Illustration by Sam Woolley

Time for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. Today, we’re covering Shel Silverstein, NHL game delays, soup inflation, and more.

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Your letters:

Aaron:

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Can I get a cracker ranking? Here’s mine:

1) butter (club, ritz)

2) oyster/saltine

3) graham

4) animal

5) cheese crackers (cheezit, goldfish)

6) witness my own beheading

7) rice crackers

Hey, I like rice crackers, you son of a BITCH! Also, I think that you lumped too many different crackers together. Goldfish are their own thing. A Cheez-It is TOTALLY different, especially if you have a seasoned cracker palate as I do. TRUE CRACKER FANS KNOW WHAT I MEAN.

Anyway, I thought we had ranked crackers here before, but I appear to have been mistaken. Well, it’s unlike this site to let such an obvious and pointless listicle slip by. So I’m gonna give you my rankings right now. Please note that I already see you typing a joke about Larry The Cable Guy belonging in these rankings. You’re very clever. Let’s go:

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  1. Wheat thins. To me, the ideal cracker is one that pairs well with lots of different shit, but ALSO tastes perfectly good on its own. That’s a Wheat Thin. There’s nothing BIG CRACKER loves more than to sell you on a cracker’s versatility, so that they take up a greater market share of your overall gluttony. “Stack ‘em! Dip ‘em! Spread ‘em! DRY HUMP ‘EM!” In the case of Wheat Thins, the ads are true. I can eat them with cheese, or I can forgo decorum and just dump a box directly into my feedhole.
  2. Goldfish. They’re lovely, but you can’t dip them in anything. If I ever see someone try to put a slice of pepperjack onto a single Goldfish, I will call the police.
  3. Graham. These masturbation antidotes probably belong at No. 1 on this shit if only for graham cracker crusts and S’mores. It’s also one of the only crackers that is somehow sweet but defies being labeled a cookie. I salute its refusal to abide by genre stereotypes. By the way, graham crackers are made with graham flour, which seems to have NO other use in the culinary world. I promise you that, somewhere, there is a fancy pants chef who is coating lamb chops with it. IT DRAWS OUT THE GAMEY FLAVORS.
  4. Everything flatbread. It’s a cracker with eight pounds of bagel seasoning on it. I approve.
  5. Triscuit. Lotta people don’t like Triscuits but I am abnormally drawn to shredded wheat products for reasons that escape me. It’s like Big League Chew, only WHEAT. I can’t resist. Your average Triscuit has 900,000 grams of partially hydrogenated soybean oil in it, and its flavor and texture overpowers everything else in your mouth, but they’re still delicious.
  6. Oyster. I like saltines, but you have to crumble them if you want to eat them in your soup (which I do). With oyster crackers, I just dump the bag right into the soup. And then I dump another bag. And then another. By the time I’m done, there’s no liquid left in the bowl. It’s a bunch of wet cracker mush. I love it. Tastes like carbs.
  7. Stoned Wheat Thin. There are a lot of different fancy pants rich person crackers that people set out with fine cheeses and sliced pears, but this is the best one. Very sturdy.
  8. Cheez-Its.
  9. Melba rounds. These are also very sturdy, which is good when I want to drag a cracker through some sort of cream cheese dip. I want a pound of dip on the cracker, and not every cracker is up to the task. The cruel irony is that, somehow, every box of melba rounds has half of its content already pulverized. They must use the boxes to protect other fragile items in the shipping container.
  10. Saltines. Official re-introductory food for anyone coming out of a bout of the stomach flu. I think I’ve vomited more saltines than I’ve consumed. I know that isn’t physically possible, but I swear the devil plants an extra sleeve of them inside you when it turns out you aren’t quite ready for solid foods yet.
  11. Animal. They changed the recipe to Barnum’s Animals. They used to taste like straight-up shortbread and now they taste like ASS. It’s like they swiped out the Zoo animal crackers from your local vending machine and didn’t think anyone would notice. Well I did. WHAT IS PRESIDENT TRUMP DOING ABOUT THIS?! Golfing on the job yet again, are ya Tubby?
  12. Pretzel thins. You want a smoking hot take that has been baked golden brown and then sprinkled with a touch of sea salt? Here it is: Pretzel crackers are better than actual pretzels. I’ll eat pretzel crackers and pretzel hamburger buns. But put a bunch of pretzels in my Chex Mix and I start bitching endlessly.
  13. Pita chip. I only need three pita chips to make it through one container of hummus. I’m very efficient. By the way, if you’re using pita as a dipping vessel, warm pita bread triangles are the way to go. I can’t stop eating them. They are the sticky rice of Middle Eastern takeout food.
  14. Ritz. If you have kids, you know that one Ritz cracker produces a metric ton of crumbs on the floor. I’m sick of it. Fuck you, Ritz crackers. You’re a goddamn mess. I don’t care how good of a mock apple pie I can make from you (it really does taste like apples).
  15. Rice. Again, I like them. I know I’m alone on this, but I’ll eat anything that has a mystery sodium glaze on it.
  16. Chicken in a Biskit. I’ve never had these. Do they taste like chicken bullion? That sounds okay.
  17. Water crackers. These are the fancy crackers people set out with various runny cheeses. They ALL taste stale. It’s a mortal lock. I don’t know how Carr’s got a stranglehold on the cocktail party market, but I would like Wheat Thins to DISRUPT it.
  18. Bagel chips. You need a fucking dog’s jaw to get through one of these. Human tooth enamel is not meant for the rigors of bagel chip consumption.
  19. Matzo. Please don’t accuse me of anti-semitism.
  20. Crispbread. This is dryass rye cracker bread that is meant for dying sailors but has been marketed as a kind of upscale digestive. Avoid this cracker. It’s for teething infants.

