Thursday, August 17, 2006

Deadwood 8/13/06: Like a history class, only I don't fall asleep

When I was very young, my parents for some reason submitted me to IQ testing. No, this wasn't done in the hopes of getting me into an elite Manhattan pre-school. We're not *that* Jewish. Anyhow, it turned out that I was an all-around clever kid (by which I mean I tested well), but the section on memory was my stand-out: I tested at genius levels. This flicker of brilliance has been helpful in some ways (i.e. holding grudges, remembering exactly how much money someone owes me) and unfortunate in others (the crystal-clear recollections of my junior high school torment).

My Mensa-worthiness falters, however, when it comes to particular subject areas. For instance, the only thing I recall from four years of high school history classes is the phrase "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too." Just the phrase; I have no idea what it actually means. I guess I'm a sucker for alliteration. I chalk this up to the fact that I spent the majority of my time in history class doing one of the following:

* Sketching the intricate network of lines on my palm, which were far more interesting than the Spanish-Indian War (is this an actual war or am I making it up? I really don't know);
* Wondering what my formidable history teacher, Mr. Ehrman, AKA The Ehrmanator, must have been like as a child;
* Sleeping

Funny then, that my weekly Deadwood viewing should serve not only as entertainment, but as the fabulous American History lessons I never had. The shout-y, ominous Al Swearengen even serves as a stand-in Ehrmanator: I find my mind wandering back to the old photos I found of a thirty years younger Ian McShane, when he was HOT! WHAT??

Throughout the past three seasons of Deadwood, there have been frequent, contemptuous mentions of "The Pinkertons," AKA the agents of the powerful Pinkerton Agency. Clearly detrimental to working men, would-be unionists, and those who aren't shy about slitting a throat now and then, characters usually refer to the Pinkertons as "shitheels." Intrigued, and a little ashamed that the casual discussion of Pinkertons meant that I should know who they were, I did a little research on The Internets and discovered some fascinating info on the Pinkies (as I call them).

These guys had a hand in every sinister undertaking of the 1800s, including the Haymarket Square Riot and the quashing of the Molly Maguires. They were founded by a reactionary and hired out by bigwigs like Andrew Carnegie to keep the poor folk in line. And check out the Pinkerton logo at the bottom of this entry. EEEEP! Even more interesting, the Pinkerton Agency still exists today, under the auspices of another security force called SECURITAS, which sounds a little Orwellian to me. You have to wonder whether there are any Pinkertons mucking about in Iraq, eh?

All this is to say, perhaps if The Ehrmanator had begun classes by calling all the students c*cksuckers, shooting someone in the foot, and then using the shooting as a metaphor for the bloody origins of capitalism, I would remember which President authorized the dropping of the atomic bomb.

5 comments:

Jeanette said...

To be fair, if ever a teacher did come close to calling students cocksuckers and shooting them in the feet, it would be the Ehrmanator.

alannaschu said...

Or Ms. Dugan, the math teacher for section 8C at OMS. But you wouldn't know that because you were too busy sleeping with priests.

Matt said...

...remembering exactly how much money someone owes me...

Isn't that just attributable to being Jewish? :)

Funny. I too was tested as a child, once w/ electrodes on my temples. They found I had a healthy IQ but assumed, because I was quiet, that I was retarded. I was always being found out in different grades, being promoted from the "slow" group past intermediate to "fast" in one afternoon.

I'll never forget that afternoon in f-ing kindergarten when I was yanked out of the slow group in mid-session. Wish I could remember what I said to prompt that one....

One time my girlfriend and I got really high and she told me my mom told her I was actually retarded (but don't tell me that). So I believed her.

"That explains everything," I said. "That explains my car, the college I went to and that dumbass dog we adopted. Jesus."

Langlieb said...

Tippecanoe refers to William Henry Harrison, the Whig candidate for president in 1840, who would eventually win the election and die thirty days into his term from a bad cold. Tyler was his Veep.

The story brings to mind episode 43 of Sex and the City, in which...aw fuck it.

Jeanette said...

Hey everyone! Langlieb was the only person in his high school year to get a 5 on his American History advanced placement test AND a 100 on the Regents exam. I figured I would just come out and say it since Langlieb was OBVIOUSLY dying to himself.