Illustration by Sam Woolley

Time for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. Today, we’re talking wipers, shitty ads, cowardly dogs, and more. 

Your letters:

Steve:

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My wife shuts it down pretty early on weekends. I tend to stay up watching movies, listening to music, or cooking. Is it acceptable to get drunk at home, solo, during these missions? I’m not talking puking drunk... but I have no problem having a few drinks to the point where I’m in no shape to drive.

Yeah, of course it’s acceptable. Some of the best dad nights come when everyone else is asleep and you’re free to drink a six-pack and listen to CRANK SOME TUNEZ. I’m talkin’ Cheap Trick, ELO, maybe even a little Steppenwolf. Awwwwww shit yeah now this house is a ROCKIN’! The freedom is the real buzz. You know what I also do sometimes when it’s after dark and no one else is awake? I dance. That’s right. I dance all over the house. I’M A MANIAC… MANNNNNNNNNIAC. It’s a blast.

The urge to drink alone grows as you get older, because there’s an enormous appeal in A) Drinking and B) Not having to talk to anyone and C) Not having to spend money on bars/cabs and D) Not even having to wear pants.

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BUT…

I’ll be honest and tell you that I indulge in drinking alone far too often, especially during any busy sports season (like right now). I’ll put the game on mute, slip on some headphones, and then drink more Old Overholt than is acceptable for a man without company. It’s fun to imbibe to your heart’s content, but I got a strong feeling this is how I end up slipping and becoming one of those sad old dudes who has his own designated stool at the TGI Friday’s. It’s probably best to set some limits for yourself when drinking alone (and drinking in general, but alone too). I should really make a point of switching over to tea after the first eight or nine cocktails. It’s not like tea can stop me from unleashing the sick dance moves.

Hannah:

Over the course of an average week, which happens more often:

1) Your children follow a command that you have given them, or,

2) You follow a command that your children have given to you?

I wanna say it’s the former, but that’s probably me being delusional. There are times when my kids will boss me around and I’ll just agree because I’m on autopilot, and then I stop and have an epiphany and go, “Hey wait a second! I’M NOT YOUR FUCKING BUTLER!” This happens, like, once a week, usually when the youngest kid is bitching at me to change the channel. Then I’m like, “Listen buddy, I am the dad here. You do what I say, and not the other way around. I could END YOU any time I want to, dammit.” Then the kid holds up his juice glass and I dutifully refill it like the indentured servant that I am.

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There’s also the fact that repeated commands skew the math here. When I tell my kid to do something, I don’t just tell them once. My oldest kid had to make a caterpillar out of marshmallows for his homework last week and it took days of hectoring him just to get him to sit down and stick some toothpicks into a pile of Jet-Puffeds (and not eat any). So for every one command I obey at the behest of my kid, there is a single command of mine that they will ignore the first 20 times before finally, and grudgingly, agreeing. [Borat voice] GREAT SUCCESS!

This, obviously, is no way to raise kids. Every parenting book on Earth tells you to NOT repeat commands to your kids. And I really do try to avoid situations where I’m just nagging them to death. You want to put the kids in a position to succeed, and you want them to enjoy their work instead of being mercilessly browbeaten into it. Sometimes I have good runs where I phrase everything just right and the kids magically go along with what I say.

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But then, naturally, I will slip back into bad habits, because it’s often much easier to pester your kid, or do things for them, than to muster the herculean patience required to make them self-reliant. I’ll try to play it cool and be like, “Please clean your room,” and then not say anything else. And then, when they still haven’t done it nine hours later, I have visible smoke coming out of nostrils. I gotta get better. I gotta adhere to the rules of getting kids to listen, which are:

  1. Be consistent.
  2. Let your kid mess up if they’re hellbent on messing up.
  3. Remember that, 90 percent of the time, the best parenting is no parenting at all
  4. Never ask a kid to do anything because they’ll say no; just tell them what you want.
  5. Keep the words to a minimum because they stop listening after seven seconds.
  6. When all else fails, BRIBE THE FUCKERS.

Adam:

If either, do you prefer a brave dog or a cowardly dog? I say cowardly. My dog snuggles between​ my wife and I and shakes in our bed during storms. It’s heart-meltingly cute.

You want a brave dog, and the reason why is because a cowardly dog is a frightened dog. You know what happens when a dog gets frightened, don’t you? That’s right: They go psycho on you. They bark and yelp and bite and whine and refuse to fucking walk when you need them to walk. (God, I hate it when the dog won’t walk.) When we first got our dog, I let him hang out on my lap and generally spoiled him, and that made his ass SOFT, to the point where he got real ornery if we asked anything of him. It’s bad to have a dog that thinks it’s a cat.

