Saturday, December 31, 2011

Streets is Listing

'Tis the season for yearend lists. I don’t normally do these. But during a moment of day-to-day tedium last week, it occurred to me that there is a ton of stories that accumulate over the course of a year. And while this year, compared to previous years, I’ve been slightly better at getting those stories told via this page (100+ posts in 2011!), the sheer volume of drunken shenanigans practically begs for reflection in the waning days of December.

But the prioritization involved in a “Yearend/Top 25/etc.” list is an especially foolhardy pursuit when you’re dealing with experiences. It’s easy to separate the bad from the good, but how do you deem Good Experience A empirically better than Good Experience B? You may end up with a few really high highs and a few really low lows, but the overwhelming majority of items are going to populate a middle realm where no one event is substantially better or worse than the next. And let’s not forget just how arrogant it is to assign rank to items in a published write. I am one person, and this post will be read by millions hundreds tens of fans; although I may list one event as being better than another, what makes me think that each of those ten readers will agree with the ordering?

This list, therefore, is as random as the life it is fueled by—the items are, however, in chronological order. But no numerical value has been assigned to these moments, so that they may stand as equally brilliant moments of boozy fun I’ve had in 2011. Some of them have already appeared in On the Rocks posts this year, and therefore I didn’t go into too much detail about them here (for the most part). If you want to read more about those specific tales, a link to the corresponding post is provided. For those happenings that are being published for the first time, though, I’ve given a few choice comments.

Here’s to 2012 being a great one.

Top 15 Drunken Moments of 2011

  • The Buffalo Trip. Hurley and I drove up to Buffalo, NY—the homeland of GTB [obviously, he’s no longer a “groom to be”, as his wedding took place 2½ years ago; but I’m too lazy to create a new alias] and his crew of boozing all-stars—to join T.C., who was already in town for a business trip, on the second Friday of February. We pregamed at GTB’s house with a few card games, and then headed off to run the town. We bounced from bar to bar to bar, but the only thing I remember clearly is falling in the snow in GTB’s front yard when we got home. The next morning the Pittsburgh boys, all of us enduring massive hangovers, climbed back into our vehicles and crawled back home.
  • The Pirates’ Home Opener. How do you make a baseball game tolerable to watch? Spend all day getting really, really drunk (and, also, don’t watch much of the game itself). Although we were without our patron saint of home openers, Chief, we boozed at a level that would have made him proud. Beard passed around a handle of Jim Beam until it was completely gone (tradition is tradition); I made out with a shy buxom lass named Kim in the Hall of Fame Club, where we had just met minutes earlier; Baby Joey got kicked out of the same HOF Club for pissing in a bathroom sink; and Dupa molested a female coworker on the McFaddens dance floor. It’s a grand ol’ game.
  • Four Loko Night. One Saturday in April, Dupa and I decided to go Loko with the case that TJ had bought me for my birthday. As it happened, our buddy Weiner (yes, that’s his real name) was in town with his girlfriend, and they joined the fun. Before long, my apartment was filled with more than ten people, most of us holding 24 oz cans of happiness. Particularly fun to watch was TD, who was consuming her first ever Loko (we only let her have a half a can, being that she was a virgin—and because the can is the same size as her). We later spilled out into the night and hit up Shady Grove. I even performed a lap dance for one of our friends' girlfriends (hey, it was her birthday, and I owed her—she gave me one on my birthday).
  • Brewski Fest. Beer. Lots of beer. Add in a surprise attendance by BlahBlahBlah, and Tony deciding to leave at 5 am, only to head out the door to the deck and stand there in confusion, and you have something special. And Dupa and I had an idea for a new contest at the annual event: This year, many breweries had stacks of stickers at their booths as part of the swag offered to the Brewskiers. Dupa and I, then, began collecting stickers, applying them all over our bodies. We looked like drunken stockcars. Dupa eventually won by slapping a Full Pint Brewing sticker on his forehead. Now that’s commitment.
  • The Jim Jefferies Show. When Jefferies announced that he would be coming to Pittsburgh for a weekend of performances in May, my crew quickly made plans to be there. The Aussie comic is one of our favorites, and each of us can recite “I Swear to God” by heart. Hurley and I got boozed up during dinner at Rock Bottom, and then met up with Dupa, Shannon, Stef, and Entertainer at the Improv, where we proceeded to get even boozier during the raucous show. Afterwards we all headed back to Rock Bottom for more drinking, and were eventually joined by others—including Jim Jefferies himself. Best line of the night: Jefferies telling Enzie he wanted to fuck her, kill her, and toss her body in the river.
  • Redbeard’s Happy Hour Night (post). I've already spoken on how great the random Friday night in June was. Proof that, in life, it’s often the unplanned moments that turn out the best.
  • Furry Safari (post). Friends, fun, and fur. Plus lots and lots of booze. And an uninvited guest. And then lots and lots more booze.
  • Armo’s Pool Party (post). Easily the best party of the summer. An entire day and night spent in perfect July weather with beer, lemonade vodka (to TJ’s detriment), bikinis, and craziness.
  • Xmas in July (post). Hallelujah.
  • The Admiral’s 75th (post). Say what you will about my family, but we know how to throw one hell of a party. Big Sis tearing down the house at the afterparty, Step Bro hitting on everything in a skirt without a care, the Sunday barbecue carrying on into the wee hours of the night, and a Mason jar of moonshine making the rounds. Yessir.
  • Esq’s Bachelor Party. In September we gathered for our homie’s last hurrah. Beer pong, scotch, and hookup horror stories at Breitling’s estate, a bus ride to Station Square, and copious amounts of boozing. When walking into Buckhead, I managed to smack my head off a low hung light, causing me to crumple to the ground, and making several cute girls nearby shriek, “Oh my god, are you alright?!”
  • Dupa’s Dirty Thirty in Vegas (post). Yup. [And yes, the third installment is going to be published…eventually.]
  • Halloween. Enzie, Chappy, his fiancĂ©e, and I helped TJ and Glitter take their son (as well as his friend, who was escorted by his mom—Glitter’s friend Jenn) around Chappy’s neighborhood. And along the way Chappy and I worked on the case of Sam Adams Oktoberfest that was in TJ’s backpack. As the night went on, we had to dig through the candy his son had been collecting to get to the bottles; in other words, we had to find our way through the treats to find the trick.
  • Whisky Fest. Thanks to TD and her sister Green Pants, I finally got to take part in this coveted November affair. Heinz Field’s exhibition hall was filled with every premium spirit one could ever hope to sample, from Johnnie Walker Blue Label (which was tasted-dry by attendees within two minutes of each bottle being opened) to Courvoisier Rose. Boy Toy and I spent three finely-attired hours working our way around to every table that we could, while growing more and more functionally dysfunctional.
  • The Ugly Sweater Party (post). The first time I’ve ever enjoyed helping friends move furniture.

Thoughts on Culture and Alcohol

Jim Jefferies is a god. Which is ironic, since he's atheist. Here's his classic take on drinking, from "I Swear to God".

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Social Drinking Excellence: Howard Brundage

The suspected third member of the burglary
Stories like this one make me smile, if only because it makes it that much more difficult for TJ to brag about how tough his hometown is.

Mr. Brundage, a 19 year old Chicago "man", was arrested Christmas Day on burglary charges. But this wasn't your typical B&E; this perp had an accomplice: Amber Rose.

From The Huffington Post:
According to a press release sent to The Huffington Post from the Riverside, Ill. Police Department, Howard Brundage allegedly broke into a woman's Riverside home and stole a bicycle. He then allegedly broke into another woman's home where he fell asleep on the couch. Police responded to the residence, where they cuffed Brundage.

"The victim in the second burglary woke up Christmas morning to a strange man sleeping on her couch," Riverside Police Chief Tom Weitzel said in the release. "The homeowner’s quick call to 911 made this arrest possible."

According to the release, Brundage told police he didn't know why he was in the woman's apartment and that the last thing he remembers was drinking marshmallow flavored vodka.
What the what? Marshmallow vodka? That's what did you in? Okaaaayyyy...

