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 hockey, Papa John, bagels, and more. 

Your letters:

Daniel:

Today, I was making pancakes for breakfast since it was my twin boys’ birthday. This brought to mind a running dispute I have with my wife and her mother. They make small pancakes, circles no larger than 4 or 5 inches each. I am an advocate of BIG pancakes. If I’m using the griddle, I make 2 large circles, 10-12 inches each. Why flip a dozen small pancakes when you can flip 2?

Plus, if I’m using a nonstick fry pan (preferred method), I fill the base of the pan with batter. This is the best way, as I can do the cool Dad pancake flip in front of the kids and dog — no spatula needed to cook those plate-sized cakes! I know I’m right, and you are on my side here... right?

I am. I like pancakes that are roughly the diameter of Neptune. One time I went to a joint called The Griddle Café in Los Angeles and the pancakes were so big that they spilled over the edge of the plate. And this wasn’t like a salad plate. This was a full dinner plate. I have never seen so much food on a single plate. It was like being served an entire wedding cake. I was even able to finish half of them, and I still felt like I was gonna have to be carted out of the diner in a fucking wheelbarrow. Eating them was like trying to carve a train tunnel out of a mountainside. I’m still in awe over how fucking big those pancakes were.

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This is why it kills me that my children prefer silver dollar pancakes. Not just small pancakes… TINY, bite-sized pancakes. Eggo makes tiny pancakes that they like, and so when I make pancakes from scratch (which I do often because I like feeling like Nicky Santoro), that’s the size they ask for. And I get it, to some degree. Fun-sized food is wonderful for gorging. But making small pancakes is a bitch. You have to dribble out a bunch of sad batter puddles in the pan, and then the exposed butter around each pancake gets all burned. Then you gotta wipe the pan clean for the next batch. And it’s no fun to flip a tiny pancake. They slip around and fall off the spatula and all that. I want a pancake that DOMINATES the spatula, so that I can flip it like a real man, or so I can do Daniel’s manly dad flip. Big pancakes are the proper, default pancakes. Small pancakes are an annoying novelty. They go right to the bottom of the diner menu alongside the Swedish pancakes.

By the way, I believe that every diner should be forced to adhere to a minimum size for tables, even tables for two. If you order pancakes as a side with your omelet, as any proud American does, what happens? YOU’RE FUCKED, that’s what. That table is suddenly overrun with plates and toast and glasses and butter pats and coffee cups and syrup dispensers and table tents and very small dishes with packets of creamer. There’s no room. I get very claustrophobic. I need a larger table in order to properly accommodate the gluttonous pile that I have ordered for myself. I need it to be the size of a conference room table.

Martin:

I’m a DC native and a lifelong Caps fan, so I’m clearly suffocating in the Metropolitan Area Media Bubble™ and need a (relative) outsider’s opinion: where does Caps/Pens fall on the best American sports rivalries list? Does it sniff the top 10? I can’t think of a game or series between the two in the Ovie/Sid era that hasn’t featured some sort of improbable save, controversial hit/play, unlikely comeback, or all of the above. It’s must watch TV for any sports fan, right? So where does it rank?

Yeah but it’s not an even rivalry. The Capitals have beaten the Penguins just once in the playoffs, way back in 1994. Every other time, the Penguins have been Death Incarnate for Washington’s title hopes. Things need to be a bit more even than that, otherwise you’re talking about a rivalry on par with Pats-Bills, where the Bills loathe the Pats while the Pats wouldn’t recognize the Bills even if they were standing next to one another at a cocktail party. Two Deadspin staffers—Dave McKenna and Barry Petchesky—swore this is the Capitals’ year, and I was like, “You two should know better.” So now, because my only rooting interest in is proving my own takes, I’m watching this series and kinda rooting for Pittsburgh even though I shouldn’t, because watching the Capitals lose is like watching a kid get shoved down on a playground.

