11 Points

11 Points Inbox-O-Rama, Number 8
written by Sam Greenspan

It's the weekly Wednesday Inbox-O-Rama, where I respond to 11 e-mails, Tweets, site comments and/or Facebook messages from readers.

Anyone who has their message published in an Inbox-O-Rama gets an 11 Points sticker provided (1) they send me, a stranger and therefore potential lunatic, their mailing address (2) they live in the U.S. or other place that I can send mail to without having to buy weird postage featuring pictures of obscure monarchs and (3) they're patient, because I am really bad at going to the post office. But it's still fun for everyone involved! (Or something.)

Let's get to the e-mails.

1. Crack open a drink for this Inbox-O-Rama...
I think we could invent an 11 points drinking game. Take a shot for every Simpsons reference. We'd be drunk in 11 points or less. I love it. My day is not complete without a good Simpsons reference. The more obscure the better!

--Meghan (via Facebook)
I like this challenge a lot. So pour yourself a nice cold Duff, Red Tick Beer, Düff, Skittlebrau, Fudd, Lady Duff, Tarter Control Duff, Henry K. Duff's Private Reserve, Flaming Moe, Long Island Iced Tea or bathtub mint julep -- because this list is going to be the cause of and solution to all of your problems.



2. Atonement breeds forgiveness, my friend.

This was posted yesterday at 3:34 PM...
The comment about drinking in Mississippi is ABSOLUTELY INCORRECT!!! We are not so backwards as most seem to think.

--Kevin (in the comments)
Then, four minutes later, Kevin wrote a response to his own comment...
oh sorry i just looked that up and its actually true FML. everyone is going to hate me now *long sigh*
No, Kevin, NO ONE is going to hate you. In fact, I'm so impressed that someone on the Internet made an impassioned argument then actually apologized and retracted it when he realized he was wrong that I'm going to send you two stickers, one for each comment.

Assuming the mailman can find your address in Mississippi which, if stereotypes are to be believed, is probably on some street like Rural Route 9.

But really, apologizing for an erroneous Internet comment by actually researching what you wrote? I may have to add Kevin to my 11 Firsts in Internet History list!

3. Amazon gets in on the racially-insensitive suggestion game.
I really like your list 11 things Google should atone for on its 11th anniversary. I found something that Amazon should atone for. I was looking up a costume for this Halloween and I decided that I wanted to go as a black mage from Final Fantasy. I typed black mage into Amazon and it said "Did you mean black male?" I thought slavery was banned over 100 years ago. Why would I want to buy a black male on Amazon?

--Jeff
Well, if they actually sold you one, you could probably blackmail them. HI-YO!

(Also, I recently looked at my hand and saw the message Lenny = White, Carl = Black.)



4. It's like 6,000 spoons.
how ironic is it that you, a seeming stickler for proper editorial procedure, and a frequent censurer of common internet misusage, would accidentally overlook such an obvious error as "boundries" for "boundaries."

--Kiefsta (via the comments)
How ironic? I'd say 60 percent. It would be a full 100 percent if my website was all about improper spelling and grammar on the Internet and it was called NoInternetBoudries.com.

Maybe I even do have a website like that! (Published under the pseudonym Mr. X, of course.)

5. Banned in the Q-a-t-a-r.
Hey Sam,

I've taken the liberty of sending you [this] screenshot of the actual link to [your] 11 Reasons Why You Should Stop Crapping On the WNBA list. You'll notice that the ISP renders the link differently.



The only reason for this censorship that I can think of is that the address involves the word "crapping". But then again, I can access almost every other list on your site, including the ones with "sexy", "nude" or "breasts" in the title. The only other list that has been blocked is the one about accidentally pornographic pictures. Oh well, I can't say that I'm surprised, considering this majestic country has blocked the Wikipedia article on penises.

The homepage is not blocked, so the WNBA list will be viewable up until you update the site with a new 11 points. Besides, I'm sure that any person in this country that has the sense to be a regular visitor to your site also knows how to bypass our ridiculous censorship laws.

As I'm sure you never get tired of hearing, love the site.

--Jehad
I'm not entirely sure why this memory is so vivid, but it is. Back when I was like 14 or so, my parents and I went on a trip to New York City. We were on the South Street Seaport (not to be confused with the South Street Squidport) and I wandered into a gift shop. I tend to do this. For some reason, as my parents will readily attest, I'm absolutely captivated by cheap tourist-y souvenir shops.

Anyway, this particular gift shop had keychains featuring flags from well over 100 countries. And, along with my love of gift shops, I also love flags. So I deliberate over it forever, deciding which keychain I'm going to buy as my "big" personal purchase and, finally, I settle on Qatar.


