What Is History's Greatest Toy?

Time for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. Today, we're covering zoo animals, football goaltending, and more.

Hey, I'm on vacation next week, so there won't be a Funbag on Christmas Eve. You'll just have to spend your day with your family, which is awful. I apologize in advance.

Your letters:

Jason:

I learned there is a National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester, NY. Each year they have a list of nominees for induction. This year's list is pretty impressive. I really could see all of them being inducted.

My question is; what is the GOAT in terms of toys? What is the Jim Brown or Wayne Gretzky of the toy world? I would think Legos have to be up there, but something as simple as the Teddy Bear has stood the test of time for over 100 years. Toys like Pogs or Wacky Wall-walkers would be like a Christian Okoye in the toy world - a one-year wonder that could never hold up.

According to the website, there are 53 toys in the Hall of Fame, and the list of inductees is pretty damn impressive: the Slinky, the Etch A Sketch, Barbie, Play-Doh, a stick, etc. I love that they inducted a stick ("Children find sticks an endless source of make-believe fun. Sticks can turn into swords, magic wands, majorette batons, fishing poles, and light sabers."). And the HOF wasn't so snobby that they included only analog toys. The Game Boy is in there, as is the Atari 2600 (but not the original NES—what the fuck?). Board games like Scrabble and chess were also inducted, as were playing cards. Are those toys? I guess they're toys. I hope Amarillo Slim got to do the induction speech for playing cards. There's also a blanket inducted, which is fucking weird. That's DEFINITELY not a toy.

Anyway, the Greatest Toy of All Time needs to fulfill a few criteria. It should be relatively affordable. It should be fun as shit. You should never have to replace it. Everyone should like it. And it should never get old. That rules out the bicycle, which needs to be replaced as you grow, and newer shit like TVs or the iPad, which is now easily the most popular toy in the world but is designed by Apple to be obsolete within two years of purchase. LEGOs are out because they're a fucking nightmare to all parents. I've spent so much time picking up LEGOs (you will never scrounge up every last piece) that I want the box thrown into the ocean.

I think the winner is the television, if you count that as a toy. I count it as EVERYTHING. "Teacher! Mother! SECRET LOVER." Otherwise, I'll go with the humble ball. If we're being specific, we can just go ahead and make it a miniature Hutch football, because that shit NEVER gets old. Plus, you could throw it into a volcano by accident and it would survive. HUTCH FOOTBALL WINS. I would rank the best non-TV toys of all time like so: 1) Ball, 2) Bike, 3) Computer/iPad/iPhone, 4) NES, 5) Dildo.

I find this list of inductees endlessly fascinating but there are some glaring omissions. Here are the Marvin Millers of toy HOF snubs:

  • Tyco Train Set (Lionel trains are in there, but those are for grownups and everyone knows it)
  • Baseball glove
  • Television
  • iPhone
  • Snoopy Sno Cone maker
  • Slip 'n Slide
  • Sega Genesis
  • Ice skates (roller skates are in the HOF but ice skates aren't, which is horseshit)
  • Transformers
  • Squirt guns
  • Burnin' key cars
  • A box
  • Bill Simmons's fragile ego

Those are all fun to play with. By the way, Tim Marchman points out that the worst toy of all time is the doll your kid is supposed to breastfeed. That ain't right. My choice was Gak, but even Gak can't top that shit.

Matt:

In watching the record-setting 64-yarder by Matt Prater last week, I couldn't help but notice how close to the crossbar the ball came. If you were the Saints, for example, would you stick Jimmy Graham back there and try and swat the ball before it crossed the plane of the goal post? In other words, do NBA rules apply in that you cannot block a kick after it reaches its apex?

The excellent Chris Brown of Smart Football addressed this question four years ago, and it turns out to be an illegal play. A few years back, Packers wideout Randall Cobb, back to return a David Akers field-goal attempt, tried to block it. He whiffed and Akers's attempt hit the crossbar. But if Cobb had succeeded, he would have been flagged for "goaltending," just like in basketball. That's a 15-yard penalty.

But it gets weirder in college football. In college, if you send someone back there and he blocks the field goal and the ball flies out of bounds, the result is a SAFETY. Juh? And if your guy catches the field goal before it sails over the crossbar, it's LEGAL. I don't know if you can then return the ball after catching it, but you may as well because everyone would be so impressed by your catch that they would forget to tackle you.

Now, those are the rules, as arcane and arbitrary as they may be. But I think you SHOULD be able to goaltend a field goal. You'd be rewarding a fantastic display of athletic ability and timing. It's not like basketball goaltending, which is relatively easy for a center. If field-goal goaltending were legal, it would still only happen once in a blue moon, if ever. So why make it a penalty and ruin it? The NFL should always err on the side of NOT having things be penalties, because penalties ruin everything.

Kevin:

What would happen if a football player was carrying the ball and got his leg ripped off before scoring a touchdown? Would the touchdown count or would the runner be down where his knee hit the ground, even if it's not connected to his body?

One severed knee equals two feet, amigo. They don't take pity on you and gift you a touchdown for hopping to the endzone with one leg and a bloody stump. BUT THEY SHOULD!

Tony:

Has the first person to live 150 years been born yet?

Famed scientist and bearded man Aubrey de Grey (I met him and he was kind of a dick!) has publicly said that the first person to live to 150 has already been born and that the first person to live a thousand years will be born sometime in the next two decades. I do not believe this, mostly because I don't want to get my hopes up and then end up being REALLY annoyed that I died at age 79.

But the real reason I don't believe in functional immortality happening soon (even though I wrote a book about it ****PLUG SIREN****) is because miraculously extending the human lifespan tenfold is something that probably takes a REALLY long time to figure out. It takes money and ambition and it will probably require you to file all kinds of insurance licenses and patent forms, and then the fuckers at Pfizer will sue you and be like OH YEAH SORRY NO WE HAVE A COPYRIGHT ON THE AGING GENE LULZ. And the insurance industry will be like YOU CAN'T CURE AGING THEN WE WON'T MAKE ANY MONEY OFF OLD PEOPLE SEE YOU IN COURT. There is so much bureaucratic red tape and political horseshit that miraculous scientific discoveries probably get buried every day. Because people are assholes.

There are certain limits to biology and chemistry and physics that we can never overcome. We'll never invent a spaceship that travels faster than the speed of light because physics won't allow it. We'll probably never figure out cold fusion because, again, physics (I think it's physics?) won't allow it. And those limits may exist in biology as well. Doctors know next to nothing about how the brain works, so good luck figuring out how to keep that shit functional for a millennium, no matters how many nanobots you inject into the back of your neck. The reason de Grey makes these kind of predictions is A) it makes for good copy, and B) it gets people to think bigger about shit, which is good.

By the way, you people with Google Glass: YOU ARE NOT CYBORGS. I know the reason you wear Google Glass is so that you look like a cyborg, but you are not a cyborg. Real cyborgs make fun of you at cyborg dinner parties.

Chris:

Does time of conception matter? Does it affect how a fetus develops? Say, if I were conceived a split second earlier than I was, would I look different?

Oh, totally. If you had been born a second earlier, you would have had blond hair and green eyes and been a foot taller. You would have gotten into Harvard and NEVER been arrested for possession of animal barbiturates. You would have married a fine woman named Sheryl, heiress to a North Carolina shipping fortune. And you would have had three wonderful children, all Rhodes Scholars.

But nooooooo, your parents had to lollygag and fuck at the exact wrong time. And look at you now! Sitting a computer with no pants on and emailing stoner questions in the dead of night. Oh, what could have been.

Seriously though, I don't think it would have mattered.

Katie:

How long do you think it takes the average person to become comfortable enough to discuss their bodily functions at work? I'm in an office of about 10 people. Someone is always sharing a little too much when it comes to pooping and other gastrointestinal issues (i.e. gas, constipation, hemorrhoids).

Just this morning my colleague that's been here for about two months looked a little sick. I asked him what was wrong and he informed me that he's pooping every five minutes. Did I mention I'm also his supervisor? Does that change things?

Welp, at least you'll be in no danger of sexually harassing him any time soon. I think it completely depends on the friends you make at work. I used to work in an office and there were some people there I knew for years whom I wouldn't even give my fucking phone number to if I didn't have to. But then some asshole guy my age could show up and be my friend right away and we'd be talking about poop within two days.

I think that you can figure out your average office worker within about two months of his arrival, at the latest. In other words, it takes roughly two months for everyone at the office to see past their initial "I'm gonna be nice to everyone and work long hours to impress everyone!" thing and know who the new guy really is: a misanthrope, a wiseguy, a humorless prick, etc. Once you have him figured out, you'll know if poop talk is an option or not and adjust accordingly.

Ben:

What would you rather have as a super power? The ability to will anybody on TV to break out into any porn scenario of your choosing, or have the ability to fly? As a follow up, if you sampled a 1000 men, what is the porn versus flight ratio pre and post Modern Family?

I like Modern Family, but I don't watch it much anymore because I'm afraid Julie Bowen will crawl out of the television and eat me. She's mildly terrifying.

