Illustration: Angelica Alzona (GMG)
FunbagTime for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Got something on your mind? [Email the Funbag](mailto:funbag.deadspin@gmail.com).   

Today, we’re talking about science fiction, playoff seeding, mortadella, microwaves, and more.

Your letters:

Jack:

Have you, Drew, yet graduated to a multi-screen sports viewing experience in your humble abode? Am I crazy for setting up my living room with two TV’s, or are you crazy for NOT having done this? Just having two TV’s I can watch at the same time has been a revelation!

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I have three kids, so I’m lucky whenever I get ONE television to myself, let alone several TVs at once. If I put a second TV in my basement (which would be hard because wall space is limited down there), I would just end up playing myself: forced to watch the NFL and a fucking episode of Lab Rats simultaneously. Total disaster. I need just one TV so that my children understand that Dad won’t be allowing other secondary viewing options in the room. If they don’t like it, they can live in the street.

That said, I’m sure I would dig a multi-screen MANCAVE as much as the next bro. It makes your TV room feel like a bar, which is all that any man has ever wanted. Why, put a kegerator and a dartboard down there and it’s like you’re at O’Flanacutty’s Public Ale House! Plus you can toggle between games on multiple TVs like you’ve commandeered the Fox NFL control room in L.A.. Those extra TVs are bro trophies. I’m not above treasuring such piddly shit power moves. LOOK AT ALL MY TVS! I’M JUST THAT RICH AND POWERFUL.

But all of that conflicts with my natural dad instinct to save money, and to avoid having to mount a second TV on that wall (forgoing professional installation to, again, save money). I’m way into any house project if electronics are involved, but I’ve mounted a TV before. It sucked. I was not overjoyed by that process. Besides, I can just stream a second game on my phone if I’m that desperate. Or I can use picture-in-picture! We all love picture-in-picture, don’t we? It’s the coolest technology that 1996 has to offer!

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So I can live with one TV like a non-Rovell. One shitty game is enough for my poor, addled brain to handle.

Josh:

Please settle a debate: Is Back to the Future a sci-fi movie?

Oh sure, why not. It has science and it’s fictional. The letter of the law has spoken, good sir. The only reason that you wouldn’t consider that movie sci-fi is because it’s so well done and so popular across generations that it’s beloved by millions, and not just by a rabid slice of AICN dipshits or whatever. Science fiction often has the misfortune of being defined more by who likes it than by what it actually is. Hence: Trekkies, etc. That’s why so many creative types balk at any kind of genre “label” on their work and will insist that they’re making one-of-a-kind shit that transcends easy categorization. I really dispute the idea that my film, Tit Pinchers 3, is mere pornography. They want everyone to like their work and they don’t want to scare off people who are like, “Oh no, this movie has TIME TRAVEL. Why that’s simply poppycock, it is!”

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Robert Zemeckis, who directed Back to the Future, himself pitched that movie to studios as “a comedy-adventure-sci-fi-time-travel-love-story.” He had to add all those other hyphenates to the pitch because A) It’s accurate, and B) He didn’t want studio execs thinking it was some big fucking dorkfest of a movie with dudes in rubber alien masks. No matter. Everyone turned the pitch down anyway. The only person who liked the idea was Steven Spielberg, whom Zemeckis just so happened to know well enough to personally hand a script to. NETWORKING!

Sci-fi/fantasy is basically the default genre for franchise movies in 2019. They premiere everything at Comic-Con now, even shit that isn’t sci-fi at all. You’ll probably see a trailer for Moonlight 2: Chiron Alone at the next one. That means you’re more likely to view some big-ass sci-fi action movie as just a movie, and less as part of some esoteric niche of movies slobbered over by a cadre of mouth-breathing wastrels who circulate petitions anytime a female lead gets cast.

