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Mailbag, Part I!

Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals.

U.S. Postal Service Processing Center Ramps Up Operations For Holiday Season Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

My threats to fill out the mailbag must have sounded extra scary this week (threats may or may not have included a “BRT Shit List” which is a Very Real and Serious Thing), because we got a lot of feedback! cracks knuckles Consequently, we’re making this a two-parter, because we know the only people who love the “sound” of our voices more than us is you.

What is your favorite Elvis Costello song? Pump It Up is the correct answer. -- HoustonBoiler

Boilerman: I don’t really listen to much Elvis Costello to be completely honest. I do like his work with The New Basement Tapes.

Andrew K: I’ve been on tenterhooks, ending in, dirty looks sorry what were we talking about?

Dead Read: Oliver’s Army, followed closely by (What’s So Funny About) Peace, Love, and Understanding. For those who haven’t seen him live, he always seems to open with Radio, Radio and closes with PL&U. I’ve seen him three or four times. Great stuff. I once watched Sarah McLaughlin try to follow his act at a music festival...she forgot the words to the ASPCA song. Recommend highly, though the band isn’t as tight as it once was.

Creighton: Hands down it’s Radio Radio, and there’s an awesome story behind why I love this song. Costello was the musical guest on SNL once in 1977. They wanted him to play Less Than Zero, but he disagreed. The band began playing the first few bars of Less Than Zero when, on live TV, Costello abruptly stopped the song and said “I’m sorry ladies and gentlemen, there’s no reason to do this song here” (it was a song about a UK politician that he didn’t think an American audience would care about) and the band broke into an amazing performance of Radio Radio. He was banned from SNL for over a decade for the stunt. Later, in 1999, the Beastie Boys started playing Sabotage on the exact same stage when Costello ran out, delivered the same line from 22 years earlier, and then led the Boys in a face melting performance of Radio Radio.

Townie: I love Elvis Costello. Radio Radio was a big favorite of mine. But as I’ve aged, I moved toward his ballads. It’s a Good Year for the Roses, Almost Blue are really good, touching songs… Okay, it’s Radio Radio.

Beez: Uhhhh. He was in Austin Powers, right? And played that “What do we get when we fall in love” song, right? With Burt what’shisname? I pick that song.

Thumpasaurus: I’m pretty sure my taste in music runs the gamut among everything besides “stuff people actually listen to”

BRT: Gun to my head, I could not name a single Elvis Costello song. This is just totally off my radar.

WSR: It’s Oliver’s Army. There’s such a perfect clash between the upbeat instrumental and the just horrifically dark lyrics. Plus, as an added bonus, it’s still significant today! Join the Army! It’ll be a fun adventure in a new land! Like Yemen!

MNW: I’ll write you every day, WSR. 15 Yemen Road, Yemen.

I’m stuck for half a week in an office/lab/shop that is half empty (moreso as the week goes on). What’s the best use of my time? -- KetteringLex

Boilerman: Hey! Me as well! Go on YouTube and watch old Billy Mays infomercials.

GF3: Serious version of the above is to go on Youtube and learn some cool shit. There’s a great series called History That Deserves to Be Remembered. You can also learn all about some niche item like Swiss watches.

Andrew K: Although we are in bowl season and there is therefore college football every day for like the next 3 weeks, a lot of the weekday games are played at night. Fortunately, the wonders of modern technology should make it reasonably simple to port a recording of the previous night’s game to the device of your choosing. If any nosy Parker coworker types ask questions about why you’re watching Ohio/SDSU, say “market research” and shoo them away.

Jesse: I am 100% in favor of any and all YouTube Rabbit Holes you can find yourself on. Recently, I spent an inordinate amount of time watching early 2000s Indie/Pop Music Videos. Punk Rock Princess looks like it was filmed on a handicam and it is glorious.

LPW: It’s a good time to catch up on some of the reading you’ve been meaning to get to. Or, just download your favorite shows to your ipad or phone and watch them.

Townie: OTE of course!

