Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

Magical Mystery Caffeine

April 13, 2011

by Thomas M. Pender

I’ve often bragged that I’m addicted to absolutely nothing, except my children.  Without giving illegal or dangerous addictions even the respect of a mention, I’ve actually evaded the all-American addiction of caffeine.

This has a good news/bad news effect.  I like the fact that I am not in need of caffeine, and that I can drink as much or as little as I want without any unwanted side effects.  I don’t like the fact that when I do need something in my system to keep me alert, I have nothing to turn to.

I knew once I graduated from college that I would never touch coffee.  I’ve heard that most people start drinking the sludge either in the military or in college, and all for the purpose of staying awake.  Personally, I believe I’m immune to caffeine’s electricity.  On the few desperate occasions that I’ve downed Mountain Dew after Mountain Dew in an effort to stay awake, I’ve never been rewarded with any kind of energy boost.  I can send two liters of Coca-Cola down my gullet, and crawl into bed for a long night’s nap.  While in college in the ‘80s, Jolt Cola was introduced, and I have to believe that college campus sales alone kept the company afloat.

Jolt was basically a gag product.  It said right on the label “All of the sugar and twice the caffeine!”  It was as if the marketing team behind it was laughing at the American consumer, saying, “Go ahead, we dare you.  Buy this in public, so everyone will know that you are a junkie.”  Yet, it sold like spiked hotcakes.

Not like my friends.  Their good news is that the crud is waiting for them every morning, whether at work or home (or on every street corner now!).  Their bad news is that they cannot function without it (and are, thus, addicts).  I know several human beings who advise others not even to say “hello” to them until they’ve had one entire coffee and about 20 minutes for it to work its alchemy on their nerve endings and vocal chords.  It’s rather sad.

Unless you’re me.  Then, it’s rather humorous!  (Insert evil echoey laugh here.)

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“Beastly”: The Title Is Its Own Review

March 25, 2011

by Thomas M. Pender

I really wanted to like this one.  The trailer was very interesting: a modern teenage version of “Beauty and the Beast,” in which a popular hunk insults a witch (or would she prefer “Wiccan”?) and she repays him by taking away his outward beauty.  Lots of potential here to be a hip-but-meaningful classic.

But, alas, no.

It wasn’t the actors who ruined this film.  I was very impressed with the young cast, though I hardly knew anything about any of them.  The only one I recognized was the rather noteworthy Mary-Kate Olsen (yes, that Mary-Kate Olsen, half of the Olsen twins, but flying solo here) as the witch/Wiccan.  I was a pretty quick fan of Alex Pettyfer (recently of I Am Number Four), too, in this first film I have seen him in.  The female lead Vanessa Hudgens (of the High School Musical series) was also good.  The incidental characters are also skillfully played by Neil Patrick (TV’s How I Met Your Mother) Harris and Lisa Gay (The Soloist) Hamilton.  No, the cast can’t be pointed at for this miss.  It was clearly the writing.

What should have been a deep and intelligent turn of a fairytale was so rushed (it tells a yearlong story in 86 minutes . . . which is only 40 times the length of the trailer and includes the running time of the credits, for heaven’s sake!) that the audience doesn’t have time to feel anything.  Each scene seems to be a change of season, and the main characters appear to fall in love in the time allotment of a coffee break.  Even though the writer (Daniel Barnz, who adapted Alex Flinn‘s novel) is to blame, his mess makes everything else messy by association.  The actors deliver incredibly dopey shortcut lines, which I believe will insult teenagers’ intelligences as quickly as they did my own.  Such lines leave a bad impression from the characters, and though they can’t be blamed, the actors are most associated with the characters, so you do feel them to be a bit dopey themselves for attempting such tripe.

From settings to makeup and costume design, Beastly has some really rich elements, but it zips by you like a commercial, and leaves you feeling a bit cheated.  You wonder if there shouldn’t be a discounted ticket price for an abbreviated film.

The good news is that since the advent of the outdoor rental machines, it won’t cost you more than a buck or two to check it out in a few months when it hits DVD.  There is plenty to appreciate here, but do yourself a favor: watch it in slo-mo, and make it last a bit.

Ten Signs It’s Spring In Georgia

March 22, 2011

by Thomas M. Pender

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10.)      You see lots of school kids wearing coat-and-shorts combos in the morning

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9.)        Without warning, the temp zooms 20 degrees and the entire state gets a head cold

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8.)        Talk of snowfall stops immediately, as everyone’s yard and car are blanketed with yellow pollen

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7.)        Bumble bees and wasps loiter in your neighborhood, waiting for Michigan to warm up

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6.)        All of outdoors smells of lilacs . . . and suntan lotion

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5.)        Our old friend Humidity returns from vacationing in Cuba

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4.)        Men sweat, ladies “glisten”

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3.)        Less coffee, more sweet tea

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2.)        Hawks shirts disappear, Braves shirts re-emerge

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and

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1.)        Winnebagos with Ohio plates now fill the northbound side of I-75

No Immunization For Addictions

December 29, 2010

by Thomas M. Pender

With New Year’s Eve fast approaching, thoughts turn to parties, drinking, extra police on the roads, drunk drivers and other forms of holiday “merriment.”  Every year about this time, I’m also reminded of a lame modern view of those who love to drink too much.

I am addicted to nothing, unless my sons count.  I’ve never sampled an illegal substance, a cigarette, or coffee.  I smoked one cigar once, and only because a depressed friend wanted to talk to me over cigars, and I found it an incredibly useless exercise.  There is nothing chemical that my body feels it needs, or rebels violently against if it does not get it.  I’m very proud of this.

On the other end of the spectrum, in my “Oh, the mail I’m gonna get over this!” opinion, are those who do have addictions, but instead claim they have a “disease.”  This is insufferable.

Random House Webster’s College Dictionary defines a disease as “a disordered or abnormal condition of an organ or other part of an organism resulting from the effect of genetic or developmental errors, infection, nutritional deficiency, toxicity, or unfavorable environmental factors; illness; sickness.”  Where exactly does it say in there anything close to “Dumb choices people make about voluntary behavior which later effect the brain and cause addiction”?

The big culprit here is alcoholism.  This is the one that I hear connected with the it’s-not-my-fault tag of “disease” most often.  I don’t recall getting inoculated for alcoholism in grade school.  I’ve never heard of a single case of someone catching alcoholism when an alcoholic coughed on him.  These incidents would indicate that the condition is a disease.  None exist.

People “catch” alcoholism when they choose to drink, choose to keep drinking, and choose to continue to keep drinking.  These are idiots, not victims.  Should they be pitied, prayed for, and helped in any possible way another person can help an addict?  Absolutely.  Should they be enabled by saying, “It’s okay, I understand you’ve caught the alcoholism bug.  It’s not your fault”?  Absolutely not!

Some would say I’m being harsh or cruel, being a man who has never suffered an addiction.  To them, I say that this condition is what’s known as “smart.”  I’m too intelligent to voluntarily stick something in me that I know in advance will cause me harm and lead to addiction.  End of analysis.

If you are an alcoholic, or any other form of addict, use your New Year resolution to better yourself, for the sake of yourself and those who love you.  Don’t buy into the excuse that some imaginary germ exists that forced you to drink.  You’re better than that.

I hope everyone has a safe New Year, and an amazing 2011!