Maybe Just Don’t Celebrate Valentine’s Day?

If you’re looking for last-minute ideas about how to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, consider this one: Just don’t. Hear me out.

Nobody Else Is Celebrating It

 

Well, nobody you want to emulate is celebrating it. The only people who make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day are kids (who are forced to give valentines to all their classmates, regardless of their true feelings), single people who want to make a big show of being self-pityingly single (or make a big show of not being self-pityingly single), and couples who are celebrating their first Valentine’s Day together. Most of the happy, long-term couples I know would rather be home re-watching the last episode of Sherlock or that insane, six-minute tracking shot from the end of last week’s True Detective again. They know they love each other—every day—and they don’t have to make a big freaking deal about it on the day that they’re told they have to make a big freaking deal about it. Not that I’m against long-term couples fêting their love for each other—it’s just a lot better for all involved if they don’t do it on Valentine’s Day. Why?

Continue reading Maybe Just Don’t Celebrate Valentine’s Day?

An Initial Evaluation of a Handful of Songs from Teeth Dreams, the New Album by the Hold Steady, as Played at Their 10th Anniversary Concert at the Music Hall of Williamsburg

AHHHHHHHHHH! THESE SONGS ARE SO AWESOME! THAT FIRST ONE WAS GREAT BUT I HEARD IT ALREADY, AND THAT SECOND ONE WAS JUST AS GOOD, BUT THE THIRD ONE WAS EVEN BETTER AND I DIDN’T THINK THAT COULD EVEN BE POSSIBLE! WHY DID I HAVE TO WAIT FOUR YEARS FOR THESE SONGS?

Wait, I waited four years for these songs? The Hold Steady has been a band for ten years? Am I really that old? Come to think of it, the crowd was jumping around a lot less and there was maybe only one beer spilled on me. Are we all getting old? Sleepy.

Mexican Roulette

In addition to writing about I, Frankenstein, I also sometimes write fiction. I’ve been working on a story recently that involves a potato gun. You might say that I am somewhat obsessed with potato guns despite little experience with them in real life. For example: years ago I wrote this extremely short story that also involves a potato gun. Now that I’ve written a second story with a potato gun, I have to either make a potato gun-themed short story collection, or maybe set this other piece aside. Or: maybe I set it free, and nothing says setting free like SportsAlcohol.com. It was either this or try to discreetly slip it into a literature textbook and get fired. Enjoy?

MEXICAN ROULETTE

Dawson, Pete, and Sophie are planning a trip to Mexico. They go over the checklist.  It’s in Sophie’s handwriting, which looks sort of like normal girl handwriting, soft and round, but messier, like if a boy possessed her hand.  Sophie is recording secretary. Sophie keeps things civil by telling people to shut up.

“Blankets.  Matches.  Juice boxes—apple.  Pillows.” Sophie reads, and Pete and Dawson nod in unison several times, until Pete looks at Dawson’s nods and stops.

“A box of change for tolls.  One BB gun.”

They are in Dawson’s van. It used to be a minivan, but he took the back seats out to make room for the stuff on the list.  It’s summer and it’s hot inside the van, but Dawson never wears shorts. Sophie would say it is because he never figured out how to look dignified in them (even though nobody has). Pete would say it is because he is an asshole. Dawson would say that he doesn’t have any shorts.

“Batteries.  Photographic film.  Marshmallows.  BBs.”

“Hold up,” says Dawson.  “BBs?”

“For the BB gun,” says Sophie.  Pete looks at the floor.

“He’s allowed to load the BB gun?”

Pete looks up. “Of course I am! BBs are on the list!”

“True,” says Sophie.

“If I thought we were gonna let him have BBs, I never would have agreed to buy that BB gun,” says Dawson.

“It was implied,” says Pete. “So I added them.”

“You doctored it!  You added BBs without my approval!”

“Shut up, Dawson.  I’ll cross them off,” says Sophie.

“Don’t cross it off.  What am I supposed to do with a BB gun and no BBs?” says Pete.

“You should’ve gone for the potato gun,” says Sophie.  “I told you.”

“No,” says Dawson.  “No way would I supply him with potatoes.”

“I would’ve brought potatoes from home.”

“You don’t have any potatoes from home.”

“Well I know where I could get some.”

“Even now, without a potato gun, potatoes aren’t on the list.  Do you think I’d put them on the list if you had a potato gun?”

“Enough!” says Sophie.  “Pete, do you have a potato gun?”

“No.”

“Do you even know where to get one?”

“Not exactly.”

“Dawson, do you even know what a potato gun looks like?”

“I saw one once.”

“Dawson, do you know?”

