Friday, June 27, 2014

How Did We Choose Fictional Drinking Partners?

A couple months ago, Kavanaugh e-mailed me about another collaborative project. "How about this for the next draft?" he wrote. "TV drinkers, drafting five each for your crew." As usual, I went overboard, suggesting we expand the draft to include all fictional characters and pick 10 each. Predictably, it was slow-going. We didn't get through the entire 20-character draft for a variety of reasons (fatigue, busy jobs, getting drunk in real-life, etc.).

But we did complete eight picks each, and the draft had its moments. Since I didn't want to rob posterity of our Mensa-level exchange, here it is:

FranT: I'll pick first. With the top choice, I'm taking Barney Gumble. I won't say much more about him than I did here, but I can't overstate how skillful Barney is at the Art of Drinking. To Barney, Duff is as necessary as spinach is to Popeye; he's not whole without it. The other characters that we're about to draft aspire to be boozehounds, but Barney would drink all of them under the table.

Kavanaugh: Nice. First spot on my roster goes to Van Wilder.

More of a "partier" with drinking skills coming as a by-product, Van Wilder was somewhat of a hero to me growing up. He showed us that you can be cool and get the girl without compromising who you are. But here are his qualities that make him my top pick:

-Literally a professional partier. Great organizational skills such as creating "The Naked Mile." 
-Not afraid to get into mischief, and skilled at getting out of it. 
-Quick-witted.
-"Real-life responsibilities" low on his priority list. 
-Has a great heart -- he threw a killer party for the nerdiest guys on campus because he thought they were good guys.
-His life motto is that he's waiting for "that dare-to-be-great moment."

FranT: My second pick was already a legendary party animal when Van Wilder was still drinking breast milk. I'm selecting John "Bluto" Blutarski. Frankly, it's an upset that he fell to even the second round.

Bluto -- he of the 0.0 GPA -- was one of movie history's legendary dirtbags, and he never played around when it came to imbibing spirits. Even though he didn't drink all the time, Bluto lived drunk. After all, no sober person could have come up with the "I'm a zit! Get it?" gag. 



With Bluto aboard, my fictional drinking team is looking strong. 

Kavanaugh: Yeah, in many ways, the Animal House guys are the forebears of Van Wilder. The actor who played Otter is Van Wilder's dad, which is the perfect homage. Shoot, is Van Wilder the Darko Milicic of this draft?! We'll see...

My second pick is Peter Griffin, a hilarious fat guy with a seemingly unlimited supply of jokes, insults, and cultural references.  

FranT: Peter was definitely on my list of prospects. 
(Lois: "You're drunk again!"
Peter: "No, I'm just exhausted 'cause I've been up all night drinking.")

With my third pick, I'm taking Norm Peterson. Every time he walks into Cheers, all the other patrons raise their glasses and exclaim his name. The stereotype that Norm created follows barflies around to this day. I've heard people tell several of my friends that they're "like Norm" because of the amount of time they spend at the pub. When you're the alky who sets the baseline for other alkies, you're on my squad. 

I think I even came up with a tentative team name: FranT's Skell-Stars. Whether I stick with that moniker or not, Norm's in the lineup.

Kavanaugh: Haha, the Skell-Stars has some cache. 

My third slot goes to Landfill from Beerfest. He has a loud, jerky, arrogant quality that you hate if you're an outsider, but love if he's your friend. He's got a great nickname. His chugging skills set the tone at any party, and provide entertainment and hilarity. And, if he should kick off, his twin brother Gil is likely to step in for him without skipping a chug. 

FranT: We talked on the phone the other day about how Landfill is a great pick because he's actually a great drinker, not just someone who'd be fun to grab a drink with. That's an important distinction. 

For my fourth pick (seventh overall), I'm taking Jimmy McNulty from The Wire. McNulty is my favorite type of boozebag -- the functional kind. He's always taking pulls from his flask on the job, but he's one of the best detectives in the entire Baltimore Police Department. So what if his drinking ruined his marriage and many of his personal relationships? McNulty would still be a great guy to get hammered with. 

McNulty's local, Kavanagh's, didn't crack How Blank's list of the best fictional bars, but it probably should've made the cut. It would be a pleasure to drunkenly belt out Irish tunes there with Jimmy and his cop buddies.

An added bonus to the McNulty pick: You'd probably get to hang out with his buddy Bunk all the time, as well.

Kavanaugh: There need to be more bars called Kavanagh's around.

For my next pick I'm selecting Frank Ricard, a.k.a. Frank the Tank, from Old School. Best known for his propensity for streaking and interest in late night KFC, Frank also takes down a beer funnel with ease, enjoys a casual PBR while taking the restrictor plate off his car, and is basically up for whatever. Van Wilder is more of the leader in my crew, so Frank will fall in line nicely. 

Also, Frank's tolerance is sky-high from taking a horse tranquilizer to the neck once and living to tell the tale. I think that's how it works. 

FranT: Frank the Tank is hilarious, but I'd debate his drinking prowess. He's a slow funneler, and by the end of the party he's spilling beers all over himself. He actually appears to have a pretty weak tolerance since he ends up streaking. In a possibly related detail, his wiener is tiny.

My next pick, though? This man can drink. With the ninth overall selection, I''m taking Doug Coughlin from Cocktail. Doug says, "No matter how liberal this world may become, a man will always be judged by the amount of alcohol he can consume. And women will always be impressed with it, whether they like it or not." And Doug lives that mantra. He picks up hot chicks and parties around the clock. Fittingly, Doug dies how he lived -- with a bottle in his hand.

