You know what drives me crazy? I hate when you think a series of movies is over but then it rises from the dead. Like Star Wars 7, or whatever the hell it is going to be called. My firm position is that the original Star Wars trilogy is a shallow puddle of drool, but I understand it’s important to many people. Fine. But, then we had that prequel trilogy, Episode 1 (who cares) and you just can’t quite shake this series. Same goes for Lord of the Rings. They made all those damn movies, we had to put up with Elijah Wood, and now they’re making the Hobbit. Wasn’t the Hobbit before the Lord of the Rings? Shouldn’t they have gotten that out of the way first? You exhale after the last Lord of the Rings movie, Hooray! No more looking at Peter Jackson, and then you see a preview come on TV and it’s all “I’m Bilbo Baggins,” and a little part of me dies. So, here’s a mailbag to squeeze in before Spiderman, Birth of Spiderman, Returns, Part II, Episode 4, Before the Beginning.
Q: Has Stouffer’s Pizza changed in the last twenty years, and how has another company not tried to wedge their way into the french bread pizza market? Chris P. Crust, Santa Barbara, CA.
A: I’m fairly sure that Stouffer’s french bread pizza has not changed since the first (loaf?) came off the assembly line. Why would you change it? This is going to be a bit circuitous, but one time I told my parents that I had memories of playing in our emptied out swimming pool. Drained for the winter, or whatever. As it turns out, we never drained our pool. So, that memory was MADE UP, or I had a dream about it–something, but it never happened. Another memory I have? Going into the basement freezer and seeing Stouffer’s pizza at our first house. Did that actually happen? NOT SURE. But, it could have, because that’s how old and steady Stouffer’s pizza is–do they even ever change the box? When I have Stouffer’s pizza now I realize that I’m not really eating pizza even though some of the critical elements are there. For me, it’s kind of what a pizza bagel should be, yet it never quite gets there. Is Stouffer’s the best incarnation of frozen bread? It’s pretty high up on the list. As to their competitors? I assume they are in a tattered and defeated pile along the road somewhere with the likes of Hydrox and free AOL trial CDs.
Q: What’s the smallest Christmas tree you would allow to still be called a Christmas tree? Tiny Trim, Providence RI.
A: It’s tough because people can get into a little bit of a competition regarding tree size. Sometimes people measure their Christmas spirit by the size of their tree. Other reasons for bigger trees include: more space for ornaments, more aroma, striking visuals, can support the weight of your cat, etc. I grew up with some pretty big Christmas trees. We had a few that looked like they were there before the house. Is that thing growing into the ceiling? I DON’T KNOW. It’s hard to judge exactly how tall those trees are out in the field and when you get them inside it’s that fabled “little full, lotta sap,” scenario. What are the benefits of a smaller tree? Takes less than 4 hours to get in the stand, doesn’t need to be anchored to the wall, easy transportation and disposal–you can talk yourself into one pretty quick. I’m tempted to be a snob and say, cut down yourself, 6-foot minimum, but I can’t even live up to those standards. So, as long as the thing is real, feel free to go as small as you’d like. Just don’t cut the top off a bigger tree. That’s a FOUL. And, if you have a fake tree, that’s OK too, but it’s not really a Christmas tree–it’s more of a decoration. Important technicality.
Q: How come presidents never have cats, and how many cats would it take to eliminate someone from being a viable candidate? Would it matter if that candidate was a woman? Kitten Conrad, Bird in Hand, PA.
