Our Very Busy 2014

What an eventful year it has been for the Doolittle/Dolan/Dog family! I’ll be lucky if it all fits in one post. But first let us offer warm winter wishes, annual advent acclamations, and seasonal salutations to our friends, our families, and of course, to the person who taught Eireann about alliteration.

We learned a lot this year. Eireann learned that when you leave hair stuck in the shower drain for long enough, eventually it turns black and moldy.

The Ring

Sean learned not a change-up.

Stella learned that eating an entire box of expensive artisanal macaroons that Eireann was going to parcel out to herself throughout the day so she didn’t feel like she was eating them all at once was a very bad thing and she was a very bad dog and she needs to go in her crate right this second.

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But we also did a lot this year.

Eireann got her hair cut pretty short into a bob like Emma Stone and it looked supes adorbs.

Emma Stone

She also colored her hair bright blue and green and learned all the fun ways people give compliments. Like, “I could never get away with that!” or, “I’d like to do that but my husband would kill me!” or, “Why?”

She started using panko to bread things instead of plain breadcrumbs. That was a game-changer.

In January, she visited Al Udeid Air Force Base in Doha, Qatar, and she learned quite a bit about how her skin reacts to the desert sun without sunscreen.

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She was also lucky enough to meet with the Al Udeid K9 team and their respective dogs. She had to be restrained from trying to bring all of the dogs back to the US with her.

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Eireann continued to work from home for her amazing, thoughtful, talented boss J.R., who is likely reading this.

For Sean’s birthday, she forgot to order him a personalized cake in time, so she had to buy a cake at Safeway that said, “Go Team” and modify it slightly to make it look like it was intended for him all along.

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In October, Eireann saw a man at the mall who looked exactly like the dad from Family Matters, but it turned out upon closer inspection to be just a guy.

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While Eireann has certainly had herself quite a busy year, Sean continued to play tee-ball over the summer with his friends. I think he played the tee, I forget. You’ll have to ask him.

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Happy holidays, everyone!

Love,

The Doolittle/Dolan/Dog Family

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The Time My Brother Died But Didn’t

When I was five years old, my parents got my brothers and me a guinea pig. We loved it immediately. It was an albino guinea pig with red eyes. It looked like something that would get murdered in the Louvre or that cracks the DaVinci Code or I don’t know I never read or saw The DaVinci Code. 

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My parents let my younger brother TJ and me name the guinea pig. TJ wanted to name him Bingo. I wanted to name him Jenna (I wasn’t a smart child). We compromised and named him BJ.

Stop it, don’t be gross.

One day, my mom had to clean BJ’s cage, so she set up an enclosure in the backyard to hold him. She put a towel over the corner of the pen to create some shade. But BJ, being but a simple albino guinea pig, didn’t know what was good for him, so he stayed in the sun. And he died.

My mom tried her best to hide the evidence until she could think of a way to tell us that our first pet had died suddenly under her watch. She finished cleaning his cage, which is a weird thing to do if you are a regular person whose children’s pet just died, but not if you are my mom and you are trying to cover your tracks like a sloppy accidental murderer who just needs a minute to think.

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She laid him in his now-fresh cage and told us he was resting after playing outside all day. It was like Weekend at Bernie’s but with an albino guinea pig.

The only thing missing was the tiny pair of sunglasses.

Weekend at Bernie's

We didn’t have time to question it because we had to go to our yearly doctor appointments that day. We were due for inoculations. My mom would tell us about BJ after we left the doctor’s office because we’d already be upset from the shots. She really does think like a sloppy accidental murderer.

In the car on the way home, she finally told us what had happened: She’d put him in the backyard and he was playing in the sun too long, so his heart stopped and he died.

And that’s how she phrased it.

Now we were not only mourning the loss of our dearly beloved Blow Job Dolan, but my mom had also planted the horrifying thought in our heads that if you have too much fun playing in the sun, your heart might stop and you might die instantly.

