10 Surprising Things That Make You More Attractive

Even if most of us can’t do anything to change how we look, there are still many ways we can raise our attractiveness factor for the opposite sex. Smell good, be funny, and don’t talk about your ex too much. It’s not as complicated as self-help books and relationship blogs make it out to be.

According to science, though, those are only the well-known ones. Many other factors seemingly unrelated to attractiveness secretly influence the success rate of your dates.

Food

As to how attractive you are to the opposite sex, you’d think that the only effect of food occurs when you show up on a date with visible food stains on your clothes. Beyond that, what you eat shouldn’t affect attractiveness at all. If it did, we’d spend as much time choosing meals for upcoming dates as we spend on clothes.

According to one study, food can influence your sex appeal in other ways, though only in the case of women.[1] Researchers at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota found that women find men 20 percent more attractive immediately after the women eat something spicy. The study authors say that it’s because of something called embodied cognition, wherein our sensory feelings affect what we feel even if those two are otherwise unrelated.

Color

Preference for color is assumed to be subjective in nature. While some women may immediately ask you to take them to bed after seeing your blue shirt, others may not even answer your calls after the date. It depends on how much they like the color blue. Although that is true in general, one color is unanimously considered to be more appealing—at least on women. Red.

Quite a few studies have found that men tend to find women dressed up in red—whether it’s the color of the dress, bag, or lipstick—to be much more attractive than other colors. It’s perceived to be an indicator of sexual willingness, which may have something to do with the female body’s natural mechanisms to indicate that they’re interested.

Ever notice that your female partner blushes a lot, has fuller cheeks, and is just generally a lot redder than usual during the fertile phase of her menstrual cycle? Yup, that’s directly related to why men find the color red so hard to resist.

Being In A Group

Entire books and gossip columns have been written on how to approach someone at a bar (or any other public gathering). Apart from facial cues and the type of setting, many other minor factors influence whether you’ll be getting the person’s number.

We’ll leave the full analysis of all elements to the experts. But according to science, we know of at least one factor that will increase your chances—being in a group.

In research conducted by psychological scientists from the University of California, participants were asked to rate 100 people on attractiveness. The pictures included people in a group as well as alone, though they were spaced out enough so that the participants didn’t notice any repetition. Overall, people in groups were found to be more attractive than those who were alone.

It may sound counterintuitive, but the researchers believe that it makes perfect sense. When you’re in a group, your face is seen in comparison to the other members of the group. This makes it more average than it would be usually.

You may think that being average would immediately lower your rating, though that’s only true for conventionally attractive people. For the rest of us chums, being in a group hides our otherwise unattractive features as they’re perceived in comparison to others.[3]

Fear

Even if we don’t know the scientific reasons behind it, a lot of us have intuitively used this at one time or another. Ever wondered why your dates at horror movies have a higher chance of succeeding than, say, at rom-coms?

Common sense would suggest that watching romantic scenes together would give you a higher chance of succeeding than staring at ghastly entities out to devour your soul. But we all know that’s not the case. So, what gives?

According to many studies, the answer is simple. We tend to mistake feelings of fear for arousal, and it almost always works. In psychology, it’s creatively known as the misattribution of arousal. When we’re scared, our body exudes symptoms—like increased heart rate and shortness of breath—that are very similar to the ones we have when we’re sexually attracted to someone.

The Side Of The Body

It’s common knowledge that the left and right hemispheres of the brain work in wildly different ways. Even if the extent of the difference between them and how it affects our overall personality is still not perfectly understood, we know that each side is responsible for a different type of brain function. What we don’t know, however, is that it also influences your chances of success while talking to someone in a public gathering.

According to one study, if you approach someone at a loud club and speak into their right ear, you have a much higher chance of making that person listen than if you speak into the left ear. The researchers actually tested this in a club instead of a lab.

Their findings suggest that we’re much more receptive to things on our right side. We’re not entirely sure why it happens, though you could certainly use it to your advantage on your next visit to a loud concert.

Scars

A huge part of the cosmetics industry is aimed at exploiting our insecurity about visible scars, especially on the face. Admittedly, different cultures have different opinions on scars. In Western society, they’re largely seen as indicators of unattractiveness. However, that’s only because we’re listening to the cosmetics industry and not actual science.

Studies have found that facial scars—at least in the case of men—are considered to be more attractive for women seeking short-term relationships. Even if we don’t hunt and fight for survival like we used to, women still associate scars with bravery on the battlefield and with survivability.

They also instinctively indicate higher levels of testosterone and genetic qualities, though the study was only conducted with short-term relationships in mind. Women may still want men without scars for longer-term commitments as that suggests that the men are more caring and empathetic.

Sweat

Sweat isn’t considered to be an attractive trait in any culture around the world as it comes with unpleasant side effects like body odor. People who don’t sweat a lot are still thought to be better mating partners than those who do for the simple reason that no one wants someone else’s bodily fluids in their space any longer than necessary.

According to science, though, sweat may actually make you more attractive. In a study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, researchers found that male sweat contains a pheromone known as androstadienone. It raises the levels of the cortisol hormone among women, which is responsible for sexual arousal and the activation of certain regions of the brain.

Now we’re not saying that you should show up for your date in your sweaty gym clothes as personal hygiene is still an overpowering attractiveness factor. All we’re saying is that you’re much more attractive to the ladies at the gym than you realize.

Ambiguity

It’s no surprise that people tend to be more romantically attracted to you if the feelings are mutual. That works the other way around, too, as someone who’s not attracted to you will eventually make you lose interest in them. (However, that may also have to do with having no choice in the matter.)

It gets a bit unclear when you can’t tell if someone is interested in you. Anecdotal evidence suggests that it should make them much more attractive to you, and science confirms it.

In one study done by researchers at the University of Virginia and Harvard, female participants were found to be attracted to men whose intentions weren’t clear. Surprisingly, the level of attraction was even higher than with men who had obviously shown interest in them. This suggests that the best course of action in a romantic pursuit is keeping things confusing.

