Despite my best efforts, the audience for HBO's Game of Thrones continues to grow. Over the past two seasons, I've done my best to shame all responsible adults into rethinking their attachment to this faux-medieval malarkey, first here and then here. But to no avail. As season three begins this week, "Thronies" show no sign of relenting in their effort to further imperil an already moronic culture with even more toxic levels of regressive fantasizing.
I can only make one final attempt to convince Game of Thrones fans to cease and desist before it is too late. Below are actual case histories, gathered from regional press coverage and psychiatric journals, that demonstrate just what a terrible influence Game of Thrones is having on the culture at large. After reviewing these true accounts of the series' harmful impact on its viewers, it is my sincere hope that all people of taste and intelligence will stand together to wipe out the scourge of "fantasy"--in print, on film, on TV--once and for all. Thank you.
1. Roy Tolcheck (42) Tampa Bay, Florida
Co-workers first began to worry about Roy Tolcheck when he brought in the "diorama."
|Barbie's severed head.|
When HR manager Ken Bakerson asked Roy about the display, he explained that it depicted a key scene from his favorite TV show, HBO's Game of Thrones. "A place where they have honor," Roy added, "not like here at Terra Mock and Grovel."
Bakerson asked Tolcheck to remove the display by the end of the day and to also refrain from calling the company "Mock and Grovel."
"Roy took an early lunch," remembers Vallens, "and when he got back, everyone acted like nothing had happened. Still, we were concerned."
Two weeks later Roy brought in another diorama. "This time it was two Barbie dolls wearing only fur vests, really going to town on each other," remembers Vallens. "He had them on this chunk of foam rubber that he had cut and painted to look like a giant slab of rock, and there were these little maces and jousting javelins on the floor under them."
Bakerson was less patient during their second confrontation. "I told him to 'cut the shit.' You know this isn't appropriate in an office environment. What the hell is wrong with you?"
Tolcheck agreed to remove the offensive display immediately, but oddly, he first circulated through the office demanding that his co-workers stroke the little fur vests on the two Barbie dolls. "They were very soft and realistic," recalls data processor Gus Zeitman. "He seemed really proud of the craftsmanship."
In the days that followed, Bakerson began the necessary paper work for a formal reprimand and possible dismissal. But in the end there was no need. After Tolchek missed an entire week of work without notifying his employer, Bakerson called the police to check on their troubled employee.
They found Tolchek dead at the bottom of the staircase in his condo, his neck cut at the jugular vein.
"We thought for sure it was a suicide," said Detective Harry Coupland, the first investigator on the scene. "But in the end the coroner ruled it an accident."
"Mr. Tolcheck had apparently been running down the stairs in some homemade medieval pantaloons when he tripped and landed on his broadsword. He was knocked unconscious by the fall and bled out on the carpet."
Finding Tocheck's exsanguinated body was disturbing, certainly, but even this did not prepare authorities for the weird spectacle in Tolcheck's basement.
Authorities found nine small animal cages stacked in three rows of three against the back wall of the basement. At the top of the cages, Tolcheck had fashioned his own crude coat-of-arms cut from balsa wood with the motto Ludus Thronis ("Game of Thrones" in Latin) written in red magic-marker.
By the time authorities arrived, only two animals remained on Tolcheck's "Death Row." A corpulent raccoon dozed in a cage affixed with a note card reading, "Judged guilty for repeated and wanton mischief in the Kingdom's trash cans." Inside another cage was a shoebox, taped shut and punched with air holes. Inside the box was a small field mouse, condemned for "pillaging the Kingdom's last box of Devil Dogs."
"It was a pretty weird sight," Coupland recalls. "And then we found the tannery."
In the back of the basement, Tolcheck had been drying several cat and dog pelts--the apparent source of the realistic detail in his dioramas.
"In a way it's fortunate he stopped himself before we had to stop him," reflected the Detective. "Nut jobs like that almost always escalate to hunting and killing humans. I blame Game of Thrones."
Krissy Ronson (15) Yazoo City, Mississippi
Sitting in the shadows of her kitchen in Yazoo City, Mississippi, Angela Ronson is crying. Her daughter, Krissy, has been missing for three months, and with each passing day her return seems more and more unlikely.
"If we could go back in time, I'd make sure Krissy never saw a second of that goddamn show," sobs Mrs. Ronson. That "goddam show" is Games of Thrones, the HBO series Ronson blames for turning her impressionable daughter into a witch, perhaps even a thrall of Satan.