We pulled up to my house and my dad was already home from work. He hadn’t heard about BJ yet. This was before cell phones, and a dead guinea pig wasn’t worth disturbing my dad at work.

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My older brother Mike and I got out of the car first and came into the house crying. My mom stayed back to help TJ out of his booster seat.

My dad asked what was wrong and I choked out the words that BJ had died.

My dad turned white and collapsed back onto the staircase. I didn’t know this, but he thought I’d said TJ had died.

He asked us how it happened. I repeated what I was told: that he was outside playing in the sun and his heart stopped.

He asked where my mom was. I told him she was still in the car.

He asked where we’d just come from. I told him the hospital.

He stopped both blinking and maybe even breathing.

Minutes later, TJ walked in through the front door. He was too young to understand the enormity of the misunderstanding taking place just inside.

At seeing TJ, I saw a look on my dad’s face I’d never seen before. Like the look of a man who’d just seen a murdered Leonardo DaVinci’s ghost in the Louvre and now he had to decipher his code.

My mom finally walked in and saw Michael and I sobbing uncontrollably, my dad, whose face was still drained of color and with tears in his eyes, holding on to TJ like TJ was the slip of paper onto which the deciphered DaVinci code was written.

I need to either stop making guestimated DaVinci Code references OR I need to see the movie.

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My mom, not knowing that my dad had just seen TJ Lazarus himself over the course of two minutes, surveyed the scene and remarked to my dad, “I didn’t even think you cared about him,” and went into the kitchen to start dinner.

So I guess there are two lessons here:

1. Never give your kids’ pet a name that is at all similar to the name of one of your kids.

2. And most importantly: Don’t play in the sun too much or you might die instantly.

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How to Talk to Women About Sports

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Dear Men’s Health

I’d like to submit the follow tips and tricks to learning how to talk to women about sports. I look forward to hearing back!

1. Make her watch Brian’s Song with you. Let her see you cry. She needs to know you can be a total girl about sports too.

BriansSong

2. If she angrily asks why Mattingly would, say, bench Puig in an elimination game of a division series only to pinch run him in the 9th when he’s got an injured ankle, ask her if she’s on her period. Sure, you’re probably annoyed by it too, but her annoyance is probably PMS-related.

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3. Mute those weird English lady Viagra commercials. Those aren’t for her.

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4. Mute those annoying Chevy Truck Month Commercials. She’s going to say something like, “how insecure do you have to be to buy one of those enormous monstrosities?” You know the answer to that question: Very. Those trucks are awesome.

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5. Rather than throw a bunch of confusing and math-y stats at her, explain it to her in terms of Sex and the City. 

For example, you can say, “Mariano Rivera retired with a career 2.21 ERA and a 82-60 Win/Loss Record. Think of each win as a Mr. Big, and each loss as an Aiden. Well… I guess each loss is probably more like a Berger… Wait, which one is the guy who built furniture?”

When she says, “What kind of an idiot looks at a Win/Loss record for a pitcher? The win stat doesn’t tell us anything helpful about his performance on the mound, it only tells us how the offense responds on the other half of the inning. And why would you care about the win stat for a relief pitcher? Isn’t WHIP, or K/BB, or the holds or saves stat much more usef–”

Then you can cut her off and tell her to stop being such a Miranda.

Miranda

6. Tell her to think of the playoffs as The Bachelor. Each team gets awarded a rose by scoring more points or runs than their opponent within the allotted time of play.

Some teams are total wild cards and advance more than anyone expected. Like that one girl on The Bachelor who totally had crazy eyes and got super clingy right away.

But other teams seem like a lock. Like that one girl who was so sweet to her parents and who won the solo date on the hot air balloon. The one with the shiny hair. That girl, I mean, team, is totally going to the finals.

WARNING: Do not try to explain the BCS to her in terms of The Bachelor. Don’t try to explain the Rose Bowl with an extended metaphor about a really important rose ceremony. It doesn’t apply and both of your heads will explode.

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7. Think of her as another adult, if you can. One who has a fully operational brain capable of understanding stats without having to put emotions and story lines behind them. This is not advisable if you are incapable of speaking to people without condescension.

