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Friday, August 17, 2012

Extolling the Virtues of Alcohol: Part One

I'm so happy I could just shit
Ah, sweet nepenthe. Ambrosia. How does one properly describe the heady pleasures found in the partaking of fermented drink? The release of inhibition, the muscular relaxation, the dulling of razor-barbed nerve endings. Only first-hand experience can present the case suitably. Anyone who says that they don't enjoy it isn't doing it correctly. Who can honestly say that reality is more pleasant than setting sail on a sea of blissful inebriation? Problems slough away like dead cells. Yes, they will still be there when you return, but for a few sweet hours they are but dim, unimportant twitches in your memory; reduced to insignificant annoyances to be dealt with at a later time. It gives you a faux sense of well-being that you will not find outside the delusional influence of a televangelist or perhaps, just prior to stepping forward onto a bed of hot coals at a Tony Robbins seminar. It will give you the courage to thumb your nose at a pool-hall full of cowboys and rodeo clowns with impunity while talking some sweet love-making to a jaded parking-lot squeegee. Your looks will improve as do those of anyone around at closing time who happens to strike your fancy. People will fall under your spell and be drawn to you like a panhandler at a convenience store. Your movements will become graceful and rhythmic on the dance floor leaving observers stunned and transfixed. You will be driven to display your prowess whether you can find a person who has attained the same level of confidence as yourself or not.

You're doing it wrong
Your conversational skills will be improved to a previously unexperienced level. Verbal communication will soar into the stratosphere, becoming a poetic symphony of well-placed grammatical witticisms and double entendre meant to entertain and seduce. Again, people who aren't on this level of communication will be intimidated by the blazing quickness of your repartee and your massive vocabulary, they will flee in shame. You will find that people everywhere are drawn into a fascinated trace-like state as you regale them with anecdotes and snippets of wisdom that suddenly come spewing to the front of your cranium like a dam has burst inside of you. People will want to know you. They will want to know your history, everything about you. There will be so much information flooding their consciousness that most will slink away to try to process what you have imparted before you can even finish. Yes, this magical elixir can do all this and more. There is, however, a learning curve involved. One cannot simply leap into social inebriation without some training. Most of it will involve some painful trial-and-error experimentation. I will try to help ease this process by giving some basic beginner tips.

  1. Pace Yourself: There is nothing wrong with getting a head-start by doing some pre-gaming before entering the social arena. Have a few drinks at home to lubricate yourself and get warmed up before hitting the bars. This will save you some money and allow you to slither into the room with the slickness of an eel covered in baby oil. Once you achieve the proper stage of euphoria, the trick is to drink enough to maintain that glow without crossing the line and stepping onto that slippery slope into sloppy drunkenness. No one wants to be that guy. The stumbling, incoherent slob whose breathe smells of vomit and has pee-stains on the front of his khakis, destined to wake up in the morning crawling blindly out of the shrubbery beside some cheesy strip-club, with a hump in his spine and eyes that look like two piss-holes in a snow bank. You must maintain a steady altitude without going into a power-dive. I can't stress the importance of this rule. Unfortunately, to paraphrase the late, great Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, the only ones who know where the edge is are the ones who have gone over it.

    You're definitely doing it wrong
  2. Be polite to bartenders, waitresses and bouncers: Maintain your best behavior when you are in the company of these people, they are your friends, they will get you knee-walking drunk and help protect you as long as you don't insult them or get too “chummy”. One mistake that is often made by beginners and cretins is the “pissing contest” with the bouncers. Bouncers are never, let me repeat this, never impressed by the amount of ass you claim to have kicked or by the number of bouncers that it took to throw you out of the last bar that you got into a fight in. You will not win this, they will smile and nod and keep their eye on you all night. You will have just become the night's entertainment for the security team. The moment that you fuck up (and you will) they will call you out on all your ridiculous claims and embarrass you in front of all the other drunks. You will wind up outside the bar, in the parking-lot, shouting about how you weren't doing anything to get thrown out. Yet, there you will be, and the people who are inside will be making unkind jokes about what a twat you are. People who work in bars see an awful lot of bizarre behavior, and have to deal with the people who are responsible. Chances are, you're not going to surprise or impress them, you are going to annoy them. People who work as bouncers in bars don't usually last long unless they are good at what they do.  Trust me on this, the last thing that you want is the undivided attention of a team of bouncers. Bartenders, for the most part, don't want to go home and fuck you. They are at work, at their jobs and most of them are in stable relationships. There are exceptions to every rule but, mostly, you will bore them. Do you really think that you will be the one who comes up with the cute and original pick-up line that they've never heard before? “Hey, baby, you're cuter than a speckled puppy. You wanna come home with me and see my new pillow cases?” These people work in a bar...every night...they hear it constantly...don't. They are friendly because, well...because they're friendly and it's their job. If one smiles at you it doesn't mean that you're one step away from the doing Horizontal Hokey-Poke with her, she is doing her job. You want to impress a bartender? Tip them. The same goes for cocktail waitresses, except for the added temptation to grab them on the ass while they're at your table. Again...don't. If you cannot help yourself and you are compelled to grab a cocktail waitress, please refer to the section on bouncers above. Go out and drink. Drink for the sake of drinking. Don't drink stupidly, that's easy, there are thousands who do that every night and even more who do it on “amateur nights" (more on amateur nights later).  Learn to drink like a pro, it can be very rewarding.

