CONCHA Y TORO WINEMAKER’S LOT 148 CARMENERE—Perfect for the antepenultimate Day (unless your mother is going to rip your heart out by “gifting” it to one of the kids’ teachers)

Scarybear says when we see the flash two days from now, we have to immediately fill the bathtub with water. He read that in The Road. Scary adds: Isn’t it typical of our parents that they haven’t bothered to stock up on water or provisions for the coming Apocalypse?

DSCN2776I’d been ignoring the countdown to Armageddon because it’s been feeling like Armageddon already. Plus we’ve had things to do, like planning P’s birthday party at Captain Kid’s indoor hellmouth fun centre, trying to figure out why the middle section of our Canadian Tire Christmas tree doesn’t light up, and getting ready for our holiday road trip to Vancouver Island. What with Santa breakfasts, mall shopping, and the fact that every other kid at school has decided to have a birthday party this week, things are pretty freaking busy at LBHQ. Oh yeah, and there’s this big dump of snow this morning—a phenomenon our city is totally unready for. Traffic is a disaster, there are only a handful of snowplows in the entire Lower Mainland, schools are closing (OMG! Nooo!), and if we get half a foot more of it they’ll declare it an official emergency (like, for real). Yes, we are f#cked when it snows in this part of the world, because it so rarely does. We don’t know how to drive in it, we don’t have the tires for it, braking hard on a skid seems to be a natural Vancouverite intuition, and half the drivers don’t need to be on the road—they’re trying it out for the sheer novelty of it.

Scary says we’re really screwed now because Mum won’t drive to get provisions. This is true—if there’s one person you don’t want operating a car in the snow, it’s my mother. But at least, Scary says, we’ll have snow to get water from when everything goes dark on Friday.

Scary’s obsession with water is starting to freak me out. He seems to have narrowed down his apocalyptic speculations from many (collapse of the vacuum, solar flares, asteroids, rogue black holes, gamma rays, volcanism, magnetic field reversal) to one: nuclear annihilation.mushroom cloud

I wish Scary would read books that weren’t about the end of the world. I would happily lend him a bartending guide or some Nabokov if he’d have it, but he won’t. (Maybe he will in two days, but he says it will be hard to read by candlelight, and that reading will be an absurd luxury anyway.)

Right now, Scary says, it’s important to do Meaningful Things. Society is ending, and we have to treasure those things that are Important. For example, Scary is going to binge-watch Stargate, because that was always his favorite.

“Well,” I said, “I’ve been saving a bottle of CONCHA Y TORO WINEMAKER’S LOT 148 Carmenere (2010). That would be perfect for Apocalypse Eve, wouldn’t it?”

“Wrong, weirdo,” he said. “That would be dehydrating. On December 22 we’re going to be rationing water. Don’t expect any extra because you’re hung over.”

Who made Scary the boss of the Apocalypse, I don’t know. How does he even know that wine would dehydrate us? I had no idea myself. Let’s investigate this, my fellow inebriates.

Does alcohol cause dehydration?

OMG, apparently people have known about this for years. Shakespeare mentions it in the Macduff-Porter scene about erections:

PORTER

‘Faith sir, we were carousing till the second cock. And drink, sir, is a great provoker of three things.

MACDUFF

What three things does drink especially provoke?

PORTER

Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep, and urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes and unprovokes. It provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance.

He said "cock."

He said “cock.”

Alcohol does make you pee. But why?

The diuretic quality of alcohol is still not fully understood. According to Dr. Karl:

After all, beer is about 95 per cent water and only five per cent alcohol. And the liver converts that five per cent of alcohol into roughly the same mass of water and some carbon dioxide.

So if you drink 200 millilitres of beer, the end result is 200 millilitres of water. But you don’t urinate just 200 millilitres of urine. No! You urinate a total of about 320 millilitres of urine.

What the hell? Dr. Karl says that for every shot of alcohol, you pee an extra 120 mL. Where does it come from, my fellow inebriates?

Alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to regulate water levels.

Ordinarily your pituitary gland releases ADH (anti-diuretic hormone) to keep water in the body (based on electrolyte levels and so forth) so you don’t get dehydrated. ADH curtails peeing. But alcohol reduces your ADH production, sending you on multiple bathroom trips. Even if you try to catch up by drinking water, you don’t get to keep that water—most of it will get tinkled out, and you’ll still end up dehydrated.

And, according to Scary, it’ll be your fault if you get hammered the night before Armageddon and end up thirsty. Smart survivalists like himself will be hoarding water and looting grocery stores. (“Idiots like you, LB, will be looting liquor stores and HMV.”)

OMG, Scary is mean sometimes. I do realize there won’t be any electricity. But liquor? Liquor could have its uses.57911_469184923103527_1148624302_n

That bathtub of water is going to get pretty crappy pretty fast. At least it won’t have traces of bathroom cleanser in it, though—it doesn’t occur to Mum to scrub it very often. We just have to get the kids to stop peeing in the tub. Still, within a couple of days of the blast, that water will have all kinds of floaties in it. We’ll be wanting some beer then, I reckon.