“No.”

“Then let’s shut up and move on.”

“If I ever get a potato gun, Dawson, I’m coming for you.”

The next night, Pete sneaks into Dawson’s bedroom with a potato gun.  This sounds impressive until you consider that Pete and Dawson live in the same apartment.  Then it sounds very simple, until you consider that Pete went outside and came back in through Dawson’s bedroom window.

“AHHHHHH – hey, is that a potato gun?” says Dawson.

“You’re goddamn right,” says Pete, immediately forgetting to use his menacing whisper.

“And it’s loaded with potatoes?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, Jesus. I’m pretty impressed.”

“Honestly, you didn’t think I could find potatoes?”

“I figured you’d spend most of your energy not being able to find a potato gun,” says Dawson.

“You figured wrong,” says Pete.

“Why did you just start whispering?” says Dawson. “Anyway, can I go back to bed now?”

“So I can bring it?”

“No,” says Dawson.

“Okay then,” says Pete. He points the potato gun at Dawson’s head. “We’re gonna play a little Idaho roulette,” says Pete.

“I don’t really see how it’s roulette,” says Dawson, “since there’s no way to partially load a potato gun. So I’m going to get it in the head no matter what, unless it jams. And knowing you, you didn’t buy a cheap potato gun. You probably cashed in a savings bond you had since you were a baby or something to get yourself the best potato gun in the catalog.”

“Website.”

“Plus shipping,” says Dawson.

“I’m a man of taste,” says Pete.
The next day, Dawson comes home from the store with bread and a flower for Sophie and sees Pete on the steps of their building with two potato guns at his sides.

“So when I told you that you couldn’t bring a potato gun,” says Dawson, “you decided to ask if you could bring two?”

“I found a way to do roulette with potato guns,” says Pete. “I have two.  One is loaded.  One isn’t.  Get the picture?”

“I get a picture,” says Dawson. “But I don’t exactly see where roulette comes in.”

“I’ll juggle the guns around and shoot you in the head with one of them.”

“But that’s not really roulette.  I’ve got a fifty-fifty shot of getting mashed in the head, and that’s assuming you don’t maintain some knowledge, subliminal or otherwise, of which gun is loaded.  I’m guessing a loaded potato gun is significantly heavier than an unloaded one.”

“Fuck it,” says Pete. “Now I’m just going to shoot you.”

Dawson’s van pulls up to the curb, driven by Sophie.  Even though they’re already looking straight at her, she leans on the horn.

“Hey boys,” she says, and honks it again.

Dawson calls over to her.  “Sophie, do you have that Super Soaker full of mustard?”

Sophie brandishes it.

“Son of a bitch,” says Pete.  “This always happens.”

“The mustard gun thing always happens?” she says to Dawson. “Were there others before me?”

“Since forever,” says Pete. “He’s taller, for one thing.  It pretty much went from there.”

Sophie looks at Dawson, and apologizes with her eyes. She open fires mustard on the crowd of two. She shows no mercy.  She gets it in Dawson’s hair. She staves off adulthood for another week.

This is the story that Dawson and Sophie tell on their wedding day six years later, about their trip to Mexico, when they first admitted to falling in love.  They get about halfway through it before Pete charges in with roman candles blazing and wrecks two centerpieces.  As Dawson’s two biggest cousins drag him away, Pete gives the first part of a magnificent toast, trailing off. Sophie takes Dawson’s hand. They look around the room, heads turning in sync, and for a moment everyone else is a stranger.

We are Social Media Human Beings!

If you’re anything like me, you are full of hate. A couple of the things you hate are social media ‘experts’ and the silly names they give themselves. Some of this hate might be borne out of jealousy because you want that job, but I wouldn’t read too much into it. 

We here at SportsAlcohol.com don’t claim to be social media gurus, ninjas, or any other moniker that reeks of cultural appropriation. We are, however, human beings and we would like you to follow us on social media. We are Social Media Human Beings! Here is but a sampling of our fine social media offerings:

Continue reading We are Social Media Human Beings!

Improve Your Life with Our Apps

The Super Bowl is Sunday, and because SportsAlcohol.com is a hard-charging tech company and a thousand times better than Apple and Cyderdyne combined, we need you to know that we have the best Super Bowl apps available in our app store. Although our site is still soft-launching, the app store is hard-launched and completely perfect.

Maybe just don’t watch The Super Bowl?

The Super Bowl this year looks really good. Like really good. As Nate Silver noted on Colbert earlier in the week, this year is only the eighth time the two best teams have faced off against each other. He called it a pick ’em. In addition to statisticians, sports books and video game simulations think it’s going to be a very close (and therefore exciting) game. We even have some lovely apps in our app store to help you enjoy the game better.

