The Morning After

Someone cue up “The Poseidon Adventure” (the original version). (And did you know it won an Oscar?)

Okay, somehow I “updated” Firefox from 2.0 to 1.5 and I have a considerable hangover that I hope breakfast will alleviate. I recall a lengthy telephone conversation involving Saint-Saens’ “Carnival of the Animals” and how I was ashamed to reveal my love of classical music because I didn’t feel I was culturally cognizant enough. Woo hoo!

In any event, thank you for playing. And hopefully there were more NaDruWriNi participants than the mere six I found!

#8: what?

okay, so i am beyond the point of coherence…..i am trying to download “carnival of the animals” right now without success…the irony being that I am too drunk (read: too lazy) to pull it from my cd shelf….lazy lazy lazy drunk drunk….man…..okay, I bid you adieur

#3: general observation

I think the chick on Torchwood is kinda hot, particularly (I’m not too ashamed to admit) when she wears one of those British police officer uniforms. The actress’s name is Eve Myles. And seeing as how this show is “adult” (and putting my general humanist concerns to the side), I’ve been waiting for her to take her top off, out of a kind of professional curiosity on my part. Come on, Russell T. Davies. If you’re so “adult,” why isn’t there much in the way of sex? I’m disappointed. This is about as “adult” as David O. Selznick paying for the line, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Ooohhh! Mr. Cutting Edge!

#2: more drinks

One shot of Wild Turkey.

And then I tried out a combination of bourbon, sweet vermouth and Coke. I don’t recommend this. It’s a mix only slightly more repellent than the Hangman’s Blood. So now I’m on Bailey’s for a while. Bailey’s — that port in the storm when you don’t want to wimp out with a yuppie drink like a white wine spritzer, but you can’t handle straight shots.

I’m at a loss as to what to write about, but will happily take requests. Your thoughts?

#1: let the games begin

Hello and welcome to National Drunken Writing Night, where sentences are incoherent, thoughts are even more so, and bloggers have an excuse to sit around the house and drink. The sun is fading beyond the trees in the Park and I’m polishing off an Irish highball as my first drink. I suppose I could have opted for a tequila sunset, but that would have been too cruel a drink to start off with. And besides, there isn’t any tequila at the bar. In fact, much of my bar is composed of bottles leftover from last year.

A few things I should observe: I generally do not write when drinking. Bad enough that caffeine is a part of my writing habits and that I often go nuts with the coffee when working on a lengthy piece. But I cannot imagine much sense to come from drinking and writing — never understood the idealization. I’ve heard stories of an editor regularly insisting to his staff, “Write while drunk! Edit while sober!” Why? Is it not better to get everything as taut as possible in the first draft? To write as coherently as you can?

Granted, there is some value if the commandment were to suggest, “Keep it loose and dirty in the writing stage. Use your brain in the editing stage.” So perhaps this is what the editor was suggesting.

Incidentally, the combination of Jameson and ginger ale is not as bad as I expected, although it does seem incongruous to the Jameson. I think I’m going to man it up a bit and follow this with a straight shot of bourbon.


Although some agua was imbibed last night to soften the blow (thus hindering credence of this conclusion), here is the final verdict on the Hangman’s Blood: As Burgess reported, there is no hangover to speak of. Despite a good deal of champagne, several whiskey and cokes, a nutty rum and whisky concoction invented on the fly, a few Guinnesses and, of course, the HB. The HB then is recommended for people who have a fully stocked bar, aren’t terrified of a cocktail with a noxious taste, and greatly desire to have alcohol affect their head, arms and various portions of the upper torso with celerity.

Burgess was quite wrong, however, to impute a “metaphysical elation.” The results were almost immediately corporeal, but not extra or supernatural in any real sense. The metaphysical failings here are likely my own, since I am certainly not as smart as Burgess, limited only to casual philosophizing, and I don’t really associate drinking with any rise of the intellectual bar.

