Return To Sender, Rejected Mail From the North Pole.

Lots of Bacogon, but the One Bat Mobel with Suffice.

Lots of Bacogon, but the One Bat Mobel with Suffice.

It seems like posting your kid’s Christmas list online has become a new way to try to draw attention to your blog, or to garner Facebook likes, and I can’t say I’m surprised.  Kids are designed to raise your social media profile.  That’s what they’re for, so post away.  It seems like the lists take three forms.  First, they might highlight incredibly bad penmanship and spelling like the list above.  Look at my 5-year old try to spell!  Hilarious.  Second, the kid could be asking for a list of preposterous things: cash, dinosaurs, bat mobels–whatever.  And, lastly, the kid could be doing something cute like, “Dear Santa, can you get my mommy a different job so I can see her when I get home from school?”  Then you post that and wait for the job offers to come pouring in.   In my youth, I believe I was more of a list-maker than a letter writer.  It didn’t matter to me who was getting the stuff.  If you want to outsource to Santa–GO AHEAD.  It’s all the same to me.

*I wrote this before Christmas, when it was SO timely, and then didn’t come anywhere close to finishing the post.  But, I’m not deleting it, so put yourself in a December 19th kind of mood.

Q: Do two people ever meet at a bar, order a couple of sodas and that’s it? I mean, do people meet for a drink if it’s not coffee or alcohol?  And, if they do, where does this happen?  Bud Dry, Golden, CO.

A: I think this happens.  You just need to go back in time, hit up the counter at WOOLWORTH’S, and there will be countless people sharing a soda.  Is soda being phased out by the way?  Between sugared waters, energy drinks and toddlers lining up like fiends at Starbucks, is soda even relevant at this point?  I outgrew soda my freshman year of college when it was all you can drink in the dining hall.  I hit my limit and now probably have three a year. ALL ROOT BEERS–for nostalgia.  Anyway, I think people probably meet for non-alcoholic drinks, but I’m not sure they would go to a bar, and if they did perhaps they’d be one of those people who just drinks club soda straight (for god knows what reason).  If two people are having a nice convo and a soda I feel like they’re probably at the concession stand of a T-ball game, Friendlys, or sitting on a bench outside of a 7-11.  The bottom line is, if you want to talk to someone and no food is involved, you better be a booze bag or know your way around some venti horsebleep.  

Q: Talk to me about clementines.  Those miniature, orange things.  Am I correct in thinking if they were around all year no one would give an expletive about them?  Gray P. Froot, Jacksonville, FL.

A:  I did some research on the clementine, because  I’m not as well-rounded as I’d like to be on produce and it turns out the clementine gained popularity in the United States in the nineties during an especially poor orange harvest.  No word on whether or not the Duke brothers were involved.  But, anyway, as an outsider my main issue with the clementine is why do I have to get 40 of them?  Oh you want a clementine?  Here’s a shipping crate full of them! ENJOY.  I like to pick my fruit carefully (on the rare occasions when I buy fruit).  I would NEVER buy a bag of apples, unless it was for a horse, so I can’t endorse the Costco-esque quantities.  None of this is answering your question.  Is the clementine the shamrock shake of fruits? The Cadbury egg of citrus?  I do think they have a bit of seasonal novelty.  After all, they are known in some parts as “Christmas oranges,” so that can’t be ignored completely, but the clementine does appear to bring something to the table aside from novelty.  That’s sweetness and seedlessness.  Seems like something that would sell, at least moderately well, year round.   To some people, for me, orange is a flavor best experienced in popsicles.

Q: What percentage of the nation’s reading do you think takes place on the toilet?  I’m thinking if people answer honestly, we’re approaching 50%.  Tuck Padd, Boise, ID.

A:  I don’t know, that sounds awfully high.    Sometimes I wonder why reading on the can is so popular.  Does it take people that long?  Is it boredom?  Or are people just taking a breather from life in there?  I could think of better places to relax, but sometimes you can’t pick which door you can hide behind.  I never understood the bathroom reading when I was a kid.  We had a basket full of reading material in our downstairs bathroom, but I didn’t really see the point of it, until I got a bit older.  Now I’m a pretty big sh*tter scholar, but I stop short of the people who celebrate their bathroom reading lifestyle.  I’m sure we’ve all worked with someone who marches around with the sports section and announces to anyone within earshot, “I’LL BE IN MY OTHER OFFICE.”  This is, for my money, not necessary.  I think some people probably do ALL their reading on the toilet and phones make this job a whole lot easier these days.  But, I think the people who read the most do the majority of their reading with THEIR PANTS UP.  So, because of that, I’m going to put the overall number at 10%.  Seems fair.  

Q:  What’s going to happen to all the pot dealers in Colorado?  

A:  I hope they can put a little kiosk at the end of their driveway and continue to ply their trade.  I have no idea what the long term effects of the legal pot trade will be, but I’m not particularly worried about the pot dealers.  NO OFFENSE.  I’m sure if they want to they can move into another realm of illegal drug trafficking.  I hear prescription pills are a growing industry.  And, from the looks of the lines going down the street in Colorado, they might want to hire some dealers to work at these legal dispensaries.  I imagine the money would be somewhat less lucrative.  And, I also imagine that individuals will continue to sell pot in Colorado, right?  Not everyone is going to go to these new places. I am a little lukewarm on the idea of legalizing pot.  I don’t know why.  I’ve had generally bad experiences with people who smoke A LOT, so maybe that’s it, or maybe I’m just being a huge hypocrite.  

Q: If you had to play in Green Bay this weekend (possibly coldest NFL game ever played) do you think you’d be the guy out there in short sleeves, or the guy wearing a full head sock and a fanny pack hand warmer?  E. Muffs, Kenosha, WI.

A:  Well, it’s very cold in Pennsylvania today.  Not Wisconsin cold, but it was cold enough to freeze my hair solid as I extricated my car from my parking spot.  That’s a real, REAL solid look.  Let me tell you.  And later in the day I popped outside for a brief moment in my shirtsleeves and that was not comfortable–at all.  You know that some fan is going to be at the game without a shirt on, but that fan is also going to be completely sh*t-housed and as a player you’d have to be sober.  I never played football, so I don’t know about the warmth or lack thereof in wearing pads, etc., but I do know that physical activity can keep you warm for short periods of time in very cold temperatures.  I used to wear gloves during a jogging phase and they were great until about two miles in when it felt like I had stuck my hand in a furnace.  And, do forearms get particularly cold?  I think if you kept your core and extremities warm that you could conceivably get away with short sleeves.  But, what would I be doing?  If I was “in” that game, it’s probably likely I’d be safely on the bench, which means I’d be in full hood, parka, fanny pack hand warmer, etc.  This despite being a generally warm person, 20 below is no joke.  

Q:  Am I the only one offended by the notion of, or the quest for a hangover cure?  You got hammered.  That’s what happens.  Suck it up, or don’t drink–baby.  Harry O’Dogg, Atlantic City, NJ.

