Inauguration Drinking Game

Tomorrow, at 11 am ET, President-elect Donald Trump will officially be sworn in as the 45th president. Now to make the day tolerable, and, well, forgettable, lets do some good. So a drinking game has been created using his inaugural speech. It may not be forgettable, but you will soon forget it.

Combover Drinking Game

  1. Whenever Trump states he is the best at (insert action) : Drink
  2. Whenever Trump uses three adjectives in a row: Drink for three seconds
  3. Whenever Trump says “Make America Great Again” : Take a shot
  4. If Trump pulls out or wears a “Make America Great Again” hat : Chug your drink
  5. Whenever Trump boasts: Drink
  6. If he grabs someone by the pussy: Drink a whole bottle of whisky and hope death comes quickly instead of the four long years you would have to suffer through
  7. When he attacks his opponents: Drink
  8. Speaks with such hubris it makes you want to vomit: drink, and again, death will probably follow with the frequency
  9. Makes inappropriate gestures or comments about his own daughter: drink for the length of awkward physical exchange or five second

Maybe, just maybe, this will make the day tolerable. Maybe, just maybe, it will help us find humor in this situation. Or…we’ll all die from alcohol poisoning. I am going with the latter of the two.

Good luck keeping your glass full!

The Cuckoo’s Tufted Combover

Wouldn’t Trump

make the perfect dystopian leader.

Erect at his podium

tongue spreading trepidation

like wildfire,

after lightning strike in prairie grass.

 

Feathered combover

waves and bounces with gusts

of wind.

Orange hue

unnatural in light,

skin should not glimmer

with such radiation glow.

 

As if he was

the quintessential allegory

for America’s secretive bigotry.

George Orwell

in all his totalitarian imaginings

would marvel

it didn’t happen

in 1984.

Craft Brewers are the Willy Wonkas of our Generation

I like to imagine that if I owned a brewery, it would look like Tim Burton outfitted the mechanics of the operation, and of course it wouldn’t be complete without some strange character portrayed by Johnnie Depp, lurking in the shadows, flitting around the brewery floor. But seriously, this generation, my generation, the Generation Xers who awoke to find themselves listening to Pearl Jam and Nirvana, Screaming Trees and Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains and Weezer, confused and enthralled by the transition from the eighties rock our siblings consumed to the alternative music which exploded out of Seattle in full flannel regalia, seem to have wakened a sleeping giant. Resurrecting the fabled craft breweries that seemed to have wane and fizzled out during the middle of the twentieth century, the kind of breweries of who’s passing our parents lamented, as they cracked open a can of light, over-carbonated, piss-colored, dull tasting beer, because it was the only thing left for them to drink, is the product of our generations heterogeneous nature.

After being bombarded with lesser quality products for years and years, we came out on top, brewing, experimenting, creating phenomenal brews; whether at home in our basements, fermenting in 5 gallon carboys, or on a larger scale, in the craft breweries we all love and know today. To give you an idea on how bad the situation was, how dire it became for us in the beer world, let me give you some statistics. In 1887, 2,011 breweries were in operation throughout the United States. After the Eighteenth Amendment was enacted, and repealed with the Twenty-first, many breweries who’s operations ceased during this thirteen year drought, never reopened. Unable to cope with the change, breweries shuttered their doors of many famous beers our grandparents imbibed. This eventuality led to a homogeneity of the industry, and even as time moved on, and the Volstead Act seemed a distant memory to the population– nothing more than an unbelievable story lost in time, passed on from parent to child–its effects were still seen like ripples in a pond, each small wave growing larger as it moved away from the epicenter of that careless pebble tossed into the placid waters by the irresponsible peddlers of hypocrisy and temperance.

It was in the seventies that we saw the worst of the worst, and when you reach rock bottom, you only have place to go, and that is up. Many of us grew up with our parents drinking cheap beers smelling and tasting of sulfur, looking like urine from a camel having been in the desert for weeks on end, only palatable ice cold, the smallest bit of warmth instantly skunking these mass-produced brews; the Walmart of beers. Maybe this is why we revolted, why we needed to do something different, to buck the trend and bring back flavor. Whatever the reasons, I am relieved it happened. In 1977 there were only 89 breweries left in the United States. Think about that, from 2,011 to 89 in only 90 years. Many were bought up by greedy companies that didn’t care about taste and quality–and that still happens today–and many just couldn’t compete against industry giants, due to their large marketing budgets and campaigns which dominated the television screens of my youth, and so they faded away, their beers slowly disappearing for the shelfs of package stores and within bar coolers.