"My husband and I didn't really think it through when we let her watch the show with us. At first we couldn't even tell if she understood it, but by the second season some dark force had obviously come over her. It's all she talked about."
Krissy's love of Game of Thrones proved to be a gateway to an interest in magic, witchcraft, and other forms of mystical horseshit. On the night of Krissy's 13th birthday, the Ronsons found an old suitcase under Krissy's bed. "It was full of tarot cards and books on Wicca," remembers Mrs. Ronson. "Her father made her throw it all out--He wouldn't abide any devil stuff in the house."
But this only made Krissy pursue her occult interests in private. Through the fall of 2012, relations in the Ronson family became increasingly strained as Krissy worked to perfect her "white magic."
"I can conjure a unicorn," she announced one morning at breakfast. "After she left for school, her father and I just sat down and cried for an hour," Mrs. Ronson remembers.
|Mr. Ronson's photo of the backyard pentagram.|
What the Ronsons saw was a pentagram burning in their grass. In the middle, mysteriously untouched by the flames, was Krissy's backpack-- still full of her magic books and witchy totems.
But Krissy was nowhere to be seen. She has not been seen since.
Mr. Ronson believes he knows where she is. "She's with Lucifer now, the dark Lord. And we'll never see her again...all because of that stupid TV show where everyone talks in old-timey English about bullshit that never happened anyway."
A broken man, Mr. Ronson pauses beneath the tree where Krissy disappeared. "We should have made her watch Mad Men instead. Worst thing there she's giving hand jobs to strangers at the movie theater...but at least she'd still be alive."
In the kitchen, Angela Ronson bursts into tears once more.
Colby Gunderson (22) Kenosha, Wisconsin
The "summer of thrones" had been magical for Colby and his new girlfriend Chelsea, at least for the first few weeks.
They met on Memorial Day at Six Flags Great America, both standing in line to buy cotton candy for their little sisters. Five hours later, at closing time, Chelsea invited Colby to drive up to her parent's house in Peewaukee that weekend to start watching Game of Thrones.
Chelsea loved Game of Thrones and knew Colby would love it too. The plan was to watch two episodes each Saturday until they were both ready for the third season in 2013. They decided 8pm Saturday would be their standing Thrones "date night," enough time for Chelsea to freshen up after her shift at the Waukesha Taco Bell and for Colby to drive up from his auto-detailing job in Kenosha.
|Inadvertently soaked in motor oil.|
By the beginning of August, however, Colby sensed something was wrong. Chelsea seemed distant, almost embarrassed to have Colby showing up on her doorstep each Saturday night. Colby sensed it was because Chelsea was already thinking of the fall when she'd return to the UW-Green Bay for her sophomore year.
"Gotta do something big," Chuck told him one night, flushing out an engine block in the Gunderson back yard. "College girl like that. Soon as she's back up in Green Bay, she'll dump you for sure unless you do something real big. Got to give her a reason to remember you."
Driving back to Kenosha after a particularly awkward Thrones double-feature, Colby had an epiphany.
He would give her a dragon.
Colby's first attempt at a dragon was a complete disaster. Taking his own good idea a little too literally, he had convinced himself that an iguana might provide a suitable foundation for the mythical flying lizard. With a little latex and paint, he reasoned, he could fashion some fairly convincing dragon wings. But a trip to the Pet World in nearby Gurnee Mills put an end to that plan.
"Iguanas are like two hundred bucks," Colby recalls.
|The Gecko: a cheaper lizard than the Iguana.|
"They were pretty good. I made a frame and a little harness out of pipe cleaners and then stretched some green latex over them. The little bastard could wriggle out of it in a couple minutes, but for a little while he really looked like a dragon--and that's all I needed."
Saturday, August 11: Colby is on the Interstate heading to Peewaukee, his "dragon" in a small cigar box on the passenger seat. But tragedy strikes when he stops at a Shell station on the south side of Milwaukee.
"I left a Gatorade bottle on top of the box, but I guess he found a way out while I was pumping gas. When I came back from the cashier, I saw him darting across the concrete and into the weeds."
Inside the car, only the bent pipe-cleaners remained.
"I felt bummed for the little guy. I remember thinking if somebody didn't find him quick, there's no way he was going to make it through the winter."
