Fuck The Swear Police

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Illustration: Jim Cooke (G/O Media)

Today, we’re talking about remakes, pelicans, the drug store, assholes by position, and more.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: I’m off next week. This is what happens when you have to spend a whole month roasting every NFL team individually. It takes a great deal of man-hours to pore over the rosters, watch the tape, and come to the conclusion that Bruce Allen is a rectal lesion. In the meantime, the astonishing Clover Hope will be answering your questions while I tend to my hating duties best I can.


Okay, now that we have that out of the way, let’s see your letters:


Our Wifi was down, and I told my wife I was “futzing” with it. Then I realized I meant “fucking” with it. Made me wonder: what are the best replacement curse words? English only, since I’ll drop a “scheisse” when the moment demands.


They’re all fucking terrible. I hate them, especially when pious phonies like Bobby Bowden trot out all their GOLLDANGS and DADGUMS in order to sound folksy. If you’re gonna swear, swear. If you’re not, well then go ahead and keep the swear jar empty. Deprive yourself of catharsis and pack your emotions tight inside yourself until they come exploding out of you at any second in a profane outburst that scares everyone half to death.

Swearing is good for you. That is science. I know I use it as a crutch more than anyone in the world, but that’s better than working clean and being all haughty about it. I have small kids, and so I’ve made some cursory efforts to not say Fuck This and Fuck That when I’m around them, hence: effing, freaking, fricking, dang, dangit, JEEZ, shoot, Beaujolais (an amusing replacement for “bullshit” that I picked up from my wife), and on and on. I hate most of them, if not all of them. Sometimes my co-workers use “weenie” in earnest and I tell them that they sound like they’re auditioning to be in a sequel to fucking Juno. You can see the strain in my face when I stub my toe in the kitchen and I have to correct myself mid-“fuck.” It’s worse than the injury itself.


And then, in an act of supreme hypocrisy, I chastise my kids when they utter even non-curses like “hell” and “suck” and “shut up.” I hate this whole dance, to the point where I curse a bit more freely now that the kids are older. After over a decade of this nonsense, I’m ready to talk the way I normally talk again. It’s overdue.

The fact that we still have self-appointed Profanity Monitors in 2019 is fucking deranged. We get letters complaining about it more often than you’d ever expect, with concerned readers putting on a Sam Elliott mustache and going, “Why must you use so much profanity? It’s childish and distracts from the point you wanna make!” FUCK YOU, lady. Who died and made you principal? Lenny Bruce started swearing on stage over half a century ago. Get the fuck over it. You are waging a battle that you lost ages and ages ago. OMG I can’t believe people are cursing on the internet! Does Mother know about this?!


If you don’t respect people who use profanity, I assure you that the feeling is mutual. Americans have long needed to do a better job prioritizing what to be uptight about. You can’t drop an F-bomb on NBC, but you can buy 500 guns from a fucking tent sale. You will not banish real atrocity from the world merely by tut-tutting a “goddamn” here and there. All the Puritans are dead now. You need not honor those buzzkills by throwing down a one-star review of Goodfellas on Amazon. You’ve done nothing but tell the world you’re a pearl-clutching loser.

By the way, a long time ago I had a boss who was trying to limit her swearing, so she’d use “fruitcakin’” instead of “fucking.” Nearly snapped my neck the first time I heard her do it.



Rank, from most to least uncanny, Jim Carrey’s Grinch, Mike Myers’s Cat in the Hat, or Will Smith’s Genie from Aladdin. Related: why can’t cartoons stay cartoons?


I have not seen any of those movies, although my son once put on the Carrey Grinch at Christmas, because Netflix had it, and he despised it as much as everyone else did when it came out in theaters.

As for the recent spate of Disney live-action remakes, two of the top six highest grossing movies this year are the remakes of Aladdin and The Lion King. Both have already made more money than their respective originals. And the Emma Watson Beauty And The Beast made over a BILLION dollars worldwide. It’s easy money. Not only that, it’s easy to get approved and it’s easy to lure quality actors for that shit because few of them will balk at the opportunity to act out roles they dreamed of acting out back when they were kids. Plus, again, MONEY.


This will not be the last time you see those movies remade in your lifetime. I’m not gonna rehash the whole “Hollywood’s out of ideas!” take you’ve seen everywhere since sequels were invented. It’s not a new phenomenon, even among prestige movies (Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born was the fourth iteration of that story). What I will tell you is that you and I are stuck in a nostalgia loop, where successful material is fed into a cycle of remakes, so each successive generation gets their own version of Flubber, and then they grow old and shit out their own version of it to hook the generation after. So you end up with a blockbuster movie that’s a copy of a copy of a copy. That’s because of money, and because of a lack of imagination, but it’s also an easy way of venerating your own nostalgia and foisting it upon others.

