Here we go with another round of Question Time, in which I answer queries submitted by readers. Without further ado:
What is the significance of the 7 in the Uni Watch banner logo?
The 7 under the magnifying glass represents a closer look at uniforms. We used 7 because it’s one of my favorite numbers. (It’s also used on my membership card.)
What is the official NFL rule on how many pairs of pants a team can wear during a season, and was it amended as part of the new contract with Nike?
To my knowledge, there is no such rule.
If you could be any kind of tree, what kind of tree would it be?
A sugar maple, because my leaves would look especially beautiful each autumn.
What was the driving force behind the each of the Big Four pro sports leagues consolidating its uniforms under a single manufacturer?
Interesting question. For those who are too young to remember, it wasn’t all that long ago — the late ’90s — that MLB uniforms were made by two different companies (Majestic and Russell Athletic), NFL uniforms were made by three different companies (Puma, Adidas, and Nike), and so on. But then each league began bringing all its uniforms under one manufacturing umbrella, which is the situation we have today.
Some of this, I’m sure, is to ensure consistency of product for retailing, and a more efficient supply pipeline for same. It also reflects the consolidation of league operations on other fronts. At one point, for example, every MLB team had its own web site design; now they all use the same web template.
There may also be financial advantages to negotiating a uniform deal with one company, as opposed to splitting up the pie among several companies. But I don’t know enough about that to say one way or the other.
I’ve wondered about these embroidered wool squares (approx. 12″ x 12″) since I purchased them about 10 years ago at a Goodwill in St. Cloud, Minnesota, for a buck apiece. I am unsure of their origin. Do you know anything about them?
Wow, those are nice! Never seen those before, unfortunately, so I can’t speak to their origin or purpose.
Why is Wisconsin one of your favorite places?
Sometimes you’re in a place and it feels Just Right, and that’s how Wisconsin felt to me when I first visited it in 1996. Specifically, I like the landscape (lots of rolling hills and inland lakes), I like the three Bs (beer, bowling, and bratwurst), I like frozen custard, I like the state’s progressive heritage (Milwaukee had four socialist mayors in the 1900s, although Paul Ryan and Scott Walker are doing their best to undo that legacy), and I especially love the way small-town Wisconsin life revolves around the local tavern. Wisconsin taverns tend to be family places, with grandma kibitzing in the corner and kids often running around, along with dad nursing his fourth beer. Wholesome yet divey — I like that duality.
I realize it sounds a little funny to say, “I like this place because of its bars,” but Wisconsin’s tavern culture is a big part of the state’s identity, and I really enjoy that.
Also: I like the accent.
Did you read Julie Powell’s book that followed, Julie & Julia? Any thoughts on her “internship” at Fleisher’s?
This question refers to Julie Powell, whose early-2000s cooking blog, called the Julie/Julia project, was the basis for a book, which in turn became the basis for a movie. Powell’s second book, called Cleaving, is about, among other things, her butchery training at Fleisher’s, the upstate butcher shop where I’ve taken courses (and for which I briefly blogged last year).
I think the Julie/Julia concept was pretty fucking brilliant, and I respect the fact that Powell did the full-on butchery training (I only did a junior version of what she did), but I’m not a big fan of her writing style. I read a few online samples of Cleaving when it came out, which was more than enough for me to be able to tell that I didn’t want to read the whole thing.
If a football player legally changes his name to a corporate sponsor such as Pepsi, should he be allowed to wear that name on his jersey?
I think every player should be able to wear his legal name on his jersey, whether that name is Johnson, Ochocinco, or Pepsi. (The wisdom of changing one’s name to Pepsi is a completely different question.)
If you had the power to give any city a professional team in any sport, what city, sport, and why. Please expand on this as you see fit with a team name, logos, or colors.
I’d have every league add a team in Honolulu, just to see how much chaos it would cause with travel schedules and viewing habits. I’d leave the name, colors, etc. to others, however.
If you were given the opportunity to redesign one team’s uniform for each of the Big Four sports leagues, which teams would you do, and what would you do?
The teams most in need of redesigning are clearly the Padres, Bengals, Kings (NBA), and Stars. (Yes, I rated the Avs lower than the Stars in the Uni Watch Power Rankings, but the Avs just need some tweaks, not an overhaul.) But I’m not a designer, so I’m not proposing specific changes — sorry.
Why did some NFL teams like Washington and Cincinnati have jerseys with several different number fonts at the same time back in the 1980s?