It looked
like this.
I love it because (1) I've never heard of it (nor do I know they don't allow religions, including mine, to practice within the country). (2) The flag's jagged pattern catches my eye. (3) My entire life I've been as much of an English nerd as I am now and I find the "q" without a trailing "u" to be joyous.

And now, 16 years later, that country is blocking my website. I knew I should've gone with the pure greenness of Libya.

6. Where'd the web videos go?
I found out about this website a few weeks ago from cracked.com, and since then, I've been visiting this website everyday. All of your lists are great! I wanted to see more of your work so I looked at www.pandasmash.com, but the last time that was updated was like a year ago. What happened? I loved your videos as much as these lists, even though when I found pandasmash on break.com and most of the comments for the videos seemed to be bad. Did you just stop or what?

--Bop (via the comments)
The back story here: In late 2006, my roommate Paul and I started a website for our online videos called Panda Smash. We posted more than 100 videos, which, eventually, caught the eye of Break.com, leading to them bringing us both on board to make videos full time.

The main reason we stopped adding videos to Panda Smash is that, we found, when working in web video as a full time day job, it was really hard to come back home and make more videos. It's why both he and I ended up starting up blogs -- we both found that we wanted a different way to expel some of our leftover creative energy at the end of the day, and blogging was like our mistress.

Without getting inappropriately detailed, neither of us works in web video full time anymore, and while we're both still a little burned out on the medium (and also have some reservations about it, in general), we both are finding ourselves inescapable drawn to production again. So you can expect to see Panda Smash getting some new videos posted very, very soon... along with another video/writing project we're working on.

And no, the videos will not be episodes of "Angry Dad" that will be simulcast on BetterThanTV.com.

7. The biggest problem with "The Wizard".

This was in the comments, in regards to me referencing the 1989 film "The Wizard" in my 11 Things That Will Kill Your Road Trip list.
[E]xplain how Jimmy knows how to get the second flute despite no one ever playing the game before.

--Marcia (via the comments)
If you don't know what she's talking about, in the climax of "The Wizard", Fred Savage's autistic little brother competes in the Nintendo World Championships, where he and two others battle it out in Super Mario Bros. 3. But... the movie was released before SMB3 came out, so in the film they played it up that the competitors would be playing a video game that no one had ever played before.

So the kid is playing for the first time ever, suddenly has the instincts to get a raccoon tail, get a running start at an arbitrary spot in the first castle, fly up out of screen, run to the right and retrieve the secret warp zone whistle. Then, he knows how to access that whistle from the overworld screen and use it. Basically, he wins by pulling a sequence of moves that no one would have EVER figured out on their first time (or 200th time) playing.

It's a real flaw in the movie. Not that "The Wizard" had to be grounded in reality... the whole thing a glorified, blatant Nintendo commercial (right up there with He-Man being a toy commercial or last week's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" making me uneasy with how un-tongue-in-cheek they were in handling their Dave & Busters and Coors product placement).

But I think the big problem with "The Wizard" is that the warp zone twist robs the kid, Jimmy, of his pure victory. If he and his rival competitor, Lucas, were neck and neck on the same level, and Jimmy managed to just outplay him by going through it faster, more gracefully, with a higher score... that would be more pure.

Or if Lucas tried to cheat by knocking the controller out of Jimmy's hand, but Jimmy recovered it just in time to bounce off a Koopa Paratroopa to avoid falling down a hole, then bounced up accidentally into a pink-colored music note box which propelled him into a sky area full of coins... now THAT would be sweeter.

Or, at least, they could've tied and then competed on a game like Lee Carvallo's Putting Challenge or Bonestorm. (My name on there is Thrillhouse... but it gets truncated at eight characters.)



8. A long-standing dilemma.

Got this response to something I wrote in my list 11 Sports Whose Participants May Or May Not Be Athletes...
Abortions for all? BOOOOOO!

--Adam (via the comments)
OK... abortions for none!

Hmm... abortions for some, tiny American flags for others!

9. Open the door, get on the floor...
I did want to add to your list of Google atonements (though the first is more amusing than something that the browser needs to atone for).

If you type in the words "I like..." the first selection that comes up is "I like to tape my thumbs to my hands to see what it would be like to be a dinosaur." I have to wonder how many people actually type that into google...



--Fallon in Virginia
First of all, this makes me remember when I traveled back to the time when dinosaurs weren't just confined to zoos.

But really, I can't believe that beat out "I like turtles"... one of the funniest web clips of all time! (See below.)



