How to drink right in college

In Uncategorized on September 14, 2010 at 1:09 am

In this post I’m changing from the subject of rock ‘n roll to one with an uncanny connection to rock ‘n roll – the cause of and solution to everybody’s problems: alcohol.

Why alcohol? Because last week was the first week of college for another group of freshmen and it’s a time of year that fills me with both fond memories and loathing of bad choices made during that fateful time 18 years ago. There I was:  shy as a bladder in prison, skinny as a rail, as untouched by girlkind as an MMA event taking place inside a Star Wars convention, and yet to taste the sweet and bitter fruits of drunkenness.

I spent the majority of my first semester doing exactly what I set out to do: studying endlessly in my rented room with a cassette copy of Boston’s first album on a continuous loop. Thanks Tom Scholz — my efforts resulted in nearly straight A’s by December break. And despite the foolish decision to attempt Stairway to Heaven on karaoke night, my classmates kind of took to the painfully awkward entity that was myself at age 19. “You just need to lighten up,” they said. “Why don’t you have a few drinks with us?”

By the start of the second semester, I had taken this invitation to drink a little bit as one to drink a lot, in spite of the fact that my lack of girth and drinking experience meant I was already three sheets to the wind quite early in any given evening of carousing. In the process, I regularly made a royal ass of myself, destroying friendships before they had truly begun and shuttling the already-remote prospects I had with girls in my social circle. And thus began a four-years-plus history of steadily-declining grades, unexpected and unexplained punches to the head, vomiting where I should not have vomited and going home with people I should not have gone home with.

Although I have not drank for several years for a variety of religious and health reasons, I would not be so bold as to tell freshmen not to drink. I would rather point out the difference between drinking and the kind of drinking that repels everyone and everything of reasonable social stature.  For what it’s worth, here’s my advice.

Drink in a pub, not a club. Despite the fairer gender’s insistence that clubs are “a fun place to dance,” clubs exist for one reason and one reason only: to pour as much poor, cheap booze down the collective gullet of college students and their less educated counterparts as possible, in the meantime pummelling you with bad pop music blared over a shitty sound system by a DJ completely oblivious to any fader on his board aside from “bass.”

If you still wish to drink in clubs after that stellar endorsement, at least follow this advice: never, ever try to pick up girls in clubs. Why? Because you won’t. How do you know that, you ask? I know this based on the very fact that you’re reading this blog. I’m basing this on the fact that you’ve read anything at all. If you have ever gotten good grades or ever held a job that entailed any responsibility whatsoever, you have already sent a message out to the world that you care about your future and the consequences of your actions.

I am almost convinced that those people who seem to excel at the club lifestyle simply dematerialize into the ether at the age of 21, having exasperated their usefulness as a stumbling block to individual human progress. You may “succeed” at a pick-up once or twice, but trust me when I say that these experiences will lead to much fear, loathing and trips to the doctor.

“But” – you say – “I know lots of nice girls that go to clubs.” Maybe you do, but most of the time they are there with club-inclined friends or to dance – they’re not going to sleep with you. If you want to meet girls in a drinking environment (and chances are that if you’re reading this blog you are more interested in an actual relationship than a casual hookup) do so in a pub. They generally attract a higher class of girl and there is typically less tolerance for the kind of alcohol poisoning-inducing consumption prevalent in clubs, which means you have less chance of killing your game by becoming a drunken assclown.

Better yet, though, don’t associate drinking with meeting girls at all. If you’re in college you should already be surrounded by single and looking girls on a daily basis anyway – learn early on in life to approach the opposite sex without having to use alcohol as a crutch.

Learn your peak. There is a certain point in most drinking experiences where you feel at your best – you’re not soddingly drunk, but just socially lubricated enough to have a good time. This is the best you will ever feel in any given drinking experience. Unfortunately, being human beings our first instinct is to think “Well, if this much booze made me feel good, even more will make me feel better.” It won’t. Personally speaking, the only things continuing to drink after this point achieved were increasing surliness and a nasty hangover.

The bottom line is, when you reach this “peak point” – which you will have to determine for yourself because everybody is different – stop. If it’s going to be a long night, start drinking again only after the effect has worn off somewhat. This way, you may be able to hit several peaks in a single evening.

Generally, friends you meet at bars are not your friends. Many people consider social drinking a vital part of the college experience, a key part of learning about the world outside of home and school. Here’s what you’ll learn: drunk people (including you) are assholes, drunk people who are not assholes are often assholes when they’re sober, and friendships formed around alcohol and nothing else are generally not what you’d call thick-and-thin relationships. Your best friends in college will almost invariably be formed around school or activities of mutual interest.

Good luck, have fun, and watch out for yourself.