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That said, I cannot recommend watching a Pens-Caps playoff series enough, even when you know how this usually ends, Crosby or no Crosby. You know it’s good sports when you’re watching it and you start spouting out every cliché in earnest. BOY THESE TWO TEAMS JUST DO NOT LIKE EACH OTHER! GETTIN’ CHIPPY OUT THERE! Every time I watch these two teams play, I turn into That Twitter Guy Who Discovered Hockey Is Lit. Playoff hockey already has a greater concentration of insane plays happening than in any other sport, and the Caps and Pens have found a way to top even that baseline. I could isolate one nutzoid sequence like this one and somehow there will be one even CRAZIER just five seconds later. I almost watched the whole game last night, I swear! I never do that normally. Of all the one-sided rivalries in history, this one surely belongs in the Top 73.

Devin:

How often do you think Papa John eats at Papa Johns?

All the time. We’re talking about a guy who has zero charisma and still forces his ad agency to put him in every fucking ad, so I can guarantee that he’s very much into his own product. I met Guy Fieri once (I genuinely liked him a lot!), and Guy’s favorite place to eat was at any one of his own restaurants. I promise you that Papa John—who is friends with Fieri—is the same way. Those guys are believers.

Speaking of Papa John, please watch the video of him berating Louisville officials, if you haven’t already. He’s like one of the boosters in Friday Night Lights, but even dumber and more unreasonable. That’s a good look at the REAL Papa John. IMMA HIT THIS NAIL ONE MORE TIME! The trustees can barely tolerate him. I can see the pain in their faces.

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Kevin:

Am I crazy for thinking basketball would be way more entertaining if teams could sub players on the fly, a la hockey?

Oh, I’m for any rule that cuts down on stoppages in play. Sub them on the fly, outlaw ALL timeouts, and have them play one-on-one during the halftime break. I demand more sports in my sports.

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The only problem with doing it in basketball would be the warmup pants. Without a whistled substitution, when am I supposed to dramatically take off my warmup pants for all to see and then walk up to the scorer’s table, showing off my erotic leg action to the crowd? So much sex appeal would be lost.

Dan:

A few years ago my wife and I moved from urban Wisconsin to rural, Appalachian North Carolina. At first, it was kind of fun to live someplace so backwards and different from the rest of the country. However, after two years of self-induced delusions about how much character we’ve been building living amongst abandoned trailers and middle school drop-outs, we’re sick of the racist, ignorant rednecks and want to move back to civilization. Are we weak-willed Yankees for abandoning ship? Is this a legitimate reason to run back home?

Of course it is. It’s perfectly natural to want to live in a community that shares your beliefs and values (I swear that’s not racial coding). So yeah, ditch those rednecks and come back to the city. There will be a tray of Moscow mules and a basket of artisanal pork rinds waiting for you.

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The problem, of course, is that it’s gonna cost you. Living in Trump country is dirt cheap. There’s a premium for living among your snooty, liberal brethren these days, and that’s not a good thing. The sort of self-imposed political isolation that Americans experience online—hanging out at news sites and message boards that tell you only what you wanna hear—can also manifest itself out in the physical world. This is a sweeping generalization, but I think it used to be a lot easier for liberals and conservatives to get along and live together. But now? Nah man, fuck that. Trump destroyed any chance of pleasantries. I have a hard time putting up a good face if I’m near some guy rocking a TRUMP THAT BITCH t-shirt with his jorts. I’d rather live in a fallout zone.

With that kind of willful separation, you have rednecks out in the sticks driving each other deeper into racial paranoia, and you have liberals huddling in cities, driving each other into smaller and smaller apartments and comforting themselves exclusively in their own snobbery and annual pilgrimages to Hamilton. And it’s only gonna get worse. Eventually, every city will have a wall, with armed hipsters stationed at turrets made of reclaimed beechwood, on guard to keep the Trump zombies out. I call the morning shift.

Sam:

When is it OK to request that a gathering be moved to a more convenient time for you? As opposed to just sucking it up and saying “sorry, can’t make it!” and missing out on the gathering. I’ve got a Benihana visit riding on this question.

