The unique and extremely popular [citation needed] authority on pop culture since 2008

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written by Sam Greenspan

I respond to emails about Chicago versus L.A., South Park, potential racism on the Simpsons and more.

Inbox-O-Rama is my weekly list where I post responses to reader e-mails, Twitters, Facebook messages and comments.

Anyone whose message I respond to gets an 11 Points sticker, pending 3 things (1) you are patient because I send ’em out in erratic batches (2) you’re willing to send me, a potential sociopath, your mailing address (3) you’re living in a place that accepts U.S. postage.

Now, on with the list.

1 | The World Kickball Championships

I read last week that you were about to go to Vegas on a road trip. I finally realized (I think) why. How did your kickball team do in the finals? My team lost in the second round of the playoffs, but I have friends who went to Vegas to play. How was it? I bet it was wicked fun.


Yes, it’s true, I went to Vegas because my friends and I are, oddly enough, part of a high-quality kickball team that competed in the world adult kickball championships. (For more on why we play kickball, I recommend the co-ed sports entry on Stuff White People Like.)

Unfortunately, we were missing a few key players (who had excuses like “running a marathon I’ve been training for for months” and “wedding” — weak) which led to us being bounced after pool play.

At least that made us part of the group that got to hit the free beer tent first, where the beer flowed like wine. And, as they say, a good time was had by all.

2 | What do you eat on a date when Thai, tapas and sushi are off the table?

I got this e-mail in response to my list 11 Things You Should Eat On Your First Eleven Dates — specifically about date number two where I suggest Thai, tapas or sushi. (And give five VERY logical arguments why those are the choices.)

Here’s what I received a few days ago…

AHHH!!!! I’m at 2nd date but i dont eat sushi and he doesn’t like tai (it came up in the covo) and i have no clue what Tapas are … i’m australian!!! HELP!!


I hope this isn’t too late — like, this wasn’t sent to me from the date — but I do have an answer.

In the date restaurant list I advocated Thai, sushi or tapas for the second date because (1) price point is right (2) they’re faux-exotic so you look cool (3) their respective restaurants serve signature alcoholic drinks (4) they’re light so no one feels like a nap after and (5) they don’t mess up your breath for a second date kiss.

So we need to find an addendum that fits most of those criteria, and I’ve got three alternatives: (1) Any kind of restaurant with “fusion” in the title (2) Vietnamese (3) A vegan or vegetarian place.

After typing those recommendations, though, I think your best bet is to Google “tapas,” learn what they are and find a place near you. I recommend bacon-wrapped dates.

3 | 11 Questions

Hey Sam, ever since I stumbled on your page I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your lists. I had a few questions for you so here they go:

1. As an Evanstonian I grew up going to a lot of Northwestern games, probably around the same time you were there for school. I was wondering what your favorite Northwestern football game was that you saw live? I myself enjoyed the Michigan in 2000.

My favorite NU game was also the Michigan game in 2000. Best sporting event I’ve ever been to. Insane game, high scoring and, most importantly, the correct outcome. One and only time we rushed the field during my four years at school.

2. Have you ever considered making an ugliest sports jerseys list (not just NBA)? Because I think that the 90s Devil Rays and Nashville Predators deserve some recognition.

I have thought about it (and did do a list of the 11 Ugliest NBA Uniforms of the ’90s)… I’m looking for a slightly more targeted angle. I might do ugliest hockey jerseys… I’ve been getting A LOT of messages from Canadian readers clamoring for a Canada-oriented list, and that might just do it.

3. I noticed the new icons for your lists, are you for Pete Rose going to the hall of fame?

I am for Pete Rose going to the Hall of Fame. The guy had 4,256 hits — the most of all time — and won three rings. If he was betting on the Reds (which he still swears he wasn’t, just on other teams), then he was clearly betting FOR them to win. I say let the guy in and put this nonsense to rest.

I also believe guys like Manny Ramirez should make the Hall of Fame — people who used substances that, while clearly kinda sketchy, were not banned at the time they took them. You can’t go back and retroactively punish people. It’s baseball’s fault for being so incredibly slow on updating its banned substance lists.

If, tomorrow, it became a national law that drinking Diet Dr. Pepper is an illegal substance, should I be fined because I drank one last week? No.

4. I really enjoyed your interview lists, could we see any of those coming back soon?

Yes, the interviews will be back. I’m lining up some people to talk to. I also really like the interview lists but they never seemed to set the world on fire so I found myself less motivated to knock them out.