Anyway, most guys would still take the flying option. It's not as if your pornographic choices—as it stands today—are limited. If you need to see Sofia Vergara in a hardcore threesome, you can find plenty of nonunion Mexican porn equivalents online to seal the deal. Men are very greedy about nakedness. They see one naked woman and then they're like, "But I wanna see that OTHER girl naked!" Take your flying superpower and be happy with the nudity that you have. It's the smart play.

HALFTIME!

Spenser:

I just got done eating a club sandwich from a restaurant, and as usual, the top of my mouth is destroyed. Regardless, I'll be ordering another in the near future. Give us the ranking of food that's worth the pain that will inevitably occur later.

One time my wife made rouladen, which is a German dish of thin beef rolled up with bacon and pickles and cooked in sauce. It's awesome. Anyway, she forgot to tell me that she used a toothpick to hold the rolled beef together, and I take VERY large bites of food when I'm excited. So I stuffed one in my mouth, bit down, and damn near pierced my soft palate clean through. It was like eating a rabbit trap. So watch out for toothpicks in club sandwiches and beefy German dishes.

Anyway, your undisputed king of painful foods is the first bite of pizza. No man alive can ever wait long enough for it to cool down. I will be burned again. Honorable mention to Five Guys french fries. They're so hot they'll burn you through the fucking bag.

Chris:

Those of us who have had the pleasure of working in BIG CORPORATE AMERICA are all familiar with the Out of Office email explanation to the full staff before going on vacation. Without further comment, I now present the best out of office message ever, sent this morning at my DC marketing firm:

"I will be out of the office tomorrow Friday, October 18 as I will be competing with my BBQ team, 'The Thrill of Hickory, The Agony of Mesquite' at a BBQ competition in the mountains of VA. I will have little access to the outside world, but will be back bright and early on Monday morning."

I never believe people when they say in their little vacation auto-reply, "I will have limited access to phone or email." You're not going to the moon. You know damn well you're gonna have your phone on you and it will be operational. Your auto-sig should say, "I'll have email and phone access but please don't bother me with work shit or I'll fucking kill myself."

Anyway, that's a fine vacation out-of-office message, until your colleague comes back and forgets to turn that shit off for eight days. Then it's the worst thing ever.

Also, every time I get a group email from someone that requires some kind of mass reply, there will always be one dud address in the chain, triggering the rage-inducing MAILER DAEMON DELIVERY FAILURE auto-email that no one on Earth likes. I'm gonna block this thing. I don't wanna know if my email never made it to someone.

Alex:

It's not uncommon at my office to grab some to-go sushi from a nearby joint and eat said sushi at one's desk for lunch. As anyone who's done this knows, the difficulty is in balancing the plastic top of the sushi tray on the edge of the bottom plate so as to create a little reservoir for soy sauce dipping. This week, while walking past a coworker's desk, I see her tear open the Kikkomen packet, and simply pour it over the sushi. Is this totally inappropriate California Roll technique?

I do it all the time out of sheer laziness, especially if I don't have a little dish nearby to mix the sushi and ginger and wasabi paste into a bastardized sushi dipping sauce that would make some Tokyo-based foodie grit his teeth in outrage. I'll pour the soy sauce on the sushi, wipe some wasabi on the top, and go from there. I've spilled enough soy sauce in life to know that those packets are death. Soy sauce should never come in tear packets. Ever. It's like asking for dry-cleaning fees. (By the way, the restaurant soy sauce dishes aren't much better because they are all TINY. Why are they so fucking tiny? I want a gallon of soy sauce on each piece. This is America. Don't limit my sodium intake.)

A couple more things about those lunchtime sushi trays. First off, they are always disgustingly overpriced. My sticker shock for grocery-store sushi knows no bounds. I always want the jumbo tray with all the sashimi tastefully arranged around a chilled lobster head, but then I see the price of $35 and I skulk away with an $8 tray of tuna/avocado rolls. The markup must be insane.

Secondly, if you're gonna pour soy sauce right on the sushi, it's best to do it one piece at a time if you can deal. The longer the piece sits in the soy sauce, the more likely it is to fall apart. Oh, if I had a nickel for all the times I had to go fishing through a tiny little bowl for shards of eel. Why, I'd have enough money to buy a tray of salmon rolls at Whole Foods, I would!

Sean:

Do you hear someone's voice in your head while you read or does your brain just synthesize the words? I ask because I hear a voice reading aloud what I'm reading and the voice changes depending on the author/character/subject.

Yeah, but it's a flitting thing. I dunno about you, but when I read a book, I can kinda hear characters' voices and see characters' faces, but they aren't fully formed. You can see and hear the IDEA of them, if that makes any sense. It's like seeing people in a dream; the picture isn't always 100 percent crystal clear. Your thoughts are ghosts. This is why people get all pissy EVERY TIME they find out about casting for the movie version of their favorite book. People are like, "That's not Christian Grey!" No shit, lady. That's because no one is.

