At closing time, everyone seems more attractive.

In one study*, 220 bar patrons were asked to rate the attractiveness of other people in the bar at varying times of the night. At 9PM, female bar patrons received an average attractiveness rating of 5.5 out of 10, while men were rated a 5.0. By midnight, the average attractiveness rating for women had increased to over 6.5, and men's attractiveness had reached 5.5. This effect was still apparent when the results were controlled for amount of alcohol consumed (i.e. maybe it wasn't beer goggles after all).

What does it mean? One interpretation suggests that the perceived increase of attractiveness acts as a means to lower the standards of the as yet unpaired bar patrons. As a result, the remaining people might be more likely to have sex, which would give them an increased chance of propagating their genes into the next generation.

The gender difference is also telling. In this study, women were asked to rate male attractiveness, and men were asked to rate female attractiveness. The men in this subject pool displayed a much greater increase in how attractive they perceived the opposite sex. This supports the idea that, as the sex that must invest more energy in raising offspring, women tend to be more interested in finding a quality mate than lots of mates. If kangaroos hung out in bars, they would probably display a similar phenomenon. In contrast, even if fish hung out in bars, they, for the most part, would show no sex differences in attractiveness rating increase, because most fish have no sex differences in amount of parental care.

*Gladue, B.A., and Delaney, J.J. (1990). Gender differences in perception of attractiveness of men and women in bars. Personality and Social Psychology Bulliten, 16, 378-391.
Additional resources: Nida, S.A., and Koon, J. (1983). They get better looking at closing time around here, too. Psychological Reports, 52, 657-658.
Pennebaker, J.W., Dyer, M.A., Caulkins, R.S., Litowixz, D.L., Ackerman, P.L., and Anderson, D.B. (1979). Don't the girls get prettier at closing time: A country and western application to psychology. Personality and Social Psychology Bulliten, 5, 122-125.

Information for the drinking visitor to the UK

In the United Kingdom, the opening hours of pubs and bars - licensed premises, are controlled by legislation called the licensing laws.

In England and Wales, closing time is restricted to 10:30 p.m. on Sundays and 11:00 p.m. on other days. In Scotland and Northern Ireland the laws are more lax, allowing for 01:00 closing in Scotland1.

After this time, the management are not allowed to serve you more drinks, and customers have 20 minutes drinking up time. In theory, you could be prosecuted if caught by the police, drinking after this time.

Note that it is just a legal requirement to close at 11:00 p.m. - there is no legal requirement to stay open. In parts of Central London, the City of London especially, pubs usually close earlier (typically 9:00), and many do not open at all at weekends.2

Enforcement of closing time varies greatly. Many town pub managements are strict, whereas in rural districts, the police tend to turn a blind eye, and are more interested in drink driving and under age drinking.

Late licences

New: (Nov 2005). Establishments wanting to sell alcohol after 11:00 can apply to local government for a late licence. They will need to do so if offering late night food or entertainment, whether or not alcohol is for sale. Such licences are granted on a permanent, rather than a one off basis. See licensing laws.


The licensing laws for controlling the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises originate from the First World War. The act of parliament was introduced by a government worried that productivity in the armaments factories was been lost due to excessive drunkenness of the factory workforce.

The licensing act has never been repealed, but changes have been made in the last 20 years to moderate the laws. In 1980, pubs closed at 10:30 most days of the week, and only 10 minutes drinking up time were allowed. Also, the pubs could not open through the afternoon - they had to close at 3:00 and reopen at 5:30 (they had to close from 2:00 to 7:00 on Sundays).

My opinion

These inane laws are causing health problems and alcoholism through binge drinking (getting one more in before closing time), and leading to road traffic accidents at the 11:30 peak as everybody leaves the pubs at the same time. The licensing laws are long overdue for repeal. I believe the UK should adopt the common sense system operating in the rest of the world, and allow each business to choose their own operating hours.

Update: November 2005

The Licensing Act 2003 has allowed late licences to become much more widespread, though closing time is still 11:00 in lieu of a late licence (and also if the publican feels like it). See licensing laws for more details.


1 In Edinburgh and Glasgow, pubs can open until 3am - though they are about to move to a unlicensed scheme. Thanks to bodhi for this contribution.

