Thursday, July 2, 2015

Wifey Material: Tina Fey

Okay, she deserves this status for much more than just this scene. Hell, her verse on Childish Gambino's mixtape ROYALTY alone earned her a Hall of Fame induction. But this is wonderful acting, if for no other reason than it reminded me of me and my sister...if our roles were reversed.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Man Up

Man, we've all been there. You're at the spot. You're peoples have just ordered ten rounds of shots in the past hour. And you've found yourself alone, confronted with that make-or-break moment...

From Jay Kash's Twitter page...

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wherever I May Reauxm (Part 2)

[Continued from Part 1]

A blaring alarm woke me.

…Well, “woke” is a bit of a misleading term. One eye opened. There’s no sure way of knowing the exact number, of course, but I’d estimate about 5% of my remaining brain cells were firing in that moment. They were merely there to record data, as well as to operate my essential organs and one eyelid. The rest—who do all of the deduction and reasoning, and who operate every other movable part of my body—were still slumbering. Or worse.

So a blaring alarm elicited the bare minimum response from me. The clock said “7:45.” “There’s no way in hell he’s getting up,” a brain cell muttered. One of T.C.’s arms swung from his bed, and a big Irish hand crashed into the clock. The sound stopped. The army of 5% lowered my eyelid. 15 minutes later the sound rang out again. My eyelids stayed shut, but this time I heard T.C. actually get out of bed. A muffled “No shit?” came from behind the closed lid.

He dressed and headed off to work-related doings. A few hours later, I also found my way from bed to shower. By about the time I’d gotten dressed and felt ready to head out into this enchanted land, T.C. came back. “I’m hurtin’,” was about all he got out before he’d crawled back into bed.

I started my exploration of this vast and diverse city…by crossing the street and walking into Walgreens. My first open container of the day was going to be a bottle of Gatorade.

I strolled up Dauphine to Poydras. I hooked a right and went as far as Loyola, before turning right again. At Canal I went right and closed the loop, then marched on towards the riverfront. There I found myself a Hurricane shack next to Poppy’s, where a middle-aged white woman stood bullshitting with the guy behind the counter. It was time to up my open container game.

Me: “Can I get a Hurricane?”
Bartender: “What size?”
Woman: “Gotta go with a large!”
Me: “Then I’ll have a large! I ain’t working today!”
Woman: “Exactly!”

Unlike the Hurricanes that Creole Shawty mixed up the night before, this one was delicious. I snapped a picture of the drink in my hand, sparkling in the sunlight, and texted it to T.C. as a status update.

To hold a plastic cup in New Orleans is to hold a key to the kingdom of heaven. I stopped at the riverwalk’s edge and gazed out on the Mississippi. The warm bayou air slung an arm over my shoulders, and tapped its cup against mine. The smile on my face felt like it was years in the making.

I would walk back out to Poydras, down Fulton Street and on through the CBD. I circled back to the outlet mall on the waterfront, got myself a burger, and waited for T.C., who had responded to my Hurricane picture 45 minutes later with, “That a boy. Just woke up.”

My compatriot arrived, got himself a burger and sat down at the next food court table. In the subdued tones of men tending to wounds between battles, we compared notes on the night before.

T.C.: “When did we go to the strip club?”
Me: “I didn’t go to a strip club.”
T.C.: “Huh. Well, I have an ATM receipt from Centerfolds…”

Me: “I feel like I tried to kiss a shot girl.”
T.C.: “Oh, you didn’t just ‘try’…”

We grabbed frozen Hurricanes from the Fat Tuesday counter, and headed back to the hotel. New Orleans bustles with activity at every turn and sinew. Even when you happen upon a seemingly empty backstreet or courtyard, a frenetic energy fills the air. It’s like being surrounded by ghosts. And each of them has a to-go cup.

