Cleansing the doors of cinematic perception since 2006, or earlater

Saturday, October 07, 2017

BOOZE! Rate your drinking problem through these 12 progressively more harrowing movies.

There are fun movies about drunks like Nick Charles and WC Fields (which real drunks love whether or not they're sober) and there are movies ABOUT the reality of being a drunk, which drunks do not love, as they hit just too damn close to home. I'll confess, as an alcoholic ("Hi, Erich"), I've always loathed Jack Lemmon and his overwrought desperation in DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES. It's devious - director Blake Edwards + Lemmon equals, you'd think, a Billy Wilder-ish farce with Bronx-born babes in negligees staggering down hotel halls with empty ice buckets and bumping into the man from Nantucket, etc., and it's that expectation that makes it DAYS damned uncomfortable. Booze is a complex issue, so essential to higher mammalian social functions that we get positively genocidal without it. And it IS funny, I don't care what anyone says. It just helps to be on the inside of it, i.e. buzzed, to be able to laugh when things get terrifying.

Generally even non-drinkers can all be amused and a little envious of the 'high-functioning alcoholic', the rest of us either quit or die. Addiction is--in the end--a disease brought around by a combination of genetically-endorsed depression, access to alcohol and an acute awareness of its self-medicating properties. We drunks often feel cut off from the world as kids; we don't even know what we were missing until that first drink hits, the clouds part, the sun shines in color, like Dorothy waking up in Oz. How can she go back to sober sepia after that? She can't, Auntie Em. A few days of depressed Oz later and she's knocking back some corn liquor from Zeke's still (that funnel on his head in Oz clearly denotes that inside his hollow chest is fermenting sour mash), so her slippers at least glow red, but when it wears off in the heat of the next morning's chores, not only is the color gone, but the sepia tint looks muddier, the aspect ratio screwed up, the commercials endless and shrill, the evil Mrs. Gulch's dog-hating machinations that much more demoralizing. You better believe Dorothy would be tumbling back o'the shed to that still asap, soon as Auntie Em's back was turned. A few years pass and Dorothy has to go rehab, but Aunty Em can't afford it. So we all know what happens next. Everything's up to date in Kansas City, including the brothels and AA still only four years old in 1939.

Thanks be to whatever higher power you choose, the Wizard, Auntie Em, or just the Emerald City door knocker, AA is everywhere today, there's a meeting that lets out right on my walk to work. It's too early for me, but I pass it and feel jealous of their weird fellowship. Dorothy would love it there; she'd find a whole new kind of half-color Emerald awaiting her in Kansan church basements and coffee and (formerly) cigarettes. Provided the wizard remembers to give her a meeting book and a copy of Living Sober. 

But there's movies that are less metaphorical than OZ, that address booze directly, good or bad, and I've seen them all. During my slow inexorable slide towards the rubber room I've realized every step of my journey is reflected within a series of films that, held end-to-end, just might help me, you, or some sick and suffering, poor bedeviled guy on fire with thirst figure out just where he's at, how he'll know whether he should try and stop on his own, or if it's just too damn late in the game to turn around on the road to either death or the detox ward. Rather than another AA blue book quiz, to where you're at, where you've been, and where you're headed and what it's like now, come with us as we examine the cinematic alcoholic scale:

(slurring to sodden - the damage is reversible without hospitalization)

LEVEL 1. Scintillating
William Powell as Nick Charles
Dir. W.S. Van Dyke

He's who we drunks aspire to: he's able to solve crimes while hosting dinner parties and knocking back martinis; he's able to hob nob with the upper crust and knockabout with the lower dregs all in the same night without skipping his groove. Watching the entire series a few years ago on New Years' Eve (see: Notes from the Class and Alcohol Struggle in a THIN MAN Marathon), I was forced to watch even Nicky feel the weight of the world. Laid low by studio censorship-enforced boozing limits, the advent of wartime rationing, changing times, and just plain getting old, Nick was already the older generation by the time of the final entry, SONG OF THE THIN MAN, where he and Nora are regarded with bemusement by the younger beatniks, the harder they endeavored to seem 'with it' the more obvious it was that they, life, society, culture and even music, would never 'scintillate' again.

Telling Moment: SHADOW OF THE THIN MAN, Nick hears Nora shake a cocktail from across the busy NYC street where he's reading the race results to Nicky Jr., alerting him it's cocktail hour and time to come home. I can vouch from experience that almost supernatural sensory perception is no exaggeration. 

