Posted in Lessons by The Books Production Team on December 10, 2008


typewriter          One of the things that critics often praise most about the show Entourageis the fact that Vinnie Chase seems incredibly believable as a movie star – in large part because Adrian Grenier has never really done much else, and thus the audience doesn’t associate his previous performances with those of his fictional character.  While I understand their larger point, it must also be noted that these critics aren’t exactly correct.  I, for one, was well-aware of Vinnie Chase before he stepped foot onto the Red Carpet in Entourage’s 2004 pilot (although for a long time I kind of confused him with Heath Ledger).  You see, in addition to being a member of the L.A.-based band The Honey Brothers, Grenier starred opposite Melissa Joan Hart in the vastly underrated 1999 date-movie Drive Me Crazy, where he played Chase “Hambone” Hammond, a poorly cast nerd who gets made over into a “cool guy” in order to make the school’s basketball star jealous enough to take Sabrina the Teenaged Witch to the Centennial Dance.  (By the way, the previous four sentences lead me to three tangential points: #1 – I love the predictability of Hollywood movies, and sort of wish life operated along the same principles; #2 – I wonder if, when Doug Ellin was casting Entourage, he was at all swayed by the fact that Grenier had already successfully played one “Chase” character to perfection; and #3 – Part of Drive Me Crazy’s packaging was a nifty tie-in to the Britney Spears song “Drive Me Crazy,” whose video featured Melissa Joan Hart and Adrian Grenier doing an awkward courtship dance at a space-age Dog ‘n’ Suds, and I wonder whether the movie launched the writing of the song, or the song launched the writing of the movie.)

          Anyway, back to the point.  As all nerds do (according to Hollywood), Chase Hammond ran in a pack of three nerdy kids (think about it – Drillbit Taylor?  3 nerdy kids.  Superbad?  3 nerdy kids.), and one of the other nerds in Hambone’s posse was a guy lovingly referred to throughout the movie as “Designated Dave.”  Now, as far as the movie’s other high school students were concerned, “Designated Dave” was basically a one-trick pony – his job was to pick them up from parties after they got hammered on Jello Shots and Tequila, and for this he usually received multiple punches to the face and buckets full of vomit in his car’s back seat.  This seems like an inadequate trade-off from any logical perspective, but to paraphrase the character Eddie,  this trade-off was fair because Dave sucked – and was just doing anything he could to hang out with the “in-crowd.” Note: if this sounds like the plot of an after-school special, that’s because I’m certain that this is the plot of multiple after-school specials (it’s number three on the list of top ten topics – right behind “teenage girl gets pregnant” and “athlete experiments with steroids”).  And just like any good after-school special, one of the things that Drive Me Crazy made so very clear (by letting Dave take “Dee Vine” to the Centennial Dance) is that “Designated Dave” didn’t suck at all.  In fact, he was actually kind of cool in his own nerdy way – which is a nice message that I’d like to hammer home.  The truth of the matter is that SOBER DRIVERS ABSOLUTELY DO NOT SUCK.  At all.  Ever.  Even if when you get into their car, they make you listen to Flock of Seagulls or Jonas Brothers songs.  DRIVING DRUNK SUCKS – and it’s extremely dangerous.

          Don’t believe me?  Well, you should – because car collisions involving drunk drivers have a very real way of making everybody’s lives worse.

          Luckily, I’ve never been involved in a drunk-driving accident – but plenty of my friends have – and it’s not like I couldn’t have been involved in one during that stupid point in my past when I often just jumped into the car and tried to keep the four wheels somewhere close to the middle of the three roads that I saw.  Two of my grandfather’s brothers killed themselves in this manner, so did two girls from my high school, and at least three of my friends have wrapped their cars around a tree.  And these are good examples of why DRIVING DRUNK SUCKS.  But none of these situations is equivalent to the worst thing that can happen to you if you drive drunk.  The absolute worst thing that can happen is that you can kill somebody else – and then recover yourself.  And this is a situation that happens all too often – in large part because alcohol acts as a means of keeping the body relaxed during an accident. 

