3 Authentically Irish Ways to Celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day

Originally written March 3, 2017 at Tradition Brewing Co.

3: Get a Tattoo

We’re all Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day, but why relegate your false heritage to some arbitrary calendar date? Be Irish for life with a tattoo.

Popular Irish tattoo selections include four-leaf clovers and Celtic crosses. But if you’re the sophisticated type (venti moccachino with two shots of Bailey’s), get an Irish proverb done in the original Gaelic. Here’s an idea, pro bono*:

“Is iomaí slí muc a mharú seachas a thachtadh le h-im,”

(There are many ways of killing a pig other than by choking it with butter.)

Tip: It is unsmart/unsafe to get tattooed while under the influence of alcohol; get your tattoo before you start pre-gaming the day prior so that you can show it to some gingers the next day and goad them into buying you shots of Jameson’s.

*pro bono means it’s so Irish it’d impress Bono.


2: Kiss People… They’re Irish

These days the term “mouth rape” gets tossed around like a wad of gum in an aggressive make out session, so understand that the slogan on a stranger’s tee-shirt will not hold up as written consent when you’re on trial. With that said, wear your own shirt and ask people to smooch you. Make a game out of it. With the right demographic and frequency –say, at the local Saint Patty’s Day parade- you just may be able to cop a buzz from the whiskey breath.


1: Don’t Celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day

Nothing’s more Irish than unrequited stubbornness. A true Irishman does not need a catholic holiday to guilt him into drinking himself belligerent; it’s a daily dinnertime ritual. Instead, walk to the nearest Mexican cantina and order a large frozen margarita. Even if your genealogical heritage is as far from the Emerald Isle as Stephen Hawking is from his own attic, it won’t take a pint of Guinness to summon the desire of your inner banshee to urinate all over the Lucky Blarney Stone (or the lucky dumpster behind Plaza Azteca.)


Happy Valentine’s Day From Your Friends in Third-Wheeler Purgatory

Originally written January 11, 2017 at Shamrock (New Orleans)

I once dreamed of making feature films worthy of the highest accolades and prestigious awards. I heard the gift bags at award shows were legendary, and my eBay account could have used a ratings boost. The closest I ever got to professional film-making was the few times that friends hired me to film their most public of displays of affection; I made wedding videos.

Then I sold my camera and equipment to buy books for school (hello, eBay ratings!) And while I’m no longer paid to document PDA’s, I am still hopeful to one day make my films a reality.

So I sit here in Third-Wheeler Purgatory (the bar), subjected to all of the weird touchy feely things you do around me and unknowingly fueling fodder for my film scripts. I got to tell you, what I see is very uninspired. On behalf of single people everywhere, I’d like to share some of my notes with you.


First off, own it. Here’s your motivation: While us single people have a hole in our hearts that used to be filled with love, you have a hole in your good senses that used to be filled with a sense of shame. You have sober what us single people will be cleaning out our wallets for.

I see far too many people stealing pecks on the sly. Even worse, I’ve seen you freaks macking uncontrollably, then staring at each other like it’s a moment shared between only the two of you. Well, surprise! We are all in on that moment as well. Since we all have an equal stake in your love life, here’s how we would like to see that kiss happen:



DAVE and MARSHA cozy up across the booth from Marsha’s work friends, WHOSIT and NOBODY.


So there I am, in front of the whole office, and I tell the man that he-

Dave leans over and kisses Marsha (French style) for a solid five-Mississippi.


…that he can keep his shitty sales bonus.

They all laugh except Marsha.


Also, we really like fights. Not that we delight in your misfortune, remember- we’re all in this together. Like the kiss, you can’t be too aggressive in your fight, nor can you do it too passively. Enjoy this sample, and feel free to riff.


Marsha slaps Dave across the face. It’s so awky that it feels like it lasts five-Mississippi. The whole bar falls silent.


What the hell was that?


Wha… what the hell was that?


You think you’re a dentist? You think you can just lean over and perform a spontaneous molar inspection?

Laughter erupts around them. Someone at the bar whistles.


          I was being romantic, Marsha.


          Is mouth rape romantic?


It would be if I were a dentist!

Ooh’s and ah’s from the bar.


See that? A little kosher domestic violence and a little cinematic exposition, but at no point do Dave and Marsha force us out of the scene by escalating it to an unreasonable level.

One last bit of professional insight. You could probably direct your own wedding video using Go-Pros and selfie sticks, but that would be way too much effort and uncomfortable for all involved. Especially for the spectators (guests). So why, for the love of god, do you take selfies every time you kiss? Hear this: you don’t look carefree and cute and hopelessly in love. You look desperate for attention and affirmation.

In the spirit of enabling you to further disseminate your PDAs to the virtual world without ruining the moment for all of us, I’d like to offer my humble services as an ethical voyeur and document all your PDAs for you. We can work out payment/legal forms after the fact. So before I go, here’s the makeup scene.