Several NFL teams had inconsistent numbering protocols in the 1970s and ’80s. Quality control wasn’t as stringent then as it is now, and sometimes it had to do with some jerseys being numbered up at the factory and others being numbered by the team’s local sewing shop.
During women’s college lacrosse games, I sometimes see the refs stop play, take a stick from one player on each team, hold each of them up individually to his eye like he’s looking through the scope on a sniper rifle, and return them to the players. What is going on?
I have no idea.
If you could live anywhere else in the world, and do anything else as a profession, would you?
For the most part, I can live anywhere. There’s nothing keeping me in Brooklyn — as long as I have an internet connection, I can be a freelance writer from pretty much anyplace. I guess there are fancy, expensive places to live that would be beyond my reach, like the South of France, but I tend not to like fancy places anyway.
Like most New Yorkers, I have relocation fantasies (mine tend to revolve around upstate, Chicago, Wisconsin, and New Zealand), but I’ve never come close to acting on any of them, in part because I hate moving and in part because I genuinely like where I am.
As for my work, I’m extremely fortunate to make a living by writing about things that interest me. Doesn’t get any better than that, so I’m happy to say I don’t have any fantasies about getting a new profession.
How do you have the discipline to get your work done at home instead of watching TV all day? Also, don’t you get lonely working by yourself? Do you ever go work at a coffee shop or something like that?
Working at home isn’t for everyone, but I find it suits me. I like my apartment, I like having the cats around, I like being able to lie down for a quick nap, I like being able to run errands around my neighborhood, and so on. I occasionally miss the camaraderie and collaboration that come with a traditional workplace, but I sure don’t miss commuting, stupid meetings, lame-o small talk in the elevator, worthless memos, office politics, etc. After 16-plus years of working on my own, I think I’m now pretty unemployable in any conventional sense — can’t imagine going back to an office.
As for the need for discipline, people ask me about that all the time, but I really like my work, so it never feels like a chore and it doesn’t take any discipline to get it done. If anything, it sometimes takes some discipline to stop working.
Daytime TV has never interested me (well, unless the Mets are playing a weekday afternoon game). I used to listen to music for most of the day while working, and I still do sometimes, but in recent years I’ve found myself shifting more and more to the radio, because I’ve found that I prefer to hear a live voice. I guess it makes me feel a bit less isolated.
I never work at a coffee shop or any other off-site venue (unless I’m traveling or something like that). Frankly, it has never occurred to me to do so. Like I said, I like my apartment, so I’m not necessarily looking to escape from it during the day. (Working at home does make me a little itchier to go out at night, however, so I try to do that.)
For a while you were showing only the first part of each new entry on the home page and then we had to click “Continue Reading,” and then you stopped doing that. What’s the deal?
We tried that format for a while because some of our advertisers were getting pushed waaaay down the page, so we wanted to keep them a bit higher up. But the “Continue Reading” link proved to be very unpopular with readers, plus there were things I didn’t like about it myself, so we scrapped it and went back to the old format. But we may have to make up for it by making a different advertising-related adjustment soon — stay tuned.
How often do you go up to Bristol? Do you see the “famous” ESPN people when you’re there?
I find myself in Bristol about twice a year, usually for editorial meetings or planning sessions of some sort. It’s a little less than a three-hour drive, and I always stop at Blackie’s for a hot dog. Usually I’ll stay the night at a local hotel (ESPN picks up the tab for this), because I hate having to do a long-ish drive both ways in one day. Earlier this year I decided not to spend the night and tried to scoot home, but I ended up rushing and got a speeding ticket. Serves me right.
As a freelancer, you often don’t know the faces or even the voices of the people you work with, so I always enjoy getting to spend a little time with my editors and, especially, with the other writers. Also, it’s good to meet the copyeditors, photo editors, video editors, and other support staffers who help make our work look good. This makes me feel a bit more like I’m part of the family, so to speak. (Back in the 1990s, when I wrote for a bunch of different New York-based magazines, I always loved the annual holiday parties, because that was when I’d get to meet everyone. But then budgets got tighter and they stopped inviting freelancers to the parties, and then many magazines stopped having holiday parties altogether. So now I rarely get to know the staffs of the places I write for, which I find disappointing both personally and professionally.)