That night's Throne date was even worse than the week before. Not only did Chelsea seem distant, she also started taking about "Ryan."
Colby remembers the evening bitterly. "Ryan was some dude in her graphic design class. Suddenly she's telling me how talented Ryan is, and how funny Ryan is, and on and on. Like I need to drive ninety minutes round trip to hear how fucking great this Ryan asshole is."
Colby knew he only had one chance left.
|Colby in costume, just before driving to Waukesha|
The plan: Colby, dressed as a dragon, would surprise Chelsea at the end of her shift at Taco Bell.
After making sure Chelsea was working the drive-thru window, Chuck and Colby would drive up to the menu. As Chuck placed a fake order, Colby would get out of the car and prepare his costume.
"I didn't really have time to make a special dragon suit," remembers Colby. "So I just rented this Godzilla Halloween costume instead."
Saturday, August 18, 2012: The plan is proceeding perfectly. With the decoy Nachos Belle Grande ordered, Colby exits from the passenger side and makes his way to the drive-thru window.
He stops briefly to prepare a final detail. Inside his dragon head is a small section of quarter-inch PVC piping. Colby inserts a dollop of paraffin into the pipe opening and flicks his lighter.
This dragon will breathe fire.
But something goes wrong, horribly wrong.
"I meant to shoot the fire from my mouth before Chelsea opened the window," Colby recalls. "But for some reason it took a while to ignite. So just when Chelsea swings the window open, whoosh!"
Luckily, the flames miss Chelsea. Colby also remains uninjured from the mishap.
But the errant flame arcs across the kitchen and ignites a leaky pilot light on one of the Taco Bell stoves. Soon a nearby closet used to store paper napkins and burrito wrappers is engulfed in flames. Patrons flee as the building becomes a raging conflagration.
Three months later, Colby and his brother Chuck sit in their back yard nursing a couple of beers.
"At least no one got hurt," Colby says, his head hung low. "But the Taco Bell was a total loss. And I'm getting sued by Pepsico, so there's that."
"I told you not to blow through the tube so hard," his brother adds.
"Go fuck yourself, Chuck," says Colby.
"'Summer of thrones,'" he adds, almost in a whisper. "I am such an idiot."
|August 18, 2012: The Waukesha Taco Bell burns to the ground, ignited by a man pretending to be a dragon.|
After Lauren told me I was “boring,” not once, not twice, but THREE times, I was pretty devastated. Dumping me is one thing. I’ve been dumped before and I’ll probably be dumped again. But to be called “boring” not once, not twice, but THREE times at dinner was really a bit much, even for Lauren, who now that I look back on it really is a first-class bitch. Hear that Lauren? You’re a bitch…a bitch…a BITCH!
|Lauren dumping me.|
I guess I should have seen it coming. I’m not sure why Lauren and I were even dating in the first place. Sometimes I think she misheard me when we made our first date. We met at this club in midtown and she asked me where I worked. I said “Golden Jacks,” which is this sports bar I own in Trenton. But after we broke up, my friend Jason said she probably misheard me and thought I worked at Goldman Sachs. That would make sense, because later on when I took her to see Golden Jacks she seemed horrified, like everything and everyone in the place was caked in shit or something.
|The night before the wedding: Mulcahy, Potter, and Klinger|
The next day, a despondent O'Reilly wandered into a nearby pharmacy determined to purchase the items necessary to commit suicide that night in his now abandoned honeymoon suite. He would later say his life was saved that day by an ebullient cashier who, suspicious of O'Reilly's purchases, got the troubled young man to confess his worries and to promise that he wouldn't do anything "foolish."
O'Reilly ended up staying in St. Louis for just over a year, moving in with his cousin Wendell Micklejohn and taking a job, somewhat unexpectedly, as a beat cop for the St. Louis police. While O'Reilly's soft-spoken manner proved valuable in defusing some early domestic disputes, it soon became clear that Radar--who now preferred to be called by his given name, Walter--was simply not up to the task of patrolling the more rough and tumble working-class neighborhoods of the River City. When a drunk dockworker broke Walter's hand for issuing him a littering violation, O'Reilly and his sergeant agreed it would be best for the young man to find another line of work.
