Guardians Are Real and They Are Here to Serve

I’m too old to serve in the military now, even though I feel like I could still kick ass with overpowering old man strength and my rudimentary understanding of jiu-jitsu. If I were just a few years younger, perhaps I could have been a real life Guardian in the United States Space Force.

GUARDIANS: A NAME CHOSEN BY SPACE PROFESSIONALS, FOR SPACE PROFESSIONALS… Also, a name for magical space wizards.

I said my peace and I’m not going to make fun anymore. I support all members of the armed forces, whether they fight on land, sea, air, or space.

[Source: Twitter]

A Bear Named Cheeseburger is Causing Havoc in Colorado‚ÄĒNew York Post is Oblivious

A bear in Colorado named Cheeseburger is fucking shit up. Gamers and potheads are in on the joke, but the New York Post is totally clueless.

The bear in the video above is trying to get into a dumpster owned by a marijuana shop. When that proved unsuccessful, he just rolls the entire damn thing into the street.

The bear is a regular, so the shop’s workers named him Cheesburger. This is an obvious nod to the friendly and badass bear from Far Cry 5. No word yet if the shop plans to train the bear and take him on adventures, but that would be awesome.

[Source: New York Post]

Bizarre Chun Li Music Video Reminds Me of the Time I Ate Peyote and Went on a Vision Quest

I’m not going to pretend to know what is going on here. The video is obviously vintage, so I reckon it came out during OG Street Fighter 2.

Attractive girl singing to Chun Li’s theme, while dressed as Chun Li.

I don’t understand it, but my spirit animal approves.

[Source: Twitter]

I’ve Become¬†a De Facto¬†Expert of Video Games… And that Sucks¬†

Oh, hi there. It’s been awhile again. Been busy with my actual job and adult stuff. I actually got a promotion recently, and with it a whole caboodle of additional responsibilities. I actually have¬†a fancy title with¬†direct reports now, which let’s face it, is a terrifying prospect. The fact that the upper management at my company thinks that I should be providing mentorship and career advice to¬†anyone¬†has me questioning¬†their¬†decision-making skills. With that said, I’m still gaming AND writing when I can.¬† Hopefully, you’ll enjoy my latest:¬†

There is an old saying that goes, be careful what you wish for, because one day, it may come true. Older people would¬†use this phrase as a response to me pining for something as child would always provide the most utterly ridiculous examples of why I should be “careful for what I wish for.”¬†

I immediately think back to the movie Home Alone, where a young Macaulay Culkin wishes for his family to disappear and in turn, they forget to take him on vacation to Paris, leaving home to fend for himself during the holidays. 

At first, he’s ecstatic, because he can do whatever he wants, but he soon learns that he misses and loves his family. This came after he tortures¬†and nearly murders¬†two burglars¬†while¬†narrowly avoiding¬†being murdered by them.¬†Really gets me into the Christmas Spirit.¬†

I remember teachers using this movie as example of being careful of what you wish for, and me thinking to myself, well that is a pretty outlandish. What are the chances that simply wishing to have some alone time leads to assaulting Joe Pesci via blow torch? 

It wasn’t until years later in a philosophy class that I took in college that I learned of¬†the¬†“slippery slope.‚Ä̬†Unfortunately, I forgot after years of drinking and abusing my brain and body in various illicit ways.¬† So, a quick¬†Google search and¬†voila!¬†

“A slippery slope argument, in logic, critical thinking, political rhetoric, and caselaw, is a consequentialist logical device in which a party asserts that a relatively small first step leads to a chain of related events culminating in some significant effect. The core of the slippery slope argument is that a specific decision under debate is likely to result in unintended consequences. The strength of such an argument depends on the warrant, i.e. whether or not one can demonstrate a process that leads to the significant effect. This type of argument is sometimes used as a form of fear mongering, in which the probable consequences of a given action are exaggerated in an attempt to scare the audience. The fallacious sense of “slippery slope” is often used synonymously with continuum fallacy, in that it ignores the possibility of middle ground and assumes a discrete transition from category A to category B. In a non-fallacious sense, including use as a legal principle, a middle-ground possibility is acknowledged, and reasoning is provided for the likelihood of the predicted outcome.”¬†

