Time for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. Today, we’re covering raw chicken, ham, in-laws, Christmas, and more.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: I’m outta here next week to go do Christmas things. You’re not getting a Funbag. You’ll have to go mud-sledding or something. Deadspin founder and artificial Georgian Will Leitch will be your Jamboroo guest host.

Got all that? Excellent. Let’s get on with your letters.

Will:

What is the best month to have a birthday in?

Obviously, it’s not this month, because December birthdays are the fucking worst. Two people in my family have December birthdays, and I have the utmost sympathy for them and the token “extra item in the Amazon cart” they receive as a birthday gift. Even if you have a birthday in early December, you’re still ancillary to the holiday season. Your birthday needs to be 100 percent about YOU and all your glories! You must be the center of everyone’s attention for a full week of commemoration!

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Anyway, I was born in October, and I’m a strong advocate for the October birthday, because a) I can ask to be left alone to watch football as my gift, b) the weather is still pleasant, and c) it’s right past the cutoff age for school (usually September 1st), and it’s always more fun to be the older kid in a class. You never want to be the youngest kid in your grade. If we’re talking about a lifetime of birthdays, the birthdays that occur during your childhood are of the utmost importance, so you have to give those birthdays extra weight as you rank the months:

1. October

2. September

3. May

4. June

5. April

6. November (provided it doesn’t get too close to Thanksgiving and get lumped in with other shitty family activities)

7. July

8. March

9. February

10. January

11. August

12. December

If you’re a kid, you probably want a birthday month that takes place in warm weather, but during the school year (so you get a party of your own instead of the mass partykakke they do at year’s end for all the summer birthdays, if they even bother), and as far away from Christmas as humanly possible. Two of my kids have birthdays in the January-February window, and it sucks for them, because both months are cold as balls, and Daddy ain’t exactly feeling generous after all that pointless Christmas spending. Usually, we just take a would-be Christmas gift and re-purpose it. This year, you fuckers get a box of Cheez-Its. To share. Deal with it.

Mike:

My girlfriend and I are moving from NYC to L.A. We (she) decided that we’re going to drive there. What steps can I take to make this drive as smooth as possible?

Like any trip, you’re probably gonna have a better time if you do as much planning on the front end as you can withstand. If you have time to visit certain cities or tourist spots (the Grand Canyon!), you can break up the trip into a handful of smaller, more manageable parts, with something to look forward to at every stop along the way. You can scout out hotel rooms, search for good road food, and try to make an ADVENTURE of it …

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... until tedium sets in, and then you have to drive through some fucking endless state like Nebraska, and then you throw away your plan to drive 300 miles out of the way to visit the Grand Tetons because it’s just too much, and then someone steals your wallet at the truck stop, and then you flip a guy off on the interstate and he stalks you for the next thousand miles of highway, making you fear for your safety, and then you get really tired and just wanna fucking GET THERE, you know? You become so obsessed with making decent time that you speed and curse at other motorists, and then your girlfriend is like, “Will you slow down?” And then you’re like, “I’m not even driving 85. Calm down.” And then she’s like, “Maybe I should drive.” And then you’re like, “WELL MAYBE YOU SHOULD HAVE IF YOU WANTED TO DRAG ME OUT TO THIS GODDAMN WASTELAND.” And then you break up somewhere in New Mexico and become so angry with each other that she literally gets out of the car and finds some other way of getting there.

So anyway, you should think about flying.

Alex:

I think we can safely say that no matter what political affiliation you lean towards these days, the overall majority of folks in this country have some distrust in the U.S. government. I have yet to meet someone who said, “Man, the U.S. government is doing a great job! No complaints here.”

So with that, why do people shit on truthers so much? My personal belief is it’s more fun to bitch about the government, but most folks are truly terrified at the thought of the government really being that corrupt and evil.