A:  My drinking now is governed by a severe aversion to being hungover.  I try not to complain too much when I overindulge, but it does seem a bit pointless.  What did you think was going to happen when you sucked down seven different kinds of alcohol over the course of one evening?  I read recently about a guy who started a business that offered hangover cures.  Essentially he drops in the morning after you burn that mother down and hooks you up to an IV bag.  He hydrates and replenishes you much faster than you can yourself with Gatorade, four bags of fast food, pedialyte, or a bloody mary.  I think this service costs nearly a thousand dollars, so you know, it’s not QUITE mainstream.  More economical hangover cures in my experience, do not work.  A sampling of what I’ve heard over the years:

  1. Exercise
  2. Drink 7 gallons of water before bed
  3. Raw eggs in some form
  4. More liquor
  5. Grease
  6. Consenting adult time
  7. Pedialyte (from bottle or in popsicle form)
  8. Drink only Coors Light (might actually work)

Like I said, almost none of these work.  I was only so desperate to try more drinking one time in my life and OH MY was that not a great idea.  The only thing that works for me is the 2nd sleep.  You wake up the first time and it’s like you never went to bed, because your body was doing gymnastics trying to process those 11 G&T’s.  So once that’s finally over, the next time you sleep is your cure.  Unfortunately, as a functioning, non-c0llege student adult this usually has to wait until the evening when you go to bed.  Thus, the full-day hangover that haunts us all.  Not that I’m complaining.





Is That a Limo?  IS IT?

Is That a Limo? IS IT?

Cold snap the last few days.   Possibly colder than it was all last winter.  Who can remember?  When it’s this cold out people cannot stop talking about the weather.  BURRR.  It made me wonder, what type of weather produces the least amount of comments?  Isn’t it always too hot, or dreary, or miserable, or sticky, or freezing, or beautiful, or HOW ABOUT THIS WEATHER?  Would 59 degrees and partly cloudy produce silence?  I guess it depends on the season.  Hopefully it warms up soon, because people are already running out of their cold weather material.  The mailbag, much like the mailman, come regardless of weather…

Q:  I saw a limo pull into a parking lot the other day and I found myself getting excited.  What is it about limos that are so fascinating?  Keep in mind I’m an adult and have ridden in limos before.  MGG, Media, PA.

A:  I’m the same way, and I don’t really know why.  I’m not a car person.  I know some people who will start humping their car door if a Bentley pulls up next to them in traffic, but that’s not me.  It’s not the cost, or the luxury that draws me to the limo, so I have to assume it’s the novelty.  Or the positive association.  It’s like when I smell a candle burning out and deep down in the recesses of my memory I’m thinking about eating birthday cake.  When I think about the few trips I’ve taken in a limo in my life, it was always a precursor to something exciting happening.  So, when you see that limo, you’re just thinking to yourself, IS THAT FOR ME?  Am I going somewhere?  You’re not, of course, but there is that fleeting moment when anything is possible.  The other reason limos are stimulating is that there is always a chance someone famous could be inside.  Why are the windows so tinted?  Is J-LO in there?  IS SHE?  

Q:  Do you think the Harbaugh parents have a favorite child?  There’s no way they are rooting for them both equally, right?  Three Putt Territory, Media, PA

A:  I don’t think so.  Is anyone ever truly impartial?  I’m sure you know someone who is the darling child of their family.  ALL WORLD EVERYTHING.  When parents get asked about their kids, there’s usually one they talk about first, right?  Oh, Buster?  He’s clerking for Chief Justice Roberts–IN HIS SPARE TIME!  Then they get asked about their other kid, the one who’s a freelance tattoo artist and they suddenly don’t offer up as many specifics.  Is this the case with the Harbaughs?  At first glance, the boys seem to be on pretty equal footing.  Both NFL head coaches.  Similar personalities, both well-regarded in the industry, but this hasn’t always been the case.  Remember that Jim Harbaugh had a decent NFL career.  Captain Comeback anyone?  John Harbaugh played defensive back at Miami of Ohio.  Which is fine, unless your brother is an NFL quarterback.  So, even though Jim is younger and had the more glamorous career, I think there may be a bit of an underdog factor going on here.  John could very well be his family’s Cinderella.  And since coaching is more his THING, while playing was John’s THING, I’m going to say the Harbaugh parents are going to be all Raven’d up for the Super Bowl.  Plus, they probably don’t want any part of being on the opposite side of Ray Lewis…and God.  

Cialis Ad For Shetland Ponies.

Cialis Ad For Shetland Ponies.

Q:  What do you think would happen if the fans walked into the Super Bowl and they weren’t serving beer in the stadium?   Mass hysteria?  Rioting?  The worst parts of the bible?  T. Blogger, Media, PA.

A:  I think we’d get an idea of how many people go to the Super Bowl to actually WATCH THE GAME.  One of the criticisms of the Super Bowl is that the crowd is this unaffiliated blob of corporate drones who are there for the spectacle and the week of parties and not the actual game.  Certainly there will be plenty of Ravens and Niners fans in attendance, but not enough to create any type of real atmosphere or advantage.   I’d love to see a Super Bowl played at a team’s home stadium once, in front of its usual crowd, just to see what that looked like–but it’ll never happen.  So, speaking of things that will never happen.  Back to the beer.  I think confusion would be the first response.  You would doubt yourself.  WAIT.  Do they not serve beer at Super Bowls?  How did I not know that?  But once a few other people insisted that there should be beer people would start getting pissed.  They’ve spent all day building to a particular level of drunkeness and now that plan is RUINED.  I think the scene would get pretty wild.  People would be lurching at the beer taps over the counter, making petty and embarrassing bribes, there would be several personal attacks against the poor concession stand employees.  But, then the game would start.  I think about two-thirds of the crowd would resign themselves to their fate and watch the game.  The rest of the people would either leave, or wander the concourse like nomads hoping to stumble upon that one stand that was serving up a $10 Coors Light.  

Q:  A friend of mine called me when he was completely hammered the other day.  It was annoying.  Not long ago I would have been immensely entertained, but all I could think about was hanging up.  What are some things that you don’t think are “fun” anymore?  Imaginary Friend, Media, PA.

A:  I’d like to take this moment to apologize to everyone I ever called when I was drunk.  Of course, I was under the impression at the time that I was DOING THEM A FAVOR.  Oh, I’m awake at 2 am, I’m feeling pretty conversational, I wonder what (______) is up to?  The person would usually humor me for a little while, even have the courtesy to say it was an entertaining call the next day.  I’d be all…WHAT DID I SAY?  And, this isn’t to say I wasn’t amused many times in my youth by inebriated people.  In college I would sometimes get up OUT OF BED when drunk people came home just to see what was happening.  You don’t want to miss anything.  But all that fades.  It’s almost like, I’ve seen it all.  Oh, you’re shoveling peanut butter into your mouth with the Playstation controller?  YAWN.  So, in addition to drunk calls, what else is no longer fun?   A quick list:

1.  Carnival Games.  a) I don’t get the same satisfaction out of winning a stuffed animal and b) they are all more rigged than ever, too expensive and the prizes suck.  Booo carnies.

2.  Goldeneye Video Game.  The most dead video game that’s ever been dead.

3.  The buffet/happy hour combo.  Oh, from 4-6 pm it’s dollar well drinks and all you can eat hot dogs and ziti?  Vomit.

4.  Miniature Golf.  I’m sorry, is putt-putt really a good time?   I’ve just missed too many putts in my life.  I don’t need to do it for recreation.

Q:  How do you think of all the made up questions for the mailbag?  Randall Stevens, Media, PA.