But beer’s dehydrating, isn’t it?

Not if you’re already dehydrated. Then other bodily regulatory forces will override the dehydrating effects of ADH, to a point at least. And beer is 95 percent water, so you’ll get to keep at least some of it. “Yeah,” says Scary, “but water would be better, douchebag.”

Okay, so what about our bottle of CONCHA Y TORO Carmenere? Maybe we should drink that tonight rather than on Apocalypse Eve.

But OMG, according to my mum, it’s not our bottle. “That’s for V’s kindergarten teacher.”

Holy crap, we’re giving our wine away to teachers??

“We really like V’s teacher.”

This is the end of the world.

Concha y ToroWe’ve had this CONCHA Y TORO Carmenere before, and it is luminous. Inky and full-bodied, it wafts generously layered aromas of black cherry, espresso, leather, and floral notes. Decadently concentrated yet incredibly complex, this Carmenere is epic on the palate—supple and smooth, structured and long-finishing. This wine is a powerhouse of fruit orchestration, commanding your attention from first to final, reluctant sip (if you had an absorbent paw, you could get the last of it that way, knowing no one will be operating the Maytag after December 21). And at a $20 price tag, this CONCHA Y TORO offering is all the more magnificent.

Personally, I think V should be doing long division and reading Beowulf if we’re giving her teacher this particular bottle.

“LB, don’t be a dick,” said my mother.

“He can’t help it,” said Scary.

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BAVARIA 8.6 RED—Strong enough for apocalyptic thirst

My Fellow Inebriates,

Our new (old) house is full of silverfish! They scurry across the bathroom and kitchen floors and counters. OMG, they are so gross, people. Do you have silverfish? What the hell is the deal with these little suckers?

My mum didn’t want to talk about them. It takes her 15 minutes to stop shuddering after killing one. So I asked my friend Scarybear.

Scary says silverfish are harbingers of the End of Days. “They and all their fellow Darker Animals are in charge of Priming the World for the post-Apocalypse after all Good Animals such as Bears have lost their Lives in an All-Out Battle with the Dark Forces of Evil.”

“And how long do we have left?” I asked.

“Thirty-six days.”

If this sounds mighty theological, Scary insists it’s not. He’s far too big a Gene Roddenberry fan for that. But he feels just as entitled as Billy Graham to cherry-pick the best (most dramatic) scriptural snippets as apocalyptic fuel. He believes, for instance, that where the silverfish are most numerous there must be a Hell Mouth—probably in one of the bathrooms. Maybe both.

My dad says silverfish like eating cardboard, and that if we ever finish unpacking and get rid of our boxes they’ll go away.

Wikipedia says silverfish actually like the adhesives in cardboard packaging. They’ll also chow down on photos, paper, sugar, coffee, hair, carpet, clothing, and dandruff. If they’re hard up for food they’ll attack furniture, leather, and synthetics, or even eat their own moulted exoskeletons. (According to Scary, “only a Dark Creature would do that.”)

All that starchy food must drive them into wet areas. We all know how thirsty junk food makes people and bears, and presumably these disgusting bugs are no different.

Scary shrugs at this observation; he thinks a Hell Mouth makes the most sense.

One thing is certain. We can’t even discuss thirst without mentioning BAVARIA 8.6 RED. An import from Holland, this marvelous strong red lager is rich and deep—and 7.9% alcohol. The aroma is malty-caramelly with a subtle touch of fruit. Brisk carbonation meets malty sweetness on the palate—not super-complex, just big and satisfying: a boozy belt with a lingering toffee aftertaste.

Our camera charger is still MIA, so I went scoping for a photo of this lager and found one on Beer Advocate, which advised me not to use it (so I didn’t), but while I was there I noticed BAVARIA 8.6 RED had taken a shit-kicking from the good reviewers at BA. It’s probably the lowest-rated beer I’ve ever seen there. This was a big shock. It was like being told there might be a Hell Mouth in the bathroom. One minute you think you live in a normal house whose paranormal activity rates about a 3 or 4 on the freaky scale. Next thing there’s an effing Gateway to Hell spewing out silverfish and other servants of Satan so they can devour hair-dye and sanitary-napkin boxes.

Regardless of Beer Advocate’s damning of BAVARIA 8.6 RED, I stand by this Dutch brew. It’s super-friendly and easy-drinking without being thin or sour or macro-like. Whatever the BA beer geeks are getting from it, I’m not. I LOVE it, people. And not just because one can is enough to get wasted with. I love it for its own sake.

5 ways to help your anus thrive

My Fellow Inebriates,

Running out of alcohol feels like the end of the world, which—especially here in 2012—got me thinking about actual Armageddon.

How will it come when it comes?

Are we prepared? What does “prepared” even mean when we’re talking about wholesale annihilation?

