Will You Please Just Sell Me Your Flat, Please?

We decided a few months ago to buy a flat. I delighted in saying this. It felt so grown-up, so sophisticated. When I say it aloud (either in my mirror or to others) I feel as though I am wearing an ascot and sipping a martini.

Why yes, I’m buying a flat in a European capital. All true, but the Thurston Howell III accent I put on it is a bit misleading. I can’t see he and Lovie perusing 2+KK’s in Kobylysy and obsessing over energy performance ratings (A is the best, C is average, and it goes to G, which means you’re rubbing sticks together under a hamster’s butt to encourage him to power your flat. But at least it’s expensive.)

Nevertheless, I slip it into conversations that I am buying, mostly hoping someone has an ailing grandmother who was one of the nine people who read my novel and wants to will it to me. This has yet to happen (fingers crossed), but on the bright side people do trip over their tongues to tell me how big of a pain in the ass the process is and how expensive flats are these days. And despite the terror they induce, there is a sense that I am being allowed into some other world, a world that only lets you in when you agree to spend a ludicrous amount of money to be allowed to stress over a 51 meter space for 20 years.

On an unrelated note, I have been day drinking more.

Read the rest of this entry »

No Comments

Goodbye, Farewell, and Bottoms Up

On February 28 1983, 121 million viewers sat down to watch the last episode of M*A*S*H. If you have lived in a biopod on Pluto for the last 55 years, M*A*S*H was a sitcom about surgeons and staff at a mobile army surgical hospital during the Korean War. When BJ Hunnicutt and Hawkeye Pierce hug it out and say goodbye in front of that helicopter, 121 million teary-eyed fans said goodbye right along with them, surely devasted that the only opportunity they’d get to catch up with the 4077th would be in roughly 1,692 reruns a week for the rest of their lives. Hawkeye takes off in the chopper, Suicide is Painless plays one last time, and everyone in America went to the bathroom at the same time.

M*A*S*H was groundbreaking. It was the first non-zany war show (Hogan’s Heroes and McHale’s Navy had that corner covered). It made fun of war during the most unpopular war in American history (up to that point). It made fun of its absurdity, the oxymoronic and often lethal logic of the army, the stupidity of those in charge, the meaningless death. Characters died in non-gag ways. In a way no other show had done and in a way prescient to those that would come, M*A*S*H jokes came from all angles – language, physical, diatribes, cultural references. M*A*S*H tried to show the realities of war while making people laugh at it.

And that included booze. M*A*S*H was the first show to feature not only booze, but heavy drinking in earnest. The drinking of most other sitcoms was done by buffoonish drunks in comic relief. In the 80s and 90s, it was an episode-specific device: in this very special episode of Blossom or The One When Chandler Gets Drunk and Grows a Weirdly Long Fingernail. But in M*A*S*H drinking was a matter-of-fact part of the show because it was a matter of fact part of life at war. More than a prop, booze in M*A*S*H was always present, setting the mood of the episode. They chatted over beers in the Officer’s Club. Colonels Blake and Potter delivered bad news, celebrated joys, or augmented orders with whiskey. Charles Emerson Winchester III established his superiority with cognacs and brandies. But most of all they drank from the still.

Read the rest of this entry »

No Comments

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 »

No Comments

My OnlyFans Page

As a person who makes money writing, I was indeed alarmed to learn that Artificial Intelligence will soon be hired to do those jobs. I need a job.

I’d offer to whore out my writing skills for people – I like writing shopping lists, I love writing recipes on the back of envelopes, and I have a zeal for drawing nooses during meetings. I’d be glad to bring you in on that. The problem, yet again, is that pretty soon my blended will be doing those things for you. With writing and noose drawing off the table, I needed some way to spend the rest of my life. I need direction. I’m turning to the most obvious course of action. Only Fans.

Now, I still have research skills and I use it to find out about the broad range of interesting and highly disturbing services that people are offering in exchange for money. After exploring my bag of talents, I opt for the following services.   

Watch me eat! For the low price of $37, you can watch me eat while I watch TV. This includes chicken wraps during Frasier or a roast chicken leg while watching 30 Rock. If you pay an extra $12, I’ll engage in witty banter with you about the show. Highlights include “They don’t make ‘em like Frasier anymore” or “Boy, 30 Rock was sure funny.” For an extra $18 I’ll describe my meal to you, and for $26 extra I’ll let you pick the show I watch, as long as it’s one of the six shows I watch while I eat (full list available on my page, but think 1990s psychiatrists).

Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment

January 17, 1920 Prohibition Begins in The USA

At midnight on January 17, 1920 the Volstead Act made the sale and production of alcohol illegal in the United States. But as Americans had never been good at following rules (or rule for that matter), they almost instantly began finding loopholes and ways to make the inane law obsolete.

There’s no doubt that Americans had a drinking problem. Thirty seconds after the Mayflower landed on Plymouth Rock, everyone who’d been onboard started scrounging for things to make booze with. The guy who started the first bar was a demigod. Americans drank and tortured witches, the drank and started revolution, they drank and fought each other over slavery. They drank rum, which was cheaper and quicker than beer, and when Irish and Scottish immigrants brought it along, whiskey. America was the drunkest person at the party. Any 19th century attempt to ban alcohol resulted in uprisal and riots.

In the early 20th century, the temperance movement gained some traction. This was a movement led by women, who weren’t allowed in bars (hint hint) and were sick of dealing with drunkard husbands blowing money on booze and ruining their families. The movement was supported by factory owners, who were trying to keep workers sober enough to keep up new working habits (i.e. lots and lots of hours and lots and lots of sadness). Furthermore, prohibition was influenced by good old fashioned American racism. The influx of immigrants between 1880-1920 scared the hell out of a lot of white people, who were nervous that the flood of ‘boisterous’ lower class immigrants and the saloons that kept them happy would lead to a decline in the moral character of America. This, rather than say, slavery. We’ll forgive them this snobbish concern, since they were almost certainly shitfaced when they made it. With a pesky disruption in Europe stirring which would be known as World War I anti-German hysteria blew through the country and the only patriotic thing to do would be to shut down the mostly German-owned breweries.   

World War I in itself was another cause of prohibition. Nations tried to ration cereals and grains for the war effort and squash soldier drunkenness. Leaders in Europe had already noted the effects of alcohol on soldier performance, with Kaiser Wilhelm stating that the next war (which would turn out to be WWI) would be won by the least drunk nation. Tsar Nicholas II, whose Russia had lost the Russo-Japanese War partially due to intoxicated troops, banned the sale of vodka in retail stores. The stage was set for booze to be banned, and American went for it.

Read the rest of this entry »

No Comments

The Trouble with January

I have always felt bad for January. It’s the king of all redheaded step children. Surrounded by the dazzling December and the frustrated king frog that is February. All January ever did was come at a bad time of year. I determine to enjoy January this year, but January makes it hard.

Before January was even a month, it was disrespected. Native Americans called it the Wolf Month because it was the month hungry wolves howled outside of villages. January wasn’t even a month in Ancient Rome, being originally lumped into the winter which, as the Romans saw it, deserved no month. It was simply a cold shitty time of year that was better behind them than ahead or present. The year started at March, which is a calendarial idea I think we could all get on board with. When King Pompilius came along and added January, Romans could at least name their enemy.

Modern people don’t help the case for loving January. It’s known as Dry January, which I guess is the month for people to detox after the overindulgence of the holiday season. Or the previous 11 months. It’s also been labelled Veganuary, which is exactly what you think it is, but given the choice between going vegan for 31 days or quitting drinking for 31 days, I’d rather be dead. My search goes on.

My hopes were raised, if not a bit surprised at the naughtiness of January 2 being national Creampuff Day, but then I reread it and realized it was just about pastries. January 5 is National Whipped Cream Day. January is the month of all things cold. It’s National Soup Month and National Hot Tea Month. It’s National Oatmeal Month. These realities endear me to January a bit, as I love soup and oatmeal and have long advocated for days in their honor. Tea can go back to England. There’s a string of good holidays later in the month. January 19 is National Popcorn Day, January 22 is National Hot Sauce Day, while the 23rd is National Pie Day and the 24th is National Peanut Butter Day. I foresee January 25being National Go-On-Cholesterol-Medication Day.

St. Knut’s Day comes in the Scandinavian countries on January 13. On this day, St Knut (A Danish duke) was assassinated, which led to civil war. In Finland this day is observed by men who dress up as goats and visit homes demanding food and booze leftover from the holidays. If they don’t get what they want, they will commit evil deeds. As if dressing as goats and getting drunk doesn’t suggest evil enough. It’s said that St. Thomas brings in Christmas and St. Knut [and his goat men] take it away. And as we all know, nothing marks the end of Christmas like goat men. In Sweden St. Knut’s Day marks the end of the holiday season. Swedes take their Christmas tree outside and dance around it.