5. Of all the countries you’ve traveled to, which is your favorite?

I have, sadly, done very little world traveling. The only place I’ve ever been overseas is Israel. (Yes, this should be remedied. Unfortunately, I spent my entire 20s working at jobs with traditional American vacation times and not making enough money to travel during the time off I did have.)

And while I’ve been around North America and the Caribbean, it’s hard for me to pick a favorite foreign country — because I’ve been to so few of them.

6. Big Brother or Brave New World?

1984 or Brave New World? I haven’t read either in years, but, when I read them both in high school, I remember liking Brave New World just a little bit more. In general, I’m a huge fan of dystopian fiction, in both books and movies. I even watched that movie The Island with Scarlett Johansson. It wasn’t very good.

7. Do you prefer Chicago or LA?

Chicago was a fantastic city to go to school in (well… near) and I definitely could’ve seen myself living there. But I have really loved living in L.A. and have no plans to leave. Career-wise, I can’t beat this place… and I’ve managed to find a way to avoid a brutal commute for most of my time here.

8. Did you ever watch Captain Planet? If so, which element is your favorite?

Never watched it. Simple reason: My parents didn’t get cable until 1995, which coincides with the end of its run. I do know the theme song by heart for some reason, though.

9. Did you ever try to write for a newspaper after leaving journalism school?

I never tried to write for a newspaper. I love journalism, and I’m so glad I chose it as a major — eight years later, I’m still using a ton of the stuff I learned in school. But, around my junior year, I realized my real ambition wasn’t to be a hardcore journalist… rather, it was to use my writing for the purposes of entertainment.

I always strive to bring journalism fundamentals into my comedy writing, though — believe it or not, I go overboard fact checking things that I put on this website. I also spend about an hour too much researching every list to make sure I don’t miss something crucial.

10. 2 part question: Cubs or Sox? Dodgers or Angels?

Cubs. I’m an Indians fan so I have a lot of beef with the White Sox… and I had a blast taking the El down to Cubs games during college. I’m fairly indifferent toward the So Cal teams but I guess it’d be the Dodgers because they’re a true representative of the city… calling the Angels the “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim” is a farce.

11. I can’t think of any other questions to ask, but don’t want to seem cowardly so…. what’s your favorite color?


These days, dark pink.

4 | Is The Simpsons heaven racist?

Dear Sam,

I just saw the Simpsons where Homer and Bart go Catholic. Marge has daydream involving Catholic Heaven and Protestant Heaven. There are no black people in either heaven. Are the Simpsons writers racist or is it just Marge?


I think it’s an accident. After all, as Homer says, the Catholics are WAY diverse — they’ve got “Boston, South America, the GOOD part of Ireland and [they]’re making serious inroads in Mozambique, baby!”

I suppose the animators could always just go back and Photoshop a black person in> to heaven.

5 | Special Victims Unit

I just read your 11 points list on shows you’ve given up on and I have to say I disagree with the SVU comment. I think what made the early seasons so good was that it was a lot more about the detectives than the actual cases. They really lost character development sometime around 2003, but I loved all that quirky banter between all of them for the first season especially. Only thing that made up for it in the second half of the show’s run: the ADA always got hotter. Now I’m a straight female, but I can admit a girl is hot and the early seasons’ girls were significantly less attractive.


Here’s something that really killed SVU for me — when I started realizing that every time they have a famous guest star, that star ends up being the murderer/rapist/mastermind/etc. That theory almost never fails… next time you’re watching, if they have Luke Perry or Katy Perry or Tyler Perry or Dr. Cox as the guest star, by the end of the episode, said person will be culpable. Trust me.

6 | The It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia Dave & Busters/Coors Light debate

I saw the episode you referred to, and I think it’s possible they were deliberately being “un-tongue-in-cheek”. I think by shoving the adverts in the face of people they were mocking the idea of product placement. Like 30 rock or waynes world.


So last week, I mentioned I was a little surprised at the product placement the third episode of It’s Always Sunny this season, “The Great Recession”.

Here’s the thing: I’m not opposed to product placement. I don’t have the stereotypical vitriolic knee-jerk reaction to it that most people on the Internet do. If having the characters always drink Coors Light or eat lunch at White Castle or whatever is the key to making It’s Always Sunny profitable so it can stay on the air, I have zero objection to it.

