Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Philosophy of Drinking.

A philosophy of drinking.

Ian Cooper

The government of Ontario is proposing to allow sales of beer and wine in grocery stores.

As a consumer of cheap grog, one can only applaud anything that tends to promote competition and bring the price of all things boozey down.

It's part of my philosophy of drinking.

As stated in the linked article above, small shops would still be prohibited, and they are still lobbying for inclusion.

“The government has been under mounting pressure to abolish The Beer Store’s lucrative cartel arrangement. Controlled by three foreign-owned brewers – Molson Coors Brewing Co., AnheuserBusch InBev SA, and Sapporo Breweries Ltd. – The Beer Store has the near-exclusive right to sell most beer in the province, and to supply the most popular brands to bars and restaurants. Nearly all other private beer retail is banned.”

It would be nice to be able to buy beer, chips, dip, frozen pizza or salsa, hotdogs and hamburgers all under one roof. The other issue is of course that of competition and that monopolistic retail system, operated under the banners of the Liquor Control Board and The Beer Store.

Glean MacLarty, (Wiki.)
Critics point out that corner variety stores would have to ensure that customers are of legal age, but they’re already doing that with cigarette sales.


In recent years, government-run casinos have essentially wiped out the charity bingo industry. 

At one time, the only lottery tickets we could buy were the Irish Sweepstakes. The original Wintario lottery, the first one in the province, began back in 1975, when this author was an impressionable sixteen years old.

It cost a dollar and you could win a hundred thousand dollars—we used to fantasize about how many cool cars we could buy with a hundred grand. I suppose we were very young, but the point is that lotteries have proliferated. Tickets are sold at every corner store and quite frankly, when all you want is milk, bread, or to pay for your gas purchase, waiting for some knucklehead to check forty lotto tickets, collect eight bucks in winnings and then buy another fifty bucks worth, is a pain in the ass. One can only assume that the province is profiting from my inconvenience and the excesses of the middle class, all of whom seem to have enough money for nice houses, good cars, and vacations down south in winter. Yet there is that effervescent dream of hitting it big. They spend a lot of money trying to make that happen.

In my own personal analysis, the employees of the LCBO and the Beer Store fear the move to open up beer and wine sales to the private sector for sound reasons, from their point of view. Sales elsewhere will take market share. There will be less need for their stores, although the distribution system will remain intact. The LCBO and The Beer Store are unionized. For the most part, grocery stores are not. (There are some.) Walmart has a grocery store. The employees there make eleven bucks an hour as opposed to eighteen or twenty bucks an hour. 

They see it as a sneaky way to get rid of a few stores, and get rid of a few unionized employees, always demanding better wages and benefits, and willing to take collective action to protect what they perceive to be their interest.

I understand all that, but I have my interest too.

Holy, crap, would I ever like to try that one. > mixpix, (Wiki.)
With three major suppliers of beer, with the wine distribution largely going through the LCBO, the corporate interests of the suppliers will remain largely unaffected.

Employees of the present retail system stand to lose most. At the same time, philosophically, the government has a bad habit of selling us booze, smokes and gambling in various forms. Prostitution has even been legalized in small selected zones. It is controversial, and the law is nothing if not unclear. (Story actually from Quebec. – ed.)

In a secular society, for the government to regulate sin is a non-sequitur insofar as it goes beyond the simple needs of social order and public health concerns. Let’s just say that for the government (any government) to give us moral lessons is a bit much.

I have no doubt that the Province of Ontario, in some fashion, went into business with what is essentially organized crime, in bringing casinos to the province. They had the expertise after all.

In this instance, they’re doing essentially the same thing, in a back-door attack on unions.

Surely this is in the corporate interest. The real question, is it in the interest of the citizens of Ontario.

In our local Walmart, the entire front wall of a rather large building is all basically concession booths. Why the grocery stores can’t have a big cold room full of beer and a department devoted to wine, all under the auspices of the LCBO and The Beer Store, is a good question.

Who knows, maybe that’s what will happen.

You never know, ladies and gentlemen.

Then, unionized employees would now be working inside of retail spaces that for the most part are not unionized. This might have some interesting social consequences.

Especially if you’re a union supporter.

