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DSS Mailbag #3: Samuel Blogger and the Prisoner of Bags-kaban

Absolutely do not call it DSS Mailbag #3: Samuel Blogger and the Prison of Bags-kaban

Welcome to the DSS Mailbag, our new weekly-ish feature at DSS where J. Sam Jones takes your assorted questions and exploits them for content and a chance to stand on the soapbox that DSS has given him for no explainable reason. If you’d like to send in a question for next week’s bag, just want to say mean things about Sam’s writing, or want to apologize for a previous tweet or email where you were inconsiderate and really hurt my feelings, you can send words to @J_SamJones on or Nothing is off-topic because there is no topic. There’s a legitimate chance you won’t enjoy this and it will hurt a little. All answers are final and unquestionably correct. All in all, as one DSS commenter once said, “Nothing to see here folks. This was a waste of time.”

Hi y’all. Your pal Sam here.

Atlanta United is good at soccer again. Which is good.

Their goodness has inspired me to take a crack at another mailbag. It will not be good, but at least I’m trying. We’re also in the middle of a break and neither of us have anything better to do we are. Fair warning, this one is longer and weirder than ever despite having fewer questions than the others. But what else are you going to do, right?


Don’t say “Literally anything else” I know you don’t actually mean, you know what, whatever, Look! A reader Question!

You’re on the edge of a cliff, Jeff Larentowicz dangles from your left arm, on your right arm your mother hangs on for dear life. You can only choose one. Where do you and Jeff eat later that night? - Charlie Cox


Much like the many warm, freshly prepared options on Chili’s “2 for $20” menu that me and Jeff will be sharing.

Who would win in a fight? LeVar Burton or Larry - Ben Morales


What the * heck * is wrong with you people?

No one wins when the best of us fight, Ben. What kind of world are we living in when I even have to explain that? We should all be striving to be as pure and kind as two people who are all but canonized for their actions at this point. Except for those of us that are already lost. They should just give up.

Anyway, off to go yell at strangers on Twitter about flags or something.

What does Julian Gressel have to do to not get benched when Barco returns? - Gabriel J. Gonzalez

There was time before curfew.

Julian and his teammates had already worked their way through the typical college bars around Cambridge. If their coach knew they’d be dead, or worse, benched. But there is honor among thieves and college soccer players sneaking out to bars the night before games. The rest of the Friars had retired to the hotel early, disappointed with the lack of co-ed patrons at the bars and their inability to muster up the courage to talk to the few that were there at 9 p.m. on a Wednesday night. The curfew did it’s job in that regard.

So, Julian found himself alone in Cambridge with an hour to kill before he was shepherded back into the hotel to watch reruns of Pawn Stars or whatever free cable and a lack of access to free WiFi forced him to stare blankly at until he fell asleep. The next day he would wake up and he and his teammates would take on Harvard in a non-conference game. Until then, Julian walked around a college campus. He wasn’t sure which one. It was dark and his mind was cluttered with the normal thoughts of a college athlete. He hardly had time to pay attention to signage.

But as he walked something caught his attention. In the darkened windows of the building across the quad he noticed a glowing light. The building seemed to be closed. No one else was around to notice the light with him. “Strange that it’s so empty,” Julian thought. “It must be spring break.”

In the bleakness of the Massachusetts spring the light emanated a warmness. He stared for a moment and felt...swaddled. His curiosity rising and his comfortable feelings toward the light bordering on familiarity, he walked at a quick step toward the building. He didn’t know how but he knew it would be open.

The door opened with ease and as it closed behind Julian the silence of an empty building enveloped him. Then he heard it. A low hum. Like that of a yogi in meditation. He followed the noise. He climbed a flight of stairs, turned a corner and was immediately greeted by the same light he saw from the yard below.

Thoughts of curfew were miles away.

Julian walked to the room where the light escaped from. The door sat slightly ajar. He pushed it open and stared, face to face with a machine straight from the most campy of science fiction movies. But there it was. And it was real. A circular opening surrounded by metal framework and technology that looked far more fiction than tangible. What could only be described as a portal filled the opening. Julian inched forward. He reached out a hand. Unsure of the outcome but confident that his hand floated inches from infinite knowledge of the world.


Julian jumped and didn’t land for twenty minutes. He regained his senses and noticed a...a man (?) draped in a Sesame Street blanket, Crocs on his feet and nothing else.