  • Didn't even try to hide the fact that it was marshmallow vodka, Howie? No moment's hesitation? No "What were you drinking?" "Mar—uhh, vodka. Good ol', regular vodka. Heh..."
  • If Brundage is openly homosexual, then I suppose none of this is that big of a deal. If he's closeted, though, well...he's not anymore.
  • No, on second thought, I can't even picture gay men letting that one slide. Marshmallow vodka? Really?
  • As festive as this guy's Christmas is, can you imagine what he does at Easter? He probably mainlines melted peeps.
  • Yet another crime. I tell
    you, these NS-5's are
    getting out of  hand!
  • As for the crime itself, I'm curious: Was it his intention all along to break into the second house, and did he therefore only break into the first one for the bike because he needed a way to get to there?
  • Was he actually partying with Amber Rose? If so, can we get her arrested on a conspiracy charge? Anything to keep her untalented ass off our TV screens and magazine pages.
Howie, your Rummy is in the mail. It's filled with Jameson. Drink up, and be a man for a change.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Deck the Halls

I don’t know when the “Ugly Christmas Sweater” party became the mandatory holiday tradition that now permeates December’s existence within the borders of Christianity’s conquered empire.

*pauses* I’ve been reading some of Christopher Hitchens’ (R.I.P.) work today; if the first sentence feels too highbrow for this page, please bear with me. I’m sure it’ll wear off as this goes along.

But back to the sweater party. The idea was certainly novel when I first learned of it a few years ago. I was at Shadyside Saloon on a random Saturday night when a large group of sloshed people walked in wearing their grandmothers’ finest holiday threads. I asked one of the girls in the group what was going on, and the tipsy lass explained the party and its premise. By the following year, everyone I knew was either going to an ugly sweater party, or was posting pictures on Facebook of the one they had just been to. Maybe I just discovered the phenomenon late; but it seemed to go from being a random, one-of-a-kind occurrence to a holiday clichĂ© in less time than it takes Kim Kardashian to dive in front of a flashing camera.

But, despite this sudden growth in popularity, I had yet to attend an ugly sweater party. It remained just below “Foam Party” and just above “Garden Party” on this drinker’s specialty-party bucket list. That all changed two weeks ago; thanks to Dupa and Smashley, I can now cross it off the list. [Next up: “Key Party”…]

The challenge that immediately faces you once you’ve been invited to an ugly Christmas sweater party is, of course, finding an ugly Christmas sweater. My family loves me too much to have ever given me one, which meant I would have to buy one. But where do you go to find an ugly Christmas sweater? Personally, I always assumed they just came into being, like candy corn and old Chevy Cavaliers. No one buys these things; they just sort of…show up.

I was saved, as usual, by the internet. I happened to see the perfect holiday “sweater” [I use apostrophes because, as it was pointed out to me by several people, the item of clothing in question was more sweatshirt than sweater.] while reading a random newsletter. Across the chest was a festive winter display that included snowflakes, Christmas trees, and reindeer having sex. I hummed “Jingle Bells” as I placed my order.

Smashley’s townhouse was perfectly appointed for the party, with food, people, and booze everywhere you turned. I arrived roughly two hours after the party had begun, and found our hosts to be sailing blissfully down Shit Creek by that point. Smashley, in particular, was wobbly; her eyes were glossed over, and Dupa noted to me that she had exceeded her seven beer threshold. He was standing a little more firm than she was, but that’s like saying ice is slightly colder than snow on an August afternoon. As he stalked the party wearing a knitted Christmas vest and dangling Christmas elf earrings, everyone at the party knew that his time was limited.

With card games starting and the party buzzing along, Tony and I decided to make a run to the bar down the street for six packs. We grabbed Miller Lite pounders from the hot-but-really-young-looking bartender to fortify the party supply. Tony then added, “I’ve got to get something good for myself, I can’t drink that stuff,” and ordered a sixer of Sam Adams. This is the same guy who I once watched put Coke in a glass of good scotch. I feel like I don’t know him anymore.

The next couple of hours went by in somewhat predictable fashion: TJ took a picture of Dupa suggestively shoving a beer bottle into Smashley’s mouth, rounds of shots were passed out by TD, Smashley performed a standing lap dance on a too-embarrassed-to-dance-back Tony, TJ cut the green-sequined sleeves off of our friend Dave’s sweater, people took turns wearing said green-sequined sleeves, rounds of shots were passed out by Tony, Dupa pulled out his balls in front of unsuspecting party guests…you know, the standard fare. Then, just before 1 a.m., Smashley went upstairs and didn’t come back. After about ten minutes, Dupa went upstairs too, presumably to check on her. Another ten minutes passed without his return, and the twelve of us still hanging out suddenly felt abandoned. I walked upstairs and listened at the bedroom door; I heard utter silence. Nothing. It was still relatively early, but our hosts had both inexplicably turned in for the night, without so much as a “Goodnight” or “Fuck you, I’m out!”

When I rejoined my fellow orphaned partygoers, we began strategizing our next move. TD and TJ had recently rented a house only five minutes away, and they offered to continue the party over there. As everyone began gathering coats and other belongings, a thought was casually voiced by someone in the crowd: “I can’t believe they just passed out on us like that. We should do something to fuck with them.” This stopped several of us in our tracks, as we considered the possibilities. And that pause gave the opportunity for a suggestion to be made. “We should move around all of the furniture.”

Now, dear reader, it may seem that I’m purposely being vague about the authors of these two sentences. But I say with all honesty that I have no idea who was responsible for either. I was one of the more sober people at the party at that point, but I truly do not remember just who said what; what I do remember, however, was that each of us grinned from ear-to-ear once the idea was in our heads. And not a single person raised protest; Affliction, TJ, Tony, Dave, Dave’s wife Melissa, TD, her “friend” “Boy Toy”, Shannon, Entertainer, Prince of Ligonier, Mrs. Prince, and I just chuckled and got down to it.

Our original thought was to go all out—TV in the kitchen, dining room table on the back porch, etc. But logical heads prevailed, and we settled for only shifting around
the living room. The entertainment center was moved from the wall, it’s TV, cable box, and DVD player carefully disconnected from the outlets and cable line. In its place went the couch, which had occupied the opposite wall. The chaise lounge and accompanying ottoman were moved to the far corner, and the coffee table was placed in front of the couch. The room was essentially flipped. Giggling like schoolchildren, we gathered up the sixers that Tony and I had bought, and tiptoed off to our cars.

As we piled into TD and TJ’s living room and started cracking open beers, a common sentiment was repeatedly shared by each of us—ironically, the very people to blame for the sudden lack of trust. “I am NEVER leaving any of you assholes alone at my place.”

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Welcome to the Party

Diddy and his people do Vegas right in Ciroc's latest ad. Though I've got to say, watching this makes me want fame and money more than it makes me want to drink Ciroc.

This is the full length version of the commercial that's been popping up on your TV here and there over the past couple of weeks.

In the Mix

Still looking for a gift for that hard-to-buy-for boozehound? If he or she is a whisky drinker, then you need look no further:

From uncrate:
Unless you sip on single malts exclusively, odds are you've run into a blended whiskey somewhere along the way. Whisky Blender (£35 and up; roughly $55+) lets you create your own specialized blend from a selection of seven different whiskys, each available for adding in amounts as small as 10ml. Once you're done, you can give the blend its own name, which will be handwritten on the label that adorns the 70cl corked decanter bottle, and save the mixture for future refills should the mixture be to your liking. While the wisdom of ordering booze you've never tasted before is always questionable, there's no doubt that it'll be far more interesting than your average bottle of Old Crow.
While any new blend or brew that finds its way onto liqour store shelves (especially the top ones) is sure to interest a veteran booze enthusiast such as myself, this idea provides a wow factor that you just won't find with a mass-produced bottle. I love Crown Royal, but if you give me an opportunity to create my own signature blend? Well, that's a gift your beloved booze fan won't soon forget.

