The Never Ending Snow Bag.

Take Me To Spring Training.

Take Me To Spring Training.

Rough week in the Northeast and now more snow is on the way.  A lot rougher for some than for myself as I miraculously never lost power.  I like to credit clean living for such phenomena, but a bit of luck probably plays a small role.  The only thing I had to deal with was a few days without internet and trying to find a passable route out of Phoenixville.  I expected a little more out of the trees.  It’s easy to blame Peco, but it’s not a real honorable stance to take and really, how about a little help from Mother Nature?  How about designing a tree that can withstand a little ice?  The thing can convert sunlight into energy, but a half inch of ice and it’s going down with a whimper?  Let’s engineer some tougher trees.  Anyway, in case your actual mail man has the work ethic of Newman, here’s a bit of a mailbag…

Q: Please rank the following non-essential kitchen items in order of how badly you’d like to have them: Pizza oven, full size stove top griddle, hot fudge dispenser, and restaurant grade deep fryer. Knute Healthee, Dallas, TX. 

A: Wow.  If I must…

4. Restaurant Grade Deep Fryer.  I feel like you can’t just have vats of oil/lard sitting around and still lead a normal life.  Your whole house would smell like a french fry, which is both tantalizing and terrifying.  And, this is an instance where I am not lured by scale.  I’m very rarely trying to satisfy the lunch rush at McDonalds.  

3. Hot Fudge Dispenser.  I think this is within reach.  Maybe you’re thinking how often would you REALLY use this thing?  Well, perhaps you’d be inspired if you had a vat of hot fudge sitting right there.  MOVE OVER traditional condiments.  You know, I once had one of those devices that heated up shaving cream and I used it pretty often. Take that, haters, I’m not as unmotivated as I look.  

2. Pizza Oven.  Every time someone talks about how good their homemade pizza is, I want to cut their tongue out.  Oh, I make my own dough and sauce.  I use 34 artisan cheeses.  It all means NOTHING.  You do what you do, I’ll take the doughy frisbee advertised under the name Boboli, squirt some ketchup on it and throw on a few slabs of string cheese and it will DOMINATE what you make if I have access to a real pizza oven.  The only reason this doesn’t win out is because getting pizza out is a pretty good time and plenty of places do it brilliantly.  

1. Full-Size, Stove Top Griddle.  Come on down.  The griddle is a magical device.  I’d like to have a cheap-o, two square foot one that plugs in, but they take up a bunch of space and don’t really get the job done anyway.  I want that crazy surface area.  I want to make an entire breakfast on the same canvas.  I want to be able to serve pancakes to more than one person at a time (it’s impossible to keep pancakes warm or fresh).  I want to chop the hell out of a pile of shaved rib-eye.  Dare to dream.  

Q: Last night I had a dream about a specific beer.  I saw the label and got all excited.  This is the first time I remember this happening.  Do I have a problem, or am I just an awesome dreamer? Frosty Mugg, Allentown, PA.

A: Was the beer Red Dog?  Because then you have a very SERIOUS problem.  I’ve never had a beer craving dream.  There has been one or two times when I am very thirsty in a dream and I wake up and I am very thirsty in REAL LIFE.  Mindblowing, right? But, I can’t even remember many dreams I’ve had where alcohol was involved.  I don’t excel at dream recall and often times I’m a very boring dreamer, unlike yourself who may be awesome.  I don’t want to rule that out.  I don’t think you have a problem.  A beer is mostly harmless, right?  You didn’t run over a stroller with your car to get to the beer did you?  Commit any other horrific acts?  I think you’re fine and I commend you on dreaming about something you actually want.  Every once in a while, when I’m feeling a good bit of WHIMSY, I’ll try to usher myself off to sleep with thoughts of dreaming about something thrilling.  When I close my eyes, I’ll enter a world where….IT NEVER WORKS.  

Q: Am I the only one who is bothered by this: Progressive commercial, “Flo,” is singing, “Why is a strike bad in baseball when it’s good in bowling?”  It get’s progressively (yep, I did) more annoying from there, which I suppose is the point, but what I’m saying is, a strike can be good in baseball. You know, like, if you’re the pitcher?  D. Tails, Pawnee, IN.  

A: These things bother me a great deal.  And, I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of Flo.  One time I was watching a TV show streaming online from an Australian source (DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT) and I saw an Australian Progressive commercial.  They had their own version of “Flo,” but she had a different name and wasn’t nearly as abrasive.  I guess Australians have different tastes when it comes to Insurance pitch women.  Anyway,  this incorrect generalization about baseball bothers me, as does the fact that the song somehow gets stuck in my head on occasion, which is maddening and then embarrassing when someone hears you mouthing, “Then someone told me about a basketball strike…” I don’t like when people get involved in sports and then don’t take the time to make things right.  It’s like when you see a blatant inaccuracy in a sports movie.  I just saw a story the other day that someone is wearing the new Eagles logo in “Invincible.”  You’re making a movie about football, about the Eagles, and there isn’t one person around who can put a stop to that?  Inexcusable.  

Q: How often do you think a hairdresser makes a huge mistake during a haircut that they then have to “salvage?”  Lil’ Ofdatop, Austin, TX.  

A: I already don’t like getting my hair cut and then you bring up something like this to send a chill down my spine. Every time I walk into Super Cuts or Value Shears or Oh You Don’t Have That Much Money Do You, Shaggy?, I get a little worried that the person cutting my hair will be totally incompetent.  Maybe they had a bad night.  Maybe their boyfriend broke up with them and my luscious locks are going to take the brunt of their anger.  I guess it’s a trust thing.  You’ve just got to say f*ck it, DIP A TOE, see what happens.  I’m also very bad at describing how I want my hair cut.  This is because I went to the same person for a long time and she just cut my hair without asking me anything–IT WAS GREAT.  Now, it’s all guesswork.  I don’t go very often and so you can’t even see my old haircut in there anywhere.  It’s not like retracing the lines on some buzz job you did two weeks back.  Anyway, I think this probably DOES happen, but not that often.  If your hair ever ends up shorter than you wanted, or maybe a little TOO highlighted–something–it’s a chance it was a coverup for some butcher job.  This is why I only risk it about three times a year.  

Q: Is it legal for Girl Scouts in Colorado to sell marijuana, you know, to boost cookie sales?  

A: I saw a table of Girl Scout cookies collapse at Acme the other day and it took my breath away.  Were any Thin Mints damaged?  I’ll give them a SAFE HOME.  I actually haven’t had a Girl Scout cookie yet this year, because I’ve been on a dessert streak since Christmas that you couldn’t imagine.  I can’t escape it.  Worse problems to have, I suppose.  I wonder sometimes if the Girl Scouts will ever get out of the cookie racket, but your idea of supplementing with marijuana sales is pretty inspired.  I saw what weed did to kids at college and their subsequent trips to Tom’s Mobil Mart or T-Hill.  The Scouts might have to adjust their hours of operation.  I did some quick research on the new Colorado rules and it still looks like marijuana is off-limits for the youth.  Maybe in another twenty years.  

Q: Any chance the Phillies hired Jamie Moyer as a broadcaster just to mess with you personally? Kris Wealer, Newtown Square, PA.

A: Well, technically Comcast hired these guys, but I see what you mean.  When the job first opened up I was actually encouraged by the lack of support Moyer seemed to have among people who SHOULD HAVE BEEN in the know.  Moyer, a known egomaniac, perhaps still wanted to pitch?  There’s a great Seinfeld scene where George wants to announce for the Yankees and Jerry tells him that they usually give those job to “former players, or you know, people IN broadcasting.”  Well, Comcast didn’t hire a lot of experience, instead falling back on two World Series winners, but not exactly A-listers.  Here’s the issue in my mind, as I venture a guess with no evidence to speak of.  Comcast didn’t want Mr. Phillie, Chris Wheeler, so they canned him without securing his replacement.  They probably assumed they could throw some money at someone–they inexplicably wanted Brad Lidge–but they were consistently turned down.  No Kruk, no Mitch, no Lidge.  It’s a troubling sign for baseball in Philadelphia.  Can’t even get the broadcasters you want, let alone the players.  I actually have more hope for Stairs–at least he’s Canadian.  That quirk alone could carry him for a while.  I think Moyer will talk too much, too obtusely and alienate a fan base that inexplicably likes him.  I won’t be listening, of course, I’ll just trust you all to tell me he’s terrible.  

Q: I’ve finally found something people care about as little as other people’s fantasy football teams–other people’s problems with school snow days.  

A:  That’s absolutely true.  People are constantly talking about their kids being off from school and how this is the worst thing that has ever happened to them.  I understand that parents count on school to occupy their kids’ time, but you talk about deaf ears…You cranked out the little sh*theel, what do I care if you can’t find a babysitter?  What you should really be worried about is how your kid not being in school impacts OTHER people.  It seems to me that kids roam freely these days anyway, but you get a snow day or two and suddenly they’re wandering into stores at 11 am, walking down the middle of the street with their sleds, just BEING AROUND.  It can be very aggravating.  Of course the underlying issue here is that people are mostly selfish and self-centered.  They like to talk about themselves and things that are going on IN THEIR OWN LIVES.  The next time someone walks up to you and gives you twenty minutes on how Briannelynn thought it would be fun to build a snowman IN THE DEN, feel free to walk away mid-sentence.  

 

What’s in the Mail?

Hoping For an Anomaly.

Hoping For an Anomaly.

I’m in grocery stores all the time.  It’s troubling.  I can’t shop for the future.  It’s all about what I want to feed my face with in that moment.  There was a guy selling “clean energy” in the entrance of a grocery store a couple weeks back and I had to duck him three days in a row.  It was quite awkward, but the point I’m trying to make is that I have a good working knowledge of grocery stores and I am keenly aware of change.  So, imagine my horror today when I’m in the cracker aisle and I’ve noticed the Club Cracker boxes have shrunk.  Club crackers are great, but they are already a bit annoying, because they only give you three sleeves.  A box should have four sleeves.  It’s a round number, it’s tradition, but Club Crackers get away with three.  We’ll live–I guess.  But now you are giving me three mini-sleeves?  Is this some type of mini-box overrun that I don’t know about?  It better be, because if this is the new permanent size of Club Crackers, I’m going to have someone’s butt.  I’ll write a Congressman.  Maybe end up in his mailbag…

Q:  I saw this debated online a couple of months ago, but what do you think is the best french fry shape, and is the french fry the best way to get a potato?  Spud Peeler, Boise, ID.

A:  The fry is good, because it has a large margin of error.  Even if you think you don’t love the order of fries you get, you PROMPTLY eat all of them, because they’re fried.  A bad baked potato is a nightmare and a good one is just OK if we’re being honest.  Mashed potatoes are divine, but aren’t a vehicle for ketchup.  Potatoes and cheese, AU Gratin, or AWE Gratin as I like to say is probably the best way to eat a potato assuming it’s done well, then fries, then mashed, then baked, then frickin’ Tots.  As far as the shape of the fry goes?  It’s probably just simple anatomy.  You want to maximize the frying surface, but also have enough meat there that you can taste something aside from the delicious crunch.  Although, I’m sure we’ve all had the hollow fry that is essentially a shell of hardened lard and those are TREMENDOUS, but not for a full serving.  The worst shape is curly.  CUTE, but the center just mushes together and it doesn’t cook properly.  Then shoestring, because too thin and they cool off in about 3 seconds.  Steak fries and crinkle cuts are amazing when they are done right, but this is almost never the case.  Waffle fries are the perfect vehicle for applying ketchup and cheese directly to your waistline, but part of me thinks we should just let waffles have the waffle shape.  The best fry shape is the basic, medium width fry.  Is that a boring answer?  I DON’T CARE.  