One of the reasons that the Star Wars phenomenon is so weird right now is because it’s a franchise casually enjoyed by tens of millions of people, if not more, but is also overshadowed by a rabid group of fanboys who think they fucking own the thing, even though Star Wars has always been a worldwide behemoth. I was way into Star Wars before it even released its first album, etc. Marvel’s got the same problem, with entitled nerds acting like they work for the fucking studio (if only getting free swag counted!). This is a tired tug-of-war that plays out with virtually everything now, with hardcore fans acting like only THEY’RE qualified enough to obsess over something that anyone can freely obsess over. And that’s annoying, because only I am qualified to be such a slavishly devoted Starwarboy. I was with Star Wars from the beginning, and so I know best.

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Anyway, Back to the Future is a sci-fi movie.

Nathan:

Here’s an idea for the NBA, NHL, and MLB. Why not let the higher seed in each playoff round select the format for home/road split? Each series gets a set number of off days and then the higher seed gets to pick when its home games will be. Assuming all the logistics can be easily ironed out, it seems brilliant.

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It seems brilliant only until you put that idea into practice and EVERY single high seed elects to frontload all of their home games because they don’t want to travel, and because they think they can sweep every series. There’s a 3% chance that some cheesy shithead in the locker room (let’s call that shithead, oh I dunno, Melvin Burant) will be like, “Guys, let’s ration out these home games in a sound and logical manner!” but Draymond would tell Melvin to go fuck himself before he even got to finish that sentence.

In fact, there’s another problem with the idea. The NFL Draft is this week, and the popularity of the Draft has prompted every league, not just the NFL, to pan for gold by turning every fucking transaction into a beauty pageant. So the NBA would absolutely make an hourlong documentary (FROM THE MIND OF KOBE BRYANT) for every team’s playoff scheduling deliberation: locking them in a green room, feeding them canned one-liners, and having them talk about how important it is to win THIS series. You’d wanna die 10 minutes into the first airing of one of those things. By the way, these documentaries would ALSO count as sci-fi. That’s Cinema 101, folks.

Justin:

If you swapped an NHL goalie and an MLB catcher, who has the better transition? For sake of argument, let’s assume the catcher already knows how to skate and the goalie played baseball at some point in their lives.

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Are we factoring in batting? Because if we are, then the catcher would have an easier time transitioning to being a goalie than the other way around. It’s not like a hockey goalie has to spend half of every game playing offense. He can just tend to goal and occasionally steal a squirt of water from a Gatorade bottle sitting on top of the net.

But that’s not what you’re really asking. You’re asking an old Reddit question: if the goalie could do a better job of just pure catching, without batting getting in the way. I’m gonna talk out of my ass—truly a rarity for me—and say probably? That goalie already knows how to catch a puck whizzing toward his face at 189 mph, and from a zillion different angles. Catching pitches seems doable with a bit of practice. True, he would have every base stolen on him. But that hasn’t stopped Wilson Ramos from holding down a job in the Majors now, has it? HEY-OOOOOOOOO. The converted catcher, meanwhile, would have to learn how to stop slap shots using not only his glove, but also using his legs, his stick, his skates, his blocker, and his dick. It’s a comprehensive skill set. I think he’d struggle a bit.

By the way, former Twins all-star Justin Morneau was once a hockey goalie and converted from catcher to first base. Also, former Calgary Flames stud Jarome Iginla (full name: Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla) was once a catcher for the Canadian national junior baseball team. These fuckers are good at everything. Meanwhile, I can’t even make a layup at a nearby playground. It’s disgusting. I’m mad now. God has no sense of balance.

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Collin:

What is the optimal number of microwave dings to signal “food is ready”? Mine at home dings/beeps three times and the one at work dings a whopping five times. I don’t think I’ve heard one go over five. What’s more important? Ding volume or ding repetition? I’d punch through the glass face of the ‘wave if it beeped nonstop until you opened the door or hit cancel.

Well then, come talk to my microwave, Collin. Because it does just that. It goes DO DO DO when the food is ready, waits roughly 30 seconds, and then does it again. It’ll repeat this process until I have finally paid it the attention it apparently craves. Fucking needy piece of shit. I have legitimately yelled, “Yeah yeah I know! Shut the fuck up!” to this microwave when it overbeeps. Does it listen? It does not. Another reason to bash its control pad in.