Mike:

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Shel Silverstein vs. Dr. Seuss, who you got?

Aw, man. Don’t make me choose. I’ll go ahead and confess here that, when I was a kid, I didn’t like Shel Silverstein books. I think the drawings freaked me out. (To be fair, open up a Silverstein book and you’ll encounter, like, a nose with hairy feet). Also, The Giving Tree is an unbearably sad book, and even now I have a hard time reading it without turning into a big fat puddle of sadness. THAT PIECE OF SHIT KID DIDN’T KNOW HOW GOOD HE HAD IT WITH THAT TREE!

So I never read A Light in the Attic or Where the Sidewalk Ends until I became a dad myself and now I like Shel Silverstein a lot. Also, he has easily the most badass author photos of anyone in history. He looked like a goddamn biker genie. He was awesome. And as much as I love Dr. Seuss, reading Green Eggs & Ham to a child gets exhausting after the 90th time. It’s the “12 Days of Christmas” of children’s books. Please don’t make my rhyme “mouse” and “house” again, you motherfucker. The repetition is eating away at my soul.

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It’s clear to me that Seuss is for younger kids (or twee adults who love giving Oh The Places You’ll Go as a graduation gift), while Silverstein is for slightly older ones. His shit is now so popular at my kid’s school that they actually banned kids from bringing in his poems for assignments, because every kid would just bring in a Xerox of “Sarah Sylvia Cynthia Stout” and read it out loud. And I can’t blame the kids. There’s a pretty huge dropoff from Seuss and Silverstein and Sendak to the rest of children’s literature. The rest is SHIT.

Trevor:

Is this the worst NFL season ever? September and October produced a total of 3.5 watchable games and it seems like parity has finally been achieved, but if this is what it looks like, fuck that. The AFC may as well not even exist outside of New England. And the Falcons! They should be the most exciting team since the Greatest Show on Turf, but I’m just kinda not that impressed? There were only two good playoff games and they both involved alien Aaron Rodgers. I guess the Cowboys were something, or something, but overall, football bored me more than entertained me this year. Even an amazing Super Bowl won’t do much to redeem it. I have little hope next year will be any different.

The NFL is run by assholes and shitbags but I don’t know how it’s their fault that eight of the 10 playoffs games this year weren’t competitive affairs (and one of the “good” ones, KC-PIT, was pretty dreadful in its own, Andy Reid-esque kind of way). The league had awful luck with primetime blowouts just a couple of years ago, and then we had one of the best Super Bowls ever. It’s all pretty random.

