Real True Confessions With Padre Pienbique
Good morning (or really late at night) from the Makuhari neighborhood, Chiba, Japan. While the rest of the greater Tokyo area seems to blissfully unaware of the waking world, my eyes are fully open due the miracles of jet lag.
Now there are ways to comfort myself in these wee hours: Theres a convenience store across the street sporting coolers full of cold Kirin Lager, and in fact, theres cold beer in the fridge. But to gain access to either, Id need ninja skills of stealth and invisibility to grab the keys to condo or open the icebox without waking my wifes parents.
The beer might as well be back in Minnesota.
Back in the States, Bonnaroo is in full swing. I caught a little bit of Bob Weir and Ratdog on a webcast. Outside of Bob struggling to remember the first words to Help On The Way, I thought that if he shaved the beard and his hair, but left that crazy mustache, he could go as the Monopoly Guy for Halloween.
Maybe Im not missing so much. Or, at least missing my locker full of Old Style is a fixable problem. Remembering the lines to songs Bobbys been playing for thirty years (even with a Tele Prompter) might be more difficult to rectify.
But there are other people with problems. Since Im stuck being quiet, awake and sober, I might as well be helpful.
Q: Padre- What do the words to your songs mean? Is Break Of Day a code for something? Please help.
A: Troubled Son- Some artists make every lyric a puzzle, while others are perfectly upfront with the meaning.
Take the early Beatles for example: John Lennon is perfectly frank with his words. He wants to get laid. But Love Me Do isnt a metaphor for scat play.
That being said, I have no idea what a lot of Big Wu lyrics mean. Ive been in the band for over a decade, just long enough to bother wondering. When I ask the authors of the songs what they meant, theyve all looked at me as to say, What do they mean to you? As if rock lyrics are some kind of Rorschach test.
Unless they say: Shoot John Lennon, and if hes unavailable, kill Padre, go with whatever you like.
Q: Padre- What the hell is lutefisk? As a transplanted Wisconsinite living in Minnesota, I’m not entirely convinced that this is actually a real item. Is it a joke played on the new folks in town?
A: Troubled Son- Lutefisk is to Norwegians what peyote is to Native Americans. Served during religious festivals, it tastes like shit and quite often will cause vomiting, indigestion and hallucinations. Yet, given Norwegians penchant for Lutheran guilt, nobody would consider lutefisk to be "fun". Thus, its still legal, and all-too available.
Q: Padre- I need your advice. I was out pontoon boat shopping a couple of weeks ago and almost decided to buy one but there was one sticking point. The built in cooler under the captain’s chair only had room for a case of yer favorite beverage. Now this normally isn’t a problem, but since Old Style comes in 30 pack cases, there is about a six-pack problem.
I’m not looking for advice on whether or not to buy the boat, but if I do, what is your advice on what to do with the remaining six cans that don’t fit in the cooler? Sure, the lonely six will eventually make their way into my system, but I was always taught breaking up a case (or more) was a cardinal sin. This isn’t just a problem of simple math, so I need your help.
A: Troubled Son- How dare you insult the great foresight of the G. Heilmann brewery! A sin committed in the heart is bad enough; spewed like bile in a public forum is unthinkable. However, it’s the sin we hate not the sinner. But consider yourself warned, young man.
It is clear that you must remove the plank from thine own eye so you may see clearly to remove the splinter from thy brother’s. As we shall see, this isn’t a simple math problem. Although the answer lies in walking the path of righteousness, it won’t be a straight line.
Open the thirty-pack, remove the first beer. Call up some buddies to go on a cruise with you. If you run out of available friends, try ex-girlfriends. Pontooning only looks safe on the outside. It can get tricky, but one would never think so until it’s too late- much like drinking beer with your former darling while she’s wearing a skimpy swimsuit on a sunny day. If none are to be found, you can always call your current girlfriend as a last resort.
Grab the second beer and gather up gas can, life jackets, beer can huggies, etc. Carrying the right amount of life jackets keeps the water patrol off your dick; they always seem to know when you left something behind. Make sure you got all your ducks in a row.
Crack Old Style number three. This is for the drive to the gas station. Enjoy as you cruise at the local speed limit, (no need for trouble now) listening to some kind of summer music, preferably the oldies station. The Beach Boys are made for days like this.
Fill the gas can and open the fourth beer for the cruise back to the boat. Take a minute to enjoy the scenery. What a pleasure a summer day is! Isn’t everything just swell- or at least better than it was thirty minutes and three beers ago? (As an aside, this is a green-friendly advice column. Don’t just throw your empties out the window. Make sure that the Adopt-A-Highway folks haven’t picked up the ditch lately. This way, you won’t be the first to soil the scenery, and they’ll feel so useful when they’re out there cleaning it up. If you see them with they’re trash pokers that day, don’t hit them with your empty. That’s bad form. Throw it ahead of them so they don’t have to backtrack?)
Swill beer five while loading the gas can, life jackets and shipmates aboard the pontoon.
As for the sixth and final problem beer, put this in the huggie as you load the remaining twenty-four into the cooler behind the captains chair and head out onto the water. Wham-bam, even you can handle the Spam!
Q: Padre- Don’t you believe in the preservation of our environment? Why would you suggest throwing Old Style out the window of your automobile?
A: Troubled Son- In case you missed the irony, most of the questions I receive are usually humorous in nature, thus get the answer they deserve.
Please don’t stay up at night wondering if I’ve found a new and better way to wreck- or worse, pretend I’m saving- the environment.
However, you asked if I’m interested the politics of stewardship towards our resources. Of course I am. Then again, everybody is, at least in polite company.
