Friday, January 13, 2012

An Apology

 Something to tide you over: An iconic scene featuring Omar Litte of HBO's The Wire

by Brendan Cavanagh

Dear devoted Thursay Classic Brian readers,

I sincerely apologize for my absence of a regular Thursday (sober) post, but I'll be honest, I'm addicted to a new, more potent drug. That is, I simply cannot get off the couch and draw myself away from well-written, engrossing, serialized television programs. Seriously, it's like visually consuming a great, long Dickens novel or something of the sort. I guess I should still get some recreational reading done more often, though. A list of opiate-dream programs I've viewed over Christmas Break:


Rescue Me
The Sopranos
The Wire
Downton Abbey


I'm Still Here (yeah, that obscene Joaquin Phoenix mockumentary)
The Big Sleep
The African Queen

Well, it may not seem like that long of a list to be considered an excuse for not leaving the house some nights, but the aforementioned titles are only the memorable, important programs I watched. What can I say? I like that I'm getting back into my old habit of watching excellent movies/television, even if I am voraciously watching it a little more than I should. I feel like I'm just going through a growth spurt of matriculation, or catching-up, if you will.

Tune in tomorrow, when I have more time to elaborate on this blog post.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Somehow this worked out pretty exactly. I woke up later than my mom had planned, around 11:30, bringing the hours of sleep I had gotten up to five. I then packed, showered, and hit the road. After finding out via text that Jeff, whom I'm staying with until the dorms open on Sunday, was staying home that night and I'd need to find a place to stay, I did so with great ease. Upon arrival, I learned it would be against the rules for me to drop off the majority of my luggage into my dorm room before Wednesday, when it could be done for a nominal "early arrival" fee. Well, I explained my situation, and was escorted up to my room to drop off my numerous bags. I threw together enough clothes to make it through the week, somehow didn't forget to pack a belt, and got dropped off at the apartment I would sleep in later Tuesday night. The room in which I slept was thickly dark, save for a blinds-equipped window that was at the end of a misplaced hallway that stretched back down the length of the apartment like a spine. Despite this lack of light and no alarms, be they human or mechanical, I woke up at 9 a.m., giving me time to get ready and pack up before leaving for my 11 o'clock meeting. After the meeting, I made an inaugural visit to Silver Mine Subs for lunch and played Uncharted, which is a game I like. Then I watched an episode of Breaking Bad. Somebody died in it.

There's a peculiarity to all this in that it worked. Each blind step I took landed perfectly where I wanted it to. No stumbles or stubbed toes, which is how I'm used to living. I've had ideas circulating through my head today for a number of different things: things to do with my day, sports section improvements, blog topics, etc. But the issue with circulation, of course, is that something comes to you, you have it, then you pass it on.

I lament having my winter break end early, but I enjoy returning to school, where I have infinite resources to educate and improve myself, and open eyes to potential goals I can strive for. I've been quite tired lately, and soon enough it will be time to get back into the rhythm of college life and settle in for another front-loaded effort this semester. Front loading my semesters is a habit I can't kick, though it seems like the effort lasts longer each subsequent time. Perhaps before I graduate, I'll put together a good semester and score some GPA. Jeff asked me if I wanted to join his All-A's-and-B's-but-more-A's-than-B's pact this semester. I can't remember exactly how the conversation went, but I can remember not explicitly saying yes. What a missed opportunity.

One of my writers got an internship at writing in New York on the Mets and Yankees, splitting time between the teams. Congratulations, Ethan.

Today was a rare day in which I looked forward to the future instead of feared it. Such feelings are just reminders that a new college semester is about to begin.

--Eliot Sill

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Stockholm, Sverige (That's what they call Sweden here apparently)

Right now I am sitting in my room (in Sweden) warm, dry, clean, well-fed, wearing clean clothes, with all my belongings neatly put away.

This, however, has not been the case for the majority of my time here.

I left America by way of American Airlines at 8:50 am on Sunday morning. I checked one of my suitcases and brought my backpack and my smaller suitcase onto the plane. Since I am poor I was sitting in the back and they made me board the plane in the last group. By the time I got to my seat all the luggage racks were full and I couldn't find room for my suitcase anywhere. I pretty much forced a flight attendant to help me look through the whole plane for some room which made me very popular with the other passengers. There was no room anywhere at all so they told me I could check it and pick it up in Stockholm, no charge, and proceeded to take it away.