At the hotel we showered up and got ready for the night ahead. These three days were a work event for T.C.; he still had to schmooze customers and network with his fellow salesmen. And conferences always have a big reception on the second night, where a lot of schmoozing and networking goes down. I am not a salesman—neither in T.C.’s industry, nor in any other industry. So you can understand my concerns, as we strolled through the Ritz Carlton’s lobby towards a ballroom with moneyed people walking in and out of it.

Me: “What if someone asks me a question about medical equipment?”
T.C.: “Just make up some bullshit.”

Umm… Sure.

Luckily, this nuanced, well-thought-out contingency plan never had to be set in motion, as we avoided getting involved in chitchat with anyone but ourselves. Hey, at least we were guaranteed good conversation.

When we first entered the room, a half-naked white woman stood near the entrance with a large boa constrictor draped over her shoulders. After a moment of wondering which one of them I wanted to pet more, I noticed the wooden masks and ambient lighting. They were playing off the Creole voodoo history of New Orleans—using a white woman as the priestess. *sigh* I took a swig of my Abita and shook my head, knowing I was probably the only one in the room who saw something wrong with this.

Mercifully we hit the exit after one beer a piece. The thick, humid air outside was a welcomed reminder of where I was, as I rolled up the sleeves of my white dress shirt. While we navigated the streets of the French Quarter, I told T.C. that I needed to go easier than I had the night before. No blacking out, no sexually harassing shot girls. Just take it easy. He didn’t dispute my assessment.

We aimed ourselves in the direction of the Hotel Monteleone.

The Monteleone’s Carousel Bar had been on my bucket list for years. It houses a real carousel, with a bar top and seats that slowly circle the bar in the center, approximately one rotation every 15 minutes. Every booze aficionado who has walked through NOLA in the past 20 years has found himself or herself seated at the revolving bar at some point in time. March 4, 2015 was my point in time. We got ourselves a couple of open seats, and I ordered up a Vieux Carre [I should have practiced more; in my excitement I pronounced it “Voo-Ka-Roh”]. It tasted like jazz on my lips.

When I reached the end of my glass (in about two rotations), I asked the bartender I was gently orbiting to make me a drink of his choosing, so long as it was made with bourbon. He hit me with a…well, I didn’t catch the name of the drink. It might’ve been a Kentucky Maid. All I know for sure is that it had bourbon and a hint of cucumber, and that it was magnificent. When they cremate my body, sprinkle some of the ashes at the Carousel Bar.

When we finally pried ourselves from the Merry-Go-Buy-A-Round, we addled across the street towards Mr. B’s, on a wing and a prayer that they had an opening. By the grace of god—the god of barbecued shrimp—there were two spots open at the bar. We moved into our new homes, tucking napkins into our collars and ordering up some libations. A MacAllan’s 12 for me, please.

T.C.: “I love that you're talking about slowing down tonight, and then you order a scotch.”

We got to know our new neighbors. T.C.’s was a cute brunette with a pixie cut—who he swore was giving him the “fuck me” eyes—and two younger guys. My half of the homestead bordered the property of a feisty little blonde woman in her early 50s named Roma, and two businessmen around her age who she was schooling on Louisiana. As I began peeling apart my shrimp, she turned and threw the decades of bayou-bred charm my way.

Roma was everything I want my future wife to be when I’m she’s that old [let’s face it, I’m marrying someone younger than me never marrying]: funny, engaging, and loved LSU football like I loved the MacAllan in my hand. And 20 years ago she would’ve had any guy in there fighting to get her back to his hotel room. Hell, a couple more glasses of MacAllan and I would’ve considered it that night.

After a dinner where I miraculously came away without any major barbecue stains on my all-white shirt, we set out to find the places we’d missed along Bourbon St. the night before. We stopped in BeerFest for some good beer. We stopped in Bourbon Bandstand, and hung out on its balcony; I can now say I’ve seen boobs flashed on Bourbon Street (I was crossing off bucket list items left and right). And then we stopped in a place whose name I remember, but will never utter on this page, because I’m not into giving free publicity to douchebags.

