KSK Mailbag: War Movies, Dog Names, and Ditching Exes

01.23.14 4 years ago 101 Comments



All right, welcome back to the all-new KSK Mailbag, which is open to questions of any nature (though still heavily skewed in the sex/fantasy football departments. I hope you enjoy it. Let’s begin.

Hello Captain,
I’m the commissioner of my league and I’m considering making a few changes. What are your feelings on an auction style process for free agents during the season instead of waivers? I had a few issues with some teams getting butt-hurt about not getting the players they wanted due to waiver priority and from what I’ve read the auction format seems to be entertaining.

Waiver priority is easy: if you want higher priority, hold off on making claims. Anyone who complains about that is just a baby who doesn’t like rules that reinforce patience and the delay of gratification.

That said, an auction waiver wire — like an auction draft — rewards the fantasy players who are most prepared and use their money shrewdly. It’s inherently more competitive (and difficult), and if that’s your league’s style, then by all means go for it.

What’s your take is on war movies? My father-in-law was in the service for quite a while and he refuses to watch any films that portray war because of some of the things he went through. I can’t say I blame him and I was wondering if you hold the same sort of anti-war movie stance as well.
Guy who won’t be watching Saving Private Ryan with FIL anytime soon

I do not hold the same stance that he does, though I certainly respect his position. Here are just SOME of the things that are wrong with war movies:

  • They often glorify something terrible.
  • They can reinforce xenophobic biases.
  • They create inaccurate portraits of American servicemen and women, either with broad strokes or in the simple military details unfamiliar to lazy Hollywood directors/producers.
  • Because people rely on pop culture more than the news, war movies can influence stupid people to fight in a war when a better education might steer them away from such a decision.

So props  to your father-in-law. I have a Marine buddy who wouldn’t go see movies about the Iraq war for a long time after he got back, because the memories were too fresh and he felt like it was war profiteering. Which is totally fair and probably accurate.

I, however, have purged most of my demons through writing, so I’m a little more emotionally divorced from the experience, which allows me to appreciate the upsides of war films, such as:

  • Their increasing ability to portray the U.S. military correctly.
  • Their ability to portray war as something terrible, and thus potentially deter people from the urge to fight them.
  • The chance to watch something with higher stakes than your average movie about jobs or relationships. War is as serious and dramatic as it gets.
  • The chance to find something relatable to my own military experience.

That last bullet is probably the #1 reason I’ll watch entertainment that depicts war — it’s comforting when something captures the boredom and terror and excitement of war in a way that’s more familiar than any civilian Joe can comprehend. This is why HBO’s “Generation Kill” is probably my favorite portrayal of war — not only does it portray the specific campaign in which I was involved (and the same service), but it does so in a way that shows the intellect, humor, incompetence, frustration, boredom, and bravery that goes into war. (There’s also an astounding level of accuracy in details — things like the lieutenants wearing their map pens tucked upside-down in their flak jackets to keep the tips from drying out.)

So I guess my answer is: I like war movies/miniseries that portray war as accurately as possible, which means said media needs to display the carnage wrought by war, which means I think most old war films are crap. The Sands of Iwo Jima? There’s like zero blood in that film. That’s garbage.



Hey Captain,
Fantasy: I haven’t played in a few years since breaking up with the commissioner of the last league I was in and moving to a new city. Since then most of the folks I know who play are coworkers who I don’t really know well enough to butt my way in, but I really want to get into one next year. How early should I start poking around next year, and what is the best way to approach things?

Craigslist. W4M. “Looking to date a fantasy football commissioner.” WATCH AS THE SEXY MEN ROLL IN.

No? Fine. I’d say either (a) make small talk/build friendships with your coworkers who play fantasy football — as it turns out, FF is a great small-talk topic — or talk to your closer coworkers/friends about starting a league. I mean, you’re not starting a fight club. You can be pretty open about a fantasy league. People aren’t gonna think you’re weird.

Sex (ish): As a lady who likes football and outdoor activities and works in a mostly male field I have a lot of dude friends. I also have pretty serious beer goggle/post-breakup goggle combination problem it would seem. While I don’t engage my friends, it turns out that at least some of the gentlemen are interested in more than my friendship, and I tend to have fairly minor slip-ups of making out with inappropriate people when I’m recently out of a relationship. The most recent of which is a long time very close friend (almost 10 years) who was in the middle of (although not quite through) a break up of his own with a girlfriend of about 6 years.