An encouraging phone call from Potter inspired O'Reilly, a former high school drop out, to continue his education through the G.I. Bill. Potter challenged O'Reilly to determine what he was good at, what he loved doing the most, and to then follow that passion come hell or high water. Pondering these questions, Radar remembered how as a kid in Ottumwa he had once designed and built a doghouse for the widow Hanley. It was one of his fondest childhood memories, and he remembered also that he had enjoyed drawing up the plans for the doghouse even more than the actual construction. Maybe that was his "aptitude," he thought. And so it was that Walter O'Reilly enrolled for two courses in technical drawing set to begin in the fall of 1956.
The Sunday before classes were to start, Walter walked over to a large "five and dime" store near the Illinois border. There he bought all the supplies he thought he would need to be a good student of "technical drawing"--compass, protractor, ruler, and a beautiful set of hard and soft-leaded pencils coated in dark-green enamel. He carried his kit back to the apartment and laid all the items out on the kitchen table, imagining the various projects they might one day bring to life. For a moment he thought he might even sharpen one of the pencils and start practicing by drawing something--another doghouse, perhaps. But in the end he thought it best to wait for official instructions in the morning's first class.
That's when he got the phone call. Sherman T. Potter was dead. There had been an accident of some kind at the Kiwanis Labor Day picnic. His old friend Klinger had all the details. Some kids were horsing around with some lighter fluid. There was an explosion and fire. Potter had apparently survived the blast itself, but suffered a heart attack while en route to the hospital. There would be a funeral in a couple of days. Klinger and Mulcahy hoped Radar might say a few words.
But O'Reilly was no longer listening. He silently hung up the phone and then spent the rest of the night sitting in the kitchen alone, staring blankly at the neat rows of green pencils still fanned out on the table.
|St Louis Greyhound Depot|
There he looked up his one remaining friend from high school, Johnny McDougall. McDougall's "flat feet" kept him out of Korea, and he had spent the war years opening three hamburger joints in the Quad Cities. O'Reilly had remembered that McDougall once extended an open invitation to come visit when he got back stateside, and now seemed as good a time as any.
Luckily for O'Reilly, a trucking company in Kansas City had just rerouted its Chicago shipments to cross the river at Davenport. With the extra traffic moving through town, McDougall thought he might keep the location by the bridge open 24-hours. To make it work, though, he would have to keep costs at a bare minimum. In short, McDougall needed a trustworthy jack-of-all-trades and O'Reilly needed a job. The timing couldn't have been better, and so on October 3rd, 1956, Walter O'Reilly became the lone waiter, cook, and janitor for the graveyard shift at "McDougall's Butter Burger #2." McDougall even bought a new wood-burning furnace for the two-room shack at the back of the property, and reconnected the water line so Radar could live rent-free only 50 yards from his new job.
It was during this period that O'Reilly's celebrated powers of ESP began to return, so much so that he once again allowed himself to go by his wartime moniker of "Radar." Much like in Korea, Radar developed an uncanny knack to anticipate when regular customers were just about ten to fifteen minutes away on the state highway. Truckers on the K.C./Chicago run often pulled into McDougall's only to find their specific order already waiting for them on the counter, cooked to order and piping hot. Jim McTallins, a flatbed driver working out of Sioux City, swore that on one trip Radar not only had his usual double cheeseburger waiting for him when he pulled into the lot at 2 am, but that Radar had even skipped his usual side-order of fried onions--somehow intuiting that McTallins' doctor had told him the week before to cut them out of his diet! "I just had a hunch," O'Reilly told the astonished rig jockey.
By all appearances, O'Reilly led a fairly stable life for the next five years. He pulled his six shifts at McDougall's each week, where the organizational skills he learned in Korean allowed him to introduce a number of cost-saving measures for his boss. McDougall was so impressed, in fact, that he offered to promote O'Reilly to the manager position at Butter Burger #1--the flagship "family style" location on Main Street. O'Reilly took the bump in pay, but he had no interest in returning to the day shift or in supervising the rowdy high school kids that typically staffed the downtown location. In truth, the local high-school crew scared him, reminding him of his life-long feelings of inferiority and isolation. So Radar kept his midnight to 8am routine, Monday thru Saturday. Sundays he could be seen at Johnson's drugs near the town square, reading the new comic books and eating a burger someone else had cooked for a change. Most everyone in town recognized Radar as the McDougall's guy, even if few actually ever spoke to him in person.
|Radar in slightly happier times.|
O'Reilly's involvement with Kolpalski had begun early in the summer of 1961. By then O'Reilly had for the most part given up on the idea of ever finding female companionship. Though he had lost his virginity in Korea, Radar remained painfully shy around women, an anxiety only made worse by the desertion of his first and only wife during the honeymoon in St. Louis. Moreover, his late shift at McDougall's made meeting women difficult, and his reputation as the "spooky" guy who could predict truck arrivals didn't help much either.
