Illustration by Sam Woolley/GMG

Time for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. Today, we’re talking aliens, Christmas songs, the XFL, and more.

I got more Star Wars takes before we get into your letters. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna spoil anything, but I watched The Force Awakens a couple times after seeing the new movie and the difference in dialogue is night and day, man. Everyone in TFA had better lines than they do in The Last Jedi. Take it from a PROFESSIONAL WRITERING PERSON WHO SOMETIMES WRITES GOOD. Some fanboys hate on TFA, but it didn’t become the biggest movie in history and reignite a worldwide obsession with Star Wars by fucking accident. It’s a special movie. J.J. Abrams started as a TV guy, and in TV they spend all their time obsessing over characters and dialogue, to the point of derangement. All of that shows up in The Force Awakens. Haters act like they just took the New Hope script and changed, like, six words. Fuck that. They invented a whole catalog of new Star Wars characters that people REALLY liked. That ain’t easy.

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All this is to say: I’m glad Abrams is back for the last one, and I don’t know about giving Rian Johnson a whole trilogy of his own. Time and again, those movies prove only as durable as their scripts. Pay the god Larry Kasdan his money and gimme more snappy dialogue. THAT IS AN ORDER, COMMANDER.

Now, if you want some deeper, more spoilery takes on The Last Jedi, you can go here. Otherwise, let’s get into your letters. Please note there is NO Funbag next week. I’ll be too busy drowning in nog.

Your letters:

Trent:

Who ya got: Godzilla vs. Santa Claus?

There’s nothing to suggest that Santa has any kind of artillery on hand in order to defeat a 100-foot-tall radioactive lizard monster. All he could do is make like Christmas Floyd Mayweather and fly his sleigh around Godzilla for 12 rounds, dodging claw swipes and lightning breath. I don’t know how he would actually BEAT Godzilla when all he’s got is a big sack of Nerf guns and game consoles in his bag. I think the only thing that might save Santa is if some gun nut’s kid asked for a Desert Eagle and Santa grudgingly agreed, but even then that’s not enough firepower.

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Eventually, his reindeer would tire out (especially Donder, who has no heart) and Godzilla would make contact. I don’t think any amount of Christmas magic would be enough to counter a direct hit from that lightning breath, because lightning is very cool and powerful. Godzilla wins, takes full possession of Christmas, and spends the ensuing years laying waste to a surprise city every December 25th to remind everyone of the heavy price of mankind’s hubris. It’s what we deserve, really. I am ready for Christmas to give way to Judgment Day.

 

Lee:

When stringing lights on a Christmas Tree, should you start at the bottom and go up? Or start from the top and go down? Our house is divided. Starting from the top seems ludicrous to me but from speaking to friends and family, it looks like it may just be preference and how people you knew/family did it.

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I start at the bottom because I don’t want the wire running from the AC outlet to the top of the tree instead of the bottom. That looks fucking stupid, and it leaves you with less string to work with. Also, I’d rather run out of lights toward the top than toward the bottom because there’s less surface area that needs to be covered. That, my friend, is geography. I think, one time, I tried going up and down the tree as I went around, like the thing was a maypole. Do not do this.

I usually plug the lights in and then begin winding them around the base of the tree and gradually upward, poking myself 9,000 times and getting resin all over my palms. Then I finish the job and my wife says I missed a spot, and then I curse her and do it again. Then she says I still missed a spot and then I go OH YEAH WELL WHY DON’T YOU TRY IT MISSY?! This is why we now have a fake tree. I wish I could tell you I miss the ritual of cutting a real one down and fussing with it, but I do not. We have fragrant tree spray to make up for all that. It cost three bucks.

 

William:

What is better: the average-quality religious Christmas song or the average-quality secular Christmas song? For clarity, let’s say that any song that includes the words “holy,” “Christ,” “Lord,” “God,” “Jesus,” “Mary,” “Joseph,” “manger,” “Kings,” “shepherds,” “lambs,” or other references to the Biblical story of Christmas is religious. Secular songs can be everything else—Rudolph, Santa, etc.