A: If you’ve never used the internet, you might be surprised to hear this, but Wikipedia has a list of every presidential pet. It seems quite thorough. After a quick perusal, here’s a sampling of my favorites:
- Macaroni–Kennedy’s pony
- Ebeneezer–Coolidge’s donkey
- Dick–Jefferson’s mockingbird
- Drunkard–Washington’s coonhound
According to this list, the White House cat may be a little more common than you might think. Chelsea Clinton had a cat named Socks, for example, and cats seem to be a favorite choice among daughters in the White House. I suppose you could trot out some of the usual cat/dog reasoning, but I think dogs are more popular among presidents because they are better for photo opportunities. Cats don’t really bound around the yard with the kids, they don’t have dogs’ facial expressions and it’s hard to get a cat to do what you want it to do. You can pose a well-trained dog all day, but a cat will just tell you to take a walk. Could an old cat lady ever be president? Probably not. There’s too much hoarding awareness out there right now. What’s the magic number? I’m thinking six. Five is a bit startling, but what if they were named Michael, Jackie, Tito, Marlon and Jermaine? That’s pretty PRESIDENTIAL. Six though? Forget about it.
Q: So, Pizza Hut is releasing a limited edition perfume (cologne?). It’s supposed to smell like freshly baked bread and spices. Right. Is there any food you’d like to smell like? Whiff O’Sausage, Milwaukee, WI
A: You know when pizza smells good? When you are about to eat pizza. But have you ever gotten into your car after bringing a pie home and there’s still a little pizza scent lingering? It’s kind of stale and not quite right? I’m afraid that’s what Eau de Pizza Hut would smell like after an hour or two. I’m not sure I’d want to smell like a food all day long. If I had to pick, I might go for something like, “Hint of Candy Cane.” Mint’s not that bad, right? RIGHT LADIES? What are my other choices? Vanilla Extract? ‘Tisserie Chicken? You know, in general, I’m a little wary of people who wear a very noticeable scent. Are they trying to hide something? You’ve got to be aware of your scent radius. I suppose I’d rather smell cologne than B.O., but too much perfume or cologne can be distracting. You can’t walk around like a human Yankee Candle gone rogue.
Q: Do you think handwriting should still be taught in schools? Or should we be spending all our time learning how to type on touchscreens and whatnot? Chick Anstratch, Boise, ID.
A: I’ll tell you what, I don’t like seeing an adult write like a child. All crooked and different sized letters–it just doesn’t sit right with me. I don’t have any problem with bad handwriting, but everyone should be able to create something legible in a pinch. Does someone else have to read this? Then CLEAN IT UP. I saw a note at work not long ago and it honestly could have been written in crayon. There were about 12 words scattered around an 8×11 piece of paper. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Should we be teaching hand writing in school? I’m not sure what we should be teaching the kids these days. But considering you’ve got to learn how to read and you’ve got to learn the letters, it can’t hurt to learn how to form them with your digits. Plus, you’d hate to see the jumbo ruled, three-lined cheater paper companies go out of business. That’d be some unnecessary collateral damage. I’m sure pens and pencils might eventually be eradicated from the earth, but in the meantime let’s keep working on the fundamentals. After all, sometimes you have to write on a touch screen.
Q: Can you stop picking games, please? It’s just clogging up the Pick ‘Em posts and I hate skimming through your garbage trying to find someone with a winning record.
A: I will not stop picking games. And, just for you I’m going to be EXTRA long-winded with my picks. How does 3,000 words grab you? Or maybe I’ll simulate every game on Tecmo Bowl and give extensive play-by-play. Would that catch your fancy? You’re lucky I never pick the Thursday night game, because I’d start right off now with a complete, unabridged autobiography of Peyton Manning. Some “winning” pickers did include the game though, with probably too much analysis for your taste.
- Denver (-10) over Oakland
Big “King of Thursday Night” Dub–34-29-2
Oakland (+10) over Denver. Denver is happy to clinch the division and Oakland needs a win to save some pride. Now if you honestly think I know what either team is thinking, you’re nuttier than me. But people actually try to do this (me included). Just goin on a hunch despite the Raiders burning me week after week.
Denver (-10) over Oakland. Oakland is challenging Kraft’s Jaguars for biggest embarrassment in the league. Denver’s defense is playing better the last couple of months. Barring an appearance by Napoleon Kauffman/Tyrone Wheatley and James Jett, Oakland gets rolled bad.