What man in a six-year relationship has a “very close” female friend? That’s weird.

Since they officially broke up he’s told me he has feelings for me. I suspect that it’s more loneliness talking than anything else, but either way I’m enjoying time on my own at the moment and probably not interested. What is the best way to deal with the situation that we can keep being good friends without leading him on at all? Or is that not possible?

-Lack of a clever sign off is probably why I’ve never written the mailbag in the few years I have been reading it.

So this friend of yours: yes, he’s lonely, because after six years with the same person he’s only comfortable being in a relationship. You’re the best choice for him, because you’ve already shown a willingness to make out with him and he already knows you so well. And, because he’s a male, his feelings of attraction probably date back, oh, a decade. So don’t dismiss his feelings as mere loneliness.

As for your friendship? I hate to dismiss ten years like this, but…


If stereotypical men are predictable in their desire for no-strings sex, the female equivalent is wanting cross-gender friendship that they can use for physical comfort in times of need. Neither model is fair to the opposite sex involved. In your case, telling him that you just want to maintain your friendship as it was before is essentially asking him to bottle up his feelings of desire. Don’t do that. This mailbag already has too many sad sacks writing in about being in the friend zone.


Dear Jack Nicholsons of the Wall between sex and fantasy football, and those of us gettin’ neither:
Fantasy football: Nobody likes to hear sob stories, and my three leagues this year ranged from great (riding a Marshall/Garcon/DJax tandem to a 2nd place finish) to mediocre (drafting ARod/Stafford/Ryan for depth, then flipping Stafford for Harvin right before his week 11 “return”) to going Spiller/MJD in the first two rounds and riding the kiddie coaster of unmet Expectation to the bottom of the standings.

All things considered, it was a good year.

Every year is a good year. I drafted Roddy White and Hakeem Nicks in our KSK league and started six guys off the waiver some weeks. It was the only league where I missed the playoffs, and I still enjoyed managing that team. Obviously a winning result for your team is the best outcome, but the process itself is plenty enjoyable.

Sex: As a 24-year-old male grad student who last September volunteered to help coach a women’s college club hockey team, there was a certain amount of disaster waiting to happen. However, I managed to navigate the dangerous waters and spend two drunken nights with exactly *one* of the players, and it turns out that she’s just a phenomenally nice and intelligent human being, and that I now have the opportunity to start what might hopefully turn into a great relationship with her.

I don’t think I’ve met anyone whose mind both understands and is understandable to me on such an exquisite level, and we just had a wonderful first date watching Inside Llewyn Davis at the local art theater (sorry, grad school). I was even inspired to write her a sappy, sentimental, above-all-earnest poem


that took the ending of The Graduate


and extended it into a 16-bar 8-6 A-B-C-B missive


that turned out to be only slightly more sufferable than my giddy reaction to the the Coen Bros. Al Cody/Bob Dylan sendup, which in the film also lacked the explicit ‘D’ (again, grad school…).

Seriously, how can someone so twee also be a hockey coach?

(FWIW, readers, the emailer included the poem in confidence. And it KILLS me to say this, but: it was really fucking good. It totally read like a Dylan song. Still: ugh.)

It was the first poem I’ve ever written for another person, and indicated my acceptance of her taking a trip in a month to visit her freakishly intelligent Ex-Boyfriend, who is both singular (in the sense that she had only one major one) and single. Yeah, that’s in mid-February. And she’s said that they dated for 4+ years.

Oh yeah, they’re gonna do it.

Meanwhile, the analogous girl on/by whom I have long been both hung-up and hung-up-on, respectively, has been asking if I want to fly halfway across the country to hook up over a weekend, and her birthday is tomorrow. 2014 has been a freakin’ whirlwind so far.

Well, at least you have the opportunity to get revenge on the person you write poetry for.

My questions are these:
1) How do I not screw things with the new girl up? As far as actual sexiness goes, the times we fooled around last year were eye-opening on my end, and probably less on hers. However, we’ve only had reasonably chaste kisses in the new year. I think this is a good thing, even if my hormones don’t.