My boy Chappy with the assist.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What I Learned This Summer (2011)

[Note: I started writing this collection of tales in September, but was soon distracted by life’s various other comings and goings. These anecdotes—and the collection as a whole—were something I really wanted to get published, and as such I made sure to complete this write as soon as I found some free time. So even though it is now nearly Winter 2011, I am publishing this in full. Hell, I’m just happy I got it up before Summer 2012. Brace yourselves, this is a long one.]

Summer of 2011…I barely knew thee.

Time is cruel—this is well-known and well-documented. But, for my money, its most sinister trick is this: The older you get, the slower your internal clock moves. When I was a kid and my mother told me to wait 20 minutes, I endured what felt like two weeks before those 20 minutes expired. A day was a year. A year equaled a lifetime. But, now that I’m an adult, everything has turned around. A year goes by in a day, and a day is merely a blink of the eye.

Two years ago—though it feels like a week—I wrote a post about the Summer of 2009’s various episodes and shenanigans. It served two purposes for me: It helped me cope with the heartache I was feeling over The Ex, fresh as our breakup was; and it gave me a fairly simple and clean way of dumping all of the various untold drunken stories from the previous three months on you, the reader. A summer’s worth of alcohol-fueled absurdity wrapped up neatly into one narrative. Easy.

The Summer of 2011, thankfully, didn’t feature a tortuous love story. But once again it was full of small tales and anecdotes that have yet to be shared here at On the Rocks. While I saved my heart the anguish of a doomed romance, I wasn’t nearly as kind to my liver. Or to my pride. But life still happens; as such, there is one note in particular from this summer that plays more “Landslide” than “Where the Party At?” And so, in no particular order, I give you the various lessons on life and the pursuit of alcoholic perfection that I gathered through the fleeting days of my favorite season.

