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Mar 15, 2004

Advice Column for March 15, 2004

Hey folks! Sorry I was away so long. I was in Antibes. Anyhow, here are the answers to all the questions that have been building up in my Inbox.

Thanks Chochachos!

Oh, P.S.: still a lot of problems with my Technology Corner article. I’m hoping to get signoff on that by the end of the week.

Listen to the theme to Ray's Place, by Milwaukee Youth Children's Choir, aka MC Frontalot

You seem like the kind of dude who might have some furniture knowledge for me. I bought some cheap vintage furniture because I really dig the way it looks; nice clean lines and for the most part, hella comfortable. The problem is the fabric is all faded. It's in pretty good shape, just discolored. I've read on the internet that you can dye furniture, which seems like the best option for me since I don't have thousands of dollars to drop on recovering it (or getting new furniture). Do you have any advice for me?
Tiki Tom

Dear Tom,

In order to dye the fabric on your furniture, you’d still have to remove the fabric from the piece in question, and that is a job best left to a skilled reupholsterer. Also, self-dyeing is a dangerous business, as the high temperatures and the chemicals involved can unevenly color, shrink or destroy old fabrics. It’s virtually impossible to get right without the correct equipment and experience.

Sorry to get your hopes down, but professional reupholstering is really the only way to go when it comes to putting a new surface on an upholstered item. Furniture is expensive to repair, but think of the decades of service it will give you once finished — more than any car or appliance!

Good luck to you, and thanks for writing in. I hope you have a great week.

Ray, recently I decided drinking crappy beer wasn't gonna do it for me anymore. I can't take drinking those watered down pilsners anymore. I need some advice on some good beers. I know the big three don't really specialize in "good" beer, but its hard to know which microbrews to look into. Also, I am confused between the differences in taste between a pale ale, brown ale, lager, etc. I'm a college student, and money isn’t coming out of thin air, [but] I don't want to be wasting my money on a beer with a pretty label and pretty bad taste.
Aspiring Beer Snob, Madison

Dear Aspiring,

I think what is happening here is that you are letting other people tell you what tastes bad or good. I have a simple test for you, and I think you should take it right away.

1). Go to the grocery store and buy a bottle of Budweiser.

2). Put that bottle at the bottom of your refrigerator overnight.

3). When you wake up the next day, brush your teeth, put your robe on, rinse several times with plain natural water, and open that beer. Pour it into a glass.

    a). Start the Braveheart DVD.

4). Take a deep breath. Clear your head. Take a nice pull from the chilled Budweiser.

5). Wasn’t that nice? Light, crisp, refreshing and full of Goods. If you need Sam Adams blowing a bunch of sugar up your ass, then get some kind of special machine with a little rubber Sam Adams doll at one end.

6). My favorite part in Braveheart is how crazy that one Irish guy is. I also like the themes of Honor and Importance.

So I figure that everyone has sipped on a Manhattan at one point or another. It's a good drink and I'm glad someone came up with it. But what about a Brooklyn? How would you mix up a Brooklyn?
Nim, Park Slope, Brooklyn

Dear Nim,

Interesting! I have never been to Brooklyn, but I am a huge Sopranos fan, so I think I get a little bit about where you are coming from. I guess in my mind I think of Brooklyn as a place where guys say “wicked” a lot and eat a ton of hot dogs. I am also picturing Tony Soprano going Christmas shopping for himself at the golf club store. Anyhow, a recipe for a drink called a “Brooklyn”? You’re on!

Drink Recipe: "Da Brooklyn Cocktail"
© 2004 Raymond Smuckles

  • 4 oz domestic draft beer, chilled
  • 1 olive-size ball of fresh buffalo mozzarella (bocconcini size)
  • Toothpick
Put the mozzarella onto the toothpick. Pour the beer into a martini glass. Put the toothpick into the beer. Welcome to Brooklyn.