I arrived in London at 10 pm (they're 6 hours ahead) and checked into a weird Japanese podlike hotel room that the girl I was traveling with (Laura) and I had book until 4 am. Since I didn't have my carry on suitcase, the shower was pointless and I couldn't change clothes. Instead I just sent emails. I also discovered that when my phone is out of the country it thinks it is midnight at all times so I couldn't use it as an alarm clock like I was counting on. I therefore had to rely on Laura to wake me up. Since I don't trust people this meant that I woke up about every 20 minutes for the two hours I was actually trying to sleep, panicking that we had overslept. We didn't.

I lost another hour getting into Stockholm and arrived there at 10:30 am Sunday. I then wait at the baggae claim for 10 minutes watching the same bags go around over and over as i realize mine is definitely not going to appear. The nice lady at the baggage desk informs me that they left both of my bags in London but they can deliver it to me later tonight. Fuck you Sweden. Later, as I walked out of customs, staring at the map I printed off of the KTH website, I was accosted by two guys in onsies. It turns out they were sent from KTH to direct people arriving that day. I assume they decided to wear the onsies to show us just how fun college can be!

Fast forward. I'm in my room with nothing but my computer, a useless power cord (because my converters were in my luggage) and my wallet. The room is weird and old but I have my own (tiny and very strange) bathroom so I can't complain. Down the hallway is the kitchen. I don't get the kitchen at all. There are a bunch of cabinets with locks, pans, extremely dirty stoves and microwaves, and a bunch of refrigerators full of crap. Is one of those cabinets mine? Are the pots, dishes, and silverware communal? Is any of the food communal? All these questions. I decide I won't use it until I've done a lot of observing.

Laura and I decide to go to IKEA. I tries to print out directions but somehow fucked up and we had to ask someone at the T-centralen (the central merto station in Stockholm) for directions. Luckily every single person here speaks English as well as Swedish. This also make me feel horrible about myself. As it turns out, there isn't an IKEA in Stockholm, you have to go out to the suburbs. What. How does the capital of Sweden not have an IKEA? Ridiculous. Anyway, IKEA was ridiculous and huge and confusing. I also have little grasp on the value of the currency here (Kronor). I technically know the conversion but I still spend my money like it's pretend money. Whatever.

When I got back I had an email informing me that they probably couldn't deliver my suitcase because I didn't have a phone number for them to call. Then another email saying that they canceled the delivery because I did not respond to the first email in time. At this point I want to cry. I convince Laura to lend me a converter since my computer is almost dead and then I decide to should take a taxi there immediately to pick it up myself.

To do this I had to stop a couple random people in my building complex and ask to use their phone. The agreed but told me calling a cab would be a horrible idea because of how expensive it would be. After deliberating I decided I would just take mass transit in the morning. The people I stopped then invited me to have dinner with them. Best thing to happen to me so far. Even though I was gross and tired, I spent my first night with a group of really nice people form all over the world and had my first real meal in over a day. They made me put on my ipod to see what I listened to and one Australian guy actually knew who Sleigh Bells were. Hipsters!

Today was better. I got lost on my way to my registration meeting and was a half an hour late, but the lady was very nice and explained everything again. I made it to the airport and got my bags. One had gotten ripped so they gave me a brand new bag on the spot. I unpacked everything and discovered that the previous resident had left a lot of stuff like an umbrella, cleaning supplies, bags, toilet paper, hangers, and like 30 tea lights. I even have a weird magic device that lets me make calls to the US and you can call me (217-960-1125). However, calling me is probably dumb since I won't be in my room much and it's not garunteed that I will even have it plugged in.

Tomorrow I hope to set up a local phone, man up and buy some groceries, and make it to all my meetings on time. Optimism.

Nick - A Cold Gust Of Futility

I was sitting underneath the bridge on the North side when I found it. I was drinking a half-empty flask of gin I had found in a dumpster when it came flying off the overpass, hurtling through the cold winter air.

It fell to the ground in front of me with a beautiful 'thunk'. Its metal casing gleamed in the sun. It was calling to me. The greatest opportunity a desperate, angry, and drunk homeless man could ever hope for. This was my moment.

It was a gun.

I walked over to it and picked it up. The cold steel felt somehow reassuring in my hand. I tried to check the ammunition, but I couldn't figure out how. I don't know much about guns. Probably somebody used it in a murder and tossed it off the overpass to hide the evidence. And now it was all mine.

A cheerful spring in my step, I stuffed it into my pants pocket and walked out onto the downtown streets, passing the other homeless on my way out. I briefly surveyed the crowd. I didn't exactly like any of them, but I had no hatred for them either. I expected that I can take out one person before the cops come or I run out of ammo, assuming I have any. No, my one chance would be wasted here. I have to take as much evil out of the world as I can. I look for other targets.

