Welcome to the Digital Viking: The EDSBS Guide to Spicy Living. Published every Friday, the Digital Viking embraces zesty living with a six-part review of the essentials:
--A patron saint invoked for inspiration
Diligent study of the Digital Viking's recommendations will increase spiritual happiness and liver circumference. Apply weekly and live daily for best results.
For the 2010 Finale, there is no other choice.
Orson: I grew up with a healthy case of undiagnosed ADD, so reading Hunter S. Thompson for the first time made you feel like finding out your Special Childhood Exceptional Ability, the hook allowing you to see something no one else could, the owl flying into the window informing you that were a wizard, and in fact have felt strange and displaced for years for a reason: you are in fact strange and displaced.
If you got Hunter for more than just the laughs, you got him because he ran at the speed of your brain and with just as much chaos and disorganization, and understood everything as implicitly necessary. You had to drive the biggest, most excessive gas-guzzling car for spiritual purposes if one was going to head to Las Vegas for the weekend. You had to get your ass beaten by the Hell's Angels to properly understand what it was like to get your ass beaten by the Hell's Angels. You had to see all of this up close and personal even if it made you bleed, and even if you had to down half a bottle of bourbon to make it make a semblance of sense which, upon further examination, made no sense at all.
This was all necessary, because as others have said of him: it may have not necessarily been factual, but it was all truthful. He would not jump on the common narrative that the Hell's Angels were uniformly countercultural, since he'd seen them beat a group of hippies to ground beef with his own eyes. He never denied his own near-incapacitation from alcohol and drugs. He wrote what he saw, but unlike other writers his camera moved at 12 frames a second and jammed frequently and at odd moments, sometimes freezing on the random for long stretches of time: the square jawed cop in line in Vegas exploding over their reservations in Fear and Loathing, the long, non-sequitur conversations in "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved."
It was a reality, and one far closer to mine than anything I'd read or have read since. You can't recommend living like him. It's simply not possible, unless you like cirrhosis, suicide, and a thirty year period best described as writer's block exacerbated by a nonstop bender disguised as performance art sound like a holiday to you. What you can take away from Hunter is this: if you find yourself moving suspecting that this life is far stranger than you thought, you might consider going with it as a survival tactic. When you find this more fun than you thought possible, and notice the claws at the end of your arms where hands used to be, well...you should probably go with that, too.
And now to the final Digital Viking of 2010, this time done as an extravaganza three-way between Holly, Doug, and Orson. Close your eyes, since it might be the most beautiful thing you've ever seen.
Doug: Nothing complicated or fancy or flaming or mixed with snake blood this time -- for the last Digital Viking of 2010, I'm keepin' it real, yo. 'Cause sometimes there's nothing better than a glass of what your daddy drank, and while there's certainly something to be said for the sweet burn of Knob Creek or the almost syrupy smoothness of Maker's Mark, there's just something about the warm, comforting embrace of George Dickel No. 12 that nothing else can quite recreate.
I don't know quite how to phrase it without sounding gross, but there's something in the bouquet that reminds me of old hardwood, brass polish, and battered leather furniture that's spent a lot of time in an attic -- all things that will be features of the bar I open up in Athens 10 or 20 years from now when I've finally made peace with my destiny as a failed novelist/screenwriter. It's perfect enough that it needs nothing more than a couple ice cubes, but I did get a wild hair the other day and dump some into one of those Starbucks vanilla Frappuccino drinks. And it was pretty good. I've dubbed it "beige drank," coming soon to a store nowhere near you.
Holly: The All-Purpose Liquor.
Like so many things in this crazy world of ours, I only understand it insofar as I know I need it.
WHAT THE FUCK DUDE?
Stop it. First of all, i'm demonstrably straight, and the Digital Viking policies on oral sex are clear: you should, and should enthusiastically and often. This just applies to all of you, male or female, and makes you better husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, and citizens of the world. The rest of you who don't like it should have to pay for sex, which would stimulate the local economies and keep others from feeling sad, neglected, and like their personal parts smelled bad no matter what they did. There we go again, saving the world without even meaning to. The service, as always, is free.