I don’t speak fluent grad student, but what you’re saying is that she’s a lot sexier/skilled than you? If that’s the case, and you want to keep things going with Hayley Wickenheiser, maybe don’t fly across the country to bang your ex.

2) Specifically, how do I take honest and sensitive conversations about “us”, and turn them into honest and sensitive conversations about our feelings for our respective exes, and whether those relationships have truly ended in their previous form?

The best thing to do is build a new relationship together. Take her out, share experiences, and spend your time focused on you and her, not her and her ex or you and yours. It should happen organically. Build something stronger with her before you force that conversation.

3) What responsibility do I have to be considerate towards my own ex, and have respect for her feelings and struggles with adjusting to adult life without dwelling on the past and jeopardizing the new relationship?

There’s someone you like in your own ZIP code. Your ex is halfway across the country. Stop talking to her, dummy. “Thanks for the invite, but there’s someone I’m interested here, and visiting you would be unfair to her. SEE YA NEVER!”

PEOPLE OF EARTH: if you never got married or had children, there are overwhelming odds that you don’t owe SHIT to your ex. You broke up. It’s over. Don’t be friends. Stop talking.

4) Speaking more generally as a young man, how to I hold onto the grace and kindness that I’m stumbled into in the last month, and keep doing nice and considerate things that make me and others happy when the tides of life turn from pure gravy to utter shit?

The luckiest, most undeserving piece of cockiness you’d ever find on the bottom of your shoe in central Illinois.


Beats the shit outta me. Maybe hand-write or print out that poem and put it somewhere you see it every day. If it works out with you and Hockey, cool, ‘cuz it helped start your relationship. If it doesn’t, then it’s a reminder to be thoughtful and kind, even if it’s against your better judgment. And like I said, it’s a good poem.


Yo Captain,
Football first: I took over the reins of fantasy commissioner two years ago of a league I have been in for the last five. As I took over and people left I incorporated more of our college buddies we still see and a friend or two of mine. We are now set with a good 10-man core of a 12-man league. Every year we loss a person or two due to random reasons.

One of the guys that has been in for the last four years went through some health issues due to excessive drinking that we all chucked up to just partying to hard. When he started to turn yellow we understood he crossed the line from acceptable drunk to guy we have to check his cup to make sure he didn’t spike it with vodka. Since we are all close friends we had the special episode of {insert any tv show from your childhood that dealt with alcohol/drugs} where we gathered at his house an talked about how he is killing himself and ruining his marriage.

I just Googled “saved by the bell intervention”, watched the video, laughed, thought about embedding it here, realized you had a friend whose alcoholism was ruining his life, and decided maaaaaaaaaybe that was a bad idea. This column will never be syndicated.

Everything seems to have turned out alright so far. He went to a doctor and has been sober for the last 3 months. We all know he has a long way to go be we are hopeful. My questions is about his fantasy participation. Our buy-in was $50 which he didn’t pay this year, but with all that was going on I let it slide and covered it. Next year we are going up to $100. I failed to also mention he has been unemployed for almost a year and his wife works two jobs. With all that said he isn’t a deadbeat, it all just snowballed downhill for him the last year and as a friends we took to long to step in and give him a kick in the ass. I don’t want to kick him out but I know there is a pretty good chance he wont be able to pay. I know there is still lots of time before next season but I am trying to figure out how you politely toss a good friend out of the league that started out as just something to keep in touch but now evolved into our trash talking gambling fix that is taken very seriously.

Well, you CAN’T kick him out of the league. I mean, you can, but you’d have to be pretty damn heartless to do so. These are your options as I see them:

  • Get everybody in the league to chip in an extra 10 bucks to cover him next year. If he ends up winning the league, they all get their $10 stake back from the pool before he collects.
  • Work with a $1100 prize pool instead of a $1200 one.
  • Personally stake his $100 and agree to a cut of the winnings if he ends up taking the league. You’re being nice AND entrepreneurial!