  • If you’re drinking a milkshake that isn’t 75% alcohol, you’re just not doing it right. One humid night in August, TJ introduced me to a crew of beautiful sluts: BRGR’s “spiked shakes”—most notably the Salty Caramel. The combination of the juvenile glee you feel when drinking a milkshake and the juvenile behavior you exhibit when three sheets to the wind is life-affirming. Stated. 
  • Don’t let the fact that it’s not your pool stop you from throwing a great pool party. One Friday in July, Armo and I talked about the weekend ahead. Neither of us had much of anything planned, though our buddy Tea Bags would be in town and hanging out at Armo’s house the next day. Owning nothing but my balls and my word, I suggested to Armo that he turn his Saturday of quiet relaxation into a full-fledged pool party. Surprisingly, no further convincing was needed. Each of us shot texts and phone calls around the Pittsburgh area, and the next day a bevy of guests rocked out in his backyard with food, drinks, sun and fun.
  • Lemonade-vodka is the debbil. This one is more of TJ’s lesson than my own. On that bright summer day at Armo’s, the vast majority of the party was drinking Landshark and various other beers; since he doesn’t drink beer, TJ brought a bottle of Sweet Carolina Lemonade Vodka. By about 8 pm, he was a lost soul. He fell asleep at the table on the deck. He slurred words as though his tongue was glued to his cheek. And, when Rackt tried to gather him up to go home, he took off running into the house, making ungodly noises from the bathroom as he emptied his stomach of any food he’d eaten since high school.
  • Stairs are bad for your back. More specifically, sliding down a flight of stairs is bad for your back. Full of beer and cheer, I managed to slip while heading down Armo’s basement stairs on a bathroom break at the same pool party. Each step hit me like a bag of bricks as I fell for what felt like an hour. Gooney goo-goo.
  • Know how to leave anything in 30 seconds when you feel the heat coming. TK decided to make a better life for himself by moving to Tampa, FL. So on the Friday of Fourth of July Weekend, some of his coworkers held a going-away happy hour for him at Sammy's on Liberty and 9th. After getting confirmation from TK that The Ex wouldn’t be there (ironically), I stopped by to share a few cold ones in celebration. Of the coworkers who were in attendance, one in particular stuck out of the crowd; she was middle-aged (whereas everyone else was no older than their early 30s), overweight, frumpy, and had that look of being slightly “off”. I could almost sense the story approaching. Sure enough, I was soon informed by TK and the others that she was “that” woman in their office, the strange bird who was always saying or doing something to make them mouth the letters “w”, “t”, and “f”. And, as if to help initiate me into this circle of work friends, she soon provided a glaring example of this insanity.
    She found a moment to pull TK aside for a one-on-one conversation, and minutes later we saw him abruptly turn and head out the door of the bar. We asked the crazy coworker what had happened, but she was as shocked as the rest of us to see him go. When he hadn’t returned 15 minutes later, she left for the night. TK finally reappeared a good half hour after that, at which point he explained why he had bolted. “She told me, ‘You don’t know how many internal orgasms I’ve had sitting next to you for the last few years.’”
  • Life is a highway, especially when you’re drunk at 3 a.m. Later that night, I found myself on Mt. Washington with Jay Swag and others. And I was obliterated. Like my father’s fond of saying, I “couldn’t find my ass with two hands and a flashlight.” Pak had been involved in the night; as I’ve explained on numerous occasions, his presence means shots. And, as I’ve also made abundantly clear in the past, hiking is one of my favorite drunken pastimes. Something inside of me decided I needed to get to my car. It was, however, parked in the lot of Esq’s apartment building downtown [parking during nights and weekends is free, and it’s near Sammy’s], which was two miles of steep hillside, bridges, and city streets away. I didn’t give this much serious consideration however, because…well, because I wasn’t giving anything serious consideration (see the word “obliterated” above).
    The first thing I remember clearly is finding my path obstructed by a concrete structure. I climbed over it, and proceeded on. I was then in a valley of concrete. It was everywhere. The hills that surrounded the valley, the valley floor…everything was concrete. “What a strange land. Though I feel like I’ve seen it before…”
    Yup, I was standing in the middle of Interstate 579. I’m infinitely grateful that no cars or semis were on that stretch of highway at that moment—although I’m sure it would’ve clued me in a little faster. As you might imagine, I wasted little time scurrying the rest of the way across the highway and up over the embankment.
  • The house party didn’t die with Kid ‘n Play’s careers. I had the pleasure of being introduced to a previously-unchartered group of TD’s friends, and these people understand how to party. I attended two of their house parties: the first featured beer pong rules diligently explained in chalk on the driveway—including one involving streaking; the second, a “Xmas in July” party, featured a pope hat made out of a Miller Lite case, and a nativity scene that would make a West Boro Baptist freak’s head explode.
    They held at least four or five parties over the course of the summer; the invitation for one even led to a “Wifey Material” post. These are some new friends that I definitely cherish.
  • Sometimes you’ve gotta make your own fun. I awoke on my living room couch the day after the Xmas in July party. TD had dropped me off the night before, and that’s pretty much all I remembered. Due to water damage that my landlord did such a wonderful job of fixing, paint on my bedroom ceiling had been peeling off in large swaths for the previous couple of months. But on this particular morning, when I walked into my bedroom, I found that the paint was no longer hanging from the ceiling; it had now been relocated to the floor. And my bed. And my dresser. And any other horizontal surface in the room. Paint chips littered the landscape of the room for as far as the eye could see.
    I fought through my cloudy recollection of the previous 12 hours, searching for an explanation. Finally, I managed to recall the memory I was looking for: In my drunken stupor, I had decided to play a new game called “Swat the Paint”. And when I play, I play to win.
  • Boobs are better than Visa cards. On the Sunday of Fourth of July Weekend, TJ, Dupa, and I attended a small barbecue at our friend’s house. “Enzie”—as she and her siblings have nicknamed her drunken alter ego—was preparing pitchers of mojitos all day, and they were disappearing just as rapidly as she was making them. As the night set in, though, a day of drinking outside in the heat was beginning to overwhelm her. She wanted to go swimming, but the fact that she doesn’t own a pool was a bit of a setback. When we mentioned that Armo has one, Enzie implored us to ask him if we could all come over to swim. I texted him to see if he was home; he was, but he said that he had been drinking all day, and was going to call it an early night.
    I relayed this information to the group, but Enzie struck upon an idea. Squeezing together her ample chest in her tank top, she told me to snap a picture of her cleavage and send it to him. A few minutes after I’d hit “send”, Armo responded with, “Well, I guess I can stay up for a little while longer. How long ‘til you guys get here?”
  • If you don’t have boobs, pay with vodka. TD wanted to pregame at my place and then hang out in Shadyside one Friday in August, but I was reluctant to host people since my apartment was in serious need of a thorough cleaning. She then offered to act as my maid that afternoon, and to help prepare my place for guests. All she asked for in return was to drink. The price was right; I picked up two bottles of Clique on my way home from work, and TD soon arrived with a bag of Wendy’s with which to fortify her bloodstream. My little blonde friend then dusted and vacuumed in a black and white dress until my place was sparkling clean, all while tossing back drinks.
  • Too much success can go to your head…especially when you’re being paid in vodka. TD and I were both annihilated later that night. As she and I sat with Pakistanimal and others at Le Mardi Gras, I found myself desiring a little stroll. I ducked out—under the pretense of taking a phone call—and was soon back at my apartment, in my bathroom with the lights turned off, hurling into my sink. Not long after that, the little blonde Tasmanian devil came looking for me with Pak in tow. They were, of course, locked out of the building; and, since my phone was in the other room, I wasn’t answering it. TD’s keys were on my dining room table though, which launched her into a furious rage. She circled outside of my basement apartment shouting and cursing at me, she kicked at the metal bars on my windows, and she screamed at my neighbors when they stuck their heads out of their windows—all while using hurtful language that’s quite unbecoming of a lady.
    When I was finally able to clean myself up a little and get to my phone, I texted Pak to let him know I’d open the door if they were still there. Fuming, TD stormed into my apartment, pushed past me, grabbed her keys, and then marched back out the door. She later told me that, as she drove home, she decided she wanted pizza. She stopped at a place in Oakland—by herself—and bought a whole pie. Halfway between there and home she pulled over to the side of the road to talk on the phone with her friend and have a slice. She woke up the next morning with a headache, a half of a pizza sitting in a box on her coffee table, and a laundry list of questions.
  • You don’t have to be the VIP to party in VIP. One Saturday found me at Hofbrauhaus with BlahBlahBlah to celebrate his birthday. We drank litre stein after litre stein of beer with his cousins Joel and Jay, retelling for their enjoyment (and ours) some of our more treasured drunken tales (like the Virginia crackhouse story)—though only while safely out of earshot of Mrs. BBB. One of his cousins, Jay’s little brother, couldn’t make it out that night because he had to work at Diesel. He told BBB to bring the party down to the South Side nightclub; he would make sure the birthday boy and all of his guests had a table and complimentary bottle service. But BBB is a parent of two young kids, and is—by definition—lame. So around 11 p.m. he and his wife called it a night, heading straight home from Hofbrauhaus. Joel, Jay and I, however, are not lame; we also are not too bashful to make use of the generous VIP gift that had been offered to BBB. We found our way to Diesel, were escorted to our table by the club’s hottest young hostess, and partied as though it was our birthday.
  • Tailgating ain’t just for sports and concerts. When Rackt made plans to fly up from Tampa for a visit, TJ came up with a masterful plan. She would be going from work to the airport to Pittsburgh on Friday, July 8th, which also happens to be her birthday. Due to the fact that she wouldn’t be landing until about 11 p.m. and the amount of time that it takes to pick up baggage and drive into town, she wouldn’t be left with any real time to get to the bar for a drink on her special day. For Rackt, who is as big of a boozehound as the rest of us, this was depressing news.
    TJ, dedicated boyfriend that he is, then decided to bring the drink—and party—to her. He gathered Chappy, Dupa, TD, Belle, and I, filled up a cooler with beer, and set up shop in the Pittsburgh International Airport’s short-term parking lot. While the rest of us drank beers in the parking lot, he went inside to greet the birthday girl, and signaled us via text to hide when they were heading out. When we jumped out from behind our parked cars yelling “Surprise!”, Rackt dropped her suitcase and ran in terror, TJ fell over laughing, and families loading cars nearby looked on in complete confusion.
  • If you spent money on a ticket, you probably shouldn’t blackout during the movie. Tony, Dupa, Chappy, and I caught the midnight release of “The Hangover 2” on the Thursday night before Memorial Day Weekend. We had dinner—though it was mostly an excuse to enjoy a few drinks—at Bar Louie Waterfront before heading over to the theater. As charged as we were, a table of ladies near us on the patio was above and beyond that. Well, at least one gal in particular was. She was unequivocally shitfaced, in fact. She frequently burst out in song, wailing horribly off key as her friends tried to muzzle her. She couldn’t stay seated, often getting up and stumbling around their table. And sure enough, as we walked into the Loews, we saw the four girls heading towards a theater showing Hangover 2. I wish I’d looked for her when the lights came up after the movie; I would’ve been shocked if she was still awake by then.
  • There’s a reason they don’t call it “Bangkunt”. *shivers*
  • Gravity is not your friend. The next day TJ and some fellow young professionals with whom he works met for happy hour at Kelly’s in Shadyside. He sent out the bat signal, and was soon joined by Pakistanimal and yours truly on the patio with mojitos. Kelly’s is an older bar, and their deck furniture is what you might call “vintage”; it seems that people of the early 1940s weren’t quite of Pak’s proportions. As we all sat around talking, he leaned back with a cigarette. He leaned…WAY back. Hearing a crash, we looked over to see the back of his chair resting on the ground, parallel to the base of the chair. And still seated in it—as though the world had shifted and not his seat—was Pak, who casually lit his cigarette and stared up at the sky.
  • Sometimes you really do need an excuse to go to a strip club. And Tony and I stumbled onto a pretty good one on a Friday night in August. As we rode in a cab to Villa to get down for Dr. Kelly’s birthday, an unfamiliar song came over the radio. A female emcee began spitting what, to be honest, sounded like very amateur rhymes. The cabbie said that the song was by a local group, and that the emcee’s “day job” was dancing at Cricket, a strip club in Oakland. As you might imagine, this tidbit caught our attention. Later in the night Tony and I decided to leave Villa early, and caught a cab to Cricket in search of a naked lyricist. We had no luck, however; she wasn’t working that night (if she even works there at all). We reluctantly accepted the consolation prize: watching the naked girls who were working while we drank a few beers. It’s a tough life.
  • There’s “sloppy-drunk”, and then there’s “Enzie-drunk”. Enzie’s birthday party was a one-woman clusterfuck. I met up with her and her crew around 10 pm on a Saturday in July, as they walked from Bar Louie Station Square to Barroom. She was already slurring her words, which were forming sentences that rapidly sped off on random tangents. Once inside Barroom, she kicked it up a notch. She pounded Captain & Cokes like a poisoning victim being given cups of the antidote; she was barefoot before midnight, her red pumps relegated to a bar stool; and she darted back and forth between the dance floor and the bar, under the watchful eye of her friend, Kara. Entertainer, Russ, and I drank and watched with wonder as she careened towards a bad end.
    Then, while next door at Saddle Ridge (…fight me), that end finally came. Enzie wanted to dance again, and again dragged Kara out to the dance floor. I turned my attention towards the bar, trying to find Russ, who had walked over there a few minutes prior. Then I heard a thud. I spun around to find Enzie sitting on the floor in a heap near my feet. She had come running over to where I was—still barefoot—and slipped in the process, going down hard [the following week a doctor would diagnose her with a separated shoulder, caused by bracing herself as she fell]. In running from the dance floor, she had somehow managed to elude Kara’s observation, and I now had to signal her to come over and assist our drunken Italian friend. I helped her get back up on her bare feet; Kara decided it was best to quit while Enzie wasn’t ahead, and to take her back to her house in Mt. Washington for the night. I agreed, saying goodbye to them and finishing out the night at the bar with Russ and a group of bachelorettes.
    A half hour later, as I walked to my car, I got a call from Enzie’s phone. She wanted me to come pick her up from Kara’s, and to take her back to her own house. I agreed to help, and when I pulled up in front of Kara’s place, Enzie was lying on her back on the sidewalk, looking up at the stars.
  • A pwning is always in the last place you look for it. Early in June we all descended upon Hofbrauhaus, this time to celebrate Pak’s birthday. I arrived with TJ, but when we reached the front doors he was turned back for not having his ID. And while I’ve noted before that this is a fairly rookie mistake, TJ had actually physically lost his license a week earlier. He figured it wouldn’t affect his bar night, though, since he’s well past the years of being confused for 20. The Hofbrau bouncers were not, however, in a generous mood; they flatly denied his entrance, despite our appeals to their common sense. Flustered and angry, TJ caught a cab home, cursing out the German restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.
    A week or two later, I received a text from him saying that he’d found his license. When I asked where, he paused and sheepishly replied, “In a different part of my wallet.”
  • Sometimes life is like a beer commercial. One Friday in June, several of us decided to meet up at Redbeard’s for happy hour to start the night. I arrived shortly after TD and a few of her girlfriends, who were seated at a table on the patio, and was followed thereafter by a steady stream of familiar faces. Our party eventually featured nearly 20 people, including a bevy of crew members like Pak, TJ, Tony, Dupa, Smashley, Jay Swag, Mitch Canada, and TK. Surrounded by my peoples, and with both booze and heavy laughter flowing in the warm night air, the scene was as perfect of one as you can experience in a random and impromptu moment of your youth.
  • A drunk Dupa = a sadomasochistic Dupa. Unfortunately, our buddy was a little too full of liquid mirth to fully appreciate the abstract beauty of that night. In the short hour or so that he was hanging with us, he managed to: (1.) Smash his toe, leading to a steady river of blood from a broken toenail, which then stained both his sandals and the patio concrete; and (2.) pose for pictures in which he first used his belt to choke himself, and then used it to choke his boy “Tennessee”.
  • Time not only leaves quickly, but it takes people with it. Despite the cheery picture that my various tales about this past July may have painted, it was a tough month for me. I lost my Aunt Barbara, who had been my godmother and a pillar of my mom’s family; Mrs. T.C. lost her cousin Michael, who I had also known from our time at W&J together; and Tony lost one of his closest friends, Jeff G., who I had been friends with for the last ten years.