Come the rumblings of a revolution. A youth upset that toys moved from metal to plastic, that greed consumed everything in society. We watched our television shows with 90 second commercial breaks and no interruption for over fifteen minutes of program viewing. We saw quality programs. Imagination and innovation prevailed.  There was something unique about all this, but at the time, it was the norm, the status quo, the standard convention; we never thought twice about it. But then as we matured and got older, as we began to observe and rationalize, to coalesce information and our observations, to synthesize all this into coherent thoughts, we realized times had changed, and quality degraded, till there was nothing left but the tripe we find today in the mass media. Jump ahead, past our formative years, the years when we absconded sips of our parents beers and sneered at the foul taste, past the years we bought suitcases of Meister Braü because few others were available to us, and drank it with disdain, lets move past all those years. There on the horizon of the current, yet still the unknown future of our youths, was a revolution of brewing growing inside all of us, disgusted by what a generation of greed had done.

We exploded, like a firecracker in a closed hand. We blew up the industry, awakening a youth with our tastebuds, nothing less of something fabulous and revolutionary in flavor. Brewers began to melt out of the shadows, rubbing their eyes at the light of day, hidden for so long below the piles of empty silver beer cans, heaped with red and white emblems on many, others bearing the mark of “light or lite” on their bodies. These beer magicians become heroes for our generation, giving back taste to something that was so prolific in our lives, yet was missing for so long we didn’t know any better. They merged malt and hop with the cleanest water. They found strains of yeast, known only in Europe, to munch on rich sugars, creating the brews we began to love. And so it happened, we found ourselves destroying the bonds of homogeneity and creating something spectacular, an imaginarium of all that we held holy.

There is no sign of abatement, and for this I am excited. It seems we’ve reached an epoch, an era, a historical moment in time where we appreciate higher standards, taking quality over quantity. Today over 3,418 breweries and brewpubs exist in the United States, and that number is growing every year. Yes companies like InBev, one single company, now owns almost a third of the beer distributed in the world, but this is not a concern for us, the beer lovers of the world. While a few smaller breweries have allowed themselves to be bought by Anheuser-Busch InBev, selling out their values siting easier distribution, the majority of craft breweries resist this trend, knowing a loss of regional and local fanbase would occur, and, also, the whole reason they began this journey was to create something beautiful, works of art we consume, and no artists wishes to see their work destroyed. But, how can small breweries compete against giants like AB InBev, easy, they already do it. By creating better beer, and due to the attention their beers get by brewers who care about their product, they are like a gardner nurturing a plant, willing it to grow and flourish, investing the time so it can flower into something beautiful.

Like Willy Wonka hiding a golden ticket to sup on candy in his factory, breweries create special edition beers, that only the most dedicated beerphile will know of, find, and relish with secret delight, squealing with sheer giddiness and glee as they imbibe these toothsome brews. With brewery-release beers, like the hop forward, delectable pale ale Dinner, from Maine Beer Company in Freeport, Maine, droves of people wait in line for hours to buy a case, some even camping overnight to be first in line. Smuttynose Brewery, in Portsmouth, NH, once upon a time, released an imperial stout named Kate the Great, which, to obtain said beer, had to purchase a scratch off ticket for $2, of which 900 tickets out of 1000 were winners, allowing the holder to claim this illustrious, coal black stout. These events seem tame compared to 3 Floyds Brewing Co. who hosts a Dark Lord Day during which you can purchase their Dark Lord Imperial Stout. With musical acts and over 10,000 people arriving for this monuments day, those who purchase a “beer lover’s ticket” are then allowed about 3 or 4 bottles of this holy relic of beer. These are just a few of the special occasions we find ourselves drawn to as beer lovers, while domestic beers fall flat and insipid, even trying to capture the craft market, but always falling short with beers that lack flavor.