Q:  Do people who speak other languages mess up their own language as much as we butcher english?  And, I mean across the whole range.  From stupid mistakes, to impossible spellings, to effect/affect, to laid/layed/lain/lied…you know what I mean. I. Beforey, Tampa, FL.

A:  Great question.  Are spanish spelling bees a thing?  Or do you just sound out every word and it works?  Do grown up, professional, adult people in France or Germany lean on spellcheck like it’s the most important invention of modern times?  I really have no idea.  You would need someone who is bi-to-quadlingual to answer that one and that is not this guy.  About the trickiest thing I learned in my years of public school spanish class was, “sopa isn’t soap and ropa isn’t rope.”  Of course, that wouldn’t apply if you were just learning spanish as your native tongue.  Even right now, I don’t know if I should be capitalizing these languages.  WHO CARES–I’LL JUST CAPITALIZE EVERYTHING.  We put up with english, because we don’t know any better, kind of like Europeans and soccer.  Considering english has a reputation as a difficult language to learn, I imagine there are more tricks than most languages and probably more idioms?  We LOVE our idioms.  English is demented.

Q: A friend of mine has a neighbor who has a few of those hairless cats and he hates the things.  They are constantly in the windows–just being creepy as (expletive).  Those are his words.  He’s contemplating leaving a note asking that all the windows facing him be cat free at all times (again his words).  Obviously, this is ridiculous, but where do you stand on leaving neighbors notes?  P. Dander, Chicago, IL.

A:  I’m not for hairless cats I can tell you that much.  Hair is one of the defining characteristics of a cat or dog in my mind, where do these hairless mammals come from?  Such a mystery.  It would be nice if all creepy pets were kept out of windows.  No hairless cats, no rodents of any kind, no predatory birds, etc.  Of course for every person who justifiably gets the chills from looking at a hairless cat there is another person who loves that cat and probably paid an outrageous sum to acquire the thing.  I’d love to see a note written in this case and then I’d love to see the reaction to that note.  It’s certainly not the right thing to do, but I’d find it terribly amusing.  My opinion is, it’s almost impossible not to come across like a jerk when leaving someone a note like this.  The circumstances are inconsequential.  It’s very hard to convey tone, and no matter how nice you are about it, you’re going to sound uppity and the person will rebel against your little teaching moment.  I’m of the opinion that dealing with neighbors is impractical. There is always going to be some baseline level of aggravation and there’s nothing you can do about it. Trying to nip things in the bud just adds fuel to the feud fire.  

Q.  I hate slowing down in School Zones, does this make me a horrible person?  Ken Dergarten, Augusta, ME.

A:  I’m sure there are countless other traits to your personality that make you horrible, so I wouldn’t hone on in this particular oddity.  Recently I moved and for the first time in my life I’ve really seen the School Zone be effective.  I’ve seen a lot of kids who walk to and from school and this makes a lot more sense than just arbitrarily slowing down so a bus can get out of the parking lot–or something.  I don’t like School Zones when clearly the timing is wrong–no kids in sight.  I hate when people tailgate me through the entire length of the school zone, but usually I can keep my rage in check for the 16-28 seconds it actually takes to drive through one.  AN ETERNITY.  You have to slow people down somehow, so by putting up the 15 MPH, it gets people down to about 25 from 50.  Funny story about School Zones.  I was once pulled over for speeding in such an area.  Of course, I wasn’t driving.  I didn’t even have my license.  Nope, I was ON THE SCHOOL BUS.  Very strange to be pulled over while on the bus.  The driver got a warning. I got to be 15 minutes late for my Pop Tart feeding.  

Q: Do you think the Phillies will get an outfielder, and if so, which outfielder will that be? Rickey Otero, Lancaster, PA.

A:  The Phillies have some money to spend, which is good for them, because they were quite terrible last season and are nowhere near contention as currently constructed.  I think the Phillies will definitely get an outfielder.  They’ll need one to fill out a starting outfield.  I don’t think even Ruben Amaro is bold enough to start another season with John Mayberry Jr in the mix, but who that outfielder will be remains to be seen.  The main problem could be the team itself is a lot less desirable than it was when it made plunges into the free agent market in the past.  Cliff Lee thought he was signing up for multiple rings.  Raul Ibanez was coming to the defending World Champions.  Now the Phillies have been bad for two straight years and have a roster that’s littered with holes. Players almost always go for the most money, but the Phils can’t lure anyone with tales of five straight division titles, etc.  The major names out there in the OF are: Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin Soo Choo, Nelson Cruz, Carlos Beltran and Curtis Granderson.  None of these players is a perfect fit for the Phillies.  They are all older than you’d like if you were handing out a long term deal.  The team needs Cruz’s right-handed power with Choo’s defense and plate discipline.  But, players with that combination rarely make it to free agency these days.  Beltran would be my first choice on a short-term deal, because the Phillies are win now (allegedly).  Then, Cruz because of the right-handed power and then Choo.  I’d have no interest in Ellsbury (too long a deal will be required) or Granderson.  I expect the Phils to actively pursue a big name, but if they don’t land one of the top guys, it may not be the worst thing, a flier on Marlon Byrd or Michael Morse could work out better in the long run if the team can figure out a way to get younger and stay competitive.  

Q: Have you seen this new virus that locks your computer down and makes you pay a ransom to get all your files back? What would you pay to have your computer unlocked?  Malorie Ware, Houston, TX.

A:  Me personally?  I’d pay ZERO dollars.  My computer is in pretty rough shape and there’s nothing on here that is really priceless.  A lot of the words I’ve pounded out exist in other places.  What would I pay to have my Gmail account unlocked?  Pretty much all my monies, but my computer itself?  You can have it.  I’ve never been too attached to my material possessions in that way.  I need them, but I don’t cherish them and I don’t take especially good care of them.  FOR SHAME.  My last two computers experienced some pretty untimely deaths.  I don’t know that I lost anything valuable.  I don’t have all my college emails, but that’s probably good, because now I can go on thinking I was a genius and hilarious when, in fact, I was likely just a dipsh*t.  I’ve got to say, though, this is a pretty diabolical virus/scheme.  It’s incredibly smart, but SO RUDE.  And, Mac users must be laughing their asses off at this one.  Oh, we don’t get viruses, LULZ. Forty-eight emojis, frowny face.  

The Mailbag (Don’t Worry, The Bag’s Reusable)

Choose Carefully.

Choose Carefully.

So, the government is not open for business.  What does this mean?  I DON’T KNOW.  I’m going to go to Bleacher Report and read the top 2013 things you need to know about the 2013 Government Shutdown, but until then…clueless.  I realized yesterday that National Parks were closed.  This seems a bit harsh?  Ok, maybe you can’t get in to see the Liberty Bell, but you can’t even go for a walk in Valley Forge Park right now.  I’m sure you COULD, but you aren’t supposed to and that seems ridiculous to me.  I wonder how many people showed up in their running tights yesterday and had no idea what was going on.  About a week back I was in a neighborhood I hadn’t been to in a while.  and I pulled into a Wawa parking lot.  I thought to myself, “Thank god it’s not that busy.” It was almost lunch.  I got all the way to the door before I realized it was closed. Not for the day–for good.  I suddenly realized there was no signage, not a single other car in the parking lot.  That’s how oblivious I was.  Someone waiting at the red light watched me walk back to my car like I was EASILY the world’s dumbest human.  I’m just saying, if this keeps up, someone is going to arrive Valley Forge with an SUV full of bikes in a few weeks and look awfully stupid.  To the mailbag, thankfully not delivered by the USPS….

Q: I was having dinner with a guy the other day and he was served his cheesesteak and he stared the thing down for a good 30 seconds.  Now, this sounds like a short amount of time, but before you eat tonight, look at your plate for 30 seconds–eternity.  I said, “What the hell are you doing?”  He told me he was deciding which half of his sandwich to eat first.  For real?  U. Cuteyepick, Frazer, PA.

A:  I assume your issue here is with the length of time and not the thoughtful process itself.  It’s CRUCIAL to make this decision before eating any sandwich that has been cut into two pieces.  Why would you want to eat the “good” half first?  Are you going to be a baby and not finish it, is the second half for the labrador?  You always want to have that better half left, because then when you are done the first half you are still in a glass half-full situation.  Maybe you saved the bigger half.  Maybe the half with a better cheese ratio. Regardless, things are looking up!  Thirty seconds is a long time, though.  You’ve got to learn how to make quick decisions, otherwise people ask questions.  That interrupts FEEDING TIME.  This is also important to do with pizza and shared pizzas.  Trying to get the ebb and flow of the shared pizza right so you get the best slices is a DAMN ARTFORM.  I know people who split the pizza before they eat it, which is democratic, but doesn’t reward vision.  Every pizza has a “best slice,” and it’s unthinkable to take it right away, so you must plan it out ahead of time.  Of course, this is why it’s always better to get way too much pizza, because then piece selection is a bit less dire.  

Q:  What sponsor would you be proud to wear on the golf course?  I saw some big names during the FedEx Cup, a lot better than what you’d see on your basic T-ball jersey.  Bill Board, Houston, TX.

A:  I think one of my first Little League teams was sponsored by an oil company (Not Exxon, like Jim’s Oil–Staats?).  So, right away I was a bit of a sellout to big business and greed.  I don’t know that Little League teams have sponsors like that anymore.  The parents are probably expected to COUGH UP the dough for a jersey.  This is a development right on par with everyone hits and we don’t keep score.  Why don’t you just set up some bleachers at recess at the parents can watch that?  Are we playing a game here or being cute and polite?  ANYWAY, enough of that…I have thought about this question.  I wonder if I would be a total sponsor whore. Would I wear whatever someone put in front of me for a few dollars?  PROBABLY.  That’s got to be better than trying to make cuts, but if I had my choice…I’d want companies with less than offensive logos and products I’d want to get for free.  Mercedes would probably be a good place to start.  Then of course you need to have a clothing sponsor.  I’ve always been a bit of fancy boy in terms of golf apparel.  I went down with the cotton ship.  I loved my Fairway and Greene.  I don’t think they ever sponsored tour players. Maybe Peter Millar?  You know, just a nice supply of $100 shirts I can’t afford.  So, that’s a good start, maybe round it out with some Mizuno.  If I’m on tour I assume I would finally be good enough to hit those clubs.  

Q:  Any MLB playoff picks? Pete Rows, Cincinnati, OH.

I do NOT like the Phillies’ chances.  I believe they’ve been mathematically eliminated.  I did have the Pirates over the Reds (no proof), but that was a great atmosphere in Pittsburgh and I actually am happy for real Pirates fans and even the people who have thrown themselves on the bandwagon.  Playoff baseball is incredible in person.  I like the Rays over the Indians.  This probably won’t get posted before that game is over, but it’s noted here for all eternity.  It’s a strange year for the post-season, or I guess this is just how things are now–you have to almost wait and see who gets hot.  If we were back in the day, it’d be hard to argue against the Dodgers who can send out Kershaw, Greinke Dinky Do, and Ryu to start any series.  That’s a decent place to start.  The Cardinals have undeniable post-season magic and I think the NL comes down to those two teams.  NO to Atlanta.  The Red Sox had an incredible regular season, but I’ve never seen them as a World Series favorite for some reason.  I don’t trust Verlander and Scherzer atop Detroit’s rotation this year and Miggy is hurting.  I like the Rays if they get through, but otherwise–LA over Oakland.  Why not?  