    Aunt Barbara and I were close at times, and at other times butted heads, but the love and respect between us never diminished. Her death was difficult, but I was at least comforted by knowing that she had enjoyed the luxury of living a long and eventful 80 years of life. The same could not be said for Mike (29) and Jeff (37), though, and that made their deaths that much more difficult. Both were outgoing guys who had accumulated many more friends than enemies in this world, and the families of each are both still feeling the sting. Jeff left behind a daughter who will never know firsthand just how much fun her old man was to be around. May they all rest in peace, and have a cold drink waiting for me when it’s my turn to join them. R.I.P.
Appreciate the people around you who appreciate you back. Drink responsibly—as in, get sloppy and take a cab. And always tip your bartenders and waitresses. If I’m around come Summer 2012, I’m meeting it with shades and a caipirinha.


Taming the Wild

The latest ad from Dos Equis features some undeniable wisdom from the world's most interesting man.

Kind of gives new meaning to "Stay thirsty", right?

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Doctor is In

Here's to Monday. ...And Xmas shopping. ...And Xmas in general. ...And anything else you weighing on your shoulders. Salud.

TJ with the assist.

'Tis the Seasoning

Here's another one on the ol' Xmas List. Tequila shot glasses made of salt. Yup.

From Salt Therapy at Home's product page:
This beautiful and functional set will be the perfect conversation starter for your party or decorative accent for your home. The set of six tequila shot glasses and tray are an elegant work of art that will grace any sideboard or tabletop. Carved from naturally beautiful Himalayan pink crystal salt, the lovely striated pattern perfectly complements any decor. The naturally anti-bacterial surface requires minimal maintenance, and your long-lasting carved salt glasses will add elegance and fun to many a friendly shot or business deal! You'll be amazed how the rich taste of Himalayan crystal salt enhances the flavor of your favorite tequila like table salt never did!
This is a great idea, but one with a couple of drawbacks. First, these shot glasses have a limited use. If you're not drinking tequila, then I doubt you want salt interfering with the drinking experience. And, second, I would imagine they have an expiration point. They say long-lasting, but that's vague; and, certainly, they won't last as long as their glass and plastic counterparts.

But, in the end, if you're someone who takes pride in his or her personal bar, and who enjoys tequila, this is a must-own. Just don't leave it where your pet moose can get to it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wifey Material: Jenna Marbles

She's hot. She parties. She go-go dances. She can actually make you, on purpose. And did I mention she's hot?

Do you need anymore reasons why Jenna Mourey (a.k.a. Jenna Marbles) is of high-quality wifey material? Take it from an oldhead: If you're going to be wifed to a woman, you'd better be sure you can stand to talk to her for more than five minutes. Should she have a great body and pretty face? Well of course. But that stuff eventually fades. If you're under 21, you probably don't realize it, but Madonna used to be the hottest woman in the world. Let that one soak in for a second...Yup. And it happens to everyone. Now that Madonna's looks have left her, and she doesn't have an actual personality to fall back on, well...

Yeah, trust me, you want a girl like Jenna. Because, although she may not be as hot in a bikini as she is now, she'll still be cracking you up when she's 60. And she will probably still be partying and getting hammered like any senior has earned the right to do. She'll probably be the coolest grandmother on the block. Stated.

Drunk and Hot Girls

Yup...pretty much everything Kanye and Mos were talking about.

If you haven't heard of Jenna Marbles yet, then...well you're probably a guy. She's an internet personality/blogger whose popularity is skyrocketing, however, especially among the fairer sex (honestly, if one more female friend of mine retweets her or posts another of her videos on Facebook...). But, shock of all shock, despite being popular with girls, she's actually pretty funny (sorry ladies...just how it is). Here's one of her latest videos, a look in the mirror for all of the booze-loving gals (like Jenna) out in the world.

...Yeah, I'd party with Jenna. Chick's got a great personality. In fact...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The "Morning After" Tablet

This qualifies as an "On the Rocks" post, but definitely goes on my Xmas List; therefore, it's getting posted on both Crooked Straight pages.

The latest miracle drug to hit the market is Blowfish, and it's sure to pique the interests of my fellow fans of "the booze". From
The over-the-counter drug cocktail combines 1,000 milligrams of aspirin, 120 milligrams of caffeine and a stomach-soothing agent into two effervescent tablets taken the morning after a night of heavy drinking.

Once dissolved in water, the remedy claims to knock out multiple hangover symptoms in just 15 to 30 minutes.

“The magic of the effervescent tablet is that it hits your system much faster than getting a cup of coffee, taking an antacid and taking some aspirin separately,” she said.

...Blowfish runs $2.99 for a single dose, or $11.99 for a six-pack. It is currently available in Ricky’s NYC stores or online at, which offers free shipping and 24-hour courier service in Manhattan. The tablets will hit Duane Reade shelves in January.
The "she" in the quote above is the product's creator, Brenna Haysom. And it would appear Ms. Haysom is a gal out to steal my heart:
“So many people see hangovers as a shameful or embarrassing thing. I think of them as just a fact of life,” said Brenna
Hmmm, maybe this should've been a "wifey material" post...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mixology: A Cocktail Castor Could Drink for Days

Diddy announced a new drink recipe via Twitter that features his vodka line's newest blend, Ciroc Peach. And, never one to miss a marketing opportunity, the name is inspired by his latest viral Ciroc ad.