That being said, I’m nothing if not difficult. I think I’m going to probably skip out this year. Maybe you should join me. Here is why:

Continue reading Maybe just don’t watch The Super Bowl?

Close Encounters of the Tubby Kind

This story was originally written for a 10th grade English class.

Roy Bellows winced as the scalding soup spilled over the edges of the green plastic bowl onto his hands, and he flung the bowl onto the tile below him. As he nursed his blistered fingers, he looked down at the mess he had caused and cursed himself. Suddenly, he cocked his head and looked at the overturned bowl again. Something about the half a sphere protruding from the floor fascinated him. Instead of mopping up the soup that covered the floor he went to the cupboard and got another green bowl. He set it down right next to the first one and studied what he saw. Acting on a sudden impulse, he used a modeling knife to cut the outer edges of the bowl off and slid them together to connect them. He felt an absurd wave of pleasure course through him, but immediately it left him in favor of puzzlement. Why had this image suddenly come to him?

Over the next few weeks, Roy found himself continually being drawn to this shape, this image. He doodled it on the comic section of the newspaper every morning, he sculpted the connected hemispheres in ice cream sundaes and even mashed potatoes, and he even went as far to erect a diorama of this structure on a grassy field on the floor of his usually well kept apartment.

Now in addition to being a compulsive idiot, Roy was also portly, middle aged, near-sighted, single, and lazy. It was because of his inherent indolence that he would take frequent breaks while constructing his diorama to peruse the fine public programming to be found on PBS during the daytime. One of his viewing choices was eventually a children’s program called “Teletubbies.” Now if you’ve ever seen this show you most likely can attest to the strange call the vibrant colors and cutesy-poo situations exert on the unsuspecting viewer.

Roy sat entranced as Tinky Winky (the largest, purple Teletubby), Dipsy (the green, and next largest of the Teletubbies), Laa Laa (the yellow Teletubby), and Po (the smallest, red Teletubby) frolicked and had a merry old time in Teletubbyland with the rabbits and the flowers. Roy could not tear his attention away from the program until it had concluded.

Whether he became aware of it or not, Roy soon began to make it a daily ritual of staying home from his job as a patent attorney, working on his double-domed diorama, and turning the television on for a break just in time for the Teletubbies (which he watched, regardless of the endless repetition, all the way through every day). After 16 days of sitting in a darkened room with the blinds pulled close, and his rapt attention focused on the antics of Tinky Winky and the gang, he almost fell out of his chair from a sudden and ominous realization. As the Teletubbies continued to gallivant across his television set, he looked back at his diorama. He glanced back at the television to get a look at the building the Teletubbies called home and, his suspicions confirmed, he turned back to his sculpture. All this time he had been obsessing over the Tubbytronic Superdome, the house of the Teletubbies!

Shocked he turned back to the show and felt his troubles melt away as Dipsy scrubbed his feet with his Tubbysponge. In spite of the deep surprise he had just felt and the turmoil it had caused in his life, he felt perfectly content to continued watching until Tubby Bye-Bye. He didn’t seem to find it odd at all that as the baby in the sun squealed and set on the television show he became extremely drowsy and drifted off into a deep sleep.

He became aware that he was lying face down on an odd metal operating table without any clothes on. He could hear a soothing voice somewhere out of sight, in the inky darkness surrounding him on all sides say, “Okay, Tinky Winky, time to insert the Tubbyprobe.”

Roy awoke with a start and shook the bizarre dream out of his mind. He drifted back to sleep.

He became aware that he was lying face down on an odd metal operating table without any clothes on. He could hear a soothing voice somewhere out of sight, in the inky darkness surrounding him on all sides say, “Okay, Dipsy, time to insert the Tubbyprobe.”

Roy’s eyes again burst open as he tried to think of something else. As he attempted to keep his mind on a different subject, he fell back asleep.

He became aware that he was lying face down on an odd metal operating table without any clothes on. He could hear a soothing voice somewhere out of sight, in the inky darkness surrounding him on all sides say, “Okay, Laa Laa, time to insert the Tubbyprobe.”

Roy fell off the couch and muttered to himself wondering what on earth was going on. Before he could even pick himself up off of the ground, he had fallen asleep again.

Roy became aware that he was lying face down on an odd metal operating table without any clothes on. He could hear a soothing voice somewhere out of sight, in the inky darkness surrounding him on all sides say, “Okay, Po, time to insert the Tubbyprobe.”

Roy awoke and stood up, confused and shuddering at the memory of the dream. He ran to the bathroom and splashed cold water on his face.