Beez: Have you tried some version of “let’s see from how far away I can throw this thing into this other thing” yet? Do that.

Thumpasaurus: Tweet at croots. It’ll make them choose your school.

BRT: Audiobooks or podcasts! Good time to catch up on those.

Creighton: If your boss is gone: office olympics. If your boss is still there: office olympics, but you pick the boss for your team so you can kiss their ass while you have a greater share of their attention.

WSR: Let me send you some of my year-end stuff to work on. If you need to work through the weekend to get it done, make sure to do so.

Zuzu: OTE, duh. Also, idk read a book series like "The Meg" or something. /shrugs

Happy Holidays!

1. In honor of the last power poll: What’s your favorite Christmas/Holiday song?

2. Which co-writer has the most interesting degree field or former/outside job you would enjoy having yourself?

3. Which co-writer has (in your opinion) the least interesting college/work background (and you likely enjoy poking fun of for too)?


Boilerman: In the holiday spirit, I’ll actually answer your questions.

1. My favorite Christmas Song is Sammy Davis Jr. singing The Christmas Song. His voice is just so damn smooth.

2. Hmm, DJ probably has the closest career field to me, we have a few lawyers around here, GF3 seems to interact with some bigwigs at HBS, so I’ll go with him.

3. Well, I’m a project engineer, so it’s probably me (although I do get to travel to Germany for work, so I got that going for me, which is nice).

Andrew K: The answer to 1 is Wham’s Last Christmas, and everyone involved with the cut-rate covers populating the airwaves should be on the next train to the gulag IMHO.

As for 2 and 3, you think I pay attention to these people’s personal lives?

Candystripes: #1: I have 2, one funny and one more solemn. The solemn one is “Indiana Christmas” by Straight No Chaser (an a capella group of IU alums), and while it obviously means more to those of us from Indiana, it’s still a good listen for everyone else.

The funny one is a mashup that if you haven’t heard, I won’t spoil, but you need to listen to it. It works SO WELL.

#2 and #3, I honestly don’t know. It seems like half of the staff is in some sort of law-based profession, and the other half is in some stage of grad school hell. I may not have the job I want, but I’ll stick with where I’m at, thanks.

Townie: I’m a fan of Sting’s We Saw Three Ships, but I really like all of George Winston’s December album. That’s what I’m listening to at home right now.

I’m not a lawyerly or scholarly type, so I’m going to pass on my peers’ career choices. I’m pretty happy as a geologist.

And when I am suffering from crippling insomnia, I go back and read some of the stuff MNWildcat posts about esoteric politics from the Midwest. Instant cure!

Dead Read: Good question, per usual! “Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)” is the best Christmas song. I heard an aspiring opera singer perform it in a Christmas service in rural South Dakota once - and it blew me away. As a general rule, Bing and Nat are the go-to Christmas singers. “White Christmas” is the second best Christmas song.

As for the other parts? Nah, I’m really only here to get off of BRT’s shit list.

GF3: 1. Good King Wenceslas 2. Well no one else can fly a helicopter but I have to say that MNW seems to travel a lot and learn cool stuff, so that seems like a nice way to spend one’s life. BRT teaches at a college, which also seems pretty damn fulfilling. 3. Beez, because being a lawyer sounds kind of terrible to me and he’s a terrible person.


  1. Bing Crosby’s rendition of “White Christmas” is so very classic Christmas music, it just gets me. His voice is like butter. I’m also a fan of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”, it flows incredibly well, with ebbs and flows of both tempo and intensity.
  2. ZuZu studies Dinosaurs
  3. We’ve got engineers, lawyers, and historians. So, yeah, we kill at parties


1- Christmas in Hollis by Run-DMC. It’s catchy as hell and it reminds me of Die Hard.

2- In another life I would love to go digging up dinosaurs with Zuzu or be a helicopter jockey like GF3 used to be.

3- DJ is always complaining about being understaffed. I don’t even want to do my own work, let alone the work of 3 other people.