LEVEL 2 - Hilarious
W.C. Fields in Everything
"Don't think it's hard to swear off drinking. It's easy. I've done it a thousand times."
He'd crack up probably if he ever landed in a dry county but as long as he's within elbow distance of a bar or flask he's functional and fun, seldom slurring and always in control. He's the drunk we dream of being when we're ready to give up on ever being sober again. He never winds up compromised (puking or passing out) in a way that would put his boozing in a bad light. Fields' hands don't shake, in fact his dexterity and eye hand coordination remain almost supernatural. (1)

I modulate  that Fields quote above for AA meetings, as I would say no to a drink a thousand times before breakfast. After the will power involved with swearing it off the thousandth time that morning, the shakes getting exponentially worse all the while, well, who wouldn't deserve a drink? Breakfast is served. The excuse to work hastily made; the shakes abated... for now. But each morning drink is like exponentially accruing interest on a terrible debt. Sooner or later, you'll be out of booze, and excuses.

LEVEL 3: Existentially Debauched
Terence Stamp as Toby Damnit
Dir. Frederico Fellini

This is the beginning of the end, when the dark portent of death first appears, usually as a shadow of your face reflecting in the water of the toilet bowl as you dry heave, or a silent, recurring face at parties, watching you patiently in the crowd like a Poe vision, someone you're never quite able to make it across the room to talk to. They smile and evade when you confront them about it in the parking lot. Meanwhile, you start to look pale and bedraggled, still gorgeous, but moving into the zone of rock stars before they either overdose, get haggard and bloated and start canceling gigs and gradually fade away, or get sober. You can still quit without needing hospitalization, but there's no one within a square mile around you who's not an enabler. Managers, agents, fans, they all make sure you have a tumbler in your hand; they fight over who will get you ice. A horde of young girls all want to sleep with you but their neediness appalls rather than excites. How demonic and ghostly they look through your death mask haze! Ironic too, that the more horrified you become by them, the more alluring the women seem to find you, and the more demonically needy they appear. The whole mating courtship thing becomes stripped of all its magical glamor, leaving only a kind of bleached skull grin of want. 

LEVEL 4: Fallin' Apart
Robert Mitchum as J.T.
In EL DORADO  (1966)
Dir. Howard Hawks

John Wayne returns to the town where friend Robert Mitchum is sheriff when he hears he's been on a nonstop bender for a mere six months because of "a girl." Wayne and "Mississippi" (James Caan) concoct a vile mix of purgatives and stomach coaters that act as a kind of organic Antabuse to sober him up - and after a few days and a bath, old JT's as good as new. He's even ready to drink whiskey again by the coda. Oh, to be this guy again, Erich mused as he gleefully loaded it into this DVD player for the zillionth time. Alas, Erich knew his own drinking problem has advanced much farther down this list. Maybe yours hasn't yet? Quit now so you can drink again later, or drink now and have to stop forever?

Let's not forget that the main difference between all these drinkers on this list might not be self-control and will-power so much as biology and habit. If you're relatively sober most of your adult life and then something happens, like a girl who was "no good", gets off the stage, your first round-the-clock drinking bender might derail you altogether. On the other hand, most of us only get a few dozen benders before we turn into pickles as the analogy goes. And once you're a pickle, you can never be a cucumber again. Though god knows we'll keep trying.


LEVEL 5. The Shakes
Dean Martin as Dude
RIO BRAVO (1959)
Dir. Howard Hawks

With Mitchum's JT in EL DORADO, alcoholism is treated as 'redeemable' even comical, as in it's OK to drink whiskey again once the danger and initial pain of sobriety has passed. But JT's bender lasted only six months. Martin's in RIO lasted--we're told-- two years. Trading on Dino's boozer persona, Dude is seen as a master gunslinger  who was Chance's (John Wayne's) deputy until a no-good woman rode into town on the stage and left him a wreck. We find him, in the opening, creeping into back doors of saloons like a mangy dog, fishing silver dollars out of spittoons to buy enough whiskey to get him safely back into the gutter before the DTs kick in.

