Fire Versus Wheel: Who Ya Got?

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Your letters:


More important to humanity: fire or wheel? Who ya got?

It’s fire. Without fire, you wouldn’t have the internal combustion engine, which is what makes wheels go fast. If we had wheels but no fire, we’d all be riding around on bikes like fucking NERDY BIKE NERDS. Or we would be driving electric cars on a pristine, unpolluted planet. NO, THANK YOU, SIR. And without fire, my kids wouldn’t be able to dress up as firemen! They’d have to dress up as cops, and cops are assholes.

And what about cooking? Are you telling me I could never grill meat again? Why, I’d have to subsist on nothing but steak tartare and ceviche! LIKE AN ANIMAL. We could ditch the wheels and still get around in Chinook helicopters and air boats, and the polar ice caps would melt five times faster than they’re melting now. I’ll take that if it means I can keep the gas heat in my house.


I joke, but it does seem like that fire is both the most the important thing to happen to humanity AND the thing that will end up killing us all. We have creature comforts and thriving industries all because fire allows us to burn SHITLOADS of coal and oil. It also allows us to build immensely destructive weapons. So if the global warming doesn’t kill us, the nukes will. HOORAY FOR FIRE!


Has Queen Elizabeth II ever eaten a hot dog? My wife says the answer is probably yes (just not with her hands). I doubt it though. I think a good old-fashioned American wiener is probably too common to ever present to a royal.


She has, and I have PROOF. Being royalty means you have to make public appearances and attend five-hour dinner receptions with foreign dignitaries, and you must be on your best behavior at all times. That means politely eating whatever food your host nation serves you, even when the host nation forces you to ironically slum it by eating a hot dog. You must bite into the filthy peasant dish, secretly disgusted by the idea of ingesting the leftover cow and pig trimmings that were specifically reserved for the starving, huddled masses. Then you must SMILE and nod and pretend that the hot dog isn’t polluting your very blood with its commonness. My God, is it VILE. It reeks of poor breeding. If everyone died in a plague except you and those of your lineage, the world would be a finer place, indeed.

So yeah, she’s eaten a hot dog.


I have a 2.5-year-old son and another baby on the way this spring. Out of my group of friends, I was the first one married and to have kids. I fear I am at the point where the things I have in common with my friends are dwindling, and it takes me much longer to consume popular books and TV shows than them. They all watched Making a Murderer in a day, and it took me two weeks (hiding in the bathroom a lot) to finish that addictive shit. Do I try and keep up to the KEWL stuff they are into so I can be a part of the conversation when I see them? Or do I just say fuck it, embrace being the old man in the group, and start whittling ducks out of pinewood?

The latter. You’re never gonna keep up with pop culture now, especially in the Netflix age. I hadn’t even finished Narcos (still haven’t) by the time Making a Murderer became the thing everyone was supposed to watch. Every time I knock out a show, two more must-see prestige shows get added to the fucking pile. IT NEVER ENDS. They should stop making television for a couple years so that I can catch up.

Anyway, when you start off being a father, you spend a LOT of time trying to maintain your single-guy cred, trying to continue doing all the things you enjoyed doing before the baby came along and ruined it. But you’ll fall behind no matter how hard you try, in movies and TV and even in visiting your friends. And the more you fight it, the worse it gets. At some point you just have to accept your uncoolness and allow pop culture to blow by you. I have no fucking idea who Future is, and that’s okay. I’ll be fine. I’ll get around to it.


The other thing is that, once the kids get older and more self-sufficient, it’s too late for you to become cool again. You’ve waded through 10 years of shit, and now your interests have changed. I pay attention to POLITICS now. I read books! I like to go on walks! It’s awful. I may as well wear orthotics and take laps around the goddamn mall.


My wife insists that she (we) wash new things before wearing or using them, like clothes, Tupperware, etc. Is this nonsense? I was a Marine for a long time, and we’d eat out of the dirt. I’m convinced the only things that can take me down are snot from a 3-year-old and a flu shot from Navy Medicine.


My wife does the same thing, and I actively resist. If I bring home new underwear, I want to wear it right away. I want that new-clothing rush. Once it gets laundered, it’s just part of my regular, boring clothes supply. And it’ll never be cleaner than RIGHT NOW, before it’s ever come into contact with my grundle. But she always demands to wash anything new, to get all the factory chemicals and stray customer-groping germs off. BAH, I say. BAH TO PRE-LAUNDERING. Why are we washing shit that’s already clean? That’s bad for the Earth.

By the way, my kids are even more resistant to washing new stuff than I am. If my oldest kid gets a new T-shirt, she’s not waiting a full laundry cycle to wear it. And if my wife sneaks it into the wash anyway, the kid will throw a shitfit and demand the washer be opened so that she can wear the shirt while it’s still rinsing.


