I assisted in jump starting a car the other day, and by that I mean I popped one (1) hood and leafed through the car’s owner manual. This came just a few minutes before my sister would say, “The manual’s always wrong,” and then throw caution to the wind by not grounding the cables at all. Are you supposed to ground the cables? Does jumping a car really require any caution at all? I DON’T KNOW. But, the point is, the car started up and that’s always a real source of pride. I had a car in college that thought you were trying to steal it every time you had to jump the battery. Keep in mind college is a ripe environment for things like, “left the dome light on for 11 days,” etc. So, as soon as you hooked up the jumper cables the alarm would start wailing away. It was enough to make me give up and just call AAA. Can someone get this thing started? I’m late for a game of beer pong. For the last time in 2012…The Mail Bag.
Q: I have a friend who wears around his fantasy football championship shirt. It’s in a pretty heavy rotation. While I understand the pride, shouldn’t he realize he’s an adult and save that for “No-Shower Sundays” on the couch or something? Pitt Staynes, Exton, PA.
A: Odd timing for this question seeing as I just won my fantasy football league. Thanks for asking! We do not distribute any clothing to the winner, though maybe we should. I was once part of an Intramural Flag Football Championship team in college. I did not contribute much more than an occasional catch and a willingness to get tossed around on the line by ex-football players, but I still had no problems wearing that “Intramural Champion” shirt around. In college you can get away with such things, chalk them up to a breezy carefree attitude, but I secretly loved that shirt. Step aside! ELITE ATHLETE coming through! I was probably more proud of that shirt than any golf team shirt, which by rule, were hideous. Anyway, I don’t think the importance of winning a fantasy league can be understated. No one wants to be the guy in a long-standing league who’s never won. Maybe this person needs constant reassurance. YES, I did win that league. It says it right there on this shirt. I’d cut him some slack, because if no one sees the shirt, out there in public, did the championship really happen?
Q: Why doesn’t the movie theater spring for more than one size of straw? I know it’s all part of their scam to get you to buy the “medium” which checks in at 80 ounces, but I don’t really need an extra yard of straw sticking out of the top of the glass. Portia Control, Yuma, AZ.
A: Once you step inside a movie theater, you are powerless against them. They can do with you whatever they’d like. Oh, you’re ready for the movie to start? Just as soon as you sit here and watch these seven previews. Shouldn’t take more than a half hour. I understand crazy markups, but I don’t like how they portion things out. It’s like 32 oz for $6 and 54 oz for $7. That’s just insulting. It’d be like going to a baseball game and seeing a sign that said, “Hot Dogs, 1 for $20, 10 for $25.” At least at the game you are getting consistently gouged. I see people fighting these giant straws. I feel their pain, because I don’t like to use a straw in any situation. You’ll never see me daintily downing an iced tea through a straw. I’ve achieved a level of motor skill where I can actually lift the glass all the way to my mouth. But in the darkness of the movie theater, when you are doing the thighmaster squeeze on a 5-gallon barrel of popcorn, I assume the straw comes in handy. I’m sure it’s all designed as an inconvenience to you. I don’t really buy that it saves the theater money. You’re saying that two million giant straws are cheaper than 1.5 million giant straws and 500,000 regular straws? I can’t imagine that’s the breaking point for United Artists. My solution? Just have the person you are going with, the one who smuggles in the candy, throw a pair of scissors in their bag with the Junior Mints. Then, make a big show of cutting the straw in half at the counter and maybe even rifle the excess at the employee of your choice. Let off some of that steam.
Q: Do you think there will ever come a time when board games ceased to be played? Eventually there will be a generation who doesn’t want to play Scattergories, correct? Milton Bradlee, Atlantic City, NJ.
A: Tough question. I feel like chess will be around forever, because chess is a true game of skill and thus considered a legitimate form of measuring yourself against another person. I’m awful at chess and don’t know how to play EXACTLY, so I don’t consider it a true measure, but there are people out there who do. I think some of the old games are already starting to die out. I can’t remember the last time I saw someone play Parcheesi. Haven’t seen a kid break out Chutes and Ladders for a while, but other board games are still going strong. Scattergories, which you mention in such a cavalier manner is still quite popular. There is also a new genre of “party” game or games that are designed for groups of people, that remain quite popular. These games are often filled with innuendo and offer opportunities for people to prove how funny they are–another legitimate measure of a man. Perhaps they don’t take the skill of Scrabble, or require the breadth of knowledge demanded by Trivial Pursuit (Original Genus Edition (Cold War Still Going Strong) only please), but they still serve a basic function. They bring a room together. So, as long as people want to interact with other people I think some forms of games are always going to be popular. Will we say goodbye to the actual “boards?” Perhaps, but that feels like a technicality.
