A Day in the Life of a Beverotologist
It was starting to look like a very boring Saturday, trapped as I was in the suburban wastelands of the outer Bay Area, so I called my Able Assistant (AA) and proposed that we perform some Spocktail field tests. For some time I've been working on creating the quintessential cinematic beverage and even tho' SMRL does most of its testing during nocturnal hours, this seemed an opportune time to roll up the sleeves of our labcoats and get some science done. While the beverotology creation tested this day (The Neurotoxin) must be deemed a success, this article focuses more the journey of the experimenters, rather then the science of beverotology.
The root of the problem that I am trying to solve lies, as it normally does, in America's horrific fixation on its Puritannical past and the continuing efforts of the Good People of the Present to eliminate as much enjoyment as possible from society. I guess proving that old saying: misery loves company. Fucking bastards! In this case, the problem manifests itself in the prohibition of alcoholic beverages in movie theaters. Other, more civilized countries, have managed to mix the entertainment value of movie watching with the pleasure of a great beer. It is even possible to find the occasional local independent theater selling beer and pizza to consume while viewing a second run movie.
I certainly didn't become a Senior SRML Beverotologist by watching other people drink.
But the big movie chains, catering to the mundane and pathetic tastes of the masses, are extremely hostile to any sort of alcohol and in fact prohibit - under the penalty of expulsion and possible arrest - the consumption of any booze inside their theater. Since most movies run from 90 minutes to over 3 hours these days, when you add in the time spent purchasing a ticket, getting there early enough to get a good seat, watching the endless stream of ads and trailers, plus the travel time to and from the nearest bar, you could be looking at almost 4 hours between drinks. Four fucking HOURS!!! GAR. I fucking hate Good People of the Present! This is truly a crime against nature and all mankind... and me in particular. There should be an international tribunal convened to punish those responsible and to ensure that this horrible beverage deprivation ends immediately.
However, that is not likely to happen until the Bad People of the Future have taken control, which will happen... someday... in umm... the future, you know... so while we wait for the revolution, us Future Bad People are simply going to have to be more clever and cunning then our adversaries. Hence, I've been conducting research in the nascent but rapidly booming field of Cinematic Beverotology. My previous attempt was conducted with Snatcher and a pint of rum while we watched Ron Jeremy's biography Porn Star. The movie was pretty good and the experiment, while rushed, was mostly successful, but never written up and subjected to peer review. We both knew that much more research and controlled experiments would be required before we could go public with our findings.
So before I leaving the SRML lab, I reviewed the notes from the previous attempt and made a note to try some small but subtle changes... namely, barbituates. I grabbed the needed supplies, stuffed them in my jacket, and took off for Bart.
My Able Assistant and I agreed to meet at the Powell Street Bart station and walked down to the Metreon for the 12:30 showing. On the way, we stopped at a liquor store and purchased 375ml of vodka, which I stashed deep inside my jacket. In hindsight, this was clearly an inadequate amount of booze to allow two people to survive one movie. A rookie move on my part, forgot to multiply by 2. My Able Assistant is a much better drinker then I gave her credit for. And I certainly didn't become a Senior SRML Beverologist by watching other people drink.
We arrived at the Metreon in plenty of time to catch the 12:30pm showing of Spider-Man and got in line to purchase tickets. I was annoyed to discover that matinee prices at the Metreon only cover the first showing of the day - which occurred at 10am. In fact, I was more then a little annoyed and expressed my displeasure to the ticket seller. But rules are rules and corporate wage slaves aren't in any sort of position to make or bend them. So I paid full price and vowed that Sony (owner of the Metreon and producer and distributor of Spider-Man) will feel my wrath when I download several hundred pirated mp3s from Sony-distributed albums. I'll show those bastards they can't fuck with Johnnie Royale.
I reviewed the notes from the previous attempt and made a note to try some small but subtle changes... namely, barbituates.