We had been at the well-under-capacity bar long enough to order ourselves a couple of beers. It wasn’t much longer before a guy in glasses walked over to us and asked us to step to the side. We complied, and after complying I casually asked why he had wanted us to move. “Because I’m the owner, and I’m telling you to,” was the response I got. Uhh…okay.

Me: “I was just asking.”
Douche: “You’re out of here!”

He then called over the bouncers to remove us. T.C. asked one of them what we’d done. The muscled henchman shrugged his shoulders in the manner of a good person who has to rely on a waste of human life for a paycheck. By all accounts, we were in the right. But the walking inadequacy complex owned the place, and wielded that power with impunity.

I’ve been kicked out of many a bar in my lifetime, in cities all across this fine nation. And even when I’ve been innocent, I’ve been able to point to some action by either me or one of my friends as the turning point. Never once, before that night, had I been booted for absolutely no reason whatsoever. I didn’t act unruly. I wasn’t debilitatingly drunk. I didn’t even mouth off to the toilet stain. But apparently he doesn’t like making money by serving alcohol to people who ask him benign questions. Not the best business strategy, but hey…*shrug* Douchebags gonna douchebag. Those bouncers better find new paychecks, fast.

The beauty of being ostracized from a bar on Bourbon, though, is you know you have another 100 shots at it before you’re going to go thirsty. We walked a couple of doors down, and I moved myself towards brownout.

…Did I mention I was going to slow down?

The next thing I remember clearly, we were standing at a hot dog cart. And I was taking a bite out of my hot dog. And mustard from my hot dog was splattering all over my white dress shirt.

Bourbon Street’d.

T.C. found this situation hilarious. It’s not often we disagree. He wandered off towards another bar, but I ran back to the hotel room for a wardrobe change.

When I returned in a new shirt, I found that my friend had made new friends. One was shorter, with shoulder-length hair and a face that reminded me of cigarettes. She wore a tank top and jean shorts. The other was taller and prettier, with long hair and eyes that reminded me of daddy issues. She wore a shirt tied into a knot in the front and an emotionally defensive glare. T.C., meanwhile, wore a sloppy, oblivious grin.

After a couple of bars, I was already tired of the off-duty strippers that T.C. didn’t even realize were off-duty strippers. I’m not sure if he even realized they were there—he probably still doesn’t. To be honest, I’m not entirely certain they weren’t just a figment of my drunken imagination. Or that they weren’t just NOLA ghosts.

*thinking* They might’ve been ghosts…

I abandoned the scene, and sought out Erin Rose on Conti Street. My stepbrother (Step Bro) is a NOLA vet, and had recommended it to me. The man was right. Erin Rose is a drinker’s bar, with all of the energy and none of the schlock of Bourbon Street.

But I was a man without a country, and too drunk to create new friends from strangers. I stumbled off toward the hotel. When I hit Bourbon, I ran into a solo T.C.; I guess he finally realized those two chicks at the bar were actually with him. We chuckled at this magical world called New Orleans, and found our way back to the sanity of our hotel beds.

[To be continued...]

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Bromance Material

Chris Pratt is pretty awesome. Especially since, despite the TV and movie success, the good looks, the money, and the beautiful actress-wife, he never seems to take life too seriously. And now we also know that he loves Fireball. Sounds like he'd fit right in with my crew of misfits.

Hey Chris, does Anna have any single friends you could introduce me to?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Fire in the Hole, I'm not seething with jealousy because someone else thought of this, even though I have a friend named Swag who is the world's biggest Fireball connoisseur. Nope. *pounds forehead on desk* Nope not jealous! *throws keyboard*

I also don't know how it took me seven months to finally see this video. *sigh*

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Wifey Material: Alli Alberts

Call me old fashioned, but I just get woozy around a blonde bombshell who can read over the top on a man under Cover-2, and then chug a beer between plays.

From Playboy:
Chicago Bliss’ free-safety Alli Albert grabbed a beer from a fan mid-game and chugged the entire thing right in the middle of the field because she doesn’t give AF!

