Archive for April, 2023

My Kitty the Drunk

Last Sunday, feeling that the weekend was getting away from us and trying to avoid that from happening, Burke and I harnessed the dog and went out for a walk. That walk ended up in (aka was aimed at) a pub. Pretty soon we were sipping pivos and chatting and having a grand ole time. Occasionally, I’d glimpse my watch and grumble about the inexorably slow march forward of time and let out a whimper.

Each day of the week brings with it a specific feel towards drinking. Friday and Saturday almost invite it. Thursday is easy enough to sway to a drink (it’s almost Friday, after all). Wednesday and Tuesday are fun on occasion, if only for the novelty of it, and especially if it occurs during sunlight hours. Oh I got drunk on a Tuesday. But Sunday is always a tricky day on which to decide for beers. Sundays are days for laundry and a lounge on the couch or a walk in the park. They’re for getting in bed early and reading until you doze off. But should one decision be made or should one little occurrence occur, then Sunday can just as easily be spent sipping pivos and arguing against that nasty old time bandit, who kidnaps your free time so easily and leaves you on Monday morning walking into work with a confused look on your face and a note in the back of your head to read up on how time moves faster as we age.

And so, after going out drinking, we went in drinking too. When I woke up Monday morning mouth filled with cotton, brain tinged with a drop of regret, I was greeted with the clear signs of afterparty. Two bottles of wine, glasses, an empty bag of chips. The shell of late night Oreos and pretzels. A vague memory of hitting the shop across the street. Billy Joel frozen on the screen within YouTube. Wikipedia on my computer screen, no doubt settling some late night bet (yes, Ty Burrell owns a pub in Utah). And what else did I see? A ghost. Before I needed confirmation, the ghost meowed at me.

It was time to face facts: someone in my house has a drinking problem. And that someone is my cat.

It’s not unheard of. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that animals around the globe thoroughly enjoy alcohol. Tree shrews have a noted enjoyment of alcohol. Each autumn moose in Sweden get shitty on fermenting apples. Macaques drink alcohol whenever they can get their hands on it. And the Bohemian waxwing eats berries specifically from the Rowan tree because it gives them a buzz. Evidence not only suggests that animals like alcohol, since they get it from fruit in nature that naturally ferments itself, it’s likely they’ve been getting tipsy for about 20 million years longer than we have. They’re seasoned veterans.

My cat is one of them. Though she doesn’t wait around for fruit to become fermented, she only needs to wait until I crack something open late at night and then pass out before I finish it. I have awoken to her dabbing a paw into the puddles at the bottom of pint glasses, brandy snifters, and wine orbs. At other times I wake up after a night out on the armchair or on the floor and the cat is sniffing my breath and licking her lips. Or if I can’t sleep and I pour myself a tumbler of bourbon to nudge me towards nighty nights, guess who is standing on the table waiting and thumping her tail against the cutting board? Yep. Cat. What a lush.

But it could be worse. The moose in Sweden totally overdo it on fermented apples and for the exasperated Swede the autumn is a time of lifting drunk moose out of trees and pulling them off their crushed porches. The Bohemian waxwing gets so drunk that a number of them immediately fly into buildings and this is not an unusual way for them to perish. Plus, they’re not Bohemian for nothing. The macaque is a notorious drunk, sometimes they’ll do it all day. The ones who live alone (I guess in captivity) drink much more than the others. The ones who have had a long day (for a monkey I guess this means a day of learning sign language and not being able to fling your feces) drink much more. The macaque might be our closest relative when it comes to booze.  

If anything alcohol makes my cat more pleasant. She meows less and she gets all sappy. She rubs her face against me and purrs, the drunken feline version of ‘I love you man’. Then she curls up in the scarf box and sleeps peacefully for hours. But boy is she in a mood if you reach for a scarf before she’s ready to get up.

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Raise One To the Ships

I guess the worst thing about famous ships is that we only ever hear about the ones that ended up on the bottom of some body of water. We know the Lusitania and the Terror and the Edmund Fitzgerald. Nobody is reading a history book about the passengers who had a week-long binge fest on the Mauretania and who all ended up in New York a week later with dyspepsia and a negligible hangover. No, we hear about the ones that went down, the ones that were blown up, or the ones that burned on Lake Erie. If your name is somehow connected to a ship, there’s a solid chance you died on it.

There is of course the mother of them all, the one that hit the iceberg. There’s nothing much to tell you about the Titanic that James Cameron didn’t already show you. And he had Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet to help him out, not to mention that Celine Dion. You know it hit an iceberg, you could probably guess that around 1500 people died, and you’ve maybe heard some tidbits like they’d skimped on lifeboats and they sent out the wrong distress signal. (The signal they sent actually said ‘steer clear’, which might be the exact opposite of what you want to do when your boat is sinking in the Atlantic.) You’ve heard the folkloric stories of men bravely staying aboard, other guys dressing as women to get on lifeboats, the band playing until the ship went under. You may have heard bittersweet stories such as Ida Strauss almost getting on a lifeboat, but in the end deciding to perish with her husband, Macy’s owner Isidor Straus. They lay in bed together until the sea swallowed them. Then there’s the myths and legends, the heroic Newfoundland dog, the premonitions, the mystery ship nearby, the captain was drunk (no evidence for this, but it was 1912 and he was a sailor, so it’s a natural assumption). A book regales the ‘true’ story of a pig that lived through the Titanic, but as far as the evidence shows, the only pig on board was on first class dinnerplates.