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There are only a few things you can do to have a tangible impact on the closeness of games. The first is to have the NFL’s fabled “parity,” which has been with us for so long that a handful of teams (Patriots, Steelers) have mastered the salary cap to the point where that parity is actually kind of horseshit. The other thing you can do is loosen up the rules so that offenses can pass the ball all over the place and erase large deficits with relative ease. Again, the NFL’s already done this. The last thing you can do is draw games out even LONGER, like in college football. That Clemson/Bama game was close because it was nine fucking hours long. It was ridiculous. I shouldn’t be looking to NFL games as a model of brevity by comparison.

There have always been shitty NFL games with abominable coaching and/or quarterbacking, but the badness of games has been exacerbated in recent year by three things. First of all, no one knows what the fucking rules are anymore. Secondly, replay and other stoppages are a drag on everything, and I am now an old man who wants replay outright banned from the sport.

Thirdly, people fucking HATE the NFL. So when the NFL doesn’t give you what you want, you’re much more apt to complain about shortcomings in the game that, perhaps, you were more willing to forgive in the past. Given the moral compromises I’m making to tune in, the NFL better fucking DELIVER me some 35-31 shootouts. When it doesn’t, I’m that much more annoyed. See how that works? The on-field product is the same in a lot of ways, but now that you know Roger Goodell’s flaws, you’re much more likely to notice the flaws in what he’s selling you.

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That’s why ratings were occasionally down this season. People will still tune into good football. But when it sucks, the TV goes off a lot faster. I’ve got alternatives to riding out some 42-10 shitfest. I got back episodes of Black Mirror burning a hole in my DVR and I’m just waiting for you to give me an excuse, amigo.

HALFTIME!

Eric:

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Would they have to cancel an NHL game if a fan threw a cup of hot coffee onto the ice? I imagine this would cause considerable damage to the ice that couldn’t be repaired by the scantily clad rink girls. Are we one incident away from only being allowed to purchase STARBUCKS RESERVE™ Cold Brew Growlers at hockey games?

I don’t think it would damage the ice as much as you think it would. They’ve actually had to alter NHL games in the past because of iceholes (look at THIS farging icehole!), but even a boiling hot cup of joe would probably spread out and cool too quickly to form a literal pit. At the very worst, they might have to delay the game to apprehend the coffee bandit (FACKIN’ TAWMMY WENT TO DUNKIN!) and bring out the Zamboni to resurface the ice (which always takes 10 minutes longer than I assume it will), but I don’t think they would have to actually cancel anything. They played an outdoor hockey game in fucking L.A., for God’s sake. Dumping Starbucks on the ice there would probably HARDEN it.

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For the record, I will never get tired of watching ice melt. Ever have a cup of tea that’s way too hot, so you drop an ice cube in it? Watching that cube melt is my bliss. So soothing. It just disappears like MAGIC. One time I had a shitload of excess ice I had to melt, so I dumped it in the sink, put on a kettle, and poured boiling water all over it. I felt like a God. I’m gonna open up a series of ice melting parlors all over the country. It’ll be the hot (or should I say… COOL?) new therapy treatment.

Ian:

Why don’t the networks set a week in the spring and air all of their pilots for new series? I think they make something like 80-100 and almost none of them get picked up. I’m sure the majority are fucking garbage, but I bet some studio exec is fucking up badly. Let’s see them. I could see pilot week being fun times. Or not. I’d probably avoid them like the plague once I saw how truly awful most of them are.

They can’t do that because once you air a TV show, you have to pay all sorts of extra fees to producers and writers and actors and anyone else who gets union-mandated broadcast royalties. LOUSY UNIONS! Instead, the networks spend even MORE money re-shooting those pilots and running them through focus groups until every one of them stars Poochie. And then they drop 80 of them en masse anyway. The system works!