I haven't tried Ciroc Peach yet; but I find it hard to believe it's good enough to replace my favorite kind of peach. Though, with his smooth demeanor, wouldn't a remake of the "Face/Off" scene—with Diddy playing Castor Troy and Aziz Ansari playing Pollux—be Ciroc's best viral marketing ad yet?

Social Drinking Excellence: Michelle Watson

Well, well, well... What do we have here? The demure lass pictured to the right couldn't possibly have produced anything Rummy-worthy, could she?


From Jalopnik:
Witnesses tell police Watson was driving her Honda Civic in the middle of the road, into numerous curbs, and finally onto a sidewalk while trying to park. The first officer on the scene describes her as belligerent and says she used "profane language" in her refusal of a sobriety test.

After some tussling with the original officer, fellow Officer Wing arrived to help subdue the suspect. Here's where Watson does her best Rockette impression:
"Watson was wearing a purse which was draped over her shoulder. Ofc. Wing attempted to remove the purse. When doing so, Watson, using her right knee struck Ofc. Wing in the crotch. Watson was then taken to the ground and placed in handcuffs. Watson refused to get up and had to be carried to Ofc. Wing's patrol vehicle, #1317."
...Once in custody, Watson began to kick the interior of poor Officer Wing's patrol car so they had to further restrain her. When she finally arrived at the jail they registered a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit.
Then, as a cherry on top, Watson showed off true On the Rocks style when posing for her mug shot:

*sigh* Someone start the clock:
  • First, a little background: The picture at the top of the page was posted to her Facebook account the day after this incident. So, if nothing else, we have proof that Miss Watson cleans up relatively well.
  • ...She was, however, on her way to see "Breaking Dawn". I'm not certain, but that might be the worst display of judgment we've seen from her yet.
  • Three times the legal limit? You don't know how much effort it's taking me to not fall in love right now...
  • ...Though, what with her arrest-resistant ways, I'm thinking she and Jay Swag might be a match made in drunk tank heaven.
  • Someday women will learn to only use the crotch kick in times of extreme danger. It's the "presidential red button" of hand-to-hand combat. If a vagrant with a knife is trying to drag you into an alleyway? Give it your best Shane Lechler. If a cop is trying to get you into a squad car during a traffic stop? Maybe dial back your means of dissuasion, just a tad.
  • Did Officer Wing get workman's comp and short term disability? Do they give short term disability pay if the time span is only as brief as five minutes of being hunched over against the squad car, weezing and spitting? Although...
  • The casual description of the encounter almost makes it sound as if Watson's kick had little to no effect on the cop. If you look closely in the first picture, her right knee appears to be in the foreground, and there looks like what may be a bruise on it. That, of course, would be the same right knee that went in search of Wingnuts. Did she bruise herself...kneeing this officer in the junk?
    ...I'm making a mental note right now of NEVER fucking with this guy. Ever.
Michelle, your Rummy is on the way. It's wrapped in a "Team Ofc. Wing" Twilight shirt.

The homie TJ with the assist.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Smooth Bulls**t

Say what you want about Diddy, but one thing you can't deny: As an actor, he's one of the best comedic straight men in the game these days.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Viva Las Vegas: Ocean's Three

I jolted awake in my bed around 12:30 p.m., though I’ll never really know why. Maybe my subconscious had tricked me into thinking I was going to roll over and see Raw Deal. Thankfully, my bed was a party of one. I did a quick scan of the rest of the room. First I checked the rollaway bed; T.C. was slumbering purposefully. Then I looked over to the other twin bed. It was empty. No light or sound was coming from the bathroom. Dupa, it seemed, was unaccounted for. T.C. stirred and looked over at me, most likely performing the same status check of the room.

Me: “You see [Dupa] this morning?”
T.C.: “Nope. Not since O’Shea’s last night.”
Me: *chuckles* “Awesome…”

I found my phone on the night stand and checked my messages and calls. None were from our missing soldier. Likewise, T.C.’s phone was absent of clues. I decided to text him.

Me: “You ok, buddy?”
Dupa: “Freeeeedom!!!!!!!!!!”
Me: “Where are you?”
Dupa: “Freeeeedom!!!!!!”
Dupa: “Ummm yeah…”
Me: “Should I repeat the question?”
Dupa: “Viva”
Dupa: “LAS VEGAS!!!!!!!”

Satisfied to know he was still alive and had access to his phone (which meant he wasn’t in jail), T.C. and I set our sights on finding some lunch. We dressed and then dragged ourselves to the elevators, as I told T.C. about my difficulties in finding these elusive transportation devices the night before. We hit Earl of Sandwich, conveniently located just off the casino floor.

The two of us sat at our table tearing at sandwiches like starved dogs and recapping some of the previous night’s highlights. We were gradually coming back to life, but it was a slow process. And staring at a Sugar Factory in the mall with a Kim Kardashian ad prominently displayed was oddly therapeutic. T.C. asked if I’d gotten anything new from Dupa. I hadn’t, so I checked in on him again.

Me: “Eating at Earl of Sandwich. Care to join us?”
Dupa: “Viva!!!!!!”
Me: “Kim loves Sugar.”

T.C. and I returned to the room around 3. While I made a quick trip to the bathroom, I heard our room door open, followed by someone lurching through the doorway. The birthday boy had returned. He walked in with his phone clutched in his mouth. T.C. asked if he was still drunk; Dupa mustered a head nod. He had never left O’Shea’s, logging a healthy 14 straight hours at their blackjack tables. And he was a couple of hundred up. Within three minutes of returning to home base, our blathering Polish comrade was slumbering in his bed, naked and barely kept decent by his strewn bed covers. As for me, I felt it was time to make myself a Red Bull vodka. When I cracked open the Red Bull can it was like a starter’s pistol going off.

We snapped pictures of Dupa’s debauched state, sent a few of them to our friends back in Pittsburgh, and then headed out. Our plan was to walk around the town a little, maybe find ourselves some trouble. The sidewalk was clogged with Occupy Vegas protesters, though, and the weather was still only in the mid 60s. We turned around after a block or so, and headed back towards PH. Along the way, we were confronted by a female protester; her anti-banks message was wasted on T.C., though. When she explained that she was protesting because she had lost her house in the mortgage crisis, he countered with a smirk, “The bank didn’t put a gun to your head to make you sign a mortgage that you couldn’t afford.”

We found our way back to The Heart Bar. After positioning ourselves in front of two video blackjack machines again, we repeated our prior day’s agenda of pounding drinks. My Red Bull vodkas were strong—at least, I’m guessing they were, based on the fact that my memory of the rest of the afternoon has some serious holes in it. A receipt and a later text message indicate that T.C. and I ate at Earl of Sandwich again. (Right about that time, I got a text from Dupa: “Who’s Kim? I’m so fucking hungry”.) I do remember walking to PBR Rock Bar with T.C. I also remember drinks and shots. …Well, I at least remember a sense of doom after putting an empty shot glass back on the bar. I don’t remember the following text convo with Dupa (though I do remember him eventually joining us):

Dupa: “Yeah, just showered, gonna eat at Earl’s, where’s Rock Bar?”
Me: “Across the mall from Earl’s.”
Dupa: “Ok you’re in the mall not PH?”
Me: “Across the hall, homie.”
Dupa: “Ohh, ok, I died a little last night”
Me: “Ok”

The brownout took hold of me. The next thing I remember clearly is sitting on my bed in the room, probably two hours later, in different clothes than I’d been wearing earlier. Dupa and T.C. were also changed, and had drinks in their hands. It was dark outside our window, though I remembered there being daylight outside the mall doors when we were at Rock Bar. My primary concern, then, became whether or not I had showered. I certainly couldn’t remember showering. “You came upstairs before we did; when we came back, you were in a towel,” T.C. offered. “I hope that means you took a shower.” But I wasn’t convinced. As we walked out to the Strip and headed towards Ellis Island, I sniffed the skin on my arms a few times, trying to pick up the scent of Axe body wash.