In front of me on the sidewalk is a businessman on his cell phone. He was wearing a nice suit; it probably cost more than I've ever owned at one time. He's talking away on his cell phone, something about cost efficiency of hiring a second editor.

Is he the one? I run my hand absent-mindedly over the weapon in my pocket. He finishes his call, and slows his walking pace. He heaves a heavy sigh, and for a brief moment the pain in his heart shines through his eyes.

No; he is not one.

My stomach is queasy from the gin; I stumble into a diner to sit down. The waitress is cheerful and polite. She asks if there is anything she can get me, but I can see that she detests the way I look and the way I smell. She thinks that I'm useless, that just because I don't have a home I also don't have a soul.

My hand instinctively reaches into my pocket again; could she be the one? Surely she's done something to deserve it. Her mere contempt for me and my situation should earn her this, at least.

I say nothing to her, but her cheerful demeanor doesn't break. She waits through my silence and then tells me to let her know if she can get me anything.

She isn't the one, either.

Somewhere out there, somebody deserves this. I have to make it count. I have to take as much evil out of the world as I can.

I walk out of the diner, and down a couple of blocks to the capitol building, where a politician (I do not know his title) is giving a speech outside, in front of a crowd of maybe a hundred people. He talks about the destruction of our neighborhoods; he says that the expansion of the homeless are ruining property value on the North side. He talks about the need for more homeless shelters.

The way he speaks makes me enraged. He wants to tuck me away in a shelter; to pretend that I don't exist. He is the one.

My dizziness escalating, I begin to push my way through the crowd to him. I push over a young journalist, I shove past a middle-aged woman, and I push over a little boy in my haste to break through the crowd.

For some reason, I turn back and happen to make eye contact with the boy. His eyes are full of tears because I have pushed him, and full of fear because of my appearance. We stare at each other for a second, and I realize: to him, I am the one. I am the worst possible person. I stop and think to myself.

I have to take as much evil out of the world as I can.

I stumble back out of the crowd, and mumble an apology to the boy. (The first thing I've said aloud all day.) I walk back to the overpass where I found the gun. I point it at myself, and pull the trigger.

It turns out there were never any bullets in it.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Robert - Picking Teams

I'm sitting at the kitchen table. Across the great room my family is having friends over. My dad sits on one side of the bar. On the other side is a thin well-dressed woman with short old hair that is silver, not gray. She and her husband appear to be rich, and they have a rich car sitting outside in the driveway. Around the bar are crowding a few other people, but my dad and the silver-haired woman are catalyzing the conversation.

The people have been drinking, and talk at the bar begins to shift dangerously toward politics. It is the silver-haired woman's fault. "I'm obsessed with The Daily Show. I would have Jon Stewart's children," she begins. To that my dad loudly rolls his eyes. He knows he's lighting a gas station cigarette, but he takes issue and expresses his disgust with the program. "I have never been able to watch that show."

The silver-haired woman continues briefly to shower the show and Jon Stewart in sexual accolades, and my dad continues to raise opposition and in turn the coming tension. "I don't think it's credible to get your news source from a comedian." The woman asks where he gets his news. He gets his from Fox News. My dad concedes that it is right-biased, and the woman agrees that it is abominable and worthless. "I think news should be completely objective and unbiased," the woman's husband says, wishing either for the moon or to be lied to. He is not a catalyst, so he fades away.

"Jon Stewart is the most fair and balanced person out there. He's brilliant," asserts the silver-haired woman, to which my dad responds bull crap. He is always leaning far to the left. Of course he is. Well there you go. But he is fair; he attacks Obama all the time. I know. Well there you go. "So what do you guys think of that Carell guy? Colbert, I mean," my dad asks. "Colbert is even more to the left than Jon Stewart!" No way. He is a character! So is Jon Stewart. No he's not. He's a comedian; what's the difference? He's making fun of his own character. I know.

Brashness on one side of the bar and lack of information on the other follows to further deteriorate the conversation into a deeper political grapple. "This is why we've never argued politics." On TV in the other corner of the great room is Sportscenter highlights. My brother is watching, and he can sense something happening around the wall. I'm sitting at the kitchen table still.