See! It is amazing that after years of playing football before the invention of concussion¬†protocols, combining¬†Whippets¬†with bong hits, and drinking copious amounts of cheap alcohol ‚Äď and yet, everything turned out¬†okay. Thank¬†you¬†internet and thank you¬†Wikipedia!¬†

However, can there possibly be a grain of truth to all of this? I have learned that you should indeed be careful of what you wish for. Hear me out on this. 

When I was in my early teens, back in the greatest decade, known as the 1990’s, my parents and especially my father would ask me when and I’m going to give up playing with these “toys?” The “toys” he was referring to, were video games.¬†¬†

“Never,” would be my reply. “Gaming is the way of the future and I will never stop. You’ll see, one day, video games will be more popular than everything.” I was a smart kid if I do say so myself, and is it turns out, I was right.¬† Video games did indeed become¬†insanely¬†popular¬†and mainstream.¬†I am vindicated. So why do I wish gaming was a more niche and less mainstream now?¬†

Kids¬†find out that I am a gamer and they¬†want to play with me like I’m a novelty. Let’s play with the old man they squeal gleefully, like I’m a dancing monkey or a horse that knows how to do math by tapping its hoof. I don’t like this. I’m not a freak. I’M NOT AN ANIMAL!¬†

It doesn’t stop there either. Other, non-gaming parents want to know what is good for their kids. I’ll get accosted at functions and get asked questions like, “Hey, you play video games, what’s the deal with¬†Fortnight,¬†Overwatch,¬†or whatever new gaming craze of the moment?” To which my reply is, “I don’t know, I don’t play those types of games,” to which many times, is a lie. I just don’t want to discuss games with a non-gamer and also, they should fucking Google it. I’m not trying to be a jerk but discussing video games with someone who is not interested in gaming and¬†solely¬†asking for their kids¬†is¬†mind numbing and negatively impacts my buzz.¬†

Even scarier than acquittances asking about gaming is the out of the blue stranger wanting to pick my brain about gaming. I travel a lot for work and always brought along a handheld or even more recently, my Nintendo Switch, the sight of which, earlier on, nearer to the console’s launch, would illicit a few questions on the device.¬†¬†

It’s¬†for these reasons that I avoid gaming related small talk with all strangers. I used to avoid telling people that I was a gamer because I wanted to avoid the negative stereotypes and connotation, on how gaming was anti-social, or for nerds, or for children, or too violent, or made children too violent. Now¬†I¬†avoid gaming related chit chat because I don’t want to get dragged into¬†boring conversation.¬†

Now there is an even a more troubling issue. I have found that other adults want to know if I can help onboard them into gaming again as they haven’t played in years but want to start up because gaming is popular again. Case and point, my neighbor swung by the house the other day to pick up his daughter, who was on a play date with my daughter and noticed a copy of¬†Game Informer¬†(yes, I’m a dope)¬†on the shelf.¬†¬†

He apparently turned to my wife and was surprised to find out that I was a gamer, as I didn’t seem like someone who played video games. He mentioned that he used to be a gamer himself, but fell out of it, but perhaps he would pick it up again, with my help. My wife thought this was quaint, while I thought that¬†this idea¬†was¬†terrifying. I’m not trying to be an ass, but the last thing I want to do is to teach another grown man how to be a gamer. I’m too old to be someone’s video game mentor.¬†

Lastly, I’m reluctant to become friends with other adult gamers, who¬†want me to join up in their leagues¬†or gamer groups.¬†This happens a lot at work actually, where a random co-worker finds out that I am a gamer and then wants my¬†Gamertag¬†so that we can meet up online later. However, I avoid this at all costs for purely selfish and¬†paranoid¬†reasons. Selfish reasons in that I don’t want to give up my free time to play with someone new as I am pretty set in my ways. I don‚Äôt want to alter my schedule or the types of games that I enjoy to play with someone new.¬†¬†

Also, what if I ditch work one day to play video games and my coworker sees me online for 8 hours when I told everyone that I contracted dengue fever? That can lead to bad optics and uncomfortable conversations with HR. 

