Friday, June 29, 2012

Movie Pitch: "Martin Luther"

Pew pew, mah brothuhs and sistuhs.
Nick and I do a lot of drinking. Most of it happens standing around the kitchen/living room area on The Humboldt's ground floor. This being a phenomenal venue for Intellectual Discussions of Great Rigor and Turgidity, we have some highly productive sessions. Others are spent laughing at foul-mouthed cartoons. We contain volumes. But our movie discussions are the best; something about that second drunk person in the room does wonders for the creative process. What follows isn't our first idea or necessarily the best, but it's the most immediately marketable. It's my take on these recent "wacky historical bullshit action movies." Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter would be the most topical example. The 1860s were arguably our nation's most fascinating decade and the public seems to have limitless appetites for Civil War material. The 1960s were also up there for fraught decades, so why not bring them together?

Working Title: "Martin Luther"
Oh hey, it's Stringer Bell!

One-sentence synopsis:  The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. goes back in time to fight the Civil War.

Character List With Ideal Actors, in order of appearance:
MARTIN LUTHER KING: Idris Elba (perfect mix of gravitas and action-hero believability. Also, being English, his Mississippi-inflected public speaking will be amazing)

GOD: this is the easiest, most obvious casting choice of all time. Morgan Freeman. Book it.

CAPTAIN RODERICK VAN STUNTINGWOOD, leader of a U.S. Marshal team. He's a nice fellow, but got his post through family and is so hopelessly patrician that nobody will mind when we kill him off at the end of Act 1. The part will be played by Shia LeBoeuf, who needs to play more onscreen characters who suffer violent deaths.

MUNCIE COLLINS, "CHICKEN" MACTEETERS, AND ALDO BUCADIBEPPO, three other U.S. Marshals. Muncie is a slow West Virginian, Chicken is a fast-talking Boston Mickhead, and Aldo is a wacky gregarious Italian immigrant with a penchant for circus knife tricks and fine cooking. They are a blend of ethnic and national stereotypes, particularly Aldo because I'm a sucker for ridiculous Italian people. I don't actually care who plays these guys; just nail the stereotypes and they'll be fine for comic relief.

"'Supporting Actor,' my ass."
GENERAL ULYSSES S. GRANT: Denzel Washington. "But Tony, that makes no sense! There were no black generals in the Civil War, and this man went on to be President! Making him black just throws the United States' history out the window!" Oh noes, I've pierced the fragile bubble of historical authenticity that previously surrounded my "MLK battles Satan in the Civil War" story. Would you like to see Denzel play Ulysses Grant and get a bunch of action scenes? Yes, of course you would. Everyone would. Let's move on.

FOXY YOUNG WIDOW WHO TEMPTS OUR HERO: Megan Fox. She's hot, white, believable as a jezebel figure, and isn't too proud to take minor demeaning roles in big action movies about The Doings of Men. See: every single role of her career.

JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY: Chris Pine. He's got the looks, action-movie cred, and comedic timing. Dunno if he could pull off the strange way JFK talks, but a professional Hollywood diction coach should get us to a passable Mayor Quimby rip-off by the time shooting starts.

"And a capital evening
to ALL Y'ALL."

GENERAL NATHAN BEDFORD FORREST/VOICE OF SATAN: Benedict Cumberbatch. Ghostly-white, weird, aloof and sinister. I bet the guy would do a great Satan, and as General Forrest he'd give us the greatest/most awful English-to-Southern accent transplant since Kenneth Branaugh in "Wild Wild West." Which will come up again before this pitch is over, I promise you.

Note: You may notice I've reunited two of the three stars from Glory, the fantastic 1988 film about the Union's first all-black regiment. To that, I say: it's Morgan and Denzel. Fuck you.

Plot Outline:
We open in 1968, with a montage of contemporary TV stock footage of the King assassination. Zoom out to a shot of an actual TV playing this footage in a stark white room. MLK is watching it, as if in a dream, wearing a white suit. Looking around, he sees he's in Heaven's waiting room and realizes he's died. God enters the room and tells MLK he has a problem: Satan is intervening in the Civil War on the side of the South, by possessing General Nathan Bedford Forrest (later the founder of the KKK) and using demon magic. Before MLK can go to his eternal rest, he has to go back in time and save America from falling into darkness.

