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Aug 5, 2003

Advice Column for August 5, 2003

Alright, I am absolutely NOT answering any more letters from people who don’t capitalize the letter “I” when referring to themselves! I spent like ten minutes cleaning that crap up this week! Fuck you people!

Got a question? Want an answer? Ask Ray! (ray /at/ achewood /dot/ com)

Some letters are edited for clarity and grammar.

H E R E   W E   GO !
Listen to the theme to Ray's Place, by Milwaukee Youth Children's Choir, aka MC Frontalot

I've always found my fellow musicians' claims that psilocybin enhances creativity dubious (frankly, I'm too chicken to try it), but I don't have the experience to say.

I know that you're a successful musician, but maybe that deal you signed doesn't provide for inspiration 24/7 - would you care to comment on the relationship between drugs and creativity?
- In a Rut.

Dear In a Rut,

I looked up “psilocybin” on Google and man, that’s what ‘shrooms are! I guess I did not know that. Anyhow, what I like to have goin’ on when I’m writin’ music is a tall chilled one, either a mojito cocktail or something else that strikes my fancy. I also will dabble with red wine, as it is very mellow and allows for several hours at the piano.

But anyhow, your letter reminds me of the one time I did ‘shrooms, way back a few years ago. Téodor and Lyle and me went on this camping trip and Lyle cooked them into this Top Ramen we had. We ate it and it tasted like normal old Ramen but kind of “woody” from the dried shrooms. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was up for it, you know. We just chilled out for a few minutes after eating, then decided to start taking a walk through this big grassy field which led to a mountain. Wouldn’t you know it but pretty soon all the grass was way louder than usual, and it sounded like crispy ocean waves! Man, it was a blast! Then we got to this sort of small river we had to cross and Lyle just took his pants off (he had purple tie-dyed briefs on, can you believe that?!) and went through...I was going insane with worry that all kinds of folks would see and disapprove of his pants all bein’ off so close to the campground parking lot. I think most of the onlookers were international tourists, though, because they just laughed at him. Anyhow, I eventually hiked through the river in all my boots and jeans and stuff and we got going. At some point a little ways up the mountain I thought to myself, “man, now I understand all those Led Zeppelin album covers with all those hobbit-type guys asleep under trees!” Even though there are no Led Zeppelin album covers with that sort of artwork, it was a powerful feeling about life and timelessness.

I guess I would have made pretty bad music that day, just thinking that anything sounded great and concentrating on one chord for like twenty-five minutes, completely blowing my own mind. I would mostly focus on red wine if you want to write hits.

My cat Tiny is pregnant, AGAIN. She's not actually my cat. She's a stray, but I feed her. She just had a litter last April and now she's pregnant again. We've been meaning to get her spayed, but as soon as the first litter is out, she is pregnant again. Is it possible to get a cat spayed even while it's pregnant? And how wrong is that? I'm having a moral dilemma.
Morally concerned

Dear M.C.,

First of all, let me say that it was not me. I haven’t gone with anyone named Tiny in a long time, and even then I have always been careful to bag it (I’m kind of a germ-o-phobe).

I will let you in on kind of a dark part in my life. There was this one time, quite a while ago, when I was just a crazy young guy, cold buck-wylin’ with a fever for life. I met up with this girl named Vanessa and I don’t need to tell you what happened next. Pretty soon I’m gettin' all these phone calls from her, all in tears, sayin’ she’s pregnant and doesn’t know what to do. I told her I’d drive her to the abortion company (“clinic,” she corrected me), ‘cause that was the only thing I could think of to do (I certainly wasn’t ready to have 4-6 kids, and neither was she). A couple hours later the deed was done. We split the bill on our MasterCards and I dropped her off at her friend’s place so she could collect herself before going home. It was a sad day. After she got out of the car, I didn’t even peel out like I usually did at that point in my life. I just put my head down, turned on some mega-pensive Seals & Croft, and rolled home with a tear in my eye.

I guess what I am saying here is that you gotta do the smart thing and it ain’t always pretty. Call your doctor and get the lowdown on her options. Damn, this is bringing back some unpleasant memories.

What kind of music do you like to listen to during your day to day life? Like for when you're folding laundry or cooking or whatever?
Anonymous, Internet

Dear Anonymous,

Whoah, another question about music! Let’s hope I’m not all tapped out.

Right now playing through my house’s Bose sound system is that “Muppets” song – you know the one: Rainbow Connection. That is a bitchin’ song, in a nostalgic way, but it’s not usually playin’ at my place—don’t get the wrong idea. It just happens to be on the CD player’s “random” playlist right now. Usually it’s some kind of Keith Sweat or, if I’m in a bad mood, that song from Men in Black where the giant worm promises that he’s going to eat the earth.