Since he was unencumbered by the same weight of uncertainty that was resting on my shoulders, T.C. was free to take in his surroundings during the walk down Flamingo Road. He soaked in the camaraderie of a Vegas trip with his boys, and the moment was clearly overcoming him. As I took a break from once again trying to remember the feeling of shower water on my skin, I rejoined his and Dupa’s conversation to hear T.C. say, “You know… Not to gay it up, but tomorrow night we should all go to the rooftop bar at the Rio to watch the sunset.”

A good laugh at your buddy’s expense can make you forget all about your own issues.

To be fair, T.C. drank at the Rio while watching the sunset with his wife, sister, and brother-in-law during his previous visit to Las Vegas. Apparently, pregaming with Black Label had clouded his understanding of the inherent differences between proposing such an idea to his loved ones and proposing it to his boys.

We supped at Ellis, drinking 22 oz draughts of the Hefe Weis and Amber beers that they brew onsite. With a solid base of beer and food laid down, we began the night in earnest. We caught a cab to the Bellagio; after that one mile drive, the cab’s meter read about $4. T.C. handed the driver a 5 dollar bill, to which she contested, “No, its $11.” We laughed mockingly as we got out of the cab and walked through the Bellagio doors, her yelling and cursing slowly being drowned out by the sounds of people and slot machines.

During that previous trip to Vegas, T.C. had also enjoyed the famous Bellagio fountain show from the terrace of a small, modest lounge at the luxurious casino. As he led us through the maze of table games, he suggested we do the same this time. There was only one problem: that quiet, unpretentious lounge was now a trendy, velvet-roped nightclub. T.C. was now 0-for-2. Yet another fond memory of his prior Vegas visit had been drinking something called a “Cable Car”. We walked to a bar just off the main gaming floor, and T.C. ordered three of these concoctions, determined to save some face. That determination turned to surrender when the bartender brought back $40 worth of drinks that looked more like appletinis than the drinks from T.C.’s memories. We walked off sipping from our glasses, Dupa and I blowing up our homie yet again.

Me: “I feel just like ‘Carrie’ in ‘Sex and the City’!”
Dupa: “I’m more of a ‘Samantha’ than a ‘Carrie’.”

We toured the casino while drinking daintily from our glasses. We made jokes about Danny Ocean and Terry Benedict. We looked around in the Botanical Gardens, knowing full well that it was the most cultured thing we would be doing that week. And, while we were appreciating the ornate floral art, Dupa spotted a man with a huge face tattoo, becoming momentarily entranced by it. These were easily twenty of the more surreal minutes of my life.

Once we were done with our foofoo drinks, the three of us sought out a bartender’s advice on finding a “locals” place where we could refresh our buzzes without killing our credit scores. He suggested Tommy Rocker's, adding that it’s “behind Caesars Palace.” Given that Caesars is one of the biggest properties (in terms of acreage) in the Western Hemisphere, I replied, “Utah is behind Caesars Palace.”

A cab—this time appropriately-priced—took us to Tommy Rocker's, a sports bar far enough off the Strip that we were probably the only tourists to walk through their doors all day. It was now after midnight, but the place was far from jumping. Ten other people, at the most, were on hand. Some, like the hot chick sitting near us at the bar, were off-duty casino workers. Thankfully, she was seated nearest to T.C., who fell right into our standard three-man act of letting the married, “harmless” guy disarm the girl with his charm, while Dupa and I remain a hidden threat, lurking in the bushes. If you’ve ever seen the velociraptors work their predatory strategy in “Jurassic Park”…

Dupa drank Jack, and T.C. and I worked on draughts of beer. We listened to war stories that the pretty Paris Hotel blackjack dealer and her friends all shared, as they competed to top each other with tales, each stupid tourist even more idiotic than the previous one. Very quickly, though, I realized I was in trouble. For some reason, I was suddenly circling the drain. That familiar lightheadedness knocked me to the canvas, like a stiff left from Manny Paquiao. Apparently the gods of the Cable Car ancestors were striking me down for my derisive jokes and defiant laughter. When the bartender came back by, I ordered a glass of ice water, knowing it was my only road out of this situation. I sucked it straight down via the straw and ordered another. Manliness be damned: This velociraptor was declawed, but—mercifully—still alive.

We had the bartender call us another cab; this time we got dropped off at Caesars, at around a quarter to 2. We walked in through the art gallery wing of the sprawling landmark, and paused to window-shop some of the works on sale. Okay, so they were sports-themed pieces…fight me. Once we found a bar (which only took rounding a couple of bends), I ordered us three beers. Dupa, between sips of his beer, downed the better part of a bottle of Maalox. Apparently the ancestors of whatever he had drank during his O’Shea’s stint were now putting in work on him. We tried to find the birthday boy a table that suited him, but he soon resigned to all of us just going back to the Planet Hollywood. As we found our way to the Strip and strolled back to home base, I believe there was a joke or two about me breaking off to find Raw Deal. And I’m sure the language I used in responding to said jokes was nothing family-friendly.

Fucking assholes.

Back at PH, T.C. and I grabbed beers from Heart Bar while Dupa fed his blackcrack addiction. It was now 5 a.m. All of the sitting around watching other people win money was starting to eat at me, and I finally buckled. I went to an ATM and took out $100, intending to lose it to some fellow night owl poker players at a low stakes table. I shuffled/stumbled back to where T.C. was sitting, intent on bidding him farewell, at the risk of becoming the one sitting at a table gambling for 14 straight hours. When I got to him, though, Dupa was standing there. Having taken a hit at blackjack, he was ready to pocket the rest of his bankroll and call it a night. I read the tea leaves that the gambling gods had provided, and packed it in myself.

Besides, I wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to have someone else find the elevators for me.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Gettin' Swayze

I'm trying to figure out what's the best part of this 1979 commercial. Is it the fact that it features Patrick Swayze? Is it the song? Swayze's hair? The fact that it's for Pabst Blue Ribbon, yet features stylish "cool" (relative to the year) people? The dancing? ...It's gotta be the dancing, right? But then again, there's also the fact that it's a full minute long, twice the length of most ads.

Maybe, just maybe, it's the combination of all of those factors.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Viva Las Vegas: Fear & Loathing

The first day of the trip (10/5) was, in fact, Dupa’s birthday. Our 6:20 a.m. departure had us groggily trudging through the Pittsburgh International Airport with a muted sense of anticipation. Really, how excited can you get for an orgy when you’re barely able to keep even your eyelids up? “If we look like this now,” I thought, “what the hell are we going to look like when we come back?”

Thankfully it was a direct flight. While T.C. snoozed a few rows back, Dupa and I alternated between states of reading, sleeping, and shrinking patience. By 9 a.m. Pittsburgh time we were nearly at our destination; Dupa looked at me and said “Jack & diet?” Why not? He pushed the flight attendant call button, and shortly thereafter we each had a surprisingly-strong plastic cup of party on the tray table in front of us. As we snapped pictures of our respective drinks (right), the older guy in the aisle seat next to me muttered, “That’s trouble.” Oh, if you only knew sir.

Once we were on the ground, the giddy schoolchildren inside of us took over. Facebook and Twitter updates were launched, announcing our arrival. Jokes were cracked back and forth as we claimed our bags and waited for a shuttle to the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. Suggestions about where to go for breakfast, where to gamble, and where to lose all hope of ever going back to Pittsburgh were all tossed around. We were kids in the admission line to an amusement park, competing over which rollercoasters we were going to ride first.

We arrived at the hotel around 8 a.m.; being well ahead of the check-in time, we left our bags with the bellhop and headed to Pampas Brazilian Grille for a steak and egg breakfast. Dupa washed down his breakfast with a Bloody Mary, which was one of the restaurant’s two morning drink specials. I chose to go with their other special: a mimosa. I was on vacation, after all. And feeling fancy, damn it. …Fight me.