As it so happens, Pinky’s Paperhaus did participate in last night’s festivities and Mr. B is to be commended for his cartoons and personal riffing. I cannot imagine the hangunder poor Jeff will have from all that coffee, but I do hope he got some solid sleep. Heaven help poor Wholesale Pants Warehouse, who not only went off the deep end but lost track of his wedding ring in the process. This is the kind of typing that some of us were striving for, but somehow failed to achieve. And leave it to Abroad Abroad to post drunken letters to Dave Eggers, among other things.

#10 — t-shirts

I am now wearing an Incredible Hulk t-shirt. This was simply because it was the nearest tee within arm’s reach. It appears to be a bit dirty. But no matter. I am doing laundry tomorrow. Of course, after that abominable Ang Lee movie, the Hulk is the least hep comic book figure to have emblazoned across your chest. But I like the Hulk. I grew up reading the Peter David issues, the good Gray Hulk stuff, and the Hulk, I suppose, is a figure that is my guilty pleasure. Almost as guilty as the Fantastic Four. (Under duress, you will hear me saying, “It’s clobbering time!”)

Anyway, at my local cafe, I’ve become known as the laconic writer who comes in with “crazy” tee shirts and a laptop. The staff at this cafe is very nice. But they have rather strangely identified me as the man over 30 with the T-shirts (“The Brain That Wouldn’t Die,” “The Cabinet of Dr. Calligari,” the like). I have obtained some dubious neighborhood-related mystique. Why would such a man with a clearly receding hairline deign to espouse this sort of adolescence? There seems to be a silent consensus among the staff that there might be something serious going on.

But it’s really quite simple. For whatever damn reason, I feel tremendously comfortable writing while wearing a strange T-shirt espousing unfashionable cultural trappings. Where other people might roll up their sleeves, I feel the need to replace my shirt (and I am more inclined to wear dress shirts than tees) to get down to bidness.

In fact, there seems to be an odd crap tee revival of sorts amongst the hipster community. There is a rather obnoxious cafe known as Cafe Reverie up in Cole Valley. I once went in there with a Spam T-shirt, expecting to be ridiculed and otherwise demeaned with snobbish looks. But what I found instead was that the people there really dug my shirt. A friend of mine tried to explain to me that adopting these T-shirts involved a certain trailer trash chic that was currently in vogue. I had no such plan. I wore the tee because I liked it and there was some strange need to provoke yuppies who believe they are entitled to everything. But it was just the reverse.

So the moral of the story is this: a T-shirt may not be the symbol of rebellion you think it is.

#9 — what now?

The champagne is gone, the whiskey is a go-going down my throat, and it appears that Mr. B himself has, at long last, entered the fray. After writing that linoleum story, I’ve been staring at the hardwood floors with some uncertainty.

1. I should note that the Burgess beverage has caused me to burp quite a lot. I’m not really in the habit of burping, but if anyone should seriously consider this noxious beverage as a drink of choice, they may wish to know this.

2. I looked out the window about ten minutes ago and saw that some folks across the street were moving. The house with the interesting pink glasswork on the windows. Seeing them, I went outside and asked them if they needed any help. Foolishly, they assented. I carried two boxes and when they noticed that I was stumbling with the box, they asked me to leave. It’s a fair cop. The last thing you need when you’re moving on a Saturday night is some drunken stranger stumbling about with your possessions. I asked them if they wanted any of the stout and they insisted that I leave. So much for public community.

3. There is a noticeable misstep in my gait.

4. I’m wondering if should hie to my neighborhood bar.

5. I haven’t really been thinking about sexual possibilities. I wonder what’s wrong. Have I become resigned?

6. Battle Royale II has been on pause now for two hours. I’m thinking it’s not worth it.

7. I had intended to write about Mike Leigh’s films, but I’m not sure if I’m pellucid enough.

8. Ideas here are always welcome.

9. There is a lot of water in the fridge, come what may.

#7 — a story

The divine Ms. Frye has challenged me to write a story with the following terms: “Christopher Cross,” “champagne,” “linoleum,” “Etruscan sculpture,” “werewolf” and “Australia cricket.”

So here goes:


Chris stared at the kitchen linoleum. It looked quite sparkling and amazing after about two bottles of champagne. Of course, to appreciate linoleum, it helped to be as close to the surface as possible. But Chris was at an advantage here, given that the champagne had essentially stopped him from standing, knocking his ass quite savagely onto the floor.