Note that while Dude's sobering follows a similar arc to JT's (with a bath scene played for laughs that shows a vulnerable mix of catharsis and rejuvenation), he can't really go back to drinking at the end the way JT can. Now it will take him longer to get back to normal. Maybe a beer or two, but we've all tried to "just drink beer" before. Come on Dude, don't give up. But benzos aren't invented so he has to tough it out. It's not until a sudden shift with a piece of Mexican 'death march' music plays and hips him to the cosmic cool he used to know, that suddenly he "remembers how [he] got into this thing." He's merged back into the tapestry of the Hawksian group, now his shakes are gone because they've moved into the walls, and into the knees of enemies.

LEVEL 6: the 'moment of clarity' 
Lee Marvin as Kid Shelleen

Though played for laughs, there's a very real pain in Marvin's eyes that lets you know just how bad a shape he's in. The similarity in dress to Martin in RIO BRAVO says it all. If there hadn't been a Joe Burdett issue to sober him up for (or who knows, a few weeks after the credits run), Dude might have gone back on the bottle, gone a-roaming and hiring his gun and contributing to his own legend until... there you go.

Let's face it, Marvin won the Oscar that year thanks to one great scene, because all the alcoholics laid end to end in Hollywood and the Academy would be... hilarious. They all got the dry sardonic joke: here might be the best illustration of the joys and perils of genetic alcoholism ever in any movie, comedy or drama, it's when Shelleen arrives at the ranch a hungover bleary mess, but sensing an easy mark hits up the old man for some fire water, eyeing the targets he set up to demonstrate his aim on, and the old guy realizes it, "you'd like a drink more than a kick in the head," wouldn't ya? A huge swig later and he's amazing, a dead shot, brave and true. Filling them with confidence as he fires perfectly, seems to inhabit a cool sober bravado facade (almost like he's back at level one, the Nick Charles charmer) and then finishes the pint, throws it into the air to fire at it, but misses and by the time it lands, he's toast. "I never seen a man run through a day so fast." someone says. This is about right for this dangerous level - the one right before the point of no return. And Marvin, a drinker who was no stranger to black-outs, nails it perfectly. 

LEVEL 7: Sandbags off!
Ray Milland as Don Birnim
Dir. Billy Wilder

This number is actually a bit arbitrary as Don's alcoholism runs the gamut, a kind of greatest hits, anchored as it is by two things, one being he starts the film more or less sober albeit in 'white knuckle' city and the other that he's got no money to escape his brother and his girl, who are both conspiring to get him out of the city for a week of fresh air, and know that with a twenty in his pocket he'll sneak off on a spree, and they're right. He has a bottle hanging outside the window by a string so he can pack it in his suitcase when the brother isn't looking. But the brother finds it, so--in a truly heartbreaking moment--Don has to pour it all out. Undaunted, Don fakes them out by sending the pair off on a music concert without him, so he can relax and get his 'head clear' before the train leaves, and then 'luckily,' the maid comes for her week's money, hidden in the sugar bowl. Naturally Don pockets it and tells the maid his brother forgot. And he's off! Run, Don! Run!

Renting this movie with my buddy Max back in 1991, six years before I first quit drinking, was like the creepy herald at the gas station in a horror movie. This baby had my number right down to the neighborhood and walking style. It was almost like an intervention. On the other hand, in its effort to run the gamut it fails to really vividly capture the effects of withdrawal. The theremin score is a good place to start but the dance of the empty raincoats with the bottle of rye in the pocket went on too long, like Wilder really wanted to sneak an operetta into things somewhere. And what kind of idiot drunk wouldn't have brought the rye into the concert with him? That's why pints are all thin like that, stupid!  And the thing with the mouse and bat was fine and freaky but frankly it was too singular. DTs are more fluid. You wouldn't see just one bat and one rat, you'd see hordes inside the walls, deep and spiraled, ala the paredolia amok quality of a bad acid trip That's a common problem with movies trying to duplicate hallucinations in general, though. At least they tried, though I would have loved to see the little turkeys with straw hats the dipsomaniac ward guy Bim's always talking about. And the alcoholic ward was great - nothing's quite as fun as a hospital bed where other patients are already screaming; hell, you may as well scream too! 
When it's good it's pretty good
But when it's bad it's bananas. And it's always bad.
If Don manages to get sober without medical attention it's only through the grace of God and a Good Woman. Though this time he finds the wherewithal to sneak out of Bellevue this time, if he was just one level higher, would be next to impossible. He needs an Ativan drip, but it doesn't exist yet!