Q:  Any thoughts on the rise in popularity of hard cider?  I mean, I always remember Woodchuck being around (Haha, let’s have a Woodchuck as a joke), but now apparently things are getting serious–and there’s pear cider? Chuck Strongbow, Exton, PA.

A: Oh sure, perries?  Pear cider?  Been around for ages I would imagine.  Don’t know that anyone was drinking any notable quantities, but it was around.  I have noticed more cider in my travels.  I see it on tap, which is something I don’t remember seeing at all in my younger days.  Does draught cider taste better?  I DON’T KNOW.  I have more important mysteries to solve.  It must be great for the people who drink cider, because is Woodchuck actually good?  How would you know unless you had something to compare it to–so now there are more choices.  Of course, cider is gluten-free and beer is not, which has to be a growing selling point.  A lot of gluten allergies out there along with people who do things like this voluntarily so it’s nice to still be able to get hammered–gluten free. Speaking to the growing popularity, there was a cider festival in Philadelphia this past weekend and evidently this is something people actually attended.  You know, I try not to make judgements about people based on what they drink.  I read an article about this today, it was a lot of “30-year olds that drink Mike’s Hard Lemonade still hit on college girls,” etc.  That’s not my style.  You’ll never convert me, but go ahead and have your cider.  

Q:  Do you think people who eat tunafish for lunch should be confined to separate quarters so other people don’t have to smell what they are eating?  Gagg Reflex, Dublin, OH.

A: Well, kind of, but no–that kind of thing just isn’t allowed.  I think you need to be a bit careful with your wording there.  Words like “confined” and “separate” don’t hold up too well in the higher courts.  People tend to frown on segregation, even if it is of the aroma variety.  Tuna sandwiches are really a dangerous animal, though.  Several years back I was headed to play golf with a friend and we stopped at Wawa for lunch before we played.  He got a tuna sandwich, which I didn’t LOVE, but you know, it was a short ride to the course.  Tolerance.  We just inhaled the things before we started and didn’t think twice about leaving the wrappers in the car.  Or, I should say I didn’t.  I’m going to ballpark the temperature at about 94 degrees that day, so inside the car during the round we probably kissed 115ish.  Anyway, four, five hours later we get back to the car and the one bite of tuna that was leftover had taken over the atmosphere inside my Chevy.  The air was thick.  A starving cat could have been strolling by and they would have said, “Eh, no thank you.”  I went on a brief “never leave tuna in my car ever again” tirade under the guise of joking around, but I really wasn’t.  I just hope that stuff tastes better than it smells, I really do.  For your sake.

 

A Mailbag of Sorts.

Not Sure I'd Learn.

Not Sure I’d Learn.

I was making something in the oven yesterday and I needed to give it a quick baste, you know the usual, and so I opened up the door to the oven and did what I always do–stick my face right in there.  I get blasted back the heat.  My glasses fog up, I get flustered.  I usually make some sort of unintelligible noise–”Dahhag.”  This happens every single time I check on something in the oven.  I have two theories.  First, when I was a youth I had an oven that was eye-level for me so you could open it and look in while keeping your distance and the heat didn’t rush up into your face.  So, I never learned.  The second theory is that I’m an idiot.  So dumb that I’m not sure I could learn to use an invisible fence, which is a skill that can be easily mastered by most dogs.  And, speaking of blasts of heat…the mailbag.

Q: If you had to fire someone, how do you think you would do it?  Give them the full song and dance about how great they are, or just go short and sweet?  Dawn Sized, Gainesville, FL.

A: Assuming it wasn’t a hostile situation, I think I would try to let the person down as easy as possible while also keeping it short.  In my opinion when someone is getting canned they don’t really want the full explanation right there (if there is one), they mostly just want to get out of the room, the situation–whatever.  Later, they’ll be pissed off and demanding of answers, but right at that second they are probably dealing with some shock.  Of course, I’ve never really fired anyone.  The closest I came was back in my caddy supervision days.  The course I was at was hosting a fairly significant local women’s event.  It was big enough to attract some loopers from some other local courses.  It was my job to assign these caddies to the players.  A hit-or-miss process if there ever was one, but I had a fairly good match-making percentage.  There was one exception.  After the second day (of three) a player came up to me and requested that I did not give her the same caddy for the final day.  Her reasons?  “He talks too much AND SMELLS WEIRD.”  Oh boy.  That’s a double.  So, this guy shows up for the last day–big grin on his face and drops the whole, “I’m with so and so again? I didn’t get her tee time.”  And, that’s when I had to break the news.  She’s going in another direction, Cowboy.  He guessed that it was probably because he “fell on the 16th green yesterday.”  A whole other problem, but NO, that wasn’t it.  I just gave him the old, you know those women golfers look and sent him back to Llanerch or wherever he came from.  

Q: Seeing as how Andy Reid is coming back to Philadelphia on Thursday (along with Donovan McNabb), can you go over the scenarios in your mind where it is acceptable to boo?   Throaty Pipes, Ardmore, PA.

A:  Let me start with a contradictory statement.  I’m not going to take away anyone’s right to boo.  If you want to be the person that boos–go ahead.  If you want to scream “sucks,” after every player’s name in introductions–I’m not going to stop you.  I won’t be there with you, but I won’t get righteous.  That said, neither McNabb nor Reid should be booed on Thursday.  The fan base has already proven it will likely receive McNabb in a somewhat friendly manner.  Some boos will sprinkle, but it won’t be like David Stern at the NBA Draft.  As for Andy Reid, there won’t be a great moment to boo him, so it’s likely that fans will continue to just be happy he left town.  If Andy Reid ever appeared down the road, after his coaching career, I’d expect a McNabb-like reception.  Mostly cheers.  So, when to boo?  I don’t think you should boo people who aren’t involved in the game.  So the mayor shows up and you hate his politics?  Not the time.  Booing should mostly be reserved for the officials and the opposition.  Bad calls, hated rivals, anyone on the ’86 Mets–all fair game.  Is there a statute of limitations?  Probably.  I think we can stop booing Chipper Jones now that he’s retired.  The booing of Scott Rolen probably should have ended when the ’08 team won the World Series.  At some point, you start to look deranged and desperate.  As far as your own players, I think it has to be effort based.  Nate Allen really shouldn’t be booed.  He’s just terrible.  But if a player quits, or says something stupid about the fans?  Fire away.

Q:  If you started a brewery, what would you call it, and what would you name some of your beers?  Samantha Addams, Boston, MA.

A:  Is Sierra Nevada taken?  I might call the brewery 3-Putt Territory.  Look how well that name has served me here.  And, it did take me a while to think of that name.  It narrowly won out over, “Mike’s Blog,” and “Grossy’s Ha-Ha Hut.”  I think I’ve gotten one solid compliment on the name over the years, and really how much more do you need?  In terms of naming the actual beers, I have a question in response to the question.  Have we gone too far?  Should the brewery name and the style of beer be enough?  Does calling something Monkey Astronaut IPA really spike sales?  I guess the answer to that is it does, because the names of the beer keep getting stranger.  More COLORFUL.  So, I’ve got to come up with some names here.  Putting a guy on the spot.  Luckily, this is not unlike thinking up trivia team names, so I should be OK.  Rapid Fire:

  1. Alimony ESB
  2. DU-IPA
  3. Beer Pong Lite
  4. No Tan Lines Summer Lager
  5. Placebo (Non-Alcoholic)
  6. Call a Cab Tripel

Q:  Now that school has started back up I’ve seen multiple times the elated sprint off the school bus.  First, were you this happy to get home and second, does anything in adult life compare?   E.Z. Lyamused, Coatesville, PA.

A:  I imagine that people with kids would say that putting the kids on the bus is pretty MAGICAL indeed, but I’m not at that point.  I’ve definitely seen kids run like crazy off the bus and I’m trying to think back in time to see if I ever possessed so much GLEE.  When I got home school there were only a few things that could be on the agenda.  Eat Pop Tarts, play Nintendo, pretend I’m in the NBA and dunk on my 8-ft rim, watch A Different World in syndication–all of these things should have had me at a dead sprint, but if I remember correctly I didn’t have that much heart.  I mostly walked.  Our driveway was upwards of 75 yards.  That’s a long way to HAUL IT with a Lands End on your back.  And some of the time I got dropped off down the street (and downhill) from my house, so forget that.  I think the really young kids run because they are actually happy to see their parents.  Then things change and you are praying no one is home when the bus drops you off so you can BE ODD AS SH*T at your leisure.  What do adults gain that type of simple pleasure out of?  I’m not sure.  Making good “time” to work?  Finding cheap gas?  Having your carry-on bag fit through the damn slot?  There’s plenty out there to be JAZZED about.  

Q: Some people like designer bags, or have to have a certain brand of sneakers, but I think name brands are most important for the little things.  Ever try to use generic aluminum foil?  Whon Ply, Sarasota, FL.

A:  This is a true statement.  Generic Aluminum foil has the consistency of tissue paper.  Exhale with greater than usual force and you could tear a hole clean through the stuff.  Are we even sure it’s aluminum?  It may be an illusion.  When it comes to foil, you’ve got to go with Reynolds Wrap.  That’s the only brand of foil I am aware of? I’m sure you can buy a roll at Williams Sonoma that’s made entirely out of recycled cans of Shasta for $34, but that’s probably going a bit too far.  Reynolds will serve you fine.  And, with kitchen items, it doesn’t stop with the foil.  Paper Towels?  Generic paper towels are great if you want something to decorate your paper towel holder.  God forbid you need to use one.  Trash Bags?  Please throw the entire box into a Hefty or a Glad. That’s all they are good for.  

Q: I have a friend who consistently keeps magazine cologne samples in his pocket.  Open.  It’s one of those things that is out in the open, but you still can’t talk about it.  Should we just be glad that he smells like cologne all the time?  Is he hiding something?  Where does he get them all?  Tenzing Nosegay, Frankfort, KY.

A:  That is very odd and also admirably frugal.  Why commit to a full two ounces of one cologne and pay those exorbitant prices when you can simply go to the nearest news stand and rip your way to a different fresh scent every day.  Wearing a scent is a tricky thing.  I prefer to smell clean, rather than to walk around with a noticeable aroma.  Do I always accomplish this?  I DON’T KNOW, but that’s the goal.  To me, a lot of cologne hints that you are trying to hide something.  It’s like if the dog lets one happen on the rug and then you rain down Febreze, I don’t care what the commercials say it’s going to smell like Febreze AND dog grumper.  So, if you are rocking a steady cologne, I might think–still in 7th grade, OR has a BIT of a B.O. problem.  Either one.  I don’t want to be known by a smell, good or bad, really.  I’ve worked with people who you know are in the room before you see them because they APPLY GENEROUSLY.  That’s not for me.  As far as the samples go?  I don’t really know what to make of that.  I have rubbed these on my shirt in moments of desperation, and I’ve seen people use them as de facto air fresheners in their dressers or between sofa cushions, but to use one as a part of your outfit seems a bit out there.  My best guess is that he can’t afford to do his laundry.  