FACT: Every clothing item your child wants to wear is always in the wash. Always. My kid will ask, “Hey, where’s my Minecraft shirt?” And then I go, “Well, did you look in your drawer?” And then they scream, “I ALREADY DID!” And then I realize the horrible truth. I check the washer, and the shirt is there, and I have to tell the kid they can’t wear it, and then they spend the next 30 minutes refusing to go to school while standing there stark naked. If it were up to me, we’d never wash a goddamn thing.


Surely someone has already ranked the best villain deaths. I would say impalement. Unless you include combos, and if so, it would be some wacky Rube Goldberg contraption of a death where the villain falls off a building, impaling himself, followed immediately by decapitation, or immolation, or crushing, or all three.


Well wait, let’s use specific examples to list the best villain death scenes. I grew up in the 1980s, which was truly the Golden Age of Violent Movie Deaths. Here are my top choices for the best of all time:

1. The toxic waste / car crash combo in RoboCop. I had something else at the top before our own Barry Petchesky reminded me that a dude ends RoboCop soaked in toxic waste and hit by a car.


Nothing will ever top that. I’m not even sure it would be legal to film something like this in 2016. I must have watched this a thousand times when I was a kid. I was the perfect age to watch this and be like OH SHIT THAT’S COOL AS HELL. I’m sure it had no adverse effect on my psyche.


2. The opening of the Lost Ark in Raiders of the Lost Ark. It dispatches of three truly evil villains all at once, and they all suffer so horribly that I kinda feel bad for them! That shouldn’t be possible.

3. Indiana Jones watches the strongman get chopped up by an airplane propeller in Raiders. So many good villain deaths in that movie. I didn’t even get to Indy gunning down the guy with the scimitar! And it’s all rated PG! Jesus. I’m not letting my kids watch that movie until they’re 30 years old. They’re probably better off watching RoboCop.


4. The Wicked Witch dies in The Wizard of Oz. God, the shrieking. I should be relieved when a villain dies, and yet the Wicked Witch is STILL terrifying even when she’s melting. Why am I still scared of her? Also, I don’t know how the Wicked Witch never came into contact with water previously. Does she not bathe? She must have smelled like a toilet.

5. Cohaagen dies in Total Recall. Blowing up like a balloon is why space terrifies me. Also, honorable mention to Richter getting his arms torn off in an elevator shaft. SEE YOU AT THE PAHTY, RICHTUH.


6. Hans Gruber falls off Nakatomi Plaza in Die Hard. There are a TON of movies that end with the villain falling to his death, but Die Hard is one of the few that made it memorable. Legend has it that the late Alan Rickman was dropped onto the stunt cushion BEFORE they reached the count of three, so that he would look surprised. And he did.

7. The end of The Hand That Rocks The Cradle. There’s your impalement. On a spiked fence, no less! Brutal.


8. The exploding arrows in Rambo: First Blood Part II. EXPLODING ARROWS! FUCK YEAH! USA! USA! USA! Put Vietnam back into the win column!

9. The end of Commando. “Let off some steam, Bennett!”

10. The speeder deaths in Return of the Jedi. Not the Emperor’s death or Boba Fett’s death in the Sarlacc pit, but the scene where the Scout Walker’s speeder bike gets hooked and he spins around a tree and then explodes. That was the best.


11. The end of Under Siege. The whole point of any Steven Seagal movie is to watch Seagal dispatch with bad guys in the most creative way possible, but in this movie, he just stabs Tommy Lee Jones in the top of the fucking head. Like Seagal was in the pre-pro meeting going over all kinds of death scenarios and just went, “Fuck it, I’ll stab him in the hair.”

12. Drexl gets shot in the dick. If you told me the only movie I’d get to watch for the rest of my life was True Romance, I’d be fine with that.



Who of the following have the biggest egos?

1. Actors

2. Professional athletes

3. Politicians

4. Sports journalists (mostly of the ESPN brand, they fucking love them some them)


Athletes. It’s not close. The average actor is a freelance performer who is scared to death of becoming unfamous and/or old at any moment. They’re the most insecure people in history. Tell them they got passed up for a part and they fall to pieces within seconds.

Meanwhile, every pro athlete I’ve ever seen or read about believes they’re the greatest athlete on the fucking Earth. Take any second-string guy on any NFL or NBA team and you will find an ego that has been coated in eight layers of bulletproof glass. You’re talking about the kind of guy who has dominated his opponents since kindergarten and has enjoyed all the fruits of being a big swinging dick in high school and college. Every team is a team of Donald Trumps.


After that, I’d go with sports journalists, and then politicians (who are always terrified of losing and are usually cowed into doing whatever their handlers and donors tell them to do), and then actors dead last.