I have to ask that people try to stick to advice-type questions. This was not advice-seeking, it was probative.

I had a thing for a certain girl (girl A) a while ago. She lives far away and we discussed feelings once and decided to just be friends. Since then I met another lady (girl B) and fancy her lots. I was up the way girl A lives and she said I could come visit so I stayed at her place for a few days. Doing this sparked a whole new feeling for her and I found myself infatuated again. I overrode this feeling logically by looking at the distance and also by meeting her incredibly attractive boyfriend. Still, I find myself having strong feelings for girl A. This would be fine except that girl B now wants to have a relationship. Is it right to just go out with girl B when I know there is a girl out there that I like tons more but have no chance with? My advice to myself was to wait until my feelings for girl A dissipate, then go after girl B, but girl A is still my friend and we talk on a regular basis so I cant see that happening and I'm not going to cut off our friendship. I am too much of a pansy to decide what to do.
TJ, Canada

Dear TJ.,

Oh man are you just a bunch of fried eggs. I tried to Google your email address to find out more about you but Google just said, “he’s 13 years old, dude, who cares? Just tell him ain’t no one cares.”

Since when is Google kind of rude?! Anyhow, don’t date either of them for the reasons you already understand.

I'm a loser, Ray, and I don't want to be. I'm fat and I have no job, no friends, no car, no lady-friend, no TV and just one pair of new-looking pants. I've been like this for a while, and I guess I know why too. I just don't want to get up and do anything. Every time I think about doing anything that I need to do my mind automatically starts thinking about something else, and I just want to stay immobile even more. I can't pay my bills on time because when they get here I can't think about paying them. I don't want to get up and take a shower, even though I rather enjoy showers and being clean. Responsibility gives me panic-shakes. I keep wishing I could live like a hermit, but at the same time I'm quite lonely as it is. Got any advice on how to force myself to do the needful?
One Step Up From a Slug, in sunny western Washington

Dear One Step,

It sounds like you got depression pretty bad. You should see a therapist or counselor to get your life back on track. I am not a therapist, or a counselor. I am—you guessed it—Ray Motherfucking Smuckles. $$ MEOW $$

Readers: Even more responses from a different, new gun person!

Bruce Willis used a Berreta M92F 9mm handgun in the Die Hard series, which is the same pistol that the US Army issues.

Also: Ray, we know that you are a bon vivant and a literal party animal. How do the Onstads stack up in comparison?

Dear EPM,

Man, ain’t it weird how I guessed that “9 Millimeter” was the right type of gun? I guess there is something to this whole “subconsciousness” thing. I had not even seen that movie in maybe years, but there was just something that made me say that particular gun name. Amazing!

Anyhow: The Onstads. Man, they are all right, you know. They will kind of fade early and head on back to their place, but usually Chris shows up alone a little while later, totally torched up on “smile juice” and just wanting to hit golf balls or whatever or throw Téodor into the pool while laughing. That’s when we really get down. Man, last Saturday night that dude got a trowel and threw a bunch of dog shit against the wall of my house! The dude knows what he wants to do, and he does it.

Chris also seems to have depression a lot, based on how little he does during the day.

Last night, I had some Smirnoff twisted something-or-other-malt-beverage, that tasted like some type of Jolly Rancher. I was wondering how these are made, if you know. My thought is that they put actual Jolly Ranchers in the brewing/distillery/filtering vats. Other than that question, I know just about everything.
Josh, NH

Dear Josh,

Yeah, it sounds like you had that new [consults website] Smirnoff Ice. How they make these is that a bunch of commercial liquids are mixed together in large stainless steel tanks and then they spray in all that stuff from Chewels...I don’t know. That ain’t my thing. Those types of drinks have more calories than a Mars bar or a burrito, and they totally dry me out. You know all those ads where people have fun drinking that stuff? That is fake.

I'm totally married and totally planning on being so until the big sleep. Divorce: not an option. That being said, my wife like totally used to massage my tube with her uvula (if you know what I mean) a lot more than she does now.

It's not that she won't, but I have to bring it up, like proactively and all, or my guy will never get the suckling that he wants. My success rate is like 20%.

Can you give me some cute, smooth lines that will make her more willing to apply the coat throat?
- Not as blown as I'd like.


Man, doesn’t the acronym of your name totally sound like the sort of drug that you would take to make you want to give bj’s again? Anyhow, there is no such drug available through the pharmacy, so let’s just stop that thought there and move on.