A:  Well, I’ll tell you what, it’s not easy.  I have to be keenly observant on every day life.  I have to take down notations.  I have to live my life attached to a little journal.  I’m a professional chronicler of the human existence.  That’s my art.  OK, none of that is true exactly, but I do try to remember things to “bag” about.  But, I’ll tell you what, it’s becoming more and more difficult to accumulate the questions.  So, I’m sending out a real request here–If you enjoy the mailbag–send me some questions!  Any questions.  Take them from other websites.  PLAGERIZE.  Do whatever you need to do, but I could use some help over here.  My life isn’t that interesting.   Pretty soon the mailbag questions are going to be like, “I had a chicken sandwich three straight nights for dinner–thoughts?”  NO ONE WANTS THAT.  Email questions to



Not Pictured:  Me.

Not Pictured: Me.

Some guy asked me if I had the “correct” time yesterday.  It happened to be 1:23 pm.  I told the guy.  I wondered, does this guy get told the incorrect time a lot?  Are there people out there who attempt to provide misinformation in this situation?  But I really wondered about the guy, because in this day and age it’s pretty easy to have the time appear somewhere on your person.  Watches, cell phones, I assume this guy didn’t have the only car in the world without a clock?  It all seemed so old-fashioned, like I was walking down a bustling avenue in 1865.  Oh, the time?  Well, I forgot to wind my pocket watch so let me just take a look at the sun here for a second….

Q:  If you played one game for the 1995-96 Bulls, I’m talking all 48 minutes, what do you think your stats would look like and would the Bulls have any chance of winning?  Danny Cominoff, Downingtown, PA.

A:  Those Bulls went 72-10.  They were a well-oiled machine.  They routinely beat teams by 20, 25 even 30 points.  But they did this with five players on the court.  If I was out there, it wouldn’t even be like playing 5 on 4.  It’d be worse than that, because the four ACTUAL NBA players would be exhausting themselves trying to make up for my deficiencies.  I’m afraid the Bulls would lose.  Maybe once every couple hundred games we’d win, just by accident, but if you take Jud Buechler off the ’95 Bulls and put me on the floor for 48 a night–they’re in big trouble.  As for my actual stats?  I’m sure I would accumulate some things on the stat sheet.  I imagine at the beginning of the game the other team wouldn’t even cover me, they’d have two guys on Jordan and I’d be wandering around, clapping my hands and screaming “BALL!”  I’d like to think that I could get a few shots off before they were blocked over the course of 48 minutes.  I’m not a terrible shooter, I might make one or two before someone started to guard me and block EVERY shot I took.  From there, the other team would try to trick the Bulls into giving me the ball (they wouldn’t) and I’d basically just be trying to stay upright running up and down the court.  Final Prediction:  4 pts on 2/6 shooting, 1 rebound, 0 assists, 0 blocks, 6 turnovers.  

Q:  I just read the top-3 most hated companies in America are JC Penney, Dish Network, and T-mobile.  So, pretty much exactly who you would expect.  What’s your most hated company?  John Wanamaker, Philadelphia, PA.  

A:  Do people hate Penney’s because it’s not Target, or because it reminds them of Sears?  I DON’T KNOW.  I haven’t even thought about Penney’s in a decade.  I know they have a new logo, or marketing campaign.  Guess it’s not working out too well for them.  The next two make a lot of sense.  Television and mobile phones.  Why do people hate this type of company?  Quick thoughts:  They think the phone and TV should be almost free.  OK, you have to pay a NOMINAL fee, but no one likes to feel like they’re getting taken.  That’s what the cell phone industry is based on.  Remember roaming charges?  Wow, that’s the greatest scam ever pulled on the American public.  People also think their phones and TVs and internet machines should always work.  Never one glitch.  So, little thunderstorm pops up, knocks out your Dish and you have a meltdown.  WHAT AM I PAYING FOR?  I am one of these people so Comcast and Verizon are probably going to be in my Top-5.  But, if I’m going for my most hated company?  How about Exxon-Mobil or any other oil company.  Thanks for the privilege of paying $3.75 a gallon.  I know everyone is really living hand to mouth over there at Exxon headquarters and while they’re getting rich off our driving addiction they mix in an occasional ecological disaster free of charge.  

Q:  Wouldn’t it be awesome if really nice restaurants has the equivalent of “happy meals,” meaning you got some type of prize with your food?  I imagine walking in some place, grabbing some Kobe beef and being pleasantly surprised with a nice pair of driving gloves?  Maybe a tennis bracelet?  Don’t tell me that rich people don’t love getting little prizes.  Sue Veneer, El Paso, TX

A:  I like this idea.  Is the Happy Meal not classy?  This would be a great thing for restaurants too, because you know rich people love being handed things.  You are correct about that.  Swag bags, various BAUBLES, you know what I’m talking about.  The more things you can afford, the more stuff you get for free.  So, I don’t think there would be any stigma to collecting a nice gift to go along with your $500 dinner.  I think the biggest problem would be the cost to the restaurant.  From my understanding restaurants operate on pretty slim margins.  This is why they so gleefully charge you 400% markups on anything with a drop of alcohol in it.  I’m not sure even the most prosperous restaurants could afford to outfit you in the style which you’ve become accustomed.  

Q:  Do you think you could, at your current age, smoothly assimilate into a college party?  Shawn “Jackie” Gleason, Frazer, PA.  

A: I didn’t really smoothly assimilate into college parties when I was actually in college.  I usually went in, looked for the Beirut table, played a few games, got overheated, had a minor claustrophobic FREAK OUT and then left.  That’s normal, right?  RIGHT?  I cannot overstate how hot it got inside college parties–nightmare.  I can’t imagine what the college kids do these days.  Do they actually have “parties?”  I’m kind of picturing a bunch of kids (high as sh*t) sitting around a room tweeting.  Is that a party?  In general, I have no desire to hang out with twenty year-old kids in a party setting.  I would likely project this feeling and creep out everyone in the room within five or ten minutes, so the answer is going to be no–I could not assimilate.  Thankfully.  What could I do?  I could probably handle the music.  I’d just play everything I used to hear back in the day, and the kids would go crazy.  Is that Nelly?  Old School stuff always kills it.  

Q:  What do you think is the worst food smell that can come from a microwave? Colonel Singed, Portland, OR.  

A:  Oh man, you know what I really hate?  Communal microwaves.  Whether it was in a college dorm, or at a place of employment, for some reason a microwave in a public place always makes me more sensitive.  If I burn some popcorn, in the PRIVACY OF MY OWN HOME, I can live with that.  But, if I walk into a break room of some kind and someone has burnt something in the microwave?  Irrational levels of rage.  Popcorn is probably the easy answer here.  The smell of it burnt in a microwave is right there on the tip of your nose.  I think you can do worse, though.  Some foods, even when not burnt, smell atrocious.  Cup O’ Noodle, for example, can TURN A STOMACH.  Then, there’s any type of microwave “pasta.”  Anything with a gnarly meat sauce.  From Chef Boyisthatawful to the more fashionable Smart Ones, if you put that horsebleep in the microwave–the whole building will know and they’ll be pissed.  But, the worst smell I’ve encountered in the microwave is burnt hot dog.  When I worked at the golf course, we had guys from all WALKS OF LIFE in the caddy pool.  The microwave in the bag room should have had a bio-hazard sticker on it.  There was this one caddy who would bring in packs of hot dogs and microwave them.  Best case scenario the smell is TROUBLING, but when he burnt them….Ahhhh.  I’d know as soon as I took one step down the stairs.  It would ruin my whole day.  