It occurred to Chris, as his tongue licked the tile while he waited for the feeling to return to his arms and legs (anything to stave off boredom), that he had not yet seen an Etruscan sculpture. Clearly, there was a disadvantage to being an agarophobic. He’d hit Italy one day, if he could find the appropriate specialist who might be able to help him understand the outside world. Assuming he could even make it into the outside world.

He’d obtained the champagne by calling a friend. He had to celebrate the New Year somehow. And he figured that he couldn’t handle Dick Clark on the teevee without ingesting some kind of substance. So he would need champagne to cope as he heard the screams outside of people enjoying themselves.

But what Chris didn’t know was that his friend was a werewolf. The primary reason his friend had moved to Pacifica was because it was foggy most of the time and there was no chance that he’d turn into a werewolf anytime soon, given that the fog would occlude great Helios. Sure, there had been a stint in Sydney, where he’d become a devout participant in Australian cricket. And he’d been very good. But the minute that they had shifted to night games, Chris’s friend had reneged on his dependability, given that he was a furry monster hoping to mawl some insignificant human — ideally, a human resources manger or some other person who didn’t contribute all that much to society at large.

Nevertheless, the champagne was had without bloodshed. For the fog had once again protected Chris’s best friend.

Chris had made the mistake of leaving the FM radio on. At the precise moment when Chris was prepared to fall asleep in a particularly shameful and ridiculous locale, Christopher Cross began to sing on the radio. This disturbed Chris, as Chris didn’t particularly trust anyone who shared his Christian name.

But with great endurance, Chris was able to survive the terrible Christopher Cross music. And he soon settled to sleep onto the kitchen linoleum.

Unfortunately, when Chris caught a bit of alcohol-induced shuteye, during stage one, the fog had lifted from the town. And it was a full moon. And his friend, unable to control his urges, found himself a meal. What Chris hadn’t known is that his friend had been the famed singer Chrisopher Cross all along.

If there was a winner in this tragic tale, it was the linoleum. For when the appropriate authorities had cleaned the place up, the linoleum had demonstrated to the landlord its remarkable resilience. For all the blood, spilled champagne, and other odd fluids gracing its surface, the linoleum could endure. And the tenant who moved into Chris’s apartment was as impressed with the linoleum as the previous occupants, even if this tenant had not known its grisly history.

#6 — champagne

Folks, explain to me the following mystery. And it comes to me because champagne right now is the order of the evening. (Good Christ, is the bottle almost finished?) Sure, Arthur‘s a fine movie. One of the great comedies featuring an alcoholic with a good performance by Dudley Moore. But who was the “genius” who thought that Christopher Cross’ falsetto ballad “Best That You Can Do” was somehow apposite for the film? It can be thoroughly argued that Christopher Cross contributed absolutely nothing to popular music during his career. Even if there were a few misguided souls who thought that Cross’ falsettos projected a certain sensitive male aura, one could argue that Cross’s variety of sensitivity was not only utterly inappropriate, but quite detractive from the plight of the film’s ironic character.

Even Cross’ lyrics leave little to be desired for anyone who cares for the written word:

If you get caught between the moon and New York City
I know it’s crazy but it’s true
If you get caught between the moon and New York City
The best that you can do,
The best that you can do is fall in love

Come on, Cross! These are shallow metaphors. Even if we were to accept the strange locale of “between the moon and New York City,” there are other interesting things that one can do, such as develop an ability to fly or breathe in the vacuum of space. This in itself might be “the best that you can do,” given that it would have very positive results for humankind.

In fact, Cross’s music continues to be accepted to this very day. Even the hipsters at All Music Guide have given his debut album four and a half out of five stars.

If “Walking in Avalon” doesn’t horrify you the way that it horrifies me, I seriously want to know why. Sure, I can understand the appeal of Bread and Supertramp. But Cross was without a doubt the Phil Collins of his time, specializing in shallow lyrics and vapid song structures. By what stretch of the imagination should he be seriously considered?

#4 — battle royale ii

Now drinking the Korbel used to top off the Hangman’s Noose.