It’s okay during the exploratory phase of the event planning. Like if your friend sends out an email that says, “Thinking about getting together on X date, does that work for everyone?” that’s when you can freely coordinate schedules. But if the friend has set a hard date and time for it already, it’s done. And if there’s already been an Evite sent out? Forget it. You can’t ask for it to be moved, no matter how badly you wanna go. Tough shit.

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Trust me, you don’t wanna be the guy who forces everyone else to adjust their plans around you. If you’re like, “Hey Dave, any chance you could move your wedding for me? I got a festival that weekend,” people will talk.

Carson:

I rolled in late to work the other day and discovered a bunch of leftover bagels and cream cheese. I grab a cinnamon dusted bagel and toss it in the toaster and assess my cream cheese options. Of course all the plain is gone, so I’m left with jalapeño or garlic and herb, neither of which are a great pairing with cinnamon. What’s your move here? Mismatched cream cheese or naked bagel?

Is there butter around? You could go find some butter in the office kitchen and make that work. Otherwise, I’d say just eat the bagel plain. I tried cream cheese and salmon on a blueberry bagel once, because there was no other bagel type around. It was a mistake.

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Actually, just abandon ship altogether. Now that we know a single bagel has 57 million carbs in every bite, you need to be more judicious in your bagel eating. I’m not fucking with old office bagels, or Lender’s bagels in a bag. I am gonna save myself for some fresh New York bagel the size of a fucking life raft, and then I’m gonna have some surly dude behind a counter slice the lox so thin that I can see through it, and then I’m gonna wait 10 minutes to pay the cashier because some old lady in the deli is pissed that her coffee isn’t hot enough, and then I’m gonna sit down with my annual bagel and make sweet love to it. That’s good bagel rationing.

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HALFTIME!

Patrick:

If the Star Wars films had been scored by a perfectly average and cromulent conductor from Omaha and not John Williams, would we enjoy the films as much as we do?

No. I think you could argue that without that John Williams score, the first movie isn’t a big hit and you never see another Star Wars movie made ever again. The score gave that whole movie legitimacy. That’s easy to say in hindsight because the music is so iconic now, but go back and watch the first one again. It’s aged a good deal, but that music still works wonders. It elevates the characters, and the effects, and everything else. Score it to polka music and it would be fucking ridiculous.

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When they were making Star Wars, there were people like Harrison Ford working on it who were concerned that they were making a shitty space opera (actually, Ford still probably thinks of it that way). When you’re dealing with sci-fi and fantasy, it’s very very easy to slip and end up making something that feels childish and absurd. I know this because I’ve watched a Zack Snyder movie. Everything has to hit just right, otherwise the willingness of the viewer to suspend his or her disbelief vanishes. So that John Williams score is not only great on its own merit, but it also gives the viewer confidence. You are NOT watching a shitty space opera. You are not watching something cheap and ridiculous. You are watching a real movie made by real professionals who care about the finer details, like having an opening crawl ghostwritten by Brian De Palma. That kind of shit is important. It’s what separates the good movies from the direct-to-video garbage that used to line the shelves at Blockbuster.

Chris:

At what point does soup become stew? Is there a level of viscosity it must reach? I’ve had this discussion with a truly unnecessary number of people and I’ve decided that the soup/stew line is a 1:1 ratio of ingredients to broth. So if it has more broth than ingredients, it’s soup. More ingredients than broth, stew. This seems right to me but MANY people disagree, often saying that certain liquid-based foods can’t ever be soup, like if contains beef it has to be stew or something. Why can’t I have beef soup?

No, it can be based on ratio, because what if you just take a bowl of soup and drain it? That’s not stew. That’s just a sad pile of chicken and old celery. And whoever thinks beef soup can’t exist are lunatics. The definition has to be viscosity based. The “broth” in stew isn’t really a broth at all. It’s more of a gravy that binds the hunks of meat and fat together in glorious harmony. That’s the kind of stew that makes me wanna cry out GUMBO GUMBO GUMBO and then give the bowl a rimjob.

