Welcome to the latest installment of The Triangle’s mailbag, The Bake Shop, in which we try to serve up piping-hot answers to your most burning questions. As always, you can submit a question or observation to us by e-mailing email@example.com. Onward!
Q: I have a 3 year old daughter and a 1 year old son. We live outside of Boston. As a native of upstate NY, I like the Yankees, more because I hate the whole Boston-underdog b.s. than because I like the Yankees. Am I a sexist because I don't care who my daughter cheers for but I bought my son NY Yankees and NY Giants clothing?
— Russ C.
Bakes: I love how this question took a sharp turn and veered right off the road. It reads like an LSAT problem as written by Eminem: "If Billy is taller than Margaret and Jack, and Margaret is taller than Richard and Anna, but not Sam, and Sam is the same height as Billy, which came in handy when Billy murdered Sam in cold blood for the love of Anna and then drove around wearing his clothes for a week while chain-smoking, will the dry-cleaning bill cost more or less than the cigarettes?"
Here's the thing. I'm biased, of course, as someone who spent much of the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLII on the phone with her equally-freaking-out dad. But because the Bake Shop is a judgment-free zone, I won't give you a hard time for depriving your dear, sweet daughter, who I'll bet loves and looks up to her daddy more than anything in the whole wide world, of the unique and lifelong connection that develops between two people who love the same teams. It's no sweat; she might not even grow up to like sports, and she'd probably want to antagonize her little brother by hating his teams even if she did.
But I will say this: If she doesn't learn about team colors or history or the best rooting interests from you, she could well end up getting it — quite literally, I'm sorry to say — from some Masshole named P.J. Denihan who will think that buying her a too-small Alyssa Milano-brand bedazzled Red Sox babydoll T constitutes an appropriate Valentine's Day gift because hey, babe, that's the day that pitchahs and catchahs repaht. From there, it's really only a short step toward becoming Blake Lively's character in The Town, and from there, Amy Ryan's in the very appropriately titled, in this case, Gone Baby Gone.
A far better scenario is for you to just go ahead and dress her up like a little Tom Coughlin. It'll have the added benefit of driving all the boys away.
Q: It goes without saying that if Brooklyn gets the Islanders that they need a new name although BK does have Coney Island That said, if the Islanders move to Brooklyn and play in the new Nets arena, what are some better names? My tentative nomination is a nod to the Nets' owner and Russian hockey powerhouse: Brooklyn Dynamo.
— Dan S.
Bakes: There's really no way I can do any better than that. I thought this discussion of proposed Brooklyn NBA team names was as good as it got, but yours fires on every possible cylinder.
However, I do have one additional suggestion: In a nod to the Isles' unfortunate "Fishsticks" era — and, by the way, despite being a Rangers fan, I actually own one of those jerseys, and I have zero idea why or how (I assume it was some sort of present from a confused family friend) — the team's new logo could be this terror of the sea, a "shark-looking creature" producing strange, squeaky sounds that was caught by Russian fisherman in 2007 and posted on YouTube. (The accompanying song sounds like something out of the movie Drive.)
Unfortunately, the fisherman decided to eat the foul beast before "ufologists and scientists" could ascertain what it was. "One of the men said that it was the most delicious dish he had ever eaten," reported Pravda. The same could probably be said by most Isles opponents.
Q: Should Steve Carell have won an Emmy for his work on The Office?
— Justin W.
Bakes: Yes. Carell took a character that could have been caricature and turned him into a fully dimensional human being who could alternately make you adore him, despise him, identify with him, or — if you're a sap like me — even cry for him. Think about what he has to do just with his facial expressions alone to play that part. That he was shut out for five years is, in my opinion, almost worse than The Wire constantly getting snubbed, because he's part of a middlebrow show that has broader Emmy-level appeal. I'm convinced that Emmy voters don't actually watch TV and just had Big Bang Theory name recognition because they watched for free on an airplane.
Q: After reading this article on the NJ PD, then noticing that every actress who has hit 30/40 now looks better then they did when they were 21 and finally that any actor can go from weighing 150 soaking wet to 210 and looking like a starting LB for the New York Football Giants for a roll, it got me to thinking why are athletes the only people who seem to be punished for doing steroids/PED's? If the inherent risks are so bad then why are the only people judged in pro sports / Olympic athletes and praised in the rest of the world? Should steroids be allowed in sports?
— Stephen H.
Bakes: "Looking like a starting LB for the New York Giants" might not be the highest of compliments, but thank you for making me realize the provenance of Madonna's biceps. I also just spent the past hour Googling "celebrities hgh" and boy oh boy that was fun. Say it ain't so, Mary J. Blige! You are terrifying, Carrot Top.