8. If all else fails, feel free to follow these women on Twitter. I’m sure they’d love to field all your questions:

@Lana

@AmandaRykoff

@KayceeSogard

@SusanSlusser

@JaneMLB

@HangingSliders

@espnW

@EmmaSpan

@atotalmonet

@alliekranick

Deadspin

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Sean Doolittle Appreciation Day

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(FORWARD: Sean is going to hate that I wrote this. But he’ll never tell this story, so I’ll have to.)

Sean went to bed late last night. He watched three DVR’ed episodes of The Simpsons to take his mind off things.

He’d gotten a nasty tweet from some anonymous fan who said that he blamed Sean for “losing” the Wild Card game against the Kansas City Royals a few days prior.

That’s not really anything new to any athlete who has a Twitter account. After every mediocre-to-poor outing he pitches, he gets a series of tweets from armchair “pitching coaches” on Twitter.

Get a change-up bro! Why didn’t you throw it faster? Your hair is weird! Why’d you throw a slider on an 0-2 count, loser! I hate your beard! You should be sent down to the minor leagues! You should be sent back to little league! I hope you tear your ACL! My mom didn’t hug me enough when I was a kid! 

Whatever. Those are easy to ignore. I mean, after a bad outing, nobody gets angrier at Sean than Sean. If you think his performance disappointed you, imagine how disappointed Sean is. Angry tweets can’t tell him anything new. He wants to win more than anyone. He’s still one of the best relief pitchers in baseball. But he’s human.

Being a relief pitcher is a pretty thankless job. Just take the ball and for god’s sake don’t. let. anything. happen.

But there are plenty of seemingly thankless jobs out there in sports. Relief pitcher is just one of them. How about being a late-inning defensive substitution? Pay attention and don’t drop anything. Or try being a long snapper in football. You don’t even know their name until they screw up.

It’s the job he signed up for. And it’s the job he’s thankful to even have.

He was drafted as a power hitting first baseman for the Oakland Athletics in 2007. He was once considered a top hitting prospect.

But then the injuries came. Three seasons worth of them. After three years of this, he felt like maybe the end of his road in baseball was on a minor league training table.

He started looking up college courses again so he could go back to school and finish up his degree at the University of Virginia. Maybe he could get a regular job. He’d devoted his entire childhood and adolescence to baseball, so he never had a chance to have a normal job, but what choice did he have?

But then the Oakland Athletics came to him and asked him if he wanted to start throwing in case his right wrist never healed properly. It was something to help him pass the time and stay sane. If you go to enough doctors/trainers/healers, eventually you’ll start to see yourself as broken. They didn’t want that.

The wrist never did fully heal, but throwing went better than anybody expected.

The A’s sent a scout to watch him throw a few live batting practices, and it went well enough that by the end of that day, Sean was a pitcher.

Fast forward a few months (19 minor league innings pitched, to be exact) to early June 2012, and he made his major league debut. The first batter he faced was Nelson Cruz. He struck him out. Then he struck out the next two guys too; Yorvi Torrealba, and Mike Napoli.

Cue up three bells tolling. 

He’s had ups and downs as a pitcher since then. Part of it had to do with the fact that pitching was so new to him. He never really failed on a professional level as a pitcher, so he never learned how to recover from failure. He had to learn to do that on the job.

It’s best to suck when nobody’s watching. Sean didn’t have that luxury.

Early in the 2014 season, he was offered an extension contract with the A’s. He wasn’t the closer at the time, so of course there was a lot of talk about why on earth any team would offer any extension to a lefty set up man.

Many wanted to know who got the best end of this deal. Was Sean ripping the team off? Was the team ripping Sean off? Who wins in this deal? 

I’ll tell you who wins in this deal: the fans. The day he signed his contract (an unprecedented one for a reliever), he met up with his friend Dereck, a lifelong A’s fan who’d been stationed at a US Army base in Afghanistan.