Now there's a gal you can snuggle up on the couch with and watch Sportscenter.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Wherever I May Reauxm (Part 1)

It took roughly 54 hours before I sipped alcohol again. Keep in mind, I wasn’t hungover that entire time. Sure, I dueled with the common withdrawal symptom of good ol’ incontinence early Friday evening, but I had quickly shaken the beast. And I wasn’t really concerned for my long-term health. (Well, no more than usual. I mean, come on…) Certainly, I had not been lacking options. Swag invited me to a bar crawl in the South Side (St. Practice Day) on Saturday, and I always keep a modest-but-well-stocked liquor cabinet at home.

So what was it? What made me stay home and dry through an entire weekend, drinking nothing but Gatorade, ginger ale, or juice when I felt an urge to wet my whistle?

Alcohol felt boring.

This is what they don’t tell you about going to New Orleans.


Let’s rewind to a Thursday morning in mid-February. As I hurried through my office building’s garage, running late for work yet again, my phone buzzed. It was T.C.

I’ve dreamed about visiting New Orleans for most of my adult life. Its vibrant culture, historic streets, iconic bars, and world famous food have called to me through TV screens and magazine pages. The city is booze, culture, parties, food, and music—basically, everything I love—rolled into one chill, unassuming package. NOLA has long been the girl-next-door pinup model in posters hanging on the walls of my mind.

My flight landed late in the afternoon on March 3rd, and like a good 35-year-old son I called my mom from the cab to let her know I’d arrived safely. “And now you’re going to go drink,” she said in a slightly disappointed tone.

“I mean, first I’m going to get cleaned up, but…”

When I got to the room, T.C. was at a work function. I hopped in the shower and washed public air travel off me [no trip has ever fortified my desire to become private-plane-rich more], and was dressed by the time my homie walked through the door carrying two beers.

Our immediate concern was dinner. One of our friends had suggested Mr. B’s Bistro, and its outstanding barbecued shrimp. Expecting it to be a hurricane shack—or a Hurricane shack—we strolled over for a bite. We were instead greeted by a classy five-star restaurant that was filled to the fire code with guests. The bar seating was also full, and the earliest dinner reservation we could get was for 8:30 pm the next night.

“So that’s a ‘no’ on the barbecued shrimp…” Plan B was to find something on Bourbon St. Not bad, as far as Plan B’s go.

In 2015, it’s not only cliché to say there’s a magical feel to a night in New Orleans, it’s cliché to say that it’s cliché to say there’s a magical feel to a night in New Orleans. And it’s easy to be reductive, and assume the “magic” people feel—that I felt, as I strolled towards the shiny street sign that read “Bourbon”—comes from the more lascivious features of Bourbon Street. Yes, getting drunk and seeing boobs both make me happy (…I think this is well documented). But they don’t cause the magic; they’re an effect of it. As you pass the policemen and sawhorses that turn it from street to playground, your mind dances. The air is light. Every face has a smile. Music is playing. There’s laughter. There’s energy. There’s the moment. It’s everything.

I pulled myself back into consciousness, as we had a dining decision to make. A very scientific and well thought out decision, it involved us strolling past Pier 424 Seafood Market and saying to each other, “This sound good to you?”

We settled in and ordered ourselves some eats—including fried alligator—and some drinks. T.C. called for an IPA, while I chose a house concoction that came in a sling glass and tasted like candy. A poor choice, sure, but at least it had Jim Beam in it. Needing my machismo reaffirmed, I was already plotting out a new drink order when T.C. asked the bartender to bring him something “New Orleans” that had whiskey in it. Barkeep, make that two. We soon had two Sazeracs sitting in front of us.

Laissez les bons temps rouler.

As I finished my shrimp po-boy, T.C. threw his corporate card on the bar and simultaneously ordered a rum & Coke for the road. The man’s a born leader. I fell in line, adding a Makers & Coke (to go) to the final tally, and we were soon back in the warm night air of the French Quarter with cold plastic cups in our hands.