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Oh, the religious ones have a far higher batting average. Much more reliable than tuning into your local Christmas station and risking being ambushed with “Happy Christmas.” Lennon and McCartney alone DESTROY the curve for secular holiday music. This is why, when it’s late on Christmas Eve and I really wanna perfume the house with the Christmas spirit, I put on the classical station. That way, there’s no danger of Vince Gill infiltrating my moment of peace on Earth and good will toward men. I get “O Holy Night” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and those pair well with my advanced drunkenness. DAMMIT I LOVE YOU ALL.

When I was a kid, my mom would take us to church every Christmas Eve. It was the only time we ever went to church during the year, and I always dreaded it. I would spend that whole hour eyebanging the program and checking off each portion of the service as we got closer to the end. If we did multiple stanzas of “Silent Night,” I would roll my eyes. When the service ended, I would tear off my tie and act like I had just escaped Shawshank prison.

But now, of course, I have kids of my own, and that means that I drag THEM to church on Christmas Eve for their one hour a year in the clutches of organized religion. I do this for a lot of reasons. It’s a nice tradition, and they could stand to take one goddamn hour away from Christmas Mania to dress nice and remember the true meaning of the holiday. But mostly, I do it because I know the church would never subject me to “Silver Bells.” It is my one guaranteed asylum from all the shitty Christmas music, and I am grateful for it. Gospel Christmas music is dependable and pretty.

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Tim:

Assuming you are viewing a random NFL game between two teams you don’t really have a strong opinion on and just want to be entertained, what is the best final score? My three are; 28-24, 21-17 or 31-28 in approximately that order. I feel like if it is anything lower than that it is a boring defensive slugfest or a battle of incompetent offenses. If it is anything too much higher, then the defensive efforts are irrelevant since touchdowns are happening every three minutes and they start to lose their impact. What are your thoughts?

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31-28 is a great final score but I prefer any score that indicates the game ended with a last-second touchdown and not a last-second field goal to break a tie. That’s the optimum ending for an NFL game. I want the lead to swing, maybe with a coach going for two to win the game at the end instead of tying it up like a COWARD and taking his chances in overtime. That means a score like 28-27, or 31-30. Whenever I see a one-point differential on the scoreboard, I get immediate FOMO. “That game must have been a CLASSIC!” Meanwhile, it turns out the game was actually a blowout for four quarters and only got tight toward the end because Andy Reid forgot to run the ball, and then the other team botched the onside kick after pulling within one. God, I’m angry just thinking about that kind of bore-a-thon.

It goes the other way, too. One of my fonder football memories was watching Oklahoma upset Florida State in the 2001 Orange Bowl by a score of 13-2. If that sounds like a fucking terrible game, I assure that few things are more entertaining than watching Chris Weinke get pounded into chuck meat by voracious Sooner defense and having his Heisman immediately invalidated. He should have had to give back that trophy. I’m no purist, but I appreciate when a good defense takes a cocky GLORY BOY offense and puts it in a rear naked choke. That’s plenty entertaining.

 

Alex:

Every year I get inundated with commercials from Lexus and other car companies showing Dads/Husbands waking up Xmas morning and getting gifted a new vehicle and being legitimately surprised and excited. This can’t possibly be something that EVER happens without some kind of discussion ahead of time between a couple that isn’t super rich. Personally, I’d be livid with my wife if she off-hand decided we should take on a $600 car payment just to have a “December to Remember”. How many couples every Christmas are actually SURPRISE gifting a car between partners?

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These ads are getting worse because now multiple luxury car companies have followed Lexus’s lead and are featuring cars with bows on them, including Mercedes. Nothing will ever be as obnoxious as the Lexus ads with that goddamn jingle, but still. It’s perfect indictment of the ad world for Lexus to run a spot that viscerally stokes class outrage and not only have it succeed, but have it be COPIED by other companies looking to get in on the action. Nobody ever copies the good ads. They always copy shit like this or the Kars4Kids jingle.