People are nostalgia bullies. God knows I am. The second I had the chance indoctrinate my kids into Star Wars, I seized it. If they like what I like, then I feel cool and validated. As a result, they get Space Leia. It’s a problem.


There will always be room for the timeless narrative structures spawned by Homer and Shakespeare and all that. But when EVERYTHING is a 10th-generation Xerox of the same shit, seeking out new stories to blow your skull takes a lot of effort… more effort than my old ass cares to put in. In Hollywood, stories get rejected all the time because someone else at another network/studio is already doing something similar. But then you show them an original idea and they’re like, “Okay, but what else is this like, so that we can sell it?” That’s how the snake ends up eating its own tail, shitting out the tail, and then eating it again.


What would the average, unarmed person have a better chance of beating in a fight, a pelican or a swan?


A swan. You don’t wanna fuck with a pelican. Ask Barry:

The Brown Pelican is a raptor, without the stupid purple dinosaur logo… The pelican will eat as much as four pounds of fish per day, nearly half its body weight. Its bloodlust is insatiable. It wants to kill you and everyone you’ve ever cared about. Don’t believe me? Here’s a pelican eating baby ducklings. And because that’s not cruel enough, it makes their mother watch.


I know that swans are nasty creatures despite their superficial beauty, but I like my chances against one of them more than I like my chances of trying to stave off a divebomb attack from a ravenous pelican. Swans don’t necessarily come at you from above, which helps. Also, there’s a lot of neck to grab when a swan closes in. I would absolutely scream and cry and run and flail if a swan tried to ruin my shit, but if I managed to get hold of its neck, it’s all over for Swanny Poo. I would snap its head clean off. Rough world, swan.

By contrast, a pelican is 80 percent beak. I would reach out in vain to grab it by the neck, only to have my arm bitten off. I’ve watched pelicans do their dirty work in the ocean. Every time I see them, I point them and gasp in delight because they are NOT seagulls, and then I watch as they circle over some poor seabass and go for the kill. I would be that seabass in a fight. I would be a floppy, smelly wreck once in the pelican’s clutches. It’s not a comforting thought. I’d much rather meet a swan in the cctagon and ugly that bird up for prison time.



Why have NBA teams stopped throwing up last-second heaves the last few years? It’s understandable when there’s barely time to catch and shoot, but they seem to now let the clock run out when there’s a few ticks left. Did the stat nerds tell them that the chances are so low that they should just not bother and save their energy? Doesn’t this take some excitement away?


I don’t know if there’s evidence to back up your claim, but this Bleacher Report post suggests any anecdotal downturn in those attempts may be because NBA players don’t wanna drag down their percentages throwing up a heave that has little chance of going in. I think there’s probably also an infinitesimal increase in injury risk in trying those shots. Ever shoot from beyond half-court? It’s fucking hard. I know it’s riskier for someone with my build (or lack thereof) trying that shit than for Klay Thompson to do likewise, but it’s still a strain. You could tweak a lat! And then you’d feel like a real loser. So it makes sense, on a certain level, so just let the clock run out on the quarter to preserve both your body and your stats.

I hope that those heaves never get phased out of existence for good, because they’re awesome. The game could be a 30-point rout and I’m still gonna be transfixed watching a guy take a scholarship shot from three quarters downcourt. It’s like a Hail Mary, only four times a game! When it goes in, everyone loses their minds. And when it just rims out, everyone goes OOOOOOH like they just ate a bad sandwich. It’s one of those cheap sports thrills that never gets old. Avoiding them may work strategically, but it would deprive me of joy, and my needs are paramount to all others. This is all the Houston Rockets’ fault somehow.



Across all professional team sports, which single position has the greatest percentage of assholes playing it? My first thought was starting pitchers, because they’re psychopaths, but I also feel like defensive backs tend to be loud, cocky dickheads whose job is to ruin things, so maybe it’s them.