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So the optimal number of dings a microwave should have is ONE. You should be able to mute the dings entirely, but since Silicon Valley hasn’t conceived of such a disruption yet, I’m fine with one ding and one ding only. Chances are, I’m standing right by the microwave already, dying to fucking eat. I’ll even pop the door at the :01 mark to avoid the dings, because they’re not necessary. Otherwise, one ding is plenty. If I don’t hear it, I’ll almost certainly check back on my reheated stir fry within five seconds anyway, wondering what’s taking so goddamn long. Or I’ll forget about the food entirely and chance upon it the next time I have to nuke something. That’s a little bonus. That’s found food! Not bad. Microwaves should just shut up imo.

Joe:

If you end up drinking too much on a night when you have to be up early the next morning, which will help you feel better: going to bed immediately or staying up an extra hour drinking water?

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Go to bed right away, but chug a glass of water and pop a couple Advil before you do. Maybe you’ll feel a little better if you try to sober up for an extra hour that night, but how will that hour feel? Like grim death. Also, do you trust Drunk You to enact a hydration regimen at 2 a.m. after you just threw up into the kitchen sink? In my experience, going to bed when you’re drunk and tired is better than not going to bed when you’re drunk and tired. Unless the prospect of getting laid is somehow involved. This is why every single lush drinks until 4 a.m. You just never know!

Brendan:

I just purchased a nice pullover so I can have something to wear into work this fall that isn’t the hoodie I’ve had since college. My question is what distinguishes outerwear from just a normal shirt/sweater? This matters because wearing a jacket or a hoodie daily may be acceptable whereas I don’t want people thinking that I wear the same sweater to work every day. I’m gonna say that the presence of a zipper is a property exclusive to a piece of outerwear.

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I read this question while wearing a track jacket inside. I basically treat any light jacket as an indoor sweater now, because I’m lazy and because I need a zipper to make for easy disrobing. I shed and re-instate layers constantly because my body temperature fluctuates wildly all the time. I am apparently going through menopause. Please respect my privacy at this time. A sweater with no zipper makes it harder, by a matter of mere degrees, to remove it and then put it back on. Fuck that. If it doesn’t have a zipper, I don’t want it.

I was gonna answer your question by being literal and saying outerwear is shit you wear strictly outdoors, but that’s no fun. Here’s a better answer: do you hang the garment on a hook, or do you keep it in a closet or a drawer somewhere? If it’s on a hook, OUTERWEAR. If it’s folded somewhere, or you keep it in your to-wear pile on the floor, bachelor-style, that’s a sweater. There you go. Please ignore the fact that I routinely violate this edict, hanging my hoodies all over the house so that I can always grab one as needed. I suck balls.

HALFTIME!

Doug:

My wife and I separated about seven months ago, but we’re staying married until she gets a full-time job so she can stay on my very excellent health insurance (she freelances now). In the meantime, I’ve dipped my toe into the dating scene again, but it’s complicated. I figure being upfront about my situation early (“Yeah, I’m still legally married, but we’re pulling the trigger as soon as she gets a job with health benefits”) is better than keeping it a secret and having it blow up on me down the road, but even then, I sound like one of those douchebags who tells his side piece, “Baby, I love you, I’m gonna leave my wife soon, I promise” for months with no intention of ever doing so. Is there a better way I can frame this, or should I just dig in for a few more months of de facto celibacy?

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I think if you just tell prospective dates that you’re separated, that’ll do the job adequately. People who are separated date all the time. They probably have their own dating service: AlmostThere.com or something. I don’t think you need to launch into a whole spiel about WHY you’re still technically married to your wife. If you’re separated and you’re no longer living together and you don’t wear a ring, that’s probably good enough for some dates. If a girl doesn’t want to date you because you’re still “married,” that’s just how it is. That’s on you for living in Utah. You might attract a few other ladies who think they’re dating a BAD BOY, so it all evens out in the end. This is me vastly oversimplifying would could prove to be a complicated situation. You are welcome.