It’s funny that I have gotten to this point. I wanted to so bad for gaming to become mainstream, and now that it is, I don’t want to embrace it, because I’ve become a tired old man. I almost yearn for the days where gaming was more niche, but I realize that is very selfish. So now I prefer to shut myself in my man cave and play¬†inconspicuously¬†with my small group of friends or¬†randos, rarely revealing my true identity of a gamer. Unless I get pushed, by a young whippersnapper, then I have to beat him down. Never underestimate the old man gamer.¬†

Achieving Video Game Dad Strength 

Age has a way of sneaking up and defining you. You hit a certain point in life and BOOM, people begin to look at you differently, talk to you differently, and act differently around you. Even though I don’t feel any different emotionally than when I was in my early twenties, I have come to grips that the younger generation sees me as unrelatable. 

I’ve seen it at the office, when I walk into a meeting room and a group of junior associates are yakking it up only to quiet down when I walk in. Their conversation had nothing to do with me and was nothing that I haven’t heard before, but they clammed up just the same. Perhaps not wanting to regale an elder with their weekend shenanigans, even though it sounds relatively tame compared to the trouble I got myself into. 

I see a difference in public too. Simple acts of respect, like someone calling me sir, or mister reminds me that I have entered a new stage in life. It’s especially jarring when someone who is obviously older than me refers to me as sir, like we’re on the same level or kindred spirit. I’m just not ready for that yet. 

Age can be a big definer in sports physical sports as well. Players can be young and inexperienced or they can be in their prime. There are the savvy veterans, maybe not as physically capable as they were a few years ago, but their knowledge of the game and craftiness gives them the ability to lead their teams to success. Then there are the athletes who are past their prime, incapable of coming to grips with the fact that the game has passed them by. 

Or, they can be like Tom Brady of the New England Patriots who seemingly never age. Even though he lost in the Super Bowl this past February, his age and ability had nothing to do with it. In fact, if it wasn’t for him and his impressive offensive numbers, the Patriots would have been blown out. 

His longevity is impressive, given how violent football is. Even the relatively short 10 years I played organized football, from elementary school through high school, my body has paid the price. My fingers are a mangled mess which frighten small children, and the arthritis in my knees do a better job at predicting the weather than the local meteorologist.  Another example of how I may feel young emotionally and at heart, but not always physically.  

My love and knowledge of the game has also allowed me to appreciate the athletes who play it, regardless of what team they play for. I have become somewhat of a fan of Tom Brady, which is a bit odd, since I’m not a Patriots fan. On the contrary, I root for the putrid dumpster fire that is this year’s New York Giants. 

What’s not to like about Tom Brady? He’s handsome, married to a supermodel, and has class.  As Brady has gotten older, has level of play has gotten better. At 40-years-old (just two years older than me), Brady’s skills should be diminishing, and yet, he is still at the top of his game. He gives old timers like myself hope. That’s why I root for him. 

Tom Brady and I have pretty much nothing in common, except for one important thing. As I have gotten older, I have become better at gaming.  This is a FACT! 

I’ve have been gaming a long time and always considered myself good at them, especially single player games. However, put me in a competitive situation online, back in my prime teen years, and I would get trounced. This was during a time when my skills should have been at their peak. 

In my late teens, I would get my ass handed to me in Quake 3 Arena and Unreal Tournament on the PC. Years later, after on the original Xbox, I was being tea bagged in multiplayer on a regular basis in games like Halo 2 and Crimson Skies. How could I be so good at single player and then be thoroughly wrecked in the same game online against live opponents? 