Barrymore as--more or less himself--- DINNER AT EIGHT
There's no way back now without either convulsing at home and maybe dying from withdrawal, or going to a nice sanitarium, detox, rehab or hospital. But in the meantime, enjoy the calm after the horrendous breakwaters. Now there's no sense struggling against the current. You're so far out to sea you don't know which way to paddle anyway. You're fucked, my friend, but for the moment you're also free. 

LEVEL 8: Scintillating Mach 2
John Mahoney as W.P. Mayhew
Dir. Coen Bros.

A southern gentleman clearly modeled on Faulkner, a man who also spent some time puking in the bathrooms of the big movie studios and having writer bungalow DTs. The Coens get all that stuff right and we all wish for (or maybe were lucky enough once to have) a Judy Davis to trail after us like a combination stenographer-nursemaid-drink pourer/enabler. At the same time we see the comfy hell that such a place as Hollywood in its Golden Age really was, a juggernaut machine so vast and ever-moving that as a writer you could be unwittingly working on the script of someone else's dream the next bungalow over and not even know they're there, rewriting each other's work to fit the mercurial mood of hack directors too drunk to tell which end of the camera is up. Then again, when you're this far gone, the space between being too drunk to move and too sober to sit still is ever-shrinking. In other words, this is where most great Hollywood writers and actors orbit. Any farther and they're stuck in the drain's inescapable vortex; here at least they are in orbit, like the doomed vessel in Poe's "Descent into the Maelstrom" they achieve a fixed orbit around the lip of the whirlpool. It's dependent of the loyalty of their enabling girlfriend--or-assistant-or-both of course, who keeps them spinning like a magic show plate. Sure it will crack when it hits the floor - and it will--but in the meantime, there's a certain tranquility in surrender. It;s the moment of clarity that comes when the horizon line of the shore disappears, and it no longer makes sense to struggle against the current. Just float all the way to China.

LEVEL 9: Existentially Debauched Mach 2
Albert Finney as The Consul
Dir. John Huston

"I must drink desperately to regain my balance."

We can all hope we never get stuck with a houseboy as creepy as callow Hugh, the younger brother and adulterer, patiently plying his rival with 'cures' for alcoholism like a regicidal lover creeping through the royal garden with his poison earwax candle. We're too drunk to resist. We're past those breakwaters now (see level 8), so now on it will be very hard to get along without an enabler or helper, someone to come home from work with 'the shopping' i.e. new bottles (it's not like we can drive, or walk, or even dial a phone, to get some on our own). It might be easier in a place like Mexico, where public drunkenness is so common it's unnoticed, and you can always find a handy beggar child to lean on or to fetch you un cerveza or bottle of tequila while you luxuriate amidst the white chickens. I can't say for sure, but I do have experience with this level, and dig how, when Yvonne, his estranged wife, suddenly appears out of the morning mist, after being gone for years, and he dismisses her as an hallucination, barely making eye contact as he rhapsodizes, on and on to the empty air. Is Yvonne even really there? I am not sure from what I read of the book that she is, but Huston does have his most success in that meter anyway, the interiority of a man with alcohol and ego problems.

If a lot of Yvonne's ephemerality doesn't survive the trip to film, the impossibility of returning to normal, of sobering up and being able to make love to his hot wife again, is made all the more painful by his utter dependency on good old Hugh. Both Yvonne and Huge have to dress him like an infant after he naughtily runs through the shower. It would have probably been more enjoyable had someone like Burton played the part, but Finney certainly does have the breadth and depth and booze seems to emanate from his pores in the hot Mexican sun. Watching him oscillate in a fluid motion between pathetic and absurdist, triumphant and pleading, bitter and humble, celebratory and shitfaced, adventurous and craven, fuming with suicidal self-loathing, constantly turning his conversation into glazed-eyed monologues and rationalizations, boast, defeats, petty hollering, is to feel both a lysergic tang in the saliva gland and a brutal chill to the bones - here but for the grace of god, bitchez. 

