Before we delve into today's column, some loose ends from the past few days ...
As for today's column, let's just put it this way: I lost a bet in Houston last week, so I have a partner for his week's mailbag. Don't ask.
On to the e-mails (actual e-mails from actual readers) ...
Q: Was the Vito Spatafore/Security Guard incident on the Sopranos the most unlikely "switching of teams" in television history? I actually heard people in my apartment building scream when his head popped up. I would have been less surprised if I found out Gary Payton was gay. Can Vito even go out in public anymore? And where do you apply for the job where you sit on a lawn chair all day at a construction site with five of your best friends?
-- Tim Parliman, Hoboken, N.J.
JIMMY KIMMEL: I still wake up screaming as a result of that scene. It's the sort of thing that challenges everything you believed up until that moment in your life. Are my parents actually my parents? Does God truly watch over us? Was it really necessary to shower with my Dad? Though fictional, it damaged my Gaydar permanently and may have bruised the inside of my brain. With that said, the fact that they dropped that story line completely is, in my mind, the most unforgivable sin in Sopranos history.
BILL SIMMONS: I was one of the people screaming when the head popped up. That was one of the all-time, "Noooooooooooooo!" moments. Now I'm more concerned about the actor who plays Vito -- within like 48 hours, he was pulling an Eric McCormack and giving the "You know, I'm not gay in real life" interviews. Just wait until he's getting heckled at an Italian restaurant some night by some goomba who's re-enacting the "Now go get your shinebox" scene from "Goodfellas," only with some of Those Jokes thrown in. This is going to end badly.
Q: What is the greatest moment in sports history involving a moustached athlete? Here's my top six:
1. Mark Spitz wins seven gold medals at the 1972 Munich Olympics
2. Kirk Gibson hits a walk-off homer in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series
3. Dale Earnhardt wins the 1998 Daytona 500
4. Martina Navratilova wins her record 58th Grand Slam title
5. Hulk Hogan faces the Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania VI
6. Randy Johnson pitches a perfect game against the Atlanta Braves
-- Sean McCloskey, Philadelphia
JK: These are excellent choices (though I'm not sure how "anytime Rollie Fingers stepped on the mound" doesn't make this list). For me personally though, the No. 1 mustache moment happened 25 years ago this fall, when coach Gabe Kaplan led a scrappy Cadwallader College team to victory against basketball powerhouse Nevada in "Fast Break."
BS: Bastard. He took my answer. As a runner-up, I'll go with the time my Dad (who has an old-school handlebar 'stache) analyzed Memphis' Drew Gooden pick in 2002 by saying, "That suit has no buttons."
Q: What are the rules singers/bands should stick to as they apply to covering songs? I can't stand to see no-talent pop stars covering songs -- Clay Aiken covering "Bridge Over Troubled Water" or Jessica Simpson covering "Take My Breath Away." Do you think NO ONE should be able to cover a song without having at least five certifiable hits in their past?
-- Tim Rusch
JK: I'm not sure that your "five-hit" criteria helps any, considering the fact that Madonna covered "American Pie" and Duran Duran did "911 is a Joke." Then again, the greatest argument against cover songs was, is and always will be UB40.
BS: I think the song has to be different enough that it stands apart from the original version. Like when the Smashing Pumpkins did "Landslide," or the White Stripes sang "I Don't Know What To Do With Myself." Anything else is a violation. Like how the Ataris became famous for basically ripping off Don Henley's "The Boys of Summer," the defining "roll the windows down, it's time for summer!" song of the mid-'80s. Or the Foo Fighters re-doing "Darling Nikki," which made me want to punch somebody. Even when No Doubt re-did "It's My Life" by Talk Talk, I thought that was a violation. There's no reason to cover a song that was already good on its own, unless you're going to make it sound completely different. We need to legislate this or something.