2 Thanks to spiregrain for reminding me about City pubs.

Whether you're a partyer, a pickup artist, a wallflower, a people watcher, a pickpocket, a compulsive extrovert, an exhibitionist, a professional drinker, a weary earner, a hooker or just plain need to get pie-eyed, there is one thing you have in common with your fellows. That is the moment of dark magic and lactic-acid-fuelled strangeness that comes but once a night when fantasies are brought down in a smash of bright lights and delerium tremens, when dust motes dance in sudden glare and eyes blink in reflexive adjustment as shoulders hunch under the weight of the unseen tomorrow and the voices call out for stragglers.

Closing time.

Thrust from the womb into the harshness of life. It might be dark out, it might be light, it doesn't matter. You may have found love or lust or loneliness; you may not care at all. The moment that was will suddenly be cut from all the moments that will be, and the division will be a crisp one even if there is no pain.

Musicians, by the nature of their trade, end up in bars. Many musicians have performed and penned songs titled Closing Time. This writeup is about two of them.

On the face of it, these two songs couldn't really be more different. One is a pop song, crafted by a group that another noder has called (with good reason) "the consummate inoffensive pop band." The other is a tribute to loss, offered up by a poet of pain and alcohol. The thing is, though, they're both about the same concept, and in both you can feel the same thing.

Semisonic aren't Leonard Cohen, and comparing the artists would (rightfully) draw hellfire down on my head. Instead of the exquisite agony of his voice and words, all they could offer was a knife-edged crafted pop anthem - but they built that, and offered it up to the same God, on the same altar that Cohen did, to the same moment that he did. Closing Time. And because they recognized the limits of their skills, and went right to those limits in service of that moment, it resonates in the same fashion that Cohen's song does as you think about it, perhaps. It's beautiful in a strange color, that Semisonic made a song whose pop hook will grab your head and not let go of it until you want to rip it out with a rusty spoon, whereas Cohen's ballad just reaches in and squeezes until your heart runs down his callused fingers in bloody jello - but that's what Closing Time is all about. So huzzah to the fucking both of them.

You can, in fact, listen to these two songs one after the other. I strongly recommend strong drink before, during, and after.

Leonard Cohen
from The Future (excerpted to stay under the fair use wordcount)


I loved you for your beauty
but that doesn't make a fool of me
you were in it for your beauty too
and I loved you for your body
there's a voice that sounds like God to me
declaring, declaring, declaring that your body's really you
And I loved you when our love was blessed
and I love you now there's nothing left
but sorrow and a sense of overtime

and I missed you since the place got wrecked
And I just don't care what happens next
looks like freedom but it feels like death
it's something in between, I guess

it's closing time (closing time)

Yeah, I missed you since the place got wrecked
By the winds of change and the weeds of sex
looks like freedom but it feels like death
it's something in between, I guess

it's closing time

Yeah, we're drinking and we're dancing
but there's nothing really happening
and the place is dead as Heaven on a Saturday night

and I lift my glass to the awful Truth
which you can't reveal to the ears of Youth
except to say it isn't worth a dime
And the whole damn place goes crazy twice
and it's once for the Devil and once for Christ
but the Boss don't like these dizzy heights
we're busted in the blinding lights

of closing time

Oh the women tear their blouses off
and the men they dance on the polka-dots
It's closing time
And it's partner found, it's partner lost
and it's hell to pay when the fiddler stops

It's closing time


from Feeling Strangely Fine

Closing time, time for you to go out, go out into the world
Closing time, turn the lights up over every boy and every girl
Closing time, one last call for alcohol so finish your whisky or beer
Closing time, you don't have to go home but you can't stay here

I know who I want to take me home
I know who I want to take me home
I know who I want to take me home
Take me home-

Closing time, time for you to go back to the places you will be from
Closing time, this room won't be open 'til your brothers or your sisters come
So gather up your jackets, move it to the exits, I hope you have found a friend
Closing time, every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end, yeah-

I know who I want to take me home
I know who I want to take me home
I know who I want to take me home
Take me home-

Closing time, time for you to go back to the places you will be from-

I know who I want to take me home
I know who I want to take me home
I know who I want to take me home
Take me home-

This writeup has been approved by the CST 8/3/06

"Closing Time" is the twelfth episode of the sixth series of Doctor Who. It stars Matt Smith as The Eleventh Doctor, Karen Gillam as Amy Pond, Arthur Darvill as Rory Williams, Alex Kingston as River Song, and James Corden as Craig Owens. Although Karen Gillam and Arthur Darvill are still billed (for what I assume are contractual reasons), they appear in only one scene. Alex Kingston appears in a closing scene that is a bridge to the next episode, that is not connected with the main plot of this episode.


