime and Jim Caldwell says they need to make some defensive adjustments? Thanks, Michelle Tafoya. Kitten Conrad, Conshohocken, PA.
A: Wow, that’s a toss-up. A total TOSS-UP. I feel like back in the day people were less demanding about weather. Willard Scott could stick a smiley sun face on the east coast and a frowny-faced cloud on the west coast and everyone was all right with that. Now, we want to know what it is going to be doing right in our own BACKYARD. Obviously, you can’t do a weather report for every city in the country, so Al’s been reduced to a bit of a weather emcee. It does seem a little pointless. That said, I’m not sure what the point of a sideline reporter ever was. Teams aren’t forthcoming with game plan information, with injury information, or anything like that, so what are they going to do? I guess people like to see the coach talk even if he spits out a few cliches and pushes his way into the locker room. If you had used Ken Rosenthal as your example, I’d be even more inclined to say reporters, but I think I’m going to go there anyway.