With so many other events and speciality brewery release beers out there I could go on forever. As we constantly rebel against the commercialization of everything, from enjoyment to experiences, food to nature, like a phoenix from the ashes of our childhood youth, we are creating something unique and exquisite, which is only going to grow with time. As Willy Wonka–the one, true, and only Willy Wonka, Gene Wilder– said, “We are the music makers and we are the dreams of the dreams.” Please, brewers, keep on dreaming.

 

Why I Love The Onion, and Why You Should Too.

Recently there was a tragedy, occurrence, event, catastrophe, calamity–whatever you wish to call it or the politicians wish to name it with their rhetoric. Either way, there was an event in which people died; that we can all agree upon. Whatever you wish to call the shootings in Colorado Springs, it doesn’t change the outcome. People are dead, lives are forever changed, and like a pebble thrown into a placid mirrored pond, the ripples from that stone will affect the lives of so many within their communities, families, and circles of friends.

Only a day after the shootings on November 29th, The Onion, the online satirical news media website, openly satirized the shootings, well at least poked fun at a certain segment of the population that tend to act like ostriches, burying their heads deep within the sand. The writers of this online website did what they do best, satirize an event, while at the same time, making Americans scratch their heads, thinking, “is this supposed to be funny?” As a comedy website that has articles named “Realtor Was Not Expecting Such Hard-Hitting Questions About Water Pressure”  or “New Study Finds Box Still World’s Most Popular Container,” it is hard to think of these writers taking such a serious stance on an issue such as gun violence in America, but that is exactly what they do after major incidents like this most recent killing spree .

#MemeOfTheWeek: That Article From The Onion About Mass Shootings

In October NPR wrote an article titled, “#MemeOfTheWeek: That Article From The Onion About Mass Shootings,” illustrating the prevalence of mass shootings in the United States. NPR highlighted something that confounded some; that even a website like The Onion,–one who satirizes moms drinking wine, or dads feeling failure from daughter not being as boyish as the boy he wanted– that they are one of the few media outlets who really tell it as it is, and give their opinion openly on these tragedies. And yet, they are comedy, they are Tosh.O, they are South Park, they are Steven Colbert, they are the sarcasm that some of us love, the sardonic wit of twisted individuals, with their dark humor. I wonder….I wonder if everyone who reads The Onion, really understands what they are reading. That in these moments, in these articles, they are reading something so powerful, something so important, something about an event that has affected so many lives, and will affect so many more in the future.

Frustrated Gunman Can’t Believe How Far He Has To Drive To Find Nearest Planned Parenthood Clinic

After shootings at military bases, colleges, schools…. and the list goes on, and on, and on. But seriously, after so many shootings at so many different locations, we have our most recent shooting, at a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Again, The Onion was there to bolster us up, to remind us, that there is life after tragedy, but tragedy should not be part of life. Instead tragedies like this are part of insanity and extremism, and should be abnormal, not the normal. On November 30th, the article “Frustrated Gunman Can’t Believe How Far He Has To Drive To Find Nearest Planned Parenthood Clinic,” poked fun at lack of gun control coupled with religious zealotry. You know who they are mocking, it is there under the surface. Hell, they even chose Texas as the state of location; I wonder why? The irony isn’t missed on me either, that while in our nation, we are deathly afraid of Islamic terrorists, but Christian warriors, who do God’s will, are not terrorists. Huh, interesting. Now you may think this is all too soon. But no, it isn’t. Instead you get a feeling, reading this article, there is a sense of helplessness, a feeling of frustration. However you feel about it being in poor taste, The Onion is creating open dialogue and conversation on this horrible event, while candidates running for president will not even  make statements, acknowledging something horrible occurred.

NRA Visits Colorado Police Evidence Room To Check Up On Rifle Used In Planned Parenthood Shooting

Within 24 hours this satirical newspaper posted two articles, poking fun at the extreme groups that have a tendency to rally around religion, guns, and fear monger the most, and didn’t think twice about openly mocking one of the largest lobby groups in the nation, The NRA. In one line, The Onion highlighted how the lives of Americans are less important than their guns, and how you cannot feel sympathy for one, without alienating the other. Silence descends upon the Republican candidates all vying for position as the presidential front runner, as this tragedy confuses and befuddles their emotions. How can you feel empathy for the families of these people, who sold baby parts? How can you tell Americans this was a tragedy, while having no solution, because a solution would alienate your own political party? And thus comes the conundrum, what is more important, gun rights or people’s rights to live, to a safe society.

