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"Not My Head!"
December 27, 2004 9:19 PM   Subscribe

"Not My Head!" Drinking games based on movies or television shows are legion, but surely the most epic, erudite, witty, and hangover-inducing is "Not My Head": the "I, Claudius Drinking Game"! Whether or not you've ever seen the 13 part BBC series on which it's based, the rules are quite simple—and since every episode contains plenty of banishments, poisonings, and orgies, you can be sure you'll be working through those bottles of red wine pretty quickly. Dress as your favorite character for extra debauched realness - and remember, you can't tell the players without a scorecard! (Especially when you're drunk.)
posted by contraposto (22 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
(Oh, and if you don't know where the "Not My Head!" reference comes from, catch up on your Robert Graves, watch the series on DVD [with or without the drinking], or at least read up on your Roman history.)
posted by contraposto at 9:20 PM on December 27, 2004


I remember watching this series throughout my senior-year Latin class. My well-meaning teacher would swoop in with a manila folder to block any nudity; sometimes she was caught unprepared, and that was classic comedy right there. "Oh -- shit!" The folders, it turned out, were translucent enough anyway.

My favorite moment had to be when the Praetorian Guard finally explained to the German soldiers that Claudius was the new Emperor. It still cracks me up to see that one guy go "Jaaaa?!"
posted by jenovus at 9:57 PM on December 27, 2004


"Not my stomach!"
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:09 PM on December 27, 2004


"I, Claudius" was simply marvelous. My favorite line? Tiberius to Livia, about Claudius: "That grandson of yours could wreck the Empire ... just by strolling through it."
posted by WolfDaddy at 10:50 PM on December 27, 2004


i feel unusual - the legendary withnail and i drinking game..... just match the characters, drink for drink, as you watch the film. the link is one man's brave attempt to do this
posted by quarsan at 12:58 AM on December 28, 2004 [1 favorite]


I'd just like to report that a) I'm fairly pissed, and thus entitled to comment on all things drinking-related and b) I once flatted with Robert Grave's godson. Rudolph (who was a dedicated heavy metal guitarist with a rather nice Gibson, a beardless face, gorgeous curly hair and a penchant for Paganini caprices) reported that the old man was quite senile but lucid and patted him on the head in a desultory way.

Also, this is a crap game. It still relies on the frequency of events in recorded video. And, "Click here"? Ooh, is that this that hypertext thing I keep hearing about?

But thanks for the post. It reminds me to hit the Penguin section down at the bookshop and actually buy my own copies of the novels. And kids: Robert Graves did a lot of stuff, and I Claudius is the least of it. Consult your local librarian for more information.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:13 AM on December 28, 2004


Also, for those who loved the book or the series, the original book is also tremendous fun. Graves ripped off all the sex and twisted politics and murders from Suetonius and if you've never read any of the ancients, this is a fun and gossipy place to start. It's really a great read.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:59 AM on December 28, 2004


Have the books, loved the series, don't think so much about the drinking game.

The British do make the most incredible TV shows. In my top 10 of all time they have 6 of them:

Life on Earth
Brideshead Revisited
Fawlty Towers
I, Claudius
The Office
Monty Python's Flying Circus
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:46 AM on December 28, 2004


Upstairs Downstairs
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:30 AM on December 28, 2004


The Singing Detective!
posted by muckster at 7:38 AM on December 28, 2004


I saw most of this series in my senior-year latin class too. We didn't watch the whole thing because after the AP test my teacher (who also wasn't nearly as interested in blocking nudity) decided we should watch The Godfather 1 and 2, The Graduate, and probably one or two others but I can't remember.
posted by kenko at 8:31 AM on December 28, 2004


Robert Graves did a lot of stuff, and I Claudius is the least of it.

I disagree. I wouldn't say I Claudius is the best thing he ever did, but it's far from the least; The White Goddess (to name one obvious candidate) is much farther down the list, however many wiccans were inspired by its genial bullshit.