Anyway, to answer your question, I agree with you that extremely wealthy people probably surprise each other with cars all the time. Usher bought Justin Bieber a car for his birthday. It can be done if you’re A) disgustingly rich, B) neither know nor care how your friend or significant other manages their money because you’re so rich it’s not a worry, and C) You have so much shit and so many houses that it’s easy for other people to hide a $500,000 Bugatti from you.

But it can still be done at lower (but still obnoxious) levels of wealth. I bet surprising someone with a car is like a surprise engagement. Like, maybe the fairly rich husband and wife have talked in passing about it, which the fairly rich husband takes as tacit approval to go out shopping for a BMW 7 Series or whatever. And then he springs it on her Christmas morning, and then they all laugh joyously, and then I come out of the bushes and burn their fucking house down. BOOM MOTHERFUCKER. I just stole your Christmas.

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Steve:

Will there ever be another ‘classic’ Christmas song written? I.e. “Rudolf the red nosed reindeer” or “Noel Noel”. Could Katy Perry come out with a Christmas song that’s sung and covered 50 years from now?

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I’ve mentioned this before but Kelly Clarkson’s “Underneath the Tree” is easily one of my favorite Christmas songs and deserves to be in the eternal rotation. Otherwise, I agree with my old friend Matt Ufford:

Every year, a bunch of artists try to break into the canon because they watched About A Boy and know it’s a sweet racket. 99.999999999% of these original songs are terrible and I actively resent their existence, mostly because I don’t NEED new Christmas songs. Listening to old crap is whole point of Christmas music, so please fuck off and stop trying to reinvent the wheel. I think a failed Christmas song should be punishable by real jail time. But I’ll gladly give out credit when Mariah or Kelly manage to pull off the impossible and create a new perennial. It’s the hardest feat in music, especially if you don’t allow for any jokey Christmas songs to be considered. By my timeline, we won’t get another new classic Christmas song until 2032.

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Kevin:

Has there ever been an era of less charismatic quarterbacks in the NFL? Every good QB currently in the league seems like a complete shithead, scammer, or obsessive maniac.

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I think charisma has always been vastly overstated among NFL quarterbacks. I know Simmons like to play sports phrenologist and analyze quarterbacks based on their name and skull pan size, but the greatest QBs of all time are not exactly a bunch of movie stars. Johnny U looked like a henchman for a Batman villain. John Elway is a horse-toothed rage freak. And Peyton! Peyton looks like the Star Child from 2001 got a fucking rash. People ascribe charisma to QBs because winning is attractive, and therefore cultivates its own sort aura that really doesn’t have anything to do with a guy’s looks or personality. I know this because Tom Brady has exactly none of the latter.

If you are the kind of NFL pud scouting the college ranks for a dude who looks like he has “flair” and was “born to throw a football,” you are an idiot. The best quarterbacks have traditionally been stoic tape drones who left the colorfulness to all the back and wideouts and defenders. If I ran a team, I’d go looking for a bland, dumb, ugly guy who would make an ideal mark for nanobubble purveyors. Joe Flacco II is my kind of field general.

HALFTIME!

Bill:

I propose an NFL rule change: If a team fumbles the ball out of their opponent’s end zone, place the ball at the 20 and the fumbling team keeps possession. That way the offending team gets penalized for dropping the damn ball, but they don’t get completely fucked by losing possession on a touchback.

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It really is amazing that the NFL managed to showcase its two worst rules within a span of five hours on Sunday. It’s almost like they plan for it. Anyway, when an offensive player fumbles the ball out of bounds, the rule is that it goes back to the spot of the fumble. I dunno why an end zone fumble wouldn’t incur the same result. Fumbles are freak plays, unless Adrian Peterson is involved. It doesn’t make sense to punish an offense for fumbling closer to the goal line because they weren’t “clutch” about where they decided to cough up the ball. Just put it back where they fumbled it if the stupid defense is too clumsy to recover the ball properly. I prefer it when strategic aggression is encouraged in football instead of discouraged. I’m all about dudes helicoptering and trying to kill the pylon with the ball. Gimme more man-on-pylon violence.