Beez: 1. O Holy Night, but not any of those cheesy, schmaltzy, MIDI keyboard version. Generally a brass version of it is best.

2. Uhhh I know what approximately 3 people do. I gotta go with GF3 if we’re talking current “lazy-ass student” or former “lazy-ass government peon,” because either way you get to be lazy!

3. Boilerman seems to spend way too much of his time dealing with others’ incompetence and/or driving a lot and/or going in late, which bums me out. But being an engineer sounds interesting! BRT seems the obvious choice because history is great, but MNW gets all the history of BRT without the job part (I think), so gotta go with him.

BRT: Interesting choice, Beez. MNW works twice as hard as me, and doesn’t get paid for it. ;)

  1. I love pretty much every and all versions of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” I also for some reason love Wham!’s “Last Christmas.” I haven’t heard it once in the wild this year though. :( I think this is because there are so many bad covers of it now. On the plus side though, I also have somehow thus far escaped the chipmunk song.
  2. I was thisclose to going to law school and I think I would have been a very good lawyer, so one of the 50 lawyers I “write” with would be my choice. That or GF3, because while what he does sound boring, it does seem to be opening doors for him in interesting places that I’d kill to have a chance to move to. Or, while Boilerman’s actual job seems like it sucks, he’s been going to Germany a lot, and that’s pretty cool.
  3. WSR is an accountant. The jokes write themselves.

Thumpasaurus: Beez reminds me to address this note to any current or former trumpet players that might be reading this. Would you like to feel impotent forever?

  1. Have you ever heard the Metro Detroit Jazz Orchestra play “Christmas Time Is Here”? That trombonist is just pure magic
  2. Bizarro Thumpasaurus had the stones to go into music and is too busy doing that to spend any time thinking about Illinois football. Might not have even gone to Illinois. It didn’t quite go how he’d dreamed but he ended up with a teaching gig and finds pretty steady gigs on the side writing, arranging and playing. Also MNW’s sounds genuinely interesting. Mostly whenever people actually deeply care about what they’re doing is when I think it would be really cool to have their career.
  3. Regular Thumpasaurus, no question about it. Way to lose the plot on your career trajectory you stupid anthropomorphic dinosaur


  1. I’m a kid of the 80s, so it’s Christmas in Hollis. Fun, silly, and great to sing along with in a long car ride when the kids have been fighting for the last 20 miles.
  2. BRT. Two roads diverged in the wood, and I took the one that became a boring-ass accountant instead of a history teacher/professor/football coach.
  3. MNW. Does he even have a job other than traveling to terrible towns across the midwest and being irritated by library staff that just doesn’t give a shit about life?

MNW: (1) My personal favorite is Barenaked Ladies’ “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings”, or “O Holy Night” if I’m doing it for the churchier crowd. (2) BRT has, like, the exact job I want--only not in Nebraska--so...I mean, her. Otherwise Jesse works for Google, and I’d like to make money at some point in my life. (3) WSR is a glorified accountant or something. Or beezer, but mostly because he’s short.

Zuzu: 1. Sleigh Ride, instrumental, Boston Pops. 2. GoForThree in his past life hands down, 100 times over. 3. None of the others went to Rutgers therefore none impress me.

What is the OTE handle you find most creative? -- badgersrox

Candystripes: It’s probably cheating to name another writer, but I was a big fan of WhiteSpeedReceiver from the first time I saw it.

GF3: “ImFromMarylandAndNobodyCanBeatMe” is the hands down winner.

Beez: WhiteSpeedReceiver is a classic example of a great name masking a terrible everything else. I always found DoYouLoveHawksOrHate’Merica to be an amusing name. GoForThree is a great trolling name. I don’t know who Chris Harrell was or why his mustache is important, but I’ve always liked the ChrisHarrell’sStache name.

Thumpasaurus: The very most creative names on this or any other sports-related blog or message board are ALWAYS the ones that tell you where the user lives and/or is from, what team they’re for, and NOTHING ELSE.

MNWildcat: Shit.