Answer Me This: The Mailbag.

Aw, Hell No.

Aw, Hell No.

Anyone who reads this blog regularly and who has a memory for odd bits of trivia probably remembers my preference for restaurants to stay in their areas of “expertise.”  Tuna at Dunkin’ Donuts?  NO.  The pulled pork that has returned to Subway?  Absolutely not.  Just because you like Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t mean you have to eat there all the time.  You can get lunch somewhere else.  Another restaurant, and I’m using the term loosely, has entered this realm.  Not only with the meal, but with the ridiculous claim attached.  Panera has made the claim their new salad contains the best shrimp on Earth.  They scoured the globe for this shrimp.  Who exactly did the scouring?  Who decided it was the best shrimp?  Not Important. What’s important is that you go to Panera (subtitle Bread) for shrimp.  Think about that while we go in for a mailbag…

Q:  Would you rather be the parent who makes the best grilled cheeses and have that glory but also the obligation of making the grilled cheese, or the parent who makes the worst grilled cheeses–freeing you from lunch duty but also saddling you with tremendous shame?  Char Loaf, Clearwater, FL.

A:  I can’t come up with a scenario where I would want to be the one who cannot make a grilled cheese.  And, really the whole concept of someone making a grilled cheese better than me is absurd.  I laugh at the MERE NOTION.  I don’t routinely make grilled cheese sandwiches for young people, but if I did I imagine my popularity would know no bounds.  I can make any kind of grilled cheese you want.  Fancy, ghetto, with ham, bacon–it doesn’t matter.  The key to making a good grilled cheese is pan control.  Grilled Cheese Prospectus lists 90% of all grilled cheese errors being due to pan temperature.  So, there you go.  I also don’t really see myself tiring of making grilled cheeses.  Every time you make grilled cheese you can eat a piece of cheese.  That seems like a fair wage for the work required.  Even if I had to make 20 a week for a kid who ate no other food and barely gleaned enough nutrients from his diet to survive, I think I can handle the burden.  It’s got to be better than serving up a mess that tastes like last night’s burnt pork chop and have the kid look at you funny or worse yet throw a tantrum.  I imagine the graver scenario is you make the inferior grilled cheese and yet you have to do all the cooking.  I picture some stay at home dad butchering meal after meal, a little tyke laments, “Mommy’s grilled cheeses aren’t black.”  That’s when the Dad screams, “Mommy’s NOT HERE.”  And, throws the pan across the kitchen.  Things just got interesting.  

Q:  Have you ever not bought something because it was buy one get one free?  Like, you only wanted one, but you’d feel like an idiot paying full price so you just don’t get any at all?  Phil Price, Meadowlands, NJ.

A:  Thankfully we live in an era where refrigeration has been invented.  Are you aware of this?  Or that most products have very long shelf lives?  Is this buy one, get one tuna tartare?  I think I know what you mean though, it’d probably apply to unhealthy foods. Ice Cream?  When Turkey Hill Ice Cream went buy one/get one back in the day our freezer turned into a REAL PARTY.  Entenmann’s is known to run a buy one/get one special as well.  That’s dangerous.  Especially if it is across the full line of products.  I’ve fell victim to that, and YES, I do feel guilty about that second box, but never enough to leave it on the shelf and certainly not enough to not get any danish.  If something is pretty cheap, I will occasionally ignore the free second item if I REALLY only want one, but again, I’ve never changed my mind completely.  Don’t let a sale deter you from getting what you actually want.  

Q:  I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia.  I’ve contemplated buying something with PENN on it, maybe a hat?  It’s a nice straightforward navy blue, nothing garish.  My question is, does this make me an Ivy League poseur?  Anyone in Alabama can wear a Crimson Tide shirt without incident, but I feel like if I get this hat, it will lead to a lot of “Did you go to Penn?”  Then the person frowns and walks away.  D.C. Cubed, Joplin, MO.

A:  Are you sure you didn’t go to Penn?  Surely you are smart enough if you know how to spell poseur.  Is Penn a good school by the way?  I was not aware of that.  I thought Penn was where you went when you couldn’t get into Bucknell.  But seriously, I understand your dilemma.  Most Ivy League schools, deservedly or not, still have enough cache that you are bound to get questions about your Penn gear.  Or Yale gear.  Or whatever.  The person will expect you to be an alumni, to have sired or bore an alumni, be closely related to an alumni–something.  If you walk down the street in a shirt from a state school no one is going to ask, or care, if you went there, are just a fan of the football team, or go the shirt out of a dumpster.  No offense to state schools, it’s just the way it is–they don’t inspire curiosity.  What you are asking me is, can I wear a Penn hat because I like the color?  That’s a question in its own right, and then there is the Penn subplot.  I am not for any school getting special treatment, so Penn or Penn State Delco we’re going to treat this as one question.  Can you wear a hat because you just like the color?  SURE.  You just have to be prepared that you may be questioned about the hat and then people will make judgments based on what you have to say.  People are so JUDGE-Y.  

Q:  It’s fantasy football drafting time.  Any great pearls of wisdom this year?  Anita Hundcuff, Houston, TX.

A:  Well, I did win my league last year, so I’m speaking from a position of advanced authority when I tell you, YES, I do have plenty of fantasy football advice.  The tip that is really going to put you over the top is this–you need a QB on your team that runs the ball. Not everyone is going to get Cam Newton, or RG3, or Colin Kaepernick, but if you can, it’s time to bail on the pocket passer.  Fantasy football is wildly skewed in the favor of QBs who run.  Newton won a million leagues two years ago, RG3 was a revelation, even Michael Vick has his moments.  At their best, running QBs are like having an extra player on your starting roster.  Want to know how crazy am I about this?  I’d consider drafting, or closely monitoring Terrelle Pryor* as backup.  Pryor is not a good quarterback.  He throws the ball very poorly.  But, he’s big and he can run.  He knocked off a 25 yard TD run last night, and that’s 8.5 points right there.  ON ONE PLAY.  Who cares if he goes 7-23 for 84 yards if he runs for 100 and two scores?  The Raiders have Matt Flynn as their starter–that feels tenuous.  All I’m saying is, if you need a spot start late in the season, or your guy goes down with an injury, Pryor the running QB might be the choice over Carson Palmer and his maybe 2 points, maybe 20 points weeks.  I think he’s going to be the starter before the end of the year, and it’ll only take one big game on the ground and he’ll be gone.  Keep your eyes open.  So, that’s the tip.  Get a running QB as a starter or a stowaway, and always take the best player available for the first 5-7 rounds of your draft.  A winning fantasy team doesn’t need balance, it needs about 5 or 6 guys that can blow up at any time.  Depth means horsebleep in the playoffs.  Good luck out there.

*Wrote this a few days ago, had my draft last night.  Took Terrelle Pryor (who may be in line to start now) in the final round.  May cut him next week, but for now–he’s there.  

Q: Have you ever given yourself a nickname?  Or tried to get one to stick? Bub Mack, Richmond, VA.

A:  I don’t think I have ever given myself a nickname.  Or gone Constanza and tried to trick people into calling me “T-Bone.”  You can’t give yourself nicknames.  I think I’ve talked about this, but that doesn’t mean people still don’t do it.  ALL THE TIME.  You know what’s weird?  When people come back from college and they have a new nickname.  Do they really?  Sometimes you WONDER.  The closest I got, I think, was maybe when I was like 11 years old I had a three or four hour stretch where I wished my last name was Mc-Something.  OR, could be easily shortened into something catchy.  I didn’t really have a nickname, so I wanted to force one? I eventually got over it.  I’ve failed to get nicknames to stick on other people, but never myself.  I’ve really only ever had two nicknames. There are people now who call me, “Grossy,” something I was not called in my youth–though I would have EMBRACED it.  And, during my freshmen year of college, there was a brief period where I was known as “Crafty.”  Let your imaginations RUN WILD.  

Q:  Any ideas or thoughts about what’s going on here?  Can we get some sample dialog?  

Arnie's Collar Isn't The Only Thing That's...Nevermind.

Arnie’s Collar Isn’t The Only Thing That’s…Nevermind.

A:  Well, as I’m sure everyone knows, Kate Upton had a golf lesson from Arnie today.  I believe it’s a Golf Digest venture.  Golf Digest put a team of thousands together and thought, “How do we sell more Golf Digests?”  So, Kate Upton, accomplished equestrian, and Arnie have a bit of history.  They rubbed elbows during Bay Hill and Arnie remains a sucker for the ladies, although his trademark confidence may be waning a bit in this shot.  Perhaps Kate was knocking it by him.  I DON’T KNOW.  Do I think they made chit-chat? Perhaps.  I don’t know if I have the heart to fully lampoon The King.  My guess is during the entire encounter, Arnie was probably thinking, “If it were 30 years ago, I would have given it an honest shot.  Now, I’ll settle for a hug.”  And from Kate I’m getting a lot of, “Oh, Grandpa.”  Good for Arnie though, and bonus points if he sidled up behind her to work on tempo.  That stuff doesn’t teach itself.  

 

To Your Letters:

The Accord: Come for The Reputation, Stay For the Ground Clearance.

The Accord: Come for The Reputation, Stay For the Ground Clearance.

This photo was sent to me the other day.  It was pretty much a live action shot.  A developing situation.  The question I have is what is more embarrassing?  Actually trying to take your car (on purpose or otherwise) over a curb, or having people stop what they are doing to take a photo of your situation.  In the past maybe your embarrassment was limited to the tow truck driver who will give you a less than genuine, “Oh yeah, Happens ALL THE TIME,” but now you’ve got people snapping photos, passing them along and they end up on a blog in front of dozens of eyes.  Rough.  And, do you ask if you can help before or after you take the picture here?   Your mailbag…

Q: Is there a bigger take-out food nightmare than the french fry?  What’s the consumption window on a fry–94 seconds? Spud Fry, Galveston, TX.

A:  Yeah, I think probably more than 1/2 the fries we eat in our life aren’t great, we’re just shoveling them in trying to remember what a good fry tastes like.  There can be several frustrating fry scenarios.  Getting mediocre fries at a fast food place is terrible, because that’s likely most of the reason you were there in first place.  When your waffle fries are “luke” it’s harder to justify the 1.3 million calories.  I’ve contemplated asking for fresh fries in a fast food establishment, but you know that every fast food employee is one complaint away from TAINTING the whole kitchen.  So, it’s best to just pipe down and eat your gummy potato sticks.  Take out fries are a whole other animal.  Some food is fairly conducive to being carried out–pizzas, hot sandwiches, but french fries are not.  AT ALL.  The most important thing is that fries are not transported in styrofoam.  I thought we had banished this from earth, but it’s still around.  All fries should be served in a bag.  Keeping the heat in is secondary to texture preservation.  Styrofoam is great if you want steam something, throw some rice in there–go crazy–but it’s the fry’s mortal enemy.  Your best fries can’t survive more than a minute or two in styrofoam, where they may cool off in a bag, but will maintain their integrity.  Any fry can be salvaged in the oven (an important thing to note, and another reason to own a toaster oven), but timing is key in take out.  The last thing you want to do is wait for your food and then wait for your fries to crisp back up.  So, I agree that the fry is a takeout nightmare, but as an American it’s on you to know about good and bad fry takeout spots and if necessary do something to enact change.  