In the wake of this most recent tragedy, I read the articles posted by The Onion  and I did not laugh, or feel anger toward their satirization of this event, instead, I was grateful that they have the conviction to highlight the extremist ideologies that are attached to such events. Hiding your head in the sand, or debating and argument with the answer, “its my right,” is not productive discussion, instead it is opinion and want; it is pure desire. So, I love The Onion because they make me laugh, they make me smile. Their sarcasm warms my heart like reading a David Sedaris book, but above else, they have the mettle to stand up for what they believe is right, when others fall silent.

The Aberrant Writer

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Today I purchased a hollow cement sculpture of a baby’s skull. Its eyes; empty, its surface; smooth like plaster, its smile; dead and flat.  This skull, which was so recently housed at the local antique store in my town, with a tag that noted “plant pot? candleholder?” now sits on my bookcase, staring at me with dead vacant eyes, as words spill from my fingertips and onto my computer.

I think you have to embrace your eccentric side to be creative. I embrace my idiosyncrasies and bask in the manic periods I may have, writing so fast my fingers feel as if they will fall off. I take full advantage of those periods. No subject is taboo. Writing is about exposing yourself to the world, and feeling stronger every time.

Somewhere, on the horizon, lies multiple projects that my mind is vomiting as I run, drive, breath, eat, and work. I now have to prioritize them, and work on them with a fervent zeal that would make David Koresh look like a bible salesman.

In the end I have a few hurdles to conquer, but I guess, the real question that I must ask myself is, would a clown really give me their blood?

Confessions from a Confessional

Bless me father for I have sinned. It has been…..almost two decades since my last confession.  Where do I begin? I guess, for this to work, you would have to actually believe in a god.

I  sat there in that stuffy confessional where the air hung like a thick miasma of dry heat and sin. The burgundy velvet cushion crushed under the weight of my knees, and as I knelt there, I stared at the silhouette through a gold colored fabric, sandwiched between two layers of wicker screen . The room was small, and the walls seemed to draw in on me, crushing my body in a vice of Catholic guilt. In that room of iniquity, that den of wicked transgressions, I raced my teenage mind for sins, and finding none, I blurted out lies.

What sticks out most in my mind, is how strange the experience was of confession, and the church where we asked forgiveness. This was not the normal church we attended mass, and that always struck me as odd. It was uncomfortable to be in this strange church, as if I were a visiting football team changing in the home-team’s locker room, only feet away from their school’s seal painted on the floor. That grand church with its vaulted ceilings, the saints and archangels staring down from the ceiling, their painted eyes passing judgement before I made it into that wooden box of guilty admission, was hot. Too hot. I can remember the steam radiators lined against the outer walls clicking and hissing as steam passed through their iron gills. It was like a well versed interrogation tactic. Get the sinners in the church and sweat them, make them uncomfortable, so they spill their sins like diarrhea of the mouth, just so they can make a quick escape into the chill of autumn, or the unbearable humidity and heat of a Long Island summer. But there was something else I noticed, something that made me cringe every time we made our pilgrimage to this house of the lord. The acoustics were great.

Seriously, who wants to confess their deepest, darkest sins, when everyone in the whole church can hear it. So there I am, a young kid, kneeling in a church pew, ten, twenty pews away from the confessional booth, and I can still hear everything the sinner is relating to the priest. Most of us whisper, some don’t, but for the most part every one’s guilt catches up to them, and they try and whisper, so as to avoid the rest of the judging Catholics’ eyes as they exit the booth. It is like a walk of shame when that door opens. Instead of absolution, you feel dirtier, as if you bathed in your sins a second time, wallowing in the muck of Satan’s deeds. Just moving on the kneeler in this church, with only a dozen repenters to dampen the echoes, makes a noise that garners the attention of anyone within its four walls. So you sit still, quiet, hoping that your uncomfortable shifting does not interrupt the strange rituals that occur behind closed doors. And then it is my turn.