LEVEL 10 - Crackin' Up
Jack Lemmon as Joe Clay
Dir. Blake Edwards

I used to hate this movie on principle, but a recent viewing (in the wake of my February relapse) showed me I was just scared of the neurotic intensity Lemmon brings, and the weird way the combination of Edwards directing and Lemmon seems to indicate this should be a wacky comedy. It is, it's just a terrifying, gut-wrenching, humorless one. Lemmon ably captures the staggering sideways mix of befuddlement and desperation that comes with latter stage alcoholism - when you're too fucked up to walk or talk or think but at the same time are about to go into convulsions from withdrawal - it's a terrible combination. The only way to stop the horror of the moment is to postpone it by more drinking, which since you won't remember it anyway never seems to happen, (you just black out and wake up in an even worse condition). The more booze you have the more blank space, is all it is, like a pause button on the alarm clock in the morning. Sooner or later the booze is gone, the pause goes off automatically, and the pain resumes, only more so. Now you're late. All booze does is make it later and later- and when you wake up screaming it might be the time you're out of booze. Now the only way you can keep going is if you get a loyal servant, spouse or enabler who won't go all Baby Jane on you in your hours of helplessness.

Lemmon does a pretty great stagger through the campsite trying to find some booze. The desperation with which he breaks into the liquor store is a little trite - no good drunk would be that unused to that level of desperation. Or so I thought. There's a window into a real estate office adjacent to my apartment with two bottles of champagne within grabbing distance. Just smashing the glass and grabbing them seemed easier to my shattered brain than going down the street to the grocery store to get beer, a trip that involved so many steps and exchanges I was terrified of falling over, flipping out, passing out in the dairy aisle, or winding up arrested for public intoxication, then cracking up in a holding cell or hospital. But punching my hand through the window of a real estate office? No sweat.

Still, now I avoid DAYS like my life depends on me, because Lemmon's manic desperation is so vivid and intense it chills my blood for days afterwards. I feel the same thing under my crawling skin when I see the shattered eyes of Sinatra in jail in THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM as he watches a fellow junky (who's been there longer) enter the throes of withdrawal. If I think about taking a drink now, and follow it through to its logical end, I know the end is here. I hope.

LEVEL 11: Last Call (Scintillating Mach 3)
Nicolas Cage as Ben
Dir. Mike Figgis

This is it, last stop on the line. There's no way out from here that doesn't involve the detox ward or the morgue, maybe even both. "I came to Vegas to drink myself to death," notes Ben to his last days lover Sera (Elizabeth Shue). Their doomed love affair is so touching, and Cage's performance is so raw and electric, seeing this in the theater with my girlfriend, I came home and starting pounding whiskey like he did for the next several weeks, my girlfriend no longer trying to stop me, for she got the heroism of the 'non-interference' policy.

At the time Ben's decision seemed very strange to me, but my drinking was still safely at level four, the Toby Dammit stage. But now I get it. Stopping drinking at these advanced stages of boozing is a nightmare. The best way I can describe it is via the hangover. Most of us, even the worst drunks in our beginner phases, we drink a bunch of water, down a bacon egg and cheese on a roll with a coffee when we get to work, and by the end of the day we're more or less back to normal, or at least marginally better. We might still feel like shit, but we're better. At the Ben stage, it's reversed, and there's no limit: if that was Ben, by 5 PM he'd be in convulsions, or at least shaking insanely (St. Vitus dance!). The hangover actually gets exponentially worse the longer he's awake and sober, like some unseen hand is slowly turning up a massive feedback volume knob until his whole body is vibrating apart.

At this stage your life becomes purely a series of black-outs punctuated by miserable stretches between waking up and getting enough fresh alcohol into you to stop the shakes and vomiting. Which after a few days of continual bender is harder than it seems. You wind up so messed up you can't even call for a liquor store delivery, can't even find your pants to go get more and the liquor store is literally right next door or across the street. I guess you would shit your pants if you had any solids in your system. Trying to make it back upstairs without falling down and convulsing on the street, getting hit by a car, or passing out and waking up handcuffed to hospital gurney is as daunting as brain surgery on a galloping horse. Just getting a shoe on can cause all sorts of vertigo and panic. Finding another one to match is like a needle in a field of haystacks.

And what's the reward if you make it to the store and back to your apartment without incident? Bliss, for an hour or so, followed by some period of dead unconsciousness, usually waking up to find your glasses are missing and you've broken at least two things in your fall, including maybe your face, or the coffee table. Sleeping with your head on the cold tile floor, gasping like a dying fish for hour after hour, hangover slowly getting more intense as the days click by. A single bite of toast takes hours of dry heaving.  These interminable epochs of intense misery are what you remember, what stays etched into your soul deeper than a recording stylus made of wolverine claw. The 'good parts' are all just empty black-out - a few dim moments of unconnected bliss.