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Sean had sent Dereck care packages and notes and fostered a real friendship with Dereck without ever having met him in person. Now he keeps Dereck’s hat in his locker. If you see him talking to the media after games you can spot the camouflage hat behind him. It’s a bit of a talisman for him, but more than that it’s a reminder that there are people out there whose vocational margin for error is so much thinner.

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And that is not lost on Sean, who grew up in a military family. Whose father won a bronze star for his service in the Air Force during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Whose not-too-distant cousin was General Jimmy Doolittle; the man who launched the successful Doolittle Raid in World War II off the shores of nearby Alameda.

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Who, as a child, lived at Castle Air Force Base, close enough to the Oakland Coliseum (which, incidentally, is just off Doolittle Drive in Oakland) that they had season tickets to A’s games.

Who every year buys a truck full of Christmas gifts for underprivileged military families on behalf of Operation Finally Home.

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The weekend after he signed the contract, he met with Marcos Garcia, brother of Diego Garcia. Diego was another lifelong A’s fan who was tragically killed by a drunk driver a few months prior. Sean had seen photos of Diego’s funeral; the pallbearers were wearing A’s jerseys. Diego was buried in a Yoenis Cespedes jersey.

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He saw that the Athletics meant so much to Diego, and that Diego meant even more to his family and to his community. He had to do something. Sean immediately spoke to the front office about setting up a date for Diego’s family to throw out the first pitch at a game.

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Marcos threw out the first pitch on April 19th before the game against the Astros. It was a perfect throw. Right over the plate and into the glove of Yoenis Cespedes himself.

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The team also wins in this deal. They get a discount on an All-Star closer locked up for the next five to seven years.

And we win. We have the security of knowing where we’ll live for the next few years; a luxury for any athlete. Much less a relief pitcher. Much less a lefty relief pitcher. Those guys are lucky to get more than one year with any team.

Sean gets to play for his home team. The team he grew up cheering for in the stands of the Oakland Coliseum. He gets to play for some of the guys he idolized on the A’s in the early 90s.

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So keep fast forwarding (I’ll stop asking you to fast forward soon, I promise) to last Tuesday. Sean gave up a run in the 9th inning of the AL Wild Card game. It was on a bloop single into right, pinch runner, sacrifice bunt, stolen base, sacrifice fly. A bunch of little things that made a huge difference. It tied the game and brought it into extra innings.

I was sitting in the stands in Kansas City in front of all of my fellow Oakland A’s wives and girlfriends. Did they hate him? Did they blame Sean? Did they blame me by extension? I could feel their eyes on the back of my neck. My stomach turned. The Kansas City fans (wonderful fans, by the way) were ecstatic. It was fucking pandemonium.

It’s hard to watch Sean struggle in a game. It’s rare enough that I don’t worry too much about it. But it’s even harder seeing it happen on the road in such an important game. All the fans around you are screaming and laughing and cheering. Sean is a few hundred feet away. I can see his body language. He’s mad. Or he’s frustrated. But later he’ll be furious at himself. He may never forgive himself. I know that’s coming. I can see how much anguish was packed into his body at that very moment.

And while I know the happy fans around me aren’t cheering for Sean’s pain, per se, they might as well be.

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I wanted to throw up.

After the game, I gathered with the rest of the A’s wives and girlfriends in the tunnel outside the locker rooms under Kauffman Stadium. For some reason, the Royals security staff had put us in the same hallway in which the Royals players and their families were celebrating. We were told to wait there until our guys came out so we could get back on our respective one-way flights home.

We were steps away from a celebration we wanted so badly to be a part of.

Some of the wives were on the brink of tears. I felt for Adam Dunn’s wife. This was the first playoff game she’d ever been to as the wife of a player. Adam had played 2,001 games without ever making it to the post season. His 2,002nd game was the AL Wild Card game. And after the game ended, Adam retired.

I felt for some of the other wives who were getting hit with wayward sprays of champagne from the Royals team celebration happening ten feet away from us. Our guys would have to come out to this hallway past the celebration to find us reeking of champagne. Almost as a living, stinking reminder that we came so close to winning that game that we even smelled like we’d won it.