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Amazon actually DOES let you view test pilots, which is how shows like Transparent ended up getting picked up for a full run. And IFC’s old “Brilliant But Cancelled” series aired a few cult pilots that never made it, like this one:

But in general, you don’t want to watch any of these things. People always say they want one thing when they actually don’t. You don’t want to invest your time in a show that you already know is unfinished. And, as Mike Schur has already said, most pilots are garbage. The Simpsons pilot is shitty. The Seinfeld pilot is shitty. There are a few exceptions like The Sopranos and Lost (dramas are almost always better in pilot form than comedies), but usually it takes an inordinate amount of time for a show to find its footing and make its characters into people you give a shit about. And that’s with all the other established GOOD TV shows out there already that you haven’t watched. Networks are better off airing Celebrities Play Operation! instead, and so they do.

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Jason:

Hey what’s the go-to activity to kill time when your wife is shopping without acting completely disconnected? It’s smell all the candles right?

Well, now you can just look at your phone. Smartphones have basically destroyed the old stereotype of bored men who are dragged along on endless shopping expeditions. Prior to phones, those stereotypes were a THOUSAND percent accurate. You couldn’t dick around on the internet, and you couldn’t even leave the store because, without calling or texting, how would your lady know where you went off to? That’s how I ended up fighting a mirror once. The boredom was REAL, my friends.

I don’t have to worry about any of that shit anymore. Turns out not EVERYTHING about present day America is a festering heap of shit! Who knew?

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That aside, if you ever find yourself stuck at a mall with nothing to do and you get sick of staring at your phone, here are a few side activities:

  1. Go to Dairy Queen.
  2. Go to Spencer’s Gifts and look at the porny stuff.
  3. Go to the Apple store and dick around with the Apple shit. This is the only thing my kids want to do at the mall, and judging by the crowds they are not alone.
  4. Look at jewelry. I always try to find the most expensive/largest stone and then think about how I would go about stealing it.
  5. Walk by the Victoria’s Secret a few times without openly ogling the mannequins but kinda looking at them too, even though looking at mannequins is weird but DAMN they really know how to engineer those things
  6. Tell a wireless kiosk guy you’re interested in his service before yelling JUST KIDDING EAT SHIT and running away
  7. Mess around on the exercise crap at Sears
  8. Hang out in Brookstone and wonder how it’s still in business

I don’t smell candles or fancy soaps because I always end up wanting to eat them. That’s a dangerous a game you’re playing, son.

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Rob:

Hey Drew, what activity makes you feel the most like an old timey pioneer? Obviously hunting, fishing, butter churning etc., but I was backcountry snowshoeing today in a blizzard, in the mountains and that might take the cake. I felt like an extra in The Revenant. My beard was full of ice! SO RUGGED. (I had leftover pizza for lunch and strained a hammy.)

Bringing in firewood. My parents have a cord of wood outside their house, and whenever I visit, I have to help bring some of it in. It already comes pre-chopped, but that doesn’t stop me from pretending I’m fucking Paul Bunyan hauling little logs in and out of the house. After three loads, I’m ready to drink a pitcher of straight brandy. It’s great.

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I also went skiing for the first time in ages the other week, and it would not shock you to learn that a soft-ass CITY BOY like me will happily treat a day of skiing—which is way up on there on the list of most luxurious sporting endeavors—like an expedition across South Georgia Island. Once in a while I would pause halfway down the mountain to rest, like I was climbing the thing instead. “Oh men, the conditions out there today were absolutely SAVAGE. The snow lashed my face with the anger of a thousand gods!” Meanwhile, the lift ticket costs a hundred bucks and the chalet serves duck cassoulet for two. Skiers are snow golfers.

Garrett:

It’s a balmy 30 degrees in Chicago today so I went to get a cup of chicken noodle soup from Corner Bakery for lunch. I don’t get soup often so I was a bit taken-aback by how much a cup of soup costs. For $4.25 plus tax, you get a criminal broth to chicken/noodle ratio with a few veggies inside. Which got me thinking... How much is too much to pay for a cup of lunch soup (think broccoli cheddar, chicken noodle, tortilla, etc.)? At what point do you just skip the soup at the restaurant and hit CVS to buy a can of Campbell’s for $1 on your way back to the office?

