Review: Drinking Games and Other Stories by Brian Scott Mednick

Published by Parcbench on November 22, 2011:

I recently had the pleasure of reading Drinking Games and Other Storiesby author-comedian-filmmaker Brian Scott Mednick, and subsequently interviewing him about his work on the November 17 edition ofWritestream. As a fellow contributor to Parcbench, I’d already been very familiar with Brian’s excellent commentary and his biography of Gene Wilder entitled Gene Wilder: Funny and Sad, released in December, 2010.

A collection of individual stories about colorful residents of Manhattan that vary from poignant to heart-breaking to humorous, Drinking Games was one of those books I completed in one sitting, entirely captivated by Mednick’s ability to weave a tale and elicit a multitude of emotions. And while native New Yorkers will undoubtedly identify with the real-life settings like Ryan’s Irish Pub, Empire Szechuan and Madison Avenue, all readers — irrespective of their birthplace, geographical upbringing, or current place of residence — will relate to the ubiquitous human foibles, emotions and situations on display throughout Drinking Games.

As the title suggests, alcohol plays a considerable role in the lives of the characters, mainly as a means of avoiding pain, drowning sorrows and underscoring the depths of their unique and oftentimes tragic circumstances.

Author Brian Scott Mednick.

For example, there’s the story of Leroy a once very successful, distinguished black gentleman who in spite of his homelessness, presents himself to the world as a dapper, high-class member of society — albeit with a love for the bottle. He draws a 22 year-old grad student into his world one night at the bar, thus instigating an unusual yet strong bond of friendship culminating in an inevitable and tragic end, one that offers valuable lessons for the student.

Then there’s the outwardly successful, ultra-modern “Older Woman” who in spite of her better judgment, instigates a sexual relationship with a young guy and fellow subway rider 20 years her junior, which ultimately and predictably ends in heartbreak. Her story begins with her slumped over the toilet in a drunken stupor, a victim of her own misguided decisions.

In the story of Don and Betty, we find quiet desperation in a husband who truly loves his wife but struggles to cope with her lack of interest in physical intimacy and his inability to articulate his frustrations in an attempt to reach a resolution. One night while drinking with his oldest buddy Bob, he finally confesses the reality of his marital situation, much to Bob’s surprise since he — like most of Don’s peers — had always regarded the marriage of Don and Betty as model to which all couples should strive. Bob’s solution is to whip out the card of a “discreet” local call girl named Lisa who in his estimation is a much better solution than “any damn therapist”. Initially shocked and repulsed by such a notion, by the time the story ends Don’s frustration has reached such a level of intensity as to compel him to dial the number. “Hello Lisa..?” the short tale ends, leaving it open-ended as to whether Don follows up on his impulses.

Overall, Drinking Games is an engaging, thought-provoking read that will resonate with all readers who have ever suffered the consequences of bad choices, struggled against the foibles of human nature and strove to overcome life’s obstacles — from broken hearts to unfulfilled promises to unrealized dreams. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll relate to Brian Scott Mednick’s believable characters and unvarnished dialogue.

Get your copy of Drinking Games today — and don’t forget to purchase one for all of the readers on your holiday gift-giving list!

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Remembering September 11

Published by The Conservative Diva:

It’s almost unfathomable that we are already marking ten years since the worst attack on American soil murdered 3,000 innocents and awakened us (those of us who are willing to study history and consider the facts, unburdened by political castration — to use my friend WARCHICK’s term) to the stark realities of political Islam, global jihad and Sharia Law.

Heralding the 10th anniversary of the most horrific attack on American soil, the question “Where were you on September 11?” has been making the rounds on Facebook and other social media sites, with answers as varied and diverse as the American populace itself. One I highly recommend comes from my Facebook friend Stephanie Janiczek, who at the time worked for the Leadership Institute in D.C:

Ten years ago today I was working at the Leadership Institute. I was the Assistant Director of Employment Placement and helping conservatives with their resumes and finding jobs in Washington DC. It never occured to me that by noon September 11, 2001, that world I was living in and making a life for myself in would forever be altered. I can’t think of anyone I know who saw 9-11 up close and personal who does not feel that way. What we saw was history in all of its awful brutality.