Doug is a solid selection because no drinking team is complete without an Aussie and an Irishman. Now I've got Down Under covered, and I'll grab a son of Erin later on.

Kavanaugh: Alright maybe, but Frank the Tank's definitely a "drinker" as opposed to a "character who drinks on screen."

Want to know another good drinker? Rust Cohle from True Detective. This guy can put them BACK. He's in the camp of "always having a drink" as opposed to the binging mentality or possessing any skill at drinking games or feats. Ever hear of the dink-and-dunk offense in football? Let's call Rust's game the "drink-and-drunk" offense. Here's another sports analogy: he's the Tony Gwynn* of boozehounds. 

*The reference to Gwynn just a month before his death was purely coincidental. 

He drinks Lone Star six-packs every Thursday at noon, with no exceptions, and sucks down Jameson like it's water. He tends to be a bit...dark, but every team needs someone to get the late-night philosophical convos going, right? Some people, like his partner Marty, don't want to hear his nihilistic points of view. But I'm all for them, as long as I get to hear about "the flat circle" while taking down Lone Star by the case. 

Lastly, if things get dicey, I trust this guy to defend the crew or get us out of just about any situation, even half in the bag. 

FranT: I love how Rust's main request for beer is "nothing snooty." With his love of cheap brew and penchant for telling outrageous stories, he easily could have cracked the list of my recent TV man-crushes. He was definitely one of the next prospects on my big board of fictional drinkers.

To start off the second half of this draft (because I guess we're really going to choose 10 drinkers each*), I'm taking Connor MacManus from The Boondock Saints. Just like with Jimmy McNulty, who always drank with Bunk Moreland, Connor gives me a chance to hang out with another fantastic drinker -- in this case, his brother Murphy. The brothers drink like the world is coming to an end, and their favorite holiday is obviously St. Patrick's Day. As with Rust, Connor and Murphy will be handy to have around during barroom brawls.

*Didn't happen...

Kavanaugh: My next pick is a throwback to Westeros with Tyrion Lannister. 


Photo via dailymail.co.uk
This little bugger is almost never not drunk. His drinking philosophy can vary between being playful and harsh, but this dude will always have a glass of wine or mead with you and share a quick-witted conversation; just don't be on the wrong end of it. He's rich, so he's always willing to pick up the tab. Also, he's good at creating his own drinking games on the spot while divulging disturbing family secrets. Sign me up!

FranT: Lord Tyrion is a great pick! He's a dwarf with the drinking capability of a giant. I haven't yet gotten to the episode that contains that clip, so thanks for including it.

As the 13th overall pick, my seventh drinker is Henry Chinanski. Hank appears in a bunch of Charles Bukowski's novels and poems, and his story is loosely based on Bukowski's own skelly life. Chinanski basically works as a professional drinker and horse bettor, but he keeps a second job as a postal worker. He hates people, which is a shame because he'd make such a profound drinking buddy. 

Here's a sample of what you'd hear if you ever bent elbows with Hank: "That's the problem with drinking, I thought, as I poured myself a drink. If something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen." Yeah, he's a solid draft-day acquisition.

Kavanaugh: My list needs more literary antiheroes like the Bukowski character. But not yet -- my next pick is Adam DeMamp from Workaholics. It's truly a team effort with these guys, but Adam's definitely the catalyst for most of their adventures. Despite his penchant for pretty much any substance, he retains an innocence that's tough to be angry at. I like the dynamic he's going to bring to my group. Also, he's one of the more creative drinkers you'll ever find. 

FranT: I've never watched Workaholics, but my next pick seems like the female equivalent of that guy. I'm taking Meredith from The Office with my eighth choice. She's always getting hammered at office parties and -- more impressively -- during the regular workday. Meredith takes her boozing so seriously that Michael once hilariously tried to "deposit" her into rehab. Clearly, Meredith's drinking affects her family, as she raised a son who eventually became a stripper. But that's not my problem; I'm assembling a Skell-Star team, not a list of role models.

Kavanaugh: My next pick (No. 8 on my team) is Don Draper. The guy is captain of the "hard liquor line" on my team. He drinks for fun, he drinks at work, and he drinks because he can't imagine doing anything other than that. Even when he's doing household chores, he takes down five or six beers to make it tolerable. When his wife has a house party and the guests are drinking homemade mint juleps, he identifies his fellow Alpha Drinkers and says, "You want somethin' a little stronger than that?" One of the coolest cats in all of television, I'm happy to have him on the back end of my squad. 

So there you have it. Here are the final (or, I guess not-so-final) drinking teams we each drafted:

FranT
1. Barney Gumble (The Simpsons)
2. Bluto Blutarski (Animal House)
3. Norm Peterson (Cheers)
4. Jimmy McNulty (The Wire
5. Doug Coughlin (Cocktail)
6. Connor MacManus (The Boondock Saints)
7. Henry Chinanski (Multiple Charles Bukoswki Works)
8. Meredith Palmer (The Office)

Kavanaugh
1. Van Wilder (Van Wilder)
2. Peter Griffin (Family Guy)
3. Landfill (Beerfest)
4. Frank the Tank (Old School)
5. Rust Cohle (True Detective)
6. Tyrion Lannister (Game of Thrones)
7. Adam DeMamp (Workaholics)
8. Don Draper (Mad Men

Be sure to vote in the poll on the side of How Blank's homepage to pick your favorite fictional drinker.



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Follow FranT on Twitter at @frantweet and follow Brian Kavanaugh at @btkav

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