I'm a huge fan of whiskey, particularly single malt scotch. I was wondering if you could give me a couple suggestions for relatively inexpensive but still decent single malts.
Thanks in advance, Cody

Dear Cody,

Beware of falling into the snob trap with this stuff — I’m a professional “nose” and serve on the boards of several international fragrance companies, but all single malt Scotches pretty much taste the same to me (“Scotchy”). Sure, some spokespeople say things about “vanilla” and “sherry casks” and stuff like that, but at the end of the day it’s just another nice way to throw bark chips at the second-floor window of Sweet Lady Oblivion.

im a young english college student who fancys one of his mates girlfreinds, i have no hope of sharing her and he acts like a jerk most of the time to her. im a bit shy getting these things off the ground, and shes not technicaly allowed to talk to me (he reckons im getting to close to her) luckly she ignors that, but, i would like to take it further w/o him realising till the last moment as it were whats the best plan?
Yours, Stuart H

Dear Stuart,

Do you see how I crossed out your letter? Pretend that I am your English teacher, and that I just gave you an “F.”

Have some dignity in your life. F

I have a problem with my roommate in college. He's basically a nice guy, but I swear every damn thing he does is the most irritating thing I've ever experienced. He's the kind of dude who doesn't realize that his roommate needs to do homework and have private time with his lady. I found out that he leaves when I play rap music, but ray I can't play rap music all the time. Stuff's gotta get done. How do I break it to this guy gently that he's ruining my life?
~ticked at temple (the university)

Dear Ticked,

It’s easy for two dudes who share a small living space to get mad at each other, particularly when the dudes are paired at random by a college software program. A lot of times colleges say these programs are going to use special variables to match students up with compatible roommates, but in reality the programs can be hard to use and often lead to the opposite purpose of which they were intended. For instance, after high school I did a quarter up at San Pablo Valley Community College, and it was weird because my roommate was this very political dude named Russell Snipes (Russell Snipes is very close to my own name, Ray Smuckles, and I was pretty much not political at that time). Anyhow, Snipes went all crazy during the Gulf War and went out onto the football field one night and blew himself up with an aquarium full of flash powder (don’t worry, the aquarium was his, not mine).

Unfortunately, it turns out you only get straight A’s when your roommate dies on accident, not as the result of suicide. That quarter I got two C’s and an Incomplete (all three in Golf).

I was reading your advice column and in particular the one letter about naming a drink. The drink was one shot of vanilla vodka in one pint of Guinness. This reminded me immediately of a drink found in my home town of St. John's in a bar called The Republic. The drink is called a Carbomb and it's a glass of Guinness and one of those mini-guinness-glasses(I think they're two or three shots) of Bailey's Irish Cream. The thing is, the Bailey's kind of curdles in the Guinness so you don't pour it in and mix it. Instead you drop the little glass into the big one and chug 'em down! It's good if you're not too slow but horrible if you hesitate.
Cheers, Jeff, Newfoundland

Dear Jeff,

Yeah, that drink is about as obscure as a gin and tonic. I don’t know why you think you are the only guy who knows about that drink. It’s a standard button on most Squirrel™-brand beverage service order entry systems (#CRBM).

Hey man, regarding the last letter in your most recent column, the complex that douchebag and his retarded douchebag girlfriend is referring to ("a female equivalent of an Oedipus complex") is called an Electra complex[.]

I know this is a stupid thing to write a letter about, but I don't get a whole lot of opportunities to show people that I know what the female equivalent of an Oedipus complex is, so I didn't want to let this slip away
Anonymous, Internet

thank yoiu

Like many other people in the first world, I write lots of email, but am now getting confused on how to sign off -- it really happened when I moved overseas to Holland, where I'm running into all these English, Australian, and of course, Dutch people. In the states, I ended email with "Take care," or "See ya," or just my name, if I was short on time.

The English use "Cheers," a lot (what's up…do they have a pint of beer next to their computers?). And the Dutch, when they're writing in English, use "greetz" or "greets" which is a literal translation of "de Groeten," or figuratively "Salutations." "Take care" which was a real favorite of mine, is too touchy-feely for these northern, more reserved cultures. To top it off, I've recently noticed that people are starting to use "Best" as well, on both sides of the ocean, which I hadn't run into ever before. Any advice on signing off?
Yo yo yo, Marco

Dear Marco,

As you know, I prefer when people are classy and use good grammar. What’s wrong with a little old-fashioned proper culture, in this day of someone named “Jay-Z” jumping over a movie title called like 2Fast2Burn in every television ad I see? What’s wrong with a little old-fashioned manners, in this day of “C U L8R” and more styles of emoticons than there are letters in the English language?