The next day, he went back to work and was quite exhausted after having to catch up with all of his work and after spending the morning being berated by his boss. He felt a twinge of disappointment when he realized that he had missed the Teletubbies. He ate dinner, took a shower, and settled down to bed. No sooner had his eyes closed than he was being pulled out of his bed and carried above the heads of his abductors as they ran to the window and jumped out.

Roy gasped and sat up in bed as he ran over the events of the dream in his mind again. He rubbed his eyes and laid down again as he drifted back into unconsciousness.

He hurtled out his window, held aloft by his kidnappers, but the glass didn’t shatter as they passed through it, and as they entered the outside air, they rose up into the night sky. His abductors let go of him and as they fell upwards faster and faster he could see them and realized that they were Teletubbies! He looked up, and saw a gaping hole in the sky that he was being sucked into. Some kind of tractor beam seemed to be pulling him into the giant Tubbycruiser overhead, and as he entered the hole, it hissed shut behind him, and he felt the sensation of extreme speed as he was grabbed by strong, but fuzzy arms and thrown into a cell that was lined with what appeared to be unbreakable glass. Now the images in Roy’s dream started to flash by in rapid succession, and he was surprised to find he could understand, with surreal clarity, everything he saw.

He seemed to have been taken to the actual Teletubbyland. He was herded into a metal dungeon in the bowels of the real Tubbytronic Superdome along with a group of about ten other men and women. Every now and then they were let out into the field to stretch and exercise, but a Teletubby that they didn’t ever seem to show on the television program was in charge of them. He was named Jumbly Jombly and was colored black. He had a pentagram-shaped protuberance coming out of the top of his head, and a nasty green whip that he used to keep the abductees in line.

Roy remembered watching as the Teletubbies feasted on Tubbycustard and Tubbytoast, while the humans were given warm water and Tubbygruel. Periodically, groups of people were led out of the dungeon, while other groups were led in. Soon, it was Roy’s turn to go, and he followed as Dipsy led the prisoners with Po taking up the rear with Jumbly Jombly’s whip. A variety of experiments were performed, utilizing various Tubby instruments, but the most horrific of all came last. All the experimental patients were laid on medical tables and fastened down as a strange shuffling creation made its way out of the shadows. This mechanical monster had a hose coming from its face that moved of its own accord. Horribly bulging eyes were to be found atop this robotic terror, roving around crazily. The patient at the end of the row of tables began to struggle in abject horror as the monstrous vacuum machine scuttled toward him. Tinky Winky and Laa Laa set about removing the skull of the patient above their ears, exposing the brain. The vacuum, which the Teletubbies called Noo Noo, extended its hose towards the brain and sucked it right out of the skull. Roy felt the contents of his stomach heave, and watched in a kind of perverse fascination as an unintelligible analysis tumbled from Noo Noo as he moved to his next victim. Roy began to fear for his own brain, and trembled in his bonds awaiting his turn, which never came…never came…never came.

Roy was returned to his home and the Tubbycruiser hovered off to collect a new sampling of the human race. As he settled back into his bed in his dream, he sat bolt upright in bed quivering in abhorrence of the images in his dream. He wondered what on earth was wrong with him.

Suddenly, a deafening pounding shook his door in its frame, and made the hinges creak. He rushed to the door and unfastened the bolts and the door swung wide. Strange men wearing trenchcoats and snap-brimmed hats walked inside and Roy gaped at them in amazement.

“Are you from the government?” Roy asked, his voice faltering and the strange men giggled with high-pitched voices. The tallest one stepped forward and removed his hat and coat to reveal…Tinky Winky! Roy gasped in horror.

“My dreams…,” he whispered. “They were real?”

“Yes,” Tinky Winky growled as he stepped forward menacingly. “We abducted you, but you survived. Your brain tissue was left intact.”

“Why?”

“The great windmill declared that we had enough data. You weren’t needed.”

“What do you want?”

“We want good ratings!” Tinky Winky said, and all four Teletubbies erupted into a fit of giggling.

“The youth of this world is being indoctrinated into accepting our eventual colonization of your planet, and the subjugation of your inferior race.”

“That’s horrible!” Roy exclaimed. Suddenly, the shortest figure stepped forward and revealed himself as Po. He angrily bobbed up and down, waving his arms and shouted, “Dammit, Tinky Winky, why don’t you just kill the poor bastard?!?”

Roy’s eyes glanced terrified from side to side, “What are you talking about?” Then, Tinky Winky reached into his coat and pulled out his magical bag. He reached inside it, whipped out his Tubbyblaster, and leveled it squarely between Roy’s eyes.