Q: Who gets your vote for greatest all-time "Loser Celebrity Sibling"? After much deliberation I had to go with Eric Roberts. Wouldn't life be better for him if he had chosen, say, plumbing as a career? I mean this guy's sister is Hollywood's Darling, pulling in $20 mil a picture and he's forced to take the made-for-TV movie scripts Jean Claude Van Damme turns down ... couldn't she throw him a bone once in a while? My God, she must hate him!
-- Justin, Phoenix
BS: Another reader brought this up in a mailbag two years ago, calling it the "Fredo Hall of Fame." My list has been expanded to include Don Swayze, Prince William, Ashlee Simpson, Frank Stallone, Jeremy Giambi, the Shula siblings, the Schottenheimer brothers, Steve Sanders' half-brothers, Ozzie Canseco, Clint Howard and everyone in Snoop Dogg's family. At gunpoint, I'm going with Don Swayze.
JK: The fact that Eric Roberts is currently on a prime-time TV show (well, an ABC show, at least) disqualifies him from consideration. Does the sister/brother have to be a superstar? I think the semi-known siblings of former stars are even more pathetic. I go with Jimmy Baio. Or possibly Jonathan Kimmel.
Q: If an animal attacks a PETA supporter, do the rest of the PETA people have to stand there and watch it happen so as not to hurt the animal? Or, would the attackee even want to be saved because if he was saved, he would be interrupting the animal's meal?
-- Ronnie, Edmonton, Canada
JK: This is a great question -- particularly considering the fact that PETA supporters are frequently naked. One can only imagine the joy that would be derived from seeing a wild boar simultaneously drive both his tusks into Pamela Anderson's breast implants -- like a saline shish kabob -- while Paul McCartney looked on helplessly, wondering if his new bride's remaining leg would be the crazed boar's next meal. Ronnie -- if you are younger than 25, I'd like to adopt you.
BS: I'm afraid to say anything right now. Those PETA people are like Scientologists -- you don't even want to look cross-eyed at them. They're terrifying.
Q: Why do British people not have an accent when they sing? If I was lost in England and I asked for directions, would it be out of line if I asked them to sing it for me if I couldn't understand the first time?
-- Keith R., Ronkonkoma, N.Y.
JK: I've always wondered about this. I've given it a lot of thought and the only answer I can come up with is -- when they talk, they're faking it. It's a phony accent designed to make us feel dumb. The only English guy I can think of who sings with an accent is Ringo. Maybe he's just too far out of it to play along with the rest of the Brits.
BS: I don't like British people.
Q: Perhaps you could help me out on this one. I have a theory that there is no way anyone could come up with a comeback to Dutch's taunt in the locker-room scene in "The Karate Kid." In my opinion, his line, "What's the matter, Danielle, mommy not here to dress you?" while Macchio is putting on his karate garb just cannot be topped by any comeback known to man. It's especially good to use when you are beating your friend in a video game and he or she starts whining about how "unfair" it is. Can you think of a better comeback than this? I'm stumped.
-- Paul Shawcross, Columbus, Ohio
JK: Is it technically a "comeback" if Daniel-san didn't instigate the exchange? No. Please revise the question and get back to me.
BS: I think it's a waste of time to discuss a movie that wasn't even good enough to make ESPN25's list of Best Sports Movies of the Past 25 Years. Do you have any questions about "Cobb," "The Hurricane," "White Men Can't Jump" or "Finding Forrester"?
Q: Why has "The Real World" refused to cast an Asian male at any time throughout the show's 10-plus year history? We've seen every possible permutation of humanity imaginable (gay Latino male, straight black female, constant stream of Asian women, lesbians galore, etc.) except for the Asian man. Does anyone else notice this? As the years go by, this fact simply cannot be ignored.
-- Michael Son, Santa Monica, Calif.
BS: Hey, you're preaching to the choir -- I'm the guy who let out an audible groan when I found out that William Hung wasn't going to be in the "Surreal Life 3" house.
JK: Asian males aren't allowed on MTV. Outrageous, I know -- but Viacom policy is Viacom policy.
Q: A buddy of mine and I had the "who is the toughest guy EVER" debate going. Now this is limited to movies/TV/Music. After a long list of: John J. Rambo, Darth Vadar, Johnny Lawrence ("Karate Kid"), and maybe perhaps Johnny Cash. We came up with the conclusion that none other than Pa Ingalls is the toughest person ever to exist. Who would be in your top five toughest people ever list?
-- Chad Anderson, Chicago
JK: Pa Ingalls? That reference to "Little House on the Prairie" just made certain the name "Chad Anderson" will never make such a list. (In fairness, though, no one named Chad will ever make a "toughest" list of any kind.) Excluding the truly tough (those who have actually killed) and limiting the choices to famous names, I go with the following ...
5. Evander Holyfield (would you keep fighting after a man bit your ear off? What about when Tyson did it again?)
4. 50 Cent (actually enjoys being shot)
3. Roy (half-eaten by a tiger, still yearns to defy explanation and master the impossible every Tuesday through Friday nights and twice on Saturday)
2. Evel Knievel (is Evel Knievel)
1. Rosie O'Donnell (jumped Snake River Canyon)
BS: I'll go with real people as well ...
5. Steve Grogan (actually played QB with a neck brace one year)
4. Charles Oakley (everyone in the NBA is terrified of him behind the scenes, for some reason -- nobody has every fully investigated this)
3. The guy who played Chong Li in "Bloodsport" (there was no acting whatsoever for him -- I think he really did kill all those people)
2. Kevin Mitchell (read some of the stories about him in Jeff Pearlman's book about the '86 Mets)
1. Suge Knight (once said the words "I loved prison ... I had a ball in prison").
Q: I can never get a straight answer out of my local ABC affiliate as to why they refuse to air "The Jimmy Kimmel Show," and subject us to "Elimidate." Maybe you can give some sort of educated opinion why? Do they have to pay mucho dinero to air it? My hunch tells me the Bible Belt will never forgive or forget the greatness of "The Man Show," and will continue to hold that against him.
-- Jay Love, Winston-Salem, N.C.
JK: My theory is this. The state of North Carolina is involved in some sort of Clay Aiken-related conspiracy against me (why, I don't know -- I worship the man and jazzercise exclusively to his music). I have been negotiating with his people and hope to make a deal with them soon. In the meantime, did you know "Elimidate" is a combination of the words "eliminate" and "date"? Cool when you think about it.
BS: I think "Elimidate" is a REALLY good show.
Q: What happened to Meg Ryan's face?
-- Vince, Seattle
BS: I'm not sure what happened, but I remember when it happened -- somewhere during the filming of "Proof Of Life," the movie she made with Russell Crowe. It was like she went to Dyan Cannon Fantasy Botox Camp. I remember leaving the theater with my Dad and he was almost distraught about it -- he was reacting the same way he did when the Celtics traded for Vin Baker. It was a sad day for both of us.
JK: If every day of your life, a dozen people a day told you how much they loved your fake orgasm scene, your face would suffer, too.
Q: So I was sitting bored in a Constitutional law class and I thought if I got to pick the Supreme Court, the UCR would be through the roof. So here's what I came up with: Toby Keith, Harold Lederman, William Hung, Sly Stallone, Paris Hilton, Chyna, Malcolm Jamaal Warner, Stephen Hawking and Ruthie from "Real World Hawaii." C'mon, how hilarious would it be to see Sly walk into a courtroom wearing a leather robe and with his "Rocky II" hat. And seeing Lederman go back and forth with Stephen Hawking has got to be right up there with a Dikembe Mutombo press conference. Am I wrong here?
-- Scott Dempsey, College Park, Md.
BS: I'm just about in awe of that question. You know, you could come up with just about anything that involves Harold Lederman, William Hung and Sly Stallone and it probably can't miss. Even like a B-I-N-G-O game or something.