Sex: Been married for the last fours and I love my wife, two year old son and life in general. I met my wife in the last year of college and we have been together every since. Prior to her though I lived the prototypical college life of wild parties, random hookups, not caring about tomorrow. By the time I met my wife I was tired of it all and she came into my life and the exact right moment. Now I am 32 and far removed from that party life but still young enough to tell stories and talk with the 20 somethings I work with. A few of them are rather attractive and I sometimes daydream about banging them at my desk on a late work night. Even though I know I wouldn’t do it I feel its fine to let my mind go there. My question is will there ever be a time in a mans life where no matter how happy they are with marriage and life they wont think about banging other chicks.
-Only as good as his options

I sincerely doubt it. Just be sure to keep those daydreams in your head.


Dear KSK,
I just found out 1 month ago that my sister (whom I love) is getting married Labor Day weekend on the opposite coast from where I live. But then I just found out 1 day ago that I’m pregnant (on purpose).

Yay! On-purpose pregnant is the best kind of pregnant!

It’s too soon for certainty, but it certainly looks like I’ll be nearly 9 months pregnant on Labor Day weekend and there’s no way any sane person would let me get on a plane.

So, I could call my sister right now, even though there’s a chance (higher with women my age) that things won’t work out, in the hopes that she hasn’t put a deposit down on her wedding and maybe can move the date a couple months in either direction. Or I could wait until the 3 month mark and all fetuses are safely ensconced in the appropriate places, just to avoid the whole “thanks for trying to rearrange your whole entire life for me, but now it turns out it was totally unnecessary because my body is a barren wasteland!” conversation.

I really didn’t want to tell my whole entire family just yet, but that is what telling my sister would mean (within a day all my cousins, aunts & uncles, remaining grandparents, etc would be in the loop). I can’t decide which option is the more selfish one. To be clear, I don’t want to be selfish. Any advice?

So when, exactly, would you want her to have this wedding? A month earlier, when you’re eight months pregnant? You’d still be crazy to fly. A month later, so you can take your newborn on a cross-country flight? I doubt that’s happening, either. Assuming she doesn’t want to get married in winter — who does? — the next realistic time slot is spring, and six or seven months seems like kind of a long time to push back a wedding that is presently less than eight months away.

BUT. Your sister is obviously counting on you being there, so I think it’s worth your time to call her up and ask how wedding planning going. Feel her out and see if any deposits have been put down. If it seems like there are still some things in flux, I think it’s worth mentioning that you’re expecting — and I think she can keep the secret. Like, your sister’s surely aware of the fragile state of a fetus in the first trimester (or if she isn’t, you can explain it to her). Even if she’s excitable and loose-lipped by nature, she wouldn’t want you to have to have to deal with the entire family in the event of a miscarriage — discussion of which, by the way, would detract from her wedding if you ended up attending it without a baby.


I had a pet-related question that I could use some help with. My wife and I are adopting a dachshund mix and we’re planning on renaming her (since the shelter stuck her with something unbearable – “Fifi”). My wife has decided she’d like to name the dog Penelope, short form “Penny,” which suits the dog perfectly well and would be absolutely fine with me. The only problem is that a good friend of mine has a daughter that they named Penny – short for Penelope. I don’t really want to name our dog after my friend’s kid, but we probably will, so what’s the best way to explain this to my buddy?
Barkevious Dingo

This all depends on how close your wife and your buddy’s wife/baby mama are. Like, if they don’t know each other at all, then you can just frame it to your buddy as, “Hey man, my wife really wants to name our dog Penny and there’s nothing I can do about it.” Then you shrug, he shrugs, and you both take another sip of beer.

But it’s a whole different thing if you hang out as a foursome. If your friend’s wife happens to be the least bit competitive about parenting, forget about it. She’ll end up secretly — or not secretly — hating your wife forever. (“I can’t BELIEVE Denise gave their fucking DOG Penny’s name!!!”) Better to name the dog something else. I recommend Weenie.


To celebrate Royal Rumble weekend: if you released all the animals from Noah’s Ark and put them in a giant wrestling ring, who would be the last left standing?

Elephant is probably a popular choice, but I think their size makes them an obviously target, and I could see the big cats teaming up to bring them down. I’ll go with grizzly bears, who have a nice mix of size, strength, and ferocity.

Sex: after my girlfriend of seven years left me in September, I followed your break-up advice almost to the letter (thanks for that, by the way). The only difference was the amount of time I left it to get back on the horse – I’ve had my first casual sexy time with a new female over the last three weeks. She seemed pretty cool, all in all, and I was ready to step things up soon-ish.