"I'll never be the way you are," my dad eventually says of the silver-haired woman's politics. There is clatter by now among the people, but the silver-haired woman is paying attention. "What am I?" she asks, quietly anticipating. My dad says nothing, but it is too late and the silver-haired woman persists. "What am I, Randy?" "You're...well, you're pretty far to the left," he says and shrugs. "I am not!" the woman says, refusing to lose any part of this conversation. Yes you are. I am not that far left. I think you are. No, even Rose is farther left than I am. Then what are you? I'm moderate to the left.

The silver-haired woman doesn't like any of the Republican candidates, from what she has learned on The Daily Show. She is dissatisfied with Obama. She does not want to vote for anyone in the coming election, and her husband agrees. You have to vote, my dad says. You only have two options. That's not true, says the silver-haired woman's husband, but my dad has a point to make. He timidly introduces, with much disclaimer, that he used to...used to listen to Rush Limbaugh every day. The woman rolls her eyes loudly and the force of the new information shuts her down for a few moments. "Rush made one good point about voting, though, that always sticks with me. He said—" "Rush didn't say anything useful ever. He was a complete waste."

It takes a few minutes for the Rush Limbaugh asteroid to settle down and move into the past. My dad also doesn't like any of the Republican candidates — "No one who is sane would" — but admits to a lack of a wealth of information on them. "Wait, so what are you?" the silver-haired woman finally asks. "I'm socially liberal and economically conservative." "Well, so you're not one of those crazy Fox News idiots, then?" "No."

Lines of demarcation were drawn. No politics were argued.

Let's All Die!

After several (thousand) seasons on the air, the hit television show Life As We Know It will be coming to an end on December 21 of this year. Despite enormous commercial success and what could be said to be the largest fan base in existence, the powers-that-be have deemed that it is no longer worth continuing. So, instead of wallowing in our grief about the seemingly unavoidable, let's recap some of those great memories this show has given us.

1. The conquest of the "world" by Alexander - King of Macedon, born with an insatiable thirst for knowledge and power, and tutored by Aristotle himself, Alexander was not lightly called "The Great". By the age of 30, he had created one of the largest empires in the world. Remember those guys that the Spartans fought in that movie 300? The one's with that huge army? Yeah, the Persians. He conquered them.The man would not be denied until he reached the "ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea". And he would have done it to, had it not been for his premature death at age 32. He had plans in place to invade Arabia when his life ended. Wanna know how it happened? He partied too hard.

2. The Pax Romana - Aaaah peace. That calm before the next storm. After Octavion kicked Marc Anthony's ass in the Battle of Actium, he decided to try and reign in the Romans insatiable lust for blood and make them more of a social-economic power. Lolz good luck with that bro.

3. The Fall of Rome - Oh yes, here we are. Remember when we were laughing at the notion of Roman peace a moment ago? Here's why. The conversion of the mighty Roman Empire into a breeding ground for politics and art. There are countless theories as to why the Empire fell, from a collapse of economy to invasion by Germanic forces, but ultimately it comes down to one reason; they got soft.

4. The Enlightenment - Aaaand they keep becoming more and more of a bunch of pansies...

5. The Reformation - Alright, they're shaking things up again! Let's see how this pans out.

6. The rise of the nation-state - Ok, so we see some factitious behavior here as everyone decides that they are enlightened enough to govern themselves. They've had enough of the old ways and wanna shake things up. The tension here is tangible. They did a really good job building suspense. I like it.

7. The United States Revolution - BOOM! Shit just got real. Fuck the powers-that-be. These colonists are FO REAL. Who saw that coming? Well...I did, but still! They built it up just enough and executed it nicely. And in all fairness, I may have seen revolution coming, but I never expected them to win. That was a bold production move.

8. The French Revolution - Ok now they're just getting lazy. Reusing the same material like that? Weak.

9. The collapse of the "old order" after World War I - Aaaaaaaw sheeeeeeeit. Here we go! Back to the good part. You could cut the tension with a knife in Europe at this point. All it took was one dude gettin' capped and everyone is out for blood. The whole world just devolved into chaos in a matter of days, and that chaos lasted years. What a stable world we live in.

10. World War II - You thought it was over? Lulz no way man! Round 2 with a vengeance, bigger and better than the first one.

11. The boring stuff after that (Epilogue) - I thought they dragged this on a bit too long after the climax of the story, and they left a lot of loose ends hanging, but overall it was pretty interesting.

All in all, this was a good show. I know there were some lulls, and the material got a bit dry and predictable at times, but let's give credit where credit is due. When you have a show run for that long, you're gonna be pressed to keep coming up with new ideas all the time. I guess that's why they decided to cancel it at long last. Although I'm inclined to agree it's the right decision, I'll be sad to see it go. Goodbye, Life As We Know It.