Standing in line against the wall, the wall where radiators click and hum. The wall which feels like a blast furnace from hell, perspiring my body head to toe. Standing against that wall, I get closer to the booth, and peoples sins are now transmitted crystal clear, finding their receiver in my ears, and I cringe, knowing everybody will hear my sins. And then, before I know it, I find myself in the confessional.

“Bless me father for I have sinned. It has been–a long pause ensues–two months since my last confession.” Imagine a drawn out upward inflection after the pause. A question more than a statement. I have, and never will, been good with remembering time and events in relationship to a calendar of dates. My timeline floats somewhere in space, it is neither linear nor regressive, but instead jumbled, chopped, fragmented, and only assembled when need be. Already off to a good start, lying about the last time I had confession. So there I was, sitting there in that booth, the heat overwhelming and uncomfortable, but I haven’t even told you the weirdest part about all this, the wall which hid your face, was open on the left vertical half of the wall.

That’s right, open. I sat in that booth, while I could see the priest’s legs crossed, as he bobbed his feet up and down in the air. His face was behind the screen at least, but from his knees to feet, I could see those black wool pants that were always part of the uniform. Let me illustrate this for you. I could have reached my hand around the wall, and waved at myself, seeing the silhouette through that thin veil of a privacy screen. On some occasions, the priest decided to sit the other way, so you could see his face. Face to face confession! Come on. Really. So I sat there, melting into the corner of that booth, trying to squeeze as far into the opposite wall as possible, so the angle of his sight and my eyes might not meet, blocked by the wall that only obscured half the priest, only this time not his head. And then we spoke.

“Tell me your sins,” he would say. Tell me your sins? My sins? I would race through my mind, thinking, hemming and hawing. I had rehearsed this when I was in line against the horrid wall of radiator hell, but now I froze, like a teenager having recited how he would ask his crush out, only to get up to her and drown in a sea of self-conscious uncertainty, mumbling something incomprehensible and then running away in an awkward fashion. Whispering as low as I could, knowing everyone out there in line would hear my confession, I started. Of course he always told me to speak up, and I would just continue to whisper, like a passing birds call on the wind miles away.

My sins. I questioned so much as a teenager, as a child, I didn’t really believe in god, finding my the answers to my questions only created more questions. I was probably fifteen when I really committed to that, and for the next three years found myself just going through the motions. So here I was, thinking of sins that I didn’t believe I committed, and I was supposed to come up with something, anything. So, I did what any self-respecting teenager would do, lie. I created sins on the spot. I spewed forth a whole host of venial sins. Sins that were pathetic. “I lied to my parents about going out with my friends; I stole chips and cookies from the pantry when my parents had already said no; I said the lord’s name in vain,” you know, things like that. There I sat, lying to a priest about my sins, making them up as I went along. The coup de grâce of this act was always, “I lied.” Which I had just done. So yeah, confession was somewhat of a mockery for me, but what was I to do, I was a good kid.

I really was a good kid. I didn’t do much to incur the wrath of my parents. I was liked by my teachers. I didn’t really cause trouble in school. My rebellion was philosophical, my differences were and are with society, rules, religion, discrimination and a whole host of other inequalities; hence being a humanist and atheist. But Catholicism makes you feel guilty, as if sin from oozes your pores. If it is enjoyable, it is a sin. That is my take on religion. Now don’t get me wrong, I am glad I was raised with religion, it taught me valuable lessons that, and I have a strong understanding of right and wrong, morals and ethics, but that is where my appreciation of religion ends. I was strong enough not to drink the Kool-Aid, and as a result, live a very fulfilled life without someone else informing me how to function.

In the end, Catholic guilt still sticks with us all, even if we are recovering from our early years indoctrinated in the church. As my friend’s pointed out in my early college years , I draped–and still do–a napkin over any unfinished food on my plate. This act is not conscious, but subliminally done, and when I realized I did this, it became apparent that you can’t strip away all the years of sinful regret in such a short time. Because, some where in Africa, there is a starving child that would eat that food.