We were told gruffly to move to the side so that media cameras could witness the Royals celebrate their berth in the ALDS for the first time since 1985. Longer than most of us have been alive.

We sat on the floor of the hallway behind some cordons. Babies and small children up well past their bedtimes toddled past us. Some in diapers and nothing else. It was hot down there, and nobody wanted to fly home with a small child who smelled like a tiny alcoholic. So they took the champagne-sprayed clothing off the babies and toddlers and continued to wait.

Eventually the Royals took their celebration back into the clubhouse and we were left in a mostly silent hallway. The only sounds were muffled tears of some of the other A’s WAGs, the unmuffled crying of the hot, tired children, and the one-sided phone conversations many of us were having with various airlines trying to change our flights from Kansas City to Anaheim to Kansas City to our offseason homes.

That’s a phone call I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

After about an hour of this, Sean came out of the clubhouse with the look on his face I’d been expecting.

The greatest quality about Sean is that he’s accountable. Hell, he’s won awards from the A’s beat writers for being such a great interview; one of the good guys. 

Growing up in a strict military family, he learned to cop to his mistakes and to learn from them.

But he’s too accountable. If it were up to him, he’d shoulder all the blame. He does, and he did.

Twitter probably broke from all the nasty tweets people sent him that night. I got several too. People telling me I was dating a loser. Wishing death upon him.

I shut my phone off after I changed my flight. I asked Sean to do the same. Not tonight.

For the last week, we’ve watched the playoffs unfold. They’ve been fun to watch. Like, REALLY fun. But I know that Sean still blamed himself.

Last night we watched the Royals clinch a berth in the ALCS. It was amazing. They have an incredible team, and I hope they win it all.

I finally saw Sean smile after nearly a week. Seeing him enjoying watching another team win made me think he was finally better. He’d gotten past it. We could officially begin the offseason.

Then he got a tweet. Just one tweet. Someone said, in so many words, that he hoped Sean was being eaten up inside about how he lost the game for the A’s.

This was different than all the other nasty tweets he’d gotten before. I don’t know why, but it was. Probably because he actually was being eaten up inside. It was like someone had suddenly pulled a shower curtain back on his soul. And it was cold.

He gave me a look that seemed to ask, “is this what people think? Do the fans all hate me now? Did I let them down? Did I lose it for them?”

Of course he didn’t, but try telling that to him after his brain had already convinced him that he had. All he needed was one moron on Twitter to validate his thinking.

He got very quiet. His face looked more pained than it did when he first came out of the Kansas City locker room a few nights before.

I’m a very protective person, so a big part of me wanted to hurl someone into a goddamned well and leave them there forever. How dare they tell Sean what he’s already convinced himself?

He went to bed upset. That quiet kind of upset, which is the worst kind of upset.

I woke up early this morning to work. Let Sean sleep.

I suddenly got dozens of notifications on my phone. Some A’s fans had seen the ugly tweet from an anonymous “fan” to Sean and decided they didn’t agree with it.

Together they all tweeted wonderful messages of encouragement for him. They even got #SeanDoolittleAppreciationDay trending. What a seemingly small silly thing that meant so much.

Some shared funny pictures of Sean, many thanked him, and many more made it abundantly clear that the anonymous moron didn’t speak for their fan base.

The best part was seeing how many people realized that he does care. How many people get the opportunity to play for their favorite childhood team? Of course he wants them to win. And of course he hates it when they lose. That kid cheering on Rickey Henderson in the stands? He has a direct hand in helping his favorite team win. He is part of their fan base.

And what a wonderful fan base it is.

This morning felt like a cross between that last scene in A Christmas Carol and that last scene in It’s a Wonderful Life.

I was nearly speechless. I ran into the bedroom and shook Sean awake.

Sean, wake up! Something wonderful has happened!

– Did the Angels and Tigers get swept?

Well, yes… but that’s not what I meant… look, you’re trending on Twitter!