You'll notice that most of the sports at which people express/feign outrage about PEDs are those with measurable and achievable records that can be specifically reached or bettered because of the drugs — your baseball, your track and field, your swimming. In contrast, if I were to tell you that guys on a soccer or basketball or football or hockey team were doping, you'd probably say "duh" and move on. HGH might help your recovery and/or help you bulk up, but it's not going to put the ball through the hoop or make you a more accurate passer. I think that's why, by and large, no one really talks or cares about what those athletes are putting into their bodies — if they did, we'd probably hear more about Annika Sorenstam — at least not with the righteous fury of baseball purists or those who adorably believe that there's nothing corrupt about the Olympics.
Setting aside the fact that these drugs can have devastating, lifelong side effects and most professional athletes are putting enough strain on their bodies as it is, I might kind of secretly like some sort of system in which steroids/HGH would be legal, but handicapped. So, sure, juice all you want, Roger Clemens (and Debbie!) — but for every unit of substance found in your blood, we'll add to your ERA or dock you X home runs. It could lead to a whole new cottage industry: There'd be advanced sabermetrics for the players who shoot themselves up "most efficiently."
Q: I'm born and raised in LA, but a huge NY Jets fan. Since LA never had a football team I took on the Jets as my team since my dad is from New York and a Jets fan as well. Now with the likelihood of an NFL team coming to Los Angeles, I'm caught up in a life-changing, heart-wrenching decision. When the LA Chargers kickoff in 2016, who shall I root for? I think I'll always like the Jets, but is it okay to root for two AFC teams? Should I continue on hating the Chargers? This is a question that many Angelenos will be asking, so I look forward to your input.
— Will H.
Bakes: Unless you're 17 or younger, you technically did have a team in L.A. in your lifetime, before the Rams fled to St. Louis in the coast-to-Midwest move that Triangle editor Sarah Larimer calls a "sports reverse brain drain." But still, it's safe to assume that you have spent most of your life in L.A.'s post-football era. According to Dear Leader's rules for being a fan, you've qualified for exemption 19b: "You grew up in a city that didn't field a team for a specific sport — so you picked a random team — and then either a.) your city landed a team, or b.) you moved to a city that fielded a team for that specific sport. For instance, one of my Connecticut buddies rooted for the Sixers during the Doctor J Era, then happened to be living in Orlando when the Magic came to town. Now he's a Magic fan. That's acceptable."
But you want to know if you can like both. I say yes: The teams will more often than not play at different times of day, and even if they're both in the AFC, it's not like they'll be divisional foes. The playoffs could be a little dicier, but as long as you're not an obnoxious That Guy trumpeting the fact that you have two teams in the postseason, you'd be no more annoying on a weekly basis than the everyday fantasy owner.
The good news is, by 2016 the Jets will probably have cycled back down into one of those 5-11, 7-9, 6-10 troughs, giving you a little more latitude to take out the L.A. team for a spin and see how it feels. (Speaking of team names, I'd be happy to compile suggestions of what an L.A. franchise should be called. The "Broken Dreams" kind of has a nice ring.) And hey, you could be lucky — it's a huge long shot, but an NFC team like the Vikings or Rams could be the one to move.
Q: Do you believe that the Times has an obligation to perform fact-checking on a couple's story of how their love came to be? Oftentimes, there will be the narrative of "they were both seeing other people," or at least one of the partners was otherwise involved, but invariably they claim to have totally and completely broken things off with their former partners before woo was finally pitched and declared. Should the Times be calling their exes to confirm such exemplary behavior, or do couples have the right to portray themselves as best they think they can in their wedding announcements?
— Adam B.
Bakes: This is one of my favorite topics. As then-ombudsman Clark Hoyt wrote during a look at the past and protocol of the weddings section, the Times rigorously fact-checks wedding announcements: "Everyone involved in a wedding, including the person performing the ceremony, is interviewed, and some are asked for documentary proof of things like degrees and honors."
This can result in many instances of unintentional hilarity, and plenty of interactions that are just so New York Times:
- One MetaFilter commenter recalls that before his own announcement made its way into the pages, he received "far more scrutiny than anything related to weapons of mass destruction — and to show they meant it, they left off a degree because I didn't have a photo of the diploma, as it was somewhere at my parents’ house. Not that I care, but seriously NYTimes, wtf."
- To your question, one of the most infamous and bonkers Vows columns in modern history was the one of Carol Anne Riddell and John Partilla, who
well, I'll just let the NYT explain: "Carol Anne Riddell and John Partilla met in 2006 in a pre-kindergarten classroom. They both had children attending the same Upper West Side school. They also both had spouses." A few things were odd about this particular announcement, which you should absolutely go read. I can wait.
For one, the Times allowed comments on the article, which is exceedingly rare and was clearly a passive-aggressive move against the couple; for another, despite the Times' reputation for thorough fact-checking, it seems some notable people were not reached out to: namely, the jilted ex-spouses. Forbes' Jeff Bercovici contacted Riddell's ex-husband, who confirmed that despite being an unnamed yet arguably central character in the story, he was not contacted by anyone from the Times — even to ask for permission to include a photo of his 7-year-old daughter in a national newspaper.