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No one wants some asshole alpha dog who puffs his chest and barks at every other dog in the hood, but those dogs are secretly cowards, too. Those dogs will get real loud and brag about making huge real estate deals. Fuck ‘em. What you want is a dog who is confident enough to NOT feel the need to bark at everyone, and to not need your attention every second of the day. You want a dog that is secure in his doghood. We had to hire a trainer for our soft, MILLENNIAL dog. The trainer taught the dog to walk beside him, with the leash slack instead of us always having to tug on it. And by the time the training session was over, that little dog was BRIMMING with confidence. He looked like he was busting into the party with a fresh keg. “ANYONE CALL FOR BEER?! LET’S FUCKING DO THIS.” Now that’s a good dog.

Russell:

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Throw Paul McCartney down on Pennsylvania Avenue unaccompanied. Based on his celebrity alone, do you think he can talk his way into the White House? If so, how far inside can he get, assuming his goal is the Oval Office?

If Trump is home, he makes it all the way inside. The most important thing in Trump’s life is his fame. Being around/near other famous people only helps to amplify that fame. So all McCartney has to do is show up near the White House (they just closed off the pedestrian thoroughfare that lets you get super close to it… BOOOOO) and say, “’Ello there, luv. I’m Sir Pool McCahtney, uv The Bea-Ulls!” And even if the guard tells him to fuck off, Paul can just post a photo of himself trying to get inside to his Instagram. “LOL. Fancy me trying to get into the White House, innit?!”

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Then TV will pick up the post, broadcast it, and Trump will see it because Trump watches cable news and binges on chicken tenders all day long. BOOM! Instant access for Sir Paul. Trump would give him the full tour, then take a photo, and then brag about hanging with McCartney on Twitter. “Paul McCartney (famous music person) a very good friend of mine! Other people not as good/loyal friends of his! Time to unleash airborne botulin bacteria on rest of England?”

Alex:

I also have a bad back (I’m 30, fuck me). What are the worst things to do with a bad back that good back people are ignorant of? Here’s my list:

Sneezing in a non-braced position. I try to sneeze standing with my hands on my knees. Anything else is playing with fire.

Crunches. I did crunches once, it did nothing for my abs, but my lower back felt like a rusty hinge after.

Laying on a soft couch where your ass sinks in a bit too far. *gets up* Oh god, I’m dying.

Sitting in chairs. You people with functioning spines do not understand the misery you can inflict on the rest of us with bad chairs. This is why I always gotta ask to sit in the front seat of an Uber, even if the driver looks at me funny for it. Ever go to a restaurant and they only have those chairs with the wicker bottoms that sink if a fucking fly lands on them? Those are torture. Those should be outlawed. New York City is nothing but an island full of shitty chairs. My friend took me to a pizza joint once that only had stools to sit on, and I nearly murdered him. EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD SHOULD BE DESIGNED FOR MY COMFORT AND MINE ALONE.

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Also, wearing shoes is a big problem. I wear Merrell sneakers. They are dad shoes. I have had friends literally go WHAT ARE THOSE??? when I wear them. Do you think I like wearing those goddamn things? No. I do not. But I have no choice because every other shoe manufacturer outside of New Balance and Merrell wants to kill you. Sometimes I’ll see people walking around in sandals that have a sole that’s a millimeter thick and I start to ACHE. Have fun developing long term scoliosis, jackass!!! When it comes to chairs and shoes, I’m the princess and the pea. The slightest variation could cause a spinal earthquake inside my body.

Sneezing also bad because there’s very little you can do to prevent a full body spasm. All I can do is brace for impact, like I’m about to get shot. NOT IN THE FACE YO!

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Sean:

How hard does it need to rain before you’ll switch on the wipers? Are there times that you see this perfect array of perfectly clear drops on the window and just say “Yeah. This is ok.”? And just say fuck it for like 30 minutes on the highway?

There are definitely times when I’ve pulled that because I have inadequate wiper blades that I am too cheap/lazy to have replaced. So I have to weigh whether or not turning on the wipers will impede my visibility MORE than the drops currently gathering on the windshield. If you’ve ever had bad wipers, you know that they don’t wipe the water away so much as smear it in new and unexpected patterns. So if it’s just intermittent rain, or some punk-ass mist, I leave the wipers off, at which point my wife will lean over and turn them on herself, which is an egregious violation of car protocol. Mutinous, even. She should be put in the brig.

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Anyway, feel free to be a rebel and leave the wipers off if you don’t think it’s worth the trouble. Frankly, I think 40 percent of all car accidents happen because people get too distracted by trying to get the intermittent setting jusssssst right.

Andrew:

If Back to the Future were rebooted for 2017, and Marty went back 15 or 20 years, how would this exchange end?

Dr. Emmett Brown: Then tell me, future boy, who’s President of the United States in 2017?

Marty McFly: Donald Trump.

Dr. Emmett Brown: Donald Trump? The _____________?