“I’m Ashley Cole,” the figure said.

Julian began the strenuous effort of communicating with the figure. He only spoke one phrase, but yet he seemed to be in charge of the machine.

Through a series of interactions that took up nearly 1,000 words in the first draft of this, Julian and the figure were able to come to an understanding. The figure was there to help Julian. He pointed out to Julian that the machine was a time machine, a fact he made Julian aware of by writing “time machine” in crayon on a chalkboard. The “c” was backwards which Julian thought was kind of adorable.

The figure was prepared to offer Julian help but Julian had to trust him. Whatever happened Julian had to accept that it was part of the process. To return to the room he simply had to hit the red button the figure had given.

Now fully prepared thanks to mysterious and unnamed figure, Julian stepped through the portal. He found himself in the middle of a street. He took in his surroundings. Kids were playing soccer a short walk down the road. Nearly every single one wore a Lionel Messi jersey. Some were real and some makeshift. He was in Argentina.

He walked towards the game. Immediately he could tell that one kid was far and away the best of the group. He watched the tiny boy weave through the defense a few times. He was quick. Julian watched him score a couple of times but lost track of the game as he began to decipher the riddle the Crocs wearing figure had put before him. Why was he here? Should he just hit the button now? This seemed futile.

His thoughts were interrupted by a ball clattering into his feet. The boys called for it back. Julian had been struggling with his passes lately and the pass missed everybody. He attempted to apologize in broken Spanish as the ball sailed beyond the intended target and into the intersection behind the “goal” they had set up. The boy Julian had been watching earlier sprinted after it. The boy wasn’t paying attention. A car speeded into the intersection directly at the boy. It narrowly missed him. The boy had used his agility to dodge the car but as he moved away his foot found a small hole in the road. His ankle turned. The boy cried out in pain. Then he yelled out in unexplainably perfect English, “I’m sick and tired of accidentally hurt myself playing this game. I will stop playing and rededicate my life to becoming a doctor so that I may help others who are in similar pain. I will do this or my name isn’t Ezequiel Ba—”

Julian, disturbed by the incident, pounded the red button. Lord knows who that kid was or what he was about to say but he didn’t want to stay around and find out. He felt the world melt away around him. He closed his eyes. When he opened them he was back in the room with the machine. He looked for the figure but he wasn’t there. Julian looked at his watch, remembered the curfew and began a sprint back to the team hotel.

On Sunday, May 20, 2018 Julian started at wingback for Atlanta United against New York Red Bulls. He scored after cutting in from the right wing and as he took in the adoration from the capacity crowd he noticed a figure. A figure in a Sesame Street blanket and Crocs. The figure nodded at Julian before being absorbed into the celebrating crowd. Julian smiled and thought to himself, “I’m Ashley Cole.”

Well that was weird. - Sam

Yeah. So. Shut up.

Can we not do that ever again. - Sam

I make no promises.

Even MORE important question: are boneless wings just glorified chicken nuggets? - Gabriel J. Gonzalez

They are. They’re also delicious and more enjoyable than regular wings. Please @ me.

If you were to compete in a wing-eating competition, what would be your strategy (meals ahead of time, flavor, beverage, drums/flats, etc)? Follow-up: what are the chances of forming a DSS competitive eating league? - Josh Bailey, who we’ve allowed back into the mailbag after being banned in the last one

For those of you that don’t know, Josh is referencing DSS’s infamous Copa-de-Glutton, a wing eating contest designed to raise money for The Fugees Family YYY. An idea that, no, seriously, actually worked. We were able to raise $1500+ thanks to our friends at The Faction and thanks to Darren Eales. Both support our stupid ideas and we don’t know why.

To answer the questions, I’m not eating for a week beforehand (not by choice but because I’m a soccer blogger and can’t afford food), I’m going all mild drums to make it as easy as possible on myself, I’m going water for health and competition reasons, and I’m still losing by like thirty wings because I’m a freaking lightweight.

The DSS competitive eating league is coming soon. Be patient.

