Could I Murder You With A Screen Door?

Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we’re talking about Linkin Park, Defector’s haughtiest commenters, urinals, getting punched, and more.

Your letters:

Michael:

Could the average man beat another average man to death using only a screen door as a weapon? You’re allowed to use the screen door however you’d like, except for breaking any pieces off to use as a stabbing instrument. This needs to be a blunt force or choke-out kill. Assume the other man doesn’t have any weapons and you have to use the screen door the entire time of the fight. 

That better be one well-made screen door if it’s not gonna break off into pieces of its own accord. Because most screen doors are about as well-constructed as the Carolina Panthers. They’re built for maximum flimsiness, and to smack you in the face if you dare to let it go after holding it open for longer than four seconds. We had a storm door to go with our front door for roughly the first decade we lived in our house. That storm door offered no extra protection that a regular door didn’t already provide. All it did was get in my way. God, I fucking hated that thing. I hated it so much that my wife would get mad at me for yelling at it. I was in the right, woman. That door had a bad attitude. Maybe a screen/storm door is helpful if you live on the bayou, but I want nothing to do with either of them.

HOWEVER, I’d gladly take one in a street fight. I’d probably cut my hands really bad (the edges on those doors are sharp!), but the door would still have utility. I could shield myself from at least two blows before it came apart. And then I could jab at my enemy with the corners of the door. In fact, I could channel my hatred for screen doors into the fight, taking out my frustration by using that door to hurt and/or irritate my enemy with it. I’ve fought so many screen doors over my lifetime that I know how enraging that struggle can be. If you’re telling me that I’d get to kill both Sam Altman AND a screen door all in one go, I’d have the psychological edge.

Now, you might say to me, “But Drew, the other guy would probably wrest the door away from you and kill YOU with it, same as if you had a gun.” This is likely true. But going by the hard data (that I just made up), an armed combatant has a 79 percent win probability against an unarmed combatant. It doesn’t matter if the weapon is a gun, a knife, a door, or a box of Honey Nut Cheerios. You’d always rather have a weapon than not. So if I got into a fight and had a screen door on me, I’d go all batshit crazy and be like I’LL FUCKING KILL YOU! AND THIS DOOR! GOD I HATE THIS DOOR! DIE ALL OF YOU! DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE! And then I’d roid rage my way to victory. Simple as that.

Lucas:

I come to you with a simple question: what is the best urinal design?

Full length! I’ve traveled this whole wide world and pissed on multiple continents and in dozens of countries. In that time, I have learned that there is no greater pleasure than walking into a men’s room and seeing a urinal that extends to the floor. These are urinals that were built in the early 20th century and are strong enough to withstand a Daisy Cutter blast. You can only find them in old restaurants, libraries, and academic buildings. And when you chance upon one, you must savor the aura of class that they provide. Sinatra starts playing in my head whenever I spot one. Once I walked into a bathroom and saw a row of these urinals all filled with ice over the drain. HEAVEN. I could’ve pissed in that bathroom for hours. If I ever become president, first thing I’ll do is install those urinals in the White house, if they’re not already there.

Because nothing beats a quality piss. You’ve had a long day, you’ve got a few drinks in you at a crowded bar, and suddenly you walk into a place as tranquil as a cathedral where it’s OK to stand around and hold onto your dick for a few minutes. I cherish such moments, especially if I work up a healthy stream: one of those pisses where you could power-wash a sidewalk with the force of your output. Sometimes pissing is the best.

Kristopher:

How would you describe your fear of getting punched? Nonexistent? Reasonable? Unreasonable? Asking for a friend.

Feels like there’s a bit of an implied threat at the end of that question, but I’ll allow it. Kristopher, I do not fear being punched. Sometimes I worry that a maniac who was triggered by something I wrote will track me down and shoot me dead, but that’s why I keep a screen door under my bed at night. This is America. We fear guns here, not fists.

Otherwise, I have zero fear of getting into a fight. I got in physical fights in my school years, but then I grew up and realized that I did not like them. Every guy my age had that early stretch where they got psyched up by the idea of getting into a fight, or seeing a fight break out near them. But I now crave peace. Also, getting punched sucks, so I go out of my way to avoid scenarios where that might occur.

John:

Do you think the Superman story would be better if they framed it as him being an illegal alien? Superman was able to go to high school, college and get a high profile job even though he’s not documented?