[chuckles in disbelief]

If you go by the original movie, Marty actually traveled back three decades. So if the reboot was 100 percent faithful to the original, that would put him in 1987. That’s the same year The Art of the Deal came out, which probably represents the height of Trump’s credibility as a businessman (he also hadn’t gone through his first divorce by then).

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I mean, I remember being a kid and thinking Donald Trump was the richest man on Earth. Billy Crystal used to do a bit where he pretended to be Trump walking around Manhattan and pointing out which buildings were his and which weren’t. I totally remember all of that. I was like OH WOW THAT GUY LIVES LARGE! Eleven-year-old me was very impressed. In fact, Trump’s whole life seems to be designed around actions would seriously impress any fifth grader.

Anyway, that’s my long and convoluted way of saying Doc Brown’s answer would be, “Donald Trump? The condo salesman?” Frankly, that’s a less insulting and less shocked response than my ongoing, present day reaction to the fact that Trump now runs everything. Doc could probably talk himself into 1987 Trump being a legit contender.

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HALFTIME!

Erica:

What is the line of demarcation for Fast Food? Do you consider anywhere that there is no server waiting on you Fast Food? I contend that Fast Food will have a drive thru - McDonalds, Wendys, Arbys, Dunkin. And then there is a separate category (Fast Casual??) for places like Chipotle, Corner Bakery, Five Guys. Those places, your wait to get your food could be 10 min, it’s made with (supposedly) better ingredients, and it’s way more expensive.

To me, it’s fast food if the food isn’t made to order. That means McDonald’s, Burger King, Popeyes, etc. You place your order, and then they grab your shit from under the heat lamp and throw it at you. That’s different from a joint like Five Guys, where you have to wait three agonizing minutes while the dude loads up your burger with sautéed onions and triple bacon.

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More important, it’s fast food if it’s shit. That doesn’t mean the food is BAD. Like, Popeye’s is the greatest food on Earth and obviously much better than McDonalds. But I don’t know where that chicken comes from, man. It’s probably sourced from the same radioactive mutant chicken farm that all your mass-produced chicken comes from (the company website is very high on something called Controlled Atmosphere Killing, or CAK for short). If eating at your place gives me the distinct impression that I’m slowly killing myself, that’s fast food. If your place tricks me into believing that I’m eating healthy, at a restaurant that sources all of its products directly from Farmer Jethro’s Bovine Ranch And Cow Spa, that’s one step above fast food. That’s Shake Shack.

BTW, the restaurant industry now tends to lump all of those restaurants together into something called the Quick Serve category. I’m sure McDonald’s does nothing to discourage that. Everything about McDonald’s these days is about getting you to believe they do shit the same way as Five Guys or Starbucks when it’s still the same awful mealworm burger you’ve been eating there since 1984.

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Ian:

How much money makes up for a long commute to work? Let’s say you’ve got a career type job that you enjoy as much as anyone can enjoy a job. You live close enough to walk to work, or maybe a five minute drive. You earn enough to live and be alright, but you’re not breaking the bank or anything. How much of an increase in salary would it take to accept a similar job but with a 30-45 minute commute in city traffic?

Well it would have to be enough of a raise to pay for your gas and mileage, plus whatever intangible punitive damages you seek for being stuck in traffic on top of that. I think the average person would change jobs and take the extended commute if the net pay were, like, 25 percent more than what they currently take home. Given how expensive life in America can be, there’s not much of a choice if you get that kind of offer. Paying for day care’s a bitch.

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In fact, the scourge of long commutes is a huge societal problem. Most people can’t afford to live near work anymore. It’s one thing when people choose to live out in the sticks because they want some breathing room. (When I lived in NYC, I worked with people who commuted in from Pennsylvania, which was insane to me). But most cities are now hideously expensive, which means that lower-income workers are increasingly pushed further out of town, so you get the double whammy of shit pay AND shit commute. And when you spend all that time commuting, there’s no time left for you to rest, or hang out with your family, or even take on a side project. It’s an enormous, tangible drain on your creativity and future prospects. That commute essentially destroys your chances of moving up in the world, and it has a ripple effect on your family and the community at large.

This is why it’s TOTAL bullshit that the flying car hasn’t been invented yet. All these people stuck in their fucking cars and you’ve got Silicon Valley drooling over cold-pressed juice. What a bunch of underachieving shitbags.

Sam:

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You worked in advertising. How did a stupendously bad idea such as the Kendall Jenner Pepsi commercial end up getting made? Who signed off along the way for this shit idea to become a shit sausage?