Now that Tito has a headed goal, who is your most unlikely player who is not a keeper to notch a goal with their head? - Jarrett Smith

*laughing hysterically at the thought of Mikey Ambrose scoring a header*

What’s the next tattoo going to be? - Caleb Leon

A tattoo of someone asking “What’s the next tattoo going to be?” or making the same “Oh that was almost another tattoo” joke every time Larentowicz breathes somewhere inside the 18-yard-box to remind myself that I’m in a hell of my own creation.

Best BBQ in Atlanta. Best local brewery. Only one answer on the first prolly two on the second - Emres Brylcreem

I’m only qualified to answer the first one unfortunately. Working on gathering enough intel for the second one before I say something lame like Sweetwater. Unless that’s the right answer. Which in that case I choose Sweetwater. I like Sweetwater, fight me.

Anyway, the best actual BBQ is Fox Brothers. The best BBQ restaurant is Community Q.

I am 100% right. Thanks.

Scale of 1-10: how much of a difference did it make moving Larry from CB to CDM? - Zach Russell


The guy is still one of the best CDMs in the league on relatively rested legs. He is definitely not one of the best center backs. Everyone gets better when we have the personnel available to play him in the midfield. CB is and should be a last resort. We all know this. It’s like he’s a different person back there. It’s bizarro world Jeff. CB Jeff drives five miles over the speed limit instead of under. CB Jeff casually uses Balsa wood to make carvings. CB Jeff gives his phone number to the checkout person at Barnes & Noble with no regard for how the government will use it to trace him. CB Jeff is not our Jeff.

As I look at the schedule, ATLUTD should take not less than 10 points from its first 5 games. I think 2 points a game is the number a championship team should be striving for and matches the “tie on the road, win at home” mantra which governs MLS. In this case, Atlanta has 3 home games in its first 5, including one against DC United. With 3 total games against DC United, and no wins against them last year, how important is it to get a win at home during our March 11 home opener? For me, I see it as a must-win game to set the tone for the season and show some improvement over last year. I know that’s ridiculous for the 2nd game of the season, but it feels that way to me. Your muddled thoughts will be appreciated. - Jeff, Va-Hi

Really should start answering these things each week...

I’ve got good news though Jeff! I would share it but;

  1. You probably already know.
  2. I WOULDN’T WANT TO BORE YOU WITH ANY OF MY APPARENTLY DIFFICULT TO COMPREHEND MUDDLED THOUGHTS. I would be angrier but I totally left your good question in mailbag purgatory over a couple of weeks. My bad Jeff.

Rank these in terms of most hateable:

Imagine Dragons, Nickelback, Daughtry, Creed, Chainsmokers - Haris Kruskic

From most “likeable” to most hateable:

6. Chainsmokers - They’re new to the game. I’m not saying that won’t be at the top of the list in ten years but these other bands have been making trash for years. Longevity is important on the hateometer y’all.

5. Daughtry - Is it really Chris Daughtry’s fault that the American people wanted to pretend they were “cool” and vote for the “rocker guy” on a reality tv show that definitely predicted Trump being elected if you really look at it? No. Otherwise he would have just been another unknown dude making crappy music and complaining about how “Chinese Democracy” was under-appreciated to high schoolers walking by his van. Should we still hold him accountable for making some of the worst radio Butt Rock of the last 20 years? Yes. Yes we should.

4. Creed - The ones that started it all. Kind of. I’m not saying it’s all Scott Stapp’s fault but I’m not not saying that. In the end they’re just a terrible band with a couple of hits that got a bad rap with a fascinating insane person as their lead singer. (Bonus points for Scott Stapp being involved in the greatest story of all-time) Their biggest affront is paving the way for this next band...

3. Nickelback - The real problem here is that these guys were just not-terrible enough at writing hooks that you would catch yourself singing these songs without realizing it in some kind of weird Canadian subterfuge. And then you think maybe their not so bad. And you look further into their catalogue and hear songs like “Something in Your Mouth”, a song where their lovable rapscallion of a leader Chad Kroeger sings about how a girl would look way better with...erm...yeah.

What really puts them over the top is how “there” they’ve been. They kept having “hits”. How??? They’ve gotten more air-time than all three of the previous bands combined, with multiple songs making the top 100. We as a people know they’re bad. We routinely and openly make jokes about their badness at creating meaningful art. But from like 2003 to 2013 we kept listening to them. They’re the worst because they expose the worst in us as humanity.

2. An actual literal nuclear holocaust happening this very instant.

1. Imagine Dragons