I’ve watched a little bit of Battle Royale II and, based on the fifteen minutes I’ve seen so far, let’s just say that it’s not as interesting or as eye-popping as the first one. If anything, it seems to be more of a confused retread. The kids who slaughtered each other on the island have now, get this, declared war on adults. And somehow it all ties into terrorism. In fact, there’s now a faction group of “BR supporters” which numbers ten million — a political bloc that seems to think that kids killing each other on an island is a fabulous idea. (And you thought the United States was a scary place.) Inexplicably, the game has spread to Japan and now one can personally enroll in the program through the Internet. (Gee, that’s an extremely stupid idea given that you have a 1 in 40 chance of staying alive.)

It’s safe to say that this plot makes no sense. First off, let’s do the math. 365/3 days of killing = 121 survivors per year. Since we saw in the first film that there is some downtime between classes killing each other, this would suggest to me that the number falls far shorter of this 121 survivor rate. Let’s put it at 50 survivors.

So in Battle Royale II, it’s three years after the first film, which would give us around 150 survivors. Since the Japanese government controls these massacres, it seems to me that they would be quite capable of either corralling the surivors or taking them out. If they have the resources to kidnap schoolbuses and send them to an island, then certainly they will be able to control 150 vicious loose cannons.

Further, if there have been 150 survivors, that would mean that there have been 5,850 deaths of children. Even if these kids were vicious, why would anyone advocate that much death? Now we’re talking a figure of “10 million BR supporters.” Now Japan has a population of 127 million. Which would suggest that 8% of its population thought highly enough of rampant childhood homicide to campaign for it.

Either Japan, as presented in the Battle Royale films, is a very fucked up place or there is something seriously wrong with the story logic.

More importantly, the fact that Beat Takeshi is nowhere to be found on this film sucks ass.

#3 — Political Phone Calls

Shifting over to straight stout temporarily after getting my neck in the noose.

Despite being out and about several times today for considerable durations of time, I have received twelve fucking phone calls from machines with recorded messages telling me precisely how I should vote this week. It would be one thing if these personages thought highly enough of me to call me personally, seeing as how I am going out of my way to answer the landline. No small task that, in this cell phone world. It would be one thing if even some volunteer called me personally and, once he has guessed within seconds that I’ll be voting against Prop. 75, we could then chat for 30 more seconds about the weather or the White Sox and then I could wish him well. Perhaps his name could be Joe and the two of us could bond over the fact that we both have monosyllabic first names.

But these are fucking machines. And they genuinely believe that if you hear a recording of Matt Gonzalez or Tom Ammiano sounding as if they’re speaking to you from some wind tunnel, that you will somehow take their boiler plate audio seriously.

In fact, since this week’s election is relatively modest compared to others (no President, no Governor, no Senator or Representative), I’ve actually been surprised that these phone calls have outnumbered the political junkets clogging my mailbox by a ratio of 3:1. I came home one evening last week and my voicemail was FULL!

Who was the asshole who thought up this scheme? And what’s his fucking number? Do these people not realize that when we pick up a phone, we are often in the middle of a very important task and that it’s a bit like coitus interruptus when the far more interesting task is upstaged by some standardized nonsense?

Granted, one could always turn the phone ringer off. One can choose not to pick up the phone at all. But this, of course, means more voicemails and more phone calls to return later. And why do that when, in one fell swoop, you can personally answer the call and manage your time more effectively (thus rendering the duration that it takes to listen to the voicemail and then return it) and get another phone call out of the way?

How disappointing it is to find one’s effrontery on this subject stymied when there’s that five second pause where you’re shouting “Hello? Hello? Is anybody there?” and then you suddenly realize that it’s a machine trying to figure you out the optimal moment to play the recording!

It’s enough to make one wear a Budweiser jacket, pick up chain-smoking again, and call out to a barful of strangers, “There oughta be a law!”

#1 — The Burgess Cocktail

So, per the instructions, I prepared the Hangman’s Blood.

This is one serious beverage.