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Here’s a test for you: Take a wooden spoon and stick it down into the pot. If the spoon stands standing straight up when you let go, that’s a stew. If it falls over, that’s soup. And if it falls over kinda slowly, that’s chowder.

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Chris:

Why is ice out of my freezer so much worse than the ice I buy in bags at the grocery store? The grocery store ice is smoother and seems to stay frozen longer. I have debated this at length - am I getting crappy water at home?

Well, the ice from the grocery store stays frozen longer because it’s in a two-ton brick of ice. Surrounding ice with ice tends to help keep it cool.

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Also, the industrial ice you get from the store probably comes from a superior icemaking machine. You don’t need me to tell you that your home icemaker is shit. FACT: Every icemaker in every fridge breaks within two months of purchase. And the ice you do get from it is cloudy and limp. This is the reason that restaurants now routinely splurge for fancy icemakers that cost $25,000 and can shit out a perfect atomic sphere of crystal clear ice to put in a $17 Old Fashioned. So if you want the good stuff for a party, you have little choice but to surrender to BIG ICE and either buy a nice icemaker or go to the store and lug a couple of bags home.

Rob:

Is it possible to give a movie monologue in real life? If you’re having a serious conversation or answering a question and you are just able to come up with an answer that is thorough, elegant and covers all the topics well and succinctly - knowing that you did this totally off the cuff and have no idea where the words came from and no one interrupts your points at all because it’s a good answer. I find this may be possible on the cusp of being drunk - it also might be the whisky.

Yes! It’s rare, but it can happen, usually during some sort of intramural fraternity sporting competition. OUT ON THAT FIELD, WE ARE FUCKING GODS. It’s not easy to pull off. Most of the time, you will daydream about cooking up an incredible speech that leaves everyone with their dicks hard and their jaws agape. But then the speech is ruined by someone else interrupting, or by a steam train passing by, or by your own mental block, or by Kathleen telling you to quit while you’re ahead, because you’re still not getting back together. It never happens as often as some shitty Aaron Sorkin movie would suggest.

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But sometimes, the heavens smile upon you, and you find yourself with a platform and a handful of people listening, and you nail it. Maybe it’s during a wedding, or a funeral, or when you’re so unimaginably stoned that you don’t even realize that you’re being coherent. But by God, you will have your monologue at some point. John Williams should be hired to score one for everybody.

Zak:

If all the smartest minds in the world worked in an organized fashion with unlimited funding, could they eventually come up with time travel or teleportation?

No, because the kind of time travel and/or teleportation you and I want—i.e. the literal disappearance and reappearance of solid matter, or the ability to jump in a fancy sports car and go hang out in the past—is not physically possible. You could get all those brilliant minds together and they would probably produce a “breakthrough” that is MINDBLOWING to them and kind of a letdown to you. “Great news, everyone! We managed to send a quark that is one millionth the size of an atom back in time .03 seconds! DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE IMPLICATIONS OF THIS?!” Science is one big letdown, man.

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Also, if I were gonna have a crack team of scientists tackle anything, it would be either the global energy crisis (boring) or aliens (much more awesome). Time travel will just fuck us all up anyway.

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Adam:

This weekend, my wife and I stopped at a brewery, and I drank two one-liter mugs of beer. Afterwards she was appalled that I claimed to only have two beers, she said it’s more because of the volume. My thought is in the literal sense I only had two beers, but also, that was the serving size, so again, two beers. She thinks it should be a count of four or so. Who is right?

I say TWO BEERS. So what if they were big beers? No one said size had to factor in. Besides, every man lies about his alcohol consumption, so you may as well get used to it. In fact, you should insist that you only had one beer. Your wife will react with equal parts shock and disgust, but the key is to KEEP LYING through it. Just stick to your brazen, horrible lies, and eventually she’ll get worn down and accept that your poorly hidden alcoholism is the new normal, and that 1 beer + 1 beer = 1 beer. HOORAY AMERICA!