Eric:

Me and a few friends we're talking at a bar the other night about how much more awesome challenge flags would be in the NFL if you could combine both of your challenges and get a 5th down. You go for it on 4th at the end of the game, the opposing team gets the stop, but then no, no, no, you throw both your red flags and then bam, one more try and you punch it in. Do you go the whole game, no challenge, knowing you can have one extra chance at the end of a game if you're down by say 3, or do you blow your load on challenges in the first quarter, a-la Jason Garrett? Christ Andy Reid would save them every time, and then probably eat them.

As fun as it would be, I can't get on board with any rule change that makes the game MORE complicated. Like, football is already insanely complicated, to the point where I still can't explain it properly to any of my family members without feeling like an idiot. The NFL is already considering centralizing its replay system (with replay officials in a command center ready to relay calls to on-field officials), and my hope is that the change will end the challenge system for good, because it shouldn't be a matter of strategy to get a ref to un-fuck a bad call. They should have the courtesy to un-fuck it for free.

If you're gonna give people a bonus fifth down that they can exhaust at any time, I would make it its own thing, and not tie it to the challenge system. You get that fifth down to use any time you like, and then Andy Reid runs a fifth straight fullback dive at the goal line and everyone starts throwing iceballs.

Nick:

I volunteered at the zoo recently (cute girls, animals, its fun), and worked with elephants. The head trainer lady gave me the whole lowdown. To be certified to train these magnificently intelligent animals is a huge process, obviously, so there's like 86 total certified trainers worldwide, and 1 dies every few years. Horrible statistics. She personally knew several people who have been killed. The trainer has to be accepted as a pseudo-leader of the herd, and if you accidentally upset delicate herd hierarchy, they'll turn on you and crush your head like a grape.

But they seem so gentle! Who knew the largest land-based animals on Earth could end up harming you? By the way, let's rank the animals at your standard zoo, right now:

1. Elephants

2. Gorillas and other assorted primates

3. Polar bears

4. Giraffes

5. Rhinos

6. Zebras

7. Anacondas

8. Tarantulas (behind glass PLEEZ)

9. Kangaroos

10. Tigers

11. Alligators

12. Bigass tortoise

13. Lions (wayyyy overrated)

14. Birds

Birds are dumb. Ever go to a zoo with really common animals hanging around, like chickens? I don't need a chicken here. Get that chicken to a Bojangles.

Geoff:

Ever had one of these friends or acquaintances who "don't get hangovers" no matter how much they drink? These people are totally full of shit, right?

They are. What they usually mean is that they know how to fend off a hangover: Advil, lots of water, no sweet cocktails, etc. You get more knowledgeable about preventing hangovers as you get older (and as hangovers worsen), but that doesn't mean you're some superhero who magically never gets them.

Email of the week!

Michael:

I was a little bit sick during one of the many parties I attended during college. It was a medium-sized kegger at an old, one-bathroom house in a Big State University town, and one of my best friends was one of the guys hosting the party. But being a little bit sick is not something that stops one from partying on a Saturday night in college, so party I did. After many beers and shots and several blunts and bong rips, the rumbling started. However, as I mentioned, there was only one bathroom at this house. There was a line about eight people deep when I looked into the hallway. Not only would I not have been able to wait until it was my turn, but there were hot women around, and you don't really want to be the dude who completely destroys the bathroom.

Thinking quickly, I went to the rather large back yard and casually walked past all the smokers on the patio and made my way unnoticed to the other side of a shed at the back of the yard. I knew this would be an explosive experience, so I completely removed my pants and boxers and threw them a safe distance away, crouched down and unleashed a semi-liquid stream of unholy hell onto the grass and dirt below. By FAR the most voluminous bowel movement of my life to that point, and since. I needed a little bit of cleanup but had not thought that far ahead when I went into the yard, so I just used my boxers and left them there.

I resumed partying without incident. But the next morning, being a brain-dead male college student, I got the urge to go check out my work — I couldn't see it the night before in the darkness. I just wanted to see how big it was. And, well, I was impressed. Picture a thick cow patty about a foot wide next to a shitty pair of boxers. If this were the everyone-has-a-camera-on-their-phone era like it is now, I'm sure I'd have a picture to share, but alas, I don't. I told my buddy about it a year or so later and he said he discovered the cow patty and shitty boxers when mowing the lawn not long after the party, and even then he was too impressed to be angry. College, man.

Drew Magary writes for Deadspin and Gawker. 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 new book, Someone Could Get Hurt, through his homepage.