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Tag Archives: poison

The Strangely Articulate Inner Monologue of My Drunk Roommate

28 Oct

Oh my, I seem to be rather intoxicated. I don’t recall this hallway being so long—or quite so blurry. My journey back from that delightful fraternity gathering was a trying one, indeed! Ah well, here we are at my dormitory. Room 204. Splendid. Now if I could just fit the key into the lock…hm, how peculiar my fine motor skills seem to be failing me at this moment in time. I suppose that 9th Jolly Rancher shot was not one of my brightest ideas! Ha! Ha! Wait…I think I hear my lovely roommate coming to my assistance. I should probably immediately notify her of my current state of intoxication!

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How to react to your first episode of Gossip Girl

16 Oct

Hands down the hottest 20-something to play a high schooler in years.

It all started with Monte Carlo[1].

Well, that’s inaccurate, it all started with an accelerated math course in elementary school but to follow the threads back that long would just be boring[2] so we’re going with the abbreviated version and it all started with Monte Carlo.

I used to watch a new movie every day which is relatively easy to do between Netflix and OnDemand and, you know, the internet. One of the last movies in this multi-year habit was Monte Carlo, starring Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester and a blonde woman who seemed very replaceable the entire time. The movie is an intense look into the differences between people as stipulated by classes and also there is a scene where they play polo and also Selena Gomez meets up with her true love while casually working at a Romanian charter school. Also Cory Monteith is in the movie and he doesn’t sing[3] so that’s a plus I guess.

Regardless, I watched the entire movie trying to figure out where I had seen Leighton Meester before. My first guess was Episodes, best known as the show that earned Matt LeBlanc a Golden Globe for playing Matt LeBlanc. However, a quick trip down Wikipedia lane proved that incorrect[4]. I also that it might be Elizabeth Moss but it turns out that Leighton Meester and Elizabeth Moss are two seperate people and only one of them has kissed pre-skinny Jonah Hill.

Then I forgot about it.

Just kidding, then I watched Monte Carlo again because it was on HBO before Real Sex[5] and I like having very confused junk. The second time around I discovered that the film was a clever commentary on a gendered society done through a gender-inverted version of the classic parable, the prince and the pauper and also the replaceable blonde woman is a waitress right in that douchey French guys face and also they could have made a very shocking sequel in which Riley, the carefree Australian goes all Wolf Creek[6] on Leighton Meester.

After this viewing I forgot about it entirely.

Several months later I was at a neighborhood joint I frequent often[7] when Gossip Girl came on. My only knowledge of Leighton Meester up until this point was as the wounded Meg Kelly. A woman driven by academic ambition who learns to accept levity into her life, by way of a very attractive Australian.

In Gossip Girl she plays Blair Waldorf, who is a huge bitch.

Blair is manipulative and just a meanie-pants in general. In specific, in the three episodes of Gossip Girl I saw she blackmailed two people and was really mean to another one and then kissed all the boys and I believe I’ve discovered the perfect analogy to what watching Gossip Girl was like.

Watching Gossip Girl was like the first time I went to visit my brother[8] in college and we got into a huge street fight with some other guys and then went downtown to a suite and sat around in the hallway passing around bottles of André and then me and this other guy got hungry so we went downstairs and ate Popeye’s. Gossip Girl is that chicken. I enjoyed the show a lot at the time, but later when I try to access it again it has turned into shit via entirely normal physical processes.

I have fond memories of watching Gossip Girl, but I’m not sure if that’s because I liked the show or because I was watching it with good company and I was in a great mood. That said, watching the show reminded me of something once said by noted cultural critic and current expatriate John Edwin Foster regarding the inevitable proletariat revolution.

J.E. and I were watching It’s Complicated[9], a movie where there are literally zero considerations for things like money and whatnot, and J.E. told me that when the proletariat revolts it will be because of It’s Complicated. They will rise up banners of fire and counter-oppression and as we look down from the diamond balcony we will have very little soul in our argument and they will justly rend us limb from limb.

Gossip Girl works in substititution for It’s Complicated[10].

The entire show could be summed up as #firstworldproblems. In the episode I watched, a character was removed from all his money, a problem he solved not through any great effort. He just fucked a cougar. Then he got called out on it and the explanation “I fucked a cougar because I needed the guapamole” was perfectly sufficent.