  3. Don't be a dick: Nobody likes dicks.

  4. Don't drink and drive: I know...this makes it exceedingly difficult to get your vehicle home, but the police are out there, just waiting for you, believe me, I know. No matter how much practice you've had, no matter how good you are at it, the police will not listen nor will they be impressed. They are not drinking (or, at least, shouldn't be) and they are not your fucking buddies, they are people who want to put you in jail and then talk to their police buddies about the drunk dick-head they arrested. You may know nearly every cop in your town but, the one that pulls you over will not be one of those. It will be some brand-new, badge-heavy prick with something to prove and an ax to grind and you will be his prize. You will be fucked with and misused (they seem to take great pleasure in making snarky, smart-assed remarks to help entertain you during your difficult time of need) and it really, really sucks to wake up hung-over, in a drunk-tank after having slept on a plastic piece-of-shit mat that's about a quarter of an inch thick (for your comfort during your stay) to the worst fucking food you will ever encounter. Your insurance will go so high that you'll have to take out a second mortgage, your license will probably be suspended for some amount of time and the stick-in-the-mud, high-horse sitters will click their tongues at you like you were caught on a kindergarten playground with your pants around your ankles. Thank MADD for that (more on MADD later). It's like they think we all set out to turn our vehicles into flaming deathbombs when we get into them and are out looking for mini-vans full of six-year-olds to slide into. Personally, I'd rather share the road with someone with a six-pack under their belt than some dipshit pecking on a cell phone.

  5. Know the playing field: Don't go out drinking at a biker bar with “The Only Difference Between A Harley And A Vacuum Cleaner Is The Location Of The Dirt-Bag” t-shirt on. You'd stand a better chance bobbing for piranhas in the Amazon.

  6. Hangovers: They hurt. They suck. Avoid them. Stay drunk. There are several combinations of non-FDA approved chemicals and alcohol that you may have luck with. Experiment and find what works for you. The only sure-fire cure that I've found is the one that my father gave me when I was just a drunken tadpole, “Cool water, kind words and day-after-tomorrow”.
There are many things you will learn on the high road to drunkenness. Like how much fun it is to ride home still drunk on Sunday morning and passing all the neighbors all fresh and pressed, on their way to church and the looks that they will give you. Be patient and choose your poisons carefully. Avoid weird shots from strangers and know that enough J├Ągermeister will rob you of your ability to function as a human being and that Mongolian Motherfuckers are for full-grown drunks (that one's for you Aaron). You have to learn to ride the crest of the wave and stay above the rabble. Occasionally, you will overshoot the mark but don't be discouraged, keep trying. If you wake up in the backseat of your car, feeling like you've been poisoned, handcuffed to a kitchen chair with Sharpee ink all over you, you only have one eyebrow and your pants are missing, go find the nearest liquor store and get the makings for a good breakfast drink to put yourself back in the saddle. I suggest Bloody Marys or Screwdrivers...and maybe some cheap speed.

Keep practicing

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Perfect Shit-Storm: Race, Guns, Gays and Chik-Fil-A

Given the amount of public uproar lately on numerous different topics, I am proud to see that people are able to exercise some of the rights that are currently left to us.  We have the right to be wrong.  We have the right to be assholes.  We have the right to express our outrage over people being assholes.  We have the right to support the asshole of our choosing.  So far, everyone seems to be within their rights on most of these issues.  There are groups who are in fear of losing certain rights at the moment because of the actions of a few.  Isn't that the way it always is?  There are groups who are struggling for more rights against the actions and opinions of others, it's been that way for a while too.  As long as it stays civil, hopefully these issues will work themselves out eventually and, with any luck at all, they will work themselves out to the benefit of the greater good.  Not magically, but by people exercising their rights.  Some of the rights that we have enjoyed for a long time are being taken away (be careful of how you protest the government these days) so we should enjoy them while we still have them.  The day may come when even these are gone.

Anyone who has been paying attention knows how I feel about religion and more specifically how I feel about mixing religion and politics.  When you mix religion and politics you get politics.  In my not-so-humble opinion (this is my forum, after all), politicians should work for the people they represent.  There is no way to satisfy every single person out there so they have to compromise and try to represent the majority.  The tricky part of that is figuring out what the majority really is.  It's not the majority of the big-money contributors, although that is the way it seems to work, unfortunately.  The best way is to try to represent the majority of people who are active and vote.  That should be the way that the majority makes itself heard, but are the politicians really listening?  Also, there are organizations that rally people to them and get them worked up with a shit-storm of propaganda and misinformation.  These are usually portrayed as nut-cases, flakes and lunatics, especially when they don't agree with your ideals.  There is a lot of finger-pointing and name-calling going on out there and there are an awful lot of people who seem to be mistaken about a lot of facts.  I don't pretend to have all the answers but I do have opinions and that's what this is, an op-ed piece, if you will.