The Doctor has known for a while that he is fated to die on a beach in Utah, and the audience has known that even longer. Since the end of The God Complex, he has been spending time, some 200 years, racing across the universe on adventures. Right before he goes to find his destiny, he stops to say goodbye to Craig Owens, the companion he met briefly in The Lodger. But just as he is getting ready to leave, he picks up some weird readings and decides to stick around to fight one last alien invasion. He takes a job in a department store, working with James to track down a number of mysterious disappearances. Craig also has an infant son, Alfie, who makes the adventure more dangerous, more funny, and at the end, more successful.

After the twists and turns of the season, this episode is a bit of a respite. It is simple, uplifting, and has great comedic interplay between Matt Smith and James Corden. Of course, we shouldn't be too comfortable, because the next episode, things get really weird and timey-wimey again.

If you're exepecting something that resembles a semblance of an objective review you might as well forget it. I've listened to this album for over 25 years in both good times and bad. It's stood the test of time.

When it comes to Tom Waits most people seem to have a love/hate relationship with him and his music. As for me, when I listen to his songs, whether it be in the crooner style of his early days or the gravelly voiced minstrel of his later efforts, I seem to get transported to another place. Even though the lyrics might be considered maudlin by some, the place they take me to in my mind is one of happiness. Sometimes I think he knows more about my life than even I do.

To quote one of the founding fathers of this place on the topic :

”His blood runs thin with moonshine and thick with nostalgia.”

The album Closing Time was recorded back in 1973 and marked the first album in his long and illustrious career. It remains one of my favorites to this day and I’ll stick it on every now and then just to remind myself just how good it is. What follows is some short snippets and excerpts from each of the songs on the record and some personal insights.

Well my time went so quickly
I went lickedy splitly
Out to my Ol’ 55
As I go away slowly
Feelin’ so holy
God knows I was feelin’ alive

And now the suns comin’ up
I’m ridin’ with Lady Luck
Freeways, cars and trucks
Stars beginning to fade, and I lead the parade
Just a-wishing I'd stayed a little longer,
Oh, Lord, let me tell you that the feeling's getting stronger

Most people are probably more familiar with The Eagles version of this song and even though it’s not bad it can’t compare to Waits version. Some people think that the song is an ode to an old car and while that might be true what I hear in this song is a goodbye of sorts. To me, it’s about a guy who leaves a girls house after a late night tryst. At first he feels glad to get away but then later regrets his decision to leave. That’s an experience I can relate to.

I can see that you are lonesome just like me, and it being late,
You'd like some some company,
Well I turn around to look at you, and you look back at me,
The guy you're with has up and split, the chair next to you's free,
And I hope that you don't fall in love with me.

Now it's closing time, the music's fading out
Last call for drinks, I'll have another stout.
Well I turn around to look at you, you're nowhere to be found,
I search the place for your lost face, guess I'll have another round
And I think that I just fell in love with you

The name of this is "I Hope That Don't Fall In Love With You" and it pretty much nails it. It’s no secret that I love dive bars and the people that frequent them. I can almost picture myself sitting at the end of the bar ogling some pretty young thing and as the night progresses trying to work up the courage to go over and start a conversation. As the bar empties out I go in to take a piss before I make my move but when I come out the place is empty save for me and the bartender. After that, there’s nothing left to do but hoist a last round and ponder what might have been.

I'll just get on back into my short, make it back to the fort
Sleep off all the crazy lizards inside of my brain.
There's got to be some place that's better than this
This life I'm leading's driving me insane

We've all probably got a "Virginia Avenue" tucked away somewhere in our life. It just goes by a different name for each of us but the sentiment remains the same. I’m not too ashamed to admit that over the years I’ve been guilty of having a few too many. At least now, as opposed to my younger years, I can recognize the signs and cut myself off. I know when it’s time to fold my tents and take that long walk home and when I get there I start scribbling down random pieces of “poetry” on any piece of paper I can find. They make no sense whatsoever the next day.

