Southern Comfort [Elbows on the Table]

There is a reason why all great southern literary works, like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, To Kill a Mockingbird and A Confederacy of Dunces, all take place during the blazing, humid months of summer. There is something special about summers below the Mason Dixon Line. It is a place where second story porches are covered in gauzy mosquito nets and used for sleeping in August. Where professional men walk to work in their pressed seersucker and ladies lunch on verandas in sundresses and scarves. The sweet tea never stops flowing and everyone talks and moves really, really slow because it is just too darn hot. Although I am a sucker for a man in seersucker, my favorite aspect of a southern summer is the evening libations. The heat and humidity is stifling, making my usual dry red wine almost suffocating. (And one can only drink so much Chardonnay before resembling some Real Housewife shrew.) The southern answer? Cocktails, good ones. These are not your well drinks of your tacky college days. If you’re over 21, you should not be drinking a Long Island Ice Teas or a Cosmo (the tackiest of all tacky drinks). Nor can any amount of hipster irony make a Dirty Girl Scout or a White Russian acceptable drinks. The first thing you’ll be asked at a cocktail party or happy hour is, “So, what are you drinking?” Take a cue from your southern brothers and sisters and find a cocktail that makes a statement. Below are four of my personal summer staples. Bloody Mary The Blood Mary has gotten a bad wrap in the past 10 or so years. The flavorless tomato water with limp celery is not a Bloody Mary, it is a bloody abomination. One of...

That’s Not a F*cking Word! [Hyperbolic Tendencies]

Like virtually every other aspect of American culture, our language has been corporatized; poisoned, convoluted, and robotized – all in the name of “efficiency”. Whoever first uttered the phrase “think outside the box” deserves a big bonus. However, the next person I hear use it will get my foot up their ass. While it’s initial appeal as a simple metaphor with a bit of a twist was undeniable, it’s been so overused that it’s now an “executive summary” of someone’s entire capability, tacitly implying the person in question hasn’t had an original idea in years. Even if the topic at hand has no need for an original idea. I mean, if you’re working at a McDonald’s, how far out of the box does your thinking need to be? Does the corporatization of our language really matter? You bet your ass it does. Language is the only way we truly know each other. Without it, we’d be just another species picking insects out of one another’s hair and feeding on them. Contrary to popular belief, this poisoned well is not a recent development. All the way back in 1916 Teddy Roosevelt declared that the “tendency to use what have been called ‘weasel words’ is one of the defects of our nation.” He clarified with this example, “You can have universal training or you can have voluntary training, but when you use the word ‘voluntary’ to qualify the word ‘universal,’ you are using a weasel word,” he said. “It has sucked all the meaning out of “universal”. Words that suck the meaning (and life) out. Yep, that’s what’s happened to our language. But with technology, it now happens at blinding speed and the idiotic linguistic offerings pile up like cars on a ice-covered freeway. As 2011 drew...