Q:  Do you think people with really cute dogs get tired of strangers approaching and asking to meet said dog?  Do they ever think, I hope this isn’t the one person in the world my dog is going to hate?  

A:  I suppose if you walk your dog for utilitarian purposes every day that a constant barrage of well-intentioned strangers could grow a bit tiresome.  Just let me get my walk in, or maybe you didn’t NOTICE, but I’m holding a bag of my dog’s crap right now and I’d like to get it out of my hand as soon as possible.  And some dogs aren’t quite as friendly as they look.  If my dog was a bit temperamental, I’d be worried that some idiot would come over, all awkward and abrupt with their threatening motions and my dog would choose that moment to snap at someone.  But, those situations are the outliers.  Most of the time, people love to be approached about their dog.  Much like a kid, everyone thinks their dog is especially adorable and so they want that validation.  I’d say it even gets to the point where they could be disappointed if they aren’t approached on occasion.  Say you just had old Buster groomed, maybe you put him in a little jacket or something, A KERCHIEF?  You’d probably be walking around thinking, HELLO?  Is someone going to talk  to me about my dog, or what?  



Mid-Week Mailbag.

You Want me to Get in What?

How about some lighter fare?  I think it’s the perfect time for the mailbag.  Remember this is advice you’d be paying tens of dollars for in the open market, so if you want your issues solved for free, write in.  What’s the worst that could happen?

Q:  You know what annoys me?  Jewelry commercials.  They’re all terrible, but the ones I dislike the most are when there is some kid taking partial credit.  “Oh, it’s from me too!”  “Oh, I helped pick it out!” Shut up you little runt and get to bed.  Daddy’s trying to execute a game plan here.  Am I right?  Grover Hunt, Litchfield, SC.  

A:  You’ve wedged me into a tight spot, here, Grover.  I’ll concede the point that jewelry commercials are frustrating. Especially considering I imagine most people who can afford nice jewelry do not need a commercial to be reminded of that fact.  The kid thing is a dicier issue.  I do not have kids, but since I once was a kid, I know that children are incredibly annoying.  They drive people crazy to the point that they make concessions.  Like the “little runt,” in the commercial was probably hounding his father for days, if not weeks about the gift.  I want to give something to Mom too, blah, blah blah.  So, the Dad just acquiesces before he snaps and hangs the kid from the clothesline for an hour or something.  When I was a kid my Dad told me about a secret present he got my Mother.  It was a pretty big present and my Dad trusted me not to blow the whole thing.  I’m sure he told me because I was being super NOSY and ANNOYING about it.  I just can’t believe I didn’t blow the surprise.  

Q:  Depending on my morning schedule, I sometimes see these two business looking gentleman arriving for their daily carpool at a local parking lot.  Hooray Environment!  But, what catches my eye is that one guy drives a giant Nissan SUV and the other drives a tiny Saturn sports car (?) that resembles a Miata.  Do you think the guy in the Nissan regretted his decision to carpool the first time he had to squeeze into the passenger seat of that matchbox car?  Are there carpooling rules, and do guys think about masculinity when making car purchases?  Temple Thompson, Temple, TX.  

A:  Is Saturn still in business?  But, hmmm, the carpool question.  Personally, I hate driving, so if someone wants to drive me somewhere, I don’t really care too much about their whip.  And, I was never the 13-year old that pored over Road & Track, either.  I imagine that Mr. Nissan knew what he was getting into.  Considering he has the SUV, I’m going to assume that saving gas and money was the idea of Senor Saturn, but he’s a well enough adjusted guy to ride shotty in a convertible with another dude at the helm.  I don’t know what cars are left in terms of being looked at as predominately masculine.  It’s certainly not SUVs.  Plenty of women drive sports cars.  Perhaps the full-size luxury sedan?  A 7-series BMW probably still more likely to be helmed by a guy than a woman, but the lines are blurred.  Even with pick-up trucks.  

Q: Will there ever come a time when idiot college kids don’t display their empty liquor bottles somewhere?  I feel like the only consistent thing about college is the empty bottles of vodka on top of the fridge, mantel, cabinets, etc.  Jac0b Stoli, Fresno, CA.  

A:  The short answer is, “NO.”  This is what college kids do.  They’re morons.  They display everything.  Parking tickets. Liquor bottles.  They’ll paper their wall with cases of beer.  They’ll throw their D+ paper on the fridge.  Anything they couldn’t get away with at home, they’ll jump into at college with both feet.   My favorite thing about this phenomenon, though, is that the kids don’t discriminate.  Perhaps if you got older and had a great bottle of champagne at a special moment you might hang onto it, but as long as the thing contains any alcohol a kid will display it.  Oh, handle of Parrot Bay?  Straight to Display Case!  What is that Goldschlager?  CLASSY!  If you’re lucky the kid will realize at some point before he/she graduates how idiotic this is and not try to transport their empties back home with them.  

Q:  I jog at a park occasionally and when I get close to one of the boundaries, I usually take a nice soft and generous turn.  Sometimes I see someone else out there and they run all the way to the furthest possible point, make a 90 degree turn and keep hugging the boundary like if they didn’t get in those extra 8 strides their workout would be useless.  Annoying.  Felicity McQueen, Upper Darby, PA.  

A:  I know exactly what you are talking about.  I call these people corner runners.  My gut-reaction is…they’re____. Wait, first let me give them the benefit of the doubt.  I suppose this could be a tactic.  Like, if they don’t run to the absolute border of the property they cannot trust themselves to make a reasonable turn.  They’d be cutting off more and more every day.  Now, that said, is that what I think is happening?  No, not really.  They’re just show-0ffs.  They’re more likely to do this if someone like you is watching them, I bet.  And, I’m a corner-cutter.  Does this say something about my life in general?  Do I sometimes fail to go the extra mile?  Maybe.  I’m OK with that.  The next time this happens though, you could always one-up them.  Wherever they break off for their turn you PUSH THE ENVELOPE.  Woods?  Go charging right in there.  A fence?  HOP THAT BITCH!  Then your goody-goody runner will be thinking to themselves, where is that animal going?

Q: How do you like to be served condiments in a restaurant?  Preston, Heinz, Pittsburgh, PA.  

A: Liberally?  I assume you mean the delivery system.  Condiments either come in bottles or dipping cups, I suppose. They both have their pros and cons.  Bottles can get nasty.  Plus, apparently you aren’t supposed to combine ketchups and things of that nature.  WHY?  Who knows.  And, nothing is worse than having an empty bottle of ketchup on the table.  Will the server ever return?  I DON’T KNOW.  The problem with dipping cups is that they’re fine for some things (spicy mayo for a sandwich), but totally inadequate in other areas (ketchup).  DO NOT RATION MY KETCHUP.  So, then you have to pretend like you don’t like ketchup that much, or tell the waitress to just keep them coming.  Another problem with cups is, you don’t really know what you’re getting.  The source could be ungodly, generic muck.  So, I think ideally, I’d like to be presented a little chest chock-full of room service size bottles of pristine condiments.  