Similarly, someone’s mom was running a fashion show and the cool kids had to show up in order to make sure it was covered by the press. The cool kids did show up but the models didn’t so they had to be the models!

At this point, someone reading this should have bridled as the unfairly one-sided portrayal of Gossip Girl by someone who has admittedly seen a very small amount of the show. “What gives him the right,” you may be asking, “to decry such a show? It’s not like they’re trying to make a really deep show or anything.”

Touche.

Some people don’t know this about me[11], but I’ve seen every episode of Sex and the City and both movies. While the second movie is not really worth mentioning[12], I love the show. My mother suggested the reason why she likes Sex and the City and not shows like Desperate Housewives or Cougartown is because the show, on a very elementary level, is about friendship. That’s what seemed to be missing while I watched Gossip Girl. Blair and Serena have moments of comradery but their relationship is built on mutual antagonism.

The men in Sex and the City are mostly[13] one-dimensional coitus puppets. But the show uses them as plot devices to advance the women. If Berger hadn’t broken up with Carrie via post-it-note then we would have never realized how he, an intellectual foil to her, represented all her insecurities in a relationship and her constant desire to find easy happiness over lasting contentment.

When Chuck hits Blair it’s shocking, but it’s shocking in a way that American Psycho[14] is shocking. There’s no emotional fear, just a physical revulsion to the act. Patrick Bateman was created as a satire of east-coast elite, and so his violence is somewhat representative of the arrogance and incosiderateness of an entire class. When Chuck hits Blair it becomes apparent that you are watching either very deeply layered cultural criticism or a soap opera.

This begs a further question: what is wrong with a soap opera?

There is a prevailing theory that stating a genre informs the experience of the viewer on a fundamental level[15]. If you watch Gossip Girl through the lens that the production value would suggest, then ultimately you will be disappointed. The show is not as glitzy as the location scouting would suggest, it is base, and that is not an insult though it may sound like one. It is less than it claims to be, sure, but if we learned anything from the Nolan Batman trilogy[16] it was it’s not what you say, but what you do that makes you who you are. Despite Gossip Girl‘s vehement claims to the contrary, it is just a tabloid you peruse while waiting to check out at the grocery store. You might enjoy it, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but you should stay conscious of its deliberate sensationalism which fundamentally undermines any sensationalist aspirations it may have.

A final note:

Metafilmic influence is a crazy thing.

Remember Monte Carlo[17]? That was where I saw Leighton Meester for this first time. Usuaully, when an actor has a definitive role[18] it informs how the audience views them in subsequent roles (or previous roles viewed subsequently). This can also be true for the first role you see an actor in.

Imagine watching Gossip Girl through the lens formed by Monte Carlo. Blair Waldorf becomes an act to appear tough, a protection against something. But what?

Does Riley leave Meg after Monte Carlo ends? Is Blair just a girl who opened up her heart, only to have it Temple of Doom‘d, forcing her to act as heartless as possible to avoid being hurt again? Maybe all of her politicking is intentionally self-destructive, as she has seen how the only thing she needed for happiness was an oft-shirtless Australian.

Do you think that Blair ever finds herself sitting by a window in winter? She looks out onto the snow and sees not a blanket but a smothering force. She remembers the beach in Morocco where he told her that the key was not to worry and so she doesn’t. She laments. She ponders the consistency of words when their speaker has been proven to be so inconsistent. She might run a finger over her lips, but only if she is sure no one is watching.

Her phone vibrates. Serena wants to get drunk because she can taste Conneticut in her mouth and she wants to drown it out anyway possible.

When they are having sex with their boyfriends, they’ll think of each other.

It will not be a sexual thought. It will be the absolute misery that comes from realizing that in all of existence there is only one other person who understands your position, and that’s because she is also on her back, legs up in the air and over-priced liquor in her stomach too.

Later that night Blair will turn her head to the side as if to vomit, but nothing will come up. Her stomach has become too fortified against all the poison she ingests.[19]


[1]   I was trying to come up with the name Monte Carlo once and said Montenegro. Very different films, I recommend neither.