The religious angle is necessary for the integrity of MLK's character. We need to overcome MLK's famous pacifism rooted in Christian tradition: only God could ask him to own faces like this. As for Satan's influence on General Forrest, keep in mind that people in the South actually have fond feelings for the Confederacy. They're rooted in a wacky backwards-ass tribalism, but that's why it's the South. You can't portray folk heroes as tools of Satan, so we have to pick someone already renowned as an evil motherfucker. Finally, the religious angle lets us explain away time travel, gives MLK a soft landing in the past because God can hook him up, and lets God grant MLK superhuman combat powers like Denzel's character in "The Book of Eli." But God's power isn't limitless in the Satan-tainted past, so if MLK dies in the past he'll fall straight to Hell where Satan wants him for his life of adultery.

Appearing in 1863 at the height of the Civil War, MLK is given (by God) a background story and position in Lincoln's government. He's a U.S. Marshal, placed on a small team of Marshals sent into enemy territory in pursuit of Confederate paramilitary raiders. On the way south, MLK and company meet up with General Ulysses Grant and some of his men. Near its destination, the train comes under attack from the very same raiders MLK is hunting. After an awesome battle across the train (horses can be used as well), the raiders are driven off by MLK and General Grant. Captain Stuntingwood is killed in the battle and MLK's God-infused combat prowess (and awesome public speaking!) makes him the natural leader. They go their separate ways, and the band of Marshals journeys deep into the woods of Tennessee.

MLK and the Marshals discover a raider camp and jump them for questioning. They learn about a large secret base where General Bedford is pursuing an important project. Before they can act on this information, the Marshals are jumped by raider reinforcements. MLK manages to escape, but his comrades are taken prisoner. Alone and wounded, he hikes through the woods looking for help. Being in Confederate Tennessee, MLK needs to avoid both the raiders and the civilians. He eventually collapses, and is taken in by a foxy white lady who's recently widowed and lives alone. MLK recovers but refuses to sleep with the white lady when she wants his business. He feels guilty about his past indiscretions, but she accuses him of being a racist and kicks him out. Wandering down the road, MLK finds a disoriented white man. Recognizing him as JFK, MLK greets him and discovers he's been sent by God as aid, and as punishment for his own life of adultery. "But you died years before me!" "God said not to ask dumb questions. He's God." The two inveterate poonhounds go off in search of the secret base.

They track some raiders to the base entrance. JFK steals a uniform and pretends to be bringing MLK in for questioning. Once inside, they sneak to the heart of the base where a giant 19th-century steampunk 'mech is being built. You read that right: a mech, a bipedal combat robot. Think the giant walking spider machine from "Wild Wild West," only slightly less ostentatious and more purposeful. MLK and JFK split up, the former going to rescue the Marshals while the latter keeps searching. JFK finds a secret Satanist ritual chamber below the mech construction pit, and learns that Satan is planning to transfer his essence from General Forrest's body into the mech itself. From there, he will have a new body to become a god on Earth and eventually dominate all of man. But JFK is caught by Forrest himself, who mortally wounds the Prince of Camelot and completes the ritual. MLK rescues his fellow Marshals, but is powerless to stop the new Satanbot from destroying the base and tromping away. MLK fights his way through the raiders to JFK, who tells him the whole plot and dies. Last words: "Ask not what your country can do for you...(cough)(retch)(grabbing MLK's lapels and pulling him close)...ask...what you can do...for your country!"  BOOM. Emotional moment.

Enraged and sick with grief, MLK owns the shit out of a dozen raiders with a cavalry saber. He's yelling Revelation verses or some cool Old Testament stuff. Towards the end, as his rage is at its peak, the saber bursts into flames and starts glowing. The effect fades afterwards, but the sword remains inscribed with Heavenly runes. Our man's got a flaming sword: belee dat. With the rest of the Marshals, he hijacks a freight train and rushes back to Union territory ahead of the relatively slow-moving Satanbot. Before long, MLK re-unites with General Grant who is about to commence the Battle of Chatanooga (November 1863, the major victory that made Grant famous across the Union. I've already put more thought into this outline than went into the entirety of "Prometheus." Ugh, that was a disappointing flick).

