Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Know your enemy: The hangover and the mutt

"Conan! What is best in life?"
"To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women."
"That is good! That is good."
Thank you Conan the Barbarian. Though I do feel inclined to disagree and say that which is best in life is an aged rum, and an attractive woman. Although the crushing your enemies part. That IS good. And what is every drinkers enemy? The hangover.

Anyone who knows me personally will know that I always attempt to make friends with my hangovers, they are akin to invited guests. Albeit guests who outstay their welcome come the end of festivities.  Something I see a lot is along the lines of "I'm totally hanging, anyone got any tips?" Well, yes, if you really don't want to be friends.
What two things define a hangover more than anything else? Headache and sickness. Headache, well anecdotal evidence says that a cold can of coke and an painkiller works wonders the morning after, and a pint of water and a vitamin tablet before sleep always helps me. (When I'm not so drunk I completely forget of course.) Alcohol dehydrates you and robs you of vital vitamins, the brain especially doesn't like that so its important to get more liquids flowing up to your noggin and replace those missing Vitamins. Fluids people! You need them to live, get that water in you quick and your headache will lessen.

The sickness is where it gets fun and interesting and inevitably hair of the dog comes up. I always figured that hair of the dog was something that alcoholics used to justify their cracking open of the vodka bottle as soon as they opened their eyes. However, as it turns out, there's science* backing this up. (There's always science, unless your dealing with wizards.)

The alcohol that we hurl down our throats when we drink is largely made up of two elements. Ethanol, the purest form of drinking alcohol, and fusel alcohols. Which are alcohols, but not the drinking kind. (Fun fact, fusel is a German word meaning 'bad liquor'.) One is good, and one is an unfortunate by-product caused by fermentation. If brewing and distilling were a movie it would be Twins. Ethanol is Arnie, and the fusel alcohols are Danny DeVito.

When we drink, our body breaks down the enzymes it contains. Ethanol is easy to break down so our livers focus on that first. Once the ethanol is consumed our bodies switch to breaking down the fusel alcohols. Unfortunately when fusel alcohols are broken down they're broken down into acetaldehyde, which makes us feel sick. (nothing good for you EVER ends with 'dehyde'.) Give the body more ethanol to break down,  and our livers switch back to that. It'll also provide you chance to expel the remaining fusel alcohols in your breath, sweat, and via other bodily functions. (hopefully not including vomiting.)

Go easy on the Bloody Marys! (via Sensory Overload)

If you're going to take heed of this advice and have a drink to try to stay off the sickness, be sure to have a drink that is low in fusel alcohols. Whiskey, real ales, and ciders are expected to have high levels of fusel alcohols. Spirits like vodka that have been triple distilled, or more, will have less and would make a better mixer for your Bloody Mary.

That's todays science lesson over, there will not be a test at the end of the week so feel free to spend the study time drinking. But not too much eh? Hangovers exist for a reason, your liver is sending a message.

*Incredibly, no one has actually been given grant money to study this for definite in humans, but the science does make sense when sounded out. You just wont find it in any peer reviewed journals. Scientists are too busy with other matters.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Wednesday, 17 March 2010


I'm pretty sure that this London Underground sign exists in this location soley for tourists visiting London to take this exact photo. All it needs is a red double decker. Sadly absent these days.

Vintage film effect by lo-mob for iPhone

Friday, 12 March 2010

Beer + Oxygen = Less hangover? Awesome, I breathe oxygen!

Turns out last week was very exciting time for beer drinkers everywhere. As New Scientist reports that some clever and presumably hard drinking scientists in South Korea have discovered that adding oxygen to beer reduces the time it takes to sober up.

I'm definitely all for that. After Wednesday night's five pints of Asahi and Thursday morning's inability to, well, move, anything that speeds up that horrible feeling of lingering drunkeness before the sweet sweet hangover starts is fine by me.

And I realise that Asahi is Japanese, not South Korean, but I went with Asahi for two reasons. One, extra oxygen in that Asahi would've been appreciated on Wednesday. Two, I couldn't find any photos for Cass, Hite or OB that featured that bastion of beer promotion, the bikini girl.

And speaking of bikini girls. The next time you're at a beach with a drink in your hand, and an attractive young lady comes up to you asking for opener, You could do worse than have one of these Happy Hour watches on your wrist.