I think any position that serves as the natural lodestar of a team is bound to attract raging dickheads who relish bossing their teammates around. Those positions include…

  • Pitcher. I think Jonah’s gut answer is accurate, because so many MLB pitchers are motorcycle-Americans who love headhunting, bragging about welcoming pressure (“I live off it!”), and using their standing in the rotation to cultivate their own idiosyncrasies and fall in love with them. Also, every relief pitcher thinks they’re Ricky Vaughn. That movie is three decades old, for fuck’s sake. Disney is gonna do an all-CGI version of it. Chief Wahoo will be voiced by James Woods.
  • Catcher. You get to boss around the pitcher. Plus, you get to double as ump in practice. I knew a kid once who would casually cry out STEE! when he got a pitch on the money in warmups. That kid was a prick.
  • Goalie. Make it hockey or soccer. I don’t care. The best is when a goalie gets beaten and he immediately bitches out the defense for it. HOW COULD YOU LET THEM SCORE ON ME LIKE THAT, YOU LISTLESS FUCKERS?!
  • Quarterback. You get the idea. If the position in question draws a spotlight, it’s gonna also draw in any number of GLORY BOYS looking to bask in that spotlight.
  • Point guard. Point guards are DICKS, and not just Russell Westbrook.



I’ve got a co-worker in his early 30s who proudly mentions the 13 championships the Packers have won. But 11 of those happened before he was born, and a bunch were back from the dark ages of football. As a fan, aren’t the only championships you should be able to “claim” for your team are the ones that you can remember watching?


No. What fun would that be? If your team won something, ANYTHING, you get to obnoxiously co-opt that title as your own, no matter when that title happened to occur. And if you’re bragging about the 16 titles your favorite team won back when they were the Fort Wayne Chippewas or whatever, everyone (you included) will know your dad wasn’t even a sperm cell back when those happened. You’re clearly reaching, but the entirety of sports fandom involves bragging about shit that you, personally, never did yourself. So you may as well grab onto any vicarious accolade you can get your hands on.

I’ve met Packers “owners.” They’re not shy about doing this sort of thing, and I’m not exactly in position to mock them for it. They have the right to stake a claim to those pre-them championships, and then ladle on the insufferability by telling the origin story of THEIR fandom. “I remember the first time I watched Brett Favre throw a pick on a goal line shovel pass … IT WAS TRUE LOVE.”


I know sports fans are hilariously self-centered, but it’s even more self-centered to act like a team’s history only began when you did. That’s a Boston move. Don’t do that. Hoard all the chips in the team archive you like. That’s the RESPECTFUL thing to do. Besides, it’s not like fans of your rivals will be like, “Oh wow, your team’s legacy stretches really far back. I have no rebuttal to such a rich a lustrous heritage of excellence.”


Is there anything more insufferable than standing in line at the pharmacy? I’d rather go without heart medication than wait in line for half an hour behind two people.


I’ve been spending a lot more time in lines at the pharmacy since I suffered a brain hemorrhage, and it’s true. The line never moves, and my prescription is never, ever ready. The sheer angst I feel walking up to the guy and telling him my name is palpable. I already know he’ll say, “I don’t see anything listed here,” or, “It’s not ready but you can stand here and wait 75 minutes,” or “Your insurance didn’t approve these erectile dysfunction tablets,” or he’ll dig through the little alphabetized prescription baggies and ask me my last name 500 times before telling me nothing is there. It’s awful. From now on, I’m having all my drugs delivered TO me by one of those disruptor services. No more waiting! ALL THE OXYCONTIN I CAN EAT, BABY.


The seven deadly sins are pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. Of all the 8.7 million species in the world, only one (sloth) is named after one of those sins. Which animal should we rename after each of the six remaining sins?


Everything I know about sloths comes from playing Scrabble (the ai, a three-toed sloth, is a crucial two-letter word) and from watching Zootopia. But I did some extensive study (a Google search) and found that a sloth is named a sloth because it’s physically slow, not necessarily because it’s lazy and unmotivated. So I’m not sure it’s named directly after the sin itself, although it would be more fun if it had been. Some humorless biologist just DISGUSTED by the very species he discovered in the Panamanian rainforest. That would be cool. Anyway, let’s match up the other sins to an animal:

PRIDE: Lion. Duh.

LUST: Rabbit

GREED: The correct answer is humans, but God that’s such a dipshit view. MEW MEW PEOPLE ARE BAD MEW MEW. I guess I’ll go with pack rats instead.



WRATH: Grizzly bear. They look mad.

ENVY: Dogs. I’ve seen my dog set up camp by the dinner table, looking up at us like, “Why the FUCK do you get to eat while I get nothing?” You just ate dinner, you ungrateful sack of shit. Don’t be BUTTHURT that we get to have some enchiladas and you don’t.


Drew (not me):

When Trump dies, will his NY gold penthouse be converted into a tourist attraction? I can completely see it converted it into a far right Graceland and charging $75 bucks a head to get a selfie with his 4th string set of golf clubs.