I was wondering: When was the last time you cried with pain? Not talking about “howling” in agony, or getting water in your eyes, but actual weeping. I know that I’ve been hurt plenty of times in my adult life (hit in the nuts via my toddler, toe stubbage, etc.), but I can’t recall the last time I truly wept tears related only to physical pain. Have I just not been hurt enough, or is that something that gets left behind when you become a GROWN-ASS MAN?


Back pain! I’ve cried from chronic back pain—sciatica, etc. I’m not ashamed of it. I mean, if the pain is attacking you 24/7 and won’t let up and you can’t even find comfort when you lie down on the floor … it’ll get to you. I’ve cried from pain not necessarily because of the pain itself, but because of the depression and hopelessness it can cause. I’ve cried because I don’t know when the pain will stop, if that makes sense. It’s a really scary and awful thing, and I wish it on no one.

The only other thing that made me cry real tears from pain was when I pulled an abdominal muscle and it pinched a nerve in my ballsack. (WUT? Yes.) My balls ached for hours. Again, the pain was only one component of my despair, the other being WHAT IF MY BALLS HAVE DIED. It’s never strictly about the pain, per se.


By the way, you can definitely train kids to NOT cry when they get a booboo or smack their head on something every six seconds. I have a 7-year-old, and he’ll still cry if he gets a baseball to the eye and all that. But for standard bumps and bruises, I can negate a crying jag if I register no concern whatsoever. If I’m like OMIGOD YOU POOR BABY, then he’ll cry for days. But if I’m like, “Eh, you’re fine,” he’s fine! Such is the power of suggestion. WALK IT OFF, BOY. I’ll make a man out of him yet.

[Stubs toe.]

[Bursts into tears.]



Is it a dick move to ditch out on my future brother-in-law’s bachelor party? We’re not exactly friends but we’re friendly-ish. But you know I’ll be alone with a bunch of dudes I don’t know.


I think it’s fine to bow out. Chances are, it would be a relief to him anyway. He doesn’t want you there. He wants to be with his close friends so they can make inside jokes and spray each other with beer and hire strippers to beat the groom with tennis rackets. You would make all of that WEIRD. And what if you report it back to your sister? MOLE! KILL THE MOLE! Just tell him you have to go to the dentist that weekend. He’ll say NO PROBLEM before you’ve even finished with your alibi.


I own this white shirt with a blue pattern. My fiancé wrongly thinks that it looks like little swastikas and wants me to get rid of the shirt. It is clearly not a swastika, so I believe the shirt is perfectly acceptable and I want to keep it. What should I do?

Image for article titled Fire Versus Wheel: Who Ya Got?

I agree that those are not swastikas, but when it comes to swastikas, do you want there to be ANY room for doubt? I’d rather just trade that shirt in for a fine striped Macy’s Polo (thumbs up!) than walk around worried that someone might think I’m some sort of preppy SS agent.


Also, if your fiancée hates the shirt, it’s doomed anyway. Say your goodbyes now before she “accidentally” drops it into a vat of acid.


If Lebron had stayed in Miami the second time around, would he have had a better chance at winning a title these past two years? Did that decision cost him the chance at winning more?


I don’t think so, because a) Chris Bosh missed the end of last season with blood clots, and now his whole career may be in jeopardy if they’ve recurred, and B) Golden State would have probably smoked LeBron’s team last year no matter where he played, and they’ll smoke everyone again this year.

There’s not much LeBron can do about it, which is kind of funny given that, for years, a lot of older sports fans have decried NBA free agency and the sway that star players have had over franchises. Turns out they were dead wrong, and that there’s only so much one player can do, because here is one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, and he’s been rendered helpless in the face of a shitkicking juggernaut team. It’s almost cruel, because LeBron’s Finals record (2-4 in six appearances) will be held against him when comparing his “legacy” to Jordan and the like, especially if he loses MORE title matchups in the future. If he ends up going 2-6 in the Finals or even 2-7, it almost diminishes him! Not in reality, of course, but in the First Take-iverse, I can easily see Skippy Bayless dragging that stat out and rubbing it all over his inner thighs.



What’s the best team nickname in sports? Subjectively (I live in Portland), I think the Trail Blazers takes it. It incorporates cool history, it sounds cool, and it can be shortened to Blazers (or ’Zers). Prove me wrong.


When I was a little kid, I had this NBA board game that listed all the team names and logos around the court in the center. And I wasn’t really familiar with the league back then, so I used to marvel over the names, especially the Blazers (the Z makes it), the SuperSonics (RIP), and the Jazz, because Jazz was a Transformer, and because I was too young know the backstory of the nickname and why it was such a poor fit in Utah. So now, whenever I see those teams play, I still remember that game and oohing and ahhing over the nicknames. It’s amazing how long a kid can sit there staring at an object, be it a trading card or an album cover or a toy catalog. I mean I stared at those logos for HOURS.