And yeah, The Singing Detective (the original, obviously, not the lame US remake) is one of the greatest things ever put on TV (I went so far as to buy the screenplay). Also, let us not forget Fortunes of War (with the irresistible young Branagh-Thompson combo) and The Jewel in the Crown.
posted by languagehat at 8:37 AM on December 28, 2004 [1 favorite]


Graves' edition of The Greek Myths is one I've always liked-- his theorising is to be taken with a grain of salt, but he's very good about tracking down and comparing the different variations of each story.

And the televised "I, Claudius" was indeed a work of genius. To the canon of Excellent British TV I would add the more recent Spaced and Father Ted.
posted by Pallas Athena at 9:22 AM on December 28, 2004


A professor of mine said of Graves' translation of The Golden Ass that it's improved by the fact that Graves really was a believer in Isis.
posted by kenko at 10:05 AM on December 28, 2004


This is the best idea I've heard for a drinking game in a long while. Time to borrow those DVDs, and get a delivery from the wine store...

singing detective also rocked, but being a classic major, I, Claudius holds a special place in my heart, naturally...
posted by Busithoth at 10:46 AM on December 28, 2004


> Also, this is a crap game. It still relies on the frequency of events in recorded video

Just out of curiosity, i_am_joe's_spleen, what TV- or movie based drinking game doesn't rely on the "frequency of events in recorded video" for its rules or progress? I always thought that was the whole point!
posted by contraposto at 10:51 AM on December 28, 2004 [1 favorite]


If I remember rightly (having seen the series only once, when it was first broadcast in the 70s), Messalina's big "Not my head" moment was immediately followed by a brilliant cheap TV special effect - a camera spin representing poor Messalina's POV! Gloriously sick.
posted by gdav at 11:18 AM on December 28, 2004


You remember correctly, gdav - which is why it's one of those "drain your cups" moments in the ICDG ;) The severed head POV shot (with that accompanying whoosh-whoosh noise on the soundtrack) may indeed be pretty cheap, but you have to admit it must've been pretty sensational for 1976 ...
posted by contraposto at 12:13 PM on December 28, 2004


Is was more than just whoosh-whoosh there was also a glop at the end.

'cause, you know, beheadings, even those you don't see, are messy affairs. Something with which Messalina was, ahem, intimately familiar.

I aspire to be her.
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:10 PM on December 28, 2004


Best show ever: The Prisoner.
posted by neuron at 5:45 PM on December 28, 2004


The White Goddess (to name one obvious candidate) is much farther down the list, however many wiccans were inspired by its genial bullshit. - languagehat

I think you're a little harsh there. I agree that "the White Goddess" has nothing to do with the history of religion or poetry or myth-making or any of the other stuff that Graves said it was about. I also agree that it is astonishingly difficult to read, especially from a man who sometimes seemed to be unable to write an uninteresting sentence.
Still, that book says a hell of a lot about how Graves saw how the world worked (or should work) and for us Graves fans (if no-one else) it's worth reading just to see how he kept trying to hand over responsibility for his talent to an outside force.
I wrote about Graves a little more here (warning self-link) and I mean to write more sometime. His poetry (the example in that link isn't his best, just something I liked that day) is, at times, almost too moving - there is a tension between his use of really precise language and the tenderness he often shows in what he is saying that gets to me very badly. It was very English and, as English poets go, Graves was extremely unlucky - he was very, very good but his contemporaries and near contemporaries (older and younger) were astonishing.

kenko - I didn't even know that Graves did a translation of "The Golden Ass"! That I have to read - thank you!
posted by thatwhichfalls at 7:59 PM on December 28, 2004


A professor of mine said of Graves' translation of The Golden Ass that it's improved by the fact that Graves really was a believer in Isis.

This assumes that the book is really about Isis, which is far from certain.

I prefer Jack Lindsay's translation. It doesn't really do justice to the wordplay and curious mix of high and low speech, but it's at least an attempt.
posted by fidelity at 7:11 AM on December 29, 2004


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