Sure, you may get regarded as “uptight” or “snooty” if you sign off with a classic such as “Best Regards,” “Sincerely,” “Cordially,” or even “Respectfully Yours.” But you know what? Be the new cool. Be the coat and tie in the sea of exposed thongs and boxer shorts.

All My Love,

There is this guy I like, but he's so bashful. He never says hi or anything to me. He knows I like him. How do I get him to talk to me or like me?

Dear Confused,

This letter is so weird. You know how you can go camping at the beach and make simple figurines out of marshmallows and sticks, using the marshmallows as joints? It seems like your letter was written by one of those figurines. It’s kind of like there is this other figurine about ten feet away from you and stop-motion photography is being used to show you two moving around relative to each other. The soundtrack is really simple and is mainly played on a medium-quality keyboard.

That’s just the thought I’m having in my head.

Dear Readers: This response is from “m,” who last time said that my name was “cheezy.”

Oh dear. I did not mean to insinuate your name was cheezy. I was thinking of the connections that could be made with the movie 'Titanic,' but a quick Google of "King of the World" reveals Bob Marley, a book about Muhammad Ali, Sir Edmund Hillary, and Steely Dan as being the top associations with the phrase, so obviously my initial assessment was incorrect. My abject apologies, Ray.

I do have a question, though: Is it difficult to stuff your tail through the tail-hole in your thong every time you have to put it back on? I would imagine unless there is some sort of prehensile skill there, that would be challenging...
smooches, m

Dear M,

Thank you, apology accepted. (Readers: it is good form to always accept an apology, unless it is like a real serious ethical offense or there is a blood feud).

As far as your question about my Grill goes, cats do have a pretty simple time directing our tails to do various things. Our tails are kind of like hands: they are easy to control and we have muscles which allow us to make practical use of them.

Is achewood another word for blue balls?
-Milyn from California

Dear Milyn,

Not as far as I know — it’s mainly the name of our town (definition here). The only terms I know of for “blue balls” are:

  • Drumskins
  • Ronnies
  • Unsexed Dick Nuts

Hope this helps.

I went out with a girl for a year and a half, and it was a really great, loving relationship. After that year and a half of intense feelings, though, we decided mutually to split up. I came to hate that decision, though, and didn't quite get over her until a short while ago. My problem is this: I've lost my game. I can't feel comfortable around women who are in my league; in fact, I've had to go down the chain a fair bit just to feel comfortable around a girl. My question is this: how can I regain my lost confidence and get back in the saddle?
J. in Little Rock

Dear J.,

I think the first half of your letter is what you really wanted to write about. That’s why you put it at the front of your email. You want to get back with this main girl. That is the thing you would like to do. If it is not feasible for you to get back with the main girl then yeah, you are going to spend a lot of time measuring all your other dating prospects against your memory of her.

Listen, dude, ex-girlfriends are never as awesome as you remember them. They all had bad breath in the morning, were not magical, and definitely farted at least once when you were around to notice. You probably also remember the slight hint of wispy dark upper-lip hair, around the creases of the mouth, that most dudes see in the early morning light. I don’t know, I’m just saying.

Okay Ray, here's my problem - I got debt. Real bad, too - four different credit cards, electric, gas, water, Verizon and that BMG music club. (I always forget to mail back those reply cards). Plus, I've got rent due and am behind on my car payments. On top of all this, I recently lost my job doing tech support for the cable company because I was rude to the customers and kept giving them the wrong information about all their problems. I was using my Discover card to pay all my other bills, but I maxed that one out - like all the others. In short, I'm screwed and none of this ever would have happened if those credit card companies made such convincing offers to me. So I want to sue them. Also, the collection companies are probably going to come by pretty soon and take away my stereo, my car and my DVD player. I'm probably gonna be evicted too, since I'm not going to be able to pay my rent. So I'm going to sue the collections agencies and my landlord, plus Verizon and the gas and electric companies and everybody else I owe money to as well. My only problem is finding a lawyer to work pro bono for me. Do you know any such lawyers, Ray? All these people and companies screwed me over and now I want to make them pay!
-Way in Debt in New Mexico

Dear Way In Debt,

Debt consolidation is the name of the game. Coordinate your monthly payments and finance rates under one financier. Also, try to stop being such a jackhole and blaming everyone for your problems (which you created through greed!). Step Up And Act Like A Dad (S.A.L.A.D.).