“Time for Tubby Bye-Bye,” he said as the rest of the Teletubbies took a step backwards.

“Uh-oh,” they said together. Giggling madly, Tinky Winky pulled the Tubbytrigger.

Noo Noo

I Am Not That Into Sherlock’s “The Sign of Three,” Because I Am a Monster Who Has No Heart

N.B.: This post will hypocritically complain about Sherlock spoilers while simultaneously containing Sherlock spoilers. Away with you if you haven’t seen up to the second episode of the third season.

COMMUNITY -- "Geothermal Escapism" Episode 504 -- Pictured: (l-r) Danny Pudi as Abed, Donald Glover as Troy -- (Photo by: Justin Lubin/NBC)

Before We Get to Sherlock, Let’s Talk About Community

 

Hmm, this seems like an unrelated topic. I wonder where I’m going with all this.

But hear me out: Community is a fine show, to be sure. But it’ll never work its way into my (cold, possibly absent) heart the way the best of its NBC brethren (i.e. 30 Rock) has. Why? Because it insists on being a comedy with heart, only it keeps hitting the same emotional beat over and over again. Far too many episodes boil down something threatening the friend group, and the group deciding that, yes, their friendship is more important than whatever was threatening it.

This was effective in the beginning, where there really was a transition from a randomly assembled study group to a real circle of friends. But a couple seasons in, they were still affirming their relationships. And a couple seasons after that, they still are.

Think I’m wrong? Take this season’s premiere. The Community characters are not even a study group anymore. They’re people who legitimately know each other outside of school. And yet, something threatens their friendship: Jeff manipulates the rest of the group into suing Greendale. And he almost gets away with it…until he decides that, yes, their friendship is more important than his professional success. (Have we seen this episode before?) And instead of suing the school, he convinces them all to re-enroll in it, and re-form the study group.

It just gets emotionally repetitive.

Sherlock-Bench

Now, to Complain About Sherlock a Little

 

I’m still not talking about “The Sign of Three” yet. Just go with it, because you love my roguish qualities.

I watched the previous two seasons of Sherlock on Netflix. I saw the first episode of the first season while Jesse was out of town, and decided it was so good that I’d wait for him to come back, make him watch it, and continue the season with him. The second season came and went on the BBC, and then came and went on PBS, and then finally came to Netflix, where we watched it at our leisure. At no point was I subjected to spoilers.

Sometime in between the second and third seasons, something changed. Now there are bits of Sherlock information floating around in the ether, ready to spoil me at a moment’s notice. Not only that, it seemed like everyone downloaded the episodes as soon as they hit the BBC, so I had to be worried about being spoiled for a show that hadn’t even aired in the United States yet. My choices were these:

1) Be like everyone else and download the episodes, and either watch them on a screen of sub-optimal size or on my regular TV but of the sub-optimal watching-a-web-video-on-my-TV quality.

2) Watch the episodes on PBS, and cross my fingers that a) the downloaders won’t spoil everything and b) PBS didn’t cut the episodes down, as they did the previous two seasons.

3) Wait until the season comes to Netflix, where I can once again watch the uncut episodes at my leisure. Resign myself to knowing everything that happens before I get to watch it for myself.

I went with Option No. 2, and it seems to be working out. The episodes don’t look like they’ve been shortened, and I’ve only been spoiled for minor things. But, obviously, I resent having to make the choice. We only get three Sherlock episodes a season, people. After they’re done, who knows when Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman will be available to shoot another season together? I wanted to spread the episodes out and make the season last as long as possible. Instead, I feel pressured to blow through the entire season in three weeks, and wait however long to blow through the next season in three weeks, and so on.

This is just another example of how…

Sherlock-Moriarty

Fans Are the Worst

 

I should be more specific. When creators listen to their fans, it’s the worst.

Not to go off on yet another tangent, but the big, archetypical example of this—at least around the SportsAlochol.com office—is the Veronica/Logan relationship on Veronica Mars. They’re so much more interesting apart than together, and yet fans somehow bullied the show into keeping them together for longer than was useful.

For a more relevant example, think back “The Empty Hearse,” the season premiere of Sherlock. What was the worse thing about it? If you’re like me, your answer probably has something to do with Anderson—especially his little club of people speculating about how Sherlock is alive. I’d say the worst moment was the imagined Sherlock/Moriarty kiss. It was an elbow-to-the-ribs kind of joke, and it was so, so cheesy. The club is clearly a stand-in for Sherlock fans, and the kiss was total fan service. Did that moment deserve a guffaw, a laugh, or even a chuckle? Sherlock should be better than that.