Drinking Too Much Or Too Little

Ask anyone in college and they’ll tell you that drinking a lot of alcohol is the best way to find another person more attractive than he or she usually is. While we have no doubt about the veracity of that—despite a lack of scientific evidence—not much is known about how it works the other way around. How does drinking affect your own attractiveness for others?

If one study is to believed, the trick is to have just the right amount of alcohol. If you have too little, you’re (understandably) perceived as “no fun.” But having a lot isn’t good, either, as it’s associated with risky sexual behavior. According to the study at least, the perfect amount is somewhere around 250 milliliters (8 oz) of wine for an average-sized individual.

No Smiling

Popular wisdom says that smiling is a sure way to be more attractive than you usually are because it indicates friendliness and social adeptness. It makes sense, too, and conventionally unattractive people—like a lot of us online writers—have to resort to factors like that. According to science, though, we’re doing it all wrong.

At least for men, smiling is actually perceived to be a less attractive trait by women. It ties into the conventional stereotype of the brooding types being more appealing. But it also has to do with smiling being seen as a feminine and submissive trait. On the other hand, men find smiling women to be more attractive than their ever-serious counterparts.

 

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DADS: Why Alcohol Gives You The Runs

Imagine this: You wake up at 1 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon. Your head hurts. You suddenly have a flashback to the night before. You see yourself sidled up to a bar, downing pickleback after pickleback until you yourself are turning green. You have some regrets.

And then — just as you think the morning after effect can’t get worse — your stomach twists. You know it’s coming. You have the DADS — the Day After Drinking Shits.

Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD, author of The Better Period Food Solution: Eat Your Way to a Lifetime of Healthier Cycles, explains that this is a common phenomenon. So common that there are even derogatory nicknames for it. DADS is a typical one, and then there’s rum bum, after grog bog, and, my personal favorite, the Milwaukee squirts.

“The body doesn’t appreciate being distracted from other essential tasks — like keeping your heart beating or your brain working — to have to metabolize seven White Claws in an hour, so these choices may come with some unwarranted and smelly side effects,” Beckerman explains. Here are a few of them.

How does alcohol change your poop? 

As it turns out, in many ways! For some people, drinking makes your bowel movements more runny, but others will get more constipated. Everyone’s digestion system responds differently based on their genetics, diet, stress levels, and gut integrity, she explains. But most people can assume there will be at least some changes.

“Alcohol has the capacity to affect the shape, form, and even the smell of your stool,” Beckerman explains. “Upon first sip, the body is trying to rid itself from alcohol ASAP.” With that said, not all poop problems after drinking are normal. If your irregular stool issues are persistent, you notice blood mixed in, or you have poop as black as the night, Beckerman recommends calling your doctor.

Can drinking give you diarrhea? 

Alcohol is a gastrointestinal irritant and increases gut motility, explains Hillary Cecere, RDN of Eat Clean Bro. “Irritation to the intestinal lining can result in less absorption, leading to diarrhea or softer stools,” she says.

Beckerman adds that alcohol has the ability to inhibit or temporarily “turn off” the antidiuretic hormone, or ADH, that tells our kidneys to conserve water. Without that hormone, you end up needing to urinate a lot, making you feel dehydrated and depleted in the morning.

“During the act of drinking, you can have bouts of diarrhea due to the influx of fluids being dumped into the body,” she adds. “Plus, alcohol has the power to impair muscles movements in the GI tract which can propel contents faster through the gut, which can lead to diarrhea as well.”

Can drinking constipate you? 

Beckerman says that some researchers believe that the higher the alcohol volume, the slower the movements in the bowel. Therefore, liquor (which is about 40 percent ABV) hits “the slow-mo button” on your poops, more so than beer or hard seltzer (which have about 5 percent ABV). “That’s why it’s more typical to have a sleepier and more sluggish colon in the morning — AKA constipation — with liquor,” Beckerman says.

Cecere adds that you should avoid mixing alcohol with energy drinks because caffeine is also a GI tract irritant.

Does DADS affect infrequent drinkers more? 

Not exactly, Cecere says. “Chronic drinkers often suffer from GI distress due to alcohol induced inflammation,” she says. “But, it’s not uncommon for people who don’t often drink alcohol to experience digestive issues after drinking. Some people just consider it part of the hangover.”

How can you stop DADS? 

There’s the obvious — drinking in moderation or not drinking at all.

Beckerman also recommends eating a substantial meal before drinking. You could try rice, crackers, pasta, or some other hearty carb. “This can delay the absorption of alcohol into the blood, which can mitigate DADS,” she says. She also suggests introducing more probiotic foods — such as yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, or kefir — into your diet three or four days before drinking.

“Drink water while drinking alcohol and take a multivitamin before drinking,” she adds.

 “This will help rebalance your electrolytes and water soluble vitamins that have been compromised during your bender.”

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

 

Guy Stops Drinking Alcohol, Shows How Much Sobriety Changed Him In 3 Years

I LOVE this guy!

Giving up your vices and guilty pleasures can lead to a happier and healthier life that’s full of purpose. Even though you might not see the changes day-to-day when you give up drinking alcohol, they’re very apparent to others. One of the things that can keep you motivated is documenting the changes and looking at the photos side by side.

Well, one man has made the phrase ‘one day at a time’ fit both his fight with alcoholism and documenting his journey through sobriety. These last three years, Kenny D. has taken snaps of how he looked when he quit alcohol at key stages in his journey of sobriety. The changes within the first month are already huge and he is almost unrecognizable in the final pictures.

“I took a picture of myself the day I got my first sobriety coin, 24 hours sober. I felt so ill and I looked so bad, I wanted to remember it so I wouldn’t forget. The day I got my 30-day coin, I thought my look had changed drastically so I took another selfie,” Kenny told Bored Panda, talking about the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) sobriety coins given to alcoholics who stay sober for a certain amount of time.

Scroll down for Bored Panda’s full and exclusive in-depth interview with Kenny who got back his life, regained his health, and discovered new depths in his character by giving up drinking. For more powerful Bored Panda posts about sobriety and how much people change when they give up alcohol or drugs, check out these articles here, here, here, and here.

