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;
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.
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