The ESPN.com offices are on a different floor (and maybe in a different building) than the TV offices, so I almost never see any of the TV talent during my Bristol visits unless I’m attending a company-wide meeting. Occasionally we’ll have lunch at the company cafeteria and someone will point out one of the TV bigshots, or maybe an athlete will be visiting, but that’s about it. While I have plenty of respect for what the TV people do, I’m not particularly star-struck by them, so I don’t really care about seeing them. I’m more interested in seeing the people I work with.
Does ESPN ever limit how critical you can be of manufacturers, teams, or players in your articles on their site? Or can you say pretty much whatever you want?
ESPN, like any media outlet, has certain standards and rules. We’re never allowed to make a joke regarding an athlete’s injury, for example, and we can’t criticize other sports media outlets (so my Wayne Hagin rants couldn’t be published on ESPN). And of course there’s certain language I use here on my blog (“douchebaggery,” say) that won’t fly on ESPN.
Also, sometimes my editors and I will butt heads over certain content. One time, for example, I did a column on uniform misspellings, and I wanted to include the now-(in)famous photo of the Nigger Island baseball team, because the guy in the center of the back row has “Ilsand” instead of “Island,” which has always struck me as a perfect example of “Stupid is as stupid does.” But my editors felt the photo would be too inflammatory, so I wasn’t allowed to use it.
But I’ve never been told to tone down my critique of a uniform, a team, or a manufacturer. Never.
If the Vikings reversed their color scheme and swapped what is now purple with what is now yellow (ahem, “gold”), and vice-versa, would that make for a better uniform?
I don’t think so. Although we all know how I feel about purple, I don’t think color is at the root of the Vikings’ problems. The problem is the ridiculous pants piping, the ridiculous side panels on the jerseys, and the rounded number font. If they went back to their classic look, that’d be fine. I’d still be annoyed by the purple, but that’s who they are. At least then they’d look like a football team, not like a bunch of clowns.
I was wondering what your setup is like for all of your work. Do you bring a camera with you? (If so, what kind?) Are you taking notes by hand, working directly into a computer? What kind of computer are you working on? Do you use things like Evernote to catalog information? What program do you use to do the actual blogging?
I do my writing on a Mac desktop computer and a MacBook Pro laptop. I switch back and forth between them at my apartment depending on my mood, which room I feel like working in, etc. I sync my files with Dropbox.
I do all my writing in Microsoft Word. For this blog, I copy/paste the text into the site’s back end (which runs on WordPress); if I’m writing something for ESPN or some other venue, I just e-mail the Word file to my editor. Either way, I include all the HTML coding within the text.
For photos, I have a basic point/shoot model — a Canon PowerShot SD 850. For video, I used to use a Flip, but now I’m more inclined to use the video function on my PowerShot or on my iPhone.
I’ve always been terrible at taking notes while interviewing someone (I find that taking notes distracts me from the next question I wanted to ask, and asking questions distracts me from taking proper notes), so I usually just record the interview and transcribe it later. For this I use an Olympus digital recorder, which is about the size of a pack of gum. I hate transcribing the files — like, really hate it — but such is life.
I’ve never heard of Evernote, which I’m sure says much more about me than it does about Evernote. I imagine there are all sorts of useful software and hardware tools out there that I know nothing about, mainly because I work by myself at home. If I were in an office with lots of other journalists, I suspect I’d be exposed to lots of useful apps, techniques, and so on, just by osmosis. This is probably the worst aspect of working at home.
I loved Beer Frame. Any chance you’d ever do another issue?
For the uninitiated, Beer Frame: The Journal of Inconspicuous Consumption was a zine I published from 1993 through 2000. It was mostly about picky little details of consumer culture; if you’re curious, you can see a bit of the material from the project here.
I stopped publishing Beer Frame because I felt like I’d said most of what I had to say on that front — the project felt like it had run its course. Every now and then, though, I’ll come up with a very Beer Frame-ish idea that I want to pursue. This happened just a few weeks ago, in fact, and I’ll be telling you about it shortly — possibly as soon as tomorrow. I doubt I’ll ever do another issue of the zine, though.
Are Uni Watch members who find themselves in the NYC area permitted, allowed, encouraged, or restrained from stopping by the Uni Watch HQ to say “Hello” and “Thank you” in person?
