I was thinking about putting together a post on the death of the newspaper. I was going to invoke the classic film All The President’s Men and the more recent State of Play. I was then going to ask where journalistic integrity has gone. But now I realize that was going to go in a political direction and I promised I’d keep politics and religion out of the blog. That’s what
WhineLiveJournal is for. Thanks to Chuck, I am no longer thinking of such things. I am, instead, thinking about booze.
They say you can tell a lot about a person by the alcohol they drink. I’m not entirely sure WHO says that, but I know it’s been said. The same goes for fictional characters, or at least I believe it should. Let’s look at a few to see how the saying holds up.
And if I just coined it, I want a dime any time anybody says it.
Captain Jack Sparrow
It’s Talk Like A Pirate Day and I’m sparing ye… er, you the increased difficulty of reading this post in pirate-speak. Instead, let’s look at the chosen intoxicant of one of the craziest and coolest pirates ever to sail the Caribbean, Jack Sparrow. Sorry, that’s Captain Jack Sparrow.
Jack is defined by a question. Normally it’s not “Who am I?” or “Which magical MacGuffin will get us out of this particular mess?” No, that question usually is “Why is the rum gone?” Considering how much rum there was to be had in the West Indies, it’s not surprising this was Jack’s booze of choice. But what does it say about him?
Rum is distilled from sugarcane by-products, usually yielding a sweeter drink that’s more palatable on its own than, say, vodka or tequila. You don’t need to chase a shot of straight rum with salt and the juice of a lemon. Technically you don’t need to do that with tequila either, but I happen to be fond of my taste buds and would prefer them unscalded. Anyway, it’s easier to drink by itself and, as I mentioned, there was a lot of it floating around the West Indies during the time period in which the Pirates of the Caribbean films are set.
So it was easy to acquire, easy to drink, easy to carry around. Jack likes things easy. He doesn’t even need a big ship, technically speaking. The last shot in the last film is Jack, alone, in a little dinghy with a magic map and plenty of rum. No attachments, no worries, no responsibility. That’s Jack in a nutshell. Or a dinghy, rather. For all of his antics, spontaneous flashes of genius in concocting gambits and daring acts of heroism, he’d just as soon not be bothered. He’s concerned when the rum is gone not just because he’s without booze – it means he actually has to do shit.
Here’s a guy you’ll never see swinging on a rope, sword-fighting with Lovecraftian horrors or even pulling one over on the smarmy merchant prince who wants to put an end to piracy (explain again why this is a bad thing) – Jeff Lebowski. “The Dude”. The epitome of slackerhood. His drink of choice is the White Russian. The Caucasian. Damn close to the only alcoholic beverage my wife can stand.
She likes Woodchuck, though, so she does have good taste. Other than marrying Yours Truly.
Back to the Dude. His drink is a combination of vodka, coffee liqueur and half-and-half. Now, breaking these elements down, it’s a surprisingly effective mixture. Vodka is made from grain or potatoes, and as far as I’m concerned, is specifically designed to get you drunk as quickly and cheaply as possible. Even good vodka takes on the flavors of whatever you mix with it, meaning cheap vodka only tastes like vodka if you drink it straight. Mix it with something like coffee liqueur and you’re not only doubling the booze presence but covering up the turpentine-like vodka with something halfway palatable. The half-and-half smooths the drink out, giving it more of the creamy consistency of a glass of milk or an iced latte.
The Dude, then, knows he wants to get drunk but isn’t going to pound tequila shooters to do it. The most expensive item in the list is the liqueur and even that isn’t all that pricey. Somewhere along the line, he realized the best way to make a consistently drinkable alcoholic beverage and figured out the right mix so it comes out well every time. He’s a creature of habit, and more intelligent than he lets on. And even if he runs out of something, the grocery store still takes checks, right? The Dude abides.
On the other side of things, we have Frank Castle. This isn’t really touched on in the comics, but in the first recent film, starring the somewhat underrated Thomas Jane, we see Frank drinking Wild Turkey straight from the bottle. A lot. His regimen of physical activity, such as blowing up bad guys and causing head trauma to assassins with a paper cutter blade keeps him from falling out of shape due to this habit. But for the taciturn Frank, the bourbon speaks volumes.
Bourbon is a corn derivative that’s usually pretty strong – 80 proof, or about 43% alcohol per volume. Wild Turkey is even more powerful, weighing in at 101 proof which puts at 50% apv. It’s also thoroughly American. Now, you can do things like mix it with Coke or water to dilute its potency, but the ‘manly’ thing to do is a straight shot. Or several in a row.
Clearly, then, Frank isn’t somebody who messes around. When he wants to get drunk, he does it fast and hard. The same way he takes down mob peons and destroys the lives of their bosses. He drinks his bourbon the way he shoots his guns – straight, fast and intent on maximum damage. Despite the fact he’s doing this damage to himself, we know he can take it because he is the motherfucking Punisher.
Booze or no, I would not want to pick a fight with this guy.
Name a favorite character of yours whom you’ve seen boozing. What was the booze? What do you think it says about them?