Saturday, February 12, 2011

Great Joys of Life, Pt. I: Wine

"Who does not love wine, women, and song, remains a fool his whole life long."

I was challenged to write a three-part entry about three of the best things in life (besides Conan's answer, of course). I'll begin my discourse on booze, broads, and ballads with my thoughts on the libations that lubricate loquation.

I am a fan of alcohol. Not for its own sake, mind you, but rather as a medium through which to share pleasurable experiences. It is the air through which conversation floats. It is the blood shared by friends, and the libation of the gods. It eases interactions with strangers, giving common ground, and is the feeling of familiarity that hangs around old friends like clouds of smoke hugging a freight train.

My mother, God love her precious soul, is vehemently opposed to the consumption of any sort of spirit, neglecting to take note that they're named after the things they raise and embolden. She refers to wine left in proper conditions as "likker", just as she does with a wonderful scotch, or a full-bodied bourbon, or a crisp vodka, which makes me wonder exactly where I got this taste for the fullness of flavor and experience I enjoy in my booze. I wish there were a way to show my mother that in alcohol, one may find company, discourse, philosophy, joy, or truth. That the addition of a libation to even the most mundane circumstances, given the right group of people, will heighten the mood of the evening--not simply through chemistry and neuron interaction, but through an indescribable spiritual and mental cognizance of the simple greatness of now.

Through the proper application of good company (old friends or new) and alcohol, one may recite the past without dwelling on it, dream of the future without limit, and unlock the complete potential of the very moment one is standing in. You talk about yourself more, but the facts you give tell more about yourself. You listen more intently than you would normally, and laugh at jokes without reservation. Wine is both the glue that binds new friendships and the acetone that dissolves inhibitions.

The drink changes the perception of the man, as well. If I order a whiskey, I'm treated with the respect afforded a paragon of manhood, gruff but with taste. When I order a martini ("Vodka martini, stirred lightly, and make it a Dickens."), suddenly all the prettiest girls in the bar take notice of me, whatever I'm wearing. It works for either gender; when a woman drinks wine, I see her as either a sophisticate or a lightweight, depending on the type and situation. When she orders a scotch neat, however, she becomes a hardass, someone I'm more likely to swap war stories with than ice-breaking anecdotes. Both women are attractive, they're just so in different ways.

It should be noted at this point that I am not an advocate of drunkenness. It dulls the wit, the senses, and the ability to stand correctly. Drunkenness is the theft of class and sophistication, and should only be undertaken in the safest of circumstances with people that already love you enough to deal with it. Drunkenness should be a consequence and never, ever an intent. It isn't enjoyable to stumble haphazardly about, drooling on oneself, throwing out your worst game. If it happens in the course of an evening, that's fine--don't seek it. It marks you as someone bereft of both class and good sense.

Whatever the reason, whatever the drink, a life without a sip now and then seems like it's missing something. As Franklin said, "Beer is proof that God loves us, and wants us to be happy." He also, in His infinite wisdom, created wine--something man simply discovered and refined. Whiskey is a form of liquid grain storage with pleasant flavor and social side-effects. Alcohol lets you tell great stories, and make great new ones. Drink responsibly.

"Burgundy makes you think of silly things,
Bordeaux makes you talk of them,
and Champagne makes you do them."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Writer's Block

This post is supposed to be about writer's block in an effort to help me get past it. I'm not sure it'll work, as I can't currently think of anything to write about it, oddly enough. I want to curse at writer's block, to shake my fist at it, to scream at the top of my lungs and impale it with my quill...but getting frustrated at writer's block is like punching a wall harder because it hurt your hand the first time.

All artists suffer from some kind of bleh period, don't they? Don't all writers fall to this from time to time? Don't artists put down their pencils and brushes in disgust as musicians fling sheet music into the air? How do they beat it, then? Do they continue in their art, making crap until good comes back out, like running warm water through the tap? Do they take a break, and if so, how do they remember to come back? How do you know when you beat it?

Really, I think at the heart of my particular predicament is the idea that nobody cares what I write anyhow. This sense of futility, that I'm the only one that enjoys my writing, saps that very joy from it, leaving me with nothing. And I'm not confident enough to ask people to read my writing, or critique it, or ask if they enjoy it, because I'm actually pretty self-conscious about it. Which is truly sad, as it's one of the few things I think I do well. Writing and cooking. And I guess unmentionables, too, but how pathetic can a person be if even their best isn't good enough for them? Am I a perfectionist? Or do I just hate myself so much I can't see the value of my work? Or, worse yet, what if my work is terrible? It's still the best I can do. I've fancied myself a writer my whole life, and if I can't do that right, what's left?

I'm not sure how many people would follow me on a literary adventure. I don't know if, when I set out on this road, anyone will be there to hear my minstrels sing of my glory, if indeed there is any glory to be found. Should I ask people to accompany me? Should I just journey for myself, and at the end of the road, look back to see if anyone came?

I don't know anymore.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

What magical powers do you possess?

I can quiet crying babies, feed an army for less than $100, fit things in interdimensional spaces in already-full trunks, ninja-fight rabid vampire monkeys, and make sweet tea.

Ask me anything you'd like. Anything at all.