Q: My friend was given a gift card for Christmas. Store’s not important, thanks for asking. But, when they checked the balance, the total was $47.89. More likely scenario–the purchaser emptied a coin jar, or they are re-gifting a partially used gift card? Jim Thoughthatcountz, Madison, WI.
A: Oh, how I love that story. That’s great. What if the purchaser bought a $50 dollar gift card, but then decided he wanted a pack of gum. He’s a little cash poor all of a sudden, so he just swiped away. The re-gift is possible. I’ve bought people stuff with gift cards I’ ve been given, and that’s the same idea, though my way shows a bit more class. At least I think it does. Might as well convert that $47.89 into a nice sweater instead of handing over a gift card that has CLEARLY been in your wallet for 11 months. You know, sometimes you can get odd numbers for gift cards. Maybe the employees pass the hat for the big boss. Well, looks like Jim is getting a 44 dollar card to Outback this year! I’ve seen that happen, but the change scenario makes this a bit different. I’m going to say this was a Coinstar transaction. 100% value on gift cards. Hard to pass that up. Impossible you might say. And, in these tough times, sometimes the piggy bank comes up a little short of that $50 threshold.
Q: What’s a more annoying aspect of celebrity, baby names or being subjected to box-office stars thinking they are qualified to weigh in on any politcal or social issue? Cause N. Affleck, Brentwood, CA.
A: Baby names can be tough to swallow. Oh, Rachel McAdams had twins! Quebec and Quinoa! Stunning choices. Then this style of naming penetrates our regular culture, but the problem is, your kid does not run around in the same circles as Kate Hudson’s little ones. So they’re going to stick out–in a bad way. I remember seeing my sister’s copy of Little Girl Lost at a pretty young age and if you don’t know, this is Drew Barrymore’s account of her childhood struggles and addiction. So, there is a section of photos in the center of the book. The caption for one of them is like, “Here’s Drew with Dweezil Zappa in 1987 (probably high on coke).” I added that aside, but the point is, I often stared at that caption and thought, Dweezil? IS THAT A TYPO? I had no idea Dweezil’s father was famous. All I saw was that name and it bothered me to my core. That said, I am a big fan of people staying in their proper lanes. Most celebrities have too much time on their hands. Thus, they can exercise 5 hours a day with their trainer and give you “health tips,” or they get tied up in some cause. Not that people shouldn’t have causes, just that when celebrities have them it always feels a bit hollow. If you want my honest answer, the one thing celebs do that drive me crazy is have roundtables where they talk about “their art.” Five comedians discuss what’s funny. SHUT UP. Or a bunch of directors sit around talking about “film.” AND CHOICES. What choices did you make? Were they difficult? I bet they were difficult. I’d rather watch QVC.
Q: If the only way you could have a dog was to also have a ferret would you have a dog? Karl Hungus, New Haven, CT.
A: Mean spirited question. I don’t think I’m stepping out of bounds when I say ferrets are–the worst. You know the scene in Big Lebowski where a ferret gets dropped in the tub? I would not survive that scenario. I’d either be scared to death or would crash to my untimely demise trying to escape the tub. Things like that are why I could never be an actor. I saw a movie a few weeks ago and the characters were eating Raisin Bran. I thought, well, I’d have to turn down that role. Unless you can blue screen in some Raisin Bran, cause I’m not eating it. No chance. Keep in mind I know this isn’t the only thing holding me back from being an actor. Getting back to the question, I’m not sure I could have a ferret, unless by “have” you mean bring one home one day in a hermetically sealed package and then have it immediately “lost” never to be seen again. Or if I could have a separate ferret wing to my house and a special caretaker. Plus, why would I make my dog live with a ferret? What did the dog ever do to me? I think my way around this caveat would be to become a professional dog sitter. This way, I’m always around dogs, but technically none of them are mine. This way I can stay ferret-free.