- I e-mailed a couple of pals whose names and faces have appeared in the wedding announcements to ask what their fact-checking experience was like. "They didn’t get into prior relationships, but only confirmed such items as age, preferred married name, where we met, company name, title," one said. "That said, they totally tried to change my title to 'broker' or something completely unrelated but somehow finance-related i.e. they were unwilling to list my title/role as it’s actually listed by my company, which I thought was extremely odd." It seems the Times is broker-happy; it's like the Equities in Dallas of the wedded world. Another friend of mine recalled that she had a somewhat combative exchange with her fact-checker, who asked if her title was A director or THE director and sought to label her husband a "broker," as well. "Call him a stockbroker in the NY Times and you will die," she recalled thinking.
- It could be worse, though. My very favorite story, the one that exposed to the world just how snobby the NYT society section can be, is the one in which a partially edited version of one announcement was accidentally posted online complete with fact-checking notes about his mother's decades-earlier position as a teacher. "I called the school, and they just laughed about confirming her employment," the notes said; the updated and final version of the announcement omitted his mom. (After that story, a Gawker commenter wrote in to say that because the Times could not verify the employment of her mother, since her mother was dead, they struck her from the record entirely.)
Q: If Serena Williams were a reality show character, what reality show character would she be?
Mike Mark E.
Let's lay out what we know about Serena: She spent her early public years in the shadow of a person very similar to herself; she quickly went on to dominate and become one of the most influential people in her chosen profession; she's truly unbeatable when she's on the top of her game; she is magnetic and charismatic, but also undermining and not someone to trifle with; and she is blithely impervious to criticism, and has an almost robotically daffy ability to giggle and declare things that seem kind of serious to be SO NOT a big deal.
So, in other words: She'd be Kristin Cavallari.
Q: I'm about to marry into a family full of Boston fans. I'm a lifelong Mets, Giants and Knicks fan (Devils too, but I don't have beef with the Bruins, so let's put aside the NHL for a minute). Aside from draping their house with pennants of Super Bowl 42, what is the best way for me to rub the fact that my fiancee and her family root for communist, soul-sucking scumbags in their faces, while still remaining a good son-in-law?
Very much a related question: Better Jersey rock band: Bruce and E Street or Bon Jovi?
— Daniel B.
Something tells me THIS guy won't be dismissing the rooting interests of his future young daughter. You're in luck, Daniel B., because as a Mets fan you are currently in a PERFECT position to harass your fiancée's family via some good old-fashioned concern-trolling, an advanced tactic of minor psychological warfare that ought to shield you from suspicion and keep you in your future family's good graces while still ruining their day.
"How's it going?" you say, with great sympathy, taking care to look as genuinely worried as possible. "I saw what's going on with those Red Sox that's tough, that's really tough. Could be the worst collapse in baseball history, I read somewhere. I know just how you feel — when my Mets imploded in 2007, it really made it tough to watch baseball again. And honestly? I don't want to scare you, but the team has really never recovered. Let's just hope John Henry isn't pals with any Ponzi schemers, am I right? Ha ha anyway, at least you've got those Patriots! Hey, did you catch that great Belichick documentary on the NFL Network? So crazy how he teared up over his memories of coaching the Giants. Seems like he really misses New York."
As for Bruce vs. Bon Jovi: I'm going to assume that by "better" (Springsteen) you actually mean "Jerseyer." And that's a hard one to determine — even Taylor Swift refused to take sides — though Deadspin's Barry Petchesky gamely tried back when it was announced that the 2014 Super Bowl would be held in N.E.W Jerz, where plenty murderz occurs. He declared Bon Jovi the winner, and I'm somewhat inclined to agree, but that's just because one of the 12 FREE CDS I selected from one of those BMG Music Clubs was Crossroads.
PS: For a laugh and/or head-scratch, check out this total WTF of a Wikipedia entry: Jersey Shore sound. Sample sentences: "Solidly thrumming guitar lines echo American V-8 engines so beloved by Jersey teenagers of the era. Piano, Hammond organ, and glockenspiel emphasize the melody lines. The glockenspiel sounds were provided by a Jenco Celeste that Danny Federici owned. This combination is distinctly a New Jersey sound; some [who?] say that it is an extension of the calliope sounds heard on the carousels located on Jersey Shore boardwalks."
Bonus points for the mention of the Osprey in Manasquan, and extra bonus points to the earnest Wikipedia user on the discussion page who calls bullshit: "This is a very problematic article that includes a large amount of unsourced original research. The claim is made in this article that this is a music genre, but there is no evidence of that here and neither can I find any through on-line searches." Oh ye of little faith.
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