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Go S.O.F.T. on Our Troops! 

Unreal is overcome with patriotic fervor! Plus, everyone's favorite drunken bear offers his take on sobriety standards, and we check out our Local Blog o' the Week.

Rallying our overseas servicefolk with yellow (and camouflage, and red-white-and-blue) car magnets seems especially popular in this red-state center of the Midwest. Unreal even spotted a "Remember, We Kick Ass" magnet on a patriot's parked wheels in the Central West End. It was the shape and color of a bomb!

Unfortunately such shows of support pass pretty much unnoticed when you're barreling across the Poplar Street Bridge on your way to Route 3 Liquors to replenish the household supply of Stag -- which is to say most of the time. But if one jingoistic doohickey on your car Supports Our Troops, it stands to reason that two jingoistic doohickeys would support 'em twice as much. Which inspired Unreal to unveil our first-ever Support Our Fucking Troops! contest.

Here's how it works: Adorn your car with as many Support Our Troops magnets as you can muster, snap a photo and mail to S.O.F.T., c/o Riverfront Times, 6358 Delmar Boulevard, Suite 200, St. Louis, MO 63130 or e-mail a jpeg to (subject line "S.O.F.T.").

The reader with the most supportive ride wins an American flag thong (approximate retail value $12) and a one-way bus ticket to Fort Leonard Wood (approximate retail value $29), where he or she can Support Our Troops in person!

Local Blog o' the Week


Author: Christy

About the blogger: Christy tags her blog as "Virtual Christy: An Analog Chick living in a Digital World." She appears to work somewhere in the BJC hospital complex, in a place she refers to as "the Institution." She's 35, takes public transportation to work and hates it if a man slips her the tongue when she's expecting a friendly peck.

Recent Highlight (November 30, 2004): I'm compiling a list of all the words and phrases I hate dislike.

For instance, when people use the phrase "going away" when they mean "to be eliminated." As in: "Now that the Forest Park and Carondelet routes are combined, the Carondelet line is going away.

I hate the word "luscious." It sounds especially ludicrous when uttered by a man (words that men should never say is an entirely different list, however).

The phrase "Good times" unless it is part of an entire sentence: "We have had many good times together" or "Those were some good times, eh?" I especially despise this phrase when it is uttered (or written) more than once in succession: "Good times. Good times." I start looking around for Florida. [...]

Crouch as in crotch, but "For the fifth time this week, he crouched in the shadows beneath her window waiting for her to undress, while fiddling with his crotch," is fine. Warsh for wash doesn't bother me, and I've found in my paripatetic past that this pronounciation is NOT regional (as people in Missouri would have you believe) but exists EVERYWHERE I've ever lived, which includes such cosmopolitan places as Washington DC and Los Angeles.

I have more. Especially words that just sound awful to the point that I go out of my way to use them. However, because I avoid these words, I never think of them until I hear them. Know of an Unreal-worthy local blog? Send the URL to

Bearkowski on Booze

The Missouri Department of Transportation claims its new SMART (State of Missouri Alcohol Responsibility Training) program may reduce drunk-driving crashes by up to 17 percent. Long story short, SMART will train area servers how to tell the legal-age imibers from the kids and the bombed from the still-servable.

This is bad news for Missouri drinkers, says Unreal's booze-swilling alter ego Charles Bearkowski, who selected three sample SMART questions to make the point that inebriation is more nuanced than MODOT would have you believe.

Sample Question 1: Your customer is having trouble picking up her money, holding her head up, and hasn't picked up the cigarette she just lit. Is this person showing some of the signs and symptoms of an intoxicated individual?

SMART Answer: Yes.

Bearkowski Answer: Likely a hammered patron -- until you consider that perhaps: 1) she's the beneficiary of a massive trust fund and feels very, very guilty about it, 2) she's a hunchback or 3) she has just decided to quit smoking, right then and there. Until you weigh these potential situations against the SMART stereotype, you are doing your generous patrons a gross disservice -- or worse, discriminating against a hunchback (a federal crime).

Sample Question 2: Billy's behavior has changed from being quiet to urging other customers to have another drink. He is jovial, animated and very entertaining. In fact, he has one-fourth of the bar laughing. Is this person showing some of the signs and symptoms of an intoxicated individual?

SMART Answer: Yes.

Bearkowski Answer: If he were really gassed up, he'd have the entire bar laughing. Has Billy had a couple? Yes -- and that's what it takes for him to unwind. That's why they call alcohol a "social lubricant." If Billy's next steps are to down six tequila shots and proposition you for a barstool handjob, then maybe you cut him off. But until he goes there, leave him be, and pour him a reasonable amount of wine, beer or Courvoisier upon request. What a wonderful world it would be if we were all as "jovial, animated and entertaining" as Billy.

Sample Question 3: Beth is a regular customer at your bar. You notice that her personality is very outgoing and draws people to her. Tonight she has a crowd gathered as she tells a very amusing story. Would you consider this person intoxicated?

SMART Answer: No.

Bearkowski Answer: Oh, the hypocrisy. Beth and Billy both have a percentage of patrons in stitches, and yet Billy is soused and Beth is not? "Regular" is industry code for "lush we tolerate because she tips well." Beth is likely a conditioned drinker who is perpetually intoxicated just to the degree that her bartender can't distinguish Drunk Beth from Sober Beth. Be afraid of Beth. She's why cab rides should be free.

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