BRT: Probably all of the “Boiler8x” we’ve got running around. Just absolute gold. And while it pains me to say it, I did enjoy DoYouLoveHawksOrHateAmerica as a name. Just absurd and tough to shorten, but pretty funny.

Zuzu: Badgersrox only because it can be read so many different ways. "Badgers r ox" which is legit how I say it my head. "Badgers rox," the boring way, or even, "Badge rsrox," whatever that means.

Best liquor for office Christmas gift exchange? Seriously, everyone gives wine… a few will go harder, but what is the best seasonal liquor that people will actually want, but it might not seem generic? -- GTom

Andrew K: Us lawfolk are partial to the scotch/bourbon family. Not exactly seasonal, but fun fact, you can dump just about any alcohol into eggnog and it still tastes ok.

Make it a few smaller bottles of harder stuff along with good cocktail mixers. Something like a small bottle of spiced rum with some good apple cider. A small bottle of Bailey’s with an array of different hot chocolate mixes.

Townie: If I’m giving booze, I usually give a nice bourbon. Gin and tequila are hit or miss. Vodka is too bland. The one I appreciated the most as a recipient was a bottle of Cuarenta y Tres. That’s really nice.

Creighton: For a serious gift exchange I think you should always go with a nice bourbon or single malt scotch. If you’re thinking outside the box, you could go with a craft bottle from a local/regional distiller or, as I like to do, pick up a few bottles of stuff you can’t get in the states when you travel abroad and give those out. You don’t even have to spend a lot of money on those, the novelty of them is cool enough.

GF3: Not seasonal per se, but a bottle of Ginginha from Portugal is fun and it’s really light for people who don’t like the hard stuff.

Beez: Liquor? I barely know her!

Thumpasaurus: Liquor in the front, poker in the rear. The police are on their way already.

WSR: Jameson. The more you like the person you give it to, the older you get. I’ve given a couple bottles of 18 in the past for people that have gone out of their way to make my life easier. (Then when it’s time to have a drink, they’re more than willing to share one with you.)

MNW: I do mix-and-match gifts for the couple co-workers/advisers/faculty I actually like, and it’s always some kind of Minnesota beer, wine, or spirit. Something that makes them think “Yeah, he does Midwestern history, and he’s never going to fucking stop reminding us of that.” (Because I won’t.)

BRT: Consider something not liquor, like a gift certificate to a good local restaurant. I know “everyone” likes booze, but I’ll guarantee there’s someone in the office who struggles with it, and it’s super crappy when everything is booze. Be the creative hero and bring something else that doesn’t suck!

Zuzu: Rumpleminze. Nothing says, I want you to and you deserve to get f'd up like Rumple.

What did you ask Santa for this Christmas?-- AlltheIowanamesaretaken

Boilerman: I’m not greedy. I just asked for a 18-year old Single Malt Scotch and Purdue in the Final Four, is that too much to ask?

Jesse: I’m sort of hyper focused on a new smoker right now so we’ll see how that goes. Ideally, I’m going Green Mountain Daniel Boone Wi-fi. I feel like that’s me asking Santa for a Red Rider Carbine Action BB Gun.

Creighton: Some Iowa branded man cave accessories, for West Ham to finish higher on the EPL table than Manchester United, assorted beers, and some dignity for Dan Dakich.

MNW: Funny, that’s also what I asked for!

...well, not the Iowa shit. Or the Dakich dignity, because fuck that clown.

But the West Ham finish and some beer sounds really damn good to me.

Beez: Red Dead Redemption 2, this house purchase to go smoothly, and, as always, for my totally real girlfriend in a different state to have a good Christmas.

BRT: Thanks Beez. I asked for a drill/driver. I’ve been borrowing my mom’s since I bought my house this summer, and it’s dead useful and I want one for always. Let’s gallery wall up this b*tch.

Thumpasaurus: Well, Lovie got me a couple of pretty good recruits already, so I guess I really want a Khalil Tate.

WSR: Nothing I’ll get until about May.

*Zuzu:* A silent brass trombone practice mute.