Q:  I saw recently that residents of North Dakota down the most beer per capita and Pennsylvania was nowhere to be found in the top-10.  How does this make you feel about your home state?  Purdie Wasted, Bismarck, ND.

A:  I don’t feel great about it.  The fine residents of North Dakota put away an average of almost 46 gallons of beer a year.  That sounds like a pretty shocking number, but let’s break that down. (gets out calculator) OK, that’s 500 beers a year.  That’s a nice, round number.  Back in college, I would have called that “A Light Semester,” but now I don’t get anywhere near that number in one year.  And, I’m a beer drinker.  So, I guess I have to take a moment and congratulate North Dakota on their THIRST FOR LIFE.  People in all states like to drink, so I guess it depends on what you think being a beer drinker says about you.  I imagine in North Dakota they drink the full compliment of heavys (Bud, High Life, Coors Banquet) without a hint  of irony.  They probably don’t go much for wine bars or tequila shooters.  They certainly aren’t worried about gluten sensitivity.  So, am I jealous of that?  MAYBE.  A little bit.  But, I’d rather be from a state that has its share of breweries, its share of places to get random beer on tap, and things of that nature, because if life is a drinking contest it certainly isn’t a case race.  It has to be something with a little more craft than that.  I’m not sure if PA is a top-10 beer state, in general, I think it is–but I know it’s got to be better than North Dakota not matter how much they drink.  

Q: If A-Rod gets banned from baseball for life, ala Pete Rose, how would you compare their two transgressions?  Peter Rows, Cincinnati, OH.

A:  What the two really have in common is the lying.  And the ego, and the belief that they somehow would never have to be held accountable for what they did.  Alex Rodriguez has done players like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa a huge favor. Those players may never get into the Hall of Fame, but A-Rod is now the clear poster boy for baseball’s struggle against PED use. The guy was not liked before all this happened.  He always seemed uncomfortable with his talent and the fans were uncomfortable with giving him credit for being a great player.  Now, hating A-Rod is the easy thing to do, the only thing to do and everyone from the fans to his fellow players are embracing it.  Pete Rose is a different story, mostly because he was so popular with the fans, but also because most of his teammates will begrudgingly say something nice about him even though they know he bet on baseball. Pete Rose was a great teammate, it seems beyond dispute, and so he’ll always have that and A-Rod won’t.  Rose is starting from a position cushioned with a lot more sympathy than A-Rod.  A-Rod’s sins were and are part of an “era.”  He hardly stands alone.  The enticement of huge contracts and the pressure to live up to them has tempted probably hundreds of players to use PEDs.  Rose was acting alone and as a manager.  Rose, had he bet against his own team, certainly would have been in a better position to “taint” the outcome of a game.  We can’t quantify the impact of steroid use, especially when we don’t know who is using and who is not.  I personally don’t believe Rose against his own team, not that this pardons him in any way, but let’s also remember that Pete Rose clearly has a gambling addiction.  If he was addicted to alcohol, he likely would be in the Hall of Fame.  But, betting on the game has always been a clear rule.  While steroids and other PEDs were at times overlooked and ignored, it’s never been OK to bet on baseball and so I have to say that Pete’s transgression is slightly worse, but I would still put him in the Hall of Fame.  I wouldn’t allow him to work for a MLB team, but I’d lift his ban for the Hall.  A-Rod will have to live his life and that will be his punishment after his suspension ends.  He ruined his legacy–something Rose did not do.  

Q: If you were given one skill, say you could putt as well as Luke Donald, or drive the ball like Keegan Bradley do you think the rest of your game would ever catch up to the point where you could play on tour?  And, which skill would be the best to have “given” to you?  

A:  I think I would have to take the putting, or if I could expand that to an entire short game?  Please?  For me, putting and the short game is such a separator in terms of class.  I don’t want to belittle great ball-striking, but the mini-tours are full of guys that hit it so pure you’d cry.  And, if you ever putted for one week like the worst guy on tour putts you’d probably thank your lucky stars and quit the game while you were ahead.  If I hit every drive 315, mostly down the middle with the rest of my game in its current state I’d probably be somewhere between a scratch and a 4 handicap? Just because I’d be able to overpower most courses and mix in a few birdies to offset my 35 putts a round.  That would still leave me ten miles from the Tour with no chance of ever getting there.  I suppose I could spend countless hours and months on my short game, but it’s very unlikely it’d ever get me to Tour caliber.  The same goes for the other way, though.  If I had a Tour level short game right now, my handicap would probably dip a bit lower.  I once was a 1-handicap with a pretty dreadful short game, but even if I became a short-game wizard I’d still never sniff the tour.  Which is the best skill to have?  I think if you asked most guys already out there, they’d take the short game or the putting.  I think great short games keep guys around better than the ball-striking.  A guy like Boo Weekley, for example, who is always one week away from his next missed cut probably hits the ball each week than Ian Poulter and Luke Donald, but no one is picking him to win the PGA–if you know what I mean.  

Q: I was at a BBQ last weekend and things were going pretty normal, the usual, until suddenly a ruckus (can you describe the ruckus, Sir?) broke out around the grill.  Apparently another guest was uncomfortable with how the host was grilling and attempted to take over the responsibility.  I asked around, and apparently, the host was yanking the skins off the chicken breasts before putting them on the grill.  Was the other guest in the wrong, or are their times when you just have to do what you have to do?  Weber Handsov, Houston, TX.

A:  That is BOLD AS F*CK on both their parts.  I don’t know anyone who has the stones to walk over to a grill and just TAKE the tongs from someone, and at the same time you have to be a particular kind of moron to take the skin off of a bone-in chicken breast before you grill it.  I mean, COME ON.  What’s next, microwaved hot dogs?  Grilling is one of those things that everyone likes to think they can do, especially men, but some people have no idea.  It does look easy.  Fire.  Meat.  Combine.  Sometimes a grilling novice will ask for help, and then you swoop in and do what is necessary to try to SALVAGE THE DAY, but I don’t think you can do something like this without permission.  Unless the guy was about to blow up the propane tank accidentally, you have to keep your distance.  It’s his BBQ.  The food isn’t going to be great, but hopefully it will still be a decent piece of grilled chicken.  Little dry, but hey, that’s what the Sweet Baby Ray’s is for, right?  RIGHT?  So, yeah, at the end of the day, I commend the boldness, but you’ve got to stay back, quietly belittle the chef and never return to his place for a BBQ (unless you bring your own tray of Ribs–surprise!).  That’s the only play.  

Q: What if your mother offered to buy you a couple new outfits, but in order to get them you had to go through the whole process of selecting clothes as if you were six years old.  Meaning she mostly picks the stores, gives you a bunch of crap to try on, you have to come out and show her everything–anyway is this worth it?  Buster Brown, Exton, PA.

A:  I guess it depends on how badly you need clothes.  I don’t really want to try on anything–for anyone–at this point in my life.  I’ve graduated.  Much like taking the driver’s exam–NEVER AGAIN.  No matter how dicey things get.  There was a point in my life when I would happily try on clothes for people.  My mom, relatives, people who just HAPPENED BY–it didn’t matter.  On Christmas, I’d respectfully put on each pair of sweat pants, come out, do a little TWIRL, then move on to the next outfit.  I imagine I liked the attention.  “Oh, blue sweat pants with a grey sweatshirt instead of grey sweatpants with a blue sweatshirt.  INSPIRED.”  But, I outgrew that.  Sometime around middle school when my mother had to wait around for me to roll up my jeans before emerging from the dressing room, I think the dynamic changed a little bit.  Let’s not forget that malls, in general, are also a bit dicey for me.  I once fell in a fountain.  So, unless I was tapped out, and my two short rotation was down to about a 1/2 pair, then I think I’ve got to keep Mom in the bullpen for now.  

The Mid-Week Mailbag.

Less People Would Eat Pork Butt if This Was on the Package?

Fewer People Would Eat Pork Butt if This Was on the Package?

Do you think the pig gets enough credit as the King of Breakfast?  I’m not sure where pork stands in the meat eating world.  I imagine a lot of people would say, “Well, a Pig is no COW.”  The cow is our meat overlord.  And, there’s some truth to that, but the pig is more versatile than Jose Oquendo.  Just look at the breakfast table, or better yet a breakfast buffet.  Are the hotel pans alive with the sound of crackling bacon?  Sausage?  Ham?  Pork Roll?  What part of the pig is pork roll?  I DON’T KNOW.  But, it eats pretty good.  There’s even scrapple if pork roll is a little too high brow for your tastes.  Sure, you can get yourself an order of steak and eggs, but that’s all you get.  How about eggs and pork six ways? That’s what I thought.  So, when eating breakfast–the most important meal of the day–take a moment to reflect.  I think Charlotte put it best, “Some Pig.”  A mailbag…

Q:  Why does every single website require you to log in?  U. Sername, Porch Swing, MI.  

A.  Part of me thinks it’s because they can.  They want to exert that power over you.  Oh, you’d like to pay a bill online?  Buy a pair boots?  Meet your future wife?  That’s going to require a bit of information and you just provide it willingly, because in that moment you are a sheep–a slave to commercialism.  I think the real reason, though, is that a valid email address is a currency.  They can pepper you with SPAM.  They track your buying habits.  They may even know what kind of YouTube videos you like.  All of this is then used to make you buy even more stuff as they cater their promotions specifically to you.  They may also sell your information.  WHY NOT?  I’m sure there is some theoretical value assigned to email addresses.  If you had a list of 1 million emails, someone would tell you that it was worth SOMETHING.  Now, they wouldn’t give you a dime, but they’d call it an asset.  It’s kind of like if your Facebook page gets a hundred thousand “likes.”  That must mean something, I just don’t know what that would be.  But, if the log in page is really getting you down, I suggest some experimentation into aliases. 

Q: Does one sport produce or cater to more pampered/spoiled children than all the others?  There’s got to be an inordinate number of spoiled monsters playing sweet lax, correct?  Mohr Chocolate, Towson, MD.

A:  Well, they don’t call it sweet, sweet lax for nothing, but we shouldn’t really single out the kids here and I don’t know if you can narrow it down to one sport.  I think there is a type of parent who just spoils their kid and regardless of the sport they are playing the kid is going to make you want to throw up.  The vision of a spoiled kid to me is actually related to baseball.  I see batting gloves.  The newest batting gloves.  More than a bat, or a nice Easton bat bag, a tube of eye black or a Rawlings Gold Glove, the batting gloves always said two things to me–soft and spoiled. No kid NEEDS batting gloves.  It’s the summer.  The pitcher is throwing 43 mph.  There’s no pine tar, BUT the bats HAVE GRIPS on them.  So, if you get your kid batting gloves, you’re spoiling them.  I never really had a pair despite plenty of evidence pointing to me being spoiled.  So, I don’t think this is really a sport specific phenomenon, but if you want to break it down to dollar values you have to go with a sport that doesn’t have a uniform.  At least lax parents don’t shell out for various game day outfits.  You have a kid on the AJGA golf circuit and he’s going to need about a thousand dollar wardrobe.  Ever go to a horse show?  Oh, that’s a cute shirt!  It should be–it cost SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS.  