Sean sat up with a start and grabbed his phone to see what I meant. A look of happy disbelief washed over his face. They didn’t all hate him. They didn’t all blame him. Nobody was going to hunt him down and hurt him. Nobody wished he felt the anguish he’d already felt.

In fact, they… they love him.

Sean leaned out of our ninth floor window and yelled down to the San Francisco street below.

– You there boy, what day is this?

A group of hoodie-wearing tech bros on their way to work looked up. They wondered which one of them Sean was yelling to.

“Why it’s Sean Doolittle Appreciation Day, sir,” one tech bro yelled skyward, “and while I’ve got your attention, can you contribute to my startup’s Kicksta–

Sean slammed the window shut and smiled to himself. He hadn’t dreamt it.

– Eireann, go run to the store and buy the biggest roast goose you can find!

Are you sure you want goose? It’s so fatty. Besides, I don’t eat meat and I have no idea how to cook goose. I don’t think it’ll fit in our oven. Also I think I’ll have to go to Chinatown to find goose meat, and that’s a schlep. Are you really set on goose?

– Ugh okay fine, just order a pizza. No weird veggies on it. This is going to be the best Sean Doolittle Appreciation Day ever!

Sean, this is the first Sean Doolittle Apprecia–

Shutup, Eireann, let me have this.

You’re right. Sorry. God bless us, everyone.

TinyTimSE TinyTim

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Are Men Funnier Than Women?

(This piece was originally run on Ravishly.com)

Are men funnier than women? Ever since I was a little girl, that question has plagued me. Was my brother TJ really funnier than I was?

Why did my parents laugh harder when he stuck his takeout food chopsticks in his mouth and pretended to be a walrus than they did when I put lo mein noodles on my head and pretended to be that very same walrus?

Why did our friends think it was funny when TJ danced in our Irish dance recitals, but not when I did?

Was he funnier, or did people just like TJ more? Neither. It was actually sexism.

Sexism would have us believe that men are funnier than women. Sexism would make my parents think it was a good idea to have two sons but only one daughter. Are men really two times better than women? Is that what my parents would have us believe?

To answer that question, let’s look at two of my favorite comedies: Some Like it Hot and Mrs. Doubtfire.

Some Like It Hot (1959)

Some Like it Hot: This is a 1959 comedy classic. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis’s characters, Joe and Jerry, are on the run from the mob after witnessing a mass murder. These two men are painfully unfunny. They are just two bumbling fools. After their dangerous mob mishap, all they seem to care about is protecting themselves. Nothing funny about that.

Later, we meet Josephine and Daphne. These two deep-voiced divas are new members of an all-women traveling band called Sweet Sue and her Society Syncopators. I’m already laughing. Mostly because I love alliteration. Josephine and Daphne get into some very funny misunderstandings, but you really get the sense that they have good heads sitting atop those beautiful broad shoulders.

Verdict: Josephine and Daphne are funnier than Joe and Jerry.

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Mrs. Doubtfire: This is a 1993 children’s comedy about how much of a bitch Sally Field is. In the beginning of the film, we are introduced to divorced father of three, Daniel Hillard. He can’t keep a job, he doesn’t have a stable residence. And even his kids prefer the company of their new nanny, Mrs. Doubtfire.

Mrs. Doubtfire is a fun, elderly (yet energetic!) English woman. She doesn’t let her pantyhose, dress, hairy legs, and propensity for standing while urinating stop her from playing soccer with the kids. And in the pivotal restaurant scene at the end of the film, she even assaulted Sally Field’s character’s new boyfriend after he ate the last piece of shrimp! Her methods might be unorthodox, but the kids really love her.

Verdict: Mrs. Doubtfire is funnier than Daniel Hillard.

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So please, don’t ask me if men are funnier than women. Why don’t you ask Josephine and Daphne. Or ask Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire. Ask Tootsie, To Wong Foo: Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, or Tyler Perry’s Madea.

I think they’ll all agree with me; Women are funnier than men.

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