10. The sad, sad state of Cleveland sports (other than the Cavs).

This comes in response to my first-ever sports list, 11 Teams I Most Want to Win a Championship...
Which team is more heartbreaking: The Cleveland Browns or The Cleveland Indians?

--Anthony
No brainer. It's the Indians.


Sigh.
The Indians spent the entire decade acquiring and developing a ton of talented, lovable, loyal, young future all-stars and the payoff was one season of choking to just miss the playoffs and one season of choking to just miss the World Series. And now the entire thing is blown up, the team is in shambles, next year they'll probably lose at least 90 games, and the young talent we're working on developing now seems a hell of a lot less likely to gel and reach contender level like the young talent we pissed away this decade.

I could rant for days and days on the Indians, so I'll just wrap up their portion with this thought. We had the great teams of the '90s, we had the great team in 2007, and we could never win the World Series. And as the baseball haves/have-nots divide continues to grow wider and wider... and the city of Cleveland finds itself in deeper and deeper trouble... I have to legitimately question if I'll ever get to see this team win a World Series. There's a real chance that the 2007 flame out didn't just shut the door on that iteration of the Indians winning it all... it may've been the franchise's last chance to win it all. Overdramatic? The odds certainly aren't zero percent, are they? And THAT'S heartbreaking.

Ze Cleveland Browns have sucked since the day they re-formed and have continued to suck ever since. (The 10-win season was a smoke-and-mirrors fluke that should've been panned more than it was -- they choked away the playoffs against the Bengals in their 15th game.) So they're not heartbreaking, they're just an eternal disappointment.

It's like someone handing you a rotten cauliflower and a giant Dairy Queen ice cream cake. You bite into the rotten cauliflower and you know it's going to taste bad. You're disappointed that you just ate some shitty cauliflower, but that met your expectations. But if you eat the DQ cake and IT tastes like rotten cauliflower, you'll be both disappointed and heartbroken... because your expectations were up.

Man, now I'm depressed. And not even hungry for ice cream cake.

11. What TV shows have sucked its way into the replacement spots...?
In inbox-o-rama 7 you said you retracted "Curb Your Enthusiasm" from an older list. Since it is no longer a part of it, this means the list of shows you have completely given up on is now a 10 point list. With that in mind, your tag line for your website says "Because top 10 lists are for cowards". If I'm not mistaken, that means that list is now cowardly.

--Steven P
That's a good call Steven. And "Curb" is back in a GIANT way. Sunday's "Seinfeld" reunion wasn't just perfect in its execution... it was such an event that I now want to start watching "Curb" live because I'm so excited about it. I've been a TiVo user for seven years and there's almost nothing (outside of sports) that I've ever watched live since... so this is a big deal to me. This "Curb" season has the potential to be that good.

But you're right, now that I only have 10 shows I've completely given up on, I have to add an 11th.

There's another wrinkle here, too. "Family Guy" was on that list and, yes, I've found myself watching every "Family Guy" on Hulu. I was off it for a long time, and while I'm not madly in love with it, it's entertaining me again... so really, the list is down to nine.

Fortunately, I have two shows to take its place (and no, "Admiral Baby", "Police Cops", "Who Wants to Marry a Million Bears", "Sneakers" and "Me Wantee!" are not on the list): "The Office" and "Entourage".

"The Office" has become a complete disaster. Basically every episode now follows either the "Michael is mentally handicapped" or "Michael is an unrealistic asshole" formula... and both of those have gotten so old, so repetitive, so obnoxious and so irritating that I can't watch anymore. Plus, without the Jim and Pam will they/won't they tension, the show is absolutely missing its real heart and soul. At this point, the most interesting characters left are Toby, Darrell, the new receptionist and (freaking) Ryan. I've cut it, and I don't miss it at all.

"Entourage" is even worse. Everyone thought minimizing Vince would make the show better. This season, we got to find out what it's like having an Eric Murphy love triangle as the central plot of a season. And it was unbearable.

Also, we're several years deep now and the four main characters still have absolutely zero chemistry and 100 percent woodenness when they do those forced "guys hangin' out talkin' and shootin' the shit" scenes.

They live in a world of zero consequences (how many "Vince has money troubles" episodes have there been... yet they still manage to live the life of luxury?) and we no longer have any reason to care about the characters. Ari has a few moments here and there and Lloyd's good, but that's it.

I gave up for good after the golf episode this season because, as Matt Stone of "South Park" once said, there's no better way to demonstrate that the guys making a show have gotten old and out-of-touch than writing a golf episode.



For those scoring at home, yes, I did manage to put at least one into every single point.


This post was originally published on Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 11:00:00 AM under the category Misc.

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