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?
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.