It’s not like I didn’t put in the effort. I would spend hours practicing to no avail. My place was always at the bottom of the rankings. I came to grips that I simply sucked at competitive multiplayer and vowed never to compete again. On occasion my curiosity would get the best of me and I would play some random Call of Duty game, get a thrashing from a racist pre-pubescent child, and be quickly reminded as to why I don’t play multiplayer games. 

Then Halo 4 came along. I picked it up to play the single-player campaign and once I completed that, began to dabble in the multiplayer. At first, I was in way over my head. It was obvious that my competitors didn’t waste their time on the single player campaign and dropped right into multiplayer, and yet, this time, I did not give up. 

For whatever reason I kept on playing and one day I realized that I was not throwing my controller anymore in disgust, I wasn’t pounding the coffee table, and the dog no longer pissed on the rug and hid under the bed in fear when I fired up my Xbox. I was actually playing well, no longer relegated to the bottom of my team’s ranking. On occasion, I would even be on the top, a fluke for sure. Even when my team lost, I could still keep my chin up, knowing that I still played well, which was a good feeling. I knew I wasn’t the best, but I wasn’t the worst.

A couple of years later Titanfall came out, and again, I continued to excel. I would play along with other friends and even they would remark at how good my level of play was, which meant a lot, since I considered them to be much more skilled than I was. 

The following year I began playing Halo 5 and Gears of War 4, and again, I was competitive. Holding my own against the competition, landing in the top 3 more often than not, and occasionally being the top player in the match. 

It wasn’t until the release of Titanfall 2, that I can honestly say, and pardon my crudeness, that I became a big swinging dick in multiplayer, at the ripe old age of 36. 

Having realized that my advanced age has bestowed onto me remarkable strength and reflexes, I decided to put it to the test. I purchased Player Unknown Battlegrounds for my Xbox One.  

My first game in Player Unknown Battlegrounds landed me in the Top 10, which is excellent for a first time if I do say so myself. I’m not a fan of the game in retrospect, so I have no plans of returning. I took my Top 10 finish and retired with my head held high. 

Lastly, it’s Destiny 2 which really hits home that I’m some kind of Tom Brady of gaming.  

I found myself excelling in the game’s Crucible, even though I wasn’t a fan of it’s slow and prodding pace. In Raids, I was helping to carry my team, often times with the most kills and assists.  

I hope this doesn’t come across as bragging, because I honestly do not know where these skills are coming from. I’m not playing more than I used to, and if anything, I’m playing a lot less with all the projects that come along from buying a new house and having 6-month-old and 5-year-old daughters. 

One would think that as I got older, my reflexes would be dull and decrepit, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Maybe after years of playing, I’ve developed some kind of video game “Dad Strength.” 

I have heard about this mythical concept of actual “Dad Strength.” Perhaps you have seen videos online as seemingly normal looking dads accomplishing remarkable things. We’re just like real life super heroes. Pudgy, balding, super heroes, with bad backs, arthritic knees, and big low hanging balls. 

I can without a doubt confirm that actual “Dad Strength” is indeed real. I’m nowhere near as “fit” looking now as a man in his late thirties, compared to when I was a teen or in my twenties, but I can still lift the heavy weights if I want to. I’ll be at the gym and sometimes, I’ll rack up the weight, just to prove that I can still do it. Then I have to explain to my chiropractor why my neck and back are all fucked up.  Also, keep in mind that lifting heavy weights impresses no one, especially attractive girls in tight yoga pants. Turns out that a bald, bearded man with the perfect “dad bod,” doing super heavy squats is not attractive. 

I really do believe that I have developed some sort of video game “Dad Strength,” as there is really no other scientific explanation. I should suck at online gaming, and yet I’m better at it now than I ever was.  

I even excel at games where I have little to no experience. The past two weekends, I played my 10-year-old nephew in Madden 18. I haven’t played a live person at Madden in nearly 20 years while my nephew plays it daily. At half-time it was 30-0 and he didn’t want to play anymore.  