[2]   A lot of the time in grades 6-8 would be spent at Yu-Gi-Oh tournaments, a notoriously difficult game to report on.

[3]   I feel very bad for a lot of the actors in Glee because how can any other work be fulfilling after that?

[4]   In my more vain moments I like to imagine that there is a conspiratorial council dictating rapid-fire changes to Wikipedia just to foil the discovery of pleasant coincidinces in my life. Also I was banned from editing Wikipedia so I’m still a little sore about the whole thing.

[5]   There’s a really good drinking game where you drink and watch Real Sex and wonder what went wrong to lead you to this point.

[6]   This is a movie I recommend. If more people see it, then they’ll get what I mean when I drunkenly threaten to Wolf Creek their ass.

[7]   It’s called the Kitten Shack and three Zeta’s live there because only the best can wear the crown.

[9]   I liked It’s Complicated but then I really like Roxanne so maybe I’m just a Steve Martin fan

[10] So does Catcher in the Rye, sorry.

[11] All of you who don’t know me shouldn’t know this, but some people who do know me also don’t know this.

[12] Think Godfather III

[13] Except Aidan. Carrie and Aidan forever.

[14] I only own three DVD’s: American Psycho, Silence of the Lambs, and Remember the Titans.

[15] This is why Rian Johnson never told the cast of Brick that they were making a noire film. Genre conventions, etc.

[16] Those movies are worth watching a few times, which is independent of how good/enjoyable they are.

[17] You didn’t think I was never going to come back to it?

[18] So for John Lithgow, clearly it’s The World According to Garp

[19] The necessary accusation is that in order to write fan-fiction one must, on some level, be a fan.

Badasses in History: Hannibal Barca

11 Oct

One of my least favorite things about real life is that it totally doesn’t work like video games. Unlike Call of Duty or Halo—where I can beat the shit out of like a billion elites by just going all kamizake and then respawning—in real life it fucking sucks to be outnumbered. What it comes down to, in the real world, would be some guy in armor (Master Chief) getting beat to death by like 30 really pissed-off midgets (Grunts).

That’s the mathy explanation anyway. Today’s historical badass, however, not only shat all over my “normal” difficulty setting, cranking it all the way up to “Deicide”, but he did so against other people, not some dumbass AI.

His name was Hannibal Barca.

No. Not that Hannibal. The other one. The real one. The one that isn’t fucking Anthony Hopkins (who was, incidentally, totally as awesome as Hannibal Lector).

Anyway, this Hannibal was like Samuel L. Jackson if Samuel L. Jackson could go back in time and utterly bring the Roman Empire to its knees.

This Hannibal did something no other person in history was even remotely capable of. It’s like if Kobe played basketball against a team made up of genetically half-bred squirrel dolphins… the other side just doesn’t stand a chance.

To understand why Hannibal was such a BAMF, we have to go back to the third century BC to the civilization of Carthage.

His beard is rumored to be the inspiration for Morty's

Hannibal was born in 247 BC, son of Carthaginian leader Hamilcar Barca. Incidentally, “Barca” means “thunderbolt.” So yeah, Hannibal Thunderbolt. His motherfucking last name was THUNDERBOLT.

Sorry, I get carried away sometimes.

As I was saying, Carthage at the time was kind of like modern-day Detroit in that both had totally gotten fucked over and no one really gave a shit. To fix this, Hannibal’s dad, Hamilcar—being awesome (but not as awesome as Hannibal)—decided he’d get back at Rome for defeating Carthage in the First Punic War. Needless to say, they got owned by Rome’s far superior numbers and equipment, kind of like how in Lord of the Rings: Return of the King the good guys are FUCKED until the ghost army comes… except Hamilcar didn’t have a ghost army.

Or Gandalf. Gandalf would have totally helped.

Still, I feel like I’m forgetting something.

Oh, right, 8-year-old Hannibal went with his dad’s army.

Before you ask, this wasn’t his father’s order or anything; little Hannibal fucking asked to go. TO WAR. TO KILL PEOPLE.

Needless to say, no 8-year-old has ever been so ball-crushingly awesome.

Hamilcar, either the world’s best or worst father—I don’t think they make mugs for that—agreed to let Hannibal come if he did one tiny thing: swear an undying oath of vengeance to burn Rome to ashes and slaughter every Roman he could.