We remember the little things more clearly I think than the bigger moments of that day. We all remember 9-11-01 being a gorgeous late summer day. The sun was already slowly making its way towards the south, the slant of its light made a dance of diamonds on the gentle rolling waves of the Potomac, and the  rivers surrounding Manhattan. There was an edge to the air, the slight whisper of autumn. That was how 9-11-01 began. And by the end of that day, as the tired summer’s sun  faded into the west, it was still a glorious day…a horrible glorious day.

I grew up hearing about Pearl Harbor, my parents walking into an apartment in Chicago where my grandparents lived and being told Pearl Harbor had been attacked and according to my Mom, her aunt telling her that it was the end of the world. Did our horror on that day in September of 2001 reflect the same horror that our parents and grandparents felt upon hearing about Pearl Harbor? Is horror of being attacked by a military entity like the Japanese Navy the same as the horror we felt on 9-11? Is the evil that drove the Nazis and the Japanese Empire the same kind of evil that drove Bin Laden? Does evil morph itself into different things in order to perpetuate itself? These are the questions I have had since 9-11-01 and I have yet to be able to answer those questions. What happened to us that day was an act of evil that was not merely committed against two of our cities but an act of evil committed against our entire nation. That is the reality. The 19 terrorists wanted to kill Americans and they did. They don’t seperate us between Democrat and Republican. They wanted to kill all of us. They attacked the anchor of our economy and our military. They attacked the symbols of the USA that the world knows, respects and fears for no rational reason and therefore are evil and they prove evil exists. There is no clinician that can make an excuse for it, or explain it away because evil is what it is, a reality we all must face.

We have those who want to make excuses, who look at the images and see perhaps a reality show, scripted and rehearsed. They are unable to deal with the reality of the situation. The questions they ask are childish. Why don’t they like us? For those of us who understand history that question is silly because as we all know Abel’s next door neighbor was Cain, and this immaturity of such a ridiculous question should embarress those who ask those questions. Does it matter why? In reality asking why is a denial of what happened and a reach to understand something that does not deserve to be understood. Because attempting to understand the hatred of Bin Laden and the men who followed him and still follow his lead is an attempt at dialogue with them and they do not deserve that act of deference. Like Adolph Hitler and his SS executioners Osama bin Laden and Al Quada, the Wahhabists themselves do not deserve that respect. They do not deserve that compassion.

The long lense of history of that day ten years ago and the reveberating effects that huge events like 9-11 seem to cause many of us to remember feelings of confusion. Its the same for all of us who ran from Washington DC, or from the Twin Towers.

Visit Facebook to read her entire note.

It seems unreal that it’s already been 10 long years since I was driving to my old job as a bank recruiter in Boca Raton, Florida, cruising down scenic A1A for what I’d expected to be another typical day at the office. We had a group of applicants coming in for the mandatory employment assessment, and with my recruiting assistant off for the morning I’d be handling what would normally have been her responsibility.

During that beautiful drive, for whatever reason, I’d opted to listen to a regular pop-music FM station in lieu of my typical motivational CD, in a break from my usual routine. The morning show featuring two fun-loving guys and a girl was proceeding along in typical irreverent fashion when the news came in that the World Trade Center in New York had been struck by an airplane. Absent more elaborate detail, the radio hosts surmised it must’ve been a private plane – possibly piloted by a novice – since the picture-perfect weather would seem to preclude any other possibility. After all, a seasoned commercial or private pilot would surely know enough to avoid crashing into an office tower if his aircraft was failing. That was the thought I held in mind as I entered through the double-glass doors of my building and greeted the folks who’d already assembled in the lobby.

But just as I’d set up the applicants in the conference room, the surreal events of the day began to play out in a frenzy of panic and helplessness. First, the administrative assistant who worked upstairs hysterically rushed into my office to announce we were under attack by terrorists, who’d somehow managed to take control of a large, commercial jet and turn it into a weapon of bloody destruction. Without the benefit of a television, I was struggling to wrap my brain around that horrific scenario when a financial center employee bounded through the office doors to inform us that another plane had hit the second tower. Then a little while later, news of the attack on the Pentagon and the spine-tingling story of United 93. And finally, the shocking news that all flights had been grounded, the final confirmation (as if we’d needed any at that point) that life had been forever altered.

Perhaps the most surreal moment occurred when that same financial center employee returned from his trip to the upstairs lunchroom (home to the only television in the building), and breathlessly announced that the World Trade Center was now “a pile of rubble”. I remember feeling incredulous, as if how dare he make such an exaggeration! Wasn’t the news already horrific enough?