Kenny went sober three years ago. When he took his first photo, he was feeling awful

“I liked showing my family and friends the side-by-side of 24 hours and 30 days to show the change,” Kenny said. “Of course, they were skeptical because I had spent the last several years terrorizing my family and friends while I was drunk. So I kept them to myself mostly for the first year, but I always took a selfie every time I got a coin. On my one-year anniversary, I took my picture and posted a side by side on Reddit and called it the Progression of Sobriety. I thought it would just be something uplifting for people to see, I had no idea I would get the kind of response that I did. The post was flooded with comments from people asking me about alcoholism and how I stopped drinking. Asking how they can stop or how to help their own friends or family stop. And a ton of good positive kudos and congrats for my transformation. So after the first year, I felt like I’d make it a bit of a tradition to post my progress on my Sobriety birthday on November 2. I also keep with the tradition of taking it in my bathroom just for continuity. Year two was last year and this year was year three.”

Barely a month later, he was looking and feeling much better

Kenny revealed how much of a problem drinking became for him, as well as how it brought him to the edge. “I started drinking in college. But it didn’t become a real problem until about 10 years ago. I began drinking often and always to excess. I discovered at one point that I could not control the amount I drank once I had taken the first drink. I could not drink without getting drunk. So I decided to quit. I would last a few days, a few weeks, a few months, one time for a year. Always with relapses in between. By 2016, I had gotten to the point that I would get drunk every day. I drank 12–24 drinks a day and I was blacking out 3–4 times a week. I knew I had a problem but I didn’t know what to do. I used to stand in the bathroom and look at myself in the mirror and wish I wasn’t a drunk. I would wonder how I got this way. Sometimes I was just indifferent to whether I lived or died. I just wanted it to be over and I didn’t care how,” he explained the pit of despair he was in just several years ago.

Kenny kept up being sober with the help of the 12 step program, loved ones, and AA members

“The last time I drank, I had a week of vacation and I had bought myself a case of beer and was going to ration it for the week. 3–4 beers a night,” Kenny went into detail about how he finally got sober. “The first night after I put my son to bed, I opened my first beer. That was at 8 p.m. By 11 p.m., I had drunk 19 beers. Something inside me said, ‘Kenny, your life is no longer manageable.’”

He also fixed his diet and started exercising

“A friend of mine had gotten sober a year before and I did the only thing I could think to do. I reached out for help. I texted her and told her I had a problem and I needed help. The next morning, she picked me up and drove me to my first 12-step meeting and I’ve been sober ever since.”

Kenny took a photo every time he got a new AA sobriety chip

Kenny was also very open about the greatest challenges that he faced after he got sober three years ago. “My greatest challenge was the working of the 12 steps. 12 step recovery is a complete overhaul of your life. It is a fact-finding and fact-facing process. It caused me to face how I felt about other people and to clean up the mess I had made in my life while I was drinking. All I wanted to do was to stop drinking and to get my life back. I had no idea that I would get a whole new life that was full of more joy, happiness, and freedom than I could have possibly imagined.”

The man was completely open about how much drinking alcohol affected him

He continued: “The biggest difference between myself now and three years ago is that today I live my life by a set of spiritual principles. From morning to night, I run all of my decisions through a sort of spiritual filter. I do my best to not be resentful or spiteful or angry, though I am human and I have a tendency to forget sometimes. I’m not a saint. If I have a problem that I can’t tackle with stuff in my normal spiritual toolkit, I get on the phone to my sponsor or another alcoholic-in-recovery.”

Previously, Kenny couldn’t control himself when it came to alcohol

“There is always somebody around to help, I just have to reach out. The most difficult part about living with such success in sobriety for me is avoiding what they call ‘resting on your laurels.’ Getting complacent and going back to my old way of doing things. I get over it by going to lots of meetings as often as I can, working with other alcoholics, and practicing the spiritual principles in all of my affairs.”

Kenny used to drink 12-24 drinks each night…

“In my personal life, I’ve become an avid reader, I love to learn new things and read nonfiction and biographies. I’ve recently begun painting and that has opened up a whole new part of my brain that I didn’t know existed,” Kenny said about his newfound passions.

…and he used to lose consciousness three or four nights each week while drinking

“And as you can see from the pictures, I’ve lost 75 pounds (34 kilograms) since I got sober. I eat much cleaner and I exercise now. My favorite form of exercise is DDP Yoga. Awesome program and it completely changed my whole perspective on exercise and healthy living. Three years into sobriety, every day is an awesome day and I can’t wait to experience the next awesome thing or meet the next awesome person whom I can learn something from.”

Kenny was officially three years sober on November 2

People were very supportive of Kenny’s journey

                                                    You look fantastic, man!
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What Happens to Your Body When You Give Up Alcohol

Here’s how a substantial phase of sobriety could affect your immune system, sleep, and even your skin.

“Giving up drinking doesn’t make you live longer. It just makes it feel that way.” That’s one of my dad’s favorite quips should his consumption be brought into question. The truth is that however much you enjoy the taste of alcohol or the way it makes you feel, in almost all respects, it does bad things to your body and brain. I experienced firsthand the upgrades that can happen when you stop drinking for a while when I got in shape last spring. Granted, giving up booze was just one of the behavioral changes I made, but I couldn’t help thinking it was particularly significant one. Here’s what science has to say about that and other things that would likely happen to your body when you give up alcohol.

Your immune system will be more effective

Drinking too often and too much is closely associated with several immune-related health effects. What’s “too often” and “too much,” you slur? Well according to the National Institutes of Health, it’s more than four drinks on any day or 14 per week for men; and more than three drinks on any day or seven per week for women—figures that manage to be either sexist or bad math or possibly both.

On average, drinkers have a higher susceptibility to pneumonia and other respiratory disorders, a higher likelihood of getting complications and poor wound healing after surgery, a higher instance of sepsis and certain cancers to name a few. “[Giving up alcohol]…will strengthen your immune system and make it easier for your body to fight off infection,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, a registered dietician with the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Kirkpatrick cites a 2015 study that showed that alcohol overexerts immune pathways, which in turn decreases the body’s ability to defend against a number of adverse invaders.

