Welcome back to the Mid-Week mailbag. It’ll be the only weekly post that makes an appearance for a while. No NFL preview this week (sorry Pro Bowl) and no NFL Picks, either. Think of it as a nice slow transition into February when absolutely nothing is going on. I think we’ve got some pretty good questions today. Will it cross the threshold into “nice bag” territory? We’ll see…
Q: Do you think Pat Sajak and Vanna White ever slept together? It had to happen at least once, by accident, right? In 30 years? Also, if Wheel of Fortune was invented today do you think they’d just go with self-revealing screens or would they throw a hot chick in there just for the added glitz and glam? Robert Barker, Hollywood, CA.
A: Let me tackle part-2 first. I wanted to say that at this point we’ve moved past the hot chick on game shows phenomenon, but then I remembered Deal or No Deal, which has 25 Vanna Whites out there every episode. That said, I think “The Wheel” is a solid enough show to be successful without much sex appeal. Back in the day, they really needed someone to turn the letters–why not a model? Now, you’d just need a solid host (male or female) and the desire to play along at home would carry the show to fine ratings. I actually think that if Vanna ever retires they may just retire the position with her. I think that would be fitting. Now, have Pat and Vanna ever gotten FRISKY? Note that Sajak once denied this in an interview with Larry King, not that there was some accusation, just an inquiring minds moment. He surely wouldn’t have admitted to it, though, so we’ll throw that out. They’ve been doing the show together since 1983. For much of that time they’ve been involved with other parties in one way or another, Sajak has spent almost the entire time married. If it ever happened, it happened very early on, but I’m going to say…No. According to Wiki, Vanna was engaged to a Chippendales dancer in the 80s, so I’m going to say that cute, little Sajak WASN’T her type.
Q: So, I see this morning that Ruben Amaro is patting himself on the back for only giving Ryan Howard 5 years considering Prince just got nine. He’s ignoring the fact that Fielder is 4 years younger, and both contracts take the players well into their 30s. Is Howard’s contract still as bad as it looks and when do you think Howard will be back? D. Montgomery, Chestnut Hill, PA.
A: If Howard were healthy, his contract would look a lot better, because at least you avoided a comical number of guaranteed years. In 2018, Howard’s contract will probably look great next to Prince’s, but no one really cares about 2018 right now. The Phillies took a calculated risk with the deal, a very aggressive risk, but considering they hadn’t locked up Cliff Lee (again) at that point I don’t think you can say it’s a deal that totally crippled them. If Howard can’t return to form from this injury, then you’ve just got a total disaster on your hands. So, as of now, this is just all spin from Ruben, but there’s a chance they saved themselves a bit on the back-end. A healthy Ryan Howard probably gets more than 5-years on the open market. When will we see the big fella on the field again? Well, the Phillies are having a little mini-camp down in Florida right now and Ryan is down there, working on his rehab. According to Charlie Manuel, he’s a little ahead of schedule, but they’ll continue to move along with caution. The key word in this whole affair will be setback. If Howard continues progressing, I’d expect to see him not too long after the season starts, maybe May 1st at the latest. In the meantime, Jim Thome is also down in Florida working out, and apparently looking slimmer and more agile than he has in years.
Q: When you go to a restaurant that features international cuisine are you obligated to attempt the foreign pronunciations, or is holding up the menu to the waiter’s face and pointing acceptable? Nicole Applebees, Richmond, VA.
A: I’m pretty sensitive to menu issues. One thing I have a HUGE problem with is restaurants giving their dishes ridiculous names. If you call your bacon cheeseburger something asinine like, “The Big Locomotive,” you’ll find that I order by saying, “I’ll have a bacon cheeseburger.” You’re not going to get me to make a fool of myself for your own amusement. NOT HAPPENING. The foreign language thing is a little different, I guess. And, there is that old rule of thumb that pointing is rude. To pollo or not to pollo, that is the question. If I think I have any chance of getting in the ballpark, “parmigiana,” for example, I’ll give it a try. I’ll risk accidentally saying Parma-johnna or something, but if I’m trying for something like au poivre–FORGET ABOUT IT. If you don’t want to point, you can sometimes play dumb. Oh, I’ll have the filet….then you pause and stumble/fumble. The waiter will be impatient and fill in the options for you. Then, you just say, YES. Final ruling–only point if you are in actual danger of not getting what you want. The waiters could probably use a laugh, right?
Q: My office recently got a Keurig machine. Now I know 3Putt has NEVER drank coffee… it makes tea too though, have you ever had tea? Sorry I’m getting sidetracked… I would say 8 out of 10 times when I go to use the Keurig I find the last persons K-cup still in the machine. This means I have to pull out and discard of their used K-cup before I start my brewing process. Is it just me or is this rude?!? Does it take that much effort to throw your damn K-cup away? Do these people think the cup magically disappears or the plastic disengrates and is actually brewed into their cup of coffee?? Just looking for confirmation that this is rude and lazy…. Thanks in advance, Bob Stiller, Waterbury, VT.