…………

Family issues a couple thousand years ago really make you think about the shit you complain about today.

Anyway, Hannibal, being the badass he was even at age eight, responded, “I swear so soon as age will permit…I will use fire and steel to arrest the destiny of Rome.” I think he also added, “time to PWN some fucking NOOBS!

Battles in those days were a lot like off-campus parties: nowhere to move, and no idea who's assaulting you

Regardless of little Hannibal’s presence, things didn’t go well, which is surprising since I would have thought an 8-year-old on a battlefield would have been a highly effective throwing weapon: you throw the kid and then hit the enemy in the face or something… maybe Lunchables are involved. Whatever.

Basically, the big thing was that Hamilcar died in battle after conquering much of what is Spain and its surrounding nations today. Hannibal, after getting down on his knees amidst thunder, lightning and rain, and screaming NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! to the heavens, decided that he would keep his promise and pull an American History X-style curbstomp on Rome.

So for the next twenty years Hannibal engaged in what can only be assumed to be history’s longest training montage, fighting off lions, killing soldiers, and generally fucking shit up. Then, in 221 BC, his brother Hasdrubal was assassinated, and as Hasdrubal was Carthage’s main general, this meant Hannibal suddenly had a rather powerful new job title.

Because of the assassination’s success, the Roman’s acted a bit like everyone did at the end of the every Disney movie ever. They chilled out and celebrated even though there were dozens of unanswered questions and unsolved problems.

Hannibal, not being a complete idiot, took advantage of this in every way possible by gathering an army and repeating his brother’s plan.

That takes mad balls.

And, funnily enough, the Romans were still taken by surprise. Seriously Rome? Too many pot brownies probably.

Putting the Dos Equis man to shame

Anyway, in the spring of 218 BC, Hannibal marched with his army to Gaul (now France and other countries) on the way to the Swiss Alps.

Which he proposed to cross. With about 50,000 men. And also 37 war elephants. Dude, how badass are war elephants? Like, at least as badass as 300.

This was totally not going to be easy. I mean, the Swiss Alps are 15,000 foot high mountains, and Hannibal had thousands of soldiers AND FUCKING ELEPHANTS to feed. It was probably the equivalent of trying to ride a skidoo in the middle of the Arizona desert. Under normal circumstances, it just shouldn’t be possible, like Dane Cook saying something funny.

But Hannibal did it. He lost about 25,000 of his men, and all but two of the elephants, but he fucking did it. From there, he went on to win every single battle he fought with Rome for the next decade—being outnumbered virtually every time, with no way to easily get continued supplies—including the Battle of Cannae, which to this day is still studied by military historians who sit and read about it and say, “How the fuck did he pull this off?” With about 15,000 men, Hannibal defeated a Roman army of 50,000-70,000. That’s easily a ratio of 4:1. Among the dead were about 80 Roman senators (25-30% of the entire Roman government).

Fuck yeah, Hannibal Barca.

Hey Rome, remember that one time I almost single-handedly brought your empire to its knees?

Sadly, however, the years kept weakening Hannibal’s army—but not Hannibal, the dude beat up Wolverines for his morning exercise. This eventually forced Hannibal to make a retreat with his remaining forces back to Carthage. He did manage to sack several cities during the retreat—kind of like a last second money shot at Rome—but on the whole he had won every battle but lost the war.

Eventually, Hannibal would go into voluntary exile from Carthage when Rome threatened it again while Hannibal was without troops, but even then he worked as a mercenary general, winning almost every battle he fought. In one victory, a naval one incidentally, his weapon of choice was a barrel of poisonous snakes, which he would toss onto enemy ships.

This caused Rome so many problems, even when Hannibal was just a mercenary, that they demanded his allies surrender him or be annihilated. His “allies” being whiny douchebags, they agreed.

But, Hannibal was too badass to let himself be killed by Romans, so he took poison and wrote a final “fuck-you” letter to the Romans to be found next to his body.

It said:

Let us relieve the Romans from the anxiety they have so long experienced, since they think it tries their patience too much to wait for an old man’s death.

Even beyond the grave, the dude managed to flip-off Rome.

Righteous.

Josh Kopel