And you don’t get off lightly if you only go big every now and then. A study published in the journal Alcohol found that a single episode of binge alcohol intoxication leads to overexertion on the immune system and inflammation. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. (Typically this happens when men consume five or more drinks or women consume four or more drinks in about two hours.) The good news is, if you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, your immune system’s response will buck itself up after you give up the sauce. “What’s not clear is how long it takes the body to strengthen after alcohol is taken out and what frequency of drinking relates to this decrease in immunity,” Kirkpatrick tells me.

You’ll eat less, or at least with more intention

According to a study in the journal Obesity, the drunk munchies may be due to alcohol heightening the senses. Researchers found that when people received an intravenous alcohol infusion equal to about two drinks, they ate 30 percent more food than those who received a saline solution. Their conclusion? Even mild intoxication can increase your brain activity in the hypothalamus, making you more sensitive to the smell of food and prompting you to eat more. Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that alcohol is often linked people overeating and having a poor diet.

You’ll sleep better

I go to a party, I have a few drinks, and before long I’m out of gas and ready for bed. I get home, zonk out immediately only to find that I’m wide awake at 5 AM and unable to get back to sleep. Sound familiar? “Alcohol is a depressant, meaning that it slows down the body and naturally makes you sleepy,” Kirkpatrick explains, adding that booze is also associated with disrupted sleep because the body is working overtime to metabolize it. A few drinks will usually help you fall asleep quick but once you’ve metabolized it all, you’ll likely wake up or have a poorer quality of sleep.

A review of 27 studies backs up Kirkpatrick’s analysis that while booze may help people fall asleep more quickly and deeply at first, it’s not a prescription for restful and recuperative shuteye. When people drink, their sleep gets fragmented, which means they wake up more often in their sleep rather than sleeping through the night, says Amarjot Surdhar, an addiction psychiatrist at Northwell Health. “People feel generalized fatigue and malaise the following day after heavy drinking,” he tells me, adding that a suppression, delay, and reduction of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep is another way that you’re doing your brain a disservice. The REM sleep cycle is believed to stimulate the central nervous system, restore brain chemistry to a normal balance, and help us form new memories. If your REM sleep gets messed with, you’ll likely feel like crap the next day.

You’ll decrease your risk of getting certain types of cancer

In its Report on Carcinogens, the National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services lists consumption of alcoholic beverages as a known human carcinogen. In particular, alcohol appears to increase the risk of head and neck cancers, esophageal cancers, liver cancers, breast cancer, and colorectal cancers. There’s also mounting evidence that booze is associated with increased risks of melanoma and of prostate and pancreatic cancers. Conversely, putting a plug in the jug can decrease those risks.

Quitting booze could impact fertility in women

While pretty much everyone’s on board with the idea that getting wasted when your baby is gestating inside you is like, not cool, alcohol’s effect on fertility is less talked about. In one Danish study, the alcohol consumption of healthy women who were trying to conceive was monitored. Booze was measured in standard servings: 1-3, 4-7, 8-13, and 14 or more units per week. Women in the highest alcohol consumption group (14 units or more per week) had 37 pregnancies in 307 cycles, and those who did not drink had 1,381 pregnancies in 8,054 cycles. These figures equate to an 18 percent decrease in the probability that the women who drank more would conceive.

The study’s authors note that the consumption of fewer than 14 servings of alcohol per week seemed to have “no discernible effect on fertility.”

And decrease the likelihood of damaged or malformed sperm in men

A 2017 study found that while alcohol didn’t alter sperm density, it did increase the production of sperm with particularly large heads containing potentially damaged DNA. Authors of that study recommended that “men who plan to father children stop drinking alcohol at least three months before engaging in sexual intercourse that may lead to pregnancy.”

That rec might seem a little drastic since research has shown that it’s heavy alcohol consumption that can significantly affect sperm quality, says Michael Reitano, New York City-based urologist and physician-in-residence at men’s health startup Roman. Small quantities of alcohol can indeed have some effect on the shape of sperm but many large studies have determined that moderate alcohol consumption does not affect fertility, he tells me.

Your skin will likely look better

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it makes you pee out more liquid than if you drank water. Pissing in double time prevents your body from extracting water from urine in the kidneys. The result? Dry skin that can appear lusterless or ashy. “A moderate drinker will most likely not see a detrimental impact on their skin from having a drink once in a while,” Kirkpatrick says, but cautions that that excessive drinking is can lead to the desertification of your face. What’s more, booze also decreases the body’s production of an antidiuretic hormone called vasopressin, which helps the body reabsorb water. Cut the drinking out or down and you’ll improve your skin’s appearance in short order, she says.

 

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Is There Really A Difference Between Expensive Vodka And Cheap Vodka?

Walk in to just about any bar in America today and you’ll see a row of fancy vodka bottles all lined up. Some people swear by one brand or another, but there is a federal law that requires all vodkas to be pretty much the same, so the Planet Money team decided to test them.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Walk into just about any bar in America today, and you’ll see a row of fancy vodka bottles all lined up, shining like beacons. Some people swear by one brand or another, but there is a federal law that requires all vodkas to be pretty much the same. That got our Planet Money team thinking, is this the greatest marketing coups of all time? So they teamed up with Dan Pashman of the food podcast The Sporkful, to put fancy vodka to the test.

DAN PASHMAN, BYLINE: Let’s start with Title 27, Section 5.22 of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Code.

PASHMAN: I got it right here. It says that vodka must be distilled or treated until it is, quote, “without distinctive character, aroma, taste or color.” Of course it tastes like vodka, but it wouldn’t be vodka if it had distinctive character. Still, a lot of vodka makers insist their flavor’s superior. Grey Goose calls itself the world’s best-tasting vodka. It’s a big claim, which is no surprise if you know anything about the guy who invented it.