Perhaps I should’ve taken it easy on him, but I cannot help myself. He vowed to practice all week and that next time, he warned, I wouldn’t be so lucky. Sure enough, after talking a lot of smack during breakfast we fired up Madden again. I took it easy on him and he scored first quickly. As he rubbed it in, I flipped the switch and put up 35 unanswered points. He didn’t know what hit him. He could not fathom how his “old” uncle could be so good at this game. He was at a loss for words. I told him to keep practicing and “get good.” Sure, my wife said I should take it easy on him and let him win, but how else is he supposed to learn? 

Perhaps this is a blessing, since the thought of getting older terrifies me and I hate doing things that old people like doing. Trust me, I know, and see what old people do to keep themselves occupied, when I visit my father-in-law in Florida. He lives in an area we’re the age range is between 80 and “holy shit were you alive before the lightbulb was invented?”  

They love to golf, which I find mind numbing. They love to go to Indian Casinos and drop quarters into the slots, which I find a total waste of money. They like to garden, which I do only out of necessity, so that my neighbors don’t think that they live next to the Munsters. 

Perhaps the one thing that they do that I can tolerate is shuffle board, but only when I’m incredibly drunk. 

So, I don’t plan on giving up gaming anytime soon. I’m simply too good at gaming and getting better at apparently. Also, video games help slow mental decline. I think I’ll just keep playing, even when I look like a Caucasian version of David Lo Pan. Topping leader boards and beating down braggadocios whipper snappers is more fun than shuffle board and Parcheesi anyway. 

Game & Drink Pairings for the Discerning to Degenerate Gamer 

A couple weeks ago, I posted a blog for the first time since taking a hiatus. I’m not going to rehash this, but if you want to know why I was out, you may read about here. As with most of blogs, my wife likes to read them as well. It’s not that she finds them incredibly interesting or witty but rather she is checking my grammar and writing ability, since she fancies herself an English teacher. (Fun Fact: she’s an English teacher) 

So last week, after she told me that she read my latest blog and I asked her what she thought, she said that it was a bit more serious and somber than my usual posts and it seemed like I wasn’t trying to be funny and stupid. 

She was right. My last post was a bit of a serious entry and a departure from my normal writing style. Some may have been turned off by it. It’s like going to a heavy metal concert and the band decides to play a power ballad or some lame ass shit and everyone decides it’s a good time to go take a piss and grab another beer. 

Speaking of beer… 

Back in college, I had this amazing history professor. I remember the first day of class when I met him. He looked like your stereotypical history professor, right down to the tweed jacket with suade elbow pads.  

As professors invariably do on the first day of class, all he covered was the semester ground rules and the syllabus. He ended the class by saying that we were going to have fun, and history was great, but not as great as Guinness and that the dark stout was proof that there is a god and he loved us. 

Okay, so he was a horrible professor and probably an alcoholic, but it was the easiest ‘A’ in history I ever received. He was also a nice guy and I would bump into him every once and awhile at a bar by school. HUGE SURPRISE! 

So, it was right around this time in my life that I learned that imbibing in a merry brew or other assorted potent potable could be more about just getting black out drunk. An alcoholic beverage or two (or five) could be savored and paired with other things, enhancing the experience. 

For example, sipping a fine whiskey and smoking a cigar is pretty nice and not douchey at all! I can drink wine and eat cheese, olives, cured meats, and bread all day long, every day. Want a little advice, drizzle some honey on the cheese and shove that right in your face—you will not be disappointed.  

I even started drinking beer for the taste and to enjoy the craftmanship that went into the brewing process. Look at me! I have become so civilized. 

Given that life has become so busy now with two children in the house, I have found myself having to multitask the things I love. A cold beer or a stiff drink helps me to unwind after a long day as does a gaming session. Combining the two should be a match made in heaven as far as I’m concerned.  

However, some games pair better with certain drinks. For example, one wouldn’t drink a cabernet sauvignon with beluga caviar, unless he was some kind of CAVEMAN. We are civilized people here after all. 