MLK explains the situation to Grant, who's naturally skeptical. The Battle of Chatanooga starts, and the Satanbot arrives. The Union forces are on the verge of all-out retreat and desertion. MLK delivers a ridiculously awesome MLK-style speech, though we probably shouldn't use any of his actual famous lines because that would be offensive (unlike, say, making Dr. King a character in your absurd Hollywood time-traveling action movie with undertones of blaxploitation). The Union soldiers charge into battle, and give MLK the time he needs to battle the Satanbot. The flaming sword is the only weapon that will damage the unholy-enchanted machine, so we're gonna have a sweet "Shadow of the Colossus"-style boss fight. MLK will have to make his way up the massive machine, slowly but surely, destroying crucial components with the flaming sword as he goes. Eventually he's able to bring the Satanbot down, but The Foe of Mankind isn't so easily vanquished! Satan appears as a shapeshifting apparition, warping between the appearances of all the people who dogged MLK from Bull Connor to James Earl Ray and eventually...HIMSELF with a violet glowing sword. (horns and strings crescendo)

Glowing sword duel ensues, and the real MLK is victorious. Falling to his knees, MLK apologizes for plowing all those skanks. God appears, though only MLK can see him, and tells him order is restored to time and space. MLK asks about JFK, who appears on cue as an angel. "I was an angel all along," he says, "I just wanted to motivate you, to help you when you needed it most." But why, MLK wants to know, did JFK go directly to Heaven while he had to endure this terrible trial?

The answer: "Because I'm Catholic, obviously." CREDITS. Skrillex.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bridging Your Summer Sports Gulf

The NBA Finals are over, and suddenly it's upon us. The Summer Sports Gulf--like bankruptcy, death, and drug crashes--happens slowly, and then all at once. Sticking with the drug metaphor, the NBA playoffs are one of the country's annual sporting "highs:" spots on the calendar where awesome and important sporting events are concentrated. Two questions to ask when evaluating sporting highs: 1) Is at least one major American sport in elimination/playoff mode? 2) Are there games on TV at least four nights per week?

Under these criteria and using large volumes of science, we see that American sports culture peaks during two six-week periods. The first comprises NFL Weeks 15-20: the last three weeks of the regular season and the first three of the playoffs. Games are on four nights per week (NFL on Monday/Thursday/Sunday and college football on Saturday). Sunday becomes a truly special ritual, where grown men will get up early and don ridiculous jerseys better suited for children. They (we) check their (our) fantasy teams, monitoring injuries and tweaking lineups in the precious hour before games get rolling. Woe betide he who starts Ben Tate behind a healthy Arian Foster. And when college dies down, oh hey! Wall-to-wall NFL playoff games on Saturday AND Sunday for three weeks before the Super Bowl Chattering Bullshit Week. Or, as it's known in the Palumbi household, the Week of Rumination On How The Pats Might Blow This Game And Break My Heart. Yes, I know we won a bunch earlier. IT'S NEVER ENOUGH FOR DON DRAPER. Sorry, scratch that. I don't watch "Mad Men" and Drew Magary has really staked out the all-caps sentence territory. He's like the dude in your crew who maybe didn't wear the fedora first, but he's rocking it best and everyone else needs to put their stupid hats in the closet for now.

The second "high" is, more or less, the entirety of the NBA playoffs. There are playoff games every single night, and the NBA's talent level is so high right now that even the blowout series produce some quality moments. Meanwhile, baseball is fresh and new in the background. We haven't yet learned that our teams are dreadful go-nowhere crockpots of mediocrity (2011 Giants, 2012 Red Sox). And while the NFL playoffs are uniquely intense, the NBA produces the best stories. We see the players make faces and react on the court, the stars are more important, we identify more with them and the drama is more pronounced. Football is an industrial game, basketball is a beautiful game, and that's what makes this second period so amazing. But like the best highs, it carries a brutal crash. You start to notice the comedown before Game 3 of the Finals, where they take a two-day travel break. Suddenly, when you've been used to basketball every other night (at least!), there's two days without. "Whoa," your brain says. "This is less fun than we were having a minute ago." Yes, brain, but you see, we're running out of sweet sweet basketball cocaine to put up our eye-nostrils. Enjoy these last bumps while you can! And I did, though the Thunder collapsed and didn't give us the Finals we really deserved (take it to six at least, guys! Come on! Daddy's got a sandwich bet on this!) But now it's all gone.