‘Ping’ – Promising or Problematic? (via The Social Senate)

In Uncategorized on September 3, 2010 at 5:39 am

I’m looking forward to trying this out.

‘Ping’ – Promising or Problematic? Not content with revolutionising the MP3 and mobile markets, along with creating some of the most iconic and desirable consumer products of the 21st Century, Apple has now turned its Midas touch to the social media sphere.  But will the oddly named ‘Ping’ network prove to be another runaway success for Steve Jobs et al, or is this a step too far for Apple’s all-consuming tentacles? On the face of it, Ping looks a solid bet.  Rather than attemptin … Read More

via The Social Senate

How elitism kills the enjoyment of music

In Uncategorized on August 29, 2010 at 7:09 am

My wife, my grandmother-in-law and I went to see The Sorcerer’s Apprentice the other night (don’t judge us – it was the only movie playing in town). My wife and I thought it was terrible – the plot was incoherent, the characters were annoying and the acting was awful. But our grandmother absolutely loved it. Part of me thinks that can be attributed to the fact that she has probably seen less movies in her entire life than my wife and I watch in a typical year. And before you get your knives out, that can be taken both as credit towards our gran and commentary on how much my wife and I waste time.

Being a film nerd in addition to a music nerd, my first temptation was to gently guide Gran towards what I would consider better examples of the fantasy genre. But then it occurred to me: who am I to take that bit of enjoyment away from her? Why should she have to watch, say, The Lord of the Rings in order to justify liking The Sorcerer’s Apprentice? Enjoyment should be taken as its own value, lest we forget that enjoyment is the purpose of entertainment, after all.

As Bart Simpson once said to Homer, “What’s the point of this story?” While I, like Homer, simply like stories, this got me thinking about the reasons why I’ve always been so nervous about bringing up the topic of jazz in my writing. You see, my jazz collection consists of a mere five CDs: Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue and Bitch’s Brew, Charlie Mingus’ The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, John Coltrane’s My Favorite Things and – my favourite of the bunch – A Love Supreme. Although small, I enjoy all of these albums immensely.

Still, despite my love of these five recordings, I know nothing about jazz compared to a true jazz aficionado. I don’t even know anything about the above mentioned artists outside of these examples. There’s a part of me that fears that if I were to express how this music makes me feel on a visceral level (especially A Love Supreme) that I might be challenged for my lack of knowledge by someone who lives and breathes the genre.

Now I realize it’s not the best of analogies. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is roundly considered a mediocre movie at best while A Love Supreme is universally acclaimed (with the exception, I’m sure, of a few bitter outliers who think they’re too cool for the mainstream jazz community) as a masterpiece. But it’s one that brings up two questions: why do I feel I’m not in a position to express how John Coltrane’s work makes me feel? On the other hand, why do I, as a movie geek, have this drive to “educate” people to make better movie choices just because I’ve wasted the equivalent of years watching films from all genres, from all over the world and throughout the history of cinema?

In my opinion, elitism is probably the number one thing that prevents people from experimenting with new things. Why do you think so many people are reluctant to listen to classical and jazz? I think it’s because there are so many fans of those genres out there that send a message – sometimes spoken, but usually unspoken – that you need To Find Out More At Your Local Library in order to fully “appreciate” those styles. Where’s the fun in that? Why not just listen to it, see where it takes you and make up your own mind?

I’m sorry to say that this elitist attitude has infected less esoteric forms of music as well. How many of us have run into some hipster douchebag and expressed our enthusiasm for some hot new indie band only to get a snotty “Pfft . . . I’ve been listening to them since BEFORE they were popular.” Elitists like these ultimately hurt themselves; for all of their encyclopaedic expertise on their sad little genre, they miss out on music of value everywhere else. Not only that, but they turn a hobby that should be fun and life-affirming into just a lot of posturing – a way to make themselves feel superior to the unwashed masses that in reality don’t even care.

It’s possible that people adopt these attitudes out of some erroneous belief that if they could just get as much knowledge of a given thing as possible that somehow they could, in some small way, be responsible for the success of that thing. Unfortunately, that’s not the way creating something works. Sure, I could know all there is to know about the history of film and the film industry but I still would never be able to direct a movie even as mediocre as The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Jazz fans can obsess over the minutiae of the genre (kind of like I’m doing in this blog – how ironic) all they want but that doesn’t mean they’ll ever have the technical talent or soul to write a piece as moving as A Love Supreme.

The bottom line is that music fans of all genres need to lighten up. We’re in a unique time in human history where we have such an abundance of recorded music to choose from. Pick a little bit from all of it and enjoy as much of it as you can – elitism is not going to do you any favours in the long run.