Until…she ignored me for a couple days, then sent a long message saying the reason for her silence was that while I was away working over the weekend, a friend who she’d ‘liked for a while’ (but who never showed any sign of reciprocating) had out of the blue told her he reciprocated. Nothing ‘too physical’ happened, but now she doesn’t know what to do (of course), isn’t sure what she wants right now (well duh) but really, really doesn’t want to hurt me (naturally). I feel like I’ve been reading the mailbag for long enough to know the answer to this, but I even though I was starting to really like her, I should get the fuck out of dodge, right?
I’d Like To Be Wrong But I Know I’m Right

Yup. No need to expend any emotional reserves on someone who only ever saw you as a consolation for someone she liked more. The only thing you should give her now is silence.


Hey ho, blogarino,
I’m a college student in Iowa, set to be a high school history/government/social studies teacher. I’m in my fourth year of a five-year program, and the last semester of the fifth year is spent student teaching. I recently came across the fact that student teachers are fully allowed to student teach out of the state and even the out of country and it will still count towards their licensing. I’d like to go out of the country (I’ve never been) for that final semester to teach in all-English speaking schools, hopefully somewhere like Germany or the Netherlands, or other “out of my comfort zone, but not by far” countries in Europe. Obviously it’s a big decision, and I’ve come up with a list of pros and cons for the endeavor.

-It’ll be an amazing experience, and I’ve always wanted to travel long-term abroad.
-It looks great on resumes.
-The year I’d go (2015) is inside the Hundredth Anniversary years for WWI and that would be a cool experience all on its own.
-Both main countries I’m looking at speak English pretty well
-All of my closest friends were in 4 year programs and will be leaving me behind anyway, including a girlfriend at grad school

Sorry for nit-picking here, but “WWI centennial” is NOT a strong bullet. It’s like saying the U.K. will be a great place to visit in 2015 because it’s the centennial of the Lusitania’s sinking. “The country will be filled with people not remembering it!”

-I’ll be missing out on chances to network with teachers here at home, an important thing for getting jobs in education
-It’s expensive to live there without a job (student teachers work full time but don’t get paid, wah wah)
-I’ll be leaving behind my girlfriend, hopefully fiancée by then- although she’s totally cool and encouraging about it, since she studied abroad last year. I wrote in about those misgivings here (last email). We got back together when she got back, and have been great, BTW. You were right about everything, as always. Go you.
-Also, having a girlfriend means no pro section about freaky deaky European sex :(
-I don’t speak a lick of Dutch, and only a couple phrases in German.
-It’s not guaranteed I’d get all the correct visas and junk like that.

So what should I do? I figure it’s mainly resume/life experience gains vs. networking/monetary losses.

Slap a butt for me,
Der Lehrer

Okay, back up a second. When she went abroad, the two of you weren’t dating. So she got a carefree five months overseas, while yours will be spent trying to find a time you’re both awake so you can Skype her to tell her how much you miss her. Sure, she’s leaving for grad school, but you’re actively putting more space between you and her, and that’s not typical for people who supposedly want to spend the rest of their lives together.


  • You will learn large swaths of another language.
  • Amazing life experience.
  • You will probably have to get a part-time job to make ends meet, which will introduce you to more people and help you learn the language. The hardship will build resilience and character, and ultimately make it a more enjoyable experience.
  • It gives you the chance to be away from your college girlfriend and rethink what the hell you’re doing. This is what you wrote after she broke up with you last time: “I wasn’t as sad after the break up as I thought I would be. A year of dating in my first serious relationship seems like it should have taken more than two days melancholy to get over, but other than music we shared or pictures of us I’m pretty much back to normal already.”


  • No freaky-deaky European sex unless your relationship falls apart.

Get out of the country and live a little. With the exception of people who end up in foreign prisons, no one regrets the money they spend on world travel.

Also, you’re not going to like me saying this, but you’re still SUPER YOUNG. Please, wait to get engaged until after you come back. If the long-distance thing works out for you guys, great! Put a ring on it then. But don’t ask her to spend her life with you and then leave the country for five months. That’s begging for disaster.

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