So what to do now? Baseball's in full swing and it's on every night, more or less. But it's baseball--great to watch every night through the end of June, but the innings start to blend together. Like the fantastic South Park episode, "The Losing Edge," wherein the prospect of an entire summer playing baseball makes the boys conspire to lose. Baseball is fun for a while; after a certain point it's just an endless succession of set pieces and guys standing around. It is, for all its various joys (there are many!), a game of standing. And I just can't do it all summer long. So I'm assembled some suggestions on how to spend your annual involuntary vacation from Awesome Televised Sports.

Get A Life
I'm going to get this out of the way quickly. There are people out there who compulsively fill their schedules with things like hiking and barbeques and non-court-mandated community service. My sister is one of those people; she says "yes" to everything because--get this--she actually ENJOYS large segments of the human experience. My sister does not watch sports on TV, because she has other things to do. So if you're one of THOSE people, this might not be the article for you and frankly I don't know how you made it this far.

Tour European Music Festivals
These things rule pretty hard. Whether it's the population density or the culture or whatever, Europe has a ton of enormous annual music festivals with, like...GOOD lineups. Folks around the Bay Area go nuts for the various festivals that come through here, but the Euro venues are larger and the lineups just wreck their American counterparts. The Treasure Island Music Festival just announced its lineup for this year, and the Saturday headliner is...Girl Talk. A fucking hippie with a laptop, playing other people's music through a PA system by hitting buttons on said laptop. I assumed this dude's star would fade to "mid-range Youtube celebrity" about five years ago, but apparently some people's lives are so boring that they'd rather hear mash-ups of familiar songs than actual creativity. The Sunday headliner is a band called "The XX," who appear to be a pack of mumbly limeys who use synthesizers but aren't danceable. If this video is any indication ("Guys, nobody move! Ever!") they will be about as exciting live as the somnolent Silversun Pickups.

In contrast, I was awake at 8am last Saturday and managed to catch a fantastic live set from Trivium, playing at Graspop in Belgium. They were playing a mediocre time slot on a side stage, because even Trivium (the best American hard rock act since Metallica) can't get good booking when Judas Priest is playing the main stage. You see the difference from Treasure Island? Judas Priest are legends. Girl Talk is a gimmicky loser. The XX are sullen teenagers without even the testosterone to play loud music.

Get Yourself In Shape
With the Supreme Court about to punch a Scalia-sized hole in Obamacare (known to literate human beings as the Affordable Care Act), one thing is clear for our generation: we are fucked. I mean, anyone under the age of 35 who's been paying attention to the world instead of acquiring iPhone apps and expensive sipping liquors already knows this. But if you are lucky enough to have health care now, it's not going to be the same in ten years. The purchasing power you THINK you have is eroding by the day; America is currently a two-class landscape where either you have employer-sponsored insurance, or you don't. It is compelling, when you have health care, to assume you always will. The last thirty years of rolled-back worker compensation and protections, however, shows us the opposite. So enjoy yours while you have it, Jack, and ignore the plight of the rest of us until you become the rest of us. BUT I DIGRESS (sorry, Drew).

In a landscape without health care, you have to take care of yourself. I've never been offered employer-sponsored health insurance in my life, and it's unlikely to happen any time soon. I've developed a lifestyle conducive to health and preventative medicine, because you must understand: if you get seriously ill, you are going to bankrupt yourself and possibly your family. With your Summer TV freedom, it's time to apply these changes. Here's how I roll, as somebody who has not received medical care since a round of antibiotics in 2005 (and rehabbed a fractured ankle on his own without professional medical care!):

--Eat a lot of spinach. Another cheap green might suffice, but the iron, fiber and other nutrients in spinach are hard to beat at that price range. And remember, the economy is probably going to get worse as the filthy Euros spend their time at music festivals instead of paying taxes.

--Exercise by running. Maybe you've got a gym membership, but gyms are lousy wastes of money and centers of VENEREAL DISEASE. Also, nude old men in the locker room. Our ancestors didn't have gyms, so we don't need them either. Push-ups, crunches, and running is all you really need. Running in particular is key: burns calories, boosts energy, and it's the natural way our human forbears got their exercise. Because their food didn't sit still.

