Ask Wessel: Distance Learning, Celebrity-Themed Restaurants, and More.

Each week I answer questions people send me in a soon-to-be award-winning column called Ask Wessel. Please send any and all questions to me on Twitter or email The weirder the better. 

Q: As a mother of two kids in elementary school I can tell you that virtual learning presents quite a new set of challenges. I am wondering how a younger Dana would have handled learning via zoom? – Ali

It is impossible to do some sort of power rankings on who you feel the worst for during the pandy, however you would have to put parents of school-aged kids near the top. I cannot even imagine what the last six or seven months have been like for both parents and kids. It has sucked for everyone – minus those dinks that own Facebook and Amazon – but parents have had it really rough.

As for me doing distance learning in the 90s? It would have been a disaster. I had a hard time paying attention when I was in a boring classroom. You know the type of classroom, with the dumb animal motivational posters and crappy artwork we had done recently plastered all over the walls. Nothing to do or distract you.

I figured I would reach out to the experts – my parents Dale and Sue – about how they thought I would’ve had handled distance learning. Here is what they had to say:

“It would not have worked well as you would not have been able to focus or stay focused!  You would most likely have been multitasking with school work, GameBoy, Legos and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!”

Yeah, that all sounds about right. Also, while we are on the subject, this distance learning offer I made still stands.

Q: First off, this is completely based off Hulk Hogan’s Pastamania [formerly at the Mall of America] but if you could choose three people to have restaurants, who would they be and what type of food would be served? – Patrick

I first just want to say how ashamed and embarrassed I am that I, a lifelong Minnesotan who was alive when the Mall of America opened, never once made it to Pastamania. It is a burden I have to carry with me every single day. 

I vow to never make that same mistake again. So here are three celebrities who could open a joint that I would absolutely hit-up. 

  • Keanu Reeves – I feel like the place would just be called “Keanu’s” and be super-chill. Hell, he seems like such a good dude I feel like the restaurant would just be at his house. He invites people in and cooks them whatever they want. “Or we could just order some pizza, ya know, whatever you guys are hungry for.” I also picture him dining with the guests and being a very gracious and gregarious host. Probably even sends you home with a gift basket with tasty fruit and the fancy kinda olive oil.
  • Stone Cold Steve Austin – Although Stone Cold has tamed down a bit as he has gotten older (saw he even drinks wine now!) this restaurant would have the feel of his 90s wrestling persona. Not only will the beers be served in cans but the server will lob them to you un-opened like fans used to do for Austin in the ring. You could then drink the beer however you see fit – shotgun, Stevewiser, whatever. They would serve great bar food. Wings and other meats by the pound. Probably not an ideal first date spot, nor a place you would want to host the 90th birthday party for grandma. But a great place to raise some hell and have some fun. 
  • Betty White – I bet you can picture it already. A Betty White-themed bakery/breakfast joint. Just that good ol’ down home comfort food with obscene portion sizes. The place would be decorated with Betty memorabilia and Golden Girls episodes on a loop. The place would set records for the amount of butter used on a yearly basis. It would be so cozy and wonderful.

Q: Taking cultural impact and history out of it, is there a case to be made that the Crash Bandicoot franchise outperforms the Mario franchise at its own game? Is separating gameplay from Mario’s impact even feasible, given Crash is a child of Mario? – Jordan 

Oh, my sweet former colleague Jordan. Such an adorable young cherub. So naive, having been born after the glory days of video games that he would actually ask something like this.

I enjoy me some Crash ‘coot but trying to say those games outperform MARIO?! THE Mario?! You gotta be joking my ass. I considered not even dignifying this with a response but decided as a lifelong card-carrying Nintendo Fanboy that it was my duty to educate young Jordan. 

I think you really hit the mark with your second question. I don’t think you can take the cultural impact out of things. There is no Crash without Mario. Mario is the godfather of platform games, the OG of kart racing. Mario games also still keep getting better 35 years later. You could make arguments that the most recent Mario and Mario Kart games – Odyssey and 8 – are the best in the series. It isn’t even like it is a glory days situation with our favorite plumber. Dude and his pals are still cranking out hits and going on rad adventures together after all these years. 

Q: Power rankings of the three Jackass movies? – Matt 

I think this just has to go in order, right? One-two-three. The first movie was such a big deal when it came out. I had just turned 17 when it was released so I was able to see it opening night. I remember the Carmike in Apple Valley was guarding the theaters showing Jackass like a damn bank vault. They were checking ticket stubs in and out of the theater, therefore nullifying the classic “buy a ticket for Happy Scrappy Hero Pup and then sneak into the theater showing the movie with the boobs and explosions” bit. They were also had someone stationed at the emergency exit so you couldn’t just go accidentally open the door for your 15 and 16 year old buddies.

The theater we saw it in was completely sold-out and the average age in the theater was probably 18. Right before the movie started they flashed that signature Jackass “don’t try this at home” graphic/warning and my buddy Tank yelled out “EAT SHIT!” and brought the house down. Set the tone for the rest of the movie. It was without question the hardest any of us had ever laughed in theater. 

The second and third were good, but there was something…I dunno, ‘pure’ might be the wrong word to describe a Jackass movie, but that came to mind when thinking about the orig’. The second one seemed like they were trying too hard to one-up each other. The third one they just got very suddenly old. Not in like a “hahaha we are old can you believe we are still doing this?” kinda vibe, but a kinda sad “still trying to pretend they are 24” feeling to it. 

OK, I just wrote like 250 words on the Jackass movies. Probably a good time to wrap things up. 

Let’s all raise a tall glass of orange juice and toast to the weekend! Oh, a holiday weekend! I almost forgot. Obviously doesn’t feel like a traditional Labor Day weekend, but we gotta make the best of it. Stay safe. Reach out if you need anything.