 

Sam:

I just finished up a big bottle of mouthwash. I never use the little cup at the top. Instead I just swig out of the bottle. How much of the last shot of Listerine was just my backwash from the last few months of laziness?

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Not a ton. Backwash is a much bigger problem among children. You were taught that backwash was gross because the average preteen will leave half a quart of spittle in a Coke bottle. But if you’re a grownup who does not spend all day with your mouth hanging open like some middle school clod, I think you have some semblance of control over how much spittle you expectorate while downing a Sprite.

So keep swigging your Listerine right out of the bottle. I know I like doing that. Makes me feel like I’m Doc Holliday drinkin’ straight whiskey at the saloon. ISN’T THAT A DAISY?

 

Jonathan:

I’ve put on 15 pounds since my son was born nine months ago. How do I make it stop?

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I wish I had good advice for you, given that I dropped a good amount of weight a while back by sticking to a routine. But I’ve been trying to drop 20 pounds for a full calendar year now and I just can’t do it. Any time I make the slightest bit of progress, I go right back to eating leftover chicken nuggets and drinking straight daiquiri mix.

The easiest way to lose weight is to cut out sweets and booze and snacking, and that’s not easy if you’re stuck in the house with a kid all day and you NEED that bottle of vodka and bag of Hint of Lime Tostitos just to get by. Ergo, you will clearly have to rid yourself of the child. It’s the only way. I have made peace with the fact that I’m not dropping that weight until these kids have finally pissed off to college and taken all the Pirate’s Booty with them. Until then, it’s Fat Town for daddy. Just this morning I had to change my t-shirt because it kept riding up on me because my love handles were becoming too rotund. I got 13 years before I can really get to work on that.

 

Kevin:

Deadspin writers are justifiably worried about alien alloys. Do you think Trump would/will reveal that aliens are real and have visited the planet Earth to deflect from the Mueller investigation? If so, when will he do this?

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He won’t. First of all, I don’t think Trump gives a shit about aliens. Not only are aliens for nerds and losers, but any chance of First Contact would clearly draw attention away from him, and he can’t have that. Even if he took credit for personally discovering the aliens (and he would), Trump would eventually chafe at all the attention Supreme Leader Zorbaxxx was getting and start ripping him on Twitter. “Total failure Zorbaxxx wanted me to cut a deal so he can get back to his home planet (and said he’d do “anything” for it). I said NO! JOBS JOBS JOBS!”

Also, there is clearly a sizable group of government employees who have taken it upon themselves to leave Trump in the dark about every possible matter. They leave bad news out of security briefings because Trump is a fucking child. They try not to draw attention to their own work because Trump will just appoint a literal bulldozer to oversee and destroy their respective departments. No one in the U.S. government wants Trump to know anything, because everything he touches turns to shit. So no, Trump doesn’t get to see the precious alien alloys. He’d just end up getting his tongue stuck to them.

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Matt:

My wife and I need a new mattress, but my God are they expensive. Should a good mattress—and I’m not talking college dorm room quality here, but a decent grown up adult mattress—really cost so freakin’ much? Jesus. Are mattresses the most overpriced item per one’s expectation of what should or shouldn’t be expensive?

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I think they can soak you on mattresses because as you get older, sleep becomes both more important AND harder to come by. Personally, I need a quality mattress or else I wake up with six wrenched vertebrae. That means that nefarious spring merchants at BIG MATTRESS can really fuck me over when it’s time for me to invest in a new Simmons Beautyrest. I have no choice. All non-IKEA furniture is horribly expensive but mattresses are practically a medical expense by age 40. You know those Sleep Number beds you see advertised every six seconds? Those cost THOUSANDS. It’s repugnant. The whole mattress racket is brazenly corrupt.

Outside of that, the most shockingly overpriced item in the world remains beef jerky. I don’t pay that much for ACTUAL beef. Why am I paying extra for shit you left hanging on a clothesline for two weeks?

 

Steve:

My sister-in-law’s parents were born and raised in England and immigrated to the US prior to her being born. They had English accents, acted like they were English and did not consider themselves Americans. My sister-in-law was born and raised in the US and for some reason believes that she is English. Watches Wimbledon every year, celebrates their holidays - US holidays as well (why not!), drinks tea and not coffee… I have complained to my brother about this, but never called her out in public, should I?

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Does she rock an accent? Because then she’s going overboard. Otherwise, I’d let it slide. Your sister-in-law is an anglophile. I wouldn’t say that’s a crime, especially in America where, as St. Patrick’s Day proves, white people seize upon any opportunity in indulge in any sort of U.K./Irish cosplay. Also, I’d be a hypocrite if I dumped on her for it when I have the entire Monty Python catalog memorized. NI! NI NI NI NI NI! I remember spending a semester abroad in England and seeing nothing but pasty dudes sipping beer before 11 a.m. and quietly thinking THESE ARE MY PEOPLE. I get the attraction.

But if she has an accent, be sure to arch an eyebrow at your brother anytime she says CHEERIO.

 

Ryan:

When Vince McMahon brings back the XFL, he’s sure to outlaw kneeling. But what is the likelihood that on opening night, with the whole world watching, a nameless fourth stringer is seen kneeling as the anthem plays, and as boos rain down from the crowd, the faint strains of “Hail to the Chief” come over the stadium’s sound system, and President Trump “rushes” the field and accosts the kneeling player for the sin of “disrespecting the flag?” There’s at least a 30% chance of this happening right?

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There isn’t, because no one in their right mind would help Vince McMahon refinance the XFL. Take it from someone who lived through it: the XFL sucked. There’s a reason it lasted only a year. I would watch 100 full preseason NFL games before I watched one play of a fucking XFL game.

And what’s really galling to me is that ESPN made a 30 for 30 about the XFL directed by Dick Ebersol’s fucking kid and they NEVER once thought about that being a conflict of interest. The first 10 minutes of that stupid doc are about what a visionary Dick Ebersol was. It was a joke. Nothing about the XFL is worth remembering or reviving.

Email of the week!

Wally:

This past Sunday, I got it in my head that I was going to do some construction and build some new shelving in our garage. Maybe put up some peg board while I’m at it. I also decide to do my newly-pregnant wife a solid and take our almost two-year old daughter with me to gather supplies; our almost two-year old daughter who also happens to be potty-training. I think to myself that my wife will praise me for being such a considerate husband, a devoted father and the manliest of men by the end of the day; of this I am sure.

About two-thirds of the way through gathering materials for my project and some other crap my wife wanted from Home Depot, the two cups of coffee and chorizo breakfast burrito I had an hour earlier let me know that they are as digested as they are going to get and want out, NOW. I look down at my sweet baby girl happily riding along in the cart and realize I don’t have a fucking clue what to do with her in this situation. I figure the drive home is about 20 minutes and I’m pretty sure I’m not going to make that, so ditching the supplies and rushing home is useless. I also don’t want to face explaining to my wife why I didn’t get a damn thing I left the house for. I genuinely consider asking any random Home Depot employee to watch my child while I use the restroom. I consider just parking her outside the restroom with some lumber, wood screws, potting-soil and plastic pots. I decide both of those are good ways to end up with only supervised visitation for the next 16 years of her life. So, she’s going in with me.

Of course the handicap stall is in use, so we both cram into a normal stall. I am trying desperately to get a video to load on my phone as a distraction for her, while being fully aware that nothing says “inconspicuous” like sparkly 2T-sized slippers next to 10.5 yuppie loafers under a stall door while “Welcome to Minnie’s Bow-Tique” plays. Somehow, she is on her best behavior the whole time while I am destroying her notion of what “going tee-tee in the potty” really means. With the noise of industrious men in workboots coming and going, the flushing, the hand washing and the jet-powered hand dryer, things went better than expected. Until I was finishing up my business.

Just as I finish and am expecting the auto-flusher to bring this ordeal to an end, a perfect silence falls over the men’s room even though there are most-definitely others in there. A perfect silence except for one small angelic little voice offering the encouragement that she has been given so many times over the past two months, “Yaaaay Dada!”.

I grabbed my basket, paid for what I had and finished my shopping at Lowe’s.

Good man.