--If you get hurt, use the Internet for rehab. What do doctors know, anyway? Orthopedic injuries can basically be separated into two groups: serious structural damage, and Other. If you've got the former, fine: you'll probably need a medical pro. But if it's the latter, like my ankle (minor structural damage), that x-ray isn't showing shit. You'll need an MRI to really see what's going on, and that's about three times pricier. What's more, nobody will give you an MRI without first x-raying the region, so you're paying for that x-ray too. Point is, medicine is for when something is seriously wrong. Otherwise, you can probably take care of it. People used to survive smallpox (okay, most of them died) without anyone knowing anything about the human body! They'd just drain your "humours" and send you back into the Factory of Tuberculosis and Finger-Slicing Looms.

Become Involved Politically
Our country faces an enormous choice in November. On the one hand, we've got the sitting incumbent who muddled his way through enormous crises and opposition so intransigent a less-gentle nation would have bludgeoned them with baguettes and sent them to the guillotine. On the other, we have a man whose primary qualification for the office is being richer, more ambitious and less principled than anyone else he faced in the primaries. I'm sure rank-and-file Mormons aren't happy that the country's most prominent LDS member is a shameless liar in the pursuit of worldly power; a phony so transparent that it's not even considered a criticism any more. I'm sure they are embarrassed about that, just like they were embarrassed by the hateful scam that was California's Prop 8. They're just not embarrassed enough to say a word or lift a finger to oppose this man who daily exposes their faith as a cult in the pursuit of riches and sexual dominion. But hey, maybe God will come around on that whole "bearing false witness" thing. Just like He changed His mind about black people in 1978!

I'm an Obama supporter, but we have to be real about this: the circumstances (SCOTUS using Fox News talking points to strike down the ACA, Europe imploding because of the very austerity the GOP wants to impose) might end up making that November hill too steep. That's why we have to hedge our bets, and start supporting Mitt Romney.

The mighty Jon Chait gave me this idea when he pointed out that the economy might actually fare better under Romney, because Romney doesn't actually believe his anti-government rhetoric. Once the GOP is on the hook for economic performance, they'll swiftly return to the classic neo-Keynesian framework used by sane people everywhere. They don't actually oppose government aid to the economy; they just opposed it when it might benefit Barack Hussein Obama. So we need, as a people, to harness Mitt Romney's utter lack of convictions for our own purpose. The man doesn't actually care about public policy; he just wants to be president (similar to the way the LDS leadership agreed to stay silent on his temporary pro-life stance in Massachusetts--having a Mormon in power was more important than upholding dearly-held principles. Very Christian). He'll do and say whatever will gain him the most.

Downside: an Etch-A-Sketch president lacking any convictions or discernible human soul (the human-soul thing is a problem for Mormon men, I've noticed). Upside: potentially the most responsive public figure in the history of democracy! Pump up Pericles all you want, but that man had a lot of his own ideas. Mitt labors under no such burdens. If we really get behind the Romneybot and throw our cash into electing him, how can he refuse We The People? Billionaires can shill for him (thanks, John Roberts!) but once Mitt's in office popular support will be more valuable than campaign funds. And it's not as though he's got his own convictions with which to oppose us. So let's get on board for Mittens and take back America by (indirect) force! It might feel dirty, but this is clearly something to file under "hate the player, not the game."

Wrap-up paragraphs suck; you read the piece, right? Thanks for doing that. I'm going to try and update this more, because one of my part-time gigs dried up! *economytrollface*

Monday, June 18, 2012

Rejected: Extreme Fatherhood

Extreme Fatherhood
"Rejected" is a new series wherein I post things that have been utterly rejected by reputable publications, but remain too cool for consignment to oblivion. This was a Father's Day piece written by my father and myself, and intended as a newspaper column. I have added some crude jokes because this is the Internet.

Leo Tolstoy wrote that all happy families are alike; unhappy families are each unhappy in their own ways. While celebrating the human conception of fatherhood, we can also look to the natural world for perspective. Most land animals parent their young in familiar ways. But those in the ocean, more diverse by far, have thrown out all the rules.  Like miserable Russian aristocrats, each has constructed its own hair-raising family structure. Seahorse males do the single-dad routine, trucking their offspring in a belly pouch like an underwater kangaroo. But their genetic relatives, the pipefish, are incorrigible cads. If they spy a more attractive mate, they’ll simply abort their own embryos for a better roll of the genetic dice.