That’s nothing. I used to work in New York, and Hale & Hearty Soups requires a fucking $1,000 down payment if you want a cup of mulligatawny. My old office was also just a few blocks away from the old Soup Kitchen International, which was the real-life inspiration for the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld. And anytime a co-worker would go there, people would be like, “Oh wow, you’re going THERE! You must have won the fucking lottery.” You couldn’t walk out of that joint for less than $15 (and it wasn’t anywhere near as life-altering as the show made it out to be). And if you wanted some kind of seafood bisque, you were out a month’s salary. Soup inflation is no joke. These people know you’re trying to get soup as a bargain lunch, so they jack the price up so high that you may as well order a chicken marsala sub instead.

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I know it’s inherently more fun to eat out on your break, but if you really want good soup for lunch and you don’t wanna break the bank, just make your own. It’s really not that hard. You can make a better chili or chicken noodle or split-pea-and-ham soup from scratch than what they sell over at Au Bon Pain or wherever. Plus, every co-worker will smell it and go, “Ooooooh whatcha eatin’?” I love inducing lunch envy in others.

DJ:

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Would you rather have a vagina on your forehead, or ten dicks on your back? To clarify, these aren’t other people’s naughty bits. These are your actual sex organs.

The dicks. I can hide those with a shirt. There’s no hiding a vagina-head. Don’t come at me about that take being problematic.

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Marcus:

Every time you’re watching an NBA telecast, the cameras cut to those shots of the players walking in alone with headphones on, bobbing along or whatever. But don’t those players come from the SAME BUS? Do you think they’re told to leave the bus at 5-minute intervals so ESPN can get the solo shot of them walking together? Why are they not walking together?

I’m sure those walks are much more choreographed than they used to be, especially now that fashion designers and players have made the tunnel into a literal runway to showcase new shit. I think players innately understand how it works now. The bus arrives, and everyone gets up to grab all their bags (which can take time), and then the guys file out one by one, with big swinging dicks like Russell Westbrook getting the space they need to strut down the tunnel in a bearskin caftan. The natural disembarking process lends itself to an impromptu fashion show, but I bet Russell does multiple takes if the camera crew asks for them.

By the way, for every guy who walks down that tunnel in high fashion for the cameras, there is a Delly stumbling out of the bus in Lee Dungarees just to make Colin Cowherd happy. “That guy came to WORK. He’s not here for any pussy fashion shit!”

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Kurt:

My buddies and I were nerding out about Rogue One the other day and wondering how much of Darth Vader we’re gonna see and other Star Wars movies that could have him in it, which begs the question... James Earl Jones is 85, do you think Disney/Lucasfilm has a full library of recorded words, lines, etc. in case he checks out here sometime soon? Or is there a Vader autofilter already set so anyone could voice the icon?

I think they could probably replace Jones if it came to that. If you watch Rogue One, you can tell that his voice has been somewhat altered by age. It actually made me sad. James Earl Jones should never be allowed to die.

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Regardless, that movie made a half a billion, so they’ll put Vader in the new Han Solo movie, along with whatever other spinoffs they decide to make: Chewie spinoffs, Yoda spinoffs, Tarkin spinoffs. You will see a LOT more Force-choking. The people can’t get enough of it. They’ll figure out a way to approximate Jones’ voice even if these SOFT MILLENNIAL actors could never possibly compete with the old man’s rugged timbre.

Email of the week!

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Andrew:

At Thanksgiving dinner this year some of my uncles were sharing old memories and one really got me wondering. Basically Uncle Jimmy was at a summer camp way back in the day and there was that one weird kid in their cabin that didn’t fit in. Well, one night all the other campers organized a prank and set it into action: they told weird kid they were going to turn off the lights and everybody was going to start masturbating, and the first one to “finish” would “win”. Well of course, 30 seconds in they flip the light back on and weird kid is the only one with his dick in his hand, just going to town. Everybody laughs and the kid is obviously mortified. This kid definitely grew up to become a serial killer right?

No but everyone else in the cabin did.