Okay, so you are a down-home regular solid dude who has noticed a steep decline in bj’s since getting married. This is normal. Welcome to the rest of your life! WHOOPS you got married WHOOOOOOPS!

Four of my friends and I are moving into a house at CU-Boulder in a few weeks and earlier this summer we managed to pick up a bar for $20 or so. Not too shabby, about 10 feet long or so, 'L' shaped, and a little window on the corner to show off the classy liquor. Anyway, that's about all we have. What do you recommend we get to complete the bar other than the essentials (stools, some good liquor, mixers, possibly a soda gun if we're lucky)?
J., CO

Dear J.,

Okay, so now you own some wood. I am picturing pressed brown fiberboard held together with screws. It actually does sound pretty shabby.

Anyhow, I guess I just recommend getting a bunch of booze and xeroxing flyers which tell people to come to your “bar” (some wood).

I graduated from high school in the spring, and the major I signed up for is Electrical Engineering. I have a lot of interests, though, and I'm thinking about changing it to one of those junk majors, like Philosophy or Liberal Arts or Political Science. Do you have any opinion on this? Is a degree a degree?
Sleepless in Boise

Dear Boise,

You should study a subject which you like. You apparently don’t like subjects which deal mainly in ideas, so I would stay away from those. Maybe you could also eat out your own ass instead of writing in anymore?

 (_*_)    <- eat that [your ass] 

I'm taking a cultural anthropology class this summer and we were reading about this tribe in Nepal that herd these Zomo things. They are basically the love children of a cow and a yak that were forced to do the nasty together. Anyway, when these Zomo produce offspring, the offspring are basically worthless because all they can do is eat (they can't produce milk or reproduce). Since the people that heard Zomo are Buddhist they don't believe in killing animals so they make muzzles for the little baby Zomo so they can't eat and starve to death. Would you agree with me that this is probably the saddest thing? I say just kill the damn thing and get it over with.

Dear Leila,

Hm. A creature which is born only to die? Reminds me of the man I see...when I look in the mirror.

(Sorry, faded, kind of late.)

I first realized my problem when I read your response to MK from the internet who said she was a secret pantywaist. It was when I read the words, "a real 'Fifth-Gear Frances,' someone who can take a bite out of a lead brick and spit out a small die-cast model of a sailing ship" that I finally admitted to myself what I have known for a long time:

I love you, Ray.

That is so sweet to say, but also such a sadness! Why? Because you are a little small cat and I am a human lady of average size. How can I realize my dream of you and me holding hands & looking into each other's eyes while we are lounging on expensive pool floats that have drinks holders? Imagine how that would look, like if somebody flew over the pool in a helicopter. The whole thing would just be ridiculous.

Tearful love from,
Your devoted admirer,

Dear Bella,

Yeah, after that one dyke sent her picture in I am way more reluctant to lay down the blanket statement that I love all lesbians (and women in general) in a sexual way. I gotta see a photo first now. It’s kind of rude but it’s also kind of smarter and safer. I cannot say anything sexy about you until I got that “.jpg” goin’ on. And it can’t be just of the face!

I am sorry to be so reserved given your strong romantic outpouring, but maybe send in a photo (show at least from hips to very top of head). Thanks for the kind words.

ray (at) achewood (dot) com

I never thought I would have to write to you, but this has been bothering me for ages, and you seem like a pro at the incessant alcohol-related questions. One time, at this Japanese restaurant, the waitress poured my beer while STANDING and she didn't even tilt the glass. To my amazement, there was absolutely no head. I have tried to repeat her tactic, but I always end up with a ton of foam. Is this some sort of Japanese magic, or is there a how-to I could consult?
Foaming at the Mouth, Edmonton

Dear FAME,

Man, me and Lyle must have gone through a case and a half trying different angles, different kinds of glasses, different kinds of beers, etc. Basically all we found out is that Lyle can pee way further than me off the deck (I lost five bucks on that one, and nearly got a hernia), and also that it is possible to sleep on the lawn with a snail crawling around on your face and not even wake up until it goes in your mouth.

Basically, my suspicion is that they poured oldish keg beer into a used, chilled ”prop” bottle, brought the bottle to the table and poured it into your glass. That way it didn’t foam up too bad. Restaurants are full of money saving tricks like that. Did you know that Italian places re-use the bread you don’t eat, and that Chinese places take your uneaten rice and make it into fried rice? They ain’t gonna waste perfectly good food. They don’t make that much money as it is. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if that beer you got had been collected outta a bunch of other glasses, actually, and kind of run through a sieve to take out large pieces of spit and the odd booger.