Whatever you do, don’t BRAG to dates about helping to keep your wife insured. That’s obviously a decent arrangement to maintain for your wife’s sake, but if you’re like, “I just thought it was the RIGHT thing to do” to some new woman, she’ll lunge at a waiter to get the check.

Kyle:

Should there be a time limit, with associated penalties, for self-checkout stations when a live cashier option exists? I’m thinking the process (unless the POS fucks up and you need to press the help button) should be limited to 3-5 minutes. If you aren’t done when time is up, then you can either collect your shit and go to a regular line or you can accept a “fine” that donates money to charity. I’m tired of assholes strolling up to the self-checkout with a basket overflowing with produce that needs to be individually looked up and weighed while I just want to buy my frozen pizza and be on my way.

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The obvious solution here it to create an Express Self-Checkout lane where people can only have 10 items or less and NONE of them require weighing. That way, you can pay for your package of kielbasa and six-pack of tall boys quickly and then get on with your life. I understand the karmic gratification of your proposed solution. Personally, I want everyone else in the grocery store killed whenever I go. But if you put a clock on Aunt Fanny stumbling her way through the self-checkout, she’s gonna pull an Andy Reid and completely mismanage that clock. Eighteen different layers of management will be required to scan the key and administer your desired punishment upon the woman for failing to scan a bunch of leeks in the proper time frame. It’ll end up taking even more time than the time she originally would have wasted. Supermarkets are remarkably skilled at causing such Confusion and Delay. If they installed an express Self-Checkout, they’d still fuck THAT up somehow anyway.

But they may try. I went to return a lunchbox to the grocery store the other day and behind the information desk was a chart pitting the store’s stated goals for the year against their actual performance. One of the goals was for at least half the customers to use self-checkout, but the real number hadn’t quite met that standard. It’s an extremely 2019 thing for an employer to explicitly force employees to work harder toward their own obsolescence. “Talmadge, you’re not creating enough work for the robots! No Christmas bonus for you!” In the future, your local Try N’ Save will have 37 different ways to do self-checkout and zero human employees.

Here’s a grocery story to waste your time: I went to the deli counter the other day and punched in an order for half a pound of mortadella (mmmmm mortadella) into the computer kiosk there. This kiosk exists so that you can put in your order, do the rest of your shopping, and then have your shit ready when you come back around. So I get all my other food, I come back, I ask about my order, and the dude was like, “Oh, you did a kiosk order?” I rolled my eyes and bolted, then went to a DIFFERENT store, because I still wanted some mortadella but didn’t want to give my money to the failed deli kiosk people. I walked into the new store and there was no kiosk, which I expected. Instead, there were 5000 soccer moms all standing in line impatiently. I nearly fainted. All I wanted was some glorified bologna, man. Filing my taxes was less complicated.

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Matt:

When it comes to relief pitchers having to hit - how hard do you think those guys are trying out there? And I don’t mean long relievers who come in to eat some innings. I mean the pitchers who 9/10 times come in to face one, maybe two, batters.

Are you ready for a Grantlandism? I think that those guys try by intentionally looking like they’re NOT trying. No one expects them to get a hit anyway, so they as well make it look like a lark of an at bat, and that they think that striking out is humorful. Deep down, they’re as proud and humorless as any other ballplayer. Plus, no one wants to strike out in public. It sucks! So I think the main strategy is to play it off and hope for a fluky single. That’s better than assuming a Jeff Bagwell stance and looking determined to get a hit. They’ll just end up looking even dumber that way, and the only thing that baseball players hate more than losing is being made to look dumb.

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Collin:

What does Trump call breasts? I’m trying to imagine him bragging about some woman but when he talks about her cans I’m at a loss. I think he may just call them ‘breasts’ but also idk.