Q:  So, it looks like Ryan Madson is going to be headed back to the Phillies (if you believe Twitter).  Somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 years/44 million.  Good deal?  Ed Waid, Houston, TX.

A:  Yeah, the way people were tweeting yesterday, I thought this deal would be over by now.  Secrets are hard to keep these days.  My initial reaction is, I didn’t do a double-take when looking at the terms.  The Phillies can’t afford to go into this season without a proven closer, so they were going to have to pony up for someone.  If you’d rather have Papelbon, you can probably make that case, but Madson is home-grown talent and appears to be growing into the role.  I’d rather give a contract to a closer on the rise than a guy who has likely peaked (with the exception of Rivera).  The Phillies dumped a higher annual value on Lidge, and he had more experience, but you could argue that Madson has equally good “stuff” at this point.  And, the Phillies do gain a lot more financial flexibility in ’12 and a ton in ’13, so if the contract ends up being a little back-loaded it could help them this season.  I’ve always felt that Madson would come back, so if it goes through, not surprising.  And, I think the only thing that could concern you would be the 4th year.  

Q: Would you rather be famous for inventing something universally loved that you made no money off of, or be rich for inventing some mundane product that no one cares about?  R.J. Springs, Berwyn, PA.  

A:  So, what if I invented the iPad or something, but Apple took all the money or you couldn’t copyright it and someone stole the idea?  I get that or I invented some vacuum filter and get 25 cents every time someone plugs in the old Hoover. Classic fame or fortune question.   I’d say, there’s nothing stopping you from trying out the first scenario.  If you didn’t get any money for the invention, then there’s no reason why you can’t be some broke a-hole who walks around talking about how they invented the touch screen or something.  Give it a try, see if that works.  I’d take the money all day. Because say you’re sitting around talking about the day you invented Drano and people are slipping into comas all around you, do you know what will make them wake up and take notice?  When you start pulling thousands of dollars in CASH out of your pocket.  

Q:  I’ve got a problem with Indie Movies.  Nothing ever happens.  They cut the trailer to make it look quirky and fun, and then you rent the thing and it drags on forever.  The whole story could have been told in 15 minutes and they’re always open-ended, fade to black atrocities.  Do people actually like this crap?  Oh you won Sundance?  Great, I’ll use that DVD to prop up my wobbly table.  Timmy Acton, Maple Shade, NJ.  

A:  I agree that a lot of indie movies are very slow.  To paraphrase the great Lester Bangs in Almost Famous, I think a lot of these movies want to be “think pieces.”  They want you to slowly drink it all in, ask questions, wonder what’s going on. Why is it shot this way?  Why did they just sit in silence for 30 seconds?  Things of that nature.  Sometimes indie movies can’t get out of the way of their own intellectualism.  The bottom line is, you still have to be entertaining and a lot of indie movies, comedies especially, get bogged down in the darkness.  Like, if they are too funny, or play to a certain audience they’ll be selling out.  The thing about mainstream movies is, they’re mainstream for a reason.  That’s what the majority of people want to see, so it stands to reason that’s what you’ll want to see.  Don’t feel bad if you think some indie movie is AWFUL.  It probably is.  

Mid-Week Mailbag.

Gato or Perro? Let Me Escuela You.

I’ve got to say, I’ve come to love the mailbag.  It’s a great time.  I don’t care if I make up most of the questions.  It still makes me feel important.  Let’s go.

Q: I’m a bit of a Thanksgiving protectionist.  What I mean is, shouldn’t every holiday have its window of glory?  Thanksgiving gets the shaft every year.  Take down the pumpkins, put up Rudolph.  It’s not cool. Henry Mayflower, Plymouth Meeting, PA.  

A: Thanksgiving is not one of my favorite holidays believe it or not.  Why didn’t the Pilgrims make CHEESEBURGERS? But, I do appreciate the desire to not be rushed.   I love Christmas, but that doesn’t mean I want it all up in my grill right this second.  I went into the grocery store yesterday, and there’s one guy marking down the Halloween candy and another one setting up the candy canes.  CANDY CANES?  I understand you gotta push Christmas, but how many people are out stocking up on canes on November 1st?  Have people been craving candy canes?  Are the circular, year-round mints not cutting it?  Anyway, I agree Thanksgiving gets sold short, but the problem is, there’s nothing to sell except for the Bird.  I suggest you just carry around a portable horn o’ plenty and just set it up in your office, on your dash, etc.  

Q: How do you know the right type of pet for you?  Pet rats?  Cat vs. Dog?  Girl vs. Guy? No cliché answers, please. Q, Exton, PA.  

A:  Well, of course you should get the kind of pet you want and if you are going to take care of it properly, that is all that really matters to me.  But, if you get yourself a rat, be prepared for me to talk behind your back and never visit your abode again.  And, that’s really the story.  Anyone with common sense can figure out what kind of pet they want or should get.  If you work 12 hours a day–don’t get a border collie.  No matter what you get, though, people will draw some conclusions.  If you’re a chick with a tiny little Pomeranian that you carry around people will assume you are high-maintenance and a little bitchy.  If you are a chick with a lab, people will think you’re more easy-going, outdoorsy.  A guy with a cat gets the same conclusions as a chick with a Pomeranian.  And, the list goes on and on.  I’m not saying stereotyping is right, I’m just saying it HAPPENS.

Q: Here’s a puzzler for you, how come there isn’t a homemade version of the OREO that totally dominates it?  I mean, no one in their right mind would take a Chips Ahoy over a homemade chocolate chip cookie, but sometimes you just have to have the OREO.  Freddie Nabisco, Lake Placid, NY.

A: That’s real advanced cookie theory, Freddie.  I see what you are saying.  I also like that you capitalize OREO like that. It’s a word of weighty significance.  The Oreo is just in a category by itself.  It’s store-bought and the cookie portion is crunchy.  Those are two giant red flags when talking about cookies and yet the Oreo shrugs them off with no problem. And, I can honestly say I’ve never even seen someone attempt to make a homemade version of a Oreo.  I’m sure it would be a DISASTER.  What is even in a Oreo?  Where would you start?  I could whip up some chocolate cookies and throw some vanilla icing between them, but that’s hardly a Oreo.  I think it’s best not to question it.  Don’t look a gift cookie in the mouth, if you will.  

Q: So, Northern Illinois beat Toledo 63-60 in regulation last night.  That’s college football.  Is it me, or are there two different versions of college football?  The top-25 play the game we’re familiar with and everyone else is just trying to score as many points as possible.  63-60?  Alonzo Amos Stagg, Charlottesville, VA.  

A:  It is strange to see college football teams putting up those kinds of numbers.  The kid from Houston threw 9 TDs the other day–NO BIG DEAL.  I think there are two ways to run a successful college program and the scores you see highlight the differences.  The first way is to get the best players and try to win national titles.  There are only so many players to go around though, so what do the other 100 schools do?  They’ve got to make themselves as entertaining as possible.  Spread it out and score, score, score.  It also gives them a chance to become relevant.  Don’t you think some better athletes started going to Boise because they wanted to get in on that action?  Running up and down the field is fun, and it’s good for the fans.  If you’re going to be 8-4 in a crap conference, might as well average 48 points a game, right?  And, offensive talent seems easier to get than defensive talent as well.  It’s a little like the old Western Conference in the NBA.  Denver, Golden State, Phoenix, they were never going to win a title, but they’d put up 130 for you if you bought a ticket.  The good news for you is, if you don’t like the high scores, you can stick with the big schools, but if you want to watch football on a TUESDAY–you’ll need to adjust.  