Anyway this is all a longwinded way of saying that I agree with you that Trail Blazers was and is a fucking great nickname, and the organization doesn’t have the kind of obnoxious history that has ruined other good franchise nicknames (Yankees, etc). Any team name that fits in with local culture and customs gets my approval, except the Texans, because—as always—fuck the Texans and their stupid name.


Also, never call the Blazers the ’Zers. That ruins it.


What do we call “Cosby sweaters” now?

You still call them Cosby sweaters. It’s what you deserve for wearing one, especially if you’re doing it ironically.



For the sake of argument, should the Bulls have to remove their 72 banner if the Warriors surpass their win total?


YES. In fact, the current Bulls 72 banner is a kind of supplemental banner that hangs underneath their 1995 Central Division championship banner. It’s like they tacked it on there knowing that they could remove it one day if they ever had to.

And they should. Because if the Warriors win 73 games, then I—as a sports fan—have the right to turn my nose up at lesser athletic feats, even if those feats are GALAXIES beyond my skill set. Oh, you still want to fly that 72-win banner? Why not hang a banner for your kid’s soccer league while you’re at it, LOSERS! The whole country’s gone soft smdh. They should have to give the banner over to Golden State ,and then Michael Jordan should have to watch the Warriors burn it in front of him. NOW CRY! MAKE THE CRYING FACE, OLD MAN.



Let’s say you were given $3 million dollars to live off of, and it had to last you the rest of your life. Now let’s say you could go back in time to where $3 million was worth way more. How far would you be willing to go back to have a better lifestyle but have to give up today’s modern conveniences (and you would know you were missing out on them)? For example, you could go back to the 1950s and get a nice house probably for 75k.


With $3 million? You wouldn’t even go back one week. The Deadspin staff is all in unanimous agreement that the past was terrible and you want nothing to do with it. And $3 million is more than enough to go somewhere affordable in the flyover states and live there comfortably from now until the end of your days. Even if you lowered the payout to $1 million, I still wouldn’t go back. I grew up without the internet, you know. I know what that was like. I’m not going back, no matter how much money I stand to gain.

The only way I’d maybe even almost begin to consider back is if you lowered the amount so drastically that my family and I would be utterly impoverished forever in the present day. So if the amount was, say, $100,000. That’s a lot of money, but not a lot if you stretch it out over the course of the next 40 years. If you go back one century, that adjusts to $2 million, which is enough for you to live comfortably. In 1916. With no TV or internet or air travel, but WITH polio. Christ. Just shoot me dead on the spot. We should burn the past.



After watching this poor guy get his clackers clacked, I propose that the hockey puck is the most dangerous projectile in sports. Taking into account actual probability of being hit in an in-game situation, how would you rank them? I think the close second is a lacrosse ball.


I think hockey puck deserves the No. 1 slot because it looks like someone specifically designed it to murder people. I’m shocked our military doesn’t launch hockey pucks at enemy combatants. They could do a lot of damage. But I have different ideas about what ought to come next…

1. Hockey puck.

2. Cricket ball. Imagine playing baseball with a pool ball. They found the ONE ball more dangerous than a baseball. Why do they use this ball? Cricket people are fucking crazy.


3. Baseball. To this day, I don’t know how baseball players shake off getting hit with a pitch. I would just lie down in the dirt and die.

4. Golf ball. I’ve told this story before, but I hit my dad in the head with a golf ball once. I was hitting off the fairway, and he whizzed by in a cart, and I didn’t know it until it was too late. Knocked him right out of the cart. I nearly killed him. To this day, I still feel horrible about it. I gotta go hug my dad now, people.


5. Javelin/Discus/Shot Put. These don’t hit people often, but when they do…


Email of the week!


Recently, my wife and I decided to have a second child and were successful in the required first step of her getting pregnant. Fast forward to her OBGYN doctor visit before the holidays, where they do a screener test for some STDs, which must be some standard practice so these things don’t get passed on at birth. Directly before the Xmas weekend, my wife tells me the nurse called her telling her it was positive for Chlamydia.

It’s not technically possible for me to have given it to her, with the whole “not having sex with anyone else” thing, and had she been unfaithful, she’d have just taken the prescription for it and never told me about it. Meanwhile, the nurse essentially tries to just guilt her into just taking the meds, because it’s cheaper. You start to question everything and take paths down Google and WebMD you thought you’d never take deciding if you could actually get this non-sexually.

Fast-forward to today, and of course the retest came back negative, and the first was a false positive, obviously. I feel like those three weeks of low-level spousal suspicion both ways, plus the disease fear, are grounds for this OBGYN office owing me restitution, right?


Definitely. At least three dollars.

Drew Magary writes for Deadspin. He’s also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter@drewmagary and email him at You can also pre-order Drew’s second novel, The Hike, through here.


Lead image by Jim Cooke.