Of course, 10 years and several attacks (e.g. London subway bombings, Madrid bombings) and attempted attacks later (e.g. the foiled plots to blow up airliners over the Atlantic from Heathrow Airport, and to destroy the Library Tower in Los Angeles) – combined with a newfound knowledge of Islam, thanks to scholars like Robert Spencer and authors like Brigitte Gabriel – none of the sheer barbarism of 9/11 will ever again evoke that initial, naïve feeling of surprise and denial. Like many other Americans, I’ve come to recognize and expect nothing but guttural savagery and brutality from a totalitarian political ideology that wraps itself up in the cloak of religion. Its adherents are people like the Palestinians who danced gleefully in the streets, quite proud of the death and destruction their fellow death-cultists wrought upon innocent civilians in the name of Allah – all to further their purpose of destroying the “Great Satan” America.

They’re the same militants who oppress women and infidels, committing unspeakable atrocities like genital mutilation, stoning, honor killing, beheadings and pedophilia – and who go on worldwide killing sprees over cartoon Mohammads, brandishing signs that say, “Behead those who insult Islam.”

In stark contrast, the heroes of September 11 – from firefighters and police to everyday citizens and local officials – stand as an eternal testament to the resiliency and nobility of the human spirit in a free society, even under the direst of circumstances, even when put through the most horrific of tribulations. As story after story of heroism unfolded, anger and sadness mixed with an undeniable pride in my fellow countrymen. Under the worst of circumstances, the best of humankind emerged. It is an abject disgrace and a blight on Mayor Bloomberg and New York City that these remarkable American patriots — along with clergy representative of various faiths and Christian denominations — have been excluded from the 10th Anniversary commemoration just to make room for self-serving politicians.

Perhaps the most stunning testament to the sheer magnitude of the day’s terror, and the unfathomable conditions inside the World Trade Center towers comes from those who deliberately jumped. Who among us can even imagine how hellish it must’ve been, when plunging 90-plus stories to a violent end is the preferable option? The haunting images of these souls hanging out of the windows and ultimately free-falling – some alone, others holding hands, will forever remain in my memory.

That day, Americans witnessed a gut-wrenching juxtaposition of the very best and the very worst of human nature. We realized that we share the planet with an alarming number of people who value death in the same way we value life. In the wake of September 11, we experienced a rebirth of patriotism and brotherhood as citizens from coast to coast gave money, donated blood, offered up prayer and swore they’d “Never Forget”. American flags sprouted up everywhere, decorating cars, offices and homes.

Sadly, for reasons best left to another post, this phenomenon was all too fleeting. But on this 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001, I pray for our nation to find the courage to boldly confront the enemies of freedom and to valiantly fight for the way of life bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers. It’s the least we can do to honor the sacrifices made by our fellow Americans on a day that will forever live on in infamy.

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Christie Cheerleaders Coulter and Ingraham Attack Sarah Palin

Ever since her ridiculous championing of man-made global warming believing, cap-and-trade and Ground Zero Mosque supporting and Sharia Law-denying New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at CPAC earlier this year, I’d lost a tremendous amount of respect for Ann Coulter. Ditto for Laura Ingraham whose snotty attitude and recent condescending remarks about Tea Partiers who disliked Congressman Allen West’s vote on the debt ceiling have had the same effect.

So it wasn’t a total surprise when the two got together on Fox News for the sole purpose of trashing not only Sarah Palin, but her base of supporters whom they likened to Obama Kool-Aid drinkers.

While I cannot speak to the motivation behind this “bitch-fest” as Mr. L has accurately coined it, I would like to point out the many flaws and inconsistencies in this hypocritical exchange — which was something I’d expect to see on The View, not Fox News. Then again, with a few exceptions (contributor Michelle Malkin, e.g.) Fox has been a huge disappointment of late.

For one thing, as I noted over at Revolutionary Media, Palin’s enthusiastic base of supporters is not comprised of rabid cultists, but rather smart, engaged and patriotic Americans with a deep respect for Palin’s consistent record of commonsense conservatism over her 20 years in public life. We recognize that her record stands up to scrutiny, and that unlike the rest of the field, she’s never had to adjust her positions or policies for political expediency. We appreciate her political courage — first seen on the national stage when she boldly called out Obama repeatedly on the campaign trail and then later when she led the charge against the odious Obamacare legislation and the rest of his freedom-killing agenda in the summer of 2009.