A Generation Raised by Hanna-Barbera

As someone who is on the tail end of Gen-Xers, I find myself drawn to the plethora of cartoon shows which are throwbacks to my childhood. Now, I am not referring to the crappy, computer generated Saturday morning cartoons that children watch today, unwittingly participating in a farce of this beloved tradition, which blossomed in the late seventies and took off in the early eighties. Clad in our one piece, zip up, feety pajamas, with some beloved character clad across the white torso area—the same pajamas that zipped up many a child’s penis inside its devilish teeth, as we screamed for relief, the only form of such aid, a quick tug. I equate this terror to aligning a dislocated patella. You don’t tell the patient you are doing it, or give them advanced warning, you just lull them into conversation, and snap, a quick yelp, and then they realize there is no pain, the look of excruciating pain actually preemptory, as their psyche anticipated searing pain to overcome their body which was never delivered. Anyway, I digress, back to Saturday morning. We sat glued, fixated on the screen as Hanna Barbera characters, Scooby Doo, GI Joe, Transformers, Muppet Babies, Snorkels, The Smurfs and so many others became essential to our survival as children. These shows became a daily tradition, a routine which became necessary for our weekend to begin. Friday night may have been the official start to the weekend, with our parents in the other room, huddled around the television waiting to see who shot J.R. or if on Falcon Crest, Cole would awaken from his coma, but Saturday morning cartoons made the weekend real. We sat in front of the crappy, nineteen inch screen with whatever sugared cereal was in the house, and became hypnotized by whatever was on at that time. We didn’t need our parents awake, we had cartoons to guide us. We were sucked in by shows like Pryor’s Place, where Robin Williams co-starred as a vagrant. We were a generation of Muppet Babies, and Muppet movies. Cartoons were part of our lives, and as such, it makes sense we accept them in our adult life.

I have noticed in recent years that there are more and more adult cartoons on television. From Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, which has given us The Venture Bros. and Robot Chicken, to shows like the Simpsons, Family Guy, Futurama, Archer, and Bob’s Burger, it is no wonder these have become beloved staples of our tv watching routine. For those cartoon lovers, much like myself, who frantically watched Jonny Quest, The Venture Bros. has picked up that tradition. Satirizing this favorite staple, their critique of the show, and its unadulterated version of a strung out Dr. Venture, who was also a boy adventurer and now has psychological problems from all the near death adventures, much like Jonny, is perfect and spot on, speaking to this generation.

New cartoons on Saturday morning lack imagination, and have no cultural value. Even Loony Toons, who showed the occasional accepted racism and bigotry of the time, had cultural jokes which transcended children and allowed the adult in the room to chuckle at Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Bob Hope as chickens in Foghorn Leghorn cartoons. A whole cartoon was a Barber of Seville Opera with Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, now that is amazing. Or take the references to Milton Berle, who is more famous for his third leg which reportedly was like a baby’s arm holding an apple. Either way, cartoons have devolved to the crap that children watch now. I am thankful that pioneers have found their way to make the adult cartoons that feature David Bowie characters and make pop cultural references to the eighties. Archer, may be crude at time, but the frequent jokes alluding to Archer’s proclivity to obscure references of which comes from his reading materials and strange knowledge of facts is amazingly witty. If anything, these cartoons draw us in, because as children, our cartoons treated us as if we searching for something more than banality. Pop culture was injected into our shows, and we drank it up with a straw.

So as I write this, my collection of The Venture Bros. DVDs in the other room is calling my name. I want to find footy pajamas that fit me, cut the feet out—because they were always too hot to wear—and get a heaping bowl cereal. Maybe Boo Berry or mouth cutting Captain Crunch. There is always the ever beloved Cookie Crunch or Apple Jacks, and wistfully, I would shove my hand deep into the bottom, hoping to find the jelly octopus which I would throw against the sliding glass door, and watch it walk down as gravity worked its wonder. We are a generation of cartoon fanatics, and they will always be part of our routine, maybe not Saturday morning, but somewhere in our lives, they help mark the time of the week, and bring us back to a moment in life which we wistfully yearn for, even if we don’t realize it.