Q: Did You Know that the Washington Kastles recently won their 34th straight Team Tennis match and they then made claim to the longest winning streak in American Professional Sports.  You know, one more win than the Lakers.  Is the most ridiculous/embarrassing claim in history?  Patrick McInrow, Pittsburgh, PA.

A:  I’m glad you asked this, because I have no idea what THE HELL Team Tennis is and why it’s played.  I always kind of thought it was an exhibition?  Like when Pete Sampras plays Roger Federer in front of the oil magnates in Dubai and they split the 1st two sets on purpose and then give 71% in the final set?  I guess, according to some light reading I just did that the players are actually trying to win in Team Tennis.  There is always an odd mixture of players on these teams.  I feel like you occasionally see Jim Courier playing doubles against Jim the club champion at the Port Authority Racket and Skeet Club.  Can you make a living playing Team Tennis?  Do people go watch it?  What the hell is a Kastle?  So many questions.  I’ve sidetracked myself.  So, what could possibly be a more embarrassing claim?  It would have to be something that is barely a sport.  Maybe the WWE claiming to have a Heavyweight Champion of the World?  I’m at a loss.  Nothing is more embarrassing than Team Tennis.  

Q:  Would you rather get a really good haircut and have to sit there for 40 minutes, or take your chances with a five minute special?  Assume they are the same price.  Nick D. Earlobe, Musket Smoke, Idaho.  

A:  As a kid I went to a pretty reputable hair place and there was also a period where I would not allow my hair to be washed in the sink, so while that did save me a couple minutes the process still easily took 30 minutes.  This is how long I thought a haircut took.  And, we’re talking guy haircuts here.  I’m pretty sure 40 minutes is practically a drive-thru experience at the salon for the ladies.  But, I really didn’t know it was possible to get my haircut in under 30 minutes until I went to my first butcher shop.  The longest part of that afternoon was me trying to explain I didn’t want my ear outlined like a Jack-O-Lantern and then POOF I was done.  A whirlwind of scissors and best guesses. Have I ever been pleased with this type of haircut?  Not really.  Generally, it takes a week or so for it to grow out and start looking a little less violent?  But there is something to be said for the efficiency.  No appointment.  No small talk. Having someone try to make conversation with me WHILE touching my head for 40 minutes?  That’s up there on a list of all-time nightmare scenarios.  And, I don’t go for the head massage, or the hot towelette, or the flirting, that doesn’t really do it for me.  I imagine at least 25% of all men want to be MORE THAN FRIENDS with their “stylist,” but not me.  This question all comes down to the quality of the haircut for me, and I’ve got to take the quick one in the end.  After a couple of weeks it’s going to look the same anyway, right?  RIGHT?

Q:  I just noticed that over at Grantland Russell Wilson is considered the second most valuable trade commodity in the NFL.  Any thoughts on this, and can we get a preview on your level of Russell Wilson hate for 2013?  Dan McGuire, Seattle, WA.

A:  You know right up until I got this question I had spent a long and peaceful off-season without Russell Wilson in my mind.  I was so haunted by that playoff game against the Falcons, sitting in that bar, watching what I assumed was a room full of Eagles’ fans swoon.  It was disgusting.  Go ahead and take a rooting interest, but try to at least keep a grip on a bit of integrity.  The good news is that with Chip Kelly in Philadelphia I think I can avoid an onslaught of Russell Wilson coverage.  Why talk Wilson when you can talk Matt Barkley vs. Nick Poles?  It’s the national people who will be obsessed with Wilson (and Griffin/Luck/Kaepernick) and hoping they can rebuild the monument that may have eroded a bit in the off-season.  One of the things that bothers me with Wilson is that the people who write about him are so satisfied with themselves for praising him, and fall head first for this “born leader charisma” horsebleep.  At least the article at Grantland focuses on Wilson as a football player.  That said, I think you have to be brain dead to list Wilson as the 2nd most valuable trading commodity in the NFL.  The list, has its odd moments, in my opinion.  Grantland also has him ranked at the 7th best Fantasy QB, which is a bit easier to stomach.  If I’m an NFL GM, assuming I can get any of these QBs back, Wilson is out the door: Rodgers/Luck/Griffin/Kaepernick/Ryan/Stafford and I’d think very hard about the veteran guys like Brady/Manning/Brees despite their contracts and small windows.  I think three great chances to win a Super Bowl might be better than having Russell Wilson for 10 years.  Then there are other players I’d consider, stop me when you’ve heard enough, JJ Watt, Megatron, AP, AJ Green.  I think that about covers it.  Guess that’s why I don’t write for Grantland.  I think Wilson is still going to torment me for a bit, before he gets figured out, dinged up and turns into what I’m going to call the poor man’s version of Don McNabb.  Burn.  

Q:  What if there was a car horn that instead of making the regular noise could utter phrases, like “Stop Texting,” or “You’re Driving is Mediocre.”  Honk F. Urhornee, Mustard Seed, IA.  

A:  That would be pretty funny.  I’m sure it’s not legal, because it would be too startling.  I know a horn is supposed to snap you to attention, but you are conditioned to hear that noise.  It alerts you, but at the same time–you know what it is.  OK, car horn, put down the phone, go through the green light.  That’s life.  If it was a loud voice–you might freak.  You’d panic, crush the accelerator and plow into a gully.  We couldn’t have that.  It’d probably also ramp up road rage.  Drivers already lose it when someone blows the horn at them–even if they are in the wrong.  I KNOW I’M NOT PAYING ATTENTION, but (expletive, expletive) you anyway.  When I hear a horn I think, Oh, they better NOT be honking at me.  My driving is PERFECTION.  I think we’re getting close to everything being hands free and at some point text-driving probably will no longer be a concern, just like no one cares anymore about having a place to tie up their horse outside the bank.  Of course, at that point, we’ll probably be onto a whole other set of driving concerns–people getting run over by whisper quiet hybrids–or something.  

 

Last Post Standing: The Mailbag.

It's Lime!

It’s Lime!

Did everyone enjoy the official start to the summer season?  I saw several posts across the social medias of people bundled up at the Jersey shore.  Today, it’s 90, last weekend–no such luck.  When the shore calls, though, you have to answer.  It’s one of those things about Memorial Day.  It triggers an impulse.  One of my favorite staples of Memorial Day weekend, something you might not immediately think of, is the music countdown.  What are the top 300 songs of summer?  Of All-Time?  Memorial Day feels compelled to delve into this topic.  So, I will now list the 300 best songs of all-time: Please feel to discuss.  

#1: “Shoop”–Salt N’ Pepa

#2.  “Gangsta’s Paradise”–Coolio

#3.  “Welcome to Miami (Bienvenido A Miami)”–Will Smith

I wonder how long I could keep that going with a straight face.  I think I could list 40 or 50 songs, IF PRESSED, but what I really wanted to say about these countdowns is: how do you decide between the 230th best song and the 231st best?  Aren’t we pretty much flipping a coin after the top-10? It’s like the NBA draft.  I’m fairly sure any GM picking in the 2nd 10 picks is like, “honestly, who cares, just pick someone.”  Anyway, the moral of this is all lists with an unreasonable number of items are crap.  Happy Memorial Day–the 17th Best Day of the Year.

Q:  Who do restaurants think they’re fooling with those french fries that have the fake “extra crunch” on them?  Why not just put a neon sign out front that says, “Our Fries Come from a Bag!”  Pam Frites, Columbus, OH.

A:  They’re fooling no one.  When I get the fake crunchy fries I get so aggravated and then I eat ALL OF THEM anyway.  That’s what the restaurant knows that you might not want to admit to yourself.  You probably can’t even verbalize too many complaints about your fries, because you are busy shoving them into your gorge hole.  Well, these are terrible, but they still hold ketchup.  Not EVERYTHING is lost.  I think the fake crunch originated in the grocery aisles.  Nothing is limper than an Ore Ida crinkle cut that’s been barely thawed in a conventional oven.  The french fry people had to do something, so they invented the fake crunch.  WHAT IS THAT STUFF?  Is it potato?  Potato byproduct?  Sand?  KFC breading?  I DON’T KNOW.  All these fries offer is extra TEXTURE.  Not extra crunchiness.  The difference is akin to the difference between chocolate and carob.  Not that I’d know really.  So, my final suggestion to you is to create a spreadsheet documenting mediocre chain french fries.  This way you can temper your disappointment at the table.  

Q:  If you have a terrible waitress/waiter do you actually adjust your tip?  I hear people say things like, “There goes her/his tip,” but I’m not sure if I could bring myself to do it.  Serving is a pretty rough job.  Noah Substitutions, Memphis, TN.

A:  I think I made a post once about my general tipping policies, or my tipping questions/concerns.  It’s such a difficult and SENSITIVE area.  Plus, the behavior can be mostly learned.  If your father peeled off a crisp 11% through your entire childhood, there’s a good chance that is how you will tip.  Unless, of course, you ever worked in a position where you relied on tips, in which case you will always over-tip to the point of barely being able to afford your extravagance.  When I lived in Michigan my roommate dated a waitress (server? I don’t know) and she would throw down like $40 for a 23 dollar pizza PICK UP.  It was startling.  Anyway, my general policy is to tip in reverse proportion to the meal’s cost.  Six dollar breakfast–I’m generous.  One hundred dollar dinner, you’re going to have to really impress me to go above 20%.  Is this fair?  Appropriate?  I DON’T KNOW.  I generally don’t take off for poor service, though I do occasionally tip a bit less for a poor attitude.  Space cadet?  OK.  Prick?  Not so much.  I don’t want to get a server down, either.  What if they just started, and they think they spent the whole meal blowing their tip?  They could be thinking that this job isn’t cut out for them.  WHAT ELSE IS THERE?  So, maybe you surprise them with a real solid tip and it settles their nerves a bit, smooths things out for the next table.  I’m really about helping people.  

Q: Did people ever actually blow things up with their mouths?  Like various inflatable objects?  Rafts and the like.  I don’t see how it’s physically possible.  Deap Breths, Boston, MA.

A:  Inflation is funny business.  I think I remember things needing to be blown up at the beach, or possibly by a pool.  I could BARELY float as a young child, let alone swim.  Blowing up swimmies is a task that would typically fall on the grandparent.  Grandpa’s got time.  WHAT ELSE IS HE GOING TO DO?  Not only is blowing things up with your mouth a taxing experience, but it’s wildly inefficient.  You have to blow and then try to plug the hole, repeat that 4,000 times–and those little rubber nipples (?) nozzles (?) were designed to stay open.  THAT’S THE RUB.  I’ll tell you how bratty I am–I never even liked blowing things up with a pump.  There are few heartbreaks as a child that can match going out to grab your basketball and finding it flat.  That can throw you off kilter for hours.  Of course, we had a pump, but that didn’t mean we had a needle.  Why must this all be so complicated?  And then of course, there was the even graver realization that your basketball was leaking and therefore you could pump until you could no longer lift your arms above your head but your ball was going to have the spring of your average bean bag.  Even in the air compressor era, things go wrong all the time with inflation.  What is the average number of nights you sleep on an air mattress before it pops, or the cat puts 57 holes in it?  .8?  I think it’s POINT EIGHT nights.  

Q:  What athlete who is no longer with us would you like to see play their sport again.  Someone you never saw when they were alive.  Mine would be Babe Ruth.  He seemed like a character and did not look like a professional athlete.  Cy Tobb, Dallas, TX.  

A:  I think The Babe would be a popular answer to this question.  I also would like to get a look at his dimensions.  You hear that he was actually PRETTY FAST, and yet the video of him running looks so odd.  Was he just bigger than everyone else, or was he actually overweight?  We’ll never really know, I guess.  While Babe is tempting, I think I’d pick Mickey Mantle for baseball.  I think one of the reasons we watch sports is to see people do things we cannot do, and can hardly fathom.  This is why people get so enamored with talent.  Sure, great players and great teams are compelling, but the talent is what you watch you watch because it’s so unique that you can hardly comprehend what you are watching.  HOW?  How do they do that?  And, just from a mythological perspective of talent and natural gifts, I don’t think there is anyone who could top Mantle.  The reverence that other baseball players had for him is enough in itself to convince me.  People get compared to Mantle all the time.  From Mike Trout to Bo Jackson, and maybe seeing the Mick in person would ruin the myth, but I’d be willing to take the chance.  Other guys I’d like to see–Wilt Chamberlain, Ben Hogan (I can’t tell if I would have been a Hogan fan or not) and maybe Reggie White?  I saw Reggie play, but when he was most dominant and still in Philadelphia I was too young a fan to really know what was going on.  

Q:  What percentage of business cards do you think end up in the trash within 48 hours of being handed out?  Patrick Bateman, Miami, FL.

A:  Not as many as you might think.  In my experience, people tend to hold onto these cards or put them somewhere–just in case.  It’s like the business card turns us all into hoarders.  Who doesn’t have a place somewhere where they throw odds and ends?  The problem with a business card is that it’s difficult to throw out immediately.  If there was a trash can sitting right there and the person giving you the card wouldn’t cry, you’d probably just usher that card right into the trash.  You might not even close your digits around it, but no one is that rude.  So, you tuck the card away for a bit and then it has a hold.  You think, well, I taxed myself carrying this around all day–let’s put it in this container with a 9-volt battery, my old swatch, a cell phone charger from 2003 and dinner mint.  And, maybe people sometimes remember how important they felt when they got their first business card.  Even if they made it with their own dot matrix printer and it said, “Nintendo Coach,” it’s still a very big deal.  Let me try to answer the question.  I say 23% of the cards end up in the trash within 48 hrs, 100% eventually end up in the trash, and .46% lead to actual business.  In fact, they may only exist these days so people can drop them into bowls trying to win lunch.  FREE PANERA!

Q: Is Jell-O the worst dessert item?  Can you serve just Jell-O in a dessert situation? What the f*ck is Jell-O? Grace C. Passedawaythirtyyearsago

A:  I have no idea what Jell-O is.  I mean, it’s gelatin.  What’s gelatin?  I DON’T KNOW.  We probably don’t want to know.  I can’t remember the last time I had Jell-O.  In middle school I had to do a project where we put Jell-O in a petri dish, opened it up for a while in various rooms and then had to document the mold that grew on them.  SCIENCE.  So, this was supposed to be about a 3-4 week project, but I didn’t have that kind of time.  I started a couple of days before it was due, and to speed up the process I coughed on a few of the dishes.  The results were pretty terrifying.  It’ll change the way you look at Jell-O forever.  Anyway, I can’t think of a worse dessert than Jell-O off the top of my head.  We are talking about desserts.  They’re mostly good.  I’d eat Jell-O before I ate carrot cake, but I don’t want to anger the carrot cake Nazis.  And, you’d never see me eating a cookie with a raisin in it–VOMIT.  But, for most people Jell-O probably occupies a very low rung in the dessert hierarchy.  The slogan kind of tells the tale, doesn’t it?  Think of your favorite food.  Does the phrase, there’s always room for ______ apply?  There isn’t always room for a steak.  What if you just had a steak.  So, in this regard, Jell-O is like celery, or air, or a HOT TEA.  Jell-O will never die, though, because it’s an alcohol delivery system and people eat it in hospitals–I think.  But, don’t ever serve it in a social setting.  Just…don’t.  

 

Monday Mailbag Momentum

But No Kandy Apples.

But No Kandy Apples.

So I’m driving down the road last night sometime after late dusk.  It’s not completely dark.  I’m not on a highway, but on a pretty well-traveled thoroughfare.  Suddenly the car behind me puts their high beams on.  Not a flash, the signature move of all assholes, but they were just driving with their high beams on–right behind me.  The light hit my rear view mirror and went directly into the center of my eyeball.  I was furious.  So, I’m wrestling with the rear view, trying to flip it into that less reflective position and then the high beams go off.  Then, back on.  As someone who spends a good portion of time judging other people’s driving, I’m not sure I ever encountered a more frustrating scenario.  Finally, the mongoloid banged a left and I was free of their reign of terror.  Of course, when I went to re-adjust my rear view, it fell off the windshield and rattled around in my cup holder.  Great times.  

Q:  When I was kid I had a friend who would eat dog biscuits.  It was kind of like his party trick.  I was thinking about him the other day.  Do you think he made it?  Milque Bones, Boston, MA.

A:  I assume you mean IN LIFE and not as someone who eats dog biscuits professionally–as an adult.  I’m sure they’re doing just fine.  They probably haven’t even had the urge to eat a dog treat in years.  I’ve never sampled dog food, which is a bit surprising considering my extensive exposure to it, but then isn’t surprising considering I rarely sample anything.  My junior year of college my roommate and I housed a dog illegally in our apartment for a few months.  In our cupboard we had a package of really fancy dog cookies.  They were decorated, looked like real cookies, etc.  One day they were just gone, and I’m fairly sure the dog didn’t eat them.  Someone rummaging through our place for snacks CRUSHED them, and they probably never knew.  One time I gave my dog a Frosty Paws (dog ice cream) and I almost licked the lid out of habit.  GAH.  And, there always is a chance I have eaten a dog dessert without knowing, but I try to eat things made for humans.  I’m not typing this with a bowl of Snausages sitting next to me.  As for your friend, I think dog food has really come a long way.  I’m thinking no lingering effects.  You can eat dog biscuits and go on to lead a RELATIVELY normal life.  

Q: Please rate the following carnival foods: Sno-Cone, Cotton Candy, Corn Dog and Funnel Cake.  Carny Landsferd, Aston, PA.

A:  It is carnival season.  A bit of surprising news:  I’ve never really gotten into The Corn Dog.  In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever had one.  I guess I would like them, but it’s a bit of an unsettling VISUAL for me.  The only thing I really eat off a stick would be dessert pops.  Your basic Dove Bar, a Firecracker Popsicle–things of that nature.  I’m just such a traditionalist with my dog intake.  I like my bun, etc.  So, I’m going to have to abstain from rating Corn Dogs.  In last place, I’d put cotton candy.  It’s OK, but maybe too much sugar at this point in my life?  I don’t get quite the same satisfaction when the stuff crystallizes in my mouth?  Is that a valid point?  I like Sno-Cones a little more, because Sno-Cones know they are ghetto.  From the cheap paper cup, to the huge bottles of “syrup,” this a low-rent operation.  Eating a Sno-Cone is a roller coaster of emotion.  It looks so good for the 1st four seconds.  Then all the syrup drains and you’re basically eating plain ice for 5 minutes, but then it’s pure glory when you can CHUG the syrup at the end.  It’s nutritious.  Kids today are probably too fancy for Sno-Cones, they want water ice.  The funnel cake really dominates everything on this list, though.  It’s fried.  AND, it’s topped with sugar.  When you eat something and the paper plate it was sitting on has all but disintegrated beneath it?  That’s your Winner!

Q: Is it more dangerous to navigate a busy highway at rush hour or a parking lot of a Super Wawa at lunchtime?  Hamilton Shortie, Newark, DE.

A:  I’m going to amend your question, because if we’re talking rush hour–it’s not even close.  Stop and go traffic is a walk in the park compared to Wawa.  How about driving in Connecticut on I-95 with traffic flowing vs. Wawa?  Connecticut, by any reasonable measure or observation, the home to the worst drivers in America.  People come over from India and are a little unsettled by some of these moves.  In terms of chance you’ll get into any type of accident the Wawa parking lot is going to win.  I avoid the Wawa from 11:30-1:30 if I can, because it’s just too trying of an experience.  There are gas lines, food lines, checkout lines–it’s just lines.  I wonder how they staff Wawa, because during the lunch rush they need about 11 people at the deli, but what do they do for the rest of their shift?  Anyway, Wawa parking lots are also oddly designed.  You have the ILLUSION of plenty of room, but there is always someone pulling out, in, cutting across–nightmare.  There are stop signs, but no one pays any attention.  But is any of that really dangerous?  I think the highway is more dangerous, but the Wawa is more likely to have you taking snapshots of your bumper with your iPhone.  

 

Q: Do you ever have a correction dinner?  Like one day you are out and maybe you order a burger or something and it’s pretty awful so the next day you have the exact same thing to rectify that experience?  Charl Broiled II, Chicago, IL.

A:  That’s an interesting concept.  I’ll have the same dinner two days in a row on a fairly regular basis, but I’m not sure that I’ve ever had this particular motivation.  Sometimes I just remember a dish is very good, so I make it again.  Haven’t had Mac N’ Cheese for a while, have extra supplies left over–BOOM.  I can see this happening, though.  I’m picturing a cook out.  You are PRIMED for the occasion and then your host breaks out the frozen Bubba Burger patties and that part of your brain that produces joy just dies ON THE SPOT.  Maybe they don’t have your favorite kind of rolls?  Maybe the center of your hot dog is “chilly?”  A lot of things can go wrong at a cookout.  Maybe the Bubba Burger was just enough inspiration for you to go out and get some fresh ground beef for the next night.  I can tell you one thing I will do that is similar to this.  If I go to a restaurant and maybe they have small portions, or I am at a dinner event and it’s all odd little finger foods or something and you can’t sit down and properly FEED yourself?  You can bet your ass that I will bury myself in dinner the next day.  Two days in a row with small dinners is borderline starvation.  

Q:  What would you make of an adult who said their favorite book was “The Cat in the Hat?”  Are they being intentionally cute?  Have they never read a novel?  What the hell?  Sam Eyem, Whoville, FL.

A:  I love looking at lists of people’s favorite books.  Will they list all the Twilight books or just say, “The Twilight Series?”  Will they leave out one of the Harry Potter books?  How can you make these tough decisions.  Every book is part of a series now.  A Jack Kingslover Mystery #36, or Sloane Peterson Romance #412.  Anyway, if someone said their absolute favorite book was The Cat in the Hat, I might have to conclude that they aren’t the biggest reader.  It’s perfectly OK to like the Cat in the Hat, but for it to be your favorite book?  Something isn’t quite adding up there.  That’d be a bit like saying your favorite food was some delectable offering from Gerber.  It is a clever thing to say, though, if you haven’t read a lot of books, because it will throw the person asking the question off guard.  A more standard answer, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” or something along those lines could lead to follow-up questions.  EXPOSE YOU.  What if they ask about something that isn’t in the movie?  No one is going to be like, “Oh, The Cat in the Hat….what’s your favorite part?  Tell me about the symbolism.”  The conversation is pretty much over from the get-go.  Dr. Seuss–moving on.  I’d rate a Seuss fan above a Twilight fan, though.  OK, you don’t read, but maybe you like good movies–or something.  