The taste is overpoweringly pungent and I cannot imagine anyone other than a drinker of Burgess’ hardy stature drinking more than one of these over an evening. Since there are five hard liquors involved (and I prepared about a jigger a piece), even the viscous Guinness cannot absorb the full potency of this brew. And the Korbel on top only complicates thing, causing the mix to resemble some cold version of a frothy witches brew.

However, Burgess was damn right about the elation. I’ve had about a third of the drink so far and, despite dinner, it went straight to my head and, despite the noxious taste, I am feeling a very pleasant tingle throughout my arms and my stomach.

Perhaps this is the British answer to Long Island Iced Tea. Because the gin in particular really seems to stand out. (Perhaps gin doesn’t chemically mesh with the Guinness. Any scientists in the crowd tonight?)

NaDruWriNi: Another Preface

Since Jeff was thoughtful enough to provide a preface, I thought I’d offer my two sober bits well before the drinking. I believe all the necessary ingredients for the Burgess cocktail (Hangman’s Blood) are in the bar. I just need to get some stout. Given the remarkable elements contained within this beverage, I truly believe that elation of some kind will be had.

Normally when I write, I eschew all substances, with the possible exception of coffee. I’ve never understood the idea that writing is aided in some sense by being blotto. But I suppose it’s up to each and every writer. Faulkner is reported to have kept a bottle of whiskey by his desk. But I should also note that Richard Yates, one of the most profound alcoholic writers of all time, never once sipped while he was crafting his work during the day.

The question then is what can come from all this. My guess is not much at all, save some paeans to lonelniess and some astonishing leaps in logic. This would suggest that NaDruWriNi, in addition to functioning as the obverse of NaNoWriMo, has been brilliantly engineered as a grand ironic exercise. An extremely strange collaborative experiment that involves people staying in and drinking on a Saturday night, and then recording their experiences.

I should also warn readers daring to peruse tonight’s entries that I’ve been in a poetic mode of late, contemplating, in particular, Robert Herrick’s bawdy epigrams (a rose protruding from white indeed) and Thomas Gray’s dilemma of unlived lives and “mute inglorious Miltons.” Whether any of this will manifest itself here remains to be seen.

Because I have to get up early tomorrow, tonight’s drinking will commence at 6:00 PM PST and the first entry shortly after that. (For those who wish to follow along, the category tag is here.) Please feel free to contribute ideas and topics to write about. And be sure to encourage the other fine participants to keep on trucking.

Interestingly enough, Abroad Abroad reports that NaDruWriNi has made Craig’s List.


#9 — the male mind

8:50 PM: I am officially on Screwdriver Five (I think). I am also colliding iinto walls and it is heinously arduous for me to type in a fucking post. I hope for B’s sake that this isn’t considered “moderate.” It sure as hell doesn’t feel that way. My head is beginning to throb. In my defense, I should say that drinking copious amounts of alochol is no longer a reality for me. At least, it hasn’t been the case since my mid-twenties. So I’ve had to force the stuff down my gullet, with the caveat that I should last to some degree. I’m a man of my word, as some folks here know.

Anyway, fair is fair. And I’m happy to address Lauren’s point concerning “the end of the relationship.” From my standpoint, at least, the female anatomy has been of more pressing interest since the end of the relationship. The value of a relationship involves rampant sex and intimacy that stymies the male resolve to some degree. But when it boils down to a solitary existence, the male is prone to download porn and to drift his eyes towards the fantastic tits bundled beneath a tight and revealing upper garment. This is comparatively normal, I’d say, as males go. We really can’t help ourselves. It’s biological. But in our defense (or at least my defense), we are also interested in the brains behind the machine. Except that this concern is revealed later in the game. Surely, my explicitly stipulated “putty” clause from the post in question was clear enough. But if it wasn’t, let me be the first (if not the umpteenth) to suggest that males are inherently visual and that, ostensibly, there is nothing wrong with this. We love your anatomy. We love to take it home with us. But, as was the case with this afternoon’s “let’s swap the material objects we left in each other’s apartments” meetings with my ex-gf, we males, I suspect, take the end of a relationship harder than the female hoping to become steadfast friends at the drop of a hat. It bothers us to enter some domicile in which we were previously intimate, precisely because we are inherently visual procrastinators.