My uneasiness from that episode is because I disagree with VirtualAthlete… I DON’T think the product placement was done in an over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek way, like 30 Rock with Snapple, Wayne’s World with Pepsi or Arrested Development with Burger King.

There was never a line like Charlie telling Mac and Dennis, “You guys really are talking about Dave & Busters a lot” or something like that. The episode had a chance to make an excellent satirical statement — what if it had been all about the characters “selling out” and trying to get Patty’s filled with advertisements… meanwhile they had those meetings at Dave & Busters and talked about Coors Light a lot?

But they didn’t. They really just celebrated Dave & Busters and Coors in a way you rarely see a TV show celebrate an integrated brand today. And that struck me as odd.

7 | Sam’s 11 favorite sodas (warning: no sugar to be found)

This came in response to my list 11 Sodas I Just Don’t Like

Its so nice to know that other people are fans of soda. It’s like it’s turned into something “evil” and the only cause for obesity in America. Kids can’t even buy soda at school anymore. Who wants to drink water? My question is, if these are the bad sodas, what’s your favorite? Any why didn’t Cactus Cooler make the list? It’s right up there with every other fruit flavored failure…. and to think I loved it as a kid.


Well, I only drink diet soda (yeah, I know, I know)… here are the 11 that I like the most, in order. Cherry Coke Zero, Diet Coke out of a fountain, Diet Cherry Coke, Diet Dr. Pepper (since it’s still not a banned substance), Diet Pepsi out of a fountain, Diet IBC Root Beer, Diet Coke out of a bottle or can, Diet A&W Root Beer, Diet Mountain Dew, Diet Sprite. Cherry Coke Zero might be the best calorie-free soda ever made.

8 | The random list button

The [Simpsons] drinking game would be better if there were “random list” button somewhere. Have you ever thought about adding one?

–Katie Mc

I had never thought about one, but I love the idea. It will be done by the end of the day! And it will be called the “Katie Mc Memorial Random List Button!” (Although that might suggest that you are no longer with us. But “memorial” just really feels right in that title, so I’m not sure I can take it out.)

9 | Who is the South Park superhero?

Who is Mysterion?


If you don’t get this, it’s a South Park reference. And I think I know the answer.

Earlier this year, South Park did a Watchmen/Dark Knight/superhero spoof, where Cartman dressed up as a superhero called The Coon. But he got upset when another kid starts dressing up as a hero called Mysterion… and getting all the attention.

They never reveal who Mysterion is… and even make a joke of how generic all the animation looks on the show, in that, when Mysterion is unmasked, he looks just like every other plain face in South Park.

The four people Cartman suspects are Craig, Kyle, Stan and Clyde. And at the end, after Mysterion is unmasked, Cartman says it’s one of the people he named.

Kyle is out, because he and Mysterion meet face to face. Of the other three, it’s well documented that Craig is a misanthrope who hates adventures, so I think we can rule him out. That leaves Stan and Clyde.

I’m going to say it’s Clyde, based off of this shot from class. It appears that, while everyone else is just bored at Cartman’s presentation, Clyde is actually asleep… and, like Cartman says in a later part of the episode, if someone’s tired, it’s probably because they were out fighting crime in their double life the night before. Case (mostly) closed.

10 | Spreading the anti-coward message

At school we have a textbook called 501 Spanish Verbs and my friend was looking at it and said “Why is it 501 verbs? Why not make it a round 500?” Not missing a beat, I replied, “Because 500 verbs are for cowards.” Just thought you should know that the doctrine of 11 Points is slowly seeping into my life.


That’s excellent! I feel like “coward” is one of the most underused words today. It’s so powerful. Calling someone a “chicken” is so lame (unless you’re saying it to Marty McFly, who will freak out). Calling someone a “pussy” is too crude. But “coward”… it conjures up all the right images. I’m happy to spread the doctrine.

11 | Things that kill a road trip, addendum

Here’s an important addendum to last week’s 11 Things That Will Kill Your Road Trip list…

ya know what else kills a road trip? when you’re on a bunch of high-powered liquid lsd and you’re driving through louisiana leaving new orleans with cops all over the highway. you exit to get some gas, and your friends get you completely lost. of course you don’t notice you’re lost, because of the aforementioned lsd. it was a good eight hours until i found the interstate again. ugh.


Well, I can’t argue with that.

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