It's Bill Murray's birthday. Born on this day in 1950, Mr. Murray has acted in some of the most beloved films existent, including the Ghostbusters franchise, Groundhog Day, Stripes, Caddyshack, Broken Flowers, Lost in Translation and the list goes on. He is truly a national treasure. When asked what's his drink of choice, Murray replied, "You know, I've never had a favorite, which is why I've never been officially classified as an alcoholic. I'm a moving target." Wise words.
It's International Hangover Awareness Day. That's right. Don't challenge me on this. You know, it's really quite outrageous. You unpocket a wad of cash to rescue those drinks from a purposeless existence and give them a home. Then, after a bit of hoorahing and carrying you about on their shoulders, the moment you go nighty-night the ingrates turn on you like a pack of teenage werewolves. You awake from a troubled sleep to find the little monsters have successfully conspired to roll you into Hell. “Who hath woe? Who hath sorrow?” the Old Testament wonders, then gamely pounces on its own question: “They that tarry long at the wine.” That woe and sorrow is the boogeyman that has bedeviled humankind since we solved the riddle of what to do with all that extra grain and produce left over from the harvest. Something needs to be done about this menace. I mean, can't science get together, form like a global Manhattan Project for hangovers, we'll call it the Restoration of Dignity Project, and finally put a stake in this vampire's black heart? Because, at this point, and I hate to get into conspiracy theories, but it seems like the Powers That Be, that shadowy cabal pulling all the strings, don't really want a cure, that they want to keep the penance attached to the pleasure, because they're afraid the working class might just go on a permanent bender if there's no price to pay. The same way the U.S. government suppressed that medical study in the 1950s that revealed the health benefits of drinking. True story. Anyway, be aware of hangovers today. I certainly am. One in particular. Fun fact. Did you know there are a wide variety of synonyms for hangover? Here's a sampling. Morning fog, gallon-distemper, bottle ache, blue-devils, katzenjammer, jim-jams, cropsick, black dog, and my personal favorite, bust-head.
Ahoy, scallywags! It be Talk Like A Pirate Day. Go right ahead, 'tis a fine canter. And if you find yourself feeling self-conscious about the whole thing, I've found that drinking a lot of rum really helps you get in the mood. Give it a go. After the sixth drink or so you won't be able to stop yourself from talking like a pirate.
On this day in 1988, UB40’s Red Red Wine reached top of the U.S. charts. It was originally a Neil Diamond song, but the Brit reggae band took it to a whole new level. And the MTV video was pretty cool. Remember that? You know, some people point to greater consistency in domestic wine production, the international rise of Merlot, the desire of Yuppies to appear posh and other silly reasons as to why red wine's popularity boomed in the U.S. starting in the late 1980s, but I've always held to the notion that it was this song that did it. Go ahead and play it. It'll make you want to drink red wine.
It's the National Day of Encouragement. You're supposed to go around encouraging people. Just dishing out the "attaboys" and "you-go-girls." Do you know what encourages me? The Brutal Hammer. What's that? Well, it has long been Modern Drunkard Magazine's staff drink. Grab a pen and I'll lay the recipe on you. Go ahead, I'll wait. You ready? It's vodka and red wine, equal measures. Just pour them in a water glass. You can cynically throw in a few ice cubes, but it's hardly necessary. It might taste a little strange, a little inappropriate, at first, but by the third, why, they'll taste like ambrosia. And, by God, you'll be encouraged. You'll be very encouraged, and you'll go around encouraging the hell out of other people, and pretty soon everyone will be properly encouraged on this National Day of Encouragement. It's the singular gift of the Brutal Hammer. It is chock full of encouragement.
Today is the Anniversary of the 9/11 Attacks. Today we drink to the fallen.
It's TV Dinner Day. On this day in 1953, C.A. Swanson & Sons landed upon a bizarre new idea, namely a prepackaged aluminum tray you could just stick in an oven for 45 minutes or so and boom: you have a "dinner" with all the fixings, including turkey, gravy, cornbread stuffing, sweet potatoes and buttered peas. All for under a buck. It was an instant hit, with Swanson selling 10 million of the turkey dinners in 1954 alone. It was a major leap in culinary laziness. As the name suggests, the whole idea was to eat them on a folding tray table (remember those?) while gaping at that new appliance creeping into America's homes, the television. And you certainly didn't want food preparation cutting into your TV time. So you're probably wondering, did anyone ever put in play the ingenious idea of including a beer with these meals? I mean, it seems like a natural, doesn't it, because whenever you think of someone eating one of those Hungry-Man TV dinners, you always picture that solitary creature with a beer in his hand. Possibly a Hamm's or a Schlitz. Something retro. Well, the answer is no. The idea has been considered, but they would have to add something to the beer for it not to freeze, and they thought that the idea of drinking antifreeze might alarm some consumers. There is an apricot-flavored craft beer called TV Dinner, but frankly, I don't get the connection.
Do you like Piña Coladas? Do you like getting caught in the rain? Then you're in luck, because while I can't speak to the possibility of precipitation in your region, it is Piña Colada Day. Ever had one? They're actually quite tasty, though it is one of those sweeter, heavier drinks that makes it hard to choke down more than eight or ten in a row. Now, Ramón "Monchito" Marrero says he invented the Piña Colada in Puerto Rico in 1954, but it's a pretty good bet that rum, pineapple juice and coconut milk found their way into the same cup before then. In fact, the earliest, half-believable origin story finds Puerto Rican pirate Roberto Cofresí motivating his crew with a rum, pineapple and coconut beverage in the early 19th century. So go ahead. Try one. I think you might dig it.
Today is the 56th anniversary of the Great Train Robbery. On this day in 1963, 15 South London professional criminals held up a mail train in England and made off with 2.6 million pounds. In today's dollars, that's about 70 million bucks. The plan was largely conceived and put together in London pubs, after hours, while knocking back pints of beer and drams of whiskey. That's how the South London criminals rolled back then. They almost got away with it, but you know how it is when 15 people try to keep a large secret. Especially if they don't mind a drink or two. Of alcohol's many benefits, keeping someone close-mouthed and cagey isn't one of them. Still, some of the robbers were never caught, or even identified, and two of those who were caught successfully escaped. One was in prison all of three minutes before escaping, which has got to be some kind of record. The robbery has had a considerable pop culture impact over the years, inspiring many books, movies and songs. True story: One of the robbers, Ronnie Briggs, provided vocals on two Sex Pistols' songs.
On this day in 1957, Andy Capp debuted in Britain’s Daily Mirror. If you're a Millennial you may have no idea of whom I'm speaking. Please allow me to hip you up. Andy Capp is an extraordinary daily comic strip about a working-class Brit whose main interests are drinking, fighting, leisure activities and playing rugby. What he definitely isn't interested in is getting a job. He seems to spend most of his day in the pub. If not a man's man, then certainly a scoundrel's scoundrel. And very funny. Capp's creator, Reg Smythe, didn't believe in soft edges or political correctness. And while Andy thrived during the latter-half of the last century, his star has dimmed somewhat in this new age of easy outrage and arbitrary offense. Fun fact: Since the 1960's, Andy Capp Fries, a bagged pub snack somewhere between potato chips and french fries, has been available to the public in a wide variety of flavors. They're actually quite excellent.