Sobriety is a bitch but I have to admit it makes it easier to read Discover Magazine. I like the way Discover’s Phil Plait (Death from the Skies!) calculates the odds of each of ten flavors of cataclysm occurring. In a way it’s reassuring—in a way not. Then again, the only proper reassurance is a headful of booze to make his scary ideas go away.

But I’m going to deal with one of them today: asteroids.

Phil Plait calculates 700,000:1 odds of anyone dying from an asteroid impact. Those are vanishingly long odds, considering you have 18,000:1 odds of being murdered (and 2:1 odds of getting away with murder; consider that). Chances of a meteor crashing into your particular house? Try 182 trillion against. Chances of you getting hemorrhoids? You just need to be the lucky 1 in 25.

So it doesn’t make sense to worry about an asteroid slamming into the planet. Nobody used to fret about it, even with the 1908 Siberian event as a cautionary reminder that there’s an asteroid belt out there between Mars and Jupiter that slings the occasional city-size chunk at us. Plenty of asteroids have grazed us over the years, but we were blissfully ignorant. That or we realized our close call after the fact. Some of them, like the bus-size rock that glanced by us on Wednesday, would have disintegrated in the descent through our atmosphere. Others, such as 1,300-foot-long 2005 YU55, which whizzed within lunar distance last November, needed only a little English on their trajectories to take out entire cities.

Holy shit, how often does this happen?!

Well, it doesn’t occur nearly as often as painful hemorrhoidal itch does. Hemorrhoids are an absolute epidemic compared to asteroid hits. Worse still, your odds of getting hemorrhoids increase if you enjoy binge drinking. Tales of alcoholic woe abound:

  • …everytime i go out and party and drink alcohol in mass quantities at somepoint the hemorrhoids protrude. By the end of the night I feel them sticking out and the next day because of the irritation they tend to bleed…It only happens shen drinking alcohol. Help please!!
  • every time i have a drink the next day i see blood on the toilet bowl which is very scary…. i tried to quit drinking but its not that easy… i am only 22…. i was hoping to get surgery but i dont know yet…
  • it felt like as if there was something popping out, like as if i’m going to soil myself but it’s actually just the hemoorhoids getting bigger which makes me panic a bit…when my body temperature rises in a warm environment they start to get irritating…also when i drink alcohol they get worse and i’m running to and from the toilet a lot

Leaving aside the profound effect hemorrhoids seem to exert on spelling and punctuation, they do sound like a dreadful death knell for the party lifestyle. What are the wretched things anyway?

Also known as piles, hemorrhoids are painful lumps that result from excessive anal pressure. In addition to causing the ass to bleed, they interfere with comfortable pooing, and the unfortunate social stigma they carry often causes sufferers to avoid seeking medical attention or even purchasing soothing ointment. One of my mother’s friends was so embarrassed by his affliction that his hemorrhoids ran rampant until he finally shoplifted some Preparation H because he couldn’t face the drugstore cashier.

I should mention that he has an enviable liquor collection and rec-room bar. But is curtailing his drinking the only way to rid himself of the burning sensation of hemorrhoids?

Of course not—how silly that would be, and how intolerable. Here are some medical recommendations:

  1. Get some exercise. This would of course include grinding away at a dance club. (Did I mention my friend Julia Gale of Broker’s Gin recently injured her knee at such a discotheque, gyrating to Love Shack by the B-52s while her colleague Petronella looked on aghast? Julia, who described the injury as an “alcohol-fuelled” form of “self-expression” is going under the knife this week to repair the damage. This sounds infinitely worse than hemorrhoids, although of course the latter can eventuate in surgery too.)
  2. Eat fiber. This makes it easier to flush stool out of the rectum, alleviating anal pressure. Have your breakfast oatmeal with Jack Daniel’s instead of just having Jack Daniel’s.
  3. Drink plenty of water. This softens your poo, which also eases pressure on the anus. If you have hemorrhoids, it’s okay to water your scotch.
  4. Defecate regularly. I guess this means you need to make an effort instead of waiting for your business to slide out on its own.
  5. Avoid heavy lifting. This means modifying point #1 to exclude weightlifting. I’ve heard of compound exercises recruiting multiple muscle groups, but who knew the anus helped with your deadlift too?

And of course there are all sorts of other ways to strain the anus. You may have a favorite way, or even several favorites. The important thing is to realize that your anus needs a rest now and then. It is your friend and you mustn’t mistreat it.

But is alcohol necessarily contraindicated for hemorrhoid sufferers? Scientific reports conflict, besides which they are brain-numbingly full of numbers and terminology. I couldn’t make any sense of them at all, but they do conclude that alcohol’s contribution to hemorrhoids is dose-dependent. The upshot is that there’s a definite sweet spot when it comes to drinking—an amount that will allow you a few drinks yet permit your anus to thrive.

OMG, what amount is that? you may well ask. Sadly, I don’t have a clue. I don’t even have a functional anus, my friends.

But don’t envy me just yet, because there is a dark side to lacking an anal cavity.

It means my odds of getting hit by an asteroid are greater than my odds of getting hemorrhoids.

OMG!