Gun control is an ongoing controversial debate that people will likely never, ever agree on.  For the record, I am a gun-owner and support gun rights.  A gun is an inanimate object, it can not hurt anyone on it's own.  The problem being that, in the hands of (1) irresponsible, (2) criminal (3) mentally unstable (4) untrained people they can become a dangerous tool.  They can be more dangerous than a knife or something similar because those don't require the nerve to get up close to your victim, also you can rack up a large body-count.  Maybe not as large as a nut with a rental truck full of home-made explosives, but a respectable body-count nonetheless.  A rental truck full of homemade explosives was used in the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995 and killed 168 people in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and Mr. McVeigh was long gone and down the road, he never had to look a single victim in the eye.  He manufactured his explosives using readily available materials.  On the other hand, Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate killed eleven people in 1957-58 using a rifle, a shotgun, and a knife, they also used strangulation.  Charles was eighteen and Caril was fourteen.  Most of the Manson murders were done with knives.  The hijackings and subsequent crashes killing thousands on September 11, 2001 was supposedly pulled off using cheap box-cutters.  The point being, if someone becomes unbalanced and decides to perpetrate mass murder, they will find a way.  It is sometimes pointed out that the U.S. is a world leader, if not THE world leader in gun deaths.  That may be true but I think we probably also rank pretty high with serial-killers and other violently mentally unstable people wandering around.  That would be the statistic that I would be most interested in.  Once again, a gun is an inanimate object.  I am not opposed to some required training or licensing to own certain types or amounts of guns but that will not keep criminals from acquiring them.  If passing legislation was all it took to fix a problem, the government would have won their war on drugs thirty years ago.

There has been a lot said about discrimination and civil rights over the years.  Evidently, a lot of people do not like change.  Recently a couple were denied the right to get married in the First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, MS, not because they were gay, but because they were black.  Really, in 2012 this happened?  I can attest, as a lifelong Southerner, that this is not the status-quo in this region in spite of how popular media portrays us.  This incident has, justifiably, raised quite a stink.  It is my understanding that the couple had been going to this church and were going join as members after the ceremony.  I wonder if the church has a problem with accepting tithes from black people?  This is an embarrassment and I can't believe that the church thought that they could get away with this type bigotry and hypocrisy.  Is this really what some of the members of this church consider to be "Christian behavior"?  This type of thing doesn't just go away.  It will leave a permanent stain on that church no matter what they do to try to fix it.  That is one of those bells that cannot be unrung.

Still on the discrimination and civil rights subject, Chik-Fil-A has stood by their support of the “standard” recognized definition of marriage (marriage of a man and a woman) by the Christian Church resulting in a massive shit-storm of public outrage and a boycott.  As they have not, to my knowledge, denied service to anyone or denied anyone employment they are within their rights to take this stand.  This is not a new thing, they have always followed Christian tenets including being closed on Sunday.  This does not mean that I agree with their opinion, it means that I agree with their right to have it.  Gays also have the right to express their displeasure at this and  have by protesting and boycotting.  People on both sides have come out in support of their respective positions.  As long as it stays non-violent they are all within their rights.  Personally, if gays want to get married, I don't mind.  I'm sort of iffy on marriage anyway, if you're in love and decide to spend the rest of your life with one person, why do you really need to get the law involved.  There are other, more heartfelt, ways of expressing your love to someone without entering into a legal contract.  I really don't know how things get to be the way that they are in this world but I will pose this question.  If the religious fundamentalists are opposed to homosexuality because they claim that it's a personal choice and not genetic, where do they stand on the issue of hermaphroditic or, more correctly, intersex persons?  For those unfamiliar, these are people who are born with varying degrees of organs belonging to both sexes.  I am not lumping these two types of people into the same category, I am using it as an example because of the fundamentalists who choose to believe that sexual orientation is a choice.  In some cases it may be, I don't know, but in the case of intersex people, it is most definitely genetics and there is a LOT of gray area there.

I am a proponent of “live and let live”.  Don't invade my personal space.  Don't encroach on my rights as long as I am not causing unjustifiable physical harm to anyone.  The world is full of assholes and they are on both sides of all issues:  race, sexuality, politics, religion, civil rights, etc.  They will always be here and there is nothing that can be done about it, and as tempting as it is to shoot them all with a large caliber assault weapon, exile them to some leper colony type situation, perpetrate genocide, legislate them out of existence or deny them the basic human rights that everyone should be able to enjoy during our short and difficult tenure here, it's just not right.

Article on couple denied church wedding because of race

Article on Chik-Fil-A's stance against gay marriage

Articles on the Chik-Fil-A Boycott

Article on Colorado killings and gun control