Sherlock-DrunkDeductions

Which Brings Me, Finally, to “The Sign of Three”

 

I know—I took a roundabout way of getting to the point. Kind of like Sherlock’s interminable wedding toast in “The Sign of Three.”

I’m not saying I hated the episode. All Sherlock episodes are good. I enjoyed the lighter tone of “The Sign of Three” (“the elephant in the room”), along with the clever way the seemingly unrelated cases he mentioned all came to bear at the wedding. I especially adored Sherlock’s drunken deductions. (“Egg? Chair? Sitty thing?”) My problem wasn’t even with the notion that the cases hinged on two people not feeling fatal stab wounds, though I found that kind of unbelievable.

No, my problem was with the excess of gooey emotion between Watson and Sherlock. (I know, I know: monster, no heart, etc. Send all hate mail to rob@sportsalochol.com.)

The idea that Sherlock is a damaged sociopath who is only redeemed through Watson’s love is one that should be used in the show very sparingly. In “The Sign of Three,” it was overused. So many moments were there just to make you go “awww.” We get the mushy parts of Sherlock’s Best Man toast. We get the flashback to when Watson asks Sherlock to be his Best Man, and thus affirm that Sherlock is his best friend. We get Sherlock’s heartfelt violin-playing for Watson and Mary’s first dance. We get Watson saying, “She has completely turned my life around. There are only two people who have ever done that.” (Clutch your hearts, non-monsters who still have them!) And we get the sad way Sherlock slinks out of the wedding, even though he loves to dance, because he has no one to dance with—despite the fact that people don’t really dance exclusively as couples to fast songs at weddings, and no one was dancing with Mrs. Hudson. Manufactured emotion, Sherlock!

If all of these “awww” moments weren’t enough, it all comes after a season premiere that ends with a big, cathartic speech about Watson’s feelings for Sherlock—a speech that starts with Watson saying how hard it is to talk about his feelings for Sherlock. To me, it seems like he actually can’t shut up about them.

It’s not that I’m totally disinterested in these kinds of emotional scenes. I found the end of “The Reichenbach Fall,” the last episode of the second season, to be hugely moving. Watson’s speech at Sherlock’s grave got me, man. I had Feelings-with-a-capital-F. I still do when I think about it. But I only found it so effective because scenes like that, up to that point, had been so rare throughout the series. I’m afraid I’m going to become numb to them.

That might be the goal for some people. It’s clear that, for some fans, reveling in the Watson/Sherlock relationship is the main appeal of the show. But Sherlock should resist, because giving fans what they want is the quickest way to ruin something. If Sherlock pauses every episode—possibly multiple times an episode—to reaffirm that the friendship between Watson and Sherlock is more important than whatever is threatening it (Moriarty, marriage), it’ll stop being great. It’ll be Community. (Look! All the threads came together, just like I planned from the start.)

Conclusion: The tenderness of the Watson and Sherlock relationship is like salt. A little bit of it brings out the flavor of the entire thing. Too much leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

I, Jealous: I, Frankenstein Is a Headline-Writer’s Dream

Look, I know we should be moving on from all this I, Frankenstein  nonsense—the world seems to have moved on, barely having noticed it—but none of my SportsAlcohol.com colleagues have hit upon the best thing about the movie: the headline potential.

I work in media, and sometimes it falls upon me to write headlines. I find it to be one of the hardest parts of what I do, especially since I work in print where we still (try to) use clever puns instead of Google AdWord-researched, plain-and-to-the-point keywords in our headlines. If an I, Frankenstein article came across my desk and I had to write display copy for it, I’d be giddy. There’s just so much material there.

Alas, I was not one of the privileged few who got to write an I, Frankenstein headline—hey, until now!—but here are some of the lucky ones who did, and nailed it.

There were those who used the awkward “me Tarzan, you Jane”-sounding title to their advantage.

01Title - Vulture

Vulture

02Title - MovieNation

Movie Nation

There were those who called the movie out for how monstrously bad it is.

03Monster - OnMilwaukee

On Milwaukee

There were those who pointed out its utter lack of a pulse.

04Corpse - PhillyCom

Philly.com

05Corpse - Variety

Variety

And, finally, the ones that reference other, better Franks.

06Reference - PhoenixNewTimes

Phoenix New Times

07Reference - StLouisPostDispatch

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

I bow to these writers and their headline-writing superiority. Next to them, when it comes to writing I, Frankenstein headlines: I, suck.