Dear Readers: this is a follow-up to last week’s question involving a girl who wanted to break up with her boyfriend of two years, but didn’t provide any details, so I accused her of liking Electrical Engineering way too much and having an oily, yellowed pillow.

So I'm 18 and just graduated from high school. In three weeks I'm moving to Toronto, six hrs away from my hometown. We've been dating for two years. He's basically still the same guy I started [dating], he hasn't changed a bit, while I've grown up and matured. [We’re] going in two completely different directions: I'm away to go to University, he's going back high school then joining the army. But, he's the first guy I ever loved and I lost my virginity to him. We've been through a lot together. What's the best way to tell him that it's over? (Hopefully this [is] better detailed than last week)
Me Again
(by amicable, I mean doesn't try to kill me)

Dear Me Again,

Okay, it sounds like life is doing the breaking-up for you. Have you read any of my earlier responses to people in relationships who go to different parts of the world after college? It is cold, straight-up, e=mc2 not going to be an issue. You will definitely not see each other any more.

I would like to reëmphasize the point that “the first person you ever loved” is sort of the same thing as “the first pancake you ever made,” or “the first mouse you ever used to click on a link that bought a CD.” It’s not really that special, if you look at the details on paper. (“Dear Diary: Jerome was at high school again today. He let me borrow some of those little rubber bands for my braces. He uses the green kind too. Now I truly know what Shakespeare meant by ‘star-crossed lovers.’”)

[Don’t EVEN bug me about usin’ an umlaut up there. The New Yorker does it and now I do too.]

I am a musician (guitar/banjo) who is having great difficulty writing songs. I've been playing for over seven years now, so I don't think that it's because I don't know what I'm doing. I've tried to write sad songs, happy songs, drunken songs, stoner songs, country songs, folk songs, metal songs, noise songs, the list keeps going and going. I've tried to write while sober and intoxicated but nothing seems to work for me. Every now and again I stumble onto a good song, but is very rare. I can do pretty good cover songs, so I think I can play, I just can't write any!
Banjo-Geek, Ont.

Dear Banjo Geek,

I guess what you are saying is that you want to write songs but are kind of a “Salieri.” You know, the guy who killed Mozart out of jealousy. He was kind of a hacky normal musician who knew how to write correct sheet music and stuff, but he had no junk hangin’ down. It’s too bad that you’re a Salieri, but you probably aren’t a Salieri in everything you like to do. There is probably a thing you like to do that you really get good results at. Follow that thing, man. Follow that thing – follow that thing. (Follow that thing.)

I've met a guy that intellectually I know would make a better friend than a boyfriend - hilarious but self-absorbed, beautiful but distracted, etc. The problem is, every time he's around, my heart races and I can't stop grinning. In short, I have a terrible crush on him. Now I know that this is a temporary condition, and once I meet some new people my desperate attraction to this boy will fade. But in the meantime, what I really need is a method - here I'm thinking something like Homer Simpson's "thinkunsexythoughts thinkunsexythoughts," but more effective - to chill out and keep from embarrassing him and myself. We have friends in common and hang out at the same places, so it's not really realistic to avoid him. Any thoughts on this?
Sincerely, X., Internet

Dear X.,

It sounds like two things are going on here: first of all, you are really attracted to this dude. Secondly, you have a huge piece of clay instead of a brain.

Why are you trying to “think” your way around a person you are attracted to? You can’t outsmart yourself, girlie. That would be a total paradox. Give the guy a try, live your life. Your subconscious knows what your conscious brain won’t admit: that you’re just afraid of failing with this dude because he seems so perfect for you.

Send me a wedding photo or just some stuff of you swimming or whatever.

Eight months ago, my brother got divorced for the second time. The first marriage was a mistake - he knocked up his college girlfriend and married her thinking it was the right thing to do. After seven years of hell, that finally ended. The second marriage was much better, and why it ended is still a mystery to most of us. "She got bored" is the closest thing to a reason we have for why his second wife left. After that divorce was finalized, my brother got involved with a married woman, fell head over heels in love with her, got dumped by her, fell in love with her best friend, got dumped by her too, joined an S&M club, fell in love with somebody he met during a "bondage and discipline" session there, and just last week proposed to that woman.