No, that would be fucking terrible. My whole life, people have tried to find new ways to make Superman interesting. All of them failed, and turning his story into an allegory about the immigrant experience in this country wouldn’t change that. We already have the X-Men if you’re looking for that angle to a comic book story, and most political allegories require a subtle touch that most writers lack.

This is why I liked Alex Garland’s Civil War, because it only vaguely alluded to our current political climate, using it to tell a story about its characters and not one about the world. Every negative review of that movie appeared desperate for Garland to make a polemic instead of the movie he actually made. I promise you that if Garland had gone the full Sorkin, that movie would have been significantly worse. It also would have left nothing to your imagination, and I’m sick to death of movies and TV shows that feel compelled to explain every goddamn thing that happens. Leave some spaces blank for me to fill in, morals included. That’s where the pleasure of watching a story lies.

What were we talking about again? Oh right, Superman. I’d much rather watch an entirely new story than an umpteenth Superman reboot. That carcass has been picked clean for decades now, and I’ve had all the superhero/space opera content I need. I’m good. I recently found out that Terrence Malick made a 2016 documentary about the birth and death of the universe, and the idea of watching that has me way more pumped than, “This time, Clark Kent is working for a crypto startup!”

Bennett:

Which U.S. President, living or dead, do you think would do the best interview on Hot Ones?

This is where I confess I’ve never watched an episode of Hot Ones. I didn’t even watch the fabled Conan O’Brien episode. Regardless, virtually every president would make a lousy guest on it. All of them would be too practiced to candidly answer the more probing questions, and all of them would pretend to be good sports about the spice level, even if they aren’t cut out for it. Trump would be an outlier in most regards here, but I got of hearing Donald Trump’s voice a decade ago. He could start a podcast that delivers nothing but exclusive Vikings news and I still wouldn’t listen to it.

By the way, I watched Conan O’Brien Must Go after his Hot Ones episode went viral and was stunned at how much I disliked it. I am bred to adore Conan O’Brien. He wrote some of the greatest episodes of television ever produced. He gave us both Triumph the Insult Comic Dog AND the Masturbating Bear. His production company optioned Someone Could Get Hurt (it never ended up being made into a show). And he got hosed by his bosses because they loved Jay Fucking Leno more than they loved him. We’re talking about a man who has accrued decades of good will, both within show business and out in the greater world.

But I hadn’t watched any TV show of Conan’s in a very long time, and that lapse was evident when I watched Conan O’Brien Must Go. It’s all Conan being on and doing shtick, which somehow subtracts from the potential comedy to be had from him visiting Norway, rather than adding to it. Turns out that when you’re a late-night talk show host for years and years, you end up acting like one all the time, in every situation. That can’t be healthy. It also prevents you from engaging with your subject in anything but a superficial way. I hate that I disliked this show, which is why I won’t watch any more of it.

On a related note, I desperately miss Insomniac with Dave Attell.

Christian:

Is it me, or is obsessing and worrying over your team’s strength of schedule and/or bracket path in the playoffs one of the most pathetic fucking things you can do as a fan?

It’s all a magnificent waste of time. In the leadup to the NFL schedule reveal, there are even podcasts where the hosts do a mock schedule. They’re dead serious about it, too! That’s fucking absurd, and I say that as someone who likes mock drafts. The schedule is the schedule and your opponents are your opponents. All of those opponents will be professional sports teams, which means beating them will be hard, whether it’s the regular season or the playoffs. You don’t win a Super Bowl because the schedule-maker accidentally gave you eight away games against DeVry. At some point, you will actually have to be a great team to do the shit that great teams do.

With that in mind, I had a revelation while watching the Timberwolves come all the way back in Denver to beat the defending champs in Game 7. I am not going to phrase this deftly, so please bear with me.

Again, I’m not a T-Wolves fan. I’ve casually adopted them during this playoff run because Ant is cool. But watching him and the Wolves smother the Nuggets in the second half of Game 7—every Denver player looked like they were trying to shoot through a forest canopy—it dawned on me that I’ve wasted a lot of time tricking myself into believing in teams and athletes that don’t have what Ant has. It’s common practice for fans of any snakebitten team to tout their belief whenever that team shows a pulse. “BILLieve,” and what have you. The idea, at least in my mind, is that if you and every other fan pour enough belief into that team, then they’ll fulfill the destiny you’ve sketched out for them. You will get karma on your side if you will it.