MATTHEW LATKIEWICZ: Sidney Frank – he is a classic American businessman and almost a cliche. He came from nothing, poor. He went to Brown. But he only went to Brown for one year because he couldn’t afford it.

PASHMAN: This is Matthew Latkiewicz. He’s a drinks writer and author of “You Suck At Drinking.” He says Sidney Frank was just determined to strike it rich. Frank married into a wealthy family, which got him into the liquor business. Now, back in the early ’90s, the fanciest vodka around was Absolut. But by today’s standards, it wasn’t that expensive. And that’s what Sidney Frank focused on – not the taste of Absolut but the price.

LATKIEWICZ: He essentially out of thin air goes, I want to make a vodka. So Absolut’s charging 15. I’ll charge 30. He didn’t even have a product at this point.

PASHMAN: But he already knew he was going to charge double. And to do that, he needed a product that screamed luxury.

LATKIEWICZ: It’s got to be the best. Everything that is the best comes from France. So he goes to France, and he looks around for distillers. He says, can you make vodka? He finds somebody that says, yes, of course I can make vodka.

PASHMAN: Frank sent his product to bartenders but not in cardboard boxes like vodka is usually shipped.

LATKIEWICZ: He would give them the bottle in these – a wooden box with straw inside and nicely packaged. It would be this large, clear bottle with the frosted glass that when you put it up on the back bar would catch whatever light was there, and it would kind of glow.

PASHMAN: The whole plan worked. Sidney Frank died a very rich man. He sold Grey Goose to Bacardi less than 10 years after he started it for more than $2 billion. At the Planet Money team, we thought that sounded so easy. Can we make our own premium vodka? We learned that a lot of companies actually buy a vodka concentrate in bulk from a handful of suppliers. Then they just add water. So we’ve got a hold of a sample, brought it here into the studio…

(SOUNDBITE OF LIQUID POURING)

PASHMAN: …Added some water…

PASHMAN: …And sent it to a lab along with a sample of Grey Goose and a sample of some of the cheapest stuff we could find. A few days later, we got a call from Neva Parker. She’s the vice president at White Labs in San Diego. She ran our vodkas through what they call a comprehensive spirits test.

Based on that information, Neva, which of these three vodkas would you suspect should be the cheapest, least-desirable vodka?

NEVA PARKER: If I had to choose based on this analysis alone, I would say number one.

PASHMAN: That was the Grey Goose. And the ultra luxury choice…

PARKER: Number three.

PASHMAN: Number three was the cheap stuff. Now, to be fair, Neva did say the differences in all three samples weren’t anything most people were going to taste. She compared the reports.

PARKER: I mean, look at these. They all look very similar as well.

PASHMAN: Very similar – we did talk to Grey Goose. Their global brand ambassador, Joe McCanta, took issue with our test.

JOE MCCANTA: Obviously our product was decanted into another bottle. And when that happens, it kind of compromises, you know, our understanding of any testing that’s done on the product afterwards.

PASHMAN: He also argued that the odorless, tasteless law is more about distinguishing true vodka from vodkas that have stuff like fruit and sugar added. Pure vodka is its own category.

MCCANTA: Every vodka within the category will have its own characteristics, which would be largely attributed to the raw materials used to make the spirit or even the process used while distilling the spirit. So yeah, that’s definitely our take on it. And that’s why – you know, that’s why we feel very proud of our process and our ingredients.

PASHMAN: So our one lab didn’t detect any taste-able differences even with our homemade vodka. And the law seems pretty clear to us. But Grey Goose insists there is a difference. They also invited us to come have a drink with them. We are willing to continue our research. For NPR News, I’m Dan Pashman, host of The Sporkful food podcast.

 

 

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Wildwood Daze – The Union Jacks – Dirty John – Part 1

“Okay, He’s freaking out like a retard. Put him in his bed and we’ll go.”

I had been to the restaurant where Brian our drummer worked part-time as a busboy. I don’t remember, but I had been there to meet up with him once for some reason. I do remember Brian telling me the bartender there liked my “friend with the big eyes.” (Me.) I don’t remember that person and quickly dismiss it in my mind.

One night Brain wants to bring us to the restaurant where he works for drinks. We get there and the band sits at the bar. Brian introduces us to the bartender, Frank. Or, as Brian calls him, Frank the Fag. Now I get it. Frank fancies me. It’s a compliment, but I’m straight.

We all order bottles of beer. Frank is being Frank but he’s nice as could be. We’re all just chilling at the bar and it’s nice to all go out and have a drink as a band. It’s like we’re somebody now. People recognize us when we’re out and I like it.

We’re sitting there for about an hour chatting about music, when Frank presents me with not one, but two large tumblers filled with a frothy pink liquid.

“What’s this?”

“It’s called a Dirty John.”

“Thank you, but I never drink hard liquor. I just don’t do it. I’m a beer guy only.”

“I’ll drink it!”

Jim is the youngest and newest member of the band. I think he wants to show that he’s a bad ass that can hang with the older guys.

“That’s really not necessary Jim.”

“No. I want to.”

Jim proceeds to chug the drinks.

We settle up and walk outside. Brian and Mark say they’ll bring the car around. I’m smoking a cig waiting with Jim. Brian doesn’t allow smoking in his car so we wait.

“I gotta take a piss.”

“You could have gone in the bar, Jim. Actually, I gotta go too. Beer goes right through me. There’s some tall hedges behind the restaurant. Let’s go back there.”

We walk back and are standing next to each other as if we’re just a couple of students pissing in the urinals in the Boys bathroom at Wildwood High. I suddenly hear this rustling noise and a thump. I glance to my right and Jim has vanished. I zip up my fly and go to the spot where he was.

There’s Jim, face down in the next yard. While pissing he literally just collapsed forward between the hedges. What the fuck was in that drink? Whatever it was, it hit him like a sledgehammer.

Brian and Mark pull up in his yellow ’77 Ford Mustang II.

“What the fuck’s up with Wolfie?” (Brian sometimes referred to Jim as ‘ Wolfie’ because the way he brushed his hair back, it resembled Lon Chaney’s monster.)