As we wrapped up the meal, we each ordered a Shock Top draught for the road, drinking them down as we strolled through the Miracle Mile Shops. [If only all malls were void of open container laws. Can you imagine how much greater Christmas shopping would be? Black Friday would be one big kegger. Picture handing your mother a box on Christmas morning, and neither one of you has any clue as to what might be in there. Is it a blouse? Is it a piece of Sbarro pizza with a bite taken out of it?] We thought about cruising the Strip, but the unseasonably cool weather (low 60s) and overcast skies encouraged us to limit our exploration to the lands within the Planet Hollywood. And there was plenty to see. The casino floor is a purple, pink, and black playground, with slot machines, blackjack tables, roulette wheels, and TVs playing promos for Holly Madison’s “Peepshow” everywhere you look. Cocktail waitresses and “Pleasure Pit” dealers, dressed in bustiers, hot pants, and thigh high boots, patrol the grounds to catch any male eyes still standing after that onslaught, before they can stray towards the elevators. The poker room—really just a roped-off section of floor real estate—was the closest the PH came to disappointing me, but even it beckoned like a half-naked siren.

In the last year, Dupa has nurtured a blackjack obsession, starting with online play and then moving to the Rivers’ video blackjack games and low stakes tables. He found a $15 table on the PH floor that seemed to have his name on it, and changed in for $300 worth of chips. T.C. and I watched a few hands before realizing that neither of us planned on joining him at the table; T.C. suggested we find two open seats and video blackjack games at The Heart Bar, and I readily agreed. Free booze while you play—suck it Pennsylvania and West Virginia gaming laws! $20 in a machine meant we were drinking on the house, and my vodka tonics were like little reminders coming every ten minutes to say, “Hey, good for you; you made the right choice. You are very intelligent, and an exceptional human being. And have I told you how charming and handsome you are?” …Did I mention I was going through one every ten minutes?

After a short while, T.C. wandered off to the men’s room, but soon came back with Dupa. “Cashed out; I’m up $700,” the birthday boy said, grinning from ear-to-ear like a Cheshire Cat.

We played a bit more, slugging drinks and blinkingly taking in our surroundings, still in shock to be in Vegas. I took repeated breaks from the electronic blackjack cards to watch a sugar daddy across the bar who was seated with a hot woman. He was pushing 60; she was in her mid 20s. She pretended to find everything he said to be hilarious, and he kept shelling out money for drinks. Ah, the American Dream. As for this American, such pay-for-pleasure pursuits are just that—a dream; I cashed out at $10, down $50 to that point, slurping up the last of my drink as we finally made our way to the front desk to check in.

Every room in the PH is based on a different movie. The three of us were given the Forrest Gump room. It just felt…right. We made a quick trip to the ABC Store in the mall for supplies. T.C. bought a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black; I picked out a bottle of Belvedere and grabbed some cans of Red Bull. Happy birthday, Dupa. We also purchased two gallons of bottled water. This wasn’t our first rodeo.

Back in the room, Dupa decided he needed a nap. Why he also felt that he had to be naked to take said nap, I’ll never know. I can only hypothesize he felt it poetic to be in his birthday suit on his birthday. Then again, this is Dupa; taking his clothes off in public is as common as a handshake. (And, ironically, it’s also the next step for him in the course of an introduction.) Before he could climb into his bed, there was a knock at our door—the rollaway bed we had ordered was being delivered. Dupa jumped up to answer the door, but T.C. stopped him, and told him to go to bed. Thankfully he did, because when T.C. opened the door a cute girl in her early 20s pushed in the rollaway bed. Sexual harassment lawsuits – 0, Three Drunk Guys – 1.

After an hour or two of rest, we got ourselves together again. Showers, shaving, and Johnnie Walker on the rocks prepared us for our short walk down the Strip to O’Shea's. We grabbed a quick meal of traditional Irish cuisine at the in-house Burger King, and then found a $5 blackjack table to call home. Cheap blackjack, free drinks, and a bounty of skin populating the nearby beer pong tables. It was like a yinzer paradise. We soon learned the names and bedside habits of just about every dealer the casino employs, as we didn’t leave our seats for the better part of four hours. Unfortunately, they don’t hire from the same headhunters as Planet Hollywood. Nice people, all of them, but… Not that my boys or I cared, as long as they kept flipping over 23s to our doubled-down 18s.

One dealer (“Raw Deal”), who took over our table early in the night, reinforced my theory on O’Shea's “We don’t need hot, half-naked women to keep people playing” policy. Though, to be fair, I didn’t go any lower than her face. Dupa and T.C. stated that she had a very large rack that was eager to be freed from her uniform’s blouse. I don't remember that myself, but I highly doubt it could have salvaged anything for her.

[*pauses* God I’m an asshole.]

I asked the guys where the bathroom was; when T.C. pointed off in the distance, I couldn’t see anything. After leaning over and looking around Raw Deal, who was directly in my line of vision, I spotted the elusive men’s room sign.

Me: “Ah, couldn’t see around [Raw Deal].”
RD: *teasing* “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Me: *slightly embarrassed, trying to save face* “No, I mean, your beauty was just so overpowering, how could I possibly look anywhere else?”

This obvious (I thought) instance of back-pedaling bullshit managed to win the moment, as we all laughed and returned our attention to the blackcrack. And that was pretty much the only winning I did that night. But, I bought in at $100 and managed to play that same Benjamin all night. Not so fortunate was T.C., who made a trip or two to the ATM. Dupa, though, was actually up (call it birthday luck). Alcohol, however, was up on all three of us. To the point that, as a new dealer began at our table late in the night, I managed to spill my beer all over him, the table, and the deck of cards. “FLOOR!” [I vaguely remember joining him in yelling, “Floor!” As if I wasn’t the drunk that had caused the problem to begin with?]

I can’t imagine, though, that this is the first time they’ve had this happen at O’Shea's. Bellagio, Wynn, Caesar’s Palace—at those casinos, a couple of guys in colored blazers probably tap you on your shoulder and point to the doors when you soak a dealer, table, and cards (the trifecta!) with beer. At O’Shea's, they just walk your party over to another blackjack table, and call over a waitress to replace your drink.

Around 4 a.m., T.C. called “no mas” and stumbled out the doors. I hung on for another half hour or so, finally losing the last of my chips to a dealer’s 20. As I bid Dupa adieu and began following T.C.’s footsteps, I felt a tug at my arm. I turned to find Raw Deal, smiling at me. “Uhhhh…oh fuck.” [I mean, that’s what I said in my mind. I wouldn’t say that out loud, of course. …Then again, it was closing in on 5 a.m. and I’d been drinking all night. I can’t guarantee that I didn’t.] I gave a quick smile back, said a hurried and awkward “Be safe,” and power walked out the door.

Here’s the fun part. Ever have that dream where you’re stuck in a maze, disoriented in a haze of sleep, taking turn after turn that leads you right back to where you just were? Get sloppy drunk and stumble into the Planet Hollywood from the entrance on the Strip. I promise you, it’s the closest you’ll get to living that nightmare. I knew our room was on the 38th floor, and I knew that there were two sets of elevators—ones that went past the 23rd floor, and ones that didn’t. When I finally found a set of elevators after wandering through the casino floor, they were the wrong ones. I walked back out, and circled the floor again. Finally, I found a set of elevators. I hopped on one, and looked at the buttons; nothing higher than 23. Fuck! Another voyage out onto the casino floor, another set of elevators located. I peeked inside of one; nothing higher than 23. Fuck!

I took the escalator back down to the lobby and check-in counter. I knew we had gone up to the room from there that afternoon, and I remembered the elevators being down a hallway off to the left of the counter. I staggered past people just arriving from—or just leaving for—their what-happens-in-Vegas sin stories, and got to the elevators. I stepped onto one, feeling triumphant…only to see no buttons above 23. FUCK!

When I walked back out to the hallway, I wondered how hard the clerk would laugh at me when I asked for help getting to my room. Then a thought hit me. I had walked in from the left, where the lobby was. I turned and looked towards the right. Down the hall I saw a sign reading “Elevators: Floors 24 – 52”.

*sigh* Day One was officially in the books.