Dry February 2020

Last February I decided to forgo alcohol. Why? Because it’s the shortest month of course. Just four quick weeks and it’s over. Dry February 2019 was a rousing success and I decided to do a dry February for 2020. I had an exception: I would drink if the 49ers won the Super Bowl, and if they lost I would drink on the 29th because it’s a Leap Day and those are worth celebrating. Well the 49ers lost, so I’m eagerly awaiting the 29th to get back off the wagon. I think that’s how it goes… you’re off the wagon if you’re drinking and you’re on the wagon if you aren’t drinking. Right? I don’t know much about wagons.

Anyway, today is February 15th so I’m already past the halfway point. So far so good. I’m pretty much in the clear. The first two nights are the worst. I had major insomnia and sleep was hard to get. I mostly tossed and turned. I wouldn’t have survived if I didn’t have some good indica. Hey, I said a dry February, not a sober February. Get over it.

Not drinking gives me a lot more time in the day. I’ve mostly used it by catching up on Netflix, Disney+, and HBO. Not very productive of me, but it passes the time. The weather has been hit or miss, but I’ll take the dogs to the beach and the park when I can. I’ve been avoiding bars and parties which definitely helps eliminate temptation and saves me money. I went to the Heat vs Warriors game at the new Chase Center in downtown San Francisco. I didn’t get any beer but still managed to spend forty-five bucks on food and soda. The game was a blowout and the Warriors got crushed but it was still a fun night.

With two weeks down and less than two weeks remaining, I’m looking forward to March and my triumphant return to the wonderful world of booze. But I don’t plan on indulging as much as I did before. I’ll probably copy my friend’s approach to moderation. She gives herself three days of drinking then takes three days off. That sounds like the perfect balance to me. And if I stick to that plan there won’t be a need for Dry February 2021.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Life Below Zero

I’ve had Disney+ for a few months now and I’ve gotten pretty good at it. People ask me what’s worth watching. I’ll tell them the forgotten movies and hidden gems that they should check out. There’s a lot of buzz about Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars and stuff out of Disney’s vault, but not enough attention is paid to their National Geographic section, which is home to The World According to Jeff Goldblum and Free Solo. But the best show I’ve discovered so far is Life Below Zero.

Life Below Zero is a television documentary series about people living in remote areas of Alaska. The show follows their struggles and triumphs as they try to survive the extreme conditions of the Arctic Circle. When the closest store is hundreds of miles away, you have to rely on yourself to get food and water, to fix things that break, to maintain your shelter, all while dealing with deadly weather and dangerous animals trying to eat you.

It’s a great background show. You don’t have to pay too much attention to it. There’s no ongoing plot. You put it on, play around with your phone, and only glance up when something interesting is going on. I used to want to move to Alaska. It’s the last frontier. I went to Anchorage for three weeks in 2014 and I learned that I could never live there full time. But I respect everyone who does because it’s a tough place to live. Now I can live there vicariously through Life Below Zero. Watching other people living their life makes me feel more alive for some reason.

There are a lot of cool and interesting people on the show, but Glenn Villeneuve is by far the best. I can’t talk about the show and not mention him by name. He lives alone and doesn’t rely on any machinery. He doesn’t have a snowmobile or electricity. The most advanced technology he has are guns and hand tools. He truly lives off the land and it’s inspiring to see. He’s a badass and it’s too bad that he’s not in every episode.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Panhandling on the Bus

I was on Muni (San Francisco’s public transportation system) the other day and a homeless guy got on and started begging for money. He had a whole spiel about how he was down on his luck and needed enough money to buy a breakfast sandwich and maybe a small coffee. His delivery was monotonous and robotic, you could tell that he used his speech all the time. He had it down pat.

All I could think was that he was begging the wrong crowd of people. We are all schlubs on the bus with him. Why are you asking me for money? My broke ass is taking the bus for a reason. Go ask the guy driving the Tesla to work. He’s the one with extra money.