Alright, so I know you don't want to be discussing too much politics, and that is something I respect. But I just gotta ask you -- without you endorsing any one candidate -- is a vote for Philippe "making a statement" if he doesn't win, or is just a wasted vote?
Dude in Denver

Dear Denver,

Philippe hasn’t won any primaries yet, but he has been able to remain below the radar of both the Bush and Kerry campaigns. I think Nader is the third-party candidate who is going to take the bulk of their firepower, so that should leave Philippe relatively unscathed come November.

I'm sorry Ray, at first i thought it was a quirk of yours and tried to shrug it off, but i can't, i must tell you.

CHOCHACHOS is not a word in any language.

Dear Anonymous,

“Chochacho” is a word. See? I just said it. It came out of my mouth. It’s a word. How come you feel like you have to tell everyone in the world when you think a certain word is not an actual word? Word definition is largely a matter of opinion, and you definitely have a lame opinion. Sorry.

I was reading your blog the other day. […] You mentioned Beef working up a SICK amount of his famous creamy bacon potato salad. Any chance on getting him to divulge the recipe for this and posting it on your column? His method for home fries as published in the cookbook yields amazing results, and I'm curious to see how a potato salad a la Beef would taste. Also, I'd like to say thanks for your drink recipe contributions. Many a lady has succumbed to my wily charm after a few Drinks Of Tomorrow.
Your biggest fan in Detroit, Antal

Dear Antal,

Good news! The Achewood Cookbook is due to be revised with a mad amount of new material, including like over fifteen new recipes and updates to the recipes which are in there. Roast Beef’s Bacon Crunch Whisper Salad is definitely one of the new recipes. And don’t worry— the word “Whisper” in the recipe name does not mean that the food sucks. It mainly means that a nice binder exists between the primary starch and the supporting ingredients.

I'm having quite the dilemma with the lady types. Seeing as you're pretty much a guru in everything, I figured you could help me out. I've never really had problems with the ladies, which is odd because I'm not the most attractive guy. I've always just been a "sweet guy," you know, the kind of dude where ladies are like "Well, he may not be a looker but damn is he sweet. He's also a good cook too."

That's worked most of my life, but now that I'm a swingin' bachelor, it seems that I can't get back into the game. Everyone sees me as the nice guy, or, in some cases, they think I'm gay. Girls don't think twice about changing in front of me, or telling me in exhausting detail about their sex lives. They think nothing about it, because they don't see me as a boyfriend type. I want to shed this pansy image, but I don't want to be a testosterone-y meat head dick (who is bad). Can you help a brother out?
-A dude who is actually not gay.

Dear Actually Not Gay,

Yeah, if women are changing clothes in front of you while not even breaking a stride in their sentences about their sex lives, you are definitely seen as a gay person. You are definitely not seen as a straight man. Do you sit back on the bed while they change and talk, stroking your nice little Min-Pin, while wearing an excellent A|X shirt with a high-peaked open collar? Do you have devastating sideburns? Examine some of this information and try to look at it in a new light.

Ray, help a fellow golfer out - why do you plumb-bob your putts? I know several golfers out at the club who do this, and not a single one can explain the practice. Does it help you read the break (or grain, if you have Bermuda out there in California)? Also, what kind of putter are you using these days?
Anonymous, Internet

Dear Anonymous,

The plumb-bob (the act of standing back from your ball, so that you can see it on a line with the cup relative to the slant of the green, using your putter as a point of true vertical orientation) is just a crude eyeballer. You can have a hunch about the break, but the bob will give your eye more hunchin’ material, if you follow me.

You know how when you run up to kick a soccer ball, at first your feet kind of take these weird tiny steps before you break into your full stride? That is your subconscious brain completely calculating things out for you. You could never mentally calculate how long each stride in the pattern of strides should be, but your brain can turn this information into chemical juices which never pass through your main cerebellum, and so the soccer ball meets its correct target. It’s the same with golf, only since things happen much more slowly we have the time to gather more environmental information.

* 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.