But when you have a team like the 2024 Wolves, you don’t need any of that bullshit. No legit team does. Their championship mettle is self-evident, which means that you don’t have to spend the entire game praying to God, or waving a magic towel, or only pissing in your lucky urinal. Your team doesn’t need your help. They’ve got this, and their confidence (not cockiness) naturally rubs off on you. If they lose, it’s not because you didn’t cheer hard enough, or because they’re cursed. They got beat, but everyone knows they’re still legit. That’s the difference between wanting your team to be great and knowing that, competitively speaking, they already are.

HALFTIME!

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Kevin:

I was impressed by your apology to the commenter you called a pile of shit, but it got me thinking about how prissy the comments are now. Been reading since OG Deadspin and am curious how much of this change you find positive, versus grating self-policing?

Sometimes our commenters get a little big for their britches. That’s a natural byproduct of a site where people have to pay for the privilege of commenting. Those who pony up will feel more entitled in that instance than if they were commenting on just any other random website for nothing.

So I’m not gonna chastise our Pals down in the comments for the times where they’re all jockeying to be the rightest guy in the room. Instead, I’m gonna tell you what makes me WANT to read what they have to say. I love reading their best jokes. I love it when they open up and talk about their own lives and things they’ve had to deal with. I love it when they have professional insight to offer, and not just legal shit! Our comment section once included more than a few horror stories from people who either worked in VFX in Hollywood or knew secondhand details. When I write something, I have to keep the audience in mind. I say to myself, “Hey wait, is anyone gonna want to read this shit?” That’s true of commenting as well. You’re free to be an asshole down there, but promise to entertain me while doing so.

And don’t be a tight-ass. Like this guy:

Jamie:

I’m from the same town as Bill Watterson, so I couldn’t help but notice you casually mentioning that The Far Side was a better comic strip than Calvin and Hobbes, and I was wondering—just from a visual perspective—is it difficult going through life with a complete lack of spatial awareness? Like, if you’re over there comparing The Far Side to Calvin and Hobbes, do you just look at, like, Wizard of Id and think, “Wow, check out Caravaggio over here?” Have you applied for any sort of disability assistance and described your affliction as kind of like face blindness, but with all lines, shapes and just really everything related to aesthetics in general? Gary Larson himself has openly acknowledged that he can’t draw for shit. I actually loved the Far Side, but holy fuck is that a terrible take.

You see? This is the kind of shit I have no interest in reading. I liked one comic strip more than the other. You’ll live.

But we’re not quite done with the aggrieved emailers. Here’s one more:

Connor:

Come on man, Linkin Park is quite literally everything you like about Electric Callboy except more angsty. As someone who clearly has his fair share of angst, I think you need to give them another chance. We’re of different generations, but fifth grade me is upset with you for this terrible take. Linkin Park’s not Zeppelin. But for mainstream rock bands in the early 00s, this was about as good as it got.

Well that’s the problem. I hated pretty much every mainstream rock band from the ’00s, save for QOTSA and some of the Nu Garage bands (Strokes, etc). This is 100 percent a generational thing. I grew up with Metallica and GNR, and therefore ended up comparing every subsequent band’s output to those two. Also, I’d already encountered rock and hip hop fused together thanks to “Walk This Way,” which was the first hip hop song to reach the top five on the Billboard album chart. And I was already a fan of Faith No More, who did rap/rock a hundred times better than any of the butt rock bands that arrived in their wake.

So there was nothing new about Linkin Park to me when I first listened to them. If I were 15 years younger, I probably would have worshipped at their feet. Instead, they’re one of a handful of nu metal bands—Korn, Limp Bizkit, Marilyn Manson—that I personally associate with the death of rock. This is because I’m older than you, and likely nothing more. So I’m happy to agree to disagree on this one.

As for the angst part, the reason I love Electric Callboy is specifically because they DON’T traffic in angst. That’s where saying they’re “quite literally” the same as Linkin Park metaphorically falls apart. After Nirvana broke, angst became a commercial asset, with thousands of bands all trying to capitalize on a perceived demand for it. I count Linkin Park as one of those fake angsty bands. That’s not fair at all, given that lead singer Chester Bennington died by suicide in 2017. But the ’90s wore me out on bands that did angst for angst’s sake, and the modern internet is even more tiresome about its infinite hangups. I need some sunshine in my life. Electric Callboy gives me that.

But I’m not gonna fight you about it. Not even if I get to use a screen door.

Vince:

Last week you mentioned that your kids work in an ice cream store. If they were my kids, I’d hint strongly that dad was interested in a free quart of chocolate chip mint. Do your kids surprise you with samples?