We happened upon Spirits on Bourbon. T.C., a Bar Rescue fan, recognized it immediately. In we went. I haven’t watched much of the show, but I’d assumed the successful business strategy that Jon Taffer imparted to each bar owner was something more shrewd and insightful than “Just talk about how you were on this show once.” TV screens around the room play a 30-second promo clip of the episode on an endless loop. Bar Rescue-themed t-shirts hang behind the bar for sale, along with mugs and other trinkets. Signs saying “As Seen on TV” adorn the taps. It reminds you of that guy who constantly talks about that one touchdown he scored in high school.

The good news: That annoying self-promotion is only born from insecurity, and isn’t a Band-Aid on a bullet wound. Spirits is actually a really good bar, with cool staff and a nice vibe. They just need to learn how to be comfortable in their own skin (that is to say, as a bar they need to learn; the beautiful blonde bartender with the low-cut top straining to hold back her blessings is quite—and well-deservingly—comfortable in her own skin). Act like you belong, and people will think you belong. And Spirits belongs.

After a couple of draughts and the piano player tickling “Home Sweet Home” out of the ivories at T.C.’s request, we strolled out in search of the next bar. Maison Bourbon caught our attention, with a big raucous brass band hammering away inside. What better place for a couple of Miller Lites? Unfortunately, the band was going on break right as we arrived. So after one beer, we were off into the night once more.

The next establishment—or, rather, the next I remember visiting—was Tropical Isle.

Now, if you don’t know much about New Orleans, you’ve probably never heard of this fine NOLA institution. Hell, I hadn’t, and I was infatuated with the town. But, it’s quite likely that you’ve heard of another NOLA institution, that being the beloved Hand Grenade. Well Tropical Isle is the home of the Hand Grenade. “And if anyone tries to tell you differently,” the bartender said, “Tell us. We’ll sue ‘em.”

*sips the delicious nectar*

You got it. Fuck ‘em.

I’m fairly certain the Hand Grenade (and the draught) that I drank at Tropical Isle were my kill shot. Not to get ahead of myself, but the night gets a lot dimmer after that stop. But while we were safely within their walls, the world was bright and colorful.

That included the band on the stage that was rocking the house down. They were even better when you consider that the lead singer was an overweight, middle-aged white woman. Which led to this gem from T.C.: “Is that lead singer from Monessen?” [Okay, you probably have to be from Pittsburgh to get it. If you’re not, just picture a hillside white trash community. Or, you know, just move on. But damn it if it wasn’t funny as hell in the moment.]

The next stop was…uh…well…I have no clue. It was dark. The bartender at the back bar was a very cute, light-skinned (possibly Creole?) girl, who served us beers and said a bunch of words that the in-house band, my overwhelmed consciousness, and time conspired to keep me from remembering.

Wanting to switch up from beer, we asked her to make us another Nawlins tradition: Hurricanes. …Not a wise decision. We quickly realized that Creole Shawty wasn’t manning the Tuesday night shift because of her mixology excellence. Her Hurricane was three parts rum, two parts juice, and five parts lighter fluid. We winced as we tried to work our way through them, before T.C. made an executive decision to toss them when she wasn’t looking. Back out into the night we went.

By now, I was on my feet, but I was off my ass. The five hours I’d spent on Bourbon Street had cornered my consciousness in the prison shower, and were going to town. Innocence had surely been lost. I remember T.C. and I being in another dark, sparsely-populated bar, talking to two hot shot girls. I remember the one trying to sell shots to me, and I remember buying on the condition that I get a kiss along with it. That’s right: I had gone full Namath.

Around 1:30, I stumbled down Bourbon and back to the hotel, realizing as I got off the elevator—on what I hoped was the correct floor—that I’d left T.C. behind. I texted my apologies, found the room, and fell on my bed.

Bourbon Street’d.

[To be continued...]