On the way in, we purchased a 44oz value sized soda. We debated the relative merits of each of the flavors and decided to go with Popping Pink Lemonade Hi-C. It was a shocking $3.40 - something 7-11 sells for a buck and quarter. The only mitigating factor was the offer of free refills - which I took advantage of twice, significantly reducing the dehydration issues normally associated with this sort of experimentation and reducing the per drink cost of the beverage to a more reasonable $1.13 a cup. We got to our seats about 10 minutes early and opted for a location on the aisle near the exit. You lose some viewing enjoyment that way, but that is the price you pay to be on the cutting edge of beverotology; the experiment demands easy egress.
After getting settled in, we began to notice the horrible music being piped over the intercom. From some Sony-owned bands I bet. More corporate marketing synergy. Gag. Of course, if we are there to watch a Sony-made film, in a Sony-owned and -managed theater, we want to listen to the newest blah boy's pop band that the Sony marketing department has manufactured ... NOT! Fuckers! Ignoring the music the best we could, we mapped out our specific experiments. AA opted for a Codeine pill and one Metabolift pill. I went for a Codeine, 2 Metabolifts, one Digel (Metabolift normally upsets my stomach) and some Inodocine. We washed it all down with the Hi-C, consuming enough to make room for the vodka. As soon as the lights went out, I opened up the vodka, poured it into the soda cup, and gave it a good stir with the straws. The Super sized soda didn't last that long and we were quickly under the influence.
I suppose this is a good time to review the movie. Normally, I prefer to review the trailers. I suppose some people might actually expect a movie critic to have watched the film they are rambling on about, but this is the PDJ and I (and some of my colleagues) prefer to make shit up instead of doing research. Not only is it easier for a creative person to bang out a 1000 word review if they can just make shit up, but remembering all those facts in the middle of a massive hangover is hard. And trailers normally only last 5 minutes, where as movies take hours and cost nine dollars and 50 cents to see. But for you purists out there, I did actually see this movie. The first half of the movie, where we see what a bumbling fool the pre-Spider-Man Peter Parker is, is entertaining. And watching Parker discover his Spidey powers and deal with the fact that he is now different than the average pretty NYC high school student was mildly amusing.
But, unfortunately, the second half of the film turned into a blubbering pile of nauseating goo with dialogue that made me want to projectile vomit. I was continually looking for a barfbag and moaning at the horrible script as the actors read their stilted lines. The actors talked nonsense about how they loved each other... as friends... and blah, blah, blah. AA, being a chick, tglerated this verbal abuse much better then I and was starting to jab me in the ribs every time I barked at the screen or whined about how good suicide would feel. How people are allowed to write scripts like and live that is beyond me. I can't even begin to imagine the damage that would have been done if I hadn't protected my brain with layers of chemicals.
I think the most insulting fact was the wonderful missed opportunities that the writers and directors had. Pretty hot actors played both Spider-Man and MJ (Spidey's girl) and the potential of lots of kinky Spidey-Sex with web harnesses swinging from the rafters was simply wasted. Which is too fucking bad because I don't see why the 1,000-server CGI rendering farm at the Sony-owned Imageworks was used to make Spider-Man move with grace through the man-made canyons of Manhattan instead of spicing up Spidey's money shot. Once I again I blame the Good People of the Future and their boring and insipid tastes.
Anyway, the review from AA was a thumbs up and the review from me was don't waste your time or your money or your brain cells, and if you are dragged to the theater... bring plenty of booze.. Better yet, wait for the DVD, rent it, watch the first half and Fast Forward through most of the second half.
When the movie got out we discovered it was a perfectly wonderful sunny day in San Francisco. Marvelous. Simply gorgeous. Ugh... the last thing I wanted was lot of sunlight. On AA's suggestion, we marched up Fourth Street and then Grant and into a little hole in the wall bar in Chinatown - Li Po's. Li Po's isn't much (what hole in the wall bar is?), but it has great big red booths in the back that are barely lit by two dim red bulbs and what light spilling in the through the door that is brave enough to force its way back into the gloom. It is the sort of place you can just imagine the rulers of the Chinatown Tongs have meet for a 100 or so years and traded opium, sold white slaves or ordered gang hits. We enjoyed the darkness and the comfort of the plush naugahyde seats while we managed our buzz by drinking Tsingtao beer and cracking jokes at the expense of the losers at the bar. It was a truly pleasant way to pass the afternoon.
A retreat much like Napoleon's return from Moscow... only with panhandlers instead of Cossacks harassing us.
Yes, the dweebs at the bar. They were to be our undoing. Dressed in boring business suits and horrible, ill fitting dresses, they looked like Mormons would look -- if Mormons ever visited Li Po's. Soon, they began to envy our location in the comfortable, cool, back innards of Li Po's. Women glanced and whispered to the men, who stared back at us into the murk. I scowled and stared back, unwilling to be intimated by them. This went on for some time... until they resorted to unconventional warfare. They found the Li Po's jukebox and began attacking us with horrible music. Disoriented by this sudden onslaught, we held our position, grimacing... out numbered and clearly out maneuvered. Suddenly, my Able Assistant could endure no more and she broke and ran, fleeing for the relative safety of Grant Street. I followed, vainly searching for way to indicate my displeasure. Only on reaching Grant did I assemble a plan... and by then it was too late. The Able Assistant should have created a diversion in the front of Li Po's and when the heads of the staff were turned, I would cut the speaker wires with my Leatherman, returning the back room to the soothing quiet we had so recently enjoyed. Here too I had failed, for I had left this most useful of tools back at the house. I vowed not to repeat that mistake on future Beverotology field tests.
We found Grant Street far too bright and too busy and quickly retreated to the darker and less crowded alleys that parallel both Grant and Stockton Street. Weaving our way north, we found several more holes in the wall... filled with bad, disreputable characters served by ill-tempered wait staff. I only remember small vignettes from this part of the day. The Chinese Kung-Fu soap opera, the evil no-bumper pinball game, the Able Assistant's Sportsbra, the poisoned pretzel that I tasted for two more bars and the horrible dungeon-like restrooms reeking of piss and vomit.
Sometime later, back on Columbus Street, we stumbled into the Vieni Vieni Lucky Spot. According to every San Francisco guidebook in existence, we were now in Little Italy. Only times have changed and the drop in Italian influence and population in the City has been quickly capitalized on by the Chinese. They have been relentlessly pushing north across Broadway, annexing parts of Little Italy into Chinatown. So this old gin joint, home to boys like Tony and Guido and Carlos, was now under Asian management. The bartender, a small, weak Chinese lady to whom English would never be a comfortable language, was clearly not up to task of running an orderly bar. I like that in a bartender as it means the crowd can turn unruly at a moment's notice and things cascade quickly out of control. All the patrons sense the inherent danger and quickly realize what a powder keg atmosphere they are in. The tension level rises - everyone waiting.... expecting an accident to happen.
My Able Assistant ordered a Guinness... but it was still too warm for that and all the walking had once again dangerously lowered my Blood Alcohol Level to something resembling sobriety. So I started with a couple of vodka tonics - extra lime.
While we were on our first cocktails, in walked the accidents everyone was dreading. Mom, Shanna and Brain. Mom was closing in on 50 - short, plump with dirty blond hair and square purple glasses. She was white trash to the point where she might as well have it tattooed to her forehead and painted across her front and backsides. One of the problems with White Trash is that it always breeds and always makes more White Trash. Which explains both Brian and Shanna's position in the world. Shanna was shorter than Mom, with long black hair and a Latina hue. And Brian... what can you say about Brian. Shortly after we left the Lucky Spot, I commented that Brian was a few decks short of a card. He was a stocky fellow with a big beer belly and an even bigger mouth.