          I’m sorry I slapped you.


          I’m sorry I-

He kisses her without warning and at no point during those five seconds does anyone take any pictures or selfies, and everyone at the bar gets back to drinking and we all get on with our lives and I get paid.


Happy Valentine’s Day!

Your Bachelor’s Degree is a Participation Trophy

Originally written December 4, 2016 at Dog Street Pub

I worked very hard to earn the only participation trophy I ever received. They also gave one to the kid who sat in the grass picking at his own jock strap, but I earned my trophy, damn it!

Cries ring out from the country clubs and nursing homes about how the millennials were ruined by the participation trophy. “Something for nothing,” they say between phlegmy harrumphs. “You’re fragile and entitled, all of youse!”

I showed up to every practice and played my guts out. I put up with the coach’s shithead kid. I was hit in the face by errant soccer balls, I fell and got scraped, bruised, and bloodied. For what? Fun? The love of the game? I only played because at that age you simply participated in seasonal sports without question. It’s the type of social buy-in you continue to experience in adulthood, like playing Secret Santa at the office Christmas party or secretly fat shaming Sheryl at the office Christmas party. She offered to bring cannolis and then proceeded to only eat the cannolis. At least back in my soccer days, people like Cheryl made good goalies. Now look at her.

I fear that this same attitude is the reason I ever attempted to go to college. High school Ethan was a terrible student. Still, my teachers and guidance counselors insisted that I would never get a job without a degree. I would never be taken seriously. All my peers were doing it. So I went to college. I showed up to every class. I studied. I put up with the weirdo professors. (Side note: Those who can’t do, teach. But if you can’t do, then what freaking business do you have teaching?)

Quitting school was the most fun I had in college. I realized that the degree I aspired to was just another social buy-in. I very well cannot tell you that every degree is otherwise worthless, but I can tell you that you don’t have to be a top student in your class to get one. “D’s” may not actually get degrees, but if you show up, participate, and try your hardest, you are practically guaranteed a “B,” and “B’s” get degrees.

Every class has its valedictorian, has its jockstrap kid. Every average student in between –likely the ones who tucked away their participation trophies without a second thought- will still earn his or her respective degree.

As for me, I learned my lesson. I’m going to sit out here in the grass watching the other kids play, scratching at the itch of my own jockstrap.

Tacos and Vinyl: Obscure Record Review (Dream Hog by The Suburbs)

I know. I should have ordered pork tacos for the album with the pig cover. My chi has been off since I ordered carnitas for the album with a cow on the cover, and now in beef I have balance. Yin and yang and whatnot. No ragrets.

And here to upset my chi once again is The Suburbs’ Dream Hog E.P.

Dream Hog could be the soundtrack to an 80’s movie montage of the nightmare fuel inspired by its own cover. That’s not to say that it is bad.

Side A is four songs of pizzicato riffs set over obligatory 4/4 rhythms and laced with fun, oriental inspired simultaneous guitar and synth runs. At times the vocals come together in a baritone gestalt so gloomy and sinister, I was certain that they were being breathed down my neck.

The B-side is 45-RPM club mix of “Waiting” from side A, aural candy for anyone already a fan.

Dream Hog is a slight veer from The Suburbs’ dance style post-punk into poppy new-wave, but unlike many similar bands, they charm and infect without being obnoxious. If there is any downside to the album, it’s that it is never lyrically profound. Club crowds rarely care for lyrics, but The Suburbs had a penchant for unsettling lyrics which could have taken a darker tone on Hog. Instead we got straight-forward gloom which never manages to juxtapose in a satisfying manner; plenty of yin and not enough yang.

Tacos and Vinyl: Obscure Record Review (Jukebox of Paris by Ronney Abramson)

Tacos are salvation, and I mean that spiritually as well as anecdotally. While I’m certain you can find nirvana somewhere between the cilantro and the sriracha, sometimes you just need a buffer between your soul and, well, this:jukeboxuse





…singer-songwriter/Daria-prototype Ronney Abramson’s third and final R&B/pop/rock album, Jukebox of Paris.

The album starts with the promising “Trouble”, a raucous R&B track with a strong, punchy bass line. Then the album dips down into slower rhythms and never picks back up. Slow rhythms in R&B are sexy, and the rhythm section here does its job. It’s the songs themselves which hold the album back.

At first listen I had to wonder if Abramson just couldn’t sing; she holds back on what should be emphatic notes as if nervous that she might actually be heard… on her own record. But the woman can sing. The frailty in her voice best serves the blandness of the songs; a more fierce vocal performance would have made melodrama out of otherwise light lyrics. The album is sweet even when it’s sorrowful, even though it wants to be passionate.

The R&B genre has long served as the musical mood for nights of passion with your significant other. Jukebox might better set the mood for a night of cuddling on the couch with an accent pillow and Daria reruns.