I can see by your eyes, it's time now to go
So I'll leave you to cry in the rain,
Though I held in my hand, the key to all joy
Honey my heart was not born to be tamed.

So goodbye, so long, the road calls me dear
And your tears cannot bind me anymore,
And farewell to the girl with the sun in her eyes
Can I kiss you, and then I'll be gone

The name of this song is “Old Shoes (& Picture Postcards)” and goddamn it, it brings a tear to my eye every time I hear it. This is especially true as I reach the latter stages of middle age and begin to finally comprehend just how many good things in my life I managed to piss away for one reason or another. For awhile, I thought I might never get them back but then I realized that’s not entirely true

Dream of West Virginia, or of the British Isles
'Cause when you are dreaming, you see for miles and miles.
When you are much older, remember when we sat
At midnight on the windowsill, and had this little chat

This one goes by the name of “Midnight Lullaby” and it reminds me of sitting on my front porch late in the evening with my daughter when she was approaching her teens and worried about everything under the sun. Boys, school, friends, you name it. I tried to tell her to follow her heart wherever it might lead and most likely, she’d wind up in the right place. So far as far as I can tell, that little chat we had so many years ago still seems to be working.

And those were the days of roses,
poetry and proses
And Martha all I had was you and all you had was me.
There was no tomorrows, we'd packed away our sorrows
And we saved them for a rainy day

This one is simply called “Martha” and it tells the tale of a man trying to reconnect with a lover that’s been gone for over forty years. Waits is in full nostalgia mode here and the pain in his voice as he sings the song is heartbreaking. I don’t know if the song is about trying to reconnect with his lost love to try and give it another shot or he’s just trying to say he’s sorry for being such an asshole so many years ago. As for me, it hasn’t been forty years but in a sense I’ve been there, done that.

Well I'm sitting on a windowsill, blowing my horn
Nobody's up except the moon and me,
And a lazy old tomcat on a midnight spree
All that you left me was a melody.
Rosie, why do you evade?
Rosie, how can I persuade?

Another one word title by the name of “Rosie”. Waits sure likes to keep shit simple if he can. If you haven’t got the theme of this album yet I’ll offer you up a little clue. Tom sure likes his girls an awful lot but seems to have blown many a chance to finally get the right one. Along the way, he regrets many of his decisions and is left to ponder his decisions alone. Sounds like somebody I know.

I'll be clickin' by your house about two forty-five
Sidewalk sundae strawberry surprise,
I got a cherry popsicle right on time
A big stick, mamma, that'll blow your mind

'Cause I'm the ice cream man, I'm a one-man band
I'm the ice cream man, honey, I'll be good to you.

One of the more upbeat and up tempo songs on the album, this one is called “Ice Cream Man” although I don’t think it takes a genius to figure out he ain’t singing about ice cream. Tom, Tom, Tom, singing about getting blowjobs or getting laid in 1973 on your opening album was a bit of a risk don’t ya think?

About six years ago I vowed that if I’m ever lucky enough, crazy enough, stupid enough or drunk enough to risk a third trip down the aisle the next tune on the album would be my wedding song. It’s called “Little Trip to Heaven (On the Wings of Your Love)” and if you want to read about it just clink on the link but don’t forget to come back and read the rest of this write up. Thanks.

Now I'm smoking cigarettes and I strive for purity,
And I slip just like the stars into obscurity.
'Cause every time I hear that melody, well, puts me up a tree,
And the grapefruit moon, one star shining, is all that I can see

The first time I heard this I thought to myself that besides being the title of the song, “What the fuck is a Grapefruit Moon?” After repeated listenings it became clear to me. I was listening to this song sober when I should be drunk off my ass. Again, a man sits alone pining over what have might have been. Waits must be some kind of fortune teller because he began telling me the story of my life back in 1973 and I was only 15 old years at the time. Fucker.

The last number on the album is also the albums namesake. “Closing Time” is an instrumental piece. It’s got a sort of funky jazzy bluesy type thing going on and it’s definitely something to listen to when last call comes around and it’s time to settle up your tab, pack your bags and make your way home.

Until you do all it over again the next time.


Inspiration for this effort comes from my, at times, good friends Bud Weiser and his trusty sidekick Jim Beam. I’d also like to thank all of my friends both past and present for putting up with my shit over the years and hearing me out. I know it hasn’t been easy.

Hopefully, one day your patience will be rewarded.

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