Archive for February, 2023

The Drinking in M*A*S*H

I enjoyed a healthy obsession with MASH when I was a kid. Of all the reruns that wouldcome on in the early and mid-1980s, none excited more attention from me than Radar O’Reilly (pre)noting the arrival of wounded people on helicopters. My parents were sure that this would become less of an obsession after a while, but when I got to high school I found some similarly minded friends. One of which arrived on our last day of school before summer with a pile of video cassettes. M*A*S*H. All M*A*S*H.

My summer revolved around M*A*S*H and only M*A*S*H. I was hooked. I named my bedroom the Swamp, bought olive drab boxershorts, and brought a pitcher to my room that served as a still. I was a pre-binge binger.

On February 28 1984, M*A*S*H ended for good when I was nine years old with the specially long episode Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen. There was lots of crying in my house. Probably because M*A*S*H was gone forever, only to be seen roughly 1,000 times a week in syndication. How sad.

As I was nine, I had no idea what a cultural event this was. 121 million people watched the last episode, the most ever and the most that would ever be. As cable TV became more prevalent over the next couple of years, no other TV show ever had the chance again to command that kind of -at-the-same-time viewership. And of course though zillions of people have watched The Sorpanos and Game of Thrones, they didn’t do it at one time. Obviously streaming allows people to watch newer shows whenever and wherever they’d like. A year ago, a stomach flu kept me close to (aka living in) my toilet. It’s there that I binged True Detective.

Read the rest of this entry »

No Comments

February 14, 2021 An Ancient Brewery is Discovered in Abydos, Egypt

The site had been discovered here in the early 1900s. British archaeologists uncovered vats and thought they’d been used to dry grain. The location, deemed run-of-the-mill, was then literally forgotten about. It was found again in the 2000s and only during an excavation on February 14 2021 did archaeologists realize what the site was. A brewery. A vast, ancient brewery dating back to about 3100 BC and the dynasty of King Narmer.  

Though other ancient world breweries had been found, this was by far the most extensive and organized. The brewery could produce 22,400 gallons of beer in one go. It was laid out in eight standardized structures. This place was engaged in industrial beer production. Most of it likely went to the royals. Some of it was surely used in rituals, as it was considered sacred (and still is, but it’s hard to imagine an Egyptian priest pouring an Old Milwaukee over a sacrificial cow).

But when did people start making beer? Crude ancient breweries can be dated back 7,000 years and there’s evidence of a cave brewery near Haifa that dates back 13,000 years. The earliest barley beer is dated to 3400 BC in the Zagros Mountains (Iran). (The earliest grape wine dates to 5400 BC also in the Zagros Mountains, which were evidently the party grounds of the fertile crescent). But there’s some discussion as to how it started. Some historians suggest beer was discovered by happy accident. In order to make grains more edible, ancient tribes would soak and heat them, then let this sit over time and return to them. Sometimes they noticed that the action of wild yeasts from the air fermented the sugar in the gruel into alcohol. The result wouldn’t exactly have been a Dogfish 90-minute IPA, but a fizzy porridge-like substance that would nevertheless help our ancestors forget they were being tracked by Asiatic lions and enemy tribes. Since raising grains took time and since beer took a while to ferment, it’s thought that this was a precursor to the Neolithic revolution and ancient humans casting off their nomadic ways.

Read the rest of this entry »

No Comments

The Many Mealtimes of Spain

Though I have avidly travelled around Europe for the last 20 years, I have always been apprehensive about Spain. This has nothing to do with the culture, which is wonderful, or the Spanish people, who in my experience are absolutely wonderful. As one of the warmer counties in Europe, Spain is the place I fear I might run into a tarantula. And then there’s the mealtimes.

As I thought I knew, Spain has legendarily late mealtimes. Pictures I have had in my head concern a table of very good looking dark-haired people speaking the gibberish language that makes for Spanish in my head. They are sitting around what I thought tapas were and they are casually ignoring the clock on the wall, which says 11 pm.  

I have nothing against eating late – I used to be a major advocate of the midnight snack. In college the hours between 11 pm and 3 am were prime feeding hours. Amazingly, this is where my weight issues began.

However, it’s in my forties that eating after 8 pm leads to stomach issues and heartburn that could light up Newark. Nevertheless, upon buying a ticket to Barcelona for the weekend, I had to face my fears of mealtimes.

My mood was lightened when a little research told me that there were five mealtimes. Any place that has five mealtimes can’t b a bad place. I decide that Sunday will be my day to observe all five mealtimes of the Spanish.

Desayuno 7:00-9:00

This evidently should be a sweet snack. I opt for the churro with chocolate dipping sauce and a Viennese coffee (with whipped cream – go big or go home). I cry.

Almuerzo 10:30-12:00

This should be a salty snack to follow up the sweet breakfast, sort of like a reverse dessert. I go for an Iberian ham sandwich and a cup of Viennese coffee (if it ain’t broke…). I become drunk on joy and ham.

Comida 14:00-16:00

At lunch, I decide to get actually drunk on booze. I get a pitcher of sangria and wash it down with tapas, or, as I have begun to refer to it, my reason for living. Tapas are whatever you want them to be as long as they come on small plates and you share them with someone nearby. Today’s are fried artichokes, fried cod fritters, and ham croquettes. Ham croquettes taste like cream chipped beef fried in breading and if I don’t have them every day for the rest of my life, I will lose my shit.  

Merienda 17:30-19:00

This meal is meant to tide you over until dinner. It’s usually a sweet or a pastry, but a sandwich is also OK. Today it’s paella and shrimp with a liter of sangria. I chase this down with a shot, more like two shots, actually way more vermouth that one should drink. In Spain they drink it on ice and cut it with an orange slice. The end of merienda is a bit fuzzy, but I am bolstered by the fact that I’ll be able to eat in another 2 hours.

Cena 20:30-22:30

This is dinner. For dinner, I decide to get a burger. The waiter all but forces me to get a beer by pointing to a drinks menu. I have two before having two more.

I crawl into bed by 11:45 (I think). What have I learned? I learn that I love Spain. I adore a culture that makes sure there are only 90 minutes in a day (2 maximum) before you get to eat again. I have pledged my blurry allegiance to sangria, Spanish vermouth and wine, light beer, and chasing it up with tapas. I could live here. Ole.

No Comments

To Severance

I have been watching the TV show ‘Severance’ which centers around employees for a mysterious company called Lumen. These employees agree to undergo a process in which they have their brains altered so when they are at work they have no memory of knowledge about their outside selves (their outie). Likewise, when they are in the world outside of work, they have no idea what they do at work or about their colleagues, processes, or anything.

The plus side is that their outies are not bothered by work and their innies are not bothered by personal problems. The downsides are that their innies feel like they never leave work, because they are only conscious when they are there. So they are perpetually at work.

I’ve decided that I would get over this issue in favor of severancing for my work. The thing is, I already feel like I’m always at work and so at least when I’m there I won’t be bothered by things like whether my outie is skipping exercise or his upcoming dental appointment or if he’s considered an asshole by other outies who meet him. He’ll be unbothered by annoying social gatherings after work that evening and will thus not spend all day trying to come up with excuses to stay home and eat potato chips on his couch (a clear violation of my outie’s diet that will not bother my innie the next day at work). It will be a period of complete freedom.

Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment