Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Party Games for the Non-Drinker

As I round off two months of alcohol-free entertainment, I’ve noticed that I’ve become a drink counter. Not mine, mine are pretty easy to count. Always 0. Yours however, are becoming increasingly interesting to me.

I don’t do it to judge you or because I particularly care how many you have. It’s just one of the many games I play to occupy myself when I can’t come up with adequate conversation. I like to wander into a room, guess who’s going to hit the bar the hardest during a set period of time, and then wait to see how my prediction plays out.

If you’re new to this game, you might put your money on the guy who’s wearing fake boobs filled with liquor. These boobs conveniently have taps for nipples, so I could see why you might pick him. You would be mistaken though. Flexibility won’t allow the average drinker to suckle his own taps, and by the time he drains a boob, he’s going to be confused as to how to refill it. 

The key to winning this game is to think outside of the box. Unless that box happens to be a box of wine, in which case all bets are off. It’s a bit voyeuristic, but at least I’m putting my critical thinking skills to good use.

I prefer to play this game with complete strangers, as it adds an extra degree of difficulty and I don’t feel like an ass when I guess correctly. The best location is a restaurant at happy hour. Everybody loves a bargain.

Another game I like to play is trying to match you drink for drink with cans of soda (diet, I’m not crazy). I’m not as good at this game. Considering my years of intensive training, I thought this would be an easy one. Near as I can tell, the diuretic effect of alcohol gives you an advantage. My kidneys aren’t as motivated to process a 12-pack of Fresca.

After one party, I decided to investigate dealcoholized wine, which is not the same as grape juice. Dealcoholized wine is wine that has had the alcohol removed after the fact, so it retains the complexity of flavor.

There is a God and He loves me!

I think it’s pretty good, although I prefer the Merlot to the Chardonnay (which is not the case with “normal” wine). After his first sip my adventure partner said, “Mmmm….Manischewitz…” but he went back for thirds and found this article, so I assume he liked it.

One of our friends mixed his Chardonnay with Sugar-Free AMP and dubbed it a “ghetto sour” so I can vouch for its versatility. I prefer my Manischewitz/Merlot neat, partially for the flavor, but mostly because I still have standards. L’chaim! 

Thursday, 25 October 2012

For the Love of Reading

The man who won’t read has no advantage over the man who can’t. –Mark Twain

I’ve always been a reader. It’s one of my greatest pleasures in life. I read mostly nonfiction, but the genre honestly doesn’t matter that much to me. Fiction, nonfiction, technical manuals, magazine articles, blogs—if it’s out there, I’ll read it. Aside from the occasional fix at the office supply store (Damn you Office Max and your awesome supply of notebooks!), there’s no place I’d rather be than in a library. If "used book store" was a perfume, I'd wear it.

The written word can travel to every corner of the earth and more importantly, through time. There’s a special place in my heart for biographies, because it’s like interviewing the past. I may not be able to sit down for a day with the great thinkers of history, but I can still learn from their experiences. To quote Socrates: "Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for." I’m enough of a slacker to appreciate that idea.

I think that's why this article bothered me so much. The authors are proud to report that 8 in 10 Americans under the age of 30 have read a book in the last year, as compared to 7 in 10 of adults in general. I can't imagine not reading a single book in the last year. Hell, I can't imagine not reading a single book in the last week. It's such an important part of my life that I want to share it with everyone. I feel like an evangelical reader--I want to share the good news and save souls through books.

Words written centuries ago can reach through time and etch themselves in my mind. They can make me smile, or cry. They can change my opinions, expand my thinking to encompass another point of view, and educate me. I’ve traveled further and more intensely through a good book than by physically standing on another continent.

I can see the world through my own eyes, and by reading, see the same world from a completely different perspective. By opening myself up to a different way of thinking, even if it’s not one I agree with, I have instantly broadened my understanding.

For me, a good book is one that I finish with sigh. By reading it, I have affected my mind and grown as a person. Every now and then, I find a book I can get lost in. I care about the characters as though I personally know them, and when I finally look up from the pages, I’m startled to discover that hours have passed. That is the mark of great book.
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