"Loaded like a freight train
Flying like an aeroplay-ane
Feelin' like a space brain
One more time tonigh-hee-ight."
- Axl Rose
A while back, my good friends Sarah and Gilad gave me an Atari 2600 along with a good number of games. These included classics such as "Ms. Pac Man" and "Skiing," all-in-all a veritable catalog of established arcade hits. But one cartridge stood out as I rifled through them. "E.T. the Extra Terrestrial!" I thought to myself "Isn't that supposed to be one of the worst games of all time?" At that very moment, I could feel a tiny gear beginning to turn in the dark compartment of my brain that is normally responsible for such things as self-loathing and my love of Shark Attack 3: Megalodon. I did a little research, and it turns out that E.T. was a failure so spectacular that it makes Duke Nukem' Forever feel better about itself (well, that might be a stretch).
E.T. was released in 1982, the same year as the wildly-successful film upon which it is based. The development of the game cost Atari an unheard-of $125 million, over 10 times the amount spent to make the film. Basing a video game on a movie was a novel idea at the time, and Atari expected to ride the film's coattails. Unfortunately, one minor problem got in their way.
E.T., the video game, really, really sucks. It involves running around, falling down holes (I think) and evading guys in trench coats and lab coats (I think). I cannot be particularly confident that I am correct in my description, as the game's graphics are poorly-designed, even for the standards of 1982. Perhaps the game originally included a manual or some sort of hint as to what the hell one is supposed to try to accomplish. Unfortunately, I do not have any such instructions. When I realized that I had E.T. in my possession, I knew that I must concoct a booze pairing of epic proportions. A booze pairing that would help me and my faithful companions plumb depths of stupidity and masochism hitherto unknown to man.
To paraphrase a wiser man than I, "If Mad Dog 20/20 is what you drink to get into a rowdy, fighting furor, Night Train is what you drink when you need to spend a cold night sleeping on a park bench." Night Train is often considered to be the king of the hobo wines (no, I'm not going to cite my source here. It's common knowledge). When I bought 4 bottles from my local liquor store, the cashier commented "Oh, you're about to ride the train good tonight!" She was right. Joined by Gilad, Sarah, and several other morbidly-curious friends (some had just come over to watch the State of the Union address, but we roped them in), we started drinking our Night Train and trading off attempts to crack the age-old riddle that is E.T. About 30 seconds into anyone's turn, one would begin to hear frustrated exclamations of "I keep falling down these goddamn holes!" and "What the fuck am I supposed to do?!" Fortunately, sweet lady Night Train was there for us, and reminded us that E.T. is not the only horrendously-shitty thing that one can experience. Night Train contains a whopping 17.5% alcohol. It describes itself as "Citrus wine and natural flavors." My crew described it as having "Big League chew and Fun Dip on the nose," "Medicinal tannins," and "Notes of cranberry, Jolly Ranchers, powdered sugar, and Robitussin DM."
We only got through 3 bottles before we couldn't bear it any longer. We quit, but it had been a beautiful ride. And now that it's over, every other video game and booze, along with dead leaves dangling on trees and the scent of the wintry Chicago air all seem that much more beautiful. If you need a life-affirming experience, or if you hate yourself, I highly recommend this pairing.