My address is in the book, so I can’t stop someone from showing up and ringing my doorbell. Nobody’s ever done that, although several people have said, “I’m coming to town — maybe we could meet up for a drink?” Sometimes I say yes, sometimes no, depending on my mood, my schedule, etc. In general, I’d prefer that people check in with me first instead of showing up unannounced. But if you think you’re the kind of person who could turn a pop-in visit into a spontaneous little adventure, then give it a shot. Worst that can happen is that I’ll show up at the door with a harried look on my face and tell you, “Sorry, I’m busy.”
You said you go for a bike ride every day in Prospect Park. What kind of bike do use?
I ride a Trek 7.5 FX (mine is sort of a faint gold/nickel color, not black). I purchased it from former Uni Watch bench coach Bryan Redemske, who now manages a bike shop out in Omaha. He gave me a price break on the bike and shipped it to me, and then I had it assembled by a shop in my neighborhood.
How do teams decide/are allowed to wear the name of a city, state (Minnesota Twins) or region (Carolina Panthers)?
Good question. Sometimes there are legalities involved. When the Marlins got their new stadium built, for example, they had to agree to change their name to the Miami Marlins. But I have no idea why all the Twin Cities teams are called Minnesota, or how the Florida Panthers got their name. Perhaps some Uni Watch readers will fill us in.
If you had the opportunity to play any professional sport, at any level, for any team and any position, what would your choice be?
I’d pitch for the Mets, natch. And given the current state of their bullpen, I’d probably be an upgrade.
How much longer do you expect to continue on the uni beat?
A lot of that has to do with ESPN. My current contract with them runs through next March, but there’s a one-year option, which they have to exercise or decline by mid-December of this year. Assuming they exercise it — which I hope will be the case — I’ll be doing this at least through March of 2014. If they decline the option and cut me loose, I might have to find other things to do starting next spring (although I’d like to think I could hook on at a place like Yahoo Sports or SI.com).
But for the sake of argument, let’s assume there’s some demand for my uni-centric services (whether from ESPN or from elsewhere). Like many people, I tend to think in terms of five-year plans. My current hope is that I will no longer be writing about uniforms five years from now. But a lot can happen in five years (or five days), and we all know about the best-laid plans of mice and journalists, so we shall see.
Do you think any colors, other than black and purple, are overdone in major pro sports uniforms? Are there any colors or color combos you’d like to see more of?
Red has clearly been overused in recent years, and gray is way out of control on the college level. If someone said too many teams wear blue, it’d be hard to argue with that, but blue is such a good color for uniforms — tough to blame people for using it.
I’ve argued for years that green is underused. That’s especially true in hockey and basketball. (I understand why it isn’t used as much in baseball and especially football, since it would blend in with the field, but I’d still like to see more of it.)
Why do you insist on using words like “shit” and “fuck”? Don’t you know profanity is for lazy writers?
Tell that to Stephen King, Bill Shakespeare, and just about every other great writer — they all used profanity. The whole thing about profanity being for lazy writers is a useful fiction for junior high English teachers to tell 12-year-olds, because you don’t want a bunch of junior high kids cursing all the time, but that’s all it is — a fiction. (You know what’s a much better example of laziness? Parroting clichés like “Profanity is for lazy writers” without thinking them through.)
The fact of the matter is that “shit” and “fuck” and the like are perfectly fine words that have their uses. I wouldn’t want to use them in every sentence (and I don’t), but they’re part of a writer’s toolkit. They can provide emphasis, humor, outrage, mockery, and so on. Employed judiciously, there’s nothing wrong with them.
Of course, your definition of “judiciously” may differ from mine, but that’s life. I often try to write in a way that mirrors the way I speak, and I sometimes use words like “shit” and “fuck” when I’m talking, so I also use them when I’m writing. Simple as that.
I remember the post you wrote the day after President Obama was elected. You mentioned wearing your brother’s class ring [in the second graf]. What is the significance of this ring?
My brother Henry died of cancer when I was 23 (he was 35). I miss him a lot. One of the things I got after he died was his class ring from high school, which is the same high school I attended. When I want to feel close to him, I’ll take out the ring and wear it for a day, or a few hours, or whatever. I wore it when I attended Game Five of the 2000 World Series, for example, because I know Henry would have enjoyed seeing a Subway Series here in New York. And I wore it on Election Day in 2008, because Henry would have been amazed to see a black man on the cusp of being elected President.
When my father died in 2009, I got his class ring from college, and I sometimes wear that as well. Oddly enough, I don’t know what happened to my own high school ring (which had a green stone, natch) — I lost it somewhere along the way. And I never got a college class ring.