A: These are the things you don’t have to worry about when you don’t drink coffee. No k-cup problems, no whining about needing your caffeine, no lines at Star-awful. Think of the freedom, but no, everyone needs their coffee. I have had a few (maybe 3) glasses of hot tea in my life by the way. All when I was coughing like the proverbial bastard. I really don’t understand people’s obsession with hot beverages but, that’s another story. Keep in mind I only have a loose awareness of what a Keurig machine actually is–so, I’ll do the best I can. Is leaving your K-Cup behind rude? I’m sure it is. It’s a little like not wiping down a machine at the gym, I suppose. Not nearly as gross, but motivated by the same insouciant laziness. Unfortunately, you’ve got almost no course of action in this scenario. If you make a big deal out of it, you’ll be “the K-Cup Nazi,” or people will make fun of you behind your back for being an anal, uptight mess. So, you’re stuck trashing other people’s K-Cups. Unless…You could keep it passive aggressive and leave yours behind, or you could even embrace the psycho and go storming through the office screaming, “WHO HAS THE F*CKING NANTUCKET BLEND?”
Q: So, Mad Men is coming back in March. This means another three months of watching people drink like fish…on the job. Is this just all romanticized? Because, I’m seeing these guys totally pull it off. I don’t think we’re classy enough as a society anymore to drink at work. People couldn’t handle it. Thoughts? Grayson Goose, Plano, TX.
A: Here’s an interesting thought. I’m not exactly sure when businessmen stopped drinking all day, but wouldn’t it be interesting if Mad Men went long enough where you had to see Don make that transition? Picture a 50-yr old Don, struggling through some meeting while he fiends for alcohol, or even better offering a drink to some clients at 11 am and getting looked at like he was a total degenerate. I think Don will be saved that humiliation, not that there weren’t plenty of others last season. To answer the question, I think you’ve got a romanticized take there. Yes, the men drank at the office, but that was also an office where sexual harassment was rampant, there was sexism, some good old folksy racism, etc. I think if you want a civil environment to work in, you’ve got to pretty much keep alcohol out of the equation. Plus, who needs to drink at work when you can putz around the internet and play words with friends all day?
Q: What do you think was the most useless skill you learned in high school was? I assume there were dozens. Sketching a quick parabola comes to mind, but what sticks out for you? Dicky Door, Malvern, PA.
A: Let me give you a quick list of honorable mentions: T-Scores, taking the slope of anything, how to use a Bunsen burner, DAM (Domes, Arches, Minarets), leather working (tanning?), using a card catalog, how to spell Ren-Ay-Santz (Renaissance), Eugen Weber, Spanish verb conjugation, and MiniTab. The most useless skill I learned, though, was definitely doing research for a paper on index cards. This was my own personal nightmare. It’s God’s cruel trick against the procrastinator. I was also offended by how enamored all the teachers were with this process. Oh, you use SLUG WORDS. Then you just organize your cards and the paper practically writes itself. Bibliography? Done. Citations? Handled. The most preposterous element of the whole thing was getting graded on your stack of cards. HOW TALL IS IT? Is it an inch? IS IT? Some nerd would always show up with about 500 color-coordinated cards making my 50 (containing about 123 total words) seem so insignificant. So, why is this more useless than say your everyday geometry proof? Well, after 9th grade I never “proved” anything again with mathematics. But, I’d go on to write several research papers in college and never used a note card. Not once. I just pray this technique has been eradicated from the public school system.
Q: So my friends and I were thinking about putting on a pretty big feast for the Super Bowl. We’d like to smoke something. But, we don’t really have a smoker, or know what one is. Can you smoke something in your fireplace? Fire Marshall Bill, Skokie, IL.
A: Can you smoke something in your fireplace? No. In fact, with a question like that, I’d suggest you not use your fireplace at all. Maybe you can toast a ‘mallow in there, but that’s about it. Roast a weenie, perhaps. What were you planning to do? Shove a hog up the chimney? Anyway, to smoke meat I’m fairly sure you need a smoker–not a fireplace. I don’t own a smoker, and I don’t do any recreational smoking. The reason for this? It takes some serious equipment and it’s complicated. I’m going to go out on a limb and say you will not be able to learn how to smoke meat by the Super Bowl. If you’d like to take that as a challenge–Feel free. I suggest focusing your culinary energy for the big game in another direction, but if you are going to press on, here’s some random website on smoking that appears to have a ton of information. If by chance you do become a Cook-Off caliber smoker of fine meats and cheeses, I retract all my sarcasm and request an invitation to your next event.