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Dingus:

What is the most annoying preparation step to have in a recipe? My first thought was mincing garlic. Not only do you have to peel the little bastards, then you have to mince the tiny fuckers without slicing off the tip of your finger. Also, all recipes involve garlic, and no recipe ever calls for less than like 5 cloves of garlic. A close second would be anything involving a mortar and pestle.

I hate chopping anything, but that’s not a dealbreaker when it comes to recipes. There are certain recipes that go directly into the trash if they include some horribly arduous step like straining through a cheesecloth, or deep frying, or gutting and cleaning a whole fish, or using a candy thermometer, or pretty much any step of this recipe. When I know that the labor involved in the recipe is so arduous that it would be both better and easier to eat it at a restaurant, I’m out. There’s no fucking way I can make ramen better than some nice ramen joint, nor do I care to try.

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Also, never bake. It’s one thing to make chocolate chip cookies or birthday cake out of the Duncan Hines box. But, like, bread? Fuck that. I’m not spending all day kneading sticky dough and watching yeast ferment.

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Nathaniel:

Is it true that white people don’t play music when they hook up/have sex? I don’t like to generalize but all of my friends put music on if possible (we’re black). My white friends at the liberal arts school I went to always made comments about it, and a girl I hooked up with even asked me why I always play music. I couldn’t even come up with answer.

We play music! We play both Dave Matthews AND reggae! Your choice, ladies!

I will say though that, personally speaking, the use of background music fades over time. I got the dog barking downstairs and the kids out of the house for 10 minutes in between soccer practices. I don’t have time to find the perfect Otis Redding track. I need this DONE.

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Email of the week!

Rick:

Several years back my brother was stationed in Hawaii and I took my then girlfriend out with me to visit him. One day he had to work so he was kind enough to let us borrow his ride. We knocked out some of the obvious stuff (Waikiki, Diamond Head, etc.), after which we decided we’d be mildly adventurous by way of driving and exploring the less touristy southeastern part of Oahu.

Not too long after we had effectively left civilization I felt the unmistakable rumble of a spam burger rising from the depths of my intestines to complete its gloriously disgusting second act. I put forth my best effort at ignoring the looming intestinal crisis and instead tried to push on, enjoying the beautiful scenery and a no-commitment day in Hawaii.

The fiendish bubble guts had different plans for me tough. (At this point I should also note that this was long enough ago that smartphones weren’t ubiquitous and I didn’t have the luxury of Googling the serviceable bathroom.) After another mile or two I realized my options were to pull off somewhere to soil myself, in a car, an hour+ from my nearest clothes, with my fairly new ladyfriend in the car. Pull off somewhere it was.

Fortunately just as I realized the magnitude of the situation we happened across a park. I told the girlfriend I’d be back in a minute, and did a duck walk-run combination that I still assert would win a double-gold at the Olympics. I ran into the cool waters of the Pacific and as soon as I got into deep enough water I ripped down my bathing suit and released a torrent of fecal matter that would make the Deepwater Horizon blush.

It was then and there that I realized that the one downside to crystal clear water was that everyone could see everything, and in my euphoric bowel emptying I somehow didn’t notice that my girlfriend and two other people had materialized on the otherwise empty park beach. The ladyfriend was gesticulating furiously and I assumed she was motioning me back to shore to educate me on the environmental hate crime I had just committed.

I washed up as best I could, pulled the board shorts back up, and made my way back to shore. As I did I noticed that the other figures on the beach appeared to be elderly, ethnically Asian, and taking a ton of pictures. As is human nature I assumed the worst - that some kindly foreign tourists had stumbled upon a deserted beach in paradise and were now documenting how I blew an intestinal seal and contaminated paradise.

It was only upon coming fully ashore that I realized the elderly Japanese couple wasn’t worried about the cloud I had just left in the ocean. My girlfriend brought me in close and informed me that, unbeknownst to us, we had pulled off the road at a deserted, beautiful, public beach that also happened to be right next to the Magnum P.I. house.

I’m fairly confident that neither my wife nor the kindly Japanese tourists realized that I was in the middle of desecrating paradise when they bridged a cultural, age, and language barrier to bond over their shared love of Magnum P.I.