Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bière je t'aime

This post is not entirely about alcohol. In fact, rather little of it is. I recognize that college kids are going to drink, and I'm not going to go puritan and say "Now, children, drinking alcohol is bad for your studies." I will express a preference for generally not wanting to get drunk, and I'll act according to that preference. And thus follows one of my biggest pet peeves: people who have little to talk about except for alcohol. Lest I think this is confined only to my experience, the Onion video podcast (highly recommended) a few weeks ago reported that "80% of roommates got 'so wasted' last night."

It's common knowledge that I'm a budding wine snob, or at least I'd like to think of myself as being one. Something about the wine culture and the implied pretentiousness is just amusing to me, yet there has to be something material there if such a developed following of this beverage has existed for thousands of years. In most cases, beer just doesn't have the same sophisticate appeal. What's classier? Drinking a glass of pinot noir, or a can of Miller Lite? More importantly, which tastes better?

The problem with beer, I've come to realize, is that the floor is a lot lower. There's bad wine, to be sure. Take the 1.5 Euro bottle I drank some of over last summer. Horrible. But most wine in the "average" price range of $10-$15 is going to be at least drinkable. The "average" beer is defined less by a specific price and more by popularity--granted a popularity that probably comes from a low price. In other words, the perception of the "average wine" to most people is something along the lines of a $10 or $15 bottle--not necessarily exquisite, but no reason it can't still be delicious. And "average beer" is going to be your Budweisers, your Millers... which to me (and a lot of legitimate sophisticates) are utterly undrinkable.

There is good beer out there, though. It's just harder to find. Hofbrau, Hoegaarden, Leffe, Guinness, and how many others I first had over last summer? So enter Epsilon Upsilon, a friend's plan for a fraternity. Here's the premise: we drink the same obnoxious amounts of beer as any other fraternity, but the critical distinction is that it's good beer. Armed with $50 that may or may not have been from a Housing reimbursement from a fake program, I set off to Whole Foods and bought enough to last a couple months. And I experienced the high-class implementation of this beverage.

This got me and my roommate thinking. We're always looking for ideas for a Campus Movie Fest short film. We actually had a quite good one last year but never got it off the ground. Our latest idea is "Bière je t'aime", a film directed in pretentious foreign-film style but about frat boys drinking beer. This is an obvious reference to "Paris, je t'aime", which I've never actually seen, but I imagine to be in some sort of pretentious foreign film style of its own. We're not entirely sure whether to use English or French, but the line "Ou est le Icehouse?" has to show up at least once.

Our other idea, which I thought was quite good, is as yet untitled. It deals with camping in front of Brittain dining hall, waiting for it to open, in a parody of people camping in front of the stadium for football tickets. The characters in the film would be extremely enthusiastic so they could be the first in line to get the morning's pancakes, be disappointed because there were no bananas... and of course make bright, happy conversation with the Brittain employees.

One final over-the-top artsy fiction setting developed by me and my roommate is this one. Say, in the future, there's a way to induce limited long-term memory loss. In this state, you could remember what you ate for lunch yesterday, but not any of the significant events from your life's past. It would be turned into a game. You'd have this procedure done, be deposited in a site that you could connect to something significant, and win if you found out that significance before the procedure wore off. For instance, pretend there's a man from Atlanta who has just been married. He'd be dropped off in Atlanta, have to ask people to figure out where he was, slowly retrace some of the steps of his life, and if he found his new wife, he'd win the prize.

The idea here is that coming across certain milestone locations would trigger some of the blocked long-term memory. The house where you grew up in is the obvious choice, but also say your high school or college, the place you got married, or even something traumatic, like where you'd gotten into a fight as a kid. As the person successfully traced his way through these places, certain memories would open, leading him eventually to his current life. Significant people would have to be in on it, too... if this guy finds his brother's house, the brother is supposed to be a trigger, not say "hey, you're in this game, go to this address to win."

That's the premise. The conflict comes in when, inevitably, the process goes wrong. Maybe it fails to erase memories of itself, so when the contestant wakes up, his last memory is some people he doesn't know performing a mysterious operation on him. He then ignores his supposed goal of finding his wife and instead seeks revenge on these enigmatic people for destroying his memory. Or possibly it fails to work altogether, leaving an enterprising young man able to do whatever he wishes under the guise of memory loss. It's very Jason Bourne, except a bit more cerebral (and sadly with fewer explosions).

Currently listening: "Saint Simon", the Shins

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