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On the Run Again: Adventures in ChatGPT

Like every writer on Earth, I have been watching ChatGPT with rapt attention. It is, after all, evidently the AI system which turned 400,000 writers into editors overnight. So I have of course been having some fun with the old girl. And, like most of you out there, and mostly in retaliation for the fact that it has become more in demand as a writer after existing for 80 minutes, I have made my ChatGPT monkey dance in all sorts of tunes.  

ChatGPT, could you provide me with a list of items that I’d need in case I was teleported back to Medieval Japanese?

ChatGPT, write a 1,000 word ode to my shihtzu Maisy in the voice of Robert Browning that I can sing to the Dukes of Hazzard theme song.

ChatGPT, write me a 250 word love letter from Mark Twain without using the same word twice.

That sort of thing.

In a moment of inspiration augmented by boredom and several shots of Jamesons, I wrote:

ChatGPT, provide a critical opinion of Damien Galeone’s writing.

As an AI language model, I cannot provide opinions, but I can perform a search for critical opinions on Damien Galeone’s writing.

After conducting a search, I was unable to find a significant number of critical opinions on Damien Galeone’s writing online. However, here are some excerpts of reviews of his work:

  • “Galeone writes with a clear and engaging style, and his stories are entertaining and relatable.” – Kirkus Reviews on “Senseless and Merciless Dreams”
  • Damien Galeone has a talent for capturing the absurdity and humor in everyday situations, making his writing both entertaining and thought-provoking.” – The Prague Post on “Dreams Are Unfinished Thoughts”
  • “Galeone’s writing is witty and sharp, and he has a great sense of humor that shines through in his stories.” – BookPage on “On The Run Again”

Based on these reviews, it seems that Galeone’s writing is generally well-received and entertaining. However, it’s worth noting that these are just a few reviews and opinions may vary.

I was overwhelmed and overjoyed by the fact that my writing is generally well-received and entertaining, and it was only mildly off-putting that the pool for reviews of my work is roughly a puddle.

Somewhat more distressing was the fact that none of these reviews is in actual existence. As in, they are complete fabrication. Kirkus wouldn’t review my novel if I was handing out squeezers in their breakroom. I had never even heard of BookPage, which only seems fair because they have never heard of me either. A drop more disconcerting was that not only had the reviews been fabricated, but they were written for fabricated books.

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The Booze Muse

Her story is a good old fashioned cautionary tale. A small town girl who, through a perfect storm of events, becomes the biggest thing in the known world. She catapults to fame, becomes the muse of the writers and the philosophers and the painters, who write about her, philosophize about her, and use her as a model. She changes the way of life in Paris during its famous Belle Epoque. But alas, before she can even enjoy her fame, her world collapses. She’s blamed for the emasculation of men, for violence, for the downfall of French society. She is blamed for murder. And just like that, she is cast out, unwelcome, marked. This is the story of Absinthe.

Absinthe’s story starts in Ancients Egypt and Greece. It wasn’t Absinthe then, but just wormwood, which, like so many other things that would become booze, was used medically. It was used for stomach aches and lung ailments. The Greeks soaked leaves in wormwood and had a fortified wine called absinthites oinos. During the Bubonic Plague wormwood was burned and used to fumigate houses with infected people. You’ll be stunned to learn this didn’t really work. The rats and their fleas weren’t terribly concerned about the fire. Absinthe pops up as a drink in Switzerland in the late 18th century, where doctors used it as a cure-all elixir. Part of the global trend towards alcohol-based medicines. They made you feel better, but when you’ve just had a shot of 140 proof liquor, you’re not going to notice your femur sticking out of your leg, let alone a sore throat. But Absinthe really starts spreading its wings during the French (always the French) campaign in Algeria in the 1840s, where French soldiers were given it as an anti-malarial. The soldiers loved Absinthe. And when they came home they brought it with them.

Normally French wine would have scoffed at some newcomer to the booze scene. The French have a relationship with wine that only rivals their love for Jerry Lewis, cigarettes, and sleeping with more than one person at a time. Never could another booze overtake wine. Usually. But a massive wine blight being caused by a grape lice which was brought to France from the U.S. (they probably didn’t realize that when they gave us the Statue of Liberty). So with wine production diminished and the French still looking for booze to help them yell at people with poorly-accented French, in stepped Absinthe. And boy did it take off. For a while, everything was green. It was so popular that instead of happy, 5 o’clock was called the Green Hour. Absinthe had the added attraction of coming along in a catchy color (green), neato terminology (the green hour), a mascot (the green fairy), cool tools and a process (slotted spoon, reservoir glass, cold water, sugar, low morals).

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