What are the five best food-related team names? I vote for the New Berlin (Illinois) Pretzels.
Any such list has to begin with the Montgomery Biscuits. After that, everyone is far, far behind.
As a Brooklyn resident, what’s your opinion on the Nets’ move to Brooklyn and their chance of taking a nick out of the Knicks’ fan base?
Although I’m strongly opposed to the new arena, I’m into the idea of Brooklyn having its own team. Should be interesting to see how the Knicks/Nets dynamic evolves. There are definitely enough fans in the city to support two teams, and I think the rivalry (if one develops) will be good for both franchises.
You’ve mentioned that your back-yard smoker is a Big Green Egg. I’ve been considering getting one, but they’re pricey. Are you happy with yours?
Let me tell you a little story about my Big Green Egg: Back in 2003ish, I was doing a story on outdoor cookery. In the course of my reporting, I asked several manufacturers if they could send me a “loaner” grill or smoker, so I could test them out. Many of them agreed to do so. So a truck would show up with a grill or smoker, some workers would set it up in my back yard, I’d use it a few times, and then I’d call up the company and they’d send a crew to pick up the grill and take it away. (Yes, the perks of food writing are often better than the perks of uniform writing.)
One of these products was a Big Green Egg. I used it, was impressed by it, gave it a positive review in the article I was working on, and then called the BGE PR guy, with whom I had the following conversation:
Me: Okay, I’m done with the Egg — you can send the truck around to pick it up.
PR Guy [sounding somewhat flustered]: Okay, uh, hmmm. I’m not sure where the truck guys are this week. Let me see what I can set up.
Me: No rush. Whenever it’s convenient.
PR Guy [still sounding oddly put out]: Yeah, uh, okay. We’re just really busy with a lot of stuff at the moment…
Me [sensing an opportunity]: You know, I, like, used it and stuff.
PR Guy [after long pause]: You know what? Just keep it. Keep it and enjoy it. And when you use it to make great food for your friends and family, just tell them what the product is called.
And that’s how I came to acquire my Big Green Egg — because its manufacturer was too lazy to come get it.
I love my Egg. I have the Large size, which was the biggest size they made back then (they’ve since added an X-Large size). Yes, they’re expensive — I believe the Large retails for about $900 — but it’s worth it. I realize that’s easy for me to say, since I didn’t pay for mine. But if lightning struck my Egg tonight and reduced it to rubble, I’d go out and buy a new one tomorrow. That’s how much I like this product.
One postscript: In the fall and winter of 2006 I was dating a business journalist. At one point, during a fun road trip to Atlantic City, I told her the story of how I acquired my Egg, and she gave me this long, finger-wagging lecture about how it wasn’t ethical of me to have accepted a freebie. I explained that I didn’t ask to keep the Egg — they just didn’t want to come pick it up! She insisted that it was still unethical and then started in with this passive-aggressive spiel about how she used to cover the Gap and Old Navy, and they’d send her all this free clothing but she’d give it all to Goodwill (i.e., she wasn’t just a more ethical journalist than me, she was also a Really Good Person), blah-blah-blah. This was turning into a serious buzzkill for our road trip, so I finally said, “Look, when I cook all sorts of delicious food in the Egg next summer, you don’t have to eat any of it, okay? Problem solved!” She gave me this sort of annoyed look, but at least that brought the subject to a close and we went on to have a fun weekend.
We broke up two months later, well before summer cookout season began. Just as well.
Where, or how did you hone your cooking/grilling skills? Was it trial and error, or did you learn from someone? Also, your grilled meats look exceptional. Are you getting them from Fleisher’s?
With occasional exceptions, my meat comes from Fleisher’s, yes.
I was lucky enough to grow up in a house with an excellent cook: my Mom. I learned a lot from her, at least regarding indoor cooking. For grilling and smoking, though, I’m mostly self-taught. Over the years I’ve read a lot about meat and how to cook it, so I’ve become pretty proficient. And I was a food writer for several years, so being handy with food was sort of part of my job. In general, I think food is fun, so I like to experiment with recipes, do impromptu blind taste tests, and so on. If you do enough of that, you eventually get reasonably competent. (Of course, I don’t usually post photos of my failed experiments or things that don’t turn out so well, so the photos I do post may paint a somewhat artificially rosy portrait of my skills.)
Why do you think the NFL’s uniforms suffer from what I’d call the biggest lack of creativity among the Big Four pro leagues? I understand the need for large numbers and names leaves little room for other elements, but you never see anyone go out on a limb and do something like a “tequila sunrise”-style jersey or even Oregon’s wings on the shoulders. I’m not saying those examples are necessarily good design, but the NFL always sticks to the basics.
The NFL’s business approach has generally been very, very conservative. And that makes sense, because NFL owners are, for the most part, very conservative businessmen (I mean this in the business sense, not the political sense) who come from old money. Interestingly, the closest thing the NFL has to an “outrageous” owner is Jerry Jones, but his team will never change its look. If it did, the whole state of Texas would secede from the NFL or something like that.
It’ll be interesting to see if the league’s affiliation with Nike eventually results in uniforms that break the mold a bit. I think it’ll probably happen with a few franchises, but so much of the NFL ethos is rooted in old-school verities, and so much NFL mythmaking reinforces those verities (the “Voice of God” from NFL Films, e.g.). Remember how I once said that some teams are like Coke and some are like Pepsi? If we extend this analogy to leagues, the NFL is definitely a Coke league, while the NBA would be a Pepsi league. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
What was your favorite USFL uniform?
Honestly, I can’t even remember a single USFL uniform without looking them up. Which I guess means I don’t have a favorite.
I notice that you can dig up any pic, old or current, rather quickly. How in the world do you keep track and archive all your pictures?
I’m actually a terrible photo archivist. I keep running groupings of a few specific photo categories, like photos of Dave Parker’s masks. But I should have done much more of this over the years, and I regret not having done so. Fortunately, I’m a pretty sharp Googler, plus I’ve learned where to look for certain types of things. But believe me, there are plenty of instances when I’m looking to find a photo of a certain phenomenon and can’t find it. Very frustrating!
There are two types block “2” numerals. Do they have specific names?
Probably, although I don’t know what they are.
Sometimes somebody in the comments section will be debating with you about something, and you’ll say they’ve presented a “straw man argument.” What does that mean?
The short version is that I’m accusing the other person of having responded to an argument that I never made in the first place (which happens all the time in the comments, much to my frustration). For a somewhat more detailed explanation, look here.
I have a (probably idealistic, or maybe quaintly naïve) notion about intellectual debate being a logic-based enterprise that can help reveal higher truths. So I tend to get impatient with straw man arguments, apples/oranges comparisons, faulty premises, and similar missteps. If you look back on most of the comment debates in which I’ve participated over the years, you’ll find that I usually take issue with people’s logical reasoning, not with their specific positions on the given issue. That’s because I believe we can’t even get to the specific positions until we’re discussing the issue on logical grounds. This tends to annoy the fuck out of people, because most people would rather debate from a position based on emotion (plus nobody wants to get into a debate with Mr. Spock), but I don’t know any other way to debate things.
Did it drive you nuts that the kids on the 1980s Saturday morning TV show The Baseball Bunch wore jeans instead of uniform pants?
Never watched that show (I was older than the target audience), so I don’t know anything about that. But maybe they didn’t want to alienate kids from poor areas who didn’t have access to full Little League uniforms.
Is there a term for vertical wording on a football uniform’s outer thigh?
Not that I’m aware of. We should come up with one — the floor is open to nominations.
Do you find yourself being recognized in public by Uni Watch readers? If so, what are the best and worst experiences you’ve had with readers?
This tends to happen every two or three months (most recently when I went out with friends to see Redd Kross, and a reader approached me after the set to say how much he liked Uni Watch). Everyone has always been extremely polite and respectful about this, and I’ve always been flattered and even humbled by the whole experience.
Earlier this year I was walking down my block on my way back from the supermarket, and a Uni Watch reader recognized me and said hi. The unusual thing is that this reader (whose name I no longer recall, unfortunately) was just in town for the weekend, visiting a friend. In fact, he’d never been in Brooklyn before. And on his very first day in town, he bumped into me. Pretty funny.
You’ve mentioned that you don’t want kids. What’s up with that?
It’s hard to explain a lack of enthusiasm for something, but let’s just say that parenthood has never pushed my buttons. I have no issues with kids per se (although I freely admit that infants do absolutely nothing for me), but I’ve always known that I didn’t want any of my own, even back when I was a kid myself.
I’ve come to believe that this is sort of like being gay or straight: You’re born with it (or without it, as the case might be). In my case, I just don’t seem to have the gene for parenthood. And I’m fine with that — raising kids is one of the most important things a person can do, but it’s certainly not the only important thing, and I enjoy the freedom that a child-free life allows.