I, Frankenstein: A Meditation

All right, now that we’ve all seen I, Frankenstein (and read Jesse’s review) here’s a place for us to talk about it without spoiling all its twists and turns (there aren’t any) for those who haven’t seen it yet (everybody).  And anyway, I’m not here to savage the movie.  I spent the last couple of months grumbling at anybody who’d listen about what gargoyles and demons had to do with the Frankenstein story, so it’s only fair that I consider the answers the filmmakers offered.

I, Frankenstein as Adaptation:
IFrankensteinIt turns out that this epic story of the struggle between gargoyles and demons for the fate of humanity revolves around the character of Frankenstein’s Monster, a central figure in Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, Frankenstein.  In addition to his origin in this seminal science fiction novel, the creature has a long and varied cinematic history.  Even before the iconic Universal version of the story, Thomas Edison adapted the story for film.  Over the years there have been so many additions to and variations on the Frankenstein mythology that a story like I, Frankenstein ends up being a grab-bag of elements from many different Frankensteins.

I, Frankenstein‘s creature is a soulless (or is he?) creature assembled by Dr. Victor Frankenstein from parts of exhumed corpses and reanimated by the application of electricity, obtained from a tank of electric eels.  Dumped in a river by his creator, the creature returns to murder the doctor’s wife and then flees to the arctic.  Frankenstein pursues his creation, dies of exposure, and is brought back by the creature to be buried in his family’s graveyard.  After a skirmish with some demons, the creature meets the gargoyle queen and is named Adam.

Interlude On the Subject of The Creature’s Name:
In the novel, Frankenstein does not give the creature a name.  This is tied up in his rejection of his creation, and he alternately refers to it as a “fiend,” a “wretch,” and a “monster.”  In the absence of a given name, audiences generally resort to one of two other options.  The most popular is obviously to just refer to the creature as Frankenstein.  This most likely solidified in the public consciousness in the 1930s, with the popularity of the Universal film adaptation and an advertising campaign that was primarily just the title and the image of Jack Pierce’s design for the creature.  The film so successfully colonized the public’s imagination that even now, 83 years later, if you ask somebody who Frankenstein is you’re very likely to get a description of the monster with the flat top and neck bolts (drawing the pedantic ire of nerds like us everywhere).  The second most common name for the creature is Adam.  Mary Shelley is said to have referred to the creature by this name in early drafts/tellings of the story and in letters to friends.  For his own part, after reading Milton’s “Paradise Lost” (Shelley’s creature is highly intelligent and eloquent), the creature tells Frankenstein that he saw himself in the story of creation, though he identified most with Satan, saying “I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel.”  Pop culture examples of this usage include Dark Shadows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I, Frankenstein.

I confess, it’s a little hard to know just how self-aware the filmmakers were in creating their version of the story.  Their use of Adam for his name suggests some nerdish faux-fidelity, and they included the flight to the arctic from the novel.  But did they also know that when they had their doctor use electric eels in his creation process that they weren’t adapting Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein but Kenneth Branagh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein?  This creature’s design incorporates the long hair from the book (at least it does for the beginning of the movie set in the 1700s), but understandably forgoes the yellow corpse pallor and blackened lips.  He’s also an Eckhartian six-foot-something instead of an eight foot tall giant.  Now, in fairness, Dr. Frankenstein’s ambition was to create a being possessing physical beauty in proportion to his other attributes, so I guess in this movie we are to assume he succeeded (some patchwork scarring notwithstanding).  In any case, I assume that even Mary Shelley would have approved of this Dr. Frankenstein’s ab selection.

Abenstein's AbsterBut, beyond the details of their presentation of the creature, I’m interested in trying to suss out the weird way this movie interacts with some of the themes of the original story (this may get tricky, since the movie doesn’t really make much sense).

The novel tells the story of a creator who abandons his creation, appalled by what he’d wrought (as I mentioned the creature draws explicit parallels between himself and Satan in “Paradise Lost”).  The creature is lost and angry because of this abandonment and lashes out at his creator, demanding that the doctor build him a companion.  The story ends with the creator dead and his creation heading off to destroy himself in despair.  In the universe of I, Frankenstein, God is very real and his emissaries on earth take the form of a dwindling band of gargoyles.  Their mission is to combat demons disguised as human, and these demons are specifically interested in Adam because he doesn’t have a soul.  Now, by tackling this stuff head-on, I’d say that they are making a bid to be the True Spiritual Sequel to Mary Shelley’s novel.  Let’s see how they did.