“Guys get over here!”

Brian and Mark scramble from the car and run over. We get Jim to his feet and he is just gone. Slurring and stumbling and we get him to the car. It takes all three of us.

“He went from buzzed to black out in a matter of seconds!”

Brian’s driving. Mark’s riding shotgun, and of course I’m in the back with drunk boy. He’s really out of it. Conscious, but super fucked up. More drunk than I’ve ever seen anyone ever in my life.

Brian’s driving him back to his house. “He better not fuckin’ puke in my car! I swear to god!”

We get to Jim’s house and I’m about to get him out and he pukes all over me. He doesn’t even know I’m there. Now I’m wearing the Dirty John meant for me.

Thankfully his parents weren’t home when we dragged our new guitarist back into his house.

We carry him through the door, in front of at least a half dozen siblings. They all look on in utter horror. I assure them their brother isn’t dead. He’s just sick and we’re taking care of him.

The kids know me from school. I’m the kid that comes and waits for Jim each morning and lets my glasses steam up while watching the Today show waiting for my friend so we can walk to school together.

 

It’s a mess. The little kids are clueless. We are simply a group of guys bringing their older brother home because he’s sick. Everything’s fine. Just like in any household in the 70’s. It didn’t happen.

We bang Jim up the stairs to his bedroom. When I say, bang I mean he was dead weight and me, Brian and Mark did the best to get him to his room.

This is all new ground for all of us. We’re new musicians, but we don’t know anything about but extreme behavior even if it’s accidental.

My best friend is so sick. I am wearing his puke. We try to run his head under the shower to revive him. He cries out like a molested child so we withdrawal.

“Okay, He’s freaking out like a retard. Put him in his bed and we’ll go.”

Brian was always so pragmatic.

“Turn him over on his stomach.” (I say) Put his face at the edge of the bed.”

“Why?”

“Umm… Bon Scott….” (See: Tales of Rock – Bon Scott) 

“He’ll be fine.”

” Dude. Hendrix died choking on his own puke.”

“He’ll be fine.”

We leave our lead guitarist in his bed and all go home. It’s bee a fucked up night.

My best friend got poisoned by a drink meant for me. What was Frank’s plan? Get me drunk beyond recognition and take advantage of me? That’s kind of evil.

But the worst part of it is… Was Brian in on it?

 

 

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Freddy – Annual Toy Drive for CHOP

Five years ago Freddy started a charity at Christmas to collect toys for children who are in the hospital at CHOP. (Children’s Hospital)

Back then he was the Vice President of the Philadelphia chapter of the United States Bartender’s Guild. Liquor representatives and bartenders and people in the hospitality industry would all gather and donate toys for his event.

It would always take place at a local bar called Time. The first one I attended was in 2014. That was the year that Annabelle dumped me and kept coming back on a monthly basis to fool around with me. It was a confusing and unstable time for me. I remember sitting at the bar and pounding Cutty Sark Prohibition. (100 proof) I had gotten a few texts from Annabelle saying how she missed me and was thinking about me everyday and even had a dream about me.

I was at my breaking point with that idiot and I told her I’d call her when I got home. Later I did just that and told her we were done and I couldn’t have her drifting in an out of my life anymore. But that’s a story that already been told in this blog. (See: Annabelle – Nice to Meet You)

So spring forward to 2017 and I’m at the salon. Freddy pops in to tan and hang. It’s a Monday night and I assume we’re going to dinner like we usually do. Then he tells me that he can’t because it’s the Toys for Chop thing at Time tonight.

I don’t want to go. I don’t work in the industry, I don’t have a toy to give and I feel like I’d be looked upon as just a groupie looking to get free spirits. But he tells me there will be some attractive babes there and with a few twists I’m in.

He’s been out of the liquor industry for a couple of years now and I haven’t worked for the liquor publication in a few years so we’re both a bit out of touch. He no longer runs the event and has passed the mantle on to a rep at another liquor brand.

He wants to go to the event together, but I have other plans. I tell him to go on without me at 7:30 and when I close the salon, I’ll roll over there after 8pm. The reason I do this is because whenever I have to go somewhere with Freddy that has a timeline, he gets really rammy as the deadline approaches. This causes me stress and I don’t need any stress in my life anymore. (See: Ghost – Swedish Metal Fiasco) So I send him off and the minute he steps out of the salon I hit the send button on the computer and activate my food order. I am determined to have a nice meal before I go over to this event. When I say nice meal, I mean drinking armor. I know it’s going to be oceans of whiskey and I need to prepare for that.

My food comes and I eat half my sandwich and that should be enough. I close the salon and head over to Time.

When I arrive the woman running the event is outside and asks me if I’ll give her $5 to fend of some homeless guy selling flowers. I’m happy to see her but it seems strange. I give her the money and head in. She tells me she’ll buy me a drink. I don’t mind and just go inside.

I run into the usual suspects of the industry and am happy to see them. I get a glass of Buffalo Trace on the rocks and sit next to a guy I know from a local bar. I like him but I quickly realize he’s drunk as fuck.

Then I realize everyone there is pretty much hammered. It’s 8:30pm. How long have these people been drinking?

I end up sitting at the bar sipping delicious free whiskey chatting with a beautiful blonde who unfortunately is blackout drunk. I don’t know her but she tells me we’ve met several times. I’m surprised by this statement because she appears to not even remember who she is.

Toys for Tots is a national organization that collects toys for underprivileged children from poor families. This event was created for children in the hospital around the holidays. But these kids have families that have jobs and money. They are going to get plenty of toys and goodies for christmas, sick or not. They don’t need more crap from us. Where do the toys really go? Who regulates who gets what? What about the money? How does that get distributed?

I realize now that this is an empty charity. It’s just an excuse for a bunch of industry people to get together and get shit faced drunk around the holidays masked as a charity. It’s awful. Thank God I got something to eat before I came here tonight. There’s a plate of cold cuts on a table and that’s it. Other than Freddy who has given up drinking, I’m the only sober person here.