Only the oldest one works in the ice cream store, and she gets one free scoop per shift. She saves those scoops exclusively for herself. Our freezer is littered with single plastic cups of various ice creams that I’m not supposed to eat. It’s total horseshit.

(She does let me sample the goods if I ask nicely, and the coffee Oreo that her joint makes is 100 percent legit.)

Andrew:

Could you beat Steph Curry in a game of 21 if he was wearing a full suit of medieval armor, including the helmet?

No.

Chris:

Drew, you’re like 6’3″, right? And while I know you were a benchwarmer, you were still a college athlete. My question has two parts: 1. Have you ever dunked a basketball? 2. If you could dunk on any basketball player, past or present (or future, if you really hate some big-time high school prospect, I guess), who would you choose?

There was a brief, lovely time in history where I could touch rim. I could never dunk, but I could grab the rim and hang off of it, which is actually quite painful if you do it for longer than half a second. Once I grabbed rim, I figured it was only a matter of time (and working out) before I could finally dunk the ball. I also thought I could get down to a 4.5 40 if I trained hard enough for it. I think you know how both those efforts turned out.

But if I’d actually been able to live my dream and dunk the ball, there’s only one person I’d choose to posterize above all others: Larry Bird. Suck on these nuts, you sun-starved cavegoblin.

Andy:

I was scrolling TwiXter the other day and came across Tucker Carlson interviewing Tucker Max, who I had not heard from/about in many years, but in his age has now become a far-right, pro-gun, Doomsday Prepper. I must say I was a bit surprised to see the Duke Law Grad, South Beach local, “Father of Frat-tire” turn into a fringe conspiracy theorist, but I guess the misogyny in his stories from ~20 years ago might have been a red flag… Who else would you be surprised to see put on a tinfoil hat? 

Are you really THAT surprised that Tucker Max became a MAGA chud? He’s a Duke Law grad. You said so yourself. Also I met him once and he was profoundly unpleasant. All of the signs were already well in place, which is alarming because Tucker Max was (ugh) one of my earliest blogging influences. I loved him, Maddox, Bill Simmons, and j from Mulletsgalore. All of the OGs. In hindsight, heel turns from the two most famous guys on that list weren’t all that shocking, and I’m sometimes annoyed with myself that I once found them kindred spirits. But some of us grow up and some of us don’t, and that’s just how shit goes.

Also, my answer to your question is Emma Stone.

Mark:

It’s Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in overtime. Team A clears the puck towards Team B’s goal. Team B’s goalie goes to get the puck and, while under no defensive pressure, casually and purposefully turns around and shoots the puck into his own goal giving Team A the championship. How does the NHL handle it?

They’d immediately issue a statement saying that the end of the game “concerned” them and that they’ll be “monitoring” the situation. Then they’d “discover” the goalie was deep in hock to FanDuel, and fine both him and the company $50,000.

Email of the week!

Chris:

In the spring of 2014, I had a plane ticket to Pensacola, FL. When I purchased the ticket, the plan was for my girlfriend to pick me up at the airport and take me back to Gulf Shores, where she was vacationing with friends. By the time the trip arrived, we had split up, so I had no itinerary whatsoever.

On top of being heartbroken as well as going through a prolonged custody battle, I had just accepted a new job and given my notice to my current employer. So I decided to take the trip solo and figure it out as I went. I had no hotel, no plans, nothing. I packed four days’ worth of clothes in a backpack. When I got off the plane, I walked out of the airport and took a direction toward downtown Pensacola. Seven miles and a couple of wrong turns later, I arrived at a nice local inn, where I spent the first night.

The next day, I set out for Pensacola Beach, which was nine miles away. Part of these nine miles was the aptly named Three Mile Bridge. As I was near the midpoint of the bridge, I had a moment of clarity where I looked out over the water and thought, “I’m at peace. This is nice.” I reached my destination: a shitty beachfront motel with a bar and grill in the parking lot. I spent the rest of the trip either at the bar or in a beach chair, living on a steady diet of Cuban sandwiches and fruity rum drinks, and at no point was I as happy as I was when I was walking those sixteen miles the first two days.

It was the first (and to this day, the only) spontaneous trip I’ve ever taken by myself, and I’ve been chasing that high ever since. I still have a vivid memory of being on the bridge and feeling at peace.

Well shit, now I wanna go walking on bridges.

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