In May of '61, however, some of Radar's regular trucker pals began talking about a carhop in Dubuque who gave hand jobs behind the dumpster for ten bucks. "Just ask for the 'dirty bird" special," they told him. While the date of O'Reilly's first encounter with Kolpalski remains unknown, police later estimated that Radar had ordered the "dirty bird" at least ten times that summer.
But on the evening of September 23rd, something went horribly wrong. Still essentially a naive farm boy from Ottumwa, Radar had apparently come to mistake Kolpalski's paid ministrations for a form of romantic courtship. On the evening in question, the lovestruck young man purchased a teddy bear at the Dubuque Woolworths and later presented it to Kolpalski as an "anniversary gift." When this gesture elicited peels of derisive laughter from Kolpalski, a humiliated O'Reilly fled in shame. Halfway back to Davenport, however, something snapped and O'Reilly turned the car around. He parked opposite the drive-in and waited for Kolpalski's shift to end at eight. The coroner's report would list the cause of the death as blunt-force trauma to the head, although for his part, O'Reilly would later claim not to remember the exact details of the fatal encounter.
|Moline's "Hound Dog Lenny:" fired for a tasteless joke.|
Radar's killing spree might have gone on indefinitely if not for the night of October 3rd, 1962. At approximately three in the morning, Amy Carlson--a popular cheerleader and senior at Davenport High--came into McDougall's to use the payphone. She called her father and told him she'd be back home in about a half hour. It remains unclear what happened next, but soon after Carlson hung up the phone, O'Reilly bludgeoned her from behind with the kitchen's fire extinguisher.
Dragging the body back toward his shack, O'Reilly noticed another person in the back seat of Amy's sedan. It was her twin brother Wayne, passed out drunk from a kegger party held earlier that evening in Clinton. Mr. Carlson had in fact dispatched his daughter to pick up Wayne earlier in the evening, not wanting his son to drive home drunk along the winding river highway. In a panic, Radar decided he would also have to kill Wayne. Dropping Amy to the ground, he went to his shack to retrieve his .38 caliber hand-gun and then returned to execute Wayne with a single shot to the back of the head.
|The Carlsons' '57 Chevy at the Davenport Police Impound|
Facing the gas chamber for the murder of the Carlson twins, O'Reilly pleaded down to life without parole in exchange for his confessions to the three "Teddy Bear" murders that summer. Later, he confessed also to the killing of Mary Louise Kolpalski.
On June 16th, 1963, Radar O'Reilly began his life term at the Iowa State Pen in Fort Madison. But he did not stay in prison long. He was shanked by a fellow murderer on August 19th, 1966 and died the next morning. Walter "Radar" O'Reilly was 33 years old.
One cold winter in Germany
Liam Neeson to a conference did go
But a suitcase was lost, he had to rush
Back through the ice and snow
He hailed a plucky Russian cabby
And together they flew like the wind
I dreamt that Diane Kruger wrecked three taxis in Berlin
Out of a coma and out of his mind
Liam sought the ugly truth
So to the plucky cabbie's home he went
To spy, inquire, and sleuth
But soon assassins were at the door
And they were behind the wheel once again
I dreamt that Diane Kruger wrecked three taxis in Berlin
Kidnapped by friends now turned foes
Liam faced a certain death
But the plucky Russian driver stole a cab
And we all held our breath
Metal justice was at hand as rubber tires did spin
I dreamt that Diane Kruger wrecked three taxis in Berlin
provoked by the film, Unknown (2011)
I will not assert that the interpretation of dreams due to dental stimulus as dreams of masturbation (the correctness of which I cannot doubt) has been freed of all obscurity. I carry the explanation as far as I am able, and must leave the rest unsolved. But I must refer to yet another relation indicated by a collquial expression. In Austria there is in use an indelicate designation for the act of masturbation, namely: "To pull one out," or "to pull one off." I am unable to say when these colloquialisms originate, or on what symbolisms they are based; but the teeth would very well fit in with the first of the two.
The Interpretation of Dreams