ANN ABOUT TOWN: Not Just a Drinking Game

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015, 6:00 am
Ann Nichols

From the safety of our front porch we have observed 14 years’ worth of drinking games at the house across the street. Beer bongs are so common as to be passé, but we still talk about the Olympic drinking event that involved a kiddie pool, a blindfold and a baseball bat.

Last Saturday we came home to a puzzling phenomenon. It was sunny and warmish, and there was a large group gathered in the front yard opposite us as we unloaded our groceries. Several people had long stacks of beer cans that were attached to form long columns. “Are they some kind of beer bong?” I asked Captain Carnivore.

“I don’t think so – they’d have to make holes in all the cans to do that, which would just be stupid” he replied helpfully.

“Let’s go ask them” I said, grabbing my handy Rookie Reporter Notebook.

As we approached, the boys currently in residence looked nervous. We have actually had a really good year with them as neighbors, and we like them a great deal, but traditionally a couple of permanent resident types approaching a flourishing party means “please turn that down.” (I may not have mentioned that they were playing fairly loud music, but that it was Big Band swing.)

“Hi Ann,” said one of the boys, “are we making too much noise?” I explained that not only were they not bothering us, but that I was a reporter and really curious about what they were doing with the beer cans.

In a matter of seconds, we had a crowd that included boys who lived in the house, friends of the boys who lived in the house, and moms of boys who lived in the house (one of whom had three sons on the premises which means that she may possibly have been some kind of living saint). One young man said “I don’t speak to the press” and went into the house, but everyone else was game.

They explained that the things they carried were Wizard Staffs, and that they believed they had invented them. For reasons having to do with graduating and looking for jobs, they were willing to be photographed but not to have their names in an online story about drinking enough beer to make a four or five foot “staff.” I agreed to let them be anonymous in exchange for the scoop.

At its most straightforward, the Wizard Staff is a column of beer cans attached to each other with duct tape. The top can may actually contain beer, which requires good clearance and no little amount of dexterity after, say, five or six cans. Drinking from a Wizard Staff at Hour Five of a party looks very much like the guy in the Riccola commercials blowing his alphorn.

“It’s not really a drinking game, it’s a form of creative expression,” explained one of the guys. This proved to be true as we were shown a Beer Flute in which the cans were joined side-by-side, and “Excalibur,” which featured both a blade and a hilt fashioned from cans. The designer of Excalibur told me that he was considering converting it into a trident, by adding cans diagonally from what was now the sword’s hilt.


The Beer Flute

“Dude!” yelled a voice from inside the house, “you got any more tape?!”

And in that sunny, surreal moment, talking to boys with beer swords and their mothers and siblings to the sounds of what might have been Tommy Dorsey, I really loved this town. Also, I really kind of wanted a Wizard Staff.

Beer Flute Serenade

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