Q:  So, the price of peanut butter is sky-rocketing.  I knew I should have planted my own bushes (trees? what does a peanut grow on?) this year.  Do you have a ceiling for peanut butter price, or are you just going to suck it up?  Alice Smuckers, Cape May, NJ.

A:  I got my first dose of sticker shock on the peanut butter a few days back.  Is that a “4” out front?  JAY-SUS.  That’s steep.  I never even thought about peanut butter being dependent on a crop of anything.  You kind of forget you need the damn peanuts.  I guess I should have seen this coming.  Former South Georgia Peanuts manager, Wally Backman, suggested, “I read the F*ucking Chart.”  Apparently, there are charts for this type of thing, but anyway, I imagine I’ll probably buy less peanut butter.  I don’t know why.  The price of meat fluctuates all the time and I still buy it.  Chicken is 4.99 a pound, 3.99 a pound, and I still just get the dang chicken.  I guess peanut butter doesn’t rank high enough on the list of necessities to merit me ignoring the cost.  

Q:  OK, so how inappropriate is this?  I’m at a restaurant the other day and they serve me up this giant plate.  The thing must be 14 inches in diameter.  My sandwich is on there, but then the toppings for the sandwich (lettuce/tomato) are also sitting on the plate taking up a huge amount of space.  Then there’s the damn pickle and finally just a tiny little window for my handful of fries.  If you are going to set a damn pizza pan in front of me, you can at least fill it with fries and not spread out the damn greenery all over the place.  I’m not a moron.  I see what’s going on here.  Dan Bunyan, Bismarck, ND.  

A:  Yeah, I mean one of the real moments of apprehension when you’re out to eat is that moment when you are waiting to see how many french fries you get and how good they look.  And, in general, I suppose the bigger the plate–the more fries you expect.  I honestly don’t know why sandwiches automatically come with the lettuce/tomato/onion.  Why not make those people ask for it?  I imagine at the end of the day the restaurant would waste less food that way.  Someone is always taking off the onion, or the tomato, or all three.  I also hate how the plate looks when you do construct your sandwich and there is a SEA of white plate between it and your fries.  I guess the only thing worse than huge plate/tiny fries serving is ordering the exact same thing as someone and seeing they got way more fries than you did.  That, is THE WORST.

Q:  So, who’s going to win this LSU/Alamaba game?  1 vs. 2.  Likely ticket to the National Title game.  It kind of seems like a big deal.  Tim Olney, Bristol, CT.  

A:  It’s a huge deal.  Even I know that.  Two college football questions for someone what almost never talks about college football.  I really have NO IDEA who is going to win this game.  I know I might actually watch some of it, which is a real leap for me, but I’m not sure I have a scouting report for you.  What can I tell you?  LSU is the #1 team in the country.  They’re on the road.  And, they’re 5-point underdogs.  This game feels like the classic 3-pt line for the home team, so to see it sitting at 5 points, especially when that team is the #2 squad–that makes me think that ‘Bama is going to bring it home.  If it was 6 points, I’d say it was a lock.  I honestly just hope the game lives up to expectations.  College football die-hards have been pointing to this game for months.  If it gets ugly, there will be a lot of disappointed faces around the salsa bowl.  

Q: What’s the more meaningless job, national morning show weatherman, or sideline reporter?  Does Al Roker really need to say, “Pretty dry in the East–Let’s see what’s happening in your neck of the woods.” And, when was the last time you got any good information from a sideline person?  Oh, the Colts are down 48-0 at halftime and Jim Caldwell says they need to make some defensive adjustments?  Thanks, Michelle Tafoya.  Kitten Conrad, Conshohocken, PA.  

A:  Wow, that’s a toss-up.  A total TOSS-UP.  I feel like back in the day people were less demanding about weather. Willard Scott could stick a smiley sun face on the east coast and a frowny-faced cloud on the west coast and everyone was all right with that.  Now, we want to know what it is going to be doing right in our own BACKYARD.  Obviously, you can’t do a weather report for every city in the country, so Al’s been reduced to a bit of a weather emcee.  It does seem a little pointless.  That said, I’m not sure what the point of a sideline reporter ever was.  Teams aren’t forthcoming with game plan information, with injury information, or anything like that, so what are they going to do?  I guess people like to see the coach talk even if he spits out a few cliches and pushes his way into the locker room.  If you had used Ken Rosenthal as your example, I’d be even more inclined to say reporters, but I think I’m going to go there anyway.  



Mid-Week Mailbag.

The Winner Won't Be the Only One in Tears at Kiawah.

Q:  I was looking at the PGA Tour schedule for 2012 and I looked at the major venues. Is it possible the PGA Championship has the most enticing venue this year? Bill Bolt Aston, PA

A: For the non-golfers out there, it’s important to note that the PGA would almost never be the most enticing venue, so for the question even to be posed is saying something.  I’m going to use your word, enticing, to eliminate Augusta National and Royal Lytham.  That leaves Kiawah’s Ocean Course facing off against Olympic Club’s Lake Course.  Two heavyweights.  The funny thing is, I have a pretty strong connection to both of these venues as a golf fan.  One of my earliest memories of watching golf was the ’91 Ryder Cup at Kiawah.  The tension, seen most easily on the faces of the players, was something I’ll never forget.  The Olympic Club last hosted a U.S. Open in 1998 when Lee Janzen became one of my least favorite players of all-time by beating Payne Stewart.  Payne deserved that one too, but that’s another post. Considering I don’t want to see highlights of Janzen’s win, and the fact that I can’t wait to see what the guys shoot at Kiawah, I’m going to give the PGA the nod.  Again, if you aren’t aware, the Ocean Course is one of the most difficult courses in the world.  Back in the balata days, the guys in the ’91 Ryder Cup were fighting the wind and winning matches by shooting well into the 70s.  They could set the course up so that 300 would win.  They won’t, but they could. Cannot wait for next August.  

Q: Is “Artisan” the worst word you can think of to describe a food?  I just saw that Dominos now has “Artisan Pizzas.”  I don’t know if I’m more insulted on behalf of the actual artisans out there, or if it’s just that every artisan loaf of bread I’ve ever gotten is about as forgiving as a bowling ball.  Fuzzy Dunlop, Baltimore, MD.

A: It’s not the worst word I can think of.  For example, there’s “diseased,” or “infested,” hopefully you get the idea and I don’t have to show off some of the stomach-turning adjectives in my vocabulary.  I know what you are saying, though. I think artisan is a word that people have latched onto to make shoddy products sound good.  I don’t think any bread maker worth a damn would attach the word, “artisan” to their work.  You can either make a good loaf or you ca’int. And, the ruse is going to be up after that first bite, regardless.  What bothers me most, though, is that it’s been attached to such mass-produced products.  Isn’t that contradictory?  I mean, Genuardi’s has their Artisan breads which obviously arrive as frozen dough balls and then are heated up in the bakery.  No one is being fooled.  