This is a horrible and wasteful event. I had an opportunity to go to see a Led Zeppelin cover band with Freddy last week. We saw them last year. I declined this year because once you’ve seen it, you’re done. It’s not Led Zeppelin and it’s just going to be a rerun of the same show from last year. I don’t want to do that again. Pay too much to drink shitty beer and watch some clowns cover Zep tunes while I watch them through some other jerk off’s phone? Fuck that.

I’ve had an action packed life and continue to rock out in my own way. It seems like every time I get roped into someone else’s nonsense I have a shitty time. I’m not going to do that anymore. So no more Zep cover bands, no more concerts for any other bands I don’t know, and no more industry parties. I’m over it.

My life is elegant in its simplicity. I like to work and stay busy. I like to write and watch Netflix when I’m home. I love to sip a glass of wine and smoke a cig. As long as I’ve got my health and daughter Lorelei is okay, I’m good.

There’s so many lost and lonely people out there. I hope they find themselves. But getting fucked up on a regular basis is just a dead-end. So like I said at the end of the blog I wrote about the band Ghost…. Never Again!  (See: Swedish Metal Fiasco)

 

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Stacy – Jekyll to Hyde

Get set up by Jewish best friend’s wife with amazing girl who after 4 martinis morphs in to Hyper Sexual Jekyll and Hyde child of the Waffen SS.

Get set up by my friend’s fiance with a new coworker. We were introduced at a party then decided to go out for some drinks, etc. Stacy’s educated, intelligent, fun, gorgeous, well dressed but “can’t find a good guy” according to all sources.

We head out to this great little place (now closed sadly). First 2 hours we are having an amazing time, we kiss, it’s electric. I like her and she really likes me. We decide to order another couple of drinks and some food. We’re having a good time together, and already set up another date. I decide that I want to see where this will go, so I’m not going to let this first date wind up in bed. I want to see her again. She’s great.

Then it starts… I can’t tell if it’s the booze or she’s just been well-behaved up until then. Our server doesn’t come back with our order quickly and Stacy hisses, “That bitch better hurry with my drink. Did she get lost or something?” She laughs, then quietly mutters, “fucking kike.” I’m not sure what she says at first (note: The friend that set us up, her husband, my friend, is Jewish). Then as our order comes the floodgates appear to open. And more and more gradually her mouth spews bile, racist and other, every few sentences directed randomly at people she sees nearby or comments in general. What the hell happened to the gorgeous intelligent girl I met here 3 hours ago? I’m not drunk, a bit tipsy but well in control. She’s intoxicated so I decide that I’ve had enough. It’s getting worse, so we have to go.

We chose a place close to where she lives so it would be in walking distance and I decide it’s not safe for her to walk alone and I’ll grab a cab afterward. The walk was brutal I’ve got a super horny Ms. Hyde on my arm. Trying to get her home ASAP so I can get the hell out. She’s loud as hell now. She’s practically yelling about the fact that she wants me to do XYZ to her when we get home and she’s gonna break my dick off and ruin me for other women.

She bellows at anyone looking at her strangely because they’re a/an (insert horrible phrase here). She gets closer to me and tells me how great I am and she wants to see me again tomorrow not the weekend when we originally planned (totally oblivious that I’m certain this will be our last date).

I get her to the door of her building after a brutally long walk (should have been 10 minutes, took almost an hour because she was a total mess). A scene ensues at her door when I won’t come in. I tell her my ride pulled up out front already. I’ve got to work early and we have had too much to drink for this.

“Don’t you like me? Don’t you want to fuck this?” (she flashes her amazing breasts at me and pulls up her dress. No panties. I get to see the full show). “You don’t know what you’re missing! You can’t get it up, can you? Are you fucking gay you fucking faggot? Don’t call me you piece of shit. I’m telling everyone you have a small dick you faggot.”

This takes less than 2 minutes. I say goodnight and I escape quickly down the stairs. She texts me saying “fck ou ashol ur regret thsi” or some other bad drunk typing.

I escape home. The next two days are interesting trying to explain to my friends what went wrong, while receiving texts and ducking calls that left voice mails all indicating: Had a great time. Sorry if I misbehaved a little on the way home. Wish you’d stayed over. Can we see each other sooner rather than later? Don’t you like me anymore? Etc…

So sad. (See – Jill – From Jill to Jezebel)

What if we’d gone out and didn’t drink any alcohol? Would the night have been better? Should I go out with her again as long as there’s no booze? I’d love to know what everybody thinks about this date.

 

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Freddy – Money Monday

Flushed with the excitement of all of the antique trains that my sister Janice and I sold in York, I knew I should get the cash portion of my sales into the bank. (See: Train Show in York, PA)

I walked up to Cavanagh’s Rittenhouse to take advantage of their Monday lunch special: 1/2 off all cheesesteaks. I was a little banged up from the night before from celebrating our winnings. Ann Marie my favorite bartender came over to chat. (See: Ann Marie – 2015 to Present – Rose Among The Thorns)

I order a beer, and the usual. Ann Marie is her usual charming self. But she has to get back to the bar. I open my laptop and write a bit until my lunch arrives. It’s perfect as always. I’m feeling happy about how well we did at the show in York, and just glowing at how much fun I had hanging with my sister.

Freddy shows up, and while we’re sitting there he tells me he’s waiting on a phone call about a new job. Within a few minutes his phone rings and he has to step out.

I order another beer. Probably not the best idea because it’s early. I never really ever have a drink until 5pm. But today I’m celebrating a win, so fuck it.

Freddy returns and tells me the company he was interviewing with just called him and offered him the job. I congratulate him on his success, and I pay the bill and head out. Freddy drives me to my bank and I deposit my loot.

I’m relieved that I’m no longer carrying around all that cash in my pocket! We park the car and run into the bartender and server from Sofitel, Liam and Laura. We’re chatting with them and they’re both off  from work, so they’ve been hanging out and drinking. We agree to all meet up later for a drink somewhere.