Q: Yo Bill, is there any bad blood between you and Jimmy Kimmel?
-- John D. Hoboken, N.J.
BS: We're cool. Much like the kids who leave the Neverland Ranch after a sleepover, I signed a confidentiality agreement on my way out the door -- I can't reveal details about his copious back hair, or the fact that he takes his laptop into the bathroom with him for 25 minutes, or the fact that he didn't see "Shawshank Redemption" until six months ago ... I can't mention any of that stuff.
JK: One would think that there would be some hostility directed toward a man whose official reason for quitting was "I need more time to watch television," but no. Bill and I remain very much in love.
Q: I came up with a fullproof idea for disproving that the WNBA is a real sport. You choose a person from a city that has a WNBA team and ask them the following question: "Would you rather your WNBA team win the championship or be walking along and find a $5 bill on the ground?" So far, I haven't found anyone that will choose the championship. What do you think?
-- Josh, Kansas City, Mo.
JK: I think you need to meet some more WNBA fans. Ask around at the dog groomer.
BS: I need to find out if L.A. has a WNBA team before I'm comfortable answering this question.
Q: You have been to Vegas on numerous occasions and, I'm sure, had your share of buffets nationwide. I'm kinda puzzled -- what is the deal with the omelet guy having a tip jar? Do you tip him BEFORE he makes your omelet, so that, I don't know, he can throw some extra ham and cheese your way? If you tip him afterward, then does the guy have any guilt that he didn't make a better omelet for you? And why does the omelet person get to have a tip jar -- why not the guy who is re-filling the vat of greasy bacon and sausage?
-- Denny Marcin, Chapel Hill, N.C.
JK: Buffets in Vegas do not have tip jars. Not even for the omelet guy. If you spent less time drinking mimosas with your mom on Sunday morning at the Chapel Hill Hilton and more time wolfing down peel-and-eat shrimp in between complimentary generic-brand tequila shots at Caesar's Palace, you'd know that. (By the way, this might also be the answer to the Macchio question.)
BS: While we're on the subject, why don't we tip people behind deli counters? When you think about it, who does more for you -- the wanna-be actor at Starbucks who sticks a 20-ounce cardboard cup under a coffee spigot, or the poor guy at the deli who has to lift the roast beef out, carry it over to the cutter, risk serious injury cutting the thin slices, weigh the slices, put the roast beef back, package up your sliced meat ... and then you're asking him, "Can I also have a pound of cheddar cheese?" Why wouldn't these guys have a tip jar on the counter? We need to totally revamp the tipping system in this country. I feel very strongly about this.
Q: Sports Guy, why are you still living in Los Angeles? Why would a Boston sports fan live in L.A. when he has no reason to? You used similar logic when you suggested that Ben Affleck can't be a real Red Sox fan because he dated a girl from the Bronx. What is the attraction in L.A.?
-- DJ Junior, Haverhill, Mass.
BS: I can't decide on an answer between "Um ... it's 80 degrees every day?" and "Every woman out here dresses like a hooker." So I guess I'll say both. But yes, I do miss Boston. Very much so.
JK: Here's a little secret I probably shouldn't let you in on, but I will: Wherever you're living right now, L.A. is nicer. In nearly every category, we win. No reasonable person who has ever spent any amount of time here would argue this -- and those who do are in denial. Our weather is better, we have more to do, more to see -- our gardeners charge 50 bucks a month -- and, as a group, the women here make yours look like livestock. L.A. is to cities what George Clooney is to men. Better. And those "earthquakes" we have once every 10 years? Spielberg, Lucas and -- starting next year -- DeVito produce them to scare people away who might be thinking of moving here. Please don't tell anyone.
Bill Simmons is a columnist for ESPN The Magazine and Page 2. You can reach his Sports Guy's World site every day on ESPN.com. Jimmy Kimmel hosts "Jimmy Kimmel Live" every night at 12:05AM on ABC.