In America, and some parts of the south, January 22 is National Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. On this day, one is supposed to listen with intent to the meows, mews, trills, and squawks of their curious furry little buddies and answer the questions they have been trying to convey for eons. These might include: why don’t you lick your asshole? I’ve been demonstrating the technique for you for years. Why don’t you sing the door opening song? Don’t you know it’s bad luck for us to go through a door without the song? This is why I keep coming back in and out. It’s so frustrating.

If I feel embarrassed by any of the cat’s questions, I’ll just drown the humiliation on January 31. AKA Brandy Alexander Day. If that doesn’t help, I’ll just worry about it in February.

No Comments

Zen Hours on a Saturday

Zen Hours on a Saturday

It’s 5 am on a Saturday. The alarm goes off. The night is still in process and, judging from the darkness and lack of sound, movement, life, or joy, it doesn’t plan on ending anytime soon. Burke and the Shihtzu are snug in bed, content and quiet and comfort ooze off them like little daggers and bury themselves into my skin and then assault my organs, which also want to stay in bed. I stuff a pillow over my face and moan. I sit up. I moan. I stand. I moan. I moan. I moan.

In the living room, the cat sleeps on her little bed on our bookshelf, looking just like a cat might being cozy in a cozy picture of a cozy country bookstore. Applying the case of Misery vs Loving Company, I poke her in the ear. She instinctively swats at my hand and looks up at me in confusion and anger. She’s wearing her Who the fuck is that? face. It’s instantly replaced by her Oh, it’s you face. I stagger through my quiet, dark flat. I press the button on the coffee pot. I drink a glass of water. I take my vitamins. This is no ordinary Saturday, one that promises relaxation and movies, a glass of wine with lunch maybe or a whiskey with my cereal. No. This is no Saturday. For I have to work.

I don’t really go for New Years resolutions. Any major positive changes I’ve made in my life have been done throughout different times of the year and often without planning, forethought, or fireworks. The major things I want to do in my life (write, work out, read, eat carbs) I already do. But I spent the break thinking about minor tweaks that could improve my quality of life. There are a few small ones (draw, replace Reddit in the morning with an article, stop showering in a British accent). But one that jumped out to me was being present.

I have always had a problem living in the present. I think too much about the past, like many of us, but my real realm of life is the future. I am always looking at my watch. I leave so early for trams that I often just miss the one before the one I was hoping to catch – which ruins my day. I am a poster boy for the country’s deep need to implement meditation into schools.

The worst for me is work. How many times I have awoken on Tuesday morning and wished it was Thursday afternoon cannot be counted. And all too soon, it’s Thursday. Worse, I am a teacher and being present in class is a real requirement. Nobody (certainly not me) wants a teacher on autopilot. So my goal was to think less about the future, be present in the present, and stop looking at my watch. Today – a working Saturday – will be a terrible test.

Oh, I’ve worked on the weekends. I spent my bachelor studies years waiting tables and bartending. In both, I was forced to go to into work when everyone else was leaving work. I would literally pass those people on the way to my job as they were leaving theirs. Our vibe, mood, aura were absolute yin and yang of the work world. Theirs equaled elation, relaxation, a peace of mind afforded those who didn’t have shit to do for 72 hours. Mine: misery, stress, the sallowness of mind damned upon those whose following 8 hours would require not only work, but working with people. My job was literally to help those people unwind from the stress of their very difficult jobs. Surely, the hours before working at night were terrible. I couldn’t enjoy myself. If I had to work at 6 pm I’d turn down lunch plans at noon. Sorry, have to work. But with bartending you have to be present. You are surrounded by dozens of people and they all need drinks in the present. There’s no time to look at your phone or think about later. You are busy slinging booze to hairless apes who need it.

Enter university life. Oh, sure, I thought, who has ever heard of a university teacher working on a weekend? No way. University teachers get the weekends off so they can hang around with younger women in small coastal towns. They need the energy to pull off a rollneck cardigan and shop at local marts. They require those weekend hours to do erudite things like open wine while talking about Rimbaud and listening to Hank Moseley (or one of those other guys) on the local jazz radio station. On Saturday night he must entertain equally as successful friends – doctors, philosophers, writers – in his rustic coastal town cottage, where they will wine and dine and talk about the problems of the universe and all the things contained within it.   



Read the rest of this entry »

No Comments