So, for my totally unscientific and completely arbitrary study, I looked at some of the games I’ve been playing for approximately the past 12 months and paired them with the drinks that I feel make the most sense. To top off each entry, I will then regale you with an anecdote from my past where I drank too much of said drink, making a complete fool out of myself or perhaps experienced something whimsy. 

So, in not any particular order… PROST! 

Titanfall 2  Guinness 

Titanfall is a fine title, with a surprisingly good single player campaign, with a deep, satisfying, and balanced multiplayer. Whenever I’m in the mood for multiplayer, this is the title I turn to. 

Guinness, as it turns out, is always the drink that I return to as well. Beer is my drink of choice and I drink a lot of it. I’m not shy when it comes to trying new brands, because variety is the spice of life. With that said, there’s something comforting about Guinness. It’s a good standby that never disappoints, much like Titanfall 2. 

Back in my college days, I would visit a close friend who attended a different school up state. He was friendly with the rugby team and every year I was invited up to a big fund-raising bash where they would serve $3 pints of Guinness. However, since my buddy was close with the team, we didn’t pay a dime and got to drink as much as we wanted. What could possibly go wrong with that scenario? 

We started drinking promptly at noon and in a flash, we were having a good time. Eventually a pretty girl caught my eye and we struck up a conversation. Maybe there was a smooch or two at some point and she invited me outside for a smoke. Things were starting to get… interesting. 

I followed her out and she handed me her pack of cigarettes and a lighter. I lit two cigarettes up at once and handed her one, because I was cool and shit, and we continued the conversation. Then, in mid conversation, while we were standing in the middle of a parking lot, she reaches up under her skirt, drops down her panties, squats down and proceeds to take a piss, right in front of me. 

“WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?” I asked, clearly appalled.  

“Uh, peeing.” The girl nonchalantly slurred. 

I backed away and went back into the bar. Found my friend and told him we had to leave right, fucking, now. 

For the rest of the weekend, I was known as the guy who hooked up with the parking lot pisser. 

Madden NFL 18 – $3.00 40 oz. can of Bud Light from a NYC Pharmacy 

I used to play a lot of Madden football back in the day. It was almost like a signaling of the gaming season restarting after a summer off. The release of a new Madden meant that fun new games would be coming out soon and playing mindless video game FOOTBAAAAAW was a perfect primer to get back into playing regularly. Then I realized how mediocre these games were and took a 5-year pass on the series. 

I took a shot at the series again this year to play the Longshot story mode. While it was surprisingly fun and added a little something different, a part of me still feels like the title was not worth $60 I paid for it. 

The problem with NFL Madden 18, and all the previous titles before it, is that the franchise is hopelessly average, and this is coming from someone who is a football fan. The changes that come out year after year are so evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, that it is hard to get excited about it.  

With that said, people continue to buy this title year after year, so this franchise will never go away. There can be a thermonuclear war that wipes out civilization and EA will still find a way to release a new Madden. The only things that will be left are Twinkies, cockroaches, and new copies of Madden every year. MARK MY WORDS! 

In a way, Bud Light, which is the most blatantly mediocre of beers is the perfect match for the mostly blatantly mediocre of videogames. 

Know what else will be left after a nuclear apocalypse? Stock piles of cheap, watered down, yet surprisingly nasty, Bud Light. 

I used to work in New York City and had to commute in from New Jersey. That meant early mornings and late evenings commuting back and forth. The company I was working for was horrible, so the highlight of my day was buying the cheapest 40 oz. can of beer from the Duane Reade Pharmacy located in the bowels of Penn Station, and drinking it from a brown bag (CLASSY) during my train ride home. More often than not, the cheapest beer would be Bud Light. On rough days I would buy two cans and get sufficiently buzzed. I did this every day after work, and then found myself drinking regularly on weekends for no reason to boot. Finally, after a doctor’s visit for some anxiety, I was told that I was essentially going down the path of becoming an alcoholic, so it was time to cut down on the drinking. 

I eventually found a better job closer to home, working with Lizard People pretending to be humans, but I really didn’t cut down on the drinking, because my co-workers were so unnerving. 

YAY HAPPY STORY!  – Kind-of 

Horizon Zero Dawn – Fine Irish Whiskey 

Horizon Zero Dawn is a gorgeous open world action game that is surprisingly deep and at times wonderfully complex. It can be overwhelming at first glance, but give it some time, enjoy the beautiful graphics, and you’ll get swept away by it. 

Horizon Zero Dawn actually reminds me of the first time I was introduced to fine whiskey. A friend “taught” me how to drink whiskey while enjoying a glass of Johnnie Walker Black. I was told to sip and savor it, instead of drinking it down, enjoying the smoky, oak tinged essence of it. This is quite the departure from doing shots of Irish Mist and chasing it with Guinness, but things change. 

Over the years, I learned to try out different version of whiskies and bourbons. Much like Horizon Zero Dawn, a good whiskey is deep and complex. 

Back during my college days, I was invited by a friend to attend an “authentic” Saint Patrick’s Day party. I’m not sure what made it so authentic, other than we ate a lot off corn beef and cabbage and the drink of choice was primarily top shelf whiskey, chased by cheap beer. 

Anyhow, there are only a couple of things worse than getting drunk on whiskey. I now know that whiskey makes you into an angry, belligerent, stupid drunk, and you will have the worst hangover the following day.  Case and point, the party went from fun to a borderline brawl in just a couple of hours.  

My friend, of pure Irish heritage, who already had too much to drink decided that he would feel so much better if he just threw up. This is a perfectly fine idea when one had too much drink and knows it. The problem is, he decided to purge from out of the opening of a second story barn window. There is nothing more majestic than watching an Irishman vomit out beer, whiskey, and half digested corned beef and cabbage out of a second story barn window and onto a crowd of angry drunk men below.  

It is a sight that I will remember for the rest of my life, up there with seeing the Grand Canyon, Saint Peter’s Basilica, and the birth of both my children. 

Sonic Mania  Bartles and Jaymes Wine Coolers 

After years of miss steps, an honest to goodness Sonic was released that pays homage to the original while omitting human girl on anthropomorphic hedgehog action. 

Playing this game reminds me of my youth. I was 11-years-old when the first Sonic the Hedgehog came out on the Sega Genesis. Sonic Mania takes all of the good that I remembered from the original and none of the bad. It effortlessly infuses old with new creating a great modern take on the speedy side scroller. 

1991 was also around the time that I was introduced to illicit alcohol in the form Bartles and Jaymes wine coolers.  

I vividly remember a warm afternoon in the summer of ’91 playing Sonic the Hedgehog with my friends when the trouble maker of the group (not me, I swear) asked if we wanted to sneak some booze from his father’s garage fridge.  

We all thought this was a splendid idea and road our bikes over to his garage and each of us helped ourselves to a refreshing bottle of Bartles and Jaymes wine coolers. We then road over to a secluded section of a nearby playground and started sipping on our wine coolers, just like grown-ups do. 

Know what else grown-ups do? They smoke, and my friend had that covered too. He swiped a few cigarettes from his grandmother and we all lit up. Man, we were so cool drinking our wine coolers and smoking Virginia Slims in the playground.  

One of my friends, took a swig of wine cooler and had a loooong satisfying drag from his cigarette, he looked at me, and winked, almost to say that life doesn’t get much better than this… and then he vomited his Bartles and Jaymes wine cooler all over himself. My other friend did the same. Me and another managed to compose ourselves, but just barely. I rode my bike home, went to my room and skipped dinner that night, complaining of a stomachache. 

I wish I could say that I learned a valuable lesson that day and never had a drink or a cigarette again, but then I would be lying. 

Destiny 2 – Vodka & Red Bull 

 

Destiny 2 is my new infatuation. I enjoyed the first one, but it got old for me fast. Then one day I put down the original and never played it again. The new raids and DLC couldn’t even draw me back in. I can see that this is not going to be the case for Destiny 2. 

I don’t know if it is the inclusion of a semi competent if unoriginal story, which the first game lacked entirely, or the more streamlined leveling system, but this game has its hooks in me. I think about all day, waiting for the moment to have some free time to play. On the weekends, I’ll play late into the night, having to squeeze in just one more raid, one more patrol, one more public event, or just one more visit to the traveler.  If only there was a drink that could me sufficiently buzzed yet get me wired up at the same time so that I can continue playing into the wee hours. 

Do people still drink Vodka and Red Bull? The entire concept of mixing a depressant (vodka) with a stimulant (Red Bull) seems like a bad idea. Just the thought of drinking a Vodka and Red Bull now makes my heart palpitate. In the late 90’s and early aughts however, Vodka and Red Bull was just what the doctor ordered when hitting the clubs—that and Ecstasy.  

I wasn’t a big club goer but there was a short time where me and friends frequented them. It seemed like that was what everyone did back in the late 90’s and early aughts. Even if you weren’t into dancing, or hated dance music, you still went to a club, at least that was the case for me and my friends. 

Back in the day, there was three solid choices in New York City to go clubbing. There was the Limelight, which was perfect if you were a moody goth. The club was a converted church and they played dark trance music mostly. There was a legend there that clubgoers who went to the Limelight were at risked at getting poked by someone a with a hypodermic needle. Once you realized what was going on, a mysterious person would then hand you a black rose and whisper in your ear, “welcome to my nightmare.”  Legend has it, the needle was infected with HIV. Even if this is not true and just an urban legend, that is seriously fucked up. We didn’t go to the Limelight that much. 

There was the aptly named Sound Factory, which was your typical mega club that catered to mostly the bridge and tunnel crowd. There was a very good chance of bumping into your stereotypical Bobby Bachagaloop, Tony Bagadonuts, and their whole entourage from Long Island there. Make inadvertent eye contact with one of them, just for a millisecond, and they were ready to fight because you must be some kind of a “queerah.” Glance at one of their girlfriends and they were ready to fight because you also must be some kind of a “queerah,” which makes no sense to me, but apparently makes perfect sense to a coked-up juicehead from Ronkonkoma.  

Of course, there were a bunch of underground clubs that were super exclusive and normally required you to wait online for hours just to get turned away when you got to the door.  Fuck those places.  

Then there was the Culture Club, which was just kitschy stupid fun. This place was a theme club, essentially playing revamped 80’s dance tunes that were kicked up a notch as well as run of the mill dance and electronica. People went there just to have fun and there was very rarely any trouble. Seeing packs of girls on a bachelorette party was common, as were 21st birthday parties, and tourists. It was one of the few clubs where I felt relatively safe from juice heads from “Strong Island,” deranged psychopaths with dirty hypodermic needles, and Paris Hilton look-a-likes asking me if I had any coke. 

One night, while partying at the culture club, I already had a bunch of Vodka and Red Bulls in me, as well as god knows what else, all I know was I feeling incredibly euphoric and felt a kinship with everyone around me.  

Around 3:00 AM, the fire alarm goes off, the house lights come on, and everyone is ushered out by security into the streets. We were told that the club won’t be reopening for the night. Feeling a bit hungry, my group, and a lot of other club goers, made our way to street vendors selling your typical dirty water dogs, pretzels, and knishes.  

Nothing hits the spot better after a night of clubbing than street food. According to my friend, I struck up a merry conversation with two gentlemen dressed up as Boy George and Billy Idol. Who knows, they could have actually been Boy George and Billy Idol, I was too drunk and high to know any better.   

I have no idea what we spoke about, but according to multiple accounts, I bought both of them hotdogs and we talked about politics and sports for almost an hour. 

So, what are your favorite drink and game pairings? Have any depraved drinking incidents? Share them in the comments.