Sarah Palin fearlessly confronts union thugs in Wisconsin in a rousing address to Tea Party activists in April, 2011.

Perhaps it’s too much to expect Coulter and Ingraham to give credit where it’s due, but nowhere in their discussion last night was there any mention of Palin’s influence on the 2010 midterms; the time and money she spent endorsing and stumping for strong candidates like Nikki Haley; the multitude of substantive policy statements she’s made via Facebook notes pertaining to everything from quantitative easing to foreign policy to domestic drilling; her multitude of speeches at various events, including theIndia Conclave and her unscripted interview with the Long Island Business Association.

Perhaps it slipped their minds that Palin’s record of accomplishment and enactment of “sudden, relentless reform” in Alaska inspired conservative film maker Stephen K. Bannon to invest a significant amount of time and money into producing a film highlighting her illustrious political record so that people who’ve been brainwashed by the media hit-job on her would have the opportunity to get the facts about who Sarah Palin really is.

Bitterly clinging to our principles and our support for Sarah Palin in the pouring rain.

And maybe they are oblivious to the reality that Palin’s appeal to conservative voters is strong enough to compel them to travel halfway around the country just to see her give a speech at a Tea Party rally — even in the driving rain. As I noted, there were about 20 states represented in Iowa and every individual with whom I interacted was smart, savvy, committed and knowledgeable — not simply about Sarah Palin’s achievements, but also about the fact that both parties have driven this beloved country to the brink of disaster.

Which brings me to my real issue with the Ingraham-Coulter exchange: the blatant hypocrisy. Coulter displayed a stunning lack of self-awareness when she dissed Palin’s supporters as nothing more than clueless cheerleaders. Hey Ann, we’re not the ones shilling for a New Jersey blowhard who supports cap-and-trade legislation, believes in man-made global warming, ridicules anyone who takes issue with the Ground Zero Mosque and dismisses real concern about creeping Sharia Law as “crap.” And in spite of all of these negatives against Chris Christie, you continue to promote him as a legitimate candidate. Dare I say, you verge on making yourself look like a lovesick school girl? Christie after all, has stated repeatedly that he is definitely not running.

Sarah Palin signs autographs and greets supporters including author Frank Aquila at the Restoring America Rally in Iowa.

At least Palin tells us she’s seriously considering it and will announce her decision before the deadline, so there’s legitimate reason for her supporters to promote her candidacy — aside from the fact that she’s a fantastic candidate with a record that matches her rhetoric. Tragically, the same cannot be said of the current crop of contenders, with varying degrees of importance.

Yes, Christie takes on the unions. So do Scott Walker in Wisconsin and John Kasich in Ohio — very effectively and without the theatrics. Funny but I don’t hear you ever offer praise for either one of them.

And Laura, in case you missed it, Tea Party voters have a real problem with Romneycare and no amount of deference to alleged “states rights” is going to justify it away. Haven’t we spent the last 2 1/2 years railing against overrreaching government policies and demanding repeal? What makes you think Mandate Mitt is a contender? By the way, he also believes in man-made global warming, to the delight of Al Gore. Yeah, that’ll fire up the base. By the way, in case you missed it nearly 1,000 showed up to seePalin in New Hampshire versus a handful for Romney. Guess they were all just a bunch of stupid hillbillies too. Oh and then there’s the small matter of the FreedomWorks-sponsored protest against the former governor of Massachusetts. I suppose that also slipped your mind while you were busy trashing the former governor of Alaska.

Finally, your cattiness in ridiculing Sarah Palin’s accent was especially off-putting and completely unprofessional. It smacks the kind of immaturity one would expect from teenage high school girls, not prominent lawyers and pundits who claim to care about everyday Americans from coast to coast who — by the way — speak with various accents. And just for the record, neither one of yours is particularly appealing.

So go ahead and ridicule Palin and her supporters all day long. Just don’t be surprised when we stop tuning in and buying your books. If you can’t at least be honest and forthright in your criticism, we’ll invest our time and money elsewhere. Seems my two year-old column on Female Jealousy and Sarah Palin is more relevant today than ever.

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