Analogue and Digital displays, Japanese Quartz movement, wide leather band, and very importantly, the crazy buckle that opens bottles. Meaning you'll never be without an opener even in board shorts and flip flops. Just be careful after a few brews down the line. Nothing says smooth operator like taking charge of a girls unopened beer, gripping it manfully into your watch, then smacking the bottle into her teeth as the cap comes off a little easier than you expected. 

You know it'll happen, be honest.

Asahi girls via Flickr

Here comes a new challenger!... Nostalgia.

The scene is some point in October 1992. A young boy is taken by his parents to the Comet superstore in Rochester to choose his birthday present. A Super NES, or a Sega Mega Drive. The SNES has got Super Mario World, But his friend down the street has one. The boy makes his decision, and a blue hedgehog gets taken home. (And a mummy called Chuck D Head. Man the 90's were strange.)

Flash forward about a year, and the young boy is loving his Mega Drive, except that cocky sonofova down the street with the SNES and his flaunting of Street Fighter II. The young boy is rubbish when they play, with no way to practice he can only win bouts by playing Guile and mashing hard kick. BUT! All is not lost as for his birthday that year the boy receives the newly released Street Fighter II Champion Edition, a game so awesome Sega had to release a whole new controller for it just to make it playable. A whole SIX buttons. SIX! Wow.
The height of awesomeness circa Sept. '93. About £60's worth of awesome in fact.

Now we're back in the present. And the young boy, who at this point you should have realised is me, is playing Street Fighter IV for the iPhone. The first Street Fighter I've played since the Mega Drive. And you know what? Its actually pretty outstanding. I would not have thought that the controls would work at all, but they really do. I'm assured you can pull of all sorts of super EX hyper revenge combos and special moves. Although, I have no idea how and I'm perfectly happy mashing hard kick and letting off the occasional sonic boom. (I'm sorry but I'm unemployed, my diet is atrocious... BOOM TISH!)

But this isn't a review, this is an opinion piece. Here's to the point. An early commentator (who shall remain anonymous) on the iPhone game had this to say. "I don't like the look of it. The graphics are very 16 bit. I'm not paying £6 for a port of a SNES game, as good as that SNES game was."

Now by all means, you can not want to spend £6 on whatever you want, But please internets, (and I see this a lot in iPhone app discussion and reviews) don't try and justify that cheapness with a bullshit excuse like that. Quality deserves quality prices.

If he honestly believes that statement though, 'looks 16 bit'. Well, I would love to get a hold of the goggles the dude is wearing to make the above, look like the below. If the SNES or Mega Drive had been capable of this I'm pretty sure we'd be playing video games with the power of our minds now, and the PS3 would be rapid prototyping triple breasted hookers for our amusement while the games installed.

I do love my old console games. Really fond memories of Sonic, Streets of Rage 2, Bubsy the Bobcat*, and Ayrton Senna's Super Monaco GP II. But compared to what today's phones can dish out, graphically, they were rubbish. There's no comparison. iPhone games created in less than 72 hours have better graphics than my Mega Drive did, and smoother scrolling to boot. (Damn you SNES and your Mode 7.)
I'm sorry internets but no amount of rose tinting will change that...

See?! It still looks way better!

*I have a friend who can still recall the password for one level in BtB having been tasked to remember it as a child. You know who you are ;)

Monday, 1 March 2010

Wa' HIq DaH!*

So having stumbled out of the drunken haze I spent the weekend in. (Go Canada!) I recalled a very handy website. How to order a beer in 50 different languages. Now, as this is an English language blog you'd be forgiven for thinking, 'what's the point?' The English already have an excellent way of ordering beers in foreign locales, by simply shouting louder in English or scrawling your order onto a poor bavarian barmaids chest.

But I can forsee that there might be times when yelling for beer at the top of your lungs is not the done thing. (Especially if you find yourself needing to order in Arabic.) So before getting on the plane and having a few for the road, I suggest giving the list a browse. Or better yet, write it down inside the front cover of one of these fine beer tasting notebooks from Scout Books. Probably has space for that barmaids number after you woo her with a "Ein Bier, bitte!" as well.

*That's not the noise you make clearing your throat before attempting to order. That's, klingon, 'One Beer, Now!'. It seems there is no Klingon word for please.