Does this sort of answer your question, Lauren? If not, please advise and, as the drinks continue to pour down my larynx, I’d be happy to clarify. Kiss kiss.

#8 — further

I’m very impressed with Richard Powers’ The Time of Our Singing. He is concerned with virtue in wholly unanticipated ways. Whereas, I want to beat the hell out of Tom Wolfe’s cartoonish depiction of humanity in I Am Charlotte Simmons. I’ll have more to say on the latter, probably at January. But for the moment, I ask what’s worse? Deluding yourself into Balazc/Zola realism or coming to terms with your own intellectual limitations and taking a few risks. For my money, Richard Powers kicks Tom Wolfe’s ass any day of the week.

[UPDATE: Chance Morrison is also participating. Woo!]

#7 — tipsy?

It occurs to me that I should probably be drunker. I should point out that, despite several screwdrivers, whiskeys and Pilsners, I am still unfortunately coherent. I’m doing the best that I can. But there is this thing called an evening in which one must endure.

Even so, I suspect that National Drunken Writer Night, to most people, involves keeping on the safe ‘n sane. The question here is whether you want endurance or the immediate cum shot. If desirable, please advise in the comments as to how you’d like me to proceed with drink.

[Note: I should point out that typing is becoming harder. So perhaps I’ve fulfilled some of the dicta behind this exercise. B will know for sure. But if there are any independent judges, please fire away. Also check out Gwenda, who is doing a more remarkable job than I am at this. She, alas, has an understanding husband, whereas I have the remarkable savior of Kazaa Lite-downloaded pornography. The porn, I should point out, is disappointing and hardly as valuable as, oh say, a significant other. I doubt my capacity to go into the world on the prowl, but stranger things have happened. You want interactive? This is it, baby!]

#6 — comstock lode

How many Gordon Comstock’s are there out amongst us? I speak, of course, of the protagonist in Orwell’s Keep the Aspidistra Flying. Comstock was an ad man who willingly ostracized himself from his heinous profession with the idea of being a poet pursuing truth, as opposed to sticking as an ad man. Circumstances eventually brought Comstock back into the advertising fold. But I evoke Comstock because, as I was shamefully trying to light up a cigarette (a habit that, regrettably, comes with drink), I was recently recognized on the streets by a neighbor. The neighbor introduced me to a friend of his and then proceeded to roundly mock me for producing a “highly literate play” called Something an Alligator written by a guy that’s “read too much.”

The neighbor, I should point out, had criticized me for daring to make the next play “more accessible.” I replied at the time, What’s wrong with this? I was a guy who dared to challenge an audience and learned from the results. Bombard the audience with too much and they will draw blood. Thus, behavior should be crystal-clear. Hence, my current research efforts to make the next play right.

So this neighbor, who collects books and moonlights as a sedentary book collector, hopes to draw my blood. But he makes me think of Comstock because, like Comstock, I’ve remained idealistic, but, unlike Comstock, I’ve learned from my results. And I’m determined to presevere just to spite the bastards.

How you like them apples?

#5 — parallel park

In San Francisco (at least), there is sympathy for the parallel parker. Even when the vehicle appears to have been owned for some time, San Franciscans will dutifully instruct a parallel parker who just doesn’t have the shit to get his/her vehicle thoroughly ensconced in one of our rare parking spaces. I just got back from talking with folks outside of a neighborhood dive. The empathy was commensurate with, perhaps, a child unable to find the proper sexual configurations within a Barbie Dream House. We were all there, encouraging the driver to make a hard left and a hard right, and get her remarkably sized vehicle into a spot that was, I’m sad to say, capacious enough for two vehicles.

But she did it. With our guidance. She was able to squeeze her SUV into her spot because we challenged her to apply extra drive. Perhaps there is a chapter in the book, The Wisdom of Crowds, which covers this. Needless to say, the aforementioned SUV was still far from the curb — but not as far as the small vehicle inhabiting the space in front of it.

This is what community is all about.

[In other news, Gwenda’s got a mean piece about clowns. Bless our loyal originator. But where the hell is Sarvas?]