...the potential of lots of kinky Spidey-Sex with web harnesses swinging from the rafters was simply wasted
I didn't see the family resemblance between the brother and sister - leading me to the conclusion that Mom had had a variety of "husbands." The title of "Brains of the Family" was clearly unfilled in this tribe as the three Stooges (as I started to think of them) -- with Mom playing Moe, Shanna doing Larry, and Brian managing to perform a good imitation of Curly -- got started on their routine.
All three were clearly intoxicated and should never have been allowed into a bar, any bar. But this was no ordinary bar. They ordered three double scotches and started arguing about arguing. The two patrons sitting between the three stooges and myself quickly left their seats and moved closer to the door.
The pace quickened as the bar fell quiet and the stooges performed their routine. Life had clearly dealt these stooges poor hands - or so they whined. Talk of illegal activities punctured the now quiet of the bar as we watched. Shanna finally looked up and announced she'd never done drugs and wasn't on drugs. The snorts from the cheap seats were audible and did nothing to calm her increasing hostility.
Soon, the three were raging around the back, shouting and screaming at each other. My Able Assistant chuckled and tried to get me involved... then quickly stated that if someone starting shooting, she was leaving. That's usually pretty good advice in a bar... but this was the day before Mother's Day and it seemed unlikely that Brian would shoot his Mom. Later, after another round, Brian moved his court into the women's restroom. Several people entered and more shouting ensued. Some left and other entered, but the shouting remained.
At some point Shanna ran out of the bar in tears... and quickly returned with a youngish man, with long stringy hair and a goatee, dressed in an entrails-splattered chef outfit with a large butcher's knife tucked into his belt. He calmly took up a stance like he was waiting in line to enter the women's restroom when it became available.
Fleeing the Lucky Spot, we continued northwest on Columbus, finding the International Sports Bar during one of my many alcohol emergencies. The International Sports Bar seemed to be neither a sports bar nor to have any sort of international decor or theme. But it did have Guinness on sale for $2 a pint from 4 to 8. That's right... 2 bucks for a pint of Guinness. I ordered 2 and the Able Assistant got one. We chatted, laughing at the catastrophe we narrowly avoided. The Able Assistant was slowing down now and buzz management was becoming much trickier: literally a knife's edge between happiness and a disastrous collapse. The Able Assistant wanted a clove, so we moved the beers outside to smoke. Shortly after lighting up, the Able Assistant shifted and knocked the small table our beers were on.... completely tipping over her beer.. It was total beveragicide - the complete and absolute loss of a near full pint of Guinness. I went into shock, as I normally do when I see such a senseless loss of alcohol. That allowed the Guinness to flow across the table and cover my shirt and pants in the flavor and smell of Irish hops. The Able Assistant was also horrified at the loss... but the damage was done. We knew the end of the experiment was rapidly approaching. A wasted Guinness is a portent one ignores at one's peril.
Shortly after we left the Lucky Spot, I commented that Brian was a few decks short of a card.
The rest of the evening then becomes a blur in my memory. There were cigars for the cigar virgin, sold by some lost Voodoo Princess. The Mexican crab dealer and the delicious Fisherman's Wharf shellfish that was devoured by the Able Assistant. Then the barking of a thousand sea lions and the vicious harem fight between the "girls" for position on the rafts.
The day, as all days must, ended in whimper, not a bang. It was long slow hard retreat across the City of Saint Francis from Pier 39. A retreat much like Napoleon's return from Moscow... only with panhandlers instead of Cossacks harassing us. The terminus reached just before the chemicals ran out, with physical and mental collapse ensuing.
It is hard to complain about the quality or the quantity of the data we managed to capture in this experiment - but like all good scientists, we have vowed to ensure that our results are reproducible. <<<<<<< adayintheofabeverotogist.html
Bonus Spocktail Recipe
Purchase all the supplies except the Lemonade outside the theater and the Lemonade immediately upon entering. Wash the Codeine and either Metabolift or Truck Speed down with the soda - clearing enough room in the cup for the vodka. Wait for the movie to start. Add the vodka to the soda. Consume. Enjoy.
T O P S T O R I E S
C L A S S I C P I G D O G