LEVEL12:  Destroyer of Worlds
Clint Eastwood as William Munney, i.e. America
Dir. Clint Eastwood

Sometimes there's a man gets healed by the love of a good woman or the lord. Sometimes she dies and then some brutalizin' sheriff takes umbrage with your hired gun vengeance, or you just wind up trapped with your drunk brother's drunk girlfriend's drunk family over Xmas and can't find that emergency Xanax - did one of those kids steal it? The nightmare finally swamps your raft and you sink. So William Munny is sober 20 years but is talked into taking on a job killin' some guys what cut up a whore, or something, and when the brutalizin' sheriff beats up Will's buddy to unto death, Munny relapses and it's like Popeye eating some PCP-laced spinach which is what it's like, really, when you relapse. Hell follows with him and he kills everyone in the bar. "I've always been lucky when it comes to killin'" he explains, and Eastwood makes sure we get the US flag waving behind him in the flames, for Munny is, in his 'luck' with killing and his terrible addictions, America. And when I too fell off the wagon after almost 20 years earlier this year, wasn't I, too, America?

This level is, incidentally, not the 'next' in line from the LEAVING LAS VEGAS category above. The next in line is seldom capture in film because there is nothing afterwards except degraded madness..

Like Munny I had a 20 year itch moment this past Christmas, trapped like a cat in a sack for hour after hour with a loud drunken family, something I can't abide when not drunk myself. Day after day of misery until the final surrender, watching SUICIDE SQUAD with the boys on Xmas Day and pounding down enough vodka it was like tripping after all these years, the warm fuzzy courage filling my sails like the sudden taste of freedom after 20 years in a 10x10 concrete cell. But six weeks of my progressively more belabored attempts at moderation and sobriety later, boom, there I am, slipping from level 1 all the way down to here in about as many weeks. Who can judge but those who know?

That's why AA is there. Because when you're suffering it, there's nothing fun about it - it's only later, in hindsight, it seems heroic, romantic, even courageous, bitterly hilarious. If you live through it without winding up strapped down to a gurney screaming your head off as the minutes click down to your next Atavan booster, then kudos. If you don't, how will the rest of us know if you're lucky? For those of us on the outside, the long road back to 'normal is long, thorny and often without joy, or hope.

But fear not! There's a meeting near you, or close enough: so check Alcoholics Anonymous online, and don't worry about whether it's a cult or not. Anyone who tries to make it one, or gets culty on you, is not AA-approved, no matter what they say. No one 'represents' AA beyond what's laid out in the literature vis-a-vis the steps. Don't trust the ones who try and go beyond that. Fire pushy sponsors who try to micro-manage your sobriety or take over your life. Just go to meetings and listen, and blah blah, women with the women, Are we not men!? 'Hiccup!' Never let them push you into something you don't want to do, or take advantage of your weakness .'Hiccup!' Never let them push you into something you don't want to do. I just said that. But be sure you're not wanting to do it isn't fear of facing the truth within yourself. It works if you work it, though! The happy ending to this post is only ever granted one day at a time. Ain't we lucky we got 'em, for now?

1. There was a study in Sweden comparing children of alcoholics with those of non-alcoholics - their eye hand coordination was studied both before and after consuming a shot of whiskey. The non-alcoholic kids lost coordination but the alcoholic ones gained it. It was like they switched places. I learned it in class, but can't remember where... you know why :)


  1. Wonderful piece. I guess I need to add, for the record, that I'm not a drinker.

  2. I'm glad to hear that you were able to get back off the horse. Been there, Pal. Reading this entry, I was thinking how these archetypes and characters would line up with chess pieces. But then, even the Kings are pawns. I appreciate the inner demon's instructional monologue, Break the window, steal the champagne... It's just so much easier than walking down there and dealing with people... I think my alcoholism/addiction is indeed a separate, schizophrenic shadow of my well intentioned self, acting all helpful and then reeling me in, telling me to tell myself how worthless I am - and maybe I am, but I will make those evaluations with a clear head, thank you. Nine years for me, but it's not a nine year victory or accomplishment, it's a daily tic mark on my cell walls. Thing is, I'd still be in the cell if I didn't have anything to make tic marks about, only it would not be as airy as the one I'm in. (beaten metaphor, anyone?) Wondering if you saw Kingsman 2? Those movies are so subversive. The villains in both have good long term intentions, and they are only villains because they seize their skills to save the world. Then the Secret Governments have to spoil it. They never want to own the world, they want to free it.


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