Donald Trump is a spiritual byproduct of the 1980s, so he definitely uses all of the terms for boobs from around that era that I cherished as a teenager: hooters, knockers, yabahos, sweater puppies, guns, rack (but not “gun rack,” oddly), and tits. Mostly tits. Behind closed doors, “tits” is every other word out of his filthy sewer.

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By the way, this question reminded me of Skid Row’s seminal classic, “Big Guns.”

She got the big guns, pointed at my heart

Bang-bang shooting like a firing squad

Big guns, they took me by surprise

She got my lovin’ reachin’ for the sky

And Sebastian Bach really DOES sound surprised when he’s singing about the big guns. He did not expect that gal’s guns to be quite so large. Join us next year when Trump’s SCOTUS approves this song as the new national anthem. No one’ll take a knee for some big guns.

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Jeff:

Why are flour and sugar packaged the way they are? Pretty much all other foods come in tightly sealed plastic of some sort, but flour and sugar are packaged in loosely closed paper sacks that look like they’d be right at home on the shelf of a gold rush general store. Plus you cannot open these without spilling all over the counter. What gives?

Money. People are used to flour costing 50 cents a hogshead, and the reason it’s so cheap is because they package it in a fucking lunch bag. I cannot handle a flour bag without ending up looking like I ate 57 powdered donuts. It ain’t right. The other day I bought a sugar bag that had a leak in it. BOOM. 5,000,000,000,000,000 grains of glucose sand all over my counter. The worst. Sugar is impossible to clean up. I’d hate if it weren’t so sweet and delicious. CURSE YOU, AZÚCAR!!!

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You actually can buy sugar in plastic bags now, if you abhor both messes AND the Earth as a whole. I might be wrong but I still think the paper bags are cheaper. Plus, those bags stand up on their own. Nothing more fun than digging a measuring spoon down into a bag of flour and ending up looking like you fisted a pile of cocaine.

Mike:

I am not advocating for this, but let’s say you wanted to throw the result of a minor league baseball game. How much would it cost you? I think it would be cheaper than you would expect. You pick a weeknight when the crowd is small and target a couple players who aren’t moving up anytime soon, and I think you could get by with under $1,000 if it is triple-A, or maybe a pizza party and a handful of condoms for one of the independent leagues.

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Those guys are indeed insanely underpaid and therefore, in theory, vulnerable to game-fixing. Also, Nevada just legalized gambling on minor league baseball teams that reside IN that state, so I guess someone out there will take your action, even though betting $50,000 on the Reno Aces would probably set off a few alarms over at the books. But you still gotta find dudes willing to take a dive for a relatively paltry amount of money, and I legit think that ALL of those guys still think they have a shot at The Bigs, even the Crash Davis types who are washed up. This is me gutlessly trying to talk my way out of trying to pay off a minor league schlub who is so beset by debt and possibly addiction that I probably can’t even count on him to intentionally lose a game properly.

Email of the Week!

Whitney:

So I have an interesting predicament. A few years ago my wife, who did marketing for a large tech company, organized an event during the NCAA Final Four for that company and hired Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to speak and sign stuff in the suite at the game. I’m a lifelong Warriors fan, and so I grew up hating the Lakers. But this was still a legend, and I thought this was really cool, and wished her well on the trip.

But when she gets home, she hands a pristine Lakers number 33 jersey personally signed by Kareem to me! She explained that he signed a jersey for everyone there, so my wife used hers to have him make it out to me. Of course I’m super touched, but then realized I had a dilemma. Do I spend some money to have an autographed jersey of the NBA team I fucking detest framed on mounted?

On one hand it’s a jersey of one of the all time greats made out to me, but on the other hand fuck the Lakers. You’re a Vikings fan right? Would you mount a Bart Starr Packers jersey if he had signed it: “To Drew”?

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No, I would fucking burn it. Or at least, I would tell everyone I burned it, and then keep it in my single-television basement so that my wife wouldn’t yell at me for burning it. Then I would tell everyone that I owned the jersey ironically, and then everyone would totally believe me and think I was way cool for it. Yessir.