As for the meat (entendres just following us around apologies, ) the new line on the Carnivorous Bucket List is really and truly actual beaver, one of the zillion meat products Americans used to devour before we began buying a substance called "beef' which came from the store, and not from the quivering, often adorable sides of animals called "cows." You can still buy all of these at Czimer's in Chicago, and they swear they get them via humane or other wise ethically murderous methods.
I've had yak in Nepal, and it is one of the meats of the gods, especially if you're at 14K feet and your body is screaming for fat and protein, but the rest of meats mentioned here would be completely new territory for me. The description of the bear is succinct and definite:
I probably wouldn't cook an old black bear again.
The beaver description, though, sounds like woody, smoky heaven on a plate:
Beaver tail is straight up fantastic. It has a woody-musky aroma and flavor that is unique among all meats I have tried. Nils went bonkers for it as well. Every recipe for beaver I could find advised soaking the meat in vinegar, so I brined the tail in a mild salt and vinegar solution before searing it and bagging it with butter. I cooked it at 60 degrees C for 48 hours. Man, was it good.
They even make chicharrones from the tail skin and proclaim them delicious. Plus, when you hunt for them, just know they aren't the pacific, wide-eyed cartoon engineers of your childhood. These are killing machines, indifferent to whether they're chopping down a tree OR YOU. Eat them happily, and with the content justification of a well-versed revenge carnivore.
Holly: Brisket! Football time means fancy tailgate time, and before too long it'll be seasonal enough to start charring some serious meat without any nasty bouts of heat prostration. To that end, we are happy to share this thread from our Texbros at Burnt Orange Nation, where Andrew's legendary brisket recipe sparked a cavalcade of meat-related arguments and recipes. Ah, screaming about marinades with strangers on the internet. No finer way to wind down a week, or an offseason.
Doug: As Dave Attell once pointed out, just because you like two things doesn't mean they'll necessarily go well together. I mean, I love Ben & Jerry's Cinnamon Buns ice cream, but I'm never gonna ask a waiter to throw a scoop of it on top of a Porterhouse. There are exceptions, though -- I like butter, mushrooms, red wine and gravy, and while those probably aren't the first four things you'd think to mix together in a recipe, together they make Marsala sauce, the best sauce that has ever been invented. Maybe the best chemical compound that has ever been invented.
I'll happily devour it on veal, pork, chicken, beef . . . if you peeled a flattened possum off the Interstate and drenched it in Marsala sauce, I'd probably look at you funny, but I can't promise you with any degree of certainty that I wouldn't try it. Carrabba's makes a damn fine example (and save your snickering at chain restaurants -- I live in Columbus, Georgia, kiddo, you might as well be talking to a brick wall), but perhaps the best I've ever had was made for me by none other than miss Holly, for no special occasion other than 'cause I liked it. Make no mistake, Marsala is love, and if drowning in a vat of it is how the good Lord intends me to go, then I'll dive in with a smile.
Doug: Good things to come after your last name: "Award," "Corporation," "Stadium," or "-Jolie." Bad things to come after your last name: "Syndrome," "Trial," or "Catastrophe." Case in point: Soviet Chief Marshall of Artillery Mitrofan Ivanovich Nedelin, whose name will forever be associated in Russian history with the "Nedelin Catastrophe," i.e. this:
Whoopsy! It took nearly three full decades for Soviet authorities to admit the disaster had happened in the first place, much less the cause -- due to miscommunication on the part of the launch crew, the second-stage engines fired up while the rocket was still on the launch pad, igniting several tons of highly corrosive hypergolic UDMH-nitric acid fuel (which the engineers tellingly referred to as diyavola yad, or "devil's venom"). Which meant those who weren't mercifully incinerated on the spot died from the toxic gases released into the air; at least 120 people died in the explosion, one of whom was Marshall Nedelin himself. Considering what Khrushchev probably would've done to him for fucking up his rocket test, though, that might've been a blessing. Moral of the story: Russians are hard-ass people, so if they call "devil's venom," that's your cue that messing around with it is a bad, bad, bad idea.
Holly: Sometimes the snow comes down in June, and sometimes we save the Cannikin test for last.
It's not like we're using Alaska anyway, really.
Orson: It's not like we don't want a trombone in our house. We're just waiting to buy this one.
Orson: The circular bike, because I guarantee that if you got one of these, you'd try this on the first day, and then EVERYTHING WOULD GO EXACTLY LIKE THAT.