Critically Rated at 7/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Jason Moore

Let me preface this story by reminding everyone that I’ve been in the service industry for more than fourteen years. I’ve heard a lot of interesting requests. A few days ago I had a customer ask me for drink I’ve never heard of before. She asked me for a glass that was half Sprite and half lemonade. She apologized for not remembering the name of the drink. I told her I don’t think there is a name for it. She insisted that there was.

We mentioned the usual suspects. Arnold Palmer: half iced tea, half lemonade. Shirley Temple: Sprite with grenadine. Roy Rogers: Coke with grenadine. John Daly: an Arnold Palmer with vodka. It wasn’t any of those. I went ahead and made her the half Sprite half lemonade and dropped it off. Then I pulled out my phone and googled “Half Sprite half lemonade” because curiosity is a bitch.

I scrolled down for a bit until I found a single post with that recipe. It said that a half Sprite half lemonade was known as a Jason Moore and that the name originated in Arizona. The post had zero votes and zero credibility. But I mentioned the name to her and she said it was right.

I asked all my other coworkers if they have ever heard of a Jason Moore. Nobody had any idea what I was talking about. I asked a few coworkers at my other restaurant if they had heard of it. They were also blissfully unaware of Jason Moores.

I did more research and saw that it’s a known drink on UrbanDictionary.com and it only has one post describing it. It was posted in September of 2016 and it only has four likes and one dislike. The one dislike was from me, so there really isn’t much online presence for this so-called mocktail. I’m contributing to its online presence with this blog post right now.

I never knew about the Jason Moore drink. I don’t know who it’s named after. Well, it’s obviously named after Jason Moore… but who the fuck is Jason Moore? Anyone in Arizona have any ideas? Is he the mayor of a small town? Maybe a bored bartender with one moderately successful creation? The world demands answers.

By the way, I made my own Jason Moore to see what all the fuss is about. It’s meh. I’d rather have an Arnold Palmer. Who am I kidding? Make it a John Daly.

Critically Rated at 8/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Natural Light Seltzer

It’s 2020 and we live in a world of hard seltzers. Brands like White Claw, Truly, Spiked Seltzer, Smirnoff Spiked Sparkling Seltzer, Henry’s Hard Sparkling Water, and Wild Basin Boozy Sparking Water are flying off the shelves. It’s a crowded marketplace and more brands are throwing their hat in the ring.

Natural Light decided that they wanted to play too. They came up with Natural Light Seltzer. I was reluctant to try it. Natural Light isn’t a brand known for high quality. It’s for college kids and amateurs. But Natural Light Seltzer has a few good things going for it. Number one: it’s cheaper than the other brands. Number two: it’s got a higher alcohol percentage. It’s 6% ABV, most of the other seltzers are 4.5% or 5% ABV. Cheaper and stronger? Yes please. The third good thing about it: they have great names.

There’s Aloha Peaches (described as When Mango & Peach Go Beach Mode) and Catalina Lime Mixer (described as When Cherry & Lime Become Best Friends). I always enjoy a nice Step Brothers reference. I like both the flavors but I prefer the Catalina Lime Mixer. Aloha Peaches is a little too sweet for me.

I will always prefer beer over hard seltzers, but I find myself drinking more seltzers and fewer beers these days. My local 7-Eleven has a deal on two 25 ounce cans for $5.10. That’s fifty ounces of booze for under six bucks. That’s a hell of a deal, especially for San Francisco. Can’t go wrong with that. Unless you’re driving.

Try it. Or don’t. I don’t care. You do you.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Watchmen (HBO Series)

Watchmen is an HBO live action series based on the iconic graphic novel created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. It takes place in an alternate world where superheroes are real and cellphones don’t exist. It is brought to the silver screen by Damon Lindelof, the same guy who co-created Lost and The Leftovers. He knows how to tell an exciting and intriguing story with amazing characters. It’s HBO’s best new show of 2019 for a reason.

I had a bit of a head start when it came to watching the Watchmen (see what I did there?), because I own the comic and the Zack Snyder film adaption, so I’m quite familiar with most of the characters and the world they inhabit. Lindelof gives the show a twist by making it take place thirty-four years after the events of the comic. Some original characters return, some are missing, and there are new characters to learn about. Regina King leads a stellar cast that also includes Jeremy Irons, Tim Blake Nelson, Louis Gossett Jr., Don Johnson, Jean Smart, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Hong Chau just to name a few.

The first season consists of nine episodes, each one running about an hour. It’s meant to be a complete story so it ends with a satisfying conclusion. They still set it up for a potential second season, but this season could be all we get from Lindelof and I’m ok with that. There’s nothing wrong with perfection.

As usual, I will refrain from talking about the plot. It takes a few episodes to get going. There are a lot of characters to introduce and it takes time to discover who they are and what they want. It’s nonlinear with lots of flashbacks and reveals. I was intrigued by the show before it aired and I tried to hype it up to my girlfriend, but she didn’t read the comic and wasn’t impressed with Snyder’s film version, and I ultimately watched the whole show without her. When I finished I wanted to watch it again, this time with her. It was too good not to share.

I made her watch the first episode last week. Then Christmas chaos rolled around and we were too busy to watch anything. We were finally free last night and we binged three episodes in a row. It didn’t matter that she didn’t ever read the comic. That shows how great the show really is. When we watch it, we actually watch it. Like our phones are turned off and we pay attention to the television screen and nothing else. It’s not just for comic book nerds, it’s for anybody who likes action, mysteries, villainous plots, philosophy, alternate histories, and blue wieners.

Who watches the Watchmen? People with good taste. Like me. You should have good taste too. Watch the Watchmen. And spread the word. Everyone deserves to have blue wieners in their life.

Critically Rated at 17/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by by Brendan H. Young

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A Pen He Saved…

I couldn’t think of anything to write about, so I opened my Notes app on my phone and went looking for ideas. I found one. It’s the story of my friend from work. He’s a server too and I noticed that he had an apron full of pens, with each pen being a different type and brand. I asked him why they were all different. He told me that he never buys pens. He takes the one that he finds and adds them to his collection. He rescues them and makes them his own. Smart guy. I guess that’s why they say a pen he saved is a pen he earned.

I crack myself up.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Taking Your Shirt Off at the Barber Shop

I had to get a much needed haircut yesterday. I went to the local barber shop and there were a few people waiting in line before me. One of them was a local guy that I’ve seen around the neighborhood, and we started making small talk. He seemed like a pretty normal dude. Then it was his turn for his haircut. He got up, approached the chair, took off his shirt, and sat down. The barber didn’t say anything, she didn’t even blink. It was clear that he was a regular and this was his routine.

It was bizarre. I’ve never seen anyone strip down at the barber before. I get that trimmed hair gets itchy when it falls into your shirt, but you’re supposed to bear with it until you can take a shower. Showing off your nipples and back hair seems a little excessive. I’ve seen a lot of weird things in the city. Taking your shirt off at the barber shop is on the list now.

Critically Rated at 5/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Laura Linney’s Boobs in Love Actually

The holidays are here once again, and that means my girlfriend wants to watch Love Actually everyday. She put it on the other day and she started watching it with our roommate. She kept trying to get me to watch it with them, but I’ve seen it before and didn’t want to suffer through it again. At one point in the movie, Laura Linney takes off her shirt and has a brief nude scene. My girlfriend mentioned that Laura Linney’s boobs were on screen thinking that would entice me to watch it.

It definitely did not. I think I can speak for all straight males when I say that Laura Linney’s boobs are not a selling point. They do nothing to attract an audience. It’s a big waste of a nude scene. Especially when other cast members include Keira Knightly, January Jones, Elisha Cuthbert, Claudia Schiffer, Denise Richards, and Shannon Elizabeth. But somehow they thought we wanted to see Laura Linney’s boobs? I don’t get it. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go watch American Pie. Or maybe Wild Things. They have nude scenes that sell a movie.

Critically Rated at 4/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Counting Toothpicks

A few years ago my friend was at my house and he knocked over a cup of toothpicks. The toothpicks fell on the floor and scattered everywhere. He looked down at the mess he created and said, “Aw man, I just dropped thirty-two toothpicks on the ground!”

I thought that was an oddly specific thing to say, so I counted the toothpicks. Lo and behold, there were exactly thirty-two toothpicks. I was amazed. A real life Rain Man in my own home! I had to test his skills. I grabbed a handful of change from my dresser, threw the coins on the floor, and asked him how many coins there were.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I just guessed how many toothpicks there were.”

And just like that, my sense of wonder shriveled away. I was duped. There is no magic in the world. Well played, Jon. Well played.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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A Bad Beach Bonfire

My old roommate and his girlfriend invited me to a bonfire last week. There’s a popular San Francisco spot on Ocean Beach with a bunch of fire pits available to the public. My roommate works at Beach Chalet which overlooks the fire pits. Each night he works he looks out and sees all the fires glowing in the distance and it inspired him to have a bonfire of his own.

So he called me up, invited me out, and he swooped by and picked me up, and the three of us went out to the beach with a box of wood. We parked the car, got out, and went in search of a fire pit. It was around 7:00 PM and it was already dark but we could see four other fires burning in the area. We walked around looking for a pit using the flashlights on our phones but couldn’t find any and gave up after a few minutes. We dug our own pit in the sand, while commenting how weird it was because I just saw the fire pits when I was there a few weeks earlier. Oh well, whatever, let’s dig a hole.

It was pretty windy out, but we managed to get the fire going. We laid out on the sand, cracked open some beers and a bottle of wine, listened to classic acoustic hits on Pandora, and caught up with each other. It was cold and breezy but the good company and roaring fire was making it an enjoyable evening.

And then a man emerged from the darkness and approached us. He clicked on a flashlight as he got near, revealing himself to be a cop. He asked what we were doing and where we were from. We answered by saying that we were having a fire and that we were locals. He retorted with, “Well, if you’re locals how come you didn’t know that fire season is over? Didn’t you think it was weird that you couldn’t find any fire pits?”

Ugh. Damnit. We failed. The cop went on to lecture us for a while before giving us an ultimatum: either get a citation or go to jail. We chose the citation. We turned off the music, sadly poured our precious booze over our beautiful fire, covered the embers with sand, and slinked away.

We walked in darkness back to the car. We glanced back over our shoulders and saw the cop approaching another bonfire. Those flames slowly died out as another citation was given. Cars get broken into, houses get robbed, people get killed, but rest assured the police are making bonfires on the beach a top priority. Your tax dollars at work.

Critically Rated at 5/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Watching TV With Subtitles On

My roommate has the unfortunate habit of watching TV with subtitles on. He always turns on closed captioning whenever he watches a movie or television show. He says it makes it easier to pay attention. I wholeheartedly disagree. Why would you watch an epic Marvel movie in high definition and turn on subtitles? A constant text scroll distracts the eye from the amazing visuals and special effects. I want to watch what’s happening, not read what I’m hearing.

He says that it’s normal. It’s not. That’s why you don’t see closed captioning in movie theaters. That’s why you have to go into the settings and manually activate it. It would come on automatically if the majority of people preferred it. But he insists on turning it on whenever we watch something. And inevitably halfway through the movie he stops watching. He’ll start playing on his phone or leave the room to lay down in his bed, leaving me to suffer through the unnecessary subtitles that he insisted he needed.

I understand that a lot of people like them. A lot of people like killing puppies too (they usually work at PETA). You have to recognize evil in order to stop it.

Critically Rated at 1/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Ben Foster’s Head

Ben Foster is an actor. He’s pretty successful at it. He’s had a pretty good career. But he has a weird shaped head. His head kind of flares out at the temples. They stick out almost as much as his ears. A head is not supposed to look like that. He needs to file down his skull a little bit but I don’t think you can do that. He’s doomed to have an unusually shaped head for the rest of his life. We need to acknowledge that Ben Foster has a weird shaped head. The world needs to know.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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What The Mandalorian Ending Means (Spoiler)

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Disney+ launched a few days ago. One of their original shows is The Mandalorian, the first live-action Star Wars series. Directed by Jon Favreau and starring Pedro Pascal as the titular bounty hunter, the show’s first episode has a twist ending that’s taken the internet by storm. I’ve seen several articles and YouTube videos trying to explain the ending and what it means. ***Spoiler Alert!!*** The target was Baby Yoda. And it means Disney is going to have a whole bunch of Baby Yoda merchandise available for the holiday season.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Fire in Paradise

Fire in Paradise is a 2019 Netflix documentary about the devastating Camp Fire that destroyed the town of Paradise in California. Real survivors recount how they escaped with their lives, complete with actual video and hear 911 recordings. It’s tough to watch, particularly the tale of two teachers trying to calm their terrified students as the world burns around them. Or when a cop talks about the longest shift of his life. Or when an old woman talks about seeing fire and brimstone rain down from the sky.

One clear takeaway is that these fires are the new normal. And it’s our fault. They are a result of building where we shouldn’t be building, living where we shouldn’t be living, and climate change. Climate change. It always comes back to that. Listen to Greta. She might be onto something. The documentary is short, only 40 minutes long, so you have no excuse not to watch it. Watch it and hope you never have to experience it.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Saying “We” About Your Team

There is an ongoing debate about whether or not a fan can say “we” when referring to their sports team of choice. Some people say you can’t say “we” because they aren’t on the team. I think that you can say “we” as long as you’re emotionally invested in your team.

I grew up as a San Francisco Giants fan. My parents are Giants fans, like my grandparents before them, practically my whole family are Giants Fans. I remember when the Giants won the World Series in 2010, my sister and I went to the victory parade, and my aunt thanked us for representing our family.

That’s what the San Francisco Giants mean to my family. They are a part of our identity. That allows me to say “we”. I’m entitled to it. They are a huge part of my life. We won the World Series three times in five years, and you can’t take that away from us.

Saying “we” about your team is totally acceptable as long as you don’t switch teams when yours doesn’t make the playoffs. We all know bandwagon fans that only support the Patriots (and once upon a time, the Yankees) because they have a lot of rings. Win or lose, your team is your team. When they win, you feel good. You’re sad when they lose. You get nostalgic when you watch old highlights or reminisce about where you were watching when the clinched the championship (unless you’re a Mariners fan).

On a side note: I think you can only have one team per sport or league. That’s a fair compromise. You can’t say “we” about everyone.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Bathroom Line

I was just at my regular dive bar of choice after a stressful Friday at work. I had a quick round, paid out, and had to use the bathroom before I headed home. My bar isn’t usually too crowded, but it’s Fleet Week so the place was packed. I could see the two single-person bathrooms from where I was sitting and noticed there were three women chatting amongst themselves in front of the bathrooms. One of the bathrooms opened up one of the three women went in. A minute or two later she came back out and rejoined her conversation with her two friends. I got up, picked up my bag and things, and walked to the vacant bathroom and opened the door. And then the lady who just used the bathroom snapped at me and yelled that there was a line for the bathroom.

I blinked at her.

“She’s in line!” She slurred, pointing around one of her friends.

I said “OK”, stepped back, and let her friend go ahead of me. Then I turned back to the instigator and said my piece. Not sure of the exact phrasing but it was something like: “Just so you know, I was sitting down over there. I saw you three standing here and talking. I saw you use the bathroom. I saw you come out of the bathroom. Nobody else made a move for the bathroom. I got up, gathered my things and walked over here. I opened the door to the bathroom, and then you yelled at me that there was a line. If there was a line, she would have gone into the bathroom as soon as it opened up. That’s how bathrooms lines work. You didn’t have to yell and you didn’t have to be rude.”

I was pretty articulate about my points and my reasons were pretty valid. Her only retort was something about me not having thick skin. I guess I don’t. But I have to be nice to rude people all day at work, so I’m not going to take any bullshit when I’m off the clock.

I’m not a line cutter. There was no line. I’ll believe that until my heart stops beating and I take my final breath.

Another guy came up and tried to open the door to the other bathroom. I had to tell him that there’s a line and a line monitor and he needed approval from her. I’m petty, I know. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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