Oh, that happens all the time in advertising. You’ve got clients who have shitty taste, account managers who speak only in Rovellisms, and creatives who think they fart greatness. It takes NOTHING to slip a bad idea through that gauntlet, especially one as grandiose as that Pepsi ad. They got Kendall Jenner on board. (Account person: “We bagged an influencer!”) They got her handing a Pepsi to a cop at the end of the spot. (Client: “Our product solved the problem!”) And they got some social awareness going on. (Creatives: “We’re edgy, and we get to shoot in Thailand!”) The ad managed to hit all the makers needed to satisfy its creators without it ever having to be, you know, good.

I can also tell you that working in advertising drastically lowers your standards. Like, I was just happy if a TV ad got approved. And if I got to put a joke in the ad? HEAVEN. You may as well have told me I was making Godfather IV. The joke didn’t even have to be good. I was just so excited I would be making an ad with a joke in it that it could have been the shittiest, dumb joke ever (and it usually was). Then we’d shoot it and all find the ad HILARIOUS. We’d be laughing out loud at every rough cut. Not only were we blind with delirium, but we were selling something, you know? And the best way to sell something to someone is if you sell it to yourself first. That’s how the Jenner ad got made. That’s also how Dove ended up making those stupid body-type bottles that look like a Clickhole post:

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Advertising has a lot of people with a lot of blind spots.

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Joseph:

I’m headed to Cincinnati on Tuesday (today if this is printed in the Mailbag) and the question is, should I even attempt to buy a small helping of what I admittedly assume is a noxious mess they call Skyline Chili, just so I can ridicule from experience? Or just point and laugh at it like the majority of non-Cinci natives without firsthand knowledge? I mean, I’ve at least had the slop-fest that is a Primanti Brothers sandwich, so when I make fun of it at least I know what I’m talking about.

Oh, I would definitely try it. I know we’ve had our fun with Skyline here, but I would absolutely get drunk and house a plate of chili mac diarrhea. They put cinnamon in it, is that right? That’s fucked up, but that wouldn’t stop me from chowing down. Bad chili is still chili. I bet their Coneys are perfectly acceptable. Hand me a bib and I’ll sit down with Peter King and a six-pack of Allagash to feast on that garbage. What else is there to eat in Cincinnati anyway? It’s not like I’m missing out on that city’s burgeoning sushi scene. You either eat the sewage pasta, or you starve.

Lucas:

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One of my friends just had their baby, 1.5 months early. A group of us that are close to them decided to do some landscaping and cleaning for them, to get ready for when the baby would be home. My buddy and I spent about nine hours raking/mowing/leaf-blowing, along with packing all the shit into biodegradable lawn bags. It’s been over a week since we did this for them, and my buddy has been home for about four days. His wife just got home yesterday, the baby is still in the hospital for testing and light therapy, etc. When is the appropriate time to go Larry David and ask for a thank you, or subtly mention it when I see them for his baby shower (a diapers and beer party for him)? One more week without a thank you for busting my ass and my jimmies will be majorly rustled.

If the baby is still in the hospital, you have to let the parents off the hook. They’re probably so wracked with fatigue and worry that they didn’t even notice the grass. When my kid was in the NICU, I don’t think I even knew my name. It was like being concussed all day long. My guess is that once the baby is home, your friends will finally be able to relax and thank all the people they need to thank. But you can’t air your grievances while the baby is still in the NICU under a heat lamp.

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Speaking of premature babies, I was completely gutted by the Jimmy Kimmel monologue last week. And I’m still shocked, even though I shouldn’t be, by some of the contrarian takes that came from that monologue, like this one:

I am a professional take merchant (accept no substitutes), and I understand that every take on the internet requires an equal and opposite take, no matter how asinine that contrarian take may be. But goddamn, man. The guy’s kid just had open heart surgery. The fuck is wrong with people? We hot takers live by a CODE, dammit. The Washington Times is in clear violation of the unwritten rules of issuing takes.

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Omar:

Square or rounded plates, who you got? I always feel that square dishes can hold more food than rounded.

It’s not even about holding food. It’s about table real estate. The standard dining setup—with round plates served on a square or rectangular table, is monstrously inefficient, especially in the age of small plates. You sit down at some fancy joint and suddenly you’re bombarded with ninety plates, some of which end up hanging off the edge of the table like Tom at the end of Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels. That is not a relaxing dining experience. I want more square plates, maybe even a bento box. Ever eat a bento box? It’s so much fun. It’s like I’m eating out of a chemistry set.

Email of the week!

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Michael:

What is the most satisfying thing to remove from your own body (not counting semen)? Think of things like splinters, huge turds (is taking a dump is a form or removal or expulsion?) or boogers that are high up and causing tension headaches etc. For me it’s gotta be ingrown hairs. I will use my phone torch and dig down an inch under that painful bump to find that fucker. I like to think I’m a WW1 army doctor performing some crude form of surgery in the field and when I finally reach that bastard hair, I will hoist it up for the world (see wife) to admire even though no one ever has been impressed by my achievement.

Splinter!