Film it! You can show it to your friends and they'll all think how cool you are ripping sweet tricks on the street! I'm not just angling for more injury porn to be put on the internet! No! Not at all!
Doug: OK, so remember the airboat from last week? Take that, put it on skis, and you've got the "aerosani":
Soviet rocket experiments may have been somewhat hit-or-miss, but propeller-powered snowmobiles appear to be one thing that they completely cornered the market on, and if a Google image search is any indication, they're still cranking them out. Only once every three years or so does it snow enough to so much as cover the grass down here in south Georgia, but the very fact that such thing as a "heavy assault sled" was ever built, much less successfully deployed in wartime, is enough to tempt me to go out and get one anyway.
Holly: From the "Your Argument Is Invalid" Department:
This is a 1939 Ford Deluxe Coupe loaded with Sweet White Lightning. That is all you know, and all you ever need know.
[big ups to Alan for being our premier photo-tipster this summer.]
Doug: Rock biopics don't normally turn my crank, but the '80s punk/New Wave scene does, so Michael Winterbottom's "24 Hour Party People" gets an automatic spot on my list of cinema recommendations. It tells the story of Tony Wilson, a disaffected TV news reporter in Manchester, England, who diversifies into concert promotions -- and, eventually, his own record label, Factory Records, which became the home of Joy Division, the Happy Mondays, and numerous other groundbreaking rock acts who could've been bigger than the Beatles if they hadn't been busy committing suicide or blowing rails the size of baguettes in the men's room of the Haçienda.
And while the film takes certain, mmm, liberties with history
It is during the opening night, and a performance by a band Gretton manages called Joy Division, that Wilson is caught by his wife, Lindsay, getting fellatio from a woman in the back of the club owner Don Tonay's "nosh van". She then retaliates by having sexual intercourse in a toilet cubicle with the Buzzcocks' Howard Devoto, and is caught by Tony. The real Devoto, portraying a janitor cleaning the bathroom sink, then turns to the camera and says "I definitely don't remember this happening."
. . . it's rarely anything less than entertaining, and the music, needless to say, kicks ass in a fashion that is completely historically accurate. Put it at the top of your Netflix queue, watch it, and then go out and perform wondrous deeds.
Holly: The Sandlot. Which is a baseball movie, yes. To close out the summer on a football blog, yes. But! In its defense, 1) its German title is "Herkules und die Sandlot-Kids," 2) it gave us "YOU'RE KILLING ME, SMALLS!", and 3) The Sandlot is so good it makes me forgive Tom Guiry for growing up to make The Black Donnellys (almost). For one thing, it contains one of the most masterful romantic encounters ever captured on celluloid (hey Marley Shelton hey!):
Squints' laugh right after the 2:00 mark? Yeah, we've all been there.
And then there's the trash talk:
Ham: Is that your sister out there in left field, naked? She's naked?
Phillips: [swings and misses again] SHUT UP PORTER!
Ham: Hey, hey, hey, I'm just trying to start a friendly conversation, come on.
Ham: [two seconds later] Think she'll go out with me?
The through-line: "Baseball was life! And I was good at it." Football is life, and we (AMERICA) are good at it. Real good. And if you absolutely must have some carnage to close out your week, our own BurritoBrosShits found this real poster for a real movie, ostensibly about bears.
Orson: Pumping iron. Our offseason fascination with 1970s athletic culture comes full circle here with the greatest epic to the decade's shaggy-haired, short-shorted decadence. Can you imagine how in heaven I am when Arnold tauts Lou Ferrigno to eat more pasta in front of Lou's overbearing father? Can you imagine how in heaven I am when Arnold goes on inappropriate, megalomaniacal tangents about sex and weightlifting?
The film contains an endless supply of unironic ringer tees, men squatting until they puke or pass out, and a clip of Arnold smoking a joint and wearing a shirt that says "ARNOLD IS NUMERO UNO." It may also be the best unintentional comedy documentary ever made, and for that alone is required viewing.
Thank you all for surviving the offseason with us. The Digital Viking now sails away until its reappearance in the offseason, provided it doesn't accidentally burn the maps for warmth and get lost somewhere north of the Arctic Circle.