I think it’s because a lot of the evil and corruption out there involves things that you already KNOW are real and plausible: corporate corruption, arsenic being dumped in your local reservoir, going to war for dubious reasons, etc. When people say, “Hey, we invaded Iraq for oil!” few people categorize that as truthering, because it’s believable—much more believable than the government secretly plotting to bring down the Twin Towers and murder thousands of innocent people. That strains credulity, and that’s what makes truthering truthering.

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In general, you SHOULD be skeptical of the government and of BIG BUSINESS doing shady shit to get you to buy more crap, and you should be skeptical of the media’s ability to cover any of it with any shred of competence. Real conspiracies are all around you: the 2008 bond market crash, Watergate, the Volkswagen diesel fiasco, the Vatican covering up the fact that Jesus had a son named Jimmy Ray … that’s all legit.

In fact, one of the reasons people dump on truthering is because their paranoid idiocy actively draws attention away from real conspiracies that need to be addressed. How the fuck we gonna prevent more school shootings when we have fuckface truthers getting in the way? Truthering occurs when, against all odds, I trust the source of the theory less than I trust the institution they’re decrying. If I think you concocted your stupid anti-vaccine theory just because you fancy yourself some holistic savant who is way too impressed with your ace detective work, I’m siding with BIG PHARMA every time out.

Josh:

My family spends Christmas Day every year with my wife’s family. It’s your standard family get-together of food and presents for the grandkids/great grandkids. Every year, they purchase a $90+ dollar Honey Baked Ham. I am all about some HBH, and was super excited the first year I was informed of this tradition. Little did I know, I was in for quite the disappointment: THEY EAT IT COLD. Like they pull it straight out of the refrigerator and plop it on the counter to eat. I have voiced my displeasure every year about the temperature of this sweet and salty meat of the gods, but no one sees any issue with it. I am stuck placing my plate in the microwave to try to get some of that juicy, fatty texture that comes from a fresh-baked ham. I’m the only sane one in this family, right?

You’re not gonna believe this (I know I didn’t), but both Honey Baked Ham AND the USDA recommend serving spiral-cut hams cold, so that they don’t dry out. So technically, your wife’s family is right! Here I thought cold, boring ham would be a breeding ground for wet beriberi, but NO! No, it is apparently safe and optimal.

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That said, fuck the USDA. I want my ham warm and juicy and glistening with hot fat. If spiral hams are meant to be served cold, then they are FLAWED. I’d much rather go to the store and get one of those big doorstop hams packed in two pints of ham water (OMG HAM WATER EVERYWHERE) that comes with a five-cent pack of glaze and instructions to heat it at 200 degrees for nine days prior to serving. Now THAT is good hamming.

True story: My wife doesn’t like reheating meat, and prefers chicken and ham cold. Which is crazy to me, because nuking a piece of chicken takes a minute and a half and improves the taste fivefold. But she won’t do it! I’m gonna need some kind of detailed PowerPoint deck to convince her to return to the Dark Side.

Preston:

Will Odell Beckham’s actions this past Sunday taint his reputation for the rest of his career?

Yep! Imagine if he had KILLED Josh Norman with that cheap shot. We could have had our first in-game murder! The ratings for the post-murder game would be OUTLANDISH. Eli’s jaw would hang open for a solid month!

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Anyway, OBJ is still the best wideout in football, and even Old Man Coughlin couldn’t pull him from the game, because he knew damn well that Beckham is the only decent player on that whole shitty team. But if you hate the Giants (sure, why not) and you hate YOUNG PUNK wideouts like Beckham, you ain’t letting him forget that anytime soon. That goes right on his football tombstone, along with this suit. Haters will always remember what they wanna remember, no matter how small and petty the offense is*.

(*What Beckham did, of course, wasn’t small and petty at all. That was dirty as shit, and he deserve to be suspended. This week! Against my team! Who can easily keep pace with Green Bay in the NFC North now that they’ve been handed a crippled Giants offense to beat on. Yes, I say suspending that young man was the MORAL thing to do.)

Alex:

Is there ever a good time to take a shit at the gym? You either have to work out having recently shit (making the stationary bike a complete no-go) or shower BEFORE you work out. After, you’re sweaty on the toilet, which is also gross. Really inconvenient time to drop one, if you ask me.