Adam spends the entire movie violently opposed to the demons (I guess because they tried to kidnap him at a particularly low emotional moment) and vaguely on the side of the gargoyles (he doesn’t seem to have much use for them, and they SUCCESSFULLY kidnap him more than once, but shortly after one of the main gargoyles tries to kill him he snarls something to the demons about how the gargoyle order MUST be preserved).  So, accepting that Adam is supposed to be the novel’s Frankenstein’s monster, that means that we end the film with the creature having shifted identification from Milton’s Satan to Adam.  Indeed, after killing countless demons, his final Batman monologue is all about how he’s going to take on the gargoyles’ mission from God and protect the rest of humanity.

To Kill a Gargoyle, or Aesthetic Innovation in I, Frankenstein:
I’d like to take a moment to praise I, Frankenstein for what I think is its greatest contribution to the “Boring PG-13 Action Movie That Travesties Classic Monsters” genre.  I’m talking, of course, about the movie’s twist on the way that these kinds of movies have their monsters burst into sparks and ashes when they are killed.  Presumably taking their cues from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which had to make the deaths of their villains palatable for a television audience, the go-to move here is to have your dying monster burn or dissolve into ash.  I, Frankenstein’s leap forward in this arena is that after the demons or gargoyles burst apart, their souls take the form of fire (for the demons) or a beam of light (for the gargoyles).  These souls burst out, rush all around the room AND THEN DESCEND TO HELL OR ASCEND TO HEAVEN.  That’s right, in addition to watching a demon flake apart & scatter, you get to watch his soul burn a hole in the ground as it is taken to Hell.  This means that during the big group battles you can get some sense of how things are going by estimating the fireball/lightbeam ratio.  The effect also seems readymade for the I, Frankenstein stunt spectacular at Universal Studios Nowhere.

The movie’s depiction of Adam’s emotional journey is a little hard to follow because Eckhart spends the entire movie frowning and running in circles no matter what’s going on around him, but I think we can figure this out.  After we’ve flashed foward a couple of hundred years and picked up with Adam frowning and killing demons and running in circles in what is presumably a modern, if dystopian, world, the gargoyle queen yells at him for letting a police officer get killed by a demon during a fight.  Adam dismisses her concern over the dead man, and we are seemingly meant to take this as evidence that he lacks any connection to mankind and his war against the demons is motivated more abstractly because they tried to kidnap him before the gargoyles successfully kidnapped him.  At the end of the movie, he is willing to sacrifice himself to save man- and gargoylekind alike, presumably because he became friends with Yvonne Strahovski.  In exchange for his self-sacrifice, he is rescued from falling down into Hell by the gargoyle queen.  So in this reading, he has gone from feeling like Milton’s Satan, rejected and cast down by his creator, to feeling like Adam, a being created with a purpose and protected by God.  Which, incidentally makes it weirder to me that in his final superhero monologue he doesn’t say anything about the name Adam (which was given to him by the gargoyle queen, and would seem to align him with humanity) and instead concludes by him calling himself Frankenstein (I guess so they could call the movie I, Frankenstein).  As for the meaning of that title, your guess is as good as mine.

Scenarios That Would Have Made The Title Appropriate:

  • Taking Up The Family Business
    As the movie proceeded, I actually began to expect this one to happen.  Of course it did not.  In this scenario, Yvonne Strahovski’s character, Terra(!), would have died during the raid on the demon science compound.  After all of the demon business was resolved, Adam would have used the secrets of Dr. Frankenstein’s journal to reanimate her, forgiving his “father” for his own creation and taking the name Frankenstein himself.
  • What Goes Around Comes Around
    In this scenario, Adam has a son sometime during the course of the movie.  He abandons the kid at the end of the movie (either out of heroic “for its own good” sacrifice or because the kid is repulsive) and realizes, filled with emo self-loathing, that he’s become just like Frankenstein.
  • The Reading of the Will
    In this scenario, the movie is less about demons vs. angels, and more a legal drama about the court proceedings over the disposition of Dr. Frankenstein’s estate (naturally there is a stipulation that the heir must spend the night in Frankenstein’s castle).  In the end, the creature has to claim his creator’s name in order to be named his heir.
  • I, Frankenstein…
    In this scenario, the movie is more of a biopic, in a semi-anthology or chapter segmented format.

Prologue – “I, Frankenstein”

This is the brief recap of his creation, the death of Dr. Frankenstein, and the creature’s assumption of the name.

Chapter 1 – “I, Frankenstein, take this woman to be my lawfully wedded wife..”

This is the story of how he built and then courted his wife.

Chapter 2 – “I, Frankenstein, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States…”

In this one, he brokers the peace between the demons and gargoyles while fending off political attacks from birthers.

Chapter 3 – “I, Frankenstein, being of sound mind and body, declare this my Last Will and Testament…”

This one has him writing his will on the morning of his retirement party.

Conclusion:
Don’t go see I, Frankenstein.