By Teague Bohlen
Alcohol often gets a bum rap. Sure, it can make you do stupid things, like call an ex-girlfriend at 2 am, take off your clothes on camera for a $2 T-shirt, or even vomit profusely?but then, so can love, and no one’s ever made an argument about prohibiting the sale of?okay, bad example. But still, the world at large owes a debt to liquor, and all the wonderfulness that it has helped produce over the last two millennia or so. As part of Topless Robot’s week-long salute to booze in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here are the 10 best things we have because of alcohol.
10) John Belushi
Belushi?s benders were legendary, which was more or less true about all of Saturday Night Live‘s first cast (including Gilda Radner, who literally lived on straight vodka and Sweet & Low at times). But it’s only right that Belushi be known for booze more than any of them, since it fueled his manic comedic genius, making him the funniest one in a group that including Bill Murray, Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd, back when that meant something. Without booze, John Belushi would be…well, Jim Belushi. Thanks, booze!
Magic? Zombies? Marie Leveau dancing naked on the Bayou St. John? Sign us up for voodoo, a religion founded nearly exclusively on the drinking of rum. It might not affect your life often (unless you’re a zombie), but the world is far cooler for having voodoo in it. Sing hallelujah, brother, and pass the bottle.
If the very idea of leprechauns isn’t a direct result of the traditional Irish love of strong drink, then we don’t know what is. Come on?seeing little people in green smocks who loiter near rainbows and promise pots of gold? That’s the Guinness talking. And honestly, thank god for leprechauns, because without those, we’d have no Lucky Charms. And without Lucky Charms, we’d be quickly overrun by mountains of unused frosted marshmallow shapes. (Which are called “marbits,” by the way. Yep. Guinness again.)
7) The Work of Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway drank more in one night than some people down in a lifetime. He drank in-between hunting wild game, running with the bulls, and churning out some of the finest literature of the 20th century, in which the characters also drink, heavily and constantly. No sober man would have done what Hemingway did, and no one else could have written such prose without having experience life so…boozily. Also, like other great drunkards, Ernest Hemingway has a drink named for him: Cuba’s famous El Floridita makes the “Papa Doble,” which is a extra-rum-soaked double frozen daiquiri.
Disney’s classic ode to drunken hallucinations is both inspired by booze, and far awesomer when watched while shit-faced. Mickey animates a broom and nearlyt drowns. A baby elephant drinks from a vat of champagne, and sees no less than a dancing line of pink elephants. Hippos in ballet costumes dance with amorous alligators. Bacchus, debauched God of Wine, strides by a little later, riding a tiny drunken unicorn. And there’s a demon in a volcano. And it’s for kids, too!
5) The Entire Romantic and Victorian Eras of Literature
How many writers from this period in history depended on laudanum (an alcoholic tincture of opium) to induce the madness needed in order to create? The answer: Byron, Keats, Shelley, Carroll, Dickens (above), and several others, including Coleridge, who wrote the great unfinished poetic ode Kubla Khan after a drunken dream: “In Xanadu did Kubla Khan/a stately pleasure-dome decree.” Sadly, the dream was interrupted before Coleridge could get to the part where Olivia Newton-John shows up on roller skates.
To paraphrase the sober Homer Simpson, attending a ball game: “Wait a second…this game sucks.” Indeed it does?there’s barely any action, whether watching one guy try to hit a ball every couple of minutes or watching nine guys standing around a field for half an hour per inning. Would it have ever been America’s National Pastime without beer sales? No chance. Plus, getting sloshed is the only possible way to convince yourself that $7 is a fair price for a hot dog and that the game is actually supposed to be moving this slowly.
3) Impressionist Art
Experts claim that the Impressionist movement in art was largely influenced by the widespread use and effect of absinthe, a highly alcoholic anise-flavored spirit made from wormwood, given that the drink supposedly creates a visual effect that resembles the visual appeal that became characteristic of that period’s paintings. Degas’ famous piece L’Absinthe is sometimes looked at as a direct progenitor of this idea. This theory, of course, flaunts the evidence to the contrary, as presented other works of lesser-reknown from the same period: Renoir’s Ce Vin est Bon, Monet’s La Schnapps de Peche Dans la Verre, and Mary Cassatt’s Screw What it Means, Gimme Another Tequila Shot.
2) Beer Goggles
Look in the mirror. Unless you’re stunningly attractive, chances are booze has helped you get laid. Yes, booze?in someone else’s liver, specifically?lowered someone’s inhibitions, common sense and good taste to the point where he/she was willing to sleep with you. Booze has been performing this kindly act for centuries, and for aesthetically challenged, it’s the reason why sex happens at all. Chances are that some of the resulting children were important scientists and stuff throughout history, so that’s cool too.
Not the game?the social construct (although the pic above is totally from the game). Some scientists have theorized that the only reason that nomadic peoples stopped being all nomadic was to brew beer. Seriously?hunter-gatherers only had to work like four hours a week in order to feed their family; farming requires far more time and energy, and the result is a rutabaga, not a tasty steak. So why do it? Because farming produces grain, which can be fermented, which turns into beer…and it all makes sense. By this theory, the only reason we have homes…and cities…and society…and all the things society has produced, like air conditioners and indoor plumbing…is because of our ancestors’ desire to drink. Sid Meier, take note.