Tacos and Vinyl: An Obscure Record Review (Raging E.P. by The Beyond)

Should you go vinyl-shopping hungry, you may end up buying a record based on beef content alone. Likewise, I am certain that by choosing to review this album under the influence of pork wrapped in corn tortillas, I’ve skewed the criticism in the record’s favor. Hey, it’s a prog-rock record. I had to partake in some sort of illicit substance in wrapped in something.

It’s staggering to believe that, pre-Nevermind, any major label would have put out a picture-vinyl featuring a cow swimming with hammerhead sharks. EMI subsidiary, Harvest (Pink Floyd, Deep Purple), did it for The Beyond in the same year as the band’s debut L.P., Crawl. Harvest must have heard something they liked.

On Raging E.P, The Beyond shift between plodding metal and skittery jazz/blues a la Rush. In fact, they make no effort to hide their affection for Rush. John Whitby maintains clean and unaffected vocals where he could easily resort to growling. There are two live tracks on the B-Side which were well worth having to squeegee the pork fat off of just to hear; they are as tight as studio versions, which is remarkable considering the amount of technical musicianship therein.

Raging is a great listen for when you need to scratch the prog-rock itch without the risk of wearing down your copy of Moving Pictures.

Charity: A Middle Finger to Big Government

Hopefully someone in the store that day had been a bigger person than I.

Originally written on December 26, 2016 at Oozlefinch Brewery    

I shop for groceries the same way I intend to survive the zombie apocalypse; dodging bodies and taking only what I can carry. Price is of no concern, the only imperative is survival. All other patrons are assumed dangerous –I’ve passed entire aisles just to protect my delectable, massive brain tissues.

I went to the grocery store today without a list, because sometimes you just need to live life like an outlaw soccer mom. I hustled through the store as I usually do, constantly gazing forward like a predatory Stephen Hawking. In the freezer aisle I was stopped by a middle-aged woman on a motorized scooter cart. Without saying anything she handed me a note. In sweet, loopy handwriting it read,

“Hello! I am deaf and going to school. Can you donate food/money/cards to help me out?”

She adorably signed it with a heart, but I was in shopping mode. I had not wanted to be bothered and was almost done shopping. So I handed the note back and said, “Sorry, I don’t have any,” and stalked off, infuriated that she had the audacity to ask for help. It’s the zombie apocalypse, dammit! Every man for himself.

It’s not a rare occurrence around here in Hampton that a stranger would come up to me and ask for money, and they often reek of booze and have bruises around their veins. There are lots of poor people around here and some of them approach you with their waistlines exposed, saying, “It’s okay, I’m unarmed.” Introverts, beware.

I continued to shop and justified that her problems weren’t mine. In the refrigerated aisle I checked a carton of eggs to see if any were cracked and none of them were. It was my last item; I could check out. I had everything I needed.

And that thought struck me hard. I had everything that I needed. It was true of the moment and in general. That woman did not have everything she needed. I wasn’t worried about the price of my own groceries, but suddenly when it was for someone else, price was a big deal.

I don’t much like our current welfare system. I won’t get into that contentious subject as we all have an opinion on the matter. I don’t like it, and it occurred to me that helping this woman directly during her time of need would bypass the welfare system. Why rely on the government when you can rely on your neighbor? That was the type of country in which I wanted to live; one where the citizens rely on each other and not on the government.

At that moment, I was what was wrong with America. I was worse than the One-Percenters who fart through fragrant suppositories (“Mmmm, good one dad! Smells like money!”), worse than the hordes of douchenoodles with man buns and their hair stylists. Maybe she wasn’t deaf, maybe she wasn’t poor. Maybe she was just paranoid and putting away supplies for the zombie apocalypse. But maybe she needed help, and I was in a position to help her.

I darted over to the soup section and scooped up half a dozen cans of soup, about five measly dollars’ worth, and then paid. I left the rest my groceries with the clerk to go find the woman in the store. She wasn’t there. I drove around the block a few times to see where she had scooted off to. She was gone. Hopefully someone in the store that day had been a bigger person than I.

Guilt is a small price to pay when you have ample rent money, a budding retirement account, and grocery money. And I won’t try to remedy that guilt because I earned it. But I do think that this year I am going to start carrying more cash on me because the people in need will fare better with whole dollars rather than the government’s leftover pennies.


Post Script

When I went to Oozlefinch to write away the blues, a woman came up to me at random and asked me if I was writing something important.

I told her, “Absolutely not. It’s all bullshit.”

“How old are you?” she said.

I told her, and she took the pen from my hand, flipped to the last page of my journal, and wrote,

“I am 43. You will not be rich and ready to refine at any age. But you will have knowledge, love, hurt, and joy. So with every event- embrace it and keep smiling, loving, and giving. Peace!”

“Keep giving.”

I intend to keep that page in my wallet straight through the zombie apocalypse and for the rest of my life, or at least until the day I forget it in the washer machine.