          Those of you who have been hanging around these parts for awhile have by now stumbled onto the page entitled “Pencil, Paper, Craig” – and it’s from one of Craig’s college experiences that we draw the lynchpin of today’s lesson.  Around five years ago, while Craig was an undergraduate at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, one of his fraternity brothers hopped behind the wheel of his car after a night out at the IU bars in nearby Bloomington.  At some point during the 45-minute drive home, this poor guy fell asleep, got into a wreck, and killed another driver.  Now, some of you may take offense at my calling this young driver a “poor guy” – and certainly you’re right in feeling worse for the family of the victim in this accident.  That’s natural.  But from my perspective, in a situation like this – nobody wins.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to spend time in prison for committing manslaughter, or what it would be like to return to campus after a year spent in the joint and to see people in class just staring at your ankle monitor, or what it would be like to live with the horrible guilt that must still hang around this kid’s neck like an albatross.  His life must just be Purgatory (and there’s a reason that that Bryan Adams song that got remade a few years ago into a techno-hit wasn’t called “Purgatory is a Place on Earth”).  Driving drunk, something that so many college kids (and adults) do, is like playing a game of Russian Roulette where the bullet metaphorically represents this Catholic torturous wasteland.

          Now, I’m not going to say much more here.  One of the things that I’ve vowed to stay away from at Dr. Wizard’s Advice is being overly preachy – because I’m not a licensed minister.  But it’s just a horrible mistake to not arrange for a sober driver or a cab when going out for the night, and we all owe the people out there in the world like Designated Dave a large debt of gratitude.  Right now, at a time when most of us are going to two holiday parties every weekend, let’s make sure to take our turn with an occasional night off from the boozing, so that everybody makes it home safe.  And if one of your friends volunteers to stay sober for the night, make sure to tell them thanks.  It’s so much nicer than punching them in the face.


9 Responses

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  1. MS said, on December 11, 2008 at 1:09 am

    …and no, that wasn’t the ironic slow clap, nor an allusion to VD. I’m repeatedly impressed by the way in which the Wiz is able to spin buzz-kill (pun intended) posts to deliver both the comedy and the competency. Boom!
    …also impressive, that picture of the wreaked car.
    …and EVH guitar solos (which are still captivating my attention, CS)
    …as an afterthought, were there only two nerds in Revenge of the Nerds, Robert Carradine and Anthony Edwards? Ah well, at least Lambda Lambda Lambda is a trifecta of, er well, Lambda.

  2. MS said, on December 11, 2008 at 1:10 am

    so, in the above post I put “clap, clap, clap” in brackets. Apparently that means you don’t want it to show up in the comment. Therefore, you’ll have to read this post first to understand the opening line of the above post. So it goes.

    (Clap, Clap, Clap). There we go.

  3. UVA Mike said, on December 11, 2008 at 2:46 am

    The greatest irony is that my own private version of purgatory will play only Bryan Adams songs.

  4. Greece Lightning said, on December 11, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    But my therapist tells me that punching my friends in the face is just my way of showing them that I love them…

  5. Frank said, on December 11, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    This is why it’s important to be friends with at least one straight-edge kid (but beware, sometimes they wig out if you drink coffee or dr. pepper in front of them).

  6. Sara said, on December 11, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    That lady in the red must be fucking wasted. She can’t even look at the person she is handing her keys to. It’s the one in the middle! And drinking white wine? bleh.

  7. Meghan Jansen said, on December 11, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    How in God’s Green Goodness did they possibly put together a Flock of Seagulls “Platinum and Gold” collection? Because you’ve got one song – “I Ran” – that people have heard of…and then…what??? Is it ten remixes of “I Ran”? Is it a CD single??? Who’s buying this album?

  8. MS said, on December 19, 2008 at 4:53 am

    You know who would have had more hits than a Flock of Seagulls? A Flock of (Stephen) Seagals. It would have made for one hilarious album cover too.

  9. funktifiedacoustic said, on February 4, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    Kind of like this?

    This hypothetical band, A Flock of (Stephen) Seagals, would have to make dance music because their drummer, Steve, gives that kick drum such a workout.

    Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

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