I always shit beforehand. I don’t plan on this. It’s just my rectum trolling me. “Hey, what if I made Drew shit NOW, with a bunch of naked old men around?” Then I go work out and come back to shower and discover, much to my horror, that sometimes working out post-crap can result in dingleberries the size of your head. It’s not a pleasant discovery. If you hear any screaming on a weekday, that’s me uprooting a wad of sweaty nylon thread from my ass hair.

Coleman:

For the first time in my life, my whole family (each respective chunk) will be traveling and doing their own thing for Christmas, meaning I’ll be on my own. Most of my friends are going back to their hometowns, and things aren’t quite far enough along with the girl I’m seeing to spend it with her (very serious, Italian) family. On one hand it’s a little weird and sad, but on the other hand, it’s exciting. I can do whatever I want! I’m just having trouble figuring out what that is ... any suggestions?

Jewish Christmas! Chinese food! Movies! More Chinese food! You know how much I’ve always wanted to have that kind of Christmas? If I had my druthers, Christmas would always be an Oscar doubleheader and 50 orders of Singapore noodles. It’s impossible to fuck that day up, even if the movies are terrible.

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Because frankly, Christmas is exhausting either way. Like. you can watch movies and stuff yourself and feel kinda gross at the end of it … OR you can open presents and stay in your jammies all day and assemble toys and stuff yourself and STILL feel kinda gross at the end of it. No matter which way you choose celebrate, you end up being a fat crap. It doesn’t really matter what route you choose to get there.

HALFTIME!

Andy:

My in-laws are hosting Christmas Eve this year, and their family tradition is not a full-scale, blown-out dinner, but a wide variety of appetizers. (I am completely on board with this, especially since I get turkey, ham, etc. the next day.) What do I bring? Do I play it safe and go with something like shrimp cocktail, or come out with something crazy and hope they’re amazed?

DIP! No one ever bitches about a good dip. I make a smoked salmon dip pretty much every year and then eat it all myself. Here’s an easy recipe:

1 fully cooked smoked salmon filet (they sell them at the grocery store under brand names like Echo Falls and shit, usually for six bucks)

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Half a tub of light cream cheese

Pepper

Put the salmon filet in a big bowl and mash it up with a fork or (ewww) your hands. Then add the other crap and mix it all around until it looks like a dip. Then put some crackers or warm pita bread on the side. Serves ME.

A dip is your easiest option outside of pre-prepped frozen appetizers like those little Spanakopita triangles they sell at Trader Joe’s. I can go to a party now and know EXACTLY what frozen Trader Joe’s app was purchased simply by looking at the tray. Everyone in suburbia is in on the scam.

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But you can’t blame them, because appetizers are secretly harder to prepare than entrees. Like, if you make a big-ass roast, it’s just one thing. It’s easier to make one big thing than to make two dozen tiny little fussy finger sandwiches or whatever. Appetizers are delicious but annoying.

(One other option: MEAT PLATE. Just buy a shitload of salami and mortadella and tastefully arrange it on a plate or cutting board and tell everyone it’s CHARCUTERIE, as if you’re some artisan butcher who personally cut up a pig for the occasion.)

James:

Wouldn’t Christmas be better if it were at the end of winter instead of at the beginning? After Christmas, winter just sucks. But if we moved Christmas to the end of winter, maybe it would give us some hope to survive.

You can’t do that, because then you’d have a holiday season that last three months, and everyone would end up murdering each other. Christmas stuff already comes too early. By the time Christmas itself arrives, I’m ready to throw out the tree and nuke every Christmas radio station into oblivion. You can’t make me be joyous and spirited for two additional months. I’m not capable of it.

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And if you think people will simply delay the beginning of the holiday season if Christmas were moved to February 25th, you’re being naïve. Brands would never allow it. They would bust out the holiday sales right after Thanksgiving regardless. By the end of January, you would be in a straitjacket, cackling wildly and humming “Deck the Halls” to yourself. There’s only so much festiveness the human mind can handle.