Most of my friends don’t have or want kids either. No surprise there — childless people tend to find each other socially, just as parents do.
What’s the strangest question you’ve been asked during Question Time, even if it was too strange to be answered?
Oooh, a meta-question. I think the one about the tree takes the cake.
That’s it for this time. We’ll do another round of Question Time soon.
This macaroni delivery truck and the family that owned it are the focus of my latest feature-length Permanent Record article on Slate. This one is different from the other Slate articles — it starts with a report card but isn’t really about the student. I think you’ll like it. Here, take a look.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Jon Jay of the Cardinals is still wearing those argyle socks. Here’s a short video clip of the Cards’ broadcasters talking about it (big thanks to Matt Larsen and Scott Bumb). … Here’s the second installment of that two-parter about the guy who designed the Knicks’ logo. … Interesting article about NYC businesses that still show the Twin Towers in their logos (from Matthew Weidner). … In a related item, I neglected to see what the Blue Jays did for Sept. 11. Turns out they wore the American flag on one side of their cap and the Canadian flag on the other (big thanks to Alec Jokubaitis for filling me in). … Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson, New Jersey, which I wrote about two years ago, may now be designated as a National Historic Landmark (from Dave Rakowski). … The lengthy profile of President Obama in the current issue of Vanity Fair includes the following passage from the article’s author, Michael Lewis: “I’d asked to play in the president’s regular basketball game. … I hadn’t the slightest idea what kind of a game it was. The first hint came when a valet passed through bearing, as if they were sacred objects, a pair of slick red-white-and-blue Under Armour high-tops with the president’s number (44) on the side” (thanks, Kirsten). … “On Friday, when Mexico played Costa Rica in World Cup Qualifying in Costa Rica, they wore black,” says Ryan Burns. “On Tuesday night, the same teams played, this time in Mexico. While Costa Rica wore the same uniform, Mexico switched to green, white, and red. The announcers on the Univision broadcast mentioned the change in colors, noting that it was unusual as of late for Mexico to wear the green, that they’ve started to like the black, and that fans seem to prefer the black. They also said CONCACAF, the continental governing body, has the final say in the uniform teams wear. If true, I applaud them in this case.” … Humboldt State’s marching band is known as the Marching Lumberjacks, complete with a hatchet-wielding band leader (from Tom Mulgrew). … There are stripes, and then there are stripes. That’s the Stillwater (Minnesota) High School Ponies, from 1943 (big thanks to Scott Kneeskern). … The Celtics’ locker room nameplates pay homage to players who’d previously worn the player’s number. “Yes, even Chris Mihm,” says Jeff Israel. … Louisville football is adding two memorial helmet decals for university donors/boosters Owsley Brown Frazier and Bernard Trager (from Matt Dowell). … UConn is letting individuals — mostly alums — sponsor classrooms (note the apostrophe catastrophe). “For now, only individuals can do it,” says Gregory Koch. “But with many rooms currently without sponsors, it worries me that we’ll go down a slippery slope and I’ll have class in the Dunkin Donuts room 226 next year.” … Good photo and info regarding Illinois’s new merit decals (from Mike Harrell). … Matt Berning notes that a new Phoenix Suns logo (and maybe a new wordmark) is currently appearing on the team’s web site. … Yesterday I mentioned that Pitt was using merit decals shaped like little old-school Pitt helmets. Turns out they’re not merit decals after all — they’re to honor the team’s heritage. Here’s a much better view of them — pretty awesome (my thanks to Daniel Dingerson and Jon Gillis for setting me straight). … “The movie All the Right Moves, which was shot in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, is 30 years old this week,” says Doug Keklak. “To help celebrate, my alma mater, Greater Johnstown High School, is shelving their normal black and pale blue for the black and gold of fictional Ampipe High.” … Hawthorn, an Aussie football team, has inked a five-year deal with Adidas, thereby ending a relationship with Puma that had lasted three decades (from Leo Strawn Jr.). … Warren G. Harding High School — “one of Ohio’s longtime powers,” according to Larry Bodnovich — has some throwbacks on tap. … Tarleton State’s football team has some very odd uni numbers (from Craig Bettis). … Today’s entry in the reverse-engineered Gowanus All-Stars set list is the awesome “Girl on the Billboard” by Del Reeves: