So there I was last Thursday night, minding my own business at two o'clock in the morning, waiting for my girlfriend to get home from work. Jimmy Kimmel had already come and gone, and there wasn't any TLN softcore with which to divert from my consciousness the fact that I was sitting at home alone, sober no less, on the first night of the long weekend. Aimlessly channel surfing, I eventually stumbled upon a little program on the Outdoor Life Network called Don't Forget Your Passport. I'd never seen the show before, but this particular episode was about a good Canadian lad traipsing down the Amazon river, and seeing as I'd been on a similar jaunt almost a year ago to the very day, I figured that this show was just as good an opiate as any.
It didn't take long for the host to win me over. Like I said, he was a likeable lad; a simple country boy, some might even say a cockeyed optimist (a latter day Billy Mumphrey); who was pretty well willing to try anything once. But he endeared himself to me for life on one of the boat rides along the Amazon when he candidly confided in the viewer while staring off into the jungle on his way down river: "This is a dream come true for me... Ever since I was a little kid, going through my parents' National Geographic magazines looking for topless native women, I've always wanted to come to the Amazon..." He then turned to the camera with a sly, giddy smile, and added: "Let's hope we see some." How could you not be hooked?
Anyway, after spending a night with a Shaman and knocking back some pseudo-toxic and 100% vomit-inducing, halucinogenic Ayahuasca (we have a bottle of that stuff stashed away somewhere - couldn't be more illegal) in a traditional Ayahuasca ceremony, our lovable host ventured off to a small remote village, not unlike one of the small, remote villages that Sandra and I had ventured to in our travels. He was immediately greeted by one of the village women, and when she offered him a drink of their traditional beverage, Chicha, my first reaction was: "Holy Shit! That's the same thing we drank!" When he went on to describe the taste as sour, and a little bit milky, I knew that we were on the same wavelength.
When Sandra and I had enterred this village last year, we were given a giant bowl (probably about 2 litres worth) of this chicha drink, and told that it was the natives' traditional drink and that it was custom for visitors to drink it along with the villagers. I, not unlike our innocent TV host, thought nothing of it, and began slurping away. It wasn't the worst thing in the world, and I was all for trying new things and upholding ancient customs. It wasn't until Sandra pointed out, after her miniscule sip, that the drink was in all likelihood made with river water, that I decided to hold back on the imbibing. I had consumed about a third of the bowl by that point.
Which brings us to this past Thursday, on Don't Forget Your Passport. Our lovable host, slurping away at his bowl with tears in his eyes, described how the beverage was made: "The local women chew the manioc root for awhile and then spit it into a metal bucket, where the regurgitated root, with the help of the women's saliva, is allowed to ferment for a number of days..." (Please see title of blog)
I thought that maybe he was just fucking with me, so I did a little web-based research, and sure enough:
"In the Amazon tribes of Ecuador and Peru, the natives prepare a local manioc based drink that is fermented with saliva. This is as thick as soup, but is more of a froth. Whenever visiting a local village it is quite probable you will be offered some to taste. Remember it is an insult to reject it."
By the way, this dude is quite possibly the bravest man I've ever seen.
I guess I can always tell myself that I was just doing everything in my power to avoid insulting the locals, but needless to say, round about two-thirty this past Friday morning, a bowl full of Amazonian river water was sounding pretty damn refreshing.
Hey, if you had a nifty little blog that nobody read, would you post the fact that you spent the better part of this past Good Friday alphabetizing your record collection and then watching Mr. Holland's Opus on the W Network while drinking a double bourbon in an attempt to keep your eyes from sweating? Me neiter.
So anyway, Ronnie, Flats, and I headed over to Flats' buddy Murph's place this past Friday night for a couple of pre-game beverages before heading out to The Drake. Joey Rigo (The Portugese Bomber) was putting out a feeler on Sunday night's Velvet Underground interest, and after Murph introduced Ronnie and I as "The Boondock Saints" to all of his lady friends, he proceeded to line up a round of shots for us so that we could all pour one out in memory of BJ (Ronnie's pet turtle who recently found his way to that great big pond in the sky). I think we did a round of some kind of Scotch, followed shortly thereafter by a round of Canadian Club (did not go down well), the two of which were intermittently washed down with a number of Frankie D specials (went down even worse). Combined with the bourbon I'd earlier slugged back while watching the Opus, I was feeling pretty gingerly by the time Murph's roomie, Zvon, busted out his bottle of Absinthe.
Now, I'd never sampled Vinnie Van Gogh's choice spirit before, and to be honest, it wasn't my intent to do so on the fateful night either. All I wanted was to get a good whiff of the stuff, merely to get an idea of what it smells like. Like I'd done a thousand times before, I casually walked over to the bar and twisted the cap... It was one of those needle-getting-ripped-off-the-record moments, as the entire party turned to look at me, having just twisted off the cap of the never-before-been-opened bottle of Absinthe. I felt like a real dick, I really did, but Zvon came running over right away, laughing his bag off, saying: "Hey man, you opened it. You have to drink it." Fair is fair, right? I thought nothing of it, and knocked a big ol' shot back. The rest of the night, as you might well imagine, is pretty much a blur.
At some point, realizing that I was essentially incapable of taking care of myself, Zvon took Flats aside and asked him to look out for me for the rest of the night. Apparently Flats did just that, because before I knew what was happenning, I was back at my place, listening to the La Bamba Soundtrack (freshly alphabetized), and waiting for a cheese pizza to arrive. Sandra said it was hands down the drunkest she'd ever seen me, which is truly saying something. I vaguely remember passing out on the couch, and when I woke up in the same place at noon the next day, I simply assumed that I'd been unconscious and unmoving the entire time. But Sandra said I made my way up to the bed at some point, only to wake up in the middle of the night to head back to the comforts of the lonely couch. I have absolutely no recollection of any of this, but my phone and my wallet were scattered across the floor in the bedroom, so I must have ventured up there at some point.
At Sandra's bar the next day, she took an informal poll and learned that not a single person had known anyone to drink absinthe and not be the drunkest they'd ever seen them. And after last Friday night, I'd have to agree. Because I really didn't drink that much (Frankie D draughts and multiple shots for reptiles aside), yet I managed to tip the cabbie $5 on a $5 cab ride (something I never do), and I tipped the pizza guy $5 after they already charged me $4 for delivery (something I would never, ever do). So there must be something to that Absinthe stuff. Someone once told me that drinking Absinthe was like snorting cocaine; and like Rick James said...
I must say that the Leaf/Habs game this past Saturday night was one for the ages. It was about as exciting a hockey game you could ever hope to have, and the closest thing the Leafs will experience to a Stanley Cup for quite some time. An epic battle all around. If there were only one hockey game I was going to watch this year (there were two), that would be the one.
But to tell you the truth, after the boys in blue got pasted on the Island last Thursday night, you knew that there was no way in hell the Leafs were making the playoffs. And to be honest, with everything they had riding on Thursday night's game, to come out playing like that? They probably didn't deserve to be in there anyway. But regardless. The Buds needed the Devils, on the brawny shoulders of Scott Clemmensen, to somehow pull out a win against the Isles on the last day of the season. Everyone knew it wasn't going to happen, but it was worth checking in on during commercial breaks of the Vegas and Malaysian Grand Prix's respectively (there was a great deal of auto racing viewership going on in Dornoch this weekend - Dornoch, by the way, is the unofficial home of the 2007 Canadian Beirut Championship. More on that later). When it was 1-0 Islanders after two, we pretty much figured it was over and began the longish drive back to Toronto. When we got the update informing us that it was 2-0 NYI with six minutes to go, we decided we'd made the right decision by getting a head start on the drive, and immidiately began delving into the Leafs myriad problems as if we were Norm Rumack and Billy Waters sharing a bar stool at happy hour, wholeheartedly agreeing that they needed to "blow the whole thing up."
Ten minutes later, I got a call from a frantic Mike Foley, screaming: "TELL ME YOU'RE WATCHING THIS!!!" I told him that we were in my car, halfway through a sixty-minute-super-set of Barrie's best classic rock, so, no, we were decidedly not watching this. When a code-blue suited Foely explained what had gone down, Ronnie and I immediately pulled into the next town, sprained our ankles leaping right back on the bandwagon, and went searching for an establishment in which to watch the overtime.
Now, you may know the quiet little village of Flesherton, Ontario as "the gateway to the Beaver Valley", and that Flesherton is home to the annual Split Rail Festival every September. But what you probably don't know, is that there isn't a single friggin' place to watch the most important non-Leaf hockey game of the year. Honest to God. Ronnie and I pulled into town, parked the car, and then ran up and down the main street, poking our heads into every conceivable place - restaurants, cafes, video/convenience stores - at the odd chance that they might have a TV going. All to no avail. I mean, forget the fact that they didn't have the game on. I can live with that. The town is kind of in a remote area, and not everybody gets TSN, and blah, blah, blah... But how is it possible that on the main street of town there isn't a single bar? I mean, I'm all for good clean country living, but how the hell could you live in a town that didn't have a bar? Isn't that worse than a town with no cheer?
In any event, we missed the entire overtime and shootout, which was probably for the best. I have always hated the shootout, and am still confused as to where that extra point magically appears from (3 points for a win in regulation, 2 and 1 if it goes beyond sixty minutes. You can't have it any other way. The absurd manner in which it is presently set up goes against the general theory of relativity and just about every other model we currently have for the universe - matter (ie, points) can't simply appear from nowhere. Energy can be neither created nor destroyed. Any of this ringing a bell? E = mc fucking squared? Could somebody please fax Gary Bettman a copy of the document explaining the laws of conservation of mass and energy? Thank you.)
Anyway, it was pretty funny how much of a heathen I felt like running through the main street of a picturesque town at 6pm on Easter Sunday, cursing the place for not having a bar for us to go in and drink in. Happy Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Day.
By they way, just in case you were wondering, this is what a winning NCAA bracket looks like:
And finally, here is a fantastic little piece chronicling the Girls of Beverly Hills, 90210. Flats recently turned me on to this website, and despite the fact that I can physically feel the brain cells marching single file out my ear every time I check in, I just can't seem to help myself. Enjoy.
Just so you know, the post I wrote last night was infinitely better than the one you just read. But aren't they always. I apologize.