Freddy suggests we go to Gran Caffee L’Aquilla. I took my friend Emily there and she loved it! (See: Emily – 2016 to Present – Super Baby Sister) Freddy knows the bartender there and we’ll probably get the hookup. (Free and discounted drinks) But what Freddy doesn’t know is one of the owners comes to the salon to tan. He left something valuable in one of rooms and thought it was gone. I found it behind a chest of drawers and recently returned it to him. Although he speaks little English, I could see the look of delight on his face when I handed it to him.

We go to the bar and we’re chatting with Freddy’s buddy and I see The owner guy.  He comes over and smiles and shakes my hand. He starts talking to the bartender in Italian, and I can sort of pick up that he’s telling him the story of my search and rescue of his belonging.

He walks away and I ask the bartender what that was all about. He says that I’m getting a special hookup.

“A hookup just this time?”

“I think you will be getting special treatment for a while here.”

Sweet! So I order up some chardonnay and sip away chatting with he and Freddy. I’m getting pretty buzzed. The conversation is flowing and so is the wine. I tell Freddy I’m supposed to meet up with my friend Carly at 5:30. (See: Carly – 2012 to Present – The Mad Baker)

I’m getting texts from Liam and Laura (Bartender and Server at Liberte’ Bar at Hotel Sofitel) that they want to grab a drink with us. I’ve had one too many already, so I suggest the Gold Club. The seedy strip club downtown. (See: Johnny R. – 2010 – Present – Needle in the Groove) I’m not really into strip joints as you know, but I figured it would pull a good story for the blog with some decent crossover characters.

We get there and grab a table in the back. Liam rolls in and tells us Laura forgot her ID and they won’t let her in. Who the fuck leaves the house without their ID, especially if they’re going out drinking? But Laura has many issues, this being the least of them.

So Liam and Nigel are chatting about who knows what, not even taking part in the revelry happening onstage. They are literally facing each other as if they are not even in a strip joint. So I’m enjoying the show and my buzz. Fuck them.

There is some chick swinging on the pole and she’s looking pretty fit. “Living After Midnight” by Judas Priest comes on and I’m digging her more. I also notice she has a lovely pair of distended nipples on her small breasts. She’s good. The next song to come on is “Starbreaker” also by Judas Priest from the Sin After Sin album. Now I’m loving this woman. Those are her song choices. This lady speaks my language and likes metal.

When she’s finished her dance she glides over to me and sits next to me. She seems really sweet. Fair skinned, lean, with auburn hair. I decide to get something I haven’t gotten in years. A lap dance!

Freddy and Liam are still being a pair of buzz killigtons in the corner. Why the fuck did I bring them here?

Anyway, me and “Tigre” head into the champagne room. (There’s no champagne room at this dive. Just little private booths.) I sit in the chair and she pulls the curtain as she straddles my lap. I’m actually loving this. I never do this anymore!

She takes off her top and starts grinding on me. Normally in gentleman’s clubs you can’t touch the girls, but in this shithole, you can pretty much do what you want. Why do you think my buddy Johnny R. loves this place so much? Free blow jobs.

But alas, dear readers I am a gentleman and I genuinely feel for these drug addled single mothers. Tigre is swiveling on my crotch, I’m running my hands up and down her sleek thighs. She presses forward and her nipple touches my lips. I defy any man to resist a nipple placed near their mouth. (Google: ‘Rooting Reflex’)

It’s funny when I’m with Johnny R. I resist the vice probably because he’s doing enough of it for the both of us. But for some reason tonight, I want to partake. While my other two friends are sitting out in the main room playing circle jerk.

Tigre is offering me her soft pretzel bites and I’m enjoying them so much! There is nothing else going on between us sexually other than that nibbling.

But anything that’s super fun is always over too quickly so our little session wraps up and I we go out to the main room again and sit. Tigre’s very nice and seems pretty normal. She says she works Monday through Friday, noon to six.  She volunteers her number and puts it in my phone. I see what’s she’s doing. Building a return client base. If it’s ever a slow day, she can summon up a few of us to come in and see her and she’ll increase her daily revenue. Shrewd chick after all.

I’m done, and have to go meet Carly for happy hour. Freddy goes off with Liam. I think this is only happening because they’re supposed to be going to Laura’s apartment. Which all revolves around the story Liam told to me when we went to Angel’s Envy event. (See: Nigel – Angel’s Envy) Apparently when Laura gets drunk she breaks out her huge melons. (I’m positive that’s the ONLY reason Freddy is going with Liam to her apartment. He’s starting to really show his true colors as a loser.)

On a wing and a prayer, Freddy thinks he’s going to see those glorious puppies.

I do my usual happy hour thing with Carly at Square 1682. We catch up and I’m a little fuzzy on the details because I’d been sipping since 1pm.

Apparently Freddy’s phone’s dead. Seems like it’s always on the verge. I even recently bought him a cool battery thing that my friend Cheyanne turned me on to. (See: Cheyanne – 2016 to Present – Elegant Power) I can’t get a hold of him and I’m drunk and annoyed at this point. I finally reach him through Liam.

I meet him at his car on Chestnut and now it seems I’m drunk enough to believe that if I go to Laura’s apartment I’ll get to see her major league sized yabahos.

Laura lives in a nice little apartment at 12th and Walnut. She and Liam are sitting there watching Jeopardy. Freddy lies on Laura’s bed. (Which I don’t get, but I think it was a studio so there may not have been anywhere else to recline.)

Laura is crushing cocktails and pouring me as many as I want, and I’m crushing Jeopardy. Drunk or not, Phicklephilly knows his trivia.

Things get fuzzy afer that. I know nothing happened between anyone at the apartment. I just remember Freddy driving me home. As I climbed the steps inside my four story walk up, I suddenly really have to go to the bathroom. I’m banged up and struggling with the lock on the door to my apartment.

I’m really having a tough time and the brown beast is growling with fury in my bowels. The lock has been sticking lately in the humid weather. I crank the key and the lock suddenly pops. And so does my ass.

Yep. I shit my pants.

Money Monday, my ass!

 

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