Q:  I have a theory that the downfall of society can be traced to the vending machines in the entrance ways to grocery stores.  When America was really thriving, you could get yourself a real prize, now it’s just crap.  Helen Ahandbasket, West Chester, PA.

A:  Nothing quite matches the disappointment of getting the wrong thing out of a vending machine.  You want that Phillies helmet SO badly, but no, PADRES again.  It’s a great life lesson.  Do kids even care about this stuff any more?  Do they look up from their video games long enough to even notice the vending machine?  In my opinion the holy trinity of vending machine toys are: the Super Ball, the Plastic Helmet, and the Fake Tattoo.  That’s the elite merchandise.  I haven’t checked out the machines lately. Can you no longer get super balls?  The last thing I remember seeing on a regular basis were Pokemon stickers.  Is that from this century?  What does it cost for a sticker now–$2?  When I was a kid I was keenly aware of the machines.  I wanted ALL the baseball helmets.  I needed them for THINGS.  If you gave a kid a mini-helmet right now he might flip you off.  That’s my first guess.  I think several problems can be illustrated through the vending machines including the following: We are no longer easily amused and more importantly, we can’t even get cheap sh*t cheap any more.  I’m not sure I’m ready for a world where you can’t placate your dipsh*t kid for the ride home with a quarter.  That used to be a bargain.  Now you probably have to buy them a new app to keep them from choking you out with your seat belt.  

 

In Honor of Alliteration, The Monday Mailbag.

Level of Correctness.

Level of Correctness.

I’ve never really gotten into cold pizza.  It’s just so…cold.  The toppings don’t look right.  I know that many people love it, though.  I admit it confuses me.  I wonder how much of the appeal is borne out of laziness.  Everyone knows you cannot microwave a piece of pizza, so to actually warm it back up—it takes several minutes.  Is this love of cold pizza just a love of being able to eat something instantly?  Is cold pizza a different meal for a different time of the day?  If cold pizza is so fantastic, why don’t places sell it that way?  You know, pickup or delivery, hot or cold?  I think these cold pizza people might be lying to themselves a little bit.  Just a thought before we delve into the mailbag. 

Q: All signs point to the new Great Gatsby movie being awful.  The question is why can’t they make this book into a solid film? West Egg, Hartford, CT.

A:  It’s my understanding that the first version of Great Gatsby to hit the screen (sometime in the 40s) was decent.  I’m sure it would be unwatchable today, but perhaps that first adaptation was the best.  The one most people know, the one you sit through in English class when the teacher got tired of discussing the book, stars old Bobby Redford and comes out flat.  It’s not terrible, but when you are making a movie out of what is widely regarded as one of the best novels ever written, the bar is set awfully high.  I think this is part of the problem. The expectations are just too high, especially since almost no movies really live up to their books regardless of how good the book happens to be.  The other problem might be that the movies tend to focus on the wrong things.  The parties, or the relationship between Gatsby and Daisy.  The Great Gatsby isn’t a love story and I think some people want the movie to be.  The version that opened last week looks almost comically superficial.  They’re showing it in 3D, and it’s pretty clear the story works best in two dimensions. 

Q: What do you think about people who get militant about meat temperature?  Is well-done something to get angry about?  Is it really? Red Center, Omaha, NE.

A: Probably not.  I read the occasional article on cooking and one question that comes up time and time again is, HOW DO I COOK THIS STEAK?  The answer is always the same.  Sear-Roast.  And, that is fine advice, but the advice is always for a medium-rare steak—at the most.  This is what we’ve all deemed to be the correct temperature, but I don’t think it needs to come with so much judgment.  When you read these tips for cooking it will often include something like, “feel free to leave the steak in the oven longer IF YOU WANT TO RUIN IT.”  And, I think that’s the angst you are talking about.  I guess chefs and amateur cooks get OFFENDED when an ingredient isn’t treated properly.  I feel this way on occasion, but it’s mostly when I have to eat the dish.  If you want to make something well-done, or f’ing raw for yourself—go right ahead.  If you are cooking for others, you should at least make an attempt to be aware of their temperature preferences.  I can say, that if I was a guest, I’d rather slog through something that was overdone than something that was raw.  If I come over and you set down a pork chop in front of me that’s pink and mushy in the center—I MAY VOMIT.  Sorry.  Guess I like my pork “ruined.” 

Q: Do you think parents get nervous when their kids give them a present, thinking, “oh my god, what is this going to be and I’ll probably end up having to wear it.”  Mack Aroni, Denver, CO.

A:  Well, I’m not a parent, but I think I can take a reasonable stab at this just through my observations.  I can say with certainty that parents (especially Moms) like getting SOMETHING from their children, because when presented with the opportunity or the need to make a comment, they can chime in with, “Oh, MY Frederick got me the cutest…” and then you just fill in the blank with whatever.  I overheard a couple of these conversations on Mother’s Day.  You don’t want to be the mother that didn’t get anything.  That might say something about YOU as a mother and not about your unappreciative kid.  But in terms of the actual present?  My guess is that parents would always prefer something they can display.  When you are five years old and you come home with a mess of construction paper, or a pasta wreath, or one of those drawings where the sun takes up 84% of the page, your parents can just throw that on a wall somewhere.  Most parents will proudly show this type of thing off, and even insinuate on occasion that their kid is MAYBE not completely terrible at art (he is)?  But, if your mother had to wear that pasta around her neck?  Or your drawing was stenciled onto a T-shirt?  I’m thinking we’re talking about a drastic decline in enthusiasm.  You probably have to be an adult to start getting decent adult gifts for your parents.  Otherwise, it’s “I’m getting Dad this Harry Potter Lanyard!”  Well, Dad’s not going to like that unless it’s sticking out of the ignition of a new car.  

Q:  What do you think is worse, striking out to end a game, or giving up a home run to end the game?  Kenny Wahlkoff, Pittsburgh, PA.

A:  Here’s how I’ll answer.  I assume at some point in my life that I struck out to end a baseball game.  Even though I was Rod Carew like with my contact skills, I bet it happened.  More than once.  The thing is, I don’t remember it happening.  It didn’t leave an impression on me.  I remember the home runs I gave up and none of them were of the walk-off variety, so if that had been the case they would probably be seared into my brain.  I’m approaching this with a Little League mentality, but I think how we look at things in baseball is shaped by our younger years.  From the moment they remove the tee, people start striking out ALL THE TIME.  But, the home run becomes a mythical achievement.  Since most six and seven year old kids can’t go YARD, when someone finally does hit a home run, it is a HUGE DEAL.  That awestruck reaction to a home run sticks with you for your whole life.  The sight of a home run can still cause professional athletes to act like children.  So, because of the joy the home run causes for the offensive team, the gloom it causes for the other team is proportional.  The other thing about home runs?  People always let you know about them.  I heard what’s his face took you DEEP yesterday?  Yeah, yeah, yeah–you’ll be hearing that for the rest of your life.  

Q:  I was driving by a XXX video store the other day and I was pondering to myself, how the hell are these stores still in business in the internet age? P. Eeepshow, Carlsbad, CA.

A:  The old “drive by” question, huh?  The short answer to this question is people are a bit pervy.  For the long answer, I may have approach things a bit more delicately.  I’m no XXX video store regular.  I don’t have the courage.  I remember back in the day when regular video stores had the adult rooms and I would always be SO CURIOUS, but I never went in them–even after I was of age.  You get the feeling that you are going to walk out with your bit of TASTEFUL porn and all of a sudden your grandmother is going to be sitting there knitting you a new Christmas stocking–or something.  That wouldn’t happen, but that’s how it makes you feel, plus the looks from other customers.  At an XXX store you don’t have that concern, no one is in there picking up Toy Story 3 (At least not the animated version), but you could always run into someone YOU KNOW, which would be devastating for both of you.  I think I’m dancing around things here.  Bottom line, XXX video stores usually sell MORE than just videos.  There is a market for these items and there is a group of the population who doesn’t associate any stigma with strolling into the Pleasure Hut, or whatever locale it was you had in mind.  I imagine some of these places have regulars, foster a real sense of community. Can’t get that online.  It’d be like having a happy hour over Skype.  

Q:  Why don’t professional golfers have their swing coaches caddy for them.  Wouldn’t they be better at giving advice, or making a small correction during a round?  Hank Hainee,  El Paso, TX.

A:  There are a few players, among the lesser known golfers, that use their coaches as their caddy.  I just read this morning, that Casey Wittenberg, who played with Tiger this weekend has his swing coach ON THE BAG.  It does make a certain bit of sense, but golf is such a delicate game.  You are so sensitive out there.  It’s tough to make changes mid-round, and you probably don’t really want to be thinking about your swing when you are trying to shoot a score.  Like the old, grumpy, tour pros with the homemade swings like to say, “We’re playing golf, not GOLF SWING.”  There are other stumbling blocks as well, though.  Most guys have multiple students, so who would you caddy for?  Sorry, Tiger, gotta go loop it for Justin Rose today–he’s hitting it left of the world.  And, let’s not forget the monumental egos that these coaches have on tour.  They probably (definitely) consider themselves above the caddy profession.  You also don’t want to tie yourself too closely to one player’s fortunes.  It’s all well and good until your prize student “Goes Duval,” and then all of a sudden you are coaching and caddying for the guy who can’t keep his ball on the property let alone on the fairway.  

Q:  Do you think the Phillies should sell high on Kyle Kendrick right now, and if he keeps this up, what kind of contract is he going to get in the off-season?  Is Kendrick a 100 million dollar pitcher?  Will he out-earn Tim Lincecum?  Are we still on Earth?  Boris Scott, Tampa, FL.

A:  He’s going to get more money than Lincecum.  That can definitely happen.  Kendrick is 4-1 with a 2.47 ERA and has been one of the brightest spots for the Phillies this year.  He has vastly out-performed any ceiling that I would have put on his career.  Kendrick is the original Happ, the original Worley.  In 2007, Kendrick won 10 games and people got excited.  While Happ and Worley have gone on to have their struggles, Kendrick has rebounded over the last year from his own extended bout with mediocrity.  What he has going for him is that he’s still just 28, and the league will always be starved for pitching.  Should the Phillies trade him?  Probably.  If it gets to that point.  After a decent road trip, the Phillies are still bouncing around on the fringes of wild-card contention.  They’ve got a lot of issues, but it’s still too early to put them squarely out of it.  I think that’s where they are headed, but for now, Kendrick has to keep pitching and keep winning.  If they sell off pieces, Kendrick would be a logical choice, because part of the appeal of having Kendrick is having him at a cheap rate.  Can the Phillies even afford to sign him after the season if this keeps up?  Is that where the Halladay money would be best spent?  Probably not, but I can say that if this was three or four years ago Kendrick might already have his extension.  What would KK bring on the open market?  I’m not sure he can keep this up, but assuming he ends up with an ERA around 3.00 and stays healthy–he’s in for a big pay day.  The market will cool slightly because of a lack of track record, but again–he’ll be 29.  You could give him 5 years without going too deep into his thirties.  He won’t get 100 million, though.  Kendrick doesn’t have the raw stuff to support that total, but 5/70 might be on the table.  I can’t believe I wrote that.  But, we’re in a world where 34-year old Kyle Lohse was a bargain at 3/33.  Trade him tomorrow.