Q: I saw a guy on a landscaping crew in skinny jeans the other day.  Just, no.  Right?  Candace Conner, Rose Tree, PA.  

A:  You have a little groundskeeper fetish there Candace?  You like a burly guy in work jeans?  I don’t know what is the proper occasion to wear skinny jeans.  They look wildly uncomfortable.  Of course, the only reason I’d ever put a pair on would be if I needed to immediately stop circulation to the lower half of my body.  Then again, if my thighs were the same diameter as my wrists, maybe I’d wear them all the time and tell everyone to go pound sand.  In the end, though, this is a little bit like the Amish golf question.  Why do you care?  Let it go.  Maybe the kid was headed to $4 PBR night after work and didn’t want to change.  

Q: I played golf the other day and there wasn’t any water out on the course.  After the round, my H2O meter was reading about a gallon low.  I swerved into the closest Wawa for a giant bottle of water and started the drive home.  Forty-five minutes later I’m sitting in traffic and need to go to the bathroom pretty badly.  It was never a dire situation, but my question is, have you ever (as an adult) thought you were going to have an accidente in the old pants?  Jack Turkish, Plano, TX.

A: Actually, I have.  For my 21st birthday my father got me Flyers tickets.  He had a car take some of my friends and I to dinner and then down to the game.  Since I was newly 21, I had plenty of beer at dinner and sometime before we left, I broke the seal.  GRAVE ERROR.  Halfway to the arena I was hurting, and there is nothing like a drive to a sporting event to play with your mind.  HOW BAD IS THE TRAFFIC GOING TO BE?  About 15 minutes out, my friends were enjoying the ride and I was just staring out the window willing the miles to pass.  I made it, and I don’t know how close I was to giving everyone a story for life, but I never want to push it any further.  This actually brings to mind one of the bravest things I’ve ever seen done.  A friend was driving me down to a Phillies game a while back, and was facing a similar situation.  He pulled into that Sunoco on Pattison, and they politely told him to take a walk.  NO SERVICES!  So, he got back in the car and still made it to the stadium.  How you come back from the edge after thinking you can finally go is beyond me.  

Q:  What’s more embarrassing?  Tucking in a jersey or having your own name on the back?  Pat Peeters, Green Bay, WI.

Unfortunate Choice, Glee Boy.

A:  They seem like two different crimes to me.  Tucking in the jersey is a crime of ignorance.  Putting your own name on the back is a crime of vanity.  So, which is worse?  Well, the other day I saw a middle aged woman leaving a store.  She was wearing a Flyers jersey.  It wasn’t a Flyers game night and she didn’t look like your typical jersey wearer.  Then I saw it was a “1” jersey.  I was like, this chick is OLD SCHOOL.  A Bernie Parent jersey on a random Tuesday?  That’s impressive.  Then, she walked by and it didn’t say “PARENT,” on the back.  A little part of me DIED right there.  And, eventhough most jersey-tuckers are very sad, they usually are big fans.  They’re just clueless.  So, I’m going own name all the way.  You didn’t play goalie for the Flyers, lady. 

Q:  What’s more egregious, society’s love of crap reality-TV or their love of hideously awful, mainstream, pulpy, garbage novels?  Hy Brow, Vancouver.  

A:  Yikes, you must be a riot at parties, Hy.  I don’t know how you get too picky about TV.  You want credit because you are putting a dent in the sofa watching the History Channel instead of X-Factor?  Get over yourself.  The book thing hits a little bit closer to home.  I’m sure everyone who has ever even written the first sentence of their own novel or memoir or screenplay, or whatever has picked up a book and said, ‘How in god’s name did this get published?”  Then, they throw a temper tantrum and put the book in the fire.  I just finished a David Baldacci book (The Sixth Man) that I got in a airport and it was easily one of the 10 worst books I’ve ever finished.  The chapters were about 300 words.  AT MOST. But, I’m sure it sold about 9 million copies.   I guess I need to start working on dialog exchanges like, “Man, that was close,” Stallings deadpanned.  “Too close,” replied Hunter.  So, if you didn’t get it by now, I’m going with the books.

Q: Who was the coolest Ninja Turtle?  J.R. Judge, Manassas, VA.  

A:  I’m trying to remember exactly how much I liked the ninja turtles.  I know it was a lot, but I’ve really got to get back in that frame of mind.  I watched the first TMNT movie WAY too many times.  It’s embarrassing.  The coolest turtle in the movie was Michelangelo.  But, then there were the video games.  I played the original game for NES constantly, mostly because it took me forever to beat the underwater level with the electronic seaweed.  What sadist thought that up?  It was a great game, and so was TMNT 2: The Arcade Game.  Leo was clearly the most bad-ass in the video game. His weapon was cooler than Raphael’s and more effective than Mikey’s nunchucks.  It’s a tough question, but I think the only thing we know for sure is that the coolest turtle was not Donatello.  

Q:  Let’s be real here, what chance do the Eagles have against Dallas this week?  Mikey Eskin, Broomall, PA.  

A: There’s tons of ways to look at it.  The line (Eagles -3.5) says you should feel OK if you are a Birds fan.  Unfortunately, there are many questions.  Who is going to block DeMarcus Ware?  How will they stop the run?  How many TDs will Jason Witten pull in?  For the Cowboys, the game simply seems to come down to containing Vick and not turning the ball over.  That’s easier said than done for Dallas, though.  Romo LOVES to turn the ball over.  He’ll do it at any moment. It’s his thing.  It’s nice to point to the Eagles’ record after the bye-week and say it is a must-win for them, but Dallas really needs this game too.  Every win in the NFC feels like two the division is so bad.  Because they are coming off the bye, I expect one of the better efforts of the year, but the Birds will have to win a shootout.  I’d put their chances at exactly 48%.  


Mid-Week Mailbag.

The Enemy of Silence.

Mailbag is back again.  Three straight weeks now.  That’s called consistency.  I could be biased, but it seems like the questions get better each week.  To participate, or to have your problems solved, send me an email,

Q: Some people think the worst part of watching a game is listening to the announcers.  I agree that many of them are absolutely terrible, but even the decent ones are easy targets.  Instead of hating, though, I enjoy their idiocy.  Making fun of them gives me one more thing to do during a game.  What’s your stance on announcers, and what’s your biggest pet peeve with the guys calling the game?  Jack Tors, Paoli, PA.  

A: Announcers have it rough, and here in Philly guys like Wheels and Mike Quick get constantly killed by the fans.  I think fans take a lot of their tension and frustration in watching a game out on the guys calling the action.  If something is going wrong, it’s easy to pick apart the announcer, if your team is losing the national guy is obviously biased against you, that kind of thing.  As far as most Philly fans are concerned Joe Buck hates Philadelphia and every Versus announcer is rooting for the Flyers to go 0-82.  I definitely give the broadcasters plenty of grief.  It’s an ego thing to a certain extent, too.  I know more than this idiot!  I don’t want to take them completely off the hook, though, plenty of times they can be awful.  As far as a pet peeve goes, I’m going to go with what is fresh in my mind, and that’s dated references.  Last night I’m watching a bit of the ALCS and Tim McCarver compares Austin Jackson to Bobby Bonds. BOBBY BONDS!  Perhaps you know Bobby’s son, Barry?  Who also happens to be retired?  I don’t need Timmy dropping Lil Wayne lyrics, but Bobby Bonds retired 30 years ago.  

