Those who know me well know that self-control and discipline don’t exactly rank among my strong points. One could doubtless cite the time I walked to Wal-Mart and back for one box of trash bags in order to avoid doing work (I needed those bags, by god). Others might refer to what has been termed among my circle the “Lost Night,” whereupon the coincidence of my friend’s 21st birthday and the series finale of “Lost” caused me to get a little too festive with the Jameson and, eventually, do some pretty devout praying to the porcelain god (adding insult to injury, I missed the last quarter or so of the episode, although I wouldn’t have been in much of a state to understand it anyway).
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Whichever less-than-flattering example is chosen, the point remains that moderation is something of an ongoing project for me. “Work before play” is all well and good in theory, but when you’re down here in the trenches and someone presents you with a choice between piddling your night away in the library or having a super awesome hyper-orgasmic fun time at the bar, well Holy Grossly Manipulative Phrasing, I’m gonna go get plastered! (Note: as per my capacity to take a modicum of creative license in these loosely organized rants of mine, this offer represents more of a synthesis of the basic gist of such exchanges rather than anything ever literally uttered. If someone were ever to actually offer me a “super awesome hyper-orgasmic fun time,” I’d probably whip out the can of mace I carry with me at all times on grounds of my being so damn irresistible. (Blessing and a curse, folks.)
Such temptations extend beyond the alcoholic variety, of course (you’ll have to excuse my preoccupation in recent articles, as the novelty of my legality still hasn’t quite worn off). Indeed, there is something in this world more alluring than the promise of the bottle, more intoxicating than the buzz of a million buzzes rolled into one monumental Superbuzz. Handled without care, it can and will rot your teeth straight out of your head, alienate family and friends and drive you to believe “Waterworld” was simply misunderstood.
By the time this beast is through you’re little more than a shriveled, gibbering, hygienically-challenged shell of your former self, fit for little more than standing blankly out in the middle of bustling traffic circles and occasionally flashing the goods along with the shittiest of shit-eating grins (this was my dream job as an idealistic young whipper-snapper; alas, the machine seems to have caught up with me).
The harsh mistress I refer to is, as you have surely surmised, none other than the phenomenon known as “TV on DVD.” Devised by Beelzebub himself in the early ‘00s as a means of providing me with an utterly irresistible procrastination outlet, this proliferation of full seasons for reasonable prices effectively strips any requirement of restraint from an already numbingly addictive, self-respect disintegrating medium. As in the case of the drinker who promises himself “just one,” it’s nigh-unfathomable how a single episode – just an hour or so’s diversion – spirals into a dozen and you come to with a screaming headache next to a one-eyed koala bear goes by the name of Bucky. (Yee-haw! Am I gonna get sued?).
This problem is only compounded when friends are brought into the mix. Companions in addiction will never fail to enable each other, and those enslaved by the seductive song of the season set are no exception. The current term has proven particularly treacherous in this regard, as I’ve found myself committed to several series at the same time with different groups of people, much to the detriment of an already feeble resolve to be at least passably productive. As usual, this is partly the result of being hoisted by my own petard: I made the rather self-destructive decision to introduce my roommates to “Twin Peaks.” (Tangentially, this development has also crumbled my dedication to kicking caffeine, as the main character extols the virtues of “damn fine coffee” to a borderline-fetishistic degree.) Conjoined with attempts at traversing “Lost” and “The Sopranos,” let’s just say this hasn’t been my greatest semester in terms of time management.
Naturally this ties into personal shortcomings and not some intrinsic flaw of the format. There is certainly something to be said for the absence of commercials, unless those tricky corporate pricks make it so you can’t skip the previews, as if I’m actually going to sit and watch instead of taking a pee break or something. Likewise, the ability to charge straight through a cliffhanger into the next morsel of narrative goodness is more than laudable in responsible hands. While my inner alarmist old cat lady could expound for pages on our pervasive desire for instant gratification at the expense of substance and yadda yadda, I think I’ll forego the sermon this week and acknowledge that, maybe just this once (moderation taken into consideration), a cigar might just be a cigar. Plus I’ve got a date with “The Sopranos” in half an hour so I have to finish this up somehow.
Justin Levesque can be contacted at