But I don’t know the first thing about it outside of the usual, i.e.: Recycle, don’t throw the ciggie-butts on the ground, plant a tree… However, some of that wisdom is regarded as questionable these days. I read that nineteen of the fifty worst Super Fund clean-up sights were recycling plants. So should I think twice before chucking my Old Style cans out the window? I mean they’ll only end up at the recycling plant and become the next Super Fund project… Just kidding.
Not to be a curmudgeon, but perhaps I should have put the bong down and paid more attention in my high school Natural Science classes. One would suspect that "Saving the Earth" (whatever that is) has more to do with possessing a Ph.D. in Bio-Physiology and/or Chemistry (again, whatever that is) than say, pestering pedestrians with flyers that get thrown on the ground on Earth Day. Oh well, the road to the county dump is paved with those good intentions.
Maybe America can do with pollution what it does best with everything else: make it profitable, or at least a commodity. If we grab this "commodity" by the supply side- and there’s plenty of it- then the basic laws of economics say that it isn’t worth much. At least much more than, well, garbage.
On the flip side, if we look at this from the demand side, and everybody seems to want to throw something away, we can quantify the value of our former trash and new treasure. However, this is a job for an economist, which I certainly am not (that bong-thing during my high school years again…).
Q: Padre- recently I was tempted by the Devil himself. As I was unwrapping a new bar of soap for the shower, it smelled soooo good. Its aroma called out like a siren, coaxing me to take just a small bite. But I knew the consequences. I was able to resist, this time, but I’m not so sure I can in the future. What advice can you give me to ward off these mean spirits?
A: (Very) Troubled Son- I would be remiss in my duties as a Padre to not point out the obvious Biblical parallels to your query. If you recall, the last time the Devil tempted someone to take a forbidden bite, Eve caught hell for farting at the garden party. Greeks credit Prometheus for stealing the light of judgment and donating illumination to mortals. However, no good deed goes unpunished: He met with a disastrous fate, eternally chained to Mount Olympus where a vulture eats his liver out from his torso everyday.
Sometimes it truly is better to go with the devil you know. Repression only deepens the compulsion, i.e.; what other inappropriate uses can one find with a fresh bar of soap? If you fear that giving in may only be the beginning of an obsession with bar soap, then perhaps you could switch to Lever 2000 liquid body wash. I doubt that the form of the container will lead to nibbling. If you are tempted to take a tug from the soap teat, it will most likely leave a sour taste in your mouth. As a safety, I didn’t find any "external use only" warnings on the side of my personal bottle of Lever 2000, so you can feel somewhat secure in experimenting if tempted.
Q: Padre- One who consistently drinks beer runs the risk of developing a beer gut. In resolving the problem, some stop drinking beer, or drink light beer. I feel that neither is an answer to my problem. What can I do in this time of crisis?
A: Troubled Son-
You speak of a beer gut like its something to be ashamed of. You miserable pig, I should just let you start drinking light beer and laugh as you struggle in vain to cop a buzz and go home alone with nothing to show for your social efforts other than a strained bladder and bad breath.
However we hate the sin, not the sinner. Besides, Ben Franklin said that beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. I fail to see the wisdom of thumbing ones nose at such a gracious lord any more than arguing with Ol Ben. And no, there isnt a history book on the planet that quotes Franklin endorsing light beer.? So no more of this light beer talk, alright?
Abdominal expansion is the result of caloric intake without muscular output- sitting around and drinking beer without doing anything. Since drinking Coors Light, or God forbid no beer at all, is not an option, we have to maximize the opportunities we have at hand to naturally keep the temple tuned.
Somewhere in the basement of my house I found one of those silly digital thingamijiggies that you strap on you body and it tells you how many calories youve burned. After an afternoon of engaging in various activities, I was shocked at how many calories I kicked by doing nothing out of the ordinary:
Getting up to get a beer- 27 calories (times ten for a grand total of 270!)
Chasing that bum away from my garbage- 79 calories,
Looking for my keys to get more beer- 67 calories,
Too drunk to drive, walking to beer store- 211 calories,
Walking back with 30 pack of Old Style- 256 calories,
Trying to teach my dog to fetch beers from the garage- 138 calories,
Getting up five more times for beer- 135 calories,
Holding left hand up to eye as to not have double vision as I write this with right hand- 51 calories,
All together, a casual afternoon of everyday regular activity burned a grand total of 1207 calories.
At this rate Ill be fit enough to look pretty sharp in a Speedo banana sling by next week. And I never touched one light beer! So let this be a lesson to you, tubby- get active and drink!
Q: Padre- I solicit your help as indeed I am truly troubled. You see, one of my favorite bassists just turned thirty-five years old.
I’m sure you’ll agree any rocker over 30 is producing nothing new and is clearly milking his previous efforts. I’m certain that a Greatest Hits or Reunion tour is just around the corner.
As I receive all the old-guy crap I can stand on a daily basis at work, I’m not sure how much longer I can listen to this aging bass god.
Please help me thru my confusion.
A: Troubled Son-
As an aging bass flop, who has never produced anything new or clever on said instrument, I feel double the trepidation as I have just crossed my 35th birthday. Not only has time run out on me, but Ive never had any Great Hits to milk.
So, at this crossroad in my professional and personal life I offer you this: Neglect the urge to be great at anything, it only offends people who want to be better. Instead, be the fool. It satisfies the collective urge to look down on somebody, and folks wont cast a discriminating eye your way when you are up to Acts of No Good. As we all know, most deeds worth doing are done best in the dark.
A BEER TOO FAR
Just so you understand how close the beer store is, this photo is taken from the balcony of my mother-in-laws condo.
So cold, so tasty, so close, yet so far away