Pat:

Would a good college quarterback that totally fell on his face in the NFL, such as Brandon Weeden or RG3, still be good if they went back to college? Is their confidence totally broken to the point that they couldn’t even pick apart NCAA defenses? Granted, he’s had bad luck with injuries, but RG3 seems likes he’s regressed significantly in his time in the league.

Yeah, RG3 is a unique case because he’s so banged up. I have no clue if he’s physically able to be good again. If we’re talking about just a normal, healthy failed pro, they’d be fine going back to college. Even if you go 0-16 as a pro quarterback, you’re still a pro quarterback. There’s a certain baseline level of confidence that’s never going away if you make it that far. Going back to college would be just what 58-year-old Brandon Weeden needed. He’d be so excited to beat the piss out of some teenagers that he’d probably throw for 500 yards a game. It’s like when I play waffle ball against my children. I give no quarter. I’m aiming right for the street.

Laura:

I realize that I may be opening a can of bees with this question, but is it ever okay to yell at a pregnant woman? Asking because a friend wants to know.

Well, did the pregnant woman murder your family? You can probably yell at her for that. You don’t get magically excused from criticism when you’re a pregnant murderer. We gotta have SOME limits.

Philip:

Which door causes the greatest toddler meltdown when you close it: fridge, outside, or pantry? Gotta be outside.

Their bedroom. When you close the bedroom door, the kid knows EXACTLY what’s going on and won’t stand for it. If I took a Vine of the sound my kid makes when I try to put him down for a nap, birth rates in this country would fall by 40 percent. They hate it when you try to put them to sleep. Even if I just say, “You look tired!” to the boy, he’ll rake my face and cry out NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! He will gnash and wail for a solid hour before finally passing out from exhaustion. Pretty fun process.

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I’ve written about this before, but I will never understand why children think doors are toys. My oldest kid HANGS on the fridge door like it’s a piece of fucking gymnastics equipment. It’s enraging. There are toys all over this goddamn house. Why are you playing with a DOOR? There are no video-game consoles hidden within the door. Quit making Daddy’s arteries burst with rage.

Gerrit:

You just got the word that the world is in the early stages of the zombie apocalypse. What are you going to bring as your only pair of footwear? Part of me says a nice pair of leather boots (tough, lasts long, etc.). However, those would slow you down if you were sprinting away from zombies. The other part of me says to wear some running shoes because you’re going to be faster, but they risk wearing down faster than boots, plus they might not withstand a zombie bite. This question keeps me up at night.

BOOTS! You don’t see Army Rangers dropping into war zones in high-tops, do you? If you pick a pair of New Balances in hopes of surviving the zombie apocalypse, you deserve to have your guts ripped open and pulled like fresh barbecue. This is life and death, not a CrossFit circuit. You need boots because boots are sturdy, comfortable, and can protect your feet from pools of blood and liquefied innards. They’re not slowing you down all that much, given that zombies tend to walk. Plus, you can crush zombie skulls with a pair of Doc Martens if need be. I bet that’s really satisfying.

Ben:

What if batters were allowed to run for first base at any time (except on a foul ball, obviously)? Wouldn’t it be great to see Alcides Escobar suddenly take off for first on the first pitch instead of swinging? It would be very rare that a player could pull it off, too, so I think this should be allowed.

I agree 100 percent. Every time a player runs to first base after striking out, the result is always a hilariously awkward put-out. I don’t see why we need a passed ball or wild pitch for this to happen. Let’s make it legal to steal first any time you like. It’s not like it would change the game much. I just want to see who would be stupid enough to try it three times a year.

Larry:

After I got married, my mother-in-law got really mad when I called her by her first name, and insisted I call her Mom. I really don’t feel comfortable calling someone I met when I was 33 “Mom,” so instead, I’ve managed to make it the past six years just not addressing her at all. Do I just keep it up like this forever?