So you can see what my dilemma is: my brother is in desperate need of an ass-beating, but if I give him even half the beating he needs, I could cause permanent physical harm and possibly even face criminal charges. Do you know of anything I can do to or for him that might help him get his head out of his ass without seriously risking his health?
Frustrated Brother, Indianapolis

Dear Frustrated,

Most psychology books do not recommend big brotherly beatings as proper therapy, so I am going to have to respectfully disagree with you there. Historically speaking, your brother *likes* beatings, hence he joined an S&M club where he pays to receive them regularly. If you started beating him he would probably try to marry you, too. It is weird that a dude would be attracted to being beaten, so I’m guessing that the troubles with his psychology go way deeper than you or he can solve alone. What I would recommend to do is consult with a psychiatrist, particularly one as good as that guy Dr. Emil Skoda on Law & Order—a real Sherlock Holmes of the brain. Good luck.

My best friend had been going out with this guy for over a year, when he decided that they should "take a break" while they go to college (together). He claims that if they haven't found other people after that, they will get married. This is bullshit because he just wants to fool around with other girls for the next four years, but my friend will not face the facts. To top it all off, they are still having sex. She has low self-esteem and doesn't want to lose him all together, so she won't tell him off. What should she do? How can I help my friend assert herself in this relationship?
Concerned, Austin, TX

Dear Concerned,

Yeah, your friend’s being taken for a long stroll down No Dignity Lane here. (Hold on, I have to change the music on the CD changer, it is that annoying song from Austin Powers).

Okay, sorry about that. Anyhow: have a real heart-to-heart talk with her and tell her how it looks from your perspective. When she hears the facts from your point of view, the absurdity [crud, hold on again. My ear is all itchy from too much ear wax. I’ll be right back.]

Whoah, who put...what is this? “Human League?” What in hell is this 80’s crap? Who was in here while I was out Q-tippin’?

Oh, I know what it was. I let Téodor bring some date here last night because Lyle broke all the plates over at their place. Damn is this some sappy music.

Okay, what? Alright, your friend’s birth canal is getting all played out by some dude and you hate that. Fair enough. Unsustainable situations like that sort themselves out. He’ll get a new girlfriend soon enough and just plain stop seeing her. Be supportive, it will be a time of growth and maturation for her.

I think as well as using a bartender’s spoon, Déesse should also change the order of the ingredients. When you make a layered shot you want the heaviest liquids at the bottom of the glass and the lightest at the top. The heavier liquids are those that are high in sugar, like liqueurs (your Kahlua and banana liqueurs for example). A milk-based drink like Baileys should be on top of these because it contains less sugar. Plain spirits (like Vodka or whatever) have no sugar so they should be last. Deciding whether the Kahlua or banana should be first is tough, unless you have a mass spectrometer or something. My gut feel is that you should go Kahlua, banana, Baileys.
G-Monet from Sydney Australia.

Dear G-Monet,

This is excellent advice. Thank you for bringing it up. I hope Déesse did not waste too much liquor just following my incomplete instructions.

You know what I think would be neat? At the grocery store, near the checkouts, there have always been these bins of “Brachs” chewy nickel candies. My favorite has always been the Neapolitan: a rectangle with a pink, white and brown layer (the white layer is coconut flavor). I wonder how you would make a shooter with those colors? I don’t know what would be the pink layer, or how you’d get coconut flavor.

I’m at an impasse as to where should I try my luck; I am currently living in an apartment in Tokyo (my first time living alone, let alone in a different country). However, this apartment’s lease goes up in about two months, and so I have that much time to decide whether to: A) stay in Japan (a place I’m still trying to adjust to, but have much enthusiasm for – I’ve been wanting to live here for a little over ten years) or B) accept an offer to come home (Seattle, Washington). It’s not a bad place by any means (I’m definitely more familiar with it), but before leaving I made some half-assed proclamation to the extent of "I’ll never set foot here again," (which people actually took seriously) meaning I’d probably sacrifice some dignity by returning.

Both options seem to have their pros and cons to me, and I’ve gone through many sleepless nights and pads of paper comparing one choice to the other. I guess what I’m asking, in so many words, is: what’s the opinion of the coolest cat to ever wear a thong on the situation here?
Split down the middle in Soshigaya

Dear Split,

Don’t worry about what you said to some people about what you would or wouldn’t do in the future. They don’t care at all, that shouldn’t be a factor. Keep living abroad while you’re young and single—that sounds fun. There is plenty of time to live in Seattle later, particularly when you want your thighs to go a pure, milky white.

Confidential to the guy with explosive diarrhea: very clever, just getting a new Hotmail account. I have added it to my “spam” blocker, so good luck getting through to me now.

* A Gentle Reminder (“Disclaimer”): This is advice from a cartoon cat, and should not be taken seriously. We are not responsible for anything you do based on what Ray says, or otherwise. Do not commit suicide or otherwise interrupt the lives of others. Continue on with your life as though you had never read this column. Erase your browser history. Not for readers under 18 years of age.