Here’s an interesting contradiction. There is no such thing as a government pub, bar, hotel or other public drinking establishment, and virtually none of the private ones are unionized.

There is food for thought here for the true philosopher of drinking.


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Saturday, May 23, 2015

It's a Bohemian existence, Moriarity.

What the fuck is a Brisling sardine.

Ian Cooper

The pursuit of art can quickly lead to a kind of bohemian existence.

(Should that be capitalized, – ed?)

{How the fuck would I know? – ed.}

For example, tonight’s dinner consists entirely of odd-ball stuff.

Brisling Sardines. Courtesy of the Inn of the Good Shepherd.

Chicken and Slop, essentially a bag of noodles and seasoning mix. Courtesy of St. Vincent de Paul. There’s no chicken in there either.

Deli-style coleslaw. That’s a buck seventy-nine from Food Basics.

Mustard. Ninety-nine cents, Food Basics. Because otherwise the sardines usually taste like shit.

Tomato juice. Inn of the Good Shepherd.


Wow. Them Brisling sardines tasted so bad, I had to look up and see what the hell they were. 

Also, that tomato juice has been around for a fuck of a long time.

"It's a Bohemian existence, Moriarity."
It probably won’t kill me but it didn’t taste like much either.

The sardines ended up in the toilet where they belong.

And that’s okay, Baby. Because the band are beautiful people.

And we’ve all had enough of them negative waves.

It's a Bohemian existence, Moriarity.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Chevauchée, a Work In Progress.

Ian Cooper

(An excerpt from a work in progress. -- ed.)

The men at arms had halted at an inn, while archers and footmen, mounted and dismounted, milled in the yard and filled their cups and horns from barrels of rich red wine.

“Larkin. What’s happening?”

“The ford is blocked.”

“Oh. What ford is that?”

Larkin laughed. It really was like that sometimes, men standing around with no idea of what was happening.

“There’s a river up ahead. Vaughn and Sands were in the van and they say there are hundreds of noble pennants on the far side.”

He spat, noisily, as Thomas stood, clinging to Chestnut’s bridle and wondering where he was going to find water, fodder, and something for his own belly.

This day, the army had gotten up well before dawn. Alternately walking and cantering, the army had covered a good ten miles before the sun broke the horizon.

That was all Thomas knew.

In Old Bill’s stories, it seemed that his father was right there in the innermost circles at every council, and had a bird’s eye view of every battlefield, and had always known every little thing that was going on.

He saw now that that was not necessarily so.

Men milled in confusion in front of the doorway, and Thomas wondered if they were going in, or more likely the inn was full to capacity.

At that time, the door crashed open, men began shouting questions and several of Sir John’s captains forced their way out against a reluctant crowd of men.

“Back! Back! Make way, make way.”

The huddle of men backing up were treading on their toes, and Larkin grabbed Thomas’s arm and pulled him off to one side. There were two kinds of men in that yard, men who were talking, rather shouting, and those who would listen if only they could hear.

Sir John stepped out of the inn’s front door and the quiet descended as he stepped up on a box and spoke, in quite a normal voice.

“Right. I need a hundred mounted archers, all volunteers.”

Larkin grabbed his right arm and lofted it in his strong and callused grip.

“Here we are, my Lord.”

Sir John turned and grinned.

“Ah, yes, the Cheshire cat, Larkin my boy, how the Hades are you, sir?”

“I am well, Sir John. The last time I saw you, sir, one of us had a head like a half-chewed pudding.” He turned aside. “Some of you may recall that particular incident.”

A ripple of laughter went through the fascinated mob, ears all a-quiver and straining to catch every syllable.

“…and one of us had a pretty good dose of the clap, as you may recall…”

The men roared, thousands of them, all jamming into the yard, streaming in on foot from all sides now that there was news.

“Ah, yes, be that as it may. I need a hundred of you good fellows. I’m offering a gold salut, for any man that crosses the ford…and lives to collect.”

There was a hubbub as men struggled, pushing their neighbours aside and thrusting themselves forward.

Sir John’s captain, William Vaughn, was there with his quill and his book of doom as some called it, all ready to take their names as Larkin dragged him forward.

“Come along lad, you’ll find this a little more to your taste.”

(End of excerpt. -- ed.) 

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Thank you for reading my excerpt.