Yep. Are they really in-laws out there who insist on this? I thought that only happened in sitcoms. There’s no reason to call your mother-in-law Mom when she’s NOT your mom. How would your regular mom feel if you did? That’s a whole can of worms. The way it should go is…

MOTHER IN LAW: Welcome to the family!

YOU: Aw, thanks Mrs. Goobus.

MOTHER-IN-LAW: Oh, please. Call me Gloria.

YOU: Okay … [really awkward pause as you muster up the courage] Gloria.

MOTHER-IN-LAW: You know, you should never be afraid to come to me, especially if you’re having problems in the boudoir, if you catch my drift [puts her hand on your leg, winks seductively].

YOU: Oh, wow, Gloria …

MOTHER-IN-LAW: No one is here. TAKE ME.

That’s how it SHOULD play out. Anything else is wildly inappropriate. If she won’t let you call her by her name, just refer to her as HEY for the rest of your life and pray she dies early.

Erik:

I just sneezed and felt an immediate, devastating pain in my taint. It was a cramp that lasted for about three minutes. I’m 34. Is this what getting old feels like?

No. Go see a doctor. Getting old has its random aches and pains and “Am I having a stroke?” moments, but any and all taint spasms deserve medical attention.

Duncan:

I was waiting for my haircut appointment on Saturday that was scheduled for 3:30. I got there at 3:25 because I’m obsessively punctual, and the lady at the front desk said that my haircut lady was running about 10 minutes late. Fine, no biggie. Then, time started to tick by, and she was almost half an hour late! She finally gets me at almost 4 and says, “I’m so sorry for being late.” I obviously responded with, “That’s okay” because I was being polite. It really wasn’t okay that she was half an hour late, but what are my alternatives? I can’t say, “It’s not okay” without looking like a dick. Do I just have to suck it up and say it’s okay when it’s really not okay for all trivial matters in life? Please give me an alternative.

This is the same problem with waiting for doctors. You wait forever even though you have an appointment, you seethe, you consider leaving but don’t because you’ve already invested so much time in waiting, and then you let it slide when the fucker finally walks in the door, because he’s about to put a finger up your ass, and you can’t have him angry when that happens.

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The only recourse you have is to never go back. Pick a new barbershop and imagine—in your mind—that your tardy hairdresser has been left to wonder why you deserted her. Was it something she did? Is she finally paying the price for her indifference to proper scheduling? Cackle as you leave her in the dark as to her transgressions!*

(*In reality, she probably doesn’t even know your name and won’t even realize you stopped coming. You better write an angry, anonymous Yelp review to drive the point home.)

Email of the week!

Pete:

Sometimes I buy a package of chicken. I’ll open it up to make dinner for my family, and only need like half of it. So I’ll go to freeze the rest, which is where it gets dicey: I try my best to not get raw chicken juice on the outside of the bag, but inevitably, the chicken will graze the lip of the bag, or my hand (covered in chicken juice) will touch the lip of the bag. So now I go wash my hands, THEN ZIP/SEAL THE BAG, but now I’m like, I just touched the very part of the bag that has chicken juice on it, which now means I wash my hands again, and I’m wondering, do I now spray disinfectant on a paper towel and then wipe down the bag? (I usually do this, though I feel ridiculous for doing so.) So am I going overboard with all this? Does the freezing temp kill the chicken-juice germs on the outside of the bag? Is there any better way to get soggy, wet raw meat into a bag?

And also, between prepping the meat and storing the unused portion, is there any way for me to not wash my hands 85 fucking times in 15 minutes? I swear, it’s like, okay, I have to put the chicken on the plate (wash hands), I have to pick up the salt shaker, but now I have to turn the chicken over (wash hands). And also, I’m sure it’s all just totally pointless, because how much salmonella have I smeared on the fucking sink handle and soap dispenser in my efforts to wash my hands?

This is why I buy the rotisserie chicken at the store.


Drew Magary writes for Deadspin. He’s also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter @drewmagary and email him at drew@deadspin.com. You can also order Drew’s book, Someone Could Get Hurt, through his homepage.

Image by Sam Woolley.