Q: Is there anything harder in the world than carving a pumpkin?  I’m being serious.  I think I’d have a better chance of removing my own spleen than making a reasonable looking Jack-O-Lantern.  Talula Vincent,  Schwenksville, PA.  

A:  Great question, Talula.  The last time I attempted to carve a pumpkin I was in college and was hacking away at the poor gourd with a butter knife that I had borrowed from the dining hall.  It’s also possible I was NOT sober.  So, I’d have to say, yes it is the most difficult task in the world.  Nothing is more frustrating than watching someone who is good at carving pumpkins.  You saw away at yours for 20 minutes just to make a square nose and some flashy bastard next to you has created a perfect likeness of Andy Reid or some such nonsense.  IT’S NOT FAIR.  I feel like there is a secret club of pumpkin carvers and they have all the tricks to making great Halloween keepsakes.  Like, don’t use butter knives. Or, never try for ears!  Those types of things that always trip up the common folk.  

Q: Why can you never pull off a fantasy football trade?  P. O’Houlihan,  Norman, OK.  

A:  The popular answer here is that everyone overvalues their players.  Dez Bryant?  Oh, he’s a precious TREASURE.  I don’t care if he has 35 points for the whole year.  Those 35 points are SPECIAL!  He’s an untapped oil well of potential, that Dez Bryant.  I’ll give him up for…LeSean McCoy AND Jason Witten.  Then the trade dies right there on the table. This does happen, I can’t deny it, but I’d also say fantasy football isn’t conducive to trading in general.  Look at real life trades.  What percentage are salary dumps? What percentage involve draft picks, or prospects?  It’s hard to do that in fantasy unless you are in some hardcore keeper league that trades picks.  Real life GMs overvalue their players too, so the blockbuster deal, in real-life or fantasy football is pretty much a pipe dream.  

Q:  I saw an Amish guy playing golf the other day.  Giant shirt, suspenders, beard–the whole 9.  He was riding a cart and had a cell phone.  What gives?  Dom Stickley, Lancaster, PA. 

A:  First, I’d wager you didn’t see an Amish guy playing golf.  You saw a guy playing golf who was dressed up like a farmer.  And, even if he was Amish, what’s the big deal?  I’ve never understood people’s desire to police the Amish.  You see a little Amish kid efforting down the street on a scooter and someone is always like, ARE THEY ALLOWED TO HAVE THAT?  Like it’s a nuclear powered submarine or something.  Do you really care if the Amish start using phones?  This technology has been around for over a century.  You also have a cell phone.  Don’t get jealous.  As long as they keep making delicious pie and sturdy sheds I say give them as much modern technology as they want.  The mules could use a break.

Q: So, Theo Epstein is headed to the Cubs.  If he manages to end their World Series drought, does that make him the greatest GM in sports history, considering he already ended the curse in Boston?  Vince, Chicago, IL.  

A: I’ve always thought that one of the best things you could do in sports would be to end the Chicago Cubs’ World Series drought.  If you carried the Cubs to a World Series you would have the cushiest life possible for all eternity in Chicago. Thirty years later you’d probably get standing ovations while you pumped gas, or while people fought over the right to pump your gas.  1908 was a very long time ago.  I always had a player in mind, though, when I thought of this scenario.  Someone like Mark Prior if he didn’t implode in the Bartman game and then blow out his arm.  But, perhaps Theo could be the guy who gets all the credit. I’m not sure he’ll find Chicago’s ownership as accommodating as Boston’s, though.  And, greatest GM ever?  Doubtful. I’d have to do some research, but he feels more like a mercenary, no?  Ask some Boston people what they think of him now.  Saddle them with a bunch of huge contracts and leave town?  Not so great. 

Q: What would last the longest /shortest in your fridge/freezer?  A  gallon of sweet tea, a 1/2 pound of sliced deli cheese, or a 1/2 gallon of ice cream.  I feel like a normal person would buy these for the week, but if something isn’t pre-portioned for me, I just tear through it with reckless abandon.  Cindy Goldschmidt, Green Bay, WI.

A: I happen to go to the grocery store almost every day.  People don’t understand this, think it’s insane.  But, the store is literally right across the street and also, it’s not really safe for me to have food in the apartment that I don’t want to eat that very day.  So, I certainly sympathize with this question.  All three of those items are delicious.  I could add on, but for the sake of time, I won’t.  Let’s break it down.  A half-gallon of ice cream has to last at least 4 days, right?  That’s 4 pints, which is a solid serving of ice cream–Even for me.  So, that’s out.  It’s down to the cheese and the tea. I’m probably eating two pieces of cheese every time I open the fridge and possibly taking a swig of tea as well.  Man, this is a tough call.  I’m thinking unless the cheese was crazy thin-sliced that would go first.  Then the tea, then shockingly enough, the ice cream.  

Q: I’ve never had a hole-in-one.  Every time I see one or hear about one the rage builds up inside me a little more.  I play a decent amount of golf.  I am not terrible.  I’ve holed out a couple of times on non-par 3s, but I’ve never even really scared the hole for an ace.  In case I’m approached by the Devil, what would you sacrifice to get that hole-in-one?  Never breaking 80 again?  20 yards off the tee?  Ugly beer cart girls for all eternity?  Chet Houseman, Elkton, MD.

A: Well Chet, let me try to put myself in the frame of mind of someone who has never had a hole-in-one…honestly, though, I feel like I can relate a little bit.  I had my hole-in-one when I was 15 years old.  In the time since, it’s highly likely I’ve played more rounds of golf than you have in your entire life, and I’ll just assume I’m a better ball-striker than you, so who’s really suffering here?  That’s right.  I AM.  But, getting back to your question, I’d certainly give up attractive cart girls.  Here’s a little tip: They ARE NOT going to hook up with you.  Past that, I’d be careful.  I wouldn’t give up breaking 80 for 100 hole-in-ones.  Of course, I’d rather hit 16 greens and shoot 75 than hit 8 and shoot 73.  And, don’t give up your distance, that will leave you soon enough.  If the Devil does show, I’d say have some faith in your own game.  That ace could be right around the corner.  

Q: Why does bread come in such large portions?  Feel like a sandwich?  How about a loaf?  Oh, you’re making fajitas?  How’s 20 tortillas sound?  Hamburgers?  8 bun minimum.  It’s total BS.  Do I need to adopt a family so I can stop eating mediocre microwaved-thawed rolls?  Kristen Pennypacker, Newark, DE.  

A: The short answer is yes, you do need to adopt a family.  I’ve gone down the frozen bread route before.  It’s a tragedy and a travesty.  And, just last week I thought to myself how much I wanted a grilled cheese, but I didn’t want to buy a whole loaf of bread.  If you freeze a loaf for grilled cheeses, it won’t kill you, but buns are another story.  There are two solutions I see, and one of them isn’t the Martin’s Potato Roll company selling 2-packs.  The first solution is, invite someone over for dinner, maybe two people, who knows–get wild.  The other solution is, deprive yourself.  You’re craving fajitas?  Well, lay off them for another month.  Then, just break the string and have them 3 nights in a row.  Problem solved.