IF NECESSITY is the mother of invention, beer is its wild-eyed uncle. You know, the one who corners you at family reunions with his latest can't-miss scheme, one that will revolutionize society and earn a bazillion bucks if you want to invest a couple thou.
No doubt fueled by a sixpack or two, inventors and assorted crackpots fill the archives of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office with off-the-wall ideas to enhance consumption of our favorite beverage.
Grand ideas such as:
* Party Goggles, application No. 12/927,974, by Bruce Riggs of Helendale, Calif.
"Simply stated," Riggs' application simply states, "the Party Goggles are the literal personification of the mythical Beer Goggles worn by so many intoxicated adults on so many beer-fueled weekend nights all across the nation and, for that matter, the world."
What he's invented is a pair of open-ended, 12-ounce aluminum beer cans affixed to eyeglass frames. They're guaranteed to "resurrect an otherwise lifeless party from the bowels of mediocrity or [give] the wearer the power to kick an average party into high gear."
"How many times," Riggs asks in his application, "have we all been stuck at a fetid fete marooned at the beer-stained end of a crowded couch, uncomfortably sipping a flat beer and hoping against hope that someone would do or say something interesting, something memorable? That is precisely what the Party Goggles provide."
"They work perfect," said Riggs, 45, a married father of two boys who works for the local gas company. "It's a party hit."
Riggs is completely earnest about his invention. He's made a few prototypes with cans of Bud and Heineken. He had a deal with one of those companies that promises to market your invention, but that went nowhere.
I asked Riggs if he was drinking beer when he came up with his idea. "Probably," he replied. "It's hard to say."
* Beer Can with Top and Bottom Pull Tabs, application No. 12/657,439, by Todd Bland of Omaha, Neb.
A conventional can, Bland noted, has just one pull tab on the top. His has one on each end, allowing it to be emptied "in a matter of seconds."
Who needs to empty a can "in a matter of seconds?" Well, cooks who use lots of tomato juice, said Bland. And marathon runners who want to drink on the run.
Oh yeah, and "consumers who desire a faster flow of their favorite beverage to empty their said cans." In other words, Bland has invented a self-contained shotgunning beer can.
* Electro-Mechanical Beer Pong Table, application No. 12/731,035, by Chad Hazen Hoffer, Carson City, Nev.
It's not enough that "continuous beer consumption" during beer-pong tournaments "can sufficiently impair motor control, balance, eye-hand coordination, judgment [and] emotion/thought centers of the participating players."
Hoffer has invented a gadget with actuators, apertures, axles, controllers, motors and movable platforms designed to make the simpleminded task of tossing a ping-pong ball into a half-filled cup of beer even tougher.
It's a beer-pong table that shifts the cups in mid-shot - a moving target.
As for the potential for electrocution when all that beer sloshes out of the cups and onto an electronic device, well, that just adds an element of excitement to an otherwise boring game.
* Fruit Holder, application No. 12/589,278, by inventor Brian Fukai of Los Angeles.
You know what the problem is with squeezing a lime into a Corona? Most of the juice never makes it into the bottle.
Fukai's solution is a funnel-like contraption that smartly holds a single wedge and ensures maximum juice infusion, thus providing some actual flavor to an otherwise bland, fizzy, yellow Mexican beer.
I say a Nobel Prize awaits this man.