The first step towards becoming a father is finding a prospective mom. Conspicuous consumption is popular among both humans and fish. Tropical damselfish work to clear patches of the reef, scrubbing them clean and aggressively claiming the territory. Females peruse the offerings, and lay their eggs on the best before departing forever. The males stay behind, guarding the eggs and trying to accumulate more. Just like in high school, ugly men have to cultivate other talents.  A bottom-dwelling toadfish called the “singing midshipman” projects humming tones through the murky water, singing to attract females to his nest. Toadfish are hideous, male and female alike, but they’re able to tolerate each other through magic of music.

Some fathers are too successful, accumulating mates like Antonio Cromartie on a Vegas bender. Caribbean Blue-Headed Wrasses lead harems of up to a hundred females, mating daily until they’re exhausted. So dominant is the patriarch that smaller males have no chance. Female wrasses are insatiable, and will abide no interruptions in their breeding. Should the patriarch die, the biggest female in the harem changes sex at shocking speed. Within a day she’s acting like a male, driving off smaller interlopers, and can produce sperm in two weeks. But there is a ray of hope for the weak, nerdy males. They can charge into the harem, launching sperm at fertile females in a kind of sexual strafing run before the patriarch chases them off.

Some regions of the sea are horrible dating markets, like Nebraska in the winter or Stanford University in any season. The deep sea is the world’s biggest habitat: millions of square miles of deep, dark ocean with little food and less light. It’s rare to find a prospective mate, between the darkness and empty expanses of water. Deep-sea angler fish cruise with huge jaws agape and needle-like teeth exposed. Marine biologists were puzzled never to find an adult male; just females sporting curious fleshy parasites. As it turned out, those parasites were the fathers. Young male anglers, should they be lucky enough to spot a female, sneak in from behind and bite her flank. He never lets go, fusing instead with the female’s body. Powerful enzymes break down his jaws, gut, fins, and finally his brain. Eventually he is nothing more than a set of gonads, attached to the female forever. It is ever the dream of nerds to marry their first girlfriends; anglerfish have no choice in the matter.

How do you find a mate if you have no eyes or even a brain? Sea urchins and corals are in this predicament, blindly launching sperm and eggs into the water to form the next generation without the parents ever meeting. The gametes even decide which combinations are the right species: when they touch, proteins on their surfaces do some speed dating and exchange DNA within milliseconds. Sponges further remove parenting from fatherhood. Males jettison sperm into the sea, and females swallow it like food. They eat the sperm but don’t digest it; neither do they spit it into the basins of public bathroom sinks. Instead, the female pipes the sperm through her own body, leaving it to a crew of mobile amoebas that scour her tissues for unfertilized eggs. These rovers do their own matchmaking, manually adhering sperm to their egg counterparts.

Detachment takes many forms, and males will generally do as little fathering as possible. The Sperm whale is the world’s largest oblivious father, spending his years on a bachelor lifestyle while distributing sperm to mates half his size. Sperm whale mothers rely on each other for protection, forming bands of mature females and their young. When predators attack the babies, the females form three-dimensional defense grids: the young in the center, mothers arrayed tail-first towards the exterior to beat off attackers with their flukes. If you played the superb RTS game "Homeworld," you're familiar with the formation. Humpback fathers are more involved,  migrating thousands of miles along with their mates and calves while they sing slow mournful tunes. Floating deep in the clear blue waters of Hawaii, a male’s song reverberates for miles. Males as far apart as Hawaii and Baja change their songs seasonally, but do it in unspoken unison. Somehow, the season’s biggest hits traverse the entire ocean. It is the hipster's fever dream: new music traversing the globe without, like, interference from THE MAN.

If you’re reading these words, your parents probably worked hard at nurturing.  Human beings have a hard time succeeding without that care. We are a race of nest-builders, with fragile young demanding decades of attention. Whatever the challenges of being a modern-day father, the ocean reassures us there are as many ways of succeeding as there are fish in the sea. Fatherhood in nature obeys no particular rules. Yet, every strategy has one thing in common: a maze of contortions, uncertainty and sacrifices. Our offspring are their own creatures; they don’t come with a road map. We can only hope we get it right. And try to avoid $8 drinks in the process.