A hundred percent yes. That will absolutely happen, only Ivanka will charge people $7,500 admission and present the whole enterprise as an upscale tour through an American landmark. All the war criminals will be invited. God, it’s gonna suck. I’ve spent the past few years waiting for this whole Trump thing to end, but it never will. It’s all gonna stick around after he’s gone: his pathetic family, his shitbag fanboys in MAGA hats, racist voters who still think he’s actually a billionaire, con artists who have no better career plan than to glom onto history’s biggest moron, etc. Everything’s just gonna keep being stupid until I die. I will pay that admission fee to walk into Trump Tower and spit on the man’s bed.


How long does it take for true old man/dad mentality start? I’m 30 and recently a father, but I find myself already complaining about taxes, turning off light switches, and running to Home Depot every few days. I thought I’d at least get a few years before I started getting annoyed about people stepping on my lawn.


I would’ve agreed with you until recently. Like, your 30s are when you start having grownup complaints and what not, but those are fairly self-aware old man takes to have. Now that I’m 42, I constantly feel like the world is evolving in ways that I don’t want it to, and anytime I mention it, it’s a helpless cause. I just get the Old Man Yells At Cloud screengrab from The Simpsons tweeted back at me 900 times.

I’m not talking about when I complain about, like, Trump. Everyone does that. I mean, like, when I bitch about people not using headphones in public, or about tinyass fonts. That’s when people are like WHATEVER GRANDPA and I realize that I’m now doomed, anytime I sit on an airplane, to hear some fucking kid watching Dora on an iPad at top volume and no one else aboard quibbling with it. THAT is when the old man mentality comes in. I feel insanely dated at times and it’s just depressing. Here I am bitching about the nostalgia industrial complex, and then I act surprised when no one else gets my Python references. It’s not a fun phase of life to experience. I wanna fight against it but I just know it’ll just end up with more Abe Simpson stills in my feed. But for real… use some goddamn headphones when you’re out in public.



Watching some big white stiffs put in garbage minutes in the NBA playoffs got me thinking how tall I would have to be to be able to play in the league, if I were at my peak athletic ability (which I am assuredly not at age 39). Conversely, how short would someone like Kawhi Leonard have to be before he was relegated to the YMCA league? I say 6'9" and 5'10", respectively. What you got?


Not a chance you make it into the NBA at 6’9”. You know how many TALENTED college guys there are that are that height that don’t make the pros? No way you make the cut before those guys get discarded. You see James Comey in the NBA? You do not.

And those NBA guys you deride as stiffs are, you now, still pretty talented athletes. Frank Kaminsky may look like a pud when he’s on the court against Anthony Davis, but he’s in the league for a reason. To make the NBA, average puds like you and I would have to be insanely tall. I say 7-foot-6 at a minimum. That was Shawn Bradley’s height, and Shawn Bradley was always, to me, the guy who gave off the strongest vibe of “ordinary guy who became a prized NBA prospect only because he’s taller than a sequoia tree.” Scouts were like, “He’s a surprisingly graceful athlete!” and no one with two eyes bought it. If you can dunk while standing, then an NBA team might show some interest. Even then, just one elbow from another front-court player would be enough to make you realize you’ve made a horrible mistake. Take it from Bradley.


As for Kawhi, I may have recency bias but I’m pretty sure he’d be in the NBA at 5-foot-10. Kawhi is a bloodless android. Height is just a number to him. Shrink him by a foot or so and he’ll still pick your pocket, nail jumpers, and treat the opposition like so much dust to brush off. If you really wanna handicap Kawhi, make him 4-foot-8. Make him a child’s height, and then he might struggle to get a job. He sure as well wouldn’t be deterred from trying though. He’s a hitman.

Email of the week!


I am now in my late 30's and the gray hair has been sneaking up on me. I feel like nobody ever tells you that it won’t just be your hair and beard. I mean, I know old grandpas have grays everywhere, but should that be happening already? I was not prepared. Can we get the definitive ranking of how much of a punch in the gut it is to find grays in certain places? Here’s my ranking from my experience (least to greatest):

1) head (it’s distinguished!)

2) beard (adds color and perceived wisdom)

3) chest hair (didn’t expect it but whatever)

4) eyebrow (pluck that baby)

5) shoulder/back (um...didn’t want you to begin with and how did you grow so long?)

6) nose (it now always looks like something is up there)

7) pubes (I feel like a young man, but my junk is now a senior citizen)

Yeah the nose hairs are VISIBLE now. It’s horrible. KIDS TODAY DON’T GET THE STRUGGLE.