Archive for January 5th, 2011

This Day in Revisionist History

January 5

“Obviously I wouldn’t have done it, but dude, how the f*ck was I supposed to know what drawing and quartering meant?” – a panicked Robert-Francois Damiens replying to his friend Pierre, after being asked why he had tried to kill the king at the risk of so cruel a punishment.

Regicide had always been a very serious crime, and Louis XV a very petty king. And so, in the age in which our unfortunate subject lived, it had been affirmed that the penalty for killing or even attempting to kill the king would be more than a simple hanging. The French parliament had decided that anyone who threatened the king’s life would be killed by “drawing and quartering.” Though parliament did not invent the method, it revived it in a manner of sorts, as no one had committed regicide in nearly 150 years and therefore such a punishment was neither commonly practiced nor widely known throughout France. Several historians attribute the longevity of this punishment to the greater lack of knowledge, positing that the people of France would have almost assuredly opposed the disemboweling and dismemberment of their fellow countrymen. Continue reading

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Got a Secret? About Monday Night’s “Pretty Little Liars”

I tell you: Five months has never felt so long. You’re telling me I experienced every undulation of that Giants’ season since the last episode of Pretty Little Liars? That the Republican wave hadn’t happened yet? That Vanessa Hudgens, Taylor Swift, Scarlett Johanson and Mila Kunis were all still together (with boyfriends/husbands, not each other) then?*

*I’ve got plenty of shoulders if you need ’em, ladies.

The distance between August 10 and January 4 (I saw it a day late…deal) melted away in those as-promised-by-Ashley-Benson thrilling first two minutes, which recapped the first ten episodes of the show—the finest non-divinely inspired Decalogue ever produced. Instantly, I remembered all about Camp Mona, glamping, and the Blowout Bar. The Twin Peaks connections made in the finale. That fantastic studying-for-the-SATs scene. Every scene that took place in the dark. And, of course, that another television character got hit by a car.

Most of all, those two minutes reminded me of summer, of laidback days watching Pretty Little Liars and tense nights debating its cultural merits and significance to the American zeitgeist. I know, it seems so long ago and so difficult to capture in these brutal winter months, but it is my job, nay, duty to try.

Let’s cite the deliciousness of “Moments Later”:

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